Uncertainty after North Korea announces execution of leader’s uncle
As the shock sinks in of North Korea’s extraordinary announcement of the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle and former protector, government officials and analysts are trying to decipher what the brutal move means. The ruthless disposal of Jang Song Thaek Kim’s uncle by marriage who had, until recently, been regarded as the second-most powerful figure in the secretive, nuclear-armed nation — has serious implications for North Korea, its neighbors and the United States, observers said. But exactly what is going on inside the notoriously opaque North Korea regime remains as murky as ever. ”We don’t have a clear sense of this at all,” said Victor Cha, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who represented the United States in nuclear talks with North Korea. Some saw the execution, reported early Friday by North Korean state media, as a chilling demonstration of total control by Kim, the young leader who came to power two years ago. ”I think what he’s telling people — the United States, South Korea, China, others — is that he is his own man, that you are going to have to deal with him,” said Philip Yun, executive director of the Ploughshares Fund, a nuclear nonproliferation group. More
No US, EU objections to Iran holding nuclear-capable missiles able to reach Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey
US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the provisions for Israel’s security in the future Palestinian state with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in Jerusalem Friday, Dec. 13, just two days after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief Maj. Gen, Mohammad Ali Jafari laid bare an issue embodied in the Nov. 24 Geneva accord.which is of high relevance to Israel’s security. After a lecture captioned “Islamic Revolution against Global Arrogance,” which he delivered at the Imam Sadegh University in Tehran Wednesday, Dec. 11, a student asked the Revolutionary Guards commander whether any of the Western powers in Geneva had asked for Iran’s missiles to be reduced. “We will never do this,” he replied. Asked by another student to clarify his statement that Iranian missiles can reach Israel, Jafari replied: “We are still increasing the range of our missiles, but currently the Supreme Leader has commanded that we limit the range of our missiles to 2,000 km.” The general therefore released to the public four facts already known to Israeli, Saudi and Turkish leaders,say DEBKAfile’s military sources: More
Michigan Lawmakers Approve Proposal Making Abortion Insurance Coverage Optional
LANSING, MI – Legislators in Michigan have approved a proposal that essentially bars abortion insurance coverage in the state unless a woman specifically requests that the coverage be included in her plan. As previously reported, Michigan Right to Life filed the initiative last month, submitting 315,477 signatures to the office of the Secretary of State—well above the 258,088 required. As none had filed a challenge against the proposal, it moved forward to the House and Senate for consideration. “The people of Michigan have spoken clearly that they do not want tax dollars or health insurance premiums paying for abortion,” spokesperson Pam Sherstad told MLive. “This doesn’t have to do with legalized abortions, it just has to do with who pays for it.” The organization asserted that the majority of Michigan residents find it offensive that they should be required to pay for another woman’s abortion. “Polls taken during the debate on health care reform consistently showed strong opposition to the funding of abortion in health insurance plans,” it outlined on its website. “Regardless of their views regarding the legality of abortion, the great majority of voters do not want to pay for abortions with their tax dollars in public plans, or subsidize abortion through their premium dollars in private plans.” More
DAYS OF LOT – GOP candidate for Mass. Lt. Gov. flip-flops on gay ‘marriage’
For Massachusetts’s social conservatives, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back: Karyn Polito, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and former state senator, recently reversed her long-held opposition to same-sex “marriage” and announced she now favors the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples. Now, pro-family activists are threatening to withdraw their support for Polito and her running mate, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, and back political novice Mark Fisher instead. Both Baker and Polito were always going to be a hard sell for social conservatives. Both candidates are strongly in favor of legalized abortion-on-demand, and Baker chose an openly homosexual abortion supporter as his running mate during his previous failed bid for the governorship in 2010. But Polito, at least, had one thing going for her in the eyes of family values voters: She had tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to turn the tide against same-sex “marriage” in the state after a court order made it legal in 2004. “A lot of conservatives … had been supporting [Polito] because of her stand for traditional marriage, despite the fact that she had a pro-abortion record,” explained Brian Camenker, who runs pro-family advocacy group MassResistance. “Her ‘evolving’ on that issue is the icing on the cake for the Baker-Polito ticket, as far as the grassroots conservatives are concerned.” More
Belgian Senate passes bill permitting doctors to euthanize children
In 50-17 vote today, the Belgian Senate approved a bill that would allow euthanasia for children. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for final approval before being sent to the King to be signed into law. Most political observers are predicting the passage of the bill. Currently the law in Belgium allows euthanasia requests for those over 18 and of sound mind, although it is acknowledged that these restrictions are widely ignored. The bill allows euthanasia, with parental consent, for children experiencing intolerable physical pain and who are suffering from a terminal medical condition. Since legalization of euthanasia in 2002, Belgium has seen a nearly 500 percent increase in deaths by euthanasia. Various studies have found that patients in hospitals are increasingly being killed without their consent or the consent of their families. Tom Mortier, an anti-euthanasia advocate and lecturer in chemistry at Leuven University College in Leuven, Belgium, whose own mother was euthanized by one of the nation’s foremost doctors, called today’s vote “insanity.” He pointed to research showing the growing abuses of euthanasia in the country. “You can’t be a little bit in favor of euthanasia,” he told LifeSiteNews.com. “Then, you are lost…. you will open Pandora’s box and this is what is happening in Belgium.” In 2010, research published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that 32 percent of euthanasia deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium are done without an explicit request. A second study by the CMAJ the same year found that nearly 45 percent of euthanasia deaths involving nurses in Belgium were without a specific request. More
Why the universe could be a hologram according to new research
Researchers in Japan have provided some clear evidence that the universe may be a hologram. According to nature magazine there is now “compelling” evidence that the universe as we know it is in fact a projection from a lower-dimensional universe. The theory can be explained in simple terms as akin to a hologram on a credit card. Professor Kostas Skenderis at the University of Southampton explained the concept earlier this year. He said: “The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card, but now it is the entire Universe that is encoded in such a fashion.” The Japanese researchers formed two calculations; one showed the internal energy of a black hole and other properties connected with it. The other calculated the internal energy of the lower-dimensional cosmos. Both calculations matched. According to Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University in California, it was a correct calculation. He said: “They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture — namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe.” More
Disturbing levels of HEART DRUGS found in drinking water, says study, as concern for long term health effects grows
Traces of prescription drugs have been found in far greater quantities in US drinking water supplies than previously thought, a study has claimed. A report on drinking water carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency has found samples of at least 25 different drugs, including medication to treat heart conditions, in supplies coming out of wastewater treatment plants. Medication to treat high blood pressure was not only the most commonly traced drug, but also found in the highest quantities.
Health officials say that the traces of the drugs, which include over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, pose a low risk to humans. But they have also said that there is no credible research to predict the effect that the cocktail of drugs could have on humans or wildlife. Environmental lawyers are now calling for more tests to be carried out on the water supply to find out what the long term effects of drinking it could be. Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center in Detroit, Michigan, told The New Republic: ‘All of these drugs out there on the market are going to be discharged into the environment and we don’t know what the effects are, because there’s no requirement to do an assessment on the front end. ’We’re not trying to scare anyone, but we need to know what these chemical compounds will do to the environment and what are the long term effects for humans.’ The study will be published in the Environmental Pollution journal in the New Year. Scientists examined samples from 50 large wastewater plants testing for 56 drugs. Though the EPA was surprised by the results according the The New Republic, one of the reasons for the high numbers is that better technology is available to trace the tiniest quantities of drugs. More
Japanese Cabinet OKs $53B Stimulus as Recovery Falters
Japan’s Cabinet approved billions of dollars of stimulus spending in a supplementary budget meant to perk up a faltering economic recovery and cushion the impact of a sales tax hike next April. The 5.5 trillion yen ($53 billion) in fresh stimulus approved Thursday is aimed at creating at least 250,000 jobs and is heavily weighted toward construction projects. It also includes 600 billion yen ($5.8 billion) in payments to home buyers and one-time payments of 10,000 yen ($100) per child to low and middle-income families. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the extra stimulus to counter a 3 percentage point increase in sales tax to 8 percent in April.
Parliamentary approval of the stimulus in early 2014 is expected since Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners hold majorities in both houses. Japan’s economy, the world’s third-largest, emerged from recession in late 2012, growing at a brisk 4.3 percent pace in the first quarter of the year. However, the pace of expansion slowed to 1.1 percent in the third quarter as corporate investment remained sluggish and exports were sapped by lackluster growth in emerging economies. So far, the biggest driver for the recovery has been hefty government spending, which is also the type of spending the tax hike is aimed at making up for. The economy may get a boost in coming months as consumers speed up major purchases to beat the sales tax hike. But the government has forecast a short-term contraction in the economy after the higher tax takes effect. Another increase in the sales tax, of 2 points, is expected in 2015. Abe appears to have forced Japan out of its deflationary rut with a growth strategy centered on pumping trillions of dollars into the economy through public spending and aggressive monetary easing by the central bank. More
Is Israel Engineering an Earthquake Attack to Collapse Al-Aqsa and Build 3rd Temple
Ismail Radwan, Minister of Religious Affairs in Gaza’s Hamas government, claims that Israel is trying to cause an artificial earthquake to totally collapse the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to Radwan, Israel is attempting to do so to establish the Third Temple. The comments came at an event organized by female students of the College for Professional Applied Sciences. In response to the supposed “earthquake attack,” Radwan called for a general national enlistment to the military, and to support the mosque by having fixed presence at the site. Radwan said through repeated Jewish access to the Temple Mount, as well as “excavations and criminal acts,” the Israeli “occupation” has “arrived at the stage of accustoming Palestinians, Arabs and Muslim to accept the existing reality so as to implement their goals to destroy the mosque and build the supposed Temple.” The minister blamed peace talks and security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as providing cover for the “criminal acts” on the Temple Mount. Regardless of Hamas’s fantastic scenarios, Israel is facing a real earthquake danger. In October, the Home Front Minister MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) warned that a major earthquake is looming that could potentially kill 7,000 Israelis. Arutz Sheva 7
Heaviest snowstorm since 1953 hits Israel
JERUSALEM (EJP)—The heaviest winter snowstorm in December since 1953 hit Israel, including Jerusalem, Wednesday night and Thursday, prompting school closures and blocking access routes to the Israeli capital. The stormy weather was expected to persist into the weekend, with snow reaching elevated areas as far south as the Negev Desert on Friday. Snow began falling on Mount Hermon in the north. Snow is expected later in the week in areas of northern Israel and the Galilee, as well as in high elevations in central Israel. The Jerusalem municipality sent out an alert that school studies in the capital were canceled. Courses at the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus were also called off for the day.
“Snow in Jerusalem is a cause for celebration for Jerusalemites and the many visitors who come to see the world’s most beautiful city painted white,” said Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat.“We hope the snow won’t disappoint, especially for Jerusalem’s excited children, who are looking forward to it.” Several major traffic arteries were closed throughout the country on Thursday morning, including parts of the tunnel road between Jerusalem and Hebron, and stretches of the Dead Sea road. The Jerusalem-bound lanes on Route 1 were intermittently closed between Latrun and Jerusalem. Temperatures are expected to be several degrees colder than usual for the rest of the week and dropping each day. High winds have prevented flights from leaving the Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv and slowed air traffic at Ben Gurion International Airport. In Tel Aviv, parts of the city’s boardwalk were under water due to heavy amounts of rain. Authorities threatened to close the major Ayalon Highway as the Ayalon River continues to rise. As a result of the snowstorm, US Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled meeting with Israel President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Brenjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday was postponed. EJP
Sun’s Current Solar Activity Cycle Is Weakest in 100+ Years
The sun’s current space-weather cycle is the most anemic in 100 years, scientists say. Our star is now at “solar maximum,” the peak phase of its 11-year activity cycle. But this solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s, researchers said. “None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle. So we will learn something,” Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University told reporters here today (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. [Solar Max: Amazing Sun Storm Photos of 2013] The learning has already begun. For example, scientists think they know why the solar storms that have erupted during Solar Cycle 24 have caused relatively few problems here on Earth. The sun often blasts huge clouds of superheated particles into space, in explosions known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Powerful CMEs that hit Earth squarely can trigger geomagnetic storms, which in turn can disrupt radio communications, GPS signals and power grids. But such effects have rarely been seen during Solar Cycle 24, even though the total number of CMEs hasn’t dropped off much, if at all. The explanation, researchers said, lies in the reduced pressure currently present in the heliosphere, the enormous bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields that the sun puffs out around itself. This lower pressure has allowed CMEs to expand greatly as they cruise through space, said Nat Gopalswamy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Indeed, Solar Cycle 24 CMEs are, on average, 38 percent bigger than those measured during the last cycle — a difference with real consequences for folks here on Earth. “When the CMEs expand more, the magnetic field inside the CMEs has lower strength,” Gopalswamy said. “So when you have lower-strength magnetic fields, then they cause milder geomagnetic storms.” More
U.S. judge orders landmark California cross taken down from war memorial
A massive cross that serves as part of a war memorial on a San Diego hilltop must be dismantled because it has been found to violate a constitutional ban on government endorsement of religion, a federal judge grudgingly ruled on Thursday. The decision by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns marks the latest development in a long-running legal battle over the 43-foot-tall cross, a local landmark that has stood on top of Mount Soledad since 1954 and is visible for miles. Burns stayed his order to give the Obama administration and the association that erected the cross, which have fought its removal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a chance to file another appeal.
Otherwise, he said, the monument must be taken down within 90 days. “This is a victory for religious liberty,” said Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s program on freedom of religion and belief who argued the matter for the plaintiffs in a hearing before Burns on Thursday. “We firmly support the government’s efforts to honor the service of those who fought and died for this country, but there are many ways to do that without playing favorites with religion,” Mach said. The case hinged on whether it is legal for a religious symbol to be prominently displayed on public land and whether the cross violated the U.S. Constitution’s requirement on separation of church and state. The Mount Soledad cross has been the subject of litigation since 1989, when two veterans sued San Diego to get it off city land. In 2006, Congress intervened in the dispute, resulting in the federal government taking ownership of the property. More
Chinese warship, US missile cruiser nearly collided in Sourh China Sea standoff…
A Chinese naval vessel tried to force a U.S. guided missile warship to stop in international waters recently, causing a tense military standoff in the latest case of Chinese maritime harassment, according to defense officials. The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which recently took part in disaster relief operations in the Philippines, was confronted by Chinese warships in the South China Sea near Beijing’s new aircraft carrier Liaoning, according to officials familiar with the incident. “On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official said. “This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.” A State Department official said the U.S. government issued protests to China in both Washington and Beijing in both diplomatic and military channels. The Cowpens was conducting surveillance of the Liaoning at the time. The carrier had recently sailed from the port of Qingdao on the northern Chinese coast into the South China Sea. According to the officials, the run-in began after a Chinese navy vessel sent a hailing warning and ordered the Cowpens to stop.
The cruiser continued on its course and refused the order because it was operating in international waters. Then a Chinese tank landing ship sailed in front of the Cowpens and stopped, forcing the Cowpens to abruptly change course in what the officials said was a dangerous maneuver. According to the officials, the Cowpens was conducting a routine operation done to exercise its freedom of navigation near the Chinese carrier when the incident occurred about a week ago. The encounter was the type of incident that senior Pentagon officials recently warned could take place as a result of heightened tensions in the region over China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. More
What ‘Cool’ Churches Could Learn From Abercrombie & Fitch
If you’ve ever wandered into an Abercrombie & Fitch store, you know about coolness. The retailer markets its line of sweaters, hoodies and overpriced T-shirts using dim lighting, funky music and wall-sized photos of buff models wearing $98 jeans. But the store began losing customers this year when it became known that CEO Mike Jeffries only wanted thin, popular teens to wear his clothes. “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes],” Jeffries said in an interview, adding that he only wanted “cool, good-looking people” wearing the A&F label. His policy has now officially backfired. Upset parents threw out tons of the retailer’s clothes, activist teens staged a boycott, and a guy from California launched a video campaign urging people to give the uber-cool A&F duds to homeless people in protest. All this proved that sometimes being cool is, in fact, not cool—especially when cool becomes exclusionary. When I read about the demise of Abercrombie & Fitch, I couldn’t help but compare the store with some churches I know. I’ve never heard a pastor say from the pulpit that he “only wanted the cool people,” but sometimes we send this message subliminally. In today’s market-driven church culture, cool is the goal. We pursue it in several ways: More
Christians in Malaysia Report Dangerous Levels of Religious Intolerance
Malaysia’s escalating dispute over who has the right to use the word Allah to describe God continues unabated. The country’s Court of Appeal ruled in October that only Malay Muslims were entitled to do so. The indigenous people of the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, who have been using Allah in text and worship for more than a century, and long before the formation of Malaysia, have rejected what they call the “repugnant” verdict. This week more than 10,000 local Iban Christians are gathering in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, for an annual conference. A spokesman said they plan to stage a peaceful protest to remind the federal government to honour its commitment to religious freedom.
Pastor James Ganie, from the Gospel Baptist Church in Kuching, told The Malaysian Insider: “The large gathering has more to do with faith rather than the legal matter that is before the court, or even politics. But we will be making our stand again on religious freedom. The meeting will again ask the government to respect the Malaysia Agreement and the assurance of religious freedom.” The court’s decision was also widely criticized abroad, including by mainly Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, where religious authorities say that prohibiting the use of Allah by non-Muslims has no basis in Islam. The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, has urged the Malaysian government to reverse its decision. More
Putin: ‘We Will Never Allow Military Superiority Over Russia’
The war of words between the United States and Russia over plans for a NATO missile defense system in Europe continued today, with Russian President Vladimir Putin vowing to never allow power to gain military superiority over Moscow. “No one should entertain any illusions regarding their chances of asserting military superiority over Russia, we will never allow that to happen….thanks to our military doctrine and advanced weapons,” Putin said during his annual State of the Nation address, adding that Russia’s strategic nuclear forces were making significant progress on this front with the development of new missile systems and long range aviation facilities.
Putin’s comments follow volatile remarks made yesterday by Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who asserted that Russia would respond with nuclear weapons if it was targeted by conventional American missiles. Washington is planning to complete a project to install a missile defense system in Redzikowo, Poland by 2018 while another ballistic missile defense system in southern Romania is expected to be operational by 2015. Putin complained that while the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program is fading as a result of last month’s deal in Geneva, the missile shield is still being advanced, adding that the system “is only defensive in name” and has “strategic offensive potential” due to the development of hypersonic long range missiles. More
Obama administration may add taxpayer-funded sex-change operations to ObamaCare, Medicare, Medicaid
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one of the most controversial laws in America because of its mandates, taxes, and coverage of elective abortions with a $1 surcharge. Now, there may be another reason for debate on the law’s merits: taxpayer-funded “gender reassignment” surgery. The law may fund costs related to gender reassignment, according to Andi Medici in FederalTimes.com. Since 1981, federal law has barred federal tax dollars from paying for “transsexual surgery” through programs like Medicare and Medicaid. On December 2, the HHS Department’s appeals board decided that the “National Coverage Determination” should be reconsidered, opening the door to taxpayer-funded sex-change operations. Medici adds that Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, conventionally known as ObamaCare, no longer explicitly states that the federal subsidies will not require coverage for transgender-related surgeries. Since the ACA does prevent “discrimination” on the basis of gender identity, however, and the federal government is publicly revisiting a 1981 law preventing federal coverage of “gender reassignment” surgery and related costs, it is possible the federal government will be covering those costs under the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. Anand Kalra, Project Health program manager at the Transgender Law Center, told The Advocate that the Affordable Care Act already provides a great deal of coverage potential to transgender people, particularly because “gender identity disorder” is considered a pre-existing condition, something insurance companies can no longer use as a criteria for rejecting coverage. More
DAYS OF LOT – Australian High Court unanimously overturns gay ‘marriage’ law
In a unanimous ruling today the Australian High (Supreme) Court stuck down the same-sex “marriage” law passed less than a month ago by the parliament of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The Australian Capital Territory is a statutory territory created to house the federal seat of government, and is mainly associated with the national capital, Canberra. It has internal self-government, but lacks the full legislative independence enjoyed by the Australian states. The Court ruled that the Australian Capital Territory’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 was inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and was therefore unconstitutional.
“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples,” the court said in a summary of its judgment. “The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman and that a union solemnised in a foreign country between a same sex couple must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia. That Act is a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage.” ”The Court held that the object of the ACT Act is to provide for marriage equality for same sex couples and not for some form of legally recognised relationship which is relevantly different from the relationship of marriage which federal law provides for and recognises,” the summary said. More
Scientists find giant mantle plume (similar to Yellowstone) under Antarctica
ANTARTICA – A big, hot blob hiding beneath the bottom of the world could be evidence of a long-sought mantle plume under West Antarctica, researchers said Monday (Dec. 9) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The possible hotspot — a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth’s mantle — sits under Marie Byrd Land, a broad dome at West Antarctica’s edge where many active volcanoes above and below the ice spit lava and ash. The hot zone was discovered with seismic imaging techniques that rely on earthquake waves to build pictures of Earth’s inner layers, similar to how a CT scan works. Beneath Marie Byrd Land, earthquake waves slow down, suggesting the mantle here is warmer than surrounding rocks. The strongest low-velocity zone sits below Marie Byrd Land’s Executive Committee Range, directly under the Mount Sidley volcano, said Andrew Lloyd, a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis. “The slow velocities suggest that it’s a mantle hotspot,” Lloyd said. The hot zone also matches up with Marie Byrd Land’s high topography and active volcanoes, Lloyd said. Many researchers have long suspected that Marie Byrd Land sits atop a hotspot, because the region swells above the surrounding topography like the top of a warm soufflé (and it has lots of volcanoes). But with few seismometers sitting on the ice, scientists were left speculating about what lies beneath Antarctica’s ice. More
RADIATION ALERTS HIT U.S. CITIES
A private organization that monitors data from thousands of government and other network points for radiation across the United States issued email alerts today for two western U.S. cities, Reno, Nev., and St. George Utah. The alerts come from the the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center, which explains its mission is to provide radiation monitoring information from hundreds of sites, including those run by the Environmental Protection Agency, across the United States and Japan. The warning pinpointed an area “of concern” in St. George, Utah, where it said background radiation levels more than doubled today from the typical reading. It also named Reno, Nev., for concern, where “the current background radiation level has increased suddenly by more than 200 points from the typical average.” The report said the “counts per minute” at St. George reach an all-time high of 456, where the average is 222 with a normal deviation of 55.
At Reno, the county suddenly surged quickly, although the CPM was only 462, where the all time high reached 542. There the average is 279 with a deviation of 56.2. NETC.com founder Harlan Yother told WND that he’s seeing more and more surges of radiation, where levels rise along the West Coast of the United States, then move across the nation from west to east. This always follows by two or three days a rise in monitor levels in Japan, home of the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, he said. In fact, a previous alert, from Nov. 26, specifically cited the Fukishima, Japan, nuclear disaster, where a power plant was struck first by an earthquake, then by a tidal wave created by the undersea quake. The organization reports that several of the individual reactors at Fukushima melted down and exploded, releasing massive doses of radiation into the air and water. More
Director Who Released Obama Birth Certificate Dies in Mystery Plane Crash
A key Hawaii official in the dispute over Barack Obama’s birth certificate – who lifted state restrictions to allow the White House to present the document to the public – has died in a plane crash. Loretta Fuddy, the state health department director, was the only fatality among nine people aboard a Cessna Grand Caravan that went down at about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday while heading to Honolulu. Richard Schuman, president of Makani Kai Air, told NBC that the other eight people aboard were rescued from the site of the water crash. KITV-TV in Honolulu reported Fuddy had been on health department business. Keith Yamamoto, the department’s deputy director, also was aboard and survived. Makani Kai officials said it was was the company’s first fatality. WND has reported since before the 2008 election on the dispute over Obama’s birth documentation. Fuddy was appointed health director by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who issued a statement in response to her death. “Our hearts are broken,” he said, according to USA Today. “Loretta was deeply loved and respected. She was selfless, utterly dedicated and committed to her colleagues in the Department of Health and to the people of Hawaii. Her knowledge was vast; her counsel and advice always given from her heart as much as from her storehouse of experience.” Recently she had been working on the state’s Obamacare website. When he took office in 2010, Abercrombie, who claimed to have had a relationship with Obama’s parents in Hawaii as a fellow student, vowed to settle the birth certificate dispute once and for all. He finally gave up, however, insisting he didn’t have the necessary legal authority. More
Dent, Faber, Celente, Maloney, Rogers – All sounding the Alarm for what Is Coming In 2014?
Some of the most respected prognosticators in the financial world are warning that what is coming in 2014 and beyond is going to shake America to the core. Many of the quotes that you are about to read are from individuals that actually predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis of 2008 ahead of time. So they have a track record of being right. Does that guarantee that they will be right about what is coming in 2014? Of course not. In fact, as you will see below, not all of them agree about exactly what is coming next. But without a doubt, all of their forecasts are quite ominous. The following are quotes from Harry Dent, Marc Faber, Gerald Celente, Mike Maloney, Jim Rogers and nine other respected economic experts about what they believe is coming in 2014 and beyond…
-Harry Dent, author of The Great Depression Ahead: “Our best long-term and intermediate cycles suggest another slowdown and stock crash accelerating between very early 2014 and early 2015, and possibly lasting well into 2015 or even 2016.
The worst economic trends due to demographics will hit between 2014 and 2019. The U.S. economy is likely to suffer a minor or major crash by early 2015 and another between late 2017 and late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.” -Marc Faber, editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report: “You have to say that we are again in a massive financial bubble in bonds, in equities, in [other] asset prices that have gone up dramatically.” -Gerald Celente: “Any self-respecting adult that hears McConnell, Reid, Boehner, Ryan, one after another, and buys this baloney… they deserve what they get. And as for the international scene… the whole thing is collapsing. That’s our forecast. We are saying that by the second quarter of 2014, we expect the bottom to fall out… or something to divert our attention as it falls out.” More
Could a big earthquake strike the Tennessee Valley?
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) – A recent quake in the Tennessee Valley registered only as a 2.8 on the Richter scale, but are we underestimating the frequency or potential strengths of quakes in our area? ”It’s very disconcerting when the ground starts moving. And very impressive,” says Dr. Jonathan Mies, a geology professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The quake he recalls happened while on a trip to Costa Rica a few years ago. A native of the Chattanooga area, he says that 6.4 is no comparison to the tremor which struck our region Tuesday evening. The Scenic City falls in the East Tennessee Seismic Zone, stretching from northeast Alabama to western Virginia. It’s characterized by frequent, small quakes that are rarely felt. But some in recent decades have been destructive. ”One down near Ft. Payne and one west of Knoxville,” says Mies. They occurred in the 2000s and 1970s, respectively, and each measured 4.6. But prehistoric indications of much stronger quakes has been found in rock formations in the Tennessee Valley. These markings are called paleoseismites. ”They find paleoseismites to indicate that this seismic zone has produced large earthquakes, but before any sort of historical record,” explains Mies. Based on the distant and recent pasts, Mies believes history could repeat itself. ”On the time frame that a geologist considers, you would have to consider it’s capable of producing another large earthquake,” fears Mies. Something that concerns Chattanooga residents Amanda Krumnow and Patrick Jackson.
“We always hear about things on TV that can happen. We’re definitely concerned about our area,” says Jackson. ”Most people don’t have a game plan. I don’t have a game plan. What happens if there’s an earthquake?” questions Krumnow. A legitimate concern since it’s impossible to know when it may strike. ”It could happen soon or it could happen 100 years from now. 1000 years from now,” adds Mies. Mies also says that a dense network of additional seismometers has been used around the country the past few years. Right now some of them are in the Tennessee Valley. The hope is to gather more and more data on activity deep in the earth’s crust where most quakes in our area originate, as opposed to along a fault line. This may lead to the eventual possibility of predicting big quakes. WRCBTV.COM
SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Meteor Showers in Greece
At least two meteors have fallen in Greece in the last 24 hours. Overnight, people in the Attica region observed a meteorite fall. According to the Professor of Geology Efthymis Lekkas, there has been a small meteor shower in Greece over the last two weeks. The professor claimed on SKAI channel, that he has a video from one of the meteors that have fallen in Greece, at his disposal. However in both cases, the meteors have fallen into the sea, not land, as it usually happens when such phenomena occur. GreekReporter.com
Billy Graham Ready to Go Home to the Lord, Grandson Says
BREAKING NEWS: Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, has said the 95-year-old evangelist is close to going home to be with the Lord. Will Graham is the son of Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham. In an exclusive interview at Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, Calif., last month, Will Graham spoke about his grandfather’s frail condition. “I saw my grandfather last week, and he is not doing well,” Graham said, according to Assist News Service. “He’s not suffering or anything. It’s just that old age has caught up to him and is sucking the life out of him.” Franklin Graham recently spoke about the declining health of his father. “My father’s health has declined quite a bit in the last few days,” Franklin Graham told the Charlotte station WSOC-TV Friday. “He hasn’t been able to get his strength back. Vitals are good. He’s just weak and at home.” Billy Graham turned 95 in November, just a month after a hospital visit for tests on his pulmonary system. He has suffered from respiratory problems for years.
Will Graham said though he can walk, he has been in a wheelchair for a long time because it is safer. “On Nov. 7 [with his “My Hope America With Billy Graham” outreach], he finished his race and up until that time, God had protected his health and gave him supernatural strength and now, the only thing left is for him to come home,” Will Graham said. “God has removed His hand of protection, and old age has set in.” Franklin Graham requested prayers for his father this week. “Our family would appreciate your prayers for him that the Lord would strengthen him. He has been so encouraged by the release of his most recent book, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation, that he immediately began work on another book about a subject that he feels God has laid on his heart. Only the Lord knows what is in store as we move forward in service to Him.” When asked how to pray for his grandfather, Will Graham replied, “I don’t know how to answer that anymore. I wish He would give him strength, but I don’t think he needs strength anymore. It’s time to go home.” Charisma
Islamists Slaughter American Teacher for His Faith
Why was Ronald Thomas Smith II, an American teaching at Benghazi’s International School, shot to death last Thursday in Libya, even as he “was looking forward to his first Christmas in the United States with his wife and toddler son?” Most Western media and analysts dismiss the killing as a random act of violence incited by a recent al Qaeda video. However, by connecting the dots and looking at precedence, it appears that Smith’s Christianity, specifically his talking about it among Muslims, was the motive behind the slaying. First consider two facts gleaned from the Associated Press report, “American killed in Benghazi remembered as ‘much loved teacher:’” 1) Smith once had plans to attend seminary, a place devoted to preparing Christians to share the gospel—a crime according to Islamic law (recall the Coptic Christians tortured and killed on the accusation that they were proselytizing in Libya); 2) according to his home church in Texas, “Ronnie’s [Smith’s] greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.”
Then there is the fact that Smith was a “much loved teacher”—a phrase that immediately, if not eerily, brings to mind another very similar story of another “much beloved” American teacher who was killed in the Islamic world for talking about Christianity. On March 1, 2012 in Iraq, Jeremiah Small—described as “beloved teacher and friend” was shot to death by a student, even “as he [Small] bent his head to pray at the start of a morning class. The 33-year-old teacher from Washington State took bullets to the head and chest and died at the scene.” According to students, “Mr. Jeremiah’s hands were still folded in prayer when he fell.” A day before the shooting “a heated discussion” broke out “during which the pupil threatened to kill the teacher because of conflicting religious views.” More
Pope Francis Condemns Inequality Between Rich, Poor; Manipulation of Nature
Pope Francis condemned the increasing inequality between the rich and the poor as well as society’s exploitation and manipulation of nature in a lengthy message released ahead of World Peace Day on Jan. 1, 2014. ”It is a truly pressing duty to use the earth’s resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger,” Francis wrote in his message. ”It is well known that present production is sufficient, and yet millions of persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal. We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being.” He also reminded the public that humankind has received nature as a common gift from God, and that people are called to exercise a responsible stewardship over it. ”Yet so often we are driven by greed and by the arrogance of dominion, possession, manipulation and exploitation; we do not preserve nature; nor do we respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations,” he lamented. Earlier this week, Francis was named TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2013, with managing editor Nancy Gibbs noting that the Vatican leader “really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world’s largest institutions in an extraordinary way.” More
U.S Promoting Divorce as Positive with Billboards depicting “Life is Short, Get a Divorce”
A recent article in The New York Times noted that the nation’s divorce rate — which plateaued for years at around 50% — has significantly dropped — to just above 40%. As almost an aside, the writer mentioned that only one group, the 50-plusers, have seen their rate of divorce surge 50% in the past 20 years. Oops — to this boomer, that is “burying the lead.” Why would only the boomers have a significant growth in marital dissolution — one in four divorces after age 50 — while other ages do not? After all, it’s counterintuitive: Traditionally marriages are most vulnerable to divorce in the first seven to 10 years. Should we see this as a harbinger of doom for 30-year-olds getting married today? We might surmise from these data that the only reason the 20- and 30-somethings’ divorce rate is lower is that they just haven’t lived as long. And, to be sure, some demographers do believe that eventually we can expect the marriages of Generation Xers and millennials to meet the same fate as all of those divorcing boomers. However, I would like to float this idea: It won’t necessarily happen that way. Boomers’ unique social history may make them more divorce-prone than other groups. Why? Baby boomers, those 79 million born roughly between 1945 and 1964, are a specific cohort because of the conditions and events that they both experienced and, sometimes, created. Boomers came of age as relatively pampered children of a great postwar economy. With their adolescent disrespect for the past and their theme of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” they pushed against the restrictive conventions of social life their parents more or less had accepted. More
DAYS OF LOT – Federal Judge Sets Hearing for Texas Ban on Gay Marriage Case
A federal judge has agreed to hear a case filed by two same-sex couples in Texas seeking to overturn a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, their lawyer said on Wednesday. A San Antonio federal court will hear arguments in February in the case seeking to nullify a 2005 amendment that defines marriage as solely “the union of one man and one woman.” The suit was filed on behalf of Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, a lesbian couple who were married in Massachusetts but live in Austin, and for Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss, who applied for a marriage license in San Antonio in October but were denied. The lawsuit comes at a time of increasing momentum for gay marriage in the courts, at the ballot box and in statehouses around the country that have brought to 16 the number of U.S. states that allow gay marriage.
The trend has gained steam since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that married same-sex couples were eligible for federal benefits, striking down a key part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. Massachusetts led the way in legalizing gay marriage by becoming the first state to do so in 2003. A year ago, only six states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage, but the number has since increased due in most cases to litigation over the issue. In Texas, state offices are dominated by Republicans, who stand behind the amendment as part of what they say is a defense of traditional marriage. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican and defendant in this case, is a front-runner in next year’s governor race and supports the amendment. The case joins several other marriage-equality lawsuits filed in other states including Tennessee and Pennsylvania, in hopes of challenging bans on gay marriage in their states before the Supreme Court. Texas is one of more than 30 states that ban same-sex marriage by statute or through constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The state attorney general’s office declined to comment on the suit. Charisma
Top Secret Drone Under Development, Testing at Area 51
A secret surveillance drone is under development by Northrop Grumman, reports Aviation Week. The unmanned aircraft is still classified and is being tested at the notorious Area 51 in the Nevada desert. There’s been no official word from either the Pentagon or Northrup, but Aviation Week says the drone is called the RQ-180 and will go into service in the Air Force in 2015. The drone is equipped with stealth technology, advance radar, radio-frequency sensors and cameras, says the trade magazine. It will likely also be used to carry out electronic warfare. Based on public records and satellite image, Aviation Week estimates the top secret drone could have a wingspan of over 130 feet. The current version, the RQ-170 which has a wingspan of 65-90 feet, has been in use since 2007 and one took part in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. CBSDC
ALERT: Drone strike kills 15 civilians heading to wedding in Yemen…
Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday. The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone. ”An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said. Five more people were injured, the officials said. The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network. Yemen, AQAP’s main stronghold, is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice. Human Rights Watch said in a detailed report in August that U.S. missile strikes, including armed drone attacks, have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen. Stabilizing the country, which is also struggling with southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international priority due to fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes. On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people travelling in a car in eastern Yemen. Reuters
Christian College in Virginia proposing Reversal of Ban on Faculty “Same-Sex” Relationships
DAYS OF LOT – The president of a Virginia Christian college, which will open up a formal “listening period” in January to consider reversing its ban on faculty same-sex relationships, called churches and institutions that believe they have “forever settled” the relationship between homosexuality and the Church “intellectually dishonest.” ”There have been many issues in the history of church that we thought were settled and minds have been changed,” Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) President Loren Swartzendruber told The Christian Post earlier this week. ”The big question for Christians in this nation right now and around the world, is that many of us want things to be stated in black and white and we don’t do well with debating issues that are contentious,” said Swartzendruber. “The world is not black and white. It just isn’t. And people who say, ‘You just read the Bible and you don’t interpret it,’ that’s intellectually dishonest because everyone interprets. Every time they open their Bible, they interpret.” Swartzendruber, who has been president of EMU since 2004, announced on Nov. 18 that the school would embark on a six-month “listening period” where students, faculty, staff, donors, parents and alums will be asked to share input with the administration on whether the institution should reverse its ban. The process, which the president acknowledges “may be a first,” will include one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys. One of the institution’s goals of the period will be to understand where its “stakeholders are on this particular question,” and data that will be utilized to inform the board’s decision.
The decision to open the listening period followed a unanimous board decision earlier this year to consider the issue. The majority of EMU’s 21 board members are appointed by the Mennonite Education Agency, whose executive director is also one Swartzendruber’s close advisors. Swartzendruber believes that no matter the outcome of the decision, it is unlikely to be supported by all of the school’s stakeholders. ”It’s a very divisive issue, the issue of same-sex relationships,” said Swartzendruber. “We will not get a consensus. There is no way that we will come to a consensus any time soon. Whatever decision is made will have to be made in the context of disagreement or conflict.” In June 2014, Swartzendruber will meet with the board to discuss the conclusions of the school’s study. He said that the board may “accept, modify or reject” its conclusions. While “it is too soon to tell” what type of decision may be made, Swartzendruber said that if EMU decided to reverse the ban, it would most likely only honor those same-sex relationships “sanctioned by the church or state,” where there was commitment “for life.” ”In other words, they are covenanted and intend for that to be a life-long relationship and not just something you can move in and out of at will,” he added. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Viriginia, though 16 states have legalized it. More
The Army’s 8-Wheeled Laser Truck Can Burn Mortars, Drones Right Out Of The Sky
For the first time, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command used a vehicle mounted high-energy laser to successfully engage more than 90 enemy mortar rounds and flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) contracted by Boeing, was tested at White Sands Missile Range and confirms the capability of a mobile laser weapon system to counter rockets, artillery, mortars, UAVs, and reconnaissance sensors mounted on UAVs.
The beam control system (BCS) is a dome-shaped turret that extends above the roof of a 500-horsepower Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT). The beam director rotates 360-degrees and uses mirrors to point and focus the beam on a target. The laser beam moves at approximately 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light, and hits targets with unprecedented precision. “These tests were the first in which HEL MD repeatedly destroyed consecutive rounds of mortars and aerial threats with speed-of-light precision and a high degree of accuracy,” Mike Rinn, vice president, Boeing Directed Energy Systems. The recent testing utilized a 10 kW class laser which will be upgraded to an 100 kW class laser in subsequent demonstrations. More
Enormous earthquakes ‘are missing’ from records
The Earth could have been struck by many more huge earthquakes in its recent history than was previously thought, scientists say. Research suggests that half of all quakes measuring more than 8.5 in magnitude that hit in the 19th Century are missing from records. Scientists are scanning historical documents for the lost tremors. The findings are presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco. Dr Susan Hough from the US Geological Survey said: “If you try to make a statistical case there are too few earthquakes in the 19th Century.” Earthquakes measuring more than M8.5 cause immense devastation. Recent examples include the 2004 quake in the Indian Ocean that unleashed a deadly tsunami, Chile’s massive 2010 earthquake, and the 2011 event in Japan. But records before the 20th Century are strangely devoid of natural disasters on this scale. ”Seismometers were developed around 1900. As soon as we had them, earthquakes started to look bigger,” explained Dr Hough. Researchers use historical documents to track down seismic events that occurred before this and assess their magnitude. Dr Hough believes that many large earthquakes in the 18th and 19th Century have been missed. More
MODERN MARS HILL? Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
ACTS 17:16-34 – Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance, God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
First came the Christians, then the Satanists. And now come the Hindus — the latest group to fight for First Amendment freedoms and demand equal display access at Oklahoma’s Capitol. And the ensuing political frenzy is leaving some atheists laughing, calling the quandary “beautiful.” The issue started when state Rep. Mike Ritze donated $10,000 and raised a matching $10,000 in private funds to put up a 7-foot-tall monument of the Ten Commandments in November on the Capitol grounds, Raw Story reported. The American Civil Liberties Union sued to have the monument taken down, while members of a Satanist group, with headquarters in New York, petitioned for their own display, right next to the Judeo-Christian monument.
The proposal from the Satanists outraged some lawmakers, with one saying that “this is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state,” Raw Story reported. So now a Hindu group joined the fray, saying it wanted to erect its own display to further education about the world’s fourth-most-popular faith. “If the Oklahoma State Capitol was open to different monuments, we would love to have a statue of Lord Hanuman, who was greatly revered and worshipped and known for incredibly strength and was [a] perfect grammarian,” said Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, in Raw Story. The group is planning to send a petition to the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission to ask permission to locate a statue of the man on the same grounds as the Ten Commandments monument. The Hindu group said only that the statue would be “big and weatherproof,” Raw Story reported. Meanwhile, atheists are watching with a degree of glee. Raw Story reported that Hemant Mehta, who blogs for the Friendly Atheist, said the state commission is in quite a dilemma: “If the commission votes yes on the proposal, conservatives will flip out. If they vote no, they’re just inviting a lawsuit. This is beautiful.” The Washington Times
DAYS OF LOT: Indian LGBT activists outraged as supreme court reinstates gay sex ban
First there was surprise, then shock, then anger. By nightfall thousands across India had taken to the streets in spontaneous protests against an unexpected supreme court decision on Wednesday reversing a judgment that had decriminalised gay sex in the country. Activists had expected the court simply to rubber-stamp the original 2009 ruling. Now India will rejoin the more than 70 countries – mainly in Africa, the Middle East and south Asia – where homosexual relations are illegal. The reinstatement of a 153-year-old law passed under British rule and based on 16th-century English legislation means “carnal intercourse” between consenting adults of the same sex is once more defined as “unnatural” and punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
Waving multicoloured flags and wearing black bandanas, the crowd of protesters that gathered at the Jantar Mantar, a favourite point for demonstrations in the Indian capital, Delhi, was full of young men and women. “I am gay, punish me,” read one banner. “My love is not a crime,” read another. The crowd cheered slogans of “My body, my rights” shouted by transgender protesters wearing bright traditional clothing. For many the predominant emotion was disappointment. The 2009 decision of the high court in Delhi to repeal the law banning gay sex, known as section 377, was seen as a landmark in the campaign for equality in India. “I was so disheartened by this judgment. It was supposed to be a first in a series of rights for the LGBT in India: property rights, marriage rights and so on,” said Raja Bagga, a 25-year-old lawyer. “It would have been a precursor to a better, dignified life.” Few expected the legal challenge launched by conservatives – including Muslim and Christian religious associations, a rightwing politician and a retired government official turned astrologist – to succeed. The supreme court is known for its broadly progressive judgments that often order politicians or officials to respect the rights of the poor, disadvantaged or marginalised communities. “It’s a tremendous blow. It’s unprecedented for a court with a long history of expanding rights to reduce dignity, not protect it,” said Gautham Bhan, a prominent gay activist. More
Biggest winter storm ever to wreck holidays for millions in UK
Hurricane-force gales and torrential downpours will lash the country at the start of Christmas week, just as 18 million people take to the roads to visit friends and family. Even the 4.5 million planning to travel overseas will be caught in the ‘total nationwide disruption’ as airports, train stations and bus networks completely shut down at the busiest time of the year. Frenzied storm systems are lined up to charge towards the UK from the Atlantic with warnings the resulting mayhem could last well into January. Long-range forecasters said torrential downpours will set in this week bringing inches of rain in hours while 90mph winds threaten to devastate parts of the North with widespread blackouts likely. The horrifying onslaught is expected to start as soon as the weekend as violent gales sweep southwards and torrential downpours bring the risk of flash floods. Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: “We could be looking at the stormiest Christmas in living memory as a succession of Atlantic depressions sweep across the UK.
“There is the risk of persistent gales which could reach 90mph in exposed parts of the North whole gusts of 60 to 80mph are likely elsewhere. “There is also the risk of torrential downpours bringing up to two inches of rain in localised areas triggering the risk of floods. “This looks likely to continue into the New Year and possibly into the second week of January when it will turn much colder with the risk of rain turning to snow.” Met Office chief forecaster Will Lang said fierce winds will begin to batter parts of the UK this weekend. He added: “A vigorous depression is expected to run quickly northeastwards passing northwest Scotland on Saturday. “As this happens, very strong south to southwest winds are likely to develop across much of the northern UK. “It remains possible that more of northern England and parts of Wales could also be affected.” The grim warnings follow predictions Britain could be facing the worst winter in decades with a major big freeze due to hit in the New Year. Experts say temperatures are likely to plunge in January with Arctic gales and blizzards sparking chaos until the spring. More
WAR DRUMS: Japan mobilizes amphibious military unit, drones to counter China threat over islands
Japan will set up a new amphibious military unit and deploy unarmed surveillance drones in its south-west, where it faces a row with China over disputed islands, according to drafts of the nation’s latest defence plans seen on Wednesday. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, ordered the defence policy review after returning to office last December, pledging to strengthen the military and boost Japan’s global security role. The defence guideline and military build-up plan, to be approved by the government next week, follow China’s declaration in November of a new air defence identification zone in an area that includes the disputed isles, triggering protests from Tokyo, as well as Washington and Seoul. The drafts of the two plans were made available at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic party lawmakers and shown to reporters. Final versions of the guideline, which lays out Japan’s policy for the next 10 years, and the build-up plan, called the mid-term defence programme and covering a five-year period, will be unveiled next Tuesday.
Citing Japan’s concerns about what it calls Beijing’s attempts to change the status quo with force, the guideline says Japan will “respond calmly and resolutely to the rapid expansion and step-up of China’s maritime and air activities”. Japan plans to set up an amphibious unit designed to take back the remote islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in case of invasion and boost the number of fighter jet squadrons at its Naha base on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa to two from one to maintain air superiority. One squadron usually consists of 20 fighter jets. It also plans to procure unmanned surveillance drones and establish a unit of E-2C early warning aircraft at the Naha base, the draft said. E-2Cs, routinely used to keep watch in the area surrounding the disputed islands are based in northern Japan’s Misawa base. Japan will also bolster its overall capability to respond to missile attacks in the face of improvement in North Korea’s ballistic missile technology, the draft guideline said. More
Oregon signs up just 44 people for Obamacare despite spending $300 million
Oregon, once touted as a model for President Obama’s health care law, signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange. The state’s exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services. The weak number of sign-ups undercuts two major defenses of Obamacare from its supporters. One defense was that state-based exchanges were performing a lot better than the federal healthcare.gov website servicing 36 states. But Oregon’s website problems have forced the state to rely on paper applications to sign up participants. Another defense of the Obama administration has attributed the troubled rollout of Obamacare to the obstruction of Republican governors who wanted to see the law fail as well as a lack of funding. But Oregon is a Democratic state that embraced Obamacare early and enthusiastically. Its outreach effort, which included a folk-style music video featuring a singer playing an acoustic guitar against a colorful and scenic backdrop, had been praised among the law’s supporters. And the more than $300 million in federal grant money the state received to build and promote its exchange topped all but two other states – the much more populous New York and California. More
Grocery Store Kicks Girls Off Property For Singing Christmas Carols…
VANCOUVER (CBS Seattle) – Two young girls who were trying to spread holiday cheer were kicked off of a grocery store’s property for singing Christmas carols. Ayla Bascom and Kaitlyn Manseau chose the WinCo near their home to give shoppers “a warm fuzzy feeling,” KATU reported. The girls made a sign stating they didn’t want any money and no one went into the store to file a complaint either. Instead, people stopped outside to listen to them sing popular Christmas carols. The girls made a sign stating they didn’t want any money and no one went into the store to file a complaint either. Instead, people stopped outside to listen to them sing popular Christmas carols. The girls hadn’t even been singing for an hour when they were told they had to leave the property by a WinCo employee. “(The employee said) our policy is like we don’t allow carolers or something like that,” Manseau told KATU. “I was like bummed,” Bascom told the station. “We were both depressed that we couldn’t spread any more love and joy and cheer.” Management at WinCo directed the girls to contact the company’s corporate attorney. They left a voicemail complete with a song asking for permission to sing, KATU reported. WinCo’s corporate attorney, Mike Reed, called them back stating: “Winco has no written policy on that – we do as a company try to remain neutral on some policies.” Reed told the girls that he didn’t “see any harm in a couple little girls singing” and gave them permission to continue spreading holidaycheer by singing outside of the store. CBS Seattle
Google’s Road Map to Global Domination
Fifty-five miles and three days down the Colorado River from the put-in at Lee’s Ferry, near the Utah-Arizona border, the two rafts in our little flotilla suddenly encountered a storm. It sneaked up from behind, preceded by only a cool breeze. With the canyon walls squeezing the sky to a ribbon of blue, we didn’t see the thunderhead until it was nearly on top of us. I was seated in the front of the lead raft. Pole position meant taking a dunk through the rapids, but it also put me next to Luc Vincent, the expedition’s leader. Vincent is the man responsible for all the imagery in Google’s online maps. He’s in charge of everything from choosing satellite pictures to deploying Google’s planes around the world to sending its camera-equipped cars down every road to even this, a float through the Grand Canyon.
The raft trip was a mapping expedition that was also serving as a celebration: Google Maps had just introduced a major redesign, and the outing was a way of rewarding some of the team’s members. Vincent wore a black T-shirt with the eagle-globe-and-anchor insignia of the United States Marine Corps on his chest and the slogan “Pain is weakness leaving the body” across his back. Though short in stature, he has the upper-body strength of an avid rock climber. He chose to get his Ph.D. in computer vision, he told me, because the lab happened to be close to Fontainebleau — the famous climbing spot in France. While completing his postdoc at the Harvard Robotics Lab, he led a successful expedition up Denali, the highest peak in North America. More
Experts warn of Major Quake that could remove Los Angeles from the Map
LOS ANGELES — A leading earthquake expert has issued a dire warning to Californians about the expected impact of a major disruption to the San Andreas fault line. The title of Dr. Lucy Jones’ lecture this week to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco was “Imagine America without Los Angeles”. As KCAL9′s Dave Bryan reports, Jones, a Science Advisor for Risk Reduction at the U.S. Geological Survey, says when the “Big One” hits Southern California, the damage could be much greater, and could last much longer, than most of us ever imagined. “Loss of shelter, loss of schools, loss of jobs and emotional hardship. We are risking the ends of our cities,” she said during the presentation. According to a USGS study called the “Shakeout Report”, when a high-magnitude earthquake rocks the San Andreas fault, the damage will go far beyond the collapsed buildings and freeways seen in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
For example, L.A.-area supermarkets now depend on internet systems for warehousing and shipping food to stores, and the food is stored on the other side of the San Andreas fault. “With the development of the internet and the new just-in-time economy, none of them store food on the Los Angeles side of the San Andreas anymore,” Jones said. “So this is one more place where the development of the complexity of our modern society is creating new vulnerabilities as we face the big earthquakes.” Fiber-optics is another vulnerability that is expected to be cut off when a disastrous earthquake hits the San Andreas fault. “Two-thirds of the connectivity from Los Angeles to the rest of the world go through fiber-optic cables crossing the San Andreas fault,” Jones explained. “So we expect at the time of the earthquake when the fault moves, we will break these fiber-optic cables and two-thirds of the data capacity between L.A. and everyone else will disappear,” she said. More
NYPD declares Super Bowl Security Will Be High-Tech And Unprecedented
NEW YORK — You’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again during Super Bowl week. The NYPD is amassing its amazing arsenal of security initiatives to make sure the only bullets fired when the NFL comes to town are by the quarterbacks on the football field, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday. “Parking at MetLife Stadium will be strictly limited and so the NFL is discouraging fans from driving to the game. Anyone who plans to drive to the game will have to purchase a parking permit in advance,” said NYPD Counter Terrorism Bureau Inspector John O’Connell said. By game time the NYPD will have had a full complement of security measures in place for a week, including: police helicopters with special sensors to detect radiation on the ground, a counter terrorism 360-degree camera car to look for suspicious packages, bomb dogs, video cameras mounted as the NYPD’s “eyes in the sky” at various event locations, lots of radiation detection boats in addition to the usual complement of heavily armed cops. “The biggest Super Bowl event will be Super Bowl Boulevard, a football-oriented urban theme park that will feature dozens of NFL and sponsor attractions, including viewing areas, a concert stage and a signature event, the toboggan run,” O’Connell said. Times Square will be on lockdown. Starting at midnight on Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, Broadway from 33d Street to 48th Street will be closed to vehicles. In addition, 41st Street will be closed from 9 a.m. to midnight. More
Jordan adopts Bill declaring Violence Against Israel Isn’t “Terrorism”
Jordan’s parliament has adopted a bill which stipulates that violent action against Israel will not be considered a terrorist act, NRG/Maariv reported on Wednesday. The Jordanian parliament, which was elected following the various “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Middle East and following pressure by the opposition on King Abdullah, is comprised mainly of representatives from Islamist parties who hold extreme positions against Israel. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994. Jordan thus became the second Arab country after Egypt to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Nevertheless, in recent months the parliament has shown increased hostility to Israel. In May, Jordan MPs unanimously demanded the government expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman as a punitive measure after detectives in Israel detained the mufti of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. A month earlier, Jordanian parliamentarians called for the release of Ahmed Daqamseh, a terrorist who in 1997 murdered seven Israeli students during a school trip. Daqamseh, who was a soldier in the Jordanian army at the time of the attack, was sentenced by a Jordanian military court to life in prison. Following these two incidents, Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur assured Israel, in an interview with Maariv, that the relationship between Israel and Jordan will remain stable.
At the same time, Nsur said that the relations between Israel and Jordan are directly related to the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, adding that if progress is made in the peace talks, “Israel will instantly improve its relations with all Middle Eastern countries.” This week, Jordan was part of the three-way water-sharing initiative also involving Israel and the PA. The pact, signed at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, will see Jordan providing 50 million cubic liters of desalinated water to Israel’s Red Sea resort of Eilat. In exchange, the Jewish state will provide northern Jordan with the same amount of water from the Sea of Galilee. It will also see Israel raising its annual sales of water to the Palestinian Authority by 20-30 million cubic meters a year, up from the current level of 52 million cubic meters. Arutz Sheva 7
Bitcoin reshaping future of money
Tech gurus, executives and investors lined up at the ‘Le Web’ conference in Paris Tuesday to predict a bright future for Bitcoin, challenging critics who have emphasized the risks associated with the digital currency. ”I think there is a lot more that is going to happen in the world of money very quickly, and that’s because of Bitcoin,” said Fred Wilson, a tech investor known for his early bets on Twitter (TWTR) and Kickstarter. ”We will now see payments and money flow on the Internet in the same way that content flows on the Internet and in the same way that images flow on the Internet,” he said, adding that this was one of the most “investable” trends he could see. Companies such as PayPal, Visa (V, Fortune 500) or Mastercard (MA, Fortune 500) would not control the flow of digital money, Wilson said. PayPal President David Marcus also hopped on the Bitcoin bandwagon, revealing that he owns bitcoins himself and saying he could imagine people using them on the eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500) platform in future. However, Bitcoin’s volatility would have to come down before it would be more widely adopted as a unit of exchange. ”It’s not a [real] currency and it won’t be a currency until volatility slows down,” he said. More
GMOs cause horrible deformities, birth defects in piglets
When Danish pig farmer Ib Pedersen first noticed the sudden uptick in disease, deformities and death among his farrow, his immediate reaction was to investigate the diet of his pigs to look for possible causes. And what he found confirms what a growing body of evidence also suggests: that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in conventional animal feed are increasingly responsible for triggering birth defects, deformities, spontaneous abortions and other growth and development abnormalities in both pigs and cattle. With 13,000 pigs on his farm, Pedersen knows the ins and outs of how to properly raise swine, as well as what is considered normal in terms of pig health. This is why he grew particularly alarmed when many more of them than usual began to come down with strange illnesses. Besides noticeably lower birthrates, Pedersen observed more of his pigs than normal being born with strange defects like spinal deformities and limb problems, and many more pigs than usual were dying. ”When using GM feed I saw symptoms of bloat, stomach ulcers, high rates of diarrhea, pigs born with deformities,” explained Pedersen to The Ecologist‘s Andrew Wasley, who recently conducted an in-depth investigation into the link between GMOs and animal health problems. “But when I switched [to non-GM feed] these problems went away, some within a matter of days.” More
Why U.S. failed to free pastor from Iran
It was literally a question of life and death, and the answer by Secretary of State John Kerry puzzled the congressman. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., wanted to know why the Obama administration did not even ask for the release of pastor Saeed Abedini, the American imprisoned in Iran, while negotiating a nuclear deal. “They (prisoners) would become pawns to the process and it could prolong it, it could make it more risky or dangerous,” said Kerry. More dangerous? Smith had already noted, “But he is at risk right now of death. He’s been transferred to an even more ominous prison. He’s in a cell with known murderers. He woke up with a knife next to his face.” The 33-year-old pastor was sentenced in January to eight years in prison for spreading Christianity in Iran. He was convicted of attempting to undermine the government and endangering national security by persuading youth to leave Islam. More
Now That Obama Is Allowing Chicken From China, What Will That Do To The Chicken Industry?
Do you know what is in your chicken nuggets? Thanks to Barack Obama, that is going to be a more important question than ever. At the end of August, the Obama administration quietly decided to start allowing Chinese poultry processors to ship processed chicken into the United States. For now, the meat must originate either in the United States or in another country where the poultry population has been certified to be safe. What that means is that chickens from the United States will be shipped all the way over to China, processed in plants over there, and then shipped back across the Pacific Ocean for us to eat. Only a limited number of companies are expected to take advantage of this, but according to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a USDA report that Congress has seen indicates that China will likely be allowed to directly import their own chickens into this country “within a year“. What makes all of this even more disturbing is that a country-of-origin label will not be required on any of the chicken that is processed in China. So in the years ahead you could be eating chicken processed in China and not even know it. More
WARS N RUMORS OF WAR – IRGC Commander says “Israel within Iran’s Missile Range”
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said Iran plans to further extend the range of its missiles, explaining that IRGC missiles are now capable of reaching areas as far as Israel. “We are after extending the range of our missiles, and we have the ability to do so,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said in a gathering of students, here in Tehran on Tuesday. “Our missiles should reach Israel, and our missiles have such a capability,” he stressed. Asked about the country’s reaction to a possible nuclear attack by the enemies, the commander explained one of the IRGC strategies in deterring the foreign threats as the policy of “balance of terror and threat”, and said, “We are making efforts to make the enemy feel the threat, and the enemy has well realized the issue.”
Asked if Iran’s defensive systems could stave off a possible nuclear strike by the enemies,Major General Jafari said: “A nuclear attack cannot be prevented, but the enemies will never make such a folly as they are well aware of our capabilities to take revenge and respond to such attacks not only from inside Iran but also from outside the country.” Earlier on Sunday, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan had also highlighted the country’s high deterrent capabilities, saying Iran has managed to produce laser-guided missiles with increased range. He had also noted that Iranian experts have managed to decrease the margin of error in ballistic missiles to less than 2 meters, adding that ballistic missiles are being guided with laser technologies. “The fixed precision of our long-range missiles has increased to the extent that we can hit every point we wish,” Dehqan said at the time. Pointing to the increased range of Iranian missiles, Dehqan said they are installable on a variety of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Tasnim News Agency
Village in Madagascar hit by deadly outbreak of bubonic plague
MADAGASCAR – A village in Madagascar has been hit by a deadly outbreak of the bubonic plague, medical experts on the island have confirmed. Tests were carried out after at least 20 people in the village, near the north-western town of Mandritsara, were reported to have died last week. The International Committee of the Red Cross warned in October that Madagascar was at risk of a plague epidemic. The disease is transmitted to humans via fleas, usually from rats. Bubonic plague, known as the Black Death when it killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages, is now rare. Last year, Madagascar had 60 deaths from the plague, the world’s highest recorded number. The Pasteur Institute of Madagascar confirmed on Tuesday that tests taken from bodies in the village last week showed that they had died of the bubonic plague. The BBC’s Tim Healy in the capital, Antananarivo, says health officials have now gone to the remote area to investigate. Prisoners on the island are usually most affected by the plague, which is spread because of unhygienic conditions, he says. The prevalence of rats in Madagascar’s prisons means the plague can spread easily. The Pasteur Institute said there were concerns that the disease could spread to towns and cities where living standards have declined since a coup in 2009 and the ensuing political crisis. On 20 December a second round is being held of presidential elections aimed at ending the political deadlock. EP
Klyuchevskoy Volcano in Russia’s Kamchatka spews ash 6 km high
KAMCHATKA – The Klyuchevskoy Volcano erupting in Kamchatka has spewed ash six kilometers high, the Kamchatkan territorial emergency situations department reported on Wednesday. “The volcanic event occurred on Wednesday afternoon. The ash cloud stretched 250 kilometers east-northeast. The towns of Ust-Kamchatsky and Krutoberegovo are situated in the path of the ash cloud,” it said. No ash fall has been reported from towns on the peninsula, according to the department. An orange alert has been issued for the volcano. The Klyuchevskaya Sopka (Klyuchevskoy) volcano, which is 4,850 meters tall, is an active stratovolcano situated in the east of Kamchatka. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Eurasia. The villages of Klyuchi and Kozyryok are located a mere 45 kilometers from it. EP
Geologists express concern about volcanoes in Australia
AUSTRALIA – If the Mount Gambier volcano in Australia were to erupt with the same magnitude that it did 5,000 years ago, it’s impact would reach as far as 60 miles away from the eruption site. Scientists used 3D geometrical computer modeling and thermodynamics—the study of the relationship between different forms of energy—to determine the size and magnitude of the Mount Gambier eruption. It is believed to be the first time the magnitude and size of a volcano on Australian mainland has been calculated, based on volume estimates of the volcanic deposits, and modeling of the volcanic plume, ash-dispersal, and thermodynamics. Australia’s most recently active volcano registered as a size four eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)—a similar size to the Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland eruption in 2010, which caused global chaos. Australia could face the same scale of tragedy if a volcano west of Melbourne was to erupt. “Little is known about the magnitude of eruptions from this volcanic province (the Newer Volcanics) that stretches around 400 kilometers between Melbourne and Mount Gambier,” says Jozua van Otterloo of the School of Geosciences at Monash University. “It has over 400 eruption centers and has been active for at least 4 to 5 million years. Normally the size and magnitude of eruptions of active volcanoes are determined based on observations during these eruptions.
Using 3D geometrical modeling, we’ve shown it is also possible to obtain volume estimates for different deposits of a prehistoric, monogenetic volcanic center.” For the study, published in the Bulletin of Volcanology, the team produced a diagram showing the impact of ash plume as it dispersed from the 2010 Iceland eruption over Europe, but juxtaposed over Australia with the eruption in Mount Gambier. It was shown that the amount of material dispersed during the Mount Gambier eruption was equivalent to the volume of 130,000 Olympic pools. “Magma rose to the surface from a depth of 80 kilometers (50 miles) and a large part of that magma interacted with the shallow groundwater which made the eruption so violent. With an ash plume of at least 5 to 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles) high, the eruption can be classified as a size four eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI),” van Otterloo says. “When and where the next eruption will occur is unknown. That is why our team continues undertaking extensive research in the area. Although statistics tell us it could be a long time before the next eruption, the main hazard is that when it does, we will only have a few days warning.” A similar eruption in the region would cause closure of the major airspace of eastern Australia, health risks from fine ash composed of glass fragments, destruction of crops, and impacts on livestock up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the erupting site and disruption to local infrastructure, van Otterloo says. “Understanding explosive volcanism aids the community to manage risk and provides insight into potential regional or global disruptions including to infrastructure, and impact on climate.” EP
Yellowstone: the super-volcano that could blow up America
WYOMING – A super-volcano under Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is an even bigger threat to the U.S. than previously thought, scientists have found. Researchers from the University of Utah said the volcano’s magma chamber – a lake of molten rock beneath the National Park – is approximately 2.5 times bigger than earlier estimates suggested. If the volcano were to erupt today, scientists predict that the resulting ash cloud would affect areas 1,000 miles away, leaving two thirds of the entire U.S. uninhabitable. The team discovered that the underground cavern is more than 90km long, containing up to 600 cubic km of molten rock.
Prof Bob Smith, of the University of Utah, said: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger but this finding is astounding.” To gauge the size of the underground magma chamber, the research team used a series of seismometers placed around the park. Dr Jamie Farrell, part of the research team, said: “We record earthquakes in and around Yellowstone, and we measure the seismic waves as they travel through the ground. The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material. With this, we can measure what’s beneath.” Yellowstone is the largest supervolcano on the continent and has erupted several times in the last two million years. The National Park is famous for its underground lava lake, which fuels its iconic hot springs. Most of the molten rock lies a few kilometers below Earth’s surface. Smith added that researchers could not tell when the supervolcano would blow again but some are of the belief that an eruption is on its way, despite the volcano erupting every 700,000 years. EP
Doctor: Obama forcing me to close practice
A Kentucky physician is closing his practice at year’s end rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars to comply with the provisions in Obamacare. Dr. Stephen Kiteck has practiced for many years in Somerset, Ky. He recently attracted attention for his decision to end his practice after taking out an advertisement in the local newspaper. “Due to the policies of Obamacare, Stephen Kiteck, MD will be closing his medical practice on December 31, 2013,” stated the ad, which encourages patients to stop by the office to pick up their medical records. “Dr. Kiteck wishes to thank all his patients that have visited his office over the past 20 years, and apologizes for this inconvenience,” the ad concludes. Kiteck told WND one provision in particular led to this difficult decision. “I’m leaving because I can’t afford at this point the electronic medical records and electronic transcribing that’s being instituted to practices. We’re required to do that. If you don’t do it, you get penalized,” Kiteck said.
He said whether he complies with the electronic records mandate or pays the fines, the costs are simply prohibitive. “It’s variable, but it can cost up to $20,000. But it’s more than that. You have to train your staff and train [your]self. Plus, you have to scan all your medical records. I have over 6,000 medical records. These have to be scanned and copied and put onto the computer. That takes thousands of man hours or woman hours, overtime and things like that,” Kiteck said. “So the total costs together, as I say, maybe $20,000-$30,000. It’s just too much of a financial burden to go into right now. I’m approaching 65 years old, even though I’d like to practice into the sunset for 10 more years. But when this came along, I felt this was the best decision to make for our medical practice.” More
James Dobson sues Sebelius over abortion mandate
Dr. James Dobson, the longtime family values advocate who now reaches millions through his Family Talk ministry, has filed a lawsuit against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the Obamacare abortion mandate. “We believe that every human life, from the moment of conception, is sacred and a gift from God, and we cannot cooperate with this immoral mandate without violating our most deeply held religious beliefs,” Dobson said. The case against Sebelius, the pro-abortion former Kansas governor who held parties for late-term abortionists, was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Dobson and Family Talk in U.S. District Court in Denver. The Obama administration is demanding that Family Talk’s third-party insurance administrator provide abortion-inducing drugs and devices to Family Talk employees. Whether the employees want the products is irrelevant under the Obamacare mandate, which requires the provision regardless of the beliefs of the employer and employees.
As a Christian ministry, Family Talk’s self-insured health plan excludes coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices. But the complaint notes that if Family Talk does not comply with the mandate’s requirements by May 1, 2014, it will be subject to fines up to $36,500 per employee annually. “The government has put religious employers to a cruel choice: ‘Abandon your religious beliefs or be fined out of existence,’” said ADF lead counsel Matthew Bowman. “Thankfully, the Constitution and other federal laws don’t allow that.” The Obama administration was asked to provide an exemption for religious employers, but officials defined the exemption so narrowly that workers at Christian colleges, nursing homes, soup kitchens and parachurch ministries are not protected. More
Why Are So Many Pastors Committing Suicide?
In another church tragedy, Isaac Hunter—the son of the spiritual adviser to President Obama—has reportedly taken his own life. Hunter’s death is making national headlines because of his megachurch father Pastor Joel Hunter’s influence on the White House, his marriage troubles and an undated suicide note found last year, but his death is far from the only pastoral suicide in recent months. Just days ago, a pastor who was grieving his dead wife reportedly shot himself in front of his mother and son, expressing that he was hearing his dead spouse’s voice and footsteps. Pastor Ed Montgomery and his late wife, prophetess Jackie Montgomery, served at the Full Gospel Assemblies International church in Hazel Crest, Ill. In November, a Georgia pastor killed himself in between Sunday services.
Larrinecia Sims Parker, wife of the Rev. Teddy Parker Jr., found the pastor in the driveway of their home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Houston County coroner Danny Galpin reports. Why the sudden rash of pastors committing suicide? Suicide is not a new problem among clergy, but three known suicides in less than two months begs a deeper look at the issue. There is no lack of statistics about pastors and depression, burnout, health, low pay, spirituality, relationships and longevity—and none of them are good. According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend. More
IS DISNEY REALLY DIMINISHING JESUS’ IMPORTANCE IN ITS ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SHOW?
Is Disney really removing Christ from its traditional Christmas show — or at the least watering down the traditional story of the Jesus’ life and birth? That’s the claim coming from a number of tips to The Blaze, which purport that Disney’s “Candlelight Processional,” an annual show at Epcot and Disneyland that tells “the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem,” has been amended and sanitized to diminish some of its Christian message. At the center of the contention is the removal of “One Solitary Life,” an essay that has been read during the “Candlelight Processional” since 1976. This overtly Christian text, written by Dr. James Allan Francis in 1926, details Jesus’ life, death and historical impact. It culminates with the following words: “Nineteen centuries have come and gone, And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race, And the leader of mankind’s progress, All the armies that have ever marched, All the navies that have ever sailed, All the parliaments that have ever sat, All the kings that ever reigned put together, Have not affected the life of mankind on earth, As powerfully as that one solitary life.” Considering the cutting of the essay and the tips we’ve been receiving, The Blaze decided to explore the issue further, so we reached out to Disney and asked why “One Solitary Life” is no longer a part of the show. The essay has been recited to complement the traditional biblical story of Jesus’ birth since 1976, making its recent removal more than noticeable. More
Satanic Temple Monument in Okla. May Include ‘Interactive Display’ for Kids, Leaders say Unlikely to Happen
A monument to the Ten Commandments that sits outside the Oklahoma statehouse may soon have some unholy company. Satan worshipers are seeking to build their own monument at the state Capitol, and Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple, said he’s “optimistic” it will be approved. “I really don’t see a grounds which they can reject this,” he told ABC News. The privately funded Ten Commandments monument was approved by the conservative-led Oklahoma state legislature in 2009, and erected on Capitol grounds in 2012. It has riled up opponents ever since, many calling into question the constitutionality of the monument. But Greaves does not see a problem with the Christian monument, as long as it does not stand alone. “I feel that the statue is only problematic when it stands alone,” Greaves said. “It would change the dynamic with our monument there. We aren’t objecting to the Ten Commandments monument, we’re objecting to the monument standing alone.” When asked what the Satanic monument would look like, Greaves said he doesn’t want to “reveal too much about the possible design options,” but hinted that his “favorite design, at the moment, is an interactive display for children.” The American Civil Liberties Union has been less accepting of the existing monument, and has filed a lawsuit seeking its removal. “The monument’s placement at the Capitol has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans,” Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU Oklahoma, said in a statement.
“When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.” But Greaves said he believes a monument from the Satanic Temple would re-assert that “we all have a voice” in this “religiously pluralistic nation.” State Rep. Mike Ritze, a Republican representing Oklahoma’s 80th District, spearheaded the efforts to create the Ten Commandments monument. Ritze’s family also helped pay for the construction of the $10,000 structure. Ritze could not comment because of the impending ACLU lawsuit. Though this would be the first monument of its kind for the Satanic Temple, the group has been active in the past to push public displays of religion. The temple held its first major rally in February to support Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s signing of a bill allowing the possibility of student-led prayer in the state’s public schools. “The Satanic Temple embraces the free expression of religion, and Satanists are happy to show their support of Rick Scott who … has re-affirmed our American freedom to practice our faith openly, allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school,” the Temple said in a February statement announcing the rally. ABC News
Oklahoma leaders say satanic monument unlikely – Legislative leaders in Oklahoma sought to ease public concern Monday over a plan by a group of satanists to erect a monument at the state Capitol. Both House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman suggested that such a plan was far from a reality, and members of the committee that would need to approve the monument sounded skeptical. But a constitutional law professor says the state could be on legally questionable ground if it rejects the New York-based Satanic Temple’s request to put an homage to Satan near a Ten Commandments monument that’s already at the Capitol. The Associated Press reported Sunday about the Satanic Temple’s plans to donate such a memorial. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission would have to approve such plans. ”That’s Oklahoma’s house. It’s not the Satanic club of New York’s house,” said Capitol architect Duane Mass, who serves on the commission. Officials with Satanic Temple suggest that Oklahoma opened the door to other religions when it allowed the Ten Commandments monument, with a sectarian message, to be placed at the Capitol. ”The whole point is that we’re a religiously pluralistic society, so if there’s going to be one, there will be others, or at least we’ll make the effort for such,” said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple. “Or there will be neither. Those are the only real options.” The Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009 authorized the placement of the privately funded Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, and former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law. It was placed on the north steps of the building last year, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed. More
North Korea sells gold in sign of imminent economic collapse
North Korea has begun to sell large amounts of gold to China in a bid to tide over its economic crisis, multiple sources familiar with North Korea affairs said Wednesday. The disposal could be an indication of an imminent economic collapse as it goes against founding leader Kim Il-sung’s order to never sell the country’s gold, according to the sources. “Since several months ago, North Korea has begun to sell even its gold,” one source said, asking that he not be identified. “Overseas sales of gold are a barometer of whether the North Korean economy is in a crisis or not.” It is the first time that North Korea has sold gold since its leader Kim Jong-un took power in late 2011 following the death of his father Kim Jong-il, the sources added. Kim Il-sung is the current leader’s grandfather. According to South Korean government data, North Korea holds about 2,000 tons of gold reserves worth at least US$8 billion. North Korea’s economic situation is expected to worsen following the recent purge of Jang Song-thaek — Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle and guardian — as he had handled all economic projects with foreign countries, another source said. An economic collapse in North Korea could lead to greater economic cooperation with South Korea but also increase the risk of a military provocation against the South, experts said. Info Wars
Iran pushes for Saudi isolation in the Gulf amid military buildup in Hormuz
Two landmark events in the Persian Gulf this week attested to Tehran’s confidence that it has escaped the threat of a military clash with the US and Israel over its nuclear program – certainly in the Persian Gulf. By the same token, Iran is no longer threatening to block the Straits of Hormuz to Gulf oil exports in reprisal for this attack. One of those events, as noted by DEBKAfile’s military and Gulf sources, is the rapid détente between Tehran and the United Arab Emirates. Tuesday, Dec. 10, unnamed Gulf officials announced that Iran and the UAE were close to an agreement for the return to the Emirates of three Iranian-occupied islands in the Arabian Gulf.
The other event was the conspicuous absence of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit taking place in Kuwait this week. The Sultan has been a live wire in the back-channel dialogue between President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani, which led up to the Geneva interim accord on Iran’s nuclear program last month. His absence told GCC members that Oman had chosen to stand aside from Saudi dictates for the approval of anti-Iranian resolutions that would derail the deals struck between the US and Iranian presidents. GCC resolutions must be unanimous. Muscat and Washington were undoubtedly in accord on this step. In sum, two of the most influential GCC members, the UAE and Oman, have set out on an independent path toward Tehran without regard for Saudi wishes or interests. They were talked round into isolating Saudi Arabia by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, during his two-day tour of the Gulf emirates last week. The three islands at issue, Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, located in the mouth of the Strait of Hormus (see attached map) were seized by Iran in 1971, during the reign of the Shah. The UAE has consistently claimed they are sovereign territory and demanded their return. Our military sources report that the Islamic Republic of Iran never heeded that demand and instead, its Revolutionary Guards established on Abu Mussa large naval, air force and missile bases. Deployed there are 500 mostly short-range shore-to-sea missiles capable of blocking Hormuz to shipping, including oil tankers. According to our sources, Tehran is willing to discuss sharing the disputed islands’ future with the UAE, but not to dismantle is military bases on Abu Mussa or evacuate military personnel. More
Nasa FINALLY Explains What Happened To The ‘Comet Of The Century’ ISON
Nasa has finally explained what happened to Comet ISON, the so-called ‘Comet of the Century’ which disappeared above the surface of the Sun. After a 4.5 billion-year life in the Oort cloud at the edge of our solar system, and then a 3.5 million-year plunge towards the Sun, the comet came within 750,000 miles of its surface in November before coming to a tragic end. But something did emerge from the Sun – if not the comet (as was originally hoped) then at least a piece of it. And Nasa has now told us why, and what it was. ”Some remnant of ISON did indeed make it around the sun,” Nasa said. “But it quickly dimmed and fizzled as seen with NASA’s solar observatories. This does not mean scientists were disappointed, however.
A worldwide collaboration ensured that observatories around the globe and in space, as well as keen amateur astronomers, gathered one of the largest sets of comet observations of all time, which will provide fodder for study for years to come.” Nasa explained that the comet “lost mass in advance of reaching perihelion” and “most likely broke up during its closest approach”. Why? Firstly, it just wasn’t big enough. ”The size of ISON’s nucleus could be a little over half a mile across — at the most. Very likely it could have been as small as several hundred yards,” said Alfred McEwen, the principal investigator for the HiRISE instrument at Arizona State University – IE “near the borderline of how big ISON needed to be to survive its trip around the sun”. But there is good news too – Nasa said that while the light show was a let-down, “the legacy of the comet will go on for years as scientists analyze the tremendous data set collected during ISON’s journey”.
Russia may answer conventional attack with nukes
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional strike and sees them as a “great equalizer” reducing the likelihood of aggression, a senior Russian official said Wednesday. While Russia amended its military doctrine years ago to allow for the possibility of using nuclear weapons first in retaliation to a non-nuclear attack, the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin reflected Moscow’s concern about prospective U.S. conventional weapons. Weapons that have been developed in the United States under the so-called “prompt global strike” program would be capable of striking targets anywhere in the world in as little as an hour with deadly precision. Russia, which has lagged far behind in developing such weapons, has described them as destabilizing. Without naming the U.S., Rogozin told lawmakers in comments carried by Russian news agencies said that those who “experiment with non-nuclear strategic weapons” should remember that “if we come under attack, we will undoubtedly use nuclear weapons in certain situations to defend our territory and state interests.” He said that it should discourage any potential aggressor. ”We have never underestimated the role of nuclear weapons … as a ‘great equalizer,’” Rogozin said. Asked for reaction, an official at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels said, “NATO has stated repeatedly that it does not view Russia as an adversary. Last year at the Chicago Summit, NATO leaders reiterated their desire to see a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia. NATO is committed to the principles laid out in the Founding Act of the NATO-Russia Council, and works productively with Russia across a range of issues of common concern.” More
DAYS OF LOT: Man Given 30 Years For Letting Others Rape Adopted Son
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Australian man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after authorities say he and his partner allowed at least eight others to have sex with their young adopted son for money. The 36-year-old man is a resident of Queensland and is not being identified by The Associated Press to protect his son’s identity. The man pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to sexually exploit a child and to conspiracy to possess child pornography and was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, the Indianapolis Star reported His partner, a 42-year-old American who had been living in Australia, was sentenced in June to the maximum 40-year sentence. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sexually exploit a child. According to court documents, the two men became romantically involved in the late 1990s and began trying to adopt an infant boy. The men had been living with the boy in California, where they were able to use falsified records to legalize an adoption, according to court records obtained by The Associated Press. Court documents also said the men eventually paid $8,000 to adopt the boy from a woman whose husband had abandoned her. More
DAYS OF LOT: Rio De Janeiro Hosts Mass Gay Wedding For 130 Couples
A total of 130 couples said “I do” in a mass wedding at Rio de Janeiro’s Superior Court of Justice, marking the city’s first gay civil marriages. In mid-May, Brazilian courts determined that public offices that oversee marriages cannot reject gay couples, even though Brazil’s national congress has passed no law on the matter. Some public offices had already been accepting marriage applications from homosexual couples, while others denied them. An emotional Viviane Soares Lessa de Faria, 38, smiled at her partner and told news site G1 “I’ve dreamed of marrying her since I met her.” Her wife’s 29-year-old son was the couple’s best man. For Giuseppe Laricchia, 21, marrying his boyfriend was about guaranteeing rights. ”We need to have equality compared with heterosexual couples,” he said. More
Pope Francis Is Time’s 2013 Person Of The YearPope Francis has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013. Time’s editor revealed the magazine’s decision on NBC’s “Today” Wednesday morning. Pope Francis, who gained world praise in 2013, became the first Jesuit pope in March 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Managing editor for Time Nancy Gibbs explained the magazine’s choice on Wednesday, calling the Pope “a new voice of conscience.” ”In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time,” she said. “About wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.” Huff Post