China: Another bird flu outbreak/400 Japanese Troops In South Sudan/North Korea nuke restart ‘more extensive’ than expected/Turkish cold snap literally freezes animals where they stand and more signs of JESUS’ soon return

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Disney Christmas Show Too Religious?

Disney’s removal of “One Solitary Life,” a powerful essay about Jesus’ life, from its annual “Candlelight Processional” Christmas show at both Epcot and Disneyland, has raised some eyebrows. While the company told TheBlaze that operational needs and concerns over timing drove the decision to cut the essay, two sources with knowledge of the show said they doubt the authenticity of the claim. One singer who has participated for years in the “Candlelight Processional” told TheBlaze that the cast choir was shocked in November when show producer Thomas Tryon announced at rehearsal that “One Solitary Life” was being cut. “He implied that it was for show flow reasons — to make the show go more smoothly and for timing reasons,” said the singer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

While she said musical changes to the show are nothing new, the singer said script amendments are uncommon. As for the claim about timing, she said there was a sense in the room that the explanation given “was not the whole story.”  The source said Tryon told a different group of singers about the changes days later at a different rehearsal. “This time when he mentioned the poem there was an audible gasp and he responded that this has been the reaction [to the removal of ‘One Solitary Life’] … commenting that, as they were going through the script and making changes to wording, the sentiment behind the poem was one that they didn’t feel should be made in this current environment, which seemed to imply that they were not wanting to offend people,” she said. The singer added, “[Tryon] basically said ‘we’re not taking the Christianity out of the show,’ I believe was the statement he made.”

Iran wants to improve bilateral relations with the United States and other Western powers, President Hassan Rouhani said in comments published in a German newspaper on Monday, broaching an issue he has so far avoided since he took office. Rouhani won a landslide election victory in June promising a policy of engagement with the West and has had regular diplomatic contacts with the United States, but they have been limited to negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. ”We want to rebuild and improve our relations to European and North American countries on a basis of mutual respect,” he said in a contribution prepared for Project Syndicate, which distributed it to its member publications including Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung following approval by Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. ”We are striving to avoid new burdens on relations between Iran and the United States and also to remove the tensions that we have inherited,” said Rouhani, who has promised to reduce Tehran’s isolation and to win an easing of sanctions. More

Mysterious object halts construction of Seattle’s $3 billion tunnel

Deep below Seattle’s picturesque waterfront, a subterranean drama is unfolding. A five-story drill named Bertha has been carving a new tunnel as part of a $3.1 billion plan to construct a highway beneath the city. On December 6th, drilling stopped. Something is blocking Bertha. Could it be a giant boulder; a remnant of the city’s glacial past? Or perhaps the shipwrecked remains of the Windward, an 18th century ship that has never been recovered? The New York Times investigates.

Russian battleships to escort Syrian chemical weapons – military source

Russia’s naval joint force in the Mediterranean will be escorting ships with chemical weapons once they leave Syria, a top official at the Russian Chief of Staff told RIA Novosti. Russia will also provide $2 mn to help with the chemicals’ destruction. According to the latest reports, Russia’s task force in the Mediterranean consists of five battleships: the nuclear-powered missile cruiser, ‘Pyotr Veliky’, the missile destroyer ‘Smetlivy’ and three large landing craft carriers, ‘Yamal,’ ‘Filchenkov,’ and ‘Pobeditel.’ “The decision to provide a ship for the precise task will be taken later, on the basis of the tactical situation in the Mediterranean sea. This decision will be made by the head of the General Staff after a report from the chief commander of Russia’s Navy,” the military official told RIA. Russia is providing the UN mission for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons with an “impressive”amount of aid, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the Voice of Russia on Tuesday.

“We are now literally on the verge of the start of the removal of toxic substances for their successive elimination…The contribution of the Russian Federation to this process is impressive. We have dispatched 75 trucks by Russian military transport aviation. We have allocated up to 2 million dollars in funds,”Ryabkov said.  Russian armored trucks will be used for the removal of chemical weapons from warehouses and military installations in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Monday. According to Shoigu, the vehicles have been delivered to Syria along with other equipment that will be employed in the destruction of the chemical arsenal, including water reservoirs, field kitchens, tents and other things the troops will need during the operation. The allocated money will also be transferred to the UN “in the coming days”, according to Ryabkov. Earlier the UN mission supervising the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal expressed concern over security risks posed by the continued fighting in Syria. More

Computerizing people may be next step in tech

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It’s likely the world in the not-so-distant future will be increasingly populated by computerized people like Amal Graafstra. The 37-year-old doesn’t need a key or password to get into his car, home or computer. He’s programmed them to unlock at the mere wave of his hands, which are implanted with radio frequency identification tags. The rice-size gadgets work so well, the Seattle resident says, he’s sold similar ones to more than 500 customers through his company Dangerous Things. The move to outfit people with electronic devices that can be swallowed, implanted in their bodies or attached to their skin via “smart tattoos” could revolutionize health care and change the way people interact with devices and one another. Critics call the trend intrusive, even sacrilegious. But others say it ultimately will make life better for everybody. Some researchers and executives envision a day when devices placed in people will enable them to control computers, prosthetic devices and many other things solely with their thoughts. “In the next 10 to 20 years we will see rapid development in bioengineered and man-machine interfaces,” predicted Graafstra, who wrote a book about the technology, adding that the trend is going to “push the boundaries of what it means to be human.”

Many large technology companies and researchers are keenly interested in the topic. In a patent application made public in November, Google’s Motorola Mobility branch proposed an “electronic skin tattoo” for the throat — with a built-in microphone, battery and wireless transceiver — that would let someone operate other devices via voice commands. When asked, Google said it often seeks patents on employee brainstorms and that, while “some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t.” But Google CEO Larry Page apparently is intrigued with enhancing people electronically. A 2011 book about the Mountain View search giant quoted him saying, “Eventually you’ll have an implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer.” Similar notions are under study by others, including UC Berkeley researchers. In a scholarly paper published in July, they proposed implanting people’s brains with thousands of tiny sensors they called “neural dust.” The idea initially is to have the little circuits gather detailed data on brain functions. But eventually, lead researcher Dongjin Seo said, the electronic swarms may prove useful for “controlling devices via thought” or stimulating malfunctioning brain regions to restore “limb motor control for paralyzed patients.” More

Hundreds of thousands still without power across Toronto and Eastern Canada 48 hours after massive ice storm

Thousands of people in three provinces may spend Christmas in the dark, as the ice storm that downed wires, damaged trees and left hundreds of thousands without power in central Canada battered the Maritimes with freezing rain into Monday evening. Residents of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have spent the past few days struggling to keep warm, checking on neighbours, clearing broken branches, playing ice hockey on the street, and waiting for crews working round the clock to restore power to more than 195,000 homes in Toronto, 58,000 in Ontario, almost 40,000 in Quebec and 44,000 in New Brunswick. Most have gone without power since Saturday evening, when ice pellets started to fall on Ontario, coating trees in glistening ice. As continued freezing rain saw the number of power outages surge in New Brunswick Monday evening, many in Ontario came back on line, with crews in Toronto returning power to more than 85,000 customers, Toronto Hydro said. However, the majority who lost power in Canada’s largest city still do not have it back.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who refused to declare a state of emergency despite pressure from counsellors, said although the worst of the storm is over, some people may have to go without power until Boxing Day. “We will be working Christmas Day, we will be working Boxing Day, we will be working every day” until power is restored and branches are cleaned up, he said Monday afternoon. In Quebec’s Eastern Townships, 29,510 customers in Éstrie and 7,997 in Montérégie lost power. It was mostly snow in Quebec, although the Ontario border city of Cornwall saw 15 millimetres of pure ice pellets — an unusual and extremely heavy amount. The Toronto region was the hardest hit, with some surrounding cities and communities facing major blackouts. Christmas has been cancelled for 300 Hydro One workers, who were called back from vacation. Restoring power is a long and slow process as it involves navigating dangerous live wires and trimming icy tree branches. Every Toronto Hydro worker was put to work. “Devastating is not too strong a word to use,” said David Ryan, the mayor of Pickering, Ont., near Toronto, where there were more than 9,000 outages and significant damage.

Cracks form in levee around Bayou Corne sinkhole

The protective levee ringing the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole in Assumption Parish has redeveloped cracks for a second time in less than two months amid an intensive wave of underground micro-tremors, parish officials said. The cracks have formed along the southern levee, or berm, near the Bayou Corne waterway and in the same area where a previous round of cracks developed in late October, officials said. The cracking at that time, which has since been repaired, coincided with some sinking of the levee in that area. The earth-and-limestone levee keeps the 26-acre sinkhole’s salty and at times oily contents from invading and killing the freshwater swamps surrounding the lake-like sinkhole. The sinkhole appeared in August 2012 in swamps between the Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne communities after part of the supporting wall of a salt dome cavern operated by Texas Brine Co. collapsed deep underground. The sinkhole has taken an oval shape with the longer ends focused along growth zones moving toward the northeast and southwest, or toward La. 70 and the Bayou Corne waterway. The most recent projections do not suggest the sinkhole will reach either, but the sinkhole is edging closer to the southern levee just north of Bayou Corne, according to Texas Brine planning and survey documents filed with the state Department of Natural Resources. More

Americans Brawl Over New Air Jordan Sneakers

If you thought that shameful scenes of Americans squabbling over consumer goods were restricted to black Friday, think again. Footage shows people across the country brawling over the release of new Air Jordan 11 sneakers. The mayhem started a week before the shoes even went on sale. Footage taken outside Champs Sports at Eastland Mall in Columbus, Ohio shows a rush of people breaking down a glass door merely to obtain vouchers that would allow them to purchase the $170 trainers. The footage below, shot at Weberstown mall in Stockton, California, shows a fist fight breaking out over the shoes, with staff desperately attempting to quell the violence.
Thousands of self-service “robo-doctor” kiosks are currently being installed inside Wal-Marts across America which collect personal information and promote Obamacare through a health screening loaded with advertisements.  The SoloHealth Station asks users personal health questions and for their contact information which is then forwarded to a local Obamacare navigator. Users are prompted for their date of birth, the number of vegetables they eat in a day and to describe how often their families use social media, amongst other things. During the health screening, the machine displays advertisements targeted at the user based on the answers provided. “Users enter their age, gender and ethnicity and during the screening process they are asked a series of lifestyle and behavioral questions,” a SoloHealth video for advertisers states.

“This approach allows hyper-targeting of your messages [advertisements.]” Some of the advertisements are for over-the-counter medications such as Prilosec and Zyrtec and the kiosk will likely push even more medications in the future. “It is clear there are now many interactive mechanisms that can step the consumer through the process of self-diagnosis and medication selection,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at a public hearing in 2012. After the screening, users can then search for a primary care doctor by their zip code. Interestingly, when Infowars Nightly News host Jakari Jackson searched for a doctor using heavily-populated zip codes, no doctors were found. These machines appear to be more effective at getting people enrolled in Obamacare than they are at actually helping people find doctors.

DAYS OF LOT – ‘Co-Parenting’: Latest Societal Trend Exemplifies Continued Breakdown of Family Structure

Demographers are noting the rise of “co-parenting”—a new movement involving contract-based parenting that is challenging the definition of family. The rise of co-parenting is largely due to the Internet, where numerous websites allow individuals to meet a parent online. Co-parenting allows unmarried people to find other individuals who are willing to have children together. Today, co-parenting is largely popular among homosexual men and women who want to have children. However, co-parenting also appeals to individuals who want to experience parenthood without the “trouble” of committed, long-term marriage relationships. Normally, co-parent hopefuls browse online databases, looking for another person who would match their interests and personalities. Overall, the premise behind co-parenting is that parenthood does not have to be based on love and commitment, but can instead be founded upon a contract where both parents share child-rearing responsibilities.  “All a child needs to develop and grow is attention, encouragement and love,” says Ivan Fatovic, founder of one of today’s most popular co-parenting sites. “A modern family unit can provide that as well a traditional one. We’re all looking for healthy, happy, and balanced children.” More

DAYS OF LOT – Lesbian United Methodist Ministers ‘Wed’ in Seattle Despite Possible Church Discipline

SEATTLE – Two United Methodist ministers recently ‘wed’ each other in a ceremony in Seattle, Washington despite the possibility that they could face disciplinary action for violating Church law. Joanne Carlson Brown, 60, of Tibbetts United Methodist Church and Christie Newbill, 65, of Woodland Park United Methodist Church tied the knot at a ceremony at Brown’s church on December 7th. District Superintendent Patricia Simpson officiated the ceremony, which was attended by approximately 300 supporters. “Our marriage is our statement for declaring to our friends and family, in the presence of God, our love and commitment for one another,” Brown told the United Methodist News Service. “I never considered this as [a statement] against the United Methodist Church.” Simpson said that she prayed about officiating the ceremony before she agreed to perform the union.  “We don’t do these things casually,” she told local television station KING 5. “I believe it was a faithful decision.” However, the Book of Discipline outlines that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained as ministers in the denomination. It also forbids ministers from hosting or participating in “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” Consequently, Brown and Newbill—as well as Simpson—could be disciplined or defrocked for violating Church doctrine. More
 
President Barack Obama, as signaled earlier in the year, signed an executive order on Monday setting federal civilian and military pay rates for 2014, and including the first raise for civilian workers in four years. Military and civilian employees will get a 1 percent raise in the new year, consistent with the level laid out in Obama’s earlier budget proposal. The order had to be signed before January 1 to allow federal agencies to update their pay systems for the new year. Congress could have declined to authorize the increases on at least two occasions in recent months, including when lawmakers passed a two-year budget agreement earlier this month, but chose not to intervene. Federal civilian workers have had their pay frozen for three years.

Military employees have received a salary increase each year that Obama has been in office, the White House said. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic Whip in the House of Representatives, praised the move as a “modest but important step” against the background of an improving economy. Revised figures last week showed economic growth in the United States was an annualized 4.1 percent in the third quarter, the strongest since the final three months of 2011. ”In the case of federal civilian employees … given that these hardworking public servants have already contributed nearly $114 billion toward deficit reduction and some were furloughed as a result of the shutdown and the sequester, it is long overdue,” Hoyer said. Employee unions have praised the increase as a small first step toward relief for the mostly middle-class workers on the federal payroll. Still, those workers continue to lose ground in real terms. The latest annual inflation rate for the United States was 1.2 percent for the 12 months ended November 2013. For calendar 2012 the rate was 2.1 percent. Yahoo News

Twitter Blocks ‘#iStandWithPhil.com’ Supporting ‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Phil Robertson Following A&E Suspension

DAYS OF LOT – Social network giant Twitter has reportedly blocked users from tweeting the phrase “iStandWithPhil.com,” a hashtag representing the petition drive to have Phil Robertson reinstated to A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” reality show. Robertson was indefinitely suspended from the show last week after he described homosexuality as a sin in an interview with GQ Magazine. Faith Driven Consumer, an organization that connects Christian consumers with faith-compatible companies, announced Monday that Twitter has reportedly blocked use of the “iStandWithPhil.com” hashtag, and implores all followers of the petition to contact Twitter’s customer support account to have the phrase reinstated to the social media network. Since the Twitter campaign for Robertson was started four days ago, it has garnered nearly 200,000 supporters.

“Despite Twitter’s shut down of iStandWithPhil.com, we are surging through 200,000 supporters. In recent days, iStandWithPhil.com is among the top trending hash tags on Twitter,” Chris Stone, Founder of Faith Driven Consumer, said in a press release issued by the organization. “We’re encouraging supporters to be heard, Tweet the @support or @twitter account, and use their other means of communication to get iStandWithPhil.com back online.” Users on the social network are still able to tweet “#iStandWithPhil,” but when they attempt to tweet “iStandWithPhil.com” a message appears that reads: “Oops! A URL in your tweet appears to link to a page that has spammy or unsafe content.” The press release issued by Faith Driven Consumer also states that a Google diagnostic test of their petition’s webpage, iStandWithPhil.com, shows the website has not been flagged as suspicious or hosting malicious software within the past 90 days. The “iStandWithPhil” petition requests A&E reinstate Robertson to the “Duck Dynasty” reality show, stating: “As a Faith Driven Consumer, I am signing this petition to demand that my views be treated with equality and respect in America’s rich rainbow of diversity.”More

14 dead, 130 injured as explosion destroys police office in Egypt

BREAKING NEWS:  Explosions at a police headquarters in Mansoura, Egypt, early Tuesday morning killed at least 14 people and injured 130, according to Egypt’s health ministry. According to the state health ministry, multiple explosions at a security directorate in Mansoura, capital of the Daqahliya province in northern Egypt, occurred early Tuesday, Al-Ahram reported. Most of the dead were among police agents inside the partially collapsed five-floor building, AP reported. Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi labeled the attack a “terrorist incident,” saying those responsible “will not escape justice,” according to AP. The head of the security directorate was among those injured, Daqahliya governor Omar El-Shawadfy told Egypt state television.More
“I hate how the LGBT community says it’s all about ‘love’ and ‘equality,’” she continued. “However, if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, they spread the most hate. It is so hypocritical it makes my stomach turn. They need to learn how to respect others’ opinions and not just jump to the conclusion that everyone who doesn’t support homosexuality and gay marriage is homophobic.” Bristol Palin is making essentially the same argument as her mother, Sarah Palin, who said on Facebook last week, ““Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.” More

Many believe Santa actually appeared at Jesus’ birth

Did you know the Bible features Santa Claus and that he made an appearance at the manger in Bethlehem? No? To be clear, the writers of the Bible didn’t know it, either. But that doesn’t mean people won’t believe such statements about Christmas, including that Jesus never cried as a baby and that his birthday is Dec. 25. The results come from a poll on which the London Telegraph reported. The survey found that one in 10 young adults in Britain believes Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as he is often known in the U.K., makes an appearance in the Bible. Significant numbers also think that Mary and Joseph might have “brightened up the stable with a Christmas tree.” The report said more than one third of the polled population thinks that the Bible records Dec. 25 as the date of the Jesus’ birth. And, the Telegraph said a quarter appear to have confused the lyrics of “Away in a Manger” with the Gospels by believing that the Bible states Jesus didn’t cry when he was born.

According to the Christian Institute, which had ComRes do the survey of some 2,000 people, “A whopping 84 percent of the public believes that three kings visited Jesus, despite the Gospels only mentioning ‘wise men from the East.’” “Unsurprisingly perhaps, it is the older generation who fare better in their knowledge of the biblical Christmas story, given that almost half of those over 65 said they were taught ‘a lot’ about the Bible, while only 21 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds said the same,” the Christian Institute reported. “Seven percent of the public think Christmas trees – introduced in Britain’s Victorian era – are in the Bible, a proportion which nearly doubles among 18 to 35-year-olds.” The poll, said the Christian Institute Director Colin Hart, “shows a worrying lack of knowledge about our country’s Christian heritage that has shaped our history, institutions and laws, even who we are and our values.” It found 12 percent of Londoners believe the Bible features Father Christmas. A full 1 in 10 of the government workers say Santa Claus made an appearance at Jesus’ birth. More

NSA slayer calls for firings at CNN

The attorney whose case produced a judge’s ruling that the National Security Agency’s personal phone-data-collection program likely is unconstitutional is asking CNN to remove two on-air personalities after a “hit piece” against him. Larry Klayman said in a statement Monday he has sent a “respectful demand” to CNN CEO Jeff Zucker to “take appropriate action, as MSNBC was forced to do with Martin Bashir.” Bashir, who hosted his own show, resigned amid negative public reaction to his statement that someone should dump excrement on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Klayman, founder of the government watchdog group Freedom Watch, was on CNN Dec. 17 with host Don Lemon and legal expert Jeffrey Toobin a day after the judge’s ruling. In a WND commentary, Klayman called the CNN figures “low-class mouthpieces” of the Obama administration who carried out a “hit piece designed to attack my character and reputation.”

“I accepted an interview proposal from Don Lemon on CNN. My appearance Tuesday night was preceded by a profile of me that included disparaging remarks from Bradley Blakeman, the lead-in to Lemon’s hit piece and someone I was forced to sue for improperly using Freedom Watch’s name and forming another group not coincidentally named ‘Freedom’s Watch’ – a front public interest group set up for Sheldon Adelson to run interference for George W. Bush and David Petraeus during the Iraq war to try and sell the ‘surge.’ Not surprisingly, the group shut down after Bush left office, and Blakeman, while a self-proclaimed strategist for MSNBC and CNN, now works with Al Jazeera, the network born out of love and respect for shariah law, which obtained and aired tapes from terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, while protecting their whereabouts.” More

DAYS OF LOT – Woman has sex with student 5 times in week

A Pennsylvania English teacher is charged institutional sexual assault for allegedly having sex five times in the past week with an 18-year-old male student.  Lauren Harrington-Cooper, 31, from Plymouth, Pa., is an instructor at Wyoming Valley West High School. She’s accused of performing oral sex on the senior three times and having intercourse with him twice. A probable-cause affidavit indicates the sister of the alleged victim told her brother that Harrington-Cooper said he was “hot” on Dec. 13. The sister subsequently gave him the teacher’s phone number. Harrington-Cooper and the student began texting each other later that day and agreed to “hang out.” She began to pick him up in front of his house or around the corner. The parents of the alleged victim discovered their son had a “sexually explicit conversation” with a teacher after he borrowed his mother’s laptop and used the free texting website Pinger. The affidavit also says the teacher admitted she knew the alleged victim was a senior at the school in Plymouth and admitted to picking him up and driving around with him. More
A federal judge on Monday blocked a request by Utah officials to halt same-sex weddings, allowing gay marriage to continue in the conservative state following a surprise court decision last week.  Judge Robert J. Shelby, who blocked the request on Monday, overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage this past Friday. In a decision Utah officials claim has caused chaos in the state, he ruled the voter-approved measure is a violation of gay couples’ constitutional rights. The decision sent couples flocking to county clerk offices for marriage licenses. About 125 gay couples obtained marriage licenses Friday in Salt Lake City, and Clerk Sherrie Swensen said her office issued a similar number Monday morning. An estimated 100 licenses were issued in other counties, while some county clerks shut their doors as they awaited Shelby’s decision.  The state has tried to shut the license process down, and lawyers said they would now ask a higher court to put gay marriage on hold.  ”I want all Utahns to understand I am committed to advancing this issue through the judicial system as we work toward a clear and understandable resolution,” Republican Gov. Gary R. Herbert said in a statement. “I recognize that this is a highly emotional issue with people of goodwill on both sides of the debate. I encourage everyone to remain respectful of one another and of the legal process.”

Russia to Test-Fly New Bomber in 2019

The Russian Air Force plans to begin test flights of a new strategic bomber in 2019, the commander of the long-range fleet said Monday. “Work on the bomber has been ongoing for less than a year, but the planning stage is now complete. Development work will begin in 2014, and the first test flights are scheduled for 2019. I think the aircraft should enter service in 2025,” Anatoly Zhikharev said in comments aired by television news network Rossiya-24. The new bomber, known as PAK-DA (an acronym meaning “future long-range aircraft”), is planned to carry hypersonic missiles, a source told RIA Novosti in August.

The bomber is also to feature modern stealth technology and be built by the Tupolev company in the Russian city of Kazan. Zhikharev added that the air force’s existing long-range bombers would be overhauled with advanced avionics and electronic warfare systems in a two-stage process. Two Tu-160s have already been upgraded and are now entering service. Russia’s strategic bomber force comprises one leg of its nuclear triad and consists of 63 Tu-95 variants and 13 supersonic Tu-160s, which combined can carry more than 850 cruise missiles. Russia also flies the intermediate-range Tu-22M, which will be included in the modernization program, Zikharev said. The Tu-95MC is expected to remain in service until at least 2040. The Tu-95 first flew in the Soviet Union in 1956 and is powered by four NK-12 engines based on a Nazi wartime project and the most powerful propeller engine ever built. Russia will also field a new tanker aircraft in 2018, Zhikharev said. RIANOVOSTI

BREAKING NEWS – India today test-fired its nuclear-capable Agni-III ballistic missile with a strike range of more than 3,000 km as part of a user trial by the Army from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast, defence sources said. The operation of the surface-to-surface missile was carried out by the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army with logistic support from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Press Trust of India

Mystery dust blankets southeast Texas

We received hundreds of calls, emails, Facebook posts and tweets about your dirty cars on Sunday. Why were your cars dirty? A red dust was to blame, and we worked to track down the source and solve the mystery. “It’s very strange to see all this red dirt on the cars, and I’ve seen on many cars in front of me,” Naveed Saqiab said while waiting in line at an area car wash. Many folks tell us they woke up to find the mystery dust all over their cars this morning. “It was weird; it looked like gold, brown, something, but I don’t know what it is,” J.C. Inestrosa said. Lines at car washes across our viewing area were long Sunday as everyone rushed to wash off the dust. We went to one car wash near Rice Village and talked to a few people who were waiting. “My car was so dirty and I had to come up here, but I was not expecting this. I was not expecting this,” Shantel Perkins said. “This is the first time I’ve really seen it this packed so coming up here I was pretty much shocked.” “When I came up to here, I didn’t know what it was going to be like this,” Lawrence Danner said. “I’ve been to this car wash before, but it’s like a club scene. Everyone’s out here trying to get their car wash and everything.”

From Sugar Land to Spring, it seemed like everyone was talking about the mystery dust. Even on social media. “I was on Twitter and they were talking about it on Twitter as well and social media, so I don’t know what it was, really,” Danner said. Some folks tell us they think they know what it could be. “Maybe dust. I don’t know. Maybe pollution? I don’t have any idea,” Carla Tello said. “It’s just, like, mud from the construction and stuff,” another woman said. Others say they may have even seen it before. “Only when we have pollen coming from the trees, that’s what it looks like. But it’s just not the right time of year,” John Stone said. Considering the time of year, perhaps Saqiab has the right idea and the answer to solve the mystery: “Maybe some sand from Santa,” he suggested. “Maybe that’s where it’s coming from.” More

Turkish cold snap literally freezes animals where they stand

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It appears that Turkey is one of the few parts of the world that gets so cold it’s not an exaggeration to say, “It’s freezing out here.” The video below depicts some donkeys found in a small village that have cartoonishly frozen in place due to the extreme cold weather and snow – a phenomena we thought only possible in Christmas-time claymation films, and the closest thing we know of to the exact opposite of China’s hellish summer heatwave that caused cars to explode.  It appears that Turkey is one of the few parts of the world that gets so cold it’s not an exaggeration to say, “It’s freezing out here.” The video below depicts some donkeys found in a small village that have cartoonishly frozen in place due to the extreme cold weather and snow – a phenomena we thought only possible in Christmas-time claymation films, and the closest thing we know of to the exact opposite of China’s hellish summer heatwave that caused cars to explode.

An Atheist Encounters God

Growing up in rural Alabama in the 1960s, Dr. Reggie Anderson’s childhood sounds like a script from a Hallmark movie. He was raised in a Christian home, and life on the farm was innocent and honest. God was as real to him as the clay beneath his feet, he says. But the feel-good story of his life turned into a horror movie one sizzling summer day in 1973. After a gang of escaped convicts brutally murdered six unsuspecting members of Anderson’s extended family, the heart and soul of the entire community was ravaged. Everyone and everything went into lockdown. The once-open doors, trusting hearts and willing faith of the community were latched and dead-bolted shut.
A teenager at the time, Anderson began wrestling deeply with God. “In my mind and heart, God began to shrink,” he writes in his book Appointments With Heaven, which chronicles his struggle with gut-level honesty. “It was suddenly so obvious to me. He didn’t care because He wasn’t there!” Soon Anderson stopped attending church and headed for college, where he decided to become a doctor. “It was a point where I consciously decided to become an atheist and started worshipping at the school of science,” he says.
But his interest in God was slowly revived when some Christian friends began to study religion with him. He went camping one weekend to enjoy a bit of nature and sort out his thoughts—but he never made it into his tent that night. After a day of hiking, he did some reading and fell into a deep sleep, finding himself in a dream like no other. His senses took on the kind of otherworldly qualities you hear about in near-death encounters, like ultrasaturated colors and aromatic scents. Suddenly the family that had been killed appeared to him.
“They didn’t speak with words,” Anderson says, but they somehow communicated to him they were in a world of paradise and had no regrets. And then came the ultimate healing. Like a father welcoming his prodigal son into his arms, Jesus appeared as a brilliant presence with an ageless and raceless form. Everything about Him radiated love and warmth. Without speaking, He beckoned Anderson near and told him about his future. At dawn, Anderson was still laying on the ground next to the campfire. “I woke up, and I was completely different,” he says.
He felt humbled. The mysterious dream not only sealed his faith, but it also cleansed him of his anger and made him desire more of God. “Dreams don’t always change your life,” he says. “[But] this was a Damascus Road event. It actually changed the chemistry of my spirit.” Anderson ended up marrying his college sweetheart, Karen, and today they have four children, as foretold in his dream. He is currently a family practice physician at Frist Clinic in Ashland City, Tenn.
Yet over the years, the sensations Anderson experienced in his dream have come back in his medical practice, particularly as patients cross the veil between life and death. Sights, aromas, temperature changes—“each time is different,” he says.
The first time Anderson attended a patient who died, he says he felt a warm sensation move through the cold hospital room as the man took his last breath. Then he noticed a momentary soft glow above and to the right of the man’s body, and he felt a “deep sense of peace and an embracing comfort,” he says. Since then, Anderson has felt that warm presence many times with dying patients. Not everyone passes peacefully, though. Anderson says he has also sensed an evil presence in those moments at times, as he did with a patient with an abusive history. This man was hostile toward God, and he seemed to fight death with every breath. When he passed, Anderson says the temperature in the room dropped, and he could actually smell sulfur and diesel.
A praying man, the “country doctor” gives God credit today for helping him make life-and-death decisions. The glimpses of heaven that restored Anderson’s faith have allowed him to share the gift of hope with many others, including the Steven Curtis Chapman family during the high-profile tragic death of their daughter in 2008. Close friends with the Chapmans for years, Reggie and his wife, Karen, were among the first called when 5-year-old Maria—the youngest of three daughters adopted from China—was accidentally run over by her brother’s car at the Chapman’s home. Charisma
DAYS OF LOT – FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The North Carolina home of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and the Green Berets is opening the base chapel to same-sex ceremonies. Fort Bragg saw Maj. Daniel Toven and Johnathan Taylor exchange vows on Saturday. The pair married in Washington, D.C., in August. The Fort Bragg ceremony wasn’t a wedding, which is barred by state law. But the event drawing together more than 100 people to bless the pair’s marriage is believed to be the first for a same-sex couple at Fort Bragg. Attendees at the Episcopal service included a one-star general and a command sergeant major. Also attending were Lt. Col. Heather Mack and her wife, who initially was barred from membership in the Fort Bragg Officers’ Spouses Club before the group relented earlier this year. The Vancouver Sun
Police in Salinas, California are under fire after the department acquired a heavily armored military vehicle for SWAT team operations. The $650,000 vehicle was gifted to the Salinas Police Department from the government through the 1033 program, which redistributes used equipment to other agencies. According to KSBW, the truck was used in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to numerous outlets, police stated their SWAT team was in desperate need of a new vehicle. KSBW added that the new truck, built to withstand rifle fire and minefield explosions, has already aided officers looking to arrest a dangerous suspect. The individual was apparently spotted via the vehicle’s high observation deck. While Police Chief Kelly McMillin believes the vehicle “provides a high capability of protection for our officers and the community,” other members of the community have been outspoken in their disagreement. Posting on the police department’s Facebook page, citizens criticized the acquisition as excessive, as well as a sign of the militarization of law enforcement. “That vehicle is made for war,” wrote one commenter. “Do not use my safety to justify that vehicle,”another one wrote. “The Salinas Police Department is just a bunch of cowards that want to use that vehicle as intimidation and to terrorize the citizens of this city.” “To stop gang members?” asked a commenter. “Hmmm gang members don’t riot in mass numbers. It’s right in front of our faces and we don’t see it. Why would the ARMY!!! give something like that for FREE!!! Let’s think for once people.” In an interview with the Salinas Californian, McMillin said he wasn’t surprised at the reaction. However, he disagreed with the charge that the truck’s arrival suggested a more militant police force. “An allegation that we are militarizing has to be that we were patrolling the streets in platoons in greater numbers, that we were setting up checkpoints and searching people in and out of neighborhoods,” he said. McMillin acknowledged that the truck looks intimidating, but insisted it would only be used to protect officers and citizens alike. As commenters continued to criticize the move, however, the police chief took to Facebook and made another statement. More

harvest army

PAUL BEGLEY

RT

North Korea nuke restart ‘more extensive’ than expected.

North Korea nuke restart ‘more extensive’ than expected.

Russia test fires new yars ballistic missile. December 24, 2013

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