Peace talks:Kerry to return to Middle East next week/goat plague in Xinjiang/Kamchatka volcanoes rocked by ash plume eruptions and more sign soy JESUS’ soon return


Syria’s Assad sends message to Pope Francis, Vatican says

(Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sent Pope Francis a private message, the Vatican said on Saturday, without disclosing its contents.

It was the first known time Assad has sent a direct message to the pontiff since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011. Pope Francis has made numerous appeals for an end to the conflict, the latest on Christmas Day.

Vatican sources said the message likely included the Syrian government’s position ahead of peace talks due to start on January 22 under U.N. auspices in Geneva.

The Vatican, which has permanent observer status at the United Nations, also has a representative to U.N. organisations in Geneva. continue

Kerry to return to Middle East next week

US Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East next week, Palestinian sources said Saturday.  “Kerry has told the Palestinian Authority he will return to the region on January 4 to discuss the peace process and negotiations with Israel,” the official was quoted as saying. Ahead of his upcoming visit, Kerry is expected …

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LAPD deploys drug detection swab test at sobriety checkpoints

The Los Angeles Police Department has announced plans to ramp up use of a portable tool that checks for drug use, beginning with a New Year’s Eve crackdown on intoxicated drivers. Officials cited increased medical marijuana use as a main justification. A state grant supplied the LAPD with a swab testing tool that will be employed …

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Georgia School Board Petitioned to Protect Religious Rights of Teachers

BULLOCH COUNTY, GA – A group of residents in Bulloch County, Georgia is petitioning their local school board to protect the religious rights of its teachers. Bulloch County Citizens for Religious Liberties, led by Pastor Jon Cook, recently requested that the county Board of Education review its religious expression guidelines after emails were distributed throughout the county …

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Kamchatka volcanoes rocked by ash plume eruptions

KAMCHATKA – Activity has picked up at Kizimen volcano again. An ash plume was reported this morning by VAAC Tokyo to 17,000 ft (5 km) altitude extending north. Webcam images show a significant steam plume which possibly contains ash. This suggests that the lava dome might be entering a new phase of growth. KVERT still maintains the volcano …

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China reports outbreak of rare goat plague in Xinjiang

CHINA – The Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed that goats in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have died of a plague called “peste des petits ruminants.” On Dec. 21, a farm reported that 176 goats had showed symptoms of the disease in Hami Prefecture and 34 of them had died. The country’s exotic animal disease …

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Lebanon’s Former Ambassador to U.S. Killed in Car Bomb Attack

Mohammed Chatah, who served as Lebanon’s Ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 2000, was assassinated on December 27 when a car bomb struck his car in downtown Beirut. The blast killed five others, including Chatah’s bodyguard, Mohammed Badr. Seventy-one people were also wounded in the attack. Only an hour before the attack, Chatah posted a …

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Less than two weeks after his anti-gay remarks prompted an “indefinite hiatus” for the reality patriarch — and a strong fan backlash — the network says he will remain on the series. Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E’s Duck Dynasty clan who was suspended from his hit reality series on Dec. 18 following some incendiary comments about gay …

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BREAKING NEWS: H1N1 outbreak reported in two dozen cases in Chicago

BREAKING NEWS –  Nearly two dozen cases of the potentially deadly H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in the Chicago area, CBS 2 has learned. Finding the flu virus among patients at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood is keeping special machines working overtime right now. Seven patients at Loyola tested positive for Influenza A on Christmas …

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CANARY ISLANDS – Something is going on under El Hierro, and recent events suggest this time things could be dramatically different. Two years after a new underwater volcano appeared offshore of El Hierro in the Canary Islands, earthquake swarms and a sudden change in height suggest a new eruption is brewing near the island’s villages, …

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A sign on a restaurant door that reads “No Guns Permitted” isn’t likely to turn many heads at most restaurants. But when the other, bigger sign heralding the name of the establishment reads “Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill,” you can bet a few feathers are getting ruffled. And indeed that’s one of the biggest reactions …

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Abbas Asks Americans to Stop Israeli Construction

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has appealed to the United States to block a new Israeli plan to build hundreds of additional homes in Judea and Samaria, the PA’s top negotiator said Friday, according to The Associated Press (AP). The comments by Saeb Erekat come in the wake of reports that Israel plans to publish tenders for …

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Experts warn of Al Qaeda “Come Back”

Two years after the end of the Iraq war, the U.S. State Department confirmed this week that it is providing the fragile country with sophisticated weapons and drones. Iraq needs help fighting against a growing and serious threat — al Qaeda. For those who don’t avidly follow the complicated machinations of the globe’s top terror group, …

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Syria chemical deadline ‘unlikely’ to be met. “Now What”?

Syria is “unlikely” to meet a December 31 deadline to move its most dangerous chemical arms out of the country, the United Nations acknowledged for the first time Saturday. The UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said “important progress” has been made on eliminating Syria’s banned weapons, but called on President …

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Hundreds of teens trash mall in wild flash mob


A wild flash mob stormed and trashed a Brooklyn mall, causing so much chaos that the shopping center was forced to close during post-Christmas sales, sources said Friday. More than 400 crazed teens — who mistakenly thought the rapper Fabolous would perform — erupted into brawls all over Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin on …

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First state-licensed marijuana retailers to open Jan. 1 in Colorado

DENVER – The world’s first state-licensed marijuana retailers, catering to Colorado’s newly legal recreational market for pot, are stocking their shelves ahead of a New Year’s grand opening that supporters and detractors alike see as a turning point in America’s drug culture. Possession, cultivation and private personal consumption of marijuana by adults for the sake of …

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A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday in the Mediterranean Sea, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south southwest of Avsallar, Turkey, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 32 miles (51 kilometers) in the seismically active region, it said. Video shot in Antalya and aired by Turkish broadcaster DHA showed chandeliers shaking. Turkey …

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