GAG ORDER ON NEWS FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN/Kangaroos, emus, parrots drop dead, as Australia sizzles in record-breaking heatwave/Elk River Chemical Spill In West Virginia Prompts State Of Emergency Declaration and more signs of JESUS’ soon return







Fukushima failure: Decontamination system stops functioning

The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has stopped using its systems to decontaminate radioactive water at the facility, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

The Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, has been utilized to liquidate radioactive substances from contaminated water stored at the plant.

The crane to get rid of the container from the ALPS ceased working on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, TEPCO stopped operating all 3 ALPS systems at the facility. The company officials say the system may take a long time to restart.

The container where the radioactive substances are stored has to be replaced when it fills up.

TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, said that the company plans to decontaminate all radioactive water stored in the tanks by March 2015, NHK reported.

Nearly 2 feet of rain in 24 hours hits Florida’s Palm Beach County

A torrential downpour lashed Florida’s Palm Beach County before dawn Friday, shuttering schools, flooding an interstate and causing at least two deaths. More than 22 inches of rain fell on Boynton Beach over a 24-hour period, according to the National Weather Service. The Sun Sentinel newspaper said the most rain was around Interstate 95 and Gateway Boulevard, while between 12 and 18 inches fell over just a few hours in Lantana and Delray Beach. ”An incredible rainfall rate,” said Robert Molleda, a meteorologist with the NWS.
“There is no way we could forecast that much rain in that short a time.”  The first of the two deaths occurred just after 7 a.m. Friday in West Delray: Elsa Marquez, 56, steered her Toyota Rav 4 through a flooded intersection at Heritage Park and Via Flora into a lake, and her vehicle quickly sank. Elsewhere in Delray Beach, a man died after drowning in a flooded ditch, according to NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach. Several roads were closed and water gushed into homes and businesses, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. The rushing floodwater also forced the closure of Palm Beach County schools Friday, the Weather Channel reported. More
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing his travel across the Middle East in search of a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.  One reported part of this agreement has many Israelis worried.  The Jordan Valley straddles the border between Israel and the kingdom of Jordan. According to some reports, Kerry is proposing an international force—perhaps U.S. troops—to control the valley and then eventually turn it over to the Palestinian Authority.  The Jordan Valley runs from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. It’s about 75 miles long and nine miles wide. It forms a natural barrier between Israel and its neighbors to the east: Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  Many see it as Israel’s security belt, a geographical barrier and an indispensible military buffer. The Palestinian Authority is reportedly demanding this area as part of an agreement with Israel.  But should Israel give up this strategic piece of land? “Israel is entitled to defensible borders which Israel can defend itself with its own soldiers, and the only defensible borders are here on the Jordan Valley,” retired Israeli General Uzi Dayan told CBN News.
Dayan lectures military leaders worldwide about the strategic value of the Jordan Valley.  He also points out it’s only 40 miles from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean Sea.   “Almost everybody understands my three points which says defensible borders should give you strategic depth, the capability to defend yourself against outside attack and combating effectively terrorism,” Dayan said. Dayan also says instability on Israel’s eastern front in Syria, Iraq and Jordan is another reason to keep the Jordan Valley. David Elhaiini, mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, wondered what happen if Israel’s friends are wrong.  “Our friends, the United States, the European states say take chance for peace, take risks for peace and give up all the area. And what will happen after 5 and 10 years? If we will take those risks and the border will be near Tel Aviv. And they will throw fire and bombs on Tel Aviv,” Elhaiini said. “We can’t take risks. The Jordan Valley has to be under Israeli sovereignty,” he added. Past history has made Israelis reluctant to give away land. In 2000, they pulled out of South Lebanon and Hezbollah filled that vacuum. In 2005, Israel pulled out of Gaza and now Hamas controls it.  As the peace talks go on, many are hoping the same fate won’t come to the Jordan Valley. Charisma

DAYS OF LOT – Federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in Utah

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday the federal government will recognize more than 1,000 same-sex marriages in Utah, despite an earlier announcement this week from the state’s governor saying the state would not.  The decision means those Utah couples will have access to federal benefits that are available to married couples in other states, including the ability to file joint tax returns. It also adds to the confusion in the state following a surprise ruling last month against the state’s same-sex marriage ban.  Hundreds of gay couples got married before another court put those weddings on hold. The Justice Department statement marked the first time the Obama administration formally weighed in on the debate with any action.
“Recently, an administrative step by the Court has cast doubt on same-sex marriages that have been performed in the state of Utah. And the governor has announced that the state will not recognize these marriages pending additional Court action,” Holder said. “In the meantime, I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”  He added: “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds. In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled – regardless of whether they in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”  More
For the past several years, a growing number of prophetically and culturally astute leaders have been predicting the decline of the United States. Also, books like the New York Times best-seller The Harbinger have issued dire warnings to America based on biblical principles and Old Testament prophetic passages. There have been predictions as dire as the total breakup of our union, preceded by mass rioting and chaos (catalyzed by runs on banks and economic calamities), to a severe economic crisis far worse than what happened globally in 2008. All in all, most I speak to portend a major financial correction is soon coming in the market.  I have been saying for several years that I believe the year 2016 or sooner will be a time when many looming calamitous issues will converge and cause societal disorientation and economic woes equal or greater than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Since the 2012 presidential election, there have been many ominous signs of huge American decline in global influence: China and Russia have been saber-rattling and spewing out military threats; the NSA spy scandal has alienated our allies and further validated our ideological enemies; the military is experiencing mass cutbacks in spending; Iran is continuing to move forward with its nuclear program with impunity; Obamacare has proved to be a disaster, with the president caught lying about its devastating effects from millions losing their health coverage (and, worse yet, losing faith in their leader); and the federal government continues to pump billions of printed dollars into the economy to superficially keep the nation afloat. Possibly the biggest catalyst for mass chaos and social disorientation will be when the nations of the world stop using the U.S. dollar as their primary currency and switch to other currencies to purchase oil and other major commodities. This would probably mean the Federal Reserve would no longer be able to print mass amounts of money to pay down our debt, which could result in our whole nation becoming like the city of Detroit—bankrupt! More

Zoos use ice treats to keep animals cool, as Brazil suffers through heatwave

RIO DE JANEIRO — Sure, it’s mind-bogglingly cold in the Northern Hemisphere. But the sweltering weather on the opposite end of the Earth has man and beast alike dreaming of ice. Brazil is sizzling, and with the heat index sometimes soaring above 120 F, keepers at the Rio de Janeiro zoo are giving the animals ice pops to beat the heat. The homemade treats come in various flavors. For the big cats, there are bloody, 66-pound (30-kilo) blocks of ice and raw meat. There are bucket-sized cornucopias of iced fruit for Ze Comeia, a brown bear rescued from a circus, and a supply of chilled bananas for Karla the elephant. The simians’ treats, strawberry or mango-flavored frozen yogurt pops on sticks, looked the most appealing to the crowds of human visitors who stood Wednesday in the blazing sun and 94-degree weather to gape at the apes. “When I saw them eating them their ice creams, I asked my parents to get me one, too,” said Damaris Pereira Dias, 11, as she licked a rapidly melting treat in Brazil’s adored green corn flavor. “It made me really hungry to watch them.” The apes couldn’t get enough. Paulinho the chimpanzee reached long, leathery fingers through the bars to snatch a strawberry-flavored treat from zookeeper Karla Cunha’s hand, then gobbled it down. He then delicately handed the stick back through the bars — a trick he’s learned wins another ice pop.
The felines were less polite. Simba the 14-year-old lion and Neto, a 10-year-old Siberian tiger, put sandpaper tongues and pointy canines to work on giant bloodsicles, using oversized paws to hold the slick blocks of iced meat in place. Simba growled as a photographer got too close, and the crowd of cell phone photo-snapping visitors recoiled. Ze Comeia the bear used his back paws to grasp a giant tutti-frutti ice block that he licked while bobbing on his back in a wading pool. While one zookeeper sprayed Koala the 45-year-old female elephant with a garden hose, another placed banana after banana into her mouth. “This is their favorite time of day,” said Cunha, the zoo’s dietitian. “In addition to cooling the animals down on days like this where the heat is downright unbearable, it’s also fun and keeps them active.” With just weak water misters and wading pools to provide the animals with relief, icy treats are added to the zoo’s menu when temperatures hit the mid-80s, Cunha said. Zookeepers have been handing out nearly 100 of the frozen snacks daily during the heat wave that has seen temperatures soar above the mid-90s for about 10 straight days. The apes alone consume around 70 of the snacks per day, with the fruit and yogurt-blends in highest demand. “Frozen yogurt is very popular this year,” said Cunha. “They just go crazy for it.” Extinction Protocol
AUSTRALIA – Animals are collapsing and falling down from the sky as Australia continues to sizzle in record-breaking temperatures. After news of 100,000 bats falling from the sky, reports of kangaroos “fainting” because of exhaustion and scorching heat have circulated in the country. A large number of kangaroos, parrots and emus were reportedly found dead in Winton, one of the hottest spots in Queensland. Winton Shire Council chief executive Tom Upton stated the deaths of animals had as much to do with the prolonged dry season and the heat wave. Hunters claimed to have seen groups of kangaroos staying near waterholes to cool down and seek relief from rising temperatures. Australia’s weather bureau has recorded a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius in the sparsely populated Pilbara region on Jan 9. According to historical records, the highest recorded temperature in Australia was set in 1960 with 50.7 C in Oodnadatta in South Australia. Weather experts say this record may be broken in the coming days if current temperatures continue to rise. Temperature records across Australia have already been broken in the past few weeks with the heat wave’s onslaught. Australian Bureau of Meteorology Climate Monitoring Manager Karly Braganza stated that the delayed arrival of a monsoon in northern Australia is contributing to the sweltering heat. The monsoon is said to have a cooling effect in the region.
Mr. Braganza added global warning as another contributing factor to the ongoing heat wave.  The heat wave in Queensland, Australia, caused 100,000 bats to fall from the sky to their deaths. The RSPCA reported seeing thousands of bats in 25 separate colonies, which were found dead on the ground in southern Queensland, including Boonah, Gatton, Laidley, Mt. Ommaney, Palmwoods and Redbank. The Scenic Rim Regional Council has ordered a massive cleanup to collect the bat carcasses since the stench is beginning to bother locals. Residents near Athol Terrace lookout in Boonah said they have been agonizing over the smell of dead bats for four days. Queensland Health has advised residents not to touch the dead bats. Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young stated that bats should be left alone to avoid the risk of infection with lyssavirus.  The southern hemisphere’s high temperature is in contrast with the deep freeze in some parts of North America caused by a phenomenon known as the polar vortex. Extinction Protocol

TARGET data breach much broader than initially reported, surged by as much 70 million more

Target (TGT) said Friday the number of customers affected by its holiday shopping data breach surged by as much 70 million more, from the originally reported 40 million, and the range of information broadened to include not just customer card information, but ‘guest information’ as well. The retailer reassured its customers this latest development is not part of a new breach, but was uncovered as part on the ongoing investigation. In addition to the already-known customer names, card numbers, expiration dates and the CVV three-digit security codes that were stolen, Target said the new information included in the breach now includes names, mailing address, phone numbers and email address for as many as 70 million customers, though there may be some overlap between the 40 million first reported and the additional 70 million.
The number of payment cards affected by the breach still stands at about 40 million, meaning the new figure includes even people who didn’t swipe cards. The non-card related information actually came from a completely different access point, a Target spokeswoman confirmed to FOX Business. That hole has since been sealed, she said. However, she wouldn’t comment on which system it was, citing the “ongoing investigation.”   ”I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and chief executive officer,  in a statement. “I also want our guests to know that understanding and sharing the facts related to this incident is important to me and the entire Target team.” More
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has told a conservative conference that President Barack Obama is lawless, providing the right wing rhetoric that makes him so popular in his home state. The conservative Republican laid out his reasoning for why he thinks the president is “dangerous and terrifying.” According to the Statesman, Cruz also slammed Obama for what he referred to as a pattern of “lawlessness on a breathtaking scale.” “We are a nation of laws and not men,” Cruz was additionally quoted as saying by the website. “If we had a system where a president can pick and choose what laws to follow at utter whim … that is seriously dangerous.”
The public policy conference at which he spoke was sponsored by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Minutes before his address, the organization posted a photograph of Cruz on their official Facebook page. His address comes just one day after he released a statement on his official website that took aim at Obama’s “promise zone.” “It’s altogether fitting that President Obama is … talking about income inequality because income inequality has increased dramatically as a direct result of his economic policies,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, rather than stop Washington’s job-killing policies, President Obama proposes yet more government spending and debt.” It concludes, “All of America needs to be a real ‘Promise Zone’ – with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private-sector jobs – and we should start by repealing every word of Obamacare, building the Keystone pipeline, abolishing the IRS, and rolling back abusive regulations.” More
One week after the nation’s first recreational marijuana stores opened in Colorado, Alaska activists submitted what appear to be enough signatures to put marijuana legalization before voters. The measure – which would go up for a vote Aug. 19 – is one of several 2014 efforts that could yield a good year for pot supporters, particularly in the West. So far, voters have been at the vanguard of legalization, blowing past state legislatures. In November 2012, more than 55 percent of Colorado and Washington voters approved initiatives to legalize the drug and open state-licensed stores – and polls suggest those successes may be replicated elsewhere. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday found 55 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, compared to 44 percent who do not. Support was highest in the West – where voter-driven initiatives often become law – and in the Northeast. An October poll released by Gallup put nationwide support for legalization at 58 percent. Here’s a rundown of the states where smoking weed may become legal in 2014: More

Record 91.8 Million Americans not in Labor Force

Curious why despite the huge miss in payrolls the unemployment rate tumbled from 7.0% to 6.7%? The reason is because in December the civilian labor force did what it usually does in the New Normal: it dropped from 155.3 million to 154.9 million, which means the labor participation rate just dropped to a fresh 35 year low, hitting levels not seen since 1978, at 62.8% down from 63.0%.
And the piece de resistance: Americans not in the labor force exploded higher by 535,000 to a new all time high 91.8 million.
The jobless, laborless recovery continues to steam on. Zerohedge


Lightning strike on beach kills 3 in Argentina

A lightning strike killed three people on a beach in Argentina Thursday and injured 22 others, state media reported. ”We were hiding in a tent to take shelter from the storm when we felt an explosion, and then I saw my friend thrown to the ground,” Rafael Viñuela told the state-run Telam news agency. He ran to find a doctor after seeing that his friend’s arm was burned. ”When they arrived, they told us that he had died,” he told Telam. The state news agency reported that another victim, a 17-year-old, was playing soccer on the beach when the lightning hit, killing him and injuring several members of his family. The storm struck the seaside community of Villa Gessell, located about 230 miles (375 km) southeast of the country’s capital, around 5 p.m. Thursday. The injured victims included 16 adults and six children, a health official said, according to Telam. It’s summer in Argentina, and several witnesses told the state news agency they were vacationing in the area. Buenos Aires province Gov. Daniel Sciolio called the incident “a tragedy that surprised families” at the beach. CNN

NASA Finds New Asteroid Headed in Our Direction

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS:  A NASA spacecraft has spotted a “potentially hazardous” asteroid nearly half a mile wide barreling in the general direction of Earth. The asteroid, named “2013 YP139″, is very dark, 0.4 miles across, and could come almost as close to the Earth as our moon, based on current projections. The rock has earned NASA’s “potentially hazardous” distinction due to its size and projected flight path. But there’s no need to call Bruce Willis and the rest of the team from “Armageddon” just yet. The asteroid is still 27 million miles away from Earth, and won’t get here for another hundred years at least. TIME Science and Space

Obama Is Paving the Way for the Antichrist – Rev. Robert Jeffress

Already no stranger to controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, is coming out with a book that claims President Barack Obama is clearing the way for the Antichrist. Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book “Perfect Ending” that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John. “For the first time in history a president of our country has openly proposed altering one of society’s (not to mention God’s) most fundamental laws: that marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Jeffress writes, according to an advance copy provided to RNS. “While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.”
Jeffress said on Wednesday that he’s particularly concerned with issues such as the current battle over whether organizations will have to provide free contraception to employees. “I’m not saying the president is an evil man who’s trying to destroy our society, but Americans are willingly giving up their freedom for what they’re told is a greater good,” he said. “A future world dictator will assume power under the guise of the greater good of the world.” Jeffress said whether it’s the National Security Agency’s surveillance on American phone calls or the implementation of Obamacare, he sees a gradual encroachment on Americans’ freedom. “How it can be that this leader is able to usurp freedom of speech with little or no opposition?” he said. “People will be conditioned to surrender personal rights for the so-called greater good.” Last year, Pat Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Islam is the Antichrist, and he has linked security cameras to the end times and “the mark of the beast.” Christians have interpreted Revelation 13:16-18 to mean that there will be a marking of humans, or a “mark of the beast.” Pointing to the idea of the Antichrist has not been uncommon for so-called “dispensationalists,” who understand God to work in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history. In the 1960s and 1970s, dispensationalists “had a field day identifying who was the Antichrist,” said Scot McKnight, a New Testament scholar at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill. More

UPDATE: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was described as being in “extremely critical”  condition Thursday night, has had members of his former office and close friends visit his hospital room in quick succession, indicating the rapid developments in his failing health. The visitors are arriving at Sheba Hospital near Tel Aviv, where Sharon is located, to say goodbye to Sharon and offer emotional support to his family. Sharon’s sons Omri and Gilad are not leaving their father’s bedside. “The situation is getting worse from day to day, not hour to hour but definitely day to day,” related Prof. Zeev Rotstein of the hospital on Thursday. “We the medical team, and his sons who are always there, continue to surround him with great care. Many people are coming to visit the family.” Sharon has been in a coma since January 4, 2006 after suffering a massive stroke. In the past few weeks he has undergone a rapid deterioration as his vital organs began failing. After a long and controversial career, Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001, after the outbreak of the terror war referred to as the Second Intifada. Less than four years later, Sharon pulled out all Jewish residents from Gaza in the “Disengagement,” leaving a vacuum that the Hamas terrorist organization filled shortly thereafter. Hamas has subjected Israel to an ongoing barrage of rockets ever since. Virtual Jerusalem

US bishops announce 9 days of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage to end abortion

The U.S. Catholic bishops have announced that a ”Nine Days for Life” novena will take place this month to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wadedecision and to surround the upcoming Washington March for Life with prayer. “On January 22, 2014, our nation will remember the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says on its website.  “Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and the lives of millions of their parents have been shattered,” the bishops say. “In prayerful recognition, ‘Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage’ will take place January 18-26, 2014.”
While not everyone can attend the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on January 22, the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities says that Catholics nationwide and around the world can participate in this year’s event by joining in the nine days of prayer and sacrifice. ”Your prayers matter. Your sacrifices make a difference,” the bishops state. For each day of the novena the bishops offer a pro-life focal point for intercessory prayer, a reflection, and suggestions for concrete acts of penance, reparation and charity. The “Nine Days” program is posted on the USCCB’s website. Participants can also access the material by downloading the cell phone App, by signing up to receive the novena by e-mail here, or choosing to receive a link to each day’s novena content as a text message by texting “9days” to 99000.

New Samsung Galaxy S5 may include eye scanning iris recognition technology

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone may have eye scanning technology, to outdo Apple’s fingerprint sensor that was introduced with the iPhone 5s.  Lee Young Hee, the executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile arm, told Bloomberg at CES in Las Vegas that the company is “studying the possibility, but we can’t really say whether we will have it or not on the S5.” She added that many people are fanatical about the iris scanning software.  What’s certain is that the Galaxy S5 will be paired with an updated version of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, alongside more advanced functions and a sleeker design.
She added that the smartphone will be released in February, when Samsung usually announces its flagship phone, days before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The device would then be available to customers around March or April. After it posted profits in early January that missed estimates, Samsung is likely to push forward its attempt to dominate the high-end smartphone market as well as try to attract customers tempted by cheaper handsets. Sales of the Galaxy S4 slowed down following the release of the high-end iPhone 5s and budget 5c in the Autumn of 2013. “Competition is going to intensify, and it’s not going to be an easy year for the company,” analyst Lee Seung Woo from IBK Securities Co. told Bloomberg.  The Independent


Israel approves 1,400 new housing units over Green Line

The Ministry of Housing and Construction announced Friday that it had approved tenders for 1,400 new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  According to Ministry spokesman Arik Ben Shimon, 801 units were approved for West Bank settlements, including 227 in Efrat, 169 in Elkana and 40 in Ariel. In addition, Karnei Shomron would see an additional 86 units, Alfei Menashe 78, Adam 75, Beiter Illit 24, and Emanuel 102. The Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, over the Green Line, would see another 600 units built. Friday’s announcement had been expected after Israel released 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners in late December, part of a deal made last summer when Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously issued similar construction announcements to blunt criticism at home of prisoner releases, as many of those released were convicted of killing Israeli civilians and soldiers.  This time, the announcement was apparently postponed until after a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in the region last week. Kerry has been pushing a framework agreement, as part of his efforts to nudge Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu closer to a full treaty that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Finance Minister Yair Lapid decried the announcement, calling it “empty.” “This is not only a bad idea,” he said, “but is also one that Yesh Atid will do everything it can to ensure it remains only a bad idea that is not carried out.” Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog also attacked the announcement, tying it to the recent release of Palestinian prisoners as part of ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. More

Sugar is as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco, warn health experts

Sugar has become as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco, academics have said as they call on the food industry to cut 30 per cent from processed in Britons’ cupboards. Health experts claim the reduction could shave 100 calories from each person’s daily intake and reverse the UK’s growing obesity epidemic. Later a group of health experts and academics come together to launch ‘Action on Sugar’, a campaign which is calling on the food producers to dramatically reduce levels of sugar in everyday products. They are also asking companies to stop advertising sugary drinks and snacks to children claiming sugar has become ‘the alcohol of childhood.’ And they are calling on the government to fine those who do not meet reduction targets or impose a Sugar Tax.
Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, UK, Simon Capewell says, “Sugar is the new tobacco. “Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focussed on profit not health. “The obesity epidemic is already generating a huge burden of disease and death.” One in four adults in England is obese and these figures are set to climb to 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women, and 25 per cent of children by 2050. Three in every 10 children aged between two and 15 are overweight or obese. Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion in the next 36 years. Although sugary drinks are known to be a problem scientists say many people are unaware that flavoured waters, soups, ketchup and ready meals also contain large amounts of hidden sugars. A can of Heinz tomato soup contains the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar while a mug of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate holds six teaspoonfuls. A Yeo Valley vanilla yoghurt contains five teaspoons of sugar. More

Sears Crashing After Gigantic Loss

Sears Holdings is down 15% after hours after the company warned of Q4 losses. The retailer sees a Q4 adjusted loss of $2.01-$2.98. Analysts were looking for earnings of $0.26 per share. Quarter-to-date comparable store sales are down 7.4%. Year-to-date sales are down 3.9%. For the full year ending February 1, 2014, managements expects net loss will be between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion. Following the release, Brian Sozzi, CEO of Belus Capital Advisors told Business Insider’s Julia LaRoche that “the most atrocious thing was that the CEO didn’t have the courtesy to make a statement on this press release.” Once an iconic brand, it was reported in 2012 that Sears Holdings would close 120 Sears and Kmart stores in an effort to get the company back on track. Some argue that failure was built into Sears Holdings when billionaire investor Edward Lampert’s decided to merge struggling retailers, Sears and Kmart, back in 2004. Lampert has sold real estate to generate cash for the retailer, but it has been argued that neither this, nor the efforts to create a member-centric retailer haven’t been adequate. More

Dead cows are mysteriously washing ashore in Denmark and Sweden, puzzling everyone

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The carcasses of almost a dozen cows have washed ashore in Denmark and Sweden, puzzling police in the Scandinavian countries. Since Dec. 29, eight dead cows have been found by people strolling on beaches in southern Sweden and three in Denmark. All the animals had parts of their ears cut off. Investigators suspect this was done to remove the identification tags used to trace the cows. Danish and Swedish police said Thursday the cows were probably dumped from a ship in the Baltic Sea. They are trying to pinpoint which livestock transports have passed through the waters separating the two countries in recent weeks. Dumping livestock like that is illegal in both countries. It’s unclear, however, whether the cows were thrown overboard in Danish, Swedish or international waters. Some of the cows had their back legs tied together with a blue rope, Danish police officer Boje Joergensen said, adding it was probably done to be able to lift the animals up with a crane. Veterinarians in Sweden found no traces of disease in the animals washed ashore there, Swedish police said. Police believe the cases are related as the cows were all black-and-white Holsteins. National Post

Google has built a neural network to identify 100 million house numbers for Streetview

Having spent some time on the internet, you have no doubt been forced to prove your humanity by typing words and numbers into a captcha. Google’s own recaptcha variant has been used not only to keep bots at bay, but to help the search giant identify the text in scanned books and house numbers from Streetview.Google doesn’t rely exclusively on hijacking your brain cycles anymore, though. A new research paper from Google details how the company trained a neural network to read the millions of unidentified house numbers captured by Streetview cameras without human intervention. An artificial neural network is a computational model that seeks to replicate the parallel nature of a living brain. This system works directly on the pixel images that are captured by Streetview cars, and it works more like your brain than many previous models. Instead of breaking each address image up into individual digits then identifying each one, it looks at the whole number and recognizes it, just like we do. When you type in an address on Google Maps, you expect it to return the correct location. Having the right addresses for each structure is essential to that, especially in areas where building numbers are not linear.
That’s why there is value in knowing what it actually says on the front door, and why the company would go to the trouble of building a synthetic brain to do it. To train its neural network, Google used the publicly available Street View House Numbers (SVHN) Dataset. This is exactly what it sounds like — a massive dataset with 200,000 addresses split up into number blocks for a total of 600,000 numerical images to train an electronic brain. It takes six days for the system to learn the dataset and be able to identify digits in Streetview pictures at a high level of accuracy. Google simplified the process by placing some constraints on the images analyzed by the neural network. The addresses must have already been identified and automatically cropped so that the number is at least one third the total width of the final image. They also assume that the number is five or fewer digits long, which works fine in most regions. Since Google’s neural network doesn’t read digits slowly, one at a time, the limit on length is essential. More

China’s Maritime Restrictions ‘Provocative and Potentially Dangerous’

The United States says Chinese moves to restrict fishing in contested waters of the South China Sea are a “potentially dangerous” escalation in the maritime dispute. Chinese authorities say the rules are well within their sovereign rights. China’s Hainan province is now demanding that all foreign fishing vessels ask permission to enter more than half of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, where China is facing rival territorial claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the new restrictions run counter to efforts to resolve the disputes multilaterally. ”The passing of these restrictions on other countries’ fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea is a provocative and potentially dangerous act,” said Psaki. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says there is nothing unusual about the new restrictions. ”As a maritime nation it is normal and routine for China to make rules to regulate the conservation and management of maritime biological resources,” said  Chunying. But Psaki says those regulations are without foundation.
“China has not offered any explanation or basis under international law for these extensive maritime claims,” she said. She says U.S. diplomats in Beijing have raised their objections with Chinese authorities as the restrictions may lead to confrontation in disputed waters. Vietnamese fishermen say they will ignore the new regulations.  Vo Van Trac, vice chairman of the Vietnamese Association of Fishery, told VOA’s Vietnamese service that they will not be kept out of waters claimed by Hanoi. ”The new rules will obviously have an impact on Vietnamese fishermen, who will keep fishing in areas of the South China Sea that are within Vietnamese sovereignty,” he said. The United States and Indonesia have been working with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei to resolve South China Sea disputes through the regional ASEAN alliance.  But China has continued to move unilaterally on the issue, despite promises to open talks on a code of conduct for those waters. The new fishing restrictions come at a time when many U.S. allies in the region are questioning Washington’s commitment to its so-called “Asia Pivot” of U.S. commercial, diplomatic, and military resources to the Asia Pacific. ”The U.S. should have been the one country who could have stepped in and said let’s come to the table and figure this out. We’ve done nothing about that,” said Michael Auslin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “So again I think that’s why there are many in Washington and in the region who are skeptical about the Obama administration’s real commitment to rebalancing to Asia.” The fishing rules follow China’s announcement last year of a new Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed waters in the East China Sea.  That zone has also drawn criticism from the United States as well as from Japan and South Korea. Voice Of America

Reports of Christian martyrdom nearly doubled in 2013

Nearly twice the number of Christians were reported as dying for their faith in 2013 than the previous year, according to a new study by an organization monitoring global religious persecution. The World Watch List, issued by Open Doors USA each year, documents oppression of Christians throughout the world. Based on data from the past year, it ranks the 50 countries that are home to the worst treatment of Christians. Along with the release of the 2014 report, Open Doors USA also offered information about global Christian persecution on its website, explaining that it had gathered evidence of 2,123 Christians who were killed for their faith in 2013, up from 1,201 such martyrdoms in 2012. “This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for the organization, according to Reuters. He explained that the actual numbers could be much higher. The Open Doors USA report estimated that around 100 million Christians were persecuted for their faith in 2013. North Korea, which ranked as the worst offender on the 2013 World Watch List, remains the most dangerous country for Christians in 2014 as well, solely because of the national government’s targeting of religious believers. “The God-like worship of the rulers leaves no room for any other religion,” the report said, explaining that any “reverence not concentrated on the Kim dynasty will be seen as dangerous and state-threatening.” It is estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000 Christians in the country are imprisoned in forced labor camps. Immediate family members of Christians are also targeted, often being placed in “re-education camps,” Open Doors USA said.
Conditions have also deteriorated in Somalia, which moved from the fifth most dangerous to the second most dangerous country for Christians in the past year. The report explained that within public society, leaders “maintain that there is no room for Christianity, Christians and churches,” an attitude that is “upheld and reinforced on different levels” throughout society. This problem is compounded by the tribal social structure, which creates a fracturing of society, allowing “Islamic extremism, via groups like al-Shabaab, to flourish in Somalia.” To gain access to “basic necessities, such as basic social services, education or justice,” the report stated, “Somali Christians have to hide their belief,” with Church life and community existing in secret. A spike in persecution also occurred in Syria, which accounted for more than half of the total Christian martyrdoms recorded by Open Doors USA in the past year. Syria was ranked as 36th worst offender on the World Watch List in 2012. Two years later, in 2014, it has risen to become the world’s third most dangerous country for Christians. More


Japan to create nuclear meltdown to learn how to deal with disasters like Fukushima

Scientists in Japan are planning to create a controlled reactor meltdown in a bid to learn how to deal with future disasters like that at Fukushima. In Fukushima, the radiation is still so bad it can be fatal within 20 minutes. Japanese media has also reported that the intensity of radiation levels in the nuclear powerplant devastated by the earthquake – and subsequent tidal waves – of March 2011 is now at its highest levels ever. To combat this sort of disaster occurring again, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency said it was working on a project using a scaled-down version of a reactor which they would deliberately cause to malfunction at a research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo. ”We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future,” said a spokesman for the government-backed engineering agency.
The meltdown project, which will begin some time in the fiscal year that starts in April, will use a small fuel rod that that will undergo a very rapid fission process, the spokesman said. He said it will be the first such experiment to be carried out by the Japanese agency, although similar projects have been done in major nations with atomic power such as the United States and France. The Japanese public has become keenly aware of nuclear safety since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011 triggered a killer tsunami that swamped the cooling system at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Many have expressed their views against nuclear power by protesting in major cities such as Tokyo.  The plant went through meltdowns and explosions, spewing radioactive materials over a vast farming region and making parts of the area unfit for human habitation for many decades. The planned experimental meltdown will not be designed to analyse how the Fukushima accident happened, the atomic energy agency’s spokesman added. More

US denies Kerry pressing Arab League to recognize Israel as Jewish state

With US Secretary of State John Kerry scheduled to meet top Arab League officials next week, State Department officials denied efforts were under way to get the league to alter its 2002 peace initiative and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, thereby paving the way for the Palestinians to do the same. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, at her daily press briefing Wednesday afternoon in Washington, denied reports that Kerry was pressing the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia to alter the Arab League peace initiative.  Kerry met the kings of both countries on Sunday, and is scheduled to meet in Paris in the coming days with representatives of the Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee to update them on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as part of his continued efforts to drum up wide Arab support for the negotiations.
“It would not be accurate to say there was an attempt to change the Arab Peace Initiative,” Psaki said. Despite persistent questioning on the matter, Psaki would not say whether the US would like to see a change on this matter in the Arab league plan. When asked whether the US wanted to see the Arab world recognize Israel as a Jewish state, she replied, “We want to see them support, which they’ve indicated they would, a final-status agreement between the parties. What is included in there is not yet determined.” Psaki would not address the issues of whether the US was pressuring the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. There is considerable speculation that if the Palestinian Authority would show flexibility on the recognition issue, Israel would be more flexible on its demand that the basis for a continuation of the negotiations be on the pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps. Kerry is to leave Saturday for Paris and Kuwait City for meetings focusing on Syria, and is scheduled to return to Washington next Wednesday. More

Elk River Chemical Spill In West Virginia Prompts State Of Emergency Declaration

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency for five counties because of a chemical spill into the Elk River in Charleston. Tomblin advised residents Thursday not to drink, bathe or cook in the water and to only use it for flushing. The declaration involves the counties of Kanawha, Boone, Jackson, Lincoln and Putnam. Officials are not sure what threat the chemical spill poses to humans. Media outlets report the chemical leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and overran a containment area on Thursday. The amount that spilled isn’t immediately known. A chemical smell was in the air. Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise says the chemical is used in the coal preparation process. Freedom Industries did not immediately respond for comment. Huff Post

As Americans nearly freeze to death, EPA pushes to criminalize many woodstoves

Only a government bureaucracy would seek to impose insane heating rules during the dead of winter, but that’s Washinton, D.C., for you – short on common sense, high on authoritarianism, and drunk with power. That’s the only way to explain a new Environmental Protection Agency proposal to impose regulations on new heat stoves, as reported by Fox News: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new standards for wood stoves that would reduce the maximum amount of fine particulate emissions allowed for new stoves sold in 2015 and 2019. The Fairbanks Daily News Miner newspaper further reported: The EPA’s much-anticipated wood stove regulations are proposed to go into effect throughout the country in 2015, requiring newly manufactured stoves to cut maximum emissions by more than a third. Those standards would tighten dramatically in 2019. The new proposed rules ostensibly come as a result of “increasing research and scrutiny of fine particulate air pollution,” the paper continued, which is known as PM 2.5. The agency said such particulate matter has been linked to long-term negative health impacts, like heart and lung disease – though there is nothing from EPA geniuses about the negative health effects of, say, freezing to death. Alaska seems to be of particular interest to the agency, which appears to be saying that, despite its distance from the ruling class, Alaska is still not too far away to be messed with by petty little tyrants who draw paychecks from Alaskan taxpayers, as well as those “in the lower 48.” From the Miner: Fairbanks and North Pole have been struggling to meet the EPA’s air pollution standards, with much of the focus being placed on wood burning as the primary source of PM 2.5. The EPA set a deadline of 2014, but compliance isn’t expected to be reached for a number of years. More


As interest rates begin to rise, the danger intensifies that the current stock-market bubble could burst with disastrous consequences to retirement savers with 401(k) and IRA accounts. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee in its first meeting under incoming chairwoman Janet Yellen decided to continue “pumping money” into the economy at a strong level.  The policy, known as “quantitative easing,” has been continued with a reduction of only $10 billion a month from the $85 billion maintained by former chairman Ben Bernanke.
The probability of the stock-market bubble bursting will increase if interest rates continue to rise as the Fed maintains QE at a level of $75 billion a month. The scenario suggests the Fed has lost the ability to contain interest rates by adjusting monetary policy. The notes of the last Federal Reserve Open Market Committee policy meeting, Dec. 17-18, 2013, were released to the public Wednesday. They indicated some of the 10 voting policymakers are worried about “an unintended tightening of financial conditions if a reduction in the pace of asset purchases was misinterpreted as signaling that the committee was likely to withdraw policy accommodation more quickly than had been anticipated.” The language was crafted to reassure investors nervous about rising interest rates that the Fed was going to try to steer a difficult-to-maneuver, cautious path in which QE would remain aggressive despite concerns of FOMC policymakers that a perceived “economic recovery” threatened rising interest rates.More
Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Tom McInerney, who served as both assistant vice chief of staff and commander in chief of U.S. Air Forces Europe, has surprised interviewers on a radio program by confirming the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood inside the U.S. government. The Islamic supremacist movement’s influence on Washington was reported in “Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office” by New York Times bestselling authors Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott. The book documents that Obama aided the rise to power of Islamic extremist groups in the Middle East as members served on important national security advisory boards. The book confirms the Obama administration may have exposed national security information through Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, who has deep personal and family associations with the Muslim Brotherhood. Another key figure with Muslim Brotherhood ties is Mohamed Elibiary, a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council.
McInerney was being interviewed Thursday by WMAL in Washington about a tell-all book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that strongly criticizes President Obama and Vice President Biden for making politically motivated decisions regarding national security. McInerney said Gates was doing the nation a service by exposing decision-making in the Oval Office but said he should have done it sooner. He also noted that the Muslim Brotherhood influences have been causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Then he added, “We’ve got Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government today.” Asked by the talk-show hosts for their names, he said, “I haven’t got their names exactly but there’s a list of them, at least 10 or 15 of them in the U.S. government.” He cited the organization’s influence in Homeland Security and the secretary of state’s office under Clinton, where Abedin has worked. “Her parents are Muslim Brotherhood. And her intuitions are in that direction,” he said. “There are a whole host of people in this government.” He said Islam experts Frank Gaffney or Claire Lopez would have the details. More

Christmas came early for polygamists in Utah when a federal judge effectively decriminalized plural marriage in the state. The Dec. 13 decision elated Kody Brown and his four “wives.” (He is legally married to one and lives with the other three and their collective 17 children.) The Browns, who star in the TLC reality show “Sister Wives,” challenged the law in July 2011, charging that it violates their rights to privacy and religious freedom. “Many people do not approve of plural families,” the family said in a statement after the ruling was announced. “We hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs.” Under way is an appeal of the decision that takes its cue from a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court edict striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law. At the time, Justice Antonin Scalia delivered a thundering dissent to Lawrence v. Texas, charging it “decrees the end of all morals legislation,” including laws banning “fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity.” Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum also warned in 2003 that if the “Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery.” After December’s polygamy ruling, Santorum tweeted: “Sometimes I hate it when what I predict comes true.” Other prominent leaders over the past few years have warned that demands to allow polygamy are coming, based on the same arguments used by homosexual activists to advance their legislative agenda.
Warnings have come from around the world, including Elaine Smith, deputy presiding officer in the Scottish Parliament, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and California Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter. It’s still illegal in Utah for people to have more than one marriage license at a time under the decision handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups. What’s changed is that men who legally marry one wife and then live with others – standard practice within the polygamous community – may now do so without fear of state prosecution, although the case already has been elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not that Utah authorities have aggressively prosecuted polygamy. Despite widespread knowledge of “thousands of polygamist families,” a fact determined in the Brown case, prosecutions have been rare in the past three decades.More





Obama set to announce future scope of spying operations

Chemical leak contaminates water source


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