A former commander of the Swiss Guard, the small force of men whose job it is to protect the pope, has said there is “a network of homosexuals” within the Vatican, the latest in a series of claims about gay priests working at the heart of the Roman Catholic church. Elmar Mäder, who was commandant of the Guard from 2002 until 2008, said his time at the heart of the Vatican had given him an insight into certain aspects of life there. “I cannot refute the claim that there is a network of homosexuals. My experiences would indicate the existence of such a thing,” he told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.
Famed for their striking uniforms of blue, red and orange, recruits to the Guard swear to protect the pope and his successors with their lives. Mäder, 50, from the canton of St Gallen, refused to comment on speculation that he had warned guardsmen about the behaviour of certain priests. Earlier this month, the same newspaper reported the claims of a former, unnamed member of the Guard that he had been the target of more than 20 “unambiguous sexual requests” from clergy while serving in the force. Recounting a dinner in a Rome restaurant, the man was quoted as saying: “As the spinach and steak were served, the priest said to me: ‘And you are the dessert’.” At the time, spokesman Urs Breitenmoser said the rumoured gay network did not pose a problem to the Swiss Guard, whose members he said were motivated by entirely different interests. Asked about the claims, Mäder reportedly said stories of this kind “obviously lacking in factual basis” were sometimes told. But the facts remained clear, he added. “ A working environment in which the great majority of men are unmarried is per se a draw for homosexuals, whether they consciously seek it out or unconsciously follow an urge,” he said. More
In an exclusive interview with AFP, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said that the main objective of the Geneva II peace talks this week should be a decision on the “fight against terrorism,” and if his government loses the country’s war it would mean “chaos throughout the Middle East.” ”The Geneva conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria,” he said. “This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value.” Speaking at the presidential palace in Damascus, days before the beginning date of the Geneva II peace talks, Assad said he expected his country’s bloody conflict to drag on, calling it a “fight against terrorism” and rejecting any distinction between opposition fighters and radical jihadists.
The Syrian leader said he expected the country’s conflict to grind on, although he said his forces were making progress. The conflict, which began in March 2011, has cost more than 100,000 lives, and has displaced millions of Syrians. ”What we can say is that we are making progress and moving forward. This doesn’t mean that victory is near at hand; these kinds of battles are complicated, difficult and they need a lot of time,” he said. ”But when you’re defending your country, it’s obvious that the only choice is to win,” added Assad, who deems all those who oppose his regime “terrorists”. ”This battle is not…, as Western propaganda portrays, a popular uprising against a regime suppressing its people and a revolution calling for democracy and freedom,” he said. More
Israel has plans to deploy a missile-defense laser called Iron Beam, a high-powered weapon that can heat up incoming short-range missiles until they explode, Israeli media reported over the weekend. Though seldom actually used, laser weapons technology like this has actually been around for years, and is increasingly common throughout the world. Laser missile-defense systems were first developed in the United States, and the American government subsidized the Israeli Iron Beam program, Reuters reported. The Israeli defense ministry already has an arsenal of shields to protect its cities and borders from Palestinian rocket attacks. The main anti-rocket system is Iron Dome, a conventional defense weapon that uses radar to guide interceptor rockets at incoming bombs. According to Reuters, Iron Dome cuts off 80 percent of Palestinian rockets. Another system, Arrow II, is used to thwart long-range rockets with atmospheric trajectories. Iron Beam will be used for the extremely close-range attacks from less than 4.5 miles away, which have lower trajectories. Traditional radar-guided systems have trouble nailing these warheads, according to the report, which cited a defense industry official who refused to be named. More
JERUSALEM (AP) — With Israel situated in one of the world’s earthquake-prone areas, officials are taking action to protect the Holy Land’s most important ancient treasures so they don’t come tumbling down. After a series of five moderate earthquakes shook the country in October, experts installed a seismic monitoring system at the Tower of David, one of Jerusalem’s most important — and most visible — historical sites. The project is Israel’s first attempt to use such technology to determine structural weaknesses in the countless ancient edifices that dot the Holy Land. The efforts, however, have been slowed by authorities’ reticence to publicly declare sites as vulnerable, as well as the explosive geopolitics surrounding ancient Jewish, Christian and Muslim sites at the heart of the Mideast conflict. “We have to remember that this is the Holy Land,” said Avi Shapira, head of a national steering committee for earthquake preparedness. “We have some responsibility not only to preserve the historical monuments of our personal heritage … but also for the rest of the world.” Most of Israel’s historical sites “have not been checked,” said Shapira. “We have them on the map, but an engineer still hasn’t visited them.” More
The hits just keep on coming for ObamaCare. It was less than two weeks ago that I highlighted the potential premium rate death spiral that ObamaCare faces due to the fact that only old and sick people are signing up for the program. Now it seems there are further security related concerns plaguing the site, as cyber-security expert David Kennedy recently claimed that “gaining access to 70,000 personal records of Obamacare enrollees via HealthCare.gov took about 4 minutes.” It’s actually hard to be this incompetent if you tried. More from the Washington Times:
The man who appeared before Congress last week to explain the security pitfalls of HealthCare.gov took to Fox News on Sunday to explain just how easy it was to penetrate the website. Hacking expert David Kennedy told Fox’s Chris Wallace that gaining access to 70,000 personal records of Obamacare enrollees via HealthCare.gov took about 4 minutes and required nothing more than a standard browser, the Daily Caller reported. “And 70,000 was just one of the numbers that I was able to go up to and I stopped after that,” he said. “You know, I’m sure it’s hundreds of thousands, if not more, and it was done within about a 4 minute timeframe. So, it’s just wide open.” “You can literally just open up your browser, go to this, and extract all this information without actually having to hack the website itself,” he said. Mr. Kennedy testified before Congress Thursday that HealthCare.gov was “100 percent” insecure, Washington Free Beaconreported. For some context on this very important issue, check out the video below:
The “big dogs” in chemical agriculture are on a witch hunt to reverse a bill passed by the Kauai County Council back in November that sets reasonable restrictions on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the Hawaiian island. According to the Huffington Post, an unholy trinity represented by DuPont, Syngenta and Agrigenetics Inc. (an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences) has filed a federal lawsuit arguing against Measure 2491, which is intended to set buffer zones between schools and fields sprayed with pesticide, for instance, and requires companies to disclose when and where they are spraying their poisonous concoctions, as well as report genetically modified crops. As it currently stands in Kauai, chemical companies have very few restrictions on where they are allowed to plant GM crops and how often they are allowed to spray undisclosed chemicals on fields. Because of this, many areas of the island have become toxic hotbeds, with local residents reporting allergies, neurological damage and other major afflictions stemming from exposure to GMOs and crop chemicals, one of the many issues that stands to be addressed by Measure 2491. For more details about Measure 2491, be sure to read this earlier analysis by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger: More
Radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has now exceeded more than eight times the radiation limit set by the Japanese government – presenting new concerns for problems that many say are exacerbating. The largely government-owned Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted that radiation levels had elevated to an estimated 8 millisieverts per year (mSv/y) outside of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in December.
This greatly eclipses the Japanese government-set limit of 1 mSv/y, put in place as part of the officially-sanctioned reactor decommissioning plan for the disaster-stricken nuclear plant as a safety measure to diminish the level of harmful effects on the surrounding areas so that the exclusion zone can eventually be lifted. According to NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, the plant was measuring at below the required 1 mSv/y benchmark back in March 2013, but the increasing emission of beta-rays from the contaminated water, and particularly strontium-90, stored in above-ground tanks was spiking these levels. However, the Asahi Shimbun reported that a very high level of 7.8 mSv/y was recorded back in May 2013. Official media accounts blamed the approximately 1,000 above-ground storage tanks, explaining that the metal tank containers reportedly amplify the beta-rays to create stronger X-rays and, thus, higher readings. Asahi carried this account of the official explanation: “Beta rays released from radioactive strontium and other substances in the water reacted with iron and other elements in the storage tank containers to generate the X-rays, the officials said.” More
The First Aircraft Institute of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China has been designing the first generation long-range stealth bomber for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force since 2008, the state-run China Aviation News reports. Senior Colonel Wu Guohui from the National Defense University in Beijing told China Aviation News that the stealth bomber has two advantages over ballistic missiles. The first one is that ballistic missiles can only be fired once, while a stealth bomber can take off multiple times. The second is that ballistic missiles cannot return to base, as the stealth bomber can, if a mission is aborted. As the United States has decided to invest US$1.2 billion a year to develop a new stealth bomber to replace its Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Wu said that it is time for China to have its own stealth bomber. Conventional strategic bombers such as the B-2 and the Chinese Xian H-6 are both easy targets for enemy fighters and anti-aircraft missiles to attack. Russia is also designing its new-generation long-range bomber to compete with the United States and China.
Currently, the United States is the only nation in the world to have designed and operated a stealth bomber. Three types of long-range stealth bombers — the Lockheed A-12, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 — have been developed in the history of US military aviation. Today, the B-2 bomber is the only manned stealth bomber still in service. For this reason, China considers the development of a long-range stealth bomber as a breakthrough for the nation’s aviation industry. China is now the only country in the world except the United States and Russia to develop a medium-range or long-range stealth bomber. The Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation began conceptualizing the project more than a decade ago, according to the report. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China took over the project and continued the development of China’s own stealth bomber. 30 year after Deng Xiaoping’s reforms began, China has more resources than ever to complete this project, according to China Aviation News. Although upgrading the H-6 bomber can act as a stopgap for the PLA Air Force and Navy Air Force before China introduces its real stealth bomber, the report stated that it will not really help the nation to establish a real strategic air force to project Chinese influence abroad. Want China Times
INDONESIA – More than 30,000 Indonesians have fled their homes in the capital due to flooding that has left five dead, officials said Sunday, with people using rubber dinghies and wading through waist-deep water to reach safer ground. Many parts of Jakarta were under murky, brown water after days of torrential rain produced the city’s first significant floods of the months-long rainy season. Buildings in some parts of the sprawling capital, which has a population of more than 10 million and is regularly afflicted by floods, were half submerged, with roads unpassable in many areas. “Yesterday the water was knee deep in my house,” Yulian Candra, who lives in west Jakarta, told news website Detik. “There has also been a power cut for the past two days.” The number of those forced to leave their homes jumped from less than 5,000 on Saturday to more than 30,000 on Sunday after heavy rain deluged Jakarta overnight. People waded through the floods clutching their belongings. Others used boats to make their way to evacuation centers, which are mainly housed in mosques in the Muslim-majority country, but also in government buildings and tents erected on the roadside. Some motorcyclists, cyclists and cars ventured out despite the weather, spraying up water as they drove along roads where the floods were not yet too high. The flooding was widespread across Jakarta, with the highest number of displaced in the south and west of the city and floodwaters reaching up to three meters (10 feet) in some places. Five people have so far been killed in the past week due to flooding, disaster agency official Tri Budiarto said, adding that those killed had either died by drowning or being electrocuted.
Flooding is a perennial problem in Jakarta, the political and economic heart of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, a fast-growing, poorly planned city. “Floods continue to inundate several areas in Jakarta,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. “So far, 30,784 people have been displaced in Jakarta.” Nugroho said there were also flooding in districts surrounding Jakarta, and other parts of Java Island. However he said the floods were yet to reach the same level as last year, which were the worst in five years and saw downtown commercial districts inundated. More than 50,000 people were forced out of their homes last year, he added. However Budiarto warned that the number of evacuees may rise in the coming days as more rain was expected. Meanwhile on northern Sulawesi Island, the death toll from flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain earlier in the week rose to 19, an official said. The toll rose when rescuers recovered the body of a woman from a landslide in Tomohon city, local disaster agency chief Christian Laotongan told AFP. He added that around 40,000 people were also still displaced. “The floods have subsided but houses were wrecked, and furniture and belongings were damaged, so people have not been able to return,” he added. Indonesia is regularly affected by deadly floods and landslides during its wet season. Environmentalists blame logging and a failure to reforest denuded land for exacerbating the floods. Extinction Protocol
CHINA – The 31-year-old man died on Jan. 18, according to a statement on the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning website today. The city has reported 7 cases of H7N9 infections this year, the statement said. Human cases of H7N9 were first reported in China in March and spiked in April before agriculture authorities temporarily closed live poultry markets to limit human exposure. The Geneva-based World Health Organization counted 139 laboratory-confirmed cases and 45 deaths as of Nov. 6. “It’s always a concern when health workers die,” said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva. “Hospitals and other medical facilities are a flash point for human-to-human transmission. We would be very much wanting to follow up in as much detail as possible on this case.” Even though H7N9 hasn’t mutated to become as contagious as seasonal flu, strains that emerge in China are of special interest to researchers. The 1957-58 Asian Flu and 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu pandemics were first identified in the world’s most populous nation. Another bird flu strain known as H5N1 is thought to have come from the southern province of Guangdong in 1996. “We need more evidence before increasing our level of concern,” said Ben Cowling, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health on the Shanghai medical worker’s death. “We know that there’s always potential risk for health-care workers treating cases of H7N9 to be infected, so it’s not unexpected.”
Laboratory experiments using ferrets — the most-common animal model for human flu infections — have shown that the virus is capable of spreading from person to person. Some small family clusters have been reported and there is no evidence of sustainable human-to-human transmission, the World Health Organization said in December. H7N9 has turned up outside mainland China, in locations such as Hong Kong. The virus can circulate widely in chickens, ducks and geese without causing the mass die-offs characteristic of the H5N1 bird flu virus. Its stealth made it difficult to track and contain a germ that’s typically more active during the colder winter months, scientists have said. Malik Peiris, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, in an October interview predicted a spike in H7N9 cases over the winter season and said it could possibly peak over the Chinese New Year because the holiday is a time of maximum poultry production. China’s New Year holiday begins Jan. 31. –Bloomberg
H7N9 cases spike in China: Another 23 people in China have been infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu in recent days, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, adding to at least 24 new cases last week and confirming a fresh surge in the virus. Among the new cases, reported from several different provinces of China, was a 38-year-old man who died on Jan. 9 and a five-year-old girl from Guangdong province who became ill on Jan. 14 and is now stable in the hospital. Many of the other new patients were either in a serious or critical condition in hospitals, the WHO said. Several had reported recent exposure to poultry or poultry markets, but the WHO said the source of infections was still under investigation. The H7N9 bird flu virus emerged in March last year and has so far infected at least 199 people in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, killing 52 of them, according to an update from the WHO’s spokesman Gregory Hartl. Several clusters of cases in people who had close contact with an infected person have been reported in China, but WHO reiterated on Monday that “so far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.” Hartl told Reuters last week that the United Nations health agency had noted the recent rapid increase in human H7N9 infections and was keeping a watchful eye. “So far we haven’t seen anything that causes us to change our risk assessment,” he said. The WHO’s assessment is that “the current likelihood of community-level spread … is considered to be low.” Extinction Protocol
HANOI, Vietnam — The first death caused by H5N1 bird flu in Vietnam in 2014 has been reported in southern Binh Phuc province, the country’s Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health announced late Monday. The victim, a man at his 52, was hospitalized on Jan. 11 due to symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The patient was later confirmed infected with the virus, said the announcement, adding that his lung was damaged quickly. He died on Jan. 18, presenting the first death in Vietnam in 2014 after nine months without any H5N1 bird flu cases reported on human. Test results later showed that he was positive for avian influenza. The department recommended that local people should not eat sick, dead or unknown of origin poultry. When poultry are detected sick or dead, local authorities should be informed immediately. Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a contagious disease of animal origin caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs. It can be fatal to humans. Extinction Protocol
It’s easy these days to picture a gang of caffeine-fueled hackers attempting to crack their way into your bank account using a network of computers, but things get even more disturbing when their target — and weapon — of choice is a kitchen appliance. Hackers have used a refrigerator to send spam emails in the first proven cyber attack of its kind. Proofpoint, a digital security firm, discovered a global cyber attack that involved a refrigerator, among other “smart” household objects. The hack involved sending more than 750,000 malicious emails to businesses and individuals around the world. This type of cyber attack is referred to as a botnet attack, which involves a collection of computers located in peoples’ homes or businesses. Any thermostat, door lock or fridge that connects to the Internet could be used in the hack. The hack took place on the “Internet of things,” a tech term that refers to the idea that every device in your house can have its own computer chip, software or connection to the Internet. If it’s connected, it can be controlled by a hacker.
“Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur,” David Knight, general manager of Proofpoint’s Information Security division, said in a news release. “Enterprises may find distributed attacks increasing as more and more of these devices come online and attackers find additional ways to exploit them.” For the botnet attack, cyber criminals took control of more than 100,000 items, including television sets, home-networking routers and at least one refrigerator. According to the Proofpoint release, the household items made easy targets. Hackers were able to get in because, in many cases, the owners didn’t set up the appliances properly or never changed the default passwords. These devices also may be easier to connect to and infect than a PC, laptop or tablet. Extinction Protocol
Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy. Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape. Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are “anchor stores” in malls all over the country. When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the mall when it was time to go clothes shopping, and there were usually just two options: Sears or J.C. Penney. When I got older, I actually worked for Sears for a little while. At the time, nobody would have ever imagined that Sears or J.C. Penney could go out of business someday. But that is precisely what is happening. They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable. These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won’t be the last to fall. This is just the beginning. Sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row, and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around. Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working. In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose “between $250 million to $360 million” for the quarter that will end on February 1st. Things have gotten so bad that Sears is even making commercials that openly acknowledge how badly it is struggling.
For example, consider the following bit of dialogue from a recent Sears television commercial featuring two young women. “Wait, the movie theater is on the other side,” the passenger says. “But Sears always has parking!” the driver responds. Sears always has parking??? Of course the unspoken admission is that Sears always has parking because nobody shops there anymore. This week J.C. Penney announced that it is eliminating 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores. It’s been a brutal year for J.C. Penney, its stock falling over 60% in the past 12 months. The company has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and is in the midst of another turnaround effort after ousting former Apple executive Ron Johnson last year. Overall, shares of J.C. Penney have fallen by an astounding 84 percent since February 2012. And keep in mind that this decline has happened during one of the greatest stock market rallies of all-time. For now, J.C. Penney will continue to try to desperately raise more cash from investors that are foolish enough to give it to them, but all that is really accomplishing is just delaying the inevitable. If you would like to see some photos that graphically illustrate why J.C. Penney is falling apart, you can find some right here. And of course Sears and J.C. Penney are not the only large retailers that have fallen on hard times. This week the CEO of Best Buy admitted that sales declined at his chain during the holiday season. Best Buy shares skid on Thursday after the retailer said total revenue and sales at its established U.S stores fell in the all-important holiday season due to intense discounting by rivals, supply constraints for key products and weak traffic in December. Extinction Protocol
Homosexuality can be cured like other ‘bodily deficiencies’ such as high blood pressure: new cardinal
Spain’s newly appointed cardinal to Rome has insisted that homosexuality can be cured with treatment and likened it to other “bodily deficiencies” such as high blood pressure. The comments by Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, who was named one of 19 new cardinals by Pope Francis last week, provoked an immediate backlash in Spain. The 84-year-old Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona said: “Homosexuality is a deficient way of manifesting sexuality because [sexuality] has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.
Homosexuality, which can’t achieve this purpose, is a failing,” he said in an interview with Malaga-based newspaper Diario Sur, published on Sunday. He went on to compare it to his own deficiency of high blood pressure. “Our bodies have many deficiencies. I have high blood pressure – a deficiency I have to correct as I can.” With this in mind he continued: “Saying homosexuals suffer a deficiency is not an insult. It’s a help because in many cases of homosexuality it is possible to recover and become normal with the right treatment.” His comments brought swift criticism. Maria Gamez, a spokesman from the socialist PSOE party in Malaga, said: “These are not the winds of change that seem to be blowing from the Vatican. Pope Francis himself has distanced himself from these backward, insulting and anti-constitutional theses.” More
Once upon a time US political leaders could at least identify the enemies of the United States. And, once upon a time, Hollywood could make movies about the enemies of the United States and the free world. But those days are gone. Today US political leaders believe there are no enemies, no war – just “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters.” And, Hollywood is just as delusional. The California cowards are afraid to link Islam and terror and afraid to portray the horrors of fanatical Islamists who declared war on America over a decade ago. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is latest example of Hollywood cowardice. The movie starts out with scenes from a London campus on 9-11-2001. Yet, Hollywood chose not to show the actual towers crumbling to the ground. That would be too offensive – to Muslims. Instead any actual footage of the attack were left to the imagination. Then, as the movie develops you discover the enemies who are set on blowing up New York City are Christians from Russia who get their orders from the local Orthodox priest in Deerborn, Michigan. Got that? Anyway – Jack Ryan is able to stop the young church-going Christian before he was able to blow up Wall Street. Jack Ryan saves the day. Thank you, Jack Ryan. The US is once again safe from the dreaded Christian terrorists. You really must see this to believe it. You just can’t make this stuff up. We are living in a very non-serious time with very serious enemies. Someone needs to tell Hollywood that the Christians aren’t the ones plotting and scheming to blow up Wall Street. Maybe someday Hollywood will wake up. We can hope.
The United States will deploy at least two warships into the Black Sea off the coast of Sochi, Russia, to respond to a potential terror attack during the upcoming Olympics, top officials said on Monday. The positioning of the ships would also enable the rapid evacuation of Americans in the event of an attack, CNN reported. The State Department would take the lead if evacuations became necessary. The ships will have helicopters that could fly Americans out of the country if needed. There are also aircraft on standby in Germany that could be at Sochi in about two hours if needed. Concerns about terrorism at the Olympics have heightened after a video released online Sunday promised a “present” for tourists at the Olympics as revenge for Muslims killed around the world, according to CNN. Two young men in the video are believed to be the suicide bombers responsible for two attacks in Russia last month. Earlier Monday, NBC News reported Russia was on the hunt for four possible “black widows” prepared for an attack.
Much of the U.S. is about to get pretty cold again. A huge dome of arctic air will send temperatures plummeting across parts of the Midwest and Northeast early this week in a deep freeze reminiscent of early January’s “polar vortex.” Temperatures are expected to go well below zero in Minnesota by Tuesday. Wisconsin, Michigan and upstate New York are expected to get some of the worst of the subzero temperatures through the earliest part of the week. Then the cold will move south.
“The amount of cold air that we’ve seen this year, we haven’t seen probably since 1996 in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region, and maybe even as far east as upstate New York,” said Tony Zaleski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. So is this polar vortex No. 2? Not quite, Zaleski said. While both systems will have involved arctic air sliding down into the U.S., the new deep freeze won’t have the brutal frigid winds that made the polar vortex so dangerous. “I would say that this amount of cold air is going to be extreme as well, but it won’t be as extreme as our area saw a few weeks ago,” Zaleski said, alluding to the wind chills of 40 to 60 degrees below zero across Minnesota. This time, the wind chills will be about 20 degrees higher there, but still dangerously cold. The cold air was expected to send temperatures below freezing as far south as northern Florida by Tuesday night, according to an AccuWeather.com forecast. More
There is growing concern on Wall Street that there may be less slack in the job market than the Federal Reserve perceives, leading to a scenario where the central bank finds itself “behind the curve” with regard to winding down unprecedented levels of extraordinary monetary stimulus as inflation returns. Aneta Markowska, chief U.S. economist at Société Générale, writes in a note to clients that “Could the Fed hike rates in 2014?” is one of the top questions that has come up in recent meetings with investors. The Fed has kept the federal funds rate, its main policy tool, pinned in a range between 0 and 0.25% for five years in a bid to max out monetary accommodation, and it said in its latest policy statement on December 18 “that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6-1/2 percent, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal.” According to the Fed’s own projections, that means the first rate hike likely won’t come until the end of 2015. The monthly release of official employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on January 10, however, revealed that the unemployment rate plummeted from 7.0% to 6.7% in December.
The proximity of the current unemployment rate to the Fed’s threshold is stoking the debate on Wall Street surrounding a potential scenario that has largely been lost in all of the negative sentiment toward the pace of economic recovery in recent years: what if the central bank’s own projections for prices and the labor market are too pessimistic, and justifications for continued stimulus are quickly waning? “Albeit 20 years ago, 1994 has not yet left the collective memory of markets, and the fear is that 2014 could see a replay hereof,” says Markowska. Key to the debate is to what extent recent declines in labor force participation — one of the drivers of downward pressure on the unemployment rate — are cyclical (i.e., reflecting economic weakness) versus structural (i.e., resulting from longer-term trends like demographics). If the decline in participation is largely cyclical, inflation is not a threat. If it is structural, then there will be a smaller pool of workers available to fill job openings as the economy picks up, and the risk becomes upward pressure on wages and inflation. More
AZLE – Dozens of Azle residents are planning a trip to the state capitol to send a message to the Texas Railroad Commission. Organizers have named the bus trip “Shake the Ground in Austin,” and they expect at least 50 people to show up for the regularly scheduled Texas Railroad Commission meeting Tuesday morning. Some Azle residents believe there is a link between local fracking injection wells and a series of recent earthquakes. In a one-month span, about 30 minor earthquakes hit the area. The Texas Railroad Commission regulates oil and gas operations. Earlier this month, more than 800 Parker County residents attended a meeting hosted by TRC Commissioner David Porter at Azle High School and pressed him for answers about the earthquakes. However, some residents left the meeting more angry and frustrated than when it began.
“We need to get some relief for people who are having their homes damaged by these earthquakes,” said Sharon Wilson, Texas organizer for Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project. Wilson says she lived in Wise County for 15 years and witnessed the impacts of fracking up close. “It had a big impact on my life and property value.” She has helped to organize Tuesday’s trip to the capital and is working with residents to get answers. “They are worried about their air, their water. Their quality of life has been totally disrupted. They are worried about their health,” said Wilson. Residents will attend the TRC meeting in the morning. In the afternoon, they will meet with staff members from various state lawmakers’ offices. Wilson says the residents will ask to have the injections stopped. At January’s meeting in Azle, TRC Executive Director Milton Rister told CBS 11 News that the agency intends to submit the results of a full investigation to Azle’s mayor. However, there was no timeline set on the length of the investigation. The TWC also said they are working with the EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey to determine the cause of the quakes. CBS11′s Jason Allen will travel to Austin on Tuesday to cover this story. Follow Jason on Twitter and look for his updates on CBS 11 News. CBS Dallas
At least 22 Shia pilgrims are killed as their bus becomes target of a bomb attack
Deadly bomb blast in Beirut has drawn strong condemnations worldwide
Cops Beat Up 84 yr Old Man For Jaywalking – CAUGHT ON TAPE