China official urges calm as depositors again line up outside rural banks.
Rural banks in China’s eastern city of Yancheng stacked piles of cash in plain view behind teller windows to calm depositors queuing at bank branches for a third straight day on Wednesday following rumors that they had run out of cash. According to residents of Sheyang county, which includes Yancheng, panic began on Monday with a rumor that a branch of one local bank turned down a customer’s request for a 200,000 yuan withdrawal. Banks declined to comment and Reuters was unable to verify the rumor. The affected institutions are tiny compared with the scale of China’s financial sector, and the rush for cash appears to be an isolated incident so far. Rumors also found especially fertile ground there after a failure of less-regulated three rural credit co-operatives last January. Yet the news caught nationwide attention, reflecting growing public anxiety as regulators signal greater tolerance for credit defaults. Miao Dongmei, who runs a baby supply store opposite the branch of the Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank first targeted by depositors said she kept money at the bank, but did not join the stampede. However, she said she had seen other customers carrying baskets full of cash out of the bank branch, while armored cars kept pulling up to deliver fresh loads of currency. Sheyang bank employees told Reuters that some branches had been open 24 hours over the past two days. A visit to one branch showed tellers had stacked bricks of yuan notes immediately behind the glass, piled above head level, and assembled cash piles the size and height of a double bed in the back to show there was enough to go around. More
Russia seizes 51 Ukrainian ships in Crimea.
content copyIn its invasion and annexation of Crimea, Russia has seized 51 vessels belonging to the Ukrainian navy, according to information compiled by Dmitry Tymchuk, director of the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. Among the Ukrainian vessels reportedly captured by the Russians are submarine Zaporizhia, management ship Slavutych, landing ship Konstantin Olshansky, landing ship Kirovohrad, minesweeper Chernihiv and minesweeper Cherkasy. The Cherkasy was the last of the ships to have been overtaken following weeks of threats and ultimatums to surrender. It was finally chased down and overtaken by the Russian navy on March 25 after failing to slip past a blockade of two ships intentionally sunk by the Russians to trap it and other vessels in a narrow gulf, keeping them from escaping into the Black Sea. KyivPost
Christian Leaders Shocked, Grieved by World Vision’s Decision to Hire Employees in Same-Sex Marriages
world-visionChristian leaders such as evangelist Franklin Graham and Russell D. Moore, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed outrage that Christian relief organization World Vision announced it would hire employees in same-sex marriages on Monday. ”I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages,” Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said in his statement. “The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. ”My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin,” Graham, who is the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Moore also released a statement on Monday in which he pointed out that World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief organizations in the world, said its move was no capitulation, just a recognition that some groups supporting World Vision have differing views on sex and marriage. ”This is no surprise, on one level,” Moore explained. “The constellation of parachurch evangelical ministries founded after World War II have been running headlong, with some notable exceptions, toward the very mainline liberalism to which they were founded as alternatives. Some think if we can just barter away Christian orthodoxy fast enough we can catch the wave of that Presbyterian Church (USA) church growth boom. ”But here’s what’s at stake. This isn’t, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth,” he writes. “At stake is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.”
World Vision announced that its “American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman,” as reported by Christianity Today. The organization states that abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. Christians in legal same-sex marriages are permitted be employed, according to the policy change. Moore’s statement includes his belief that the world has entered an era “where we will see who the Evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the Gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace.” He continues, “And many will shrink back.” He writes that there’s “an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to ‘evolve’ on the sexuality issue without alienating their base.” ”I don’t mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in,” Moore states. “But just be honest about what you want to do. Don’t say, ‘Hath God said?’ and then tell us you’re doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church.” He concludes, “Donor bases come and go. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands forever. World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see.”
Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, said the decision by World Vision brings on a time to grieve for children everywhere. ”No matter what you think about this decision, I hope you feel a sense of grief…for the children,” Wax wrote on The Gospel Coalition’s blog. “This is a story of deep and lasting significance, because there are children’s lives at stake in how we respond. ”Children will suffer as Evangelicals lose trust in and withdraw support from World Vision in the future. It will take time for evangelicals to start new organizations that maintain historic Christian concepts of sin, faith and repentance.” After listing reasons children suffer in so many ways, not just in decisions such as the one that World Vision made, and how Evangelicals will respond with grief, he writes. “But we also grieve for children here at home who are growing up in a culture in which sexual idolatry distorts the meaning of marriage and the beauty of God’s original design.” Christian Post
Kerry in Jordan in bid to salvage peace talks
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jordan Wednesday in a fresh bid to keep his Middle East peace bid on track, amid fears Israel may renege on a promise to free Palestinian prisoners and just after Arab leaders said they would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Kerry, interrupting a visit to Rome, was due to meet first with Jordan’s King Abdullah II before holding talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over dinner in a bid to “continue to narrow the gaps” between the two sides, his spokeswoman said. Under the terms of a July deal for the relaunch of the talks, Israel said it would release 104 Arabs held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for the Palestinians not pressing their statehood claims via the UN. Israel has so far freed 78 prisoners and is due to release the fourth and final wave on March 29, but there are growing fears Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet may refuse to approve the move. Israel has so far freed 78 prisoners and is due to release the fourth and final wave on March 29, but there are growing fears Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet may refuse to approve the move. Palestinian leaders are threatening to renew their diplomatic push at the United Nations if the prisoners are not freed as scheduled this weekend. The Arab League’s announcement that it would not recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people rejects a key Netanyahu demand from the Palestinian leadership.
Kerry’s meeting with Abbas comes only 10 days after the Palestinian president was welcomed at the White House by US President Barack Obama for talks which Palestinians officials later admitted had been difficult. Kerry, who coaxed the two sides back to the negotiations last July after a three-year freeze, is seeking to keep up the pressure to reach an agreed framework to guide the talks going forward as an April 29 deadline for a deal looms. Despite months of meetings between Kerry and Israeli and Palestinian leaders both in the region and in cities around the world, the two sides have remained deeply divided. Abbas has so far held off on efforts to use the UN’s November 2012 recognition of Palestine as a nonmember observer to press for membership in international bodies where it could fight Israeli occupation. But Palestinians are warning they may drop that pledge if Israel breaks its side of the deal by not freeing the prisoners. A State Department spokeswoman said Kerry also will talk with Netanyahu in the next few days. After his meeting with Abbas, Kerry will return to Rome to join President Barack Obama at a meeting Thursday with Pope Francis. The Times Of Israel
UPDATE: More than 120 objects sighted in search for Flight 370
New satellite images provided by a French defense firm show 122 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean, not far from other satellite sightings that could be related to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the Malaysian transport minister said Wednesday. The objects were scattered over 154 square miles (400 square kilometers), acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Bin Hussein said. Hishammuddin said he wasn’t sure if Australian authorities coordinating the search for the plane had been able to follow up Wednesday on the new satellite images, which came from Airbus Defence and Space. Searches resumed Wednesday after a one-day delay caused by poor weather. However, the last of 12 planes dispatched to the site returned to its base in Perth, Australia, late Wednesday without finding anything definitive, Australian officials said. Search aircraft did spot three objects, but none were obvious plane parts, the Australian Maritime Safety Agency said. The latest objects seen on satellite range from about 3 feet (1 meter) to about 75 feet (23 meters), Hishammuddin said. Some appear bright, indicating they may be solid, he said. The latest images appear to be the most significant discovery yet in the hunt for the missing plane, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard, said CNN aviation analyst Miles O’Brien.
“There’s a very good chance this could be the break we’ve been waiting for,” he said. Aviation safety analyst David Soucie agreed, saying he was particularly intrigued by the size of the 75-foot object. ”It has potential to be a wing that’s floating,” he said. “So I’m really encouraged by it, I really am.” But satellites have captured images of objects before during the current search, and crews have yet to spot anything definitively linked to the airplane, and ships haven’t recovered anything of note. Officials have warned that objects spotted in the water may turn out to be flotsam from cargo ships, and that finding anything from the plane could still take a long time. ”There’s always a possibility we might not actually find something next week or the week after,” Mark Binskin, vice chief of the Australian Defence Force, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Tuesday. “I think eventually, something will come to light, but it’s going to take time.” Seven military reconnaissance planes — from Australia, China, New Zealand, the United States, Japan and South Korea — and five civil aircraft are combing the vast search area, which covers 469,407 square nautical miles. Five ships, one from Australia and four from China, also are in the search zone, Australian authorities said. More
Israel’s Defense Ministry United Against American Pressure
WEB-Reuters-Danny-Danon-Photog-Ammar-AwadWhile news came this week that Russia was suspended from the G-8 and tensions continue to rise between America and Russia, the U.S. State Department continues to expect an apology from Israel’s defense minister. Last week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “It isn’t a favor America is doing; it’s in their interest. They get quality intelligence and technology.” As Ya’alon rightly noted, Obama’s America has developed an image in the world of “feebleness.” Ya’alon last earned the ire of the State Department a month ago when he said, “The American security plan that was presented to us is not worth the paper it was written on. It contains neither security nor peace. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan River will guarantee that Ben Gurion Airport and [the northern city of] Netanya do not become targets for missiles from every direction.”
He continued by saying that Secretary of State John Kerry “operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling.” And while Israel’s most senior and most popular cabinet member speaks the truth, American State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says, “We still have remaining concerns about Ya’alon’s pattern of behavior,” adding, “I think we clearly expressed our displeasure by his offensive comments, and an apology would be a natural next step.” Why would the State Department ask a foreign ally to apologize for telling the truth? Barack Obama says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a “political coward” whose policies pose a greater threat to Israel’s existence than Iran’s nuclear program because he does not know what is in the country’s best interests.
The deputy defense minister of Israel, Danny Danon, has vowed to quit the government if Palestinian terrorists are released as part of this “peace plan.” As Danon says, “The Palestinians took advantage, and not for the first time, of our desire for peace and naiveté, to trick us. They pretended to negotiate, and we released vile murderers.” Danon says Kerry’s plan is “dangerous and detached from reality.” Israel is a country surrounded by Arab nations devoted to doing all they can to harm the West. The bottom line is that when Israel’s senior-most defense officials speak out, they do so simply in a desire to protect the only Jewish state. Terrorists have declared war on Israel as well as America. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where an American flag is not burned. During times such as these, when American interests are at a low place worldwide, the Obama/Kerry team needs to simply leave Israel alone. Israel understands what Israel needs better than Barack Obama and John Kerry. Charisma Magazine
Why America should fear the worst with Russia
lets-be-carefulThe annexation of Crimea by Russia has stimulated my imagination. So have the writers who suggest that we ought to move NATO forces hundreds of miles closer to Russia. So hasVladimir Putin when he says, “If you press the spring too hard, it will snap back. You must always remember this.” These suggestive lines, coupled with all the abstract talk about democracy, authoritarianism, ethno-nationalism, and aggression, have my mind traveling to some pretty dark places. I cannot help but imagine the worst-case scenario. I know it almost certainly will not happen. Mutually assured destruction is a powerful deterrent, and it’s hard to see a global nuclear war breaking out over a regional territorial dispute. And yet… I’m also fully aware that at least dozens of nuclear missiles are currently programmed to crash down on the metropolis just next door to where I live in Westchester, N.Y. I have sometimes imagined the aftermath of a full nuclear attack in my own hometown.
I can see thousands of the wretched living walking north through town, coming up from the middle of the county. Most of the people are quiet, but some of them are wailing. Nearly all of them will be dead within days, depending on the wind. I think about what decisions I would make, knowing that the food I have is spoiling, that I need to move to survive, that even if civil order is maintained somewhere (Canada?) for now, nobody has an obligation or capacity to take us in, and that such order has little chance of surviving for long when nearly the entire continent’s food supply and internal trading routes have been destroyed. Starvation, murder, radiation poisoning, the new realities. I know that I am probably only drifting into these dark places because when I was young and impressionable, I watched a VHS copy of the extremely upsetting TV movie The Day After. Unlikely as it is, considering the nightmare scenario is sobering. It gives a certain clarity. In the face of that nuclear terror, frankly, I don’t give a rip about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, or our NATO allies. Weighed against the scenario where my family looks at me helplessly as we realize we’re all going to die miserably and everyone we know will too, I’d accept just about any breach of international norms. I guess I’m just selfish that way. So I’m inclined to seek ways of understanding Russia’s actions. I see a nation and dictator that suffered a humiliation when the pro-Russian government in Kiev fell, and has sought to recover it through a quick, illegal annexation, abetted by a rigged referendum. I’m inclined to understand their anxiety to maintain access to their Black Sea military resources. Yes, I’m inclined this way, partly, because of fear. Because years after the Berlin Wall came down, there is still a loaded gun pointed at our heads.
Our country and its political class used to share this fear. During the Cold War the threat of war with the Soviet Union was paralyzing. We did nothing in 1956 when the Red Army killed 50,000 in Hungary. Nothing again in Prague in 1968.
America’s interests came before America’s ideals and ideology, before the lives of others. Compare Russian violence in the Cold War to the violence in Crimea. Beyond the redrawing of borders, and the offense to international norms, the result of this annexation is one Ukrainian soldier killed. I’ve also seen footage of Vice‘s news crew being threatened and arrested. By comparison, the mere existence of regimes like those in North Korea produce worse injustices every day. I know that this dread is what causes nations to appease dictators, to rationalize the subversion of elections far beyond Russia’s borders in order to keep the Kremlin feeling at ease. I know it makes me regret the expansion of NATO after the Cold War.
Freedom depends on not being intimidated. But if the only way to live in freedom is to live without fear, then contemplating the worst occasions radical thoughts for a conservative. Can national sovereignty and political freedom really exist in an age of nuclear superpowers? What if preserving those political achievements really does require their complete abolition? These days the press is gleefully churning out headlines about a renewed Cold War. Our political thinkers seem enlivened by the re-emergence of a real geo-strategic foe. I don’t want a new Cold War. The first was bad enough. But if our political class is determined to clash with Russia, we ought to learn to fear them as well. The Week
Israel navy targets Gaza-bound tobacco boats
Two Palestinians were wounded on Wednesday when Israeli navy vessels destroyed two Gaza-bound boats smuggling cigarettes and tobacco from Egypt, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Palestinian witnesses and medical sources said the navy opened fire at the vessels as they were heading towards Rafah, moderately wounding two people, while the rest of the crew managed to escape. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the incident, saying a naval vessel had been damaged by Palestinian gunfire in the exchange. She said naval forces had identified two Palestinian vessels trying to reach southern Gaza from Egyptian territorial waters in a “suspected smuggling attempt”. Troops had called on the boats to stop and fired warning shots, but the appeal was ignored. ”After the vessels failed to comply the soldiers fired toward the vessels. Hits were confirmed, and secondary explosions were heard,” she said. At the same time, gunmen in Gaza began firing at the naval forces, damaging the navy boat. ”The soldiers responded by opening fire toward the terrorist position.” Israel imposed a land and maritime blockade on the coastal strip in 2006, under which Gaza vessels are not allowed to enter waters more than six nautical miles from the shore. And Egypt has severely restricted access to the Palestinian territory, ostensibly for security reasons, with its military destroying 1,370 smuggling tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip, as ties with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas have soured. Yahoo News
Arab League declares ‘total rejection’ of Jewish state recognition
The Arab League announced on Wednesday a full backing of a Palestinian refusal to meet Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, a condition Jerusalem says it required for peace. ”We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state,” read a statement from the final day of the Arab summit in Kuwait. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reiterated the call for the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish character of Israel as a requirement for a peace agreement. On Tuesday Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab heads, reiterating his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and said that the Palestinians want an independent state on “all the territories that were occupied in 1967.” Earlier in the month, the Arab League endorsed the Palestinian position on recognition. Arab governments, distracted by the upheaval convulsing the region since the 2011 Arab uprisings, have previously taken few stands on the floundering peace talks, leaving Abbas isolated. The issue has lately overshadowed other stumbling blocks over borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem. Palestinians fear the label would lead to discrimination against Israel’s sizable Arab minority, while Israelis say it recognizes Jewish history and rights on the land. Jerusalem Post
EPA land grab? Agency claims authority over more streams, wetlands
In what critics are describing as a government land grab, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change Tuesday to the Clean Water Act that would give it regulatory authority over temporary wetlands and waterways. The proposal immediately sparked concerns that the regulatory power could extend into seasonal ponds, streams and ditches, including those on private property. ”The … rule may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history,” said Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The EPA proposal would apply pollution regulations to the country’s so-called “intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands” — which are created during wet seasons, or simply after it rains, but are temporary. At issue is whether the smaller streams and wetlands are indeed part of the “waters of the United States.”
The Supreme Court ruled on the issue in 2001 and 2006. The second ruling restricted the federal government’s authority by stating such waters must be “relatively” permanent or continuously flowing and sizeable, like “oceans, rivers, streams and lakes.” In defending the proposed change, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands became “confusing and complex” following the high court decisions. ”For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity,” the agencies said in a joint statement.
They also argued such waters “form the foundation of the nation’s water resources” and the changes would not extend the federal government’s reach. ”To be clear, our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of the waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a video accompanying the announcement. The EPA also said roughly 60 percent of “stream miles” in the country only flow seasonally or after rain but have a “considerable impact” on downstream waters — and that about 117 million Americans, or one in three, get their drinking water from public systems that rely in part on such streams. The proposal is now subject to a 90-day comment period in which federal officials vowed to conduct a “robust” public outreach effort that will include discussions across the country to gather the input needed “to shape a final rule.” The agencies said the proposed change is supported by the latest peer-reviewed science.
However, Vitter accused the EPA of “picking and choosing” its science while trying to “take another step toward outright permitting authority over virtually any wet area in the country.” He also warned the proposed change, if approved, would open the door for more environmental groups suing private property owners. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, echoed those concerns, saying the change “could result in serious collateral damage to our economy.” ”[I]t appears that the EPA is seeking to dramatically expand its jurisdictional reach under the Clean Water Act,” she said in a statement. The senator added that the change could have a huge impact on Alaska. ”If EPA is not careful, this rule could effectively give the federal government control of nearly all of our state — and prove to be a showstopper for both traditional access and new development,” she said.
Franklin Graham on Gay Marriage: ‘God Will Judge This Nation’
EVANGELIST FESTIVAL IN JUBA(CNSNews.com) – On the issue of homosexuality and gay “marriage,” many Americans and their political leaders “are turning their backs on God” and, as a result, “God will judge this nation for our refusal to obey His Word,” said Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of the world-renowned Rev. Billy Graham. Franklin Graham, who runs the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and also is president of the international Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, made his remarks on Mar. 24 during a radio interview on Washington Watch Weekly with Tony Perkins. In a lengthy discussion about how homosexuality is affecting America in different ways, Tony Perkins, who is president of the Family Research Council, asked Graham, “We’re finding among younger people, including Christians, is that while they may see homosexuality as immoral, they don’t want to publicly say it’s wrong. Others have completely rationalized their support for same-sex marriage. Is this the result of a low view of scripture today in the church?”
Graham said, “I believe, no question, this is part of it. And, of course, we have spent, as you know, billions in this country on education. And as a result of spending billions on education we have taught our young people not to believe in God, and now to begin to accept standards that are contrary to God’s laws, and contrary to His teaching.” “And we as a people, as a nation, our politicians, one by one, are turning their backs on God,” said Graham. “And we as a nation will pay for this. I believe God will judge this nation for our refusal to obey His Word.” “This nation was founded, for the most part, by Christian men and women who believed in God and trusted in God,” said Graham. Earlier in the interview, Perkins had mentioned Graham’s December 2013 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he was asked if he could see himself changing his view on homosexual behavior. Perkins said, “We can’t dance around the issue, homosexuality has become a huge issue in this country and it affects everything: religious liberty; it affects our education; it affects parental rights. You name it. It’s there. But in December you were asked on Meet the Press if you would be changing your views about homosexual – homosexuality being embraced by the church, and you said what?
Franklin Graham said, “Well. God would have to change. I don’t make up these standards. It’s God who has penned these standards. And we know that God is the same yesterday, today, and a million years from now. So we know that God isn’t going to change. And so I cannot change my position because of what God says. Homosexuality is sin. Now, do we love all people? Absolutely, we do. Do we want all sinners to come in repentance? Absolutely. And repentance means turning from their sin.” He continued, “But we cannot say to the sinner, you can continue sinning. It’s okay, you can follow Christ and you can continue to sin, you can continue to live your sinful life and follow Christ at the same time. You cannot do that.” Franklin Graham, in addition to his evangelical and charity work, regularly speaks on cultural issues and politics. He has often denounced radical Islam. In 2010, after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) complained about Graham, he was dis-invited from speaking at a Pentagon National Day of Prayer event. Graham, 61, is married to Jane Cunningham Graham, they have five children, and live in Boone, North Carolina. CNSNews.com
Washington state mudslide preceded by small earthquake
A 1.1 magnitude earthquake occurred right behind the site of the massive mudslide that decimated the community of Oso in Washington state on Saturday, officials have confirmed. Snohomish County emergency management director John Pennington said a search of recent records discovered the small earthquake struck on March 10. It remains unclear what role, if any, the quake played in the slide that struck two weeks later, on March 22. Previously, officials have blamed groundwater saturation caused by heavy rain over the past month for the slide. But Pennington said the risk of a slide in the area was well known and ever since a slide hit the area in 2006 officials have been warning people and homeowners were “very aware” of the risk. ”We have pushed message after message that there is high risk of a slide,” said Pennington. “There has been warnings and advanced notifications.” Steve Thompson, of the Snohomish public works department, said officials remain “absolutely worried” that there could be more mudflow at the site.
But Thompson said concerns about a flash flood are diminishing as the water caught behind the slip continues to cut a channel through the debris. The search for survivors was suspended for more than two hours Monday when rescuers were pulled back following concerns the debris field had become unstable. Thompson said a helicopter went up and a team consisting of three geologists and a hydrologist examined the site and found “some sloughing” off the edge of the slide but nothing to worry about. The 2.6-square-kilometre slide destroyed 49 structures when a wall of mud and debris swept across 1.5 kilometres of State Route 530 near the community of Oso, 88 kilometres north of Seattle, Saturday morning. The death toll is expected to rise today as the search and rescue efforts continue to ramp up. Officials say geological experts will be monitoring the site from the air as rain today is expected to raise the risk of further slides at the site. So far 14 people have been reported killed, and 176 people remain on a list of people reported missing to search officials. Several people were rescued on Saturday after the slide struck, but not a single survivor has been found since. Officials are still trying to confirm the identities and whereabouts of many of those reported missing. Washington state officials say 150 searchers will be scouring the site on Tuesday, including urban search and rescue experts, dog teams, and 50 members of the National Guard. They are being supported by a mortuary assistance team, doctors, mobile communications experts, police, fire and emergency medical responders and volunteers. Snohomish County director of emergency planning John Pennington said organizers were “saturated” with volunteers and made a special plea for people not registered with the search efforts to stay out of the debris field. ”We don’t need more volunteers,” said Pennington at a briefing on Tuesday morning. Crews are also expecting to clear snow from the Mountain Loop Highway to provide access to the community of Darrington, which as been cut off by road since the slide left a massive field of debris across Route 530 on Saturday morning. CBC News
Russia cannot hope to match global might of America, says Barack Obama in warning to Vladimir Putin
The US President, Barack Obama, has issued a warning to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to keep his troops out of Ukraine or face even tougher sanctions, calling Russia a “regional power” which would struggle to compete with America’s global influence. So far, Washington and the European Union (EU) have responded to President Putin’s annexation of Crimea this month with sanctions on dozens of individuals, most of them directly linked to Mr Putin’s actions in Crimea after his ally Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by protesters in Kiev. Those diplomatic moves have so far had little effect in Moscow, and Western leaders have faced criticism that they are not being tough enough in the face of a more muscular Russia. Mr Obama appeared to meet such criticism by making clear that the US is “the most powerful nation in the world” and one that other countries looked to in order to take the lead on global crises such as the conflict in Syria. Asked at a nuclear-security conference in The Hague whether Russia was now Washington’s top geopolitical foe, he replied: “America’s got a whole lot of challenges.” But Russia, he added, “is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbours, not out of strength but out of weakness. We [the US] have considerable influence on our neighbours. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong co-operative relationship with them.”
Both Washington and the EU have recently intensified their warnings that they will not hesitate to impose tougher and broader economic sanctions if Russia does not de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine or makes any attempt to move its troops beyond Crimea and into eastern or western Ukraine. The Nato Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said he was “very much concerned” about a build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders. Mr Obama said that Russia “has a right legally to have troops on its own soil” but warned against any further action. “We also are concerned about further encroachment by Russia into Ukraine,” Mr Obama said. “I think that will be a bad choice for President Putin to make.” If the situation deteriorated, Mr Obama said the US would be ready and willing to impose sanctions on sectors including energy, arms, financial services and trade, even if there would be an impact on the rest of the world. Europe has close economic ties to Russia, and its punitive measures against Russia have been tempered by caution over potential knock-on effects of sanctions.
Mr Obama stressed that any sanctions “will have the greatest impact on Russia”, a sentiment echoed by the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, who was hosting the nuclear-security summit. “Obviously, you can never guarantee that the people in Europe, in Canada, in the US, would not be hurt,” Mr Rutte said. “But obviously, we will make sure that we will design these sanctions in such a way that they will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and not on the European, the Canadian, the Japanese or the American economy.” On Monday, the leaders of the US, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada suspended Russia from the G8 group of nations and cancelled a meeting of the group in the Russian city of Sochi in June. They will instead meet as G7 in Brussels. While the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, was initially dismissive of the move, the Kremlin said it was keen to maintain diplomatic contacts. “The Russian side continues to be ready to have such contacts at all levels, including the top level,” Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Interfax news agency. The Independent.
North Korea test-fires medium-range missiles as Barack Obama holds Japan-South Korea summit
North Korea has test-fired two ballistic missiles, as US President Barack Obama hosted a landmark Japan-South Korea summit and pledged “unwavering commitment” to Tokyo and Seoul’s security concerns in the face of Pyongyang’s nuclear threat. South Korea’s defence ministry said both missiles flew 650 kilometres (400 miles) into the Sea of Japan, upping the ante after a series of short-range missile and rocket launches by the North in recent weeks. A ministry spokesman said the missiles were believed to be Rodong variants, which are considered medium-range at their maximum reach of between 1,000 and 1,500 kilometres. UN Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from conducting any ballistic missile tests. The United States responded to North Korea’s test firing, saying it represented “a troubling and provocative escalation.” A State Department statement said officials were closely coordinating with our allies and partners, including in the UN Security Council, “to take the appropriate measures in response” to Pyongyang’s latest “violation of UN Security Council resolutions.” More
Ukraine Leader Leaked Recording: 8 Million Russians In Ukraine “Must Be Killed With Nuclear Weapons”
While the NSA is busy justifying its spying of every American its existence thanks to famous Moscow resident Edward Snowden, its Russian counterparts have been busy intercepting even more phone Ukrainian conversations. After a month ago a leaked phone call between US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and the US envoy to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt confirmed that it was the US that was pulling the strings in what was about to be a violent coup overthrowing Ukraine’s president Yanukovich, “someone” has just leaked another phone conversation, this time between parliamentarian Nestor Shufrych and former PM and ideological leader of the Ukraine “revolution” Yulia Tymoshenko and most probable future president of West Ukraine, in which Tymoshenko is makes the following threats, “It’s going too far! Bugger! We must grab arms and go whack those damn katsaps [a Ukrainian word used to refer to the Russians in a negative tone] together with their leader”, “I’ll use all my connections, I’ll raise the whole world – as soon as I’m able to – in order to make sure.. Bugger!.. not even scorched earth won’t remain where Russia stands” although all her empty threats collapse in the last sentence of the phone conversation in which she says, regarding the Crimea annexation, that “we are going to take it to the Hague International Criminal Court.” Good luck with that.
But the smoking gun, and where Putin once again shows just how masterful of a chess player he is, is the following statement by Tymoshenko, after asked, rhetorically, by her counterparty, “what should we do now with the 8 million Russians that stayed in Ukraine. They are outcasts“… to which she replies: “They must be killed with nuclear weapons.” Needless to say, that is not how you make Russian friends, or diffuse geopolitical tensions with your superpower neighbor, who just happens to be set on recreating USSR 2.0. Because just like that Putin has his provocation carte blanche, as the second something, anything happens to any ethnic Russian in east Ukraine, Putin can point to precisely this conversation as proof of how Ukraine’s “government” feels toward the ethnic minorities in the east, and why “they deserve to be protected” the Russian bearhug. Which has been precisely Putin’s plan all along. It is not surprising that after this recording was leaked, that Tymoshenko admitted the validity of the recording except for this part, because she knows just how greatly it can and will be used against her once Putin decides it is time to expand a little further beyond just Crimea.
Some of the other statements, transcribed by RT, confirming just how powerless Ukraine truly is in this struggle between David backed by the world’s most insolvent and natgas hungry countries, and an ascendent Kremlin goliath: Tymoshenko, who plans to run in Ukraine’s presidential election, expressed confidence that she would have found “a way to zap those assholes [Russia].” “I’ll use all my connections, I’ll raise the whole world – as soon as I’m able to – in order to make sure.. Bugger!.. not even scorched earth won’t remain where Russia stands,” she promised. Despite being incapacitated by spinal disc hernia the ex-PM stressed she’s ready to “grab a machine gun, you know what I’m saying, and go shoot this bastard [Putin] in the forehead.” INFO WARS
Syrians Call on Israel to Bomb Their Country
Many of the victims of the ongoing Syrian civil war who are being treated in Israel are saying the Jewish state should go beyond humanitarian aid and actively enter the conflict. Speaking to the Ynet news portal, several of the 16 Syrian patients currently being treated at Ziv Medical Center in the northern town of Tsfat (Safed) said they were happy to hear of a recent aerial assault on Syrian forces believed to have been carried out by Israel. One of the Syrians said that after hearing of a recent Israeli air strike on Syrian army positions he was “quite happy,” insisting that “this move should have been executed a long time ago to help us bring down the terrorist regime in Syria.” Another patient urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “keep attacking in Syria in order to save the Syrian people from the Assad regime.” A third young man said that while he had “always thought of Israel as an enemy state,” his point of view changed drastically after being provided medical care by the Jewish state. “Israel is a good country that saves our lives,” he said. That is very much the sentiment that was expressed to Israel Today when our own reporters visited Rambam Medical Center in Haifa last November (see Israel Today Magazine, December 2013, pages 4–5). The recent Israeli air strike on Syria referenced by some of the patients at Ziv Medical Center was a direct retaliation for a roadside bomb planted along the border that wounded four Israeli soldiers. Israel is also believed to be behind a series of aerial strikes over the past two years that targeted advanced Russian military equipment provided to the Syrian regime or missile systems being transferred to Assad’s allies in the Hezbollah terrorist militia. Israel Today
Kerry Announces Surprise Meeting with Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman meets US Secretary of State John KerryThe latest impasse in the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is enough to cause U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to interrupt a visit to Italy to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan. Kerry’s surprise trip to Amman, which will take place on Wednesday, aims “to continue to narrow the gaps between the parties”, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday, according to AFP. Kerry will also be in touch with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “over the phone or by video conference”, Psaki added, in what is seen as an acknowledgement by the Americans that talks have hit a snag. Kerry coaxed the two sides back to the negotiating table in July after a three-year hiatus, but the talks have stumbled as he has sought to hammer out an agreed framework to guide the next few months. The new meeting with Abbas comes just over a week after the PA Chairman visited the White House to meet President Barack Obama for what were described as “difficult” talks. Kerry’s unexpected plans to leave the Italian capital only hours after arriving came as fresh tensions arose over the peace talks, which he is struggling to keep on track and hopefully extend beyond an April 29 deadline.
Arab leaders meeting Tuesday in Kuwait backed the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, an Israeli demand that threatens to derail the talks. In a draft statement endorsed by foreign ministers, the summit stressed a “categorical rejection” of the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and rejected “all pressures exerted on the Palestinian leadership” to force it into agreeing. Abbas, meanwhile, Abbas launched a tirade against Israel at the Arab League summit, , accusing the Jewish state of being responsible for the peace talks not progressing. “The Israeli government is trying to dodge an agreement it had with the U.S. administration to release pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners,” Abbas said. “The Israeli government took every chance to foil the American efforts. This proves what we say about the lack of seriousness and preparedness of the Israeli government to withdraw and create peace,” he charged. On Monday, a PA official stated that Abbas would agree to extend peace talks with Israel, but only if certain conditions are met. These conditions, according to the official, are more terrorist releases and a freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria. Abbas has consistently said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel. Arutz Sheva 7
UPDATE: Hope for survivors of landslide dims as death toll rises to 24
The death toll in the landslide in the Washington towns of Oso and Darrington has risen to 24, with authorities on Tuesday recovering two more bodies and locating another eight, Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots told reporters during a briefing. MORE
Admiral: USA lacks ability to conduct successful amphibious assaults…
The head of U.S. Pacific Command believes America does not possess the capacity to conduct amphibious assaults in the wake of a crisis, as it did during World War II. Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command gave his assessment of the deficiency in readiness on Tuesday, Stars and Stripes reported. “We have had a good return of our Marines back to the Asia-Pacific, particularly as the activities in the Middle East wind down in Afghanistan. … But the reality is, is that to get Marines around effectively, they require all types of lift. They require the big amphibious ships, but they also require connectors (meaning landing craft and other amphibious vehicles). The lift is the enabler that makes that happen, so we wouldn’t be able to [successfully carry out a contested amphibious assault without additional resources],” Adm. Locklear said, Stars and Stripes reported. The admiral’s comments come only weeks after Capt. James Fannell, the chief of intelligence of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that he believes China is training for war with Japan. “[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say,” the captain said in February after witnessing “massive” Chinese military exercises in the Pacific. More
Supreme Court Women Raise Questions on Contraception Coverage
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgJustices Kagan, Sotomayor and Ginsburg aggressively questioned the corporate challengers who want exemptions from providing contraception under Obamacare at Tuesday’s oral arguments. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties say the measure violates their religious freedoms The three women of the Supreme Court dominated questioning at the beginning of Tuesday’s oral arguments in a case pitting religious business owners against the new health care reform law’s mandate that employer-provided insurance cover contraceptive care. The court case will determine whether Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned craft store chain, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet company, can be exempted from providing contraception coverage to female employees through federally mandated health insurance policies. Supreme Court proceedings make for notoriously difficult and unreliable predictors of how justices might rule on a case. That said, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasted no time in pressing the corporate challengers, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s live blog of the oral arguments. MORE
Monsanto package admits seeds treated with ‘poison,’ advises against human consumption
Images are surfacing across the internet that illustrate the true dangers associated with genetically modified (GM) seeds, as admitted by the seeds’ manufacturers. The Food Warrior Network recently posted a photo of a seed package distributed by Monsanto India Limited, for instance, that warns users not to consume the seeds or use them as food, oil or animal feed, because they are poisonous. This shocking photo is sparking controversy among many health advocates, particularly as the biotechnology industry ramps up the propaganda machine to reassure the public that GMOs are safe and no different from natural organisms. On the contrary, GM seeds are admittedly dangerous and not safe for human consumption, which means the widespread industry claim that they are substantially identical to natural seeds is wholly false. ”Caution: Seeds treated with poison,” reads the package warning accompanying the seeds. “Do not use for food, feed or oil purpose.” More
Egypt’s Sisi says he will run for president
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Ukraine far right leader shot dead in gunfight with police
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Obama goes “Cold War” style in speech against Russia
Brazil passes bill to stop NSA data collection