A political analyst has warned of rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine, saying the two countries seem to be gearing up for a war, Press TV reports. In an interview on Saturday, William Jones said Washington and Moscow are preparing for war by increasing troops on the borders of Ukraine as well as maintaining military presence in the country’s neighboring states. “We are preparing for war. The increase of [US] troops on the eastern border [of Ukraine with Russia], more troops, more planes to the Baltic States, to Romania, [and] to all of the countries bordering Russia at the same time that the Russians are maintaining their own defense capability [show that], we are really in something of a prewar situation,” he added.
“I think that you are looking at a situation which can very easily lead to war and that is a war between nuclear powers,” he added. The analyst noted that Washington is trying to impose more sanctions on Russia as part of an attempt “to find a scapegoat” for the turmoil in Ukraine. Tensions between the US and Russia heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16. Meanwhile, pro-Russia rallies have been a common scene across eastern Ukrainian cities over the past weeks with protesters demanding local referendums on either independence or integration into Russia. Press TV
A special flight to bring the flame to Moscow will leave from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, arriving in the Russian capital at 10:30 pm local time. This year marks the eleventh consecutive Easter that The Holy Fire, which symbolizes the miraculous light of the Resurrection, is being brought to Russia from Israel. This year it will be taken for the first time to Crimea, the former Ukrainian region that became part of Russia in March. The flame, described by Orthodox Christians as an annual miracle, was lit on Holy Saturday – the day preceding Orthodox Easter – after Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem delivered his prayer. In the morning the room had been carefully checked for any possible sources of fire. After this, the room was sealed in the presence of Israeli police. The patriarch then passed the fire over to believers. Although the Holy Fire has been a major Eastern Orthodox ritual for so long, Western Catholic and Protestant churches do not recognize the practice. More
DAYS OF LOT – Great news for Spain’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community: the nation tops a list of 40 countries most accepting of homosexuality, according to aPew Research Center’s Global Views on Morality poll. Fifty-five percent of Spanish participants surveyed in the poll described homosexuality as “morally acceptable,” while 38 percent deemed it “not a moral issue.” Just six percent felt that homosexuality was “morally unacceptable.” The results were less optimistic in nations like Ghana and Russia, where 98 percent and 72 percent of participants deemed homosexuality “morally unacceptable,” respectively. In the United States, 35 percent felt that homosexuality was “not a moral issue,” while 37 percent described it as “morally unacceptable.” Twenty-three percent of Americans felt it was “morally acceptable,” according to the poll. The Global Views on Morality survey also examined national views on issues like extramarital affairs, abortion and alcohol consumption. You can read more about the survey here. More
Bad news, earthlings. A former NASA scientist says it’s mere happenstance that an Armageddon-style asteroid hasn’t hit a densely populated area in the last few years. On Tuesday, the B612 Foundation, which is devoted to preventing the next deep impact, will present data from a nuclear-weapons test warning satellite showing that far more asteroids have hit earth in the past few years than previously thought, the organization announced on its website. The data, collected from a nuclear missile detection system that picks up large blasts on earth, shows that since 2001, asteroids have caused 26 explosions on the scale of an atomic bomb. “This data shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare, but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought,” Ed Lu, one of the astronauts working on the project, said in a statement. “The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.” The silver lining?
Scientists are working to deflect any future space rocks from our planet. Lu, along with fellow ex-astronauts Tom Jones and Bill Anders, has been attempting to develop a better asteroid early-warning system, the Sentinel Infrared Space Telescope, which they hope will become “the principal means by which nearly all asteroid discoveries will be made.” In an interview with Wired, Lu explained that the telescope will work by scanning the sky in infrared, which will allow it to calculate the trajectory and velocity of asteroids. NASA has made efforts to track asteroids, but they haven’t been as aggressive as the B612 scientists would like. In 1998, NASA established the Near-Earth Object Program Office to detect potentially hazardous comets and asteroids. In March, the agency announced a contest for scientists to develop asteroid-detecting algorithms, a year after a meteorite explosion in Russia made international headlines. Huffington Post
WARREN, Mich. – A mayor in Michigan has denied the request of an atheist activist to erect a ‘reason station’ near an existing ‘prayer station’ at city hall. Warren resident and member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) Douglas Marshall recently submitted a request to the Downtown Development Authority to use the atrium at city hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to run a “reason station,” where he would promote free thought. However, according to reports, Marshall requested the same times that the “prayer station” is utilized to offer prayers for residents. Mayor Jim Fouts denied the request, stating that Marshall’s display was meant to purposefully interfere with the “prayer station” and could lead to disruption. He remarked that FFRF seeks to remove God from public life and he would not allow Marshall, whom he called a “designated hitter” for the organization, to succeed in the group’s efforts in his city.
“To my way of thinking, your group is strictly an anti-religion group intending to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms or at least discourage the practice of religion,” Fouts wrote. “The City of Warren cannot allow this.” “I believe it is this group’s intention to disrupt those who participate in the prayer station, which would also be a violation of the freedom of religion amendment,” he continued. “For these reasons, I cannot approve of your request.” Marshall told the Detroit News that he has complained about the presence of the “prayer station” in the past. “I have complained to the mayor that I thought it was a violation of the Constitution for the city to allow public property to be used by a church to proselytize their religion,” he said. More
Weinstein said that he takes no issue with the National Day of Prayer itself, but believes that the Task Force is using the event to push Christianity on the people. “The National Day of Prayer Task Force is to the National Day of Prayer as what a National Football League al-Qaida chapter would be to the National Football League,” he stated, according to the Army Times. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) had requested military participation in the event, which will include a color guard, a military band, a vocalist and a chaplain. Other scheduled speakers will include Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, James and Shirley Dobson of Focus on the Family and Vonette Bright, the co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Weinstein says that he has received over two dozen complaints from Pentagon workers who object to military participation the prayer gathering. He also expressed disappointment in his correspondence that the only Jewish representation at the event will be a messianic leader, since Weinstein himself is a Jew. More
While open enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they can’t find doctors, landing them into a state described as “medical homelessness.” Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand. Mirella Nguyen works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic. But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help. “They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor, “said Nguyen. Thinn Ong was thrilled to qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchange. She is paying $200 a month in premiums. But the single mother of two is asking, what for? “Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,” said a frustrated Ong. Nguyen said the newly insured patients checked the physicians’ lists they were provided and were told they weren’t accepting new patients or they did not participate in the plan.
And Nguyen says – while the free clinic isn’t technically supposed to be treating former patents they signed up for insurance, they can’t in good faith turn them away. Dr. Kevin Grumbach of UCSF called the phenomenon “medical homelessness,” where patients are caught adrift in a system woefully short of primary care doctors. “Insurance coverage is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to assure that people get access to care when they need it,” Grumbach said. Those who can’t find a doctor are supposed to lodge a complaint with state regulators, who have been denying the existence of a doctor shortage for months. Meanwhile, the sick and insured can’t get appointments. “What good is coverage if you can’t use it?” Nguyen said. Experts said the magnitude of the problem is growing, and will soon be felt by all Californians. But those on the front lines, like the free clinic, are feeling it first. More than 3 million Californians are newly insured. At the same time, a third of our primary care doctors are set to retire. CBS SF Bay
“It turns out that the odds increase for California to be wet the stronger the event is.” For now, the monthly update on the oceanic conditions that drive El Niño and its sibling, La Nina, put out by the Climate Prediction Center is mum on the potential size of the event. “In our view, there is not a 100 percent chance there will be an El Niño,” Halpert said. The center’s latest outlook, issued on April 10, just gives better than even odds that one of any size will form. Other experts are more bullish on the prospects for an El Niño, including Klaus Wolter at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. He independently tracks El Niño conditions using an index based on observations of six variables such as sea surface and air temperatures as well as winds and clouds in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The index has pointed toward El Niño formation since last December. The index, he said, reinforces what a battery of computer models say: that it looks increasingly likely that there could be a large-scale El Niño. In fact, the majority of a type of model based on conditions in the ocean and atmosphere “say that this looks bigger; this doesn’t look like just your small event that is not going to produce that much impact.” Another researcher bullish on the prospects of another El Niño is Wenju Cai, a climate scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia who is the lead author of a paper published this January in Nature Climate Change that predicted the frequency of extreme El Niño events will double this century.More
The Polish minister’s calls were mirrored by NATO’s top military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who said in an interview this month that one of the options the alliance has on the table is to move a 4,500-member combat brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, to Europe. The Pentagon so far has not given any details about the planned deployment, saying it has multiple options under consideration. But a senior US official told Fox news on Friday that around 130 soldiers may be sent to Poland on a rotational basis. The US military also announced on Friday the dispatch of a US Army company of about 150 soldiers to Poland to take part in a two-week land-forces exercise.NATO’s military response to the Ukrainian crisis was to deploy additional aircraft for patrols in European airspace and to send American warships into the Black Sea. Relations between Russia and the West became strained after an armed coup in February deposed President Viktor Yanukovich following months of protests. Moscow considers the events to have been orchestrated by the EU and the US and does not recognize the post-coup authorities as legitimate. Moscow reserved the right to use its military force in Ukraine, should massive violence occur there targeting ethnic Russians. It also accepted Crimea, when it voted to break up from Ukraine and become part of Russia. Russia is eyeing the ongoing turmoil in eastern Ukraine cautiously, where Kiev is trying to suppress anti-government protests with the use of military force. NATO members in Eastern Europe are concerned that the Russian military is strong enough to defeat their national militaries and have been calling on the US to ensure their protection from possible aggression. Moscow believes that the alliance is seeking justification for its existence by blowing the tension over Ukraine out of proportion. RT
Boston intends to run the marathon again Monday under heavy security and restrictions. The Islamic Caucasus Emirate, or Imarat Kavkaz, has links to al-Qaida and has openly proclaimed itself a threat to the U.S. and the West. In May 2011, the State Department designated the IK as a terrorist organization. “The designation of Caucasus Emirate is in response to the threats posed to the United States and Russia,” according to Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, who was State’s coordinator for counterterrorism at the time. “The attacks perpetrated by Caucasus Emirate illustrate the global nature of the terrorism problem we face today,” he said. In a July 2013 statement, the IK’s then-leader, Dokku Umarov, had declared that his group was “part of the global jihad. The IK’s media outlet, the Kavkaz Center, recently confirmed that its emir had been killed, presumably in an ambush, although it never provided details, referring to him only as a “martyr.” His comments followed by three months the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and maimed 265 others. The pressure cooker bombers were based on a recipe taken directly from an al-Qaida bomb-making instruction booklet. The detailed instructions came from the magazine Inspire, published by AQAP, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. More
On Tuesday, a New York Times reporter in Tehran spotted an American plane at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, an extremely unique sight given the harsh sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and other Western nations. For an American plane to enter Iran legally, a number of hoops would need to be jumped through. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control needs to give approval for an American aircraft to travel to Iran—they gave a “no comment” to the Times. Complicating things further, the jet’s engines are made by General Electric, meaning that the Commerce Department would also have to sign off on allowing American-made equipment to enter the isolated country. So whose plane is it? The plane’s tail number is N604EP, which records show is owned by the Bank of Utah (it also has a small American flag on its tail).
This means almost nothing. As the Times notes, the Bank of Utah is a relatively small community bank with 13 branches in the state. However, the bank is a trustee for 1,169 planes, “more planes than just about any other bank.” Owning the plane through a trust allows the owner privacy. A bank employee said that the bank has no operation control or financial exposure to the planes. They’re owners by proxy. There is one slight clue though. The jet was spotted in Zurich, Switzerland on January 22, 2014, right around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos. That probably narrows the list down to 2,633 powerful people. The plane was also in Accra, Ghana on January 3 and in Luton, England on October 1 of last year and February 16 of this year. If you own a Bombardier Challenger CL-604 with the tail number N604EP, or know somebody who does, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
- Avocados likely to go up 17 to 35 cents to as much as $1.60 each.
- Berries likely to rise 21 to 43 cents to as much as $3.46 per clamshell container.
- Broccoli likely to go up 20 to 40 cents to a possible $2.18 per pound.
- Grapes likely to rise 26 to 50 cents to a possible $2.93 per pound.
- Lettuce likely to rise 31 to 62 cents to as much as $2.44 per head.
- Packaged salad likely to go up 17 to 34 cents to a possible $3.03 per bag.
- Peppers likely to go up 18 to 35 cents to a possible $2.48 per pound.
- Tomatoes likely to rise 22 to 45 cents to a possible $2.84 per pound.
So what happens if the drought does not end any time soon? Scientist Lynn Ingram, who has studied the climate history of the state of California extensively, told CBS News that we could potentially be facing “a century-long megadrought” in California. If that does indeed turn out to be the case, we could be facing huge price increases for produce year after year. And it isn’t just crops that are grown in the United States that we need to be concerned about. As NBC News recently reported, the price of cocoa is absolutely soaring and that is going to mean much higher prices for chocolate… More
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – A sudden lurch in a creeping landslide in the northwest Wyoming resort town of Jackson split a house in two and forced workers to abandon just-begun efforts to stabilize the hillside. A huge crack in the ground that had opened up under the house a couple weeks ago shifted several feet downhill in less than a day, breaking off a room or two and leaving a door swinging above the precipice. Rocks and dirt tumbled down in an almost constant stream and a geologist warned much bigger chunks could fall. The ground had been moving at a rate of an inch a day. ”As it starts to get moving, it will start to get faster,” George Machan, a landslide specialist consulting for the town, said at a town meeting Friday. Still, Machan said the ground was unlikely to liquefy and collapse suddenly like the March 22 landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed 39 people. More likely, large blocks of earth would tumble down piece by piece, he said, perpetuating the drawn-out threat to four homes on the hill and to two apartment buildings and four businesses below. Town officials first noticed significant hill movement April 4. They evacuated 42 homes and apartment units April 9. Between Thursday night and Friday morning, the shifting earth had bulged a road and a parking lot at the foot of the hill by as much as 10 feet. The groundswell pushed a small town water pump building 15 feet toward West Broadway, the town’s main drag. Efforts to slow the slide – such as pouring rock and dirt fill behind large, L-shaped concrete barriers arranged in a line at the base of the slide – were on hold to keep workers out of the danger zone. ”It’s really not safe to put people out there.
You try to do what you can, but at some point you’re really restricted from entering the area,” Machan said. On a town webcam, pedestrians could be seen pausing in the rain now and then to gawk at the slide zone that’s as big as three or four football fields. Cars and trucks on West Broadway also slowed occasionally, the cause of at least one fender-bender Friday and a police warning for lollygaggers. ”Everybody’s looking over there instead of looking where they’re driving,” Lt. Cole Nethercott said. On Monday, town officials lifted the evacuation for residents of about 30 homes outside the high-risk zone but said they couldn’t drive on the neighborhood street. They’ve had to walk to and from home by cutting across private property. On Friday, not even work crews could drive on Budge Drive, which was buckled several feet. Town officials said they didn’t know what was causing the slide but noted the area has seen considerable road-grading over the past few decades. The latest work was last year’s construction of the Walgreens drug store, which opened in January. My Way News
The company-size Army exercise that is planned is far from the sort of NATO deployment that Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, suggested this month when he told reporters that he wanted the alliance to deploy two combat brigades with as many as 5,000 troops each in Poland. This week, NATO’s top military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, gave members of the alliance a range of options for strengthening its military posture in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, along with his own recommendations. The measures include immediate, midterm and long-term steps. One option, General Breedlove said in an interview this month, is to move the 4,500-member American combat brigade from Fort Hood, Tex., to Europe. But Obama administration officials have not publicly supported such a step. The first hint that the Obama administration plans to announce that American troops would be sent to Poland was provided on Friday by The Washington Post, which noted that Mr. Siemoniak had said that the move had been agreed to on a political level but provided no details. The United States has already sent 12 F-16 fighter jets and 200 support personnel to Poland. NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said this week that the alliance would fly more air patrols over the Baltic region and that allied ships would deploy to the Baltic Sea. Mr. Rasmussen left open the possibility for additional deployments, including on land. “More will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come,” he said. NATO officials have said that a number of member nations in addition to the United States were offering to provide ground troops, which could be sent to Eastern European members through the end of the year.
Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said Idaho forests and rangeland managed by the state have suffered less damage and watershed degradation from wildfire than have lands managed by federal agencies. ”It’s time the states in the West come of age,” Bedke said. “We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado.” Ivory said the issue is of interest to urban as well as rural lawmakers, in part because they see oilfields and other resources that could be developed to create jobs and fund education. Moreover, the federal government’s debt threatens both its management of vast tracts of the West as well as its ability to come through with payments in lieu of taxes to the states, he said. Utah gets 32 percent of its revenue from the federal government, much of it unrelated to public lands. ”If we don’t stand up and act, seeing that trajectory of what’s coming … those problems are going to get bigger,” Ivory said. More
Syria activists accuse Assad of gas attack