Reports of Ebola Suspected In Europe/Ex-mayor exposes real scale of radiation in Fukushima/50%+ Afghan kids starving and more signs of JESUS’ soon return


DAYS OF LOT – ‘Rent’ performance too risque for some students, Nudity and Groping

Parents of students who were exposed to a raunchy performance from the musical “Rent” during a high- school music festival at Arizona State University are upset that their teens were not warned about the explicit content of the show. Andrew McConaghie of Mesa said his 17-year-old daughter and “rows and rows” of students filed out of Gammage Auditorium last week when a song from the show was performed during a larger concert showcasing the university’s various musical ensembles. The university’s Lyric Opera Theatre program performed a song called “La Vie Boheme,” which high-school students said was full of sexual overtones and included a woman mooning the audience. McConaghie said his daughter was embarrassed and shocked. ”If they were exposed to this anywhere else, the police would be there arresting them for public indecency,” he said. Heather Landes, interim director of ASU’s School of Music, said that the young audience should have been forewarned about the content and that she “deeply regrets” the situation. She said in a statement that the university is taking steps to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Parents say the lack of warning is what frustrates them most. They say it’s one thing for people to buy tickets to a show they know is going to include sexual themes. It’s another to have the material presented to minors with no warning. ”Rent” is a popular rock musical that explores the journeys of young artists in New York City and deals with serious subjects such as AIDS and drug addiction.

The performance in question took place last week when several hundred high-school students were gathered for the Arizona All-State music festival. Students had to audition and be selected for the three-day event, which culminated in concerts. The university received about 15 e-mails or calls after the “Rent” performance, mostly from parents who heard about it from their children. Some theater advocates have a different take on the material contained in “Rent.” D. Scott Withers directed a youth version of the musical five or six years ago at Scottsdale’s Greasepaint Youth Theatre. He said the adult version is “absolutely appropriate” to show to teens. There should be a warning that the show contains sexually explicit material, Withers said. ”(Teens) certainly can see anything in a movie that is PG-13 that could be every bit as scandalous, if not worse,” he said. Withers said he doesn’t know the circumstances surrounding the production at ASU. He could see how some students might be offended, but he urged an open mind. ”I feel like you need to see all perspectives and all aspects of life,” he said. “It’s not necessarily calling your morals or ethics into question if you watch it.” Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Michael Cowan said Mesa students were among those who left the performance. He said he received calls from staff members who were at the performance but does not recall getting calls from parents. ”We sent a letter of concern to ASU,” he said. Spencer Warren, a junior at Mesquite High School in Gilbert, attended the festival and took part in the choral production. The 17-year-old got a text message from a friend before the song from “Rent” began. He said the text was passed on to his friend by a faculty member at a Valley high school who had seen a rehearsal of the song the day before. The text said to let students know that the “Rent” performance of “La Vie Boheme” “will be extremely suggestive and crude — I saw it yesterday and they R not planning on editing it. Just FYI. Sorry. No control.” More

Canadians rally to legalize marijuana

Several thousand people came out in Canada’s biggest cities to call for the legalization of marijuana — a yearly protest that happens internationally on April 20. The demonstrations — dubbed the “420″ rallies after the date, 4/20 in North American style, and the code-term popularly used to refer to pot consumption — took place in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa. In each city, including the capital, Ottawa, where protesters gathered on the lawn near the parliament building, music groups played for the crowds. The atmosphere was similar to the annual 420 festival celebrating marijuana in the US city of Denver, where, for this first time this year, the drug is legal for recreational use. In Montreal, a strong police presence surrounded the demonstrators, while in Ottawa and Vancouver, a pizza chain offered a free slice to any participant in the rally celebrating a drug known to prompt the munchies. The code 420 is most often used in North America, attributed to a group of young pot-lovers in the 1970s who met up at 4:20 pm. Last year, Canada’s conservative government opened the door to relaxing the law banning marijuana consumption, suggesting a switch to fines for small-scale possession, as opposed to prosecution in court. But they did not discuss completely decriminalizing the use of the drug, as has been floated by the Liberal party. Yahoo News

California drought hits food banks.

The effects of California’s drought could soon hit the state’s food banks, which serve 2 million of its poorest residents. Fresh produce accounts for more than half the handouts at Bay Area food banks, but with an estimated minimum of 500,000 acres to be fallowed in California, growers will have fewer fruits and vegetables to donate. With less local supply, food prices will spike, increasing as much as 34 percent for a head of lettuce and 18 percent for tomatoes, according to an Arizona State University study released last week. With fewer fields planted, there could be as many as 20,000 unemployed agricultural workers who will need more food handouts, especially in the Central Valley. And if urban food banks like those in Oakland and San Francisco can’t get produce from the valley, which grows a third of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, their transportation costs to haul in out-of-state produce will soar. Sue Sigler, head of the California Association of Food Banks, calls it “a perfect storm” of drought-related factors.

“It’s not like we can raise our prices – everything is free,” said Paul Ash, director of the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank, which distributes 149,000 meals a day across the two counties. “Not knowing (what the drought’s effect will be) is a real frustration. We have to be planners, and it’s hard to do that right now.”  The Alameda County Community Food Bank expects to distribute roughly 17.8 million pounds of produce next year – about 14.5 million of that amount via the California Association of Food Banks. The Alameda County food bank pays 11 cents a pound to cover picking, packing and freight costs. Even a 1 cent per pound increase could mean $145,000 in additional costs. With an annual budget of $12 million, the organization can’t take too many hits like that. ”There’s absolutely a lot of nervousness here,” said Allison Pratt, director of policy and services at the Alameda County food bank. More

Humans will compete with droids for jobs by 2040.

By 2040, cabs will be driven by Google robots, shops will become showrooms for online outlets and call centres will be staffed by intelligent droids. That’s the scenario depicted in recent research which suggests robots could be taking over our lives and jobs in less than 30 years. The competition for work caused by a rise in the robots population will see us heading to surgeons for ‘additional processing power for our brains’, they claim. We may also be requesting bionic implants for our hands that will make us able to perform tasks as fast as any machine. Futurologists, commissioned by global job search website, say workers will have less job security and will work more unsociable hours. Those who take these risks and innovate with their own bodies will be the biggest earners in 2040, they claim. However, the study added that workers may be left with poor eyesight, smaller sexual organs, and constantly-furrowed brows as they struggle to keep up to life in the 21st century. Experts expect the current 37.4 hour working week to increase by a third to 50.5 hours.   The gloomy study predicts we will work several ‘micro jobs’ from a desk in our bedroom, and across different time zones. That would spell the end of the commute, drinks after work with colleagues, the office Christmas party, and the excuse ‘I’m just working late, dear’.

Futurologists believe many of us will become ‘jack-of-all-trades’, working across multiple timezones – reflecting the growing dominance of China. A worker may take care of customer service for a New York employer, chase accounts for a Singapore-based boss and come up with marketing ideas for a brand in Delhi. The job listings in 2040 will contain roles unrecognisable today as technology develops at an even faster pace, the study claims. Rhys Maddocks, director of XPat Jobs, said: ‘People will be surprised how fast things will change. ‘Technology and computers have only really touched the work market so far. ‘That and the globalisation of all work will revolutionise the way we think of work in the next 25 years. ‘But that is not to say work will simply go away. ‘There will always be entrepreneurial thinking that sees a use of real human interaction and jobs that require ideas, complex problem-solving and the caring touch can’t be partly of wholly replaced by machines.’ Looking at shifts they are already seeing in the labour market, XPat Jobs have come up with the careers today’s children should be looking to study for if they want a job in 25 years. More


Experts warn civilian world not ready for EMP-caused blackout.

The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable. “The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way.”  He said the more officials plan, the lower the estimated cost gets. “If you do a smart plan — the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that you could protect the whole country for about $2 billion,” Pry told

“That’s what we give away in foreign aid to Pakistan every year.” In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die. That’s the worst-case scenario that author William R. Forstchen estimated in 2011 would be the result of an EMP on the electric grid — whether by an act of God, or a nuclear missile detonating in Earth’s upper atmosphere. An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to disable, and even destroy, nearby electronic devices. The scenario sounds like something in a Hollywood film, but the U.S. military has been preparing its electronic systems for such an event since the Cold War. The protective measures taken to harden facilities against a nuclear attack also help in some cases to protect against EMPs. The civilian world is another story.  States have been working to fill in the legislative and regulatory gap left by Congress, as previously reported by, and private companies have been developing technologies that would protect against EMPs. In 2011, state utilities commissioners recognized the need to invest in equipment that could help protect the power grid, but experts continue to warn that time to do so is running  out. More

Oklahoma militia members join fight with feds, Ready to take up Arms

  – A land dispute in Nevada  between rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government began decades ago. The Bureau of Land Management says Bundy was allowing his cattle to graze illegally, which triggered a round-up of about 400 head of cattle last week. Bundy claims his family’s cattle have grazed on the land since 1870 without interference from the government. However, the Bureau of Land Management says Bundy hadn’t paid his grazing fees since 1993. Over time, officials say those fees have amounted to more than $1 million. As authorities herded the cattle, a standoff was sparked with members of the militia. Organizers with the Oklahoma Militia say they have members in Nevada who claim Bundy’s cattle were unlawfully herded by the bureau. The Oklahoma Militia says it is made up of nearly 50,000 volunteers. Members say they are taking Bundy’s side and fear this practice could spread to the Sooner State. Scott Shaw said, “Evidently in America we don’t actually own the property anymore, if you ever did.” Shaw says Oklahoma Militia members are ready to take up arms against the federal government if needed.

He said, “It’s up to the feds, the balls in their court! You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. We’re going to resist you!” Shaw says the militia has not had to defend Oklahoma from the government yet but members are becoming concerned. Shaw said, “Just look around the country, they are doing it everywhere. If they can do it in Nevada, they can do it in Colorado, Texas. I mean, what’s to stop them from coming to Oklahoma? The only thing to stop them is ‘We the People.” However, not everyone agrees. Sen. Jim Inhofe said, “You’ve got a bunch of people there trying to take the law into their own hands and they shouldn’t be doing that. And the Bureau of Land Management is not government-owned, it’s publicly owned. There’s a big difference there. I blame both sides.” The Bureau of Land Management released the cattle after confiscating them.News Channel 4


Woman will have Abortion to be on “Reality TV” Show

An aspiring glamour model who said she wanted an abortion so she could appear on Big Brother has today revealed her growing baby bump. Josie Cunningham, 24, sparked outrage when she had a £4,800 breast enlargement operation on the NHS.  She is now four months pregnant after falling into a life of prostitution. Yesterday, the aspiring model said she planned to abort the child to further her television career, adding: ‘This time next year I won’t have a baby. I’ll be famous instead.’  Ms Cunningham, from Leeds, said she had been on the shortlist to appear on Big Brother – but was reluctant to proceed because of her pregnancy.  She told the Sunday Mirror: ‘An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. ’Instead I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way.’ She added: ‘I want to be famous for being me – Josie Cunningham, a glamour model in my own right.  ’If I want to do that I need to put my career first.’ Ms Cunningham has now posed in a series of photographs showing off her growing baby bump. Today, Ms Cunningham posted a confusing message on Twitter to those criticising her – which hinted she may be getting more surgery on the NHS. It read: ‘Thanks for strengthening my case for more cosmetic surgery on NHS! Proof that a certain feature affects my life.’ She also posted an image of a hand-written message which either read:  ‘Thank You £0 Online Trolls Josie x’ or ‘Thank You to Online Trolls Josie x.’  Furthermore, as mothers-to-be are entitled to free dental care, Ms Cunningham is said to be applying to receive a variety of procedures on the NHS. The shameless model is reportedly set to haveroot canal surgery, a dental implant, a filling and her wisdom teeth removed. Ms Cunningham said she was pleased the NHS would be footing the bill for her dentistry. ’I didn’t get pregnant to have my teeth sorted, but it’s a massive bonus,’ she told The Sun. ’I’m sure people will be annoyed that I’m accepting this freebie but I couldn’t care less.’ She said that she was annoyed the free dental care would only cover a silver filling, but added: ‘I guess beggars can’t be choosers’.  Ms Cunningham revealed she was pregnant last month – posting an image of her baby’s scan to her 927 followers on Twitter.  The unmarried mother-of-two, who says she is no longer working as an escort, does not know who the father of her unborn child is. More


About 200 fish turn up dead in Byrd Park lake

Adolph Anderson was aimlessly dipping an empty fishhook into Fountain Lake at Byrd Park on Wednesday afternoon when a man excitedly pointed out a massive carp swimming nearby. Anderson politely informed the man that he had no interest in fishing at Fountain Lake after what he had just seen. The lake was littered with about 200 dead fish. “Great doggy!” said Edwin Ruffin, another visitor to the lake on Wednesday, after he saw several dozen dead fish. “That’s gross. Wow. You can even smell that odor now. … Somebody needs to look into this.” Bill Hayden, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality, said the agency learned about the fish kill Wednesday afternoon and sent a biologist to check. The biologist found poor water quality in the lake, including an abundance of algae that might have proliferated during recent warm days, Hayden said. Large amounts of thick, green algae had accumulated near the edges of the lake, as well as what appeared to be pollen. About 200 bluegills died, Hayden said. The specific cause of the fish kill wasn’t clear, but there was no indication of a spill or toxic-chemical problem, which probably would have killed more than one species, Hayden said. Parkgoer Sheila Luellen said Wednesday that she was concerned about the health of the park. She was among several people who stopped to look at the dead fish and speculated about what might have gone wrong. Tamara E. Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, said on Wednesday that she was not aware of the dead fish at the lake. Times


Public smoke-out marks pot holiday in Colorado

 (AP) — Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana. The 4:20 p.m. smoke-out in the shadow of the Colorado capitol was the capstone of an Easter weekend dedicated to cannabis in states across the country. Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police reported only 130 citations or arrests over the course of the two-day event, 92 for marijuana consumption. ”It feels good not to be persecuted anymore,” said Joe Garramone, exultantly smoking a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played on a vast lawn crowded with fellow smokers. The Garramone family came from Hawaii, among the tens of thousands who crowded into various cannabis-themed extravaganzas, from a marijuana industry expo called the Cannabis Cup at a trade center north of downtown to 4/20-themed concerts at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. Acts included Slightly Stoopid and Snoop Dogg. At 4:20 p.m., an enormous plume of marijuana smoke wafted into the sky above downtown Denver as rapper B.o.B. belted out his song “Strange Clouds,” with the hook: “And all we do is light it up, all night/All you see is strange clouds/Strange clouds, strange clouds.” The Civic Center Park event is the most visible sign of the pot holiday’s transformation.

It started as a defiant gathering of marijuana activists, but this year the event has an official city permit, is organized by an events management company and featured booths selling funnel cakes and Greek food next to kiosks hawking hemp lollipops and glass pipes.  Gavin Beldt, one of the organizers, said in a statement that the event is now a “celebration of legal status for its use in Colorado and our launch of an exciting new experience for those attending.” Denver is just one of many cities across the country where 4/20 marijuana celebrations were planned Sunday. In Trenton, N.J., speakers urged a crowd of about 150 gathered at the statehouse to push state and federal lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize marijuana and called on Gov. Chris Christie to do what he can to help medical marijuana patients. Among those at the rally was Jawara McIntosh, the youngest son of noted reggae musician and pro-marijuana activist Peter Tosh. More

Restaurant’s Easter Ad Shows Jesus Smoking A Blunt

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SEATTLE, Wash. (CBS Seattle) – A restaurant is taking advantage of Easter falling on a specific date. With Easter Sunday falling on 4/20, the Lunchbox Laboratory has been using an ad showing Jesus holding a sandwich to promote an Easter 2-for-1 promotion on their “Burger of the Gods,” according to KOMO News. This year, the restaurant modified the ad and showed Jesus smoking a blunt while holding a sandwich. The restaurant sent it out to 15,000 people on its email list. “This is not about Jesus, it’s about the burger of the gods. It’s an actual burger that we have,” John Schmidt, owner of Lunchbox Laboratory, told KOMO. The ad has been shown through social media and gone viral. “I’m not your moral guide in life, I’m selling burgers,” Schmidt, who runs three Lunchbox Laboratory restaurants, told KOMO. “It’s not an anti-Christian message, it’s a very peaceful message, Jesus enjoying a sandwich and a blunt.” The ad only cost a couple of hundred dollars to create and has already generated tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising for the restaurant as it was picked up by several media outlets. Many people on social media wonder if Schmidt would do the same with the prophet Muhammad instead of Jesus. “I’m a Christian, I’m not a Muslim, and this is an ad promoting our Burger of the Gods, not a burger of the prophets,” Schmidt told KOMO. Schmidt has apologized to anyone he might have offended but is very proud of his creativity. “If Jesus was holding a goblet of wine you wouldn’t be interviewing me right now, but you put a joint in his hand, a very peaceful drug, its blasphemy,” he told KOMO. Schmidt said the promotion will be used again next year, except the joint will be removed because Easter falls on April 5, 2015.  CBS Seattle

How Microsoft Created A Virtual Assistant That Could Blow Siri Away

Windows Phone is still a distant third to Apple and Android in the smartphone market, but Microsoft is hoping to change that with the introduction of Windows Phone 8.1— and more importantly its personal digital assistant Cortana. Microsoft claims that Cortana isn’t like your average virtual assistant. She’s supposed to be a little wittier, more personable, and capable of learning more about you than Siri or Google Now. After using Cortana for a week and speaking with Microsoft’s Marcus Ash, Partner Group program manager, it’s clear that the company’s got a lot riding on the success of its new virtual assistant. But there’s still several obstacles in Microsoft’s way. Besides the competition from Apple and Google, virtual assistants still haven’t really become a mainstream part of a smartphone user’s everyday routine.  We sat down with Ash to talk about how Microsoft created Cortana, its plans for the future and its strategy in facing the competition.  Marcus Ash: If you want to make a real humanistic connection with that technology, the best thing you can do is find a set of humans that do the job we think this phone should be able to do. We [asked] them, ‘What do you do to really make the person that you work for happy?

What types of [tasks] do they ask you to do?’ The other area we were focusing on was how much personality we should attribute to this assistant. These machine learning systems need a lot of data. So if you don’t ask the right questions, then you’re not going to get the right data, and then the system can’t train itself. So it never really gets better.  We need to make sure that the voice actually has human sounding phrases to say. When you ask a question that you would ask a normal person, the system should respond the same way a person would respond. So we really thought of all those problems. So we thought let’s go talk to people who have these personal assistant jobs where we could get a flavor for how much of their personality comes through on the job. We examined the dynamic between the person that’s being assisted versus the assistant. You need a pleasant sounding voice. You need to make sure that voice sounds as human as you can possibly make it. More

DAYS OF LOT – Some Honest Questions for Professing ‘Gay Christians’

I have interacted with a number of men and women who identified as gay atheists, and their atheism and their homosexuality were interrelated, since they rejected the God of the Bible because they understood the Scriptures reject homosexual practice. And so, given the choice of rejecting their own identity or rejecting a God whom they understood rejected them, they chose to reject Him. Today, however, more and more men and women who identify as LGBT are professing to be devoted Christians, believing that the church has wrongly interpreted the Scriptures through the centuries and claiming that committed, monogamous same-sex relationships can be blessed by God. It is for those of you who identify as both gay and Christian that I’d like to ask some honest questions. You may take them as adversarial, but in reality, I ask these questions in the love of God and the fear of God, being jealous for your well-being in the Lord. And while it’s easy for some people to throw around the hate word, you will not find a syllable of hate in these words, because there’s not an ounce of hate in my heart.

1. Are you 100 percent sure that your interpretation of Scripture regarding homosexuality is correct?

I’m sure that many of you went through terrible struggles trying to reconcile your sexual and romantic attractions with the Scriptures, and it must have been an incredible relief to you when you heard of a different reading of the Word, one which told you that you could pursue a God-blessed relationship with someone of the same sex. But are you 100 percent sure before God that your interpretation is correct? Are you willing to risk your soul in giving yourself to something that may truly be displeasing in His sight? I once heard a gay pastor give a talk about these issues at a local gay and lesbian center, and to my surprise, he was not dogmatic in his presentation, saying that he thought his interpretation was correct, but he was anything but sure and definite. I asked myself: Then how can he doing what he’s doing?
A few years after that, I participated in a forum at a local college together with a lesbian pastor and some others, and again, to my surprise, the lesbian pastor was not dogmatic either, encouraging everyone there to seek the Lord and study the Word for themselves. Of course, it’s good for us to be humble when approaching God and His Word, and none of us can claim to be right about every single doctrinal issue. But there are some hills that we must be sure enough to die on, and before you enter into a sexual relationship with someone, you had better be 100 percent sure that the union is holy in God’s sight and that the marriage is a real marriage. Paul wrote that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23), and so this is one mistake you really can’t afford to make. Again I ask: Are you 100 percent sure that God blesses committed, monogamous same-sex relationships? If you say that you are, I can only pray for you. If you admit that you are not, then please, step back and reconsider. More

Israel bombs terror sites in Gaza after tense morning

The Israel Air Force bombed three terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday following an attack on IDF forces and rocket attacks on Israel. Fighter jets struck three targets accurately and returned to base, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. There were no reports of casualties in Gaza. Earlier on Monday, terrorists in Gaza fired 7 rockets into Israel. The first 3 projectiles struck uninhabited areas in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and set off sirens and caused no damage. Another two rockets were launched and caused light damage in Sderot. In addition, the IDF reported that early Monday morning an RPG was launched toward IDF forces on the border but caused no injuries. IDF later shot warning shots into Gaza. The shots caused no reported injuries inside Gaza. Jerusalem Post

ALERT – Ebola Suspected In Europe: “Broken Through All Containment Efforts”

Though officials at the World Health Organization are feverishly working to stop the spread of the Ebola virus in what is now seven African nations, their efforts may be for naught. In Guinea, a hot spot for the deadly contagion, government health officials have said that the outbreak is nearly under control. Yet, Reuters reports that the government “planned to stop publicly releasing the death toll to avoid causing unnecessary panic.”  But panic may be in order. Despite the best efforts of emergency health workers it appears that virus may have crossed out of Africa into Europe. The outbreak of Ebola Virus in seven west African countries has broken through all containment efforts and is spreading like wildfire.  According to Christian Relief groups working in Guinea and Liberia, the number of confirmed infections jumped 15% in just the last 24 hours. In addition, 40 illegal alien migrant workers from the outbreak area, who came ashore in Pisa, Italy, are showing signs of Ebola infection and are being isolated in Pisa Italy because of fever and “conjunctivitis” (bloody around the eyes).  According to the World Health Organization, this strain of Ebola is entirely new and although it is close to the Zaire strain, it is different, thus accounting for false-negative test results . . . . . for weeks! Those false-negative results meant people who were actually infected with Ebola, were returned to their families and neighborhoods to recover from what they believed was the Flu or a case of food poisoning, only to spread the Ebola further. The result has been a complete loss of containment of this Ebola outbreak.

With the likely arrival of Ebola in Pisa, Italy, the European continent is now at severe risk. 
Italian officials deny the reports, but alternative media in the country suggests this is the reason for a complete lock down of a hospital in Pisa, where it is believed to have infected some 40 individuals. Other reports trickling in from various sources like social media indicate the virus may have also appeared about 50 miles from Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. Alarmingly, a story that appeared about the outbreak on national news wires was reportedly removed by the Italian government for “national security reasons,” suggesting that there is more to the reports than Italian officials are willing to express to the public at this time. Though they have denied that the Pisa hospital was locked down due to Ebola, they seem to be bracing for the possibility of a severe epidemic in Rome and Milan. More

Chinese Citizens Beat Government Bureaucrats During Mass Riot

Irate Chinese citizens savagely beat five government bureaucrats during an incident that escalated into a 1,000 strong riot on Saturday in another telltale sign of the Communist country’s increasing social tensions.   The disturbance began after members of the Chengguan municipal police, China’s widely loathed bureaucrats who enforce government regulations against street vendors, began harassing and beating a woman in the Cangnan County of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province.
When a bystander, 36 year-old Mr. Huang, came to the woman’s aid by filming the confrontation, he was reportedly attacked by cops with a hammer and began to vomit blood before dying on the way to hospital. After word spread on social media about what had just happened, a huge mob of citizens arrived to surround the Chengguan officers, who attempted to hide in their van. “Kill them, kill them!” chanted the mob as the officers were savagely beaten with bats, bricks and stones, leaving them bloodied and unconscious. “Angry onlookers deflated the van’s tires, while others smashed windows and doors with bricks, rocks, and wooden sticks. The men were dragged out of the van and beaten senseless by the mob,” reports Epoch Times. When an ambulance arrived to provide medical treatment, the mob tipped over the vehicle. Some reports state the the five cops were killed, but state media later claimed, “Two of the injured remained in a critical condition while a further three who suffered minor wounds received treatment.” INFO WARS

Japan ratchets China tension by building radar near disputed islands

Tokyo is likely to provoke wrath from Beijing after starting work on a new radar station close to the disputed Senkaku, or Diaoyu Islands, that have soured relations between the two Asian powerhouses in recent years. ”This is the first deployment since the U.S. returned Okinawa in 1972, and calls for us to be more on guard are growing,” Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told media during a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony on Yonaguni Island on Saturday. “I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan’s territory.” The high-tech radar outpost will be staffed by up to 150 soldiers after it becomes operational in 2016.  The 30 sq. kilometer Yonaguni Island has a population of about 1,500, and no economic importance, and is far closer to China and Taiwan than it is to Japan’s major isles.  But the station will give Tokyo an outpost from the contentious Senkaku Islands, located 150 km to the north.
The uninhabited rocks, which have been in Japan’s possession since the 19th century, are located in a key shipping lane, and are thought to sit on large unexplored oil reserves.  Since the 1970s, China has insisted that they are part of its territory, citing historic documents going back as far as the 14th century.  The stand-off has spiraled as China has grown more assertive about the archipelagos off its coast, and began to rapidly bolster its defense budget in the past decade.  A perceived threat from China has also stirred nationalistic feelings in mainland Japan, and officials accused Beijing of “attempts to change the status quo by coercion” in the government’s latest defense plan, published in December last year.  Last fiscal year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the defense budget for the first time in more than a decade. The two countries have symbolically signaled their defense readiness by scrambling planes over 400 times in the past 12 months, and by complex warship maneuvers, with the latest belligerent displays happening just last week.  A key role in any future resolution of the dispute is to be played by the US – China’s biggest economic partner and Japan’s staunch ally. More

A massive sinkhole threatens two homes in Sumter County. Peter Carpenter, a spokesperson with the Villages Fire Department said the sinkhole on Chalmer Terrace near St. Charles Place opened up a few weeks ago near the Villages.   ”It started as just a small hole in one yard, so the homeowners called out someone to fix it,” Carpenter said.  However, since that time, the hole has expanded more and more and now it’s at a point where authorities are worried about both homes.  “It’s about 25-30 feet across at the surface and we’re estimating between 40 and 60 feet deep,” said geologist Drew Glasbrenner. And just Saturday night alone, the sinkhole was spreading across the yard towards the roadway.  A few months ago, the homeowner called Bracken Engineers out to investigate sinkhole activity.


FOX 13 News
Glasbrenner and his team filled the small hole, then shored up the property using steel underpinnings, connecting the home’s foundation to the limestone underneath. Then suddenly, the rest of the earth dropped away overnight.  Heavy rains turned that once small hole into a huge cavity.  Now, those rods are all that is stopping the sinkhole from swallowing the house.“The house isn’t going to go anywhere, as long as the hole doesn’t move much past where it is right now.”One of the homes doesn’t have those underpinnings in place, so Glasbrenner is worried that the hole could give way. But, crews are dumping truckloads of filler into the hole filling it with a sand and cement mixture in hopes that it will stop the growth of the hole. “You can never know for sure but the repair should slow it down and eventually stop it from expanding.” Neither one of the families are home right now, so no one is in danger and none of the other residents have had to evacuate the neighborhood.  myfox tampa bay 

Boston Marathon under tight security

 – A year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others at the Boston Marathon, runners and spectators began filtering in Monday morning at the starting line in Hopkinton amid tight security. About 36,000 runners have registered for the race — the second-largest field in its history, many of them coming to show support for the event and the city that was shocked by the attack on its signature sporting event. ”I can’t imagine the number of emotions that are going to be there,” said Katie O’Donnell, who was running the marathon last year and made it 25½ miles before she was stopped less than a mile from the finish line when the twin bombs exploded. “I think I’m going to start crying at the starting line and I’m not sure I’ll stop until I cross the finish line.” The most obvious change for the 118th edition of the world’s oldest annual marathon was the heavy security presence. State and local police officers were everywhere, even on the rooftops of some buildings. But rather than creating a tense situation, everyone appeared relaxed. Some runners even thanked the police officers for making them feel safe. Buses bearing the message “Boston Strong” dropped off runners. A banner on one building read: “You are Boston Strong. You Earned This.” Spectators went through tight security checkpoints before being allowed near the common. ”There’ll be considerably more police presence,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”But we also don’t want to have it, you know, kind of a race through a militarized zone. So it’s about striking a balance, and I think we have struck that balance.” Runners attending the event will have to use clear plastic bags for their belongings, and fans hoping to watch near the finish line are encouraged to leave strollers and backpacks behind.
More than 100 cameras have been installed along the route in Boston, and 50 or so “observation points” will be set up around the finish line “to monitor the crowd,” the Boston Athletic Association said. Patrick said there have been no specific threats against the race or the city for the Massachusetts holiday of Patriots’ Day. ”We’re not taking that as a sign to sort of stand down,” he said. “We’re very prepared, and we’re assuring people as much as we can that it’ll be a fun day and a safe one.” Race organizers expanded the field from its recent cap of 27,000 to 36,000 make room for more than 5,000 runners who were still on the course at the time of the explosions, for friends and relatives of the victims and for those who made the case that they were “profoundly impacted” by the attack. Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, who crossed the finish line on Boylston Street about three hours before the explosions, will return to defend their championships. Desisa returned to Boston last fall to donate his first-place medal to the city as a gesture of support. Jeptoo, who also won the race in 2006, said she is hoping for a third victory — and one she can enjoy. ”It was very difficult to be happy. People were injured and children died,” she said of last year’s marathon. “If I’m going to win again, I hope I can be happier and to show people, like I was supposed to last year.” Authorities say two ethnic Chechen brothers who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia planned and orchestrated the marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges and is awaiting a trial in which he faces a possible death sentence. Prosecutors say the brothers also killed MIT police Officer Sean Collier days after the bombings in an attempt to steal his gun. WTOP


How Oculus Will Revolutionize the Battlefield

The virtual reality tool Oculus, a wow-producing technology recently acquired by Facebook, has the potential to transform entertainment, social networking — and warfighting, some defense contractors say. “It’s your terrain,” said A.J. Clark, president of Thermopylae Sciences + Technology, which makes mapping software for Google Glass and other wearable technology. ”It’s your environment. The stuff that we try to bring in is related to the where are your airplanes flying around? Let’s visualize that. Where are your ground forces moving around? Where are the threats to you?”  This week, his company demonstrated the technology to Pentagon officials at the GEOINT 2014 Symposium in Tampa. T-Sciences does not have any Defense Department customers yet. Since the headgear is not wireless, data security would not be much of an issue, Clark said.  “It’s really just another peripheral device, such as a new TV that you plug in” to display imagery on, he said. “There’s human-machine interaction components to it, and then there’s display components to it, all of which we’ve worked to secure.”  Early uses for the system might include training simulations, which for years have been aided by gaming technology, and real-world mission support.
On the battlefield, the system would feed live data from defense networks into the headgear. A service member would be “floating over the battle space, seeing all the information that’s been extracted from all the other existing systems,” and the technology is “letting the user interact and experience them in whole news way” with an eye to better mission control and tactical positioning, “because they could be there, as it were, virtually,” said T-Sciences Chief Innovation Officer John-Isaac Clark, who is A.J.’s brother. Facebook in March bought Oculus VR, maker of the $350 headset, for $2 billion. At the time, Facebook officials said they want to extend the uses of what could become “the most social platform ever,” into communications, media, entertainment, education and other areas.  The military currently is experimenting with other computerized headwear, including Google Glass. But it’s not the same as the Oculus experience, A.J. said. “Glass is about direct interaction with the real world,” he said. “Oculus is about interacting with potentially the real world but in a virtual setting. You’re walking through the real world.  You’re not going to walk around with Oculus on, or you’ll walk into a wall.” Defense One

Biometric identification that goes beyond fingerprints

Ready for ID by body odor? Or the butt scan? Neither are we. But in the brave new world of the biometric revolution, biomarkers like scent and derrière shape could open doors — literally. Or start your car. Or let you vote. This is not the distant future. Around the world, governments are rolling out massive biometric identification programs. Smartphone makers are acquiring all sorts of Minority Report-ish techologies. And for scientists, the race is on to find new, workable biomarkers, which go away beyond the iris scans and fingerprints we have now. Think recognition by gait, electrocardiogram, palm vein — and, yes, eau de you and tush shape, too.  Reliable studies on the size of the biometric market are hard to come by; estimates range from $3.6 billion to nearly $7 billion. But experts agree it’s growing fast — from 7 percent to 18 percent a year, depending on who’s projecting. Markets and Marketsclaims that the biometric systems market will be worth $23.5 billion by 2020. The rapid rollout of biometric ID systems holds some promise. Hundreds of millions of people lack formal identification, and that’s an obstacle to participating in society. Without ID, it’s hard to vote, register land or get a bank account, let alone a loan. States, meanwhile, have a hard time collecting the taxes of undocumented citizens. Those are all reasons that India’s Universal ID program, which has scanned the irises of 450 million unregistered citizens, has won so many plaudits. Biometrics are a different story in the developed world. In the United States, Europe and other regions, the worry is not that the state doesn’t know who you are, but that it knows too well — like Big Brother. Critics of biometric programs argue that important questions haven’t been resolved.
Who has the right to collect your biodata? Who gets to access it? How can it be used? And what happens in case of security failures? After all, you can change your passwords after a Heartbleed bug, but you can’t change your irises. Even agnostics agree that laws haven’t kept pace with the technology. “The technology itself is ethically neutral,” says Alan Gelb, a researcher at the Center for Global Development who studies national ID systems, including biometrics. “The question is how the technology is used.” But Gelb says there’s not enough oversight or regulation of the technologies. Although the 160 national ID programs Gelb and his co-researcher found go a long way toward bridging the “identity gap,” half of them lack adequate data-protection laws, he said. That’s one reason Scientific American argued in December that the biometric revolution “makes possible privacy violations that would make the National Security Agency’s data sweeps seem superficial by comparison.” Much biometric data are collected without the subject’s explicit consent — or even knowledge, says Jennifer Lynch, a senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Little is known about how it is used. Security is at stake, too, because biometric data is hard (if not impossible) to revoke or replace. “Data breaches occur all the time — who might get control of that data?” says Lynch. “I think we should be incredibly concerned over this.” More

US rolls out red carpet for French socialist

In his latest book, French economist Thomas Piketty warns that modern-day capitalism leads to unsustainable levels of inequality. While he is often linked to France’s Socialist Party, his writings have made him unusually popular in the US. Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has only just been translated into English – several weeks ahead of schedule, due to popular demand – and the New York Times’s star columnist Paul Krugman has already described it as “the most important economics book of the year — and maybe of the decade”. The French economist’s current US book tour is turning into something of a red carpet event. So far this week, he has met the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors as well as Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “The Democratic Party, especially the Obama administration, has been in contact with us and using our findings for a long time,” Piketty told AFP in Washington. On Wednesday evening, he was due to give a conference at the City University of New York, along with economics Nobel Prize laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.
In “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Piketty warns that free-market economies will see ever growing concentration of wealth in the hands of those who already hold capital. “When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based,” he wrote. The Paris School of Economics scholar argues that in the long run, earnings from possessions such as property and financial assets grow faster than the rest of the economy – especially workers’ wages. This, he warns, leads to deepening inequalities with serious social consequences. The belief among free-market economists that capitalism will regulate itself and lift the general population towards higher incomes is flawed, according to Piketty, because it is based on observations made during the 20th century, a war-ridden age unlike any other. More

Legalize Prostitution or Marijuana? Puerto Rico Is Looking for Ideas to Solve Debt Crisis

In Puerto Rico, 45 percent of the population lives in poverty, and the unemployment rate is a solid 15 percent. Those numbers aren’t a good sign for any area of the United States, least of all an island whose name translates to “Rich Port.” But after years of recession, Puerto Rico’s debt crisis finally seems to have reached a day of reckoning. Officials have opened a public campaign to field ideas for how to fix the crisis once and for all. A government website is accepting suggestions, and close to 400 ideas have been submitted. At least 150 have been accepted by a government committee for consideration. Among the ideas to be considered are calls legalize marijuana and prostitution, and to drastically cut back the amount of public holidays that workers on the island celebrate. These dramatic solutions would require public hearing, legislative approval, and Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s signature, according to the Associated Press report. The chances for marijuana or prostitution becoming legal are unclear, at best. Over seven-in-ten Puerto Ricans oppose legalizing pot, according to a poll conducted last November by the island’s largest newspaper, El Nuevo Dia.
In addition to these proposals, the governor’s office is preparing to submit the commonwealth’s first balanced budget in decades — a move that could be politically risky, considering the government is the island’s largest employer. “We are studying all alternatives and all possibilities,” Sen. Maria Teresa Gonzalez told the AP. “Change always brings inconvenience. I’m convinced that before we talk about something as dramatic and disastrous as layoffs, we have to consider other ideas.” Ideas for how to address government spending have been broken into several categories, each of which address some of the central problems plaguing Puerto Rico’s economy. These include bringing the widespread underground economy into the taxpaying fold, addressing the brain drain of the youth population to the mainland U.S. as well as the island’s aging population and working on raising low labor-force participation rates. Here are a few of the proposed ideas, (some way out there, and some more practical): More

China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years

It is said to be China’s biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross. The 5,000-capacity Liushi church, which boasts more than twice as many seats as Westminster Abbey and a 206ft crucifix that can be seen for miles around, opened last year with one theologian declaring it a “miracle that such a small town was able to build such a grand church”. The £8 million building is also one of the most visible symbols of Communist China’s breakneck conversion as it evolves into one of the largest Christian congregations on earth. ”It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence,” beamed Jin Hongxin, a 40-year-old visitor who was admiring the golden cross above Liushi’s altar in the lead up to Holy Week. ”If everyone in China believed in Jesus then we would have no more need for police stations. There would be no more bad people and therefore no more crime,” she added.  Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.  Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation. ”By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule. ”It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.” China’s Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in declineMore


Yen Falls Versus Major Peers After Japan’s Trade Deficit Widens

The yen fell versus 15 of its 16 major peers after a report showed Japan’s trade deficit widened more than forecast last month. The dollar held its biggest weekly advances in a month versus the yen and the euro ahead of leading U.S. economic indicators that may back speculation the Federal Reserve will remove stimulus this year. New Zealand’s dollar was little changed before the Reserve Bank sets policy on April 24. The ruble weakened after deadly clashes in Ukraine’s east. “Japan’s trade deficit was much larger than expected, so it helped to push the yen lower,” said Marito Ueda, senior managing director at currency-margin company FX Prime Corp. in Tokyo. “We’re likely to shift to a dollar strength story from a yen weakness story going forward as we start to see good data from the U.S.” The yen fell 0.1 percent to 102.53 per dollar as of 8:15 a.m. in London from April 18, when it completed a 0.8 percent weekly slide, the biggest since the five days to March 21. Japan’s currency dropped 0.2 percent to 141.74 per euro. The dollar traded at $1.3825 per euro from $1.3813, following a 0.5 percent weekly gain. Financial markets in the U.K., Germany, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand are among those closed for a holiday today. The U.S. markets reopen after being shut on April 18.  Japan’s trade deficit widened to 1.45 trillion yen ($14.1 billion) in March, from 802.5 billion yen the previous month, the Ministry of Finance said today.
The median estimate of analysts surveyed byBloomberg News was a 1.1 trillion yen shortfall. The deficit was a record 2.8 trillion yen in January. Four of the 36 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the Bank of Japan to add to easing on April 30, according to the results of the most recent poll, conducted March 28 to April 3. In the U.S., an index of leading indicators probably rose 0.7 percent in March, the most since November, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg poll before the data are released today. The Fed began tapering its monthly asset purchases in January, and economists predict the asset-purchase program will end in October. The Federal Open Market Committee will next meet on April 29-30. “The BOJ meeting next week will overlap with the FOMC and those two events will be closely watched as the divergence in their monetary policies has the potential to destroy the yen.” said Kengo Suzuki, the chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo. More

WAR DRUMS: US lawmakers call for tighter sanctions on Russia

Two members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee called Sunday for tougher Western sanctions against Russia to include its petrochemical and banking industries and warned that Moscow thus far has ignored US and European efforts to persuade it to back off its confrontation with Ukraine.  “We’ve helped in many ways to create the problems that exist there. And to leave them alone in the manner that we’re leaving them alone to me is just unconscionable,” Sen. Bob Corker, the committee’s senior Republican member, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I don’t think Putin really believes we’re going to punish them in that way,” he said. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the same committee, said, “I think the time is now to rapidly ratchet up our sanctions, whether it’s on Russian petrochemical companies or on Russian banks.” “If Russia does get away with this, I do think that there’s a potential that a NATO ally is next. And, yes, there will be economic pain to Europe (under tightened sanctions). But it’s time for them to lead as well.” US President Barack Obama has said his administration is prepared to take further action against Russia if diplomatic efforts to destabilize the conflict fail. Vice President Joe Biden is flying to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on Monday. Biden’s office announced Sunday night that he would meet Tuesday with Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting Ukrainian prime minister and president, and legislators from the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. Biden also plans to meet with democracy activists before returning to Washington on Tuesday night. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week that the US is looking for ways to reassure its NATO allies of its strong commitment to collective defense. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, has said that American officials are considering a range of additional measures to bolster air, maritime and ground readiness in Europe.
A Western official said Saturday that the US is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia. The ground exercises in the two countries, both NATO members, would last about two weeks but such exercises would continue on a rotating basis off and on over time, the official said, and other locations in Eastern Europe would be considered. The official was not authorized to discuss the plan by name because it has not been made final and requested anonymity. Corker, who plans to be in the region in May, said unless the Russians “immediately begin moving the 40,000 troops on the border which are intimidating people in Ukraine, unless they begin immediately moving them away, I really do believe we should be sanctioning some of the companies in the energy sector, Gazprom and others. I think we should hit some of the large banks there.” Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, said that an international agreement forged late last week designed to ease tensions in Ukraine may be “the best chance that we have got to achieve a diplomatic de-escalation of this crisis. And we’re working hard at it.” He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “there are obviously some real challenges at this point,” including a fresh outbreak of violence earlier Sunday in eastern Ukraine. “But we also believe that there has been some progress. I’m seeing reports this morning that at least one of these government buildings now has a Ukrainian flag flying over it,” Pyatt said. Times Of Israel

This Means War: US To Target Putin’s Personal $40 Billion Stash

While the White House has continually threatened further sanctions against Russia for non-de-escalation (even as it un-de-escalates itself), the specifics of the additional sanctions have been sparse.German CEO warnings over blowback from economic sanctions… the “nonsense” of replacing Russian gas with US gas… the Russian warnings of “interdependence” and “boomerangs”… all reduce the West’s arsenal of financial sanctions. But, as The Times of London reportsperhaps the US has found a crucial pain point for Putin – a sanctions regime that would target Putin’s personal wealth, which includes a reported $40 billion stashed in Swiss bank accountsAs The Hill reports, The White House on Friday refused to comment on reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal wealth could be targeted if the West were to move ahead with additional sanctions over Ukraine. ”I’m not going to get into foreshadowing particular individuals or entities that the United States may target,” national security adviser Susan Rice told reporters at the White House. “But let me just say we’ve been clear that there are additional individuals, officials, close associates of senior leadership, oligarchs and those entities that they are associated with that remain very much potential targets of additional sanctions. The Times of London reported Friday that the U.S. was preparing a sanctions regime that would target Putin’s personal wealth, which includes a reported $40 billion stashed in Swiss bank accounts.
Putin’s actual holdings are a tightly held secret, and the extent of his holdings are difficult to estimate. But a threat of trying to freeze the Russian president’s personal assets could have played a role in a deal brokered Thursday by foreign ministers from the U.S., Ukraine, Russia and European Union. Perhaps it is worth remembering Putin’s response from last week’s Q&A… Putin was asked why the US can do whatever it wants and no one punishes them, while attempts are being made to punish Russia. “The US is certainly one of the world’s leaders. At some point it seemed that it was the only leader and a uni-polar system was in place. Today it appears that is not the case.Everything in the world is interdependent and once you try to punish someone, in the end you will cut off your nose to spite your face,” he said. Though we are sure Obama and his team have considered all the intended and unintended consequences of any such actions. Zero Hedge

BNP Banker, His Wife And Nephew Murdered In Belgium

In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.  According to Marcel Neven, Mayor of Vise, nothing can yet explain what caused the violent shooting that rocked the neighborhood sports hall of his town this Friday, April 18, late at night. A man of 37 years, Benedict Philippens, bank manager Ans-Saint-Nicolas, was shot.
A little 9 year old boy, living in Dolhain, was also killed. A lady, the wife of the man and the boy aunt and godmother, Carol Haid, 37 also died of his injuries on Saturday, in the morning. She was hit by three bullets in the back, said a judicial source. According to information from the survey and some witnesses, a car waiting outside their house Berneau street near the sports hall Visé. When the victims’ car is back in the driveway, shots were fired from the car that waited patiently. The author of the shots is actively sought.  So far neither the shooter nor any motive for the execution have not been found: “Some suggest the presence of a single gunman with an automatic pistol, others are surprised that a bullet hole was noted in one of the windows of the sports hall. “That would mean that the author was already in the driveway of the house and waited for the victims side of the house,” says a source close to the case.” Like in the Lichtenstein murder, there is a possibility the murder was the result of a previous argument with a customer: More


9 Dead, 32 Wounded in Weekend Chicago Violence

At least nine people have been killed and 32 others wounded in shootings across Chicago since Friday. Of the 41 people shot, 16 of them were shot on Easter Sunday. The weekend’s latest shooting took place just after 7:30 p.m. near 67th Street and Michigan Avenue where four children were injured. Police said the shooting took place in the Park Manor neighborhood. The kids were coming from a park near Brownell Elementary School when witnesses say a car pulled up and someone in the car asked them a question. The group fled but someone in the car opened fire striking three girls and one boy, witnesses said. ”I thought it was firecrackers but I saw everyone running,” said witness Kimyana Bryant. “My mom ran over to us. I was trying to get all the kids from the park. I brought them over here so they could be in the house with us.” Police could not yet confirm details on the circumstances surrounding the shooting. A 15-year-old girl was in stable condition and an 11-year-old girl was listed in critical condition. Both were transported to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, according to authorities. A 14-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl were both taken to Comer Children’s Hospital. The boy was last listed in stable condition and the girl was in serious condition.

At least 23 shell casings were seen on the ground near the scene. ”You can’t even come to the park and enjoy yourself without this happening,” said witness Christiana Sanders. “The kids should be able to come into their community without worrying about violence. It needs to stop.” No one was in custody as of Sunday evening. On Sunday afternoon, a man was shot in the 6800 block of South Laflin Street. A 20-year-old man was shot in the face around 3:30 p.m. and transported to Mount Sinai Hospital for treatment and a 25-year-old man was shot in the shoulder and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious condition, police said. Around 1 p.m. Sunday, two people were fatally shot in the 2800 block of South Sawyer Avenue. A 33-year-old man was fatally shot in the head and a 19-year-old man was shot in the chest. The 19-year-old man was taken in critical condition to an area hospital, but police said he later died of his injuries. Police said the two were traveling in a vehicle when an orange hummer drove alongside and fired shots. Area Central detectives are investigating, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala. Around 9 a.m. Sunday, two men suffered gunshot wounds to their backs in the 8300 block of South Ada Street, Zala said. Both men were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious condition. As of Sunday afternoon, police were still trying to determine what caused the shooting. More


 – In a sign of growing anti-Israel militancy, terrorists disarmed as part of an amnesty agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel have taken up weapons in violation of the amnesty deal.  The information comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry largely blamed Israel for the collapse in Mideast talks he was attempting to broker here. Israel is considering rescinding the amnesty deal extended to members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the so-called military wing of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization. According to informed Middle Eastern security officials, Israel has extensive information showing scores of Al Aqsa members have been brandishing weapons in public, with some plotting attacks. The Brigades, declared by the U.S. State Department as an official terrorist group, is responsible for suicide bombings, shootings and other terrorist attacks. The amnesty agreement was forged in 2007 purportedly as an Israeli gesture to Abbas and to bolster Fatah against its Hamas rivals in the West Bank. Israel issued documents for the 178 Fatah fugitives to sign, pledging their resignation from any so-called paramilitary organizations.
The wanted militants – who comprise much of the senior Brigades leadership – also were required to turn in their weapons, spend a week in a PA holding area and restrict their movements to the area in which they reside for three months. After that, the Brigades members would be allowed to move freely throughout the West Bank on condition they do not retake arms. Kerry has been leading an effort to solidify a so-called peace deal in the region. Last week, Kerry fingered both Israelis and Palestinians for the failure to what is being seen as a collapse in the talks, but he placed much of the blame on Israel. Kerry claimed Israel’s refusal to release Palestinian prisoners, including convicted terrorists, as part of a gesture to Abbas, was behind the failure of the talks, ignoring Abbas’ refusal to recognize the Jewish state’s existence or his drive to seek United Nations recognition despite a pledge not to do so. Kerry also did not mention the rampant anti-Israel incitement in official PA media and other institutions. “Both sides wound out in a position of unhelpful moves,” Kerry told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations when asked about the collapse of the talks. “The prisoners were not released by Israel on the day they were supposed to be released and then another day passed and another day, and then 700 units were approved in Jerusalem and then poof – that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. WND


Saudi Arabia announces spike in MERS cases – 20 new infections

 – Saudi Arabia confirmed 20 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Saturday and Sunday, adding up to 49 infections in six days, a sudden increase of a disease that kills about a third of the people infected and has no cure. MERS, a SARS-like novel coronavirus that emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, has infected 244 people in the kingdom, of whom 76 have died, the Health Ministry said on its website. However, Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabia on Sunday told reporters there was no scientific evidence yet to justify ordering additional preventative measures such as travel restrictions. He said he did not know why there had been a surge of cases in Jeddah but said it might be part of a seasonal pattern since there was also a big rise in infections last April and May. Another cluster of cases has been detected in the United Arab Emirates and a Malaysian who was recently in the Gulf has been confirmed as infected, his country said. MERS has no vaccine or anti-viral treatment, but international and Saudi health authorities say the disease, which originated in camels, does not transmit easily between people and may simply die out. Health experts have warned, however, that MERS has the potential to mutate eventually. The number of officially confirmed Saudi cases has jumped suddenly over the past two weeks. Saudi authorities last week issued several statements aimed at reassuring the public that there was no immediate cause for concern at the latest outbreak and that it had not met international definitions of an epidemic.

Rabia said the ministry had invited five European and North American companies to work with it in developing a vaccine and that some of the companies would soon visit the kingdom. audi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is expected to receive a surge of pilgrims in July during the faith’s annual fasting month of Ramadan, followed by millions more in early October for the Haj. Last week Malaysian health authorities said a Malaysian citizen had been confirmed as having the disease after he returned from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Rumors of unreported cases have circulated on Saudi social media feeds in recent weeks. Last week, the kingdom’s cabinet asked Saudi news organizations to report only those cases that are officially confirmed by the Health Ministry. Most of the new infections are in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah, where 37 people have been infected since Monday, seven of them fatally. Another 10 new cases, one of them fatal so far, were discovered in the capital Riyadh. There were also new cases confirmed in Najran Province and the city of Medina. Last week, another cluster of cases was discovered in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, and Yemen reported its first case. –Reuters

Christian Legal Group Appeals Ruling Barring NYC Churches from Meeting in Public Schools

 A nationally-recognized Christian legal organization has filed an appeal of a ruling that barred churches in New York City from meeting in public schools on Sundays.  As previously reported, the case of Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York has been circling through the court system for the past 17 years. It began in 1995, when Bronx Household of Faith submitted an application to rent a public school building for its worship services, but was denied by the Board of Education. The matter then went to court, which turned into an emotional roller coaster, resulting in both temporary victories and losses to both sides. The Board of Education argued that allowing churches to use school facilities and to advertise their services amounted to a violation of the Establishment Clause in the United States Constitution. The Bronx Household of Faith, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), pointed to the fact that religious student groups already use school rooms after hours for Bible reading and prayer. The case went all the way up to the United Supreme Court, which declined to hear the matter. In 2012, however, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Presha issued a permanent injunction, allowing the Bronx Household of Faith to continue to hold services in local public school buildings indefinitely.
She stated that denial of the use of the building equated to an infringement of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. But the ruling was again appealed, and earlier this month, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Board of Education’s regulation barring churches from meeting in schools while allowing secular activities doesn’t violate the Constitution “We conclude that the prohibition was consistent with its constitutional duties,” the panel wrote, referencing the separation of church and state. “The Free Exercise Clause … has never been understood to require government to finance a subject’s exercise of religion.” But this week, ADF appealed the decision to the full court of appeals, which automatically places the ruling on hold until the court decides whether or not to accept the request. More


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Japan and North Korea Culls Poultry in Effort to Prevent Spread of H5N8 Bird Flu



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