Palestinians List 7 Demands For Peace Talks/Ebola Virus! Updated Global Outbreak Map!Israel Asks Christian Arabs To Join IDF Army! and more signs of JESUS’ soon return

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Big Development in Search for Missing Malaysia Flight: It May Have Landed Somewhere Else

The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane could change course again as nothing has turned up in weeks of searching the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia. According to the Malaysian newspaper the New Strait Times, investigators are revisiting the possibility that MH370, which carried 239 people and went missing on March 8, crash landed elsewhere.  The search initially focused on the eastern coast of Malaysian and Vietnam, where the plane was last tracked by aviation authorities. As more information came to light, the search centered on the southern Indian Ocean. Despite turning up any debris, the search in this area, which includes up to 11 aircraft, 12 ships and an underwater robotic submarine, will continue for now. Poor weather conditions this week could limit these efforts. But New Strait Times reported that the investigation team for the case based in Kuala Lumpur is looking into other possibilities as well. “We may have to regroup soon to look into this possibility if no positive results come back in the next few days … but at the same time, the search mission in the Indian Ocean must go on,” a source on the investigation team told the newspaper. “The thought of it landing somewhere else is not impossible, as we have not found a single debris that could be linked to MH370.”  The source added that the thought that it landed in a specific country where it is being hidden and has not been found by one of the more than 20 nations searching for it “seems absurd.” This source said that it is more plausible that it would have crashed in a remote location.

Though it has been well over a month since the Boeing 777 vanished without a trace, Americans are still particularly interested in the case. According to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center conducted April 3-6, the missing plane remained the top news story in the U.S., with 33 percent of people saying they followed it over a deadly shooting at Fort Hood Army base, developments related to Ukraine and President Obama’s health care overhaul. That is down from 39 percent in the previous March questionnaire, when nearly half of those asked said they thought the hunt for MH370 was being given the right amount of coverage. “I find myself drawn into watching or reading about it because it has taken on seemingly mythic worldwide importance,” Paul Mones, an attorney from Portland, Oregon wrote in an email. “In this modern world we simply refuse to accept that something so concrete can get so out of our physical reach and understanding. … People just refuse to concede that the cause of the disaster will likely forever remain unknown.” The Blaze

Iran ready to give ‘unforgettable’ response to threats


Iran’s Defense Ministry says the country’s Armed Forces are prepared to give an “unforgettable” response to any actual enemy threat. 
“The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic, particularly the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the country’s defense industry sector are ready to teach an unforgettable lesson to enemies and ill-wishers in case of any actuated danger and threat,” the ministry said in a Monday statement on the eve of the establishment anniversary of the IRGC. It added that the IRGC is a revolutionary and popular body which symbolizes the resistance and defensive might of the Iranian nation against the arrogant powers. The Islamic Revolution has been targeted with constant plots by the global arrogance over the past three decades, but it has managed to “emerge proud and triumphant” in the face of all hostilities due to the devotion of the IRGC forces, the statement noted.

It added that the present role of the Armed Forces, particularly the IRGC, in safeguarding Iran’s independence, territorial integrity as well as revolutionary and national values is a reality that “has disheartened, troubled, and frightened” the arrogant and sworn enemies of the Islamic Republic. Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan on March 31 underlined Iran’s defense capabilities, reiterating that the Islamic Republic “can respond to threats at any level.” In recent years, Iran has made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems. The Islamic Republic, however, has repeatedly said its military might poses no threat to other countries, insisting that its defense doctrine is merely based on deterrence. Press TV


MOSCOW
 – Russia will build a unified network of naval facilities on its Arctic territories to host advanced warships and submarines as part of a plan to boost protection of the country’s interests and borders in the region, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday. “We need to strengthen our military infrastructure. In particular, to create in our part of the Arctic a unified network of naval facilities for new-generation ships and submarines,” the president said at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council. He said that Russia should boost security at its Arctic borders. Putin ordered the military in December to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region in 2014. The Defense Ministry has already announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993. The military is also planning to form a new strategic military command in the Arctic, dubbed the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, by the end of 2014. Putin reiterated that Russia is actively developing this promising region and should have all means for protection of its security and economic interests there. “The oil and gas production facilities, loading stations and pipelines must be well protected from terrorists and other potential threats,” Putin said. The Russian president called on experts to defend Russia’s territorial claims to the Arctic shelf, just like they did during this year’s successful claim to 52,000-square-kilometer area in the Sea of Okhotsk off Japan.

“Our experts must act similarly, for bilateral as well as multilateral consultations with Arctic countries’ governments, and safeguard each parcel of the continental shelf in the Russian part of the Arctic, and marine areas,” Putin said. Moscow filed its claim to a part of the Artic continental shelf including the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges in 2011, but the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf said that it needed further scientific backing. Scientists have to prove that the underwater ridges are extensions of the Eurasian continent, thus linked to Russia’s territory. The shelf, which is believed to hold some five million tons of hydrocarbon reserves, is a lucrative resource-rich zone. In line with these territorial ambitions, Putin believes it is necessary to create a separate public body for the implementation of the Russian policy in the Arctic. “We do not need a cumbersome bureaucratic body, but a flexible operationally working structure that will help better coordinate ministries and departments’ activities, regions and business,” Putin said. The president tasked the government with ensuring that Russia’s goals in the Arctic are being solved and receive due financing. “We are going to continue to invest serious funds in the Arctic, to solve tasks needed for social and economic investment of the Arctic regions, to strengthen security as demanded by our long-term national interests,” he said. RIANOVOSTI

A Shameful Day in Evangelical Christian Publishing

For many years now, publishers have been releasing books that claim the Bible does not oppose committed homosexual relationships. That is nothing new. But it is a sad and shameful day when a major Christian publisher releases such a book and claims that it is a solid evangelical publication. This is abhorrent, disgraceful and terribly misleading. And it needs to be addressed and exposed. But first, the background to the story. In 2012, a young man named Matthew Vines, who professes to be a “gay Christian,” released a video of his talk about the Bible and homosexuality, and it quickly went viral. His demeanor was engaging and his appeal to the Scriptures very serious, but for those who know the Word well, there was nothing in the least bit persuasive in his presentation. In fact, it underscored just how impossible it is to use the Bible to justify any form of homosexual acts or to sanctify intimate homosexual relationships. The impossibility of Matthew’s position was further emphasized when my colleague, the well-known apologist James White, put out a series of YouTube videos that thoroughly rebutted Vines’ video. And both White and I have offered to debate Matthew and any colleague he would choose, but to date, there has been no response, although we’re still hoping that a debate (or a series of debates) will take place. There has also been a good amount of publicity over the last few months announcing the publication of Matthew’s book, God and the Gay Christian:

The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, which, through no intentional planning on my part or my publisher’s, is due to be released two weeks before my own book, Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality. (I sincerely hope that readers of his book will take the time to read mine as well.) But here is the disturbing news. The book is being published by Convergent Books, which is part of a publishing conglomerate that includes the much-respected evangelical publishing group WaterBrook Multnomah (also sharing some of the same staff). And the chief executive of the company, Stephen W. Cobb, is vigorously defending his choice to publish the book. In fact, he is making an extraordinary effort to publicize it and claiming that it is thoroughly evangelical. Have we totally lost our bearings as the people of God? Are we now debating the undebatable and trying to sanction the unsanctionable? The WaterBrook Multnomah group publishes books by authors like John Piper, Chuck Swindoll, Ravi Zacharias, David Jeremiah, Randy Alcorn, David Platt and Bill Gothard, and now its sister publisher is releasing a purported evangelical book defending homosexuality? (This is not being written on April 1 as some kind of April Fool’s joke. I am being dead serious.) Responding to an investigative piece written by Christian attorney Matt Barber, Cobb explains that his company is publishing the book “because [they] believe it offers a thoughtful examination of Scripture on the topic of same-sex relationships from a bold, young, evangelical writer whose first calling is to promote a civil, loving, and biblically based conversation on the subject.” More

 

Liberals Announce Plan to ‘Purge’ Christians

They were always deadly serious about criminalizing Christianity and killing free speech, but now the American left has stopped pretending otherwise. In a recent column titled, “Why Are They Called ‘Homofascists’? Here’s Why,” I wrote that “progressive,” “Christian-hating fascists” – but I repeat myself – are “hell-bent on criminalizing Christianity and pushing to the fringes anyone who publicly acknowledges natural human sexuality and the age-old, immutable institution of legitimate marriage as created by God.” I was referring specifically to the left’s well-organized and highly disturbing character assassination of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for his private support of natural marriage. I was also addressing the larger goal of the American left to completely shut down free speech and freedom of religion and to severely punish anyone who maintains both biblically and biologically correct views on human sexuality. I closed with this: “They smell blood in the water. I’ve often said that these folks want those who speak biblical truth about human sexuality and legitimate marriage either 1) dead, 2) imprisoned or, if they can have neither of these, 3) marginalized to the point where they can’t even support their families.

“Check No. 3 off the list. I guess they’re working backwards.” The very next day, and as if right on cue, lefty rag Slate magazine vomited evidence of my claims. It could not have been better scripted if I’d written it myself. In an article titled, “Purge the Bigots,” Slate writer William Saletan penned these chilling words: “Some of my colleagues are celebrating. They call Eich a bigot who got what he deserved. I agree. But let’s not stop here. If we’re serious about enforcing the new standard, thousands of other employees who donated to the same anti-gay ballot measure must be punished. “More than 35,000 people gave money to the campaign for Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that declared, ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,’” he continued. “Why do these bigots still have jobs? Let’s go get them.” More

ALERT: North Korea believed to be readying new nuclear test

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that North Korea has upped activities at its main nuclear test site, prompting South Korea and the United States to prepare for a new nuclear missile test by Pyongyang. The announcement came ahead of President Obama’s scheduled trip to Japan and South Korea later this week. The speculated test would also take place as most of the South Korean public’s attention has been taken up by the Sewol ferry disaster, which has killed over a hundred people, with the final death toll expected to be around 300.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Tuesday that South Korean intelligence had “detected various types of activities at Punggye-ri,” referring to the test site in northeastern North Korea.  The Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, citing a source in the Seoul government, said that observers had noticed “a very brisk movement of vehicles and people in and around” the site. A second source quoted by the paper said that it did not appear a test was imminent, but “I don’t think it’s physically impossible for the North, if it has the political will, to do it to coincide” with Obama’s visit, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.  Chosun Ilbo also reported that Friday is also the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army. North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests at Punggye-ri since 2006, with the most recent occurring in February 2013.  Fox News

Louisiana Lawmaker Scraps Bill to Make Bible State Book


BATON ROUGE, La. –
 A Louisiana lawmaker has scrapped a bill that sought to make the Bible the state book after fellow legislators claimed that it was causing a ‘distraction’ from other issues needing to be addressed in the House. As previously reported, Representative Thomas Carmody (R-Shreveport) recently filed HB 503 at the request of Shreveport resident Randy Dill. Dill told local television station KTBS that he has had the desire to make the Bible the state book since 1988, but could not find a lawmaker to help make it happen. “The Bible was their main inspiration along with our forefathers—Washington and all of them,” he stated. “They looked to it for their inspiration for our country. They called upon God to help us.” Carmody’s original bill sought to make a specific copy of the Bible in state possession the official state book. “The official state book shall be the Holy Bible, published by Johannes Prevel, (Prevel, Jean, active 1510-1528, printer, & Petit, Jean, fl. 1492-1530.), which is the oldest edition of the Holy Bible in the Louisiana State Museum system,” HB 502 outlined. “The use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.” However, Carmody altered the language of the proposal before it was considered in committee, changing out the Prevel copy of the Bible to the King James translation of the Scriptures. But some lawmakers stated that the alteration was still too narrow, as it would leave out the Catholics in the state.

Others rejected the bill altogether, fearing a lawsuit over the separation of church and state.  On Monday, Carmody announced that he would not be moving forward with the bill due to assertions that the legislation was becoming a distraction from “more important debates,” such as the state budget, according to the Associated Press. But Douglas Laycock, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, told the Greater New Orleans Times-Picayune that the legislation would have been fine if passed, even if it was challenged in court of law. “Judges are likely to think that this is de minimis—to minor to care about,” he said. “They don’t tell the president that he can’t issue Thanksgiving proclamations or host a national prayer breakfast, and judges are likely to view this the same way.” “It’s not like a government-sponsored prayer at a public meeting, or a government-sponsored religious monument in a particular place, which burdens the particular individuals who attend that meeting or frequent that place,” Laycock continued. “This would just sit there in the statute books, affecting everyone in Louisiana more or less equally. That often means that no one can challenge it in court.” Christian News Network

 

UK Childcare Worker Fired After Explaining Biblical Position on Homosexuality to Co-Worker

A childcare worker has been fired for ‘gross misconduct’ after she explained the biblical position on homosexuality to her co-worker. According to reports, Sarah Mbuyi, 30, was repeatedly asked about her beliefs over a period of several months at Newpark Childcare in Highbury after her lesbian co-worker discovered that she is a Christian. The latest discussion occurred in January, when her co-worker remarked that she was unhappy that she could not ‘marry’ her partner because of the Church’s beliefs, and stated that she thought God had nothing against homosexual behavior. When Mbuyi replied by explaining the biblical position on the matter, she was reported to her boss. “When I said ‘No, God does not condone the practice of homosexuality, but does love you and says you should come to Him as you are’, she became emotional and went off to report me to my manager,” Mbuyi stated in a press release. “I never ever condemned her, or accused her, but when she asked me directly what I believed, I was open about sharing the Bible’s teaching that homosexual sex (not the people) is wrong,” she continued. “It’s clear that this offended her and she was determined to get me sacked, simply because I expressed traditional Christian beliefs.” Mbuyi was then asked to attend a disciplinary hearing where she was confronted with her co-worker’s accusations.

However, she said that some of the claims were false, such as that it was Mbuyi who had initiated discussions about homosexuality with her co-worker. “My disciplinary hearing was hopelessly one-sided because they put my accuser’s claims to me as fact, without any forewarning and so I wasn’t prepared,” Mbuyi stated. “It seemed to me they had already made up their minds to justify sacking me, before hearing my side of the story.  She was immediately fired for gross misconduct. Now, Mbuyi is filing a complaint against her employer, charging religious discrimination and an unfair dismissal. The Christian Legal Centre is providing assistance in representing Mbyui. “Sharing Biblical truths out of genuine love and concern for colleagues is being outlawed in the workplace by a dominating cultural correctness,” stated CEO Andrea Williams. “There is a culture of fear which closes down freedom of speech and the manifestation of faith. This culture brands the liberating good news of the gospel as oppressive and regressive.” “Sarah’s case demonstrates the confusion we’re experiencing in current times,” she added. “David Cameron has given public recognition of the enormous positive impact that Jesus Christ has had on our nation but he wants to mold Christianity to his political agenda [by expressing support for homosexual ‘marriage’].  … If he is serious in his support for Christianity, he will intervene in Sarah’s case and ensure that those who believe in marriage, as defined in the Bbible, between one man and one woman, will not lose their jobs but be wholly and properly protected by the law.” Christian News Network

 

Boy Scouts Sever Ties With Seattle Church After Its Refusal To Remove Gay Scout Leader

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have revoked the charter of Seattle’s Rainier Beach United Methodist Church after the parish made headlines for standing by an openly gay Scoutmaster earlier this month. As NBC is reporting, BSA officials were planning to notify leaders and parents of children in Seattle Troop 98 and Pack 98 with news that the church is no longer authorized as a charter partner. BSA spokesman Deron Smith told NBC that the organization was “saddened by the development,” but that officials had no other option since the church has chosen to stand by Geoffrey McGrath, who was ousted from the scouting organization for being gay: “Because the church no longer agrees to the terms of the BSA chartered organization agreement, which includes following BSA policies, it is no longer authorized to offer the Scouting program.” Among those to decry the move was Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality. “The Boy Scouts’ decisions only serve to hurt a group of boys who need the values and leadership of someone like Scoutmaster McGrath,” Wahls, who is also a HuffPost Gay Voices blogger, said in an email statement.

“Unfortunately, the BSA’s decision calls into question its commitment to leadership and values by perpetuating an outmoded policy rooted in fear and discrimination. History will show that today’s announcement is a self-inflicted wound.” Meanwhile, Rainier Beach Rev. Monica Corsaro said the decision went “against everything the Boy Scouts is about,” according to the New York Daily News. Earlier this month, Corsaro told the United Methodist News Service that McGrath, 49, would continue to serve as the leader of the church’s scouting program despite the BSA’s decision to revoke his membership after they discovered he was gay. ”If I take responsibility for who is hired, then I also take responsibility for who is fired,” Corsaro is quoted as saying. “Our church is thriving and happy, and we support Geoffrey.” Meanwhile, McGrath penned an impassioned Op-Ed for The Seattle Times, saying that his identity as a gay man “has been known to my neighbors, my church congregation and my Facebook friends,” and added that it was also “known by the scouting professionals who accepted the application to form a troop.” Huffington Post

DISTRESS OF NATIONS – Greek austerity has caused more than 500 male suicides

Spending cuts in Greece have caused some 500 male suicides since their implementation, according to a new study. The research found a positive correlation between austerity and suicide rates after other possible links proved to be unrelated. The 30-page study, titled ‘The Impact of Fiscal Austerity on Suicide: On the Empirics of a Modern Greek Tragedy’ and published in the Social Science and Medicine journal was authored by Nikolaos Antonakakis and Alan Collins from Portsmouth University.  “Suicide rates in Greece (and other European countries) have been on a remarkable upward trend following the global recession of 2008 and the European sovereign debt crisis of 2009,” states the study’s abstract. Each 1 percent decrease in government spending resulted in a 0.43 percent rise in suicides among men, according to the study. Between 2009 and 2010, there were 551 deaths which occurred “solely because of fiscal austerity,” it stated.  “That is almost one person per day. Given that in 2010 there were around two suicides in Greece per day, it appears 50 percent were due to austerity,” one of the paper’s co-authors, Nikolaos Antonakakis, told the Guardian.  Antonakakis, a Greek national, said that he had been motivated to examine the link between austerity and suicide rates after watching media reports and hearing stories about friends of friends killing themselves. While there had already been research into the impact of negative economic growth on health, there had previously been no studies linking austerity cuts with poor health and suicide.
Suicide rates by age group and gender in Greece, 1968-2009 (Source: WHO 2012)
“Our empirical findings suggest that fiscal austerity, higher unemployment rates, negative economic growth and reduced fertility rates lead to significant increases on overall suicide rates in Greece, while increased alcohol consumption and divorce rates do no exert any significant influence on overall suicide rates,” the study notes.  Antonakakis and Collins are both contemplating expanding their work by examining the link between economic austerity in other eurozone countries most affected by the crisis. This work could encompass Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland.  “These findings have strong implications for policymakers and for health agencies,” said Antonakakis. “We often talk about the fiscal multiplier effect of austerity, such as what it does to GDP. But what is the health multiplier?” he questioned.  The study identified some gender and age trends, finding that men in the 45-89 age bracket suffer the largest risk because of salary and pension cuts. There was no obvious rise in suicide rates among females.  “The fact we find gender specificity and age specificity can help health agencies target their help,” said Antonakakis. RT

Russia may be the current target of the American corporate media for its alleged role in provoking Ukraine to war, but the former Soviet stronghold has become a world leader in protecting its food sovereignty and kicking the multinational bio-pirates to the curb. New reports indicate that Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced the country’s rejection of all imports of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), upholding Russia’s growing stance against the cultivation and sale of GMOs within its borders. The announcement comes just months after Medvedev ordered the country’s health ministry, agriculture ministry and other relevant agencies to investigate GMO safety and come up with proposals for better protecting the integrity of the country’s food supply. According to RT.com, their consensus is that Russia has no need for GMOs and will instead remain committed to traditional agricultural practices that have a proven track record of safety. ”If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then,” stated Medvedev before a congress of deputies from various rural settlements at a recent meeting. “We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” Earlier in the year, the Russian parliament petitioned the government to impose a temporary ban on GMOs pending the procurement of data showing their safety for humans and the environment.

Such data doesn’t exist, of course, as GMO purveyors like Monsanto have never been required in places like the U.S. or Canada to conduct any long-term safety studies on transgenic crops prior to their commercial approval — and if they did, the results would not be favorable. Consequently, Russia has decided to take the precautionary approach in the interest of its people rather than corporations, with the hope of eventually barring all GMOs from being bred, planted or otherwise used within the country. And this decision is backed by virtually every major government agency in Russia, illustrating the great differences between the leadership in this often vilified country and the increasingly fascist dictatorship that currently rules the U.S. ”The import of GMOs and GMO-based products into the Russian Federation may be banned if such products fail to pass the required examinations,” reads a draft bill recently put forth by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, which was tasked with tightening control over GMOs in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also opposed to GMOs, having told the media that part of his job is to protect the Russian people against industrial food offerings that might harm them. Likewise, Russian Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fydorov wants to see GMOs completely banned from all Russian territories as well, having referred to them in the media as poison.  ”How ironic that a sustainable foods movement should take root in Russia at the behest of the people instead of the so-called ‘democratic’ West, where the will of the people is overturned by money,” wrote one RT.com commenter about Medvedev’s announcement. “I want my food imported from Russia!” Similar sentiments are reflected in other comments, including one from a Russian woman telling of her experiences eating American food compared to food from her homeland. Besides the bread tasting like “rubber,” in her experience, American food in general simply doesn’t live up to the high-quality standards that are still the norm throughout Russia, standards that promote health and longevity rather than disease and death. ”There are a lot of choice… milk products, proper bread, etc. in Russia,” she writes. “The government of USA doesn’t want Americans to be healthy, giving big monopolies rights to feed people with all this rubbish [for] huge profits.” Natural News

‘Heaven Is for Real’ a Box Office Hit; Beats Johnny Depp Sci-Fi Blockbuster

The faith-based film “Heaven Is for Real” recorded a highly impressive box-office debut over Easter weekend, taking in $21.5 million domestically and besting Johnny Depp’s sci-fi blockbuster “Transcendence,” which only earned $11.5 million. ”The film definitely played not only to a faith-based audience but to a mainstream audience as well,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at Sony Pictures Entertainment, following the impressive debut, according to Deadline.com. “The title itself provokes dialogue no matter what you believe. It’s based on a book and the true story of this family, so it makes it all that more compelling.” The Randall Wallace movie, based on the bestselling 2010 book Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, has earned an estimated $28,500,000 from 2,417 theaters nationwide in the first five days of its release, more than doubling its modest production budget of $12 million. ”It’s really a terrific result,” Bruer said. “And Easter was certainly a date that was in the wheelhouse of the film.” Meanwhile, Depp’s “Transcendence,” which has a production budget of close to $100 million, only took in $11.5 million from 3,455 locations in its first three days. The narrative for “Heaven Is for Real” focuses on Christian pastor Todd Burpo and the near-death experience of his then 4-year-old son, Colton, who shares of meeting Jesus in heaven as well as a number of his deceased relatives after undergoing emergency surgery in 2003.

Last week, Christian Hollywood exec DeVon Franklin told The Christian Post that success for “Heaven Is for Real” could result in more faith-friendly movies on the big screen. ”The success of this movie opening weekend directly correlates to the decision to green-light and make more of them. It’s an immediate thing,” Franklin, senior vice president of Production for Columbia TriStar Pictures, told CP. “If there’s a sense that there’s a growing market and a growing hunger for more films like this, then the desire to continue to provide more films will increase, and decisions will be made to be able to make more films like this.” The film was produced by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Texas and has been backed by a number of Christians, including faith film-review website Faith Driven Consumer, which gave it an overall rating of four stars out of five. More

 

DAYS OF NOAH -Scientists ‘edit’ DNA to correct adult genes and cure diseases


A genetic disease has been cured in living, adult animals for the first time using a revolutionary genome-editing technique that can make the smallest changes to the vast database of the DNA molecule with pinpoint accuracy. Scientists have used the genome-editing technology to cure adult laboratory mice of an inherited liver disease by correcting a single “letter” of the genetic alphabet which had been mutated in a vital gene involved in liver metabolism. A similar mutation in the same gene causes the equivalent inherited liver disease in humans – and the successful repair of the genetic defect in laboratory mice raises hopes that the first clinical trials on patients could begin within a few years, scientists said. The success is the latest achievement in the field of genome editing. This has been transformed by the discovery of Crispr, a technology that allows scientists to make almost any DNA changes at precisely defined points on the chromosomes of animals or plants. Crispr – pronounced “crisper” – was initially discovered in 1987 as an immune defence used by bacteria against invading viruses.

Its powerful genome-editing potential in higher animals, including humans, was only fully realised in 2012 and 2013 when scientists showed that it can be combined with a DNA-sniping enzyme called Cas9 and used to edit the human genome. Since then there has been an explosion of interest in the technology because it is such a simple method of changing the individual letters of the human genome – the 3 billion “base pairs” of the DNA molecule – with an accuracy equivalent to correcting a single misspelt word in a 23-volume encyclopaedia. In the latest study, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used Crispr to locate and correct the single mutated DNA base pair in a liver gene known as LAH, which can lead to a fatal build-up of the amino acid tyrosine in humans and has to be treated with drugs and a special diet. The researchers effectively cured mice suffering from the disease by altering the genetic make-up of about a third of their liver cells using the Crispr technique, which was delivered by high-pressure intravenous injections. “We basically showed you could use the Crispr system in an animal to cure a genetic disease, and the one we picked was a disease in the liver which is very similar to one found in humans,” said Professor Daniel Anderson of MIT, who led the study. More

U.S CONDUCTS SPY FLIGHTS OVER RUSSIA

After a tit-for-tat series of delays, the United States conducted an Open Skies Treaty intelligence flight over Russian territory on Monday, a State Department official said. The spy flight originally was scheduled for April 14 but was canceled by Russia after a U.S. team for the flight failed to arrive near Moscow on time and Moscow refused temporarily to reschedule it. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman also expressed anger on Monday over U.S. delays in certifying a new high-tech Russian aircraft to be used for spying missions over the United States under the Open Skies Treaty that permits limited legal spying over U.S. and Russian territory. The State Department official said, however, that last week’s delay was the result of bad weather – despite radar images showing mostly clear skies over of Russia during the period of last week’s planned flight. “The U.S. Open Skies mission dated April 14 was delayed due to weather conditions beyond the time permitted by the treaty,” the official said in a statement. “The flight was rescheduled and on April 21, the U.S. Open Skies Treaty aircraft began its mission in the Russian Federation.” The official said the treaty permits the country conducting the surveillance flight to postpone the flight for 24 hours, “after which the host country is permitted to cancel the mission.” Earlier, the official did not mention that Russia had canceled the April 14 flight or the reasons for the cancelation. In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on Monday defended Moscow’s decision to cancel the flight and criticized the United States regarding the treaty, calling the U.S. position “highly non-constructive.” Lukashevich said Russia canceled the April 14 flight by a joint U.S.-Czech Republic team after the team failed to arrive at a meeting point in Kubinka, a town about 40 miles west of Moscow. Lukashevich made no mention of Monday’s U.S. flight, however. “At the request of the American side of the mission the arrival time was postponed for 24 hours,” Lukashevich told state-run ITAR-TASS news agency.

“However, neither the Americans nor the Czechs showed up in Kubinka,” he said. “When a new request for a postponement came, we rejected it for good reason, taking into account, among other things, the fact that Russia had already sustained certain costs while waiting for the American observation plane.” Lukashevich said the costs of using Russian resources to support the mission were part of the decision to cancel the mission last week. The spokesman also noted the U.S. refusal to certify a new Russian Open Skies aircraft for use over the United States as one reason for Moscow’s anger at the U.S. overflight last week. “We have to state with regret that the American side, the only of the parties to the Treaty on Open Skies, has long been adhering to a highly non-constructive position on the examination of our digital observation equipment by putting forth requirements that are not provided for in the treaty,” he said. The Russians want “implementation of the treaty will be safeguarded against the negative impact of considerations of expediency and that its members will strictly abide by their obligations,” Lukashevich said. U.S. intelligence officials and members of both congressional intelligence oversight committees want the Obama administration to block certification of the new Russian surveillance aircraft that are equipped with digital sensors, including advanced radar that allows the aircraft to see through structures. The White House National Security Council (NSC) deputies committee, a group of senior security officials, met on the issue last week. An NSC spokesman declined to comment on whether the Russian aircraft had been certified for future Open Skies flights over the United States. The aircraft are part of a 1992 agreement among 34 nations that allows parties to the treaty to conduct intelligence-gathering flights over national territory. The treaty is a so-called confidence-building measure. Pentagon and U.S. intelligence officials are concerned the new equipment on the Russian aircraft will permit spying on new and advanced U.S. military capabilities, weapons, and facilities. The cancellation of the flight last week coincided with the crisis over Ukraine where some 80,000 Russian troops, along with tanks and armored vehicles, are massed near Ukraine’s eastern border. A U.S. official said the cancellation of the flight last week appeared to be part of an effort by Moscow to deny U.S. surveillance of Russian force deployments that appear being readied for a large-scale military intervention in eastern Ukraine. The Washington Free Beacon

 

Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

The annual Lyrid meteor shower occurs every year when Earth passes through debris left behind by Comet Thatcher, which makes a full orbit of the sun once every 415 years. At its peak this year — which is expected to happen in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday (April 22) — the Lyrid shower should produce about 20 meteors per hour. You can watch the Lyrid meteor shower webcasts on Space.com via the online Slooh community telescope and NASA.   The Slooh webcast will begin at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 April 22 GMT). You can also watch it directly on www.slooh.com. NASA’s webcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 April 22 GMT) and last through the night. Both webcasts depend on clear skies for good views of the meteor shower.  ”Best viewing will be midnight until dawn on the morning of April 22, provided you have clear, dark skies away from city lights,” NASA officials wrote in a skywatching advisory. “Northern Hemisphere observers will have a better show than those in the Southern Hemisphere.”

The Lyrid meteor shower has been observed for nearly 2,600 years. Chinese astronomers were the first to record the meteor display in 687 B.C., Slooh representatives said in a statement. ”This is not one of the top meteor showers of the year like the Perseids and the Geminids, still the Lyrids produce around 20 meteors an hour, and they are moderately fast — coming in at 110,000 miles per hour,” Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a webcast advisory. “That’s about 30 miles per second, which is nearly 60 times faster than a rifle bullet.”  Stargazers in dark areas with clear weather could see some meteors. But the waning gibbous moon will probably wash out most of the show this year, meteor shower expert Bill Cooke of NASA told Space.com. “I would not set high expectations,” Cooke said. Lyrid meteors appear to emanate from the star Vega in the constellation Lyra, the Harp. Meteor showers are created when pieces of space debris strike Earth’s upper atmosphere. The bits of dust and rock heat up to extreme temperatures and glow, creating the streaks seen during meteor showers. Meteors compress the air in front of them, which heats the air, and in turn, heats the bits of debris. When in space, bits of space material — like the debris that creates the Lyrid meteor shower — are known as meteoroids. As they streak through the atmosphere, they are called meteors and any bits of rock that make it to Earth’s surface are labeled meteorites. More

Hate Crime Reporting Act 0f 2014, Democrats & Jihadis Seek To Criminalize Free Speech

There is very dangerous legislation making its way through both the House of Representatives and Senate that will finish the United States. The sharia bill calls for Islamic blasphemy laws – the criminalization of speech that offends or iinsults -who, exactly? Well, that is up to the enforcer is it not? is making its way . On Wednesday, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced “The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 (S.2219)’, which seeks “to examine the prevalence of hate crime and hate speech on the Internet, television, and radio to better address such crimes.” Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the House – H.R. 3878. Yes, we see, Hakeem. The first amendment protects all speech, not just speech that we like. Or else who would decide what’s good and what’s forbidden? Hakeem? When I was a young girl, the Nazis were given permission to march in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. In those days, Nazi mean something. Morality was still very much in the American DNA. Good and evil was understood – unlike today where the left has banished such terms. Despite the horror of a Nazi march, they were given permission and those of us repelled by such a monstrous action understood why permission why granted because of the underlying premise — free speech.

I didn’t worry that their Nazi ideas would take hold as long as I could speak and others could speak in the free exchange of ideas. I knew I would win because my ideas were better. Individual rights was the greatest achievement of the enlightened. Now we are here. Our free speech threatened by islamic supremacists and their Democrat lapdogs under the guise of “hate speech.” The old “hate speech” canard. They will package this revolution against freedom in a pretty package — and will use the Max Blumenthal inspired racist murderer, Glenn Miller. But do not be fooled. It’s bad enough they have all but blacklisted the voices of freedom from media, political and national discourse. Shouting into the wilderness is not freedom of speech. What next? Burning books? Perhaps just as long as it’s not the quran. And yet there is more hate speech in the quran than in Mein Kampf. The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 (S.2219 is sharia. Start calling your congressmen (click here). Now. Put down everything. Do this. This is the line in the sand. If we lose this, it’s over. Pat Dollard

 

Majority in U.S. doubts Big Bang theory

While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear. When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more skepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago. Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine. On some, there’s broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there’s a genetic code inside our cells. More — 15 percent — have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines. About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory.

Those results depress and upset some of America’s top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, who vouched for the science in the statements tested, calling them settled scientific facts. ”Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts,” said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley. The poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. And scientists know they’ve got the shakiest leg in the triangle. To the public “most often values and beliefs trump science” when they conflict, said Alan Leshner, chief executive of the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Political and religious values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change. Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll. Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith. ”When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can’t argue against faith,” said 2012 Nobel Prize winning biochemistry professor Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University.

“It makes sense now that science would have made no headway because faith is untestable.” But evolution, the age of the Earth and the Big Bang are all compatible with God, except to Bible literalists, said Francisco Ayala, a former priest and professor of biology, philosophy and logic at the University of California, Irvine. Beyond religious belief, views on science may be tied to what we see with our own eyes. The closer an issue is to ourselves and the less complicated, the easier it is for people to believe, said John Staudenmaier, a Jesuit priest and historian of technology at the University of Detroit Mercy. Marsha Brooks, a 59-year-old nanny who lives in Washington, D.C., said she’s certain smoking causes cancer because she saw her mother, aunts and uncles, all smokers, die of cancer. But when it comes to the universe beginning with a Big Bang or the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, she has doubts. She explained: “It could be a lack of knowledge. It seems so far” away. Jorge Delarosa, a 39-year-old architect from Bridgewater, N.J., pointed to a warm 2012 without a winter and said, “I feel the change. There must be a reason.” But when it came to Earth’s beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because “I wasn’t there.” Experience and faith aren’t the only things affecting people’s views on science. Duke University’s Lefkowitz sees “the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact” as a more striking factor, citing significant interest groups — political, business and religious — campaigning against scientific truths on vaccines, climate change and evolution. The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them. Fox News

 

Parents search for abducted Nigeria girls, say 234 missing

Parents of girls abducted by Islamist militants were searching for their daughters in a remote forest, they told the state governor on Monday, adding that 234 were still missing, a much higher figure than authorities said had been kidnapped. Official figures put the number of abducted girls at 129 and by Saturday afternoon Borno state governor Kassim Shettima said 77 were still unaccounted for, while the other 52 had returned. Monday’s mass abduction of teenage schoolgirls by Boko Haram from Chibok school, which the governor visited on Monday, shocked Nigeria, a nation long used to hearing about brutal attacks on civilians in the northeast. It also underlined how powerless the military has become at protecting civilians in the areas of Africa’s most populous country plagued by the insurgency, despite a state of emergency nearly a year old that was meant to destroy it.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, say they are fighting for a breakaway Islamic state in northern Nigeria, although they have increasingly targeted civilians instead of just security forces over the past year. Parent Shettima Haruna said several parents had taken motorcycles into the Sambisa forest, a known Boko Haram hideout near the school where it is believed the girls were taken. ”We met some men in the Sambisa bush; they told us the Boko Haram camp is still inside and far. They said we may not come out alive … and we then returned beaten by rains,” he said. ”We came back to count all our children and we discovered 234 girls are still missing,” he added, standing next to the school, large parts of which were reduced to ash by the attack. The governor and his entourage did not comment on the discrepancy in the figures, which it was not possible to independently check. Folly Teika, 53, whose two girls Aisha and Hima were among those abducted, said after days of searching she came across people in a village called Bale. ”They said they saw a lot of girls that same Tuesday morning fetching water from a stream and leaving … They told us they were certain that girls are still close by, but they advised strongly not to go into that direction because we weren’t armed,” she told Reuters by telephone. Boko Haram’s five-year-old struggle is now seen as the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer, killing thousands, but attacks on civilians have worsened and become more gruesome this year. School raids seem targeted at deterring parents from giving their children modern education. ”All we want from the government is to help us bring our children back,” said father Pogu Yaga, 50, bursting into tears. The kidnapping occurred the same day a bomb blast, which Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has since claimed responsibility for, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital Abuja. Reuters

Army personnel to take part in prayer event

Army officials say they will not back away from participating in a Capitol Hill prayer event next month despite complaints that the event amounts to an endorsement of evangelical Christians. Last week, officials from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demanded the Pentagon withdraw all support from a May 1 National Day of Prayer celebration being held in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., calling it a “private fundamentalist Christian religious event.” At issue is the group behind the event, which has close ties to evangelical Christian groups. Planners have said they are nondenominational and nonpartisan, but MRFF leaders say support for the event amounts to favoritism for conservative Christians. Army officials disagree. In a statement, service officials said they would continue to provide numerous personnel for the event, including a chaplain to offer a “prayer for the military,” an armed forces color guard, a brass quartet and a vocalist for the national anthem. They also said they had no formal response to the MRFF complaint.

In the complaint, the MRFF demanded that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “aggressively investigate and appropriately punish any of the individuals and/or organizations that would have allowed for uniformed personnel to participate in this sectarian spectacle.” In an interview Monday, MRFF Director Mikey Weinstein said participation in the event clearly violates rules governing the separation of church and state, calling the Army’s stance “ridiculous.” The event is being organized and broadcast online by the National Day of Prayer Task Force. The group’s chairwoman is Shirley Dobson, wife of James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family. Task force officials maintain there is no connection between the two organizations. Scheduled speakers for the Capitol Hill event include both Dobsons, evangelist Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Rev. Billy Graham), Campus Crusade for Christ co-founder Vonette Bright, and several current and former lawmakers. Army Times

Scientists think they can control weather with lasers

For many Americans who wished they could change the weather — whether it be in the Northeast during this past winter or in drought-stricken California – researchers may have found a way to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning. The existence of condensation, storms and lightning are all due to the presence of large amounts of static electricity in the clouds. Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona say that a laser beam could activate those large amounts of static electricity and create storms on demand. By surrounding a beam with another beam that will act as an energy reservoir, the central beam will be sustained for greater distances than previously possible. The secondary beam will refuel and help to prevent the dissipation of the primary beam, which would break down quickly on its own. Although lasers can already travel great distances, it behaves differently than usual, collapsing inward on itself when a laser beam becomes intense enough, according to Matthew Mills, a graduate student at the UFC Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers. ”The collapse becomes so intense that electrons in the air’s oxygen and nitrogen are ripped off creating plasma — basically a soup of electrons,” Mills explained in a statement.

Afterwards, the plasma tries to spread the beam back out — causing an internal struggle between collapsing and spreading — what’s known as “filamentation.” This process in turn creates a light string that lasts only until the beam disperses. ”Because a filament creates excited electrons in its wake as it moves, it artificially seeds the conditions necessary for rain and lightning to occur,” Mills explained. Previous work done by other researchers have led to some type of “electrical event” in clouds — raising an added risk of a lightning strike when seeding clouds with lasers, according to the researchers. ”What would be nice is to have a sneaky way which allows us to produce an arbitrary long ‘filament extension cable.’ It turns out that if you wrap a large, low intensity, doughnut-like ‘dress’ beam around the filament and slowly move it inward, you can provide this arbitrary extension,” Mills said in a statement.  ”Since we have control over the length of a filament with our method, one could seed the conditions needed for a rainstorm from afar. Ultimately, you could artificially control the rain and lightning over a large expanse with such ideas.” Future applications of this method could be used in long distance sensors or in spectrometers for chemical makeups. ”This work could ultimately lead to ultra-long optically induced filaments or plasma channels that are otherwise impossible to establish under normal conditions,” Demetrios Christodoulides, a professor that is working with the graduate students on the project, said in a statement. Using this method, Mills, along with fellow graduate researcher Ali Miri, have extended the pulse seven-fold — from just under a foot to around seven feet. Still, they’re not done yet, with hopes to extend the filament even further. Development of the technology was funded by the Department of Defense and the researchers’ findings were published in the journal Nature Photonics. CBS News

APR22

Are we seeing an “Unusual” increase in Earthquakes?

Does it seem as if there have been more earthquakes in recent weeks? Some scientists thought so. Some of the best minds in earthquake science have been counting quakes and analyzing seismic waves to see if the largest in a string of recent quakes — the magnitude-8.2 tremor in Chile on April 1 — might have triggered others far, far away. Ross Stein, a senior U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist who studies how quakes interact, got so excited that on April 12 he fired off an email to colleagues that started with this: “Guys, seems like a lot of big quakes have been popping off around the globe over the past week.” Experts for years have known that the seismic waves from one quake can trigger a quake somewhere else — a process known as “dynamic triggering.” Stein himself co-authored a study tying a magnitude-8.7 Indian Ocean quake in 2012 to a spike in quakes globally in the days after. That increase lasted about a week, and a few days after the spike, the rate for larger quakes fell to below average. ”It’s as if the Indian Ocean quake had shaken the tree, causing the apples ready to fall out to do so,” said Thorne Lay, a seismology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz..  Lay’s own research has found that over the last decade the number of major quakes, those measuring 8.0 or bigger, is nearly triple the rate for the 1900s, but whether that’s just a random cluster or a sign of dynamic triggering is unclear.

In any case, the latter possibility is what got experts like Stein and Lay wondering if the Chilean quake had triggered others. A 7.2 on Mexico’s Pacific Coast on April 18 and a 7.5 off Papua New Guinea two days later were the latest to get attention Doing a quick review of quakes magnitude 6 or larger and which struck within the upper 43 miles (70 kilometers) of Earth’s crust, Lay found an uptick when comparing April 1-18 to the first three months of 2014. But the increase wasn’t significant, so the question remained: Did dynamic triggering play a role, or was that just random chance? “That’s a harder problem to answer,” Lay said. Seismic wave data from the Chilean quake was studied by UC Santa Cruz grad students to see if it might have triggered one in Nicaragua nine days later. “We did not see anything obvious,” Professor Emily Brodsky said of her team’s work. Stein, like Lay, also counted quakes but looked instead at moderate and large quakes (4.5 magnitude or greater) in the 10 days before and after the April 1 quake that struck Iquique, Chile. In his email to peers, Stein concluded: “I do not see a global increase in activity post-Iquique, at least for moderate and larger quakes — the ones that matter for hazards.” ”[It] seemed like a lot of big quakes” after Iquique, he later told NBC News, “but it’s largely an illusion.” That letdown is part of the reality of earthquake science, which is still in its infancy. “We have false hunches all the time,” Stein said. “We don’t want to miss something.” Making more sense of quakes, especially dynamic triggering, could be helped by a wider network of monitoring equipment. But that’s no easy task. More

APR22

Shoppers ditch wallets for hand scanners

Forget carrying a wallet because all you could soon need is your hand to pay for goods.
Advanced technology is being rolled out in Sweden that allows empty-handed consumers to purchase goods using a tap of their palm. Detection of a person’s unique vein structure allows the store to verify a person’s ability to pay. Experts believe the alternative payment method would be handy for many people, particularly the absent-minded. While vein scanning technology is not new, the ability to use it to pay is and it has been introduced in Lund in southern Sweden.
The Australian Payments and Clearing Association’s chief executive Chris Hamilton said these new-wave of technologies were constantly evolving despite not being used in Australia just yet.
“There’s been lots of speculation over the years on biometrics and using different aspects of your body,’’ he said. “The biometrics that you have that’s inherent to you is something that you can’t drop or lose such as your eyeball or your fingerprint.’’

To use unique vein scanning information a person visits a shop or restaurant with the technology and scans their hand three times before registering their personal details. A text message is then sent to their mobile phone with an activation link to a website and payments are then taken from the customer’s bank account from then on. But Hamilton said there are several challenges with rolling out vein-scanning technology in Australia. “There’s a network effect, whichever (technology) you choose do you want to roll it out over the entire network payments system so every financial institution signs up to the same thing,’’ he said. “To be useful there’s need to be broad participation. “The other problem is you wouldn’t roll out a biometrics solution unless you were certain it was secure.” Strategic relations firm RFi’s director Alan Shields believed vein scanning would be a secure payment form but said it needs to be speedy. “You’d have to cut someone’s hand off to be able to pay from their account,’’ he said. “We have fast-time payment methods, so is it actually going to provide a consumer with something more. “It’s interesting and cool but do we need it, we already have a lot of other payment mechanisms.’’

WALLET-FREE SPENDING

— Hand scanners: The palm of a hand is scanned over the payment terminal to pay for goods.

— Mobile phone: Scan your phone at the checkout to pay using a virtual wallet.

— Sleeve spending: Australian-made suit that has a wireless payment chip and antenna inserted to pay using a contactless payment terminal.

— Facial recognition: Pay by face using facial biometrics at the check-out.

— Fingerprint technology: Pay using your fingerprint on your smartphone or at the check-out.news.com.au

 

Putin Ignores Sanctions, Cuts Deals With China

Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to respond to Western sanctions triggered by his country’s participation in the Ukrainian crisis by dramatically expanding bilateral trade with China, particularly in providing energy to fuel China’s fast-growing economy, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin. Moscow and Beijing have developed closer bilateral ties as relations between Russia and the European Union worsen. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said cooperation with Beijing is a top priority for Moscow.  “It is the rise of the Eurasia century,” one Asian source said. “Moscow and Beijing’s interests are converging.” China is experiencing dramatic economic growth and has become the second largest economy in the world in the past two decades, growing faster than the combined economies of the United States and the entire European Union. Economic experts predict China’s economy will be the largest in the world by 2018. Putin intends to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in May to conclude an energy agreement and possibly work on military and other business contracts, including a major Siberian timber deal, sources say.

The deal works for Beijing, since it knows Russia needs to offset the Western sanctions and thus will give it a reasonable price. At the same time, the deal works for Beijing, which wants to wean itself from the use of coal in industrialized cities where there are serious environmental issues stemming from burning coal. An immediate issue in the May talks will be construction of the Power of Siberia pipeline from Russia into China at a cost of $22 billion. “The worse Russia’s relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China,” said Vasily Kashin of the think-tank Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. “If China supports you, no one can say you’re isolated.” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin estimates that bilateral trade between Russia and China could amount to $100 billion by next year. Since the beginning of the year, trade between the two countries has increased by 4 percent, but Rogozin wants faster expansion. “The pace is insufficient in order to meet the objective set by the leaders of Russia and China – to bring the bilateral trade turnover to $100 billion by 2015,” Rogozin said. Last year, China became Russia’s largest trade partner while Russia became China’s ninth largest, Rogozin said. Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula also may prove to be potentially lucrative for Moscow, since it intends to build a deep-water port for further trade with Europe. The Western sanctions on the bank accounts and travel of 11 prominent Russian and Ukrainian officials has been described by some sources as laughable. Although, there is the threat of sanctioning Putin’s personal accounts, said to be in Swiss banks. Various reports indicate Putin’s personal accounts may amount to $40 billion. More

APR22

WAR DRUMS: U.S Warns “Russia has ‘days, not weeks’ to follow accord”

Russia has “days, not weeks” to abide by an international accord aimed at stemming the crisis in Ukraine, the top U.S. diplomat in Kiev warned Monday as Vice President Joe Biden launched a high-profile show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. Russia in turn accused authorities in Kiev of flagrantly violating the pact and declared their actions would not stand.  Biden, the highest-ranking American official to visit Ukraine during its conflict with Russia, planned to meet with government officials in the capital of Kiev on Tuesday. The vice president also planned to announce new technical support to help the fledgling government with energy and economic reforms. Biden’s trip comes days after the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and Europe signed an agreement in Geneva calling for Moscow to use its influence to get pro-Russian forces to leave the numerous government buildings they now occupy in cites throughout eastern Ukraine. The U.S. asserted on Monday that publicly available photographs from Twitter and other media show that some of the troops in eastern Ukraine are Russian special forces, and the U.S. said the photos support its case that Moscow is using its military to stir unrest in Ukraine.

There was no way to immediately verify the photographs, which were either taken from the Internet or given to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last week by Ukraine diplomats. In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected charges that Moscow was behind the troubles in eastern Ukraine and failing to live up to the Geneva agreement. “Before putting forth ultimatums to us, demanding fulfillment of something within two-three days or otherwise be threatened with sanctions, we would urgently call on our American partners to fully recognize responsibility for those whom they brought to power and whom they are trying to shield, closing their eyes to the outrages created by this regime and by the fighters on whom this regime leans,” Lavrov told a news conference. More

 

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MERS Death Toll Hits 81 In Saudi Arabia: 35% Increase 17 New Cases

 

 

U.S. drone strikes in Yemen leave scores dead

 

 

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