(CBS/AP) – “WASHINGTON – The alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States was comically amateurish, but the U.S. government believes not only that it was approved at high levels in Tehran but also that it was not the only plot, CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports.
‘There may be a chain of these things,’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.
Feinstein said there’s information that the Iranians may have other targets.
‘I think we need to explore whether there are other plots going on into other countries,’ Feinstein said.
The Obama administration has also rushed to take advantage of the plot to turn up the pressure on Iran.
U.S. officials say the so-called soft pressure of sanctions against Iran, for its refusal to give up its nuclear ambitions, has increased tensions there. They hope that increases the chance that the Iranian middle class will force change from within.
In public remarks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke Wednesday of a ‘dangerous escalation’ of what the U.S. claims is an Iranian pattern of franchising terror abroad.
‘We call upon other nations to join us in condemning this threat to international peace and security,’ Clinton said.” Read more.
By THE WASHINGTON TIMES – “The Obama administration has been obsessed with Muslim outreach and recently tried to mend fences with the Jewish community. Given the state of the world, however, the White House ought to be focused on helping the world’s oppressed Christians.
The United States has been wary to intervene in matters affecting Christians in the Middle East for fear of validating terrorist narratives that the West is engaged in a new crusade against Islam. The result of this passive policy has been to allow Islamic extremists increasingly to dominate the debate, often with tragic consequences.
On Sunday in Egypt, a clash between Coptic Christians and the military left at least 25 dead. Copts are the largest religious minority in Egypt, representing about 10 percent of the population. Attacks on the Copts have increased since former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. That the military was involved in this incident was a signal that matters are taking a turn for the worse. The White House issued a lukewarm condemnation noting that President Obama is ‘deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt’ and that ‘as the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities – including Copts – must be respected.’ In other words, the U.S. government will do nothing about the massacre of Christians.
Smaller Christian communities face even greater challenges. The world awaits definitive news about Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who faced execution for apostasy after converting to Christianity from Islam. Sayed Mussa, an Afghan Red Cross worker who converted to Christianity, faced the death penalty. He was freed earlier this year after his case gained international attention but went immediately into hiding due to the public climate of hostility.
According to the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, the last Christian church in Afghanistan has been destroyed. The 500 to 8,000 Afghan Christians who wish to worship publicly can attend services at military bases, Provincial Reconstruction Team facilities and the Italian embassy, but there are obvious risks involved. State’s report says, ‘the U.S. government regularly discusses religious freedom with [Afghan] government officials as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.’ Considering all the aid America has given Afghanistan over the last decade, the State Department should do more than just talk.” Read more.
Obama meets Evangelical leaders, with ‘religious persecution’ as ‘top priority‘ – “Obama met with the Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 45,000 churches from 40 denominations across the United States, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. NAE leaders that attended the unprecedented meeting included Pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed near Orlando, who was a member of the White House’s faith-based initiative advisory committee; Williams Roberts, national commander of The Salvation Army; and Leith Anderson, president of the NAE; among others. The meeting was the first time that Obama accepted NAE’s invitation to meet, Anderson told Religion News Service.” Read more.
‘Meeting’ with evangelical leaders about ‘religious persecution’ is one thing. Doing something about it is another. Given Obama’s track record, I doubt very much that anything will come from this, aside form a photo op …
Oklahoma: Hundreds of Dead Fish Found Near Lake Tenkiller Dam, ‘Could Get a Lot Worse if Something Doesn’t Change’
“A fish biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife investigated a reported fish kill early Thursday morning just below Lake Tenkiller Dam on the lower Illinois River, north of Gore, involving at least 400 fish.
State biologist Josh Johnston said, ‘This is substantial fish kill, and it could get a lot worse if something doesn’t change.’
Brent Higginbotham, a long-time fisherman from Oklahoma City, reported the fish kill to state game wardens early Thursday.
‘I fish here a lot and when I got here this morning I saw a dead spoonbill and some bass and a walleye,’ Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham said he reported it when he saw lots of fish stacked up on one bank.
‘What’s happened,’ Johnston said, ‘is the dissolved oxygen level has gotten low because there is no fresh water coming in from the dam.’
Johnston reported finding 21 paddlefish, three smallmouth bass, one rainbow trout, one largemouth bass, 75 to 100 blue catfish, four flathead catfish, one walleye bass, 50 gizzard shad, 10 channel catfish, 15 drum and two spotted bass dead. He said he spotted about 200 blue catfish piping, which is surfacing to find air.” Read more.
John Cooper with the ministry of natural resources says the numbers have been especially high this year.
About 100 dead sturgeon have been reported along with other species of fish.
Up to 300 birds — including seagulls, ducks and loons — have also died.
Some have been sent away for testing just to ensure botulism, which is naturally occurring, is the cause.
Officials say it should be of little threat to human health.” Source.
Newfoundland: Hundreds of Dead Fish Scattered Along Stretch Several Kilometres Long Wash Ashore in Humber Arm
Hackett was standing on his family’s wharf in the Curling area of Corner Brook, looking at the hundreds of dead fish floating near the shore or washed up on the beach after the previous night’s high tide.
The dead fish were scattered along a stretch of several kilometres on the southern shore of the Humber Arm Wednesday.
The silver fish are Atlantic saury, a pelagic bait fish that grows almost one foot in length and is easily identified by its needle-like bill. In fact, they are also known as billfish or skippers, the latter for thier tendency to skip along the surface of the water when being chased by predators.
‘I remember seeing them come in like this before,’ said Hackett. ‘It must have been 20 or 25 years ago, though. They came in and they started trying to drive their beaks into the wharf and then they died. It seemed to me like something was chasing them in, like porpoises or something like that.’
Hackett was struck by the fact none of the many seagulls and cormorants nearby seemed interested in eating the fish, although some of the fish had clearly been sampled by a predator of some sort.” Read more.
Biologists Still Mystified as Nearly 100 Dead Seals Have Now Washed Ashore From Massachusetts to Maine
By Charles McMahon – “PORTSMOUTH — An official from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday the count of dead harbor seals found along the New England coastline since September is now 94.
Meddy Garron, regional marine mammal stranding coordinator for NOAA, said the investigation into the seal deaths has led biologists to trace back reports of animals washing ashore since Sept. 1. Garron said officials chose that date because they have determined a noticeable spike in seal deaths since that time.
‘We are documenting an increased number of harbor seal strandings,’ she said.
All of the seals have washed ashore along the coast ranging from the North Shore of Massachusetts to the southern portion of Maine, said Garron.The majority of the animals are considered the ‘young of the year,’ said Garron.
Biologists have yet to determine the reason for the deaths and are patiently awaiting results of necropsies conducted on the carcasses.
‘We’re still not sure what’s going on,’ Garron said.
Investigators have ruled out foul play and are focusing efforts on whether pathogens are playing a part in the surge in seal deaths over the last few weeks.” Read more.
‘Katla’ Rumbles Iceland: Experts Warn of Imminent Eruption Even More Powerful Than The ‘Small’ One That Paralyzed Air Traffic Last Year
Seismologists are nervously watching rumblings beneath Katla which could spew an ash cloud dwarfing the 2010 eruption that cost airlines two billion dollars (£1.27 billion) and drove home how vulnerable modern society is to the whims of nature.
Brooding over rugged moss-covered hills on Iceland’s southern edge, Katla is a much bigger beast than the nearby Eyjafjallajokul volcano, which blasted ash all over Europe for several weeks in an eruption that local scientist Pall Einarsson describes nonetheless as ‘small’.
Named after an evil troll, Katla has a larger magma chamber than Eyjafjallajokul’s.
Its last major eruption in 1918 continued more than a month, turning day into night, starving crops of sunlight and killing off some livestock.
The eruption melted some of the ice-sheet covering Katla, flooding surrounding farmlands with a torrent of water that some accounts have said measured as wide as the Amazon.
Now, clusters of small earthquakes are being detected around Katla, which means an eruption could be imminent, seismologists say. The earthquakes have been growing in strength, too.
After a long period of magnitude three tremors, a magnitude four quake was detected last week.
‘It is definitely showing signs of restlessness,’ said Mr Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland.
Teams of seismologists and geologists at the university are tracking the spike in seismic activity and working with disaster officials to prepare communities near Katla like Vik, a small town of some 300 people that is flanked by black sand beaches.
Civil defence authorities have been holding regular meetings with scientists. Disaster officials have also drafted an evacuation plan and set aside temporary housing, but many fear they may have less than an hour to evacuate once the volcano erupts.
Iceland sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic’s mid-oceanic ridge. Eruptions, common throughout Iceland’s history, are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth’s plates move and magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface.
The longer pressure builds up, the more catastrophic an eruption can be. Records show that Katla usually has a large eruption twice a century. Since its last eruption was almost exactly 93 years ago, it is long overdue for another, seismologists say.” Read more.
‘Impact Threat’: Amateur Skywatchers in Tenerife Spot Asteroid That Comes Close Enough to Earth to Pose Threat of Impact
Volunteers picked out the cosmic rock – named asteroid 2011 SF108 – last month from the observatory in the Canary Islands.
The breakthrough discovery could signal the first of many more asteroid sighting around the world as keen amateurs become more equipped with advanced technology.
Space experts said the sighting highlighting the value of ‘crowd-sourcing’ to science and planetary defense.
The discovery of asteroid 2011 SF108 was made by the volunteer Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) team during an observation slot sponsored by ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program.
The four-night survey used the 1m-aperture telescope at ESA’s Optical Ground Station at Teide on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
This is not the first asteroid found under SSA sponsorship, but it is the first that qualifies as a ‘near Earth object’ – an object that passes close enough to Earth during its orbit around the Sun that it could pose an impact threat.
During TOTAS observations, the telescope runs automated asteroid surveys for several hours using software developed by amateur astronomer and computer scientist Matthias Busch from the Starkenburg Amateur Observatory in Heppenheim, Germany.
However, potential sightings must still be evaluated by humans.
A team of 20 volunteers analyses each of the images to highlight anything that appears to be moving through space.” Read more.
Richter Magnitude 6.1 – AMURSKAYA OBLAST’, RUSSIA
Friday, October 14, 2011 at 04:10:15 PM at epicenter
Depth: 15.3 km (9.5 miles)
“MOSCOW, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A strong earthquake struck Russia’s Far East near the Chinese border on Friday, shaking buildings hundreds of kilometres (miles) away, briefly halting Russian oil supplies to its energy-hungry Asian neighbour.
Schools were evacuated in one Russian city and office workers fled buildings across the border in China, but emergency officials said there were no casualties or significant property damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.1 magnitude quake struck on Friday at 0610 GMT near Skovorodino in the Amur region, about 5,150 km (3,200 miles) east of Moscow, and 210 km (130 miles) north of China’s Heilongjiang province.
Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft <TRNF_p.MM> said the quake forced a five and a half hour halt to oil shipments to China on the 300,000 barrel-per-day East Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, but added the pipeline itself had not been damaged.
A spur of the pipeline leads to China from Skovorodino.
Transneft spokesman Igor Dyomin said the company also temporarily stopped loading railway cars destined for the port of Kozmino on the Sea of Japan, an export route for another 300,000 barrels-per-day of oil to China and Asia-Pacific nations including South Korea, Japan and the United States.
‘The company halted supplies as a preventive measure. Transneft expects aftershocks,’ said Dyomin, adding the power supply to some pumping stations was interrupted and reserve capacity was plugged in.
Light fixtures were shaken and schools were evacuated in Chita, a city about 700 km (440 miles) southwest of the epicentre, Itar-Tass news agency said.
Tremors were also felt in the border city of Blagoveshchensk, 500 km (310 miles) southeast of the epicentre.” Read more.