Archive for 10/28/2011

Report: Israeli Prisoner Swap May Be Prelude to Attack on Iran

10/28/2011 Leave a comment

By Abraham Rabinovich – “JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to execute a 1,000-for-1 prisoner exchange last week despite his frequently voiced opposition to such lopsided deals is seen by several Israeli military commentators as an effort to ‘clear the deck’ before possibly undertaking an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Amir Oren, the veteran military analyst for Ha’aretz newspaper, took note of Israel’s exchanging 1,027 Palestinian convicts for army Staff Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who had been captured by Hamas in 2006. Mr. Oren wrote that the price paid by Mr. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ‘can be interpreted only in a context that goes beyond that of the Gilad Schalit deal.’

He noted that Israeli leaders in the past have shown a readiness to absorb ‘a small loss’ in order to attain a greater success, generally involving ‘some sort of military adventure.’

Mr. Oren also noted that, until recently, Mr. Netanyahu had faced opposition to attacking Iran from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad intelligence chief Meir Dagan. Both retired earlier this year and have been replaced by men believed to hold a different view on Iran.

he Islamic republic has not been a top agenda item since the outbreak of the Arab Spring. Yet Iran’s nuclear program, which Western nations believe is geared for making an atomic bomb, has remained a key concern, despite Tehran’s denials that it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.” Read more.

Strong 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Peru, Knocks Out Power

10/28/2011 1 comment

Richter Magnitude 6.9 – NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL PERU
Friday, October 28, 2011 at 01:54:33 PM at epicenter
14.515°S, 76.009°W
Depth: 23.9 km (14.9 miles)

“A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off the west coast of Peru, rattling residents in cities still recovering from a temblor that killed more than 500 people in 2007. No fatalities were immediately reported.

The temblor knocked out power and sent people running from their homes near its center 178 miles (286 kilometers) south- southeast of Lima. In Ica, which was devastated by the magnitude-8 quake in 2007, a cathedral wall and church tower collapsed, along with several mud brick buildings, said Juan Carlos Romani, a spokesman for the city council.

‘It was very strong but quick,’ said Romani in a telephone interview from Ica, adding that there were no reports of injuries, though power and phone service hadn’t fully returned. ‘It lasted ten seconds at most but was very violent.’

In Lima, buildings shook for about a minute, and had to be evacuated amid aftershocks, though no damage was immediately reported in the capital.” Read more.

Categories: Earthquakes

‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’ Jihad: American-Born Muslim from Pittsburgh a Mouthpiece for al-Qaeda, Expressed Admiration for Bin Laden

10/28/2011 Leave a comment

By Laurel J. Sweet – “As an American-born Muslim of privilege tried to shield himself yesterday with the Constitution he’s accused of betraying, prosecutors began painting for jurors a sinister portrait of a young man the feds said both al-Qaeda and the FBI recognized was becoming a mouthpiece for jihad.

Tarek Mehanna even had all-American code for holy war, prosecutors said: Peanut butter and jelly.

By moderating online chats from the ‘cushy bedroom’ of his parents’ Sudbury home about the monster he thought of as his ‘real father,’ 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, and translating bin Laden’s recorded calls to arms into English subtitles, assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty said Mehanna, 29, ‘viewed himself as part of the media department of the terror group.’

‘It meant killing, it meant bullets, it meant martyrdom,’ said Chakravarty, noting that in the summer of 2005, al-Qaeda ‘personally solicited’ Mehanna to translate works by leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

And to a large extent, Mehanna’s attorney J.W. Carney Jr. — acknowledging his client was bitter about the war in Iraq — didn’t disagree.

‘Yes, he expressed admiration for Osama bin Laden. He didn’t hide his beliefs; he wore them on his sleeve,’ Carney said on day one of an anticipated two-month trial, amid extraordinary security in and around U.S. District Court in Boston.

Mehanna’s religious and political beliefs — while perhaps treason to some — are ‘what make America so great, so strong, so free,’ said Carney…” Read more.

Bosnia: Radical Islamist Gunman Opens Fire in Front of US Embassy in Sarajevo

10/28/2011 3 comments

“A suspected radical Islamist gunman opened fire outside US embassy in Sarajevo today in an apparent terror attack.

Dramatic pictures show the heavily bearded gunman calmly walking the streets clutching his semi automatic weapon before indiscriminately shooting at civilians and police officers.

And the Bosnian president has told reporters he believes the shooting spree in front of the embassy was terrorist attack.

Earlier media reports said the man, identified as a member of the Wahhabi branch of Islam, was killed by a sniper after firing a Kalashnikov rifle at the US mission.

But later it was confirmed the gunman was still alive after being shot down in a police operation at the embassy.

A police spokesman told Bosnian television at least one officer was injured before the gunman was taken down.” Read more.

Update: 17 Detained in Serbia After U.S. Embassy Attack – “Serbian police on Saturday detained 17 people suspected of belonging to an extremist Islamic sect following a shooting incident outside the U.S. embassy in neighboring Bosnia. The arrests in the southern, Muslim-dominated region of Sandzak, were made before dawn by an anti-terrorist unit. Computers and mobile phones belonging to the suspects were impounded.” Read more.

Obama Has Declared Record-Breaking 89 Disasters So Far in 2011

10/28/2011 Leave a comment

By Amy Bingham – “From Hurricane Irene, which soaked the entire East Coast in August, to the Midwest tornadoes, which wrought havoc from Wisconsin to Texas, 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

And as America’s hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires set records this year, so too has President Obama in his response to them.

During the first 10 months of this year President Obama declared 89 major disasters, more than the record 81 declarations that he made in all of 2010.

And Obama has declared more disasters — 229 — in the first three years of his presidency than almost any other president signed in their full four-year terms. Only President George W. Bush declared more, having signed 238 disaster declarations in his second term, from 2005 to 2009.

But while the sheer number of bad weather events played a big role in the uptick in presidential disaster declarations, Obama’s record-setting year may have something to do with politics as well.

‘There’s no question about it that the increase in the number of disaster declarations is outstripping what we would expect to see, given what we observe in terms of weather,’ said Robert Hartwig, the president and economist at the Insurance Information Institute. ‘There’s a lot of political pressure on the president and Congress to show they are responsive to these sorts of disasters that occur.’

While the president aimed to authorize swift and sweeping aid to disaster victims, Congress was entrenched in partisan battles over how to foot the bill.” Read more.

Flashback: Nature is pummeling the US this year with extremes – “Nature is pummeling the United States this year with extremes. Unprecedented triple-digit heat and devastating drought. Deadly tornadoes leveling towns. Massive rivers overflowing. A billion-dollar blizzard. And now, unusual hurricane-caused flooding in Vermont. If what’s falling from the sky isn’t enough, the ground shook in places that normally seem stable: Colorado and the entire East Coast. On Friday, a strong quake triggered brief tsunami warnings in Alaska. Arizona and New Mexico have broken records for wildfires.” Read more.

Eurozone Bail-Out: Holes Emerge in the ‘Grand Solution’ to Solve EU Debt Crisis, Portugal Enters ‘Grecian Vortex’

10/28/2011 3 comments

By Bruno Waterfield – “A trillion euro bail-out to save the EU’s single currency is in danger of unravelling after Germany’s central bank warned that the rescue measure was too dependent on the high-risk deals that caused the economic crisis.

Hours after an all-night summit of euro governments ended, flaws began to emerge in a package that was billed as a ‘grand and comprehensive’ solution to the European debt crisis.

The concerns were led by Germany’s powerful central bank, which expressed fears that a plan to leverage a €440 billion eurozone rescue fund to amass a ‘fire power’ of €1 trillion, or £880 billion, resembled the risky finance methods that triggered the crisis in 2008.

EU leaders are expected to sanction the establishment of a so-called special purpose investment vehicle, or SPIV, to be set up in the coming weeks. It is aimed at attracting investment from countries such as China and Brazil.

Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank, sounded the alarm over the plan to ‘leverage’ the fund by a factor of four to five times without putting any new money into the pot.

He warned that the scheme could be hit by market turbulence with taxpayers left holding the bill for risky investments in Italian and Spanish bonds.” Read more.

Europe’s rescue euphoria threatened as Portugal enters ‘Grecian vortex’ – “Monetary contraction in Portugal has intensified at an alarming pace and is mimicking the pattern seen in Greece before its economy spiralled out of control, raising concerns that the EU summit deal may soon washed over by fast-moving events. Data released by the European Central Bank show that real M1 deposits in Portugal have fallen at an annualised rate of 21pc over the past six months, buckling violently in September. ‘Portugal appears to have entered a Grecian vortex and monetary trends have deteriorated sharply in Spain, with a decline of 8.4pc,’ said Simon Ward, from Henderson Global Investors.” Read more.

Categories: Man-Made Disasters

Wake Up Call: Huge Asteroid to Creep Near Earth on November 8

10/28/2011 Leave a comment

“Mark Nov. 8 on your calendar. A huge asteroid that could potentially threaten Earth in the far future will pass close by as astronomers around the world watch and measure.

This space rock is asteroid 2005 YU55, a veritable mini-world roughly 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide — nearly four football fields across — that will zoom by Earth inside the orbit of the moon.

At its closest approach, the asteroid will pass within 201,700 miles (325,000 kilometers) of Earth at 6:28 p.m. EDT (2228 GMT) on Nov. 8. The average distance between Earth and the moon is 240,000 miles (386,242 km).

Asteroid 2005 YU55 is set to become the object du jour for ground observers. An extensive campaign of radar, visual and infrared observations is being staged to survey this cosmic interloper.

Due to its size and proximity, YU55 was classified as a ‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroid’ several years ago. Its upcoming flyby is another wake-up call — an express mail reminder that humanity resides on a sitting duck of a planet.

Asteroid 2005 YU55’s pass by Earth will be closest to date by an object this large that we know about in advance. A smaller asteroid, called 2011 CQ1, actually came closer to Earth without hitting – a record-setting approach to within 3,400 miles (5,471 kilometers) — but it was not seen in advance.” Read more.

Emergency Alert System Test November 9 – “On November 9 at approximately 2 p.m. WSET will participate in a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. It will be seen on broadcast, cable and satellite television and will be heard on all radio stations. This test will last for approximately three minutes and then return viewers and listeners to regularly scheduled programming. The national EAS is a public alert and warning system that enables the president of the United States to address the public during extreme emergencies.” Read more.

Categories: Cosmic Craziness

India: Outbreak of Deadly Diseases Including ‘Mystery Illness’ Hits Children in Rayalaseema Region

10/28/2011 Leave a comment

“An outbreak of diseases, one of these being described as a mystery illness, has taken a heavy toll on children in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema region. At least 500 children, aged between two and five, have been admitted to the Kurnool Government General Hospital with symptoms of dengue, chikungunya and ‘strange viral fevers’, doctors say.

Since October 12, the hospital has seen the death of 22 children. Just how many of them died due to viral fever is not clear. Resident medical officer Dr Gopal Raj said the high death count is due to the large number of children admitted to the neo-natal ICU following complications at birth. Kurnool Government Hospital is the largest referral hospital in Rayalaseema, especially for newborns.

The state government ordered an inquiry on Tuesday after being criticised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) the previous day. A team of health department, sanitation and Pollution Control Board officials has been sent to Kurnool and Kadapa districts to assess the situation.” Source – Indian Express.

Mysterious disease kills 28 children in India – “In India’s Bihar state, at least 28 children have died in the past week from an unidentified illness. Officials said that all of the children were between two and eight years. They died in Muzaffarpur town, 80kms (50 miles) from the state capital, Patna. Bihar Health Minister Ashwani Choubey told that a team of doctors from Delhi is visiting Muzaffarpur on Tuesday to diagnose the disease. The children died after reporting high fever followed by bouts of unconsciousness and convulsions.” Read more.

Categories: Pestilence
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