Archive for 02/28/2012

North Korea Deploys New Long-Range Rocket Launchers: Newspaper

02/28/2012 Leave a comment

“SEOUL (Kyodo) — North Korea has deployed an improved, longer-range version of its 240 mm multiple rocket launcher, a South Korean newspaper reported Tuesday, citing military sources.

The Chosun Ilbo said North Korea is expected to unveil the rocket launchers during a parade to mark the centennial of founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday April 15.

North Korea spent several years trying to improve the rocket launchers and has now completed the work. To test the upgraded version, it reportedly imported 300 mm shells from Russia and test-fired them for years off the west coast.

As for the range of the new rocket launchers, some experts speculate that they have a range of more than 120 kilometers. That would put the entire Seoul metropolitan area, including U.S. bases in surrounding provinces, within their range. The old models have a range of 60 km that puts Seoul and Chuncheon in Gangwon Province within their range when fired from the front-line Demilitarized Zone.

But others say their range is less than 100 km. Most rocket launchers with a diameter of less 240 mm have a range of between 60 and 70 km. To strike a target more than 100 km away, they need a precision strike system using inertial navigation or GPS, and there is no evidence the North’s rocket launchers have such capabilities yet.

A source was quoted as saying, ‘North Korea is probably trying to threaten South Korea and the U.S. by making the rocket launchers public and use them as a propaganda material at home and abroad on Kim Il Sung’s centennial.'” Source – Mainichi Japan.

Bird Flu, Pig Flu, Now Bat Flu Could Pose Threat to Humans, Mingle with Common Forms of Influenza to Become Something More Dangerous

02/28/2012 12 comments

AP – “For the first time, scientists have found evidence of flu in bats, reporting a never-before-seen virus whose risk to humans is unclear.

The surprising discovery of genetic fragments of a flu virus is the first well-documented report of it in the winged mammals. So far, scientists haven’t been able to grow it, and it’s not clear if – or how well – it spreads.

Flu bugs are common in humans, birds and pigs and have even been seen in dogs, horses, seals and whales, among others. About five years ago, Russian virologists claimed finding flu in bats, but they never offered evidence.

‘Most people are fairly convinced we had already discovered flu in all the possible’ animals, said Ruben Donis, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who co-authored the new study.

Scientists suspect that some bats caught flu centuries ago and that the virus mutated within the bat population into this new variety. Scientists haven’t even been able to grow the new virus in chicken eggs or in human cell culture, as they do with more conventional flu strains.

But it still could pose a threat to humans. For example, if it mingled with more common forms of influenza, it could swap genes and mutate into something more dangerous, a scenario at the heart of the global flu epidemic movie ‘Contagion.’

The research was posted online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” Read more.

Categories: Pestilence

Pakistani Muslims Employ ‘Blasphemy’ Threat in Land Grab Attempt From Christian Family

02/28/2012 Leave a comment

“SIALKOT, Pakistan, February 27 (CDN) — Tensions are still high in a village near here following Muslims’ attempt to seize land from a Christian family by threatening to accuse them of ‘blasphemy.’

What began on Feb. 19 as a quarrel over a pigeon between Christian and Muslim youths at Nawa Pind Sabu Mohal village, in Sialkot’s Pasroor area in northeast Punjab Province, grew into an occasion to jail some Christians in the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country, the Christians said.

Gulshan Masih, 20, told Compass that his younger brother, Saif Masih, 18, had quarreled with a young Muslim over a pigeon that led to about a half dozen boys from each group charging into a fistfight and later pelting each other with stones. With the Muslims throwing bricks and stones from inside a mosque at the young Christian men’s homes, the skirmish ended when an elderly female relative of the Christians was wounded in their courtyard, Gulshan Masih said.

A few hours later, police officers arrived and took his father, 55-year-old Bashir Masih, 55, and 50-year-old uncle, Pervaiz Masih, into custody.

‘The Muslims had accused us of desecrating the mosque by throwing stones at it,’ Gulshan Masih said. ‘My father and uncle were not even involved in the fight, yet they were taken into custody on false charges.’

Muslim villagers have tried to drive Christians from the village on similarly petty pretexts, he said.

‘We own land and cattle, and this may be one of the reasons why the Muslims keep on picking fights with us over minor issues,’ Masih said, recalling how relatives Saleem and Rasheed Masih were arrested on a false blasphemy charge in 1999 after a quarrel stemming from a Muslim ice cream vendor refusing to serve Saleem Masih from the same bowl used by Muslims. Rasheed Masih was not even present at the scene of the quarrel, Gulshan Masih said, but was also charged.” Read more.

Syria: Christians Afraid To Go Out At Night Ask For Prayer, Armed Mob Attacks Monastery

02/28/2012 2 comments

“In the wake of a year of protests and violence, the volatile situation in Syria has brought great suffering to the entire population. Syrian Christians say their greatest need right now is prayer, according to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians and religious freedom around the world.

The danger has prompted many churches across the country to meet only in daytime, many only on Sundays. On Fridays, the weekly Islamic day of assembly, many Christian schools now close. Because of rampant killing, theft and kidnapping of children, some parents have stopped sending their children to school. Syria also suffers a lack of fuel and electricity, an economy in shambles and few jobs.

‘Christians’ plights vary by place,’ said Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. ‘Damascus Christians seem to have the fewest difficulties; in contrast, many Homs believers have fled what has become a war zone.’

Some Christians want to stay; others desperately seek to emigrate, said Moeller. Many say they simply cannot flee.

‘Many believers tell us that Syria is where they belong and will remain, even if that means dying there,’ he said.

More than 80 percent of Christians have fled Homs, the city where fighting is the worst. Looters have invaded the homes of those who have fled. At least one evangelical church has been attacked. Those who remain have limited means of safe transportation. Few attend church services.” Read more.

Syria: Armed Attack On Catholic Monastery – “For the first time in the history of the conflict in Syria, an armed attack has been made on a Catholic monastery, reported Vatican Radio on Saturday. About 30 armed men wearing masks attacked the monastery, founded by Jesuit from Italy Paolo dell’Olio. Attackers demanded money and weapons. According to the abbot, no one was killed or wounded. ‘However, it is strange that the attackers sought weapons in a monastery, known as a center of dialogue and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians,’ – said the monk. According to the Catholic Archbishop of Damascus, maronite Samir Nassar, the situation in the country is spiraling out of control as the armed opposition spreads its influence to different regions of the state.” Read more.

Sun Unleashes 5 Solar Eruptions in 2 Days

02/28/2012 Leave a comment – “Things on the sun have certainly been heating up. Our closest star unleashed five solar eruptions in only two days last week, producing extraordinary northern lights displays for lucky skywatchers over the weekend.

The solar storms flared up between Feb. 23 and 24 and exploded from nearly all areas of the star, including the top, bottom, left and right sides of the solar disk as seen by space-based observatories, according to NASA scientists. In fact, four of these outbursts came within a single 24-hour period.

One of the eruptions churned out an impressive magnetic filament in the early hours of Feb. 24. This triggered the first of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that were blasted toward Earth. CMEs are massive eruptions of solar plasma and charged particles that can produce potentially harmful geomagnetic storms when the they hit Earth’s magnetic field lines.

Scientists closely monitor these events because the most powerful geomagnetic storms can disrupt satellites in orbit, cause communications interference, and damage other electronic infrastructure. But, one of the less harmful effects of geomagnetic storms is that they can amp up normal displays of Earth’s auroras (also known as the northern and southern lights).

The Feb. 24 eruption was captured in a video by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The filament, which is visible in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength, shoots out from the sun, sending clouds of plasma into space.” Read more.

Categories: Cosmic Craziness
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