January 1, 2014
IT’S HAPPENING again: The champagne. The ball dropping. The resolutions of everything we plan to change.
But what are we really celebrating on New Year’s Eve? And why do we consider tonight — of all nights — as the last night of the year?
According to Denis Feeney, author of “Ceasar’s Calendar: Ancient Time and the Beginnings of History,” time-keeping is part of what makes us human.
“Every society attempts to track time,” he said. “Even the first societies discovered in the middle of Papua New Guinea know when to plant and when to harvest. No one just drifts through time, not even hunter-gatherers.”
For much of human history, each locality came up with its own way of marking time and its own date for when a year ended. Many cultures — including the Aztecs and Babylonians — celebrated the new year in March, just before new crops were planted. Indeed, the Persian calendar marks the new year, Nowruz, on March 21, with feasts and bonfires meant to cleanse bad things from the previous year. In Bali, people open their new year with a day of silence, which falls on March 31 this year.
Even early American colonists celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25, until the date was officially changed in 1752. That date had a Christian logic to it: It’s exactly nine months before Christ was born.
So how, then, did we come to celebrate the new year in winter, when nothing is bloomingand the world doesn’t feel new at all?
According to Feeney, the Romans made the change. Initially, they, too, celebrated New Year’s Day in March. Chief executive officers in Rome used to take office in March, at the beginning of the year. But around 153 BC, they began taking office in January. Why remains a mystery.
“The best guess is that you have got the winter solstice in late December,” Feeney said. “That’s the shortest day of the year.” It’s a logical start to the countdown toward spring. But nobody knows for sure why the Romans switched the first month to January and named that month after Janus, God of endings, beginnings, and doorways.
By the time Julius Caesar got himself elected chief priest at age 37, Jan. 1 was already the first day of the year.
But at the time, the Roman calendar tracked the moon, not the sun. A year had only 354 days. To keep the calendar in tune with the seasons, the chief priest had to insert an extra 20 days into the month of February every couple of years.
“It was not precise,” Feeney said. “But it was good enough.”
The trouble was that Caesar spent a decade fighting wars in distant lands. He couldn’t add days to the calendar while he was away. Time grew increasingly out of whack. The month of March, which everyone knew to be spring, began appearing mid-winter, as snow fell.
Caesar pondered the problem and discovered a solution. While visiting Cleopatra in Egypt, he met an astronomer who suggested a calendar based on the sun. It had 365 days, and a leap year with an extra day in February every four years.
The year Caesar made the reform was called the “last year of confusion.” It was 445 days long. But once he got Rome on track, the new calendar worked well. It eventually spread across Europe through the Catholic Church. But Caesar’s calendar contained a tiny flaw: A solar year is actually made up of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. This adds an extra day every 130 years. Over a millennium, the discrepancy starts to matter.
So, in 1582, Pope Gregory — who inherited Caesar’s mantle as chief priest and keeper of time — announced a tweak: a 0.002 percent correction in the length of a year.
Catholic countries immediately adopted the change. But Protestant countries, including Britain, took centuries to get on board. Britain’s House of Commons adopted Gregory’s calendar in 1752. American colonists followed suit.
So, tonight, as you toast your own new beginning, take a moment to consider the miracle of collective human experience across the ages. The fact that billions around the world take tomorrow to be the first day of something new is nothing short of astonishing.
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S0 News January 1, 2014: Major Updates, Merck’s Poison
World News Headlines
from Todd Starnes:
Two Baptist chaplains said they were forced out of a Veterans Affairs chaplain training program after they refused orders to stop quoting the Bible and to stop praying in the name of Jesus.
When the men objected to those demands they were subjected to ridicule and harassment that led to one of the chaplains leaving the program and the other being ejected, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday.
The Conservative Baptist Association of America is suing Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki – alleging two of their chaplains were openly ridiculed by the leader of San Diego-based VA-DOD Clinical Pastoral Education Center program.
“Not only was the treatment these men received inappropriate, it was also a violation of federal law and the religious freedom guarantees of the First Amendment,” said John Wells, an attorney representing the Colorado-based denomination.
“No American choosing to serve in the armed forces should be openly ridiculed for his Christian faith,” he said, calling it one of the most blatant cases of religious discrimination he’s ever seen.
Lt. Commander Dan Klender, a Navy chaplain and Maj. Steven Firtko, a retired Army chaplain, had enrolled in the VA’s Clinical Pastoral Education Center program in San Diego last year.
The one-year training program is required for anyone wanting to work as a chaplain in a VA hospital. VA chaplains differ from other military chaplains in that they are limited to working in VA hospitals.
The program, that has affiliates around the nation, is open to chaplains of all religious faiths. However, applicants must have completed master-level seminary work.
There were seven chaplains enrolled in the San Diego program led by Nancy Dietsch, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee with a history of antagonistic behavior towards evangelicals, Wells said.
“She’s been very, very critical of Christians,” Wells told me in a telephone interview. “Instead of teaching anything dealing with faith issues, she’s dealing with a holistic, humanistic approach. It’s the idea that the spirit comes from within.”
The VA did not return my telephone calls, but they did release a statement to NBC San Diego. The VA said the two men were “bullying other classmates and refusing to honor other faith groups.”
Wells said the chaplains were subjected to anti-Christian bigotry.
– See more at: http://wakeupcallnews.blogspot.com/2013/12/va-chaplains-ordered-to-stop-quoting.html#sthash.QPTseiGb.dpuf
January 1, 2014 – INDONESIA – More than 19,000 people have been displaced by a volcano in Indonesia that has been erupting for months and shot lava into the air nine times overnight. Mount Sinabung on Sumatra sent hot rocks and ash 7,000 meters in the air last night and this morning, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. “Mount Sinabung remains on the highest alert leveland we have warned there should be no human activity within a five-kilometer radius of the crater,” Mr Nugroho said. “On Monday night, 19,126 people had fled their homes, and we expect that number to rise.” Police and soldiers were patrolling the danger zone to evacuate people who have chosen to stay in their homes, Mr. Nugroho added. Mount Sinabung – one of dozens of active volcanoes in Indonesia which straddles major tectonic fault lines – erupted in September for the first time since 2010 and has been rumbling ever since. In August, five people were killedand hundreds evacuated when a volcano on a tiny island in East Nusa Tenggara province erupted. The country’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in 2010. –ABC
Alaska Volcano erupts: Small, brief explosions were detected at the volcano yesterday evening (21:29 UTC or 12:29 AKST) and this morning at 4:06 UTC (19:06 AKST local time), USGS reported. No satellite images available after the time of the explosion, so uncertain if minor ash cloud generated, but unlikely. “Similar such explosions may continue without warning, and may produce minor ash clouds that are not expected to extend much beyond the volcano, but could produce local fallout on the flanks of the volcano. AVO has received no reports of activity from local observers.”http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/indonesias-sinabung-volcano-erupts-again-displacing-19000/
Breaking News »
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has outlawed the Council for European Palestinian Relations, a Belgian non-profit organization which has been found to act as Hamas’s representative in Europe, Haaretz reports. Members, including four European parliamentarians, risk arrest if they land at Ben Gurion airport. The organization’s heads are the Hamas activists Arafat Shoukri and Ramzi Abdo. Shoukri is resident in London.
Breaking News »
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda-linked Sinai terrorist group, Wednesday blew up the main pipeline supplying gas to the Egyptian industrial facilities and army camps in the peninsula. Gunmen set off the explosion southwest of El Arish.
Breaking News »
An Israeli patrol came under fire from the Gaza Strip early on New Year’s Day near Kissufim. The soldiers returned the fire.
Mass fish deaths
31st December 2013 – Tons of crabs, sea shells, mussels and birds wash up dead on beaches in Lima, Peru.
City staff and locals are working to clean beaches, but these are still filled with decaying animals.
Tons of crabs, sea shells, mussels and dead guano and decomposing birds are carried by sea to the shores of the beaches of Chancay (Lima Province Huaral) reported Canal N.
This phenomenon, which is recorded from five days ago, has mobilized residents and municipal staff, who are dedicated to cleaning the coast of northern boy from early morning until evening.
However, despite their efforts, the sea is throwing sand in the molluscs decomposition.
It was also reported that the cause of this strange phenomenon is not yet known.
Hosea 4:3 …’Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.’
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The Christian leaders who are silent about who does this killing and why, for fear of offending their Muslim “dialogue” partners in the West, have a great deal to answer for. “Extremists kill 12 in Nigerian Christian villages.
The Christian leaders who are silent about who does this killing and why, for fear of offending their Muslim “dialogue” partners in the West, have a great deal to answer for.
“Extremists kill 12 in Nigerian Christian villages,” from the Associated Press, December 30 (thanks to Kenneth):
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Witnesses say suspected Islamic militants killed 12 civilians in weekend attacks on two Christian villages in Muslim-dominated northeast Nigeria. One attack targeted a wedding party.
The witnesses said eight victims died when extremists attacked a wedding reception at Tashan-Alede village in Borno state late Saturday night, and four in neighboring Kwajffa village on Sunday.
A security official confirmed the attacks but said they did not yet have casualty figures. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The leader of a 4-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed thousands in northeast Nigeria recently threatened to target Christians. Village attacks have become common with many more Muslims than Christians killed this year.
The attacks have continued despite a state of emergency and the deployment of thousands of troops since May.
Morgellons disease is the popular name for an unexplained skin disorder characterized by disfiguring sores and crawling sensations on and under the skin. Morgellons disease also features fibers or solid materials emerging from these sores.
Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have concluded that Morgellons disease, which they refer to as an unexplained dermopathy, isn’t caused by an infection or parasites. Fibers found in the sores are usually wisps of cotton thread, probably coming from clothing or bandages.
CDC experts note that the signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease are very similar to those of a mental illness involving false beliefs about infestation by parasites (delusional parasitosis).
What are the signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease?
People who have Morgellons disease report the following signs and symptoms:
Skin rashes or sores that can cause intense itching
Crawling sensations on and under the skin, often compared to insects moving, stinging or biting
Fibers, threads or black stringy material in and on the skin
Short-term memory loss
The intense itching and open sores associated with Morgellons disease can severely interfere with a person’s quality of life.
How widespread is Morgellons disease?
Morgellons disease is a relatively rare condition that most frequently affects middle-aged white women. A cluster of cases occurred in California, which prompted the CDC to conduct a research study to determine if the cases were somehow related.
What do researchers know about Morgellons disease?
CDC researchers found no evidence that Morgellons disease is caused by an infectious agent or a substance in the environment. Researchers studied samples of skin, blood, urine and hair. Half of the hair samples tested positive for drugs such as marijuana, anti-anxiety medications or painkillers containing codeine derivatives.
Skin lesions most closely resembled insect or spider bites that had been worsened by scratching. The most commonly affected sites were the forearms, back, chest, face and lower legs. Some of the lesions were infected by germs commonly found on the skin, but these infections were not the cause of the lesions. No parasites were detected.
But CDC researchers weren’t able to determine if Morgellons disease is a new disorder or simply another name for delusional parasitosis.
How controversial is Morgellons disease?
Current attitudes toward Morgellons disease fall into various categories:
Some health professionals believe that Morgellons disease is a specific condition that needs to be confirmed by future research.
Some health professionals believe that signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease are caused by another condition, often mental illness.
Other health professionals don’t acknowledge Morgellons disease or are reserving judgment until more is known about the condition.
Some people who suspect they have Morgellons disease claim they’ve been ignored or dismissed as fakers. In contrast, some doctors say that people who report signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease typically resist other explanations for their condition.
How can you cope with the signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease?
The signs and symptoms linked to Morgellons disease can be distressing. Even though health professionals may disagree about the nature of the condition, you deserve compassionate treatment. To manage your signs and symptoms:
Establish a caring health care team. Find a doctor who acknowledges your concerns and does a thorough examination.
Be patient. Your doctor will likely look for known conditions that point to evidence-based treatments before considering a diagnosis of Morgellons disease.
Keep an open mind. Consider various causes for your signs and symptoms, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment — which may include long-term mental health therapy.
Seek treatment for other conditions. Get treatment for anxiety, depression or any other condition that affects your thinking, moods or behavior.
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Israel has raised the idea of transferring parts of the territory in “the triangle” southeast of Haifa — along with the hundreds of thousands of Israeli-Arab citizens who live there — to a future Palestinian state in return for annexing West Bank territory including settlement blocs, Maariv reported on Wednesday.
The idea is not central to the formal talks being brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due back in Israel on Thursday pushing a “framework” peace agreement. But it has been discussed “at the highest levels” between Israel and the US, the report said.
The area known as “the triangle,” located in the Sharon plain, contains mostly Arab-populated towns and cities such as Kafr Qara, Umm al-Fahm, Tayibe and Qalansawe. It was to have come under Jordanian rule in the arrangements that saw the establishment of the State of Israel but was ultimately included in Israeli sovereign territory under the 1949 armistice agreements because of Israeli security demands, and instead Israel ceded territory that had been earmarked for Israeli sovereignty in the area of the southern Hebron hills.
Unnamed sources told Maariv that the “triangle” plan has come up during talks between Israel and US officials at various levels, including at least one occasion when very senior officials including Kerry were in attendance. Israeli legal officials have begun investigating legal aspects of such an arrangement, the newspaper said. It added that the Americans have apparently not assented to the idea, and that the Palestinians are likely to reject it.
The idea is aimed at addressing two central issues in a possible peace agreement: first, land swaps between Israel and a Palestinian state that would enable Israel to expand its sovereignty to encompass major West Bank settlements, while compensating the Palestinians with territory that is currently part of sovereign Israel; and second, preserving Israel’s Jewish majority.
The possibility of land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians has gained widespread backing in the international community, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making stiffer territorial demands than some of his prime ministerial predecessors, the report said, including refusing to give away as much as he receives. In other words, whereas former prime minister Ehud Olmert was prepared to trade land on a one-to-one basis, Netanyahu is apparently pushing for a better formulation from Israel’s point of view.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been widely reported to seek only very minimal land-swap border adjustments, whereas Netanyahu seeks to ensure that as many Israelis living beyond the Green Line as possible be brought under undisputed Israeli sovereignty under a permanent accord.
Netanyahu is also concerned about Israel’s available land reserves being sufficient to meet its growing population demands, the report said. In addition, the prime minister is worried that even after signing a peace agreement, the Palestinians won’t genuinely be reconciled to ending their conflict with Israel, and will hope instead that Israel’s Arab population, whose growth rate is higher than the Jewish population, can eventually bring about a binational state in today’s Israel alongside the new Palestinian state.
There are currently around 1.6 million Israeli Arabs in the country and Maariv estimated that transferring 300,000 of those residents to a Palestinian state would leave Israel’s Arab population at around 12%.
By drawing on land from the triangle, where two of Israel’s largest Arab towns, Tayibe and Umm al-Fahm are located, Israel would be able to offer the Palestinians more territorial compensation in order to annex more West Bank settlement areas, the report said.
The idea of swapping territory including the residents who live on it has been discussed for years in some Israeli political circles. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has long argued that it would be a mistake, and inequitable, for Israel to relinquish unpopulated Israeli territory to the Palestinians in exchange for annexing settler-populated territory in the West Bank. Maariv noted that Liberman consistently raises his proposals in contacts with American and European interlocutors, and that he recently held talks on the peace process with Kerry in Washington.
In the formal peace talks with the Palestinians, the report went on, Israel has told the Palestinians which territory it seeks to annex in the West Bank under any future accord, but has not detailed how it would be willing to compensate the Palestinians. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, leading those talks, has asked the Palestinians what they want in return.
Aside from the land issue another major sticking point in the negotiations is Netanyahu’s demand, even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, to maintain IDF forces in the Jordan Valley and full control over the border between the West Bank and Jordan. Israel insists on control there out of security concerns, while the Palestinians emphatically reject any Israeli presence on the territory of a future state.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told Maariv that, from his point of view, there was nothing to discuss over the matter. “We are talking about a clear message to Israel and the US: The Jordan Valley is Palestinian,” he said.
Hamdallah also made clear that, despite repeated assertions by chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat that there was no point in continuing talks, the Palestinians would see through the nine-month negotiating period agreed with Kerry. “We committed to the Americans to hold talks until April and we will keep that commitment,” he said.
Kerry is due to arrive in the region on Thursday for his tenth visit this year, to try to push for a framework agreement that, while not a signed document, would address all core issues, including the borders between Israel and a future Palestine; security; Palestinian refugees; and conflicting claims to the holy city of Jerusalem. The framework deal reportedly includes clauses providing for Israeli readiness under certain conditions to partner the Palestinians to a state based on the pre-1967 lines with land swaps, and for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and declare an end to the conflict.
Kerry reportedly hopes to have the sides agree in the course of January to proceed on the basis of the framework deal, and to extend the negotiating period beyond April.
WEDNESDAY JAN 01, 2014 | ALISSA DE CARBONNEL FOR REUTERS
Policemen patrol in central Volgograd
Another convert is suspected of building a bomb used to kill seven people in the same city two months ago.
The attacks came half a year after two Chechen brothers who had lived in Dagestan became the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three Americans, sign that a conflict once seen as remote by the West could have consequences far afield.
Security experts say that insurgents have used ethnic Russians to carry out attacks in other parts of Russia, both because of the symbolism of their conversion to radical Islam and because Slavic appearance could help them avoid detection.
“This is a new strategy that we have been seeing more often lately. It’s a massive problem for law enforcement agencies,” said Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s security services.
Pavel Pechyonkin, named by Russian news agencies as a possible suspect in the first of two attacks within 24 hours – a suicide bomb that killed 18 people at Volgograd’s railway station on Sunday – was a paramedic from the Mari El region in central Russia.
An ethnic Russian on his father’s side, he converted to Islam, his mother’s religion.
He left home in 2011 to join insurgents in Dagestan, his parents said earlier this year in a video message posted on the Internet, appealing to their son to lay down arms.
In response, Pechyonkin recorded his own video message, saying he was following God’s will.
“Here Muslims are being killed and kidnapped … Why should we follow those Christian commandments, when Allah urges us to fight those kafirs? Why shouldn’t we leave their children orphaned?” he said, wearing a green tunic and skull cap.
Authorities also believe an ethnic Russian from the Moscow suburbs, Dmitry Sokolov, built a suicide explosive belt detonated by his Dagestani wife in a bus bombing in Volgograd in October, law enforcement sources in Dagestan said.
The two met on online Islamist chat rooms. Sokolov was killed by Russian security forces in November, alongside four other militants in a house in Dagestan.
RECRUITS FROM AS FAR AS CANADA
Vladimir Putin crushed separatists in Chechnya when he rose to power 14 years ago. But an Islamist insurgency spread to neighboring Dagestan and remains the deadliest conflict in Europe. Fighters have recruited to their ranks from as far afield as Canada.
Yekaterina Sokirianskaya, a Caucasus expert at International Crisis Group, says many new converts adopt a fundamentalist form of Islam that often puts them in conflict with their families and makes them more prone to “radicalization”.
“They are very attractive to insurgents,” Sokirianskaya said. “The last attack could have been carried out only by a Slavic man, this is clear, because security measures were tightened and a women in a hijab would have been noticed.”
Heavy security around Sochi means an attack on the Black Sea resort city where the Olympics will be held in February would be extremely difficult, security experts say, but the greatest potential threat is from a suicide bomber.
“This is very effective tactic. It requires very little preparation and very little money, but it is very hard to stop,” Alexei Filatov, deputy head of the veterans’ association of the Alfa anti-terrorism unit.
Russian police have launched a security operation making no secret that they are targeting migrants from Muslim areas. A bomber recruited from another part of Russia, preferably with a Russian-sounding name, would have an easier time reaching a target than one with a Muslim name whose identity documents were issued in Chechnya or Dagestan.
More than 120 people have become suicide bombers during Putin’s rule, Grigory Shvedov, editor of website Kavkaz-uzel.ru, which tracks the unrest.
A harsh crackdown on adherents of the strict Salafist strand of Islam practiced by militants has added fuel to the insurgency, Shvedov and other experts say.
“Although brute force is being used in the North Caucasus now, they (the authorities) cannot build a wall thick enough to prevent terrorists from slipping out,” Shvedov said.
Local militant groups in Chechnya, Dagestan and other North Caucasus provinces united in 2007 under the leadership of Doku Umarov, a former Chechen rebel, whose Caucasus Emirate group says it was behind suicide bombings that killed 37 people at a Moscow airport in 2011 and 40 on the Moscow subway in 2010.
He urged his fighters in a video posted online in July to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Olympics.
Volgograd, about a day’s drive north along a main highway from the Caucasus, is a far easier target for militants than Sochi, the site of the Olympics, 700 km (440 miles) away.
Sochi, a 145-km (90-mile) long stretch of coastal resorts where Putin himself spends his summer holidays, has had its security beefed up with forces drawn from other cities. It is shielded by impassable mountains on one side and the Black Sea on the other, and can only be approached by air or a heavily guarded coastal road.
If they cannot reach Sochi itself, militants may have calculated instead on the symbolic value of sowing panic in Volgograd, one of the biggest cities in southern Russia with more than 1 million people.
The attack subverts its image as bastion of Russian strength earned through victory in a decisive battle in World War Two, when the city was known as Stalingrad.
“A symbol of Russia’s tragedy and triumph in World War Two has been singled out by the terrorists precisely because of its status in people’s minds,” said Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Moscow Carnegie Centre.
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WEDNESDAY JAN 01, 2014 | DMITRY ZAKS FOR AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Russian firefighters and security personnel inspect the trolleybus destroyed in a bomb attack in Volgograd on December 30, 2013
He then convened an urgent pre-dawn meeting of local officials and national security chiefs aimed at finding the root cause of Islamist-linked violence that has shadowed his dominant 14-year rule.
“The abomination of the crime that was committed here in Volgograd needs no extra commentary,” Putin told officials in a televised meeting on the banks of the Volga River.
“No matter how the criminals may justify their actions, there is no justification for crimes committed against civilians, especially against women and children.”
A powerful blast in the waiting hall of Volgograd’s main railway station killed 18 people on Sunday while a second strike that hit a packed trolleybus during morning rush hour on Monday claimed 16 lives.
The attacks were Russia’s deadliest since a suicide raid on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport that was claimed by North Caucasus militants killed 37 people in January 2011.
The latest violence has laid bare the unchecked threat posed by insurgents who have vowed to target civilians in a bid to undermine Putin’s preparations ahead of the Games’ opening ceremony on February 7.
Putin in his first comments on the attacks on Tuesday promised to “toughly and consistently continue to fight against terrorists until their total destruction”.
Investigators have opened a criminal probe into a suspected act of terror as well as the illegal carrying of weapons.
The chief spokesman for the Investigative Committee — Russia’s equivalent to the US FBI — said the signature of the two bombings suggest they were plotted by the same group.
The identical makeup of the explosives “confirms the theory that the two attacks are linked. It is possible that they were prepared in the same place,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
Putin calls security meeting
Putin has issued a string of directives ordering security be stepped up at public transit points across the nation and extra police deployed on the streets of Volgograd.
But the same city — resting just 690 kilometres (425 miles) northeast of Sochi — was also hit by a suicide blast on a bus in October that killed six people and first alerted the authorities about the possible return of terror strikes linked to the North Caucasus that hounded Russia in the last decade.
North Caucasus guerrilla chief Doku Umarov vowed in July that his fighters would use “any means possible” to keep Putin from staging the Sochi Games.
The feared fighter — pronounced dead by Russia on repeated occasions — is seeking to carve out an Islamist republic across the North Caucasus and has claimed the region around Sochi as part of his self-proclaimed ancestral land.
The twin bombings have sparked some media speculation that Putin may take the axe against top security officials both in Volgograd and Moscow for failing to prevent more carnage less than six weeks before the Games’ February 7 start.
Putin on Wednesday praised the mass security sweep that Volgograd police and interior ministry soldiers launched in the wake of the bombings.
But he also said sternly in nationally-televised comments that he would like to have a separate talk later on Wednesday with the head of Russia’s powerful Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.
Putin said he wanted to be briefed personally by the two security chiefs “about the measures they were taking to improve security across the entire territory of the Russian Federation”.
WEDNESDAY JAN 01, 2014 | AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Pope Francis leads a mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on January 1st, 2014
The first pope from Latin America said violence and injustice “cannot leave us indifferent or immobile” and said 2014 should bring “a real commitment to build a society with more justice and more solidarity”.
“We have to stop on this road of violence! What is happening in the heart of man? In the heart of humanity? We have to stop!” the pope said.
Francis said he hoped that greater “fraternity” and a “cry for peace” from war-torn parts of the world would encourage more dialogue and “tear down walls that prevent enemies from seeing each other as brothers”.
At a New Year mass in St Peter’s Basilica earlier on Wednesday, Francis prayed in his homily for people “who hunger and thirst for justice and peace” in the world.
He also called on the faithful to show “strength, courage and hope” in the year to come, speaking in his homily in front of thousands of people in the church.
Francis was elected in March 2013 following his predecessor Benedict XVI’s momentous resignation — a first for the Catholic Church since the Middle Ages.
His down-to-earth style and commitment to reforming the Vatican have raised hopes in the Roman Catholic Church following a years of turmoil due to shocking child sex abuse scandals and growing secularisation in the West.
The 77-year-old Francis has called for the Church to reach out more to the vulnerable and has said it should be a “poor Church for the poor” that is less “Vatican-centric” and gives more power to local bishops.
WEDNESDAY JAN 01, 2014 | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. officials are seeking to block a move by an Afghan panel to free 88 detainees from a prison north of Kabul the Americans say would pose a security threat if released.
Spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Col. Dave Lapan, says the Afghan panel “exceeded its mandate” in ordering the release of 650 detainees from Parwan Detention Facility earlier this week.
Already, 562 of the prisoners have been freed while the 88 the United States has issues with remain behind bars.
Lapan said on Wednesday that the 88 “are legitimate threats for whom there is strong evidence supporting prosecution or further investigation.”
The U.S. turned over control of the Parwan, located near the U.S.-run Bagram military base north of Kabul, to Afghan authorities last March.
WEDNESDAY JAN 01, 2014 | JU-MIN PARK FOR REUTERS
A man walks past televisions showing reports on the execution of Jang Song Thaek, in Seoul
Kim, the third generation of his family to rule North Korea, did not refer by name to his uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was executed last month in a rare public purge for crimes against the ruling Workers’ Party and harming national interest.
“Our party took a firm measure to get rid of factional filth that permeated the party,” Kim said in a broadcast on state television that appeared to be pre-recorded, without showing if he was speaking to an audience.
“Our unity strengthened hundredfold and party and revolutionary lines became more solid by purging the anti-party and anti-revolutionary faction,” Kim said.
After the sudden death of Kim’s father in December 2011, Jang acted as regent to his young nephew as Kim established himself in power. With the purge, Kim may have chosen to remove the only man who may have posed any real threat to him.
Kim’s call for improved ties with the South followed a threat from Pyongyang last month that it could strike Seoul without notice.
“It is time to end abuse and slander that is only good for doing harm … We will try hard to improve North-South ties,” Kim said, adding that “dark clouds of nuclear war constantly hovered over the Korean peninsula”.
“If there ever is once again war on this land, it will bring about an enormous nuclear disaster and the United States will not be spared from it,” he said.
The two Koreas remain technically at war under a truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The United States maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea in joint defense against the North.
Robert Carlin, a contributor to 38 North, a project of John Hopkins University’s U.S.-Korea Institute, noted that so far Pyongyang’s treatment of South Koran President Park Geun-hye had avoided the relentless personal attacks on her predecessor.
“Many times over the past 30 or 40 years, the two sides have started dialogue by agreeing to stop slander of the other,” Carlin said.
“It’s a relatively easy and verifiable first step. By raising it, Kim would appear to be signaling that he’s prepared to start off with something concrete, if modest, in order to open the door.”
State media reported on Tuesday that Kim rode on a ski lift at the Masik ski resort, a widely publicized public project where the North expects up to 5,000 skiers a day when it opens this year.
Kim has been pushing for massive projects throughout the country that go beyond the ski resort, pleasure parks and apartment blocks reported by state media, largely with the financial aid of its sole main ally China.
On Wednesday, he emphasized his eagerness to pursue more construction projects.
“This year, we should open up a new period of prosperity in construction. Construction is an important frontline to set grounds for the strong nation and people’s happiness,” he said.
TUESDAY DEC 31, 2013 | JILL BLEED FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LaTisha Garcia, Jazmin Rodriguez
Tornadoes that devastated Moore, El Reno named top story of 2013 in Oklahoma
Even in a state accustomed to Mother’s Nature fury, 2013 was extraordinary.
In a two-week period in May, violent tornadoes and powerful flash flooding walloped the state, killing schoolchildren, storm chasers and Oklahomans who had huddled in convenience store coolers and underground storm drains to avoid the storms.
The one-two punch of tornadoes that struck Moore and El Reno in May — and the outpouring of support nationally and internationally — was overwhelmingly picked by Associated Press members as the story of 2013.
The full list, prepared by Oklahoma reporters who covered the state’s top stories in 2013, follows:
One of the most powerful tornadoes to hit Oklahoma formed just southwest of Moore on May 20 and roared into the Oklahoma City suburb, killing 24 and leaving at least $2 billion in damages.
Seven pupils died when the EF-5 twister hit the Plaza Towers Elementary School. The storm hit another school, but no deaths were recorded there.
In the aftermath, a state legislator proposed a half-billion-dollar bond program to help schools build storm shelters or safe rooms. Backers fell short of the number of signatures necessary to place the issue on the state ballot but are continuing their attempts.
Less than two weeks later after the storm at Moore, a twister with the second-highest winds ever recorded near ground level hit south of El Reno, part of a thunderstorm complex that produced flash flooding and high winds that killed two dozen people in the Oklahoma City area. Three scientists who studied tornadoes were among those killed.
The El Reno storm formed on the prairie well west of Oklahoma City, giving residents advance notice of bad weather. When told to seek shelter, many ventured out and snarled roads already congested with rush hour traffic.
“They had no place to go, and that’s always a bad thing. They were essentially targets just waiting for a tornado to touch down,” state trooper Betsy Randolph said. “I’m not sure why people do that sort of stuff, but it is very dangerous.”
—Staff of the Norman Transcript and The Associated Press
2. AUSTRALIAN PLAYER-RANDOM SLAYING
A 22-year-old Australian who came to Oklahoma to play college baseball was gunned down while jogging in Duncan, creating an uproar on two continents.
Christopher Lane, 22, was shot in the back Aug. 16 while running down a tree-lined street in the southern Oklahoma town. Lane, a Melbourne native, was a catcher at East Central University in Ada and preparing to enter his senior year. Lane was visiting his girlfriend’s parents’ in Duncan when he was shot and killed.
Three teenagers were arrested. Two of them — Chancey Luna and James Edwards Jr., both 16 — were charged as adults with first-degree murder. A third teenager, Michael Jones, 18, was initially charged as a youthful offender with being an accessory and using a vehicle in discharge of a weapon, but those charges were later dismissed and prosecutors filed a new first-degree murder charge against the 18-year-old.
Prosecutors allege the shooting was a random act by teenagers who said they were “bored.”
—Kristi Eaton, Associated Press
3. STATEHOUSE CORRUPTION
Two former state legislators were convicted in 2013 for their roles in a felony bribery scheme.
Former Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, was convicted by a jury of offering a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy and sentenced to a year in prison. He was accused of setting up former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, in an $80,000-a-year job at the state Medical Examiner’s Office in exchange for her not seeking re-election in 2010 so a Republican colleague of Terrill’s could seek her open seat.
The witness list for Terrill’s trial read like a who’s who of Oklahoma politics and included testimony from former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry and several other elected officials.
Following Terrill’s conviction in October, Leftwich waived her right to a jury trial and was found guilty by a judge of accepting a thing of value to withdraw. She received a one-year suspended sentence and is appealing her conviction.
Terrill also remained free on bond while he pursues an appeal.
—Sean Murphy, AP
4. INDIAN CHILD WELFARE DISPUTE
An adoption case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately was resolved in Oklahoma during 2013.
Dusten Brown, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was charged in South Carolina with “custodial interference” after attempting to void the 2009 adoption of Baby Veronica by a Charleston couple — an adoption that had been set up by Veronica’s mother.
After the nation’s highest court said Brown couldn’t press claims under the Indian Child Welfare Act, Matt and Melanie Capobianco traveled to Oklahoma hoping to pick up the child, who had lived with Brown’s family since age 2.
Gov. Mary Fallin requested the Capobiancos and the Browns pursue mediation, but in early September she signed papers to send Brown to South Carolina to face charges, believing he wasn’t negotiating in good faith.
Brown surrendered, but the child remained at the Jack Brown House at the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex.
On Sept. 23, at dusk, Veronica was transferred to her adoptive parents after the state Supreme Court removed a stay that had directed the girl remain with her father. In October, Brown announced he would no longer pursue further appeals but wanted to remain a part of her life.
“One day, you’ll read about all of this,” Brown said, addressing his daughter. “I hope you never, ever, forget that I love you. My home is always your home.”
—Teddye Snell, Tahlequah Daily Press
5. HOBBY LOBBY-BIRTH CONTROL
A legal battle waged by Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., against the federal health care law’s mandate that employee health insurance coverage include access to the morning-after pill and similar contraceptives reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
The nation’s highest court announced in November that it will hear a dispute over whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover emergency contraception that they consider abortifacients.
A federal judge in July granted an injunction preventing enforcement of that part of the law on Hobby Lobby after it alleged in a lawsuit that the Christian family that owns the arts-and-crafts chain would be forced “to violate their deeply held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines, penalties and lawsuits.” The Green family, Hobby Lobby’s owners, also owns the Mardel Christian bookstore chain.
—Tim Talley, AP
6. TORT REFORM
Oklahoma lawmakers continued their push for changes in the state’s tort system — including meeting in a special session to address concerns raised by the state Supreme Court.
The changes enacted by Oklahoma lawmakers as way to reduce medical costs and keep physicians in the state may not do that much to actually reduce costs, a study of a similar law shows. A study of Texas’ tort reforms of 2003, published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies last year, said there was no evidence that changes bent the cost curve downward. The study also noted, though, that there was evidence of higher post-reform spending by Texas physicians who practice in high-risk areas.
The study comes as many business and industry groups call for more changes in the tort system. A memo from a senior vice president at the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, sent to chamber officials in November, lists about a dozen recommendations that would fundamentally change the judicial and tort systems. Those changes include term limits for members of the state judiciary, a requirement that justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the appellate courts be elected instead of appointed, and a plan to increase the required percentage of yes votes in judicial retention elections to 60 percent.
The proposals were expected to become part of the Chamber’s legislative agenda for 2014.
—M. Scott Carter, The Journal Record
7. INCOME TAX CUT
After two years of political wrangling over a cut in the state’s income tax, Gov. Mary Fallin seemed to have finally accomplished a major political victory in 2013 — a broad agreement with Republican legislative leaders to cut the income tax and provide $120 million for repairs to the crumbling state Capitol.
The bill would reduce the top personal income tax rate that most Oklahomans pay from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, beginning in 2015, with a second cut to 4.85 percent set for 2016 if state revenues continue to rise. It also diverted $120 million — $60 million over two consecutive fiscal years — to pay for improvements to the nearly 100-year-old Capitol building.
But in December Fallin’s signature achievement was thrown out by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that the bill violated a constitutional ban on including multiple subjects in a single bill.
—Sean Murphy, AP
8. FOSS LAKE BODIES
A practice run for new sonar technology at the Foss Lake marina garnered worldwide attention after authorities found six bodies in two submerged cars on Sept. 17.
Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said the descriptions of the vehicles and their occupants “strongly leaned” in the direction of two local cold cases – one from 1969 and one from 1970. While positive identification rests on DNA testing from the medical examiner’s office, the remains found in one of the vehicles, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, are believed to belong to Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, Thomas Michael Rios, 18 and Leah Gail Johnson, 18. The three Sayre teens disappeared on Nov. 20, 1970 and were last seen in Williams’ Camaro.
The other vehicle, a 1952 Chevy sedan, matches the description of a missing persons case from 1969. John Alva Porter, Nora Marie Duncan and Cleburn Hammock were last seen heading to Foss Lake on April 8, 1969 and not heard from again.
—Larissa Graham, Elk City Daily News
9. TULSA DENTIST
At the end of March, health officials announced that unsanitary conditions at a Tulsa oral surgeon’s office may have exposed at least 7,000 of his patients to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Dr. W. Scott Harrington, a Tulsa native who had been practicing in the area for more than 30 years, voluntarily halted his practice and now faces a hearing before the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry in 2014.
Health officials said Harrington’s office used rusted, unclean equipment and poor infection-control procedures. More than 4,200 patients were tested at local health departments. Of those, 90 tested positive for hepatitis C, six for hepatitis B and four for HIV.
One case of hepatitis C was linked to Harrington’s practice. It is the first known case of patient-to-patient transmission of the disease in a dental setting in the United States. Hepatitis B and HIV cases could not be linked to Harrington’s practice.
—Shannon Muchmore, Tulsa World
Oklahoma is known more for its tornadoes than its earthquakes but a swarm of temblors continued in 2013 in the Sooner state, rattling nerves, and in some cases, doing minor damage.
The biggest of the year was a 4.5-magnitude quake that shook the Oklahoma City area on the afternoon of Dec. 7. It was one of the largest in the state’s history.
Since 2009, more than 200 magnitude-3.0 or greater earthquakes have hit the state’s midsection, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Scientists are not sure why seismic activity has spiked, but multiple studies are underway.
The large quake was centered about four miles northwest of Jones, just east of Arcadia Lake. It was felt in Edmond, Guthrie, Norman and Oklahoma City.
Dan Barth, chief information officer for OPUBCO Communications Group, was watching the Bedlam football game on television at his home near Jones when the earthquake rumbled.
Barth said picture frames and Christmas decorations fell off the walls, bathroom cabinets came open, and cups fell out of kitchen cabinets.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had damage, so it was kind of shocking. It was a mess,” he said. “We were watching the Bedlam game, and we saw our Pistol Pete fall off the wall. I thought, ‘That’s not a good sign.'”
The strongest earthquake on record in Oklahoma was a magnitude-5.6 earthquake on Nov. 5, 2011, which injured two people, destroyed 14 homes and damaged other buildings in the Shawnee-Sparks area.
Incase you missed this EXECUTIVE ORDER
– – – – – – –
IMPROVING CHEMICAL FACILITY SAFETY AND SECURITY
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. Chemicals, and the facilities where they are manufactured, stored, distributed, and used, are essential to today’s economy. Past and recent tragedies have reminded us, however, that the handling and storage of chemicals are not without risk. The Federal Government has develop
ed and implemented numerous programs aimed at reducing the safety risks and security risks associated with hazardous chemicals. However, additional measures can be taken by executive departments and agencies (agencies) with regulatory authority to further improve chemical facility safety and security in coordination with owners and operators.
Sec. 2. Establishment of the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group. (a) There is established a Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group (Working Group) co-chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Secretary of Labor or their designated representatives at the Assistant Secretary level or higher. In addition, the Working Group shall consist of the head of each of the following agencies or their designated representatives at the Assistant Secretary level or higher:
(i) the Department of Justice;
(ii) the Department of Agriculture; and
(iii) the Department of Transportation.
(b) In carrying out its responsibilities under this order, the Working Group shall consult with representatives from:
(i) the Council on Environmental Quality;
(ii) the National Security Staff;
(iii) the Domestic Policy Council;
(iv) the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
(v) the Office of Management and Budget (OMB);
(vi) the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs; and
(vii) such other agencies and offices as the President may designate.
(c) The Working Group shall meet no less than quarterly to discuss the status of efforts to implement this order. The Working Group is encouraged to invite other affected agencies, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to attend these meetings as appropriate. Additionally, the Working Group shall provide, within 270 days of the date of this order, a status report to the President through the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
Sec. 3. Improving Operational Coordination with State, Local, and Tribal Partners. (a) Within 135 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall develop a plan to support and further enable efforts by State regulators, State, local, and tribal emergency responders, chemical facility owners and operators, and local and tribal communities to work together to improve chemical facility safety and security. In developing this plan, the Working Group shall:
(i) identify ways to improve coordination among the Federal Government, first responders, and State, local, and tribal entities;
(ii) take into account the capabilities, limitations, and needs of the first responder community;
(iii) identify ways to ensure that State homeland security advisors, State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs), Tribal Emergency Response Commissions (TERCs), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), Tribal Emergency Planning Committees (TEPCs), State regulators, and first responders have ready access to key information in a useable format, including by thoroughly reviewing categories of chemicals for which information is provided to first responders and the manner in which it is made available, so as to prevent, prepare for, and respond to chemical incidents;
(iv) identify areas, in collaboration with State, local, and tribal governments and private sector partners, where joint collaborative programs can be developed or enhanced, including by better integrating existing authorities, jurisdictional responsibilities, and regulatory programs in order to achieve a more comprehensive engagement on chemical risk management;
(v) identify opportunities and mechanisms to improve response procedures and to enhance information sharing and collaborative planning between chemical facility owners and operators, TEPCs, LEPCs, and first responders;
(vi) working with the National Response Team (NRT) and Regional Response Teams (RRTs), identify means for Federal technical assistance to support developing, implementing, exercising, and revising State, local, and tribal emergency contingency plans, including improved training; and
(vii) examine opportunities to improve public access to information about chemical facility risks consistent with national security needs and appropriate protection of confidential business information.
(b) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Attorney General, through the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), shall assess the feasibility of sharing data related to the storage of explosive materials with SERCs, TEPCs, and LEPCs.
(c) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall assess the feasibility of sharing Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) data with SERCs, TEPCs, and LEPCs on a categorical basis.
Sec. 4. Enhanced Federal Coordination. In order to enhance Federal coordination regarding chemical facility safety and security:
(a) Within 45 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall deploy a pilot program, involving the EPA, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and any other appropriate agency, to validate best practices and to test innovative methods for Federal interagency collaboration regarding chemical facility safety and security. The pilot program shall operate in at least one region and shall integrate regional Federal, State, local, and tribal assets, where appropriate. The pilot program shall include innovative and effective methods of collecting, storing, and using facility information, stakeholder outreach, inspection planning, and, as appropriate, joint inspection efforts. The Working Group shall take into account the results of the pilot program in developing integrated standard operating procedures pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.
(b) Within 270 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall create comprehensive and integrated standard operating procedures for a unified Federal approach for identifying and responding to risks in chemical facilities (including during pre-inspection, inspection execution, post-inspection, and post-accident investigation activities), incident reporting and response procedures, enforcement, and collection, storage, and use of facility information. This effort shall reflect best practices and shall include agency-to-agency referrals and joint inspection procedures where possible and appropriate, as well as consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on post-accident response activities.
(c) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall consult with the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and determine what, if any, changes are required to existing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and processes between EPA and CSB, ATF and CSB, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and CSB for timely and full disclosure of information. To the extent appropriate, the Working Group may develop a single model MOU with CSB in lieu of existing agreements.
Sec. 5. Enhanced Information Collection and Sharing. In order to enhance information collection by and sharing across agencies to support more informed decisionmaking, streamline reporting requirements, and reduce duplicative efforts:
(a) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall develop an analysis, including recommendations, on the potential to improve information collection by and sharing between agencies to help identify chemical facilities which may not have provided all required information or may be non-compliant with Federal requirements to ensure chemical facility safety. This analysis should consider ongoing data-sharing efforts, other federally collected information, and chemical facility reporting among agencies (including information shared with State, local, and tribal governments).
(b) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall produce a proposal for a coordinated, flexible data-sharing process which can be utilized to track data submitted to agencies for federally regulated chemical facilities, including locations, chemicals, regulated entities, previous infractions, and other relevant information. The proposal shall allow for the sharing of information with and by State, local, and tribal entities where possible, consistent with section 3 of this order, and shall address computer-based and non-computer-based means for improving the process in the short-term, if they exist.
(c) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Working Group shall identify and recommend possible changes to streamline and otherwise improve data collection to meet the needs of the public and Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies (including those charged with protecting workers and the public), consistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act and other relevant authorities, including opportunities to lessen the reporting burden on regulated industries. To the extent feasible, efforts shall minimize the duplicative collection of information while ensuring that pertinent information is shared with all key entities.
Sec. 6. Policy, Regulation, and Standards Modernization. (a) In order to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities by modernizing key policies, regulations, and standards, the Working Group shall:
(i) within 90 days of the date of this order, develop options for improved chemical facility safety and security that identifies improvements to existing risk management practices through agency programs, private sector initiatives, Government guidance, outreach, standards, and regulations;
(ii) within 90 days of developing the options described in subsection (a)(i) of this section, engage key stakeholders to discuss the options and other means to improve chemical risk management that may be available; and
(iii) within 90 days of completing the outreach and consultation effort described in subsection (a)(ii) of this section, develop a plan for implementing practical and effective improvements to chemical risk management identified pursuant to subsections (a)(i) and (ii) of this section.
(b) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Agriculture shall develop a list of potential regulatory and legislative proposals to improve the safe and secure storage, handling, and sale of ammonium nitrate and identify ways in which ammonium nitrate safety and security can be enhanced under existing authorities.
(c) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Administrator of EPA and the Secretary of Labor shall review the chemical hazards covered by the Risk Management Program (RMP) and the Process Safety Management Standard (PSM) and determine if the RMP or PSM can and should be expanded to address additional regulated substances and types of hazards. In addition, the EPA and the Department of Labor shall develop a plan, including a timeline and resource requirements, to expand, implement, and enforce the RMP and PSM in a manner that addresses the additional regulated substances and types of hazards.
(d) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall identify a list of chemicals, including poisons and reactive substances, that should be considered for addition to the CFATS Chemicals of Interest list.
(e) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Labor shall:
(i) identify any changes that need to be made in the retail and commercial grade exemptions in the PSM Standard; and
(ii) issue a Request for Information designed to identify issues related to modernization of the PSM Standard and related standards necessary to meet the goal of preventing major chemical accidents.
Sec. 7. Identification of Best Practices. The Working Group shall convene stakeholders, including chemical producers, chemical storage companies, agricultural supply companies, State and local regulators, chemical critical infrastructure owners and operators, first responders, labor organizations representing affected workers, environmental and community groups, and consensus standards organizations, in order to identify and share successes to date and best practices to reduce safety risks and security risks in the production and storage of potentially harmful chemicals, including through the use of safer alternatives, adoption of best practices, and potential public-private partnerships.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law, including international trade obligations, and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to a department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
August 1, 2013.
Expect high tides around Jan. 1 and 30, 2014
According to the definition of supermoon coined by Richard Nolle over 30 years ago, and popularized only in the past few years, the year 2014 has a total of five supermoons. They are the two new moons of January, and the full moons of July, August and September. January 1, 2014 is the first supermoon of the year, and January 30 is the second. Expect large tides around both dates. We won’t have a single calendar month with two supermoons again until January 2018. Follow the links below to learn more about the supermoons of 2014, about what makes a moon a supermoon, and more.
About three or four times a year, the new or full moon coincides closely in time with the perigee of the moon—the point when the moon is closest to the Earth. These occurrences are often called ‘perigean spring tides.’ The difference between ‘perigean spring tide’ and normal tidal ranges for all areas of the coast is small. In most cases, the difference is only a couple of inches above normal spring tides. Image and caption via NOAA.
Photographs or other instruments can tell the difference between a supermoon and ordinary full moon. The supermoon of March 19, 2011 (right), compared to an average moon of December 20, 2010 (left). Image by Marco Langbroek of the Netherlands via Wikimedia Commons.
What is a supermoon? We confess: before a few years ago, we in astronomy had never heard that term. To the best of our knowledge, the term supermoonwas coined by the astrologerRichard Nolle over 30 years ago. The term is only now coming into popular usage. Nolle has defined a supermoon as:
… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.
That’s a pretty generous definition and allows for many supermoons. The first supermoon, for 2014, comes on New Year’s Day, with the January 1 new moon. By this definition, according to Nolle:
There are 4-6 supermoons a year on average.
How many supermoons in 2014? By Nolle’s definition, the new moon or full moon has to come within 361,863 kilometers (224,851 miles) of our planet, as measured from the centers of the moon and Earth, in order to be considered a supermoon.
Therefore, the year 2014 gives us a total of five supermoons: two January new moons, and the full moons of July, August and September.
The full moon on August 10, 2014, will be the closest supermoon of the year (356,896 kilometers or 221,765 miles).
However, the new moons on January 1 and January 30 will not be far behind, featuring the year’s second-closest and third-closest supermoons, respectively. On January 1, the moon turns new less than 10 hours before reaching lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. On January 30, the moon turns new nearly 12 hours after reaching lunar perigee.
Want more detail? Okay. In 2014, the moon comes closest to Earth on August 10 (356,896 kilometers), and swings farthest away some two weeks before, on July 28 (406,567 kilometers). That’s a difference of 49,671 kilometers (406,567 – 356,896 = 49,671). Ninety percent of this 49,671-figure equals 44,703.9 kilometers (0.9 x 49,671 = 44,703.9). Presumably, any new or full moon coming closer than 361,863.1 kilometers (406,567 – 44,703.9 = 361,863.1) would be “at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth.”
Assuming I figured everything correctly, that gives us our 5 supermoons of 2014: two new moon supermoons (January 1 and 30) and three full moon supermoons (July 12, August 10 and September 9).
However, the perigee full moon on August 10 will give us the most “super” supermoon of them all!
Around each new moon (left) and full moon (right) – when the sun, Earth, and moon are located more or less on a line in space – the range between high and low tides is greatest. These are called spring tides. Image via physicalgeography.net
Spring tides accompany January 2014′s supermoons. Will the tides be larger than usual at the January 1 and 30 new moons? Yes, all new moons (and full moons) bring larger-than-usual tides, but perigee new moons (or perigee full moons) elevate the tides even more.
Each month, on the day of the new moon, the Earth, moon and sun are aligned, with the moon in between. This line-up creates wide-ranging tides, known as spring tides. High spring tides climb up especially high, and on the same day low tides plunge especially low.
The January 1 and 30 extra-close new moons will accentuate the spring tide, giving rise to what’s called a perigean spring tide. If you live along an ocean coastline, watch for high tides caused by the two January 2014 new moons – or supermoons.
Will these high tides cause flooding? Probably not, unless a strong weather system accompanies the perigean spring tide. Still, keep an eye on the weather, because storms do have a large potential to accentuate perigean spring tides.
The moon is full, or opposite Earth from the sun, once each month. It’s new, or more or less between the Earth and sun, once each month. And, every month, as the moon orbits Earth, it comes closest to Earth. That point is called perigee. The moon always swings farthest away once each month; that point is called apogee. No doubt about it. Supermoon is a catchier term than perigee new moon or perigee full moon.
We first became familiar with the supermoon label in the year 2011 when the media usedsupermoon to describe the full moon of March 19, 2011. On that date, the full moon aligned with proxigee – the closest perigee of the year – to stage the closest, largest full moon of 2011.
Closest full supermoons in the year’s ahead More often than not, the one day of the year that the full moon and perigee align also brings about the year’s closest perigee (also calledproxigee). Because the moon has recurring cycles, we can count on the full moon and perigee to come in concert in periods of about one year, one month and 18 days.
Therefore, the full moon and perigee realign in periods of about one year and 48 days. So we can figure the dates of the closest full moons in recent and future years as:
March 19, 2011
May 6, 2012
June 23, 2013
August 10, 2014
September 28, 2015
November 14, 2016
January 2, 2018.
There won’t be a perigee full moon in 2017 because the full moon and perigee won’t realign again (after November 14, 2016) until January 2, 2018.
By the way, some astronomers will call all the full moons listed above proxigee full moons.
But, like you, we’ll have fun just calling ‘em supermoons.
What does a supermoon look like? Astronomers say you can’t really detect any difference with your eye between a supermoon and any ordinary full moon. This great moon photo from EarthSky Facebook friend Rebecca Lacey in Cambridge, Idaho.
Bottom line: The term supermoon doesn’t come from astronomy. It’s comes from astrology, and the definition is pretty generous so that there are 4 to 6 supermoons each year. This post explains what a supermoon is, how many will occur in 2014, which moon is the most “super” of all the 2014 supermoons, and gives a list of upcoming full supermoons for the years ahead. The first supermoon of 2014 is on January 1. The second is on January 30. Both can be expected to raise the height of the tides.
China has 3000 miles of tunnels crisscrossing the Country with as many as 3000 war heads or more. The U S maintains around 5000 warheads and Russia more.
South Sudan Peace Talks to Open in Ethiopia
Negotiators from South Sudan’s two warring sides are scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia for peace talks late Wednesday, as the top United Nations official in the country urged both forces to bring the country “back from the brink.”
Fighting continued Wednesday in South Sudan’s city of Bor — a gateway city to the capital, Juba — a government official said. Bor is just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Juba.
Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, is the current center of ethnically-based violence stemming from the political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and ousted Vice President Riek Machar, the rebel leader accused of mounting a failed coup attempt.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence, says the U.N.
Machar said on Tuesday that he would send his forces from Bor on to Juba, but that threat was downplayed by Hilde Johnson, the U.N. representative in South Sudan, who said: “I think we need to take quotations with pinches of salt at this point of time.”
Pro-Machar forces in Bor appear to be taking defensive positions, Johnson said. The Bor fighting has newly displaced about 60,000 people, the country’s latest humanitarian crisis.
“On Jan. 1, the country is at a fork in the road, but it can still be saved from further major escalation of violence,” said Johnson, who urged Kiir and Machar to use the new talks to move toward peace. “They can still pull the country back from the brink.”
The U.N. is “gravely concerned” about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights law, including the extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers, it said on Tuesday. The U.N.’s estimate of 1,000 dead was given days ago and the number of fatalities is believed to be higher as a result of the new fighting around the country, including in Bor.
South Sudan Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin labeled Bor a war zone on Wednesday.
Government troops pulled out of parts of Bor because they were concerned about having to kill the “young boys” who fill the ranks of the rebels, said one analyst.
South Sudan’s military “was told to withdraw,” Edmund Yakani, the executive director of the Juba-based group Community Empowerment for Progress, said, citing the accounts of contacts in Bor. “They communicated that these are young boys and we are killing them like nothing.”
Government troops in Bor face renegade forces allied with a pro-Machar tribal militia known as the “White Army,” so called because its young members of the Nuer tribe smear their faces with ash to keep insects away.
Johnson said that 240 U.N. police are scheduled to arrive in South Sudan later Wednesday who can help police refugee camps. The U.N. says up to 180,000 people have been internally displaced by the violence, including about 68,000 sheltering at U.N. camps.
“Even with the tremendous efforts made by health partners, sanitation conditions are still inadequate largely due to the large number of people sheltering in United Nations bases which have insufficient space to house these numbers,” said Abdi Aden Mohammed, the World Health Organization’s representative in South Sudan.
Although Kiir insists the fighting was sparked by a coup attempt mounted by soldiers loyal to Machar, this account has been disputed by some officials of the ruling party who say violence broke out when presidential guards from Kiir’s majority Dinka tribe tried to disarm guards from the Nuer ethnic group of Machar.
South Sudan has been plagued by ethnic tension and a power struggle within the ruling party that escalated after Kiir dismissed Machar as his vice president in July. Machar has criticized Kiir as a dictator and says he will contest the 2015 presidential election.
South Sudan’s government, the U.N. and other analysts say the dispute is political at its heart, but has since taken on ethnic dimensions. The fighting has displaced up to 180,000 people, according to the U.N.
Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda.
QURAN’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR TREATMENT OF CHRISTIANS…
Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.
Quran (8:15) – “O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.”
Quran (8:39) – “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah”
Quran (9:30) – “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”
Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…
Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be ‘joining companions to Allah’).
Quran (4:74) – “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” The martyrs of Islam are unlike the early Christians, led meekly to the slaughter. These Muslims are killed in battle, as they attempt to inflict death and destruction for the cause of Allah. Here is the theological basis for today’s suicide bombers.
Quran (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” Not only does this verse establish that violence can be virtuous, but it also contradicts the myth that fighting is intended only in self-defense, since the audience was obviously not under attack at the time. From the Hadith, we know that this verse was narrated at a time that Muhammad was actually trying to motivate his people into raiding merchant caravans for loot.
Quran (4:95) – “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-” This passage criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah’s eyes. It also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle. ~csw~ The Truth Will Set You Free
There will be a part 2 of this news cast my word press keeps freezing up on me 😦