12 Dec 13
Oprah Winfrey’s unmerited honor
When Barack Obama awarded media mogul Oprah Winfrey the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 20, many conservatives objected, citing her recent suggestions to a BBC interviewer that opposition to the president’s policies is racially motivated and that many in America treat the president with “disrespect … because he is an African-American.” Winfrey is entitled to her opinion, and even if she is wrong about important matters, that alone would not preclude her from receiving the Medal of Freedom.
New Obama adviser wants to cede U.S. oceans to U.N.
Obama’s new staff adviser, senior progressive strategist John Podesta, is a key player in an initiative seeking more government regulation of the oceans and the ceding of U.S. oceans to United Nations-based international law.
That background could inform Podesta’s agenda in the White House, where he is to serve for one year as a “counselor” to the president. The New York Times reported he will focus on executive orders and so-called climate change issues along with Obamacare.
Pope Francis and His Argument for a ‘Third Way’ of Economics
The recent economic statements by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium“ (EG) read as a call for a “Third Way” economic system ruled by experts and people of good will.
'Global war beyond Persian Gulf' likely if US hawks kill Iran deal
“It would be a war that might start in the Persian Gulf, but very rapidly become a much bigger war and potentially even a global war in which nuclear weapons are used,” he added.
Steinberg made the comments one day after US Secretary of State John Kerry told members of Congress that an interim nuclear deal signed with Iran last month in Geneva “unequivocally” served US interests.
Ad shows Syrian girls being sold in KSA
A controversial advertisement promoting Syrian girls for sale has been published in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, reports say.
Putin: Russia not aspiring to be superpower, or teach others how to live
Russia does not seek the role of a regional or global hegemony, but will defend its core values and interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. All attempts to impose on other nations have failed, he added. The Russian leader gave an assurance that Russia wants to respect the sovereignty and stability of other countries, as he was addressing the Federal Assembly, the collective of the two houses of the Russian parliament.
Kerry due back in Israel in new push for ‘framework’ peace accord
Secretary of State John Kerry, continuing a furious pace of shuttle diplomacy aimed at securing an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the spring, was due in Israel on Thursday in an effort to get the two sides to forge a “framework agreement,” which would outline particulars of a permanent status accord.
Light mag. 4.0 earthquake - Germany on Thursday, 12 December 2013
Date & time: Thu, 12 Dec 00:59:19 UTC
Depth: 10.0 km
Epicenter latitude / longitude: 47.15°N / 9.54°E
Madagascar village 'hit by bubonic plague'
Tests were carried out after at least 20 people in the village, near the north-western town of Mandritsara, were reported to have died last week.
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned in October that Madagascar was at risk of a plague epidemic.
The disease is transmitted to humans via fleas, usually from rats.
In Australia, volcano’s past sounds alarm about next eruption
Australia’s most recently active volcano registered as a size four eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)—a similar size to the Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland eruption in 2010, which caused global chaos. Australia could face the same scale of tragedy if a volcano west of Melbourne was to erupt.
Minor earthquake – France on December 12, 2013
Magnitude : 3.2
Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2013-12-12 03:22:12
GMT/UTC Time : 2013-12-12 02:22:12
Depth (Hypocenter) : 13 km
Modern Ruins of Abandoned Detroit (PHOTOS)
Symbolizing the dramatic decline of Motor City, many buildings and structures in the former manufacturing mecca of Detroit, Mich. lay in crumbling and weather-beaten ruins.
Giant Blob of Hot Rock Hidden Under Antarctic Ice
A big, hot blob hiding beneath the bottom of the world could be evidence of a long-sought mantle plume under West Antarctica, researchers said Monday (Dec. 9) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The possible hotspot — a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth's mantle — sits under Marie Byrd Land, a broad dome at West Antarctica's edge where many active volcanoes above and below the ice spit lava and ash.
Obama creates international incident with 'selfie' at Mandela service
Call it the selfie seen 'round the world.
Among the enduring images from Nelson Mandela's massive memorial service in Johannesburg Tuesday will be one of a jovial President Obama taking a cell phone pic with his seat-mates, Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain's David Cameron.
US and UK suspend non-lethal aid for Syria rebels
The US and UK have suspended all "non-lethal" support for rebels in northern Syria, but not humanitarian aid.
A US spokesman said it was concerned about reports that Islamist rebels had seized bases belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).
CU-Boulder scientist: 2012 solar storm points up need for society to prepare
A massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of severe space weather, says a University of Colorado Boulder professor. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, event was likely more powerful than the famous Carrington storm of 1859, when the sun blasted Earth’s atmosphere hard enough twice to light up the sky from the North Pole to Central America and allowed New Englanders to read their newspapers at night by aurora light
Australia high court overturns ACT gay marriage law
Australia's High Court has overturned legislation allowing gay marriage in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
The ACT parliament passed a bill in October making the territory the first part of Australia to legalise same-sex weddings.
But the national government challenged the decision, saying it was inconsistent with federal laws.
Kerry meeting with Netanyahu, Peres postponed due to snow
US Secretary of State John Kerry's scheduled meeting with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday has been postponed due to the snowstorm which hit the capital, American sources told The Jerusalem Post.
Kerry, who is due to arrive on Thursday, is still expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Stockman: Budget deal a 'joke and betrayal'
House Republicans "capitulated" in agreeing to the two-year budget deal reached last night and left the country to deal with an unsustainable fiscal situation until the peak of the presidential primaries in 2015, when nothing will get done, former federal budget director David Stockman told CNBC on Wednesday.
Putin admits Russia's economic woes home-grown
President Vladimir Putin conceded for the first time on Thursday that Russia's economic problems were home-grown and vowed not to abandon the spending promises he made on returning to the Kremlin last year.
Texas Pastor Receives Praise for Helping Over 200 Stranded Motorists During Ice Storm
A Texas pastor mobilized his congregation to come to the rescue of the dozens of truck drivers and motorists stranded by an ice storm last Friday.
The Rev. Gary Sweatman of the five-year-old Freedom Life Church in Sanger, was at home when he saw the news of the ice storm.
Kiev: Jews fear opposition’s anger might turn against them
Speaking with the Post, Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, says that while he does not know of any attacks against Jews, there is a general feeling of anxiety on the part of the community.
As sanctions ease, Iran sees oil exports jump
Iranian oil exports rose 10 percent in November after sanctions against the Islamic Republic were eased as part of an interim deal with world powers, the International Energy Agency reported Wednesday.
N. Korea sells gold in sign of imminent economic collapse: source
North Korea has begun to sell large amounts of gold to China in a bid to tide over its economic crisis, multiple sources familiar with North Korea affairs said Wednesday.
The disposal could be an indication of an imminent economic collapse as it goes against founding leader Kim Il-sung's order to never sell the country's gold, according to the sources.
North Korea's 'reign of terror' worries South's leader
North Korea is engaged in a purge amounting to a "reign of terror" that has claimed the scalp of the country's second most powerful man and risks further damaging relations with the South, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.
11 Dec 13
The Middle East Now Has Three Alliances: None Are With the U.S.
1. The Shiite bloc consisting of Iran, Hezbollah, Iraq and the Syrian regime.
2. The pro-Muslim Brotherhood Sunni bloc, consisting of Turkey, Qatar, Tunisia, Hamas and some Syrian rebels.
3. The anti-Iran/anti-Brotherhood Sunni bloc consisting of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, other Syrian rebels and other Arab countries. The first two blocs are on opposite sides in the Syrian civil war, but are hoping to negotiate a ceasefire that allows them to mend ties. The third bloc feels so threatened by the other two that Saudi Arabia is widely rumored to be offering Israel access to its airspace to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Obama creates international incident with 'selfie' at Mandela service
Call it the selfie seen 'round the world. "What on earth is going on? Why do world leaders now behave like this?" The Daily Telegraph's Iain Martin wrote.
Editor fired for anti-Obama headline says bosses responded to pressure
A Tennessee newspaper editor who was fired for a headline critical of President Obama says his bosses bowed to pressure from the president's supporters, claiming he wouldn't have been canned if he had said the same of former President George W. Bush.
Runaway process drives intermediate-depth earthquakes, Stanford scientists find
There are two main hypotheses for what may be driving intermediate depth earthquakes. According to one idea, water is squeezed out of rock pores at extreme depths and the liquid acts like a lubricant to facilitate fault sliding. This fits with the finding that intermediate quakes generally occur at sites where one tectonic plate is sliding, or subducting, beneath another.
In ‘framework,’ some see US shift to interim Israeli-Palestinian deal
Amid simmering tensions over Iran policy, the Obama and Netanyahu governments appear to have quietly forged common ground in recent weeks on Israeli-Palestinian talks, with the United States accepting that a possible “framework” agreement might not address every outstanding issue in the negotiations. Such an agreement, the United States and Israel seem to agree, would maintain a role for Israel in providing for its security, presumably by maintaining some form of military presence in the West Bank.