Saturday, April 30, 2016

Rumors of War - King of the North - Kings of the East

Russian aircraft barrel rolls U.S. Air Force plane, second time in a month - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A Russian fighter jet performed what the United States considers an unsafe arial [aerial?...Ed.] maneuver over a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane while flying over the Baltic Sea, the second such maneuver in a month. CNN reported a Russian SU-27 flew within 25 feet of the U.S. Air Force RC-135 and performed a barrel roll, by flying over the U.S. plane from one side to the other in an inverted position."

China denies U.S. Navy carrier port visit to Hong Kong - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China denied a U.S. aircraft carrier entry into a Hong Kong port, Pentagon officials said Friday. A spokesman for the Hong Kong Security Bureau would not comment on the decision to deny entry to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and its escort ships access to the port. [...] The denial came as tension rise between the United States and China after Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter visited the Stennis while it was stationed in the South China Sea. The United States is attempting to challenge Beijing's claim to more than 80 percent of the maritime area."

Comment: Probably one of the most important changes in the last few years has been the pivot. No, not the U.S. pivot to Asia but the Russian pivot to China. The profound impact of Western sanctions on the Russian economy have driven Russia to seek a new economic partner in China. This is entirely understandable and represents a lost opportunity to fulfill the dream of a new Europe that included Russia. As that door closed, Russia acted to open new doors with new partners like China. Trade deals have been HUGE, weapons deals have been HUGE, and more importantly, the strategic understanding between the two has been HUGE.  The two share a determined resolve to end the unipolar post-Cold War era in world affairs and replace American leadership with a new international order that is more responsive to their interests.  The two countries have an informal agreement to join in challenging American global presence in both small ways and large. These two incidents today represent only the most recent examples of this shared effort. The U.S. response under Obama has been uneven, at times accommodating and at other times, resolute in pushing back against challenges. Although commentators and talking-heads are reluctant to admit it, Obama has been far more pragmatic than most observers expected. He has avoided conflict with Russia and China while seeking to preserve and maintain the current international order. It is growing increasingly evident that the effort to maintain the Pax Americana will eventually lead to conflict with one or both of these countries. It will take shrewd diplomacy and clear strategic vision backed by overwhelming military power to maintain the current international order. We can only hope - and pray - that the next American president will have the skill and wisdom to safely navigate the ship of state through this gathering storm.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Pestilence

Puerto Rico Zika cases now include 65 pregnant women, one death: CDC | Reuters
Reuters reports: "Health officials on Friday confirmed the first U.S. death of a patient infected with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. The man, who was in his 70s, died from severe thrombocytopenia, a bleeding disorder caused by abnormally low blood platelets, which are needed for blood clotting."

Comment: The first U.S. death from the Zika virus seems like it should be big news but I fear it was lost amid the other news of the day. 

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War

Islamic State-linked hackers target thousands of New Yorkers - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Some 3,000 New York City-area residents, most of them private citizens with no government ties, were targeted in an Islamic State 'hit list,' law enforcement said. The list, intended as a threat, contains as many as 3,600 names. It includes some employees with the State Department and Homeland Security, but mostly contains personal information from private citizens. It was posted on site accessible to only IS supporters and is being considered a scare campaign from the IS-related group Caliphate Cyber United. Law enforcement authorities said there is no specific threat to any one person or group."

Comment: No specific threat? When bureaucracy and PR meet, the results are always the same: inanity ensues.

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Wickedness Increases

Woman who cut baby from mother's womb gets 100-years - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A Colorado woman who lured an expectant mother to a home and cut the unborn baby from her womb was sentenced Friday to serve 100 years in prison. [....] In March 2015, Lane, 35, lured Michelle Wilkins to a home in Longmont, about 35 miles north of Denver, by posting an online ad for baby clothes. When Wilkins arrived, Lane attacked her and cut the baby from her womb. The baby died and Lane was captured by police when she showed up at a hospital claiming she had just miscarried."

Comment: I remember that case when it first made the news, it was so shocking and unbelievable. I wish this article was more complete, it doesn't even mention motive. Maybe there was no motive beyond pure evil? 

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rumors of War - Nations in Distress

Kim Jong Un unpopular among top North Korea top officials - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A senior North Korean official who resigned because he was 'overcome with stress' was forced to return to his position under Kim Jong Un's orders. That and other signs indicate Kim Jong Un doesn't have adequate levels of support from top cadres of the Korean Workers' Party, said Ko Young-hwan, a former North Korean diplomat and defector. [...] North Korea has purged more than a hundred officials under Kim. In other parts of the country, ordinary North Koreans have 'given up hope' in the future of the Kim regime, and lead a hand-to-mouth existence on a daily basis, Ko said."

China's Xi Jinping warns against Korea instability - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Chinese President Xi Jinping told a ministerial gathering in Beijing his government would not tolerate any instability on the Korean peninsula. Speaking at the fifth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA, Xi said China is fully committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to its peace and stability  [...] Twenty-six member countries, including Russia and South Korea, were in attendance. North Korea did not send a representative – but it was unclear whether Pyongyang had received an invitation in the wake of worsening relations with Beijing."

North Korea tightens security ahead of congress: South Korea | Reuters
Reuters reports: "North Korea has tightened security ahead of a ruling party congress, South Korea said on Friday, with authorities keen to avoid any 'mishap' at the gathering at which advances in the drive for nuclear weapons will likely be hailed. Thousands of delegates are expected in the capital, Pyongyang, from May 6 for the first congress in 36 years at which young leader Kim Jong Un is expected to cement his leadership and formally declare the country a nuclear-armed state. "

Comment: Although missile launches and bomb tests make a war initiated by North Korea a real concern, the primary threat is the implosion of the North Korean state. A bloodless coup is a possibility, if staged by a respected member of the party/military, but given how indoctrinated the military in that country is and how pervasive the cult of personality around Kim Jong Un is, it's likely that a coup would meet with strong resistance. A civil war between generals competing to be the next dictator is the more likely scenario. The upcoming party conference provides an ideal nexus for intrigue and machinations. If young Un can hold on to power over the next few weeks he may yet be able to stabilize his country...if he wants to.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pestilence

'Platform' could spur development of new vaccines, scientists say - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Researchers in Denmark have created a 'platform' for vaccines that mimics the structure of a virus, which they say could speed up the process and make it easier to create effective vaccines. The virus-like structure, to which harmless parts of viruses can be attached, aids in provoking an immune response [...] The researchers also report their virus-like structure can motivate the immune system to attack its own cells, potentially allowing for the treatment of cancer and other diseases that are not caused by pathogens."

 Comment: It's nice to have some good news to share once in a while!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Famine

Famine Threatens Parts of Sub-Saharan Africa - VOA
Voice of America reports: "Many parts of Asia, Africa and the Americas are scorching in heat caused by a cyclical phenomenon known as El Nino. The unusually warm waters that come up to the surface in the Pacific Ocean every three to six years cause extreme weather conditions. The resulting drought is especially hard on the poorest people of sub-Saharan Africa. [...] Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country, is in the grip of its worst drought in decades. The government is appealing for aid to help 10 million affected people. The food shortage is also grave in Malawi, which has not yet recovered from last year's record flooding."

Comment: This short article does not address it, but the international aid community has now come around to the realization that international aid alone will never provide a long-term solution to the endemic famine that Africa experiences. Local efforts to combat corruption, promote good governance, micro-financing and development should go hand-in-hand with international relief efforts. Only the combination of the local and the international have any hope of breaking the cycle. 

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Rumors of War - War

Obama sends more Special Forces to Syria in fight against IS | Reuters
Reuters reports: "President Barack Obama announced on Monday the biggest expansion of U.S. ground troops in Syria since its civil war began, but the move was unlikely to mollify Arab allies angry over Washington's cautious approach to the conflict. The deployment of up to 250 Special Forces soldiers increases U.S. forces in Syria roughly sixfold and is aimed at helping militia fighters who have clawed back territory from Islamic State militants in a string of victories. Defense experts said giving more fighters on the ground access to U.S. close air support could shift the momentum in Syria."

Comment: So, no boots on the ground. I wonder what kind of footwear they will have then? Seriously though, I heard Obama explaining this to the media and trying to make it sound acceptable to them and to our "allies" by going out of his way to assure them that American special forces won't take the lead. That turn of phrase explains everything wrong with his approach. He is asking the most expertly trained elite forces we have to go there and NOT lead. That's simply not what they are trained for and a poor use of their skills. There is a difference between special operators and regular military advisors and perhaps he is counting on us to not know the difference, but we do, and he should know better. 

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Earthquakes

Ecuador earthquake death toll rises to nearly 650 - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Ecuador's President Rafael Correa announced the death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country climbed to nearly 650. The death toll now stands at 646 people on Saturday as the country registered more then 300 aftershocks after the initial quake struck on April 16. A second 6.5 magnitude quake also struck the coast of Ecuador on Thursday night, as the aftershock centered around the city of Bahia de Caraquez."

Comment: The "Ring of Fire" continues to be in fire. I know that seismologists say the recent quakes on both sides of the Pacific are not related but it's hard to dismiss the current series of quakes as merely isolated events.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Chinese President Xi Jinping takes title of commander in chief - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken to the additional title of commander in chief of the country's military, a move that could be seen as an effort to exert more control over the armed forces. The new title was debuted by state-run media Wednesday after Xi visited a battle command center while wearing camouflage military fatigues. He said China should build a command system 'capable of winning wars,' state media reported."

Comment: I wonder which wars they are planning to win? It's not as if any country is currently attempting to invade China or threaten them with invasion. Perhaps a defensive war is not what they are planning for? Could it be that China's military strategists are planning offensive wars that expand China's territory and power? The War of the South China Sea perhaps? Or maybe the War for Taiwan? It will be interesting to see how the new "commander in chief" uses his new powers.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rumors of War

Counter-terror officials warn: Islamic State seeks nuclear, biological materials - UPI.com UPI reports: "Last month, Belgian investigators reported that during searches of the Brussels apartment of Salah Abdeslam, one of the Paris attackers, the documents relating to the nuclear research center near the Belgian border in northwest Germany. According to nuclear scientists, only 10 grams of radiological material would be required for a so-called 'dirty bomb,' which combines radioactive material and conventional explosives."

Comment: Of all the kinds of attacks that IS could perpetrate, an NBC attack is by far the worst. Most of the time we are scared enough just to think of a few random bombs going off in an urban area. Not to minimize what happened in Belgium and Paris, but once the bombs go off, that's pretty much it, it's over. With a nuclear, biological or chemical attack, the damage to people lingers over time and presents far more obstacles to clean-up and investigation. What I find most worrisome is that experts say it's only a matter of time before it happens. Not IF it will happen someday, but WHEN it will happen.  We can only hope the international fight against IS succeeds before they can acquire these deadly weapons.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wars & Rumors of War

Fight against Islamic State in Iraq is becoming a major ground war - UPI.com
UPI reports: "As the authorities in Western Europe face up to the increased risk of attacks from Islamic State, arrests have been made in Britain and security operations in Belgium and France, all point to intensive government action against the 'new' domestic IS threat. The popular media narrative is that this is a desperate move from IS as it retreats in Iraq and Syria – but security professionals take a very different view."

Comment: While the U.S. news media remains fixated on all things Trump other things have been happening in the world. It could not be made more clear by Iraq and the Pentagon that a new phase in the war against IS is underway and there will be more American boots on the ground. If the majority of Americans (and the world) believe that Obama has been winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are in for a rude surprise. 

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Peace & Security of Jerusalem

Jerusalem bus explosion injures 20 - UPI.com
UPI reports: "An explosion aboard a public bus in southeast Jerusalem on Monday injured at least 15 people. Initial reports said at least two victims were seriously injured and one was hospitalized in critical condition. [...] No group or individual has claimed responsibility thus far. Jerusalem district police confirmed the bus was targeted. Police initially said either a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside the bus, or it was struck by a thrown explosive."

Comment: No group has claimed responsibility for this attack and while it may be tempting to point the finger that the Palestinians, there are so many more hostile groups in play now that it could well be ISIS or even Iranian agents using Hamas as cover in their proxy war against Israel. 

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MOTB

Novel e-skin may monitor health, vital signs - UPI.com
UPI reports: "In a bid to take high-performance wearable electronics to a new level, Japanese researchers have developed an 'e-skin' that may be a noninvasive way to monitor patients' health and vital signs. The ultra-thin, flexible film can light up and display numbers or images. It moves easily with the body and is resistant to air and water damage, according to the scientists who created the technology."

Comment: It will be interesting to see what future versions of the technology will look like. Presumably the tech will improve in terms of how thin it is, how long it can be applied to the skin, and the number of apps that it will work with. 

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Earthquakes

Ecuador earthquake death toll likely to rise, president says - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The death toll from one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit Ecuador in decades has risen past 413, including one American, officials said Monday, and left thousands of others injured and homeless. More than 2,500 people were injured in the major earthquake that struck Saturday evening -- the most powerful to hit the South American nation in decades. "

Rescuers dig out survivors after quake kills 238 in Ecuador - AP
AP reports: "Aid began to flow in Sunday to areas devastated by Ecuador's strongest earthquake in decades and the death toll continued to rise as people left homeless hunkered down for another night outside in the dark. Officials said the quake killed at least 246 people and injured more than 2,500 along Ecuador's coast. Vice President Jorge Glas said the toll was likely to rise because a large number of people remained unaccounted for, though he declined to say how many."

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Earthquakes

7.4-magnitude quake strikes Ecuador - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A magnitude-7.4 earthquake has struck coastal Ecuador, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. [...] The quake comes after a trio of powerful temblors struck on the opposite side of the Pacific in Japan form Thursday to Saturday, the strongest of which was magnitude-7.4, and is estimated to have killed up to 32 people there."

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Earthquakes

Japan hit by major earthquake for second day in a row - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A powerful earthquake rocked southern Japan on Friday for the second day in a row, in the same region where a quake hit on Thursday, killing nine people. The new quake struck near Kumamoto on the island of Kyusha with a magnitude of 7.0, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Some news reports said it had a magnitude of 7.4."

Comment: There have been other smaller quakes all around the Ring of Fire lately, the region appears to be entering an active phase. 

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Earthquakes

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Japan - UPI.com
UPi reports: "A powerful preliminary 6.2-magnitude earthquake Thursday on southern Japan's Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu Island killed at least two people and is the first high-intensity quake since a magnitude-9.0 temblor five years ago, the U.S. Geological Surey said."

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Wickedness Increases

Two charged after alleged rape was live-streamed on Internet - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A man is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl while the girl's friend broadcast the incident on the live-streaming app Periscope, the Franklin County, Ohio, prosecutor said. [...] O'Brien said he is unaware of any prior case in the country in which an alleged crime was streamed live on the Internet, the Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday."

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Earthquakes

Myanmar shaken by 6.9 magnitude earthquake - BBC News
The BBC reports: "A strong earthquake has struck Myanmar, the US Geological Survey reports, with shaking felt across the region. The 6.9 magnitude quake took place at a depth of around 140km (87 miles), north-west of Mandalay. There were no initial reports of any fatalities."

Comment: 6.9 magnitude is a pretty big quake it's fortunate that there were no fatalities. 

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Pestilence

CDC: Zika Virus causes birth defects - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday the Zika virus can cause birth defects like very small heads and other neurological damage in the fetuses of infected mothers. CDC officials said they had gathered enough data to make the announcement, putting to rest questions about whether microcephaly was caused by Zika. The findings are also being published in the New England Journal of Medicine."

Comment: Maybe I've been reading too many news reports on this subject, but I thought they'd already established that the virus caused birth defects?  I guess the individual studies, which they note, had previously prompted headlines saying the link had been established but this represents an authoritative conclusion announced by the medical community.

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Rumors of War - King of the North

Watch: Russian fighters harass U.S. destroyer in the Baltic - UPI.com
UPI reports: "For two days in a row, Russian fighter jets conducted several aggressive, low-altitude passes above a U.S. Navy destroyer participating in maritime warfare exercises in the Baltic Sea. The USS Donald Cook was carrying out landing deck drills with partner nation forces on April 11 when two Russian-flagged Su-24 fighter jets 'made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes' above the vessel, according to a statement by Navy officials with U.S. European Command."

Comment: I know there are some who still dismiss the notion that Russia under Putin is trying recapture former Soviet imperial glory, but the evidence just continues to mount. The actions depicted here are best described as belligerent and confrontational.  

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pestilence

Yellow fever outbreak in Angola spreads to neighboring Congo - UPI.com
UPI reports: "An outbreak of yellow fever that started in December in Angola is spreading, with the number of cases and deaths in the Democratic Republic of the Congo rising and individuals who have picked up the infection in Angola showing up in other countries, according to new reports. [...] Yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, including the Aedes aegypti that also spread the Zika virus, causing fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue."

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Rumors of War - Persia

New Iranian drone reportedly takes first flight - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, on Tuesday unveiled its newest aerial surveillance drone during large-scale military exercises in the western part of the country. [...] Aside from long-range surveillance operations, the drone is also reportedly designed to carry out airstrikes as part of its anticipated multimission package."

Comment: The articles doesn't say who will be targeted by the airstrikes. I guess we are left to wonder who would be on Iran's enemies list.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Pestilence

U.S. officials warn Zika 'scarier' than initially thought | Reuters
Reuters reports: "Top health officials expressed heightened concern on Monday about the threat posed to the United States by the Zika virus, saying the mosquito that spreads it is now present in about 30 states and hundreds of thousands of infections could appear in Puerto Rico. At a White House briefing, they stepped up pressure on the Republican-led Congress to pass approximately $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Zika preparedness that the Obama administration requested in February. [...] Zika, linked to numerous cases of the birth defect micocephaly in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean."

Comment: I hope the U.S. political process can work efficiently to fund these efforts because the seasons (and mosquitoes) will not wait for them. People get upset by the seasonal flu and that's so common, imagine Zika spreading in the southern U.S. and becoming an annual seasonal threat just like the flu. They'd better start funding vaccine efforts now before the public starts to understand the scope of the threat.

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Saturday, April 09, 2016

War

U.S. Air Force deploys B-52s to join Islamic State bombings in Qatar - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The United States Air Force deployed B-52 long range bombers to join air strikes agains the Islamic State. An undisclosed number of B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Saturday, according to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command. [...] B-52s are described as 'a long-range heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions' and have not been deployed since Operation Desert Storm 26 years ago."

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Friday, April 08, 2016

War

Belgians seize key suspects in Paris, Brussels attacks - Reuters
Reuters reports: "Belgian police detained two key suspects on Friday in the Islamic State attacks on Paris and Brussels as operations go on to track down militants who have fought with or take direction from leaders in Syria. Mohamed Abrini, a Belgian thought to have helped prepare the Nov. 13 bombing and shooting attack that killed 130 people in the French capital, was held with two others, prosecutors said. They were trying to confirm that he was also the 'man in the hat' seen with the Brussels airport suicide bombers on March 22."

Comment: A good day for Belgium and a milestone in the war against Islamic terrorism. It's also a dangerous development, as the arrests of the two suspects may prompt their associates to step up the timetable for future attacks. Let's hope the security services remain vigilant.

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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Kings of the East

China's Xinjiang seals Pakistan ties with $2 billion in deals | Reuters
Reuters reports: "Companies from China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang signed deals worth about $2 billion with Pakistan this week during a visit to Pakistan by Xinjiang's top official, who sought to cement ties with an important security partner. Pakistan last year agreed energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion with China to set up a so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, in a boost to Pakistan's crumbling infrastructure and energy sector. In return, China will get a free trade zone in Pakistan's Gwadar port and access to the Arabian Sea. New Pakistani roads will open up routes for Chinese goods into Europe and the Middle East from landlocked Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan."

Comment: This is important as China is more inaccessible than the open country one would imagine from merely looking at a map. Movement west of goods, people, and if necessary, troops, is largely restricted by mountains and deals like this are helping to overcome than natural barrier to trade and transport.

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Global Community

Facebook expands live video, challenging TV and web rivals | Reuters
Reuters reports: "Facebook Live, which offers streaming video in real time, was launched last year. On Wednesday, it added features, including a map of video streams around the world, expanded search and filters that echo those on other platforms. Videos can be turned into black-and-white shots, like on Facebook's Instagram, for instance, and soon users will be able to add doodles, a nod to a feature on Snapchat."

Comment: So, in other words, if you are witnessing a news event you can record it and share it with friends. Or, if you are merely reacting to an event, you can record your reaction in real time and share that with your friends. I'm thinking about this in the context of Rev. 11:9-12 but also about how it helps promote a common global community by dissolving borders. Experiencing events together is what matters, not where they happen. 

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Wars & Rumors of War

U.S. may open 'fire bases' to help Iraqi troops retake Mosul - UPI.com
UPI reports:  "The United States could increase the number of fire support bases in Iraq in continued efforts to help the Iraqi security forces recapture the city of Mosul. Fire support bases are temporary military camps used to provide artillery fire in support of ground troops. Iraq launched a significant offensive recently to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city that was seized by the Islamic State in June 2014."

Comment: So, in other words, American military personnel are fighting in Iraq...but not really. No boots on the ground. No new authorization to use military force (AUMF). We have still officially withdrawn from Iraq. Just acting in a support capacity, lending a helping hand, that's all. Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Pestilence

U.S. moving money from Ebola fund to help fight Zika - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Obama administration is shifting $589 million in funding to prepare for likely outbreaks of Zika virus in the United States during the upcoming mosquito season, senior officials announced Wednesday. The money includes $510 million originally intended for fighting the Ebola virus, which officials said remains a global health threat."

Comment: You can tell when the government thinks a problem is serious when they start spending money on it. This might be a good time to buy stock in mosquito repellent makers. 

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

China announces new North Korea sanctions - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China announced it's implementing new sanctions on North Korea that could hit Pyongyang's vital trade in coal exports. Beijing's ministry of commerce announced Tuesday a list of banned North Korean imports and exports, including coal, iron, iron ore, gold, titanium and rare earth elements, Yonhap reported. This is the first official Chinese announcement of unilateral sanctions on North Korea. It follows the United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution passed on March 2, 2016."

North Korea releases video of attack on Seoul - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea released a video of a simulated attack on Seoul, less than two weeks after the country produced a film showing an imaginary nuclear attack on Washington, D.C."

North Korea circulating counterfeit Chinese bills - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea could be counterfeiting Chinese currency and the fake bills are in circulation in several Chinese cities. [...] Pyongyang is also using other illegal means, weapons and drug trafficking, to earn money in Russia and Japan, according to Phoenix. The Hong Kong television network reported North Korea also has 'world-class' counterfeiting technology capable of manufacturing U.S. dollars and Japanese yen, in addition to the yuan."

Comment: It appears that China is finally realizing that North Korea is more of a problem child than an ally. Hopefully the latest bought of tantrums from the North will end without sparking conflict.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Rumors of War

Global military spending grows 1 percent in 2015 - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Global military expenditure rose to nearly $1.7 trillion in 2015, reflecting continued growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states, according to a SIPRI report. [...] Expenditures by the United States fell by 2.4 per cent to $596 billion but it still remains the world's largest military spender. China's expenditure rose by 7.4 percent to $215 billion, Saudi Arabia spent $87.2 billion, a 5.7 percent increase, while Russia's spending rose 7.5 percent to $66.4 billion."

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Monday, April 04, 2016

Earthquakes

6.9-magnitude earthquake strikes island nation of Vanuatu - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Officials lifted a tsunami warning after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. No damage was reported Sunday when the temblor struck before 7:30 p.m. about 260 miles northwest of the capital city of Port Vila. [...] The quake was originally measured at 7.2 though the USGS said the quake was shallow at a depth of 21 miles below the surface."

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Saturday, April 02, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

U.S. plans third patrol near disputed South China Sea islands: source | Reuters
Reuters reports: "The U.S. Navy plans to conduct another passage near disputed islands in the South China Sea in early April, a source familiar with the plan said on Friday, the third in a series of challenges that have drawn sharps rebukes from China. Other U.S. officials, speaking after Reuters reported the plan, disputed that such an exercise was imminent. But they made clear Washington will continue to challenge what it considers Beijing's unfounded maritime claims."

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Friday, April 01, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

North Korea's Kim Jong Un attends test of surface-to-air missile - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provided field guidance during a test firing of a surface-to-air guided weapon, according to KCNA. Pyongyang's state media news agency reported Kim was present during the test of a "new" missile, which was being evaluated for combat performance. This is the first time in eight days the North Korean leader has attended a military-related event, Yonhap reported."

North Korea could miniaturize nuclear warheads faster, analyst says - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea could accelerate nuclear warhead miniaturization, a South Korean analyst said Friday. [...] North Korea has Rodong and Scud missiles, the analyst said, and if Pyongyang begins to develop a "triggering device," miniaturization would be simplified."

Comment: What is the word to describe it when Kim is testing missiles on the same day world leaders are meeting in Washington to discuss nuclear threats? 

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