Thursday, August 31, 2017

Signs in the Heavens

Watch massive asteroid fly safely by Earth -
UPI reports: "Early Friday morning, Florence -- the largest near Earth asteroid yet discovered and tracked by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- will pass within 4,390,892 miles of Earth, approximately 18 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. [...] The asteroid, named for war nurse Florence Nightingale, measures between 2.5 and 5.6 miles wide --scientists will have a more accurate estimate after the flyby. Anything larger than a half mile in diameter is capable of doing catastrophic damage should it collide with Earth."

Comment: That should be interesting, glad that spotted it. Last I heard the NASA office that monitors near-Earth asteroids suffered a budget cut, maybe that has changed? 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Pentagon: 2,600 more troops in Afghanistan than previously reported -
UPI reports: "The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday there are about 2,600 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan than it previously reported. Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said there are about 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, not the 8,400 figure the Department of Defense previously gave. [...] The increased number isn't because more troops have been deployed in recent days, though, and is not reflective of President Donald Trump's authorization of a larger deployment last week. Those reinforcements could reach 3,900 troops."

Comment: So, reading between the lines, it's like they are saying that before sending even more troops they will acknowledge the creative accounting they have been using to  keep up the current numbers in Afghanistan. It doesn't matter, the bottom line remains the same, more American troops will be going to fight in Afghanistan. It seems to me that Trump has decided on a long-term presence, in the same way we did after WWII with Europe and Japan, it would just be nice for him to tell that plainly to the American people.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Trump: 'All options are on the table' after latest North Korea missile launch -
UPI reports: Following North Korea's missile test that flew over Japan, President Donald Trump said 'all options are on the table' in response to the hermit kingdom's 'threatening and destabilizing actions.' [...] Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke on the phone following Pyongyang's missile test. The White House said the 'two leaders agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as to countries around the word.'"

Comment: I have to admit, I'd hoped that the situation with North Korea had cooled somewhat. There are indications that China is sending signals to the North that it has lost patience and Trump has demonstrated resolve as well as a willingness to engage. At this point in the script, North Korea parlays for concessions and then settles down until the next tantrum. This has been the pattern for a number of years. For some reason, North Korea is not following the usual script. I wonder what has changed?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Peace of Jerusalem - Rumors of War - Persia

Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes U.N. chief Antonio Guterres with criticism -
UPI reports: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with vocal criticism Monday about the way he says his nation is treated by the world body. [...] He said the United Nations has failed to prevent arms from being smuggled to Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah militants, while allowing Iran to build sites in Syria and Lebanon for the manufacture of 'precision-guided missiles.' 'Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,' Netanyahu said. 'This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. should not accept.'"

Comment: This is one of those things we see often in history, an example of how the seed of the next war is always present in the ending of the current war.  Iranian militias have been fighting alongside Russian and Syrian forces against the Islamic State and since everyone is fighting the Islamic State, this has not been a problem. Over time, Iran has built up resources including troops, supplies and intelligence networks across the region, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and of course, Syria. Does anyone seriously believe that after the Islamic State is defeated that Iran will pull back all those resources and withdraw? Israel is stuck in the middle of a war for regional hegemony between Iran and Saudi Arabia and right now, Iran is winning. Israel is letting the world know that this is not acceptable. Is the world listening? 

Roaring Waves - Fearsome Events

CNBC - Houston crippled by catastrophic flood, mass evacuations ordered
CNBC reports: "The historic flooding that Tropical Storm Harvey unleashed on Houston will likely worsen as federal engineers release water from overflowing reservoirs to keep it from jumping dams and surging uncontrollably into the homes they protect, officials said on Monday. Some 30,000 residents of the nation's fourth-largest city were expected to be left temporarily homeless by Harvey, which became the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years when it came ashore on Friday near Corpus Christi, about 220 miles (354 km) south of Houston. [...] Harvey was expected to remain over the state's Gulf Coast for the next few days, dropping a year's worth of rain in about a week, with threats of flooding extending into neighboring Louisiana."

Comment: Praying for Texas and I'd also like to share this link to a news report about how to donate to the relief effort if you are so moved. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rumors of War - War

Man shot, killed while attacking Belgian soldiers -
UPI reports: "The Belgian army shot and killed a man who attacked soldiers in Brussels with a knife in what authorities are treating as a terrorist act Friday. Belgium's federal prosecutor said the attacker injured two soldiers, one on the hand, the other on the head. The man attacked the soldiers around 8:20 p.m. near the Sainte Catherine neighborhood in the city center. Witnesses said he yelled 'Allahu Akbar' just prior to the attack."

Comment: This jihadist brought a knife to a gun fight, love when that happens! Akbarians are not terribly bright, are they?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mark of the Beast

India's Supreme Court rules privacy is a fundamental right - AP
AP reports: "India’s top court ruled Thursday that privacy is a fundamental right of every citizen, in a landmark judgment that could affect the country’s mammoth identity card system. The verdict was in response to many petitions filed in courts questioning the validity of assigning a biometric identity card to every individual. The government has made the identity card mandatory for all citizens to receive welfare benefits, but human rights groups raised concerns about the risk of personal data being misused. [...] Rights activists hailed the verdict as a win for individual freedom."

Comment: This is a win for the people of India but also something of a disappointment. As a test-case for mark-tech India was making remarkable strides in combining biometric identity verification with a broad range of government services. I saw it as a laboratory for seeing what could be done in this area with off-the-shelf technology combined with sheer government coercion and the outcome was looking rather impressive. The currency system of an entire country was being changed almost overnight and millions of undocumented people were being brought into an online system and given digital identities to secure services and payments. It was an impressive accomplishment. All of that is in doubt now. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Rumors of War - King of the North

Mattis: U.S. considering sending weapons to Ukraine -
UPI reports: "U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Thursday the Trump administration is considering supplying weapons to Ukraine after a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. Mattis said he would return to the United States and advise leaders on what he learned during his visit to Ukraine."

Comment: I'm worried that the dangers of this move are not being carefully considered by the Trump team. It would be as if Russia decided to send arms to a rogue group of Canadians (as if that could ever be a thing). It would be even more apt of the former capital of the U.S. was located in their erstwhile breakaway province. It's not something Americans would likely accept for long without some kind of extreme reaction. While I know that Kievan Russia was a long time ago, the shadow of history is a living presence in that part of the world and our leaders who do well to tread carefully.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Rumors of War

South Korea conducts civil defense drill to prepare for enemy attack -
UPI reports: "South Korea conducted some of its most comprehensive civil defense drills in recent memory in preparation for a potential North Korea attack. [...] The exercises designed for civilians began with a siren warning in key parts of the country that would be activated when guided missiles or enemy air raids are detected across the border."

Comment: This was an ambitious civil defense drill and I have to give them credit for at least attempting to get their people ready just in case the unthinkable does happen. I'm not sure it was all that successful it many people didn't even know it was happening, but at least they tried.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Covenant With Many

Jared Kushner leads U.S. delegation for peace talks in Middle East -
UPI reports: "White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is part of a delegation that traveled to the Middle East for peace talks, the Trump administration said Tuesday. [...] The traveling delegation met with leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia early this week before heading to Israel on Wednesday. On Thursday, they will meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. [...] the talks would 'focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combating extremism, the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there.' Also, the team will examine economic steps ahead of a potential peace deal."

Comment: This is interesting because Mideast peace does not seem to be high on the international agenda right now. Perhaps now is a good time for this, at time when other global issues are the focus of attention, negotiators may have more room to maneuver.


Earthquake kills 2 on Italy's Ischia island -
UPI reports: "A 4.0-magnitude earthquake on the Italian resort island of Ischia killed two people and injured at least 39 others, police said. The earthquake on the island on the Bay of Naples struck on Monday evening, with the most serious damage in the village of Casamicciola. A woman died from falling masonry from a church, and another was found dead in the rubble of her home, The Telegraph reported Tuesday."

Monday, August 21, 2017


Donald Trump says US must continue 'longest war in American history' in Afghanistan -
UPI reports: "President Donald Trump gave a speech on Monday that detailed his strategy for the U.S. military in the ongoing Afghanistan war. [...] Trump plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan by approximately 4,000 troops. That's about a 50 percent increase of current levels. There are 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in an operation to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces."

Comment: This is really surreal. If someone would have told us in 2001 that the war in Afghanistan would last for 17 years (and counting) would anyone have believed it? I was just watching a WWII film and, of course, we know that particular war (a world war) lasted six years. I'm sure that must have felt like a long time to those fighting but yes, only six years. What is the difference? I would say that the difference is that WWII was a total war in which countries were fighting for survival, for their right to exist. We call Afghanistan a war, but it's not a war in that sense. Unlike WWII this war in Afghanistan is a distant war fought by a volunteer force and without any major significant impact on the economy or the culture. For most Americans life goes on as usual, they have no personal connection to the war and are not asked to sacrifice of even care much at all about it.  In that context and in that manner, the U.S. can fight wars that go on for decades without resolution. Is that really the way we want to do it?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Signs in the Sun - Signs in the Moon

Eclipse chasers could form largest mass migration in history -
UPI reports: "The best locations to see Monday's total solar eclipse are within a day's drive of more than 200 million Americans -- and the mega event could see one of the largest mass migrations in human history. The eclipse will occur on a sloping stretch of the United States about 70 miles wide and 2,800 miles long. The track beneath the eclipse is known as the 'path of totality,' which includes the states where the phenomenon will be best viewed -- Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina."

Comment: Unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near the path of totality so I'll be watching online or on TV. Those of you going to watch in person, enjoy the event! 

Wars & Rumors of War

3 dead in stabbing attacks in Finland, Germany -
UPI reports: "At least three people died Friday and several others were hurt in separate stabbing attacks in Finland and Germany, authorities said. In Finland, police confirmed two deaths and six people injured at two marketplaces near each other in the city center -- the Central Market and Puutori-Market Squares -- on Friday afternoon. Police shot the suspected assailant in the leg and arrested him, state broadcaster YLE reported. [...] Two hours later in Dusseldorf, Germany, a 31-year-old man was killed and a 25-year-old man was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack at a store, police said. Police are searching for one or more suspects."

Death roll rises to 14 in Spain terror attacks -
UPI reports: "The death toll from two terrorist attacks in Spain rose to 14 Friday, officials said -- as investigators try and find the driver of a van that plowed into a crowd of people in one of Barcelona's popular tourist districts. In the first attack, in Barcelona's popular Las Ramblas district, a white van hit a crowd of pedestrians in the Catalunya Square, which is a tourist draw. [...] A second attack hours later in the coastal town of Cambrils, located about 70 miles south of Barcelona, was thwarted by Spanish police. Security officers killed five suspects, some of whom were reportedly wearing suicide bomb vests. Before the suspects died, they rammed a vehicle into a crowd and injured several people. One died early Friday, bringing the total civilian death toll to 14."

Police arrest 4 in Spain terror attacks, hunt for van driver -
UPI reports: "Spanish police have arrested four people believed to be part of a covert, radical Islamic terrorist cell, but were still engaged in an intense manhunt Friday for the driver connected to a deadly van attack in the heart of Barcelona's tourist district."

Comment:  Like many people I get breaking news alerts on my phone and in a moment that highlighted how surreal this is becoming, I was slow to realize that there had been not one but TWO attacks in Spain and not one but TWO stabbing attacks in TWO different countries. Perilous times indeed.


FDA allows new tools for testing of Zika virus -
UPI reports: "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made available a panel of human plasma samples to aid in the regulatory evaluation of serological tests for Zika. In 2017, there were 203 cases of symptomatic Zika virus reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.. The FDA's sample panel is comprised of plasma samples from anonymous patients infected with the Zika virus, West Nile virus, or dengue virus. [...] The use of the same serological panel can help public health professionals compare the effectiveness of different Zika virus tests."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wars & Rumors of War

13 killed in Barcelona terror attack as van plows into crowd -
UPI reports: "Police said a van struck and killed at least 13 people and injured about 80 others, 12 seriously, Thursday in Barcelona's Las Ramblas tourist district in an act of terror. The vehicle, a white van, hit a crowd of pedestrians in the city's Catalunya Square, which is a tourist draw. Witnesses said it jumped the curb and crashed into numerous people. The driver fled on foot, police said. [...] A social media account affiliated with the Islamic State said the attackers were their 'soldiers,' though they offered no proof of the attackers' affiliations or their identities."

Comment: Barcelona has joined the growing list of European cities hit by Islamic State terrorists. I'm sure the security forces will be able to establish conclusively in the coming days if this was indeed the work of IS terrorists. There are other possibilities to consider, it could be Basque separatists, for example, although I'd been under the impression that particular conflict had settled down.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Iraqi jets bomb Islamic State stronghold ahead of ground assault -
UPI reports: "Iraqi warplanes bombed Tal Afar -- the Islamic State's last stronghold in northern Iraq -- in preparation for a ground assault, defense officials said. The bombardment has intensified in the past several days, targeting IS headquarters, tunnels and armories. Last month, a senior Iraqi commander and former Tal Afar mayor said that between 1,500 and 2,000 militants and their families remain in the city."

Comment: Meanwhile, in Iraq, the battle against the Islamic Statue continues. Way to go Iran...I mean Iraq (oblique reference to how Iran is secretly taking over Iraq).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Report: North Korea continues to punish religious practice -
UPI reports: "The North Korean government continued to punish those engaging in religious practices last year, with executions, torture and other abuse, the U.S. State Department said in an annual report Tuesday."

Comment: Please join me in praying for persecuted Christians in North Korea. 

Monday, August 14, 2017


Fleas test positive for plague in two Arizona counties -
UPI reports: "Health officials are reporting that fleas in Navajo and Coconino counties in Arizona have tested positive for the plague, and are urging residents to take precaution. The plague is known for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages, but outbreaks of the plague occasionally happen in the southwestern United States during cooler summers following wet winters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts now say fleas in the counties have tested positive for the disease and are advising residents to take extra care of their pets and be careful around animals because the disease can easily be transmitted to humans."

Comment: That certainly adds extra urgency to getting the right flea collar for your pets. I was thinking this might be a case of old diseases coming back but a little research shows that it never really went away and for the most part is treatable.  Caution is in order if you live in this part of the country, but no need to panic.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Trump speaks with China's Xi Jinping, other leaders on North Korea threats -
UPI reports: "The leaders of the United States and China once again called on North Korea on Saturday to stop its provocative actions, which recently have sparked high tensions on the Korean Peninsula, while vowing to cooperate on a peaceful resolution to the North's nuclear issue. After the phone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the White House said in a statement that the leaders agreed that 'North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior.'[...] Xi called for a peaceful resolution of North Korea's nuclear ambitions and stressed that peace on the Korean Peninsula is the common interest of China and the U.S."

Comment: Lately I've been considering a possible alternative strategy but it's a rather long game. What would happen if we let Kim have everything he wants? Accept North Korea as a formal nuclear power, have a big ceremony with other international leaders, establish full diplomatic and trade relations and sign a peace treaty ending the Korean War.  Let a new day dawn in North Korea and let them bask in their great victory. Life goes on. The idea is simply that societies that have been cut off from the world and held under extreme oppression tend to lose their bearings when material conditions change for the better. When generations change, expectations change and demands for participation grow. If we let Kim have everything he wants his family will most likely fall from power within one generation. There would probably be an internal power struggle but an all out nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea would be avoided. I think this strategy has merit and carries the lowest risk of all the near-term strategies that are currently under consideration.

Critics will call this appeasement but it's really hard-headed realism, an understanding that sometimes you can shower your enemy with carrots rather than sticks...if the carrots are poisoned. Prosperity will have the counter-intuitive effect of undermining the legitimacy of the Kim family dynasty when a new generation comes of age and wants more freedom that they are allowed. A peaceful transition is possible in the North but only if we are willing to give this strategy the time it needs to come to fruition.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rumors of War - Fear for the Future

Bomb shelter sales boosted by North Korea threat -
UPI reports: "Businesses across the United States -- and Japan -- are reporting an increase in sales of bomb shelters and other survival items as rhetoric over nuclear weapons ramps up. [...] The bump in U.S. sales this week, though, appears to be coinciding with increased threats between North Korea's military and U.S. President Donald Trump. [...] While some bomb shelters are small -- little larger than panic rooms that can fit in a garage and sell for $10,000 -- others can cost millions and offer luxurious living for years."

Donald Trump: Military 'locked and loaded' for North Korea -
UPI  reports: "President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that U.S. armed forces are 'locked and loaded' in case the North Korean government takes aggressive action -- escalating hostile rhetoric with the regime of Kim Jong Un. 'Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,' Trump stated. 'Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!' Later Friday afternoon, Trump retweeted a post by U.S. Pacific Command that said B-1 bombers on Guam 'stand ready' if called upon."

Comment: Maybe it's time for the government to dust off those old civil defense plans and maybe acquaint the public with what to do in case of an emergency. We all need to be prepared, right, not just Ventura County. Duck and cover!

Thursday, August 10, 2017


AFP - Rosary in hand, Christians flee Syria's IS-held Raqa
AFP reports: "Thousands of Armenians and Syriac Christians once lived in Raqa, making up around one percent of the city's population, which is predominantly Sunni Arab. Armenians in Syria are the descendants of those who fled mass killings in Anatolia at the peak of World War I, massacres the Armenians see as a genocide, though Turkey rejects the term. When IS seized Raqa in 2014, most of the city's Christians, as well as its Kurdish population, fled.   Under IS rule, Christians face the choice of converting to Islam, paying a sectarian tax called jizya, or fleeing under threat of death."

Comment: Please join me in praying for these Christians as they flee the fighting in Syria.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Rumors of War - War

North Korea expects to have Guam action plan by mid-August -
UPI reports: "U.S. President Donald Trump's promise to unleash 'fire and fury' in response to North Korea threats is a 'load of nonsense,' Pyongyang's military said early Thursday, adding that it expects to have a military plan of action against Guam within days. [...] The statement, published by state-run Korean Central News Agency says North Korea is 'about to take' military action near the U.S. territory of Guam and a plan to do so would be finalized by mid-August."

Comment: This is getting a bit surreal. I suppose would get say that bluster begets bluster. The danger of miscalculation is very high.


Powerful earthquake rocks central China, kills at least 19 -
UPI reports: "The U.S. Geological Survey said a strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked central China's mountainous Jiuzhaigou area in the Sichuan Province late Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people. At least 19 people were killed and many others were injured during and after the quake, officials said. The epicenter was located 110 miles north-northwest of the city of Jiangyou at a depth of about 5.5 miles, the USGS said in its reviewed analysis."

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Rumors of War - War

AP - Trump warns NKorea of 'fire and fury' as nuke threat worsen
AP reports: "President Donald Trump threatened North Korea 'with fire and fury like the world has never seen' on Tuesday after suggestions the communist country has mastered one of the final hurdles to being able to strike the United States with a nuclear missile. North Korea said it was examining its operational plans for attacking Guam — a U.S. territory about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) away — in order to contain U.S. military activity there. [...] The Trump administration considers North Korea to be America’s greatest national security threat and tensions have steadily escalated this year. [...] For North Korea, having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America would be the ultimate guarantee against invasion by its superpower adversary."

Comment: I hope that Trump's threats and bravado combined with the new sanctions and moves by allies will be enough to get North Korea back to the "six-party talks" and on the road to some kind of nuclear agreement.  The idea that the Korean War could resume seems farfetched but that possibility seems more and more likely with each passing day.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Covenant With Many

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II meet in Ramallah -
UPI reports: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II, after a meeting Monday in Ramallah, called for U.S. President Donald Trump to endorse a two-state solution. [...] After a February meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said he 'can live with either' a one-state or two-state solution as long as both parties are happy. The U.S. president also asked Israel to 'hold back on settlements' until a peace deal with the Palestinians could be struck."

Comment: Do you remember in history when the great Palestinian King Whatsit united the warring tribes and founded the Palestinian country? His bravery in battle has been celebrated for thousands of years in Palestinian art and culture. Actually, you may  not remember that because it never happened.  It's so strange, all of these decades of conflict over a people and a country that never existed. All because Israel's Arab neighbors decided that they would not repatriate their fellow Arabs after they forcefully rejected the UN mandated creation of TWO states and decided to leave them as pawns to use against Israel. If they rejected the UN plan by force of arms, why do they think it's still on the table? Yet the international community continues to believe that if only Israel would give up more land (and not Jordan, Egypt or Lebanon) to these nice peace-loving Palestinians then all will be well. The Palestinians rule in Gaza right now, is all well in Gaza? Yet more land is the solution. On the other hand, if they do give the Palestinians a state and they continue to fire missiles at Israel (as they do from Gaza) then having defined borders will make it all the easier for Israel to retaliate. Either way, I think the Psalm 83 War is near.


AFP - At least 11 killed in 'barbaric' Nigeria church shooting
AFP reports: "At least 11 worshippers were shot dead at a church in southeast Nigeria on Sunday, with authorities suggesting the bloodshed was due to a local feud. [...] At around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) at least one gunman opened fire at Saint Philip's church in Ozubulu, near the city of Onitsha, unleashing terror on the congregation.[...] Attacks on churches are rare in southern Nigeria, where there is a predominantly Christian population. The country's mainly-Muslim north has been gripped by a violent campaign by Boko Haram jihadists, who specialise in targeting religious centres. [...] Hundreds of churches and mosques in Nigeria's north have been attacked since 2009 when Boko Haram began a violent campaign to impose strict Islamic law."

Comment: Please join me in praying for the families and friends of the victims, that they may be comforted in their grief and for the persecuted church in Nigeria.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

U.N. Security Council passes tough new sanctions on North Korea -
UPI reports: "The United Nations Security Council voted Saturday to enact tough new sanctions on North Korea over its continued pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. The U.S. delegation succeeded in negotiating the package with China and Russia, the two permanent members of the Security Council most hesitant to impose tougher measures against the Kim regime. A no-vote by either country would have prevented the sanctions from being imposed. In the end, all 15 member-nations of the Security Council voted in favor of the U.S.-authored resolution."

Comment: Breaking news, the Security Council has imposed sanctions on North Korea! Is this the first time they've done this? No. The second time? No. The third? No. Not even close. So why do they think these sanctions will be any more "tough" than previous sanctions? It will be interesting to see how North Korea reacts. I'm guessing another missile test may happen soon.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Wickedness Increases

Michelle Carter woman gets 15 months prison for encouraging boyfriend's suicide -
UPI reports: "A judge on Thursday handed down a 15-month prison sentence to a Massachusetts woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter for sending a barrage of text messages that led to her boyfriend's suicide. [...] Carter was 17 when she sent Roy a barrage of text messages and phone calls encouraging him to follow through on threats he had made to kill himself. [...] Investigators uncovered dozens of text messages and phone calls from Carter encouraging Roy to follow through on the action, including telling him to get back in the truck when he had second thoughts."

Comment: She demonstrated depraved indifference to the value of human life. Instead of  seeking help she used her words as weapons. Some are saying 15 months is too lenient but I think it reflects wisdom on the part of the judge. Her boyfriend ultimately killed himself, he is responsible for that act...but not solely responsible. Wickedness increases and love grows very cold. I think it's a safe bet she will have contact with the criminal justice system again in the future before facing the ultimate Judge.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Rumors of War - King of the North

Donald Trump signs bill toughening sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea - UPI reports: "President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a bill to strengthen sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran, a White House signing statement shows. The signing statement indicates Trump expressed reservations about the bill's impact, saying it encroaches on presidential authority and may harm the United States' ability to work with allies on how to deal with Russia."

Comment: While we are far from Cold War-era levels of tension with Russia, it's clear that U.S. - Russian relations are only going in one direction. This raises the prospect that we are only one unfortunate incident away from going back into full Cold War. 


Yemen struggling under weight of cholera epidemic -
UPI reports: "Two groups warned this week about the ongoing cholera epidemic in Yemen, reinvigorating calls for international humanitarian aid. The groups said Yemen is battling a slew of other problems that, coupled with the cholera crisis, are taking their toll on the country's vulnerable citizens. The United Nations, in a post Tuesday, said there have been at least 400,000 cholera cases in the country reported in the past few months. The cases have led to nearly 2,000 deaths. [...] The United Nations said the country's continued war, lack of proper sanitation systems, economic struggles and prevalent rates of poverty are worsening the cholera crisis' effects."

Comment: What a mess. I hope the Saudi coalition will quickly wrap up this civil war and restore order, that's really the only hope to contain the outbreak. On the other hand, are they helping to spread the epidemic?

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Zika probably not spread through saliva: study -
UPI reports: "Scientists have some interesting news about Zika: You're unlikely to get the virus from kissing or sharing utensils with someone. A new study with monkeys suggests that Zika doesn't appear to be transmitted through saliva. [...] Mosquitoes are the main cause of Zika infection in people. After infection, the virus remains in blood and saliva for a few weeks. And it remains in bodily fluids like breast milk for weeks and semen for months, the researchers said. [...] Most people only suffer mild symptoms when infected with Zika, but the virus has been linked to catastrophic birth defects in babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy."

Comment: This is indeed good news. Thanks and regards to the monkeys who helped in this study.