Saturday, December 26, 2015
STORMS KILL 15 IN AMERICA-AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES.ISRAEL KILLS ANOTHER ARAB TERRORIST.
Israeli officers shoot dead a knife-wielding Palestinian: police-[Reuters]-December 26, 2015- YAHOONEWS
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli policemen shot dead a Palestinian who tried to stab an officer near Jerusalem's walled Old City on Saturday, a police spokeswoman said, as almost three months of heightened violence shows no sign of abating.In the past 12 weeks Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 126 Palestinians, 77 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most others have been killed in clashes with security forces.Palestinians have killed 20 Israelis and a U.S. citizen in the same period, raising fears of a wider escalation, a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that on Saturday, officers had approached a man they viewed as suspicious. "The terrorist whipped out a knife and tried to stab a police officer. He was swiftly shot and neutralized," she said.The surge in violence since October has been fueled by Palestinians' frustration over Israel's 48-year occupation of land they seek for an independent state and the expansion of settlements in those territories which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.Palestinian leaders say a young generation sees no hope for the future living under Israeli security restrictions and with a stifled economy.The latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in April 2014.Violence has also been triggered by Muslim anger over stepped-up Israeli visits to Jerusalem's al Aqsa mosque complex. The site, Islam's holiest outside Saudi Arabia, is also revered by many Jews as a vestige of their biblical temples.Israeli leaders says Islamist groups who call for the destruction of Israel have played a major role in inciting the recent violence.(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Louise Ireland)
FIRES AND EXPLOSIONS
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
More than 100 homes lost in Australia's Christmas Day bushfires-[Reuters]-By Christopher McCall-Reuters-December 26, 2015-YAHOONEWS
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - More than 100 homes burned down in a leading Australian tourist area in bushfires on Christmas Day and the situation remained dangerous on Saturday, as officials predicted more blazes to come later in the hot southern summer.While around 500 firefighters and 13 firefighting aircraft battled the flames along parts of Victoria state's picturesque Great Ocean Road, teams moved in to assess damage from fires that had lit up the night sky along the coast on Christmas.A spokesman for the state's emergency services said 98 homes had been confirmed burned in the community of Wye River and another 18 in nearby Separation Creek, for a total of 116 in the two townships, located about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of Melbourne.Top emergency officials warned that dry conditions posed a threat of more fires for the Great Ocean Road area and the rest of Victoria."This fire doesn't go away," Craig Lapsley, the state's emergency services commissioner, told a news conference."We will be back into hot, windy weather in January without a doubt. Everything's available to burn."The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's biggest tourist draws with its spectacular scenery and unusual offshore rock formations. It remained mostly closed to traffic on Saturday during what is typically one of its busiest times of the year.Although an evacuation alert was lifted for the popular tourist town of Lorne and rain overnight had helped the firefighting operation, officials said the situation remained potentially dangerous with many hotspots. Images from the scene showed hillsides charred to the ground all the way down to the coast.State Premier Daniel Andrews surveyed the area from the air and commended emergency services, noting that there had so far been no loss of life, but he warned that the number of homes destroyed could rise.Meetings were held on Saturday for hundreds of victims urgently moved out of affected towns on Friday, many spending Christmas night in hurriedly organised shelters.Andrews said financial grants had already been issued to help those who had lost their homes.The fires started with a lightning strike on Dec. 19 and, fanned by winds, have burned more than 2,000 hectares.Walking tracks in the nearby Great Otway National Park have been closed to the public as some of the fires are within the park itself.The disaster is the latest of a string of bushfires to hit Victoria and other states in recent weeks.In 2009, Victoria witnessed Australia's worst ever bushfire disaster, since dubbed "Black Saturday".(Reporting by Chris McCall; Editing by Edmund Klamann)
CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT FIRE INFO.
Southern California Brush Fire Threatens 30 Homes-By MATTHEW FOSTER-DAVID CHIU-Dec 26, 2015, 5:08 AM ET-ABCNEWS
A brush fire in Ventura County, California, late Friday night burned 900 acres and was threatening 30 homes.The fire was burning along U.S. 101 near Solimar Beach and forced the closure of a portion of the highway, reported ABC affiliate KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara.A mandatory evacuations was in place for the Solimar Beach community while a voluntary evacuation was in effect for the Faria Beach community.# solimarfire #venturafire #hwy101 #cstreet #ventura #Carpinteria #Dec26 #californiastreet #NEWS CHANNELS pic.twitter.com/IyHGepgT9N-— Amanda Macias (@AmandaMMacias) December 26, 2015
25 And there shall be signs in the sun,(HEATING UP-SOLAR ECLIPSES) and in the moon,(MAN ON MOON-LUNAR ECLIPSES) and in the stars;(ASTEROIDS ETC) and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear,(TORNADOES,HURRICANES,STORMS) and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:(DESTRUCTION) for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.(FROM QUAKES,NUKES ETC)
RARE FULL MOON OVER B.C
Death Toll Reaches 15 After Severe Storms in South-By PAUL H.B. SHIN-DAVID CHIU-Dec 26, 2015, 6:01 AM ET-ABCNEWS
The death toll from Wednesday’s severe storms in the South has risen to at least 15.The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) said on Friday it received reports of another death and another missing person due to the severe weather system that was still affecting the state. That pushed the total number of deaths linked to the weather to eight with two others missing.Six people in Tennessee and one person in Arkansas also died in the storms.Residents Trapped Under Debris After Tornado Hits Near Birmingham, Alabama-At Least 14 Killed in Storms and Tornadoes Across the South and Midwest-Boy Among 7 Dead, 40 Injured in Tornado and Severe Storm Outbreak-Among the dead was a 7-year-old boy in Holly Springs, Mississippi, according to Mayor Kelvin Buck.The MEMA also said there were 60 storm-related injuries in Mississippi, adding that several counties reported flash flooding on Friday due to a stalled front over the state. There were 10 water rescues in Monroe County as a result of floodwaters.The storms caused damage to over 100 homes, mobile homes, and businesses, said the MEMA.Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant issued a declaration of disaster. He said Mississippi was in the recovery stage Thursday as authorities determined how much damage was caused and what federal assistance the state may qualify for.The latest number of weather-related deaths in the South came as the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down near Birmingham, Alabama on Friday. There were reportedly people trapped in damaged homes, according to Birmingham police spokesman Lt. Sean Edwards.Birmingham Mayor William Bell said there were no fatalities that officials knew of. There was one reported injury.Widespread flooding has also been reported in the Birmingham area with over 7 inches of rain in northwestern Alabama and up to 6 inches in northeastern Alabama.The heavy rainfall prompted Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to declare a state of emergency for counties in the state.Meanwhile, some spots of eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas could receive almost a foot of rain this weekend. Several rivers were expected to rapidly rise in the area and across the region.Daniel Manzo, Ben Stein, Tom Liddy, Kelly Stevenson, Emily Shapiro, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tornado causes damage, injures three in Birmingham, Alabama-Reuters-dec 26,15-yahoonews
(Reuters) - A tornado struck Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday, damaging houses, uprooting trees and injuring at least three people in the state's largest city, law enforcement and weather officials said.National Weather Service meteorologist Jody Aaron said the twister was confirmed to have touched down in the southwestern portion of town at about 5 p.m. Central time, (2300 GMT), adding, "There does appear to be some significant damage."Birmingham Police Lieutenant Sean Edwards said at least three people were taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.Edwards said several houses were damaged, trees were toppled and power was knocked out in the area, but he could provide no further information.Images published online by local media outlets showed lawns scattered with debris from what appeared to be homes and some collapsed structures.Alabama has been hit with storms and heavy rain since Wednesday, and the Weather Service issued flash flood warnings around the region for Friday.(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Steve Gorman and Dan Grebler)
Eastern U.S. sees warm Christmas, winter storm looms for Plains-Reuters By Ian Simpson and Steve Gorman-dec 26,15-yahoonews
(Reuters) - Much of the U.S. East Coast basked in unseasonable warmth on Christmas Day with record high temperatures set or tied in several cities, including New York, even as a tornado hit Alabama and a major winter storm loomed for the southern Rockies and Great Plains.The twister in Birmingham, Alabama, late on Friday afternoon damaged several homes, uprooted trees and caused a handful of minor injuries, police and weather officials reported.National Weather Service meteorologist Jody Aaron said the tornado damage appeared limited to the southwestern end of the city, the state's largest in a region of the South that has been hit hard by three days by thunderstorms and torrential rain.The most noteworthy weather phenomenon for most of Eastern Seaboard, meanwhile, was a continuing pattern of temperatures about 20 degrees above normal.The temperature in Manhattan's Central Park climbed to 66 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest Christmas Day mark in at least 146 years, while Philadelphia topped out at a record-tying 68 degrees F, according to the National Weather Service.Temperatures around Washington, D.C., reached the upper 60s and low-70s F, just a few degrees shy of record highs despite cloudy, damp weather. Both New York and Washington posted record warmth on Thursday, as well.Above-average temperatures were expected to linger along the Eastern seaboard through the holiday weekend, with heavy rains falling across much of the South and mid-Atlantic region raising the possibility of flash floods.Parts of Alabama were deluged by more than a foot of rain Wednesday evening through Friday afternoon, while Georgia also was soaked with nearly 5 inches of precipitation measured at Atlanta's airport, according to the Weather Service.But even as soggy conditions in the South begin to abate, a powerful winter storm was forming across the southern Rockies and Plains, threatening blizzard conditions for parts of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday, forecasters said.As much as 2 feet (61 cm) of snow was possible in areas of New Mexico and northern Texas, they said.Snow already was falling on Friday in parts of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota, a region bisected by heavily traveled Interstate 90."This is coming at a bad time for travel," said Richard Baan, a meteorologist for the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.Heavy rain, and possible flooding, was expected from the same system on Saturday in eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, north-central Texas and Louisiana, Baan said.A separate winter storm in California's Sierra Nevada brought more welcome relief to ski resorts struggling through a four-year drought that has left the mountain snowpack badly depleted. The two largest ski destinations near Lake Tahoe - the Heavenly Mountain Resort and Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows - reported receiving 2 feet and 19 inches of snow, respectively, on Thursday and Friday.Facing delays stemming in part from severe weather this week, package delivery company FedEx Corp said it was manning customer counters with volunteers on Christmas Day.A storm system on Wednesday set off tornadoes that killed at least 15 people in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said on Friday that two people were still missing.(Reporting and writing by Ian Simpson in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bill Trott and Dan Grebler)
Dozens feared dead after another landslide in a Myanmar jade mine-[Reuters]-By Aung Hla Tun-Reuters-December 26, 2015-YAHOONEWS
YANGON (Reuters) - Dozens of people were feared dead in Myanmar after a landslide hit a jade mining region, workers at a local mining firm said, the second such incident in just over a month.The landslide took place on Friday in Hpakant in the country's northern Kachin State, a rugged region sandwiched between China and India and the heart of Myanmar's multi-billion dollar jade industry controlled by its powerful military."We heard about 50 people were buried in the collapsed dump and four or five bodies were found this morning," Sai Lon, who works at a jade mining company in the area, told Reuters on Saturday.Police in Hpakant, in Mohnyin district, said the landslide took place on Friday afternoon but that they could not confirm casualties."We haven't heard anything from the rescue team yet," said a duty officer at Hpakant Township Police Station who declined to be named.On Nov. 22, a massive landslide in the same mountainous area in Kachin State killed 114 people. The area produces some of the world's highest-quality jade.Deaths in Myanmar's jade mines, where small time prospectors and massive firms vie for the precious stone, underscore the sector's lax safety rules and lack of accountability.Much of the jade mined in Hpakant is believed to be smuggled to neighbouring China, where the green stone is highly prized and is widely believed to bring wealth and longevity.About 800 jade mining firms operate around the town, but activity is dominated by about 10 firms, mostly Chinese-led ventures, according to the Ministry of Mines.Miners have been tearing into Myanmar's northern hills in recent months, in a rush to excavate more jade from the world's richest deposits of the gemstone before a new government, which has promised clean governance, takes office next year.The rush has led to thousands of ethnic villagers being forced off their land.The newly elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party said last month it plans to tighten control over jade mines.A U.S. ban on Myanmar jade remains in place over concerns that jade mining benefits military figures and fuels corruption and rights abuses, despite Washington easing most of its ban on imports from the country after a quasi-civilian government took power in 2011 following five decades of military dictatorship.(Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Richard Borsuk)
China landslide disaster caused by safety breaches - cabinet website-[Reuters]-December 26, 2015-YAHOONEWS
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A landslide in southern China that killed two people and left more than 70 people missing was caused by breaches of construction safety rules and was not a natural disaster, a government website quoted local authorities as saying.An investigation by a team in Shenzhen directed by China's cabinet found the Dec. 20 disaster stemmed from waste construction material in a landfill site rather than a natural geological movement, a statement posted late Friday on the cabinet's website said."Those held accountable will be seriously punished in accordance with the law," the statement said.The man-made disaster, which buried 33 buildings in an industrial park, has raised questions about China's industrial safety standards and lack of oversight that has led to fatal accidents, a by-product of the country's rapid growth.At the Shenzhen industrial park, there is still some risk of more landslides at three separate places and professionals have been brought in to deal with the issue, Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted a Shenzhen official as saying."There are also dangerous chemical items that need to be identified and treated," Yang Shengjun, head of the Shenzhen Housing and Urban-Rural Development Bureau, was quoted as saying.Yang said no air or water contamination has been detected yet, according to Xinhua.The company managing the dump site, Shenzhen Yixianglong, was urged to stop work four days before the disaster, an executive with a government-appointed monitoring agency said on Thursday.Xinhua earlier reported that the dump was being used 10 months after it was supposed to have stopped taking waste, earning Yixianglong some 7.5 million yuan ($1.16 million) in fees.(Reporting by Engen Tham in Shanghai; Editing by Richard Borsuk)
Toxic smog brings nightmare 'white Christmas' to Beijing-[Agence France-Presse]-December 25, 2015-YAHOONEWS
Beijing (AFP) - Beijing residents woke up to a white Christmas Friday morning but with the sky obscured by thick toxic smog rather than snow after more than 100 million people across China had been warned to stay indoors.The capital and surrounding parts of northern China are regularly blanketed in deadly pollution associated with heavy industry and an increase in coal consumption during the winter months.Counts of PM2.5 -- harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs -- in Beijing peaked at 620 micrograms per cubic metre as of early Friday, according to data from the US embassy.The World Health Organization's recommended maximum exposure is 25 micrograms over a 24-hour period."If this only happened a few days a year, I'd put up with it, but it's paralysing for it to be like this every day!" said one angry social media user on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform. "Is this the new normal?"The city posted contradictory alerts for Christmas day, with the Beijing Meteorological Service issuing an orange alert - requiring factories to limit expelled pollutants and schools to cease outdoor activities -- while the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau issued only a yellow alert, the second lowest in a four-tiered, colour-coded warning system.The smog is expected to last until Saturday afternoon.Photos on social media showed empty freeways shrouded in a white-out of haze as authorities shut down highways in the region and grounded flights out of the capital.More than 500 international and domestic arrivals and departures at Beijing's main airport were cancelled due to "heavy fog and low visibility", its website said."In this kind of weather, can Santa even find Beijing?" a user wrote on Sina Weibo.In the neighbouring city of Tianjin, no fewer than 19 freeways were closed early Friday morning, according to the Tianjin Freeway Management Office's official microblog, with CCTV television reporting visibility of less than five metres (15 feet)."Santa can't even get to Tianjin! I was wondering why my stocking had no gifts in it! Smog you better get out of here!" said another Weibo commentor.Beijing issued its first-ever red alert on December 7, declaring emergency pollution measures following scathing public criticism of the city's weak response to choking smog that settled on the capital earlier in the month.Its second and latest red alert, which lasted four days, concluded Tuesday night.
AP Interview: Climate deal caps a long quest for UN chief-AP Interview: UN chief relishes Paris deal after arduous, personal campaign for climate action-Associated Press By Edith m. Lederer, Associated Press-dec 26,15-yahoonews
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- When international negotiators reached a first-of-its kind climate change agreement in Paris this month, the United Nations' normally low-key leader, Ban Ki-moon, celebrated onstage, arms raised in victory and more exuberant than many had ever seen him before.Nearly nine years had passed since, in his first days as secretary-general, Ban surprised world leaders by making global warming a top item on his agenda. Now, on the eve of his final year in office, the cheers in Paris marked the culmination of his nonstop campaign, pressed at summit after summit, with every world leader and from melting glaciers to islands at risk of disappearing.It was an emotional moment, and looking back at the road to Paris in an interview with The Associated Press, Ban paid tribute to many people, including the leaders of the United States, China, India and France. He also spoke proudly of his own role.No other leader in the world "has been raising, without fail, all the time, climate change," Ban said. "I have spent real passion ... and most of my time and energy on this issue."It was quite a shift for the former South Korean foreign minister, whose main focus before becoming the eighth U.N. secretary-general in 2007 was his country's standoff with North Korea.Ban traced his interest in climate change to his yearlong campaign to lead the United Nations, which took him to many countries and broadened his vision of global issues.Two weeks before he was sworn in as secretary-general, Ban told Tim Wirth, then president of the United Nations Foundation, that one of his two highest priorities would be climate change, along with empowering women."You could have blown me away," Wirth said of Ban's choice of tackling global warming. "He had a deep commitment then, and he has stayed with it, and stayed with it, and stayed with it."At the time, climate change was not a popular topic.The 1997 Kyoto treaty, which required only rich countries to limit emissions blamed for global warming, was set to expire in 2012. Negotiations on a new agreement had almost collapsed, Ban said."I thought that I needed to revive this one," he said.His first high-level meeting as U.N. chief was with then- President George W. Bush.The original agenda for their January 2007 meeting didn't include climate change, Ban said, and Bush "seemed to be a little bit surprised" when he raised it.Undeterred, Ban decided to hold the first-ever climate change summit at the United Nations in July 2007.He invited Bush and told him that the success of the summit would depend his participation. Bush came, though he didn't address the summit.That connection paid off at a U.N. conference in Bali in December 2007.The United States, the lone major industrial nation to reject Kyoto, was opposing India's proposal to strengthen requirements for richer nations to help poorer countries with technology to limit emissions. In one of the most memorable moments in climate change diplomacy, tiny Papua New Guinea implored America to lead or get out of the way.An isolated United States capitulated, and the first roadmap for addressing climate change was adopted." Miraculously, I was able to save this one, but I didn't know why," Ban said.In early 2009, he finally found out.Ban and his wife were invited to dinner at the White House in last of the last days of the Bush presidency. Bush told the U.N. chief that when the Bali meeting reached a difficult moment, he got a call from the head of the U.S. delegation asking for instructions.Ban said Bush told him: "Suddenly, you came to my mind. Then I told the delegation head, 'Do what the secretary-general of the U.N. wants to do,'."The secretary-general said he still feels "very much grateful" to Bush."That was the beginning of our success," Ban said.But then came the disappointment of the 2009 Copenhagen climate change negotiations.In Copenhagen, a newly elected President Barack Obama showed "great commitment," even working on proposed global text from his laptop, Ban said. But there were too many differences and negotiations ended with no agreement."From the failure of Copenhagen, we learned a great lesson," Ban said.One was to have every country provide its own national action plan to combat climate change. Another was to get countries to agree to have a universal climate change agreement by 2015.Meanwhile, Ban was traveling the world to spotlight the impacts of climate change. His visits to Antarctica and the Arctic showcased melting ice, and his visits to the Aral Sea in central Asia and Lake Chad in west Africa warned of their disappearance. He visited the low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati, where he found a life jacket in his room in case of inundation.He also asked to attend annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — a first for a U.N. secretary-general — to talk to finance ministers on the need to mobilize $100 billion in climate financing annually by 2020.As the summit in Paris approached, Ban participated in monthly strategy videoconferences with the leaders of France and Peru and later, Germany. One key decision was to reverse the usual negotiations process and have country leaders attend the start of the summit to give impetus and clear direction to negotiators.The Paris opening was the largest-ever gathering of country leaders, with 150 assembled, the secretary-general said.But there were about half a dozen "spoilers," countries ready to block consensus on an agreement. Nicaragua refused to submit its national plan, arguing that rich nations should be compelled to make deeper emission cuts.Ban recalled the moment the Nicaraguan delegation said "we will not block" a deal. The French foreign minister immediately gaveled approval of the agreement, which was later adopted unanimously.The Paris agreement, adopted by nearly 200 nations, calls on both poor and rich countries to cut greenhouse gas pollution. It aims to keep global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) between now and 2100.Ban's perseverance and leadership were essential, said former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who headed a U.N.-appointed commission that published a groundbreaking report in 1987 outlining the dangers of climate change."This is not a one- man show, but the one man is important," Brundtland said.Without him, "we cannot take for granted that we would be here."Ban's priority for the rest of his term has not changed. With the climate deal imposing no sanctions for non-compliant countries, the secretary-general said he will focus on establishing a framework to ensure U.N. member states follow through on the climate change promises he worked so hard to get.
Japan says armed Chinese vessel enters Japan waters-Reuters-dec 26,15-yahoonews
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Chinese coastguard vessel with what appeared to be gun turrets entered territorial waters claimed by Japan in the East China Sea, Japan's coastguard said on Saturday, adding that it was the first such incursion by an armed Chinese vessel in the disputed area.The vessel was one of three that appeared in the waters off the disputed Senkaku Islands, known in China as the Diaoyus, shortly after 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT) and left Japanese-claimed waters about 70 minutes later, a Japan coastguard spokes woman said.The vessel had first been sighted in the area on Tuesday afternoon and was sailing 29 km (18 miles) off one of the contested islands as of 9:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) on Wednesday, according to Japan's coastguard.At that time, China said its vessels were carrying standard equipment and doing nothing wrong in Chinese waters.Chinese coastguard vessels sail regularly near the islets but the Japanese coastguard spokeswoman said none had ever been seen equipped with arms.The dispute over the Japan-controlled islands has been a major sticking point in the two countries' often contentious relations in recent years.(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Edmund Klamann)
Links to this post: