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Archive for the ‘Imperial Land of Impeda’ Category

Massive Winter Storm Kills 9 in Midwest, Stretches 1,400 Miles to Mid-Atlantic

by Olivia Rosane

Jan. 14, 2019

A massive winter storm dumped snow on the midwest Friday, killing at least nine, before moving east to bring snow and freezing rain to the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas Saturday and Sunday, AccuWeather reported.

“We have a strong snowstorm that’s stretching 1,400 miles from Kansas to the East Coast,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. “St. Louis is seeing its worst snowstorm in five years. We’re going to see a significant snow event for the mid-Atlantic to start the year for 2019.”

The storm prompted winter storm warnings or advisories for more than 35 million people in the Ohio River Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions. Heavy snowfall in the Midwest and eastern U.S. is consistent with predictions about the impacts of climate change, Climate Communication explained, as a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which can fall as greater amounts of snow when the conditions are right.

The town of Montgomery City, Missouri, which is to the northwest of St. Louis, got 20 inches of snow, CNN reported.

The storm was deadliest in Missouri, where four people died in car accidents, including a 53-year-old woman and her 14-year-old relative, The Washington Post reported. The state saw more than 800 crashes and 57 injuries.

In Kansas, three people died including one 62-year-old man who lost control of his car. In Illinois, Illinois State Police Trooper Christopher Lambert was struck by a vehicle and killed while standing outside his car at the scene of another crash.

“Trooper Lambert deliberately placed his vehicle in a position to protect the lives of the victims of the previous crash, and took on the danger himself,” Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz Schmitz said in a statement reported by The Washington Post. “He will be remembered for his dedication to the Illinois State Police and for giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve the citizens of Illinois.”

A ninth death took place in Indiana, AccuWeather reported.

The storm then moved east Saturday and Sunday. North Carolina reported more than 125,000 power outages Sunday as freezing rain caused ice to accumulate.

Parts of Virginia and Maryland received up to six or seven inches of snow, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, The Washington Post reported. In the nation’s capital, seven inches of snowfall led to the cancellation of at least 500 flights as of Sunday afternoon and the temporary suspension of the city’s metrobus service, AccuWeather reported. The storm is the biggest Washington, DC has seen since 2016.

Source: EcoWatch.



US alarmed as Zimbabwe targets, beats activists amid unrest

January 17, 2019

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe said Thursday it is “alarmed” by credible reports that security forces are targeting and beating activists and labor leaders after a local doctors’ rights group said it had treated 68 gunshot cases and scores of other cases of assault.

The U.S. also urged Zimbabwe’s government to restore access to social media as the country faces its worst unrest since deadly post-election violence in August. Zimbabweans this week heeded a nationwide stay-at-home call after the government dramatically increased fuel prices, making gasoline in the economically shattered country the world’s most expensive.

Hungry residents of the capital, Harare, on Wednesday reported being tear-gassed by police as they ventured out to seek food. “Are we at war?” one resident asked. The city was quiet on Thursday as people stayed home, with schools and many shops closed and soldiers controlling long lines at the few gas stations open.

Zimbabwe’s state security minister late Wednesday said more than 600 people have been arrested. Prominent pastor and activist Evan Mawarire was in court in Harare on Thursday, accused of inciting violence online. He had been bundled into a police car while clutching a Bible.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa while traveling overseas has denounced what he called “wanton violence and cynical destruction” but appeared to side with authorities who blame the opposition for the unrest. He had announced the more than doubling of fuel prices shortly before leaving the country.

Zimbabweans had briefly rejoiced when Mnangagwa succeeded longtime leader Robert Mugabe, who was forced out in late 2017, thinking the new president would deliver on his refrain that the country “is open for business.” But frustration has risen over the lack of improvement in the collapsed economy, which doesn’t even have a currency of its own.

While Mnangagwa makes an extended overseas trip that will include a stop at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to plead for more foreign investment, former military commander and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, a hardliner, is in charge at home.

In a grim recounting of alleged police violence this week, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said late Wednesday it had treated 68 cases of gunshot wounds and 100-plus other cases of “assaults with sharp objects, booted feet, baton sticks” and more.

It noted bites from the alleged unleashing of police dogs, and the “dragging of patients with life-threatening conditions” to court. Death tolls this week have varied. Eight people were killed on Monday when police and military fired on crowds, Amnesty International said. Zimbabwe’s government said three people were killed, including a policeman stoned to death by an angry crowd.

The demonstrations amount to “terrorism,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said, blaming the opposition. In announcing the hundreds of arrests, State Security Minister Owen Ncube thanked security forces for “standing firm.”

Some Zimbabweans said the lack of social media meant they didn’t know the situation and preferred to stay in their homes. “I can’t tell whether it’s safe or not, why should I take a risk?” said Elsy Shamba in Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb, one of the areas where residents said soldiers indiscriminately assaulted people earlier in the week.

Pentagon withdrawing all U.S. forces from Syria

DEC. 19, 2018

By Clyde Hughes and Danielle Haynes

Dec. 19 (UPI) — The U.S. military is preparing for a full withdrawal from Syria, in a move that will pull about 2,000 service members from the country and signal a major Middle East policy shift.

U.S. troops have been training local forces to combat Islamic State militants in Syria, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. The withdrawal will be “full” and “rapid,” CNN reported.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders acknowledged the pullout in a statement Wednesday.

“Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate,” she said. “These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign.

“We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign. The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists’ territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders.”

Partners in northeast Syria have been told of the withdrawal, a senior administration official told reporters. The Pentagon, though, will maintain about 5,000 troops in neighboring Iraq and the ability to launch attacks into Syria, if needed. The Syrian government has long called for U.S. forces to leave the country.

The official said about 1 percent of the Islamic State remains active in Syria, a figure the United States believes can be eliminated by regional partners.

“We are under no illusions that ISIS at large or the scourge of Sunni tyranny has gone away,” the administration official said.

The official offered no timeline for how quickly troops will be removed from Syria or how many have already left.

The announcement appeared to indicate a sudden shift in U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Earlier this month, the U.S.-led coalition said there were no plans for a change.

“Any reports indicating a change in the U.S. position with respect is false and designed to sow confusion and chaos,” the coalition said in a statement.

News of a U.S. pullout comes a day after Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed that a panel to draw up a new Syrian Constitution will meet next month.

Diplomats from the three countries agreed at the end of a meeting in Switzerland on Tuesday the 150-body committee will convene for the first time in January.

“We have agreed to take efforts aimed at convening the first session of the Syrian constitution committee early next year,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a statement after the meeting.

“These steps will lead to the launch of a viable and lasting Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, U.N.-facilitated political process.”

The three nations, which support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, failed to agree on the makeup of the committee, however.

The body was expected to have 50 representatives from the Syrian government, 50 representatives from the opposition, and 50 “independent” delegates picked by the United Nations. The Syrian government, though, pushed back on the independent candidates’ portion and objected outright to some of the U.N. delegates.

The creation of a new Constitution for Syria is at the center of the country’s seven-year civil war and a political struggle by Assad. The United States has rejected any proposed peace deal that leaves him in power.

Assad said a new Syrian Constitution is not needed and the existing law only needs tweaking, The New Arab reported. The United Nations and United States believe a new Constitution is needed to guarantee free elections.

Syria’s civil war has lasted for seven years and has killed more than 500,000 people. Millions more have fled their homes in the war-ravaged country.

“Slowly, we are reaching a conclusion,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. “We have reached an important step in our work toward the Syrian constitutional committee.”

Source: United Press International (UPI).


Japan reviewing purchase of 100 more U.S. F-35 fighter jets

NOV. 27, 2018

By Elizabeth Shim

Nov. 27 (UPI) — Japan is considering the purchase of an additional 100 F-35 fighter jets from the United States in a bid to deter China and appease U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a Japanese press report.

The Nikkei reported Tuesday the measure is being pursued following “pressure” from Trump on Japan to buy more U.S. weapons.

Japan could also be building its military in response to trends in China. Beijing deployed its latest stealth fighter, the J-20, in February. China also plans to introduce 250 fifth-generation fighter jets by 2030, according to the Nikkei.

Tokyo already retains a fleet of 42 F-35 fighters. Some of the new jets, if purchased, would replace older F-15 jets.

The new weapons are costly, and the Japanese government could spend upward of $87 million per fighter jet. Japan wants to acquire both the F-35A and F-35B type jets for its fleet.

The report comes two months after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Abe reportedly told Trump acquiring high-performance weapons is important for Japan’s defense capabilities.

Japan could also be considering purchasing the E-2D Hawkeye Early Warning Aircraft.

As direct threats from North Korea have subsided, Japan is turning its attention to China’s military.

Xinhua reported Sunday work has begun on China’s new generation aircraft carrier, the Type 002.

The Type 002 comes more than a year after its predecessor, the Type 001A, was launched as the first domestically built vessel of its kind in China.

Naval sources told the South China Morning Post work on a fourth carrier was “postponed,” because of trade disputes with the United States.

“Beijing doesn’t want to upset Washington further — the economy has already slowed since the two countries started their trade disputes,” the source said, according to the Post.

Source: United Press International (UPI).


Protesters disrupt US fossil fuel event at UN climate talks

December 10, 2018

KATOWICE, Poland (AP) — Protesters disrupted a U.S. government event at United Nations climate talks Monday, criticizing the Trump administration’s policy of backing the extraction of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

About 100 people from groups representing indigenous peoples and youth stood up and chanted “Keep it in the ground” near the beginning of the American presentation. As cameras swarmed around them, some of the protesters explained the extraction of coal, oil and natural gas affects their communities.

The U.S. event, titled “U.S. Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism,” took place on the sidelines of the ongoing U.N. meeting in Katowice, Poland. After several minutes, the activists left the room chanting “Shame on you.” Their actions mirrored a similar protest during a U.S.-hosted panel at last year’s U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Wells Griffith, a Trump administration adviser at the Department of Energy, said after the interruption that the United States would continue extracting fossil fuels, including through hydraulic fracking. Speaking at the event, Griffith warned against “alarmism” over climate change, adding that “all energy sources are important, and they will be utilized unapologetically.”

The panel’s premise — that fossil fuels can be made “clean” through innovation — stands at odds with recommendations from scientists who say countries should transition to renewable energy sources as soon as possible or risk catastrophic levels of global warming by the end of the century.

Investors, too, have backed a shift away from fossil fuels. On Monday, 415 pension funds and insurance companies, with over $32 trillion in assets, called on governments to phase out coal-fired power plants and put a meaningful price on carbon to help tackle climate change.

Jan Erik Saugestad, the chief executive of Storebrand, a Norwegian fund that manages $85 billion in assets, said even highly efficient coal plants are highly damaging to the environment and carbon capture technology — touted by some as a way to pull emissions out of the air again — isn’t economical.

“Investors are not going to be sold fake news on coal, which seeks to mask the rapid decline of the U.S. coal industry and disregards the solar and wind growth markets,” said Saugestad. Even as the Trump administration promoted coal abroad, new figures show coal consumption by the U.S. power grid this year will be the lowest since 1979 as a wave of coal-fired power plants shut down.

Andrew Light, a former U.S. State Department official, said the U.S. event was unlikely to affect the landmark Paris agreement to limit global warming. Most of the world’s countries are signatories to the 2015 agreement, while President Donald Trump has said he will withdraw the United States from it.

“This event has the audience of one person and that is President Trump,” said Light, who is now a senior adviser with the environmental group World Resources Institute. He said the U.S. government’s arguments were more likely to upset than win over other governments represented at the talks in Katowice.

Over the weekend, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait prevented endorsement of a scientific report on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) — the most ambitious target in the 2015 Paris climate accord. The State Department said U.S. officials didn’t discuss their position in advance with the other countries.

Washington sent a small delegation to the summit in Poland because the U.S. is technically still part of the accord. Ministers and senior officials arrived Monday in Katowice for the second half of the meeting, which still has numerous hurdles to take before the scheduled end on Dec. 14.

Michal Kurtyka, the Polish official who is presiding over the talks, said Monday it was his “deepest wish” to have a successful conclusion. “It is in the hands of parties and it will be a success of (the) parties or it will be our collective failure,” he said.

Philippines arrests US priest accused of abusing altar boys

December 06, 2018

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine immigration authorities have arrested an American Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting altar boys in a remote central town in a case one official described as “shocking and appalling.”

The Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, who has been indicted in Ohio for illicit sexual conduct in the Philippines, was arrested in a church in Naval town in the island province of Biliran on Wednesday, Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said Thursday.

An Ohio court had issued a warrant for the arrest of 77-year-old Hendricks, who has been living in the Philippines for 37 years, Sandoval said, adding that the U.S. criminal case stemmed from complaints from the alleged Filipino victims.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. Embassy, Philippine Catholic Church officials or Hendricks, who was flown to Manila and detained in an immigration detention center. The suspect allegedly abused seven victims, who served mostly as altar boys in Naval, in 50 counts of molestation in his residence in a case that’s “both shocking and appalling,” Sandoval said.

“The victims were in his house and the abuses were committed while he was taking a bath with each of them,” Sandoval said by telephone. U.S. authorities provided information about the alleged sexual assaults to the Philippine government, she said.

The victims were reportedly warned they would be locked up in jail if they told anyone about the abuses, she said. “Several of his victims have come forward with their statements,” Sandoval said. The U.S. Embassy may revoke Hendrick’s passport to help Philippine authorities immediately deport the priest, the immigration bureau said in a statement.

Hendricks is “a fugitive from justice that poses a risk to public safety and security,” Sandoval said. “We will not allow sexual predators to prey on our children. People like him must be kicked out and banned from the Philippines.”

US, British war dead honored at site where Revolution began

November 09, 2018

BOSTON (AP) — The British are coming again — this time in friendship. A memorial honoring fallen soldiers from the U.S. and Britain is being dedicated this month, and the venue couldn’t be more ironic: Boston’s historic Old North Church, where the American Revolution pitting rebellious colonists against English troops basically began.

“It’s the one place in Boston where you wouldn’t expect this to happen,” said Simon Boyd, a British-born real estate executive and Royal Air Force veteran leading the initiative. On April 18, 1775, two lanterns were displayed from the steeple of the church — a prearranged signal from Paul Revere that the British were heading to Lexington and Concord by sea across the Charles River rather than by land. That event, immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” ignited the war of independence from Britain.

But Old North Church, Boston’s oldest surviving house of worship and the city’s most-visited historical site, since has become a symbol of Anglo-American affection. Every year on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11 — the date World War I ended in 1918 — the church built in 1723 has held a special remembrance service for Britons living in or near Boston, complete with bagpipes and poppies. This year’s commemoration will fall precisely on the 100th anniversary of the bloody Great War’s end.

Since 2005, Old North Church also has hosted a touching tribute to American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the courtyard of the church, jingling like wind chimes, hang nearly 7,000 blank military dog tags — one set of tags for every U.S. life lost.

The new memorial, a bronze wreath, will honor British and other Commonwealth forces who perished alongside U.S. forces in both campaigns. And a bronze plaque will explain the meaning of the dog tags to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who pause to pay homage each year while walking Boston’s Freedom Trail — a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) route that takes visitors past the church, Revere’s house and other historic landmarks.

“We once were enemies, but we’ve long since gotten over that,” said the Rev. Stephen Ayres, vicar of Old North Church. “We’re now a go-to church for the British community in Boston. That’s part of the improbability and wonder of Old North.”

Bruce Brooksbank, the Iraq-Afghanistan memorial’s volunteer caretaker, remembers how soldiers in the 1960s and ’70s were disrespected when they returned home from Vietnam. “This is my own little chance to make amends,” he said.

Fittingly, two top soldiers from both countries will join forces on Nov. 17 to unveil the wreath and plaque, both paid for by The Soldiers Fund, a Boston-based nonprofit that supports U.S. and British soldiers, veterans and their families.

Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under President Barack Obama who now oversees USA Basketball, and retired Gen. Sir Mike Jackson, who held the highest post in the British Army from 2003-2006, will preside over the unveiling. Both will speak at a Soldiers Fund dinner in Boston that evening.

There’s another tie that binds, said Boyd, who chairs the board of the Soldiers Fund: In 1917, Massachusetts sent one of the largest U.S. regiments to fight in WWI, naively dubbed “the war to end all wars.”

“We’re commemorating British and American lives lost, at a church where Paul Revere said with his lanterns that the British were coming,” he said. “It’s really all kind of come full circle.”

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