JNI Media – August 15, 2018
In a televised address marking the 12th anniversary of the end of the 34-day Second Lebanon War with Israel in 2006, Hezbollah general secretary Hassan Nasrallah boasted that his forces were stronger than the Israeli army and prepared for a fresh war with Israel.
Nasrallah claimed that the Trump administration was “mistaken” in thinking sanctions would lead to riots in Iran that would topple the regime, or even force Iran to reduce support for activity abroad.
Last week the US began restoring sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in May. The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its support for international terrorism, its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programs.
“Iran has been facing sanctions since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979,” Nasrallah said. “He (Trump) is strengthening the sanctions but they have been there since 1979 and Iran stayed and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the victory of its revolution.”
The Hezbollah leader spoke to thousands of supporters gathered at a rally south of Beirut, where they watched his speech on giant screens as it was broadcast from a secret location.
Iran has been backing Hezbollah financially and militarily since the terror group was established after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
DW – August 17, 2018
Time has done little to soften Nicola Sturgeon’s view of Brexit. In June 2016, the day after the referendum, the Scottish first minister declared that a second vote on independence was “on the table” after almost two-thirds of Scots voted to remain in the European Union.
More than two years later, the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader remains implacably opposed to leaving the European Union. Most of her compatriots feel the same: Polls indicate Scottish support for staying in the EU has risen further in recent months.
But opinion remains divided on what Scotland should do about the prospect of leaving the EU. On Saturday about 600 people are expected to attend a rally in Edinburgh in support of another vote on Brexit, as part of a summer of action coordinated by the People’s Vote campaign.
Almost half of Scots would like a vote on the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union, according to recent polls. But Sturgeon — who has said that both a second referendum on Brexit and on Scottish independence are possible — has so far stopped short of backing calls for a so-called people’s vote.
Darius Shahtahmasebi – August 16, 2018
The entire planet is swimming in debt, yet no one seems to criticize the system itself as being fundamentally flawed.
“A man in debt is so far a slave,” American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once reportedly said.
In light of this statement, I contend that I don’t need to have a college degree in economics to tell you that our current financial system enslaving the entire world is not sustainable – and headed for one hell of a spectacularly ugly crash.
Last month, the Washington-based Institute of International Finance published their latest statistics indicating that global debt had reached $247.2 trillion by the end of March this year, an increase of 11.1 percent from last year alone. In other words, since the start of this year, global debt rose by a whopping $8 trillion in just three to four months.
In 2016, the global debt was already at $164 trillion, which was equivalent to 225 percent of global GDP. The global debt-to GDP ratio currently exceeds 318 percent, having risen for the first time since the third quarter of 2016. Just the US debt to GDP ratio alone currently exceeds 100 percent. This debt-to-GDP ratio is 12 percentage points higher than in 2009, during the aftermath of the global financial crisis. We are now at levels not seen since during the 1980s and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects this to continue on an upward trend.
According to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the pace of the debt increase in this first quarter is a concern, noting that the quality of the debt has declined as well. Perhaps I do need that college degree after all, because it is beyond me how different debts have different qualities. Debt is debt, and right now the entire globe is drowning in it.
TW – August 15, 2018
British Columbia has declared a province-wide state of emergency on August 15, 2018, due to raging wildfires. Although 2018 is already the 4th worst season on record, it’s still far behind record-breaking 2017. Previous declarations were in 1996, 2003 and 2017, which lasted 10 weeks.
As of early August 15, there were 566 wildfires burning in the province. There are 29 active evacuation orders impacting around 2 050 people and 48 evacuation centers affecting 18 720 people.
Over 3 300 firefighters and contractors are involved in fighting the fires, including 1 427 B.C. contract personnel and 436 out-of-province personnel from Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Parks Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.
So far this year, more than 380 000 ha (939 000 acres) have been burned by wildfires, making it the fourth worst season on record.
The worst B.C. season so far was 2017 with 1 216 083 ha (3 005 006 acres), followed by 1958 with 855 968 ha (2 115 142 acres), 1961 with 483 097 ha (1 193 758 acres), 2018 with 381 443 ha (942 566 acres) so far and 2014 with 369 168 ha (912 233 acres).
Maggie Fox – August15, 2018
A new kind of tick is causing an epidemic of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Mexico, and it’s threatening to spread to the U.S., researchers said Wednesday.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is already dangerous, and the new carrier is more likely to bite people than the ticks that usually spread it, the team of U.S. and Mexican researchers said.
As ticks in general become more common as the climate warms, they’re a bigger threat, they added.
“Rocky Mountain spotted fever, caused by the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii, is responsible for more human deaths than any other tick-borne disease in North America,” the team wrote in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever was reported in 4,269 people in the U.S. in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can kill up to 10 percent of victims, depending on the outbreak.
It’s usually spread by the American dog tick and the closely related Rocky Mountain wood tick. But in recent years the bacterial infection has also been spread by the brown dog tick — a completely different species.
Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D. – August 14, 2018
The Italian bishops conference announced Tuesday that changes to the Lord’s Prayer proposed by Pope Francis will take effect in Italy this November.
Last December, Pope Francis proposed changing the text of the Lord’s Prayer, or “Our Father,” saying the current translations are flawed because they suggest that God could be the source of temptation.
“This is not a good translation,” the pope said in an interview on Italian television, referring to the Italian text of the line: “Lead us not into temptation.”
A better rendering of the petition would be: “Do not let me fall into temptation,” Francis said.
“I am the one who falls, but God isn’t the one who throws me into temptation and then looks on to see how I fell. A father does not do this; a father helps us get up immediately,” he said.
The new Italian text of the prayer will no longer read, “lead us not into temptation,” but “do not abandon us into temptation,” the Italian bishops said.
Oli Smith – August 13, 2018
An apocalyptic computer model, processed by one of the world’s largest computers in 1973, has predicted the end of civilization by 2040.
The prediction came from a programme nicknamed World One, which was developed by a team of MIT researchers and processed by Australia’s largest computer.
It was originally devised by computer pioneer Jay Forrester, after he was tasked by the Club of Rome to develop a model of global sustainability.
However, the shocking result of the computer calculations showed that the level of pollution and population would cause a global collapse by 2040.
This shows that the world cannot sustain the current level of population and industrial growth for more than two decades.
Australian broadcaster ABC has republished its original report from the 1970s, since there is just two years until a major change is expected according to the computer model.
The model based its predictions on trends such as pollution levels, population growth, availability of natural resources and quality of life on earth.
The eerie calculation has been remarkably accurate in certain predictions, such as a stagnated quality of life and diminishing pool of natural resources.
Eric Cortellessa – August 10, 2018
WASHINGTON — The United States condemned the Hamas terror group on Thursday for launching some 180 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli population centers and defended Israel’s military response in the worst exchange of fire since the 2014 war.
The State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs Heather Nauert told reporters that Israel was justified in responding with force to Hamas projectiles targeting Israeli towns and cities.
“It’s a very concerning situation,” she said. “We condemn the launching of missile attacks into Israel and call for an end to the destructive violence,” she said. “We fully support Israel’s right to defend itself and to take actions to prevent provocations of that nature.”
Hamas fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and into Thursday, including one barrage that slammed into the town of Sderot, and another at Beersheba, marking the first time the city had been targeted since 2014’s 51-day war.
Zoe Papadakis – August 8, 2018
One U.S. dollar will buy you nearly 925,000 gallons of gasoline in Venezuela, which may sound like a dream come true, but the harsh reality is that the country is facing possibly the worst economic crisis in modern history, The Drive reported.
For five years Venezuela has been locked in a brutal recession, with hyperinflation of the Venezuelan bolivar approaching 1 million percent.
Foreign exchange reserves have fallen by about $2.5 billion in the past few months while the government has defaulted on most of the outstanding bonds, which are estimated to amount to $60 billion, Business Insider noted.
The situation is dire.
Venezuelans are starving amid food shortages, Reuters reported, and now the government of President Nicolás Maduro is losing support after his alleged attempted assassination over the weekend.
Venezuela has held on to its fuel subsidies that have made it one of the cheapest places to buy gas and, as The Drive noted, for years a tank of 91-octane fuel has cost less than a bottle of soda.
Fuel retail price covers less than 5 percent of the cost of production and the remainder has to be made up by the government.
ANDI JATMIKO – August 8, 2018
TANJUNG, Indonesia (AP) — The Indonesian island of Lombok was shaken by a third big earthquake in little more than a week Thursday as the official death toll from an earlier quake topped 300.
The strong aftershock, measured at magnitude 5.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey, caused panic, damage to buildings, landslides and injuries. It was centered in the northwest of the island and didn’t have the potential to cause a tsunami, Indonesia’s geological agency said.
Videos showed rubble strewn across streets and clouds of dust enveloping buildings. In northern Lombok, some people leaped from their vehicles on a traffic jammed road while an elderly woman standing in the back of a pickup truck wailed “God is Great.” An Associated Press reporter in the provincial capital Mataram saw people injured by the tremor and a hospital moved patients outside.
The aftershock had caused more “trauma,” said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Wiranto, Indonesia’s top security minister, told reporters the death toll from Sunday’s magnitude 7.0 quake had risen to 319. The announcement came after an inter-agency meeting was called to resolve wildly different figures from different agencies.