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 41 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 06:29 AM 
Started by cat777 - Last post by Rad
Hi Linda, Skywalker, Kristin, and cat

So we will begin our discussion of the Neptune transit in Pisces. Right now I simply wish for you to read what follows that we will be adding onto in the next days.

The bottom line in this transit is the ongoing evolutionary nature of the totality of all consciousness on Earth, and how this comes into the individual consciousness of the Soul. Each individual within the totality is affected in their own unique way relative to their total evolutionary conditions and, at the same time, experiencing what all other humans are experiencing in the world: the individual country where they live, and the specific groups of people in that country: whether it is Iraq, Rwanda, Ukraine, Samoa Island, etc. All of these individual consciousnesses all add up to and correlate with the total amount of humans which creates the collective consciousness so that each individual Soul’s consciousness is then simultaneously evolving at every moment in time as a REACTION to the collective consciousness ! In turn each individual Soul consciousness that is evolving according to it’s own evolutionary condition then affects the collective at any moment in time that then correlates to the evolutionary nature of the human race itself.

All of the archetypes that we have talked about that correlate with Neptune, Pisces, and the 12th House are occurring and interacting at every moment in time for each individual as well as the totality of all humans: the collective consciousness. The planetary rulers of the North and South Nodes of Neptune, Uranus and the Sun, correlate to additional archetypes that, in total, correlates to individual and collective dynamics that SERVE TO DEFINE THE NATURE OF EACH MOMENT THAT THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE COLLECTIVE IS CREATING AND EXPIERNCING.

As you at this very moment are reading these words you are experiencing the ‘world’ around you as it is: all the events going on in the world, your country, your region, your city, your group or tribe of like minded Souls, those that are closest to you, and your own individual Soul reality within all of this.

THIS IS YOUR LIVING EXPERIENCE OF NEPTUNE ! THIS IS YOUR NEPTUNE CONSCIOUSNESS RIGHT NOW, AND IN EVERY OTHER MOMENT IN TIME. THIS IS THE NATURAL TRIAD OF CONSCIOUSNESS SYMBOLIZED BY THE MOON, YOUR EGO, PLUTO YOUR SOUL, AND NEPTUNE ITSELF: YOUR INDIVIDUALIZED SOUL CONSCIOUSNESS RELATIVE TO THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS OF ALL HUMANS SOULS. 

If you have any questions please ask them of me now.

God Bless, Rad

 42 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:47 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
In the USA...United Surveillance America

Republican ACA Lies Get Thrashed and Trashed as CBO Report Is An Epic Obama Win

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Monday, April, 14th, 2014, 8:01 pm   

Here are the new estimates via the CBO:

    CBO CBO and JCT estimate that the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA will increase the proportion of the nonelderly population with insurance from roughly 80 percent in the absence of the ACA to about 84 percent in 2014 and to about 89 percent in 2016 and beyond (see Table 2). CBO and JCT project that 12 million more nonelderly people will have health insurance in 2014 than would have had it in the absence of the ACA. They also project that 19 million more people will be insured in 2015, 25 million more will be insured in 2016, and 26 million more will be insured each year from 2017 through 2024 than would have been the case without the ACA.

    Those gains in coverage will be the net result of many changes in insurance coverage relative to what would have occurred in the absence of the ACA. In 2018 and later years, 25 million people are projected to have cover- age through the exchanges, and 13 million more, on net, are projected to have coverage through Medicaid and CHIP than would have had it in the absence of the ACA. Partly offsetting those increases, however, are projected net decreases in employment-based coverage and in coverage in the non group market outside the exchanges.

    Relative to their previous projections made in February 2014, CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA’s coverage provisions will result in lower net costs to the federal government: The agencies currently project a net cost of $36 billion for 2014, $5 billion less than the previous projection for the year; and $1,383 billion for the 2015-2024 period, $104 billion less than the previous projections.

In plain English, 12 million more people will have health insurance that didn’t have it before, and the ACA is going to cost $104 billion less than previously projected. This is a huge win for President Obama and the ACA. The numbers are demonstrating that Republicans were completely and absurdly wrong about the impact of healthcare reform.

The CBO also released a table which shows a world with Obamacare, and a world without it, or the top part of the table is what Democrats have given the country, and the bottom is what things would look like if Republicans had their way:

The big takeaway is that Republicans want more people to go without healthcare. By 2024, the CBO estimates that 89% of Americans will have health insurance. This won’t be universal coverage, but it will be the closest we have ever been to everyone having access to healthcare.

Republicans have claimed for years that Obamacare will add to the deficit. The CBO said no. Republicans claim more people are losing health insurance than are getting it. The CBO slapped them upside the head with some cold hard facts. Republicans believe that Obamacare will collapse in on itself due to not enough people signing up, the CBO found that 12 million uninsured Americans will have access to healthcare in 2014 thanks to the ACA.

This report delivered an absolute drubbing to every Republican claim about the ACA. Republicans are about to make the case to 12 million uninsured Americans that they don’t need healthcare.

Republicans put all of their eggs into the repeal Obamacare basket, but now the basket has a big hole in the bottom, and the eggs are all over the GOP’s faces.

*****************

Kentucky Democrat Connects the Dots and Drops a Truth Bomb on ACA Repealing Republicans

By: Sarah Jones
PoliticusUSA
Monday, April, 14th, 2014, 5:28 pm   

And this is how a U.S. House candidate does it in a red state where enrollment in Obamacare was “surging” in the lead up to the deadline, with over 400,000 enrolled. Kentucky Democratic congressional candidate Elisabeth Jensen embraced Obamacare and called out Republicans for wanting to repeal it, but she called it something else. Something local.

In a new radio ad, Jensen is not only embracing Obamacare, but blasting Republicans Rep. Andy Barr and Senator Mitch McConnell for threatening to repeal….

Kentucky Kynect.

Yes, Kentucky Kynect is Obamacare but shhhhh! Remember the fellow who was so sure Kentucky Kynect was better than Obamacare? He likes his Kentucky Kynect and he doesn’t want to lose it.

Lexington Herald-Leader (via Greg Sargent at Washington Post) reported:

    “Thanks to Gov. Beshear, Kentucky Kynect provides health care to Kentuckians who had no insurance,” Jensen says in the ad. “But Barr, along with Mitch McConnell, voted to end Kynect and let insurance companies drop coverage, deny care and charge women more.”

    The ad says that Barr has voted to repeal the controversial health care law 19 times and charges that the congressman has taken $148,000 in contributions from insurance companies.

    “I often say Kentucky moms like me get more done by noon than Congress gets done in a week,” Jensen says in the ad. “So when I learned Congressman Andy Barr voted 19 times to repeal health care reform, I was disappointed.”

This is how a Democratic candidate runs on the moral argument for affordable healthcare access via Obamacare, in a state where the name isn’t so popular and neither is the President, but the President is actually more popular than the state’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell. Yeah, it seems complicated but it’s not.

You run against Mitch McConnell, and for Obamacare — but under a different name.

Elisabeth Jensen is running for a more localized House seat — as compared to a Senate race — in Kentucky’s 6th district, which has “changed hands multiple times in the last decade”, according to Emily’s List. It never hurts to drop a truth bomb about affordable healthcare on Republicans.

Because, as Greg Sargent noted in the Washington Post, in spite of the evidence, Mitch McConnell “remains 1000 percent convinced that the law is an ongoing policy catastrophe that will never be anything other than an irrevocable political disaster for Democrats.”

A January Kentucky Health Issues Poll showed that a large majority of Kentucky adults from all demographics supported the state’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage, as offered under Obamacare. Given that more than half a million people were uninsured in Kentucky before Obamacare, it was pure logic to predict that Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell would be proven wrong when they said their constituents didn’t want any Obamacare.

Governor Beshear has been making the moral case for Obamacare, and shocking Republicans by blasting them for their failure to care about Kentuckians, which opened the door for Democratic candidates to run on the morality of taking care of our own.

Sure, they might have to call it by another name, but it’s Obamacare. It’s the very thing Republicans said no one would want. And it’s the very thing Republicans were so sure was going to assure them a victory in 2014, as if everything would be a 2010 repeat. But of course, the law is now implemented and the benefits are becoming clearer in spite of the GOP’s fear mongering campaign.

In 2014 they’re going to run on it under a different name. In 2016, they’ll be lining up to say they supported Obamacare back before it was cool to do so. This is what the GOP/Koch Brothers are so afraid of.

***************

Another Republican Goes Down as Rick Perry Is The Focus Of a Criminal Investigation

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Monday, April, 14th, 2014, 9:35 am   

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has lawyered up as the criminal investigation into whether he illegally withheld money from a district attorney’s office is gaining steam.

According to the American-Statesman:

    Gov. Rick Perry has retained a high-profile Austin defense lawyer to represent him in a criminal investigation into whether he illegally withheld money from the Travis County district attorney’s office, the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV confirmed Sunday.

    The hiring of David L. Botsford is the latest signal that the inquiry into Perry’s conduct might be gaining momentum after a seven-month investigation.

If this case reminds you of another Republican governor who wants to run for president, but is trapped in his own web of self created scandals, it should. Perry got himself into hot water by threating to withhold $7.5 million in funding unless the Democratic Travis County DA resigned. Perry wanted her to resign after she was convicted of a DWI. The Democrat promised not to run for reelection, but refused to resign.

Perry’s actions put a cloud of uncertainty over hundreds of criminal investigations and were illegal. The governor can’t withhold funding in order to pressure another elected official to resign. The matter of the DA and her DWI is an issue between her and the voters.

Gov. Perry’s actions are very similar to what Chris Christie is being accused of doing in New Jersey. Christie is accused of withholding Sandy aid, unless political favors were granted to his campaign donors. Both Christie and Perry have White House dreams in 2016, and both may be undone by their own criminal abuses of power.

****************

In a Twofer, Wendy Davis Busts Abbott and Key Advisor on Standardized Testing for Pre-K

By: Adalia Woodbury
PoliticusUSA
Monday, April, 14th, 2014, 10:18 pm   

What does Greg Abbott’s reliance on Charles Murray for his education policy and the specific provision of standardized testing for four-year-olds have in common?  According to Abbott, both are just for informational purposes. Nothing to worry about here.

Davis persisted on the point including when she outlined her education policy in Corpus Christi last week.

As Sarah Jones explained, Abbott was already on the ropes,

    The pre-K brawl is going down just like the fight over Fair Pay brawl: The Texas Republican says and does some foolish things, and then walks them back and tries to claim they don’t mean what they mean, and then eventually Democrat Wendy Davis clobbers him with his own policies by simply revealing them to the public.

Today, Wendy Davis can declare victory because Jim Windham, a key Abbott adviser and Chairman of the Texas Institute for Education Reform, came clean.

    We do need diagnostics to determine the needs of the child and efficacy of the methodologies being used. There have been a number of normed Pre-K assessments that evaluate vocabulary and fluency very easily.

The Davis campaign documented Windham’s long history of supporting standardized tests in articles he wrote.  So Wendy Davis isn’t relying on gotcha questions by media tricksters or by snippets of quotes taken out of context.  She has Windham with his own words.

In an article published on October 7, 2012 Windham wrote:

“For the past year in almost every available venue, opponents of high stakes standardized assessments of public school student achievement have been droning on about the perceived oppression of the Texas public school accountability system, which has been rated by national education organizations as having produced the best high school graduation standard in the country when fully implemented.”

Zac Petkanas, Wendy Davis’ communication director, commented on Windham’s admission made earlier on Monday.

    Someone forgot to tell Jim Windham that the part of Abbott’s pre-k plan that calls for standardized testing is there for ‘informational purposes only …. Despite the Abbott campaign’s claims to the contrary, there can be no doubt that Greg Abbott’s plan would impose standardized testing onto 4 year olds now that their education advisor admitted it at an official campaign event.

Someone might want to tell Abbott and his key adviser on education that on-line newspaper articles are a lot like video tape.  Once you’ve said it, it’s forever because on-line publications keep archives.

The Texas Press has been busy exposing Abbott’s lies about standardized testing.  Here are a few examples.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“The $118 million Abbott plan calls for lawmakers to require school districts with pre-K programs to administer assessments at the beginning and end of the school year in an effort to measure the quality of such programs. One of those assessments referenced in Abbott’s plan is standardized testing.”

Kera News:

“One of the candidates’ biggest slug-fests over Pre-K has focused on Abbott’s call for assessing what these four-year olds have learned and how that would be done.  A paragraph in Abbott’s 22- page plan says standardized testing is one way of doing that.”

KUT

“Abbott’s plan would grant an additional $1500 per pre-k student in districts that agree to meet new “gold” standards, a determination that would be made through testing and other assessments.”

The last time Wendy Davis caught Abbott in a lie, Abbott took the coward’s way out by being a no show for a scheduled press conference.  Abbott was busted by his own policy statement. When he finally surfaced, Abbot played the “just for informational purposes” card.

This time, Abbott and his key advisor were caught in a blatant lie, completed with proof that Windham’s long history of favoring standardized tests.  Moreover, the media has rejected his “just for informational purposes” excuse.  Any bets on which card Abbott will try to play this time?

****************

The Public Seeing What GOP Doesn’t Want Them to See – That Tax Burden is Unfair

By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
PoliticusUSA
Tuesday, April, 15th, 2014, 7:15 am      

Taxation played a role in the coming of the American Revolution (everyone is familiar with the cry, “No taxation without representation”) and it is leading to unrest today as Republicans in bill after bill give tax cuts to the rich, adding to the tax burden of the middle class and poor to pay the 1 percent’s way to overseas tax shelters and villas, and on top of it off, suppress the vote of those on whom the burden mostly (and unfairly) falls.

Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance poll reveals, “a robust majority, 61%, believe that upper-income people pay too little.” Perhaps more telling,

    Nearly half of Americans, 49%, believe middle-income people — a group many Americans consider themselves part of — pay too much in taxes, up from 42% a year ago and the highest Gallup has found since 1999. At the same time, the 42% who say middle-income Americans pay their “fair share” in taxes is down 11 percentage points from last year.

What’s shocking is the number of people – largely Republicans who have drunk the Kool Aid – who say that the poor pay to little in taxes. That’s right. It’s not the rich who don’t pay enough. It’s the poor.

Tax Burden Lower Income

Gallup reveals that while a “plurality of Americans, 41%, say lower-income people pay too much in taxes” and “a third of Americans say the lower-income pay their fair share,” a staggering “23% say they pay too little, one point off the record high from 2012.”

    More broadly, Gallup’s two-decade trend shows a clear increase in the percentage of Americans who believe the lower-income pay too little in taxes. The figure varied from 8% to 12% throughout the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s. It then jumped to between 13% and 17% in the late 2000s, and has consistently been near or above 20% since 2010.

What gives?

You only have to look as far as the Republican Party and it’s class warfare narrative of poor, greedy graspers wanting to have something that doesn’t belong to them. Gallup says that “A plurality of Republicans (40%) believe lower-income individuals pay too little in federal income taxes, far higher than the 22% of independents and 11% of Democrats who think so.”

Tax Burderns of Different Income Groups

But in 2011, The Huffington Post looked at the problem and concluded that,

    Contrary to the rhetoric from Republicans that half of Americans are not paying income taxes, at the state level the poor are paying more than twice as much of their income toward taxes than the super rich. At the same time poverty levels have risen to highs not seen since 1993, with 15.1 percent of Americans officially classified as poor.

    But those in the bottom 20 percent pay closer to 12 or 13 percent of their income in state and local taxes on average. The top 1 percent of income earners only pay 7 to 8 percent, according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.

    While the lowest 20 percent often pay 7 percent of their income in sales and excise taxes each year, the top 1 percent pay less than 1 percent of their income toward sales taxes.

According to HuffPo, “An analysis by ITEP concludes these excise taxes are 22 times harder on the poor than the rich, and 11 times harder on middle-income families than the rich.”

None of these facts matter to the Republican narrative, of course. Facts are cast aside in favor of demonizing the poor and elevating the rich to near divine status for things that have never, and will never do – that is, create jobs – and moreover something they have no interest in doing. The money, in the 1 percent’s view, is better spent on themselves.

To make matters worse, according to a new CNN study, the legislators writing our tax laws have an attitude of “do as I say, not as I do” as they seem unable – or unwilling – to pay their own taxes and then compound their sins by denying they never paid them in the first place.

*************

Pastor John Hagee: Tuesday’s ‘blood moon’ eclipse signals the end of the world

By David Edwards
Raw Story
Monday, April 14, 2014 12:43 EDT

Pastor John Hagee is warning members of his megachurch to prepare for the end of the world because a “blood moon” eclipse on Tuesday is signaling that the End Times could be beginning.

On Tuesday, most of the United States will be treated to the first of four complete lunar eclipses — which scientists call a tetrad — occurring in six month intervals. The eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons” because as sunlight shines on the moon through the Earth’s atmosphere, it gives the moon a red color.

Hagee, pastor of Texas’ Cornerstone Church, has written a book on the phenomenon titled Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. And he is airing a live television event on Tuesday to reveal “direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.”

“Is this the end of the age?” Hagee asked during a recent sermon, before quoting Acts 2:19-20: And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

“I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that he has been sending signals to planet Earth,” he explained. “God is literally screaming at the world, ‘I’m coming soon.’”

Hagee predicted that the four eclipses were signaling a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.”

“God sends plant Earth a signal that something big is about to happen! He’s controlling the Sun and the moon right now to send our generation a signal, but the question is, are we getting it?”

Watch the video below from Full Tree Ministries, broadcast April 14, 2014.

Click the watch the fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxO63s6ccDc


 43 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:33 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Disease threatens to wipe out most of the world’s bananas

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, April 14, 2014 8:58 EDT

The United Nations warned on Monday of the potential “massive destruction” of the world’s banana crop if a disease affecting the most popular variety spreads from Asia to Africa and the Middle East.

The disease is “posing a serious threat to production and export” of bananas, the fourth most important food crop for the world’s least developed countries, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement.

“Countries need to act now if we are to avoid the worst-case scenario, which is massive destruction of much of the world’s banana crop,” Fazil Dusunceli, a plant pathologist at FAO, was quoted as saying.

Gianluca Gondolini, secretary of the World Banana Forum, said it could hurt “employment and government revenues in many tropical countries”.

The TR4 strain of Panama disease, which is one of the world’s most destructive and affects the Cavendish variety — the most popular in global exports.

FAO said it had already caused significant losses over the last two decades in Southeast Asia and cases had recently been reported in Jordan and Mozambique.

It has not yet affected top global exporters such as Colombia or Ecuador.

The disease is soil-borne and the fungus can remain viable for decades and is not dangerous to humans.

The FAO said there was a need for more monitoring, prevention and training for farm workers, including measures to avoid movement of infected soil and planting materials into and out of farms.

[Women sell bananas in Hampi, India via Shutterstock.com]

 44 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:26 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
After Fire, Picturesque Hills of Chilean Port City Are Left in Ruin

By PASCALE BONNEFOY
APRIL 14, 2014
IHT

SANTIAGO, Chile — Two days after wind-borne flames ravaged the steep hills surrounding Valparaíso, many slopes of colorful houses that gave the slender port city a picture-postcard landscape have been reduced to rings of ruins.

Firefighters, some brought in from other parts of the country, were still combating outbreaks of fire on Monday, supported by 21 aircraft. “This is the largest air operation to combat fire in the country’s history,” President Michelle Bachelet said Monday morning after a cabinet meeting in Santiago, the capital.

At least 15 people died as a result of the fire over the weekend, according to Chilean authorities. One of them, Edgardo Herrera, 53, suffered a heart attack on Sunday evening after seeing the ruins of his relatives’ home. At least 2,500 homes were burned to the ground, leaving about 11,000 people homeless, government officials said. Over a thousand people were staying in shelters on Monday.

Hundreds of volunteers, including neighbors whose homes were spared, have flocked to the scorched hilltops to help families remove debris and salvage what they can, or have brought them food, water and clothing. Shelters also have been established for the many stray animals.

With the city now under military control, 3,000 police officers and soldiers patrolled the streets. Five people remained hospitalized with burns, and more than 300 have received emergency medical treatment, according to the director of the Valparaíso-San Antonio Health Service, Dr. Ramón García.

Throughout the country and even abroad, volunteer agencies, local governments, social and political organizations, individuals, and schools mounted campaigns for food, clothing and other essential goods, and opened bank accounts for donations.

The cause of the fire was still unknown. But critics say that lack of urban planning and government neglect of the impoverished communities on the hilltops contributed to the disaster just as much as the wind and heat.

For decades, Valparaíso has expanded with no regulation or urban planning, leading to improvised, chaotic collections of wooden houses along high roads and gorges, which are often used as informal waste dumps. Many fire hydrants did not work on Saturday when the fire first broke out, and emergency vehicles were not able to reach some neighborhoods because of the curved, narrow roads, or because there were no roads at all.

“These hills have been spontaneously occupied by families without meeting any basic urban requirements. It’s not their fault,” said Ximena Bórquez, a director of the Association of Architects and a specialist in urban planning. “Houses should never have been built in some of these areas. We have always known that, but no government agency ever prevented that from happening.”

 45 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:25 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Nigerian bus station hit by deadly explosion

At least 71 feared dead after blast in outskirts of capital, Abuja, as hundreds of commuters travelled to work

Monica Mark in Lagos
theguardian.com, Monday 14 April 2014 10.32 BST   

An explosion ripped through a busy commuter bus station in the outskirts of Nigeria's capital on Monday, killing 71 and injuring at least 124 people.

The attack by Islamist insurgents Boko Haram was the group's first in Abuja in two years and the deadliest.

The blast ripped a hole 1.2 metres (4ft) deep in the ground of Nyanya motor park, about 10 miles from the city centre, and destroyed more than 30 vehicles, causing secondary explosions as their fuel tanks ignited and burned.

Security experts suspect the explosion was inside a vehicle, said Air Commodore Charles Otegbade, director of search and rescue operations. Hundreds had packed into the bus station which serves Nyanya, a poor, ethnically and religiously mixed satellite town whose residents commute to the city.

A hospital source said the death toll was likely to rise as more bodies and injured were being brought into nine hospitals around the city centre. At the motor park, bloody remains lay strewn over the ground as security forces struggled to hold back a crowd of onlookers and fire crews hosed down a bus holding the charred bodies of commuters.

Bus driver Julius Kayode described how he was having a cup of morning tea with co-workers when he and his colleagues noticed a man carrying a bag push his way into an idle bus nearby. The man darted out of the bus a few seconds later, disappearing into the rush hour crowds.

"We noticed because we try to be alert about these things. We were just talking about how he was behaving suspiciously when the explosion went off. I just started running – I could feel people just running everywhere, anyhow," said Kayode, holding up his broken glasses and gesturing at his blood-stained shirt.

Seven of his colleagues were among the 71 confirmed deaths.

Mallam Jibrin, a civil servant, said he narrowly escaped a secondary blast. "I was waiting for my bus to fill up, but immediately the first explosion happened I put my head out the window and slipped out to the ground. When I found my legs I just started running. I later discovered the fire had completely destroyed my own bus," said Jibrin, who returned to look for a co-worker.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who has placed three north-eastern states under a state of emergency since May last year, visited the site of the blasts, and expressed condolences. "Government is doing everything to make sure we move our country forward even with these unnecessary distractions that are pushing us back. We will get over it," he said.

The bombing came less than 24 hours after at least 68 civilians were gunned down in remote towns in Boko Haram's traditional north-eastern base, and underscores the vulnerability of Nigeria's federal capital. Abuja was built in the 1980s in Nigeria's geographic centre to replace coastal Lagos as the seat of government for what is now Africa's biggest economy, most populous country and top oil producer.

Officials said security agents have been places on "red alert" throughout the capital, and advised citizens to avoid crowded areas.

A Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, killed 37 people in 2011, although the main suspect in that attack is now behind bars. Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the United Nations' Nigeria headquarters that killed 24 people on 26 August 2011.

The military has claimed that it had the extremists on the run with near daily air bombardments and ground assaults on hideouts in forests and mountain caves along the border with Cameroon.

At least 1,500 have been killed this year alone, largely civilians as the group has turned to softer targets.

In a video released by the sect this month, leader Abubakar Shekau called for supporters to wage a "one-man-jihad", echoing a new tactic being advocated by similar extremist groups. "There are two kinds of people in this world; those who are with us and those against us. I will kill those in the latter group, wherever I see them," he said.

 46 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:23 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Jordanian ambassador to Tripoli abducted by gunmen

Libyan authorities confirm Fawaz Aitan has been kidnapped in attack that left his driver wounded

Agence France-Presse in Tripoli
theguardian.com, Tuesday 15 April 2014 10.25 BST   

Gunmen travelling in two cars on Tuesday abducted the Jordanian ambassador to Tripoli, Fawaz Aitan, in an attack that left his driver wounded, Libyan authorities have said.

It is the latest incident in which Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats have been targeted in the north African country, three years after Nato-backed rebels ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

"The Jordanian ambassador was kidnapped this morning. His convoy was attacked by a group of hooded men on board two civilian cars," ministry spokesman Said Lassoued said.

A security official said the ambassador's driver suffered gunshot wounds during the kidnapping.

The government in Amman confirmed the kidnapping. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafie said investigations were under way.

The abduction comes two days after Libya's prime minister Abdullah al-Thani stepped down, saying he and his family had been the victims of a "traitorous" armed attack the previous day.

In January, gunmen kidnapped five Egyptian diplomats in Tripoli and held them for several hours.

The US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other US citizens were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012, three months after a convoy carrying the British ambassador to Libya, Dominic Asquith, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Benghazi, wounding two guards.

 47 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:21 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Sudan's President Bans Political Party Meetings

by Naharnet Newsdesk
15 April 2014, 12:41

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has issued a decree banning political parties from holding meetings without permission from the authorities, the official SUNA news agency reported.

The decree comes just a week after Bashir assured a meeting of party leaders they had freedom to operate in the run-up to a "national dialogue" he has promised to hold to address urgent demands for change in his 25-year regime.

"No political party has the right to hold meetings and conferences inside their areas without first obtaining permission from the relevant authorities," SUNA late on Monday reported the decree as reading.

At the April 6 meeting in Khartoum, Bashir assured party leaders they were free to conduct activities inside or outside their offices, "according to law".

A day later, however, the Reform Now party said security agents had prevented it from holding a discussion forum and had detained the leader of its student wing, Emad Al-Dien Hashim.

Reform Now was formed in December by Bashir's ex-adviser Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani after the ruling National Congress Party ousted him.

Critics have said Bashir's political dialogue is just a way for the elite to hang on to power without properly addressing the country's problems.

An alliance of small opposition parties has refused to join the dialogue, which Bashir announced in January, unless the government meets several conditions.

These include declaring a ceasefire with the country's armed rebels, and abolishing all laws that restrict freedoms.

The Revolutionary Front, which comprises insurgent groups from Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, on Sunday rejected participation in the dialogue, describing it as a "farce".

 48 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:20 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Philippine Rebels Slam Military Killings despite Peace Deal

by Naharnet Newsdesk
15 April 2014, 12:11

The Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group on Tuesday denounced the killing of four of its members in clashes with soldiers, just two weeks after a peace deal was signed to end their decades-old conflict.

The military has acknowledged that gunmen from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were among 20 people killed in a shootout on a remote southern island Friday as security forces pursued Islamic militants blamed for beheadings and kidnappings.

"Four of our members were martyred," MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar told reporters.

Officials have said the clashes on Basilan island broke out while local MILF members were helping the military to arrest fighters from the Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

The MILF has asked an international committee monitoring the ceasefire between the Philippines and the rebel group to investigate who was to blame for Friday's violence, Jaafar said.

The fighting broke out two weeks after the MILF signed a political settlement to end more than four decades of an armed conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the mainly Catholic nation's Muslim south.

The peace deal aims to create an autonomous Muslim area in the south by early next year, with the MILF expected to disarm and put up candidates for a regional parliament in May 2016.

Jaafar said the government and the MILF were currently enjoying a "honeymoon" period.

"We do not want this agreement to be disturbed by such unwanted incidents initiated by the military," he added.

Military spokesmen said 18 gunmen from the MILF and Abu Sayyaf were killed. Two soldiers died and 28 others were wounded.

Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said the operation had been coordinated with MILF officials, and that it targeted Abu Sayyaf members who are not covered by any ceasefire.

But he said that at one point, the soldiers noticed that the Abu Sayyaf gunmen were being reinforced by unidentified fighters.

"If there were MILF forces, they were never meant as a target... It is possible they joined (the Abu Sayyaf) as individuals and not as MILF (members)," he told AFP.

Military chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista also alleged on Tuesday that a small number of MILF guerrillas had helped relatives in the Abu Sayyaf ranks.

"The MILF should deal with them," Bautista told reporters.

Jaafar said the allegations had yet to be proven.

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 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:19 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
N. Korea Marks Kim Il-Sung Birthday with Loyalty Pledge

by Naharnet Newsdesk
15 April 2014, 07:10

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un paid respects to his grandfather Kim Il-Sung as the country marked the birthday Tuesday of its late founder with renewed calls for loyalty to the ruling Kim dynasty.

At the stroke of midnight, Kim Jong-Un, accompanied by top military leaders, visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang -- the mausoleum holding the embalmed body of his grandfather, the North's official KCNA news agency said.

The similarly preserved body of Kim's father, Kim Jong-Il, whom he succeeded as leader in December 2011, is housed in the same building.

"Kim Jong-Un, together with other visitors, paid homage to Kim Il-Sung in the humblest reverence for him," KCNA reported.

Kim Il-Sung died of a heart attack in 1994. His birthday is known as the Day of Sun in North Korea and is a major national holiday.

The centenary of his birth in 2012 was marked by a major military parade and Kim Jong-Un's first public speech.

There were no indications of a similar parade being prepared Tuesday, but the South's Yonhap news agency cited officials as saying Pyongyang might be readying a symbolic show of military force.

"Artillery pieces including multiple rocket launches and self-propelled guns are being assembled near Pyongyang," it quoted an unidentified government official as saying.

The official said it was "highly likely" the North may carry out a large scale drill on Friday, to coincide with the end of South Korea's annual joint military exercises with the United States.

In an address to top military, party and government leaders to mark Tuesday's holiday, the North's nominal head of state, Kim Yong-Nam, urged all military personnel to pledge their loyalty to Kim Jong-Un.

"Being loyal to Comrade Kim Jong-Un's leadership is the decisive guarantee to carry forward with the Great Comrade Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il's thoughts and accomplishments," he was quoted as saying by the ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun.

 50 
 on: Apr 15, 2014, 05:17 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
S. Korea Spy Chief Apologizes over Forgery Scandal

by Naharnet Newsdesk
15 April 2014, 07:13

South Korea's intelligence chief vowed a "bone-crushing" overhaul of his embattled agency as he apologized Tuesday for a scandal that saw senior agents charged with fabricating evidence in an espionage case.

"I feel deeply pained for letting this happen... and feel tremendous responsibility," Nam Jae-Joon told reporters in a rare press appearance.

His apology came a day after the agency's deputy chief stepped down.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) was accused of forging documents -- including Chinese border control records -- to build a false spying case against a former Seoul city official who had escaped to South Korea from the North in 2004.

State prosecutors launched a probe in February when China confirmed that the documents were not authentic, and Nam came under intense pressure from politicians and rights activists to step down.

But Seoul prosecutors on the case concluded Monday that they did not believe the forgery was part of a larger operation orchestrated by the NIS leadership.

President Park Geun-Hye said she regretted the concern caused to the public by the lack of internal oversight at the NIS, and said the agency needed to "reinvent" itself.

"If such an event that deepens public distrust happens again, then it will be strictly held accountable," Park said.

So far charges of fabricating evidence have been brought against three NIS agents.

Another agent attempted suicide last month during the prosecutors' probe and he will be charged when released from hospital, prosecutors said Monday.

Nam vowed to overhaul the agency's investigative methods in line with "changing times" and to win back public trust.

"We will take this opportunity to re-evaluate our investigative methods, root out wrong customs and conduct a bone-crushing overhaul of our system, so that things like this will never happen again," he said.

But he also warned of the dangers of undermining the NIS at a time of heightened military tensions with North Korea.

Since February, the North has test-fired dozens of short-range missiles and two mid-range missiles, and also threatened to conduct another nuclear test.

"I feel tremendous grief that the NIS -- the bulwark of our national security -- is being shaken like this in such a grave time," Nam said, pleading for public support.

The spy agency -- which has changed titles over the years -- had a particularly notorious reputation in the decades of authoritarian rule before South Korea embraced democracy in the 1980s.

The modern-day NIS has also been tainted by a series of scandals, most recently the admission by some agents that they meddled in the 2012 presidential election.

Nam's predecessor as NIS chief, Won Sei-Hoon, was convicted last month of taking bribes and jailed for two years.

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