Ukraine rebels mark Soviet holiday for defenders of ‘fatherland’ (Source Yahoo News)
Thousands of men and women gathered on Lenin square in east Ukraine’s main rebel-held city Donetsk on Monday to celebrate a Soviet-era holiday and pay hommage to their fallen fighters. Military music blasted out as a cossack dressed in black and a leather-clad rocker carried an icon of the Virgin Mary with Jesus onto a stage to mark Russia’s “Defender of the Fatherland Day”, originally a celebration of the mighty Soviet Red Army. “This festival is a celebration of the army of workers and peasants,” a woman shouted into the microphone. Commanders in camouflage from the Vostok battalion of the pro-Russian separatist forces gathered on the stage to celebrate what they described as “free Donetsk”.
What Is Russia Up To in the Arctic? (Source Newsweek)The Mågerø air defense monitoring base is inside a mountain at the end of an unmarked country road two hours south of Oslo, Norway. With only a rudimentary sentry box, a simple draw gate and a lone soldier guarding its entrance, the installation looks more like the set for a movie about the Nazi occupation of the country than a key link in the country’s state-of-the-art defenses. At the end of a long, narrow tunnel into the mountain, in a cavernous room filled with computers and radar monitor screens, intelligence specialists stare at blinking icons marking the movement of aircraft around Norwegian airspace. On an all-too-typical afternoon recently, they watched as two nuclear-capable Tu-95 Russian Bear Bombers floated like fireflies across the top right of their monitors. A few desks away, an airman picked up phone and called Bodø, a military base on Norway’s northern coast. Moments later, two F-16s rose to eyeball the intruders. It turned out the Russian bombers were just practicing some kind of circling maneuver outside of Norway’s Arctic air space. But on January 28 two more Tu-95 bombers, escorted by tankers and Russia’s most advanced MiG-31 fighter jets, showed up off the coast. One of them was carrying “a nuclear payload,” according to the London Sunday Express, which cited intercepted radio traffic. And last fall, a Russian Tu-22 supersonic bomber skirting Norway’s northern airspace was photographed carrying a cruise missile in launching position, according to the Barents Observer blog. Late last year, with the world’s attention riveted on Ukraine, Putin put a little-noticed exclamation mark on his Arctic strategy. For the first time, the Kremlin’s announced military doctrine included instructions to prepare to defend Russia’s interests in the Arctic. Plans for two new Arctic army brigades were drawn up. An abandoned military base at Alakurtti, Russia, less than 30 miles from the Finnish border, was reopened. And military construction crews began refurbishing a string of Cold War–era bases on islands in the Arctic. “Our main objective is research and evaluation of conditions in the Arctic and the suitability of our weapons and equipment this far north,” Vladimir Kondratov, commander of the surface ships group of the Northern Fleet, told Russia Today.
After 3 Months, Hackers Still Plaguing State Dept. (Source newser.com) The hackers that got into the State Department’s unclassified email system three months ago are still there, and they seem to be harder to get rid of than bedbugs, insiders say. Investigators believe the hackers first got into the network through an infected link in an email that spread malware throughout the department’s systems worldwide, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. Despite repeated attempts to clear the system with the help of the NSA and outside contractors, the hackers keep trying to sneak back in with altered versions of the code. Multiple sources tell the Journal that the hack appears to be linked to the Russian government, and some of the emails taken were related to the Ukraine crisis. But Russian government hackers are believed to have capabilities close to those of the highly advanced US ones, a report from Kaspersky Lab exposed this week, so investigators aren’t sure why they were even able to detect the hack. One insider says it appears that Moscow either sent its “B-team,” or it wanted to send Washington a message by not covering its tracks.
Racist Chelsea Football Fans (Source RT) Racism rears its ugly head, as this video shows a black man in Paris forcefully pushed off a subway train by rowdy British Chelsea fans headed for a match with Paris Saint-Germain. An investigation into their identities is underway. “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” – this is the phrase they chanted during the incident, seen here in amateur video footage taken at the Richelieu-Drouot station and obtained exclusively by the Guardian. The man tried to squeeze past them several times, before being given a hard shove. The ride was delayed by three minutes as this was happening, according to British expat Paul Nolan. He told the newspaper that “the doors were open and I could see and hear that a lot of chanting was going on. It looked like it was quite aggressive so I just took out my phone to record it.” “He was obviously completely shocked when they pushed him off.
Expert: Islamic State Is ‘Apocalyptic Cult’ That Believes Jesus Will Return to Slay the Antichrist (Source theblaze.com) As the Islamic State’s brutal atrocities continue to shock the world, one of the recent developments that has not been explored in-depth is the terror group’s recently released seventh edition of its English-language magazine titled Dabiq. The document features an article that touches upon the end-times theology that experts claim drives the Islamic State’s ongoing rampage, with the text describing Islam as the “religion of the sword, not pacifism,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute. “The article also presents numerous verses from the Koran as well as prophetic hadiths that highlight Islam’s reliance on the sword in fighting its enemies,” the organization explained. “In that regard, ISIS notes that the sword will continue to be drawn against Islam’s enemies until ‘Isa (Jesus) kills the Dajjal (the Antichrist), after which, it adds, ‘Islam and its justice’ will prevail on the entire earth.” CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen claims that Dabiq provides a “key window into understanding” the Islamic State’s ideology. Explaining the end-times theology that appears to be present in the aforementioned article, Bergen said that the terror group has an ideology of an “apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS’ actions are hastening the moment when this will happen.” Bergen noted that the very name of the magazine provides further context into these end times themes, as Dabiq is the town in Syria where the Prophet Muhammad purportedly predicted that “Roman” and Islamic armies would fight the final battle that would come before the end of time, ushering in dominion for Islam. The Dabiq article indicated that the Islamic State has no plans to stop its murderous rampage against “unbelievers,” which Bergen said would square with the terror group’s belief that it has been tasked with fighting a prophetic battle in an effort to usher in a win for “true Islam.”
Oklahoma Quakes Raise Risks of Big One(Source Newser) Southern Kansas and Oklahoma are experiencing small, daily quakes linked with fracking that make a larger and more destructive earthquake much more likely, according to a new, unpublished federal study. The risk remains low—about a 1 in 2,500 years’ chance—but if true, it ranks the region among top-risk areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the AP reports. Those areas include Charleston, SC, and New Madrid, Missouri, which both suffered serious earthquakes during the past 200 years. “The more small earthquakes we have, it just simply increases the odds we’re going to have a more damaging event,” said geophysicist William Ellsworth after presenting the study to a science association. A Kansas geological official responded with, “We are worried about this, no question about it.” Meanwhile, another study says that hidden geological faults in Oklahoma are ready to to burst—including ones that were just discovered and may damage vital structures, LiveScience reports. Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the study located faults by looking at more than 3,600 recent earthquakes in Oklahoma.
USDA Approves First GMO Apple for Planting (Source Natural Society) Adding another genetically modified food to the growing list of biotech creations, the USDA has now approved the first GMO apple for commercial planting inside the United States. Slated for your dinner table, the new GMO apple is reportedly ‘resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised.’ Coming just months after the USDA approved the first genetically modified potato, the news reminds us of the USDA’s declaration to give Monsanto and other biotech organizations ‘speedy approval’ when it comes to approving genetically modified foods. In other words, less testing and more rubber stamping. According to the New York Times, the USDA ‘considered the issues’ over the new GMO apple (including the intense opposition), writing: “The Department of Agriculture, which approved the apples for commercial planting, said on Friday that it had considered these issues. However, it said that under the law, approval is based on whether a genetically modified crop poses a threat to other plants. The department determined that the apples posed no such risk…. The so-called Arctic apples — which will be available in the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties — are genetically engineered in a way to suppress the production of an enzyme that causes browning when cells in the apple are injured, from slicing, for example.” The good news? You may actually be able to identify these GMO apples by their sale name ‘Arctic’ — or perhaps an FDA-approved label that they are considered ‘non-browning’.
Pedophile priest victims urge action from pope (Source AFP) Victims of sexually abusive priests from across the Americas joined forces Monday to urge Pope Francis to allow civilian justice to punish pedophiles and those who covered up their crimes. From the United States to Argentina, Chile, Mexico and other nations, victims issued a letter made public in Mexico City telling the Argentine pontiff that “words are not enough.” The letter said that only civilian trials and Church reform will put an end to the “great holocaust of thousands of boys and girls who were sacrificed to avoid scandal and salvage the image and prestige of the Catholic Church’s representatives in the world.” The victims said the pope’s recent admonishments of sex abuse in the Church are “ambiguous and contradictory” because they do not lead to any “institutional process toward truth and justice.” The letter was read by Jose Barba, one of the victims of Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the ultra-conservative Legion of Christ order who died in 2008. He has asked victims for forgiveness, pledged to combat pedophilia and formed a Church child protection panel. This month, he issued a strongly-worded letter to bishops warning Roman Catholic clergy they must never try to cover up sexual abuse. He has also intervened in cases like one in Spain that saw 10 priests accused of sexually abusing an altar boy. While the pope voiced “great pain” and ordered a church investigation into the case, a Spanish court dropped charges against nine of the clergymen because the accuser waited too long to bring the charges. At the press conference in Mexico City, some of the victims questioned the pope’s commitment to fighting pedophilia in “We demand that the pope, at the very least, live up to his word because we can all make headlines. Enough with the headlines,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim who said he feld “deeply betrayed” by the pontiff. Julieta Anazco of Argentina said that when Francis was known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, he “never received anybody,” despite requests by victims to meet him. “We are all very sad and losing hope. We have asked for something effective to be done. We want (abusive priests) to be removed and tried” in criminal court, said Anazco, who was abused by a priest at a Church-sponsored summer camp in the 1980s.
US urges Russia, rebels to ‘immediately’ halt Ukraine attacks (Source Yahoo News) The United States called on Russia and the separatists it backs to “immediately” halt attacks in eastern Ukraine on Monday, expressing grave concern about ceasefire violations. A two-day old truce was on the verge of collapsing as fighting raged around a strategic railway hub and both sides said conditions were not met to start withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline. The worst of the violence was around the town of Debaltseve, a key city between the separatist-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, where thousands of government troops were mostly surrounded by heavily armed rebels. “The United States is gravely concerned by the deteriorating situation in and around Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We call on Russia and the separatists it backs to halt all attacks immediately, engage with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to facilitate the ceasefire, and… fully implement their September 5 and 19 Minsk commitments.” Kiev officials and rebels accused each other of ongoing attacks that prevented them from pulling back tanks, rockets and artillery from the frontline in Ukraine’s east.
U.S. judge in California considers argument marijuana law unconstitutional (Source Reuters)
A federal judge hearing the case of nine men accused of illegally growing marijuana in California said Wednesday she was taking very seriously arguments by their attorneys that the federal government has improperly classified the drug as among the most dangerous, and should throw the charges out.
Judge Kimberly J. Mueller said she would rule within 30 days on the request, which comes amid looser enforcement of U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize its recreational use in Washington state, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska. The men were charged in 2011 with growing marijuana on private and federal land in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California near the city of Redding. In their case before Mueller in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, defense lawyers have argued that U.S. law classifying pot as a Schedule One drug, which means it has no medical use and is among the most dangerous, is unconstitutional, given that 23 states have legalized the drug for medical use.