World Events and the Bible

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Moscow Warns against Assad Ouster

The removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power will do nothing to end the 19-month civil war in Syria but will only escalate the violence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“It is like daydreaming to speculate on the subject, to the effect that if the [Syrian] government is overthrown everything will fall into place,” Lavrov said after a meeting with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

“If this is a priority for somebody, bloodshed will continue, and for quite a while, too.”

“Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people,” he added.

There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict as mercenaries fighting on the side of the Syrian insurgents keep arriving in the country from neighboring states, the minister noted.

Lavrov said on Monday Moscow was disappointed by the failure of a United Nations-brokered ceasefire, but there was little sense in blaming either side.

Western powers have condemned both Russia and China for their repeated refusal to back UN sanctions against Assad’s regime, which the United Nations has accused of complicity in the massacre of unarmed civilians. Russia says the UN resolutions contain a pro-rebel bias and that both sides are to blame for the continued fighting, which Syrian rights groups say has claimed up to 35,000 lives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of last year’s “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign. – RIAN

World Events and the Bible: It would seem we are closing in on the fulfillment of this prophesey. The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. – Isaiah 17:1

East Coast Fuel Shortage to Last Weeks

Power outages at hundreds of gas stations and a distribution bottleneck due to flooding damage and power loss has caused a gasoline shortage in the New York metropolitan area that may not be cleared up for at least a week, according to industry experts.

What was a problem for drivers when Super Storm Sandy ended two days ago has become a nightmare for frazzled motorists who find themselves in gas lines that can stretch on for hours. Some lines were hundreds of cars long in sections of New Jersey and New York Thursday, and in a number of locations police monitored the lines which interfered with traffic flow in some areas.
The problem is not gasoline supplies, but the ability to distribute it, especially from the critical terminal area around Linden, N.J., which lost power and was hit by storm surge. An estimated 75 percent or more of the gas stations in New Jersey were closed either because they had no gasoline, no power or both, said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the N.J. Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association. His organization represents about 1,000 gasoline stations in N.J.

“What I’m seeing is there’s a combination of problems. Power is at the root of it. That means gasoline that is already in inventory, already refined in those big tanks you see along the side of the turnpike, they can‘t get that gasoline into the delivery trucks without power,” said Risalvato.

Those “white tanks” along the New Jersey turnpike are gasoline terminals, owned by a number of companies, and the question for the industry is how quickly can normal operations resume after power is restored. A number of New Jersey based companies, like NuStar [NU 39.24 -0.06 (-0.15%) ] and Shell’s Motiva, reported that the storm surge drove water into the terminal areas, and it is unclear when they will be operational. One NuStar Energy executive estimated the marine terminals at his site could take four to six weeks to repair. – CNBC

World Events and the Bible: This is one of many reasons you should always have some stock of food and any other resources you may need during time of trouble…

Staten Island Residents: ‘We Need Food, We Need Clothing’

The residents of Staten Island are pleading for help from elected officials, begging for gasoline, food and clothing three days after Sandy slammed the New York City borough.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!”

Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power. Many are homeless, and at least 19 people died on Staten Island because of the storm.

One of the devastated neighborhoods was overwhelmed by a violent surge of water. Residents described a super-sized wave as high as 20 feet, with water rushing into the streets like rapids. – ABC

The Other Hurricane Sandy: The Storm’s Impact in Haiti

Hurricane Sandy was already a prolific killer by the time it ravaged the Jersey Shore, flooded New York’s subway system, and turned Queens’s scenic Breezy Point neighborhood into an ashen crater.

Before making landfall in the United States, Sandy swept through the central Caribbean, directly hitting Jamaica and Cuba, and dropping more than 20 inches of rain on a country already well acquainted with the blunt force of nature: Haiti. The storm killed 52 Haitians, flooded much of the country’s south, and displaced over 18,000 families. Up to 400,000 Haitians are still living in camps for those left homeless by the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake. A subsequent cholera outbreak — which most likely originated with U.N. peacekeepers stationed in the country — killed up to 7,500 people. And while Haiti’s 2011 presidential election might have demonstrated that the country’s democratic development wouldn’t be delayed on account of the earthquake, it was still a contentious affair that culminated in the elevation of Michele Martelly, a former pop singer with no prior political experience. There is never a “good” time for a killer storm to strike, but Sandy slammed into a highly vulnerable country that was struggling to emerge from a long spell of instability.

Major storms pose an especially daunting challenge for countries with a limited capacity for coping with them. Haiti certainly qualifies, although according to Eduardo Gamarra of Florida International University, the country is in a better position to cope with a devastating weather event than it was in the chaotic year or so after the earthquake struck. Crucially, Martelly’s government, which has received mixed reviews from Haitians, has pushed for people to move out of post-earthquake refugee camps.

“The objective of the government over the last 18 months has been to try to get people out of tents,” Gamarra said. “And in a sense, they’ve managed to avert a greater disaster by doing that. If the hurricane had struck when these people where still in those tents the damage would have been greater and a lot more people would have been exposed.”  – The Atlantic

Hurricane Sandy: Small Town USA

The massive storm that started out as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast and morphed into a huge and problematic system, killing at least 75 people in the United States. Power outages now stand at more than 4.6 million homes and businesses, down from a peak of 8.5 million. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening, state by state.


Patience is tested again as residents weather another long stretch without power in a state where outages have become a political issue after repeated storms. Deaths: 3. Power outages: 378,000, down from a peak of more than 345,000.


Governor lifts state of emergency and authorizes National Guard to continue cleanup support. Shelters close. Deaths: none. Power outages: 500, down from more than 45,000.


The last remnants of Sandy drop more snow in the mountains on top of a foot that already fell. Deaths: none. Power outages: 3,000.


Amtrak’s Downeaster resumes service. Governor sends forest rangers to New York City to help with recovery there. Deaths: none. Power outages: 3,300, down from more than 90,000.


Residents return to polls after storm forced cancellation of early voting for two days. Deaths: 3. Power outages: 47,345, down from 290,000.


Storm shifted a dead whale that had been left to rot on the shoreline to a spot where scientists can now recover the bones before it is buried. Deaths: none. Power outages: 19,500, down from 400,000.


Cargo shipping on the Great Lakes resumes after high waves subside. Deaths: none. Power outages: 10,000, down from 154,000.


Surprise “microburst” from vestiges of storm topples pines onto lake cottages. Trick-or-treating postponed to Sunday. Deaths: 1. Power outages: 16,000, down from 210,000.


Debate rages about whether to rebuild delicate but popular barrier islands a day after President Barack Obama tours them by air. National Guard delivers food and water to people in flooded Hoboken. Deaths: 14. Power outages: 1.76 million, down from 2.7 million.


New York City subways partially reopen, but streets are still choked with traffic. LaGuardia Airport set to reopen; the city’s other two major airports already started limited flights. It could be days before power is fully restored. Deaths: 30, including 22 in New York City. Power outages: 1.6 million, down from 2.2 million.


Sea search continues for the captain of a tall ship that sank. Deaths: 2. Power outages: mostly restored.


Cleanup begins after another day of steady rains and gusty winds that led to flood warnings along Lake Erie. Deaths: 2. Power outages: 100,000, down from more than 250,000.


Utility crews struggle to restore power in state where most damage was driven by wind, not water. Deaths: 12. Power outages: 525,000, down from 1.2 million.


Power outages and impassable roads mean some residents may not be able to return home for days in some coastal communities. Deaths: none. Power outages: 35,000, down from more than 122,000.


Elizabethton businesses close off a street and cover sidewalks for trick-or-treaters as snow falls in mountainous areas. Deaths: none. Power outages: minimal.


Amtrak works to restore service to the state after tracks were damaged in other areas. Deaths: none. Power outages: mostly restored, down from more than 10,000.


National Guard winds down most recovery operations. U.S. Navy sends three Virginia-based ships toward the Northeast in case they’re needed. Deaths: 2. Power outages: 9,300, down from more than 180,000.


Early voting resumes after being shut down for two days, and hours are extended. Federal workers return, National Mall reopens. Deaths: none. Power outages: mostly restored, down from 25,000.


Last remnants of Sandy drop more snow; some areas have seen nearly 3 feet. Eight buildings collapse in Nicholas County; no injuries reported. Deaths: 6. Power outages: 154,000, down from about 271,000. – Photos @ HuffingtonPost

FCC: Sandy downed 25 percent of cell towers

Hurricane Sandy has pulled down around 25 percent of the U.S.’ wireless companies’ cell sites in the 10 states affected by the storm, federal regulators said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told reporters that most of the cell towers still operational are being powered by generators but could run out fuel before domestic electricity service is restored to the affected areas, reports the Associated Press news agency.

In spite of the downed trees and the massive power outages, the landline phone network has held up better in the affected 10 states hit by Sandy than the cell networks have. That said, more than a quarter of landline customers are affected by outages in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York City and state.

However, the FCC did not give an estimate to how many users were affected by the cell outages.
911 call centers have held up well, according to the regulator, but some are affected by the power outages and are re-routing calls to other centers outside of callers’ nearby locations.

“The storm is not over. And our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile networks because of the flooding and loss of power,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a conference call late yesterday.

Out of the major U.S. cellular networks, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile all said they would continue to “assess the damage” left by Sandy, but did not have a time frame of when services might be up and running again. – ZD Net

A Nation In Crisis

By: Brandon T. Ward

What a sad week of events we have here in the United States of America… Hurricane Sandy, the Superstorm has absolutely shredded New York City. The subway system is under water, the stock exchange is just getting back up on its feet after being down for two days. The last time that occurred was in 1888. The current death toll measures at 50 with scores injured. The damage is already estimated at fifty billion dollars.

Read More

Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record High

Unemployment in the eurozone has risen to a new high, with Spain recording the highest jobless rate with more than one in four out of work.

There are now 18.49 million people without jobs in the 17 countries sharing the euro, European statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday, with an extra 146,000 joining the ranks of the unemployed last month. The jobless rate increased to 11.6% in September, the highest on record, from a revised 11.5% in August.

“With surveys suggesting that firms are becoming more reluctant to hire, the eurozone unemployment rate looks set to rise further, placing more pressure on struggling households,” said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics.

The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.4%), Luxembourg (5.2%), Germany and the Netherlands (both 5.4%), which are near full employment. Spain (25.8%) and Greece (25.1% in July) had the highest unemployment in the eurozone, while France looks much like Italy (both at 10.8%), with a steady rise in joblessness. August data for Greece will be published next week, although the true picture is probably worse, as a growing number of Greek workers remain nominally employed but have not been paid for some time.

Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight, said the jobless data was “dismal”, adding: “Eurozone labour markets remain under serious pressure from ongoing weakened economic activity and low business confidence.”

Youth unemployment also hit a new high in Spain with 54.2% of under-25-year-olds out of work, up from 53.8%.

Across the whole European Union, 25.751 million men and women were without jobs last month – an increase of 169,000 from August – while the unemployment rate stayed at 10.6%. – Guardian

Looters ‘swipe’ up the mess in chaos zones

Hurricane Sandy brought out the worst yesterday in some sleazy New Yorkers, who looted stores and homes across the city.

Some posed as Con Ed workers to dupe their victims.

Police arrested more than a dozen looters in the Rockaways and Coney Island, which had been evacuated, and stood guard outside ravaged stores at the South Street Seaport.

“This morning when they told us the water receded, I walked back to the house to feed [my pets],” said Eric Martine, 33, a cabby who lives in Brooklyn’s Gerritsen Beach. “Guys were looting, pretending they were Con Ed and holding people up. It was sick.”

Residents said police warned them to beware of crooks pretending to be utility workers.
Cops fanned out yesterday to deal with looters around the city.

“We will not tolerate these scumbags looting. We will arrest them on sight,” said a police source.

The storm knocked out the plate-glass windows of several Seaport stores, and piggish punks took full advantage of the unguarded merchandise.

“I saw two people walking by the Ann Taylor store and reach in and take some shirts that were just laying right there by the mannequin,” said one man. “It’s really messed up, man. They’re really taking advantage.” – NY Post

Superstorm Sandy Claims Atleast 50 Lives

The scale of the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy is mounting today as the death toll continues to rise – currently 50 people across the US and Canada have been reported dead, but the final figure is expected to be significantly higher.

President Obama declared a ‘major disaster’ in New York and Long Island as flooded streets were littered with cars, homes were razed to the ground and tankers washed up on shore.

The President warned that Sandy ‘is not yet over’ and announced that he would visit New Jersey on Wednesday to visit the scenes of the destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in New York and the transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway are all out of action after a 13ft wall of water caused by the storm surge and high tides brought severe flooding to subways and road tunnels.

Sandy, one of the biggest storms to ever descend on the country, hit the mainland at 6.30pm local time yesterday having laid waste to large parts of the coast during the day.

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80mph sustained winds, cut power to more than 7.4 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the death toll in the America’s most populous city is up to ten – two children, aged 11 and 13, were killed instantly in the city by a falling tree. Many of the total number of victims were said to have been killed by falling trees.

Nearly 200 firefighters spent the night battling to get a blaze under control in the Queens, but over 80 homes were flattened in the fire. – Photos @ DailyMail

Rep. Wolf: State Dept. ‘Unable or Unwilling’ to Address Concerns of Vulnerable Christians in Middle East

Contending that the “Arab spring” has made non-Muslim religious minorities in the Middle East more vulnerable than ever, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is voicing frustration over the State Department holding up a Senate bill to appoint a special envoy focusing on the issue.

“I am concerned that time is running out – both in terms of the legislative calendar for this year and in terms of the plight of these communities,” he wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last week.

“[D]espite the strategic imperative and the moral obligation to act, the State Department seems unable or unwilling to address the issue with the urgency it demands,” he wrote.

Wolf, who introduced a House bill creating the envoy post – it passed last year with strong bipartisan support – attributes the block to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and says Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) also has disregarded his requests for a hearing on the matter.

Webb’s spokesman declined to comment, but last July he told the State Department had advised the senator that the appointment of a special envoy would be “unnecessary, duplicative, and likely counterproductive.”

In his letter to Clinton, Wolf wrote that Webb also had indicated he was uncomfortable about the legislation moving ahead without being subject to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Wolf had written to Kerry on July 23 requesting such a hearing, to no avail. – CNS News

Sen. Graham: Obama move on defense layoff notices ‘patently illegal’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says that he will do anything he can to block the Obama administration from reimbursing defense contractors for severance costs if the firms don’t send layoff notices to employees.

The Obama administration issued guidance Friday that said defense firms’ costs would be covered if they have to layoff workers due to canceled contracts under the across-the-board cuts set to take effect Jan. 2.
  The layoff notices have become a politically charged issue because they could have come just four days ahead of the election because of a 60-day notice required by federal law for mass layoffs.

Graham and other Republicans were livid after the Obama administration issued the guidance on Friday telling contractors that their legal costs would be covered due to canceled contracts under sequestration, but only if they did not issue layoff notices before sequestration occurs — and before the November election.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure not one taxpayer dollar is spent reimbursing companies for failure to comply with WARN Act,” Graham told The Hill in a phone interview Monday. “That is so beyond the pale — I think it’s patently illegal.” – The Hill

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