Weather

Strong storms on Tuesday pounded portions of the West, dropping record-setting rain in northern Nevada, flooding roads and disrupting flights in Phoenix, and dumping enough snow at the top of the Sierra to close a mountain highway pass. In Phoenix, no flights arrived or left Sky Harbor International Airport for about a half-hour because of winds as strong as 70 mph, lightning, golf ball-sized hail and rain. Earlier in the day, the storm halted all flights for nearly an hour and delayed many more as planes backed up on runways. Mesa fire Capt. Forrest Smith said a microburst downed 19 power poles, at least three of which landed on homes. In all, 38 homes were damaged by the storm, 12 severely, and about 100 people were displaced. At least 10,000 people were without power throughout metro Phoenix. A power line fell across busy Interstate 17 in central Phoenix, shutting down traffic in both directions.

A tornado touched down in the community of Bellemont, Arizona, just west-northwest of Flagstaff on Interstate 40 on Wednesday morning, The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Flagstaff reported. A National Weather Service employee reports extensive damage to businesses, damage to roofs and fences, a derailed train and several trucks overturned.

Days of torrential rain triggered landslides and flash floods in eastern Indonesia, killing at least 26 people and destroying hundreds of homes, More than 60 were sent to hospitals with injuries. Officials and witnesses said Tuesday. Residents in Wasior, a village in a hilly corner of West Papua province, combed the mud in search of missing relatives. Some had to be evacuated by helicopter,.

The death toll from floods in central Vietnam has risen to 13 with five others still missing. Authorities have evacuated more than 17,000 people from their flooded homes in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces. Hundreds of soldiers and militiamen were deployed to help deal with the influx. Up to 51 inches of heavy rain fell in the region from Friday to Monday.

Toxic Sludge Floods Hungary

Hungary declared a state of emergency in three counties Tuesday after a flood of toxic red sludge from an alumina plant engulfed several towns and burned people through their clothes. One official called it “an ecological disaster” that may threaten the Danube and other key rivers. The toll rose to four dead, six missing and at least 120 people injured after a reservoir failed Monday at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant in Ajka, a town 100 miles southwest of Budapest, the capital. Several hundred tons of plaster were being poured into the Marcal River to bind the toxic sludge and prevent it from flowing on. So far, about 35.3 million cubic feet of sludge has leaked from the reservoir, affecting an estimated 15.4 square miles. The sludge, a waste product in aluminum production, contains heavy metals and is toxic if ingested.

Embryonic Images Show Viability After 3 Days

Pioneering images of human embryos reveal their fate is mostly sealed within three days of conception. Released by the journal Nature, the non-invasive imaging study led by Connie Wong of Stanford University tracked the growth of 242 fertility clinic embryos over six days, starting from the time 12 to 18 hours after conception when the embryos consisted of only one cell. Cell divisions, from one to two to four to eight and so on, in the embryos revealed that the embryos were viable after attaining eight cells within the first three days.

  • Once again, science confirms God’s design, showing that an embryo is a sustainable life form just 3 days after fertilization. By 6 days, blood has formed, and the Bible notes in several places that “life is in the blood.”

Three Iowa Judges May Face Voters’ Retaliation

Three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of a unanimous decision last year to allow same-sex marriage may pay the price next month as voters decide whether to keep them on the bench. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released Monday shows that 44% of Iowans who plan to vote in the retention election say they will vote “yes” to all three justices; 40% say they will vote to remove all three; and 16% say they want to retain some. Scholars who study judge-selection practices said the removal of even one justice would shock judiciaries across the nation, embolden conservative activists and could open the door to changes in the way Iowa chooses judges. It is virtually unheard of for a judge to lose a retention race.

Police Training a Victim of Recession

Even as hundreds of police officers across the country are losing their jobs, law enforcement officials say there is another disturbing casualty of the financial downturn: basic training. Nearly 70% of police agencies cut back or eliminated training programs this year as part of local government budget reductions, according to a survey this fall of 608 agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based think tank. The cuts include a wide range of programs, from ethics and basic legal training to instruction on the proper use of force.

Cities in Debt Turn to States, Adding Strain

Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, dodged financial disaster last month by getting money from the state to make a payment to its bondholders. It did so even though the state warned that the money had to be used for city workers’ pensions. Now Harrisburg is calling on the state again. On Friday, the city said it could not meet its next payroll without money from the state’s distressed cities program. Across the country, a growing number of towns, cities and other local governments are seeking refuge in similar havens that many states provide as alternatives to federal bankruptcy court. Pennsylvania will have 20 cities and smaller communities in its distressed-cities program if Harrisburg receives approval. Michigan has 37 in its program; New Jersey has seven; Illinois, Rhode Island and California each have at least one. The increasingly common pleas for state assistance — after two relatively quiet decades — reflect the yawning local budget deficits that have appeared in the last two years. As tax revenue has fallen, the cost of providing labor-intensive government services, like teaching and policing, have proved hard to reduce. Some public finance experts worry that the states, mired in their own financial problems, will be pushed further toward bankruptcy.

Economic News

A new report by the International Monetary Fund paints a brutally grim picture of the global economic outlook, warning that continued European belt-tightening combined with possible deficit-cutting in the United States could lead to a global double-dip recession. In the near term, the report suggested, nations seeking to stabilize their economies by cutting their budgets will only make the global economy worse. Nobel Prize-winning economist and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz used even more drastic imagery. He said some governments may be caught in a “death spiral.”

President Barack Obama Monday said the United States was facing an “untenable fiscal situation” and would have to get serious about tackling its federal deficit. The U.S. budget deficit is forecast at a record $1.47 trillion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2010. Obama said that emergency government spending measures he took to support growth and hiring when he took office last year had temporarily added to the funding gap, but the deficit had to be tackled going forward.

  • The worldwide economy is in a Catch-22 situation brought about by prior debt-laden growth spirals. Attacking the massive deficit may push us back into deep recession; continuing to rack up more debt will eventually reach a tipping point that could plunge the world into deflationary depression. The only solution? The return of Jesus Christ.

The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes rose in August for the second straight month but remained far below last year’s pace. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 4.3% to a reading of 82.3. That’s still more than 20% below the pace in the same month a year earlier. A reading of 100 indicates the average level of sales activity in 2001, when the index started.

Orders to U.S. factories fell in August, reflecting a big drop in demand for commercial aircraft. But outside of the volatile transportation sector, orders rose for the first time since March. Factory orders fell 0.5% in August, the third drop in the past four months, the Commerce Department said Monday. Orders had been up 0.4% in July. The weakness came from a big decline in demand for commercial aircraft and a drop in demand for motor vehicles. Outside transportation, orders posted a solid 0.9% increase.

Japan‘s central bank cut its key interest rate to virtually zero in a surprise move Tuesday and is looking to set up a $60 billion fund to buy government bonds and other assets as it tries to inject life into a faltering economy. The decision underscores growing worries about the Japanese economy, which is being battered by a strong yen and persistently falling prices. The central bank had left rates untouched since December 2008 when it lowered the target to 0.1%. Recent economic indicators point toward deteriorating exports, industrial production and corporate sentiment.

Middle East

Arsonists torched a mosque in a West Bank village Monday, scrawling “revenge” on a wall in Hebrew and charring copies of the Muslim holy book in an attack that threatened to stoke tensions over deadlocked Mideast peacemaking. Palestinians say they suspect hard-line Jewish settlers of setting the fire in the village of Beit Fajjar, near the city of Hebron. The attack is likely to hamper U.S. efforts to sustain month-old between Israelis and Palestinians, now deadlocked over settlement construction. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials condemned the arson attack in an apparent attempt to limit the political fallout.

Iran

For the first time since the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program was exposed in 2002, the Iranian government is dropping the pretense that it is developing nuclear technology purely for peaceful purposes. Iran has developed nuclear war plans to deter U.S. and Israeli aggression and retaliate against it, a top adviser to Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi announced in a strategic analysis. Defense Ministry analyst Alireza Saeidabadi’s detailed analysis, published last week on a website that Iran’s intelligence ministry runs, examines several scenarios in which Iran could become embroiled in a shooting war with the United States or Israel. In the event Israel uses unconventional weapons against Iran, “then Iran should employ a nuclear strategy.” “If the United States launches an unconventional attack, Iran needs to respond with a nuclear strategy,” the Iranian defense ministry analyst contends. This is the first time that a senior Iranian government official has made an authorized public statement acknowledging that Iran has developed the military doctrine needed to employ nuclear weapons on the battlefield.

France

Police in southern France arrested 12 people in sweeps against suspected Islamic militant networks on Tuesday, including three men being checked for potential links to a network recruiting fighters for Afghanistan. The roundups were part of two different counterterrorism cases under investigation by French judges. The arrests came as France and many other European nations have stepped up terrorism vigilance amid warnings of a heightened threat level in recent weeks. In one of the cases, nine suspected Islamic militants were detained in southeastern Marseille and its suburbs. In Tuesday’s other roundup, two men were arrested in Marseille and another in southwestern Bordeaux on suspected ties to a Frenchman arrested in Naples, Italy, last month accused of links to an Afghan recruiting ring.

Pakistan

Gunmen torched more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel to NATO troops and killed a driver Wednesday, the sixth attack on convoys taking supplies to Afghanistan since Pakistan closed a key border crossing almost a week ago. Islamabad shut down the Torkham crossing along the fabled Khyber Pass last Thursday after a NATO helicopter attack in the border area killed three Pakistani troops. The closure has left hundreds of trucks stranded alongside the country’s highways and bottlenecked traffic heading to the one route into Afghanistan from the south that has remained open.

German officials were tightlipped Tuesday about details surrounding a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan’s rugged mountain border area that Pakistani officials say killed five German militants. U.S. officials believe a cell of Germans and Britons are at the heart of a terror plot against European cities — a plan they link to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden— and are believed to be hiding in that region. Germany’s ARD public television cited unnamed sources Tuesday as saying that four of the Germans killed in the missile attack were of Turkish descent. The strikes in Pakistan came on the heels of a U.S. warning for Americans traveling in Europe to be on alert for possible terror attacks, on suspicion that groups linked to al-Qaeda were plotting to target tourist magnets in European capitals.

Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai condemned the “enemies of Afghanistan” on Wednesday after roadside bombs killed nine people, including five children, as insurgents fight intensified NATO-led operations in the south. At least 30 injured, including many police officers. Meanwhile, NATO and Afghan forces reported killing 16 militants — including a “shadow” governor of a northern province. The blasts targeted a police vehicle and ripped through an intersection — a day after four officers died in coordinated bombings that were also aimed at police. Control of Kandahar, the Taliban movement’s birthplace, is seen as key to reversing Taliban momentum in the war. Afghan and NATO forces are engaged in a major operation there, dubbed Dragon Strike, to keep insurgents from staging attacks inside the city. In response, Taliban have intensified a campaign targeting police and local officials. Two explosions killed at least eight people and wounded many others in Kandahar Tuesday.

Netherlands

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders appealed for freedom of expression as he went on trial for alleged hate speech at a time when his popularity and influence in the Netherlands are near all-time highs. Prosecutors say Wilders has incited hate against Muslims, pointing to a litany of quotes and remarks he has made in recent years. In one opinion piece he wrote, “I’ve had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate,” adding “I’ve had enough of the Quran in the Netherlands: Forbid that fascist book.” Wilders argues he has a right to freedom of speech and that his remarks were within the bounds of the law. “Formally I’m on trial here today, but with me, the freedom of expression of many, many Dutch people is also being judged,” he said, referring to more than 1.4 million voters who made his party the country’s third-largest in June elections. If convicted he could face up to a year in jail, though a fine would be more likely.

  • Such is the direction of hate crime legislation in the USA wherein pro-Christian, anti-Muslim speech will be prosecuted and persecuted

China

ASSIST News Service reports that more than 200 young people claiming to be police officers disrupted a meeting of a registered church in China’s Shandong province on Sept. 23. The church members were attacked by youths wearing uniforms and police helmets. Sixteen elderly people and women suffered serious injuries, including an elderly person left blind in one eye. ChinaAid said the believers immediately telephoned law enforcement, but officers responded slowly and did not take statements from any church members. Later that day about 300 Christians protested the government’s response. Church members and officials previously clashed in July 2008. At that time authorities tried to force the church to sign an agreement forfeiting three-quarters of its land without compensation. That legal battle is still pending.

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