August 11, 2005

News for August 11, 2005

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Four-Star General Sacked - In an extraordinary move, the Army sacked a four-star general who was the subject of a Defense Department investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, an official said Tuesday. Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, was approaching retirement when the decision to relieve him of duty was made by the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker. The Army announced no specific allegation against Byrnes, but a senior official said it involved unspecified sexual misconduct. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the allegation. Disciplinary action against officers is not rare, but it is extremely unusual in the case of a four-star general. An Army spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, said records from the General Officer Management Office show no cases in recent history in which a four-star general has been relieved of duty for disciplinary reasons. Byrnes, 55, a Vietnam veteran, ranked third in seniority among the Army’s 11 four-star generals. more...


‘Serious Concern’ at U.N. Over Iran - Diplomats at the U.N. (search) nuclear watchdog agency were debating a draft resolution Thursday that expressed “serious concern” over Iran’s resumption of uranium conversion but left open the possibility of more talks on the crisis. The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, said the agency cannot confirm that Tehran has declared all its nuclear materials and activities. But it did not mention reporting the regime to the U.N. Security Council (search), which has the power to impose crippling sanctions. The text, which was to be reviewed later Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors, expressed “serious concern” over Iran’s resumption of uranium conversion this week at its nuclear facility at Isfahan, saying the move “underlines the importance of rectifying the situation ... and of allowing for the possibility of further discussions in relation to that situation.” The measure requested IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei (search) to provide the board with a comprehensive report on Iran’s compliance with an agency safeguards agreement by Sept. 3.


Iran in Nuclear Sanctions Warning - The warning came after Iran broke UN seals at its nuclear plant at Isfahan, making it fully operational. EU countries have proposed a resolution to the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna calling for Iran to halt work. But Iran’s chief negotiator at the talks there said Tehran had an absolute right to produce nuclear fuel. Cyrus Nasseri told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that talks with the EU to continue a suspension of its uranium conversion work had broken down. Dismissing the EU’s proposals of economic and political concessions as a “package of lollipops”, Mr Nasseri said: “We do not for the moment have much hope in the talks whether now or in the future.”


Truck ‘vaporized’ when cargo explodes (August 11, 2005) - A truck carrying 35,500 pounds of explosives crashed and exploded Wednesday, leaving a huge crater in a Utah highway and injuring at least four people. The driver was able to get out and warn other motorists away before the truck exploded. But a passenger in the truck cab and other motorists were rushed to hospitals with injuries, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said. Two people were in critical condition and another was in satisfactory condition at a hospital in Provo, LDS Hospital spokesman Jess Gomez said. more...


42-year-olds now in Pentagon’s sights (August 11, 2005) - As part of a package of “urgent wartime support initiatives,” the Defense Department has requested that Congress raise the maximum age for military recruits to 42 for all branches of the service. According to a report in the Army Times, the move would raise considerably the age of potential service members. Under current law, the maximum age to enlist in the active components is 35, while people up to age 39 may enlist in the reserves. By practice, the accepted age for recruits is 27 for the Air Force, 28 for the Marine Corps and 34 for the Navy and Army, although the Army Reserve and Navy Reserve sometimes take people up to age 39 in some specialties, the report stated. more...


Aussie volcano erupts (August 11, 2005) - A VOLCANO is erupting on Australia’s most remote territory, McDonald Island, in the sub-Antarctic. The volcanic activity is changing the shape of the island and ultimately changing the environmental make-up of its cold and windswept surface. Environment Minister Ian Campbell said satellite images had detected the volcanic activity on the rarely visited island, 4100km southwest of Western Australia. McDonald is better known for its surrounding waters which are home to the Patagonian toothfish, heavily poached by ships transgressing Australian waters. Its steep shores, surrounded by treacherous seas, were last visited by humans in 2002. more...


Dragons in the Tibet Sky (August 11, 2005) - A photo of two peculiar dragon-shaped objects taken from a plane flying over Tibet’s Himalayas piqued many users’ interest when displayed on a Chinese website. The photographer is an amateur. On June 22, 2004, the photographer went to Tibet’s Amdo region to attend the Qinghai-to-Xizang Railroad laying ceremony, and then took a plane from Lhasa to fly back inland. When flying over the Himalaya’s, he accidentally caught these two “dragons” in a picture that he took. He called these two objects “the Tibet dragons.” Looking at the photo, these two objects appear to have the characteristics of crawling creatures: The bodies seem to be covered by scales, the backs have spine-like protuberances, and also they have gradually thinning rear ends. Although the photo caught only a portion of the entire scene, it was sufficient create the appearance of two gigantic dragons flying in the clouds. This photo, shown on some websites such as post.baidu.com and other forums, aroused the website visitors’ curiosity. One person commented, “No wonder that China is the homeland of the dragon! Nature is truly mysterious and powerful, it can always produce spectacular sights beyond people's expectations.” more...


Whistleblower broke secret of Russian sub and ‘saved men’s lives’  (August 11, 2005) - Without an anonymous phone call by a tearful woman to a local radio station, the world may have heard too late about the Russian submarine stranded in the Pacific to save its seven crew, the journalist who took the call claimed Tuesday. Guzel Latypova, a journalist in the port city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, says the mysterious caller shattered an official silence and in doing so pressured the authorities to look abroad for help in mounting the rescue. The telephone rang at Radio 3, where Latypova is news director, about 24 hours after the AS-28 mini-sub became trapped 190 meters (625 feet) under the Pacific. “A woman called in tears. She was saying that a mini-sub had got stuck with seven men aboard in the Bay of Berezovaya,” Latypova, 32, recounted to AFP. The mystery caller said she had got the news from “someone” in the military. more...


Mass Prayer Rally Against Expulsion Fills Jerusalem’s Old City (August 11, 2005) - More than a quarter million people attended a massive prayer rally at the Western Wall Wednesday to beg their Heavenly Father to have mercy and annul the expulsion decree. Former Ashkenazi and Sephardi Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu, Shas Party Leader and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, members of the hareidi-religious Council of Torah Sages, former MK Rabbi Menachem Porush and other prominent Hassidic rabbis all took part in the massive event. The gathering held special significance in that it marked a rare uniting of leading, influential Rabbis from the hareidi, Sephardic, and National Religious sectors together in one event. At an emergency meeting that took place last week at his home, Rabbi Menachem Porush, a well-known hareidi-religious leader and former Member of Knesset, burst out in tears, telling those present that over the past 80 years of his life, he cannot remember a time where thousands of Jewish families were being expelled from their homes in such a manner, when 25 Jewish towns were set to be utterly destroyed, when the destruction of dozens of synagogues and houses of Torah study was to take place, as well as the desecration of Jewish graves. “Even in Russia it was not like this,” he said. more...


Israeli President Asks Forgiveness for Uprooting Settlements (August 11, 2005) - Israel’s President Moshe Katsav asked settlers about to be uprooted from their homes for forgiveness in an address to the nation on Wednesday evening at the same time that tens of thousands of pullout opponents gathered in Jerusalem to pray that it would not take place. The uprooting of 21 Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank is scheduled to begin next week as part of the government-approved disengagement plan. In a rare televised address, Katsav, the largely titular head of state, asked those about to be evacuated to forgive the state but to recognize that they must obey the decision of the government. “On behalf of the State of Israel, I ask you, the settlers, for forgiveness, over the demand that you leave after dozens of years of construction and [terror] victims,” Katsav said. Katsav said that he and many in the nation sympathized with the pain of the settlers. “We know that your settling in the territories was an act of conscience that was also carried out in accordance with Israeli governments’ decisions. You have established thriving settlements and raised generations of children and youths who glorify Israel,” Katsav said. The 25 settlements slated for removal were started by various governments on both the right and the left, some as many as 30 years ago. more...


Tropical Storm Irene could slam Southeast US next week (August 11, 2005) - A renewed Tropical Storm Irene became better organized Thursday and was gradually intensifying as it moved closer to the East Coast, forecasters said. “We’re forecasting it to become a hurricane in a few days,” said James Franklin, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was expected to continue over the next five days toward the U.S. coastline from Georgia to Virginia, though it was still too soon to tell what kind of threat Irene posed to land, Franklin said. “It certainly doesn’t look like the main threat is Florida, but stranger things have happened. ... It may well turn sharply enough to not make landfall,” he said. Irene had top sustained winds near 40 mph, just above the 39 mph threshold for tropical storms. Hurricanes sustain winds of at least 74 mph. more...


Hints of quake under central USA (August 11, 2005) - The sleeping giant of American earthquake faults, the New Madrid zone in the middle of the country, may be showing new signs of activity. The journal Nature reported in June that a University of Memphis study had detected a half-inch of fault shift in the past five years. The movement, detected with the Global Positioning System (GPS), could be a sign that pressure is building toward a significant quake in a region that’s home to millions. “We go from nothing moving to a little movement. That’s a huge difference,” says Arch Johnston, director of the university’s Center for Earthquake Research and Information. The New Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid) zone is the most seismically active region east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a 120-mile series of rifts deep beneath the Earth's surface along the Mississippi River. more...


Earthquake Hits Near Trinidad, Colorado (August 11, 2005) - A 4.9 earthquake hit near Trinidad, Colo., in southern Colo., Wednesday afternoon. The quake was centered about 25 miles southwest of Trinidad and occurred at 4:08 p.m., according to the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. The earthquake was widely felt, with reports coming from Raton, Colorado Springs, Garland, Aguilar and Wild Horse. There were no reports of damage.


4.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits New Mexico (August 11, 2005) - An earthquake measuring magnitude 4.9 struck near the New Mexico-Colorado border Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quake hit southwest of Trinidad and west of Raton, N.M., said Bruce Presgrave of the U.S. Geological Survey. He said the quake was light and not likely to cause serious damage. Northeastern New Mexico usually gets about four earthquakes a year, usually less powerful than Wednesday’s, according to the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.


Moderate quake strikes Nicobar Islands (August 11, 2005) - New Delhi: A moderate intensity earthquake rocked the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, the Met department said.
The earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale occurred at 5.14 am IST, with it’s epicentre at 6.9 North latitude and 92.4 East longitude, the department said in a statement.


M4.8 quake jolts Kanto, Tohoku (August 11, 2005) - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 jolted the Kanto and Tohoku regions Wednesday afternoon, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. There were no reported injuries or damage from the 3:12 p.m. quake. The quake measured 3 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture. The focus of the quake was about 70 kilometers below the sea surface in waters off Fukushima Prefecture.


Laos Christians Face Crisis As Government Bans Bibles (August 11, 2005) - A lack of Bibles and Christian literature in Laos is now becoming “the biggest threat” to rapidly growing Christian communities in rural areas of the Communist Asian nation, evangelical leaders said Wednesday, August 10. The Communist government-imposed restrictions on the distribution of Bibles effected villages near the border with Thailand, where churches experience unprecedented growth, BosNewsLife established. “But without Bibles and Christian literature, the many new Christians can not grow in their faith and study Gods word,” said 38-year old Pastor Khampet Deesakoun of an evangelical church in Namtee, a remote village of roughly 700 people, about 150 kilometers from the capital Vientiane. The father of six children became “a born again Christian” 10 years ago and said the small church he started with a handful families grew into a thriving congregation of over 400 people. “About half of the villagers have become Christians, while the rest are still Buddhists or pray to ghosts,” he explained. more...