September 24, 2005

News for September 24, 2005

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Magnitude 6.0 - Earthquake OFFSHORE HONDURAS (September 24, 2005) - Magnitude 6.0 - OFFSHORE HONDURAS 2005 September 23 13:48:31 UTC Preliminary Earthquake Report U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center World Data Center for Seismology, Denver A strong earthquake occurred at 13:48:31 (UTC) on Friday, September 23, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located OFFSHORE HONDURAS. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.) more...


Israel Vows ‘Crushing’ Response to Attacks (September 24, 2005) - Israel ordered ground forces to the Gaza border Saturday and threatened a “crushing” response after Israeli towns were hit by the first major Hamas rocket barrage from the coastal territory since Israel’s pullout two weeks earlier. Israel also resumed airstrikes against Hamas targets, hitting several suspected weapons workshops, and imposed a blanket closure that bars all Palestinians from its territory. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called his Security Cabinet for a meeting later Saturday to approve the military’s response, expected to last several days. A large-scale operation appeared unlikely but the timing of the Cabinet meeting suggested a sense of urgency. The Cabinet session comes as Sharon faces a major leadership challenge in his Likud Party this week over the Gaza pullout. Sharon’s challenger, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has warned the withdrawal will endanger Israel. The barrage of 39 rockets, with five Israelis hurt, could give him a boost against Sharon. The escalation was set off by an explosion Friday at a Hamas rally in the crowded Jebaliya refugee camp that killed at least 15 Palestinians. Witnesses said the blast went off near a pickup truck carrying Hamas militants and homemade rockets. Hamas blamed Israel and said it fired rockets on Israeli border towns in retaliation. However, the Palestinian Authority described the explosion as an accident that happened when Islamic militants mishandled explosives and renewed demands that armed groups stop flaunting their weapons. more...


Mother Russia now sees more abortions than babies born (September 24, 2005) - IN THE two days since Lisa Petrachkova was born, Russia’s population has dropped by an estimated 2,000 people. By the time she is one, more than 200,000 Russians will have died of unnatural causes; almost seven times the estimated civilian deaths in Iraq since the war began. By her 50th birthday, Russia’s population could have halved, based on current trends. Little does she know it as she lies next to her mother, Masha, in a Moscow maternity ward, but Lisa is on the front line of a national fight for survival. By Russian standards, she is lucky to have made it even this far: last year, there were 1.6 million registered abortions in Russia and 1.5 million births. “The situation is critical,” said Vladimir Kulakov, deputy head of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and an adviser to President Putin on the demographic crisis. “The most important thing for every nation is to have confidence in its future.” Russia’s population has been in decline since 1992 due to poor medical care, one of the world’s least healthy diets, and a national weakness for vodka. Experts say the crisis is reaching a critical level that threatens not only its economic development, but its very existence. According to the Federal Statistics Service, the population of 143 million could plummet to 77 million by the middle of this century. It dropped by almost half a million in the last year alone. Mr Putin raised the issue in April, calling it a “national crisis”, but the Government has yet to respond. Mr Putin is now under pressure to dip into the Stabilisation Fund, designed to save excess oil revenues, to arrest the population decline. more...


FBI: ‘Jihad’ prevented in Los Angeles (September 24, 2005) - Three men charged in a terror investigation were planning shooting rampages at Los Angeles-area military sites to retaliate for what they called the oppression of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to court documents. The men were indicted last month on federal charges of conspiring to wage war against the U.S. government through terrorism. All three -- Levar H. Washington, 25, Gregory V. Patterson, 21, and Hammad R. Samana, 21 -- have pleaded not guilty. Appearing in Los Angeles Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller praised local police agencies that uncovered the alleged plot in July while investigating a string of gas station robberies. “Terrorist threats against the city and county of Los Angeles ... were prevented,” Mueller said. According to an FBI affidavit unsealed recently, Washington told authorities he was the leader of a “council” of Muslims who planned to carry out operations in Southern California as part of a jihad, or holy war, against the United States. more...


Airport on terror alert (September 24, 2005) - A TERROR suspect was shot by police using Taser stun guns in a dramatic struggle on the Tarmac at Manchester Airport today. Witnesses described how a man carrying a suitcase managed to get on to the apron - where planes are parked - before trying to flee when confronted by police. Officers used the stun gun to stop the man before kicking the case to safety. Thousands of passengers were evacuated as flights were suspended from Terminals One and Two. Passengers travelling to the airport were also warned to stay away as the drama unfolded. Road blocks were also set up around the airport, causing severe congestion. An army bomb disposal squad carried out a controlled explosion on the package and were due to carry out a formal examination of its contents. The man was arrested and taken to a Greater Manchester police station for questioning. The all-clear was given after three hours. more...


Rita hitting coast, expected to stall (September 24, 2005) - Wind currents in the upper atmosphere, steering Hurricane Rita toward Port Arthur, Texas, are so weak, the storm is expected to stall after having made landfall late Friday night and to drench coastal Texas and Louisiana with up to two feet of rain over the next several days, causing flooding. Packing maximum sustained winds of 125 miles-per-hour, Rita is capable of generating a 15- to 20-foot storm surge, forecasters warn. While the population centers of Houston and Galveston appear to have been spared a direct hit due to Rita's eastward shift, the major oil refinery and chemical industry centers of Beaumont and Port Arthur are directly in its path. Crude oil prices at close of market dropped yesterday, indicating traders believe the Category 3 storm is less likely to cause the damage earlier feared. But sustained rains caused by a stalled storm, saturated with water picked up from the warm Gulf of Mexico, may prove to be the source of greatest damage to the region. Winds in the upper atmosphere responsible for steering the storm system are not strong enough, forecast models predict, to keep Rita moving inland once it reaches the coast. While it has been traveling at approximately 11 miles-per-hour while crossing the Gulf, the storm is expected to stall at landfall. While winds should decrease, the cyclonic storm will continue to be supplied with water as its winds pass over the Gulf and return inland. Instead of intense rainfall over a relatively short period of time, the stalled system is predicted to drop eight to 15 inches of precipitation over a widespread area and up to 24 inches of rain in some locations. Severe flash flooding is expected in low-lying areas and in urban areas where extensive concrete surfaces prevent water from being absorbed by the soil. more...


Cherokees vote to display Ten Commandments (September 24, 2005) - If you are nostalgic for the days when the Ten Commandments were posted in public buildings, you might want to consider visiting the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. The tribal council is making plans to mount a copy of the Ten Commandments in the council house where government meetings are held, and possibly display them throughout other public buildings in Cherokee. The idea was introduced by Councilwoman Angela Kephart last month. She said the tribe should display the Ten Commandments out of respect and devotion to God. The motion passed unanimously. “We aren’t saying you have to abide by the Ten Commandments,” Kephart said, according to the Smoky Mountain News. “We are simply displaying God’s Ten Commandments. That’s what He expects from each and every individual. If you break that, it is between you and God. It is not between you and the tribal council; it is between you and God.” There is no First Amendment issue involved, and even if the American Civil Liberties Union wanted to make one, it can’t. The U.S. Constitution does not apply to Cherokee, nor to any other Native American tribe for that matter, according to Cherokee’s Attorney General David Nash. more...