Purported IS message threatens Japanese, Jordanian hostages

Purported IS message threatens Japanese, Jordanian hostages

27/Jan/2015  //  207 Viewers

BEIRUT (AP) — An online message purportedly from the Islamic State group warned Tuesday that a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot the extremists hold have less than "24 hours left to live."

The message again demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people. It also mentioned for the first time Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is a captive of the Islamic State group, setting a Wednesday afternoon deadline.

Tuesday's video matched a message released over the weekend, though neither bore the logo of the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm. The weekend video showed a still photo of Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of the body of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa.

The Associated Press could not independently verify either video. However, several militant websites affiliated with the Islamic State group referenced the video and posted links to it late Tuesday afternoon.

The message says that unless the Jordanian government frees al-Rishawi within 24 hours, Goto and the pilot will be killed, adding that this would be the group's last message. The message warns any delaying tactics by the government will result in the death of both men.

Goto has only "24 hours left to live and the pilot has even less," the message said.

Japanese officials held emergency meetings after the video's release. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said he had seen the video released, but did not comment on its authenticity.



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Purported IS message threatens Japanese, Jordanian hostages

Zeina Karam and Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press
Updated 8:54 am, Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    1

    FILE - This file image taken from an online video released by the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, purports to show the group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages that the militants identify as Kenji Goto Jogo, left, and Haruna Yukawa, right, unless a $200 million ransom is paid within 72 hours. Japan's government is investigating a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 holding two Japanese hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq. Photo: AP / Islamic State group

Photo: AP
Image 1 of 16

FILE - This file image taken from an online video released by the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, purports to show the group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages that the militants identify as Kenji Goto Jogo, left, and Haruna Yukawa, right, unless a $200 million ransom is paid within 72 hours. Japan's government is investigating a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 holding two Japanese hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq.
Image 1 of 16

FILE - This file image taken from an online video released by the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, purports to show the group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages that the militants identify as Kenji Goto Jogo, left, and Haruna Yukawa, right, unless a $200 million ransom is paid within 72 hours. Japan's government is investigating a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 holding two Japanese hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq.
ISIS wants prisoner swap in exchange for Japanese hostage
NewsFix

BEIRUT (AP) — An online message purportedly from the Islamic State group warned Tuesday that a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot the extremists hold have less than "24 hours left to live."

The message again demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people. It also mentioned for the first time Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is a captive of the Islamic State group, setting a Wednesday afternoon deadline.

Tuesday's video matched a message released over the weekend, though neither bore the logo of the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm. The weekend video showed a still photo of Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of the body of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa.

The Associated Press could not independently verify either video. However, several militant websites affiliated with the Islamic State group referenced the video and posted links to it late Tuesday afternoon.

The message says that unless the Jordanian government frees al-Rishawi within 24 hours, Goto and the pilot will be killed, adding that this would be the group's last message. The message warns any delaying tactics by the government will result in the death of both men.

Goto has only "24 hours left to live and the pilot has even less," the message said.

Japanese officials held emergency meetings after the video's release. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said he had seen the video released, but did not comment on its authenticity.

"In this extremely tough situation, we are continuing as before to request the cooperation of the Jordanian government to work toward the immediate release of Mr. Goto," Suga said.

A Japanese envoy in Jordan, Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, earlier expressed hope the two hostages would return home "with a smile on their faces."

"I hope we can all firmly work hard and join hands to cooperate, and for the two countries (Japan and Jordan) to cooperate, in order for us to see the day when the Jordanian pilot and our Japanese national Mr. Goto, can both safely return to their own countries with a smile on their faces," he told reporters late Monday night after another day of crisis talks in the Jordanian capital.

Japanese officials had no immediate comment on the new message.

Tuesday marked the first time a Japanese official mentioned al-Kaseasbeh, who has been held by the extremist Islamic State group after his Jordanian F-16 went down near the Islamic State group's de facto capital of Raqqa in December. It wasn't immediately clear when the pilot's possible release had entered into the negotiations.

The 26-year-old Jordanian is the first foreign military pilot to fall into the extremists' hands since an international coalition began its aerial campaign against the Islamic State group in September. Jordan is part of the U.S.-led coalition targeting Islamic State militants in Syria.

Goto, a freelance journalist, was seized in late October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, 42, who was captured by the militants last summer.

The weekend message retracted a demand for payment of $200 million in ransom for the two Japanese, made in an earlier online message. It threatened to kill Goto unless al-Rishawi was released.

Japanese officials have indicated they are treating the video released over the weekend as authentic and thus accepting the likelihood that Yukawa was dead.

Securing the release of al-Rishawi would be a major propaganda coup for the Islamic State and would allow the group to reaffirm its links to al-Qaida in Iraq.

The mother of another Jordanian prisoner, Ziad al-Karboli, told the AP on Tuesday that her family was told that the Islamic State group also was seeking his release as part of a swap. It was unclear whether it was related to a possible deal involving the Japanese hostage.

Al-Karboli, an aide to a former al-Qaida leader in Iraq, was sentenced to death in 2008 for killing a Jordanian citizen.


Source: http://www.sfgate.com/



Major Nor'easter blankets the Northeast with heavy snow

Major Nor'easter blankets the Northeast with heavy snow

27/Jan/2015  //  216 Viewers

Pittsburgh - Local and state officials in the Northeast are warning residents to go home and stay home as a powerful Nor'easter sets its sights on some of the major cities along the U.S. coast.

As of early Monday airlines have cancelled over 6,000 flights, most schools and non-essential government offices are closed, as a major, crippling winter storm moves up the East Coast and is expected to dump in excess of two feet of snow in New York City, Boston and coastal New England Monday evening into Tuesday.

A low pressure center has formed just off the North Carolina coast and is expected to rapidly intensify as it moves quickly up the coast according to the National Weather Service. Winds gusting to near hurricane-force strength together with zero visibility in heavy snow, along with 1 to 3 feet of snow are expected to create blizzard-like and complete whiteout conditions along most of the New England coast before the powerful Nor'easter moves out to sea early Wednesday, the NWS warned in a statement Monday.
Also, due to some areas that are forecasted to receive as much as several feet of snow and high winds, snow drifts as much as 6 feet high can be expected.
Millions of people are expected to be affected by the storm, either directly or by travel delays. A hurricane wind warning has been issued for an area just north of New York City to southern Maine for potential wind gusts of 80 mph. Also, major flooding is expected from the storm surge which is expected to be in excess of 12 feet in Hampton, New Hampshire and Portland, Me.
New York City and other areas where the storm is expected to have a major impact have issued stern warnings that except for emergencies, motorists are to stay off the road. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday afternoon that the city is under a state of emergency and starting at 11 p.m. all of the city's streets and parks will be closed indefinitely.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a similar ban on non-essential travel starting at midnight. "The most important message for everybody is to get ready and hunker down and to try and stay put to the fullest extent possible unless you are involved in some sort of an emergency activity on Tuesday," Baker said announcing the travel ban.
The Governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut have also issued bans on non-essential travel.
Late Monday, heavy snow and strong winds had already started to impact New York City and coastal New Jersey, which is expected to receive between 1-2 feet of snow by Tuesday night. While most non-emergency government offices will be closed Tuesday, the New York Stock Exchange said Monday they will be open for business Tuesday.
Utility crews up and down the East Coast are preparing to repair downed power lines that are expected to leave thousands of people without power. As of 7:45 p.m. Monday, Con Edison of New York reported 340 power outages in the New York City and northern New Jersey area.
According to the NWS the greatest impact of the Nor'easter will be from Monday night through Tuesday as the storm intensifies, before it moves north towards Nova Scotia early Wednesday.


Source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/
Presidential Election: Buhari May be Disqualified, As Abuja Lawyer Goes To Court

Presidential Election: Buhari May be Disqualified, As Abuja Lawyer Goes To Court

27/Jan/2015  //  212 Viewers

By Chukwunweike Okafor Esq.

The controversy over General Muhamed Buhari’s certificate has taken a new dimension, as an Abuja Lawyer, Mr. Chike Okafor has approached the Federal High Court to disqualify General Buhari from contesting the 2015 Presidential Elections.

The case is Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/01/2015. It is based on Section 131 of the Constitution which prescribes a minimum qualification for nomination to participate in Presidential Elections and Section 31 of the Electoral Act that stipulates all Presidential Candidates to depose an Affidavit in proof of compliance with constitutional requirement to be President of Nigeria.

The Claimant claims that General Buhari failed to prove that he has the minimum educational qualification to run for President. The Claimant further claims that General Buhari’s Affidavit that he possesses the West African School Leaving Certificate (WASC) are false, as not only did he not attach it to his Nomination Form, as compulsorily required, but his claim that the Certificates are in the custody of the Military has been denied by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye.

Mr. Okafor has requested the Federal High Court to disqualify General Buhari from contesting at the 2015 General Elections. This is provided by Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act that allows a person that has reasonable grounds to believe that false information has been given by a candidate in his Affidavit or document submitted to INEC, in support of his Nomination Form, to approach the Court for the candidate to be disqualified.

Chukwunweike Okafor Esq.
For Emerald Attorneys & Solicitors


Source: www.globalreportersnews.com (GR)

Why 2000 APC members moved to PDP in Niger

Why 2000 APC members moved to PDP in Niger

27/Jan/2015  //  206 Viewers

2,000 members of the All Progressives Congress in Suleja that decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party said they dumped the opposition party because they were made to swear by the Quran‎.

Speaking on behalf of the defectors on Monday, Alhaji Abdullahi L. Suleiman, who was a three-time Suleja Council chairman, ‎said they had to leave the APC because the party had no direction.

According to Suleiman: “We were made to swear by the Holy Quran and vow we will abide by rules and directives from the party, which to me shows it is a fanatic party.

”APC is the only party that will make you swear with the Quran to abide by rules and directives of the party, which we did, but when we discovered that it is all deceit, we had to leave the party back to the PDP where we left from.

“We had to return to the party that we can see its structures and development on ground because there is no ward in the 25 Local Government Councils in the state that has not received dividend of democracy through the Ward Development Project.”

Suleiman also stated that the over 2,000 defectors are from 10 wards in the state, adding that more will join them soon.‎

He added that he was not financially induced to return to the PDP but that he returned because of his conviction that the party has better things in stock for the people of the state.
Furthermore, he said people are worried about continuity of some policies of the Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, adding that voting for the APC will mean discontinuation of the policies like paying of NECO and WAEC fees, which is difficult for some parents to pay.
Speaking after he received them into the party, Governor Aliyu said most people who left the PDP felt that the popularity of the APC because of the presidential candidate was going to “catch fire” but when reality dawned on them that it was a party revolving around one person, they had to come back home.
“They had to come back to what they are used to because the APC has no structure,” he added.


Source: http://pointblanknews.com/

The State Imposition of Morality And The Secular State

The State Imposition of Morality And The Secular State

27/Jan/2015  //  180 Viewers

Background

One of the main issues being used to undermine the candidacy of Mr Buhari has been the suspicion that he represents the force of islamisation in Nigeria. That (in other words) is the desire to impose on moderate moslems, Christians and members of other religious faiths, a moral code that should not be the business of the state to enforce on adults.

A tolerant society is gauged by the ability of the state to tolerate different strands of behavior that does not injure, harm or adversely affect other people (be they adults or minors). In the event that certain behaviors are carried on within private premises by adults and such acts are not injurious to other non consenting adults or minors, then the state should never interfere in such conduct. That after all is why Nigeria is a secular state.

Concerns

The National Security Adviser has suggested that the FG will ban or initiate laws that would ban access to pornographic websites from within Nigeria. He stated this at the closing ceremony of a three-day workshop on use of social media organised for Islamic preachers, Imams and youths in Kaduna on Sunday the 25 of January. This intention when viewed against the decision of the federal government to sign into law a ban on same sex sexual contact or interaction  between consenting adults in private homes means Nigeria is slowly and gradually slipping into a position where human behaviour within Nigeria is becoming subject to the moral codes of fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Moslems. There is no doubt that most Nigerians (myself included) would frown on Homosexuality and pornographic material. I would hate for my son or daughter to be indulging in either conduct. I am also sure that the members of Boko Haram would frown on such conduct as well.

The thing that distinguishes the Nigerian state from the caliphate of Boko Haram should be the respect for individual rights and the tolerance of the Nigerian state. The ability to know that ones rights ends where another persons rights start. The ability to prevent the imposition of a group’s moral code (whether driven by a religious or a cultural belief system or otherwise) on another group (whether under the threat of beheading or incarceration).

The fourth republic has overseen Nigeria’s slow descent into a retrogressive state where individual rights are being and will be curtailed by a moralistic over reaching state and federal government. From the ban on the consumption of alcohol passed by the ANPP (now APC) and PDP controlled core Northern governments in the mid 2000’s, the ban on same sex interactions (even if in private) by the PDP led FG of President Jonathan and the intention to pass laws banning access to pornographic sites in the privacy of ones own home under current President Jonathan, one wonders which party is actually leading the islamisation (or should I say the religiousization) agenda in Nigeria.

Conclusion

Nigerians should be aware that the Nigerian state has started the gradual moral over reach into individual rights. They started by attacking conduct most Nigerians find repulsive. But it did not stop there. It is continuing to attempt to regulate individual moral conduct that should not be the business of the state to regulate unless such conduct harms, injures or negatively affects non consenting adults or minors. No society becomes regressive over night. It is done over time and incrementally.  Sambo Dasuki’s comments are worrisome (especially if this represents some kind of negotiated accommodation with Boko Haram in order to stop Boko Haram’s insurgency in the North East).


Source: http://pointblanknews.com/

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

27/Jan/2015  //  199 Viewers

Tens of millions of people along the U.S. East Coast stayed home from work and school, had flights canceled and were told to stay off roads for a snowstorm that, for most, failed to live up to predictions that it would be one of the worst they had ever seen.

However, with memories still fresh of Sandy, a superstorm that ravaged the region in 2012, governors of at least eight East Coast states declared emergencies. The storm’s size means that up to 60 million people in nearly a dozen states could be affected by its wintry conditions.

"When you hear the word 'crippling' and you look out your window this morning, it is not there," said John Davitt, a meterologist on New York's NY1 news channel.

The National Weather Service (NWS) on Tuesday lowered snowfall forecasts, but still said the "life-threatening blizzard" could dump about a meter (3 feet) of snow across parts of the region as well as bring punishing hurricane-force winds.

Storm downgraded

But early Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying New England would fare the worst, but even then not as bad as expected.

The snow was combined with winds of up to 112 kilometers per hour (70 miles per hour). As well as blizzard warnings, flood warnings are also in effect, with officials fearing power outages and falling trees.

On Monday, life abruptly stopped across the region as officials ordered workers to go home early, banned travel, closed bridges and tunnels, and assembled their biggest plowing crews.

"When you wake up in the morning, it is going to look like a blizzard," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, echoing the concern of many government leaders.

Early Tuesday, light snow fell steadily in midtown Manhattan as a few municipal trucks rumbled down empty streets. The city had an almost eerie feel to it. No airplanes in the sky, making for an unexpected quiet.

More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets.

Stock exchanges open

Stock exchanges, including Intercontinental Exchange Inc's New York Stock Exchange unit, Nasdaq OMX Group, and BATS Global Markets, said they expected to stay open for normal operating hours on Tuesday.

Utility companies across the region put additional crews on standby to deal with anticipated power outages.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned travel from 11 p.m. (0400 GMT) Monday for all but emergency vehicles on roads in 13 counties, including New York City, suburban Westchester and Long Island, with the threat of a $300 fine for violators.

"If you are in your car and you are on any road, town, village, city, it doesn't matter, after 11 o'clock, you will technically be committing a crime," Cuomo said. "It could be a matter of life and death so caution is required."

Governors in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island issued statewide driving bans for most motorists, bringing travel across the region to a standstill.

"Please stay home," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told residents, ordering all but the most essential government workers in his state to stay at home from Monday afternoon until Wednesday at the earliest.

In New York's Long Island, Suffolk County Police said that a teenager had died late on Monday when he crashed into a lampost in the street where he was snow-tubing.

The United Nations closed its headquarters early and was to remain shut, forcing the cancellation on Tuesday of an important event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust.

East Coast schools, including New York City -- the nation's largest public school system, serving 1 million students -- shut down. Universities, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, canceled classes.

The brutal weather paralyzed the New York City metropolitan area, with a shutdown of all subway, bus and commuter rail services on Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road. It was the first time the city subway had been halted due to snow.

Local transit suspended

New Jersey Transit and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said on their websites that bus, rail and other services would also be suspended on Tuesday.

Vacationers and business travelers faced headaches as airlines canceled thousands of U.S. flights, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

New York authorities said "virtually all" flights at LaGuardia Airport on Tuesday would be canceled and cancelations at John F. Kennedy International Airport would be "significant."

Boston's Logan international airport will see no flights from Monday evening until Wednesday afternoon.

Amtrak also suspended rail services on Tuesday between New York and Boston, and into New York state, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

Coastal flood warnings were issued from Delaware to Maine, and National Weather Service officials in Boston reported early on Tuesday that waves just a few miles outside of Boston Harbor approached 6 meters (20 feet).


Source: http://www.voanews.com/

2 Hizbul militants killed, 3 security personnel injured in Jammu and Kashmir

2 Hizbul militants killed, 3 security personnel injured in Jammu and Kashmir

27/Jan/2015  //  247 Viewers

Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed while three security force personnel, including an Army commanding officer, were today injured in an encounter in Tral area of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir.

A gun battle broke out between the militants and security forces after the latter launched a cordon and search operation in Mindora village of Tral, 36 km from here, police said. "Two militants -- both locals -- were killed in the operation," a police officer said.

He said three security force personnel, including an Army officer and a policeman, sustained injuries during the operation. The operation was launched after security forces got a tip off that a local Hizbul militant along with another accomplices had come home. The slain militants have been identified as Adil Khan, local resident of Mindora, and Shiraz Dar. They were both affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen outfit. Some arms and ammunition have recovered from the scene of the encounter.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/
Blizzard 2015: Northeast Shuts Down as Major Storm Approaches

Blizzard 2015: Northeast Shuts Down as Major Storm Approaches

27/Jan/2015  //  228 Viewers

Tens of millions across the northeast and New England hunkered down Monday to ride out an historic blizzard, while power crews across the region anticipated massive outages amid hurricane-force winds and plunging temperatures.

Forecasters were predicting one to three feet of snow that promised to paralyze the region for days, with gusts blowing sideways with ever-increasing intensity in New York City by early evening, and flurries underway in Boston. The storm was predicted to build into a blizzard, and the brunt of it would hit late Monday and into Tuesday.

More than 6,500 flights in and out of the region -- home to 50 million people -- were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. New York City's subways and buses planned to shut down completely by 11 p.m., and commuter railroads across the Northeast also announced plans to stop running overnight. leaving workers to scramble to get home before roads became impassable.

Boston was expected to get 2 to 3 feet of snow, New York 1½ to 2 feet, and Philadelphia more than a foot.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. Forecasters warned that the wind could gust to 75 mph or more along the Massachusetts coast, and up 50 mph farther inland.

"This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City," said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said the city had 250,000 tons of salt on hand and would have 40 percent more ambulances than usual ready to roll. He said all non-emergency vehicles would be banned from city streets from 11 p.m. until further notice.

"This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City."

- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Authorities banned travel on all streets and highways in New York City and Long Island and warned that violators could be fined $300. Even food deliveries were off-limits on the streets of takeout-friendly Manhattan. The governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island also slapped restrictions on nonessential travel.

"We learned the lesson the hard way," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, referring to instances in which motorists got stranded in the snow for 24 hours or more.

Governors in five states -- New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire -- declared emergencies and travel bans were being implemented on roads for Monday evening. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.

In Massachusetts, the town of Scituate told coastal residents to evacuate by 6 p.m. and said a shelter had been set up at the local high school.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued a ban, effective at midnight, on non-essential motor vehicle travel., The Boston Globe reported. The MBTA will close after midnight and will have no service on Tuesday.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy issued a statewide travel ban beginning at 9 p.m. Monday when the storm is expected to be at its heaviest. Malloy told reporters Monday the blizzard could potentially be a record-setter and urged all residents to stay indoors. He said that if residents lose power, they will likely be without it for "several days."

"It is imperative that you have a plan in place to get home safely this evening before the heavy snow begins and remain there for the duration of the storm," Malloy said Monday morning.

In New York, Cuomo told reporters that crews were prepared with 750 plows and 50 pounds of salt to handle the snowfall, expected to reach as much as 18-24 inches. New York City subways will be restricted to limited service after 7 p.m. and Metro North and Long Island Railroad lines will be shut down after 11 p.m.

Throughout the area, road and utility crews were ready to plow and salt roads, as well as address possible power outages. John Latka, spokesman for PSE&G, which provides gas and electric service to much of New Jersey and parts of New York, called for patience from consumers in the event of outages.

“While snow by itself doesn’t normally pose a serious problem, heavy snow and strong winds can increase the possibility of downed wires and power outages,” Latka said. “These conditions will also make it difficult for our crews to get around and safely respond to any outages. We ask for our customers’ patience and cooperation as we work to restore service as quickly as possible.”

De Blasio held up a list of the city’s top 10 snowstorms and said this one could land at the top of a list that goes back to 1872 and includes the 26.9 inches that fell in 2006. "Don't underestimate this storm. Prepare for the worst," he said as he urged residents to plan to leave work early Monday.

"This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before," he said at a news conference Sunday.

Elsewhere in the region, Boston is expected to get 18 to 24 inches of snow, with up to 3 feet falling west of the city, and Philadelphia could see 14 to 18 inches, the weather service said. NWS lead forecaster Bob Oravec said that wind gusts of 75 mph or more are possible for coastal areas of Massachusetts, with gusts of up to 50 mph further inland.

"We do anticipate very heavy snowfall totals," Oravec, told The Associated Press. "In addition to heavy snow, with blizzard warnings, there's a big threat of high, damaging winds, and that will be increasing Monday into Tuesday. A lot of blowing, drifting and such."

One city likely to be spared large amounts of snowfall is Washington D.C., where forecasters expected only a coating or a bit more, with steadily increasing amounts as the storm moves north.

"Looks like our luck is about to run out," said John Paulsen as he gassed up his SUV in New Jersey. "I can't complain too much since we've had a pretty mild winter, but I don't know if I'm ready for a foot or so of snow all at once."

Preparations large and small were in effect elsewhere in New York. A Manhattan Home Depot store sold about twice as many shovels over the weekend as it normally does while transit officials hoping to keep the subways running smoothly planned to use modified subway cars loaded with de-icing fluid to spray the third rail that powers trains.

Wyatt Baars, manager of the Charlestown Ace Hardware in Boston, sold out of his bags of ice-melting pellets. But he said a New Hampshire distributor is helping him and delivering more.

"Everybody is preparing for the storm," he said. "When we have something this big on the horizon, everybody comes in for the ice melt, snow shovels, snow brooms."

Snow plow driver Al Laplant expected to be out clearing roads of Simsbury, Connecticut, this week, just as he has for more than two decades.

"We'll be out there until the storm's over and then at least three hours after cleaning up," he said as he attended a home show in Hartford. "We'll be out there through the whole storm."

But even for a plow driver, the snow is no cakewalk.

"It's kind of exhilarating," he said. "But at the same time, I've been doing it for 27 years, so I'm kind of tired of it myself."

At New York's Penn Station, Cicero Goncalves was waiting for a train to Vermont, where he's going snowboarding, because he expected the flight he had hoped to take would be canceled.

But the 34-year-old flight attendant from Queens — who was dressed in a full-length bear costume — counted himself and his travel partner as lucky. "We'll get there before it snows, and we're coming back when the storm is over, on Thursday," he said.

The storm could stall before it tracks out to sea, bringing high wind, heavy precipitation and the potential for coastal flooding, the National Weather Service said. It would be the second wallop for the Northeast after what happened Saturday, when a storm crawling up the East Coast left a slushy, snowy coating from Pennsylvania to New England.

The storm dumped at least 9 inches of snow in parts of Pennsylvania and 8 inches in parts of New York, northern New Jersey and northwestern Connecticut, with widespread reports of more than 4 inches in inland areas across southern New England. Lighter amounts were reported in Philadelphia, Boston and New York City, where the snowfall stopped Saturday evening.

About 8 inches of snow fell in far eastern Maine before the storm moved out late Saturday night.

Numerous accidents were reported on the slick roads, but there were no major highway backups in the lighter weekend traffic. Police in Connecticut and Massachusetts were investigating the weather's role in traffic accidents that killed two people Saturday afternoon.


Source: http://www.foxnews.com/

Party time as first female Church of England bishop makes history

Party time as first female Church of England bishop makes history

26/Jan/2015  //  218 Viewers

The first female Church of England bishop today described her consecration service as an “occasion of prayer and of party”.

The Rev Libby Lane has made history after being ordained as the eighth Bishop of Stockport in a service at York Minster.

The service was briefly disrupted by a lone protester against the move to end centuries of all male leadership in the Church.

The bishop, who has worked in the dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester, said she was “thrilled” at the amount of support she had received since the appointment was announced last month.

Nearly 2,000 people attended today’s service, which was conducted by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Speaking after her consecration, the bishop said: “Archbishop Sentamu has observed, ‘the way that we show our faith and our love for one another is with two simple things, prayer and parties’.

“Today is an occasion of prayer and of party and I am thrilled that so many want to share in both.”

The sole demonstrator, who spoke out to say women bishops were “not in the Bible” was named as  “serial protester” Rev Paul Williamson. A Church of England spokesman said:  “He’s got the right to protest but the contrast was between a lone voice protesting and a sea of voices affirming.”


Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/
India-US articulates joint Asia vision; China not happy

India-US articulates joint Asia vision; China not happy

26/Jan/2015  //  2225 Viewers

The need to manage China’s ambitions and maintain a multi-polar Asia has been an unsaid, but significant, motivation in determining the India-US partnership over the past decade. But in a perceptible shift, the reluctance to publicly articulate it has been shed in New Delhi and Washington, with the two countries signing on to a “Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region’. This is the first time the two countries have put out a comprehensive document, at the highest level, projecting this joint outlook, a fact which has clearly not pleased Beijing. While agreeing on its significance, analysts differ on its import.

The vision speaks of the two countries being the ‘largest democracies’ in this region – no surprises for guessing which is the non democratic state in the room; of working together ‘from Africa to East Asia’ – two regions where China’s engagement is deep; and accelerating ‘infrastructure connectivity and economic development’ in a manner that links South, Southeast and Central Asia.

But there are more pointed references too. Picking on a theme that found mention in the September joint statement during Pm Narendra Modi’s visit to US, the joint vision reiterated, “We affirm the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.” They also called on parties to avoid ‘threat or use of force and pursue resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of Sea.”

Beijing has not taken too kindly to this reference and a foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said that the ‘relevant dispute(s) should be resolved by parties directly concerned through peaceful talks and consultations.’ He also added that the situation in the South China Sea is ‘generally stable’ and there is ‘no problem with navigational freedom and freedom of overflight’.

Delhi and Washington have also pledged to ‘promote the shared values that have made our countries great’ and underlined their joint commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The vision speaks of developing a roadmap to increase ties among Asian powers, strengthening regional dialogue, and making trilateral consultations more robust.

C Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies, said this was the ‘most significant statement’ of the visit, which carried ‘deep import’. “Earlier statements had tentatively mentioned India’s approach to the region, often in elliptical ways. This is the most forthright signal by India of how it sees the region.”

He told HT there was a ‘correspondence of interests’ between India and US, and whenever there was positive momentum in the Indo-US ties, it did ‘animate Beijing’. When asked if this was a risky strategy, given Indian assymetry with China, he said, “We have very little wriggle room. There is no doubt we have to increase our own capacities. But a unipolar Asia with China as the dominant power is neither in Indian or American interest.”

Jayant Prasad, a former diplomat who has dealt with US, however believes that while the statement itself is significant because it is the first time US and India have put out a joint vision for Asia, ‘components of the statement’ are not very different from what India and US had said and done in the past or were doing currently. While noting the new elements, Prasad said that both Obama and Modi had mentioned shared democratic values in their joint Washington Post opinion piece; the reference to both South China Sea and trilateral consultations had also been only reiterated.
 
He cautioned, “This should not be read as any kind of alliance building against China for the simple reason that a seminal part of both India’s foreign policy and American policy is close engagement with Beijing.” 

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/