Possibly the most dangerous flashpoint today


India launches air strike inside Pakistan; Islamabad denies militant camp hit

By Abu Arqam Naqash and Sanjeev Miglani

Reuters
India launches air strike inside Pakistan; Islamabad denies militant camp hit
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By Abu Arqam Naqash and Sanjeev Miglani

BALAKOT, Pakistan/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India said its warplanes killed “a very large number” of fighters when they struck a militant training camp inside Pakistan on Tuesday, raising the risk of conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors, although Pakistan officials denied there had been casualties.

Pakistan said it would respond at a time and place of its choice, with a military spokesman even alluding to its nuclear arsenal, highlighting the escalation in hostile rhetoric from both two sides since a suicide bombing in Kashmir this month.

The spokesman said a command and control authority meeting, which decides over the use of nuclear weapons, had been convened for Wednesday, adding: “You all know what that means.”

The air strike near Balakot, a town 50 km (30 miles) from the frontier, was the deepest cross-border raid launched by India since the last of its three wars with Pakistan in 1971 but there were competing claims about the damage it caused.

The Indian government, facing an election in the coming months, said the air strikes hit a training camp belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the group that claimed the suicide car bomb attack that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir on Feb. 14.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said “a very large number” of militants were killed in the strikes in northeast Pakistan.

“The existence of such training facilities, capable of training hundreds of jihadis, could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities,” Gokhale said. Pakistan denies harboring JeM.

A senior Indian government source said that 300 militants had been killed in the strikes and that the warplanes had ventured as far as 80 km (50 miles) inside Pakistan. But no evidence was provided to back up the claims of casualties.

The government said the action was ordered as India said it had intelligence that Jaish was planning more attacks.

Pakistani officials dismissed the Indian claims, saying the Indian aircraft had dropped their bombs in a wooded area, causing no damage or casualties.

Villagers near the town of Balakot were shaken from their sleep by the air strikes. They said only one person was wounded in the attack and they knew of no fatalities.

“We saw fallen trees and one damaged house, and four craters where the bombs had fallen,” said Mohammad Ajmal, a 25-year-old who visited the site.

A resident, who did not want to give his name, said there was a nearby madrasa Islamic college run by Jaish, though most villagers were guarded in talking about any militant neighbors.

JeM is a primarily anti-India group that forged ties with al Qaeda and has been on a U.N. terrorist list since 2001. In December 2001, Jaish fighters, along with members of another Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, attacked India’s parliament, which almost led to a fourth war.

HOSPITALS ON ALERT

There has been mounting impatience in India to avenge the Feb. 14 attack, which was the most deadly seen in Kashmir during an insurgency that has last three decades, and as news of the raid broke, celebrations erupted across the country.

“I want to assure you our country is in safe hands,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to cheers at a rally in western India hours after the raid. “I won’t let the country down.”

Pakistan’s top civilian and military leaders rejected India’s comments that it had struck a “terrorist camp” inside Pakistan, warning that they would retaliate.

Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC), comprising top officials including Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, said Khan would “engage with global leadership to expose irresponsible Indian policy”. It also warned that “Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing” to Indian aggression.

China, Pakistan’s long-time ally, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged both countries to exercise restraint.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Indian diplomats met foreign ambassadors to assure them no escalation was planned.

But as fears grew that the conflict could escalate, hospitals in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were ordered to set a quarter of beds aside for “a national cause”, officials said.

“We put all hospitals in the province on high alert due to the present situation on the border with India and issued directives to all heads of the hospitals to be prepared for any sort of emergency,” provincial secretary health Dr Farooq Jameel told Reuters.

Indian and Pakistan troops exchanged gunfire along several sectors of their contested border in Kashmir later on Tuesday and local officials on the Pakistani side said at least four people had been killed and seven wounded.

Giving the Pakistan military’s account of the Indian incursion, spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said Pakistani aircraft were patrolling and identified Indian jets on the Indian side of the border near Okara and Lahore in Punjab as well as Muzaffarabad where they crossed and were engaged. They left Pakistani airspace after only four minutes.

He denied the incursion had caused any damage, saying there was no debris, “not even a single brick” and no casualties.

“You have proved you are not a democracy, you have chosen the path of war,” he said, addressing his remarks to India.

(Additional reporting by James Mackenzie, Drazen Jorgic, Asif Shahzad, Fayaz Bukhari, Neha Dasgupta, Aftab Ahmed, Nidhi Verma; and Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Alasdair Pal and Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Alison Williams and James Dalgleish)

Posted in fence controls, foreign policies, India, Uncategorized, WAR | Tagged | Leave a comment

Frigid Weather in Port Huron, Michigan and Super Pollution in Bangkok, Thailand Each Close Schools


Bangkok schools closed over ‘unhealthy’ pollution levels

Smog Bangkok Image copyright AFP/Getty Image
Image caption The smog is among the worst Thailand has ever seen

Toxic smog in Bangkok has forced more than 400 schools to close for the rest of the week, to protect children from its harmful effects.

Thailand’s capital city is experiencing some of its worst-ever air pollution levels, caused by ultra-fine dust particles known as PM2.5.

Traffic exhaust, construction works, burning crops and pollution from factories are blamed for the haze.

Authorities’ efforts to clear the air have so far failed.

Smog masks Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Specialist respirator masks to filter the particles have quickly sold out

The government has tried seeding rain clouds, reducing traffic, and hosing down streets, with little impact.

Those celebrating the Lunar New Year holidays next week have been asked not to burn incense or light fireworks.

Smog Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The smog has smothered the city for the past few weeks
Gas masks Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Dust particles can cause inflammation of the lungs

According to The World Air Quality Index project (AQICN), Bangkok’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is currently at around 170, making it “unhealthy”.

But that still doesn’t match New Delhi, which is currently hovering around 390, a “hazardous” level of pollution.

Cars Bangkok Image copyright

North America now suffering under Artic Polar cold front with some temps at -57 actual and many wind chills below -60.  Schools here in Port Huron closed Monday – Thursday, maybe Friday.  Frostbite here was in less than 10 minutes on exposed skin.

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Russian claims of political territorial Oversight of Ukrainian state drastically challenged.


Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks away from Russian influence

ISTANBUL (AP) — An independent Ukrainian Orthodox church was created at a signing ceremony in Turkey on Saturday, formalizing a split with the Russian church it had been tied to since 1686.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, signed the “Tomos” in Istanbul in front of clerics and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, forming the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

It forces Ukrainian clerics to pick sides between the Moscow-backed Ukrainian churches and the new church as fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

“The pious Ukrainian people have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries,” Bartholomew I said in his address.

The patriarch, considered “first among equals” in Orthodox Christianity, said Ukrainians could now enjoy “the sacred gift of emancipation, independence and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention.”

Poroshenko thanked Bartholomew I “for the courage to make this historic decision” and said that “among the 15 stars of the Orthodox churches of the world a Ukrainian star has appeared,” referring to the updated number of churches that don’t answer to an external authority.

Last month, Ukrainian Orthodox leaders approved the creation of a new, unified church split from the Moscow Patriarchate and elected 39-year-old Metropolitan Epiphanius I to lead it.

Bartholomew I’s decision in October to grant the Ukrainian church “autocephaly,” or independence, infuriated Moscow and the Russian church severed ties with Istanbul, the center of the Orthodox world.

Criticism continued Saturday when a spokesman for the Russia-affiliated church in Ukraine, Vasily Anisimov, said, “We consider these actions to be anti-canonical … This action will not bring anything to Ukraine except trouble, separation and sin,” according to Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.

Kiev has been pushing for a church free from Moscow’s influence, which intensified after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and amid the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko, president since 2014, has pushed for the creation of the church as he campaigns for a March 31 election. Though the church is not formally part of the state, it is closely tied. Recent opinion polls suggest he is in second or third place in the race.

Poroshenko met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the ceremony.

___

Associated Press writers Yuras Karmanau in Minsk, Belarus, and Jim Heintz in Moscow, contributed to this report.

Posted in + KIRILL Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, authority, Eastern Orthodoxy, foreign policies, history, Russia, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Millennials Using Nude Photos as Collateral on Loan Payments


Millennials Using Nude Photos as Collateral on Loan Payments

China has found a way to revolutionize the way young people do business. Through a system known as a microloan, young millennials in China have the ability to take out loans for anything they can’t pay for in cash.

This includes everything from cookies to jacuzzi’s and the monthly repayment installments can be as low as 40 cents (depending on what was purchased).

Never mind the fact that it may take 60 years to pay most of the loans off, and never mind the fact that the interest is outlandish and that the loan companies require nude photos as collateral. Wait…what? That’s right!

According to China Youth Daily, some lenders are taking full advantage of the desperation of young shoppers by demanding naked selfies that will be sent to the borrowers family and friends if they default on the loan. Yikes!

It’s a new day!

Social media has elevated this “naked loan service” to astronomical levels by making the loan service easily and readily available to any young person (18-years or older) who can’t get a credit card and who is deficient in the cash department.

You got that right… if customers take a photo of themselves naked while holding up their identification, they will guarantee their loan…even if it’s for just enough money to buy a burger.

Most of the young people who have defaulted on their loans found that they had to record themselves in sexual acts to get the favor of extending their loan. This problem is so common that the Chinese government had to create a multi-ministry task force to help deal with the predatory lenders.

Will American millennials follow this example?

There was a time when one could easily say that there are certain things that American’s just won’t do for the sake of money. Those days are actually gone. Millennials in America are already wondering how they can get access to this loan service, according to Reuters.

American millennials with bad credit, no jobs, no credit cards, and no hope are finding themselves more desperate than ever, and they are more than willing to take it all off for the sake of securing a small loan.

“What’s the big deal,” said one hopeful 20-something who said he would use the money to invest. “If the money is used for something that can make more money, and you pay it off, you wouldn’t have to worry about anyone ever seeing your naked photos,” he continued. This is the attitude that is growing throughout the nation, which makes it even more difficult for governments to crack down on these types of dodgy lenders.

What can we do to stop this?

Attempting to stop technological mishaps is like attempting to stop progress. Unfortunately, the moment young adults find something that works for them (at least in their mind) they run full force without considering the implications.

Just take a look at how many young adults (as well as a few of the older ones) are dumb enough to place naked photos of themselves on their social media pages. They are doing this for mere “likes” so imagine if they had the opportunity to do it for money!

Keeping an eye on legislation that attempts to ward off these types of threats is one way to assist in the fight to keep it at bay in America. We can also continue to support our young adults by remaining aware of the danger of predatory lending and how it can easily get out of hand.

If we keep a watchful eye, we just may eliminate any opportunity for this to become a reality in America…but then again, for all we know…it’s already here.

Posted in Business, China, cultural shifts, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

No Comment About Brazilian Anglicans


ANGLICAN CHURCH CELEBRATES THE FIRST GAY MARRIAGE IN SÃO PAULO.(BRAZIL)

“Reverend Arthur says the ceremony will be traditional, like the rite that united Prince Harry with the actress Meghan Markle in May of this year, and the cousin of Queen Elizabeth, Lord Ivar Mountbatten with partner James Coyle, in September, who also are Anglicans.”

g1.globo.com
Cerimônia será tradicional, como o casamento do príncipe Harry, també
(Brazilian Language spoken in Brazil)
Posted in Anglican, Christian moral influence, church, cultural blinders, cultural shifts, culture differences, gay marriage, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

There still exists a powerful relic connected to St. Michael the Archangel. (you may find this a different kind of spirituality)


There still exists a powerful relic connected to St. Michael the Archangel

SAINT MICHAEL GROTTO

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And it is frequently used during exorcisms.

In the Catholic Church, there is an ancient tradition of veneration by the faithful of objects associated with a particular saint. These objects are called “relics” and fall into three primary categories.

A first-class relic is all or part of the physical remains of a saint. This could be a piece of bone, a vial of blood, a lock of hair, or even a skull or incorrupt body.

A second-class relic is any item that the saint frequently used (clothing, for example).

A third-class relic is any item that touches a first or second-class relic.

Typically these relics are connected to a human saint, but in at least one instance, there still exists a relic that is associated with a celestial being.

According to tradition, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to an Italian bishop in 493 and consecrated a nearby cave. This became known as the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo sul Gargano, more commonly referred to as Monte Gargano. It is one of the oldest shrines dedicated to St. Michael and was the center of Christian pilgrimages.

St. Michael said to the bishop, “I am the archangel Michael, and I have chosen to dwell in that place on earth and to keep it safe.” When they arrived to consecrate the cave, St. Michael said, “It is not necessary that you dedicate this church that I myself have consecrated with my presence.”

A legend says that one of the stones contains St. Michael’s footprint.

Over a thousand years later St. Michael appeared again at the shrine where he told the bishop, “I am the Archangel St. Michael. Anyone who uses the stones of this grotto will be liberated.” Since then tiny stones from this grotto have been distributed around the world and are known as “St. Michael Relic Stones.” According to exorcist Fr. Chad Ripperger, these stones have been used in exorcisms and are known to be effective at expelling the presence of the devil. This is in accord with the traditional practice of exorcists using relics during exorcisms, invoking the intercession of holy saints and angels against the actions of Satan.

These relics still exist today at the Shrine of Monte Gargno and are frequently used by priests and laity as a sacramental that helps deepen a person’s love to God through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel. A certificate of authenticity accompanies these stones to verify that they were taken from the cave that St. Michael consecrated with his presence.

Posted in Michael, the Archangel, spirituality, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

EAST MEETS WEST. ****** OOPS.


Fr. Orthohippo

Fr. Ernesto has begun articles outlining differences between Eastern Christianity and Christianity from the West. The post below comes from his blog, Orthocuban found on my blogroll. It is quite helpful for we of the West to understand how our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters differ from us in emphasis. We are not always right simply because we grew up in the West. Check this out.  Fr.  Orthohippo

Photo is St. John Anglican Church, Macomb Township, Michigan, USA

From theEuropean Institute of Protestant Studiescomes this excellent summary of how the theological and philosophical differences grew between Orthodoxy and the West. Surprisingly, this excellent summary is by a pastor whom I consider to be a radical on many theological issues. But, his writing on this topic is quite good.

But after about 400 AD, you need to remember the four A’s to understand something of how the west (Catholic and…

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