11 Oct 2017

6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes off Tonga
A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific nation of Tonga, US seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was shallow, striking 154 kilometres (95 miles) northwest of the village of Pangai, the administrative capital of the Ha’apai group of islands in central Tonga.

Deadly Madagascar Plague Outbreak Could Also Happen in the U.S., Infectious Disease Expert Warns
Plague outbreaks in Madagascar are largely caused by the pneumonic form of the disease. Unlike bubonic plague, which is spread through flea bites, pneumonic plague, an airborne illness, is spread through coughing. For that reason, it is one of the most contagious and most deadly strains. “We have plague cases every year out west,” says Small. “The only reason we have cases and not epidemics is because we invest in a public health system. However, if we continue to underinvest in public health, those cases could become epidemics here in the U.S.”

Tropical Storm Ophelia to Become Record-Tying 10th Straight Atlantic Hurricane Soon, Then an Intense Post-Tropical Storm off Ireland Next Week
Ophelia is likely to be the 10th straight Atlantic named storm to become a hurricane. This would tie the record for the most consecutive Atlantic named storms to reach hurricane strength.

‘Summoning the Demon,’ ‘Tower of Babel’: Debate Over AI God Heating Up
While some Silicon Valley technologists and maverick Christians embrace former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski’s idea to create a god based on artificial intelligence to make human society better, many scientific experts and politicians are scared by the prospect of worshiping a “god bot.”

Analysis: Fighters in inter-Arab ‘cold war’ dig in for the long haul
Four months after first flaring up, the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates shows no signs of abating. Indeed, new issues of contention keep opening up in this cold war that started when the four allies imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region and supporting terrorism, including through incitement by its Al Jazeera satellite station.

Russia: ISIS operates near US base in Syria unhindered
Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of allowing Islamic State to operate “under its nose” in Syria, saying Washington was letting the militant group move about freely in an area abutting a US military base. The allegations, made by Russia’s Defense Ministry, center on a US military base at Tanf, a strategic Syrian highway border crossing with Iraq in the south of the country.

North Korea crisis: US bombers conduct military drills
The US has conducted a joint military exercise with South Korea, flying two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula. The B-1B combat bombers were joined by two South Korean F-15K fighter jets, and carried out air-to-ground missile drills off South Korean waters. It comes amid heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear programme.

Catalonia: Spain takes step towards direct rule
Spain’s prime minister has put Catalonia on notice that it could impose direct rule on the region. Mariano Rajoy said he had asked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to confirm whether or not he has declared independence. The move is a first step towards activating Article 155 to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy.

Greek parliament approves law allowing legal gender change
Greece’s parliament has approved a new law that will make it easier for people to change their legal gender. Citizens over the age of 15 will now be able to change their gender with a court ruling and without requiring a medical operation. LGBT activists said the new law was an improvement, but criticised it for not doing enough to establish “full self-determination” for transgender people.

Mexico warns US about ending Nafta trade deal
Ending the North American Trade Agreement (Nafta) would break relations between Mexico and the US, the Mexican foreign minister has warned. Luis Videgaray was speaking ahead of a new round of trade talks this week between the US, Mexico and Canada. The talks to update the 1994 deal have become increasingly acrimonious, with Mexico and American business groups saying US proposals would hurt trade.

California fires: Scores missing as death toll rises to 17
More than 150 people are missing in wildfires that have ravaged northern California’s wine region, police say. At least 17 people are now confirmed dead and more than 2,000 buildings have been destroyed by the fires which broke out on Sunday. Eleven of the deaths have been in Sonoma County.

U.S. warship sails near islands Beijing claims in South China Sea – U.S. officials
A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Tuesday, three U.S. officials told Reuters, prompting anger in Beijing, even as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in reining in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

Russian authorities agree to regulate crypto-currency market
Russian authorities have agreed to regulate the crypto-currency market, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday, cited by TASS news agency. The minister’s comment comes the day after President Vladimir Putin discussed the issue with Siluanov, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, presidential economic aide Andrey Belousov, and Sergei Solonin, the head of online payment company Qiwi.

Trump names Eric Hargan as acting Health Secretary
President Donald Trump has appointed Eric Hargan as acting Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the White House said on Tuesday. Hargan, the deputy secretary of HHS, formerly served on Trump’s transition team for HHS. The appointment follows Tom Price’s resignation as HHS Secretary late in September over his use of costly private charter planes for government business.

MONSTER WAVE: Tsunami fears in Spain as HUGE active volcano experiences 40 quakes in 48 hours
RESIDENTS on the Canary islands are fearing a volcanic eruption after the Spanish archipelago was hit by more than 40 earthquake tremors in just 48 hours. Scientists have warned if the huge volcano erupts, it will likely collapse into the sea – sparking a mile-high tidal wave that would engulf Spain, Britain and the east coast of the US.

Tropical Storm Ophelia forms in the Atlantic; 15th named storm of 2017 hurricane season
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says that a depression in open Atlantic has strengthened to a tropical storm.

Alert raised: Japan’s Shinmoe volcano erupts for first time in six years
The eruption occurred at around 5:34am, with the plume rising about 300 metres above the crater. A small amount of ash fell in the town of Takaharu in Miyazaki but no injuries or damage have been reported so far, according to local police.

Israel hacked Kaspersky, then tipped off the NSA about what it found: the US agency’s cyber toolkit
Israelis spies had found the hacking material on the network of Kaspersky Lab, the global antivirus firm, now under a spotlight in the United States because of suspicions its products facilitate Russian espionage…the Department of Homeland Security instructed federal civilian agencies to identify Kaspersky Lab software on their networks and remove it…

Possible Next Head of UNESCO Has Nasty Anti-Semitic Ties: ADL
former Qatari Culture Minister Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, a leading candidate to become the next director-general of the United Nations cultural body UNESCO, has “overseen or endorsed projects that propagate base anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”

Plague outbreak in Madagascar spikes to almost 400 cases
Over the past 5 days, 230 new suspected plague cases were reported in Madagascar, with the disease spreading to seven more of the country’s districts, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in an update.

Anti-Trump Sen. Corker Resigns Amid Criminal Probe
Lost in the coverage of the announcement by Senator Bob Corker that he would not run is the fact the senator has been under FBI investigation for corruption because of a series of business enterprises where it appears he used his public position for his personal gain.

Google pushing hard for national law to criminalize Christian beliefs and federalize “transgender rights”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is pushing new legislation that would amend the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation.”

4 Ships Banned from All Ports for Violating NKorea Sanctions The U.N. Security Council has banned all nations from allowing four ships that transported prohibited goods to and from North Korea to enter any port in their country…He identified the four cargo ships as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun.

Obama ‘mocked Britain in secret, thought special relationship was a joke
Former US President Barack Obama thought his country’s “special relationship” with Britain was a joke and would slip Falklands references into press conferences to mock the UK, one of his ex-aides Jeremy Shapiro has claimed.

New FBI Crime Stats Show ‘White Privilege’ Might Not Be America’s Biggest Problem
…Newly released figures covering 2016 that break down arrests in terms of race illustrate how black people are still vastly over represented in virtually every crime category. Despite making up just 13% of the population, total arrests of black people reached 2,263,112 in 2016 compared to 5,858,330 arrests of white people, who make up around 73% of the population.

The Real Reason the Afghan War Turned 16 and is Still Going Strong (Video)
Over 31,000 civilian deaths have been documented in Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion. It should be noted that over the last few years, civilian deaths have substantially increased—which serves as a reminder that the situation is only getting worse.