April 1st, 2014
The quake, which was centered 61 miles west-northwest of Iquique, Chile, and was 6.21 miles deep, was initially measured at 8.0, but was later upgraded, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a six-foot tsunami that hit Pisagua, Chile, at 8:04 p.m. ET. There was some damage reported on roads linking northern towns between Iquique and Alto Auspicio, but it wasn't immediately clear how much.
A tsunami alert was initially issued for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, but was later extended to Colombia and Panama. Tsunami watches were issued for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
The warnings were later canceled for everywhere but Chile and Peru.
The shaking the quake caused in La Paz, Bolivia, was the equivalent of a 4.5-magnitude tremor, authorities there said.
The quake triggered as at least eight strong aftershocks in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor.
In Chile, evacuation orders were issued for the cities of Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta. All cities were along a low coast and each evacuation involved a significant climb to higher land further inland, ABC News producer Helen Hughes said from Santiago, Chile.
Salvador Urrutia, the mayor of Arica, said there were minor injuries in the city but no deaths reported. Some homes were damaged, but the modern structures and taller buildings were not damaged.
He said the city was without power and had no cellphone service.
Despite the fear caused by the evacuation order, which was not limited to the coast, he said people remained calm....
April 1st, 2014
UK Daily Mail
A triumphant President Barack Obama declared Tuesday his signature medical insurance overhaul a success, saying it has made America's health care system 'a lot better' in a Rose Garden press conference.
But buried in the 7.1 million enrollments he announced in a heavily staged appearance is a more unsettling reality.
Numbers from a RAND Corporation study that has been kept under wraps suggest that barely 858,000 previously uninsured Americans – nowhere near 7.1 million – have paid for new policies and joined the ranks of the insured by Monday night.
Others were already insured, including millions who lost coverage when their existing policies were suddenly cancelled because they didn't meet Obamacare's strict minimum requirements.
Still, he claimed that 'millions of people who have health insurance would not have it' without his insurance law.'
'The goal we’ve set for ourselves – that no American should go without the health care they need ... is achievable,' Obama declared.
The president took no questions from reporters, but celebrated the end of a rocky six-month open-enrollment period by taking pot shots at Republicans who have opposed the law from the beginning as a government-run seizure of one-seventh of the U.S. economy.
'The debate over repealing this law is over,' he insisted. 'The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.'
The president also chided conservatives 'who have based their entire political agenda on repealing it,' and praised congressional Democrats for their partisan passage of the law without a single GOP vote.
'We could not have done it without them, and they should be proud of what they've done,' Obama boasted, in a clear nod to November's contentious elections in which Republicans are expected to make large gains on an anti-Obamacare platform because of the law's general lack of popularity.
'In the end,' he warned the GOP, 'history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security. ... That's what the Affordable Care Act represents.'
'“The bottom line is this,' said Obama: 'The share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth in the cost of insurance is down. There’s no good reason to go back.'
Republicans will differ with that assessment as Election Day nears. They need to gain a net total of six Senate seats in order to reclaim the majority and control both houses of Congress, a goal that appears reachable since two-thirds of the seats being contested are held by Democratic incumbents.
No national political analyst has predicted a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.
White House press secretary Jay Carney stopped short of saying 'I told you so,' but chided a sparse press corps in the briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for ever doubting that the Obamacare system would enroll more than 7 million Americans.
'At midnight last night we surpassed everyone's expectations,' he boasted, 'at least everyone in this room.'
While he took great pains to emphasize that the total would grow – saying 'we're still waiting on data from state exchanges' – he dodged tough questions about other statistics that reporters thought he should have had at the ready.
Those numbers included how many Americans have paid for their insurance policies, and are actually insured. Also, he had no answer to the thorny question of how few signups represented people who had no insurance before the Affordable Care Act took effect.
Aside from the issue of the numbers' likely decrease when non-paying enrollments are taken into account, administration officials have been coy about the RAND Corporation study, which suggests that relatively few Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured.
'What I can tell you is that we expect there to be a good mix of people who were previously uninsured who now have insurance,' Carney said Monday.
'Certainly, there’s a significant number who now have qualified for Medicaid in those states that expanded Medicaid who will have insurance who didn’t have it before.'
In addition to his claim of 7.1 million enrollments, Obama also announced that 'three million young people' under age 26 have gained coverage as add-ons to their parents' policies. and 'millions more ... gained access through Medicaid expansion,' he said.
Those totals – young adults attached to their parents' insurance and new taxpayer-funded Medicaid subscribers – far exceed the 7.1 million number the White House trumpeted on Tuesday.
The Affordable Care Act carried with it the promise of covering 'every American,' and it appears to have fallen tremendously short.
April 1st, 2014
New York Daily Post
The Spaniards – Margarita Torres and José Ortega del Río – believe the 2,000-year-old vessel is in a church in León in northern Spain.
The pair spent three years studying the history of the chalice and last week published a book, “The Kings of the Grail,” making their case.
The onyx chalice, they explained, was concealed within another antique vessel known as the Chalice of Doña Urruca, which is located in León’s basilica of Saint Isidore.
The historians said it has been there since the 11th century.“This is a very important discovery because it helps solve a big puzzle,” Torres told The Irish Times. “We believe this could be start of a wonderful stage of research.”
She said the duo had been researching the history of some Islamic remains in the Saint Isidore basilica. But their discovery of two medieval Egyptian documents that mentioned the chalice of Christ caused them to change direction, the paper reported.
Those parchments told a tale of how Muslims took the sacred cup from the Christian community in Jerusalem to Cairo.
It was then given to an emir on Spain’s Mediterranean coast in return for help he gave to Egyptians who were suffering a famine.
The historians’ research has been backed up by scientific dating, which estimates that the cup in question was made between 200 BC and 100 AD.
The scientists admit the first 400 years of the cup’s history remain a mystery and they can’t prove the chalice ever actually touched Christ’s lips.
But they insist there is no doubt that this is the cup that the early Christians revered as the chalice used at the Last Supper.
“The only chalice that could be considered the chalice of Christ is that which made the journey to Cairo and then from Cairo to León – and that is this chalice,” said Torres, who teaches medieval history at the University of León.
Countless scientists and historians have pursued the Holy Grail, an effort chronicled in Arthurian legend, made into pulp adventure with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and satirized by the British Comedy troupe Monty Python in 1975’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
March 31st, 2014
The Israeli PM harshly criticized the UN Human Rights Council for condemning Israel in five resolutions lately. Tel Aviv is under heavy pressure of the international community trying to prevent the collapse of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Speaking at a regular weekly meeting of lawmakers and ministers, members of Likud party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the global human rights watchdog of prejudice against the state of Israel.
"Over the weekend the UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel five times, this at a time when the slaughter in Syria is continuing, innocent people are being hung in the Middle East and human rights are being eroded,” Netanyahu declared, adding that at the same period of time the UN censured Iran and Syria just once.
“In many countries free media are being shut down and the UN Human Rights Council decides to condemn Israel for closing off a balcony. This is absurd. This march of hypocrisy is continuing and we will continue to condemn it and expose it,” Israeli PM promised to his cabinet.
Finalizing its 25th session on Friday, the 47-member UNHRC almost unanimously (46-1) voted on four resolutions condemning violations of human rights of Palestinians in Israel. The fifth resolution condemning Israel was issued in regard of the human rights abuses of Syrian nationals of Israel who live in the Golan Heights, annexed by Israel in 1981. The voting on this resolution resulted in 33 to 1, with 13 abstentions.
All in all, the UNHRC adopted 42 resolutions on various issues, of them only 10 censured a specific country, which means that half of them were leveled against Israel.
The only country that sided with Israel, voting against all of the five resolutions was the US, noted an Israeli official quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
“It’s a pity that some Western democracies choose to jump on the automatic anti-Israel bandwagon at the UNHRC,” an Israeli official said, contradistinguishing their position to the official stance of the United States.
“They showed moral leadership,” said the Israeli official, resenting the fact that 33 countries approved resolution condemning Israeli actions on the Golan Heights as “almost a bad joke,” particularly upsetting because Israeli hospitals are treating scores of victims of the Syrian civil war.
At the same time Israeli PM maintained that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are eliminating any “infiltrators” from the Syrian territory.
“Over the weekend we experienced an incident on the Golan Heights. The IDF foiled an attempt to infiltrate the border and hit those who approached the fence. We will continue to respond to any attempt to attack us and to the best of our ability, as initiated policy, we will foil these attacks before they occur. This is the essence of our ongoing policy; it works and is achieving results,” The Jewish Press quoted Netanyahu as saying.
March 31st, 2014
A MAGNITUDE 4.8 earthquake has shaken Yellowstone National Park and rattled observers of one of the world’s deadliest super volcanoes.
The quake — the most powerful in 30 years — struck near the Wyoming border with Montana yesterday, almost in the centre of the United States’ most famous national park.
Late last year a new study into the enormous super volcano found the underground magma chamber to be 2.5 times larger than previously thought — a cavern spanning some 90km by 30km and capable of holding 300 billion cubic kilometres of molten rock.
If the sleeping giant were to wake, the outflow of lava, ash and smoke would devastate the United States and affect the entire world.
NBC News this morning reported a spokesman for the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory as saying the super volcano’s thin crust moved near the Norris Geyser Basin. There was no significant damage from the quake, he added.
The quake is not expected to initiate any volcanic activity.
Geologists have been closely watching the enormous Yellowstone Plateau in recent years with increasing evidence the enormous underground magma chamber is gradually filling with molten rock.
In recent times the national park has been lifted an average of 7cm a year. This is three times more than when measurements began in 1923.
Earthquakes in the area are not uncommon. In fact, the region records between 1 and 20 shakes on a daily basis. They rarely reach 3.0 on the intensity scale, however.
Four aftershocks kept the Park rocking overnight, ranging from 3.1 to 3.3 in strength.
The latest earthquake struck at 6:34 a.m. near the Norris Geyser Basin and was felt about 23 miles away in two small Montana towns adjacent to year-around entrances to the park - Gardiner and West Yellowstone.
The national park spans 3,472 square miles (8,992 square km) of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and draws about 3 million visitors each year to its iconic geysers and wildlife attractions, including bison.
A U.S. Geological Survey team planned to tour the Norris Geyser Basin on Sunday to determine if the quake altered any of Yellowstone's geothermal features, such as geysers, mud pots and hot springs.
Several people reported having felt shaking they compared to the rumble of a tractor-trailer truck driving by, and a few items fell off the shelves at a local grocery store, a West Yellowstone police dispatcher said.
About 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes strike Yellowstone each year, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a research partnership of the park, the University of Utah and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The ancient super-volcano, or caldera, that lies beneath the surface of the park was discovered by scientists in recent years to be 2.5 times larger than previously thought, measured at 30 miles wide, according to the park.
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