Thursday, December 1, 2016

Another Major Quake: Peru (6.3), British Fighters To Overfly S. China Sea 'At A Time Of Rising Tensions'

Peru Rattled By 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake

On Thursday, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake shook the southern region of Peru, according to the US Geological Survey. The earthquake, originally reported as a 6.2 magnitude quake, has since been upgraded to a 6.3.

The quake originated roughly 19.9 miles beneath sea level, approximately 28 miles outside the town of Juliaca. Officials have said that the earthquake struck around 2:40 pm Pacific Standard Time.
Peru's National Institute for Civil Defence (INDECI) reported multiple damaged homes after the earthquake.
"In Lampa, 8 collapsed homes reported and 40 were affected in the Paratia district," INDECI said on Twitter.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.

An earthquake of 6.3 magnitude has hit southern Peru, the US Geological Survey reports. Several seismological reports have put the depth of the earthquake in the shallow range of 3-10 kilometers below the surface.
Germany’s GEOFON program reported the depth of the quake to be 10 kilometers, while USGS has revised its initial data to 3.6 kilometers.
The earthquake was centered 79 kilometers west-northwest of the city of Juliaca (population 245,675) and 106 kilometers northwest of Puno (population 116,552).

At least 130 houses have been damaged in Puno in Lampa Province, Diarrio Correo reported. Power was reportedly completely cut off in the city.

Among the buildings that sustained the most damage was the historic church adjacent to Enrique Torres Belón’s mausoleum, one of the main tourist attractions in the town of Lampa. The quake badly damaged the marbles and forced the church’s stones to crumble. Reuters reported that Lampa’s mayor Nicolas Quispe told RPP that some of the adobe houses have completely collapsed as result of the quake.

British fighter planes visiting Japan will fly over the South China Sea and Britain will sail aircraft carriers in the Pacific once they are operational in 2020, given concerns about freedom of navigation there, Britain's ambassador to the United States said on Thursday.

The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame.

Speaking at an event also attended by Japan's ambassador to Washington, Darroch said that most future British defense capacity would have to be directed toward the Middle East, but added:
"Certainly, as we bring our two new aircraft carriers onstream in 2020, and as we renew and update our defense forces, they will be seen in the Pacific.

"And we absolutely share the objective of this U.S. administration, and the next one, to protect freedom of navigation and to keep sea routes and air routes open."

In spite of Britain's preoccupations in the Middle East, "we will try to play our part" in the Pacific, he said.

Four British fighter planes arrived in Japan in October to take part in exercises with Japanese forces at a time of rising tensions over China's pursuit of disputed territory in East Asia, including the South and East China Seas.

Grim Hollande says he won't seek second term as French president

President Francois Hollande shocked France on Thursday by announcing he would not seek a second term next year, acknowledging his deep unpopularity and making way for another leftist candidate to take on conservative Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
The surprise announcement - effectively an admission that by running again he would hurt his Socialist party's chances - marks the first time since France's fifth Republic was created in 1958 that an incumbent president has not sought a second mandate.

"I am aware today of the risk that going down a route that would not gather sufficient support would entail, so I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election," a sombre-looking Hollande said in a televised address.

Europe Turns Towards Russia in Major Foreign Policy Change

Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, believes that Europe does not need to dependent on US foreign policy regarding its relationship with Russia.
In his interview with Euronews, the EU Commission President said that he «would like to have an agreement with Russia that goes beyond the ordinary framework, bearing in mind that without Russia, there is no security architecture in Europe». Mr. Juncker noted that «Russia must be treated as one big entity, as a proud nation». The president emphasized that he «would like to have discussions on a level footing with Russia». He thinks that President Obama was wrong saying that Russia was only «a regional power».
There are reasons to make Mr. Juncker make such a statement at this particular momen

This is also the time the so-called «pro-Russian» politicians gaining more clout in the Old Continent. Actually, they are not exactly pro-Moscow but rather pro-national, putting national interests at the top spots of their priority lists. For them, the interests of their countries are more important than the priorities of the US or the EU. They believe that normalizing the relations with Moscow is what meets the national interests to make it part of foreign policy plans.
Two weeks ago, such leaders came to power in Bulgaria and Moldova. The EU’s image has been damaged in both countries, where the public perceives economic progress as too slow and sees a failure to tackle corruption by nominally pro-EU leaders.
François Fillon - a politician advocating rapprochement between Russia and the EU - won the center-right nomination for French presidency on November 27. His victory means that two «pro-Russia» candidates - François Fillon and Marine Le Pen – will probably face each other off at the presidential election in April 2017.
A presidential election will take place in Austria on December 4. Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party has a good chance to win. According to what he has said during the election campaign, Mr. Hofer will consider pulling out of the EU and visit Moscow, if elected president. He promised «to show my strong commitment to the withdrawal of sanctions against Russia because I am firmly convinced that sanctions hinder communication».
If the Italian referendum on December 4 says «no» to the major government overhaul plans, then a snap election will become a possibility to benefit the Italy's Northern League party, which advocates the improvement of relations with Russia. Its leader, Matteo Salvini, has visited Moscow and Crimea a number of times and called for lifting the EU-imposed sanctions.
Some signs to confirm the trend of changing EU’s policy on Russia are largely kept out headlines. In late October, the EU lifted a cap on Gazprom's use of the Opal pipeline in Germany, opening the way for Russia to expand Nord Stream's capacity and bypass Ukraine as a gas transit route. The Nord Stream-2 has been recently supported by London. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is an outspoken advocate of the project.

University with history of anti-Christian bias denies credits to students volunteering at church

According to, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is a publicly funded school that gives out credits for rendering volunteer services and community service.
However, as two students soon discovered, the university has a bias about what it will dole out credits for and what it won’t. More accurately, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will give you credit for volunteering at a Planned Parenthood, but it will not give you any credit for volunteering at a location that involves Christian beliefs.
Two university students were refused credit for leading a class of Catholic youth to understand Christianity, Latin, and Biblical history, to improve their reading skills, and to understand character integrity and interpersonal forgiveness. Alexandra Liebl and Madelyn Rysavy concluded the university is bias against service learning in a religious environment because the classes met at a Catholic church and focused on Christian values and beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) agreed with the students and filed a legal complaint alleging their constitutional rights were violated because “no public university should ever use a community service program as a vehicle to advance and instill anti-religious bias.”

“If the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire wants to require its students to perform community service, it must treat all forms of community service as equally valuable,” says Travis Barham, attorney at the ADF. “The Constitution and federal court precedent prohibit it from targeting religious community service and denying students credit for it. That kind of animosity toward and discrimination against religion is unconstitutional.”

The legal complaint filed by the ADF can be read here.
It should be noted that the University of Wisconsin has a history of seeking to punish its Christian students for practicing their faith.

This includes the case of Lance Steiger who hosted bible study in his dorm room for those interested. Steiger was told he must desist or face “disciplinary action,” because it might make he and his fellow Christian students less “approachable.” The university also refused to recognize a Christian student group called InterVarsity, stating that the group violated their nondiscrimination policy.
And these are just two of seven examples of how Christians have had to fight discrimination at the University of Wisconsin.

Jimmy Carter’s Israel Criticism & Palestinian Recognition Call

Jimmy Carter is 92 now, and it has been 36 years since his landslide defeat for reelection. But neither the passage of time nor the debilities of age slow him from making proposals that will do real harm to the State of Israel — and he has just tried one more time.

In Monday’s New York Times, he writes that “America must recognize Palestine” and presents a version of Israeli reality that simply takes leave of the facts. Carter tells us that “the simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membersh

As Assad Pushes into Aleppo, Rebellion's Future Unclear

The Syrian army's push into rebel-held areas of Aleppo continues, and entire districts of Syria's largest city have been returning to government control for the first time in years.

As Assad's forces backed by their Russian allies pound eastern Aleppo, the human suffering mounts and so do questions about whether this signals the end is near for the six-year-old Syrian insurgence.

Some observers think it does.

"The loss of eastern Aleppo in its entirety would signal the beginning of the end of the rebellion, definitely," said Samir Puri, a lecturer on International Relations at Kings College, London.

Aleppo is the last major foothold, and rebel leaders insist that by retaining control of Idlib province and other parts of Syria the war is not ending anytime soon.

But the loss of Aleppo by the mostly Muslim Sunni rebel groups carries big symbolism, which in war, is important.

"With the fall of Aleppo, the rebellion won't end overnight, but it will be dealt such a significant symbolic blow. This is of course Syria's biggest city. The rebels have held it since 2012 and it's very difficult to imagine how the rebellion would be able to, in the context of peace talks, present themselves as a credible political force without some hold in Aleppo," said Puri, who recently authored the book Fighting and Negotiating with Armed Groups:the Difficulty of Securing Strategic Outcomes.

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