Peggy McIlveene, 12/8/11

News for 12/6 & 12/7...

07 Dec 11

More than 1,900 people show up for free food at St. Petersburg charity
More than 1,900 people showed up to receive free boxes of food at Beaming Hope Church on Tuesday. Organizers planned for 500.  

School Yanks Carols Featuring Santa, God & Christmas <- This is getting ludicrous!!!
A New Jersey high school admits that it “inadvertently” censored Christmas songs that include the words God, Jesus, Santa, Christmas and Chanukah – in place of music that would not be “belief-specific.” Colin Curran, a student at West Windsor – Plainsboro High School South, wrote about the incident in a Huffington Post blog titled, “Christmas, I mean Holiday, Music.”  

Russia protests: Activists defiant after 800 arrests
Protesters against election fraud in Russia have called for new rallies as arrests in Tuesday's crackdown in Moscow and elsewhere reached 800. As police patrolled the capital, calls went out on social media for new protests to be held on Saturday, near the Kremlin and in other cities. State TV channels have ignored the protests, giving coverage only to rallies in support of the government.  

Hu Jintao tells China navy: Prepare for warfare
China's navy should speed up its development and prepare for warfare, President Hu Jintao has said. He told military personnel they should "make extended preparations for warfare". China is locked in territorial disputes with several other nations in the South China Sea. Political tension is also growing with the US, which is seeking to boost its presence in the region.  

Libya authorities 'to disarm Tripoli by 31 December'
The head of Tripoli's council has said residents of the Libyan capital have until the end of the month to hand over their weapons to the authorities. Abdul Rafik Bu Hajjar said he had been assured by the interim government that the entire city would be disarmed. Brigades of revolutionary fighters from outside the capital would leave by 20 December, and the Tripoli brigade would be dissolved on 31 December, he added.  

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood claims wins in run-off votes
The Muslim Brotherhood has said its political party has won a majority of run-off contests in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary election. Official results are not expected until Thursday, but the Freedom and Justice Party said it had won 36 of the 56 seats awarded to individual candidates. The Islamist group won almost 37% of the vote in earlier polling, which awarded seats according to party lists.  

06 Dec 11

After String of Disasters, Aid Organizations Struggle to Meet Demands
It's been a relentless run of disasters around the world lately, earthquakes in Japan, Haiti and Chile, tornadoes in the U.S., floods in Pakistan, Australia, and China. For relief organizations, it's been a challenge to keep up. (video)  

Court: NYC Can Ban Churches From School Buildings
The Supreme Court has rejected an evangelical church’s plea to overturn New York City’s ban on renting public schools for religious worship services. That means the city now has a green light to begin evicting congregations who pay rent to use public school buildings for church services.  

Recent Charges of Sexual Abuse of Children in Hollywood Just Tip of Iceberg, Experts Say
Martin Weiss, a 47-year-old Hollywood manager who represented child actors, was charged in Los Angeles on Dec. 1 with sexually abusing a former client. His accuser, who was under 12 years old during the time of the alleged abuse, reported to authorities that Weiss told him "what they were doing was common practice in the entertainment industry." On Nov. 21, Fernando Rivas, 59, an award-winning composer for “Sesame Street,” was arraigned on charges of coercing a child “to engage in sexually explicit conduct” in South Carolina.  

Merkel, Sarkozy propose new powers
French President Nicolas Sarkozy conceded to German insistence on deficit limits as a prerequisite to any aggressive assistance to Europe’s debt-addled governments beyond the bailouts already extended. Last week, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi also lent his support to a fiscal pact, alluding to “other elements” that might follow, he said, seeming to suggest central bank intervention in sovereign bond markets.  

108 giant Chinese infrastructure projects that are reshaping the world
From highways spanning the continent, to the largest wind power base in the world, to a modern Silk Road that links Europe and India, to new cities in the desert, China is showing what it really means to do big things.  

Worst drought in 200 years paralyses Danube river shipping
The worst drought in more than 200 years has paralysed shipping on the Danube river, including popular pleasure cruises, as shrinking water levels expose bombs and debris from the Second World War.  

No Senator Spoke Out Against Repeal of Military's Ban on Sodomy and Bestiality
Not a single member of the Senate spoke out last week against a provision in the defense authorization bill that will repeal the military's ban on sodomy and bestiality if the bill becomes law.  

Ebola vaccine developed
The researchers said that this is the first Ebola vaccine to remain viable long-term and can therefore be successfully stockpiled. The vaccine protects 80% of the mice injected with the deadly strain, and survives being "dried down and frozen," said biotechnologist Charles Arntzen from Arizona State University who was involved in its development.  

Prince Turki al-Faisal calls for stronger Gulf bloc, says Saudi may join nuke arms race
Prince Turki al-Faisal, chief of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, on Monday called on Gulf states to make the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) a powerful regional bloc with a unified armed force and a unified defense industry, a Saudi daily reported.  

North Korea making missile able to hit U.S.
The intelligence was revealed in a classified Capitol Hill briefing last month. Its existence was made public in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta from five House Republicans.  

Iran's Revolutionary Guards prepare for war
An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks. Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.  

Russia election protests: Troops sent to Moscow
Thousands of police and interior ministry troops are being deployed in Moscow, after protesters accused the authorities of rigging the election. Troop lorries were seen heading for the centre as the interior ministry said it aimed "to ensure the security of the citizens". Several thousand people attended Monday's protest, one of the biggest in the centre of the capital in years.  

Vaccine developed against Ebola
Scientists have developed a vaccine that protects mice against a deadly form of the Ebola virus. First identified in 1976, Ebola kills more than 90% of the people it infects. The researchers say that this is the first Ebola vaccine to remain viable long-term and can therefore be successfully stockpiled.  

Mexico's Calderon says drug gangs threatening democracy
Organised crime poses an "open threat" to democracy in Mexico, President Felipe Calderon has warned. Mr Calderon said attempts by drug gangs to manipulate elections was a "new and worrying fact". Speaking as his sixth and final year in office began, Mr Calderon also defended his decision to use troops to tackle the cartels.  

Nasrallah comes out of hiding, calls to arm against Israel
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a rare public appearance on Tuesday morning in southern Beirut during a ceremony to mark Ashura, according to official Hezbollah television station al-Manar. Dozens of security guards accompanied Nasrallah, who had not made a public appearance of this kind since 2008, during the ceremony which is the most important day in the Shi'ite calendar and commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.