Freak wave floods village in southern Thailand

The Extinction Protocol

December 25, 2011 THAILANDAbout one hundred people in southern Thailand were evacuated Sunday when a large wave flooded their coastal village, a local official said. The three-to-four metre high wave inundated a shore on the Gulf of Thailand, causing floods of one metre deep in a village of Chumphon province, according to provincial governor Pinich Charoenpanich. He said officials helped evacuate about a hundred people to a safe place further inland, and were expected to return home when the waters had subsided and the wind dropped. There were no casualties reported. “This high wave would be normal for fisherman out at sea but this time it happened near the shore, so it caused flooding on the land,” he said. The country was battered by an Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 that killed an estimated 5,400 people in Thailand alone. The tsunami, triggered by an earthquake off the…

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Hi-tech man made insects to help finding survivors

Flying insects fitted with tiny cameras and microphones could be used to search for earthquake survivors during rescue operations, scientists have said.

The tiny devices will power themselves by harnessing power from wing movements.

By converting kinetic energy into electricity, the device could have a lasting power source.

The device could also harness electricity from heat given off and solar panels.

The idea is that once fitted with a camera and a microphone the bugs could be released into collapsed buildings and left to explore.

They could also be used by the military or sent to places which are too dangerous for humans like the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Professor Khalil Najafi and an engineering student are developing the technology to ‘scavenge’ electricity from the body at the University of Michigan.

The project is being paid for by the government-run Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Tiny spy cam: The 'piezoelectric energy harvester' produces electricity when the bug moves while the thermoelectric harvester produces power from heat. The bug is a green june beetle

Professor Najafi said: ‘Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack.

‘We could then send these “bugged” bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go.’

The team have already been able to harness power from the wing movement of a green june beetle. The bug is less than an inch long.

The first flight tests could be carried out next year.

The university is pursuing patents for the technology and are seeking investors to help them pursue the project.

Scientists have been working for years to develop the first cyborg insects.

Previously there have been attempts to get bugs to sniff out toxic substances.
Source: DailyMail

Russia in Revolution

Moscow – Mikhail had not been on a demonstration before. But on Saturday the 46-year-old property salesman joined tens of thousands of Russians in huge protests against Vladimir Putin, the former KGB chief who has held the nation in such a tight grip for 12 years.

Ignoring the freezing weather, Mikhail was swept along in the sea of flag-waving demonstrators demanding an end to Putin’s rule. ‘You can feel that things are changing,’ he said. ‘We’re not afraid any more.’

Organisers claimed 120,000 people took part in the Moscow protest, which would make it the biggest since the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago. Other major events took place across Russia — a handful of hardy activists even braved temperatures of -15c in one town by the Kazakh border.

The depth of anger and scale of the protests has shaken the Kremlin to its core, and rattled a leader who prides himself on his iron man image and rigorous control of the country.

Inevitably, the sudden eruption of anger has drawn comparisons with the Arab spring.

Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger and the movement’s most charismatic leader, told the Moscow rally this weekend that there were enough protesters to take over the Kremlin immediately if they chose to.

‘We are a peaceful force, we won’t do that — yet. But if the crooks and thieves continue trying to deceive us and lie to us, we will take power ourselves. It is ours.’

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sent a message of support — and later called on Putin to quit. Other speakers included Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion; Alexei Kudrin, who recently resigned as Putin’s finance minister; and Grigory Chkhartishvili, better known as Russia’s leading crime writer under his pen name Boris Akunin.

Like many involved in this middle-class uprising, Chkhartishvili is new to politics but fed up with their posturing prime minister. ‘Putin is out of date, he is obsolete,’ he told me last week. ‘All of a sudden he looks ridiculous.’

He said the demonstrations were about decency and dignity — echoing two words I have heard so often this year in Libya, Syria and Egypt — rather than poverty or jobs. ‘The people protesting have everything but they are not happy. They feel insulted by the things going on around them.’

What do they hope to achieve? ‘I want not to feel ashamed about my state and my government,’ said Chkhartishvili. ‘They lie, they cheat, they corrupt everything they touch. I have felt this for several years but now the whole middle-class feel the same.’

These are courageous words in a country that still resorts to Soviet-style repression, with anti-Putin businessmen bankrupted, journalists beaten and dissidents disappearing in the middle of the night.

So was he worried about the risk? No, he says. The authorities are in no position to fight this extraordinary groundswell of protest. ‘It would not make sense — it would be like breaking the thermometer when a fever is raging.’

Like so many explosions of unrest that caught the world by surprise this year, there were warning signs: little-noticed flickers of fightback from ordinary people against the strong-arm tactics of a brutal, corrupt state. Increasingly, a new generation used the internet to circumvent Putin’s control of television.

Take Yevgenia Chirikova, a stylish mother-of-two who has emerged as another of the leading lights in the movement. An unlikely rebel, she focused on her family and thriving business like so many Russians in the booming economy under Putin — until she went for a walk in an ancient oak forest near her Moscow home four years ago.

After seeing red paint marks on the trees, she discovered much of her beloved forest was to be felled for a new road. So she became an eco-activist, organising protests and publicity to stop the bulldozers — little knowing the oligarch most-closely involved with the scheme was Putin’s judo coach and close friend.

As her campaign of civil disobedience took off, the supportive local newspaper editor had his car bombed, his dog killed, then was beaten so badly he lost a leg and was left brain-damaged. He remains in a wheelchair.

Earlier this year, in a chilling reminder of the savage excesses of the Soviet era, officials declared Chirikova an unfit mother. She was threatened with having her young daughters taken from her and placed in a state orphanage.

In desperation, she posted a video online about her case, sparking such an outcry she saw off the danger and even won an apology. ‘People who were indifferent to ecological causes suddenly sympathised with a woman who’d been threatened with the loss of her children,’ she said recently.

Now a popular national figure, she has joined the calls urging fellow citizens to unite against ‘crooks and thieves’ — the nickname given to United Russia, Putin’s party.

‘It started with the view of the trees from my window and then I gradually began to understand that the authorities are behind all this. They are systematically stealing from us.’

Corruption, of course, is nothing new in Russia. But for many years the Russian people engaged in a Faustian pact with Putin: he delivered stellar, oil-fuelled economic growth, and while the emerging middle-classes bought the latest electronic goods and travelled abroad they ignored his kleptocracy and human rights abuses.

And anyway, most Russians had had enough of democracy after the chaos that followed the end of Communism, when living standards collapsed, criminals flourished, state assets ended up in the hands of a few oligarchs, and the former superpower looked a spent force.

Putin may once have been a senior KGB officer, who excused the agency’s role in Stalin’s purges and refused to read books by defectors since they had ‘betrayed the Motherland’, but he offered stability, prosperity and the restoration of national pride. It proved an immensely popular mix — until recently.

The first cracks in this unspoken concordat between the then-president and his people came with the economic crisis three years ago, when rich oligarchs such as Peter Mandelson’s friend Oleg Deripaska were bailed out by the state after their fortunes crashed. Ordinary people struggling through the downturn were furious.

Small incidents revealed a mood of growing dissent and defiance. Car dealers in the remote eastern port of Vladivostok, angered by heavy new tariffs that put up prices on cars they imported from nearby Japan, sparked big protests in the city.

Families began to fight back when ordinary people involved in car accidents with powerful officials ended up in jail — even when it was the officials who were clearly at fault, driving on the wrong side of the road or drunk.

A television celebrity, seeing a Kremlin figure eating in an expensive restaurant, got out her mobile phone and confronted him over whether taxpayers were picking up the bill, then posted the video online.

Now there is this brewing storm. At the end of September Putin confirmed fears he intended returning to the presidency in next year’s elections after a job swap with his puppet Dimitry Medvedev, forced on him by the constitution’s limit of two terms on the presidency.

More in : Daily Mail

Categories: Perplexity of nations

Jamaica’s patois Bible: The word of God in creole

 

The Bible is, for the first time, being translated into Jamaican patois. It’s a move welcomed by those Jamaicans who want their mother tongue enshrined as the national language – but opposed by others, who think learning and speaking English should be the priority.

In the Spanish Town Tabernacle near the capital, Kingston, the congregation is hearing the word of God in the language of the street.

At the front of the concrete-block church, a young man and woman read alternate lines from the Bible.

This is the Gospel of St Luke in Jamaican patois – or more precisely, “Jiizas – di buk we Luuk rait bout im”.

The sound of the creole, developed from English by West African slaves in Jamaica’s sugar plantations 400 years ago, has an electrifying effect on those listening.

Several women rise to testify, in patois, to what it means to hear the Bible in their mother tongue.

“It’s almost as if you are seeing it,” says a woman, referring to the moment when Jesus is tempted by the Devil.

“In the blink of an eye, you get the whole notion. It’s as though you are watching a movie… it brings excitement to the word of God.”

The Rev Courtney Stewart, General Secretary of the West Indies Bible Society, who has managed the translation project, insists the new Bible demonstrates the power of patois, and cites a line from Luke as an example.

‘Vulgar’ words

It’s the moment when the Angel Gabriel goes to Mary to tell her she is going to give birth to Jesus.

English versions read along these lines: “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.'”

“Now compare that with our translation of the Bible,” says Mr Stewart.

“De angel go to Mary and say to ‘er, me have news we going to make you well ‘appy. God really, really, bless you and him a walk with you all de time.”

Mr Stewart says the project is largely designed to bring scripture alive, but it also has another important function – to rescue patois from its second-class status in Jamaica and to enshrine it as a national language.

“The language is what defines us as Jamaicans,” insists Courtney Stewart. It is who we are – patois-speakers.”

The patois Bible represents a bold new attempt to standardise the language, with the historically oral tongue written down in a new phonetic form.

For example the passage relating the angel’s visit to Mary reads: “Di ienjel go tu Mieri an se tu ar se, ‘Mieri, mi av nyuuz we a go mek yu wel api. Gad riili riili bles yu an im a waak wid yu all di taim.”

The New Testament has been completed by a team of translators at the Bible Society in Kingston – working from the original Greek – who intend to publish it in time for the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from Britain on 6 August next year.

Most children arrive at school speaking creole, and need to learn English from scratch

But some traditionalist Christians say the patois Bible dilutes the word of God, and insist that creole is no substitute for English.

Bishop Alvin Bailey, at the Portmore Holiness Church of God near Kingston, argues that Patois is too limited a language to represent the nuances of Biblical text, and has to resort to coarse expressions to makes its meaning clear.

“I don’t think the Patois words can effectively communicate what the English words have communicated,” he says.

“Even those (Patois) words that we would want to use to fully explain what was in the original, are words that are vulgar.”

Many others see the elevation of patois as a backward step for Jamaica, in a globalised world demanding English.

The vast majority of children arrive at school speaking little apart from the creole of their ancestors, and teachers are under intense pressure from the government to replace it with English.

The head teacher at St Richard’s Primary School in Kingston, Jacqueline Williams, says she can understand the policy, because people make up so much of what Jamaica exports.

“If they do go elsewhere they would have to have English as the language of communication,” she says. “That’s why it is being sold as our first language.”

That pressure is felt by even by the smallest of the children in their smart uniforms playing outside the two blocks of brightly-coloured classrooms.

“A little child in our class who can only speak that way… is going to be embarrassed,” says Mrs Williams.

“I think that esteem problems can develop because of it.”

Two girls from St. Richard’s Primary School in Kingston Jamaica, perform the Patois poem Cuss Cuss by Jamaican poet and activist Louise Bennett

Stigma

Linguists at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, who have been working on the translation, insist that patois is an authentic language, with its own tenses and consistent grammatical rules.

Dr Nicole Scott claims that the response to declining exam results in English – which has been to reinforce the emphasis on English – is counter-productive.

“Literacy in patois would help the students to appreciate the structures that are used in English,” she says.

Dr Scott says the new system of writing used the in patois Bible is critical if language skills are to be taught in creole, and that the Bible holds sufficient sway in Jamaica to act as powerful model.

“I think it will be massively, massively, helpful. People will realise they can hear the word of God in their own language and understand it very well, this same language that has been stigmatised for so long.”

Faith Linton, a linguist of almost 80 who was one of the founders of the Patois Bible project, believes the way patois continues to be looked down upon threatens the very future of Jamaica itself.

From the balcony of her old plantation estate house on the north coast of Jamaica, managers once kept an eye on slaves working the sugar cane.

She spoke nothing but patois until she was 12.

“The damage is deeply psychological,” she insists. “The patois-speaker feels inferior, full stop.

“Because the model is the white English man, his language and educational standards… and we have not been able to attain it.

“Out of this sense of inferiority will come violence, illiteracy, disturbed behaviour and damaged emotional attitudes. All those spring from the idea that my identity is inferior.”

Source: BBC

Categories: Christianity Today

Philippine typhoon toll 1,249; rebels urge punishment

Manila –  The death toll in the Philippines from one of the country’s worst natural disaster in two decades has risen to 1,249 with about 1,100 missing, disaster officialssaid on Monday, as communist rebels said people responsible should be punished.

Typhoon Washi sent torrents of water, mud and logs cascading through riverside and coastal villages on Mindanao island in mid-December, destroying more than 10,000houses and displacing more than 300,000 people, who are mostly in emergency shelters.

Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, said fishermen from as far as the central island of Bohol were helping recover bodies that had been washed hundreds of miles away.

“As long as there are bodies out there in the sea we will continue with the search and retrieval operations, even if it goes beyond the New Year,” Ramos said in a radio interview.

Authorities had expanded the search area to a radius of 300 km, he said.  –JPOST

Archaeologists discover 2nd Temple seal in Jerusalem

December 26, 2011 1 comment

First discovery dealing with Second Temple administration, helps put human spin on history, says IAA.

Just as the holiday season buying frenzy wraps up, archeologists discovered one of the original examples of store credit: A 2,000-year-old clay seal from the Second Temple that was used to show that payment had been made for offerings to the Temple.

The 1cm.-by-1cm. ancient seal was found with the words “Pure for God” written in Aramaic. It is one of the first discoveries that deals with the administrative aspect of the Second Temple, and helps put a human spin on the day-to-day activities of the period, said archeologists involved with the City of David excavations, where the seal was found.

Volunteer students sifting through the dirt excavated from the north side of the Pool of Shiloah discovered the small seal last week.

Due to the richness of the archeological history, every bucket of dirt from the area around the Shiloah spring is sifted before being thrown out. About 30 coins have been found this way since excavations began in the spring five years ago.

“This felt like a Hanukka miracle when it happened to us,” said Eli Shukron, the chief archeologist for the City of David site.

Shukron works with Ronny Reich, a professor at the University of Haifa who has worked in Jerusalem excavations for 42 years.

Reich said on Sunday that while he doesn’t usually get excited, he was thrilled at the discovery of the seal. Everyday items such as cooking utensils, oil lamps and coins have been discovered at the pool in the past.

“These discoveries give us the feeling that every day we are touching history. And we want the public to touch this history also,” Shukron said.

Similar seals were mentioned in the Mishnah (Tractate Shekalim 5:1-5): “Whoever required libations would go to Yohanan who was in charge of the stamps and give him [the appropriate amount of] money and would receive a stamp from him in return. He would then go to Ahiyah who was in charge over the libations, give him the stamp, and receive the libations from him.”

Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat spoke of the importance of the seal at the unveiling of the artifact.

“This shows the connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount,” she said. “And [the discoveries] don’t stop – we are always finding more and more. There is no future without the past and without our heritage.” – JPOST

Other reference:

Categories: Israel, Temple Mount

Update on Pastor Youcef

December 26, 2011 1 comment

Iran’s Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, head of the judiciary, has ordered the judge presiding over Youcef Nadarkhani’s case to delay his written verdict for one year. The judge was specifically ordered to keep Nadarkhani in prison, using whatever means necessary to force him to recant his Christian faith and convert to Islam.
According to Present Truth Ministries, the order was designed to cause the international community, specifically Christians, to forget about Nadarkhani’s case.

“Once we forget about him, then they are free to execute him,” said a spokesperson from Present Truth Ministries. “Please help us ensure that [Nadarkhani] is not forgotten.”

Nadarkhani has been in prison since October 2009 after being charged with apostasy. He received a death sentence in 2010, a verdict upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court in July 2011.

In 2011, the original tribunal was asked to re-examine whether Nadarkhani had practiced Islam as an adult before becoming a Christian at age 19, according to Present Truth Ministries. Although the judge acknowledged that Nadarkhani had not practiced Islam, the death sentence was upheld. The court ruled that because he came from a Muslim family, he was guilty of apostasy, according to reports from Middle East Concern.

You can take action on Nadarkhani’s behalf by talking to your congressmen, telling your friends about the case or e-mailing the Iranian Embassy. Post his prisoner alert profile in your church or Sunday school class, or write a letter to Nadarkhani while he is in prison. Please be respectful, saying nothing negative about the Iranian government. Pray that Nadarkhani’s conviction will be overturned and that his family will continue to trust God during this time. – www.persecution.com

Categories: Christian Persecution

Comet seen in Germany

Comet Lovejoy

It lit up the night sky in Germany on Christmas Eve. And now there’s rampant speculation, even debate, about what exactly the streak of light was.

Videos of the streak of light were captured across Germany, but also in France and Belgium.

“The leading edge of the streak appears round and white, while the tail trailing it has an orange tone in some images,” CBC News in Canada reports.

Now there seems to be disagreement about what the light was. The German Aerospace Center declared the cause to be a simple meteor.

“Every year 200 tonnes of material falls to Earth. Sometimes it’s a big chunk,” spokesperson Andreas Schutz told a local paper.

But that’s in direct contradiction to what the Royal Observatory of Belgium claims. According to it, the streak was the work of a Soyuz rocket that launched on Wednesday and delivered three astronauts to the International Space Station two days later. What observers saw, it says, is the rocket’s reentry.

But a different witness may have nailed it: “We saw the light spectacle on the way home from church. Our daughter thought it was Santa Claus’ coach with a moose.”  – BLAZE

 

Categories: Signs in heaven Tags: , , ,