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Thai navy SEAL who took part in cave rescue dies after year-long infection

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 10:15

A Thai navy SEAL who took part in the dramatic rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand last year has died from a blood infection he contracted during the operation, the Royal Thai Navy said on Friday. Petty Officer Beiret Bureerak had been receiving treatment, but his condition worsened, the navy said in a statement. Another rescuer, former navy diver Sergeant Saman Kuman, died during the rescue operation.

Russia announces a new hypersonic weapon of intercontinental range

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 10:14

Russia's defense minister reported to President Vladimir Putin that a new hypersonic weapon of intercontinental range became operational Friday following years of tests. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin that the first missile unit equipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle had entered combat duty, the Defense Ministry said.

The 20 Best Apps of the 2010s

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 09:37

Hundreds in Istanbul sign petitions against Erdogan's canal project

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 09:16

Hundreds of people in Istanbul have signed petitions in the past two days opposing a massive canal project championed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, which they say will wreak environmental havoc in the city. The proposed 45-km (28-mile) Kanal Istanbul on the western fringes of Turkey's largest city would connect the Black Sea to the north and the Marmara Sea to the south. Erdogan says it will ease traffic and prevent accidents on the natural Bosphorus strait, one of the world's busiest waterways, which cuts through the city.

Islamic State says it beheaded Christian captives in Nigeria

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 09:01

MAIDUGURI/CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State released a video purporting to show its militants beheading 10 Christian men in Nigeria, saying it was part of a campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its spokesman. The militant group posted the footage on its online Telegram news channel on Thursday, the day after Christmas, with Arabic captions but no audio. An earlier video seen by Reuters said the captives had been taken from Maiduguri and Damaturu in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, where militants have been fighting for years to set up a separate Islamist state.

Young Girl Dies After 'Medical Emergency' on Delta Flight

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 09:00

The child reportedly went into cardiac arrest shortly after the flight took off

Pete Buttigieg's Christmas tweet inadvertently sparked a war over whether Jesus was a poor refugee

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 08:42

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted a Christmas message: "Today I join millions around the world in celebrating the arrival of divinity on earth, who came into this world not in riches but in poverty, not as a citizen but as a refugee. No matter where or how we celebrate, merry Christmas." In 2019, those are apparently fighting words.Some conservative Christians protested that Joseph, the terrestrial father of Jesus of Nazareth, wasn't poor — though it's hard to see how a carpenter from an otherwise insignificant village in Galilee would be well-off — or faulted Buttigieg for not saying "Jesus" in his tweet. "But it was perhaps Buttigieg’s classification of Jesus as a refugee — a common line among the Christian left — that received almost immediate pushback from evangelicals," says The Washington Post's Eugene Scott.The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh tied the criticisms together in one tweet, and he got some pushback from Jack Jenkins, a religion reporter with a master's degree in divinity from Harvard.> Hi! Religion reporter here. > > Christians who argue Jesus was a refugee are typically referring to what happened AFTER Jesus was born, when Mary, Joseph, and the newborn child fled to Egypt. > > This exegesis is easily Google-able. Or you could just, you know, read it in the Bible.> > — Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) December 26, 2019Walsh, who is Catholic, argued back that Jesus wasn't a refugee because Galilee and Egypt were both part of the Roman Empire. Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who's nobody's idea of a theological conservative, explained in 2017 why Jesus and his family were clearly refugees, at least according to the Gospel of Matthew. And fellow Jesuit priest Jeremy Zipple noted that Pope Benedict XVI — nobody's idea of a liberal — disagrees with Walsh, as did Pope Pius XII.> What an absurd position to take. Here’s Pope Benedict XVI quoting Pope Pius XII on this question.> > — Jeremy Zipple (@jzipple) December 26, 2019Jesus' citizenship status "has real implications for how Christians on both sides of the aisle conduct policy" and view President Trump's hardline, restrictive immigration and refugee policies, Scott reports. And Buttigieg dropped his Christmas tweet into a tender moment for evangelicals being internally challenged to square their faith with their fealty to an unrepentantly flawed president. Read The Week's Bonnie Kristian on how evangelicals might fix this moral dissonance.More stories from A more honest evangelical defense of Trump 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's holiday season Democratic leadership should be afraid of McKayla Wilkes

Tornado leaves damage at Ventura Harbor, scatters strawberries in its wake

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 06:51

Wild holiday weather touched down in Ventura County on Christmas night, including a tornado at Ventura Harbor and snow atop local mountains.

Montenegro's parliament approves religion law despite protests

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 06:43

Montenegro's parliament approved on Friday a law on religious communities despite street protests and a last-minute attempt in the chamber by deputies of the pro-Serb opposition to prevent the vote going ahead. Under the law, religious communities in the tiny Adriatic state would need to prove property ownership from before 1918, when predominantly Orthodox Christian Montenegro joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the predecessor of the now-defunct Yugoslavia. The pro-Serb Democratic Front (DF) and other critics of the legislation say it is an attempt to promote the small Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which is not recognized by other major churches, at the expense of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the dominant church in the country of 620,000 people.

The 20 most dangerous volcanoes in the US, ranked

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 06:37

A US Geological Survey list of volcano threats has been updated for the first time since 2005. California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii are at risk.

Why Are Academics Ignoring Iran’s Colonialism?

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 06:30

Academics today are obsessed with colonization, empire, and cultural hegemony, along with postcolonialism, ethnic studies, and intersectionality. Scholarship in many fields has come to be dominated by hegemony-fighting, indigenous-supporting anti-imperialists who attack anyone who disagrees with them. When a journal called Third World Quarterly published an article in 2017 about the benefits of colonialism, the uproar from the social-justice professors led to the article’s being withdrawn and 15 members of the editorial board resigning amid threats.So if the profession is so adamant about the evils of colonialism, why is it ignoring Iran?When strong countries exert their (unfair) advantages over weaker ones, imposing their values and cultures and manipulating indigenous economies, academics are among the loudest and most creative critics. Even the most benign influence of a powerful country over a weaker one is excoriated -- hence the long obsession with something called “cocacolonization.” Legions of scholar-activists are busy enlisting history to shed light on the present, drawing parallels between a benighted European era of colonization and an ongoing American or Israeli one, looking under rocks for signs of Western, American, and Trumpian oppression and proclaiming a new American empire. Fair enough -- but why ignore the Iranian attempts to do exactly to others what they accuse others of having done to Iran?Journalists and analysts, such as Jonathan Spyer and Seth Frantzman, have been documenting Iran’s colonial expansion for many years. But most academics have been reluctant to turn their skills on Iran. Many prefer softer targets, such as Israel and the U.S. Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Decolonization Committee pushed eight anti-Israel measures through the General Assembly, showing where its priorities lie.Even without its violations of other countries’ sovereignty, Iran itself is an empire, with ethnic Persians dominating the Arabs, Kurds, Balochis, Azeris, Turkmen, Lur, Gilakis, and Mazandaranis. Only a few, notably Daniel Pipes, Ilan Berman, and Shoshana Bryen, are interested in this fact.Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution was an imperialist project from the beginning, as one of his first moves after taking power (even before the collapse of the post-shah provisional government in November 1979) was to establish the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to spread his ideas. Shortly thereafter he made moves in Lebanon, dispatching “1,500 IRGC advisers [to] set up a base in the Bekaa Valley as part of [his] goal to export the Islamic Revolution to the Arab world,” as Matthew Levitt put it. Those advisers were instrumental in creating Hezbollah, which has served to spread Iran’s influence throughout the world.In 1998, the al-Quds Force, the IRGC’s unconventional-warfare unit, got a new leader when Qassem Soleimani was appointed commander. Soleimani has ramped up Iran’s colonial enterprise, capitalizing on the U.S. toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to take over Iraq in a way Iran could never have accomplished on its own. The so-called Arab Spring offered Soleimani the opportunity to stake out territory in Syria using Hezbollah and in Yemen using the Shia Houthi rebels, completing the goal of a “Shia Crescent” stretching from the Gulf to the Mediterranean.Books on British and American empire building in Iran and the greater Middle East (real and imagined) come out every year. The topic has earned tenure for many willing to genuflect at the altar of Edward Said by exposing alleged evils of European and American “Orientalism.” Yet almost no academics are writing about one of the world’s most obvious and bloodiest colonizing projects even as it plays out right under their noses.There are exceptions, of course. Efraim Karsh’s Islamic Imperialism (2006) reminded everyone that the Middle East is “where the institution of empire not only originated . . . but where its spirit has also outlived its European counterpart.”Another exception is Tallha Abdulrazak, a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, but his interests in Iranian colonialism seem to end at Iraq, and the anti-American and anti-Israel tendencies in his writing at Al Jazeera and the Middle East Eye suggest a lack of interest in the totality of Iranian empire-building. These tendencies were doubtless instrumental in his being awarded the Al Jazeera Young Researcher Award in 2015.Think-tank scholars have not shied away from Iran’s interference in other countries. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute notes that “aside from Russia, Iran is the world’s most imperialistic country today . . . little different in its quest for political and economic domination of poorer states as its tormentors were in the nineteenth century.”Israeli scholars too seem more interested in today’s Iran than in yesterday’s. Hillel Frisch, professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, calls Iran “the only country whose focus is on political, military, and terrorist intervention and involvement in areas beyond its contiguous borders against states that have not struck the homeland.”But where are the clarion calls from the ivory towers? Are all the anti-Orientalists busy stigmatizing the West, privileging victimhood over achievement and finding new ways to use “other” as a verb (perhaps at UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute)? Where are the conferences, symposia, and special-issue journals on Iranian imperialism? The Council on Foreign Relations hosted an event dedicated to Iran’s imperial foreign policy in February, but if any similar event occurred at an American university in 2019, it wasn’t advertised and remains well hidden.The 21st century began with a frenetic deluge of articles and books decrying a new American “imperialism” in the Middle East that had begun after 9/11. But books decrying the rise of Iranian imperialism have not even come in a trickle.So what exactly are the Middle East specialists up to?On the fringes of the profession, where the activists lurk, a counteroffensive is under way. Iran apologist Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University wrote and published a “Letter Against US Imperialism” on December 7 objecting to "the current U.S. imperial project,” aided by the IMF, that “seek[s] a return to neocolonial governance in the form of a U.S.-backed regime.” Dabashi somehow persuaded 38 academics (12 from colleges in California) to join with an odd assortment of artists, activists, lawyers, and podcasters to sign the desperate and bizarre letter that completely misunderstands the protests in Iran in November.Even the socialists at New Politics find fault with Dabashi’s letter for its “dismissal of the Iranian regime’s oppressive and violent influence in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq” and its shallow “conceptualization of imperialism [which] does not include and condemn the sub-imperialisms of Iran.”Mainstream Middle East specialists prefer to pretend that there is no Iranian imperialism, “sub” or otherwise. When hundreds, perhaps thousands, of them assembled in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) last month, the topic seems to have escaped them. Over the course of four days they convened 20 academic sessions, each comprising between 18 and 24 topics, for a total of 304 events: panels, round tables, thematic conversations, conference papers, and special current-issue sessions. In each of these events at least a half dozen experts presented, chaired, or refereed. And not a single event was devoted to Iran’s colonial influence in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, or Yemen. There was nothing about the ascendant Iranian empire. The Qajar Empire, on the other hand, was covered in multiple sessions. Also popular were events about someplace called either “Palestine/Israel” or “Israel/Palestine,” depending apparently on the whims of the moderator.The Iranian colonial project is among the most significant events in modern history, and its contours coincide with the interests and deeply held beliefs of the professoriate. But most academics are remarkably uncurious about Iran’s colonialism. Talk about wasting the moment.

Photos show scenes of devastation after a plane carrying 98 people crashed in Kazakhstan, killing at least 12

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 06:14

The Bek Air flight from Almaty to Nusultan plunged into a building in the village of Almerek just after take-off on Friday, amid foggy conditions.

North Korea Is Broke, But Sitting On $10 Trillion In Mineral Wealth

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 05:51

Yes, $10 trillion.

A prominent British lawyer went viral after he killed a fox with a baseball bat while wearing his wife's kimono, and now animal services are investigating

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 05:21

Jolyon Maugham tweeted just after 8 a.m. Thursday that he had "killed a fox with a baseball bat," before asking followers how their day was going.

Quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 04:42

An earthquake struck Iran on Friday less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the country's only nuclear power plant, monitors said. The US Geological Survey said the 5.1 magnitude quake struck 44 kilometres (27 miles) from the southwestern city of Borazjan and at a depth of 38 kilometres. Its reported epicentre is 45 kilometres east of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, on the southwest Gulf coast.

S Korea court rejects attempt to repeal Japan sex slave deal

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 03:34

South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Friday rejected a petition seeking the repeal of a 2015 deal with Japan settling a bitter dispute over Korean women enslaved for sex by the Japanese military during World War II. Friday’s ruling was in response to a petition by former sex slaves and their families who say the deal, which was made without their consent, undermined their dignity and infringed on their rights to participate in negotiations and seek fuller Japanese government compensation. The issue of sex slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women," has been a major source of friction between the two countries, both staunch U.S. allies.

Russia Has Reclassified The Tu-22 As A Heavy Bomber (And They Are Heavily Armed)

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 02:30

What does this mean for the New START treaty?

Death toll reaches 28 as Philippines recovers from Christmas typhoon

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 22:09

The death toll from a Christmas typhoon that tore through the central Philippines rose to 28 on Friday, with 12 people missing, the disaster agency said, as authorities moved to restore power and residents tried to repair damaged homes. Typhoon Phanfone hit late on Tuesday with winds of up to 120 kph (75 mph) and gusts of 150 kph, dumping sheets of uninterrupted rain on a string of islands, damaging hundreds of homes and causing flooding in eight areas. It was the seventh typhoon to strike the Philippines this year and came as millions of people in the predominantly Catholic country were heading home to celebrate Christmas with families.

Witnesses, police coping with Christmas deaths of woman and 2 kids

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 21:17

They were found unconscious on the sidewalk in front of a multi-level Boston garage and died at a hospital. Their deaths are under investigation.