Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 14 March 2014

US Issues Travel Alert For Russia, Warns Of "Potential Military Clashes (Either Accidental Or Intentional)" -

US Issues Travel Alert For Russia, Warns Of "Potential Military Clashes (Either Accidental Or Intentional)" - 

Just out from the State Department, which in the aftermath of the most recent failure by John Kerry to resolve the Ukraine situation, appears to be escalating to populism and engaging the general public. The best part in the warning is the following clarification: "all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional)." Somehow we have a feeling we may be seeing a spike in "accidental military clashes" over the next week.

From the State Department:

Russian Federation Travel Alert - Events in Ukraine

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine and the potential for increased public demonstrations and anti-American actions in Russia in connection with Russian actions in the Crimea.  The Department of State also alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the heightened military presence and on-going military exercises of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation along the border region with Ukraine.  This Travel Alert expires on June 13, 2014.  The Department of State strongly recommends that all U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive pertinent safety and security information. 

The U.S. government currently has no information concerning active military conflict inside Russia as a result of regional tensions or of any threat specific to U.S. citizens.  However, all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional), or other violence, and the potential for threats to safety and security.  Media accounts note there has been a sizable Russian military build-up in those regions and there are reports of an increased presence of Russian neo-Nazi and radical nationalist and extremist groups in those regions.

U.S. citizens considering travel to Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of current political tensions and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.  

The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens should avoid all public demonstrations, whether properly authorized by local officials or not, and avoid any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures.  Demonstrations related to the conflict may appear anywhere throughout Russia, at any time.  These demonstrations may increase the possibility of confrontation and violence.  Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.  

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

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Hawaii tries to ban eating cats and dogs -

Hawaii tries to ban eating cats and dogs - 

Hawaii tries to pass bill banning eating cats and dogs, who would have thought this was a problem in paradise?

Animal lovers in Hawaii packed a legislative hearing room Thursday with poodles and pugs, asking lawmakers to ban the practice of eating cats and dogs in the state.
The House Committee on Agriculture later advanced SB 2026, a bill to ban the practice.
The Humane Society of the United States says dog slaughter for human consumption is happening across Hawaii. The group receives at least two reports a year of dogs or cats being slaughtered for food, but it says it’s hard for law enforcement to catch animal slaughterers.
“When we do get these reports of cases of dog or cat slaughter, unless they’re caught in the act, law enforcement is not able to really prosecute,” said Inga Gibson, Hawaii senior state director for the Humane Society, which pushed for the bill.
Eating meat from cats and dogs is considered acceptable in other countries, including parts of Asia. And while many Americans eat pigs or cows, consuming meat from those animals is vilified elsewhere.
The Oahu Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said dogs and cats are considered members of many families.
One woman, Sara Knaus, cradled a Pomeranian as she read a note that her son wrote to lawmakers.
“I love my dog too much and all dogs should be loved, not eaten,” Knaus read. Dogs can help people with disabilities, she said, noting the letter was the first thing that her son, who has autism, had ever written.
Dogs also sacrificed their lives for the country while working with the military, said Jane Shiraki, a Honolulu resident.
“Dogs are people too, because they have the ability to experience emotions,” Shiraki said. “Please protect these animals.”
Rep. Romy Cachola emphasized that his family members have pets, but he questioned the need for a new law when one is already in place.
“I cannot understand why we’re doing this,” Cachola said.
Rep. Jessica Wooley, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, said the bill tightens existing law.
“There are cases every year, and they’re not able to prosecute fully because of the way the law is currently written,” Wooley said.
The committee amended the bill to include all pets, not just cats and dogs. Cachola and Rep. Clift Tsuji voted against the measure, and several other lawmakers expressed reservations.


Python stuck after eating dog chained to kennel... -

Python stuck after eating dog chained to kennel... - 

A large python has swallowed a pet dog that was chained up inside its kennel in a backyard in northern NSW.
The dog's owner received a "nasty shock" when she approached the kennel to let her Chihuahua-Maltese cross off its chain, only to find a carpet python in its place with a large bulge in its body and the dog's chain emerging from its mouth.

Volunteers from the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) were called to the home in Caniaba, near Lismore, on Thursday morning and arrived to find the 2.5-metre snake still lying in the kennel.
WIRES Northern Rivers secretary Sue Ulyatt said the volunteers cut the chain and observed the python, which is about 50 years old, for 24 hours to see if it would regurgitate the chain.
However, when it didn't, the python was taken to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where it would be examined by a veterinarian to see if it would require surgery.
Python eats dog in Lismore. Facebook Wires Northern Rivers
The dog owner was shocked to find a python in her dog's kennel. 
Mrs Ulyatt said the dog's owner was upset but calm when she rang the wildlife service's hotline on Thursday morning.
"She realised that she had made a dreadful mistake. She hadn't thought about the possibility of a snake taking the dog," she said.
"The lady went out to let dog off the chain, but instead of the dog being on the chain, it was large carpet python.
"It's only the second incident like this we've had in over 10 years. Usually it's the other way around, the snake comes off second best."
Mrs Ulyatt said the incident occurred on a rural property, and carpet pythons were very common in the area.
The python would have strangled the dog before swallowing it whole, she said, and estimated such a meal would sustain a python for about a month.
Mrs Ulyatt said the woman was trying to do the responsible thing by chaining up her dog at night so it did not stray and potentially attack and kill wildlife.
"Chaining up a dog in a wildlife area is certainly a responsible thing to do, but the dog was too small. It should have been inside," Mrs Ulyatt said.
If the snake does undergo surgery, it will remain under care for "quite some time" before being released into the wild, Mrs Ulyatt said.
Thursday morning's incident is the latest in a string of captivating encounters this month involving pythons devouring other animals.

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Saudi cleric issues Fatwa against All-you-can-eat Buffets... -

Saudi cleric issues Fatwa against All-you-can-eat Buffets... - 

A Saudi cleric named Saleh al-Fawzan has issued fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets in Saudi Arabia. He made the statement on a Saudi Quranic TV station.

Fawzan said the value and quantity of the food sold should be pre-determined before hand.

"Whoever enters the buffet and eats for 10 or 50 riyals without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia (Islamic) law," Fawzan was quoted on al-Atheer channel.

The fatwa attempts to add plate piling eateries to the long list of things outlawed by religious edicts. It has been the subject of condemnation and debate on social media channels.

While some twitter users slammed the cleric's fatwa by using the hashtag "prohibiting-open-buffet" (in Arabic) others tweeted supporting it.

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