Wednesday, July 30, 2014

300 year old Spanish gold artifact found on sunken wreck

A high karat gold Pyx which was believed to have been hand crafted in the late 1600's - early 1700's for transporting a Eucharist (communion wafer) is seen in an undated handout photo from 1715 Fleet-Queen's Jewels. A Florida family of treasure hunters on Tuesday will display their latest finding from a 300-year-old shipwreck: the missing piece of an ornate gold holder used by clergy to hold the Eucharist for visits to the sick or infirm. REUTERS/1715 Fleet-Queen's Jewels, LLC/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
A high karat gold Pyx which was believed to have been hand crafted in the late 1600's - early 1700's for transporting a Eucharist (communion wafer) is seen in an undated photo.  A Florida family of treasure hunters, Tuesday, displayed their latest finding from a 300-year-old shipwreck: the missing piece of an ornate gold holder used by clergy to hold the Eucharist for visits to the sick or infirm.

After the discovery last month, a team of Spanish historians realized the piece fit together with another artifact recovered 25 years ago. It formed an accessory called a pyx, worn on a chain around a high priest’s neck to carry the communion host. The dollar value is uncertain.
"It's priceless, unique, one of a kind," said Brent Brisben, operations manager for Queens Jewels, which owns rights to the wreckage, located in 15-foot (4.5-meter) deep Atlantic Ocean waters.
Schmitt, who lives near Orlando, last year discovered about $300,000 worth of gold coins and chains from the same wreckage, Brisben said. Schmitt's parents have hunted for sunken treasure as a hobby for a decade.
By law, the treasure will be placed into the custody of the U.S. District Court in South Florida, Brisben said. The state of Florida may take possession of up to 20 percent of the find. The rest will be split evenly between Brisben's company and the Schmitt family.

House Republicans vote to sue President Obama

Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas (29 July)

Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas sponsored the resolution

The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution to sue President Barack Obama for allegedly exceeding his constitutional powers. The 225-201 vote along party lines means House lawyers will now draft legal documents to launch a lawsuit. Its supporters say Mr Obama exceeded his powers when he delayed an insurance deadline in his healthcare law.
The president himself has dismissed it as a waste of time. "Everyone sees this as a political stunt," he said.
"If they're not going to do anything, we'll do what we can on our own," the president added.
"And we've taken more than 40 actions aimed at helping hardworking families like yours. That's when we act - when your Congress won't."

The action is reportedly the first time either the House or Senate has brought legal action against a president over the legality of his powers. Republicans in Congress have complained that Mr Obama has exceeded his constitutional authority on numerous occasions, in order to bypass Congress by issuing executive orders.
They object, for instance, to his order unilaterally easing deportations of some young illegal immigrants, and the prison exchange that won the release of a US soldier held captive for five years by the Taliban.

Bowe Bergdahl's parents with Barack Obama 
Bowe Bergdahl's parents met the president when the US soldier was controversially released

Specifically at issue in the resolution, which was sponsored by Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas with the full backing of House Speaker John Boehner, was Mr Obama's decision to twice delay requirements in his 2010 healthcare overhaul that businesses over a certain size provide their workers with health insurance.
Mr Obama has been forthright about his intentions to circumvent the gridlocked Congress when possible, noting frequently that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has declined even to hold votes on Senate-passed bills on topics from immigration reform to gay rights.

What Are Executive Orders?
The president regularly issues orders to manage the executive branch of the federal government, weighing in on everything from White House office decorations to foreign policy. Sometimes "the president decides to put those directions on paper, and that becomes an official document," explains Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the libertarian think-tank Cato Institute.
As far back as January, White House aides began referring to the president's "pen and phone" strategy - using his telephone to convene meetings at the White House and his pen to sign executive orders and changes to federal regulations.

Every US president since George Washington has issued executive orders, and Mr Obama has not stood out in the modern era for the number he has signed. In his six years in office Mr Obama has issued 183 executive orders, compared to 291 across George W Bush's eight years and 381 for Ronald Reagan, according to a study by the American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
But Republicans insist Mr Obama has selectively enforced laws duly passed by Congress, upsetting the balance of powers written into the constitution.

"Such a shift in power should alarm members of both political parties because it threatens the very institution of the Congress," the Republicans wrote in report accompanying the House legislation.

It sounds like they are trying to blacken Mr Obama's image for the history books (no pun intended).
But sitting up here in Canada, seeing the situation as an uninvolved observer, this lawsuit seems to have definite racial overtones.

Russia faces more sanctions...Warning from G7

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a cabinet meeting at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, on July 30, 2014

         Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a cabinet meeting at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, on July 30

G7 leaders say Russia will face further economic sanctions if it continues to support rebels in Ukraine. The group of leading industrialized nations said Russia had undermined "Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence." The warning came after the EU added eight more Russians to its sanctions.  Russia described new US and EU sanctions as "destructive and short-sighted", and said they would lead to higher energy prices in Europe.

The G7 group of economic powers includes the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada. Its leaders said Russia could still "choose the path of de-escalation", but warned President Vladimir Putin that he would face greater economic costs if he continued to back Ukrainian separatists.
The leaders also called on all sides to establish a ceasefire at the crash site of the Malaysian Airlines jet that was shot down on 17 July in eastern Ukraine. Heavy fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia rebels around Donetsk has prevented international experts from reaching the plane crash site. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko accused the rebels of planting landmines near the crash site. The claim could not be independently verified. Russia has come under increased pressure to end its support for the rebels, who Western governments believe were behind the downing of MH17, killing all 298 people on board.

President Putin must change his policy in Ukraine or face the economic consequences, the G7 has warned.   Mr Putin has also been accused by the US and EU of supplying heavy weapons to the rebels - a charge his government has denied.
On Tuesday, the US announced new economic sanctions against Russia, widening their scope to include three key sectors of the economy - energy, arms and finance. The EU is also expanding its sanctions, targeting the oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies. Several members of Mr Putin's inner circle are among the eight people the EU announced it was adding to sanctions on Wednesday. They include Arkady Rotenberg, Mr Putin's former judo sparring partner and a major shareholder in the civil engineering company Giprotransmost. The company has received a public contract to conduct a study on building a bridge from Russia to Crimea, the EU said. Another added to the EU's list is Yuri Kovalchuk, chairman of the Rossiya bank and a long-standing friend of the president. A total of 95 people and 23 entities have now been hit with EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans. Further details of the new EU sanctions are due to be published on Thursday.

Russia's foreign ministry called the EU's move "thoughtless and irresponsible" and said it would "inevitably" lead to higher energy prices in Europe.
"By going on a sanctions spree, Brussels, by its own will, is creating barriers for further cooperation with Russia in such a key sphere as energy," the statement said. It also labelled new US sanctions as "destructive and short-sighted" and warned that they would aggravate relations between the two countries.

In other developments in Ukraine on Wednesday:

  • The Ukrainian army said it seized the key town of Avdiivka near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk
  • Regional officials in Donetsk said that 19 people had been killed in fighting in the past 24 hours
Ukrainian soldiers advancing through the countryside in Donetsk region - 30 July 2014
It is possible that the Russian authorities mistakenly believed that European countries would not risk introducing sectoral sanctions for fear that they might backfire on their own economies...with rising prices on oil and gas from Russia ( Europe relies on Russia for most of their fuel ).
Russia is a little different from most countries, not only because its economy is much more integrated into the world economy, but also Russia is a nuclear power and a member of the World Trade Organization, which limits the amount of pressure that can be applied.  It is also an enormous country and a major world power. The situation is escalating and Russia ( or Mr Putin ) continues to spit in the eye of the world and maintain that no one tells him or his people what they may or may not do.


Mysterious Woman in Black

Is she on a crusdade of some kind ??

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

US and EU widen sanctions on Russia

Speaking At the White House, President Obama said: "If Russia continues on its current path, the cost to Russia will continue to grow"

President Obama has announced new economic sanctions against Russia, saying they will make Russia's "weak economy even weaker". He said the co-ordinated actions of the US and European Union would "have an even bigger bite" on Russia's economy. The new restrictions include banning Americans or people in the US from banking with three Russian banks. The aim is to increase the cost to Russia of its continued support for pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies charges by the EU and US that it is supplying heavy weapons to the rebels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany in 1941 in Moscow - 22 June 2014
President Putin has urged the Russian defence sector to rely less on foreign components

Speaking at the White House, Mr Obama said the US was widening its sanctions to target the key sectors of the Russian economy - energy, arms and finance.
"If Russia continues on this current path, the costs on Russia will continue to grow," Mr Obama said. The US Treasury said the banks being targeting in this round of sanctions were VTB, the Bank of Moscow, and the Russian Agriculture Bank (Rosselkhozbank). Earlier, the EU also adopted new economic sanctions against Russia, targeting the oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies.
This latest wave of US sanctions comes as no great surprise. For the past few weeks, the US been threatening further action against Russia. It's also been calling for the EU to impose stiffer penalties.

The administration said the tragic events surrounding MH17 should serve as a "wake-up call" to reticent EU countries that something had to be done to curb the actions of Russian-controlled separatists.
President Obama hopes these new measures will apply pressure on President Putin to change his course, something previous sanctions have failed to do so far. When asked by a reporter if this was the start of a new cold war, Mr Obama said it wasn't. The US-Russia relationship is, in the words of one US official, "complicated".
As well as disagreements, there is co-operation - the two nations are working together on Iran nuclear disarmament, and reducing Syria's chemical weapon stockpile. Full details of the new EU sanctions are expected on Wednesday, when the EU is also set to name more Russian officials facing asset freezes and travel bans in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had been reluctant to step up sanctions because of Germany's trade links with Russia, said the latest measures were "unavoidable". Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's ambassador to the EU, said: "I am disappointed because the EU is slipping along the tracks that lead nowhere.
"I can understand that they are concerned with the situation; so are we, but it's not a prerequisite to impose sanctions.
He added that he believed Ukraine should be subject to sanctions for its role in the conflict in the country's east.
Jonathan Beale on the outskirts of Donetsk says there is sustained artillery fire towards one of the last strongholds of pro-Russian separatists. Calls for the EU to act have been fuelled by the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on the Malaysia Airlines jet were killed, many of them Dutch citizens.
An international team has again failed to access the crash site, amid heavy fighting between government forces and rebels there. Western governments believe the pro-Russian separatists shot the plane down on 17 July with a Russian missile, believing it to be a Ukrainian military flight. The rebels and Moscow deny that, instead blaming the Ukrainian military.

Speaking in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia and the rebels to give Western investigators full access to the crash site.  John Kerry: "President Putin can make a huge difference, if he chooses to"
"They still can't even ensure that all of the victims' remains have been removed, and that is an unsupportable burden for any family to have to bear, and it is an unacceptable standard for behaviour, period," he said.
"The site has to be cordoned off, the evidence has to be preserved, and Russia needs to use its considerable influence among the separatists in order to be able to help ensure this basic approach of common decency."

Ukrainian troops are continuing an offensive aimed at encircling the rebels in Donetsk region.
In the latest developments:

  • Several shells are said to have struck buildings in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk city
  • Ukraine says its troops have entered the towns of Shakhtarsk and Torez in Donetsk region, and Lutuhyne in Luhansk region
  • Ten Ukrainian soldiers and at least 22 civilians have reportedly been killed in the last 24 hours
  • The dead civilians are said to include three children and five people at a home for the elderly
  • A group of hackers sympathetic to the rebels says it has disabled the website of the Ukrainian president.

Gaza conflict: Hamas vows no ceasefire

Israel's bombardment of Gaza has seen entire areas of Gaza destroyed

Israeli strikes killed more than 100 Palestinians, raising the total killed to more than 1,200, Gaza officials say. Most of those deaths have been civilians, and 6,700 Palestinians have been injured, according to the Gaza health ministry. Israel has seen 53 of its soldiers die since conflict with Hamas began on 8 July. Two civilians and a Thai worker have also died.

As international pressure for a ceasefire grows, Israel and Hamas have each reiterated their positions and aims. Israel has mourned the deaths of five soldiers killed by Hamas militants that emerged from an underground tunnel.
"We don't accept any condition of ceasefire," the Associated Press quoted Hamas commander Mohammad Deif as saying. "There is no ceasefire until the end of the aggression and the end of the siege."

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza restricted the entry of goods since 2007. The recording of Mohammad Deif's statement emerged at the same time as a Hamas video of militants using a tunnel to attack an Israeli soldier. Israel insists the existence of such tunnels - which it says are designed to be used to attack Israelis inside Israel - are the key reason for pressing ahead with Operation Protective Edge.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) want to continue operations to destroy the tunnels once any ceasefire is agreed. Earlier in the day a senior figure in the West Bank, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said a ceasefire was imminent and claimed to speak for Hamas. But a spokesman for the group quickly denied that.

Infrastructure hit

There were reports of ongoing shelling in Gaza after dark, hours after a series of targets linked to Hamas were hit by presumed Israeli bombardments. Earlier, a huge plume of smoke rose over the Strip's only power plant after one of its fuel tanks was reportedly set alight by Israeli tank shells, and the facility was forced to shut down.The main power station could be out of action for up to a year, the facility's manager said, after it burst into flames
Hamas-run TV and radio stations, three mosques, four factories and government buildings were also hit, according to reports. Palestinian security sources said that Gaza's port had been destroyed, with two schools and a kindergarten also hit. Some 110 targets were hit on Tuesday, Israel said. Palestinians said seven families were among the more than 100 killed.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it was now caring for more than 200,000 people in shelters, and revealed that a number of its staff had been reported killed. Fifty-five houses were destroyed in bombing on Monday night, leaving people buried under rubble .

A rocket fired from Gaza heads towards Israel, 29, July 2014 
Rockets have continued to target Israeli towns and cities from within Gaza

Rockets fired from Gaza continued to hit Israel on Tuesday. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted four over the southern city of Beersheva, Israeli media reported. Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and several other towns.

An Israeli soldier prays on top of a tank near the Gaza border, 29 July 
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a tank near the Gaza border
Israel's Operation Protective Edge began on 8 July after a surge in militant rocket attacks.

Monday, July 28, 2014