Sunday, 24 September 2017

North Korea developments

The website seems to be down right now, whether due to high demand or cyber attack

Hawaii Begins Distributing Nuclear Attack Preparedness Guides to public after North Korean FM tells UN missile attack against US inevitable

NSW reaches 40 deg. C in first days of Spring

Hume Highway cut by bushfire, temperature records tumble as east coast swelters

Smoke on road and traffic congestion from grassfire north of Marulan

24 September, 2017

The main highway between Sydney and Canberra was cut by a bushfire and parts of New South Wales reached 40 degrees Celsius in September for the first time on record.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said the blaze at Paddy's River, near Wingello, crossed the highway but the threat to property had eased. It was downgraded to Advice level at 6:00m.

After several hours of closure about 160 kilometres west of Sydney and east of Canberra, the Hume Highway has reopened.

Meanwhile, temperature records are being broken as the east coast swelters through a heatwave.

In Sydney's west, it was 36.4C at Richmond, and records were set in other parts of the state.

Traffic backed up on Hume Highway at Paddys River due to grassfirePHOTO: The grassfire at Paddys River near Wingello is causing lengthy traffic delays (Twitter: Adam Mobbs)

Northern Victoria and south-western NSW experienced above-average temperatures, with hot north-westerly winds turning gusty west-south-westerly on Saturday afternoon and bringing possible dust storms and damaging winds.
The hottest September day on record in New South Wales was set in 2004 at 39.6C, however Andrew Hague from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said several towns had reached 40C and beyond.
"Wilcania airport has reached 40.5C, Whitecliffe has reached 40.3C, Delta has reached 40.2C and Bourke 40 degrees," he said.

Hot and dry conditions also affected Queensland, where Birdsville reached a top of 41.6C, while in Victoria, Mildura is expected to record its hottest September day on record, reaching 37.7C.

In Queensland, Thargomindah had its hottest September day on record, hitting 40.4 degrees while everywhere west of Roma experienced temperatures 12 to 14 degrees above average.

The heat is expected to push further east on Sunday ahead of a trough, with more temperature records likely to all.

The mercury at Tibooburra, in north-western NSW, reached about 39C and Mavis Jackson from the Granites Hotel told ABC News it was miserable and dusty.
"Very, very dusty even inside on the floor blowing in at the moment, it's all dust so it's not a real pleasant type of atmosphere here just at present," she said.

Bondi Beach in Sydney's eastern suburbs.PHOTO: Bondi Beach, in Sydney's east, was a popular place to escape the heat. 

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, check out Thursday's max temp for Brisbane currently suggested by the average of the main models!

*IF* that max temp is reached, it would break the all-time record for hottest Sep max temp in Brisbane & would also be 8C hotter than our average midsummer max temp.

However trying to predict max temps for Brisbane on hot days can often be VERY hard because they depend heavily on if/when a seabreeze can come in.

State heat records for Sep have also already been broken in NSW and VIC.

For more info about the heat, possible inland raised dust & fire dangers, refer to:

THEY predicted this spring would go down in history in Australia, and they were dead right.

RECORDS are tumbling around the country as the forecast spring scorcher lived up to its billing.

People living in NSW are already feeling the heat with a first ever 40C September day registered in the state.

Climatologist Andrew Watkins said Victoria had also experienced a new state record, with a top of 37.7C in Mildura.

New Victorian state record for September - 37.7C (99.9F) at Mildura and a few hours to go...

Sydney topped out at 32.2 degrees, but it was Bourke that set the new mark for the state when the mercury hit 40C at 1.40pm.

Firefighters were bracing for the hot conditions over the weekend and danger ratings could reach extreme levels as a result of abnormally hot conditions, dry vegetation and a lack of rainfall.

A total fire ban has been declared for much of NSW.

The weekend also marks the beginning of the beach season and the return of lifesaver patrols with Surf Life Saving NSW reminding beachgoers to swim at patrolled beaches and between flags.

Queenslanders were also experiencing summer-like conditions.

Sydney is expected to be stinking hot today with some inland regions expected to reach 40C. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP
Sydney is expected to be stinking hot today with some inland regions expected to reach 40C. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAPSource:AAP

But look further west, to Perth, and it couldn’t be a more different story with gale force winds, thunderstorms, heavy showers and below average temperatures.

Despite being worlds apart, the heat in the east and the chill in the west are all part of the same weather system.

Sky News forecaster Tom Saunders said heat spikes were common before an oncoming cold trough, the trough that is about to wreak havoc in Western Australia.

Record high temps for Sept forecast for Saturday, 41C Wanaaring, 40C Bourke and 36C Dubbo Watch temps at

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted this September could go down in history.
It’s going to be a hot weekend and records will be broken,” a spokesman told AAP on Friday.

The sun rises over Captain Cook Bridge as Sydneysiders head toward a hot weekend. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.
The sun rises over Captain Cook Bridge as Sydneysiders head toward a hot weekend. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.Source:AAP

Shaping up to be a hot day across with temperatures forecast to break September records in several locations

Spain In Crisis: Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover, Vow To "Resist"

While Germany prepares to go to the polls shit is going down in Spain. I’m not even going to talk about Britain!

'Tyrannosaurus Rex of politics': Merkel seeking fourth term as German chancellor (VIDEO)

Spain In Crisis: Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover, Vow To "Resist"

23 September, 2017

Spain found itself on the verge of a full-blown sovereign crisis on Saturday, after the "rebel region" of Catalonia rejected giving more control to the central government in defiance of authorities in Madrid who are trying to suppress an independence referendum on Oct. 1.

As tensions rise ahead of the planned Catalan referendum on October 1, and as Madrid's crackdown on separatist passions took a turn for the bizarre overnight when as we reported Spain’s plan to send boatloads of military police to Catalonia to halt the referendum backfired with dockers in two ports staging a boycott and refused access, on Saturday Spain's Public Prosecutor's Office told Catalan Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero that his officers must now obey orders from a senior state-appointed police coordinator, Spanish news agency EFE reported on Saturday.

The Catalan Police, however, disagreed and as Bloomberg reports, the SAP union - the largest trade group for the 17,000-member Catalan Police, known as Mossos d'Esquadra - said it would resist hours after prosecutors Saturday ordered that it accept central-government coordination. The rejection echoed comments by Catalan separatist authorities.

We don’t accept this interference of the state, jumping over all existing coordination mechanisms,” the region’s Interior Department chief Joaquim Forn said in brief televised comments. The Mossos won’t renounce exercising their functions in loyalty to the Catalan people.”

The Mossos are one of the symbols of Catalonia’s autonomy and for many Catalans the prosecutor’s decision may be reminiscent of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when the Mossos were abolished.
In a joint press conference today with the Catalan home affairs minister Joaquim Forn and the Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Forn said that the move by Spain was "unacceptable".

We denounce the Spanish government’s will of seizing the Mossos, as they did with Catalonia's finances" Forn said adding that that "the Catalan government does not accept this interference, it bypasses all the institutions that the current legal framework already has in place to guarantee the security of Catalonia." Additionally, Trapero expressed his intention to not accept the measure, which he described as "interference by the state", and also warned that "it skips over all the bodies of the legal framework to coordinate the security of Catalonia".

Catalan minister Joaquim Forn (L) with Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero

Earlier on Saturday, El Pais reported that Civil Guard Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos, chief of staff of the Interior Ministry’s security department, was named by a prosecutor to coordinate the efforts of the Civil Guard, the National Police and the local Mossos.  Spanish media reported unnamed Home Office sources as saying the measure did not mean withdrawing any powers from the Mossos formally, but rather requiring them to submit to a joint coordination operation to stop the Catalan referendum taking place on October 1.
However, shortly after the reshuffling, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero rejected giving up control to the central government during a meeting with the heads of the other police forces on Saturday, adding that all possible legal challenges would be studied. According to La Vanguardia Trapero "protested at that meeting about the decision to impose central government control" on the regional police force.

Also on Saturday morning, as the police meeting in Barcelona took place, the regional interior minister, Forn, published a defiant message on Twitter: "We will encounter many difficulties. The state wants to take control of our self-government, but they will not stop us! #HelloRepublic".
Ironically, as Bloomberg writes, while Mossos chief Trapero reports to the regional government, his force’s funding is mostly provided by Madrid and it’s supposed to take orders from judges and prosecutors from across the country. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution lets the central government take control of a regional administration if it poses a threat to the national interest. Rajoy has already made moves in that direction.
Earlier this week, the budget ministry took over management of Catalan’s finances and will issue paychecks to more than 200,000 public workers in the region, including the police.
That said, any more direct challenge to the Mossos would be fraught with risk because Trapero, its leader, has become something of a local hero since leading the response to the terrorist attacks in August. Separatists are selling T-shirts with his face printed on them.

According to Reuters, the Catalan government also believes that the Mossos takeover bypasses the Catalan statute  - article 164 - and constitutional law and the Spanish prosecutor that ruled in favour of Madrid taking control had overstepped his legal boundaries, saying that it had no power to rule on who had the authority to issue orders to Mossos.

The prosecutor had ordered that the Catalan police, the Spanish National Police and Spain's Guardia Civil be managed from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Madrid. The decision, according to the prosecution, aims at "reinforcing the operation to prevent crime and to keep public order" a week before the October 1 independence referendum.
The decision was announced during a meeting between the prosecutor and the chiefs of the three police forces.

The disobedience will fuel further speculation the Mossos will not work with the national Civil Guard in Spain’s largest regional economy. The standoff came a day after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government acknowledged it’s sending more reinforcements to help control street demonstrations and carry out a separate court order to halt the vote.
Additionally, the latest move by Madrid will also increase the tension between the two sides which increasingly looks like it could descend into a direct confrontation as neither side appears to be willing to back down.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont speaking a pro-independence rally

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s president, called the independence vote in an attempt to push the secession movement forward after decades of political and legal fights over the region’s traditions and language. Since Rajoy took office in 2011, he’s had persistent clashes with separatists seeking to foment a backlash against Madrid. Catalonia is home to about 7.5 million people, or 16 percent of the population, but accounts for a fifth of the economy, on a par with Portugal and Finland.
Several pro-independence groups have called for widespread protests on Sunday in central Barcelona. “Let’s respond to the state with an unstoppable wave of democracy,” a Whatsapp message which was used to organize the demonstration read.
The Catalonian government opened a new website on Saturday with details of how and where to vote on Oct. 1, challenging several court rulings that had blocked previous sites and declared the referendum unconstitutional.
You can’t stem the tide,” Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont said on Twitter in giving the link to the new website.

But Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted again that the vote should not go ahead. “It will not happen because this would mean liquidating the law,” he said at the PP event in Palma de Mallorca. Acting on court orders, the Spanish state police has already raided the regional government offices, arrested temporarily several senior Catalan officials accused of organizing the referendum and seized ballot papers, ballot boxes, voting lists and electoral material and literature. The finance ministry in Madrid has also taken control of regional finances to make sure public money is not being spent to pay for the logistics the vote or to campaign.
How this escalating clash between Madrid and Catalonia is resolved over the coming week will define the fate of Spain for years to come.

Catalan leader vows to go ahead with independence vote

Spain has taken control of Catalonia’s police force in a new move to prevent a planned independence referendum from being held.

The Spanish Interior Ministry has taken over the coordination of security forces in Catalonia. Madrid has however denied allegations that this entails withdrawing powers from the force. The move was heavily denounced by Catalonia’s regional government. Tensions simmer between Madrid and Catalonia as the region prepares to hold the referendum on October first. The Catalan leader has pledged to go ahead with the vote despite Madrid’s ban and the arrest of Catalan officials. 

Pressure on Barcelona to stop Catalan independence vote

The German election..

Hoax message sent to US soldiers in South Korea to evacuate

Pentagon To Probe "Evacuation Hoax" Messages Sent To US Soldiers In South Korea

23 September, 2017

The Pentagon announced Friday that it would be launching an investigation into a series of fake messages sent to US soldiers stationed in South Korea and their family members on Thursday. In what probably sent a temporary chill down the spines of recipients, the messages warned that all "non-essential" (i.e. non-combat) personnel must evacuate the Korean Peninusla - suggesting that the long-dormant Korean War was about to explode once again into violence, Reuters reports.

The hoax, which was spread via fake SMS messages and Facebook posts, was carried out during a particularly tense period in the ongoing standoff between the US and North Korea over the latter's insistence on developing a nuclear weapon capable of striking the US. Also on Thursday, the North's foreign minister warned that the regime was considering a test of a nuclear weapon over the Pacific – something that would represent an unprecedented escalation and possibly force the US to respond with a military strike. A military spokesman said there was no way of knowing how many soldiers or family members received the messages, but said the chain of command quickly acted to shut down the hoax.

We have no accurate way to know how many people received it,” the spokesman said. “Incidents were ‘self-reported’ and many people claimed the message disappeared as soon as they unlocked their phone.”

The spokesman added that the “good news here” is that the hoaxer's attempt to create an outbreak of chaos was foiled.

The good news here is: informed, savvy family members plus an engaged chain of command means no panic or over-reaction,” he added. “We had no reports of anyone acting on message other than notifying the appropriate authorities.”

Stars and Stripes reports that the hoax was reported by soldiers less than an hour after the alerts were sent. The hoax was spread via fake text messages and Facebook posts, the military said.

The USFK posted a statement on its official Facebook page on Thursday making clear that the US military did not issue any evacuation-related alerts. It has also instructed all US Department of Defense personnel and their family to confirm any evacuation-related communications before acting.

The notice alerted soldiers and their family members that the USFK did NOT issue the alert: On Thursday, 21 SEP, we received multiple reports of a fake text-to-cell and social media message regarding a  “real world noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) order issued” which instructed DOD family members and non-emergency essential DOD civilians on the Korean peninsula that an evacuation order had been issued.”

Warnings were also posted on the 8th Army’s official Facebook page.

As Stars and Stripes explains, the messages referred to what is known as a noncombatant evacuation operation, or NEO, which would affect family members of the 28,500 U.S. servicemembers stationed in South Korea and non-emergency essential Defense Department civilian employees. According to Reuters, the USFK holds biannual NEOs to prepare soldiers and their families for just such an eventuality.