Tragedy-prone Amtrak suffered another terrifying setback Tuesday — when a high-speed Acela train broke apart as it raced north toward Penn Station at 125 mph, sources said.
In the third wreck in just one week — and the fourth in two months — several cars of an Acela Express heading from Washington, DC, to the Big Apple decoupled at about 6:30 a.m. and were left held together only by their air hoses.
Sparks flew from dragging cables and the train jerked wildly, but none of the 52 terrified passengers aboard were injured, according to reports.
“Someone could have been walking through the train when that happened and fell to their death,” one source said.
A photo taken by an Amtrak worker shows the connector between two coupled trains broken and separated, with a six-foot gap between them.
“There was a lot of sparking and smoking at the head of the train and a lot of bouncing around,” a source said.
The train separated in Maryland about 50 miles north of Baltimore. One passenger was playing on his phone when he felt his car shake suddenly and then saw sparks outside his window.
“It felt almost like we were dragging something,” said Andrew Exum, 39, a journalist who lives in the Washington area and works in New York.
“I looked out the window and saw a shower of sparks coming out the side of the train,” Exum said. “Pretty quickly, the train came to a halt and the Amtrak folks rushed forward. I could tell by their faces that this was serious, and that we weren’t going anywhere.”
The crew first tried to fix the situation themselves, and then told passengers that they had to evacuate everyone from first class and the quiet car, which is where Exum was, the commuter shared.
“There were a lot of fumes and a little bit of smoke,” he said. “So we moved to the next car and just kind of waited. They powered down the train so we were literally in the dark for 30 minutes or so, maybe a little bit longer.”
Tuesday’s scare comes as a rash of wrecks plagues the passenger-rail service.
On Sunday, an Amtrak train traveling through South Carolina from New York City slammed into the back of a freight train, killing two workers.
Four days earlier, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress slammed into a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one person in the truck.
The worst recent incident happened in December, when an Amtrak train on an inaugural run in Washington state derailed on a turn, killing three people and injuring scores.
Some Amtrak regulars say they are now terrified to ride the trains.
“Seriously, how did riding the train get to be so hazardous?” mused Steve Rosen, 45, who had just arrived in Penn Station on an Amtrak train from Philadelphia.
“Every time I ride Amtrak now, I utter a silent prayer that this train or this car or this conductor or this track won’t be one of the defective ones that ends my life.”
DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s official news agency says the military has responded to “a new Israeli aggression” near the capital.
SANA says air defenses confronted the Israeli planes, which targeted an outpost in the Damascus countryside. It did not provide details and there was no immediate comment from Israel.
Wednesday’s report was the second such accusation in less than a month.
Syria’s military on Jan. 9 accused Israel of launching missiles targeting military outposts in the area of Qutayfeh, in the Damascus countryside. The military said that attack caused material damage.
Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes inside Syria in the course of Syria’s civil war, against what it says are suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces.
On the same day the United States Senate took up a bill that would have banned abortions for unborn infants who had reached the 20th week of development, a group of clergy gathered to pray for and bless the work of an abortion clinic in the DC area dedicated to killing those very same infants.
The Washington Post reports on the Christian and Jewish faith leaders who went out of their way to endorse, in the name of God, the clinic and it’s practice of performing late-term abortions.
Yet that was the Rev. Carlton Veazey’s task as he led a prayer in Bethesda on Monday. “God of grace and God of glory, in whom we move and live,” he said, as he opened a prayer for the well-being of the doctor and nurses who facilitate abortions at a clinic here and for their patients. “Keep them safe and keep them strong. And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”
Veazey was one of four Christian pastors and one rabbi who gathered to bless this Bethesda abortion clinic in an unusual interfaith ceremony. (A Hindu priest who was supposed to attend from a local temple, who has blessed an abortion clinic before, didn’t make it.)
Continuing its freefall to the theological left, the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Washington, D.C., voted last week to pass a resolution that puts an end to the use of masculine pronouns for God as it prepares to update its Book of Common Prayer.
Episcopalian delegates to the Diocese’s 123rd Convention swiftly passed the resolution in the nation’s capital so that “gendered language for God” will no longer be used.
“If revision of the Book of Common Prayer is authorized, to utilize expansive language for God from the rich sources of feminine, masculine and non-binary imagery for God found in Scripture and tradition and, when possible, to avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God,” the diocese’s resolution reads. “Over the centuries, our language and our understanding of God has continued to change and adapt.”
Episcopalian leadership no longer recognizes the inerrancy of Scripture, indicating that Bible manuscripts preserved for thousands of years are no longer aligned with the social gospel it preaches to its congregations.
“[Referring to God using masculine pronouns is to] limit our understanding of God,” the drafters of the resolution argued. “By expanding our language for God, we will expand our image of God and the nature of God.”
St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church Clergy Delegate Rev. Linda R. Calkins urged the delegates to press for more liberal changes.
Calkins, who serves in Laytonsville, Maryland, attempted to emasculate God using Genesis 17:1, where God tells Abraham, ‘I am El Shaddai.”
“[If Episcopalians] are going to be true to what El Shaddai means, it means God with breasts,” Calkins told delegates, according to The Institute on Religion & Democracy. “Having studied much feminist theology in my masters’ degrees, I wrote a thesis on liberation and freedom and non-equality in feminist theology and existential counseling.”
The liberal Episcopalian appears to use The Inclusive Bible as a reference – a loose interpretation of the Bible that many leftists use in order to turn Scripture upside-down and give it meaning that was never intended by God and the authors who He chose to write down His direct revelations.
“The Inclusive Bible was published in 2004 and written by a group called Priests for Equality, which … is a project of the Quixote Center in Brentwood, Maryland, and is a ‘grass-roots organization committed to creating a culture where sexism and exclusion are left behind and equality and full participation are the order of the day.’” The Christian Post (CP) reported. “In Genesis 17, the passage of Scripture where God makes the Covenant of Circumcision with Abram, the Hebrew ‘El Shaddai’ is traditionally translated as ‘God Almighty;’ the Inclusive Bible renders it ‘the breasted one.’”
Calkins is looking to give Episcopalians the last push they need to join the feminist movement and use LGBT lingo when addressing God.
“And I am still waiting for the Episcopal Church to come to the place where all people feel that they can speak God’s name,” the leftist church leader continued. “Many, many women that I have spoken with over my past almost 20 years in ordained ministry have felt that they could not be a part of any church because of the male image of God that is systemic and that is sustained throughout our liturgies. Many of us are waiting and need to hear God in our language, in our words and in our pronouns.”
No room for interpretation
Flying in the face of Calkins’ teaching, seminaries have taught that terms used referring to God the Father and God the Son are indisputably and intentionally masculine.
“Christians – following the teachings of Jesus Christ – have prayed to God as ‘Our Father’ from the very beginning,” LifeSiteNews’ Mark Hodges pointed out. “Theologians explain that the masculine word ‘Father’ indicates a relationship.”
Dr. Paul Tarazi of St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary contends that there is no room for creative interpretation when it comes to the gender reference of God.
“Jesus did not call God ‘Imma’ (Mother), but always and exclusively ‘Abba’ (Father),” Tarazi impressed, according to the Orthodox Research Institute. “’Father’ is the only way Jesus ever referred to God, and the only way He taught His followers to do so.”
For centuries, theologians, have made it clear that deviating from the biblical titles reserved for God is inaccurate, misleading … and ultimately heretical.
“St. Gregory the Theologian explained the name ‘Father’ is proper to God, not a figurative concession to humanity,” Hodges informed. “St. Athanasius the Great stated that only the specific names ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ belong ‘to God’s own essence and being.’ St. Gregory of Nyssa taught that deviation from the names ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ causes deviations from the one true faith. Any other names, St. Gregory wrote, ‘serve as a starting point for the deflection of sound doctrine.’”
The Bible, according to the LGBT
In addition to the Episcopal Church’s lean toward a feminist agenda, it is also embracing LGBT propaganda, as outlined in another resolution that was passed – without discussion or debate – by delegates to the Episcopalian convention, who declared that “transgender people” will be woven into all aspects of “congregational life” in the church.
“[The diocese will] encourage all parishes to remove all obstacles to full participation in congregational life by making all gender-specific facilities and activities fully accessible – regardless of gender identity and expression,” the resolution states. “Fixed boundaries of gender identity are being challenged, and churches need to respond. This resolution is a clear response to the systematic oppression and violence that transgender people experience on a daily basis.”
A few weeks ago, we highlighted an interview given by CIA Director Mike Pompeo to “CBS This Morning” where he claimed that North Korea was “only a handful of months” from realizing the long-term goal of its nuclear weapons program: Developing a missile that could deliver a nuclear payload to the Continent US with a high degree of accuracy.
At the time, we cautioned that these remarks should be taken with a grain of salt, because Pompeo had repeated this same claim in the past.
But today, the issue was raised again, when US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told a UN-sponsored disarmament forum that, by all reasonable intelligence accounts, the rogue state is mere months away from building an ICBM capable of striking anywhere within the Continental US.
To the objections of North Korean representatives, Wood demanded that the committee support the total and complete de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“North Korea has accelerated its provocative pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities, and expressed explicit threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies in the region,” U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told the Geneva forum.
“North Korean officials insist that they will not give up nuclear weapons, and North Korea may now be only months away from the capability to strike the United States with nuclear-armed ballistic missiles,” he said.
A new U.S. nuclear policy review outlined last week “reaffirms that North Korea’s illicit nuclear program must be completely, verifiably, and irreversibly eliminated, resulting in a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” he said.
Predictably, the North Korean representatives at the meeting responded angrily, blaming Washington for escalating the conflict by holding military drills involving nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers in preparation for a preemptive strike.
“In view of the nature and scale of U.S. military reinforcements, they are designed to make a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK,” North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol told the talks, referring to his country’s official name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“In view of the nature and scale of US military reinforcements, they are designed to make a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK,” North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol told the talks, referring to his country’s official name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
When Woods was asked what the source was for his assessment, he said he had “no new information to share”.
Woods also accused the North of launching a deceptive “charm offensive” with their recent detente involving South Korea – including the two countries’ decision to draft an inter-Korean women’s ice hockey team.
Woods also pointed out that Russia, China and the North are all expanding their stockpiles, increasing the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies.
“What I would call ‘the charm offensive’ frankly is fooling no one,” Wood told the talks.
He also said arsenals in China and Russia were expanding, drawing rebukes from their respective delegations.
“Russia, China and North Korea are growing their stockpiles, increasing the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and – in some cases – pursuing the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other peaceful nations,” Wood said.
“We are not going to stick our head in the sand, we are going to respond to these growing challenges,” he later told reporters.
The US and the South have agreed to suspend their joint military exercises around the peninsula until after the Winter Games. Still, local security forces aren’t ruling out the possibility of a North-Korean sponsored cyber attack.
Last Thursday, Sam Brownback was sworn in as the State Department’s new ambassador for religious liberty.
Today — in his first official speech as ambassador — Brownback openly embraced a hardline Islamic cleric who authorized a fatwa in 2004 justifying the killing of Americans in Iraq, and another fatwa in 2012 calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah’s past is no mystery to the State Department. For example, the Obama administration’s State Department had to repeatedly apologize in May 2014 for promoting Bin Bayyah as a moderate. However, the Obama administration then implemented a full-court press with the U.S. media and the D.C. foreign policy “Smart Set” to rehabilitate the image of the Mauritanian cleric.
The presence of multiple senior Trump State Department officials at an “interfaith” event in Washington, D.C. in support of Bin Bayyah’s efforts appears to confirm there will be no change. The Trump administration is continuing the engagement with Bin Bayyah they inherited from Obama — despite the fact that Bin Bayyah’s views on Israel are directly contrary to those of President Trump.
There is also an inherent contradiction in the Trump State Department embracing the interfaith efforts of an Islamic cleric who openly states on his website that Christians are going to hell. Bin Bayyah has also said that interfaith outreach to Jews in Arab lands should only be done with extreme caution — and only with Jews who oppose Israel.
The State Department is promoting Brownback’s speech at Bin Bayyah’s event earlier today:
An Obama administration holdover, State Department Special Advisor for Religious Minorities Knox Thames, gushed his praise of Bin Bayyah during the cleric’s opening keynote last night:
The Obama administration’s attempts to rehabilitate Bin Bayyah were not without controversy. Most embarrassing for the Obama White House was Bin Bayyah’s approval of a 2004 fatwa authorizing the killing of Americans in Iraq and endorsing the Iraqi “resistance.” This information was raised in June 2013 after it was reported Bin Bayyah had been escorted into the White House to meet with senior members of Obama’s National Security Council.
The 2004 fatwa was issued by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) while Bin Bayyah was serving as vice president. It called for “resisting occupation forces,” stating this was a “duty” for all able-bodied Muslims inside and outside Iraq. The official Iraqi resistance site posted the IUMS fatwa.
Operations in a northeastern desert region are also targeting the mysterious ‘White Flag’ insurgent group
Iraqi forces launched fresh operations against ISIL fighters and other insurgents in a northeastern desert region on Wednesday, just two months after Baghdad declared victory over the extremist group.
Soldiers and pro-government militias retook several villages and stormed an ISIL camp, according to the military.
“With the goal of enforcing security and stability, destroying sleeper cells, and continuing clearing operations, an operation was launched in the early hours of Wednesday morning to search and clear areas east of Tuz Khurmato (50 kilometres from Kirkuk city),” the Iraqi armed forces said.
The offensive also aims to secure bridges, roads and junctions between Baghdad and Kirkuk, the statement added.
Baghdad wants to consolidate its control of a mountainous area near the Iranian border through which it plans to transport crude from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery by truck.
Recent raids in rebel-held areas have killed dozens
United Nations war crimes investigators are probing the suspected use of chemical weapons in the latest attacks by Syrian government forces on rebel-held areas the regime is pushing to reclaim.
The disclosure came after airstrikes from the Syrian Air Force killed at least 78 people on Monday and Tuesday in Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, and more than a dozen further north in Idlib.
The death toll led the UN to call for an immediate one-month ceasefire throughout Syria to allow delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure casualties be taken for treatment.
Idlib is the last province to largely remain outside government control, with deaths rising and thousands being displaced. President Bashar Al Assad’s forces have been on the offensive in Idlib in recent weeks but the effort intensified after militants shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet near the town of Saraqeb over the weekend.
The lead investigator of a UN mandated Commission of Inquiry on Syria said his team was looking into reports that bombs allegedly containing weaponised chlorine were recently used on two occasions in rebel-held zones.
“These reports are extremely troubling, and make a mockery of the so-called ‘de-escalation zones’ intended to protect civilians from such bombardment,” Paulo Pinheiro said.
The zones – meant to stabilise lines of conflict and open corridors for urgently needed humanitarian relief – were formed last autumn, in an agreement with the Syrian opposition that Russia, Iran and Turkey promised to guarantee.
Mr Pinherio described the Syrian government’s siege and indiscriminate bombardment of Eastern Ghouta as “international crimes.”
The French foreign ministry said it was concerned by the reports of chlorine being used on civilians, but that it was too soon to confirm them.
The UN also warned of “dire consequences” regarding the humanitarian crisis in Syria, identifying seven areas requiring urgent humanitarian relief.
Mr Pinherio stressed that the ongoing fighting and deliberate obstruction by forces at front lines was blocking aid organisations from reaching civilians.
The UN says it has a plan to reach 700,000 people in the next two months, if it can get access.
The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.”
The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike.
On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea, to more rapidly gather information about a potential airstrike. While carefully noting that “detection is not targeted at any particular country,” the newspaper noted that the planned 11 nuclear monitoring stations “are responsible for detecting nuclear activities in neighboring countries, including North Korea.”
The People’s Daily claims the monitor plan “shows China’s commitment to global nonproliferation.” Taken in tandem with reports of military movements near North Korea, however, this development indicates concern that a major military or political event in North Korea will impact China significantly.
Another state newspaper, the Global Times, remarked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last week that “risks of US military action are growing.” Trump singled North Korea out as the world’s most egregious human rights abuser, celebrating the plight of North Korean refugees who risked their lives to escape.
In December, Chosun Ilbo reported that China is not only using its military assets to prepare for a potential catastrophe in North Korea; the newspaper cited Japanese media that had revealed evidence of China’s building massive refugee camps near the North Korean border, some that could welcome up to half-a-million refugees. Officials reportedly ordered the construction of such camps in Jilin, the same city where state media published a citizens’ guide to surviving a nuclear war triggered by North Korea.
The state-run Jilin Daily published an article in December suggesting citizens “close their windows and doors during an emergency and immediately take a shower and wash out their mouths and ears after being exposed to radiation.” It mentioned potential regional tensions without blaming North Korea directly.
While state media remained subtle about government fears regarding North Korea, communist academics made clear in December that they believed Kim Jong-un’s regime could not be trusted to keep China out of a major regional war.
“North Korea is a time bomb,” remarked Professor Shi Yinhong. “We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator.”
China, North Korea’s largest trade partner, almost single-handedly keeps Kim’s economy afloat. Through a tense year for Kim and President Trump, who has not shied away from challenging the autocrat, China stuck by North Korea, increasing trade to the fellow communist country. Beijing has abided by some United Nations sanctions, however, and forced businesses on North Korea’s border to limit their contact with the regime.
According to Radio Free Asia, businesses along the border “are now being severely hurt as wider customs controls are established along the border, sources working in the area say.” Many of these businesses traffic in goods that are not obvious candidates for sanctions, such as cosmetics and paper. RFA suggests that those impacted on the ground have soured on North Korea’s government, as its belligerence has triggered the sanctions.
Dictator Kim Jong-un has rejected all attempts by the global community to convince the country to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program and has continued testing ballistic missiles and suggesting that their ultimate destination will be the United States.
On the other side of the border, RFA reported that Pyongyang is “stirring up anti-China sentiment among ordinary citizens through conferences and lecture sessions as the closed, authoritarian country’s economy bears the brunt of tough new economic sanctions supported by its longtime ally.” North Korea rarely confronts China on international platforms, but even this line was crossed in 2017, when the Korean Central News Agency accused China, without naming the country, of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” by agreeing to abide by U.N. sanctions.