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12,000 flee as Philippines warns of volcano eruption

12,000 flee as Philippines warns of volcano eruptionThe crater of a rumbling Philippine volcano was glowing bright red Monday, with vulcanologists warning it could erupt within days, sending thousands fleeing from their homes. Volcanic earthquakes and rockfalls have shaken the summit of Mayon over the last 24 hours, after a number of steam-driven eruptions, scientists said. More than 12,000 people have been ordered to leave a seven-kilometre (four-mile) evacuation zone, and there are warnings of destructive mudflows and toxic clouds. "It is dangerous for families to stay in that radius and inhale ash," Claudio Yucot, head of the region's office of civil defence, told AFP. "Because of continuous rains in past weeks, debris deposited in the slopes of Mayon could lead to lahar flows. If rain does not stop it could be hazardous." Clouds of ash engulf the volcano in Legazpi Credit: Reuters The volcano, a near-perfect cone, sits around 330 kilometres southwest of Manila. Steam-driven eruptions and rockfalls began over the weekend, and the crater began glowing on Sunday evening, in what the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said was a sign of the growth of a new lava dome. The Mayon volcano's crater glows, as it is pictured from Daraga, Albay, the Philippines Credit: Reuters Experts fear a major eruption could trigger pyroclastic flows – superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, incinerating or vaporizing everything in their path. More extensive explosions of ash could drift toward nearby towns and cities, including Legazpi city, the provincial capital, about 9 miles (15 kilometers) away. An archive photo of the Mayon volcano when not at risk of eruption  Credit: AFP Lava last flowed out of Mayon in 2014 when 63,000 people fled. "We think the lava now is more fluid than in 2014. This means the flow can reach further down (the slopes) at a faster rate," Phivolcs head Renato Solidum told AFP. "We see similarity with eruptions where the first phase of the activity started with lava flow and culminated in an explosive or hazardous part. That's what we are trying to monitor and help people avoid." At a glance | Deadliest volcanic eruptions The 2,460-metre (8,070-foot) Mayon, has a long history of deadly eruptions. Despite having erupted about 50 times in the last 500 years, the volcano is popular with climbers and tourists. Four foreign tourists and their local tour guide were killed when Mayon last erupted, in May 2013. The Mayon volcano during an eruption back in 2006 Credit:  CHERYL RAVELO/Reuters In 1814 more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa. An explosion in August 2006 did not directly kill anyone, but four months later a typhoon unleashed an avalanche of volcanic mud from Mayon's slopes that claimed 1,000 lives.  



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Philippines raises volcano alert, warns of hazardous eruptions

Philippines raises volcano alert, warns of hazardous eruptionsThe Philippines raised the alert at its restive Mayon volcano by one notch early on Sunday, citing signs of rising magma that could lead to hazardous eruptions. Residents were evacuated from two villages near the volcano, a tourist attraction in central Albay province because of its near-perfect cone shape, following a “phreatic or steam-driven eruption” on Saturday. The explosion unleashed ash, rocks and sulfuric odor, and was followed by rumbling sounds and a faint glow in the crater, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in its latest bulletin.



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Hawaii sent scrambling after official alert wrongly warns ballistic missile is incoming

Hawaii sent scrambling after official alert wrongly warns ballistic missile is incomingHawaii was plunged into panic on Saturday when an official alert warned people a ballistic missile was about to hit – only for it to turn out to be a false alarm.  Residents in the American state, which has a population of almost 1.5 million,  reportedly ran for cover when they spotted the message on their smartphones.  "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the emergency alert read.  Children were seen sheltering in locker rooms while others were witnessed looking “terrified” and crying, according to a congressman for the state.  However it was later discovered that a button had been pressed in “human error” during a change in shifts, wrongly issuing the warning.  An information related to a false emergency alert is displayed in Oahu, Hawaii Credit: REUTERS The blunder caused further fury after it took 38 minutes to alert people via the same system that the original message was incorrect.  “There is no missile threat or danger to the State or Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm,” the second message read.  Between the two messages other national bodies and politicians had confirmed it was a blunder and posted messages online announcing the the fact.  The incident was so serious that Donald Trump, the US president, was briefed about what had happened. HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018 Hawaii officials apologised for the mistake and an investigation is now underway to work out exactly what went on.  The blunder comes at a time of heightened tension between America and North Korea, with the latter testing ballistic missiles over increasingly long distances.  Brian Schatz, the senator for Hawaii, said of the officials: "They blew it hear. It was totally unacceptable … they don't quite understand how bad this was.” He told CNN: “The fact that the state government knew it was a false alarm but took between 30 and 40 minutes to alert the public is just an abomination."  AGAIN FALSE ALARM. What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018  



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Iran FM warns neighbors against fomenting unrest

Iran FM warns neighbors against fomenting unrestTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister on Monday warned neighboring countries against fomenting unrest after anti-government protests roiled the country over the past two weeks.



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Safety probe warns California's dam crisis a 'wake-up call'

Safety probe warns California's dam crisis a 'wake-up call'SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — "Long-term and systemic failures" by California dam managers and regulators to recognize inherent construction and design flaws at the tallest U.S. dam caused last year's near-disaster there, an independent panel of dam safety experts said Friday, calling it a wake-up call for dam operators around the country.



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U.S. warns North Korea against new missile test, plays down talks

U.S. warns North Korea against new missile test, plays down talksBy Rodrigo Campos and Christine Kim UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned North Korea on Tuesday against staging another missile test and said Washington would not take any talks between North and South Korea seriously if they did not do something to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. Haley told reporters the United States was hearing reports that North Korea might be preparing to fire another missile.



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U.S. warns North Korea against new missile test, plays down talks

U.S. warns North Korea against new missile test, plays down talksBy Rodrigo Campos and Christine Kim UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned North Korea on Tuesday against staging another missile test and said Washington would not take any talks between North and South Korea seriously if they did not do something to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. Haley told reporters the United States was hearing reports that North Korea might be preparing to fire another missile.



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Mindfulness can lead to selfishness, warns psychiatry expert  

Mindfulness can lead to selfishness, warns psychiatry expert  Mindfulness has grown in popularity as people search for meaning in life.  But doing it alone could actually make you more selfish, an expert at the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned.  Dr Alison Gray, chair of the spirituality special interest group at the College, which advises psychiatrists on how to deal with spiritual issues, said more "inward-focused" types of spirituality "can become self-involved".  "In as much as religion is about binding people together, spirituality can become inward looking and selfish," she said.  "In no way does that happen to everyone – in many cases increases their passion for the whole world. But there's a potential for it to become inward-looking and basically self-centred." She warned that meditation can lead to problems as people uncover the more negative aspects of their personality, which they might previously have buried.  "When you look inside yourself what you find can be quite negative and quite destabilising, and so you need a community around you to help process this stuff and keep you healthy", she told the Daily Telegraph.  Meditation and mindfulness can mean people notice "selfish drives and ambitions, bits of themselves that they previously projected onto other people, anger hatred, all the negative emotions." To counter this, the practises should be done in groups.  "I would encourage people to be in with a community," she said.  Practises such as meditation and mindfulness have been growing in popularity in the UK and other western countries as people who do not have religious beliefs turn to "spirituality" instead.  Mindfulness is increasingly offered by schools and workplaces to help employees and students improve their mental health.  Dr Gray said she believed people were "rediscovering the old ways".  Mindfulness: a cheat's guide  "We're still the same human beings that have been around for thousands of years. The neanderthals had basic religion and ways of burying the dead, it's always been there.  "I would suggest that it's a  rediscovery of the old ways rather than anything completely new – the newness is the recombination of different traditions." Several studies have linked religion with better health and wellbeing.  Data from the Office for National Statistics published last year found that people with no religion have below-average happiness and life satisfaction levels.  On average respondents scored their life satisfaction as 7.53 out of 10 and their happiness the previous day as 7.38, while those who describe themselves as having no religion scored their happiness slightly below average, at 7.22 out of 10. But the data on spirituality is less clear, with the vague meaning of the word making it hard for scientists to define. 



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'Fight against Isil not over yet' warns British general who says some jihadists managing to escape strikes

'Fight against Isil not over yet' warns British general who says some jihadists managing to escape strikesThe fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not over, a British general has warned, saying its remaining fighters in Syria have been able to move to areas they are unable to target. Major General Felix Gedney, the deputy commander of strategy and support for the international coalition against Isil, said the Syrian government is not doing enough to stop the militants from moving through its territory. “They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory, showing that the regime is clearly either unwilling or unable to defeat Daesh within their borders,” Maj Gen Gedney told Pentagon reporters, using the Arabic acronym for the group. He said it was the responsibility of the Syrian regime to fight Isil. “We can only defeat [it] in the areas that our partner forces control,” he said. A Syrian pro-government member watches as smoke rises from buildings following an air strike by government forces in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor Credit: AFP The US-led coalition does not bomb areas controlled by the Bashar al-Assad government, fearing a confrontation with its backer Russia in the crowded skies over Syria. The coalition has estimated there are somewhere between 1,000-2,000 Isil jihadists – some of whom thought to be foreign – left fighting around the desert between the Iraqi and Syrian border. US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have driven Isil from the eastern side of the Euphrates RIver but claim they are encountering fleeing fighters on a routine basis. They said they have observed the jihadists travelling westward, across the Euphrates into territory controlled by Syrian troops. Over the past month, there were two reported incidents of groups of terrorists also crossing from regime-controlled area into coalition-controlled areas of southern Syria. Despite their diminishing numbers, Isil fighters have still managed in recent weeks to launch attacks around their former stronghold of Deir Ezzor. Members of Isil preparing the beheadings of at least 15 men described as Syrian troops Credit: al-Furqan “The Syrian regime has failed to demonstrate its ability to prevent the resurgence of (Isil) on their own soil,” Maj Gen Gedney complained. He said declarations of victory, by Syria and Russia, have been premature. While Iraqi Security Forces and SDF have secured major successes, the coalition said on Thursday that more work remains to ensure the enduring defeat of Isil. The group is still attempting to re-establish regional networks and remains a local, regional and global threat. Maj Gen Gedney also warned that as Isil lost control of the territory it held in Syria and Iraq, it will try to “vanish” into the population before transforming itself into a more traditional insurgency. Isil “will attempt to mount some form of insurgency, we believe. It is an adaptive and patient enemy,” he said. “We know they may attempt to work in smaller cells, and they most certainly will continue attempting their acts of terror.” Extrajudicial execution of suspected Isil fighters in Mosul  Jim Mattis, US Defense Secretary, has said the US military will fight Isil in Syria “as long as they want to fight." He said the their longer-term objective would be to prevent the return of an "ISIS 2.0." Maj Gen Gedney emphasised that, at present, the “decisive part” of the campaign is “the non-military lines of effort,” particularly, “the immediate stabilisation that will show the people of Iraq and Syria that they’re better off under their legitimate governments than they are under IS.”



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Russia Warns U.S.: Don’t ‘Meddle’ In Upcoming Presidential Election

Russia Warns U.S.: Don’t ‘Meddle’ In Upcoming Presidential ElectionRussian President Vladimir Putin’s government has issued a warning to the U.S.: Don’t “meddle” in the country’s upcoming election.



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