Russia amassing troops at borders in challenge to NATO


Russia is set to establish three new military divisions — around 30,000 troops — along its borders in a direct challenge to Western allies’ troop buildup in the region.

NATO revealed last month that it would be sending around 4,000 troops to Poland and the former Soviet countries in the Baltic.

Now Moscow has hit back by announcing its own plans to expand its military presence.

“The Defense Ministry is taking a series of measures in order to counter the expansion of NATO forces in direct proximity to the Russian border,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday on state television.

“By the end of the year two new divisions will be formed in the western military district and one in the southern military district.”

NASA: Higher CO2 levels reponsible for ‘greening’ Earth


New research confirms rising CO2 levels are driving the “greening” Earth effect observed by satellites.

Greening is evidence of accelerated plant growth and heightened rates of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is a main source of fuel for plants — and thus, all life on Earth — and previous studies show a rise in CO2 results in plant growth.

But other sources of nutrients and external factors can accelerate photosynthesis and greening, including changes in nitrogen levels, land usage, temperature and weather.

An international team of researchers isolated each of these factors and ran them through a series of computer models. The results suggest rising CO2 levels best explain the increase in leaf cover, or greening, measured by NASA and NOAA satellites.

The Rolling Stones to perform free concert in Cuba


The Rolling Stones announced they’re going to Cuba later this month to perform a free concert in Havana as part of their America Latina Ole Tour.

The concert will take place March 25 at Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana stadium, which seats 15,000.

“We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba, too,” The Rolling Stones said in a statement.

The historic event is being organized by the Fundashon Bon Intenshon on behalf of the island of Curaçao. The Fundashon Bon Intenshon supports various charities in the fields of education, athletics, cultural literacy, healthcare, tourism and poverty.

“This historical concert will no doubt have Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Wattsand Ronnie Wood mesmerizing a new audience of fans with a set packed full of classic Stones hits as well as special gems from their million selling albums,” the statement reads.

The concert will also help promote the Stones’ “musician to musician initiative,” with many top-quality musical instruments to be donated to Cuban musicians.

Poll: 38% of Florida voters believe Ted Cruz could be the Zodiac Killer


A poll by Public Policy Polling found that a surprising number of Florida voters believe Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz could be the Zodiac Killer.

While a 62 percent majority of voters answered “No” when asked if they believed Cruz was responsible for the string of murders in the early 70s, 10 percent answered “Yes” and an additional 28 percent said they were unsure.

Several reports say the rumor stems from a speech Cruz delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013 titled “This is the Zodiac Speaking” and has become popular again since he began his presidential campaign.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, asked the question relating to the bizarre Internet rumor after dedicating its inclusion “weird twitter”, when asked if it would appear on their latest round of voter polls.

The polling company was also responsible for a December poll that found 30 percent of Republican voters would support bombing the fictional city of Agrabah from Disney’s Aladdin.

Japan to respond strongly to Chinese warships sailing near Senkaku Islands


The Japanese government is to respond strongly to Chinese warships that approach the disputed Senkaku Islands – islets under Japan’s administration, but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Tokyo has designated waters within a 12-nautical mile radius of the Senkakus, also known as the Diaoyutai Islands, as its sovereign maritime zone, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Tuesday, local time.

Should Chinese warships enter the off-limits zone action would be taken, and Japan would promptly demand the departure of the Chinese boats.

Florida university fires professor who said Sandy Hook shooting a hoax


Florida Atlantic University fired a professor who said the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 26 dead was a hoax and publicly argued with a victim’s parents.

James Tracy, a tenured associate professor of communications at the school in South Florida, was fired for insubordination and circumvention of FAU policies.University officials said Tracy failed for three years to submit a required “Report of Outside Employment or Professional Activity Form.” When he did submit one in mid-December, he did not list his personal blog, Memory Hole, and other associated blogs.

Hackers promise to shut down Xbox, Playstation networks on Christmas

Hackers known as the Phantom Squad announced on Twitter that they will take down the Xbox and Playstation networks for a week starting on Christmas.

The group made the announcement on Twitter, and also claimed to take down Reddit on Tuesday morning.