IRAQ MOVES AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE IN TIKRIT Tikrit lies 150km (95 miles) north of the capital Baghdad. It was seized in June 2014 by IS militants backed by anti-government Sunni allies loyal to Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party. raids, carried out by US, Saudi and UAE aircraft, targeted 12 refineries in Syria on a third night of air strikes against the militants. IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. Sales of smuggled crude oil have helped finance its offensive in both countries. The US has launched nearly 200 air strikes against the militants in Iraq since August and on Monday began targeting IS in Syria. Footage released by the US Department of Defense on Thursday showed an overnight US air strike on the Jeribe refinery. Still images also showed the aftermath of this strike, and another attack on the Gbiebe refinery. ROUHANI BLAMES RISE IN EXTREMISM TO WEST'S 'BLUNDERS' Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has blamed the rise of violent extremism in the Middle East on the West's "strategic blunders". Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Rouhani said the solution for the crisis had to come from within the region. He also accused "certain intelligence agencies" of funding groups such as Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. World leaders are meeting at the UN in New York to discuss the threat of IS. In a wide-ranging speech, Rouhani said that terrorism was now a "global threat, from New York to Mosul, from Damascus to Baghdad, from the easternmost to the westernmost parts of the world, from al Qaeda to [Islamic State]." "The interests of Western countries in our region are tied to their recognition of beliefs and the desire of the people for democratic governance in the region. Our region expects that the Western world would once and for all place itself in the company of those true seekers of democracy, and, hence, soften the bitter memories of its support for dictators," he said. HAMAS AND FATAH AGREE TO RUN GAZA Palestinian negotiators in Cairo say they have agreed a "comprehensive" deal for a national unity government to take responsibility for running Gaza. A cabinet backed by Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, was unveiled in June. But the move was eclipsed by Israel's conflict with militant groups in Gaza. The territory has been governed by Hamas, which won the last parliamentary elections in 2006, since it ousted forces loyal to the PA in 2007. The PA was left to run parts of the occupied West Bank not under Israeli control. Earlier this month, PA President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of operating a "shadow government" in Gaza. Hamas denied the claim, calling it "against the reality". The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem says bringing unity between Hamas and Fatah is a strategic aspiration for the Palestinians - but differences between the factions are bitter and profound. The new deal is described as "comprehensive", but not enough detail is being published to allow a real judgement on its prospects, our correspondent adds. AMERICAS MICHAEL BROWN FAMILY GETS APOLOGY FROM FERGUSON POLICE CHIEF The Missouri police chief whose officer fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old last month released a video Thursday apologizing to the family and the community, acknowledging that Michael Brown's body remained in the street for too long after he was killed. "I want to say this to the Brown family: No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you're feeling. I am truly sorry for the loss of your son," Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said. The video was released by a public relations agency on the same day Brown's parents were in Washington pressing for a full federal investigation. A state grand jury is considering whether criminal charges are warranted, but a decision isn't expected for several weeks. SUSPECTED COP KILLER TAUNTING POLICE? It's a dangerous game of cat and mouse; police think suspected cop killer Eric Frein might be taunting them by showing off in public. On the 13th day of the search, CBS News' correspondent Vladimir Duthiers went to Canadensis, Pennsylvania, where police uncovered more clues about their suspect. Police made some surprising revelations Wednesday on the progress of the search for Eric Frein. They also continue to ask for help, and patience, from residents in this rural Pennsylvania community. Pennsylvania State Police say Frein has purposely made himself visible to cops, before falling back into the dense forest he's been using as cover for almost two weeks. It was the first time authorities acknowledged possible sightings of Frein during the manhunt. The last sighting, said State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens, came as recently as Tuesday. "Any sightings that occurred by law enforcement, again we're at a significant distance, there wasn't an opportunity to take a few steps and apprehend him," Bivens said. Other clues discovered in the wilderness are giving police added confidence that they're closing in on their suspect. "Some of those items include Siberian cigarettes and soiled diapers that we have found in the area, among many other things," Bivens said. Officials believe Frein is using diapers to remain stationary for long periods of time. Cops say other evidence -- like notes and journals -- indicate Frein may have spent years planning the shooting at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks on September 12, where one officer was killed and another, seriously injured. The ambush attack landed Frein on the FBI's most wanted list, and police have been authorized to use deadly force. With close to 1,000 law enforcement officers scouring the woods, police offered a piece of advice to the suspect. "Before this gets any worse for him, before he gets hurt or worse, he needs to surrender," said Bivens. "We're not going away and we will be here until we apprehend him." Lieutenant colonel Bivens also had a message for residents, asking for any information -- including photos or video of suspicious activity that could lead to Frein's capture. He also thanked them for their continued patience while their community remains on lock-down. ASIA IMDONESIA SCRAPS DIRECT ELECTIONS FOR REGIONAL LEADERS The Indonesian parliament has scrapped direct elections for regional governors and mayors in a move widely seen as a blow to President-elect Joko Widodo. Widodo, himself a directly-elected governor, called the vote a "big step back" for democracy. The system was introduced in 2005 in a bid to allow new politicians to emerge, not linked to the old political elite. But its opponents argue direct elections are too costly and have in many cases led to corruption. Widodo's opponents have a majority in the national parliament. The bill was passed early on Friday after a heated debate that lasted for more than 10 hours. Pro-democracy activists demonstrated against the bill by burning tires outside parliament in Jakarta. INDIA SPACE AGENCY RELEASES FIRST IMAGES OF MARS India's space agency has released its first picture of Mars, taken by its satellite which entered orbit around the Red Planet on Wednesday. "The view is nice up here," tweeted @isro. A handful of images have been sent by the Mangalyaan probe so far. Part of its mission is to study the Martian atmosphere for signs of life. It is the first time a maiden voyage to Mars has entered orbit successfully and it is the cheapest. Nasa's latest Maven mission cost almost 10 times as much. Media in India have hailed the venture as a "historic achievement". The Hindu newspaper reported that the probe had "beamed back about 10 pictures of the Red Planet's surface which show some craters". Officials were quoted by the newspaper as saying the pictures were of "good quality". EUROPE CYPRUS CRUISE SHIP "REFUGEES REFUSE TO DISEMBARK" Almost 350 people, thought to be Syrian refugees, are refusing to disembark from a cruise ship that rescued them off the coast of Cyprus, officials say. Salamis Cruise Lines Managing Director Kikis Vasiliou said they were insisting they be taken to Italy instead. The cruise ship is in the port of Limassol and all those rescued are said to be in good health. The Cypriot defense ministry said 52 children were on the small fishing boat that had sent a distress signal. It was spotted in rough seas 55 nautical miles (100km) south of the town of Paphos. "It was quite a difficult operation," Kikis Vasiliou, director of Salamis Cruises that owns the cruise ship Salamis Filoxenia, was quoted as saying by the Cyprus Mail website. "All the passengers are safe." FRENCH HOSTAGE BEHEADING: FRANCE TO BOOST SYRIA REBELS France has announced it will tighten security around transport and public places following the killing of a French hostage by jihadists in Algeria. It will also boost its support for Syrian opposition forces fighting Islamic State (IS) militants. The move was announced by the office of President Francois Hollande after a high-level emergency meeting. Militants allied to IS killed French tourist Herve Gourdel after demanding that France halt air strikes on IS. Islamic State has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq in recent months. French warplanes have been taking part in US-led air strikes against IS in Iraq since last Friday, and on Thursday they carried out new raids. However, France has so far refrained from joining the US and several Arab states in attacking targets in Syria. Before the emergency meeting took place, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French radio that France would consider targeting IS in Syria as well as Iraq. Le Drian said it was "a question that is on the table". But he added: "The opportunity is not there today. We already have an important task in Iraq."
For many countries February which celebrates Valentine's Day on the 14th is the month of romance.
There were many martyred priests named "Valentine" in ancient Rome and which Valentine we revere is shrouded in mystery. There are lots of stories surrounding this patron saint of lovers.
One story says that in the middle ages a Roman emperor decreed that young, single men should not marry since they made better soldiers. Valentine, a priest, secretly married young lovers in defiance of the order and was executed when the violation was discovered.
Another story claims that Valentine, while awaiting execution in prison, restored the sight of his jailer's daughter. On the eve of his death, he is claimed to have written to the young lady and ended his letter with the words "from your Valentine".
Other stories suggest that Valentine, seeing Christians being persecuted by the Romans, became a martyr when he was beheaded after helping some Christians escape. A catholic website wrote this about him: "Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II, He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14..."
Read more: February, the Month of Romance
The old Roman calendar was a mess. It started in March and consisted of only 10 months (March, April, May, June, the fifth month [Quintilis], the sixth month [Sixtilis], September, October, November and December) for a total of 304 days followed by 61 days of a winter period.
King Numa Pompilius introduced January and February between March and December increasing the length of the year to about 355 days. "Februum" was named after "februa" a Latin word meaning "purification".
A few words about Numa Pompilius. Numa was a Sabine, a Greek living in the Roman community. It took time to elect him king but was finally elected king in 715 BC. He was known for his wisdom and piety. To him is attributed the construction of a temple of Janus, an indicator of war and peace. He is also credited with reforming the ancient Roman calendar to adjust the solar and lunar years but. as stated before, added January and February after March.
Eventually, January and February were moved before March, the fifth month became July and the sixth month, August, in honor of Emperor Augustus. The calendar was called the Gregorian calendar raising the length of the year to its present 365 days. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it in 1582. Because the Pope was Catholic, many non-Catholic countries did not adopt it immediately. Some non-Catholic countries adopted it after a time for the sake of convenience - international trade.
February is the shortest month of the year. In non-leap years, it has only 28 days.
Read more: Why the 2nd month of the Year is Called February; the Lenten Season
The apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes appearing to 3 shepherd children in Fatima was probably first told to Ateneans by Fr. Delaney. Other Jesuits narrated the story.
Valentine's Day, the other universally celebrated day in February is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which occurs on February 11. In the Philippines, two other festivals take place. Throughout February, Baguio City celebrates the Panagbenga Festival and, during the last two weeks of the month, Bukidnon Province celebrates the Kaamulan Festival.Read more: Fatima and Two Filipino Fiestas Held in February
ADM5054 is in many ways an organization that is wondrous strange and unique. For one, by an accident of timing, it is limited to men. Secondly, its membership can no longer grow, instead it has been diminishing and will continue to diminish until in the fullness of time it will altogether disappear. Furthermore, a member cannot refuse to join ADM5054 because that has already happened. Neither can he decide to leave the organization because that too will simply happen. At this time there is nothing he can do about either...Read More...
There is an obvious connection between Ateneo's high school class of 1950 and college class of 1954. Clearly, from HS50 came the nucleus of College 54. But is this the only connection?
A kinship exists not only between the two graduating classes but also among their members. Their unique bond transcends school ties and must have been forged even before they came to Ateneo.
They were just grade school boys when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, an event that embroiled the Philippines in World War II,...
In 1946 following the end of WWII, Ateneo, “bloodied, but unbowed”, reopened its Padre Faura gates. With its buildings lying in ruins, the school erected renovated Quonset huts behind the rubble to serve as classrooms, a chapel and living quarters for the Jesuits. When Ateneo relocated to Loyola Heights in January 1952, the Padre Faura campus gave way to commercial buildings over the years. Now, the campus HS50 knows is gone without a trace and lives only in the memories of those who were there. In time, those memories...Read More...
The boys who would later be College 54 have the distinction of being among the first batch of students to move from their humble preserves in Padre Faura to the grandeur in Loyola Heights. For many, sadness mingled with anxiety as they bade farewell to Padre Faura and said hello to their new campus. Their student lives were to be spent mostly in Bellarmine Hall. Here was where they sat down for lectures, recitations, quizzes and tests and where they had anxious as well as triumphant moments. It was more than 50 years...Read More...