Feb. 3, 2017- Trump warns Israel: Stop announcing new settlementsBy
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Headline: Trump warns Israel: Stop announcing new settlements
The White House warned Israel on Thursday to cease settlement announcements that are “unilateral” and “undermining” of President Donald Trump’s effort to forge Middle East peace, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. For the first time, the administration confirmed that Trump is committed to a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict negotiated between the parties. The official told the Post that the White House was not consulted on Israel’s unprecedented announcement of 5,500 new settlement housing units over the course of his first two weeks in office. “As President Trump has made clear, he is very interested in reaching a deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is currently exploring the best means of making progress toward that goal,” the official said. “With that in mind, we urge all parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions that could undermine our ability to make progress, including settlement announcements,” the official added. “The administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.” Trump plans to bring up the peace process in his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House scheduled for February 15.
Feb. 2, 2017
Headline: Rare Red Heifer Eligible for Third Temple Offering Found, And You Won’t Believe Where
A rabbi in a remote region of Mexico he went to a dairy farm to purchase milk, and was shocked when he saw a vital element of the Third Temple right in front of his eyes: a red heifer calmly chewing its cud under the Baja sun. “I’ve grown up with the stories, so I know how rare and valuable the red heifer is,” Rabbi Benny “Bentsion” Hershcovich told Breaking Israel News. “I’ve never seen a red heifer and I never expected to see one. My heart literally jumped when I saw it.” The red heifer, one of the most perplexing Torah commandments, is a necessary element for purifying Jews in order to enable them to do the service in the Temple. Rabbi Hershcovich asked the farmer about the calf. The perplexed Mexican farmer explained that it had been born several months earlier, and that while the color was odd, he considered it to be “just another cow”. The farmer had never heard of the Biblical commandment and did not understand why the rabbi was so excited. Though familiar with the concept of the red heifer – or para adumah in Hebrew – Rabbi Hershcovich felt unqualified to determine whether this particular cow fulfilled the Torah requirements. The laws pertaining to the red heifer are complex and a tiny blemish or a hair of the wrong color can render the cow unfit. This is the statute of the law which Hashem hath commanded, saying: Speak unto B’nei Yisrael, that they bring thee a red heifer, faultless, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke. Numbers 19:2 “Regardless of its status, just seeing something that was an integral part of the Temple and Jewish history, was really magnificent,” the rabbi said. “I was mesmerized by this simple cow.” A very few candidates for the red heifer have been found. Most have been disqualified due to blemishes or pregnancies. In an effort to reinstate the mitzvah (Torah commandment) of purifying with the red heifer’s ashes, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem last year imported embryos of red angus, a distinctly red breed of cow, and implanted them in Israeli cows at a farm in the Negev. Though several male heifers were born, no reports of pure red heifers have been forthcoming.
Feb. 1, 2017
Headline: US sends Navy destroyer to patrol off Yemen amid Iran tensions -officials
The United States has placed a Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen to protect waterways from Houthi militia aligned with Iran, two U.S. officials said on Friday, amid heightened tension between Washington and Tehran. The USS Cole arrived in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait off southwestern Yemen where it will carry out patrols including escorting vessels, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
***See also Iran below
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Al-Qaeda rapidly advance in southern Yemen capturing three towns
Al-Qaeda has captured three towns in southern Yemen days after US airstrikes killed 16 civilians, according to officials. Al-Qaeda captured the towns of Loder, Shaqra and Ahwar in Abyan province. Local sources said the captures were helped by a pullout by forces loyal to the Saudi-backed former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, angry over the late payment of their wages, PressTV reported. Another source said al-Qaeda militants later withdrew from Loder and Shaqra after protest demonstrations by residents who threatened to take arms against the terrorist group, the report continued.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Iran’s New Way of War in Syria
Iran is transforming its military to be able to conduct quasi-conventional warfare hundreds of miles from its borders. This capability, which very few states in the world have, will fundamentally alter the strategic calculus and balance of power within the Middle East. It is not a transitory phenomenon. Iranian military leaders have rotated troops from across the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Artesh, and Basij into Syria in order to expose a significant portion of its force to this kind of operation and warfare. Iran intends to continue along the path of developing a conventional force-projection capability. Iranian military planners deployed thousands of soldiers from across its military branches over a 15-month operation to set conditions for the envelopment and eventual recapture of Aleppo City by pro-Assad forces in December 2016. They reoriented forces that had traditionally focused on defensive operations into an expeditionary force capable of conducting sustained operations abroad for the first time since the end of the Iran-Iraq War. These developments signal a larger strategic shift on the part of Iran’s military leadership toward a more aggressive posture in the region. Iran is finding that asymmetric capabilities designed to deter the U.S. or Israel are insufficient to conduct the more conventional military operations required in Syria and elsewhere. The Iranian military is overcoming significant institutional obstacles to meet these new requirements.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Russia says Damascus embassy came under shell attack
The Russian embassy in Damascus came under shell fire on Thursday and Friday, the foreign ministry in Moscow said, blaming an attack by “terrorists.” One shell fell about 20 metres (yards) from the embassy’s main entrance and the other hit the ground inside the compound, between offices and a residential building, it said in a statement. The shells “did not cause casualties but inflicted material damage,” it said. The ministry said the attack came from a district held by “terrorists” who sought to wreck the truce in Syria and derail Russian-backed efforts for a “political process” leading to lasting peace. “This crime will not go unpunished,” it warned. The embassy came under similar attack several times in late December, but also without suffering casualties.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: US Air Force strikes Al-Qaeda rebels in Idlib
On Friday, the U.S. Air Force carried out a powerful strike against a group of jihadist rebels from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the Idlib countryside, killing at least a dozen militants near the town of Sirmeen. No details were given regarding the aircraft or the specific target in Sirmeen; however, all that is known is it was a site with a significant presence of Al-Qaeda linked militants. The U.S. has carried out several attacks against the rebel forces in the Idlib Governorate this year, striking a number of targets along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Syria Situation Report January 26- Feb. 2, 2017
Headline: PMU liberates new areas from ISIS just to the west of Mosul
The Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have liberated the villages of Bostan Radif and Um Gharba, as well as the Sherka region, in Iraq’s western Mosul, from ISIS on Friday. The primarily Shi’ite PMU announced on Friday that they would begin operations to cut routes to the ISIS stronghold of Hawija near Kirkuk. The operation involves cutting roads southwest of the Nineveh desert.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Cooperation With Russia, Damascus is ‘Turkey’s Only Chance to Avoid War’
In a recent article for the Turkish newspaper Aydınlık, Ismail Hakki Pekin, former chief of the Turkish General Staff Intelligence Department, warned that Turkey is moving step by step to war. In an interview with Sputnik Turkiey, Pekin commented on his assumption, saying that Ankara has found itself in a difficult situation, particularly due to foreign pressure. “The United States and Egypt are trying to force Turkey to make certain concessions, including establishing a Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria and talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Turkey,” Pekin said. According to him, if such a Kurdish entity is established Ankara would be “encircled from the south” and will have to fight a “war on two fronts,” against Daesh in Syria and against PKK inside the country. Pekin underscored that in order to achieve its goal, Washington is providing military and logistical support to the PKK, including supplying heavy weapons, anti-tanks missiles and armored combat vehicles. “For Ankara, the only chance to derail this plan is to establish dialogue with Damascus and boost cooperation with Russia, Iran and Iraq,” he said. Pekin underscored that Turkey should take as soon as possible certain measures to repel the threat.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Treasury slaps sanctions on Iran after ballistic missile launch
Headline: Iran to impose legal restrictions on some US entities, individuals
Headline: Trump: New Iran sanctions, USS Cole to Red Sea
President Donald Trump’s administration enacted new sanctions on Iran Friday, the first concrete action after the White House put Tehran “on notice” this week. The Treasury Department said it was applying sanctions on 25 individuals and companies connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program and those providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force. That included three separate networks linked to supporting the missile program, which the US opposes. The moves come as punishment for the country’s test launch of a ballistic missile last weekend. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the move was “provocative” and in defiance of a United Nations Security Council resolution that bars Iran from taking steps on a ballistic missile program capable of launching nuclear weapons. “They’re not behaving,” Trump said of Iran in the Oval Office on Friday as he signed unrelated executive orders.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Attacks in Afghanistan kill 9 policemen, cleric and his wife
An Afghan policeman turned his rifle on his colleagues in a northern province, killing eight, while a gunman in the country’s east fatally shot a cleric and his wife, officials said on Friday. The policemen were killed while they were sleeping in an outpost in the district of Almar in northern Faryab province, according to the provincial police spokesman, Abdul Karim Yuresh. The attack happened on Thursday night and according to the spokesman, a policeman who was on duty opened fire and killed his colleagues, then collected all their firearms and fled the scene — presumably to join the Taliban. The Taliban made no official statement or claim about the attack but Afghanistan has seen several such incidents over the past years. There has been a growing number of cases in which Afghan troops or policemen — or Taliban militants dressed in Afghan uniforms — have turning their guns on their colleagues or U.S.-led coalition partners. Also on Thursday night, in the country’s eastern Paktika province, a gunman killed a cleric and his wife, said Mohammad Alias Wahdat, the provincial governor. Wahdat said the gunman entered the cleric’s home in the Yusof Khail district and shot the cleric and his wife. Two of their children who were in the house survived. Police said it was not clear who was behind the attack and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the killings.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: U.S. conference on Libya postponed over Trump travel ban: organizers
A high-profile conference on Libya planned for mid-February in Washington has been postponed, the organizers said on Friday, citing U.S. President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Libya, from entering the United States. The Feb. 16 conference titled “Libya-U.S. Relations 2017: New Vision, Hope and Opportunities,” and co-hosted by the National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations, had listed Libyan speakers, including two former prime ministers and the head of the National Oil Corporation (NOC). As a result of the executive order, “banning Libyan citizens from entrance to the USA, it will not be feasible for the full complement of speakers, sponsors and guests to be in Washington, D.C., as originally planned,” a statement from the conference organizers said. A new date for the conference would be announced soon. The executive order by Trump comes at a time of uncertainty over U.S. policy in Libya, which remains mired in the chaos that followed the NATO-backed 2011 uprising against long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Will the Next Arab Revolt Be in Algeria?
A remarkable series of barely noticed counterterrorism operations, labor strikes, and social protests in Algeria in January showed that the North African country may be facing a year of upheaval. Six years after leaders in the fellow North African states of Tunisia and Egypt were ousted, simmering instability in Algeria could lead to the ouster of its longtime president as well. The consequences for the U.S. of a failed Algerian state must not be minimized. The U.S. State Department considers Algeria to be an important counterterrorism partner. First, the military junta imposed a state of emergency on Algeria’s border with Tunisia upon the return of 800 Tunisian jihadists who had been fighting for jihadi groups abroad, including the Islamic State. Second, cities in northwest Algeria and the coastal province of Bejaia experienced several days of labor unrest and riots. It began at the start of 2017, when the regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is nearly 80 years old and has been largely incapacitated by a stroke, implemented a robust austerity plan, cutting spending by 14 percent and increasing taxes on consumer products. In response to the protests, Algeria’s security forces arrested about 100 people, half of whom were under 25. The political and labor disorder has led the regime to call on religious leaders to quell the dissent. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has issued directives to imams to promote in their Friday sermons the maintenance of national stability as a religious duty. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal warned that the regime will block any attempt aimed at “destabilizing” the country and asserted that the protests “are not related to the Arab Spring.”
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: States Are Cracking Down on the Biggest Protests Since ’60s
Headline: Google cozies to Trump but calls for his impeachment
Republicans in statehouses across the U.S. are devising legal tools to regulate public dissent as demonstrators take to the streets to protest President Donald Trump in waves not seen since the Vietnam War. At least 10 bills to limit protests have been introduced in recent months. North Dakota is considering protection for motorists who unintentionally kill protesters blocking roads. Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen would punish those who “disrupt our economy.” Next week, North Carolina Senator Dan Bishop will call for imprisoning people who intimidate ex-officials, after former Governor Pat McCrory was pursued down a Washington, D.C., alley by a group chanting “Shame!” “That extends over the borderline of decency,” Bishop said in an interview. Though such demonstrators are “constitutionally entitled” to express their views, he said, they aren’t free to threaten violence. Many of the bills, which critics say impinge on constitutional freedoms, were filed before Trump’s election in response to Black Lives Matter and oil-pipeline protests. They’ve gained fresh relevance amid global women’s marches and nationwide airport demonstrations over Trump’s immigration ban. On Wednesday night, black-clad protesters set fires and smashed glass at the University of California at Berkeley, forcing the cancellation of a speech by a conservative writer.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Worst Fighting In East Ukraine Since 2015, 33 Dead This Week
Headline: Trump’s UN ambassador criticizes Russia over Ukraine
International monitors on Friday strongly urged the warring sides in eastern Ukraine to silence their guns as heavy artillery and rocket barrages continued to pummel residential areas. At least 33 people including civilians have been killed and several dozen injured in fighting this week in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatist rebels — the worst violence in the region since 2015. The death toll in the fighting that began in April 2014 has now exceeded 9,800, according to U.N. figures and a tally of recent fighting. “Unacceptable! … Sides have to stop fighting!” the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation In Europe said on its Facebook page. While the warring sides have regularly exchanged gunfire despite a February 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany, this week has seen a sharp spike in hostilities. Fighting has raged around the government-controlled industrial town of Avdiivka, just north of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk, catching residential areas in the crossfire. “We have seen on both sides an incredible amount of cease-fire violations,” said Alexander Hug, deputy head of the OSCE’s monitoring mission. Each side blamed the other for the upsurge of violence, but the Ukrainian military says its troops have gained some ground. Associated Press reporters saw heavy weapons on both sides of the front line, in clear violation of the 2015 peace deal that envisaged their pullback.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Mattis warns North Korea of ‘overwhelming’ response to nuclear use
The US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said any use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would be met with an “effective and overwhelming” response. Mr Mattis spoke in South Korea, where he had been reaffirming US support, before flying to Tokyo. He also reconfirmed plans to deploy a US missile defence system in South Korea later this year. North Korea’s repeated missile and nuclear tests and aggressive statements continue to alarm and anger the region. The US has a considerable military presence in South Korea and Japan, as part of a post-war defence deal. There are just under 28,500 US troops in the country, for which Seoul pays about $900m (£710m) annually. Mr Mattis used his visit to reassure South Korea that the Trump administration “remains steadfast” in its “iron-clad” defence commitments to the region, said the Pentagon. Speaking after talks at the defense ministry with his South Korean counterpart Han Min-koo, Mr Mattis told reporters that “any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming”. North Korea conducted its fifth test of a nuclear device last year, and claims it is capable of carrying out a nuclear attack on the US, though experts are still unconvinced its technology has progressed that far.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Russia warns South Korea of consequences if THAAD deployed
Russia’s ambassador to South Korea warned Moscow would take measures if Seoul chooses to go ahead and deploy the U.S. missile defense system THAAD, according to a South Korean newspaper. The joint U.S.-South Korea decision to deploy THAAD was reached in July 2016. Russia has not been as vocal as China in its opposition to the missile defense system, which Beijing claims is being used for monitoring purposes. But on Friday, Ambassador Alexander Timonin told South Korean reporters if the system is placed in position, Russia has no choice but to take steps to ensure its security, Maeil Business reported. “A THAAD deployment may have a dangerous impact on the situation on the peninsula…We regard it as part of the U.S. global missile defense program, which is stationed along the Russian borders and therefore poses a threat to our security,” Timonin said.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: CDC Seeks Controversial New Quarantine Powers To Stop Outbreaks
Federal health officials may be about to get greatly enhanced powers to quarantine people, as part of an ongoing effort to stop outbreaks of dangerous contagious diseases. The new powers are outlined in a set of regulations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published late last month to update the agency’s quarantine authority for the first time since the 1940s. The outlined changes are being welcomed by many health lawyers, bioethicists and public health specialists as providing important tools for protecting the public. But the CDC’s increased authority is also raising fears that the rules could be misused in ways that violate civil liberties. The update was finalized at the end of the Obama administration and was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 21. But the Trump administration is reviewing the changes as part of its review of new regulations. So the soonest the changes could go into effect has been pushed to the end of March. With the new rules, the CDC would be able to detain people anywhere in the country without getting approval from state and local officials. The agency could also apprehend people to assess their health if they are exhibiting medical problems such as a high fever, headache, cramps and other symptoms that could be indicative of a dangerous infectious disease. “Because of the breadth and scope of the definition of ill persons, CDC can target a much wider swath of persons to assess and screen,” says James Hodge Jr., a professor of public health law and ethics at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Hodge says the new rules are “really necessary,” given the potential threat that infectious diseases pose. Some others who have studied the issue agree.
Feb. 2, 2017
Headline: Malaria-carrying Mosquitoes Becoming Resistant to Bed Nets in Southern Africa
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are becoming resistant to the insecticide used in bed nets to prevent the disease. Researchers say it is important to stay ahead of the resistance to avoid what they are calling a public health catastrophe. Bed nets treated with inexpensive pyrethroid insecticides are the main defense against biting, malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and they have significantly cut down on the number of cases. The World Health Organization reports malaria infected an estimated 212 million people in 2015, killing some 429,000 of them. That reflects a 21 percent drop in the incidence of between 2010 and 2015. But a new study, published in the journal PLoS Genetics, found that the primary mosquito that harbors the parasite in southern Africa, Anopheles funestus, is rapidly becoming resistant to the insecticide. In at least one country, Mozambique, researchers discovered that 100 percent of A. funestus remained alive after direct exposure to the chemical.
Feb. 2, 2017
Headline: Yellow fever deaths climb to 60 in Brazil outbreak
The Brazilian government announced Friday that the number of confirmed deaths caused by a yellow fever outbreak has reached 60, while 87 more suspicious deaths are being investigated. In a statement, the Health Ministry said that 53 of the deaths had come in the state of Minas Gerais, where the outbreak started before spreading to other states. Four people have died in Espirito Santo and three more in the state of Sao Paulo. Since the start of the outbreak, 150 deaths were potentially attributed of yellow fever, 60 of which have been confirmed, 87 are still under investigation and three have been eliminated. In total, 921 people have been suspected of being infected, 804 of which happened in Minas Gerais. 702 are being investigated, 161 have been confirmed and 58 have been ruled out. The rise in the number of cases forced the government to dispatch over 8 million doses of vaccine to at-risk states to try and contain the crisis.
Feb. 3, 2017
Headline: Central Italy shakes in new 4.4 magnitude earthquake
In the early hours of the morning, two tremors measuring over magnitude 4.0 were felt in the area between Marche and Umbria. According to Italy’s geology experts, Ingv, the first quake at 4:47am measured a magnitude of 4, and a second, bigger tremblor at 5:10am measured 4.4. The quake had its epicentre close to Monte Cavallo in the Macerata region, 12km away from Preci, Perugia. The epicentre was just 6km deep; quakes closer to the earth’s surface tend to be more destructive, however no further collapses or injuries have been reported. These were the largest of a series of 25 quakes which shook the ground throughout the night. The area has experienced near-constant seismic activity ever since the major quake of August 24th last year.
Feb. 3, 2017
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