March 6, 2017- Japan on high alert as N. Korean missiles land in its watersBy
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Headline: ‘Trump will keep his promise to move embassy to Jerusalem’
A congressional delegation sent to Israel to examine the issue of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem arrived this weekend for a fact-finding mission to assess the practical and political implications of the move. Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), a member of the delegation, told reporters at a press conference Sunday evening that President Trump intends to stand by his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Israeli journalists have been writing articles doubting Trump’s intentions since the inauguration. According to DeSantis, Trump’s inauguration and the selection of Ambassador-Designate to Israel David Friedman were exciting moments following eight years under President Obama, during which relations between Israel and the White House were “not simple.” “The American people are excited to see the embassy move from Jerusalem after fifty years,” said DeSantis, referencing the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.
March 5, 2017
Headline: Netanyahu to Meet Putin, Says Iran Seeks Permanent Foothold in Syria
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday to voice opposition to what the Israeli leader charged were Iran’s attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria. “In the framework of a [future peace agreement] or without one, Iran is attempting to base itself permanently in Syria – either through a military presence on the ground or a naval presence – and also through a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in public remarks on Sunday. “I will express to President Putin Israel’s vigorous opposition to this possibility,” he said. Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him. Netanyahu has said that Israel has carried out dozens of strikes to prevent weapons smuggling to the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah via Syria. Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire. “I hope that we’ll be able to reach certain understandings to lessen the possible friction between our forces and their forces, as we’ve successfully done so far,” he said at the cabinet meeting, referring to the Russian military.
March 5, 2017
Headline: In First, Conservative Synagogues Will Welcome Non-Jewish Members
The umbrella organization of Conservative synagogues passed a resolution on March 1 allowing individual congregations to decide whether to admit non-Jews as members. The resolution, the first of its kind in the Conservative movement, passed overwhelmingly with a 94-8 vote during a Special Meeting of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) General Assembly, JTA reported. “USCJ, as a valued and trusted partner, is committed to assisting welcoming, vibrant, and caring Jewish communities to fully engage the spiritual gifts of all community members,” the resolution read. “We celebrate the diversity among and within our kehillot (‘congregations’ in Hebrew) and encourage the engagement of all those who seek a spiritual and communal home in an authentic and dynamic Jewish setting.” The resolution invoked a verse from the Book of Isaiah in support of its decision to allow non-Jews to join the ranks of Conservative congregations.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Ex-British PM Tony Blair in talks to become Trump’s Middle East adviser – media
Headline: Former British PM Tony Blair denies intention to be Trump’s Mideast envoy
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has discussed becoming Donald Trump’s adviser on Middle East policies, during talks in the White House earlier this week, The Mail on Sunday reported. Blair, who was in charge of the UK government in 1997-2007, met Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in Washington on Wednesday, the papers claims, citing it’s source. The meeting in the West Wing of the US presidential residence lasted for three hours, according to The Mail on Sunday report. It was the third time since September 2016 that Blair and Kushner have met in secrecy, The Daily Mail’s sister-paper added. The paper’s informed source said that the former British prime mister may take on the role of Kushner’s senior adviser. “Blair has been pitching hard for this job and Trump’s people are taking him very seriously,” the source added. Blair is viewed as an expert on the Middle East after being an envoy for the so-called ‘Quartet’ of the EU, US, Russia, and the UN, aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent years, the 63-year-old was involved in business activity, also launching several foundations, including the Tony Blair Foundation in 2008.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Liberman: Annexing Judea and Samaria would create financial, diplomatic crisis
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, addressing a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Monday, expressed opposition to the efforts of some other coalition members to incorporate Judea and Samaria into Israel. Liberman claimed that such a move, suggested a day earlier by Miki Zohar, a Member of Knesset in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, would create a diplomatic crisis for Israel with the rest of the international community. “Applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria means accepting an extra 2,700,000 citizens, and that is before I get into international law, the political implications and the international community’s reactions that would not accept the fact that we are not granting them the right to vote,” he said. Liberman also claimed that if Israel were simply to grant residency status to some 2.7 million additional Palestinians, it would result in a major financial strain. “We must grant them at least the status of residents, like we did in east Jerusalem,” he continued. “That means Israel will have to pay them from day one, NIS 20 billion, only out of social security.” Liberman contended that Israel would also face a crisis with the Trump administration if it annexed the region.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Fierce clashes between rebel, militant groups on Lebanon’s outskirts
Fierce clashes Monday erupted between a Free Syrian Army rebel faction and a militant group on the outskirts of Lebanon, Hezbollah-linked media reported. The clashes were situated in the Lebanese border village of Khirbet Daoud on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, the Hezbollah-linked Media War Center said in a tweet. It said that clashes were between fighters from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – previously the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front – and Saraya Ahl al-Sham. Fatah al-Sham and Daesh (ISIS) militants have previously engaged in similar intermittent clashes on Arsal’s outskirts since January over territorial disputes. Meanwhile, the National News Agency reported that the Lebanese Army shelled militant posts on the outskirts of Arsal. The Lebanese Army and Hezbollah have pounded the militants with artillery fire in the rugged border region on a near daily basis for more than a year to keep them at bay.
March 6, 2017
Headline: US conducts more than 40 anti-terror air strikes in Yemen in 5 days
The US has heavily ramped up its air strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), US officials said Monday. The Islamist terrorists have taken advantage of Yemen’s civil war turmoil to establish themselves in key urban areas. US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller said that Washington is currently carrying out a vigorous campaign on Al Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen, aiming at destroying these two terrorist organizations. Since the beginning of the Trump residency, the number of US air strikes mainly with drones has outstripped the number conducted in the whole of 2016.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Syrian fighters cut key supply route to Daesh-held Raqqa
US-backed forces in Syria on Monday cut off a key supply route between the Daesh group’s stronghold Raqqa and its territory in Deir Ezzor province, a commander and a monitor said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, seized control of the only major road linking Raqqa along the Euphrates valley to Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. “The route… linking Raqqa to Deir Ezzor was cut this morning,” an SDF commander confirmed. The SDF launched its offensive for Raqqa — the de facto Syrian capital of Daesh’s so-called caliphate — in early November and has since seized swathes of territory in northern Syria from the jihadists.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Deir Ezzor offensive turns disastrous as the Syrian Army faces fierce ISIS resistance
Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched an assault on the southern sector of Deir Ezzor in a bid to link up with besieged government troops at Deir Ezzor Airbase. Led by the 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard, the National Defence Forces (NDF) and 137th Mechanized Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division, Syrian government troops attacked Tall Aloush, a strategic hill in the cemetery area, and engaged in a fierce battle with ISIS militants defending the high point. However, by late afternoon on Monday, Islamic State forces had thoroughly repelled the SAA’s offensive; at least 10 Syrian soldiers were killed-in-action while ISIS only sustained a handful of casualties. Regardless, joint Syrian and Russian airstrikes targeted ISIS insurgents held up at the Al-Sanouf hill, Al-Rawad hill, Al-Rashdiyah district, Al-Baghiliyah village, hill 17 and the Al-Sinaa suburb. Should the SAA take control of Tall Aloush in a renewed attack, this advance would pave to reach Deir Ezzor Airbase. The city’s airport was cutoff from government-held districts in downtown Deir Ezzor following an Islamic State offensive in January.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Kurdish forces hand over 20 villages to the Syrian Army in rural Aleppo
Headline: Five more Syrian Army soldiers captured by Turkish forces in Aleppo province
Headline: Syrian militia says Manbij (Aleppo province) under protection of US-led alliance
As previously reported by Al-Masdar News, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have agreed to conceede 20 villages to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in a bid to halt the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield campaign from capturing the city of Manbij. The villages in question, all located between Al-Bab and Manbij, are the following: Arimah, Arab Hassan Kabir, Zunqul, Khirbat Nafakh, Al-Farat, Jamus Wiran, Dandaniyah, Sayadah, Qurt Wiran, Sab Wiran, Kur Huyuk, Qawuqli, Al-Bughaz, Ulashli, Abu Hayj, Tall Turin, Qarah, Jubb al-Hamir, Al-Hutah, and Mil Wiman. Syrian troops are now present in the aforementioned areas, typified by one member of the pro-government National Defence Forces (NDF) surrendering himself to the Euphrates Shield forces earlier in the day during clashes in the region.
March 6, 2017
Headline: US armored column at Manbij to block Russians
The Pentagon announced Tuesday, March 6, that a US armored convoy was deployed around the disputed northern Syrian town of Manbij, and in an unusual move, released a video depicting the convoy and its men. A US military spokesman tweeted that the US deployment was a deliberate action taken to assure that forces within the US-led coalition deterred aggression and kept the focus on defeating ISIS. Affirming that the US-led coalition was aware of the location of Russian-backed Syrian forces, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters Monday. “They are certainly aware of where we are, and we are aware of where they are. There is no intention between the two of there being any conflict against any party other than ISIS.” debkafile’s military sources report that the US armored force landed in the middle of a complicated crisis around the important town of Manjib, ever since a mixed Kurdish-Syrian Arab force captured it from ISIS last year with US air and military support.
March 6, 2017
Headline: US-backed Iraqi forces capture Mosul bridge, close in on government buildings
Headline: Rojava receives 17,000 Iraqi refugees as fight in Western Mosul intensifies
US-backed Iraqi forces captured the second of Mosul’s five bridges on Monday, giving a boost to their onslaught on Islamic State’s remaining stronghold in the western part of the city. All of Mosul’s five bridges over the Tigris have been destroyed but their capture facilitates the movement of forces progressing alongside the river,which cuts Mosul in two. The bridge seized, Al-Hurriya, is the second after one located further south. Its capture shields the back of the forces advancing toward a nearby government buildings complex. “We control the western end of the bridge,” said a senior media officer with Rapid Response, the elite unit of the Interior Ministry leading the charge toward the complex. Recapturing the site would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the old city. It would also mark a symbolic step toward restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by Daesh. The battle of Mosul, which started on Oct. 17, will enter an more complicated phase in the densely populated old city.
March 6, 2017
Headline: UN Court Reports Turkey to Security Council
A United Nations court has referred Turkey to the Security Council for failing to release a judge imprisoned for suspected involvement in last year’s failed coup. The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) had given Turkey until February 14 to release Aydin Sefa Akay, a Turkish national who was due to hear a request for the case of a Rwandan genocide convict to be reopened. “The government of Turkey has failed to comply with its obligations,” Judge Theodor Meron said in a written ruling Monday. “This matter shall be reported to the United Nations Security Council.” Akay was one of more than 40,000 people arrested in the aftermath of the failed July coup against President Recep Tayipp Erdogan. Turkey has alleged the coup attempt was orchestrated by exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, who lives in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, has denied any role in the attempted overthrow of the Turkish leader.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Iran launched 2 ballistic missiles, US officials say
Headline: Trump and Netanyahu discuss Iranian threat
Continuing a pattern of provocative actions, Iran this weekend test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles and sent fast-attack vessels close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. officials confirmed to Fox News. One of Iran’s ballistic missile tests were successful, destroying a floating barge approximately 155 miles away, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch told Fox News. The launches of the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missiles were the first tests of the missile in two years, one official said. It was not immediately clear if this was the first successful test at sea — raising concerns for the U.S. Navy, which operates warships in the area, one of which had an “unsafe and unprofessional” interaction with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. boats on Saturday. The IRGC boats approached to within 600 yard of the tracking ship USNS Invincible and then stopped, officials confirmed to Fox News. The Invincible was accompanied by three ships from the British Royal Navy and all four ships were forced to change course, Reuters reported.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Militant attack kills 4 Afghan police officers
Headline: Taliban main factor for the foreign forces presence, Ghani
An Afghan official says that alleged Islamic State militants killed four police officers in an attack on a security post in eastern Nangarhar province. Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack took place early Monday morning in the Achin District. Five police officers were wounded and eight militant attackers were killed. There has been no claim of responsibility but Khogyani blamed the local affiliate of the Islamic State group. IS has been active in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, launching several similar attacks in recent months. Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Monday that Taliban insurgents are the main reason for the continuing presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. Ghani, speaking at the annual opening ceremony of the Afghan parliament, said that the Afghan government asked for the extension of the foreign military mission largely because of the ongoing militant threat. “Those Taliban who are killing our people are the enemies of our nation, as are Daesh (Islamic State group) and other terrorist groups,” Ghani told the parliamentarians. He claimed that there were 20 different militant insurgent groups, including the Taliban, operating in the country. Meanwhile, an extended battle was underway Monday between Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces in the southern province of Kandahar’s Nash district, according to Zia Durrani, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial police chief. The attack started Sunday and continued into Monday, Durrani said, adding that at least six police officers have been killed and around 15 wounded. He estimated that 15 Taliban fighters have been killed and more than 30 wounded. “The reinforcements have arrived, but right now the clash is near the Nash district headquarters,” said Durrani. Qari Yosouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Eastern Libya Forces Strike from Air, Aim to Retake Oil Site
Headline: Libya militias who seized oil terminals aim to take Benghazi
Libyan armed forces based in the east launched more airstrikes Saturday against militias that seized oil terminals a day earlier, a spokesman said, accusing troops from the country’s rival west of launching a war. Three strikes hit vehicles and targets in the area around the al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf terminals, where at least nine soldiers were killed in Friday’s attack that drove out the army troops despite earlier air strikes supporting them, Col. Ahmed Mosmary, spokesman for forces commanded by army chief Gen. Khalifa Haftar said. The army has deployed more forces in preparation of a counterattack to drive out the militias, known as Benghazi Defense Brigades, which are comprised of Islamic militants and former rebels recently defeated by Haftar’s forces in Benghazi, Libya’ second largest city, he said. They’re also joined by militiamen from the western city of Misrata. “This is a war against a whole region,” he said, referring to Libya’s east. “They will not win.”
March 6, 2017
Headline: In day of pro-Trump rallies, California march turns violent
Headline: Loretta Lynch: Need more marching, blood, death on streets
Supporters of Donald Trump clashed with counter-protesters at a rally in the famously left-leaning city of Berkeley, California, on a day of mostly peaceful gatherings in support of the U.S. president across the country. At a park in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco, protesters from both sides struck one another over the head with wooden sticks and Trump supporters fired pepper spray as police in riot gear stood at a distance. Some in the pro-Trump crowd, holding American flags, faced off against black-clad opponents. An elderly Trump supporter was struck in the head and kicked on the ground. Organizers of the so-called Spirit of America rallies in at least 28 the country’s 50 states had said they expected smaller turn-outs than the huge crowds of anti-Trump protesters that clogged the streets of Washington and other cities the day after the Republican’s inauguration on Jan. 20. “There are a lot of angry groups protesting and we thought it was important to show our support,” said Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump, who helped organize Saturday’s rally in Washington. In many towns and cities, the rallies did not draw more than a few hundred people. At some, supporters of the president were at risk of being outnumbered by small groups of anti-Trump protesters who gathered to shout against the rallies.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Armed groups prevent Mali interim government’s installation in Timbuktu
Armed groups surrounded Timbuktu on Monday, the defense ministry said, preventing Malian interim authorities from being installed there under a peace pact meant to end years of lawlessness. The return of state authority to the city was supposed to fill a vacuum that has turned northern Mali into a launch pad for jihadi attacks across the vast region bordering on the Sahara Desert. Banks, schools and shops were shuttered and the city’s streets nearly deserted, barring patrols by U.N. peacekeepers, and residents reported sporadic gunfire that had petered out by the afternoon. “Armed groups opposed to the interim authorities, which should have been put in place today, are positioned around the city and are threatening to take it over,” Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Sidibe said by telephone. He said the arrival of the new authorities had been postponed and negotiations were under way. A Reuters cameraman saw fighters standing on sandbags and wielding rocket launchers at an official checkpoint, their faces wrapped with turbans to protect them against the blowing sand. Most government posts have been unfilled since ethnic Tuareg separatists and desert jihadists took over northern Mali in 2012, before French forces intervened to push them back. A peace deal signed in 2015 was meant to enable authorities to return. But pro and anti-government Tuareg-dominated armed factions had been quarrelling for months over how the authorities should be constituted – until a breakthrough two weeks ago. Last week, authorities were installed in the towns of Kidal – seen as the north’s most recalcitrant bastion of Tuareg separatism – and Menaka.
March 6, 2017
Headline: EU ministers agree to create joint military command center in NATO footsteps
The European Union is to create a special military command center for operating foreign missions, the German defense minister announced amid criticism from some bloc members that the initiative is financially unreasonable and merely copies NATO’s steps. EU foreign ministers “founded, or put in motion, today a European command center for foreign missions,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, according to AP. Membership in the program is not obligatory, von der Leyen stressed, adding that EU members not wishing to take part could act as observers. “For those who are not members of the European Union, like for example Norway or the British, there will be the possibility to join in selectively with certain projects or missions,” she said. “The Norwegians have great interest in this, the British have great interest in this,” the German minister noted. Meanwhile, Britain has long criticized the bloc’s aspirations to launch its own army, saying the EU should not waste money on creating structures that match those set up by NATO. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who was also present at the meeting, called on other EU ministers “to cooperate more closely with NATO to avoid unnecessary duplication and structures.” Nevertheless, von der Leyen called the move “a very important step” that “was long overdue.” “We took a very important step toward a European security and defense union, because we have become very concrete,” she said.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Ukraine Asks UN Judges to Order Russia to Stop Aiding Rebels
Ukraine asked the United Nations’ highest court on Monday to order Russia to stop funding and equipping pro-Russian separatists, at the start of a hearing where it hopes to prove Moscow is breaking international law. Russia denies sending troops or military equipment to eastern Ukraine and is expected to challenge the basis of the case Ukraine has launched at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. “Today I stand before the World Court to request protection of the basic human rights of Ukrainian people,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said on the first of four days of hearings. Zerkal requested an immediate court order to stop what she called Russia’s abuses until the judges have heard the case in full. The U.N. court takes years to hear cases. Although its rulings are final and binding, it has no means of enforcement. Zerkal’s request for so-called provisional measures, included a halt of transfers of money, weapons, vehicles, equipment, training or personnel to pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces. “Russian Federation tactics include support for terrorism and acts of racial discrimination, as well as propaganda, subversion, intimidation, political corruption and cyber attacks,” she told the judges, citing new attacks in recent weeks.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Security, rebels clash near Mynamar-China border; 30 dead
About 30 people died Monday in clashes between ethnic rebels and Myanmar security in an area along the border with China, the government said. Authorities said five civilians, five police officers and at least 20 rebel fighters died in the town of Laukkai, in the Kokang region. The rebel group, Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army, is fighting Myanmar’s armed forces in the region. “According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher … were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group,” the office of Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a statement. The Northern Alliance, a multi-faction rebel group that includes the MNDAA, said the attack was carried out in “self-defense” of the Myanmar military’s operation since December.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Russia’s developing 100 megaton dirty Tsunami Creating submarine drone bomb
“The Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that to achieve ‘extensive radioactive contamination’ the weapon ‘could envisage using the so-called cobalt bomb, a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout compared to a regular atomic warhead,'” Schneider said. Retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, has said development of the underwater nuclear strike vehicle is one element of a “troubling” Russian strategic nuclear buildup. Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the House subcommittee on strategic forces, has said that the Russians assert the nuclear drone submarine will be used to target coastal areas and inflict “unacceptable damage to a country’s territory by creating areas of wide radioactive contamination that would be unsuitable for military, economic, or other activity for long periods of time.” Russia calls the system “Ocean Multipurpose System ‘Status-6,” and it is allegedly capable of traveling underwater to distances of to 6,200 miles. It can submerge to depths of 3,280 feet and travel at speeds of up to 56 knots. The Pentagon has confirmed that a new Russian nuclear delivery drone is real. The undersea drone, which carries an enormous nuclear warhead to destroy coastal cities and military bases, was tested late last month. Reports from Russia indicate the bomb could be armed with a “salted bomb”, or one that “salts the Earth” with the dangerous isotope Cobalt-60. Such a bomb could spread such high levels of radioactivity it would prevent anyone from using the attack zone for approximately 100 years. Depending on location and prevailing weather conditions, such an explosion would also carry vast amounts of radiation inland.
March 5, 2017
Headline: North Korea fires 4 ‘ballistic missiles’ amid Seoul’s joint drills with US
Headline: US deploying THAAD to S.Korea to boost defense vs N.Korea missiles
Headline: Japan on high alert as N. Korean missiles land in its waters
Headline: North Korea likely preparing to strike U.S. military bases in Japan
North Korea has reportedly launched four missiles into the Sea of Japan, three of which landed in Japanese territorial waters. Earlier, the Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea had fired a single “unidentified projectile” off the country’s east coast. After reviewing data, the South Korean military revised the count to four projectiles, Reuters reported. The military is trying to determine the type of rocket that was tested, but the South Korean agency has already cited an unnamed military official as saying it “could” have been an intercontinental ballistic missile “capable of reaching the US mainland.” “We estimate the North fired four ballistic missiles. We are conducting an analysis (with the US) on the missiles to determine their type and other specifications. It will take a while before we can come up with a final analysis (based on US satellite data),” South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. Meanwhile, an anonymous US military official who spoke to Reuters, emphasized that there are no indications so far that North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. The projectiles were launched early Monday morning at 7:36 am local time from the Dongchang-ri long-range missile site, Yonhap reported citing S. Korea’s military. The unidentified objects flew across the country for about 1,000 kilometers before plunging into the East Sea. Tokyo has lodged a “strong protest” with North Korea over the projectile tests.
March 6, 2017
Headline: “The Reality Is, Half Of Americans Can’t Afford To Write A $500 Check”
According to a recent Bankrate survey of 1,000 adults, 57% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a mere $500 unexpected expense. Turns out the CEO was right. And while that may appear dire, it is a slight improvement from 2016, when 63% of U.S. residents said they wouldn’t be able to handle such an expense. The survey’s findings have shed light on how the so-called recovery of the past 8 years has skipped about half of the US population, which literally live paycheck to paycheck, and reflects a country in which many households continue to struggle with their basic finances more than seven years after the official end to the recession. Putting the numbers in context: despite steady job growth during the Obama administration – which have been focused on minimum wage industries – wages have been predictably slow to recover, with the typical American household still earning 2.4% below what they brought home in 1999, when income peaked. Meanwhile, costs for essentials such as housing and child care have surged faster than the rate of inflation, placing stress on household budgets and making the accumulation of wealth, i.e., savings, impossible. The bottom line: About four out of 10 Americans said they had enough in savings to cover a surprise $500 expense. Another 21% said they would rely on a credit card, while 20% said they’d cut back on other expenses. Another 11% said they’d turn to family or friends for the money. What is even more striking is that among Americans who earn more than $75,000 per year – a third more than the typical U.S. household earns – almost half also said they wouldn’t be able to cover a $500 surprise expense. Ironically, Millennials represent the generation most equipped to handle an emergency cost, with 47 percent saying they have enough in savings to cover one. The Bankrate survey findings echoed research published last year by the Federal Reserve, which found that 46% of respondents said they would be challenged to come up with even less, or $400, to cover an emergency expense, and would likely borrow or sell something to afford it. When the Fed asked what types of emergency expenses Americans had actually faced in the last year, more than one out of five cited a major unexpected medical expense. The average expense: $2,782, or almost seven times higher than the Fed’s hypothetical $400 surprise bill.
March 6, 2017
Headline: Israel moves toward decriminalizing marijuana use
Holy smokes! The Israeli government has taken a step toward decriminalizing marijuana use. Israeli media say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet has approved a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. If caught, smokers would pay a fine, instead of facing criminal charges. Netanyahu said ahead of Sunday’s meeting that a “new enforcement policy” should be drawn up “cautiously and in a controlled manner.” The decision does not mean that Jerusalem will now have Amsterdam-style coffee shops. The Haaretz daily said a committee would study ways to regulate the use of pot. Opposition lawmaker Tamar Zandberg told Haaretz: “This is an important step, but not the end of the road. It sends a message that a million Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals.”
March 5, 2017
Headline: Powerful aftershock leaves one killed, 41 injured in Mindanao city
One person was killed and 41 injured on Sunday when a powerful aftershock hit a southern Philippine city still recovering from a quake last month, authorities said. The 5.9-magnitude quake struck the southern city of Surigao and surrounding areas, causing two houses and several walls to collapse, government seismologists and civil defense officers said. A 65-year-old woman died of a heart attack while 41 people were treated for injuries mostly caused by falling objects, civil defense officials said. The quake also knocked out power for several hours in the city of 152,000 people. It was just one of over a hundred aftershocks to hit Surigao City on Mindanao island since a 6.5-magnitude quake on Feb. 10 left eight dead and over 250 injured. Its epicenter was outside Surigao City in the same area as the epicenter of last month’s tremor, the government seismology office said.
March 6, 2017
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