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March 8, 2017- US troops land in Syria to launch Raqqa operation


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Headline:   Society ignores prohibitions put forth by Jesus

Our pabulum society today wants to correct Paul. “Where is the Love of God?” we ask. The answer: It is in the message. But sometimes love cuts like a sword; sometimes it scorches like fire; sometimes it burns like acid. Jesus forgave the sinful woman (John 8:1-11), but do not ignore the instructive: “Go thy way and sin no more.” The sterling ethics of the New Testament condemns the softness or wickedness of a society that calmly accepts adultery, fornication, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, graft, thievery, drunkenness and revelry (worldly parties) (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Our loving God referred to some of the sins here as “abominations” (Leviticus 18) and promised the Jews that the “land (of Canaan) would vomit them out” if they practiced them. The Good News (Gospel) calls men and women out of the fields of wickedness and continues to call sin “sin.” No one courts the disapproval of society or their fellows. No one I know likes being persecuted. But in the name of biblical values, our forefathers in the faith were labeled “Hatred of the Human Race” not because they approved, ignored, or even blessed prevailing sins of the day, let alone did they tolerate it “in the church” (see 1 Corinthians 5). They were so called because they refused to compromise the truth and continued publicly to recognize sin as the real stigma of the human race. If we are to judge by the Bible, God has little if any use for the anemia that marks many of today’s pulpits and the people “who love to have it so.”
March 7, 2017


Headline:   Arab League prepares to oppose any embassy move to Jerusalem

The Arab League unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday decrying the moving of any embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. “The Arab League considers setting up any diplomatic mission in Jerusalem or moving it to the city an explicit attack on the rights of the Palestinian people and all Muslims and Christians,” the resolution states. The resolution was passed as US President Donald Trump considers going forward with his original plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The resolution did not address the US specifically. The resolution also calls upon member states to “monitor and follow up on any….moving of diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.” Moreover, the Arab League intends to “study effective measures to counter any such move through the United Nations (UN), including the Security Council.”
March 8, 2017

Headline: US Senate unanimously calls for swift action on anti-Semitic bomb threats

The entire US Senate has signed a letter calling on the Trump administration to provide greater protection to Jewish sites as well as to take action against bomb threats and vandalism amid the rising wave of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide. The letter says “It has become clear that threats of violence against individual JCCs are not isolated incidents” and, “These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve.” The letter was sent to FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. More than 100 bomb threats have been made against American Jewish sites since January, including ones in nine states on Tuesday.
March 8, 2017

Headline: Israel moves to mute mosques’ call to prayer over loudspeakers

A law to muffle mosques’ amplified calls to prayer in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem won preliminary approval on Wednesday in a charged parliamentary session where Arab legislators denounced the measure as racist. Supporters of the bill say it is aimed at improving the quality of life of people living near mosques who have been losing sleep. The calls usually begin sounding a little before 5 A.M. through loudspeakers mounted on minarets. Opponents say the legislation, sponsored by right-wing parties, impinges on the religious freedom of Israel’s Muslim minority. Arabs make up almost 20 percent of the population and have long complained of discrimination. Two versions of law won initial approval and will go to committee for further discussion before any final vote in parliament, in what could be a lengthy process.
March 8, 2017

Headline:   Report: Netanyahu freezes building permits in Judea and Samaria

Headline:   US repeats call on Israel to ‘hold back’ settlement activity

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant to freeze thousands of housing units which Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had recently approved for construction in Judea and Samaria, it was reported Wednesday. Netanyahu and Liberman had issued two announcements that a total of 5,500 housing units would be constructed in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria shortly after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. 2,000 of the units were to be available to be marketed immediately. The Defense Ministry said in a statement at the time of the second announcement that “The decision comes as part of the resumption of normal life in Judea and Samaria and in order to provide a real answer to living and housing needs in the region.” “We are in a new time period in which life in Judea and Samaria is returning to normal, and we will provide an appropriate response to the needs of the residents of the region,” said Liberman.
March 8, 2017


Headline: IRCG Source: Iran Strengthening Hezbollah, Palestinian Terrorists for Possible Conflict with Israel

Iran is responding to President Donald Trump’s warnings against the Tehran regime by strengthening Hezbollah and Gaza-based terror groups as well as allying itself with Russia in exchange for economic and military privileges, an Iranian military source said. In an article published on February 21 in the Iranian reformist news agency Amad News – Iran’s answer to WikiLeaks – an unnamed source from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was cited as saying that the Islamic Republic was mulling its response to “increasing threats by America,” which have the potential to turn into an “extensive military confrontation.” Political, security and military officials have held a series of meetings, the source said, and have come to the conclusion that “Iran should deepen its strategic ties with Russia, such that in the event of an extensive war, Russia will defend Iran from American threats.” Russia would receive widespread compensation for such a strategic alliance, the source said. First, Tehran would grant Moscow access to oil fields in southern Iran, giving Russia annual profits of $50 billion. This would go some way toward assuaging the economic crisis Russia has suffered as a result of American sanctions over the Crimea issue. “The second recommendation is to realize Russia’s decades-old dream of access to free waters,” the Farsi-language article translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) said, continuing “that if America attacks Iran, Russia will be able to defend Iran against the mighty sea and land strength of America.” Allowing Russia access to the Persian Gulf and control of its ports will also alleviate the sanctions against it, the IRGC source said.
March 7, 2017

Headline: UN Envoy Nikki Haley Warns Palestinians That UN Won’t Help Them Anymore

Headline: Hamas said set to recognize Palestine on 1967 borders, but not Israel

Palestinians should not look to the United Nations for a solution to its conflict with Israel, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned in her first meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the UN on Tuesday. Haley, who in her short tenure has already made clear at the UN that the international body’s bias against Israel is unacceptable, met with Riyad Mansour – who is not an official envoy, as the PA is not recognized by the UN, but a ‘permanent UN observer’ – for 45 minutes in New York. After the meeting, Haley tweeted that she had told Mansour the PA must meet with Israel in direct negotiations “rather than looking to the UN to deliver results that can only be achieved through the two parties.” Mansour acknowledged Haley’s request to the media, telling AFP that the US envoy had “raised the desire to see the two parties engaging in negotiations” and indicated that the US is considering another bid to revive stalled negotiations. According to Haley’s Twitter statement, Haley had also warned Mansour that the Palestinian Authority must stop its incitement to violence and terror. The talk, however, was cordial, both parties said.
March 8, 2017



Headline:   Jordan offers Turkey special zones for investment

Headline: Jordan, PLO stress two-state solution key to Arab-Israeli conflict

Prime Minister Hani Mulki on Tuesday expressed Jordan’s willingness to boost economic relations with Turkey through the establishment of special zones for Turkish industries and more Turkish investment in the Kingdom. In separate meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Mulki stated that Jordan also welcomes more Turkish participation in mega projects on the drawing board, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. Jordan and Turkey plan to increase the trade volume to $3 billion, it was announced after the talks, in order to make up for the significant drop that resulted from the Syrian crisis. At his meeting with President Erdogan, Mulki reviewed Jordan’s stance on regional developments and common challenges, reiterating the Kingdom’s call for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Mulki commended the “distinguished” relations between Turkey and Jordan, adding that Amman is keen on developing these ties on all levels, in the interest of both countries. Mulki stressed that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains the core issue in the Middle East, highlighting Jordan’s efforts to encourage Palestinians and Israelis to resume serious negotiations that lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital. The prime minister underlined the Hashemite custodianship on holy sites in Jerusalem and its role in preserving Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif as well as all other Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem. Erdogan praised the Kingdom’s role in safeguarding Jerusalem’s shrines.
March 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia

Headline:    ISIS terror group boasts Saudi nationals as its largest group of fighters

Saudi Arabia may be a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, but the oil-rich kingdom is also the No. 1 supplier of fighters for the Islamic State terror group in Iraq, according to Iraqi military sources. “The Saudi presence in ISIS is very large. What we have left are mainly Iraqis and Saudis,” one high-ranking Iraqi counterterrorism intelligence officer, who requested anonymity, told Fox News. “The Saudis make up a large number of suicide bombers, as they already have the ground work of radicalization installed in their minds from radical sheikhs in Saudi. And we’ve caught important ISIS commanders.” According to intelligence officials, Saudis make up as much as 30 percent of ISIS fighters left in Iraq. They are said to have streamed into the conflict-laden nation over the past three years through the previously porous Turkish border, as well as through the border towns of Abu Kamal and Rabia, the latter once known as an Al Qaeda stronghold.
March 8, 2017

Headline:    Sudan and the UAE battle for control of Yemen airport

Headline: Hadi: Government controls 85% of Yemen

The Sudanese army has a legitimate right to take over supervisory control of the Aden International Airport in southern Yemen, sources in the Sudanese capital Khartoum said. The claim comes days after a faction of the southern Yemeni army which was protecting the airport, under the supervision of the UAE army, came under attack from Sudanese soldiers who are part of the Saudi-led coalition and are allied with the officially recognised President of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The clashes are the latest in on-going tensions between rival Yemeni groups in the south and followed official orders from Hadi for the current head of the airport, Salah Al Emeeri, better known as Abu Qatan, to step down as head of the facility. Speaking about the latest incident, Al Emeeri, who has refused to relinquish control of the airport, told local news outlets that the Sudanese forces opened fire on southern Yemeni troops inside the airport before being pushed back and forced to flee. However, he confirmed that some Sudanese forces were still inside the facility. He claimed the situation was under the control of his forces who were exercising self-restraint. He vowed never to allow the Sudanese to take over and said he would maintain control of the military and the security operations in southern Yemen. His group has been protecting the airport, under the supervision of the UAE army, ever since the liberation of Aden in 2015 from Houthi rebels loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Salih.
March 8, 2017


Headline:    ‘We want bread’: subsidy cut sparks protests across Egypt

Some of Egypt’s major cities have been paralysed by rare protests in response to a cut in bread subsidies. The country’s ministry of supply reduced the state-sponsored provision of bread of up to 4,000 to 500 loaves per bakery, according to local news reports. The move is designed to replace an earlier and more controversial proposal to cut the supply from five loaves per person per day to three. But while the cuts are unlikely to have a dramatic affect on the bread rations of the average citizen, the suggestion struck a nerve among the Egyptian public. In response to the decision, hundreds of Egypt’s poorest citizens filled the streets in the cities of Alexandria and Giza, and the towns of Kafr el-Sheikh and Minya. Roads were blocked and residents surrounded government buildings. One protest in Alexandria showed people chanting “we want bread” and “everything but a loaf”, according to video footage taken by protesters. The hashtag “supply uprising” trended on Twitter across Egypt on Tuesday. The protests come as the cost of living for the average Egyptian rises rapidly. Egypt devalued its currency and cut fuel subsidies in November, prompting the value of the Egyptian pound to halve and leading to queues of furious citizens at petrol stations.
March 8, 2017

Headline:   Iraq to continue striking Daesh targets in Syria, Abadi says

Iraq will continue to hit Daesh targets in Syria, as well as in neighboring countries if they give their approval, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Wednesday. “I respect the sovereignty of states, and I have secured the approval of Syria to strike positions (on its territory),” he told a conference in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya. Abadi on Feb. 24 announced the first Iraqi air strike inside Syrian territory, targeting Daesh positions in retaliation for bomb attacks in Baghdad. “I will not hesitate to strike the positions of the terrorists in the neighboring countries, we will keep on fighting them,” Abadi said.
March 8, 2017



Headline:   Warplanes bomb east of Damascus after truce declared

Warplanes bombed a rebel-held area east of Damascus on Wednesday where Russia declared a ceasefire less than 24 hours earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday a ceasefire had been agreed in Eastern Ghouta in Syria’s Damascus province until March 20. The Observatory said air strikes and artillery had hit three towns there. A media unit run by Damascus ally Hezbollah said the Syrian air force had hit jihadists tied to Syria’s former al Qaeda offshoot in Irbeen city north east of Damascus, and also in al Qaboun, both in Eastern Ghouta. The Syrian army has been closing in on the area in recent months, and towns there have seen an escalation of aerial raids and fighting on several frontline in recent days, according to opposition sources. The army and its allies are seeking to force rebels to agree to truce deals similar to those that have led to evacuating thousands of opposition fighters to areas in the country’s north.
March 8, 2017

Headline: US troops land in Syria to launch Raqqa operation

debkafile’s military and intelligence sources disclose that elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment have arrived in Syria for the Trump administration’s first direct military operation in Syria: the long-delayed offensive to capture Raqqa from the Islamic State. The plan was put before the US, Russian and Turkish chiefs of staff who were getting together for the first time on Tuesday, March 7, in the Turkish town of Antalya, as revealed earlier on this site. Rangers Regiment troops, which will spearhead the Raqqa attack, flew in from Fort Lewis air base, Washington, to the US air facility in Rmeilan, near the Syrian Kurdish town of Hasaka, equipped with light Striker tanks. More tanks and heavy equipment reached the Syrian base overland from Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to our sources, President Donald Trump decided, after consulting with Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, that the US army would go it alone in the Raqqa offensive together with a single local force: the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF is composed of 45,000 fighters of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and 10,000 Arab tribesmen, most belonging to the north Syrian branch of the Shamar. Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russian Chief of Staff, and Gen. Hulusi Akar, Turkish army chief, were conferring in Antalya when the Rangers landed in Syria.
March 8, 2017

Headline: Syrian Army amassing soldiers in northwest Aleppo for new offensive

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah forces are preparing for a new offensive in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo after taking a 3 month long hiatus to concentrate on more pressing fronts around the province. According to a military source in Aleppo, the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command has been preparing for an offensive in the northwestern countryside for quite some time; especially, after putting their operations on hold last year near the ‘Anadan Plain. In preparation for this offensive, the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary) have sent a large number of reinforcements to the northwestern sector of Aleppo, concentrating most of the military personnel near the Al-Zahra Association Quarter.
March 8, 2017


Headline:     Troops retake Mosul govt HQ

Headline: Iraqi forces advance towards Nouri Mosque, reclaim Badush prison

Headline: Iraqi forces fight IS in Mosul as bomb blasts hit Tikrit wedding

Iraqi forces on Tuesday recaptured the main government building in Mosul, the central bank branch and the museum where three years ago the militants filmed themselves destroying priceless statues.
A Rapid Response team stormed the Nineveh governorate complex in an overnight raid that lasted more than an hour, killing dozens of Daesh fighters, spokesman Lt. Col. Abdel Amir Al-Mohammadawi said. The buildings, already in ruins, were not being used by Daesh, but their capture is a landmark in the push to retake the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq, now restricted to the heavy populated western half of Mosul. Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi flew into Mosul to visit the troops. “Iraqis shall walk tall when the war is over,” Al-Abadi said as he arrived.
Daesh snipers continued to fire at the main government building after it was stormed, restricting the movements of the soldiers, and forces pushing further into western Mosul came under rifle and rocket fire.
March 8, 2017

Headline: Campaign for Mosul March 2 – 8, 2017










Headline:        Turkey shuts down US aid group Mercy Corps as relations with Washington deteriorate

In the increasing welter of warfare in northern Syria, one of the biggest U.S.-based humanitarian organizations operating in the area has become collateral damage, at least temporarily—and perhaps a sign of worsening relations between the government of Turkey and the Trump Administration. Mercy Corps, based in Portland, Ore., and one of the biggest non-government relief organizations in the world, was abruptly told on March 7 to shut down all its operations in Turkey, which are overwhelmingly aimed at providing cross-border aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighboring northern Syria. The shutdown affects some 300 relief workers. Expatriates among them would have to leave the country and local workers would be laid off. “Our hearts are broken by this turn of events, which comes after five years of cooperation with the government of Turkey and other local partners,” the relief organization said in a press release. It added that its operations inside neighboring Syria “will continue,” presumably sourced from elsewhere. The organization was given no reason for its eviction. There were no indications that other humanitarian organizations were affected by the sudden Turkish diktat. Turkey’s foreign ministry had issued no formal statements about the decision. Reuters, however, said that a Turkish government official called the decision “technical” and said that Mercy Corps had failed to meet some unspecified documentation requirements.
March 8, 2017


Headline:  Iran accuses US of stirring tensions in Gulf

Headline: Iran’s FM, in surprise visit to Qatar, discusses reconciliation with Riyadh

A senior official in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday accused the United States of provoking tensions after two separate incidents in the Gulf last week. “A US Navy ship crossing the Strait of Hormuz changed its international route and approached to within 550 meters of Revolutionary Guards’ boats in an unprofessional way,” Mehdi Hashemi told the Guard’s website Sepahnews. He said actions by the United States and the United Kingdom in recent days showed they have “harmful, illegitimate and provocative objectives.” “Not only do they not want stability and security in the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, but they seek to create tensions and a crisis,” he said.  Meanwhile,  Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Qatar where he met with the Gulf state’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and its top diplomat. The visit is connected to recent efforts by Kuwait to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Kuwait and Oman in February.
March 8, 2017


Headline:    Afghanistan: IS gunmen dressed as medics kill 30 at Kabul military hospital

Headline: Chinese Military Enters Afghanistan Fray with Pentagon’s Knowledge

More than 30 people have been killed after attackers dressed as doctors stormed the largest military hospital in Kabul, Afghan officials say. Militants armed with guns and grenades gained entry after one detonated explosives at a hospital gate and then opened fire on staff and patients. Commandos who landed on the Sardar Daud hospital roof killed all four attackers after several hours of fighting. The so-called Islamic State (IS) group has claimed the attack.  The Taliban has denied any involvement. More than 50 people were also wounded, the defence ministry said. President Ashraf Ghani said the attack at the 400-bed hospital “trampled all human values”. “In all religions, a hospital is regarded as an immune site and attacking it is attacking the whole of Afghanistan,” he said. The attack began at 09:00 local time (04:30 GMT). One hospital staff member who was able to get out saw an attacker “wearing a white coat holding a Kalashnikov and opening fire on everyone, including the guards, patients and doctors”.
March 8, 2017


Headline:   South Sudan genocide risk ‘considerably diminished:’ UN head

Headline: South Sudan Renegade General Calls for Overthrow of Kiir

The risk of genocide in South Sudan has “considerably diminished” though much fighting there continues, the United Nations secretary-general said Wednesday. Antonio Guterres made the comment in response to a reporter’s question about a new U.N. report saying warning signs for genocide are in place in South Sudan. The report by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights into South Sudan describes deliberate starvation and bombardment of civilians, as well as the use of hate speech by top officials including President Salva Kiir. “We still have many incidents taking place, many fighting taking place … but the risks of genocide have considerably diminished,” Guterres said. The U.N. chief said the U.N., African Union and the regional block IGAD have a common strategy to lessen the violence in South Sudan and start an all-inclusive dialogue. He gave no details. Meanwhile, A renegade South Sudanese general says President Salva Kiir is destroying the East African nation and must be overthrown. General Thomas Cirillo Swaka spoke to VOA’s South Sudan in Focus from an undisclosed location Monday, soon after announcing the launch of a new rebel group, the National Salvation Front. “Kiir is killing our people, Kiir has betrayed the aspiration, the hope of our people,” he said. “So it is a must for the people of South Sudan … to come out at this historical juncture to see into it that Kiir is not there.”
March 8, 2017


Headline:       Libya’s eastern parliament quits UN peace deal with Tripoli

Headline:      Forces allied to Libya’s UN-backed government retake oil ports

Libya’s eastern parliament voted Tuesday to withdraw its support for a United Nations peace deal and Government of National Accord, an escalation in the fractured country’s split that stokes concerns recent violence could intensify. Abdullah Ablaihig, spokesman for the Tobruk-based, internationally recognized House of Representatives, said the body voted to annul its previous acceptance of a presidential council and the UN-backed government currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli. The decision comes as Libya’s rival power centers are sliding closer to open conflict, with breakaway militias backed by western Libyan factions seizing oil terminals from the east’s strongman general, whose forces have vowed to take them back. The Tobruk body called on all Libyan parties to condemn militias that occupied the two key terminals in what it described as “terrorist attacks,” saying it was suspending its participation in peace talks until they did so.
March 8, 2017


Headline:    Morocco says determined to develop Western Sahara

Headline: UN envoy to Western Sahara resigns

Morocco is “more determined than ever” to develop the Western Sahara, Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said Wednesday on a two-day visit to the disputed territory. Rabat insists the former Spanish colony is an integral part of its kingdom, but the Algeria-based Polisario Front demands a referendum on self-determination there. The two sides fought for control of the Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat gaining control of the territory before a UN-brokered ceasefire took effect. “We are more determined than ever to continue to develop the Sahara region,” Hassad told AFP. “Unfortunately there are many people who don’t like this, particularly the fact that we are building roads,” he said, referring to the Polisario. Hassad spoke after Morocco pulled back from the area of Guerguerat near the Mauritanian border in late February at the request of the United Nations. Tensions flared last year after the Polisario set up a new military post in the same area.
March 8, 2017


Headline:   Armenia president urges pressure on Azerbaijan to avert war

Headline: France seeks to revive Armenia-Azerbaijan peace push

Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian has urged international powers to step up pressure on Azerbaijan to avoid all-out war over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region, accusing his nation’s arch-foe of military “blackmail”. “The danger of a new war is constant and will persist until Azerbaijan is persuaded that there is no military solution to the conflict,” Sarkisian told AFP in an interview ahead of a visit to France. Fears that the decades-long Nagorny Karabakh dispute could escalate have risen since sporadic firing across the volatile frontline surged last April into the worst violence since a 1994 truce. A ceasefire brokered by Moscow stilled several days of bloodshed but long-standing mediators from Russia, the United States and France have since struggled to restart a stalled peace process. Sarkisian — who will meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Wednesday — accused his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev of sabotaging any progress by threatening to start fighting unless he gets his way. “He said Azerbaijan will not start a war if Armenia fulfils its demands. I said that this is blackmail, not a compromise,” the Armenian leader said.
March 8, 2017









Headline:     Unions lead mass protests in Buenos Aires

Argentina’s most powerful unions have brought tens of thousands of people to the capital’s streets to protest against government job cuts, the lifting of restrictions on imports and other policies of President Mauricio Macri. During the march on Tuesday, organised by the CGT Labour Federation and backed by other unions, demonstrators waved banners and white and blue national flags and blocked traffic along the main avenues of Buenos Aires. Unionists also asked for salary rises to keep up with the high inflation and threatened to stage a nationwide strike in March or April if their demands are not met by Macri’s government. “We are hearing about layoffs, lack of jobs, difficulty in putting food on the table. We hope the government thinks of the most vulnerable and not only of the rich,” said Daniel Melendez of the Barrios de Pie Organisation, a movement that works in the poorest areas of Buenos Aires. Thousands of teachers also took to the streets of the capital as part of a two-day national strike demanding a wage increase.
March 8, 2017

Headline:     Police in Athens fire tear gas at farmers protesting tax & pension reforms

Greek riot police fired tear gas at farmers protesting tax and pension reforms in Athens, to prevent a crowd of over 1,000 from forcing its way into the agriculture ministry. Protesters responded by throwing stones and smashing windows. Around 1,500 farmers arrived at the capital from the island of Crete to protest the low prices they are forced to sell their produce at, high production costs, and increases in taxes and social security contributions, the Greek Reporter said. A 40-member delegation headed to the agriculture ministry in central Athens, where it was joined by other farmers seeking to meet Minister of Rural Development and Food Vangelis Apostolou. According to the Greek Reporter, the protesters became infuriated after police blocked the entrance to the building with police buses, telling the farmers that the officials were not available. A number of farmers charged the building and smashed the windows of two parked police buses. Police responded with tear gas, dispersing the crowds into the side streets, Reuters reported. Two protesters were arrested, according to the Greek Reporter. The farmers have been engaged in a long-standing dispute with the left-led government over social security laws which force them to pay on imputed income upfront. Farmers have also been hit hard by higher pension contributions and enhanced production costs, triggered by the removal of tax breaks on key items like fuel and fertilizer.
March 8, 2017

Headline: Madhya Pradesh train blast: ‘Mastermind’ Al-Qasim, a self-proclaimed India ’emir’ of ‘Khorasan group’

ISIS conducted its first successful attack in India. Unidentified militants detonated a device on a train IVO Jabadiya Bheel, Madhya Pradesh, north-central India, wounding ten. The alleged leader of the group, identified as Saifullah, and one other militant engaged in a standoff with police IVO Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh more than 450 miles away. The standoff is still ongoing. ISIS’s network in India has likely strengthened as ISIS re-oriented its fighters to conduct attacks outside of core terrain. The “Khorasan module”, which was behind the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast+ , had more dangerous plan up their sleeve, said an official after the overnight interrogation of the arrested members of the group on Wednesday. The “mastermind” of the train terror strike has been identified as Atif Mujaffar alias Al-Qasim, a well-off engineering student from Aligarh and the self-proclaimed ’emir’ (chief) of the so-called the “Khorasan module” in India. The “Khorasan module”, an Islamic State offshoot based near the Afghan-Pakistan border, is expanding to new areas, recruiting fighters and widening the reach of attacks in the region. Bolstered by fighters from Pakistani and other militant groups and an active social media presence, some officials said the “Khorasan module” of ISIS had become an “umbrella organization” for disparate movements. Officials said Atif had placed the timer pipe bomb on the train at Bhopal railway station injuring 10 passengers, three of them seriously, when the train was reaching Jabdi station in Shajapur district on Tuesday morning around 9.40 am.
March 8, 2017


Headline:    China calls on N Korea to suspend missile and nuclear tests

Headline: North Korea preps new missile test as THAAD arrives in South Korea

China has proposed that North Korea suspend its tests of missile and nuclear technology to “defuse a looming crisis”. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that in exchange, the US and South Korea could halt annual joint military drills, which consistently infuriate the North. The appeal comes after North Korea test-launched four missiles on Monday, breaking international sanctions. In response, the US began rolling out a missile defence system in South Korea. Speaking on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary meeting, Mr Wang said the Korean peninsula was like “two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way”. “Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” he asked. A mutual halt of military operations would be the first step towards easing tensions and reopening negotiations, he said.
March 8, 2017

Headline: Russian Military Expert: ‘We Are Quietly Seeding The U.S. Shoreline With Nuclear Mole Missiles’

On February 28, Russian military expert Viktor Baranetz, a retired colonel and former defense ministry spokesman, published an article in the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda titled “Trump-Pump-Pump And Our Big Bang.” In the article, Baranetz asserted that Russia has asymmetrical responses to the increase in the U.S. military budget. According to Baranetz, Russia is “quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles” that “dig themselves in and ‘sleep’ until they are given the command” to detonate. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed these claims. In response to a journalist’s question on Baranetz’s article, Peskov said: “This sounds strange, to say the least, and so I would suggest that you not take newspaper reports like this seriously.” “The U.S. is the permanent ‘world champion’ in the size of its military budget – almost $600 billion, which is 10 times more than Russias. Even if we add together the military budgets of the top ten countries in the world, they would not reach the American budget! Now it turns out that even that is not enough for Donald Trump. He intends to increase defense expenditure by $54 billion. This money would be enough to maintain five Polish armies. Or 10 Ukrainian ones. “The American public is already grumbling at Trump, who prefers guns to butter. But cunning Trump understands what his trump card is: He is ‘buying’ the support of the army, as well as of military industry corporations. Former Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Army Yuri Baluyevsky is certain that ‘the idea to increase defense expenditure was presented to Trump by the U.S. military, who argue a lot about the power of the Russian army, realizing this is an opportunity to get new money.’ But how will Moscow react to the growing military budget of the U.S.? Baluyevsky answers: ‘Russia will not compete with the U.S. in defense expenditure. We are in a different weight class. For us, the main question is how to ensure Russia’s defense at a lower cost. I am sure that we have already found asymmetrical responses. I don’t see a big problem here.’ “What are these mysterious ‘asymmetrical responses’ that our politicians and generals speak about so often? Maybe it’s a myth or a pretty turn of phrase? No! Our asymmetrical response is nuclear warheads that can modify their course and height so that no computer can calculate their trajectory. Or, for example, the Americans are deploying their tanks, airplanes and special forces battalions along the Russian border. And we are quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles (they dig themselves in and ‘sleep’ until they are given the command)[…] “Oh, it seems I’ve said too much. I should hold my tongue. “In short, we have something to provide an ‘asymmetrical’ (and cheaper) response to the Americans. But if Trump has money to burn, let him spend it on weapons that the U.S. may never even need. And they say Trump is a good businessman…”
March 8, 2017


Headline:        Brazil’s 2-year recession is nation’s worst on record

Brazil is in the midst of a two-year recession, the worst decline on record for the Latin America nation. Brazil’s economy decreased by 3.6 percent in one year after a 3.8 decline in 2015, according to Brazil’s statistics institute, IBGE. Unemployment has increased to 12.6 percent, a 76 percent increase in just two years, and 12.9 million people are now out of work. The nation, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2016, has been faced with a two-fold problem — a fall in commodity prices and a political crisis. Key exports, including oil, soy and metals, have declined. Former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached for illegally manipulating government accounts. Construction company Odebrecht, implicated in the massive government bribery ring, paid the largest anti-corruption fine in history in December — at least $2.6 billion to Brazil, Switzerland and the United States.
March 7, 2017


Headline:   Thousands march against Eighth Amendment in Dublin

As women around the world wore red in solidarity with International Women’s Day, crowds in Ireland donned black and went on strike to protest against the country’s restrictive abortion laws. Traffic ground to a halt in parts of Dublin Wednesday as women and abortion rights activists sang along to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” during a raucous dance party on O’Connell Bridge. After sundown, a second, separate demonstration — also in protest of abortion rights — commenced with Irish police estimating 10,000 to 12,000 people on the capital’s streets. Earlier in the day, demonstrators banged pots and pans and chanted “Same struggle same fight, women’s rights are workers rights.” Others carried signs saying “Get your rosaries off our ovaries” and “Yes I took a holiday for this, I’m that annoyed” as they marched through the streets of the Irish capital. People across the country walked out of their offices and joined a day of action dubbed “Strike 4 Repeal,” urging the government to hold a constitutional referendum to scrap Ireland’s eighth amendment — a measure that places the right to life of an unborn child on equal footing with the right to life of the mother. The amendment, passed in 1983, prohibits abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or ill health of the mother, allowing it to be considered only when a woman’s life is in immediate danger. At least nine Irish women on average traveled to England and Wales each day for abortions in 2015, according to UK government statistics.  While Ireland has voted before on the question of whether abortions should be legal, the restrictions remain in place. But a landmark ruling last June by the UN’s human rights committee called on the government to reform the laws.
March 8, 2017


Headline:     Madagascar Lashed by Rain, Wind from Cyclone Enawo

Headline:     Cyclone Enawo kills at least 3 in Madagascar; 500 homeles

Heavy rains and strong winds from a cyclone hit northeast Madagascar on Tuesday, raising concerns about flooding and landslides. Aid workers were on alert as Cyclone Enawo lashed the coastline. The storm was expected to move south through the island nation for several days, affecting the capital of Antananarivo along the way. Some of the worst weather occurred near Antalaha in the Sava area. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. Enawo is the strongest storm to hit Madagascar since a tropical cyclone named Giovanna in 2012, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The new cyclone is comparable in strength to Cyclone Ivan, which killed nearly 100 people and displaced 190,000 in 2008, the aid organization said in a statement. Northeast Madagascar had two days of heavy rain before the cyclone’s arrival, forcing some communities to evacuate, the statement said. Hundreds of volunteers have deployed in the area to help any families who lack shelter, water and other basic needs.
March 8, 2017

note All earthquakes are instantly posted to the ETRM Facebook page- you do not need to sign up; click the photo below to see the earthquake album


~click the photo to see ALL the maps of the large earthquakes for the current year~

Headline:    What’s shaking? an_eqList & map of USGS Earthquakes~Click the shaking house~

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