Thursday, January 07, 2016
US SEES ASSAD IN POWER TILL AT LEAST 2017.
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast (EU,REVIVED ROME) shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth,(7TH WORLD EMPIRE) which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.(TRADING BLOCKS-10 WORLD REGIONS/TRADE BLOCS)
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings(10 NATIONS-10 WORLD DIVISION WORLD GOVERNMENT) that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.(THE EU (EUROPEAN UNION) TAKES OVER IRAQ WHICH HAS SPLIT INTO 3-SUNNI-KURD-SHIA PARTS-AND THE REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE IS BROUGHT BACK TOGETHER-THE TWO LEGS OF DANIEL WESTERN LEG AND THE ISLAMIC LEG COMBINED AS 1)
EU commission surprised by secrecy of Dutch debate-By EUOBSERVER
6. Jan, 11:13-The European Commission has expressed surprise over the Dutch parliament's decision to hold a debate on Thursday between MPs and the commission, on the priorities of the six-month Dutch presidency, partly behind closed doors. Dutch newspaper Nrc.next reported Wednesday that the commission said "it has nothing to hide."
Poland summons EU official for 'courtesy talks'-By EUOBSERVER
Today, 09:18-The Polish foreign ministry has summoned the EU commission's top official in Warsaw to explain criticism by German commissioner Oettinger of Poland's media reforms. Warsaw has so far failed to answer commission questions on its domestic media and constitutional shake-up, ahead of 13 January talks in Brussels on the situation.
Significant progress' in Cyprus reunification talks-By EUOBSERVER
Today, 09:16-Reunification talks deal for the divided island of Cyprus have made "significant progress", UN peace envoy Espen Barth Eide said on Tuesday after meeting Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias in Athens, AFP reports. Cyprus has been split since 1974 but UN-brokered negotiations resumed in May and talks have intensified lately.
WORLD POWERS IN THE LAST DAYS (END OF AGE OF GRACE NOT THE WORLD)
EUROPEAN UNION-KING OF WEST-DAN 9:26-27,DAN 7:23-24,DAN 11:40,REV 13:1-10
EGYPT-KING OF THE SOUTH-DAN 11:40
RUSSIA-KING OF THE NORTH-EZEK 38:1-2,EZEK 39:1-3
CHINA-KING OF THE EAST-DAN 11:44,REV 9:16,18
VATICAN-RELIGIOUS LEADER-REV 13:11-18,REV 17:4-5,9,18
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.(WORLD TERRORISM,MURDERS)(HAMAS IN HEBREW IS VIOLENCE)
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence (TERRORISM)(HAMAS) through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
2 PETER 2:5
5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
2 PETER 3:7
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you( sudden) terror(ISM), consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her,(HAGAR) Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;(FATHER OF THE ARAB/MUSLIMS) because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he (ISHMAEL-FATHER OF THE ARAB-MUSLIMS) will be a wild (DONKEY-JACKASS) man;(ISLAM IS A FAKE AND DANGEROUS SEX FOR MURDER CULT) his hand will be against every man,(ISLAM HATES EVERYONE) and every man's hand against him;(PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM BEING BEHEADED) and he (ISHMAEL ARAB/MUSLIM) shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.(LITERAL-THE ARABS LIVE WITH THEIR BRETHERN JEWS)
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,(SATAN) son of the morning!(HEBREW-CRECENT MOON-ISLAM) how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I (SATAN HAS EYE TROUBLES) will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.(AND 1/3RD OF THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN FELL WITH SATAN AND BECAME DEMONS)
ISAIAH 33:1,18-19 Woe to thee that spoilest,(destroys) and thou wast not spoiled;(destroyed) and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil,(destroy) thou shalt be spoiled;(destroyed) and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.
18 Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?
19 Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand.
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.(ISLAM MURDERS IN THE NAME OF MOON GOD ALLAH OF ISLAM)
Charlie Hebdo plaque reveals spelling mistake-By EUOBSERVER
Today, 09:17-French president Francois Hollande was embarrassed when he unveiled a memorial plaque bearing the names of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack of 7 January 2015. The name of cartoonist Wolinski was misspelled "Wolinsky" and the plaque had to be hastily covered up.
Sweden keen to slow Europe's refugee 'highway' By Nikolaj Nielsen-euobserver
BRUSSELS, 6. Jan, 17:24-Sweden is demanding measures to block "the highway" of migrants traversing across Europe, as the inflow of refugees to Germany has not slowed since September.Ole Schroder, from the German federal interior ministry, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (6 January) that some 3,200 people seeking international protection were entering Germany on a daily basis in September last year. Schroder, speaking alongside ministers from Sweden and Denmark, and the European commissionner for migration, said "the numbers are not declining in the last days".The three ministers were called to Brussels to discuss recent border clampdowns between Denmark and Sweden and Denmark and Germany, respectively. EU states have been scrambling to respond to the refugee crisis, with temporary border closures and fences becoming a recurrent feature.Fears remain the shutdowns and ID checks will spark a domino effect and possibly lead to the break up of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.Germany imposed border control checks in mid-September. Those checks have since been extended with Sweden this week launching ID checks with Denmark.Denmark, in turn, imposed a 10-day border control with Germany, which is also likely to be extended.Their right to do so'-"What Sweden did and what Denmark did, it was their right to do so," said migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.Denmark's integration minister, Inger Stojberg, for her part, did not rule out extending the 10-day controls and imposing carrier liabilities on transport companies entering from Germany.Carrier liabilities require companies to absorb all passenger identification verification costs to make sure they are allowed to travel."We have not for now introduced carrier liability but of course we are going to monitor the situation hour by hour and if necessary, we will put the carrier liability into force," she said.All three national ministers insisted on the sanctity of the Schengen area but voiced broad criticism against EU states for not following EU asylum rules like registration and relocation."Our problem at the moment in Europe is that we do not have the functional border control system, especially at the Greek-Turkish border," said Schroder.Sweden's migration minister, Morgan Johannsson, said some 115,000 asylum seekers had arrived in the past four months alone. Of those, 26,000 were unaccompanied minors.Last year, Sweden registered 160,000, a per capita ratio higher than anywhere else in the EU. Johannsson said measures were needed "to slow the highway that has now been introduced right through Europe via Greece, the Balkans, Austria, Germany and then up to the northern countries".-External border controls-The European Commission, for its part, is working on a report assessing Greek external border controls.A negative evaluation could lead to a further decision to extend temporary border closures from the maximum six months to up to two years. The Greek evaluation report is still on-going.Meanwhile, asylum seekers fleeing persecution and war continue to arrive in large numbers on the Greek Aegean islands. Over 8,000 arrived in the first four days of this year.The casualties are already mounting, with the first reported death earlier this week, a two-year-old boy who drowned off the Greek island of Agathonisi.The Swiss- based International Organization for Migration on Wednesday said it planned to help authorities in Libya "stability permitting" to better identify and register migrants before they ever reach Europe. It noted similar plans were being explored for Turkey and Macedonia."Some interventions may be desirable before migrants reach Europe", said IOM director general William Lacy Swing.
Sex assaults enflame German migration debate-By Eszter Zalan-euobserver-jan 6,16
BRUSSELS, Today, 09:28-Scores of alleged sexual assaults and robberies against women on New Year’s Eve, reportedly by young men of “Arab and Northern African” appearance, has enflamed Germany’s debate on welcoming migrants.The seemingly coordinated attacks took place at Cologne’s railway station on Thursday (31 December), when gangs of drunken men allegedly emerged from a larger crowd and began the attacks against female revellers.One woman filed a complaint for rape. Another 90 women were either robbed or molested, police say.Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers on Tuesday (5 January) told press the men looked as if they were from "the Arab or North African region" and mostly between 18 and 35 years old, Reuters reports.He made clear there were no individual suspects yet and therefore no firm grounds to speak of their geographic origin.Germany chancellor Angela Merkel called the attacks “disgusting assaults” and urged the assailants to be brought quickly to justice.Around 150 people gathered in front of Cologne's cathedral on Tuesday evening to protest against the events, Reuters adds.-'General suspicion'-Germany’s top politicians tried to calm public tempers by urging people not to condemn immigrants en bloc.But others, who are less supportive of the government’s welcoming policy on migrants, said cultural differences between Germans and immigrants should not be concealed.Europe’s economic power house saw over 1 million migrants arrive in the country last year, mostly people from Middle Eastern countries fleeing war and poverty.Official data shows the crime rate among immigrants is not higher than among native Germans.But there are almost daily attacks on refugee shelters.German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, form Merkel's CDU party, on Tuesday warned that immigrants as a whole should not be placed under “general suspicion”.But he conceded that such a large number of people, apparently with an immigrant background, appear to have committed the Cologne attacks represents a new dimension to the problem.Others in the Bavarian CSU party, the sister party of the CDU, which is critical of her open-door policy, sounded a different note.Stephan Mayer, the CSU interior affairs spokesman, said it would be “fatal” to remain silent when such crimes came from people “to whom we have granted a generous welcome in our country”, according to the Financial Times.The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has gained in polls in part thanks to a campaign against refugees, called for closing of Germany’s borders.“Mrs Merkel, is Germany 'colourful and cosmopolitan' enough for you after the wave of crimes and sexual attacks?” AfD chief Frauke Petry tweeted.Talking to a Cologne newspaper, Petry added, the violence is “the consequence of an uncontrolled migration”.Cologne mayor Henriette Reker, while saying there was no reason to believe the attackers were refugees, pledged for new security measures to prevent such assaults, by increasing police numbers at big events and installing more security cameras.The German city will hold carnival celebrations next month, which attract thousands of tourists.In October, Reker was seriously hurt when she was stabbed during her campaign for the mayoral post due to her support for refugees.
EU to hold emergency Schengen talks By Nikolaj Nielsen-euobserver-jan 6,16
BRUSSELS, Today, 09:28-The European Commission is holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday (6 January) following the snap introduction of border control checks in northern Europe.EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos convened the talks after Sweden introduced ID checks with Denmark, followed by a similar move by the Danes, who began border controls with Germany."The idea of the meeting is to improve the coordination of the countries in question in order to ensure better administration of migratory flows", said EU commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas.Sweden has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU state. In a bid to stem the flow, it imposed identity checks earlier this week on anyone entering the country from Denmark.Swedish police in Skaane say fewer migrants have crossed since the measure was imposed, reports AFP.On Monday, the day the ID checks were launched, they registered 48 arriving migrants compared to the around 200 daily arrivals averaged up until 29 December."We have to be prepared for the fact that people may seek other routes than the (Oresund) bridge or ferries, regardless of whether it is a Danish network behind this or individual initiatives," coast guard spokesman Mattias Lindholm told news agency TT.Local aid organisations and NGOs are warning the controls will create new business opportunities for smuggling gangs and endanger people's lives.The ID checks also ends more than 60 years of travel free restrictions between the two EU states, causing delays and headaches for thousands of commuters crossing the Oresund bridge.Denmark, in response, then introduced a ten-day temporary border control with Germany to stem the flow of refugees heading to Sweden.EU border law allows for such measures but only if there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security.The commission's preliminary assessment suggests the clampdowns appear to be covered by the rules, although when pressed, it was unable to specify how refugees entering Denmark pose a serious threat to public policy or internal security.A commission spokesperson instead noted the legal provisions behind the Danish and Swedish decisions will be discussed at the meeting and further assessed."Member states must respect EU law when they perform such controls and we are currently examining the legal provisions of Sweden", said a commission spokesperson.Denmark's immigration minister Inger Stoejberg, Germany's interior ministry official Ole Schroeder, and Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson, will attend the meeting.The broader EU response to the migration and refugee crisis has been bogged down by administrative delays and political infighting between member states.Earlier this week, the European Commission announced that only around 0.17 percent of asylum seekers arriving in Greece and Italy have been resettled so far in other EU states.The scheme requires EU states to resettle 160,000 arrivals over a two-year period.Launched four months ago, it noted that only 272 Syrians and Eritreans have been transferred.“It really shows a failure of all states to properly commit themselves to this from the start", Steve Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, told the Guardian newspaper.
US raids on illegal migrants alarm Central American nations-AFP By Henry Morales-JAN 6,16-YAHOONEWS
Guatemala City (AFP) - Central American nations Wednesday received some of the first groups of their citizens deported under tough new raids in the United States against illegal immigrants carried out by President Barack Obama's administration.In Guatemala, four mothers and 10 children aged two to 17 sent back walked off a plane that had arrived at a military airbase on the outskirts of the capital.They refused to speak to reporters, with some using sweaters to hide their faces, and authorities took them away, out of sight.One old man outside the base waiting for his niece and her two children in the group, Alfredo Vicente, told AFP about how US immigration officials had knocked at her door in Atlanta asking for her and then arrested her.She had gone to America two years ago after being unable to find work as a teacher, he said, adding that she and her family were indigenous Guatemalans."Here, there are no sources of work and we are asking them not to deport people. They were there working decently," he said.- US election issue -US officials last weekend began the raids that American media reported were to spread nationwide in an unprecedented operation to rid the country of immigrants with court-issued deportation orders against them.The action comes at a politically sensitive time in the United States, which is in feverish campaign mode ahead of a November election to choose a successor to Obama, who is finishing his last term.Immigration is one of the hot-button issues, with candidates from the opposition Republican party arguing that more should be done to bar to undocumented migrants -- especially from Latin America and war-ravaged Syria -- from coming to their country.Donald Trump, a leading wealthy Republican, has been especially vehement on the topic, putting Obama's ruling Democrats under pressure to show they are not weak on immigration. According to the US secretary for Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, 121 adult and child illegal immigrants were rounded up last weekend for deportation, and more would soon be apprehended.Many of the Latinos targeted are from Central America, fleeing rampant violence, corruption and poverty that grip Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.The three countries, collectively known as the Northern Triangle, have some of the highest murder rates in the world.Preliminary figures from police recorded 17,422 homicides in those three countries last year, an 11 percent rise over 2014.The statistics showed El Salvador as the nation with the highest murder rate in the world: 104 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.By way of comparison, America's homicide rate is around four per 100,000.- Tips to citizens -El Salvador's government on Sunday issued tips to its nationals in the US, telling them that immigration agents have to present an order signed by a judge to enter their homes."If you are detained by an immigration agent, remain calm," it said in a statement."If you have immigration papers, present them. If not, ask immediately to contact your attorney or the nearest consulate of El Salvador."In Guatemala, the head of the state CONAMIGUA agency tasked with helping returned citizens, Alejandra Gordillo, said she believed the US operation would bring the level of deportations up to levels seen in years past.Those forced returns hit a record high for Guatemala in 2014, with 51,157 deportees. Last year, the number slumped by 39 percent.For the other two Northern Triangle countries, it was a similar picture of sharp decreases in deportations in 2015. El Salvador recorded a 25 percent drop to 21,752 returnees, while Honduras saw 19,000 of its citizens deported, around half the figure from 2014."We're worried about the deportations because, beyond the human drama it causes, there is a difficulty due to adult unemployment," said Marisol Garcia, who monitors migration issues at the Human Rights Institute of the University of Central America.For young people and families forced back to their homelands, there was also the "exposure to an environment of insecurity that they had fled."- Remittances at risk -Obama's government has sought to help the Northern Triangle address those issues by this year allocating $750 million to improving security and prosperity in the three countries. But whatever results that aid could bring about is years in the future.In the meantime, the stepped-up US focus on deportations could have an immediate deleterious effect on the countries economies, which rely to a big extent on remittances from Central Americans living and working in America.In Guatemala, for instance, they amount to $10 billion annually, equivalent to half of the country's export earnings. In El Salvador, emigrants send back $4.2 billion per year, or 17 percent of gross domestic product. In Honduras, remittances total more than $3 billion."There us a significant number of people working over there.... It's clear that this (deporting them) will have a significant effect," said Aracely Romero, head of Honduras' CAMR center for returnees.According to Guatemala's CONAMIGUA, before the new US operation, typically 85 percent of those deported had been caught trying to clandestinely cross over the border into America.But the raids on homes could change that. "We estimate around 60 percent of the deportees will be those intercepted at the border and the rest will be people living in the United States who are from family units given short-term permission to remain," Gordillo said.
US sees Assad staying in Syria at least until March 2017-Washington’s best-case scenario for political transition does not foresee embattled president immediately stepping down-By Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper January 6, 2016, 9:22 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s best-case scenario for political transition in Syria does not foresee Bashar Assad stepping down as leader of the war-torn country before March 2017, outlasting Barack Obama’s presidency by at least two months, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.An internal timeline prepared for US officials dealing with the Syria crisis sets an unspecified date in March 2017 for Assad to “relinquish” his position as president and for his “inner circle” to depart. That would be more than five years after Obama first called for Assad to leave.The State Department said Wednesday the timeline was prepared late last year as a guide for Secretary of State John Kerry and other US diplomats working on a political transition for Syria.Spokesman John Kirby described the document as a “staff-level think piece” that is “preliminary and pre-decisional” and not “an official position.” He also said it is “not an accurate projection of plans by the international community to effect a political transition in Syria.”However, many of the milestones mentioned in the document comport with the basics of the UN-endorsed plan and other officials said they were an accurate reflection of the administration’s thinking. One official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private document, said the goal for Assad to leave in March 2017 might slip even further.According to the timeline, Syria would hold elections for a new president and parliament in August 2017 — some 19 months from now. In the interim, Syria would be run by a transitional governing body.Countless hurdles lie ahead for implementation of this latest blueprint for ending five years of conflict that has killed more than a quarter-million people, created the worst European refugee crisis since World War II, and allowed the Islamic State group to carve out a would-be caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria.Not the least of those hurdles is the growing rift between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-ruled Iran, which back opposite sides in the Syria conflict and had to be lobbied heavily to agree to meet in Vienna to craft a way forward for the war-torn country. Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric and then severed diplomatic relations with Iran this week after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by a mob protesting the death.It is not yet clear what impact those developments might have on the Syria negotiations.If Saudi-Iranian tensions can be overcome, if peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition go ahead later this month as planned and if they are successful, the biggest challenge to the US timeline is still that no one else has yet agreed to its specifics, particularly those related to Assad’s departure.Assad has steadfastly refused to step down while his nation’s terrorist threat, as he sees it, persists. The timeline offers no explanation for exactly how Assad would leave or what his post-presidential future might hold.And his chief backers, Russia and Iran, have resisted all efforts by outside powers to determine Syria’s future leadership, insisting that is a decision for the Syrian people. Russia and Iran may object to the US timeline’s call for Assad to leave six months before elections would be held.In addition, the Syrian opposition wants Assad out as soon as possible. The opposition along with US allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey could view the American concept as a betrayal.The United States is balancing numerous considerations as it seeks to quell Syria’s violence and advance several strategic objectives. Its top priority now is rooting out the Islamic State from its headquarters in northern Syria.Still, Obama and other US officials promised for years to end the Assad family’s 45-year-grip on Syria, arguing that a leader who uses barrel bombs and poison gas on his own people has lost legitimacy. Ridding Syria of Assad could also strip Iran of its foothold in the heart of the Arab world and dramatically change the security equation for neighbors such as Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.In recent months, Washington and its allies in European capitals have retreated from demands that Assad leave power immediately as the Islamic State gained territory in the region and the priority shifted to defeating the militant group.
Qatar recalls ambassador to Iran amid Saudi execution row-Doha is the latest Gulf government to pull its envoy after protesters attack Islamic kingdom’s embassy in Tehran-By AFP January 6, 2016, 10:46 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
DOHA — Qatar has pulled its ambassador to Iran following an attack on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran, state media in Doha said Wednesday.“Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled today Qatar’s ambassador to Tehran following the attacks on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and general consulate in Mashhad,” said foreign ministry director, Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Hamar, quoted by the Qatar News Agency.The response by Doha is similar to action taken by other countries in the Gulf following the attack on the Saudi missions, carried out by protesters angry at Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have broken off diplomatic ties with Iran in response and Kuwait has recalled its ambassador.
Iran warns Saudi to stop 'adding fuel to fire'-AFP By Arthur MacMillan-JAN 6,16-YAHOONEWS
Tehran (AFP) - Iran warned Saudi Arabia Wednesday to stop working against it as their diplomatic crisis intensified despite efforts to defuse a row that has raised fears of greater regional instability.As its diplomats arrived home after being told to leave by Saudi Arabia, Shiite-dominated Iran fired the latest verbal salvo in a dispute that has seen Riyadh and some Sunni Arab allies cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.At a press conference in the capital, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Riyadh must end prolonged efforts to confront Iran.Citing longstanding differences that became a full-blown split after Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric and activist Nimr al-Nimr, Zarif said the Sunni-ruled kingdom had sought systematically to inflict damage."For the past two-and-a-half years, Saudi Arabia has opposed Iran's diplomacy," he said at the press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari."Saudi Arabia has moved against our efforts and, unfortunately, they opposed the nuclear agreement," Zarif said, also accusing Riyadh of "taking measures against the Iranian people" through its efforts to keep oil prices low."This trend of creating tension must stop. We need to stand united... and stop those who are adding fuel to the fire," he added.The spike in tensions comes after Iran last year secured a historic nuclear deal with world powers led by the United States, causing major concern in longtime US ally Riyadh.That deal, when finally implemented, will end sanctions on Iran's oil and gas industry and could see the Islamic republic challenge Saudi Arabia's role as the Middle East's dominant energy and economic power.- Saudi cuts oil price -Oil prices have fallen by more than 60 percent since mid-2014 as OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia refuses to lower production in a bid to push competitors out of the market, hurting the income of other producers, including Iran.On Tuesday, Riyadh cut the February price of its export oil to Europe in another move to win market share.Nimr's death sparked demonstrations in many countries including Iran, where protesters stormed and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran as well as the kingdom's consulate in second city Mashhad.Riyadh cut ties with Tehran in response and was joined by some of its Sunni Arab allies including Bahrain and Sudan. The United Arab Emirates also downgraded relations with Iran and Kuwait recalled its ambassador.Djibouti, the tiny Horn of Africa nation, said Wednesday it too had broken diplomatic ties with Tehran.And Qatar recalled its ambassador while Jordan summoned Tehran's envoy to protest the attacks on Saudi missions.Staff at Iran's embassy in Riyadh and its consulate in Jeddah flew home Wednesday, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.The dispute has raised fears of an increase in sectarian tensions in the Middle East that could derail efforts to resolve pressing issues including the wars in Syria and Yemen.The United Nations and Western governments have expressed deep concern, urging both sides to reduce tensions.US Secretary of State John Kerry has made repeated calls to both Iranian and Saudi leaders urging calm.Saudi Arabia and Iran are on opposing sides in some of the Middle East's worst conflicts.In Syria, Iran is supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad against rebel groups, some backed by Saudi Arabia.And in Yemen, Riyadh is leading a military intervention against Iran-backed Shiite rebels who have seized control of large parts of the country.- Iran-linked 'terror' cell -Within hours of the embassy attack, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called the violence "totally unjustified" but accused Saudi Arabia Tuesday of focusing attention on the incident to "cover its crime" of executing Nimr.Zarif reiterated that the embassy's ransacking had no official blessing. "All Iranian officials condemn it," he said.Rouhani wrote to Iran's judiciary chief Wednesday urging a quick and conclusive case against 50 persons accused of involvement in the embassy attack.Iraq's Jaafari, who was to also hold talks with Rouhani, said Baghdad was seeking a potential diplomatic role to help resolve the crisis and echoed the concerns about sectarianism."I have spoken to the foreign ministers of some of the Arab countries to reduce the consequences of this issue and prevent enemies from dragging the region into a war that can have no winners," Jaafari said.Shiite-majority Iraq has close ties with Tehran.About 2,000 members and supporters of powerful Iraqi Shiite militias demonstrated in Baghdad Wednesday against Nimr's execution. In a further sign of tensions, Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority Bahrain said it had dismantled an Iran-linked "terror" cell that was planning attacks in the kingdom.The cell was allegedly linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Lebanon's Tehran-backed Hezbollah militia and planning a "series of dangerous bombings" on the tiny Gulf kingdom, the interior ministry said.Nimr, one of 47 men executed Saturday, was a driving force behind 2011 anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.He was arrested in 2012 after calling for two governorates to be separated from the kingdom.
After 608 days, the Benghazi panel by the numbers-Meredith Shiner-Political correspondent-January 6, 2016-YAHOONEWS
Democrats have long charged that the special committee established by House Republicans to investigate the 2012 attacks on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was designed to harm the party’s frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her 2016 bid for the White House.Now that 2016 has arrived, the Benghazi committee is back to work this week, scheduled to interview former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus behind closed doors Wednesday and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Friday.To mark the occasion, the select committee’s Democrats, led by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, are seeking to call attention to the length of the investigation (608 days and counting), its $5.5 million cost, and what Cummings and his colleagues regard as its partisanship and lack of concrete results — compared, say, to the 9/11 Commission, which took less time for a vastly more complicated investigation, and handled it in a bipartisan fashion.The Benghazi committee, to date, has held four public hearings, compared to 19 for the 9/11 investigators. The 9/11 Commission interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses in private and had 160 public witnesses testify. The Benghazi committee has privately interviewed 62 witnesses, in addition to the seven witnesses who have publicly testified before the panel — including Clinton herself, for 11 hours in October. The 9/11 Commission had a joint, bipartisan staff, which issued 13 subpoenas; the Benghazi committee has separate Republican and Democratic staffs, and all 11 of its subpoenas came from the Republican side, with no input from the Democratic minority.The Democratic strategy is to keep challenging the process of the panel as a means to discredit whatever final report the Benghazi committee produces, if it produces one at all. The committee has an unlimited budget and no time limit to complete its work, except the expiration of this Congress. In 2015, Republicans were content to silently approve the panel’s reauthorization in 2015 without a recorded vote.“The Select Committee’s investigation of the Benghazi attacks has been widely condemned as hyper-partisan and ineffective, and it stands in stark contrast to the bipartisan investigation and report issued by the 9/11 Commission,” said Cummings, in a statement. “Instead of following the bipartisan model set by the 9/11 Commission, which brought our entire nation together after we were attacked by terrorists, Republicans created a highly partisan Select Committee with an unlimited budget to attack their political opponents. Republicans continue to drag out this political charade closer to the 2016 presidential election, and the American taxpayers continue to pay the price.”Nine previous reports on the Benghazi attacks, including one each by the Republican-led House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, have debunked most of the conspiracy theories surrounding the events that day at the consulate and the administration’s response to the attacks. Before Petraeus and Panetta were called, most of the Benghazi committee’s high-profile interviews were with State Department employees and top Hillary Clinton aides and allies, whereas other reports looked more comprehensively at the Department of Defense and CIA in addition to State.Democrats, from the panel’s inception, have accused Republicans of refusing to define the scope of the investigation, and the House GOP has not announced a target date by which they would like Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to complete his work. Meanwhile, new Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., has said repeatedly that he wants his conference’s focus in 2016 to be on ideas and policy. If he means it, then the Benghazi committee — which Ryan’s No. 2, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), insinuated had the goal of damaging Clinton’s reputation when he was running for the top job — would seem out of step with that agenda.
Baltimore judge orders officer to testify in second Gray death trial-Reuters By Donna Owens- JAN 6,16-YAHOONEWS
BALTIMORE (Reuters) - A Maryland judge on Wednesday ordered a Baltimore police officer to testify against other officers charged in the death of detainee Freddie Gray.A lawyer for the officer, William Porter, said he would seek an appeals court injunction to block Porter from testifying against Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. and Sergeant Alicia White.Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams said Porter, whose own trial ended in a hung jury last month, could be compelled to take the stand since state prosecutors had offered him immunity in exchange for testifying.Williams said during a pre-trial hearing that Porter's "extremely important testimony is needed in the Goodson and White cases."Goodson is the second of six officers scheduled to stand trial for Gray's death in April and faces the most serious charge, second-degree depraved-heart murder. The trial is set to begin on Monday with jury selection.The 46-year-old officer, who like Gray is black, was the driver of the van where Gray, who was arrested after fleeing police, sustained the broken neck that killed him.The majority black city of 620,000 people exploded in arson and rioting after Gray's funeral. The unrest followed other police killings of black men in cities including New York and Ferguson, Missouri.Porter's own trial on involuntary manslaughter and other charges ended in a mistrial last month and a retrial is set for June.Williams issued his order after denying a defense motion to quash a subpoena forcing Porter to testify. Porter took the stand to say that he would invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination if called to testify.Porter's lawyers said that if he is forced to testify, material could emerge that could be used against him in retrial.Doug Colbert, a University of Maryland law professor, said of Williams' decision, "This is a straightforward ruling. The government has the power to compel testimony if they offer immunity."Goodson faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge. In Maryland, "depraved-heart" murder is a killing done while acting with extreme disregard for human life.He also is accused of manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Williams also denied a request from Goodson's lawyers to move the trial out of the city due to the intense publicity surrounding the case.(Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish)
Oregon occupiers: Not ready to go home quite yet-Reuters By Jonathan Allen and Jim Urquhart- JAN 6,16-YAHOONEWS
BURNS, Ore. (Reuters) - The leader of a group of armed men who took over a U.S. wildlife refuge in remote southeastern Oregon said on Wednesday they know they will have to go home, but they want results from their protest and feel it is not "quite time yet."The takeover that began on Saturday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles (48 km) south of the small town of Burns, is the latest skirmish in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of land and resources in the U.S. West.Launched following a bigger demonstration in support of two local imprisoned ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven, the occupation has been marked by daily media briefings from the protesters, and by federal law enforcement agents keeping watch from a distance."There is a time to go home, we recognize that. We don't feel it's quite time yet," protest leader Ammon Bundy told a news conference at the refuge on Wednesday."We feel like we need to make sure the Hammonds are out of prison, or well on their way. We need to make sure there is some teeth in these land transfers. And also that those who have committed crimes, those are exposed as well."Bundy said the group was compiling evidence to clear the Hammonds, who this week began longer prison terms for setting fires that spread to federal land. Bundy said witnesses told them the blazes were started by federal agents."We believe we have enough of this to exonerate the Hammonds," he said. "If that is the only thing that is accomplished, then it will be well worth our effort."Many residents of Burns see the occupation as the work of outsiders, and the Hammonds' lawyers have sought to dissociate themselves from the protesters.Bundy is the son of a Nevada rancher who along with a large group of armed men stared down federal agents in 2014 when they tried to seize his cattle over unpaid grazing fees.Asked by reporters what would need to happen for his group to quit the refuge, Bundy said: "Enough is enough when there's actual action that is happening, and when things are actually transpiring, and we'll know when that happens."'GO HOME'-Harney County Sheriff David Ward told a packed community meeting in Burns on Wednesday that the protesters had hijacked a peaceful rally and needed to leave now."Go home. Work your differences with whoever out through the appropriate channels, and let us get back to our lives as we live them here," Ward said to applause."I don't want to see a single person hurt. ... In fact, when I wake up tomorrow, I want to have pleasant thoughts about you - that you did the right thing, that you packed your bags, and you went home."Neither protesters nor authorities have said how many people are involved in the occupation. About a dozen protesters have been visible at the site. They have not been showing weapons in recent days.U.S. Representative Greg Walden, whose congressional district includes Burns and Malheur, said on Wednesday he had been on the phone to the county judge and local ranchers until late on Tuesday night."Americans have the right to protest. It should not take this form. And it is time for those who are there to depart. They've made their case," the Republican congressman told reporters in Washington. He added that he viewed the five-year sentence imposed on the Hammonds as excessive.The reactions in Burns, a town of 3,000 people about 280 miles (450 km) southeast of Portland, have included sympathy for the well-known Hammonds, suspicion of the federal government's motives, and criticism of the occupiers.At a news conference on Wednesday, leaders of the Burns Paiute Tribe, whose reservation is not far from the wildlife refuge, said it was time for the protesters to say good-bye."We as Harney County residents don't need some clown to come in here and stand up for us," said the Native American tribal council's sergeant at arms, Jarvis Kennedy.The Paiute have their own disputes over land and water with U.S. government agencies. In 2014, the federal government owned 47 percent of all land in 11 states comprising the U.S. West, according to Congressional Research Service data, or more than 353 million acres (143 million hectares). That compared with just 4 percent in the rest of the country, not including Alaska.But Kennedy mocked the protesters' assertions they want to help the community, while local children stayed home because schools were closed over concerns about possible violence."They're scaring our people," Kennedy said. "They need to get out of here."(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Jim Urquhart; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Richard Cowan in Washington; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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