Tuesday, December 13, 2016
FOUR EU STATES AMOUNG THE WORLDS WORST TAX HAVENS.
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.(EITHER THE EUROPEAN UNION DICTATOR BOOTS 3 COUNTRIES FROM THE EU OR THE DICTATOR TAKES OVER THE WORLD ECONOMY BY CONTROLLING 3 WORLD TRADE BLOCS)
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
Four EU states among world's worst tax havens By Nikolaj Nielsen-DEC 12,16-EUOBSERVER
BRUSSELS, Today, 09:26-Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands are listed among the top 15 global corporate tax havens, according to a new report from aid agency Oxfam.The report out on Monday (12 December) claims that the member states contribute to helping big businesses dodge tax on a massive scale, despite EU and other efforts to crack down on the practice.Bermuda tops the list of the 15 followed by the Cayman Islands and the Netherlands. Ireland ranks 6, followed by Luxembourg (7) and Cyprus (10). The British Virgin islands, Jersey and the Bahamas are also listed.The ranking comes ahead of a court case in Luxembourg on Monday where former employees of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who exposed how firms collude with governments to pay less tax, are appealing against their convictions.The acquittal of French journalist Edouard Perrin, who first exposed the scandal, is also being challenged by the Luxembourg's public prosecutor.Meanwhile, EU governments continue to use elaborate schemes to provide firms with preferential tax treatments in an effort to attract their business and investments.But those that benefit are most often the owners and shareholders at the expense of national budgets.The Netherlands and Luxembourg use a combination of tax incentives and schemes to shift profits elsewhere. Cyprus and Ireland have similar strategies but also engage in low corporate tax rates.The OECD, a Paris-based club of industrialized nations, had launched efforts to curb such schemes, but the plans appear to have backfired as governments race to lower corporate tax rates.One plan, also taken up by the G20, has attempted to allow governments to tax profits where those profits have been made. Known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative, the move has instead resulted in states reducing corporate tax rates."Since the BEPS agreement several European countries have announced or made plans to cut corporate tax rates including the UK, Hungary, Belgium, and Luxembourg," notes the report.But such efforts may also be breaking the rules if abused.Belgium earlier this year was ordered by the EU commission to recover hundreds of millions of euros after it reduced the corporate tax base of some companies using an "excess profit" tax scheme.Another report last week by the Brussels-based European Network on Debt and Development had found that secret tax deals between EU governments and multinational corporations had increased dramatically following the 2014 media revelations that Luxembourg helped firms avoid paying billions in taxes.Other EU led efforts to increase transparency and clamp down on the practice may also contain loopholes.Among the more extreme is an EU attempt to draw up a blacklist of tax havens. Proposed earlier this year by the EU commission, the list won't include any EU member state. Switzerland and the United States probably won't be listed either.The EU commission had also floated a plan in April that would require multinationals to publish information on taxes paid where they operate.But the plan only requires the firms to publish the financial data of their operations within the EU and only covers those that earn some €750 million per year.
Looking ahead to Trump presidency, Netanyahu refocusses on Iran-[Reuters]-By Jeffrey Heller-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu has resumed his attacks on a nuclear deal with Iran, seeking Donald Trump's help to smash a cornerstone of the Obama administration's foreign policy legacy.Following up on remarks he made this month to a Washington think tank, the conservative Israeli prime minister said on CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday "there are ways, various ways of undoing" last year's accord.The Republican president-elect is also no fan of the deal between Iran and six world powers under which Tehran agreed to suspend a suspected drive to develop atomic weapons in return for a lifting of most sanctions against it.During the U.S. election campaign, Trump called the pact - against which Netanyahu lobbied long and hard - a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated". But he has also said it would be hard to overturn an agreement enshrined in a U.N. resolution.Asked if he had any ideas on how to unravel the deal, Netanyahu said on the television program: "Yeah, I have about five things in my mind". Pressed for specifics, he said: "I'll talk about it with President Trump."That discussion will likely take place soon after Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration. Shortly after the election, Netanyahu said he and Trump had agreed to meet at the first opportunity.Scrapping the deal would, at the very least, be complicated."It's difficult to see the advantage for the U.S. in abrogating the deal at this stage," said Jacob Parakilas, an expert on U.S. foreign policy at Chatham House, a London-based think tank."It would be nearly impossible to convince Europe, Russia and China to restore their sanctions on Iran in the absence of clear evidence of Iranian violations of the deal. So any sanctions the U.S. restored would have much less impact on the Iranian economy," he said.Yair Lapid, an Israeli opposition leader, said he doubted whether the deal could be undone given "the Chinese, Russians and Europeans are already in Iran signing deals", and he said any discussion on it should take place "behind closed doors".In the run-up to Trump's inauguration, Netanyahu has been laying the groundwork for a closer relationship with Trump.The two met in September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, when the Israeli leader also held talks with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. A week after the election, Netanyahu sent his U.S. ambassador, Ron Dermer, to see the president-elect and his transition team.Dermer hailed Trump as "a true friend of Israel".-CHEMISTRY-Netanyahu has used similar language to describe Obama, but the superlatives have done little to mask a lack of personal chemistry and a relationship strained by policy differences over Iran and Jewish settlement on occupied land.In recent months, however, Netanyahu had largely refrained from attacking the Iran deal as Israel finalised a 10-year, $38 billion military aid package with the Obama administration.Nearly a year ago, the commander of Israel's armed forces, Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot, offered a nuanced view of a deal that Netanyahu had dubbed a historic mistake. The agreement, Eisenkot said in a speech, presented many risks but also "many opportunities".Trump, himself, could also face opposition from within his new administration to cancelling the Iran deal.James Mattis, the former general who Trump said he intends to nominate as secretary of defence, has called for strict enforcement of the agreement but stopped short of calling for its abrogation."It may be possible in time to build up support for a multilateral restoration of sanctions," Parakilas said. "But at the moment that's just not really the case - and ending U.S. participation in the deal right now would make it more, not less, difficult."Last year, before the agreement was signed, Netanyahu angered the White House by addressing the U.S. Congress, where he argued that the deal would pave Iran's path to nuclear arms.Three years earlier, he famously held up a cartoon bomb at the United Nations, drawing a red line just below a label reading "final stage" to a nuclear device.But Netanyahu seemed to backtrack in the interview.Asked if Iran, which has denied seeking atomic weapons, would move quickly towards a bomb if the agreement was undone, Netanyahu said that was not the case prior to its signing."I think Iran didn't rush to the bomb before there was a deal," he said."Really?" his questioner asked."No, because they were afraid of retribution," Netanyahu said.(Editing by Luke Baker and Alison Williams)
25 And there shall be signs in the sun,(HEATING UP-SOLAR ECLIPSES) and in the moon,(MAN ON MOON-LUNAR ECLIPSES) and in the stars;(ASTEROIDS ETC) and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear,(TORNADOES,HURRICANES,STORMS) and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:(DESTRUCTION) for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.(FROM QUAKES,NUKES ETC)
Windsor plows hit residential streets after record snowfall-[CBC]-YAHOONEWS-December 12, 2016
With the city's main roadways cleared after a record-setting snowfall, Windsor crews started plowing residential streets Monday morning.Windsor was hit with a single-day record snowfall Sunday that cancelled several flights to and from the Windsor International Airport.School buses were cancelled throughout Essex County Monday.City officials said it could take up to 24 hours to clear all streets after a snow storm.
Ottawa weather forecast calls for up to 20 cm of snow-[CBC]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
It's a winter wonderland on Monday morning in Ottawa, Gatineau and the surrounding areas.Between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow are expected to fall by Monday afternoon, according to Environment Canada. CBC Ottawa climatologist Ian Black says that could leave about 20 cm of snow in total.Monday should also see an east wind at 20 kilometres per hour becoming southwest in the afternoon as the high reaches zero C.Tonight brings a 40 per cent chance of more snow with a west wind gusting from 20 to 40 km/h as low hits –9 C.Tuesday could see a little sun mixed in the clouds, along with a 30 per cent chance of flurries and a southwest wind gusting from 20 to 40 km/h near noon. The high should be –1 C.There is also a chance of snow on Wednesday and Thursday as the temperature plummets. The high on Friday is currently set at –16 C.
Some school bus services cancelled in Greater Toronto Area-[CBC]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
Some school bus services are cancelled in the Greater Toronto Area after several centimetres of snow fell overnight.Schools in the following boards are open and buses are running:- The Toronto District School Board.- Toronto Catholic District School Board.- York District School Board.- York Catholic District School Board.- Peel District School Board.- Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.All of those boards issued warnings about delays, however..Here the announced cancellations so far:- Halton District and Halton Catholic District School Boards: Buses are cancelled on and north of Steeles Avenue but schools are open.- Durham District School Board: Buses are cancelled for Brock, Uxbridge and Scugog zones. Brookville, Limehouse, Pineview, Stewarttown schools are closed on Monday.
Snow, cold to sweep across U.S. Northeast ahead of arctic blast-[Reuters]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
(Reuters) - A snowstorm that pummeled the Midwest and grounded hundreds of flights will sweep across the U.S. Northeast on Monday, creating tough travel conditions ahead of the season's first arctic blast, forecasters said.The cold front that dumped more than 10 inches (25 cm) of snow on northern Illinois has prompted winter storm warnings and advisories as it also brings sleet and rain to New England and parts of the Middle Atlantic states, the National Weather Service said.Accuweather, a private forecaster, said three to six inches (7.5 to 15 cm) of snow was expected to snarl travel in northern New York and New England. Local accumulations could be higher.Conditions were expected to improve late on Monday as the system moves through the region. FlightAware, which tracks air travel, said 190 U.S. flights had been canceled on Monday after 1,800 were grounded on Sunday, mostly at Chicago's two main airports.The National Weather Service said another arctic air mass would spread over the northern Great Plains and Midwest in the next couple of days and then head east.In the Northeast, "the cold weather will be more significant as we get into Thursday," weather service meteorologist Brian Hurley said.Accuweather said high temperatures would be in the single digits F (-17 to -12 C) to just below zero F (-18 C) from the Dakotas through Minnesota and Wisconsin as the cold air grips the region.(Reporting By Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Meredith Mazzilli)
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.
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)
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)
Egypt's Sisi says suicide bomber behind church attack, four captured-[Reuters]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that a suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed 24 people at Cairo's main cathedral and security forces had arrested three men and a woman in connection with the bombing.Speaking at a state funeral for the victims, Sisi identified the suicide bomber as 22-year-old Shafik Mahmoud Mohamed Mostafa. He said security forces were seeking another two fugitives believed to be involved in the attack.He called for tighter laws to help deter future attacks.(Reporting by Lin Noueihed and Ali Abdelaty, editing by Eric Knecht)
Wild adventure' starts anew as agencies brace for hundreds more Syrian refugees-[CBC]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
It has been a year since Canada started getting an unprecedented influx of Syrian refugees, with more than 2,000 settling in Calgary alone. This is Part 1 in a five-part series looking at how those refugees are doing a year in and the effects of that influx on their support agencies.Settlement agencies in Alberta are bracing for up to 700 more Syrian refugees — while still struggling to cope with a surge of 4,200 who arrived in the first few months of the year.Calgary alone has welcomed 2,400 Syrian refugees with more to come."We don't want 2,000 people in three months — nobody wants that. This is chaos, it's not good," says Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, one of the lead settlement agencies in Calgary.Canada immigration officials say up to 500 government-assisted refugees could arrive in Alberta by the end of the month, and another 200 privately-sponsored refugees early next year.Nancy Caron, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, says the number of privately-sponsored refugees is approximate, and could change depending on a number of factors, including when people are available to travel."Those who aren't able to travel before the end of year will arrive in 2017," Caron wrote in an email to CBC News."It's a little bit of a struggle to keep our head above water," says Cesar Suva, a program manager for the Calgary Immigrant Education Society.Suva put together a program called Empowering Syrian Refugees, which received $56,000 from the city of Calgary's Emergency Resiliency Fund.Suva says the goal is to teach refugees the basics, including how to find a doctor or open a bank account."It could determine in fact whether this family is able to get a footing in the new community, or becoming economically or socially isolated," says Suva.-'Wild adventure' -The surge of Syrian refugees is the largest resettlement of refugees in Canada in a generation, not seen since the arrival of the 60,000 so-called 'Boat People' who came from Vietnam in 1979-80."[The year] 2016 has absolutely been a wild adventure for our clinic," says Cheryl San Juan, the primary care manager of the Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic in northeast Calgary. "It was really all hands on deck," says San Juan.The clinic offers newcomers a variety of services from physicians and specialists — including pediatricians and obstetricians, gynecologists, nurses, social workers, dieticians and mental health therapists.One of the emerging issues health care providers are dealing with is the cultural barrier among Muslim women, who are reluctant to speak to practitioners, especially male health care providers, on their own.The clinic is looking at bringing in more female mental health therapists."The women refugees that we see coming in are experiencing that culture shift," says San Juan. She says clinic staff are trying to educate and empower them "to find their voice as a woman."-'Awful state' -The clinic is also looking at forming a refugee support group for men who are dealing with trauma, related to torture and other atrocities they endured during the conflict."I can name you 20 illnesses that are completely [untreated] of patients I've seen that we're trying to deal with now," says Dr. Gabriel Fabreau who treats patients at the Refugee Health Clinic.Dr. Fabreau says on the mental health side, some patients suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and major depression."Up to 30 per cent of all refugees, five years after arrival, are still suffering from mental illness," says Fabreau, who referenced medical studies done on the settlement of refugees.Birjandian, a former refugee himself, says the settlement process will take time and it's not an easy transition.He is proud of Calgarians' response to help the refugees. He says more private sponsors stepped forward on a per capita basis than any other city in Canada."We don't make decisions about who comes to Calgary, this is a government decision, however when they come here we have to do the best job possible," he said.
Russia: U.S. suspension of operations in Syria's Raqqa allowed Islamic State to take Palmyra-[Reuters]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States' decision to suspend active operations in Syria's Raqqa had allowed Islamic State militants to redeploy to the ancient city of Palmyra, RIA news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; editing by Christian Lowe)
Opinion-EU migration policy is cruel and nonsensical By Iverna McGowan-DEC 12,16-EUOBSERVER
Brussels, Today, 11:05-Perhaps no single person embodies all that’s wrong with current EU migration policies than Noori, a Syrian refugee being held in a police station on the Greek Island of Lesbos, waiting anxiously to hear if he will be sent to Turkey.If he is returned another refugee would gain a place in Europe, and Turkey receives money for keeping the bulk of refugees there and is promised a host of other measures in exchange.This is the EU Turkey deal. Noori risks being used as human currency, in the EU’s foreign policy exchange where rights are traded in for short-sighted political gains.The trend in mobilising EU foreign policy tools towards curbing migration has taken off at break-neck speed, and the European Council this week looks set to further instil it in polic. As well as the EU-Turkey Statement in March, there has been the Joint Way Forward with Afghanistan as well as “migration compacts” between the EU and Lebanon and Jordan. Other agreements are being negotiated with Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Ethiopia and Senegal.While they differ in substance, the basis is always the same; the EU will provide financial, development assistance and trade ties so long as the country agrees to prevent irregular migration and facilitate the return of people who have tried to seek asylum or a better life in Europe.Officially the EU and member states deny any causal link between agreeing big bucks to be handed over for development and other assistance and the coincidental signing of migration agreements within days or weeks of said financial promises. The truth of the matter however is obvious to everyone.A young Afghan man living in appalling conditions at Moria camp who I met recently on Lesbos asked me with despair in his eyes: “Is it true my government took money from the EU so they could have an excuse to send me back?”-Shirking responsibility-We must be clear and honest about the fact that the EU is not trying to externalise responsibility for refugees because it has reached capacity. Having made it to Europe, Noori is in a minority. Of the top 10 countries hosting refugees globally not one is an EU member state.The facts and figures betray an awkward truth that in the face of one of the world’s worst refugee crises the EU and its member states are engaging in a policy of responsibility-shirking, not sharing.In the broader frame of EU foreign policy, these policies also create an uneasy incoherence. EU foreign ministers’ recent words that “the protection of civilians in Syria must be a priority for the international community” ring hollow for Syrians like Noori on Lesbos when set against the cruel reality of EU policies.As bombs rain on Aleppo more people will inevitably flee. EU leaders have wilfully ignored the impact of the deal on the Syria-Turkey border, where Turkey is patrolling and essentially blocking people in Syria.Amnesty International and other independent organisations documented repeatedly cases where refugees were being pushed back or being shot at the border. Those who manage to cross the border will add to a number of refugees that Turkey already cannot cope with.EU countries cannot credibly on the one hand decry the horrors of the crimes of Aleppo and on the other erect barriers that prevent the victims of those crimes, men women and children, from their right to international protection.At a bare minimum additional resettlement places should be offered and all returns of refugees back to Turkey halted.-EU implicating itself-The EU and member states are lining up a number of rights violating states for similar type agreements. There is an inherent risk in such an endeavour.Take the case of Sudan, where according to Sudanese media the Sudanese government have tasked the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) notorious for serious human rights abuses, with the implementation of aspects of migration control linked to the Khartoum process (EU-Horn of Africa process on migration).While the EU may not fund Sudan’s security forces directly, the EU cannot evade the fact that action by Sudan to curb irregular migration carries an extremely high risk of rights violations being perpetrated against migrants and refugees.Any partnership on migration control would thus provide funding and legitimacy to a context where serious abuses towards migrants and refugees are almost inevitable.Sudan is not the only country where such concerns would lie.This year a joint EU-Nigeria statement on justice issues acknowledged serious human rights violations by Nigerian security forces. A recent European Parliament resolution pointed to other concerns in Nigeria including torture.For many years the EU has been investing in justice reform in the country. Now even having gone on public record on the challenges faced, the EU stands ready to enlist Nigeria as another gate-keeper.Tasking a country with migration control that does not have an effective asylum system but does have one of the highest levels of internally displaced people (over 2 million) and a dubious record on rights violations risk implicating the EU and its member states as complicit in a range of serious and ongoing human rights violations.Prioritising migration cooperation over longer-term objectives such as respect for human rights risks aggravating poverty, conflict and other things that cause people to leave their homes, and in a world where even a bloc as wealthy as the EU undermines migrant and refugee rights, we will see more conflict, more instability and more people on the move.Some of the EU’s top politicians claim that “resources for returns” is about preventing people from making dangerous journeys and breaking smuggling networks. In reality it’s the lack of safe regular channels that drives people to take such dangerous routes in the first place.If the true objective were a humanitarian one, resettlement, humanitarian visas, legal migration and access to asylum at the EU’s land borders would not only be much more effective and humane, but frankly a more responsible and strategic manner to do so.Iverna McGowan is Amnesty International EU director
Syrian army in 'final stages' of Aleppo offensive-[Reuters]-By Laila Bassam and Lisa Barrington-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian army and its allies are in the "final stages" of recapturing Aleppo after a sudden advance that has pushed rebels to the brink of collapse in an ever-shrinking enclave, a Syrian general said on Monday.A Reuters journalist in the government-held zone said the bombardment of rebel areas of the city had continued non-stop overnight, and a civilian trapped there described the situation as resembling "Doomsday"."The battle in eastern Aleppo should end quickly. They (rebels) don't have much time. They either have to surrender or die," Lieutenant General Zaid al-Saleh, head of the government's Aleppo security committee, told reporters in the recaptured Sheikh Saeed district of the city.Rebels withdrew from all districts on the east side of the Aleppo river after losing Sheikh Saeed in the south of their pocket in overnight fighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.It meant their rapidly diminishing enclave had halved in only a few hours and Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman described the battle for Aleppo as having reached its end."The situation is extremely difficult today," said Zakaria Malahifji of the Fastaqim rebel group fighting in Aleppo.An official from Jabha Shamiya, a rebel faction that is also present in Aleppo, said the insurgents might make a new stand along the west bank of the river."It is expected there will be a new front line," said the official, who is based in Turkey.The rebels' sudden retreat represented a "big collapse in terrorist morale", a Syrian military source said.Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, is now close to taking back full control of Aleppo, which was Syria's most populous city before the war and would be his greatest prize so far after nearly six years of conflict.The Russian Defence Ministry said that since the start of the Aleppo battle, more than 2,200 rebels had surrendered and 100,000 civilians had left areas of the city that were controlled by militants."People run from one shelling to another to escape death and just to save their souls ... It's doomsday in Aleppo, yes doomsday in Aleppo," said Abu Amer Iqab, a former government employee in the Sukkari district in the heart of the rebel enclave.State television footage from Saliheen, one of the districts that had just fallen to the army, showed mounds of rubble and half-collapsed buildings, with bodies still lying on the ground and a few bewildered civilians carrying children or suitcases.-REBELS-While Aleppo's fall would deal a stunning blow to rebels trying to remove Assad from power, he would still be far from restoring control across Syria. Swathes of the country remain in rebel hands, and on Sunday Islamic State retook Palmyra.Tens of thousands of civilians remain in rebel-held areas, hemmed in by ever-changing front lines, pounded by air strikes and shelling, and without basic supplies, according to the Observatory, a British-based monitoring group.In the Sheikh Saeed district, an elderly couple stood lamenting their fate."May every son return to his mother. I have suffered that loss. May other women not endure the same," said the woman, her arms raised to the sky. "I have lost my three children. Two died in battle and the third is kidnapped," she added, as an army officer attempted to calm her.Rebel groups in Aleppo received a U.S.-Russian proposal on Sunday for a withdrawal of fighters and civilians from the city's opposition areas, but Moscow said no agreement had been reached yet in talks in Geneva to end the crisis peacefully.The rebel official blamed Russia for the lack of progress in talks, saying it had no incentive to compromise while Assad was gaining ground. "The Russians are being evasive. They are looking at the military situation. Now they are advancing," he said.The U.S. National Security Council also said, in a message passed on by the American mission in Geneva, that Moscow had rejected a ceasefire. "We proposed an immediate cessation of hostilities to allow for safe departures and the Russians so far have refused," it said in a statement.-FIGHTING-The Syrian army is backed by Russian war planes and Lebanese and Iraqi Shi'ite militias supported by Iran. Its advances on Monday were aided by a militia of Palestinian refugees in Syria, the Liwa al-Quds or Jerusalem Brigade, the general said.The mostly Sunni rebels include groups backed by the United States, Turkey and Gulf monarchies as well as hardline jihadists who are not supported by the West.A correspondent for Syria's official SANA news agency said the army had taken control of Sheikh Saeed, and more than 3,500 people had left at dawn.A Syrian official told Reuters: "We managed to take full control of the Sheikh Saeed district. This area is very important because it facilitates access to al-Amariya and allows us to secure a greater part of the Aleppo-Ramousah road." The road is the main entry point to the city from the south.The loss of Palmyra, an ancient desert city whose recapture from Islamic State in March was heralded by Damascus and Moscow as vindicating Russia's entry into the war, is an embarrassing setback to Assad.The Observatory reported that the jihadist group carried out eight executions of Syrian soldiers and allied militiamen in Palmyra on Monday while warplanes bombarded their positions around the city.Another four people, including two children, were shot dead while the jihadists cleared the city, it said.The Observatory said at least 34 people had died in air raids on an Islamic State-held village north of Palmyra, and that local officials said poison gas had been used. Islamic State accused Russia of the attack. Both Russia and Syria's military deny using chemical weapons.-CIVILIANS-The Russian Defence Ministry said on Monday that 728 rebels had laid down their weapons over the previous 24 hours and relocated to western Aleppo. It said 13,346 civilians left rebel-controlled districts of Aleppo over the same period."Displaced people are moving," said an Aleppo resident. Some were moving from areas controlled by the army to opposition areas, while others were going in the opposite direction. Some were staying at home waiting for the army.The Observatory said that four weeks into the army offensive at least 415 civilians, including 47 children, had been killed in rebel-held parts of the city.Hundreds had been injured by Russian and Syrian air strikes and shelling by government forces and its allies on the besieged eastern part of the city.The Observatory said 364 rebel fighters had been killed in the eastern sector. It said rebel shelling of government-held west Aleppo had killed 130 civilians, including 40 children. Dozens had been injured.(This version of the story corrects attribution of comment to U.S. National Security Council)(Reporting by Laila Bassam in Aleppo, Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry in Beirut, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Six held in UK anti-terrorism raids; bomb disposal called in-[Reuters]-yahoonews-December 12, 2016
LONDON (Reuters) - Police said they had arrested six people in anti-terrorism raids across central England and London on Monday, with bomb disposal officers later dispatched as officers carried out searches.Detectives detained four men from Derby and another in Burton upon Trent in central England while a woman was also arrested in London on suspicion of preparing an act of terrorism.Police said the arrests were linked to "international related terrorism"."We would ask people to remain alert and vigilant but not to be alarmed ..," a statement from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit said.Six properties were being searched as part of the investigation and an Army bomb disposal team had been sent as a precaution to the Normanton area of Derby. No houses were evacuated, police said.The five men, aged 22, 35, 36, and two 27-year-olds, and the 32-year-old woman, were in police custody where detectives can question them for 48 hours before charging, releasing them or applying for permission to detain them for longer.Britain is on its second highest threat level, meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely. Last week Britain's foreign intelligence chief said Islamic State militants were using turmoil in Syria to plot attacks against the United Kingdom and her allies.(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)
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