Friday, January 20, 2017

 

EUROPEAN SPACE CHIEF-MOON VILLAGE IS MORE OR LESS A FACT.

JEWISH KING JESUS IS COMING AT THE RAPTURE FOR US IN THE CLOUDS-DON'T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD.THE BIBLE TAKEN LITERALLY- WHEN THE PLAIN SENSE MAKES GOOD SENSE-SEEK NO OTHER SENSE-LEST YOU END UP IN NONSENSE.GET SAVED NOW- CALL ON JESUS TODAY.THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH - NO OTHER. 1 COR 15:23-JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS-CHRISTIANS RAPTURED TO JESUS-FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT-23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.ROMANS 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.(THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE)

REVELATION 12:4-10
4 And his tail (SATANS)drew the third part of the stars of heaven,(1/3RD OF ANGELS FELL WITH SATAN AT THE FALL WHO ARE DEMONIC FALLIN ANGELS-DEMONS) and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman (ISRAEL) which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.(SATANS LAST HOLOCAUST TO TRY TO DESTROY ISRAEL FOREVER)
5 And she brought forth a man child,(MARY DID-JESUS WHO IS(JEWISH) who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman (MARY WHOS JEWISH REPRESENTING ISRAEL)fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.(3 1/2 YRS PROTECTED IN PETRA JORDAN)
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact' By Peter Teffer-EUOBSERVER

Brussels, 18. Jan, 17:30-Several companies from all over the world are on board with the idea of a Moon village, the director-general of the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday (18 January).Johann-Dietrich Woerner told a press conference in Paris that there was “a list of worldwide entities” interested in activities on the Moon, which he has been advocating since becoming ESA's head in 2015.“For me, the Moon village is already more or less a fact,” said Woerner.“Okay, there is nothing on the Moon visible [yet], but there will be something visible very soon, because several of these entities are planning to go to the Moon rather soon, and they are saying: 'We would like to be part of this overall concept',” he said.Woerner did not directly answer EUobserver's question, sent in via Twitter, whether ESA member states have committed funding for a permanent base on the far side of the Moon.But he noted that the Moon village is “a concept ... something which is an idea, which is not one single project.”The Moon village, in Woerner's idea, would succeed the International Space Station (ISS), after 2024. But unlike the ISS, private companies would also be able to access the Moon base.In an interview with EUobserver last year, Woerner said people should not think the Moon village would be like a classical Earth village with churches and houses.“The word Moon village should mean that we are putting together the capabilities of different actors, be it private companies or public,” he said.On Wednesday, he reiterated that stance.“It's not like the International Space Station, which is more or less restricted to the club. The Moon village idea is an open idea, free and open access,” said Woerner.Although he did not drop names, he said companies have approached ESA offering to provide shuttle services to and from the Moon, and firms that want to set up mining operations.Space activities were traditionally in the hands of nation states, but due to technological progress it has become easier for private companies to get involved.Several teams are competing for a prize funded by technology giant Google to land the first privately-owned device on the Moon.The competitors in the Google Lunar X Prize are trying to be the first to land a spacecraft on the Moon's surface; let it travel for 500 metres; and send back images and video back to Earth.The winner has been promised $20 million (€18.7 million).

STORMS HURRICANES-TORNADOES

LUKE 21:25-26
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)

The Latest: Italian premier urges redoubling of efforts-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

MILAN — The Latest on the avalanche that buried a hotel in central Italy (all times local):1:15 p.m.Premier Paolo Gentiloni is urging Italian authorities to redouble efforts to reach people isolated by new earthquakes and unusually heavy snow, as he sought to deflect criticism of the rescue efforts.Gentiloni told reporters Thursday that the priority is to reach all isolated towns and hamlets that have been buried under snowfall for days and then jolted by four powerful quakes on Wednesday.Residents have been complaining for days that they have been without electricity because of what Gentiloni called a "record snowfall." Criticism has also come in about the response time to reach a hotel buried under an avalanche.Gentiloni said: "I ask everyone if possible to multiply their efforts. I ask politicians to show sobriety respecting the difficulty of the situation and the commitment of civil and military crews who are responding."___12:55 p.m.The head of the Italy's civil protection authority is defending the response to a new series of earthquakes coupled with unusual snowfall, after an avalanche left 30 people missing.Fabrizio Curcio says that authorities are confronting "two exceptional events that that already alone would have created great difficulty in the response."For the heavy snowfall, Curcio said "we try to tell people to stay in their own homes, if they are secure, obviously. And in the areas of quakes, people should leave their homes. Putting together these two elements is extremely complicated."An avalanche at Hotel Rigopiano in the central Abruzzo region has left at least 30 people missing.___12:45 p.m.Criticism is starting to pour in about the response of emergency crews to Italy's snow-covered quake zone, including over when rescue teams were activated to reach the avalanche-covered Hotel Rigopiano in the central Abruzzo region. At least 30 people are missing there.A restaurant owner, Quintino Marcella, said he received a phone call at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday from one of his chefs who was on vacation at the hotel, had escaped but said his wife and two children were trapped inside."He calls me and says 'Help me, an avalanche has hit and the hotel isn't there anymore. It's disappeared. It's buried. Two of us are here but call rescue crews.'"Marcella said he immediately called police and prefecture's emergency co-ordination centre , but the prefect's office assured him that the hotel had phoned two or three hours earlier reporting everything was OK.Marcella said he frantically tried to call other emergency numbers but no one took him seriously. Speaking on Sky TG24, he said only hours later, after 8 p.m., did the response begin.He said his chef kept saying "Help, help, help, help."___12:15 p.m.The hotel buried by an avalanche in Italy is just one of several rescues underway in an area that has been pummeled by more than a meter (three feet) of snow in recent days — storms that have knocked out power and phone lines and blocked roads, isolating towns and hamlets."We have been abandoned by everyone!" marveled one resident from the province of Teramo, Daiana Nguyen, on Sky TG24. "They talk about sending in the army: Thirty to 40 men came with shovels. We need heavy machinery."Nguyen said people have been stuck in their homes for days.___11:15 a.m.Italian news reports say that some guests at a mountain hotel struck by an avalanche sent text messages to emergency numbers advising they were trapped inside."Help, we're dying of cold," one couple wrote rescuers, according to the ANSA news agency.In addition, someone who had managed to get out also texted authorities. The guest, identified by news reports as Fabio Salzetta, sent a SMS message saying he had escaped with a maintenance worker but that others were trapped inside.Corriere della Sera quoted the text message as saying: "Some walls were knocked down." And: "I'm outside with a maintenance worker but you can't see anything of the hotel, there's only a wall of snow in front of me."___11 a.m.Television images show piles of snow and rubble cascading down the stairway into the foyer of the hotel struck by an avalanche.Sky TG24 has broadcast the first images from rescue workers entering the hotel. The foyer appeared to be mostly clear of snow, but images showed a pile of debris-filled snow entering from a stairwell and in corridors. The audio was silent.Italian authorities say that 30 people are missing after the avalanche in the central Abruzzo region.___10:25 a.m.Italian news agency ANSA is quoting a survivor as saying he was saved because he had gone outside to his car to get something when an avalanche hit a mountain hotel.The survivor, identified as 38-year-old Giampaolo Parete, told doctors that his wife and two children were buried in the avalanche.He said that the car hadn't been buried and that he waited there for rescuers.Italian authorities say that 30 people are missing after the avalanche in the central Abruzzo region.___9:20 a.m.Italian civil protection authorities say that 30 people are missing after an avalanche covered a mountain hotel in central Italy.The authority says they were working to get rescue vehicles to the Hotel Rigopiano through roads covered in snow, joining initial rescue efforts overnight by alpine rescue squads.Italian media say that the avalanche covered the three-story hotel in the central region of Abruzzo on Wednesday evening. The news agency ANSA quoted a rescuer as saying that there were fatalities, but details weren't immediately available.___9:10 a.m.An Italian official says a hotel in an earthquake-hit zone of central Italy has been buried by an avalanche, with reports of dead.Italian media say that the avalanche covered the three-story hotel in the central region of Abruzzo on Wednesday evening. The news agency ANSA quoted a rescuer as saying that there were fatalities, but details weren't immediately available.The president of the Pescara provincial wrote on Facebook on Thursday that there were 20 guests at the hotel when it was covered by the avalanche, about 45 kilometres (30 miles) from the coastal city of Pescara.The Associated Press.

Confluence of events' may have caused mysterious fish kill off Nova Scotia-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

HALIFAX — A federal scientist says the recent high-profile fish kill off southwestern Nova Scotia may have been caused by a "confluence of events," including fish behaviour, weather, and various ecological factors such as predators.However, Alain Vezina says it's still not known what caused thousands of herring and shellfish to wash ashore at several points between late November and through December.Vezina, who is regional director of science for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), says causes such as pollution, pesticides, and naturally occurring toxins have been ruled out.He says overall the kill was a "small and localized event" that occurred over a 100 kilometre swath from St. Marys Bay to Tusket.Vezina says it's estimated hundreds of thousands of herring died, but that's still a small fraction in terms of the overall percentage of allowable catch given to fishermen.DFO officials say they are continuing to monitor the area, but believe the kill event is concluding.The Canadian Press.

DANIEL 7:23-24
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)

LUKE 2:1-3
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.

Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany By Eric Maurice-JAN 19,17-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, Today, 17:19-The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced on Thursday (19 January) that it will keep its current monetary policy unchanged and defended it against growing German criticism.The ECB maintained its base interest rate at 0 percent and its deposit rate at -0.4 percent.It also confirmed that its €80-billion per month bond-buying scheme would continue until March and reduced to €60-billion per month until December.The eurozone's bank president Mario Draghi said at a presse conference in Francfort that he expected the rates to "remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of our net asset purchases."He added that the so-called quantitative easing (QE) scheme would continue after December "if necessary, and in any case" until inflation in the eurozone comes back to the bank's objective of "under but close to 2 percent".Draghi said that inflation could rise in coming months, due in particular to higher oil prices as well as the ECB's policy.He added that a "very substantial degree of monetary accommodation" was still needed and insisted that the ECB was pursuing the right policies.He said that in their meeting, the bank's governors were "unanimous in looking back at the decision taken in December [the QE extension until December] and stating they were the right policy answers."He said that it was "increasing[ly] clear that this policy stance has been successful".Unanimity of the banking heads included Germany's Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann, amid criticism of the ECB's policies by the country's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble just days before the meeting."I would much prefer it if interest rates were not so low," Schaeuble told The European magazine last week. He added in an interview to Sueddeutsche Zeitung that "it would presumably be right if the ECB dared to exit this year" what he called an "ultra-expansionary monetary policy".In response Draghi said that critics had to be "patient"."Low rates are necessary now to get higher rates in the future. It's in the interest of everybody, including Germany," he said.He said that "recovery of the whole eurozone is in the interest of German citizens" and the low rates would "disappear faster as the recovery happens faster".He insisted that "benefits will occur for all citizens of the eurozone, including the German citizens," whether they are savers, borrowers or entrepreneurs.-'Too early' to comment on Trump-It is not the first time that Draghi and Schaeuble, two of the eurozone's most powerful officials, are at loggerheads over which monetary policy to pursue.Last year, after Schaeuble had said that low rates caused "extraordinary problems" for German banks and private pensions, Draghi had pointed out that his institution's mandate was "to pursue price stability for the whole of the eurozone and not only for Germany".Further defending his policies, the ECB chief said on Thursday, "we don't have public admissions of guilt, Mao-Chinese style, as a way of working".Asked about incoming US president Donald Trump's remark that the dollar is "too strong" and "it’s killing us", Draghi noted that there is a "very strong international consensus to refrain from competitive devaluations".He added however that it was "too early" to comment on the consequences of Trump's policies."Let's see what are the real policies following the statements. I'd rather comment on policies than just statements," he said.

Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa By Nikolaj Nielsen-JAN 19,17-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, Today, 09:26-Germany has unveiled a plan for Africa that aims to increase trade and development as part of a larger effort to curb migrant flows to Europe.A 33-page blueprint, presented on Wednesday (18 January) in Berlin by Germany's development minister Gerd Muller, covers areas from energy to tax evasion and market access.Muller said on his website that a "whole new dimension of cooperation with Africa" was needed and that Germany was ready to support governments in Africa in the endeavour."Anyone who fights corruption, builds tax systems, invests in education and relies on gender equality can expect more support from us," he said.He said fast-growing economies in Africa presented a host of opportunities for German businesses.German media report development funds will increase by another 20 percent for countries that undertake the reforms.Dubbed the Marshall Plan, in reference to US aid to Western Europe following WWII, the proposal is likely to become a major feature of Germany's G20 presidency this year.But critics say the blueprint fails to explain how the plan would be tailored to the 54 separate countries on the African continent."Unfortunately the Marshall plan remains unspecific on how the concrete measures and instruments will look like," Christoph Kannengiesser, managing director of the Afrika Verein, told Deutsche Welle news website.The EU launched similar schemes known as migration compacts last summer with Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, and Ethiopia, as part of its new "migration partnership framework".The EU's effort also aims to slow irregular migrant flows into Europe by looking at the political, social, and economic dimensions of development.But a progress report issued in December noted major hurdles in terms of linking the compacts with policies on legal migration, trade, energy, agriculture, and education.Last September, the European Commission had also announced an investment plan for Africa and is hoping to shore up some €88 billion from EU states.The flurry of recent EU plans can be traced back to the Valletta summit on migration in late 2015. The summit was called in reaction to a large inflow of migrants seeking refuge in the EU.African heads of governments and states gathered at the event, alongside their European counterparts.The two sides issued a joint statement on deepening cooperation but differences on readmission of rejected migrants and creating more legal channels for migrants to arrive in Europe remain entrenched. The EU commission had also launched a €1.8 billion trust fund to support the measures.A follow-up of what has evolved from the 2015 Valletta migration summit is set for early February in Malta.

Kevin O'Leary says he would work well with Donald Trump-[Canadian Press Videos]-YAHOONEWS-January 18, 2017

Businessman and "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary has officially entered the Conservative leadership race. O'Leary says he would work well with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump on "getting deals done."

Trump arrives in Washington on eve of historic inauguration-[AFP]-Michael Mathes-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

Washington (AFP) - Twenty-four hours before he takes the oath of office as the 45th US president, Donald Trump arrived in Washington on Thursday, determined to transform American politics over the next four years.The Republican billionaire's arrival caps an extraordinary and improbable run for the White House that, once he takes the reins from President Barack Obama, will launch the United States into a new era."The journey begins and I will be working and fighting very hard to make it a great journey for the American people," Trump tweeted before leaving Trump Tower, his Manhattan home.The 70-year-old president-elect traveled aboard an official government jet to a military base near Washington with his wife Melania. The pair exited the plane and headed into the nation's capital for a day of pre-inaugural festivities."It is a momentous day before a historic day," said Vice President-elect Mike Pence, as Washington put its finishing touches on the downtown area where hundreds of thousands of Americans will congregate for Trump's inauguration.Trump will place a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery at 3:30 pm (2030 GMT) before crossing the Potomac River to speak at the Lincoln Memorial, the epicenter of Thursday's events complete with a concert and fireworks.Trump's swearing-in, on the steps of the Capitol at noon Friday -- a date and hour set by the US Constitution -- will be carried live on screens around the globe. Rain is forecast.Tens of thousands of Trump supporters -- and anti-Trump protesters -- have converged on the capital for the democratic ritual. Numerous dignitaries, including his unsuccessful Democratic rival for the presidency Hillary Clinton, and three former presidents will be in attendance.Trump is "very anxious to get to the White House and get to work for the American people," said Pence, a 57-year-old Christian conservative who rose from being governor of Indiana to become the second most powerful person in the US government.Trump, a real estate magnate with no previous political or military experience, was elected in part for his abrasiveness: his working-class supporters have sent him to Washington to turn the page on the Obama era and upend the political status quo.Trump has vowed to act, and swiftly.- From Kennedy to Reagan -Trump is expected to sign four or five decrees Friday, and then a raft of others beginning Monday to dismantle every policy he can without waiting for congressional approval: immigration, environment, energy and labor regulations are on the list.He still has to finish writing his inaugural address. In December, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, he confided that he sought inspiration from John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.But spokesman Sean Spicer says the words will be Trump's own, and last about 20 minutes, similar to Obama's opening speech."It's going to be a very personal and sincere statement about his vision for the country," the incoming White House press secretary said as he hinted at the tone that the Republican billionaire will take."I think it's going to be less of an agenda and more of a philosophical document, a vision of where he sees the country, the proper role of government, the role of citizens."Kennedy devoted his 1961 inaugural address to the state of the world in the midst of the Cold War, famously appealing to his countrymen: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."Reagan, in 1981, declared: "The government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."- Cabinet picks complete -Obama, 55, laid down a clear warning to his successor Wednesday. While he did not intend to get involved in day-to-day politics, he said he would not remain silent if certain red lines were crossed."I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise," he said.The Democratic opposition is organizing without Obama.About a third of US House Democrats will boycott Friday's ceremony. In the Senate, Democrats are putting obstacles in the path of Trump's cabinet nominees, only a handful of whom look to be confirmed Friday.Republicans had hoped to confirm seven on the new administration's first day.On Thursday, Trump named former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue to be secretary of agriculture, a move that completes his 15 cabinet selections.With his inner circle finalized, Trump's incoming cabinet will feature no Hispanics, the first time since Reagan.Spicer defended Trump against charges he has the largest number of white males in his cabinet in years, describing as "second to none" Trump's diversity in his overall political appointments."It's not just about skin color and heritage," Spicer said.The new administration has asked over 50 individuals to remain in critical posts in order to "ensure the continuity of government," Spicer added, including his predecessor's special envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, Brett McGurk.

Trump asks some 50 senior Obama appointees to stay on-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has asked roughly 50 senior Obama administration appointees to remain in their posts after his inauguration to ensure continuity in government, his incoming White House press secretary said Thursday.The officials include the highest-ranking career officials at key national security agencies like the Pentagon and State Department.Deputy Defence Secretary Robert Work and America's third-ranking diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, will serve as acting chiefs of their agencies until successors for the top jobs are confirmed by the Senate, Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer said.Thursday's announcement comes after weeks of questions about how Trump's team is managing the presidential transition, although it may not address broader concerns about what officials at many federal agencies have said is a lack of communication with the incoming team.Such concerns are natural in presidential transitions. But the confusion among officials at national security agencies could have consequences, given their international engagements. The rest of the world doesn't pause while Washington determines its chains of command.Work will likely helm the Defence Department for only a matter of hours. Trump's selection for the Pentagon, retired Gen. James Mattis, is expected to be confirmed on Friday shortly after the inauguration ceremony, along with retired Gen. John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security.Senate debate on Trump's choice for CIA boss, former Rep. Mike Pompeo, is expected to start Friday. It is unclear if Pompeo will receive an immediate confirmation vote.At the State Department, Shannon will be in charge until at least until next week as a Senate vote on Trump's choice for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, isn't expected until Monday or Tuesday.Also staying will be Brett McGurk, the Obama administration's point-man for fighting the Islamic State group, Nicholas Rasmussen, the National Counterterrorism Center director, and Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department's top official for terrorism and financial intelligence.Spicer said Chuck Rosenberg, the Drug Enforcement Agency administrator, and Susan Coppedge, the State Department's ambassador-at-large to combat human trafficking, would be left in place for the transition.A full list of Obama appointees asked to remain was not immediately available.It also wasn't clear if the Trump administration would accept an invitation to attend Russian-supported Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Monday.Trump has made a great point about seeking closer co-operation with Moscow on counterterrorism and security matters. Obama's special envoy for Syria, Michael Ratney, has indicated he is willing to attend, but the transition team hadn't instructed him to make the trip. Spicer said an announcement was expected soon.As in previous transitions, U.S. embassies and consulates abroad headed by noncareer, presidential appointee ambassadors will transfer to the most senior career diplomat present until the new administration fills the top posts.The transition team has largely yielded on matters of national security to retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, and Jared Kushner, the president-elect's son-in-law. But the circle will have to be expanded once the new administration assumes the full responsibility of government.When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Senate confirmed seven Cabinet members on Inauguration Day. Republicans and Democrats are still negotiating over Trump's picks, and Mattis and Kelly may be the only ones to make it through Friday.Matthew Lee, The Associated Press.

U.S. Senate to vote on Trump national security cabinet picks Friday-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate is due to vote on Friday on the two retired Marine generals who are President-elect Donald Trump's nominees to be Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer said on Thursday.Both retired General James Mattis, Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon, and retired General John Kelly, his choice for Homeland Security, are expected to be confirmed easily.The Senate will begin debate on a third prospective member of Trump's national security team, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, the Republican's selection to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Schumer said.But he did not guarantee that there would be a vote on Pompeo on Friday.Senate Republicans had hoped to confirm as many as seven of Trump's cabinet nominees in the hours after he is inaugurated as president on Friday.However, Democrats balked at what they described as a push by Republicans, who hold a 52-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate, to jam through nominations before Trump's selections had filed all of their financial and ethics paperwork or answered every question submitted during the confirmation process.Republicans accuse Democrats of playing politics.Schumer said the Senate might also confirm a few of Trump's other "noncontroversial" nominees on Friday."Over the last few weeks, Republicans have made a mockery of the confirmation process," Schumer said.(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool)

Canada Revenue Agency monitoring Facebook, Twitter posts of some Canadians-[CBC]-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

The Canada Revenue Agency is scrutinizing the Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other social media posts of Canadians it suspects could be cheating on their taxes.That's just one example of the agency's increasing focus on what it can learn by collecting and analyzing many kinds of data — both its own internally generated information and what it calls "publicly available information.""The CRA does practice risk-based compliance, so for taxpayers identified as high risk, any relevant, publicly available information relating to the specific risk-based factors for the taxpayer may be consulted as part of our fact-gathering processes," said spokesperson David Walters.Among those considered high risk are wealthy Canadians with offshore bank accounts, said Jean-François Ruel, director of CRA's Strategy and Integration Branch."If we go with high-risk, high-wealth individuals that do offshore [banking], then we would look at all information that is public for compliance action."Tobi Cohen, spokesperson for the privacy commissioner, said CRA notified it of its plan to collect publicly available information from social media in connection with "tax fraud and non-compliance risk analysis, audits and investigations."However, David Christopher, of the advocacy group Open Media, said his organization opposes government agencies monitoring what Canadians are saying on social media."When Canadians post something on Facebook, they believe that they are sharing that with their friends and with their family. They don't believe that they are sharing that with some government bureaucrat in Ottawa," he said."Unfortunately, Facebook's privacy settings are notoriously complex and many people might think that they are posting something to their friends and it ends up getting shared with the whole world."The revelation that the Canada Revenue Agency is checking social media posts comes as the agency is also expanding its use of cutting-edge technology and data analysis to better catch tax cheats, to target people for audits and to improve its service for Canadians.-Big data-Business intelligence, also known as big data, is a rapidly growing area within CRA. In 2016 alone, the agency posted three separate privacy impact assessments centred on its plans to use business intelligence techniques in its operations.Former CRA commissioner Andrew Treusch says technology is changing the way the agency operates."Evolving technology is having a significant impact on our approach to compliance," he wrote in the agency's 2016-17 Report on Planning and Priorities."Data analysis and business intelligence are providing us with better insight into taxpayer behaviours, allowing us to spend less time and effort on lower-risk groups of taxpayers and focus our resources on dealing with deliberate non-compliance."In the report, the agency says business intelligence, which includes "mining accessible data," is a key area."This is because of the far-reaching opportunities it presents to enhance strategies for compliance, services and debt collection. Business intelligence encompasses big data to improve non-compliance detection (predictive analytics) and behavioural economics (such as 'nudging') to improve compliance."-Future techniques-An internal CRA document, which CBC News first found on the website of the U.S Internal Revenue Service, outlines CRA's plans to use business intelligence techniques in the future.The document, prepared in 2014, describes plans to move into such areas as predictive analytics, which can use data and algorithms to help officials decide whether someone who hasn't paid their taxes should get a gentle reminder, a phone call or an audit.A chart in the document indicates CRA also planned to get data to analyze from "web and social media."Ruel said while the agency was looking into the prospect at the time, it is not currently planning to include social media analysis as part of the business intelligence side of its operations."A lot of steps and a lot of work in terms of privacy would have to be done first and it's not one of the priorities right now."However, he said the business intelligence unit does analyze data from CRA's interactions with Canadians through its own Twitter and YouTube accounts."When they communicate with us, we analyze this information to make sure that we understand what is happening," Ruel said. "If there is concern around scams, for example, we will take that information and then create a communications strategy to make sure that people have the information that they need."-Identifying offshore tax evasion-Ruel said the business intelligence section has a dual focus: improving service for Canadians while at the same time identifying cases that should be audited.On the audit side, it is working extensively with data it has been receiving from Canadian financial institutions since January 2015 whenever someone makes an electronic transfer worth $10,000 or more.The result has been a lot of information about countries of concern for offshore tax evasion."If we look at the case and we see there are a lot of funds transfers toward a country where we know there could be some offshore activities, then we link that information with all the other information that we have and we prioritize that way," Ruel said.The agency has also begun text analytics, also known as text mining. For example, Ruel said the business intelligence section is analyzing auditors' notes to detect new tax schemes or techniques for avoiding taxes.But as CRA and other federal departments increase their use of data, privacy advocates say they should also be asking tough questions.In a speech prepared for a conference in December, Patricia Kosseim, senior general counsel at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, warned that just because something is publicly available online, doesn't mean individuals have waived their rights to privacy."Government's objective of being more nimble and responsive to the needs and expectations of Canadians is playing out in a data-rich context nurtured by individuals who are increasingly exposing their personal lives on social media, discussion forums and online networks. Never before has it been so easy to data-mine these 'non-traditional' sources of information."While it may be tempting to cull data from these sites for recruitment, performance management, law enforcement or security related purposes — not to mention out of sheer curiosity — these are not lawless zones."Colin Bennett, a University of Victoria professor who specializes in privacy, said government use of big data techniques is causing concern among privacy advocates.When Canadians provide information to the government, they provide it for a specific purpose, not for algorithms and predictive analytics, he said."You are getting beyond the initial reason why the data were collected in the first place, which is to administer our tax system, and it is becoming far more hypothetical, far more speculative and concerning."

PRETTY BOY SELFIE EXPERT LIBERAL PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA JUSTIN TRUDEAU GETS IN TROUBLE FOR BEING TO POLITICALLY CORRECT ON LANGUAGE.

Trudeau says he 'maybe' could have spoken some English when asked questions-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-January 18, 2017

MONTREAL — Quebec's deep-rooted linguistic tensions flared up in unlikely fashion Wednesday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to explain why he refused to answer questions in English at a town hall meeting.The controversy erupted when Trudeau answered English questions in French on Tuesday night — including one about how English speakers could get help to gain access to mental health services."Thank you for using our country's two official languages, but since we're in Quebec I'll respond in French," Trudeau told a woman at a town hall meeting in Sherbrooke.His unilingual performance drew an angry response from groups that represent Quebec anglophones, with some calling on the prime minister to apologize for showing what they called disrespect toward the English speakers in the audience.At first, Trudeau defended his stance when grilled about it at a news conference Wednesday as he continued his grassroots tour. He pointed out he answered a French question in English at a recent town hall meeting in Peterborough, Ont.But Trudeau changed his tune a few minutes later when a reporter revisited the topic.Asked whether the English-speaking people in the audience Tuesday night did not deserve to understand him, he replied: "I understand how important it is in these public meetings to be able to answer questions about people's concerns.""So, yes, I maybe could have answered partly in English and partly in French and, on reflection, it would have been a good thing to do," he said.About 80 per cent of Quebecers report French as their mother tongue, with most English-speakers concentrated in the Montreal area.It is customary for political speeches in Quebec to be mostly in French, while it is generally accepted that francophone reporters get to ask their questions first at news conferences.Other than being briefly booed for speaking English at a Fete nationale celebration in Quebec City last year, the fluently bilingual Trudeau has thus far largely avoided the language controversies that have dogged previous prime ministers, including his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.His party made strong gains in Quebec in the 2015 election, winning 40 of the province's 78 seats. Many ridings with a high percentage of French-speaking voters still remain out of reach for the Liberals, who fare well in areas with significant anglophone representation.But on Wednesday, Trudeau faced rare heat from some members of that English-speaking community.Judy Ross, the woman who asked Trudeau the question about mental health, said she "felt disrespected" when he explained why he would only answer in French."I was so disappointed that by the time he got through that bit of fantasy land, I really didn't take in the rest," Ross said in an interview. "I was too miffed."It (mental health) is a topic that's very difficult to explain and express in your own language, let alone a second language. Even people who are bilingual prefer to have their services in their mother tongue. And I thought, with his life experience, he would be sensitive to that."The president of an association representing anglophones in the province's Eastern Townships said Trudeau should apologize to the English-speaking community.Gerald Cutting said the prime minister's refusal to use both languages undermined the anglophone community's long struggle to obtain access to services in their own language."There were people in that audience who felt they were demoted to second-class citizens, and that needs to be addressed," he said in an interview.He said Trudeau's attempt to moderate his stance Wednesday was insufficient and that he should meet with members of the anglophone community to clarify his remarks.Another organization, the Quebec Community Groups Network, also called for an apology."The QCGN cannot imagine the prime minister or any other bilingual politician replying in English to a French question posed in New Brunswick, Manitoba or any other province where the main language is English,'' said president James Shea."Even staunch defenders of the French language like (former Parti Quebecois premier) Rene Levesque would never have made such a misstep."The prime minister's actions did find an unlikely defender, however, in the president of the sovereigntist Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, who said Trudeau initially showed the right instincts before modifying his position Wednesday."For a brief moment of lucidity, a moment of grace, Justin Trudeau had a simple reflex, which was to recognize, naturally, that the only common language of Quebec is not bilingualism, it's French," Maxime Laporte said in an interview."But the prime minister didn't commit to it all the way, since he backtracked a few hours later."Laporte said the controversy is proof the rest of Canada does not understand or accept Quebec's need to promote and protect French as the province's only official language, which he says does not hurt the rights of linguistic minorities.Earlier in the day, Trudeau held a private meeting with Jean-Guy Cloutier, mayor of Lac-Megantic, the Quebec town rocked by a huge train explosion that killed 47 people in July 2013.He also met with students in a cafe at Bishop's University, where he signed autographs, posed for several selfies and went behind the counter to have a photo taken with employees.Before leaving, he signed a note for a student explaining why he was absent from class.Trudeau then headed to a fast-food restaurant in Granby where he was greeted by people wanting photos and autographs. A woman even asked him to sign a book that contained a recipe from his mother, Margaret Sinclair.— With files from Vicky Fragasso-Marquis-Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press.

REVELATION 16:12-16
12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates;(WERE WW3 STARTS IN IRAQ OR SYRIA OR TURKEY) and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon,(SATAN) and out of the mouth of the beast,(WORLD DICTATOR) and out of the mouth of the false prophet.(FALSE POPE)
14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.(WERE 2 BILLION DIE FROM NUKE WAR)
15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.(ITS AT THIS TIME I BELIEVE WHEN AMERICA GETS NUKED BY RUSSIA ON THE WAY TO THE MIDEAST)

DANIEL 11:44 (2ND WAVE OF WW3)
44 But tidings out of the east(CHINA) and out of the north(RUSSIA, MUSLIMS WHATS LEFT FROM WAVE 1) shall trouble him:(EU DICTATOR IN ISRAEL) therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.( 1/3RD OF EARTHS POPULATION)

REVELATION 9:12-18
12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.(WORLDWIDE WAR)(TURKEY-IRAQ-SYRIA)(EUPHRATES RIVER CONSISTS OF 760 MILES IN TURKEY,440 MILES IN SYRIA AND 660 MILES IN IRAQ)
15 And the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels were loosed,(WORLDWIDE WAR) which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.(1/3 Earths Population die in WW 3 2ND WAVE-2 billion)
16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand:(200 MILLION MAN ARMY FROM CHINA AND THE KINGS OF THE EAST) and I heard the number of them.
17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.(NUCLEAR BOMBS)
18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.(NUCLEAR BOMBS)

U.S. sees indications of possible North Korea missile test-launch-[Reuters]-By James Pearson and Phil Stewart-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday, after South Korean media reported movement of what could be components of an upgraded prototype of an intercontinental ballistic missile.The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States was seeing activity in North Korea indicating a possible ballistic missile test, including positioning of two mobile missile launchers.Still, the timing of the test and precise type of missile remained unclear, the officials said.In his New Year's speech, leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea was close to test launching an ICBM, and state media has said a launch could come at any time. Experts on the isolated and nuclear capable country's missile program believe the claims to be credible.The Pentagon declined comment on its intelligence about the North Korea threat, but spokesman Peter Cook assured reporters that Washington's readiness would be not be diminished during the U.S. presidential transition, due to take place on Friday."I can't get into intelligence matters. I can't confirm what's been reported there," Cook told a news briefing."We would once again encourage North Korea not to engage in provocative actions that do nothing but destabilize the region."South Korean media said a test could potentially coincide with the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, South Korean media said.Trump on Jan. 2 tweeted, "It won't happen!" about North Korean ICBMs, although his precise meaning was unclear. The Pentagon has said it would not necessarily strike a test-launched ICBM if it did not pose a threat.-NEW TYPE OF MISSILE?-South Korean intelligence agencies reported on Wednesday that they had recently spotted missile parts being transported, believed to be the lower-half of an ICBM, raising fears that a test-launch may be imminent, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing unidentified military sources."It was different from a conventional Musudan missile in its length and shape," the source told the Chosun Ilbo, referring to the Musudan intermediate-range missile tested by North Korea last year."It is possible they were moving it somewhere for assembly," the source said.A spokesman for South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Roh Jae-cheon, told a regular news briefing that while the reports could not be confirmed, the military was monitoring North Korea's ICBM development.North Korea has in the past paraded mockups of a road-mobile missile believed to be an ICBM design dubbed the KN-08 by outside observers. It is also believed to have an upgraded version, the KN-14.A road-mobile ICBM, which could be kept hidden or moving until fired, would make tracking and stopping a North Korean missile launch significantly more difficult.The suspected ICBM is made up of two parts under 15 metres (49 feet) long and is shorter than the KN-08 and KN-14, the Yonhap News Agency said, citing unidentified military sources."I don't recognise the missiles from this description," said Joshua Pollack, editor of the U.S.-based Nonproliferation Review. "But as we saw in 2016, there's certainly a variety of active missile programmes underway in North Korea"."It's also possible that they are simply conducting field exercises with no plans to launch, or the option to launch if decided," said Pollack.Last year, North Korea conducted a test of an ICBM engine made up of a cluster of smaller rockets, indicating it was working on an ICBM design.Separately, the Washington-based think tank 38 North said on Thursday that operations at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility may have restarted. North Korea is believed to be able to reprocess plutonium at Yongbyon used in its nuclear warheads.(Additional reporting by Jeong Eun Lee in Seoul and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Michael Perry and Cynthia Osterman)

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

WORLD TERRORISM

GENESIS 6:11-13
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.

GENESIS 16:11-12
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)

ISAIAH 14:12-14
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)

JOHN 16:2
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)

UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey By Nikolaj Nielsen-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, 18. Jan, 18:33-The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is finding it difficult to monitor the fate of Syrians sent back from Greece despite formal guarantees under the EU migrant deal with Turkey.In a letter dated 23 December and addressed to a Greek lawyer, the agency says it lacks the "unhindered and predictable access to pre-removal centres in Turkey and to the Duzici reception centre."It also complained that Turkey does not "systematically" share the legal status and whereabouts of readmitted Syrians, making monitoring all the more problematic.The letter was citing figures from early November, noting that out of the 82 Syrians returned, it was only able to confirm 12 had been granted temporary status."Despite its best efforts, the UNHCR has not been able to contact the majority of the others," says the letter.But Turkey's directorate general for migration management (DGMM) earlier this week told the European Commission that it had granted protection status to 131 out of 141 readmitted Syrians. The remaining 10 were sent back to Syria.Although Turkey appears to be cooperating somewhat, administrative bottlenecks are making the UN's job difficult.The UNHCR has to ask for permission to visit a refugee centre at least five days in advance, for instance.After having made 16 requests to visit Duzici, it was granted access only 12 times. During those visits, it was only able to conduct individual interviews with around half of the Syrians.-Safeguards needed-Vincent Cochetel, who oversees the UNHCR's European operations, had already spoken out last September."We thought we had permission, we were not given access. For us that is an important aspect of the safeguards," he told this website at an event organised by European Policy Centre in Brussels.When pressed over the blockade, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos at the time said Turkey was applying "adequate standards".Turkey under the deal with the EU last March had "provided formal guarantees" that all the Syrian refugees readmitted to the country would be protected. Ankara had also introduced legislative amendments to its legal system."This appears to be sufficient protection equivalent to that foreseen by the Geneva Convention," the EU commission said on Wednesday.Ankara's geographical restriction in the convention means only European nationals are granted full refugee status.The EU says Turkey, under EU asylum laws, can be deemed a "safe third country" for non-Syrians and a "first country of asylum" for Syrians.Around 838 people were returned to Turkey from Greece last year under the deal. Another 1,183 were sent back under a separate bilateral readmission agreement between the two countries.No Syrian has been forced to return to Turkey under the EU deal, although one group of Syrians were allegedly tricked into being deported from Greece. The low number of returns has intensified pressure on Greek authorities to fast track applications and appeals.Turkey hosts some 2.7 million Syrian refugees. Of those, around 10,000 have been given work permits since last September.

Deadly Nigeria air strike hit densely populated areas, says rights group-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

LAGOS (Reuters) - A Nigerian air strike that killed more than 70 people and wounded at least 120 in a refugee camp hit areas of a town that were densely populated, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday, citing reviews of satellite images.The New York-based group said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) should have known the area targeted was filled with civilians. The NAF declined to comment and said it was studying the report.Tuesday's accidental air strike hit Rann in Borno state, the epicenter of Boko Haram's seven-year-long attempt to create an Islamic caliphate in the northeast. Nine aid workers were among the dead.At least 35 structures, including shelters for people who had fled the conflict with Boko Haram, were destroyed in the attack, Human Rights Watch's statement said."The presence of what appears to be a large Nigerian military compound on the edge of town, 100 meters from one of the impact sites, raises further questions," said the group."The military would have been expected to know that the area was filled with civilians and to take adequate precautions not to harm them during any operation targeting Boko Haram fighters who might have been in the area."The NAF has said civilians were accidentally killed and wounded in the attack, which was aimed at the jihadist group, but neither it nor the government has provided an official figure for the number of casualties.The NAF said in a statement earlier on Thursday it would form a board of senior officers to investigate the air strike and prevent similar future accidents. The board aims for the report to be submitted no later than Feb. 2.Human Rights Watch said the bombing could violate international humanitarian law, because, while not intentional, it may have been indiscriminate.The strike followed a military offensive against Boko Haram in the last few weeks.The group's insurgency has killed more than 15,000 people since 2009 and forced some two million to flee their homes, many of whom have moved to camps for internally displaced people.(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Additional reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; Writing by Paul Carsten; editing by Ralph Boulton)

U.S. bombers hit Islamic State militants in Libya: U.S. defense officials-[Reuters]-By Idrees Ali-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. B-2 bombers carried out air strikes against Islamic State camps outside the group's former North African stronghold of Sirte in Libya, killing dozens of militants, U.S. defense officials said on Thursday.Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strikes were carried out late on Wednesday 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Sirte against two camps.They were done in cooperation with Libya's U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and no women or children were in the camps, the officials said.One of the officials said initial reports showed dozens of militants were killed in the strikes with more than 100 precision guided munitions dropped.Libyan forces backed by U.S. air strikes finished clearing the last Islamic State holdout in Sirte in early December after a battle of nearly seven months.The loss of Sirte was a major blow for Islamic State, leaving the group without any territory in Libya, but it retains an active presence in parts of the vast country.Libyan officials say hundreds of militants may have escaped before the battle in Sirte or during its early stages, and local Islamic State leaders have spoken of trying to regroup outside the city.Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, in a statement on Thursday, confirmed the U.S. military conducted strikes."The ISIL terrorists targeted included individuals who fled to the remote desert camps from Sirte in order to reorganize, and they posed a security threat to Libya, the region, and U.S. national interests," Cook said, using an acronym for Islamic State.A statement from the GNA in Tripoli said the strikes were carried out against "several Islamic State gatherings in desert areas near Sirte, which were completely destroyed"."These air strikes are preemptive steps to foil attempts by the Islamic State terrorist organization to attack Sirte and others areas again," it said.The strikes appear intended to shore up the GNA and protect recent gains in oil production from possible militant attacks, said Geoff Porter, head of North Africa Risk Consulting.The GNA has received strong backing from the outgoing U.S. administration but has struggled to win support inside Libya or reverse the chaos that developed after rebels overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 with help from NATO.The United States carried out about 470 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Sirte between August and December. It had previously carried out several isolated strikes against militant targets elsewhere in Libya.The jihadist group took over Sirte in early 2015, turning it into its most important base outside the Middle East and attracting large numbers of foreign fighters into the city. It imposed its ultra-hardline rule on residents and extended its control along about 250 km (155 miles) of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.(Reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington, Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli and Aidan Lewis in Tunis; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Iraq forces clear east Mosul ahead of push for west bank-[AFP]-W.G. Dunlop-YAHOONEWS-January 19, 2017

Mosul (Iraq) (AFP) - Iraqi forces battled the last holdout jihadists in east Mosul Thursday after commanders declared victory there and quickly set their sights on the city's west, where more tough fighting awaits.The announcement that the left bank of the Tigris River that divides Mosul had been retaken was a key milestone in an offensive that began three months ago but could yet last several more.Staff General Talib al-Sheghati, who heads the Counter-Terrorism Service spearheading the fighting in Mosul, declared the left bank "liberated" at a big press conference on Wednesday.Iraqi forces were still fighting there on Thursday, flushing out fighters from the Islamic State group in northern neighbourhoods east of the river.According to the Joint Operations Command coordinating the fight against IS, federal forces retook a large hotel and a presidential compound. They also recaptured the town of Talkif, further north, which they had besieged for weeks.Only a handful of areas on the east bank remained to be cleared, including the neighbourhood of Rashidiyah, commanders said.Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said around the new year that ridding the country of IS, which seized around a third of it in 2014, could take three more months.He had initially promised to do so by the end of 2016 and many observers have argued his new timetable was still optimistic.Before Iraq launched its massive offensive against IS-held Mosul on October 17, the west bank had always been thought to be where federal forces would meet the toughest resistance.- 'Hardest fight' -But elite troops struggled in the east too and only broke the back of the jihadists there in recent days, after stepped up coordination and increased aerial and advisory support from the US-led coalition.Once they have fully secured the east coast, Iraqi forces will need to tackle the west bank of the river, which is a little smaller but more densely populated.Patrick Martin, Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said the worst may be yet to come."The coalition and the ISF (Iraqi security forces) should plan for western Mosul to be the hardest fight in Mosul," he said."It is denser urban terrain, with older neighbourhoods and narrower streets that will make clearing operations challenging."IS and Sunni insurgent groups also have had historical support zones in western Mosul," he added, warning that federal forces advancing in the streets could encounter more hostile residents than they have on the eastern side.The UN estimates about 750,000 people still live on Mosul's west bank, which includes the old city and key landmarks such as the mosque where IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" in June 2014.Colonel John Dorrian, spokesman of the US-led coalition that has dropped close to 10,000 munitions on IS targets in the Mosul area since the operation began, said the battle would be tough but argued the jihadists had also been severely weakened since October.- Fears for civilians -"They lost a lot of fighters, a lot of resources, a lot of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and a lot of weapons during the first half of this battle," he said."The city is for all intents and purposes surrounded so they won't be able to resupply or reinforce whatever remains," he explained.Unlike most of the previous major battles to retake Iraqi cities from IS, the current offensive did not empty Mosul of its population.The UN and other relief organisations had planned for an unprecedented exodus of up to one million people but so far about 150,000 civilians have been displaced as a result of the Mosul offensive.The presence of so many residents in west Mosul as IS fights to the death for its last major bastion in Iraq was a concern, however."Many families have escaped the horrors of Mosul, but at least 300,000 children remain trapped in the west of the city and now face the prospect of a brutal siege," said Misty Buswell of Save the Children."Children have already paid a heavy price during the battles for the east, with civilians so far making up nearly half of all casualties in the conflict," she said."In the narrow and densely populated streets of the west, in Mosul's old city, children and their families run an even greater risk of being caught in the crossfire or being hit by bombs."



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