Wednesday, May 10, 2017
MACRON JOINS RANKS OF YOUNGEST LEADERS IN THE PAST AND PRESENT.
Trump abruptly axes FBI's Comey in midst of Russia probe-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-May 9, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, dramatically ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an FBI investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's meddling in the election that sent him to the White House.In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI. Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his public comments on an investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year's campaign.Trump made no mention of Comey's role in the Clinton investigation, which she has blamed in part for the election result. But in announcing the firing, the White House circulated a scathing memo, written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, criticizing Comey's handling of the Clinton probe, including the director's decision to hold a news conference announcing its findings and releasing "derogatory information" about Clinton.Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the bureau's Trump-Russia probe, Rosenstein, his deputy, has been in charge.This is only the second firing of an FBI director in history. President Bill Clinton dismissed William Sessions amid allegations of ethical lapses in 1993.Democrats slammed Trump's action, comparing it to President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" decision to fire the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation in 1973, which prompted the resignations of the Justice Department's top two officials."This is Nixonian," Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., declared on Twitter. "Outrageous," said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, calling for Comey to immediately be summoned to testify to Congress about the status of the Trump-Russia investigation. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said the White House was "brazenly interfering" in the probe.Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Congress must form a special committee to investigate Russia's interference in the election.Democrats expressed deep skepticism about the stated reasons for Tuesday's firing, raising the prospect of a White House effort to stymie the investigations by the FBI and congressional panels.Trump will now appoint Comey's successor. The White House said the search for a replacement was beginning immediately. Comey's deputy, Andrew McCabe, would presumably take over in the interim.Trump has ridiculed the investigations as a "hoax" and has denied that his campaign was involved in Russia's meddling. In his letter to Comey, he asserted that the FBI director had informed him "on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation."Tuesday's stunning announcement came shortly after the FBI corrected aspects of Comey's sworn testimony on Capitol Hill last week. Comey told lawmakers that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, had sent "hundreds and thousands" of emails to her husband's laptop, including some with classified information.On Tuesday, the FBI told the Senate Judiciary Committee that only "a small number" of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices. Most of the email chains on the laptop containing classified information were not the result of forwarding, the FBI said.Some lawmakers did welcome news of the dismissal."Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well," said Republican Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating the Russian campaign interference.Comey, 56, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the FBI post in 2013 to a 10-year term, though that appointment does not ensure a director will serve the full term.Praised frequently by both parties for his independence and integrity, Comey has spent three decades in law enforcement.But his prominent role in the 2016 presidential campaign raised questions about his judgment and impartiality. Though the FBI did not recommend charges against Clinton for mishandling classified information, Comey was blisteringly critical of her decision to use a personal email account and private internet server during her four years as secretary of state.Comey strongly defended his decisions during the hearing last week. He said he was "mildly nauseous" at the thought of having swayed the election but also said he would do the same again.Clinton has partially blamed her loss on Comey's disclosure to Congress less than two weeks before Election Day that the email investigation would be revisited. Comey later said the FBI, again, had found no reason to bring any charges.Trump disagreed with Clinton's assessment, tweeting that Comey actually "was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!"Clinton's advisers were stunned by Trump's decision Tuesday. Former campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said that while he believed Comey had "inflicted severe damage" on the FBI, "the timing and manner of this firing suggest that it is the product of Donald Trump feeling the heat on the ongoing Russia investigation and not a well thought out response to the inappropriate handling of the Clinton investigation."Though Comey was well-liked within the bureau, his independent streak occasionally rankled the Obama administration, including his repeated contention that a spike in violent crime might be linked to police officer anxiety over public scrutiny.Before the past months' controversies, Comey, a former deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, was perhaps best known for a remarkable 2004 standoff with top officials over a federal domestic surveillance program.In March of that year, Comey rushed to the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to physically stop White House officials in their bid to get his ailing boss to reauthorize a secret no-warrant wiretapping program.Comey described the incident in 2007 testimony to Congress, explaining that he believed the spy program put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks was legally questionable.When he learned that Andrew Card, the president's chief of staff, and Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel, were heading to Ashcroft's hospital room despite Ashcroft's wife's instructions that there be no visitors, Comey told Congress, Comey beat them there and watched as Ashcroft turned them away."That night was probably the most difficult night of my professional life," Comey said.___AP writers Darlene Superville, Ken Thomas, Vivian Salama, Catherine Lucey and Sadie Gurman contributed to this report.Julie Pace And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press.
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog (RUSSIA/ARAB/MUSLIMS) a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers (EAST OF THE DEAD SEA IN JORDAN VALLEY) on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog (RUSSIAN) and all his multitude:(ARAB/MUSLIM HORDE) and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.(BURIEL SITE OF THE 300 MILLION,RUSSIAN/ARAB/MUSLIMS)
12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.(OF ISRAEL)
16 And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.(OF THE ISRAEL-GOD HATERS)
17 And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.(OF RUSSIAN/ISLAMIC HORDES AGAINST ISRAEL)
18 Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
19 And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
20 Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.
21 And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.
22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;(AGAINST ALL NATIONS ARMIES THAT COME AGAINST JERUSALEM AND ISRAEL)
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog,(RULER) the land of Magog,(RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal,(TOBOLSK) and prophesy against him,
3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech(MOSCOW) and Tubal:TOBOLSK)
4 And I (GOD) will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,(GOD FORCES THE RUSSIA-MUSLIMS TO MARCH) and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
5 Persia,(IRAN,IRAQ) Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
6 Gomer,(GERMANY) and all his bands; the house of Togarmah (TURKEY) of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.(AFRICAN MUSLIMS,SUDAN,TUNESIA ETC)
7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal: (TUBOLSK)
2 And I will turn thee back,(RUSSIA-ARAB MUSLIM ISRAEL HATERS) and leave but the sixth part of thee,(5/6TH OR 300 MILLION DEAD RUSSIAN/ARAB/MUSLIMS I BELIEVE) and will cause thee to come up from the north parts,(RUSSIA) and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands,( ARABS) and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
6 And I will send a fire on Magog,(NUCLEAR ATOMIC BOMB) and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.
Turkey slams 'occupation' of Jerusalem, draws Israel's ire-[Associated Press]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslims to stand up for the Palestinian cause, saying each day that Jerusalem remains under "occupation" is an insult to them. His words drew strong criticism from Israel.Speaking in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan also compared Israeli actions against Palestinians to those of South Africa under Apartheid and said the United States must drop plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.They were Erdogan's harshest words against Israel since the two countries reconciled last year and restored diplomatic ties to ambassadorial level.The Israeli Foreign Ministry accused Erdogan of "systematically" violating human rights and said he "should not preach morality."The ministry's spokesman Emmanuel Nashon said "Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians."
Macron's inauguration on Sunday-By EUOBSERVER
8. May, 11:58-Emmanuel Macron, who was elected French president on Sunday (7 May), will be inaugurated next Sunday (14 May), outgoing president Francois Hollande has announced. Hollande will hand over his powers and France's nuclear launch codes in the Elysee Palace. On Monday morning, the two men participated together in the commemoration of Nazi Germany's capitulation in 1945, at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
France's Macron joins ranks of world's youngest leaders-[Associated Press]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
PARIS (AP) — Emmanuel Macron, who is 39 years old, will join the ranks of the world's youngest leaders when he is inaugurated as president of France on Sunday. Other leaders past and present, elected and otherwise, were even younger when they came to power. Among the leaders who were under 45 when they took office are:— Moammar Gadhafi, Libya-The late Libyan leader was 27 when he seized power in 1969. The dictator held on to power until he was ousted in 2011. He was captured and killed a few months later.— Fidel Castro, Cuba-The Cuban revolutionary leader, who died last year, was 32 when his rebel forces took control of Cuba. He ruled for nearly five decades as one of the world's last communist leaders.— Kim Jong Un, North Korea-The North Korean leader is quite possibly the world's youngest ruler. But, like so much about his country, his exact age remains something of a mystery. He is thought to be 32 or 33. Kim, the third generation in North Korea's ruling dynasty, assumed power in December 2011 upon the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.—Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua-Ortega was 33 when he became a leader of the junta that ran Nicaragua after the Sandinista revolution ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza in July 1979. In November 1984, just before his 39th birthday, Ortega was elected president. He was voted out in 1990 and then won re-election in 2006, 2011 and 2016.— Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt-Nasser was 38 when he became president of Egypt in 1956. He nationalized the Suez Canal and championed the pan-Arab cause, becoming one of the world's most prominent anti-imperialist figures by the time of his death in 1970.—Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Iceland-In Iceland, Gunnlaugsson became prime minister at 38 in 2013. He resigned in 2016 after details of his offshore financial holdings were revealed in the Panama Papers leak.—Rajiv Gandhi, India-Gandhi was catapulted to India's highest office at age 40 when his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated in 1984. He began his premiership with promises of modernizing India's creaking government. Within a few years, he was forced to resign amid allegations of taking bribes in an arms deal. He was assassinated in 1991 while campaigning to return to office.— Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey-Ataturk, the revered founder of the Republic of Turkey, was 42 when he became the country's first president in 1923. The revolutionary leader's last name means "Father of the Turks."— John F. Kennedy, United States-Kennedy was the youngest person ever elected to the presidency of the United States. The wealthy senator and war hero was 43 when he took the oath of office in 1961. But he was not the youngest U.S. president ever — that was Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he took over after the assassination of President William McKinley.—Justin Trudeau, Canada-Trudeau was elected as Canada's prime minister in 2015, when he was 43. Like Rajiv Gandhi, he had a strong family connection to the office. His father, Pierre Trudeau, also served as prime minister.— Tony Blair and David Cameron, Britain-Blair was 43 when he was elected Britain's prime minister in 1997 — the country's youngest leader since 42-year-old Lord Liverpool in 1812. Cameron was also 43, but a few months younger than Blair, when he became Britain's leader in 2010. Things did not end well for either: Blair led the Labour Party to three straight victories, but was discredited for joining the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Cameron resigned last year after failing to convince Britons to remain in the European Union.
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 FIRST JUDGEMENT OF THE EARTH STARTED WITH WATER-IT ONLY MAKES SENSE THE LAST GENERATION WILL BE HAVING FLOODING
6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,
9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
GOD PROMISED BY A RAINBOW-THE EARTH WOULD NEVER BE DESTROYED TOTALLY WITH A FLOOD AGAIN.BUT FLOODIING IS A SIGN OF JUDGEMENT.
Police search for toddler, stepfather swept away in Quebec floods-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
(Reuters) - Debris-filled choppy waters on Monday kept divers from searching for a toddler and her stepfather who were swept away in a swollen Quebec river as the military battled to protect the flooded province.Quebec was in the grip of historic flooding, forcing more than 1,500 people in 146 communities to flee their homes, officials said. Canada's federal government has deployed 1,650 troops and 250,000 sandbags to the inundated province, the officials said.Montreal, Quebec's largest city, and several other municipalities have declared a state of emergency."It’s a serious situation, but people should know that every level of government is pulling together seamlessly to do everything necessary to keep Canadians safe," Ralph Goodale, public safety minister, told reporters in Ottawa.The man and 2-year-old girl were swept away after their car swerved into the Sainte-Anne River, a tributary of the Saint Lawrence River in the province's eastern Gaspé region, on Sunday evening, a Quebec police spokesman said.The man, the girl and the child's mother had climbed onto the roof of the vehicle but choppy waters flipped the car over, sending all three into the water, Sgt. Claude Doiron said.The woman hung onto a branch, escaped, then was taken to the hospital. She was released from the hospital Sunday evening but her husband and toddler were swept away and remained missing as of Monday afternoon, police said.About 30 police officers and firefighters patrolled the river banks as the severe weather made it impossible to use helicopters. Divers headed to the scene Monday afternoon but conditions were expected to be too harsh for them to enter the water, Doiron said.The floodwaters were expected to peak in Montreal later on Monday, Quebec Public Safety Minister Martin Coiteux told reporters. The Red Cross asked for donations to provide emergency aid to more than 1,500 displaced by the floods."We couldn't save anything," Mina Tayarani, 53, whose family moved from Iran in 2004, told Reuters while standing outside her Montreal home. "Now we have to start from zero a second time,"Approximately 60 mm (2.4 inches) of rain fell in eastern Ontario and western Quebec late last week.(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Dan Grebler, Bernadette Baum and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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
OH BY THE WAY WHEN THE MEDIA SAYS ALLU-AK-BAR MEANS GOD IS GREAT LIE. IN ISLAM ALLU-AK-BAR MEANS OUR GOD IS GREATER OR GREATEST. THIS IS HOW THE MEDIA SUCK HOLES UP TO ISLAMIC-QURANIC-MUSLIMS. BY WATERING DOWN THE REAL MEANING OF THE SEX FOR MURDER DEATH CULT ISLAM. TO MAKE IT SOUND LIKE A PEACEFUL RELIGION (CULT OF DEATH AND WORLD DOMINATION).
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)
Syrian peace talks to reconvene in Geneva on May 16: U.N.[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
In a statement, de Mistura voiced hope that the agreement reached last week in Astana among Russia, Iran and Turkey to set up "de-escalation" zones in Syria will be implemented in full "thus bringing about a significant de-escalation in violence, and helping shape an environment conducive to the political intra-Syrian talks in Geneva".Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moualem said earlier on Monday that Damascus would abide by Russia's plan for such zones if rebels also observed it, adding that the insurgents should help drive Islamist militants from opposition-controlled areas.(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
Police slowly reopen Paris train station after security alert-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
PARIS (Reuters) - Police gradually began reopening Paris' Gare du Nord train station early on Tuesday morning after earlier evacuating the platforms and cordoning off the area because of a security alert, local police authorities said.A Reuters witness at the scene said there were between 20 to 30 police vans outside the station in central Paris with security forces wearing balaclavas and carrying assault weapons."End of security checks. Gradual return to normal," Paris police said in a tweet.Authorities gave no other details about the nature of the operation.Security has been stepped up across France because of Sunday's presidential runoff, which Emmanuel Macron won.Over the past two years, the country has been hit by a series of Islamist militant attacks in Paris and other cities in which more than 230 people have been killed.(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Marine Pennetier; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Conney)
Hundreds evacuated in Venezuela as tear gas seeps into homes-[Associated Press]-GERARD TORRES-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
MARACAIBO, Venezuela (AP) — Hundreds of people were evacuated from buildings in this big coastal city in western Venezuela on Monday after security forces fired tear gas during a clash with protesters and the gas spilled into homes, schools and a hospital.The protest turned violent when demonstrators were blocked by national guardsmen while trying to deliver a letter expressing their disdain for socialist President Nicolas Maduro's push to rewrite the nation's constitution.Protesters tried to get around the officers by finding another route but were pushed back by heavy clouds of tear gas in a raucous exchange that continued for more than an hour, witnesses said.Juan Diego Amado, an anti-government activist, said he entered one building housing a foundation housing about 300 children and elderly residents and found many coughing and in tears after inhaling the fumes.Volunteers rushed children still in diapers, others in strollers and the elderly in wheelchairs out of the building to hospitals for treatment. Amado said he helped about four children get to clear air, describing the image of them gasping to breathe as "heartbreaking for anyone."The clash came as Venezuelans unhappy with food shortages, triple-digit inflation and high crime were out in the streets again Monday after more than a month of protests demanding elections. The unrest began after the Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers, a decision it later reversed amid a torrent of international criticism.Tensions have heightened since Maduro began a push last week to hold a special assembly to rewrite the constitution. Opposition leaders charge the move is a ploy to keep the president and his allies in power.At least 38 people have been killed and more than 750 injured in the unrest.Continued protests in Venezuela's capital Monday resulted in 60 people being injured, said Ramon Muchacho, a Caracas-area mayor.Meanwhile, at the presidential palace, government officials met with political and religious leaders to discuss the planned constitutional assembly. Key opposition leaders refused to participate, contending that Maduro does not have the authority to call for a constitution rewrite without first putting the initiative to a vote by the general public.___Associated Press writer Christine Armario in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.
North Korea claims plot reveals US state-sponsored terrorism-[Associated Press]-ERIC TALMADGE-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
TOKYO (AP) — After arresting two American university instructors and laying out what it says was an elaborate, CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un, North Korea is claiming to be the victim of state-sponsored terrorism — from the White House.The assertion comes as the U.S. is considering putting the North back on its list of terror sponsors. But the vitriolic outrage over the alleged plan to assassinate Kim last month is also being doled out with an unusually big dollop of retaliation threats, raising a familiar question: What on earth is going on in Pyongyang? North Korea's state-run media announced Sunday that an ethnic Korean man with U.S. citizenship was "intercepted" two days ago by authorities for unspecified hostile acts against the country. He was identified as Kim Hak Song, an employee of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.That came just days after the North announced the detention of an accounting instructor at the same university, Kim Sang Dok, also a U.S. citizen, for "acts of hostility aimed to overturn" the country. Their workplace is North Korea's only privately funded university and has a large number of foreign teachers, including Americans.What connection, if any, the arrests have to the alleged plot is unknown. But they bring to four the number of U.S. citizens now known to be in custody in the North."Obviously this is concerning," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday. "We are well-aware of it, and we are going to work through the embassy of Sweden ... through our State Department to seek the release of the individuals there."Sweden handles U.S. consular affairs in North Korea, including those of American detainees.The others are Otto Warmbier, serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts — he allegedly tried to steal a propaganda banner at his tourist hotel — and Kim Dong Chul, serving a 10-year term with hard labor for alleged espionage.The reported arrest of another "Mr. Kim" — the North Korean man allegedly at the center of the assassination plot — is more ominous.According to state media reports that began Friday, he is a Pyongyang resident who was "ideologically corrupted and bribed" by the CIA and South Korea's National Intelligence Service while working in the timber industry in Siberia in 2014. The Russian far east is one of the main places where North Korean laborers are allowed to work abroad.The reports say Kim — his full name has not been provided — was converted into a "terrorist full of repugnance and revenge against the supreme leadership" of North Korea and collaborated in an elaborate plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un at a series of events, including a major military parade, that were held last month.They allege Kim was in frequent contact through satellite communications with the "murderous demons" of the NIS and CIA, who instructed him to use a biochemical substance that is the "know-how of the CIA" and that the hardware, supplies and funds would be borne by the South Korean side.Kim Jong Un attended the military parade on April 15 and made several other appearances around that time to mark the anniversary of his late grandfather's birthday.The initial reports of the plot concluded with a vow by the Ministry of State Security to "ferret out to the last one" the organizers, conspirators and followers of the plot, which it called "state-sponsored terrorism."The North Korean reports also said a "Korean-style anti-terrorist attack" would begin immediately. Follow-up stories on the plot have focused on outraged North Koreans demanding revenge.It's anyone's guess what a "Korean-style" attack might entail.North Korea is known for its loud and belligerent rhetoric in the face of what it deems to be threats to its leadership, and the reference to ferreting out anyone involved in the plot could suggest not only action abroad but possible purges or crackdowns at home."I wonder if Kim Jong Un has become paranoid about the influence Americans are having on North Koreans, and about the possibility of U.S. action against him," said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst and North Korea expert at the RAND Corporation. "Will Kim increase his internal purges of North Korean elites? Will he focus on North Korean defectors, people who the regime would like to silence? Or will he do both?"Tensions between North Korea and its chief adversaries — the U.S. and South Korea — have been rising over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, as well as joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that include training for a possible "decapitation strike" to kill the North's senior leaders.Bennett noted that such training has been included and expanded upon in annual wargames hosted by South Korea, which were bigger than ever this year.The wargames, called Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, just finished, without any signs of North Korean retaliation.But the current rhetoric from Pyongyang has a somewhat familiar ring to it. Case in point: the movie "The Interview" in 2014.In June that year, the North denounced the Seth Rogen comedy, which portrays the assassination of Kim Jong Un for the CIA by two American journalists, as "a most wanton act of terror and act of war." A few months later, hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment computers and released thousands of emails, documents, Social Security numbers and other personal information in an attempt to derail the movie's release.The U.S. government blamed North Korea for the attack. Pyongyang denies involvement, but has praised the hackers.The North's claims of a plot to kill Kim Jong Un with a biochemical agent also have an eerie similarity to the assassination of his estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam, at an airport lobby in Malaysia in February.In that attack, seen by many as orchestrated by the North, two young women who were allegedly tricked into thinking they were taking part in a television game show, rubbed the deadly VX nerve agent onto the face of the unsuspecting victim, who died soon after.___Talmadge is the AP's Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @EricTalmadge and Instagram at erictalmadge.
Verdict expected in blasphemy case against Jakarta's Christian governor-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court is expected to decide on Tuesday whether Jakarta’s Christian governor is guilty of blasphemy against Islam, in a trial that is widely seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.The government has been criticized for not doing enough to protect religious minorities but President Joko Widodo, a key ally of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, has urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process.Officials said thousands of police will be deployed in the capital in case clashes break out between Purnama's supporters and hardline Islamists who have demanded he be sacked and jailed over allegations he insulted the Islamic holy book, the Koran.“Both groups will have the opportunity to demonstrate, but we are taking steps to prevent clashes,” said national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.Purnama lost his bid for re-election in an April run-off – by far the most divisive and religiously charged election in recent years – to a Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan.He will hand over to Baswedan in October.Prosecutors have called for a suspended one-year prison sentence for Purnama. His opponents believe that is too light. The maximum sentence in five years. [L3N1HS25Y]“We hope the sentence given will be heavier than what has been called for,” said Novel Bamukmin, spokesman for the Islamic Defenders Forum (FPI), a conservative Islamic group that was instrumental in organizing mass protests against Purnama seeking re-election.Purnama has denied wrongdoing, though he apologized for comments he made last year criticizing his opponents’ use of the Koran in political campaigning.(This version of the story has been refiled to add Prunama's full name on first reference in second paragraph)(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Pressure on Shekau, Buhari's health led to Chibok girls' release-[AFP]-Aminu ABUBAKAR-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - Military pressure, in-fighting within Boko Haram and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's health combined to secure the release of 82 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, sources said Monday.The latest batch of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April 2014 were freed Saturday in a prisoner swap for three senior jihadist commanders, all of them Chadian nationals.A source with contacts among the Islamist militants under leader Abubakar Shekau said the students were handed over in a forest to the northeast of the town of Banki, on the border with Cameroon, after months of talks."Shekau kept unnecessarily dragging the negotiations to gain more leverage," the source, who has previously provided regular, reliable information on the jihadists, told AFP.But he was forced to accept terms after air strikes on his men in Balla village, on the edge of Sambisa Forest in Borno state, last month.Several of his senior commanders were killed in the April 28 attack and Shekau himself was said to have been injured, although he later denied it."The reason why the aerial bombing in Balla forced him to seal the deal was he had lost many commanders and badly needed replacements," the source said.Shekau then gave the green light to his negotiator, a Cameroon national stationed in a village on the other side of the border, to agree to the girls' release, he added.- Health concerns -Nigeria's government has refused to comment publicly on the prisoner swap deal and it is not clear whether any ransom was paid, making it difficult to assess how Shekau will benefit.Talks are already said to have started for the release of some or all of the 113 girls still being held in what would be a boost for Buhari and his government if successful.A security source involved in the negotiations said the talks took place over six weeks and involved an almost daily "back and forth" between the two sides."Boko Haram wanted money not the release of prisoners. For me, the release (of the girls) was more to do with the state of Buhari's health than Boko Haram pressure," he added.Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected on a promise to defeat Boko Haram and has been seen as giving impetus to the counter-insurgency. But there has been mounting concern about the 74-year-old's health after he spent nearly two months undergoing treatment in London and made few public appearances since March.On Sunday evening, he looked painfully thin when he met the 82 girls in Abuja then immediately flew to the British capital for another round of treatment for an undisclosed illness.- Greater intelligence -The source with contacts in Boko Haram said Shekau had became increasingly suspicious that some of his fighters were compromising their positions after the Balla bombing.He has even admitted to executing commanders he suspected of planning to switch sides to a rival faction, including his one-time ally Mustapha Chad and the group's spokesman Abu Zinnira.A senior military officer confirmed they were increasingly monitoring the jihadists, whose insurgency has killed at least 20,000 since 2009, and had improved "infiltration methods"."We foiled attempts to attack multiple locations in the past week, including Maiduguri, Konduga, Kumshe and Bama (all in Borno state), based on intelligence reports," he added.On Friday, troops repelled an attack on Guduf village outside Boko Haram's former stronghold of Gwoza.On Saturday, soldiers foiled a raid in Dar village, in the Madagali district of neighbouring Adamawa state, he said.- Factional clashes -Last August, the Islamic State group said the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, Abu Mus'ab Al-Barnawi, was the new leader of its "West Africa province".Shekau, who pledged allegiance to IS in March 2015, has maintained he was still in charge.Mamman Nur, Shekau's former comrade and the mastermind of the August 2011 UN bombing in Abuja, is believed to be the one calling the shots in the Barnawi faction.The two sides have clashed, including on April 11 in Talala village, in the southeast of Borno state, over ownership of an arms dump in which 33 fighters were killed.Nur, who was a close ally of Mohammed Yusuf and seen as having links with Al-Qaeda affiliates in north Africa, is said to be gradually winning over Shekau's lieutenants and foot soldiers."He has put Shekau in a tight corner because his men are better trained and organised," said the head of the fishermen's union in Borno state, Abubakar Gamandi."Nur's men almost always subdue Shekau fighters in battle."Last week a large number of Shekau's fighters switched sides and arrived at Barnawi's headquarters at Tumbun Gini around Lake Chad, said Gamandi, who has a network of contacts in the region.
Egyptian air force destroys vehicles crossing border from Libya-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian air force destroyed a group of vehicles that crossed into Egypt from Libya loaded with smuggled weapons, the military said on Monday.It said on its Facebook page that 15 four-wheel-drive vehicles carrying weapons and other contraband had been destroyed in air raids over the past 48 hours.A video released by the military showed jets and helicopter gunships attacking targets in the desert. The military did not say who was driving the vehicles or give details of any casualties.In January, the interior ministry said at least eight policemen were killed when Islamist militants attacked a security checkpoint in Egypt's Western Desert.President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has launched the toughest crackdown on Islamists in Egypt's modern history since toppling President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.The air force action came as security forces killed eight militants they identified as members of the Muslim Brotherhood in a shootout in the country's south, according to the interior ministry.Egypt has outlawed the Brotherhood and designated it a terrorist group. The organisation maintains that its activities are peaceful and had no immediate comment.An interior ministry statement on Monday said those killed in the south included Helmi Saad Masri, whom it described as a prominent Brotherhood leader.The statement did not identify the exact location of the shootout but said police came under heavy gunfire while trying to approach the group and had to respond with force.Egypt last month declared a three-month state of emergency after two church bombings claimed by Islamic State killed more than 45 people.(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty and Nadine Awadalla; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Giles Elgood/Mark Heinrich)
Ex-wife of polygamous sect leader to open doors to secretive home-[Reuters]-By George Frey-YAHOONEWS-May 8, 2017
HILDALE, Utah (Reuters) - The Utah mansion where convicted pedophile and polygamous religious sect leader Warren Jeffs once lived is being purchased by one of his former wives, who hopes to make it a tourist attraction and home for people who have left the church.The house and adjacent buildings are part of a walled compound that straddles two blocks in the town of Hildale, a twin border community with Colorado City, Arizona, where many members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints lived.Jeffs, 61, was the spiritual head of the breakaway sect, which the mainstream Mormon Church has condemned for promoting marriage between young girls and older men. He is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two underage girls he had married.Photos of the sprawling mansion, whose estimated value is $1.2 million, reveal its 41 bedrooms, meeting and prayer rooms, dining rooms and two commercial-size kitchens.Brielle Decker, who said she was forced to be the 65th of Jeffs' 79 wives when she was 18 years old, is hoping to buy the mansion for a reduced price."Everything would flourish more if this thing was turned into something good," said Decker, who escaped from the FLDS five years ago. "That's my main goal."Decker, 31, has occupancy of the property while she raises funds to purchase it. The mansion is big enough for public events and to house ex-FLDS members transitioning to the outside world, she said.With its secretive history and proximity to Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, the house should attract inquisitive tourists, Decker said."We could do tours upstairs," she said, "and the middle floor, where the kitchens and the conference rooms are, could be used for events, a restaurant and a gift shop."Decker spent several months at the mansion while Jeffs, who was once on the FBI's most wanted list, eluded police. Their marriage was not considered legal, and she is planning to wed her fiance next month.Properties belonging to the sect were held in a trust that was established in the 1940s so that members could benefit from its shared assets in line with their religious beliefs. The state of Utah seized the trust in 2005 and is selling back its assets to FLDS members and ex-members.The compound is one of several FLDS sites sprinkled throughout Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and South Dakota.(Writing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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