Tuesday, April 17, 2018
SAUDI KINGS A HYPOCRITE-HATES TRUMP FOR JERUSALEM EMBASSY MOVE, BUT SUPPORTS US STRIKES AGAINST SYRIA.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE
Saudi king slams Trump for transferring US embassy to Jerusalem-At opening of Arab League summit, Salman says East Jerusalem is an 'integral part' of the Palestinian territories, denounces Iran for 'blatant interference' in other countries-By AFP and TOI staff -APR 15,18
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday opened an Arab League summit by criticizing US President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.“We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem,” the king said in a speech in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia.“East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories,” he added.US President Donald Trump in December bucked decades of US foreign policy by formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and setting in motion plans to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. The US has said the move would take place to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday.The announcement of the May opening for the embassy was welcomed by Israel and met with widespread anger among the Palestinians, prompting calls for enormous protest events, the largest of them planned for the Gaza Strip.Expected protests will also coincide with Nakba Day, a national day of Palestinian mourning marking the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding, commemorated every year on May 15.Salman also announced on a $150 million donation for the maintenance of Islamic heritage in East Jerusalem.“Saudi Arabia announces $150 million grant to support the administration of Jerusalem’s Islamic property,” the king told the Arab League meeting.Two weeks ago, Salman reaffirmed his nation’s support for the Palestinians in a conversation with Trump, Saudi state media said, a day after his son and heir apparent said Israel has a “right” to a homeland.Saudi Arabia and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations, but behind the scenes their ties appear to have improved in recent years in the face of what they see as a common Iranian threat.Speaking at Sunday’s summit, Salman also blasted Iran’s “blatant interference” in regional affairs.“We renew our strong condemnation of Iran’s terrorist acts in the Arab region and reject its blatant interference in the affairs of Arab countries,” the king said.Despite ostensible agreement over Iran, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians has long proved an obstacle to a full rapprochement with Saudi Arabia.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, seemed to indicate a notable shift in the kingdom’s official position in an interview published April 2 with US news magazine The Atlantic.The prince was asked by the magazine whether the “Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?”“I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation,” said the prince, who is on a three-week US tour.“I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” he added.In keeping with the terms of his kingdom’s regional peace proposal, the Saudi crown prince added that an agreement with the Palestinians was a prerequisite to formal relations. “But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations,” he said.Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has been the main sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative, which sees a peace treaty between Israelis and Palestinians as a condition for normalization with the entire Arab and Muslim world.
Israel says it destroys Hamas tunnel network in Gaza-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Sunday it has destroyed a Gaza attack tunnel built by Hamas militants that penetrated Israeli territory.Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the new Hamas tunnel was connected to a network dug in the northern Gaza Strip and entered Israel near the Israeli community of Nahal Oz. It's the fifth such Hamas tunnel Israel has destroyed in as many months.Conricus said the tunnel was adjacent to the site of recent mass protests, which Israel says Hamas is using as a cover for attacks.Conricus said Hamas began building the tunnel following the 2014 war. Israel has placed a high priority on halting the tunnel threat since Hamas infiltrated Israel during the war. Although they did not manage to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations caught Israel off guard, with one attack killing five soldiers, and terrified the local population.In two weeks of protests, 28 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,500 wounded by Israeli fire. The marches have been organized by Gaza's militant Hamas rulers, but large turnouts on two preceding Fridays were also driven by Gaza's dire living conditions and desperation among the territory's 2 million residents, who have been enduring a crippling border closure by Israel and Egypt since 2007.Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said this was the longest and deepest tunnel Israel has discovered thus far."It's a tunnel that cost millions of dollars to dig, money that instead of going to ease the hardship of Gaza's residents has sunk in the sand," he said. "Residents of Gaza: Hamas is burning your money on tunnels to nowhere."Hamas had no immediate comment.Israel is erecting a subterranean barrier to detect and prevent attack tunnels. Israel says the barrier, as well as new technological innovations, have rendered the Hamas tunnel project futile.Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008. During the most recent conflict in 2014, Israel destroyed 32 tunnels.The Associated Press.
IDF to shutter West Bank, Gaza Strip crossing points ahead of Independence Day-From midnight Monday, movement by Palestinians from Palestinian Territories into Israel to only be permitted for 'humanitarian' reasons-By Stuart Winer-APR 15,18-TOI
The army said Sunday that it will enforce a total shut down of all crossing points into Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a security precaution ahead of the upcoming Independence Day celebrations.“In accordance with instructions from the government and a situations assessment by the IDF, a general closure will be placed on Judea and Samaria, and all the border crossings between the Gaza Strip will be closed from Monday, April 16,” the IDF said in a statement, using the Hebrew term for the West Bank region.The army said the closure will begin at midnight Monday evening.Israeli citizens will be permitted to move between the West Bank and Israel. Israeli civilians are not permitted to enter the Gaza Strip at any time.“The closure will be lifted on April 19 at midnight Thursday, in keeping with a situations assessment,” the statement said.During the closures, movement through crossings will be permitted on a humanitarian basis, for doctors and special circumstances, on approval by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the army noted.On Tuesday night, Israel begins marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers with events continuing on Wednesday. On Wednesday night, the country will begin celebrations for Israel’s 70th Independence Day, which will continue through Thursday.
Former FBI head: assumption Clinton would win a factor in email probe-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former FBI Director James Comey said his assumption that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election was a factor in opening an inquiry into her emails, according to part of an ABC interview broadcast on Saturday.The controversy involved Clinton’s use of a private email server for official correspondence when she was secretary of state under then-President Barack Obama, including for messages that were later determined to contain classified information.Although the FBI ultimately decided not to refer Clinton’s case for prosecution, Democrats said Comey’s announcement damaged her with voters right before the election, and he faced complaints that his moves were politically motivated."I don’t remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and so I’m sure that it was a factor,” Comey said in an excerpt of an interview aired on Saturday."I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out," Comey added.Comey, who was fired by Republican President Donald Trump last May, is doing a series of media interviews that coincide with the release next week of his book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership."Trump, who criticized Comey repeatedly before and after he fired him, denounced him on Twitter on Friday: "James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR," he said. [nL1N1RQ0L7](Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Trump: All lawyers 'deflated' by FBI raid on Michael Cohen-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that all lawyers are now "deflated and concerned" by the FBI raid on his personal attorney Michael Cohen's home and office."Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past," he tweeted. "I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!"The raid carried out last Monday sought bank records, records on Cohen's dealing in the taxi industry, Cohen's communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments he made in 2016 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and to porn actress Stormy Daniels, people familiar with the investigation into Cohen told The Associated Press.Trump has been enraged by the raid, calling it an "attack on the country."Lawyers for Cohen appeared in federal court in New York on Friday asking that they, not the Department of Justice, be given a first crack at reviewing the seized evidence to see if it was relevant to the investigation or could be forwarded to criminal investigators without jeopardizing attorney-client privilege.Prosecutors contend that Cohen was "performing little to no legal work" for Trump. They acknowledged that the investigation was referred by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but was being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demurred when asked Sunday on ABC's "This Week" if Trump was worried that Cohen might agree to work with prosecutors, if charged, to reduce his own punishment."Look, the president is very confident in the fact that he has done nothing wrong and he can't speak on behalf of anyone else, but he's very confident in what he has and hasn't done," Sanders said. "And he's going to continue focusing and fighting for the American people."Cohen, who didn't attend Friday's hearing, was ordered to appear in federal court on Monday to help answer questions about his law practice. He has denied wrongdoing.Both McDougal and Daniels say they had affairs with a married Trump, which the president has denied.Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Sunday that his client will attend Monday's hearing. In a tweet, he also responded to Trump's comment about how "all lawyers" are feeling after the Cohen raid."To be clear - I am not "deflated and concerned". I am "elated and hopeful," Avenatti wrote. "The events of the last week reinstill the belief that NOBODY is above the law and the attorney-client privilege cannot be used by those in power to hide criminal conduct."The Associated Press.
After Ghouta, Syria army eyes rebels in Daraa, on Israel’s border-Regime forces expected to target area that was the cradle of uprising and a stronghold for Western-backed non-jihadist rebels-By Layal Abou Rahal and Rim Haddad-TOI-APR 15,18
AFP — The capture of Eastern Ghouta is a significant milestone for Syria’s regime and paves the way for government troops to shift south to where the seven-year uprising first began: Daraa, the province that touches Israel’s border.After securing the capital from deadly rockets that once rained in from its suburbs, Syrian President Bashar Assad now has forces ready to redeploy elsewhere in the war-ravaged country.The Islamists and jihadists that hold the northwest province of Idlib remain a threat, but analysts say Assad’s priority will likely be the southern province of Daraa, where protests against his rule first broke out in 2011.After losing swathes of territory to rebels, Syria’s army has regained control of more than 55 percent of the country with crucial help from its ally Russia, according to analyst Fabrice Balanche.Its most recent victory is in Ghouta: the one-time rebel bastion that has now been neutralized after a blistering air and ground assault and the Russia-brokered evacuation of thousands of rebels and civilians. Part of the assault included an alleged chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma that killed dozens and injured hundreds.“The liberation of Eastern Ghouta means lifting the security and military threat posed to Damascus,” said Bassam Abou Abdallah, who heads the Damascus Centre for Strategic Studies.“After Ghouta, it’s likely the Syrian government will head south — the current situation in Daraa must be finished off,” he told AFP.The regime said it had retaken Eastern Ghouta on Saturday after a nearly two-month assault that killed more than 1,700 civilians and the evacuation deals that saw rebels and civilians bussed up to northern Syria.‘Real problem’ of Daraa-With Ghouta now taken care of, the only risk posed to Damascus stems from a few southern districts still held by the Islamic State group, including the Yarmouk Palestinian camp.Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the government, said the army will seek to “finish off” those districts, but analysts believe the regime’s real interest lies elsewhere.“Maintaining some IS pockets serves the regime’s narrative in order to reconquer the rest of Syrian territory,” said Julien Theron, a professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.He said the regime could redeploy troops to reinforce other fronts against rebels, including Daraa which he described as a “real problem.”The vast Daraa province lies south of Damascus and also shares borders with Jordan and the Israeli part of the Golan Heights.Non-jihadist rebels, backed by the United States and Jordan, hold nearly three-quarters of it and parts of the provincial capital, also called Daraa.“The regime has been focusing on Daraa province for a long time, trying to break through rebel territory to reach the city,” said Theron.“Rebels control Syria’s southern border, which has undermined the regime’s image of being the master of its own territory,” he added.Retaking the Nasib border crossing with Jordan, held by rebels since 2015, is a particular prize as it could bring financial rewards for a cash-strapped regime.In the past, the crossing has been a key transit point for trade between Syria, Jordan and the countries of the Gulf.Ghouta ‘lesson’ for rebels-But analysts also say Assad’s regime will have to avoid any escalation with Israel.“The areas in the south of Syria are particularly sensitive because they are located between Damascus on the one hand, and the Jordanian and Israeli borders on the other,” analyst Sam Heller said.“Any military action could affect the national security of the three countries,” said the researcher at the International Crisis Group.Thomas Pierret, a Syria specialist at the University of Edinburgh, said Daraa was the obvious next step for the regime after Ghouta, over Idlib.“Daraa is probably more urgent for economic reasons and reopening trade with Jordan,” he estimated.Assad has repeatedly pledged to recapture “every inch” of Syrian territory lost to armed groups since 2011. And while Idlib is surely in his sights, analysts said the province’s complex dynamics could put it further down his priority list.Idlib is held by an array of rebel, Islamist, and jihadist forces that have at various times united or fought each other in battles for influence.Taking such forces head-on could prove too costly for Assad’s army, said Theron. Furthermore, Idlib lies on the border with Turkey and has been the subject of negotiations between Ankara and Moscow, said Heller.“Until further notice, Idlib is not one of the Damascus regime’s goals, as it is hostage to global political calculations more than military ones,” said Heller.“Idlib’s fate is linked to what is happening behind the scenes in the agreements between Turkey and Russia,” he told AFP.From Damascus, Abou Abdallah said he expected the same tactic used to seize Ghouta will apply to reconquer Daraa and Idlib: “military pressure to reach a settlement, or settlement without military pressure.”Ghouta’s “fall at that speed should be a lesson to both Idlib in the north and Daraa in the south.”Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
PROOF HALF ON EARTH DIE DURING THE 7 YR TRIBULATION PERIOD (8 BILLION ON EARTH)
REVELATION 6:7-8 (8 BILLION- 2 BILLION = 6 BILLION)
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse:(CHLORES GREEN) and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth,(2 BILLION) to kill with sword,(WEAPONS) and with hunger,(FAMINE) and with death,(INCURABLE DISEASES) and with the beasts of the earth.(ANIMAL TO HUMAN DISEASE).
REVELATION 9:15,18 (6 BILLION - 2 BILLION = 4 BILLION)
15 And the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels were loosed,
18 By these three was the third part of men killed,(2 BILLION) by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.(NUCLEAR ATOMIC BOMBS)
HALF OF EARTHS POPULATION DIE DURING THE 7 YR TRIBULATION.(THESE VERSES ARE JUDGEMENT SCRIPTURES NOT RAPTURE SCRIPTURES)
LUKE 17:34-37 (8 TOTAL BILLION - 4 BILLION DEAD IN TRIB = 4 BILLION TO JESUS KINGDOM) (HALF DIE DURING THE 7 YR TRIBULATION PERIOD JUST LIKE THE BIBLE SAYS)(GOD DOES NOT LIE)(AND NOTICE MOST DIE IN WAR AND DISEASES-NOT COMETS-ASTEROIDS-QUAKES OR TSUNAMIS)
34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken,(IN WW3 JUDGEMENT) and the other shall be left.(half earths population 4 billion die in the 7 yr trib)
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken,(IN WW3 JUDGEMENT) and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken,(IN WW3 JUDGEMENT) and the other left.
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.(Christians have new bodies,this is the people against Jerusalem during the 7 yr treaty)(Christians bodies are not being eaten by the birds).THESE ARE JUDGEMENT SCRIPTURES-NOT RAPTURE SCRIPTURES.BECAUSE NOT HALF OF PEOPLE ON EARTH ARE CHRISTIANS.AND THE CONTEXT IN LUKE 17 IS THE 7 YEAR TRIBULATION OR 7 YR TREATY PERIOD.WHICH IS JUDGEMENT ON THE EARTH.NOT 50% RAPTURED TO HEAVEN.
MATTHEW 24:37-42 (THESE ARE JUDGEMENT SCRIPTURES-SURE NOT RAPTURE SCRIPTURES)
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken,(IN WW3 JUDGEMENT) and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken,(IN WW3 JUDGEMENT) and the other left.
42 Watch therefore:(FOR THE LAST DAYS SIGNS HAPPENING) for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
JEREMEIAH 49:35-37 (IN IRAN AT THE BUSHEHR OR ARAK NUKE SITE SOME BELIEVE)
35 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam,(IRAN/BUSHEHR NUCLEAR SITE) the chief of their might.(MOST DANGEROUS NUKE SITE IN IRAN)
36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven,(IRANIANS SCATTERED OR MASS IMIGARATION) and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.(WORLD IMMIGRATION)
37 For I will cause Elam (IRAN-BUSHEHR NUKE SITE) to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger,(ISRAELS NUKES POSSIBLY) saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:(IRAN AND ITS NUKE SITES DESTROYED)
1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.(DAMASCUS FRYED TO A PULP)
11 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
12 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations,(USELESS U.N) that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 And behold at evening tide trouble; and before the morning he is not.(ASSAD KILLED IN OVERNIGHT RAID) This is the portion of them that spoil us,(ISRAEL) and the lot of them that rob us.
SIGNS IN THE SUN, MOON AND STARS-CHEMICAL WEAPONS
11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences;(BIOLOGICAL/CHEMICAL/NUCLEAR) and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
25 And there shall be signs in the sun,(HEATING UP-SOLAR ECLIPSES) and in the moon,(MAN ON THE MOON-LUNAR ECLIPSES) and in the stars;(ASTEROIDS-PROPHECY SIGNS) 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)
Ice pellets and freezing rain hammer southern Ontario for second day in a row-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
TORONTO — More than 25,000 people were without power in southern and central Ontario Sunday morning as the region was hit by another round of freezing rain and ice pellets.Environment Canada issued weather warnings for the entirety of the region for the second day in a row, advising that strong winds could exacerbate already dangerous conditions.Provincial power utility Hydro One says it has extra crews on standby to address outages as the massive, slow-moving storm system hammered an area that stretches from Windsor, Ont., into Quebec and from Lake Ontario to North Bay.Ontario Provincial Police have said there were more than 550 crashes on highways surrounding Toronto on Saturday — none of them fatal — and that there had been dozens more early Sunday.Wind warnings have been issued with gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour forecast for the Hamilton area — strong enough to cause property damage and further power outages.Environment Canada says the freezing rain and ice pellets will change to solid rain later in the day as temperatures rise, starting in the west and moving east.Toronto's Pearson Airport is advising travellers to check the status of their flights before leaving. More than 250 flights were cancelled Saturday and another 233 early Sunday morning.Motorists who cannot avoid going out today are urged to be extra cautious due to what are likely to be treacherous road conditions.The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is also warning that some creeks and rivers could flood by late tonight due to the heavy rain.The Canadian Press.
Brace for a rough Monday, an ice storm is about to bear down on southern Quebec-[CBC]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
A miserable cocktail of wintry weather is about to batter the province.Environment Canada issued a warning Sunday morning for what it is calling a "significant event of freezing rain." The warning is in effect for most of southern Quebec.Snow and ice pellets are expected to change to freezing rain late this evening.The weather is likely to make for a messy commute Monday morning.Environment Canada expects between 10 and 20 millimetres of freezing rain will fall by the time the storm moves on Monday night and it is likely the kind of freezing rain that will coat roads and sidewalks and pull down tree branches."Going to work on Monday morning may be chaotic and by the end of the day it could be even worse if we end up with 24 hours of freezing rain," said Environment Canada metrologist Steve Boily."I don't want to be an alarmist, but it's not a scenario to exclude."A little late, isn't it? The storm will head east Monday and Tuesday, bringing snow or freezing rain to Quebec City and the Gaspé region.If you think it feels a little late in the year to be preparing for an ice storm, you're not wrong.The last time a storm like this hit Quebec in mid-April was in 2007, according to Boily.Transport Quebec says it will be ready with snow-clearing and salting equipment for highways.More than 550 crashes were reported across and around the Greater Toronto Area as parts of Ontario felt the full force of freezing rain, snow and ice pellets Saturday. The majority of those crashes were single vehicle involving cars sliding off the road.Flights cancelled, delayed-Hundreds of flights into and out of Toronto's Pearson airport, including several originating in Montreal, were also cancelled or delayed.Montreal-Trudeau airport was not reporting any issues this morning, but travellers are advised to check the status of their flight before making their way to the airport.Rain is in the forecast the rest of the week in Montreal, though the temperature will climb up above zero and reduce the risk of freezing. Here's what the rest of the week is expected to look like: - Monday: Freezing rain changing to rain in the evening. High -1 C. - Tuesday: Periods of rain. High 6 C. - Wednesday: Showers. High 9 C. - Thursday: Rain. High 6 C - Friday: Cloudy with a 60 per cent chance of showers. High 8 C.
ian Press]-YAHFlights cancelled, roads treacherous amid spring snowstorms-[The CanadOONEWS-April 15, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS — A storm system stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes has buffeted the central U.S. with heavy snow, winds, rain and hail, forcing flight cancellations, creating treacherous road conditions and killing at least three people, including a sleeping 2-year-old Louisiana girl.In the Upper Midwest, the early spring storm brought heavy snow to a region pining for sunshine and warmth. All flights were grounded for about eight hours at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as a blizzard made it difficult to keep runways clear and planes deiced, resulting in nearly 470 cancelled flights. Blizzard conditions forced the airport in South Dakota's biggest city, Sioux Falls, to remain closed for a second straight day.The Minnesota Twins home game against the Chicago White Sox was snowed out Saturday, marking the first back-to-back postponements of baseball games in the stadium's nine seasons. Sunday's game was also called off because of the storm, which by Saturday night had buried Minneapolis under more than 13 inches of snow (33 centimetres ). The Yankees and Tigers were rained out Saturday in Detroit.Authorities closed several highways in southwestern Minnesota, where no travel was advised, and driving conditions were difficult across the southern half of the state. The National Weather Service predicted that a large swath of southern Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, could get up to 20 inches of snow (51 centimetres ) by the time the storm blows through on Sunday."It's a cool experience for me, the best Minneapolis experience," Niko Heiligman, of Aachen, Germany, said as he braved the snow Saturday to take a walk along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. "I'm only here for the weekend, so I guess that's how it goes. There's snow and it's cold. So it's good."The storm is expected to persist through Sunday in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan before moving into New York state and New England.Up to 18 inches (46 centimetres ) of snow had fallen by early Saturday in parts of northern Wisconsin, with another 14 inches (36 centimetres ) expected by Sunday evening. Winds of up to 55 mph (88.5 kph) caused blowing and drifting snow, along with ice shoves in Green Bay.The National Weather Service also warned of potential coastal flooding along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Illinois, where Chicago residents were warned that waves could reach as high as 18 feet (5.5 metres ).Snow and wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) were whipping through parts of South Dakota for a second straight day Saturday, causing blizzard conditions that made travel all but impossible. While the blizzard warning was lifted in the western part of the state, it remained in effect for much of southern and eastern South Dakota.No travel was advised in Sioux Falls, where police said the blowing snow made it hard to see anything. Several inches of snow fell in various parts of the state, including 18 inches (46 centimetres ) in the eastern South Dakota city of Huron.The storm and powerful winds knocked out power to thousands of customers in Michigan, which was expected to get more snow and ice through the weekend.Two storm-related deaths occurred early Saturday. In Louisiana, winds downed a tree onto a mobile home in Haughton, killing a sleeping 2-year-old girl inside, according to the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office. In Wisconsin, a woman was killed when she lost control of the minivan she was driving on a slippery highway and struck an oncoming SUV near Lewiston. Three passengers in the minvan and the SUV driver were hospitalized.On Friday, a truck driver from Idaho lost control of his rig on snow-covered Interstate 80 near Chappell in western Nebraska and slammed into a semi that had become stranded, according to the Nebraska State Patrol. He died at the scene.In Arkansas, a tornado ripped through the tiny Ozark Mountain town of Mountainburg on Friday, injuring at least four people and causing widespread damage. Video showed uprooted trees, overturned cars, damaged buildings and downed power lines. Powerful winds also damaged several buildings at the University of Central Arkansas, though no injuries were reported there.The storm made its mark in Texas, too, where hail the size of hen eggs fell on areas south of Dallas and Fort Worth, according to meteorologist Patricia Sanchez. In Austin, fire officials said strong winds helped spread the flames after lightning struck two houses that suffered heavy damage.___Associated Press writers Chevel Johnson in New Orleans, Jamie Stengle in Dallas, Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, Don Babwin in Chicago and Tom Davies in Indianapolis contributed to this report.Steve Karnowski, The Associated Press.
Netanyahu praises West for Syria strike, urges similar policy against Iran-PM tells British counterpart that the same mindset regarding Assad's chemical weapons should be applied to prevent 'terrorist states' from acquiring nuclear abilities-By TOI staff and Agencies-APR 15,18
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised his counterparts in the United Kingdom and France for joining US President Donald Trump in airstrikes on Syrian military facilities said to be linked to the country’s chemical weapons program.Netanyahu said he had spoken on the phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday evening and called for a similar policy to be adopted against Iran’s nuclear program.“I told her that the important international message of the attack is zero tolerance for the use of non-conventional weapons,” Netanyahu told ministers at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. “I added that this policy needs to also be expressed in preventing terrorist states and groups from having nuclear abilities.”“I reiterated that the main element that is subverting the Middle East more than any other is Iran, and that President Assad must understand that when he allows Iran and its proxies to establish a military presence in Syria, he is endangering both Syria and the stability of the entire region,” he added.Echoing a previous comment he made on Saturday, Netanyahu said that “Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Israel welcomes the participation of British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron in this action.”Trump announced the joint action against Assad’s regime from the White House late Friday. He said the strikes were a direct response to the April 7 attack on Douma, outside Damascus, that rescuers and monitors say killed more than 40 people.“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,” Trump said.US Defense Secretary James Mattis called the strikes a “one-time shot” with no additional military action planned for now.Israel was informed ahead of the strikes, sources said.On Saturday, Netanyahu said Israel “fully supports” the pre-dawn airstrikes.In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, he said, “A year ago, I made clear that Israel fully supports the decision by [US] President [Donald] Trump to stand against the use and spread of chemical weapons,” referring to American strikes against the Syrian regime in April 2017 after a sarin gas attack on a rebel-held town.“Trump’s resolve and Israel’s support remain unchanged,” Netanyahu said.Netanyahu said that it should be “clear to President Assad that “his reckless efforts to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, his wanton disregard for international law and his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endanger Syria.”But Israeli security chiefs made clear on Saturday night that Israel fears the Trump Administration will now consider that its work in Syria is done, and leave Israel alone to face the dangers posed by Iran’s growing military presence in Syria.Israel’s defense chiefs are also reportedly worried that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, seeing Syria under US-led attack, may provide Assad with more advanced air defense systems — which could reduce Israel’s air supremacy in the skies of Syria and Lebanon. A Russian general indicated such an arms supply was possible in comments on Saturday.The Western strikes were the biggest foreign military action so far against Syria’s regime.The targets included a scientific research facility near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs, and a third location near Homs that contained both a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility, the US military said.The facilities hit had however reportedly been evacuated in recent days.Syrian state media reported only three people injured, while Russia’s defense ministry said there were “no victims” among Syrian civilians and military personnel.The strikes were targeted to inflict maximum damage on sites linked to chemical weapons development. A top Pentagon official, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, said the action would set back Syria’s chemical weapons program “for years.”On Saturday, Trump hailed the US-led missile assault as perfectly executed.“A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military,” Trump tweeted early Saturday.“Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White later told reporters: “We successfully hit every target.”Assad, who has denied ever using chemical weapons against his opponents, responded to the strikes with a defiant vow. “This aggression will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country,” he said.Assad’s key ally Iran also slammed the attack, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei describing Western leaders as “criminals.”-Iranian entrenchment-Though remarks by Israeli officials primarily praised the US-led strikes, they also expressed concern over Iran’s continued attempts to entrench itself in Syria and to develop nuclear weapons.Israel revealed on Friday that an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace in February was carrying explosives. The drone was launched from an airbase in Syria. That base was attacked last Monday, allegedly by Israel, in a strike that reportedly targeted Iran’s entire attack drone weapons system — prompting soaring tensions between Israel and Iran.The Iranian drone shot down in February was carrying enough explosives to cause damage, military sources said. Its precise intended target in Israel was not known, they said.The February incident marked an unprecedented direct Iranian attack on Israel. Israel’s acknowledgment of the nature of the drone’s mission “brings the confrontation” between Israel and Iran “into the open” for the first time, Israel’s Channel 10 news noted Friday.The alleged Israeli attack last week on the base from which the drone was dispatched is understood to have targeted Iran’s entire drone weapons system at the Syrian base, which was protected by surface-to-air missiles and other defenses, the TV report said. “This was a harsh blow” to the Iranians, it added. “It is clear they will react.”Immediately after shooting down the Iranian drone on February 10, Israel carried out airstrikes against a number of Iranian targets in Syria, including on the T-4 base in central Syria where the Iranian operator of the drone was located.During the aerial raids, an Israeli F-16 was downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft battery, crashing in northern Israel, prompting further retaliatory raids against Syria’s anti-aircraft systems. Both the Israeli pilots ejected from the aircraft before the collision.Netanyahu used a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day last week to warn Iran: “Don’t test the resolve of the State of Israel.”
Syria's Assad tells Russian lawmakers Western strikes were act of aggression-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a group of Russian lawmakers on Sunday that Western missile strikes on his country were an act of aggression.The meeting followed missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain against Syrian government targets over a suspected poison gas attack a week ago.Russia, which is helping Assad fight militants and rebels opposed to his rule, immediately condemned the strikes and called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council."From the point of view of the president, this was aggression and we share this position," Russia's TASS news agency quoted lawmaker Sergei Zheleznyak as saying after the meeting with Assad in the Syrian capital Damascus.The president was in a "good mood" and continuing his work in Damascus, agencies cited the lawmakers as saying, and praised the Soviet-era air defense systems Syria used to help to repel the Western attacks."The tripartite aggression against Syria accompanied a campaign of disinformation," Assad's office quoted him as saying on Sunday. Moscow and Damascus are "waging one battle, not only against terrorism" but also to protect the sovereignty of states, he told the Russian officials.Both countries have dismissed the reports of the alleged gas attack as bogus, accusing Washington of using it as a pretext for the strikes.A senior Russian military official said on Saturday that Syria's air defenses, which mostly consist of systems made in the former Soviet Union, had intercepted 71 of the 105 American, British and French missiles.The Pentagon has said the strikes successfully hit the three chemical weapons facilities which were targeted."Yesterday we saw American aggression. And we were able to repel it with Soviet missiles from the 70s," Russian lawmaker Dmitry Sablin quoted Assad as saying, TASS reported.Sablin also said Assad accepted an invitation to visit the Siberian region of Khanty-Mansi in Russia. It was not clear when the visit would take place.Russia said on Saturday it would consider supplying S-300 surface to-air missile systems to Syria following the Western strikes, but this was not discussed at the meeting with Assad, agencies reported.Assad also declined to comment on calls by the U.S. State Department to declare alleged Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons, Zheleznyak said.(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Additional reporting by Ellen Francis; Editing by Jane Merriman)
U.S. troops not leaving Syria until goals accomplished: Haley-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that the United States would not pull its troops out of Syria until its goals were accomplished.Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Haley listed three aims for the United States: ensuring that chemical weapons are not used in any way that pose a risk to U.S. interests, that Islamic State is defeated and that there is a good vantage point to watch what Iran is doing.It is our goal "to see American troops come home, but we are not going to leave until we know we have accomplished those things," Haley said.Trump, who on Friday joined France and Britain in ordering missile strikes against Syrian targets, has sent mixed signals on Syria.He has made clear he wants to withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria involved in the anti-Islamic State campaign. But he appeared to contradict that message when he said on Saturday that Western allies were prepared to "sustain" the military response if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not stop using prohibited chemical weapons.Asked about U.S.-Russia relations, Haley said ties were "very strained" but that the United States still hoped for a better relationship.(Reporting by Caren Bohan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
UK could launch retaliatory cyber attack on Russia if infrastructure targeted: Sunday Times-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain would consider launching a cyber attack against Russia in retaliation if Russia targeted British national infrastructure, the Sunday Times reported, citing unnamed security sources.Britain's relations with Russia are at a historic low, after it blamed Russia for a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England, prompting mass expulsions of diplomats.Russia has denied involvement, and on Saturday also condemned strikes against Syria by Western powers, which Britain took part in.Cyber security has become a focal point of the strained relations. On Thursday, a British spy chief said that his GCHQ agency would "continue to expose Russia's unacceptable cyber behaviour", adding there would be increasing demand for its cyber expertise.The Sunday Times also said that British spy officials had been preparing for Russia-backed hackers to release embarrassing information on politicians and other high-profile people since the attack on the Skripals.(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Allies keep Syria options open as Britain says no strikes planned-[Reuters]-By Elizabeth Piper and Laila Bassam-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
LONDON/DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Western powers have no plans for further missile strikes on Syria but will assess their options if Damascus uses chemical weapons again, Britain's foreign minister said on Sunday as debate raged over the legality and effectiveness of the raids.U.S., French and British missile attacks struck at the heart of Syria's chemical weapons program on Saturday in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack a week ago, and the three countries insisted they were not aimed at toppling President Bashar al-Assad or intervening in a seven-year civil war.The bombings, hailed by U.S. President Donald Trump as a success but denounced by Damascus and its allies as an act of aggression, marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and his ally Russia, whose foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called them "unacceptable and lawless".In Damascus, Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad met inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW for about three hours in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official.The inspectors were due to try to visit the site of the suspected gas attack. Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for their findings before attacking.As he left the hotel where the meeting took place, Mekdad declined to comment to reporters waiting outside.British Foreign Secretary (Minister) Boris Johnson defended Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to take part in the attack, saying it was to deter further use of chemical weapons."This is not about regime change … This is not about trying to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria," he told the BBC."There is no proposal on the table at the moment for further attacks because so far thank heavens the Assad regime have not been so foolish as to launch another chemical weapons attack.""If and when such a thing were to happen, then clearly with allies we would study what the options were," he said, echoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who told an emergency Security Council meeting that Trump told her that if Syria uses poisonous gas again, "The United States is locked and loaded."Asked if this meant Assad could carry on using barrel bombs and other means in the war provided he did not use chemical weapons, Johnson said that was the "unhappy" consequence.Assad was determined "to butcher his way" to an overwhelming victory and only the Russians could pressure him to come to the negotiating table in Geneva, Johnson said.British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the legal basis used to support the British role was debatable, adding that he would only support action backed by the UN Security Council."I say to the foreign secretary, I say to the prime minister, where is the legal basis for this?" Corbyn said in an interview with the BBC.The Western countries blame Assad's government for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7 that killed up to 75 people. Russia, whose ties with the West have sunk to levels of the Cold War-era, denies any gas attack in Douma and said Britain staged it to whip up anti-Russian hysteria."RESILIENCE"In Damascus, Assad told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the Western missile strikes were an act of aggression, Russian news agencies reported.Syria released video of the wreckage of a bombed-out research lab, but also of Assad arriving at work as usual, with the caption "Morning of resilience" and there were no immediate reports of casualties.The Russian agencies quoted the lawmakers as saying Assad was in a "good mood", had praised the Soviet-era air defense systems Syria used to repel the Western attacks and had accepted an invitation to visit Russia at an unspecified time.Russian Foreign Ministry official Vladimir Ermakov struck a apparently conciliatory tone on Sunday, saying Washington would want to maintain a dialogue with Moscow about strategic stability after the raids, Russian media reported."In the U.S. administration there are specific people who it is possible to talk with," said Ermakov, head of the ministry's department for non-proliferation and arms control.President Trump had said "Mission accomplished" on Twitter on Saturday following the strikes, although U.S. Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie at the Pentagon acknowledged elements of the program remain and he could not guarantee that Syria would be unable to conduct a chemical attack in the future.Russian and Iranian military help over the past three years has allowed Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.The United States, Britain and France have all participated in the Syrian conflict for years, arming rebels, bombing Islamic State fighters and deploying troops to fight the militants. But they have refrained from targeting Assad's government, apart from a volley of U.S. missiles last year.RED LINE BREACHED? The strikes suggest Trump may have reset America's red line for military intervention in Syria over the use of chemical weapons.In Washington, a senior administration official said that "while the available information is much greater on the chlorine use, we do have significant information that also points to sarin use" in the attack.Sarin had previously appeared to be the threshold for intervention. Chlorine, in contrast, has been used more widely in Syria's conflict without past U.S. reprisals, and the chemical is far easier to find and weaponize, experts say.Washington described the strike targets as a center near Damascus for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons; a chemical weapons storage site near the city of Homs; and another site near Homs that stored chemical weapons equipment and housed a command post.Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the attack a crime and the Western leaders criminals, while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all Security Council members to use restraint, but said charges of chemical weapons use demand investigation.Meanwhile, Pope Francis called on world leaders to renew efforts to bring peace to Syria, saying he was deeply troubled by their failure to agree on a joint plan to end the bloodshed.(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Tom Perry; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart, Jeff Mason, Steve Holland, Idrees Ali, Yara Bayoumy, Matt Spetalnick and Joel Schectman in Washington; Michelle Nichols in New York; Samia Nakhoul, Tom Perry, Laila Bassam, Ellen Francis and Angus McDowall in Beirut; Kinda Makieh in Barzeh; Michael Holden and Guy Faulconbridge in London; and Jean-Baptiste Vey, Geert de Clercq and Matthias Blamont in Paris; Andrey Ostroukh and Jack Stubbs in Moscow; Alison Bevege in Sydney,; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Adrian Croft and Alexander Smith)
North Korean leader meets Chinese senior official, fetes Chinese art troupe-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Chinese senior diplomat Song Tao, and feted a Chinese art troupe led by Song, North Korean state media said on Sunday, indicating closer ties with China following Kim's surprise visit to Beijing last month.The North Korean leader on Saturday "warmly" greeted Song Tao and the Chinese delegation visiting Pyongyang to perform and also expressed his greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping after Song conveyed Xi's greetings to Kim, the North's official Korea Central News Agency said."He said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China," the KCNA said.In late March, Kim made a rare visit to Beijing and met Xi, Kim's first known journey abroad since he took power in 2011.The Chinese art troupe, led by Song, the head of the Communist Party's International Department, left for North Korea on Friday for an April Spring Friendship Art Festival.The art troupe performed on Saturday at the Mansudae Art Theatre, and the North Korean leader Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju watched a ballet "Giselle," performed by the National Ballet of China, but Kim was not present, the KCNA said.At the meeting with Song, Kim also said the warm welcome was "due obligation and behavior of the host and close friend for him," and would offer "all conditions for the Chinese art troupe at the highest level and on a top-priority basis," according to the KCNA.That contrasts with Song's last visit to Pyongyang last November, when he was sent as Xi's special enjoy to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Party Congress. Song returned to Beijing without meeting Kim.North Korea's ties with China, its sole ally, had become strained over the past couple of years over the North's contentious missile and nuclear tests.Kim and Song also exchanged their views on deepening the bilateral relations, the KCNA said. Kim said he would develop their friendship into a "fresh phase of development as required by a new era by further strengthening of the bilateral relations."(Reporting By Jane Chung; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Turkey to get worst EU scorecard so far, officials say-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Turkey will on Tuesday receive the European Commission's most critical report since it launched its bid to join the European Union over a decade ago, with Brussels warning that years of progress towards membership were being lost, officials said on Saturday.With the exception of cooperation on Syrian refugees, Turkey and the European Union are drifting apart on human rights, press and judicial freedoms and the rule of law, the Commission, the EU executive, will say, according to two officials who declined to be named.The Commission on Tuesday publishes its annual report in Strasbourg to assess how far Turkey and other countries aspiring to EU membership have progressed in bringing their rules into line with EU standards and values.Excerpts of the EU report, first published by Germany's Welt am Sonntag and confirmed to Reuters by EU officials, showed the Commission concluded there was no basis for opening negotiations on new aspects of EU membership, meaning the process remained frozen."There is massive backsliding away from the European Union," one EU official involved in the report told Reuters.Warning of huge reverses on so-called fundamental freedoms such as the right to a fair trial and free speech, the report is set to continue the harsher tone the Commission adopted in its 2014 report, when it first raised concerns about the independence of Turkish judges.Turkey, a member of the NATO Western military alliance, began talks to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying.While a series of issues, notably Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, slowed negotiations, President Tayyip Erdogan's purge of police, judges, teachers and other officials since a coup attempt in 2016 has worsened Turkey's prospects dramatically, EU officials say.However, Erdogan said last month he remained committed to seeking EU membership. Turkey says the purge is necessary to combat threats to national security.(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Saudi condemns Iran amid Arab divisions over Syria strikes-[Reuters]-By Stephen Kalin and Sarah Dadouch-YAHOONEWS-April 15, 2018
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened a summit of Arab leaders on Sunday by condemning an old foe, Iran, without making any reference to missile strikes by Western powers on Syrian government targets over a suspected gas attack a week ago.Regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran have been locked in a decades-long struggle for supremacy that is being waged in proxy wars in several countries, including Yemen and Syria."We renew our strong condemnation of terrorist acts carried out by Iran in the Arab region, and we reject its blatant interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries," King Salman said in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, without giving specifics. Iran denies the charges.King Salman made no mention of Saturday's missile launch by the United States, Britain and France against three alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria. The Syrian government denies using - or possessing - chemical weapons and said the strikes were an act of aggression.Saudi Arabia and its allies expressed support for the strikes on Saturday, but Iraq and Lebanon have condemned them. Other countries like Jordan and Kuwait refrained from taking a position, instead renewing calls for a political solution to the multi-sided war which has killed at least half a million people in the past seven years.Military help over the past three years from Russia and Iran, which also backs Lebanon's Hezbollah group and Shi'ite Muslim militias in Iraq, has allowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.Saudi Arabia, which takes over the rotating chair of the Arab summit from Jordan, announced that the current gathering would be named the "Quds (Jerusalem) Summit", a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.King Salman said Saudi Arabia was donating $200 million to support the Palestinians, including $50 million for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).ARAB RIFT-Qatar did not send a senior official to the summit in a sign that its 10-month dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt is still a long way from being resolved.The four countries severed diplomatic and transport ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott is an attempt to impinge on its sovereignty.The Qatari delegation is being headed by Doha's permanent representative to the Arab League, Saif bin Muqaddam al-Buainain, Saudi's state news agency said, without elaborating.Most of the 22 other countries are represented by heads of state or government. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani headed Qatar's delegation at last year's summit in Jordan.Sheikh Tamim returned to Doha on Saturday from a U.S. trip where he met Trump. Trump publicly sided with the Saudis and Emiratis early in the crisis but is now pushing for a resolution to restore Gulf Arab unity and maintain a united front against Iran.Ahead of the summit, the four boycotting nations said their demands - including closing the Al Jazeera television station and reducing ties with Iran - were "a necessary basis" for a resolution to the crisis with Qatar.Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday the crisis would not be discussed at the meeting, Al Arabiya reported.(Writing by Maha El Dahan and Stephen Kalin; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous and Sonya Hepinstall)