23 Apr 2017

Fatah Calls for Day of Rage
The West Bank’s ruling party Fatah called on Palestinians to participate in a day of rage this Friday in support of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Maan, a Palestinian news agency, reported on Saturday that Fatah is urging Palestinians “to clash with the occupier at all friction points.” More than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, led by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted of five counts of murder, are carrying out a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

Report: Pro-Assad militia base targeted in alleged Israel airstrike
The IDF struck a base belonging to a pro-Syrian militia near Quneitra early Sunday morning, al-Jazeera reported. In a statement released by The National Defense Forces (NDF), a pro-regime militia, the alleged Israeli strike targeted the Naba Fawar base, killing three fighters and wounding two others. The unconfirmed airstrike comes after the army confirmed that the IDF struck several positions in Syria following projectiles which landed in Israel’s Golan Heights on Friday…

Report: Global antisemitism drops 12%, but surges by 45% on US campuses
While violent incidents of antisemitism dropped 12% worldwide in 2016, US campuses saw a surge of 45% in antisemitism, according to data released Sunday…One of the most startling findings is a 45% increase in antisemitism on US campuses, which the report stated have become a hot-bed for antisemitism, often under the guise of anti-Zionism and due to increased pro-Palestinian movements, such as BDS on campuses.

Russian chief rabbi: France’s Jews should leave if Le Pen wins election
Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar called on French Jews to leave their country if the far right politician Marine Le Pen is elected president next month…Le Pen recently called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and for making it illegal for French nationals to also have an Israeli passport — steps she said were necessary because of the principle of equality in order to facilitate similar limitations on Muslims.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reverses public sector pay cuts
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has reinstated bonuses and special allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut last September as part of austerity measures when oil revenues were low. The king fired his civil service minister and put him under investigation for abuse of office. He also named his son Prince Khalid as new ambassador to the US.

“Total Chaos” – Cyber Attack Feared As Multiple Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures
The U.S. power grid appears to have been hit with multiple power outages affecting San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Officials report that business, traffic and day-to-day life has come to a standstill in San Francisco, reportedly the worst hit of the three major cities currently experiencing outages…The cause of the outage has not yet been made clear, though given the current geo-political climate it is not out of the question to suggest a cyber attack could be to blame.

North Koreans Go Back to Work at Nuclear Site, Analysts Say
North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts who studied satellite images of the site, renewing concerns that a major weapons test could be imminent…From the commercial imagery dating from Wednesday, they noted what looked like trailers near the portal of a tunnel where they said North Korea appeared to have been preparing for a nuclear test, which would be its sixth.

North Korea says ready to strike U.S. aircraft carrier
North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific. U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

Germany AfD: Right-wingers set to move further right
The populist, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) has rejected a bid by its co-leader to move the party closer to the mainstream. Frauke Petry had wanted the AfD to seek coalition with other parties and reject extremist views but delegates in Cologne rejected her approach.

“The Retail Bubble Has Now Burst”: A Record 8,640 Stores Are Closing In 2017
“Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared. This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.” – Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitters CEO, March 2017

Central Banks Give “All Clear” To BTFD If French Election Upsets Market
“The central bank is ready for any shocks that should materialize [after the French election]… Intervening very quickly is really very easy now given the instruments we have… But as we have seen in similar cases, no need has really been observed. And the reason is that all market participants know that these instruments are there to be used.”

Did Russia Shoot Down US Missiles In Syria
“The missing [missiles] were either brought down by S-300 battery or were taken over by Russian electronic jamming and were plunged into the sea,” explains Dr. Karasik. “Now, this alternative theory means that the US and Russia have already clashed if you will—technically—with the use of the TLAMs (Tomahawk missiles) and then being intercepted or taken over by Russian control.”

Opposition: Missiles knock out hospital in Syria’s north
Missiles struck a medical center in Syria’s northern rebel-held province, putting the facility built underground for protection out of service and killing a number of its staff, opposition activists said Saturday.

Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in unrest
Thousands of Venezuelans dressed in white marched in the capital Saturday to pay homage to the at least 20 people killed in anti-government unrest in recent weeks.

22 Apr 2017

Netanyahu: If Palestinians want peace, ‘prove it’ by halting payments to terrorists
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that if the Palestinians truly desire peace with Israel, they must first “come clean” and put an end to “rewarding terrorism.” During a interview with Fox News television host Sean Hannity, Netanyahu claimed that the Palestinian Authority, lead by Mahmoud Abbas, has spent much of the financial aid they receive on paying terrorist and their families at the expense of the American tax-payer.

Russia complains to US over exclusion from Syria chemical probe
Russia has told the United States it regrets Washington’s opposition to letting its inspectors take part in an investigation into a chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this month, the foreign ministry said on Friday. It said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the two sides agreed to consider one more time an “objective investigation into the incident” under the aegis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

IDF strikes targets in Syria after projectile fire lands in Israel’s Golan
The IDF struck sources in Syria from where errant fire emanated and hit open areas on the northern Golan Heights on Friday afternoon, the military confirmed. Two rockets landed in open territory on the Golan Heights Friday afternoon. No damage or injuries were reported. According to initial estimates, the projectiles were thought to have been errant fire from fighting in the civil war across the border in Syria.

Afghan casualties in Taliban Mazar-e Sharif attack pass 100
More than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded in a Taliban attack on an army base on Friday, the defence ministry has confirmed. Fighting lasted for several hours near the city of Mazar-e Sharif in northern Balkh province. Insurgents targeted those leaving Friday prayers at the base’s mosque and others in a canteen, the army said.

US to honour ‘dumb’ Australia migrant deal
The United States has confirmed it will be going through with a migrant resettlement plan made with Australia. US President Donald Trump once called the deal, which was agreed under his predecessor, “dumb”. The agreement allows for up to 1,250 asylum seekers to Australia to resettle in the US.

German riot police deployed for AfD Cologne conference
Thousands of police officers are being deployed in Cologne, Germany, in case of violence at left-wing protests against an Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party conference there. The AfD, a populist right-wing and anti-Islam party, will seek to choose a new co-leader to take it up to a general election later this year. Demonstrators on Saturday carried banners saying “Block the Nazis”.

Communist Party membership numbers climbing in the Trump era
The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) has been receiving membership requests ever since Donald Trump was elected President…Since its establishment, the CPUSA has lived through the inter-war period and Cold War repression, which practically forced the organization underground. Of the country’s 300 million inhabitants, the organization currently has some 5,000 members nationwide.

US naval armada to be in Sea of Japan in days
The US supercarrier Carl Vinson will arrive in the Sea of Japan in days, Vice President Mike Pence said in Australia Saturday amid high tensions with North Korea. The Trump administration has been trying to clear the waters after sending out confusing messages concerning the whereabouts of the Vinson carrier group that supposedly was steaming toward North Korea last week.

Netanyahu: Palestinians need to stop paying terrorists
In an interview with Fox News, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed peace prospects with the Palestinians, saying, “I think the first test of peace is to say to them, ‘Hey, you want peace? Prove it. Confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism, stop paying terrorists.” The interview with Netanyahu was conducted by host Sean Hannity, who accompanied US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on his visit to Israel.

Trump orders review of financial rules to prevent future crises
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Treasury Department on Friday to examine two powers given to regulators to police large financial companies following the 2008 financial crisis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. In his first visit to the Treasury building, Trump signed two memos that analysts view as largely affirming existing priorities he has outlined.

Dutch ‘abortion boat’ arrives off Mexico
A Dutch sailing boat offering abortions, often in defiance of some country’s laws, arrived in international waters off Mexico, the organization crewing it said. The “Women on Waves” vessel was expelled from near Guatemala in February without carrying out a single pregnancy termination.

Russian Planes Buzz Alaska Four Nights in a Row
American and Canadian fighter planes scrambled to intercept two Russian TU-95 “Bear” bombers Thursday night, marking the fourth consecutive night of Russian probes near the Alaskan coast, U.S. defense officials said Friday.

US forces kill ISIS leader’s crony
A crony of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was tied to the deadly New Year’s nightclub bombing in Turkey was killed by US forces in Syria, the US Central Command announced Friday.

Trump Administration Begins Quiet Preparations For Government Shutdown
“Until this week, shutdown threat seemed very low as Congressional GOP leadership, appropriators hammered out spending agreements, were on same page as Democrats. That went sideways when White House pushed more confrontational approach on ObamaCare, immigration.”

Satellite Images Suggest North Korea May Have Resumed Nuclear Test Preparations
Satellite images of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 19 indicate that North Korea may have resumed preparations for a possible imm

Marine Le Pen gets poll boost after Paris attack as Donald Trump says her chances of victory have improved
Donald Trump has said the Paris terrorist attack would boost Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances after a last-minute poll gave her a modest increase in support.

Iran Wants to Import Tons of Uranium. Opponents of the Nuclear Deal Want the Trump Administration to Say No.
The Trump administration is facing pressure to definitively rule out a longstanding request by Iran to import 950 tons of natural uranium, according to government sources and proliferation experts who spoke to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Tehran has signaled it will petition again for the yellowcake next week at a quarterly meeting in Vienna regarding implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The enigma of Assad: How a painfully shy eye doctor turned into a murderous tyrant
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad never seemed cut out to be a dictator. As a young man, Assad—the second son of strongman president Hafez al-Assad—was so painfully shy that in conversation, “he wouldn’t look in your eye…he covered his mouth with his hands when he talked, and spoke in a low voice,” says Ayman Abdel Nour, a university friend.