23 Feb 2018

ANALYSIS: How Israel is intervening in Syria to contain Iran
We will probably witness a major war between Israel and the Iranian axis this year, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the commander of IDF Operations, said during an interview with Galatz, Israel’s Army Radio on Monday this week. “The year 2018 has the potential for escalation, not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration. This has led us to raise the level of preparedness,” according to Alo.

Fatah denies rumors of deterioration in Abbas’s health
The rumor started on American website Jewish Insider, which reported that Abbas was hospitalized at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after a short flight from New York, where he gave a speech to the UN Security Council earlier this week. During the speech, Abbas appeared to be unwell, further fueling the rumor.

Trump threatens to yank immigration enforcement from California
President Donald Trump angrily said Thursday that he is considering withdrawing immigration and border control enforcement agencies from California because of what he called the state’s “protection of horrible criminals.” Trump said crime would explode in California if he took such an action — and predicted that the Golden State would be “begging” for the return of federal immigration authorities within two months.

Vice President Invokes Billy Graham at CPAC, Americans Must ‘Come Together to Confess our Need for God’
“… in the days ahead, as we work to advance our cause, restore our country, let us also remember to claim that hope,” he continued before paraphrasing 2 Chronicles 7:14 from the Bible. “if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He’ll hear from heaven, and he’ll heal this land,” Pence said as the crowd began to clap, then rise to their feet as he continued, “This one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Shooting Survivor Quit CNN Town Hall After Refusing to Ask ‘Scripted’ Question
Colton Haab, a student who survived last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, refused to participate in a CNN Town Hall on Wednesday night after he was told to ask a “scripted” question. Haab, a junior at the high school, told Fort Lauderdale ABC affiliate WPLG that CNN invited him to speak at the televised town hall in nearby Sunrise, Florida, and that he and his parents had dressed up for the occasion.
Haab: CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions, and it ended up being all scripted.

Wayne LaPierre: Leftists Focused on Gun Control, ‘Don’t Care One Wit About School Children’
LaPierre said, “The elites don’t care one wit about school children. If they truly cared, they would protect them.”
LaPierre said, “It’s not a safety issue, it’s a political issue. They care more about control. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eliminate all individual freedoms

Israel And Iran: Inching Toward Armed Conflict
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on the final day of the Munich Security Conference that Israel might go a step beyond striking the proxy powers and instead take direct action against Iran. He was especially concerned about the possibility of a land bridge stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. According to the PM, Iran represents an existential threat and its permanent military presence in Syria is unacceptable to Israel.

Nikki Haley says Trump’s Middle East peace plan nearly ready
United States Ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday night said that President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is nearly ready while speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. During a question-and-answer session led by the Institute’s current head, David Axelrod, she said: “They’re coming up with a plan. It won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side…I think they’re finishing it up.”

EU parliament politicians call for a full ban of Hezbollah
Members of the European Union parliament sent a letter on Thursday to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, urging her to classify all of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah as a terrorist entity…The letter was signed by a cross-section of 60 members of the European Parliament. The other two co-initiators were Lars Adaktusson and Péter Niedermüller.

Israeli and American troops gear up for joint 12-day Juniper Cobra drill
Israel is gearing up for an extensive aerial drill with troops from the United States European Command set to begin in early March, the IDF announced Thursday evening. The ninth annual Juniper Cobra drill scheduled to take place from March 4-15, will be the largest IDF and US European Command joint exercise taking place this year…

Argentina foils diplomatic luggage cocaine plot
Argentina’s security ministry says it has foiled a plot to use the Russian embassy’s diplomatic courier service to smuggle cocaine to Europe. Police seized nearly 400kg of the drug from diplomatic luggage in an embassy annex after being told about it by the Russian ambassador in December 2016. They then mounted a sting operation, replacing the drugs with flour and adding tracking devices.

Syria war: Ghouta pounded as UN tussles over ceasefire
The UN Security Council is struggling to agree a resolution seeking a ceasefire in Syria as a rebel-held area has been bombarded for a sixth day. Russia wants changes to a draft that calls for a 30-day calm to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations. Western diplomats have accused Russia, Syria’s key ally, of stalling for time. France said failure to act may spell the end of the UN itself.

AP sources: Adelson offers to help pay for Jerusalem embassy
The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, four U.S. officials told The Associated Press. Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said.

Seeking to outsmart US, China races ahead on artificial intelligence
When a Google computer program beat the world’s best player of an ancient Chinese board game last May, it might have seemed like an incremental milestone. But for some, the success of the program known as AlphaGo marked more than a man vs. machine clash. It set up a broader race between China and the United States over artificial intelligence, a competition that could mold the future of humankind…

Trump to announce new sanctions against North Korea as South prepares for talks
The United States is due to announce its largest package of sanctions against North Korea to pressure the reclusive country to give up its nuclear and missile programs, as South Korea readies itself for more talks with the North. Tougher sanctions may jeopardize the latest detente between the two Koreas, illustrated by the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in the South…

Global watchdog to put Pakistan back on terrorist financing watchlist: sources
A global money-laundering watchdog has decided to place Pakistan back on its terrorist financing watchlist, a government official and a diplomat said on Friday, in a likely blow to Pakistan’s economy and its strained relations with the United States. The move is part of a broader U.S. strategy to pressure Pakistan to cut alleged links to Islamist militants unleashing chaos in neighboring Afghanistan and backing attacks in India.

Fees case may enable U.S. Supreme Court to curb union power
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will consider…whether to choke off a critical funding stream for public-employee unions… The nine justices will hear a challenge backed by anti-union groups to the legality of fees that workers who are not members of unions representing teachers, police, firefighters and certain other government employees must pay to help cover the costs of collective bargaining with state and local governments.