Debkafiles – April 29, 2018
As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sat down on Sunday, April 29 in Tel Aviv to discuss the Iranian threat, a Russian-backed Syrian force struck across the Euphrates to capture a string of US-backed fortified Kurdish SDF villages. This incursion of a key US area of influence region in eastern Syria, if confirmed, would rip up a key element of the US-Russian de-confliction zones accord and provide Iran with a springboard for a leap up to the Iraqi border.
Pompeo, on his first Middle East Trip as Secretary of State, reiterated in Tel Aviv – as he did in Riyadh earlier Sunday – that the nuclear deal will need to be fixed or it would be abandoned by President Donald Trump’s on May 12. Standing alongside Netanyahu, the secretary backed Israeli efforts to counter Iran in Syria. He said the US is committed to “rolling back to the full range of Iranian malign influence in Syria,” specifically mentioning “Iran’s missile systems, its support for Hezbollah, its importation of thousands of Shiite fighters into Syria.” Pompeo added, “We strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”
DEBKAfile: This was taken as a US green light for Israel to take on the elements threatening its security from Syria. The secretary also stressed that the US would continue to fight ISIS and not tolerate the Assad regime using chemical weapons.
DW – April 28, 2018
Finance ministers from Germany and France committed on Saturday to deliver a eurozone reform road map in time for an EU summit planned for June. Germany’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, said, “We are optimistic that we will be successful.”
Saturday’s joint announcement is seen as a breakthrough following German resistance to French President Emmanuel Macron’s earlier wide-reaching ideas for strengthening economic and financial cooperation in the single currency bloc.
Saturday’s promise of reforming the 19-member eurozone was announced despite earlier resistance from Berlin to Macron’s proposal of pooling financial resources. Many in Germany’s parliament believe it would likely see the country provide more financial resources to poorer neighbors — such as Italy and Greece — than it would receive from a collective fund. Berlin has also emphasized that such a fund should be linked to economic reforms.
TR – April 29, 2018
The mayor of a southern French town known in the media as the ‘Jihadi capital’ and ‘French Molenbeek’ has called upon the state to prevent the “radicalized Muslim community” from “flourishing” in Lunel.
“I solemnly appeal to the state to prevent fundamentalist Islamic movements from flourishing freely in Lunel,” Mayor Claude Arnaud wrote in an emotional letter, first seen by France Bleu newspaper. The town has been hit hard “by the consequences of radical Islam, which is the gateway to Islamic terrorism,” Arnaud wrote.
With 26,000 residents, the coastal settlement on the Mediterranean, 20km from Montpellier, has become an unofficial symbol of jihadism. Earlier in April, five people were tried for supplying extremists in Syria. Some of them were also accused of briefly traveling to the conflict-stricken country to join the ranks of terrorist groups.
DW – April 29, 2018
Residents of the British capital should beware of getting too close to caterpillars of the oak processionary moths that are infesting the city and its surrounding areas, the British Forestry Commission has warned.
The caterpillars are covered with tiny white hairs that contain a protein which causes skin rashes, eye and throat irritations, dizziness and even respiratory problems in some people.
The commission said in an information brochure that they can also pose a hazard to the oak trees in which they normally nest, as they eat the leaves. In large numbers, they can potentially strip a tree bare, making them susceptible to other threats.
People are being warned not to touch or approach nests or caterpillars themselves, or to allow children and animals to do so.
Robert Kraychik – April 27, 2018
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin warned that the “diabolical” and “heartbreaking” treatment of the 23-month-old British baby Alfie Evans is an example of the “death panel”-like decisions Americans can expect under a fully “socialized rationed healthcare” system.
In a Thursday interview on Breitbart News Tonight with SiriusXM hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak, Palin cautioned that “this type of rationed healthcare controlled by government bureaucrats and politicians” is “the road we’re on” if the United States continues down the path towards a totally government-controlled socialized healthcare system.
Reuters – April 26, 2018
ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite against the United States, saying Tehran would never yield to “bullying,” state television reported on Thursday.
“The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist… All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.
Iran’s top authority criticized Trump for saying on Tuesday some countries in the Middle East “wouldn’t last a week” without U.S. protection.
“Such remarks are humiliation for Muslims … Unfortunately there is war in our region between Muslim countries. The backward governments of some Muslim countries are fighting with other countries,” Khamenei said.
Matthew Diebel – April 24, 2018
Well, it appears this group of scribes won’t be greeted very warmly at the Pearly Gates.
GQ magazine, a bible of “grooming” tips, gadget suggestions and style advice, has sparked a social media conflagration by calling the Christian Holy Bible “foolish, repetitive and contradictory” and placing it on a list of “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.”
“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it,” novelist Jesse Ball writes in the magazine. “Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”
Also on the GQ list are such classics as The Catcher in the Rye, Lonesome Dove, The Old Man and the Sea, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Lord of the Rings.
Elise Young – April 26, 2018
U.S. autism prevalence has grown, according to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, with about 1.7 percent of 8-year-olds affected in 11 states.
The study, based on 2014 research, again identifies New Jersey with the highest incidence. One in 34 children in that state, or 3 percent, fall on what’s called the autism spectrum, which encompasses a range of social, behavioral and learning disorders ranging from the barely noticeable to the profoundly debilitating.
Nationally, the prevalence has increased 150 percent since 2000, according to the study, which called autism “an urgent public-health concern.”
Space Daily – April 26, 2018
Earlier this year, Cape Town grabbed the world’s headlines as it careened towards a water armageddon.
Crippled by a three-year-long drought, the South African city braced for a complete shutdown of domestic water supplies.
In the event, Cape Town dodged the immediate bullet. But thousands of kilometres (miles) away, another African city has had far less luck — and much less attention for its ordeal.
“We haven’t had a drop from our taps for three weeks,” said a resident of Bouake, Ivory Coast’s second largest city, while she awaited her turn to draw water from from a well.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said an employee of the state-run water distribution company, Sodeci, who asked not to be named.
Steven Ertelt – April 28, 2018
Five days after a children’s hospital yanked his life support without his parent’s permission, little Alfie Evans has died. Alfie’s death comes after a massive legal battle between the hospital and his parents Tom and Kate.
In posts on Facebook, Alfie’s mother and father confirmed his passing.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support,” she wrote.
“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 absolutely heartbroken,” the boy’s father Tom Evans wrote on Facebook.
The legal battle sparked anger nationwide in England but also internationally as people stood up for Alfie’s parents and strongly opposed courts and hospitals making life and death decisions for patients over their families objections.
There is concern that the hospital contributed to his death.