US, Japan & S. Korea launch two-day ‘missile tracking’ drills

RT – December 11, 2017

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have have begun joint “missile tracking” drills, South Korea’s military said. The new round of military exercises comes just days after the US and its allies concluded the largest ever air maneuvers over the peninsula.

The exercises kicked off Monday amid speculation that North Korea may soon test launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), South Korea’s military announced, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Two US Aegis destroyers – USS Stethem and USS Decatur – are leading the war games along with South Korea’s Seoae Ryu Seong Ryong Aegis destroyer, and Japan’s Chokai Aegis vessel. During the exercises, the three navies aim to polish their skills at detecting and tracking potential ballistic missiles using a computer-simulated training module.

The drills which are hosted by Japan will conclude Tuesday, December 12, and are aimed at increasing the allies’ ability to respond to the North Korean threat, Japan’s Navy said in a press release.

Trump’s Jerusalem declaration sparks talk of 3rd Temple

WND – December 10, 2017

WASHINGTON – While Muslims jeer, Israelis cheer President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, prompting Jewish religious activists to suggest building the Third Temple is closer to reality than ever before.

“What he did … was an enormous step in bringing the Temple,” said Asaf Fried, official spokesman for the United Temple Movement, an association of organizations working towards making the Third Temple a reality.

He added, “This necessarily had to come from a non-Jew in order to bring them into the process, so they will be able to take their part in the Temple.”

Fried sees Trump’s role similar to the one played by Cyrus, the Persian king who ended the Babylonian exile and helped build the Second Jewish Temple.

“There have been amazing advances towards bringing the Temple this year. It was clear that Trump was part of that process, guided by Hashem (God),” Fried declared.

EU Vows Push to Make Jerusalem Capital for Palestinians

Newsmax – December 7, 2017

BRUSSELS – The EU’s top diplomat pledged Thursday to reinvigorate diplomacy with Russia, the United States, Jordan and others to ensure Palestinians have a capital in Jerusalem after President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital.

The European Union, a member of the Middle East Quartet along with the United States, the United Nations and Russia, believes it has a duty to make its voice heard as the Palestinians’ biggest aid donor and Israel’s top trade partner.

“The European Union has a clear and united position. We believe the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference.

Parents Fight Hospital to Save Baby Alfie Evans in Case Reminiscent of Charlie Gard

Anugrah Kumar – December 10, 2017

The parents of an 18-month-old boy who is suffering from a mystery brain condition are in a legal battle with a hospital in Britain that wants to switch off the child’s life support, saying they can do nothing more for him.

Thomas Evans and Kate James want to move their child, Alfie Evans, to a hospital in Italy that is willing to take him, but Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool opposes the move as not in the child’s best interests, according to The Sunday Times.

Alfie, who was admitted to the hospital last December, is in a coma and suffers regular seizures, and the hospital has urged the High Court to rule that long-term ventilation and intensive care to the child be withdrawn.

Test results showing two mitochondrial gene variants suggest Alfie could suffer from a form of mitochondrial disease like the one that killed Charlie Gard, a British baby who became the subject of a bitter dispute during the summer between his parents and doctors over whether he should be taken to the United States for experimental treatment, according to Liverpool Echo.

New Evacuations as Huge Southern California Fire Flares Up

Newsmax – December 10, 2017

A powerful flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday, as wind-fanned flames churned through old-growth brush in canyons and along hillsides toward coastal towns.

Crews with help from a fleet water-dropping planes and helicopters saved homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze deeper into residential foothill areas northwest of Los Angeles that haven’t burned in decades. New evacuations were ordered as the fire sent up an enormous plume near Montecito and Carpinteria, seaside areas in Santa Barbara County that had been under fire threat for days and were now choked with smoke.

“The winds are kind of squirrely right now,” said county fire spokesman Mike Eliason. “Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it’s blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we’re in.”

Israel airstrikes, Gaza rockets amid tensions over Jerusalem

Laura Smith-Spark – December 9, 2017

Jerusalem (CNN) Two Palestinians were killed Saturday in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, as tensions rose in the region after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces said aircraft had targeted what it identified as four facilities belonging to Hamas — the Palestinian Islamist group that controls Gaza — early Saturday in response to rockets fired into southern Israel from Gaza.
The aircraft targeted two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound, according to an IDF statement.
The two Palestinians killed were men, 27 and 30 years old, Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qadra told CNN.
The IDF said Israeli aircraft had also struck a Hamas training compound and ammunition warehouse late Friday in Gaza.

‘United States of Europe’: Throwing Disobedient EU Countries Overboard

Sputnik News – December 12, 2017

The leader of the German SPD party, Martin Schulz, wants to turn the European Union into the so-called “United States of Europe” with a common constitution.
The initiative differs little from the idea of a “Multi-speed Europe” that has been recently voiced by French President Emmanuel Macron in his speech at the Sorbonne, Vladimir Ardaev wrote for RIA Novosti.

According to the political observer, the initiative contributes to a standoff within the EU, as it literally divides the bloc’s members into “first” and “second” class.

“The desire to unite the ‘the EU’s core,’ consisting only of those ready for a closer integration of the countries, didn’t come out of thin air. Disagreements in the European community have lately been increasing with the main division line passing along the borders of the Eastern European and Central European states. These states, that joined the European Union after the dissolution of the socialist bloc, differ from the Western ‘veterans’ not only in their development, but also in their stance on very important issues,” Ardaev wrote.

For instance, the position of the countries of the Visegrad group — Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — that joined the European Union in 2004, often contradicts with that of the other EU states.

Department of Justice Launches Federal Investigation into Planned Parenthood

Dr. Susan Berry – December 7, 2017

The Department of Justice is launching a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices and its alleged involvement in the sale of body parts of aborted babies.

Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd has formally requested unredacted documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee, reports Fox News. According to the news report, the letter requesting the documents – sent to committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) – “is a rare confirmation of a federal investigation.”

“The Department of Justice appreciates the offer of assistance in obtaining these materials, and would like to request the Committee provide unredacted copies of records contained in the report, in order to further the Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of that report based on the full range of information available,” Boyd wrote in the letter obtained by Fox News.

The next global pandemic might be worse than the Black Death

Strange Sounds  – December 8, 2017

Except that the really real Spanish Flu also jumped to humans from birds. For reference, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was the worst global disease outbreak since the Black Death, and easily one of the worst in history. It killed up to five percent of the world’s population, and the only reason it doesn’t occupy a lot of space in high school history books is because it got overshadowed by another disaster happening at the time: World War I. Leave it to humans to be self-absorbed when it comes to wiping out humans.

Since 2013, 1,364 people have come down with H7N9, and 40% of them have died, mainly from respiratory and organ failure. While we’re busy not caring about it, it’s getting better at spreading among humans. But even if this one doesn’t catch on, the next one will. Or the next one. The flu itself isn’t the big problem, it’s that we’re completely unprepared for another big pandemic.

For one thing, the world has a much higher population today than it did a century ago, which means that there are more of us packed more closely together, making us a flu version of an all-you-can-eat buffet. We also travel much more easily than we used to, which means that diseases have a much easier time getting around the world quickly. On top of that, the systems in place to prevent such tragedies have grown so complacent about the risks that, as evidenced by the Ebola situation, they’re slow to act.

Judge: Feds can discriminate against churches

Bob Unruh – December 9, 2017

Gray Miller, a federal judge in Texas, has ruled that the federal government can discriminate against churches whose congregations opened their facilities to government-aid programs that assisted Hurricane Harvey victims.

The ruling was in response to request for a temporary restraining order by three churches whose facilities were damaged in the weather catastrophe.

They contend they should be included in the government program designed to help nonprofit organizations restore their facilities after such a disaster, because they were integral in providing assistance.

Miller dismissed the idea that churches should be treated equally.

The judge argued a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing a Missouri church to participate in a government program to make playgrounds safer does not apply to the Texas case.

The playground, used for the church’s school, is “not an ‘essentially religious endeavor,’” he said

In the Texas case, he said, “the funding would be used to repair church facilities so that plaintiffs could use their facilities for their primary service, which plaintiffs admit is providing religious activities.”