Debkafiles – February 18, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Munich security conference on Sunday: “We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself, if needed.” Holding aloft a piece of the Iranian drone which Israel captured over its air space, he stressed that Tehran was the world’s greatest threat and “Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around its neck.” Taunting Iran’s’ foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the audience, he asked,” Do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours,” he said. “You can take a message back to Iran. Do not test Israel’s resolve.” This drone violated Israel’s sovereignty and posed a threat to our security, he said “We destroyed it and its control center in Syria.”
The nuclear deal, he went on to argue, had “unleashed a dangerous tiger in the region and beyond … Iran is devouring huge swathes of the Middle East” through its Shi’ite proxies. Netanyahu warned of the dangers posed to the world by a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran’s aggression will be unchecked and it will encompass the entire world.
Tehran wants to dominate Syria and move its bases and army into Israel’s back yard, acquire Mediterranean naval bases, and transfer tens of thousands of Shiite fighters to Syria. “I said we would not let this happen and have backed up words with deeds,” he said. “Israel will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and would continue to prevent it from crossing red lines,” he continued.
TruNews – February 19, 2018
Central bank officials in Sweden are growing increasingly concerned about the population’s accelerating move away from paper currency, which could result in an economic collapse.
“No Cash Accepted” signs are popping up all over the Scandinavian country, prompting a review of the country’s banking regulations. The overriding concern is that if the move to a cashless society happens too quickly, it could lead to a catastrophic economic collapse.
Sweden was already drifting away from paper currency, and in fact most bank branches don’t even handle cash at all. But now, many businesses will only accept debit cards or mobile payment systems, which is seen as detrimental to the poor and elderly, many of whom do not have access to new financial technology.
Cash circulation in Sweden, regarded by a majority of analysts as the most cashless economy on the planet, has dropped to the lowest levels in nearly 30 years following back-to-back years with the steepest declines in cash use.
CBS News – February 19, 2018
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Rumbling Mount Sinabung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra shot billowing columns of ash more than 16,400 feet into the atmosphere and hot clouds down its slopes on Monday. There were no fatalities or injuries from the morning eruption, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.
The volcano, one of three currently erupting in Indonesia, was dormant for four centuries before exploding in 2010, killing two people. Another eruption in 2014 killed 16 people, while seven died in a 2016 eruption.
Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hot ash clouds traveled as far as 16,000 feet southward.
The regional volcanic ash advisory center in Darwin, Australia, issued a “red notice” to airlines.
Some 30,000 people have been forced to leave homes around the mountain in the past few years.
RT – February 18, 2018
A team of scientists has grown embryos inside a sheep that contain human stem cells, moving the sci-fi idea of developing human organs inside animals one step closer to reality, which has sparked ethical concerns.
The scientific breakthrough could potentially save the lives of thousands of people who are in a dire need of vital organ transplants. While many patients die before they move up to the top of a queue, organs grown inside a sheep, like a pancreas, can not only save a life but also cure a chronic illness such Type 1 Diabetes, the researchers say.
This week, the team from Stanford University was able to grow a sheep embryo injected with adult human stem cells for 28 days, including 21 days inside a sheep, it announced at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, the Guardian reports. The experiment had to be terminated, as the law prohibits developing cross-species embryos, called chimera, for more than 28 days.
Researchers had already created the first human-pig hybrid.
Mac Slavo – February 19, 2018
The flu virus is evolving in unpredictable ways in Chinese poultry. For the first time, the avian flu has mutated and infected a human being.
According to New Scientist, the World Health Organization says no similar bird flu strains have ever crossed over to people before and this unexpected jump from chickens to humans was a surprise. The Chinese government has confirmed the first human case of H7N4 bird flu in the country. The patient, a 68-year-old woman in the Jiangsu province, is in stable condition and health authorities believe she will make a full recovery.
According to The Guardian, the patient contracted the virus in December and began to develop symptoms on Christmas Day. Bird flu symptoms in humans include mild to a severe pink eye, fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. The patient was admitted to a hospital on January 1 and stayed until January 22. Although her identity has not been disclosed, media outlets confirmed she likely contracted the virus from close contact with live birds.
Ben Doherty – February 16, 2018
The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.
In an excoriating assessment of China’s increasingly muscular posture in the region, Harry Harris said Beijing’s “intent is crystal clear” to dominate the South China Sea and that its military might could soon rival American power “across almost every domain”.
Harris, soon to retire as the head of US Pacific Command in Hawaii, told the House armed services committee, the US and its allies should be wary of Beijing’s military expansionism in the region, and condemned China’s foreign influence operations, predatory economic behaviour and coercion of regional neighbours.
“China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril,” he said. “I’m concerned China will now work to undermine the international rules-based order.”
Sputnik News – February 18, 2018
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel acknowledged during Saturday‘s Munich Security Conference that Berlin has, since World War II, benefited more from US assistance than any other European country, but decried the current ‘America First’ foreign policy of US President Donald Trump and his cabinet.
Gabriel noted that historically, Germany “eagerly learned” from the US about Washington-style democracy, including its business-friendly deregulated trade regimes and strong-arm tactics using favorable international laws, but he nonetheless complained, “Is it deeds, is it words, is it tweets we should look at to measure America?” cited by the Associated Press.
The top German diplomat asked for improved cooperation between the US and the EU, and stated that “just pursuing individual national interests” is not appropriate at this moment in history.
Gabriel suggested that Washington had done an about face from its previous EU-friendly diplomacy, approaching a more adversarial foreign-policy approach that was “constantly trying to test or undermine” the economic bloc.
Heather Clark – February 17, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU), two local branches of Planned Parenthood and several other abortion facilities have filed a lawsuit to challenge a new Ohio law that prohibits mothers from killing their unborn child simply because he or she has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
“Plaintiffs challenge H.B. 214 because it undermines their mission to honor and support the decisions their patients make, whether it is to continue or to end a pregnancy,” the suit asserts.
The legal challenge suggests that the “right decision”—life or death—is different for each mother.
“For many families, the right decision is to continue the pregnancy and parent a child with Down syndrome; for some, it is to give birth and place the child for adoption; and for others, it is abortion,” it claims.
Bob Unruh – February 17, 2018
More than 23,000 people already have signed a petition urging a British prison to restore a Christian volunteer chaplain who was banned by a Muslim prison official who claimed the pastor was teaching extremism.
And more are joining the cause hourly.
The petition is being run by Christian Concern, which gave the background to the startling case.
“A highly respected Christian volunteer Chaplain at HMP Brixton has been removed from chaplaincy work, and an internationally respected Christian course banned by a Muslim senior chaplain, in an attempt to wipe out ‘Christian domination’ at Brixton prison,” the organization reported.
The chaplain, Paul Song, relocated from South Korea in 1992 and began working as a minister at London Shepherd Church in 1996. In 1998, he began using his one day off each week to volunteer alongside 15 other Christians at HMP Brixton, and he was taken on as a chaplain.
Among other services was his provision of a program called Alpha, which introduces spiritual seekers to Christian faith.
However, when Mohamed Yusef Ahmed, a Muslim, took over as senior chaplain in 2015, things started going wrong.
TW – February 16, 2018
A new seismic swarm started under Cumbre Vieja volcano (La Palma), the Canary Islands on February 10, 2018. Quakes in this latest swarm are stronger than those in the previous swarm in October 2017, the first swarm in this area in 30 years.
National Geographic Institute (IGN) registered a total of 83 earthquakes between 23:23 UTC, February 10 and 07:32 UTC, February 15 with magnitudes ranging from 1.6 to 2.6.
In addition, there have been several hundred more which weren’t detected due to their magnitude and depth.
The depth of the quakes decreased during the course of the swarm, suggesting an upward movement of magma towards the surface.
The Canary Government called for an urgent meeting of the Scientific Committee for Evaluation and Monitoring of Volcanic Phenomena to discuss why the quakes are happening again and what might happen in the future. This is the second such meeting in four months.