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Weekly round up of news: 23 January

After a meeting in Tel Aviv with the energy ministers of Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the pipeline would help the EU limit its reliance on the Nord Stream pipeline via Russia. This development concerns Moscow, of course, because the Russian economy is heavily dependent on the export of natural resources such as oil and natural gas. Russia holds 54% of the world’s total reserves of gas.... It provides 37% of Europe’s gas supplies via its oil and gas giant Gazprom. Europe’s energy dependence has paid off handsomely for Russia...Russia’s contract to use Ukrainian pipelines to ship natural gas to Europe expired on December 31, 2019.

U.S. troops last weekend reportedly found themselves in a standoff with Russian forces trying to gain access to key oil fields in northeastern Syria.....The Saturday standoff …. seems to have ended without any shots being fired or any real risk of violence between the two sides. American military personnel reportedly stopped a Russian convoy near the town of Rmelan, and the Russian forces then apparently turned back and returned to their home base. Still, the near-clash serves as a reminder of the high stakes in Syria, where the U.S. military’s mission involves guarding oil fields and preventing them from falling into the hands of the Islamic State, Russian forces and other actors

A long and geologically unique river that was kept a close secret by the Dead Sea Works in whose concession area it lies was revealed to the public for the first time Monday in a report by Kan 11 News. Over 10 kilometers in length, the river gushes all year long through white canyons 20 meters deep, cutting across the Judean desert towards the Dead Sea.

US President Donald Trump said Thursday evening that the release of the long-awaited peace plan of his administration is imminent and expected before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz's visit to Washington next Tuesday. "Sometime prior to that," he told reporters during a flight to Florida. "Probably, we'll release it a little bit prior to that." He also addressed the upcoming visit of Netanyahu and Gantz to Washington.

The Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan — to be presented next week at the White House to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz — provides for full Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, for Israel to annex all West Bank settlements, and for no significant “return” to Israel of Palestinian refugees, Israeli TV reported Thursday night.

Ever since the country was liberated from Communist oppression, it has tried to construct a national identity around its status as a victim of both Nazism and the Soviet Union.

“Events over the past year and beyond have left us with a sense of insecurity and vulnerability. I’m upset and outraged by it—that we are targeted like that—but at the same time I’m not entirely surprised,” said Temple Sinai chair Matthew Smith. Gerry Brownlee, a foreign-affairs spokesperson for the opposition National Party, called the absence “disgraceful.” “The Government has failed to send a single representative, not even the Governor-General or a Minister, to this significant event. We send Ministers and Members of Parliament to a number of events around the world, but not to this one,” he said. “The Holocaust was the most terrible crime against humanity; it is embarrassing New Zealand won’t be present at this event.” Anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on Holocaust survivor’s door in Italy

Emmanuel Macron has been filmed furiously telling Israeli security in Jerusalem that “nobody has to provoke nobody” in a row curiously reminiscent of one his late predecessor Jacques Chirac....Mr Macron, 42, made a symbolic stop at the Church of St. Anne, which has remained French since the Ottomans gave it to Emperor Napoleon III in 1856.The ‘Secret’ Behind why France’s President Tried to Kick Israeli Police Out of a Crusader Church in Jerusalem - Less than two months after French President Emmanuel Macron proudly proclaimed that “Jews are and make France”, the French premiere seemed to do everything possible to mar the spirit of what was supposed to be a visit commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in the Jewish state. After Macron landed in Israel, he went straight to Jerusalem. There, the man who said he will govern France like Jupiter..

German police conducted counter-terrorism raids across the country last week, arresting multiple alleged Islamists suspected of “planning a serious violent act endangering the state.” According to German prosecutors, the suspected terrorists were of “Chechen origin from the Islamist scene.”...Germany’s parliament passed a non-binding initiative last month advocating for banning Hezbollah activities in the country. It is time for Germany to follow the UK’s recent move and fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, expanding sanctions and asset-freezing mechanisms targeting the entirety of the group.

The move was widely expected after the chief suspect in the assassination of a German politician last year was linked to the group....The group is still active in the UK and was named on a police counter-terrorism watchlist distributed to teachers and doctors earlier this year.

A German journalist for the publically-funded broadcaster ARD is under fire for writing a commentary that will be welcomed by right-wing extremists, because it condemns the behavior of Israel and Russia as unworthy during the remembrance of the liberation of Auschwitz, a prominent German Jewish leader alleged.

In her news report, the BBC’s senior journalist Orla Guerin appeared to link the Holocaust to Israel’s current occupation of the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians living there. After interviewing a tearful Holocaust survivor whose entire family was murdered in death camps... Simon Sebag Montefiore.. wrote on his twitter account: “This @bbcnews commentary on Yad Vashem by Orla Guerin linking the Holocaust to the Israel's West Bank occupation is truly foul - managing to be both shamefully amoral + historically inaccurate, utterly cynical and complacently selfrighteous all the same time…”

One of Belgian’s leading newspapers was excoriated by Israel’s ambassador in Brussels this week for publishing an opinion piece that amounted to what he called “cheap, distorted and devious antisemitism and anti-Israel drivel.” The offending article — in the mass-circulation Flemish-language daily de Standaard — was authored by a Belgian journalist, Johan Depoortere. Titled “How the Zionists ‘Discovered’ the Holocaust,” the article’s appearance was timed to coincide with the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp.

A group of Catholic bishops from Europe and North America have returned from their visit to the Holy Land, releasing a joint statement that highlights the “profound humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, which they claim has become an “open-air prison”.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is being sued for obtaining millions of dollars in charitable donations under false pretenses and privately investing that money into ventures such as luxury condominium developments and Hollywood movies. Texas-based legal firm the Stanley Law Group filed a class-action lawsuit against the USCCB on Wednesday, alleging the organization fraudulently promotes Peter's Pence as a papal charity when recent reports show as little as 10% of donations are used for its stated purpose.

Brisbane's Catholic Archbishop has hit out at proposed laws that would compel Queensland priests to report the confessions of child abusers. The state's teachers, doctors, nurses, childcare workers and school principals already have to report crimes against children to authorities, but Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the laws would "limit and unjustly interfere" with the human rights of Catholics.

The U.K. publication The Sun Online conducted an investigation on the criminal abuse of Gambian children by British citizens. Hordes of U.K. predators are taking advantage of lax laws in the poverty-stricken African country, where they openly target little boys and girls....In another recent undercover investigation, 101 East has exposed Indian villages in which it is the custom for parents to sell their daughters for sex.

Foreign dignitaries arriving in Jerusalem for this week's Fifth World Holocaust Forum to interact with online character Eva Heyman, a Hungarian girl who was murdered in the Holocaust, through the educational project "Eva Stories."

World leaders arrive in Israel for country’s biggest diplomatic event At leats 6,300 police officers and other security forces were deployed to Jerusalem ahead of the arrival of high-profile dignitaries including Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and m 49 countries, including 41 heads of state, the diplomatic event is set to become the biggest in the country’s history.

Mohammed al-Issa, head of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, to head a delegation of Muslim religious leaders from over 24 countries to the Nazi death camp. American Jewish Committee chief: This is the most senior delegation of Muslim religious leaders to visit Auschwitz ever.

Here is a new one for the books: An Arab singer stands up to perform in front of an Arab audience, and the anti-Israel brigade goes berserk. What has so inflamed the Israel haters this time? The singer is Aziz Maraka, a Jordanian composer, performer, recording artist, and producer. The audience are Arab citizens of Israel from the town of Kafr Yasif in the Northern District of Israel....None of that matters to the anti-Israel groups and individuals who are slandering the Jordanian singer and accusing him of "treason" and "promoting normalization" with Israel. The campaign of hate against Maraka shows that those who are calling for boycotting Israel care nothing about the well-being or interests of Arabs, including the two million Arab citizens of Israel. Those who are now condemning the Jordanian singer say they are opposed to any form of normalization with Israel.

Among the issues we discussed was the impeachment hearings in the US Congress, concerning allegations that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate the commercial dealings of the former US Vice-President and potential Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. I observed how odd it was that there was no similar concern over the report that, when he was Vice-President, Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire the prosecutor who was investigating his son’s company, Burisma Holdings. Presenter Andrew Neill asked me for the evidence to back up this observation

Cameras will regularly be positioned at designated locations around the capital to scan crowds and check against a watchlist of wanted suspects. The decision to deploy the technology follows a High Court ruling last year that rejected a challenge from a member of the public in South Wales where trials of the controversial technology had been taking place.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes blasted Senators who left the impeachment trial early, questioning their devotion…

Trump repeatedly attacked NAFTA, the quarter-century old trade pact that USMCA replaces, on the grounds that it harmed Americans, then sold the latter as a deal that protects them.

Problem is, the same pack of ruling-class elites who gave us NAFTA gave us USMCA. As The New American reported in October 2018, citing the Huffington Post, “at least half of the men and women standing behind Trump during his Rose Garden ceremony praising the new deal were the same career service staff who negotiated nearly identical provisions in [the Trans-Pacific Partnership], which Trump had railed against.”....As TNA reported when the agreement began moving forward, USMCA creates a massive 16-committee Free Trade Commission to manage agriculture, transportation, financial services, telecommunications, and intellectual property rights.

Locusts: UN calls for international help in East Africa The UN has called for international help to fight huge swarms of desert locusts sweeping through east Africa. A spokesman for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), called for aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, malnutrition”. Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are all struggling with “unprecedented” and “devastating” swarms of the food-devouring insects, the FAO has said.

Worst locust plague in 60 years, roughly 360 000 ha (890 000 acres) of crops damaged in Rajasthan At least 360 000 ha (890 000 acres) of crops have been affected in Rajasthan’s 10 districts in the midst of the state’s worst locust infestation in 60 years. The plague has been severe in Sriganganagar, with 75% of standing crops being damaged, as of January 18, 2020.

Australia Slammed With Hail, Pestilence, Darkness Plagues in one Week In the midst of raging wildfires, hailstones the size of baseballs pounded Australia in a mix of elemental opposites echoing the Egyptian plague. As if that reminder of the Exodus were not enough, a massive dust storm turned day into night. Climate Chaos in 2020

In his sponsorship of a March 2020 economic summit, “Economy of Francesco”, Francis calls for a “different kind of economy”, “new economy” and Sustainable Development. In Laudato Si’, the word “sustainable” was used 21 times to convince readers that UN-style Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy, holds the future of the world. However, in a true application of the Hegelian Dialectic, Francis attacks the “Technocratic Paradigm” by stating “The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life.".... In his invitation letter to “young economists and entrepreneurs worldwide,” Bergoglio sets the agenda …. virulently anti-market, a call for massive redistribution of wealth, and a reordering of the current economic systems of the world...

Amazon has plans to create payment terminals that would allow shoppers to link a credit card with their own handprint, allowing them to pay at brick-and-mortar stores by simply waving their hand across a scanner, according to a report Saturday from The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ reported that discussions to create the pay-by-hand terminals are in their early stages, though Amazon has already begun the development process with Visa and is in talks to work with MasterCard.

The start of the New Year finds the world facing four looming threats to human progress: surging geopolitical tensions, the climate crisis, global mistrust and the downsides of technology, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday.... “These four horsemen…can jeopardize every aspect of our shared future”, Mr. Guterres warned.

The recent signing of the first stage of a trade pact between the United States and China should not mask what appear to be Beijing's ultimate hegemonic does not prevent China from its pursuing its aggressive designs on the South and East China Seas, where it is positioning itself to challenge the U.S.'s role as protector of the world's sea lines of communication (SLOCS)… n order to gain access to deep-water harbors and land for the construction of airfields, China ensnares poverty-stricken countries through a carrot-and-stick process, called a debt-trap. At the moment, "seven countries... whose external loan debt to China surpasses 25 percent of their GDP" are severely in debt to China.

Huawei, which has faced accusations of spying on behalf of the Chinese government, will be kept out of the “core” part of 5G infrastructure that houses sensitive data on customers, but will be allowed to deploy its equipment across other parts of the network, according to sources speaking to Reuters.

DAVOS, Switzerland — The EU is a master of rebuilding but must develop hard power — “credible military capabilities” — to influence world events, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the World Economic Forum on Wednesday. She stressed that these capabilities will be complementary to NATO and “different.” EU Army: Emmanuel Macron's close ally demands Europe become a global military power - He has also called for the creation of a “real European army,” arguing that Europeans could no rely on the Americans only...

Justin Bronk from the Royal United Services Institute says....“It is the first concrete sign of Nato taking serious steps to make a dent in the enormous dependency the alliance has on the US,” he said. “What normally happens is most [alliance members] turn up with some fast jets, maybe [an air to air refuelling] tanker, and the Americans have to do all the target finding, classification, intelligence processing, battle-damage assessment, command and control and so on.”

Brexit: EU leaders sign UK withdrawal deal The heads of the European Commission and Council – Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel – have signed the Withdrawal Agreement, ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January. The Queen approved it on Thursday, and next Wednesday the European Parliament is expected to vote for it too. The UK has agreed to abide by EU rules during a transition period until the end of the year. How will the Brexit transition period work? - Brexit will happen from Jan 31 at 11pm, no matter whether Big Ben bongs or not. From that point, the United Kingdom will be legally outside of the European Union, but it may not feel much different from life as part of the club because it will be in a transition period for the rest of the year.

UK Chancellor Sajid Javid said over the weekend that ‘there will be no alignment’ with EU rules post-Brexit.... The push for robust enforcement comes as the EU insists on the need to accompany the deal with a strong level playing field, meaning the adherence to the bloc's environmental, social and competition rules. Brussels has also noted with concern that U.K. Chancellor Sajid Javid said over the weekend that "there will be no alignment" with EU rules post Brexit

Already the well-oiled and well-resourced forces from business and the Establishment that opposed Brexit throughout are regrouping. Like warriors dancing around a new totem pole in the night, we hear the drums beating and the war-cries chanting of the dangers of another cliff-edge of leaving the EU at the end of 2020 without a deal and the dangers awaiting us and threatening our future if we do not succumb to the demands of the EU nations. This has the makings of Project Fear v.3...

His pledge to make London carbon-neutral ignores the issues that really matter to Londoners.

Under his tenure as mayor, crime in London has surged across the board. During 2019, there was a 52 per cent rise in knife crime, and a 59 per cent rise in robbery. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the murder rate in the capital reached a 10-year high, with 149 homicides recorded in 2019

Once persona non grata in Washington DC, the Islamist Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is now a major recipient of federal funding. In 2009, the FBI blacklisted CAIR after federal prosecutors named the Islamist group as an unindicted co-conspirator during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. In 2014, the United Arab Emirates designated CAIR as a terrorist organization. And today, its officials continue to promote and excuse violently anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Baghdad-born Dalia al-Aqidi says Rep. Illhan Omar ‘supports Islamists and enemies of America and Israel, and there are no exceptions.’...Al-Aqidi cited examples of Omar’s positions. “Iran is an enemy of the United States and Israel, so Omar supports them. She attacks Egypt and Saudi Arabia because they fight against the Muslim Brotherhood. She defends Qatar and Turkey because they support and fund the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The US has said it is not sure if it can work with Lebanon’s new government, formed in response to growing protests over corruption, because it is dominated by Hizbollah and its allies. Lebanon's new government is made up of appointees nominated by the powerful Shia group Hizbollah and its prime minister, Hassan Diab, a relatively unknown university professor backed by Hizbollah.

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