Tuesday, December 26, 2017


JEWISH KING JESUS IS COMING AT THE RAPTURE FOR US IN THE CLOUDS-DON'T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD.THE BIBLE TAKEN LITERALLY- WHEN THE PLAIN SENSE MAKES GOOD SENSE-SEEK NO OTHER SENSE-LEST YOU END UP IN NONSENSE.GET SAVED NOW- CALL ON JESUS TODAY.THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH - NO OTHER. 1 COR 15:23-JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS-CHRISTIANS RAPTURED TO JESUS-FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT-23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.ROMANS 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.(THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE)

LUKE 21:28-29
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)

JOEL 2:3,30
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)

ZECHARIAH 14:12-13
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)

47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE

Israel says 10 more countries in talks about moving embassies to Jerusalem-Honduras reportedly next in line after Guatemala announces relocation of mission; Togo, Paraguay, Romania and Slovakia also floated-By TOI staff-25 December 2017

Following Guatemala’s announcement Monday that it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, at least 10 other countries are in talks to move their own missions, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.In an interview with Israel Radio, she declined to say which states Israel was speaking with, but Channel 10 reported that the next country likely to announce an embassy move was Honduras.Israel and Honduras, which borders Guatemala, have enjoyed very close ties over the past few years, and in 2016 signed an agreement under which Israel agreed to enhance the the Central American country’s armed forces in an unprecedented way, in order to fight organized crime.Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was reelected earlier this month in a hotly disputed election. He is a graduate of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, and spent time in Israel.Along with Guatemala, Honduras was one of nine nations that voted “no” last week with the United States when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.Unlike Guatemala, whose embassy was in Jerusalem from the 1950s until 1980, Honduras never had its embassy in Israel’s capital.Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced at a Likud party event Monday that the parliamentary heads of two other countries had spoken to him about moving their embassies from Tel Aviv. The Walla news site reported that representatives from Romania and Slovakia had expressed support for such a move and were working in their respective countries to effect it.Other countries also reportedly in talks to move their embassies are South America’s Paraguay and the west African nation of Togo.Querido pueblo de Guatemala, hoy he conversado con el Primer Ministro de Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Hablamos de las…Posted by Jimmy Morales on Sunday, 24 December 2017-Guatemala was the first nation to pledge to move its mission to Jerusalem after US Trump on December 6 recognized the city as Israel’s capital and instructed the State Department to prepare to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. The Czech republic has also since recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Russia recognized West Jerusalem in April.In a December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.The move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, but condemned by most of the international community. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on his official Facebook account on Sunday that after talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he decided to instruct his foreign ministry to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.“We spoke about the excellent relations that we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the state of Israel,” Morales wrote. “One of the most important topics [of the conversation] was the return of the embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem. So I inform you that I have instructed the chancellor to initiate the respective coordination so that it may happen.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday hailed Guatemala’s decision, predicting that other countries would soon follow suit.“God bless you, my friend, President Jimmy Morales. God bless both our countries, Israel and Guatemala,” he said at the weekly Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.“I told you recently there would be other countries that will recognize Jerusalem and move their embassies,” Netanyahu said, after reading out Morales’s official announcement to Likud MKs and reporters. “I repeat: There will be more, this is just the beginning.”Marissa Newman and AP contributed to this report.

In Christmas address, Pope says only two-state solution will bring Mideast peace-Francis prays for peace in Jerusalem; highlights the plight of children scarred by the globe's conflicts, and urges Catholics not to ignore migrants-By Catherine MARCIANO and TOI staff-25 December 2017

VATICAN CITY (AFP)  — Pope Francis on Monday called for peace in Jerusalem in his traditional Christmas address, saying that only a two-state solution could lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.The pope also highlighted the plight of children scarred by conflict around the globe, after urging the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics not to ignore migrants.Addressing tens of thousands of worshipers gathered at the Vatican to hear the pontiff’s fifth “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) message, Francis called for “peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land.”“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.”The pontiff’s plea came as fresh tensions simmered in the West Bank following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Following Trump’s lead, Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales said Sunday his country would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.Trump’s announcement on December 6 unleashed demonstrations and clashes, including in Bethlehem in the West Bank where Christians marked the birth of Jesus at a midnight mass.“May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles, the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited,” the pope said.In his December 6 declaration on Jerusalem, Trump stressed that the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city would still have to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. His speech, welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli leaders across most of the political spectrum, infuriated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and regional leaders because it was perceived to be prejudging the fate of the disputed holy city. At the UN on Thursday, a resolution rejecting Trump’s move was approved by 128 votes to 9; the resolution had been vetoed by the US in the Security Council two days earlier.Abbas has encouraged a series of “days of rage” in the territories since Trump’s declaration. The Islamist terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza and seeks to destroy Israel, has been demanding a violent new intifada.The pontiff also mentioned other global flashpoints such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela, after stressing that the “winds of war are blowing in our world.”“Let us pray that confrontation may be overcome on the Korean peninsula and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole,” the 81-year-old said.Fewer tourists in Bethlehem-Earlier, celebrating midnight mass in the ancient town, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, used his homily to lambast the wars that “the Herods of today fight every day to become greater, to occupy more space.”Criticizing Trump’s announcement for the second time in a week, Pizzaballa insisted “Jerusalem is a city of peace, there is not peace if someone is excluded. Jerusalem should include, not exclude,” stressing the principle that Jerusalem is a city for both peoples and the three Abrahamic faiths.Hundreds had gathered in the cold on Bethlehem’s Manger Square to watch the annual scout parade toward the Church of the Nativity, built over the spot where tradition says Mary gave birth to Jesus.But the square was noticeably quieter following the violence between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army in the past weeks. The Christian community also canceled all non-religious events and festivities.Trump’s declaration departed from decades of US policy that said the fate of Jerusalem should be decided through negotiations.Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.First Christmas in Homs in years-Christmas decorations have meanwhile become more visible in Christian areas of Syria’s capital Damascus this year.In the central Syrian city of Homs, Christians will celebrate Christmas with great fanfare for the first time in years after the end of battles between regime and rebel forces — with processions, shows for children and even decorations among the ruins.In Iraq too, this year marks a positive turning point for the Christian community in the northern city of Mosul.Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was meanwhile due to pay tribute to the cities of London and Manchester which suffered terror attacks this year.“This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past 12 months in the face of appalling attacks,” the 91-year-old monarch was to say in the pre-recorded televized message.London suffered two deadly terror attacks, while 22 people — including children — were killed during an attack at Manchester Arena following a performance by US singer Ariana Grande.Meanwhile a tragic Christmas weekend in the Philippines was compounded Monday by the deaths of 20 people killed in a bus collision while travelling to mass.Dozens of people were feared killed in a fire Saturday in the southern city of Davao. Thousands were displaced by floods and landslides from a storm that also killed more than 200 others on Friday.

Norway said set to cut funding for pro-BDS Palestinian NGOs-Oslo reported to say decision reflects support for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and cooperation, opposition to boycotts of Jewish state-By TOI staff-25 December 2017

Norway is reportedly set to cut funding for Palestinian NGOs that support boycotts of Israel.Quoting a statement from the Norwegian government, Hadashot TV news reported Monday that the decision reflects Oslo’s support for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and cooperation, as well as its opposition to boycotts of Israel.“This is an additional and vital step for damaging boycott organizations,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told the TV channel. “We will continue to work consistently to expose European funding for Palestinian organizations that delegitimize [Israel].”Norway’s decision comes just days after fellow Scandinavian country Denmark said it will revoke funding from several Palestinian NGOs and tighten aid criteria for others after they were found to be tied to anti-Israel activities.The Danish Foreign Ministry made the announcement Friday, saying it would implement a more stringent vetting process for the transfer of funds to Palestinian NGOs.“It is important that there is confidence that Danish assistance is going for the right purposes,” said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.Samuelsen said that, following an investigation, most of the earmarked funds will be returned to Danish government coffers. He added that many organizations currently receiving Danish support would no longer do so.The move came after Denmark launched a review of its practices in May following a meeting where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Samuelsen to stop Denmark’s funding for Palestinian NGOs that are involved in anti-Israel incitement or promote boycotts of the Jewish state.Netanyahu gave Samuelsen a list of organizations that receive Danish funds and which Israel says are linked to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

Army finds signs of infiltration on Jordan border, launches manhunt-Military says soldiers identified evidence that someone crossed illegally into Israel in the Arava desert area-By Judah Ari Gross-TOI-25 December 2017

The army launched a manhunt in the Arava desert on Monday after finding evidence that someone illegally crossed into the area from Jordan, a military official said.“Earlier today, during a routine search along the Israeli-Jordanian border, footprints indicating an illegal crossing into Israel from Jordan were identified,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.“The IDF along with the Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service are continuing to search the area. The incident is being investigated,” the statement said.The army maintains so-called “blurred” paths along the country’s borders, strips of undisturbed dirt that allow trackers to quickly see footprints and other traces of illegal infiltration.An IDF spokesperson said the army would not elaborate on where exactly the footprints were found along the border, other than to say that it was in the Arava desert.Israel’s border with Jordan is generally seen as a quiet one, owing to a 1994 peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom and strong defense ties. There is, however, always concern that the relative calm will be exploited by terrorist or criminal groups to enter Israel for nefarious purposes.

Putin rival urges boycott after barred from presidential run-Alexei Navalny told he can't run in March 18 poll because of fraud conviction, seen by many as political retribution-By AP-TOI-DEC 25,17

MOSCOW — Russian election officials on Monday formally barred Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president, prompting calls from him for a boycott of next year’s vote.The Central Election Commission decided unanimously that the anti-corruption crusader isn’t eligible to run.Navalny is implicitly barred from running for office because of a conviction in a fraud case which has been viewed as political retribution. He could have run if he was given a special dispensation or if his conviction was canceled.Incumbent Vladimir Putin is set to easily win a fourth term in office in the March 18 election, with his approval ratings topping 80 percent.Over the past year, Navalny has mounted a grassroots campaign which reached out to the most remote corners of Putin’s heartland.Navalny, 41 is the most serious challenger that Putin has faced in all his years in power, and the court cases against him have been widely seen as a tool to keep him from running for office.In a pre-recorded video message that was released minutes after the Election Commission handed down the decision, Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the vote.“The procedure that we’re invited to take part is not an election,” he said. “Only Putin and the candidates he has hand-picked are taking part in it.”“Going to the polls right now is to vote for lies and corruption.”Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova told Navalny ahead of its vote to bar him that “maybe we would be interested if you were running,” but said the conviction doesn’t allow the commission to put him on the ballot.Speaking before the vote, Navalny told the commission that their decision to bar him would be a vote “not against me, but against 16,000 people who have nominated me, against 200,000 volunteers who have been canvassing for me.”While Putin is all but certain to win an easy victory, the Kremlin wants his performance to be as strong as possible and has been concerned by growing voter apathy.Navalny’s call for a boycott could hurt the Kremlin’s hopes for boosting turnout.The involvement of Ksenia Sobchak, a 36-year-old star TV host, could raise public interest in the race. While Sobchak has denied colluding with the Kremlin, she could attract some of Navalny’s supporters and help boost attendance.Sobchak criticized Navalny’s call for boycotting the vote, saying Monday that the “election is the only way to change something, and boycotting them is inefficient and harmful.”She proposed that Navalny join her campaign if she gets registered for the race.Other veterans of past elections — liberal Grigory Yavlinsky and ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky — are also running. Communists nominated a new face, Pavel Grudinin, director of a big strawberry farm just outside Moscow.___Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report.

Egyptian flight attendants denounce body-shaming lawmaker-Galila Othman said Egyptair needs 'dress and weight codes' for on-board staff, who 'shouldn't work until they are 50'-By Samy Magdy-TOI-25 December 2017

CAIRO (AP) — The union of Egyptian flight attendants on Monday angrily responded to criticism by a lawmaker over the weight and age of some female attendants employed by the national carrier, saying her comments amounted to discrimination.In a statement, the union said lawmaker Galila Othman’s time would be put to better use if she stopped “offending working people” and instead helped them deal with their concerns.The chief job requirement for flight attendants is medical fitness, said the statement.Othman requested this week that the civil aviation minister face questions in parliament regarding the appearance and “proper weight” of female EgyptAir flight attendants.Speaking to The Associated Press on Monday, she said “There are no standards. We need dress and weight codes. They shouldn’t work until they are 50. We should move them to other jobs.”The union’s statement added that “If the honorable member of parliament does not see (in her comments) discrimination against women, then the union calls on her to kindly first implement her suggestions at Parliament, since it is the face of Egypt.”


LUKE 21:25-26
25 And there shall be signs in the sun,(HEATING UP-SOLAR ECLIPSES) and in the moon,(MAN ON MOON-LUNAR ECLIPSES) and in the stars;(ASTEROIDS ETC) and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear,(TORNADOES,HURRICANES,STORMS) and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:(DESTRUCTION) for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.(FROM QUAKES,NUKES ETC)

Vietnam braces for typhoon as Philippine toll rises to 230 dead-[Reuters]-By Mi Nguyen and Manuel Mogato-YAHOONEWS-December 25, 2017

HANOI/MANILA (Reuters) - Authorities in Vietnam prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along the south coast on Monday as a typhoon approached after it battered the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people.Typhoon Tembin is expected to slam into Vietnam late on Monday after bringing misery to the predominantly Christian Philippines just before Christmas.Vietnam's disaster prevention committee said 74,000 people had been moved to safety from vulnerable areas, while authorities in 15 provinces and cities were prepared to move more than 1 million.The government ordered that oil rigs and vessels be protected and it warned that about 62,000 fishing boats should not venture out to sea."Vietnam must ensure the safety of its oil rigs and vessels. If necessary, close the oil rigs and evacuate workers," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying on a government website.Schools were ordered to close in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, a working day in Vietnam.On Sunday, Tembin hit the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, parts of which are contested by several countries, including Vietnam and China.No casualties were reported in outposts there.Vietnam, like the Philippines, is regularly battered by typhoons that form over the warm waters of the Pacific and barrel westwards into land.Tembin will be the 16th major storm to hit Vietnam this year. The storms and other disasters have left 390 people dead or missing, according to official figures.SCORES MISSING-In the Philippines, rescue workers were still struggling to reach some remote areas hit by floods and landslides that Tembin's downpours brought, as the death toll climbed to more than 230. Scores of people are missing.The full extent of the devastation was only becoming clear as the most remote areas were being reached.Health worker Arturo Simbajon said nearly the entire coastal village of Anungan on the Zamboanga peninsula of Mindanao island had been wiped out by a barrage of broken logs, boulders and mud that swept down a river and out to sea."Only the mosque was left standing," Simbajon said."People were watching the rising sea but did not expect the water to come from behind them."Manuel Luis Ochotorena, head of regional disaster agency, said he expected the death toll to rise."Many areas in Zamboanga peninsula are still without power and communications, some towns are cut off due to collapsed bridges, floods and landslides," he said.Tens of thousands of people on Mindanao have been displaced by the storm, which struck late on Friday.The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year and warnings are routinely issued.But disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings this time to get out coastal areas and move away from riverbanks.In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan killed nearly 8,000 people and left 200,000 families homeless in the central Philippines.(This version of the story was refiled to fix spelling in paragraph two)(Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Robert Birsel)

Vietnam evacuates hundreds of thousands ahead of storm-[Associated Press]-YAHOONEWS-December 25, 2017

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people in Vietnam's Mekong Delta were evacuated as the region braced for the arrival of Typhoon Tembin after the storm left more than 160 people dead in the Philippines.Weather forecasters were expecting the delta's southern tip to be in Tembin's path, and said heavy rain and strong winds starting Monday night could cause serious damage in the vulnerable region, where facilities are not built to cope with such severe weather.National television station VTV reported that several hundred thousand people were evacuated from their houses, which are mostly made from tin sheets and wooden panels.In Vung Tau city, thousands of fishing boats halted their monthslong fishing trips to return to shore.Typhoons and storms rarely hit the Mekong Delta. But in 1997, Tropical Storm Linda swept through the region, killing 770 people and leaving more than 2,000 others missing.Over the weekend, Tembin unleashed landslides and flash floods that killed at least 164 people and left 171 others missing in the Philippines, according to Romina Marasigan of the government's main disaster-response agency.Initial reports from officials in different provinces placed the overall death toll at more than 230, but Marasigan warned of double counting amid the confusion in the storm's aftermath and said the numbers needed to be verified.More than 97,000 people remained in 261 evacuation centers across the southern Philippines on Monday, while nearly 85,000 others were displaced and staying elsewhere, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.The hardest-hit areas were Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces and the Zamboanga Peninsula. Tembin hit the Philippines as a tropical storm but strengthened into a typhoon before blowing out of the country Sunday into the South China Sea toward Vietnam.Philippine officials had warned villagers in accident-prone areas to evacuate early as Tembin approached and the government was trying to find out what caused the widespread storm deaths, Marasigan said. She added that it was difficult to move people from homes shortly before Christmas."We don't want to be dragging people out of their homes days before Christmas, but it's best to convince them to quietly understand the importance of why they are being evacuated," Marasigan said at a news conference in Manila.Tembin was among a series of disasters to hit the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines at the peak of Christmas preparations.An inter-island ferry sank off northeastern Quezon province Thursday after being lashed by fierce winds and big waves, leaving at least five people dead. More than 250 passengers and crewmen were rescued. Earlier in the week, another tropical storm left more than 50 people dead and 31 others missing, mostly due to landslides, and damaged more than 10,000 houses in the central Philippines.___Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

Three people die in avalanches in Swiss Alps-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-December 25, 2017

ZURICH (Reuters) - Three people have died in separate avalanche accidents in the Swiss Alps, police said on Monday.A man who was skiing close to the 2,844-metre high Hofathorn, in the southern canton of Wallis, died after being carried away by an avalanche on Monday morning.The 39-year-old from the Wallis region was quickly found and recovered by his friends but was confirmed dead at the scene by emergency services.Police in Graubunden, in the east of Switzerland, said a tourist who went missing on Saturday had also been found dead.The 31-year-old Frenchman had tried to climb the Glattwang mountain alone on Saturday afternoon after skiing with his girlfriend.When he did not return, a search was launched and the man's body was found in a ravine on Sunday morning. Police said he had triggered an avalanche on his descent which carried him more than a kilometre over rocky terrain.Separately, one of three walkers buried by a snow drift in Wallis on Saturday has died, Swiss broadcaster SRF reported, quoting the police.The group was hiking at a height of 2,700 meters in the St Luc region when the accident happened. One of them managed to get free and make an emergency call which allowed the others to be rescued.All three were flown to hospital, where one, a 29-year-old woman from the Swiss canton of Vaud, died of her injuries on Sunday evening, SRF said.(This version of the story corrects paragraph four to make clear Graubunden is in the east of Switzerland, not the west)(Reporting by John Revill, editing by Ed Osmond)

Syrian, Iranian backed forces advance in border area near Israel-[Reuters]-By Suleiman Al-Khalidi-YAHOONEWS-December 25, 2017

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran's influence in the war-torn country.The army and the Shi'ite forces helped by Druze militias in the area advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by some of the heaviest aerial bombing and artillery shelling since a major assault began more than two months ago to seize the area, rebels said.The Syrian army said it had encircled the village of Mughr al Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as troops moved toward Beit Jin amid fierce clashes. On Monday, the army said they had cut off insurgent supply lines and made further advances.The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the southwest of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender.A western intelligence source confirmed rebel reports that Iranian-backed local militias alongside commanders from the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah Shi'ite group were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.Tehran was pushing to establish a strategic presence along the Israeli border in the Syrian Golan Heights, the source said.Rebels said they had repelled several attempts to storm their defenses and denied reports they were about to surrender."The Iranian-backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border," said Suhaib al Ruhail, an official from the Liwa al Furqan rebel group that operates in the area.Worried by Iran's expanding influence in Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, Israel has in recent weeks stepped up its strikes against suspected Iranian targets inside Syria.Early this month there was an Israeli strike on a base near Kiswah, south of Damascus, that was widely believed to be an Iranian military compound, a Western intelligence source said.Israel has been lobbying Washington and Moscow to deny Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other Shi‘ite militias any permanent bases in Syria, and to keep them away from the Golan, as they gain ground while helping Damascus beat back Sunni-led rebels.The southwest of Syria is part of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria agreed last July between Russia and the United States, the first such understanding between the two powers.The area has not seen Russian bombing, unlike other ceasefire areas in Syria.Diplomatic sources say several thousand Shi'ite and Druze fighters are pitted against hundreds of Sunni jihadists and mainstream Free Syria Army (FSA) rebels closing ranks under the banner of Itihad Quwt Jabal al Sheikh, or "Union of fighters of Jabal al Sheikh". They are mainly drawn from local fighters from the area.With the army and Iranian backed offensive widening, the Sunni rebels have called on youths to enlist, while mosque imams in Beit Jin called on people to take up arms and fight the army.Rebels still have a sizeable presence in central and southern Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan Heights.Western diplomatic sources say the crushing of the Sunni rebel presence in areas they have been in since 2013 will allow Lebanon's Hezbollah to open another secure arms supply line from its border in southern Lebanon into Syria.Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Iran has had a growing presence in the country, deploying thousands of Shi'ite fighters drawn from Iraq and Afghanistan who have fought against both mainstream Sunni rebel groups and more militant groups.(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Susan Thomas and Edmund Blair)

Filipino firefighters find all 37 bodies of workers in mall-[Associated Press]-YAHOONEWS-December 25, 2017

DAVAO, Philippines (AP) — Philippine firefighters have found all 37 bodies of employees of a U.S.-based company who were trapped in a blaze that gutted a shopping mall in southern Davao city.Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said that firefighters initially found one body at the NCCC Mall on Sunday, but that extreme heat and thick smoke prevented them from retrieving the bodies of the 36 other employees until Monday.Senior Superintendent Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, regional director of the Bureau of Fire Protection, relayed the news to the employees' relatives, who broke into tears. They were told the bodies would be identified by authorities then turned over to their families.All the dead were employees at a call center on the top floor of the four-story mall and run by U.S.-based Research Now SSI, which employs about 500 people. Its chief executive officer, Gary Laben, said the company would help with funeral arrangements and create a fund for contributions for the victims' families."This terrible tragedy has left us with heavy hearts," Laben said.Duterte-Carpio and Tiu spoke at a Mass outside the burned mall, where the fire broke out Saturday morning on the third floor, where clothes, appliances and furniture are sold. The fire started after a storm hit Davao and flooded parts of the city.Except for a grocery store on the ground floor and the call center on the top floor, the shopping areas were still closed to the public when the fire started mid-morning, preventing a bigger tragedy amid the peak Christmas shopping season.President Rodrigo Duterte went to the scene of the fire and met with relatives of the trapped office employees late Saturday. He served as Davao mayor for many years before being elected to the presidency last year.___Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

China calls for constructive efforts to ease Korean tensions-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-December 25, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) - China called on Monday for all countries to make constructive efforts to ease tension after North Korea said the latest U.N. sanctions against it are an act of war and tantamount to a complete economic blockade.The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad.The U.S.-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).North Korea on Sunday rejected the resolution, calling it an act of war.Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the resolution appropriately strengthened the sanctions but was not designed to affect ordinary people, normal economic exchanges and cooperation, or humanitarian aid.Hua noted it also called for the use of peaceful means to resolve the issue and that all sides should take steps to reduce tension."In the present situation, we call on all countries to exercise restraint and make proactive and constructive efforts to ease the tensions on the peninsula and appropriately resolve the issue," she told a daily news briefing.The North's old allies China and Russia both supported the latest U.N. sanctions.Tension has been rising over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, which it pursues in defiance of years of U.N. Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.In November, North Korea demanded a halt to what it called "brutal sanctions", saying a round imposed after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 constituted genocide.North Korea on Nov. 29 said it successfully tested a new ICBM that put the U.S. mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.U.S. diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but proposed the new, tougher sanctions resolution to ratchet up pressure on North Korea's leader.China, with which North Korea does some 90 percent of its trade, has repeatedly called for calm and restraint from all sides and for a return to talks.(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)