Thursday, February 01, 2018


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

US general: N. Korea not yet shown ICBM that could hit America-Despite advances in its missile technology, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says unlikely Pyongyang has technology to deliver a warhead to North America-By AFP-TOI-31 January 2018

WASHINGTON — North Korea has made new advances in its intercontinental ballistic missile program but has not yet demonstrated all the capabilities needed to strike America with such a weapon, a top US general said Tuesday.While Pyongyang has shown it can put the United States in range and point a rocket to the country, General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it has not yet proven that its fusing and targeting technologies can survive the stresses of ballistic missile flight.“They have made some strides but it’s still true that they haven’t demonstrated all of the components of an intercontinental ballistic missile system,” Selva told reporters.Also unclear is whether North Korea has a re-entry vehicle strong enough to return into the Earth’s atmosphere from space and deliver a warhead.“It’s possible (North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un) has them, so we have to place the bet that he might have them, but he hasn’t demonstrated them,” Selva said.Last year, North Korea tested ICBMs that had the potential range of reaching the United States mainland and in September it conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test.Pyongyang’s weapons program has seen tensions on the Korean Peninsula ratchet up in recent months, prompting fresh rounds of sanctions and fiery rhetoric from President Donald Trump and Kim.Selva said North Korea has also become very good at predicting when spy satellites are overhead and adept at camouflaging its missiles.Kim has developed new techniques of getting a missile to a launchpad, so the US and its allies might now only get about 12 minutes warning before North Korea launched a missile, down from up to an hour previously, Selva added.

TV: US may reject UN’s granting of Palestinian refugee status to descendants-Israeli TV report says Trump administration is considering reallocating all aid it currently sends to UN's Palestinian refugee agency-By TOI staff-31 January 2018

Amid its deepening standoff with the Palestinians, the Trump administration is considering halting all of its financial aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, and declaring that it rejects the UN criteria under which refugee status is extended to millions of descendants of the original Palestinian refugees, a TV news report said Tuesday.Hadashot TV news said this “new ultimatum” under consideration by the Trump administration is one of the avenues being explored as the US seeks to press the Palestinian Authority into returning to peace talks with Israel.The TV report said that State Department sources, asked for confirmation of the report, noted only that President Donald Trump said in Davos last week that all US aid to the Palestinians was under review and that no formal statements were yet being issued.Hadashot reported that the State Department, having already frozen some $100 million in UNRWA funding, was considering stopping all of its $360-million annual funding for the organization, and instead allocating it to other UN bodies that work with the Palestinians.At the same time, it further reported that some in the administration and the State Department want to accompany that move with a formal declaration that the US rejects the mandate under which UNRWA operates — according to which Palestinian refugee status is transferred from generation to generation.Of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who left or were forced out of Israel when the country was established, a figure estimated in the low tens of thousands are still believed to be alive. But their descendants, considered refugees under the unique designation afforded by the UN to Palestinians, number in the millions.Israel has for years demanded that the UN change its designation of Palestinian refugees, and that it use the same criteria it applies for other refugee populations worldwide. Humanitarian assistance to other refugee groups is overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which does not extend refugee status to descendants of original refugees.The TV report quoted Israeli diplomatic sources who are aware of the new US thinking on the issue as saying that a Trump declaration rejecting the UN criteria for Palestinian refugees would represent “a tremendous victory” for Israeli diplomacy and a direct continuation of Trump’s December 6 declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.In previous rounds of negotiations, Palestinian leaders have sought a “right of return” to Israel for these millions. No Israeli government would ever be likely to accept this demand, since it would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state. Israel’s position is that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state at the culmination of the peace process, just as Jews who fled or were forced out of Middle Eastern countries by hostile governments became citizens of Israel.Earlier Tuesday, the head of UNRWA indicated that he was aware of the US thinking. Pierre Krahenbuhl said the US decision to reduce funding for UNRWA “has a political dimension that I think should be avoided,” and claimed Washington would ultimately slash payments by $300 million, contributing just $60 million to the agency’s 2018 budget.Krahenbuhl made the comments while issuing an emergency appeal for more than $800 million in funds to provide additional assistance to Palestinian refugees in Syria, Gaza and the West Bank.Last Friday, Hadashot said Israel was hoping to see the US make plain that it rejects Palestinian demands for a “right of return” of millions of Palestinians to Israel.Quoting what it said were diplomats who are following the process, Hadashot reported that now that Trump has declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, and the Jerusalem issue to be “off the table,” the next step being sought is to remove the “right of return” from the list of final status issues to be resolved.After that is done, the Friday TV report said, Trump will present the “proposal for peace” that he spoke of on Thursday — a proposal, the Hadashot TV reporter remarked, that might better be described “perhaps as the Netanyahu plan” since it is expected to meet many of the Israeli prime minister’s demands.The Palestinian Authority has been boycotting the Trump administration since December 6, when Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said he would move the US embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv. In that address, the president said the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem would still have to be negotiated by the two sides, and thereby did not negate Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem.Sitting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos last Thursday, however, Trump said: “We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore.” He added, turning to Netanyahu, “You won one point, and you’ll give up some other points later on in the negotiation.”In his unscripted remarks to the press on Thursday, Trump said the US would no longer transfer monetary aid to the Palestinians unless they entered peace negotiations with Israel, and excoriated the Palestinian leadership’s reaction to his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.“That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace, too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer,” he said.The US is also considering shutting down the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, the de facto embassy of the Palestinian Authority in the US, if Ramallah continues to refuse to take part in peace talks, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday.

IDF chief warns Hezbollah is improving its military capabilities-Gadi Eisenkot says Lebanon terror group violating UN security council resolutions, IDF working 'day and night' to ward off threat-By Stuart Winer and TOI staff-31 January 2018

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Tuesday the army is working “day and night” to bolster its defenses against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization, which is improving its military capabilities.He also accused the Iran-backed Hezbollah of violating United Nations Security Council resolutions by fielding militia units in areas from which it was supposed to withdraw.The comments followed Israeli warnings that Iran plans to manufacture advanced missiles in Lebanon that will be deployed against the Jewish state.“The Hezbollah terror group is breaking the UN Security Council resolutions, it maintains a military presence in the area, is holding military systems, and is improving its military capabilities,” Eisenkot said. “The IDF is working day and night against these threats to ensure readiness and deterrence.”Under the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended fighting in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, all militias other than the Lebanese army were supposed to surrender their weapons and there were to be no armed forces other than those of UN peacekeepers south of the Litani River, a natural marker that lies roughly 29 kilometers (18 miles) from the Israeli border and parallel to it.Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, has held on to its weapons and made efforts to obtain advanced weaponry, a development Israel has vowed to prevent. Dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys bound for Lebanon have been attributed to Israel by foreign media reports. It has also deployed units south of the Litani River.“We will do everything necessary to keep Israel’s northern border quiet and safe,” Eisenkot continued. “Our challenge is to maintain the readiness, to deepen our knowledge of the enemy, to reduce its capability, and to extend as much as possible the security and civilian reality that has continued for 11 years and serves the populations on both sides of the fence.”“I am confident in our military superiority, in the quality of the commanders and fighters, and their ability to achieve victory in a time of war and to determine a high and painful outcome for the enemy,” Eisenkot said.Over the past year, Israel has warned repeatedly against Iranian efforts to set up weapons production facilities in Lebanon and establish a presence near the Israeli border with Syria.The topic of Iran’s efforts to expand its military footprint into Lebanon and Syria was a key topic under discussion between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two leaders met in Moscow on Monday.Speaking to reporters after the meeting Netanyahu said that he told Putin precision-guided missiles factories are currently “in the process of being built” by Iran in Lebanon.“These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israel is determined to prevent their development.In an opinion piece published Sunday in Arabic by several Lebanese news outlets, Israel’s top military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis accused Hezbollah of morphing Lebanon into a branch of Iran, and of turning Lebanon into “one big missile factory.”Hezbollah lawmaker Mohammad Raad responded, writing in Al-Hewar Al-Motamaden, one of the Lebanese blog sites where Manelis’ column was published, saying, “Israel should not be unmindful and engage itself in a war that would destroy it… Hezbollah has become today stronger and has what it takes to destroy the Israeli army.”Eisenkot spoke at a memorial ceremony to mark 21 years since the deadliest air crash in Israel’s history, in which 73 IDF servicemen lost their lives when two aircraft collided near the northern border with Lebanon. In what is known in Israel as “the helicopter disaster,’ the two air force transport choppers collided on February 4, 1997, as they ferried troops to the security zone in southern Lebanon, which the IDF maintained at the time. The IDF pulled out of Lebanon in 2000.

11 countries speed up funding for Palestinians after US cuts-UNRWA chief says Russia, Kuwait, and 9 European nations are stepping up contributions-By Agencies and TOI staff-31 January 2018

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday that Russia, Kuwait and nine European countries have agreed to speed up their contributions to help fill a shortfall left by the Trump administration’s decision to reduce crucial US funding.Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl of the UN Relief and Works Agency also said it has received no specifics about reforms sought by the United States, suggesting politics — notably surrounding the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital — were at play.UNRWA, which serves some 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, had a budget of over $1 billion last year. This covered long-running programs, including education, as well as emergency funds for crises such as the war in Syria.The US has been the largest donor, giving one-third of the total budget. The Trump administration withheld half of the first installment of payments this year, demanding reforms as a condition for future aid.The UN agency says the Trump administration has committed $60 million this year — far short of the $360 million that the US provided last year — and Krähenbühl said he has no sign that other US funding might be on the way.The US has said it is withholding two payments to UNWRA totaling some $100 million.But the administrator of the US Agency for International Development said Friday that the Trump administration had not yet made decisions regarding cuts in humanitarian aid to Palestinians.“This process is ongoing, and no funding decisions have been made. As the President said, the United States expects the Palestinian leadership to work with us,” USAID’s Mark Green told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.The UNRWA head said the changes marked “a very severe and dramatic change in the parameters of funding from the United States,” which he called a “stable, predictable and most-generous contributor to UNRWA over decades.”“It is clear that we have a very big task on our hand to fill that gap,” Krähenbühl told reporters in Geneva.UNRWA responded by calling on donors to speed up their funding, and Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Ireland have taken steps to do so, he said. Others were considering similar action.“Advancing contributions is extremely important to help us address the first few months,” he said. “Of course, a shortfall of $300 million can only be addressed with obtaining additional income from other sources over the year.”The comments Tuesday came as UNRWA said it is seeking $800 million for emergency operations in Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip this year. UNRWA sought $400 million each for Syria and the Palestinian territories. In an appeal last week, the agency sought an additional $500 million.“We signed our new framework agreement with the US in the beginning of December in which every aspect of our relationship from funding to reform discussions was covered and agreed,” Krähenbühl told The Associated Press. “They did not explain the current decision by reform-related elements.”He said he believed the funding cut was linked to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a subsequent vote by the UN General Assembly to denounce the decision.“It is very clear that the decision by the United States was not related to our performance,” he said. “This has to be part of the debate that took place around Jerusalem.”Israel has often criticized UNRWA, accusing it of sheltering terrorists and allowing Palestinians to remain refugees even after settling in a new city or country for generations, thus complicating a possible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

UN envoy warns Gaza on verge of ‘full collapse’-Senior official Nickolay Mladenov tells Israeli security conference that Palestinian enclave is 'well beyond' humanitarian crisis-By AFP and TOI staff-31 January 2018

A senior United Nations official on Tuesday warned the Palestinian coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip was on the verge of “full collapse.”UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said a key to saving Gaza from disaster was restoring the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to power there, a decade after it was forced out by the Islamist terror group Hamas.“Without that Gaza risks exploding in our face again, this time in a far more deadly and violent manner than in the past,” Mladenov said at the annual conference of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.Repeated reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah — the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority — have failed to reach an agreement that would return control of Gaza to the PA, most recently because Hamas refused to surrender its considerable arsenal of weapons and military infrastructure.Earlier this month, the White House froze around $100 million in contributions to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after the Palestinians announced they would no longer accept the US as a mediator in peace talks with Israel. The Palestinians were angered after US President Donald Trump on December 6 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, though he 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.“I often say publicly, in (UN) Security Council briefings and in other formats, that we are in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis,” Mladenov said.“Let me be very clear today here, that we’re well beyond that,” he added.“We’re on the verge of a total systems failure in Gaza, with a full collapse of the economy, with social services, political, humanitarian and security implications stemming from that.”Mladenov said he would raise those concerns in Brussels on Wednesday at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians.He said the meeting would be at a high level with representatives of the Israelis, Palestinians and “a number” of Arab foreign ministers attending.PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will take part, a Palestinian Authority statement said. Hamdallah is set to meet with Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon in Jerusalem on Sunday in what will be the first high-level meeting of Israeli and Palestinian officials since the US policy move on the capital.“One of our key messages must really be: what can we actually do to create and preserve hope for the people of Gaza, in order to address both the militant aspect of it and the humanitarian aspect?” Mladenov said.Since Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to engage in American-led peace talks, saying the US is not an honest broker. He has also refused to meet with senior White House officials, including US Vice President Mike Pence, and in a speech earlier this month he denounced a peace plan being formulated by the US as the “slap of the century.”

Russians fume as US lists of over 200 politicians, oligarchs it could sanction-Washington refrains from issuing punishments against those named; Putin calls lineup of 114 government people and 96 business figures a 'hostile step,' but won't respond just yet-By NATALIYA VASILYEVA and Josh Lederman-TOI-31 January 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the Trump administration made a “hostile step” when it published a list of Russian businessmen and politicians as part of a sanctions law against Moscow.The long-awaited US publication appears to be mainly a list of people in Russian government, along with 96 “oligarchs” from a Forbes magazine ranking of Russian billionaires.The list, ordered by Congress in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, had induced fear among rich Russians that it could lead to US sanctions or being informally blacklisted in the global financial system.But the US surprised observers by announcing that it had decided not to punish anybody under the new sanctions, at least for now. Some US lawmakers accused US President Donald Trump of giving Russia a free pass, fueling further questions about whether the president is unwilling to confront Moscow.Putin on Tuesday referred to the list as a “hostile step” — but said Moscow does not want to make the situation even worse.“We were waiting for this list to come out, and I’m not going to hide it: we were going to take steps in response, and, mind you, serious steps, that could push our relations to the nadir. But we’re going to refrain from taking these steps for now,” Putin said.The Russian president said he does not expect the publication to have any impact but expressed dismay at the scope of the officials and business people listed.“Ordinary Russian citizens, employees and entire industries are behind each of those people and companies, so all 146 million people have essentially been put on this list,” Putin said at a campaign event in Moscow. “What is the point of this? I don’t understand.”Russia hawks in Congress had pushed the administration to include certain names, while Russian businessmen hired lobbyists to keep them off.In the end, the list of 114 Russian politicians released just before a Monday evening deadline included the whole of Putin’s administration, as listed by the Kremlin on its website, plus the Russian cabinet, all top law enforcement officials and chief executives of the main state-controlled companies.President Putin even joked on Tuesday that he felt “slighted” that his name wasn’t there.A companion list of 96 “oligarchs” is a carbon copy of the Forbes magazine’s Russian billionaires’ rankings, only arranged alphabetically. It makes no distinction between those who are tied to the Kremlin and those who are not. Some of the people on the list have long fallen out with the Kremlin or are widely considered to have built their fortunes independently of the Russian government.Officials said more names, including those of less senior politicians and businesspeople worth less than $1 billion, are on a classified version of the list being provided to Congress. Drawing on US intelligence, the Treasury Department also finalized a list of at least partially state-owned companies in Russia, but that list, too, was classified and sent only to Congress.The idea of the seven-page unclassified document, as envisioned by Congress, was to name-and-shame those believed to be benefiting from Putin’s tenure, as the United States works to isolate his government diplomatically and economically.Every top Russian official except for Putin is on the list of 114 senior political figures. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is on it, along with all ministers from the Russian government, all 42 of Putin’s aides, and top law enforcement officials. The CEOs of all major state-owned companies, including energy giant Rosneft and Sberbank, are also on the list.The oligarchs list includes tycoons Roman Abramovich and Mikhail Prokhorov, who challenged Putin in the 2012 election. Aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a figure in the Russia investigation over his ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is included.Less obvious names on the list include Sergei Galitsky, founder of retail chain Magnit, and Arkady Volozh, founder and CEO of the search engine Yandex, and bankers Oleg Tinkov and Ruben Vardanyan. They have been lauded as self-made men who built their successful businesses without any government support.Some billionaires on the list have fallen out with the Kremlin entirely, like the Ananyev brothers, who fled the country last year and vowed to sue the Russian government after their bank was declared bankrupt.The list shows that the United States views the entire Russian government as enemies, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov — himself on the list — told reporters on Tuesday.Although he said Russia should not “give in to emotions” before studying the list and its implications carefully, Peskov pointed out the name of the law: “On countering America’s adversaries through sanctions.”“De facto everyone has been called an adversary of the United States,” he said.In a Facebook post Tuesday, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee for the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian parliament, said US intelligence failed to find compromising material on Russian politicians and “ended up copying the Kremlin phone book.”Kosachev criticized the US government for harming Russia-US relations, saying that “the consequences will be toxic and undermine prospects for cooperation for years ahead. He added that the list displays “political paranoia” of the US establishment.Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who came to prominence thanks to his investigations into official corruption, tweeted Tuesday that he was “glad that these (people) have been officially recognized on the international level as crooks and thieves.” Navalny in his investigations has exposed what he described as close ties between government officials and some of the billionaires on the list.The list’s release was likely to at least partially defuse the disappointment from some US lawmakers that Trump’s administration opted against targeting anyone with new Russia sanctions that took effect Monday.Under the same law that authorized the “Putin list,” the government was required to slap sanctions on anyone doing “significant” business with people linked to Russia’s defense and intelligence agencies, using a blacklist the US released in October. But the administration decided it didn’t need to penalize anyone, even though several countries have had multibillion-dollar arms deals with Russia in the works.US State Department officials said the threat of sanctions had been deterrent enough, and that “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed.”Companies or foreign governments that had been doing business with blacklisted Russian entities had been given a three-month grace period to extricate themselves from transactions, starting in October when the blacklist was published and ending Monday. But only those engaged in “significant transactions” are to be punished, and the US has never defined that term or given a dollar figure. That ambiguity has made it impossible for the public to know exactly what is and isn’t permissible.New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, lambasted the move to punish no one, saying he was “fed up” and that Trump’s administration had chosen to “let Russia off the hook yet again.” He dismissed the State Department’s claim that “the mere threat of sanctions” would stop Moscow from further meddling in America’s elections.“How do you deter an attack that happened two years ago, and another that’s already underway?” Engel said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Iran hackers reportedly tried to phish Israeli nuclear scientists-Emails sent to Israeli researchers contained links to news stories from a fake British media outlet, TV report says-By TOI staff-31 January 2018

Iranian hackers reportedly targeted Israeli nuclear scientists with phishing scams in a effort to gain access to sensitive material.According to a Hadashot TV news report on Tuesday, Israeli scientists received emails containing dubious links to news stories from a fake news outlet called the British News Agency.The TV report did not indicate whether any of the phishing attempts were successful or when they took place.Erel Margalit, an former Zionist Union MK and high-tech entrepreneur, said the incident should be a warning to the world that Iranian hacking attempts must be taken seriously.Last month, the Israel-based ClearSky Cybersecurity said Iranian hackers were sending links from the fake British News Agency to targets across the world in an effort to obtain information about political dissidents living in Iran.According to ClearSky, the Iranian hackers behind that attempt were called Charming Kitten, and their cyber espionage activities were state-sanctioned.The hackers focused on academic researchers, human rights activists, media personalities, and political advisers mostly from Iran, Israel, the US and UK.Among the Israeli figures known to have been targeted were Iran researcher Tamar Eilam Gindin from the Shalom Center, Kan radio news editor Eran Cicurel, and movie producer Alon Gur Arye, according to Hebrew-language media reports at the time.ClearSky also said it had found connections between Charming Kitten and Behzad Mesri, an Iranian hacker indicted by the FBI for hacking HBO and then leaking episodes of the “Game of Thrones” series. The FBI said Mesri is a member of another Iran-based hacking group sometimes known as Turk Black Hat, which has targeted hundreds of websites in the United States and around the world.Earlier on Tuesday, the former director of the CIA, Gen David Petraeus, told a Tel Aviv conference that US-Israeli collaboration on cybersecurity has reached new heights.“According to various foreign publications, our cooperation has harmed significantly Iran’s nuclear program,” he said at the conference, hinting at the reported collaboration between the two nations in planting the malicious computer worm Stuxnet that damaged Iran’s nuclear program and was uncovered in 2010.He said he could not confirm or deny those reports.Shoshanna Solomon, Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

Iranian-American, wife sentenced to prison over Zoroastrian faith-Art dealers Karan Vafadari and Afarin Neyssar given 27 years and 16 years respectively, after arrest by Revolutionary Guards-By AP-TOI-JAN 31,18

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran has sentenced an Iranian-American art dealer and his wife to prison for being Zoroastrians, a New York-based rights group said Wednesday, marking the latest case of Tehran imprisoning dual nationals.Art dealer Karan Vafadari was sentenced to 27 years in prison, while his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssar, who has permanent residency in the US, received a 16-year sentence, the Center for Human Rights in Iran said.The sentences have yet to be reported in Iran. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The two were reportedly arrested by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in July 2016. Little information has come out about their case since then.Early Wednesday, the Center for Human Rights in Iran said it had received a letter dated January 21 that Vafadari wrote to it from Tehran’s Evin prison. In it, Vafadari said he was sentenced “last week” to prison by Judge Abolghassem Salavati of Tehran’s hard-line Revolutionary Court. The charges included holding mixed-gender parties and having alcohol, both of which are supposed to be protected for Zoroastrians.Salavati is known for his tough sentences and has heard other politically charged cases, including one in which he sentenced Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to prisonVafadari said he and his wife were sentenced under a law allowing for properties of dual nationals to be seized and sold at auction. He said his work in the art world “raised the suspicions” of the Guard’s intelligence unit. The sentence also included lashes and a fine.“Fortunately, the initial, baseless security accusations that led to our arrest were dropped, but our gallery, office, warehouses and home remained locked and our cars, computers and documents were confiscated, followed by accusations and interrogations that indicated a deeper plot,” he wrote.Posted by Karan Vafadari on Saturday, 25 February 2012-He added that the sentences mean “my wife and me, and every one of you dual national Zoroastrians who returned to your country to invest in the homeland you love, are always going to be in danger of losing your assets and forced to leave the country.”Zoroastrianism is a pre-Islamic ancient religion in Iran that is in theory protected under the Iranian constitution. However, its adherents can face discrimination in Iran, whose government is overseen by Shiite clerics.Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

US court temporarily suspends Kansas anti-BDS law-ACLU challenges measure banning state contracts with individuals or companies participating in a boycott of Israel over free speech concerns-By ROXANA HEGEMAN-TOI-JAN 31,18

WICHITA, Kansas (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Kansas law barring state contractors from participating in boycotts against Israel, saying the state law violates their free speech rights.US District Judge Daniel Crabtree wrote in his decision that the US Supreme Court has held that the “First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.”Several states have enacted laws in recent years amid an increasingly visible movement protesting Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. Backers of boycotting Israeli companies argue they’re defending Palestinians’ human rights, while boycott critics contend the goal is to destroy the Jewish state.The judge granted the request from the American Civil Liberties Union to block enforcement of the Kansas law while the case proceeds. Crabtree found it is “highly likely” that the Kansas law is invalid.“A desire to prevent discrimination against Israeli businesses is an insufficient public interest to overcome the public’s interest in protecting a constitutional right,” Crabtree wrote.The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of Esther Koontz, a math and science curriculum coach at a Wichita public school. She is seeking to overturn a law that took effect in July that prohibits the state from entering into contracts with individuals or companies participating in a boycott of Israel.Twenty-four states have such policies, including California, Alabama and Texas, according to Palestine Legal, a non-profit advocacy group that aims to protect the rights of people who speak out for Palestinian freedom. The measure had strong bipartisan support in Kansas.ACLU attorney Brian Hauss said the court recognized the harms imposed by the “misguided law,” which imposes “an unconstitutional ideological litmus test.”“This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts,” Hauss said.The ACLU has also filed a legal challenge to a similar law in Arizona prohibiting contractors from boycotting Israel, but this is the first court ruling in the country dealing with such laws, said ACLU attorney Doug Bonney.Departing Governor Sam Brownback, who signed the policy into law, said he thinks the ACLU will ultimately lose the case.Brownback, a Republican, said the federal government has passed such laws for years. He cited laws against trade with Iran or limits on investments in South Africa during apartheid.Brownback is stepping down as governor Wednesday to become US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.State officials have described Israel as an important trading partner, with Kansas exporting $56 million worth of products there in 2016 while buying $83 million worth. Brownback made an unpublicized visit to Israel last summer, during which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hawaii warning officer reportedly believed missile threat was real-FCC investigation finds emergency worker issued state-wide warning after hearing a drill recording saying 'this is not a drill'-By Chris Lefkow-TOI-31 January 2018

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A warning officer who sent an alert that a ballistic missile was headed towards Hawaii believed the threat was real, according to a report on the January 13 incident which sparked widespread panic.The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in a preliminary report released on Tuesday, said the unidentified officer with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) claimed not to have heard a phrase warning that it was just an exercise.At the same time, the report said, the sentence “This is not a drill” was mistakenly included in the recorded message which prompted the officer to issue a warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack.Mobile phones across the Pacific islands received the emergency alert around 8:07 a.m. and it was also transmitted by television and radio stations.“In the minutes that followed, panic-stricken citizens called their families to say what they believed were their last words, and some even resorted to jumping into manholes to find shelter,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement accompanying the report.The erroneous message came amid tensions with North Korea, which has tested rockets powerful enough to reach the United States, though it is unclear whether they are yet able to deliver nuclear payloads.It took the authorities 38 minutes to send out a message canceling the false alert and the FCC also looked into why it took so long to do so.The FCC investigation blamed the mistake on a combination of “human error and inadequate safeguards.”It began, the report said, with a decision by the overnight-shift supervisor to conduct an unannounced drill when the day shift arrived at 8:00 am.The overnight-shift supervisor informed the day-shift supervisor of the plan but the day-shift supervisor understood the drill was for the overnight workers ending their shift not for his arriving staff.“As a result, the day shift supervisor was not in the proper location to supervise the day shift warning officers when the ballistic missile defense drill was initiated,” the report said.-‘Exercise, exercise, exercise’-It said the overnight-shift supervisor called the day-shift warning officers at 8:05 a.m. pretending to be US Pacific Command.A recorded message was played over the phone which began and ended with the words “exercise, exercise, exercise.”The message also mistakenly, however, included the phrase “This is not a drill” used for an actual live ballistic missile alert, the report said.Three day-shift warning officers listened to the recording on speakerphone and one of them “believed that the missile threat was real” and issued a live alert at 8:07 am after hearing the sentence “This is not a drill,” it said.The officer declined to be interviewed by the FCC but said in a written statement to HEMA that he did not hear the phrase “exercise, exercise, exercise.”“Other warning officers who heard the recording in the watch center report that they knew that the erroneous incoming message did not indicate a real missile threat, but was supposed to indicate the beginning of an exercise,” the report said.“Because we’ve not been able to interview the day shift warning officer who transmitted the false alert, we’re not in a position to fully evaluate the credibility of their assertion that they believed there was an actual missile threat and intentionally sent the live alert (as opposed to believing that it was a drill and accidentally sending out the live alert),” it added.The FCC was also critical of HEMA’s failure to develop “standard procedures” to cancel a false alert and said “the error was worsened by the delay in authoritatively correcting the misinformation.”In the future, the FCC said, supervisors will receive advance notice of all drills and two warning officers will validate alerts instead of one.Crabtree wrote that he is not persuaded by the state’s argument that enjoining the Kansas law will cause Israeli companies to refuse to do business in Kansas, or with Kansas companies, and thus harm the Kansas economy.The lawsuit said Koontz, who lives about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Wichita in Newton, is a Mennonite and the wife of a pastor. She decided to boycott Israeli products and services to “support the Palestinians’ struggle for equality.”A Kansas State Department of Education official told Koontz in August that she could not be paid as a teacher trainer because she refused to certify that she was not participating in a boycott of Israel. The lawsuit names state Education Commissioner Randy Watson as the defendant.In his ruling, Crabtree wrote that Koontz and other members of the Mennonite Church have “banded together” to express collectively their dissatisfaction with Israel and influence governmental action.The law’s legislative history reveals that its goal is to undermine the message of those participating in a boycott of Israel, the judge wrote. This is either viewpoint discrimination against the opinion that Israel mistreats Palestinians, or subject matter discrimination on the topic of Israel — both impermissible goals under the First Amendment, Crabtree said.State Rep. Randy Powell, a conservative Olathe Republican who pushed for the law, said he remains confident that it’s constitutional.“It still allows for freedom of speech. It still allows individuals to boycott,” he said. “But any state can choose to do business with who they wish.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to skip State of the Union address-Supreme Court Justice will be speaking at Rhode Island university in lieu of attending Trump's speech to Congress-By JTA-TOI-31 January 2018

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will miss the State of the Union speech by President Donald Trump due to a speaking engagement.On Tuesday night, at the time of the address, Ginsburg will be speaking at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. She has been on an extensive speaking tour during the high court’s current monthlong recess, The Associated Press reported.Ginsburg also did not attend Trump’s address to Congress in January 2017; fellow justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also skipped the speech. She attended all eight of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses. It is not unusual for the justices to skip such addresses, however, according to the AP.Ginsburg spoke last week at the Sundance Film Festival, where a documentary about the justice was screened, in a conversation/interview with Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio. She also is scheduled to speak at law schools and synagogues during her speaking tour, the AP reported.Ginsburg, 84, the oldest member of the court, criticized Trump in July 2016 when he was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in several interviews, calling him “a faker” and saying that he “has no consistency about him.”“He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego,” she said.Trump responded in a tweet, saying that Ginsburg “has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot — resign!”Ginsburg has written two of the court’s four decisions this session and reportedly has hired law clerks through 2020, according to the AP.

EU in push to seal Latin American trade deal-By Eszter Zalan-JAN 31,18-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, Today, 16:22-Top officials from the EU and the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay were meeting on Tuesday (30 January) in Brussels to give a political push to reaching a trade deal in the face of increasing US protectionism.Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem and agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan were meeting with ministers from the four countries in an effort to make political compromises and let negotiators work out the details in the coming days and weeks.An announcement on a deal was not expected Tuesday, although a breakthrough could come from the talks that, according to EU officials, are designed to prepare for an "endgame".After securing major free trade deals in recent times with Canada and Japan, the EU is now keen to secure yet another market opening, whilst US president Donald Trump heralds in an 'America First' policy of protectionism.For the EU, trade has become an important tool to secure multilateralism and free trade as the US is withdrawing from treaties and closes inwards - while also creating opportunities for European firms to export.Talks with the Mercosur countries initially kicked off in 2010, then were paused in 2012, and reopened in 2016.However, negotiators are working against the clock as a deal is needed to be secured before the campaign for Brazil's presidential and general elections kicks off in March, ushering in a series of elections that would put off any meaningful negotiation until 2019.-No Plan B-"There is no plan B, no exit strategy, we need to finish it and we need to finish it now," chief EU negotiator Sandra Gallina told MEPs last week.

EU offers UK 'status quo' transition without vote-By Eszter Zalan-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, 29. Jan, 17:50-EU ministers adopted on Monday (29 January) the starting positions in the negotiation with the UK on a transition period after Brexit, saying the UK should apply all the EU rules without having a say in them."EU General Affairs Council adopts guidelines for Brexit negotiations within 2 min: status quo transition without institutional representation, lasting from Brexit date to 31 December 2020," Sabine Weyand, the EU's deputy chief Brexit negotiator tweeted during the meeting.It represents the EU's starting position for chief negotiator Michel Barnier to negotiate with London a transition deal that British prime minister Theresa May has proposed last September.EU ministers agreed the transition should last until 31 December 2020, to coincide with the end of the EU's long-term budget - so that the lengthy negotiations for the next budget cycle are not mixed up with Brexit talks.That gives 21 months months after the UK officially leaves the bloc on 30 March 2019 to negotiate and ratify a deal on the future relations.During the transition period the UK will have to abide by all the EU rules as if it were a member state.But it will not take part in any of the institutions, nor will it be part of the decision-making, which is sure to irritate Brexit-supporters, some within Theresa May's own party, who hoped to "take back control" from the EU.Barnier told reporters after the meeting the UK will have to agree to this from the outset.He said that the UK will have to adhere to EU rules because London wanted to stay in the single market and the customs union during the transition period."The UK will continue to have all the economic benefits, therefore it must apply all the EU rules ... the single market cannot be a la carte," the French poltiician said, adding that this will provide stability for citizens and businesses.All existing budgetary and judiciary structures will also apply, meaning the UK will continue to pay into the budget, and accept the competence of the EU's top court.-Rare invites-Changes to the EU law adopted during the transition period would also apply to the UK. Although "exceptionally on a case-by-case basis", the UK can be invited to meetings without voting rights, if it is in the interest if the EU.UK Brexit minister David Davis, however, said last Friday the UK wants a mechanism to make sure such decisions do not run contrary to the UK's interests."We will have to agree a way of resolving concerns if laws are deemed to run contrary to our interests and we have not had our say," he said.-Third countries-EU ministers agreed that the UK can start trade negotiations with non-EU countries during the transition period, but those accords cannot enter into force during this period, unless the EU-27 agrees.The UK will also have to comply with EU trade policy. This means it will be bound by the over 750 international agreements the EU already has in place, and so it will have to apply EU customs tariffs and collect custom duties.Barnier warned however that the EU cannot guarantee the benefits stemming for those deals for the UK. "Our partners have their own views on this," he added.As part of maintaining the single market and its four freedoms, the EU also wants EU-27 citizens to enjoy the same rights in the UK until the transitions period ends as now."Those who arrived before the [end of the transition] date will enjoy the protection agreed in the joint report," Barnier said referring to the EU-UK agreement reached in December.No deal-The EU also warns the UK that what has been agreed so far, last December will have to be respected for further progress to happen.The transition agreement will be part of the withdrawal agreement.The main withdrawal issues were resolved last December, but as Barnier warned, some issues are still outstanding, such as public procurement, data protection, intellectual property and governance of the agreement."If no agreement on withdrawal agreement there will be no transition period," Barnier warned."For the market access part we need political impetus from both sides," Gallina said, adding: "I am in need for big political help if we are to finish this, […] it will be geopolitically very important, this agreement."Mercosur countries say the EU needs to further open up its own agricultural markets, including beef and ethanol.The EU offered in December to let Mercosur export 70,000 metric tonnes of beef at reduced tariffs, but Mercosur countries deemed it too low.While previously France was at odds with opening up the market for Mercosur beef, Ireland has now become concerned about its capacity to export, as its beef could also face UK tariffs after Britain leaves the EU."The moment is difficult for Europe, beef in Ireland might be affected by Brexit, so this maybe not the best time to go after such a deal," Gallina admitted last week.But the negotiations are not only about beef.The EU wants Mercosur countries – a region of 260 million consumers – to open their markets more significantly to dairy products, particularly cheese, cars and car parts, have access to maritime services, and reach an agreement on rules of origin and geographical indicators.The EU has called for an "ambitious and balanced" trade agreement. The EU-Mercosur trade in 2016 amounted to €85 billion.The deal will not cover investment provisions, thus there is no need for any sort of dispute mechanism, a controversial issue in previous trade deals.The EU is still negotiating with Japan the precise investment dispute mechanism to include in the economic agreement.