Tuesday, March 06, 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

Guatemala court rejects bid to block Israel embassy move-Judges turn down petition claiming transferring embassy to Jerusalem violates international law; FM says decision to move diplomatic mission 'irreversible'-By AFP-TOI-MAR 5,18

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has rejected a local lawyer’s attempt to prevent the government from moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as the US plans to do, a court spokesman said Saturday.Spokesman Santiago Palomo told AFP that the high court’s five magistrates turned down a request from lawyer Marco Vinicio Mejia, who argued in a petition filed in January that the embassy move was contrary to international law.The decision in December by President Donald Trump to transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has drawn widespread condemnation, with critics saying the moves damages hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Only seven small countries — including Guatemala and Honduras — sided with the United States and Israel on a nonbinding December 21 UN General Assembly resolution rejecting Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, however, soon followed Trump’s move, making Guatemala the first country to do so.Morales, who made the announcement on Facebook, said that Guatemala was a nation of “Christian thought,” adding that “Israel is our ally and we must support it.”In his brief, Mejia argued among other things that an order issued over social media such as Facebook carried no legal standing.The court said in its ruling that “the circumstances” did not make it “advisable” to grant an injunction, though it suggested that the matter was not definitively resolved.US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday thanked Morales for his support on the Jerusalem question.Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel said she has received calls from the Palestinian Authority asking for Guatemala to reconsider its stance.But the country’s position, she said, was irreversible.Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Marshall Islands partnering with Israeli company to create virtual money-Pacific island nation said it is the first country in the world to recognize a cryptocurrency as its legal tender-By AP-TOI-MAR 5,18

MAJURO, Marshall Islands — The tiny Marshall Islands is partnering with Israeli company Neema to create its own digital currency in order to raise some hard cash to pay bills and boost the economy.The Pacific island nation said it became the first country in the world to recognize a cryptocurrency as its legal tender when it passed a law this week to create the digital “Sovereign,” or SOV. In the nation of 60,000, the cryptocurrency will have equal status with the US dollar as a form of payment.Venezuela last month became the first country to launch its own cryptocurrency when it launched the virtual Petro, backed by crude oil reserves. The Marshall Islands said the SOV will be different because it will be recognized in law as legal tender, effectively backed by the government.The Marshall Islands plans to sell some of the currency to international investors and spend the proceeds.The Marshall Islands says the SOV will require users to identify themselves, thus avoiding the anonymity that has kept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from gaining support from governments.“This is a historic moment for our people, finally issuing and using our own currency, alongside the USD [US dollar],” said President Hilda Heine in a statement. “It is another step of manifesting our national liberty.”The Marshall Islands is closely aligned with the US under a Compact of Free Association and uses the dollar as its currency. Under the compact, the US provides the Marshall Islands with about $70 million each year in assistance. The US runs a military base on Kwajalein Atoll.Lawmakers passed the cryptocurrency measure Monday following five days of heated debate. It’s unclear when the nation will issue the currency.Leaders hope the SOV will one day be used by residents for everything from paying taxes to buying groceries.The law states that the Marshall Islands will issue 24 million SOVs in what it calls an Initial Currency Offering. Half of those will go to the government and half to Neema.The Marshall Islands intends to initially sell 6 million SOVs to international investors. It says it will use the money to help pay the budget, invest in projects to mitigate the effects of global warming, and support those people still affected by US nuclear testing.The country also intends to hand out 2.4 million SOVs to residents.Neema chief executive Barak Ben-Ezer said the SOV marked a new era for cryptocurrency.“SOV is about getting rid of the excuses” for not shifting to digital assets, he said in a statement. He said it solved a huge problem with cryptocurrencies, which haven’t previously been recognized as “real” money by banks, regulators and the US Internal Revenue Service.Some lawmakers expressed concern about the large amount of the new currency that would go to the Israeli company, while others argued the country had urgent needs and the cash would help.Jehan Chu, the Hong Kong-based co-founder of blockchain platform Kenetic, said he thought it was an amazing move by the Marshall Islands and was the way of the future.“Physical currency is going by the wayside as an antiquated, obsolete form of transacting,” he said.But Chu added that he didn’t think the currency would hold much appeal for international investors or be particularly valuable outside the Marshall Islands.And many people in the Marshall Islands and beyond remain skeptical of cryptocurrencies.Bank of England Governor Mark Carney this week said a global speculative mania had encouraged a proliferation of the currencies, and that they needed to be held to the same standards as the rest of the financial system.“The prices of many cryptocurrencies have exhibited the classic hallmarks of bubbles … reliant in part on finding the greater fool,” Carney said in a speech to the Scottish Economics conference in Edinburgh.

Netanyahu sets off to Washington for Trump meeting, AIPAC conference-PM says he'll thank US president for expected embassy move to Jerusalem, address Iran nuke deal and regional aggression, and talk peace plan-By TOI staff-MAR 4,18

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to take off later Saturday for a week-long trip to the United States, where he will speak before the annual convention at AIPAC and meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House, escaping — if momentarily — mounting legal troubles at home.In a statement on Saturday evening, Netanyahu said that in his upcoming meeting with Trump, he will thank the president “on behalf of the people of Israel, for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem to mark the state of Israel’s 70th Independence Day,” and will “first and foremost” speak with him on Iran, the 2015 nuclear deal, which Netanyahu has vehemently opposed, Iran’s “aggression in our region,” and “advancing peace” between Israelis and Palestinians.“Advancing these issues is important to Israel and important to the security of the entire world,” said Netanyahu in a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.Netanyahu is expected to receive a warm welcome at the White House on Monday, where he will meet with the president and senior staff, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a point man for mediation between Israel and the Palestinians. Kushner and a small team, including special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, have spent the past year preparing a much-awaited blueprint for peace, but no details have emerged. Kushner has been in the spotlight the week after losing his top-secret security clearance.Netanyahu has been a close ally of the US president, not least as his administration is set to upturn decades of international consensus, and US policy, when the US moves its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.On Tuesday, Netanyahu will speak before an expected crowd of 18,000 at the AIPAC conference, after having done so by satellite link the last two years.The US trip comes as Netanyahu is facing intensifying police investigations in Israel.On Friday, Netanyahu and his wife Sara were questioned under caution as suspects, according to Hebrew media reports, in the Bezeq corruption probe, known as Case 4000.The case involves suspicions that Shaul Elovitch, chief shareholder of telecommunications giant Bezeq, ordered the Walla news site, which he also owns, to grant fawning coverage to the Netanyahus in exchange for the prime minister’s advancement of regulations benefiting him.The two were questioned separately for five hours, and are both likely to face further interrogation in the case, Hadashot TV news reported on Friday.Asked to confirm whether the prime minister or his wife were being treated as criminal suspects, a police spokesman remained vague, telling The Times of Israel only that the interrogations took place “in general, as part of the investigation.”Also Friday, officials involved in the Bezeq corruption probe said that Netanyahu will be hard-pressed to explain away the “concrete” suspicions and “solid” evidence against him, Hadashot TV news reported.Officials also told Hadashot that suspicions against Netanyahu in the investigation, known as Case 4000, are more serious than those ascribed to him in previous cases 1000 and 2000 — in both of which police have recommended he be indicted for fraud, breach of trust, and bribery.Police investigators believe the evidence they have, including testimonies, physical evidence, and audio tapes, directly ties Netanyahu and his wife to the alleged crimes, according to Hadashot.One unnamed source told the TV station the case has “a very clear bottom line,” and that investigators do not see a way for Netanyahu to explain the evidence gathered against him. Another said the prime minister had been caught lying in previous rounds of questioning — relating to the investigations of cases 1000 and 2000.Last month, police recommended that the prime minister be indicted for a series of serious corruption charges including bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in the two other cases.In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in return for certain benefits.Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing in these cases.

New headaches for Trump’s Mideast hopes as Netanyahu visits-US president, Israeli PM each distracted by legal investigations at home, while point-man Kushner deals with his own political firestorm-By Matthew Lee and Josh Lederman-TOI-MAR 5,18

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under the best of circumstances, a Mideast peace deal is the Holy Grail of diplomacy, a goal that has eluded American presidents for generations.With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to visit Washington this coming week, the mix of politics, personalities, and historical grievances that has stood in the way of Israeli-Palestinian peace is even more combustible than normal.President Donald Trump’s point man for mediation, Jared Kushner, is in the middle of a political firestorm, his plan remains a mystery, and the Palestinians aren’t even speaking to the White House.If that weren’t enough, Netanyahu and Trump are both distracted by mushrooming legal investigations at home.It’s all contributing to an intensified pessimism in the US, Israel, and the West Bank about prospects for a Trump-brokered initiative to succeed.Kushner and a small team have spent the past year preparing a much-awaited blueprint for peace, but no details have emerged. Many in the region wonder whether the vaunted plan will ever come.On the surface, Israel’s relationship with the White House has never been better, buoyed by the Jewish state’s thunderous support for Trump’s decision to relocate the US Embassy in Jerusalem and recognize the disputed city as Israel’s capital. The announcements only reinforced Palestinians impressions of Trump as biased against them.“A mediator will have to mediate between two semi-equal parties. Otherwise it’s not a mediation process,” said Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to Washington, in a recent Associated Press interview. “You have to level the field and level your relationship between the two sides in order to be an honest mediator.”The world may soon be able to judge for itself.The Trump administration’s peace proposal is near completion, according to US officials, but faces an uncertain future as Kushner, the Trump son-in-law leading the effort, recently lost his top-secret security clearance. Former negotiators say Kushner’s downgraded status probably will severely impair his ability to do the job.Beneath the veneer of US-Israeli unity, there is lingering disagreement and suspicion.Israel is increasingly worried that Trump is backsliding on a pledge to “fix” or dismantle the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Israel also is concerned that behind Trump’s tough public stance toward Tehran is an acquiescence to Iran’s growing presence in Syria and influence in Lebanon — two Israeli neighbors.“The Israelis now are undoubtedly sounding the alarm,” said Jonathan Schanzer, who researches Iran’s regional influence at the hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. “The assets the Israelis see on the other side of the border to its north — they are not happy.”Nevertheless, it’s in Netanyahu’s interest to keep such disputes out of the public eye, said David Makovsky, a former State Department official who worked on Mideast peace negotiations. The Israeli leader faces multiple investigations related to allegations of bribery and corruption.“It’s important for him not to run afoul of Trump,” said Makovsky, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It’s necessary for him to show he’s not so engulfed by his own legal problems that he’s not functioning as a leader.”Trump and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet Monday, in the middle of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, which brings thousands of pro-Israel officials, lawmakers, activists, and academics to Washington.Vice President Mike Pence, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Trump’s envoy to Israel, David Friedman, will give speeches, and each is likely to hammer away at Iran.Israel views Iran as an existential threat and Netanyahu has repeatedly implored Trump to “fix it or nix it” when it comes to the nuclear deal. That agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration and other world powers, rewarded Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief for curbing its nuclear program.Critics, including Netanyahu and Trump, say Tehran got too much for too little. Among the remedies they’re advocating: removal of several of the deal’s clauses that allow Iran to gradually resume advanced nuclear work starting in 2024.Trump has said he won’t renew US waivers for sanctions when they next expire on May 12, unless European countries agree to a new deal that would force them to punish Tehran if the Iranians resume advanced nuclear work. He wants tougher inspections and penalties for Iranian missile testing. He also wants Europe to punish Iran’s support for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.Israeli officials are most immediately concerned about Iran’s missile work. They want US and European commitments to punish Iran for work on medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel and Iran’s Arab rivals. The Europeans have balked, citing UN restrictions that focus only on longer-range projectiles. US officials negotiating with Britain, France, and Germany appear to agree with the Europeans, prompting the Israeli concern.Trump’s Mideast peace aspirations aren’t any more certain. After winning praise in Israel for his Jerusalem proclamation, he made clear the Israelis would have to make concessions, too. He hasn’t said what those might be.“You won one point, and you’ll give up some points later in the negotiation, if there’s ever a negotiation,” Trump said in January.

For AIPAC in a polarized America, bipartisanship is a near-impossible challenge-As pro-Israel lobby holds its annual flagship conference in Washington, Israel is no longer an issue of overwhelming consensus-By David Horovitz-TOI-MAR 5,18

WASHINGTON — AIPAC’s annual police conference opens Sunday in the nation’s capital and, on the surface, everything in the garden is rosy.Even this powerful pro-Israel lobby doesn’t expect the president to grace its flagship event every year, but Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking here, as he did last year. So too will the undisputed star of the 2017 gathering, Nikki Haley, who, after a year of standing up for Israel at the United Nations, is likely to get an even warmer reception than last year’s roars and cheers.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading in from Israel for the event — and will be dropping in at the White House in the course of his visit — as are no fewer than three prominent opposition figures, Avi Gabbay, Isaac Herzog, and Tzipi Livni.Doubtless hanging on their every word will be a predicted audience of 18,000 AIPAC supporters, 3,500 of whom are students — a robust young generation of pro-Israel activists, direct from the campus battlefields.And yet this year’s policy conference finds AIPAC striving to highlight its commitment to bipartisan support for Israel in an America where there is precious little bipartisan support for anything, and on behalf of an Israel whose leadership under Netanyahu is widely regarded as having thrown in its lot with the Republicans, or, more specifically, with the Trump administration.Support for Israel truly was an overwhelmingly consensual issue in American politics for many years, but is gradually morphing into yet another area in which Republicans and Democrats are openly at odds. Indeed, it was at AIPAC two years ago that this divide was savagely revealed.The only Jewish presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, chose to be the sole presidential candidate to give AIPAC a wide berth that year, opting instead to campaign in Salt Lake City. To coincide with the conference, Sanders instead made public a speech that would have gone down like a lead balloon had he chosen to deliver it to the pro-Israel lobby, in which he lambasted Israel for its ostensible “disproportionate responses to being attacked,” criticized its “bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps” in the 2014 war with Hamas, and demanded an end to Israel’s “blockade of Gaza.”Meanwhile, candidate Donald J. Trump, whom AIPAC leaders had worried might be booed by the crowd, drew increasingly warm applause with a speech not only pledging that “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second class citizen will end,” which was just about okay, but also castigating president Barack Obama as possibly “the worst thing that ever happened to Israel, believe me” — a devastatingly inappropriate declaration at the annual gathering of an organization committed to bipartisan US support for Israel. (Trump also chortled untenably, “With President Obama in his final year, yay…”) With many of its supporters, especially black Americans, deeply offended, AIPAC’s leadership took the exceptional step of going out in front of its crowd the following morning and apologizing for Trump’s anti-Obama comments — without mentioning Trump by name — expressing its “great offense” regarding remarks “that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage.”That step reduced some of the outrage on one side, but also, inevitably, infuriated many in the Trump campaign — and has not been forgotten. It will be interesting to see whether this president — so supportive of Israel, as evidenced by his early visit to Jerusalem, his stop at the Western Wall, his moving of the embassy, and his involvement of Israel in considerations over how to handle Iran and the nuclear deal — does speak again at AIPAC in one of the coming years. It is a fairly safe bet that, even if he hadn’t been embroiled in crisis right now, Jared Kushner, peace envoy and son-in-law, would not have been here this week.Meanwhile, a Pew poll last month showed very strong Republican support for Israel, and sliding backing from the Democrats. When the next presidential campaign rolls around, Republican candidates can be relied upon to talk up their pro-Israel bona fides. Democratic would-be presidents? Not so much.Even with the benefits of hindsight, it’s hard to see how AIPAC could have handled its near-impossible task of maintaining a bipartisan consensus on Israel in so divided an America. Regarding the 2016 fiasco, for instance, it could hardly not have invited candidate Trump, and it very probably sought to ensure ahead of time that his speech was appropriate; the Obama-bashing was likely ad-libbed.In the Obama era, AIPAC was criticized by some of its right-wing supporters for not being publicly tougher on the administration, notably over the Iran deal and the candidacy of defense secretary Chuck Hagel. In the Trump era, some of its left-wing supporters are so appalled by the presidency that their hostility to Trump can overwhelm their concerns for Israel — especially an Israel that can be alienating. They’ve seen Netanyahu freeze the painstakingly negotiated Western Wall religious pluralism compromise, for instance, and many regard the government as intolerably hard-hearted in its treatment of African asylum-seekers.Pence and Halley will be received with great warmth. Netanyahu, however divisive a figure for Diaspora Jews, and however deeply embroiled in corruption allegations at home, will also almost certainly garner an extremely warm welcome.AIPAC, which has almost plaintively given this year’s conference the slogan “Choose to Lead,” has also taken care to give plenty of prominence to speakers from both sides of the House — Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY); Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and so on.But a very well-received address by candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 was rapidly forgotten amid the outrage provoked in some quarters by Trump’s address just hours later.The lobby’s leadership is fully aware that the pendulum swings in American politics. As it works to strengthen the US-Israel relationship, it knows that it cannot afford to have Israel perceived as the pet cause of only one side of the political spectrum. But being cognizant of the challenge is only part of a battle that — when fractured America looks at complex, divided Israel — appears almost unwinnable right now.

Secret Service says man shoots self near White House-Law enforcement agency tweets medical personnel attending to 'male victim' with a self-inflicted gunshot wound along the north fence line-By TOI staff and Agencies-MAR 5,18

The US Secret Service said that agents responded to sounds of gunfire near the White House on Saturday with suspicions that someone may have shot themselves.In a tweet, the federal law enforcement agency charged with protecting American leaders said “personnel responded to reports of an individual suffering from a self-inflicted gun shot wound along the north fence line of the White House.”The agency added later that there were “no other reported injuries related to the incident,” and that the “male victim” was receiving medical attention.US President Donald Trump is currently at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and is expected to return to the White House later Saturday.BREAKING: Secret Service personnel are responding to reports of a person who allegedly suffered a self-inflicted gun shot wound along the north fence line of @WhiteHouse.— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) March 3, 2018-The White House press secretary said, “we are aware of the situation, the president has been briefed.”

Bahrain arrests 116 alleged members of ‘Iran-linked terror cell’-A government statement says the cell formed by IRGC planned to target leading security figures, carry out attacks-By AFP-TOI-MAR 5,18

Dubai, UAE — Bahrain said on Saturday that it had arrested 116 people accused of belonging to a “terror” cell allegedly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.An official statement on state news agency BNA said that security services had in the process thwarted a number of attacks and seized large quantities of arms and explosives.Authorities in the tiny Gulf state have cracked down hard on dissent since mass street protests in 2011, which demanded an elected prime minister and constitutional monarchy in the Sunni-ruled, Shiite majority kingdom.Bahrain frequently accuses opposition figures of links to Shiite Iran, which denies supporting any bid to overthrow the government.The statement charged that the cell planned to target leading security figures and carry out attacks on oil and other vital installations.It accused those detained of being members of a cell formed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and said that as many as 48 of those detained had received military training in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.They received training on the use of explosives, light arms, artillery, and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the statement.Police seized 42 kilograms (93 pounds) of high explosives, 757 kilograms of materials used to manufacture explosives, several Kalashnikovs, and grenades, it said.A key US ally and home to the US Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has drawn harsh criticism from international rights groups over its crackdown on dissent.In January Bahrain police arrested 47 people on terrorism-related charges.Dozens of Bahrainis have been jailed and stripped of citizenship since Arab Spring-inspired protests broke out in 2011.Bahrain’s parliament and king last year granted military courts jurisdiction to try civilians charged with “terrorism” — a vaguely defined legal term.The kingdom has also deported citizens whose nationalities had been revoked.Last month Bahrain accused Iran of training and arming two men accused of bombing a Saudi Aramco oil pipeline outside the capital Manama — an allegation Tehran dismissed as “false.”

Putin promises ‘victories’ for Russia at star-studded rally-Olympic athletes, celebrities and cosmonauts take to stage to voice support for president, who has ruled country for almost two decades-By Maria Panina-TOI-MAR 5,18

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) –President Vladimir Putin on Saturday promised “victories” for Russia at a star-studded rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters ahead of a March 18 election he is all but certain to win.Olympic athletes, celebrities and cosmonauts had taken to the stage to voice their support for Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades and is seeking to extend his Kremlin term to 2024.“We want our country to be bright and looking to the future, for our children and grandchildren…we will do everything we can for them to be happy,” he told the cheering crowd at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium.“Nobody else will do this for us. And if we do this, the coming decade and the whole 21st century will be marked by our bright victories,” he said.“Together we are a team. Are we a team?” he asked the crowd, which replied, “Yes!”.Organisers said around 100,000 people were expected to turn out. An AFP journalist said the stadium was completely full for Putin’s speech, which was to be followed by a concert by big-name Russian popstars.Supporters held signs saying “I am for Putin”, “Putin is our president” and “I’m voting for the future”.“I do not see another candidate who could be our commander in chief. He’s the only one. Putin is our president,” Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov said from the stage.“Only with him can our country achieve cosmic successes,” said cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky.The event is the first rally in an otherwise lacklustre campaign for Putin, who has yet to produce a programme and has declined to take part in televised debates with seven other candidates.None of the other contenders, including former socialite Ksenia Sobchak and millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, has more than eight percent support, according to official polls.On Thursday Putin used a state of the nation address to set the course for a new arms race with WMoscowngton, boasting of a new generation of “invincible” Russian weapons developed in response to recent actions by the United States.He also outlined Russia’s priorities for the six years that would be his next term, focusing on reducing poverty and tackling environmental problems.Despite campaign promises when Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after four years as prime minister, his last term was marked by a fall in living standards and Russia’s international isolation.Boosted by a slavish media and foreign military adventures such as the annexation of Crimea in 2014, his approval rating remains sky-high and official polls suggest he will take almost 70 percent of the vote.

Investigators probe deadly twin attacks in Burkina Faso-Eight armed forces personnel killed, government says, while a French security source adds that 12 more were seriously injured-By AFP-TOI-MAR 5,18

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Authorities in Burkina Faso were on Saturday hunting for clues about the masterminds behind Friday’s deadly twin attacks on the French embassy and the country’s military HQ.The coordinated attacks in Ouagadougou, which coincided with a meeting of regional anti-jihadist forces, underlined the struggle the fragile West African nation faces in containing a bloody and growing jihadist insurgency.Eight armed forces personnel were killed, the government said, while a French security source said 12 more were seriously injured. Earlier security sources had reported a higher toll.There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and while a jihadist plot is the most likely, the government was not ruling out the involvement of plotters behind a failed coup in 2015.“This is a terrorist attack, linked to a current or another terrorist movement in the Sahel… or to others who want to are destabilise or block our democratic progress,” said communication minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou on Saturday morning.Two people were arrested near the headquarters, a security source told AFP.The government said the attack on the military HQ was a suicide car bombing and that the G5 Sahel regional anti-terrorism force may have been the target.“The vehicle was packed with explosives” and caused “huge damage”, Security Minister Clement Sawadogo said.Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger were at the meeting, representing the nations who have launched a joint military force to combat jihadists on the southern rim of the Sahara.President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in a statement: “Our country was once again the target of dark forces.”The violence began mid-morning when heavy gunfire broke out in the center of the Burkinabe capital.Witnesses said five armed men got out of a car and opened fire on passersby before heading towards the French embassy.The embassy attackers were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and were “dressed in civilian clothes” with their faces uncovered, witnessed said.At the same time, the bomb went off near the headquarters of the Burkinabe armed forces and the French cultural centre, about a kilometre (half a mile) from the site of the first attack, other witnesses said.A gunman who attacked the military HQ was wearing the uniform of the national army, according to a security source.Four attackers were shot outside the French embassy and another four at the military HQ, another security source told AFP.Paul Koalaga, a security consultant in Burkina Faso, said the attacks involved a “crescendo”.“After soft targets, such as hotels and restaurants, this attack aimed at hard targets, strong symbols,” he said, adding there appeared to be “a problem at the intelligence level.”The Ouagadougou prosecutor’s office appealed for witnesses “to assist in the search and identification of accomplices, hosts and any possible facilitators” of the events.The G5 meeting was supposed to have been held at the headquarters but had been moved to another room, Sawadogo said.“Perhaps it was the target. We do not know at the moment. In any case the room was literally destroyed by the explosion,” the minister added.The G5 Sahel’s completed force will be composed of 5,000 troops and aims to be fully operational by the end of the month.It has already carried out operations against jihadist fighters with help from the French army.Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger’s president and the current chair of the group, said Friday’s attacks “will only strengthen the resolve of the G5-Sahel and its allies in the fight against terrorism”.French President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a visit to neighbouring Mali, “strongly condemned” the attack while UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an “urgent and concerted effort” to improve stability in the Sahel.The insurgency in the region has caused thousands of deaths, prompted tens of thousands to flee their homes and dealt crippling blows to economies that are already among the poorest in the world.– Previous attacks –Burkina Faso has been the target of jihadist attacks since 2015, and this is the third time in two years that Ouagadougou is the target of jihadist attacks targeting places frequented by Westerners.On August 13 last year, two assailants opened fire on a restaurant on the capital’s main avenue, killing 19 people and wounding 21. No one has so far claimed responsibility for that attack.On January 15, 2016, 30 people — including six Canadians and five Europeans — were killed in a jihadist attack on a hotel and restaurant in the city centre.That attack was claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Murabitoun group, which was led by the one-eyed Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.A group called al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) also said some of its fighters were involved.