Newscast Media ADDIS ABABA—Leaders attending the African Union Summit have decided that no troops will be deployed without Burundi’s consent, marking a 180-degree turn on the AU’s earlier position. Simona Foltyn reports from Addis Ababa.
The African Union has shelved a proposal to deploy 5,000 peacekeeping troops to contain an ongoing crisis in Burundi. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, said that no stabilization force would be deployed without the consent of Burundi’s government. A high-level delegation will be sent to the capital, Bujumbura, instead to negotiate a solution acceptable to President Pierre Nkurunziza.
“We want dialogue with the government of Burundi. The assembly has decided to send a high-level delegation to the country so they hold a dialogue,” said Chergui at a press conference at the 26th AU summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The timing and composition of the delegation is yet to be determined.
The conflict in the East African nation was among the topics topping the agenda at this year’s AU summit, attended by African leaders and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Burundi plunged into disarray after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term last year, a move in violation of term limits enshrined in the country’s constitution. The conflict has claimed more than 400 lives, and has forced 230,000 people from their homes.
Nkurunziza’s government has strongly opposed the deployment of peacekeepers, calling it an “invasion force.” Analysts said that there wasn’t enough support among other African heads of state to deploy the force against Burundi’s will, amid fears that such a decision could set a precedent in an organization known for its culture of non-intervention. A two-thirds majority by the General Assembly would have been required to pass the proposal.
“There is just no consensus anymore, even in the Peace and Security Council,” said Stephanie Wolters, an analyst at the Institute for Security Studies. “We have seen a toning down of the commentary by the envoys on what this force will do. They are now positioning it as something that will help the Burundian government to establish stability.”
Now that the AU is taking a less confrontational stance, observers say Nkurunziza might feel emboldened, with the country threatening to spiral into further violence. “If the AU summit doesn’t sanction Burundi in some way, the Burundians will walk away feeling they were successful and that the fraternity of heads of state is on their side,” said Wolters.
Nkurunziza’s government stands accused of grave human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, mass arrests and torture. Given the political deadlock over the deployment of troops, the international community had hoped AU leaders would at least agree on the deployment of additional human rights monitors.
“We think one of the most urgent needs is to get eyes and ears on the ground, credible international AU monitors. The government has systematically prevented that kind of monitoring on the ground,” said US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region Thomas Perriello.
However, no agreement on the deployment of additional human rights observers or on the formalization of the mandate of those on the ground was made in the course of the summit.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media DES MOINES—On his weekend interview with FOX’s Chris Wallace, Donald Trump said he doesn’t regret skipping the FOX News debate, because he raised $6 million for retired veterans, something the real estate developer says he is proud of.
Trump also campaigned with Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, who endorsed him and has helped him win over social conservatives and other Christian groups.
When asked by Chris Wallace about the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, Trump replied, “…If I’m elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench, that I think, maybe could change things, but they’ve got a long way to go. At some point we have to get back down to business, but there is no question about it, and most people feel this way. They have ruled on it, I wish it was done by the state. I don’t like the way they ruled. I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint that it should be a states’ right issue, and that’s the way it should have been ruled on Chris, not the way they did it. This was a very surprising ruling…”
Chris Wallace then asked, “Are you saying that if you become president you might appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?”
“I would strongly consider that, yes,” Trump replied.
This message of course, is music to the ears of Evangelicals, many of whom will be voting in the Iowa Caucus today, which is the first major electoral event, in the process of nominating the president of the United States.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released today, February 1, Trump leads by 31 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 24, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson at 17 percent and 8 percent respectively.
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—The Syrian army on Wednesday established control over four villages near the strategic town of Salma which was liberated a day earlier.
“An army unit, in cooperation with the popular defense groups, established on Wednesday control over al-Marouniyat village, 1 km north of Salma town in the northeastern countryside of Lattakia province,” SANA news agency reported.
Taking control of the village followed fierce clashes with the terrorist organizations late on Tuesday and early Wednesday that ended up in killing many terrorists, according to the source.
Tens of terrorists fled towards Rabiaa town, near the Turkish borders, SANA added.
Later, a military source told SANA that Army and Armed Forces units, in cooperation with popular defense groups, established control over Sheikh Khalil and Marj al-Khokha village east of Salma town.
The Syrian army on Tuesday took control of Salma town, which is considered a strategic bastion for Takfiri insurgents of Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham in Lattakia countryside.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army is making advances in the countryside of both provinces of Aleppo and Hama, while its units, backed by the Air Force, continue targeting terrorists’ positions in other provinces, destroying more sites and equipment and killing many terrorists. Full Article>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladmir Putin on Wednesday, the White House said. The discussion centered around Ukraine, and reaching a political solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis, White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
According to the White House, the President underscored that the key next step is for the sides to reach agreement on the modalities of local elections in the Donbas region of Ukraine, which must meet Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe standards.
The leaders discussed the urgent need to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 on Syria. Further, they noted the necessity of taking steps to foster productive discussions between representatives of the Syrian opposition and regime under United Nations auspices, principally by reducing violence and addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian people, especially those living in besieged and hard to reach communities.
Finally, they discussed the importance of a strong and united international response to North Korea’s nuclear test in defiance of Security Council resolutions.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The White House has said it needs to do more diplomatic and technical work before it will announce any sanctions in response to ballistic missile launches by Iran.
President Barack Obama’s administration is considering a number of additional targets for sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The U.S. Congress has been notified of those deliberations.
Some lawmakers have criticized the administration for what they describe as delayed punitive action in response to Iran’s recent missile tests.
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said the pact that the United States and five other world powers negotiated with Iran last year to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon will not impede future sanctions.
Rhodes said Iran had no say on who the United States targets with sanctions designations. He said Washington expected protests from Iran, but added that won’t affect the final decision.
Rhodes spoke in Hawaii on January 2 as President Barack Obama wraps up his Christmas vacation.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media TEHRAN—Reacting to Saudi Arabi’s execution of an outspoken cleric, Hezbollah says the regime is looking at “the abyss” and that indications point to its upcoming demise.
“When a regime loses its mind, that means it has reached the abyss,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement, said on Sunday.
“The signs of the end of this corrupt criminal unjust Takfiri terrorist regime have begun to emerge,” he noted, saying, “The killing of our brothers, the spilling of our blood will not go just like that and they must be afraid, they must hide.”
Sheikh Nimr had been arrested in 2012 in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Shia-majority Eastern Province, which was the scene of peaceful anti-regime demonstrations at the time. He had been charged with instigating unrest and undermining the kingdom’s security. He had rejected the charges as baseless.
In 2014, a Saudi court sentenced the clergyman to death, provoking widespread global condemnations. Back then, the UK-based rights body Amnesty International called the sentence “appalling,” saying the verdict should be quashed since it was politically motivated.
Nasrallah, who was speaking during a televised address, said criticism is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, adding that the country is no place for any cleric of any sect casting the kingdom’s policies into question.
Elaborating on Riyadh’s way of treating criticism, the Hezbollah chief said, “He, who speaks out is executed. This is Saudi Arabia, which wants to spread democracy in the region.”
He also blasted Riyadh for its way of promoting divisions across the Muslim world, saying when there is difference between Sunnis and Shias “look for Saudi Arabia.”
“Has not the time come to say with courage to the whole world that the main source and the launching pad for Takfiri ideology…is from this regime, from this family,” Nasrallah noted, adding, “They are partners in all the blood which is spilled in the Arab and Islamic countries.”
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media TEHRAN—Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia will face “divine revenge” for executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, whose martyrdom sparked protests in which the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran was firebombed.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks underlined the fury felt in Iran and other regional countries over the execution of Sheikh Nimr on Saturday, who spent more than two years in Saudi jail before getting murdered.
His eminence called the killing of Sheikh Nimr “a political mistake by the Saudi government” which would “haunt its politicians”. His comments came ahead of protests planned to start in Tehran at 3:00 pm (1200 GMT).
“The unjustly spilt blood of this martyr will have quick consequences,” Sayyed Khamenei told clerics in the Iranian capital. “God will not forgive.”
“This scholar [martyr Sheikh Nimr] neither encouraged people into armed action nor secretly conspired for plots, but the only thing he did was utter public criticism rising from his religious zeal,” he said of Nimr.
Lashing out at the silence of those who claim to be calling for freedom, democracy and human rights and their support for the Saudi regime that sheds innocent blood just because of criticism and protests, Grans Ayatollah said that the Islamic world and the whole world should feel responsible before this crime and similar Saudi crimes committed in Yemen and Bahrain.
The 56-year-old cleric was put to death along with 46 other activists. The executions prompted protests in at least one city in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province, as well as in Iraq and Bahrain.
In Tehran the Saudi embassy was ransacked after protesters threw petrol bombs and stormed the building. The kingdom’s consulate in Mashhad, Iran’s second biggest city, was also set on fire.
In Iraq, hundreds demonstrated in the holy Shiite city of Karbala and prominent lawmaker Khalaf Abdelsamad urged the closure of Riyadh’s newly-reopened embassy in Baghdad and the expulsion of its ambassador.
In Yemen, where the kingdom is leading a war, the religious scholars’ association controlled condemned the execution.
Executions have soared in Saudi Arabia since King Salman ascended the throne a year ago – 153 people put to death in 2015, nearly twice as many as in 2014.
Rights watchdogs have repeatedly raised concern about the fairness of trials in the kingdom, where criticizing the regime, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery and rape are all punishable by death.
Source: Al Manar TV News
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama said in connection with the shooting incident in the city of San Bernardino, California, which left 14 people dead, that the incident was a “terrorist act,” vowing to destroy the ISIS organization which claimed responsibility for the attack.
Obama added that the United States would mobilize “all aspects of American power” to fight the organization, stressing that “the United States should not get involved in a new conflict on the ground.”
Obama indicated, “groups such as ISIS know that they cannot defeat us on the battlefield, and ISIS fighters were part of the groups that we have faced in Iraq. They know that in case of our occupation of a foreign land, they can keep the conflict for years, and the killing of thousands of our soldiers.”
Source: Iraqi News
Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—In a letter written to President Barack Obama, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he will not allow Syrian refugees to relocate to Texas in the wake of the Paris bombings.
“I–and millions of Americans–implore you to halt your plan to accept more Syrian refugees in the United States. A Syrian “refugee” appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack. American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger. The reasons for such concerns are plentiful,” the governor wrote. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
by Leonardo Blair
Newscast Media CAIRO—Antiquities officials in Egypt aren’t pleased with 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s claim that the country’s iconic pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grains instead of the bodies of ancient pharaohs.
At a recent news conference in that country officials there thumbed their collective noses at Carson’s recently publicized theory and grudgingly responded to the hoopla over his comments.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media NEW ORLEANS—President Barack Obama’s plan to protect from deportation an estimated 5 million people living in the United States illegally suffered another setback Monday in a ruling from a New Orleans-based federal appeals court.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction blocking the administration’s immigration initiative.
Republicans had criticized the plan as an illegal executive overreach when Obama announced it last November. Twenty-six states challenged the plan in court.
The administration argued that the executive branch was within its rights in deciding to defer deportation of selected groups of immigrants, including children who were brought to the U.S. illegally.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, praised the ruling.
“President Obama should abandon his lawless executive amnesty program and start enforcing the law today,” Abbott said in a news release. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY
Newscast Media TEHRAN—A large majority of Iranian legislators say the Islamic Republic is “not at all prepared” to abandon the slogan of “Death to America” despite a landmark nuclear deal signed with six world powers.
In a statement carried by state news agency IRNA on November 2, 192 members of the 290-member parliament described the slogan, chanted at the weekly Friday Prayers in mosques and at rallies, as “the symbol of the Islamic republic and all struggling nations.”
The statement was issued two days before Iran commemorates the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by radical Islamic students that led to a break in bilateral diplomatic relations.
Under the July nuclear accord, sanctions against Iran will be gradually lifted in return for Tehran imposing curbs on nuclear activities.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US Director of National Intelligence has said there is no evidence yet that terrorists brought down a Russian airplane in Egypt. The comments add to the confusion over the cause of the deadly crash.
James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, said on Monday that although there was no evidence a terrorist attack was behind the Russian plane crash it remained a possible cause.
“We don’t have any direct evidence of any terrorist involvement yet,” Clapper said in Washington. “It’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out.” Continue to full story>>
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—The Syrian military has begun a major ground offensive on the country’s second city of Aleppo. The advance in northern Syria has been supported by the Russian air force.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday that in the past 24 hours, “dozens” of Russian airstrikes had struck the area which is controlled by a various groups including rebels, Islamist fighters and al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, al Nusra Front.
“The Syrian army started a new front on Friday and advanced to take control of the villages of Abteen and Kaddar” about 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Aleppo city,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
According to a senior military source in Syria, the assaults are also being supported by hundreds of fighters from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
“This is the promised battle,” the source told Reuters news agency.
Several members of the international community have been questioning Russia’s intentions since Moscow launched its aeriel campaign in late September . Some Western officials have described the move as a ploy to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Russia maintains, however, that they are only targeting areas held by “Islamic State” (IS).
The safety of air personnel has also become an issue with the US and Russia both flying combat missions over Syria.
The offensive on Friday followed a similar advance by Syrian and Russian forces on Thursday on rebel-held areas of the central province of Homs.
The Observatory reported on Friday that at least 60 people, including 30 women and children, had been killed during the strikes. Seventeen rebel fighters were also among the dead.
The Syrian conflict has displaced millions and left more than 250,000 people dead since it erupted in 2011, following a government crackdown on people protesting President Assad’s regime.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—The third General Congregation of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened on Tuesday morning with the celebration of Terce (mid-morning prayer).
The homily for the Liturgy was delivered by Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Major Archbishop and President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.
In his homily, Cardinal Alencherry reminded the Synod Fathers that “the pastors of the Church in the present times are called to take upon their lives a prophetic role of suffering and kenosis.”
Previously, Pope Francis took center stage and recalled that a synod is not a parliament or senate, where people do deals and make compromises, but rather a journeying together of the people of God, guided by the Holy Spirit. His readings centered on three themes, “solitude, love between man and women, and the family.”
The First Reading came from the book of Genesis – the Lord giving Adam a helpmate. Pope Francis, reflecting on Adam’s loneliness, likened it to the drama of solitude experienced by men and women today – especially the elderly, widows and widowers and those left by their spouses. He said that many today are lonely because they are misunderstood and unheard – referring particularly to migrants and refugees.
The Holy Father went on to say that we experience “the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families.” He spoke of the growing interior loneliness that many in the world experience. He said that we live in a time when we have “many liberties, but little freedom.”
Speaking on the family Pope Francis said that people today are “less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad.”
He went on to say, “Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.”
Pope Francis said that God did not make men and women to live in sorrow or alone but, rather, for happiness.
Reflecting on Mark’s Gospel, the Holy Father said that Jesus was asked a rhetorical question to trap him and make him unpopular with the crowd: “Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?” In answer, he said, Jesus “responds in a straightforward and unexpected way.” The Pope said that he brings everything back to the beginning of creation: “to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility.”
When Jesus says “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” exhorts believers to “overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan,” the Pope said.
“For God marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures are doomed to solitude! Being afraid to accept his plan paralyses the human heart,” the Holy Father said.
He said that it was paradoxical that people today ridicule this plan and yet continue to be attracted and fascinated by authentic love. “We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love, they chase carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.”
The Holy Father said that it was in this “extremely difficult social and marital context” that the Church was to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.”
He said that the Church must be faithful to her Master’s voice and in so doing defend the sacredness of life, the unity and indissolubility of marriage, and be a sign of God’s grace and of the human ability to love seriously.
The truth, Pope Francis said, is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. “The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds.”
Quoting his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father said “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love.”
Speaking about the Church’s mission “in charity” Pope Francis used the image of a mother “conscious of her duty to seek and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy.” He spoke of the Church as a “field hospital” with “doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support.”
The Holy Father said that the Church teaches and defends fundamental values yet does not forget “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27) He also reminded us that Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk 2:17).
At the end of the homily Pope Francis quoted Pope St. John Paul II: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time.” He said that the Church must search out these persons to welcome and accompany them and not become a “roadblock” but a “bridge.”
Source: Vatican Radio
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia will consider extending its airstrikes against militants in Syria to Iraq if it receives such a request from Baghdad, the RIA news agency quoted the head of the country’s upper chamber of parliament as saying on Tuesday.
The speaker, Valentina Matviyenko, said Russia had so far not received such a request from the Iraqi government.
“In case of an official address from Iraq to the Russian Federation, the leaders of our country would study the political and military expediency of our Air Force’s participation in an air operation. Presently we have not received such an address,” Matviyenko told reporters on Tuesday during an official visit to Jordan. She also asked the press “to stop reading tea leaves” before actual events take place.
“I want to emphasize that Russia has no other political objectives and no interests other than the defeat of ISIS [formerly ISIS/ISIL] and that differs us from other nations that participate in another coalition,” Interfax news agency quoted Matviyenko as saying at a meeting with the head of the Jordanian Senate, President Abdur-Ra’uf Rawabdeh.
She also said that Russian authorities understood the necessity of political reforms in Syria, but the final decision on the nature of these reforms and future head of the Syrian state must be made by Syrian people without any external pressure or direct interference of foreign nations.
During the meeting with her Jordanian colleague, Matviyenko stated that Russia was calling upon all states that see the Islamic State as a threat to join the information center in Baghdad used by Russian, Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian security specialists and military. She added that Russia was ready for other forms of cooperation with all nations that share the common goal of fighting international terrorism.
Source: Al Manar TV News
Newscast Media DAMASCUS, Syria—The Russian Air Force carried out more airstrikes on 12 ISIL positions in Homs, Hama and Idleb as part of the agreement between Syria and Russia to eliminate the terrorists’ presence in Syria.
The Russian air operation in Syria started on Wednesday shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate to use military force in the Arab country upon President Bashar al-Assad’s request.
Russia Today website quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Maj. Igor Konashenkov as saying in a statement that “a terrorist HQ and an ammunition depot were destroyed near Idleb, as were a fortified three-level command center near Hama.”
“A direct bomb hit also completely destroyed a workshop north of Homs that produced explosives and ammunition,” he added, saying that at this workshop terrorists were stuffing vehicles with explosives, which were then used to carry out terrorist attacks.
Twenty airstrikes targeted eight ISIL positions in Syria on Wednesday, according to the Ministry. Those included ammunition warehouses and command and control centers.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense has described the country’s first airstrikes against the Takfiri ISIL terrorists in Syria as successful.
Eight positions of the terrorist group were targeted successfully during the raids, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday following the airstrikes.
“Ammunition depots, weapons, fuel and lubricants, accumulation of military equipment have been struck as a result of the airstrikes,” Konashenkov added.
He also said the command and control posts of Daesh in the area had been “completely destroyed,” emphasizing, however, that “the civilian infrastructure and the nearby territory was not stricken.”
In a relevant context, the Ministry announced that the Russian landing ships in the Mediterranean and Russia’s Black Sea Fleet forces will take part in the Russian air operation against terrorist organizations in Syria to protect the Russian military facilities in Tartous and Lattakia.
In the meantime, commander of a CIA-trained group told Reuters that two Russian airstrikes in Syria Thursday hit a training camp operated by militant groups that received military training organized by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Hassan Haj Ali, head of the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal terrorist group, said the camp in Idleb province was struck by around 20 missiles in two separate sorties.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Russia has conducted its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, a senior US official told CNN on Wednesday.
The Russians told the United States that it should not fly US warplanes in Syria, but gave no geographical information about where Russia planned to strike. The senior official said U.S. missions are continuing as normal.
Earlier Wednesday, the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin approval to use the air force in Syria, according to state media.
“The Federation Council unanimously supported the President’s request — 162 votes in favor of granting permission,” Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov said, according to ITAR-Tass.
After several days of familiarization flights, and the collection of potential targeting information by drones, the Russian air force was known to be ready.
Four Russian Su-34 Fullback fighter jets are now at the Latakia air base in Syria, and more than 600 Russian troops are in place, CNN said.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters Tuesday that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter directed his staff to “open lines of communication with Russia on de-confliction.”
The timing of these discussions is to be worked out in the coming days. The purpose of the discussions is “to ensure the safety of coalition air crews,” he said.
Cook added that the two nations have common ground when it comes to fighting ISIL with Carter making clear that “the goal should be to take the fight to ISIL and not to defend the Assad regime.”
Source: Al Manar TV News
by Stoyan Zaimov
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Mat Staver, attorney and founder of the Liberty Counsel, has claimed in an interview that Pope Francis met with and prayed with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during his visit to Washington, D.C. last week. The Vatican has refused to confirm or deny that the meeting between the pontiff and the clerk took place.
Staver told CBS News on Tuesday night that the two briefly met on Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Vatican Embassy in Washington.
“Staver said Pope Francis spoke to Davis in English and asked her to pray for him. He said Davis, in return, asked the pope to pray for her. The pope told her to stay strong, according to her lawyer,” CBS reported.
“Staver said the pope also gave Kim and her husband rosaries he had blessed.”
The pontiff also apparently thanked Davis for the courage she has displayed.
“There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, holy father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him,” Davis added in an Inside the Vatican report. (The website crashed presumably from a traffic spike on Wednesday morning after reporting the news.)
“So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.”
Staver has also claimed that the Vatican has possession of photos of the meeting. Father Ciro Benedettini of the Holy See Press Office has said, however, that “The Vatican does not confirm nor deny this.”
Vatican spokesperson the Rev. Federico Lombardi also refused to confirm or deny the meeting. Holy See officials have generally made it a policy not to comment on Francis’ private meetings.
Davis was jailed for six days earlier in September after she said she cannot sign same-sex marriage licenses, due to her religious belief that marriage is a union solely between one man and one woman.
“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis has said. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and your soul.”
The National Catholic Reporter said on Monday, however, that when Francis was asked about Davis on his flight back to Rome from Philadelphia, he said that he was unaware of the details behind the case.
Still, the Roman Catholic Church leader said that “conscientious objection” is a “human right,” and added that Davis should be allowed the right to follow her conscience. http://www.newscastmedia.com/kim-davis.html
Newscast Media CHATTANOOGA—When the Supreme Court issued the ruling in
Obergefell v. Hodges in regard to homosexual marriage, it hadn’t anticipated that such a
ruling would be used to deny couples divorces.
A Tennessee couple has been denied a divorce by Chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton, who
wrote, “When the U.S. Supreme Court defined what must be recognized as a marriage, it
would appear that Tennessee’s judiciary must now await the decision of the U. S.
Supreme Court as to what is not a marriage, or better stated, when a marriage is no
longer a marriage.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>