Iraqi soldiers killed in operation to reclaim Ramadi from Islamic State

December 13, 2015 David Gilbert 0


The Anbar Operations Command complex and Taamim neighborhood retaken by counter-terrorism forces are strategically significant because they overlook other parts of Ramadi which are still under the militants’ control. Iraqi troops also managed to confiscate a large amount of weaponry.

Ramadi, a provincial capital in the fertile Euphrates valley just a short drive west of Baghdad, was Islamic State’s biggest conquest since previous year, and reversing it would be a major victory for the Iraqi government and its spectrum of allies that include both the United States and Iran. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama has not yet signed off on the Apaches and they would only be used at the request of Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He didn’t go into details, and other officials say the Pentagon has yet to fully develop what was little more than a concept when Carter announced it last week. “So in the end, while we can enable them, we cannot substitute for them”, Carter said. “In the near term, it would be a significant undertaking that, much as we may wish otherwise, realistically, we would embark upon largely by ourselves; and it would be ceding our comparative advantage of special forces, mobility, and firepower, instead fighting on the enemy’s terms”, Carter told lawmakers.

But leaving isn’t necessarily easy.

However, he admitted that it was hard for those residents still inside the city to leave.

“We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria”. “The insurgents have sectioned Ramadi into a group of smaller segments and do not permit the passage of civilians from one area to the other because they suspect anyone at the moment of being an informant for the security forces”, he said.

Another told CNN that most people were unable to leave due to the threat of being caught fleeing by ISIS. “The government is not proving us any guarantees that we will be safe during our trip south”.

Taken together, the comments by Dunford and Carter counter President Barack Obama’s claim that the extremists have been contained in Iraq and Syria after a $5.2 billion bombing campaign over the last 16 months. At that point, Iraqi forces had established positions in the city’s suburbs, he said. “We believe now is the time for the final push into Ramadi“.

Since overrunning Ramadi, Daesh has destroyed all the bridges around the city.

Last month, USA military personnel worked with Kurdish guerrilla commanders behind the front lines to retake the city of Sinjar in northwest Iraq.

So far, the US DoD has deployed 3,500 troops in six locations to support Iraqi security forces.

The spokesman said US airstrikes also killed Abu Maryam, an IS “enforcer and senior leader of their extortion network”, and Abu Rahman al-Tunisi, described as an IS executive officer who coordinated the transfer of information, people and weapons. Turkey is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Col Warren said there had been an estimated 600 to 1,000 Isis fighters inside Ramadi, but officials are reluctant to predict how long it may take to reclaim the city. Mosul remains firmly in the hands of Islamic State militants.…

Catholic Priest Allegedly Stole Millions Of Dollars To Pay Rent Boy Lover

December 12, 2015 David Gilbert 0

A lawsuit has been filed against Rev. Peter Miqueli, accusing the pastor of stealing over $1 million in donations to support and pay for sex with his gay lover.

Fr. Peter Miqueli, who continues to work as a pastor in St. Frances de Chantal Church in the Bronx, has had a case brought against him by his current and former parishioners at two churches in New York City.

Miqueli also spent significant funds on “illicit and prescription drugs”, to the tune of $60,000 in 2012; used church funds to finance the purchase of a $264,000 New Jersey home; spent stolen funds on vacations; and was so brazen in his theft, he pinched money directly from the collection plates.

The suit seeks an end to the “truly sinful conduct” which includes the claim that the priest paid Crist $1,000 a session ‘to act out his sexual fantasies’ by role-paying where Crist was the ‘master or dominant in a BDSM relationship.’ Father Miqueli played ‘the slave, ‘ suit says.

The prostitute has been named as Keith Crist, who would be paid $1000-a-session for sadomasochistic sex with the Catholic priest.

Another scandal is hitting the Archdiocese of New York after parishioners from St. Frances de Chantal in Bronx, New York, filed a lawsuit against an alleged gay priest.

The lawsuit goes on to say that repairmen at the priest’s house often saw “several unstacked piles of cash, each approximately one foot high” scattered around the priest’s residence.

Crist hung up on a reporter and Miqueli declined to answer a call through a church receptionist.

We can’t understand it“, said Bronx parishioner Jack Lynch.

At de Chantal, Miqueli briefly tried to have Crist serve as the parish’s new business manager, according to the complaint – only to have the Archdiocese give the boyfriend the boot after a complaint.

The lawsuit says he provided no accounting of the money and routinely deposited the cash into his own personal account at an HSBC in Hauppauge, L.I. “We suspect a scandal behind the scandal”. “This is a bad guy”, Mr Dowd said. Church members have created a petition and a Facebook page demanding Father Miqueli’s removal.

The Archdiocese said they are taking the allegations seriously and have ordered an audit of the parish. “We have asked the people making the allegations to document it, substantiate the allegations, so that if they’re true we can take the appropriate action” Zwilling said. An investigation earlier this year resulted in minor financial changes to the church’s governing. “We’re only asking them to look into our suspicions, that’s all they had to do”.

Miqueli, who has a salary of $2,545 a month, now has more than $900,000 in savings and a brokerage account, according to the court filings.…

The British Pound Lower After the BoE Keeps Interest Rate Unchanged

December 12, 2015 David Gilbert 0


When the Bank first made that short-term inflation forecast last month, it prompted investors to push back into late 2016 and 2017 their expectations of when the Bank was likely to finally start raising rates.

The pound’s initial decline after the meeting’s minutes were published Thursday was short-lived, and Britain’s currency swung between gains and losses versus the USA dollar for much of the afternoon.

South Korea’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 1.5 per cent for a sixth consecutive month on Thursday, ahead of an anticipated rate increase by the US Federal Reserve.

“Yesterday’s Bank of England minutes did not rock the boat from the November Inflation Report“, he said. If it does keep the rate unchanged, any gain in the kiwi may be limited by the prospects of a Fed hike next week, traders said.

Against the euro, the pound was also down 0.2 percent at 72.305 pence.

Inflation was below zero for the second month during October and recent data on the economy remains mixed giving the BOE some room to maintain its policy setting for the time being, said London analysts.

The only member to vote for a rate rise was Ian McCafferty, one of four external members on the panel. At the same time, policy makers have has tried to avoid the risk of triggering a selloff of Serbian assets by reducing borrowing costs too quickly.

Inflation at the consumer level was expected to rise as drops in the prices for energy and food steadily dropped out of the calculations for the consumer price index, the Bank of England explained in a statement. Societe Generale and Canada’s RBC Capital Markets and financial expert Charles Rosier have recommended selling sterling in the past week, the French bank predicting the pound may fall as low as $1.30 if voters vote in a referendum to leave the EU. “The trend should be toward at least 6-3 by now”.

United Kingdom government bonds were little changed, paring an earlier advance.

The lowest core PCE forecasts also fell over the same period, particularly for the third and fourth quarters of next year, to 0.9 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively, from 1.4 percent in earlier polls.

“The outlook for inflation reflects the balance between persistent drags from factors such as sterling and world export prices and prospective further increases in domestic cost growth”.

Governor Mark Carney and other Monetary Policy Committee members said the “material news” in the month since they had last met was that oil prices had “fallen markedly again”, which raised the likelihood of inflation staying subdued.…

United Nations climate chief says talks on track, advises negotiators to rest and focus

December 6, 2015 David Gilbert 0

“There is a requirement of success that weighs on us, we must keep it in mind during our work”, the French foreign minister stressed, noting that a “draft agreement” was to be delivered to him on Saturday. The leaders of France, Germany, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Ethiopia, as well as heads of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development say either taxing carbon emissions or a cap-and-trade system is the best way to mitigate climate change, the Associate Press reports.

While these informal meetings are taking place, another strand of negotiators have broad oversight of the whole package of details that will make up any agreement, attempting to steer it through to a deal, and a third strand are working on some of the important issues that will make up the package, such as financial assistance for poor countries, commitments on greenhouse gas emissions, and mechanisms for ensuring countries are accountable for meeting their targets in a transparent way.

Brandalism’s Joe Elan said: ‘By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and GDF-Suez-Engie can promote themselves as part of the solution – when actually they are part of the problem’.

It said that the agreement should be as per all the principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) especially equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

However, negotiators said the nitty-gritty discussions for a hugely complex 54-page draft text, riddled with undecided clauses, were advancing too slowly. “At some point, we definitely need to switch gear”. Negotiators say that the French, who have put a massive diplomatic effort into the past year of preparations, are acutely aware of the risk that any agreement will be foiled not by a lack of political will to forge a deal, but by being bogged down in the unwieldy details of the text.

“I remain confident that it will be a hard fought two weeks but at the end of the day we are likely to achieve, and I believe we will achieve, an agreement”, Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres cautioned against despair.

“I think our dialogue with India and the plan that they have produced and some of the cooperation that we are undertaking on clean energy comes from people’s recognition that much of what the president has set in motion here in the United States is going to be enduring”, she said.

Touching on the rich-poor issue, British charity Oxfam issued a study saying the wealthiest 10 percent of people produce half of Earth’s fossil-fuel emissions, while the poorest half contribute a mere 10 percent.

But she said the biggest gap was over climate finance.

At the core of the talks is the goal of limiting warming to a maximum of 2ºC (3.6ºF) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

“We can be even more ambitious”.

Since then, scientists have pounded out an ever-louder warning that relentlessly climbing carbon emissions will doom future generations to rising seas and worsening floods, storms and drought – a recipe for hunger, disease and homelessness for many millions.…