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.…

How A Water Bottle Can Save Lives

January 9, 2017 David Gilbert 0

IonPod Portable Alkalizing Water Bottle – Official Site IonPod Alkalizing Water Bottle – What is it?

Water is more than just a beverage: proper hydration is the cornerstone of an overall healthy lifestyle. If you want to stay hydrated in the go, and want enjoy clean, alkaline water that is convenient and delicious, Ionpod is a convenient and high-quality portable water system, designed with the every day user in mind. If you supplement your health program with pH-enhanced water, having a portable water system makes it easy to maintain your good health and dietary needs wherever you are, whether in the office, running errands, or traveling. Choosing the right portable alkaline water system for your needs makes staying healthy and eating well even easier. The IonPod® system has many attractive benefits that make it a great choice for the active, health-focused consumer.

What I liked

TheIonPod®  incorporates the power of a larger home alkalizing unit into a portable, design meant for those with an active lifestyle. The product is made with high-quality materials such as food-grade stainless steel and a silver mineralization filter. The materials selected to produce this system are durable, allowing you to enjoy clean, pH-enhanced water for years to come. In addition to the quality craftsmanship, this water system keeps design in mind with a sleek travel container available in an attractive stainless steel housing.
The IonPod  is effective in raising the pH level of ordinary tap water in a relatively short period of time – as little as three minutes. For those who prefer a higher level of alkalinity, water can be left to stand for 10-20 minutes to further alkalize before drinking. Tests by users show that leaving water overnight in the system can raise the alkalinity to as high as 9.5 or 10 (demonstrated through the use of pH drops with a visual pH guide). While the system does not have a traditional carbon filter like the best alkaline water machines in the planet, and cannot filter out contaminants such as chlorine, it will improve the taste and mouth feel of treated tap or bottled water, which of course lends itself to better water consumption and hydration throughout the day. Users report that, after using the system for days or weeks, there is a distinguishable difference in taste when returning to regular tap or bottled water.

What I Didn’t Like

While there are very few weaknesses in the effectiveness and design of the IonPod® Portable Alkalizing Water Bottle portable water system, the capacity of the container is problematic for some. For those who consume a larger quantity of water throughout the day, the small capacity of the container may require several refills. While a larger capacity container would be nice, it does not significantly alter the effectiveness of the alkalizing filter, or the quality of the transformed water.

 Overall Thoughts

Overall, the design and effectiveness of the IonPod make it a great choice for those who want to nurture their body and spirit. The packaging and attractive design make this a great gift, either for yourself or for a friend or loved one.…

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.…

ASEAN meeting: U.S. president Barack Obama urges halt to island building in

November 22, 2015 David Gilbert 0

The Philippine president also slammed China’s reclamation works in disputed waters.

He then urged his fellow ASEAN leaders to develop a post-2015 ASEAN Connectivity Agenda “that articulates both our aspirations and the complexities we have to contend with”.

Meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the Summit, Modi said the two countries should raise their strategic coordination to tackle the threat of terror.

The two leaders shook hands and smiled broadly Saturday as their delegations watched on.

Obama described them as outstanding and courageous people.

“The United States is working…to uphold the freedom of navigation and ensure disputes in the region are resolved peacefully”, he said.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the Japanese Prime Minister’s vision for the bilateral relationship, and said he looks forward to the visit of Mr. Shinzo Abe to India.

Noting that science, technology and innovation constituted a vital pillar of cooperation and supported economic partnership, Modi said India would enlarge the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund from the current Dollars one million to USD 5 million.

Earlier, wooing foreign investors, Prime Minister Modi today promised reforms “with speed and boldness” along with a transparent and predictable tax regime and protection of intellectual property rights. ASEAN’s economy continues to forge ahead with dynamism and energy. Now, it is India’s turn. And we know that our time has come. We are at a take-off stage. “That is why I am here to invite you”.

After his speech, Obama visited a school where numerous children are Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law”.

Mr. Abe said that Japan was partnering India in a number of initiatives such as the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which had transformative potential. Modi will address the East Asia Summit tomorrow.

He added: “We do not impose our culture on others… we think together and move together with the local people”.

“You can set an example”, Obama said.

This story corrects Japan’s financial pledge. “The answer is to do trade the right way – and that’s what TPP does”, he said.

Obama has tried to keep the focus on promoting what he says are his successful efforts to expand US ties to Asia, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN countries reached 397.2 billion USA dollars in the first 10 months of 2015, while 14.3 percent of China’s overseas investment went to ASEAN countries by the end of 2014, making China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation the most substantial and fruitful in East Asia, said Gao. “They are terrorists.”US President Barack Obama condemned the violence typified by the “appalling” jihadist hostage siege in Mali that left at least 21 dead, including an American citizen”.

‘This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge, ‘ he said in Kuala Lumpur. This came a week after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in coordinated attacks in Paris.

He suggested evolving specific plans for cooperation with the 10-member grouping in key areas of maritime security, counter-piracy and humanitarian and disaster relief.

He spoke in Malaysia during a regional summit.

Malaysia’s prime minister has used his opening speech at the 27th ASEAN Summit to lash out at those who commit extremism and terrorism, saying that Malaysia was ready to provide any help towards eliminating a “new evil that blasphemed Islam”.

The attacks included the bombings and assaults in Paris and Beirut, the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, and the taking of captives in Bamako, Mali, on Friday.…

Pakistan Army Chief meets Central Intelligence Agency head

November 21, 2015 David Gilbert 0

Afghan owned reconciliation process, challenges, and way forward were also discussed during the meeting.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif held meetings with top United States defence officials at Pentagon, with defence cooperation between the two countries dominating the discussion, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Lt Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted on Wednesday.

Senator McCain lauded the efforts, sacrifices and steadfastness of the Pakistan armed forces, especially the leadership of Gen Raheel, in fighting terrorists on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Often switching to a dark suit instead of a military uniform, Sharif met Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, defense secretary Ash Carter, secretary of state John Kerry, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in between engaging his military counterparts. For the first time since the nascent peace process in Afghanistan collapsed in August, Pakistan blamed Kabul government for “leaking information” that led to the fall of talks with the Taliban.

He further stated that Pakistan was a significant ally and U.S. will continue its support for the country in the fight against terrorism. “America will help Pakistan in every way to curb terrorism inside Pakistan”, ISPR told the press.

Generak Raheel Sharif emphasized terrorism a global threat, warrants coordinated global response.

General Raheel highlighted the Pakistan’s perspective of regional security and reiterated the desire to solidify Pak-US relations based on mutual interest and respect.

The Army Chief discussed defence cooperation, strengthening military to military relations, regional security, need for enhanced coordination and increased training exchanges during meeting with top U.S. military officials.

Gen. Sharif, during his visit, will also meet vice-president Joe Biden.…

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Paris Bloodbath Suspect Salah Abdeslam Sighted in Brussels

November 21, 2015 David Gilbert 0

A man who investigators believe is the 26-year-old fugitive misfired his AK-47 after aiming the assault rifle at the head of a young woman outside the café, the Mail reported.

The left side shows Abdeslam in a normal outfit and without any accessories, while the right side shows him donning a dark wig and glasses. He confessed he was the getaway driver in a Seat Leon – along with his brother Ibrahim and another French suspect – but denied being one of the shooters, insisting his role in the attack was simply make French contacts on behalf of the gang. She added that they hope Salah will surrender after hearing about the death of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of the attacks that killed at least 129 people and injured about 350 others.

Belgian police posted a video message, warning the public that Abdeslam is unsafe, and likely armed.

A friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I met Salah on Tuesday night”. His current whereabouts are not clear.

They report that he may be using the name Yassine Baghli to pass through borders undetected.

Although Van Der Sypt admitted the Belgian authorities knew the brothers were radicalized and capable of joining ISIL, he said warning French authorities would probably not have made a difference.

Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, Sunday, November 15, 2015. “This could have consequences for his family”, implying that he feared members of Isis would take revenge.

Police said Abdeslam is believed to be one of the gunmen who fired indiscriminately at a series of restaurants and cafes during the Friday night massacre that in all claimed 130 lives.

“It is possible he panicked or chickened out of killing himself”, he said.

“It is possible that he was disgusted by what he had been involved in or that his explosive suicide belt failed to detonate”.…

Hopes rise of nuclear breakthrough as United Nations chief visits North Korea

November 19, 2015 David Gilbert 0

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has said that the South Korean government will roll up its sleeves in attracting infrastructure investments of up to US$63 billion annually for North Korea and other parts of Northeast Asia if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear program.

Ban had been all set to make the trip in May, before Pyongyang canceled the plan at the last minute. “He will be in NY most of next week and then travel to Malta for the Commonwealth Summit”, Stephane Dujarric said, in a statement.

Earlier reports had said that he was due to visit for four days and would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As Ban would also face questions over the whole point of his visit, it is possible that he demanded a guarantee of a meeting with Kim.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency indicated that negotiations may be under way regarding a visit by Ban, saying the case was in the process of confirmation.

Prior to his career at the United Nations, Ban served in the South Korea’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Two serving United Nations chiefs have travelled to the North. Kurt Waldheim visited the capital, Pyongyang, in 1979 and again in 1981, followed by Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.

North Korea’s rights record has been called abysmal and led to a recommendation that the country be prosecuted by the global Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The North Korean travel firm has “more than 200 foreign counterparts”, it said.

Under global sanctions over nuclear and missile ambitions, North Korea has promoted tourism as a source of earning much-needed hard currency since Kim took power in late 2011.

“The draft resolution is the product of political confrontation and vicious slander of the hostile forces against my country and it has nothing to do with the genuine promotion of human rights”, North Korean ambassador-at-large Ri Hung-sik told a news conference.…

Facebook now averages over 1 billion active users every day

November 16, 2015 David Gilbert 0


The social networking giant’s expenses skyrocketed, increasing 68% year-on-year to $US3.04 billion, but a huge drive in video advertisements provided the capital needed for Facebook to bank on new, revolutionary technologies. The report’s figures beat the Wall Street’s estimate because analysts were only looking for $0.52 a share on sales of $4.37 billion.

Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users at the end of September, up 14 percent from the same time past year. The company has reported $4.5 billion revenue and the profit of $1.46 billion. ‘Year on Year’ results also portrays that company made more money on mobile advertising alone than the whole business. Facebook’s GAAP net income for the last three months – its real profit – was $896 million compared to $719 million last quarter.

Mobile daily users gained about 27 percent to 894 million on average for September, while mobile monthly users increased 23 percent to 1.39 billion.

Facebook said advertising revenue grew 45% from a year ago to $4.29 billion.

Sandberg said the average adult in the US spends 25 minutes of their weekly media time on mobile devices.

“We had a good quarter and got a lot done”, said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive.

Facebook also reported that developing markets had seen strong growth in the number of users.

Worldwide, Facebook accounted for 8% of worldwide digital ad revenues, in 2014 and that share should increase to 9.6%, this year, according to eMarketer.

Facebook used to be criticized for not having a solid mobile strategy, but those days seem to be long gone.

The shares instantly jumped in after-hours trading, rising around 4pc to a new all-time high that values Facebook at close to $300bn.

Shyam Patil of Susquehanna Financial Group said: “I think the investors would like the company to continue to invest given that the opportunity is pretty large”.…