U.S. Hopes Russia and Iran will Help in Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Obama administration hopes Russia and Iran will play a positive role in Syria and back a political transition for the country to end the current conflict. Kerry said Russian and Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is misplaced and will only prolong the war. Iran and Russia are the Assad regime’s biggest military, financial and political backers.
North Korea Threatens War
North Korea has once again threatened war against the U.S. and South Korea during annual military exercises in August. In a particularly hostile bit of rhetoric, a spokesman for the National Defense Committee hinted at the country’s willingness to use nuclear weapons. “The army and people of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are no longer what they used to be in the past, when they had to counter the U.S. nukes with rifles,” the spokesman said.
Putin Orders New Military Reserve Force
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a new reserve armed force as part of steps to improve training and military readiness. It willbe distinct from Russia’s existing military reserves because the part-time personnel will be paid a monthly sum and train regularly. Russia already has several million military reservists, but they do little training as there are restrictions on how often they can be called up.
GOP leaders failed to get 60 votes to move forward with a resolution against President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled the agreement in July. Obama argued the agreement would ensure Iran remains honest, but critics say Iran cannot be trusted.
Holy Roman Empire
Will Britain Stay in the EU?
Britain plans to hold a referendum on European Union membership before the end of 2017, and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain has been wooing his counterparts to try to win changes to Britain’s conditions for membership in the 28-nation bloc. Mr. Cameron has outlined broad objectives, including a safeguard to prevent countries that use the euro currency from discriminating economically against Britain, which does not use the euro, a stronger role for national parliaments in European Union decision-making and stronger European competitiveness.
EU Migrant Crisis, U.S. may Take in More Syrians
Facing mounting pressure to respond more aggressively to the migrant crisis unfolding across Europe, the White House said it was re-examining whether it should increase its assistance, including resettling more Syrians in the United States. White House officials said a “working group” at the State Department was “actively considering” a range of options, including refugee resettlement.
New Phase of Integration
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has collaborated with four other top Eurocrats to produce a blueprint on the future of the EU. The document outlines plans for another hugely ambitious advance in European integration. It details proposals for “completing” an economic union in the 19-nation eurozone and for strengthening the already sweeping powers of Brussels institutions over the rest of the EU. The European Parliament will be extended, and national budgets will come further under Brussels control.
Mark of the Beast
Real ID Phase 4
Phase four of the Real ID Act enforcement is set to begin in January. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that without a compliant license, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft will require a second form of ID. New York, Minnesota, Louisiana and New Hampshire are non-compliant states, while 22 states are compliant. The other 24 states have been given extensions allowing Federal agencies to accept their driver’s licenses. The extensions, which ended in October 2015, are able to be renewed at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Some states have already applied for or been granted renewals of five more years taking them to October 2020.
Privacy Concerns and Classroom Apps
At least half of K-12 teachers use a mobile app, website or digital game to teach in their classrooms. Education apps and programs track students’ every response, developing profiles based on the answers they got right and the subjects with which they’re uncomfortable. Activists say this fact is not as widely known as it should be. Depending on the state you live in, the data can be shared from one company to another in an endless chain.
Facebook Tracks Messages and Photos
Facebook has a new little-known software that monitors your profile chat and pictures for criminal activity. The scanning program looks for certain phrases, and if the information adds up, a Facebook employee actually looks at communications to make the final decision of whether or not to ping the authorities.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said a controversial surveillance bill could sweep away “important privacy protections”. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) grants broad latitude to tech companies, data brokers and anyone with a web-based data collection to mine user information and then share it with “appropriate Federal entities,” which themselves then have permission to share it throughout the government. CISA is a bill that just won’t die, and critics have dubbed it the “zombie bill”, since it continues to be resurrected. The bill is a resuscitation of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA), which passed the House but failed in the Senate.
Quartet–Arabs Invited to Restart Peace Talks
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to a meeting of the Middle East Quartet seeking a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The foreign ministers of the three Arab countries would join their counterparts from Russia, the United States and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for the talks.
ISIS Declares War on U.S. Dollar
The Islamic State launched a new campaign to destabilize the U.S. Dollar with a 54-minute video tape. This is the first known instance of a terrorist organization declaring financial war on America. The ISIS tape calls on world markets to stop using the dollar and revert to the financial system of the medieval Muslim caliphates and offers currency substitutes.
We Won’t Stay Off Temple Mount
Veteran Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick vowed he and other Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount will continue to defy violent Muslim extremists by continuing to ascend Judaism’s holiest site in spite of Islamist violence and intimidation. According to Glick, the radical Muslims on the Temple Mount are not people who come to pray, but they’re actually terrorists. Glick asserted that authorities needed to face up to the presence of these terrorists and deal with them accordingly.
New Sustainable Development Goals
The 193-Member United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development along with a set of new Global Goals. The agenda is composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years. Its aim
is to build upon the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in September 2000. “We must use the goals to transform the world,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Investigating Chemical Weapons in Syria
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) was established this past August. The joint body has been tasked with identifying “individuals, entities, groups, or governments involved in the use of chemicals as weapons and is presently investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Israel had urged UN leaders to reject a Palestinian attempt to raise their flag at UN headquarters. But the General Assembly voted 119-8 to allow the flags of “non-member observer states” to fly among those of member-states in New York and at other UN offices. Israel’s ambassador to the UN slammed the world body for the vote accusing member-states of submitting to the Palestinian leadership’s “every whim and caprice.” “This assembly would vote to declare that the earth is flat if the Palestinians proposed it,” he said.
Obama Power Plan Key Ahead of Talks
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, saying such “visionary leadership” is needed ahead of negotiations on a global climate change deal. Obama’s Clean Power Plan is a vital component of meeting a U.S. pledge on emissions cuts for the UN climate change summit in December.
Kentucky Clerk Jailed and Released
A Kentucky county clerk defied the U.S. Supreme Court by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. “To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word. It is a matter of religious liberty,” she said. Kim Davis was jailed and spent five days behind bars. The federal judge who ordered her locked up lifted the contempt ruling against her, saying he was satisfied that her deputies were fulfilling their obligation to grant licenses to same-sex couples in her absence. The case is ongoing as Davis faces new allegations filed by the ACLU.
Pope’s Evangelical Gamble
Pope Francis has a document in his office that could alter the course of Christian history. It declares an end to hostilities between Catholics and Evangelicals and says the two traditions are now “united in mission because we are declaring the same Gospel.” He is considering signing it in 2017 for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Satanists Petition for Place at AR Capitol
The Satanic Temple has formally petitioned the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission for permission to place a “Baphomet” monument next to the planned Ten Commandments monument decreed by the legislature. Atheists, Hindus and vegans have also expressed a desire for monuments on the Capitol grounds. The Satanic Temple proposed the statute for Oklahoma but said it was no longer necessary since their Supreme Court said the Ten Commandments monument was unconstitutional.
Animated Film Brings Religions Together
Salma Hayek’s new animated film, The Prophet has several messages that bring together all religions. “I think it’s nice to remember that it was an Arab man who wrote a philosophy book that brings all religions together,” said Hayek. The film is based on the volume of poetry of the same name by author Kahlil Gibran and focuses on eight separate issues including children, eating, drinking, freedom, marriage, work, love and death.