No, Forever War in Syria Won’t Protect the United States

Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida. Navy Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent, 35, of Pine Plains, New York. Defense Intelligence Agency civilian Scott A. Wirtz, 42, of St. Louis, Missouri. Interpreter Ghadir Taher, 27, from East Point, Georgia.

The bodies of the four Americans from four separate parts of the country—victims of a January 16 Islamic State suicide bombing near a popular restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij—made their final return home to Dover Air Force Base on January 19. It was a vivid and graphic reminder to the American people that U.S. forces remain very much in harm’s way.

To the politicians back home, the deaths of four Americans in a Syrian town few in the United States could find on a map is a sign of ISIS’s sudden resurgence. The American people have been led to believe that President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria is emboldening the enemy. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the interventionist who has never seen a world problem that couldn’t be solved through military force, even suggested that Trump’s decision may have laid the groundwork for the bombing in Manbij. Sen. Jack Reed said the attack is proof the administration needs to “reevaluate” a troop departure. . .

First, the Islamic State’s territorial “caliphate” is for all intents and purposes destroyed. At the height of its power in 2014, ISIS managed to control land roughly equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom. ISIS fighters were present from the northern outskirts of Baghdad to the rural towns of northwestern Syria. Approximately eight million people in Iraq and Syria were under ISIS’s thumb, a valuable financial asset the group fully exploited through a system of taxation. . .

Those who say U.S. forces should remain in eastern Syria even after their primary mission is over are moving the goal-posts in a frantic attempt to justify a continued U.S. military presence in a country that is strategically unimportant to U.S. national security interests in the region. Don’t be fooled: the commentators, ex-officials, and lawmakers who oppose a U.S. troop withdrawal today are in essence arguing for another indefinite U.S. deployment in the Middle East. (Read more from “No, Forever War in Syria Won’t Protect the United States” HERE)

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Israel, in Rare Move, Announces Attacks on Iranian Targets

Israel confirmed early Monday that its military attacked Iranian targets in Syria, in a rare statement on such an operation.

“We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory,” the military statement said. “We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.” . . .

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently confirmed that Israel had struck hundreds of targets in Syria linked to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, including a weapons facility two weeks ago. Iran and Hezbollah are allied with the Syrian government in the civil war.

Two hours after the reports that Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted a rocket fired toward the Golan Heights, Netanyahu, who currently is on a visit to Chad, said in a statement: “We have a defined policy: to harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria and to harm anyone who tries to harm us.”

Earlier Sunday, a roadside bomb went off south of Damascus; the extent of the damage and any possible injuries was unclear. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors Syria’s war, said the bomb targeted the vehicle of a “security personality” that it did not identify. The Observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, said it was unclear whether the individual was killed or wounded. “It was not a random act,” he added. (Read more from “Israel, in Rare Move, Announces Attacks on Iranian Targets” HERE)

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China Trying to Rewrite the Bible

The Chinese government is supervising a five-year plan to make Christianity more compatible with socialism in which there will be a “rewrite” of the Bible, a prominent religious freedom activist has told Congress.

The Rev. Bob Fu, a former Chinese house church leader who immigrated to the United States in 1997 and founded the persecution watchdog organization China Aid, provided great detail during a House hearing Thursday about a plan enacted by leading state-sanctioned denominations in China to “Sincize” Christianity.

As China’s crackdown on religion has seen many house churches demolished and thousands of crosses removed from churches nationwide, Fu warned upfront that what is happening right now in China represents the highest degree of persecution for independent faith groups the country has seen in decades. . .

In a written testimony, Fu said that under the new regulations religious activity sites will “accept the guidance, supervision, and inspection of relevant departments of the local people’s government regarding the management of personnel, finances, assets, accounting, security, fire protection, protection of relics, health and disease prevent and so forth.” . . .

“There are outlines that the new Bible should not look westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism,” Fu told The Christian Post after the hearing. “The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it.” (Read more from “China Trying to Rewrite the Bible” HERE)

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Pope Francis Knew About Argentina Bishop’s Sexual Misconduct Prior to Vatican Promotion

Pope Francis promoted one of his protegés within the Vatican, Argentine bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, despite the Vatican having received evidence prior to the bishop’s promotion of sexual misconduct, which included accusations of “sexual harassment” of adult seminarians, taking “nude selfies,” and exhibiting “obscene” behavior.

The Rev. Juan José Manzano, the former general vicar of Zanchetta in Argentina, told these facts to Associated Press, which released its report today. He stated that already in 2015, and then in 2017, Pope Francis spoke with Zanchetta twice about his misconduct.

The news comes on the heels of the Vatican announcing earlier this month that Zanchetta was under investigation for sexual abuse and had been removed from his post. Vatican press speaker Alessandro Gissoti said at the time that “there had been no accusation of sexual abuse” against the bishop after he resigned from his diocese of Oran in 2017.

“No charges of sexual abuse had arisen at the time of appointment as advisor [to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which oversees the various real estate and other properties of the papacy]. The accusations of sexual abuse date back to this fall,” he stated.

As the Miami Herald reports today, the Rev. Manzano – who is now a parish priest – said that he started to “raise alarm” already in 2015 about his superior who had even taken “nude selfies.” Manzano is one of three diocesan officials who at the time contacted the Vatican, first sending in some nude “selfies” of Zanchetta. In 2017, these officials made a second complaint to the Vatican “when the situation was much more serious,” not only because of the sexual abuses, but also because the “diocese was increasingly heading into the abyss.” (Read more from “Pope Francis Knew About Argentina Bishop’s Sexual Misconduct Prior to Vatican Promotion” HERE)

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Remains of 132 Sacrificed Children Found in Peru

Archaeologists exploring an area of north Peru formerly inhabited by the Chimu civilization have found the remains of 132 children, evidence of one of the largest human sacrifices in world history.

The remains, along with those of 260 young llamas, were found near the coastal town of Huanchaco, about 352 miles northwest of Lima, El Comercio reported Tuesday.

“This is about four sacrifice events carried out between 1200 and 1520, or one per century. This shows that even after the Inca conquest they continued with human sacrifices,” archaeologist Gabriel Prieto told the newspaper. . .

Last April, National Geographic reported a different finding of 137 children and 206 llamas in the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas area, located about a mile away from the new discovery. . .

The Chimu, their capital in Chan Chan, created the second-largest empire in the history of the ancient Andes. It’s known for its architecture and gold artworks. They also built an extensive irrigation system using canals that made it possible to cultivate desert areas. (Read more from “Remains of 132 Sacrificed Children Found in Peru” HERE)

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White House Releases Statements on ISIS Attack Against U.S. Troops in Syria

By Townhall. The White House released a series of statements Wednesday afternoon condemning the ISIS attack on U.S. troops in Syria.

“Our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

(Read more from “White House Releases Statements on ISIS Attack Against U.S. Troops in Syria” HERE)

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U.S. Troops Killed in Syria Suicide Attack Claimed by ISIS

By CBS News. Four Americans, including two U.S. service members, were among those killed in an attack in northern Syria Wednesday, the same day Vice President Mike Pence said ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the attack, “has been defeated.”

U.S. Central Command said in a statement Wednesday that an apparent explosion killed two service members, a Department of Defense civilian and a Pentagon contractor while they were “conducting a local engagement in Manbij, Syria.” Three service members were also injured.

“Initial reports indicate an explosion caused the casualties, and the incident is under investigation,” the statement said.

The attack comes just weeks after President Trump declared ISIS defeated and said U.S. troops were coming home. Speaking to a gathering of U.S. ambassadors at the State Department on Wednesday, after the Pentagon confirmed the deaths of American troops in Syria, Pence repeated both of Mr. Trump’s assertions. (Read more from “U.S. Troops Killed in Syria Suicide Attack Claimed by ISIS” HERE)

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Senate Rejects Resolution to Block President Trump From Lifting Sanctions on Russia

The Senate failed to advance a bill to prevent President Donald Trump from lifting sanctions on three Russian businesses. Eleven Republicans joined 46 Democrats to vote for cloture on the bill, but they fell three votes short of the 60 votes needed to end debate. . .

In April, the Trump administration placed U.S. sanctions on three businesses connected to an oligarch associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, had also been cited by prosecutors as a financial supporter of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s alleged criminal activity in Ukraine. Deripaska accused Manafort and Rick Gates (Trump campaign’s former deputy chairman) of disappearing with $26 million of his money.

In December, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it was lifting sanctions on these three businesses. Sanctions on Deripaska will remain.

“Treasury sanctioned these companies because of their ownership and control by sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, not for the conduct of the companies themselves. These companies have committed to significantly diminish Deripaska’s ownership and sever his control. The companies will be subject to ongoing compliance and will face severe consequences if they fail to comply,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in the department’s news release. (Read more from “Senate Rejects Resolution to Block President Trump From Lifting Sanctions on Russia” HERE)

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Is India Using U.S. Sterilization Funds for Population Control?

A group of women lay on the hospital floor, like beggars on the side of the streets, two unconscious and fighting for their life after a botched sterilization procedure. A doctor had chipped one of the women’s bladders as he rushed to snip his target. . .

Was the family fully informed about the risks and side effects of the procedure? Did they receive proper counselling, or were they lured and rushed into the program? Did they receive instructions about post-operative care? Were the doctors given targets to be achieved, and compensation for each procedure?

These are just some of the questions that scream for our attention. The answer tells whether these family planning programs violate the Tiahrt Amendment—the statutory requirement pertaining to U.S. tax dollars spent on global contraception programs like this sterilization camp. . .

India is one of the largest USAID recipients, receiving an average of $100 million each year. The money India receives for contraception is relatively higher than the total it receives for basic health. It’s highly critical for the USAID administration to ensure statutory compliance so that U.S. taxpayer money does not fuel human right abuses and targeted population control abroad.

Around 4 million sterilizations and 6 million IUD insertions were performed in India in 2017. Close to 200 million IUD insertions and 200 million sterilizations were performed in the country in just six years (2010-2016). USAID disbursements for the corresponding period add up to $100 million. This is money dedicated exclusively for contraception and does not include funds for other population policies and maternal health. (Read more from “Is India Using U.S. Sterilization Funds for Population Control?” HERE)

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Turkey and U.S. Agree to 20-Mile ‘Safe Zone’

The United States and Turkey have reportedly agreed to the creation of a 20-mile-wide “safe zone” in Syria along the Turkish border. . .

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced during a speech to Parliament that his country and the United States had reached an agreement. According to Erdogan, the deal had been struck during a phone call between the two world leaders on Monday.

The full details of how this “safe zone” would work are still unclear. A number of Kurdish settlements, including the cities of Qamishli and Kobani, sit right in its path. Kurdish leaders have not yet said if they would be willing to leave these settlements in return for promises that Turkey would cease its attacks their settlements elsewhere in Syria. . .

Turkey has had trouble with a Kurdish militant group inside its own borders known as the PKK. While the U.S. considers the PKK to be a terrorist group, it differentiates between the PKK and other ethnically Kurdish groups — some of which have proven to be invaluable allies, particularly in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey makes no such distinction. Instead, it has used the instability caused by the now nearly eight-year-long Syrian civil war to launch a series of incursions against Kurdish cities in Syria. (Read more from “Turkey and U.S. Agree to 20-Mile ‘Safe Zone'” HERE)

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Hush Money: Witness Reveals How Much El Chapo Allegedly Paid Mexican President

On Tuesday, Columbian drug lord Alex Cifuentes Villa testified in the Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera trial. During his testimony, Villa said El Chapo paid former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto $100 million in bribes, The New York Times reported.

According to Villa, Nieto reached out to El Chapo first and asked for $250 million to call the manhunt off for the wanted drug lord. El Chapo counter offered $100 million and Nieto accepted. . .

There have been other allegations of other government officials receiving bribes from El Chapo but the news of Nieto, if true, would be the most shocking. It would mean the drug cartels truly do have a hold on Mexican officials.

After testifying about the two presidents, Mr. Cifuentes rattled off other bribes that Mr. Guzmán and his allies had paid to Mexican officials. On at least two occasions, he said, the kingpin gave the Mexican military between $10 million and $12 million to launch operations to “either kill or capture” associates of the Beltrán-Leyva brothers during his war with them.

Mr. Cifuentes also said the Mexican federal police not only turned a blind eye to drug trafficking, but occasionally took part in it. Once, he told jurors, traffickers gave the police photographs of several suitcases packed with cocaine that were sent by the cartel on an airplane from Argentina to Mexico. The police picked up the suitcases from the baggage claim, Mr. Cifuentes said, and sold the drugs themselves.

(Read more from “Hush Money: Witness Reveals How Much El Chapo Allegedly Paid Mexican President” HERE)

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