Sputnik – Iran last year designated the Central Command as a terrorist organisation and the American government as a sponsor of terror, mirroring the US blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Iran’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill labelling the entire US military a terrorist organisation in response to last week’s assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani by the United States.
The Iranian parliament’s presiding board earlier called the drone hit on Soleimani an act of ‘state-sponsored terrorism’.
The motion, which was approved unanimously by the Majlis, also allocated over $220 million to the Quds force, an elite unit responsible for clandestine military and intelligence operations abroad
Gen. Soleimani had been the Quds Force long-time commander; he was widely credited with helping Iraq defeat Daesh* and was considered to be one of Iran’s most prominent political figures, so his killing was interpreted by many in Iran as the de-facto declaration of war.
The US claimed that Soleimani was behind the rocket strike on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk on 27 December that killed an American contractor and injured several military personnel. The US also said, without providing evidence, that he was plotting more attacks on US assets.
USA Today – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the blame for the escalating hostilities between the U.S. and Iran on former President Barack Obama, accusing the previous administration of trying to appease the theocratic regime and arguing that the deal aimed at delaying Iran’s development of nuclear weapons only succeeded in funding regional terrorism.
Sputnik – Earlier, the alliance announced that it would be scaling down its activities in the Middle Eastern country following the spike in tensions caused by the US assassination of a senior Iranian military commander.
The NATO alliance is moving ‘some personnel out of Iraq’ amid concerns for their security, an alliance official cited by Reuters has said.
According to the official, the withdrawal was a ‘temporary’ measure. “The safety of our personnel is paramount,” the official added.
On Monday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon has yet to make any decision on whether or not to withdraw troops from Iraq following a vote in Iraq’s parliament demanding their departure. Also Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley dismissed a draft letter said to have been sent “by mistake” by a senior US general to an Iraqi counterpart and circulated in the media which appeared to confirm that the US would be withdrawing its troops on the basis of Washington’s ‘respect for Iraqi sovereignty’.
On Tuesday, German media reported that the German Army planned to withdraw some of the troops it has stationed in Iraq, while warning that the withdrawal could result in the resurgence of the Daesh (ISIS)* terrorists.
Alliance members began to voice concerns over the security of their missions in the country on Saturday, a day after the US drone strike assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The general’s killing sparked threats of retaliation by Iran and the Baghdad-allied Iraqi Shia militia forces Soleimani cooperated with.
On Saturday, a spokesman said NATO had suspended all training activities, although its mission in the country was “continuing.” In the days that followed, Sweden, Denmark, and Latvia suspended their training missions with Iraqi forces.
Sputnik – The United States plans to build an airfield for B-52 strategic bombers in Al Asad airbase in the Iraqi province of Anbar, a source in the province’s security services told Al Sumaria TV channel.
“The US military intends to build a massive international high-performance airfield for B-52 strategic bombers in Ayn Al Asad airbase in the Al Baghdadi area of the Hit district in the west of the Anbar province,” the source told the broadcaster.
He added that the present US forces had expanded infrastructure to build an airstrip for bombers.
Earlier in the day, Wall Street Journal reported Pentagon’s plans to send B-52 bombers to the country, which remains outraged over the extrajudicial killing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani by the US last week.
The situation in Iraq has become much more complicated after the US assassination of Soleimani in the early hours of Friday. On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel US troops from the country in response.
One News Now – While the Trump administration works for the release of an imprisoned pastor in China, Christians worldwide are being asked to write and send him letters of encouragement.
Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church has been charged with inciting subversion of state powers in illegal business operations for providing religious materials. He was arrested with roughly 100 church members, most of whom have since been released. Pastor Wang, however, was ordered to prison for nine years after being tried and sentenced in a secret court.
“I am alarmed that Pastor Wang Yi, leader of Chengdu’s Early Rain house church, was tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison on trumped-up charges,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted in response. “Beijing must release him and end its intensifying repression of Christians and members of all other religious groups.”
Brynne Lawrence of ChinaAid tells OneNewsNow the Chinese Constitution does provide for religious freedom, “however, it kind of allows for officials to monitor religions,” she continues, “which ends up with the Chinese Communist Party trying to assert its own authority over the religion in that sphere.”
Lawrence also expects Pastor Wang will have a tough time in prison.
“There are pastors in prison who have faced torture,” she laments. “They’ve faced all sorts of persecution within even just the prison system after they’re sentenced simply because of their beliefs and because they were preachers.”
ChinaAid encourages Christians in America to ask their members of Congress to apply more pressure on China, and Lawrence agrees that it would be helpful for them to also write scripture-filled letters of encouragement to Pastor Wang. She says those letters are first read by prison guards, who might be influenced by the Christian content.
The Hill – Virginia Beach, Va. has declared itself a “Second Amendment Constitutional City” seven months after 12 people were killed and four others injured in a mass shooting.
The city council voted 6-4 Monday night in favor of taking on the symbolic message to encourage lawmakers not to pass gun reform laws during a meeting that attracted a crowd that spilled into the lobby and the outside lawn where gun rights activists screened the meeting on a projector, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The council stopped short of declaring Virginia Beach a gun sanctuary city, which would direct local law enforcement to ignore laws that put restrictions on the Second Amendment, as gun rights activists had sought, according to the newspaper.
BYT – John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said on Monday that he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial, putting new pressure on Republicans to call witnesses and raising the possibility of revelations as the Senate weighs Mr. Trump’s removal.
Mr. Bolton’s surprise declaration, in a statement on his website, was a dramatic turn that could alter the political dynamic of the impeachment process in the Senate and raise the risks for Mr. Trump of Republican defections. The former national security adviser is a potentially vital witness, with direct knowledge of presidential actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill in blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case.
It came as the House continued to withhold the articles of impeachment necessary to start the trial in a bid to increase Democratic leverage in Senate negotiations over calling Mr. Bolton and three other administration witnesses the president blocked from testifying in the House inquiry.
“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Mr. Bolton said in the statement.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper decided the documents, obtained during the FBI investigation into possible connections between President Trump’s campaign and Moscow, would be released after 60 days to media outlets that sued for access last year, according to Courthouse News.
Federal prosecutors pushed for the 60 days over the 30-day timeline proposed by attorney Matthew Kelley, who represents the media outlets including The Associated Press and CNN. Kelley argued that the slow pace of the case and the public’s desire for information warranted a faster timeline, the news outlet reported.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky originally claimed releasing the documents would threaten these probes and the privacy of third parties.
But Kelley noted that the Department of Justice will be able to redact any information associated with continuing investigations. He also said third parties that served as witnesses in Stone’s trial, such as former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, are already known.
The Hill – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unloaded on former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday night, intensifying a battle between two top contenders for the Democratic nomination with the Iowa caucuses less than a month away.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sanders attacked Biden’s record on foreign policy, trade and entitlements and questioned Biden’s electability in key Midwestern states.
The new attacks come just 28 days before the Iowa caucuses.
“Joe Biden voted and helped lead the effort for the war in Iraq, the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said.
Mercola – Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in your body. Sulfur-containing amino acids increase your levels of glutathione and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which play important roles in health and fitness.
Glutathione metabolism influences the control of epigenetic mechanisms at several levels, including substrate availability, enzymatic activity for DNA methylation and the expression of microRNAs.
NAC supplementation may be useful for the prevention of cardiovascular problems in older people by lowering oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function.
Glutathione deficiency can induce epigenetic changes in genes that regulate vitamin D metabolism in the liver, and research suggests glutathione supplementation could help reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency in obese individuals.
Glutathione and NAC also ameliorate exercise-induced stress and reduce muscle fatigue. Glutathione may also play a central role in chronic fatigue syndrome
NaturalNews – The genus Passiflora is composed of more than 500 different species of plants, most of which are used as ornamentals. Commonly called passionflowers or passion vines, these plants are well-known for producing brightly colored flowers with different hues. However, passionflowers aren’t just intended for visuals. Ongoing research suggests that these plants also possess a variety of medicinal properties that make them potent sedatives, analgesics, antidepressants and anxiolytics. And only recently, evidence has emerged of a Passiflora species having cytotoxic potential against different cancer cells.
In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Brazilian researchers investigated the cytotoxicity of various Passiflora species using colon cancer, ovarian cancer and leukemia cell lines. Of the 14 species included in the study, they found that the plant Passiflora alata, also known as the winged-stem passionflower, is rich in flavonoids with anti-cancer activity. These compounds proved to be highly cytotoxic to the leukemia cell line HL-60 but not to normal cancer cells, suggesting a selectivity to cancer cells that could prove beneficial in clinical settings.