Despite unity deal, Jordan won’t let Hamas reopen Amman office — report

The Jordanian government will not allow the Palestinian terror group Hamas to reopen its offices in the kingdom, despite a recently inked reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions, a leading Jordanian daily reported on Thursday.

In the hopes of ending a 10-year Palestinian rift, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, signed a reconciliation agreement last week in Cairo with the Fatah party, which controls the Palestinian Authority.

The Jordanian government, however, reportedly does not see the deal as a legitimate reason to allow Hamas to reopen its offices in the country, which were closed in 1999.

“Hamas’s offices will not be reopened in the kingdom,” the Al-Ghad daily reported, citing what it called an official source.

“Hamas is a Palestinian party and movement and its place and work are in Palestine and on Palestinian lands,” the source added.

The source also said there is a law in Jordan that non-Jordanian parties are not permitted to open branches on Jordanian territory.

Hamas’s political leadership, once based in Amman, was expelled from the kingdom by King Abdullah II in one of his first moves after coming to power in 1999. With brief exceptions, Hamas leadership has not been allowed back.

The Hamas leadership at the time was accused of meddling in the kingdom’s internal affairs.

More than half of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin, though the exact number is unknown.

The Al Ghad report said that question of whether Hamas would be allowed back into the Hashemite kingdom in the shadow of a reconciliation deal had been asked frequently as of late.

Hamas’s leadership was most recently based in Qatar, but was expelled from the Gulf country in June after pressure from regional neighbors.

For the first time since the terror group’s founding, Hamas’s most senior leaders are currently living inside the Gaza Strip.


Weinstein film studio facing sale or shutdown — report

The Weinstein Company is exploring a sale or shutdown as it reels from the fallout of allegations of serial sexual misconduct by its ousted co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The film and television studio is unlikely to continue as an independent entity, the Journal said, citing a person close to the firm.

Weinstein’s film studio fired him on Sunday after an explosive New York Times report alleged he had preyed for decades on young women hoping to break into the film industry.

An avalanche of sexual harassment claims have come in the wake of the Times report, with American actress Rose McGowan Thursday becoming the fourth woman to accuse Weinstein of raping her.

Investigations are under way by police in New York and Britain.

As it mulls its future after the accusations, the studio’s board of directors has been talking to possible buyers, the Journal said.

Some potential suitors have approached board members and others close to The Weinstein Co, but it remains uncertain whether a deal can be reached for the studio to continue operating.

The alternative is that The Weinstein Co would be shut.

Board members are no longer considering a previous plan that could have seen co-chairman Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s brother, continue operating the studio with president David Glasser under a new company name, the Journal’s source said.

Harvey and Bob Weinstein, as co-founders of Miramax Films, burst onto the indie film scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s with films like “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Together the brothers went on to co-found the Weinstein Company in 2005, producing such hits as “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.”

Teams report first progress against California fires as death toll hits 35

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A fifth day of desperate firefighting in California wine country brought a glimmer of hope Friday as crews battling the flames reported their first progress toward containing the massive blazes, and hundreds more firefighters poured in to join the effort.

The scale of the disaster also became clearer as authorities said the fires had chased an estimated 90,000 people from their homes and destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses. The death toll rose to 35, making this the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in California history. The deaths were briefly tallied at 36, but authorities said one was double-counted.

In all, 17 large fires still burned across the northern part of the state, with more than 9,000 firefighters attacking the flames using air tankers, helicopters and more than 1,000 fire engines.

“The emergency is not over, and we continue to work at it, but we are seeing some great progress,” said the state’s emergency operations director, Mark Ghilarducci.
Over the past 24 hours, crews arrived from Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Oregon and Arizona. Other teams came from as far away as Canada and Australia.

Since igniting Sunday in spots across eight counties, the blazes have reduced entire neighborhoods to ash and rubble. The death toll has risen daily as search teams gain access to previously unreachable areas.

Individual fires including a 1991 blaze in the hills around Oakland killed more people than any one of the current blazes, but no collection of simultaneous fires in California ever led to so many deaths, authorities said.

People remained on edge, worried about the wind shifting fires in their direction, said Will Deeths, a Sonoma middle school principal helping to supervise volunteers at Sonoma Valley High School, now an evacuation shelter.

“In the afternoons we start looking up at the flag pole and we start looking to see, is the wind blowing? Is the flag moving?” he said. “It’s been really crazy.”

Video was released of body camera footage on the first night of the fire, showing an unnamed deputy braving wild flames and thick smoke to clear out a community already being devoured by the flames.

“Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!” the Sonoma County deputy yells to drivers who are hesitating and moving slowly as they flee.

The deputy, wheezing and coughing, runs to several doors shouting “sheriff’s office!” for anyone who may be in earshot.

He then comes across another deputy with a woman in a wheelchair right next to a house that is burning and lifts her into an SUV to take her away.

On Friday dozens of search-and-rescue personnel at a mobile home park in Santa Rosa, also in Sonoma County, carried out the grim task Friday of searching for remains. Fire tore through Santa Rosa early Monday, leaving only a brief window for residents to flee, and decimated the park, which was known as Journey’s End and was home to hundreds of people.

Workers were looking for two missing people who lived at the park. They found one set of remains, mostly bone fragments, and continued looking for the other, said Sonoma County Sgt. Spencer Crum.

To help in the search, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office near San Francisco sent specialized equipment, including drones with three-dimensional cameras and five dogs trained to sniff out human remains.

Authorities have said that some victims were so badly burned they were identified only by metal surgical implants found in the ashes that have ID numbers on them.
The influx of outside help offered critical relief to firefighters who have been working with little rest since the blazes started.

“It’s like pulling teeth to get firefighters and law enforcement to disengage from what they are doing out there,” CalFire’s Napa chief Barry Biermann said. “They are truly passionate about what they are doing to help the public, but resources are coming in. That’s why you are seeing the progress we’re making.”

In addition to manpower, equipment deliveries have poured in. Crews were using 840 fire engines from across California and another 170 sent from around the country.

Two of the largest fires in Napa and Sonoma counties were at least 25 percent contained by Friday, which marked “significant progress,” said Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. But he cautioned that crews would face more gusty winds, low humidity and higher temperatures. Those conditions were expected to take hold later Friday and persist into the weekend.

Smoke from the blazes hung thick over the grape-growing region and drifted south to the San Francisco Bay Area. Face masks were becoming a regular accessory, and sunsets turned blood-red from the haze.

“It’s acrid now,” said Wayne Petersen in Sonoma. “I’m wearing the mask because I’ve been here two or three days now. I live here. It’s starting to really affect my breathing and lungs.”

Fire officials were investigating whether downed power lines or other utility failures could have sparked the fires, but they say they are far from determining how the blazes began.

Iran now main suspect in UK parliament cyberattack — report

British intelligence officials now believe that Iran was behind a June cyberattack at Britain’s parliament that breached some 90 email accounts, including that of Prime Minister Theresa May, UK media reported.

Investigators had blamed the attack on Russia or North Korea, but now believe that Tehran was behind the hack that saw lawmakers passwords sold online, according to an unpublished assessment by British intelligence seen by British media.

A spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Center, the government body responsible for helping to counter attacks, told the Guardian that: “It would be inappropriate to comment further while inquiries are ongoing.”

The report was first reported by The Times, but later also confirmed by the Guardian, which said that the attack hit the accounts of dozens of MPs, including May, and senior ministers. The network affected was used by every MP for interactions with constituents.

At the time of the June 23 attack, a security source told the Guardian that “It was a brute force attack. It appears to have been state-sponsored,”  adding that “the nature of cyberattacks means it is notoriously difficult to attribute an incident to a specific actor.”

“Investigations are ongoing, but it has become clear that significantly fewer than one percent of the 9,000 accounts on the parliamentary network have been compromised,” the parliamentary spokesman told the Press Association.

“As they are identified, the individuals whose accounts have been compromised have been contacted and investigations to determine whether any data has been lost are under way,” he added.

Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chris Rennard tweeted that there was a “cyber security attack on Westminster; Parliamentary emails may not work remotely.”

International Trade Minister Liam Fox told ITV News said it was a “warning to everyone we need more security and better passwords.”

Fox told the BBC: “We know that our public services are attacked so it is not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails”.



Hezbollah combatants have entered Germany since mid-2015 as part of the wave of refugees from the Middle East, according to a German intelligence report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post.

The report released this month shows increased membership for Hezbollah and Hamas in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Since mid-2015 there are increased indications of fighters from Shi’ite militias entering Germany as legal refugees,” according to the intelligence report. “The indications regarding roughly 50% [of the fighters] show a direct connection to Hezbollah.”

The EU designated Hezbollah’s so-called military wing, Izzadin Kassam, as a terrorist organization in 2013.

Militants who entered Germany with no concrete links to a specific terror group had largely fought on the side of Shi’ite militias against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, according to the report.

The danger these Hezbollah members pose is difficult to assess without a close examination of the Islamists, the report read.


North Rhine-Westphalia is home to the Imam-Mahdi Center in the city of Münster, which is a meeting place for Hezbollah members, according to the report. Additional cities where Hezbollah is active in North Rhine-Westphalia are Essen, Bottrop, Dortmund and Bad Oeynhausen, it continued.

It is unclear how many Hezbollah terrorists disguised themselves as asylum-seekers to enter Germany. But according to Germany’s federal intelligence agency, there are 950 active Hezbollah operatives in the Federal Republic.

The intelligence officials said there is no evidence the Hezbollah members in Germany are departing for war zones.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s intelligence agency reported an increase of Hezbollah membership, from 100 in 2015 to 105 in 2016. German intelligence services define Hezbollah members in Germany as part of the Lebanese Shi’ite’s organization’s political wing.

The North Rhine-Westphalia intelligence agency did not detail the number of Hezbollah fighters, who would be sanctioned terrorists, disguised as refugees that entered Germany since mid-2015.

Leading counterterrorism experts do not divide Hezbollah into political and military wings. The US, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands classify Hezbollah as a unitary terrorist organization.

The intelligence document noted that Hezbollah’s goal is the “destruction of the State of Israel as well as Islamic domination over Jerusalem.”

The Post reported in August that German and Israeli lawmakers wrote Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière that “it is unacceptable that terrorist organizations [Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] in Germany are planning events and recruiting supporters while the responsible authorities do not have any legal tools to prevent it.”

De Maizière declined to ban Hezbollah’s entire organization or the PFLP.

The intelligence agency in North Rhine-Westphalia said it is unaware of Hezbollah plans to carry out terrorist attacks in Germany.

The number of Hamas members in North Rhine-Westphalia rose to 75 in 2016 from 65 in 2015. Both the US and the EU classify Hamas as terrorist organizations.

It is unclear why Germany’s interior minister does not detain Hamas members. Hamas, according to the federal intelligence report, is represented in Germany by the NGO Palestinian Community in Germany (PGD). Hamas members, wrote the report, obtain funding in Germany via donations.

State officials said Hamas supporters were present at a number of PGD demonstrations and other events in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the cities of Dortmund, Essen, Düsseldorf, Bonn and Wuppertal. Hamas supporters use Germany as a location to “collect funds” and “recruit new members to spread their propaganda,” said the report.

Report: Massive morale problems aboard US Navy ship


(CNN) Morale aboard a US warship operating in the Pacific reached such a low ebb that one sailor described serving aboard the ship as being akin to being on “a floating prison,” according to surveys obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

The Navy Times obtained three command climate surveys featuring hundreds of pages of anonymous comments from sailors revealing widespread morale issues aboard the USS Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser based in Yokosuka, Japan.
Two Navy officials told CNN that the information reported from the surveys was accurate.
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According to the obtained surveys only 31% of the sailors who responded to the survey said yes to the prompt: “I trust that my organization’s leadership will treat me fairly,” compared to 63% under the previous commanding officer.
Additionally, only 37% agreed with the statement “I feel motivated to give my best efforts to the mission of the organization,” compared to 69% agreeing to the statement under the previous leadership.
The Navy officials added that the poor results of one climate survey caused Navy leadership to increase the frequency of which such surveys were conducted to help prompt the commander, Capt. Adam Aycock, to improve his performance.
One of the officials said they could not explain how Aycock managed to retain command in the face of the poor survey results.
Aycock served as the Shiloh’s commanding officer from June 2015 to August 2017 and is now at the US Naval War College.
One official said that Aycock remains on active duty and was not prematurely reassigned from his command of the Shiloh.
The survey responses also showed that junior sailors were concerned about receiving harsh punishments from Aycock, including being placed in the brig and fed only “bread and water,” an arcane form of punishment that is still available to commanding officers.
“Even the taxi drivers on base know us for being the ‘USS Bread and Water,'” one survey respondent said.
Language prohibiting that form of punishment was placed into the current version of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act.
The Shiloh is part of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet which has been beset by a series of problems including two deadly collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John McCain.
Officers in the 7th Fleet have faced a range of disciplinary actions and the Navy took the rare step of relieving the fleet’s commander, Vice. Adm. Joseph Aucoin.
The Shiloh, like the McCain and the Fitzgerald, is also equipped with the Aegis Missile Defense system which is capable of shooting down hostile missiles from adversarial states like North Korea.
The ship made headlines in June when a US sailor who was thought to have gone overboard for seven days and was presumed dead was found aliveaboard the ship after prompting a major search operation. The sailor was later subjected to a non-judicial punishment.

Trump advisers fear he’s ‘unraveling’ — and even Bannon thinks he won’t serve his full term: report

President Donald Trump’s constant rage is becoming more and more explosive, and a new report from Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman claims that even his trusted advisers feel the president is coming apart at the seams.

“Several people close to the president have recently told me… that Trump is ‘unstable,’ ‘losing a step,’ and ‘unraveling,’” Sherman writes in his explosive story.

Sherman claims that he has spoken with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers over the past several days, and he says all of them describe a White House that is struggling to stop the president from careening into disaster.

Trump seems to have been set off by the loss of Luther Strange, the candidate whom he had endorsed for the Republican nomination for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by current Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Alabama was a huge blow to his psyche,” one Trump confidant tells Sherman. “He saw the cult of personality was broken.”

One of Sherman’s sources also says that Steve Bannon — the Breitbart News boss who once ran Trump’s campaign and who for months served as his top political strategist before being ousted this past summer — believes that Trump only has a 30% chance of making it through a full term.

Bannon reportedly warned Trump earlier this year about the possibility that his cabinet could invoke the 25th amendment to have him removed from office. Specifically, the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the vice president and “and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” the power to remove the president if they deem he is no longer capable of faithfully discharging his duties.



Israeli football fans will be welcome in Qatar should their team qualify for the 2022 World Cup, or so the Gulf state said on Monday.

Hassan al-Thawadi, the leader of the country’s World Cup organizing committee, was pointedly asked by a New York Times reporter: “Should Israel qualify, would the team and its fans be welcome?”

Al-Thawadi replied, “Everyone is welcome. It’s a simple answer: everybody is welcome.”

More than 1.2 million soccer fans from all over the world are expected to pour into the tiny country in what many fear will be a huge culture clash for a Muslim country.

But Mr. al-Thawadi said drinking alcohol would tolerated, as long as it was not in public.

He said, “We’ve always said it very clearly: alcohol will be allowed. But it won’t be allowed in public spaces. It’ll be allowed in certain designated areas, for example, but you won’t be allowed to walk the street drinking alcohol.”

British-educated al-Thawadi also sought to allay fears that gay people might not be welcome, given the strong condemnation in parts of the Arab world of homosexuality.

He added: “It’s a simple thing. Everyone is welcome to Qatar. What we ask is that when people come, just to respect – we’re a relatively conservative nation. Public display of affection is something that’s not part of our culture. So all we ask is that every fan who comes in, and every fan is welcome, is we ask that people respect that.”

He predicted that the passion for football which exists in the region would see fans rise above any political differences between Qatar and its neighbors.

“We’re football crazy,” he said. “I mean the Middle East, the Arab world, is football crazy, plain and simple. You go to any corner, whether it’s in Qatar, whether it’s in Saudi, whether it’s in Morocco, and start speaking football, and you will find a very, very deep cauldron of passion and knowledge.”

The last time Israel competed in a World Cup was in 1970 in Mexico, when they failed to get past the group stage.



Israel tipped off the US to a broad Russian hacking attempt, first revealed two years ago, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

In 2015, Russian government hackers scoured computers across the world to try to reach American intelligence programs, but they were not aware that Israeli intelligence officers were tracking their activity and eventually brought it to the knowledge of the US, who then put the dangerous hacking attempt to a halt.

The Russian hackers, the Times report explained, used an antivirus software operated by a company called Kaspersky Lab that is broadly utilized by some 400 million people worldwide (including by officials at American government agencies).

According to the Times, the Russian hackers used the software to steal classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who was using the software on his home computer. They also turned the software into a type of search engine, but the extent of the activity they pursued by doing that has still not been revealed.

Last month, the US government decided to remove the Kaspersky software from all government computers as a result of the Israeli reveal that the Russian espionage attempt was underway.

A previous report on the Russian use of the software to steal classified N.S.A materials from an employee who used the software inappropriately on his home computer was released by The Wall Street Journal last week, but did not reveal Israel’s integral role in preventing the Russian hackers from getting their hands on further sensitive information.

The Russian hackers were reportedly unaware that Israel was keeping tabs on their activity until mid-2015, at which point an engineer with Kaspersky who tested a new detection tool was made aware of unusual activity in the network, leading to an investigation by the company that concluded with a report released in 2015 and available to the public.

The report didn’t point at Israel as the country that hacked into the software, but noted that the hack was reminiscent of a previous attack identified as “Duqu,” which was attributed to the same countries behind the Stuxnet cyberweapon.

Stuxnet, spearheaded in an Israel-US collaboration, infilitrated Iran Natanz nuclear facility in 2010 and destroyed a fifth of Iran’s uranium centrifuges, according to foreign reports.

Kaspersky dubbed this attack as “Duqu 2.0,” and pointed out that others who were attacked in the same way were ideal Israeli targets.

According to the Times, Kaspersky investigators realized that Israeli hackers used especially sophisticated tools to infiltrate the system, stealing passwords, erasing emails and documents and taking screenshots.

The Jerusalem Post first reported of Kaspersky’s suspicions in 2015, when the cybersecurity firm noted that there were breaches in its software at three luxury European hotels from a virus considered a hallmark of Israeli intelligence operations. Kaspersky’s investigation then led to the discovery that all three hotels hosted talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program in the past year.

According to the company’s report, Kaspersky crosschecked thousands of hotels in search of similar breaches. It found only three. The firm declined to name those hotels, but the negotiations have been held in only six hotels in Switzerland and Austria since the diplomatic effort first began.

Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the hack was not limited to the hotels and that “up to 100″ targets were subjected to the attack.

“It’s important to know that Kaspersky Lab products identified the infection within various victims,” Baumgartner said. “In addition to several unknown victims, we are quite sure that at least three of the venues where P5+1 talks about a nuclear deal with Iran were held have been attacked.”

Speaking to the Times, representatives of Kaspersky Lab denied that they were aware or implicit in the Russian hacking. “Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts,” the company said Tuesday. Kaspersky Lab also added that it “respectfully requests any relevant, verifiable information that would enable the company to begin an investigation at the earliest opportunity.”

Israeli intelligence officers reached out to the N.S.A to inform the agency that while hacking into the Kaspersky software they learned that Russian government hackers were using the system to scan American government classified programs and take findings back to Russian intelligence systems. The Times report said that Israeli officials provided evidence for their findings, showing N.S.A counterparts evidence in the form of screenshots and other documents.

And while Israel intruded the Kaspersky software in 2014, only in September did the Department of Homeland Security ordered all federal executive branch agencies to stop using Kaspersky products within 90 days.

The National Security Agency, the White House, the Israeli Embassy and the Russian Embassy all declined to comment on the Times report.

Israel produces 10-15 atomic bombs each year: report

The Israeli regime has produced 690-950 kg of plutonium and continued to build from 10 to 15 nuclear bombs of the Nagasaki type each year, a report says.

Israel, which also develops very sophisticated chemical weapons in addition to biological and nuclear weapons, refutes to sign any international treaty to allow UN to inspect its nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported.

The report added that Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has 100 to 300 nuclear warheads and their appropriate vectors (ballistic and cruise missiles and fighter-bombers).

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates, Israel has produced 690-950 kg of plutonium, and continues to build as much as necessary to make from 10 to 15 bombs of the Nagasaki type each year.

Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nor the Convention Banning Biological Weapons, and has signed but not ratified the Convention Banning Chemical Weapons.

The entrance of the Israel Institute for Biological Research, Ness- Ziona is the cover for the research and manufacturing of Israeli chemical and biological weapons.

Israel also produces tritium, a radioactive gas with which neutron warheads are made, which causes minor radioactive contamination but higher lethality.

According to various international reports, also quoted by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, biological and chemical weapons are developed at the Institute for Biological Research, located in Ness- Ziona, near Tel Aviv.

Officially, 160 scientists and 170 technicians are part of the staff, who for five decades have performed research in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology, physics and other scientific disciplines.

The Institute, along with the Dimona nuclear center, is “one of the most secretive institutions in Israel” under direct jurisdiction of the prime minister.

The greatest secrecy surrounds research on biological weapons, bacteria and viruses that spread among the enemy and can trigger epidemics. Among them, the bacteria of the bubonic plague (the ”Black Death” of the Middle Ages ) and the Ebola virus, contagious and lethal, for which no therapy is available.

With biotechnology, one can produce new types of pathogens which the target population is not able to resist, not having the specific vaccine. There is also strong evidence of research to develop biological weapons that can destroy the human immune system. Officially the Israeli Institute conducts research on vaccines against bacteria and viruses, such as anthrax funded by the Pentagon, but it is obvious that they can develop new pathogens for war use.

The same expedient is used in the United States and in other countries to get around the conventions prohibiting biological and chemical weapons. In Israel, the screed secret was partially torn by the inquiry that was conducted, with the help of scientists, by the Dutch journalist Karel Knip.

It has also come out that toxic substances developed by the Institute have been used by the Mossad to assassinate Palestinian leaders.

Medical evidence indicates that in Gaza and Lebanon, Israeli forces used weapons of a new design: they leave the body intact outside but, upon penetration, devitalize tissues, carbonize liver and bones, and coagulate the blood. This is possible with nanotechnology, the science that casts microscopic structures by building them atom by atom.

Italy also participates in the development of these weapons, linked to Israel by a military cooperation agreement and being its number one European partner in research and development. In the last Finance Act, Italy provided an annual allocation of €3 million for projects of Italian- Israeli joint research. Like the one indicated in the last notice of the Farnesina (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), “new approaches to combat pathogens resistant to treatment.”