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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Secret Fire

Spontaneously Combusted,

Who knew that there was a big fire at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, also on Monday? What a coincidence! 
It's easy to see how that got completely missed by all the media and charitable corporations, with all of the important news about the Notre Dame fire, ... isn't it? Thanks Eleni.
Palestine news agency, Wafa, cited a guard as saying that,
“The fire broke out in the guard’s room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of Jerusalem Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully.”
Al-Marwani prayer room is located underneath the south-eastern corner of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound (Haram Al Sharif).


​Criticizing Israel Will Land You In Prison:
Soon, this blog will be illegal.
No, I’m not selling drugs or peddling child pornography. 
I write about America’s wars and the primary objective of those illegal and immoral wars—to make Israel the hegemon of the Middle East along with Saudi Arabia. All US foreign policy in that region centers on those two nations.
The following may soon be classified as hate speech and anti-semitism (as increasingly criticism of the Jewish state and its Zionist political ideology are considered crimes).
Jewish neocons found their way into the Reagan administration and later the Bush Junior White House and Pentagon. Huddled under the wing of Vice President Dick Cheney, they plotted to attack and destroy Israel’s enemies. Neocon ideologues strategized and published papers on these manufactured wars, most notably a paper presented to then Israeli president Bibi Netanyahu. It called for taking out Iraq and Syria. Israeli academics have written on this subject for decades. The nation’s early leaders engineered border provocations and false flag attacks (the Lavon Affair) to destabilize the region. Southern Lebanon is considered a valuable asset primarily for its water resources (e.g. “Operation Litani”) and the Golan Heights in Syria was occupied for its strategic value. 
 
​Why The Gulf States Are So Edgy, Alastair Crooke (I hope the link is working again when you click on it. Thanks Eleni)
The Gulf grandees have a right to be edgy, Alastair Crooke writes. They can see that Trump’s ‘war hawks’ are intent on cornering, pressurising and provoking Iran.. Algeria. Libya. Saudi Arabia.

NOT Mike-the-Slob, please!
 One day after North Korea's Leader Kim reportedly oversaw the test of a "new tactical guided weapon", North Korea on Thursday demanded that Secretary of State and former CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, should be replaced for any future negotiations with the U.S., the country's media reported.
"Whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, talks between the two countries go wrong without any results even from the point close to success," Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kwon Jong-gun as saying. Kwon is director general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's department for American affairs. He was addressing the first session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly of the country.
Two summits between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un since June 2018 have failed to reach an agreement over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In response, Kwon suggested a "more careful and mature" negotiator to take Pompeo's place.
"I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled," he said.
"Therefore, even in the case of a possible resumption of the dialogue with the U.S., I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but [anyone] who is more careful and mature in communicating with us," he said.
Kwon said the North Korean leader and the U.S. president had good personal relations.


​North Korea tests new tactical guided weapon. (I wonder what it could be. They really need to threaten American planes and ships. The picture is taken over land, but...)

Kim Dong-yub, an analyst from Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said North Korea’s descriptions of the test show the weapon is possibly a newly developed cruise missile. The North’s report said the “tactical guided weapon” successfully tested in a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and demonstrated the ability to deliver a “powerful warhead.”  The analyst said the test could also be intended as a message to the North Korean people and military of a commitment to maintaining a strong level of defense even as it continues talks with Washington over nukes.  

Tulsi Gabbard:  ​"Unlike Donald Trump I will not turn our great country into the prostitute of Saudi Arabia."
The former combat veteran who served in the Iraq War has gotten visibility and vast push back even within her own party for making "ending regime change wars" her campaign focus.
“By vetoing the war powers resolution, Trump has again proven that he is the servant of Saudi Arabia, the theocratic dictatorship that spends billions of dollars every single year spreading the most extreme and intolerant form of Islam around the world,” Gabbard said in a social media video. “The very same ideology that motivated al Qaeda and other jihadists,” she added, echoing her prior theme calling out Saudi support for al-Qaedia and ISIS.
The 37-year-old had been a key mover behind the bipartisan congressional push to invoke the war powers act directing the commander-in-chief to remove US forces from the Yemen campaign within 30 days. 

​Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:​
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made headlines this week by taking on the Center for American Progress, long known as a messaging arm of the mainstream Democratic Party. Sanders wrote a letter criticizing the CAP board for playing a “destructive role” in the “critical mission to defeat Donald Trump,” a critique seemingly crafted in response to recent efforts by ThinkProgress, a news site founded by CAP, to paint Sanders as a hypocrite for being a millionaire author.
The Sanders letter to CAP formalized the rift between the Democratic establishment and the labor-based movement of millions Sanders represents. That we’re talking about a petty PR battle and not the hardcore disagreement about policy and (especially) campaign funding sources that created this divide is Exhibit A proving the old propaganda method is still working.
The practice of painting dissident challenges as selfish, hypocritical acts — as opposed to the selfless altruism of corporate-funded candidates — has been going on forever. Long before Sanders was framed as a thin-skinned, cranky narcissist who’s “all about himself,” Dennis Kucinich went through the same thing.
Kucinich was/is living proof of the Bierce aphorism. When he announced his run for president in October of 2003, the Ohio congressman “stood up against corporate interests,” promised to revoke NAFTA, endorsed decriminalization of marijuana, called for universal health care and trumpeted “amnesty and legalization for illegal immigrants.”​ ​He was the only candidate promising to withdraw troops from Iraq, and in those jingoistic years after 9/11, he not only brought an imam on stage for his launch, he took a shot at Columbus Day.​..

The easiest way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable truths is to create an ick factor around the politician benefiting from them. That was Sanders in 2016 and it’s still him, mainly. However, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have also been pre-emptively dipped in the ick this cycle, cast as crippled politicians whose mere presence in the race will “undermine” Democrats in the end.​..
What a lot of DC-based reporters and analysts don’t grasp is that if you remove Bernie Sanders from the scene, there will still be millions of people out there mad about income inequality. Remove Gabbard, and discontent about the human and financial costs of our military commitments will still be rampant. Removing Warren won’t cancel out anger about Wall Street corruption.

​WAIT! This would completely negate The Pompeo Doctrine. :-o
Bernie Sanders won praise from environmental groups after releasing a climate platform that calls for a complete ban on fracking, a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, an end to oil exports, and a Green New Deal.  
Public Banking, as the Bank of North Dakota has done for 100 years, is getting noticed by populist politicians again. 
Public Banking turns out to be very good for the 99% Ellen Brown has the update. 
This, yet again, could go live... maybe even in California.

Charles Hugh Smith has important experienced insights on financial crises, and predictions for the one that's next.
Interestingly, modern financial crises seem to oscillate between fraud and over-reach: the S&L crisis resulted from the commoditization of mortgage fraud, the 2000 dot-com crash resulted from extremes of over-valuation and margin debt, the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown resulted from the globalized commoditization of securitization fraud, and now the pins are being set up for the next financial crisis triggered by extremes of credit and overvaluation.​..​  Extreme levels of debt and overvaluation characterize the entire global economy, and are not limited to any one nation or sector. When this crisis gathers steam, there will be few avenues of escape. Adding regulations won't stop it, adding liquidity won't stop it, waving chicken entrails and dancing the humba-humbaaround the MMT/Keynesian campfire won't stop it.
Attempting to force extremes to even more extended extremes won't stop it.
 
Yellow Vest Democracy Update, Thanks Cat.
For example, if you are a small-town Yellow Vest and take the train to Paris on a Saturday, you are likely to be stopped several times between the station and the Champs Elysées. If you have in your backpack Vaseline, eye drops, ski goggles, a bicycle helmet, a face-scarf or God forbid a gas mask, you can be arrested, brought to summary trial, and convicted the very same day for being part of a “group organized for the purpose of destroying public order and obstructing the forces of order.”
Of course, if you insist on a real trial with lawyers and everything, they will gladly hold you over in jail, but if you’re not at work on Monday you’ll lose your job and meanwhile who is minding the kids?​ ...
​... T​urning these absurd police-state practices into law is what brought pacifists like Geneviève Legay out into the streets with the Yellow Vests. Interviewed in the hospital, where she is still in pain and recovering slowly from multiple injuries, she declared: “Today I am determined to carry on the fight. It is ever more necessary to do so when you see the anti-democratic drift of this government […] The yellow Vests support me and I will continue supporting them. I am not going to stop fighting to defend our rights, as I have for 50 years, and to struggle against State repression whatever form it may take.”

​Golden Light​

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Deep France

Speaking Frankly,

Charles Hugh Smith looks at the sustained assault upon French identity.
These are not matters solely of politics and finance; they are manifestations of the elite war on the identity of France.
As rationalists, we're supposed to take the dramatic and profoundly tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as random chance or bad luck. But I cannot be the only one who feels a symbolic tie between the near-destruction of a French religious and cultural icon and the embattled identity of France.
As it happens, I am reading Fernand Braudel's massive two-volume history The Identity of France: Volume One: History and Environment and Volume Two: People and Production...
The Chinese famously view natural disasters and similar events as portents of political change, as disasters suggest the Emperor/ruling elite has lost the Mandate of Heaven. It is difficult not to see the disastrous fire in Notre Dame as just such a portent.
For the identity of France is under assault on a number of fronts. The left-leaning status quo has set up a false duality: one either worships multiculturalism and rejects a national identity as the sworn enemy of multiculturalism, or one is a rightist racist. Thus anyone who even refers to a national identity of France is quickly vilified and marginalized...
These are not matters solely of politics and finance; they are manifestations of the elite war on the identity of France, to transform it into a bland, globalized hierarchy in which capital and power benefit the few, a system enforced by state propaganda and public virtue-signaling.​..
The corporate media, a key defender of the self-serving elite, will reject any symbolism in the near-destruction of Notre Dame. But deep down, many sense what cannot be spoken openly: the elites in France have lost the Mandate of Heaven.

The cause of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire is still being investigated and the Paris prosecutor has ruled out arson and says it was likely the result of an accident. 
"We are favoring the theory of an accident," prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters Tuesday.
The fire to the iconic church, however, may have raised awareness to a rash of vandalism to French churches. A total of 875 of France's 42,258 churches were vandalized in 2018, with a small fire set to the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris in March, according to French police.
In the same week that the fire broke out at the Saint-Sulpice church, another 11 churches were vandalized. According to the Ministry of the Interior, a total of 1,063 anti-Christian acts were recorded in 2018 alone.
Other acts of vandalism to the churches include human feces spread on the walls of the Notre-Dame-des-Enfacts in Nimes and a damaged organ at the Saint-Denis basilica. Another 129 churches had thefts on their property with still another 59 cemeteries vandalized.
Republication MP Valerie Boyer told the Sun, “Every day, at least two churches are profaned.”
The fire at the Saint-Sulpice church, although small, was started deliberately according to police and will cost several hundred million euros to repair, Courrier International reported. 
There has been a call for more investigations in the anti-Christian acts in France by legislators as the acts of vandalism have been downplayed by church officials.

"Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols. There is an eloquent silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators.... Not a word, not even the slightest hint that could in anyway lead to the suspicion of migrants... It is not the perpetrators who are in danger of being ostracized, but those who dare to associate the desecration of Christian symbols with immigrant imports. They are accused of hatred, hate speech and racism."  

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.
Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.
Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.


​Wikileaks "Dead Man Switch"
Assange's seven-year exile ended on Thursday, when the Metropolitan Police dragged the publisher out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. While his fate is in limbo, even more uncertainty surrounds the WikiLeaks "insurance" files – believed by some to be the website's "dead man's switch" option: a massive encrypted data dump whose decryption keys will be revealed in case Assange gets arrested or killed, or WikiLeaks gets taken down for good.
Now that Assange is in custody, speculation has swirled that the keys are about to be made public – but nothing has happened so far.


This is purported to be the "insurance policy" dump, but I can't confirm it.

It does not appear on the Wikileaks "leaks" page.

This is the blog that asserts the file above is Assange's insurance policy data dump. It's not one I know.

Former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray: 
Tonight both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange are in jail, both over offences related to the publication of materials specifying US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and both charged with nothing else at all. No matter what bullshit political and MSM liars try to feed you, that is the simple truth. Manning and Assange are true heroes of our time, and are suffering for it...
 District Judge Michael Snow is a disgrace to the bench who deserves to be infamous well beyond his death. He displayed the most plain and open prejudice against Assange in the 15 minutes it took for him to hear the case and declare Assange guilty, in a fashion which makes the dictators’ courts I had witnessed, in Babangida’s Nigeria or Karimov’s Uzbekistan, look fair and reasonable, in comparison to the gross charade of justice conducted by Michael Snow.
One key fact gave away Snow’s enormous prejudice. Julian Assange said nothing during the whole brief proceedings, other than to say “Not guilty” twice, and to ask a one sentence question about why the charges were changed midway through this sham “trial”. Yet Judge Michael Snow condemned Assange as “narcissistic”. There was nothing that happened in Snow’s brief court hearing that could conceivably have given rise to that opinion. It was plainly something he brought with him into the courtroom, and had read or heard in the mainstream media or picked up in his club. It was in short the very definition of prejudice, and “Judge” Michael Snow and his summary judgement is a total disgrace.

Moon of Alabama: ​ CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump
An ass kissing portrait of Gina Haspel, torture queen and director of the CIA, reveals that she lied to Trump to push for more aggression against Russia.
In March 2018 the British government asserted, without providing any evidence, that the alleged 'Novichok' poisoning of Sergej and Yulia Skripal was the fault of Russia. It urged its allies to expel Russian officials from their countries.
The U.S. alone expelled 60 Russian officials. Trump was furious when he learned that EU countries expelled less than 60 in total...
The expulsion marked a turn in the Trump administration's relation with Russia...
Today the New York Times portraits Gina Haspel's relation with Trump. The writers seem sympathetic to her and the CIA's position. They include an anecdote of the Skripal expulsion decision that is supposed to let her shine in a good light. But it only proves that the CIA manipulated the president for its own purpose...
If the NYT piece is correct, the CIA director, in cooperation with the British government, lied to Trump about the incident. Their aim was to sabotage Trump's announced policy of better relations with Russia. The ruse worked.
The NYT piece does not mention that the pictures Gina Haspel showed Trump were fake. It pretends that her lies were "new information" and that she was not out to manipulate him.

"Pompeo Doctrine" in action...
The US’ desire to dismantle the network of Iranian influence in Latin America and specifically in Venezuela speaks to its commitment to counter the regional sway of its rivals’ “deep states”, though it’s hitherto unprecedented for any country to make such a crusade public since the end of the Old Cold War, let alone clothe it in “anti-terrorist” and “anti-criminal” rhetoric.
US Secretary of State Pompeo recently reiterated his rhetoric that Iran is a “global threat”, this time basing it on his claims that the country’s network of influence in Latin America is supporting “transnational crime” and “terrorism”.

The latest sanctions coincided with a South American trip by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Colombia in the past week. Venezuela was one of the main topics on the agenda, as well as Chinese investments in Latin America.
Pompeo’s last stop was the Colombian town of Cucuta, right on the border with Venezuela, where he met Colombian President Ivan Duque and Venezuelan opposition leaders such as Julio Borges.Borges is wanted by Venezuelan judicial authorities for his alleged involvement in the drone assassination attempt against President Maduro on August 4, 2018.
Speaking in Cucuta on Sunday, Pompeo vowed to use “every economic and political means at our disposal,” including sanctions, to hold the “regime” accountable.
“You watch the political and diplomatic noose tighten around Maduro’s neck,” he told reporters before going back to the US.
Pompeo’s trip also featured warnings against Cuba, Russia and China for their support for the Maduro government. The secretary of state warned Havana and Moscow that there would be a “cost” for supporting Maduro, while also criticizing China’s presence in Latin America throughout the trip, calling it “nefarious.”


I think there is room for both of them to be technically correct...
 The Chinese ambassador to Santiago called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “a hypocrite” after he tried to dissuade the South American nation from dealing with Beijing, as the US and China remain locked in a trade war.
“Pompeo has lost his mind and gone too far,” Beijing’s envoy to Chile, Xu Bu, said, slamming the attacks against Chinese economic activities in the region as “malicious” and “absurd.”
Mike Pompeo earlier called Chinese investment projects in the South America “debt deal traps” during a visit to Santiago. Beijing “often injects corrosive capital into the economic bloodstream, giving life to corruption, and eroding good governance,” he said.


​The Venezuelan Crisis Can End if the US Halts Economic War
"The mainstream narrative is demonstrably false. Here we have to do with an economic war dating back to 1999 and with draconian measures to asphyxiate the Venezuelan economy since 2015," Alfred de Zayas, an American lawyer, writer, historian, and former UN rapporteur to Venezuela, told Sputnik...
The writer highlighted that contrary to the MSM narrative, "Venezuela actually enjoyed the most prosperous time in its history during the 10 years" before the crisis erupted in 2013-2014...
 According to the journalist, "the US blockade against Venezuela can only be compared to the one imposed against Cuba since 1960."  Duarte pointed out that according to Caracas' February estimates, "direct losses to the nation's economy were 38 billion dollars, 15 billion related to the siege against the company Citgo, a subsidiary of the state oil company Venezuelan Petroleum in the US". Additionally, the Bank of England has frozen 1.2 billion dollars in Venezuelan gold reserves.
"The Venezuelan crisis is artificial," Zayas stressed. "It can be solved by lifting the sanctions, ending the economic war and the financial blockade, and by stopping the manipulation of the currency, resulting in induced inflation…  Luis Almagro has been acting in a highly unprofessional manner, contrary to the OAS Charter and thereby undermining the credibility and authority of the Organisation."

Blamed Victim

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Pompeo Doctrine

​Indoctrinated,​

When President Trump nominated the representative from Kansas, Mike Pompeo, as Director of the CIA, we interpreted this unexpected nomination in terms of the President’s difficulty to find allies in the Republican Party which he had just over-run. We had forgotten that from 2006 to 2010, Pompeo had been the CEO of the hydrocarbon equipment supplier Sentry International. He knew how the oil market worked, and knew personally the world’s main actors. At the same time, President Trump nominated Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Tillerson had been the CEO of one of the major hydrocarbon companies, Exxon-Mobil...
 It is obviously impossible today to estimate the extent of Pompeo’s actions as head of the secret service. However, we may entertain the thought that his older objectives may not be too far removed from those he defends today...
The 2019 Congress (CERAweek, 9 to 13 March, in Houston, Texas) was the largest international meeting in History on this subject. The CEOs of the main companies of 78 countries were present. Top of the bill was the speech by Mike Pompeo. The whole profession had been notified of the importance of his intervention, and this was the only moment at which the huge room was chock-full.
After having saluted his ex-colleagues, Mike Pompeo expressed his pride for the incredible performances of his country’s oil industry, which, in six years, had become the world’s major oil producer, thanks to new techniques for the extraction of shale. He announced that he had created a special bureau in the State Department tasked with managing energy resources. From now on, the directors of specialised US companies would have to talk to him. His mission was to help them to win markets overseas. In exchange, they must agree to help their own country to apply his energy policy.
This consisted both of producing as much as possible in the United States, and also drying up a part of the world offer in order to balance the market. This is the only way that the country would be able to sell shale oil and gas, since their extraction is particularly expensive.
According to the Pompeo doctrine, it is not a question of reducing world production to the level of demand per quotas of production, such as the OPEP+ has instituted for the last two years, but by closing the door on certain large-scale exporters - Iran, Venezuela and Syria (whose gigantic reserves were discovered only recently, and are not yet being exploited).​..​
Besides this,the US Treasury Department is blocking all means of transport for Iranian and Venezuelan oil, and also deliveries to destinations in Syria...
 The attitude of the White House towards Syria is different, insofar as this country is currently unable to exploit its reserves, and Russia is allowing time to pass. The aim is to prevent reconstruction and therefore make life impossible for its people. The CIA is implementing an intense strategy of sabotage against any form of energy supply. The majority of the population, for example, has no more gas for heating their homes, nor for cooking purposes. Worse, a Turkish petrol tanker which was transporting Iranian product to Syria was sabotaged off the port of Latakia. The ship exploded, causing the deaths of its entire crew and a vast oil slick which the Western Press did not even mention...
Mike Pompeo is attempting to impose a new distribution of territorial waters which would re-route Lebanese oil tankers under Israëli sovereignty...
For the moment, Donald Trump’s policies can only succeed by diminishing US demand. Until now, hydrocarbons were mainly used to fill automobile petrol tanks, which explains the development of projects for electric cars. Consuming petrol in order to supply electricity is much less expensive in the United States than using it directly in car motors. Above all, electricity can be supplied from various sources on US territory, inexpensively and at stable prices.
It is important to note that the development of electric vehicles has hardly any connection with the ideology according to which we must decrease the production of CO2 to bring down the temperature of the Earth.​.. 
The United States will not allow the export of hydrocarbons from Iran, Venezuela and Syria until 2023 or 2024, the date at which their shale production will begin to decrease rapidly, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Once again, the entire geopolitical structure will be overturned.  Thanks Eleni.​

What "new world order" are we up to now?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared today that the Western, liberal model of society is dying, and a new world order is taking its place. Lavrov made the comments at his annual meeting with students and professors at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
“The Western liberal model of development, which particularly stipulates a partial loss of national sovereignty – this is what our Western colleagues aimed at when they invented what they called globalization – is losing its attractiveness and is no more viewed as a perfect model for all. Moreover, many people in the very western countries are skeptical about it,” Lavrov said...
“The US and its allies are trying to impose their approaches on others,” Lavrov noted. “They are guided by a clear desire to preserve their centuries-long dominance in global affairs although from the economic and financial standpoint, the US – alone or with its allies – can no longer resolve all global economic and political issues,” he said.
“In order to preserve their dominance and recover their indisputable authority, they use blackmail and pressure. They don’t hesitate to blatantly interfere in the affairs of sovereign states.”


“Haftar would not be a player today without the foreign support he has received,” a Libyan affairs expert told The Wall Street Journal in a new lengthy profile of the Benghazi-based General Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) is advancing this week on Tripoli.
As Haftar consolidated power over much of the country's war ravaged east, also making huge gains in the past year over the south, he's all along enjoyed the political backing of an unlikely assortment of powerful countries that include the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France, and Russia. But the new WSJ report reveals his latest major external backer with endlessly deep pockets:
Days before Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize the capital and attempt to unite the divided country under his rule, Saudi Arabia promised tens of millions of dollars to help pay for the operation, according to senior advisers to the Saudi government...
But apparently, the Saudis and possibly other backers are actually funding the assault on Tripoli, and further securing weaponry. The WSJ continues:
Mr. Haftar accepted the recent Saudi offer of funds, according to the senior Saudi advisers, who said the money was intended for buying the loyalty of tribal leaders, recruiting and paying fighters, and other military purposes.
“We were quite generous,” one of the advisers said.
The report also notes that with his so far rapid advance west, more previously reluctant European officials are jumping on the Haftar train. As we noted previously, "Libya's incoming strongman will send the oil out to Europe, and keep its migrants in." ..
It should be noted that the likelihood is that he's already long been the CIA's man in Libya. What's not often stated outright is that Haftar is an American citizen, as recounted in a CNN profile this week: "Haftar is, to be polite, the ultimate pragmatist. He supported Moammar Gadhafi in his 1969 coup, then found himself in Langley, Virginia in the 90s where he gained US citizenship, before returning to overthrow Gadhafi in the 2011 conflict." 
While in exile in the US he lived a mere minutes from CIA headquarters: "As a military commander, Mr. Haftar broke with Ghaddafi in the 1980s and became part of a C.I.A.-backed effort to destabilize the Libyan regime. He then spent two decades in exile in the U.S., before returning to join the rebellion in 2011," according to the WSJ report.
Interestingly, though the White House has urged Haftar to avoid military conflict while pulling a contingency of Marines from the country, Bolton's comments to the WSJ reveal that "condemnations" of Haftar's offensive might be coupled with a wink and a nod:


 There is really only one unforgivable sin in the political realm, and that's destroying the official narrative by revealing the facts of the matter. This is why whistleblowers who make public the secret machinery of the elaborately artful lies underpinning all official narratives are hounded to the ends of the Earth...
Employees of state entities such as Ellsberg, Manning and Snowden are bound by vows of secrecy and threatened by the promise of severe punishment.Outsiders such as Assange are even further beyond the pale because they can't be accused of being traitors, as they never took the vows of secrecy required by the Deep State.
The single most damaging revelation to all the elaborate lies that make up official narratives is the truth revealed in official emails, documents and conversations. This is why virtually every document and correspondence is now "classified," so anyone releasing even a mundane scrap can be sentenced to rot in federal prison..​.​
In the immortal words of Jean-Claude Juncker, when it becomes serious you have to lie, and it's now serious all the time.
The entire global status quo is on the cusp of the S-Curve decline phase. Hence the vulnerability to disruption of its official narratives and the panicky paranoia of its handlers.


​Moon of Alabama:  ​CIA's Vault 7 Files Launched New Case Against Assange - Attack Intends To Prevent Further Leaks
After the arrest of Julian Assange by British police and the unsealing of the U.S. indictmentagainst him, the question is why is the U.S. doing this and why now? ...
It is thus likely that the case, as unsealed now, is only a pretext to extradite Assange from Britain. The real case will only get unsealed if and when Assange is in U.S. custody.
National security reporter William Arkin, who left NBC News over its warmongering, is likely right when he writes that the issue behind this is Wikileaks' publishing of the CIA's hacking tools known as Vault 7...
The American case, which shifted completely in March 2017, is based up WikiLeaks’ publications of the so-called “Vault 7” documents, an extensive set of cyber espionage secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Vault 7 was little noticed in the emerging Russian collusion scandal of the new Trump administration, but the nearly 10,000 CIA documents that WikiLeaks started publishing that March constituted an unprecedented breach, far more potentially damaging than anything the anti-secrecy website had ever done, according to numerous U.S. officials.
“There have been serious compromises – Manning and Snowden included – but until 2017, no one had laid a glove on the Agency in decades,” says a senior intelligence official who has been directly involved in the damage assessments.
“Then came Vault 7, almost the entire archive of the CIA’s own hacking group,” the official says. “The CIA went ballistic at the breach.” The official is referring to a little known CIA organization called the Center for Cyber Intelligence, a then unknown counterpart to the National Security Agency, and one that conducts and oversees the covert hacking efforts of the U.S. government.

​Ron Paul (Not running for POTUS in 2020, but Tulsi Gabbard is): 
Last week’s arrest of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange by the British government on a US extradition order is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on the US Constitution. It is an attack on the free press. It is an attack on free speech. It is an attack on our right to know what our government is doing with our money in our name. Julian Assange is every bit as much a political prisoner as was Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary or Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
They, and so many more, were imprisoned because they told the truth about their governments...
  As long as Julian Assange is in prison, we are all in prison. When the government has the power to tell us what we we allowed to see, hear, and know, we no longer live in a free society. Julian Assange will be extradited to the US and he will have dozens of charges piled on. They want him to disappear so that the next Assange will think twice before informing us of our government’s crimes. Are we going to let them steal our freedom?

​Theresa May is doing all that she can to betray British Citizens.​ 
Not scared of "no-deal-Brexit"? This might change that...
The government has halted all emergency planning for a no-deal Brexit despite committing £4bn to preparations, according to reports.
A leaked email reportedly sent to all civil servants in an unnamed “front line Brexit department” said no-deal operational planning had been suspended with “immediate effect”.


​"Kettled"

(Included are pictures from the new garden in Yoakum and the old garden in Austin from this weekend, including John and Jenny.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Fake Reality

Discerning Reality,

Naw, that's impossible. Where would the Taliban get the kinds of weapons to shoot down a B-52? Who would trust them?
The Taliban is currently claiming that militants have shot down a US B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber over Afghanistan, Middle East based news site Muraselon reports, citing official Taliban statements.
Taliban spokesman Qarri Muhammad Yousef Ahmad was cited by the Mideast news source as saying, “Mujaheddin of the Islamic Emirate targeted US B-52 bomber with heavy weapons today early morning in Lar area in Washir district of Helmand province, the bomber went down and all its crew were killed while smoke still rising from the crash site.”
Russian and Iranian state media were quick to circulate the claim, though it's as yet to be confirmed by other sources. Neither US nor Afghan national sources have acknowledged a B-52 crash, which the Taliban further said killed all crew members on board.  
The alleged incident occurred as the aircraft was departing Shawrab Airbase in southern Afghanistan during the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Well-known Taliban sources online also cited the alleged shoot down, such as Alemara Arabic, which brands itself the Arabic language version of the "Official account of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan":
The claim of a Taliban-downed US aircraft — which if true would constitute a rare and disastrous event for coalition forces — comes on the heels of a Taliban attack on a US convoy in north-eastern Afghanistan on Monday, which killed three US Marines and wounded an Afghan contractor.
Early reports out of neighboring Iran which highlighted the claimed incident featured publication of misleading photos of a downed B-52 bomber, given that the main image was of a prior B-52 accidental crash in Guam in 2016.


No news since yesterday on that. Nothing today...

 The US-Turkey showdown over Ankara's deal with Russia for the S-400 anti-air defense system continues and could even escalate further considering Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu this week issued a return ultimatum after continued Washington pledges to halt sale of Lockheed's F-35 stealth fighters.
Not only did FM Cavusoglu say on Wednesday that Turkey will not bow to mounting US pressure, but said if Washington blacklists Turkey on either sales of the US-made Patriot systems, or blocks F-35s already purchased, then Ankara may pursue even more S-400 systems and would further look for alternatives to the F-35 jets.


Notice how the interview is kept from straying into any mention of who coordinated with the CIA and Israel for guns, money medical care and air support...​
A former ISIS commander has claimed that the terror group cooperated directly with Turkish state intelligence agencies for years on areas of “common interest”.
The source said that senior Turkish government officials had numerous meetings with ISIS representatives to coordinate activities and that this also involved providing support and safe harbour to foreign fighters in the country. President Erdogan “was working hand in glove with ISIS” according to the US government counter-terrorism consultants who interviewed the ex-ISIS official...
Abu Mansour described having complete impunity to travel between Syria and Turkey, leading Speckhard to describe him as in effect an ISIS ‘Ambassador’. “I passed the borders and they let me pass”, he said. “[At the border], the Turks always sent me a car and I’m protected. A team of two to three people from our side were with me. I was in charge of our team most of the time.” ... 
Abu Mansour argued that his role was to coordinate a relationship between ISIS and Turkey where “both sides benefit.” Abu Mansour said that Turkey saw ISIS as a strategic tool to expand Turkey’s influence in northern Syria as the centre for a renewed empire:  
“We are in the border area and Turkey wants to control its borders — to control Northern Syria. Actually they had ambitions not only for controlling the Kurds. They wanted all the north, from Kessab (the most northern point of Syria) to Mosul… This is the Islamists’ ideology of Erdogan. They wanted all of the north of Syria. That is what the Turkish side said [they wanted], to control the north of Syria, because they have their real ambitions. Actually, we talked about what Erdogan said in public [versus what he really desired.] This part of Syria is part of the Ottoman states. Before the agreement following the Second World War, Aleppo and Mosul were part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The agreement Sykes Picot [in which they lost these regions] was signed for one hundred years. In our meetings, we talked about reestablishing the Ottoman Empire. This was the vision of Turkey.”  

After a nearly two year hiatus, North Korea may soon be launching empty ICBMs across the Pacific again, much to the chagrin of Japan which tends to be right below the flight path, and this time Kim Jong Un may have the backing of both Xi and Putin.  
 
The UK’s so-called “powers that be” are betraying Brexit through a mix of social engineering and mock elections in order craft the false narrative that it’s actually the “people’s will” to remain in the EU.
By now it’s obvious enough that PM May represents the vested interests of the UK’s so-called “powers that be” by betraying Brexit and doing all that she can to prevent her country’s exit from the EU. Her failed attempts to seal a deal with the bloc for a so-called “soft Brexit” were never anything more than a ruse because her people vote for a clean split from the EU that was later deceptively described as a so-called “hard Brexit” in order to invent the idea of its foil that she was then tasked with implementing as a “publicly plausible” time-buying measure. In reaction to the expected opposition that she’s encountered in parliament after humiliating her country on the world stage and over-complicating what would otherwise have been a manageable divorce, she’s now dangerously flirting with the idea of second referendum on whether to honor the spirit of Brexit or not.


​Living in a simulation, or reality? This is an ancient question. ("The Red pill is the absence of a separate self. "We" are not separate." Eggman)
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor has declared that it’s more likely that we are living in a simulation than not. In a recent interview with Digital Trends, MIT researcher Rizwan Virk stated that in his own personal estimation, we’re probably living in a simulation...
 Scientists are actually starting to take this idea seriously. One of those, is Oxford professor Nick Bostrom, who wrote an article in 2003 called “Are You Living in a Simulation?” He came up with a mathematically sound statistical argument for the simulation hypothesis. He says, suppose some civilization somewhere gets to the simulation point and can create highly realistic “ancestor simulations.” With more computing power, they can spin off new servers and new civilizations really quickly.
It is an interesting mind path to entertain this idea.  Of course, the real question then becomes “what IF” we are in a simulation? Can we break free as they do in The Matrix, or are we doomed to wander aimlessly never really living or experiencing anything?
Tulsi Gabbard, the Red Pill Politician, stands up for Julian Assange.
Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) condemned the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, calling the arrest a threat to journalists.
"The arrest of #JulianAssange is meant to send a message to all Americans and journalists: be quiet, behave, toe the line. Or you will pay the price," Gabbard tweeted.

​Gail Tverberg, at Our Finite World​ 
The economy operates under the laws of physics, and history shows disturbing outcomes if energy consumption per capita declines.
There are a number of issues:
​T​he impact of alternative energy sources is smaller than commonly believed.
When countries have reduced their energy consumption per capita by significant amounts, the results have been very unsatisfactory.
Energy consumption plays a bigger role in our lives than most of us imagine.
It seems likely that fossil fuels will leave us before we can leave them.
The timing of when fossil fuels will leave us seems to depend on when central banks lose their ability to stimulate the economy through lower interest rates.
If fossil fuels leave us, the result could be the collapse of financial systems and governments.


​Ilargi at The Automatic Earth, presents The Day America Died, in regards to the actions being taken to completely silence Julian Assang. (Yes, this is American fascism, and the honeymoon will soon be over.)
​Simulating Death​

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Prisoners And Puppets

Extradited,

Julian Assange, long under house-arrest conditions at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London has now fallen into the hands of the US deep state, where the UN opines, he will be tortured. The new Ecuadoran President got a deal he could take, and Scotland Yard has wanted to be done with the sneaky little bugger for years, already. The screws will be put to Assange in the current American Deep State power struggle. Will he survive?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been the subject of a sophisticated spying operation in the Ecuadorean embassy where he has been holed up since 2012, the group said on Wednesday...
  Hrafnsson said that the surveillance at the embassy was part of an escalation designed to achieve the result of having Assange extradited to the United States...
WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family.
Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.


​Weird; they tried to bleed Wikileaks of $3 million for this spy video and audio. Can't get blood from that turnip...
WikiLeaks has said it has uncovered a surveillance operation against Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy and that images, documents and videos gathered have been offered for sale.
Spanish police were said to have mounted a sting operation against unnamed individuals in Madrid who offered the material for sale in what lawyers and colleagues of Assange said on Wednesday was an attempt at extortion.
Some of the material came from video cameras with a capacity to record audio and which had been installed last year, a press conference organised by WikiLeaks was told.

“Extortion is a serious matter,” Hrafnsson said, “but of greater concern to me is that this is material gathered by spying by the government of Lenin Moreno and officials who work on his behalf against an individual who was granted diplomatic protection by the Ecuadorian government.”
In an apparent reference to Moreno, Hrafnsson said: “We know from reports that this is the work of one person to service the interests of the United States government who want to indict and imprison a publisher for the crime of publishing truthful material.” 
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/10/spanish-police-probe-extortion-scheme-involving-surveillance-on-assange/  
 
Now that the media has been exposed for wrongly siding with the intelligence agencies, how will it handle Devin Nunes’s criminal referrals in Deep State-gate?, asks Ray McGovern...
It beggars belief that Obama could have been unaware of Clapper’s bizarre views on “the Russians.” Clearly, Obama was bowing yet again to pressure from powerful Deep State actors arguing that Clapper was the ideal man for the job.
And there is now documentary evidence that, from the Deep State point of view, indeed he was. In the text exchanges between discredited FBI sleuth Peter Strzok and his girlfriend, Lisa Page, a lawyer working for the FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, it seems clear that Obama wanted to be kept apprised of the FBI’s behind-the-scenes machinations. In a Sept. 2, 2016 text to Strzok, Page writes that she was preparing talking points because the president “wants to know everything we’re doing”...
On Sunday, Nunes told Fox News he’s preparing to send eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice this week concerning alleged misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation. This will include leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. It’s no-holds-barred for Nunes, who has begun to talk publicly about prison for those whom DOJ might indict and bring to trial...
“They [the Democrats] have lied multiple times to the American people. All you have to do is look at their phony memos. They have had the full support of the m
edia, 90 percent of the media in this country. They all have egg on their face. And so the fact of the matter remains, is there going to be — is justice going to be served or is justice going to be denied? And that’s why we’re sending over these criminal referrals.” ...
On top of this, Sen. Rand Paul (R, KY) has called for an investigation into the origins of Mueller’s probe, including on the dicey question of how witting President Obama was of the Deep State chicanery during the last months of his administration. Page did tell Strzok in that Sept. 2, 2016 text that the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”
Sen. Paul has also tweeted information from “a high-level source” that it was former CIA Director John Brennan who “insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report… Brennan should be asked to testify under oath in Congress ASAP.”

​Theresa May is not allowed to leave until she delivers the solution ordered by her puppet-masters, complete elimination of UK voter-prerogative.​
Theresa May is set to enrage her critics within the Conservative party after setting herself up to stay on as prime minister until the winter while presiding over a long delay to Brexit.She told MPs just weeks ago that she was “not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June” as prime minister and said she would resign once this stage of talks was complete – prompting her rivals to gear up for a summer leadership contest.
But as EU leaders met on Wednesday night to decide on another lengthy Article 50 extension, a Conservative source said the prime minister’s promised departure was tied to passing the withdrawal agreement rather than a specific date.
After six hours of talks late into the night leaders agreed to extend the new Brexit deadline until 31 October, with a potential summit in June to review the situation.
The Punch and Judy Puppet Show​
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, enraged fellow leaders after standing alone against a long extension to Britain’s membership of the EU.
Macron insisted on speaking last during a working dinner in Brussels on Wednesday night during which he set his stall against a longer extension up to 31 December backed by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Over a dinner of scallop salad, cod loin and macadamia nut parfait, it soon emerged that France was nearly isolated, with only a handful of member states, such as Belgium, sounding sympathetic to his arguments...
The French source said no-deal could not be ruled out, arguing that damaging the running of the EU was the worst possible outcome. “The default position is no deal. Endangering the functioning of the EU is not preferable to no-deal.” ...
France had been worried the UK would act as a spoiler on future EU decisions. Macron said this outcome was avoided because the autumn date means the UK will leave before the arrival of a new European commission on 1 November...
“It’s true that the majority was more in favour of a very long extension. But it was not logical in my view, and above all, it was neither good for us, nor for the UK,” he said.
“I take responsibility for this position, I think it’s for the collective good.” ...
While the EU wrangled over dates, May dined at the British ambassador’s residence, where roast lamb and treacle tart was on the menu. She was called back to the summit around midnight to be presented with a take-it-or-leave-it delay until 31 October 2019, with the issue to be reviewed in June.

Edwin Hardeman and his wife, Mary, never expected that they would become de facto leaders of the federal court fight against the world’s most widely used weedkiller. They just wanted Monsanto to acknowledge the dangers – and potentially save other families from the horror they endured.
“This is something that was egregious to me. It was my personal battle and I wanted to take it full circle,” said Edwin, whose cancer is now in remission. “It’s been a long journey.”
Mary bristled when she thought about Monsanto’s continued defense of its chemical: “They should have been with us when we were in the chemo ward … not knowing what to do to relieve the pain.
“I get angry,” she added. “Very angry.”

Monsanto first put Roundup on the market in 1974, presenting the herbicide, which uses a chemical called glyphosate, as a breakthrough that was effective at killing weeds and safe. The product has earned the corporation billions in revenue a year, and glyphosate is now ubiquitous in the environment – with traces in water, food and farmers’ urine.

​More about that picture of a black hole 55 million (light) years ago:
“We have seen the gates of hell at the end of space and time,” said astrophysicist Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, at a press conference in Brussels. “What you’re looking at is a ring of fire created by the deformation of space-time. Light goes around, and looks like a circle.”
The images — of a glowing, ring-like structure — show the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy M87, which is around 16 megaparsecs (55 million light years) away and 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. They reveal, in greater detail than ever before, the event horizon — the surface beyond which gravity is so strong that nothing that crosses it, even light, can ever climb back out.  


Black Hole Sun is eerily appropriate today...

In Limbo 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Undercurrents

Going Down,

Imperial decline update from Moon of Alabama":
A U.S. made fighter jet that is claimed to evade radar, finally evades radar:
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force says an F35A fighter jet disappeared from radar over the sea off Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, at around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Japan Time.
ASDF officials said the aircraft took off from Misawa air base at around 7:00 p.m., and disappeared at a point about 135 kilometers east of Misawa City...
The F-35 may have some good electronics but is not a good plane to fly against any competent competitor. The Marine version which can take off and land vertically, is a remake of the Soviet Yakovlev 141 which first flew in 1989 (vid). The derived Air Force and Navy versions do not have the vertical take off and landing capabilities, but inherited the disadvantages the basic design brings with it. The F-35's stealth does not workagainst modern radar:
[T]o shoot down F-35 one has to have two different bands radar, good sensor-fusion algorithms and decent signal processing protocols and voila'. S-300 PMU2 Favorit can do this, certainly S-400, and its inevitably coming iterations for which there is literally a line of customers, can. In general, this whole BS about "stealth" should end at some point of time--it was a good propaganda while it lasted. Reality is, with modern processing power and radar design F-35 is not survivable against modern cutting edge air-defense and air-forces.
The Turkish President Erdogan knows this. That is why he is not deterred by U.S. threats to not sell F-35s to him while he buys Russian air defense systems. He just flew to Moscow to discuss futher purchases which will likely include a Russian designed fighter:
The two sides must "strengthen cooperation in the military-technical sphere," Putin told Erdogan as they met in the Kremlin. "These regard first of all the completion of the contract to supply S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey," he said. "There are other promising projects on the agenda related to the supply of modern Russian military products to Turkey," Putin added...
The US military is showing signs of being unable to create effective advanced military equipment: as with the F-35, which basically can’t fly. It is showing signs of intense incompetence, as when it let multiple planes be destroyed on the ground by a hurricane rather than, uh, fly them out or get them under effective cover...
The "stealth" DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyers were supposed to support ground troops with their long range guns. Built at $4 billion a piece the ships are now losing their guns because the ammunition turned out to be too expensive to buy. Before that they lost much of their stealth capabilities because some necessary communication equipment was left out of the original design. The ships new task will be that of a missile launch platform, a job that any commercial ship, carrying containerized Russian missiles (vid), can likewise fulfill...
The US is a gold flecked garbage heap slowly rolling towards the ocean. On fire.
There is a lot of ruin in a nation, but for almost 40 years now America’s elites have treated the US as something to loot, and assumed that the good times would keep rolling. They were uninterested in actually governing. They were happy to move much of America’s core manufacturing overseas, to the most likely nation to replace America as a hegemon, because the Chinese were smart enough to make American elites rich.

They found some debris from that F-35, but no remains yet...

Make no mistake, citing the Monroe Doctrine is little more than a plausible excuse to get rid of the Venezuelan government, which is legitimate, like it or not. The recent electrical blackouts in the country are only the visible signs of an aggressive campaign to destroy the Venezuelan economy. The United States is engaging in economic warfare against Caracas, just as it is doing against Tehran, and it is past time that it should be challenged by the international community over its behavior. Guns may not be firing but covert cyberwarfare is total warfare nevertheless, intended to starve people and increase their suffering in order to bring about economic collapse and take down a government to change it into something more amenable to American interests.  

Bibi is expected to be PM of Israel after votes are counted, not appearing in court as defendant...
We noted Monday that just hours after President Trump formally designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, Iran's foreign ministry responded in kind, immediately put forward a bill placing US Central Command on a list of organizations designated as terrorists, akin to Daesh.
A number of analysts were quick to point out how this sets the stage for further unnecessary tit-for-tat escalation inevitably making things messier for US forces in the Middle East, and significantly increases the changes of direct war. Soon after the White House's IRGC designation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Trump in a tweet, the Hebrew version of which bragged it was all the prime minister's idea.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-09/eve-election-netanyahu-boasts-trump-designated-irans-guards-his-request  

"It belongs to the people, not the bankers", Italy moves to seize gold from Italian central bank. 

Italian populist politicians may see the writing on the bathroom walls of the "gnomes of Zurich"... 
According to Basel-III rules, gold is money again​. ​(Thanks Bill for unreadable article in machine-translated Russian to prompt finding this other article).
In 2018, central banks added nearly 23 million ounces of gold, up 74% from 2017. This is the highest annual purchase rate increase since 1971, and the second-highest rate in history. Russia was the biggest buyer. And not surprisingly, the lion’s share of gold is flowing into central banks of countries that are in the sights of America’s killing machine—the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us about in 1958.  
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), located in Basal, Switzerland, is often referred to as the central bankers’ bank. Related to this issue of central bank hoarding of gold is the fact that on March 29 the BIS will permit central banks to count the physical gold it holds (marked to market) as a reserve asset just the same as it allows cash and sovereign debt instruments to be counted. 
There has been a long-term view that China and other nations dishoarding dollars in favor of gold have been quite happy about western banks trashing the gold price through the synthetic paper markets. But one has to wonder if that might not change, once physical gold is marked to market for the sake of enlarging bank balance sheets.  

Charles Hugh Smith has a thumbnail strategic sketch of Brexit:
In sum: Britain's participation in the EU was always contingent, and despite the continental urge to punish Brexit, Britain's exit doesn't really damage the balance of power. In terms of balancing land-based power, U.S. and NATO engagement with the Eastern European nations is far more consequential to continental Europe than Brexit.
In addition to geography, there's democracy and the asymmetry of the neoliberal economic order. Not to put too fine a point on it, but democracy only works for the political and financial elites as long as the people vote as they're told.
Once democracy becomes a source of resistance to the Power Elites, then elections that go counter to ruling-elite wishes must be declared illegitimate or reversed. (Hence the Power Elite's furious battle to delegitimize Brexit and Trump's election. Little wonder that the infamously bogus Steele Dossier was concocted by MI6 operatives.)
In other words, democracy is only acceptable if the voters rubberstamp the ruling elites' centralized control of capital and power.
The last mechanism clanking away beneath the surface of Brexit is the hollowing out of economies ruled by centralized neoliberal (i.e. globalized) elites. High Street (Main Street in America) is simply not profitable to financial elites, and neither is a decentralized economy that serves localized needs rather than centralized profit centers.
So the economic and social fabric of the nation is ground down to dust in favor of Amazon, Wal-Mart, a handful of banks in London and New York and regulatory satraps in the central state who protect and serve the financial elites and their political and Deep State partners.
 
EU leaders will decide at the talks on Wednesday night whether to grant an extension to article 50 at all but are most likely to offer a longer delay of up to a year involving strict conditions forcing the UK into “sincere cooperation” with the rest of the bloc...  To avoid EU elections, May would probably have to pass her deal by 12 April and have all the necessary legislation pushed through parliament by the day of the polls on 23 May. If no extension is granted and no withdrawal agreement passed, the UK will leave the EU without a deal on Friday.​..​May has already asked for an extension to article 50, but a cross-party bill making her legally bound to seek a delay to prevent a no-deal Brexit cleared parliament on Monday. The government has now tabled an amendable motion for debate on Tuesday saying it will seek a delay to Brexit until 30 June.  

 The Global Empire is  beating up Chelsea Manning again, for not ratting out Julian Assange...
 This time, she’s been thrown behind bars for an indeterminate period of incarceration because she refused to testify before the Wikileaks grand jury. And to make matters worse, she was reportedly held in solitary confinement (or, as sheriff Dana Lawhorne called it, “administrative segregation”) until April 5.
While the hive media has been all but silent, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at least spoke out in support of Manning last week, calling her jail conditions “torture.”
What Manning is doing, in my view, is heroic for myriad reasons. There is no need to rehash what she—then Private First Class Bradley Manning—did in 2011. You don’t have to like Chelsea to acknowledge that she’s a whistleblower. There’s a legal definition of whistleblowing. It is bringing to light any evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, or threats to the public health or safety. That’s exactly what she did when she downloaded and delivered to Wikileaks thousands of pages of government documents that exposed the real truth about the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most damning of these for the government were the “Collateral Murder” video, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and the Guantanamo files.


Julian Assange awaits his further fate for revealing truths of imperial terrorism. People recognize this injustice.
On Saturday afternoon, England’s Yellow Vests and Brexit supporters flooded the area in support of the WikiLeaks publisher. A few steps away from them, also flying the flag for WikiLeaks, was an out-and-proud communist wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, wheeling around a slogan-adorned cart praising Cuban revolutionaries. It was the first sign that both the far-left and the populist right, despite the gulf of their differences, could stand together in support of a free press. Both leftists and the pro-Brexit right wing crowd chanted “which side are you on” together to the police.  

Here is the first picture of a black hole. Really good weather facilitated the photography. What's that mean?
The massive galaxy, called Messier 87 or M87, is near the Virgo galaxy cluster 55 million light-years from Earth. The supermassive black hole has a mass that is 6.5 billion times that of our sun. For reference, that's larger than the orbit of Neptune, which takes 200 years to make one orbit around the sun.  

Lotta' Nothing