as the heaven is distant from the earth, so is my way distant from
your ways, and your thoughts from my mind.”
Greetings! We thought you may find the following information interesting as well as useful and inspiring.
We are going to be looking at the book of 2 Esdras which can be found in the Apocrapha.
We are going to be spotlighting verses mostly from chapters four and seven. These chapters are similar in content to the book of Job in the Old Testament in that they deal with deep philosophical questions and answers concerning “the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence”, and why suffering.
O Lord, who bearest rule, thou spakest at the beginning, when thou didst plant the earth, and that thyself alone, and commandedst the people, And gavest a body unto Adam without soul, which was the workmanship of thine hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before thee. And thou leadest him into paradise, which thy right hand had planted, before ever the earth came forward. And unto him thou gavest commandment to love thy way: which he transgressed, (^Thou didst lay upon him one commandment of thine; but he trangressed it.) and immediately thou appointedst death in him and in his generations,
Then said I unto him, It were better that we were not at all, than that we should live still in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know wherefore. For it would have been better if the dust itself had not been born, so that the mind might not have been made from it.
I answered then and said, This is my first and last saying, that it had been better not to have given the earth unto Adam: or else, when it was given him, to have restrained him from sinning. For what profit is it for men now in this present time to live in heaviness, and after death to look for punishment?
O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee. 3:4-7, 4:12, (^7:63), 7:46-48
And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer, And said, Thy heart hath gone to far in this world, and thinkest thou to comprehend the way of the most High?
Then said I, Yea, my lord. And he answered me, and said, I am sent to shew thee three ways, and to set forth three similitudes before thee: Whereof if thou canst declare me one, I will shew thee also the way that thou desirest to see, and I shall shew thee from whence the wicked heart cometh.
And I said, Tell on, my lord. Then said he unto me, Go thy way, weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind, or call me again the day that is past.
Then answered I and said, What man is able to do that, that thou shouldest ask such things of me? Ch. 4:1-6
Then answered he me, and said, The more thou searchest, the more thou shalt marvel; for the world hasteth fast to pass away, And cannot comprehend the things that are promised to the righteous in time to come: for this world is full of unrighteousness and infirmities. If therefore that which is sown be not turned upside down, and if the place where the evil is sown pass not away, then cannot it come that is sown with good. 4:26-29
For this reason the Most High has made not one world but two.
He answered me, and said, This present life is not the end where much glory doth abide.
But the day of doom shall be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein corruption is past, Intemperance is at an end, infidelity is cut off, righteousness is grown, and truth is sprung up. (^7:50), 7:42-44
For thou comest far short that thou shouldest be able to love my creature more than I: but I have ofttimes drawn nigh unto thee, and unto it, but never to the unrighteous. (^You have often compared yourself to the unrightousness. Never do so!) 8:47
In both Ezra's and Job's search for answers and in the questioning of God's motives in allowing certain “negative” situations to exist, God answers by posing questions that are almost incomprehensible for the human mind to comprehend let alone answer.
What this does is to show both Ezra and Job and the world the “intellectual” superiority of the “thinking” power of God which far exceeds anything man is able to comprehend.
To question God as far as His “rightousness” is concerned is something beyond the ability of human comprehension.
This does not however mean that God can not and will not reveal mysteries to us if we ask Him and He chooses to do so. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3
Excerpted from Wikipedia
2 Esdras (also called 4 Esdras, Latin Esdras, or Latin Ezra) is the name of an apocalyptic book in many English versions of the Bible Its authorship is ascribed to Ezra. It is reckoned among the apocrypha by Roman Catholics, Protestants, and most Eastern Orthodox Christians.
As with 1 Esdras, there is some confusion about the numbering of this book. The Vulgate of Jerome includes 1, 2, 3 and 4 Esdras. Protestant writers, after the Geneva Bible, called 1 and 2 Esdras of the Vulgate Ezra and Nehemiah, and called 3 and 4 Esdras of the Vulgate 1 and 2 Esdras which became common in English Bibles.
This text is sometimes also known as Apocalypse of Ezra (chapters 3–14 known as the Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra.
The Ethiopian Church considers 4 Ezra to be canonical, written during the Babylonian captivity, and calls it Izra Sutuel (ዕዝራ ሱቱኤል). It was also often cited by the Fathers of the Church.
Wellhausen, Charles, and Gunkelhave shown that the original composition was in Hebrew, which was translated into Greek, and then to Latin, Armenian, Ethiopian and Georgian, but the Hebrew and Greek editions have been lost.
The chapters corresponding to 4 Ezra, i.e. 2 Esdras 3–14, make up the Book of II Izra, aka Izra Sutuel, canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; it was also widely cited by early Fathers of the Church, particularly Ambrose of Milan. It may also be found in many larger English Bibles included as part of the Biblical Apocrypha, as they exist in the King James version, the Revised Standard Version, and the earliest editions of the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible, among others.
The introitus of the traditional Requiem Mass in the Catholic Church is loosely based on 2:34–35.
Most Latin editions of the text have a large lacuna of seventy verses between 7:35 and 7:36 that is missing due to the fact that they trace their common origin to one early manuscript, Codex Sangermanensis I, which was missing an entire page. In 1895 Robert Lubbock Bensly and James published a critical edition restoring the lost verses; it is this edition that is used in the Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate. The restored verses are numbered 7:35 to 7:105, with the former verses 7:36–7:70 renumbered to 7:106–7:140.
1. a b Including the KJB, RSV, NRSV, NEB, REB, and GNB
2. NETBible, Apocalyptic Esdras
3. 4 Ezra is the title used in modern English translations as in Charlesworth's (ISBN 978-0-385-09630-0). See also bibliography there.
4. Stone, Michael Edward (1990). Fourth Ezra; A Commentary on the Book of Fourth Ezra. Hermeneia. Fortress Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-8006-6026-9.
5. For example, it is listed with the apocrypha in the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
15. Biblia Sacra Vulgata, 4th edition, 1994, ISBN 3-438-05303-9.
Any verses marked with an ^ will not be found in the King James Version. They are from the 1895 Robert Lubbock Bensly and James published critical edition.
THE MOST INSIGHTFUL WOMAN IN JESUS' LIFE?
Exclusive: Greg Laurie stresses value of doing whatever we can to glorify God
October 14, 2017
When the Beatles were at the very peak of their popularity, John Lennon made a very controversial statement in an interview with the Evening Standard, a British publication. Picked up by the American press, it caused a lot of people to get very angry at this band from England. Lennon said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now: I don’t know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”
Who’s more popular now? The Beatles have long since broken up, but Jesus is more popular than ever. When a 2013 Time magazine article listed the 100 most significant figures in world history, Jesus was in the No. 1 spot.
Jesus was popular in the first century as well, especially after he raised Lazarus from the dead. The name of Jesus was on everyone’s lips. Wherever he went, crowds of people thronged him.
Matthew 12 says that large crowds gathered to him, so he got into a boat and sat down because the crowd was standing on the beach. In effect, he needed a floating pulpit to get a little distance from the crowd. We read in Luke 12 that so many thousands of people gathered to hear Jesus that they were stepping on each other.
Jesus was very popular. But the same people who were singing his praises later shouted for his crucifixion. That is because they never really understood his real mission.
Even his own hand-picked disciples didn’t fully get it until he died and rose from the dead. But there was one exception. I would like to say it was Peter, James and John, the three Christ would take with him on certain occasions. But it wasn’t. Nor was it any other of the disciples that Jesus handpicked. In fact, it wasn’t a man at all. It was a woman with greater spiritual insight than those who effectively spent every waking hour of their lives with Jesus for some three extended years.
Who was the woman that seemed to get what all the guys missed? Her name was Mary, and she was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. It’s worth noting that every time we read of her, she is at the feet of Jesus. Maybe that’s why she had such great insight.
On one occasion when Jesus showed up at her house with the disciples, Martha was getting a little frustrated because she needed some help in the kitchen. She was frantically making the meal while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha came out and demanded that her sister come help her. But Jesus said to Martha, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42 NIV). Jesus was saying. “Martha, listen. I appreciate the awesome food. But actually Mary is right in being here. She has chosen the one thing that really matters, which actually is better.”
Mary seemed to grasp an essential truth that was largely missed by the others. It was that Jesus had come to die. She had a unique understanding as to who he was and why he came. And because of this, she went on to bring the most incredible, valuable gift she could. Jesus was so moved by her sacrificial act that he commended her and said it would be a memorial that never would be forgotten.
So what did Mary do that so impressed Jesus? Did she deliver an amazing sermon? No. Did she pray an incredible prayer of faith? Actually, no. What she did was not very practical at all, really. You could even say it was somewhat impractical. But it was very heartfelt.
We read about it in John’s gospel: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. … Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair” (John 12: 1, 3 NIV).
There’s a good possibility that this bottle of perfume was a family heirloom. It was valued at $25,000–$30,000. Now, it would make sense if she had put a few drops on his feet. A little goes a long way. But Mary took the whole bottle and poured it on his feet. It was an act of complete devotion and adoration.
Judas Iscariot, a man who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing, instantly calculated how much of a waste it was. But it wasn’t about perfume at all; it was about sacrifice. Mary brought the most valuable possession she owned and gave it to Jesus.
We are living in a time and nation in which a lot of monuments are being torn down. But this is one monument that never will be torn down. It’s memorialized in time by Jesus himself. Jesus said that wherever the gospel is preached, the story of what this woman did would be told. This was a big deal to Jesus, and therefore it should be a big deal to us.
Maybe one of the reasons we don’t see the work of God on quite the same scale as the early church saw it is because these first-century believers had a sense of abandon about them. God would tell Philip go to the desert and wait for further direction, and he would do it. God would tell Peter to take a disabled man by the hand and pull him to his feet, and Peter would go for it. They took risks. They bet the farm on stuff. And God blessed them as a result. They simply were in love with Jesus.
I would rather try and fail in my attempt to bring glory to God than to never try anything at all – and even worse, to criticize others who try.
In Mark’s account of the same story, Jesus said, “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial” (Mark 14:8 NIV). Mary did what she could. And the more we know of what Jesus did for us, the more we will want to do for him.
Nothing is ever wasted when it is done with the right motive for the glory of God. You can’t do everything. But we all can do something. We all need to do what we can, when we can do it.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Discovery — Still Riveting after 70 Years
A. James Rudin
October 6, 2017
For many people, biblical scholarship — with its archaic languages and ancient texts — is boring stuff.
But that’s not true of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered by Bedouin shepherds in 1947 in Judean wilderness caves near Jerusalem. The discovery of the ancient Jewish religious texts 70 years ago created an immediate public sensation and an international tale of secrecy and intrigue rivaling the exploits of two fictional super sleuths: Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon.
Some scholars declared the ancient parchment texts — written mainly in Hebrew or Aramaic 2,100 to 2,300 years ago and wrapped in linen and coated with wax — predicted and validated Christian theological claims about Jesus of Nazareth.
But others questioned the authenticity of the fragile manuscripts. Were they genuine or forgeries, a modern-day hoax?
At the same time, Israelis wanted the scrolls, if they were authentic, to “come home” for permanent viewing in the new Jewish state.
But Israel faced two serious problems in that effort.
During the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, Jordan gained control of the region where the discovery took place, and Israelis were blocked from direct access to the manuscripts. In addition, many Christian professors who had access to the scrolls prevented Jewish scholars from examining the parchments: a case of academic anti-Semitism.
But after seven years of exclusion, a rare opportunity emerged for Israel in June 1954 when this small ad appeared in The Wall Street Journal:
“Biblical Manuscripts dating back to at least 200 BC, are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group. Box F 206, The Wall Street Journal.”
Israeli authorities, eager to purchase the advertised scrolls, knew Mar Samuel, the metropolitan of Jerusalem’s Syrian monastery, had placed the four manuscripts in a New Jersey bank vault. But were those scrolls authentic?
The problem was solved on July 1, 1954 when professor Harry M. Orlinsky of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, using the alias of “Mr. Green,” met Metropolitan Samuel’s representative at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Orlinsky was a superb choice for his secret role. A world-class biblical scholar, “Mr. Green” was instructed to speak as little as possible when he viewed the scrolls that included the biblical book of Isaiah.
Full disclosure: Orlinsky was famous for being delightfully loquacious. Under his expert tutelage, I wrote my rabbinic thesis on “The Transmission of the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll” using photocopies of the scrolls.
“Mr. Green” carefully studied the fragments and became convinced they were genuine. Following the clandestine Waldorf-Astoria meeting, Orlinsky called a special telephone number and spoke a single code word, “L’Hayim” (the Hebrew term, “To Life” used in toasts), to confirm the scrolls’ authenticity.
The Israeli government was able to purchase the four scrolls for $250,000 (the equivalent of about $2.2 million today) through an American middleman. The acquisition dealt a significant blow to the anti-Jewish/anti-Israel political and academic prejudices involving the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The manuscripts examined by “Mr. Green” became a centerpiece display in the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem, a must-see attraction for visitors to Israel.
Since 1947, almost 850 Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered in the Judean wilderness. Thirty percent of the manuscripts comprise biblical books about 1,100 years older than any other existing texts of the Hebrew Bible, the writings Christians call “The Old Testament.”
Another third of the scrolls are Jewish religious texts not included in the Bible, and the final third describes the rules and daily life of a unique community that physically separated itself from the “decadent” Jewish life in Jerusalem and other regions of ancient Israel.
That isolated wilderness society emphasized asceticism and spiritual “purity.” In 68 A.D. the Roman Empire physically destroyed the community, but not before the ancient Jewish group hid hundreds of scrolls in nearby caves. The region’s arid condition helped preserve the manuscripts.
New York University professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, asserts that carbon-14 dating makes clear the ancient texts are pre-Christian. They also do not contain overt or predictive references to Jesus, John the Baptist, or the writers of the Gospels.
However, Schiffman notes, “the scrolls help us to understand the nature … of the Judaism that existed when Christianity came into being. Much of what may have been previously taken to be foreign influence is now understood to stem from Jewish roots.”
Today, the Dead Sea Scrolls are easily viewed on the internet. They shine new light on Jewish life and religious practices during the three centuries before the rise of Christianity and they confirm the basic accuracy of the biblical texts.
The dating of the ancient manuscripts also shatters today’s false Palestinian political claims that Jews are modern “interlopers” or “newcomers” to the Holy Land.
As a devotee of mystery and spy novels, I put “Mr. Green’s” undercover exploits right up there with James Bond and Gabriel Allon.
THE JERUSALEM POST
2017 FEAST OF TABERNACLES CELEBRATION IN JERUSALEM IS PROPHECY FULFILLED
BY TULY WEISZ
OCTOBER 8, 2017 21:39
A general view shows Jewish worshippers taking part in the priestly blessing during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City. (photo credit:REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
According to statistics from the Ministry of Tourism, in 2016 there were an estimated 47,000 Christian tourists in Israel over Sukkot, and that number is expected to be even higher this year. The presence of these Christian pilgrims should be appreciated not just for the economic boost they provide, but because their participation in the “Feast of Tabernacles” plays a significant role in bringing us Jews closer to celebrating Sukkot the way it is described in the books of the prophets.
Sukkot is unique in that the Torah describes both how the holiday was celebrated in the past, as well as a prophetic vision for how it will be observed in the future. The Book of Kings discusses the most magnificent Sukkot in the days of old while the prophet Zechariah describes the future holiday in the end of days. Describing Sukkot festivities separated by millennia, these two passages contain a common theme: the central role of the non-Jew on the Feast of Tabernacles.
A young King Solomon began to fulfill his father David’s desire to build a home for God in the fourth year of his reign, as described in the Book of Kings. Construction of Solomon’s Temple lasted for seven years and concluded in the autumn month of Cheshvan in the 11th year of Solomon’s kingdom. Nevertheless, the king let nearly an entire year pass before dedicating the Temple on Sukkot of the 12th year. Apparently, King Solomon delayed 11 months to wait for the perfect moment and the right holiday.
One explanation behind Solomon’s timing can be culled from the prayer he recited at the dedication ceremony: “Or if a foreigner who is not of Your people Israel comes from a distant land for the sake of Your name… when he comes to pray toward this House, hear in Your heavenly abode and grant all that the foreigner asks You for” (I Kings 8:41-43). From its very inauguration, King Solomon established that the Temple would forever be a “house of prayer for all nations.”
Indeed, there was no more frenetic a holiday in the Temple than Sukkot, when numerous animals were sacrificed, including 70 offerings on behalf of the 70 nations of the world. The central prayers of Sukkot focused on rainfall, a universal need. Water libations were brought in the Temple with great festivity on Sukkot to beseech the Heavens to provide all nations with sustenance and life. Solomon apparently waited to dedicate the Temple on Sukkot, the universal holiday.
The other Biblical passage details a vision for the future Sukkot, and again highlights the role of the gentile. The Hebrew prophet Zechariah describes how non-Jews will flock to Jerusalem in the messianic age: “All who survive of all those nations that came up against Jerusalem shall make a pilgrimage year by year to bow to the King Lord of Hosts and to observe Sukkot” (Zechariah 14:16).
This verse became the inspiration for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to organize a major conference, known as the “Feast of Tabernacles,” which has grown substantially in recent years.
“We are expecting one of our biggest crowds ever at this year’s Feast,” said ICEJ president Dr. Jürgen Bühler.
“Thousands of Christians are once again being drawn here from all over the world by the dynamic worship experience that surrounds this unique biblical festival. But there also is the added attraction of celebrating the 50-year Jubilee of a reunited Jerusalem and this means we are truly in for a banner Feast.”
Unfortunately, some of the Christian visitors will hope to use their time in the Jewish State to engage in harmful missionary activity. The ICEJ does its best to prevent this, warning their guests to refrain from such offensive behavior.
As a sign of the times we are in – the golden age of Jewish-Christian relations – one Christian leader took a strong position in the days leading up to Sukkot, calling for an end to Christian proselytizing aimed at Jews. Tommy Waller, founder of the Christian group HaYovel, which organizes volunteers to tend Israeli vineyards in the harvest season leading up to Sukkot, released a sharply worded video just a few days ago.
“I would like to appeal to my Christian brothers and sisters: Please stop any missionary attempt to take away Jewish identity from those people whom God chose to carry his name.”
For Waller, this move away from missionary activity and toward greater respect for the Jewish people represents a personal shift in his own thinking. When asked by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Chief Rabbi of Har Bracha, “If a Jew were to come to you and ask, what’s better: to be a Jew or a Christian, what would you say to him?” Waller replied, “I would tell him to be a Jew. Although, I didn’t always think that way. At first, all Christians want everyone to be Christian, but this position stems from ignorance.”
Waller represents a new generation of Christian Zionist leaders who reject missionary activity aimed at proselytizing Jews and look to be faithful supporters of the people of Israel in the land of Israel.
We are living in a new age of Jewish-Christian relations. Today, thousands of non-Jews flock to Jerusalem as described in the Bible. Today, Christian leaders publicly renounce the centuries-old doctrine of Christian antisemitism. As such, the Jewish community should recognize these positive developments, which would have been unimaginable at any point in our history.
King Solomon and the prophet Zechariah would surely rejoice if they could see us in Jerusalem this week, as we celebrate in its 50th year of reunification with so many friends. The presence of thousands of non-Jews who have come to Jerusalem for the holiday enables us to come closer to the true fulfillment of Sukkot.
(“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. John 14:6)
Europe's New Official History Erases Christianity, Promotes Islam
by Giulio Meotti
October 18, 2017
"The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing." — The Paris Statement, signed by ten respected European scholars.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière's proposal to introduce Muslim public holidays shows that when it comes to Islam, Europe's official "post-Christian" secularism is simply missing in action.
A few days ago, some of Europe's most important intellectuals -- including British philosopher Roger Scruton, former Polish Education Minister Ryszard Legutko, German scholar Robert Spaemann and Professor Rémi Brague from the Sorbonne in France -- issued "The Paris Statement". In their ambitious statement, they rejected the "false Christendom of universal human rights" and the "utopian, pseudo-religious crusade for a borderless world". Instead, they called for a Europe based on "Christian roots", drawing inspiration from the "Classical tradition" and rejecting multiculturalism:
"The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear — as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook".
In 2007, reflecting on the cultural crisis of the continent, Pope Benedict said that Europe is now "doubting its very identity". In 2017, Europe took a further step: creating a post-Christian pro-Islam identity. Europe's official buildings and exhibitions have indeed been erasing Christianity and welcoming Islam.
One kind of official museum recently opened by the European Parliament, the "House of the European History", costing 56 million euros. The idea was to create a historical narrative of the postwar period around the pro-EU message of unification. The building is a beautiful example of Art Deco in Brussels. As the Dutch scholar Arnold Huijgen wrote, however, the house is culturally "empty":
"The French Revolution seems to be the birthplace of Europe; there is little room for anything that may have preceded it. The Napoleonic Code and the philosophy of Karl Marx receive a prominent place, while slavery and colonialism are highlighted as the darker sides of European culture (...) But the most remarkable thing about the House is that.as far as its account is concerned, it is as if religion does not exist. In fact, it never existed and never impacted the history of the continent (...) No longer is European secularism fighting the Christian religion; it simply ignores every religious aspect in life altogether".
The Brussels bureaucracy even deleted the Catholic roots of its official flag, the twelve stars symbolizing the ideal of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. It was drawn by the French Catholic designer Arséne Heitz, who apparently took his inspiration from the Christian iconography of Virgin Mary. But the European Union's official explanation of the flag makes no mention of these Christian roots.
The European Monetary and Economic Department of the European Commission then ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative coins by eliminating the Christian Saints Cyril and Methonius. There is no mention of Christianity in the 75,000 words of the aborted draft of the European Constitution.
The European Commission ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative coins by eliminating the Christian Saints Cyril and Methonius. (Image sources: Coin - European Commission; Bratislava, Slovakia - Frettie/Wikimedia Commons)
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, of Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Party, recently suggested introducing Muslim public holidays. "In places where there are many Muslims, why can't we think about introducing a Muslim public holiday?", he said.
"The submission is moving ahead," replied Erika Steinbach, the influential former chair of the Federation of Expellees -- Germans expelled from various Eastern European countries during and after World War II.
Beatrix von Storch, a leading politician from Alternative for Germany Party (AfD), just tweeted: "NO! NO! NO!".
De Maizière's proposal shows that when it comes to Islam, Europe's official "post-Christian" secularism is simply missing in action.
A few weeks ago, a European Union-funded exhibition, "Islam, It's also our history!", was hosted in Brussels. The exhibition tracks the impact of Islam in Europe. An official statement claims:
"The historical evidence displayed by the exhibition – the reality of an old-age Muslim presence in Europe and the complex interplay of two civilisations that fought against each other but also interpenetrated each other – underpins an educational and political endeavour: helping European Muslims and non Muslims alike to better grasp their common cultural roots and cultivate their shared citizenship".
Isabelle Benoit, a historian who helped design the exhibition, told AP: "We want to make clear to Europeans that Islam is part of European civilisation and that it isn't a recent import but has roots going back 13 centuries".
The official European establishment has turned its back on Christianity. The establishment appear unaware of the extent to which the continent and its people still depend on the moral guidance of its humanitarian values, especially at a time when radical Islam has launched a civilization challenge to the West. "It is simply a problem of a packing that tends to fill a 'void'", just wrote Ernesto Galli della Loggia in the Italian daily newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.
"It is impossible to ignore that behind the packing are two great theological and political traditions -- that of the Russian Orthodoxy and Islam -- while behind the 'void' there is only the fading of the Christian consciousness of the European West".
That is why it is hard to understand the "logic" behind the official European animosity toward Christianity and its attraction to a basically totalitarian Islam. Europe could easily be secular without being militantly anti-Christian. It is easier to understand why thousands of Poles just took part in a mass protest along Poland's borders to voice their opposition to "secularization and Islam's influence", which is exactly the same as the official crazy EU credo.
During the Second World War, the Allies avoided bombing Brussels, because it was to be the site of European rebirth. If the European elite continue with this cultural repudiation of their Judeo-Christian-Humanistic culture, the city could be its grave.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
Satanic Looking Drag Queen with Horns Reads to Little Kids at Michelle Obama Public Library in Long Beach
October 16, 2017 by Kristinn Taylor
The Michelle Obama Public Library in Long Beach, California hosted a satanic looking drag queen on Saturday who read books to young children as part of the library’s celebration LGBTQ History Month.
The shocking photo of a man dressed as a female demon with giant horns on his head reading to little children at a public library was posted to Twitter and Facebook by the Long Beach Library but taken down after a huge outpouring of critical replies, including from GOP Congressional candidate Omar Navarro. It also got the approval of the Church of Satan.
From this promotional graphic posted by the City of Long Beach one can see the targeted audience was very young children.
Xochi Mochi, the drag queen who dressed as a demon, posted the same photo to his Instagram account and commented on Twitter about the event. His Twitter bio reads, “Attention Earthlings: This is Xochi Mochi your resident killer Klown from outer space. I dress up in drags and love tacos.”
The description of the event from the Long Beach Public Library calendar of events.
Location: Michelle Obama Library Date: 10/14/2017 Time: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Join us for a celebration of LGBTQ History Month! All ages welcome! Celebration will include: Drag Queen Story Hour featuring Xochi Mochi at 12pm, a community art hour at 1pm and an LGBTQ History Timeline Workshop starting at 2pm. Brought to you by a collaboration between the Long Beach Public Library, The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, the GSA Network and The Imperial Court of Long Beach.
The Church of Satan gave their approval via their blue check mark Twitter account with a “Hail Satan!”
Republican Congressional candidate Omar Navarro, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters, said about the reading, “What are we teaching kids in school? Demonic teachings alive in Long Beach. I’m outraged they would allow this.”
Fmr. Manager of DOD Aerospace Threat Program: “UFOs are Real”
Leslie Kean, Contributor
Investigative Journalist and Author
Something extraordinary was revealed today. Former high-level officials and scientists with deep black experience who have always remained in the shadows came forward on one platform. These insiders have long-standing connections to government agencies which may have programs investigating unidentifed aerial phenomena (UAP/UFOs). The team includes a 25-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, a Lockheed Martin Program Director for Advanced Systems at “Skunk Works”, and a former deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Today marked the official launch of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTS/AAS) an innovative Public Benefit Corporation which will advance research into unexplained phenomena and develop related technology. It has established three synergistic divisions: Science, Areospace, and Entertainment. “We believe there are discoveries within our reach that will revolutionize the human experience,” says company President and CEO Tom DeLonge. Please see my previous story,- released yesterday - for background on today’s announcement which was live-streamed and is archived on the company website.
According to a TTS /AAS statement, it’s team members who have been “operating under the shadows of top-secrecy for decades” believe that “there is sufficient credible evidence of UAP that proves exotic technologies exist that could revolutionize the human experience.”
This could represent the beginning of a trend towards a new openness on the part of the U.S. government. These people know more than any of us, and they will be releasing important data on UAP in the future. As an investgative reporter with a long standing interest in this subject, who has worked with a few Academy team members in the past, I was shown some of this data at a meeting with them on Oct 4.
Present for that four hour meeting was Luis Eiizondo, who ran an important program at the DOD. Elizondo is a senior career intelligence officer whose experience includes working with the U.S. Army, the Dept of Defense, the National Counterintelligence Executive, and the Director of National Intelligence. He served as the Director for the National Programs Special Management Staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is also the former Director of Programs to investigate Unidentified Aerial Threats for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“Lue will architect partnerships with some very sensitive places, to help protect us and the technology involved, so we may achieve for you the extraordinary,” DeLonge said at today’s event.
Lue had resigned his position at the DOD literally the day before we met. I was able to verify who he was and what his tasks were at the Pentagon. He received the highest commendatons from his superiors. I was told that important unclassified data and documentation are expected to be released through the Academy’s on-line Community of Interest (COI) in collaboration with the US government, which will be set up soon.
I asked him if these unidentified objects were considered to be threats. “They did not exhibit overt hostility,” he said. “But something unexplained is always assumed to be a potential threat until we are certain it isn’t. On the bright side, I believe we are closer than ever before in our understanding of how it operates,” he told me.
At the event today, Elizondo explained his work this way: “I am accustomed to being involved in close-hold, nuanced programs involving national security. This includes being a Counterintelligence Special Agent, a case officer, and intelligence practitioner. However, by far the most interesting effort I was involved with was the topic of Advanced Aerial Threats.”
He stated that he ran “a sensitive aerospace threat identification program focusing on unidentified aerial technologies.” His job at TTS/AAS will be “to work as a liaison and interlocutor in the collection of this information for the Science division, allowing us to collect facts for analysis.” How will this be done? One way is through the COI, which will “provide a platform for the detection and triangulation of phenomena events in real time, and allows two-way communication between the public and our team regarding this information.”
As a result of his position managing the DOD program for almost a decade, Lue said “I learned that the phenomena is indeed real.”
In short, less that two weeks after leaving the Pentagon, Luis Elizondo confirmed that UFOs are a real; they exist, and they have been officially documented. Can anyone argue with this fact now, given where this man comes from and what he knows?
A former high ranking DOD official - who only left his position last week - has confirmed that an official UFO Program exists, answering a question so many have debated and speculated about for decades.
It is very important to understand that Lue does not speak for the DOD, since he is no longer employed there; he speaks independently as part of the TTS Academy.
Lue also stated: “We are also planning to provide never before released footage from real US Government systems...not blurry, amateur photos, but real data and real videos.” And even more significant: “We are inviting our Government colleagues and friends in Defense to participate regularly with their own findings.”
Another member of the team, Stephen Justice, an experienced aerospace engineer, explained that he will use scientific disoveries about the travel of UAP through space, demonstrating almost unimaginable technology, to develop technology that can change the world. Steve recently retired as a Program Director for Advanced Systems at Lockheed Martin after a thirty-one year career in the Skunk Works. “How dare we think that the physics we have today is all that there is,” he told me in an interview a few days ago. The opportunity here, as he sees it, is to “stand in the future and look back.””
Steve’s objective is to harvest this advanced technology to build a vehicle that will allow for almost instantaneous travel through land, air, oceans and space, by engineering the fabric of space-time. Such a vehicle could also float, like something from science fiction. Steve says we have had glimpses of the science that could make this possible. It is not outside the realm of possibiity, if the necessary resources are in place.
TTS Academy member Chris Mellon served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence for two administrations, and early in his career drafted the legislation that established the US Special Operations Command at a time when terrorism was not yet on the radar. He presented an overview of a 2004 incident involving the battleship USS Nimitz which was detected on two separate radars.
“Two F-18s approach, the four aviators see that the object has no wings or exhaust — it is white, oblong, some 40 ft long and perhaps 12 ft thick”, he said. “One pilot pursues the craft while his wingman stays high. The pilots are astonished to see the object suddenly reorient itself toward the approaching F-18. In a series of discrete tumbling maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics, the object takes a position directly behind the approaching F-18.”
The lengthy event occurred in broad daylight off the California coast, and gun camera footage was taken. At one point the object went from hovering at 80,000 feet to dropping at supersonic speeds, and came to a complete stop at 50 feet above the ocean. “More F-18’s are dispatched but with similar results,” Mellon stated. “The secret machine easily evades the F-18s. Dozens of military personnel aboard the various planes and ships involved are privy to these interactions.”
Tom DeLonge’s final message today sums up the position of all involved: “No one person, one government, or one hidden institution should own this information and technology.”
The TTS Academy intends to release game-changing information of the type interested people have been seeking for a long time. “The fact is, we might not necessarily be alone,” Luis Elizondo says. “Now is the time to move forward and try to answer some of life’s deepest mysteries.”
Silicon Valley’s Radical Machine Cult
Oct 11 2017, 3:00pm
From afterlife to machine transcendence, Digitalism offers a new promise of paradise.
We are witnessing the beginning of Silicon Valley institutionalizing its religious beliefs. As Wired reported recently, Anthony Levandowski, a top Silicon Valley engineer formerly working for Google's self-driving car company Waymo and now at the center of the trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. Its goal? To "develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence." According to Wired, Way of the Future was founded in September 2015.
It was on the 20th of that month when, 9,400 miles away in Switzerland, I first became aware that Digitalism had turned into a kind of religion. I participated in a conferencein the French mountain resort of Chamonix underneath the white peak of Montblanc, where leading technologists had gathered to discuss our future. The topic of one panel discussion, featuring executives from Google and eBay and the CEO of a prominent US think tank, was "Technology is turning the world upside down—what's going on?"
As they enthusiastically discussed the many ways digitalization will make the world a better place, I started to experience my own epiphany: Slowly and all at once, I saw that these people were the evangelists of a new religion, true believers invoking the Promised Land with glowing eyes.
In this version of paradise, cars will drive, factories will produce themselves, software and technology will find cures for everything, virtual reality will enable us to live our dreams instantly, and ubiquitous robots will serve us and understand us better than we understand ourselves. A land of milk and honey, where roasted, on-demand chicken flies directly into our mouths, is just around the corner. A new benevolent super-intelligence will solve all the problems we created over the last centuries, from climate change to global poverty, while we enjoy eternal leisure, softly hypnotized by screens, entertained and served by machine slaves.
"The evangelical fervor is fascinating," William Gibson said about Silicon Valley in an interview this year with Das Magazin. "These people are atheists, they don't have a religion, but the mechanism is the same. God comes and saves us all. Just that in their case God is technology."
But I think Gibson was wrong. They do have a religion: Digitalism, or machine religion. Digitalists believe in transcending the human condition, ultimately overcoming death through machines.
Just as Christianity promises ultimate redemption from Original Sin, Digitalism promises redemption from the unavoidable sin of our messy, distracted, limited brains, irrational emotions, and aging bodies.
As Wired founding executive editor Kevin Kelly put it in a 2002 article titled "God is the Machine," Digitalists literally believe in the transcendent power of digital computation. In that sense, Digitalism is linked to the beliefs of transhumanists and similar movements, and thrives on a broader global terrain where traditional religion is in decline (while evangelical movements are on the rise), the internet continues its march across the planet. We're on fertile ground for digitalism.
Risks? Computers will soon be intelligent enough to manage them, so why worry? You might expect even the most radical Digitalists to at least recognize cybersecurity as a potential concern. Despite the premise of the discussion's title, the panel did not utter one word about any risks, for that matter. Nothing.
The longer the panelists talked, the more common traits between Digitalists and the followers of all other religions became apparent. If you don't profess to Digitalism, you will be left behind; you will be part of a miserable, inferior, anachronistic species in a dysfunctional, dirty, analog world soon to be extinct; Hell on earth, in effect. Not an unrealistic scenario, if the so-called Singularity—the moment machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence—becomes reality faster than we could ever imagine, as digital dementia might make humans dumber than Siri is today. However, no need to worry: computers will create opportunities and find purpose for those left behind in the age of digitalization.
At the heart of the Digitalist premise of technology's empowerment is a belief in the inherent incompleteness of humans. Just as Christianity promises ultimate redemption from Original Sin, Digitalism promises redemption from the unavoidable sin of our messy, distracted, limited brains, irrational emotions, and aging bodies. Digital redemption will come upon us in the form of super-intelligent machine intervention, chips to implant in our brains and hard disks to upload our consciousness to (or so goes the vision of Google's prophet, futurist Ray Kurzweil). While traditional religions believe in the immortal soul, Digitalists believe in the immortality of the lines of code they aim to reduce our mind and consciousness to.
Digitalism claims to provide a set of final answers to all of humanity's problems and promises to bring paradise. Their belief is driven by deep contempt for humans, for humanity. The Digitalist religious vision is to remove the human factor altogether.
Christopher Mims, in a January piece about cybersecurity for the Wall Street Journal, articulated this when he wrote of humans as the "critical, unpatchable weakness." "History has shown us we aren't going to win this war by changing human behavior," Mims concluded. "But maybe we can build systems that are so locked down that humans lose the ability to make dumb mistakes. Until we gain the ability to upgrade the human brain, it's the only way."
The rejection of what Digitalists call "the human factor" combined with the dream of a God-like, perfect machine-power makes them, fundamentally, post-humanists with a more shiny, civilized façade. A darker reading might find a parallel in other contemporary fundamentalist forces. As André Glucksmann, a contemporary French philosopher, has brilliantly described in his book Dostoievski in Manhattan, the driver of what today has become ISIS is the negation and destruction of all human values—a violent, barbarian, belligerent version of post-humanism. Digitalists would readily annihilate what to their eyes is human imperfection altogether, if only they could become a machine themselves first.
Like many post-humanists, Digitalists believe we are enjoying (or suffering through) the last days of homo sapiens as we know them. If not something like a continuously-extended life, then the fusion of humankind and machine into a new super-species may be close at hand. The turning point, the return of the Messiahs, is just some 20 or so years away. According to the high-priests of the Singularity, for instance, a God-like super-intelligence will arise, the Christ of the golden machine age.
Silicon Valley, with its CEO-worship and male-oriented customs, can sometimes feel like another version of a religious state. The belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception, the myth standing at the beginning of the arrival of Christ, is not so far from the equally unexplainable mystical Digitalist belief that consciousness will soon be born out of a machine if it just processes enough 0s and 1s.
Part of this belief is the superstition that, perhaps, the universe—God herself—is a computer. Reality itself may be a simulation. By this account, if we evolve our computational power enough, we will become one with God—the ultimate yearning of all religions.
In modern times, Kelly's 2002 article, a survey of Matrix-like, variously murky scientific theories of "universal computation," appears to be one of the first that uses the term. "Somehow, according to digitalism, we are linked to one another, all beings alive and inert, because we share, as [theoretical physicist] John Wheeler said, 'at the bottom—at a very deep bottom, in most instances—an immaterial source,'" Kelly wrote. "This commonality, spoken of by mystics of many beliefs in different terms, also has a scientific name: computation. Bits—minute logical atoms, spiritual in form—amass into quantum quarks and gravity waves, raw thoughts and rapid motions."
There is, in a sense, one marked difference between digitalism and modern religion: the Digitalists, in their scientistic emphasis, believe that they aren't believers.
"We only talk about facts", said one of the panel members when the audience challenged the panel's visions.
If God punishes in the form of a misfortune, fanatical believers of all religions assume they have not been religious enough. For the panel in Chamonix, any problem that technology might create is, therefore, easy to solve—with more of the same. God is just testing your faith; you need to intensify your belief. The Digitalist vision calls for solving the problems computation brings with more computation, less error-prone human interference, a society on AI-guided autopilot. Two-hundred years after Kant, humans will finally be able to stop using their imperfect brains and searching for answers so the future can finally arrive.
In Chamonix, as an epilogue to their mass—it was truly surreal—they played "Imagine" by John Lennon. It strangely sounded as if they had found an ideal anthem:
Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.
Yes, thank you Airbnb and Uber.
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.
This is happening, just check your Terms and Conditions.
And the world will live as one.
As in, one brain-linked social network of the future, connecting us all into one superhuman supercomputer. (Should we call it "the Matrix"?).
It sounds like a paraphrase of Facebook's complex and convenient new mission: To "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together," as Mark Zuckerberg told a crowd of Facebook Group leaders earlier this year. If we believe it's good for us, and join the flocks and go along with it, well, we too can live in the Promised Land. As the logic of social media demonstrates, the story we tell ourselves about the future doesn't need to be true. It just needs to be shareable.
In the rush of the stream, it can be hard to remember that these visions of the future often tend to turn out very different from what their creators had envisioned. Think of fake news or the Uber culture or the walled gardens of tech giants; part of the problem, as Salon put it recently, is a CEO-worship problem—powerful priests offering narratives of biblical dimension.
However, in order to get to their Promised Land, anything that doesn't fit into the brave new machine-world must first be cut to size in the Digitalists' bed of Procrustes, the world of 0s and 1s, streamlining all life into dead and sterile bits and bites.
Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try.
Wolfram Klingler is Founder and CEO of Switzerland based XTP Group. He is also Founder of credX. Both businesses increase transparency and cost efficiency in the financial services sector using a proprietary technology driven approach with the goal of supporting institutional investors in safeguarding their interests.
Rothschild: Donald Trump is threatening to destroy the New World Order
October 08, 2017
The Rothschilds have used their globalist media mouthpiece to declare that Donald Trump is threatening to destroy the New World Order, for good.Globalism propaganda tool and Rothschild family-owned publication, The Economist has branded the US President a “present danger” to the “New World Order,” and stated that the “internationalists” that formed it are “spinning in their graves.
“The Economist names Trump is the biggest threat to the “liberal” New World Order above other legitimate threats such as jihadism and terrorism, Communist Chinese expansion, and North Korean hostility.”
Perhaps the greatest danger at present is the incumbency of an American president who despises international norms, who disparages free trade and who continually flirts with abandoning America’s essential role in maintaining the global legal order,” writes The Economist.
Infowars reports: The globalist outlet refers to a book titled “The Internationalists,” to explain the origins of the “liberal international order” as a move to “make the waging of aggressive war illegal,” which is why it must be “defended like never before.”
“The rules-based international order that emerged from the wreckage of the second world war was a huge improvement on any preceding era,” states the article. “Yet liberal internationalism is now under attack from many sides. Donald Trump’s America First doctrine explicitly repudiates it.”The Economist describes how the Trump administration views the world stage, citing a piece written by two of Trump’s advisors in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“The world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, non-governmental actors, and businesses engage and compete for advantage,”
H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn wrote. “We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.”
FARS NEWS AGENCY
Russia Ready to Give Crushing Response to Israeli Air Attacks on Syria
October 14, 2017
TEHRAN (FNA)- Russia has deployed more S300 and S400 anti-aircraft systems in Syria to defend the country's airspace against any aggressions, including Israeli air raids on the war-hit country, Russian media outlet reported Saturday.
The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, reported that the modern Russia-made S300 and S400 anti-aircraft systems with a tracking range of 300 km and 400 km respectively have been deployed in the town of Masyaf Southwest of Hama.
The Arabic Sputnik quoted some experts as saying that Russia's move to deploy the modern anti-aircraft systems is aimed at giving a crushing response to repeated air raids on Syria's Masyaf by Tel Aviv, including the one in September 7, 2017.
The General Command of the Syrian Army announced in a statement in easrly September that the Israeli warplane's airstrikes on army positions in the Western parts of Hama city killed 2 Syrian soldiers.
The statement said that the Israeli fighter jet launched missile attacks on one of the Syrian army bases near Masyaf region in Southwestern Hama through the Lebanese airspace, killing two Syrian soldiers.
It added that the attack was a desperate attempt to heighten the lost morale of the ISIL terrorists after the Syrian army's major victories against the terrorism in several regions.
SPAIN ACTIVATES “NUCLEAR OPTION”: WILL SEIZE CONTROL OF CATALAN GOVERNMENT, FORCE NEW ELECTIONS
This is the first time in the modern democratic period that a central government has suspended home rule in one of Spain’s 17 regions
October 21, 2017
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked lawmakers to grant him unprecedented powers to force leaders of the Catalonia region to cease their independence push, a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Spain and the separatist region, which the WSJ – and virtually everyone else – has said will be a major test for Spanish democracy.
According to The Spain Report, this is the first time in the modern democratic period that a central government has suspended home rule in one of Spain’s 17 regions.
Rajoy announced that his central government would use Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to remove the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and sack the entire Catalan regional government as part of a barrage of actions, and force new elections on the region within six months. Summoning the sweeping powers of Article 155, Rajoy said Saturday, was a last resort.
Puigdemont and his regional administration will be removed from office once the Spanish Senate approves the government’s plan as soon as this week and Spanish government ministers will take over the management of the Catalan administration, Rajoy said according to Bloomberg. The responsibilities of the Catalan government will be administered in the interim period by central government ministries. Furthermore, the Catalan Parliament will not be allowed to present a new candidate for First Minister, to prevent Puigdemont from being reappointed.
Rajoy said “This is not a suspension of home rule but the dismissal of those who lead the regional government”. The Spanish Senate will be in charge of controlling the process. As a result, Rajoy said Spain’s central government would temporarily control Catalonia’s regional ministries until new elections are called. The prime minister said he is seeking to convene regional elections within six months.
“The First Minister of the Catalan government was invited to parliament and he did not accept”, said Mr. Rajoy, in a long press conference following an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Saturday, adding that Catalan leaders had tried to “impose” their will on the central government.
“We are going to work to return to normality,” Rajoy said, as car horns sounded in downtown Madrid. “We are going to work so that all Catalans can feel united and participate in a common project in Europe and the world that has been know for centuries as Spain.”
Rajoy also said that “the economic recovery is under an obvious threat because of Catalonia,” during the Madrid press conference, and said that “this is about peoples lives, jobs, salaries” as “Companies are fleeing” and “data on tourism is also worrisome, the tensions are deterring visitors.”
The “most anti-democratic part” of the past few weeks was “what happened in the Catalan Parliament on September 6 and 7”. “Dialogue is a lovely word”, said the PM, but “Dialogue does not mean the others have to accept your demands”. “Dialogue outside of the law is deeply undemocratic”.
Rajoy said there were four aims of applying Article 155 in Catalonia:
to return to the rule of law,
to get back to normality and “coexistence”,
to continue with the economic recovery, and
to hold elections in a situation of normality.
He said the six-month period before elections was the maximum period of time he would like to see pass before a new vote. The PM also said the Article 155 can now only be stopped “if the Senate does not approve it”, which however won’t happen as the governing Popular Party holds an absolute majority in the Spanish Senate.
Rajoy thanked two opposition parties, the Socialists and Ciudadanos, for their support for the measures, and said that Saturday’s announced measures had been hammered out in recent days with leaders from two of the main oppositions parties, a sign of the widespread political support for the prime minister’s bid to halt Catalan authorities’ accelerating steps to secede from Spain.
As Bloomberg notes, the move may be “a watershed moment for Spain and its 1.1 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) economy, which counts on Catalonia for a fifth of its output.” Hundreds of companies have already set up headquarters elsewhere in the country to avoid a legal limbo that emerged after Catalan leaders on Oct. 10 claimed the right to an independent republic.
And now that Spain has ended the game of cat and mouse, and effectively pulled the plug on Catalan independence, with the central government’s measure due to come into force within days Catalan leaders are due to meet Monday to discuss whether to push ahead with a unilateral declaration of independence. With Madrid having taken the first step, Puigdemont now has the liberty of playing the “oppression” card, even if Spain explicitly stated it is not suspending Catalan autonomy, so the semantical war of words will continue, although for the separatist movement the time has now come to either officially declare independence or end the process.
The question is what happens should the Catalan leaders follow through and declare Catalonia is independent, forcing retaliation, perhaps violent, from Spain. The answer will be unveiled shortly: the Catalan President will make a statement at 9pm according to a spokesman, and Puigdemont also attend a demonstration in downtown Barcelona at 5 p.m.
The House of Saud bows to the House of Putin
Saudi Arabia pivots to Russia, the new sheriff in town
By: Pepe Escobar
October 09, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow on October 5, 2017. Photo: Sputnik via Reuters
What a difference a year – an eternity in geopolitics – makes. No one could see this coming; the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadi terror – which Russia fights no holds barred, from ISIS/Daesh to the Caucasus Emirate – beating a path to the Kremlin and about to embrace Russia as a strategic ally.
The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.
Now, losing all its battles from Syria to Yemen, losing regional influence to both Iran and Turkey, indebted, vulnerable and paranoid, the House of Saud has also to confront the ghost of a possible coup in Riyadh against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as Asia Times reported. Under so much pressure, who’re you gonna call?
The ultimate ghostbuster; Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Essentially, the House of Saud is obsessed by three main vectors; low oil prices; Iran and Shi’ism; and what to make of US foreign policy under Trump. Let’s take them one by one.
I want my S-400s
As much as a Moscow-Washington reset remains doomed, even with the implosion of Russia-Gate, House of Saud advisers must have known that the Kremlin won’t ditch its strategic relationship with Iran – one of the key nodes of Eurasia integration.
Moscow will keep aligned with Iran across “Syraq”; that’s part of the “4+1” (Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq, plus Hezbollah) alliance in the Levant/Mesopotamia, an incontrovertible (and winning) fact on the ground. And that does not preclude Russia’s increasingly cozy relationships across the Arab world – as with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Libya.
What concerns Moscow, deeply, is Saudi (formal or informal) financing of Salafi-jihadi outfits inside Russia. So a high-level line of communication between Moscow and Riyadh works towards dissipating any misunderstandings regarding, for instance, jihadism in Tatarstan and Chechnya.
Moscow does not buy the much-spun (in the West) Iranian “aggressive behavior” in the Middle East. As a key negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Russia very well knows that Iran’s ballistic missile program is actually the key target of Trump’s imminent decertification of the Iran deal.
These missiles actually represent dissuasion against any possible US attack, “leading from behind” or not. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) in Tehran has made it quite clear the ballistic missile program does not fall into the JCPOA, and will remain active.
Enter the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Saudis and Rosoboronexport (Russia’s state body for exporting military hardware) signed in Moscow for the purchase of the S-400 missile system; the Kornet-EM system; the TOS-1A; the AGS-30; and last but not least the new Kalashnikov AK-103.
The S-400 success story is unequivocal. Iran bought it. Turkey bought it. Now Saudi Arabia buys it – even after splurging a fortune in US weapons during Trump’s by now infamous “sword dance” visit to Riyadh.
So no wonder, after the S-400 news, the US State Department like clockwork approved the possible – that’s the operative word – $15 billion sale of 44 THAAD launchers and 360 missiles to Saudi Arabia, a very good business for Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
The Pentagon’s defense security cooperation agency said, “this sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats.” Cynics already envisage a battle of Iranian S-400s and Saudi THAADs “moderated” by Saudi S-400s.
We are the new OPEC
King Salman may have boarded the Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, but the real architect of the pivot to Russia is MBS. Oil in Saudi Arabia accounts for 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of exports. MBS is betting all his cards on the Vision 2030 program to “modernize” the Saudi economy, and he knows very well it will be impossible to pull off if oil prices are low.
At the Russia Energy Week forum in Moscow, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Aramco IPO – a key driver of funds to Vision 2030 – will happen in the second half of 2018, contradicting Saudi officials who earlier stated the IPO was once again postponed to 2019. And no one can tell whether it will take place in the NYSE or not.
Meanwhile, the priority remains the OPEC / non-OPEC deal (with Russia at the forefront) to “stabilize” oil prices, clinched in November 2016 to cut production. President Putin tentatively agreed the deal could be extended beyond March 2018, something to be discussed in detail at the next OPEC meeting in Vienna in late November.
The deal may certainly be seen as a purely strategic/economic measure to stabilize the oil market – with no geopolitical overtones. And yet OPEC is geared to become a brand new animal – with Russia and Saudi Arabia de facto deciding where the global oil markets go, and then telling the other OPEC players. It’s open to question what Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, among others, will have to say about this. The barely disguised aim is to bring oil prices up to a band of $60-75 a barrel by the middle of next year. Certainly a good deal for the Aramco IPO.
There were a rash of other deals clinched in Moscow – such as Aramco and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) $1 billion fund for oil-services projects in Russia, plus another $1 billion for a technology fund.
This synergy implies Saudi Arabia investing in top Russian energy assets and Russia, for instance, supplying gas to the Saudi petrochemical industry and reducing drilling/production costs. Certainly a good deal for Vision 2030.
The new sheriff in town
To say that the Saudi pivot to Russia is rattling nerves across the Beltway is an understatement. The CIA is not exactly fond of MBS. 9/11-related puzzles are bound to resurface.
What’s also clear is that the House of Saud has realized it cannot be left to watching camels as the great Eurasia integration caravan picks up speed. Russia has pipelines crisscrossing most of Eurasia. China is building rail lines connecting all of Eurasia. And we haven’t even touched specific Saudi-Chinese projects part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Those were the days of King Abdulaziz and FDR aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal forging a strategic partnership; the days of Washington leading Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, drive down prices and weaken the USSR; the days of the Afghan jihad. Now there’s no US dependence on House of Saud oil anymore. And jihadist blowback is the name of the security game.
It may be too early to identify the Saudi pivot to Russia as the shift of the century. It is though a certified game-changer. Moscow is about to become the new sheriff in town, in virtually any town across Southwest Asia. And it’s getting there on its own terms, without resorting to a Colt dialectic. MBS wants energy/defense cooperation? He gets it. MBS wants less Russian cooperation with Iran? He doesn’t get it. OPEC aims at higher oil prices? Done. And what about the S-400s? Free – sort of – for all.
Yemen's cholera outbreak now the worst in history as millionth case looms
Experts predict fastest-spreading cholera epidemic since records began will affect at least 1 million people by turn of year, including at least 600,000 children
12 October 2017
A mother sits with her sons while they are treated at a cholera centre in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. The country’s cholera epidemic could reach 1 million cases by the end of the year. Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
The cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with a million cases expected by the end of the year and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected.
The World Health Organization has reported more than 815,000 suspected cases of the disease in Yemen and 2,156 deaths. About 4,000 suspected cases are being reported daily, more than half of which are among children under 18. Children under five account for a quarter of all cases.
The spread of the outbreak, which has quickly surpassed Haiti as the biggest since modern records began in 1949, has been exacerbated by hunger and malnutrition. While there were 815,000 cases of cholera in Haiti between 2010 and 2017, Yemen has exceeded that number in just six months.
Save the Children has warned that, at the current rate of infection, the number of cases will reach seven figures before the turn of the year, 60% of which will be among children. In July, the International Committee of the Red Cross predicted there would be 600,000 suspected cholera cases in the country by the end of the year.
Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s country director for Yemen, said an outbreak of this scale and speed is “what you get when a country is brought to its knees by conflict, when a healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, when its children are starving, and when its people are blocked from getting the medical treatment they need”.
Kirolos said: “There’s no doubt this is a man-made crisis. Cholera only rears its head when there’s a complete and total breakdown in sanitation. All parties to the conflict must take responsibility for the health emergency we find ourselves in.”
More than two years of fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels has crippled the country, causing widespread internal displacement, the collapse of the public health system, and leaving millions on the brink of famine.
The crisis was exacerbated when sanitation workers whose salaries had gone unpaid went on strike. This meant garbage was left on the streets, which was then washed into the water supply. It is estimated that 19.3 million Yemenis – more than two-thirds of the population – do not have access to clean water and sanitation.
The government stopped funding the public health department in 2016, meaning many doctors and hospital staff have not received salaries for more than a year. Healthcare has since been provided mainly by international organisations, the efforts of whom have been hampered by the conflict.
The spread of the disease has nonetheless slowed. At the beginning of the most recent outbreak, in May this year, between 5,000 and 6,000 new cases were detected daily. That rate has since dropped to just under 4,000 a day. The mortality rate has also declined, from 1% at the beginning of the outbreak to 0.26% now.
“Whatever decline we’re seeing now is due to the heroic efforts of workers at the scene,” said Sherin Varkey, the officiating representative of Unicef Yemen.
Varkey said the situation would not be solved until there was peace in the country.
“There are no signals that give us any reason for optimism. We know that both parties to the conflict are continuing with their blatant disregard of the rights of children,” he said. “We’re at a cliff and we’re staring down and it is bottomless. There seems to be no hope.”
Cholera should be easily treatable with oral rehydration salts and access to clean water. But Mariam Aldogani, Save the Children’s health adviser for the city of Hodeidah, said conditions in the country had made this very difficult.
Aldogani said: “All the NGOs are trying to increase the knowledge of how to prevent the disease, because it’s preventable, you have to boil the water. But if you don’t have money to buy gas, and you have to walk a long way to get the wood, how can you boil the water?”
Aldogani, who has been a doctor since 2006, said witnessing the suffering of her patients was deeply painful. “I saw one young man, he had cholera and severe dehydration. He was in a coma and he died in front of his mother. We tried our best, but he came too late and she was crying, and I cried. It makes me angry. When I see a mother lose her baby, especially a stillbirth, she waits for this baby for a long time and then she loses it because of cholera, it makes me so angry.
“The war is a big problem for us, it’s a wound. But with the cholera, you have the wound and you put salt in the wound. It hurts. I hope this war can be stopped. We need peace for the children of Yemen. Our situation before the war was not good, but it was not like this.”
This article was amended on 13 October 2017. A previous version said Mariam Aldogani had been a doctor since 2010, she has been a doctor since 2006 and joined Save the Children in 2010
Many readers likely never heard the name of the remarkable Serbia-born political operator named Srđa Popović.
Yet he and his organization, CANVAS, have played a lead role in most every CIA-backed Color Revolution since he led the toppling of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, at least fifty according to last count.
F. William Engdahl
October 13, 2017
The original title of this article was: 'The Dishonest Career of the Remarkable Srđa Popović'
On September 8, the professional regime-change specialist Srđa Popović came to Budapest and joined with the anti-Orban opposition groups in front of the Hungarian Parliament.
It‘s clear that Popović was not in town to promote his Hungarian book on nonviolent regime change but rather to give aid to the anti-Orban parties before Hungarian elections in spring of 2018.
Many in Hungary smell the oily hand of Hungarian-born regime-change financier George Soros behind the Popović appearance now in Budapest.
Because of the manufactured aura of “hip doer-of-good-deeds” surrounding the personality of Srđa Popović, it’s useful to look closely at who sponsored his remarkable career since he founded a tiny Belgrade student opposition NGO called Otpor! in 1998 with its now famous clenched fist logo.
The career of Srđa Popović from 2000 until today suggest a remarkably dishonest manipulator in the service of foreign intelligence agencies and governments, despite his vehement claims otherwise.
Popović first came to international notice as the founder of the Belgrade student political activist organization Otpor! which means “Resistance!” in Serbian. In October 1998 Popović founded Otpor!, initially as a student protest group at Belgrade University dealing with student grievances.
That was soon to change.
He and other Otpor founders were trained in the methods of US regime-change specialist Gene Sharp founder of the Albert Einstein Institute in Cambridge Massachusetts and by US State Department soft coup specialists such as Belgrade Ambassador Richard Miles and other trained US intelligence operatives, including election specialists and public relations image makers.
Guiding Otpor!’s Milošević ouster operation, US Ambassador to Serbia Richard Miles was a specialist in regime change, far more so than in classical diplomacy.
He orchestrated the CIA coup in Azerbaijan that brought Aliyev to power in 1993 before arriving in Belgrade, and after that went on to orchestrate the CIA coup in Georgia that brought US asset Mikheil Saakashvili to power.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID), widely known as a CIA front, had channeled the Serb Otpor! Millions of dollars in funds through commercial contractors and through the US-government-financed NGOs: the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican Institute.
The Open Society Institute of George Soros was also funneling money into Popović ’s Otpor! for the toppling of Milosevic.
I have yet to find a CIA and US State Department regime change or Color Revolution in which the “democracy-building” foundations of Soros were not in a kind of harmony with the Washington State Department and CIA agenda. Maybe just a coincidence.
The NED with all its affiliates was a project of Ronald Reagan CIA head, Bill Casey, in the early 1980’s to conceal CIA regime change operations around the world behind the front of a “private” democracy NGO, the NED. Allen Weinstein, cofounder of the NED admitted to the Washington Post, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”
According to Michael Dobbs, who was foreign investigative reporter for the Washington Post during the Milosevic ouster, the IRI paid for Popović and some two-dozen other Otpor! leaders to attend a training seminar on nonviolent resistance at the Hilton Hotel in Budapest in October,1999.
There Popović and the other handpicked Serbian students received training in such matters as how to organize a strike and how to communicate with symbols, such as the clenched fist that became their logo. They learned how to overcome fear and how to undermine the authority of a dictatorial regime.
The principal lecturer at the secret Hilton Hotel meeting was Gene Sharp’s associate, retired US Army Col. Robert Helvey, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who trained and then used the Otpor! activists to distribute 70,000 copies of a manual on nonviolent resistance in Serb translation.
Helvey worked with Gene Sharp, founder of the controversial Albert Einstein Institution, teaching techniques to the US government to conceal its coup d’états under the guise of nonviolence. Sharp was described by Helvey as “the Clausewitz of the nonviolence movement,” a reference to the renowned Prussian military strategist.
Popović and his Otpor! NGO were recipients of a major share of over $41 million US government money for their “democracy-building” campaign in Serbia. Dobbs describes the US involvement:
Behind the seeming spontaneity of the street uprising that forced Milošević to respect the results of a hotly contested presidential election on September 24 was a carefully researched strategy put together by Serbian democracy activists with active assistance of Western advisers and pollsters… US-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count. US taxpayers paid for 5,000 cans of spray paint used by student activists to scrawl anti-Milošević graffiti on walls across Serbia.
In short, Popović began his revolution-making career as a regime change specialist in an operation funded by the CIA, US State Department, US Government NGOs including the infamous NED and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The question is what did Srđa Popović do after his first helpful service to Washington in 2000?
Globalization of revolutions
He decided to globalize his business model that worked so well in Belgrade in 2000, to make himself an international “go to” person for making US State Department fake democracy regime change.
CANVAS or the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies calls itself a non-profit, non-governmental, “educational institution focused on the use of nonviolent conflict.”
According to Wikipedia, CANVAS seeks to “educate pro-democracy activists around the world in what it regards as the universal principles for success in nonviolent struggle.”
Popović and CANVAS claim that at least 50% of their obviously substantial funding for this philanthropic work comes from Popović ’s Otpor ally, Slobodan Đinović, co-chair of CANVAS and listed as CEO of something called Orion Telecom in Belgrade.
A Standard & Poors Bloomberg business search reveals no information about Orion Telecom other than the fact it is wholly-owned by an Amsterdam-listed holding called Greenhouse Telecommunications Holdings B.V. where the only information given is that the same Slobodan Đinović is CEO in a holding described only as providing “alternative telecommunication services in the Balkans.”
It sounds someting like a corporate version of the famous Russian matryoshka doll nested companies to hide something.
Leaving aside the unconvincing statement by Popović ’s CANVAS that half their funds come from Dinovic’s selfless generosity from his fabulous success as telecom CEO in Serbia, that leaves the other roughly 50% of CANVAS funds unaccounted for, as Popović declines to reveal the sources beyond claiming they are all private and non-government.
Of course the Washington NGO is legally private though its funds mainly come from USAID. Of course the Soros Open Society Foundations are private.
Could these be some of the private patrons of his CANVAS? We don’t know as he refuses to disclose in any legally auditable way.
There is no charge for CANVAS workshops and its revolutionary know-how can be downloaded for free on the Internet.
This generosity, when combined with the countries CANVAS has trained regime-change opposition group “pro-democracy activists” suggests that the other 50%, if not more, of CANVAS funding comes from money channels that lead at least in part back to the US State Department and CIA.
The Washington Freedom House is known to have financed at least a part of the activities of CANVAS. Freedom House, closely tied to the US neo-conservative war lobby, gets most of its funding from the US Government.
Popović’s CANVAS claims to have trained “pro-democracy activists” from more than 50 countries, including Ukraine, Georgia, Zimbabwe, Burma (actually the legal name since independence from the British is Myanmar but Washington insists on the colonial name), Ukraine, Georgia, Eritrea, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.
Popović ’s CANVAS was involved as well in unsuccessful attempts to start Color Revolution regime change against Venezuela’s Hugo Chaves and the opposition in the failed 2009 Iran Green Revolution.
Every one of those countries happen to also be targets for Washington regime-change of governments who refuse to toe the Washington line on key foreign policy issues, or which contain vital raw materials such as oil, natural gas or strategic minerals.
Goldman Sachs and Stratfor
Even more interesting details recently came to light on the intimate links between the US “intelligence consultancy”, Stratfor—known as the ”Shadow CIA” for its corporate clients which include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and U.S. government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
It was revealed in a huge release of internal memos from Stratfor in 2012, some five million emails provided them by the hacker community Anonymous, that Popović, after creating CANVAS also cultivated very close relations with Stratfor.
According to the Stratfor internal emails, Popović worked for Stratfor to spy on opposition groups. So intimate was the relationship between Popović and Stratfor that he got his wife a job with the company and invited several Stratfor people to his Belgrade wedding.
Revealed in the same Stratfor emails by Wikileaks was the intriguing information that one of the “golden geese” funders of the mysterious CANVAS was a Wall Street bank named Goldman Sachs.
Satter Muneer, a Goldman Sachs partner, is cited by Stratfor’s then-Eurasia Analyst Marko Papic. Papic, asked by a Stratfor colleague whether Muneer was the “golden goose” money behind CANVAS, writes back, “They have several golden gooses I believe. He is for sure one of them.”
Now the very remarkable Mr Popović brings his dishonest career to Hungary where, not a dictator, but a very popular true democrat who offers his voters choices, is the target for Popović’ peculiar brand of US State Department fake democracy.
This will not at all be as easy as toppling Milošević, even if he has the help of student activists being trained at Soros’ Central European University in Budapest.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University andi s a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
MIDDLE EAST EYE
Syria demands 'immediate' withdrawal of Turkey troops
Turkish troops entered Syria on Thursday as part of a deal to enforce a 'de-escalation zone' in the country
Saturday 14 October 2017 15:45 UTC
Saturday 14 October 2017 16:05 UTC
The view from the Syrian village of Atme in Idlib province on 11 October shows Turkish military vehicles at a base on the Turkish side of the border (AFP)
Syria on Saturday demanded the "immediate and unconditional withdrawal" of Turkish troops that have deployed in the country's northwestern province of Idlib, state media said citing a foreign ministry source.
Turkish troops entered Idlib on Thursday night as part of efforts to enforce a so-called "de-escalation zone" agreed by rebel backer Ankara and regime allies Russia and Iran at talks in Astana earlier this year.
But the Syrian foreign ministry source slammed the "Turkish aggression," saying it had "nothing whatsoever to do with the understandings reached by the guarantor countries in the Astana process".
Turkey announced on Friday it had deployed scores of soldiers in Idlib in a bid to stop the fighting there.
The deployment also appeared to be aimed at preventing the expansion of Syrian Kurdish militia backed by the United States but considered by Ankara to be "terrorists".
Over 100 soldiers, including special forces, and 30 armoured vehicles entered the northwestern Syrian region, Turkey's Hurriyet daily reported on Friday.
More troops could be sent there in the next few days, the paper said.
In a statement on Friday, the military said it had begun "activities to establish observation posts on October 12".
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish troops had entered Syria with the Free Syrian Army, the name Ankara uses for rebels seeking to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"We said we would come unexpectedly in the night, and last night ... we started the operation," Erdogan said during a televised speech in Ankara.
"It is us who have a 911-kilometre-long border with Syria, we are the ones threatened," he thundered.
Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group led by al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate, which has forced out more-moderate rebels in recent months.
The deployment comes days after Turkish troops launched a reconnaissance mission as part of efforts with Russia and Iran to set up a de-escalation zone - as agreed in May at the Astana peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian war.
Turkey says it is backing Syrian rebels in a bid to oust HTS members in the area and allow Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces to implement the zone.
They agreed on four such ceasefire zones in Syria as a prelude to negotiations.
Three zones are already in place - in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, in central Homs, and in parts of southern Syria - which are being monitored by Russian military police.
The fourth de-escalation zone includes Idlib and also parts of the neighbouring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions.
The operation's official target is the HTS, but Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP the Turkish forces were escorted by HTS elements, suggesting a degree of coordination between them.
"The Turkish military appears to have been talking with Tahrir al-Sham, trying to avoid clashes and find an arrangement that both can live with," Aron Lund, a fellow with The Century Foundation, told AFP.
While Turkey supports Syrian opposition fighters and calls for Assad's removal, Ankara has worked closely in the last few months with Russia - which supports Assad - in the hope of bringing the war to an end.
Idlib is one of the last major areas of Syria beyond the control of the government, which has recaptured vast areas of territory from opposition fighters since Russia intervened on the Assad government's behalf in September 2015.
The Syrian conflict began after widespread protests against the government in 2011 but has since turned into a multi-front war that has killed more than 330,000 people.
Assad says defeating terrorists in
Syria ruins West’s schemes
October 19, 2017
Syria's president noted that the
country’s military partnership with Iran and other allies
significantly evolved over the years
MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has held a meeting with Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri in Damascus on Thursday, the SANA news agency reported.
The general handed a message from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over to the Syrian president, in which Khamenei congratulates Syria and its people on the victory in the fight against terrorism.
During the meeting, Assad stated that "the defeat of terrorists in Syria has delivered a devastating blow to the West’s plans concerning the Middle East."
At the same time, he pointed out that "a number of countries continue to assist terror groups."
The Syrian president noted that the country’s "military partnership with Iran and other allies significantly evolved during the years of the conflict."
According to the SANA news agency, the Iranian general said at the meeting that his visit to Damascus was aimed at developing a joint strategy for coordination and military cooperation with Syria at the next stage, following huge successes achieved on the front line.
Barzani's Failed Kurdistan Project: A Deathblow To The Partition Of Iraq And Syria
By Tyler Durdan
October 19, 2017
Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media
The project to divide Iraq was dealt a deathblow by a decision of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to send the Army and the security forces to recover all Iraqi territories controlled by the Kurds of Massoud Barzani. The Kurdish leader was riding the horse of Iraqi partition (in fact, a lame horse) to establish a Kurdish state in the northern part of the country. Following the failure of Barzani’s project in taking advantage of the fight against ISIS and therefore declaring his “state”, every country in the Middle East is abandoning him because no one likes to be associated with failure.
Barzani sent envoys (I personally met some) around the globe who returned with apparently promising results: “over 80 countries promised to recognise the new State of Kurdistan”. These promises turned out to be false (“no friends but the mountains”), other (existing) political alliances turned out to be stronger and Barzani was left alone with his empty promises and unreliable advisers.
Iraq forces in the office of the departed Kirkuk Governor, October 16, 2017. The photo spread widely on social media after Iraqi national forces entered Kirkuk city.
Countries of the region – France, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to start with – are now establishing a clear and unambiguous relationship with Baghdad’s government. Abadi, following an authorization of parliament, used a fist of iron to fragment the partition project – not only of Iraq – but of the entire region, that was supposed to be sparked off by the Kurds in Iraq and in Syria and via the regime change attempt in the Levant.
In less than 48 hours, the Iraqi army, with all its security services (army, popular mobilization units, Counter-Terrorism, Federal Police), extended its control over Kirkuk, Khanaqin (Diyala), Bashiqa, Makhmour (Nineveh) and Sinjar - the city that leads to the borders with Syria. All territories that were established for Baghdad’s control under the US administrator Paul Bremer in 2003-2004 (with the limits of Kurdistan) are back now in place.
Abadi forced the Kurdish Peshmerga to return to the old areas they controlled in 2003 after they took advantage of the “Islamic State’s” (ISIS) occupation of large Iraqi territories in the north and north-east and north-west of Iraq in 2014.
Most importantly, the Baghdad government has started its recovery of territory (following Kurdistan referendum) from the rich province of Kirkuk – which produces more than 65 percent of Iraq’s northern oil (about 500,000 bpd) - a region which accounts for about 40 percent of Iraq’s total national oil production. Kirkuk includes the oil fields of Tawke, Peshkabir, Atrush, Shaikan, TaqTaq, Khurmala Dome Avana Dome, Bab Jambur, BaiHasan: all were recovered and are now under Baghdad’s central government control.
Thus, by recovering Kirkuk (and its oil fields), Abadi stopped the rise of the “State of Kurdistan”, which cannot exist with the remaining northern oil without substantial financial support from Baghdad to pay the salaries of the army (Peshmerga) and official employees, and this as long as Erbil delivers the full production of oil: in exchange 17% of its revenue will be due to Kurdistan. Massoud Barzani will have to withdraw from the political scene because he will be unwilling to beg for the return to the archaic relationship with Baghdad government and obey the Prime Minister- this might prove just too humiliating.
Pavel Talabani, the son of the Iraqi ex-President Jalal Talabani, declared that the Kurdish army in the eastern regions of Khanaqin-Sulaymaniyah was under the command of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, thus taking his distance from Erbil, further isolating the Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani: who is in fact the biggest loser today in Iraq.
The first to abandon Barzani was Turkey, which has announced that it will close its border (after days of hesitation awaiting the concrete results of Massoud’s separatist rejection of biding by the constitution and Baghdad’s reaction to it) with Kurdistan and handed over the main crossing point between the two countries to the central government in Baghdad and its forces. Saudi Arabia followed immediately with direct contact with King Salam, who offered his congratulations to Abadi and rejected Barzani’s rebellion.
With the collapse of the Barzani project, the United States had much less hope than before of pushing Syrian Kurds towards independence from Damascus. Baghdad has regained control of the crossings between Iraq and Syria in Sinjar – Rabi’a. Two more crossings remain outside of Baghdad’s control: Tanf under US control temporarily and al-Qaem under ISIS. This means no support, no exit and no entrance will remain legally available to the Syrian Kurds. The new situation will lock down the airspace from Syrian al-Hasaka which is surrounded by Turkey in the west, by the forces of Damascus in the south and by the regular Iraqi forces in the east.
Austria's Kurz: world's youngest leader in waiting
October 16, 2017
Austrian conservative Sebastian Kurz, 31, is tipped to become Europe's youngest leader (AFP Photo/VLADIMIR SIMICEK)
Vienna (AFP) - "Whizz-kid", "Basti Fantasti", "Messiah" are just some of the monikers given to Austrian conservative Sebastian Kurz, the world's youngest leader in waiting.
His People's Party (OeVP), revamped by the 31-year-old as a more hardline "movement", was projected to have come first in Sunday's election with some 31.5 percent of the vote.
"Many people have placed great hopes in our movement," the fresh-faced wonder boy told a sea of supporters in Vienna on Sunday evening.
"It's time to establish a new political style... I accept this responsibility with great humility."
But his possible next move -- entering a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) of Heinz-Christian Strache -- could see some of his shine removed.
The takeover of the OeVP in May by "Emperor Kurz" was as swift as it was radical.
First he ended the decade-long unhappy coalition with the Social Democrats (SPOe). Then he rebranded the OeVP and its black party colour as a turquoise "movement" tough on migrants and easy on taxes.
The strategy of "putting Austrians first" propelled the sluggish OeVP to pole position in opinion polls and Kurz to near-rock star status.
Wherever he goes, fans sporting turquoise T-shirts chant his name and women ask if they can hug him.
Selfie sessions with Kurz, always in slim-cut suits and tieless white shirts, last over two hours.
- Haider comparison -
Observers say there hasn't been this much euphoria over an Austrian politician since Joerg Haider, the magnetic but controversial FPOe leader who died in a drink-driving car crash in 2008.
"His phenomenon isn't all that new and resembles the... expectations placed in Joerg Haider," journalist Christa Zoechling wrote in current affairs magazine Profil ahead of the ballot.
In slick campaign adverts of him scaling the Alps, Kurz promised -- echoing the FPOe -- to slash taxes and red tape and "return this beautiful country to the peak".
"The time is now," read election posters with Kurz pensively staring into the distance.
"The republic gets a fresh start with Kurz," jubilant supporter Werner Schwab, 64, told AFP Sunday.
- 'Black makes you hot' -
His appeal as an agent of change is remarkable given that he has been a key cog in the political machine he now seeks to overhaul.
The only child of a secretary and a teacher, Kurz joined the OeVP's youth wing in 2003.
As its chief, he drew ridicule with a 2010 council election campaign featuring the slogan "Schwarz macht geil", or "Black makes you hot".
Kurz posed with skimpily clad girls on top of a black Hummer, the so-called "hot-o-mobile", and distributed black condoms.
This blunder notwithstanding, the former law student enjoyed a meteoric rise, becoming secretary of integration in 2011 and foreign minister two years later, aged just 27.
Full of praise for Hungary's populist premier Viktor Orban, Kurz claims credit for closing the Balkan migrant trail in 2016.
The move saw the Austrian named one of the most influential Europeans by news website Politico.
- 'One-man show' -
The notoriously private politician -- he's seldom seen in public with long-term girlfriend Susanne -- ran a campaign as immaculate as his trademark gelled-back hair.
Even his OeVP takeover had apparently been months in the planning, according to a leaked document.
But critics have accused Kurz of being a "mini-dictator" running a "one-man show".
Some analysts warn that Kurz's election will be an "earthquake" for the EU, despite his pro-European pledge.
"He's a 'Haider light' version," said Paris-based Austria expert Patrick Moreau.
Kurz's ideas on everything from immigration to economic policy represent a "complete rupture" with the EU, Moreau added.
Czech Prez Calls for a European ‘Second Amendment’ For Self-Defence Against Terrorists
By JACK MONTGOMERY12 Oct 2017
Czech president Miloš Zeman has said Europeans should “have the courage to invest in our own guns” in order to guard against international terrorism, like millions of U.S. citizens have.
The elder statesman — a veteran of the Prague Spring uprising against the old Communist regime as well as the Velvet Revolution which finally brought it down — made his comments in an address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental forum which predates the quasi-federal European Union by several years.
“The level of international crime is growing because of Islamic terrorism,” he said, in response to a question from an Armenian politician.
“I am open and frank, and I do not use the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ lightly but, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it has Islamic origin. It is connected with genocide in Armenia.”
President Zeman added: “What can we do against international criminality? Invest in the police, invest in the army, and have the courage to invest in our own guns.
“My wife has a pistol. Of course, she passed all necessary tests, but now I am guarded by my wife, and not only by bodyguards,” he smiled.
“The Second Amendment to the American constitution says that everybody has the right to have a weapon — of course they must fulfil the necessary conditions and tests.
“We Europeans are a little more careful than the Americans, but after Barcelona and many assassinations, I think that the difference between Europeans and Americans is not so great.”
Czech citizens are afforded some of the most liberal gun rights in Europe, although ownership rates are not as high as in nearby Switzerland — which, unlike the Czech Republic, remains outside the European Union.
Both countries enjoy a lower homicide rate than the United Kingdom, which is experiencing a surge in gun violence despite incredibly heavy restrictions on gun ownership, but the EU is bringing extensive pressure to bear on both of them to restrict citizens’ gun rights — in Switzerland’s case, because it is part of the effectively borderlessSchengen Area — with mixed results.
The lower house of the Czech parliament responded to the EU’s demands in June 2017 by voting for an amendment to the Czech constitution providing citizens with rights somewhat similar to those enshrined in the U.S. Second Amendment, allowing ordinary citizens to bear arms in defence of their country.
“We do not want to disarm our own people at a time when the security situation is constantly worsening,” interior minister Milan Chovanec declared at the time.
Islamists have been able to acquire firearms for use in a number of terrorist atrocities in Europe, despite tight controls on legal gun ownership.
France has seen the most high profile attacks, with terrorists gunning down police and ordinary civilians during the Charlie Hebdo assassinations and the Bataclan massacre, as well as shooting two police officers — killing one — between the first and second rounds of the recent presidential elections.
The terrorists behind the Nice and Berlin ramming attacks were also armed with guns, although they chose to use vehicles as their main weapons.
Europe’s situation contrasts strongly with Israel’s, where many civilians, off-duty police officers, and off-duty soldiers carry weapons, and very often bring attempted terror attacks to a swift end by using them.
Catalonia: Spain's constitutional court declares Catalan referendum law void
17 October 2017
Crowds watch a session of the Catalonian regional parliament on a giant screen at a pro-independence rally in Barcelona Ivan Alvarado/Reuters
Spain's top court has officially ruled that Catalonia's disputed independence referendum was illegal because a regional law that backed it was against Spain's constitution.
The Catalan regional parliament passed the so-called "self-determination referendum law" in early September.
Regional leaders went on to stage the October 1 referendum on whether the region should separate from Spain.
Spain's Constitutional Court had earlier suspended the law temporarily while judges assessed the Spanish government's objection to it.
In its ruling on Tuesday, the court said the law was against national sovereignty and the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".
The court said that the parliamentary session that approved the law was also illegal.
Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said he was not surprised, saying: "We are facing an executive power in the state that uses the judiciary branch to block the legislative."
In Barcelona protesters gathered for a fresh round of demonstrations in Barcelona to demand the release of two leaders of Catalonia's pro-independence movement who were jailed in a sedition probe.
A Madrid judge on Monday provisionally jailed Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of grassroots organisations Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural.
The judge ruled they were orchestrators of massive demonstrations on September 20 to 21 in Barcelona that hindered a police operation against preparations for the October 1 independence referendum.
NEWS WITH VIEWS
Santa Rosa, California: An Apocalyptic Event
Oct 14, 2017 by Betty Freauf
We had no more begin to recover slightly from the Las Vegas shooting massacre a week earlier when torch fires were being reported in Santa Rosa, California where my daughter and family live. There had been no winds in Santa Rosa that evening but about 10:00 p.m. suddenly, the wind picked up and 60 striker fires came out of nowhere and everything was incinerated.
One person said it looked like a “nuclear bomb” had gone off. Firemen were overwhelmed because they had so many fires to deal with at once. Flames came out of nowhere and buildings were reduced to ashes. Shocking aerial images capture the devastation wrought by the California wildfires as the death toll rises to 31 dead and many missing. My family is safe but their house is gone in which they lived since marrying in 2000. Hopefully insurance will cover their loss and help them start again but right now they are living with a woman, a friend of our daughters, with a big house who has taken them to live with her. In addition, these folks are without jobs due to the damage. Our daughter is welcome back with us but how many others don’t have families? And how long will it be before the government makes it mandatory for people to take others into their homes?
SHERIFF COLLECTING GUNS
It is being claimed in Santa Rosa, the Sheriff was going to houses which had guns to collect them before the looters get them. Simultaneously fires were erupting in Orange County by Los Angeles. And as I sit down on 10/12 to draft this article, a tornado has struck an area north of me in Canby and Aurora, Oregon about 25 miles south of Portland. Air planes were overturned at the little Aurora airport and other damage reported.
Santa Rosa with a 2015 population of 174,727 is known for its wineries and the Charles M. Schultz Museum. His widow had to flee from her home which was also destroyed. Charles was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 26, 1922 and launched his comic strip PEANUTS in 1950 featuring hero Charlie Brown. Over the years the strip would run in more than 2000 newspapers and in many languages. Charles died in his sleep at home Feb. 12, 2000 from colon cancer.
LIVING IN AN AGE OF PANIC
Never in my lifetime have I ever witnessed anything like we’ve seen happening in the world. We seem to be living in an age of panic. People who decades ago with the presidencies of Democrat Wilson and FDR begin to slide ever so easily towards socialism looking to the government to protect and bail them out are finally waking up to the fact it is the government that is causing many of these earth-shaking catastrophic events all in the interest of population reduction; however, in 1998 a U.S. News and World Report stated the Earth is capable of producing food for 80 billion people (8 times the projected population for 2050) Some think improved technology will enable the Earth to feed even more.
POWERS OF ANTICHRIST ARE RISING
David J. Meyer (now deceased) creator of the Last Trumpet Newsletter said in a Nov. 2007 newsletter he stood in the Social Engineering Chamber of the United Nations in the presence of witnesses and was told by an arrogant U.N. official that they are actively involved in population reduction, and anyone who will not receive their directives, including immunizations, would not be able to receive their food. He added: The powers of antichrist are rising.
And anyone approaching 70 or over 70 should look at what Obamacare has in store for them – straight out of the UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development and they want 85% of the population eliminated.
And with a letter containing 416 words signed by Obama, the U.S. government will resume its role in globally funding abortions.- the same old Eugenics Movement. And, this brings us to Sodom and Gomorrah and the acceptance of homosexuality and same sex marriage where they cannot procreate. Death Education advocates who teach the classes in our public schools also appear to be obsessed with the notion that the earth is overpopulated. However, Psalm 127:5 suggests we are to be fruitful and multiply and have a quiver of kids. America is losing its European heritage because they are “aborting” or not having children as a “choice” while other ethnic groups are having lots of children.
ANGELS DON’T PLAY THIS HAARP
Yes, experimental weather modification has come to our neighborhoods these last few months so rapidly we can’t keep up. With hurricanes, tornado’s, flooding and severe storms tearing up the country from one end to another, Jay Leno once asked “Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?” And I think this is what each of us should be asking ourselves as we continue to rid God from our midst in the chase after multiculturalism and abandoning traditional moral values. In the Bible, Amos names the sins of the people, and warns that He will send His wrath upon them -not only by natural calamities, but by a famine of the word of God. Austin Miles tells more about the shocking truth how Americans have been manipulated.
BRING OUT THE EXPERTS
Appalachian State Researchers Link Western Wildfire Activity to Arctic Warming was the 10/12/2017 newspaper article by Peter Soule who claims the fires are potentially linked to larger atmospheric processes related to human-caused climate change. Researcher from Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro believe there might be a connection. How right they are: Human caused but it has nothing to do with Green Religion Al Gore’s obdurate jabberwocky about climate change. Gore predicted in 2007 that Arctic sea ice would be gone by 2013. He repeated the claim in 2008 and 2009, extending the timing for the fulfillment of his prophecy out to 2014 or 2016. These misled experts and their deceived followers are still believing the sun rose in the West over Oregon’s beaches the day of the solar eclipse.
END TIME AMBIANCE
We may be experiencing right now the “End Times Ambiance” – dress rehearsals: Charlottesville, solar eclipse, Hurricane Harvey, Mexico earthquake, Hurricane Irma. Then we have the fires in California killing many people. Luke 21:25-28 about the scorched earth. I hold my breath as I write this: The promised Pacific Coast Earthquake while the snow is falling early and heavy on Mt. Hood and skiers are lining up to hit the slopes may be next. Perhaps 2016 was our last election cycle. We, the Trump Deplorables, as former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called us may not be able to save this America as we once knew it, for we may actually be approaching the ‘end times’ as seen in the Book of Revelation because from the lips of even the Marxist liberals we are hearing them say, “We’ve never in our lifetime experienced such events…”
Return of 'ocean chimney' the size of Tasmania puzzles Antarctic scientists
Last updated 12:24, October 15 2017
A rare hole the size of Tasmania has opened up in the sea ice off Antarctica, enthralling scientists keen to understand its cause and the possible role of climate change in its formation.
Known as the Weddell Sea or Maud Rise Polynya, the ice-free zone appeared in September and has grown to as large as 80,000 square kilometres, according to the University of Toronto.
Polynyas, defined as a stretch of open water surrounded by ice, are frequently found in the Arctic and Antarctica, usually near the coast. They rarely reach the extent now seen in middle of the pack ice.
AN LIESER, UTAS/ACE CRC Water vapour rises off the Antarctic ice sheet as a rare hole opens in the Antarctic winter sea ice.
"Something has changed" to bring the polynya back, Kent Moore, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto, said. "But we are not quite sure what that trigger was," he said.
A much smaller polynya opened up in the same Maud Rise region last year for a couple of weeks. Before that, the previous such event there was in the mid-1970s, with the polynya lasting three years and swelling to as much as five times the current size, Moore said.
Fortuitously, one of 200 biochemical robotic floats released by the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling programme has surfaced within the polynya. It is sending back data on temperature, salinity and other measurements – potentially saving a costly mission by a research vessel.
"It's just amazing – fantastic news," Jan Lieser, a sea ice scientist at the University of Tasmania, said of the float's location.
HUGE ENERGY RELEASE
Normally the sea ice acts as an insulator between the ocean – with waters at freezing point – and the atmosphere, which can be 20 degrees or more below zero.
Once opened, the polynya works like "a chimney from the ocean through the sea ice", transferring huge amounts of energy to the atmosphere, Lieser said.
Moore said the polynya was releasing about 800 watts of energy per square metre – equivalent to about 14 60-watt light bulbs blazing away day and night.
The Maud Rise provides an ideal location for the start of a mid-sea polynya. The rise is a mountain that climbs about 4000 metres to within 1200m of the surface, providing a ramp for relatively warm water flowing along the sea floor.
At its current size, the polynya is big enough to alter the climate locally and potentially a lot further away.
Unusual cloud formation is one clear sign. The heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere also cools the surface water, causing it to sink, disturbing sub-sea currents as it falls.
"Whenever you perturb the system, there are obviously consequences," Moore said, adding that the signal of cold water slowly spreading northwards into the Southern Ocean from the 1970s polynya can still be detected decades later.
Still, scientists are unclear what if any links there are between polynyas and global warming.
"It's one of the big unknowns right now," Moore said. "Is this a new normal, or is it just by chance?"
Lieser said researchers are keen to understand polynyas because of their potential to influence the climate in Australia and beyond. Global climate models that project future conditions also need to incorporate them.
"The Southern Ocean is rather vast – whatever happens down there will have a major effect on other regions," Lieser said.
Given the Southern Ocean's dominant role globally as a sink for both heat and carbon dioxide understanding the processes underway in the region was "critically important", he said. A less efficient sink, for instance, could see more carbon dioxide and heat left in the atmosphere.
One immediate side-effect of polynyas, though, is that they tend to be "really good for wildlife, like an oasis", Moore said.
The warmer than usual conditions and the relative ease for mammals to get to the surface to breathe will likely result in sea leopards and other animals gravitating to the area, he said.
The polynya, too, is a reminder of the dynamic nature of Antarctic sea ice.
Unlike the Arctic – an ocean fringed by land – Antarctica is a continent surrounded by ocean. While Arctic ice can be contained by land, winds in the far south can spread the ice, masking its volume.
And so, three years ago, Antarctic ice reached a record large extent at its maximum, at least according to records gathered during the satellite era.
By contrast, Arctic ice has been on fairly clear long-term downward trend both for area covered and ice thickness, in one of the clearest global warming signals.
This year, Antarctic sea ice looks likely to have peaked a maximum cover close to a record low.
Judging just when this year's sea ice reached its maximum has been a tricky business.
As of October 9, Antarctic sea ice covered 18.064 million square kilometres, which would be close to a record, Lieser said.
Unlike many previous years, however, sea ice extent had risen into spring rather than retreated.
Sea ice thickness is a more important measure than ice extent, Lieser said.
While decades of submarine activity around the North Pole had provided important data showing the down trend, that information unavailable for Antarctica.
"We don't have any large-scale reliable estimates of the entire volume of sea ice that's there," he said.
next week...keep on believing.
the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we
know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together
until now. And not only [they,] but ourselves also, which have the
firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
waiting for the adoption, [to wit,] the redemption of our
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