Let the earth be established, and not be moved.”
(1 Chronicles 16:30)
Not Be Moved

***

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Draws Towards Its Place











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WND

JIM CAVIEZEL: NEW 'PASSION OF THE CHRIST' TO BE 'BIGGEST FILM IN HISTORY'

'There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience'

Joe Kovaks

January 30, 2018

Actor Jim Caviezel portraying Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.”

Jim Caviezel, who stunned the world with his portrayal of Jesus in the 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” is now confirming he’s on board with director Mel Gibson for a sequel, and predicts it will be “the biggest film in history.”

“There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience,” the 49-year-old actor told USA Today. “It’s great. Stay tuned.”

Both Gibson and Caviezel have not said much about the story focusing on the resurrection of Christ, but the star indicated he’s encouraged by the direction the project is taking.

“I won’t tell you how he’s going to go about it,” Caviezel said of Gibson. “But I’ll tell you this much, the film he’s going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”

“The Passion” isn’t the only big sequel. You’re not being told the entire truth about the Bible’s contents. Learn Scripture on the spirit level as well as the physical level in the best-selling sequel “Shocked by the Bible 2” — autographed at WND!

The original “Passion of the Christ” followed the last 12 hours of Christ’s life. The movie brought in more than $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, and remains the highest-grossing R-rated film ever in North America with $370.8 million.

In 2016, Gibson spoke with USA Today about his plans for the sequel.

“The Resurrection. Big subject.” Gibson said. “We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”

Earlier this month in Chicago, Caviezel warned against false Christianity, and urged believers to publicly voice their faith in “this pagan world.”

“I want you to go out into this pagan world, I want you to have the courage to step into this pagan world and shamelessly express your faith in public. The world needs proud warriors animated by their faith,” he told the Fellowship of Catholic University Students SLS Leadership Conference.

“Warriors like Saint Paul and Saint Luke who risked their names, their reputations to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world.

“God is calling each one of us, each one of you to do great things but how often we fail to respond, dismissing it as some mental blurp. It’s time for our generation, now, to accept that call, the call of God urging all of us to give ourselves entirely to Him.”

Like the reporting you see here? Sign up for free news alerts from WND.com, America’s independent news network.

“Set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation,” the actor continued. “Be saints. You weren’t made to fit in. You were born to stand out.”

“We must shake off this indifference, this destructive tolerance of evil. But only our faith and the wisdom of Christ can save us,” he said. “But it requires warriors, ready to risk their reputations, their names, even our very lives, to stand for the truth.”

“By God, we must live,” Caviezel concluded, “and with the Holy Spirit as your shield and Christ as your sword, may you join St. Michael and all the angels in sending Lucifer and his henchmen straight right back to hell where they belong!”

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CHRISTIAN HEADLINES

VP Pence Says U.S. Embassy Will be Moved to Jerusalem 'Before the End of the Year

Amanda Casanove

January 22, 2018

Jerusalem will have a United States embassy in the city “before the end of the year,” Vice President Mike Pence told Israel’s Knesset.

"By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction, and fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace," Pence told Israeli parliamentarians.

In his speech to Israel’s Knesset, Pence also encouraged Palestinians to reconsider negotiations.

"Peace can only come through dialogue,” he said.

He also said aid was forthcoming for persecuted Christians in Israel.

"For the first time we are providing direct support to Christian and religious minorities as they rebuild their communities after years of repression and war,” he said.

Pence’s words weren’t well received by everyone, however. Arab members of the Knesset boycotted the vice president’s speech.

"We recognize that peace will require compromise, but you can be confident the one thing the United States of America will never compromise is the safety and security of Israel. Any peace agreement must preserve Israel's ability to defend itself by itself," he said.

Pence also said that the U.S. would not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

“We are your friends," he said. "And the day is coming when you will be free from the evil regime that suffocates your dreams and buries your hopes. We are with you, and when your day of liberations finally comes, and come it will, the friendship between our peoples will blossom once again."

Photo: In this handout photo provided by the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), US vice President Mike Pence (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office on January 22, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel.

PRESSTV

Israeli PM confirms 'extraordinary' anti-Iran alliance with Arab states

January 27, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed close ties between Tel Aviv and some Arab countries, saying that Iran is one of the common concerns of the “extraordinary” alliance.

Asked whether there is an anti-Iran front with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as crucial players, Netanyahu told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos on Thursday that the alliance was an “extraordinary thing.”

“I agree that there is an alignment of Israel and other countries in the Middle East that would’ve been unimaginable 10 years ago, and certainly in my lifetime. I never saw anything like it,” the Israeli premier said.

“Yes, it starts with a common concern for a common enemy which is radical Islam, either of the radical Sunnis, Daesh, before that al-Qaeda, which Israel fights ... and also our common stance against Iran,” he added.

This is while the Tel Aviv regime has been accused of colluding with terrorist groups that are currently losing ground against the Syrian army.

Israel has frequently attacked military targets in Syria and provided weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to the Takfiri elements wounded in the war-torn Arab country.

In September 2016, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted lawmaker Akram Hasoon as saying that the regime was directly aiding the Takfiri terrorist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

Israeli officials step up calls for anti-Iran alliance

In November 2017, Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman extended the hand of “friendship” to Arab countries, calling on them to form an alliance against the Islamic Republic.

Lieberman’s comments came two days after Israeli military Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot expressed the regime’s readiness “to exchange experiences with moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence to confront Iran.”

Eizenkot claimed that Iran was the “biggest threat to the region” in an interview with the Saudi-owned Elaph online newspaper.

The Israeli-Arab alliance is widely believed to have set the stage for US President Donald Trump’s recent policy shift on Jerusalem al-Quds, which drew condemnations and protests worldwide.

In December 2017, Trump said that Washington was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and planning to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

Numerous reports have suggested growing contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the past few months though they have no formal diplomatic relations.

Saudi Arabia is widely viewed as the homeland of radical Wahhabism, the same ideology influencing Takfiri outfits which have been wreaking havoc in the Middle East and beyond for years.

ARUTZ SHEVA

'Attack again, and I'll launch a missile at Ben Gurion airport'

Syrian President Assad sends threat to Israel via Russian President Putin: 'Syrian honor is above all else.'

Mordechai Sones, 28/01/18

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today sent a threat to Israel through Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that if Israel attacked targets in the country again, Syria would respond by firing Scud missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport. "Syrian honor is above all else," Assad told Putin, who replied that he would convey the message to Israel.

About three weeks ago, the Syrian army announced that Israel had carried out a series of attacks on an Assad army base in the eastern Kalmon Mountains, north of Damascus, confirming reports by media outlets close to the regime and as reported by Mako news.According to the army's announcement, Israel carried out three attacks with fighter jets and missiles. "The air defense forces opened fire at the sources of the fire and hit aircraft," the statement said. In Israel no confirmation was forthcoming regarding the damaging of aircraft.

According to the official Syrian report, the series of attacks began at 2:40 am when planes fired missiles from Lebanon's airspace towards the Al-Katifa area. Then, at 3:40 am, another attack was carried out using surface-to-surface missiles launched from the Golan Heights. At 4:15 a third attack was carried out by four missiles fired from the Tiberias area. The Syrian army also claims that in response, its air defense forces opened fire at the aircraft and the missiles, and succeeded in intercepting or destroying some of them.

Syria repeatedly warns of the dangerous consequences of Israel's attacks and promises to continue fighting the rebel groups, which are called "Israel's terrorist affiliates". Media outlets belonging to the Syrian opposition and rebels reported that the targets of the attack were ammunition depots in which long-range missiles were stored. The Syrian Center for Human Rights said that weapons warehouses belonging to Hezbollah and the Syrian army were damaged in the attack and that there was a fire and damage to the buildings. It also said that no injuries were reported as a result of the attacks.

About a month ago, foreign media reported an attack on the Jamariya area on the outskirts of Damascus. According to reports on the Russian television network RT and Syrian television, at around 23:30, Israel attacked a Syrian military post located on the outskirts of Damascus with missiles.

Syria's state television reported that local anti-aircraft forces had intercepted three missiles fired by Israel while they were still in the air: "Air defense forces were hit by an Israeli missile attack," the official SANA news agency reported, "The target was a military site in the suburbs of Damascus." Other media outlets in the country reported that Israeli aircraft were shot at.

***

QUARTZ

Israel will pay civilians $9,000 to capture African migrants

January 27, 2018

Don't deport us. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Israel is hiring civilian “immigration inspectors” to crack down on “illegal aliens and their employers,” marking a turning point in the Middle Eastern nation’s relationship with migrants and refugees.

In an advertisement this month, the Population and Immigration Authority said it would pay up to 30,000 Israeli shekels ($8,845) for civilians to carry out an “enterprise of national importance.” That included undertaking “enforcement tasks” against migrants that involved detecting, investigating, and arresting them. Candidates are expected to start in March 2018, a month before the country starts its designated “voluntary” process to return migrants to their country of origin or a third one.

The move comes a few weeks after Israel said it would help purchase tickets, obtain travel documents, and give $3,500 to African illegal migrants to leave—threatening them with arrest if they are caught after the end of March.

The United Nations refugee agency estimates that there are 27,000 Eritreans and 7,700 Sudanese in Israel, with the vast majority of them saying they fled war, persecution, and conscription. However, Israeli officials have called them “infiltrators” and a “cancer” who are in search of economic opportunities, and who constitute a threat to Israel’s social fabric and Jewish identity. As such, only 10 Eritreans and one Sudanese have been recognized as refugees in the country since 2009, according to UNHCR. Another 200 Sudanese from Darfur have also been granted humanitarian status.

The government’s plan to return the refugees has drawn criticism from human rights advocates both in and outside the country. Nearly 500 academics and 35 prominent Israeli writers have called on prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to deport the asylum seekers, saying the country has “no refugee problem and has no economic difficulty taking them in, settling them and directing them to jobs.” Hundreds of rabbis have also promised to hide refugees, campaigning under the name of Anne Frank, the Holocaust victim who hid in an attic apartment in Amsterdam with her family before she was captured and killed.

The UN has also warned that people who were returned could risk their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys to Europe. Israel was accused of making deals with African countries including Rwanda and Uganda as a place to deport the refugees—but both countries recently denied there was any deal. Rwanda’s government said that its policy towards Africans “wherever they may originate from” was to have “open doors.”

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PATTERNS of EVIDENCE

HAVE SOLOMON’S GATES BEEN FOUND?

By Dave Aeilts and Steve Law | Jan 26, 2018

An aerial view of the excavations at Tamar. (Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

(… so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) and Lower Beth-horon and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, and all the store cities that Solomon had, and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. – 1 Kings 9:17-19 (ESV)

Some think a recent excavation at Biblical Tamar Park in southern Israel has unearthed the entrance to one of Solomon’s store cities. Paul Lago, one of the archeological workers at the site, believes the gates he helped uncover in this recent dig led to one of the fortified cities described in the Book of First Kings.

“The Bible says that Solomon built a fortress in the desert,” Lago told Breaking Israel News. “The archeological evidence is consistent with 1 King 9:19, where it says Solomon built Tamar in the wilderness.”

Lago is associated with the Christian organization Blossoming Rose, which has taken responsibility for the welfare and development of Biblical Tamar Park in recent years.

Archeologist Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini, who led the excavation at the park on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, is grateful for the organization’s watch-care over this ancient archeological site. However, she disagrees with Lago’s conclusion. According to Breaking News Israel, Erickson-Gini says archeological evidence indicates the gates were constructed after Solomon’s reign. A majority of scholars believe that the Bible indicates that Solomon reigned in the 10th Century BC from year 970 to year 930. Some have slightly different opinions with one tradition putting the dates for Solomon about 45 years older. Breaking Israel News refers to the fortress gate as 9th century BC.

Despite her skepticism about the gate’s Solomonic origin, Erickson-Gini is optimistic the work being done at Biblical Tamar Park will bring researchers closer to understanding exactly who built this city entrance.

“We are working on very ancient parts of the site, which includes a four-chambered gate,” Erickson-Gini told the news service. She adds, “Hopefully, we will find some new evidence . . .”

Gates Tied to Larger Debate

Whether or not the gate was constructed by Solomon could have a huge impact in another debate among scholars. Some today openly express doubts that a United Monarchy ruled Israel from about 1050 BC to 930 BC. They cite the lack of archeological evidence for such a powerful and cosmopolitan polity. Instead of Solomon’s wealth and thriving international trade, the chronology and archaeological evidence puts his kingdom into perhaps Canaan’s most impoverished period. For the same reason, many doubt that kings David and Solomon as described in the stories, ever existed outside the pages of the Hebrew Bible, which they say was written much later and contained many fictional events and characters.

However, Biblical Tamar Park, which contains the ruins of a fortified city, is just down the road from huge mines in the Aravah Valley, 180 miles south of Jerusalem, which were written about in a recent article by Haaretz Daily. Archaeologists agree that these mines at Timna, Faynan and other locations in the region produced “more than 100,000 tons of slag” which remains to this day. The slag is a by-product of a long and fruitful copper mining industry.

Everyone agrees the mining operations were carried on by nomadic Edomites, according to Haaretz. What is debated is whether or not these nomads had the resources and the political will to manage such an operation. Some say a copper mine of this magnitude must have been supplied and overseen by a strong political entity such as Egypt. But Haaretznotes that Egypt was in decline at the time, and no Egyptian pottery has been found in those 10th Century excavations.

Others suggest that a strong political entity may well have been the Davidic dynasty with King Solomon on the throne. A United Monarchy would have needed huge quantities of copper for weapons and agricultural tools—and for the king’s many building projects.

The Bible says King David had earlier conquered the Edomites, and Chapter 7 of the Book of First Kings contains detailed accounts of the embellishments ordered by Solomon for the temple he constructed. Below are two of the larger embellishments.

He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured its circumference. It was hollow, and its thickness was four fingers. The second pillar was the same. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars. The height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. – 1 King 7:15-16 (ESV)

Then he made the sea of cast metal. It was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. Under its brim were gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea all around. The gourds were in two rows, cast with it when it was cast. It stood on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east. The sea was set on them, and all their rear parts were inward. Its thickness was a handbreadth, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily. It held two thousand baths. – 1King 7:23-26 (ESV)

Editor’s Note: Bronze is an alloy most often containing about 88% copper and 12% tin. So most of the building material required here for the columns and for the “sea of cast metal” would have been copper.

As the scriptures read, these embellishments range from hollow copper pillars to a “sea of cast metal” which Haaretz identifies as a basin used by the priests for washing. The newspaper estimates this basin had a displacement volume of 66 tons.

Professor Gabriel Barkay, director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, believes Chapter 7 of the Book of First Kings contains the actual dimensions of the embellishments Solomon ordered for the First Temple and is therefore a reliable historical record rather than simply a theological treatise written year later.

“These descriptions do not make any sense on theological grounds,” Barkay told Haaretz. “There is no (other) reason to specify these technical details that basically are instructions to the contractor.”

If, as Barkay insinuates, the Biblical dimensions were real and so was the construction of the temple, then an enormous source of copper would have been needed. It would have made sense for Solomon to build a fortress city like Tamar in the wilderness to supply and protect the mines that produced the embellishments for the temple.

In the following generation, Solomon’s son Rehoboam would also replace all the gold shields taken by Pharaoh Shishak with ones made of bronze (1 Kings 14:25-27).

A Matter of Time

But what about those who suspect the age of the gates to be much later than Solomon? This may seem like bad news for the validity of the Bible, but facts are facts. The interesting thing is, that if it becomes established that these gates (along with other “Solomonic” gates such as at Megiddo) are in fact from after Solomon’s time, then that actually fits nicely into the New Chronology proposed by David Rohl.

Rohl believes the dates for archaeological periods before about 700 BC have been overinflated, and need to be reduced drastically. By the time of King Solomon, the dates would be off by three centuries or more under Rohl’s system. Because the Bible’s dating system is separate and independent, the shift would bring Egypt’s 19th Dynasty forward into the time of Solomon.

If the dates assigned to archaeological periods shifted forward by this amount, the biblical dates for Solomon would also put him into the highpoint of wealth and trade in Canaan – the Late Bronze Age before its collapse. Archaeological finds from this older (and deeper in the ground at dig sites) period of history actually fit the Bible’s description of the time of Solomon remarkably well, as can be seen in this previous Thinker Update that includes a video from the David Rohl Lecture Series.

Rohl points to a factor seen in news articles about the copper mines help make his point. In a comment on his Facebook page, he wrote:

“Copper exploited and controlled by Cyprus until 1200 BC (according to the article). [Kings] David and Solomon took over the copper trade (based at Timnah) from 1050 BC (again according to the article). See a problem here?”

Rohl went on to explain that the articles imply that the copper trade shifted from Cyprus to Israel when Israel began exploiting the Timna copper mines. But there is a 230-year gap between the collapse of the Cyprus copper trade and the reign of Solomon. Moreover, the Timna operations ceased at the beginning of the 20th Dynasty (standard date of about 1200 BC) when the Egyptian presence at Timna disappears.

The anomaly of the copper gap is entirely resolved with the New Chronology, because Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, and in the New Chronology this pharaoh is Ramesses II. This would have been when the Timna mines were in full operation during the 19th Dynasty, thus removing the anomalous gap of 230 years when (under the standard view) no copper industry seems to have been in existence throughout the Middle East.

This would also mean the paradigm of calling these “Solomonic” gates would have to change. In the New Chronology the gates were a style that was actually used by kings later in Israel and Judah’s history as these sites continued to be occupied. We will monitor these issues as more news and discoveries come out of the lands of the Bible. It is important not to hold too tightly to any particular view of chronology while assessing the different finds and how they might fit into the puzzle of ancient history. And as always, keep on thinking!

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WND

FORMER GYMNAST PRAYS FOR ABUSER TO FEEL 'SOUL-CRUSHING GUILT'

Because 'Gospel of Christ' then 'extends grace and hope and mercy'

Bob Unruh

January 27, 2018

Former sports physician Larry Nassar has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for abusing more than 150 young American gymnasts.

One victim lashed out that there were no words for how much she “f—— hated’ him. The comment came as the judge allowed Nassar’s victims to give statements prior to the conclusion of the case.

But Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, moved another direction.

In court, she told the judge and Nassar that she prayed for him to find “grace and hope and mercy.”

“The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet,” she testified.

“Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.”

She continued: “I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me – though I extend that to you as well.”

She explained how she had hung on to the writings of C.S. Lewis, who wrote about the difficulty of knowing wrong when there is no knowledge of right.

Lewis wrote: “My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?”

Denhollander explained: “Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.”

She warned: “When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love. Larry, you have shut yourself off from every truly beautiful and good thing in this world that could have and should have brought you joy and fulfillment, and I pity you for it. You could have had everything you pretended to be. Every woman who stood up here truly loved you as an innocent child, real genuine love for you, and it did not satisfy.”

Her life is on track, she said.

“I have experienced the soul satisfying joy of a marriage built on sacrificial love and safety and tenderness and care. I have experienced true intimacy in its deepest joys, and it is beautiful and sacred and glorious. And that is a joy you have cut yourself off from ever experiencing, and I pity you for it.”

Denhollander also thanked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for allowing the victims to make statements.

The testimonies from the victims took seven days in court.

Nasser had pleaded guilty to molesting girls while at Michigan State University and elsewhere.

Denhollander told of how long it took her to recover from being molested at age 15.

“I think of the young girl that I was and the little girls and young women all of these survivors were every day. I feel like I see them in the faces of my two precious daughters. When I watch my daughters’ eyes light up as they dance to The Nutcracker, I remember the little girl that I and all of these women used to be. The sparkle their eyes must have had as mine did before their innocence was taken. I watched my daughters love and trust unreservedly and I remember the long road that it has been to let myself love and be loved without fear. I think of the scars that still remain for all of us.”

She also put blame on the organizations through which Nassar worked for allowing his abuse of little girls to occur.

Other comments from Nassar’s victims included:

Kyle Stephens, who said Nassar abused her from age 6: “I testified to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar and those ‘treatments’ were pathetically veiled sexual abuse. Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian: “Your days of manipulation are over. We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Clasina Syrovy, who competed as a gymnast for 15 years: “You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position – the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you, Larry. Shame on you.”

Former gymnast Marta Stern: “I will no longer let you have control over me. I will not let you win.”

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman: “You have not taken gymnastics away from me. I love this sport, and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you, in those who enabled you to hurt many people.”

One victim pointed out Michigan State still was billing her mother for “medical” appointments in which Nassar molested her as recently as 2016.

Alexis Alvarado, who said she was abused by Nassar when she was 12: “This is your hell. And I hope you burn in it.”

AMMC

STRANGE SOUNDS

Just another Titan? Human-shaped ash cloud appears over Calbuco volcano

April 27, 2015

Is this the Calbuco’s titan coming out of his home sweet home?

Look at this amazing human-shaped cloud emerging from the ash of the fiery volcano!

Reddit
Stuff like this gives me a little more understanding of how ancient civilizations thought that volcanoes and other natural phenomenon where the “gods” and not just coincidences.

Imgur

This reflection on the window (flash?) makes it even more look like an evil titan engulfing the entire city!

Now I can fully understand why you would think the spirit of volcanoes needed to be appeased. Yes, if you are back a few hundred years and a giant ash cloud man is looking at you, I guess we do all sorts of crazy things to make it disappear!

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WND

EVIDENCE OF ALIENS IN MECIXO – OF THE ET KIND

See mysterious objects found in caves claimed as proof of visitation

January 28, 2018

(YouTube video screenshot)

Video

New ancient artifacts discovered in a cave in Mexico are being claimed as evidence extraterrestrials visited Earth about 5,000 years ago.

The finds are weird and a little spooky, with sculptures portraying creatures with large eyes and elongated heads, similar to the popular depictions aliens seen in sci-fi movies. Some other artifacts portray spaceships flying from the Earth’s surface.

A YouTube video is going viral on social media:

The UFOmania channel has not provided any details regarding when and where these sculptures were found. However, it assures these sculptures are very popular among local residents who live near the caves in Mexico.

The video has convinced alien buffs and UFO enthusiasts, and they strongly believe this is solid proof to substantiate that aliens once roamed across our planet. As the video went viral on the internet, people started proposing new theories to explain the artifacts.

Another user named Nelio Anderson lashed out against the authorities for not learning more about the artifacts as they contradict established theories.

“It is disgusting how the scientific community refuses to look at any evidence that contradicts the established theory,” Anderson wrote. “They claim to be scientists but based on their notorious record of making out of place artifacts vanish it is clear that there is a political agenda present. A knowledge filter. As such it is not surprising to see the establishment attack archaeologists/anthropologists/paleontologist and geologists who had the courage and unbiased views to publish these finds.”

Of course, the images also look a lot like another form of extraterrestrial life: demons.

***

EXPRESS

Atlantis FOUND? '8.5-mile pyramid' discovered at bottom of the ocean

COULD this bizarre object, described as a giant ancient pyramid and found at the bottom of the sea, be a clue to the site of the mythological City of Atlantis?

By JON AUSTIN

January 30, 2018

The structure, estimated as being between 3.5 and 11 miles across, was spotted on Google Earth in the Pacific Ocean just west of Mexico.

A video about the discovery uploaded to YouTube has drawn vast speculation about what it could be, including an ancient sunken city, a bizarre UFO, or even an alien base.

The "discovery" was made by Argentinian Marcelo Igazusta.

He says in a video about the find it is an alien UFO left underwater.

The video commentary described it has being "an intense light in the Pacific Ocean" of 3.5 miles in length, with a shape similar to a plane.

Scott C Waring, an alien conspiracy theorist, said: "It is a perfect pyramid that measures over 8.5 miles across one side of its base. Thats a conservative estimate, it could be up to 11 miles across.”

He suggested it could symbolise an ancient civilisation, or even something alien.

He said: ”Even if this is not a UFO that landed in the ocean that was being used as an alien base, it still is a monumental discovery.

"A 8.5 mile pyramid...biggest the world has ever known, and it’s right off of Mexico, near the ancient Mayan and Aztec pyramids."

His reasoning that aliens might be involved?

He said: "Humans could never have built such a construction. Only aliens could accomplish making such a massive structure."

Case closed?

Viewers of the video have said it could be the site of an ancient submerged city or even Atlantis.

Simon Clark posted that it should be investigated to see exactly what it is.

But another poster pointed out there was no evidence it was anything more than an undersea mountain.

He said: "I don't understand why you're calling this a UFO? It is unidentified, yes (though most likely just the mountains of the sea floor) but it's not flying, so not a UFO."

The fabled Atlantis is an Ancient Greek myth – the name means Island of Atlas – and was first mentioned by the philosopher Plato.

The Atlantis military attempt to storm Ancient Athens but despite overwhelming odds the Atheneans repel them.

The allegory is supposed to suggest that the power of the organised democratic state will beat the power of a tyrannical system – the basic theme of his later work The Republic.

Atlantis and its inhabitants incur the wrath of the gods for the attack and the whole lot is submerged by the ocean, giving rise to the myth.

***

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Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Is Putin profoundly corrupt or “incorruptible?”

By Sharon Tennison | CCI | April 2017

As the Ukraine situation has worsened, unconscionable misinformation and hype is being poured on Russia and Vladimir Putin. Journalists and pundits must scour the Internet and thesauruses to come up with fiendish new epithets to describe both. Wherever I make presentations across America, the first question ominously asked during Q&A is always, “What about Putin?” It’s time to share my thoughts which follow:

Putin obviously has his faults and makes mistakes. Based on my earlier experience with him, and the experiences of trusted people, including U.S. officials who have worked closely with him over a period of years, Putin most likely is a straight, reliable and exceptionally inventive man.

He is obviously a long-term thinker and planner and has proven to be an excellent analyst and strategist. He is a leader who can quietly work toward his goals under mounds of accusations and myths that have been steadily leveled at him since he became Russia’s second president.

I’ve stood by silently watching the demonization of Putin grow since it began in the early 2000s –– I pondered on computer my thoughts and concerns, hoping eventually to include them in a book (which was published in 2011). The book explains my observations more thoroughly than this article.

Like others who have had direct experience with this little known man, I’ve tried to no avail to avoid being labeled a “Putin apologist”. If one is even neutral about him, they are considered “soft on Putin” by pundits, news hounds and average citizens who get their news from CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, just a program developer in the USSR and Russia for the past 30 years. But during this time, I’ve have had far more direct, on-ground contact with Russians of all stripes across 11 time zones than any of the Western reporters or for that matter any of Washington’s officials.

I’ve been in country long enough to ponder on Russian history and culture deeply, to study their psychology and conditioning, and to understand the marked differences between American and Russian mentalities which so complicate our political relations with their leaders.

As with personalities in a family or a civic club or in a city hall, it takes understanding and compromise to be able to create workable relationships when basic conditionings are different. Washington has been notoriously disinterested in understanding these differences and attempting to meet Russia halfway.

In addition to my personal experience with Putin, I’ve had discussions with numerous American officials and U.S. businessmen who have had years of experience working with him––I believe it is safe to say that none would describe him as “brutal” or “thuggish”, or the other slanderous adjectives and nouns that are repeatedly used in western media.

I met Putin years before he ever dreamed of being president of Russia, as did many of us working in St.Petersburg during the 1990s. Since all of the slander started, I’ve become nearly obsessed with understanding his character. I think I’ve read every major speech he has given (including the full texts of his annual hours-long telephone “talk-ins” with Russian citizens).

I’ve been trying to ascertain whether he has changed for the worse since being elevated to the presidency, or whether he is a straight character cast into a role he never anticipated––and is using sheer wits to try to do the best he can to deal with Washington under extremely difficult circumstances.

If the latter is the case, and I think it is, he should get high marks for his performance over the past 14 years. It’s not by accident that Forbes declared him the most Powerful Leader of 2013, replacing Obama who was given the title for 2012. The following is my one personal experience with Putin.

The year was 1992

Putin with Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of St. Petersburg, early 1990s. Putin was one of Sobchak’s deputies from 1992-96

It was two years after the implosion of communism; the place was St.Petersburg.

For years I had been creating programs to open up relations between the two countries and hopefully to help Soviet people to get beyond their entrenched top-down mentalities. A new program possibility emerged in my head. Since I expected it might require a signature from the Marienskii City Hall, an appointment was made.

My friend Volodya Shestakov and I showed up at a side door entrance to the Marienskii building. We found ourselves in a small, dull brown office, facing a rather trim nondescript man in a brown suit.

He inquired about my reason for coming in. After scanning the proposal I provided he began asking intelligent questions. After each of my answers, he asked the next relevant question.

I became aware that this interviewer was different from other Soviet bureaucrats who always seemed to fall into chummy conversations with foreigners with hopes of obtaining bribes in exchange for the Americans’ requests. CCI stood on the principle that we would never, never give bribes.

This bureaucrat was open, inquiring, and impersonal in demeanor. After more than an hour of careful questions and answers, he quietly explained that he had tried hard to determine if the proposal was legal, then said that unfortunately at the time it was not. A few good words about the proposal were uttered. That was all. He simply and kindly showed us to the door.

Out on the sidewalk, I said to my colleague, “Volodya, this is the first time we have ever dealt with a Soviet bureaucrat who didn’t ask us for a trip to the US or something valuable!”

I remember looking at his business card in the sunlight––it read Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

1994

U.S. Consul General Jack Gosnell put in an SOS call to me in St.Petersburg. He had 14 Congress members and the new American Ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, coming to St.Petersburg in the next three days. He needed immediate help.

I scurried over to the Consulate and learned that Jack intended me to brief this auspicious delegation and the incoming ambassador.

I was stunned but he insisted. They were coming from Moscow and were furious about how U.S. funding was being wasted there. Jack wanted them to hear the”good news” about CCI’s programs that were showing fine results. In the next 24 hours Jack and I also set up “home” meetings in a dozen Russian entrepreneurs’ small apartments for the arriving dignitaries (St.Petersburg State Department people were aghast, since it had never been done before––but Jack overruled).

Only later in 2000, did I learn of Jack’s former three-year experience with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s while the latter was running the city for Mayor Sobchak. More on this further down.

December 31, 1999

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin leaves the Kremlin on the day of his resignation, December 31 1999. Prime Minister Putin (second left) became acting president.

With no warning, at the turn of the year, President Boris Yeltsin made the announcement to the world that from the next day forward he was vacating his office and leaving Russia in the hands of an unknown Vladimir Putin.

On hearing the news, I thought surely not the Putin I remembered––he could never lead Russia. The next day a NYT article included a photo.

Yes, it was the same Putin I’d met years ago! I was shocked and dismayed, telling friends, “This is a disaster for Russia, I’ve spent time with this guy, he is too introverted and too intelligent––he will never be able to relate to Russia’s masses.”

Further, I lamented: “For Russia to get up off of its knees, two things must happen: 1) The arrogant young oligarchs have to be removed by force from the Kremlin, and 2) A way must be found to remove the regional bosses (governors) from their fiefdoms across Russia’s 89 regions”.

It was clear to me that the man in the brown suit would never have the instincts or guts to tackle Russia’s overriding twin challenges.

February 2000

Almost immediately Putin began putting Russia’s oligarchs on edge. In February a question about the oligarchs came up; he clarified with a question and his answer:

What should be the relationship with the so-called oligarchs? The same as anyone else. The same as the owner of a small bakery or a shoe repair shop.

This was the first signal that the tycoons would no longer be able to flaunt government regulations or count on special access in the Kremlin. It also made the West’s capitalists nervous.

After all, these oligarchs were wealthy untouchable businessmen––good capitalists, never mind that they got their enterprises illegally and were putting their profits in offshore banks.

Four months later Putin called a meeting with the oligarchs and gave them his deal:

They could keep their illegally-gained wealth-producing Soviet enterprises and they would not be nationalized …. IF taxes were paid on their revenues and if they personally stayed out of politics.

This was the first of Putin’s “elegant solutions” to the near impossible challenges facing the new Russia. But the deal also put Putin in crosshairs with US media and officials who then began to champion the oligarchs, particularly Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The latter became highly political, didn’t pay taxes, and prior to being apprehended and jailed was in the process of selling a major portion of Russia’s largest private oil company, Yukos Oil, to Exxon Mobil. Unfortunately, to U.S. media and governing structures, Khodorkovsky became a martyr (and remains so up to today).

March 2000

I arrived in St.Petersburg. A Russian friend (a psychologist) since 1983 came for our usual visit. My first question was, “Lena what do you think about your new president?” She laughed and retorted, “Volodya! I went to school with him!”

She began to describe Putin as a quiet youngster, poor, fond of martial arts, who stood up for kids being bullied on the playgrounds. She remembered him as a patriotic youth who applied for the KGB prematurely after graduating secondary school (they sent him away and told him to get an education).

He went to law school, later reapplied and was accepted. I must have grimaced at this, because Lena said:

Sharon in those days we all admired the KGB and believed that those who worked there were patriots and were keeping the country safe. We thought it was natural for Volodya to choose this career.

My next question was:

What do you think he will do with Yeltsin’s criminals in the Kremlin?

Putting on her psychologist hat, she pondered and replied:

If left to his normal behaviors, he will watch them for a while to be sure what is going on, then he will throw up some flares to let them know that he is watching. If they don’t respond, he will address them personally, then if the behaviors don’t change–– some will be in prison in a couple of years.

I congratulated her via email when her predictions began to show up in real time.

Throughout the 2000s

St.Petersburg’s many CCI alumni were being interviewed to determine how the PEP business training program was working and how we could make the U.S. experience more valuable for their new small businesses. Most believed that the program had been enormously important, even life changing. Last, each was asked:

So what do you think of your new president?

None responded negatively, even though at that time entrepreneurs hated Russia’s bureaucrats. Most answered similarly, “Putin registered my business a few years ago”.

Next question:

So, how much did it cost you?

To a person they replied, “Putin didn’t charge anything”. One said:

We went to Putin’s desk because the others providing registrations at the Marienskii were getting ‘rich on their seats.’

Late 2000

Into Putin’s first year as Russia’s president, US officials seemed to me to be suspect that he would be antithetical to America’s interests––his every move was called into question in American media. I couldn’t understand why and was chronicling these happenings in my computer and newsletters.

Year 2001

Jack Gosnell (former USCG mentioned earlier) explained his relationship with Putin when the latter was deputy mayor of St.Petersburg. The two of them worked closely to create joint ventures and other ways to promote relations between the two countries. Jack related that Putin was always straight up, courteous and helpful.

When Putin’s wife, Ludmila, was in a severe auto accident, Jack took the liberty (before informing Putin) to arrange hospitalization and airline travel for her to get medical care in Finland. When Jack told Putin, he reported that the latter was overcome by the generous offer, but ended saying that he couldn’t accept this favor, that Ludmila would have to recover in a Russian hospital.

She did––although medical care in Russia was abominably bad in the 1990s.

A senior CSIS officer I was friends with in the 2000s worked closely with Putin on a number of joint ventures during the 1990s. He reported that he had no dealings with Putin that were questionable, that he respected him and believed he was getting an undeserved dour reputation from U.S. media.

Matter of fact, he closed the door at CSIS when we started talking about Putin. I guessed his comments wouldn’t be acceptable if others were listening.

Another former U.S. official who will go unidentified, also reported working closely with Putin, saying there was never any hint of bribery, pressuring, nothing but respectable behaviors and helpfulness.

I had two encounters in 2013 with State Department officials regarding Putin:

At the first one, I felt free to ask the question I had previously yearned to get answered:

When did Putin become unacceptable to Washington officials and why??

Without hesitating the answer came back:

The knives were drawn’ when it was announced that Putin would be the next president.”

I questioned WHY? The answer:

I could never find out why––maybe because he was KGB.”

I offered that Bush #I, was head of the CIA. The reply was

That would have made no difference, he was our guy.

The second was a former State Department official with whom I recently shared a radio interview on Russia. Afterward when we were chatting, I remarked, “You might be interested to know that I’ve collected experiences of Putin from numerous people, some over a period of years, and they all say they had no negative experiences with Putin and there was no evidence of taking bribes”. He firmly replied:

No one has ever been able to come up with a bribery charge against Putin.”

From 2001 up to today, I’ve watched the negative U.S. media mounting against Putin …. even accusations of assassinations, poisonings, and comparing him to Hitler.

No one yet has come up with any concrete evidence for these allegations. During this time, I’ve traveled throughout Russia several times every year, and have watched the country slowly change under Putin’s watch. Taxes were lowered, inflation lessened, and laws slowly put in place. Schools and hospitals began improving. Small businesses were growing, agriculture was showing improvement, and stores were becoming stocked with food.

Alcohol challenges were less obvious, smoking was banned from buildings, and life expectancy began increasing. Highways were being laid across the country, new rails and modern trains appeared even in far out places, and the banking industry was becoming dependable. Russia was beginning to look like a decent country –– certainly not where Russians hoped it to be long term, but improving incrementally for the first time in their memories.

My 2013/14 Trips to Russia:

In addition to St.Petersburg and Moscow, in September I traveled out to the Ural Mountains, spent time in Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Perm. We traveled between cities via autos and rail––the fields and forests look healthy, small towns sport new paint and construction. Today’s Russians look like Americans (we get the same clothing from China).

Old concrete Khrushchev block houses are giving way to new multi-story private residential complexes which are lovely. High-rise business centers, fine hotels and great restaurants are now common place––and ordinary Russians frequent these places. Two and three story private homes rim these Russian cities far from Moscow.

We visited new museums, municipal buildings and huge super markets. Streets are in good repair, highways are new and well marked now, service stations look like those dotting American highways. In January I went to Novosibirsk out in Siberia where similar new architecture was noted. Streets were kept navigable with constant snowplowing, modern lighting kept the city bright all night, lots of new traffic lights (with seconds counting down to light change) have appeared.

It is astounding to me how much progress Russia has made in the past 14 years since an unknown man with no experience walked into Russia’s presidency and took over a country that was flat on its belly.

So why do our leaders and media demean and demonize Putin and Russia???

Like Lady MacBeth, do they protest too much?

Psychologists tell us that people (and countries?) project off on others what they don’t want to face in themselves. Others carry our “shadow” when we refuse to own it. We confer on others the very traits that we are horrified to acknowledge in ourselves.

Could this be why we constantly find fault with Putin and Russia?

Could it be that we project on to Putin the sins of ourselves and our leaders?

Could it be that we condemn Russia’s corruption, acting like the corruption within our corporate world doesn’t exist?

Could it be that we condemn their human rights and LGBT issues, not facing the fact that we haven’t solved our own?

Could it be that we accuse Russia of “reconstituting the USSR”––because of what we do to remain the world’s “hegemon”?

Could it be that we project nationalist behaviors on Russia, because that is what we have become and we don’t want to face it?

Could it be that we project warmongering off on Russia, because of what we have done over the past several administrations?

Some of you were around Putin in the earlier years. Please share your opinions, pro and con …. confidentiality will be assured. It’s important to develop a composite picture of this demonized leader and get the record straight. I’m quite sure that 99% of those who excoriate him in mainstream media have had no personal contact with him at all. They write articles on hearsay, rumors and fabrication, or they read scripts others have written on their tele-prompters. This is how our nation gets its “news”, such as it is.

There is a well known code of ethics among us: Is it the Truth, Is it Fair, Does it build Friendship and Goodwill, and Will it be Beneficial for All Concerned?

It seems to me that if our nation’s leaders would commit to using these four principles in international relations, the world would operate in a completely different manner, and human beings across this planet would live in better conditions than they do today.

As always your comments will be appreciated. Please resend this report to as many friends and colleagues as possible.

Sharon Tennison ran a successful NGO funded by philanthropists, American foundations, USAID and Department of State, designing new programs and refining old ones, and evaluating Russian delegates’ U.S. experiences for over 20 years. Tennison adapted the Marshall Plan Tours from the 40s/50s, and created the Production Enhancement Program (PEP) for Russian entrepreneurs, the largest ever business training program between the U.S. and Russia. Running several large programs concurrently during the 90s and 2000s, funding disappeared shortly after the 2008 financial crisis set in. Tennison still runs an orphanage program in Russia, is President and Founder, Center for Citizen Initiatives, a member of Rotary Club of Palo Alto, California, and author of The Power of Impossible Ideas: Ordinary Citizens’ Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crises.

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The Unz Review

Uncle Sam Dumps the Kurds (Yet Again)

THE SAKER • JANUARY 26, 201

The drama which is unfolding in northern Syria is truly an almost ideal case to fully assess how weak and totally dysfunctional the AngloZionist Empire has really become. Let’s begin with a quick reminder.

The US-Israeli goals in Syria were really very simple. As I have already mentioned in a past article, the initial AngloZionist plan was to overthrow Assad and replace him with the Takfiri crazies (Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS – call them whatever you want). Doing this would achieve the following goals:

  1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces and security services.

  2. Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan, but further north.

  3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.

  4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone”, but this time in Lebanon.

  5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.

  6. Breakup Syria along ethnic and religious lines.

  7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

  8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and forces the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.

  9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert and eventually attack Iran with a wide regional coalition of forces.

  10. Eliminate all center of Shia power in the Middle-East.

With the joint Russian-Iranian military intervention, this plan completely collapsed. For a while, the USA tried to break up Syria under various scenarios, but the way the Russian Aerospace forces hammered all the “good terrorists” eventually convinced the AngloZionists that this would not work.

The single biggest problem for the Empire is that while it has plenty of firepower in the region (and worldwide), it cannot deploy any “boots on the ground”. Being the Empire’s boots on the ground was, in fact, the role the AngloZionists had assigned to the Takfiri crazies (aka Daesh/IS/ISIS/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc/), but that plan failed. The only US allies left in the region are Israel and Saudi Arabia. The problem with them is that, just like the USA themselves, these countries do not have ground forces capable of actually deploying inside Syria and taking on not only the Syrian military, but the much more capable Iranian and Hezbollah forces. Murdering civilians is really the only thing the Israelis and Saudis are expert in, at least on the ground (in the skies the Israeli Air Force is a very good one). Enter the Kurds.

The AngloZionist wanted to use the Kurds just like NATO had used the KLA in Kosovo: as a ground force which could be supported by US/NATO and maybe even Israeli airpower. Unlike the Israelis and Saudis, the Kurds are a relatively competent ground force (albeit not one able to take on, say, Turkey or Iran).

The folks at the Pentagon had already tried something similar last year when theyattempted to create a sovereign Kurdistan in Iraq by means of a referendum. The Iraqis, with some likely help from Iran, immediately put an end to this nonsense and the entire exercise was a pathetic “flop”.

Which immediately begs to obvious question: are the Americans even capable of learning from their mistakes? What in the world were they thinking when they announced the creation of 30’000 strong Syrian Border Security Force (BSF) (so called to give the illusion that protecting Syria’s border was the plan, not the partition Syria)? The real goal was, as always, to put pressure on Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia while grabbing a lot of oil. As always with Uncle Shmuel, the entire plan had no UNSC authorization was thus totally illegal under international law (as is the presence of the USA in the Syria’s airspace and territory, but nobody cares any more) .

Did Trump and his generals really think that Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia would accept a US protectorate in Syria masquerading as an “independent Kurdistan” and do nothing about it? Yet again, and I know this sound hard to believe, but I think that this is yet another strong indication that the Empire is run by stupid and ignorant people whose brain and education simply do not allow them to grasp even the basic dynamics in the region of four planet there are interfering with.

Whatever may be the case the Turks reacted exactly as everybody thought: the Turkish Chief of Staff jumped into an airplane, flew to Moscow, met with top Russian generals (including Minister of Defense Shoigu) and clearly got a “go ahead” from Moscow: not only were the Turkish airplanes flying over Syria’s Afrin province not challenged by Russian air defense systems (which have ample coverage in this region), but the Russians also helpfully withdrew their military personnel from the region lest any Russian get hurt. Sergei Lavrov deplored it all, as he had to, but it was clear to all that Turkey had the Russian backing for this operation. I would add that I am pretty sure that the Iranians were also consulted (maybe at the same meeting in Moscow?) to avoid any misunderstandings as there is little love lost between Ankara and Tehran.

What about the Kurds? Well, how do I say that nicely? Let’s just say that what they did was not very smart. That’s putting it very, very mildly. The Russians gave them a golden deal: accept large autonomy in Syria, come to the National Dialog Congress to take place in Sochi, we will make your case before the (always reluctant) Syrians, Iranians and Turks and we will even give you money to help you develop your oil production. But no, the Kurds chose to believe in the hot air coming from Washington and when the Turks attacked that is all the Kurds got from Washington: hot air.

In fact, it is pretty clear that the US Americans have, yet again, betrayed an ally: Tillerson has now “greenlighted” a 30km safe zone in Syria (as if anybody was asking for his opinion, nevermind permission!). Take a look at this simple map of the Afrin region and look what 50 miles (about 80km) look like. You can immediately see that this 30km “safe zone” means: the end of any Kurdish aspirations to created a little independent Kurdistan in northern Syria.

To say that all these developments make the Russians really happy is not an exaggeration. It is especially sweet for the Russians to see that they did not even have to do much, that this ugly mess of a disaster for the USA was entirely self-inflicted. What can be sweeter than that?

Let’s look at it all from the Russian point of view:

First, this situation further puts Turkey (a US ally and NATO member) on a collision course with the US/NATO/EU. And Turkey is not ‘just’ a NATO ally, like Denmark or Italy. Turkey is the key to the eastern Mediterranean and the entire Middle-East (well, one of them at least). Also, Turkey has a huge potential to be a painful thorn in the southern ‘belly’ of Russia so it is really crucial for Russia to keep Uncle Sam and the Israelis as far away from Turkey as possible. Having said that, nobody in Russia harbors any *illusions about Turkey and/or Erdogan. Turkey will always be a problematic neighbor for Russia (the two countries already fought 12 wars!!!). But there is a big difference between “bad” and “worse”. Considering that in a not too distant past Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over Syria, financed, trained and supported “good terrorists” in Syria, was deeply involved in the Tatar separatist movement in Crimea, and was the main rear base for the Wahabi terrorists in Chechia for well over a decade, “worse” in the case of Turkey can be much, much worse than “bad” is today.

Second, these developments have clearly brought Turkey into an even closer cooperative dynamic with Russia and Iran, something which Russia very much desires. Turkey by itself is much more of a potential problem than a Turkey which partners up with Russia and Iran (ideally with Syria too, but considering the animosity between the two countries and their leaders that is something for the distant future, at least for the time being). What is shaping up is an informal (but very real) Russian-Turkish-Iranian regional alliance against the Axis of Kindness: USA-Israel-KSA. If that is what happens then the latter does not stand a chance to prevail. (Emphesis added. Ezekiel 38)

Third, even though the Kurds are outraged and are now whining about the Russian “betrayal” – they will come to realize that they did it to themselves and that their best chance for freedom and prosperity is to work with the Russians. That means that the Russians will be able to achieve with, and for, the Kurds what the USA could not. Yet another very nice side-benefit for Russia.

Fourth, Syria, Iran and Turkey now realize a simple thing: only Russia stands between the crazy US-Israeli plans for the region and them. Absent Russia, there is nothing stopping the AngloZionist from re-igniting the “good terrorists” and the Kurds and use them against every one of them.

Be it as it may, having the USA and Israel shoot themselves in the leg and watch them bleed is not enough. To really capitalize on this situation the Russians need to also achieve a number of goals:

First, they need to stop the Turks before this all turns into a major and protracted conflict. Since Tillerson “greenlighted” a 30km “safe zone”, this is probably what Erdogan told Trump over the phone and that, in turn, is probably what the Russians and the Turks agreed upon. So, hopefully, this should not be too hard to achieve.

Second, the Russians need to talk to the Kurds and offer them the same deal again: large autonomy inside Syria in exchange for peace and prosperity. The Kurds are not exactly the easiest people to talk to, but since there is really no other option, my guess is that as soon as they stop hallucinating about the US going to war with Turkey on their behalf they will have to sit down and negotiate the deal. Likewise, the Russians will have to sell the very same deal to Damascus which, frankly, is in no position to reject it.

Third, Russia has neither the desire nor the means to constantly deal with violent flare-ups in the Middle-East. If the Empire desperately needs wars to survive, Russia desperately needs peace. In practical terms this means that the Russians must work with the Iranians, the Turks, the Syrians to secure a regional security framework which would be guaranteed and, if needed, enforced by all parties. And yes, the next logical step will be to approach Israel and the KSA and give them security guarantees in exchange for their assurances to stop creating chaos and wars on behalf of the USA. I know, I will get a lot of flak for saying this, but there *are people in Israel and, possibly, Saudi Arabia who also understand the difference between “bad” and “worse”. Heed my words: as soon as the Israelis and the Saudis realize that Uncle Sam can’t do much for them either, they will suddenly become much more open to meaningful negotiations. Still, whether these rational minds will be sufficient to deal with the rabid ideologues I frankly don’t know. But it is worth trying for sure.

Conclusion

The Trump Administration’s “strategy” (I am being very kind here) is to stir up as many conflicts in as many places of our planet as possible. The Empire thrives only on chaos and violence. The Russian response is the exact opposite: to try as best can be to stop wars, defuse conflicts and create, if not peace, at least a situation of non-violence. Simply put: peace anywhere is the biggest danger to the AngloZionist Empire whose entire structure is predicated on eternal wars. The total and abject failure of all US plans for Syria (depending on how you count we are at “plan C” or even “plan D”) is a strong indicator of how weak and totally dysfunctional the AngloZionist Empire has become. But ‘weak’ is a relative term while ‘dysfunctional’ does not imply ‘harmless’. The current lack of brains at the top, while very good in some ways, is also potentially very dangerous. I am in particular worried about what appears to be a total absence of real military men (officers in touch with reality) around the President. Remember how Admiral Fallon once referred to General Petraeus as “an ass-kissing little chickenshit“? This also fully applies to the entire gang of generals around Trump – all of them are the kind of men real officers like Fallon would, in this words, “hate”. As for State, I will just say this: I don’t expect much from a man who could not even handle Nikki Haley, nevermind Erdogan.

Remember how the USA ignited the Ukraine to punish the Russians for their thwarting of the planned US attack on Syria? Well, the very same Ukraine has recently passed a law abolishing the “anti-terrorist operation” in the Donbass and declaring the Donbass “occupied territory”. Under Ukie law, Russia is now officially an “aggressor state”. This means that the Ukronazis have now basically rejected the Minsk Agreements and are in a quasi-open state of war with Russia. The chances of a full-scale Ukronazi attack on the Donbass are now even higher then before, especially before or during the soccer World Cup in Moscow this summer (remember Saakashvili?). Having been ridiculed (again) with their Border Security Force in Syria, the US Americans will now seek a place to take revenge on the evil Russkies and this place will most likely be the Ukraine. And we can always count the Israelis to find a pretext to continue to murder Palestinians and bomb Syria. As for the Saudis, they appear to be temporarily busy fighting each other. So unless the Empire does something really crazy, the only place it can lash out with little to lose (for itself) is the eastern Ukraine. The Novorussians understand that. May God help them.

The Saker

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WND

'POLICE STATE' NATIONAL ID CARD TUCKED IN IMMIGRATION BILL

Ron Paul, privacy actvists warn against measures to curb illigal workers

January 28, 2018

Inserted in a sweeping House bill introduced earlier this month called Securing America’s Future Act of 2018 is the establishment of a new biometric National ID card for all Americans that has privacy activists sounding alarms.

Introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., H.R. 4760 encompasses issues such as education, Homeland Security and the military. Buried in the 400-page legislation is the new mandatory national identification system in which citizens would be required to carry a government-approved ID containing “biometric features.”

The bill states that anyone seeking employment in the country must have the card.

The purpose of the measure, part of the legislative solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is to curb illegal immigration. It specifically addresses the shortcomings of the E-Verify system, which has failed to catch an estimated 54 percent of illegal immigrant workers.

Ron Paul, the former Republican lawmaker and presidential candidate known for his libertarian views, has launched a campaign against the national ID through his non-profit Campaign for Liberty, including an online petition.

Paul, writing to his supporters, declared the proposed ID card “is exactly the type of battle that often decides whether a country remains free or continues sliding toward tyranny.”

WND asked Rep. Goodlatte and his staff at the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, to respond to questions regarding the privacy concerns but did not receive answers.

Proponents of the measure argue workers already are required to provide a Social Security number, which is part of a national database, and emphasize the benefits of curbing illegal immigration for American workers and taxpayers and the nation’s security.

Paul fears the national database supporting the cards “could expand to include American citizens’ gun ownership status, religious beliefs, political affiliation and virtually anything else at the stroke of a President’s pen.”

The biometric identification information on the cards, Paul warns, which could include fingerprints, retinal scans, or scans of veins on the back of hands, could easily be used as a tracking device.

Paul noted that the law would require all employers to purchase an ID scanner to verify the cards, and he fears that it would be only a matter of time that ID scans would be required for routine purchases.

The national ID card, the former congressman recalls, was a key portion of the failed “comprehensive immigration reform” bills both parties tried to pass during the Obama administration.

“Now, using the momentum behind Trump’s tough talk on immigration and border security, I’m afraid the statists believe the best way to finally enact their National ID scheme is by promoting their bill on Capitol Hill as a ‘DACA fix’ while they sell it to the GOP base as a border ‘security’ measure,” he writes.

The national ID, Paul said, doesn’t target any border but instead is meant “to create an all-out police state within them.”

Alex Nowrasteh, a fellow at the libertarian CATO Institute in Washington, said in a FoxNews.com column “a national ID hurts American workers while pretending to help them,” calling a “naked government power grab” that effectively requires every American to ask government permission to get a job.

“American workers shouldn’t have to beg or plead to anybody to get permission to work,” he wrote. “Being employed should be a private agreement between an employer and employee. Period. The government should get out of the way.”

He also argued that “carrying around government papers with biometric identification on it conjures up images of a more technologically savvy Oceania or East Germany.”

He further asserted that the system would exclude millions of legal workers by accident and fail to catch the majority of illegal immigrants.

“For instance, if E-Verify were instituted nationwide 3.6 million Americans would be denied employment each year and have to visit the Social Security Administration to correct their records. The employer either fires them or delays training. Will a biometric ID card make this system better? How does that help American workers?”

He said, along with costing businesses up to $800 to buy a scanner, it “would treat every American like a criminal by requiring them to enter their most intimate and personal data into a government database.”

***

EXPRESS

Czech election result: EU panics as populist Zeman wins - and he WELCOMES EU referendum

THE Czech election has been won by Milos Zeman leading to a nightmare for the EU over the President's populist policies and threats to hold a referendum on leaving the bloc.

By MARK CHANDLER

January 27, 2018

With 99.35 percent of districts reporting, Mr Zeman won the run-off election round with 51.55 percent of the vote to 48.44 percent for his opponent Jiri Drahos.

Pro-EU academic Mr Drahos conceded defeat this afternoon before the final votes were counted.

It means Mr Zeman, aged 73, has secured a second term in charge of the nation, beating pro-EU academic Drahos.

And he did it on the back of a tough stance against immigration and courtship of closer ties with Russia and China.

Mr Zeman has also caused panic in Brussels by failing to rule out his own Brexit-style referendum.

During a TV debate, Mr Zeman said Czech citizens should have a direct say on political issues and that he is not opposed to a referendum on EU membership.

He said: “Brexit is a decision that must be respected.”

Political analyst Michael Romancov said afterwards: "Zeman never questioned the Czech membership in the EU, but on the other hand he said he would welcome a referendum on exit and in practice he significantly deviated from both EU and NATO.”

Mr Zeman blocked the Czech Republic’s planned entry to the eurozone during his first term in office. During this election campaign he declared he was for the adoption of the common currency, in principle, but he does not want to allow "Czech taxpayers to pay Greek debt”.

He said: ”The moment Greece leaves the eurozone or is excluded, I will gladly support it.”

Richard Bingley, a regional security specialist, as well as UKIP's home affairs spokesperson, said: "Mr Zeman committed to an EU membership referendum in last Thursday's national TV debate. Of course, we'll see how the Czech people vote. But today's result is a seismic boost for all of us pro-democracy, anti-EU campaigners. It will also send shockwaves across to expansionist EU institutions and their bullying bureaucrats."

Speaking to supporters today, defeated Mr Drahos said: "We did not win, but we didn't lose either. I am terribly happy for this huge wave of energy.

"I am convinced this energy will not disappear, that it will stay."

The Czech constitution gives presidents limited executive powers, but Mr Zeman has not hesitated to test the boundaries. In 2013, for example, he appointed a caretaker government of his allies for five months against the will of parliament.

He has benefited from rising Czech hostility to immigration, especially from Muslim countries, although the country received just 116 asylum applications between January and November last year.

The country has a Muslim minority of just several thousand but warnings of security risks and loss of identity feature strongly in public debate.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire businessman who has ruled as a caretaker since his minority cabinet lost a confidence vote in parliament last week, backed Mr Zeman.

And Mr Zeman has pledged to give Mr Babis a second chance to form a government.

***

Zero Hedge
In Venezuela, "We Loot Or We Die Of Hunger"

By Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/27/2018 - 16:10

While we have reported on previous incidents of looting, analysts are starting to fear that the current wave could linger amid the Venezuela’s economic freefall into a Mad-Max-like dystopia - very different from the promised-land of socialist utopian success promised by Bernie Sanders and his Latin American predecessors.

It is clear that amid desperate food shortages Venezuelans are picking up new survival skills.

“It makes you want to cry,” said Luis Felipe Anatael in a telephone interview with The Guardian.

“I think we are headed for chaos.”

A hungry mob took just 30 minutes to pick clean his grocery store in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz, hauling away everything from cold cuts to ketchup to the cash registers.

“Whenever there are anti-government protests, they have more than enough teargas, tanks and troops to put them down,” he said.

“But for us business people, there is no security.”

During the first few days of January the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, a Caracas rights group, recorded 107 episodes of looting and several deaths in 19 of Venezuela’s 23 states.

As The Guardian notes, President Nicolás Maduro blames the country’s woes on an “economic war” against his government by rightwingers and foreign interests.

But rather than reforming the economy, the government has resorted to handouts and far-fetched schemes.

A newly formed ministry of urban farming encourages people to grow tomatoes and raise chickens on their patios and rooftops.

Another campaign encourages Venezuelans to breed rabbits for the table. At a recent news conference, Freddy Bernal, the urban farm minister, declared:

“We need people to understand that a rabbit is not a pet. It’s two and a half kilos of meat.”

But as they grow thinner some Venezuelans insist they have a right to take matters into their own hands.That was the case in the western city of Maracaibo, where residents recently swarmed into the streets, stopped two trucks filled with flour and candy, and emptied them.

“We either loot or we die of hunger,” one of the looters, Maryoli Corniele, told Diario la Verdad, the local newspaper.

As Daniel Greenfield recently wrote, this is what really happens when socialists run out of other people's money.

Hugo Chavez had once touted the “marvelous community experience” of bartering. Now his collapsing narcostate is reduced to bartering its precious metals and jewels to survive.

Ordinary Venezuelans have long ago been battling imaginary inflation in the real life horror of socialism by trading in their worthless money for subsidized products and then reselling them on the black market. But increasingly they’re just bartering them to avoid the increasingly worthless currency.

Venezuela’s new supermarkets are the Facebook groups where the people trade sugar for beans. It’s a marvelous community experience that Hugo Chavez’s daughter, the richest woman in Venezuela, hasn’t been able to share with the rest of the populace. When Maduro, the former bus driver driving the country off a cliff as its insane leftist dictator, began chowing down on an empanada during a televised speech, the mouths of his starving people watered and a million memes were born.

But Maduro is promising Venezuelans that a replacement for money is coming soon. Venezuela’s dictator plans to create his own bitcoin, a cryptocurrency based on the only thing his failed state has, oil.

Forget the ‘monero’ and make way for the ‘petro’.

“The 21st century has arrived!” Maduro told a populace that is stuck in medieval times.

Venezuela’s past technological experiments haven’t exactly gone well. The joint Iranian-Venezuelan car company produced a vehicle more radioactive than Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The Chinese Vergatario socialist smartphone comes in handy when bartering for groceries on WhatsApp.

The ‘Petro’ will be backed by oil, gas, gold and diamonds. Except that Venezuela might be proposing to back its imaginary money with reserves that it already mortgaged to Russia. And that would make its imaginary money even more imaginary than it already is. But creating its own bitcoin would be a perfect solution by providing worthless money to everyone that wouldn’t even need to actually be printed.

But it still wouldn’t be worth anything.

WOLF STREET

Biometric authentication “will be of great benefit to everyone.”

By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

Mastercard has set a deadline for widespread use of biometric identification for its services across the whole of the EU: April 2019. Mastercard Identity Check, currently available in 37 countries, enables individuals to use biometric identifiers, such as fingerprint, facial, and iris recognition, to verify their identities when using a mobile device for online shopping and banking. The technology is not mandatory for customers, but from next year it will be vigorously promoted throughout the EU and many consumers will welcome it.

The impact will be felt not just by consumers but also by most European banks, since any bank that issues or accepts Mastercard payments will have to support identification mechanisms for remote transactions, alongside existing PIN and password verification. The deadline will also apply to all contactless transactions made at terminals with a mobile device.

Citing research it carried out with Oxford University, Mastercard says that 92% of banking professionals want to introduce biometric ID. This high number shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the vast untapped value consumer data holds for banks and corporations as well the preference most banks have for electronic transactions. The study also claims that 93% of consumers would prefer biometric security to passwords, which is a surprise given the array of thorny issues biometrics throws up, including the threat it poses to privacy and anonymity and its deceptively public nature.

“A password is inherently private,” says Alvaro Bedoya, Professor of Law at Georgetown University. “The whole point of a password is that you don’t tell anyone about it. A credit card is inherently private in the sense that you only have one credit card.”

Biometrics, on the other hand, are inherently public, he argues. “I do know what your ear looks like, if I meet you, and I can take a high resolution photo of it from afar,” says Bedoya. “I know what your fingerprint looks like if we have a drink and you leave your fingerprints on the pint glass.” And that makes them easy to hack. Or track.

According to Mastercard, such concerns are not nearly as important to its customers as the promise of convenience, speed and ease of use. “[Biometrics] will be of great benefit to everyone: consumers, retailers and banks,” said Mark Barnett, President, Mastercard UK & Ireland. “It will make the purchase much smoother, and instead of having to remember passwords to authenticate, shoppers will have the chance to use a fingerprint or a picture of themselves.”

In other words, consumers will not have to use safer two-factor authentication — biometrics plus a PIN or password — if they don’t want to. Convenience is, as ever, the watchword. Card companies, banks and online retailers have good reason to prioritize speed and convenience. The quicker and easier the payment method, the more likely consumers are to complete the transaction. Compared to other methods, such as one-time SMS passwords, biometric authorization can decrease the “abandoned basket” rates by as much as 70%, according to the study.

VISA and it has just published a similar report claiming that consumers in India are equally keen to use biometrics for authentication. In this case a staggering 99% of the people surveyed said they are personally interested in using at least one biometric method to verify their identity. An equal number of participants — another staggering 99% — said they are interested in using at least one biometric method to make payments. VISA will no doubt be happy to oblige.

The roll-out of biometric-authenticated payments across Europe, in India, and in Mexico, is merely the latest example of the accelerating encroachment of biometrics into everyday life. Most national passports these days include biometric data. Driver licenses in the US (which serve as de facto ID cards) already have them or soon will. Meanwhile, millions — perhaps soon billions — of people have volunteered their digital fingerprints to log into their smartphones and other digital devices. In other words, people are already giving away their most private data to work, communicate, cross borders, or get on planes.

In China, where privacy concerns are given even less importance than in the U.S. or Europe., authorities have been collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, eye scans and blood types of millions of people in the province of Xinjiang, the only Chinese territory apart from Tibet where ethnic Han Chinese are not in the majority.

In Macao Chinese gamblers taking out money from some ATMs have to look into a camera for six seconds so facial-recognition software can confirm their identity. “This is aimed at illicit outflows of capital from China,” Sean Norris, Asia Pacific managing director at Accuity in Singapore, told Bloomberg. “It’s aimed at people drawing out money in Macau, going to the casino, betting very little, getting forex from there and moving it.”

Throughout the Chinese mainland consumers hand over personal information to e-commerce, mobile payment and food-delivery apps on their smartphones without giving it a second thought. “They’re not well-educated about how privacy should be important to them,” said Simic Chan, a senior analyst at Fung Global Retail & Technology in Hong Kong. “They feel it’s a norm to have their data collected.”

While China may be leading the way in forcing biometric tracking on consumers, there’s a long trail of countries and companies not that far behind. And as Mastercard’s massive push into biometrics shows, it’s not just governments and technology firms wanting to use it. By Don Quijones.

WNDWND

3,000 WOMEN WIDOWED BY TIGER ATTACKS

Entire villages in India left without men

February 3,2018

The Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, located at the mouth of the Ganga and Brahmputra Rivers between India and Bangladesh, has the distinction of being the only place in the world where tigers inhabit mangrove forests and the location of the highest concentration of widows in India – that’s not a coincidence.

The Indian government responded last week to a crisis in the region caused by fatal attacks by endangered Bengal tigers on men entering the 625-square-mile reserve to earn a livlihood. Entire villages in West Bengal’s southern region have been left without any men, populated now by “bagh bidhoba” – tiger widows, reported Times of India. The women have been left without the financial support of their husbands, often raising children on as little as $6 a month.

Further, the tiger deaths are seen as signs of the wrath of the forest goddess Bonobibi, and superstitious in-laws blame and shun the widows, calling them “swami-kheko” – husband-eaters. A survey has identified 11 villages of such outcast widows, and a new state program has selected three of those villages for a pilot program to train the women to be self-sufficient.

According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India, the nation’s endangered Bengal tiger population is currently around 2,500, with the numbers in the Sunderbans estimated at 70 in 2011, although other estimates that include Bangladesh populations range from 450 to 700. Despite the relatively small number of tigers, over 1,000 men have been killed in the past few years when they ventured inside the dense mangrove forest in the absence of toilets in their homes, and to collect wood and honey or to fish or catch crabs, reported The Hindu. Estimates of the total number of India’s tiger widows in the region is 3,000.

In the 1980s, the practice of wearing a face mask on the back of the head to fool the tigers was introduced. As the predators most often crept up on their prey from behind, it was reasoned that the “face” would deter attacks. According to a 1989 New York Times report, the ruse was successful, with no deaths reported in a three-year period for those wearing the mask and 29 deaths among those without the camouflaging device. Still, deaths continue to occur when man-animal confrontations occur.

A 2001-2006 study of 3,000 households in the region found many of the widows with major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder due to stigmatization. One woman told the research team she was waiting until her children were grown to kill herself. “The meaning of life has changed completely after his death. The relatives became distant, [the] community looks down on us and excluded us from any social festival.”

The state program will be administered by Sulabh International, a NGO that was already working with Indian widows to provide finaincial assistance and vocational training. In the case of the tiger widows, Sulabh has proposed a campaign encouraging remarriage for younger women, most of whom have been blamed for their husband’s deaths, and who must overcome the belief that a second husband will suffer the same fate. The only option left to them is to beg for a living or migrate to a slum in a city.

***

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya "Megalopolis" Below Guatemalan Jungle

A vast, interconnected network of ancient cities was home to millions more people than previously thought.

Laser technology known as LiDAR digitally removes the forest canopy to reveal ancient ruins below, showing that Maya cities such as Tikal were much larger than ground-based research had suggested.

COURTESY WILD BLUE MEDIA/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

By Tom Clynes

PUBLISHED February 1, 2018

In what’s being hailed as a “major breakthrough” in Maya archaeology, researchers have identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made features that have been hidden for centuries under the jungles of northern Guatemala.

Laser scans revealed more than 60,000 previously unknown Maya structures that were part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms, and highways.

COURTESY WILD BLUE MEDIA/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Using a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR (short for “Light Detection And Ranging”), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.

“The LiDAR images make it clear that this entire region was a settlement system whose scale and population density had been grossly underestimated,” said Thomas Garrison, an Ithaca College archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer who specializes in using digital technology for archaeological research.

Garrison is part of a consortium of researchers who are participating in the project, which was spearheaded by the PACUNAM Foundation, a Guatemalan nonprofit that fosters scientific research, sustainable development, and cultural heritage preservation.

The project mapped more than 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén region of Guatemala, producing the largest LiDAR data set ever obtained for archaeological research.

The results suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilization that was, at its peak some 1,200 years ago, more comparable to sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China than to the scattered and sparsely populated city states that ground-based research had long suggested.

In addition to hundreds of previously unknown structures, the LiDAR images show raised highways connecting urban centers and quarries. Complex irrigation and terracing systems supported intensive agriculture capable of feeding masses of workers who dramatically reshaped the landscape.

The ancient Maya never used the wheel or beasts of burden, yet “this was a civilization that was literally moving mountains,” said Marcello Canuto, a Tulane University archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer who participated in the project.

“We’ve had this western conceit that complex civilizations can’t flourish in the tropics, that the tropics are where civilizations go to die,” said Canuto, who conducts archaeological research at a Guatemalan site known as La Corona. “But with the new LiDAR-based evidence from Central America and [Cambodia’s] Angkor Wat, we now have to consider that complex societies may have formed in the tropics and made their way outward from there.”

SURPRISING INSIGHTS

“LiDAR is revolutionizing archaeology the way the Hubble Space Telescope revolutionized astronomy,” said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer. “We’ll need 100 years to go through all [the data] and really understand what we’re seeing.”

Already, though, the survey has yielded surprising insights into settlement patterns, inter-urban connectivity, and militarization in the Maya Lowlands. At its peak in the Maya classic period (approximately A.D. 250–900), the civilization covered an area about twice the size of medieval England, but it was far more densely populated.

“Most people had been comfortable with population estimates of around 5 million,” said Estrada-Belli, who directs a multi-disciplinary archaeological project at Holmul, Guatemala. “With this new data it’s no longer unreasonable to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there—including many living in low-lying, swampy areas that many of us had thought uninhabitable.”

Virtually all the Mayan cities were connected by causeways wide enough to suggest that they were heavily trafficked and used for trade and other forms of regional interaction. These highways were elevated to allow easy passage even during rainy seasons. In a part of the world where there is usually too much or too little precipitation, the flow of water was meticulously planned and controlled via canals, dikes, and reservoirs.

Among the most surprising findings was the ubiquity of defensive walls, ramparts, terraces, and fortresses. “Warfare wasn’t only happening toward the end of the civilization,” said Garrison. “It was large-scale and systematic, and it endured over many years.”

The survey also revealed thousands of pits dug by modern-day looters. “Many of these new sites are only new to us; they are not new to looters,” said Marianne Hernandez, president of the PACUNAM Foundation.

Environmental degradation is another concern. Guatemala is losing more than 10 percent of its forests annually, and habitat loss has accelerated along its border with Mexico as trespassers burn and clear land for agriculture and human settlement.

“By identifying these sites and helping to understand who these ancient people were, we hope to raise awareness of the value of protecting these places,” Hernandez said.

The survey is the first phase of the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, a three-year project that will eventually map more than 5,000 square miles (14,000 square kilometers) of Guatemala’s lowlands, part of a pre-Columbian settlement system that extended north to the Gulf of Mexico.

“The ambition and the impact of this project is just incredible,” said Kathryn Reese-Taylor, a University of Calgary archaeologist and Maya specialist who was not associated with the PACUNAM survey. “After decades of combing through the forests, no archaeologists had stumbled across these sites. More importantly, we never had the big picture that this data set gives us. It really pulls back the veil and helps us see the civilization as the ancient Maya saw it.”

***

Until next week...keep on believing.
Almondtree Productions

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.”
(Luke 12:2)

AMMC


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