The pillars of heaven are prostrate and astonished at his rebuke.”
(Job 26:11)
Pillars Of Heaven

Dear Friends,

Greetings! The following is not being presented as a statement of fact but as an historical representation of the beliefs of the ancient Hebrews with mainly Old Testament references on which they based their beliefs.

This is followed by an article from Wikipedia showing how this belief was not only accepted by the ancient Hebrews but by virtually every major religion and culture.

Ancient Hebrew
Conception of the Universe.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness WAS upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:1-5

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs,and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19

Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.”1Chronicles 16:30

The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty;the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.” Psalm 93:1

Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth:the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.” Psalm 96:10

WHO laid the foundations of the earth, THAT it should not be removed for ever.”Psalm 104:5

His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his hornsare like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh. Deuteronomy 33:17

The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed. 1 Samuel 2:10

For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; Job 28:24

He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. Job 37:3

That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? Job 38:13

According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. Psalms 48:10

Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah. Psalms 59:13

By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea: Psalms 65:5

God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him. Psalms 67:7

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. Psalms 72:8

He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalms 98:3

He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. Psalms 135:7

Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth. Proverbs 17:24

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath

bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? Proverbs 30:4

Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst

removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. Isaiah 26:15

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. Isaiah 40:28

The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. Isaiah 41:5

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Isaiah 41:9

I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Isaiah 43:6

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for Iam God, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:22

The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:10

When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Jeremiah 10:13

O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and thingswherein there is no profit. Jeremiah 16:19

A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. Jeremiah 25:31

When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Jeremiah 51:16

And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. Micah 5:4

And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. Zechariah 9:10

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. ” Isaiah 11:12

Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;” Job 38:6

Say among the heathen that YAHUWAH reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. ” Psalm 96:10

And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH. (KJV) Isaiah 11:12 12

The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the ENDS OF ALL THE EARTH: (KJV) Daniel 4:11

It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: Job 26: 7 7

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. Joshua 10:13

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” Joshua 10:13

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.” Habakkuk 3:11

Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.” Isaiah 38:8

And two from the New Testament

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. Acts 13:47

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. Revelation 7:1

“The flat Earth model is an archaic conception of the Earth's shape as a plane or disk. Many ancient cultures subscribed to a flat Earth cosmography, including Greece until the classical period, the Bronze Age and Iron Age civilizations of the Near East until the Hellenistic period, India until the Gupta period (early centuries AD) and China until the 17th century. That paradigm was also typically held in the aboriginal cultures of the Americas, and the notion of a flat Earth domed by the firmament in the shape of an inverted bowl was common in pre-scientific societies.

The idea of a spherical Earth appeared in Greek philosophy with Pythagoras (6th century BC), although most Pre-Socratics retained the flat Earth model. Aristotle provided evidence for the spherical shape of the Earth on empirical grounds by around 330 BC. Knowledge of the spherical Earth gradually began to spread beyond the Hellenistic world from then on.

Ancient Near East

In early Egyptian and Mesopotamian thought the world was portrayed as a flat disk floating in the ocean. A similar model is found in the Homeric account of the 8th century BC in which "Okeanos, the personified body of water surrounding the circular surface of the Earth, is the begetter of all life and possibly of all gods." The Israelites likely had a similar cosmology, with the earth as a flat disc floating on water beneath an arced firmament separating it from the heavens.

The Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts reveal that the ancient Egyptians believed Nun (the Ocean) was a circular body surrounding nbwt (a term meaning "dry lands" or "Islands"), and therefore believed in a similar Ancient Near Eastern circular earth cosmography surrounded by water.

Early Christian Church

The influential theologian and philosopher Saint Augustine, one of the four Great Church Fathers of the Western Church, similarly objected to the "fable" of an inhabited Antipodes:

But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours that is on no ground credible. And, indeed, it is not affirmed that this has been learned by historical knowledge, but by scientific conjecture, on the ground that the earth is suspended within the concavity of the sky, and that it has as much room on the one side of it as on the other: hence they say that the part that is beneath must also be inhabited. But they do not remark that, although it be supposed or scientifically demonstrated that the world is of a round and spherical form, yet it does not follow that the other side of the earth is bare of water; nor even, though it be bare, does it immediately follow that it is peopled. For Scripture, which proves the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, gives no false information; and it is too absurd to say, that some men might have taken ship and traversed the whole wide ocean, and crossed from this side of the world to the other, and that thus even the inhabitants of that distant region are descended from that one first man.

The view generally accepted by scholars of Augustine's work is that he shared the common view of his contemporaries that the Earth is spherical, in line with his endorsement of science in De Genesi ad litteram. That view was challenged by noted Augustine scholar Leo Ferrari, who concluded that he was familiar with the Greek theory of a spherical earth, nevertheless, (following in the footsteps of his fellow North African, Lactantius), he was firmly convinced that the earth was flat, was one of the two biggest bodies in existence and that it lay at the bottom of the universe. Apparently Augustine saw this picture as more useful for scriptural exegesis than the global earth at the centre of an immense universe.

Diodorus of Tarsus, a leading figure in the School of Antioch and mentor of John Chrysostom, may have argued for a flat Earth; however, Diodorus' opinion on the matter is known only from a later criticism. Chrysostom, one of the four Great Church Fathers of the Eastern Church and Archbishop of Constantinople, explicitly espoused the idea, based on scripture, that the Earth floats miraculously on the water beneath the firmament. Athanasius the Great, Church Father and Patriarch of Alexandria, expressed a similar view in Against the Heathen.

Severian, Bishop of Gabala (d. 408), wrote that the Earth is flat and the sun does not pass under it in the night, but "travels through the northern parts as if hidden by a wall". Wikipedia

And they said, Come, let us build to ourselves a city and tower, whose top shall be to heaven, and let us make to ourselves a name, before we are scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:4

***

The Telegraph

Media mogul Dmitry Itskov plans to live forever by uploading his personality to a robot

Gemma Chan as synthetic human in the Channel 4 show 'Humans' - one Russian multi-millionaire thinks he can create the real thing by 2045

Kate Palmer, business reporter

13 MARCH 2016 • 10:07AM

Money can buy you immortality, according to the Russian internet multi-millionaire who is ploughing a fortune into a project to create a human that never dies.

Web entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov is behind the “2045 Initiative”, an ambitious experiment to bring about immortality within the next 30 years by creating a robot capable of storing human personalities.

The group of neuroscientists, robot builders and consciousness researchers say they can create an android that is capable of uploading someone’s personality.

Mr Itskov, who has made a reported £1bn from his Moscow-based news publishing company, is the project's financial backer.

"Different scientists call it uploading or they call it mind transfer. I prefer to call it personality transfer" - Dmitry Itskov

They believe that robots can store a person's thoughts and feelings because brains function in the same way as a computer.

It would work by uploading a digital version of a human brain to an android – effectively rebooting a person’s mind – which would take the form of a robotic copy of a human body or, once technology has developed, a hologram with a full human personality.

Mr Itskov, who at 35 has amassed a fortune from his internet media firm New Media Stars, says he is “100pc sure it will happen”.

He told BBC Horizon in a documentary that airs Wednesday: “If there is no immortality technology, I’ll be dead in the next 35 years.”

The project’s first step is to create a robot that can be controlled using the mind.

The documentary-makers travel to California, where a quadriplegic Californian man, Erik Sorto, is attempting to control a robot arm with his thoughts.

“The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone’s personality into the new artificial carrier,” Mr Itskov told the Horizon documentary, writes The Sunday Times.

(“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:15)

***

CHRISTIAN TODAY

'Game-changer': Pentagon developing brain implant to allow humans to communicate with computers

Andre Mitchell 09 March 2016

The U.S. military has launched a programme to develop implantable chips that will allow the human brain to communicate directly, and accurately, with computers. (DARPA)

Imagine a time when we can communicate with machines not by pressing buttons, but simply by thinking. That time may come soon through the efforts being undertaken by the U.S. Department of Defense.

In a statement, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—the Pentagon's research arm responsible for exploring emerging technologies for military use—announced that it is developing an advanced implant that would allow the human brain to communicate directly with computers.

DARPA's program manager, Phillip Alvelda, explained that the goal of the new device his agency is developing is to "open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics."

To be able to do this, the implantable device will be developed so that it will be able to convert nerve cells or neurons in the brain into electronic signals. If the agency is able to do this, DARPA can boast of unprecedented "data-transfer bandwidth between the human brain and the digital world."

Alvelda further said the proposed implant will be very small, approximately just one cubic centimetre, or roughly the size of two stacked nickels.

Although very tiny, DARPA envisions the implant to result in huge accomplishments, especially in terms of aiding individuals with aural and visual disabilities, such as retired soldiers who were injured in combat.

The agency also aims to use the implant for new therapies to help people with sight and hearing deficiencies by "feeding digital auditory or visual information into the brain."

In an interview with CNN, Conor Walsh, who teaches mechanical and biomedical engineering at the Harvard University, said the implant being developed by DARPA would "change the game."

"In the future, wearable robotic devices will be controlled by implants," Walsh said.

Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at Harvard, on the other hand, was not convinced of DARPA's plan, even describing it as "bunch of hype with no results."

"We have little to no idea how exactly the brain codes complex information," Pinker said in a separate CNN interview.

***

Natural News

Gene editing with no boundaries now aggressively pursued by China ... Plants, animals and even soldiers to all become GMOs

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 by: J. D. Heyes


(NaturalNews) American corporations are racing against Chinese companigenetically modify everything on the planetes to develop technology that would allow them to , including human beings.

As reported by Bloomberg News, Chinese firms are pouring no small amount of resources into building expertise on genomics. Also, the Chinese government is throwing money and resources at another tool, Crispr, a controversial genome-editing program, while encouraging its researchers and scientists to advance the technology.

Chinese scientists claim to be the first to use Crispr to make wheat resistant to a common fungal disease, to make dogs more muscular and to make pigs leaner.

As Bloomberg News reported further:

The scientific research bankrolled by the Chinese government could eventually be tapped by agricultural and pharmaceutical companies. Programs funded by Beijing are, among other things, working on disease-resistant tomatoes, breast cancer treatments and increasing the oil content in soy beans. In the southern city of Guangzhou, researchers who received government funds went a step further, sparking an international ethical debate last year after tweaking the genetic make up of human embryos using Crispr for the first time.

Formally known as Crispr-Cas9, the genetic editing tool works like two low-cost but highly precise molecular scissors, cutting out undesirable or unwanted portions of DNA, replacing it with desired ones. The system has essentially revolutionized what used to be a very time-consuming and expensive process that was also not very accurate. Now, scientists and countries are falling all over themselves to exploit and advance the technology, and for a range of uses and purposes – some of which are not likely to be ethical or smart.

In China, groups are developing expertise that will position them to eventually challenge U.S. companies, some of which have already raised millions of dollars in seed money.

The race is on

"I would rank the U.S. and China as first and second Crispr-Cas9 research countries, respectively, at this time. Both countries have much strength in this area," Paul Knoepfler, an associate professor of cell biology and human anatomy at the University of California's UC Davis School of Medicine, told Bloomberg News. Knoepfler recently published a book, GMO Sapiens, which put forth the notion that gene-editing and modification technology could be used to alter humans.

"The U.S. currently gets the edge in high-profile papers, Crispr biotech and intellectual property. China has published a lot in Crispr animals," he said.

Bloomberg News reported that the Boston Consulting Group estimated that U.S. companies entering the gene-editing field have amassed some $1 billion in investment since 2013. They include Editas Medicine Inc., Poseida Therapeutics Inc., and Intellia Therapeutics Inc., all of which are researching Crispr to address various health disorders.

Though the system has not yet proven effective in creating new treatments, Big Pharma sees Crispr as a potentially impactful tool, with hopes that it could eventually help create therapies for conditions ranging from cancer to blood diseases.

Stronger, faster soldiers and police officers?

Bloomberg News noted:

A Chinese team at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou last year became the first to report Crispr work in human embryos, attempting to edit a gene that causes the blood disorder, thalassemia. The study was at least partly funded by two government-run organizations, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and another called the National Basic Research Program.

Internationally, the research caused some angst, even though the Chinese scientists said that they only used "non-viable" human embryos – those obtained via fertility clinics that did not have any potential for live birth. The U.S. government does not fund any work that creates or destroys human embryos for research.

In China, however, there could be interest in using Crispr to modify humans – especially those who belong to the state's security apparatus.

One Chinese science team that snipped DNA which boosted muscle growth in dogs, allowing them to jump higher, run faster and be stronger, is eyeing using Crispr technology which "could potentially benefit the police and military in the future if applied to canine breeds commonly used by law enforcement agencies." From there, it's just one short step to altering human DNA for stronger, faster soldiers and police.

Sources:

WashPost.Bloomberg.com

JapanTimes.com

YouTube.com

NewsTarget.com

Science.NaturalNews.com

***

The Economist

Israel’s generals and their troubled relationship with the elected cabinet

Gaza has become a new civil-military flashpoint

Mar 14th 2016 | JERUSALEM | Middle East and Africa

ALL is not well between Israel’s cabinet and the generals who supposedly report to them. Major-General Herzl Halevi arrived at the Knesset on February 23rd for what was planned as a routine briefing for members of the defence committee of Israel’s parliament. Instead, the chief of military intelligence delivered a stark warning. Despite efforts by the Palestinian militant movement Hamas to maintain the ceasefire around the Gaza Strip, he said, the lack of economic development in the coastal enclave, currently under joint Israeli and Egyptian blockade, would inevitably lead to humanitarian catastrophe and another round of violence between Israel and Gaza.

What General Halevi left unsaid is that there has long been disagreement on Gaza’s future between Israel’s government and its men and women in uniform. Going back as far as the bloody coup in 2007, when Hamas seized full control of Gaza (from which Israel withdrew in 2005), the generals and members of the National Security Council have advised the politicians to find ways to help Gaza’s economy, opening up the blockade and building infrastructure, including a seaport there. The rationale is that better economic prospects would deter the Palestinians from firing missiles on Israeli towns. But successive Israeli governments, bolstered behind the scenes by neighbouring Egypt’s enmity towards Hamas, have not been enthused by these proposals.

Further discordant noises came recently from the chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), the well-regarded Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot. In a lecture to high school students, he seemed to criticise the response by security personnel to the outbreak of stabbings by young Palestinians over the past few months. He warned that “the IDF cannot speak in slogans such as ‘if someone comes to kill you, arise to kill them first’" and said "I don’t want a soldier to empty a (rifle) magazine on a 13 year-old girl with scissors.” General Eisenkot was referring to the fact that in more than 60% of the attempted stabbings in the last five months, the assailants were shot dead, even though in some of the cases, they no longer posed a threat. One such case occurred last week on the coast of Jaffa, when a volunteer police officer shot dead a 22 year-old Palestinian, who had stabbed one tourist dead and wounded 11 others—but was by that point lying incapacitated on the ground.

Without mentioning the politicians directly, this was an implied rebuke to the tone taken by some ministers who have rejected any questioning of Israeli methods. The army chief’s call for moderation was met with cries of indignation from members of the coalition. It took the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, four days to issue a rather grudging statement defending his chief of staff.

The tension between the government and the security establishment is largely due to the generals’ belief that economic incentives and dialogue will prove more efficient in curbing Palestinian attacks than further crackdowns. Last year, the main cause of disagreement was the generals’ reluctance to echo Mr Netanyahu’s warnings of the dire consequences of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the international community. In briefings they have even spoken of the “opportunities” the deal could afford Israel’s security.

Despite the IDF’s central role in Israeli society—where most of the Jewish majority take part in compulsory military service, and the army uniformly ranks in surveys as the most popular of national institutions—the generals are usually careful to not overstep the line in public. Ultimately they have deferred to their political masters. The most famous confrontation to take place behind closed doors was in 1967, when military leaders urged hesitant ministers for a pre-emptive attack against Egyptian forces massing on Israel’s border. The then prime minister, Levi Eshkol, insisted on waiting for weeks until he received what he believed was American backing for such an attack, before launching what became the Six-Day War.

In recent decades, under right-wing governments, the roles have largely been reversed, with the generals trying to hold back ministers’ more gung-ho tendencies. During the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, in 1987, army leaders infuriated the politicians by insisting that “there is no military solution to the intifada” and that only diplomatic means could end it.

Mr Netanyahu, who ended his own military career as a special-forces officer in his early 20s, has long seen senior career officers as part of the “leftist” elites who hamper his governments. During his first term as prime minister, in the late 1990s, he grumbled that the generals, who had been included by his predecessors Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in negotiating teams with the Palestinians, must “change the diskette”. The most dramatic showdown, however, was to come in 2010 when the heads of the IDF and Mossad, the intelligence service, both opposed Mr Netanyahu’s order to put the military on a war-footing towards a possible air strike on Iran’s nuclear installations. Now, as then, he should listen carefully to what they have to say.

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PRESSTV

Israel facing a more complex Intifada: Paper

Sat Mar 12, 2016 8:1AM

Palestinian protestors throw stones at Israeli troops (unseen) during clashes at the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip on Oct. 13, 2015. ©AFP

Israel is facing the third Palestinian Intifada (uprising), with preventive measures taken by Tel Aviv having failed to contain tensions, the Ha'aretz daily writes.

Israel “won’t call it this, but there’s no denying that Israel is facing a third Intifada,” the Israeli newspaper wrote on Saturday.

The daily referred to tensions as a “more complex” uprising compared to the first Intifada, that took place between 1987 and 1993, and the second one in the 2000s. A total of 6,200 Palestinians died during both Palestinian uprisings.

"What makes it different is that it's being carried out by individuals who aren't taking their lead from religious or political figures. And preventive measures run the risk of making matters worse," it said.

Most of the individuals involved in the new Intifada "are relatively young and have no organizational affiliation," Ha'aretz said.

Their motivations included “a clear desire to exact revenge on behalf of others who have been killed, and with general frustration at living conditions in the [Israeli-occupied] territories,” it added.

In contrast to many of operations a decade ago, "the perpetrators of stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks in the current Intifada do not huddle with clerics before setting out on their mission," Ha'aretz said.

"Psychological preparation for the attack takes place within the social networks or at meetings with two or three friends," it added.

“The response so far, including the determined refusal to recognize the events as a new Intifada, reflects a lack of faith by the [Israeli] leadership in the possibility of containing” it, the paper said.

The new Intifida began in August last year after the Israeli regime imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. It is also revered by Jews and Christians. The Palestinian protesters say Tel Aviv is trying to change the compound’s status quo.

Israel has resorted to heavy-handed tactics to quell the Palestinian uprising, dubbed by Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas as another Intifada against occupation.

Around 200 Palestinians, including children and women, have been killed by Israelis since last October.

The United Nations and several human rights organizations have slammed Israel for using excessive force, saying many killings are extra judicial.

They have also blamed Tel Aviv’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian lands as the root cause of the ongoing unrest.

2016 Prophetically Significant?

March 17, 2016 by SkyWatch Editor

By Dr. Thomas R. Horn, SkyWatch TV CEO

Recently I sat down with SkyWatch TV hosts Derek and Sharon Gilbert to make our television audience aware of the most mysterious facts involving how, over millennia prophets and seers from various cultures looked forward to the year 2016 specifically as a time when supernatural events would give rise to the Antichrist, Jewish Messiah, or Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Some of these predictions were hundreds of years old, others thousands of years, and from people groups that had no known method of communicating with one another. Researching this phenomenon almost a decade ago, I eventually published what some consider my Magnum Opus—the book Zenith 2016. The concept was simple; to ask ‘why’ so many saw this year we’ve entered as pivotal, and to watch whether or not they were correct in their predictions.

In general, the excitement (or dread, as the case may be) surrounded a variety of prognostications made by ancient sources concerning a portentous moment in time. Mankind would enter 2016 on course toward unprecedented global upheaval, according to these prophets, when the Earth, and all life upon it, would undergo apocalyptica marked by the sun rising in Sagittarius, the centaur with a bow—the symbol for Nimrod coming out from the mouth of Leviathan and the sun “god” rising again—Nimrod/Osiris/Apollo.

For instance, the “Cherokee Rattlesnake Prophecies,” also known as the “Chickamaugan Prophecy” or the “Cherokee Star Constellation Prophecies,” are part of a series of apocalyptic prophecies made by members of the Cherokee tribe during 1811–1812. Their divinations were very similar to Mesoamerican belief, and are viewed by scholars as likely referring to the return of Quetzalcoatl around 2016. Some of the other noteworthy “seers” of 2016’s prophetic significance came from ancient Rabbis and even protestant Christians. Some examples from the book Zenith 2016 include:

Prophecy from the Zohar on Messiah’s Return

Widely considered the most important work of Jewish Kabbalah, the Zohar is a collection of books written in medieval Aramaic over seven hundred years ago containing mystical commentary on the Pentateuch (five books of Moses, the Torah). In addition to interpreting Scripture, the Vaera section (volume 3, section 34) includes, “The signs heralding Mashiach,” or, “The coming of the Messiah.” This text describes how the Messiah would appear privately to Israel’s Rabbis and then slowly begin making himself know to the world in the years following. The fascinating date for his manifestation to Jewish religious leaders was set in the Zohar for 2012–2013. Given the rejection of Jesus by orthodox Jews as Messiah, this seven-hundred-year-old prediction indicates the Antichrist “arrived” circa 2012–2013. Several top Rabbis in Israel have said in recent days the Messiah is here and is about to make himself known.

The Eight-Hundred-Year-Old Prophecy of Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel

Will the years immediately following 2016 be prophetically important for Israel and the world? Some have noted when seventy years (what some consider a biblical generation) is added to 1948—the year Israel was formally recognized as an independent nation by the United Nations—it brings us through the year 2018. Does this mean the year 2019—exactly seven years after 2012—would mark the year that Jesus Christ returns with the armies of heaven to establish His rule over Earth? According to an eight-hundred-year-old prophecy, it certainly could. Before he died of cancer, J. R. Church analyzed the ancient predictions of Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel and noted:

Ludwig Schneider, writing for Israel Today (March 2008) said, “Some 800 years ago in Germany, Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel was a top Talmudic scholar with an inclination for the mystical. Before he died in the year 1217, he prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would conquer Jerusalem and rule the Holy City for ‘eight Jubilee Years.’” A biblical Jubilee year consists of 50 years. Fifty multiplied by eight equals 400 years.

Afterwards, according to Ben Samuel, the Ottomans would be driven out of Jerusalem, which would remain a no-man’s land for one Jubilee year. In the tenth Jubilee year [2017]…the Messianic end times would begin.…

Looking back at Ben Samuel’s prediction, we should note that the Ottoman Empire did conquer Jerusalem in 1517, exactly 300 years after the rabbi’s death, and was defeated 400 years later in 1917.

In Israel Today, Ludwig Schneider continues, “This came to pass 300 years after Ben Samuel’s death. He could not have based this prophecy on events that could be foreseen, but only on the results of his study of the Bible.

According to Leviticus 25, the nation is reunited with its land in the year of Jubilee. Therefore, the Jubilee year plays an important role in Israel’s history. In this case, the Jubilee began with the defeat and conquest of the Mamelukes in Jerusalem by the Ottoman Kingdom in 1517. The Turks reigned over Jerusalem until the British General Edmund Allenby defeated them exactly eight Jubilees later in 1917.

“Ben Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled precisely because 1517 to 1917 is exactly 400 years. Afterward, Jerusalem was a no-man’s land for 50 years during the time of the British Mandate (1917–1967) and the time of Jordanian rule (1947–1967), another Jubilee year. During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel captured Jerusalem from Jordan and the city returned to the Jewish people after nearly two millennia of exile. After that, the countdown for the Messianic age began.”

Schneider assumes that since Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel’s prediction appears to be fulfilled to date, then 2017 should launch the beginning of the Messianic era.[i]

Protestant Reformers and the Year 2016

Among the turn-of-the-century protestant reformers, there were an astonishing number of theologians that believed the False Prophet and Antichrist would take the stage in 2016! The famous preacher Jonathan Edwards was convinced of this possibility and held a postmillennial view based on the twelve hundred and sixty days the woman is in the wilderness in Revelation 12:6. He interpreted those days as the years that the true Church was to be oppressed by the papists. Clarence Goen writes of this, “Edwards considered that the most likely time for the…reign of Antichrist was 1260 years after AD 756 (the acceding of temporal power to the Pope),”[ii] which would place the apex of Antichrist’s power squarely in 2016. When we were doing research for the book, Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here, we learned of this belief by Edwards and sought to verify it by examining a collection of his personal voluminous writings. We found confirmation within a series of his sermons, preached at Northampton, Massachusetts in 1739, on how history and prophecy coincide. As Cris Putnam endeavored to demonstrate in our book Petrus Romanus, the pope’s rise to temporal power began when Pope Stephen began courting Pepin around 751 and then became a reality in 756 with the expulsion of the Lombards. Putnam quickly broke out his calculator and saw that 756 placed the target sometime in 2016 which can also be thought of as in the range of three and a half years from 2012. Around that same time during our investigation, we became aware of a sermon collection from the 1800s, titled, “Lectures on the Revelation,” by the Reverend William J. Reid, pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which were given over a period of time ending in March of 1876. Like Jonathan Edwards had over a hundred years earlier, Reid deduced the False Prophet and Antichrist would arrive sometime around 2016. Soon we uncovered numerous other turn of the century examples in which the year 2016 specifically was foreseen as when the False Prophet and the Antichrist would appear, followed by the destruction of Rome. These included:

  • The Theological Dictionary of Princeton University (1830)

  • Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament by Lowth and Lowman (1822)

  • The American Biblical Repository (1840)

  • Notes on the Revelation of St. John by Lowman (1773)

  • The Christian Spectator, “The Monthly” (1885)

  • Abridgement of Ecclesiastical History (1776)

  • The Works of the Rev. P. Doddridge, DD (1804)

  • The International Sunday School Lessons Pub (1878)

  • Character and Prospects on the Church of Rome in Two Discourses by the Rev. William Mackray (1829)

  • The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine (1809)

  • Lectures on Romanism by Joseph F. Berg (1840)

  • The Congregational Magazine for the Year (1834)

  • The Presbyterian Magazine (1858)

    DISCOVERING ISLAM
    End of Time Prophecies, Apocalypse & Eschatology

    (We thought you may find this of interest. An Islamic intrepatation of the End Times, particularly an emphesis on the years 2015-2016. Ed)

    In this section of our site, we discuss the End of Time (End Times or End of Days) , leading to End of the World (Doomsday, Last Day), followed by the Day of Resurrection (Day of Judgement). The End of Time is presented primarily from an Islamic perspective, but we also present some of the beliefs and Biblical prophecies of the Jews and the Christians regarding the End of Time, for the sake of comparison and to broaden the horizons of Muslims and our readers in general.

    1. When will the End of Time start ?

    Based on our numerical analysis of the Quran and Hadith, the official beginning of the End of Time and the coming of the Imam Mahdi will most likely be in 2015 (or 2016) and Jesus Christ (p) will come down from Heaven to Earth in 2022, in-sha Allah (if Allah is willing).

    All events we may witness before the official beginning of the End of Time are NOT part of the official End Times events.

    2. Three Important Individuals

    In Islam, Muslims expect at least 3 important individuals to appear, before the Day of Judgment, in following order: (a) Al-Mahdi, (b) The Dajjal (Anti-Christ), (c) Jesus Christ (p).

    Two of them are good men: (a) Sunni Muslims' Mahdi

    (b) Jesus Christ (p) (the Messiah).

    The third man is the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) will certainly be an evil man. The Dajjal means the Deceiver. There might be two evil persons appearing in the End Times, one in 2015 (or 2016) and one in 2022.

    It is worth noting that the Shia are expecting Imam Mahdi who, as portrayed in Shia's books, seems to be an evil man whom the Shia expect will persecute Sunni Muslims, resurrect and crucify Prophet Mohammad's صلى الله عليه وسلم Companions, Abu Bakr and Omar as well as Aisha (Prophet Mohammad's صلى الله عليه وسلم wife).

    Shia's Imam Mahdi is not likely to appear, but rather the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) may claim to be Shia's Imam Mahdi. However, we may witness the rise of one or more evil Shia leaders who may claim to be paving the way for Shia's Mahdi.

    3. What is the sequence of events?

    The following Hadiths present the sequence of events:

    حدثنا عباس العنبري حدثنا هاشم بن القاسم حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن ثابت بن ثوبان عن أبيه عن مكحول عن جبير بن نفير عن مالك بن يخامر عن معاذ بن جبل قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عمران بيت المقدس خراب يثرب وخراب يثرب خروج الملحمة وخروج الملحمة فتح قسطنطينية وفتح القسطنطينية خروج الدجال ثم ضرب بيده على فخذ الذي حدثه أو منكبه ثم قال إن هذا لحق كما أنك هاهنا أو كما أنك قاعد يعني معاذ بن جبل

    Mu'az ibn Jabal narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Omran (Re-building) of Jerusalem will be (lead to) Kharab (the pillaging and devastation) of Yathrib (Madina in Saudi Arabia). The pillaging of Yathrib will be (lead to) the outbreak of the Big Battle (with the Romans). The outbreak of the Big Battle will be (lead to) the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul, New York, or European city). The conquest of Constantinople will be (lead to) the coming of Dajjal (Anti-Christ). Then, ... said: This is as real as you (Mu'az ibn Jabal) are here or you are sitting." (Abu Dawud)

    Please note that the word "Omran" has the same numerical value as Banu Israel (Children of Israel). So, "Omran of Jerusalem" means "When the Children of Israel capture Jerusalem".

    Jaber bin Samra based on Nafi bin Otba reports that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: " ...You will march against (or attack) the Arabian Peninsula and Allah will open (conquer) it, then Persia and Allah will open (conquer) it. Then, you will march against (attack) the Romans' land and Allah will open (or conquer) it. Then, you will march against (attack) the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) (or Dajjal's land), and Allah will open (conquer) it." Then, Nafi said (to Jaber): "O' Jaber, we will not see the Dajjal emerge until the Romans' land has been conquered (by Allah for the Muslims)." (Sahih Muslim and Ibn Majah)

    4. Signs of the Day of Resurrection based on Sunni Sources

    Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim list the following important Hadith about the Hour:

    عن عمر رضي الله عنه أيضاً قال : بينما نحن جلوس عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات يوم إذ طلع علينا رجل شديد بياض الثياب شديد سواد الشعر، لا يُرى عليه أثر السفر، ولا يعرفه منا أحد ، حتى جلس إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فأسند ركبتيه إلى ركبتيه ، ووضع كفيه على فخذيه وقال : يا محمد أخبرني عن الإسلام؟ فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : (الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمداً رسول الله ، وتقيم الصلاة ، وتؤتي الزكاة ، وتصوم رمضان ، وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيل) . قال: صدقت . فعجبنا له يسأله ويصدقه . قال : فأخبرني عن الإيمان؟ قال : ( أن تؤمن بالله وملائكته ، وكتبه ، ورسله ، واليوم الآخر وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره ) . قال : صدقت . قال : فأخبرني عن الإحسان؟ قال : ( أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه ، فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك ) . قال : فأخبرني عن الساعة؟ قال : ( ما المسؤول عنها بأعلم من السائل ) . قال : فأخبرني عن أماراتها؟ قال : ( أن تلد الأمة ربتها ، وأن ترى الحفاة العراة العَالَةَ رعَاءَ الشَّاءِ يتطاولون في البنيان ) . ثم انطلق فلبثتُ ملياً ثم قال : ( يا عمر أتدري من السائل؟ ) قلت : الله ورسوله أعلم . قال : ( فإنهذا جبريل أتاكم يعلمكم دينكم ) .

    A variation of this Hadith appears in Sahih Muslim listed the Hadith as follows:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: كَانَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْما بَارِزا لِلنّاسِ. فَأَتَاهُ رَجُلٌ. فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ مَا الإِيمَانُ؟ قَالَ: "أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِالله وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَكِتَابِهِ وَلِقَائِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْبَعْثِ الاَخِرِ" قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ! مَا الإِسْلاَمُ؟ قَالَ: "الإِسْلاَمُ أَنْ تَعْبُدَ الله لاَ تُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئا، وَتُقِيمَ الصّلاَةَ الْمَكْتُوبَةَ، وَتُؤَدّيَ الزّكَاةَ الْمَفْرُوضَةَ، وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ". قَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ! مَا الإِحْسَانُ؟ قَالَ: "أَنْ تَعْبُدَ الله كَأَنّكَ تَرَاهُ. فَإِنّكَ إِنْ لاَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنّهُ يَرَاكَ". قَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ! مَتَى السّاعَةُ؟ قَالَ: "مَا الْمَسْؤُولُ عَنْهَا بِأَعْلَمَ مِنَ السّائِلِ. وَلَكِنْ سَأُحَدّثُكَ عَنْ أَشْرَاطِهَا: إِذَا وَلَدَتِ الأَمَةُ رَبّهَا فَذَاكَ مِنْ أَشْرَاطِهَا. وَإِذَا كَانَتِ الْعُرَاةُ الْحُفَاةُ رُؤسَ النّاسِ فَذَاكَ مِنْ أَشْرَاطِهَا. وَإِذَا تَطَاوَلَ رِعَاءُ الْبَهْمِ فِي الْبُنْيَانِ فَذَاكَ مِنْ أَشْرَاطِهَا، فِي خَمْسٍ لاَ يَعْلَمُهُنّ إِلاّ الله" ثُمّ تَلاَ صلى الله عليه وسلم: {إِنّ الله عِنْدَهُ عِلْمُ السّاعَةِ وَيُنَزّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الأَرْحَامِ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدا وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ. إِنّ الله عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ} (لقمان آية: 34). قَالَ ثُمّ أَدْبَرَ الرّجُلُ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "رُدّوا عَلَيّ الرّجُلَ" فَأَخَذُوا لِيَرُدّوهُ فَلَمْ يَرَوْا شَيْئا. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "هَذَا جِبْرِيلُ. جَاءَ لِيُعَلّمَ النّاسَ دِينَهُمْ".

    وأشار إليه الترمذي في باب حديث ابن عمر عن عمر . ورواه ابن ماجه بإسناد مسلم ولفظه إلى آخر الآية . ورواه الإمام أحمد عن إسماعيل حدثنا أبو حيان عن أبي زرعة بن عمر بن جرير عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه . . . . إلخ . وفيه : " وإذا كانت العراة الحفاة الجفاة " .

    وقال حدثنا محمد بن عبد الله بن نمير حدثنا محمد بن بشر حدثنا أبو حيان التيمي بهذا الإسناد مثله ، غير أن في روايته : " إذا ولدت الأمة بعلها " يعني السراري

    There are Minor & Major Signs that indicate Day of Resurrection (Day of Judgement or Doomsday) is approaching:

    A. Minor Signs

    The minor signs generally speaking are expected to occur before the Major signs start. However, it is possible to classify as minor signs, those signs which are either not too significant or not classified as Major Signs.

    No single Hadith lists all the minor signs, but there are hundreds of minor signs mentioned in hundreds of Hadiths. These Hadiths do not usually mention that they are Minor Signs. On the other hand, there are Hadiths that list all of the Major Signs. So, we can classify as Minor Signs, those signs not listed among the Major signs.

    Most of the Minor Signs have been fulfilled. The remaining few Minor Signs which have not been fulfilled yet include:

    (1) Major Earthquakes, Famines, Asteroids, and Epidemic diseases. Some of these Epidemic diseases could be intentionally produced and spread by evil powers, as a form of biological weapons.

    (2) Euphrates River (which passes through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq) will uncover a mountain of gold (meaning something very valuable). This is in the process of being fulfilled.

    (3) The return of the land of Arabs (Arabian Peninsula) to being green pastures and rivers, instead of its current condition as a desert. Based on Abu Huraira, Prophet Mohammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said: " The Hour (of Resurrection) will not come..... until the land of the Arabs (Arabian Peninsula) returns to being pastures ("paradises" according to Musnad Ahmad) and rivers." (Sahih Muslim, Musnad Ahmad). Saudi Arabia has already started to become green.

    (4) Lake of Tiberias in Palestine (also known as Sea of Galilee) will dry up. This prophecy and sign is in the process of being fulfilled. The water in the Sea of Galilee is drying up.

    Watch this video that shows Sea of Galilee is drying up:

    The Shia's Books mention an additional sign:

    The Construction of Two Bridges: The Shia believe the first bridge could be the bridge that connects Saudi Arabia to Bahrain which was completed in 1986. The second bridge they expect it to be the proposed bridge that will connect Saudi Arabia to Egypt. So far, Egypt has rejected the construction of such a bridge under pressure from Israel and the U.S. On the other hand, construction of a bridge connecting Qatar to Bahrain is expected to start this year, in 2010 and to be completed within 4-5 years.

    B. Major Signs

    In Islam, the major signs of the Day of Resurrection are mentioned in several Hadiths. The following Hadith is one of them (the signs in this Hadith do not necessarily have to occur in the same order mentioned in this Hadith):

    وفي صحيح مسلم : حدثنا أبو خيثمة، زهير بن حرب وإسحاق بن إبراهيم وابن أبي عمر المكي - واللفظ لزهير - (قال إسحاق: أخبرنا. وقال الآخران: حدثنا) سفيان بن عيينة عن فرات القزاز، عن أبي الطفيل، عن حذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري قال: اطلع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم علينا ونحن نتذاكر. فقال "ما تذاكرون؟" قالوا: نذكر الساعة. قال "إنها لن تقوم حتى ترون قبلها عشر آيات". فذكر الدخان،والدجال، والدابة، وطلوع الشمس من مغربها، ونزول عيسى ابن مريم صلى الله عليه وسلم، ويأجوج ومأجوج. وثلاثة خسوف: خسف بالمشرق، وخسف بالمغرب، وخسف بجزيرة العرب. وآخر ذلك نار تخرج من اليمن، تطرد الناس إلى محشرهم ".

    Huzaifa bin Usaid Al-Ghifari reported: Allah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم came to us all of a sudden as we were talking. He said: "What are you discussing?" We said: "We are talking about the Last Hour." Thereupon, he صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "It will not come until you see ten signs before it, he made a mention of: the Smoke, the Dajjal (Anti-Christ), the Daabba, the Rising of the Sun from the West, the Descent of Jesus Son of Mary عليه السلام (from Heaven), the emergence of Ya'juj and Ma'juj (Gog & MaGog), and Khusuf (Land Collapse) will occur in three places: one in the East, one in the West and one in Arabian Peninsula. At the end, a Fire would burn forth from Yemen (or from Aden according to Ahmad), which would drive people to the place of their final assembly (before they get resurrected by God)." (Sahih Muslim, Musnad Ahmad)

    ***

    CNN

    Rich and quirky: The ancient rituals of London's 'invisible' financial City

    By Matthew Ponsford, CNN

    Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT) March 14, 2016

    Story highlights

    Martin Parr is considered to be one of Britain's greatest living photographers

    He has been capturing the archaic rituals of London's financial quarter since 2013

    "City of London" is the name given to a square mile of central London, home to many

    global banks

    London (CNN)London's original financial quarter is a wall-ringed square mile piled thick with skyscrapers and Palladian palaces, populated by secretive institutions who live by laws of their own making, and whose doors are closed to anyone but the initiated.

    Here, we call this city-within-a-city -- to add to the confusion -- "the City of London," and this is where photographer Martin Parr has been welcomed for the last three years, with unprecedented access, inside the financial epicenter of Europe.

    Parr is one of Britain's most beloved living photographers and has been the photographer-in-residence in "the City" since 2013. He has amassed a collection of images revealing the mystifying traditions and rituals that continue to take place among the glistening skyscrapers -- plus a vast collection of odd hats.

    "It's full of contradictions and that's really what I liked," says 63-year-old Parr, whose new exhibition, "Unseen City", opened at the Guildhall Gallery -- within the City's ancient walls -- on 4 March.

    "What is amazing is there's all these traditions still going on. I mean the City is a very modern place, at the same time as being partly feudal."

    His subject is a global anomaly: due to a peculiar history of economic flourishing stretching back as far as Roman times, the British monarchy and Parliaments have permitted the City to operate a degree outside of the laws that govern the rest of the UK.

    Unlike the financial districts of New York or Hong Kong, the City of London is legally it's own city, separate from the much bigger London beyond -- with its own Mayor, its own police force and a unique democratic process where private companies vote for candidates drawn (by and large) from the City's 108 medieval guilds.

    It's confusing. But then Parr says this opaqueness fueled his interest, so too to see inside banqueting halls and ceremonies that would otherwise remain off-limits. Three years in, he says he still finds it hard to get his head around many of the City's quirks: mixing up the Aldermen and the City Sheriffs -- two ancient ranks of standing he describes as "rewards for City work."

    The 'Establishment'

    Thanks to its fantastic wealth, the City has been home to buildings that have dominated London's skyline for hundreds of years: St Paul's Cathedral, The Gherkin, and the looming, unloved Heron Tower. But the ability of the City of London's governing "Corporation" to remain overlooked -- governing itself for two thousand years, unnoticed -- is perhaps its greatest achievement of all, according to the Financial Times: "Invisible earnings, invisible power."

    While seeming idiosyncratic and obscure, critics say the City's archaic rituals (revealed in the collection of images above) hide a very modern system of tax avoidance and dangerous lobbying for unregulated banking -- both of which have consequences across the UK and the world.

    For Parr -- who describes the City dignitaries he met during the project as "perfectly respectful" -- the situation is more nuanced. The project is not critical -- he's a documentary photographer, he reminds -- but sets its sights on "The Establishment," at large.

    He says he will eventually pull sections from "Unseen City" together into a major work, along with recent trips to visit Oxford University, British soldiers stationed in Germany, and the UK's expensive elite schools.

    These are all points on a network you "cannot escape in the UK," says Parr: "I mean, they're the people that run the country."

    ***

    RINF

    Exposing The Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look At Hillary’s Emails

    Mar 14, 2016

    Critics have long questioned why violent intervention was necessary in Libya. Hillary Clinton’s recently published emails confirm that it was less about protecting the people from a dictator than about money, banking, and preventing African economic sovereignty.

    Ellen Brown

    (RINF) – The brief visit of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Libya in October 2011 was referred to by the media as a “victory lap.” “We came, we saw, he died!” she crowed in a CBS video interview on hearing of the capture and brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi.

    But the victory lap, write Scott Shane and Jo Becker in the New York Times, was premature. Libya was relegated to the back burner by the State Department, “as the country dissolved into chaos, leading to a civil war that would destabilize the region, fueling the refugee crisis in Europe and allowing the Islamic State to establish a Libyan haven that the United States is now desperately trying to contain.”

    US-NATO intervention was allegedly undertaken on humanitarian grounds, after reports of mass atrocities; but human rights organizations questioned the claims after finding a lack of evidence. Today, however, verifiable atrocities are occurring. As Dan Kovalik wrote in the Huffington Post, “the human rights situation in Libya is a disaster, as ‘thousands of detainees [including children] languish in prisons without proper judicial review,’ and ‘kidnappings and targeted killings are rampant’.”

    Before 2011, Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, its own food, its own oil, its own money, and its own state-owned bank. It had arisen under Qaddafi from one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country boasted the world’s largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Qaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.

    But that was before US-NATO forces bombed the irrigation system and wreaked havoc on the country. Today the situation is so dire that President Obama has asked his advisors to draw up options including a new military front in Libya, and the Defense Department is reportedly standing ready with “the full spectrum of military operations required.”

    The Secretary of State’s victory lap was indeed premature, if what we’re talking about is the officially stated goal of humanitarian intervention. But her newly-released emails reveal another agenda behind the Libyan war; and this one, it seems, was achieved.

    Mission Accomplished?

    Of the 3,000 emails released from Hillary Clinton’s private email server in late December 2015, about a third were from her close confidante Sidney Blumenthal, the attorney who defended her husband in the Monica Lewinsky case. One of these emails, dated April 2, 2011, reads in part:

    QADDAFI’S GOVERNMENT HOLDS 143 TONS OF GOLD, AND A SIMILAR AMOUNT IN SILVER . . . . THIS GOLD WAS ACCUMULATED PRIOR TO THE CURRENT REBELLION AND WAS INTENDED TO BE USED TO ESTABLISH A PAN-AFRICAN CURRENCY BASED ON THE LIBYAN GOLDEN DINAR. THIS PLAN WAS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE THE FRANCOPHONE AFRICAN COUNTRIES WITH AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE FRENCH FRANC (CFA).

    In a “source comment,” the original declassified email adds:

    ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGEABLE INDIVIDUALS THIS QUANTITY OF GOLD AND SILVER IS VALUED AT MORE THAN $7 BILLION. FRENCH INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS DISCOVERED THIS PLAN SHORTLY AFTER THE CURRENT REBELLION BEGAN, AND THIS WAS ONE OF THE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCED PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY’S DECISION TO COMMIT FRANCE TO THE ATTACK ON LIBYA. ACCORDING TO THESE INDIVIDUALS SARKOZY’S PLANS ARE DRIVEN BY THE FOLLOWING ISSUES:

    1. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

    2. Increase French influence in North Africa,

    3. Improve his internal political situation in France,

    4. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,

    5. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa

    Conspicuously absent is any mention of humanitarian concerns. The objectives are money, power and oil.

    Other explosive confirmations in the newly-published emails are detailed by investigative journalist Robert Parry. They include admissions of rebel war crimes, of special ops trainers inside Libya from nearly the start of protests, and of Al Qaeda embedded in the US-backed opposition. Key propaganda themes for violent intervention are acknowledged to be mere rumors. Parry suggests they may have originated with Blumenthal himself. They include the bizarre claim that Qaddafi had a “rape policy” involving passing Viagra out to his troops, a charge later raised by UN Ambassador Susan Rice in a UN presentation. Parry asks rhetorically:

    SO DO YOU THINK IT WOULD IT BE EASIER FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO RALLY AMERICAN SUPPORT BEHIND THIS “REGIME CHANGE” BY EXPLAINING HOW THE FRENCH WANTED TO STEAL LIBYA’S WEALTH AND MAINTAIN FRENCH NEOCOLONIAL INFLUENCE OVER AFRICA – OR WOULD AMERICANS RESPOND BETTER TO PROPAGANDA THEMES ABOUT GADDAFI PASSING OUT VIAGRA TO HIS TROOPS SO THEY COULD RAPE MORE WOMEN WHILE HIS SNIPERS TARGETED INNOCENT CHILDREN? BINGO!

    Toppling the Global Financial Scheme

    Qaddafi’s threatened attempt to establish an independent African currency was not taken lightly by Western interests. In 2011, Sarkozy reportedly called the Libyan leader a threat to the financial security of the world. How could this tiny country of six million people pose such a threat? First some background.

    It is banks, not governments, that create most of the money in Western economies, as the Bank of England recently acknowledged. This has been going on for centuries, through the process called “fractional reserve” lending. Originally, the reserves were in gold. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt replaced gold domestically with central bank-created reserves, but gold remained the reserve currency internationally.

    In 1944, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were created in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to unify this bank-created money system globally. An IMF ruling said that no paper money could have gold backing. A money supply created privately as debt at interest requires a continual supply of debtors; and over the next half century, most developing countries wound up in debt to the IMF. The loans came with strings attached, including “structural adjustment” policies involving austerity measures and privatization of public assets.

    After 1944, the US dollar traded interchangeably with gold as global reserve currency. When the US was no longer able to maintain the dollar’s gold backing, in the 1970s it made a deal with OPEC to “back” the dollar with oil, creating the “petro-dollar.” Oil would be sold only in US dollars, which would be deposited in Wall Street and other international banks.

    In 2001, dissatisfied with the shrinking value of the dollars that OPEC was getting for its oil, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein broke the pact and sold oil in euros. Regime change swiftly followed, accompanied by widespread destruction of the country.

    In Libya, Qaddafi also broke the pact; but he did more than just sell his oil in another currency.

    As these developments are detailed by blogger Denise Rhyne:

    FOR DECADES, LIBYA AND OTHER AFRICAN COUNTRIES HAD BEEN ATTEMPTING TO CREATE A PAN-AFRICAN GOLD STANDARD. LIBYA’S AL-QADHAFI AND OTHER HEADS OF AFRICAN STATES HAD WANTED AN INDEPENDENT, PAN-AFRICAN, “HARD CURRENCY.”

    UNDER AL-QADHAFI’S LEADERSHIP, AFRICAN NATIONS HAD CONVENED AT LEAST TWICE FOR MONETARY UNIFICATION. THE COUNTRIES DISCUSSED THE POSSIBILITY OF USING THE LIBYAN DINAR AND THE SILVER DIRHAM AS THE ONLY POSSIBLE MONEY TO BUY AFRICAN OIL.

    UNTIL THE RECENT US/NATO INVASION, THE GOLD DINAR WAS ISSUED BY THE CENTRAL BANK OF LIBYA (CBL). THE LIBYAN BANK WAS 100% STATE OWNED AND INDEPENDENT. FOREIGNERS HAD TO GO THROUGH THE CBL TO DO BUSINESS WITH LIBYA. THE CENTRAL BANK OF LIBYA ISSUED THE DINAR, USING THE COUNTRY’S 143.8 TONS OF GOLD.

    LIBYA’S QADHAFI (AFRICAN UNION 2009 CHAIR) CONCEIVED AND FINANCED A PLAN TO UNIFY THE SOVEREIGN STATES OF AFRICA WITH ONE GOLD CURRENCY (UNITED STATES OF AFRICA). IN 2004, A PAN-AFRICAN PARLIAMENT (53 NATIONS) LAID PLANS FOR THE AFRICAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY – WITH A SINGLE GOLD CURRENCY BY 2023.

    AFRICAN OIL-PRODUCING NATIONS WERE PLANNING TO ABANDON THE PETRO-DOLLAR, AND DEMAND GOLD PAYMENT FOR OIL/GAS.

    Showing What Is Possible

    Qaddafi had done more than organize an African monetary coup. He had demonstrated that financial independence could be achieved. His greatest infrastructure project, the Great Man-made River, was turning arid regions into a breadbasket for Libya; and the $33 billion project was being funded interest-free without foreign debt, through Libya’s own state-owned bank.

    That could explain why this critical piece of infrastructure was destroyed in 2011. NATO not only bombed the pipeline but finished off the project by bombing the factory producing the pipes necessary to repair it. Crippling a civilian irrigation system serving up to 70% of the population hardly looks like humanitarian intervention. Rather, as Canadian Professor Maximilian Forte put it in his heavily researched book Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa:

    [T]HE GOAL OF US MILITARY INTERVENTION WAS TO DISRUPT AN EMERGING PATTERN OF INDEPENDENCE AND A NETWORK OF COLLABORATION WITHIN AFRICA THAT WOULD FACILITATE INCREASED AFRICAN SELF-RELIANCE. THIS IS AT ODDS WITH THE GEOSTRATEGIC AND POLITICAL ECONOMIC AMBITIONS OF EXTRA-CONTINENTAL EUROPEAN POWERS, NAMELY THE US.

    Mystery Solved

    Hilary Clinton’s emails shed light on another enigma remarked on by early commentators. Why, within weeks of initiating fighting, did the rebels set up their own central bank? Robert Wenzel wrote in The Economic Policy Journal in 2011:

    THIS SUGGESTS WE HAVE A BIT MORE THAN A RAG TAG BUNCH OF REBELS RUNNING AROUND AND THAT THERE ARE SOME PRETTY SOPHISTICATED INFLUENCES. I HAVE NEVER BEFORE HEARD OF A CENTRAL BANK BEING CREATED IN JUST A MATTER OF WEEKS OUT OF A POPULAR UPRISING.

    It was all highly suspicious, but as Alex Newman concluded in a November 2011 article:

    WHETHER SALVAGING CENTRAL BANKING AND THE CORRUPT GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM WERE TRULY AMONG THE REASONS FOR GADHAFI’S OVERTHROW . . . MAY NEVER BE KNOWN FOR CERTAIN – AT LEAST NOT PUBLICLY.

    There the matter would have remained – suspicious but unverified like so many stories of fraud and corruption – but for the publication of Hillary Clinton’s emails after an FBI probe. They add substantial weight to Newman’s suspicions: violent intervention was not chiefly about the security of the people. It was about the security of global banking, money and oil.

    Ellen Brown is an attorney and founder of the Public Banking Institute. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt, and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

    (“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”1 Timothy 6:10)

    ***

    YourNewsWire.com

    Lord Rothschild Warns Of ‘Big Problems In 2016’

    Posted on March 14, 2016 by Sean Adl-Tabatabai in News, US

    Lord Rothschild has issued a stark warning to investors, saying that 2016 is likely to be a very difficult year for the world economy.

    In his letter to investors, Rothschild warns, “not surprisingly, market conditions have deteriorated further…So much so that the wind is certainly not behind us; indeed we may well be in the eye of a storm.” On this basis, Rothschild highlights a “daunting litany of problems,” warning those who are optimistically sanguine about the US economy that “2016 is likely to turn out to be more difficult than the second half of 2015.”

    Lord Rothschild Letter to Investors (via RIT Capital):

    In my half-yearly statement I sounded a note of caution, ending up by writing that “the climate is one where the wind may well not be behind us”; indeed we became increasingly concerned about global equity markets during the last quarter of 2015, reducing our exposure to equities as the economic outlook darkened and many companies reported disappointing earnings. Meanwhile central banks’ policy makers became more pessimistic in their economic forecasts for, despite unprecedented monetary stimulus, growth remained anaemic.

    Not surprisingly, market conditions have deteriorated further. So much so that the wind is certainly not behind us; indeed we may well be in the eye of a storm.

    ***

    FARS NEWS AGENCY

    ISIL Enraged after Suffering Heavy Losses to Hezbollah in East Lebanon

    Sun Mar 13, 2016 1:35

    TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group has posted a video on the Internet, promising to avenge their losses at the hands of Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces in the Baalbek Highlands this weekend.

    According to the video footage released by ISIL, the terrorist group stated that sooner or later they will get their revenge against the Lebanese Armed Forces, Hezbollah, and the Lebanese political elite that are attempting to eliminate their presence in Lebanon, Al-Masdar reported.

    The two ISIL militants that appeared in the video had a Lebanese Arabic accent; however, their identities could not be determined.

    Hezbollah overpowered the ISIL militants at the village of Beit Ali Al-Agha on Saturday, killing several terrorist combatants while also clearing large swathes of territory in the process.ISIL’s losses on Friday and Saturday marked their highest number of casualties in east Lebanon this year.

    ***

    RUSSIA BEGINS WITHDRAWING FROM SYRIA

    Ceasefire failures and a return to (a much worse) war

    Kurt Nimmo | Infowars.com - MARCH 14, 2016

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the “main part” of his military to begin withdrawing from Syria.

    “I consider the mission set for the Defense Ministry and the armed forces on the whole has been accomplished,” he said during a meeting at the Kremlin. “I am therefore ordering the Defense Ministry to begin the withdrawal of the main part of our military force from the Syrian Arab Republic from tomorrow.”

    Putin did not specify how many troops would leave. He said, however, Russia’s Hmeimim airbase and its Mediterranean port at Tartus will continue normal operations.

    Ceasefire Violations

    Numerous violations of a US and Russian brokered ceasefire have occurred since February 27.

    On Monday the Russian Defense Ministry said the ceasefire was violated at least 14 times over the last 24 hours in Latakia, Daraa, Damascus and Hama.

    The ministry blamed Ahrar al-Sham for a mortar attack on Klyaba Kinsiba and Jabal-Alakaya in the Latakia province.

    Ahrar al-Sham is backed by Saudi Arabia. Its goal is to remove al-Assad and establish and Islamic government and impose sharia law in Syria.

    The United States and France have warned the government of Bashar al-Assad about responding to attacks by groups that have not signed on to the ceasefire and Secretary of State John Kerry has warned the Syrian government and Russia against “testing boundaries.”

    Plan B: A Return to War

    The Russian withdrawal follows the start of a new round of peace talks in Geneva to resolve the conflict. The agenda includes UN Security Council resolution 2254 focusing on the formation of a new transitional government, issues of governance, a new constitution and UN-monitored presidential and parliamentary elections within 18 months.

    The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) insists al-Assad will have no part in a new government. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallam said any talk of removing Assad during the transitional period was “a red line.”

    Kerry characterized al-Moallam’s remark as “a spoiler” designed to derail peace talks.

    Staffan de Mistura, a Swedish-Italian diplomat who is the UN special envoy to Syria, said the alternative to the US and Saudi deal is a return to war.

    “As far as I know the only Plan B is a return to war, and a much worse war than before,” he said.

    ***

    ACTIVIST POST

    What The Russian “Withdrawal” From Syria Means And What It Doesn’t

    MARCH 15, 2016

    By Brandon Turbeville

    With the recent announcement by Vladimir Putin that Russia is beginning a withdrawal of specific military personnel and equipment from Syria on Tuesday, March 15, the Western corporate media has been on fire with speculation that Russia is evacuating the country, retreating, and giving up on its military objectives. Indeed, the Western press is presenting the Russian announcement as a total withdrawal and a quick move out the exit door.

    Those who are both pro-Assad and anti-Assad have all shared their opinions, with many even on the pro-Assad/pro-Russian side opposing the Russian scale down of military involvement out of fear that the Russians are abandoning Assad. At the crux of this opposition to the Russia move, of course, is the fundamental misunderstanding of what the “withdrawal” actually is.

    The Withdrawal

    Despite the presentation of the Russian announcement as a total pullout from Syria, coming with everything except pictures of Syrian civilians hanging on to helicopters and airplanes being dumped at sea, the “withdrawal” is merely the reduction of specific military personnel and equipment. The withdrawal is not really a withdrawal in the sense that most readers would understand it. Instead, it is being presented as such by Western press outlets for propaganda purposes.

    Remember, Putin has made it clear that the Tartus port will remain open and that the airbases Russia has previously established and operated from will remain functional. Russia is also continuing to drop bombs on ISIS positions. Indeed, on the night before the “withdrawal” was scheduled to begin, Russian planes obliterated a number of ISIS strongholds near Palmyra.

    Thus, it should be understood that the Russian “withdrawal” is not a retreat, but simply a scale down of specific forces and readjustment of strategy.

    It should also be pointed out that Russian objectives were never to seize and hold Syrian territory as an occupying force. That was the plan of the Americans. Russian objectives were to disrupt and defeat ISIS and shore up the Assad government. Russia has done that and is continuing to do it.

    The Reason For The Withdrawal Announcement

    So why would Putin announce a partial “withdrawal,” especially since we can presume that he would be well aware of the way in which he would be represented in the Western press? Why would Putin feel the need to make the announcement public at all? Why not simply make the directive, allow it to be carried out, and maintain the public perception that Russia is still fully involved in Syria?

    Most likely, the Russian announcement was more politically based than anything else. For instance, one aspect of the announcement, particularly since it coincides with the new “ceasefire” agreement and the United Nations “peace talks,” is that it allows Russia to appear as the most rational actor in the fight and the side most committed to actual peace in Syria. This has been Russia’s methodology since the beginning of its involvement in the crisis where the United States – when forced to go toe to toe with Russia politically – has ended up with egg on its face every time.

    Remember, when the U.S. wanted to invade Syria under the pretext of chemical weapons usage, the Russians swooped in and negotiated a deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. Many had valid arguments against the disarmament, but, politically speaking, Russia came away looking diplomatic and peaceful while the West, especially the U.S., came away looking like the bloodthirsty warmonger that it is.

    On numerous occasions, when the U.S. was screaming at the top of its lungs that peace could only come from “rebel” victory or the removal of Assad, the Russians came in and organized “peace talks” of their own. These talks ultimately failed but the result portrayed the Russians as the side leaning toward peace and diplomacy while the U.S. was bent on bloody warfare. Russia has been incredibly shrewd and effective on the political front as well as the military front, and the recent announcement seems to be one more aspect of that strategy.

    The second aspect is that, domestically, Russia is now able to tout a “mission accomplished” moment, a sort of victorious military triumph, without actually landing on an aircraft carrier and declaring the mission officially over while troops are engaged in a bloodbath on the ground. Putin is able to have his cake and eat it too by pointing out that some military objectives have been achieved but still not claiming the mission is over and leaving Assad to the wolves. It is both an international stance toward peace and a domestic stance toward victory even if for no other reason than public relations.

    Going Forward

    As mentioned earlier, Russia has reaffirmed that not only is the airbase in Latakia and the naval facility in Tartus continuing to operate, but that it will continue air operations against ISIS forces in Syria. Only a day after Putin’s announcement, Russian Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov stated that “Certain positive results have been achieved. A real chance has emerged to put an end to this long-running standoff. But it is still early to talk about victory over terrorism. The Russian aviation group has the task to continue carrying out strikes on terrorist facilities.”

    So with the ceasefire agreement barely holding on, the “peace talks” taking place at the United Nations, and the threat of a Turkish/GCC invasion of Syria looming in the background, the question now is whether or not the situation will gradually trend toward peace and de-escalation or whether it will in fact escalate to a wider war between the opposing forces in Syria as well as other interested international actors.

    After all, Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for the Syria crisis, has already described the talks as essentially the only thing holding back an even wider full-scale war in Syria. While he made no effort to clarify what he meant by comment, the world outside of the Western countries are generally aware of the American agenda in Syria. Informed observers generally recognize that the NATO bloc, along with Israel and the GCC, are not content to simply admit they have been routed, pick up their ball, and go home. They continue to adapt their own methods in much the same way as the Russians and will respond as soon as they have surveyed the chessboard and have selected their next move.

    An adjustment of strategy can take many forms but the most concerning is the possible NATO commitment to some type of gamble where it is believed or assumed that the Russians will indeed retreat instead of fight back in the event of a direct military invasion by the regional players and/or the United States.

    If such a catastrophic military move ever happens, it will be one that affects every human being on the planet as it would pit two nuclear powers in conflict with one another.

    Conclusion

    Regardless, the manner in which the Russian announcement has been portrayed in the corporate Western press has served only to stir up a number of panicked responses from confused onlookers while, at the same time, providing a complete mystification of the true situation on the ground. Thus, it will become even more confusing to any casual observer attempting to gain any accurate representation of the Syrian crisis.

    Unfortunately, what makes a leader look weak in the eyes of many Americans may very well make him look honorable in the eyes of the rest of the world, particularly those parts of it continuing to suffer under American imperialism, war, and destabilization.

    ***

    SPUTNIK

    Doomsday Weapon: Russia’s New Missile Shocks and Dazzles US, China

    13:36 09.03.2016(updated 13:38 09.03.2016)

    Russia’s advanced RS-26 intercontinental ballistic missile has raised admiring

    eyebrows of military experts everywhere, the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper wrote.

    In a Chinese television program aired earlier this month a local defense expert hailed the unique characteristics of the Russian ICBM and the fear it had instilled in the hearts of foreign militaries, Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote.

    “Russia’s new RS-26 missile travels along a continuously changing trajectory and as such it has no analogues in the world,” the expert said.

    When asked about the US missile defense system, he said that it was “absolutely useless” against the RS-26.

    “This one is even better than the famous Topol-M missile… Its warheads are supersonic and change their course all the time. Some of them will penetrate any existing missile defense shield and will hit their target,” the expert added.

    When asked whether the new Russian ICBM had caught the Americans flatfooted, the expert said that not only the Americans were clueless but that the Chinese too now had something to worry about.

    “Russia is 100-percent safe now, unlike everybody else,” he emphasized.

    What makes the RS-26 so special is that even though it weighs just 80 tons, compared to the 120-ton heft of its RS-24 Yars predecessor, the Rubezh packs a frightening 1,2 megatons into its four 300 kiloton warheads.

    With a potential range of 11,000 kilometers the RS-26 can hit targets all across the United States.

    Moreover, its booster stage is down to under five minutes, which means that NATO radars in Europe will have no time to register the launch.

    Adding to NATO air defenders’ worries, during the descending section of its trajectory, with only a few hundred kilometers left to the target, the missile’s warheads suddenly take a dive, lose altitude, and continue the approach as a cruise missile.

    These new Russian ICBM warheads were developed in response to America’s plans to deploy a global missile defense system along Russia's borders.

    The RS-26 Rubezh is expected to become operational in 2016.

    ***

    SPUTNIK

    Erdogan’s Conundrum: What Could Trigger Military Coup in Turkey

    © REUTERS/ Umit Bektas

    MIDDLE EAST

    14:05 12.03.2016(updated 14:15 12.03.2016)

    The current state of affairs in Turkey is triggering concern. Ankara is facing the dangerous combination of deepening political polarization in the society, a slump in economic growth, and escalating tensions both at home and abroad.

    Unlike the political and economic turmoil in the 1970s and 1990s, the current crisis is largely a result of the conflict between Turkey’s pragmatic domestic and foreign policy and its actual push for leadership, Pavel Shlykov, an associate professor at the Asian and African Studies Institute of the Moscow State University, said in his report.

    The current Turkish crisis can be described with several specific features.

    First, all spheres of the country’s political and social life as well as all its state institutions are engulfed in the crisis.

    Second, public incertitude is growing about the future. People realize that the existing model of social and political development is jaded.

    Third, the Turkish military is gradually building up its political influence, thus laying grounds for a military coup.

    Is Ankara Using Refugee Crisis to Force EU Leaders to Agree on No-Fly Zone in Syria?

    Fourth, recently the Kurdish problem has entered the new stage, and the situation in south-eastern Turkey can be described as a lukewarm civil war between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces.

    Furthermore, the conflict in Syria is influencing Ankara’s foreign and domestic policy.

    Finally, the political prospects of the ruling Justice and Development Party (founded by Recep Tayyip Erdogan) are vague in the current environment.

    Erdogan and the Turkish military

    In his report presented at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Shlykov analyzed the question: is a military coup possible in Turkey?

    Active involvement of the military in political processes has been part of Turkish history. In the 2000s, Erdogan announced the reforming of relations between the military and civic institutions. Under his political course, the military would not dictate its policy to the government.

    A military coup in Turkey would be possible if three criteria are met simultaneously: further deepening of the political crisis, a rising external threat, and the spike escalation of the Kurdish issue. And currently, all of the above is evident, according to the analyst.

    After Ankara suspended the peace process with Turkish Kurds Erdogan had to form some kind of a tactical alliance with the military elite who he oppressed in 2007-2008.

    The cooperation between Erdogan and the military became obvious in autumn 2015, during a military operation in south-eastern regions mostly inhabited by Kurds. At the time, Ankara gave a blank cheque to the army command. In order to take advantage of the situation, Erdogan admitted that his previous policy toward the military was wrong. Moreover, he found a scapegoat for his "mistakes" – exiled Turkish preacher Fethulah Gulen currently residing in Pennsylvania.

    Of course, at the present time the Turkish army is one the most powerful political forces in Turkey. But it is unlikely to stage a coup (like it happened in 1960, 1971 and 1980), Shlykov pointed out. The military doubts they would enjoy broad public support.

    In the modern Turkey, the army also plays another important role – to counterbalance Erdogan’s risky foreign policy ambitions. A year ago, the military barely prevented him from invading Syria, and the situation repeated last month.

    The Kurdish problem

    Turkey has been facing the Kurdish issue in its current state for over 30 years. According to estimates, there are 15-20 million Kurds in Turkey, which accounts for 15 percent of the population. At the same time, the Kurdish minority has historically been highly atomized.

    From a political perspective, Turkish Kurds can be divided into three groups: nationalist supporters of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), Alawite Kurds supporting leftist and social-democratic ideas, and the religious conservative majority (50 percent of the population) who in the 2000s were loyal to Erdogan’s party.

    The support of the Kurdish majority for the Justice and Development Party played in to the hands of Ankara. Thus, the conservative majority was excluded from the Kurdish problem and was integrated into the country’s social and political system. But everything changed after the Syrian war began and when Daesh (also known as Islamic State/ISIL) appeared. In this situation, the Kurds proved their readiness for national and political consolidation.

    After Ankara refused to help the besieged Kurdish town of Kobani at the Syrian-Turkish border, the conservative majority abandoned their loyalty to Erdogan and his party. They were even more disappointed after dialogue between the Turkish government and Kurds stopped.

    Another important factor destabilizing Turkey is the porous 822-km-long border with war-ravaged Syria. Extremists are coming to Turkey from Syria not only to recover from wounds in Turkish hospitals (Erdogan has repeatedly been criticized for this) but also to stage terrorist attacks, undermining country’s national security.

    However, according to the report, the rising threats to national security will not consolidate Turkish society, but instead will only deepen its political rifts. Unlike before, the military standoff with the Kurds is not broadly supported by Turks.

    The Syrian trap

    In 2015, the developments in Syria were not favorable for Ankara. After the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian jet last November Turkey lost the chance to influence the situation in Syria.

    Over the past weeks, Turkey’s pro-government media has reported that now is the perfect time to intervene into the Syrian conflict. However, those reports were aimed only to consolidate public opinion.

    There are several reasons that Turkey is unlikely to launch an operation in Syria.

    First, in technical terms, any ground operation would require aerial support. Currently, the Syrian airspace is controlled by the Russian Aerospace Forces, and Turkish jets will not be allowed there.

    Second, an intervention in Syria would have serious diplomatic problems for Ankara. The operation would be supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies. However, it will spark a conflict with the US and Russia. What is more, during such an operation the Turkish military would have to fight on several fronts at the same time; against the Syrian Army, Daesh, opposition groups, and Kurdish militia. It is obvious that Erdogan is not ready to take the risk.

    Finally, if Turkey becomes involved in the Syrian war, they would also end up fighting the Kurds in the south-eastern parts of the country. Consequently, the conflict may spread across the entire of Turkey.

    Turkey at a crossroads

    Since the era of Kemal Ataturk who tried to create a controllable opposition force in Turkey, all experiments with democracy have turned pear shaped.

    In his first years in power, Erdogan launched a number of political and economic reforms aimed at integrating with the European Union. Until 2007, his course was viewed as modernization. But then, especially following the 2010 constitutional reform, the setbacks began.

    Currently, Turkey is at a crossroads. The choice is between a super-presidential republic ruled by Erdogan and further development as a liberal-democratic European-like state but with some specific characteristics.

    The future of Turkey depends on its leader. According to the constitution, the head of state is Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. But in fact, power is concentrated in the hands of President Erdogan.

    Davutoglu is Erdogan’s protégé and is much weaker as a politician than Erdogan. But if he could find courage to restrict Erdogan’s power chances for a liberal Turkey would significantly improve, the analyst noted.

    Rift with Russia

    After Turkey shot down a Russian bomber in Syria in late November tensions between Moscow and Ankara turned into hostility. Any improvement is unlikely in the coming future.

    Second, in order to normalize ties with Russia, Turkey may sacrifice one of its high-profile politicians, by shifting responsibility for the incident.

    Third, a road to reconciliation may be very long. In this case, neither Russia nor Turkey would be ready to compromise, and the conflict would dry out in the long-term perspective.

    As for now, the situation is developing according to the third variant. The world is now witnessing a deep conflict between Moscow and Ankara, which could ease with its main participants leaving the stage, the analyst concluded.

    ***

    PRESSTV

    Erdogan calls for ‘redefining’ terrorism

    Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:31PM

    A woman reacts as she is pushed by police in Istanbul on March 14, 2016 during an anti-government protest in memory of the victims of a car bombing in Ankara the day before. (AFP)

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for his country to “redefine” terror and terrorists after a deadly blast rocked the capital Ankara.

    On Monday, Erdogan announced that the new definition would expand the country’s legal scope to encompass journalists, activists, legislators, and academics.

    "Either they are on our side, or on the side of the terrorists," he said, adding that there was no difference between "a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims" of terrorists.

    The announcement followed a deadly car bomb explosion in the centrally-located Kizilay district of Ankara on Sunday that claimed the lives of at least 37 people and injured over a hundred more.

    'Serious findings' point finger at PKK

    Earlier, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that there are strong indications that the blast was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey deems as a terrorist organization.

    "There are very serious, almost certain findings that point to the separatist terrorist organization," he told reporters while visiting those injured in the incident.

    He added that 11 suspects had so far been detained over links to the attack and that DNA testing was underway to identify the attackers.

    As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the blast, but Turkey launched retaliatory air strikes on PKK depots and shelters in the mountainous Kandil and Gara regions in northern Iraq on Monday.

    The latest bombing occurred less than a month after 29 people lost their lives in a car bomb attack in central Ankara, which the Turkish government blamed on the PKK despite being claimed by a separate Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK).

    Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the group in northern Iraq.

    The operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

    ANTI MEDIA

    Be Paying Attention to Fukushima 5 Years Later

    Claire Bernish

    March 11, 2016

    (ANTIMEDIA) Japan — March 11th marks the five-year anniversary of one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, which triggered an unprecedented melange of disasters of human and natural causes — including the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl in 1986: Fukushima.

    Five years ago today, as Popular Mechanics summarized, the “earth moved more than 20 meters over a 500-mile zone and the resulting earthquake released as much energy as a 45-megaton hydrogen bomb (to put this in perspective, this is 30,000 times more powerful as the bomb that leveled Hiroshima). It was the fourth-strongest earthquake recorded since 1900 and the strongest earthquake to strike Japan in recorded history. The quake shifted the Earth’s axis by somewhere between 4 and 10 inches, altering the length of a day by nearly 2 microseconds.”

    This release of energy set off an epic tsunami, reaching a height of around 40 meters (140 feet) before making landfall on the Japanese coast, obliterating nearly every building in its path; more than a million buildings were destroyed or damaged. Perched on the coast, of course, was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, whose three functioning reactors, units 1, 2, and 3, were knocked offline by the quake — as they were designed to do — and were operating under power of backup diesel generators.

    A seawall, intended to shield the plant from just such a tsunami, proved to be as ineffectual as critics had previously warned. Seawater immediately inundated the emergency generators, knocking out the only source of power keeping necessary cool water circulating over the nuclear fuel rods. Though emergency crews scrambled in the ensuing chaos to find alternative means for cooling the reactors’ cores, it became clear their mission was one of containing the scope of the disaster rather than restoring the plant.

    Chemical reactions from the series of events caused pockets of hydrogen to build up in support buildings — and for days after the initial disaster — resulting in a number of explosions that were captured in dramatic video by surveillance aircraft.

    Government officials fumbled emergency procedures — by many accounts there were delays and misinformation in abundance immediately following the catastrophe — which arguably placed the health of the population in question. All told, the evacuation eventually comprised an area of 20 km (12 miles) surrounding the crippled nuclear plant.

    Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operated Fukushima, has conducted a notoriously botched cleanup and containment effort ever since. Five years have seen even the attempt to locate the missing fuel — which heated to the point the rods ‘melted’ through their containment vessels — become a largely fruitless endeavor. In fact, it’s not at all clear where the highly radioactive fuel is located now.

    “It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant,” Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO’s head of decommissioning, stated in an interview, Newsweek reported. “The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”

    Camera-laden, specialized robots — each taking two years to develop — sent inside the plant to locate the missing fuel have all become incapacitated once radiation interferes with their wiring.

    Water must be constantly pumped over the destroyed cores in an effort to keep them cool, but once used for that purpose, it must also be pumped out — and cannot be reused. TEPCO hastily constructed storage tanks to hold this radioactive water waste, and though some improvements have been made to their design since the early days following the calamity, there are reports of constant leaks and seepages — including into the sea.

    TEPCO’s effort to contain radioactivity to the site, by manufacturing an underground wall of ice to prevent the inflow of groundwater, has been similarly futile. Though the first stages of the wall were completed in February, critics are concerned both with the amount of time the project has taken and whether it will ultimately pay off.

    “The reactors continue to bleed radiation into the groundwater and thence into the Pacific Ocean,” said former nuclear engineer, Artie Gunderson, according to Newsweek. “When Tepco finally stops the groundwater, that will be the end of the beginning.”

    Though the suggestion has been made to entomb the plant by encasing radioactive contaminants in a material like concrete — as was the ultimate solution for Chernobyl — officials believe Fukushima’s location next to the Pacific would endanger the environment.So far, TEPCO and Japanese government officials have been unable to develop a clear plan of action for decommissioning Fukushima. Estimates vary for the length of time needed to effectively carry out the massive project, though they concur it will take decades.

    WND

    U.S.-BOUND MISSILES FOUND ON PASSENGER FLIGHT

    Bomb-sniffing dog makes Hellfire discovery in Serbia

    Published: March 14, 2016

    CHERYL CHUMLEY

    Air Serbia is helping with an investigation into missiles aboard a flight headed for Portland.

    Authorities in Serbia discovered two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles aboard a passenger plane leaving Lebanon for Portland.

    N1 television said a bomb-sniffing dog found the package with the armor-piercing missiles after an Air Serbia flight from Beirut touched down in Belgrade.

    Media outlets reported the the final destination for missiles, which were packed in wooden coffins, was listed as Portland.

    The AGM-114 Hellfire is made by Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrup Grumman and can be fired from air, sea or ground facilities.

    “We don’t have any information on [this] yet,” said Jennifer Adams, a spokesperson for the FBI in Portland, the Associated Press reported.

    Air Serbia is helping with the investigation, AP reported.

    Loretta Lynch and the Government War on Free Speech

    Posted By admin On March 14, 2016 @ 7:18 am In Featured

    Ron Paul

    Prison Planet.com

    March 14, 2016

    Ron Paul: Loretta Lynch and the Government War on Free Speech

    During her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted that she asked the FBI to examine whether the federal government should take legal action against so-called climate change deniers.

    Attorney General Lynch is not responding to any criminal acts committed by climate change skeptics. Instead, she is responding to requests from those frustrated that dissenters from the alleged climate change consensuses have successfully blocked attempts to create new government programs to fight climate change.

    These climate change censors claim that the argument over climate change is settled and the deniers’ success in blocking congressional action is harming the public. Therefore, the government must disregard the First Amendment and silence anyone who dares question the reigning climate change dogma. This argument ignores the many reputable scientists who have questioned the magnitude, effects, and role of human action in causing climate change.

    If successful, the climate change censors could set a precedent that could silence numerous other views. For example, many people believe the argument over whether we should audit, and then end, the Federal Reserve is settled. Therefore, the deniers of Austrian economics are harming the public by making it more difficult for Congress to restore a free-market monetary policy. So why shouldn’t the government silence Paul Krugman?

    The climate change censorship movement is part of a larger effort to silence political speech. Other recent examples include the IRS’s harassment of tea party groups as well as that agency’s (fortunately thwarted) attempt to impose new rules on advocacy organizations that would have limited their ability to criticize a politician’s record in the months before an election.

    The IRS and many state legislators and officials are also trying to force public policy groups to hand over the names of their donors. This type of disclosure can make individuals fearful that, if they support a pro-liberty group, they will face retaliation from the government.

    Efforts to silence government critics may have increased in recent years; however, the sad fact is the US Government has a long and shameful history of censoring speech. It is not surprising that war and national security have served as convenient excuses to limit political speech. So-called liberal presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt both supported wartime crackdowns on free speech.

    Today, many neoconservatives are using the war on terror to justify crackdowns on free speech, increased surveillance of unpopular religious groups like Muslims, and increased government control of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Some critics of US foreign policy have even been forbidden to enter the country.

    Many opponents of government restrictions on the First Amendment and other rights of Muslims support government actions targeting so-called “right-wing extremists.” These fair-weather civil liberties defenders are the mirror image of conservatives who support restricting the free speech rights of Muslims in the name of national security, yet clam to oppose authoritarian government. Defending speech we do not agree with is necessary to effectively protect the speech we support.

    A government that believes it can run our lives, run the economy, and run the world will inevitably come to believe it can, and should, have the power to silence its critics. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state is the key to protecting our free speech, and other liberties, from an authoritarian government.

    Until next week...keep on believing.
    Almondtree Productions
    “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the

    kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”
    Matthew 13:11


    http://www.missionarychristian.org