Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Hezbollah Moves Operations To Tyre In Mysterious Departure From Israeli Border

Hizballah distances its forces from proximity with Israeli troops, moves its S. Lebanon HQ to Tyre

Hizballah quietly pulled its forces in S. Lebanon back from close quarters with Israeli troops on Monday, Dec. 17, and changed their operational format, DEBKAfile reports exclusively from military sources. It is too soon to determine what exactly the Lebanese group is up to as regards its next steps, except that the move came a day after the IDF uncovered a fourth cross-border tunnel. Hizballah also silenced its military communications network in South Lebanon and stopped relaying instructions to its command centers and field troops.

In addition – 
  • The main Hizballah commandcenter for S. Lebanon was suddenly whisked out of Maaroub near the Litani River across to prepared structures at the Mediterranean town of Tyre in a smooth and apparently well-prepared operation. 
  • The personnel manning Hizballah’sobservation towers facing the Israeli border abruptly abandoned their posts,leaving only a handful of watchers.
  • Hizballah agents, who had hung around the border, disguised as local farmers, beggars or shepherds, to watch every movement of the IDF excavations, disappeared. They also stopped trying to whip up local Lebanese civilians for protests on the Israeli border.  
  • The vehicles with fluttering yellow Hizballah flags which had been driving back and forth opposite the IDF operations have also vanished.
  • The hush descending on Hizballah’s communications network has extended to the cell phones used by its operatives.
One theory to account for Hizballah’s abrupt distancing of its S.  Lebanese units from contact with the IDF is that it is part of a strategy for fending off a US condemnation resolution at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Another is that the IDF will soon finishing uncovering the rest of the Hizballah tunnels and, when that happens, a clash of arms may be expected. Hizballah is preparing for that moment by aligning its military at arm’s length from the IDF.

'Yellow Vests' And The Downward Mobility Of The Middle Class

"Yellow Vests" and the Downward Mobility of the Middle Class

The middle class, virtually by definition, is not prepared for downward mobility. A systemic, semi-permanent decline in the standard of living isn't part of the implicit social contract that's been internalized by the middle class virtually everywhere:living standards are only supposed to rise. Any decline is temporary.
Downward mobility is the key context in the gilets jaunes "yellow vest" movement in France. Taxes and prices rise inexorably while wages/pensions stagnate. The only possible outcome of this structural asymmetry is a decline in the standard of living.

This structural decline in the standard of living of the middle class is complex.One of the definitive identifying characteristics of the middle class is that is supposed to be largely immune to the insecurity and precariousness that characterize much of the working class.
In other words, this isn't supposed to happen to us. This is especially true in nations with longstanding generous social welfare programs: should the unexpected happen and a household's income declines, the state is supposed to step in and fill the gap with subsidies, unemployment insurance, cash payments, etc. until the household recovers its previous standard of living.
None of that is happening. The erosion of middle class standards of living is not abrupt enough to qualify for social welfare programs; the erosion is gradual, via the higher taxes and living costs the "yellow vests" are highlighting.
State benefits aren't as generous as they're cracked up to be. Lower-income pensioners in France are called sans dente, without teeth, as France's universal healthcare program doesn't provide much in the way of dental care, hence the poor with missing teeth.
Part of downward mobility is becoming politically invisible, a topic I discussed in France in a Nutshell: "The Government Stopped Listening to the People 20 Years Ago"(December 12, 2018).

The protesters rightly perceive that they are politically invisible: the ruling class, regardless of its ideological flavor, doesn't believe it needs the support of the politically invisible to rule as it sees fit. The ruling class has counted on the cultural elites to marginalize and suppress the politically invisible by dismissing any working-class dissent as racist, fascist, nationalistic and other words expressly intended to push dissent into the political wilderness.

Another way to understand this downward mobility is: the elites no longer need a vibrant middle class to hold power and increase their wealth. The real money is in globalized capital flows, access to central bank credit and ownership of debt. The role of the middle class has largely been reduced to being compliant, passive debt-serfs who can borrow money to fill the yawning gap in their standard of living and make the payments.

Since the political machinery serves the oligarchy, there's no real need to pander to the middle class or the working class. Being tossed in with the politically invisible hurts the pride of the middle class, as does being expendable, but as we see in this chart, the top .01% have skimmed the vast majority of whatever wealth and income have been generated over the past decade.
Whatever crumbs fell to the middle class must have been sufficient, as they're still paying their mortgages, student loans, auto loans, etc

The Macron government has changed its tone after five straight weeks of violent "Yellow Vest" demonstrations across the country. 

On Sunday Prime Minister Édouard Philippe admitted to Les Echoes newspaper that mistakes were made in the handling of the protests, and that a dialogue is needed.
"We made mistakes. We did not listen enough to the French people. I remain convinced that they want this country to be transformed," said Philippe.

Protesters donning yellow reflective jackets began filling the streets across France on November 17 - initially in protest to a fuel tax aimed at combating global warming - and morphing into a country-wide rebuke of the Macron government.  There have been seven deaths, over 4,500 arrests and hundreds of injuries during the demonstrations - as protesters smashed store windows, looted, set fire to vehicles and defaced statues. In addition to a massive presence, Police have responded to the protests with tear gas and pepper spray to try and disperse crowds. 
In early December Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the economic impact of the protests a "catastrophe," 
Meanwhile, the Yellow Vest protests have spread to multiple European countries - most notably the Netherlands and Belgium, while also spreading to Israel, Iraq and now Canada

"I have never met even one Canadian that understands how a carbon tax is going to reduce carbon emissions," said protester James Hoskins to CTV Atlantic. Another Canadian Yellow Vest, Barry Ahern, called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's summer grant program "oppression of Canadians by our own people." The program has been criticized for requiring organizations applying for summer job grants to sign an "attestation" confirming that they respect LGBT and abortion rights

Wall Street vs Main Street

It’s Happening – This is “THE” Fight, There are Trillions at Stake…

[This is a long article, below are just the highlights, but this is a worthwhile read and puts many issues in perspective]

Everything happening in/around the financial markets is very predictable when you focus on understanding the principles of Main Street MAGAnomics and how those basic principles diverge from Wall Street’s “paper economy”.

Everything is happening in a very predictable sequence. Few understand the MAGAnomic reset, and what was predicted to happen in the space between disconnecting a Wall Street economic engine (globalism and multinationals) and restarting a Main Street economic engine (nationalism/America-First).  In 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 CTH explained where we would be today. With current Wall Street events, perhaps it is worthwhile remembering the dynamic.

If we get too far in the weeds the larger picture is lost. Our CTH objective is to continue pointing focus toward the larger horizon, and then at specific inflection points to dive into the topic and explain how each moment is connected to the larger strategy.

Today, as a specific result of a very predictable stock market reaction, we repost an earlier dive into how MAGAnomic policy interacts with multinational Wall Street, the stock market, the U.S. financial system and perhaps your personal financial value.  Additionally, we outline the global market forces and how they are aligned.  Again, reference and source material is included throughout the outline.

If you understand the basic elements behind the new dimension in American economics, you already understand how three decades of DC legislative and regulatory policy was structured to benefit Wall Street, Multinational corporate interests, and not Main Street USA.

The intentional shift in economic policy is what created distance between two entirely divergent economic engines to the detriment of the American middle-class.

The politicians became more valuable to the Wall Street team than the Main Street team; and Wall Street had deeper pockets because their economy was now larger.
As a consequence Wall Street started funding political candidates and asking for legislation that benefited their multinational interests.
When Main Street was purchasing the legislative influence the outcomes were -generally speaking- beneficial to Main Street, and by direct attachment those outcomes also benefited the average American inside the real economy.
When Wall Street began purchasing the legislative influence, the outcomes therein became beneficial to Wall Street. Those benefits are detached from improving the livelihoods of main street Americans because the benefits are “global”. Global financial interests, multinational investment interests -and corporations therein- became the primary filter through which the DC legislative outcomes were considered.
There is a natural disconnect. (more)

The U.S. stock markets’ overall value can increase with Main Street policy, and yet the investment class can simultaneously decrease in value even though the company(ies) in the stock market is/are doing better. This detachment is critical to understand because the ‘real economy’ is based on the company, the ‘paper economy’ is based on the financial investment instruments betting on the company.

Here’s the critical part – Conversely, there are now classes of companies on the U.S. stock exchange that never make a dime in profit, yet the value of the company increases.

This dynamic is possible because the financial investment bets are not connected to the bottom line profit. (Examples include Tesla Motors, Amazon and a host of internet stocks like Facebook and Twitter.) It is this investment group of companies, primarily driven by technology stocks in the “tech sector” that stands to lose the most if/when the underlying system of betting on them stops or slows.
Specifically due to most recent U.S. fiscal policy, modern multinational banks, including all of the investment products therein, are more closely attached to this investment system on Wall Street. It stands to reason they are at greater risk of financial losses overall with a shift in economic policy.

Bottom Line: U.S. companies who have actual connection to a growing U.S. economy can succeed; based on the advantages of the new economic environment and MAGA policy, specifically in the areas of manufacturing, trade and the ancillary benefactors.
Meanwhile U.S. investment assets (multinational investment portfolios) that are disconnected from the actual results of those benefiting U.S. companies, highly weighted toward multinational investment, and as a consequence disconnected from the U.S. economic expansion, can simultaneously drop in value even though the U.S. economy is thriving.  THIS IS EXACTLY what is happening!

♦ The biggest lie in modern economics, willingly spread and maintained by corporate media, is that a system of global markets still exists.
It doesn’t.
Every element of global economic trade is controlled and exploited by massive institutions, multinational banks and multinational corporations. Institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank control trillions of dollars in economic activity.

♦Multinational corporations purchase controlling interests in various national outputs and industries of developed industrial western nations.
♦The Multinational Corporations making the purchases are underwritten by massive global financial institutions, multinational banks.
♦The Multinational Banks and the Multinational Corporations then utilize lobbying interests to manipulate the internal political policy of the targeted nation state(s).
♦With control over the targeted national industry or interest, the multinationals then leverage export of the national asset (exfiltration) through trade agreements structured to the benefit of lesser developed nation states – where they have previously established a proactive financial footprint.

The process is not natural at all.  It is a process that is entirely controlled, promoted and utilized by large conglomerates, lobbyists, purchased politicians and massive financial corporations.

UN Silence While Extremist Persecution Of Christians Continues

"United Nations, Your Silence is Getting Worse": Extremist Persecution of Christians, September 2018

  • "[T]wo young masked men entered the pharmacy and dragged my father outside. They told him to kneel in the street. They put two guns at my father's head and told him to convert to Islam. But he shook his head. Then they shot him." — Open Doors, August 23, 2018, Egypt.

  • "Our father, Bashir Masih, was a sanitary worker," explained the family's son Fiaz Masih. "He built this house a few years back, when he retired from his job; however Muslims could not bear that Christians would live in such a good, big, and furnished house. We are the only Christian family in the neighborhood. They wanted to snatch our property. Therefore, they started threatening us to leave the house otherwise they will [accuse us of] committing blasphemy against Islam." — Pakistan.

  • "Indonesia had a reputation for an interpretation of Islam that embraced religious tolerance. But Muslim extremists have been urging the adoption of Islamic law throughout Indonesia, creating religious divides." — Voice of America, October 1, 2018.

Central African Republic: As many as 42 people — mostly Christian women — "were hacked to death ... after suspected Islamist rebels attacked a group of civilians in the central town of Bria" between September 4-5. Some died by machete, others by gunshot. At least one of the butchered women was pregnant. "They [Seleka militants] don't want to see any Christians here," one church leader said. "Christians never go to town.... They have barricaded all roads, and if you venture out, you are at your own peril. We Christians have nothing else to do, no food to eat, no place to go. We rely only on prayers. Please pray for us!"

Democratic Republic of Congo: Armed Muslim militants slaughtered as many as 40 people in the Christian town of Beni. According to one report:
"... the assailants, in great number, attacked the city by surprise at around 5.30pm ... They fired light and heavy weapons, and targeted residential areas, causing panic among the inhabitants... Eyewitnesses said some of the victims were killed with machetes, while an undetermined number of others were injured. According to a local pastor, at least 27 victims have been identified as members of local churches."
A week earlier, on September 18, the same extremists murdered a Christian grandmother and injured four of her grandchildren. "These rebels who call themselves the Muslim Defense International also hit near our base in Ngadi three times," said an aid worker. According to the report, the group "has operated in the region since 1995, has been blamed for hundreds of civilian deaths over the past four years and of trying to uproot Christians from north-eastern DRC through attacks, rape, looting, kidnap and murder."

Kenya: Extremists murdered two Christians in the name of Islam for refusing to abjure their faith. According to one report, on September 14:
"... a group of Islamic terrorists stopped a bus that was traveling to Garissa. The militants ordered everyone off the bus and demanded identification... the terrorist group of seven men separated the Muslims from the Christians. They demanded three of the passengers recite the statement of faith [the shahada, 'There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger,' which instantly transforms a nonbeliever into a Muslim]. The two Christians who refused to recite the statement were tied up and executed."

One week later, on September 22, a Muslim mob stoned three Christians to death while chanting "Allahu Akbar!" ("Allah is greater!"). The attack came in response to the killing of jihadi terrorists at the hands of governmental security forces. According to an eyewitness:
"Fredrick [one of the three slain] was on top of a new house he was contracted to build. His two assistants were on the ground mixing mortar when the mob arrived in [a] hurry, chanting takbir, takbir, takbir [that is, calling on the mob to shout "Allahu Akbar"]. From a distance, I saw the men hurling construction stones towards Fredrick and his coworkers. The three managed to flee into a nearby hotel for safety, although they had been badly injured. The Muslims relentlessly followed them up and stoned them to death."
Pakistan: Resentful that a Christian was in a position over them, Muslim hospital employees attacked Faraz Masih, 26, with acid on September 5. His face highly disfigured and with several other burns around his body, he finally succumbed to death ten days later in a hospital. According to the victim's father, Badar Masih:

Philippines: On September 2, Muslim militants bombed a café in the town of Insulan. Jun Mark Luda, an 18-year-old catechist who taught Christian principles in public schools during his free time, and his 15-year-old cousin, Marialyn Luda were killed in the blast; 14 others were injured. Jun Mark Luda "was smart and talented. His jolliness was contagious. We are saddened by his death," said a church acquaintance before adding that such ongoing attacks "destroy the harmony between Muslims and Christians." Army commander Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana "blamed the attack on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State." The same group was accused of bombing St Anthony's Catholic Cathedral on April 29, 2018.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hamas Leader Meeting With Kremlin Officials In Moscow

Moscow invites Hamas leader for talks on Gaza, unity

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is heading to Moscow later this week for talks with Kremlin officials on the latest developments in the Palestinian arena and bilateral relations, Hamas officials said on Monday.
The visit, the officials said, comes at the invitation of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On his way to Moscow, Haniyeh is expected to stop in Cairo, where he will also hold talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on the latest developments in the Gaza Strip, particularly Egypt’s effort to arrange a long-term ceasefire with Israel, as well as attempts to solve the Hamas-Fatah rift, the officials added.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki has also been invited to Moscow, but it was unclear whether he would meet with Haniyeh.

A PA official in Ramallah said that the Russians were interested in playing a role in resolving the Hamas-Fatah feud. The official expressed hope that the Russians would be able to “persuade Hamas to end the dispute” and allow the Ramallah-based PA government to assume full responsibilities over the Gaza Strip.

On a speech marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas on Sunday, Haniyeh renewed his call for ending the rift with Fatah and said he was prepared to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas, he said, was prepared to do its utmost to achieve Palestinian unity, including the formation of a national unity government and holding general elections within three months.

Fatah responded to Haniyeh’s appeal by saying that any meeting with Abbas should be proceeded by a Hamas implementation of previous “reconciliation” agreements signed between the two sides.‭

Two Major Volcanic Eruptions And Significant Quakes Strike Ring Of Fire In Last 24 Hours

2 Major Volcanic Eruptions & Dozens Of Significant Earthquakes Have Struck The Ring Of Fire Within The Last 24 Hours

Global earth changes appear to be accelerating once again, but the mainstream media in the United States is not talking about it, and so most Americans have absolutely no idea what is happening.  Within the last 24 hours, we have seen close to 40 significant earthquakes of at least magnitude 2.5 along the Ring of Fire, but even more alarming are the two major volcanic eruptions which just took place.  Mount Soputan is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Indonesia, and it erupted twice on Sunday morning.  According to the Daily Mail, authorities are reporting that hot volcanic ash was shot 25,000 feet into the sky…

A volcano in central Indonesia has erupted, sending columns of thick ash spewing as high as 25,000 feet into the sky.
Mount Soputan, a 6,000ft peak in Minahasa on the northern part of Sulawesi island, erupted twice on Sunday morning.

A two-and-a-half mile exclusion zone has been enforced around the mountain as the national disaster agency warns local residents to avoid the peak.

Those eruptions may have been more spectacular, but the eruption that we just witnessed down in Mexico is potentially much more concerning.
Mt. Popocatepetl has been called the most dangerous mountain in North America for a reason, and officials are carefully watching “Don Goyo” after it “exploded” on Saturday evening…
The active volcano Popocatepetl, located in Central Mexico, has exploded Saturday evening, sending ash two kilometers into the air with the cloud of smoke moving in a northeast direction.
Videos from the eruption show a powerful explosion and traces of magma flowing out of the crater. Possible ash fall is expected in areas surrounding the summit. At the moment the volcanic warning issued by the Federal Civil Protection remains at ‘Phase 2’.

Approximately 25 million people live within striking distance of Mt. Popocatepetl, and scientists assure us that someday the 5,426-meter-high “smoking mountain” will devastate the entire Mexico City region.
And when I say “devastate”, I am not just talking about a disaster that will inconvenience people for a few weeks.
I am talking about an event which will cause death and destruction on an absolutely immense scale.  According to the experts, in the distant past “Don Goyo” actually produced gigantic mudflows that buried entire Aztec cities
Meanwhile, significant earthquakes continue to rattle areas all along the Ring of Fire.
Indonesia was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake within the last 24 hours, and a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Australia made headlines all over the world

We live at a time when seismic activity is becoming more intense and more frequent.  Some of the “experts” in the United States insist that the numbers are rising simply because we are doing a better job of “detecting” seismic activity these days, and they promise that we have absolutely nothing to worry about.  But a lot of people are skeptical of that explanation because they can see that our planet appears to be getting increasingly unstable.
Could it be possible that an era of dramatically increased seismic activity is about to change all of our lives in a major way?
Yellowstone volcano has a rival in Europe, according to a recent study from scientists based in the region. The volcano is based in Naples to the west, in a place known as Phlegrean fields, once the site of a world-changing eruption. Scientists have now picked up on new signs of the volcano complex starting another cycle. This particular volcano is a threat as the end point of the major cycle could be a significant eruption, rivalling the outcome of a Yellowstone eruption in the US.
Scientists observing the volcanic cycle of one Campi Flegrei, located in Napoli, are concerned of a “potential reawakening”.
Of course, we have seen many formerly “dormant volcanoes” reawaken in recent years.
Something very unusual definitely appears to be happening to our planet, and unlike the mainstream media in the United States, this is something that we will be keeping a very close eye on.

Banks Cutting Back On Loans As They Prepare For Next Recession

Meanwhile Behind The Scenes: Banks Quietly Slash Loans As They Prepare For The Next Recession

Reading through the Fed's latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS), revealed absolutely nothing to be concerned about when it comes to loan demand and loan standards (aside from a warning that a yield curve inversion would, predictably, result in substantially tighter financial conditions): as we noted one month ago, the net percentage of banks reporting easier standards on loans to large- and medium-sized firms stayed flat at 16%, while standards for small firms were basically unchanged on net. At the same time, terms on C&I loans eased somewhat for large- and medium-sized firms, as 27% of banks surveyed (in net terms) reportedly narrowed spreads of loan rates over the cost of funds; other terms, such as premiums charged for riskier loans, loan covenants, and collateralization requirements, all eased somewhat.
There is just one problem with the above: none of it is true.
Iin fact according to a Reuters investigation, when looking behind headline numbers showing healthy loan books, "problems appear to be cropping up in areas such as home-equity lines of credit, commercial real estate and credit cards" according to federal data reviewed by the wire service and interviews with bank execs.
Worse, banks are also starting to aggressively cut relationships with customers who seem too risky, which in a time when 3M USD Libor just hit a fresh decade high despite a flattening in short-term TSY yields, is to be expected: after all financial conditions in the real economy, and not the markets, are getting ever tighter and the result will be a wave of defaults sooner or later.

Here are the all too clear signs that banks are starting to prepare for the next recession by slashing and/or limiting risky loan exposure:
  • First, nearly half of the applications from customers with low credit scores were rejected in the four months ending in October, compared with 43 percent in the year-ago period, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Second, banks shuttered 7 percent of existing accounts, particularly among subprime borrowers, the highest rate since the Fed started conducting surveys in 2013.
  • Third, home-equity lines of credit declined 8 percent across the industry, with growth slowing in areas such as credit cards and commercial-and-industrial loans, the survey showed.

Analysts Believe Hundreds Of Hedge Funds Could Be Closing Down As Losses Mount

Analysts anticipate large 'financial wipeout' as major hedge funds close or report losses

  • Analysts believe hundreds of hedge funds could be shuttered by the end of 2019
  • Closures could be due to uneven returns seen by managers using similar tactics 
  • It's thought investors will also be withdrawing money from funds without profits 
  • Investors have already taken back $10.1billion from their hedge funds this year
  • More than 11,000 hedge funds are said to oversee over $3trillion in assets now

Hedge fund analysts are said to be worried that a large-scale 'financial wipeout' is on the horizon.  
With recent news that several major hedge fund companies have been reporting negative returns, analysts anticipate that hundreds of funds could be eliminated by the end of 2019. 
'Some sectors of the fund industry are crowded and competing with other investment vehicles,' hedge find adviser Nicholas Tsafos of EisnerAmper told the New York Post.  

Funds could also be closed due to the fact that there's been uneven returns between hedge fund managers who are using similar investment strategies, which is likely to result in 'bad managers' getting fired and the money they're overseeing being shifted over to managers who have been seeing better results, noted Don Steinbrugge, managing partner at hedge fund consulting and marketing firm Agecroft Partners.
More than 11,000 hedge funds are said to oversee over $3trillion in assets, but several major players have made headlines recently due to closures or significant losses.  
In the last two months, hedge funds Brenham Capital, Brenner West Capital Partners, Tourbillon Capital Partners LP, Highfields Capital Management and Criterion Capital Management all announced that they were closing down. 
Meanwhile, it was reported in November that several major funds saw up to five per cent losses, among them David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital, which saw a 3.6 per cent loss; Ken Griffin’s Citadel, which had a 3 per cent loss; Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, which lost 5 per cent, and Dmitry Balyasny’s Atlantic Global Fund, which not only took 3.9 per cent in losses, but also eliminated 125 jobs and saw $4billion in asset withdrawals.  
Analysts anticipate things will only get worse, with clients retrieving their money from hedge funds that aren't seeing profits.  

Hamas Urges Palestinian Authority Citizens To Prepare For Guerrilla War Against Israel

Hamas Urges Palestinian Authority Citizens to Prepare for Guerrilla War Against Israel

Speaking on a program aired on Al Jazeera’s television network December 2, Meshaal said in remarks translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) that according to the Quran, “Jihad, resistance and self-defense [are] the essence of life.

“The abandonment of jihad leads to humiliation and death. Hence, resistance is the pinnacle of life. A person who lives under occupation, and who does not resist, is in fact dead,” he said, urging viewers to prepare for ongoing “resistance.”

There is a growing belief among Israelis that the fiscal support being given to Gaza by Qatar — agreed to by Israel after long discussions together with envoys from the United States, United Nations and Egypt — has a part in facilitating and perhaps even encouraging the current escalation in violence, if not re-igniting it.

Gaza received its first assistance in the form of diesel fuel paid for by Qatar, and delivered to the region in trucks that arrived via the Erez crossing from Israel. U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt thanked Qatari officials for their prompt assistance, and shortly after, clearly refreshed, Hamas renewed its violence at the Gaza border.

Israel quickly slowed such deliveries to a crawl, with then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warning Gaza that further deliveries would be contingent on calm at the border and beyond.

The following month, in November 2018, the Qataris began to deliver cash to the enclave in order to begin paying the salaries of Hamas civil service workers in Gaza. The move, as before, was approved by Israel in order to minimize the humanitarian crisis in the enclave, caused by the theft of prior resource by Hamas for its military infrastructure. This time, Qatar recorded the names and fingerprints of every recipient.

Nevertheless, once again violence followed, with Gazans showing their thanks by hurling rocks and bombs at IDF soldiers who were guarding the Israeli border, while Hamas terrorists attempted to use the violence as cover for attempts to infiltrate and carry out more serious terror attacks. One succeeded and reached a Jewish community where he torched a greenhouse before he was caught by security personnel.

More strangely, Gazans even hurled rocks at the convoy in which the Qatari envoy was traveling as he toured the area — the same Qatari envoy who had just delivered $15 million cash in three suitcases to the Hamas government in Gaza City.

Yet Qatari envoy Mohammed El-Amadi delivered the second of the six promised monthly payments on time this month, $15 million in cash, on December 6.

One-third of that money went to civil service salaries, one-third went for unemployed Gazans and the remaining third went for relief and humanitarian aid support.

That was 10 days ago; 24 hours later, as usual, thousands of Gazans gathered at the border with Israel for the usual riots but this time, stoning attacks on the roads of Judea and Samaria shared the headlines — followed by the blockbuster revelation of Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnels penetrating northern Israel.
“When did Israel withdraw from southern Lebanon?” said Meshaal this month, barely two days earlier. “It wasn’t a result of negotiations; not in Madrid and not in Washington. It retreated as a result of resistance.
“When did it retreat from Gaza? After the [Second] Intifada in 2000 and the heroic resistance. Today we are being called and preparing to force Israel to retreat from Jerusalem and from the West Bank. Allah willing, this is on the way to its retreat from all of Palestine,” he claimed.
“The West Bank spans over 5,600 square kilometers and has mountains and valleys. I’m from there — I know the landscape,” he said. “It has everything necessary for guerrilla warfare. 
“Why are we not preparing for that?”

Hamas Relocates Attention To West Bank Front

Hizballah tunnel issue goes into diplomatic fog. Hamas relocates terror to West Bank front

Lebanon too is girding up to counter the US-Israeli UNSC motion condemning Hizballah’s tunnels which is due to be aired on Wednesday, Dec. 19. The fourth tunnel was unearthed on Sunday. Israel will present evidence of the tunnels violating its sovereignty and providing a gateway for Hizballah to conduct cross-border raids for terror. The US plans to use this evidence for a motion to declare Hizballah a terrorist organization.

However, as a precondition for gaining the votes of all 15 members, the Israeli account must be backed up by UNIFIL’s confirmation. There lies the first rub. It is highly doubtful that the international force’s commander Gen. Stafano De Col, of Italy will provide this confirmation.

Excepting Greece alone, which has strong military and economic ties with Israel, all the other governments contributing personnel to UNIFIL are against the Middle East policies the US and Israel pursue and do not share their view of Hizballah as a bad player. Indeed, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Holland and Spain interpret the Israeli tunnel operation as part and parcel of the joint US-Israeli drive against Iran and the US sanctions regime,  to which they are opposed.

Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini,when he visited Israel, was briefly willing to declare Hizballah “Islamicterrorists” after Israel asked him to use his influence with Gen. Del Col to try and bring UNIFIL in line. But then, the Italian defense ministry issued a statement formally and strongly disavowing Salvini’s declaration, accusing him of placing the Italian troops posted on the Lebanese-Israeli border in harm’sway.

In these circumstances, it is hard to see the proposed US condemnation of Hizballah gaining Security Council approval without running into a veto. At best, the Council will urge both parties to refrain from military escalation on their common border, thereby opening the door for Israel to be directed to discontinue its Operation Northern Shield. It will then be up to the US to apply its veto to kill that motion.

While Israel’s major tunnel operation seemed to be heading for a diplomatic stalemate, the Israeli government and military were caught unawares last week by the Palestinian Hamas initiative to counter-balance its slowdown of violence in the Gaza Strip by inflaming a second terror front in Judea and Samaria, It claimed the lives of two soldiers and a four-day old infant as well as a number of critically injured casualties. Hamas cells, including some of the perpetrators, are still at large looking for more Israeli victims – even in the face of a heavily reinforced Israeli military presence. This time round the terrorists are plentifully provided with sidearms and vehicles. 

And so, while the prime minister and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot were immersed in the tunnel operation on the northern border and counted on Qatar’s multimillion-dollar gift to the Gaza Strip for pacifying the southern front, the same Hamas switched its attention to the West Bank and opened up a third front.

Ron Paul On The 'Depression-Like' Conditions

Ron Paul On The Coming Crisis: “Could Be Worse Than 1929” 

Former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul pulled no punches in his recent interview on CNBC Futures Now. Paul made a strong case for the onset of depression-like conditions soon.
“I think it’s a very vulnerable position because when markets are destined to make big corrections … they don’t do it from the top, they do it from 10-15% down. So, we’re at that position.”
Citing economic problems ranging from artificially low interest rates and ballooning central bank balance sheets to trade tariffs, the former congressman stressed that understanding the conditions that caused the bubble is more important than identifying the pin that will eventually pop it.
“The precipitating factor will be that black swan — it’s coming. The situation is ready for it. It’s very precarious — the debt is too much, all the malinvestment is there.”
“You need a precipitating factor like Lehman Brothers …. But it might not be just an ordinary old-fashioned bank run … It could be international, it could be related to this tariff war we have going on.”
When asked if there was anything President Trump and Federal Reserve Chairman Powell could do to avoid the day of reckoning, his answer was clear.
“No … They actually believe they can find the neutral rate of interest. It’s a total fallacy. Nobody knows what that is … I’m predicting that they can’t solve this problem that is coming because interest rates are too low and they don’t have any room … they will go back to QE and they’ll pass out the money.”
How bad will it be?
“There’s no sign that it’s going to be mild … I think that it could be worse than 1929.”

Protests In Brussels Become Violent

Belgium Police Fire Tear Gas, Water Cannon As Anti-Migration Protests Turn Violent

The streets of Brussels turned violent on Sunday after thousands of Flemish right-wing parties called for a march against a UN migration pact signed in Marrakech last week, according to the BBC
Approximately 5,500 anti-immigration protesters came out in force against the pact- chanting various slogans such as "our people first" , "no jihad in our state" and "Brussels rats," while around 1,000 counter-protesters from left-wing groups showed up to oppose the march. Police fired tear gas and a water cannon as violence broke out between the groups, throwing fences and stones. 

Chaos in EU's capital #Brussels.

Massive protests have erupted in Brussels against adoption of #UNMigrationCompact. Signing of this compact means Belgium has been sold to Globalists.

Protestors have been beaten and arrested. pic.twitter.com/uz0Spp1QCg
— Oom Ashii (@AshiiK11) December 16, 2018

The pact, signed last week by 164 countries - however it was rejected by the United States and several European countries including Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Slovakia - which refused to formally adopt the agreement. 
The deal, which is not legally binding, seeks an international approach to migration that "reaffirms the sovereign rights of states to determine their national migration policy" and asserts the "fundamental" importance of legal migration.
But critics in Europe believe it will lead to increased immigration to the continent. -BBC

Approximately 90 people were arrested. Towards the end of the speeches, VTM News journalist Hannelore Simoens claimed to have been attacked by demonstrators who threw smoke bombs and shouted curses at she and her camera crew. Video of the incident suggests otherwise.