Sunday, March 31, 2019

Will The Palestinians Turn To Russia For Alternatives To U.S. Plan?

Russia grabs the reins on Mideast peace

In recent years, Russia has expressed an interest in getting involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, due to its own regional and global interests of restoring its status as a superpower. 

Hence Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently refloated the idea of hosting talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Moscow. Over the years, Moscow has on multiple occasions proposed advancing a peace agreement via a Moscow summit, but Israel has preferred to let the United States spearhead the process. The current Russian interest in the conflict is a reflection of Moscow's ambitions to establish a presence in the Middle East as a mediator, within the prism of a zero-sum game against the Americans, and amid the view that U.S. clout on the Arab street is waning. 

Russia, from its perspective, assumes this activity is only beneficial: The cost, in any practical or abstract sense, is insignificant, and the expected returns of restoring Russia to prominence in the Arab and Muslim world are self-evident to the Kremlin.

Russia also illustrates its desire to be a mediator on the global stage by saying and doing certain things to paint itself as a critical cog in any peace process. 

In recent months, as the American "deal of the century" has gained more exposure, Moscow has intensified its efforts to advance intra-Palestinian reconciliation, including repeatedly inviting Palestinian factions for talks in Moscow. Hamas is shunned to varying degrees by the U.S. and European Union, and Russia wants to signal it can hold dialogue with the PA and the regime in Gaza.

Moscow is grabbing the reins as the only mediator capable of communicating with all the Palestinian factions, especially when they are all united in opposing the "deal of the century"

The United States and Israel must assume from past experience that as the "deal of the century" approaches its deadline, two processes will take place. First, we can assume that ignoring Russia will provoke a Russian attempt to enlist an Arab and international lobby against the U.S. proposal. 

Additionally, Russia will advance its own alternatives for resolving the conflict, which the Palestinians can view as a basis for negotiations, such as the summit in Moscow, the Quartet path or any other platform that will include Russia as a member of the international "club."

This situation makes it increasingly likely for a scenario to unfold in which Israel, not the Palestinians, is painted as the rejectionist side, particularly in light of the fact that a plan such as the one presented by Hamas in Moscow in completely unfeasible from Israel's perspective. 

In all likelihood, if it were possible to establish an international framework for a peace accord, which would include Russia, such as the Quartet, it would probably rise to the forefront. Because, among other things, Russia has expanded its leverage with the Arab world and it very much wants to partake in the prestigious "club" of nations.

Russia Is Dumping Dollars And Buying Gold

Why Russia Is Dumping Dollars And Buying Gold At The Fastest Pace In Decades

Nine months ago, as US Treasury yields were drifting lower from a seven-year high reached in May of last year, we pointed out a curious development in the market for US sovereign debt that to our complete lack of surprise had been overlooked by the mainstream financial press: In April and May, Russia's central bank liquidated $81 billion in Treasurys, nearly its entire holdings.
The drop was so significant, that Russia fell off the Treasurys list of the 30 or so largest Treasury holders. And in the months that have followed, as the US has imposed more economic sanctions and feuded with Putin over the fate of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, Vladimir Putin has turned instead to alternative reserves as the country's de-dollarization push continued.
Over the same period of time, Russia was a conspicuously large buyer of Chinese yuan, as Goldman Sachs noted (and as we highlighted well earlier today), helping contribute to a spike in yuan buying by reserve managers last year, as the IMF pointed out in a recent report.

And in a rare, if muted, acknowledgement from the American financial press that de-dollarization is a contemporary threat that should be taken seriously, BBG said that "analysts, who have coined the term de-dollarization, speculate about the global economic impacts if more countries adopt a similar philosophy and what it could mean for the dollar’s desirability compared with other assets, such as gold or the Chinese yuan."

Abbas Rejects U.S. Peace Plan Before Being Unveiled, 'We Are At The Threshold Of Difficult Times'

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke Sunday at the summit of the Arab League in Tunisia and attacked Israel and the United States.

"Israel is not satisfied with the theft of land and resources, but also cut our tax money on the pretext that we are paying it to shaheeds and prisoners," Abbas said, in a reference to the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to implement the policy to offset the PA’s payments to terrorists.

"Israel's goal, with the assistance of the United States, is to pressure us, but we are telling Israel that we will not give up our people, especially those who made sacrifices."

"We are at the threshold of difficult times," Abbas added. "After Israel destroyed the agreements and ran away from all its commitments since Oslo, it continues its policy of destroying the two-state solution in a way that causes us to lose hope in the peace process. I make it clear that we will be unable to bear the current situation much longer, and therefore sooner or later we will have to take fateful steps."

In anticipation of the publication of the Trump administration's peace plan, Abbas said, "The Israeli policy that the Palestinians are witnesses to is backed by the US. The United States removed the issue of settlements and refugees' rights from the negotiating table, and in fact put an end to the principle of two states. We will not agree to any plan that will not respect the foundations of peace.”

"Israel's attempts to normalize its relations with the Arab countries will not succeed," the PA chairman. "We warn you of Israel's attempts to push some of the countries of the world to transfer their embassies to Jerusalem."

Abbas has rejected the US peace plan before it has even been unveiled.

The PA has been boycotting the US ever since President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017.

Angry Venezuelans Set Up Burning Barricades Near Presidential Palace In Protests

Venezuelans set up burning barricades over lack of power, water

 Angry Venezuelans set up burning barricades near the presidential palace in Caracas and in other parts of the country on Sunday in protests over constant power outages and shortages of drinking water in the wake of two major blackouts this month.

The situation has fueled frustration with the government of President Nicolas Maduro and frayed nerves as schools and much of the nation’s commerce have been interrupted by problems with public services for nearly three weeks.

Protesters, some carrying rocks and their faces covered, burned tires and tree trunks along a stretch of downtown Caracas as they demanded Maduro improve the situation.

“We’re here fighting for water and power, we’ve gone twenty-some days without water,” said Yofre Gamez, 32, an informal vendor. “They put the power on for two hours, then turn it off at night, it comes on the next day for half an hour and then it goes off again - we’re tired of this.”

A Reuters witness heard shots ring out as Gamez spoke. 
Demonstrators reported that one woman had been injured by gunfire, which they attributed to pro-government gangs. Reuters was unable to confirm who fired the shots. 
Similar protests took place in other parts of the country, including the central state of Carabobo, where demonstrators burned tires and blocked roads, according to witnesses. 
In some Caracas neighborhoods, residents simply waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans.
The power went out again on March 25 and has been intermittent since. 
Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a statement on Sunday that school activities, which were called off for most of last week, would remain suspended. Business hours will run only until 2 p.m., he said. 
The government has offered a variety of explanations for the blackouts, ranging from Washington-backed cyberattacks to opposition-linked snipers causing fires at the country’s main hydroelectric dam.

6.2 Magnitude Quake Off Coast Of Ecuador

A strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake was reported off the coast of Ecuador early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The United States Geological Survey said the temblor occurred around 3 a.m. ET about 16 miles north of Santa Elena along the coast.
The quake struck at a depth of about 11 miles, according to the agency. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center reported that there were also numerous aftershocks following the initial quake.
No damage has been reported so far, but some people reported being awakened from sleep by the shaking.

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake was reported about 16 miles north of Santa Elena along the coast, according to the USGS.

Russia To U.S.: Russian Troops Will Stay In Venezuela 'As Long As Needed'

Putin To Trump: Mind Your Own Business On Venezuela; Russian Troops Will Stay "As Long As Needed"

Days after Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that Russia "cease its unconstructive behavior" by landing a transport plane full of Russian troops in Caracas last Saturday, the Kremlin has responded - essentially telling Washington to pound sand - and that their troops will remain in Venezuela "for as long as needed" according to the Independent

In the latest indication the crisis in Venezuela is taking on elements of a proxy battle between the former Cold War rivals, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry said the troops had been dispatched to fulfil “military contracts”.
They are involved in the implementation of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation,” said Maria Zakharova, according to the AFP, adding that the troops would stay there “for as long as needed”.
Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone,” she said. -Independent

Last week we also noted that new satellite images reveal a major deployment of S-300 air defense missile systems to a key air base south of Caracas shortly after Russia arrived. 
On Wednesday while meeting with the wife of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, President Trump called on Russia to pull its troops out of Venezuela, warning that "all options" were on the table to make that happen. 

When asked by a reporter about the Russian troops, Trump said "Russia has to get out. What’s your next question." When asked if that sentiment had been conveyed to the Kremlin, Trump replied: "They know. They know very well."
The United States, UK and other Western nations claim that last year's elections in Venezuela were unfair, while President Maduro and his supporters have pointed to the testimony of independent election observers who say it was legitimate. Guaidó declared himself president in January, finding the immediate support of 50 nations led by the United States. 
Maduro, meanwhile, has refused to accept Western aid - suspecting it will be used as a guise to smuggle weapons to the opposition. 
More recently, Maduro blamed the United States for a series of power outages, claiming over Twitter that the Trump administration was engaged in an "electrical war" which was "announced and directed by American imperialism against our people.

No-Deal Brexit Looms As Parliament Rejects May's Deal

No-deal Brexit fears rise as parliament sinks May's deal

Lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal for a third time on Friday, sounding its probable death knell and leaving Britain's withdrawal from the European Union in turmoil on the very day it was supposed to quit the bloc.
The decision to reject a stripped-down version of May's divorce deal has left it totally unclear how, when or even whether Britain will leave the EU, and plunges the three-year Brexit crisis to a deeper level of uncertainty.
"I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House," May told parliament after the defeat. "The implications of the House's decision are grave."
Within minutes of the vote - which took place as thousands of Brexit supporters protested outside parliament - European Council President Donald Tusk said EU leaders would meet on April 10 to discuss Britain's departure from the bloc.
A succession of European leaders said there was a very real chance Britain would now leave without a deal, a scenario that businesses fear would cause chaos for the world's fifth-biggest economy.
White House national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters that President Donald Trump sympathized with May, and restated that the United States was keen to sign a trade deal with Britain once it was no longer in the EU.
May had framed the vote as the last opportunity to ensure Britain actually left the EU, making a passionate plea to lawmakers to put aside party differences and strongly-held beliefs.
But in a special sitting of parliament, they voted 344-286 against the EU Withdrawal Agreement, agreed after two years of tortuous negotiations with the bloc.
"The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on April 12," May said.
She cautioned that any further delay to Brexit would probably be a long one beyond the current deadline, and would mean Britain holding elections to the European Parliament.

The vote leaves her Brexit strategy in tatters. With no majority in parliament for any Brexit option so far, it is unclear what May will now do. Options include asking the EU for a long delay, parliament forcing an election, or a "no-deal" exit.

Britain now has under two weeks to convince the 27 members of the EU that it has an alternative path out of the impasse, or see itself cast out of the bloc on April 12 with no deal on post-Brexit ties with its largest trading ally.

French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking as parliament voted, said the EU needed to accelerate no-deal planning and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that unless Britain came up with a plan, there would be a "hard" Brexit.

May's deal had twice been rejected by huge margins this year and, although she was able to win over many Conservative rebels, a hard core of eurosceptics, who see "no-deal" as the best option...

Tipping Point In The U.S.:

Failed Trump Coup is Treason – Dave Janda

Dr. Dave Janda of the popular radio show Operation Freedom says the end of the Mueller probe means the coup to remove Donald Trump from power is over. Why would all these high ranking players create a fake story and commit massive crime to take out Trump? Dr. Janda says, “Power, control and money. Donald Trump is not part of their particular silo in the globalist club, that being the Rothschild/Rockefeller axis. They saw Trump as an enemy of their state. The movement he helped create took on their power base and attacked the middle level puppets of the Rothschild/Rockefeller axis, meaning the Obamas, Clintons, Bush family, McCains, Romneys, Ryans and Soros’. They see Trump as an individual leading a movement that can affect how they have been able to control and their ultimate power. . . . They want to undermine him and continue to want to remove him from office. When you break all this down, it is about sedition . . . and treason. . . . Why would they do something like this? This is all about sedition, treason . . . and a cover-up of all these Deep State players’ criminal activity. This was meant to get Hillary in power so they could continue to sweep this under the rug.”
Trump is not only going after the mid-level players in this failed coup but is going all the way to the top of the power and money orchestrating it. Dr. Janda says, “The higher ups come down two ways. One, he is by squeezing the mid-level players, and number two, he’s going to use the Al Capone technique. Capone was brought in on tax evasion. I think the way they are going to bring in the Clintons is to go after the financial irregularities in the Clinton Foundation and how it did business. . . . as much as $2.5 billion, and that’s just for starters, was used in a money laundering operation through the Clinton Foundation. . . . I also think they are going to squeeze the higher ups like the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and the Payseurs and going all the way up. They are going to squeeze them on the financial side. . . . It doesn’t stop with the Obamas and Clintons, Bush and Soros because you are not solving the problem. When you are looking at cancer, you can’t take a small part of a tumor. You have to take out the entire tumor.”
Why is the takedown of the Deep State taking so long? Dr. Janda says, “The system is rigged to blow. . . . One of the concerns is as the Rothschild/Rockefeller axis loses its power, control and financial resources, they will do something that’s terrible and harm a lot of different people. President Trump is one of the individuals leading the charge and trying to protect the system. So, as it does reset itself, it will be a reset that is not catastrophic for millions of people. . . . A number of people tell me they are surprised the system has not cracked further already. The reason why it has not happened is there has been this shoring up process behind the curtain. . . . The declassification has not taken place yet because the President and his team have been trying to cordon off all these threats on a number of different fronts.”
In short, Janda contends that President Trump wants to make sure all Deep State counterattacks are neutralized before declassification and arrests are made.
Dr. Janda goes on to say, “This is a huge awakening project for the American public. . . . There has to be a huge awakening of the public. The public has been propagandized for decades, and the first part of bringing down that facade was labeling the mainstream media (MSM) as being fake. The MSM was all involved in treason and sedition. They were all involved in propagandizing the public, and they are all part of the problem.”
Dr. Janda says the real end goal of the globalists is to destroy America and loot it in the process. Dr. Janda says, “Yes, because we were the speed bump to the globalists’ goal and objective of a New World Order, a One World Government and complete control.”
Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Dr. Dave Janda, creator and founder of the popular radio show “Operation Freedom.”

Connect The (Prophetic) Dots: Biblical Anti-Israel Forces Continue To Unite - 'Iran The Dominant Force'

New Middle East Alliance Shakes World Powers

A new bloc is emerging in the greater Middle East with the declared objectives of dominating the entire Arab world, confronting and containing the US and its allies; and controlling and benefiting from the entire hydro-carbon economy, from production to transportation.
The leading members of the new bloc are Turkey, Iran, and Qatar; with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan submitting to the new bloc.
Russian experts call the new bloc “the Middle Eastern Entente”.

The key to the success of the bloc is the emerging correlation of influence of the great powers in the aftermath of the wars in Syria and Iraq. Russia and the People’s Republic of China are ready to compromise with the regional powers in order to secure their vital and global interests, while the US, Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Israel, are the nemeses of the bloc.

 Summer 2017 initiated a myriad of bilat-eral and trilateral discussions with Iran and Turkey after Saudi Arabia and the GCC allies imposed the siege on Qatar in June of that year. However, it was not until the second half of 2018, with the initial impact of the siege largely ameliorated, that the long-term post-war posture of the greater Middle East became a major priority.

It was then that Doha, Tehran, and Ankara started talking about forming a coherent strategic bloc.

It did not take long for the three powers to realize that for such a bloc to succeed it must focus on security issues and not just economic issues.

Iran was the dominant force in this phase.

The last decisive push for the Arab integration took place during Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Tehran on Feb-ruary 25, 2019. There, he submitted to the demands of the Iranian mullahs and to tight supervision by Teh-ran. Significantly, during his stay in Tehran, Assad was constantly escorted by Qassem Soleimani, Mahmoud Alavi, and Ali Akbar Velayati, who attended all his meetings with Iranian leaders. In Tehran, Assad commit-ted to supporting the new bloc and to support the greater Middle East the bloc members were trying to create.

The geo-strategic and geo-economic objectives of the bloc are huge, and, as things stand in late March 2019, largely attainable.

On March 18, 2019, the military commanders of Iran, Syria, and Iraq convened in Damascus in order to discuss long-term strategic and operational cooperation. The delegations were led by Mohammad Bagheri (Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces), Ali Abdullah Ayyoub (the Syrian Defense Minister), and Othman al-Ghanmi (Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Military). Officially, the summit addressed coordination in counter-terrorism operations, joint securing and opening of borders, and restoring Damascus’ control over the en-tire Syrian territory.

The long-term strategic infrastructure envisioned by “the Middle Eastern Entente” reflected the grand-strategic aspirations of Iran and Turkey.

The key arteries would be from Iran to the shores of the Mediterranean, and from western Turkey to the Red Sea and the Hijaz. Ultimately, these roads would be supplanted by railways. Iran and Iraq have already started constructing the railway line from the Shalamcheh border crossing to Basra in Iraq. 

Both Beijing and Moscow are most interested in the speedy completion of these rail-lines as part of the extended Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Taken together, the transportation cooperation agreement between the three bloc members (Qatar, Iran, and Turkey), and the transportation agreement between Iran, Iraq, and Syria, provide for a road and rail-way system linking all these states. This makes Iran the lynchpin of the regional transportation networks, and, thus, a crucial purveyor of access for the PRC. Indeed, PRC senior officials consider Iran to be “a key pivot to China’s BRI in the region”.

Russian experts explained in late December 2018 that “Turkey, Iran, and Qatar are moving in a direct course towards creating a full-fledged alliance in the Middle East, threatening to make serious adjustments to the status quo in the region.” 

At the same time, Russia is still the main great power in the region, and the facilitator of the PRC’s access and development projects.

Iron And Clay: Brexit Highlights Key Challenges Of EU

Brexit's Message to European Union

  • The first problem with the EU is that, though it is called a union, it isn't really one. The EU is essentially an economic club; not a state.

  • Brexit has highlighted the key challenges that the EU faces. The first challenge concerns a widespread overestimation of the EU's role. This is due to its perception as a supra-national state, which it certainly is not.

  • The EU is also facing the challenge posed by the return of the nation-state as the most popular model of socio-political organization across the globe. Right now all supra-national and/or international organizations, from the United Nations to NATO, are regarded with suspicion, if not outright hostility, not only in Europe but also throughout the world.

    It is a wonder that the EU has managed to bring together so many nations in a region that has the longest and most intense history of national rivalries and enmities compared to any other region in the world. Part of that success was due to fears fomented by the Cold War and hopes risen after the fall of the Soviet Empire.

    Brexit has highlighted the key challenges that the EU faces. The first challenge concerns a widespread overestimation of the EU's role. This is due to its perception as a supra-national state which it certainly is not. Local politicians in many member states like to blame the EU for their own failings even in domains that do not concern the union.

    The EU is also facing the challenge posed by the return of the nation-state as the most popular model of socio-political organization across the globe. Right now all supra-national and/or international organizations, from the United Nations to NATO, are regarded with suspicion, if not outright hostility, not only in Europe but also throughout the world.

    EU leaders and those who support it would do well to offer a more modest and realistic image of the union as an economic club concerned with just certain aspects of its members' economies and not as a putative "United States of Europe."

    The EU has been pretending to be a machine trying to impose uniformity on nations that have always prided themselves in their specificity. It may survive and even prosper if it works for unity in diversity.

Things To Come: UK Denies Asylum For Christians While Allowing Radical Violent Muslims

UK: Radical Muslims Welcome, Persecuted Christians Need Not Apply

  • In rejecting the claim for asylum of a man who converted from Islam to Christianity, and presumably compelling his return to Iran, the British government is effectively sentencing him to death.

  • "[O]ut of 4,850 Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement by the Home Office in 2017, only eleven were Christian, representing just 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK." — Barnabas Fund.

  • At the same time, the Home Office allowed a Pakistani cleric, Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri, considered so extreme that he is banned even from his native Pakistan, to come and lecture in UK mosques.

  • "It's unbelievable that these persecuted Christians who come from the cradle of Christianity are being told there is no room at the inn, when the UK is offering a welcome to Islamists who persecute Christians.... There is a serious systemic problem when Islamist leaders who advocate persecution of Christians are given the green light telling them that their applications for UK visas will be looked on favourably, while visas for short pastoral visits to the UK are denied to Christian leaders whose churches are facing genocide. That is an urgent issue that Home Office ministers need to grasp and correct." — Dr. Martin Parsons, Barnabas Fund.

Statistics from earlier years have shown the same disparity. Although Christians accounted for approximately 10% of Syria's prewar population, the overwhelming majority of Syrians granted asylum by the Home Office were Sunni Muslims. Such an imbalance appears even more bizarre when one realizes that the Islamic State (ISIS) is itself a Sunni organization that targets non-Sunnis, primarily Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims, all minority groups that the U.S. government acknowledges have been targets of genocide.

As Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a life peer in the House of Lords, wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who heads the Home Office:
"It is widely accepted that Christians, who constituted around 10 per cent of Syria's pre-war population, were specifically targeted by jihadi rebels and continue to be at risk.... As last year's statistics more than amply demonstrate, this [ratio imbalance between Muslim and Christian refugees taken in] is not a statistical blip. It shows a pattern of discrimination that the Government has a legal duty to take concrete steps to address."
Considering that persecuted Christian minorities -- including priests and nuns -- are denied visas, one might conclude that perhaps the Home Office just has extremely stringent asylum requirements. This notion is quickly dispelled, however, when one sees that the Home Office regularly grants visas and refugee status to extremist Muslims. One has yet to hear about Muslim asylum seekers being denied visas because the Koran is too violent, or because they do "not have enough faith" in Muhammad.

"It's unbelievable that these persecuted Christians who come from the cradle of Christianity are being told there is no room at the inn, when the UK is offering a welcome to Islamists who persecute Christians.... There is a serious systemic problem when Islamist leaders who advocate persecution of Christians are given the green light telling them that their applications for UK visas will be looked on favourably, while visas for short pastoral visits to the UK are denied to Christian leaders whose churches are facing genocide. That is an urgent issue that Home Office ministers need to grasp and correct."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Israeli Tanks Shell Hamas Positions In Gaza Early Sunday Morning

Israeli tanks hit Hamas positions in Gaza after rocket fire

Israeli tanks shelled Hamas positions in Gaza early Sunday morning, hours after several rockets were fired at Israel from the enclave.
The IDF said its tanks hit “a number of positions belonging to the Hamas terror group,” in retaliation for the rocket fire, which capped a day that saw four Palestinians killed in protests along the border.
The Shehab news site, affiliated with Hamas, reported that a tank shelled a position east of Deir Balah in the central Strip at around 3 a.m.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Israeli officials said earlier that five rockets fired from Gaza landed in open areas in the Eshkol region before 1 a.m. There were no reports of injuries or damage and no claims of responsibility.
The relatively tame response to the rocket fire appeared designed to keep tensions from snowballing amid intensive efforts to broker a long-term calm between the sides, after relatively restrained border protests on Saturday.
Over 40,000 Palestinians took part in rallies at the Gaza border Saturday afternoon to mark a year since the start of the “March of Return” protests, with some rioters throwing grenades and explosives toward the security fence as well as lobbing rocks at troops and burning tires.
The enclave’s Hamas-run health ministry said three 17-year-old Palestinians were killed during the protests, while at least 300 were injured. Another Palestinian was shot and killed in the early morning Saturday before the main demonstration began, reportedly as he approached the border fence during overnight protests.
The army said soldiers responded with “riot dispersal means” and live fire in accordance with IDF regulations, noting that most Palestinians attending the one-year anniversary of the “March of Return” protests remained at a distance from the border.
During the protests Hamas actively worked to keep protesters away from the security fence as part of apparent understandings with Israel.
IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis said Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, had “operated with restraint not seen in the past year.”

Popocatepetl Volcano Alert From Phase 2 To Phase 3: Highest Alert Prior To Red Phase And Evacuations

Popocatepetl volcano alert raised after powerful explosion

The National Disaster Prevention Center (Cenapred) raised its alert for the Popocatépetl volcano from yellow Phase 2 to yellow Phase 3 due to increased volcanic activity – the highest warning level before Red Alert on March 28, 2019.

El Popo, as the volcano located in Puebla and Morelos is commonly known, recorded one of its strongest explosions in recent years last week and another eruption occurred at 6.50 am today, sending a 2.5-kilometer ash plume into the air.
Several other explosions have occurred in recent weeks.
Cenapred said in a statement issued at 11:00am on March 28, 2019, that 61 exhalations had occurred at the volcano during the past 24 hours and warned people to not go near the volcano and especially the crater due to the danger of falling ballistic fragments.
The yellow Phase 3 alert is the highest warning level before the red phase in which people living near the volcano are advised to be ready to evacuate. Around 275,000 people live within a 30-kilometer radius of Popocatépetl, which last recorded a major eruption in the year 2000.
Following today’s elevation of the alert level, Civil Protection chief David Romero urged citizens to remain calm, explaining that the increased activity at Popocatépetl represented a “normal change in the volcano.”
However, he added that authorities will carry out inspections of temporary shelters and evacuation routes to ensure that they are ready should the alert level be raised again. A 12-kilometer “security radius” has already been implemented.
Civil Protection authorities in Puebla warned that falling ash could affect the municipalities of Tochimilco, Atzitzihuacan, Huaquechula, Tepemaxalco, Acteopan, Cohuecan, Tepexco, Tepeojuma and Izúcar de Matamoros over the next 12 hours.

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U.S. Midwest Apocalypse: At Least 1 Million Acres Of Farmland Destroyed

Midwest Apocalypse: According To Satellite Data, “At Least 1 Million Acres Of U.S. Farmland” Have Been Devastated By Floods

We have never seen anything like this before.  According to satellite data that was just released by Reuters, “at least 1 million acres of U.S. farmland” were covered by water for at least seven days this month.  That is an agricultural disaster without equal in modern American history, and yet the mainstream media is treating this like it is some sort of second class story.  It isn’t.  This is the biggest news story of 2019 so far, and people want to know what is going on.  A few days ago, I posted a story entitled ‘“As Many As A Million Calves Lost In Nebraska” – Beef Prices In The U.S. To Escalate Dramatically In The Coming Months’, and it has already been shared on social media more than 145,000 times.  Farming communities all over the central part of the nation now look like war zones as a result of all this flooding, but the media elites on the east and west coasts don’t want to write about it.  And with more flooding on the way for the next two months, this crisis is only going to get worse.
This is the time of year when farmers are gearing up to plant wheat, corn and soybeans, and now a substantial portion of our farmland will not be able to be used at all this year.  According to Reuters, at least a million acres of farmland were covered by floodwaters for at least seven days this month, and that “will likely reduce corn, wheat and soy production this year”…

At least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of U.S. farmland were flooded after the “bomb cyclone” storm left wide swaths of nine major grain producing states under water this month, satellite data analyzed by Gro Intelligence for Reuters showed.
Farms from the Dakotas to Missouri and beyond have been under water for a week or more, possibly impeding planting and damaging soil. The floods, which came just weeks before planting season starts in the Midwest, will likely reduce corn, wheat and soy production this year.
And with “as many as a million calves” lost to the flooding, a lot less food than anticipated is going to be produced in the United States for the foreseeable future.
Between March 8th and March 21st, almost 1.1 million acres of cropland and over 84,000 acres of pastureland were covered by water for at least a week.  With more rain on the way, it is essentially going to be impossible for most of those acres to be usable this year.
In Iowa, 474,271 acres were covered by floodwaters for at least seven days in March, and Iowa farmers are facing some very tough deadlines.  Corn must be planted by May 31st and soybeans must be planted by June 15th in order to qualify for flood insurance.  For most Iowa farms that were covered by floodwaters, that is going to be impossible.

Overall, the recent flooding caused “at least $3 billion” in economic damage according to authorities, but many believe that the final number will be far higher.
Thousands upon thousands of farms have been completely destroyed, and thousands upon thousands of farmers will not plant any crops at all this year.
In addition to the vast agricultural devastation that we have witnessed, thousands upon thousands of homes have been destroyed as well, and now the National Ground Water Association is warning that “the safety of more than a million private water wells” could be compromised…

Five Rockets Shot Into Israel, 40,000 Protest At Gaza Border, 3 Killed

Gazans shoot five rockets at Israel after day of 'restrained' border protests

Several rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel early Sunday, officials said, marking a likely setback hours after the sides appeared to be headed for an unofficial truce following a day of low-level violence along the border.
There were no reports of injuries or damage from the rocket fire, the Eshkol Regional Council said in a statement.The Israel Defense Forces said five rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza after sirens sounded in the Eshkol region adjacent to the southern Gaza Strip at about 12:40 a.m.
The Israel Defense Forces said five rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza after sirens sounded in the Eshkol region adjacent to the southern Gaza Strip at about 12:40 a.m.
Explosions had been heard and “rocket strikes had been pinpointed to open areas,” the regional council said. It said searches were underway to locate the fired munitions.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Gaza.
The strikes would appear to be the first rocket fire since a round of heavy fighting waned on Wednesday, following a flareup sparked when a rocket hit a home in central Israel, injuring seven people.
The renewed fire will likely place a damper on efforts between the sides to mediate a truce, after both sides expressed satisfaction with a relative lack of violence during large protests along the border Saturday, leading to hopes that understandings could be reached soon. It may also put the kibosh on plans to reopen two crossings in and out of the Strip on Sunday.

Over 40,000 Palestinians took part in protests at the Gaza border Saturday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said, with some rioters throwing grenades and explosives toward the security fence as well as lobbing rocks at troops and burning tires.
The army said soldiers responded with “riot dispersal means” and live fire in accordance with IDF regulations, noting that most Palestinians attending the one-year anniversary of the “March of Return” protests remained at a distance from the border.
The coastal enclave’s Hamas-run health ministry said three Palestinians were killed during the protests, while at least 200 were injured. Most of those hurt were lightly wounded, but three were said to be in critical condition.
The dead Palestinians were 17-year-old Adham Nidal Sakr Amara, who was apparently shot in the head, and another 17-year-old, Tamer Abu Khair, who was shot in the chest. Late on Saturday the ministry said another 17-year-old, Bilal al-Najjar, had succumbed to his wounds after being shot during the protests.
The Hamas-run interior ministry said it had deployed 8,000 security personnel along the border to prevent demonstrators from approaching the fence, Army Radio reported. Channel 12 said this was the first time in a year that Hamas had acted in this way to keep a check on the protests.
But warnings to stay far back from the heavily fortified fence that marks the border were not being heeded by all.
“We will move towards the borders even if we die,” said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag. “We are not leaving. We are returning to our land.”
Channel 12 news said two boys, aged 8, crossed the border, one of them carrying a knife, and that they were sent back into Gaza.
The report said there were no major attempts to breach the fence and the protests were more of the level of some of the weekly Friday protests this past year, rather than the fiercer riots for which the IDF had been braced.
Meanwhile, a fire broke out in a farming community in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon. Authorities said they were looking into whether an incendiary balloon launched from the enclave sparked the blaze.
A spokesman for Hamas warned Israel that the terror group would respond if Israel did not honor unspecified “understandings” regarding the border.

“The resistance is ready on the ground and is monitoring Israel’s commitment to the understandings to stop the killing and violence,” Fawzi Barhoum said, according to the Ynet news site.
“If Israel won’t honor this, the resistance is ready to respond and change the equation. Today is a crossroads in our relation to the occupation.”
Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim called Saturday’s protest “a very important message sent from Gaza today to all parties, mainly the Israelis and the international community.
“Gazans today are gathering here, thousands and thousands of people peacefully, to raise their voice against aggression and the imposed siege on Gaza,” he told AFP.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Rumors Of War: Islamic Jihad Warns Israel Of War If Civilians Killed During Protests

Islamic Jihad warns Israel of war if civilians killed during protests

The Islamic Jihad terror group on Friday warned Israel of war if Palestinian civilians were killed at mass protests planned for Saturday.
A spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, the Iranian-backed group’s military wing, made the threat after calling for civilians to join the demonstrations in a video posted on the organization’s website.
“We caution the Zionist enemy against the spilling of Palestinian blood and emphasize that killing civilians will not bring it anything other than war,” the spokesman, Abu Hamza, said in the video.

Tens of thousands of Gazans are likely to join Saturday demonstrations for Land Day, which marks a 1976 decision by the Israeli government to seize thousands of dunams of Arab-owned land in the Galilee region of northern Israel.
This year’s march also marks a year since the start of weekly violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border, known as the “March of Return.” The protests have at times escalated into full-blown exchanges of fire between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, most recently earlier this week.
Israel maintains that Hamas, a terror group that seeks to destroy the Jewish state, appropriated the campaign for nefarious purposes, using the civilian protesters as cover for violent military activities.

The Israeli military’s primary concern in these March of Return protests is that large groups of people will break through the fence, armed with guns, grenades and knives, and either enter one of the Israeli communities located a few hundred meters from the border and attack those inside, or kidnap soldiers stationed along the security fence.

The IDF deployed three additional brigades to the Gaza Division, along with an artillery battalion, and called up reservists from air defense and other select units.