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Oil interest heats up maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon

sott.net -

A long-running dispute between Israel and Lebanon over a maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea has reached boiling point as both sides want to secure multibillion-dollar energy investments from the oil and gas rich area. Lebanese politicians have reacted with anger over a bill in the Israeli parliament that would seek to establish the country's sovereignty over the territory.

Sun halo awes visitors to Anhui province in China

sott.net -

On March 26, a solar halo appeared in the sky above the historic city of Huangshan, in east China's Anhui Province. According to local media, the halo appeared at around 11am and lasted for almost two hours. Photographers were able to snap some stunning pictures, as the bright halo rings reflected rainbow colors. China Meteorological Administration describes solar halos as optical phenomena that form when hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds refract and reflect the sun light. Solar halos often appear in spring and summer. This was the first solar halo to be observed in Huangshan's Shexian county since 2012.

Rivers of lava flow onto slopes of Mount Etna after eruption

sott.net -

Scorching lava can still be seen flowing onto the slopes of Mount Etna, more than one week after the Italian volcano dramatically erupted. Stunning Ruptly footage shows huge amounts of magma oozing from the 3,329 meter-high mountain. The fast-flowing lava was filmed on Tuesday, seemingly proving that Europe's most active volcano has little desire to settle down after erupting twice in less than one month.

Just rumors? Washington's greater Middle East project 'aims at creating Kurdish state'

sott.net -

The United States has pursued a strategy that entails creating an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East, Chairman of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) Muslim Mihemed told Sputnik Turkey, commenting on recent rumors that Washington has promised to support Kurdish independence in exchange for Raqqa's liberation. "We believe that Washington's Greater Middle East project is aimed at creating Kurdistan among other things. There is a possibility of the US establishing a Kurdish state in Syria and Iraq. This depends on the one who came up with this initiative, Washington. We think that if this project truly exists, it must take into account the rights of all Kurds. Otherwise, establishing a Kurdish state would not be possible," he said.

State of Michigan to pay city of Flint $87 million to replace lead-tainted pipelines

sott.net -

A deal between the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, several Flint-based pastors, and the American Civil Liberties Union, has resulted in the state paying $87 million to replace lead-tainted pipelines with galvanized steel pipes. The state of Michigan will provide Flint up to $87 million to upgrade water pipes and set up water bottle distribution centers so that residents can have clean drinking water under the terms of the settlement proposed on Monday. The deal requires that $47 million of the $87 million not come from the same sources approved last year by Congress and President Barack Obama for $40 million, Booth Michigan reported.

Russian MoD reports some 800 militants head to Syrian border after leaving Mosul, Iraq

sott.net -

At least 800 militants have left the Iraqi city of Mosul and headed toward the Syrian border over the past week, chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said Tuesday. Russian military has repeatedly said that Daesh terrorists would leave Mosul for Syria amid an Iraqi offensive supported by the US-led coalition. "According to our data, at least 800 militants have left Mosul over the past week toward the Syrian border," Rudskoy said at a briefing.

Farmland bird population in Netherlands decreased by 70 percent in 50 years

sott.net -

The number of farmland birds in the Netherlands decreased by over 2.5 million since 1960, which means about 70 percent of the total population disappeared. Some species are almost impossible to find in the Netherlands any longer, Statistics Netherlands revealed on Monday. An estimated 750 thousand of the 1.1 million skylark breeding pairs disappeared. The partridge population dropped by 93 percent, the summer dove population by 92 percent, the tree sparrow population by 93 percent and the black tailed godwit by 68 percent. Statistics Netherlands attributes the decrease partly to agricultural land in the Netherlands being replaced with housing or roads. An increase in fertilization and mowing of the land also reduces the amount and diversity of insects these birds eat. Bird nests are also often damaged or destroyed by intense fertilization or mowing.

Major search underway for 'extinct' Tasmanian tiger after series of plausible sightings

sott.net -

A major scientific search is underway in Queensland, Australia for the Tasmanian tiger, thought extinct for over 80 years. A series of possible 'plausible' sightings have triggered hope a rare species has returned from the brink. Camera traps are being deployed across Cape York Peninsula by James Cook University researchers to survey sites where the creature, also known as the Tasmanian wolf, was reportedly spotted. Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, the last of the thylacine species is thought to have died in a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania in 1936.

Pilotless drones set to hit the skies of Israel

sott.net -

A drone that can fly without the help of humans is one step closer to hitting the skies of Israel. Optimus can fly for half an hour without a human pilot on the controls. Its creator, Airobotics, recently became the first in the world to be granted permission to fly an automated drone. Ran Krauss, CEO of Airobotics, said: 'Our core technology is truly autonomous'. 'That means drones are launched and landed automatically, without need for a pilot.' The vehicle is launched from an automated 'airbase' which is pre-programmed using computer software. 'Our system is easily operated by anyone from anywhere,' he said. 'And drones are deployed from a click of a button.' The drone is fitted with military-grade avionics for precise control and can be pre-programmed to carry out 'missions'. It is fitted with a robotic arm that is capable of swapping batteries, which removes the need for humans to recharge the vehicle.The large-size unmanned vehicle is fitted with a camera capable of streaming real-time aerial video.

Mother slams TSA for 'treating family like dogs' after hour long security screening at DFW causes them to miss flight

sott.net -

A US mother says her family were "treated like dogs" and "deliberately" kept from their flight by Dallas Fort Worth International Airport security, who carried out a pat down screening on her child. Jennifer Williamson's angry Facebook post said her family had "been through hell" after her son Aaron - who suffers from a neurological disorder - was pulled aside by agents from the Transportation Security Administration and subjected to a security screening. Williamson said TSA agents delayed the boy for over an hour, thus missing their flight and being re-routed.

Dead whale removed from beach in Cape Town, South Africa

sott.net -

A beached whale carcass has been removed from a beach between Strandfontein and Muizenberg. On Wednesday afternoon last week the NSRI Strandfontein duty crew and two NSRI Strandfontein rescue swimmers were dispatched to help at Sonwabi beach where officials of the City of Cape Town were dealing with the whale carcass in the breaker surf line. There were no incidents and the City workers removed the whale from the beach.

Lightning bolt kills couple in Mindanao, Philippines

sott.net -

As heavy rains and strong winds battered Cotabato City and nearby towns on Sunday, a couple was reportedly killed by lightning, while more than dozen houses in open fields were destroyed Spouses Kabasalan and Maisa Minulan were killed when lightning struck through their shanty in Barangay Nalinan in Sultan Kudarat town, reported the Philippine Star. "They were killed instantly according to investigators in the Sultan Kudarat municipal police station," Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police was quoted to have said in the report.

Unwanted in Trump's America, Indian IT sector finds a suitor in bitter rival China

sott.net -

An unlikely romance between Chinese industry and Indian IT may just be what the doctor ordered for these two perennially bickering nations. It's a little weird to think of India and China as buddies. There has been at least a half-century of rank hostility between the two most populous nations in the world, ostensibly kicking off when India gave the Dalai Lama refuge, post the Chinese invasion of Tibet. A short but debilitating border war in 1962; claimed occupation of territories by both sides; China's alliance with Pakistan and its efforts to influence other countries in India's backyard -- they all ensure that these two fast-developing nations will never cosy up to each other. And yet, the irony is that there has never been a better time for increased economic cooperation between the two. What is interesting is that this is something the two nations are increasingly doing despite the confrontational rhetoric that seems to perennially dominate the state of affairs between them.

Lies and Coverup of US War Crimes in Syria and Iraq

Stephen Lendman -

Lies and Coverup of US War Crimes in Syria and Iraq
by Stephen Lendman
Early in his administration, Trump is guilty of horrendous crimes of war and against humanity in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere - governing lawlessly like his predecessors, escalating aggression, not ending it.
Delegating authority for military operations to Defense Secretary Mattis, National Security Advisor McMaster, Joint Chiefs chairman Dunford and other Pentagon commanders doesn’t shift responsibility of the buck stopping with him on all administration policies, none more serious than waging war.
Civilians in harm’s way pay the greatest price in all US war theaters. Pentagon terror-bombing massacres them indiscriminately in Syria and Iraq, all targets considered legitimate ones, including residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, mosques with worshipers at prayer, and others.
Pentagon claims about taking great care to avoid or minimize civilian casualties are bald-faced lies. High crimes are either denied or blamed on others. So-called investigations when conducted are whitewashed to absolve US forces of accountability.
Most Americans have no idea about high crimes committed in their name, with their tax dollars, in all US war theaters because media scoundrels are part of the cover-up - either reporting nothing or sanitizing what’s ongoing.
A lengthy New York Times report on Mosul carnage focused largely on tactics, not accountability - no explanation of US war crimes, nothing about indiscriminate terror-bombing, silence on the rape and destruction of the city.
Liberation isn’t the objective. Iraqi ground forces are as vicious as ISIS, shelling and killing their own people indiscriminately. 
Nothing from The Times about the disturbing reality on the ground, including America’s responsibility for creating and supporting ISIS, along with other terrorist groups.
Addressing the March 17 Mosul attack, The Times understated the carnage - at least 237 civilians slaughtered in cold-blood, likely many more once bodies are pulled from rubble, in some cases entire families.
The Times cited US military officials, “insist(ing) there have been no changes to its rules of engagement that lessen the risk for civilians.”
It quoted Defense Secretary James (“mad dog”) Mattis’ Big Lie, claiming “(w)e go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce loss of life or injury among innocent people.”
In all US war theaters, the truth is polar opposite. Overwhelming evidence, from WW II, Korea, Southeast Asia, Yugoslavia, and all post-9/11 wars of aggression, proves  Washington’s culpability for horrendous mass slaughter and destruction, affecting civilians and combatants alike.
America is the most vicious, unaccountable aggressor in world history, responsible for millions of casualties, civilians harmed most of all - directly from war, related violence, preventable diseases, starvation, displacement, along with overall deprivation and desperation.
Government and military officials ignore responsibility for the appalling human toll in all US wars. Nuremberg-level high crimes are committed in all theaters - accountability never forthcoming.
Discussing military operations in Mosul, neocon/CIA-connected Washington Post editors lied, accusing Russian and Syrian forces of “deliberate(ly) bombing…civilian targets, including hospitals, food stores and aid convoys, at the cost of thousands of lives,” claiming:
“In Mosul…Iraqi counterterrorism forces…limit(ed) the use of artillery and airstrikes to avoid civilian deaths, winning praise from humanitarian groups,” adding:
“A (March 17) US airstrike (on) Mosul may now tarnish that record…Confusion still surrounds the incident. 
“Iraqi military authorities” were cited, claiming ISIS booby traps or car-bombing responsibility for what happened.
Fact: Russian and Syrian forces scrupulous try avoiding civilian casualties - why liberating Aleppo entirely from US-supported al-Nusra terrorists took so long.
Fact: No Russian or Syrian airstrikes targeted hospitals, aid convoys or other nonmilitary sites. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Fact: US terror-bombing was responsible for devastating carnage in Mosul. It was no isolated incident.
Fact: Since US-led Iraq and Syria terror-bombing began in 2014, thousands of civilians in harm’s way were massacred in cold-blood. 
Fact: Coverup and/or denial follow all reported incidents of US-led airstrikes, killing civilians in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
The vast majority of attacks go unreported - responsible for millions of post-9/11 casualties, an incomprehensible human toll.
US rules of engagement ignore international law. Washington rules override them. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
GW Bush bragged about being a wartime president. So did Obama throughout every day of his tenure.
So far, Trump is following the same pattern, responsible for devastating carnage on his watch on the phony pretext of combating terrorism Washington supports - likely continuing without letup, perhaps new wars planned against other nations.
America’s permanent war agenda threatens humanity’s survival. Is catastrophic thermonuclear confrontation just a matter of time?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Powerful winds, large hail strike U.S. Southern Plains

sott.net -

Forecasters say strong storms that swept through parts of Texas and Oklahoma are just the beginning of what's expected to be a busy week of severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says the storm system that struck the Southern Plains on Sunday will take aim Monday at Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley states. Forecasters say damaging winds and large hail are the biggest threats Monday, particularly in western Kentucky, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, including the Memphis area. Bad weather is again in the forecast Tuesday and Wednesday in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Colorado Islamic center vandalized but community rallies in support

sott.net -

A man tried to break into the Islamic Center of Fort Collins with rocks, outdoor furniture, and even a Bible, resulting in heavy damage to the building's doors and exterior. About 1,000 people gathered later in the day to show support. At about 4:00am local time on Sunday, a man did "quite a bit of damage" to the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, the center said on its Facebook page. The vandal threw large rocks and other objects to break glass doors outside a prayer room, though he did not enter the building. No one was in the facility at the time of the incident. No injuries have been reported, according to local news outlets.

Britain's SAS special forces to increase 'permanent presence' in London after terror attack

sott.net -

Following Wednesday's terrorist attack on the Westminster estate, Britain's SAS special forces will have an expanded permanent presence in the capital, according to reports. The rumors follow the attack on the Houses of Parliament which saw four people killed in a combined car and knife incident. The attacker was shot dead at the scene. The claims were made in the Daily Star tabloid but have not been confirmed.

Where the Trump-bashing & anti-Russian hysteria is leading us

sott.net -

They said the election of Donald Trump would usher in an era of political repression in which the First Amendment would come under attack - and they were right, although not in the way they meant it: "Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories - some fictional - that favored Donald Trump's presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. "Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as 'bots,' to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said." Aside from sites run by the Russian government, like Russia Today and Sputnik, the targets of the investigation are Breitbart.com, the pro-Trump web site formerly managed by Steve Bannon - now an advisor to the President - and Infowars.com, the "conspiracy" site made famous by entertainer Alex Jones, although the purview of the witch hunt "investigation" is bound to broaden.

'It's a madhouse': Navalny protests were senseless & aimless

sott.net -

Ruslan Ostashko, Live Journal - translated by J. Arnoldski - It's always nice in the morning to read the reactions of the political, media, and spin doctor crowd to some token public event. The unifying characteristic of the wave of analysis thrown into social networks is complete unwillingness by most authors to at least in some sense understand the subject of discussion. They're faced with an entirely different task, namely entering Sunday's events into a specific expert's already ready-made agenda. It turns out that almost everyone spits on the truth. Some are busy promoting the message that "the regime will soon fall and Putin is warming up the helicopter to flee to North Korea" while others are pushing the thesis "Volodin is guilty of everything, he's the one that didn't allow Navalny into the Duma, who needed to be kept handy there as a beacon of democracy." Still others say that too much money is being allocated to propagandize spiritual values in school, yet it turns out that students are en masse coming out for Navalny. It's a madhouse.

Mike Pence Represented Trump at AIPAC

Stephen Lendman -

Mike Pence Represented Trump at AIPAC
by Stephen Lendman
Last March, candidate Trump addressed AIPAC, saying he came “as a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel.”
Its high crimes and threat to world peace didn’t matter then or now.
Railing against the Iran nuclear deal he hadn’t read or understood, he lied calling the Islamic Republic is “a problem in Iraq, a problem in Syria, a problem in Lebanon, a problem in Yemen and will be a very, very major problem for Saudi Arabia.”
The “problem” he didn’t explain is its sovereign independence. It threatens no countries regionally or elsewhere.
Trump let Mike Pence speak for him at AIPAC’s ongoing conference. Like virtually everyone in Washington, he said he and Trump “stand with Israel for the same reason every freedom loving American stands with Israel, because her cause is our cause. Her values are our values.”
Fact: Growing numbers of Jewish Americans and many others oppose Israeli ruthlessness, its imperial partnership with America, one rogue state supporting another - threatening world peace, stability and security.
Pence: “…Trump (intends) finding an equitable and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Fact: Chances are virtually zero, especially with a US administration one-sidedly for Israel, disdainful of fundamental Palestinian rights - putting Zionist zealots in charge of peace talks if they’re held, again assuring they’re dead on arrival.
Pence: “…Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.”
Fact: No nations, groups or individuals threaten Israel except ones it invents - fantasy enemies, not real ones.
Pence: Israel is “a beacon of freedom and prosperity for all the world to see.”
Fact: It’s polar opposite, a ruthless apartheid regime, state terror its geopolitical and domestic strategy.
Pence: “…Trump is working with our military and the American people can know this, we will hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source so it can no longer threaten our people, our allies or our most cherished ally, Israel. And finally, under President Donald Trump, America will stand strong in the face of the leading state sponsor of terrorism. This administration has put Iran on notice.”
Fact: America created and supports ISIS, along with other terrorist groups. It’s alleged war on terrorism is a fabricated hoax.
Fact: America and Israel are the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism. Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are its committed opponents.
Pence is Trump’s bridge to the establishment, a militant Christian fascist, a Blackwater USA supporter, a heartbeat from the nation’s highest office. 
He’s anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT and women’s rights, anti-equity and justice, Islamophobic, militantly pro-war and corporate favoritism at the expense of social justice.
He’s part of the lunatic fringe infesting Washington, a bigoted Christian white supremacist, a far-right religious fundamentalist, serving in the nation’s second highest office.
He’s for virtually everything free societies abhor. Americans have just cause to fear him and other extremists holding top Trump administration positions.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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