Saturday 20th of April 2019

Recent Comments

by Gus Leonisky on Thu, 2019-04-11 05:29

Scientists have glimpsed the event horizon of a black hole for the very first time.

Key points:

  • The world-first image shows the supermassive black hole at the centre of M87, a neighbouring galaxy to our own Milky Way
  • The image is the result of a seven-year project linking telescopes all over the world to create 'a dish the size of the planet'
  • The fact the image matches so closely to predictions is a confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity

Until now, every image of a black hole you have ever seen has been an artist's impression.

"We've been studying black holes so long that sometimes it's easy to forget that none of us has actually seen one," said France Cordova, director of the US National Science Foundation, at one of seven simultaneous press conferences where the scientists announced their findings to the world.

"This is a huge day in astrophysics. We're seeing the unseeable."

The first image shows a bright fringe of gas, which is being squeezed and heated as it falls towards the event horizon of a supermassive black hole at the centre of M87, a galaxy near our own Milky Way.

This cosmic monster sits 55 million light-years from Earth and is 6.5 billion times heavier than the Sun. 

Black holes are notoriously hard to see, because their gravitational pull is so strong that nothing — not even light — can escape once it crosses the black hole's event horizon, the point of no return.

Today's historic portrait is the result of decades of theoretical predictions and technical advances.

"This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers," said Dr Sheperd Doeleman from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.

"We have achieved something presumed to be impossible just a generation ago."

 

BH

The first photo ever released of a supermassive black hole. This image shows M87, which is at the centre of our neighbouring Virgo A galaxy. (Supplied: Event Horizon Telescope)

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-10/black-hole-event-horizon-telescope-announcement-astrophysics/10989534


by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 16:49

The geopolitics of oil in the Trump era

by Thierry Meyssan

The United States have become the leading world producer of hydrocarbons. As from now, they are using their dominant position exclusively to maximise their profits, and do not hesitate to eliminate their major rivals in oil production, plunging their citizens into misery. Although in the past, access to Middle East oil was a vital necessity for their economy (Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr.), then a market over which they presided (Clinton), and then again a failing ressouce whose supply they wanted to control (Bush Jr., Obama), hydrocarbons have now become black gold (Trump). Thierry Meyssan retraces the evolution of this bloody market.

Economy depends primarily on the source of energy to which it has access. This need has always been one of the main causes of war. At one time, it was necessary to put slaves to work in the fields then, in the 19th century, to seize coal with which to feed machinery, and today we rely on hydrocarbons (oil and gas).


To avoid looking at this logic too closely, men have always invented good reasons to justify what they are doing.


Thus, today we believe 

- that Iran is being sanctioned because of its military nuclear programme (which it closed down in 1988); 

- that the installations and assets of the PDVSA (Venezuelan Oil) have been seized in order to transfer them from the dictator Maduro to Juan Guaido’s team (although it is the former and not the latter who was constitutionally elected President of Venezuela); 

- or again that the United States maintains its military presence in Syria in order to support their Kurdish allies against the dictator el-Assad (while in fact the Kurds are mercenaries who do not represent their people, and el-Assad was democratically elected).


These narratives have no real basis in truth and are contradicted by the facts. We believe them because we think we can make a profit from them.


The world market


Hydrocarbons represent the major world market, more important than foodstuffs, weapons, medicine and drugs. At first, they were managed by private companies, before becoming, in the 1960’s, the private hunting ground of states. As the economy developed, new actors stepped in, and the market became increasingly unpredictable. Besides this, from the end of the USSR until the return of Russia, the market became highly speculative, undergoing variations of sales prices between 1 and 4.


Apart from this, the world noticed that many oil fields, after having been heavily exploited, were now drying up. At the end of the 1960’s, the Rockfeller family and the Club of Rome popularised the idea that hydrocarbons were fossil energies, and therefore limited. However, contrary to this belief, we do not actually know the origin of hydrocarbons. The hypothesis suggests that they are probably fossils, but perhaps not. Nonetheless, even if hydrocarbons are renewable, that would not prevent them from disappearing if they were over-exploited (the Hubbert peak theory). Above all, the Club of Rome studied the question with a Malthusian a priori – its mission was to demonstrate that it was necessary to reduce the world’s population because the Earth’s resources are limited. Its belief in the end of oil is no more than an argument to justify the desire of the Rockfellers to limit the demographic growth of the poor populations. Within the space of half a century, we believed on five separate occasions that oil was going to become scarce within the next few years. Yet there still exist reserves which have been proven sufficient to supply the needs of Humanity for at least another century.


The highly variable costs of exploitation (from 1 in Saudi Arabia to 15 in the USA), the improvement of technology, the considerable variations of prices and the ideological debate have several times demonstrated the improbability of a return on investments. However, taking into account the operational delays, any interruption of the investment in research, exploitation and transport provokes a rarefaction of the produce available in the next five years. As a result, the market is particularly chaotic.


The world energy policy


The creation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by Venezuelan Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo, in 1960, progressively displaced the power to fix prices from the oil companies to the exporting states. This transfer was made apparent during the Egypto-Syrian war against Israël, in October 1973 (known in the West as the « Yom Kippur War »), and world oil crisis it provoked.


The United States, which were at that time the major world power, led different policies in the hydrocarbon sector. 

- President Jimmy Carter considered that his country needed this source of energy, and that access to Middle East oil was a question of « national security ». The Arabs and the Persians could not refuse to sell them its black gold or to exaggerate its cost. 

- President Ronald Reagan created CentCom, the US Command for this region (defined according to the knowledge of the oil fields available at that time). In order to apply the policies of his predecessor, he negotiated for permanent military bases and began installing troops. 

- President George Bush Sr. took the head of a quasi-universal coalition and crushed Iraq, which had imagined that it could find its own outlets, and had dared to try to recuperate the Kuwaiti wells of which the British had deprived it. 

- President Bill Clinton and his Vice-President Al Gore inherited a unipolar world, without the USSR. They drew up a map of the corridors that had to be opened across the world (pipelines, highways, railways and Internet zones) and the military operations it would be necessary to conduct in order to build them and ensure their security – for example the war against Yugoslavia in order to build the 8th corridor). 

- President George Bush Jr. and his Vice-President Dick Cheney, convinced that hydrocarbons were soon to become rare, launched a series of wars, no longer for the purpose of grabbing the black gold, but to control its production and market. Returning to the Malthusian theory of the imminent end of these energy sources, they decided to control who would have the right to buy it and therefore be able to keep their population alive. 

- President Barack Obama seized the opportunity of shale gas and oil in his own country and decided to favour its extraction. He was hoping that in this way he could save his country from the Malthusian curse. 

- President Donald Trump took power when his country had become the world’s leading producer. He decided to overturn US strategy.


Donald Trump’s policies


When President Trump nominated the representative from Kansas, Mike Pompeo, as Director of the CIA, we interpreted this unexpected nomination in terms of the President’s difficulty to find allies in the Republican Party which he had just over-run. We had forgotten that from 2006 to 2010, Pompeo had been the CEO of the hydrocarbon equipment supplier Sentry International. He knew how the oil market worked, and knew personally the world’s main actors. At the same time, President Trump nominated Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Tillerson had been the CEO of one of the major hydrocarbon companies, Exxon-Mobil. We should therefore have considered the possibility that energy policy would be at the centre of the actions of his administration.


It is obviously impossible today to estimate the extent of Pompeo’s actions as head of the secret service. However, we may entertain the thought that his older objectives may not be too far removed from those he defends today. And in fact, it so happens that he has just revealed them.


Every year, an advisory board created by the uncontested specialist of the hydrocarbon market, Daniel Yergin, organises an international meeting concerning the evolution of the situation. The 2019 Congress (CERAweek, 9 to 13 March, in Houston, Texas) was the largest international meeting in History on this subject. The CEOs of the main companies of 78 countries were present. Top of the bill was the speech by Mike Pompeo. The whole profession had been notified of the importance of his intervention, and this was the only moment at which the huge room was chock-full.


After having saluted his ex-colleagues, Mike Pompeo expressed his pride for the incredible performances of his country’s oil industry, which, in six years, had become the world’s major oil producer, thanks to new techniques for the extraction of shale. He announced that he had created a special bureau in the State Department tasked with managing energy resources. From now on, the directors of specialised US companies would have to talk to him. His mission was to help them to win markets overseas. In exchange, they must agree to help their own country to apply his energy policy.


This consisted both of producing as much as possible in the United States, and also drying up a part of the world offer in order to balance the market. This is the only way that the country would be able to sell shale oil and gas, since their extraction is particularly expensive.


According to the Pompeo doctrine, it is not a question of reducing world production to the level of demand per quotas of production, such as the OPEP+ has instituted for the last two years, but by closing the door on certain large-scale exporters - Iran, Venezuela and Syria (whose gigantic reserves were discovered only recently, and are not yet being exploited). The NOPEC project (No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act) should therefore soon emerge from the archives. This proposed law, of which numerous variants were introduced to Congress two decades ago, is aimed at eliminating the sovereign immunity that the OPEP countries invoke in order to form a cartel, despite US anti-trust laws. It would enable the pursuance before US tribunals of all the state-members of OPEP+, despite their having been nationalised, for having profited from their dominant position, and would therefore influence the rise in prices.


It so happens that, since the end of 2016, Russia has associated itself with OPEP in order to raise prices. It has thus agreed to diminish its production. This is all the more indispensable for Russia since its economy suffers from Western sanctions, and that the export of hydrocarbons - and also weapons - is one of its main sources of income. Consequently, in the current situation, the interests of Moscow and Washington do not hamper one another, but coincide to avoid flooding the market. This is why Russia does nothing to help Iran to export its oil, and still does not exploit the areas of Syria of which its nationalised companies have acquired the monopoly. It is also probable that it will not help Venezuela in this sector either. As a result, the transfer of the European headquarters of the PDVSA to Moscow has been postponed.


Russia, which saved Syria from NATO’s mercenary jihadists, has never agreed to go any further. Without reaction, it watches the slow collapse of this once prosperous nation. The situation has not yet degraded into famine, like in Yemen, but is inexorably approaching that condition.


However, the United States intend not only to stabilise the world offer, but also to determine its flow, which is the source of the pressure by Washington both on the European Union and its member-states to avoid terminating their pipeline North Stream 2. The point is to free the EU from is dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. In the event that these interventions should be crowned with success, Russia would turn this flow towards China, which would be unable to pay the same price.


Already, in order to respond to the needs of the European Union, the United States are building,as fast as possible, methane ports capable of handling shale gas. Meanwhile, Russia is accelerating the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline, which would create another route to reach the Union.


Besides this,the US Treasury Department is blocking all means of transport for Iranian and Venezuelan oil, and also deliveries to destinations in Syria. The data to which it has access attest that the CIA had begun to observe this commerce in detail since the election of Donald Trump, including during the period of transition, which confirms the idea of the central position of energy in its policies. The attitude of the White House towards Syria is different, insofar as this country is currently unable to exploit its reserves, and Russia is allowing time to pass. The aim is to prevent reconstruction and therefore make life impossible for its people. The CIA is implementing an intense strategy of sabotage against any form of energy supply. The majority of the population, for example, has no more gas for heating their homes, nor for cooking purposes. Worse, a Turkish petrol tanker which was transporting Iranian product to Syria was sabotaged off the port of Latakia. The ship exploded, causing the deaths of its entire crew and a vast oil slick which the Western Press did not even mention.


Considering that Hezbollah participates in the Lebanese government while serving Iranian interests, the US administration extended its ban on the export of oil to Beirut Mike Pompeo is attempting to impose a new distribution of territorial waters which would re-route Lebanese oil tankers under Israëli sovereignty.


In identical fashion, Venezuela gives oil to Cuba in exchange for its military experts and its doctors. The State Department is trying to sanction any exchange between the two countries, particularly since Cuban military experts are considered to be responsible for the support given to President Maduro by the Venezuelan army.


Coming evolutions


For the moment, Donald Trump’s policies can only succeed by diminishing US demand. Until now, hydrocarbons were mainly used to fill automobile petrol tanks, which explains the development of projects for electric cars. Consuming petrol in order to supply electricity is much less expensive in the United States than using it directly in car motors. Above all, electricity can be supplied from various sources on US territory, inexpensively and at stable prices.


It is important to note that the development of electric vehicles has hardly any connection with the ideology according to which we must decrease the production of CO2 to bring down the temperature of the Earth. On one hand because the making of batteries can itself produce large quantities of CO2, but on the other, because electricity can be much more responsible for the production of CO2 than oil, when it is produced by coal, as is the case in Germany and China.


Moreover, the consumption of oil is evolving. On the world scale, it is no longer in priority destined for transport, but for the fabrication of plastics.


The United States will not allow the export of hydrocarbons from Iran, Venezuela and Syria until 2023 or 2024, the date at which their shale production will begin to decrease rapidly, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Once again, the entire geopolitical structure will be overturned.


Thierry Meyssan

Translation 

Pete Kimberley

 

Read more:

https://www.voltairenet.org/article205987.html

 

 

See also: 

guests turned up to hear the news. They also heard a lot more, very little of it good...

 

 

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 16:36

Since March 19th, devastating floods swept across large areas of Iran, triggered by the heaviest downpours in many years. Heavy rainfall began two and a half weeks ago, overflowing rivers, washing away bridges, inundating houses and destroying infrastructural establishments in the northern, western and central parts of the country.

According to the Iran Legal Medicine Organization, at least 62 people have so far been killed nationwide in the natural disaster so far, which has also forced tens of thousands of people, mostly in villages, to evacuate their homes and move to emergency shelters.

Hundreds of people have also been airlifted from the affected regions. The flooding caused the destruction hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure in 24 out of Iran’s 31 provinces. At least 25,000 houses were completely destroyed, while another 60,000 sustained some form of damage.

The Government of Iran declared a state of emergency in several provinces and cities, while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have urged officials to take full advantage of all available technical capacities to save people’s lives.

The Iranian Red Crescent launched widespread relief efforts nationwide, deploying 11,000 personnel to assist more than 192,000 people with life-saving care and support. Their volunteers and staff have evacuated hundreds of people to safety, and have distributed food and items such as tents, blankets and health kits. Thousands of enthusiastic Iranian citizens from all walks of life joined in a nationwide relief campaign.

The Iranian military is also at the forefront of humanitarian response efforts. Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces MG Mohammad Bagheri said after the floods that he has authorized commanders in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), the Iranian Army’s Ground Force, Police, and the Defense Defence Ministry to use forces under their command to provide full and organized assistance in flood-hit areas in a coordinated manner.

One hundred units of the Army were active in flooded areas. The Army scrambled a dozen military transport helicopters, as well as drones, equipped with night-vision. Their units also built several temporary bridges and sent dozens of armoured personnel carriers in order to speed up rescue operations in inundated areas where road vehicles cannot be used.

The IRGC deployed several helicopters, reconnaissance drones, engineering units, and field hospitals. Moreover, 1,341 groups of the IRGC’s Basij (mobilization forces) were officially active in only two northern provinces. The IRGC further announced that in the next step, it would focus on reconstruction projects. A spokesman of the Law Enforcement Police force announced that 4,000 police forces had been sent to the flood-stricken areas across Iran to establish security. The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF) announced that its offices around the country are ready to receive the aid items and deliver them to the flooded areas.

The Headquarters for Executing Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) known as Setad, another Iranian charity organization popularly known as Setad, donated thousands of blankets, tents, boots, shovels, household appliances, medicines and other relief supplies. The organization also distributed several tons of food, sent medical teams and set up mobile hospitals. It also provided boats to take part in rescuing the residents stuck at the rooftops of their houses or were stranded somewhere in the flood. Doctors and medics also are part of this organization, which set up temporary clinics to help provide instant treatment to the injured.

Market Watch reported:


Before flood hits the country, Setad has insured 140,000 rural homes in Khouzistan under the Barakat Insurance plan. The damaged homes will be repaid to rebuild their homes in the area. The Setad also provided 15,000 families with house equipment to replace what the floods had destroyed, such as fridges, washing machines, carpets, and other necessary elements. Many of these families living in rural areas raised cattle, where more than 9,000 of cattle were killed during the natural disaster. 

The Setad was able to replace 4,000 of these, instantly providing many of the families with their previous work so that they would not end up jobless. The officials of the organization promised that as soon as the areas are cleaned and normal life is retained after the floods, they will be able to provide some 3,000 job opportunities to the citizens of these areas.”

 

When it comes to foreign aid, the situation is far from being enthusiastic despite the long-standing practice of international humanitarian assistance. In similar circumstances where innocent civilians are hit by natural disasters, the countries help each other irrespective of political differences, but that is not the case with the latest Iranian floods. In fact, this time, international aid is largely not even possible, all due to the US unilateral sanctions and their newest anti-Iran policy. One may argue that such an outcome was expected to occur, however, history teaches us that earlier bilateral relations on the issues of disasters had been completely contradictory, regardless of all the political tensions.

RETROSPECTIVE

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mohamed Khatami condemned and denounced the terrorist attacks and those who carried them out. The US leadership reacted by declaring a war on terrorism, and Iran offered its support in very helpful ways, especially by providing significant support against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, huge crowds attended candlelit vigils in Iran, and 60,000 spectators observed a minute’s silence at Tehran’s stadium two days after the 9/11 attacks.

Yet, Washington leaders not only failed to reward Iran’s constructive behaviour, but beginning in 2002, they were once more beating once more the drums of regime change and pressing the international community to embrace their anti-Iran sanction policy. Furthermore, in accordance with his aggressive neoconservative agenda, former President George W. Bush labelled Iran as part of the Axis of Evil, outraging the Iranian leadership and ordinary Iranians.

Two years after the 9/11 attacks, the earthquake struck south-eastern Iran and was particularly destructive in the city of Bam, with the death toll amounting to at least 26,000 people. Despite the extremely tense relations, the US offered direct humanitarian assistance to Iran and within less than a week, the emergency response team was deployed via US military aircraft which consisted of search and rescue squads, aid coordinators, and medical support.

The Bush administration temporarily eased restrictions on exports and private assistance to Iran, with US Secretary of State Colin Powell saying that the US Government must do everything it can to help those in need.

“What we are doing in Iran is we are showing the Iranian people that American people care, that we have great compassion for human suffering, and I eased restrictions in order to be able to get humanitarian aid into the country,” Bush said. He also sent demagogic remarks on freedom, terrorism and nuclear weapons, but despite such politicization, the US aid has nevertheless been sent, along with similar assistance of 60 other countries.

Iran tried to respond with the same gesture of goodwill in the late summer of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the south-eastern portion of the contiguous United States, causing severe damage and destruction in several US states and killing more than a thousand people.

It also badly disrupted production in the Gulf of Mexico, which supplies up to a quarter of America’s oil, thus Iran’s envoy to OPEC said his country was ready to send up to five shiploads with 20 million barrels of crude oil to the US. He stressed this could only happen if US sanctions were lifted first, at least temporarily. Iran renewed its offer to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster caused by the spreading Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, following an explosion on a BP-operated oil platform in 2010. The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) announced their readiness to use its decades-long expertise to fight the oil slick.

In 2012, after twin earthquakes that killed some 300 Iranians and caused widespread damage, the US authorities issued a temporary general license to ease transfers of aid. This time Iran rejected a US offer of aid, underlining what it saw as US hypocrisy given that Washington has done all it can to isolate Tehran by imposing economic sanctions, thus provoking a medicine supply crisis. Still, Iran accepted humanitarian cargoes from other countries.

BLOCK, LIE, AND LET ’EM DIE

Putting aside all political tensions, threats, accusations, demagoguery and politicization, the above examples prove that the United States and Iran have helped each other or have shown willingness to help one another. Today, it’s the very opposite situation. Not only the United States did not offer any aid to Iran, but also its unilateral sanctions are preventing other countries and individuals of doing it. In addition to that, the US highest officials are spreading fake news that Washington is seeking to help the flood-hit people, while the US propaganda outlets cover the flood in Iran as a result of officials’ inefficiency. In comparison with the Trump administration, even George W. Bush and his neoconservative government seem like humanitarians.

Ali Asghar Peyvandi, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, told reporters in Iran that his organization has been unable to receive international help for the victims due to US banking sanctions. “We expected the Red Crescent, which is an aid organization that provides humanitarian services, to be exempted from the sanctions, but this is not the case,” Peyvandi said.

Prior to the latest US sanctions, his society had some bank accounts connected to SWIFT and they previously used them to receive international aid, but these accounts are currently subject to sanctions and it’s not possible to transfer money to Iran from other countries or the International Red Cross Federation. The Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communications (SWIFT) financial-messaging service said last year that it was suspending access for Iranian banks. This move came after the US warned that SWIFT could face sanctions if it provided services to Iranian banks blacklisted by Washington.

The world’s largest humanitarian network has released just under 500,000 Swiss francs to bolster local Red Crescent relief efforts. Peyvandi also said that, in the aftermath of a deadly 2017 earthquake in western Iran, his organization had use of the bank account of a hospital that belongs to the Red Crescent to receive aid and transfer it into the country. “We’ve written to the United Nations as well as the Red Cross about the impact of the sanctions on our ability to attract international aid, but we haven’t received any response yet,” he added. Back in October 2018, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the US to halt the unilateral sanctions it had reimposed on humanitarian supplies to Iran, but Washington has refused to relieve its bans.

“Given that the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent have been blocked, no foreign citizen or Iranian national living abroad is able to send any relief aid to flood-hit people,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi explained. Qassemi further said: “Usually, even in difficult and emergency conditions, not all banking systems will be blocked and the sending of humanitarian aid will be possible through bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the US has blocked all aid delivery channels in an inhumane and cruel move.” The Iranian spokesperson urged the international community and international relief organizations to stand against Washington’s vicious act.

On the same topic, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the US is waging economic terrorism against Iran, and it’s indeed far from a tendentious statement. The claim of American officials that they target the Iranian government and not the people is a bad joke. To ordinary Iranians, they are targeting the people, especially the most vulnerable ones like flood victims and hospital patients. However, this is no surprise considering even more monstrous behaviours such as helping Saddam in chemical attacks and genocide, systematic starvation of Iraqi children, destroying Sudan hospitals, and the latest supporting a Saudi-led military coalition that has inflicted profound and deadly damage on Yemen.

Particularly disgusting is the role of the US and UK government-sponsored propaganda media like BBC Persian, Manoto, Radio Farda and VOA which attribute the current floods in Iran to mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness, thus trying to create a rift among people and officials. If we look at their articles published over the last several years or just months, we’ll see that the IRGC and Setad are some sort of “ultra-rich corporations,” while hundreds of Iranian dams built since the 1979 revolution are “mostly useless” or “completely unnecessary” because they were built in arid areas, therefore, they will “never be filled with water.” Some of them even promoted a bizarre conspiracy theory that Persians from central Iran are “stealing water” of the ethnic Arab minority.

Today, large dams in south-western Iran are 95 percent full. In other words, they saved thousands of lives in the ethnic Arab region of Khuzestan, given that the catchment area of Karun River has been subject to devastating floods in recorded history. For example, in 1956 hundreds of people were killed and thousands of people were rendered. Not only full dam reservoirs saved lives, but also prevented the possibility of drought in the foreseeable time, which means that water shortages seen last year are not repeatable. The members of the IRGC and Setad, represented in above-mentioned media as Iran’s fancy elite, can be seen today at the forefront of humanitarian rescue operations, exhausted from work and covered in mud.

The support of this organization is not only with shovels and hands. Setad Chairman, Mohammad Mokhber declared that 140 thousand houses with insurances across the villages that were struck by floods will be rebuilt, whereas also owners of partially destroyed houses will receive some 35 million tomans to fix what needs to be fixed. The US sympathy and aid are missing, claims an unnamed author from the US-sponsored Radio Farda, because “Americans seem to have had enough of hate-speech and words of abuse by Iran’s Supreme Leader.”

This represents a harsh and brutal distortion of the facts since it was Trump who called Iran “a terrorist nation” and adopted new anti-Iran policies which are indiscriminately targeting the entire Iranian population.

Ivan Kesić

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2019/04/09/iran-floods-reveal-us-hypocrisy-economic-terrorism-and-let-em-all-die-policy/

 

 

Read from top.

While the US snubbed the Iranians in distress:

Moscow, April 6, IRNA- Russia is joining world countries to send humanitarian relief to Iranian floods survivors as inundations continue to cause heavy damage in large parts of the country.

“Responding to Iran’s request and in joint cooperation with Armenia’s Emergency Situations Ministry, humanitarian aid for the people hit by the floods has been sent,” reads Russia's Emergency Situation Ministry statement.

The ministry has dispatched four thousand tents, blankets and folding beds to its regional station in the Armenian capital Yerevan. The Russian government created the centre in 2015 in the city in a bid to serve as a regional basis for humanitarian aid for Armenia and surrounding countries.

Flash floods have wreaked havoc in northern, western and south-western Iranian provinces, leaving a trail of destruction behind and killing 70 people so far with thousands of others injured.

Earlier, UNICEF office in Iran has announced that initial supplies are already on their way to Iran to help the Ministry of Health ensure immunization and young child nutrition services are quickly re-established in several flood-affected provinces.

Germany and France as well as Switzerland have also sent it some aid.

Read more:

https://reliefweb.int/report/iran-islamic-republic/russia-sends-humanitarian-aid-iran-flood-survivors

 

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Rescuers from Russia and Armenia delivered humanitarian aid to Iranian victims of large-scale floods, a Russian Emergencies Ministry spokesperson told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"A convoy of the Russian-Armenian humanitarian center successfully delivered humanitarian aid to the Islamic Republic of Iran," the spokesperson said. The next cargo will be transferred to the Iranian Red Crescent Society, he added.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201904101073976572-russia-armenia-iran-floods-aid-delivery/

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 14:26

The fallout from the extraordinary revelations about Peter Dutton's contact with Chinese Communist Party-aligned billionaire Huang Xiangmo is a potent brew, its ingredients the issue of foreign interference and the legacy of last year's leadership challenge.

A tale full of spooky overtones, mates, ironies, and payback.

Monday's Four Corners-Age-Sydney Morning Herald investigation reported that Mr Dutton, immigration minister at the time, in 2015, approved a private citizenship ceremony for Mr Huang's family, who were due to travel overseas.

Mr Dutton justifies the special treatment as being in response to a request from then Labor senator Sam Dastyari.

That would be the same Mr Dastyari who in December in 2017 announced he would resign from the Senate after revelations that he had promoted Chinese interests, including at a notorious news conference where he stood beside Mr Huang.

(Mr Dutton is generous in responding to personal representations — he, it will be remembered, was the minister who provided a quick rescue service for a couple of stranded au pairs).

 

Read more of Dutton's turdy shit on his impeccable suits...:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-10/peter-dutton-chinese-influence/10987658

 

Read from top.

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 13:12

If you're the Prime Minister's pick to try to save a marginal seat, there's an expectation that comes with the spotlight. 

Key points:

  • The Liberal Party holds the seat on a 3.3 per cent margin following a redistribution 
  • Child psychologist Fiona Martin is the Liberal candidate, hand-picked by Scott Morrison
  • Labor candidate Sam Crosby has been campaigning for more than a year 

 

So far that's not the case for the Liberal recruit Fiona Martin, in the marginal federal Sydney seat of Reid.

Parachuted into the seat last week after it was vacated by Malcolm Turnbull confidant Craig Laundy, the child psychologist was formally endorsed by the party's state executive over the weekend. 

However she is yet face any media scrutiny, despite the election coming up sometime next month.

Ms Martin, a regular on TV screens in her role as a psychologist, declined several approaches from the ABC for an interview and has so far confined her campaign to a handful of social media posts. 

The Liberal Party holds the seat on a 3.3 per cent margin.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-10/morrison-captians-pick-for-reid-in-federal-election-fiona-martin/10987274

 

The advertising gure knows how to twist your neurons. This how deceptive advertising works:

deceptive advert

The record shows that the government schools get "notasmuch" (or bugger all) of the increase funding while the "Catholic schools get the lionshare"... Mixing the lot gives an impression of fairness. It's fake and false. A Scummo "quality" education does not mean equality in education. You know that.

 

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 12:47

The mythical novel



There is no question, or is there, that we, as a social group, are on the verge of many changes in an explosion of ideas, some bad some good. Has this form of intellectual change happened before? Sure, such as during the Renaissance, but not at the speed nor the complexity of concurrent conflicting ideas. At large, the diversity of ideas is still controlled by a left/right political dynamic but this is going topsy-turvy with the digitisation of our relationships and our fast improving scientific knowledge. 


Meanwhile, some people hold on to fading concepts such as religious beliefs, and in this regard the Christians are in crisis as they face the rise of another erroneous view of the world: Islam. Islam has more efficient controls of its enslaved subjects, as the Christians have fallen for some progressive illusions.


This adds uncertainty to what should be a stronger scientific secularisation of the world in which we should be able to prevent our destruction of the planet and improve our ability to think and imagine. But we also need to prevent homogenisation of the future. 



As we in society read the same books.


In the United States, the UK and Australia, over the past decade the number of people buying and reading literary fiction has fallen precipitously. At the same time, sales figures for nonfiction books devoted to selfhelp (from the 'How to Kick the Sugar Habit’ variety to the '12 Rules for … [whatever]’ genre) and current affairs, or memoir and true crime, remain persistently strong.


In another time, this might be taken to be an indication that people don’t have the time or the interest in 'frivolous' fiction, and that they are correspondingly serious about learning more about the world, or modern politics, or other cultures, or whatever. But in our time, there is every reason to suspect that this trend reflects a more transactional or utilitarian relationship with the books we choose: we buy and read books that give us what we already expect, or what fill a need we already know, or that we can mine for precisely what we want.
What is missing here is the serendipity that reading a probing, expansive, surprising novel affords, or the opportunities for deep empathy and uncomfortable self-critical awareness it provides, or the personal transformation that the time it takes to read a demanding, exacting novel occasions. This raises an inescapable question for us: Is the something essential for the moral life that is communicated by — and only by — literary fiction?

hear more at the mindfield.

------------------------------

For many people, the new fiction is “The Game of Throne”. For advertisers, this is a dream come true. The fiction novel has been replaced by the fiction flix. Meanwhile, better knowledge about history and investigation of the real deviousness of our actions can be acquired by reading often- improving historical records through books on the subjects — as original conspiracies are exposed.


In the end or is it the beginning, we seem to turn to the “moral” question which means a lot of things — including finding the limit at which we lose the plot — i.e., lose our consciousness, our perceptive awareness and submit to the blancmange, to beliefs, to drugs and to rhythmic sounds.

------------------


But step back and look at what is happening to the Church within Western civilization. We are losing, and largely have lost, our sacred story. Without a sacred story, you don’t have a nation, a culture, or a civilization. Sociologist Christian Smith’s research has documented how completely Christianity has been displaced within Christian churches and communities with a pseudo-Christian ethic that emphasizes well-being and self-satisfaction. Our people don’t know what Christianity is anymore, and don’t know what they don’t know. And you’re telling me that Basketball Jesus is going to be sufficient to withstand the onslaught of time?

Look, I don’t think any of us have this figured out. Liturgical Christians have many more tools to do this right, but far too many of us have become completely captive to the culture, and deny, either actively or passively, the power of our own sacred story and the tools that have been given to us to tell it and live it. Jung said that archaic cultures didn’t just believe their myths, their sacred stories: they lived them. We churches today have to offer a true alternative transcendent story (Smith), and not just as a proposition, but embodied in a disciplined, ordered way of life deeply rooted in the Bible and sacred tradition. This is the only antidote to the catastrophe of dechristianization.




-----------------------------------

Meanwhile:


Are We In Fact Melding With Machines?


It just might be that today’s young “snowflakes” are the obvious products of a lifetime immersion in digitalism.


By JAMES P. PINKERTON • April 10, 2019


We might further observe that computers, by their binary nature, bolster systems of rigidity, even orthodoxy. As techies might say, that’s a feature, not a bug.


(TGus: this is why the search for the Quantum computer is vital for many scientists — and organisations—  in search of breaking this binary straightjacket)


Of course, the geeks who designed all this tech might wish to think of themselves as wild-and-crazy bros, or even revolutionaries. Yet the ultimate Tofflerian reality is that computers and code are about engineering—and engineers are, of course, a rules-based bunch.

Meanwhile, since digital technology works so much better than its predecessors—better at producing wealth, better at providing choice—it’s not surprising that the whole of human civilization is now surfing on this third wave, defying the rocks and the risks.

Yet if there’s a third wave, then there’s sure to be a fourth. And what might that be? One shrewd take on things to come is found in Jack Williamson’s 1947 sci-fi novella, With Folded Hands. In that tale, Williamson imagines a new species of super helpful robots, operating according to the slogan, “The Perfect Mechanicals: ‘To Serve and Obey, And Guard Men from Harm.’”

Sadly for humans—after 72 years, it seems safe to offer up at least something of a spoiler—it doesn’t quite work out that way.

So will With Folded Hands be remembered as accurately predicting the fourth wave, which will be the robot takeover? Or will it be remembered as encouraging humans to think more carefully about who, and what, we’re putting in charge—thus prolonging the prosperity of the third wave?

Surely that’s the great question of the age.

James P. Pinkerton is an author and contributing editor at The American Conservative. He served as a White House policy aide to both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.





The "snowflakes", like snow flakes, have many shapes. They’re not all the same and amongst them, in a similar proportion than in the past, there are geniuses amongst them. We wish them well. We need them urgently for the imagined future.


Read from top.
by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 10:16

The Liberal party is using targeted Facebook ads to falsely claim Bill Shorten wants to tax popular car brands including Holdens, Toyota Hiluxes and other utility vehicles.

The ads – which appeared on Monday – use Facebook ad functionality to target users with an interest in particular vehicle types to make the false claim about Labor’s policy, which includes vehicle emissions standards and a target of 50% of new car sales being electric vehicles by 2030.

The Coalition is stepping up its attack despite the fact the treasurer and former environment minister Josh Frydenberg has spruiked electric vehicles on the basis they will save drivers money and that vehicle emissions standards are still part of the government’s plan to reduce emissions.

The ads, posted by the Liberal party’s official account, state that “Labor’s car tax would mean higher prices on some of Australia’s most popular cars” and encourage users to “sign up to stop Labor’s car tax”.

 

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/10/liberal-party-facebook-ads-falsely-claim-labor-wants-to-tax-cars

 

See also:

the wheels are turning... in scummo's women, now in great number behind him in photo ops, will save your petrol guzzlers from labor's electrics...

 

 

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 07:28

Dr Kerryn Phelps does not need the job of being a parliamentarian. BUT SHE CARES. She knows she is going to get brickbats from the right and the extreme right media, including that rat bag the Spectator, where success is measured by the size of your bank account and your contribution to the destruction of the planet for profit.

 

So if you live in Wentworth and are thinking of voting for Scummo's "sharming" pooch because that's your Liberal (CONservative) tradition — given the savage self-absorption you may be about to let loose upon the nation with Scummo and his rabid crew — change and vote with your heart and mind rather than your wallet. THINK! Open your eyes. Sure, you could not really stretch your ideas so far as to vote for the Labor Party... Yuck!

 

So, vote for Kerryn, she is one of your own rich breed, but SHE CARES about the future. She has a conscience. And remember she was that doctor who saved your life when you were sick (possibly self-inflicted with rich food and booze). She knows that the future is not with digging more holes for petroleum, coal or gas. She truly is a HUMANITARIAN and a Hippocratic doctor. Scummo is an expedient hypocrite who used to be in advertising. 

by Gus Leonisky on Wed, 2019-04-10 06:32

Full Episode of "The Battle of Rio"

"People want to break the system - and the great symbol to break the system was Bolsonaro" – Rodrigo Amorim, MP and friend of new President Bolsonaro 

Jair Bolsonaro vaulted to power on a pledge to smash corruption and endemic violent crime that sees around 60,000 in Brazil murdered each year. Bolsonaro lets police shoot to kill, his army of supporters love him for it. It seems not to matter that the former soldier praises past military dictatorships, or that he trash-talks women, or that he is a homophobe.  

But there was one killing that’s become a rallying point for those who oppose the new president. Black, gay, favela-raised politician Marielle Franco was a fierce critic of a policing system that kills a reported 5000 people a year.

A year ago she and her driver were gunned down by unknown assailants. Just this month, two ex-military police were arrested in connection with the killings. 

In death, Marielle Franco looms as large as she did in life. As preparations get under way for the spectacular annual Carnaval, huge flags are unfurled bearing her image. She has become a heroine and galvanising figure for opponents of the new order. 

In Rio, reporter Sally Sara moves from wealthy gated communities to crime-infested favelas to explore why yet another democracy has turned to a hard-right absolutist leader.

 

See more:

https://www.abc.net.au/foreign/

 

 

Read from top.

 

See also: http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/5820