Daily News, via SOTT.net aggregation.

US State Department spokeswoman: US warns Iraq of 'consequences' if it buys Russian S-400 missile systems

US State Department spokeswoman: US warns Iraq of 'consequences' if it buys Russian S-400 missile systems

The United States has warned Iraq, among a number of other countries, of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and striking deals to purchase advanced weaponry, particularly the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Neuert said on Thursday that Washington has contacted many countries, including Iraq, to explain the significance of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and possible consequences that would arise in the wake of defense agreements with Moscow. On August 2, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed into law the CAATSA that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

US mediation on Israel-Lebanon offshore oil and gas blocks dispute reportedly failed

US mediation on Israel-Lebanon offshore oil and gas blocks dispute reportedly failed

The US mediation between Lebanon and Israel in a dispute over offshore oil and gas blocks and maritime borders has reportedly failed, Lebanese media reported on Wednesday. David Satterfield, Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, has been shuttling between Israel and Lebanon trying to mediate the dispute, which took another turn for the worse last week after the Hezbollah movement urged Lebanon to remain firm in its dispute with Israel and warned that it could act against Israeli oil facilities if necessary. Comment: Hezbollah can retaliate against Israeli offshore oil and gas operations Lebanon-which shares the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean with Israel, Cyprus, and Syria-has been far behind Israel and Cyprus in exploring and developing its share of resources due to political impasse over the past few years, and a dispute with Israel over Lebanon's southern maritime border.

Moscow unveiling Ethereum-based voting system to prevent election-tampering

Moscow unveiling Ethereum-based voting system to prevent election-tampering

The irony is so thick you'd think it was made from ballistic jelly. But, that's exactly what's needed to contain this shot across the election-tampering bow the Russians just pulled off. According to Coindesk, the city of Moscow is unveiling an Ethereum-based version of its voting system called Active Citizen. By putting the votes on the blockchain, as long as the code is solid, then the results cannot be disputed. This is one of the major promises of the trustless systems the crypto-community has been clamoring about for nearly a decade now. From the moment I heard about Ethereum and smart contracts, the first application that popped into my head was voting. Votes need to be on the blockchain.

Vatican introduces exorcism training for Italian priests to cope with 3-fold surge in demand

Vatican introduces exorcism training for Italian priests to cope with 3-fold surge in demand

The Vatican is introducing exorcism training for Italian priests to cope with a surge in demand for the expulsion of evil spirits. Requests have tripled of late, according to Sicilian priest and trained exorcist Benigno Palilla. The priest told Vatican Radio that the number of exorcism cases has risen to almost 500,000 each year. Palilla put the increase down to the upturn in people seeking out tarot readers and psychics. "Doing so opens the door to the demon and to possession," he said. However, he conceded that not all of the cases were related to demonic possession and some were in fact a result of psychological or spiritual problems. The occult market in Italy is booming, according to a 2017 consumer report which claims 13 million people turn to psychics and pseudo healers annually. Unemployment, economic problems and uncertainty about the future are among the top reasons for seeking these services, the report noted.

Mueller charges Manafort and Gates with new tax, bank fraud charges - no Russian connection

Mueller charges Manafort and Gates with new tax, bank fraud charges - no Russian connection

Special counsel Robert Mueller turned up the pressure on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates, as a federal grand jury returned a new indictment Thursday charging the two men with tax and bank fraud. The new 32-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia comes after Mueller separately charged the pair in Washington last year with money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents for their work related to Ukraine. The new indictment accuses Manafort and Gates of dramatically understating their income on federal tax returns filed from 2010 through 2014. The pair is also accused of bank fraud totaling more than $20 million tied to three loans Manafort applied for in connection with various homes he owns. In all, Manafort and Gates laundered more than $30 million in income, chiefly from their Ukraine work, the new indictment alleges. None of the charges currently facing the pair appears to relate directly to the core of Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But the special counsel has jurisdiction to pursue certain crimes he finds in the course of his probe and appears to have approval from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to pursue some matters the FBI was investigating before Mueller was named last May. Some of the alleged bank fraud appears to have overlapped in time with the Trump campaign. Manafort and Gates joined the campaign in the spring of 2016 to help plan for the Republican National Convention, and Manafort was campaign chairman from May until he resigned on Aug. 19. But the White House has subsequently tried to distance itself from him, with Trump saying at one point that Manafort only worked for him for a "very short period of time."

East Ghouta: Syria wants to liberate it, the West wants to save the terrorists occupying it

East Ghouta: Syria wants to liberate it, the West wants to save the terrorists occupying it

Daily mortar and missile attacks against the Syrian capital Damascus have been ongoing for years but intensified in recent months. The often quoted Syrian Observatory notes: ... raising to 116 persons at least including 18 children and 14 citizen women, who were killed as a result of the fall of these shells since the beginning of escalation on the capital Damascus and its suburbs on the 16th of November, and the SOHR documented the injury of more than 563 persons who were injured in these daily targeting during 3 consecutive months. Other accounts report higher casualty numbers. Some of the attacks on Damascus city hit well-designated targets. The Russian embassy in Damascus has been mortared several times. Earlier this month more well-targeted projectiles hit other Russian interests: Maxim A. Suchkov‏ @MSuchkov_ALM - 4:03 AM - 7 Feb 2018 #Russia's trade mission in #Damascus got hit by 120-mm bomb & is badly damaged. Earlier Rus aid delivery point in the city came under fire killing two local Syrians, Rus non-gov delegation (Christian & Muslim leaders who brought collected aid) had to be evacuated. All these mortars and missiles were fired from east-Ghouta, a Takfiri-held area consisting partly of densely urban blocks and partly of agricultural villages. Some 400,000 people originally lived in the area but the number of people living there now is likely less than half of that.

Florida school shooting survivor walks out on CNN town tall after refusing to ask 'scripted' question - Update

Florida school shooting survivor walks out on CNN town tall after refusing to ask 'scripted' question - Update

Colton Haab, a student who survived last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, refused to participate in a CNN Town Hall on Wednesday night after he was told to ask a "scripted" question. Haab, a junior at the high school, told Fort Lauderdale ABC affiliate WPLG that CNN invited him to speak at the televised town hall in nearby Sunrise, Florida, and that he and his parents had dressed up for the occasion. But CNN then told Haab he would have to read a question that CNN had prepared for him:

Complicit media enable Rep. Adam Schiff's Russian bot conspiracy theories

Complicit media enable Rep. Adam Schiff's Russian bot conspiracy theories

For more than a year, Adam Schiff has been hopping to all the TV stations claiming, without benefit of specifics, the existence of a vast conspiracy between President Trump and Russia. Last week, Laurence Tribe suggested, without evidence, that a plane crash in Russia was related to fallout from the Russian dossier operation orchestrated and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Tribe is a Harvard Law professor, a passionate critic of President Donald Trump, and a known Russia conspiracy theorist. So it should have been surprising that the same day he was tweeting out plane crash conspiracy theories, he also argued in a "facially absurd" op-ed in The New York Times that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., should be charged with obstruction of justice - no, really - for performing congressional oversight of the FBI. Then again, it was only last March that The New York Times published another Russia conspiracy theorist named Louise Mensch talking about Russian hacking. Yes, the same Louise Mensch who believes that the "Marshal of the Supreme Court" told Trump about his impeachment and that Steve Bannon faces the death penalty for espionage. (Forget it, she's rolling.)

SOTT FOCUS: US Establishment Hysterical About Russian Trolls - Even Pro-Gun Tweets Are Their Fault

SOTT FOCUS: US Establishment Hysterical About Russian Trolls - Even Pro-Gun Tweets Are Their Fault

Russiagate is no longer about whether or not Russia 'hacked' the 2016 US election, or 'rigged' it to ensure Trump would win. No, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictments last week against thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities based in St Petersburg means that the Russian government stands accused of the broader crime of 'sowing discord' in the US body politic as a whole. The indictments were based on: information published in 2015, such as a Radio Free Europe article, in Ukrainian a number of interviews with former 'Kremlin troll' Lyudmila Savchuk Facebook, Twitter and Google counsels' testimonies to Congress in November 2017. The Russians are accused of having "the strategic goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election." In order to do this, they adopted false online personas; traveled to the United States "to collect intelligence" and staged political rallies while posing as American voters. As he presented the document, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stressed that there was no evidence that these actions changed the results of the election. No actual votes were altered, nor was there any indication of any links to either the Russian government or the Donald Trump campaign. This was not about 'collusion' or the alleged hacking of the DNC, but about the manipulation of public opinion via the purchasing of social media ads and the creation of multiple social media accounts, which they called 'trolling'. That isn't actually what trolling means - the correct term, as used by the professionals, is 'strategic communications', which the U.S. intelligence community certainly knows how to use when interfering with US politics). Just as the collusion and hacking narratives proved to be pure imagination rather than fact, the 'trolling' was also so limited as to be entirely ineffective politically, amounting to little more than a for-profit online marketing scheme that largely boosted American mainstream media content, much of which made zero reference to U.S. politics. As if to obscure this fact, U.S. political figures and media commentators have hysterically blown this issue out of proportion by placing it on a par with 9-11 and Pearl Harbor.

Trudeau ridiculed by Indians for wearing 'fake and annoying' traditional outfits on his first visit to India

Trudeau ridiculed by Indians for wearing 'fake and annoying' traditional outfits on his first visit to India

Justin Trudeau has been ridiculed on social media by Indians for his 'tacky' and over the top outfit choices while on his first visit to their nation as Prime Minister. While many praised his clothing during the first two days of his trip, patience was wearing thin by the time he attended a Bollywood gala on Tuesday night, before the tide turned against him on Wednesday. Ministers, authors, journalists and ordinary Indians lined up to mock him on Wednesday, saying his wardrobe was 'fake and annoying'. Perhaps taking note of the criticism, the Canadian leader donned a suit on Thursday as he visited Jama Masjid, one of India's largest mosques.

Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri indicted for blackmailing mistress with sexually explicit photo

Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri indicted for blackmailing mistress with sexually explicit photo

Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri has been indicted on a felony charge of invasion of privacy, over the alleged blackmail of his mistress in a nude bondage photo. He is said to be out of custody on a personal recognizance bond. The charges stem from an affair Greitens had with his hairdresser in 2015, while his wife was either pregnant or had just given birth to their second child. Greitens admitted to the affair and apologized, but denied reports that he had tried to blackmail the mistress into silence by threatening to release a sexually explicit photo of her. A grand jury in St. Louis indicted the governor on Thursday, accusing him of knowingly taking photographs of the woman and transmitting the image "in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer." He was reportedly taken into custody but soon released on a personal recognizance bond, pending a hearing scheduled for March 16, 2018.

SOTT FOCUS: The Health & Wellness Show: Hello Darkness My Old Friend: The Ups and Downs of Caffeine

SOTT FOCUS: The Health & Wellness Show: Hello Darkness My Old Friend: The Ups and Downs of Caffeine

Caffeine is the most popular mood-altering drug in the world and a daily habit for millions (or billions?) of people. Whether it's savored in coffee, sipped in tea, devoured in chocolate or downed in cola we can't seem to get enough. Though mostly embraced as a concentration booster, workout and memory enhancer, caffeine has also been blamed for hypertension, sleep disturbances, stress and in some extreme cases, death. Stay alert and join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show where we'll explore the ups and downs of this cherished substance, its 'addictive' properties, withdrawal symptoms, side effects and medicinal uses. Note: We'll be talking about coffee. A lot. Stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where the topic will be coffee and long-lived cats. Running Time: 01:18:07 Download: OGG, MP3 Listen live, chat, and call in to future shows on the SOTT Radio Network!

Wild horses are EXTINCT: Domesticated breeds are now the only ones left on the planet, according to shock DNA study

Wild horses are EXTINCT: Domesticated breeds are now the only ones left on the planet, according to shock DNA study

The last 'wild' horses is the world are not truly wild, according to a shock DNA study. Przewalski's horses, a breed thought to be the last 'wild' species, are the descendants of escaped once-domesticated animals. The research turns the mysterious origin of domesticated horses 'upside down', experts claim. Przewalski's horses now number roughly 2,000 in Mongolia. But researchers this week upended that theory on an examination of the genomes of dozens of ancient and modern horses. 'Our findings literally turn current population models of horse origins upside-down,' said Professor Ludovic Orlando, a molecular archaeologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research who led the study.

Oxfam's 'Aid For Sex' scam exposed

Oxfam's 'Aid For Sex' scam exposed

Oxfam. I'm wondering if I should warn this is not for the faint of heart, or say don't read on an empty stomach. If so, hereby. I know I found it hard. The first and foremost thing the BBC last week felt its audience should know about the sleaziest scandal to come out of Britain in quite some time -and that's saying something- is that an actress had turned her back on the aid organization. Your news in bite-size pre-chewed headlines. While a guy who 'served' Oxfam in Bosnia claims it's nobody's business if he visited the local hookers in his spare time. The head office even specifically refuses to ban staff from doing that. Not violating a staff member's civil liberties trumps a question like what drives desperate women -girls- into prostitution that same staff member pays for with money donated to aid desperate people.

BREAKING NEWS: Alert as two people are shot dead outside a UBS bank in Zurich, Switzerland

BREAKING NEWS: Alert as two people are shot dead outside a UBS bank in Zurich, Switzerland

A police operation is underway in Zurich after two people were shot dead outside a bank. Officers descended on Lagerstrasse amid reports of a shooting near the Swiss financial capital's main train station. Pictures have emerged of what appear to be two bodies lying on the ground outside a branch of UBS in the Europaallee area. A pistol could be seen close to the hand of one of the bodies, according to local media. The circumstances behind the shootings are not yet clear, but police described it as a 'violent crime' and that there is no indication it was linked to terrorism. Emergency crews found one person dead and a second with serious injuries, who subsequently died.

Woman severely injured after being bitten by shark off Sydney, Australia

Woman severely injured after being bitten by shark off Sydney, Australia

A woman is severely injured after being bitten by a shark off the coast of Sydney. The swimmer was in the water at Congwong Beach in La Perouse at 7pm on Friday when she was attacked by what is believed to have been a shark. In the wake of the attack, the local council has announced all beaches in the area will be closed on 'for at least Saturday'. The woman, who is aged in her 50s, was taken to St George Hospital where she is being treated for severe lacerations to one of her legs. A NSW Ambulance spokesman said it was unclear what species of shark had bitten the woman.

Symbolic? Bald eagle found covered in ice in Osage County, Oklahoma (VIDEO)

Symbolic? Bald eagle found covered in ice in Osage County, Oklahoma (VIDEO)

Wildlife officials in Oklahoma shared video from the rescue of an eagle that was unable to fly due to being covered in ice. Oklahoma Game Wardens posted a video to Facebook showing the eagle sparkling on the Osage/Kay county line, where it was found covered in ice by ranchers. Game Warden Spencer Grace responded to the location and determined the icy eagle was unable to fly more than a short distance after being caught in the recent ice storm. Grace captured the eagle and brought it into his truck, where he used the vehicle's heater to thaw the frosty avian for about 45 minutes.

7 dead, 13 missing following landslide trigged by heavy rainfall in Central Java, Indonesia (VIDEOS)

7 dead, 13 missing following landslide trigged by heavy rainfall in Central Java, Indonesia (VIDEOS)

A landslide in Central Java Province, Indonesia, has left 7 people dead and 13 missing. Triggered by days of heavy rain, the landslide struck in Pasir Panjang, Brebes Regency on Thursday 22 February, 2018. A 600-strong search and rescue (SAR) team is working in the area searching for those still missing. At least 14 other people were left injured by the landslide.

Which hairstyles make you look most intelligent and attractive?

Which hairstyles make you look most intelligent and attractive?

Certain hairstyles made people look more sexy, others more good-natured or even more narrow-minded. Medium-length casual-looking styles are judged as making women look more intelligent, a survey finds. These styles are also linked to being good-natured. Shorter, highlighted hairstyles on a woman make them look more outgoing and confident. However, in one of those inevitable and irritating trade-offs, shorter hair is seen as less sexy on women. The hairstyle that gives an intelligent sheen to a man was medium-length side-parted hair. The bad news for men with these haircuts is that they were also seen as narrow-minded. The sexiest hairstyle for a man was rated as short hair with a 'front-flip'. Actors Matt LeBlanc and Ben Affleck both often sport the front-flip. The front-flip, however, was linked to being self-centred.

Washington's NPR got the Russian nuclear strategy wrong by confusing defensive with offensive

Washington's NPR got the Russian nuclear strategy wrong by confusing defensive with offensive

When it comes to Russia, the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) pulls no punches. Moscow's military, specifically its modernized nuclear forces, are featured significantly throughout the report. the attention paid to other potential nuclear adversaries, like China, does not come close to that paid to Russia. The core of NPR's proposed footing vis-a-vis Russia rests on an understanding of Russian nuclear doctrine as offensive, rather defensive. Noted is Russia's monumental advantage in terms of non-strategic nuclear weapons, which the report's authors believe Moscow would use to escalate a conflict so as to intimidate the U.S. into backing down. This assessment has been understandably controversial in Moscow, where officials have for years promised the nation's sweeping nuclear modernization program was entirely defensive in nature. Indeed, former Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, reiterated that several times at the recent Munich Security Conference. "We've been trying to listen to the explanations given for that, but to be honest we have not gotten a clear picture," Kislyak said. "On top of that we get the sense that our American colleagues are looking at [low-yield] nuclear weapons more as a war fighting weapon than classical deterrence. It certainly creates additional questions."

South Carolina wants to make wearing saggy pants illegal

South Carolina wants to make wearing saggy pants illegal

A new law in South Carolina would make it unlawful for people to expose skin or underwear by wearing their pants below their hips. The move is an attempt to curb the apparent popularity of saggy pants across the state. South Carolina House Bill 4957 would make it illegal for a person to appear in public wearing trousers which are "three inches below the crest of his ileum exposing his skin or undergarments". It is presumed the lawmakers meant the 'ilium', (the hip bone) rather than the 'ileum' which is part of the small intestine. "It's unbecoming, it's unprofessional", Democrat Representative Joe Jefferson from Berkeley County, one of the bill's sponsors, told WLTX. Violations would not lead to a criminal record however, he assured his audience. "I understand that some people are assuming that if one is caught, then they won't be allowed to go to college, grants, loans, all these other opportunities will be taken away. That's not the case at all. This is just to prevent these fellas and giving them at least an obligation to realize that they're walking around and they're convincing others to follow them." Jefferson said.

NRA usually stays quiet after mass shootings, except this time

NRA usually stays quiet after mass shootings, except this time

Immediately following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the National Rifle Association did what it always does: It shut up. The biggest gun rights group in the nation didn't put out a statement on the shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 people. Its Twitter stayed dormant for five days. The group's Facebook page stayed quiet for four days, posting a lone missive on Monday, alerting followers to a billboard in Kentucky that read: "Kill The NRA." But outside of that, there was zilch. It was a case study in the public relations strategy known as "riding out the storm." But not everyone under the NRA umbrella stayed silent. In the hours after Parkland, NRA TV, the television channel run by the gun rights lobby, continued producing content. At first, its anchors struck a conciliatory tone, noting that they shared the objective of making schools a safe place for children. Then they began pushing the company line: that school resource officers needed to be tactically trained and armed to prevent such shootings from being more gruesome. Then, it turned aggressive. Over the past two days, NRA TV has gone after both law enforcement for bungling the shooting and media outlets for calling for more expansive gun laws. Host Dan Bongino accused the New York Daily News of being both "pure filth" and "not worthy of collecting dog excrement" - aka actual filth. Host Dana Loesch called for protesters to march "to the FBI offices" for its failure to act on the numerous reports it received that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was dangerous and potentially unstable. Grant Stinchfield, another NRA TV host, added his thoughts on the Fourth Estate on Monday, suggesting reporters were eager for another shooting to push a gun control agenda.

Tensions escalate: US Navy and Russia both send warships to the Black Sea

Tensions escalate: US Navy and Russia both send warships to the Black Sea

After a series of close encounters between Russian and NATO military aircraft over the Black Sea in recent months, the waterway is now seeing a ramping up of naval activity as well. According to a statement released by the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney has now joined its sister ship, the USS Ross in the waterway that sits on Europe's eastern flank. Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive," US Navy Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, the commander of 6th Fleet, said in a press release. "We operate at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region. By nature, ships are flexible, mobile forces, and the Navy is uniquely capable of providing credible and capable forces to defend our nation's interests throughout the world."

Russian warplanes target 'rebels' in Syria with relay bombings over east Damascus

Russian warplanes target 'rebels' in Syria with relay bombings over east Damascus

Russian warplanes have gone all-out over the skies of Damascus' East Ghouta region for another night, carrying out consecutive relay bombings against militant targets for hours on end. According to military-affiliated sources, Russian airpower conducted a general strike mission across all of militant-held East Ghouta, targeting rebel tactical positions, movements and gathering points with precision weapons. The night operation saw four to six warplanes - all airborne at the same time - deliver at least 30 strikes in relay to one another in a 'scout-designate-attack' fashion similar to how US airpower conducts itself. The up-scaled Russian bombardment effort over East Ghouta follows the very recent reinforcement of its air group in Syria represented by the arrival of ten new warplanes (as far as visual confirmation confirms) among which are two Su-57 stealth fighters.

Palestinian detainee dies in custody after brutal beating in West Bank (VIDEO)

Palestinian detainee dies in custody after brutal beating in West Bank (VIDEO)

A Palestinian man died hours after he had been severely beaten during an arrest by Israeli forces amid clashes in the West Bank. While the troops are accused of intentionally killing the man, the IDF say he tried to attack them. The confrontation between the 33-year-old Yassin al-Saradeeh and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) took place in the city of Jericho at dawn on Thursday during a demonstration. The video posted by the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) on Twitter allegedly shows the moment when the man runs towards the Israeli troops after throwing some objects at them. As seen on the footage, the group of at least six soldiers knocks him to the ground, with some of them beating the Palestinian with their guns to the head, before arresting him.

Wales: 1,000-year-old "pollard" oak tree on Offa's Dyke falls

Wales: 1,000-year-old "pollard" oak tree on Offa's Dyke falls

One of the oldest trees in Wales which was probably planted 1,000 years ago as a boundary marker along Offa's Dyke has fallen down. The Buttington Oak was spotted collapsed in its field two miles from Welshpool in Powys by a man nicknamed the "tree hunter". Rob McBride said he was sad to see such a significant tree grounded.

Not just meat: MycoWorks is growing leather in a lab - from mushrooms

Not just meat: MycoWorks is growing leather in a lab - from mushrooms

Apart from Modern Meadow, a company that grows leather in the lab, another start-up is giving leather makers a run for their money. MycoWorks is using fungi to produce leather substitutes, through a process that's cheaper and faster. MycoWorks' chief technical officer Phil Ross has been collecting and growing mushrooms since the 1980s. He discovered the vast possibilities resulting from manipulating the growing conditions of the mushroom mycelium-the spiderweb-like fibers that extend through soil or decaying matter to gather nutrients. "Fungi are very sensitive; they will change their growth in relationship to how they're being poked and things like that," Ross says. "You put it in a cup, it would take the shape of a cup."

Syria is turning into a black hole of Cold War entanglements

Syria is turning into a black hole of Cold War entanglements

The chaos on the ground is providing opportunities for the Russians and Americans to come to blows, writes Alan Philps It was only two months ago that Vladimir Putin declared victory in Syria and announced - not for the first time - that he would start withdrawing Russian forces. It was understood that Mr Putin, facing an election campaign next month, was keen to move the Syrian war to a new stage, that of diplomacy where Russian diplomats and generals would oversee a difficult peace process. The war has indeed reached a new stage - but it is one of escalating violence and grotesque chaos as the cast of outside powers and foreign mercenaries clash in a blood-soaked scramble for power and influence. How has this come about, and when might the longed-for endgame come to pass? The salient feature is that Russia and the US are more deeply engaged in Syria than ever. Despite their premature claim of victory, the Russians are there to stay as the leading outside power. It had been thought that the Americans might withdraw from Syria now that the Salafi-jihadists of ISIL have been defeated there and in Iraq. But Washington has made clear that the 2,000 military personnel will remain for the foreseeable future to counter Iran. Comment: The difference is that Russia is in Syria at the invitation and permission of the legitimate Syrian government, while the US is there illegaly. The war would certainly be over if the US was not being so obnoxious.

Rothschild propaganda rag The Economist portrays Putin as octopus - projection or envy?

Rothschild propaganda rag The Economist portrays Putin as octopus - projection or envy?

Now consider one of the earliest cartoons that used this image:

Trump mulls pulling ICE from uncooperative 'sanctuary' California: 'They'd beg us to come back'

Trump mulls pulling ICE from uncooperative 'sanctuary' California: 'They'd beg us to come back'

President Donald Trump said he is "thinking about" ordering border patrol and immigration enforcement out of California over the state's sanctuary policies, to demonstrate that it would result in a crime wave. Trump brought up California's "sanctuary state" policies at Thursday's meeting about school safety at the White House, prompted by last week's mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. "Frankly, it's a disgrace. The sanctuary city situation," Trump told a gathering of his Cabinet members, state and local officials. "If we ever pulled our ICE out... in two months they'd be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what? I'm thinking about doing it."

13yo Ohio student sneaks rifle into school & fatally shoots himself in bathroom

13yo Ohio student sneaks rifle into school & fatally shoots himself in bathroom

A 13-year-old student has died after shooting himself in the restroom of an Ohio middle school. The teen managed to take a large-caliber rifle unnoticed all the way to school just days after a horrific school shooting in Florida. Seventh grade student Keith Simons died on Wednesday, the day after he had shot himself inside the bathroom of Jackson Memorial Middle School. "I have a student who shot himself in the bathroom. He has a strong pulse but I need an ambulance," a person seeming to be a school official told the 911 operator right after the incident, according to a recording circulating in local media. The 13-year-old took the 22-caliber long rifle from his mother's house and smuggled it into school by concealing it beneath his clothes, according to police. The student took a school bus, but no one noticed the gun despite the boy having multiple conversations on the way.

Controversial scientist claims world's first human head transplant... on a corpse

Controversial scientist claims world's first human head transplant... on a corpse

The world's first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China, according to a controversial Italian doctor who said Friday that he and his team are now ready to perform the surgery on a living person. Dr. Sergio Canavero, chief of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, said the operation was carried out by a team led by Dr. Xiaoping Ren, who last year successfully grafted a head onto a monkey's body. "The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. A full head swap between brain-dead organ donors is the next stage," Canavero said at a press conference in Vienna, the Telegraph of the UK reported. "And that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent," said Canavero, who gained a mix of fame and notoriety in 2015 for his Frankenstein-like plans to achieve his feat within two years.

2,700-year-old clay seal found in Jerusalem bearing the name Isaiah

2,700-year-old clay seal found in Jerusalem bearing the name Isaiah

A 2,700-year-old clay seal found in Jerusalem may bear the 'signature' of the biblical prophet Isaiah. Researchers believe the Hebrew script impressed into the clay once read 'Belonging to Isaiah the prophet.' If it did, the clay would be the first direct evidence of the existence Isaiah outside of the Bible. Archaeologists discovered the damaged clay seal during excavations at the Ophel, and area in East Jerusalem in between the 'City of David' archaeological site and the 'Temple Mount'.

'Addicted to guns'? PhD tries to equate owners of guns to those with gambling & alcohol addiction

'Addicted to guns'? PhD tries to equate owners of guns to those with gambling & alcohol addiction

If Renee Garfinkel truly believes the inanimate objects that require interaction with humans are capable of killing people on their own, why is she nor anyone else calling for legislation against other inanimate objects that could produce the same dopamine/endorphin addictive behavior as guns? If you read the article at Freedom Outpost, "The History Of Mass Shootings That Need To Be Heard Before People Demand More Gun Control," several patterns were identified that occur after mass shootings, right on cue, calling for restricting further the people's right to keep and bear arms. Now, a psychologist has penned an opinion piece at The Washington Times claiming America is addicted to guns. Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D., an author and radio host, presented her case for identifying the "gun problem" in America as an addiction similar to gambling.

Suzanne Venker: The vast majority of mass shooters come from broken homes

Suzanne Venker: The vast majority of mass shooters come from broken homes

My most recent article about the Parkland school shooting and its connection to fatherlessness prompted a tsunami of emails. In one of those emails, a man named Fritz asked what I considered to be the root of fatherlessness. I decided to write a follow-up article to answer that question. The subject of "The Desperate Cry of America's Boys" is a difficult one. To point out that boys need their fathers is to shine a spotlight on divorce and single mothers; and that is, admittedly, uncomfortable. But there's no way to address fatherlessness comfortably.

United Nations stealthily prepares Europe for larger illegal migrant flows, regardless of nations' interests

United Nations stealthily prepares Europe for larger illegal migrant flows, regardless of nations' interests

Consider the European refugee disaster of 2015-2016 and the havoc that continues to beset citizens there. Set aside for now discussion of the root cause and motivating force behind this mass-migration. The bottom line is this: Really crummy border security. Yes, this is a generalization of a civilizational event, I get it. So it defies logic when politicians and others advocate for open borders, easy access, and lax immigration laws. Today, US democrats continue their ludicrous claims against construction of The Wall - -a big reason Trump was elected. Clearly, the Dems are willing to risk the safety of fellow Americans for raw political power. Some things never change.

Israel continues to plant Jewish 'tombs' around al-Aqsa Mosque

Israel continues to plant Jewish 'tombs' around al-Aqsa Mosque

The Israeli government is cooperating with Jewish settlement associations to escalate its ongoing Judaization policy at al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the Old City in occupied Jerusalem, the PIC reporter revealed. The PIC reporter on Tuesday quoted eyewitnesses as affirming that Israeli associations started installing fake Jewish tombs around al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli bulldozers were seen carrying Jewish tombstones and planting them around the Mosque to indicate graves, but underneath, there are no bodies, nor skeletons.

Jordan Peterson's '12 Rules for Life: A compass for the lost

Jordan Peterson's '12 Rules for Life: A compass for the lost

When I read Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson's new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, last fall, it read like a bestseller-to-be. Well-written, insightful, and best of all, practical. Since its release in January, it has sat atop the Amazon bestseller chart. And thank God. Peterson's book occupied my mind for weeks after I finished it. His points, or "rules," of personal conduct - surround yourself with people who want the best for you; pursue meaning, not expedience; speak precisely and deliberately - are universally invaluable.

Archaeologists find 7,000-year-old example of one of the world's earliest writing systems

Archaeologists find 7,000-year-old example of one of the world's earliest writing systems

Archaeologists have discovered a new example of one of the world's earliest writing systems near Nova Zagora, a town in the south-eastern plains of Bulgaria, the Sofia News Agency reports. In October 2017, researchers from Bulgaria's National History Museum and colleagues found a well-preserved ceramic tile, dating back to the 6th millennium BC, which features inscriptions of a set of symbols known as the Vinča signs. "This plate is a high form of information transmission and is very complex," said archaeologist Tanja Kaneva.

Teachers go on state-wide strike in West Virginia

Teachers go on state-wide strike in West Virginia

Every single public school in West Virginia is closed. Teachers across the state staged a walkout in protest against one of the lowest salaries in the country and the rising cost of healthcare. It is the first statewide teachers' strike in almost 30 years in West Virginia. Over 270,000 students have been affected, according to the latest enrollment figures from the state Education Department. "I never dreamed 19 years ago when I started teaching that I would have to work a second job to provide for my kids. I knew teaching wouldn't make [me] billions, but I thought it would be enough," second grade teacher Rebecca Diamond told the Huffington Post. On Thursday, teachers and their supporters demonstrated outside the state Capitol and in other cities.

This brutal winter's record breaking weather documented in epic list - and it's not over yet

This brutal winter's record breaking weather documented in epic list - and it's not over yet

The long term forecast for Europe, where it is already colder than normal, shows temperatures plummeting to near -20°C in parts of Central Europe by early next week, extending what has been already a brutal winter. Comment: Brutal cold likely to make comeback in Northeast US following once-in-100-year warmth Since the list below is mind-boggling, you may like to check out SOTT's monthly documentary tracking these changes: SOTT Earth Changes Summary - January 2018: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs Europeans longing for spring will just have to be patient for awhile. Indeed this winter has been a harsh one across the northern hemisphere with record cold temperatures being set from Siberia to North America to Japan. Also a number of places have seen record snowfalls. The European Alps have had one of the snowiest winters in years as snow continues to pile up meters high.

Brutal cold likely to make comeback in Northeast US following once-in-100-year warmth

Brutal cold likely to make comeback in Northeast US following once-in-100-year warmth

Warm air surges like the episode that sparked February records this week in the eastern United States do not mean that winter is over. The weather pattern that produced hundreds of daily record highs and dozens of record highs for the month of February is probably on the order of a once-in-100-years or perhaps 200-years event. More record warmth is forecast for the Southeast states into this weekend.

New island discovered in Russian Arctic region (VIDEO)

New island discovered in Russian Arctic region (VIDEO)

Polar ice melting has resulted in many new discoveries. The following clip taken from Russian nightly news with a transcript below gives the details a new island discovered by two young Russian students recently.

Syria's UN envoy slams Western silence on fatal terrorist attacks against Damascus civilians

Syria's UN envoy slams Western silence on fatal terrorist attacks against Damascus civilians

Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari stressed that endangering the lives of 8 million civilians in Damascus in order to protect terrorists in Eastern Ghouta is unacceptable act. Al-Jaafari made his remarks during a UN Security Council meeting held on Thursday to discuss the situation in Syria. He added that the draft resolution submitted by Kuwait and Sweden to the UN Security Council was not coordinated with Syria - the very country impacted by that text - in any way, which is a big shame. The Syrian diplomat noted that terrorist groups situated in the Eastern Ghouta and designated as terrorist organizations by the UN Security Council have been targeting Damascus with hundreds of rocket and mortar shells on a daily basis, causing the death and injury of dozens of civilians.

Turkish army shells aid convoy entering Afrin - But was it an aid convoy

Turkish army shells aid convoy entering Afrin - But was it an aid convoy

On February 22, the Turkish Army's artillery guns and rocket launchers shelled an aid convoy that was about to enter the Afrin area through the Ziyarah crossing in the northern Aleppo countryside, according to the Hawar News Agency (ANHA). The ANHA added that thousands of civilians from the Kurdish-held areas in eastern Syria had been onboard the convoy, which was transferring humanitarian aid to people in Afrin.

'The US is part of the problem, not the solution': Palestinian protesters throw eggs at US politicians visiting Ramallah

'The US is part of the problem, not the solution': Palestinian protesters throw eggs at US politicians visiting Ramallah

Palestinian demonstrators have pelted a group of US politicians visiting the occupied West Bank with eggs to show their anger at Washington's hostile policies against their nation and in favor of the Israeli regime. On Thursday, dozens of Palestinians gathered outside a research and polling center near Ramallah, where an American delegation, including New York City Council members and civil society groups, was visiting. "America is the head of the snake" and "Americans are not welcome in Palestine," the protesters chanted as they tried to force their way into the offices of the center. Others chanted, "Jerusalem (al-Quds) is the capital of Palestine." Upon leaving the venue, the visitors were pelted with eggs and vegetables by the crowd of protesters, who also chased their bus. The delegation had to be evacuated from the city by Palestinian police forces.

400kg of flour in diplomatic mail: Six cocaine smugglers arrested in tricky Argentine-Russian anti-drug op

400kg of flour in diplomatic mail: Six cocaine smugglers arrested in tricky Argentine-Russian anti-drug op

In an unprecedented joint Argentine-Russian police operation straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster, six people have been arrested for trying to smuggle over $60mn worth of cocaine out of Argentina through diplomatic mail. Back on December 13, 2016, Russian Ambassador to Argentina, Viktor Koronelli, personally alerted Argentinian Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich, of a discovery of suspicious packages in the school annex of the diplomatic mission in Buenos Aires. Argentine authorities wasted no time, dispatching a team of experts by 11pm to check the contents of the 12 suitcases discovered by the Russians. It was the beginning of an investigation that lasted more than a year and was full of cinematic edges. After receiving confirmation at 2am that same night that the bags were full of pure cocaine, totaling some 389 kg (858 pounds), Bullrich, who accompanied a team of Argentine experts to the embassy, instructed the Gendarmerie team to run to the Central Market to buy some 400 kilos of flour. Argentine authorities knew that they only had until 6am before staff began arriving for work. The next four hours were spent by the team replacing the cocaine with flour and placing a GPS tracker inside.

Russian ambassador to US explains how world military cooperation system should develop

Russian ambassador to US explains how world military cooperation system should develop

Countries should develop a system of international military cooperation built on a non-bloc basis that would help combat existing threats like terrorism, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said at the embassy event on the occasion of Russia's Defender of the Fatherland Day. "The world of today faces an unprecedented range of dangerous threats. No one will benefit if a long-term confrontation between different countries or groups of countries is added to that list. We simply have to join forces in combating such evil as terrorism, which truly challenges our civilization," Antonov said on Thursday. "Development of international military cooperation is required more than ever. Our common goal should be developing an equal and indivisible security for all. A system that can adequately respond to modern crises and built on non-bloc basis." The Ambassador stressed that that's the only way to secure peace and tranquility of the citizens.

Neanderthals were painting and decorating at least 20,000 years before humans arrived

Neanderthals were painting and decorating at least 20,000 years before humans arrived

Paintings found in Spanish caves have been found to be at least 68,000 years old, meaning they were made 20,000 years before the entry of modern humans into Europe. The artists, therefore, say a team led by Dirk Hoffmann from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, were Neanderthals. The paintings - located in caves called La Pasiega, Maltravieso, and Ardales - are the subject of a paper published in the journal Science. Hoffman is also lead author of a second study, published in the journal Science Advances, analysing a collection of 120,000-year-old painted and perforated seashells found in another Spanish location, called Cueva de los Aviones. Dating evidence reveals that the artefacts, like the paintings, were fashioned many millennia before the arrival of Homo sapiens, meaning that they, too, were the work of Neanderthals. Hoffman and colleagues note that similar finds in Africa, attributed to modern humans, have been uncontroversially accepted as proxies for symbolic behaviour. With only a few contested exceptions, symbols - artefacts and paintings, for instance - have not previously been discovered in Europe dating to any earlier than about 45,000 years ago. Thus, it has been assumed that symbolic thought and language were the exclusive province of humanity.

Maybe it's not such a crazy idea to believe the Illuminati controls the world

Maybe it's not such a crazy idea to believe the Illuminati controls the world

Questioning the hidden power of elites - whether big pharma or secret societies - is really quite sane If the Illuminati is real, it's got to be the least secret secret society in the universe. It's so bad at keeping itself hidden that its existence is proclaimed all over the internet by people whose investigative toolkit consists entirely of Google and a lively imagination. The most recent would-be whistleblower, however, is far from your usual ex-sports commentator. Paul Hellyer, a former Canadian minister of defence, has blamed the Illuminati for suppressing technology brought to Earth by aliens that could end our reliance on fossil fuels. Why the possessors of such fantastic kit should prefer to cash in on the extraction of still abundant oil rather than on their incredible, exclusive alternative is mysterious. But since the whole point about secret all-powerful elites is that they are mysterious, maybe that's to be expected. Perhaps the Illuminati is like that other great mystery, quantum theory: if you think you understand it, you don't.