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Sat, 20 Apr 2019
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Lucky break: Sixteen bronze statues removed from Notre Dame just 3 days before it went up in flames

Bronze Statues removed Notre Dame

Sixteen bronze statues briefly took to the skies over Paris after they were removed from the Notre-Dame cathedral to undergo restoration work.
Tourists at the world-famous landmark were left stunned on Thursday as the statues - representing the 12 apostles and the four evangelists from the New Testament - were lifted off the spire of the cathedral by crane.

"What's unique is that it's the first time we've seen them up close since they were set up by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1860s," Marie-Helene Didier, who is in charge of the renovation work, told AFP.
Bronze Statues removed Notre Dame

Comment: Paris' Legendary Notre Dame Cathedral Destroyed by Fire


Numerous government websites taken down in response to Julian Assange's arrest

Assange anon
Following this week's arrest of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange in London, the hacktivist group Anonymous released a video calling for his captors to be held accountable.

The video showed the classic Anonymous figure wearing a Guy Fawkes and speaking with a distorted voice.

"Many powerful forces from all over the world have worked to make this possible. Influential people representing the governments of the UK, the United States, and Ecuador have all signed off on this unprecedented attack on journalism. These interests have acted against the people without fear because they believe that their positions of power will grant them protection from the karmic consequences of reality," the message said.


The production of hemp can be part of a real "Green New Deal"

AOC hemp
Instead of taxing Americans into oblivion with $50 trillion programs to legislate a cleaner environment, cultivating hemp is a far better option.

In February, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Senator Edward Markey introduced the Green New Deal, a radical piece of legislation designed to overhaul America's economy in the name of fighting global warming. The implementation of this "deal" is estimated to cost upwards of $50 trillion and may be as high as $90 trillion.

One of the Green New Deal's goals is to meet "100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources" in the next 10 years. This alone would cost taxpayers upwards of $13 trillion.

Exactly where this money would come from is a mystery as the US currently owes over $22 trillion in debt. The green new deal could prove to be catastrophic in regard to the economy and would like be riddled with corrupt government contracts and ineffective bureaucracies. Luckily, however, there is a free market solution to fighting pollution and fostering a cleaner more renewable future for generations to come. That solution is hemp.


Day before Notre Dame fire, ANOTHER apartment complex exploded in Paris - 2nd such incident in 1 week

rue pajol explosion paris apartment
© Twitter / @marxdorm
A five-storey apartment complex at 49 Rue Pajol in the eighteenth arrondissement of the French capital was badly damaged by an explosion of unknown origin on Sunday night. The whole building has been evacuated because of the risk of it collapsing, with 70 residents being relocated to an emergency shelter.

Two apartments were completely destroyed. According to firefighters, a woman has suffered burns on 20% of her body, but she is in stable condition. A man was also slightly injured.


Hmmm... Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem catches fire at the same time as Notre Dame cathedral

al aqsa mosque fire

The blaze didn’t cause significant damage, but it did endanger a part of the worship site that’s over 2,000 years old.
As the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame burned in Paris, a fire broke out at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

A fire broke out at the roof of a structure known as Al Marwani prayer room in Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The blaze didn't cause significant damage, but it did endanger a part of the worship site that's over 2,000 years old.

The Palestine News Agency cited a guard as saying Monday that "the fire broke out in the guard's room outside the roof of the Marwani Prayer Room, and the fire brigade of Jerusalem Islamic Waqf handled the matter successfully."

Comment: The courtyard or the roof? A courtyard on the roof?

This small fire wouldn't be newsworthy, but for its extraordinary timing...

Wall Street

Goldman analysts see lower credit costs for Indian lenders, boosting GDP

goldman sachs
A decline in credit costs of Indian banks is likely to boost the capacity of lenders to extend loans and, in turn, boost growth in the world's fastest-growing major economy.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said India's measures to improve the recovery of bad loans and a recapitalization plan equivalent to 1.1 percent of gross domestic product will lower costs for lenders.

"We estimate that credit costs -- how much banks set aside each year to deal with bad loans -- could fall from a peak of 230 basis points of banking system assets, or around 3.3 trillion rupees ($48 billion), in FY18 to 120 basis points, or 1.9 trillion rupees, in FY20," the analysts said in a note.


Belgian cybersecurity agency determines there are no security threats from Huawei tech

Huawei brand logo
© REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The Huawei brand logo is seen above a store of the telecoms equipment maker in Beijing, China, March 7, 2019.
Belgium's center for cybersecurity has found no evidence that telecoms equipment supplied by Huawei Technology could be used for spying.

The agency, which reports to the Belgian prime minister, had been tasked with analyzing the possible threat posed by Huawei, which supplies equipment to Belgian mobile operators Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet.

"Until now we have not found technical indications that point in the direction of a spying threat," a spokesman for the agency said on Monday. "We are not providing a final report on the matter, but are continuing to look into it."

Comment: The US persecution of Huawei is purely political and economic. And Trump's strong-arm tactics do not appear to be working.

See also:


Coincidence? Fires destroy 3 old Orthodox churches in New York City, Sydney and Melbourne on Orthodox Easter Sunday

Comment: Notre Dame Cathedral being completely destroyed this Holy Week reminds us about a series of major fires during Easter three years ago...

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St Sava
© getty
The charred remains of the roof of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St Sava, which went up in flames in Manhattan, NYC, on May 1st.
Investigators in three cities are looking into large fires at Orthodox churches that occurred around the religion's Easter celebrations and caused widespread damage.

The blazes in New York City, as well as Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, caused only minor injuries, according to multiple reports.

The New York City conflagration on Sunday at the Trinity Chapel Complex that was host to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Manhattan produced dramatic images of flames shooting through windows that filled social media.

FDNY investigators haven't given any indication yet what started the blaze, reports CBS New York. Only the church caretaker was injured when he rushed in to try and put the fire out, which began shortly after parishioners had wrapped up Easter celebrations at the cathedral.

Comment: Curiously, the Valaam monastery in Russia also caught fire on Easter Sunday, 2016.

The British Daily Mail came up with a conspiracy theory: Catholics around the world conspired to torch these churches because they're upset at the Orthodox Church for blocking the canonization of a Croatian Cardinal suspected of collaborating with the Nazis.

With no evidence provided, this rather sounds like someone was 'blowing smoke'. There could, however, be more to this cluster of events than symbolic connection...


Major Rise in Attacks on French Churches Ignored by Media

st sulpice fire

The Saint-Sulpice church in Paris 'inexplicably' catches fire, 17 March 2019
Sometimes it's a cross of human excrement smeared on a church wall, with stolen Communion hosts stuck at the four corners. Other times, a statue of the Virgin Mary lies shattered on the floor.

Now and then, a fire breaks out in a house of prayer.

Roman Catholic churches have increasingly come under attack in France, a country so long identified with Christianity that it used to be called "the eldest daughter of the church."

A recent fire at St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, has shed light on a trend that has become commonplace in many smaller towns.

"Who has heard of the sacking of the monastery of Saint Jean des Balmes in Aveyron? Of those teenagers who urinated into the holy water font of the church at Villeneuve de Berg in Ardèche?" the Paris daily Le Figaro asked last week in an article highlighting some of the lesser-known profanations around the country this month.

Incidents such as these get a brief mention in the press, complete with quotes from Catholics shocked at the sight of scattered hosts or beheaded statues, and sometimes a short video clip on national television.

Comment: Not to put too fine a point on it, but - and this is aside from the question of a deliberate campaign to destroy Christian sites - maybe God/the Universe/Objective Reality is nudging France (and whoever can still see and hear) back from the precipice of fully embracing nihilistic postmodernist 'values'?

Star of David

The soft invasion? Israel is training its troops as an army of propaganda ambassadors

IDF troops
© AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh
The new ambassadors of Israel with props
Founders of the program claim the courses are non-political, but seek to form a positive image of Israel abroad.

A former captain of the Israeli special forces set up an initiative to train tens of thousands of released Israeli soldiers to act as 'ambassadors' during travels abroad, teaching the veterans how to talk about Israel with non-Israelis, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

"We understood that Israel has a 'hasbara' problem and that the people dealing with it the most are recently released soldiers and they have an opportunity to positively influence how Israel is perceived," captain Eyal Biram said in an interview, using the Israel-specific term for Tel Aviv's efforts to spread positive propaganda.

"More than 400,000 [Israelis] between the ages of 20 and 24 travel abroad each year. Basically, a group that is mostly made up of recently released soldiers. [...] Each of them is basically an informal Israeli ambassador, for good and for bad," he added.

Biram, together with partners Jonathan Svorai and Barak Deri, approached the IDF with their 'Israel-is' project. According to the creators, Israel-is is a non-political course that teaches soldiers how to converse by avoiding the pursuit of a particular political viewpoint.