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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.

Cardboard Box

Amazon workers strike at four warehouses in Germany

amazon
Workers at four Amazon logistic centers in Germany went on strike on Monday, the latest action in a long-running campaign for better pay and conditions.

Trade union Verdi said workers at warehouses in Rheinberg, Werne, Bad Hersfeld and Koblenz had stopped work, with the strike set to last until Thursday in some centers, and others potentially joining over the Easter holiday period.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company saw very limited participation in the strike across Germany, adding there was no operational impact so customer deliveries would not be delayed.

Verdi has organized frequent strikes at Amazon in Germany since 2013 to press demands for the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements in Germany's mail order and retail industry.

Comment: For more on Amazon's 'fairness and responsibility', see:


Fire

Paris' Legendary Notre Dame Cathedral Destroyed by Fire


Comment: French president Macron was due to address the nation this evening (8pm CET) via TV with conclusions from 4 months of a 'Great Debate', his government's answer to the 'yellow vest' uprising. His speech has been postponed by the shocking news that France's iconic 850-year-old Catholic Cathedral has been completely destroyed by fire...


notre dame cathedral fire
© Agence France-Presse / Francois Guillot
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.
The medieval Catholic cathedral, an irreplaceable example of ancient French Gothic architecture, went up in flames in the center of the French capital on Monday evening, with firefighters struggling to douse the flames.

Social media users near the scene of the fire engulfing Notre-Dame de Paris have posted horrifying footage of the fire.

A Sputnik France stream of the situation showed the fire continuing to burn out of control as of 7:45 pm local time.

Comment: France's Macron canceled his planned address to the nation due to 'terrible fire' at Notre Dame cathedral:
Macron was set to hold a large press conference at the Elysee Palace on Monday. The president was expected to unveil a set of measures for the country in response to the Yellow Vest protests, which have been rocking the country for the past few months.

The said measures are believed to be based on the results of the "great national debate," held by the government in an attempt to funnel protest from the streets into a discussion instead. "We have decided to transform anger into solutions," Macron wrote on Twitter, announcing the press conference. "For months, we listened. Tomorrow, I will answer."

The grand unveiling of the government's measures, however, was marred by the massive fire at the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, which caught fire shortly before the president's address. Citing the "terrible fire," Macron scrapped the event.

Macron is expected to arrive at the scene shortly, according to Elysee officials. Meanwhile, the cathedral's spire and roof have partially collapsed.
Could there be anything more symbolic than the burning down of one of France's oldest icons?

UPDATES 20:45 CET

The spire and entire roof have collapsed. Everything but the stone shell has probably been lost forever.


It's the worst damage to the cathedral in all its 9 centuries. It was partially destroyed by fire (deliberately) during the 1789 revolution, though not this badly. Still, it took about 100 years to restore it...

Comments on French social media indicate that people - besides being distraught about this - are highly suspicious of foul play.

12 French churches were vandalized in one week in mid-March. And that's not including the fire at ANOTHER iconic church in Paris - the Saint-Sulpice - just one month ago. Back in February, another four churches in France were vandalized, including the Notre Dame Church in Dijon. The whole thing has a 'systematic' flavor...

Who will be blamed? Russians? Muslims?

UPDATE 21:15 CET

The fire has spread to the stone towers. From an AP reporter on the scene:
The mammoth fire that destroyed the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral has spread to one of the church's landmark rectangular towers.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene of Monday's fire in Paris watched the flames blazing behind an oblong stained-glass window in the tower.

Paris police say fighters are inside the cathedral working to put the flames out while others work from the exterior. Red smoke is pouring out of the cathedral.

A Notre Dame spokesman said earlier that the church's entire wooden interior was in flames.
This thing is in the MIDDLE of the RIVER SEINE. There should be dozens of streams of water from fire engines and tugboats aimed at the inferno...

UPDATE 22:00 CET

'Blame Muslims' is definitely in the cards: 3 days ago, a man named Ines Madani, an Islamist activist, was sentenced for plotting a terror attack at Notre Dame Cathedral in 2016.

Now French fire services are reporting that they are "not sure" if the Notre Dame fire can be stopped...


UPDATE 23:00 CET

The fire is dying down. The Interior Ministry reports that the stone structure of the cathedral (including the towers) remains standing. Notre Dame can yet be rebuilt...

UPDATE 16/4/9:

Firemen have finally entered the main area of the church


Firemen notre dame
© Yoan Valat/EPA
Firefighters enter the Notre Dame cathedral as flames are burning the roof in Paris, France.
fire notre dame
© Yoan Valat/EPA
Interior Notre Dame Cathedral
The main structure of Notre Dame, as well as its rectangular bell towers, has been saved, according to the Paris fire brigade chief. Macron asked the country to commit to rebuilding Notre Dame together, announcing an international fundraising campaign to raise money for the repairs. A site taking online donations has been launched.


Boat

Italian man who allegedly raped British teen on cruise walks because of technicality - crime was committed in international waters

msc divina
© Getty Images
An Italian teenager accused of raping a 17-year-old British girl on a cruise ship has been freed on a legal technicality because the alleged attack took place in international waters.

The suspect, aged 18, was arrested after she told Spanish police he forced her into his cabin on board the MSC Divina as it sailed through the Mediterranean on Thursday.

He was brought before a court in Valencia but the judge ruled that no further action could be taken, according to regional newspaper Levante-EMV.

As a result of a change to the law in 2009, international crimes can only be prosecuted if they involve victims or suspects living in Spain. The alleged attacker is believed to live in Italy and the ship is registered in Panama.

The judge suggested that authorities in Britain, Italy or Panama take up the case.

Eye 2

Assange lawyer says Ecuador accused Assange of 'misbehavior' to justify his arrest

Assange arrest van
© Reuters / Henry Nicholls
WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange in a police van after his arrest in London, on April 11, 2019.
The Ecuadorian authorities have fabricated claims about Julian Assange's alleged "gross misbehavior" at its embassy as a pretext to surrender him to the UK police, the WikiLeaks founder's lawyer said.

"The first thing to say is [that] Ecuador has been making some outrageous allegations," Assange's lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, told Sky News on Sunday following the whistleblower's arrest earlier this week. Quito made these claims to divert public attention from its own misdeeds and to "justify the unlawful and extraordinary act of letting police come inside an embassy," she added.

Earlier, Ecuadorian Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo complained about the embassy staff having to tolerate gross misconduct for far too long. The 47-year-old was specifically accused of "putting feces on the walls," among other things. He was also alleged to have left dirty underwear in the lavatory, failed to clean dishes, and left a cooker on.

Comment: George Galloway brings it: 'If Assange is criminalized & incarcerated, you'll never be free again'
Galloway and a crowd of WikiLeaks supporters staged a protest in support of the arrested co-founder of the whistleblowing site on Sunday outside Belmarsh Prison, where Assange is being held, a top security jail in southeast London known as 'Britain's Guantanamo Bay'.

Assange was dragged out of Ecuador's London embassy on Thursday after spending almost seven years in de-facto confinement, with his visitor rights limited and internet cut off during the last months of his exile.

Galloway, a film-maker, writer and former Labour MP, who calls himself a friend of Assange, said that his case affects all who cherish their right to know the truth about shady government dealings.


"You don't have to like him, you don't have to like everything he's ever written or published, but if you like the fact that we have the right to speak and know the uncomfortable truths our rulers don't want us to know, then you should be here in person, or, at least, in spirit," Galloway said.

He said this is exactly the type of situation in which one must take sides, and either stand with the "executioners" or oppose them.

"If Julian Assange is criminalized and incarcerated for revealing the truth about what our rulers are doing, have done, then you might as well deliver yourself behind those walls, you might as well volunteer for a prison cell yourself, because you'll no longer be free, and you'll never be free again," the former lawmaker said.

"The British police had to arrest Julian Assange and they had to put him in an ambulance, not in a police wagon because the man, after seven years in a single room in the Ecuadorian embassy, is obviously not a well man."

Speaking on the prospects of the US extradition request, Galloway told RT he hopes the British court rejects it. He argued that his trial in the US might go against the principle of double jeopardy since Manning already served time for the same offense.

"There may have been a theft of information involved," but it was justified, Galloway believes: it was "a right of all the people of the world to know about what Chelsea Manning released." And while publishing stolen materials in the public interest is nothing new, Assange's case threatens to put a full stop to it.

"If every publisher who publishes material that was stolen from its owners was put on trial and extradited and sent behind bars, there would be no publishing."

Hear George Galloway's thoughts in full below:





Info

What most don't know about gender-transitioning children should blow one's mind

child's doll
Puberty-blocking drugs, mastectomies, vaginal surgery and fake penises - all with zero chance of reversal - these are just some of the radical experimental methods being used on children. The madness must stop.

Imagine that you are the parent of a five-year-old boy who innocently informs you one day that he is a girl. Of course, the natural reaction would be to laugh, not phone up the nearest gender transitioning clinic. You have no idea how your little boy came to believe such a thing; possibly it was through something he heard at the daycare center, or maybe a program he saw on television. In any case, he insists that he 'identifies' as a female.

Eventually, possibly at the encouragement of your local school, you pay a visit to a physician. You hope this medical professional will be able to provide you and your child with some sound counseling to clear up his confusion. Prepare yourself to be disappointed. Your doctor will be forced, according to state and medical dictate, to follow the professional guidelines known as 'affirmative care.' It sounds nice and harmless, doesn't it? In fact, the program could be best described as nothing short of diabolical.

Comment: Ideological possession has created many "issues" that have taken many forms and iterations over the last few years, ie. gender pay gap, #metoo, radical feminism, veganism, and others - but few as pernicious and destructive as gender dysphoria - with the potential to irrevocably change and ruin the lives of many from a very young age:


Dollar

Teslas gets a lifeline: Car makers scramble to find ways to avoid new EU emissions fines

Japan car factory
© Toru Hanai / Reuters
The oil industry hates electric cars for good reasons. Intelligent executives in the industry (of which there seem few) see electric vehicles (EVs) as a death threat to their business. Thus, they have fought aggressively to end tax credits that encourage consumers to buy EVs. To a large extent, their lobbyists have succeeded.

However, EV manufacturers have now been given a regulatory lifeline. Last week, Financial Times reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has agreed to pay Tesla hundreds of millions. The payment will allow FCA to pool its fleet sales with Tesla's to "avoid large fines for breaking tough new EU emissions rules."

The FT article explains that new EU regulations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions require that new vehicles emit no more than 95g/CO2 per kilometer. In 2018, these emissions averaged 120.5g/CO2 per kilometer and FCA vehicles averaged 123g/CO2.

FCA could address its emissions problem by selling hybrid and electric vehicles. However, it has yet to produce any. Consequently, according to FT, the firm would face more than two billion euros (2.3 billion dollars) in fines when the EU CO2 emissions rule takes effect.

Attention

Central American migrants break border gate, force their way into Mexico to join caravan

migrants mexico border Guatamala
© Associated Press
Migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, walk on the shoulder of a road in Frontera Hidalgo, Mexico
Mexican authorities said a group of about 350 migrants broke the locks on a gate at the Guatemalan border Friday and forced their way into southern Mexico to join a larger group of migrants trying to make their way toward the United States.

The National Immigration Institute did not identify the nationalities of the migrants, but they are usually from Central America.

A similar confrontation occurred on the same border bridge between Mexico and Guatemala last year.

The institute said the migrants were acting in a "hostile" and "aggressive" way, and accused them of also attacking local police in Metapa, a Mexican village that lies between the border and the nearby city of Tapachula.

NPC

Hypocrite: Migrant advocate, Cher, gets blasted for opposing illegals being sent to L.A.

Cher
© REUTERS/Mike Theiler
Singer Cher, who once famously offered to take a "Dreamer" into her home and encouraged others to follow suit, is now up in arms over US President Donald Trump's proposal to funnel illegal migrants to her sanctuary city.

Cher justified her protest against the move, which would seem to be perfectly in line with her migrant-welcoming past statements, by arguing that her home city of Los Angeles has not been able to cater to the needs of its permanent residents and therefore cannot shoulder any extra burden.

"I Understand Helping struggling Immigrants,but MY CITY (Los Angeles) ISNT TAKING CARE OF ITS OWN.WHAT ABOUT THE 50,000+🇺🇸Citizens WHO LIVE ON THE STREETS.PPL WHO LIVE BELOW POVERTY LINE,& HUNGRY? If My State Can't Take Care of Its Own(Many Are VETS)How Can it Take Care Of More," she tweeted on Sunday, her style curiously similar to Trump's own.

Comment: Trump offers sanctuary cities an "unlimited supply" of illegal immigrants


Stop

'McCarthyite policies to please Israel' only increase support for the BDS movement, says co-founder

BDS  movement
© AFP / Robyn Beck
Omar Barghouti, who was banned from entering the US, says Israel makes Washington do its bidding in suppressing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but it only results in greater grassroots support.

Last week, Barghouti was prohibited from traveling from Israel to the US by the American immigration authorities despite having a valid visa. Speaking to RT, the activist said the US was adopting "McCarthyite" policies to please Israel.

"We see this as Israel outsourcing its McCarthyite anti-democratic repression against the BDS movement for human rights in Palestine to the United States," he said. "The US administration has been mobilized now to do Israel's bidding in trying to silence Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders, who are active in this extremely effective and very important non-violent BDS movement."

Barghouti said the travel restriction resulted in him missing several events in the US, where he intended to advocate the BDS cause. He added that the attempts by dozens of US states to ban the movement were a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Comment: See also: