Israel and Hamas agree to cease-fire

Egyptian mediators stepped in to broker a cease-fire between Israel and militant groups in Gaza after a week of escalated tensions threatened to escalate into a full-blown conflict. The site of an almost destroyed Islamic military base after it was attacked by an Israeli warplane in the Southern Gaza Strip on May 30, 2018.

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At Least 50 Taliban Leaders Die in Himars Strike in Afghanistan, US Says

HIMARS

(From MilitaryTimes.com)

A U.S. rocket artillery strike last week on a gathering of Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan killed at least 50 of them, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said a weapon system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is capable of firing GPS-guided rockets, destroyed a command-and-control position that was a known meeting place for high-level Taliban leaders. He said at least 50 leaders were killed.

Additional, unspecified numbers of Taliban officials were killed in U.S. airstrikes over a recent 10-day period, the spokesman said.

The top American commander for the Middle East wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan’s winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It’s all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year.

Click here for article.

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Egypt army intensifies Sinai home demolitions: HRW

The Egyptian army is waging a campaign in the area against a group affiliated with ISIL [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters] A rights group has accused the Egyptian army of unlawfully destroying thousands of homes, businesses and farmland in northern Sinai, as part of its campaign against the ISIL group. Using satellite imagery and local testimony, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Tuesday that many lifelong residents of Sinai have been displaced as a result of at least 3,000 homes and commercial buildings being destroyed by the Egyptian military.

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Ecuador spent how much on covert ops to protect Assange?

Ever since Julian Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest on a warrant from Sweden, protestors have held regular demonstrations to “FREE ASSANGE!” It turns out that Assange is far from free, according to documents obtained by The Guardian. Ecuador has spent more than five million dollars not just on security for Assange, but also for “covert” operations and intelligence gathering during his stay.

Remind me again of what Wikileaks does:

Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. …

Documents show the intelligence programme, called “Operation Guest”, which later became known as “Operation Hotel” – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to “protect” one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives.

An investigation by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador reveals the operation had the approval of the then Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, and the then foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, according to sources.

That seems a bit off-mission for Wikileaks’ founder, whose main effort has been to expose the intelligence operations of the US and other Western nations. Wikileaks has had little hesitation in sharing highly sensitive information over the objections of officials who argue that its exposure endangers their citizens. Oddly, they don’t seem to apply the same standard when it comes to the protection of their own people. Go figure.

Mostly, though, this reflects much more poorly on Ecuador than on Assange, whose instinct for self-preservation is understandable even if unlaudable. The money went beyond security and even intelligence to public relations. Ecuador spent nearly $200,000 in 2014 alone for media consultants to improve Assange’s image, including the publication of an opinion piece in the Guardian itself, the paper notes.

And what did Ecuador get for its investment in Assange? He hacked their comms in order to get an unfettered access to the Internet, according to the documentation reviewed by the Guardian. Their video surveillance contractors warned Ecuador that Assange was gathering intelligence on Ecuador’s operations out of the embassy too, although Assange does not seem to have bitten the hand that hides him — yet, anyway. Perhaps Assange felt the need for a little insurance, so to speak.

So far, Ecuador hasn’t forced Assange out, so the relationship still seems to be working. What Ecuador gets out of this circus is still difficult to determine, but perhaps they’re concerned about what would get out if they ever give Assange the boot. Maybe it’s better for Ecuador to keep Assange in their own grip at this point.

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It’s hardly the first time Ecuador’s been embarrassed on the world stage, of course. Their courts tried defrauding Chevron out of $18 billion a few years ago, only to have it blow up in their faces, not terribly unlike how their Assange asylum has worked out. They got lots of help from Hollywood celebrities, who worked with New York attorney Steve Donziger to support the lawsuit, which was later exposed as a grotesque fraud. Donziger kept a diary, which ended up as evidence in US court proceedings, and the revelations from it are … well, delicious, as Phelim McAleer describes:

My new play exposes how environmentalists carried out the world’s biggest fraud, how the media helped promote the fraud, and how they almost got away with it.

The play, called The $18-Billion Prize, will open at the Phoenix Theater in San Francisco on May 19th and run until June 3rd.

I co-wrote it with Jonathan Leaf and it tells the story of a lawsuit, led by New York lawyer Steven Donziger, against the Chevron oil company. The lawsuit alleged Chevron destroyed the rainforest in Ecuador and poisoned the natives. It was successful, and an Ecuadorian court awarded the plaintiffs a staggering $18 billion. Yes, BILLION. This was the biggest ever award in a civil court, but it was ALSO the biggest fraud in history.

Haven’t heard about it?? Funny. The same media that reported endlessly on the so-called “pollution” went pretty quiet when the case turned out to be a fraud. And a load of Hollywood celebrities who helped promote the fraud have also gone very quiet recently. Yes I’m talking about you Sting, Mia Farrow and Danny Glover.

The play shows how the plaintiffs, led by Donziger, bribed the judge and ghost wrote the judgment that awarded them this massive amount. And they were helped on their fraud by a cheerleading media that reported the allegations as fact but have been silent as the truth was revealed.

The scope of the fraud was enormous and at times farcical. Along with bribing judges, they used ludicrous code words to describe the top secret payments. It was all revealed when a New York court, realizing that something was amiss, ordered Donziger to hand over his files. In those files and diaries, Donziger admitted illegal bribes to judges and court officials as he wondered if he had “done a deal with the devil.”

The play reveals all the incredible details, and we have an amazing cast with Richard Kuhlman directing. He loves the play and has already made some stunning changes and suggestions. It is hilarious in places, revealing the madness and hypocrisy of the celebrities who went to Ecuador to “support the natives.” It turns some of them were secretly paid an absolute fortune, and you will laugh and cry when you see how they behaved when they thought the cameras were switched off. They also didn’t know it was all recorded in his files by Steven Donziger.

Phelim’s still raising money for the effort on IndieGoGo, the crowdfunding site by which he successfully financed the upcoming Gosnell Movie and his first play, Ferguson. If you’re interested in helping to expose the Ecuadorian fraud on Chevron, be sure to kick in what you can — and if you’ll be in San Francisco during that period, get your tickets now at Phelim’s website.

The post Ecuador spent how much on covert ops to protect Assange? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Elvis’ Granddaughter Is All Grown Up Now And It’s Scary How Much She Looks Like The King (Video)

Elvis Presley is a beloved musical icon who left the world too soon. His legacy lives on, however, with his granddaughter, Riley Keough, bearing a striking resemblance to “the King.” Those familiar with Elvis’ story know that he was born in 1945 in Tupelo, Mississippi and moved to Memphis when he was 13 years old. His music career started in 1954, followed by acting roles and being drafted into the military. His return from the service was marked by the rocker diving back into his career.

Elvis married Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967 and their daughter, Lisa Marie, was born in 1968.

Sadly, Elvis died in 1977 when Lisa Marie was just 9 years old. His daughter also made a name for herself in music and acting, and had a daughter, Riley Keough, in 1989.

Riley also pursued a career in acting as well as modeling. Riley was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film for her turn in the Starz drama The Girlfriend Experience.

You can definitely see some similarities in Riley’s facial features and her late grandfather, Elvis!

Comments at the Daily Mail’s story comparing Riley and Elvis included:

“What a stunner…Her hair, her eyes, her skin-beautiful, like a doll! Elvis would be proud.”

Another person, however, didn’t see the resemblance at all, writing:

“Sorry. I don’t see the resemblance…That girl could stand right next to me and I wouldn’t think she was a grandchild of Elvis Presley or daughter of Lisa Marie…Lisa Maria looks like Elvis. She has his eyes. Maybe the granddaughter resembles the grandmother but heck who would know. Priscilla doesn’t look like Priscilla.”

This commenter noted:

“Wow…I did not recognize her at first, she looks so different, she looks so pretty with this hair color. I think it’s good on her that she isn’t using her grandfather’s name to make a career for herself, she has moved away from singing and made a name for her self by acting…Elvis would be so proud of her, as for Priscilla I always get sad looking how she turned out now, she was such a naturally beautiful woman, and she had to change it.”

This commenter got a bit nostalgic, writing:

“I loved Elvis even though he destroyed himself with prescription drugs. To his credit he did not make much of a fool of himself in public apart from the last few performances. He had an infectious smile and was just an ordinary guy who made great records. Priscilla was an absolute cracker in her time, up there with the best beauties around, so sad to see her now. The granddaughter actually looks nothing like Elvis, Priscilla, or Lisa Marie but I have to say she looks a stunner. Elvis would have been proud. I still play his stuff a lot as it makes the modern stuff just sound what it is – rubbish. He was ahead of his time and he lives on. I wish he had along with others like Eddie Cochran Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison.”

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Burn victim gets fined for not mowing grass while he was in hospital

A homeowner who was severely injured after a natural gas explosion destroyed the heating unit in his home and left him with second-degree burns, was threatened by the city that he could face fines because he was not able to mow his lawn while he was in the hospital. The notice from the city stated that the homeowner had just 7 days “to remove litter, solid waste, and/or cut and remove weeds and grass.” If he did comply before the deadline, the city threatened to forcefully “remove the litter and/or cut and remove weeds and grass” at the homeowner’s expense. However, the man and his family have not been allowed on their property for nearly 3 months, and the violation was posted on the same fence that already had a “WARNING: Keep Out!” sign barring residents from the premises. The homeowner was injured after the heating and AC unit in his home exploded in February, causing second-degree burns that left him recovering in the hospital, according to a report from NBC 5. Not only was he physically unable to mow his lawn, but he could not send anyone else to do it because he was not allowed to access his property and any “litter” that accumulated on it was left there by workers who were working on the gas lines.

Read more from Signs of the Times…

Christians under continuous, violent attacks from Jewish groups in Jerusalem

Desecration and vandalism are what Christians in Jerusalem are suffering at the hands of highly organized Jewish groups. An unprecedented number of churches as well as holy sites are reporting increased violence against priests and parishioners who are being assaulted and attacked. The methods of attack vary from vandalism, verbal abuse, individual attacks and what’s called “aggressive property acquisition.” All committed by Jewish settlers. Jerusalem has a long history, dating back at least to 4500 BCE. During that history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

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UKIP Suffers Catastrophic Near-Wipeout in Local Elections

 

Ukip’s general secretary compared the party to the ‘Black Death’ today as it suffered a catastrophic collapsed in the local elections.

Paul Oakley made the bizarre comments with the Brexit cheerleaders facing the loss of almost all the council seats it won four years ago.

He said the plague appeared in the Middle Ages and ’caused disruption’ before ‘going dormant’ — suggesting Ukip could do the same.

Pressed if he thought it was a good idea to liken his party to the notorious disease, Mr Oakley said although it killed millions of people the Black Death also ‘led to economic growth and the Rennaisance’.

Ukip has clung on to just two seats — one of which was a gain in Derby in defiance of the nationwide performance.

The dire results come in the wake of almost two years of total chaos inside Ukip the EU referendum.

It has burned through five leaders in just 18 months since Nigel Farage quit in November 2016, as the Brexit victory destroyed at a stroke the party’s purpose and unity.

But Mr Oakley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was not ‘all over’ for the party.

‘Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant, and that’s exactly what we are going to do. Our time isn’t finished because Brexit is being betrayed,’ he said.

Asked if the comparison was a good idea, he replied: ‘Absolutely. What’s wrong with that?”

He said of the Black Death: ‘It also led to economic growth and the Renaissance. It got rid of the whole issue of servitude, basically, and allowed people to go into the towns and escape their landlords and create their own businesses.’

Mr Oakley said Ukip had been hit by the failure of former leader Henry Bolton to start campaigning early enough and by a court order to pay £175,000 to Labour MPs as a result of a libel case.

‘We were never going to do brilliantly in these elections, we knew that. We accepted that some time ago,’ he said.

‘If we had had the money to campaign, we would have done a lot better. We are never going to take over councils all over the country. Four years ago was our high point.’

Earlier, Ukip former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans admitted it had not been a good night for the party but pointed to its victories in Derby.

She told BBC News: ‘I have to say, three councillors in Derby, one of them actually unseating the leader of the Labour council, it might not be Ukip’s night but my goodness me when we do win we do it with style and we really put the cat among the pigeons.’

She added: ‘If Ukip does crumble I think you could still arguably make the case that it’s been one of the most successful political parties in history.’

Ukip voters have flooded back to the main parties, breaking roughly two to one in favour of the Tories.

The impact has varied widely across the country with Labour receiving huge boosts in support in some areas.

The outcome will raise fresh doubts about the future of Ukip, as it struggles with financial woes and tumultuous infighting.

Current leader Gerard Batten has admitted the party is engaged in a fight for survival.

His predecessor, Henry Bolton was ousted after it emerged he had started a relationship with model Jo Marney.

Ms Marney was embroiled in a racism row after sending messages with jibes including that Meghan Markle’s mixed-race background would ‘taint’ the royal family.

The post UKIP Suffers Catastrophic Near-Wipeout in Local Elections appeared first on American Renaissance.

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