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Pope Francis calls for Syrian refugees to return home as Cardinal Sarah issues a warning for Europe

In his Easter address on Sunday, Catholic Pope Francis called for the return of Syrian refugees to their home country as he urged a political solution for the ongoing “humanitarian crisis” in the country. He told the 70,000 pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square that “Now is instead the time for a renewed commitment for a political solution able to respond to people’s legitimate hopes for freedom, peace and justice, confront the humanitarian crisis and favour the secure re-entry of the homeless, along with all those who have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon and Jordan.”

Patriarch Bechara Raï, the head of the Lebanese Maronite Church, had earlier begged for the immediate return of Syrian refugees to their home country in his in his Palm Sunday sermon. The Cardinal said that the refugees have become “the victims of two wars, the one fought with weapons, which destroyed their homes, and the one of the politics of ‘wait and see,’ which will destroy their cultural identity and their history.” Patriarch Raï said it is deplorable that “for political reasons, the international community does not encourage them to return home.”

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea went further by saying Catholics do not need to support mass migration. He argued that the Western world does not benefit by bringing huge influxes of people with little to no regard for border security or cultural hegemony, saying, "All migrants who arrive in Europe are penniless, without work, without dignity. ... This is what the Church wants?" Cardinal Sarah told French publication Valeurs Actuelles that "The Church can not cooperate with this new form of slavery that has become mass migration. If the West continues in this fatal way, there is a great risk that, due to a lack of birth, it will disappear, invaded by foreigners, just as Rome has been invaded by barbarians."

Pope Francis has consistently promoted mass migration throughout his papacy, repeatedly denouncing the building of walls as a form of imprisonment. Cardinal Sarah, who is head of the Vatican liturgy office, minced no words in his denunciation of the prevailing viewpoint among liberal Catholics, which states that the faithful betray Christ by wanting stricter immigration policies, especially from Islamic countries. Liberal Catholics often speak of migration in romantic terms, but the Cardinal notes there is nothing romantic about people leaving their cultures and homes behind, saying they would best be helped in their culture of origin. "My country is predominantly Muslim," he said. "I think I know what reality I'm talking about."

Cardinal Sarah warned that if Europe were to fall, Islam would prevail as the world religion, altering the course of history and culture as we know it. "If Europe disappears, and with it the priceless values of the Old Continent, Islam will invade the world and we will completely change culture, anthropology, and moral vision," he warned.

In an interview about his new book with American Conservative, Cardinal Sarah did not mince words, saying, "A West that denies its faith, its history, its roots, and its identity is destined for contempt, for death, and disappearance. But I would like to point out that everything is prepared for a renewal. I see families, monasteries, and parishes that are like oases in the middle of a desert. It is from these oases of faith, liturgy, beauty, and silence that the West will be reborn."

ISIS kills and wounds hundreds of Christians celebrating Easter in Sri Lanka terrorist attacks

Islamic suicide bombers attacked three churches and three luxury hotels in several Sri Lankan cities on Easter Sunday, killing 359 people and wounding more than 500, including at least 38 foreigners. ISIS claimed responsibility and released a photo of the suicide bomber squad, who all hail from two local Islamist groups – the National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim. The bombings were retaliation for last month’s attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand where 50 Muslims died. A national day of mourning was declared for Tuesday as the United States’ envoy to Sri Lanka warned there were "ongoing terrorist plots" in the country.

Christians and Muslims each comprise about seven percent of Sri Lanka's population of 22 million people, among minority Hindus and a Buddhist majority. The Indian Ocean island country has been peaceful for a decade after a bitter civil war. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could unleash instability and he vowed to “vest all necessary powers with the defence forces” to act against those responsible. The government blocked access to Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram as armed security forces patrolled the largely deserted, central streets in the capital of Colombo, and a curfew went into effect.

International intelligence agencies began issuing warnings on April 4 that the attacks were planned, but this apparently didn’t reach the Prime Minister’s office until after the massacre. In October, President Maithripala Sirisena had ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and dissolved the Cabinet. The Supreme Court later reversed his actions, but the Prime Minister has not been allowed into meetings of the Security Council since October, which meant he and his government were in the dark about the intelligence. It is not clear what action, if any, was taken after the threats. Authorities said they knew where the group trained and had safe houses.

There was one woman among the nine terrorists, all of whom were "well educated" and "middle class". At least two of the suicide bombers had law degrees. Two were brothers from a wealthy Colombo family, one of whom attended university in the United Kingdom and earned a postgraduate degree in Australia. Police have now detained around 60 people in connection with the attacks.

An ISIS statement also said that in the city of Dematagoda, Abu Abdullah confronted the police and killed three police officers. The wife of one of the Sri Lankan bombers detonated a bomb when police broke into their flat. She killed herself, her three children and two police. Three unexploded bombs blew up inside a van parked near one of the attacked churches as police tried to defuse them. Dozens of detonators were discovered near Colombo’s main bus depot.

A video released by Amaq news agency, ISIS’s propaganda wing, showed the terrorists swearing their loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and watched over by Mohammed Cassim Zaharan, who is an Islamist hate preacher, also known as Zaharan Hashmi, who led a Sri Lankan Islamist supremacist group known as the National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Defence sources said that a number of female accomplices of incidents in Dematagoda had escaped wearing burqas. Now, Sri Lanka may ban burqa following the Easter Sunday terrorist attack, joining Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Morocco, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Belgium, and Xinjiang, a Muslim-majority province in northwestern China, that have all done so to prevent terrorists from using the burqa to evade police or hide explosives.

The Sri Lankan government is now planning to implement the burqa ban in consultation with the mosque authorities, pointing out that the burqa and niqab were never part of the traditional attire of Muslim women in Sri Lanka until the Gulf War in the early 1990s, which saw extremist elements introducing the garb to Muslim women.

Extinction Rebellion climate extremists shut down London public transit

In the latest evolution of the far-left’s extremism, April 15 saw the start of three days of protests that ground London to a halt, affecting more than 500,000 people. Over a thousand Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners threatened to bring the British capital city of London to a standstill for up to two weeks.

Extinction Rebellion is the latest in vogue protest movement for climate change activists. It has grown into an international movement backed by left-wing celebrities, academics, and writers by calling for “radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse”. Activists in at least 80 cities in more than 33 countries will hold similar demonstrations on environmental issues, campaigners said.

Extinction Rebellion protestors blocked busy London roads and bridges, spray-painted government buildings, glued themselves to a DLR train at Canary Wharf, and chained and glued themselves to buildings, including the gates of Buckingham Palace. Semi-naked activists had previously glued themselves to windows in the public gallery of the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. The following day, two dozen protesters occupied the International Criminal Court in the Hague, in the Netherlands. “Only a peaceful planet-wide mobilisation of the scale of the Second World War will give us a chance to avoid the worst-case scenarios,” and “the world has “run out of the luxury of time to react incrementally” Extinction Rebellion campaigners said.

Police arrested more than 300 Extinction Rebellion protestors while London Mayor Sadiq Khan attempted to ingratiate himself with them, diverting attention from intense and ongoing criticism of his poor response to London’s knife crime epidemic. The former Labour MP and London mayor said that the “climate change emergency” was a “top priority” for City Hall and reiterated his “passion” for peaceful protest as “the cornerstone of our democracy”. West End businesses complained of a GBP 12 million loss in sales while Mayor Khan professed his “full respect” for the anarchists.

Mayor Khan attended last month’s march for a second Brexit referendum, and likened the climate protesters to suffragettes, declaring, “I was at a protest myself a few weeks ago, protesting, campaigning and lobbying on whether the public should have a final say on staying in the union and given the option of what parliament’s voted for.” The upcoming mayoral election takes place in May next year. Mayor Khan’s mayoral rival, Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey, said, “The Mayor is telling law-abiding Londoners their interests come second to those who shout loudest and disrupt the most.

Despite their claims that they are proponents of non-violent civil disobedience, on Monday, Extinction Rebellion protesters vandalised Shell’s headquarters, gluing themselves to windows and smashing glass revolving doors, causing more than GBP 6,000 of damage and enabling them to have a platform in front of a jury trial in Crown Court. Now, according to Extinct Rebellion’s legal advice, some of the protesters will soon be citing Mayor Khan’s “climate change emergency” rhetoric in their defence.

Extinction Rebellion says direct action is needed to force governments to act urgently on climate change and wildlife declines and halt a “sixth mass extinction”. Their demands include the declaration of an ecological emergency, greenhouse gases to be brought to net zero by 2025, and the creation of a citizens’ assembly to lead action on the environment. Extinction Rebellion says the systems propping up “modern consumer-focused lifestyles” will lead to mass water shortages, crop failures, sea level rises, and the displacement of millions. Extinction Rebellion says it wants “ecocide”, the deliberate destruction of the natural environment, to be listed alongside crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and crimes of aggression.

1,500 people showed up to Extinction Rebellion’s first protest on October 31 last year on Parliament Square in London. The group later claimed that over the next several weeks “Six thousand of us converged on London to peacefully block five major bridges across the Thames.” Extinction Rebellion claims to have chapters in dozens of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, the Solomon Islands, Australia, Spain, South Africa, and India.

Extinction Rebellion professes to be about climate change but in reality, is the latest rebranding and marketing campaign of Marxism. Their manifesto, published on their website, gives their game away. The tactics, slogans, and the general behaviour of the Marxist protesters exactly echoes that of the anti-globalisation protests of the early 2000s.

Beyond their climate focus, Extinction Rebellion demands the end of interest-bearing loans and to bring down the global economy with it. They want to disrupt and destroy. global capitalism and know the term ‘Marxism’ isn’t going to get the results they want, so they dress their agenda up as ‘environmentalism’ to tempt useful idiots to join their cause. In fact, Extinction Rebellion don’t admit the obvious fact that renewable energy needs capital and therefore investors who issue interest-bearing loans.

President Trump celebrates his victory with the release of the Mueller Report

After nearly two years of investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 United States’ Presidential election the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report were made public Thursday morning to Congress and the general public. As Attorney General Bill Barr declared last month, its results show that investigators did not find evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

 Ahead of the report’s release, President Donald Trump posted a tweet and graphic inspired by Game of Thrones that read “No collusion, no obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats...GAME OVER.” Earlier in the day, he declared the probe to be “The Greatest Political Hoax of all time!

During a press conference ahead of the report's release, Attorney General William Barr told reporters that the Mueller team found no evidence of collusion. "So that is the bottom line," Attorney General Barr said, "After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes."

The report had looked at ten episodes related to the allegations of obstruction of justice, including: “The campaign's response to reports about Russian support for Trump; Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn; The President's reaction to the continuing Russia investigation; The President's termination of Comey; The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him;  Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel's investigation; Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence; Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation; and Conduct toward Flynn, Manafort, [REDACTED]; conduct involving Michael Cohen.

The Justice Department’s public version of the 48-page report included redactions consistent with Attorney General Barr’s plan to black out portions of the document, including grand jury material, information the intelligence community believes would reveal intelligence sources and methods, any material that could interfere with ongoing prosecutions, and information that could implicate the privacy or reputational interests of “peripheral players.” The redactions in the report were color-coded, labeled with the reasoning behind each redaction, with categories including "grand jury material," "personal privacy," "investigative technique," and "harm to ongoing matter."

Although Attorney General Barr's Department of Justice determined they did not have evidence to pursue an obstruction case, the Democrats' demanded to see the unredacted report and have Mr. Mueller testify, citing the section that reads, "[W]hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler tweeted, "This is exactly why we need to hear directly from Special Counsel Mueller and receive the full, unredacted report with the underlying evidence."

Report’s Findings

The Justice Department appointed Mr. Mueller on May 17, 2017 for the investigation that took 675 days, or 22 months, concluding on March 22, 2019. There were 13 Democrats on the Mueller team. Mr. Mueller ultimately indicted, convicted, or got guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies.

The total cost of the investigation is still unknown. So far, Mr. Mueller’s office has released three expenditures statements. Direct and indirect costs totaled USD $25.2 million from May 17, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Mr. Mueller turned in a proposed budget to the Department of Justice in July 2017, but officials declined to make it public, instead committing to releasing reports of the team’s expenditures every six months.

The report said, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” while also saying there were "links" between the two. “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal,” the Special Counsel report stated.

Ultimately, the report shows Russian social media interference was limited and not pervasive. The St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, which is financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, purchased 3,500 Facebook ads. The expenditure cost the IRA USD $100,000, according to the report. On Twitter, the IRA was responsible for 3,814 accounts, which were responsible for posting about 175,993 tweets before the start of the election. Approximately 84 percent of those tweets were election related. Twitter said it contacted about 1.4 million people who it believed were in contact with the IRA-controlled accounts.

The New Investigations

Former FBI Assistant Director Mark Morgan said he believes the investigation by the Inspector General into the origins of the Russia probe will uncover the motives from past high ranking members of the bureau and it’s something that every American citizen should want to see as well. Mr. Morgan worked in the Bureau for more than 20 years, including a 3-year stint as the Assistant Director to the FBI’s training division. On Thursday, he said that part of the FBI re-building its reputation after the last two years requires going back to see if past leaders had an agenda against President Trump. “We need to look at how this started. We need to look at the actions of these top leaders,” he said, “We need to look at the adequacy of the predication – the motives behind the actors. I mean, we are talking about high powers of position.

From President Trump’s standpoint, the FBI Director and Deputy Director had mishandled the Hillary Clinton email investigation and he saw the same people wasting taxpayer money on a politically-motivated investigation into a baseless conspiracy theory. The report’s findings clarified that Mr. Mueller knew very early on in his investigation that there was no collusion. The remainder of the investigation was essentially spent trying to find a way to frame President Trump’s legitimate outrage over this attempt to nullify his election victory as “obstruction of justice.”

The Democrats who supported the investigation – and continue to press for the unredacted version and testimony from Mr. Mueller – are undermining the legitimacy of American democracy and the public’s faith in democratic institutions. To them, the motivation is not about achieving justice for now-disproven Russian election interference or obstruction of justice, but to politically weaken a democratically elected President by all means necessary.

Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey said “delusion” has taken hold of his party and he called the process of crime convictions that arose from the Mr. Mueller probe “tainted,” asserting that the people convicted of those crimes deserve to be pardoned. He further chastised Adam Schiff for politicizing the House Intelligence Committee to keep the hoax going.

Attorney General Barr will now proceed with new investigations behind the Mueller investigation. He will explore the numerous ways that career lawyers at the FBI and Department of Justice, including an interconnected network of external actors, aimed to remove a candidate and sitting President to gain political power.

Accident or attack behind the Notre Dame Cathedral fire?

On April 15th fire rapidly spread from its origins in the attic of the iconic 850-year-old Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral in Paris, France, where restoration work was underway. The fire occurred on the first day of Holy Week celebrations leading to Easter, the main Christian holiday. The Paris prosecutor's office said it is treating the fire as an accident for the time being, ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives, at least for now.

Thousands stood on the banks of the Seine river and in the plaza of the nearby Hôtel de Ville watching in quiet horror, gasping and covering their mouths while wiping away tears, as the fire tore through the cathedral. Until the early morning hours, when the fire was finally declared out, onlookers sang Ave Maria and other hymns as some kneeled and prayed.

The cathedral closes at 18:45 and the fire started 5 or 6 minutes afterwards. French news LCI said two fires were reported. Early testimonies say the fire took in the attic, at the base of the spire that surmounts the transept of the cathedral. The spire, which stands 93 meters high and is made of 500 tons of wood and 250 tons of lead, collapsed with the ceiling. The highest part of the cathedral stands at 295 feet, which made it difficult for firefighters to get high enough to spray water directly at the fire. Adding to the difficulty, a strong westward wind blew, causing the intense core of the fire to blow onto one of the two bell towers – that fire was quickly put out. 400 firefighters were dispatched to save the symbol of Christianity’s beauty and history. No one was killed but a firefighter received serious injury. An eyewitness commented that at one point early on, the smoke was coloured green and yellow.

The Notre Dame is more than a Catholic cathedral, it is one of the world’s greatest pieces of art and architecture that informs European and western culture and heritage. It is a Unesco World Heritage site. Generations upon generations built the Notre Dame over 200 years, beginning in 1180 and completed in 1260. It is a jewel of medieval Gothic architecture that has survived war, weather, and changing trends. It survived the loss of its spire once before, in 1786, after the spire’s supporting structure was so weakened by centuries of weathering that restorers removed and replaced it. Notre Dame witnessed the crowning of Emperor Napoleon. It survived riots from the Huguenots, the French Revolution, and World War II. Pierre Guillaume Bonnet, a 45-year-old marketing director, said, ‘‘It’s really kind of scary. France is not doing very well and it is these symbols we are losing. I am afraid this is a bad sign.”

After many hours, Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters outside the cathedral, "We can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved." Nearly all artwork and relics, including the Crown of thorns and the tunic of St. Louis, were removed and saved, and the next day showed that the Rose stained glass window had been spared. Many irreplaceable and invaluable items had been removed days earlier, including statues that adorn the rooftop. Photos from the next day showed the restoration scaffolding still largely intact. The fire was fully extinguished Tuesday morning, but the extent of the damage and expected cost of repairs remain unclear. The interior has been largely preserved though there is extensive damage from the water and the spire’s collapse inside the church.

Accident or Arson?

Though mainstream news outlets were quick to report that arson had been conclusively ruled out, which was impossible to know while the blaze burned, the cause of the fire remains undetermined. Independent freelance journalist Sotiri Dimpinoudis spoke with a firefighter who said it was impossible for the fire to spread so fast due to electrical equipment or wires in the wooden space, which were prohibited for fear of sparks. The firefighter said regulations were strictly and always followed by the company, where electrical wires from the construction crew were guided on the side of the building or the cranes whenever used, and these were not in contact with the wooden space. He said the fire could be “sabotage". The Police Nationale’s criminal investigation team will now interrogate more then 200 workers who worked at the renovation site and those who were fired from the company. A firefighter who put out the arson fire last month at the Saint Sulpice church said, "there was a odd smell in the air at the time of the fire" at Notre Dame.

Cathedral staff have reportedly told people they know that the fire was intentional. For example, TIME columnist Christopher J. Hale tweeted, “A Jesuit friend in Paris who works in #NotreDame told me cathedral staff said the fire was intentionally set.” Mr. Hale deleted the tweet within minutes after it attracted attention.

On Tuesday, TVE television news showed footage of a man dressed in what could be described as Islamic dress with a long dark beard, carrying what appeared to be a dark bag, walking on the balcony of one of the two towers shortly after the start of the fire. The individual is clearly not a firefighter or clergyman and French authorities said no workers were present on site that day. Another photo from the public at a further distance shows someone standing on top of the roof as it begins to burn.

The fire occurred exactly one month after the Christchurch, New Zealand terror attack. Terror intelligence researchers at SITE reported that Jihadists celebrated the inferno, calling it “retribution and punishment.” According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, the ISIS affiliated Al-Muntasir media organisation published a poster online of the Notre Dame ablaze with the word “Its construction began in the year 1163 and ended in 1345. It's time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism” and accompanied by “Have a good day”. Al-Munatsir has previously shared propaganda rejoicing in Islamic attacks that have terrorized France.

Photos circulated on social media of people of Arabic descent smiling in the crowd outside of the cathedral, along with an April 13 Facebook post written by a ‘Dennis Arends’ that claimed, "Three days from now, The Notre Dame church in France will burn up in flames." Under Facebook videos of Notre Dame burning were hundreds of happy comments and ‘laughing’ face emoticons posted by Arabic names.

In 2016, three young Jihadi women were involved in a foiled plot to blow up a car packed with gas cannisters near the Notre Dame. One of them, Ines Madani, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison by a French court following a three-day trial during which she was accused of encouraging would-be jihadists to go to Syria and participate in attacks against France between March 2015 and June 2016. Ms. Madani’s trial for trying to set fire to the car filled with six gas cylinders near Notre Dame will begin on September 23.

Increasing Attacks on Churches

In 2018, 475 Christian churches were vandalized, desecrated, and partially burned across France, and over 20 churches in the past four months alone. Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist, and torn down crosses, signalling the rise of anti-Catholic sentiment in the country. Attacks against Jewish symbols have also risen by 74 percent.

Last Sunday, the historic Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday. Police are still investigating the attack, which firefighters have confidently attributed to arson. Built in the 17th century, Saint Sulpice houses three works by the Romantic painter Eugene de la Croix and was used in the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

11 French churches were attacked in the two weeks that followed the Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist attack. Last month, at the Saint Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, in north-central France, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found smashed and the altar cross had been thrown on the ground, according to La Croix International, a Catholic publication. Also in February, at Saint-Alain Cathedral in south-central France, an altar cloth was burned and crosses and statues of saints were smashed. The attack prompted Lavaur Mayor Bernard Canyon to say in a statement, “God will forgive. Not me.

In the southern city of Nimes, near the Spanish border, vandals looted the altar of the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement. Consecrated hosts made from unleavened bread, which Catholics believe to be the body of Jesus Christ, were taken and found scattered among rubbish outside the building. The Tablet reported that in February alone there had been a record 47 documented attacks on churches and religious sites.

The Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, which was founded in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) but is now independent said there had been a 25 percent increase in attacks on Catholic churches in the first two months of the year, compared with the same time last year.

Executive Director Ellen Fantini said, “I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols," and that while France had a long tradition of secularism, it was seen as a culturally Christian country, and so any "attack on the church as a symbol of religion was also an attack on authority and patrimony.” Ms. Fantini added, "The pressure is coming from the radical secularists or anti-religion groups as well as feminist activists who tend to target churches as a symbol of the patriarchy that needs to be dismantled.” According to Ms. Fantini, anti-Christian attacks are being minimized despite representing the largest share of hate crimes.

Rebuilding the Cathedral

Pope Francis tweeted, "Today we unite in prayer with the people of France, as we wait for the sorrow inflicted by the serious damage to be transformed into hope with reconstruction. Holy Mary, Our Lady, pray for us."

FRANCE 24 news reported that when French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to reporters inside the Elysee Palace he announced work will immediately begin to rebuild the Notre Dame "in a way consistent with our modern diverse nation," a comment which is unlikely to go over well with Catholics and those who intend to see the cathedral restored to its original design and use.

Prior to the fire, as one of Europe’s most visited sites with about 12 million tourists a year, the Notre Dame was in dire need of repairs. Centuries of weather had worn the stone and fumes from decades of traffic gridlock worsened the damage. Under France’s strict secular laws, the government owns the cathedral and the Catholic archdiocese of Paris uses it permanently for free. The priests believed the government should pay for repairs since it owned the building, but under the terms of the government’s agreement, the archdiocese is responsible for Notre Dame’s upkeep and the Ministry of Culture gives it about 2 million Euro annually for that purpose. However, staff had said that money covers only basic repairs, far short of what is needed.

French billionaires have now stepped up to fund the restoration and rebuild of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, which is nearing 1 billion Euros in donations. Bernard Arnault, the richest person in France and third-richest in the world who owns the French luxury conglomerate LVMH, pledged 200 million Euros. François-Henri Pinault and his son William, who own the luxury group Kering and brands including Gucci and Alexander McQueen, will give 100 million Euros. The Bettencourt Meyers family owns the cosmetics company L'Oréal and is the second-richest family in France, pledging 200 million Euros. French oil giant Total pledged 100 million Euros. Crédit Agricole, one of France's biggest banks, pledged 5 million Euros. The New York-based French Heritage Society has also launched a restoration fund for Notre-Dame.

French wood supply companies have announced they will supply and donate Oak trees to rebuild the attic structure, saying they want the cathedral to be rebuilt quickly.

An eyewitness of the fire told reporters that she was at a café later in the day and overheard a group of people who were unconcerned with the cathedral’s destruction because it was “just an old building” and “France is secular, anyway.” This point of view is likely held in the minority, but perhaps an event as tragic as this serves to be transformative for our collective psyche, reminding us of the value that our culture, history, and heritage holds - and the central role Christianity plays in it - before it’s too late.

Einstein’s theory proven as astronomers capture the first photo of a black hole

Introduced in 1915, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein’s revolutionary theory of general relativity explains the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces. It says that matter warps or curves the geometry of space-time, and we experience that distortion as gravity. The existence of extremely massive black holes was one of the first predictions of Einstein’s theory, and even Einstein wasn’t sure that they actually existed.

Using a massive telescope network, scientists now have data in hand that could vastly broaden our understanding of gravity. Black holes are the most densely filled objects in the universe, giving them enormous gravitational pull. Stellar black holes, formed from the collapse of giant stars, can compact the mass of ten suns to the size of New York City. Supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies can have the mass of billions of suns. Their origin remains a mystery.

Even if the first images are still crappy and washed out, we can already test for the first time some basic predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity in the extreme environment of a black hole,” says radio astronomer Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Astronomers have only circumstantial evidence that black holes lie hidden at the heart of every large galaxy in the universe. “They are the ultimate endpoint of space and time, and may represent the ultimate limit of our knowledge,” says Mr. Falcke.

The first-ever photo of a black hole is a milestone in astrophysics and an achievement that validated the pillar of science put forward by Albert Einstein more than a century ago. The somewhat fuzzy photo of the black hole at the center of Messier 87, or M87, a massive galaxy residing in the center of the relatively nearby Virgo galaxy cluster, shows a glowing ring of red, yellow, and white surrounding a dark center.

The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an international collaboration involving about 200 scientists begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole. Capturing the photos took years of planning and cooperation between international partners stretching from the tallest mountain in Hawaii to the frozen terrain of the South Pole to create an electronically linked network of eight observatories and a virtual telescope dish as wide as the planet. Known as the Event Horizon Telescope, the radio-dish network opened its eye on the heavens during a 10-day window that started on April 4.

Black holes, phenomenally dense and coming in various sizes, are extraordinarily difficult to observe by their very nature. A black hole's event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything – stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation – gets swallowed into oblivion. The telescope zeroed in on two supermassive black holes: a beast as massive as four million suns called Sagittarius A, which lies at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, and a black hole about 1,500 times heavier at the core of the nearby galaxy M87. The Event Horizon Telescope has probed the neighborhood of each of these behemoths before, but this is the first time the network has included the South Pole telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a group of 66 radio dishes in Chile. ALMA sharpens the Event Horizon Telescope’s acuity 10-fold, enabling it to spot objects as small as a golf ball on the moon—and thus image the surprisingly small event horizons of the two black holes.

Brexit delayed again to October … or never?

Once again, British Prime Minister Theresa May has delayed the United Kingdom’s leave from the European Union, this time to October 30. She continues to place the blame on the government and opposition while taking no responsibility herself for the ineptitude the Brexit process has endured. No-deal Brexit plans have been shelved by the Government "with immediate effect." Operation Yellowhammer, which involves "doomsday" contingencies for a no-deal Brexit, is being wound down while other plans remain in place.

Senior Eurosceptic Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) urged the Prime Minister to resign. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister refused to apologise to the public after EU leaders imposed a six month Article 50 extension on Britain, meaning the UK will almost certainly be forced to participate in European Parliament elections on May 23. A new poll suggests support for the Conservatives has fallen to a similar level as John Major ahead of the landslide defeat by Tony Blair's Labour Government in 1997.

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said that the end of no-deal planning represented a "complete betrayal" of the referendum and described the move as a "dereliction of duty". Veteran MP Sir Bill Cash asked, “Does the Prime Minister appreciate the anger that her abject surrender last night has generated across the country, having broken promises 100 times not to extend the time?” Sir Bill, who is the chairman of the Commons EU scrutiny committee, accused the Prime Minister in the House of Commons of breaking her promises and argued the Withdrawal Agreement undermined British democracy and the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, as that it ran contrary to the national interest. He concluded with, “Will she resign?

Fellow Brexiteer Peter Bone, posited, “We now have an extension of October. Prime Minister, how are you going to honour that commitment you gave to the House?” PM May argued she could still honour that commitment if MPs voted for a deal, blaming the extension on MPs for refusing to support her deal. She told the House of Commons to use the 12-day Easter break as an opportunity to "reflect on the decisions that will be made swiftly on our return" though she is expected to go on holiday next week.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis warned PM May that calls for her resignation will “increase dramatically” following last night’s summit in Brussels. He added that the election of a new leader would allow for a “reset” of the Brexit negotiations and would again open up the possibility of renegotiating the Irish backstop widely loathed by Conservative Eurosceptics and the Democratic Unionists.

The 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs discussed a timetable for the Prime Minister's departure, of May 22 that would allow for an 11-week leadership contest with her successor in place by August. Since the Conservative caucus wasted the opportunity in December of a non-confidence vote to remove PM May at party leader, the only other option to force her removal, which is a vote of confidence in the Commons, something even Eurosceptics are hesitant to employ. That would involve voting with Labour against the Government and potentially triggering a General Election, which no Conservative MP currently wants with the state of the party being what it is. Senior Conservatives indicated that the Prime Minister will stick to her pledge to stay on until a deal is ratified, which presently appears to be the end of October.

The DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson asked PM May, “In these negotiations the EU demanded £39 billion, and got it; an unnecessary Irish backstop, and got it; a withdrawal agreement that would tie our hands in future negotiations, and got it; and extensions that go against commitments given by the Prime Minister, and got it. Can she give us any example of any EU demand that she has actually resisted?” PM May responded, “the European Union has been clear that the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.

 

WikiLeaks’ Assange arrested in London and facing extradition to the United States

47-year-old Australian-born Julian Assange who founded WikiLeaks in 2006 and has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past seven years has been arrested by British police under an extradition treaty between the United States and Britain. He was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and faces up to five years in prison in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. The arrest makes extradition now possible.

I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange,” Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament, saying “This goes to show that in the United Kingdom no one is above the law.

In July 2010, WikiLeaks released more than 91,000 documents, most of them secret U.S. military reports about the war in Afghanistan. In October of that year, it released another 400,000 classified military files chronicling the war in Iraq from 2004 to 2009. Leading up the 2016 American Presidential election, WikiLeaks revealed Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecured server to transmit potentially classified information via email.

Mr. Assange’s supporters consider him to be an advocate for free speech who challenges censorship and a hero for exposing what they describe as abuse of power by modern states. “Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges,” said Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Mr. Assange. Another of his lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, said the arrest set a “dangerous precedent” for the media where “This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the United States,” she said.

On Thursday, U.S. prosecutors announced charges against Mr. Assange, accusing him of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, formerly named Bradley Manning, to gain access to a government computer as part of one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history. Ms. Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables, and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq. Obama commuted the final 28 years of Manning’s 35-year sentence. The indictment was made secretly last year and unsealed on Thursday. Mr. Assange faces up to five years in prison if convicted, and legal experts anticipate more charges.

In November 2011, London’s High Court said Mr. Assange should be extradited to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes after accusations by two former WikiLeaks volunteers in 2010. After losing an appeal, Mr. Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in June 2012 to avoid being extradited. He was granted political asylum by the anti-American left-wing former Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa. Mr. Assange remained in the embassy after Sweden dropped the investigation against him in 2017, fearing the U.S. would prosecute him.

In 2017 elections, Mr. Correa was replaced as Ecuadorean President by Lenin Moreno who has since moved Ecuador’s foreign policy to a more U.S.-friendly stance. He has been openly critical of Mr. Assange in recent months, calling him an inherited problem and accusing him of violating the rules of his asylum. President Moreno said the South American country had complied with its duties to Mr. Assange under international law and he accused Wikileaks of repeatedly violating the rules of his asylum, including a provision which was meant to stop him intervening in the internal matters of other countries. A leak of Vatican documents in 2019 was the most recent example of Mr. Assange violating that policy, President Moreno said in a video posted on Twitter.

Italy's Salvini unites a Nationalist Alliance heading into May’s European Parliament election

In Milan on Monday, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini met with conservative, nationalist parties from across Europe to discuss the formation of a broad international alliance within the European Parliament. The European Union will hold May 26 elections for members of the Parliament. Nationalist parties in Italy, Austria, Poland, and Hungary are expected to do well in the May 26 elections, and Minister Salvini has pledged to bring about a "new European spring."

Minister Salvini also serves as Interior Minister and has been strongly opposed to the illegal migration flooding Italy’s shores, reflecting growing public sentiment.  He said that what the group have in mind is "a new Europe that looks toward the future and to the coming generations" and are working for "a new European dream." The meeting was organized under the slogan of ‘Towards a Europe of Reason’.

"We are not nostalgics or extremists. The only nostalgics in Brussels today are in government. We look to the future. The outdated debate about right and left, fascists and communists does not interest the 500 million citizens in Europe, which we leave to historians," said Minister Salvini, the 46-year-old head of the Lega party. Important concerns of the alliance are the protection of the external borders, fight against smuggling and terrorism, as well as respect for the national identities. Together, they will work toward employment, family policy, safety, environmental protection, and the future of young people.

Attendees included Joerg Meuthen, Chairman of the Alternative for Germany party, Olli Kotro of the Finns Party, and Anders Vistisen of the right-wing Danish People's Party.  Mr. Methuen said the planned bloc would comprise at least 10 nationalist parties from different EU member states. Though absentees included Marine Le Pen of France's Nationalist Rally and Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), Minister Salvini said he speaks on behalf of other parties, including the FPÖ and the Rassemblement National (RN).

Addressing the media, Minister Salvini said, "The ambitious objective of those present is to create the leading group of the next European Parliament, the largest, most important, most decisive, and most addressed to the future.” He added they will have the newest ideas and hope to be present in nearly all of the European countries that will be voting. "Our goal is to win the EU elections and change the rules of Europe. Other parties will join us," Minister Salvini said. Plans are underway to hold a large gathering for the new Europe in Milan's Piazza Duomo on May 18.

Minister Salvini said talks with Turkey regarding joining the EU, which have been suspended, should be canceled. He said he believes Turkey would be an Islamic influence that is not needed in Europe and that the country is too different culturally.

AfD leader Mr. Meuthen emphasized the need for EU external border protection as important to defend Europe's "rich heritage" saying, "We have to be a European fortress, where we decide who can come and who can not. If (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel claims that this is not possible, we answer that this is feasible with political will, as Salvini and his Lega testify,” said Mr. Meuthen.

“Seriously underqualified” Wilson-Raybould and Philpott kicked out of Trudeau’s caucus

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott from Liberal caucus this week. The Prime delivered the news to federal MPs on Tuesday afternoon, saying, "The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken. Whether it's taping conversations without consent or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government and in me personally as a leader, it's become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team."

Ms. Wilson-Raybould gave the Justice Committee written statements and a 17-minute audio recording of her speaking with outgoing Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick in the intention of corroborating and elaborating on her February 27 testimony to the committee. In Canada, it is legal to record a conversation as long as one person has knowledge of it. PM Trudeau said it's wrong for a politician to secretly record "a conversation with anyone" and that for an Attorney General to do it with Canada's top bureaucrat was "unconscionable." Ms. Wilson-Raybould replied, “Trust is a two way street… It is unconscionable to tread over the independence of the prosecutor, it is unconscionable not to uphold the rule of law,” adding that she was alarmed that it seemed more people were concerned about the existence of the tape rather than the contents of it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s close friend and former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts also testified before the committee, on March 6, where he disputed Ms. Wilson-Raybould's recounting of events. This week, Mr. Butts handed over texts and notes to the House of Commons Justice Committee days after new evidence submitted by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould was made public. The question is, how did Mr. Butts obtain these texts and notes, which would have been on a government-provided cell phone and supposedly left behind the day he resigned from the Prime Minister’s Office?

Ms. Wilson-Raybould now says that blowback from the affair could have been entirely avoided had PM Trudeau apologized for what she says was political interference in a prosecution. Sources said that after Ms. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her role as Justice Minister in January, she told the Prime Minister she would stay in Cabinet under certain conditions, including firing PM Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick, and senior legal adviser Mathieu Bouchard. All three were named in her testimony as involved in the sustained and inappropriate pressure she says she faced on the SNC-Lavalin file. Ms. Wilson-Raybould also wanted PM Trudeau to apologize, either publicly or before Cabinet. Finally, she wanted assurances that her replacement as Justice Minister and Attorney General, David Lametti, would be directed to not authorize a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for SNC-Lavalin.

PM Trudeau removed Ms. Philpott despite the fact that she had nothing to do with Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s audio recording. Following PM Trudeau’s announcement removing the two women from caucus, Ms. Philpott posted a statement on her Facebook page, commenting: “I was accused publicly by people in caucus of not being loyal, of trying to bring down the Prime Minister, of being politically motivated, and of being motivated by my friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould. These accusations were coupled with public suggestions that I should be forced out of caucus. These attacks were based on inaccuracies and falsehoods. I did not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the Prime Minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould… On the contrary, I recommended that the government acknowledge what happened in order to move forward. This was an expression of loyalty, not disloyalty — in the same way that Jody Wilson-Raybould attempted to protect the Prime Minister from the obvious short-term and long-term consequences of attempts to interfere with prosecutorial independence — but to no avail.” 

Adding an interesting perspective to the whole affair, the notable Conrad Black wrote the following excerpts in his article for the National Post:

"Wilson-Raybould was seriously underqualified to be minister of justice, a post historically occupied by some of Canada’s leading statesmen, including prime ministers or future prime ministers …

“Wilson-Raybould was a Crown prosecutor for three years and then spent 12 years as a native rights activist-administrator and politician. But she personified the fusion of two groups to which the Justin Trudeau Liberal party and regime prostrated themselves like postulants before Pope Alexander (Borgia) VI (seeking to kiss a foot, nothing so egalitarian as a ring)…

"As a chief commissioner of the British Columbia Treaties Commission, and as regional chief of the Association of First Nations in British Columbia, Wilson-Raybould and her husband authored an 800-page book called the British Columbia Association of First Nations Governance Toolkit — a Guide to Nation-Building. It was a toolkit for the self-emasculation of Canada as a sovereign jurisdiction, and a guide to the jurisdictional destruction of Canada as a nation and its voluntary submission, on grounds of the alleged moral turpitude of the European discoverers and settlers of this country, to the overlordship of the notoriously ragged self-defined communities of partially pre-European descended people in Canada. Her declared objective was to “take back” what the natives had lost...

"Some of us warned where this was going. The prime minister and his senior collaborators, including the former principal secretary (Gerald Butts) and the clerk of the Privy Council (Michael Wernick, a non-political figure and the country’s senior civil servant), finally, after warning signals had become more frequent than a healthy jogger’s heartbeat in mid-run, and louder than the foghorn of R.M.S. Queen Mary, tried to put on the brakes. The prime minister shuffled the justice minister to veteran’s affairs (for which she was even less qualified than she was to be attorney general — I don’t like to imagine what her conception of war veterans was)."

Regulators target social media rules and tech start-ups amid another Facebook privacy leak

A new European Commission research paper titled 'Competition for the Digital Era' says American technology giants should be subject to stricter merger controls where a “heightened degree of control of acquisitions of small start-ups by dominant platforms” will prevent them from purchasing promising European start-ups and stifling competition.

The report suggested a new test could help decide whether mergers should be blocked if they give disproportionate power to the acquiring company over data or prevented the entry of new start-ups. It also suggested changing the revenue threshold for mergers and buyouts of European tech companies so that more deals would be scrutinised by the regulator.

Many of Britain’s hopeful technology start-ups have been bought by Silicon Valley firms, such as Bloomsbury AI bought by Facebook for USD $30 million and artificial intelligence company DeepMind acquired by Google for 400 million GDP in 2014. In the UK, the Government has proposed a new digital tax on the biggest technology firms, while Labour has proposed new regulations such as fines on companies which fail to remove hate speech.

Despite new calls from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to introduce regulation on social media, the report does not appear to support this. These tech giants continue to be criticized for being platforms that spread misinformation and host discriminatory and abusive content. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon are among those that have come under increasing attention from regulators and politicians over their use of data and ability to combat harmful content.

The reports authors said treating technology companies like public utilities with strict regulations would not work and would stifle innovation, stating, “We do not envision a new type of 'public utility regulation' to emerge for the digital economy. The risks associated with such a regime – rigidity, lack of flexibility, and risk of capture – are too high.

Mr. Dorsey said, “It’s the job of regulators to ensure protection of the individual and a level playing field." In an opinion piece in the Washington Post last weekend, Mr. Zuckerberg called for government and regulators to have a “more active role.” He called for regulation in harmful content, elections, privacy, and data portability, and said rules should be drawn up to define political advertisements and more countries should adopt rules based on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Mr. Zuckerberg is currently engaged in a criminal investigation into how political consultants used Facebook's system to improperly harvest data from 87 million people. This was made possible by tasking a developer to create a seemingly harmless personality test app, which when installed by Facebook users was granted access to the Facebook Application Programmer Interface (API) to pool their information, which was later sold to Cambridge Analytica.

Now, in another scandal for the company that has long profited from use of its users’ personal data, cyber security researchers have revealed 540 million Facebook records have been "exposed to the internet". According to Australian IT company UpGuard, two apps that Facebook allowed to access to its users’ data stored personal information on insecure servers without putting security measures in place.

Users’ Facebook IDs, passwords, friend lists, location check-ins, events, comments, likes, reactions, and account names were found on a database uploaded by Mexican digital publisher Cultura Colectiva which was discovered on Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud servers, a popular storage product. A second database belonging to a now defunct Los Angeles-based social network app called The Pool Party which included names, email addresses, photos, friends lists and likes of 22,000 additional users was also found. Both Cultura Colectiva and At The Pool appear to have used Facebook's API to gather information.

Bezos divorce draws attention to possible Saudi hacking of private devices and personal information

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie have finalized their amicable divorce, whereby Mr. Bezos retains control over his USD $890 billion online marketplace. On January 9, Mr. Bezos announced the end of their 25-year marriage, the day before American tabloid the National Enquirer published details of his “months-long affair” with Lauren Sanchez.

Mr. Bezos told his top security chief of 22 years, former CIA and FBI agent Gavin de Becker, to “spend whatever is needed” to find the source who leaked the details of his new relationship. In February, Mr. Bezos published a blog post charging that the tabloid had attempted to blackmail him with intimate photographs that had been taken on his smartphone and allegedly sent to Ms. Sanchez unless the investigation was dropped.

Mr. de Becker’s investigation led him to accuse Saudi Arabia of hacking Mr. Bezos’ phone to obtain private information, including the photos and accompanying texts. “Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder,” Mr. de Becker wrote in an article for the Daily Beast.

After interviews with current and former executives from The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc (AMI), advisers to American President Donald Trump, associates close to those at the heart of Saudi Arabia's government, Middle East intelligence experts and cyber security specialists, Mr. de Becker concluded the hacking was a “key part of the Saudis’ ‘extensive surveillance efforts’”. Experts told Mr. de Becker about the Saudi government’s capability to “collect vast amounts of previously inaccessible data from smartphones in the air without leaving a trace - including phone calls, texts, emails.

In his article, Mr. de Becker suggested that Mr. Bezos became a target of the Saudi regime after the Washington Post, which he owns, criticized the country after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. United States intelligence officials said they believed that Mr. Khashoggi's killing, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was ordered by the crown prince himself. This allegation was strongly denied by the Saudi government, and the Saudi government’s Minister of State for foreign affairs denied all accusations regarding Mr. Bezos, saying it had “absolutely nothing to do” with the National Enquirer’s story.

Mr. de Becker said some of the methods allegedly employed by the Saudi government to “attack” people, included creating artificially trending hashtags online. He claimed it had also used a “cyberarmy” of bots to attack Mr. Bezos.

The Saudi regime previously sent an operative to work for Twitter to gather information. Twitter later fired the suspected employee and later advised certain users that their accounts may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors.

Evidence from Mr. de Becker’s investigation has been turned over to federal officials, and he notes it is “unclear to what degree” AMI is aware of the Saudi government’s involvement.

Apple launches a new streaming service to compete with the likes of Netflix

On Monday, Apple announced its new TV streaming service called Apple TV Plus, as well as a revamped Apple TV experience that competes against the biggest streaming services. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “This will be a different kind of event. We’ve developed world-class services, and that’s what today is all about.” The announcement is considered crucial for Apple as its iPhone sales flatten, and the company looks to its growing services division to make up for the revenue loss.

Apple TV+ was unveiled to “tell great stories,” as Mr. Cook put it. Among the creative partners introduced were Hollywood elites including Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, J.J. Abrams, and Oprah.

Despite being categorized as "streaming services," however, the new Apple TV Plus and its peers have distinctively differing features from each other. The new Apple TV Plus will have original content, streaming apps with an Apple TV device, the option to buy or rent content, the ability to watch purchased iTunes content with Apple TV or on other devices with the Apple TV app, including mobile devices, computers, some smart TVs, and some streaming devices, includes premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz with Apple TV Channels, and will not contain ads.

What Apple TV will not offer are live TV, such as Hulu, since it is not its own cable provider. Apple did not announce pricing for Apple TV+, which will be available in the fall.

A new Apple TV app, called Apple TV Channels, offers TV shows, sports, movies, and children’s programming tailored for the user through machine learning of their habits. The app, available beginning in May, can be viewed through digital platforms like Samsung, Roku, and Amazon.com.

Apple News+ is now available. The first month is free, and USD $9.99 a month after. The company is revamping it by bringing more than 300 magazines such as Time, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker.

The consumer market is embracing digital subscription services in record numbers, according to market researchers. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of American households have a video-streaming subscription service while 65 percent pay for traditional TV. According to Deloitte, this marks the first time streaming has overtaken traditional TV in the U.S. and with Apple’s entry, and the impending launches of services from Comcast ’s NBC and Disney, the shift is likely to accelerate.

Though iPhone sales dipped 15 percent in the December quarter, they still accounted for 62 percent of Apple’s USD $84 billion in total sales for the quarter. Services rose 19 percent and made up 13 percent of total quarterly sales.

The Great Brexit Betrayal

The British people are disgusted, frustrated, and angry at the ineptitude of their government. Hundreds of thousands protested across the country on Friday in a march that lead to the Parliament building, representing the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union, and demanding that Brexit be fulfilled. Many Britons believe a no-deal exit from the EU is better than the bad deals negotiations have produced.

Several groups were represented in the March To Leave procession headed for Westminster, including Leave Means Leave, UKIP, the Brexit Party, and Generation Identity. Brexit Party MEP for Scotland David Coburn remarked, "Excellent, isn't it? It's like Cromwell's Army." Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson were among the Brexiteer speakers to protesters who waved Union flags, placards, and banners as they called for an immediate Brexit.

Cheers went out around Parliament after controversial campaigner Tommy Robinson announced to a large crowd that the Government's Withdrawal Agreement had been defeated for a third time. Many demonstrators in yellow vests rejoiced in the result, claiming it would lead to the "no deal Brexit that we want".

Mr. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said to the crowd, "So Theresa May has lost her vote. Many people will be asking what does that even mean. It means we were betrayed. Today is supposed to be our Independence Day." The crowd were then shown a documentary made by Robinson on a 50-foot screen, of which Mr. Robinson said, "Panodrama proves everything, every single one of you already know: propaganda, slander, collusion, demonisation against every single one of us."

On June 23, 2016 a national referendum on the future of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union resulted in a vote to Leave. Friday, March 29, 2019 was supposed to be a day of celebration, where the people’s will would be honoured and Britain would officially leave the grips of European Union.

However, British Prime Minister Theresa May and the majority of her Conservative government caucus have proven themselves contemptable, both in terms of the negotiating process and in delivering the demands of the country’s citizens to preside over their own future. The EU, unwilling to lose their 1-billion-Euro trade surplus with the UK, have been belligerent bullies over the past three years.

Now, it is unknown if or when Brexit will actually take place, in the face of repeated refusals from MPs to support PM May’s Withdrawal Agreements, primarily because most in the House of Commons think the public are foolish plebes and want their country to remain beholden to an undemocratic and failing supranational project.

The EU has given Britain until April 12 to decide whether it wants to ask for another postponement to Brexit. There will be an emergency Brexit summit on April 10 to deal with a British request or prepare for a no-deal Brexit. Without a delay, Britain will leave the EU at 11 pm on April 12 in a no-deal scenario.

Speaking to the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers earlier this week, PM May implied she will step down from the party’s leadership if her EU exit deal is approved by Parliament. She said, “I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won’t stand in the way of that” and had “heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party” before coming to her decision. Several senior Conservatives, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (who would almost definitely run for leader), indicated they would vote for the deal if she made such a pledge.

As expected, PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement was defeated for the third time on Friday – what should have been Brexit day. Ridiculously, she has suggested there will be a general election in the upcoming weeks – as if Britons hadn’t been clear enough in what they wanted to date. A general election may threaten the Conservative government with the risk of putting the governance of the UK in Labour’s hands. Britain is not scheduled to hold a national election until 2022, yet Opposition politicians think the only way forward is an early election that could rearrange Parliament and break the political deadlock. They could try to bring down the government in a no-confidence vote, triggering a general election.

European Union introduces new copyright rules to further infringe on freedom of speech

On Tuesday, members of the European Union Parliament approved new online copyright rules by voting in favour of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. As the EU Parliament put it, the new rules aim "to ensure that the longstanding rights and obligations of copyright law also apply to the internet” and has brought intense criticism from technology companies, freedom of speech activists, and content creators.

A majority of EU member states now need to approve the final text when representatives meet next month. After that, the Directive needs to be implemented by each member state, and those implementations may not be the same. Now, a two-year countdown begins before EU countries turn the Directive into national law. During that time, expect advocacy groups to challenge the requirements in court. Everyone using the internet in Europe and every company doing business there will be affected in some way, though no one is quite sure how.

Article 13 requires anyone sharing copyrighted content to obtain permission from rights owners, even if the content is just an animated GIF on Twitter. Even repurposing an image for a meme would require permission from the image's creator, because while memes are protected as parodies under current copyright law, an automated filter is incapable of distinguishing between a parody and a rip-off. Memes are a particular target because conservatives are vastly more successful in creating and communicating a message with them, which run predominantly against mainstream media narratives.

User-generated content platforms from Facebook to Wikipedia will now be forced to implement “upload filters” to ensure material doesn’t infringe on someone else’s copyright or risk being sued. The filter would analyze the content being uploaded, compare it to a database of copyrighted works, and either permit its passage or kick it back to the uploader. Prohibitively expensive, vulnerable to bugs, and prone to extensive collateral censorship, such filters have the potential to effectively hobble the free exchange of information the internet has come to represent. As has been proven in other instances, algorithms have the potential to, for example, influence millions of votes in an election.

Article 13 will require news aggregators that want to display content from news providers to obtain a license for anything more than "very short extracts." Article 13 has been derided as a "link tax" that will damage small publishers and news-related startups, however the EU Parliament insists this is not true and notes that hyperlinking has explicitly been exempted in the directive. Content aggregators, including those such as Google may choose to avoid publishers that demand payment or bestow a competitive advantage (e.g. ranking) to publishers offering favorable licensing terms. Given how publishers in Europe have regretted the loss of visitor traffic that follows from Google excommunication, they may prefer low- or no-cost licensing to obscurity.

Article 15 allows websites to be sued for copyright violations by their users and requires internet companies to adopt upload filters to prevent copyright liability arising from users. Websites may be able to avoid liability with an algorithm, of which the current absence of any foolproof system suggests automated solutions will fall short, or by hiring people to provide editorial oversight. The human option would not work at the scale contemplated by Google or Facebook where the cost in editors would exceed the ad revenue, but it might turn out to be the only way to limit user-generated misinformation.

As the European Commission explains, "The draft directive however does not specify or list what tools, human resources or infrastructure may be needed to prevent unremunerated material appearing on the site. There is therefore no requirement for upload filters. However, if large platforms do not come up with any innovative solutions, they may end up opting for filters."

International director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Danny O'Brien said in an interview, "When this first came up, even the original language was so difficult to imagine being successfully implemented, that it was hard to believe anyone would even try to pass it into law. Now after it has gone through the mincing machine of the negotiation, it's even more incoherent."

A version of Article 13 passed the Parliament in September despite widespread public outcry and mutated into an even more restrictive proposal during closed-door negotiations between lawmakers and major corporations. “Dozens of MEPs are undecided on how to vote,” the EFF tweeted, highlighting the “Save Your Internet” campaign it has vowed to fight to the bitter end. “Everyone is against it: artists, small businesses, big businesses, the Internet’s creators, and over 5 million people who signed the petition to stop the censorship machine it would create,” the group said.

Aside from member governments and wealthy copyright-holding corporations, it’s difficult to identify supporters for the restrictive provision. “Such sweeping pressure for pre-publication filtering is neither a necessary nor proportionate response to copyright infringement online,” said David Kaye, UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.

Trump vindicated from the Mueller campaign, exposing the lies and hypocrisy of the mainstream news media

American President Donald Trump tweeted this week, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” after Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted a report that concluded there was no evidence of Russian collusion by the President, his family, or anyone on his campaign team, nor is there any evidence to support obstruction of justice charges against the President.

Following one year, ten months, five days, and millions of taxpayer dollars, Mr. Mueller’s investigation and the corresponding mainstream news media coverage has proven a futile attack not just on the reputation and character of the President but on the whole of American democracy in an attempt to subvert the result of a Presidential election motivated purely by partisan spite. President Trump went along with the investigation and in the end all Mr. Mueller found out was what the President had already told the public.

In Attorney General William Barr’s summary, Mr. Mueller’s report “didn’t find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election”. No collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin or his agents, no conspiracy to ‘steal’ the 2016 election, and no co-ordination with Russia to create confusion and division among American voters.

The only collusion, confusion, and division stems from the deep and wide failure of responsibility by the American mainstream media to investigate and produce fact-based news to the public. Instead, the pro-Democrat media was clearly exposed as repeatedly leaking and suppressing information dependant upon whether it favours or harms their cause. Rather than accepting that they have been exposed for what they are, the media instead doubled down with attempts to disregard Mr. Mueller’s report now that it did not support their narratives. CNN alone repeated “does not exonerate” 120 times in a single day as House Democrats are now expected to push for impeachment proceedings anyway.

In an interview, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said, “I spoke to the President about this, I was at Mar-a-Lago with him when this all started coming down, and he was obviously very happy with the outcome, but he made the point to me, ‘I’m angry, do you think it’s ok to be angry?' I said absolutely, you should be and I think the American people should be.”

The Mueller investigation by the numbers 

  • 2,800 subpoenas

  • 500 search warrants

  • 500 interviews

  • 13 Russian nationals with suspiciously good computer skills

  • 12 Russian intelligence officers

  • 8 indictments against Americans with past affiliation to President Trump’s campaign or administration

  • 3 Russian companies

  • 2 other people who seem to have heard something at the time

What was not explained throughout the investigation were questions surrounding then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in handing over 20 percent of America’s uranium supplies to Uranium One, a company entirely owned by the Russian government. This company was controlled by Ian Telfer, a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, and was the successor to a company controlled by Frank Giustra, another major donor to the Clinton Foundation. To date, no serious investigation has been launched into this highly controversial decision.

So, why was such an investigation even launched? The far-left and progressive branches of politics and society, including the vast majority of the mainstream news media, use the well-know tactic of deflection whereby you accuse your opponent of committing offenses that you and your team actually have to distract and deflect public opinion away from what must not be discovered – your own illegal activities.

The best Mr. Mueller could come up with was President Trump’s guilt by association. Campaign Manager Paul Manafort was convicted of hiding earnings, some of them from advising a pro-Russian party in Ukraine, and his business partner Rick Gates plead guilty to lying to investigators. A Dutch lawyer named Alex van Der Zwaan served thirty days for lying to the FBI about contact between Mr. Gates and an unnamed person in Ukraine. George Papadopoulos, a minor figure in President Trump’s early campaign, served 12 days in jail for lying to investigators. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first National Security Advisor, plead guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador, but the content and significance of the conversations is unclear. Two of Mr. Flynn’s advisors were charged with violating lobbying rules in their work for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Michael Cohen was convicted of campaign finance violations for paying off Stormy Daniels, tax and bank fraud, and lying to Congress. Roger Stone is accused of lying to Congress about his links to Wikileaks.

Michael Avenatti, who represented Ms. Daniels, was arrested this week, accused of four counts of wire and bank fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Nicola T. Hanna, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, said in a press release that Mr. Avenatti was also being accused by his office of embezzling a client’s settlement fee. Additionally, Mr. Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort USD $20 million from Nike regarding an NCAA and Nike basketball scandal. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to 50 years in prison.

Europe’s Dictatorial Response to the New Zealand Shooting: Smear Peaceful Patriots

There are crystal clear signs that something is fundamentally wrong in the so-called democracies of the West. In fact, our nations are no longer truly democratic, and this has so far been best evidenced by increasing state repression and incursion upon freedom of speech and expression both online and in the real world.

The language around identity has been deliberately and negatively distorted by the far-left over the last sixty years so that it has become nearly impossible for any Caucasian to discuss the topic outside of the progressively-deemed acceptable narrative. Any European who wants to preserve their culture within Europe or questions government’s multicultural policy is called a racist and hateful by the far-left, politicians, and the media.

Generation Identity is a patriotic European youth movement that is firm in its foundation of non-violent activism and discourse of Identitarian ideas. It is important to note that there is a clear distinction between Identitarianism, which is the love for one’s own heritage, homeland, and culture, and Identity Politics peddled by politicians, far-left special interests, and the media to create divisive conflict between people and undermine social cohesion. Generation Identity’s central concern regards The Great Replacement of native Europeans in their homelands, which has been steadily occurring due to government policy since the 1960s but has accelerated with the illegal Great Migration of primarily Muslims from the Middle East and Africa into Europe since 2015.

This week revealed that the terrorist Brendan Tarrant, a self-professed far-left eco-fascist and lover of Communism, who killed fifty people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week had made a 1,500 Euro donation a year ago to the leader of Generation Identity’s Austrian branch, Martin Sellner. It’s currently tax season, and as the fallout came from the New Zealand attack Mr. Sellner was going through his list of donors for 2018 and recognized the surname, thinking it must be a coincidence. He spoke with his lawyer about bringing it to the attention of the police, who by that time were about to arrive at his door and investigate him.

The establishment elites are not concerned with facts. The mainstream media predictably leapt at the opportunity to associate all actions of a single terrorist to all ethnic Europeans, calling Mr. Tarrant a far-right extremist, a white nationalist, and a white supremacist, despite the fact that in Mr. Tarrant’s 64-page manifesto, there is only one passing reference to white nationalism and only one system of government he says he admires: the Chinese Communist Party. As Mr. Tarrant outlined in his manifesto, he intended “To agitate the political enemies of my people into action, to cause them to overextend their own hand and experience the eventual and inevitable backlash as a result.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who himself has frequently pointed to the incompatibility of Islam with Europe’s diverse cultures, announced this week that his government will look into whether or not Generation Identity is a criminal organization that should be dissolved. Mr. Sellner said the Identitarian movement had nothing to do with the terrorist nor supported his motives or goals, saying, "Using his private donation to me a year before his assassination as evidence for a 'criminal union' and then talking about 'banning the IBO' is not worthy of a constitutional state," adding that the announcement by Chancellor Kurz was “an expression of an overreaction to a media hate campaign”.

The United States government then revoked Mr. Sellner’s visa to the country, meaning he can no longer visit his fiancée and her family, nor get married there as planned “due to his background”. Afterward, Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl confirmed the Christchurch killer had zero contact with the Austrian Identitarian movement beyond the one-time donation.

Does anyone seriously believe, though unnecessarily smeared and now vindicated, that there will be a public apology or amends for the attacks on Mr. Sellner’s civil liberties, character, and reputation? It’s blatant hypocrisy: billionaire George Soros funds a vast global network of organizations that include human traffickers, mainstream media, and charities that promote censorship, but he is not subject to the same scrutiny or harassment by the establishment elite.

Mr. Sellner and several other Austrian Generation Identity activists had previously been targeted by a prosecutor named Johannes Winklhofer from the city of Graz, of whom there is at least one abuse of authority complaint against him from 2012. Mr. Sellner alone had his home searched multiple times, in addition to his parent’s home, with multiple mobile phones, laptops, and bank cards confiscated by police. Those lawsuits, charging that the movement was a terrorist organization, were dismissed from the country’s highest court. Mr. Winklhofer is the same vindictive prosecutor who initiated the latest investigation into Mr. Sellner, whose lawyer is appalled with his abuse of the law resulting in a house search and tipping off the media for a cheap headline.

One of the established goals of political violence has been to discredit those who use it. What is clear from Mr. Tarrant’s manifesto is his intention that his terrorist attack trigger massive repression against patriotic movements, such as Generation Identity. By making a donation to Mr. Sellner, who is the most well-known representative of Generation Identity across Europe, Mr. Tarrant ensured there was a paper trail linking his actions to Mr. Sellner to create suspicion. As Mr. Sellner questioned in a video following the search of his home, why would Mr. Tarrant, who said he finds political solutions cheap, who thinks peaceful activism on the streets is ridiculous and hypocritical, and laughs at those who engage in it, donate money to someone like him?

The British government alone has allowed the return of at least 400 known ISIS members from the Middle East. The government previously disclosed that there are at least 3,000 Jihadist extremists living in the United Kingdom, all of whom are considered potential terrorist attackers. A minimum of another 22,000 Jihadists reside in the United Kingdom who are judged to pose a threat and are under investigation or active monitoring in at least 500 operations being run by police and intelligence services. Yet, the establishment elite, comprised of politicians and unelected influencers such as the media, see no hypocrisy in allowing actual, legitimate terrorists into our countries while harassing and censoring young adults who are peacefully resisting the decay of our democratic institutions, culture, and societies.

Millennials are not prepared to repeat the wars of history. In the closing message of Mr. Sellner’s video, he said, [translation] “We will not stop to spread information about the Great Replacement and to be active. I can say to the western media and partly the judiciary, who make themselves the wilful executors, one thing will not work: Us being radicalised and following this madness into terror. We will never do that. To all sympathisers, I want to say, the Great Replacement doesn't disappear by becoming inactive. To all our opponents I want to say, our peaceful resistance against the Great Replacement will not stop at all.”

Daniel Lacalle: Why Central Banks May Trigger the Next Crisis

In a new interview with Hedgeye, chief economist Daniel Lacalle described his long term view on the issues impacting the global economic cycle. Mr. Lacalle said the current global cycle reflects debt saturation, a prolonged recovery that leads to slower growth in the face of slowdown after years of stimulus measures, as evidenced by lower productivity, higher debt, and challenges of demand side policies, where the failure of many of them are driving lower levels of growth. This is most evident in economies that relied the most on monetary policies compared to fiscal policy, including China and the European Union.

The Chinese slowdown has nothing to do with trade wars

The realization is that all of the stimulus projects since 2008 have driven the economy to be less dynamic, including the aforementioned debt saturation, excess capacity, and malinvestment directed by government policies and regional government policies, resulting in China’s economic slowdown. Industrial production and exports are showing the competitive capacity of the economy is rapidly weakening, and the economy is not as robust as the government portrays it to be. China is now a trade deficit country, with manipulation of its GDP numbers, so a trade war with the United States is simply being used as an excuse to justify the evidence of internal and external demand weakening, which has been taking place for two years now.

European Union challenges. Low growth, high interventionism.

Mr. Lacalle says the issue of the Eurozone is very simple: it is missing the technology revolution completely, it’s not addressing the issues of productivity because it continues to subsidize the obsolete sectors while penalizing sectors of high productivity with overly aggressive fiscal wedges, the problem of demographics (which the central banks always ignore), and very high debt due to very high government spending. He calls the Eurozone slowdown as a case of “reality versus magic” amid an aging population, massive government spending, and huge tax rates.

He says he told the European Central Bank – who were unaware of the figure and how to deal with it – that 80 percent of gross capital formation was actually recycled capital and therefore once could not expect productivity growth improvement in the underlying economy and real wages strengthening fundamentally. What the Eurozone is experiencing is not unlike Japan in the late 1980s, where it disguised its structural problems with liquidity that generated a placebo effect upon a fundamental belief in the risk of the Euro collapsing. This resulted in the inflation of financial assets and negative yielding bonds in nearly all Eurozone economies and massive inflation in sovereign bonds, but the transfer of monetary policy has not gone to the real economy.

The US economy is more robust, but slowdown is inevitable.

The difference with the United States economic cycle is that the mechanism of transmission of the monetary policy is much better. It’s relative, but what is keeping the economy strong is whilst in the Eurozone 80 percent of the real economy is financed through the banking system, in the United States this is about 20 percent and therefore a much more dynamic economy with a better system of cleaning up problems.

The underlying trends are much different in the U.S. than the Eurozone and China because the impact of government spending and itself in the economy is much smaller. Productivity and wage growth are better, capital expenditure is poor but only due to the fact that companies do not need to spend more since the American economy is much more regional and much less externally dependent. Also, U.S. energy independence, where they are currently producing as much as Saudi Arabia, is an integral factor in the difference between the U.S., China, and the Eurozone.

 Watch the full interview

As President Trump declares victory over ISIS, special ops force member gives a warning

Perhaps for the first time since the War of Terror began nearly twenty years ago, American President Donald Trump announced the destruction of ISIS’ last remaining foothold in Syria and the decimation of the ISIS proclaimed caliphate.

As President Barack Obama before him claimed victory for the death of Osama bin Laden, President Trump’s win can be attributed to his persistence in ensuring the group’s terror network was no longer capable of what it once was. President Trump took office at the height of ISIS's brutal rule, when ISIS fighters controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria, and on Wednesday he held up a map with red marking the definitive collapse of this territory to a speck. He proclaimed that ISIS would be “gone by tonight.

However, as special operations task force Brett Velicovich wrote for Fox News, as “someone who spent nearly a decade hunting ISIS leaders, I can tell you that they are far from done. The ISIS caliphate may be destroyed territorially, but if we are not careful, it might get worse.” While government officials in D.C. saw the war from a distance, the soldiers on the front line saw a different reality. Mr. Velicovich reminds us that in 2010, ISIS had been brought to the brink of extinction when after nearly five years, the terrorist network’s number one and number two in charge had been killed and the remainder of the network dispersed.

ISIS did then and is re-emerging now. A recent report at CTC West Point shows that suicide operations, targeted killings, and raids continue to persist in cities once “liberated” from ISIS. Mr. Velicovich says tens of thousands of ISIS fighters now remain in prisons across the battlefield, but these prisons are over capacity and groups like the Syrian Defense Forces will eventually have to release many of them. In fact, they have already started and over the coming years tens of thousands more will be released. He asks, “do we really think those prisoners will simply return to a normal life?

The British government finally released actual numbers of ISIS Jihadists known to be in the United Kingdom, numbering a minimum of 23,000 … a great deal higher than their initial announcement of 3,000. The recent issue of ISIS bridge Shamima Begum wanting to return to England highlighted the fact that ISIS supporters are not returning “home” because they see the error of their ways, but rather due to the present decline of ISIS in the Middle East. Will the attention of Jihadists in Europe now turn to domestic terror?

Mr. Velicovich says it's hard to tell how many ISIS members still exist. During the battle of Baghouz to liberate the last remaining ISIS territory, SDF fighters estimated that there were only 500 fighters remaining in the city, but while the battle raged, over 3,000 ISIS fighters surrendered.

He believes our estimates of the numbers of remaining ISIS fighters globally are likely highly inaccurate., whereas many have likely slipped through the front lines of war, assimilating back into society, and prepping for a new asymmetric battle in the shadows. “This is when it gets more dangerous.  When they held terrain, it was easier to know exactly where they were, targeting them when they couldn’t blend into the civilian populace made it easier for coalition forces,” Mr. Velicovich said.

When faced with an enemy that believes in the global domination of Islam, will the War on Terror ever be truly be won?

Canadian Liberals reveal the Budget to detract from SNC-Lavalin scandal, as another MP quits caucus

In an interview released on Thursday, former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott told Macleans magazine that more revelations will come in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal. Ms. Philpott had resigned from Cabinet in protest over the government’s handling of a corruption scandal and said “There’s much more to the story that should be told. I believe we actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth.” Ms. Philpott added that she and Jody Wilson-Raybould had more to say but did not elaborate.

In a new letter to the House Justice Committee, former Liberal Cabinet Minister Wilson-Raybould says that she will provide additional evidence and a written statement on the SNC-Lavalin affair, even though its probe has concluded.

As MPs returned from a two-weeks break, there was a third Cabinet shuffle in three months and the tabling of the 2019 federal budget. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh took his seat in the House, becoming the first-ever visible minority federal party leader to do so.

Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick also announced his intention to retire before the federal election in an open letter to the Prime Minister published on the Government of Canada website. Mr. Wernick said that "recent events have led me to conclude that I cannot serve as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet during the upcoming election campaign."

PM Trudeau then stood in the House of Commons and announced that he was appointing former Liberal Minister Anne McLellan to examine some of the machinery of government issues that have been brought into the spotlight through the SNC-Lavalin controversy. This will include the potential of splitting up the Justice Minister and Attorney General roles. She’s been asked to report back with her findings no later than June 30.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the final budget of the Liberal government’s mandate, promising CAD $22.8 billion in new spending over the next six years. In it, the federal government makes targeted spending commitments aimed towards Millennials, workers, and seniors. It includes a new skilled-training program, a plan to lower the interest rates on student loans, new initiatives related to seniors’ savings, and new measures for first-time home buyers. A projected CAD $19.8 deficit in 2019-20 will drop to CAD $9.8 billion by 2023-24, completely erasing the chance for the Liberals to balance the budget, breaking another 2015 election campaign promise.

To get out in front of a possible budget delay, Minister Morneau took many by surprise and tabled the budget document early. Twenty minutes into his heavily heckled and delayed speech, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer rose on a point of order and decried the Liberals tactics as "an assault on democracy." Conservative MPs then rose from their seats and walked out of the House, vowing to trigger hours of confidence votes the next day. The opposition Conservatives forced the House of Commons to sit through the night from Wednesday into Thursday casting votes on hundreds of confidence motions.

On Wednesday, Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes quit the caucus, saying that she no longer wanted to "distract from the great work my caucus colleagues are doing,” after she accused the Prime Minister of acting with “hostility” towards her when she said she wouldn’t be running again.  Her departure prompted accusations from female Conservative MPs that PM Trudeau was a “fake feminist.”