Wednesday, August 24, 2016

6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Central Italy

Sputnik | Aug 24, 2016

© REUTERS/ Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
A strong earthquake has struck Italy on Wednesday near the city of Perugia.

A strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake has struck Italy on Wednesday near the city of Perugia, the United States Geological Survey reported. Perugia is the capital of Umbria region in central Italy. The earthquake was felt in Rome.

Italian civil protection agency said it had reports of collapsed buildings after the quake, Reuters reported. The Mayor of Italian town of Amatrice told Rai TV that the earthquake had caused extensive damage, several people were trapped under rubble.

"The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone," mayor Sergio Pirozzi said.

"There are people under the rubble… There's been a landslide and a bridge might collapse."

At least one person was confirmed dead, while four others are feared dead in the Italian town of Accumoli following a powerful earthquake in the central part of the country on Wednesday, the town's mayor said.

"At least four people are under the rubble and they are not showing any sign of life," Stefano Petrucci said, as quoted by the RaiNews24 broadcaster. The mayor added that another person died in the town.

Italian Prime Minister's spokesman reported on Twitter that the country's government is in touch with civil protection agency.

According to the Richter scale, magnitude 6.0-6.9 quakes are considered strong and can cause moderate damage to even earthquake-resistant structures.


FBI docs linked to Hillary Clinton role in Vince Foster’s suicide missing – report

RT | Aug 24, 2016

FILE PHOTO: Hillary Clinton (L) and Vince Foster © Reuters
The FBI’s reports linked to Hillary Clinton’s role in the death of Vince Foster, a White House counsel and her friend, have allegedly gone missing. A journalistic investigation says it could be Clinton’s humiliation that pushed Foster to suicide.

According to Daily Mail, documents containing interviews of Clinton conducted after Foster’s death in July 1993 have vanished from the National Archives.

The report claims that author and journalist Ronald Kessler visited the National Archives and Records Service in College Park, Maryland multiple times to review the reports submitted by FBI agents investigating Foster’s suicide.

On his first visit, Kessler received a box of documents, all related to Foster’s suicide – interviews with the medical examiner, US Park Police officers and White House aides.

However, when he visited the archives the second time, the box with allegedly the same set of documents did not have reports on Clinton’s role in the death of her husband’s aide.

Based on interviews of both officials and Foster’s family, the FBI found that a week before the former Bill Clinton aide killed himself, he attended a meeting with Hillary at the White House to discuss her proposed healthcare legislation.

Two former FBI agents told Kessler that the former First Lady publicly ridiculed Foster, accusing him of “failing” and “not protecting” them.

“Hillary blamed him for failed nominations, claimed he had not vetted them properly, and said in front of his White House colleagues, 'You're not protecting us' and 'You have failed us,'” [former FBI supervisory agent Jim] Clemente said, adding that Foster “was profoundly depressed.”

“That was the final blow,” he added.

Another FBI agent, Coy Copeland, told Kessler that “Hillary put him down really, really bad in a pretty good-size meeting.”

“She told him he didn't get the picture, and he would always be a little hick town lawyer who was obviously not ready for the big time,” he said, while also calling the meeting “the final straw that broke the camel's back,” apparently referring to Foster’s depression.

However, Kessler failed to find either of the FBI documents that might have Hillary Clinton’s interviews with the agents.

“He examined all eight boxes but found no interviews by any investigator that detail either a meeting between Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster or the effects of a meeting between Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster on Vince Foster's state of mind,” the archives' public liaison Martha Murphy said of Kessler after he filed a Freedom of Information request with the National Archives.

Murphy said they searched for “the records that would be responsive” to Kessler’s request and concluded that they could not be found.

Yet, the archives' director of communications and marketing, when asked for a comment, refused to admit that the documents were missing, suggesting that they might be somewhere else.

“We do not agree with your conclusion that the records you requested are missing from the National Archives simply because we were unable to locate any responsive records in response to your request,” he told Kessler.

Valceanu did not rule out that the FBI interviews were not filed to the archives and could still be hidden in over 3,000 boxes containing 7.5 million pages of records.

The three-year investigation of Foster’s death was conducted by the office of Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, who at the time was investigating another controversy surrounding the Clintons.

In the end, Starr decided to conceal the FBI's findings in his final report, Kessler wrote.

Foster took his own life on July 20, 1993, at Fort Marcy Park along the Potomac River. It was concluded that he shot himself with a .38 caliber revolver in the mouth.

This is not the first time Clinton-related documents have vanished. In March 2009, the archives failed to find an external hard drive from the Bill Clinton White House containing confidential data.

A criminal investigation was opened and a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to recovery of the hard drive was placed.

'West not serious about fighting terrorism' - adviser to Syrian President Assad

RT | Aug 23, 2016 | Eva Bartlett

Bouthaina Shaaban © Stringer / Reuters
In early August, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, spoke with me about how the Western media is stifling Syrian voices, endlessly propagating false allegations against the Syrian government and army.

On the question of the Western media’s reaction whenever the Syrian Arab Army liberates areas from foreign-backed terrorists (the most recent examples include the liberation of Aleppo's Bani Zaid and Lairamoun industrial districts from the so-called "Free Syrian Army" (FSA), Jabhat al-Nusra, Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, and Ahrar al-Sham, among other terrorist factions), which was met with deafening silence by Western corporate media, Shaaban accused the Western media of “double standards.”

“If the West really wants to end this terrorism, why are they so upset about liberating Bani Zaid in Aleppo, which was responsible for killing thousands of civilians in Aleppo? They should have hailed the Syrian Arab Army that liberated these Syrian citizens from terrorism, and they should have hailed overcoming these terrorist groups that were sending hell into Aleppo.

“There's no real stand against terrorism,” the Syrian president’s adviser continued. “Not only do they not care about the lives of civilians in Aleppo or Syria, they don't care about the lives of civilians in Nice or Paris or in the USA. The lives of civilians in Syria is as worthy as the lives of civilians in any European country, and one should be human in this regard.”

Comparing the Russian method of battling terrorism in Syria to the Western coalition forces, Shaaban said the Western forces lack the necessary will to fulfill their mission.

“Russia believes that terrorism is a world-wide cancer, and therefore it should be fought truly and drastically in Syria so that it doesn't get to other countries. But the West doesn't have this conviction, doesn't have this will or intention.

Government amnesty actions ignored

The Syrian government has since the start of the war shown a willingness to work for a political solution, including the establishment in 2012 of a Reconciliation Ministry, which has overseen numerous reconciliation agreements that allow Syrians caught up in the war to surrender their weapons and receive an official pardon.
Yet, this willingness to offer a political means of re-joining Syrian society has been ignored in the Western media.

“Regardless of what [the anti-government rebels] did, the President issued a decree to grant them clemency, and he called on all of them to return to their country and be constructive in rebuilding their country, with no punitive measures against them. This is maximum forgiveness. I don't think any other country or president would do that.

Still, this has not been mentioned in Western media, at all. Not even by the UN mediator, he did not mention this at all, which tells you volumes about the 'efforts' they are making for a political solution in Syria.”

At this point in the interview, the Syrian president’s political and media adviser had harsh words for the present state of the Western media, which she said routinely “falsifies the facts”.

“There's no free press in the West. There is a corporate media who have an agenda and who try to portray everything according to that agenda. Either they're labeling accusations against us or falsifying facts and reporting things that have nothing to do with the truth...

Shaaban lamented that because the media has "demonized us in the eyes of Western people," the Western people "don't know who we are".

"We don't have a voice with Western people. We have no channel of communication; the corporate media is blocking the channels of communication between us and the West," she continued.

The conversation then moved to the recent announcement that Jabhat al-Nusra's had changed its name and whether this means they are somehow no longer terrorists.

“They are terrorists,” Shaaban responded. “It is the deeds that matter, not the name. This is good for a Hollywood film: a terrorist organization that has been killing in Syria for five years and is an offshoot of al-Qaeda is now changing its name, which means that it has become a 'moderate opposition'. This is absolutely ludicrous, and no sensible person should take this seriously.”

Shaaban expressed serious reservations over the term ‘moderate opposition,’ which she said does not exist in Syria.

“There is nothing in Syria called 'moderate opposition'. All of those criminal groups are killing people, confiscating land, looting hospitals and factories, and they are all the same, no matter what names they might take.”

The UN Resolution that disappeared

Shaaban also spoke on the West’s fight against terrorism, which she described as a “farce.” To support the assertion, Shaaban pointed to Western leaders and the UN itself disregarding UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2253, which entails stopping terrorism in Syria. At the same time, they support UNSC Resolution 2254 and NATO’s alliance plan of implementing a change of government in Syria.

“I would like anybody in the UN to answer this question: You want to implement 2254? Why don't you mention 2253? They should be dealt with with the intention in which they were taken: implement 2253 first, and then it would be very easy to implement 2254,” Dr. Shaaban asserted.

Indeed, the focus of UNSC Resolution 2253 is specific to actually stopping terrorism of “ISIL (also known as Da’esh), Al-Qaida, and associated individuals, groups ..” in Syria, after which a political resolution could follow. Stipulations include a cessation of funding terrorist groups (including ransom payments), travel bans, an arms embargo, and to “bring to justice, extradite, or prosecute any person who supports, facilitates, participates or attempts to participate in the direct or indirect financing of activities conducted by ISIL, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups...,” as noted in the UN Press Release regarding the resolution.

On the subject of UNSC Resolution 2253, Dr. Shaaban had this to say: “It is a Security Council resolution and it was issued under the 7th Chapter, so it is more obliging than 2254. And yet even the UN people don't mention it. This is the double-standards of the West: they address their audience with having a stand against terrorism and wanting to fight terrorism, when in reality they are facilitating terrorism and not even mentioning even a Security Council Resolution under the 7th Chapter, that was taken 24 hours before 2254.

I think they don't mention it because 2253 has the prerequisite of stopping terrorism in Syria, because it speaks about a punishment for financing, arming, facilitating terrorism into Syria. And if this resolution is implemented, it means that the Turkish border should be closed, it means that Saudi Arabia and Qatar should be brought to task because of financing the terrorists, it means that there would be no justification for more terrorists to cross the border and come to Syria.”

Regarding the disappearance of 2253, unimplemented and not discussed, Dr. Shaaban concluded what this means to her: “First, is it tells me that those who have taken this decision, including the UN and the West, are not serious in fighting terrorism. In fact they don't want to fight terrorism. They want to employ terrorism for their own purposes, and threats to fulfill their agenda, through using the weapon of terrorism.

Second, they would not be able to implement 2254, with all the good intentions on earth, because in order to implement 2254 you need to fulfill the prerequisite of at least controlling terrorism. Otherwise, how can you reach a political solution in Syria? How can you negotiate, how can you liberate Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and the rest of Aleppo, unless you first undermine terrorism?

There is no real international will to stop this war on Syria, no matter what they are saying. It's not important what they say, it's important what they do. Unfortunately, it is the Syrian people that who are paying the price, first and foremost.

Those who targeted Syria from the beginning, whether they are regional or international partners, they do not want this war on Syria to end. Thus, it is becoming like a war of attrition against the Syrian people.

Solar System as an Electrical Transformer | Space News

Thunderbolts Project | Aug 23, 2016

Of the many mysteries we’ve explored on this series, perhaps those in our own celestial neighborhood stand out the greatest. From consistently surprising atmospheric phenomena on planets, including the Earth, to the enigmatic behaviors of comets, to the ongoing puzzles of the Sun, the evidence for the electrical connectedness throughout the solar system grows with each new discovery.

In recent decades, the discovery of completely baffling exoplanet systems have led some astronomers to acknowledge the need for a whole new theory of planet and star formation. In part one of this two part episode, Dr. Michael Clarage, a scientist on the SAFIRE project team, proposes a foundation for a new model of the solar system, based on the principles of electrical engineering.