US troops drive in Eastern Europe to show defense readiness

US troops drive in Eastern Europe to show defense readiness (Source AP) A U.S. army infantry convoy is driving through Eastern Europe seeking to provide reassurance to a region concerned that the conflict between Russian-backed rebels and government forces in Ukraine threatens its security. The U.S. “Dragoon Ride” convoy is attracting interest and greetings from people along its route. It started last week from Estonia and passed through Latvia and Lithuania before entering Poland on Monday. Flying U.S. flags, dozens of Stryker and other armored vehicles from the 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are driving down the roads on their way back to base in Vilseck, Germany. They took part in the Atlantic Resolve exercise that shows NATO’s readiness to defend its members. They will stop in some Polish towns to meet local residents. The move comes at a time when Poland is stepping up its own defenses by calling thousands of reservists for urgent military training and by hosting major NATO and international exercises this year. Also Monday, Canadian and Polish troops held exercises at a test range in Drawsko Pomorskie, in the northeast. Bordering Ukraine and Russia, Poland says it has trust in NATO’s collective security guarantees but it also harbors bad memories of defense alliances with Britain and France that failed when Nazi Germany invaded in 1939. Adviser to the defense minister, Gen. Boguslaw Pacek, recently stressed that NATO expects its members to also build their own defenses. In an apparent reference to Russia, Pacek said that the U.S. convoy is a sign to “those in the East” that NATO is strong and united.

Euro Crisis Ripping Europe Apart

Euro Crisis Ripping Europe Apart (Source Germany and Greece are the extreme ends of the divide, but other nations in the union are also split between debtors and creditors. The EU is reaching the point where it will have to either get it together or split apart. At the moment, the relationship can still be fixed. Prominent leaders in Germany, for example, have agreed that Germany may need to pay Greece more World War II compensation, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is still able calm things down with a few phone calls. But that won’t last much longer. When a Greek government minister threatens to send terrorists to Germany, you’re close to the point of no return. European bureaucrats are excellent at kicking the can down the road, but they may not be able to do that much longer without irreparable damage to the union. If it is not fixed soon, more than the euro is at risk. The emotions involved are strong enough to tear apart the EU itself. If Greece followed through with its threat to flood the EU with migrants, for example, its EU membership would not be tolerated for long. “Watch closely. Germany will use this crisis to FORCE Europe to unite more tightly,” wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in 2011. “In the process, some eurozone countries will be forced out of the union. When that happens, the pundits will say European unification is dead, that the European Union has failed. DON’T LISTEN TO THEM!” The euro crisis was designed to force a group of EU nations to come together as a superstate, sharing the government necessary to make the common currency work. The growing anger in Europe merely increases the pressure on the eurozone to make that happen. That pressure may break some nations out of the eurozone, but it is confronting Europe’s leaders with a stark choice: Either make the changes that will make the euro work or see their beloved project disintegrate.

Drought-stricken California only has one year of water left, NASA scientist warns

Drought-stricken California only has one year of water left, Nasa scientist warns (Source California experiences the fourth year of one of the most severe droughts in its history, a senior Nasa scientist has warned that the state has about one year of water left. In an LA Times editorial published last week, Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory senior water cycle scientist Jay Famiglietti called for a more “forward-looking process” to deal with the state’s dwindling water supply. Famiglietti, who is also a professor at University of California at Irvine, said the state had about one year of water in reservoir storage and the backup supply, groundwater, was low. “California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain,” Famiglietti wrote. “In short, we have no paddle to navigate this crisis.”

Putin signs treaty integrating South Ossetia into Russia

Putin signs treaty integrating South Ossetia into Russia (Source AP) Russia tightened its control Wednesday over a second breakaway region of Georgia, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leader of South Ossetia signing a new treaty that calls for nearly full integration. Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili denounced the signing as a “destructive” move against his nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and said it would further exacerbate tensions. The United States, the European Union and NATO also strongly condemned the signing. South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s as the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia effectively gained complete control over it and a second breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, after a brief war against Georgia in 2008. A similar treaty was signed last year with Abkhazia. Both regions depend on subsidies from Russia. While Abkhazia is a lush sliver of land along the Black Sea coast, South Ossetia sticks like a thumb into northern Georgia. Under the agreement signed Wednesday in the Kremlin, South Ossetia’s military and economy are to be incorporated into Russia’s.

Putin’s Nuke Talk Worries European Leader

Putin’s Nuke Talk Worries European Leader (Source Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a documentary broadcast across Russia on March 15 that he was prepared to use nuclear weapons if Western powers had tried to prevent Moscow from seizing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula last year. In one segment of the film, an interviewer asked Mr. Putin if he would have considered placing Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal in a state of combat readiness, and he answered: “We were ready to do this .… [Crimea] is our historical territory. Russian people live there. They were in danger. We cannot abandon them. … That’s why I think no one wanted to start a world conflict.” Putin went on to explain why Russia never took any nuclear actions: “Despite all of the difficulties and the drama surrounding the situation, the Cold War is over, and we do not need international crises like the [Bay of Pigs],” he said. “Moreover, the circumstances did not call for such actions.” Putin also said in the documentary, titled Crimea: The Path to the Motherland, that he was surprised the annexation went so smoothly for Russia. The comments represent only the latest of many recent instances of nuclear threats from Russia. Several of the nation’s latest military drills have included simulations of nuclear strikes; Russian state-run media recently ran a program called “Putin Can Destroy NATO With a Single Phone Call,” during which it said Moscow could bomb the United States to “radioactive ash”; and, in recent months, Russian bombers—often equipped with nuclear weapons—have flown forays on the borders of NATO airspace. The broadcast of the documentary comes during a time of worries that Russia may soon attack the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Conquering Mariupol could help Russia establish a “land bridge” connecting mainland Russia to Crimea.

Global Shift in the Balance of Power Is Moving from West to East

Global Shift in the Balance of Power Is Moving from West to East (Source

A major recent event last week largely went unnoticed by both MSM and independent news sources alike. The British are apparently jumping ship away from the US dollar/petrodollar in an overt effort to align itself more closely with the BRICS alliance as it seeks a new standard international currency. For several years Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa (BRICS) have been preparing the world for its transition from USD standard international currency to its own alternative-in-the-making. America’s so called mother country England has seen the writing on the wall and knows the global balance of power is rapidly tilting in favor of where the sun always rises in the emerging East. The European central banking cabal from the City of London, a separate and private political and financial entity apart from the rest of both London and England, sent British royalty Prince William to China to quietly sign a deal to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). This surprising new development is a clear indication that the royal Bank of England is placing its financial bet and future on China and the East as its rock solid anchor. Much of the world has been looking to move away from and abandon the longtime global financial stronghold of the US Federal Reserve, its World Bank and US dollar standard. Enter the China led BRICS alliance and its New Development Bank and now China’s other investment bank entry AIIB. Simon takes liberty in his interpretation of Britain and Europe’s bold rebellion after decades relegated to being a mere puppet of the US Empire. Perhaps some Americans may feel a bit betrayed and unsettled by our longtime strongest global allies one by one seemingly abandoning the US dollar and American Empire in its reckoning time of need. If these geopolitical and economic trends are examined beyond their face value though, the changes occurring now may reflect much more significant, deeper changes than a mere alteration of standard international currency (as impactful as that will likely be for the US). These deep rooted fundamental changes have everything to do with the major global shift now taking place where the West’s ruling power elite itself is losing to the emerging global power rising in the East. The latest act of bold economic defiance breaking rank with US Empire interests mirrors last month’s bucking trend that Europe exercised when putting the skids on the US campaign for sending heavy armaments to Ukraine and pushing for war against Russia. The fact is Europe and especially Germany depend on natural gas from Russia and the US imposed sanctions on Russia hurt Europe even more than Russia. That along with wanting to avoid war in their own backyard has nations like Germany and France softening their hardline, US pushed anti-Russian posturing.

Total Solar Eclipse Occurs Friday

Total Solar Eclipse Occurs Friday (Source This week, the moon will completely cover the disk of the sun, creating a solar eclipse that only a small part of the world can see. The Friday, March 20 total solar eclipse event will be the first since Nov. 3, 2013. The dark umbral shadow cone of the moon will trace a curved path primarily over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, beginning off the southern tip of Greenland and then winding its way counterclockwise to the northeast, passing between Iceland and the United Kingdom. The shadow will then pass over the Danish-owned Faroe Islands, the sparsely inhabited Norwegian island group of Svalbard and then it will hook counterclockwise toward the northwest, where it leaves the Earth’s surface just short of the North Pole. If you don’t have the chance to see the solar eclipse in person, you can catch it live online. The online Slooh Community Observatory will broadcast live views of the solar eclipse through its website, beginning at 4:30 a.m.

China Now the World’s 3rd-Largest Arms Exporter

China Now the World’s 3rd-Largest Arms Exporter (Source From 2005 to 2009, China reigned as the world’s top weapons importer, but since then, it’s fallen to third place—while sliding into the third slot on another list: It’s displaced Germany as the third-largest weapons exporter. China retains only 5% of the global export market—the US and Russia hold 31% and 27%, respectively—but a new report by the Swedish International Peace Research Institute shows China’s exports of major arms jumped 143% between the period of 2005-2009 and that of 2010-2014. “One of the concerns about China is not just that they are modernizing—we don’t anticipate a conflict with China, certainly—but [that] they export,” the chief weapons’ buyer for the Pentagon warned Congress last year, per the Wall Street Journal. China has been able to make its break by marketing weapons at international fairs—Chinese firms attended the International Defense Exhibition in the UAE last month, the Journal points out—and looking beyond its usual customer base: Turkey is looking to buy its first long-range missile defense system and China and its $3.4 billion proposal are in the lead, Reuters reports. China also sells weapons to “niche markets” that the West snubs, including North Korea and Iran, the AP notes.

Major European “Allies” Desert Obama, Join China-led Infrastructure Bank

Major European “Allies” Desert Obama, Join China-led Infrastructure Bank (Source Zero Hedge)

It appears the sea of de-dollarization has reached the shores of Europe. With Australia and UK having already moved in the direction of joining the China-led AIIB. France, Germany and Italy have all agreed to follow Britain’s lead and join a China-led international development bank, according to European officials, delivering a blow to US efforts to keep leading western countries out of the new institution. The decision by the three European governments comes after Britain announced last week that it would join the $50bn Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a potential rival to the Washington-based World Bank. The European decisions represent a significant setback for the Obama administration, which has argued that western countries could have more influence over the workings of the new bank if they stayed together on the outside and pushed for higher lending standards. The AIIB, which was formally launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, is one element of a broader Chinese push to create new financial and economic institutions that will increase its international influence. Australia, a key US ally in the Asia-Pacific region which had come under pressure from Washington to stay out of the new bank, has also said that it will now rethink that position. Britain tried to gain “first mover advantage” last week by signing up to the fledgling Chinese-led bank before other G7 members. Britain hopes to establish itself as the number one destination for Chinese investment and UK officials were unrepentant.

Ukraine crisis: Rebel ‘status’ row threatens truce deal

Ukraine crisis: Rebel ‘status’ row threatens truce deal (Source A dispute about the proposed “special status” of rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine is threatening the fragile ceasefire deal agreed last month. Russia has accused Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko of introducing new conditions that were not agreed in Minsk, where the deal was signed. The deal says a special status will be granted to parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, linked to wider autonomy. Ukrainian MPs are discussing the status issue, so far without agreement. The ceasefire took effect on 15 February and has held despite sporadic clashes. Some heavy weapons have been withdrawn from the combat zone. Self-government for the pro-Russian rebel areas was a key part of the Minsk deal. Mr Poroshenko’s new legislative proposals are aimed at furthering that agreement. But a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said the proposals on special status put before Ukrainian MPs included “additional terms never previously discussed”. The ministry said President Poroshenko had “totally ignored” Minsk provisions calling for dialogue with the pro-Russian rebels on arrangements for local elections and the regions’ future status. A statement from a Donetsk rebel leader, Denis Pushilin, also castigated Mr Poroshenko over the “non-agreed amendments”, which he said “breach the spirit and letter of the Minsk accords”. Mr Pushilin said “the Minsk process is in fact interrupted” because Mr Poroshenko “does not respect the Donbas [Donetsk and Luhansk] people, he does not want peace”. Mr Poroshenko’s bill says special status would have to follow local elections held in accordance with Ukrainian law and under international observation.