Total Conviction Buy Signal Is Flashing Now

There’s a new buy alert flashing right now for a what some experts believe is a promising stock that I think you should know about. Especially if this signal produces gains anything like it has before.

For example:

On December 18th, 2009, this remarkable signal flashed right here on the Netflix stock chart…

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What’s happened since then? As you can see on the chart, anyone fortunate enough to have bought Netflix stock on that day is now sitting on a gain exceeding 4,000%… enough to turn $10,000 into nearly half a million dollars.

This is not the only example I’ve found of this. Far from it.

In all, the Total Conviction buy signal has flashed on the 27 stocks I mentioned 205 times since 2009, and investors who were able to follow along have average gains more than 3 times greater than the market’s returns — yet Wall Street completely ignores it!

To be fair, there’s a very good reason Wall Street doesn’t publicize this buy signal. And I don’t blame them for not doing so.

But all of that doesn’t really matter, because it’s a very easy thing for you to discover what this simple signal is, and to see (and buy!) the stock that triggered it.

I’ve prepared a special report that explains more about this remarkable buy signal… and shows several more stocks that have triggered it.

We’re offering this report today simply to get it in front of as many people as possible while the buying opportunity lasts, but we don’t know how long that will be.

Even though timing isn’t everything, and past performance is no indicator of future results, history has shown that it has paid for some investors to move early on stocks like this one — especially when you consider the average of stocks that have triggered this “buy signal” are up 356.1%.

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Do you believe there are extraterrestrials?

I believe there are. I believe there are countless civilizations out there. I believe we are not alone!

Are people who claim they’ve been abducted by aliens making it all up, or did they really experience something out of this world?

Do we have a star-faring civilization to thank for crop circles, or just stealthy terrestrial pranksters?

If you find yourself asking questions like these, an upcoming conference of like-minded people in the D.C. area could be right up your alley.

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“Mysteries of Space & Sky” is one of the longest-running UFO conferences in the region, and this year’s event will feature a presentation by one of the world’s most famous alleged alien abductees, Travis Walton.

In 1975, Walton claimed he was abducted by a saucer-shaped hovering object during his time as a forestry worker in Arizona. He recounted his experience in his novel, “The Walton Experience,” which would serve as the inspiration behind the 1993 movie “Fire in the Sky.”

Researcher and filmmaker Jennifer Stein will also discuss the “enigma” of crop circles, and Chase Kloetzke, Director of Investigations for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), will speak about a strange experience she had during an investigation in Tennessee.

In mid-1947, a United States Army Air Forces balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico.[1] Following wide initial interest in the crashed “flying disc”, the US military stated that it was merely a conventional weather balloon.[2] Interest subsequently waned until the late 1970s, when ufologists began promoting a variety of increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories, claiming that one or more alien spacecraft had crash-landed and that the extraterrestrial occupants had been recovered by the military, which then engaged in a cover-up.

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In the 1990s, the US military published two reports disclosing the true nature of the crashed object: a nuclear test surveillance balloon from Project Mogul. Nevertheless, the Roswell incident continues to be of interest in popular media, and conspiracy theories surrounding the event persist. Roswell has been described as “the world’s most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim”

The sequence of events was triggered by the crash of a Project Mogul balloon near Roswell.[1]

On June 14, 1947, William Brazel, a foreman working on the Foster homestead, noticed clusters of debris approximately 30 miles (50 km) north of Roswell, New Mexico. This date—or “about three weeks” before July 8—appeared in later stories featuring Brazel, but the initial press release from the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) said the find was “sometime last week”, suggesting Brazel found the debris in early July.[4] Brazel told the Roswell Daily Record that he and his son saw a “large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.”[5] He paid little attention to it but returned on July 4 with his son, wife and daughter to gather up the material.[6] Some accounts have described Brazel as having gathered some of the material earlier, rolling it together and stashing it under some brush.[7] The next day, Brazel heard reports about “flying discs” and wondered if that was what he had picked up.[6] On July 7, Brazel saw Sheriff Wilcox and “whispered kinda confidential like” that he may have found a flying disc.[6] Another account quotes Wilcox as saying Brazel reported the object on July 6.[4]

Wilcox called RAAF Major Jesse Marcel and a “man in plainclothes” accompanied Brazel back to the ranch where more pieces were picked up. “[We] spent a couple of hours Monday afternoon [July 7] looking for any more parts of the weather device”, said Marcel. “We found a few more patches of tinfoil and rubber.”

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On July 8, 1947, Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut issued a press release stating that personnel from the field’s 509th Operations Group had recovered a “flying disc”, which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell. As described in the July 9, 1947 edition of the Roswell Daily Record,

The balloon which held it up, if that was how it worked, must have been 12 feet [3.5 m] long, [Brazel] felt, measuring the distance by the size of the room in which he sat. The rubber was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards [180 m] in diameter. When the debris was gathered up, the tinfoil, paper, tape, and sticks made a bundle about three feet [1 m] long and 7 or 8 inches [18 or 20 cm] thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches [45 or 50 cm] long and about 8 inches [20 cm] thick. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds [2 kg]. There was no sign of any metal in the area which might have been used for an engine, and no sign of any propellers of any kind, although at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil. There were no words to be found anywhere on the instrument, although there were letters on some of the parts. Considerable Scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction. No strings or wires were to be found but there were some eyelets in the paper to indicate that some sort of attachment may have been used.[9]

telex sent to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office from the Fort Worth, Texas office quoted a Major from the Eighth Air Force (also based in Fort Worth at Carswell Air Force Base) on July 8, 1947 as saying that “The disc is hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a ballon [sic] by cable, which ballon [sic] was approximately twenty feet (6 m) in diameter. Major Curtan further advices advises [sic] that the object found resembles a high altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector, but that telephonic conversation between their office and Wright field had not [UNINTELLIGIBLE] borne out this belief.”[10]

Early on Tuesday, July 8, the RAAF issued a press release, which was immediately picked up by numerous news outlets:[11]

The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.[12]

Colonel William H. Blanchard, commanding officer of the 509th, contacted General Roger M. Ramey of the Eighth Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas, and Ramey ordered the object be flown to Fort Worth Army Air Field. At the base, Warrant Officer Irving Newton confirmed Ramey’s preliminary opinion, identifying the object as being a weather balloon and its “kite”,[7] a nickname for a radar reflector used to track the balloons from the ground. Another news release was issued, this time from the Fort Worth base, describing the object as being a “weather balloon”.

The military decided to conceal the true purpose of the crashed device – nuclear test monitoring – and instead inform the public that the crash was of a weather balloon.[2] Later that day, the press reported that Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force Roger Ramey had stated that a weather balloon was recovered by the RAAF personnel. A press conference was held, featuring debris (foil, rubber and wood) said to be from the crashed object, which matched the weather balloon description. Historian Robert Goldberg wrote that the intended effect was achieved: “the story died the next day”.[13]

Subsequently, the incident faded from the attention of UFO enthusiasts for more than 30 years.[14]

Growing interest, 1978–1994

Between 1978 and the early 1990s, UFO researchers such as Stanton T. FriedmanWilliam MooreKarl T. Pflock, and the team of Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt interviewed several hundred people who claimed to have had a connection with the events at Roswell in 1947.[15] Hundreds of documents were obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests, along with other documents such as Majestic 12 that were supposedly leaked by insiders. Their conclusions were at least one alien spacecraft crashed near Roswell, alien bodies had been recovered, and a government cover-up of the incident had taken place.[3]

Over the years, books, articles, and television specials brought the 1947 incident significant notoriety.[3] By the mid-1990s, public polls such as a 1997 CNN/Time poll, revealed that the majority of people interviewed believed that aliens had indeed visited Earth, and that aliens had landed at Roswell, but that all the relevant information was being kept secret by the US government.

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According to anthropologists Susan Harding and Kathleen Stewart, the Roswell Story was the prime example of how a discourse moved from the fringes to the mainstream according to the prevailing zeitgeist: public preoccupation in the 1980s with “conspiracy, cover-up and repression” aligned well with the Roswell narratives as told in the “sensational books” which were being published.[17]

Friedman’s initial work

In 1978, nuclear physicist and author Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Jesse Marcel, the only person known to have accompanied the Roswell debris from where it was recovered to Fort Worth where reporters saw material which was claimed to be part of the recovered object. The accounts given by Friedman and others in the following years elevated Roswell from a forgotten incident to perhaps the most famous UFO case of all time.[3]

Books

The Roswell Incident (1980)

The first conspiracy book about Roswell was The Roswell Incident (1980) by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, authors who had previously written popular books on the Philadelphia Experiment and on the Bermuda Triangle.[2]

Historian Kathy Olmsted writes that the material in this book has come to be known as “version 1” of the Roswell myth. Berlitz and Moore’s narrative holds that an alien craft was flying over the New Mexico desert observing US nuclear weapons activity, but crashed after being hit by lightning, killing the aliens on board; a government cover-up duly followed.

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The authors claimed to have interviewed over ninety witnesses. Though he was uncredited, Friedman carried out some research for the book.[18] The Roswell Incidentfeatured accounts of debris described by Marcel as “nothing made on this earth.”[19] Additional accounts by Bill Brazel,[20] son of Mac Brazel, neighbor Floyd Proctor[21]and Walt Whitman Jr.,[22] son of newsman W. E. Whitman who had interviewed Mac Brazel, suggested the material Marcel recovered had super-strength not associated with a weather balloon. The book introduced the contention that debris which was recovered by Marcel at the Foster ranch, visible in photographs showing Marcel posing with the debris, was substituted for debris from a weather device as part of a cover-up.[23][24] The book also claimed that the debris recovered from the ranch was not permitted a close inspection by the press. The efforts by the military were described as being intended to discredit and “counteract the growing hysteria towards flying saucers”.[25] Two accounts[26] of witness intimidation were included in the book, including the incarceration of Mac Brazel.[27] The book also introduced the secondhand stories of civil engineer Barney Barnett and a group of archeology students from an unidentified university seeing alien wreckage and bodies while in the desert.[28]

Berlitz and Moore’s narrative was dominant until the late 1980s when other authors, attracted by the commercial potential of writing about Roswell, started producing rival accounts.[29]

UFO Crash at Roswell (1991)

In 1991, Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt published UFO Crash at Roswell. They added 100 new witnesses, altered and tightened the narrative, and included several “sinister” new twists.[29]

Some new details were included, including accounts of a “gouge […] that extended four or five hundred feet [120 or 150 m]” at the ranch[30] and descriptions of an elaborate cordon and recovery operation. Several witnesses in The Roswell Incident described being turned back from the Foster ranch by armed military police, but extensive descriptions were not given.[citation needed] The Barnett accounts were mentioned, though the dates and locations were changed from the accounts found in The Roswell Incident. In the new account, Brazel was described as leading the Army to a second crash site on the ranch, at which point the Army personnel were supposedly “horrified to find civilians [including Barnett] there already.”[31]

Glenn Dennis was produced as a supposedly important witness in 1989, after calling the hotline when an episode of Unsolved Mysteries featured the Roswell incident. His descriptions of Roswell alien autopsies were the first account that said there were alien corpses at the Roswell Army Air Base.[3]

Randle and Schmitt’s book sold 160,000 copies.[32]

Crash at Corona (1992)

In 1992, Stanton Friedman re-entered the scene with his own book Crash at Corona, co-authored with Don Berliner – an author of books on space and aviation.[32]Goldberg writes that Friedman too introduced new “witnesses”, and that he added to the narrative by doubling the number of flying saucers to two, and the number of aliens to eight – two of which were said to have survived and been taken into custody by the government.[32]

The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell (1994)

Randle and Schmitt responded with another book, updating their previous narrative with several new details, including the claim that alien bodies were taken by cargo plane to be viewed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was curious about their appearance.[32]

The Day After Roswell (1997)

Former Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso reported in his autobiographical book that the Roswell Crash did happen and that when he was assigned to Fort Riley (Kansas) in July 1947, 5 trucks of 25 tons and some semi trailers entered the base from Fort Bliss Texas. He claimed while he was patrolling the base he was brought into the medical facilities by Sgt. Brown and shown the remnants of bodies that were from an “air crash”. Philip Klass analyzed his claims line by line and exposed many inconsistencies and factual errors.[33]

Competing accounts

The existence of so many differing accounts by 1994 led to a schism among ufologists about the events at Roswell.[34] The Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), two leading UFO societies, disagreed in their views of the various scenarios presented by Randle–Schmitt and Friedman–Berliner; several conferences were held to try to resolve the differences. One issue under discussion was where Barnett was when he saw the alien craft he was said to have encountered. A 1992 UFO conference had attempted to achieve a consensus among the various scenarios portrayed in Crash at Corona and UFO Crash at Roswell, however, the publication of The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell had “resolved” the Barnett problem by simply ignoring Barnett and citing a new location for the alien craft recovery, including a new group of archaeologists not connected to the ones the Barnett story cited.[34]

Don Schmitt held that variations in narratives between different writers was not however an essential problem, commenting by way of comparison “We know Jesus Christ was crucified, we just don’t know where.”[35]

Problems with witness accounts

Hundreds of people were interviewed by the various researchers, but critics point out that only a few of these people claimed to have seen debris or aliens. Most witnesses were repeating the claims of others, and their testimony would be considered hearsay in an American court of law and therefore inadmissible as evidence. Of the 90 people claimed to have been interviewed for The Roswell Incident, the testimony of only 25 appears in the book, and only seven of these people saw the debris. Of these, five handled the debris.[36] Pflock, in Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (2001), makes a similar point about Randle and Schmitt’s UFO Crash at Roswell. Approximately 271 people are listed in the book who were “contacted and interviewed” for the book, and this number does not include those who chose to remain anonymous, meaning more than 300 witnesses were interviewed, a figure Pflock said the authors frequently cited.[37] Of these 300-plus individuals, only 41 can be “considered genuine first- or second-hand witnesses to the events in and around Roswell or at the Fort Worth Army Air Field,” and only 23 can be “reasonably thought to have seen physical evidence, debris recovered from the Foster Ranch.” Of these, only seven have asserted anything suggestive of otherworldly origins for the debris.[37]

As for the accounts from those who claimed to have seen aliens, critics identified problems ranging from the reliability of second-hand accounts, to credibility problems with witnesses making demonstrably false claims, or multiple, contradictory accounts, to dubious death-bed confessions or accounts from elderly and easily confused witnesses.[38][39][40] Pflock noted that only four people with supposed firsthand knowledge of alien bodies were interviewed and identified by Roswell authors: Frank Kaufmann; Jim Ragsdale; Lt. Col. Albert Lovejoy Duran; Gerald Anderson.[41] Duran is mentioned in a brief footnote in The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell and never again, while the other three all have serious credibility problems. A problem with all the accounts, charge critics, is they all came about a minimum of 31 years after the events in question, and in many cases were recounted more than 40 years after the fact. Not only are memories this old of dubious reliability, they were also subject to contamination from other accounts the interviewees may have been exposed to.[3] The shifting claims of Jesse Marcel, whose suspicion that what he recovered in 1947 was “not of this world” sparked interest in the incident in the first place, cast serious doubt on the reliability of what he claimed to be true.

In The Roswell Incident, Marcel stated, “Actually, this material may have looked like tinfoil and balsa wood, but the resemblance ended there […] They took one picture of me on the floor holding up some of the less-interesting metallic debris […] The stuff in that one photo was pieces of the actual stuff we found. It was not a staged photo.”[42] Timothy Printy points out that the material Marcel positively identified as being part of what he recovered is material that skeptics and UFO advocates agree is debris from a balloon device.[10] After that fact was pointed out to him, Marcel changed his story to say that that material was not what he recovered.[10] Skeptics like Robert Todd argued that Marcel had a history of embellishment and exaggeration, such as claiming to have been a pilot and having received five Air Medals for shooting down enemy planes, claims that were all found to be false, and skeptics feel that his evolving Roswell story was simply another instance of this tendency to fabricate.[43]

Air Force reports, 1994–1997

In response to these reports, and after United States congressional inquiries, the General Accounting Office launched an inquiry and directed the Office of the United States Secretary of the Air Force to conduct an internal investigation. The result was summarized in two reports. The first, released in 1994, concluded that the material recovered in 1947 was likely debris from Project Mogul, a military surveillance program employing high-altitude balloons (and classified portion of an unclassified New York University project by atmospheric researchers[44]). The second report, released in 1997, concluded that reports of recovered alien bodies were likely a combination of innocently transformed memories of accidents involving military casualties with memories of the recovery of anthropomorphic dummies in military programs such as the 1950s Operation High Dive, mixed with hoaxes perpetrated by various witnesses and UFO proponents. The psychological effects of time compression and confusion about when events occurred explained the discrepancy with the years in question.[45][46]

The Air Force reports were dismissed by UFO proponents as being either disinformation or simply implausible, though skeptical researchers such as Philip J. Klass[47]and Robert Todd, who had been expressing doubts regarding accounts of aliens for several years, used the reports as the basis for skeptical responses to claims by UFO proponents. After the release of the Air Force reports, several books, such as Kal Korff’s The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don’t Want You To Know (1997), built on the evidence presented in the reports to conclude “there is no credible evidence that the remains of an extraterrestrial spacecraft was involved.”[15] In the 1990s, skeptics and even some social anthropologists[48] saw the increasingly elaborate accounts of alien crash landings and government cover ups as evidence of a myth being constructed.

Recent interest

Evidence

Although there is no evidence that a UFO crashed at Roswell, believers firmly hold to the belief that one did, and that the truth has been concealed as a result of a government conspiracy.[49] B. D. Gildenberg has called the Roswell incident “the world’s most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim”.[3]

Pflock said, “[T]he case for Roswell is a classic example of the triumph of quantity over quality. The advocates of the crashed-saucer tale […] simply shovel everything that seems to support their view into the box marked ‘Evidence’ and say, ‘See? Look at all this stuff. We must be right.’ Never mind the contradictions. Never mind the lack of independent supporting fact. Never mind the blatant absurdities.”[50] Korff suggests there are clear incentives for some people to promote the idea of aliens at Roswell, and that many researchers were not doing competent work: “[The] UFO field is comprised of people who are willing to take advantage of the gullibility of others, especially the paying public. Let’s not pull any punches here: The Roswell UFO myth has been very good business for UFO groups, publishers, for Hollywood, the town of Roswell, the media, and UFOlogy […] [The] number of researchers who employ science and its disciplined methodology is appallingly small.”[51]

B. D. Gildenberg wrote there were as many as 11 reported alien recovery sites[3] and these recoveries bore only a marginal resemblance to the event as initially reported in 1947, or as recounted later by the initial witnesses. Some of these new accounts could have been confused accounts of the several known recoveries of injured and dead servicemen from four military plane crashes that occurred in the area from 1948 to 1950.[52] Other accounts could have been based on memories of recoveries of test dummies, as suggested by the Air Force in their reports. Charles Ziegler argued that the Roswell story has all the hallmarks of a traditional folk narrative. He identified six distinct narratives, and a process of transmission via storytellers with a core story that was created from various witness accounts, and was then shaped and molded by those who carry on the UFO community’s tradition. Other “witnesses” were then sought out to expand the core narrative, with those who give accounts not in line with the core beliefs being repudiated or simply omitted by the “gatekeepers.”[53][54] Others then retold the narrative in its new form. This whole process would repeat over time.

In September 2017, UK newspaper The Guardian reported on Kodachrome slides which some had claimed showed a dead space alien.[55] First presented at a BeWitness event in Mexico, organised by Jaime Maussan and attended by almost 7,000 people, days afterwards it was revealed that the slides were in fact of a mummified Native American child discovered in 1896 and which had been on display at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum in Mesa Verde, Colorado for many decades.[55]

Roswellian Syndrome

Prominent skeptics Joe Nickell and co-author James McGaha identified a myth-making process, which they called the “Roswellian Syndrome”.[56] In this syndrome a myth is proposed to have five distinct stages of development: IncidentDebunkingSubmergenceMythologizing, and Reemergence and Media Bandwagon Effect. The authors predicted that the Roswellian Syndrome would “play out again and again”,[56] in other UFO and conspiracy-theory stories.

May Could Offer Northern Ireland To Sinn Fein And Dublin

Ooops there goes my  career !!

 

One of the unexpected effects of Brexit has been the big reveal that government ministers have very little understanding of, or interest in, Northern Ireland politics. The 2017 election gave the DUP the casting vote in Brexit negotiations, and they show every sign of sticking to their red lines to the very end, yet government ministers remain mystified by the DUP’s unwillingness to step back from their red lines.

Most reports of the negotiations regard the DUP’s intransigence as somewhat overdone for what is basically a trade issue – and one that, truth be told, would be likely to work out to the benefit of the Northern Ireland economy. Conservative MPs are now asking what they’re getting for their £1billion handout, while others are briefing that the DUP could be dropped in favour of a reliance on votes from other parties. In return the DUP are threatening to depose Theresa May and install a Conservative leader more to their liking.

Every impact report shows that leaving the single market would cost jobs and harm industry and business. Given that the backstop would in effect keep Northern Ireland in the single market you might think that the DUP would be glad to have the boost to their region’s economy. If he could get away with it, it’s not impossible to imagine Sadiq Khan arguing that the Channel Tunnel should keep London in the single market due to the effective border with France, but that might be a stretch.

What seems to escape everyone’s attention is that this isn’t just about trade arrangements. It’s also about governance, sovereignty and identity. As a result the Tories have no chance of persuading the DUP to change their stance.

The DUP know that, given how long it takes to put together a trade deal, even under exceptional circumstances (and on past evidence the negotiating ability of the UK government with the EU is not that), the implementation of the backstop is inevitable.

Once in force, Northern Ireland would in effect remain within the single market, subject to rules set by Brussels, in which the Republic of Ireland would have a say while London would not. Sinn Fein will continue to be a political force in the Republic – meaning that they and the Republic would have more influence over the single market, and hence the Northern Ireland economy, than London or Stormont.

With no legal status in the EU, Stormont would have little to no influence over the rules governing the economy that would dictate its trade and economic rules. British and Northern Ireland diplomats in Brussels would have to influence decisions from the outside with zero decision making power, competing with thousands of other lobbyists. This may feel like quite a come down from having a seat at the table and a veto over any changes in regulation or policy.

This would doubtless have a positive impact on the Northern Ireland economy since it would still have access to, and practically be part of, the single market, but the likelihood of the DUP agreeing not only to cast Northern Ireland adrift from the UK in terms of regulation, but also to hand the power to set those regulations not only to Brussels, but also to Dublin (influenced by Sinn Fein), is near zero.

In practical terms lots of good would result – the border would remain open, meaning that trade and, just as importantly, people’s daily lives could continue as they are now, safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement and breathing new life into the peace process.

For the DUP however the measure is not a viable economy and an open border. These are people whose whole career has been about keeping close to London and away from Dublin, maintaining the union with the wider UK and opposing any agreement, political or economic, which would disrupt this link or create closer ties with Dublin. It is not far fetched to see the backstop as a significant step towards a united Ireland, all the more given that most Conservative voters (and doubtless many Conservative MPs) would prioritise Brexit over the union. The unionist part of the Conservatives name perhaps should be quietly dropped.

As a result May remains caught between the DUP and the Tory Brexiters, whose dream is the fantasy of bespoke trade deals. Some are already planning for a bonfire of regulations and a fire sale of the NHS. Such deals, if possible at all, would take years to negotiate and almost certainly be agreed on worse terms than the deals we have as members of the EU, given our vastly reduced negotiating power.

From their perspective, therefore, the DUP’s stance makes perfect sense. They have absolute power as a party at the very moment that the future of Northern Ireland, both in economic and political terms, is being decided. To expect them to throw in the towel and to give any future say over Northern Ireland away, possibly forever, just because it makes life hard for Theresa May or the Tory Brexiters is to misunderstand the DUP, and to misunderstand Northern Ireland.

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Tory MPs Block Public From Seeing Universal Credit report

Tory MPs have blocked an attempt to obtain a government analysis of the impact of Universal Credit on people’s incomes.

MPs voted 299 to 279 against an attempt by Labour that to secure the release of the assessment drawn up by officials – a majority of 20.

The move followed reports that Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey warned the Cabinet some claimants could be £200 a month worse off under the new benefit system.

Last week she admitted during an interview that “some people will be worse-off” on UC than under the previous system.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood told the Commons today UC had been “beset with flaws in its design and delivery” and was “causing immense hardship”.

She said that 3.2 million families with children could lose around £50 a week, adding: “People are worried, but there’s no clarity from Government.”

But McVey insisted the government had taken a “mature approach” to the rollout of the system.

McVey insisted the rollout of Universal Credit would continue, but said she would ensure the Government “get it right”.

“We will make sure we get this benefit right. You know for why? Because the genuine concerns of the people on our backbenches want to get it right,” she told MPs.

It came as the government revealed it is facing a benefits bill of more than £1.5bn after underpaying tens of thousands of disabled claimants.

An estimated 180,000 people are due arrears payments totalling £970m after under-receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) papers have shown.

And the cost of paying them extra after their claims have been corrected is estimated to add another £700 million over the next seven years, taking the total additional bill to £1.67 billion, an internal analysis released on Wednesday shows.

Worker on zero-hour contract doing zero hours delighted he’s not in unemployed figures

As the latest government figures showed a drop in unemployment to the lowest level in twelve years, zero-hour workers have sought clarification that they’re definitely not unemployed.

Despite not doing any work, or being paid any wages, zero-hour contract workers have been told once again that they are a valuable part of the UK’s workforce.

Zero-hour contract worker Simon Williams welcomed the reassurances, telling us, “I have a job, and that’s why I’m not in the new unemployment figures – I’m contributing to making them the best ever.

“I mean, it’s a job that didn’t pay me anything last week, because I’m not guaranteed any actual work – but that’s better than nothing, right?

“Well, I suppose that technically speaking, nothing is not better than nothing, it’s the sameas nothing – but you get the point.”

Government statisticians have insisted there is a big difference between people not working and not getting paid, and people with a piece of paper to say their job gave them no work and they’re not getting paid.

As one senior Whitehall official explained,”People claiming job seekers allowance would love the opportunity to work zero hours for zero pay – as it removes the stigma of unemployment.

“Getting back into the workforce routine of not doing anything and not picking up any wages is an important part of reintegrating the previously unemployed.

“I look forward to the day when we have another one and a half million workers not doing any work and not getting paid – our unemployment figures will look amazing.”

Armageddon Postponed

Syria’s Idlib Province Gets New Lease on Life

The looming military offensive on the Idlib province in Syria has been called off for now. People there are yearning to return to normal life and rapidly planning for the future. But how long with the peace last?

Syria
Pro-Turkey Syrian fighters and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured the strategic hill in northwestern Syria after intense fighting on Sunday as their offensive to root out Kurdish fighters enters its second week, Turkey’s military and Syrian war monitor reported. (AP Photo)

Two weeks before the sudden cease-fire, Abdul Aziz Ajini’s neighbors thought he had gone crazy. While others in the village of Kurin, located in Idlib province, trembled with fear ahead of the major offensive on the immediate horizon, Ajini, a former professor of English literature at a local college, began to rebuild his home, which had been bombed to rubble years ago.

As the people of Idlib were trying to sell their homes, property and furniture to raise money for their escape — even though no one was buying, and nobody even knew where they could flee to — Ajini was busy collecting cement and bricks and hiring an engineer. Even the engineer pulled him aside and asked: “Tell me, Aziz, are you really sure this is a good idea — now, of all times?”

He himself hadn’t even bought any new clothes for months. People were ready to flee at a moment’s notice, taking only what they could carry — whatever fit on a motorcycle or in a car. An entire province of nearly 3 million people was waiting with bated breath, listening for the sounds of approaching fighter jets, those harbingers of death.

Then on Sept. 17, something happened that no one had been expecting: Turkey and Russia reached an agreement and the offensive was called off. There would be no new attacks. The news came 10 days after a summit in Tehran failed to produce any results. Now, weeks after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s announcement that “this festering abscess must be liquidated,” there has been a sudden turnaround. At least for the time being.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu presented the parameters of the deal at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday of last week. The agreement calls for the establishment, by October 15, of a 15 to 20 kilometer-wide demilitarized corridor along the existing front line surrounding Idlib and the northern edge of Hama province. Any jihadi groups among the rebels would have to withdraw from that area five days prior to that date. A majority of rebels under Turkish control would be allowed to stay, but they would have to move tanks and artillery into central Idlib. The zone would be under the surveillance of the Turkish military and the Russian military police, who have long maintained bases here.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was opposed the offensive for a variety of reasons, some understandable, some more sinister. Storming Idlib would have driven hundreds of thousands toward the airtight Turkish-Syrian border and would have forced Ankara to take them in even as the government struggles to deal with the country’s tanking economy — in addition to the 3 million Syrian refugees who are already in Turkey.

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Geographical Buffer

Erdogan has always linked his support for Syria’s rebels with his campaign against Kurdish PKK separatists operating on Turkish and Syrian soil. Having Idlib under his control would be useful, providing him both with a human reservoir and a geographical buffer. A destroyed Idlib under Assad’s control, on the other hand, would endanger the protectorate that Turkish troops have fought so hard to establish in northern Syria in recent years.

Erdogan took significant risks to get Moscow on his side. Attacks by Assad’s troops against targets in southern Idlib had been answered with counterattacks by rebels armed with Turkish weapons and ammunition. Erdogan had also threatened to walk away from multilateral talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran on the future of Syria that were taking place in the Kazakh capital, Astana, should the offensive against Idlib go ahead.

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Still, hardly anyone in Idlib believed that the horror could still be avoided. Except for Ajini, the chain-smoking ex-professor from Kurin. And since the evening of Sept. 17, his neighbors no longer consider him crazy. Whereas they used to drop by to look at his bags of cement in wonder and disbelief, Ajini says, now they come by to ask where they can buy some too.

The province of Idlib, widely known in Europe as one of the last remaining jihadist strongholds, is more than twice as large as the German state of Saarland. Its soil is fertile and was densely populated even before the war. The sense of relief that has overcome the entire province has nothing to do with ideology, but with the will to live. Suddenly, people are spending their money again. Farmers are buying fertilizer and seed. Merchants are getting back in touch with their old suppliers in Turkey and northern Iraq. And refugees are starting to return to their villages in southern Idlib.

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For years, the farmer Adnan al-Sawadi was unable to harvest the crop produced by his 2,000 pistachio trees in Murik, located near the front lines – and prices were low as well. “But now, since Tuesday morning, customers are getting in touch again and saying they want to buy everything in advance.” In the city of Khan Shaykhun, the tire salesman Mohammed Mansour had to keep postponing a telephone interview because customers kept coming in. “You should have called on Sunday,” he joked. “I was free the entire day.”

Ahmed Dervish, an engineer and a member of the local city council, recalls the night-long debates in recent months: “Will the regime attack? Will Turkey come to the rescue? Will it betray us? Are we all going to die?” His wife, a trained pharmacist, used to dream of having her own pharmacy. But Dervish was opposed. “We had $5,000, our entire savings. We could take it with us. We couldn’t take a pharmacy.” She heard about the Sochi agreement before her husband did and immediately called him: “Ahmed! They’re not going to attack! ”

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Europe’s top court orders Poland to suspend a law forcing Supreme Court judges into early retirement

The ruling by the European Court of Justice offers a reprieve to judges who were being forced off the bench under a new Polish law that lowers the retirement age to 65.

The government’s critics say the law represents an attempt to pack the court with sympathetic judges and subvert judicial independence. Poland has suggested it will resist any attempt by European Union authorities to intervene in what it regards as a purely domestic decision, setting up a potential clash.

 Europe’s top court ordered Poland’s government on Friday to immediately halt implementation of a controversial law designed to force more than a dozen of the nation’s Supreme Court justices into early retirement.

The surprise decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) sets up a potential clash between European authorities and the right-wing Polish government, which has been accused of subverting the rule of law with a bid to pack Supreme Court with sympathetic judges.

The Polish government had no immediate reaction to the ruling. But Polish officials have earlier suggested they might defy the ECJ’s will if the court sought to intervene in what the government sees as a purely domestic matter.

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The decision was the latest twist in a drama that has gripped Poland — and troubled Europe — for more than a year. It is likely to escalate debate over whether the country, and its ally Hungary, are fundamentally out of step with European values.

Critics of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party regard implementation of the retirement law as the last major step in a calculated plan by the government to commandeer the nation’s judicial system. Other elements of the system — including the Constitutional Tribunal and the National Council of the Judiciary — have already fallen under the ruling party’s sway.

Under the law, which went into force in July, 28 Supreme Court justices — including the chief justice — were forced from the bench because they had hit the new mandatory retirement age of 65. Five had since been reinstated by Poland’s president.

Friday’s decision is a temporary one, with the ECJ yet to rule on whether Poland’s change to the retirement age violates European law.

But the ruling requires Poland’s government to freeze a process that had been moving quickly ahead, as authorities rushed in recent weeks to appoint new judges after little apparent vetting. Failure to abide by the ruling and halt the process could subject Poland to hefty fines.

In announcing the decision, the ECJ warned of possible “serious and irreparable damage” if the retirement-age law was implemented without a full legal review by the court.

In addition to pushing for the retirements, Poland is expanding its Supreme Court from 93 judges to 120. Combined, the two moves amount to “a profound and immediate change in the composition of the Supreme Court,” the ECJ said in its announcement.

The ruling came in response to a petition by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm and a top critic of Polish government moves that it regards as a betrayal of democratic values. The commission last December triggered what are known as Article 7 proceedings against Poland, a process that could end with the loss of the country’s voting rights in meetings of European leaders.

The ruling was welcomed by Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal faction in the European Parliament, who called it “an important step.”

“The Polish Government crossed a red line by attempting to politicize Poland’s Supreme Court,” Verhofstadt said in a statement. “I am confident that the Polish government will abide by this order and allow judges forced into retirement to resume their work. We can only preserve the integrity of E.U. legal order if all member states fully abide by ECJ decisions and rulings.”

Quentin Aries in Brussels and Magdalena Foremska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

WASHINGTON POST

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