Business confidence in UK hits lowest ebb since financial crisis

Normally robust services sector leads the rout, according to BDO optimism index

Business confidence has crashed to the lowest point since 2012, and the economy is only growing because firms are stockpiling ahead of Brexit, according to a key sentiment indicator.

The BDO optimism index, which charts how businesses expect output to develop in the next three to six months, fell faster in March that at any time since the bleakest days in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.

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Atlantic City: ‘Trump turned this place into a ghost town’

When Trump won the election, photographer Brian Rose made straight for the gambling town – to show the reality behind his billionaire boasts. The broken city he captured speaks volumes about today’s America

When Donald Trump opened the towering Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City in March 1990, he declared it “the eighth wonder of the world” and joined in the celebrations at a launch ceremony filled with portly actors dressed as genies brandishing tacky golden lamps. Even though it was purchased with almost $700m worth of junk bonds – which meant the Taj had to come up with $94m a year just to pay off its debts, and $1m a day to be profitable – Trump insisted the casino would make Atlantic City great again, returning the area to its prohibition-era glory days.

When photographer Brian Rose arrived in the city in 2016, the bankrupt Taj was practically empty. His images of the building’s exterior look eerily quiet, as if all its workers had left in a sudden hurry, with what was once a thriving casino now unkempt and surrounded by damaged sand dunes. He photographed a family of stray cats nesting in a spot where gamblers might once have collapsed in a drunken stupor.

The fact that Atlantic City is freezing cold for at least two thirds of the year doesn’t help

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Secret Document Reveals Plans For Civil War In Lebanon, Israeli False Flags, & Invasion

Authored by Randi Nord via GeopoliticsAlert.com,

During his visit with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Lebanese President Michael Aoun reportedly received a US-Israeli document detailing plans for creating a civil war in Lebanon with covert false flag operations and possible Israeli invasion.

Although the source of the document is Israeli and created in partnership with Washington, no one knows who presented it to Aoun. The Lebanese TV station, Al-Jadeed, initially reported the document on Lebanese TV and a video on its website. Geopolitics Alert translated the report for this article.

Israel and the United States Foment Civil War in Lebanon

The document details American plans to splinter the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, a domestic institution separate from the Lebanese Army. The plans involve Washington investing 200 million dollars into the Internal Security Forces (ISF) under the guise of keeping the peace but with the covert goal of creating sectarian conflict against Hezbollah with 2.5 million specifically dedicated to this purpose.

The document states the ultimate goal is to destabilize the country by creating a civil war in Lebanon which will “help Israel on the international scene.” The United States and Israel plan to accomplish this by supporting “democratic forces,” sounding remarkably similar to the same strategy used in Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and elsewhere.

According to the document, although “full load of our firepower will be unleashed,” they somehow do not anticipate any casualties.

They do, however, expect the civil war to “trigger requests” for intervention from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) which Israel must only agree to after extreme reluctance.

The document says Israel will also play an important role by creating “covert false flag operations” as the conflict progresses. Perhaps these operations would include chemical attacks similar to the chemical attacks on civilians in Syria or even direct attacks on Lebanese or Israeli civilians to blame on Hezbollah and justify international intervention.

The document admits that the United States and Israel will need an unprecedented amount of credibility to pull this off and also admits that the Lebanese Army may be an obstacle, likely due to the Army’s diverse makeup. As a legitimate political party with members throughout all aspects of Lebanese society, Hezbollah already has members and allies throughout the ISF as well as the Army.

Click images to enlarge. Screenshots from Al-Jadeed. Article continues below…

Mike Pompeo Holds Meeting with Lebanese Officials

During his meeting with Lebanese President, Michael Aoun, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo presented an ultimatum: contain Hezbollah or expect unprecedented consequences.

According to Foreign Policy, Pompeo told Aoun that if he fails to complete the impossible task of removing Hezbollah from government institutions and cracking down on its military activities, Lebanon should expect an end to US aid and even potential sanctions.

“It will take courage for the nation of Lebanon to stand up to Hezbollah’s criminality, terror, and threats,” Pompeo said.

At a dinner, Pompeo reportedly warned Lebanese officials that they themselves were potential targets for sanctions such as members of the Free Patriotic Movement, President Aoun’s party with the majority of its support coming from Lebanese Christians.

Potential sanctions will likely first target the Lebanese Health Ministry which is currently managed by an elected member of Hezbollah’s political party. Civilians across Lebanon rely on a functioning Health Ministry for subsidized medications and general medical care so these sanctions would create immense suffering for the entire Lebanese population.

The civil war plan detailed in the document is not likely to succeed according to US plans. The Lebanese Security forces are not a homogeneous group. Members of Hezbollah and their Christian allies hold many positions not only in the ISF but throughout the Lebanese Army and several branches of government. The Lebanese constitution and political system require all sects have adequate representation in government. As such, a potential manufactured civil war would likely focus on re-writing the Lebanese constitution as a top priority.

It is unclear if Pompeo’s staff presented Aoun with this document as a threat prior to their meeting. It is clear, however, that the US and Israel are plotting behind closed doors to create sectarian conflict in Lebanese society and its democratic political process, similar to actions in Syria, Lybia, Yemen, Venezuela, Iran, and so on.