The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 11, 2017: “Ever since the times of the great Malthus, it has been well recognized that since all species must eat to continue living, the existence of food sources is vital to the survival of any species, be it homo sapiens or others.
Food may, in short, be seen as a weapon as effective as a bullet or a bomb in an attack on a perceived enemy.
We therefore now consider the production of food stuffs as a weapon in a war, formal or informal.
I speak now of a growing struggle between the PRC (China) and the United States in which the PRC can clearly be seen as a challenger to the United States both in the military and economic spheres.
For example, the PRC has purchased very large financial holdings of the United States such as official U.S. Treasury bills and then also as holders of billions of American dollars worth of other financial holdings and long term investments.
These acquisitions are not intended for financial gain to the PRC but to be used as an economic and political lever when, and as, needed.
The PRC has also purchased from the U.S. Treasury, billions of dollars worth of gold belonging to foreign entities.
German holdings alone totaled 53 billion dollars and other nation’s deposits greatly increased this amount.
The sale generated capital used to pay down an enormous American national debt, mostly stemming from military development and deployment worldwide.
Also, the PRC has been known to be conducting a form of economic warfare against the United States by the production of counterfeit gold items, such as coinage and, most dangerously, as faked copies of American official U.S. Treasury gold bars. This has the dual purpose of enriching the PRC with badly-needed items such as oil and raw material it cannot, by itself, possess.
It is evident that the United States intelligence organs are entirely aware of these dangerous PRC activities and have been assiduously working both to blunt the economic warfare and then to counter with other methods.
The most important of these latter methods deals with the issue of food.
It is not certainly a secret that China has a number of growing, and potentially fatal, problems with her population and the care and feeding of it.
China’s basic supply of fresh water comes from the glaciers of the Himalayan mountains but these glaciers are not only melting rapidly but renewal of them does not occur due to obvious and growing planetary climate changes. The shrinking of glacial waters also strongly effects the hydroelectric programs of China.
Another of the PRC’s growing problems is the unchecked increase in population; the shrinkage of arable food (i.e. rice) production areas, a domestic and foreign economic “bubble” that is obvious will probably cause a disastrous implosion.
This brief study of the problems of the PRC then moves on to the methodology by which the United States, the PRC’s main global economic rival, can either neutralize or destroy the capacity of the PRC to wage economic warfare and to neutralize her future endeavors.
Let us now consider the basic Achilles Heel of the PRC; food.
The United States is capable of feeding its own people, though with problems of organized production and distribution but the PRC, and most of Asia, is dependent very heavily on a single crop: rice.
Rice is the seed of the monocot plant Oryza sativa. As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in East and South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the West Indies. It is the grain with the second-highest worldwide production, after corn.
Today, the majority of all rice produced comes from China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, and Japan. These Asian farmers account for 92-percent of the world’s total rice production
The peoples of the PRC, we then are fully aware, have rice, both domestic and imported, as a basic food staple. Should this stable become seriously interdicted by, let us say, some kind of a disease that would impact not only on the PRC but other Asian areas as well, growing starvation and the attendant civil dissoloution can well be postulated.
Major rice diseases include Rice ragged stunt, Sheath Blight and tungro. Rice blast, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea, is the most significant disease affecting rice cultivation. There is also an ascomycete fungus, Cochliobolus miyabeanus, that causes brown spot disease in rice.
A most serious threat to rice crops would be Rust disease, xanthomonas compesteris pv.oryzae
Xanthomonas oryzae is a species of proteobacteria. The major host of the bacteria is rice
The species contains two pathovars which are non-European: Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae and Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola.Host resistance gene, Xa21,from Oryza longistaminata is integrated into the genome of Oryza sativa for the board range resistance of rice blight disease caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae
In the America of today, unpleasant tasks, the revelation of which might redound against the government, are generally made the province of the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Intelligence Community, including the National Security Agency, as well as other U.S. Government civil agencies.
These agencies, in turn, look to the civil, business sector for special development and preparation of weaponry, both conventional and bio-weaponry.
One of the main institutions for this development is SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), which has been headquartered in Tysons Corner in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near McLean, since September of 2009.
Their Board of Directors has included many well- known ex-government personnel including Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense in the Nixon administration; William Perry, Secretary of Defense for Bill Clinton; John M. Deutch, President Clinton’s CIA Director; Admiral Bobby Ray Inman who served in various capacities in the NSA and CIA for the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations
Here we can mention, in furtherance of this study, that In January of 1999, a SAIC consultant, one Steven Hatfill and his collaborator, SAIC vice president Joseph Soukup, commissioned William C. Patrick, who was a retired and leading figure in the previous official U.S. bio-weapons program to prepare a report on the possibilities of terrorist anthrax postal mailings in the United States. This also referred to a number of false anthrax mailings in the two years previous. Although this report was later purported to be a CIA contract, it was actually an internal memo. In actual fact, this was a report prepared specifically for the CIA’s bio-weapons division. Mr. Patrick eventually produced a 28-page report in February of 1999. This was considered by the professional community as a clear blueprint for the subsequent 2001 postal anthranx “attack.”
The report suggested the maximum amount of anthrax powder—2.5 grams—that could be put in an envelope without producing a suspicious bulge. This was just a little more than the actual amounts—2 grams each—in the letters sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. But the report also suggested that a terrorist might produce a spore concentration of 50 billion spores per gram. This was only one-twentieth of the actual concentration—1 trillion spores per gram—in the letters sent to the senators
The “anthrax letters” were clearly used by the Bush Administration as part of their plan to put the American people under tighter observation and control.
Here, also, it should be noted that SAIC operates NCI-Frederick, a National “Cancer Institute” research facility located at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, which is located in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s bio-weapons research center.
This entity, we must say, has nothing to do with “cancer research” and everything to do with bio-weapons development. About half of the 3,000 employees of NCI-Frederick are hired through the SAIC-Frederick subsidiary, paid out of a competitive $320-million contract.
The initial development of the bio-warfare organization designed to develop a so-called super “rust” agent for designed for a specific attack on the Asian rice crops came from a Presidential Directive signed on February 10, 2004 by then-President George Bush. The power was given to the American Central Intelligence Agency which then contracted with SAIC.
A special, well-hidden laboratory was established in Vancouver, Canada with the express purpose to hide from possible domestic scrutiny in the United States. The sub-agency was, and is, called NOICOM which is under SAIC International Subsidiaries.
NOICOM is under the nominal direction of one Dr. Binymin I. Zeloc, an Israeli citizen employed by the American Central Intelligence Agency and many of the staff are also CIA members or associates.
There are also direct and specific connections with SAIC development centers in Noida and Bangalore, India. Scicom Technologies Noida was acquired by SAIC in September 2007.
A particularly strong strain of xanthomonas compesteris pv.oryzae has now been developed that has the ability to spread throughout the rice crops of Asia with, as the report says, ‘lightening speed’ and it is estimated that in the course of one year and interacting with the rice growth pattern, to “fully infect” most, if not all, of the Asian rice crop. Also, the developed strain of xanthomonas compesteris pv.oryzae is such that re-infestation of a following crop is almost certain.
But I must also note that rice is now also grown in all parts of India, Northern and Central Pakistan and that with a certainty, this new disease would certainly spread to these areas.
There was, as we remember, the great Bengal famine of 1942 in which over three millions of Indians perished through starvation
The Bengal Famine may be placed in the context of previous famines in Mughal and British India. Deccan Famine of 1630-32 killed 2,000,000. One of the foundations of the CIA program is based on a corresponding famine in northwestern China, eventually causing the Ming dynasty to collapse in 1644.
The official famine inquiry commission reporting on the Bengal Famine of 1943 put its death toll at about 1.5 million Indians. Estimates made by Prof.P.C. Mahalanobis, of the Indian Statistical Institute said, at least 5 million died directly and another 4-5 million died subsequently in famine related diseases.
In 1974, W.R. Aykroyd, who was a member of the Famine inquiry commission and was primarily responsible for the estimation, conceded that the figures were an underestimate.
It has become very evident to me, in reviewing both the laboratory results and some of the control papers connected with the bio-weapons project (called ‘Evening Storm’), that the disease is planned to be introduced by CIA agents working out of India, into Burmese rice fields. Burma has been chosen as the start point because of extensive, on-going PRC infiltration of that country, the extensive borders with the PRC and the flow of trade between the two countries.
However, the project has not taken into account that this disease will certainly spread to other countries, notably India, with terrible consequences but nowhere can this ‘Collateral Damage’ be found in any paper or study.
My experience is that the American CIA and, in fact, other American agencies, have no interest in ‘Collateral Damage’ nor consider the consequences to innocent entities and, in this case, friendly states.”
Table of Contents
- Trump Overrules Tillerson, Nixing Elliott Abrams for Deputy Secretary of State
- Putin says could meet Trump in Slovenia, but choice not Moscow’s alone
- Donald Trump signs executive order giving police more powers
- Trump to sign ‘brand new’ immigration executive order, not appeal to SCOTUS
- Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states
- Germany repatriating gold faster than planned as confidence in euro plunges
- How to avoid falling for lies and fake news
- Why are people so incredibly gullible?
- NASA took on an unprecedented study of Greenland’s melting. Now, the data are coming in
- Germany to ‘speed up deportation’ of failed asylum seekers
- The Browning Version: An Examination of Sources
Trump Overrules Tillerson, Nixing Elliott Abrams for Deputy Secretary of State
February 10, 2017
by Maggie Haberman, Joathan Weisman and Eric Lichtblau
The New York Times
Trump nixes Abrams as deputy secretary of state
Mr. Trump overruled his newly minted secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, and rejected the secretary’s choice for his deputy at the department, two people briefed on the decision said Friday.
The deputy’s job was denied for Elliott Abrams, a conservative who had served under President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush, deals a blow to Mr. Tillerson in his first week on the job. The rejection of Mr. Abrams leaves Mr. Tillerson without a sherpa to help guide the first-time government official around the State Department headquarters.
Mr. Trump had a productive meeting with Mr. Abrams on Tuesday, according to a White House official and a person close to Mr. Abrams. But after it took place, Mr. Trump learned of Mr. Abrams’s pointed criticisms of the president when he was running for president, the administration official said. Among those criticisms was a column headlined “When You Can’t Stand Your Candidate,” which appeared in May 2016 in The Weekly Standard.
Mr. Trump has been increasingly focused on who was with him or against him during his campaign, according to several people who have spoken with him in recent days.
Mr. Tillerson had argued strongly for Mr. Abrams. So had Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas who is closely aligned with friends of Mr. Abrams’, and some members of the pro-Israel lobbying group Aipac, had been reaching out to Democratic senators to impress upon them the importance of Mr. Abrams receiving Senate confirmation.
Aides to Mr. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Putin says could meet Trump in Slovenia, but choice not Moscow’s alone
February 10, 2017
by Olesya Astakhova
MOSCOW-Slovenia would be a good place for a first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin said on Friday, but he said the choice of venue would not be Moscow’s alone.
Putin made the comments after Slovenian President Borut Pahor offered Ljubljana, his country’s capital, as a venue for a meeting between the Russian and U.S. leaders who have not met since Trump’s inauguration last month.
Trump and Putin have both said they would like to try to mend battered U.S.-Russia ties, which fell to their lowest level since the Cold War after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
Putin made it clear that no date for such a meeting had yet been agreed, but said he was keen to try to restore Russian-U.S. relations in full.
“As regards Ljubljana, Slovenia in general, it is of course a brilliant place to have a dialogue of such a sort. But it doesn’t depend only on us, it depends on a whole series of circumstances,” Putin told reporters after meeting Pahor in Moscow.
“If these meetings ever happen, we don’t have anything against Ljubljana,” Putin said.
European Union member state Slovenia was the venue for the first meeting between George W. Bush and Putin in 2001 where the then American leader made what became a famous comment about looking Putin in the eye and getting “a sense of his soul.”
It is also where Melania Trump, the U.S. president’s wife, grew up.
The Kremlin sees Slovenia as an ally in its quest to end Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict. Russia was a big export market for Slovenian food products before the Ukraine crisis, and Slovenia remains keen to be a transit country for Russian gas supplies to southern Europe.
(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
Donald Trump signs executive order giving police more powers
The President has signed three orders to tackle ‘public safety’ moments after he swore in Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
February 10, 2017
by Rachael Revesz
New York-Donald Trump has signed three executive orders to deal with “public safety”, including handing more authority to the police.
At the formal ceremony to appoint Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the President outlined the new mandate that Mr Sessions would have, including tackling crime, drug cartels and terrorism.
He insisted that the US faced the “threat of rising crime” and that “things will get better very soon”.
“I am directing the Department of Justice to reduce crimes and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers,” he said.
“It’s a shame, what has been happening to our great, our truly great, law enforcement officers. That is going to stop today.”
One of the executive orders seeks to “define new federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing federal crimes, in order to prevent violence” against state and federal police.
In 2016, a total of 135 police officers were killed in the US, a five-year high, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Around half of them – 64 officers – were fatally shot while on the job, including 21 who were killed in an ambush-style attack. The number also includes traffic accidents and job-related health issues, for example, heart attacks while working.
No mention was made by Mr Trump of the hundreds of people who die at the hands of law enforcement every year.
There were 968 deaths last year, according to The Washington Post, and more than 130 people so far in 2017, according to a database called killedbypolice.net
His speech comes just one month after the former administration’s DoJ concluded that, in Chicago, residents had suffered a “pattern of excessive force” by police, experienced particularly within communities of colour. Chicago was just one city being investigated under former President Barack Obama’s government as shocking videos emerged that showed people such as Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland and Walter Scott being violently arrested or killed at the hands of police officers.
Civil rights campaigners say the new mandate under Jeff Sessions is unlikely to include continuing the former department’s investigation on these deaths or follow through on policing reform.
The rate of police officers being indicted or convicted is extremely low.
At the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Sessions on Thursday, Mr Trump added that the three new executive orders, including ordering the Department of Homeland Security to “break the back of criminal cartels” and asking the Department of Justice to implement a task force to reduce violent crime, were giving a “clear sign” to criminals.
“Your day is over,” he declared. “A new era of justice begins and it begins right now.”
Mr Sessions, a longtime Senator from Alabama who was once deemed too racist to serve as a federal judge, told reporters that the US “has a crime problem”.
“I wish the rise that we’re seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip,” he said.
“My best judgement, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that puts the health and safety of America at risk,” he added.
Mr Trump’s and Mr Sessions’s claims of permanent, rising crime have consistently been debunked.
Despite a slight rise in crime over the past two years, it has gone down significantly over several decades and is much lower than in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mr Sessions added that he would fight terrorism and implement a “lawful system of immigration”.
“We need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety and pulls down the wages of working Americans,” he said.
Mr Sessions was widely reported to be one of the key architects of the Muslim ban, an executive order signed on 27 January which banned all travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries in the name of fighting terrorism, despite these countries having produced no terrorist who killed a single American on US soil as part of a terrorist attack since 2001. The order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Mr Trump was also criticised for beginning his pitch to black voters just a few weeks before the Presidential election in November.
He told black churchgoers in Ohio that communities of colour have crime-ridden inner cities, no jobs and their schools are “no good”.
“What the hell do you have to lose?” he asked them.
The next four to eight years will reveal the answer.
Trump to sign ‘brand new’ immigration executive order, not appeal to SCOTUS
February 10, 2017
Rather than appeal to the US Supreme Court, the Trump administration is expected to draw up another executive order restricting immigration in the name of national security as early as next week.
During a surprise session with reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump said a “brand new order” could be signed by Monday or Tuesday, Reuters reported Friday.
“We are actively considering changes or other executive orders that will keep our country safe from terrorism,” a White House official reportedly said. The official also left open the option of appealing to a federal district court, without involving the Supreme Court.
According to NBC News, the administration has been working on a new executive order since several days before the Thursday decision by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a federal district judge’s restraining order on the travel ban.
Trump’s executive order banning US entry for refugees and others from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days has been protested nationwide for weeks. It has also enjoyed support in some polls, though often only by a plurality.
Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states
February 10, 2017
by Abigail Hauslohner, Lisa Rein and Sandhya Somashekhar
The Washington Post
U.S. immigration authorities made a series of arrests in at least half a dozen states across the country on Thursday and Friday, sweeping up an unknown number of undocumented immigrants, immigration lawyers and advocates said.
The raids, which appeared to target scores of people, including those without criminal records, mark the first large scale episode of immigration enforcement inside the United States since President Trump’s Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally. Immigration lawyers and advocates said some of the enforcement efforts included traffic stops and checkpoints, though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials disputed those accounts, saying the agency does not use checkpoints while engaging in targeted enforcement operations.
It also appeared to signal a departure from the Obama administration’s position of prioritizing immigration enforcement against criminals. Trump has pledged to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, confirmed that agents this week had raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, the Los Angeles area and two other cities that she declined to identify, as part of “routine” immigration enforcement actions. ICE does not use the term raids.
But immigration activists said Friday that they had documented ICE raids of unusual intensity in the past 48 hours in Vista, Pomona and Compton, Calif.; Austin, Dallas, and Pflugerville, Texas; Alexandria and Annandale, Va.; Charlotte and Burlington, N.C.; Plant City, Fla.; the Hudson Valley region of New York; and Wichita, Kan.
There were also reports of ICE checkpoints, targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin, according to advocates.
The Trump administration is facing a series of legal challenges to the president’s recent executive orders to crack down on undocumented immigrants and cities that appear resistant to his immigration policies. The raids also come on the heels of a Thursday night decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to keep a hold on Trump’s travel and immigration ban of refugees and the citizens of seven majority Muslim countries.
Some activists in Los Angeles and Austin suggested that the raids might be retaliation for those cities’ so-called “sanctuary city” policies.
Federal immigration officials declined Friday to say how many people had been detained in the recent raids. A DHS official confirmed that while immigration agents were targeting criminals, they also were taking into custody non-criminals in the vicinity who were found to be lacking documentation.
“Big cities tend to have a lot of illegal immigrants,” said one immigration official who was not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the operation. “They’re going to a target-rich environment.”
Meanwhile, immigration advocacy and legal aid groups said ICE had declined to give them any information about how many people had been taken into custody.
Advocates from United We Dream, the Center for Community Change and Make the Road said on a Friday conference call with reporters that they believed hundreds to have been detained, including undocumented immigrants who had no prior criminal record. They said some had been deported immediately.
“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” said Walter Barrientos, of Make the Road in New York City.
ICE agents had raided homes, and were “not just detaining individuals they are looking for … but in fact, taking anyone else in the community, or in these homes who does not have immigration status at the moment, or who is not able to prove citizenship,” Barrientos said.
In some cities, activists said that ICE had set up roadside or neighborhood checkpoints, where ICE agents, often in unmarked cars, appeared to be asking people at random for proof of citizenship or identification.
“We’re trying to make sure that families who have been impacted are getting legal services as quickly as possible. We’re trying to do some legal triage,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which provides assistance and advocacy work to immigrants in Austin. “It’s chaotic,” he said. The organization’s hotline, he said, had been overwhelmed with calls.
Federal immigration officials, as well as activists, said that the majority of those detained were adult men.
Germany repatriating gold faster than planned as confidence in euro plunges
Februay 10, 2017
Berlin is bringing home its gold reserves stored in New York, London and Paris faster than scheduled, Germany’s central bank said Thursday. The move is linked to surging euroskepticism, as new governments in France and Italy may ditch the single currency. The German Bundesbank has already moved 583 tons of gold out of New York and Paris, planning to have a half of its gold back in Germany by the end of 2017, which is ahead of the 2020 plan. The rest will be split between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank of England.
“We have a lot of discussions about Trump, regarding implications on monetary policy, macroeconomics, etc., but we trust the central bank of the US,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele told a news conference.
“Trump has not triggered a discussion about the storage facility in New York,” he said.
As French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and Italy’s 5-Star Movement are openly calling to pull out of the euro, some economists in Germany say the repatriated gold may be needed to back a new deutschmark should the eurozone collapse.
During the Cold War, 98 percent of Germany’s bullion was stored abroad, and so far the biggest repatriation was in 2000 when the Bundesbank repatriated 931 tons from the Bank of England.
When the relocation is complete, Germany will still have 1,236 tons in New York, 432 tons in London and the rest in Frankfurt. The current repatriation involves moving 300 tons from New York and 374 tons from Paris. The Bundesbank said it is not worried about keeping gold in England despite Brexit, as London remains a key gold trading market and a safe place.
Germany has the second-largest gold reserves in the world after the US with 3,381 tons.
How to avoid falling for lies and fake news
As ‘alternative facts’ fill our social media feeds, BBC Future examines a more rational approach to digesting information.
February 11, 2017
by David Robson
From claims that The Simpsons predicted Trump’s presidency in the Year 2000 to the absurd story that the Queen has joked about assassinating Trump, our social media feeds are awash with lies and misunderstandings.
Just consider the 29 January shootings in a Quebec mosque, by Alexandre Bissonnette. In just a few hours, conspiracy theories had begun to percolate, claiming a police cover-up to protect a Muslim accomplice.
As David Mikkelson, the co-founder of myth-busting site Snopes, puts it: “The bilge is rising faster than you can pump.” Tellingly, Snopes’s own traffic almost doubled – to 13.6 million monthly visitors – in October last year, as readers struggled to make sense of the events leading up to the election.
Fortunately, psychologists are beginning to understand why we accept dubious claims that support our own viewpoint while neglecting facts that disagree with our views. In this round-up of our previous content, we explore six strategies you can adopt to avoid being fooled.
Don’t be seduced by simplicity
A series of studies have shown that it is surprisingly easy to mask a lie in the veil of credibility, by making it sound so obvious it must be true. Often, this revolves around the “cognitive fluency” – whether the idea is easy to process. Simply printing a story in an easy-to-read font can do the trick. For the same reason, we are also more likely to trust someone if they feel familiar (if they have appeared on TV a lot, for instance) – even if they clearly lack expertise in what they are saying. Try questioning your sources and look beyond the slick presentation.
Be smart to doctored images
Images can also increase a story’s cognitive fluency, but thanks to software like Photoshop, they can now be easily doctored, and you may not realise just how easily this can manipulate your memory of history. The site Slate once ran an experiment, in which they showed pictures of certain political events – only some of which were real. When questioned afterwards, nearly half their readers claimed to have remembered the fake events actually occurring. It’s just one method of subtle suggestion that could lend credibility to a lie. So try to look for multiple sources of information, and don’t just rely on the evidence immediately in front of your eyes.
Accept your ignorance
Many people suffer from over-confidence – the belief they know more than the average person. And our smartphones – with infinite knowledge at our finger-tips – can exacerbate this effect. As a result, we may feel less critical of the information that reinforces our assumptions, while dismissing anything that disagrees with us.
Look beyond your bubble
As Zaria Gorvett explains in her story on ‘group polarisation’, people naturally converge on the views of those around them – in both their physical and virtual neighbourhoods. So try talking to people with different views from your own, and look to news sources you wouldn’t normally read. You might be surprised to find information that questions the facts you took for granted.
Along similar lines, psychologist Tom Stafford suggests that we could all benefit from being more curious. Whereas education alone does little to prevent polarised thinking, people who are more curious appear to appraise scientific evidence in a more balanced way – so that they are not blinded by their existing ideology.
Consider the opposite
You may also benefit from the following strategy found in a vintage psychology paper. As Stafford describes in his piece, participants were asked to read articles about the death penalty, with the following instructions: “Ask yourself at each step whether you would have made the same high or low evaluations had exactly the same study produced results on the other side of the issue.”
So, for example, if presented with data suggesting the death penalty lowered murder rates, the participants were asked to analyse the study’s methodology and imagine the results pointed the opposite way. The technique turned out to reduce the participants’ confirmation bias – their tendency to discount evidence that did not agree with their existing beliefs, while leading them to be more critical of the evidence that supported their assumptions. As a result, they came to a more balanced opinion overall.
Why are people so incredibly gullible?
Our brains don’t let piddling little facts get in the way of a good story, allowing lies to infect the mind with surprising ease.
March 24, 2016
by David Robson
If you ever need proof of human gullibility, cast your mind back to the attack of the flesh-eating bananas. In January 2000, a series of chain emails began reporting that imported bananas were infecting people with “necrotizing fasciitis” – a rare disease in which the skin erupts into livid purple boils before disintegrating and peeling away from muscle and bone.
According to the email chain, the FDA was trying to cover up the epidemic to avoid panic. Faced with the threat, readers were encouraged to spread the word to their friends and family.
The threat was pure nonsense, of course. But by 28 January, the concern was great enough for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a statement decrying the rumour.
Did it help? Did it heck. Rather than quelling the rumour, they had only poured fuel on its flames. Within weeks, the CDC was hearing from so many distressed callers it had to set up a banana hotline. The facts became so distorted that people eventually started to quote the CDC as the source of the rumour. Even today, new variants of the myth have occasionally reignited those old fears.
We may laugh at these far-fetched urban myths – as ridiculous as the ongoing theory that Paul McCartney, Miley Cyrus and Megan Fox have all been killed and replaced with lookalikes. But the same cracks in our logic allow the propagation of far more dangerous ideas, such as the belief that HIV is harmless and vitamin supplements can cure AIDS, that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ by the US government, or that a tinfoil hat will stop the FBI from reading your thoughts.
Why do so many false beliefs persist in the face of hard evidence? And why do attempts to deny them only add grist to the rumour mill? It’s not a question of intelligence – even Nobel Prize winners have fallen for some bizarre and baseless theories. But a series of recent psychological advances may offer some answers, showing how easy it is to construct a rumour that bypasses the brain’s deception filters.
One, somewhat humbling, explanation is that we are all “cognitive misers” – to save time and energy, our brains use intuition rather than analysis.
As a simple example, quickly answer the following questions:
“How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?”
“Margaret Thatcher was the president of what country?”
Between 10 and 50% of study participants presented with these questions fail to notice that it was Noah, not Moses, who built the Ark, and that Margaret Thatcher was the prime minster, not the president – even when they have been explicitly asked to note inaccuracies.
Known as the “Moses illusion”, this absentmindedness illustrates just how easily we miss the details of a statement, favouring the general gist in place of the specifics. Instead, we normally just judge whether it “feels” right or wrong before accepting or rejecting its message. “Even when we ‘know’ we should be drawing on facts and evidence, we just draw on feelings,” says Eryn Newman at the University of Southern California, whose forthcoming paper summarises the latest research on misinformation.
Based on the research to date, Newman suggests our gut reactions swivel around just five simple questions:
- Does a fact come from a credible source?
- Do others believe it?
- Is there plenty of evidence to support it?
- Is it compatible with what I believe?
- Does it tell a good story?
Crucially, our responses to each of these points can be swayed by frivolous, extraneous, details that have nothing to do with the truth.
Consider the questions of whether others believe a statement or not, and whether the source is credible. We tend to trust people who are familiar to us, meaning that the more we see a talking head, the more we will begrudgingly start to believe what they say. “The fact that they aren’t an expert won’t even come into our judgement of the truth,” says Newman. What’s more, we fail to keep count of the number of people supporting a view; when that talking head repeats their idea on endless news programmes, it creates the illusion that the opinion is more popular and pervasive than it really is. Again, the result is that we tend to accept it as the truth.
Then there’s the “cognitive fluency” of a statement – essentially, whether it tells a good, coherent story that is simple to imagine. “If something feels smooth and easy to process, then our default is to expect things to be true,” says Newman. This is particularly true if a myth easily fits with our expectations. “It has to be sticky – a nugget or soundbite that links to what you know, and reaffirms your beliefs,” agrees Stephan Lewandowsky at the University of Bristol in the UK, whose work has examined the psychology of climate change deniers.
A slick presentation will instantly boost the cognitive fluency of a claim, while raising its believability. In one recent study, Newman presented participants with an article (falsely) saying that a well-known rock singer was dead. The subjects were more likely to believe the claim if the article was presented next to a picture of him, simply because it became easier to bring the singer to mind – boosting the cognitive fluency of the statement. Similarly, writing in an easy-to-read font, or speaking with good enunciation, have been shown to increase cognitive fluency; indeed, Newman has shown that something as seemingly inconsequential as the sound of someone’s name can sway us; the easier it is to pronounce, the more likely we are to accept their judgement.
In light of these discoveries, you can begin to understand why the fear of the flesh-eating bananas was so infectious. For one thing, the chain emails were coming from people you inherently trust – your friends – increasing the credibility of the claim, and making it appear more popular. The concept itself was vivid and easy to picture – it had high cognitive fluency. If you happened to distrust the FDA and the government, the thought of a cover-up would have fitted neatly into your worldview.
That cognitive miserliness can also help explain why those attempts to correct a myth have backfired so spectacularly, as the CDC found to their cost. Lab experiments confirm that offering counter-evidence only strengthens someone’s conviction. “In as little as 30 minutes, you can see a bounce-back effect where people are even more likely to believe the statement is true,” says Newman.
The problem, she says, emerges from our deeply flawed memories. Correcting the facts “would work very well if we could play back our memories as if they were recorded on video, but years of research show the memory is not perfect – we fill in gaps and we lose information,” she says.
As a result of these frailties, we are instantly drawn to the juicier details of a story – the original myth – while forgetting the piddling little fact that it’s been proven false. Worse still, by repeating the original myth, the correction will have increased the familiarity of the claim – and as we’ve seen, familiarity breeds believability. Rather than uprooting the myth, the well-intentioned correction has only pushed it deeper.
A debunked myth may also leave an uncomfortable gap in the mind. Lewandowsky explains that our beliefs are embedded in our “mental models” of the way the world works; each idea is interlinked with our other views. It’s a little like a tightly bound book: once you tear out one page, the others may begin to fray as well. “You end up with a black hole in your mental representation, and people don’t like it.” To avoid that discomfort, we would often rather cling to the myth before our whole belief system starts unravelling.
Fortunately, there are more effective ways to set people straight and make the truth stick. For a start, you should avoid repeating the original story (where possible) and try to come up with a whole alternative to patch up the tear in their mental model. “If I tell you the Moon is not made of cheese, then you find it difficult to give up on the belief – but if I say it’s not cheese but rock, you say ‘OK, fine’, because you still have an idea of what the Moon is like,” explains Lewandowsky.
Newman agrees it’s a helpful strategy. For instance, when considering the fears that MMR vaccines may be linked to autism, she suggests it would be better to build a narrative around the scientific fraud that gave rise to the fears – rather than the typical “myth-busting” article that unwittingly reinforces the misinformation. Whatever story you choose, you need to increase the cognitive fluency with clear language, pictures, and good presentation. And repeating the message, a little but often, will help to keep it fresh in their minds. Soon, it begins to feel as familiar and comfortable as the erroneous myth – and the tide of opinion should begin to turn.
At the very least, staying conscious of these flaws in your thinking will help you to identify when you may be being deceived. Both Newman and Lewandowsky point out that there is a flurry of misinformation flying around the forthcoming US presidential elections, as seen in Donald Trump’s claims that Mexican immigrants bring sexual violence and drug trafficking and Hillary Clinton’s opinion that Isis are using videos of Trump to recruit terrorists. (Neither statement held up to fact-checking.)
It’s always worth asking whether you have thought carefully about the things you are reading and hearing. Or are you just being a cognitive miser, persuaded by biased feelings rather than facts? Some of your dearest opinions may have no more substance than the great banana hoax of the year 2000.
NASA took on an unprecedented study of Greenland’s melting. Now, the data are coming in
February 10, 2017
by Chris Mooney
The Washington Post
In 2015, in a moment of science communication genius, NASA created a mission called “OMG.” The acronym basically ensured that a new scientific mission — measuring how quickly the Oceans are Melting Greenland — would get maximum press attention.
The subject is actually extremely serious. OMG amounts to a comprehensive attempt, using ships, planes, and other research tools, to understand what’s happening as warm seas creep into large numbers of fjords that serve as avenues into the vast ice sheet — many of which contain large and partly submerged glaciers that are already melting and contributing to sea-level rise.
Greenland is, in fact, the largest global contributor to rising seas — adding about a millimeter per year to the global ocean, NASA says — and it has 7.36 potential meters (over 24 feet) to give. The question is how fast it could lose that ice, and over five years, OMG plans to pull in enough data to give the best answer yet.
“We’ve never observed Greenland disappearing before, and that’s what OMG is about,” says Josh Willis, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is the principal investigator on the mission. “We want to watch how it shrinks over the next five years, and see how we can use that information to better predict the future.”
And now the first data are coming in, in the form of not one but two new studies published in the journal Oceanography by NASA scientists and affiliated university researchers, seeking to measure the swirl of oceans around Greenland and in particular how a warm, deep layer of Atlantic-originating water is moving and interacting with its glaciers.
Basically, it works like this: Waters swirl in a broadly clockwise rotation around the enormous island (see below), often darting inward toward the outlying glaciers along the way. And in fjords that are the deepest, the Atlantic layer, which tends to be over 200 meters (more than 650 feet) deep, has the greatest chance of causing sustained melting.
“Where it’s deep, there’s warm water,” says Willis. Above the Atlantic layer, meanwhile, is a layer of colder polar water that has far less of an effect on glaciers — meaning that the big and thick glaciers often get hit hard at their bases, even as the small and thin ones don’t necessarily get hit much at all.
Here’s a figure that the scientists have produced, showing the overall flow of waters around the ice island:
The newly published research does not present any answer — yet — to the big question animating all of this: How fast will Greenland melt and raise seas in a way that threatens, say, Florida?
In order to answer this key question, the researchers need comprehensive data on the depths and shapes of the fjords, the thickness of the glaciers, and the behavior of the oceans around a Greenland coastline that, NASA notes, is 27,000 miles in length. Then, they will need to feed all of that information into a computer simulation that projects climate change forward to 2100 and calculates the consequences, at a high resolution, for Greenland’s icy coasts.
“It’s too early” to run the model, said Mathieu Morlighem, a researcher at the University of California and the lead author of one of the papers presenting the accumulating data. “I think you need to wait another year or two, maybe more. It was not possible at all before OMG.”
Still, the recently published findings mark a start. Morlighem’s study, for instance, looked at the depth and shape of the seafloor near the fronts of and beneath numerous Greenland glaciers. The research shows that numerous glaciers extend deeper beneath the surface of the ocean than previously thought.
For instance, Store Glacier in northwestern Greenland (at around 70 degrees North latitude in the image above) starts at 400 meters (around 1,300 feet) deep where its front touches the ocean, and then plunges to depths as high as 1,000 meters deep (3,280 feet) farther inland — making it quite vulnerable to the ocean. Prior research, however, had suggested the glacier was much shallower.
The same was true of numerous other glaciers, which also appear more vulnerable than previously thought.
“OMG is transforming our knowledge of which glaciers are vulnerable to more warming or not,” Morlighem said. “So I wouldn’t say we have been surprised; it’s more, we had no idea, for many of these fjords, what they were looking like.”
Overall, the data are also showing that Greenland’s west coast is far more vulnerable, in general, than its east, Morlighem said.
The second study, meanwhile, examines ocean circulation around the Greenland coast and finds, strikingly, that between 68 degrees North latitude along the coast and 77 degrees North (see above), the deepest warm layer of Atlantic water cools from 3.5 degrees Celsius down to 2.5 degrees Celsius. Moreover, it does so in part because the water busily melts away at a large and deep glacier called Upernavik at 73 degrees North, which touches the ocean in 675 meter (over 2,000 foot) deep waters. The cold meltwater from the glacier spills into the ocean and, through mixing, cools the warm Atlantic water somewhat.
“The glaciers there are actively losing enough ice, and enough fresh water, that it’s important for the oceanography, and how the water changes as it goes up the west coast of Greenland,” says Willis. That in itself is proof that Greenland is melting quite a lot.
The big picture is that NASA’s new data suggest — that’s right — new vulnerabilities.
“Overall, together I think these papers suggest that the glaciers as a whole are more vulnerable than we thought they were,” Willis said. He says that, of course, with the aforementioned caveat that NASA is not ready yet to feed the data into a model that actually shows how this could play out over the decades of our future.
For now, we’re still stuck with official estimates from bodies such as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel said in 2013 that Greenland’s melting might at most contribute 21 centimeters to sea-level rise by 2100, with some possible addition from rapid ice collapse (this is the high-end number for what scientists call the “likely” range in a worst-case global warming scenario, to be precise). But missions like OMG, in the meantime, are giving us plenty to worry about.
“These kinds of results suggest that we could be in for more sea level rise than we thought,” Willis said. “And we’re not alone; the fact is that almost every time some new results come out of Greenland or Antarctica, we find these glaciers are more vulnerable than we thought.”
Germany to ‘speed up deportation’ of failed asylum seekers
February 9, 2017
by Frank Zeller
Berlin (AFP) – Germany, which has taken in over one million asylum seekers since 2015, on Thursday announced plans to speed up the deportation of those denied refugee status — but controversy flared over sending people back to war-torn Afghanistan.
Chancellor Angela Merkel — who faces a re-election bid in September amid a voter backlash over the mass influx — won agreement from leaders of Germany’s 16 state governments on a repatriation plan, which she said would “quickly” be drafted as a proposed law.
“What we discussed today were the necessary conditions for us to be able to continue to be a country that welcomes those seeking protection”, she told reporters after the meeting.
Expediting the process of repatriation for failed asylum seekers “will, critically, give us the possibility of accepting people who are in emergency situations”, she said.
Among the planned measures is the establishment of national “deportation centres” aimed at coordinating federal and state operations. Financial incentives will also be offered for those who return voluntarily under the plan.
Germany also wants to increase pressure on countries which refuse to take back their national or hamper the process with red tape.
It has stepped up talks, especially with North African countries, since December’s deadly jihadist attack on a Berlin Christmas market, blamed on a Tunisian man, Anis Amri, who should have been sent back long before the attack.
Since that attack, which claimed 12 lives, Germany also announced reforms to make it easier to expel foreign nationals considered potentially dangerous extremists by police.
Thursday’s deal lays out rules to speed up deportation for those who attempt to hide their real identity or commit crimes. The Federal Office for Migration (Bamf) will also have the right to consult the mobile phones of asylum seekers if their identities cannot be clearly determined, said Hesse regional president Volker Bouffier.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who had urged state leaders to sign on to a “joint effort”, warned that while the number of people being granted safe haven from Syria and other war zones had risen sharply in Germany, so had the number of those who do not qualify for such protection.
“That is why we need to carry out more repatriations and deportations,” he told on ARD public television.
Last year Germany repatriated or expelled some 80,000 rejected asylum seekers, out of a total of more than 200,000 who had failed to gain official refugee or asyulm status.
– Instability in Afghanistan –
Merkel’s government is under pressure to act as the migrant influx has boosted a right-wing populist and anti-immigration movement, and the number of far-right hate crimes against foreigners has soared.
But she also faced increasing opposition at the state level against sending Afghan nationals back home, to an increasingly dangerous environment.
Since December, Germany has sent back some 60 Afghan nationals on two charter flights to Kabul, under an agreement signed between the European Union and Afghanistan in October.
But five German state governments have decided to halt most expulsions to Afghanistan, according to media reports, citing the worsening instability in the strife-torn country.
Merkel argues that though it was “not easy” to send Afghans back home, those denied asylum could be sent back to certain regions that were safer.
The United Nations reported in early February that civilian casualties in Afghanistan peaked in 2016, with nearly 11,500 non-combatants — one third of them children — killed or wounded.
The Browning Version: An Examination of Sources
More Holocaust fiction exposed
February 9, 2017
by Gregory Douglas
In his book, ‘The Path to Genocide’ published in 1992, Dr. Christopher Browning states; ” In the Summer of 1941, probably in July, Hitler indicated his approval for the preparation of a plan for the mass murder of all European Jews under Nazi control, though just how and when this was communicated to Himmler and Heydrich cannot be established.”
The probability of such an approval has been elevated to fact in a subsequent study by Dr. Browning, ‘The Euphoria of Victory and the Final Solution: Summer-Fall 1941.’ ” When Hitler gave his ‘victory’ speech in mid-July, instigating the immediate implementation of the Final Solution on Soviet territory…” is the specific quote. Since this speech and its implications are of considerable historical importance considering the total lack of such a specific order in official German documents, a careful search was made of Hitler’s speeches during the summer months of 1941.
From the opening of the campaign against the Soviet Union on 21 June of that year until October, Hitler made no speeches whatsoever and the speech he did make on 3 October at the Sportspalast in Berlin at the opening of the Winter Aid campaign contained only references to the German military successes in the East and made no mention of any “final solution.” In response to a query by the author as to the date of this victory speech, Dr. Browning replied in a letter of November 23, 1994 that the speech in question was taken from Nuremberg Document 221-L. He explained further that the reference he made to a speech was not really a speech but a monologue to a limited audience.
A search of the German language records of the International Military Tribunal located Document 221-L in vol. 38, pp. 86-94.
In his letter, Dr. Browning was partially correct. The ‘speech’ was in the form of a documentary record taken by Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, Hitler’s secretary, at a closed meeting held in Hitler’s headquarters on 16 July, 1941.
It was neither a speech nor a monologue but a précis of a high level conference concerning, primarily, the administration of newly-acquired territory in Russia. This précis speaks for itself, certainly without any need for assistance or interpretation, and a translation is supplied so that the reader may judge for himself the specifics of what Dr. Browning has termed the “implementation of the Final Solution.”
Dr. Browning’s article focuses on the decision for a final solution which he defines as the Germans “attempt to murder every last Jew in Europe.” He claims that there were two decisions for implementation of this purported program. The first was made in mid-July of 1941 and was specifically directed towards the “total mass murder of Soviet Jewry.”
It is the first decision that is now under consideration.
Dr. Browning states: “In mid-July, convinced that the military campaign was nearly over and victory was at hand, an elated Hitler gave the signal to carry out an accelerated pacification and racial ‘cleansing’ “of the newly acquired territories in European Russia.” He states further: “When Hitler gave his ‘victory’ speech in mid-July, instigating the immediate implementation of the Final Solution on Soviet territory…”
A reading of Dr. Browning’s source, Nuremberg document 221-L, does not bear out his thesis in any way whatsoever. The conference, which was certainly not a speech, concerns itself entirely with the administration of the newly-acquired territories. The only subjects that even remotely approach Dr. Browning’s specific claims refer to the combating of the recently-instituted Soviet partisan movement, the establishment of a security system in the territories and the evacuation of Soviets from the Crimea in order to colonize the area with Germans.
There is not one word in the text of this conference that refers to Jews or any theoretical plan for their mass extermination in former Soviet territory or anywhere else. The only possible linkage that could be made is that the discussion concerning the ruthless combating of partisans, which were led by political commissars and high level Communist Party functionaries, contained such phrases as “shooting” and “rooting out”. Because the leadership of the partisans, the commissars and party leaders, was almost exclusively Jewish in composition, a tenuous conclusion could be postulated that by destroying the partisan movement, Hitler was calling for the destruction of Jews in the eastern territories.
Insofar as the participants in this conference addressing any kind of a “final solution” concerning Jews, there is not one word contained in the notes taken on it that would convince any rational reader that such was the case.
Convoluted, inverted logic seem to be the hallmark of fin de siècle historical writers, demi-journalists and ideologues when they deal with the subject of the persecution of Jews in Europe and Russia between 1933 and 1945.
Both Dr. Browning’s article and the following one by Richard Breitman entitled ‘Plans for the Final Solution in Early 1941’ in the same journal, contain a number of phrases which strongly indicate that those who write on the subject are reduced to suppositions, theories and, in many cases, fictive renderings and strained couplings of unrelated facts.
In Dr. Browning’s article can be found the following phrases that tend to support this latter thesis: “Were Hitler’s decisions of implementation long preceded by ‘basic’ decisions and ‘secret plans’? Here the historian is necessarily on much more speculative grounds…”; “My reasoning in this regard is admittedly speculative, as is that of other historians who wrestle with the issue.” Dr. Browning offers “scenarios” which might be acceptable for a playwright or a short story writer but fall short of usefulness to a person attempting to deal with historical fact. The word “seems” appears a number of times:…..”Himmler seems to have known” and …”Hitler….seems to have incited similar planning for the murder of European Jewry in mid-July.”
Richard Breitman’s article in the same edition of German Studies Review is presented in a similar vein as that of Dr. Browning. 
Here are found such quotations as: “Deciphering Hitler’s exact intentions at a given time, however, is both tricky and subjective, given his habit of concealment and his disinclination to give explicit, written orders.”; “There is a constant pattern of veiling measures against Jews (and other victimized groups) with euphemisims.” Breitman mentions various meetings of top Third Reich leaders with such comments as: “There is no record of who else (besides Hitler) was present or exactly what was discussed.” and “The content of these meetings of the key authorities on the Final Solution went unrecorded– or at least no notes of them have survived.” Breitmann speaks of “ambiguous language, euphemisms, and camouflage” and begins his penultimate paragraph with: “To my knowledge, neither Heydrich nor Himmler referred directly to the date of plans for the Final Solution or of Hitler’s authorization of it in a form that has reached posterity.”
In short, both Browning and Breitman make the same points, namely that no written proof is extant and that which appears to be a possible proof is neither conclusive nor convincing unless enhanced by tenuous support systems that must be maintained more by wishful thinking than fact.
Franciszek Piper discusses this situation when he writes on the number of victims of anti-semitism during the period of the Third Reich. He speaks of the reliance of researchers on “discrepant and imprecise data from testimonies and depositions of witnesses, former prisoners, and Nazi functionaries and on court decisions and fragmentary and incomplete records of camp registries, archives and other institutions.”
The former Soviet Archives contain the complete file of the German concentration camp system seized by Soviet troops at Oranienburg camp in 1945. These are not fragmentary records but complete and from these, it is apparent that the death tolls in all the camps from their beginnings to the end of the war was approximately 400,000. 
Any researcher who has attempted to discover factual material concerning this subject will attest to the enormous proliferation of published material which started during the war and is still in progress. Since historians traditionally pilfer from each other without shame or footnoting, it is a laborious task to attempt to locate specific sources for intentions, orders and statistics.
Tracking backwards is a time consuming and completely unrewarding experience and finally, one comes to the realization that has apparently struck Messers Browning, Breitman and others: There are no specifics.
This lack of evidence has been explained by statements that certain words were used to denote mass murder. “Deportation” means transport to Auschwitz and mass gassings, “Forced Labor” means transport to Auschwitz and mass gassings as does “Emigration”, “Resettlement” and so on. The fact that nowhere in the vast archives of captured German documents can be found original documents that specifically address any state-ordered deportation and murder of Jewish civilians (as opposed to Jewish partisans) could mean either that researchers are incredibly stupid or that no such documents ever existed because there was no such official program.
There is no question that Jews, both in Germany and in fact throughout Europe, were deported by official order. Most of these Jews were sent to Auschwitz camp and many died while prisoners and forced laborers but to date there has never been any reputable documentation produced by any researcher or historian that establishes the existence of an official governmental policy of mass murder of Jews as a racial entity.
When a reputable historical journal publishes an article by an equally reputable academic writer who states that a public document contains specific orders by Hitler for the extermination of Jews and that document in fact says absolutely nothing to support the author’s thesis, the question arises as to how many other treatments of this subject have been similarly distorted? The recurring theme seems to be that since everyone knows that these enormous massacres are commonly believe to have occurred, there has to be confirming, official documentation in support of their theories. Since no such documentation exists, historians determined to support their thesis can say, as they repeatedly do, that documentation should exist and since it should exist, the next step is to see to it that it does. Therefore creativity eventually takes the place of objectivity to the terminal detriment of both the historian’s reputation and the validity of his theory.
- Translation of the Nuremberg Tribunal Document 221-L
Führer Headquarters, 16. July 1941
Secret State Matters (Top Secret/non-military)
On orders of the Führer, a conference was held today at 1500 hours with Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Reichsminister Lammers, Feldmarschall Keitel, the Reichsmarschall (Göring) and myself (Reichsleiter Bormann).
The conference began at 1500 hours and continued, with a coffee break, until about 2000 hours.
The Führer began by stressing that he wished first of all to address certain basic concerns. Various measures were now necessary and as proof of this, for example, a statement in an impudent Vichy newspaper that the war against the Soviet Union is a European war, conducted for all of Europe.
Obviously, the Vichy paper wishes to say by this hint that the beneficiaries of this war should not be the Germans alone but that all of the European states should profit as well.
Essentially, we have not publicized our aims before the world; this is not necessary but the main thing is that we ourselves know what we want. By no means should we make our way more difficult by making unnecessary statements. Such statements are unnecessary because where we have the power we do all we can and where we do not have the power, we can do nothing anyway.
The motivations of our actions before the world must also have a tactical point of view. We must act here exactly as we did in the cases of Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. In these cases we also said nothing about our intentions and it is sensible to continue this.
We repeat again that we are constrained to occupy an area to bring order and security; in the interests of the occupants we must establish control in the interest of tranquillity, support, commerce, etc., etc., It is consequently not perceived that by this means we establish the way for more definitive control! All necessary measures-shooting, resettlement etc., we can and should do.
We do not wish, however, to prematurely and unnecessarily turn the population into enemies. We shall act, therefore, as if we are exercising a mandate only. We must recognize at the same time that we will never leave these territories.
We should deal with this accordingly:
- Do nothing to push ultimate control but keep such preparations in hand;
- We proclaim that we come as liberators.
The Crimea must be evacuated by all foreigners and settled by Germans. In the same manner, the former old Austrian territory of Galicia will become a territory of the Reich. Presently our relations with Rumania are good but one does not know what these will be in the future. We must consider this and formulate our borders accordingly. We should not have to be dependent upon the good will of others; we must plan our relations with Rumania in accordance with this principle.
Basically we have the task of apportioning this giant cake to suit our needs, so that we are able to:
first to control it,
second to govern it, and
third to profit from it.
The Russians have now given an order to conduct partisan warfare behind our front lines. This partisan warfare also gives us the opportunity of rooting out all those who are in opposition to us.
The creation of a military power west of the Urals should never again be possible, even if we have to engage in warfare for a hundred years. All successors of the Führer should know: the security of the nation depends on there being no foreign military presence west of the Urals; Germany must protect this area from all future eventualities. Our iron principle must be and must remain:
It must not be permitted for anyone but Germans to bear arms here!
This is especially important concerning the question of utilizing the armed assistance of the peoples of occupied territories. This is wrong! This policy can turn against us in the end. Only Germans can bear arms, not Slavs, not Czechs, not the Cossacks or Ukranians!
We should be no means adopt a vacillating policy such as we saw in Alsace before 1918. The mark of the English is that they constantly pursue one line and one goal! In this regard we should learn from the English.
Accordingly, we should at no time be dependent upon the personalities of individuals: the British suppression of the Indian princes etc is an example: The soldier must always secure the regime!
From the newly acquired Eastern territories, we must create a Garden of Eden; this is essential for us; against this, colonies play a subordinate role.
Likewise, if we divide up an area we must always act as the defender of the law and of the inhabitants. Accordingly, the present choice of words is to speak not about a new territory of the Reich but a necessary task imposed by the war.
In the Baltic, the area up to the Duna will have to be administered in coordination with Field Marshal Keitel.
Reichsleiter Rosenberg stresses that in his opinion treatment of the population should vary from district to district. In the Ukraine, we should commence with a cultural consideration, there we must encourage the cultural awareness of the Ukranians, must establish a university in Kiev and other similar things.
The Reichsmarschall points out that we must first think about securing our own food supply and everything else can come later.
(Pertinent question: Is there still a cultural stratum in the Ukraine or are higher class Ukrainians found only in emigrants from Russia?)
Rosenberg continues that there are independent movements in the Ukraine which deserve encouragement.
The Reichsmarschall requests from the Führer information about which areas have been promised to other states.
The Führer responds that Antonescu desires Bessarabia and Odessa with an extension leading northwestwards from Odessa.
Upon objections from the Reichsmarschall and Rosenberg, the Führer responds that the new borders envisioned by Antonescu contained little outside of the old Rumanian territories.
The Führer states further that insofar as the Hungarians, the Turks and the Slovaks are concerned, nothing has been promised.
The Führer submitted for consideration whether one should add the old Austrian part of Galicia to the General Gouvernment; after objections were expressed, the Führer decided that this area will not be incorporated into the General Gouvernment but still placed under Reichsminister Frank (Lemberg).
The Reichsmarschall believes it proper to incorporate various parts of the Baltic territories, for example the forests of Bialystok, into East Prussia.
The Führer stresses that the entire Baltic territory must be incorporated into the Reich as a district.
Likewise, the Crimea with an extensive hinterland (area north of the Crimea) should become a district of the Reich; the hinterland should be as large as possible.
Rosenberg expressed his objections because of the Ukranians living in that area.
(Pertinent question: It has occurred to me a number of times that Rosenberg is partial to the Ukrainians; thusly he wishes to aggrandize the former Ukraine to a considerable degree.)
The Führer stressed, in addition, that the Volga Colony must become a Reich territory and also the district around Baku; the latter will have to become a German concession (Military colony).
The Finns want East Karelia but the Kola Peninsula will be taken over by the Germans because of the nickel mines there.
The annexation of Finland as a confederated state must be prepared for with all care. The Finns have requested the area around Leningrad; the Führer will level Leningrad to the ground and then give it to the Finns.
Then follows a lengthy discussion about the suitability of Gauleiter Lohse whom Rosenberg has proposed as Governor of the Baltic area. Rosenberg emphasizes that as he has already spoken with Lohse, it would be very embarrassing if Lohse was not appointed; for the western part of the Baltic area, Kube would be appointed under Lohse; for the Ukraine, Rosenberg has planned on Sauckel.
The Reichsmarschall stressed the most important aspect for the present was exclusively:
Securing of food supplies and, as far as necessary, of trade; securing transportation.
The Reichsmarschall emphasized that Koch should be given the Baltic area because he is well acquainted with it, or one should give Koch the Ukraine because he is the personality with the strongest initiative and the best preparatory training.
The Führer questioned if Kube could be made Reichskommissar for the Moscow area; Rosenberg and the Reichsmarschall feel that Kube was too old.
Rosenberg explained that after repeated interviews, he has apprehensions that Koch would very quickly ignore his instructions; in general, Koch had so indicated himself.
The Reichsmarschall pointed out that Rosenberg should not exert constant control, rather, these people must be very independent.
For the Caucasus area, Rosenberg put forward his chief of staff, Schickendanz. He stated that Schickendanz would fulfill his task well, something the Reichsmarschall doubted.
Rosenberg then stated that Lutze had proposed that he appoint several SA leaders, namely Scheppmann for Kiev, -Manthey-Dr. Bennecke-Litzmann- for Estonia, and Bürgermeister Dr. Drexler for Latvia.
The Führer expressed no objections to the employment of SA leaders.
Rosenberg then explained he had received a letter from Ribbentrop requesting participation by the Foreign Office; he requested the Führer to determine that the internal formation of the newly acquired areas are not the concern of the Foreign Office. the Führer is in agreement with this. For the present, it will suffice for the Foreign Office to appoint a liaison officer to Reichsleiter Rosenberg.
The Führer pointed out that the most important area for the next three years was doubtlessly the Ukraine. Therefore it would be best to put Koch there; if Sauckel were to be used, it would be better to appoint him to the Baltic area.
Rosenberg explained further that he wished to appoint Schmeer, Selzer and Manderbach as Commissioners in the Moscow area.
The Führer wishes that Holz be used as well and that the administration of the Crimea be taken over by Gauleiter Frauenfeld.
Rosenberg explains he intended also to use Hauptmann von Petersdorff; general consternation, general rejection. The Führer and the Reichsmarschall declare that von Petersdorff was without doubt mentally ill.
Rosenberg explains further that Oberbürgermeister Stroelin of Stuttgart has been suggested to him as an appointee. There were no objections to this.
Since both the Reichsmarschall and Rosenberg both agree that Kube is too old for the Moscow district, Kasche will take over this district.
(Note for Pg. Klopfer: Please request immediately from Dr. Meyer the documents on the proposed organizations and on the proposed appointments.)
The Reichsmarschall emphasizes he wishes to give the Kola Peninsula to Gauleiter Terboven for exploitation. The Führer is in agreement with this.
The Führer emphasizes that Lohse, provided he feels equal to this task, should take over the Baltic area, Kasche Moscow, Koch the Ukraine, Frauenfeld the Crimea, Terboven Kola and Schickendanz the Caucasus.
Rosenberg then brought up security for the administration.
The Führer said to the Reichsmarschall and the Field Marshal that he has always stressed that the Police Regiments should be equipped with tanks; for the operations of the Police in the new Eastern Territories with a corresponding number of tanks, a Police Regiment can accomplish a good deal. In balance, declared the Führer the security is naturally very thin. The Reichsmarschall will set up all of his training airfields in the new areas and if necessary, even the Ju52s can drop bombs on any rebellions. This huge area must naturally be pacified as quickly as possible and the best way to accomplish this is to “shoot anyone who only looks sideways.”
Field Marshal Keitel declared that the inhabitants must be responsible for their actions because it was naturally not possible to provide guards for each shed and each railroad station. The inhabitants should be aware that those who did not perform their duties were liable to be shot and that they would be held accountable for each assault.
Following a question by Reichsleiter Rosenberg, the Führer responded, newspapers- also for example in the Ukraine- must be reestablished to serve as sources of information for the inhabitants.
After the recess, the Führer declared that we must understand that today’s Europe is nothing but a geographical term; in reality, Asia extended up to our former borders.
Reichsleiter Rosenberg then described the organizational structure he intended to establish; he did not intend to appoint a permanent deputy for the Reichskommissar but rather call upon the services of the most efficient of the General Commissars to deputize for the Reichskommissar.
Under the Reichskommissar Rosenberg will form four departments:
first for general administration,
second for politics,
third for economics,
fourth for engineering and construction
(side comments: The Führer declares that activity on the part of churches under no circumstances is to come under question. Papen had sent to him via the Foreign Office a long memorandum stating that now was the right moment to reestablish the churches; this under no circumstances will be considered.)
The Reichsmarschall will second to Rosenberg’s office, Ministerial Direktors Schlatterer and Riecke.
Reichsleiter Rosenberg requested appropriate housing; he made a request for the Commercial Mission of the Soviet Union in the Lietzenburger Street; the Foreign Office had expressed the opinion, however, that the building was extraterritorial. The Führer replied that this was nonsense; Reichsminister Dr. Lammers was instructed to inform the Foreign Office that the building was, without further discussion, to be given to Rosenberg.
Rosenberg then proposed to second a liaison officer to the Führer; his adjutant Koeppen was to be appointed; the Führer agrees and adds that Koeppen would fulfill a parallel role to that of Hewel.
Reichsminister Dr. Lammers now awaits from him the proposed draft (see Annex!)
A longer discussion took place about the areas of competence of the RFSS. Obviously the participants also have the areas of competence of the Reichsmarschall in mind.
The Führer, the Reichsmarschall etc., reiterate that Himmler was to have no greater areas of competence than he had in Germany but his jurisdiction here was absolutely necessary.
The Führer reiterated that in practice, such disputes would quickly subside; he recalled the excellent cooperation between the Army and Air Force at the front.
In conclusion, it is decided to call the Baltic Areas Ostland.
 ‘The Path to Genocide’, Cambridge, 1992 p. 25.
 ‘The Euphoria of Victory and the Final Solution: Summer-Fall 1941’ German Studies Review, October, 1994, pps 473-481.
 VB Nr. 278 of 5. October 1941; Domarus, ‘HITLER-Reden und Proklamationen 1932-1943’, Vol.II, Munich, 1965, pps. 1758-1767.
 Letter from Dr. Christopher Browning to author, 23 November 1994.
 ‘ Plans for the Final Solution in Early 1941’, German Studies Review, October, 1994, pps 483-493.
 ‘Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp’ ed. Gutman and Berenbaum, Indiana University Press, 1994, p. 62.
 An article on former Soviet archival material appeared in the New York Times of March 3, 1991 and addresses the total figure of 400,000 dead in the camps “under the Third Reich”. It specifically refers to the 70,000 dead in Auschwitz. The actual figures found on Soviet archival microfilms show a slightly higher figure for Auschwitz, viz 73,000. Response by Holocaust advocates to these totals, astonishing in their nature, is that no allowance has been made for “secret lists” which, since they are secret, cannot be found.