TBR News February 27, 2018

Feb 27 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. February 27, 2018:””In previous times, when an incident happened that was not to the liking of official Washington or when official Washington did not wish to alert the voting public about one of their own negative acts, all that was necessary for official Washington to do was to have one of their people contact the editorial desks of major print media or offices of the television media and be certain that certain issues received the proper kind of coverage. With the advent of the Internet, however, these once-useful techniques began swiftly to erode. The Internet was a market-place of all kinds of information, some true, some only partly true and more wholly invented.This meant that rigged, or ignored, news that might have a negative effect, was supplanted with material that was most certainly not welcome to official Washington. These people made a valient, but unsuccessful, effort to control the Internet news by following their tried-and-true method of planting rigged stories on cooperative sites but as these were generally clumsy and ill-prepared, the reading public found more truthful stories much more interesting…and dangerous. This has resulted in the general disbelief in the great bulk of the American voting public of lies, half-truths and twisted reportage and a public that does not accept official concoctions is, potentially, a very dangerous voting public.”


Table of Contents

  • The Story Behind the California Democratic Party Convention’s Floor Fracas
  • Arctic warmer than much of Europe is a worrying sign of climate change
  • Understanding the polar vortex
  • A secret Mossad report on 911
  • Trump close adviser Kushner loses access to coveted intelligence briefing: sources
  • Antisemitic incidents in US soar to highest level in two decades
  • Secrecy News
  • How the Pentagon Devours the Budget

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TBR News February 26, 2018

Feb 26 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. February 25, 2018:”Guest editorial by Christian Jürs:

NUMBER 2905.17

June 13, 2017  USD(I)

SUBJECT: DoD Domestic Military Order-Counterinsurgency Overview : See Enclosure 1


What is a domestic  insurgency? The Department of Defense (DOD) defines domestic insurgency as “an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict.” Simply put, a domestic  insurgency is a struggle between a non-ruling group and their ruling authority. Domestic insurgents use political resources, to include the increased use of the media and international opinion, as well as violence to destroy the political legitimacy of the ruling authority and build their  own political legitimacy and power. Examples of this type of warfare range from the American Revolution to the previous situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conflict itself can range from acts of terrorism to the more conventional use of the media to sway public opinion. Whatever form the insurgency takes, it serves an ideology or political goal.

Some of the motivating factors in the current politico/sociological situation are:

a.Massive and continuing unemployment in all levels of American business and industry.

b.Only those who are technically proficient, i.e. in fields of computer science, are employable.

c.Another point of contention is the huge influx of illegal foreign immigrants and the perception that these prevent Americans from obtaining work and also are perceived as draining the national welfare rolls.

d.Also, a growing functional illiteracy in the American public, which has sharply diminished the reading of newspapers and increased the popularity of the Internet with its brief “sound bites.”A growing public perception of both disinterest and corruption on the part of National and State legislators has caused massive disillusionment on the part of the people.

e.The recent revelations that the American (and foreign) public is closely watched and spied upon by governmental organs at the behest of the President has created a very volatile and very negative attitude towards any and all official programs.




The decisive operation is preventing any population support for the insurgents.

Supporting operations focus on preventing any popular support for the insurgents.

Secure vital infrastructure using local personnel as the security force.

  • All firearms, to include pistols, rifles and shotguns, to be seized and impounded.
  • No ammunition to be sold and any found .to be confiscated.
  • National ID card to be carried by all American citizens and carried at all times
  • All unemployed Americans to be inducted into a CCC type organization and put to work on public projects like forest clearance, road work, governmental construction projects. Youths between 18 and 25 will be inducted and then sent to work projects sufficiently distant from their homes to discourage and prevent desertions, escapes, etc.
  • Certain breeds of dogs, such as German Shepherds, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers will be subject to confiscation and euthanasia
  • Citizens on Social Security or other governmental support programs must present the National ID card in order to collect benefits
  • All current US passports will be revoked and new ones with tracking chips embedded in them will be issued.
  • It shall be strictly forbidden to make or fly any kind of radio controlled aircraft, under penalty of law.
  • The possession or wearing of any garment or covering designed to deflect infrared observation shall be prohibited by law.’”





Table of Contents

  • Supreme Court rejects Trump over ‘Dreamers’ immigrants
  • U.S. appeals court says Title VII covers discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Trump’s Budget Is a Bonanza for Hawks
  • Koch Document Reveals Laundry List of Policy Victories Extracted from the Trump Administration
  • Interview with Poland’s Prime Minister: ‘Europe Has Run Out of Gas’
  • In the Turk-Syrian-Kurd Dance, the U.S. Has Two Left Feet
  • Russia announces Syria ceasefire to establish ‘humanitarian corridor’ in Eastern Ghouta
  • Bitcoin plunges below $10,000 as major crypto exchange to share user details with US tax authorities

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TBR News February 25, 2018

Feb 25 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. February 25, 2018:Guest editorial by Christian Jürs “The Crusades were a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. In all, eight major Crusade expeditions occurred between 1096 and 1291. The bloody, violent and often ruthless conflicts propelled the status of European Christians, making them major players in the fight for land in the Middle East. Now, given the growing attempts on the parts of the Israeli government to expel Christians and Moslims from Jerusalem, there are plans being formulated for a Ninth Crusade dedicated to liberating the Holy Land from alien forces i.e, the Ashkenazi Jews, Turkic converts to Judaism, who seized the land in 1948 by acts of terror and who have been killing Muslim Palestinians and stealing their land since that time.

The concept of another Crusade apparently has been formulating for some time and parties known to have knowledge or it or participating in it are Opus Dei, a well-connected group of Russian Orthodox people, two Christian groups in Italy, one in Germany and one in the United States and two Muslim groups.

Opus Dei, it should be noted has members are in more than 90 countries.

The concept of this movement is that the current Israelis are 95% Ashkenazi with no previous ties to the Holy Land and whose activities from 1948 onwards are savage and brutal and who have used their associates in the United States to support them against all resisters.

Reference:Timeline for the Crusades and Christian Holy War to c.1350: United States Naval Academy.

Table of Contents

  • Church leaders shut Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre in land, tax protest
  • Jewish Extremists’ Attacks Rattle Christians in Holy Land
  • Why Don’t Jews Like the Christians Who Like Them?
  • Laying the groundwork for a Third Temple in Jerusalem
  • California Democrats Deny Dianne Feinstein Their Endorsement for Senate
  • ‘Bibi go home!’ Israelis demand Netanyahu resignation over looming corruption charges
  • The Bunche Report
  • The terrifying phenomenon that is pushing species towards extinction

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TBR News February 24, 2018

Feb 24 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 24, 2018: “The western media has been engaging in a strenuous campaign designed to elevate women of the world, most especially woman of color, to  a level above men but lower than God.

The Pink Pussy Hat brigade can be seen today in every aspect of a media larded with stories about evil men who have sinned against the Superior Sex by daring to touch them or somehow humiliate them by refusing to respect them or, worse, pay them for their services.

With a burgeoning elevation of population, men are expected to wear dresses and do housekeeping while the woman wear men’s suits and shop for strap-ons at the Amazon strap-on store.

And sad to report, this year’s annual Virgin’s Day Parade in New York had to be cancelled because one of the women was sick and the other did not want to march alone.”

Table of Contents

  • Russiagate Suddenly Becomes Bigger
  • Assange release unlikely as Ecuador says UK unwilling to mediate
  • Turkish attack on Afrin: ‘The Kurds put their trust in the US and the West’
  • Mueller Is Gaining Steam. Should Trump Worry?
  • Trump Jr. drops planned foreign policy speech in India after criticism
  • Israel threatens direct action against Iran
  • The Iranian Mystery Ship: Death from the Sea 
  • UN Security Council votes for 30-day ceasefire in Syria without delay
  • Changing colors: Roosevelt’s ancestors
  • Who are the Kurds?

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TBR News February 23, 2018

Feb 23 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 23, 2018: Guest editorial by Christian Jürs-

“’ In January 2010, Dr Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was killed by a bomb attached to his car as he was driving to work in the morning. Despite rumors that he may have been targeted by MOIS (Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security) because of his reported connections to opposition groups, the modus operendi of his attackers is far too similar to that of numerous other incidents to give those rumors too much credence.

The actual attacks on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure are being carried out by Kurds and Balochs trained by Mossad.

Neither group has any love for the mullahs in Tehran and indeed both have been regularly in open conflict with the Iranian regime. There are intercepted Israeli intelligence reports that the Baloch insurgency in eastern Iran has recently reignited.

It cannot be denied that it would be very difficult for any foreign agent to operate effectively or for any length of time in the paranoid, high-security and repressive environment of modern Iran.

Even the well-trained and well-prepared Mossad operatives have had only limited success, while the much vaunted but highly overrated US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been largely bereft of serious HUMINT resources in Iran following a number of very incompetent intelligence blunders.

The CIA lost its entire agent network in Iran in 2004 when, according to US intelligence sources, “a CIA headquarters communications officer was about to send instructions to an agent via its Immarsat transmitter/receivers. The CIA officer attempted to download data intended for a single operative, but accidentally hit a button that sent it to the entire US spy network in Iran.” (source: CUX 305)

In what turned out to be an unmitigated intelligence disaster, the information was received by a double agent who forwarded it to MOIS, which was then quickly able to wrap up the entire US network, leaving Washington completely blind in HUMINT terms.

The CIA has still not recovered from this or several other setbacks at the hands of Iranian counter-Intelligence.

Most Western intelligence services have struggled to maintain any foothold within Iran, with the sole exception of the German BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst), which has managed to run several small but effective Iranian rings for a number of years. The Germans do not share information with either the Israelis or the Americans but do with the Russians.

MOIS and its foreign espionage department VEVAK are rated by many observers as one of the most effective intelligence organizations in the Middle East today.

It is widely accepted that the Iranian national security services run deadly anti-dissident and highly effective counter-intelligence operations around the world, while they have a justified reputation for their fearsome and wide-ranging powers to suppress dissent within Iran.

It is unlikely that MOIS would ever tolerate the lax levels of security found in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Mossad was responsible for assassinating a senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in January 2010.

It would be both difficult and dangerous for foreign intelligence services to attempt to deploy their own officers inside Iran for the long periods needed to acquire the targeting and surveillance information necessary to carry out a successful attack, even with the help and local knowledge of an in-country support network.

So again it is known and obvious that the most effective intelligence assets along with the probable culprits for the recent killings are drawn mainly from dissident nationalities such as those in the Kurdish and Baloch regions.

Israel maintains surveillance facilities and SIGINT sites run by the highly secretive Unit-8200 in northern Iraq and therefore are able to fund and assist in arming the Iranian Kurds. Earlier, it became known that Kurdish rebels attacking Turkish targets had also been trained and armed by the Mossad.

The earlier attacks on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure by sabotage and the targeted use of a CIA- developed computer worm (Stuxnet)in a clandestine Canadian station has caused significant disruption, while the Israeli fomented assassinations of leading Iranian nuclear scientists is considered to have “significantly delayed the Iranian nuclear research and development program.” This quote from a highly classified report to the Israeli Embassy in Washington under date of 9. December, 2010. All such claims are routinely denied by the authorities in Tehran.

More attacks can now be expected as Israel is becoming ever more frustrated at being prevented by the current US administration from taking unilateral military action and by a Washington that many Israelis see as seemingly unwilling to countenance direct action themselves.’”

Table of Contents

  • Two top White House advisers may leave over tensions with Trump: sources
  • Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson may bankroll US embassy’s Jerusalem move
  • U.S. expected to open embassy in Jerusalem in May, official says
  • 23 state attorneys general refile net neutrality suit
  • Let’s Acknowledge US Interference in Foreign Elections
  • Human culture, not smarts, may have overwhelmed Neanderthals
  • Italy’s Five Star Movement feeds on voters’ anger
  • Syrian YPG militia: government has taken control of Aleppo district
  • In a First, U.S. Senator Demands Government Oversight of Predatory “Loot Boxes” in Video Games

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TBR News February 22, 2018

Feb 22 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 22, 2018:”Those who can, do and those who can’t, work for the government. What we are seeing now inside the Beltway is absolute proof of this old saying. Incompetency reigns supreme with a multitude of warring factions competing for the dunce cap while the national economy falters, we see such idiotic themes as the Pink Pussy hats screaming for their strapons, club-footed and cleft-paleted cross-dressers demanding the right to uriniate in the public lavatory sinks, ranks of intellectual losers buying PhDs from fake “universities” with the dream of million dollar salaries from cat neutering corporations and a bloated military scheming to invade Antarcticia with special tanks bought with tax-payers monies from their business friends.”


Table of Contents

  • A Top-Secret US Military Base Will Melt Out of the Greenland Ice Sheet
  • Secrecy News
  • 20 Companies Profiting the Most From War
  • Why it’s so hard to make sense of Trump’s foreign policy
  • Wait, I know you: home security startup taps face-recognition tech
  • What foreign powers want from the Syrian war
  • The Cro-Magnon man versus the Neanderthal man

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TBR News February 21, 2018

Feb 21 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 21, 2018:” The political problems in the Middle East are rapidly degenerating to the point where a major could erupt without notice. As in 1914, no one wanted a major war but ineptness and misjudgement led to a war that did terrible damage to society. In 1914 as in 2018, no one wants a bloody conflict but with the exept for Russia’s Putin, none of the world leaders are competent or possessed of even the slightest degree of foresight. One always gets what one pays for after all.”


Table of Contents

  • Stakes rise in Turkey’s Afrin assault as pro-Assad militia arrive
  • New corruption cases entangle Netanyahu aides
  • Confidant of Israel’s Netanyahu turns state witness in corruption case: media
  • Jared Kushner-Qatar Redux: Robert Mueller Enters the Fray
  • ‘Thank you, Mama Merkel’: Syrian refugee lives with 2 wives, 6 kids on benefits in Germany
  • U.S. hate groups proliferate in Trump’s first year, watchdog says
  • Chinese counterfeiting of gold coins
  • The rise and fall of Mikheil Saakashvili
  • Under Trump, Border Patrol Steps Up Searches Far From the Border
  • Thousands of Americans jailed for debts chased by private collectors

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TBR News February 20, 2018

Feb 20 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 20, 2018:” There are questions and there are answers.

When men came down out of their caves and stood on their hind legs, questions began to form in their small minds.

Would they live forever?

Where would they go when they stopped breathing and began to smell bad?

And other men, more clever, told them what they wanted to hear so desperately.   Yes, they would live forever and in a wonderful place.

Yes, they would see their dead family again who would be waiting for them


Of course in order to get to this wonderful place and see smiling dead family members they would have to become a paying member of a certain religious group.

They would have to believe just what the leaders of this religious group told them to believe or they would go to some cold, wet and nasty place when they died and have to sleep with dead rats.

And because they wanted to believe these entertaining and entirely invented stories, they did.

Those who promised paradise got rich and those who believed were content.

But when they died, they slept with the worms.

Of course they weren’t aware of anything at that point.”


Table of Contents

  • Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War?
  • A Consensus Emerges: Russia Committed an “Act of War” on Par With Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Should the U.S. Response be Similar?
  • No Peace after Islamic State: Foreign Powers Compete for a Slice of Syria
  • Police encourage right-wing plans to seize Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa
  • Israeli police name Netanyahu associates in corruption inquiry
  • Transcription of telephone conversation on August 3, 2006
  • Exceprt and translation of Russian document AZ 1287-801 U concerning some aspects of the 911 attack.

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TBR News February 19, 2018

Feb 19 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 19, 2018:” Search the news sites on the internet though I may, I have never found the following information anywhere.

I am speaking of the so-called ‘Russia-gate’ flap. The basic theme of this discordant concerto is that the Russians, having made some kind of a deal with Donald Trump, somehow managed to get him elected to the office of US President in exchange for what quid pro quo none of the self-decleared brilliant experts have yet to invent.

It is obvious to a neutral observer that very compromising emails from the Clinton camp appeared on WikiLeak before, but not after, the election and no doubt had a strong influence on the outcome of the election.

The point the belching pundits seem to have missed is that, whatever the motive behind their release, the documents were genuine.

This seems to be a clear example of the biter being bitten by a better informed biter.

And the noise makers ought to comprehend that what happened once can easily happen again.

Americans always seem to feel that whatever they do is quite acceptable, be it bombing hospitals, torturing prisoners, or starting wars for fun and profit but God help anyone else who does the same thing.

What is normal and acceptable, even God-mandated behavior for them is wickedness if done by another.”



Table of Contents

  • Did George Washington Predict Donald Trump?
  • Washington’s Farewell Address 1796
  • People Care More About the Oxfam Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
  • Top Democrat suggests proof of Trump-Russia collusion still to come
  • Germany’s far-right AfD overtakes Social Democrats in poll
  • Germany seeks new spy satellites to get intel ‘independently from US’ – report
  • The secret on the ocean floor
  • Syrian army to help Kurdish forces repel Turkish offensive in Afrin: reports


Did George Washington Predict Donald Trump?

In an era of disunity and partisanship, the first president’s farewell address seems prescient.

Headline, New York Times,

February 19, 2018

Washington’s Farewell Address 1796


Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it  It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils 7 Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this con duct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

Geo. Washington.


People Care More About the Oxfam Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic

February 17, 2018

by Patrick Cockburn

The Independent

The earthquake that devastated Haiti  on 12 January 2010, killing 220,000 people, produced a terrible and disgusting failure by those who came from abroad to help the survivors. Among these were UN soldiers from Nepal, which was then in the middle of a cholera epidemic, who brought the disease with them and allowed it to enter the rivers that provide Haitians with their drinking water.

Cholera, previously unknown on the island, killed 7,568 Haitians over the next two years, though the UN denied responsibility for the outbreak. This was despite a report by its own experts in 2012 that showed that the spread of cholera downstream from the Nepalese soldiers’ camps was predictable and avoidable. It was only in 2016 that the UN finally accepted responsibility for starting the epidemic, though it claimed legal immunity and refused to pay compensation.

Compare the lack of interest shown by the international media, politicians and assorted celebrities to this man-made calamity, leading to the death of thousands of Haitians, to the hysterical outrage expressed about Oxfam officials consorting with prostitutes in Haiti in 2011. Though nobody died in the Oxfam sex scandal, it is described as “terrible” and “heart-breaking”, words normally reserved for tragedies such as the enslavement and rape of thousands of Yazidi women by Isis in Iraq.

It would certainly be better if the Oxfam aid workers did not use prostitutes, but how high does this really rate on the Richter scale of moral turpitude? Oxfam was discreet about the punishment of those involved, as are all organisations about in-house scandals, but suddenly the word “cover-up” is used, as though we were dealing with Richard Nixon disclaiming responsibility for the Watergate burglary. This coverage of a minor scandal systematically exaggerates wrongdoings and abandons any sense of proportion in order to discredit Oxfam as a whole.

Few commentators, though bellowing their shock and sense of moral outrage, bother to ask what Oxfam was doing in Haiti at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. This was when The Times and other organs critical of the Oxfam leadership should have been devoting more attention to monitoring the morals and behaviour of their local Oxfam representatives in the capital Port-au-Prince.

In fact, Oxfam was trying with some desperation to stem the cholera epidemic, the first outbreak of which was detected in central Haiti in October, from spreading further. By the following month, it had reached Port-au-Prince and Oxfam was trying to provide uncontaminated water to 315,000 people already rendered homeless by the earthquake. An Oxfam statement on 10 November describes how “Oxfam continues to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and activities in the camps/communities where we are working. A cholera strategy is being developed to guide our activities for at least the next three months. At this time, we are reinforcing our water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in camps where we already work in Port-au-Prince, and in Artibonite. We are currently reaching over 400,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, and another 100,000 individuals mostly through our emergency food security and vulnerable livelihoods (EFSVL) programmes.”

None of this is as titillating as the sort of thing we have been reading or watching over the last week about the sexual misconduct of Oxfam employees in Haiti, but these do seem to have kept a lot of people alive who would otherwise have died. Curiously, though foreign journalists and politicians claim concern about the alleged exploitation of Haitian sex-workers, few of them seem to have noticed that there was cholera epidemic raging in Haiti at the same time as the sex scandal.

Why has The Times story produced such a media feeding frenzy? The story has the attraction to press and television of being about those who take a superior moral tone, such as aid agencies or the churches, and who are then caught committing sins that other organisations might get away with. The public enjoys revelations showing moral giants to have much the same feet of clay as everybody else.

Aid agencies are easy to attack because there is usually a disparity between the way these officials live compared to the misery of those they are meant to assist. Sometimes, the disparity is grotesque as in the case of aid consultants in Kabul in 2010 who were earning between $250,000 (£178,000) and $500,000 in a country where 43 per cent of the population were living on a dollar a day. Yet such excessive salaries are rare and a more substantive charge is that aid agencies spend too much on administration.

Yet these reasons do not quite explain the lynch mob hysteria with which Oxfam is currently being attacked for what, in the middle of a cholera epidemic, were fairly minor failings. The explanation for this probably has more to do with the public and media mood in the wake of the allegations that the Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein harassed and assaulted women for decades, using his power to make or break their careers. The story was first printed in October last year and provoked a wave of accusations against men in senior positions who used their power to exploit women. The Haiti Oxfam story can be fitted into the same general picture of those in charge exercising their authority for sex, though the circumstances are very different.

In the post-Harvey Weinstein era it is difficult to defend Oxfam because all excuses sound self-serving and all episodes of sexual exploration tend to be regarded as equally grave. This obscures the degree of guilt and the gravity of the crime, though in the Oxfam villa in Port-au-Prince it is not even clear that there really was a crime.

The great 19th-century British historian Macaulay famously said that “we know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality”. The same could be said today of the Oxfam sex scandal in Haiti, but the word “frightening” should be substituted for “ridiculous” because the multiple sources of information – internet, television and press – have pumped up the speed with which there is a collective rush to judgement. This is made without regard to the evidence and is almost impossible to reverse once it has gained momentum.

It is doubtful that Oxfam will survive the scandal in its present form as it is being buried under so many imputations of guilt that people might well imagine that the organisation was being run by a combination of Harvey Weinstein and Jimmy Saville. Given Oxfam’s need for public and governmental financial support, it has probably – and to my mind unfairly – suffered a fatal wound. If it does go down then it will be a triumph for hypocrisy, in which pundits and politicians are destroying Oxfam for mistreating Haitians, about whose fate they suddenly express great concern, although few of them have even heard of the Haitian cholera epidemic Oxfam tried to stop.



Top Democrat suggests proof of Trump-Russia collusion still to come

While these latest indictments do not allege Trump’s team knowingly colluded, says Adam Schiff, that doesn’t mean later ones won’t

February 19, 2018

by Edward Helmore in New York

The guardian

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee suggested on Monday that Robert Mueller may still present evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite last week’s indictments stating that such connections relating to those cases were merely “unwitting”.

Adam Schiff, a frequent foe of Donald Trump’s whom the president called “the leakin’ monster of no control” at the weekend, told WNYC he felt that a web of collusion had already been established.

“It’s very clear from this 37-page indictment that this was a massive Russian operation and part of its design was to promote the campaign of Donald Trump,” Schiff said.

The indictment, he said, “tore any veneer off the argument that the Russians were not involved, and were involved for the purpose of helping him and hurting others.”

On Friday, Mueller’s office revealed that 13 Russians and three Russian entities, including one named the Internet Research Agency, had been indicted by a grand jury.

The allegations included claims that the Russians’ operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”

But the indictment did not allege that Trump’s team had knowingly colluded, only that Russian operatives “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign”.

Asked if he believed the investigation would claim “witting participation” with Russian by anyone working for the president, Schiff said it was clear that the president was aware of Russia’s hacking and dumping of documents because the intelligence community had said in October 2016 it was being carried out at Putin’s behest.

“Then-candidate Trump used this information on a daily basis to denigrate Hillary Clinton … and we know there were conversations about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton between very high levels of the campaign, including the president’s own son, son-in-law and campaign manager met in the secret meeting at Trump Tower where the Russians had offered to send someone out from Moscow … who was part of the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump.”

Schiff claimed the Russians communicated “something very similar” to George Papadopoulos, the former member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel who has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about contacts he had with the Russian government.

“What we don’t know is: what did Papadopoulos share with others in the campaign and what was the message that went back from the Trump tower to the Kremlin? ‘We’d love to have your help, although what you delivered at that meeting wasn’t useful’?

Schiff pointed out that “very shortly after that meeting was when the dumping of stolen documents first began”.

Trump initially greeted Mueller’s indictments with glee, claiming that the failure to charge anyone in his political orbit with collusion was an exoneration. But over the weekend, he launched a multi-target Twitter attack blaming Democrats for Russian meddling and claiming the investigations were playing into Moscow’s hands.

“They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

On Monday, Trump continued to taunt Democrats over their failure to block Moscow’s social media interference program, which Mueller’s indictment states began in 2014.

“Obama was president up to, and beyond, the 2016 election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”, Trump tweeted.

Schiff said it was important to realize that the indictments only covered “one facet of the Russian active measures campaign … the use of social media to try to motive people to get out and protest for or against different candidates.

“There was a whole different vector the Russian used. They hacked democratic institutions, they leaked stolen documents, and that’s not covered at all in this indictment.”

Schiff said there may be good reason why Mueller is choosing to separate aspects of his investigation, if indeed he is.

“The fact that he didn’t allege in one active and willing participation by the Trump campaign doesn’t mean he won’t in the other,” said Schiff.


Germany’s far-right AfD overtakes Social Democrats in poll

The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) has overtaken the Social Democrats (SPD) in a national opinion poll for the first time. The news comes as the SPD begins a crucial vote on a coalition with Angela Merkel.

February 19, 2018


A poll published on behalf of German tabloid Bild has found that 16 percent of voters would choose the right-wing, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), half-a-percent more than those who would vote for the Social Democrats (SPD).

The figures released by the INSA polling institute show theSPD in free fall. Germany’s oldest political party has seen its polling figures plummet even further since it garnered just 20.5 percent of the vote in September’s federal election, its worst result in the post-war era.

Bild described the survey “a bitter blow” for the SPD, while INSA chief Hermann Binkert said the poll showed that “the conservative bloc is currently the only truly mainstream party.”

The SPD’s seen known better days

The news will add to the Social Democrats’ woes, whose members on Tuesday will begin voting on whether to forge another “grand coalition” with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives .

However, the SPD leadership’s decision to pursue a coalition deal with Merkel has been the catalyst for its fall in support. Many in the SPD — and the party’s youth wing in particular — have warned against another coalition, arguing that the party must go into opposition to properly regroup.

Martin Schulz, who led the party to its worst election result in since 1945, stepped down as leader last week. The SPD will hope a change in leadership in the form of Andrea Nahles will give it a much needed boost.

Nahles is expected to be elected to the helm of the SPD at the next party congress on April 22.

Elsewhere, the poll saw Merkel’s Christian Democrats strengthen their lead at the top by two points to 32 percent.

The Greens retained a steady 13 percent, the Left Party saw its support fall to 11 percent and the Free Democrats (FDP) fell 1.5 points to 9 percent.

A total of 2040 citizens were interviewed for the survey from 16-19 of February.

Second poll disputes INSA findings

Pollsters from INSA, however, admitted that a poll of this size had to take into account a margin of era of at least 3 percent, placing doubts over the AfD’s narrow 0.5 percent lead over the SPD.

The Forsa Institute’s “Trend Barometer,” also published on Monday on behalf of German broadcasters RTIL and n-tv, found that the SPD was still second most popular party in Germany, albeit also with just 16 percent of the voter share.

The AfD, meanwhile, stil laid still a good way behind 13 percent of the vote. Merkel’s conservative bloc took 34 percent, while the Greens enjoyed 13 percent, the Left Party 10 percent and the Free Democrats 9 percent.


Germany seeks new spy satellites to get intel ‘independently from US’ – report

February 19, 2018


Berlin has launched a new satellite program for its intelligence service (BND) in an attempt to escape US influence in spying matters, Die Zeit daily reports. The project has already proven to be costlier than planned.

Germany plans to spend €400 million ($465 million) on two of the “latest-generation satellites” for its foreign intelligence service. The budget committee of the German parliament (Bundestag) already approved the financing of the costly project back in early November 2017.

The two reconnaissance satellites, which are now being constructed by the Bremen-based aerospace company OHB, are expected to be able to identify and capture images of objects as small as an A4 paper sheet. They are scheduled to be launched into orbit in 2022, where they will be able to keep an eye on “any place on Earth” within 24 hours, according to a “top secret” intelligence document obtained by Die Zeit.

The ambitious project is apparently aimed at making Berlin less dependent on Washington, as the German security services are said to rely heavily on satellite data provided by their US partners.

“The BND must be capable of obtaining information quickly and on autonomously in order to be able to provide independent up-to-date situation assessments,” Bruno Kahl, the head of the foreign intelligence service, told Die Zeit, justifying the need for the new satellites.

“It is sometimes not enough to receive information while depending on third parties, to buy visual imagery at a commercial market or to request it from international partners,” Kahl added.

The German daily claims that the 2013 NSA surveillance scandal could have played a role in Berlin’s policy shift. The fact that a US intelligence agency spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone could be one of the factors that allegedly prompted her to choose a more independent political course in the field of intelligence.

Since 2013, the BND has reportedly received a total of €1 billion in additional funding, aside from its regular budget. In 2016, the foreign intelligence was also asked to present its proposals for big investment projects in the field of intelligence. Some of the proposals involved developing new software for internet surveillance, but the Chancellor’s Office eventually opted for a new satellite program.

However, the project, called ‘Georg’ (a German acronym for the Secret Electro-optical Reconnaissance System Germany), has already turned out to be more expensive than initially planned. The BND reportedly said that the construction of the satellites alone would cost about €100 million more than the entire sum allocated for the project so far.

In the meantime, Berlin has rejected an idea of merging the expansive BND satellite program with a similar project from the German Army (Bundeswehr), which is now in the process of modernizing its own satellite arsenal, called the Synthetic Aperture Radar Altitude High or ‘SARah.’ The first new German military satellite is expected to be launched into space this year by US businessman Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket.

Sources justify the need for there being two separate projects by the BND and the army, which have “different interests” and different tasks. The BND satellites are still expected to be operated from a facility run by the German army.

Currently, the BND relies on data from the Bundeswehr, while further intelligence comes from purchasing data from foreign partner agencies. This notably included the joint project “Hiro” with the US. The project, which collapsed in 2010, envisioned launching three satellites 500 kilometers into space. The high-resolution images from the satellites were to be used for commercial interests and disaster prevention, as well as offering extra surveillance capabilities to the BND.


The secret on the ocean floor

by David Shukman

BBC News

In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.

It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.

Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.

It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.

But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch – the whole expedition was a lie.

This was a Cold War deception on a staggering scale, but one which also left a legacy that has profound implications nearly half a century later.

The real target of the crew on board this giant ship was a lost Soviet submarine. Six years earlier, the K-129 had sunk 1,500 miles north-west of Hawaii while carrying ballistic nuclear missiles.

The Russians failed to find their sub despite a massive search, but an American network of underwater listening posts had detected the noise of an explosion that eventually led US teams to the wreck.

It was lying three miles down, deeper than any previous salvage operation. The weapons and top-secret code books were surely beyond reach.

But in the struggle for military advantage, the sub represented the crown jewels – a chance to explore Moscow’s nuclear missiles and to break into its naval communications.

So the CIA hatched an audacious plan, Project Azorian, to retrieve the submarine. That would have been hard enough. But there was another challenge as well – it had to be done without the Russians knowing.

The spies needed to create a smokescreen so they pretended to be exploring the possibility of deep sea mining.

A PR campaign conveyed a determined effort to find manganese nodules. These potato-sized rocks lie scattered in the abyss, the great plains of the deep ocean.

There had to be a frontman – someone rich and eccentric enough to be plausible. The reclusive billionaire inventor Howard Hughes was perfect for the role.

He agreed to take part and, in his name, a unique ship was designed. Publicly, it was fitted with everything needed to dig up the seabed.

But, covertly, the Hughes Glomar Explorer was also built with ingenious devices straight from a Bond film. The ship’s hull had enormous doors that could swing apart to create a “moon pool”, an underwater opening large enough to accommodate the Soviet sub and keep it hidden.

Tucked away out of sight inside the ship was a “capture vehicle” which had a giant set of claws to straddle the sub and secure it.

It took until 1974, six years after the sinking of the sub, for the CIA to be ready. The cost of the project – $500m – was equivalent then to building a couple of aircraft carriers or launching an Apollo mission to the moon.

No-one had ever attempted anything on this scale in such incredible depths. The sub itself had a weight of nearly 2,000 tonnes but the three miles of thick steel pipe needed to haul it up added even more.

New systems were needed to keep the Glomar Explorer in position as well as to handle the huge load, and everyone on board was nervous. Dave Sharp, one of the few CIA figures happy to talk about the project, tells me it was “really frightening” when heavy seas threatened to tear their unusual vessel apart

But even more alarming was the suspicion of the Russians. To convince them that Howard Hughes was genuinely interested in nodules, executives were despatched to conferences on ocean mining where they described in detail their plans to harvest the rocks.

“We made ocean mining seem a lot more credible,” Sharp says. “We really misled a lot of people and it’s surprising that the story held together for so long.”

The cover was so good that it prompted US universities to move to start courses in deep sea mining and it also whipped up the share prices of the companies involved. “People thought, ‘if Howard Hughes is into it, we need to be too’,” says Sharp.

“We even collected a few nodules,” he remembers, which was fortunate because Soviet spy ships kept a constant vigil and once even came close enough to overhear the Americans’ conversations.

“When we realised they were right alongside, we started talking about nodules, like ‘here’s a good one’ so it looked like we were checking them.”

Yet another complication arose. The project needed calm weather and that was only likely in summer. But just when it was about to begin in summer 1974, US President Richard Nixon was visiting Moscow for a peace-making summit.

Being caught stealing a Soviet sub would not exactly have helped, so Nixon insisted that the operation could not begin until he had left Russia. That was on 3 July. By then the Hughes Glomar Explorer was in position and the winches whirred into action the next day.

Things did not go smoothly. Sharp recalls that pumps and connections kept breaking. Huge vibrations rocked the ship as the “capture vehicle” was “banging back and forth in the waves”. But on 30 July, he watched as underwater cameras relayed video of the sub as well as “dozens of crawling crab-like crustaceans” and a big white fish that looked like a shark.

Amazingly, the giant steel claws successfully seized the sub. But then disaster struck. At some point on the way up, the immense strain became too much, part of a claw snapped off and most of the sub slipped back to the seabed.

Only the front section made it up. The bodies of six Soviet submariners were recovered and were later given a formal burial at sea. But the missiles and code books were never found.

The CIA official history asserts that the operation was one of the greatest intelligence coups of the Cold War, but it had cost vast sums and questions immediately arose about its value. A year later, the sensational details became public and plans to recover the remaining section were abandoned.

As Sharp puts it, the revelation that the deep sea mining project was fake was “a sudden shock” to other mining companies and also to diplomats at the UN who were right in the middle of negotiating future rights to ocean minerals. Share prices tumbled amid a wave of recriminations.

This might have derailed the very notion of deep sea mining for good. But in fact it proved that with clever engineering and a lavish budget it was possible – just – to operate in the otherworldly depths. “It’s really difficult but we showed it could be done,” says Sharp.

In an air-conditioned cabin in a teeming port in Papua New Guinea, Leslie Kewa reaches for a joystick that will control a machine the size of a house. Nearly half a century after the CIA men pretended to mine the ocean floor, he’s about to do it for real.

A burly figure with a kindly face, Kewa is from a village in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea. In a country blighted by poverty, he grew up in relative comfort because his father, and the rest of the men in his family, made careers in the mining industry. Kewa became a specialist in handling gargantuan devices.

But the one standing nearby is unique, not only because of the destructive power of its whirling steel teeth, and its menacing resemblance to something from a Mad Max film, but also because it’s designed to be used far beyond human reach.

As Kewa’s fingertips send the first commands, and the machine crunches over the ground outside, he admits to feeling a bit scared.

In these first trials, he’s learning to steer by remote control, relying on CCTV to show him where the huge steel tracks are pointing as they inch their way forward. “I’m used to the feel of machinery in my hands so having to trust the equipment and the screens is hard,” he says.

But there’s no other option. The machine will soon be deployed not in the huge pits of an opencast mine on land but in the sunless depths a mile underwater on the ocean floor.

If work starts as planned next year, Kewa will earn himself a place in history as the first person to break rock in the world’s first deep sea mine.

Run by a Canadian firm, Nautilus Minerals, the project will be managed from a ship in the tropical waters of the Bismarck Sea off Papua New Guinea. Three of the vast machines will be lowered to the slopes of an undersea volcano.

There they will encounter a stretch of seabed covered in hydrothermal vents. These strange twisting chimneys are formed by boiling water blasting up from the rock.

As with most fields of vents, this one is astonishingly rich in valuable metals. The site is named Solwara 1 – “salt water” in the local language.

But the hydrothermal vents host thriving communities of marine life – snails, worms and shrimp that have evolved to cope with very specific conditions.

In some cases these creatures are extremely rare, which is why the prospect of deep sea mining is highly controversial.

The plan is for Kewa to guide the steel teeth of the mining machines so they methodically demolish the vents, pulverising them into fragments.

The tiny pieces of rock should then be small enough to be piped up to the surface. On board the ship, a processing plant will churn out a multitude of specks of copper and gold that could be worth billions. A Chinese firm has already agreed to buy the lot.

Once the riches of Solwara 1 have been extracted, the machines will be moved to another dozen sites lined up nearby.

On the sea floor the ores are massively richer than those on land. Every tonne of material dug up in a typical copper mine on land only yields less than a gram of actual metal.

By contrast, the hydrothermal vents off Papua New Guinea are at least ten times richer.

And it’s the same story with gold and many other metals too. A Japanese expedition to another set of vents off Okinawa discovered enough zinc to keep Japan supplied for an entire year. Those behind that project kept it quiet until it was over, causing real surprise in the mining industry.

Nautilus Minerals forecasts that in copper alone an emerging undersea industry in oceans around the world could be worth $30bn a year by 2030. And it claims that by mining a small area of seabed, the venture will be friendlier to the environment. It contrasts its work with mines on land where trees and topsoil are swept away across vast areas.

For the government of Papua New Guinea, the attraction is obvious – badly needed income as a partner in the venture. And Nautilus has agreed to funnel some of the proceeds to local administrations too, to let ordinary people benefit.

But the history of mining in Papua New Guinea does not inspire confidence. Millions still live well below the poverty line despite the massive extraction of ores from the mountains.

And for some, venturing into the sea spells danger for precious waters.


Syrian army to help Kurdish forces repel Turkish offensive in Afrin: reports

The Syrian regime and Kurdish forces have reportedly agreed to join forces in Afrin to counter an ongoing Turkish offensive. Syrian state media report that the deployment of pro-regime troops is imminent.

February 19, 2018


Damascus will deploy pro-government forces to Afrin to back Kurds against the Turkish offensive, Syrian state agency SANA reported on Monday morning.

The move aims to “support the steadfastness of its people in confronting the aggression which Turkish regime forces have launched on the region,” SANA said.

Syrian state television also announced that the deployment was imminent, without providing details.

The announcement raises the prospect of direct clashes between the Syrian regime and Turkey, which alongside rebel allies intervened a month ago against the Kurdish-held enclave in northwestern Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there would be “no problems” if the Syrian fighters were deployed to “cleanse” the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin.

But he said that if the regime defended the YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization linked to the PKK, then “nothing and nobody can stop us or Turkish soldiers.”

“This is true for Afrin, Manbij and the east of the Euphrates River,” Cavusoglu added, referring to Kurdish-controlled areas east of Afrin.

Erdogan and Putin to ‘cooperate in fight against terrorism’

The prospect of Syrian government forces deploying to Afrin triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking by phone with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.

The Syrian regime is backed by Russia and Iran, both of which also have been working with Turkey to reach a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.

Monday’s developments come a day after a senior Kurdish official told Reuters that the Kurds had reached a deal with Damascus.

Any agreement complicates the conflict in Northern Syria as rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States, Iran and Russia become more entangled.

What did Damascus and Kurds say about the deal?

Details of any deal have not been confirmed and Kurdish officials said negotiations are still underway

SANA said pro-government fighters known as “popular forces” would enter Afrin. Many popular forces are backed by Iran.

Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria, told Reuters that Syrian army troops would deploy along some border positions in the Afrin region. That echoes a previous call from the Kurds for the government to deploy along the border to protect Syria’s sovereignty.

Jia Kurd said the agreement with Damascus on Afrin was strictly military with no wider political arrangements, but added: “We can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of barbaric crimes and the international silence.”

Jia Kurd said there is opposition to the deal that could prevent it from being implemented.

YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters: “There is no agreement. There is only a call from us for the

Syrian army to come in and protect the borders.”

What is the Afrin conflict? Ankara and its rebel allies launched an air and ground offensive on the Afrin region on January 20 against the YPG militia. Turkey views the YPG as terrorists with links to PKK insurrection in Turkey.  The YPG is the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which controls about 25 percent of Syrian territory.

What does a possible deal mean? If the regime and Kurds cut a deal, it could lead to clashes with Turkey or force Ankara to halt its offensive. It is unlikely Turkey will want to clash with Iranian and Russian backed Syrian forces.

What is relationship between the Assad regime and Kurds?  In 2012, the regime handed control of parts of the north to the Syrian Kurds. The YPG and its allies have established three autonomous cantons in northern Syria that Turkey opposes. Despite occasional minor clashes, the regime and YPG have had a tacit relationship throughout the Syrian civil war. There may be a possibility for a long-term agreement between the two, but the Kurds want autonomy and Assad wants full control over the whole country, including oil and water resources now in Kurdish hands.

Why do the Kurds want help from the Syrian government? “Over the years of the conflict, the Kurds have managed to manoeuvre about, sometimes with the rebels, sometimes with the regime,” Bente Scheller from the Heinrich Böll Foundation told DW. “We also saw a long time back that not only the United States wanted to support them as a large international power, but Russia did too. So the Kurds looked for states and powers that support them because they have a lot at stake.”

Is the Kurdish-Syrian alliance a beneficial one? “I think in the case of Afrin at any rate,” said Scheller, “because there it is very clear that Turkey has decided it has to carry through with an offensive, and the Kurds are in a very difficult position here. Of course, they have support from the other Kurdish-dominated parts of Syria, but obviously they feel this is not enough. There have also been air raids by Turkey and I think this has resulted in their turning to the regime for help.”

How does the future look? “As the Syrian conflict escalates and becomes more complex, more individual states consider it necessary to intervene,” said Scheller. “Turkey claims it needs to clear all terrorist activity from the other side of its border, but this does not justify crossing the border with its own military … We are not likely to see peace for a long time.”

What happens next? Full details of the deal are yet to emerge. However, cooperation between the regime and YPG in Afrin could also be pivotal as to how the Syrian conflict unfolds further east in where the regime and SDF cooperate and compete, especially around oil-rich Dier ez-Zor.


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TBR News February 17, 2018

Feb 17 2018

Washington, D.C. February 17, 2018:” “A constant subject for the high-level intelligence people inside the Beltway is the progress of what is called ‘The Plan.’

This is a long-term program, formulated and implemented, by the far-right element in the government and eagerly supported by the so-called neo-cons.

The purpose of this program is to destabilize Russia, force Putin and his supporters out of office and replace them, as was done during the reign of the CIA-friendly Yeltsin, with persons friendly to the United States aims and, especially, friendly to US business interests.

Russia is in possession of a very large reservoir of natural resources from oil to gold and American interests very nearly had their controlling hands on all of this during the Yeltsin years but lost it when Putin got in control.

They hate his intractable nationalism and have done, and are doing, everything they can to discredit, defeat and eventually oust him.

A major part of The Plan has been to get physical control of countries surrounding Russia from the Baltic states to the ‘Stans and to ring Russia with American-oriented and friendly countries.

Putin, aware of this because of the obviousness of the plottings and also because of very high-level information leaks from Washington, responded and with deadly effect. Georgia was run by a domestic politician who was eccentric, egotistical but in the pocket of Washington, and who allowed American troops and their military equipment to pour into the country.

But two Georgian provinces, inhabited mostly by Russians, objected to the blatantly pro-West government in Tiblisi and protested.

Georgia’s answer was to threaten force and, with full American support, to mass Georgian troops on the borders of these provinces.

Putin responded by sending a Russian military strike force into the area in support of the break-away areas and this caused a two-fold retreat on the part of American supporters. The military units rapidly evacuated west to the Black Sea and US Naval evacuation while an army of CIA personnel fled in terror to the airport at Tiblisi to avoid capture. This demarche disillusioned a number of eastern European countries who then toned down their anti-Russian rhetoric and made pacific moves towards the Kremlin.

A very high-level Polish government contingent flying into Smolensk to confer with the Russians were destroyed when their aircraft, responding to faked ground signals at the fog-shrouded Smolensk airport, slammed into the ground, wiping out the top level Poles. The Russians did not destroy the Poles but American intelligence operatives did.

This pointless slaughter was designed to teach wavering cantonists a lesson.

And the so-called “Orange Revolution” in the Ukraine was entirely a CIA operation.

The government in that country was replaced with a pro-Western one and the Ukraine was then viewed in Washington as another country to stock with threatening American missiles and troops.

When the Ukrainians tired of the corruption that inevitably is attendant upon a pro-West government and eventually elected a pro-Russian president, the CIA predictably responded by fomenting civil strife in Kiev and when that appeared to be waning, had their surrogates start shooting at random into the crowd to stir up public anger.

Putin’s response was to occupy the Russian-populated Crimea, hold an election that overwhelmingly supported union with Russia and gained the important naval base at Sebastopol that the Ukraine had promised to the US Navy and, more important, the Crimean off-shore oil fields and a coastline that permitted an easier installation of the South Stream oil transmission line from Russian oil fields to southern Europe.

The fury of the balked intelligence and governmental organs in Washington has been monumental and because a restive Europe is presenting a disunited front in the dictated attacks on Russia, more pressure is being planned to further threaten and pressure Putin.

The oil-rich Arctic is a prime future battlefield selected by Washington to engage the Russians, but the latter hold most of the geo-political cards.

And attempts to economically isolate Russia can easily backfire and create economic chaos with America’s economic powers.

The Russians hold 118 billion dollars worth of US Treasury certificate and their tenative allies, the Chinese, hold one trillion dollars of the same certificates. Should these countries, against whom the United States has been conducting clandestine political warfare, ever decide to jointly dump these financial instruments, the collapse of the dollar as the leading international currency would create an economic crisis that could easily prove fatal to Washington.

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department usually uses water.”




Table of Contents

  • A New York Times Fairy Tale
  • George W. Bush doesn’t deserve the media’s efforts at rehabilitation
  • Bush White House Gay Sex Scandal Stars Jeff Gannon
  • Confluence of crises crashes Trump’s ‘Infrastructure Week’
  • The American far right arms itself for battle
  • The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences
  • Syria strikes back as Israel discovers its warplanes aren’t invincible
  • Hezbollah: Lebanon must be firm in Israel energy dispute
  • Hezbollah says U.S. must accept Lebanon’s demands over Israel border dispute
  • Israel against Hezbollah: Air Power Won’t Do It
  • Turkish army hit village in Syria’s Afrin with suspected gas: Kurdish YPG, Observatory





A New York Times Fairy Tale

by Jacob G. Hornberger

February 14, 2018


Frank Bruni, columnist for the New York Times, is outraged — outraged! — that people are comparing Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, to Ivanka Trump, the daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump. Both women are part of their respective governmental delegations to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. In his NYT column yesterday, Bruni expressed outrage that people would make such a comparison and, even worse, that they would actually compare North Korea and the United States. He believes that while North Korea is “rotten to the core,” America, under Trump, is only “in a rotten moment.”

Notice how Bruni conflates the government and the country in both North Korea and the United States. Like many North Koreans, who themselves are the victims of a state educational system, Bruni is obviously mentally unable to separate out the two entities. In his mind, the government and the country are one and the same, which leads him to conclude that “North Korea” is “rotten the core” while “America” is only experiencing “a rotten moment.”

That mindset obvious inures to the benefit of the U.S. government. If North Korea is “rotten to the core,” then it’s no big deal to kill everyone in North Korea should war break out there. They’re all commies. They’re all Reds. They’re all gooks. Carpet-bomb every town and city, like the U.S. government did in the Korean War. Inflict nuclear fire and fury over the entire nation. No American would need to be concerned because the whole country, including everyone in it, is “rotten to the core.”

The conflation mindset inures to the government in another way. If an American citizen criticizes or condemns actions of the U.S. government, that demonstrates that he hates “America,” given that the government and the country are supposedly one and the same. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that is also the mindset that the North Korean government has with respect to criticism of the North Korean government by North Korea citizens.

Bruni indignantly writes that “the United States is nothing like North Korea and to come anywhere near that suggestion is nuts.”

Really? Nothing like North Korea?

What about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare-state programs by which the U.S. government takes care of people? Isn’t that the essence of North Korea’s socialist economic system? Sure, there is no question that North Korea has a more complete welfare state than the United States has but isn’t that simply a difference in degree rather than principle? Isn’t the overall philosophy of North Korea’s socialist economic system the same as the overall philosophy of America’s welfare state: that it is the purpose of the state to take care of the citizenry and protect them from the vicissitudes of life?

Let’s not forget the system of state schooling in both nations, the vehicle by which both governments indoctrinate their citizens and mold their minds into conformity and obedience.

Of course, Bruni would say, “You’re wrong, Jacob. The government in North Korea uses public schooling to indoctrinate North Korean children, but here in the United States, public schooling is used only to educate children.”

Really? Then why do so many Americans thank the troops for protecting our “rights and freedoms” by killing people in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa when no one in those lands is trying to take away our rights and freedoms? Why did so many Americans (including, if memory serves me, NYT journalists) buy into the notion that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to “disarm Saddam” when it was patently clear that the invasion was simply the continuation of the regime-change operation that the 11 years of brutal U.S. sanctions against Iraq had failed to achieve? Why do so many Americans continue to believe that the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have brought “enduring freedom” to both countries?

If that’s not successful state indoctrination, I don’t know what is.

As an example of how rotten to the core North Korea is, Bruni points to the North Korean dictator’s purported assassination of his half-brother. His implication, of course, is that U.S. officials would never do something that heinous.

Really? Does he just block out of his mind that the U.S. government has a formal international assassination program, one that kills people on a regular basis without any due process of law? Does he also block out of his mind that that assassination program extends not just to foreigners but also to American citizens? Just ask the families of American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year old son, both of whom were murdered by U.S. federal assassins. Sure, Trump hasn’t killed a member of his family, but isn’t that a distinction without a difference? The fact is that in his one year in office, his Pentagon-CIA assassination team has already killed lots of people. Before him, President Obama could easily have referred to himself as the nation’s assassin-in-chief.

Bruni obviously has a difficult time processing the fact that the federal government has a formal assassination program, as evidenced by his outrage over candidate Trump pointing out to television host Joe Scarborough that “our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.” Bruni is terribly discomforted that Trump said that. Better to keep the truth unspoken.

Bruni points to North Korea’s mistreatment of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student who North Korean officials returned to the United States in a coma after serving about a year of a 15-year sentence for theft. That’s bad, but is it any worse than what the U.S. government has done to people at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at its torture-prison center at Guantanamo? Don’t forget, after all, that the U.S. prisoners at both facilities, including those who have actually been killed, were citizens of countries whose government never attacked the United States.

Of course, I could mention MKULTRA or even the state assassinations of Frank Olson, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Dorothy Kilgallen, or President Kennedy on grounds of “national security,” but I’m sure that that would be too much for Bruni’s mindset to process. So, I’ll just settle for the U.S. government’s role in the extra-judicial executions of American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi during the U.S.-instigated Chilean coup in 1973. I can’t help but wonder if Bruni is familiar with the official State Department memo, which was kept secret for many years, that detailed an official investigation that determined that U.S. intelligence had participated in those executions, with impunity. All that sure seems like more than a “rotten moment” to me.

In fact, it’s not just America’s welfare state that is similar, in principle, to North Korea’s socialist system. There is also the matter of the national security state, which, not surprisingly, Bruni doesn’t even mention.

Both North Korea and the United States are national-security states or “deep states.” They both have enormous, permanent military establishments that require massive amounts of money to fund. They both have secret intelligence agencies that engage in spying and surveillance, including on their own citizens.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way here in the United States, which I’ll bet Bruni doesn’t even realize. Like many Americans, his mindset undoubtedly is that the United States has always had the same governmental structure — i.e., three co-equal branches of government — and that nothing fundamental changed when the federal government was converted to a national-security state after World War II.

Need I mention the drug war? How can Bruni maintain that North Korea and the United States are different in that regard given that they both punish people severely for ingesting substances that the state disapproves of? Oh sure, North Korea’s punishments for drug law violations might be more severe but, again, that’s just a difference in degree, not in principle.

Maybe it’s also worth mentioning the U.S. government’s support of and partnership with foreign regimes that are every bit as tyrannical as that of North Korea. Egypt, Vietnam (another brutal communist regime just in case Bruni has forgotten), and Egypt come to mind. In fact, it’s probably also worth mentioning the brutal, tyrannical, corrupt regimes that the U.S. government has installed into power and trained, including in countries like Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Iraq, and Afghanistan. That sure seems rotten to me.

Bruni says that North Korea’s dictator “gleefully threatens to nuke other countries,” which makes him, in Bruni’s mind, a “homicidal fanatic.” You see, in the mind of a U.S. indoctrinated person, any ruler who threatens to deter or defend against a U.S. regime-change invasion of his country is obviously a “homicidal fanatic.” Any reasonable, sane foreign ruler would simply accede to any U.S. regime-change operation against his country, whether it by be coup, invasion, assassination, sanctions, or embargo.

Needless to say, Bruni would undoubtedly argue that Fidel Castro was also a “homicidal fanatic” because he invited the Soviets to install nuclear weapons in Cuba to deter another U.S. invasion of his country or to defend against another such invasion. Again, a foreign ruler is simply not supposed to do that. He’s supposed to agree to a U.S. invasion, war of aggression, assassination, or coup and stand down and obey orders. Otherwise, he will be treated as the “homicidal fanatic” that he obviously is. Equally important, any of his citizens who resist a U.S. war of aggression against their country will be treated as the terrorists they obviously are, like Iraqis were when U.S. forces illegally invaded their country (looking for those long-lost WMDs that the United States had provided Saddam Hussein in the 1980s to help him kill Iranians, who had had the audacity to oust the U.S.-installed tyrant the Shah of Iran, who the CIA had installed in 1953 in the process of destroying Iran’s democratic system).

What Bruni’s mindset prevents him from seeing is that it’s not North Korea and America that are rotten in the moment or rotten to the core. It is the North Korean government and the U.S. government that are both rotten in the moment and rotten to the core.


George W. Bush doesn’t deserve the media’s efforts at rehabilitation

February 15, 2018

by James Bovard

The Hill

“Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results,” former President George W. Bush declared in a presumably well-paid speech last week in the United Arab Emirates, a notorious Arab dictatorship. Bush is being exalted as if he is the second coming of George Washington thanks to his implied slams against the Trump administration. But Bush’s actions during his eight year reign did far more to ravage democracy at home and abroad than most people realize.

Thanks to gushing media coverage, Bush is enjoying one of the greatest comebacks in modern American history. In the summer of 2008, only 22 percent of Americans approved of Bush and 41 percent said he was the “worst president ever.” Last month, a poll showed that 61 percent of Americans now approve of Bush, and his support among Democrats quintupled, from 11 percent in early 2009 to 54 percent now. If Americans want to understand current political challenges, they need to recall Bush’s forgotten debacles.

Speaking in New York in October, Bush called for “a new, 21st century American consensus on behalf of democratic freedom and free markets.” But when he was president, Bush’s policies assumed that spreading democracy gave him a license to kill.

Shortly before he invaded Iraq in 2003, Bush assured a Washington think tank:

“The nation of Iraq — with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people — is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom.”

Though he invoked democracy to justify the war, U.S. military commanders three months after the fall of Baghdad “ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders,” the Washington Post reported. Many Iraqis were outraged to see Saddam’s former henchmen placed back in power over them. But, as Noah Feldman, the Coalition Provisional Authority’s law advisor, explained, “If you move too fast, the wrong people could get elected.”

The Bush administration only agreed to Iraqi elections after massive street protests demanding the right to vote. Bush reportedly authorized massive covert aid to pro-American Iraqi parties and politicians. However, when senior members of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi

were briefed on the plan, they vehemently objected. Bush canceled the formal plan but delivered covert aid anyhow, using back channels and undercover operators kept secret from Congress as well as the American public.

Iraq’s 2005 election was more akin to a Soviet Bloc referendum than a New England town meeting. As part of Operation Founding Fathers, American troops traveled around broadcasting a get-out-and-vote message at the same time they raided people’s homes. After soldiers passed out thousands of sample ballots, the top UN election official condemned U.S. military interference. Bush proclaimed the elections a “resounding success” but despite CIA handouts, pro-U.S. candidates were crushed by pro-Iranian parties. The animosities inflamed by the election campaign helped propel Iraq to civil war, which Bush invoked the following year to justify sending far more U.S. troops there.

Bush has recently fretted about Russian involvement in American elections but when he was president, Bush acted as if the United States was entitled to intervene in any foreign election he pleased. He boasted in 2005 that his administration had budgeted almost $5 billion “for programs to support democratic change around the world,” much of which was spent to tamper with foreign elections.

The Bush administration spent over $65 million to boost their favored candidate in the 2004 Ukraine election, including “helping to underwrite exit polls indicating he won a disputed runoff election,” according to the Associated Press. Yet, with boundless  hypocrisy, Bush proclaimed that “any (Ukrainian) election … ought to be free from any foreign influence.” The Bush administration rushed $2 million to aid the ruling Fatah party to help them thwart Hamas in a 2005 Palestinian election, to no avail. U.S. government-financed organizations helped spur coups in Venezuela in 2002 and Haiti in 2004. Both of those nations remain political train wrecks.

In his October speech, Bush boasted: “No democracy pretends to be a tyranny.” But as president, Bush acted as if ravaging the Constitution was part of his job description. Shortly after 9/11, Bush turned back the clock to before 1215 (when the Magna Carta was signed), formally suspending habeas corpus and claiming a prerogative to imprison indefinitely anyone he labeled a terrorist suspect. In 2002, Justice Department lawyers informed Bush that the president was entitled to violate the law during wartime — and the war on terror was expected to continue indefinitely. In 2004, Bush White House counsel Alberto Gonzales formally asserted a “commander-in-chief override power” entitling presidents to ignore the Bill of Rights.

Under Bush, the U.S. government championed barbaric practices which did more to destroy America’s moral credibility than all of Trump’s tweets combined.  Bush’s “enhanced interrogation” regime included endless high-volume repetition of a “Meow Mix” cat food commercial at Guantanamo, head slapping, waterboarding, exposure to frigid temperatures, and manacling for many hours in stress positions. After the Supreme Court rebuffed some of Bush’s power grabs in 2006, he pushed through Congress a bill that retroactively legalized torture — one of the worst legislative disgraces since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

In his October spiel, Bush also bemoaned: “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Coming from Bush, this had as much credibility as former president Bill Clinton

lamenting the decline of chastity. As the lies by which he sold the Iraq war became exposed, Bush resorted to vilifying critics as if they were traitors in a 2006 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

George W. Bush should have permanently taught Americans that presidents are most dangerous when seeking to con the nation into unnecessary wars — for democracy or any other pretext.  Unfortunately, the recent media consecration of Bush may be expunging that bitter lesson. It is possible to vigorously oppose Trump’s abuses without fomenting delusions about his predecessors.


Bush White House Gay Sex Scandal Stars Jeff Gannon

April 30, 2005

by Uri Dowbenko

The Bush White House gay sex scandal heats up, as new revelations show that fake reporter and male prostitute Jeff Gannon “slept over” on numerous occasions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Gannon had previously advertised his services on the internet as a male prostitute “top” at $1200 per weekend.

White House overnight trysts were not uncommon, according to Secret Service logs of Jeff Gannon’s White House entries and exits, requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) using the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

Since “Jeff Gannon” has given the term “media whore” a whole new definition, the question arises — could “Jeff Gannon” be President George Bush’s Lewinsky albeit in gay apparel?

White House logs furnished by the Secret Service show that fake reporter Jeff Gannon (a.k.a James Guckert) stayed overnight at the White House on many occasions – even when press conferences or briefings were not scheduled.

These records reveal that the White House is like a Gay Roach Motel — they check in but they don’t check out.

FOIA documents reveal that Gannon signed in on many occasions, but never signed out, reports John Byrne in an exclusive report on Raw Story http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/secret_service_gannon_424.htm

Gannon’s inexplicable access to the Bush White House as well as his shilling for GOP fake news outlet ‘Talon News’ (not to be confused with fake news by Jon Stewart of course) raises more questions about planted and paid-for Bushonian shills in the so-called mainstream media.

Gannon aka James Guckert appeared more than 200 times at the White House as a fake reporter in 2 years and attended 155 of 196 White House press briefings, reports Raw Story. Since Gannon was previously employed as a male prostitute, questions naturally arise regarding the nature of his overnight stays at the White House.

“On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing,” Raw Story continues. “Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.”

Who was Jeff Gannon servicing in the newly redecorated Gay Green Room?

The White House “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is obviously not working…


Confluence of crises crashes Trump’s ‘Infrastructure Week’

February 16, 2018

by Steve Holland and Roberta Rempton


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This was supposed to be “Infrastructure Week” for U.S. President Donald Trump, a time to unveil a long-promised plan to create jobs by revitalizing America’s roads and bridges.

Instead, the White House careened from crisis to crisis, with Trump’s chief of staff fighting for his job, a mass shooting at a school in Florida, a fierce immigration battle on Capitol Hill and a report that a former Playboy model had an affair with Trump over a decade ago.

It was capped by news that the office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with conducting an operation aimed at sowing political divisions and undermining democracy in the United States, including by meddling in the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Trump and his aides spent Friday behind closed doors after the charges were announced by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The president emerged late on Friday to go to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the weekend.

His itinerary originally included an infrastructure-related event at which he had planned to tout his record on creating jobs. It was canceled after 17 people were killed on Wednesday at a high school not far from his resort.

Traveling with Trump to Florida was his chief of staff John Kelly, who has been criticized for how he handled the case of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who has been accused of domestic violence by two former wives.

Porter resigned last week as a furor erupted over his working under a temporary security clearance that gave him access to classified information, in the absence of a final security clearance.

Kelly issued a memo to White House staff on Friday ordering tighter procedures for security clearances.

“Kelly has no credibility left with the staff,” said one Trump confidant from outside the White House who asked not to be identified.

Trump has been sounding out friends on potential Kelly replacements. Among possibilities are economic adviser Gary Cohn and Kevin McCarthy, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, the source said.

Release of Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal was overshadowed by the Porter controversy, then by a failed push in the U.S. Senate to overhaul immigration laws, and a scathing report from an inspector general investigation into travel expenses of senior officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Friday, New Yorker magazine reported that Trump had an affair with a former Playboy model at about the same time in 2006 that he was allegedly involved with an adult-film star.

The White House declined to comment on the story.

Trump and his wife, Melania, traveled separately to Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews for the flight to Florida, thus there were no photographs of them walking together to the Marine One helicopter on the White House South Lawn.

The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, attributed their separate arrivals at the base to a scheduling issue.

Trump extended a thumbs-up to reporters as he walked to the Marine One helicopter and ignored a flood of questions about the week that was.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Toni Reinhold


The American far right arms itself for battle

February 17, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The policy of current American far right groups, heavily supportive of President Trump and in full cooperation with his people, is to exacerbate latent racism in the United States to the point where public violence erupts and the political polarization of the public becomes manifest.

By encouraging and arming the far right and neo nazi groups, the so-called Scavenius group is laying the groundwork for an acceptable and militant government reaction, the institution of draconian control over the entire population and the rationale for national and official government control, all in the name of law and order.

It is planned that the far right and neo nazi groups eventually be taken into the law enforcement structure and used to put down any public demonstrations that the government deems to be a potential threat to their policies.

Who are these groups? Here is a listing of only some of them:

  • ACT for America
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Renaissance
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Nations
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • National Alliance
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Socialist Movement
  • National Vanguard
  • Oath Keepers
  • Stormfront
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade.
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • White Revolution

The basic plan of the planners is to supply activists neo-nazi groups in the United States with weapons smuggled into the US. These weapons originate with the Chinese firm, NORENCO, The China North Industries Corporation. This is a Chinese company, located at the Xicheng District, Beijing, China that manufactures civil and military firearms and ammunition.

The specific weapons involved in the arming of neo-nazi groups are the following:

  • Type 54, copy of TT-33 Pistol Model
  • Type 64, pistol
  • Type 77, pistol
  • NP50, copy of Smith & Wesson model 64
  • NP-216, 9x19mm revolver
  • QSZ-92 (Type 92), pistol NP-42, civilian export version of QSZ-92
  • NZ-75, copy of CZ 75 pistol NZ-85B, clone of CZ 85 pistol
  • NP-40, copy of CZ 85 pistol in .40S&W
  • NP-22 (rename by importer NP226 or NC226) a SIG Sauer P226 pistol first version copy NP-34 (rename by importer NP228 or NC228), copy of SIG Sauer P228 pistol
  • NP-56 45ACP, SIG Sauer P220 Rail pistol Copy in .45ACP
  • M-1911A1C, Combat Commander style pistol
  • NP-28, Colt M1911A1 copy in 9x19mm Parabellum with double-column magazine (10 rounds)
  • NP-44, Colt M1911A1 copy in .45 ACP with double-column magazine (14 rounds)
  • CQ, copy of M16A1 variant of M16 rifle
  • NR-08, sub machine gun (SMG), copy of Heckler & Koch MP5.
  • Type 56 Carbine, copy of Russian SKS semi-automatic rifle
  • Type 56 assault rifle, copy of AK-47 MAK-90, a civilian, semi-automatic version of the AK-47
  • NHM-90, 1994–2004 gun ban model, w/1.5mm stamped receiver, thumbhole stock, no bayonet lug, non-flashhider
  • Type 86S bullpup assault rifle
  • Type 87 (also known as QLZ87) 35 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL)
  • QBU-88 (Type 88), sniper rifle
  • QBZ-95 (Type 95), an assault rifle
  • Norinco-designed QBZ-95 rifle.QBB 95, a squad automatic weapon version of the QBZ-95
  • QBZ-97 (Type 97), a rifle,export version of QBZ-95 that uses 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition
  • QBZ-03 (Type 03), an assault rifle
  • NDM-86, a version of the Dragunov Sniper Rifle that fires .308 Win. ammo or traditional 7.62×54mmR depending on model
  • JW-25a, or TU-G33/40, patterned after G33/40.


Because of strict port security in Vancouver, the weapons are off-loaded in the Pacific, off the west coast of Vancouver Island, from a Chinese-flag container ship headed for the port city of Vancouver. The weapons are loaded onto commercial fishing vessels, very common in the area, who subsequently take them south to the Washington port of Tacoma. From there, they are driven by commercial trucks to the Boeing Field airport and placed on private aircraft for distribution to other American destinations.

It is to be noted that there is a strong Chinese presence in the Vancouver-Seattle area. In Vancouver, the Chinese population is over 400,000 and in Seattle they represent 4% of the population. All the smuggled weapons are handled by Chinese personnel until they are loaded onto the aircraft.

Funding for the weapons purchases does not come from the organizing entity but from a different source.

The payments are made via the manufacture and sale of counterfeit nazi period memorabilia. This project is funded initially from retrieved buried nazi concentration camp gold hidden in the mountains of southern Austria.

An expedition there in 2014 netted the American neo-nazi group almost $20,000,000 in gold bullion coins and jewelry. The gold and other treasure was buried by an SS general at the end of the war. The gold has been stored in the cellars of a prosperous commercial dealer in neo-nazi relics and used, as needed, to fund the weapons purchases.

There are two powerful agencies in the United States that are, or would be, involved with anti-government activities.

The existence of major FBI–CIA problems has always been refuted by both entities.

The FBI was an established agency prior to 1948 when the CIA was founded and as the latter expanded, it moved more and more into the FBI’s area of competence.

Eventually, after a period of intense rivalry and competition, an agreement was arrived at that mandated the FBI handle all domestic intelligence matters and the CIA did its work outside the United States.

This was an agreement observed more in the breach than the observance.

In the Scavenius plan, the CIA would subsequently be allowed to be the premier intelligence agency, doing both domestic and foreign intelligence work.

The FBI, greatly reduced in number and duties, would be relegated solely to criminal matters such as bank robberies and the removal of stolen automobiles across state lines.

This concept has been extensively discussed with persons close to the Presidency and the agreement is that the CIA would have both domestic and foreign intelligence on the condition that they liaised all projects with the White House prior to any execution.

The President has animosity towards the FBI whom he sees as an entity that is out to discredit him, his family and his plans.


The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will make us think that it is

by Steven Pinker

February 17, 2018

The Guardian

Every day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse and oppression. And it’s not just the headlines we’re talking about; it’s the op-eds and long-form stories as well. Magazine covers warn us of coming anarchies, plagues, epidemics, collapses, and so many “crises” (farm, health, retirement, welfare, energy, deficit) that copywriters have had to escalate to the redundant “serious crisis.”

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.

News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a journalist saying to the camera, “I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out”— or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as bad things have not vanished from the face of the earth, there will always be enough incidents to fill the news, especially when billions of smartphones turn most of the world’s population into crime reporters and war correspondents.

And among the things that do happen, the positive and negative ones unfold on different timelines. The news, far from being a “first draft of history,” is closer to play-by-play sports commentary. It focuses on discrete events, generally those that took place since the last edition (in earlier times, the day before; now, seconds before).

Bad things can happen quickly, but good things aren’t built in a day, and as they unfold, they will be out of sync with the news cycle. The peace researcher John Galtung pointed out that if a newspaper came out once every 50 years, it would not report half a century of celebrity gossip and political scandals. It would report momentous global changes such as the increase in life expectancy.

The nature of news is likely to distort people’s view of the world because of a mental bug that the psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman called the Availability heuristic: people estimate the probability of an event or the frequency of a kind of thing by the ease with which instances come to mind. In many walks of life this is a serviceable rule of thumb. But whenever a memory turns up high in the result list of the mind’s search engine for reasons other than frequency—because it is recent, vivid, gory, distinctive, or upsetting—people will overestimate how likely it is in the world.

Plane crashes always make the news, but car crashes, which kill far more people, almost never do. Not surprisingly, many people have a fear of flying, but almost no one has a fear of driving. People rank tornadoes (which kill about 50 Americans a year) as a more common cause of death than asthma (which kills more than 4,000 Americans a year), presumably because tornadoes make for better television.

The data scientist Kalev Leetaru applied a technique called sentiment mining to every article published in the New York Times between 1945 and 2005, and to an archive of translated articles and broadcasts from 130 countries between 1979 and 2010. Sentiment mining assesses the emotional tone of a text by tallying the number and contexts of words with positive and negative connotations, like good, nice, terrible, and horrific.

Putting aside the wiggles and waves that reflect the crises of the day, we see that the impression that the news has become more negative over time is real. The New York Times got steadily more morose from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, lightened up a bit (but just a bit) in the 1980s and 1990s, and then sank into a progressively worse mood in the first decade of the new century. News outlets in the rest of the world, too, became gloomier and gloomier from the late 1970s to the present day.

The consequences of negative news are themselves negative. Far from being better informed, heavy newswatchers can become miscalibrated. They worry more about crime, even when rates are falling, and sometimes they part company with reality altogether: a 2016 poll found that a large majority of Americans follow news about Isis closely, and 77% agreed that “Islamic militants operating in Syria and Iraq pose a serious threat to the existence or survival of the United States,” a belief that is nothing short of delusional.

Consumers of negative news, not surprisingly, become glum: a recent literature review cited “misperception of risk, anxiety, lower mood levels, learned helplessness, contempt and hostility towards others, desensitization, and in some cases, … complete avoidance of the news.” And they become fatalistic, saying things like “Why should I vote? It’s not gonna help,” or “I could donate money, but there’s just gonna be another kid who’s starving next week.”

Relentless negativity can have other unintended consequences, and recently a few journalists have begun to point them out. In the wake of the 2016 American election, the New York Times writers David Bornstein and Tina Rosenberg reflected on the media’s role in its shocking outcome:

Trump was the beneficiary of a belief— near universal in American journalism—that “serious news” can essentially be defined as “what’s going wrong.” … For decades, journalism’s steady focus on problems and seemingly incurable pathologies was preparing the soil that allowed Trump’s seeds of discontent and despair to take root. .. One consequence is that many Americans today have difficulty imagining, valuing or even believing in the promise of incremental system change, which leads to a greater appetite for revolutionary, smash-the-machine change.

Bornstein and Rosenberg don’t blame the usual culprits (cable TV, social media, late-night comedians) but instead trace it to the shift during the Vietnam and Watergate eras from glorifying leaders to checking their power—with an overshoot toward indiscriminate cynicism, in which everything about America’s civic actors invites an aggressive takedown.

It’s easy to see how the Availability heuristic, stoked by the news policy “If it bleeds, it leads,” could induce a sense of gloom about the state of the world. Media scholars who tally news stories of different kinds, or present editors with a menu of possible stories and see which they pick and how they display them, have confirmed that the gatekeepers prefer negative to positive coverage, holding the events constant.

That in turn provides an easy formula for pessimists on the editorial page: make a list of all the worst things that are happening anywhere on the planet that week, and you have an impressive-sounding—but ultimately irrational—case that civilization has never faced greater peril.


Syria strikes back as Israel discovers its warplanes aren’t invincible

February 16, 2018

by Rania Khalek


Israel has long been the unchallenged bully in the Middle East, but now Tel Aviv will face consequences for its temper tantrums. That was the message from Damascus last weekend when the Syrian army shot down an Israeli F-16.

The dramatic escalation happened as Israel claimed one of its warplanes was in Syrian airspace to intercept an Iranian drone that had been operating in Israeli territory. But, in reality, the Iranian drone was intercepted in the Golan Heights, which is Syrian land that has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.

Of course, this didn’t stop major western publications like the Wall Street Journal from referring to the Golan as “Israeli airspace.” Nevertheless, the mainstream media was left in disbelief by the incident—the New York Times, for example, was startled to discover that “Israeli jets aren’t invincible.”

As usual, Israel painted itself as a victim of irrational Arab aggression. However, in fact, Syria was clearly acting in self-defence against repeated Israeli violations of its sovereignty.

Even the head of the Israeli Air Force Air Division confessed that his country has carried out “thousands of operations in Syria” in the last year alone. This fact was missing from most mainstream news accounts, which portrayed Israel as a non-interventionist bystander in the Syrian conflict. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only has Israel repeatedly bombed Syrian government installations, it has also armed Jihadist rebel groups in the Golan Heights, coordinated with Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate against government forces and provided medical treatment to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked rebels before sending them back into battle.

Muddying Waters

Support for Al-Qaeda in Syria serves two strategic purposes for Tel Aviv. One reason is to weaken Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese political party that defends Lebanon’s borders from Israel and Salafi Jihadist groups alike. The second purpose is to solidify its takeover of the Golan.

Don’t take my word for it, Israeli officials have said as much. The former head of Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) admitted to Al Jazeera that Israel provides medical treatment to Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria. And, since 2012, the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the peacekeeping mission responsible for monitoring the 1974 ceasefire line between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights, has documented dozens of interactions between the Israeli army and Syrian insurgents. On top of that, there are Syrians who defected from the Free Syrian Army after discovering the relationship between Israel and the rebel groups in the Golan.

For people living in the region, the downing of Israel’s F-16 felt like long-overdue retaliation, while Tel Aviv tried desperately to paint the escalation as a fight with Iran. But it was Damascus, not Tehran which downed the fighter jet in a deliberate calculation, which was not made lightly. This was, after all, the first time since 1982 that Syria has shot down an Israeli plane.

The leadership in Damascus has warned time and again that it would eventually respond to Israeli aggression, and it finally did, sending a message that Israel cannot continue to violate Syria’s sovereignty without a response.

Israel responded by striking what it called Iranian bases and claiming to have wiped out most of Syria’s air defenses. But, according to the Syrian government, Israel struck bases from which Syria and its allies target Al-Qaeda in Idlib, essentially making Israel into Al-Qaeda’s air force.

After years of western attempts to overthrow the Syrian regime, one thing is clear: the Syrian state has remained intact and is winning the war, having retaken almost all of the territory it lost to rebel groups that were armed and funded by western and gulf states. The Syrian state has been able to take back territory due in large part to assistance provided by its allies, particularly Russia.

The next war

There will eventually be a showdown between Israel and Hezbollah. But the rules of the game have changed dramatically in Hezbollah’s favor since the two last fought. In the 2006 war, Hezbollah gave Israel a bloody nose but Lebanon was devastated in the process. In any future war, Hezbollah will be able to do far more damage to Israel. The organization is much stronger, far better armed and is able to carry out offensive maneuvers after gaining extensive battlefield experience against jihadists in Syria. Also, any future war with Israel will likely include the involvement of Hezbollah’s allies in Syria and Iraq, transforming what would otherwise be a local conflict into a regional one.

Israel is afraid to test these waters, so, for the time being, the Israelis are not interested in a hot war with the group. After all, it was the Syrian army that downed the plane using Russian anti-aircraft S-200s. Russia’s involvement in Syria complicates Israel’s ambitions as Israel cannot go to war with Russia. Moreover, Israel does not have the same backing as usual from its American benefactors. While there are almost no limits on the amount of aggression Israel can inflict on Palestinians, Syria is a far more complicated battlefield involving major world powers.

Both the US and Russia have personnel on the ground in Syria–the US is supporting the Syrian “Democratic” Forces, while Russia is backing the government. Turkey, a member of NATO, has troops occupying areas of northern Syria and is fighting the Kurds in Afrin. Meanwhile, Iran has advisers on the ground assisting Syrian government forces against Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. This month, a Turkish helicopter was shot down by the US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria, a Russian plane was downed by Jihadists in Idlib, an Iranian drone was blown up by Israel, an Israeli F-16 was destroyed by Syria, and the US has claimed it killed up to 100 pro-government forces in airstrikes near Deir Ezzor.

Thus, if Israel escalates the situation in Syria, too much can go wrong. And judging from the State Department’s weak words of support for Israel in the aftermath of the F-16 crash, the US does not seem interested in backing an Israeli war at this time because it risks a hot war with Russia and undermines the ongoing fight against ISIS, which is an American priority.

However, Israel fears Hezbollah’s growing strength and Iran’s growing influence as a threat to its regional hegemony—a concern shared by its Saudi and American counterparts—and will continue its provocations in Syria in an effort to counter what it sees as a growing Iranian presence next door. There are also domestic Israeli considerations that may influence their actions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently facing a corruption probe and potential indictment, which has saturated the Israeli press and has led to protests against him.  Of course, war can serve as an excellent distraction under such circumstances.

At the same time, Damascus has warned it will no longer take acts of Israeli aggression lying down, demonstrating that after seven years of attempted regime change in Syria by western powers, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah–known by their many supporters in the region as “the resistance axis” for their role in challenging western imperialism—are in a position of strength. And they are on a collision course with Israel.


Hezbollah: Lebanon must be firm in Israel energy dispute

Lebanon’s Hezbollah has escalated the Mediterranean race for offshore gas and oil, threatening Israel and saying America is “not an honest broker.” At issue is Lebanon’s offshore search, which is disputed by Israel.

February 17, 2018


Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Iranian-backed movement Hezbollah, urged Lebanon’s government Friday to stand firm against Israel, with force if necessary, to assert access to an anticipated energy windfall.

Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus skirt the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, where big sub-sea gas fields have been identified since 2009. Israel and Cyprus agreed on maritime boundaries in 2010.

“This is Lebanon’s wealth and hope,” Nasrallah said, referring to Lebanon’s otherwise weak economic growth and high debt-to-earnings ratio, and adding that the US was “not an honest broker.”

If you [Israel] prevent us, if you bomb us we will bomb you, and if you hit us we will hit you,” said Nasrallah in televised remarks from a Hezbollah rally.

His threat follows further rumblings from Israel and Thursday’s visit to Beirut by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said Lebanon also stood to prosper from natural resources development “in agreement with all its neighbors.”

Offshore exploration tenders granted

An energy consortium, comprising France’s Total, Italy’s ENI and Russia’s Novatek, last month won a tender from the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) to begin drilling offshore next year in two blocks, including one disputed by Israel.

Since last week, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield has been meeting with officials in Lebanon on the issue.

Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri on Friday said a Lebanese-Israeli maritime border should be determined by a committee, similar to one that produced the UN-demarcation Blue Line Border used to guide Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

Late last month, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described as “very provocative” Lebanon’s call for offshore exploration tenders, saying participating firms would be making a “grave error.”

“This is very, very challenging and provocative conduct here,” Lieberman told an international security conference in Tel Aviv.

Mediterranean exploration accelerated

Total has said its first drill will avoid the Israeli-disputed “Block Nine,” saying that one covered only 8 percent of Lebanon’s total offshore exploration area.

It comprises Lebanese coastline waters as well as its larger maritime Exclusive Economic Zone of 22,700 square kilometers (8,765 square miles) further offshore.

The Lebanese Petroleum Administration has delineated 10 blocks in all, spanning the Mediterranean seabed that lies up to 2,064 meters (6,770 feet) below the surface.

Eastern Mediterranean nations, including Cyprus, have accelerated exploration in recent years, spurred further by ENI’s discovery of Egypt’s Zohr gas field far off Port Said in 2015. Production began last December.

Last week, Turkish warships blocked an Italian drilling vessel seeking to begin drilling for gas off Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish north and a Greek south since 1974. The internationally recognized government is on the Greek Cypriot side. Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway north.


Hezbollah says U.S. must accept Lebanon’s demands over Israel border dispute

February 16, 2018


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Friday the United States must accept the Lebanese government’s demands over border disputes with Israel and vowed it was ready to act against Israel if necessary.

U.S. diplomats have been mediating between the two countries after a surge in tensions over a border wall which Israel is building and Lebanon’s decision to explore for offshore energy near disputed waters.

Earlier on Friday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told a U.S. envoy that Lebanon rejects current U.S. proposals over the marine border with Israel.

“The state must have a strong and firm position,” said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed political and military movement, in a televised speech at a rally.

“If the Americans come and say you must be responsive so that I restrain Israel from you: tell the Americans they must accept (Lebanon‘s) demands so that we hold Hezbollah back from Israel,” he added.

Nasrallah said the main issue currently at stake was Lebanon’s maritime borders.

“In the oil and gas battle, the only power (the Lebanese) have is the resistance,” he said, in a reference to the heavily armed, Shi‘ite Muslim Hezbollah.

The Lebanese army could not stop Israel in this matter, he said, because the United States – Israel’s key ally and also a key supporter of Lebanon’s military – would stand in its way.

“If Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council were to decide that (Israeli) offshore oil and gas plants…should be forbidden from working, I promise they would stop working within hours,” he said.

Nasrallah spoke in a televised address at a rally commemorating senior commanders, including former military leader Imad Moughniyah who was killed in a bomb blast in Damascus in 2008.

Hezbollah was formed in the 1980s as a resistance movement against Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon and the two remain bitter enemies. There has been no major conflict between them since a month-long war in 2006.

In recent years, Israeli jets have repeatedly struck Hezbollah arms stores and convoys in neighbouring Syria, where the group fights alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army.

Reporting by Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky


Israel against Hezbollah: Air Power Won’t Do It

by Philip H. Gordon,  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Brookings Institute

Military historians have a name for the logic behind Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon. It’s called the “strategic bombing fallacy.” Almost since the dawn of the age of military air power, strategists have been tempted by the prospect that the bombing of “strategic” targets such as infrastructure and transportation hubs could inflict such pain on a population that it would turn against its leaders and get them to surrender or compromise.

Unfortunately — as the United States itself discovered during World War II and Vietnam, to cite just two examples — strategic bombing has almost never worked. Far from bringing about the intended softening of the opposition, bombing tends to rally people behind their own leaders and cause them to dig in against outsiders who, whatever the justification, are destroying their homeland.

The history of perennial overoptimism about air power is worth keeping in mind as we consider some of the arguments heard in Jerusalem and Washington that the Israeli bombing campaign will put Hezbollah out of business or somehow lead the Lebanese people and army to turn against it. According to retired Israeli army Col. Gal Luft, the goal of the campaign is to “create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters.” The message to Lebanon’s elite, he said, is this: “If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land.”

The theory is almost as neat as those that postulated that an American show of force in Iraq would bring peace and democracy throughout the region — but it is even less realistic. The issue is not whether Hezbollah is responsible for this crisis — it is — or whether Israel has the right to defend itself — it does — but whether this particular strategy will work. It will not.

It will not render Hezbollah powerless, because it is simply impossible to eliminate thousands of small, mobile, hidden and easily resupplied rockets via an air campaign. And it will not lead the weak Lebanese government to confront Hezbollah, because the civilian casualties caused by Israel’s bombing are infuriating the Lebanese population and providing fodder for Israel’s enemies throughout the Muslim world.

Perhaps recognizing that an air campaign alone might not bring about the desired effects, some have been calling on Israel to launch a ground invasion. What is less clear is why an Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon now would be any more successful than the one carried out in 1982, which led to the creation of Hezbollah, a bloody 18-year occupation and, ultimately, to Israeli withdrawal. Again the strategy seems to be based more on hope than on experience.

What is striking about all this wishful thinking on Lebanon is that it is being promoted by many of the same people most closely associated with the wildly misplaced optimism about the effects of the use of force in Iraq. The theory behind that invasion was that an American show of force to remove Saddam Hussein would so impress the region’s populations (and frighten its dictators) that it would produce a chain reaction of democratization all the way to Palestine. Critics who worried that Iraqis would quickly come to resent and challenge the seemingly all-powerful American occupiers — or that outside actors such as Iran or Syria would seek to undermine Iraq’s stability — were accused of an almost un-American historical pessimism. That Iraq is now plagued with a violent insurgency and putative civil war suggests that the pessimists’ arguments might have deserved a greater hearing.

Proponents of strategic bombing in Lebanon acknowledge that it is not sufficient in itself to deal with the Hezbollah threat, and they point out — rightly — that Iran and Syria are the real instigators of the trouble. But it is one thing to say that, and quite another to explain just how Israel and the United States are supposed to go about eliminating the Iranian and Syrian problems. Invasions or airstrikes with the purpose of installing stable, pro-Western democracies would not seem a great bet in light of recent experience.

Those calling on Israel or the United States to use force against Lebanon, Syria and Iran legitimately ask what the alternatives to decisive action are. But they asked the same question about Iraq, and they seemed to overlook the possibility that a bad situation can be made even worse.

Given the long odds against Israeli or U.S. bombing campaigns actually producing the desired effects, a more focused and sustained strategy of proportional retaliation, increased support for the Lebanese government, international pressure on Iran and incentives for Syria to end its support for Hezbollah would seem a better approach than another wild throw of the dice.


Turkish army hit village in Syria’s Afrin with suspected gas: Kurdish YPG, Observatory

February 16, 2018


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian Kurdish forces and a monitoring group said the Turkish military carried out a suspected gas attack that wounded six people in Syria’s Afrin region on Friday.

There was no immediate comment from the Turkish military, which has previously denied accusations of hitting civilians in its Afrin operation.

Birusk Hasaka, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin, told Reuters that Turkish bombardment hit a village in the northwest of the region, near the Turkish border. He said it caused six people to suffer breathing problems and other symptoms indicative of a gas attack.

Turkey launched an air and ground offensive last month on the Afrin region, opening a new front in the multi-sided Syrian war to target Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters that Turkish forces and their Syrian insurgent allies hit the village on Friday with shells. The Britain-based war monitoring group said medical sources in Afrin reported that six people in the attack suffered breathing difficulties and dilated pupils, indicating a suspected gas attack.

Syrian state news agency SANA, citing a doctor in a Afrin hospital, said Turkish shelling of the village caused choking in six people.

On Feb. 6, the United Nations called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria.

Since the onset of the conflict in 2011, the YPG and its allies have set up three autonomous cantons in the north, including Afrin. Their sphere of influence expanded as they seized territory from Islamic State with U.S. help, though Washington opposes their autonomy plans as does the Syrian government.

U.S. support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria has infuriated Ankara, which views them as a security threat along its frontier. Turkey sees the YPG as terrorists and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil.

Reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut and Rodi Said in northern Syria; Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Editing by Toni Reinhold



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