TBR News August 1, 2019

Aug 01 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. August 1, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for August 1 :” Trump is now ragging the Chinese, threatening tariffs on their products. What Fat Donald does not seem to comprehend is that China produces most of the products sold in American retail stores. What he does not realize is that his stupid spite against China will do damage not only to their economy but ours as well. Trump will change what passes for his mind and go back to screeching about his wall. And the week after that, he will be busy infuriating the American drug industry by threatening to allow import of cheaper Canadian drugs. Eventually, he will no doubt insist that Americans get rid of their pets because the pet food company doesn’t pay him bribes.”



The Table of Contents

  • A Political 100-Year Flood
  • FBI’s facial recognition program hits ‘full operational capability’
  • New FBI facial recognition technology
  • Do You Still Have to Register for the Draft?
  • The World’s Water Crisis
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons


A Political 100-Year Flood

Trump’s Venom Against the Media, Immigrants, “Traitors,” and More Is Nothing New

by Adam Hochschild

Tom Disptch

Along rivers prone to overflowing, people sometimes talk of preparing for a 100-year flood — a dangerous surge of muddy, debris-filled water so overwhelming it appears only once a century.

In our political world, we are now seeing a 100-year flood of toxic debris. The sludge washing ashore includes President Trump’s continuing cries of “fake news!” and “traitors”; his rage at immigrants and refugees; his touting of an “invasion” at the southern border; and his recent round of attacks on “the squad,” four young congresswomen of color who, he raged, should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” (Three of them, of course, were born in the United States.) When he talked about the fourth, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a legal immigrant from Somalia, the inflamed crowd at his July 17th reelection rally in North Carolina began spontaneously chanting, “Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!”

Donald Trump, of course, has a long history of disliking people of color, going back to the days when he and his father tried to keep them out of their New York real estate dynasty’s apartment buildings. Presidents, however, usually find it politic to keep such feelings under wraps. Nonetheless, Trump’s particular brand of xenophobia, racism, and media hatred isn’t completely unprecedented. The last time we had a similar outpouring from Washington was almost exactly 100 years ago and it, too, involved a flood of angry rhetoric and a fear of immigrants — and it included repression on an enormous scale.

Fear of Immigrants, 1917 Version

The 100-year flood I’m thinking of lasted for three violent years during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson — from early 1917 to early 1920. Except for lynchings in the Jim Crow South, it would prove to be the harshest burst of political repression and fear-mongering in either twentieth- or twenty-first-century America. It began suddenly when the U.S. entered the First World War in support of England and France and against the Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Schools, colleges, and universities abruptly stopped teaching the “Kaiser’s tongue” — a move loudly backed by the ever-strident former president Theodore Roosevelt. Iowa forbade the use of German over the telephone or in public. In Shawnee, Oklahoma, a crowd burned German books to mark the Fourth of July. German music being out, marriages took place without Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.” Berlin, Iowa, changed its name to Lincoln. Chicago’s Bismarck Hotel became the Hotel Randolf. Families named Schmidt became Smith and Griescheimer, Gresham. The hamburger became “the liberty sandwich.” German shepherds were redubbed Alsatian shepherds.

My grandfather was a Jewish immigrant from Germany and spoke German with his children. Now, however, they were terrified to do so on the street. In his twenties at the time, my father desperately tried to get into the Army, for a uniform was obvious protection from mob violence — and violence there was. In Collinsville, Illinois, for example, a crowd seized Robert Prager, a coal miner, and lynched him because he had been German-born. (He had tried to enlist in the Navy, but was turned down because of his glass eye.) In Washington, when a man failed to stand up as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played, a sailor right behind him shot him dead.

Congress rushed the draconian Espionage Act to a vote two months after the country entered the war. It outlawed anything that would “cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military.” There was, however, not the slightest danger of mutiny among American troops sent to the Western Front in France. Many were so eager to fight that their commanders found gung-ho rear-area soldiers “deserting to the front.” Nor was there much danger of espionage. In those years, only 10 people would be charged under the Act with being German agents.

The president who oversaw this particular 100-Year Flood was no Donald Trump, not in his manner anyway. Rabid invective was hardly Woodrow Wilson’s style. He carefully kept his image as an above-the-fray idealist by outsourcing inflammatory rhetoric to others, such as his special emissary to Russia, Elihu Root.

A corporate lawyer and former secretary of war, secretary of state, and senator from New York, Root would prove the prototype of the “wise men” who moved between Wall Street and Washington to form the twentieth-century foreign policy establishment. “Pro-German traitors” were threatening the war effort, Root declared to an audience at New York’s Union League Club in August 1917. “There are men walking about the streets of this city tonight who ought to be taken out at sunrise tomorrow and shot for treason… There are some newspapers published in this city every day the editors of which deserve conviction and execution for treason.”

Fake news indeed! The actual bullying of those newspapers Wilson left to Postmaster General Albert Sidney Burleson, of Texas. The Espionage Act gave the Post Office great powers over the press. Newspapers were censored, editors jailed, and publications shut down, most famously Max Eastman’s The Masses, the Greenwich Village radical monthly that was one of the liveliest magazines this country has ever seen. Some 75 newspapers and periodicals either had specific issues banned or were forced to close entirely.

As today on the U.S.-Mexico border, vigilante groups sprang up across the country. The largest was the American Protective League, an official auxiliary of the Justice Department, which even enjoyed the franking privilege of sending mail for free. With a membership that swelled to 250,000, its ranks were filled with men too old for the military who still wanted to do battle, at home if not abroad. So they regularly broke up antiwar meetings and, by the tens of thousands, beat up or made citizens’ arrests of suspected draft dodgers.

Such was the frenzy in the air that two policemen in Guthrie, Oklahoma, hearing a man reading something aloud that spoke of abuses and oppression, promptly arrested him. When he protested that it was the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, one cop responded: “Okay, where is this Jefferson? We want him, too!” When a leftist student at Rutgers University refused to speak at a rally to sell war bonds, he was stripped, blindfolded, covered with molasses and feathers, and paraded through town behind a sign that read: “This is what we do with pro-Germans!”

People who opposed the war were prosecuted by the hundreds. Among them were anarchist firebrand Emma Goldman and her comrade Alexander Berkman, put on trial for organizing against the draft. In court, addressing the “gentlemen of the jury,” Goldman asked, “May there not be different kinds of patriotism as there are different kinds of liberty?” Her own American patriotism, she explained, was like that of “the man who loves a woman with open eyes. He is enchanted by her beauty, yet he sees her faults.” The jury found her guilty and the pair was sentenced to two years in prison. “It took a world war,” the Wall Street Journal declared, “to put Goldman and Berkman where they should have been years ago.”

As in the age of Trump, deportation was used as a political weapon. The search for radicals who had never bothered to become American citizens lay behind the seizure of thousands of people in the notorious Palmer Raids orchestrated by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. The government then deported as many of them as they legally could. Goldman and Berkman, for example, were among 249 deportees loaded onto a decrepit former troopship and sent off to Russia.

The ferocity of the moment was so extreme that people were prosecuted for things they said in private. Charles Schoberg, for example, was a 66-year-old cobbler in Covington, Kentucky. Although German-born, he had lived in the United States since childhood and had been both a police officer and city council member. In the spring of 1918, a suspicious local vigilante group, the Citizens Patriotic League, hired a private detective to put a microphone in his shoe shop. An eavesdropping detective, listening in from a nearby building, picked up Schoberg and two friends making sour and critical remarks to each other about the U.S. armed forces. A typical comment was “You can’t hold the Germans back” — not an unreasonable observation at a moment when the Kaiser’s rapidly advancing army looked as if it was about to capture Paris. Schoberg was sentenced to 10 years in prison, one of his friends to seven years, and the other to five.

“The Christian Men to Whom God… Has Given the Control of the Property Interests of the Country”

This patriotic delirium, however, was more than just an upwelling of public opinion. It was carefully stoked. Vigilante groups like the one that snooped on Charles Schoberg or the American Protective League were heavily funded by big business. And not because the country’s industrial and political elite particularly cared about catching German spies or outing pro-German Americans. They were focused on crushing the labor movement.

In the early twentieth century, American workers and their unions had few legal rights and business wanted to keep it that way. During a coal miners’ strike in 1902, the president of a railroad declared that wages, hours, and union recognition should be decided “not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the country.”

As the century went on, those “Christian men” felt increasingly threatened. The public imagination had been captured by the country’s most radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known to all as the Wobblies. It was led by Big Bill Haywood, a charismatic, one-eyed former miner famous both for using his fists in labor struggles and quoting long passages of Shakespeare by heart.

In 1912, Haywood and other Wobblies organized a strike of 25,000 textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which was victorious despite the police and militia murders of several strikers. A Wobbly-organized walkout of New York City hotel and restaurant waiters that same year, though less successful, still caused consternation when some 800 strikers blocked Fifth Avenue, a central artery of American capitalism. The police had to fire their revolvers into the air to disperse them. An uprising of Colorado coal miners saw more than 70 people killed before it ended in December 1914 — and more strikes followed.

The war changed all that, though. Since almost any industry could now be deemed essential to the war effort, the powers that be had the perfect excuse to come down hard on labor. Previously, such battles, though numerous and violent, had been scattershot: the National Guard suppressing one strike, private detectives another, sheriffs’ deputies a third. Now, business had the pretext for a coordinated nationwide crackdown — and had the backing of the White House.

On September 5, 1917, federal agents raided every IWW office in the country as well as the homes of Wobbly activists. From the group’s Chicago headquarters alone, the raiders took five tons of material, including some of the ashes of the martyred Wobbly songwriter Joe Hill, shot by a Utah firing squad in 1915 after a murder conviction based on much-disputed evidence.

In police vehicles and sealed boxcars, more than 100 Wobblies were brought to trial in Chicago. With more defendants in the dock than at any other trial in American history, all the accused were found guilty on all counts. The judge passed out sentences totaling 807 years of prison time and fines of more than $2.4 million, which, of course, no Wobbly had the money to pay. Along with his comrades, Big Bill Haywood was packed off by special train to the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. “We never won a hand,” that onetime saloon card dealer wrote to radical journalist John Reed. “The other fellow had the cut, shuffle, and deal all the time.”

The list of violent acts against American labor in these years would prove long indeed, but one of the most egregious was against a veteran Wobbly named Frank Little. He had helped organize a strike in Butte, Montana, after a fire in a local copper mine killed 164 miners. Two months later, on August 1, 1917, six masked men entered the boardinghouse where he was staying and seized the crutches he needed for a broken ankle. They then tied Little, still in his underwear, to the rear bumper of a car and dragged him to a railroad bridge at the edge of town, where they lynched him.

A note pinned to his body read: “Others Take Notice. First and Last Warning.” The police made a conspicuously minimal effort to find the killers. Vice President Thomas Riley Marshall cynically coined a pun on Little’s name. In solving labor problems, he quipped, “A Little hanging goes a long way.”

The Real War of 1917 and Today

The crackdown — including heavy press censorship — continued after the First World War ended in German defeat and the troops came home, for it had never really been about the war.

Instead, the 100-year flood of vituperation, threats, and arrests was part of another, much longer war, a struggle against those trying to rectify America’s staggering maldistribution of its bounty. In 1915, the richest 1% of the population owned 35.6% of the country’s wealth. The biggest threat to their position was the militant wing of the labor movement, hence the Wobblies were among the greatest victims of repression.

Today, the richest 1% owns an even greater slice of the pie: 40% of national wealth. Sadly, there’s not much of a labor movement left for them to crush, but the wealthy have other targets. Progressives are advocating many measures that would help rectify the gross inequalities of this America of ours, from health insurance for all to free college tuition to bigger taxes on the highest incomes to taxing wealth itself.

Suppressing such efforts is the central aim of Donald Trump and the people around him. And to do so, he has whipped up a new 100-year flood of venom against invasions of undocumented immigrants supposedly ready to steal American jobs, refugees, the “squad,” and black football players who take a knee, among others. His demagoguery has made skillful use of an old American tradition: employing differences of race to make people forget huge differences of wealth. It’s exactly what Southern plantation owners did when they got non-slave-owning whites to join them in fighting for the Confederacy.

Forty-plus percent of the country identifies with Trump, while the rest of us get outraged. He separates children from their parents at the border and puts people in squalid, overcrowded concentration camps and again the country divides into attacking or defending him. The louder the argument, the happier he is, for it keeps the attention off the real war: his ongoing campaign to put yet more wealth not just in the hands of the top 1%, but the top .01%. Americans who forget about this truly do become his apprentices.

While the rest of us are furiously disputing whether he’s a racist or a patriot, he and his friends are quietly reaping the rewards of a tax cut that was a massive giveaway to billionaires, and his administration is fast-tracking oil pipelines, opening up federal land to drilling and mining, boosting for-profit diploma mills that exploit the poor, and putting foxes in charge of every henhouse in sight from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to the Environmental Protection Administration. These are the issues that the hundred-year flood distracts us from.


FBI’s facial recognition program hits ‘full operational capability’


The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Next Generation Identification System, a biometric database reliant on tens of millions of facial-recognition records, is now fully operational, the agency announced .

The NGI system, after three years of development, is billed by the FBI as a new breakthrough for criminal identification and data-sharing between law enforcement agencies.

“This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI said in a statement

The NGI database contains over 100 million individual records that link a person’s fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans and facial-recognition data with personal information like their home address, age, legal status and other potentially compromising details.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the NGI is the facial-recognition information, which civil liberties advocates have said for years is among the most serious future threats to Americans’ privacy. The NGI database is expected to contain 52 million facial-recognition images alone by 2015.

The FBI said Monday that two new features of the database are now complete, capping off the NGI’s “operational capability.”

One feature, the Rap Back, will allow officials to “receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history reported on individuals holding positions of trust, such as school teachers.”

Additionally, the Interstate Photo System (IPS) facial recognition service “will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities.”

But Americans not suspected of any criminal activity could easily be swept up into the NGI, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in any number of ways. An individual who goes through a fingerprint background check for an employment opportunity, for instance, could soon be required to submit a picture of herself as well.

That picture could be stored alongside images of suspected criminals, unlike fingerprints, where a clear differentiation is made between law-abiding citizens and those who have been in trouble with the law before.

According to EFF senior staff attorney Jennifer Lynch, there is cause for concern because “the FBI and Congress have thus far failed to enact meaningful restrictions on what types of data can be submitted to the system, who can access the data and how the data can be used.”

“For example, although the FBI has said in these documents that it will not allow non-mug shot photos such as images from social networking sites to be saved from the system, there are no legal or even written FBI policy restrictions in place to prevent this from occurring,” Lynch said.

In June, EFF and other privacy advocates warned that the FBI’s facial-recognition database is in desperate need of more oversight.

“One of the risks here, without assessing the privacy considerations, is the prospect of mission creep with the use of biometric identifiers,” Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told National Journal. “It’s been almost two years since the FBI said they were going to do an updated privacy assessment, and nothing has occurred.”

A 2010 report of the FBI’s facial-recognition technology found that it could fail one in every five instances it was used, a rate higher than fingerprinting or iris scans.

Yet FBI Director James Comey has told Congress that the database would not amass photos of innocent people, and that it is only intended to “find bad guys by matching pictures to mugshots.”

In a milestone announcement, the FBI said in August that it had tracked down a 14-year fugitive suspected of child abuse using facial-recognition technology.

Meanwhile, US government intelligence researchers are developing the Janus Program which will “radically expand the range of conditions under which automated face recognition can establish identity.”

There are currently no federal restraints on the use of facial-recognition software.

FBI Facial Recognition System Gives Officers an Investigative Lead

The powerful tool replaces legacy technology and lets police officers automatically compare a suspect’s digital facial image against more than 20 million images, but it has accuracy limits and has raised concerns among privacy groups.


New FBI facial recognition technology

by Jessica Hughes

Government Technology and Emergency Management

New FBI facial recognition technology  means more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies can search potential criminals by face in addition to fingerprint.

The facial recognition tool, called the Interstate Photo System, lets officers automatically compare a suspect’s digital facial image against the 20 million and growing images available for searches, giving officers an investigative lead.

“What this does for our criminal justice community is it provides them another tool to be able to go out and identify criminals,” said Stephen Morris, assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI.

The facial recognition tool is part of CJIS’ Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which is a 10-year IT project begun in 2008 to replace the decades-old legacy Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The project has been launched in stages, but the September release marks the biggest rollout and the official end of the legacy system. The facial recognition technology was piloted in six states and developed in collaboration with law enforcement agencies nationwide. NGI currently operates in about 75 percent of the country’s law enforcement agencies.

“This is a long overdue effort to replace legacy technology, old technology, with new, relevant, more efficient, cheaper technology and, more importantly, more accurate technology,” Morris said.

The facial recognition technology represents the first time officers can search CJIS’ criminal mug shot database, which can store up to 92 million photos, against digital photos culled from investigations. Previously, there was no way to automatically search against the images collected along with fingerprints taken during booking or incarceration. Law enforcement officers would have to submit photos to the CJIS Division for facial recognition processing. With the new system, officers can choose between two and 50 candidates for review.

Any image used for search purposes is in law enforcement’s possession pursuant to a lawful investigation, Morris said. Digital photos, for example, can be taken from surveillance cameras or from digital devices that are seized with a search warrant. The ability to use the images captured on these devices is where the value in the tool lies, he said.

“Obviously you can’t pull a fingerprint off of a phone, but if there are images on a phone and you know that it’s that person’s phone, it’s the next best thing,” said Morris.

Facial recognition technology, however, is less reliable than fingerprint identification, with the Interstate Photo System returning the correct candidate a minimum of 85 percent of the time when a matching photos is in the repository. Any facial recognition hits are therefore investigative leads, not positive identifications, Morris said.

“In other words, it’s not an absolute identification,” Morris said. “When that agency gets that result back, they then have to go out and do the follow-up investigation.”

Additionally, controlled environments are best for facial recognition, a relatively young technology, which can be explained as an algorithm that make sense of millions of pixels describing facial features, said Chenjgun Liu, associate professor of computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. DMV photos, for instance, are a good use for the technology.

“There is no such thing as a system or program that can recognize people without any constraint,” Liu said. “That is a fiction.”

Liu, who has received funding from the Department of Defense to support his research into improving the technology, recognizes the benefit of using the technology with digital images to narrow down the number of suspects in an investigation, reducing the search effort dramatically.

“The potential benefit is of course also obvious. We have nowadays images almost everywhere,” he said.

CJIS has put into place specifications to ensure photo quality for people submitting digital images to its database, requiring they be frontal facial images with no shadows, and be taken in controlled environments. The accuracy of the photos both in the database and for those that are searched against are correlated with faster and more accurate search results, Morris said.

And although it’s not an absolute, searching for both photo and fingerprint matches for one person can give officers almost virtual certainty of someone’s identify, he said.

“For the folks out there worried about it falsely identifying people, I would say it actually closes the gap and reduces the chance of an individual being falsely identified,” Morris said.

Indeed, the fact that law enforcement can search against such a large database of digital images, has some groups uncomfortable with its possible surveillance capabilities. The facial recognition technology received attention in the spring from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Morris said NGI has been subject to privacy threat assessments and privacy impact assessments, and that abuse of the technology using photos on social networking sites is “patently false.”

“First and foremost all of these things are done with absolute guarantee that privacy and civil liberties are of first concern,” he said.

Cost of the technology overhaul is another concern. The entire NGI System is a billion-dollar project. But Morris said the high price tag is an investment. “Over a long run, over a 20-year span, the return on that will be significant. You’re talking about savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

That’s because the technology was built on a flexible framework, scalable as new biometric capabilities become economically and technically feasible. One such technology, iris image recognition, was just piloted under NGI.

Although the technology is not ready to be added to NGI’s set of biometrics tools, it soon may be, Morris said, just as facial recognition technology has come around.


Do You Still Have to Register for the Draft?

Males 18 Through 25 are Required to Register

by Robert Longley


The Selective Service System wants you to know that the requirement to register for the draft did not go away with the end of the Vietnam War. Under the law, virtually all male U.S. citizens, and male aliens living in the U.S., who are ages 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.

While there is no draft currently in effect, men who are not classified as unfit for military service, disabled men, clergymen, and men who believe themselves to be conscientiously opposed to war must also register.

Penalties for Failure to Register for the Draft 

Men who do not register could be prosecuted and, if convicted, fined up to $250,000 and/or serve up to five years in prison. In addition, men who fail to register with Selective Service before turning age 26, even if not prosecuted, will become ineligible for:

Student Financial Aid – including Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans.

U.S. Citizenship – if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.

Federal Job Training – The Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) offers programs that can train young men for jobs in auto mechanics and other skills. This program is only open to those men who register with Selective Service.

Federal Jobs – men born after December 31, 1959, must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service.

In addition, several states have added additional penalties for those who fail to register.

You may have read or been told that there is no need to register because so few people are prosecuted for failing to register. The goal of the Selective Service System is registration, not prosecution. Even though those who fail to register may not be prosecuted they will be denied student financial assistance, federal job training, and most federal employment unless they can provide convincing evidence to the agency providing the benefit they are seeking, that their failure to register was not knowing and willful.

Who Does NOT Have to Register for the Draft? 

Men who are not required to register with Selective Service include; nonimmigrant aliens in the U.S. on a student, visitor, tourist, or diplomatic visas; men on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; and cadets and midshipmen in the Service Academies and certain other U.S. military colleges. All other men must register upon reaching age 18 (or before age 26, if entering and taking up residence in the U.S. when already older than 18).

What About Women and the Draft? 

While women officers and enlisted personnel serve with distinction in the U.S. Armed Forces, women have never been subject to Selective Service registration or a military draft in America. On January 1, 2016, the Department of Defense removed all gender-based restrictions on military service, thus allowing women to serve in combat roles. Despite this change, Selective serviced continued to register only men, ages 18 through 25.

However, on February 22, 2019, Senior Judge Gray Miller of the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas, ruled that the practice of requiring only men to register for the military draft was unconstitutional.

Finding that the male-only provision of the Selective Service Act violated the equal protection provisions in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Judge Miller stated that while discriminatory treatment of women in the military may have been justified in the past, it longer was. “If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed,” he wrote, citing the Supreme Court’s earlier decision in the case of Rostker v. Goldberg. In the 1981 case, the Court ruled that requiring only men to register for the draft did not violate the Constitution since, at that time, only men were eligible to serve in combat.

The government is likely to appeal Judge Miller’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. However, if Miller’s ruling is upheld, one of three things might happen:

Women would have to register for the draft under the same rules as men;

Selective Service and the draft would be eliminated; or

Registration for Selective service would become voluntary for men and women.

Miller, however, delayed final implementation of his ruling until a special commission appointed by Congress to study the issue of the male-only draft issues its final findings due in 2020. As of now, the Selective Service System continues to register men only.

What is the Draft and How Does it Work? 

The “draft” is the actual process of calling men between ages 18 – 26 to be inducted to serve in the U.S. military. The draft is typically used only in the event of war or extreme national emergency as determined by the Congress and the president.

Should the President and the Congress decide a draft was needed, a classification program would begin. Registrants would be examined to determine suitability for military service, and they would also have ample time to claim exemptions, deferments, or postponements. To be inducted, men would have to meet the physical, mental, and administrative standards established by the military services. Local Boards would meet in every community to determine exemptions and deferments for clergymen, ministerial students, and men who file claims for reclassification as conscientious objectors.

Men have not actually been drafted into service since the end of the Vietnam War.

How Do You Register? 

The easiest and fastest way to register with Selective Service is to register online.

You can also register by mail using a Selective Service “mail-back” registration form available at any U.S. Post Office. A man can fill it out, sign (leaving the space for your Social Security Number blank, if you have not yet obtained one), affix postage, and mail it to Selective Service, without the involvement of the postal clerk. Men living overseas may register at any U.S. Embassy or consular office.

Many high school students can register at school. More than half the high schools in the United States have a staff member or teacher appointed as a Selective Service Registrar. These individuals help register male high school students.

Brief History of the Draft in America 

Military conscription — commonly called the draft — has been used in six wars: the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The nation’s first peacetime draft began in 1940 with the enactment of the Selective Training and Service Act and ended in 1973 with the end of the Vietnam War. During this period of peace and war, men were drafted in order to maintain necessary troop levels when vacancies in the Armed Forces could not be adequately filled by volunteers.

While the draft ended after the Vietnam War when the U.S. moved to the current all-volunteer military, the Selective Service System remains in place if needed to maintain national security. The mandatory registration of all male civilians aged 18 to 25 ensures that the draft can quickly be resumed if needed.


The World’s Water Crisis

Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, freshwater—the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with—is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.

As a result, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. Two million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.

Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. More than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others.

At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. And ecosystems around the world will suffer even more.

Droughts in Somalia. Water rationing in Rome. Flooding in Jakarta and Harvey-battered Houston. It doesn’t take a hydrologist to realize that there is a growing global water crisis. Each August, water experts, industry innovators, and researchers gather in Stockholm for World Water Week to tackle the planet’s most pressing water issues.

What are they up against this year? Here’s a quick rundown on the growing global water crisis.

1) We’re Changing the Climate, Making Dry Areas Drier and Precipitation More Variable and Extreme.

Climate change is warming the planet, making the world’s hottest geographies even more scorching. At the same time, clouds are moving away from the equator toward the poles, due to a climate-change driven phenomenon called Hadley Cell expansion. This deprives equatorial regions like sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central America of life-giving rainwater.

Paradoxically, climate change is also increasing precipitation in other areas, and people who live near rivers and streams have the most to lose. Currently, at least 21 million people worldwide are at risk of river flooding each year. That number could increase to 54 million by 2030. All countries with the greatest exposure to river floods are least developed or developing countries – which makes them even more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. This summer, extreme flooding submerged over a third of Bangladesh, claiming over 115 lives and affecting 5.7 million citizens.

2) More People + More Money = More Water Demand.

It’s a simple equation: As populations increase and incomes grow, so does water demand. The world’s population, now at 7.5 billion, is projected to add 2.3 billion more people by 2050. How can the planet satisfy their thirst? Growing incomes also exacerbate the water problem, because of the water-intensive products—like meat and energy from fossil fuels—that richer populations demand.

3) Groundwater Is Being Depleted.

About 30 percent of Earth’s fresh water lies deep underground in aquifers. And it’s extracted daily for farming, drinking and industrial processes – often at dangerously unsustainable rates. Nowhere is this more evident than India, which guzzles more groundwater than any other country. 54 percent of India’s groundwater wells are decreasing, meaning that water is used faster than it’s replenished. Unless patterns shift, in 20 years, 60 percent of India’s aquifers will be in critical condition.

Unlike an incoming hurricane or a drained lake, the naked eye cannot see when groundwater reserves in aquifers are declining. Global water supplies are susceptible to this hidden and growing threat.

4) Water Infrastructure Is in a Dismal State of Disrepair.

Having enough water to go around is only the beginning. That water also needs to be transported, treated, and discharged. Around the world, water infrastructure―treatment plants, pipes, and sewer systems―is in a state of disrepair. In the United States, 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost per day from leaky pipes alone. Built infrastructure is notoriously expensive to install and repair, meaning that many localities ignore growing infrastructure issues until disaster strikes, as it did in California earlier this year.

5) And Natural Infrastructure Is Being Ignored.

Healthy ecosystems are ” natural infrastructure” and vital to clean, plentiful water. They filter pollutants, buffer against floods and storms, and regulate water supply. Plants and trees are essential for replenishing groundwater; without them, rainfall will slide across dry land, instead of seeping into the soil. Loss of vegetation from deforestation, overgrazing and urbanization is limiting our natural infrastructure and the benefits that it provides. Forested watersheds around the world are under threat: watersheds have lost up to 22 percent of their forests in the past 14 years.

6) Water Is Wasted.

Although it’s true that water is a renewable resource, it’s often wasted. Inefficient practices like flood irrigation and water-intensive wet cooling at thermal power plants use more water than necessary. What’s more, as we pollute our available water at an alarming rate, we also fail to treat it. About 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is discharged back into nature without further treatment or reuse. In many countries, it’s cheaper to receive clean drinking water than to treat and dispose of wastewater, which encourages water waste. This brings us to the next issue:

7) The Price Is Wrong.

Globally, water is seriously undervalued. Its price does not reflect the true, total cost of service, from its transport via infrastructure to its treatment and disposal. This has led to misallocation of water, and a lack of investments in infrastructure and new water technologies that use water more efficiently. After all, why would a company or government invest in expensive water-saving technologies, when water is cheaper than the technology in question? When the price of receiving clean water is closer to its actual service cost, efficient water use will be incentivized. And on the flip side, the poor often end up paying disproportionately high prices for water, stunting development.

It’s Not Too Late

Amidst these seven deadly water sins, there is good news: governments, businesses, universities and citizens around the world are waking up to water challenges, and beginning to take action. Each year brings more solutions – like using wastewater for energy, using restoration to bring water back to dry topographies, and monitoring groundwater levels more closely. However, even the best solutions will not implement themselves. Along with fresh water, political will and public pressure are critical resources in ensuring a sustainable future for all.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

August 1, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.


Conversation No. 78

Date:  Monday, March 31, 1997

Commenced: 9:12 AM CST

Concluded: 9:28 AM CST


GD: I have been trying to work up an article on the BCCI and thought, Robert, you might have some knowledge of it, seeing as Corson told me you knew about them.

RTC: Bill has a motor mouth but yes, I know about them. What are you looking for?

GD: There has been quite a bit of comment on and off in the press about this and, as I said, Bill commented on this.

RTC: Well, BCCI was, is, a Paki bank, set up by a high-rolling con man and fraud expert named Abedi. We had connections with him and some of his people and he was willing to help us fund the anti-Russian rebels in Afghanistan but off the books. Critchfield had a hand in all of this gun business as you know. These people were a farce, setting up all kinds of off shore banks and basicially, it was nothing but a Ponzi scheme but one that we got into and were able to shut up a number of trouble makers along the way. And the Abedi people had connections with the Paki ISI…

GD: Pardon?

RTC: Called the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. A Limey set it up at the time the Pakis broke off from India in the late ‘40s,. They basicially were the power behind the throne in Pakistan…ran everything, took huge bribes from us on one hand and the Russians on the other. Typical bunch of worthless raghead scum. Never turn you back on any of them,, ever, Gregory, or you get a knife in it. My, what a game that turned out to be. We had such a stake in all of that mess that we had to make sure it was kept quiet, at least until we managed to get Ivan out of Afghanistan. Oh yes, there were complaints because the BCCI people were not only outright frauds but very obvious to the legitimate bankers here. Oh, a nice conversation there and someone falling off a cliff there but these greedy crooks just got too much hubris and finally it began to unravel. You must have read about this. F. Lee Bailey was a front for them and God knows how many throughly rotten Congressmen, regulatory people and so on were on the take. I mean there was so much bribe money flowing out of those people you couldn’t wonder how high it went. They dragged old Clark Clifford into it and others. Of course Clark has a great opinion of himself and had no problem taking money for his services.

GD: And your people?

RTC: I have pounds of filched files on this. Poor Trento thinks he’s going to get them and write a Pulitizer Prise winner out of it. I ought to send them to you. Would you like that?

GD: And have Paki assassins lurking on my front porch, cunningly disguised as piles of dog droppings? Probably not…although…

RTC: Well, Trento is far too stupid to know what to do with them so if I don’t send them to you, I might burn them. Emily shouldn’t have to deal with it when I’m gone and Greg…my son, not you…wouldn’t have a clue. Yes, I can send them to you and you can do what you want with them. My God, Gregory, billions of dollars in taxpayers funds lining pockets from here to Karachi.

GD: Critchfield?

RTC: Among others…but not me. Jim made so much money from the rag heads that I’m surprised he didn’t buy the Capitol as a barn for his stupid horses.

GD: And Atwood…

RTC: Small potatoes. The roster of the anointed reads like the Washington social calendar. Senator this and Director that.

GD: Kimmel?

RTC: Oh, God, no, not Dudley Doright. And don’t mention any of this to him. He wouldn’t have the fantest idea what to do with it and if he tried, he would join brother Colby in the boneyard. I tell you, Gregory, when we started the Company in ’48, believe it or not, we were a bunch of idealists. Of course the Cold War was a fake but we were really interested in fucking up old Joe Stalin and also thwarting the liberal kikes inside the Beltway. Still, idealists at heart. The thievery started later. Gregory, put a poorish man in a room full of gold coins and a few will stick to his feet. Sometimes more than a few. I ran the CIA’s business section and believe me, it was a wonderful rerlationship with the latter-day robber barons. The slide rule Shylocks. I rather like you, Gregory and if I gave you come of the papers I collected, you would either die or become very, very rich. I think they call it blackmail.

GD: One has to be careful what that, Robert. For instance, you tell me Angleton was in with the mob…

RTC: And the kikes too, don’t forget that. I really liked and admired Jim but…

GD: Yes. That’s like having a best friend from collegs who pimps autistic children to fat old men,

RTC: Yes, more or less but Jim had terrible friends. They got more out of him than he ever got out of them, let me advise you.

GD: I got the better of a Jew once and I thought the bugger would explode. On the other hand, I would never try to get the better of a Mafioso. I’ve known a few and I get on fine with them but try to screw them? I think not. Well, most of them have a really well developed sense of honor and the Jews do not. And they hate the Jews.

RTC: But Lansky…

GD: An exception. There is always an exception. Well, I might take some of your background material on the BCCI people if you have it to hand and it isn’t too much trouble. I always thought Clark Clifford was a triple plated phoney anyway. Him and Alan Cranston.

RTC: Agreed but why stop there?

GD: I’d be on this call for three days straight, just reading off the names. Isn’t America blessed to have to many thieves that get away with it?

RTC: Well, if you steal a dollar, you are a thief but if you steal ten million, you are a financier.

RTC: Or a Republican.

(Concluded at 9:28 AM CST)



Encyclopedia of American Loons

Hal Turner

Hal Turner is Hal Turner, and Hal Turner is, as many will be aware, a rather infamous sympathizer of white supremacism. He rose to attention (in part) as a regular caller on Sean Hannity’s WABC radio program in the 1990s, where he would make arguments such as “if it weren’t for the white man, blacks would still be swinging from the trees in Africa” (getting no rebuke from Hannity). It culminated in 2000, when Turner stepped forward to run for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey (though he wasn’t recognized by the party), receiving Hannity’s endorsement (Turner’s experience included being North Jersey coordinator for Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign and manager of the 1997 gubernatorial campaign of Libertarian Murray Sabrin). Turner himself has claimed that he and Hannity were “good friends” at the time, though Hannity himself has since remained silent on the issue.

Not long after (and having decided that the system was rigged against white males), he started the infamous “Hal Turner show”, a favorite of neo-nazi and white supremacist groups everywhere, and notable for spewing hate as if it were nobody’s business (ranting about “savage Negro beasts,” “bull-dyke lesbians” and “lazy-ass Latinos … slithering across the border.”), supporting the murders of judges he didn’t like, calling for civil war (in 2000) if Al Gore were to win the then-contested outcome of the Florida vote, and telling his audience to “clean your guns, have plenty of ammunition … [and] then do what has to be done” to undocumented workers.

At least he is straightforward. He said on his radio show that someone has to kill Barack Obama to keep him from becoming president, adding that it would be “a public service” to kill African Americans (“sub-human simians”) and white people (“mentally-ill Whites”) who celebrated his election. In 2008 he also published the home address of the superintendent of Lexington schools in Massachusetts (where the wingnuts were upset about books that dare to mention that some families include gay people) and urged his followers to take him out – this being relatively standard fare for a guy who once started a website called www.killtheenemy.com for the purpose of posting photos and names of those who marched in favor of immigrant rights.

It is worth mentioning that Turner for many years (possibly, perhaps probably) worked as an informant for the FBI, supplying them with information about right-wing groups, and, after the revelation, announced that he would step down from “whites’ rights” political activism.

Diagnosis: There’s quite a bit to write about this guy, but I prefer to refer the reader to the SPLC’s extensive files rather than making my hands too dirty on this kind of shit.

Giorgio A. Tsoukalos

Ok, so we are not completely sure whether already-legendary kook Giorgio A. Tsoukalos is actually formally qualified – he seems to be Greek – but his (significant) contributions to lunacy has been made primarily in the US, so we’ll count him in, mostly because we want to cover him. Tsoukalos is the publisher of Legendary Times Magazine, a magazine occupied with searching for evidence to support ancient aliens, and has long been the Director of Erich von Däniken’s Center for Ancient Astronaut Research (Tsoukalos is also “Erich von Däniken’s official representative in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world). Most famously, he is the star and consulting producer of History Channel’s cargo-cult-scientific drivel Ancient Aliens – The Series, and according to himself Tsoukalos “is the real-life Indiana Jones.” He has, of course, no qualification in history, archaeology or any field that would make him even minimally qualified to assess, well, any kind of evidence whatsoever (or distinguish it from non-evidence), a lack of qualification he amply and proudly displays in his writings and shows.

Tsoukalos believes that practically everything in the ancient world has something to do with aliens, to the extent that it has made him into some sort of official meme (you can try the Tsoukalos meme generator here). Did, for instance, the Babylonians have nuclear weapons? Oh yes, they did.

Tsoukalos presents his view on Atlantis – “I don’t think that Atlantis sank. I think it was lifted off.”

He claims that the rocks of Stonehenge “were transported by way of levitation by none other than Merlin the wizard.” (After all the rocks are there; clearly they must have been transported there by magic. It could be suggested by the Disney cartoon The Sword in the Stone that Merlin would be capable of such feats. Therefore Merlin did it.)

he concludes that “we’re half-human, and half-extraterrestrial. We’re hybrids;” an incoherent (think about it) conclusion drawn from the fact that common depictions of the DNA double helix looks strange (to him). A quick discussion of Tsoukalos’s take on genetics can be found here.

He has also claimed that the streets of D.C. (a well-known source of conspiracies) were laid out in the shape of a five-pointed star to communicate to the aliens that we “respect” them. (He seems to be unaware that real stars don’t have points and that the convention to depict them as such would make no sense to a foreign culture).

According to himself his study of the Ancient Astronaut Theory is “scientific”, though he doesn’t seem to have much by way of the faintest grasp of what that might mean. Apparently the fact that his “study” includes analyses of ancient scriptures, drawings, monuments and artifacts using pareidolia and motivated reasoning as their sole methods of assessment, somehow makes it scientific (plenty of the items featured are demonstrably hoaxes). A Tsoukalos argument that is rather telling (from a March 2012 episode) was, roughly:

  1. People worship “Gods”
  2. But people only believe in things they have evidence for.
  3. They had written/drawn evidence for these “Gods”.
  4. Written/drawn evidence is always realistic and never abstract, imaginative, or metaphorical.
  5. But “Gods” don’t actually exist.
  6. Therefore these ancient gods were actually aliens.

Notice the second premise. It really sums up Tsoukalos’s approach to everything – by virtue of beliving in ancient aliens, it follows that he has evidence for it. Here, by the way, is an account of an interaction with Jason Colavito, who are – shall we say – reasonably skeptical of Tsoukalos’s ideas. Tsoukalos was unhappy with the results, arguing that “[j]ust the fact that you so desperately attempt to dismantle our theory proves that we are on the right track. Otherwise you would not feel so threatened by our theories!” Which is also rather telling (there is a discussion of Tsoukalos’s approach to evidence here). As is his response to the question of whether ancient astronaut claims have been presented in peer-reviewed journals (imagine it read by Michael Scott/Steve Carell): “And because YOU haven’t seen any articles THAT means the articles don’t exist, right? Wow. Oh wow. UN-real. What a glaring display of RAMPANT egotistical ignorance.” I think that means “no”.

Diagnosis: Tsoukalos has no idea what evidence is, or why it is needed, and is somewhat confused by the fact that people ask for it – which makes him precisely the kind of guy e.g. History Channel want. Though he has quite a media presence, it is hard to imagine that Tsoukalos’s helps rather than harms the conspiracy movement – even dimwits seem to find his claims and assessments of evidence rather … weird. But who knows; we may be overestimating people.



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