TBR News August 14, 2019

Aug 14 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. August 15, 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 14:”One of my lunch friends was regaling me with various things he has heard President Trump proclaim. (He is higher up the Importance Ladder than I am) and Trump has said that if the next election is against him, he will refuse to leave the White House. He also has said, I suppose as a half-jest, that he is the King of America. He believes this but is not going to put it about because only the red hats believe it and they have not yet marched to DC to physically support him with their every-friendly AK 47s. We are in for interesting times!”


The Table of Contents

  • Can’t imagine why’: Trump has no idea why anyone would relate Hong Kong protests to US meddling
  • Protesters decry US meddling in HK
  • Why are there protests in Hong Kong and where will they end?
  • Military Strength Is Our National Religion
  • The Myth and the Reality
  • The emerging goals of America’s professional military leaders
  • Revealed: Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for ‘biblical warfare’
  • Facebook transcribed users’ audio and passed it on — report
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

‘Can’t imagine why’: Trump has no idea why anyone would relate Hong Kong protests to US meddling

August 13,2019


For the life of him, US President Donald Trump can’t explain why critics would associate Washington with Hong Kong’s unrest, expressing bewilderment in a tweet just before sounding the alarm about a Chinese invasion of the city.

In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, the president observed: “Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?”

Answering his own question, perhaps, he followed up that missive with another tweet five minutes later, ominously warning that “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong.”

Preparations for Chinese military drills in the border town of Shenzhen, however, were reported on Monday by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC) own media arm – the troop’s movements did not require secret intelligence to divine.

According to the CPC-affiliated Global Times, the large-scale movements in Shenzhen are tied to exercises, rather than an invasion. Similar drills were carried out by the city’s police force earlier this month, involving some 12,000 officers.

Additional answers to the president’s inquiry might be found in a recent meeting between American diplomat Julie Eadeh and Hong Kong’s protest leaders, prompting suspicions that Washington may have a greater hand in the dispute than it lets on. While the State Department defended the visit, arguing it was something “American diplomats do every single day,” some remained unconvinced by the reassurance.

China Daily columnist Chen Weihua also noted that “It would be hard to imagine the US reaction if Chinese [diplomats] were meeting leaders of Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter or Never Trump protesters.”

Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, told RT that the US government has long been involved with Hong Kong’s protest movement, adding “it’s widely known that the US, through its National Endowment for Democracy, has bankrolled a lot of these political parties and political leaders.”

McAdams explained that one of the protest leaders seen meeting with US diplomat Eadeh last week was “heavily involved in the 2014 protests” in Hong Kong and maintained close ties to Washington.


Protesters decry US meddling in HK

The Standard

A group of pro-government supporters demonstrated outside the US Consulate in Central,  accusing the Americans of inciting protests against using Hong Kong as a battleground in their trade war with China, RTHK reports.

Several dozen people rallied outside the consulate accused the US of also inciting mass protests against the extradition law changes proposed by the Hong Kong government.

Members of three groups – the Federation of Hong Kong Kowloon New Territories Hawker Associations, Hong Kong Southern District Alliance and Real Hongkongers’ Views – said they wanted Americans to stay out of the internal affairs of Hong Kong.

They said foreign powers are colluding with local dissidents to incite public anger, with an aim to use it as a bargaining chip in the Sino-US trade war.

“The United States had undermined Hong Kong’s system and interfered with our internal affairs,” Real Hongkongers’ View spokesman Jason Lam said. “It was a clear disregard of facts.”

Lam noted Consul General Kurt Tong had criticized the Hong Kong government on “multiple occasions” – including when the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party was banned, disqualified some candidates and for refusing some Chinese dissidents from entering Hong Kong.

“I am worried Hong Kong will become a battleground for the trade war,” Lam added. “What they are doing would not only mess Hong Kong up, but also damage US citizens’ interests.”


Why are there protests in Hong Kong and where will they end?

August 14, 2019

by Sophia Yan

The Telegraph

Hong Kong has this summer faced the worst political turmoil since its handover to China in 1997.

Residents first poured onto the streets to protest an extradition proposal that would send suspects to face trial in China, where the Communist Party controls the courts.

When city leaders failed to defuse tensions, police sought to curtail the largely peaceful rallies by shooting tear gas, rubber bullets and foam rounds – a serious escalation in a city long known for being one of the safest places in the world.

Protesters believe that because the extradition proposal has only been suspended, and not formally withdrawn, lawmakers could still quickly table and pass the legislation.

Their demands have since grown to include the resignation of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, an independent commission to investigate police brutality, and wider political reforms to allow for residents to directly elect its leader.

Britain’s response

During the leadership race, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt called on Beijing to uphold the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which guaranteed freedoms for at least 50 years in the territory after its handover.

But many residents say liberties have sharply eroded, especially since Xi Jinping took power as the head of the Communist Party in 2012.

The agreement is a legally binding treaty registered at the United Nations, and places responsibility on both signatories to ensure rights in Hong Kong, which means the UK could raise the issue at the UN.

However, Britain’s willingness to take on China as the Brexit process calls for new trade links outside the EU could be limited.

Lord Chris Patten, the last colonial governor, has called on the British government to do more to support the protesters, saying “We shouldn’t forget there is such a thing as honour, and we’re honour-bound to stand up for freedom in Hong Kong, the freedoms we promised people for years.”

In late June, the UK halted further export licenses for crowd control equipment indefinitely until human rights concerns were “thoroughly addressed,” said then-Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt.

Some of the tear gas canisters fired appeared to have been made by British defence contractor PW Defence, according to Amnesty International, a human rights group.

In an interview with a Chinese language broadcaster in July, Mr Johnson said his government would be “very pro-China.”

Where the protests stand

Hong Kong is now in its third month of mass demonstrations. The leaderless movement has used social media and mass Airdrops to spread the word, with many groups organising rallies in several neighbourhoods.

Despite lacking a figurehead, the protesters show no sign of splintering and appear to only have become more determined.

Chants of “Reclaim Hong Kong, it’s time for revolution!” have overtaken the slogans that defined the early days of the movement, when people were shouting, “No extradition to China!”

It’s a shift that reflects how upset Hong Kongers have become with Beijing’s creeping influence in the region, and could prompt a greater crackdown by the government.

While the rallies begin peacefully during the day, they now end in pandemonium as police and protesters – often clad in black with hiking sticks and yellow hard hats – engage in tense standoffs as the sky darkens.

The stakes were raised when protesters first descended on Hong Kong’s lone airport a week ago, threatening the city’s reputation as a global transport and business hub. On Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of flights were cancelled as demonstrators blocked tourists’ access to the departure lounge.

Where they could go

Anger at police brutality has risen and demonstrators are increasingly frustrated that city leaders have ignored their demands.

Ms Lam has given few public remarks since the unrest began.

Protesters are becoming increasingly unruly, hurling insults at the police and preparing defences – erecting barriers and gathering items, from bricks to street signs – to throw at the charging officers.

Rallies are planned through the end of August, and people say they will take to the streets until demands are met – even though police have begun rejecting applications to hold marches.

Police are also preparing to escalate their response.

Where they could go

Anger at police brutality has risen and demonstrators are increasingly frustrated that city leaders have ignored their demands.

Ms Lam has given few public remarks since the unrest began.

Protesters are becoming increasingly unruly, hurling insults at the police and preparing defences – erecting barriers and gathering items, from bricks to street signs – to throw at the charging officers.

Rallies are planned through the end of August, and people say they will take to the streets until demands are met – even though police have begun rejecting applications to hold marches.

Police are also preparing to escalate their response.

Lately, however, the rhetoric has ramped up, with China’s top diplomat in Hong Kong speaking publicly for the first time since the territory’s handover in 1997 and calling the protests akin to ‘terrorism’.

Chinese state media videos of military and police engaging in aggressive anti-riot drills serve as a warning that reinforcements for the Hong Kong authorities are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

For now, city officials and the leading authority – the Chinese Communist Party – have refrained from unleashing extreme measures, such as shooting live rounds and sending in the military.

That “would be a major threshold for Beijing to cross,” says Steve Tsang, director of the University of London’s SOAS China Institute.

Yet experts say there’s no telling what the government might do next, especially as Beijing officials accuse protesters of fomenting a “colour revolution” with help from foreign forces – an anti-Communist uprising that would be its worst nightmare.

The fear, for many, is a crackdown with a bitter end. Many of those out on the streets now are too young to remember the military tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square in 1989. But Beijing’s memory is long.


Military Strength Is Our National Religion

August 14, 2019

by William J. Astore and Tom Engelhardt


In Wars and Weapons We Trust

When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I looked to the heavens: to God and Christianity (as arbitrated by the Catholic Church) and to the soaring warbirds of the U.S. military, which I believed kept us safe. To my mind then, they were classic manifestations of American technological superiority over the godless Communists.

With all its scandals, especially when it came to priestly sexual abuse, I lost my faith in the Catholic Church. Indeed, I would later learn that there had been a predatory priest in my own parish when I was young, a grim man who made me uneasy at the time, though back then I couldn’t have told you why. As for those warbirds, like so many Americans, I thrilled to their roar at air shows, but never gave any real thought to the bombs they were dropping in Vietnam and elsewhere, to the lives they were ending, to the destruction they were causing. Nor, at that age, did I ever consider their enormous cost in dollars or just how much Americans collectively sacrificed to have “top cover,” whether of the warplane or godly kind.

There were good and devoted priests in my Catholic diocese. There were good and devoted public servants in the U.S. military. Admittedly, I never seriously considered the priesthood, but I did sign up for the Air Force, surprising myself by serving in it for 20 years. Still, both institutions were then, and remain, deeply flawed. Both seek, in a phrase the Air Force has long used, “global reach, global power.” Both remain hierarchies that regularly promote true believers to positions of authority. Both demand ultimate obedience. Both sweep their sins under the rug. Neither can pass an audit. Both are characterized by secrecy. Both seem remarkably immune to serious efforts at reform. And both, above all, know how to preserve their own power, even as they posture and proselytize about serving a higher one.

However, let me not focus here on the one “holy catholic and apostolic church,” words taken from the “profession of faith” I recited during Mass each week in my youth. I’d prefer to focus instead on that other American holy church, the U.S. military, with all its wars and weapons, its worshipers and wingmen, together with its vision of global dominance that just happens to include end-of-world scenarios as apocalyptic as those of any imaginable church of true believers. I’m referring, of course, to our country’s staggeringly large arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, just now being updated – the term seems to be “modernized” – to the tune of something like $1.7 trillion over the decades to come.

A Profession of Twenty-First-Century All-American Faith

“Show me your budget and I will tell you what you value” is a telling phrase linked to Joe Biden. And in those same terms, there’s no question what the American government values most: its military, to the tune of almost $1.5 trillion over the next two years (although the real number may well exceed $2 trillion). Republicans and Democrats agree on little these days, except support for spending on that military, its weaponry, its wars to come, and related national security state outlays.

In that context, I’ve been wondering what kind of “profession of faith” we might have to recite, if there were the equivalent of Mass for what has increasingly become our military church. What would it look like? Whom and what would we say we believed in? As a lapsed Catholic with a lot of practice in my youth professing my faith in the Church, as well as a retired military officer and historian, I have a few ideas about what such a “profession” might look like:

  • We believe in wars. We may no longer believe in formal declarations of war (not since December 1941 has Congress made one in our name), but that sure hasn’t stopped us from waging them. From Korea to Vietnam, Afghanistan to Iraq, the Cold War to the War on Terror, and so many military interventions in between, including Grenada, Panama, and Somalia, Americans are always fighting somewhere as if we saw great utility in thumbing our noses at the Prince of Peace. (That’s Jesus Christ, if I remember my Catholic catechism correctly.)
  • We believe in weaponry, the more expensive the better. The underperforming F-35 stealth fighter may cost $1.45 trillion over its lifetime. An updated nuclear triad (land-based missiles, nuclear submarines, and strategic bombers) may cost that already mentioned $1.7 trillion. New (and malfunctioning) aircraft carriers cost us more than $10 billion each. And all such weaponry requests get funded, with few questions asked, despite a history of their redundancy, ridiculously high price, regular cost overruns, and mediocre performance. Meanwhile, Americans squabble bitterly over a few hundred million dollars for the arts and humanities.
  • We believe in weapons of mass destruction. We believe in them so strongly that we’re jealous of anyone nibbling at our near monopoly. As a result, we work overtime to ensure that infidels and atheists (that is, the Iranians and North Koreans, among others) don’t get them. In historical terms, no country has devoted more research or money to deadly nuclear, biological, and chemical weaponry than the United States. In that sense, we’ve truly put our money where our mouths are (and where a devastating future might be).
  • We believe with missionary zeal in our military and seek to establish our “faith” everywhere. Hence, our global network of perhaps 800 overseas military bases. We don’t hesitate to deploy our elite missionaries, our equivalent to the Jesuits, the Special Operations forces to more than 130 countries annually. Similarly, the foundation for what we like to call foreign assistance is often military training and foreign military sales. Our present supreme leader, Pope Trump I, boasts of military sales across the globe, most notably to the infidel Saudis. Even when Congress makes what, until recently, was the rarest of attempts to rein in this deadly trade in arms, Pope Trump vetoes it. His rationale: weapons and profits should rule all.
  • We believe in our college of cardinals, otherwise known as America’s generals and admirals. We sometimes appoint them (or anoint them?) to the highest positions in the land. While Trump’s generals – Michael Flynn, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly – have fallen from grace at the White House, America’s generals and admirals continue to rule globally. They inhabit proconsul-like positions in sweeping geographical commands that (at least theoretically) cover the planet and similarly lead commands aimed at dominating the digital-computer realm and special operations. One of them will head a new force meant to dominate space through time eternal. A “strategic” command (the successor to the Strategic Air Command, or SAC, so memorably satirized in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove) continues to ensure that, at some future moment, the U.S. will be able to commit mass genocide by quite literally destroying the world with nuclear weapons. Indeed, Pope Trump recently boasted that he could end America’s Afghan War in a week, apparently through the mass nuclear genocide of (his figure) 10 million Afghans. Even as he then blandly dismissed the idea of wiping that country “off the face of the earth,” he openly reflected the more private megalomania of those military professionals funded by the rest of us to think about “the unthinkable.” In sum, everything is – theoretically at least – under the thumbs of our unelected college of cardinals. Their overblown term for it is “full-spectrum dominance,” which, in translation, means they grant themselves god-like powers over our lives and that of our planet (though the largely undefeated enemies in their various wars don’t seem to have acknowledged this reality).
  • We believe that freedom comes through obedience. Those who break ranks from our militarized church and protest, like Chelsea Manning, are treated as heretics and literally tortured.
  • We believe military spending brings wealth and jobs galore, even when it measurably doesn’t. Military production is both increasingly automated and increasingly outsourced, leading to far fewer good-paying American jobs compared to spending on education, infrastructure repairs of and improvements in roads, bridges, levees, and the like, or just about anything else for that matte
  • We believe, and our most senior leaders profess to believe, that our military represents the very best of us, that we have the “finest” one in human history.
  • We believe in planning for a future marked by endless wars, whether against terrorism or “godless” states like China and Russia, which means our military church must be forever strengthened in the cause of winning ultimate victory.
  • Finally, we believe our religion is the one true faith. (Just as I used to be taught that the Catholic Church was the one true church and that salvation outside it was unattainable.) More pacific “religions” are dismissed as weak, misguided, and exploitative. Consider, for example, the denunciation of NATO countries that refuse to spend more money on their militaries. Such a path to the future is heretical; therefore, they must be punished.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Keep in mind that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, or so I was taught as a boy anyway. One might say that the beginning of U.S. militarism is simply fear, whether of terrorists, immigrants, Muslims, Communists, or other enemies of the moment. If Americans continue to be wracked with such fears, they’ll undoubtedly continue to profess their faith in the military as our country’s noblest protectors, too.

Where does such a profession of faith in wars and weapons end? Is there even a terminus of any sort other than destruction?

Those of us who endured war games and hair-trigger nuclear alerts during the Cold War have long had apocalyptic fears of such endings in the back of our minds. Under Donald Trump, they’ve come back with a vengeance. Unlike many Christians, I don’t envision Christ returning to pick up the irradiated Elect after a nuclear version of Armageddon. But that, of course, is a true worst-case scenario. A more likely ending is a slow-motion collapse of America’s imperial empire and the church of the military that goes with it, the resulting chaos possibly leading to a Second Coming, not of Christ but of medieval levels of meanness and misery.

Or, maybe, just maybe, we might start anew by questioning our militarized profession of faith. We might begin to realize that our warrior-church isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We might begin to seek meaning and salvation not through wars and weaponry, not through generals and their admirers, not through impossible dreams of total dominance, but through compassion and a desire for global justice.

I confess that I long ago turned my back on the Catholic Church of my youth, but I haven’t turned my back on Christianity and the wisdom it can offer. For what does it profit a country if it gains the whole world yet loses its soul? (In our case, of course, it might be more appropriate to say: For what does it profit a country if it gains nothing from its wars and military mindset yet loses its soul?) The more we Americans profess our faith in warriors, weapons, and wars, the more we endanger our nation’s collective soul. There’s a reason, after all, that Jesus placed the peacemakers, not the warriors, among the children of God.


The Myth and the Reality

August 14, 2019

by Michael Hunt


With increasing intellectual revisionism in the eighteenth century, historians  finally succeeded in getting rid of the extensive mythology found in both the New Testament and the early Christian rewriting of the old.

There began a scientific study of the genesis of Christianity which became possible for the first time with a rapid diminution of the political and social power of organized religion.

But it is interesting that secular probings avoided this field during the nineteenth century, acting as though it still belonged exclusively to the realm of theology.

A whole series of historical works written by the most eminent middle class historians of the nineteenth century dealing with the Roman Empire quietly pass over the most important happening of the time, the rise of Christianity as a state cult. As an example of this avoidance one finds in the fifth volume of his Roman History, by Mommsen an extensive account of the history of the Jews under the Caesars, and in doing so, the author can not avoid mentioning Christianity occasionally; but this subject appears only as something already existing, something assumed to be already widely known.

By and large only the so-called academic true believers and their adversaries, the iconoclastic literary scientists, have taken a specific interest in the beginnings of Christianity.

The traditional theological writings and, by them, sociatal attitudes, depict Christianity as the creation of a single man, Jesus the Christ. This view persists even today. At present, it is acknowledged that that Jesus, is no longer considered a deity, but he still held to have been an extraordinary personality, who came to the fore with the intention of founding a new religion, and did so, with tremendous success.

The British  historian, Gibbon, in his definitive Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (written between 1774 and 1788), has clearly pointed out how striking it is that none of Jesus’ contemporary Jewish and Roman historians mentions him, although he is said, in the New Testament, to have accomplished such remarkable feats.

“But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world to these evidences which were presented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world.”

At Jesus’ death, according to the Christian tradition, the whole earth, or at least all of Palestine, was in darkness for three hours. This took place in the days of the elder Pliny, who devoted a special chapter of his Natural History to eclipses; but of this eclipse he says nothing. (Gibbon, Chapter 15).

The first mention of Jesus by a non-Christian is found in the Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus. The third chapter of book 18 deals with the procurator Pontius Pilate, and says among other things:

“About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if he can be called human, for he worked miracles and was a teacher of men, who received the truth gladly; and he found many followers among Jews and Greeks. This was the Christ. Although later Pilate sentenced him to the cross on the complaint of the nobles of our people, those who had loved him remained true to him. For he appeared again to them on the third day, risen to new life, as the prophets of God had prophesied this and thousands of other wonderful things about him. From his comes the name of the Christians, whose sect (phylon) has continued to exist ever since.”

Josephus speaks of Christ again in the 20th book, chapter 9,1, where the high priest Ananus is said in the time of the procurator Albinus to have brought it about that:

“James. The brother of Jesus, said to be the Christ (tou legomenou christou), together with some others, was brought to court, accused as a breaker of the law and delivered over to be stoned to death.”

These pieces of evidence have always been highly prized by Christians; for they come from a non-Christian, a Jew and Pharisee, born in the year 37 of our era and living in Jerusalem, and so very well able to have authentic facts about Jesus. And his testimony was the more valuable in that as a Jew he had no reason to falsify on behalf of the Christians

But it was the promotion and exaltation of Christ on the part of a pious Jew that made the first passage highly suspect and early-on. The authenticity of these passages was disputed as early as the sixteenth century, and today it is completely agreed by almost all Bibilcal scholars that it is forgery and does not stem from Josephus. It was inserted in the third century by a Christian copyist, who obviously took offense at the fact that Josephus, who repeats the most trivial gossip from Palestine, says nothing at all about the person of Jesus. The pious Christian felt with justice that the absence of any such mention weighed against the existence or at least the significance of his Savior Now the discovery of his forgery has become testimony against Jesus.

In the final observation, there are many who believe in the existance of Big Foot. No one has actually seen him but many believe in his existance.

Self-delusion is comforting to some, painful to others and a source of humor to far more.


The emerging goals of America’s professional military leaders

August 14, 2019

by Christian Jürs

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. military’s principal raison d’être for over 40 years disappeared. While it was clear the world remained a violent and dangerous place, the absence of a superpower adversary disconcerted a defense establishment still possessing enormous resources and intellectual vigor.

The armed forces also changed in an unprecedented way: they now were composed primarily of people wanting to stay in the military, rather than draftees wanting to leave at the first opportunity. Not only was the all-volunteer military undiluted by the liberalizing effect of conscription, it also was the direct descendant of the traumatized forces that lost the Vietnam War. True, the U.S. military brilliantly rebuilt itself and magnificently triumphed in the First Gulf War, but there is no question that the cycle of failure and redemption deeply affected the outlook of those in uniform.

At the present time, the military’s acceptance of shrinking defense budgets and the imposition of social policies on the armed forces has “proved” civilian control was secure.

Actually, America’s still-sizable military, freed from its preoccupation with the Soviet threat, was politicizing rapidly.. Still haunted by Vietnam despite the 1991 Gulf War victory, many in uniform believed that military officers needed to be much more active in the political process if “another Vietnam” was to be avoided. Eventually, skill at political infighting, not warfighting, becomes the mark of up-and-coming officers

Politicization is being hastened by a variety of factors, including the military’s institutional drift from warfighting to a complex array of military operations other than war. Overlooked is the fact that officers who concentrate on activities other than war eventually become something other than warriors. Such officers also displace their dedication to the warrior ethic with a cultish devotion to commerce-oriented fads like total quality management.

The ultimately unquantifiable nature of military service is somehow being reduced to metrics, and this leads the new-styled officer/ business executives to reject combat-oriented activities as too costly given their notion of an acceptable “bottom line.” Indeed, the Pentagon’s aversion to casualties led to a heavy reliance on unmanned systems which, in turn, eliminated the rationale (and the need) for a separate pilot-based air service, thus leading to the Air Force’s disestablishment in 2007. Risky combat operations still requiring personnel on the ground are outsourced to private corporations, a move that would prove disastrous in twenty-first century conflicts.

Just as the military’s politicization is increasing, the nation is coming under the spell of “postmodern militarism.” This phenomenon is not marked by overt military domination or even a societal embrace of martial virtues. Rather, it is characterized by the growing willingness of a militarily naive society to charge those in uniform with responsibilities that a democracy ought to leave to civilians.

The popular military assumed a wide variety of trendy noncombat activities ranging from drug interdiction at home to nation-building abroad, thereby leading to further politicization as the military insinuated itself into areas that were previously the exclusive province of civilian policymakers. All of this occurred as the formal institutions of civilian control–Congress and the executive branch–were losing the public’s confidence. These institutions were further weakened by partisan squabbling, and this allowed a politically savvy military to accumulate enormous political clout.

Despite its growing popularity and political power, the professional military increasingly views civilian society as irresponsibly chaotic, crime-ridden, and morally corrupt. The alienated military also views itself as a higher caste than the society it was supposed to serve.

An increasingly self-righteous military has begun to see that reforming America as its responsibility. This philosophy, termed “neopraetorianism” by the speaker, was abetted by officers infatuated with the idea that they were national ombudsmen with unlimited portfolios as opposed to military leaders with finite responsibilities. Moreover, the armed forces failed to appreciate that it was civil society’s largess that insulated the military from the problems that burdened so many civilian communities.

Believing that another lesson of Vietnam is the importance of perception management, the military has come  to regard the media and information more generally as simply things to be manipulated for its own purposes.

Postmodern militarism is not marked by overt military dominance or even a societal embrace of martial values. Rather, it is characterized by a growing willingness of an increasingly militarily-naive society to charge those in uniform with responsibilities that a democracy ought to leave to civilians.

It is a product of America’s deep frustration and disgust with elected government’s inability to work effectively, or to even labor honestly. The reason the military’s approval rating far exceeds that of every other institution in American society–including, significantly, the ones expected to exercise civilian control–is quite simple: it gets good things done.

Embattled politicians are ever more frequently turning to the military for quick-fixes: Can’t stop drugs? Call in the Navy. FEMA overwhelmed? Deploy the Airborne. Crime out of control? Put Guardsmen on the streets. Troubled youths? Marine role models and military boot camps. Need health care? Military medics to the rescue. Diplomats stumble again? Another Air Force mercy mission on the way. The unapologetically authoritarian military can “make the trains run on time,” but at what price?


Revealed: Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for ‘biblical warfare’

The group ‘Team Rugged’ offers ‘patriotic and biblical training’ that includes instruction on how to use knives and guns

August 14, 2019

by Jason Wilson

The Guardian

The Republican politician Matt Shea connected close allies with a group offering training to young men in “biblical warfare” that includes how to use knives, pistols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teachings of a Georgia-based neo-Confederate pastor, emails obtained by the Guardian reveal.

Shea, who is an elected Washington state representative, later made videos in support of the group, and appeared alongside them at a gathering at a religious community in remote eastern Washington. He also paid the founder of the group money from his campaign fund in 2018.

The emails, sent in July 2016, begin with an email from Patrick Caughran, who presents himself as the founder of a training group called Team Rugged. They were provided to the Guardian by a former Shea associate who was copied in on the exchange.

Caughran asks Shea to publicize a link to the group’s Facebook page, and put him in touch with “John Jacob Schmidt”, the nom de guerre of Shea associate, Jack Robertson. Robertson is a rightwing podcast host who advocates for conservatives to move to the “American Redoubt” in eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana, and, with Shea, campaigns for eastern Washington to secede and form its own state.

On Team Rugged website, it is described as “a Christian organization that strongly believes in building manly character and the capability to stand in adversity in young men”.

In his email to Shea, however, Caughran offers a different description, saying that the group exists “to provide patriotic and biblical training on war for young men”.

He continues: “Everything about it is both politically incorrect and what would be considered shocking truth to most modern Christians.”

Caughran also wrote: “There will be scenarios where every participant will have to fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists (sic)”.

Caughran goes on to detail the group’s training regime, writing that “there will be biblical teaching (some taken from pastor John Weaver’s works) on biblical warfare, the responsibilities, regulations, principles and mindset. So that our young men will be better prepared to fight against physical enemies, and to do so, God’s way and with His blessing”.

The Georgia-based Weaver is a controversial preacher whom the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a “leading proponent for training Christians for armed battle”.

As well as being a preacher, Weaver is a firearms instructor, and according to the SPLC has given weapons training to members of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group which marched at the far-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 that ended in the death of a protester.

In his email to Shea, Caughran goes on to list weapons training as part of the event for attendees. The training will “show them how to work better as a team, both in achieving physically demanding tasks and on the battlefield. Those who attend will learn combatives, the use of a knife in defense, close quarters shooting with rifle and pistol and how to work effectively in teams of 2, 3 and 4.”

In response to the request for Facebook promotion, Shea responds, from an address associated with his law practice, “It is scheduled to post tomorrow”. He then forwards it to Robertson aka John Jacob Schmidt, writing, “See below. From Marble meeting. JJS he wants to connect with you”.

In his email to Shea, Caughran goes on to list weapons training as part of the event for attendees. The training will “show them how to work better as a team, both in achieving physically demanding tasks and on the battlefield. Those who attend will learn combatives, the use of a knife in defense, close quarters shooting with rifle and pistol and how to work effectively in teams of 2, 3 and 4.”

In response to the request for Facebook promotion, Shea responds, from an address associated with his law practice, “It is scheduled to post tomorrow”. He then forwards it to Robertson aka John Jacob Schmidt, writing, “See below. From Marble meeting. JJS he wants to connect with you”.

An LLC called Team Rugged was registered in Washington in 2017 under the name of Michael P Caughran, 23, a resident of Colville, Washington, the seat of Stevens county. The email address in the filing is the same as the one that Caughran used to communicate with Shea.

In filing materials the business is described as providing “OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG MEN AND BOYS TO INCREASE THEIR GOOD CHARACTER AND SKILLS TO PERFORM IN TEAMS AND LEADERSHIP ROLES”. The business filed its most recent annual report in August 2018.

An initial filing for the LLC lists the executors of the company, including Barry Byrd, the pastor of Marble Community fellowship, as well as Lucas Olson and Michael Caughran, both of Lewiston, Idaho.

Marble Community Fellowship is a Christian community led by pastor Barry Byrd , with a compound on the Columbia River, not far from the Canadian border. It believes in rule by their interpretations of biblical law.

As of late July 2019, Team Rugged’s website listed Byrd as an instructor along with Caughran. The Team Rugged Facebook page listed several events in recent years at the Marble compound, including battles with Airsoft guns. Pictures on the Team Rugged website show young boys in fatigues in the forest, armed with Airsoft guns.

In 2018, representative Shea was revealed to have distributed a document entitled “Biblical Basis for War”, which appeared to lay out a plan for a theocratic takeover, including the instruction to “kill all males”. Shea denied this interpretation of the document, saying instead that the material was notes for a sermon.

In 2015, the year before the Team Rugged email from Caughran, Weaver appeared alongside Shea at the annual God and Country celebration at Marble.

Last May, the Guardian revealed that at the 2018 God and Country event, Shea warned of civil unrest while Robertson urged the audience to prepare for civil war.

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Shea interviews Team Rugged at the 2017 God and Country event, where he described the group as “returning to basic patriot principles”.

Shea, who rarely speaks to the media, and once called journalists “dirty, godless, hateful people”, did not respond to detailed questions sent via email.

Caughran did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Longtime Shea critic, and Republican, the Spokane county sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, said in a telephone conversation that “it almost sounds like going back to the Hitler Youth concept”.

Knezovich added: “There are lines that should never crossed. When you indoctrinate children in radicalized hate, then we wonder why we have the kind of shootings and bombings that we have around the world.”

A spokesman for the Washington Republican minority leader, JT Wilcox, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the Guardian’s previous revelations about Shea’s involvement in private chats, and his appearances on podcasts and public events, Washington’s state house has commenced an investigation into his activities, and has hired an outside firm to investigate Shea’s associations with political violence.


Facebook transcribed users’ audio and passed it on — report

Hundreds of contractors have been hired by Facebook to listen to and transcribe audio recorded from users, according to a Bloomberg report. Some of the contractors reportedly felt their work was “unethical.”

August 14, 2019


Facebook has tested its transcription tool by having outside contractors listen to audio recordings of its users, US media reported on Tuesday.

The practice, which was reported by Bloomberg, involved the users of Facebook Messenger. The report said the social media giant sent audio of anonymous conversations to at least one California-based company, where human employees would listen to and transcribe it.

Facebook has since said it stopped transcribing the audio recordings. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

‘Conspiracy theory’

Facebook has long dismissed rumors that it was listening to users’ private conversations in order to target them with ads.

In testimony before Congress last year, the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, called it a “conspiracy theory.”

“You’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads,” he told US lawmakers. “We don’t do that.”

Only with permission

On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed Bloomberg’s report but said the practice only affected users who opted to have their voice chats transcribed.

According to the article, Facebook has never informed users that third parties may review their audio. The company’s privacy policy says its “systems automatically process content and communications you and others provide” — but does not mention audio or human teams transcribing it.

When it comes to sharing users’ data with third parties, the company refers to “vendors and service providers who support our business,” but does not provide details.

Reviewers ‘rattled’

The contractors were not told how the audio was recorded or obtained. Facebook also did not tell them why the audio needed to be transcribed, Bloomberg reported.

Some of the employees felt their work was unethical and were rattled by the content, which occasionally contained vulgarity.

The latest report comes after Amazon, Apple and Google all came under criticism for collecting snippets from users’ conversations and passing them on to human reviewers. All three digital giants offer their own versions of voice assistants capable of responding to human speech.

Apple and Google have since said they would no longer use human reviewers to improve speech recognition and Amazon said it would let users opt out of the practice.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

August 14, 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. 72

Date: Sunday, March 2, 1997

Commenced: 1:45 PM CST

Concluded: 2:05 PM CST

GD: That’s either a vacuum cleaner in the background or the Martians are attacking.

RTC: I hate to disappoint you, Gregory. It’s indeed a vacuum cleaner.

GD: Well, we have spoken about flying saucers before so I thought you might have had a run in with them. It’s amazing, the stories people believe.

RTC: Or they want to believe.

GD: Well, crazy old L. Ron Hubbard tells us that his special people, the Thetans, were flown here from outer space in DC3s.

RTC: No, not that. In what? Piston engined aircraft? From….there is no atmosphere up there.

GD: Hubbard started Scientology in the early ‘50s and his writings are full of such silliness.

RTC: A crock of shit, all of it. Still, we were watching him when he was gadding around the Med in an old tub. No one had any idea what the old nut was up to and we knew he had KGB contacts. Not that he was pro-Commie but he was one of those people who believe his own nonsense and the Russians love to get their hands on such like. Stroke him like a cat and get him to work with them. They’re smart and he’s not. We knew his high command was full of foreign agents but we had a hell of a time getting at him. Very well protected. The KGB and the Stasi for sure and we think the Chinks had a hand in the game. The FBI had some snitches planted on him but the whole thing was like play time in a nut house. Still, the old fool made hundreds of millions of dollars of the sucker brigades and it is very hard to argue with that kind of scratch.

GD: Agreed. I am still trying to make up my mind whether Hubbard was a visionary or a self-deluded crook. Your people viewed him as a spy?

RTC: No, we did not but we felt he could do a lot of damage if we didn’t keep an eye on him.

GD: Did you?

RTC: Yes, we planted people with him. Strange, Gregory. The Company, the FBI, the KGB, the Stasi and others all used to work together, all playing roles. We mostly knew who the others were but just never mentioned.

GD: Hubbard died under odd circumstances out in California.

RTC: He was removed, Gregory. The old man was going around the bend and those just under him were afraid he would blow it and they would be kicked out, away from huge sums of money and with the money, growing political power.  One injection of the wrong kind and off he went to flying saucer heaven in the sky. They cremated the old man and dumped him into the ocean off the back of a fishing boat.

GD: Sic Gloria transit mundi.

RTC: Oh yes indeed..

GD: A friend of mine’s grandmother was cubically rich but getting really soft and the Scientologists got their hands on her. They wanted her to give all her money to them so my friend, knowing what I really am, came to me for assistance.

RTC: How much did you get out of it?

GD: You assume I was successful in driving them off.

RTC: That’s a given.

GD: I had a terrible time, especially with Linda. She was a vicious bitch and had her hooks into the old lady very deeply. I met her several times, passed off by my friend as a nephew. God, she hated me because she could see I didn’t believe a word of her nonsense. I had my problems with that one, believe it. First off, I got the old lady to like and trust me. Believe me, I can do that when I want to. Anyway, I got a power of attorney from her, put all her money into an iron-clad trust with the interest going to her and a percentage to her grandson. I mean she was a very decent person but talking to dead relatives and losing bladder control. I got her into a really excellent nursing home that I inspected very carefully. I used to work for Catholic Charities and I know something about nursing homes. Anyway, I made sure the old girl was safe and then I dealt with Linda. She was livid with rage over my presence so I had to neutralize her. It took a baggie of heroin under the front seat of her car, a silenced pistol in the trunk and two telephone calls and Linda was trying to convert people in her cellblock.

RTC: I thought you might have dispatched her to be with Hubbard.

GD: I thought about it but it wasn’t worth it. The old lady was safe and sound and her grandson was set for life. Of course he was more than generous to me for my work but I got quite a view of the working side of the Scientology game. Very effective what with the e-meter and the gabble. A lot of pitiful dimwits running around, looking for answers from someone else. Linda bit a federal agent so they added assault to her ticket.

RTC: I take it you disapprove of the Scientologists?

GD: No, actually I don’t. I believe that everyone should find Heaven in their own way. But not on my front porch and not pushing money into the pockets of thieving politicians . I have Mormon friends and I have the highest regard for their family life. Fine people with well-raised, first class children. They have very strange beliefs but I pay more attention to what they practice rather than what they preach.

RTC: Lots of LDS people in the Bureau.

GD: High minded and honest. I have no problem with that. The problem with cults like Scientology is that they want everyone to see what they see, or think they see, and they grab you by the lapels and shout in your face…and leave literature behind. I’m a practicing agnostic and a pragmatist, Robert, but from time to time, I have to deal with nasty people like Linda. I knew a fellow that was great company until I learned that he was sexually abusing his children. It took me two weeks of hard work, Robert, but he got caught and sent off. Rob an insurance company or a bank and you get no response from me but mess with little children and you can believe me when I say that I will do everything in my power to stop it. Since I am ruthless and have no conscience whatsoever, I am usually successful. Oh yes, and going after crazy old ladies is another of my annoyances. Linda did three years and although I have not encountered her after her fall from grace, I would imagine she goes a bit more quietly now.

RTC: Given all of that, what would you do if she ran up on you now?

GD: Kill her, Robert, very dead. Take the remains out to a big hog farm and toss them over the fence. Hogs will eat anything, even dead Scientologists.

RTC: They tell me hogs are smart.

GD: They are indeed but they are a wonderful garbage disposal system. And there Linda would be…and there Linda would be…and over there, that’s Linda too! What a fate, Robert. Steaming piles of hog turds in the mud.

RTC: Gregory, you are indeed rather unique. Have you done the hog farm thing?

GD: Only God and the hogs know that one. Ask and it shall not be answered but sniff and you might find.


(Concluded at 2:05PM CST)





Encyclopedia of American Loons

Ethan Huff

Ethan Huff is a staff writer at NaturalNews, and as such responsible for a fair proportion of the wild-eyed conspiracy theories and insane pseudoscience peddled there. Huff is perhaps most notable for his anti-vaccine articles, which is based on some of Sharyl Attkisson’s rants, but adds some extra conspiracy theories, viz. that when certain people he thought were going to support the anti-vaccine cause turned out not to, it must be because either i) Big Pharma got to them, or ii) they are mentally ill; yes, that’s how things go down in the epistemic abyss that is NaturalNews. As for his article “H1N1 vaccine linked to 700 percent increase in miscarriages,” well, it was based on the “research” by Eileen Dannemann – indeed, his only source is Dannemann; although several sources are listed, they are all based exhaustively on her. We have encountered Dannemann before. We have encountered other examples of misusing the VAERS database before, too, but Dannemann’s idiocy still manages to impress (she got some anecdotes, too, as well as her own press release – which she cited in her own “research”).

Huff has also weighed in on the scientific process. In particular, after a debate at the British Royal Society, where Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal (now The BMJ), took the role of attacking the current processes of research dissemination and hyperbolically called the peer review process a “sacred cow” ready to “slaughtered” Huff took it the only way someone in his cognitive situation could, and the result was the article “‘Sacred cow’ of industry science cult should be slaughtered for the good of humanity, BMJ editor says.” Of course, people like Huff really don’t like peer review, which is a process inherently biased against pseudoscientific, unsupported nonsense dreamed up by people with little understanding of the field they are trying to engage with. Apart from that, I don’t think Huff’s article needs much comment

It seems to illustrate a common strategy of Huff’s, though: Pick up some anecdotes, quackery, or anti-science covered somewhere else and, if necessary, add some conspiracy theories before covering it on NaturalNews – Huff reported on a very, very dubious breast cancer testimonial reported in The Sun – dubious, in that the person in question, though praising altmed quackery for her recovery, was in fact cured – to the extent she was – by conventional medicine. Or just go for the tinfoil-hat-level conspiracies: In a preemptive review of the movie Contagion, based on the trailer, Huff penned “Hollywood begins mass brainwashing campaign to get people ready for the next bioengineered virus release.” No seriously: “The entertainment industry is no stranger to government propaganda campaigns, and the latest Hollywood flicks are no exception. A quick look at the trailer for the upcoming release of the movie Contagion reveals what appears to be a massive brainwashing campaign designed to prepare the American psyche for the next [!] intentional release of a bioengineered virus – and it also conveniently and subtly programs viewers into accepting the idea that vaccines might be the solution to a major, devastating disease outbreak.” And you have no idea how deep the conspiracy goes: You may not have noticed, but Huff has, that the themes of major movie releases over the past several decades are predictive of what ends up taking place not too long afterwards, which clearly shows “that Hollywood is deeply connected to the agendas of those that are now in control of various world governments, including the US government.” For instance, the movie Armageddon clearly predicted 9/11 since it mentioned the possibility of an asteroid hitting New York, and that proves that the government masterminded 9/11 and that Hollywood is in on it. Reflect on that, sheeple

Meanwhile, Huff is doing his best to protect you from the big bad wolves in the name of “health freedom”. Huff has for instance promoted, and urged his readers to tell Congress to support, a bill entitled the “Free Speech About Science” (FSAS) Act of 2011, which curbs the FDA’s powers to hold supplement manufacturers accountable for the health benefits of the snakeoil they make – basically that such companies’s right to “free speech” means that they shouldn’t be forced to back up their claims with evidence (“the bill will amend current law to allow growers and manufacturers to freely share honest information about food and supplements with their customers,” according to Huff). Clearly, stopping poor supplement manufacturers from falsely advertising their products is an abuse of the health freedom of average Americans. (Defense of supplement manufacturers is a recurring theme of Huff’s).

You get the gist.

Diagnosis: Once again: you get the gist. Ethan Huff is an utterly lunatic tinfoil hatter and hard to distinguish from people with epilepsy-inducing webpage designs and weird font choices who are complaining that the lizard people in their TVs have possessed their ex-partners, were it not for the fact that Huff is usually able to stick to ordinary grammar conventions. And even so, NaturalNews can apparently pride themselves on a rather substantial readership.




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