TBR News August 20, 2016

Aug 20 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 20, 2016: “Washington official circles are extremely angry with Turkey for Erdrogan’s approaches to both Vladimir Putin and the PRC. Although Turkey and Russia have been traditional enemies, Erdrogan is furious with the United States’ perceived hostility to his growing dictatorial graspings and is moving, in public, towards a Russian alliance. He has, in essence, walking away from Nato and also on the disintegrating EU. Turkey is also involved with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that also involves Russia and Iran. Erdrogen is seeking a military and economic alliance with Russia and an economic alliance with the PRC.

Russia feels that Turkish assistance could assist them in their support of Assad. True, Turkey is basically Sunni in the Moslem faith and since the Saudi-organized IS is an arm militant of that branch of the faith, they clandestinely cooperate with IS.Turkey is also afraid of the Kurdish separatists because about 25% of Turkey’s population is Kurdish and must be silenced. Turkey is now also communicating with Iran and this could result in an armistice between the Jihadic Sunnis

Russia clearly sees that it would be important to gain Turkey’s assistance in containing the Sunnis in Syria, as well as achieving strong influence in the Middle East.

The United States and the EU/Nato people do not wish to have a and the other NATO countries don’t want to appear to have an open breach with Erdroden. They do not want to force Turkey out of Nato and the EU does not want to so antagonize him that he reneges on his refugee acceptance agreement

Erdogan is outraged that the United States will not extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. They blame him, with justification, for instigating the recent failed putsch and feel, again with justification, the elements in the American intelligence community were also involved.

The incident in which the Turks shot down a Russian plane was instigated by the CIA who told Erdogen that if Russia attacked them because of this, Nato would rush to their defense. Nato did not and Putin retaliated with economic sanctions against Turkey that did very considerable damage to that country. As is their habit, the CIA expressed dismay at the sanctions but did nothing to support Erdogen. In essence, like their behavior in the Ukraine, they ran away.

It is obvious from all of this that Vladimir Putin is always two, or three, steps ahead of his trade enemies in Washington. It is a pity that the United States cannot find a statesman like Putin to run the country as Putin does for Russia.

Instead, the American people are ruled by business and banking cartels and her leading politicians have all the integrity of a Bessarabian rag picker.”

Russia’s Middle East breakthrough… no wonder Washington’s grouchy

August 19, 2016

by Finian Cunningham


Russia’s air raids in Syria, launched from Iranian territory this week, were received by Washington with a mixture of consternation and disappointment. Understandably, too. It marks a breakthrough in Russia’s standing in the Middle East.

Russia is working closely in a quartet that includes Iran, Iraq and Syria. We can add Lebanon because of the cooperation on the ground in Syria with Hezbollah, which is one of the governing coalition partners in Beirut.

Even Middle East countries, thought of as Washington’s partners, are showing a newfound appreciation of Russia and the leadership provided by President Vladimir Putin. The notably conciliatory relations between Turkey and Russia – in the wake of a failed coup that Ankara implicates a cleric who lives in the US in – speaks of a tectonic shift in regional geopolitics.

Despite deep differences over Syria, Russia has managed to retain cordial relations with other states normally considered American proteges and enemies of Moscow’s ally in Syria. Putin has over the past year warmly received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while also respectfully hosting Saudi leaders in Moscow. Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was recently welcomed in the Persian Gulf’s Qatari capital, Doha, for high-level talks on Middle East conflict resolution.

Contrast this all-round respect for Russia with America’s increasingly dismal reputation. Decades of US-led destructive wars, failed nation-building schemes and regime-change machinations have diminished Washington’s standing in the region, even among its supposed partners. Privately and publicly, the Israelis, Turks and Saudis seem to harbor contempt towards their American patron in spite of official designation as allies.

When Russian long-range Tu-22M3 bombers took off from western Iran this week to conduct missions in Syria it signaled that Moscow is the emerging dominant player in the region after decades of presumed American hegemony.

The very fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran for the first time since the 1979 revolution made the unprecedented provision to its constitution to allow a foreign power to use its territory for military purpose is testimony to Russia’s sway in the sensitive region.

Even official enemies of Iran – Israel and Saudi Arabia – cannot but acknowledge the significance. Iran, which has defied decades of Western-imposed sanctions out of principle for its sovereign rights, is willing to trust Russia’s military with territorial access.

This must be seen as a measure of Russia’s integrity in conducting international relations. Unlike Washington which is mired in double dealing and treachery as even its supposed closest allies all too well know. In short, Washington has a trust deficit.

Whereas Russia – whatever some states may feel about its allies in Syria and Iran – can nevertheless be seen for genuinely sticking by its commitments.

Before Vladimir Putin ordered Russian military intervention in Syria at the end of last September, the government of President Bashar Assad was on the ropes. Rebels and foreign-backed militants were threatening to topple Assad in accordance with the objective of regime change supported by Washington and its NATO allies, Britain and France, and partners across the region – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.

Putin’s bold intervention in defense of Russia’s longtime ally in Damascus completely reversed the tide of war. In less than a year, the Syrian state has recovered much of its territory, and it is the foreign-backed militants who are now facing defeat.

The recent about-turn by Turkey – once a gung-ho backer of the militants in Syria – to call for closer cooperation with Russia and Iran in settling the Syrian conflict is tacit admission that the covert war for regime change is all but over. And it is Russia’s power that achieved the outcome.

A New York Times report earlier this month was candid in its assessment of Russia’s strategic success in Syria.

Alluding the wider geopolitical ramifications, the newspaper editorializes: “For the first time since Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Russian military for the past year has been in direct combat with rebel forces trained and supplied by the CIA. The American-supplied Afghan fighters prevailed during that Cold War conflict. But this time the outcome – thus far – has been different.”

The NY Times added: “Russia’s battlefield successes in Syria have given Moscow, isolated by the West after its annexation [sic] of Crimea and other incursions into Ukraine, new leverage in decisions about the future of the Middle East.”

This is why Washington’s reaction to Russia’s breakthrough military cooperation with Iran in the Syrian war was weirdly downcast.

The US State Department described the more effective deployment of Russian air power in Syria as “unfortunate”. And it decried the closer liaison between Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria as “doubling down” to prop up the Assad “regime”.

Russia had notified the US of its overflights from Iran through Iraq to Syria in accordance with their “deconfliction procedure”. But it was evident that Russia was not seeking consultation from Washington. Moscow had determined the plan and was going ahead with it regardless of Washington’s misgivings.

American disquiet over the Russian-Iranian move was revealing. At first, Washington tried to quibble about legalities, claiming that the Russian military flights contravened a UN Security Council resolution barring “supply, sale or transfer of combat aircraft to Iran”.

But as Russia’s Sergey Lavrov pointed out the arrangement involved none of these.

“These military aircraft are used by air forces after Iran’s authorization for taking part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria after a legitimate request from its government,” he said on Wednesday.

Then Washington objected with the threadbare trope that the Russian air raids on Deir ez-Zor, Aleppo and Idlib were striking “moderate rebels”. State Department spokesman Mark Toner assured reporters that the Russian targets were not extremists belonging to Islamic State or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (rebranded from Al-Nusra), but rather were “predominantly moderate” rebels supported by the United States.

Strangely though in his press conference response to the Russian operations, US military spokesman for Syria and Iraq, Colonel Chris Carver said that he did not know where the proscribed terror groups were located in the targeted areas.

So how come the State Department knows it was “moderates” that the Russians were hitting but the Pentagon can’t say where the “terrorists” are?

While Russia is winning the war in Syria on behalf of the sovereign authorities with the majority support of the Syrian people, Washington is seen doubling down on double talk and double think in its collusion with terrorist proxies.

Washington is losing all credibility in the strategically pivotal region because it has for too long pivoted between criminal schemes and duplicity. Even traditional partners and clients can see this unedifying spectacle of sordid US conduct. Feckless, unreliable American power is something to disdain, if not dread.

Russia has stood firm with its allies, and, as Syria attests, has carried out the mission it said it would, without mendacity or intrigue. That integrity is surely worthy of respect among allies, non-aligned states and foes alike.

For too long Russia witnessed the Americans carve up and mutilate the Middle East with wars and subversions, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya and Syria. Syria has marked a historic turning point in Washington’s depredations in the Middle East.

And Russia has emerged as a serious countervailing force to be reckoned with. Fortunately.

China and the US Are Approaching Dangerous Seas

It’s not just the chilling rhetoric. In the past five months, warships from both sides have done everything but ram one another

August 20, 2016

by Conn Hallinan,


A combination of recent events, underpinned by long-running historical strains reaching back more than 60 years, has turned the western Pacific into one of the most hazardous spots on the globe. The tension between China and the United States “is one of the most striking and dangerous themes in international politics,” says The Financial Times’ longtime commentator and China hand, Gideon Rachman.

In just the past five months, warships from both countries – including Washington’s closest ally in the region, Japan – have done everything but ram one another. And, as Beijing continues to build bases on scattered islands in the South China Sea, the United States is deploying long-range nuclear capable strategic bombers in Australia and Guam.

At times the rhetoric from both sides is chilling. When Washington sent two aircraft carrier battle groups into the area, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun cautioned the Americans to “be careful.” While one U.S. admiral suggested drawing “the line” at the Spratly Islands close to the Philippines, an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times warned that US actions “raised the risk of physical confrontation with China.” The newspaper went on to warn that “if the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

Earlier this month China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said Beijing should prepare for a “people’s war at sea.”

Add to this the appointment of an extreme right-wing nationalist as Japan’s defense minister and the decision to deploy antiballistic missile interceptors in South Korea and the term “volatile region” is a major understatement.

A History of Conflict

Some of these tensions go back to the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco that formally ended World War II in Asia. That document, according to Canadian researcher Kimie Hara, was drawn up to be deliberately ambiguous about the ownership of a scatter of islands and reefs in the East and South China seas. That ambiguity set up tensions in the region that Washington could then exploit to keep potential rivals off balance.

The current standoff between China and Japan over the Senkakus/Diaoyu islands – the Japanese use the former name, the Chinese the latter – is a direct outcome of the treaty. Although Washington has no official position on which country owns the tiny uninhabited archipelago, it is committed to defend Japan in case of any military conflict with China. On Aug. 2 the Japanese Defense Ministry accused China of engaging in “dangerous acts that could cause unintended consequences.”

Tokyo’s new defense minister, Tomomi Inada, is a regular visitor to the Yasukuni shrine that honors Japan’s war criminals, and she is a critic of the postwar Tokyo war crimes trials. She has also called for reexamining the 1937 Nanjing massacre that saw Japanese troops murder as many as 300,000 Chinese. Her appointment by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems almost calculated to anger Beijing.

Abe is also pushing hard to overturn a part of the Japanese constitution that bars Tokyo from using its military forces for anything but defending itself. Japan has one of the largest and most sophisticated navies in the world.

Over the past several weeks, Chinese Coast Guard vessels and fishing boats have challenged Japan’s territorial claims on the islands, and Chinese and Japanese warplanes have been playing chicken. In one particularly worrisome incident, a Japanese fighter locked its combat radar on a Chinese fighter-bomber.

Behind the bellicose behavior on the China and US sides is underlying insecurity, a dangerous condition when two nuclear-armed powers are at loggerheads.

Containment Updated

From Beijing’s perspective, Washington is trying to “contain” China by ringing it with American allies, much as the United States did to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Given recent moves in the region, it is hard to argue with Beijing’s conclusion.

After a 20-year absence, the US military is back in the Philippines. Washington is deploying antimissile systems in South Korea and Japan and deepening its military relations with Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India. The Obama administration’s “Asia pivot” has attempted to shift the bulk of US armed forces from the Atlantic and the Middle East to Asia. Washington’s Air Sea Battle strategy – just renamed “Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons” – envisions neutralizing China’s ability to defend its home waters.

China is in the process of modernizing much of its military, in large part because Beijing was spooked by two American operations. First, the Chinese were stunned by how quickly the US military annihilated the Iraqi army in the first Gulf War, with virtually no casualties on the American side. Then there was having to back down in 1996, when the Clinton administration deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups in the Taiwan Straits during a period of sharp tension between Beijing and Taipei.

In spite of all its upgrades, however, China’s military is a long way from challenging the United States. The Chinese navy has one small aircraft carrier, the United States has 10 enormous ones, plus a nuclear arsenal vastly bigger than Beijing’s modest force. China’s last war was its disastrous 1979 invasion of Vietnam, and the general US view of the Chinese military is that it is a paper dragon.

That thinking is paralleled in Japan, which is worrisome. Japan’s aggressive nationalist government is more likely to initiate something with China than is the United States. For instance, Japan started the crisis over the Senkaku/Diaoyus. First, Tokyo violated an agreement with Beijing by arresting some Chinese fishermen and then unilaterally annexed the islands. The Japanese military has always had an over-inflated opinion of itself and traditionally underestimated Chinese capabilities.

In short, the United States and Japan are not intimidated by China’s New Model Army, nor do they see it as a serious threat. That is dangerous thinking if it leads to the conclusion that China will always back down when a confrontation turns ugly. Belligerence and illusion are perilous companions in the current tense atmosphere.

Rising Risk of Nuclear War

The scheduled deployment of the US Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile systems has convinced Beijing that the United States is attempting to neutralize China’s nuclear missile force, not an irrational conclusion. Although antimissile systems are billed as “defensive,” they can just as easily be considered part of the basic US“counterforce” strategy. The latter calls for a first strike on an opponent’s missiles, backstopped by an antiballistic missile system that would destroy any enemy missiles the first strike missed.

China is pledged not to use nuclear weapons first. But given the growing ring of US bases and deployment of antimissile systems, that may change. It is considering moving to a “launch-on-warning” strategy, which would greatly increase the possibility of an accidental nuclear war.

The AirSea Battle strategy calls for conventional missile strikes aimed at knocking out command centers and radar facilities deep in Chinese territory. But given the US“counterforce” strategy, Chinese commanders might assume that those conventional missiles are nuclear-tipped and aimed at decapitating China’s nuclear deterrent.

According to Amitai Etzioni of Washington University, a former senior advisor to President Jimmy Carter, “China is likely to respond to what is effectively a major attack on its mainland with all the military means at its disposal – including its stockpile of nuclear arms.”

A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded that if China moves to “launch on warning,” such a change “would dramatically increase the risk of a nuclear exchange by accident – a dangerous shift that the US could help to avert.”

President Obama is said to be considering adopting a “no-first-use” pledge, but he has come up against stiff opposition from his military and the Republicans. “I would be concerned about such a policy,” says US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “Having a certain degree of ambiguity is not necessarily a bad thing.”

But given the possibility of accidents – or panic by military commanders – ”ambiguity” increases the risk that someone could misinterpret an action. Once a nuclear exchange begins it may be impossible to stop, particularly since the US“counterforce” strategy targets an opponent’s missiles. “Use them, or lose them” is an old saying among nuclear warriors.

In any case, the standard response to an antimissile system is to build more launchers and warheads, something the world does not need more of.

China Alienates the Region

Although China has legitimate security concerns, the way it has pursued them has won it few friends in the region. Beijing has bullied Vietnam in the Paracel islands, pushed the Philippines around in the Spratly islands, and pretty much alienated everyone in the region except its close allies in North Korea, Laos, and Cambodia. China’s claims – its so-called “nine dash line” – covers most the South China Sea, an area through which some $5 trillion in trade passes each year. It is also an area rich in minerals and fishing resources.

China’s ham-fisted approach has given the United States an opportunity to inject itself into the dispute as a “defender” of small countries with their own claims on reefs, islands, and shoals. The United States has stepped up air and sea patrols in the region, which at times has seen Chinese and American and Japanese warships bow to bow and their warplanes wing tip to wing tip.

The recent decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague that China has no exclusive claim on the South China Sea has temporarily increased tensions, although it has the potential to resolve some of the ongoing disputes without continuing the current saber rattling.

China is a signatory to the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty, as are other countries bordering the South China Sea (the US Senate refuses to ratify the treaty). China has never tried to interfere with the huge volume of commerce that traverses the region, trade that, in any case, greatly benefits the Chinese. Beijing’s major concern is defending its long coastline.

If the countries in the region would rely on the Law of the Sea to resolve disputes, it would probably work out well for everyone concerned. The Chinese would have to back off from their “nine-dash-line” claims in the South China Sea, but they would likely end up in control of the Senkakus/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

But to cool the current tensions Washington would also have to ratchet down its military buildup in Asia. That will be difficult for the Americans to accept. Since the end of World War II, the US has been the big dog on the block in the western Pacific, but that is coming to an end. According to the International Monetary Fund, China surpassed the US economy in 2014 to become the world’s largest. Of the four largest economies on the globe, three are in Asia: China, Japan, and India.

Simple demographics are shifting the balance of economic and political power from Europe and the United States to Asia. By 2015, more than 66 percent of the world’s population will reside in Asia. In contrast, the United States makes up 5 percent and the European Union 7 percent. By 2050, the world’s “pin code” will be 1125: one billion people in Europe, one billion in the Americas, two billion in Africa, and five billion in Asia. Even the CIA predicts, “The era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 – is fast winding down.”

The US can resist that inevitability, but only by relying on its overwhelming military power and constructing an alliance system reminiscent of the Cold War. That should give pause to all concerned. The world was fortunate to emerge from that dark period without a nuclear war, but relying on luck is a dangerous strategy.

Christ the Essene

by Harry von Johnston. PhD

Jesus as a rebel

From the second century on, Christianity as a state religion was more and more dominated by patient obedience to authority. The Judaism of the previous century had been something quite different. It is a matter of historical record of the rebelliousness of those strata of Jews were who were expecting the Messiah at that time, especially the poor classes of Jerusalem and the bands of Galilee, the same elements from which Christianity initially arose.

The obvious assumption is that Christianity was violent in its beginnings. This assumption becomes a certainty when we see the gospels still have traces of it despite the fact that their later revisers tried most desperately to eliminate everything from them that might give offense to the powerful.

Although Jesus usually is made to appear as gentle and submissive, occasionally he says something of quite a different nature which suggests that whether or not he really existed or is only an imaginary, idea figure, he lived as a rebel in the original tradition, one who was said to have been crucified for his unsuccessful uprising.

He occasionally speaks of legality in a striking manner: “I come not to call the righteous, but the sinners” (Mark 2, verse 17). The Authorized Version translates: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” but this is a nonsensical alteration, like so many of later rewritings.

The early Christian propagandists obviously saw how dangerous it was for them to state that Jesus called to himself only those groups that were against legality or the established order. After all, Christianity has become an official Roman cult, not a poor Jewish one. Therefore a convenient rewriting of an earlier Luke added to the word “call” the phrase “to repentance” (eis metanoian), an addition which is also found in many manuscripts of Mark as well.

But this addition leaves the sentence without any meaning. Who would ever think of calling the “just” (dikaious) to repentance? Moreover this contradicts the context, for Jesus uses the expression because he is reproached for eating and associating with men who were despised; he is not pictured as exhorting them to change their way of life. No one would have held “calling sinners to repentance” against him.

This passage signifies contempt of traditional law; but the words in which Jesus announces the coming of the Messiah point to violence: The existing Roman Empire will go down in fearful slaughter; and the saints should by no means play a passive role in it.

Jesus declares:

“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and the two against three” (Luke 12, verses 49 ff.).

In Matthew it runs directly:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: Ii come not to send peace, but a sword” (10, verse 34).

Arriving in Jerusalem at Eastertide, he drives the moneychangers out of the temple, something that is inconceivable without the forcible action of a large mob excited by him.

Shortly thereafter, at the Last Supper, just before the catastrophe on the Mount of Olives, Jesus says to his disciples:

“But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this is written must yet be accomplished in me. And he was reckoned among the transgressors (anomon): for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough” (Luke 22, verses 35 ff.).

Immediately after this, they come up against the armed power of the state on the Mount of Olives. Jesus and other leaders are about to be arrested.

“When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear” (Luke 22, verses 49 ff.).

However, Jesus, according to the Gospel story, is against all bloodshed, lets himself be fettered and executed without resistance, while his comrades are not molested at all.

In point of fact, the exact opposite was true.

In the form just given this is a very strange story, full of contradictions, and originally it must have run quite differently.

Jesus calls for swords, as though the hour of action had come; his faithful followers go out armed with swords- and when they meet the enemy and draw their swords, Jesus suddenly declares that he is against any use of force, on principle- naturally most sharply in Matthew:

“Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angles? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled…?” (26, verses 52 ff.).

Now if Jesus had been against all violence altogether, why should he have called for swords initially? Why did he direct his friends to go along with him carrying arms?

This contradiction becomes intelligible only if we assume that the Christian tradition originally told of a planned coup de main in the course of which Jesus was alleged to have been taken prisoner, a bold stroke for which the time seemed good after the driving of the money changers from the temple had been successful.

The later editors did not dare simply to do away with this story, whose roots went deep; instead, they blunted its point, reducing the use of force to an act attempted by the apostles against Jesus’ will.

It may not be without significance that the clash took place on the Mount of Olives. That was the best place from which to make an attempt on Jerusalem.

We may remember the account of Josephus about the plot against Roman authority of an Egyptian Jew under the procurator Felix (52 to 60 CE).

This man, an Egyptian Jew, according to Josephus, came out of the desert with a force of 30,000 and went up the Mount of Olives in order to fall on the city of Jerusalem, expel the Roman garrison and become ruler. Felix engaged the Egyptian in battle and dispersed his followers. The leader himself succeeded in escaping.

Comparison between the Dead Sea scroll from cave 3 with the text of Josephus, one immediately can see the historical connection with Jesus.

The history of Josephus is full of similar occurrences. They show the state of mind of the Jewish population at the time of Jesus. An attempted putsch by the prophet, Jesus, would be fully in accord with it.

If we think of his undertaking as such an attempt, the treason of Judas becomes understandable as well, intertwined as it is with this questionable account.

At the time in question even the peaceful Essenes, who had traditionally been against any struggle or political rebellion, were carried away by the general patriotism. We find Essenes among the Jewish generals in the last great Jewish war against the Romans. Thus for example Josephus tells of the beginning of the war:

“The Jews had chosen three mighty generals, who were not only gifted with bodily strength and courage, but also endowed with understanding and wisdom, Niger from Peraea, Sylas from Babylon and John the Essene.”

Given the revolutionary attitude that was sweeping throughout all Jewry in that era, the sect that arose out of this attempted revolt would gain a propaganda advantage by emphasizing it, so that it would become fixed in tradition and in the process particularly exaggerate and ornament the person of Jesus, its hero.

The situation changed however once Jerusalem was destroyed. With the Jewish community dispersal,  the last trace of democratic opposition disappeared in the Roman Empire. At about the same time the civil wars among the Romans ended as well and obedience to the law was firmly established.

In the two centuries from the Maccabees to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the Eastern Mediterranean basin had been in a state of constant unrest, not unlike the present period. One regime after another fell; one nation after another lost its independence or its dominant position. The power that directly or indirectly brought about all these revolutions, the Roman commonwealth, was torn by the stormiest inner disorders during this period, from the Gracci to Vespasian, disorders which more and more emanated from the armies and their generals.

This was a period in which the expectation of a Messiah developed in radical Jewish religious circles and solidified; during it no political organization seemed permanent; all of them seemed merely provisional, while political revolution was the inevitable, always to be expected.

The “golden age” of the Empire, a general state of internal peace that lasted over a hundred years, from Vespasian (69 CE) to Commodus (180 CE). Unrest had been the rule for the previous two hundred years; in this century quiet was the rule. Political changes, which had been the normal thing, now became abnormal. Submission to the imperial power, patient obedience, now seemed not merely a counsel of prudence for cowards, but struck deep roots as a moral obligation.

This naturally had its effect on the emerging Christian community. They could have no more use for a Messiah of rebellion, since at the time it had suited Jewish thinking. Their very moral thinking rose up against that. Yet since they had become accustomed to worship Jesus as their God, the epitome of all the virtues, the change did not take place by dropping the person of the rebellious Jesus and replicating it by the idea picture of a different personality better suited to the new condition; instead, the Christian community kept removing everything rebellious from the picture of their god Jesus and changed the rebellious Jesus into a suffering one who was put to death not because of an uprising but only because of his infinite goodness and holiness, by means of the wickedness of the insidious and invidious.

This rewriting of history was done so clumsily and by such ignorant people that traces of the original Greek texts can still be seen, and from them the whole picture can be inferred. It is because these remains do not fit in with the later revisions that it is safe to assume that they are part of an earlier, genuine account.

There was no shortage of Messiahs at the time of Jesus, especially not in Galilee, where prophets and leaders of bands were constantly springing up, proclaiming themselves to be saviors and anointed of the Lord. But if one of them was defeated by the power of the Romans, was taken, crucified or slain, that put an end to his role as the Messiah, for in that case he was regarded as a false prophet and false Messiah. The real one was still to come.

The Christian community clung to its champion. The Messiah was still to come in his glory, but the Messiah to come was none other than the one who had come, the allegedly crucified one who was believed to have arisen three days after his purported death and ascended into Heaven after revealing himself to his following.

This conception was peculiar to the Christian community.

What were its origins?

In the primitive Christian view it was the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day after his alleged crucifixion that, to them at least, proved his divine nature and justified the expectation of his return from Heaven. That is as far as the theologians have got, even at the present time. Most historians do not now take the resurrection literally. According to them, if Jesus was indeed crucified, he did not actually arise, but his disciples believed that had seen him in ecstatic raptures after his death, and inferred from that his divine nature.

According to this, we should attribute the spread of the Messiah-belief of the primitive Christian community, and hence all the enormous historical phenomenon of Christianity, to an hallucination of a single unimportant person.

It is by no means impossible that one of the apostles had a vision of the crucified or vanished one. It is possible too that this vision found believers, since the period was an exceptionally credulous one and Judaism was deeply permeated by the belief in resurrection. Wakings from the dead were not considered as something incomprehensible.

Posterity, we know, weaves no garlands for the actor; but in this as in other points the player and the religious minister have much in common. What is true for the actor can be said of the preacher as well, if he limits himself to preaching and works only through his personality and leaves no works behind him which outlast his person. No matter how moving or elevating his sermons may be, they cannot have the same effect on people that do not hear them and know of them only by hearsay. His person will leave them cold; it will not touch their fancy.

No one leaves the memory of his personality beyond the circles of those who knew him personally, unless he leaves some creation that is impressive apart from his personality, an art work like a building, a picture, a piece of music, or a poem; or a scientific achievement, an ordered collection of materials, a theory, an invention or discovery; or a political or social institution or organization of some kind that he called into being or in whose creation and erection he had a prominent part.

So long as such a work lasts and operates, interest in the personality of its creator will last. Indeed, if such a creation goes unnoticed in his lifetime, and grows in significance after his death, as is often the case for discoveries, inventions and organizations, it is possible for the interest in the creator of the work to begin only after his death and keep growing.

The less attention was paid to him during his life, the less that is known of his personality, the more the imagination is aroused; and if his work is a powerful one, the greater the crown of anecdotes and legends that will be spun around it.

Man’s need for causes, which seeks in every social event- and originally in every natural event- for an active person who brought it about, is so great that it tends to make men invent an originator for any production of great importance, or to connect it with some traditional name if the real originator is forgotten or if, as often happens, the discovery is the product of the untied powers of so many men, no one standing out beyond the others, that it would have been utterly impossible to name one definite originator.

The reason why the Messianic career of Jesus did not end in the same way as those of the Judases and Theudases and other Messiahs of the period is not his personality, but the later developed and created dogma that was specifically linked with his name.

Fanatical confidence in the personality of the prophet, thirst for miracles, ecstasy, belief in the resurrection- all these are to be found among the adherents of the other Messiahs as well as among those of Jesus. The only difference between Jesus and the other Messiahs is that the others did not leave anything behind in which their personalities lived on, while Jesus bequeathed an organization, the Essenes,  with institutions excellently adapted to holding his adherents together and attracting new ones.

The other Messiahs merely gathered bands together for an uprising; if defeated the bands scattered. But Jesus was not merely a rebel, he was also the representative and champion, and perhaps the founder, of an organization that survived him and kept growing stronger and more powerful. Though the Essenes were decimated by the Romans and, aside from a few hidden groups, effectively destroyed as an entity, fragments of the cult remained and later, much later, fell into the hands of competent organizers who were also fanatical in nature.

The traditional assumption has been that the community of Jesus was not organized by the apostles until after his death or disappearance. But nothing compels us to make this improbable assumption, no less an assumption than that immediately after Jesus and vanished  his adherents introduced something entirely new into his doctrine, something he had not considered and willed; and that people who had hitherto been unorganized entered into an organization he had never intended, and that right at the moment of a defeat that was capable of breaking up a solid organization. Judging by the analogy of similar organizations whose beginnings are better know, it would be closer to the truth to assume that communistic mutual aid societies of the poor of Jerusalem with Messianic overtones had existed before Jesus, and that a bold agitator and rebel of this name from Galilee was only their most outstanding champion and martyr.

According to John the twelve apostles had a common purse even in Jesus’ lifetime. But Jesus requires that every other disciple as well contribute all his property. This is, of course, Essene policy.

The Acts of the Apostles nowhere states that the apostles first organized the community after the death of Jesus, we find it already organized at that time, holding meetings of its members and performing its functions. The first mention of a communistic community in the Acts of the Apostles runs as follows: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (2, verse 42). That is, they continued their previous common meals and other communistic practices. If this had been newly introduced after the death of Jesus, the version would have to be quite different.

The communal organization was the link that kept Jesus’ following together even after his disappearance and preserved the memory of their vanished champion, who had proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, according to the tradition. The more the organization grew, and the more powerful it became, the more its martyrs must have occupied the imagination of the members, and the more they must have revolted at considering the crucified, or departed, Messiah as false; the more too must they have felt themselves impelled to regard him as the genuine one, despite his death or disappearance, as the Messiah that would come again in all his glory; the more they inclined to believe in his resurrection or reappearance, and the more did faith in the Messianic nature of the crucified or vanished  one and in his resurrection become the mark of the organization, setting it apart from the believers in other Messiahs. If the belief in the resurrection of him who was believed to have been crucified stemmed from the effect that his organization produced, that belief would become stronger and more luxuriant as the organization grew; and the less positive information there was about the person of Jesus, the less the imagination of his Essene and other worshippers would be hampered by definite facts.

Pentagon can’t account for $6.5 trillion of taxpayer money – IG report

August 20, 2016


The Pentagon failed to account for $6.5 trillion in its financial statement, a recently-recovered Inspector General’s report on the 2015 fiscal year said. It reveals the audit of the Department of Defense was “materially misstated.”

The army failed to provide “accurate, complete, timely and well-supported” documents that could have explained the use of trillions of dollars in quarterly and yearend adjustments.

The US military made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year, but could not provide anything that would detail what it spent the money on.

There were a total of 64,321 journal voucher (JV) adjustments made in the third quarter and 142,355 by the yearend, but only 7,083 of them were supported with detailed documentation of transactions.

The IG has also found that 16,513 of 1.3 million records were “removed” from the Pentagon’s budget system during the third quarter of the 2015 fiscal year.

“Without support for why these records were removed, we could not determine whether the records continued valid transactions,” the IG said, adding that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis (DFAS Indianapolis) could not explain why the files were removed.

At the same time, data that Army General Funds (AGF) cited in its financial reports in both the third quarter and yearend “were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail,” which are necessary to confirm “accuracy, completeness and timeliness” of transactions, the Department of Defense Inspector General found.

The IG obtained computer-processed data, which the report said only supported the conclusions, even though investigators could not “attest to the reliability” of the files they obtained from the Army.

DFAS Indianapolis said that misstated adjustment occurred because they “decided to use system-generated adjustments rather than manual” when preparing AGF’s financial statements.

“The unsupported JV adjustments occurred because OASA(FM&C) and DFAS Indianapolis did not prioritize correcting the system deficiencies that caused errors resulting in JV adjustments,” the IG said, adding that “sufficient guidance for supporting system-generated adjustments” was not provided either.

However, the military has reportedly downplayed the severity of the findings.

“Though there is a high number of adjustments, we believe the financial statement information is more accurate than implied in this report,” an army spokesman told Reuters, stressing the Pentagon’s eagerness to root out problems.

In 2015, Army General Funds reported assets of $282.6 billion and $42.7 billion in liabilities as well as budgetary resources of $ 219.5 billion.

Earlier this year, Congress set a September 30, 2017 deadline for the DoD to obtain a full financial statement, but there is a risk that “the Army will not achieve audit readiness.”

The findings by the DOD’s IG were released back on July 26, but at the time, the report failed to attract attention to the Pentagon’s fudged accounting.

However, the Pentagon – the single largest US government bureaucracy – has been accused of delaying its financial accounting multiple times.

A former Defense Inspector General official in charge of auditing the Army General Fund, Jack Armstrong, told Reuters that the same type of unjustified changes to Army financial statements, as the IG’s report revealed, were already being made when he retired in 2010.

“They don’t know what the heck the balances should be,” Armstrong said.

US scrambles jets to protect Kurdish allies from Syrian warplanes

The United States sent jets to protect its troops and Kurdish allies from Syrian airstrikes. After days of intense fighting in Hasakeh, some fear the clashes there could usher in a new dimension to the Syrian war.

August 19, 2016


The United States scrambled fighter jets to protect Syrian Kurdish forces, the Pentagon said Friday, as Syrian warplanes bombed the northeastern city of Hasakeh for a second day.

The US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has been clashing with regime forces in the city since Wednesday, adding a new dimension to the country’s war as Syrian government troops and the YPG militia have seldom fought each other in a sustained manner.

The latest round of fighting is some of the most intense and represents the first time the regime has used its air force against the Kurds, with which about 300 American special operations advisors are embedded.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said US fighter jets were sent on Thursday to protect coalition forces, but Syrian warplanes had already left the area by the time they arrived.

“We did make clear that US aircraft would defend troops on the ground if threatened,” he said. “We will ensure their safety, and the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to do things that place them at risk. We view instances that place the coalition at risk with utmost seriousness, and we do have the inherent right of self-defense.”

The coalition is now conducting more air patrols in the area, Davis said. That didn’t appear to deter Syrian warplanes, which on Friday again carried out airstrikes.

The fighting has forced thousands of civilians to flee north and killed dozens, Kurdish media and officials said.

Most of Hasakeh city, the capital of the province with the same name, is under control of the YPG, but the regime has maintained control of other parts of the city during the five-year war.

The two sides have mostly avoided direct fighting but have periodically clashed in Hasakeh and Qamishli, a city near the border with Turkey, where the regime also controls some neighborhoods and the airport. The Kurds and the regime have often cooperated against rebel factions, particularly in Aleppo.

The Kurds control much of northeastern and northern Syria along the Turkish border, where they have set up an autonomous administration since the regime withdrew in 2012 to focus on rebel groups seeking President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster.

The clashes appear to be in response to a recent Kurdish demand that pro-government National Defense Forces militia leave Hasakeh.

A government source in the city told the AFP news agency that the airstrikes were “a message to the Kurds that they should stop this sort of demand that constitutes an affront to national sovereignty.”

Fighting in Hasakeh comes less than a week after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella of Arab and Kurdish militia, retook the strategic city of Manbij from the “Islamic State.” That victory opened the possibility that they may advance further west in a bid to completely seal the Turkish border.

In a statement on Thursday, the YPG said the regime was trying to undermine SDF and YPG successes in Manbij.

The Syrian military said in a statement released on Friday that the fighting resulted from Kurdish forces trying to take over the city. The statement said the military’s response was “appropriate” and that further attacks would be met with force.

9th Circuit Court bars feds from prosecuting medical marijuana cases

August 18, 2016


SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Tuesday banned the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases if no state laws were broken.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the federal agency to show that 10 pending cases in California and Washington state violated medical marijuana laws in those states before continuing with prosecutions.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but Congress has barred the Justice Department from spending money to prevent states from regulating the use or sale of medical pot.

Federal prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that Congress meant only to bar the department from taking legal action against states and that it could still prosecute individuals who violate federal marijuana laws. The court rejected that, saying that medical marijuana-based prosecutions prevent the states from giving full effect to their own measures.

“If DOJ wishes to continue these prosecutions, Appellants are entitled to evidentiary hearings to determine whether their conduct was completely authorized by state law, by which we mean that they strictly complied with all relevant conditions imposed by state law on the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana,” Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain wrote for the panel.

Federal prosecutors could ask the 9th Circuit to reconsider the case or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said officials are still reviewing the decision.

Marijuana activists and lawyers representing medical pot suppliers say the ruling is a significant addition to the growing support for broad legalization of the drug. Marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, ten states have marijuana legalizations measures on the November ballot.

“This is the beginning of the end of federal prosecutions of state medical marijuana dispensary operators, growers and patients,” said Marc Zilversmit, an attorney representing five people who operate four marijuana stores in Los Angeles and nine indoor growing sites in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Still, Zilversmit and other medical marijuana supporters said the Obama administration and federal authorities are still fighting the drug’s legalization.

On Thursday, the Obama administration announced that marijuana will remain on the list of most dangerous drugs, but said it will allow more research into its medical uses.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said the agency’s decision came after a lengthy review and consultation with the Health and Human Services Department, which said marijuana “has a high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use.” The decision means that pot will remain illegal for any purpose under federal law.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat who helped draft the language barring the Justice Department and its 93 U.S attorneys across the country from spending money on medical marijuana prosecutions said the “DOJ has been a little slow to pick up on” lawmakers’ desire that prosecutors go after organized drug rings and leave alone medicinal pot sellers and users..

“Congress is increasingly united in the recognition that we should not interfere with what states are doing with medical marijuana,” Blumenauer said. “Unfortunately we’ve got the DEA and 93 U.S. attorneys who have people that are still frying little fish.”

Hillary’s Neoconservatives

Her embrace of hawks is more than an electoral strategy.

August 19, 2016

by Michael Tracey

The American Conservative

The Hillary Clinton campaign has recently been trumpeting endorsements from neoconservatives. The candidate’s embrace of figures such as Robert Kagan, Max Boot, and Eliot Cohen—all once regarded as anathema to the contemporary left—has engendered a wave of pushback from progressive critics.

Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, is the most recent high-profile objector, publicly expressing queasiness about Clinton’s perceived allying with “architects of regime change.” Now, predictably, the pushback has been met with its own pushback, including from Brian Beutler of The New Republic, who cautions progressives not to fret.

“There is no evidence yet—none—that conservative figures with blemished records are rehabilitating their reputations by endorsing Clinton, or that Clinton is cozying up to new advisers, or that together they’re doing anything other than insuring against the risk of a Trump victory,” writes Beutler. Progressive skeptics of military interventionism, he posits, should take solace in the fact that despite her repeated entreaties to neoconservatives, Hillary has tangibly offered them and other bad actors “squat.” So there’s no reason, according to Beutler, to fear that they would exercise any meaningful influence in a Clinton administration. But this framing fundamentally misunderstands how neoconservatives customarily build networks and attain power.

Because their political program has virtually no support among large blocs of voters, neoconservatives have historically been forced to forge coalitions with other movements. Often their ostensible affinities are only tangential. It was not a given, for instance, that neoconservative intellectuals should have had any mutual goals with Evangelical Christians or diehard American nationalists. But they nevertheless fostered partnerships with these groups in the late 1970s and early 1980s, figuring (correctly) that this path would eventually lead them to positions of state authority.

By building what Beutler calls a “permission structure” prominently featuring neoconservatives, Hillary need not make any explicit “offer” to confer upon them tangible benefit. (By the way, what form would an explicit “offer” even take? A press release announcing formal cooperation?) Rather, she provides neoconservatives with an opening to ingratiate themselves into power merely by welcoming them into her prospective governing coalition. Evidence that their catastrophic failures have been forgiven can be seen in the uncritical adulation showered on Kagan, Boot, Cohen, and similar operators by the liberal media, suggesting that their blemished reputations are undergoing undeserved rehabilitation.

Furthermore, Beutler errs in asserting that there is no evidence of Clinton “cozying up to new advisers” who might envisage a role for themselves in a future administration. Kagan has given Hillary not only rhetorical praise, but material support—he even headlined an official campaign fundraiser on her behalf. Foreign-policy analyst Jim Lobe has suggested that Kagan is most likely angling for a job with Clinton.

Kagan, who not so long ago was denounced by liberal Iraq War opponents, co-signed a June report with Michèle Flournoy—the likely candidate for defense secretary under Clinton—calling for escalated U.S. military presence in Syria, a policy that could lead to all-out ground war or direct confrontation with Russia. So it seems he may already be on Clinton’s hawkish team in waiting.

Few reputable critics would argue that Hillary is herself a neoconservative. Far more plausible is that she’ll enable the implementation of a neoconservative foreign-policy agenda by casting the neoconservatives’ goals in liberal-interventionist terms, thus garnering Democratic support for initiatives that would face widespread opposition were they spearheaded by a Republican president. Lobe has written that Hillary represents “the point of convergence between liberal interventionism … and neoconservatism,” and Hillary’s willingness to empower a foreign-policy establishment featuring neoconservatives shows that they have in fact received concrete reputational benefit from lining up behind her.

Hillary may operate on the premise that anything that might conceivably garner her additional votes is justified on that basis alone. Yet even on that premise, heralding neoconservative ideologues doesn’t make sense. Again, neoconservatives have virtually no support in the electorate, as the recent Republican primary contest indicated. Their base is mostly among elites. Beyond that, there’s a serious chance that continuing to tout these people will actually damage her electoral fortunes by alienating left-wing voters who might be cajoled into voting for the Democratic ticket, but can’t countenance the possibility of ushering the Iraq-invasion architects of the George W. Bush era back into power.

So if there’s no obvious electoral upside, the most likely reason why Hillary is reaching out to such characters is a deceptively simple one: she shares common interests with them, respects their supposed expertise, and wants to bring them into her governing coalition. For that, anyone interested in a sane foreign policy over the next eight years should be exceedingly worried.

Hillary Clinton Could Easily Push America into Open Conflict with Russia

August 18, 2016

by Ted Galen Carpenter

The National Interest

One especially disturbing trend in global affairs is the marked deterioration in relations between the United States and Russia. Much will depend on the outcome of the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Donald Trump has staked out a reasonably conciliatory policy toward Moscow. And in the highly improbable event that Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson emerged victorious, the United States would certainly pursue a less interventionist, confrontational foreign policy toward Russia as well as other countries.

But Trump and a handful of other dissenters have triggered the wrath of the foreign-policy establishment by daring to suggest that Washington’s Russia policy may be unwise and that the two countries have important mutual interests. Most anti-Russian hawks are backing Hillary Clinton, and the implications of a Clinton victory are extremely ominous. When Russia annexed Crimea, Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler—a comparison so extreme that it drew dissents even from some usual supporters. Yet there is no doubt that she would take a very hard line toward Moscow. Among other things, Clinton recommended that the United States impose a no-fly zone in Syria despite the risk that it could mean shooting down Russian military aircraft that were operating at the request of the Syrian government. Anyone who is that reckless is not likely to retreat from confrontations in eastern Europe or other arenas. Indeed, she has already called for not only more financial assistance but more military aid to Ukraine.

Even though Russia is now a weakened conventional power exhibiting little more than regional ambitions, rather than a malignantly expansionist totalitarian state with global ambitions, the bulk of the U.S. foreign policy establishment treats Moscow as though little has changed since the days of Leonid Brezhnev, if not Joseph Stalin. Yet Russia, with 142 million people, has less than 60 percent of the population of the old Soviet Union—and it is an aging population. The Russian economy is likewise much smaller (only $1.3 trillion). That is around one-tenth the size of the U.S. economy. Moreover, Russia’s economy is both fragile and one-dimensional, with a heavy dependence on energy exports.

In short, Russia does not have the features one usually finds in an aggressively revisionist power in the international system. Nevertheless, Russophobes have viewed Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as the harbinger of much wider aggression, when there is almost no evidence of such an agenda. A more plausible interpretation is that those moves were an effort by Putin’s government to strengthen a modest security zone along Russia’s western border against what Russian leaders see as NATO’s increasingly menacing eastward incursions. Efforts by the United States and its allies to undermine Ukraine’s pro-Russian government and back the successful efforts of street demonstrators to replace it with a pro-Western regime likely intensified Moscow’s suspicions.

Instead of responding, as the United States and its NATO allies have done, with provocative military exercises and new military deployments in eastern Europe, they should back away and accept a limited Russian sphere of influence in that region. Unfortunately, Western, especially American, leaders steadfastly refuse to do so. It has been a case of bipartisan stubbornness in American policy circles. Both Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush’s secretary of state, and John Kerry, Barack Obama’s, sharply condemned Russia for taking military action against recalcitrant neighbors and explicitly rejected even the theoretical legitimacy of a sphere of influence, however modest. Clinton clearly shares that arrogant stance.

That attitude is profoundly unwise. Major powers typically insist on preeminence in their immediate neighborhoods, and we should not expect Russia to be an exception. After all, with its proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, the United States declared the entire Western Hemisphere to be within its sphere of influence. Moreover, U.S. and Russian interests on a variety of important issues, including counterterrorism, coincide more than they conflict—a point that Trump correctly emphasized in his most recent foreign-policy address. Consequently, maintaining cooperative relations with Moscow makes good strategic sense. It also would be the height of bitter irony if, having escaped a direct military clash with the Soviet Union (a truly dangerous adversary) during the Cold War, the United States stumbled into conflict with a mundane Russia because of a needlessly inflexible and confrontational approach. Yet that is now a real danger unless U.S. policy becomes more accommodating.

Unfortunately, given the growing probability of a Clinton victory in November, U.S.-Russian relations, already in bad shape, are likely to deteriorate further. The two countries have been teetering on the precipice of a second Cold War for several years. The danger is that they will now slip into that dark abyss—or plunge into something even worse, an armed conflict with nuclear implications.

Pregnant Women Advised to Avoid Travel to Active Zika Zone in Miami Beach

August. 19, 2016

by Lizette Alvarez and Pam Belluck

New York Times

MIAMI BEACH — With the Zika virus spreading to Miami Beach, federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women not to visit a 20-block stretch of one of the country’s most alluring tourist destinations. They also told them to consider postponing travel anywhere in Miami-Dade County.

The escalation of the Zika crisis here sent tremors through South Florida’s vibrant tourist industry and stoked the fears of pregnant women, worried about the virus’s ability to cause severe brain damage in newborn babies.

The travel advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was prompted by the discovery of a second zone of local Zika transmission in an area between Eighth and 28th Streets in Miami Beach that includes the heart of South Beach, a tourist mecca. Officials said five people, including travelers from New York, Texas and Taiwan, were infected there. The other area where mosquitoes are spreading the virus is in the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood, a hip, gentrifying arts district.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the C.D.C. director, warned at a news briefing on Friday that more cases of local Zika transmission are likely to emerge in the other parts of the county. The agency he leads said in a statement that because so many people infected with Zika have no symptoms, because the virus can incubate for two weeks and because diagnosis of cases can take several weeks, “it is possible that other neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County have active Zika transmission that is not yet apparent.”

A skillful piece of detective work by health officials led them to zero in on Miami Beach on Thursday morning after they spotted an announcement from Taiwan about a woman there who was infected with Zika and had visited Miami Beach, said Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, who is managing the C.D.C.’s Zika response. Before that, he said, health officials were investigating a few cases of infected people who had been in Miami Beach, but had also been other places. The Taiwanese woman, in contrast, had stayed near her hotel on Miami Beach throughout her visit, enabling them to establish where she was infected. The other four people had all been in the same vicinity.

Combating the virus and the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry it will not be an easy task on Miami Beach, health officials warned. The county has successfully used aerial spraying to combat mosquitoes in the Wynwood neighborhood, but will not be able to use that tactic in Miami Beach because of its high-rises and high winds, Dr. Frieden said. South Beach also attracts big crowds of revelers and beachgoers who are juicy targets for mosquitoes. And there is the swimsuit factor.

“We don’t think our advice to wear long sleeves and long pants is likely to be widely followed in some of these areas,” Dr. Frieden said.

Health officials have been predicting for months that Zika would arrive in the continental United States, especially in warm mosquito havens like Florida. And despite Friday’s developments, they said they remain confident that the virus will not turn into a major epidemic in the continental United States as it has across Latin America and the Caribbean. The widespread use of air-conditioning and window screens helps reduce the risk of mosquito bites.

The vast majority of Zika cases have been and will continue to be in people who have traveled to the other countries where the virus has spread widely, or have had sexual relations with someone who traveled to those places, officials said. There have been 2,260 cases of Zika reported in the continental United States and Hawaii, including 529 in pregnant women, the C.D.C. said Friday.

So far, 36 cases of locally transmitted Zika have been identified, all in Florida, and 25 of them are linked to an area around two small businesses in Wynwood, north of downtown Miami. On Aug. 1, the C.D.C. advised pregnant women not to travel to a one-square-mile area in Wynwood. And while Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Health Department have announced that 17 blocks of that area have been found to be clear of Zika transmission, the C.D.C. maintains that the one-square-mile section should still be considered an active Zika zone, Dr. Petersen said.

Mr. Scott also struck a different note from the federal health officials about the risks of Zika posed to Miami-Dade County, a sprawling multicultural metropolis of 2.7 million people. He minimized the extent of the spread, saying in a news conference, “We have two small areas. One less than a mile, and we’ve already been able to reduce the footprint. We have another area now that’s 1.5 miles on Miami Beach. That’s out of a state that takes 15 hours to drive from Key West to Pensacola, so let’s put things in perspective.”

His communications director, Jackie Schutz, said Friday that Mr. Scott “is encouraging people to come to Miami, to come to South Beach. Just remove standing water and wear bug spray.”

But Dr. Frieden noted that there have been several other cases of suspected local transmission in Miami-Dade County that are believed to be isolated cases. Other cases will likely crop up, he said.

“What we’re doing is stepping back and saying there have been now multiple areas of individual transmission,” he said. “It’s a large county. There are more than two million people there, more than 20,000 pregnant women. We would always err on the side of caution.”

The C.D.C. generally must defer to state officials to decide where to set the boundaries around an area of potential disease transmission and what travel warnings to issue, federal officials and health experts said.

“The state has authority within its borders and it takes advice and counsel from the C.D.C.,” said Dr. William Schaffner, head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University’s medical school.

The realization that Miami Beach was a zone of Zika transmission was triggered by a news release from Taiwan that C.D.C. officials noticed on Wednesday, Dr. Petersen said. Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control reported that a 44-year-old woman who visited Miami for business in early August, sought medical treatment for a rash on her legs and abdomen. The woman, who is not pregnant, tested positive for Zika.

“We tried repeatedly to get in touch with Taiwan the minute we heard about this,” Dr. Petersen said. With the time difference, C.D.C. officials were not able to talk to Taiwanese officials until 6 a.m. Thursday. What they learned, he said, “ provided pretty strong evidence that these other people who had gone to multiple places” including Miami Beach, had probably been infected there.

Although the four other people had not stayed in the same hotel, he said, the places they had visited in Miami Beach “clustered in a fairly tight area.”

So far, local leaders and people involved in tourism said they have not seen panic, though there is concern.

Grace Della, the owner of Miami Culinary Tours, a company that leads daily food-focused group tours around Miami, said she canceled her Wynwood tours for the first two weeks in August, but restarted them last Saturday. Now, she said, she is continuing with her two-and-a-half-hour South Beach Food Tour, which runs daily, because she received an email from the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau that the city is safe.

But, she said, “I have received emails from women saying that they are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, and are concerned about coming to Miami, and I am happy to give them a refund and also to anyone else who wants one.”

Josh Alexander, a travel specialist at the New York City-based Protravel International, said that clients have been canceling their plans.

“They don’t want to go anywhere near Florida in general,” he said. “I have had cancellations to the Florida Keys and am getting calls from families who are booked to go to Disney in December.”

And Mayor Carlos A. Giménez of Miami-Dade County, said “I’m concerned about the impact on the economy, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.”

Although many elected officials fretted Friday about the potential economic consequences of the virus’s spread, some said public health must come before tourism, among them Mayor Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, a village of 19,000 people in Miami-Dade County.

“I think all of us are holding our breath and crossing our fingers that it doesn’t continue to expand,” she said. “But you can’t build a wall or a net.”

Lizette Alvarez reported from Miami Beach, and Pam Belluck from New York. Alan Blinder contributed reporting from Atlanta, Shivani Vora from New York, and Sabrina Tavernise from Washington.










































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