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TBR News August 25, 2019

Aug 25 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. August 25, 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 25:” This political slide is interesting. First, a slow walk up a high ladder and then, the top is reached and a sudden, swift shoot down. We are seeing this here inside the Beltway and the main target, Mr. Trump is unaware of the damage he is doing to his image and also to the Republicans and the far right wing. When, and not if, he topples from his his high perch, he has only himself to blame. Of course given his persona, this will not be the case. ‘Hillary did it!’ will be the desperate cry.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Felix Sater, Convicted Felon, Donald Trump associate, and FBI Informant
  • Deutsche Bank, the Bayrock Group, Donald Trump and Drug Money Laundering- Part 1 of 4
  • Trump urges U.S. court to shield Deutsche Bank records from House Democrats
  • Something rotten? Trump’s state over Denmark at heart of a madcap week
  • Hong Kong: Shot fired, water cannon deployed after petrol-bomb attack
  • A brief history of domestic surveillance
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

Felix Sater, Convicted Felon, Donald Trump associate, and FBI Informant

August 25, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Between 2000–2010, Mr.Trump entered into a partnership with a development company headquartered in New York represented by a Russian immigrant, Felix Sater. During this period, they partnered for an assortment of deals that included building Trump towers internationally and Russia was included. For example, in 2005 Slater acted as an agent for building a Trump tower alongside Moscow River with letters of intent in hand and “square footage was being analyzed.

Felix Sater, a licensed stockbroker who was born in Russia but grew up in the Russian community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, was convicted in 1991 of brutally assaulting a man in a Manhattan bar, and after going to prison, admitted being a major player in a $40 million securities fraud scheme that involved a number of members of the New York Mafia as well as another man, stockbroker Salvatore Lauria. Both he and Lauria worked closely with Mafia members for protection. Lauria later write a book detailing his financial crimes with Sater. In 1998, Sater pled guilty to a single count of racketeering in a $40 million Mafia stock fraud case in return for becoming a confidential informant for investigations involving organized crime and national security, along with another member of the criminal fraud ring, Gennady Klotsman. Sater avoided prison time after FBI agents testified on his behalf. His court records were sealed for a decade, allowing him to keep his felonious past secret from inquisitive investors and potential business colleagues.

Sater worked for the FBI in 1998 after they caught him in a stock fraud plot. In 2011, a a court filing in a civil lawsuit, Trump denied knowing Sater, but later, when he was prepared to discuss this relationship, was dissuaded from doing so by his lawyers. Sater worked for the Trump SoHo condominium hotel late 2000’s. After Sater’s release from prison in 1998, he worked with crooked stock market operators and members of organized crime to buy stakes in cheap stock, pump up their prices and dump them.

In 2015, US attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch  praised Sater for providing information “crucial to national security” while working as an operative. Economic reporter James S. Henry later wrote that Sater had “an informant relationship with the FBI and the CIA that is vaguely reminiscent of Boston criminal,  Whitey Bulger.”

The FBI report states that Sater’s father was a member of the Russian mob, and was involved in trafficking nuclear materials, selling illegal weapons, and money laundering. In 2008, after leaving Bayrock, Sater testified that he pitched business ideas to Trump (“just me and him”) and his team “on a constant basis.”

One of the subjects Sater and Trump were involved in consisted of Trump’s assisting the Russian mob launder large sums of money, gained in international drug dealings.

In 2015, his lawyer Robert Wolf said that some of the information about Sater in public records and lawsuits is defamatory, and tells an Associated Press reporter to write about Sater’s past “at your own risk.”

In 2017, Sater added to his claims, saying he was a US intelligence agent as well, and boasting, “I was building Trump Towers by day and hunting Bin Laden by night.” He claimed to have worked in Afghanistan with the CIA.

And in another matter, one Elliott Broidy, a convicted felon and from 2005 to 2008  was finance chairman of the Republican National Committeeand a top fundraiser for the Trump campaign with inside access to Trump and his administration, sought a $75 million fee if he could persuade the Justice Department to drop an investigation into an investment deal involving the Malaysian Prime Minister

 

Deutsche Bank, the Bayrock Group, Donald Trump and Drug Money Laundering- Part 1 of 4

Deutsche Bank AG is a German multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.

The bank is operational in 58 countries with a large presence in Europe, the Americas and Asia. As of April 2018, Deutsche Bank is the 15th largest bank in the world by total assets. As the largest German banking institution in the world, it is a component of the DAX stock market index.

The company is a universal bank resting on three pillars – the Private & Commercial Bank, the Corporate & Investment Bank (CIB) and Asset Management (DWS). Its investment banking operations often command substantial deal flow and maintain different “sell side” and “buy side” departments.

Relationship with Donald Trump         

The bank kept writing checks even after Trump defaulted on loans worth hundreds of millions and sued it. Now Congressional investigators are going to court to uncover the financial records behind their relationship.

The remarkably troubled recent history of Deutsche Bank, its past money-laundering woes — and the bank’s striking relationship with Trump — became the subject of investigation by the German State Attorney’s office. The German bank loaned a cumulative total of around $2.5 billion to Trump projects over the past two decades, and the bank continued writing him nine-figure checks even after he defaulted on a $640 million obligation and sued the bank, blaming it for his failure to pay back the debt.

  • Deutsche Bank’s private wealth unit loaned Trump $48 million — after he had defaulted on his $640 million loan and the bank’s commercial unit didn’t want to lend him any further funds — so that Trump could pay back another unit of Deutsche Bank.
  • Deutsche Bank loaned Trump’s company $125 million as part of the overall $150 million purchase of the ailing Doral golf resort in Miami in 2012. The loans’ primary collateral was land and buildings that he paid only $105 million for, county land records show. The apparent favorable terms raised questions about whether the bank’s loan was unusually risky.
  • To widespread alarm, and at least one protest that Trump would not be able to pay his lease obligations, Deutsche Bank’s private wealth group loaned the Trump Organization an additional $175 million to renovate the Old Post Office Building in Washington and turn it into a luxury hotel.

Like Trump, Deutsche Bank has been scrutinized for its dealings in Russia. The bank paid more than $600 million to regulators in 2017 and agreed to a consent order that cited “serious compliance deficiencies” that “spanned Deutsche Bank’s global empire.” The case focused on “mirror trades,” which Deutsche Bank facilitated between 2011 and 2015. The trades were sham transactions whose sole purpose appeared to be to illicitly convert rubles into pounds and dollars — some $10 billion worth.

The bank was “laundering money for wealthy Russians and people connected to Putin and the Kremlin in a variety of ways for almost the exact time period that they were doing business with Donald Trump,” “And all of that money through Deutsche Bank was being channeled through the same exact legal entity in the U.S. that was handling the Donald Trump relationship in the U.S. And so there are a lot of coincidences here.”

It wasn’t just Donald Trump who maintained a warm relationship with Deutsche. The German bank looked after his entire family. Jared Kushner, Ivanka, and Kushner’s mother Seryl Stadtmauer were all Deutsche clients.

The large German financial conglomerate Deutsche Bank, later to become one of Donald Trump’s favored institutions, became entangled with Russia after the bank bought boutique investment bank UFG in order to gain entry into Moscow’s financial markets. UFG’s chairman, Charles Ryan, was an American banker; his partner was Boris Fyodorov, formerly Russia’s Finance Minister in the Yeltsin administration. Deutsche’s future co-CEO, Anshu Jain, was the one who wants Deutsche to become more involved with Russia. Other investment banks soon found Deutsche’s business practices suspicious. Christopher Barter, at the time the CEO of Goldman Sachs Moscow, said later: “They were doing some very curious things. Nobody could make sense of their business. We found the nature and concentration of their business with VTB (Vneshtorgbank) quite galling. Nobody else could touch VTB.” VTB was known to be deeply connected to Russian intelligence, the FSB.

An issue was a very large sum of money that Trump borrowed from the German bank in 2005 to fund the construction of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Trump had personally guaranteed to repay the $US640 million ($828.7 million) debt.

Since then, a global financial crash had arrived. Trump had defaulted on payment, with $US330 million still outstanding. In late November 2008, Deutsche was seeking an immediate $US40 million from the tycoon, plus interest, legal fees and costs.

In 2010 Trump settled his feud with Deutsche. This was done, extraordinarily, by borrowing more money from … Deutsche Bank.

Shut out from its real estate division, Trump turned to another part of the same institution – Deutsche’s private wealth division, which typically deals with high net worth individuals. It doesn’t normally do property. Still, the unit lent him the money.

And later gave him another $US25 to $US50 million in credit.

According to one estimate, Deutsche Bank’s Moscow subsidiary began notching up profits of $US500 million to $US1 billion a year, with VTB generating somewhere between 50 and 80 per cent of all revenue. In Moscow, a Russian client bought blue-chip Russian stocks from Deutsche Bank Moscow in companies like Gazprom or Sberbank. The payment was in roubles. The size of a typical order was $US2 million to $US3 million. Shortly afterwards a non-Russian “customer” sold exactly the same number of securities to Deutsche Bank in London, paying in dollars.

These “mirror trades” were fake and had no economic logic. The selling parties were based in offshore territories like Cyprus or the British Virgin Islands. Billions were moved out of one Deutsche Bank, from its modern glass office at Building 2, 82 Sadovnicheskaya Street, to another Deutsche Bank, at 60 Wall Street. There were nearly 6000 transactions. Nobody in New York or London or Frankfurt or any of the international financial centres really noticed.the chairman of Trump and his companies’ estimated $360 million in outstanding loans from Deutsche Bank.

Trump’s assets manager at Deutsche, Rosemary Vrablic, specialized in real estate and is close enough to Trump and his family — both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are clients — that she was invited to attend the inauguration. In the past decade, the Deutsche Bank private wealth unit helped finance three of Trump’s properties, including a golf resort near Miami (Doral), a new hotel in Washington DC and Trump Tower in Chicago, all of which include personal guarantees by Trump. He and his organization currently owe Deutsche Bank over $300,000,000

“Deutsche Bank is our long-standing partner and has been working in Russia since 1881 … It would take ages to describe everything that Deutsche Bank is doing in Russia,” Putin said at the time.

The bank kept writing checks even after Trump defaulted on loans worth hundreds of millions and sued it. Now Congressional investigators are going to court to uncover the financial records behind their relationship.

The remarkably troubled recent history of Deutsche Bank, its past money-laundering woes — and the bank’s striking relationship with Trump — became the subject of investigation by the German State Attorney’s office. The German bank loaned a cumulative total of around $2.5 billion to Trump projects over the past two decades, and the bank continued writing him nine-figure checks even after he defaulted on a $640 million obligation and sued the bank, blaming it for his failure to pay back the debt.

  • Deutsche Bank’s private wealth unit loaned Trump $48 million — after he had defaulted on his $640 million loan and the bank’s commercial unit didn’t want to lend him any further funds — so that Trump could pay back another unit of Deutsche Bank.
  • Deutsche Bank loaned Trump’s company $125 million as part of the overall $150 million purchase of the ailing Doral golf resort in Miami in 2012. The loans’ primary collateral was land and buildings that he paid only $105 million for, county land records show. The apparent favorable terms raised questions about whether the bank’s loan was unusually risky.
  • To widespread alarm, and at least one protest that Trump would not be able to pay his lease obligations, Deutsche Bank’s private wealth group loaned the Trump Organization an additional $175 million to renovate the Old Post Office Building in Washington and turn it into a luxury hotel.

Trump began doing business with the Bayrock Group, a real estate development organization with its headquarters in the Trump Tower. He met founder Tevfik Arif, a Russian born in then-Soviet Kazakhstan, and Russian-born American businessman Felix Sater 1, COO of Bayrock and a convicted felon, through a Trump Tower leasing agent. Bayrock arranged for the Trump Organization to become involved in multiple developments that were marketed under the Trump name.

The first Trump-Bayrock deal, a 19-story condominium tower and hotel complex in Phoenix, fell through in 2005 after organized resistance from residents. A follow-up project in Fort Lauderdale also collapsed after lawsuits and claims of criminal fraud tarnished the project’s reputation. Trump dodged the lawsuit by asserting he was not the developer and bore no responsibility for the problems.

Eventually, Trump and Bayrock engaged in a series of deals leading to the construction of the Trump SoHo in New York, which became the centerpiece of a RICO investigation. The firm’s organizational structure was deliberately designed to make it difficult to determine how it worked, or who profited from what business dealing.

Trump had turned to Bayrock after a series of six straight corporate bankruptcies devastated his portfolio; he was now essentially an entertainer portraying himself as a business mogul who was actually struggling to re-establish himself and his brand. “[T]he massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich [former Soviet Union states] like Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed. These outflows arrived at just the right time to fund several of Trump’s post-2000 high-risk real estate and casino ventures – most of which failed.”

His financing opportunities were severely limited, as most of the banks he previously did business with wanted no further dealings with him.

Part 1

 

Trump urges U.S. court to shield Deutsche Bank records from House Democrats

August 23, 2019

by Brendan Pierson

Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump asked a federal appeals court on Friday to block Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) and Capital One Financial Corp (COF.N) from handing the financial records of the president’s family and the Trump Organization to Democratic lawmakers.

The case, before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, is one of several legal battles between the Democrats, who took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January, and the Republican president, who is seeking re-election in November 2020.

In subpoenas issued in April, Democratic lawmakers asked the banks for records related to Trump, his adult children and the Trump Organization. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan ruled in June that the subpoenas could be enforced.

Patrick Strawbridge, a lawyer for the Trumps, told the appellate panel that the committees did not have a “legitimate legislative purpose” for the subpoenas, which he described as too broad.

“The subpoenas look for every debit card, every Diet Coke that a teenager purchased using a credit card from Capital One” if they are related to Trump, he said.

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump’s real estate business, and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.

The Deutsche Bank subpoena issued by the House Financial Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee seeks records of accounts, transactions and investments linked to the Trumps, immediate family members and several Trump Organization entities, plus records of possible ties to foreign entities.

The Capital One subpoena issued by the Financial Services Committee seeks records related to the Trump Organization’s hotel business.

Douglas Letter, a lawyer for the committees, told the court that Congress needed the information to craft new legislation aimed at curbing money laundering and foreign meddling in U.S. affairs.

“We’re investigating massive amounts of Russian money,” he said.

Both sides said during Friday’s hearing that they might be willing to negotiate about the scope of the subpoena, and that they had made such offers before. Letter said he believed Trump’s offer to negotiate was “insincere,” which Strawbridge denied.

At the end of the argument, whether they Circuit Judge Jon Newman asked lawyers for Deutsche Bank and Capital One have Trump’s tax returns or those of his children.

Raphael Prober, Deutsche Bank’s lawyer, said he could not answer the question in open court because of the bank’s “contractual obligations.”

Capital One’s lawyer, James Murphy, also declined to answer, saying simply, “I prefer not to.”

Both lawyers said they would submit letters to the court responding to the question within 48 hours.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New YorkEditing by Noeleen Walder, Sonya Hepinstall, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

 

 

Something rotten? Trump’s state over Denmark at heart of a madcap week

As the president rants about buying Greenland and battling China, some say the TV presidency has finally jumped the shark

August 25, 2019

by David Smith in Wshington

The Guardian

“I am but mad north-north-west,” declares Hamlet. “When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

The prince of Denmark’s pronouncements raise questions over his fitness for the throne. But they might seem a little less unhinged when compared to the ramblings of another blond this week.

Donald Trump took umbrage when the Danish government dismissed his notion of buying Greenland as “absurd”, retorting that its prime minister’s reaction was “nasty”. Outlandish as it seemed, this was just one example in an epic session of delirious, dizzying verbal jazz that left some sincerely questioning the president’s mental state.

On MSNBC, the host John Heilemann summed up for viewers of Deadline White House: “A full 24-hours after a sustained presidential performance that even by Donald Trump’s standards qualified as unusually madcap, manic, unhinged and unnerving, the world is reeling and offering a collective judgment of ‘OMG and WTF’…”

Hamlet’s madness can be sourced to the murder of his father by his uncle. Trump’s was reportedly attributable to warnings of American economic demise. The businessman who made promises of growth, stability and “jobs jobs jobs!” the raison d’être of his political candidacy is said have to been rattled by portents of a recession that would cloud his bid for re-election in November next year.

Trump was forced to confront the prospect that his fatal flaw – the obsessive waging of a trade war with China – could bring about his own downfall.

Such was the air of desperation at the White House on Friday that Trump launched a Twitter rant against Beijing, issuing a Soviet-style command beyond his writ that send markets plunging: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing … your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

He also renewed his attacks on Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, who indicated unwillingness to cut interest rates to bolster economic growth. “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” Trump demanded, going on to announce fresh retaliatory tariffs.

The outburst capped a wild week even by the standards of a president about whom everything has been said before – which in turn has also been said before. It consisted of claims of escalating wackiness combined with reassurances about the health of the economy that appeared so strained they brought to mind a line spoken by Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother: “The lady doth protest too much.”

On Wednesday, for example, talking to reporters before departing on the Marine One helicopter from a sweltering White House south lawn, Trump began: “So, the economy is doing very, very well … Our economy is the strongest in the world, by far. Nothing even close.”

In the ensuing 35 minutes, Trump parroted gun lobby talking points on background checks, reversed his position on a payroll tax cut, called for Russia to rejoin the G7, derided the former vice-president Joe Biden as “Sleepy Joe”, blamed the media for trying to bring on a recession and falsely claimed about immigration policy: “President Obama and others brought the families apart, but I’m the one that kept the families together.”

There was more. Trump repeated his use of an antisemitic trope – “In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel” – and suggested divine providence had chosen him for an escalating trade war with China, insisting with a skywards glance: “I am the chosen one.” The president later said that was sarcastic but he had also recently quoted a radio host declaring that Israeli Jews love him as if he were the “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God”.

He also renewed his attack on Denmark, a key Nato ally. Although he is not the first president to float the idea of buying Greenland – Harry Truman considered it in 1946 – and thereby expanding the size of the US by more than a fifth, Trump’s decision to abruptly cancel a state visit to Denmark out of spite, then insult the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen – “You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me” – left diplomats slack-jawed.

‘Very much a different character’

All told, it was perhaps the week in which The Trump Show, now in its third season, finally “jumped the shark” – a reference to the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, in which the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis, seen as a gimmick by script writers desperately short of ideas. Former Trump administration officials told the New York Times they are increasingly worried about the president’s behaviour, especially as there are now few seasoned advisers to constrain him.

Rick Wilson, a Republican political strategist, told the Guardian: “I think it is demonstrable that he is getting worse. I think that the continuous verbal aphasias, the lack of coherence, the obvious anger, the sort of inability to conform his affects to the times and places he is appearing have led a lot of people who have been observing him for a while now to note that he is in a very new phase of his behaviour and it’s not one that lends a lot of confidence that Donald Trump is a well man.”

He added: “A meaningful fraction of Americans at first viewed it as sort of amusing or as just a funny affectation and as part of his super clever negotiating skills but more and more people are looking at it as, there’s something wrong with this man, there’s something very off now about him. Even if you look at video of two years ago, he is very much a different character then he was in this in the ‘16 campaign.”

Trump is known to brazen out every crisis, perpetually brash and self-confident. But the economy is arguably his Achilles’ heel.

The Washington Post reported: “Through the week, White House officials became increasingly agitated that the public sentiment about the economy seemed to be tipping. Trump, aides said, is obsessed with media coverage of the economy, and thinks Americans will believe negative news and stop spending money. This exasperation began several months earlier.”

Wilson, the author of Everything Trump Touches Dies and a Daily Beast article headlined “This Isn’t the Madman Theory. This Is a Madman President”, agrees that recession talk might be a causal factor in Trump’s downward spiral.

“He plays a strong man on television,” he said. “The character he played on The Apprentice is what most Americans voted for and they thought of him as a strong negotiator and a bright person and a person with integrity and mental discipline and strength. But that was a TV character, that’s not the real Donald Trump.

“The real Donald Trump is a narcissistic person and a weak person and a person who lacks personal discipline on almost every axis and so what’s happening, as he feels the mighty pressures of the presidency, is ugly. He doesn’t have the cognitive ability or the bottom to handle the pressures he’s under and so it’s gotten to be this extraordinarily ugly picture of a man who’s very much out of control.”

Trump will be all too aware that after more than 10 years of growth, the economy seems to be showing vulnerability. Factory output has fallen and consumer confidence has thinned while markets have been volatile, although unemployment stands at just 3.7%.

Since the civil war, only one president has won re-election with a recession in the final two years of his first term. For voters willing to stomach Trump’s personality and policies as long as the economy is humming, it could be a deal breaker.

Rick Tyler, a political analyst, said: “What else do you have? Do you have peace in the Middle East? Do you have a denuclearised Korean peninsula? Do you have peace and harmony among the races?”

Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution thinktank at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, said: “The economy is at least one, maybe two, maybe even three legs of the Trump table.”

Not even the president’s career-long expertise in deflection and distraction can necessarily save him this time. Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer, said: “How about building a wall? But it never happened. How about buying an island and adding a new state? That would be pretty cool.

“He’s dancing as fast as he can. Gravity will trump Trump. It is inevitable. Will it be before November 2020? That is the question.”

 

Hong Kong: Shot fired, water cannon deployed after petrol-bomb attack

A Hong Kong police officer has fired his weapon to disperse angry demonstrators chasing him with rods. Police deployed water cannon for the first time, along with tear gas, after a minority of protesters turned violent.

August 25, 2019

DW

An initially peaceful march by pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on Sunday turned violent, prompting a police officer to fire his weapon for the first time since the 3-month-long protests erupted.

As tens of thousands of protesters rallied during heavy rain at a nearby stadium, a hard-core group took over a major road in the city’s Tsuen Wan district, erecting makeshift roadblocks and digging up bricks from the pavements.

To try and regain control, authorities hoisted large banners to warn protesters of the impending use of tear gas and water cannon.

Molotov cocktails thrown

Several rounds of the chemical were subsequently deployed. Authorities then fired the water cannon jets, prompting protesters to return fire with bricks and Molotov cocktails.

At one point, an officer fired a gun into the air after he was attacked by eight to 10 protesters carrying sticks and rods, police said.

DW’s Southeast Asia correspondent Charlotte Chelsom-Pill posted video footage to social media that she said appeared to show the moment the shot was fired.

Second day of violence

Similar violence rocked the Kowloon Bay neighborhood on Saturday, when a large group of protesters threw rocks and bottles at police, who responded with tear gas and by baton-charging the demonstrators.

Twenty-nine people were arrested for various offenses. including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers. At least 10 people were treated in hospital for injuries.

Hong Kong’s protest movement started in opposition to plans to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, but have grown into a larger campaign for public elections and greater autonomy from Beijing.

The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, following guarantees that it would have semi-autonomous status.

Less control by Beijing

Many believe the city has seen a decline in civil and political rights due to Beijing’s interference.

Throughout the rallies, China’s leaders have used a mix of intimidation, propaganda and economic muscle to constrict the protests in a strategy dubbed “white terror” by the movement.

The operator of Hong Kong’s MTR — the city’s metro — shut stations near the main demonstration area this weekend after Chinese state-media attacks accusing the transport system of being an “exclusive” service to ferry protesters to rallies.

 

Comment: An Australian official intelligence agency, who monitors many intelligence messagings throughout South East Asia, has issued a secret report that a US agency, stationed in Bangkok, has been supplying money and weapons to Hong Kong protestors on the specifc orders of President Trump. Also from this Australian source we learn that Edward Snowdon was a paid Russian intelligence agent when he went to Booze Hamilton in Hawaii and downloaded six laptops of vital US intelligence information. More will follow!                    

 

A brief history of domestic surveillance

August 25, 2019

by Harry Brunser

 

Millions of Americans, and other nationalities, are spied on daily and vast amounts of personal data acquired and stored.

The cover story is that this is designed to “locate and neutralize” Muslim terrorists, both inside and outside of the United States, but in fact, according to a U.S. Army document, the actual purposes of the mass surveillance is to build significant data bases on any person likely to present a domestic threat to established authority.

This fear has its roots in massive popular rejection of the Vietnam war with its attendant mass meetings, defiance of the government and the development of ad hoc student groups firmly, and often very vocally, opposed to the war.

There was a great deal of civic unrest on college campuses throughout the 1960s as students became increasingly involved in a number of social and political movements ranging from the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, and, of course, the Anti-War Movement. Over 30,000 people left the country and went to Canada, Sweden, and Mexico to avoid the draft.

The bureaucracy then found itself under siege and has stated subsequently that this must not happen again and that any kind of meaningful civil disobedience is to get negative mention in the media and members of such groups subject to arrest and detention.

The Obama administration punished any government whistle-blower with such severity as to discourage others from revealing negative official information.

FEMA has a network of so-called “detention camps” throughout the United States, most only sites, to be used in the event of noteworthy civil disturbance.

The current programs of mass surveillance are known and approved at the highest levels in the government, to include the President

Government, faux government, and government-subsidized private organizations.

The high technology consists of such subjects as surveillance cameras in public places, drones, satellites, interceptions of telephone, computer and mail communications.

There are as of this instance, no less than five million names on the officlal government Terrorist Identies Datamart Environment list and nearly sixty thousand names on the TSA no-fly list.

Nearly five thousand died domestically in the 9/11 attacks and only thirty-seven subsequently but the death toll outside the United States, due to Muslim radical actions has exceeded over ten thousand with a death toll of ninty eight thousand in the Syrian civil war and an estimated one million in the sectarian wars in Iraq following the American invasion and occupation

This vast program of politically-motivated illegal domestic surveillance, ordered by Bush, is only part of an ambitious program brought forward in the first year of the Bush administration by Karl Rove. Rove is the architect of the ‘GOP Rules’ program, the basic premise of which was to secure a permanent control, by the Republican Party, of both branches of Congress, the White House and the leadership of all the agencies of control such as the CIA, later the DHS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and, most important, the U.S. Army.

Rove, an accomplished student of history, had carefully studied the circumstances that permitted Adolf Hitler to rise to power in 1933. His was not a solid electoral victory but he was only a participant in a coalition government. What brought him to the beginning of absolute power was the Reichstag fire. It was long preached that this incendiary act was the result of Goering’s activities to facilitate an atmosphere of public panic but Fritz Tobias has effectively demolished this shibboleth and in fact, the fire was set by a lunatic young Dutch communist without any assistance from either the Nazis or the Communists.

Nevertheless, in its wake, the fire did create such an atmosphere of national fear that Hitler was able to tighten his control over the legislators and push through the Enabling Act that gave him the power to establish the control he badly needed. And a year later, the old Prussian Secret State Police, the Gestapo, was put into the hands of Heinrich Mueller who eventually set up a national card index with information on every German citizen.

Given the weak origins of Bush’s presidency, Rove contemplated his own Reichstag Fire and when the Israeli Mossad reported to the top Bush administration officials that they had penetrated a group of Saudi terrorists working in Hollywood, Florida and that this group was planning an aerial attack on important American business and government targets, Rove had found his Reichstag Fire.

Bush was informed by the Israeli government at every stage of the pending attack but advised the Israelis that he did not want to interfere with it “until the last possible moment so as to be able to arrest the entire group.”

As the plot progressed and Washington learned that the major targets would be the World Trade Centers in New York, and the Pentagon and the Capitol building in Washington, someone high up in the administration, currently unknown, wanted the Israelis to convince the Saudis to attack the side of the Pentagon that was currently unoccupied due to reconstruction. There was no point, the plotters decided, to kill the useful Secretary of Defense who was a member of their team.

The attack on the Capitol would, they reasoned, fall when Congress was in session ( In 2001, the first session of the 107th Congress was from January 3, 2001  through December 20, 2001 and the House and Senate planned to begin their 10 day Thanksgiving recess, between November 17 and November 27 of that year) and this meant that if a large commercial aircraft, loaded with aviation fuel, slammed at high speed  into either wing of the immense building while Congress was in session, it could reasonably be expected that a siginficant number of Federal legislatiors would be killed or incapacitated.

This, coupled with the attacks on the Pentagon and the WTC, would give the Bush people the very acceptable excuse for the President to step up, (after he returned from a safe and distant vacation,) and assume ‘special powers” to “protect this nation from new attacks” until Congress could be “satisfactorily reformed” via somewhat distant “special elections” to fill the vacancies created by the Saudi attackers.

Then, it would be quite acceptable, and even demanded, that the Army would establish “law and order” in the country and that other agencies would step forward to “guard this nation against” possible “ongoing terrorist attacks.” ‘Speak not of the morrow for thou knowest not what it might bring forth’ is a Biblical admonition that apparently Bush, Rove and Cheney never considered.

The aircraft designated to slam into the Capitol building and immolate both sides of the aisle, crashed as the very fortunate result of its passenger’s actions and that part of the plan had to be shelved. But not so the formulation of the machinery designed solely to clamp down on any possible dissident voices in the country and ensure a very long term Republican policical control.

The Saudi terrorist attacks went forward as planned, minus the one on the members of Congress and Bush indeed rose to the occasion and promised to protect the American public. A Department of Homeland Security was set up under the incompetent Governor Ridge but as for the rest of the plan for Republic permanence, it began to disintegrate bit by bit, due entirely to the gross incompetence of its leaders. The Bush-Rove-Cheney plan consisted, in the main, of the following:

  1. Federal control of all domestic media, the internet, all computerized records, through overview of all domestic fax, mail and telephone conversations,

2 .A national ID card, universal SS cards being mandatory,

  1. Seizure and forced deportation of all illegal aliens, including millions of Mexicans and Central Americans, intensive observation and penetration of Asian groups, especially Indonesian and Chinese,
  2. A reinstitution of a universal draft (mandatory service at 18 years for all male American youths…based on the German Arbeitsdienst.
  3. Closer coordination of administration views and domestic policies with various approved and régime supportive religious groups,
  4. An enlargement of the planned “no travel” lists drawn up in the Justice Department that would prevents “subversive” elemetst from flying, (this list to include “peaceniks” and most categories of Muslims)
  5. The automatic death penalty for any proven acts of sedition,
  6. The forbidding of abortion, any use of medical marijuana,
  7. Any public approval of homosexual or lesbian behavior to include magazines, websites, political action groups and soon to be forbidden and punishable.

As the popularity of drones for domestic surveillance grows in the United States, so do privacy concerns for citizens just going about their daily business. Designer Adam Harvey has come up with a line of anti-drone clothing that is much more stylish than an aluminum foil hat.

The anti-drone clothes include a hoodie, a scarf, and a burqa. They are made with a metalized fabric designed to thwart thermal imaging. They work by reflecting heat and masking the person underneath from the thermal eye of a drone. The designs may hide you from certain drone activities, but they would definitely make you noticeable to people out on the street.

The scarf and burqa are both inspired by traditional Muslim clothing designs. Harvey explains the choice, saying, “Conceptually, these garments align themselves with the rationale behind the traditional hijab and burqa: to act as ‘the veil which separates man or the world from God,’ replacing God with drone.”The anti-drone garments are part of a larger line of clothing called Stealth Wear. These are called  “New Designs for Countersurveillance.” The manufacturer states: “Collectively, Stealth Wear is a vision for fashion that addresses the rise of surveillance, the power of those who surveil, and the growing need to exert control over what we are slowly losing, our privacy.”

If drones get to be more commonplace in our communities, it’s not too much of a stretch to see this sort of fashion becoming more mainstream, much like RFID-blocking wallets and passport holders

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

August 25, 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. 14

Date:  Friday, May 10, 1996

Commenced:  10:03 AM CST

Concluded:    10:21 AM CST

 

GD: Good morning, Mrs. Crowley. Is Robert available?

EC: Oh good morning, Gregory. Yes, he’s right here.

GD: Thank you.

RTC: Hello, Gregory. I’ve dug out quite a bit of material on the Kennedy business for you and once I get it collated, I’ll send it on.

GD: Any surprises there?

RTC: Wait until you’ve read it and I would prefer not to discuss this on the telephone. There are aspects of this that should be kept very private and, let me add, I would request that you not address this in print until after I am gone.

GD: Understood but that could be ten years from now.

RTC: Oh, I doubt that. I’m getting older by the day. I might hold out for a few more years but not much longer. Emily has been at me to have more X-rays because the last ones showed some spots on my lungs but I think that if it was cancer, I would be dead by now. After all, we took those some years ago.

GD: You smoke?

RTC: A small sinful pleasure but not as much. That and coffee kept me going and these get to be ingrained habits. At any rate, eventually I ought to have more tests but I really don’t worry too much about this.

GD: Just one brief question about Kennedy if it’s all right.

RTC: Ask me and I’ll make a judgment call.

GD: Was it Oswald?

RTC: No, he was a patsy. Had nothing to do with it and that answers that question. Now, on to other things if you don’t mind.

GD: Thank you and go ahead.

RTC: I was thinking about the Pollard business we talked about a few days ago. Looking over some of my files, I am certain you were accurate about tipping them off. There was an unspecified confidential source and I suppose if I had someone dig into it further, it would cinch it all up. We thought it was someone from the Israeli side with a guilty conscience.

GD: No, just a peeved WASP.

RTC: Of course, what was the worst aspect of this Pollard business is that the little traitor passed an enormous amount of very, very sensitive information to Israel, among which were reams of top level coded material. We found out later that all of this was sent to Russia, to the KGB and the GRU within hours of it getting to Tel Aviv.

GD: Did they work with the Russians?

RTC: No, some of the refuseniks that went to Israel were Soviet plants and they took with them enough information to convince the Israelis that they would be good agents. That’s the terrible thing about the Pollard matter, Gregory. It cost us millions upon millions to rework our codes but that only covered on-going matters. My God, the Soviets were reading all our top level messages. The damage that little shit caused is not to believe. Weinberger wanted to shoot him out of hand but that never happened. Pollard will never get out of prison alive. Did you know that the Israelis made him an honorary member of their Knesset and deposited large sums of money into a bank account they opened for him there?

GD: That’s a bit gross, isn’t it?

RTC: Figure it. And they have been bombarding Clinton to pardon him but that will never happen, even if his wife is Jewish. I don’t much care for Clinton but he is certainly a smart man. He moves with the tides, Gregory, and if he dared to pardon Pollard, there would be serious problems for him. It’s been said that if this looked like it might go through, the BoP people would have one of their convicts stick a knife into him while he was taking the air in the prison yard. I think he should be found hanging in his cell some morning and then we can pickle him, put him in a box and ship him off to Israel, collect.

GD: Frau Clinton is Jewish?

RTC: Family came from Lodz in Poland, went to Manchester in England, changed their names and some of them came over here. Her branch ended up in the cloth business in Chicago. They don’t talk about this but it’s something to consider. One thing I can say about the Clintons. They both are really too fond of women.

GD: When I lived in California, I had a friend in the state police in Sacramento and he was telling me that Hillary left law school at Yale and interned with Bob Treuhaft in Oakland. He’s a communist labor lawyer. His wife is Decca Mitford who wrote the book on funeral home ripoffs. Decca’s sister was Unity Mitford, who was one of Hitler’s lady friends. Anyway, he said that Hillary worked with the Black Panthers in Oakland and got involved with their descent on the legislators in Sacramento. They all had guns and everyone freaked out. Apparently, the police went around rounding them all up and they found Frau Clinton naked in bed with a black woman. It’s all in a report he copied. And he said that about a week after Clinton became President, the FBI swooped down and grabbed the original files on all of this.

RTC: Too bad there’s no copy.

GD: Oh, there is. I sent a copy of it around to the media but all I got was complete silence. But note that Herb Caen, a columnist for the Chronicle, wrote about this and I don’t think the FBI can do much about that. Of course, people forget very quickly, Robert. Cold beer in the fridge and a sports game on the tube and they’re contented. Consider the bulk of the public as if it were a hibernating bear in Alaska. Now if the far right and the far left stand in front of his den, screeching at each other and throwing dung and snowballs at each other, the bear is oblivious. But supposing they decide to move into the den and continue their petty squabbles. And if by accident, one of them managed to kick brother bear squarely in the balls, then we see something else. The bear awakes with a roar, promptly kills both of the invaders of his bedroom and goes back to sleep again. That, Robert, is what happens when the public is aroused and that is why politicians are careful to keep out of the bear’s den.

RTC: An interesting analogy.

GD: Revolutions don’t start overnight. The French Revolution had its roots in the determination of a burgeoning middle class to obtain equal rights along with the monarchy, the clergy and the nobility. Things got out of control and the mob woke up and wreaked bloody havoc on France for some time. Read Carlisle on this subject. Or read Eric Hoffer. I recommend The True Believer for a very penetrating analysis of mass movements and their fanatic adherents. We don’t have this problem here, at least now, but things change and if we don’t change with them, then there are problems.

RTC: I think the older we get, the less we welcome change.

GD: Routine can be comforting at that. But suppose some stuffy bureaucrat got up one morning, shoved the family cat into the microwave, turned it on, drove his van across the neighbor’s lawn and crushed the stone dwarves and then ran all the red lights on the way to the office? And when he got to his work pen, he set the contents of his desk on fire and ran around the office buck naked?

RTC: I have a feeling he would be locked up somewhere for some time. You have a very active imagination, Gregory, or did you do this?

GD: No but when I see the automatons on the road or marching in lockstep on the sidewalks of the financial district, such thoughts are not unnatural to me. I love to do the unexpected. I recall once when a friend’s father, who ran a local Penney store, gave me a half a dozen obsolete window dummies. My God, sir, did I have my fun. We took a little girl, cute thing with pigtails, cut a hole in her back and filled her insides with lots of raspberry Jello. Then we put a pinafore and a pair of nice shoes and socks on her, took her down to the SP tracks and set her up just this side of the railroad bridge. My Russian friend and I sat in the bushes and when the Del Monte Special, filled with the idle rich, came down the line doing 80, the headlights picked up the little darling on the tracks, illuminating her winsome form for the people stopped by the track gates. Horns blowing, howling drivers, panic and then when the train hit her squarely, a great fan of red Jello and papier-mâché body parts descended on the stopped cars. Now that was something to remember, Robert. Engineer slammed on the breaks, dropped sand, skidded with many sparks and blaring air horn into the local station and I will always remember the idle rich flying all over the interior of the illuminated club car. We got away with it but only barely. Booted police stamping all around our bushes, looking for the fiends. We didn’t do that one again but believe me, it was worth it.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: I see you do have a sense of humor, Robert. There were other dummies to be put to good use. Sometime later I can give you more cheerful anecdotes to make your day.

RTC: I hope all of that is behind you, Gregory.

GD: Oh yes, long ago but not forgotten. By the way, speaking of things behind, can you give me one word that describes what happened when a very fat woman backed into a rotating airplane propeller?

RTC: Not offhand.

GD: Disaster.

RTC: Are you smoking something illegal?

GD: No, too much coffee and too many fond memories. Let me go back to the book and leave you thinking about the chaos inside the Embassy when you turn on your noise box.

RTC: That’s probably enough for now.

GD: ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,’ Robert, and I will talk to you later.

 

(Concluded at 10:21 AM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Bernie Sanders

Thomas and Manju Sam are Australian, but their story is worth highlighting nonetheless, insofar as it provides a useful foil for the present entry.

Now, it will probably come as little surprise to readers that the authors of this blog have an overall very favorable view of Bernie Sanders’s candidacy for the type of position he is seeking. Nevertheless, despite his redeeming qualities, we should not overlook some serious flaws (and we’re not thinking about some questionable views on sexual repression and cancer he held 50 years ago): Sanders’s history of supporting medical quackery is rather disconcerting, as illustrated for instance by his 2013 sponsorship of a bill that would waste plenty of government dollars on totally ineffective and unsafe woo. But Sanders’s support for woo has been pretty consistent throughout his career One of the most frequent claims of supporters of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), which goes by the Orwellian name “integrative medicine,” is that it represents “integrating” alternative medicine with science-based medicine to produce the “best of both worlds.” Of course, when I think of the best of both worlds, I usually think of The Best of Both Worlds, which might well be appropriate, except that, unlike the case when the Borg assimilate a species, when science-based medicine is forced to assimilate quackery, the quackery changes it, making it weaker, not stronger, and degrading its scientific basis. As I like to say, “integrative medicine” involves “integrating” pseudoscience and quackery with real medicine, to the detriment of the latter. When integrative medicine isn’t incorporating outright quackery like naturopathy, homeopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine into medicine, it’s busy rebranding certain science-based modalities like exercise and diet as somehow being “alternative” or “integrative,” usually while adding just enough pseudoscience make them less science-based.

Unfortunately, unlike the old days when doctors were willing to call quackery quackery, the whole concept of “integrative medicine” has been wildly successful over the last 20 years in breaking down resistance to incorporating pseudoscience like naturopathy into medicine. This has led to the rise of what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” in which quackery has infiltrated the walls of academic medicine, where integrative medicine programs have popped up like so much kudzu, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which was formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), center in the NIH dedicated to funding studies of pseudoscience. Politically, this drip, drip, drip of legitimization of quackery has, not surprisingly, led to efforts to legitimize it completely. Indeed, Jann Bellamy just described how a new bill introduced by the supplement industry’s lapdog Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could lead to taxpayer subsidization of health savings accounts that can be used to purchase homeopathy. Meanwhile, a provision was slipped into the Affordable Care Act that mandates insurance coverage for the services of any state-licensed health care professional, which means that in states where chiropractic is licensed, insurance policies sold through ACA exchanges have to cover chiropractic. Ditto naturopathy.

What I was disturbed to learn is that apparently (at least if John Weeks is to be believed), on the Democratic side both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are sympathetic to CAM:

A colleague recently sent me a photo of presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders at a 2010 integrative medicine conference. His right ear is full of acupuncture needles. They looked like the five needle NADA protocol that, given its value in stress reduction, should likely be a regular treatment of any candidate on the campaign trail.Bernie Sanders. Get a load of this speech he gave in 2010 to the Vermont conference mentioned in Weeks’ article:

To me, the increasing integration of CAM and conventional care just makes sense. Research shows that more people are demanding and turning to integrative care because it parallels their personal values and desire to be treated as a whole person. For a wide variety of reasons, more and more people are not simply content to go to a doctor’s office, get a diagnosis and take a pill. They want to know what the cause of their medical problem is and how, when possible, it can be best alleviated through natural, non-invasive or non-pharmaceutical means.

The picture didn’t surprise me. In 1996, I was invited to speak on insurance issues associated with what was then called “complementary and alternative medicine” at an unusual conference in Vermont. Then Congressman Sanders had convened a statewide gathering of all healthcare stakeholders to examine the potential in these new approaches and practitioners. Massage therapists rubbed shoulders with insurance executives, acupuncturists with hospital administrators. Relationship building began.

In 2010, for instance, he said that “to me, the increasing integration of CAM and conventional care just makes sense. Research shows that more people are demanding and turning to integrative care because it parallels their personal values and desire to be treated as a whole person. For a wide variety of reasons, more and more people are not simply content to go to a doctor’s office, get a diagnosis and take a pill. They want to know what the cause of their medical problem is and how, when possible, it can be best alleviated through natural, non-invasive or non-pharmaceutical means.” Note for instance the appeal to popularity, the appeal to nature and the rather alarming dogwhistles about how quacks (as opposed to real medical professionals) will treat the “whole person” and the suggestion that quacks, also as opposed to real medical professionals, will get to the “cause of [someone’s] medical problem” (Sanders later suggested that altmed, as opposed to real medicine, focuses on prevention –). Of course, alternative medicine practitioners don’t treat the whole person and won’t get to the cause of anything (see no. 13 here) – real doctors, however, demonstrably do – but those claims nevertheless constitute the core of the alternative medicine narrative, and the fact that Sanders is adept enough at using these dog whistles to blow all three in rapid succession should be a serious cause for concern.

Sanders is also often credited with inserting a provision requiring licensed CAM professions to be included as part of the healthcare workforce into the ACA. In 2013, he co-sponsored (the main culprit here seems to have been Richard Blumenthal) several bills before the U.S. Congress to expand the availability of quackery to military veterans and funding CAM research at the expense of legitimate research. Fortunately, they failed to pass. Sanders can, however, be at least partially blamed for getting naturopaths licensed in Vermont.

And it is not like he has given up on woo ideas. In November 2015, for instance, Sanders apparently praised holistic and alternative medicine at a meeting of the Veteran’s Administration, claiming that “the increasing integration of Chinese medicine and yoga, for example, as bright spots in a largely dysfunctional American health care system.” Well, his diagnosis of the health care system might be apt, but adding traditional Chinese medicine (“neither traditional nor medicine”) is not going to bring about any positive changes.

He also supports GMO labelling, which is a Trojan horse for the anti-GMO movement Diagnosis: Compared to some of his most obvious political opponents, including climate-change denying, antivaccine conspiracy theorist presidential incumbents, Sanders’s commitment to woo may not come across as particularly harmful. They need to be exposed, however, and should be a cause of concern.

 

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