TBR News August 29, 2017

Aug 29 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., August 29, 2017:” The Internet has an enormous storehouse of information and nearly any desired material can be located and downloaded. That is the positive aspect of the Internet. The negative side is that the Internet supplies an enormous flood of false, misleading and useless information, almost all of invented out of whole cloth by the same types that also have rushed to join, and use, what is known as the Social Network.

The Social Networks are a handy means for persons to express their personal views on almost any subject and to communicate with others of a like mind. The problem that one notes from reading their postings is the same one observes in reading the comments appended to serious articles on major newspapers. In reading both of these areas, one is at once struck by the utter stupidity of the writers, their total lack of English, their constant bad grammar and terrible spelling and, most important, their desire not to express a thoughtful view but to parade their insignificance and ignorance to a wide audience.

Another negative aspect of the Social Network is that, at least in the United States, all of the networks of any size are working closely with such official governmental agencies as the DHS and the FBI, to spy on their members at no cost or effort to themselves. In these cases, the mindless babblings and boastings of the dim of wit load federal surveillance files with moronic chatters from which the authorities can easily build a criminal case.

We did some research on the social networks and discovered that they have attracted more members than the government can keep up with, redolent of the thousands of hungry flies congregating in a cow pen.


750,000,000 – Monthly Visitors


250,000,000 – Monthly Visitors


110,000,000 – Monthly Visitors


85,500,000 – Monthly Visitors


70,500,000 – Monthly Visitors

Google +

65,000,000 – Monthly Visitors


25,500,000 – Monthly Visitors

Live Journal

20,500,000 – Monthly Visitors


19,500,000 – Monthly Visitors


17,500,000 – Monthly Visitors


12,500,000 – Monthly Visitors


12,000,000 – Monthly Visitors


7,500,000 – Monthly Visitors


5,400,000 – Monthly Visitors


4,300,000 – Monthly Visitors


117,000,000 Yearly Visitors

BlackPlanet (Black Americans)

20,000,000 Yearly Visitors

Blauk  Anyone who wants to tell something about a stranger or acquaintance.       1,081,215  Yearly Visitors              .

Formspring  social Q&A website

290,000,000  Yearly Visitors

Habbo  For teens. Chat room and user profiles.

268,000,000 Yearly Visitors

Itsmy    Mobile community worldwide, blogging, friends, personal TV shows

2,500,000 Yearly Visitors

Kiwibox General.

2,400,000 Yearly Visitors”


Table of Contents

  • Anarchist Extremists: Antifa
  • Trump to visit flooded Texas as Harvey deluges region
  • How Harvey – and climate change – could change American real estate
  • North Korea fires missile through Japan’s airspace
  • Japanese react furiously to North Korean missile launch
  • Are we running out of fresh water?
  • Oklahoma isn’t working. Can anyone fix this failing American state?
  • Despite new U.S. sanctions, Russian oil traders say it’s business as usual
  • Pedophilia in Governance
  • Action and Reaction



From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2017, Issue No. 62

August 29, 2017


The National Security Agency has declassified the finding aid for a collection of thousands of historically valuable NSA scientific and technical records that were transferred to the National Archives (NARA) last year.

Up to now the contents of the collection had been opaque to the public. As David Langbart of NARA described the collection to the State Department Historical Advisory Committee last year:

“These records mostly consist of technical, analytical, historical, operational, and translation reports and related materials. Most of the records date from the period from the 1940s to the 1960s, but there are also documents from the 1920s and 1930s and even earlier. The NSA reviewed the records for declassification before accessioning and most documents and folder titles remain classified. [. . .] The finding aid prepared by NSA was the only practical way to locate documents of interest for researchers, but it is 557 pages long and is classified.”

When confronted with this impasse last month, the National Security Agency to its credit moved to rectify matters by declassifying the finding aid, which is now available as a .pdf file here (or as an .xlsx file here).

Most of the folder titles (listed beginning on p. 13 of the .pdf file) deal with narrow, highly specialized aspects of cryptologic history prior to 1965. A few examples picked at random: German Signals Intelligence in World War II; A Compilation of Soviet VHF, UHF and SHG Activity by Area, Source and Service; Hungarian Army Communications; Description of Chinese Communist Communications Network; and so on. Those folders all remain classified. But armed with the titles and file locations of such records (and of thousands more), researchers can now pursue their declassification.

Release of the finding aid by NSA “should help interested researchers gain access to relevant material more readily,” said David J. Sherman of NSA, who facilitated disclosure of the document.


The Congressional Research Service has prepared a summary overview of the presidential pardon power, addressing various legal questions such as: “whether the President can issue ‘prospective’ pardons; whether the President can pardon himself; and the extent to which Congress can regulate or respond to the exercise of the President’s pardon authority.”

So can the President pardon himself?

“The Framers did not debate this question at the Convention, and it unclear whether they considered whether the pardon power could be applied in this manner. No President has attempted to pardon himself. . . Accordingly, this is an unsettled constitutional question, unlikely to be resolved unless a President acts to pardon himself for a criminal offense.”

See Presidential Pardons: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), CRS Legal Sidebar, August 28, 2017.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following:

Allowances and Office Staff for Former Presidents, FY2016-FY2018 Appropriations, CRS Insight, August 28, 2017

Transport Agencies Withdraw Proposed Sleep Apnea Rules, CRS Insight, August 24, 2017

Kurds in Iraq Propose Controversial Referendum on Independence, CRS Insight, August 25, 2017

China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States, updated August 26, 2017

China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated August 26, 2017


Anarchist Extremists: Antifa

June 12, 2017

Counterterrorism, Domestic

Office of Homeland Security

Anti-fascist groups, or “Antifa,” are a subset of the anarchist movement and focus on issues involving racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, as well as other perceived injustices.

Self-described Antifa groups have been established across the United States and in several major cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. A majority of New Jersey-based anarchist groups are affiliated with the Antifa movement and are opposed to “fascism,” racism, and law enforcement. Antifa groups coordinate regionally and have participated in protests in New York City and Philadelphia. There are three loosely organized chapters in New Jersey, known as the North Jersey Antifa, the South Jersey Antifa, and the HubCity Antifa New Brunswick (Middlesex County).

In December 2016, a group known as the Antifascist Action-Nebraska engaged in a doxing campaign against a prominent member of American Vanguard, a white supremacist organization. The group published his personal information on several social media platforms and posted fliers on the University of Nebraska Omaha campus, calling for his expulsion.

On March 28, a small fight occurred between Antifa members and supporters of the US President during a rally in Seaside Heights (Ocean County).  Because of advance publicity about the event on social media, local and state law enforcement officers were able to keep altercations to a minimum.

Antifa: Inciting Violence Toward Far-Right Extremists

Violent confrontations between Antifa members and white supremacists—as well as militia groups—will likely continue because of ideological differences and Antifa’s ability to organize on social media. In the past year, Antifa groups have become active across the United States, employing a variety of methods to disrupt demonstrations.

On April 18, following the Patriots Day Free Speech Rally in Berkeley, California—which turned violent—an Antifa member wrote, “Every Nazi that gets punched is a victory. . . . We must realize that these days are going to become more and more common, unless we put a nail in this coffin once and for all.”  On March 29, as a response to an Antifa post on social media, a national militia group wrote in an online article, “Whenever their kind [Antifa] assumes power, individual freedom, including of speech and worship, is brutally suppressed.”

Beginning in March, the Philadelphia Antifa Chapter used Facebook to encourage followers to disrupt a “Make America Great Again” event in Philadelphia, resulting in over 300 participants. Antifa’s presence resulted in law enforcement shutting down the event early for safety concerns. As of May, a manual on how to form an Antifa group—posted on a well-known Anarchist website in February—had approximately 13,500 views.

On February 1, the University of California Berkeley canceled a controversial speaker’s appearance following a protest by approximately 100 Antifa members. In response, far-right extremists assembled at a free-speech rally, which Antifa members disrupted, resulting in 10 arrests and seven injuries. Additionally, on April 15, Antifa and far-right extremists clashed at a demonstration, leading to 23 arrests and 11 injuries.

Recent Anarchist and White Supremacist Confrontations

On February 11, members of the 211 Crew/211 Bootboys, a white supremacist gang, allegedly attacked two brothers at a New York City bar after seeing a “New York City anti-fascist sticker” on the back of one of the victim’s cellphones, according to New York authorities.

In June 2016, 300 counter-protesters, including anarchist extremists, attacked 25 members of the white supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party with knives, bottles, bricks, and concrete from a construction site while rallying at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, injuring 10.


Trump to visit flooded Texas as Harvey deluges region

August 27, 2017

by Mica Rosenberg and Erwin Seba


HOUSTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump planned to visit Texas on Tuesday to survey the response to devastating Tropical Storm Harvey, the first major natural disaster of his White House tenure, even as the lingering storm pushed floodwaters higher.

The slow-moving storm has brought catastrophic flooding to Texas, killed at least nine people, led to mass evacuations and paralyzed Houston, the fourth most-populous U.S. city. Some 30,000 people were expected to seek emergency shelter as the flooding entered its fourth day.

Harvey had also roiled energy markets and wrought damage estimated to be in the billions of dollars, with rebuilding likely to last beyond Trump’s current four-year term in office.

“My administration is coordinating closely with state and local authorities in Texas and Louisiana to save lives, and we thank our first responders and all of those involved in their efforts,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday.

Trump was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday morning in Corpus Christi, near where Harvey came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years. The president will later go to the Texas capital Austin to meet state officials, receive briefings and tour the emergency operation center, the White House said.

Much of the Houston area remained underwater on Tuesday, and dangerous rescues went on through the night as police, firefighters and National Guard troops in helicopters, boats and trucks pulled stranded residents from flooded homes.

Officials believed about 1,000 households remained to be rescued, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“We keep getting wave after wave after wave of rain and so that’s not calming the situation,” Pena said.

Forecasters drew comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, which lay waste to New Orleans and killed 1,800 people in 2005.

The administration of then-President George W. Bush drew accusations that his response was slow and inadequate – criticism that dealt a serious blow to his presidency.

Some who fled the rising floodwaters found they had few options, as roads were washed out and emergency services overloaded.

Emely Gonzalez, 21, said she took her wheelchair-bound mother to a hospital but was turned away because doctors determined her condition was not an emergency. Having left the woman’s oxygen tank at home, her friend Chris Pastor had to head back to the flooded home by kayak to retrieve it and had to swim back.

“It was just a very delicate situation,” Pastor said. The group later made it to safety in a hotel.

Before Harvey, the last Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Texas was Carla in 1961. Its high winds and torrential rains destroyed about 1,900 homes and nearly 1,000 businesses, the National Weather Service said.


Among the most recent deaths from Harvey was a man who drowned on Monday night while trying to swim across flooded Houston-area roads, the Houston Chronicle quoted the Montgomery County Constable’s Office as saying.

The storm center was in the Gulf of Mexico about 115 miles (185 km) southeast of Houston on Monday morning. It was likely to remain just off the coast of Texas through Tuesday night before moving inland over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Since coming ashore, Harvey has virtually stalled along the Texas coast, picking up warm water from the Gulf of Mexico and dumping torrential rain from San Antonio to Louisiana.

The Houston metro area has suffered some of the worst precipitation with certain areas expected to receive more than 50 inches (127 cm) of rain in a week, more than it typically receives for a year.

Harvey was expected to produce another 7 to 13 inches (18-33 cm) of rain through Thursday over parts of the upper Texas coast into southwestern Louisiana, the National Weather Service said.

“These stationary bands of tropical rain are very hard to time, very hard to place and are very unpredictable,” said Alek Krautmann, a weather service meteorologist in Louisiana.

Schools and office buildings were closed throughout the Houston metropolitan area, where 6.8 million people live.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency director Brock Long estimated that 30,000 people would eventually be housed temporarily in shelters.

Houston and Dallas have set up shelters in convention centers and Austin was preparing to house as many as 7,000 evacuees. More than 9,000 people packed into an overcrowded shelter in Houston, a Red Cross spokesman told CNN.

Hundreds of Houston-area roads were blocked by high water. The city’s two main airports were shut as the floods turned runways into ponds and more than a quarter million customers were without power as of Tuesday morning.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to half of U.S. refining capacity. The reduction in supply led gasoline futures to hit their highest level in two years this week as Harvey knocked out about 13 percent of total U.S. refining capacity, based on company reports and Reuters estimates.

The floods could destroy as much as $20 billion in insured property, making the storm one of the costliest in history for U.S. insurers, according to Wall Street analysts.

The Brazos River, one of the longest in the country, was forecast to crest at record highs well above flood levels on Tuesday about 30 miles (49 km) southwest of Houston, prompting authorities in Fort Bend County to order the evacuation of about 50,000 people.

Additional reporting by Peter Henderson, Mica Rosenberg, Erwin Seba, Nick Oxford and Ruthy Munoz in Houston, Andy Sullivan in Rockport, Texas, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Chizu Nomiyama


How Harvey – and climate change – could change American real estate

Floridians have long recognised the threat of climate change to their homes. Amid the latest disaster, home buyers may increasingly look to higher ground

August 29, 2017

by Richard Luscombe in Miami, Florida

The Guardian

If Florida gleaned anything from Hurricane Andrew, the intensely powerful storm that tore a deadly trail of destruction across Miami-Dade County almost exactly 25 years to the day that Hurricane Harvey barrelled into the Texas coastline, it was that living in areas exposed to the wrath of Mother Nature can come at a substantial cost.

At the time the most expensive natural disaster ever to hit the US, Andrew caused an estimated $15bn in insured losses in the state and changed the way insurance companies assessed their exposure to risk for weather-related events.

Many of the lessons that Florida has learned since 1992 have parallels in the unfolding disaster in Texas, experts say, and what was already a trend toward factoring in environmental threats and climate change to land and property values looks certain to become the standard nationwide as Houston begins to mop up from the misery of Harvey.

“The question is whether people are going to be basing their real estate decisions on climate change futures,” said Hugh Gladwin, professor of anthropology at Florida International University, who says his research suggests higher-standing areas of Miami are becoming increasingly gentrified as a result of sea level rise.

“In any coastal area there’s extra value in property, [but] climate change, insofar as it increases risks for those properties from any specific set of hazards – like flooding and storm surge – will decrease value.”

Miami Beach in particular has become a poster child for the effects of climate change, with some studies making grim predictions of a 5ft sea level rise by the end of the century and others suggesting that up to $23bn of existing property statewide could be underwater by 2050.

To counter those effects and preserve property values, Miami Beach has embarked on an ambitious and costly defensive programme that includes raising roads and installing powerful new pumps to shift the ever more regular floodwaters.

Even so, there are indications that investors are already looking to higher ground elsewhere in the city, such as the traditionally poor, black neighbourhoods of Little Haiti and Liberty City. “The older urban core was settled on the coastal ridge and anything below that was flooded. The coastal ridge we’re talking about is clearly gentrifying,” Gladwin said.

Or, as the journal Scientific American put it in its own investigation in May: “Real estate investment may no longer be just about the next hot neighbourhood, it may also now be about the next dry neighbourhood.”

Other analysts cite recent storms including Harvey, as well as Sandy, which wrecked areas of New Jersey and New York in 2012, as evidence.

“You have folks in south Florida buying houses in North Carolina and Tennessee, because they like the scenery but also because it’s high ground. If south Florida drops off into the ocean, they’ll have a place to go,” said Andrew Frey, vice-chairman of the south-east Florida/Caribbean Urban Land Institute and a Miami real estate developer.

“The more frequent these volatile superstorms become, the more people will look to build in safer places. If seas are rising three millimetres a year that’s one thing, but if we’re getting superstorms every couple of years with greater frequency and intensity, things can change a lot faster.”

Such concerns have fuelled demand for data-driven analysis and climate aggregation services that offer real estate advice to clients ranging from large corporations, state and local governments to farmers and individual house buyers.

One such number-crunching company, the San Francisco-based Climate Corporation, which collates and analyses National Weather Service data mostly for clients in agriculture, has previously warned that it would take only “a few climatic events in a row” for a collapse in property values “that will make the housing crisis [of 2008] look small”.

Its assessment is backed by Albert Slap, president and co-founder of Coastal Risk Consulting, a Florida firm that provides flood risk analysis reports. Slap said Harvey was only the latest natural disaster to expose flaws in the national flood insurance programme allowing property owners in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s so-called Zone X – areas at risk of a once-in-500-years flood event – not to carry coverage or fully disclose their flood risk when they sell.

“With storm surge and heavy rainfall increasing and climate and sea level rise, the system is just not working,” he said.

“Millions more people need flood insurance than have it and the crazy thing about Houston was only 15% of those who were flooded had flood insurance. The risk communication is not enough.

“You have thousands of properties in Norfolk, Annapolis, Atlantic City, Savannah, Charleston and Miami Beach where part of the property goes underwater with seawater for days at a time. When you have fish swimming in your driveway, it’s not an amenity, like a swimming pool. It means you’re driving through saltwater to get your kids to school, get to the supermarket, whatever you’re going to do.

“Will there be a massive decline in the property values of the flooded areas in Houston? Common sense would say yes. And if that’s combined with new legislation that’s going to require full disclosure, then wow.”


North Korea fires missile through Japan’s airspace

August 28, 2017


Pyongyang has launched a missile which, according to the Japanese and South Korean governments, passed through northern Japan’s airspace.

The Japanese government activated its J-Alert warning system after North Korea fired an unidentified missile early Tuesday morning.

The North Korean missile passed over Japanese territory around 6:06am local time. The Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the missile but warned people to take precautions, Reuters reports citing local media.

The Japanese government announced the missile fell into the Pacific ocean just 14 minutes after the launch, some 1,180 km east of Hokkaido’s Cape Erimo, the Japan Times reports.

Japan’s atomic facilities suffered no damage, its Nuclear Regulation Authority said. No damage has been reported to ships or aircraft in the region as the missile broke off into three pieces before falling into the water, a NHK report added.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary described Pyongyang’s latest action as a “grave threat.”

“This ballistic missile launch appeared to fly over our territory. It is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters, according to Reuters.

Suga added that Tokyo will work closely with Washington and Seoul, as well as other regional countries to issue an appropriate response. South Korea’s presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, has already convened a National Security Council (NSC) session to discuss the issue.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning confirmed that the “missile launch by North Korea flew over Japan” and that the US military was assessing its parameters.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang fired a “projectile… in the direction of the East Sea (Sea of Japan) at 5:57am,” according to Yonhap.

“It passed through the sky over Japan,” the JCS said. The rocket flew more than 2,700 kilometers at a maximum altitude of around 550 km, South Korea’s military said.

The South Korean government also “strongly” condemned North Korea’s launch, with Seoul calling on Pyongyang to stop further “provocations”.

“We strongly condemn the North’s yet another provocation,” the government said in a statement, according to Yonhap. “The North should come out to the road toward talks as soon as possible in recognition of the fact that denuclearization is the only way to security and economic development instead of seeking reckless provocations.”

The latest incident comes just three days after the North fired three short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan. According to the Pentagon, two of the missiles fell into the water, while a third blew up on the launch pad on August 26.

Following Tuesday’s launch and flyby over Japanese territory, the country’s prime minister vowed to do everything in his power to protect his nation.

“We will make utmost efforts to firmly protect the lives of the people,” Shinzo Abe said Tuesday before convening an emergency session on the missile firing, Reuters reports. Abe also said that Japan had “requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.”

The latest North Korean missile launches coincide with the annual US-South Korean Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises which are set to wrap up on August 31.

The Pentagon previously stated that Pyongyang’s behavior is nothing short of a provocation amid the heightened tensions on the peninsula, after two missiles flew some 250 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan Saturday.

“You’re still firing missiles, so that’s a threat. We look at that as a threat,” Manning told reporters, according to Yonhap.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington reached new heights after US president Donald Trump recently threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continues making threats against the United States.

Trump’s strong comments followed the July 28 Hwasong-14 ballistic missile launch by North Korea, after which Pyongyang boasted about having acquired the capability to strike the US mainland.

Pyongyang responded to Washington’s rhetoric by saying it was working on a plan to launch a medium-range ballistic missile close to the US territory of Guam, some 3,200km from North Korea. Guam, a tiny US territory located in Micronesia in the western Pacific, is home to two major American military bases housing over 6,000 personnel.

In a related development, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service warned Monday that its neighbor might be preparing its sixth nuclear weapon test from a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri. North Korea had conducted five nuclear tests – in 2006, 2009, 2013 and in January and September 2016. During the last test, the North claimed it had successfully detonated a small nuclear warhead.

Amid the ongoing North Korean ballistic tests, the UN Security Council earlier this month unanimously agreed on a new set of restrictive measures against Pyongyang. The new round of sanctions ban North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, new joint ventures with Pyongyang and new investments in joint ventures.

Both Russia and China supported the last round of UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang – although Moscow and Beijing have been offering their own roadmap out of the crisis. The “double freezing” Chinese-Russian initiative, welcomed by Germany but firmly rejected by Washington, proposes that North Korea stops its ballistic missile and nuclear activities while the US and its allies simultaneously halt their war games in the region.

Both Russia and China supported the last round of UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang – although Moscow and Beijing have been offering their own roadmap out of the crisis. The “double freezing” Chinese-Russian initiative, welcomed by Germany but firmly rejected by Washington, proposes that North Korea stops its ballistic missile and nuclear activities while the US and its allies simultaneously halt their war games in the region.


Japanese react furiously to North Korean missile launch

Japanese are looking for answers after N. Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile that crossed over northern Japan. Prime Minister Abe said the incident presented a “grave threat.”

August 29, 2017

by Julian Ryall


The Japanese government called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to seek a more exacting punishment on North Korea for its latest missile test on Tuesday that has significantly raised tensions in Northeast Asia.

Political leaders and the public want Pyongyang to be held more accountable for actions that they say no other nation would tolerate.

The government’s anger is shared by the Japanese public, with ordinary citizens insisting that the regime of Kim Jong Un has shown time and again that it cannot be trusted to behave reasonably and that more drastic measures are now called for.

Ordinary Japanese feel threatened

“By the time I saw the alert on my mobile phone this morning it was clear that it had already gone over Hokkaido, but what would have happened if it had disintegrated over the land instead of over the ocean?” Makoto Watanabe, an associate professor at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, told DW.

“And now that they have done this once, what is to stop them doing it again? In my mind, Japan and the rest of the international community has to be much firmer from now on,” he added.

Issei Izawa, a university student, told DW that Kim Jong Un is attempting to take advantage of US President Donald Trump’s domestic problems and remains convinced that China would not approve the overthrow of his regime because it could lead to a reunified Korea that is allied to the US. All of which leaves him in a relatively strong position.

“But this cannot go on,” he said. “There have been five nuclear tests so far and there are reports that they are planning another one. And now the missiles are flying directly over Japan.”

Drastic solutions?

“No other country would tolerate that and it is unreasonable for North Korea to do so,” added Izawa. “I think that the international community really needs to come together to put new sanctions into place and to make sure that they have the effect of making Kim see sense at last.”

Others, however, are proposing more drastic solutions, in part because they sense a gradual acceptance in the US administration of North Korea as a nuclear power.

“Conservatives in Japan are worried about those in the US who are proponents of an appeasement policy towards the North,” Ken Kato, director of Human Rights in Asia and a member of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, told DW.

Former director of US National Intelligence James Clapper, for example, said in an address to the Council for Foreign Relations last year that “the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause. They are not going to do that. It is their ticket to survival.”

Similarly, in an interview with the New York Times, former US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said, “History shows that we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea in the same way we tolerated the far greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War.”

Kato disagreed with these assertions and said that the North Korean regime is known for its belligerence rather than willingness for appeasement.

“These appeasers ignore the fact that North Korea has not in the past, and will not in the future, keep the promises that it makes,” Kato said. “And that means that people like me living in Tokyo could be killed when North Korea perfects a hydrogen bomb in a few years’ time. And it will be the same for people living in Los Angeles and other major cities in the US.”

As a consequence, Kato believes that more and more people in Japan are reaching the conclusion that “we need our own nuclear weapons to protect ourselves. And if the US capitulates to North Korea, then I think that they will be a majority.”


Are we running out of fresh water?

Water seems to be abundant on our blue planet. But extensive agriculture, high consumption and climate change are already causing regional scarcity. What future for water

August 29, 2017

by Katharina Wecker


Two-thirds of the world is covered in water, containing over a billion trillion liters of water. So how could we have water shortages?

The vast majority of water on earth is saltwater and therefore not fit for human consumption. Only 2.5 percent of all water is freshwater. But more than two-thirds of that is locked away in ice caps and glaciers.

That leaves us with a very tiny fraction of water to drink, cook with, irrigate crops and feed livestock.

But water is a renewable resource that moves in a cycle. The amount of H2O on our planet will always remain the same, and won’t run out as such.

The question is whether we will have enough clean water available for all citizens at all times.

Local water scarcity

According to a 2016 study by the University of Twente in the Netherlands, 4 billion people could face severe water shortages for at least a month every year.

In some regions, people are already severely affected by droughts and water scarcity. Millions of people in the Horn of Africa face hunger and illness after years of recurring drought. And Pakistan could run dry by 2025, a UN report suggests.

“Locally, the problem is very acute,” Johannes Schmiester, a water expert at WWF Germany, told DW. “And all available numbers and observations suggest that the situation will become more severe.”

Climate change is expected to intensify the situation. It alters weather patterns and water cycles around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas, and floods in others.

Extreme temperatures are also to blame for physical water scarcity. But in many cases experts as well point out “economic” water scarcity, due to how we manage our water supplies.

Groundwater is over-extracted; rivers and lakes are drying up or becoming too polluted to use.

To combat economic water scarcity, governments have to invest more in infrastructure for water supply and water storage, says Vincent Casey, a water expert at WaterAid.

“A big challenge is that water isn’t always where you need it and when you need it most. So investment has to go into water storage and distribution, to ensure people always have access to safe water,” he told DW.

Agriculture’s thirst

One of the biggest water consumers is agriculture. Around 70 percent of all freshwater on the planet goes into irrigation of fields and feeding of livestock.

Farmers in some regions are already seeking to water their fields more efficiently. But researchers say this is not enough.

In Spain’s tomato-growing region, farmers using the latest technology have managed to decrease their water consumption over the years. But in the industry as a whole – which produces a quarter of Europe’s tomatoes – still needs more water than local water resources can supply.

As a result, the region faces water scarcity.

Researchers say the solution is to consider the entire geographical area and think in units of river basins. Can the local ecosystem sustain agricultural production?

“It’s important to change perspective and consider whether local fresh water supplies can support certain industries,” says Schmiester from WWF.

Growing demand

An additional strain on water management is our ever-growing consumption.

According to the World Health Organization, human beings need at least 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of freshwater per day to prepare meals and for basic personal hygiene. Laundry and bathing are not included.

Water consumption is much higher in industrialized countries, though – for example, the average person in Germany uses 140 liters per day. Flushing the toilet alone uses 30 liters.

Our indirect water footprint is even higher: 840 liters of water are required to produce one pot of coffee. And more than 8,000 liters go into a single pair of jeans.

Growing consumption calls for better reuse of water and more efficient production. The theme of this year’s World Water Week addresses “water and waste,” and how to reduce use and recycle water.

More than 3,000 experts will exchange ideas and develop solutions for waste water treatment and poor water management.

But Casey warns that technical solutions won’t be a silver bullet for the global water crisis.

“It ultimately comes down to political decisions over allocations and effective governance of the resource. Solutions have to be devised in the countries where the problems are – and only then can water scarcity be solved,” he concluded.


Oklahoma isn’t working. Can anyone fix this failing American state?

Poverty, police abuse, record prison rates and education cuts that mean a four-day school week. Why are public services failing Oklahomans?

August 29, 2017

by Russell Cobb

The Guardian

A teacher panhandles on a roadside to buy supplies for her third-grade classroom. Entire school districts resort to four-day school weeks. Nearly one in four children struggle with hunger.

A city overpass crumbles and swarms of earthquakes shake the region – the underground disposal of oil and gas industry wastes have caused the tremors. Wildfires burn out of control: cuts to state forestry services mean that out-of-state firefighting crews must be called in.

A paralyzed and mentally ill veteran is left on the floor of a county jail. Guards watch for days until the prisoner dies. A death row inmate violently convulses on the gurney as prison officials experiment with an untested cocktail for execution.

Do these snapshots of Oklahoma show a failing state?

Added up, the facts evoke a social breakdown across the board. Not only does Oklahoma lead the country in cuts to education, it’s also number one in rates of female incarceration, places second in male incarceration, and also leads in school expulsion rates. One in twelve Oklahomans have a felony conviction.

Rosa Brooks of Georgetown University Law Center wrote in an essay that states begin to fail when the contract between citizens and public institutions breaks down. States “lose control over the means of violence, and cannot create peace or stability for their populations or control their territories. They cannot ensure economic growth or any reasonable distribution of social goods.”

It may be hard to believe, but entry-level employees with a high school diploma at the popular convenience store QuikTrip make more than teachers in Oklahoma.

For four years running, the state has led the nation in tax cuts to education, outpacing second-place Alabama by double digits. Years of tax cuts and budget shortfalls mean that Oklahoma has fallen to 49th in teacher pay. Spending per pupil has dropped by 26.9% since 2008.

Things have become so bad that the Cherokee nation, a tribe systematically cheated out of its land allotments in the creation of the modern state of Oklahoma, recently donated $5m to the state’s education fund.

Lisa Newman, a high school teacher from El Reno, for instance, recounts a history of cutbacks, increases in class sizes, and her stagnant salary. She takes in less than $1,000 a month after all her bills are paid.

Newman, who recently moved back into her parents’ house at age 39, contemplates a declining standard of living while she raises two boys and works about 50 hours a week.

Shelby Eagan, Mitchell elementary school’s 2016 teacher of the year, decided she’d had enough after a referendum to raise teacher pay through an increase in state sales tax was defeated in last November’s election.

“I would like to have kids some day,” she says. But that’s unlikely for now: her rent has gone up. She also buys her own supplies for her classroom.

Eagan is originally from Kansas City but she loves Oklahoma. She found her calling teaching in an urban elementary school. She teaches the children “how to tie their shoes, blow their nose, have superhero fights that don’t turn violent”, among other things. All of her students are on free or reduced-fee lunch programs.

After the referendum defeat of SQ 779, Eagan decided to look elsewhere for a better gig. Eagan found a job in the area that would increase her salary by $10,000 right off the bat.

Eagan’s decision to leave was mirrored in May by the 2016 Oklahoma teacher of the year, Shawn Sheehan, who wrote in an op-ed: “Teaching in Oklahoma is a dysfunctional relationship.”

At Oklahoma Policy Institute, a progressive thinktank, the policy analyst Carly Putnam says education is only one part of the state’s dysfunction. Putnam cites the example of a popular support program for developmental disabilities which gave families of limited means resources to take care of their loved ones. It takes roughly 10 years just to get on a waiting list to be considered for the support waiver to help a disabled person, meaning applications filed in 2006 are just now being considered. Many of the disabled patients have died by the time their files are being considered.

One student with a bipolar disorder was nearly arrested and expelled, Eagan says. “No one had the training to deal with his manic or depressive days. One day, another student kicked him in the head during a manic day.”

This triggered Eagan’s student, who punched the offending student. Administrators decided to expel theEagan’s student and charge him with assault. Eagan eventually talked them out of pressing criminal charges, but the experience left her withwas a visceral encounter with the school-to-prison pipeline.

The case of Elliot Williams is a stark example of how Oklamhoma’s public institutions is failing its citizens. Williams, who had been honorably discharged from the army, had a diagnosed bipolar condition. After he experienced a few nights of insomnia at his parents’ house in Owasso, relatives brought him to a hotel.

Williams threw a soda can in the lobby and walked into a door. Hotel staff called police. An officer who arrived at the scene found Williams “rambling on about God and eating dirt”. The officer and the staff concluded that Williams was suffering from “some kind of mental breakdown”.

They escorted him out of the hotel and called his parents. At some point, while outside the hotel, Williams threatened to kill himself. A cop ordered him to stay seated on a curb. Williams got up and moved towards a police officer, who pepper-sprayed him.

Police arrested Williams, charging him with obstruction. The small town jail of Owasso wasn’t equipped to deal with a case like Williams’s. Instead of a suitable mental health facility, Williams wound up Tulsa County Jail.

It was Williams’s bad luck to be transferred to a jail that only weeks earlier, federal agents had faulted for “a prevailing attitude of indifference”.

The jail was run by Sheriff Stanley Glanz, who would become infamous as the man who assigned his friend, Robert Bates, an insurance agent with no police training, to a violent crimes task force.

Tulsa County jail was certainly no place for a man with a bipolar condition. And yet, with Williams in the midst a breakdown, he was tackled and body-slammed to the ground by an officer. Williams had difficulty walking. He was transferred to a holding cell, where he rammed his head against a wall.

Seeing Williams unable to move, the head nurse allegedly told him to “quit fucking faking”. He defecated on himself and officers dragged him to a shower. He still didn’t move. To prove that it was an act, an officer put a small cup of water just outside Williams’s grasp. He never reached it.

For three days, jail officials – guards and medical staff – expressed “concern” about Williams but never called 911 or requested a hospital transfer. He was left in a medical cell, where a video camera recorded him lying there, unable to eat or drink. Five days after he was put in the Tulsa County jail, Williams had died of complications from a broken neck and serious dehydration.

Audits and inspections of the Tulsa County jail revealed decades of indifference to sexual abuse, overcrowding and overt racism. From one angle, the Tulsa County jail is par for the course of the American criminal justice system. But from another – and in the opinion of the jury that ultimately sided with Williams by awarding his estate $10.25m – Tulsa had seriously failed.

Shane Matson is a geologist whose family has been in the Oklahoma oil business for three generations. For Matson, the discovery of new reserves in Oklahoma is a good thing. The “dark outlook about the future of energy” is gone, he says. Cheap oil and gas are now abundant.

Matson fought Obama-era regulations in Osage County, where he was exploring for oil. But his industry’s political influence has now reached untoward extremes, he thinks. Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and Continental Resources have lobbied to lower the state’s gross production tax, citing competition from other states. They’ve gotten their way, with Oklahoma’s oil and gas production taxes now significantly below those of its rival Texas.

One of the state’s richest men and its most renowned philanthropist, George Kaiser, has been urging an increase in the gross production tax for years. And there’s reason to believe it’s not necessarily a partisan issue. Until recently, North Dakota had been able to expand its education system with a 6.5% gross production tax.

And despite the tax cuts, the Tulsa-based Newfield Exploration moved most of its staff to Houston.

Industry leaders, not surprisingly, see the issue through an entirely different lens.

Chad Warmington, the president of the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association, says that about a quarter of the state’s tax revenue comes from oil and gas while the industry employs about 13% of the state’s workforce. Dependence on taxes from oil and gas “has left the state unprepared for inevitable price downturns of a cyclical industry”, Warmington says. The current downturn, then, “has led many to question the state’s management of the tax dollar”.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute calculates that the current regime of tax breaks and refunds costs around half a billion dollars in decreased revenue ever year. That figure, if correct, would cover the current $220 million budget gap in education but would still not be enough to make up for the state’s entire budget shortfall.

Of course, many would not recognize their state in this description. One of the most respected bloggers in Tulsa, Michael Bates, said the whole idea of Oklahoma as a failing state was “hysterical and overwrought”.

After all, downtown Tulsa and Oklahoma City are thriving. The cities have been rated by Kiplinger among the “best cities in America to start a business”. Tulsa has rolling hills, parks and delicious barbecue: Tulsa People enumerates the city’s private schools. Affordable housing prices are the envy of the nation and suburban school districts boast gleaming new facilities. And yes, some conservatives think the four-day week is good for “traditional” families, allowing for more time with the kids. For affluent families, the extra day can be spent on college prep or sports. But for middle- and working- class parents, it means lost wages or added expenses for childcare.

And for poor families, like those of Eagan’s students, who rely on the free lunch program, it means hunger. Local food banks have to pick up the slack and deliver meals when the kids aren’t in school.

Nearly everyone I talked to for this story – regardless of political affiliation – was startled by the downward spiral of basic social services.

There is something deeply ingrained and unyielding in the state’s conservatism.

When I was in elementary school, I remember seeing my mother struggle with hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid medical bills after my dad died of heart disease. She was suddenly a single mother with an incomplete college education, no professional training, and a mountain of debt. We depended on the generosity of friends and family to get by.

I recently asked her why she never went on welfare or food stamps while she worked as a daycare teacher and raised me.

“Welfare is for poor people,” she said. “We weren’t them.”

If you rely on the progressive account, it’s easy to think Red America is dominated by a majority of angry racists lighting a match to liberal democracy. And people in the hipper areas of Tulsa seem to want the city to divorce the state.

But there are signals that some Oklahomans want a change of direction. David Blatt, the executive director of Oklahoma Policy Institute, and someone who’s happy to work with “reasonable” Republicans, points to three referenda widely expected to be voted down that actually won.

Oklahomans voted to reclassify certain drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, bucking the “law and order” line of the Trump campaign. They also voted to deny public funds to return a Ten Commandments monument to the state capitol, and against a bill to rewrite the state’s constitution that would have made it harder to regulate big agribusiness. All this in a state that gave Trump the third-widest margin of victory in America.

Meanwhile, facing another budget meltdown and a teacher exodus, the state raised cigarette taxes to cover the shortfall only to have the supreme court rule the law unconstitutional.

Oklahoma declared a revenue failure the second year in a row.

“Our situation is dire,” Oklahoma finance director Preston Doerflinger said. “To use a pretty harsh word, our revenues are difficult at best. Maybe they fall into the category of somewhat pathetic.”

Governor Mary Fallin had an answer: prayer. The governor issued an official proclamation making 13 October Oilfield Prayer Day. Christians were to gather in churches and hope for a little divine intervention targeting falling worldwide oil prices. Fallin quickly back-pedalled when it was pointed out that her proclamation only included Christians. “Prayer is good for everyone,” she reasoned.

Prayer Day came and went. The price of oil has barely budged since. Three weeks after Prayer Day, however, the earth shook. A 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit the town of Cushing, a place whose claim to fame is the “Oil Pipeline Crossroads of the World”.

Maybe God had something to say about Oklahoma after all.

Russell Cobb is an associate professor in modern languages and cultural studies at the University of Alberta. He is at work on a book provisionally titled You Dumb Okie: Race, Class, and Lies in Flyover Country


Despite new U.S. sanctions, Russian oil traders say it’s business as usual

August 29, 2017

by Katya Golubkova and Gleb Gorodyankin


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian oil companies will quickly find ways to work around tighter restrictions imposed this month by the United States on the foreign finance they can use, multiple Russian oil industry sources told Reuters.

The new restrictions cut the period that U.S.-based entities can provide finance to Russian energy firms from 90 to 60 days and are part of a fresh package of U.S. sanctions that U.S. President Donald Trump approved on Aug. 2.

Initiated by Congress, the sanctions were in part designed to punish Moscow further for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and to sanction it for what U.S. intelligence agencies say was its meddling in the U.S. presidential election, something Russia denies.

In particular, the measures were designed to hurt Russia’s energy sector, its biggest source of revenue.

But though the new steps are an inconvenience that could cause Russian oil companies to incur extra costs, the sources, who work for Russian oil firms and Russian and foreign oil trading houses, said that they were only incrementally worse than sanctions that have been in place since 2014.

Oil companies had learned to adapt then and would do so again now, they said.

None of the oil trade sources said they knew of any transactions having been disrupted as a result of the new measures.

“Business as usual,” said one Russian oil trader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, when asked to describe how the industry was coping with the new curbs.

Still, of all the various measures targeting the energy sector, the restriction cutting the financing duration would have the biggest direct impact even if there were ways to mitigate it, the industry sources said.


The initial sanctions, imposed in 2014 soon after Russia annexed Crimea, effectively cut off Russian energy companies from long-term Western debt of the kind they had used heavily to fund investments in new projects.

However, by allowing financing lasting up to 90 days, the initial sanctions kept the door open to trade finance, the routine debt operations that most oil companies depend on.

In crude oil transactions, the selling party usually does not get paid in full until weeks after the shipment of oil has been delivered. To mitigate liquidity gaps, an oil trader steps in and makes pre-payments to the oil producer.

Now that the financing period has been reduced by a third, to 60 days, Russian energy companies will have to become more resourceful, said the industry sources.

One workaround, according to a second oil trading source, is that the energy firms will free up cash of their own. That could be done by selling off assets, though the more likely scenario is that they will dip into their cash reserves.

“The companies right now have significant volumes of liquidity,” said the trader, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Alternatively, said the same source, energy companies can use external finance, but break it down into many increments so the lender does not fall foul of the sanctions. That requires more deals with more parties.

“It’s an increase in operational and financial costs,” said the second oil trading source.

Another trader, who works for a major Western company, said the sector had already learned how to deal with a shorter financing window when the initial sanctions were imposed, so the industry would adapt again.

“Okay, so it (the financing period) is being cut, that means we need to turn it around in 60 days, not 90,” said the trader. “You need to keep a close eye on it. But it hasn’t had a strong effect.”

Traders said they expected that the new, tighter restrictions would result in Russian banks handling more of the finance for energy trading transactions. Before sanctions, that was a role played largely by big international trading houses and Western banks.

Several Russian banks are already subject to U.S. and European Union sanctions, so have little to fear from providing finance to Russian energy companies, even if it exceeds the 60-day limit.

In one case this year Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft was seeking a buyer for 1.8 million tonnes of Urals crude oil for loading from the Baltic port of Primorsk between July 2017 and December 2018. The terms of the sale were that the buyer would have to pre-finance the deal.

Oil trading sources told Reuters that the cargo was sold to VTB Trading, a unit of Russian state lender VTB, which has been subject to U.S. sanctions since 2014.

Additional reporting by Kira Zavyalova; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Peter Graff


Pedophilia in Governance

August 29, 2017

by Christian Jürs

It is very well known inside the Beltway (District of Columbia) that the so-called ‘Orange Revolution’ in the Ukraine was a quintessential CIA operation.

It was designed to kick out the pro-Russian elements of the Ukrainian government and replace them with CIA-friendly people.

And this, in turn, got the Ukraine, with its offshore oil and the naval base in the Crimea, firmly into the CIA orbit. But the newly minted government in the Ukraine was not very popular and a pro-Russian president was eventually elected.

The CIA could not tolerate the potential loss of the oil and the naval base so they engineered the recent ‘Kiev revolt’ against the new president, kicked him out and replaced him with a pliable new president.

In short, inside the western Ukraine, the CIA still wields considerable power through their Ukrainian front men.

One of the less pleasant operational methods of many intelligence agencies is what is known as the ‘Honey Trap.’ This is a means of using sexual attractions to lure weak-willed potential informants into their system.

And in the Ukraine today, we find no less than seven pornographic internet sites that cater to any and all aberrant sexual tastes. X-hamster is one of these but in addition to its wares, we have three really disgusting sites that cater to pedophiles of many tastes.

These sites are privately advertised as being “totally secure” and feature absolutely revolting pictures of small children of both sexes involved, often by force, in repulsive acts.

To download, store or pass along such filth is very clearly against American Federal law  which prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography using or affecting any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce (See 18 U.S.C. § 2251; 18 U.S.C. § 2252; 18 U.S.C. § 2252A).

Specifically, Section 2251 makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing visual depictions of that conduct.  Any individual who attempts or conspires to commit a child pornography offense is also subject to prosecution under federal law.

Of these pedophile sites, three have been set up with the funds, and are under the control of, the American CIA.

They use these sites to entrap persons of interest for the purpose of gaining support from or to blackmail the users.

While the pedophiles are under the mistaken impression that their use, in the United States, of such filth is protected at the source, they ought to realize that there is no such thing as any secure Internet site.

These sites have all been compromised in that others, beside the CIA and the users, are able to see, clearly, who are viewing and downloading illegal child pornography.

This is known outside of the circle of pedophiles involved and there exists a long listing of just which individual is looking at, and downloading, what manner of strictly prohibited perverted filth.

It is also known that a significant number of top level US Federal employees to include members of Congress of both parties, senior officials, members of Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in all of this.

The list deserves to be released to the American public so that they can see for themselves which apples have thoroughly rotten cores.

Will any of these discoveries be made public?

Count on it.


Action and Reaction

August 29, 2017

by Harry von Johnston PhD

It has been very accurately said that one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist;it all depends on one’s point of view. In a historical context, Germany, Soviet Russia, Great Britain and the United States have been occupying powers and all have suffered the ravages of guerrilla warfare: Germany in Europe and Russia, Britain in half of the world, the Soviets in their own country and eastern Europe, and the United States in Southeast Asia. All of these powers dealt with their dissidents in the same way: extensive use of force and terror. Concentration camps have been called “detention” or “relocation centers” but in the final analysis, they are prisons where the politically dangerous are caged, often tortured, and left to the ravages of disease, hunger and neglect.

The Regional Interrogation Centers of the CIA in Vietnam differed little from their counterparts of the Gestapo or the NKVD. The aims of these entities was to elicit information and destroy the will to resist in the occupied countries. Extensive exposure of these methods have done absolutely nothing at all to eradicate them—witness the barbarity of the Serbs against their neighbors in Bosnia and Croatia.

A low-key controversy has been bubbling for a number of years concerning the deaths of a large number of German prisoners of war in the months following the end of the Second World War. Revisionists claim that after the collapse of Germany, huge numbers of prisoners were left in exposed, outdoor camps with only meager rations—certainly not enough for all of them—and the death tolls were tremendously high. Apologists for the captors claim that while there were a few deaths, due to natural causes, a pattern of deliberate starvation and neglect did not occur.

Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, has been singled out for blame in this matter. Although blame is difficult to place, it should be noted that Eisenhower despised the Germans, not just the defeated military but all Germans. Some apologists have credited Eisenhower’s loathing of Germans to his discovery of the horrors in the concentration camp system. However, Müller’s papers contain a thick dossier on Eisenhower that may offer a different reason for his attitudes and actions. According to what appears to be a thoroughly researched study, one of many kept on Allied leaders both political and military, the Eisenhower family was Jewish and emigrated to the United States in the 19th century from the Saxon city of Pirna. If this is true, it would explain Eisenhower’s hatred of Germans.




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