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TBR News December 19, 2019

Dec 19 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 18, 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.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 19: ” Trump has been a manipulative, thoroughly dishonest, businessman as evident in his methodology of non-payment of bills, planting false information, threatening those who dare to criticize him, constant boasting, chronic lying and short-term memory problems.
He has, unfortunately, brought his defects to the Oval Office and we constantly see such fictions rampant as ‘The Poisoned Russians in Britain,” “Spies in the Presidential campaign,” threats to put tariffs on various foreign imports, theats to use military force on perceived uncooperative former allies, and a host of other actions that Trump hopes will energize legions of far-right and Jewish voters to support him in the next election.
Because Trump has led an insulated life and gets what he wants by connivance and threats, he is out of touch with reality.
His negative actions are seen daily on the Internet and in the media and these build up with even the most stupid voter.
He has, often deliberately, antagonized such a large field of potential opponents that his hubris will destroy him and, in the end, cause chaos and disruption in the United States and many other countries.
Since Trump is used to having his way in the business world, he is of the opinion that his successful techniques in that field will work just as well in the political one.
The only positive aspect of the coming storm is that many disparate groups will join against Trump in a common cause and force him from the White House.
There will be many far right supporters, Jewish groups and others who will mourn his passing and as a parallel, today in Russia, who is fortunate to have a successful and effective president, there are still some who yearn for the return of the murderous Josef Stalin.
Washington has always been a city filled with rumors, speculations, gossip, and many manifestations of self-importance.
I had lunch the other day with a member of one of the alphabet agencies who told me, in strict confidence, that his agency had ‘positive proof’ that Trump had gay connections when he was younger and still lived back in the closet.
He said that Trump’s very aggressive (and blatantly crude) attitudes towards women was a sure indicator of his orientation and that his wife was keeping their attractive son as far away from his attentions as she could.
I would dismiss this as gossip save for the fact that I have been hearing the same theme from others, one of whom is a prominent psychologist who deals extensively with closeted males.
If all of this is true, my informant assured me, it would soon emerge in public via a ‘cooperative blogger’ and an even more cooperative mainline media.
Interesting times we live in.”

The Table of Contents

• In historic step, U.S. House impeaches Donald Trump for abuse of power, obstruction
• Trump earned his impeachment
• Negative Trump Background
• The Cro-Magnon Man: Not out of Africa
• Cable television spying
• The Season of Evil
• Two Top Cold War Spies Made The Same Troubling Prediction About Edward Snowden

In historic step, U.S. House impeaches Donald Trump for abuse of power, obstruction
December 18, 2019
by Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump on Wednesday became the third U.S. president to be impeached as the House of Representatives formally charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a historic step that will inflame partisan tensions across a deeply divided America.
The Democratic-led House’s passage of two articles of impeachment on a mostly party-line vote sets the stage for a trial next month in the Republican-controlled Senate – friendlier terrain for Trump – on whether to convict and remove him from office.
The abuse of power article was passed on a 230-197 vote. The obstruction article was passed by 229-198.
The House action sets the stage for a trial next month in the Republican-controlled Senate – friendlier terrain for Trump – on whether to convict him and remove him from office. As the House voted, Trump was addressing a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.
No president in the 243-year history of the United States has been removed from office by impeachment. That would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 20 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting against Trump – and none have indicated they will.
Trump, who is seeking another four-year term in the November 2020 presidential election, has called the impeachment drive an “attempted coup” by Democrats seeking to nullify his 2016 election victory. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, has predicted there is “no chance” his chamber will remove Trump when it holds its trial.
The first of the articles accused Trump, 73, of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, as well as a discredited theory promoted by the president and beneficial to Russia that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election.
Democrats said Trump held back $391 million in security aid intended to combat Russia-backed separatists and a coveted White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as leverage to coerce Kiev into interfering in the 2020 election by smearing Biden.
The second article accused Trump of obstruction of Congress by directing administration officials and agencies not to comply with lawful House subpoenas for testimony and documents related to impeachment.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the impeachment inquiry, launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September, a “witch hunt.”
During a daylong debate before the vote, Pelosi read the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance and said: “We are here to defend democracy for the people.”
“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” Pelosi said.
As the debate unfolded, Trump on Twitter called the proceedings “AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA” and on his party. On the House floor, Republicans accused Democrats of seeking to use an unfair, rigged process to nullify the 2016 election.
“The matter before the House today is based solely on a fundamental hatred of our president. It’s a sham, a witch hunt – and it’s tantamount to a coup against the duly elected president of the United States,” Republican Representative Mike Rogers said.
Republican Representative Mike Kelly compared the impeachment to the Japanese attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor in 1941, calling the House proceedings another “date that will live in infamy” – similar to the words Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt used to describe the raid that killed about 2,400 people and led to America’s entry into World War Two.
Trump’s election has polarized the United States, dividing families and friends and making it more difficult for politicians in Washington to find middle ground as they try to confront pressing challenges like the rise of China and climate change.
The impeachment vote comes ahead of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, which will pit him against the winner among a field of Democratic contenders, including Biden, who have repeatedly criticized Trump’s conduct in office and promised to make it a key issue.
Reuters/Ipsos polls show that while most Democrats want to see him impeached, most Republicans do not. Televised hearings last month that were meant to build public support for impeachment appear to have pushed the two sides further apart.
The House vote on Wednesday was just the latest, but also unquestionably the biggest, in a string of controversies that have buffeted the turbulent presidency of the New York real estate mogul and former reality TV personality.
Central to the impeachment inquiry was a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his father was U.S. vice president.
Trump has accused the Bidens of corruption without offering evidence. They have denied wrongdoing.
A rough transcript of the call released by the White House showed Trump asking Zelenskiy, elected only three months earlier and eager for American support, to “do us a favor” and conduct the investigations in coordination with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani in the prior months had engaged in a concerted effort to persuade Ukraine to carry out the investigations. Testimony before House committees showed that Giuliani helped engineer Trump’s removal last May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was perceived as a roadblock to those investigations.
Impeachment is a remedy devised by the United States’ founders, wary of a monarch on American soil after breaking away from Britain and King George III in the 18th century, to enable Congress to remove a president who has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Only two previous presidents have been impeached. The House in 1998 impeached President Bill Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice arising from a sexual relationship he had with a White House intern, but the Senate acquitted him. The House impeached President Andrew Johnson in 1868, focused on his removal of the secretary of war, but he was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.
In 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment in the Watergate corruption scandal but before the full House could pass them.
Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Writing by Will Dunham and John Whitesides; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney

Trump earned his impeachment
Continuing with more of the same from the US president was no longer an option. Democrats were right to charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,
December 19, 2019
by Alexandra von Nahmen
The vote was clear. Nearly all Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump. In doing so, they’ve sent the proceedings against the president to the Senate to try him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The votes passed despite misgivings on the part of Democratic lawmakers freshly elected in traditionally conservative voting districts. Republicans voted equally united against the charges but were powerless to stop them.
It’s a huge success for the Democratic Party and for Trump’s adversary Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House. She got her party to fall into line. Democrats didn’t flinch. However, they were unable to convince Republicans, who — as always — continue to support the president, as unbelievable as this appears to an outside observer, closing their eyes to his scandalous behavior. We shouldn’t have expected anything else.
A toxic political atmosphere
These impeachment proceedings and the ensuing trial will polarize politics and the American public more than it already is. The atmosphere will become more toxic, the tone even harsher. And in the end, Donald Trump is likely to be acquitted of all wrongdoing by the Republican-controlled Senate. He will use the impeachment in the 2020 presidential election as ammunition to mobilize his voter base and disparage his opponents.
The consequences for the Democrats could be dramatic: No change of power in the White House, a loss of the majority in the House of Representatives, disappointed voters, a leadership crisis. It could all happen. Maybe. Still, standing up to Donald Trump was important and the right thing to do.
Trump thinks he is the state
How can the US continue with a president that asks a foreign power — Ukraine — to help him get re-elected? And that just a day after the end of the Mueller investigation for alleged conspiracy with another power — Russia? How can the United States continue with a president who savagely insults his opponents, acts like a dictator and prevents Congress from doing its duty?
If Democratic lawmakers hadn’t acted, it would have meant self-destruction for Congress, that venerable American institution. Those not ready to defend the US Constitution have no business taking an oath to it. In this case, Democrats didn’t have a choice.
An obligation to intervene
A number of American voters don’t seem interested in the fact that their president believes he’s above the law. But for those whose job it is to act as a check and balance to the executive branch of government are required to intervene. It’s more than empty prattle about conscience and morals if you genuinely believe in duty and responsibility.
What would happen if no one stood up to the bullies and tyrants just because there could be a political cost and little actual opportunity to fundamentally change the situtation? Democrats would have lost all credibility.
A stain on Trump’s presidency
Democrats must maintain a delicate balance: Remove Trump from office and at the same time cooperate with the White House and Republicans for the greater good of all Americans.
We can’t know how history will view this day. It’s unlikely that the impeachment proceedings or Senate trial will change Trump’s erratic governing style or curb his disdain for rules and ethics. It’s also unclear whether voters will reward the House of Representatives’ intervention at the voting booth.
But one thing is for sure: The presidency of Donald Trump will forever be stained. More of the same was not an option.

Negative Trump Background
December 19, 2019
by Aaron L. Johnson
Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but his hotel and casino businesses were declared bankrupt six times between 1991 and 2009 in order to re-negotiate debt with banks and owners of stock and bonds. Because the businesses used Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were allowed to operate while negotiations proceeded.
Mr. Trump was quoted by Newsweek magazine in 2011 saying, “I do play with the bankruptcy laws – they’re very good for me” as a tool for trimming debt.
The six bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).
As president, Trump has frequently made false statements in public speeches and remarks. Trump uttered “at least one false or misleading claim per day on 91 of his first 99 days” in office according to The New York Times, and 1,318 total in his first 263 days in office. The Washington Post, also wrote, “President Trump is the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered… the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up.”
Mr. Trump has a history of making racially-charged statements and taking actions perceived as racially motivated.
In 1975, Mr. Trump settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1973 alleging housing discrimination against black renters. In 1989, he was accused of racism for insisting that a group of black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the Central Park jogger case even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence.
He continued to maintain this position as late as 2016.
Mr.Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech in which he described Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.
One of Mr.Trump’s campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked for several years to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovich win the Ukrainian presidency.
Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.
Members of Mr.Trump’s campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election In a December 29, 2016 conversation, Flynn and Kislyak discussed the recently imposed sanctions against Russia; Mr.Trump later fired Flynn for falsely claiming he had not discussed the sanctions.
Donald Trump has pursued business deals in Russia since 1987, and has sometimes traveled there to explore potential business opportunities. In 1996, Trump trademark applications were submitted for potential Russian real estate development deals. Mr.Trump’s partners and children have repeatedly visited Moscow, connecting with developers and government officials to explore joint venture opportunities. Mr.Trump was never able to successfully conclude any real estate deals in Russia. However, individual Russians have invested heavily in Trump properties, and following Mr.Trump’s bankruptcies in the 1990s he borrowed money from Russian sources. In 2008 his son Donald Trump Jr. said that Russia was an important source of money for the Trump businesses.

The Cro-Magnon Man: Not out of Africa
The Cro-Magnon were the first early modern humans (early Homo sapiens sapiens) of the European Upper Paleolithic. The earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are radiometrically dated to 35,000 years before present.
Cro-Magnons were robustly built and powerful. The body was generally heavy and solid with a strong musculature. The forehead was straight, with slight browridges and a tall forehead. Cro-Magnons were the first humans (genus Homo) to have a prominent chin. The brain capacity was about 1,600 cc (100 cubic inches), larger than the average for modern humans.The Cro-Magnons were long limbed and adult males would often reach 6 feet 3 inches (190 cm).
The name derives from the Abri de Cro-Magnon (French: rock shelter of Cro-Magnon, the big cave in Occitan) near the commune of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil in southwestern France, where the first specimen was found. Being the oldest known modern humans (Homo sapiens) in Europe, the Cro-Magnon were from the outset linked to the well-known Lascaux cave paintings and the Aurignacian culture whose remains were well known from southern France and Germany. As additional remains of early modern humans were discovered in archaeological sites from Western Europe and elsewhere, and dating techniques improved in the early 20th century, new finds were added to the taxonomic classification.
The term “Cro-Magnon” soon came to be used in a general sense to describe the oldest modern people in Europe. By the 1970s the term was used for any early modern human wherever found, as was the case with the far-flung Jebel Qafzeh remains in Israel and various Paleo-Indians in the Americas. However, analyses based on more current data concerning the migrations of early humans have contributed to a refined definition of this expression. Today, the term “Cro-Magnon” falls outside the usual naming conventions for early humans, though it remains an important term within the archaeological community as an identifier for the commensurate fossil remains in Europe and adjacent areas. Current scientific literature prefers the term “European Early Modern Humans” (or EEMH), instead of “Cro-Magnon”. The oldest definitely dated EEMH specimen with a modern and archaic (possibly Neanderthal) mosaic of traits is the Cro-Magnon Oase 1 find, which has been dated back to around 45,000 calendar years before present
Cro-Magnon were anatomically modern, straight limbed and tall compared to the contemporary Neanderthals. They are thought to have been 166 to 171 cm (about 5’5″ to 5’7″) tall. They also differ from modern day humans in having a more robust physique and a slightly larger cranial capacity. The Cro-Magnons had long, fairly low skulls, with a wide face, a prominent nose and moderate to no prognathism, similar to features seen in modern Europeans. A very distinct trait are the rectangular orbits.
Several works on genetics, blood types and cranial morphology indicate that the Basque people may be part descendents of the original Cro-Magnon population. A 2006 study of Basque DNA has shown a 1% incidence of mtDNA haplogroup U8a dated to the time of Cro-Magnon but noted that the low incidence of this ancestry and recent gene flow from neighbouring populations means the current Basque population cannot be considered reliable examples of the physical characteristics of Cro-Magnon.
Mitochondrial DNA analysis place the early European population as sister group to the Asian (“Mongol”) groups, dating the divergence to some 50 000 years ago. While the skin and hair colour of the Cro-Magnons can at best be guessed at, light skin is known to have evolved independently in both the Asian and European lines, and may have only appeared in the European line as recently as 6000 years ago suggesting Cro-Magnons could have been medium brown to tan-skinned. A small ivory bust of a man found at Dolní Věstonice and dated to 26 000 years indicate the Cro-Magnons had straight hair, though the somewhat later Venus of Brassempouy may show curly hair, or possibly braids.
Markku Niskanen (2002) of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oulu, Finland, claimed the “strong cheekbones” and “flaring zygomatic arches” considered to be evidence that “Finno-Ugrians” are “Mongoloid” are a trait they, in actuality, inherited from “Cro-Magnons”.
In Europe, the first modern humans (Cro-Magnons) would have run into the Neanderthals.
A 2003 sequencing on two Cro-Magnons, 23,000 and 24,000 years old Paglicci 52 and Paglicci 12, mitochondrial DNA, published by an Italo-Spanish research team led by David Caramelli, identified the mtDNA as Haplogroup N. Haplogroup N is found among modern populations of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, and represent the northern branch of the out-of-Africa migration of modern humans. Its descendant haplogroups are found among modern North African, Eurasian, Polynesian and Native American populations.
As we have noted, it was formerly thought by paleontologists that Neanderthal morphed into Cro-Magnon, and that Cro-Magnon was the progenitor of human beings as we know them today. However, aside from the problems of the Eve Hypothesis, there are serious problems with the assumptions about when modern human types actually appeared on Earth.
Even if we take the evolving scientific view of the present day, we find that Cro-Magnon man was something altogether different from other anatomically modern humans.
Over and over again we read in scientific studies that Cro-Magnon man was just an “anatomically modern human”.
The experts will say:
“The Cro-Magnons lived in Europe between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. They are virtually identical to modern man, being tall and muscular and slightly more robust than most modern humans.”
Notice how they slip in that “slightly more robust” bit.
The fact is, the Cro-Magnon man was, compared to the other “anatomically modern humans” around him, practically a superman. They were skilled hunters, toolmakers and artists famous for the cave art at places such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira. They had a high cranium, a broad and upright face, and cranial capacity “about the same as modern humans” (can we say larger?), but less than that of Neanderthals. The males were as tall as 6 feet.
They appeared in Europe in the upper Pleistocene, about 40,000 years ago and “their geographic origin is still unknown”.
Their skeletal remains show a “few small differences from modern humans”. Of course, the “out of Africa” theory advocates suggest that Cro-Magnon came from Sub Saharan Africa and a temperate climate and that, “they would eventually adapt to all extremes of heat and cold”. In this way, the “slight differences” between Cro-Magnon and other forms of anatomically modern humans can be explained away as an adaptation to cold.
But, as we will see, this idea doesn’t hold water.
Cro-Magnon’s tools are described as the Aurignacian technology, characterized by bone and antler tools, such as spear tips (the first) and harpoons. They also used animal traps, and bow and arrow. They invented shafts and handles for their knives, securing their blades with bitumen, a kind of tar, as long as 40 thousand years ago. Other improvements included the invention of the atlatl, a large bone or piece of wood with a hooked groove used for adding distance and speed to spears.
They also invented more sophisticated spear points, such as those that detach after striking and cause greater damage to prey.144 The Cro-Magnon type man was also the “originator” of such abstract concepts as “time”. They marked time by lunar phases, recording them with marks on a piece of bone, antler or stone. Some of these “calendars” contained a record of as many as 24 lunations.
What seems to be the truth of the matter is simply that the modern humans of the Levant were “different” from the Cro-Magnon types that “appeared” in Europe. Try as they would, there is simply was no way to prove that Cro-Magnon evolved in Africa or the Levant and then moved to Europe.
But then, how to explain what happened in any reasonable terms?
What the archaeological record seems to show is that in Europe, after millennia of almost no progress at all, even in the few areas where modern man has been found, suddenly human culture seems to take off like an explosion with the appearance of Cro-Magnon man.
Not only does culture explode, but also new ways of doing things, new styles and innovations that were utterly unknown in the period immediately preceding them, suddenly appear, only to disappear again like an outdated fad. From Spain to the Urals, sites list the developments of sewing needles, barbed projectiles, fishhooks, ropes, meat drying racks, temperature controlled hearths, and complex dwellings.
The most amazing part of all of it is the art. Art suddenly springs onto the landscape, fully formed, with no period of gradual development; no signs of childish attempts preceding it. A piece of ivory carved 32,000 years ago is as realistic as anything turned out by the most accomplished carver of the present day.
The Upper Paleolithic signals the most fundamental change in human behavior that the archaeological record may ever reveal. The only explanation for this tremendous change is that a new kind of human appeared on the earth stage.
When we consider the difficulties of such an event, in terms of “evolution”, we find that this presents a huge difficulty in our understanding.
First of all, we still have the problem of a 60,000-year time lag between the appearance of the sub-Saharan modern type man who was on the scene with no “improvements” in his technology for that length of time.
If Cro-Magnon evolved in Africa, why isn’t there a continuous record of incremental developments?
By the same reasoning, if he evolved only after crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, why isn’t there a continuous record of incremental developments?
The most effective and popular way that science deals with this crisis is to ignore it, to deny it, or to seek to twist the facts to fit the theory.

Cable television spying
When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.
Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes.
The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.
Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.
These web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.
‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’
One of the world’s biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside ‘connected’ white goods.
The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors – and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.
It’s a concept described as the ‘internet of things’.
Futurists think that one day ‘connected’ devices will tell the internet where they are and what they are doing at all times – and will be mapped by computers as precisely as Google Maps charts the physical landscape now.
The forced conversion to High Definition TV means we will only be able to receive a digital TV signal instead of an analog TV signal. This began in 2009. The surveillance specialists will then have the ability to manipulate that digital signal in any direction desired, for any purpose desired.
In addition, all of the newer wide-screen High Definition TVs found in retail outlets today have both tiny cameras and audio detection devices covertly installed within them so the NSA can both observe and listen to everything within it operatinal radius. The conversion boxes that have been offered with those free government coupons will have the same detection and surveillance devices.
And covert monitoring/tracking chips have been installed in all automobiles manufactured since 1990.
1. Don’t buy the newer HD TVs and don’t get their conversion box. Forget getting TV from broadcast or cable or satellite directly. One idea is to watch TV shows from your older computer with currently availabe TV reception hardware/software (newer computers probably have the surveillance devices installed) or send the video and audio from the computer into the AV jacks on your TV or VCR.
2. Watch TV shows from programs previously recorded on VHS tapes or from DVDs using your older TV and VCR equipment. This could become a cottage industry overnight if enough people become aware of the covert surveillance agenda riding along on the coattails of the forced conversion to High Definition digital television.
3. You can listen to only television audio from many inexpensive radios that include the TV audio bands from channel 2-13
In most cases, audio is good enough for me. I’m mainly looking for those few comedy offerings here and there that will provide a laugh. Most sitcoms are just awful: ‘boring’ or ‘banal’ would be complimentary descriptions.
There are also many “black box technologies” being developed out there that the public does not even know about yet.
Then there are the nation’s public schools, where young people are being conditioned to mindlessly march in lockstep to the pervasive authoritarian dictates of the surveillance state. It was here that surveillance cameras and metal detectors became the norm. It was here, too, that schools began reviewing social media websites in order to police student activity. With the advent of biometrics, school officials have gone to ever more creative lengths to monitor and track students’ activities and whereabouts, even for the most mundane things. For example, students in Pinellas County, Fla., are actually subjected to vein recognition scans when purchasing lunch at school.
Of course, the government is not the only looming threat to our privacy and bodily integrity. As with most invasive technologies, the groundwork to accustom the American people to the so-called benefits or conveniences of facial recognition is being laid quite effectively by corporations. For example, a new Facebook application, Facedeals, is being tested in Nashville, Tenn., which enables businesses to target potential customers with specialized offers. Yet another page borrowed from Stephen Spielberg’s 2002 Minority Report, the app works like this: businesses install cameras at their front doors which, using facial recognition technology, identify the faces of Facebook users and then send coupons to their smartphones based upon things they’ve “liked” in the past.
Making this noxious mix even more troubling is the significant margin for error and abuse that goes hand in hand with just about every government-instigated program, only more so when it comes to biometrics and identification databases. Take, for example, the Secure Communities initiative. Touted by the Department of Homeland Security as a way to crack down on illegal immigration, the program attempted to match the inmates in local jails against the federal immigration database. Unfortunately, it resulted in Americans being arrested for reporting domestic abuse and occasionally flagged US citizens for deportation. More recently, in July 2012, security researcher Javier Galbally demonstrated that iris scans can be spoofed, allowing a hacker to use synthetic images of an iris to trick an iris-scanning device into thinking it had received a positive match for a real iris over 50 percent of the time.
The writing is on the wall. With technology moving so fast and assaults on our freedoms, privacy and otherwise, occurring with increasing frequency, there is little hope of turning back this technological, corporate and governmental juggernaut. Even trying to avoid inclusion in the government’s massive identification database will be difficult. The hacktivist group Anonymous suggests wearing a transparent plastic mask, tilting one’s head at a 15 degree angle, wearing obscuring makeup, and wearing a hat outfitted with Infra-red LED lights as methods for confounding the cameras’ facial recognition technology.
Consider this, however: while the general public, largely law-abiding, continues to be pried on, spied on and treated like suspects by a government that spends an exorbitant amount of money on the security-intelligence complex (which takes in a sizeable chunk of the $80 billion yearly intelligence budget), the government’s attention and resources are effectively being diverted from the true threats that remain at large – namely, those terrorists abroad who seek, through overt action and implied threat, to continue the reign of terror in America begun in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 32

On the second of November, Lars’ mother was due to arrive in town and he drove down to pick her up. The house was kept very neat but there had been considerable last minute polishing and vacuuming in preparation for the maternal visitation. Chuck had planned for two dinners to cover the two days the mother was expected to stay and Gwen fixed up one of the guest rooms with clean linen and bedding, towels in the bathroom and a vase of paper flowers on the bureau.
She had always had the chore of keeping her parent’s trailer cleaned because her parents were either chronically absent or so stoned on their own merchandise that they would lie in joint stupors for days on end. All of her life she had lived in the hot, dry deserts of Southern California or Arizona and she did not miss them.
The new world was infinitely better than the old, far more secure and certainly far more comfortable.
The mother was an hour late and Lars had to wait in front of the post office for her with growing impatience. His mother was always late for everything and gave the general impression that she lived very comfortably in another world entirely.
When she did come, parking her inexpensive compact car in two parking spaces, Lars did not recognize her immediately. She had bleached her dark hair a very vibrant blonde and was wearing a tight pair of slacks and a short fur jacket.
This was because she had married a younger man after Lars’ father had died and since she felt so much younger, she saw no reason why she shouldn’t look the same way.
The general impression she gave was more amusing than convincing but her new husband, aware of the value of the farm she had inherited, constantly informed her that people he knew often mistook her for his daughter.
When Lars finally recognized her as she trotted in and out of the post office, looking nervously up and down the street, they had a reunion that even a casual bystander would have recognized as artificial in the extreme.
“Oh my, how handsome you look, dear! I’m sure you didn’t recognize me what with my new makeover. Carl keeps telling me how really young I look these days. And I do feel so young now. I mean we never went anywhere when your Dad was alive and last month Carl took me to Minneapolis for a whole weekend. We went to the tractor races and had a really wonderful time. And is this your new car?”
She pointed at the van.
“Yes, Ma, it’s my new van. You’re late again.”
“Oh, I know. I promised Carl I would drive carefully and I was afraid to take our new car over thirty. Of course people get so rude on the highway just because I am trying to drive carefully…”
Lars remembered that she always drove very slowly, usually right in the middle of a two-lane road.
She gave him a brief hug and he smelt her very strong perfume, a scent that reminded him of Pine Sol antiseptic soap but which Carl told her made her smell like a high school cheerleader.
She talked all the way to the Viking palace and paid no attention whatsoever to any landmarks. After promising the nice magazine man that she would tell him exactly where Lars lived, she was far more interested in telling Lars about her new husband.
“When Carl heard about your sweepstakes prize, Lars, he was really impressed! He wanted me to ask you if you might be interested in investing in a billiards place in Hibbing with him. Carl is so good with billiards! I mean we could all make so much money, Carl says. Do you think you might be interested?”
“What does Carl do?” Lars asked as he turned up the county road that led to the house.
“Oh this and that. He was the vice president of a trailer park moving company when I met him but he quit his job just to spend more time with me!”
Carl drove a truck that moved trailers from one park to another and had been fired for drinking on the job and attempting to seduce an eighty-seven year old widow with some money and no remaining common sense.
“Sounds interesting, Ma.”
“Oh please, don’t call me that. Your father always called me that and it makes me sound so old. Can’t you just call me Suzette instead?”
“I don’t think so. Who’s that?”
“Well…my name is really Susan but I think Suzette is much more youthful, don’t you think? Is that an elk over there?”
She had bad eyesight and refused to wear glasses because they didn’t look youthful enough. The elk was a windfall tree with bare branches.
Lars was beginning to wonder if he should not turn around and take his Suzette back to the post office. He didn’t like introducing her to his friends and was very much concerned that she might say unpleasant things about his childhood to them.
She peered shortsightedly up at the house.
“Oh my! Such a big house. Is this a hotel, Lars?”
“No, Ma, it’s my house. I live here with my friends. I told you that last week. Don’t you remember?”
“I was thinking about my square dancing lessons, dear. It’s so impressive!”
Both Chuck and Gwen were waiting for them in the entrance hall, sitting on a settee in front of the carved stone fireplace and watching the flames destroy a stack of oak logs.
Chuck wore a blue blazer, gray slacks and a blue broadcloth shirt and Gwen had on a beige cocktail dress that complimented her upswept auburn hair.
They could have both been naked for all that the mother could see of them.
She tried to shake hands with Gwen and missed her by several feet. Chuck noticed the pained look on Lars’ face and tried to make the best of what was obviously an embarrassing occasion for him.
“What a pleasure to meet you Mrs….”
“Cobb. Suzette Cobb. I’m French you know…did you know that? My name was Dufarge before I married Lars father. Now it’s Cobb. That’s English. Lars father was Norwegian and his father came over from somewhere after the war. His grandfather had a farm outside of Hibbing…”
And she went on for some time before she ran out of breath and Chuck asked her if she wanted a drink. Of course if she behaved this way when sober, God knows what she would be like with some alcohol in her but at least, it might slow her down.
“Yes, dear, a little drinkie might be just right. Give me a shot of Jack Daniels straight up.”
He had to search for the whiskey in the kitchen and it wasn’t Jack Daniels.
She downed the drink in one swallow and said,
“Such a small glass! Could I have another one, dear?”
And a second drink vanished in seconds.
“I hate these trips. I mean the roads are so full of rude drivers if you know what I mean.”
She had a small suitcase, which Chuck put into the guest room while Gwen was explaining to Suzette where the lavatory was.
Lars was looking very unhappy when Chuck got back.
“Chuck, I’m really sorry about this but Ma is not…not…”
“Ma is just fine, Lars. People who live alone in the country get that way sometimes. It’s no reflection on you at all, buddy.”
And he broke with custom by putting his arm around Lars’ shoulders and walking him into the living room.
Shortsighted as she was, Lars’ mother was impressed with the house.
“Such a beautiful place Ozzie….”
Lars made a terrible grimace.
“Ma, don’t call me that! I told you a hundred times I don’t like to be called that. Or Osvald either. My name is Lars.”
“No it isn’t dear but if you call me Suzette, I’ll call you Lars. Is that a deal?”
“Yes Ma…Suzette.”
They were sitting in the living room and the faint smells of the Sauerbraten penetrated the room and gave promise of things to come.
Chuck looked out the tall windows and noticed the heavy clouds to the north.
Pray God it doesn’t snow and we get trapped with this old parrot for a week.
“I’m so glad you all invited me here. Is this Lars’ house? My, Carl, my new husband, would be so impressed. He’s going to open a billiard place in Hibbing, you know. Do you play?” she asked Chuck who was struggling to keep a straight face.
“Why no, ma’am, I don’t. And yes, this is Lars’ house and I’m sure he’s very proud of it. My wife and I are the caretakers.”
Gwen put her hand over her mouth and rushed into the kitchen leaving Chuck to deal with Suzette.
“Poor Lars father died three years ago. It’s really too bad they never got along too well. Oz… Lars…was in California when he died. A cow crushed him to death in the barn. I warned him about that cow but he wouldn’t listen to me. He never did and now he’s dead. Lars never came back for the funeral but I guess he would rather have stayed in California and run his jewelry shop.”
Lars was getting very red in the face. God knew what this lunatic woman would say next and there were many choices with which to further humiliate him. It had not been a good idea to bring her here but he thought that she might have calmed down since his father’s death. Obviously, she had not and he was wondering how to get rid of her before she further destroyed him in front of his friends. Fortunately, Gwen was out of the room and Chuck winked at him several times. He decided that he loved Chuck for his understanding, in fact he decided that he loved him for himself.
“Mrs. Cobb, wouldn’t you like to have a tour of the house? I’m going to see to the dinner and Lars can show you around.”
And off they went and Chuck went into the kitchen.
Gwen had been laughing and had now regained some composure.
“My God, Chuck, poor Lars. My people were bad but I would have killed her if she was my mother. Does she have to stay for two days? If we put her outside, maybe the wolves would get her.”
“Dear, there are no wolves around here. At least I don’t think there are, and anyway, a self-respecting wolf wouldn’t touch her. A horny baboon maybe but not a wolf. Poor Lars. No wonder he has his little problems. Can’t you just see him as a teenager trying to get it on with some neighbor girl in the barn and either the cow tramples her to death or the mother drives her mad like something in the last act of ‘Lucia’?”
“More culture is needed, dear. An opera. Never mind. Let’s be good housekeepers and serve our masters their dinner.”
“Can I wear one of those black dresses with the white apron?”
“No, the old witch is as blind as a bat and you could walk around nude with a rose stuffed up your beaver and she wouldn’t notice.”
Mrs. Cobb kept up a continuous stream of mindless conversation throughout the entire meal and no one paid the slightest attention to her. No one cared about her forthcoming facelift or other enhancers and certainly no one was interested in Carl and his plans for a billiard establishment in Hibbing. Gwen went out of her way to be very nice to Lars while Chuck spent his time trying to prevent Suzette from further embarrassing her son.
Every time she started off on some cute, youthful indiscretion on the part of Lars, Chuck would draw her attention to an item of food or ask her opinion of the wine being served.
Suzette did not like wine because it was harder to get high on it but Chuck refused to serve whiskey at the table so she had do with a good Burgundy instead.
When they had finally suffered through the last course, Suzette decided to retire to her room to freshen up and got Gwen to go with her.
While Mrs. Cobb was packing pancake makeup into the intensive network of wrinkles around her eyes, she began a mindless monologue about her son’s failings.
Since Lars was not within earshot, Gwen had to listen to the woman, who was probably long overdue for euthanasia.
“Oh, little Ozzie made so much trouble for Henry. That’s my late husband. Ozzie was always doing things that got Henry so mad. I’m sure if the cow hadn’t crushed him, Henry would have had a heart attack over Ozzie and his little games. You know once, when Ozzie was in high school, Mr. Dobreff, his gym teacher, took a shine to him and began to have him come over to his apartment. Well, you know what happened then, don’t you? They had a sexual relationship dear, right in the apartment! And not once but every weekend. But then Mr. Dobreff had other boys in there and one of them told and the police came. Henry said when he found out that Ozzie was one of the boys going over there that he was a Goddam fairy and hit him with a piece of kindling wood. It made such a bump on Ozzie’s head too. I had to put cold compresses on it for two days. And then there was the trouble with little Elaine Sugafus. She lived right down the road and one day Henry went out into the barn and found both of them stark naked! That time when Henry tried to hit him, Ozzie grabbed Henry and dragged him out into the yard and actually threw him into the manure pit! Oh, and wasn’t Henry mad! And the Sugafus girl was only fifteen and Ozzie was eighteen so Henry told him to get out and never come back. Of course we told the Sugafus family what was going on and they put Elaine on restrictions for two years! Oh, Ozzie was a real handful when he was a boy, believe me

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

Two Top Cold War Spies Made The Same Troubling Prediction About Edward Snowden
Business Insider
Two of the world’s top spies during the Cold War, one American and one Russian, recently detailed the probable relationship between Russia’s post-Soviet security services (FSB) and NSA leaker Edward Snowden in similarly disconcerting ways.
Jack Devine, a former director of CIA operations, and ex-KGB General Olig Kalugin believe that if the 30-year-old was not a Russian asset when he stole hundreds of thousands of NSA documents, he is now.
“It would be most unusual if he were allowed to remain there as a guest for free,” Devine said. “I don’t think he was a controlled asset, but I think at the end of the day he will be.”
Kalugin, who was the youngest KGB general in history, was blunt: “These days, the Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them,” the 80-year-old told VentureBeat. “He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”
Snowden accessed 1.7 million documents before flying to Hong Kong and giving an estimated 2oo,000 to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in early June. On June 23, following the advice of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Snowden flew to Moscow.
The former CIA technician and Greenwald have both said that Snowden had more documents, but it’s unclear when he gave up access to them. In any case, the former systems administrator’s extensive knowledge of NSA systems and vetting processes make him very valuable to Russia.
Kalugin went as far as to say that he believed Putin got everything Snowden accessed, which top U.S. officials say includes military documents: “Whatever he had access to in his former days at NSA, I believe he shared all of it with the Russians, and they are very grateful.”
Devine likened Snowden’s personality to Aldrich Ames — a American who spent years giving secrets to Russia and is now serving life in prison — and said that the Russians would know what to do with him.
“The Russians have been doing espionage for a long time,” Devine said. “They understand the psychology of discontented people.”
Greenwald defends Snowden’s path
Interestingly, Greenwald seems OK with this situation.
Here’s what he recently told L’Espresso (translated from Italian):
“WikiLeaks was crucial in preventing Snowden from ending up in a U.S. maximum security prison,” Greenwald said. “I was and am one of the greatest defenders of WikiLeaks … I do not think that there would have been any other group or person who would do what WikiLeaks and [Assange advisor] Sarah Harrison did for Edward Snowden at that moment: He was the world’s most wanted, sought in the viewfinder of the most powerful government on the globe.”
Noting his potential bias, Greenwald told The Sunday Times that when he first met Snowden in Hong Kong, “I wanted him to be this really presentable reliable figure so badly I was a little bit concerned my desires would influence or muddy my perceptions.”
Greenwald has been promoting the biggest leak yet, which he is saving as a sort of grand finale, and says that Snowden’s legacy will be “shaped in large part” by this “finishing piece.”
It’s becoming clear that Snowden’s time in Russia will also become a significant part of his legacy.

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