TBR News December 22, 2015

Dec 22 2015

The Voice of the White House

Washiington, D.C. December 2, 2015: “One of my friends has had a great deal of trouble over financial matters.

He had a very good job and ran up some fairly large debts, debts his salary could easily cover. Then, without notice, he got the sack and then followed the salivating and crooked debt collectors.

As his previous position called for considerable knowledge of computer programming, he got one of his former collegues to design a vengance program.

This is a deadly program that, when activated, will obliterate an enemie’s harddrive, wiping it out and destroying all the programs on it, to include saved files.

In short, his system is totally destroyed and cannot be recovered.

How does he use this against the crooks?

By answering their demands for money and putting the virus into his messages.

This message, deadly as a cobra, is now into their system, is totally undetectable and, incidentially, gets planted in any other system they interface with.

And after he lets an amount of time go by, he contacts all of his voracious enemies with some kind of an innocent message that contains the trigger for the virus.

And after, let us say, eight days, five hours and ten minutes, the virus is triggered and the enemy computer system is totally and completely obliterated.

He tells me he has not activated the trigger yet because he is waiting for the enemy computers to communicate with other enemy computers and spread the happiness. 

And he also has mortgage problems.

It turns out that no one knows who actually owns the mortgage on his house.


Because the crooked mortgage company, in this case Countrywide, sold his mortgage, and millions of others, to large banks who in turn lumped these together into a sausage-like “financial packlage” and sold slices of this, mostly overseas to foreign investors. When our precious and crooked government found out about this, they instituted a cover-up program under the heading of MERS.

Check and see if your mortgage has ‘MERS’ connected with it.

Easy to do because in the county records office where you live, all of this information is available to the public.

If you find it, and you have MERS, you can pay off the mortgage but never get title to your home.

At present, conservative estimates say tht 76 million Americans have MERS on their mortgages.

A wonderful Christmas season bit of happiness!”


Countrywide: Subprime Kings

Many factors combined to create the current housing crisis in the United States.

Low interest rates after the 2001 stock market crash spurred the housing boom. Housing prices skyrocketed above historic trendlines. People were duped into thinking prices would rise forever, but it was inevitable that the housing bubble would burst, and houses would suddenly be worth a lot less. With house prices falling, lots of people are now finding they owe more than their house is worth. This problem is exacerbated by predatory loan arrangements that have left millions facing suddenly rising mortgage payments.

A lot of people and corporations deserve blame for this state of affairs.

Instead of warning consumers about the housing bubble – which would have gone a long way to counter the excessive price run-ups – then-Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan denied a bubble was occurring.

Wall Street firms created exotic investment instruments that made possible the purchase and trading of large numbers of mortgages. This created conditions so that banks and initial lenders took less care in issuing mortgages – since they wouldn’t be responsible for mortgages gone bad. The Wall Street firms not only sold these instruments to duped investors, they took on major liabilities on their own – even though it was obvious the housing bubble would have to burst.

Rating agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, which evaluated the riskiness of these new mortgage investment instruments, failed utterly. The housing bubble meant mortgage investments were sure to lose money, but the ratings agencies gave them top ratings anyway. Along with the “innovation” of the Wall Street firms, the ratings agencies helped maintain a market that dramatically exacerbated, and to a considerable degree may have created, the housing bubble.

Financial bubbles create an incentive for criminal and shady activity. Just like the stock bubble of the late 1990s created the climate for Enron and dozens of other companies to cook their books, the housing bubble created incentives for predatory lenders to exploit consumers.

The predatory lenders offered low rates, at least at first. Rates would rise later, but the lenders said that – because home prices were rising so fast and would continue to do so – borrowers could always refinance with a new loan.

The biggest of the predatory lenders was Countrywide, a mortgage lender acquired by Bank of America in January 2008. The company and its CEO, Angelo Mozilo, made a bundle, while setting up thousands and thousands of families for financial ruin.

“Over the past few years,” says Martin Eakes of the Center for Responsible Lending, “by steering millions of people into bad loans, Countrywide has been the largest rogue mortgage lender in the country. According to Countrywide’s own data, more than 80 percent of its exotic adjustable-rate loans were made to borrowers that do not meet current banking standards. Countrywide knew that these homeowners would not be able to make their monthly loan payments after dramatic payment increases became effective.”

The Center for Responsible Lending has compiled a dossier on Countrywide’s irresponsible practices, presented in a report, “Unfair and Unsafe.” Its devastating report, based on customer complaints, lawsuits, regulatory actions, news accounts, government reports and company documents, shows how Countrywide engaged in rampant wrongdoing:

Predatory lending.

“Lawsuits filed around the country have accused Countrywide of preying on borrowers through a variety of unfair and fraudulent tactics that have siphoned equity out of their homes and pushed many into foreclosure,” notes “Unfair and Unsafe.” “Borrowers and regulators have accused the company of: steering borrowers with good credit into higher-cost ‘subprime’ loans; gouging minority borrowers with discriminatory rates and fees; working in cahoots with mortgage brokers who use bait-and-switch tactics to land borrowers into loans they can’t afford; targeting elderly and non-English-speaking borrowers for abusive loans; and packing loans with inflated and unauthorized fees.” 

In one lawsuit, Albert Zacholl, a 74-year-old man living in Southern California, alleges that Countrywide and a pair of mortgage brokers “cold-called and aggressively baited” him. They promised him $30,000 cash, a mortgage that would replace his previous mortgage (which was leaving him owing more each month) and a monthly payment that would not exceed $1,700. Zacholl told the brokers that his income consisted of a pension of $350 a month and Social Security payments of $958, and that with help from his son, he could afford a mortgage up to $1,700. According to the lawsuit, the broker falsified his loan application by putting down an income of $7,000 a month, and then arranged for a high-interest mortgage that required him to pay more than $3,000 a month (and failed to deliver the $30,000 cash payment). The motivation for the scam, according to the lawsuit, was to collect $13,000 in fees. 

In court papers, the Center for Responsible Lending reports, Countrywide responded that Zacholl “consented to the terms of the transaction” and that any problems were the result of his own “negligence and carelessness.”

Dangerous products.

Countrywide has been a leader in pushing unsound mortgage terms. These include “exploding” subprime adjustable rate mortgages – with reasonable interest rates in the first year that jump in subsequent years, often by as much as 30 percent to 50 percent.

Conflicts of interest.

“Countrywide has created a corporate structure desied to allow its subsidiaries to work hand-in-hand in squeezing borrowers with excessive fees and penalties,” according to “Unfair and Unsafe.” Countrywide affiliates handle appraisals, credit reports, flood certifications and other documentation for new loans; provide “force-placing” insurance for borrowers whose homeowners insurance has lapsed; and serve as a foreclosure trustee. The interconnections enable Countrywide to charge high fees, and deny borrowers the benefit of third parties’ independent judgment and independent interests.

Broken promises on loan modifications.

The company has a history of failing to fully live up to its promises to help borrowers keep their homes by modifying onerous loans, according to “Unfair and Unsafe.” The report cites a Fall 2007 Credit Suisse review that ranked Countrywide as one of the mortgage lenders least willing to adjust loan terms.

Countrywide says it is committed to working out fair arrangements to keep homeowners in their houses. In December, it entered into an arrangement with the community group ACORN designed to help subprime borrowers.

“During the first 11 months of 2007, Countrywide helped more than 69,000 customers retain their homes through solutions such as loan modifications, long-term repayment plans, special forbearance and other options,” says Steve Bailey, a Countrywide senior managing director of loan administration. “Regardless of the reason for the payment difficulties, Countrywide wants to try to find reasonable solutions for our borrowers.”

Abusive loan servicing.

Borrowers claim that Countrywide has engaged in sloppy and  fraudulent loan servicing that has produced unwarranted fees and foreclosures.

With the collapse of the housing market in 2007, Countrywide’s fortunes turned, its mortgage-backed securities plummeted in value, and the company seemed on the edge of bankruptcy. In January 2008, Bank of America agreed to buy the company.

Do not weep for company co-founder and long-time CEO Angelo Mozilo, however. Mozilo grabbed compensation worth $185 million from 2002-2006, according to an analysis by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Between November 2006 and December 2007, Mozilo sold $150 million in stock – effectively jumping from a sinking corporate ship for which he was supposedly at the helm, or at least on the captain’s deck.

“Particularly, the discrepancy between Mr. Mozilo’s compensation and Countrywide’s performance is striking,” concludes the Oversight Committee analysis. “In 2007, Countrywide announced a $1.2 billion loss in the third quarter and an additional loss of $422 million in the fourth quarter.” By the end of the year, the company’s stock fell 80 percent from its February peak. “During the same period, Mr. Mozilo was paid $1.9 million in salary, received $20 million in stock awards contingent upon performance, and sold $121 million in stock.”

Mozilo retired as CEO in 2006, remaining as company chair and an employee. The House Oversight Committee analysis shows that his compensation contract, taking effect in 2007, was outrageous, and based in part on recommendations from a compensation consultant loyal to Mozilo rather than Countrywide.

Even so, Mozilo was bitter that the company did not give him everything he wanted. In an e-mail message turned up by the Oversight Committee, Mozilo wrote to the compensation consultant:

“I appreciate your input but at this stage in my life at Countrywide this process is no longer about money but more about respect and acknowledgement of my accomplishments. … Boards have been placed under enormous pressure by the left wing anti business press and the envious leaders of unions and other so called ‘CEO Comp Watchers’ and therefore Boards are being forced to protect themselves irrespective of the potential negative long term impact on public companies. I strongly believe that a decade from now there will be a recognition that entrepreneurship has been driven out of the public sector resulting in underperforming companies and a willingness on the part of Boards to pay for performance.”

With attention focused on the discrepancy between Mozilo’s compensation package and Countrywide’s well-being, he waived various payments – totaling $37.5 million – he could have received once Bank of America finalizes its takeover.

In March 2008, Mozilo appeared before the House Oversight Committee to explain his compensation.

“Countrywide’s board,” he testified, “has aligned the interests of our top executives, including me, with shareholders by making our compensation primarily performance-based – namely, tied to earnings per share and share price appreciation. Since 1982 through early 2007, Countrywide’s stock appreciated over 23,000 percent, reaching a peak market value of over $25 billion from a starting value of zero. As a result, over recent years, I have received substantial income from bonuses under a formula that was approved by our shareholders on at least two occasions.”

He also received substantial stock options, explaining, these were “options that required the price of the stock to rise above the option price before any income could be realized, thereby aligning me squarely with our shareholders.” In anticipation of his retirement, he testified, he put in place a plan to cash in some stock options earned in earlier years. His sales were thus planned in advance of Countrywide’s downturn. But he continues to hold substantial shares in Countrywide – shares worth much less than before the company’s stock collapsed.

Mozilo testified that he is “very proud of the home ownership opportunities that Countrywide has provided for over 20 million families,” while acknowledging the hardship faced by homeowners and Countrywide employees and shareholders.

“In my 55 years in the industry,” he said, “this by far is the worst housing crisis I have ever seen, combined with an unprecedented collapse of the credit and liquidity markets.”

“The problem we face,” he said, “is the deterioration of the value of homes. As values were going up, we had no problem. We had no delinquencies and no foreclosures, because people had options, because people run into three things in their lives generally – loss of job, loss of marriage, loss of health. When that happens and they own a home, and it impacts their income, they generally have a way out – sell the house, refinance, do something.

“That equity that they have in their homes has been virtually wiped out. And that’s what’s exacerbating this whole foreclosure problem.”

Wasn’t that problem entirely foreseeable? Didn’t Countrywide’s lending policies – which generously might be called aggressive – depend on constantly rising housing values in what was obviously a bubble market?

Sued Over Old Debt, and Blocked From Suing Back

December 22, 2015

by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corker 

New York Times

Clifford Cain Jr., a retired electrician in Baltimore, was used to living on a tight budget, carefully apportioning his Social Security and pension benefits to cover his rent and medication for multiple sclerosis.

So Mr. Cain was puzzled when he suddenly could not make ends meet. Months later, he discovered why: A debt collector had garnished his bank account after suing him for about $4,500 the company said he owed on an old debt.

Mr. Cain said he never knew the lawsuit had been brought against him until the money was gone. Neither did other Baltimore residents who were among the hundreds of people sued by the collector, Midland Funding, a unit of the Encore Capital Group, in Maryland State Court. Some of them said they did not even owe any money, or their debt had long expired and was not legally collectible, according to a review of court records.

In any case, the Encore subsidiary was not licensed to collect debt in Maryland.

Yet when Mr. Cain brought a class action in 2013 against Midland Funding, the company successfully fought to have the lawsuit dismissed.

If the plaintiffs wanted to try to recover their money, they would have to do so in private arbitration. And because class actions are banned in arbitration, Mr. Cain and the others would have to fight the unit of Encore — one of the largest debt buyers in the country with vast legal resources — one by one.

I can’t for the life of me understand how this is allowed to happen,” said Mr. Cain, who could not afford to pursue his case alone in arbitration.

In short, Encore and rival debt buyers are using the courts to sue consumers and collect debt, then preventing those same consumers from using the courts to challenge the companies’ tactics. Consumer lawyers said this strategy was the legal equivalent of debt collectors having their cake and eating it, too.

The use of arbitration by the companies is the latest frontier in a legal strategy orchestrated by corporations in recent years. By inserting arbitration clauses into the fine print of consumer contracts, they have found a way to block access to the courts and ban class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way to bring a case against a deep-pocketed corporation.

Their strategy traces to a pair of Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and 2013 that enshrined the use of class-action bans in arbitration clauses.

A large portion of the paper losses is from debt issued as part of a $5.5 billion leveraged buyout led by Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.

The result, The New York Times found in an investigation last month, is that banks, car dealers, online retailers, cellphone service providers and scores of other companies have insulated themselves from challenges to illegal or deceptive business practices. Once a class action was dismantled, court and arbitration records showed, few if any of the individual plaintiffs pursued arbitration

In the last few years, debt collectors have pushed the parameters of that legal strategy into audacious new territory. Perhaps more than any other industry, debt collectors use the courts while invoking arbitration to deny court access to others. The companies file lawsuits seeking to force borrowers to pay debts. Because borrowers seldom show up to challenge the lawsuits, the collectors win almost every case, transforming debts that banks had given up on into big profits.

Other industries have tested the boundaries of arbitration in different ways. Auto dealers, for example, successfully lobbied Congress in 2000 to make sure that they could go to court when they had a dispute with their manufacturers. Today, though, dealers regularly require their customers to go to arbitration, while they can still sue manufacturers in court.

In the case of debt collectors, the arbitration clauses that companies are invoking are often in contracts that borrowers presumably agreed to with their original lenders — not with the debt collector. Additionally, debt collectors often cannot produce a copy of the agreement in court, according to records and interviews.

Consumer advocates argue it is not fair for debt collectors to enforce an arbitration agreement a consumer signed with a different company. Debt collectors counter that they are buying loan contracts, and the terms come with them.

Because the tactic is still in its early stages, there is no data tracking the cases. But The Times, examining thousands of state and federal court records, and interviewing hundreds of lawyers, plaintiffs, industry consultants and judges, found that debt collection companies have already used the strategy to great success.

In the cases that The Times examined, judges routinely sided with debt collectors on forcing the disputes into arbitration.

In Mr. Cain’s case, Midland Funding, the unit of Encore Capital, persevered despite originally lacking a copy of a Citibank arbitration agreement they said he signed in 2003. Instead, the debt collector presented as evidence a Citibank contract that one of Encore’s lawyers signed when he opened an account.

I n Mississippi, Midland Funding won a court judgment to compel Wanda Thompson to pay more than $4,700 on a debt that was too old to be collected under state law, court records show.

When Ms. Thompson filed a class-action suit on behalf of other state residents, Encore invoked an arbitration clause to have the lawsuit dismissed. Ms. Thompson’s lawyers argued that the company had clearly chosen court over arbitration when it sued her to collect the debt. By going to court, the lawyers said, Encore waived its right to compel arbitration.

Unpersuaded, the judge ruled that Encore’s lawsuit to collect the debt was separate from Ms. Thompson’s case accusing the company of violating the law.

It’s beyond hypocritical that the companies can use arbitration to avoid being held accountable in court, all the while using the courts to collect from consumers,” said Peter A. Holland, a lawyer who ran the Consumer Protection Clinic at the University of Maryland’s law school.

In a statement, Greg Call, Encore’s general counsel, said the company “has a longstanding commitment to operating ethically and treating consumers with respect.” Responding to the specific cases, he said the judges “carefully reviewed the parties’ evidence regarding whether the creditor and consumer had agreed to arbitrate and whether arbitration was the appropriate forum to resolve a dispute, and followed federal law and Supreme Court direction when ordering the matter to arbitration.”

In the consumer credit ecosystem, debt collectors are at the bottom rung. They buy huge bundles of delinquent debt from banks for pennies on the dollar.

The Federal Trade Commission, which examined 5,000 portfolios of debt purchased by the nation’s largest debt buyers, found that only 12 percent included documentation

The debt collectors do not just use the courts to collect on the money, they flood them. In 2014, the industry filed roughly 20,000 lawsuits in Maryland and more than 67,000 in New York, according to court records.

Philip S. Straniere, a civil court judge in Staten Island, called some of the cases that crossed his desk “garbage.” Some debt collectors, Judge Straniere said, have sought to recoup payments from the wrong person.

Little of that matters, because many defendants do not show up to defend themselves. Some never read nondescript legal notices informing them of the lawsuits. Others who do are too intimidated or ill-equipped to go to court.

Once it begins, the litigation machine is virtually impossible to stop. When defendants are absent, judges have little choice but to find in favor of the debt collectors, according to interviews. Industry consultants estimated that collectors win 95 percent of the lawsuits.

Their practices have attracted state and federal scrutiny. In September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Encore and a second debt collector, the PRA Group, for trying “to collect on debts they should have known were inaccurate.”

Mr. Call, Encore’s general counsel, said that litigation was “always a last resort” and was used only to collect on less than 5 percent of the debts the company owned. He added that, like the C.F.P.B., Encore wanted “to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.” A spokeswoman for the PRA Group declined to comment.

But even when borrowers bring class-action lawsuits over practices that regulators have determined to be illegal, the cases are being thrown out because of arbitration clauses, court records show. In Maryland, Midland Funding reached a $1.2 million settlement with the state’s financial regulator, which found that the company had “engaged in unlicensed collection,” the very issue that Mr. Cain could not bring to court. In Kansas, borrowers did not fare any better when they sued Midland Funding, accusing the company of not being properly licensed. Mr. Call said Midland was “appropriately licensed.” A judge granted the company’s motion to compel arbitration.

Once their class actions were dismissed, few plaintiffs pursued arbitration, data analyzed by The Times shows. Encore and its subsidiaries faced 38 arbitration cases from 2010 to 2015 and the PRA Group faced 15, the data shows.

Fred W. Schwinn, a consumer lawyer in San Jose, Calif., thought he had a winner when he brought a class action on behalf of a woman who said she had been improperly sued to collect an old credit card debt. Predictably, Mr. Schwinn said, the debt collector, a unit of SquareTwo Financial, asked the judge to order the case into arbitration.

But Mr. Schwinn discovered an agreement that the SquareTwo unit had entered with the credit card company from which it bought his client’s debt. The agreement stated that the debt collector “shall not use arbitration for collection of debt.”

A judge in the case still ruled in the debt collector’s favor, saying the agreement did not prevent the SquareTwo unit from using arbitration clauses when facing lawsuits from consumers, as opposed to when it was trying to collect those consumers’ debts.

Such decisions are leading lawyers to believe they may have found, in the words of one law firm, the “silver bullet” for killing off legal challenges. In an industry podcast, two lawyers discussed the benefits of using arbitration to quash consumers’ lawsuits. The tactic, they said, is emerging at an opportune time, given that debt collectors are being sued for violating federal law.

The beauty of the clauses, the lawyers said, is that often the lawsuit “simply goes away.”

Conversaions with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.



Conversation No. 77

Date: Tuesday, March 4, 1997

Commenced: 2:30 PM CST

Concluded:3:10 PM CST


GD: It’s a little late in the day., Robert. Am I OK on my timing?

RTC: Not a problem, Gregory. Lunch is over long ago. I did hear from Bill last night about that material on Hillary.

GD: What about it?

RTC: Oh, it’s all true but it will never get into the papers. Those things never do.

GD: Some of it, the stuff about Bob Treuhaft in Oakland, did. In the Chronicle.

RTC: A fluke. What was your source? GD: Military collector who was also in the California State Police office in Sacramento. He copied the file and sent it to me.

RTC: Well, they aren’t up for reelection so there’s no point in beating a dead horse. But not a surprise.

GD: I suppose with her background, when they get out of office, the pair of them, she can become the mayor of Skokie or if we have another Democrat president, the ambassador to Israel.

RTC: Sad to say but they’re everywhere you look these days. Back in the reign of Franklin I, they filled the ranks of State and stood right next to the Oval Office. Of course, they pilfered all our secrets and sent them off to Russia. That was their new homeland, after all, and Stalin loved them. Or so they thought. When Bill and I were working on our KGB book, I discovered that Joe hated them and when they managed to kill him with rat poison, was planning a super pogrom in Moscow. No, the regular Russians loathe and fear them and now that Putin is coming up, they are fleeing to Israel like fleas leaving a dead dog. The problem with this, as we know, is that the ranks of Israeli intelligence are now full of fresh blood what with the refusedniks pouring into the country and believe me, Gregory, any scrap of secret information, every secret code, that we mistakenly give to the Israeli government will end up in Moscow about ten seconds after they get it. Multiply Pollard about a hundred times and you’ll see the real picture. I told Jim dozens of times to keep away from the Hebrews but Jim never listened. He was hip deep with the mob but they weren’t trying to sell the dreaded white man down the river like the Jews do. My God, I wouldn’t let them into my department because I know what they’re like but they’ve gotten in the door elsewhere.  Polland was only the tip of a huge iceberg.

GD: None of that comes as a great surprise. They managed to start the Second World War and I agree that they pumped Stalin full of state secrets and you know my connection with the Pollard business. In any other country, they would have taken the little shit out for a very long walk on a very short pier. Well, maybe some patriotic con will get an early parole by sticking a file into his liver.

RTC: One hopes, one hopes. But in a way, I feel sorry for Russia. That was quite a game after Yeltsin got in, let me tell you. Old Boris the drunk was ours, bought and paid for. The drill was for Boris to privatize the Russian natural resources and let our people…our oil people really…get their hands on everything. How did we do it? We located a bunch of street thugs. Drug dealers, whoremongers, porn merchants and especially extortionists, set them up as businessmen, get them funded, let them buy up all  the oil, steel and aluminum former Soviet corporations and then sell the stock off to our companies. The thing is, all of these thugs and murderers, because that’s what they are, are Jewish street bandits, all of them. And they got their co-religionists in the IMF and the World Bank to help them with capital both from us and from Israel. And they did buy up everything at rigged auctions and they did make deals with the big US oil people. You fancy yourself a newspaperman , Gregory? I’ll give you an inside story but I beg you not to use me as a source….

GD: Never…

RTC: An Israeli owns the Bank of New York and they are using it to launder billions in stolen Jewish Mafia money. I mean money from Russia. Billions. And our people have been helping the Hebes set up Swiss bank accounts. Before that, they used to keep the money under the bed in bags but now they can buy expensive suits, that the tasteless shits wear with tennis shoes, and strut their stuff in international society. I can give you some inside information on this and you could expose some of it. It needs to be done but you’ll never see a word of it in the New York Times or the Post. Why not? Because these organs of truth and light are owned by Jews and Jews never go after their own kind.

GD: I could go to Carto. He would love this.

RTC: Any old port in a story, Gregory. I have names. One of my friends down there gave them to me.

GD: I have good connections with the Swiss. If I could get the names, perhaps I could get the account information.  The Bank of New York? RTC: Yes. One of the oldest banks in this country. Hamilton founded it. The Jews have it now and more money goes in and out of it than the US Treasury. Kimmel knows about this so do not ever tell him about this conversation or that you are working on this. I can send you my entire file on all of this and you can take it from there. And if you have friends in Switzerland, be sure to look for the black accounts, not the white ones. These greaseballs always have a white account with a few thousand in it and a black one with billions. That way, if an official request is made, say be us, the Swiss can put up a show of resistance and then break down and give us the smaller one. The black accounts.

GD: Sounds good.

RTC: And I can give you the name of at least two Russian intelligence people here who are disguised as newspaper men and you can contact either or both and pass on the information. They would love you, Gregory, and it might lead you to make more friends. You certainly wouldn’t have any in the Jewish camp.

That moron Bronfman, the booze king, has delusions of grandeur, and thinks he is going to push the Swiss around so you can kick him in his flabby ass for me. My God, I hate to deal with these swine, believe me. The biggest pack of thieves, murderers and back stabbers I have ever run into and believe me, I have seen them all. And there’re a lot more bits and pieces I can pull together for you but again, mention none of this to Kimmel and if he ever starts to talk about this, say nothing. Understood?

GD: Is the FBI involved?

RTC: Not that I know but they all suck on the same tit so be careful.

GD: What do you see as the end result of outing them? RTC: Hopefully, enough publicity to slow them down in this country. They own the press and the banks and dig in like maggots in a side of beef so if the public gets wind of the enormity of their thefts, they can watch them. Ah, but in Russia, the Putin people will love you. Putin, as I understand it, wants to stop this drain on Russian oil and kick the Jews out of power. And, of course, like a good KGB officer that he is, kick the US in the nuts. But, I think uprooting the Hebrews and outing them outweighs a boot in the testes.

GD: Collateral damage.

RTC: How astute, Gregory. Let me tell you, my boy, the whole world would be far better off if some rag head set off an atomic bomb in downtown Tel Aviv during Passover. I know that sounds terrible but from my years of experience, that game would well be worth the candle. I tell you, if we don’t put a stop to their burrowing,  treachery and high treason, those filthy Yids will drag us into a nasty war with the Arabs. I mean it. None of them care a fig about this country. Everything for that miserable habitat of warped trolls and nothing for anyone else. No wonder they have been hated and persecuted for thousands of years. The Romans had a wonderful chance to advance civilization by killing them all off but they missed their opportunity.

GD: The tsars should have chased them all into Siberia and we would have been spared Bolshevism.

RTC: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And now they want to kill off all the Arabs in the Near East and move into their homes. And they would expect us to help them. I tell you that if we don’t get our nose out of Israel’s hairy ass, the Arabs will come after us as well. America has no business over there and Israel is not our friend. America is full of white Christians and Jews hate all Christians and do their best to rape, loot and pillage us, all in the name of greater Israel. Well, not in my lifetime but maybe in yours, Gregory, in yours.

GD: If you send me the papers, I will do my best.

RTC: Expose and derail. They have already looted England and Poland and now they’re raping Russia and we’re next on the menu.  And their creepy Mossad agents are crawling all over this country as well. The FBI knows about this so that’s one of the reasons to keep quiet around Kimmel. You tell him anything hot and juicy and Tom will burn the line to the headquarters. Once they have it, the Jews will have their hands on it in seconds and they can either put a few pounds of cocaine in your car or shoot your crippled mother as a warning. Say nothing and publish.

GD: Good advice. I recall an conversation I once had with a Pole. He said they Poles hated the Germans but one good thing was that Hitler cleaned the Jews out of Poland. Did you know that after the war when the Jewish refugees went back to Poland, the locals used to chase them into barns, lock them in and barbecue them? Last major pogrom in Europe was in Poland in ’46. In fact, Stalin…I mean in ’39 when Hitler went into Poland, about three hundred thousand Polish Jews fled eastwards to find security in the friendly bosom of Mother Russia. Stalin did not want any more Jews so he ordered the border guards, the NKVD, to shoot anyone trying to cross the border. They wiped out the lot of them. And now, of course, the Germans get the blame.

RTC: The older ones still love Stalin. Well, isn’t truth relative, Gregory?

GD: Depends on who wins, doesn’t it?

RTC:Well, I’ll dig out some of the papers on this business and send them off to you. Probably after the next weekend. I can’t get to the post office but I can get my son to do it. I hate to drag him into this but I have no choice here.

GD: Well, if it’s too much trouble to…

RTC: No, not a problem. The is not a damned thing I can do about these assholes but perhaps you can.

GD: I might get it in Carto’s paper but I doubt if anyone else will touch it.

RTC: You will shake up the FBI if you publish but does this bother you? GD: Why should it?

RTC: DC is so incestuous, Gregory, so involved. Everyone is so self-important.

GD: My impression has been that they want to be important but never will be anything but pointy headed hacks and wannabees. I am sure there are smart people in DC but I have yet to encounter one.

RTC: I know a few but you have a point. Here, we have spent this entire conversation trashing the Jews. God help both of us if someone is tapping our phones.

GD: You’re retired and I am no one so I don’t worry about myself. I suppose what with the collapse of the Soviet Union, all your people are happy.

RTC: Well, James Joyce said that: In moments of happiness, don’t despair, tragedy lurks around the next corner.

GD: Always. Tragedy would be the Jews tricking or forcing us into a war somewhere to help them out. A lot of dead young men, slaughtered Arabs and Tel Aviv rubbing its hands in glee. Or they can do it on their own and invade some place without soldiers around to shoot back and kill fifty children in a Syrian school. Of course these dead toddlers would be proclaimed in the New York Times as a training camp for Arab militants. Of course, out public wouldn’t really care about this. I wonder what would happen if the Arabs blew up one of our day care centers? My God, what a howl that would bring out. Of course we both know that they did it to teach us a lesson for our support of a rogue state. Ah, the Skokie crowd cheers us onwards, over the edge. If that happens they will all run to Toronto which a friend tells me is crawling with them. They even have special lamp posts there.

RTC: The better to hang them on, Gregory.

GD: It might come to that yet, Robert. But enough amusing talk. When you were talking about the take-over of Russian gas and oil and so on, were they successful? I mean your people?

RTC: Oh, yes, they achieved their initial goal. But then the Jews got too greedy and too public with their wealth and I think now, Putin will pull them all down, one by one. And I also think there will eventually be serious problems with America’s banking system. It’s totally corrupt, Gregory, and, like the oil barons of Russia, getting too arrogant. If we were to try to restructure America, we would have to start by reforming the banks and then reestablish the press as independent entities. But to accomplish this, we have to take into consideration that the banks, the media and, to a lesser degree, our intelligence agencies, are firmly in the hands of Jewish interests. These people are not operating for the good of the public but for their own little cliques and more seriously, solely for the interests of Israel. Mark you, Gregory, that miserable dwarf country will drag this powerful country into ruin unless someone puts a stop to it. But, I suppose, it’s the old question of who will bell the cat.

GD: Why not let nature, or time, take its course, Robert? None of what you talk about is new, at least not from a historical point of view. Happened before and will happen again. Watch and wait is what I say.


(Concluded at 3:10 CST)

Turkish labs turn Afghan opium into heroin for shipping to Europe – Russian anti-drug agency

December 22, 2015


Afghan opium is being processed into high-grade heroin in clandestine Turkish drug labs for distribution in Europe and Russia, Russia’s anti-drug chief has revealed. The trafficking route was exposed after a joint Russian-Afghan anti-drug operation.

The cargo traveled through Badakhshan-Doshi-Bamiyan-Herat, then further through Iran and into Turkey, where the opium was processed in well-equipped laboratories…into high quality heroin, and then was to be sent to Europe and Russia,” Ivanov said during an anti-narcotics committee meeting.

The head of Russia’s federal anti-drug agency (FKSN) Viktor Ivanov reported that 600 kilograms of opium was seized in a joint operation carried out by Russian and Afghan special anti-drug units in the city of Doshi in Afghanistan’s Baglan Province.

The operation was conducted in mid-December by Afghanistan’s Kabul Gates anti-drug unit with intelligence support from the FKSN, Ivanov said. The drug shipment was found in an Afghani truck traveling to Turkey via Iran.

The FSKN head stressed that drug trafficking has enabled Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) to boost its numbers four-fold since 2014, Ivanov said.

The spike in IS fighters corresponds with the annual increase of drug smuggling in the Middle East, which is confirmed by the growing number of heroin seizures in the region,” Ivanov said.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is “actively engaged with drug trafficking,” Ivanov said, adding that according to the FSKN estimates, the group’s income from illegal drug trade “makes up to $200-500 million annually.”

Local Jews in shock after Ukrainian city of Konotop elects neo-Nazi mayor

Violence from Svoboda party activists a concern for some in small northern city.

December 21, 2015

by Sam Sokol

Jerusalem Post

Two months after local elections were held across Ukraine, residents of the small northern city of Konotop are expressing shock and dismay over the behavior of newly chosen Mayor Artem Semenikhin of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party.

According to reports, Semenikhin drives around in a car bearing the number 14/88, a numerological reference to the phrases “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”; replaced the picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera; and refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it. The flag also features a Muslim crescent and a cross.

Svoboda, known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine until 2004, has been accused of being a neo-Nazi party by Ukrainian Jews and while party leaders have a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, their rhetoric has toned down considerably over the past years as they attempted to go mainstream.

While it managed to enter mainstream politics and gain 36 out of 450 seats in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, the party’s support seemed to evaporate following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, in which it played a central role. It currently holds six seats in the legislature.

The party managed to improve its standing during recent municipal elections, however, obtaining some 10 percent of the vote in Kiev and garnering second place in the western city of Lviv. For the most part, however, Svoboda is far from the major worry for Ukrainian Jews that it was only two years ago.

It is a sad, but a reality when anti-Semites are being elected in local governing bodies, even mayors promoting hate and intolerance.

Konotop is a clear case,” said Eduard Dolinsky of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.

For the Jews of Konotop, however, worries persist, with Ilya Bezruchko, the Ukrainian representative of the US-based National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, saying he believed residents, who generally get along well with local Jews, voted for Semenikhin because he projected an image of someone who could bring change and reform a corrupt system.

However, Semenikhin himself has a history of fraud, having been arrested for posing as an electricity company worker in order to extract payments from businesses in Kiev in 2012, Bezruchko charged.

Bezruchko, whose late grandfather was the head of the community and whose mother currently works for the city council, said Semenikhin and his assistant have left angry comments on his Facebook page in response to critical articles that the Jewish activist had posted on his blog.

He claimed that someone close to the mayor claimed that he would be hospitalized if he returned to the city from Kiev, where he currently lives, and that the mayor himself posted to say that his mother was corrupt and should be fired from her job.

The reaction of [the] community is shock. People are shocked it could happen in [a] city and nobody believed it could happen here but it happened somehow,” community activist Igor Nechayev told The Jerusalem Post by phone Monday.

While there have been a couple of instances of anti-Semitic graffiti over the past decade and one occasionally hears references to conspiracy theories identifying Ukrainian political leaders as Jews, for the most part, relations between the Jewish community and their non-Jewish neighbors are cordial, he said.

However, while the mayor attempts to make sure his statements never cross over into outright anti-Semitism, many things he says can be interpreted in such a way, he continued. As an example, he referred to a recent statement by Semenikhin in which the mayor refused to apologize for anti-Jewish actions taken by far-right nationalists in World War II, intimating that it was because those responsible for the Holodomor famine of the 1930s were largely Jewish.

The Holodomor was a manmade famine that came about during the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union and which led to the starving deaths of millions. Ukrainians consider it a genocide.

The community is discussing the situation and they understand that the mayor is balancing between anti-Semitism— – he isn’t crossing a redline with statements but saying border things that can be understood as anti-Semitic,” he explained.

While the Jews are not scared, Nechayev said they are wary because “Svoboda has a lot of activists [and] fighters in the region, and [they] can be dangerous.”

Many of the community’s members are elderly and there aren’t many young activists. However he said, members of the city council who have been approached by members of the community seem in agreement regarding the mayor, with several indicating that he has insufficient experience and will not last long in the job.

Speaking to the Post, Vyacheslav Likhachev, an anti-Semitism researcher affiliated with the Vaad of Ukraine and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, said “Ukrainians are afraid of the Russian threat, not the threat of national radicalism,” and that “Semenikhin has successfully created himself an image of a defender of Ukrainian independence, and voters were able to support him, not paying attention to the radicalism of his views.

Unfortunately, Likhachev said the current Ukrainian legislation does not allow to forbid those with right-wing views to take part in the election, or to remove them from the elected positions.

“The special anti-communist and anti-Nazi law says about banning the symbols of the National Socialist (Nazi) of the totalitarian regime, which includes symbols of the Nazi Party and the state symbols of the Third Reich only,” he said. It is impossible to interpreted in legal terms symbols like 14/88.”

Kids’ Questions on a Lockdown Planet: Thinking the Parentally Unthinkable

by Frida Berrigan


“What did you do at school today, Seamus?” It’s a question I ask him everyday.

“Well,” my proud preschooler begins, “we did not have a lockdown drill today.” And that’s about as far as he gets in the art of storytelling. Sometimes I’ll get something about “bim” (gym) or how “Bambi” (Jeremy) pinched him during free play. But the thing that preoccupies my precocious three year old every single day he goes to school is the lockdown drill he and his classmates had in their first month of school.

At a parent-teacher conference in November, my husband Patrick and I got a fuller picture of this episode from his teacher. When the lockdown began, she says, Seamus and his classmates were in the hall on their way to the library. Amid the clangs, they sought refuge in the gymnasium closet. Eighteen kids and two teachers sitting crisscross applesauce on its floor amid racks of balls and hula hoops. Seamus, she tells us, sat on her lap with his fingers in his mouth and cried the entire time.

“Does he talk about it at home?” she asks.

“It’s as though nothing else happens at school,” my husband replies. “He talks about lockdown drills all the time.”

She informs us that the drills happen about once a month, and that Seamus remains easily startled long after they’re over, running for shelter between an adult’s legs whenever he hears loud noises in the classroom.

At that moment — not exactly one of my proudest — I burst into tears. I just couldn’t square my son’s loving exuberance and confidence in the people around him with the sheer, teeth-hurting terror of children being stalked by an armed killer through the halls of The Friendship School. How, after all, do you practice for the unthinkable? This is a subject that’s been on my mind since I was hardly older than he is now.  I look over at him playing contently with his sisters, Madeline, almost two, and Rosena, almost nine, so proud to share his classroom with them.

“At home,” I tell the teacher through my tears, “we chant ‘Gun Control, Not Lockdown Drills!’ whenever he talks about them.” And then I add, “It makes me so angry that he and his friends have to go through this trauma and the big men get to keep their right to bear assault weapons. He should be scared of lockdown drills. They sound terrible. He shouldn’t have to practice surviving a mass killing episode at one of his favorite places in the whole wide world.” I wipe my tears away, but they just keep coming.

Our kids ask us all sorts of questions. Why? Why? Why? They are tiny existentialists. Why is the sky blue? Why do people die? Why does grass grow? They regularly demand that we explain the world to them. Good luck!

His teacher is so earnest and so young and I feel so brittle and so extreme as I cry, folded into one of the small seats at a quarter-sized table in her cheerful classroom. “I am sorry,” I finally say.

“No, no, its okay,” she replies with all the kind politeness a teacher learns. “It is hard,” she continues, “but this is real. We have to practice for this kind of thing.”

Thinking the Unthinkable

I wonder, of course. I know that so much of this is based on fears — not quite irrational but blown out of all proportion — that have been woven into our American world. My husband reminds me of how his parents’ generation had to practice surviving a nuclear attack by doing “duck and cover” drills under their desks. I was too young to duck and cover, but my parents were ardent anti-nuclear activists with no inhibitions about describing to a child just what such a war would mean so I learned to be terrified of nuclear war at a very young age.

I came to believe that the only thing keeping Soviet and American intercontinental ballistic missiles from decimating our cities was the activism, organizing, and witness of my parents and their small band of friends and fellow travelers. We would stand in front of the Pentagon — this was in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s — holding up signs with slogans like “You can’t hide from a nuclear bomb” and the old symbol for a fallout shelter printed below it. I was taught that there could be no security, no safety in a world full of nuclear weapons, that the only way to be safe was to get rid of them.

Imagine how I feel all these years later in a world still chock-a-block full of sucweapons. These days, I wonder why the fear of them has disappeared, while the weaponry remains. Is that better or worse for Seamus’s generation? And what about our present set of fears? What about our twenty-first-century whys?

Assuming there are more Adam Lanzas out there (and there obviously are), that more gun shops will sell ever more implements of rapid-fire death and destruction, and that more gun lobbyists and promoters will continue to cling to this “God-given, constitutionally enshrined right,” my son does need to endure more lockdown drills.

The consensus of school security experts is certainly that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (only 80 miles from our house), would have been much worse if the students and teachers hadn’t been practicing for exactly the nightmare scenario that struck on December 14, 2012.

But how can I explain any of this to my little boy when it makes no sense to me? When it makes no sense, period?

Why? Why? Why? As a kid, I got an earful every time I asked that question. My parents were comfortable exposing my brother, sister, and me to the horrors of our world. In first or second grade, my activist parents involved me in a UNICEF slide show about world hunger. We would go to churches and schools where I would recite the script, full of sad (and still, sadly, largely on the mark) statistics about how children throughout the world suffer from malnutrition. I could tell you why kids were hungry all over the world, since my mom had tacked on a conclusion to the slide show that lay the blame squarely on the U.S. military-industrial complex.

My parents did, however, try to protect me from what they found most fearsomely destructive in American life.  We were not allowed to watch television, except for the evening news (somewhat less hysterical than today but no less bleak). Like any self-respecting American kid, I would always ask, “Why no TV?” and always get the same answer. “Because it teaches racism, sexism, and consumerism, because it fills your head with wants, because it gets in the way of your own imagination and creativity.”

So instead of Knight Rider or The Cosby Show, we watched black and white documentaries about Hiroshima and Nagasaki projected onto our living room wall. I couldn’t tell you about the latest plot twists on Full House, but I could tell you why nuclear weapons were wrong. Those grainy images of destroyed cities, burnt skin, and scarred faces were etched into my young brain by the age of five. My heroines were two young anti-nuclear activists. Sadako Sasaki was a Japanese girl who contracted leukemia after the atomic bombing. She folded hundreds of paper cranes as a prayer for healing and peace before dying at the age of 12. Samantha Smith, a young girl from Maine, wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov with a plea for peace. He, in turn, invited her to tour the Soviet Union where she connected deeply with young Russians. She died in a plane crash at the age of 13.

I wonder now about my childhood fears. They helped me support and believe in the anti-nuclear work of my parents. But nightmares, morbid fascinations with young martyrs, a fixation on the tick-tockings of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock — these are not things that I want to pass on to the next generation. I guess I’m happy that they don’t know what nuclear weapons are (yet) and it’s one more thing I’m not looking forward to explaining to them.

The questions are already coming fast and furious these days and they are only going to multiply. We have to try — I have to try — to answer them as best we — I — can. It’s a precious facet of parenting, the opportunity to explain, educate about, and even expound upon the wonders and horrors of this world of ours, and it’s a heavy responsibility. Who wants to explain the hard stuff? But if we don’t, others surely will. In these early years, our kids turn to us first, but if we can’t or won’t answer their questions, how long will they keep asking them?

Why do we practice lockdown drills? Why do people kill kids? Why is there war? Why are all those weapons, the nuclear ones and the assault rifles alike, still here?

Why Do the Police Kill People?”

At some preschools, it’s protocol to explain lockdown drills in terms of preparing in case a stinky skunk gets into the building. No one wants to get sprayed by a stinky skunk, do they?

Somehow, and I can’t tell you quite why, this seems to me almost worse than the truth. At Seamus’ school, they don’t talk explicitly about an armed intruder, but they do make a distinction between fire drills where they evacuate the building and “keeping safe from a threat” by “hiding” in it.

In the month since our parent-teacher meeting, Seamus has endured another lockdown drill and our country has continued to experience mass shooting events — San Bernardino and Colorado Springs being just the most horrific. While at breakfast, Patrick and I read the news about healthcare offices and social service agencies turned into abattoirs, and yet we speak about such things only in code over granola and yogurt. It’s as if we have an unspoken agreement not to delve into this epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings with our kids.

Still, it’s strange not to talk about this one subject when we talk openly in front of our children about so much else: Iraq and Afghanistan, the Syrian refugee crisis, hunger and homelessness, Guantánamo and climate change. We usually welcome their whys and jump over each other to explain. Patrick is much better at talking in a way that they can all take in. I forget myself easily and slip into lecture mode (next slide, please).

After the police killings of Lashano Gilbert (tased to death in our town of New London, Connecticut), Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray, we took the kids to candlelight vigils and demonstrations, doing our best to answer all Seamus’s questions. “Why do the police kill people?” followed, of course, by “Are they going to kill me?” Then we somehow had to explain white privilege to a three year old and how the very things that we encouraged in him — curiosity, openness, questioning authority — were the things black parents were forced to discourage in their sons to keep them from getting killed by police.

And then, of course, came the next inevitable “Why?” (the same one I’m sure we’ll hear for years to come).  And soon enough, we were trying desperately to untangle ourselves from the essentially unintelligible — for such a young child certainly, but possibly the rest of us as well — when it came to the legacy of slavery and racism and state violence in explaining to our little white boy why he doesn’t need to cry every time he sees a police officer.

And then came the next “Why?” and who wouldn’t think sooner or later that the real answer to all of his whys (and our own) is simply, “Because it’s nuts!  And we’re nuts!” I mean, really, where have we ended up when our answer to him is, in essence: “Don’t worry, you’re white!”

And then, of course, there’s the anxiety I have about how he’ll take in any of this and how he might talk about it in his racially diverse classroom — the ridiculous game of “telephone” that he could play with all the new words and fragments of concepts rattling around in his brain.

My stepdaughter Rosena was a kindergartner when Adam Lanza killed those 20 little kids and six adults in their school just 80 miles west of us. Her school upped its security protocols, instituted regular drills, and provided parents and caregivers with resources on how to talk to their children about what happened. For five and six year olds, they advised not initiating such a conversation, nor allowing them to watch TV or listen to the radio news about the massacre. (Not exactly the easiest thing in our 24/7 media moment.)  They also suggested responding to questions only in the most general terms. Basically, we were to sit tight and hope our kids didn’t get enough information to formulate a why.

Good luck on that these days, but sometimes I do wish the same for myself. No news, sit tight, and pretend nothing’s going on. After all, like so many of our present American fears, the fear that my kids are going to be gunned down in their classrooms is pretty irrational, right? Such school shootings don’t exactly happen often. Just because one did occur relatively near here three years ago doesn’t mean pre-schools and elementary schools are systematically under attack, yes?

Unlike so many people on this planet, we don’t live in a war zone (if you put aside the global destructiveness of nuclear weapons). And given the yearly figures on death-by-vehicle in this country, my kids are unbelievably safer in school, any school, than they are in the back seat of my own car any day of the week, right?

Of course, there’s another problem lurking here and it’s mine. I’m not there. My three-year-old son is having scary experiences and I’m not there to walk him through them. And then there are those lockdown drills and what they are preparing him for. They couldn’t be creepier. They’re a reminder not just to our children but to their parents that, after a fashion, we may indeed be living in a kind of war zone. In 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 33,636 people were killed by guns in this country; in that same year, 127 American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.

Some Questions Are Easier Than Others

Why is the sky blue? I have no idea, but it takes only a minute of Googling to find out that it has something to do with the way air molecules scatter more blue light than red light. Why do people die? Because no one can live forever, because they get sick and their bodies get old and their organs don’t work any more and then we cry because we miss them and love them, but they live on, at least until our own memories go. Why does grass grow? Well, Google it yourself.

The problem, however, is with the most human of questions, the ones that defy Googling and good sense — or any sense we may have of the goodness of humanity. And maybe, kids, we just have to wrestle together with those as best we can in this truly confusing world. 

And keep one thing in mind: the very same litany of questions our kids never stop asking and that we struggle to answer, or wonder whether to answer at all, is always running like some strange song through our own adult heads as well, largely unanswered.

Why this particular world? Why this particular way? Why now?

Why? Why? Why?

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