TBR News December 28, 2016

Dec 28 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C. December 28, 2016: “In the uproar in the media caused by the UN resolution against Israel for illegally seizing Palestinian property to build more housing for its citizens, it is overlooked that the Israeli population is 95% Ashkenazi.

This means that they were originally Turkish Kazhars, living by the Caspian Sea. They were converted to Judiasm in ca 800 CE by order of their leader.

Eventually, their tribes moved into Russia and what is now Poland and the Ukraine.

In short, they are Jewish by conversion only, not origin,  and have absolutely no ancestral connection with Palestine.

Therefore, statements that Israel wants to take away legitimate Arab land because it was originally their homeland is pure fiction.

And it is a fiction that has disrupted the area for many years and caused an uncounted number of deaths.

History is full of such matters but in the end, Israel believes that might is greater than right and so we have constant conflicts.

As George Washington once said it is better for America to stay out of foreign wars.”

Britain pulled the strings and Netanyahu warned New Zealand it was declaring war: New details on Israel’s battle against the UN vote

The British secretly worked the Palestinians and urged New Zealand to move ahead with the resolution, and a call from Netanyahu to Putin triggered a real drama at the UN HQ just one hour before the vote.

December 28, 2016

by Barak Ravid


Last Friday, a few hours before the UN Security Council vote on the settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully. New Zealand, together with Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela, was leading the move to resubmit for a vote the resolution from which Egypt had backed down the day before.

A few hours earlier, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem called New Zealand’s ambassador to Israel, Jonathan Curr, and warned that if New Zealand’s move came to a vote, Israel might close its embassy in Wellington in protest. Ambassador Curr noted this and reported it to his government, but when dawn came in New York Israel understood that things were still moving ahead.

Netanyahu’s phone call to McCully was almost his last attempt to prevent the vote, or at least to postpone it and buy a little time. Western diplomats say the conversation was harsh and very tense and Netanyahu let loose with sharp threats, perhaps unprecedented in relations between Israel and another Western country.

“This is a scandalous decision. I’m asking that you not support it and not promote it,” Netanyahu told McCully, according to the Western diplomats, who asked to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of the matter. “If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. We’ll recall our ambassador to Jerusalem.” McCully refused to back down from the vote. “This resolution conforms to our policy and we will move it forward,” he told Netanyahu.

Just one month earlier, when McCully visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, he found the latter an entirely different man. Netanyahu was pleasant, friendly and overflowing with warmth. He showed McCully the famous PowerPoint presentation that he had shown in a round of background briefings for the media last summer. Laser pointer in hand, Netanyahu told McCully that Israel was expanding its foreign relations, breaking through in the region and making friends in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Western diplomats said that McCully, who over the past two years had been consistently pushing the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the UN Security Council, spoke with Netanyahu about the resolution his country wanted to promote. It was a much softer and more moderate version than the motion that passed last Friday. New Zealand’s resolution did talk about freezing construction in the settlements, but also about freezing Palestinian steps in the UN and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and called for direct negotiations without preconditions.

Netanyahu rejected this outright. If it were up to him, the Palestinian issue would not have come up in the meeting at all. His message to McCully was similar to what he said endlessly in public over the past few weeks. The world doesn’t care too much about the Palestinian issue. The automatic majority against Israel in the UN is about to become a thing of the past. “The vote Friday proved differently and showed that Netanyahu’s assessment was wrong,” a Western diplomat said.

Discussions with Western and Israeli diplomats reveal many interesting details about some of what happened behind the scenes at UN headquarters in New York between Thursday afternoon, when Egypt announced it was backing down from the resolution on the settlements, and Friday morning, when New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela announced that they would continue to push for a vote.

Form the moment Egypt backed down on Thursday, the Western and Israeli diplomats say, New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela were pressured to move ahead anyway. The Palestinians were the first to exert pressure, but they were joined by some of the Gulf States and Britain. The Western diplomats said that the British encouraged New Zealand to continue pushing for a vote even without Egyptian support.

The British had become active regarding the resolution a few days earlier. The Israeli diplomats say that from information that reached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, British legal figures and diplomats had been working directly with the Palestinians on the wording of the resolution even before it was distributed by Egypt the first time on Wednesday evening. According to the Israeli diplomats, the British did this secretly and without informing Israel.

The suspicion in Jerusalem is that the British had been working during all those days for the Americans to make sure the resolution was to U.S. President Barack Obama’s liking, but without the need to intervene directly in formulating it.

“We know how to read Security Council resolutions,” a senior Israeli diplomat says. “This is not a text that was formulated by the Palestinians or Egypt, but by a Western power.” Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said in interviews with the American media on Monday that Israel had proof that the Obama administration was behind the resolution and had formulated it. It is not clear whether this was what he meant.

Western diplomats partially confirm the description of their Israeli colleagues. They say that the British had indeed played a major role in formulating the resolution and revamping it with the Palestinians. However, they said they have no proof that it was the U.S. administration that was behind the whole move.

“The British helped tone down the text so it would meet the American threshold and so it could be passed without a veto,” one of the Western diplomats said.

Netanyahu’s phone conversation with New Zealand’s foreign minister did not put an end to attempts to prevent the vote on Friday evening. A few hours before the vote, the prime minister called Russian President Vladimir Putin and tried to persuade him. Just the day before, Israel had acceded to a Russian request and had absented itself from a vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution regarding war crimes in Syria.

It is not entirely clear what happened in the conversation between Netanyahu and Putin, but less than an hour before the vote a real drama took place at the UN headquarters in New York. While the Security Council member-states were preparing their speeches ahead of the vote and the public discussion that was held immediately that was to follow, the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin suddenly asked for a closed consultation.

A Western diplomat said that Churkin shocked the other ambassadors of the 14 Security Council member-states when he proposed postponing the vote until after Christmas. There had not been enough discussion on the wording of the resolution, Churkin claimed, and said he was surprised at the haste of some of the countries to hold a vote as quickly as possible. The deputy Russian ambassador to Israel, Alexy Drobinin, confirmed this in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday morning.

Drobinin told Army Radio that Russia had objections to the timing of the resolution and that Russia’s representative in New York was the only one who asked to continue discussing it. Drobinin said it should be taken into consideration that a few weeks from now there would be a new administration in the United States, and that Russia was not satisfied with the way the resolution was brought to a vote. He said the problem was not the content, but the timing and the fact that the resolution related only to one out of the many core issues of the conflict.

But Churkin’s remarks fell on deaf ears. Most of the representatives at the meeting rejected them and demanded to move ahead on the vote as planned. A Western diplomat said that the Russian ambassador, who realized that he had not managed to garner support, backed down and summarized the consultation with a typically cynical remark about the proposal abandoned by Egypt – he said that never in his life had he seen so many people wanting to adopt an orphan so quickly.

The meeting ended, the ambassadors entered the Security Council chamber and a few minutes later they passed the resolution.

Jerusalem postpones settlement building permit vote

A municipal committee has put off a vote on issuing settlement permits in eastern Jerusalem. The move came amidst bitterness toward the Obama administration from Prime Minister Netanyahu.

December 28, 2016


A Jerusalem city council at a meeting on Wednesday postponed a planned vote on issuing permits for hundreds of new settlement homes. The move was reportedly prompted by a desire to avoid further straining relations with Washington ahead of a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Israel and Palestine.

Council member Hanan Rubin told Reuters news agency that the request to call off the vote came directly from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister has refused to back down from settlement construction, despite a recent UN resolution demanding “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu went on the offensive after the UN vote, summoning ambassadors whose countries had supported the measure on Christmas Day, vowing to revoke funding for some UN institutions.

Netanyahu: US abstention ‘shameful’

He also slammed the administration of Barack Obama for abstaining from the vote, calling it a “shameful anti-Israel step,” after decades of direct support from the US. Obama and some of his predecessors have made no secret of the fact that they see the building of settlements as a hindrance to peace efforts.

The US neglecting to exercise its veto power allowed the resolution to pass by 14-0 at the Security Council, the first time the UN has officially condemned Israel’s settlement policy since 1979.

Kerry was set to give a speech later on Wednesday outlining a vision for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The speech is part of a last-ditch push by the Obama administration to entrench its commitment to resolving the conflict before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. During campaigning and since winning the US election, Trump has made indications that his foreign policy would be friendlier towards Netanyahu and Israel, including when it comes to Israeli settlement building.

John Kerry warns Israel over peace deal with Palestinians

December 28, 2016

BBC News

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on a two-state solution is in grave jeopardy.

And he insisted UN condemnation of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied land was in line with American values.

Israel’s PM said Mr Kerry’s speech was “obsessively focused” on settlements.

Earlier, US President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in support of Israel, saying he would not allow it to be treated with “disdain and disrespect”.

He urged Israel to “stay strong” until he assumed office next month.

On Friday, the US chose not to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israeli settlement construction, leading to an angry response from Israel.

The issue of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

More than 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

What is the two-state solution?

A “two-state solution” to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the declared goal of their leaders and many international diplomats and politicians.

It is the shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent state of Palestine on pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel.

The United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, Russia and the United States routinely restate their commitment to the concept.

Mr Kerry said: “The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. That future is now in jeopardy.

“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect. The United States did in fact vote in accordance with our values, just as previous US administrations have done at the Security Council before us.”

He added: “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.

“The result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as more committed to settlements than any Israel’s history, are leading in the opposite direction. They are leading towards one state.”

In his reply, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the US secretary of state’s speech was “skewed against Israel” and “barely touched upon the root of the conflict- Palestinian opposition to a Jewish state in any boundaries”.

In two tweets issued on Wednesday morning New York time, Mr Trump said: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.

“They used to have a great friend in the US, but… not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

Mr Netanyahu replied on Twitter: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!”

Critics have urged the president-elect to use more conventional channels to communicate on international matters.

The UN resolution passed last Friday stated that the establishment of settlements “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

The US decision to abstain infuriated Mr Netanyahu, who has taken diplomatic reprisals against the countries that voted in favour of the resolution.

Meanwhile, an Israeli committee has postponed a vote to authorise construction of almost 500 new homes in Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

The move apparently follows a request from Mr Netanyahu’s office.

Report: Netanyahu to be investigated for bribery, fraud

Police ask A-G to turn months-long secret inquiry into full-blown investigation as new documents come to light

December 26, 2016

Times of Israel

A months-long inquiry into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s affairs took a new twist on Monday, with police reportedly convinced that they will be able to open a full-blown criminal investigation against him in the next few days.

Police recently received new documents as part of a secret inquiry that began almost nine months ago, Channel 2 reported. Based on those files police have already turned to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit requesting that he allow them to open a full criminal investigation. The report stated that among the suspected offenses are bribe-taking and aggravated fraud.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said that “it’s all nonsense,” Haaretz reported. “Since Netanyahu’s victory in the last elections and even before, hostile elements have made heroic efforts to attempt to bring about [Netanyahu’s] downfall, with false accusations against him and his family. This [latest attempt] is absolutely false. There was nothing and there will be nothing.”

In June, it was reported that Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich gave his go-ahead to the secret investigation by special police unit Lahav 433, but that he had demanded full cooperation on secrecy and that no details be leaked to the media.

Mandelblit also reportedly instructed employees in the state prosecutor’s office to look into allegations that Netanyahu accepted 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) from accused French fraudster Arnaud Mimran in 2009.

In May, Israel’s state comptroller issued a critical report on Netanyahu’s foreign trips, some of which were taken with his wife and children, from 2003 to 2005, when he was finance minister.

Earlier this month, in an apparently unrelated case, there were calls for the prime minister to be investigated for his role in a Defense Ministry deal to purchase submarines from a German company partly owned by the Iranian government.

The affair dominated public debate in the country last month, as accusations surfaced that the prime minister may have been swayed in the decision by business ties his personal counsel David Shimron had with the submarines’ builder, ThyssenKrupp. The purchase was opposed by parts of the defense establishment, including former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.

On Sunday, police descended on the Defense Ministry to gather information relating to a ship-building contract with Germany, as part of a probe into how negotiations for multi-billion shekel naval deals were handled.

Israel’s attorney-general orders criminal probe against PM Netanyahu: TV

December 28, 2016


Israel’s attorney-general has ordered police to open a criminal investigation in two unspecified matters involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Channel 10 television said on Wednesday.

When asked, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman declined to respond to the report.

Netanyahu has in the past denied wrongdoing in the purchase of submarines from Germany, where media have reported a potential conflict of interest involving his lawyer.

The Channel 10 report said one of the two cases that Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit had been examining was not known to the public.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

 Do you suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome?

December 27, 2016

by Justin Raimondo

Los Angeles Times

The country is in the throes of a major epidemic, with no known cure and some pretty scary symptoms. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS, and it’s rapidly spreading from the point of origin – the political class – to the population at large.

In the first stage of the disease, victims lose all sense of proportion. The president-elect’s every tweet provokes a firestorm, as if 140 characters were all it took to change the world.

Trump set up a single phone call with Taiwan’s president, and suddenly TDS patients were insisting that our “One China” policy was no more. But the reality is that telephonic communication isn’t the same thing as official diplomatic recognition. Besides, in their eagerness to highlight Trump’s alleged recklessness, the president-elect’s critics misunderstand our policy. “One China” means that we don’t recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country or China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. We’ve never considered Taiwan a mere province, and the Taiwan Relations Act obligates us to defend the island against attack.

In the advanced stages of the disease, the afflicted lose touch with reality. Opinion is unmoored from fact.

The mid-level stages of TDS have a profound effect on the victim’s vocabulary: Sufferers speak a distinctive language consisting solely of hyperbole. Politico recently ran a piece that noted Trump’s supposedly unprecedented decision to continue using his private security force, which provoked former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin to tweet: “A predictable move for a kleptocratic authoritarian who wants to operate outside the bounds of law and basic ethical standards. Even more troubling, he may use the force’s lack of government oversight & presidential veneer to carry-out extralegal acts of force.”

It’s quite a stretch to suggest that a desire to keep trusted lieutenants is actually a sinister plot to create a version of the brownshirts, but such illogical leaps are the pathway to the next stage of TDS: a state of constant hysteria.

Especially when discussing Trump’s views on immigration, hysterical TDS victims assume there’s no difference between the president-elect’s rhetoric (get out!) and his proposed policy (deporting known criminals who are in this country illegally). As Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, put it: “He’s not calling for mass deportation. He said, ‘No, only people who have committed crimes.’ And then only until all of that is taken care of will we look at what we are going to do next.”

As TDS progresses, the afflicted lose the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. Despite Trump’s expressed desire to “work something out” for the so-called Dreamers – those brought here as very young children – Trump’s critics continue to harp on this issue. Immigration advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, who has a very bad case of TDS, inadvertently revealed this mind set when he said: “Before anyone falls into the trap of believing that Trump is ‘softening’ on immigration, they should remember that we’ve seen this movie before.”

A movie, eh?

In the advanced stages of the disease, the afflicted lose touch with reality. Opinion is unmoored from fact. Life resembles a dark fairy tale in which the villain – Trump – is an amalgam of all the worst tyrants in history, past and present, while the heroes –Trump’s critics – are akin to the resistance fighters of World War II.

TDS victims routinely compare Trump to Hitler: Time magazine ran an opinion piece that asked “Just how similar is Donald Trump to Hitler?” The answer: “The comparison between Hitler and Trump is so poignant” because “both men represent their personal character as the antidote to all social and political problems.”

Since Hitler has been dead for more than 70 years, though, victims may feel the need for a more potent bogeyman, a tyrant with more currency. And they’ve found one in Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they insist ordered a hacking campaign to help Trump win the election.

The other day, Tucker Carlson of Fox News interviewed TDS-riddled Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). Carlson asked for evidence that Putin’s alleged machinations had any effect on the election. Unable to come up with a coherent answer, Schiff morphed into J. Edgar Hoover: “You’re carrying water for the Kremlin,” he said, “you’re going to have to move your show to ‘Russia Today.’”

If you ask a TDS victim what might help them feel better, they’ll use the word “normalize.” As in, we mustn’t “normalize” Trump. What they’re really saying is that normal means of dealing with him aren’t enough. Which raises the question: If he’s another Hitler, if he’s in league with Putin, then why is assassination out of the question? Poke a TDS victim and you’ll find they don’t think that “solution” is out of the question at all.

This is the final stage of the TDS epidemic: violence against a democratically elected leader. Unless a cure for TDS is found, this is where we are headed.

California Blames Incarcerated Workers for Unsafe Conditions and Amputations

December 28 2016

by Spencer Woodman

The Intercept

In September, after months of organizing via smuggled cellphones and outside go-betweens, prisoners across the country launched a nationwide strike to demand better working conditions at the numerous facilities that employ inmate labor for little or no pay.

The strike, which spread to dozens of institutions in 22 states, briefly called attention to a fact about prison labor that is well-understood in America’s penal institutions but scarcely known to the general public: Inmates in America’s state prisons — who make everything from license plates to college diploma covers — are not only excluded from the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on slave labor, but also exist largely outside the reach of federal safety regulations meant to ensure that Americans are not injured or killed on the job. Excluded from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s mandate of protecting American workers, these inmates lack some of the most basic labor protections other workers take for granted.

This vacuum of oversight causes the labor performed behind prison walls to be doubly invisible because it excludes inmates from federal record-keeping rules requiring non-prison employers to report serious job-site injuries to the federal government.

Yet injury logs generated by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) — the agency in charge of overseeing the prison work programs in the country’s second largest prison system — provide a rare window into the varied dangers that face inmate laborers. Since 2012, inmates in California have reported more than 600 injuries while working for as little as a 35 cents an hour, according to the documents obtained by The Intercept. The logs contain a wide range of job-site harms, from fingers being smashed in steel molds or sucked under sewing machine needles to less serious maladies like carpel tunnel syndrome and other common overuse conditions.

In some severe cases, inmates’ appendages were amputated after being crushed or severed in machinery. “[The inmate’s] sleeve became caught in gear and pulled hand into assembly,” one log reads, “resulting in amputation of r. hand.”

California generally pays its some 7,000 inmate workers between 35 and 95 cents an hour for their labor, and it is unclear whether any of the inmates listed as having lost appendages while working in California prisons have yet received any compensation for the amputations. A CALPIA spokesperson told The Intercept that the state had provided each of the inmate amputees with workers’ compensation forms, but the injured prisoners could take no action to pursue their claims until released from prison. California state law prohibits inmates from receiving workers’ compensation while still incarcerated, meaning that inmates serving life without parole sentences would never be entitled to a penny of compensation even for losing limbs on the job.

A common theme running among throughout the logs is the potential for many of the injuries to have been averted. “I did not really see anything in here that wouldn’t have been preventable,” said Linda Delp, the director of University of California Los Angeles’s Labor Occupational Safety and Health program, who reviewed the injury logs. Delp said that entries in the CALPIA logs conform to patterns she has seen on non-prison worksites where there is too little training of workers or where the employees are impelled to cut corners because management is requiring too much work to be done in too little time — or both.

A variety of recurring and preventable injury-types caught Delp’s attention. For instance, repeated entries describe objects becoming lodged in inmates’ eyes while they use industrial grinders. A possible solution, according to Delp, would be to ensure that inmate workers wear appropriate safety goggles or visors and have adequate training. Many other logs involve workers losing control of unwieldy objects, which then fall on workers, causing injuries in which body parts are strained, crushed, or lacerated. A solution to this, said Delp, would be to make sure inmates have enough help lifting and maneuvering heavy objects. There are also recurring cases where workers’ fingers become stitched through under sewing machine needles, or have their hands pulled into moving parts on sanders or other machinery — all of which could be prevented by proper machine guarding mechanisms and training, Delp said.

“In looking at these,” Delp said, “there’s something going on in terms of not providing the training and equipment that they need.”

Michele Kane, a CALPIA spokesperson told The Intercept that the office reports all inmate injuries to the state’s department of labor. “They implement and enforce safety regulations over all employers in California,” Kane said, “including state agencies such as CALPIA.”  In response to questions from The Intercept regarding the potential preventability of injuries, a CALPIA spokesperson assigned workers responsibility for their injuries. “In spite of training and proper safety equipment provided by CALPIA,” Kane said in a statement, “there are times when inmates violate training protocols.”

While Delp cannot say anything for certain about CALPIA management practices by reviewing the logs alone, she took notice of the agency’s tendency to blame workers for their injuries.

“I always look for how these things are described and whether individual workers are blamed for what happened,” Delp said. “What’s fairly common across different types of jobs is for management to look the other way when people are breaking the safety rules because they want them to work faster, until someone gets hurt. And then that person is blamed for not following the safety rules.”

A typical example of CALPIA’s allocation of blame appears in one of the several logs that describe an incident resulting in an inmate suffering an amputation, in this case, a finger in garment machinery at the California Men’s Colony prison in San Luis Obispo County in April 2014. “While inmate was cutting fabric, inmate removed his glove to adjust machine, and failed to put his glove back prior to operating the machine,” the log reads, adding no additional information other aside from its result: amputation of “Finger(s)/Thumb(s).”

More than one-third of schoolchildren are homeless in shadow of Silicon Valley

Tech economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses but is contributing to dislocation, leaving families, teachers and even principals with housing woes

December 28, 2016

by Alastair Gee

The Guardian

East Palo Alto, California-Every night for the past year or so, Adriana and Omar Chavez have slept in an RV parked in East Palo Alto, a downtrodden community in Silicon Valley.

On a recent morning before sunrise, they emerged on to the empty street. Omar showed his phone to his wife: 7.07am. “Shall I wake up the girls?” he said, his breath visible in the freezing air.

He headed inside to rouse their three daughters, huddled together in the low-ceilinged bed just above the driver’s cab, and ready them for school.

In most places, the Chavez family would be an exception. But in the school district that includes East Palo Alto, located amid the extraordinary wealth generated by the tech industry, their plight is not uncommon.

Remarkably, slightly more than one-third of students – or 1,147 children – are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own, and also living in RVs and shelters. The district is being squeezed from every side: teachers, administrative staff and even principals have housing woes of their own.

The circumstances of the crisis are striking. Little more than a strip of asphalt separates East Palo Alto from tony Palo Alto, with its startups, venture capitalists, Craftsman homes and Whole Foods.

“You used to say you’re on the wrong side of the tracks. Now you’re on the wrong side of the freeway,” said Gloria Hernandez-Goff, the hard-charging superintendent of Ravenswood City school district, which has eight schools and a preschool.

East Palo Alto has traditionally been a center for African American and Latino communities. Its suburban houses are clustered on flat land by the bay, sometimes with no sidewalks and few trees, but residents say the town boasts a strong sense of cohesion.

Yet as in the rest of Silicon Valley, the technology economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses – the Facebook headquarters is within Ravenswood’s catchment area – and contributing to dislocation as well as the tax base.

“Now you have Caucasians moving back into the community, you have Facebookers and Googlers and Yahooers,” said Pastor Paul Bains, a local leader. “That’s what’s driven the cost back up. Before, houses were rarely over $500,000. And now, can you find one under $750,000? You probably could, but it’s a rare find.”

Hernandez-Goff, who worked as a community organizer and in schools in northern California before becoming superintendent three and a half years ago, gives tech firms some credit.

Facebook recently announced it had committed $18.5m for affordable housing in the area. Meanwhile, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, her husband, has funded programs in the Ravenswood district including literacy and leadership initiatives, Hernandez-Goff said, adding that she meets with Chan or her staff monthly.

For all that, Hernandez-Goff thinks the systemic problems – housing shortages, wage stagnation, inequality – are beyond her. Her focus is on the immediate needs of families.

She wants to open a school parking lot to cars and RVs at night, so families with children can sleep without being disturbed; she thinks lack of sleep and stress are contributing to her district’s low test scores. And she would like to install washing machines in schools for those without homes.

The Chavez family lost their home after Omar was injured, which prevented him from working – and then faced the area’s exorbitant rent costs. Average one-bedroom rents in East Palo Alto are above $2,200, according to the city, and money is tight for the couple. Adriana earns only $11 an hour at a day care. Their tired-looking RV, with its $1,000 price tag, seemed the most logical option for them and their kids.

“For them at the beginning, especially the youngest one, it was scary,” Omar said.

With the dawn sun only a gleam on the horizon, he turned on a generator so his daughters could use the lights. Soon after, a very small child came to the doorway. Her jacket was zipped up and she held a blue hair clip. Ariel, six, had been watching Zootopia on the TV inside.

The RV has almost no free space. The main cabin has two beds – one for the girls, and a second that converts into a table where the children do their homework. Omar cooks in a tiny kitchen, but because the refrigerator is broken there is no way to store fresh food. Bags of clothing are heaped on the floor, and the windows are sealed with aluminum tape for warmth. Omar sleeps in a back room crowded with belongings.

“The shower is here, but we turned it into a closet,” said Luna, five, pointing at a door. Instead, the family washes at a YMCA. They try to use the RV toilet as little as possible because the tank fills quickly.

The couple’s third daughter, Lannette, 15, was still in bed under some blankets. She was sick with what she thought was an ear infection. “It’s difficult,” she said of the living situation, “but at least I have somewhere to sleep.”

Several homeless families whose children attend local schools told the Guardian that they had considered moving to cheaper real estate markets, such as the agricultural Central Valley, but there were no jobs there.

One man shares a single room with three children, in a house where three other families each have a room. Another woman lives with her partner and five children in a converted garage.

Even teachers are not immune to such difficulties. Ten of the staff who work on early education programs – one-third of the total – commute two or more hours each way a day because they cannot find housing they can afford.

Amanda Kemp, 47, is the principal of an East Palo Alto school. Based on her income, she says she has no option but to share a home with three other educators. “I was done with roommates in college,” she said. “Not once did I even think I would live with others unless it was a significant other.”

Hernandez-Goff hopes to build apartments for staff on land owned by the school district. She speaks of her students and employees as an endangered species, on the verge of extinction.

Their predicament is not abstract to her. “I love this place,” she said. “I wish I could buy a house here.”

A secret Mossad Report on 911

December 28, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD


  •  The Initial attack on the World Trade Center

On Friday, February 26, 1993, at approximately 12:18 PM, a huge car bomb exploded  in the Secret Service section of the underground garage of the World Trade Center in New York. The blast killed five people and injured many more  The concrete ceiling over the Path subway station collapsed and the casualties were killed by the debris. The blast destroyed three floors of reinforced concrete and set off fires that sent dense clouds of smoke up into one of the two towers. Power was interdicted and the lighting and elevator systems were not functioning.

Many thousands of office workers had to be evacuated . There was great chaos in the building with occupants breaking windows to get air and filling the stairwells with a panic stricken mass of fleeing people. This attack was the work of a handful of amateur Muslims who were soon apprehended and tried. Four of them, Nidal Ayvad, Mohammed Salameh, Amad Ajaj and Mahmud Aboulhalma were tried and convicted of this act and in May of 1994 were sent to prison for life. Their putative leader, one Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a New York area religious leader, was also sentenced to life for his controlling role in the attack.

The issues of this bomb attack were quite simple. Muslim fundamentalists had tried to destroy a major American financial institution. That they were amateurs and very inept was beside the point. Other, better organized and funded groups would note the disruption and panic and use it for future such attempts.

The Americans are not anywhere as competent in dealing with terrorists as we are. We have been intimately involved with them since before 1948. As usual, the American media made a large production of it for about a week and then it simply vanished.

The attitude of the Clinton administration was that they did not want to disturb the American Muslim population and in the end, viewed the attack as an aberration that was unlikely to be repeated. The terrorists were viewed as a group of rank amateurs and the matter was not pursued. We have good rapport with the Central Intelligence Agency and have many of our people employed there but this is a domestic matter and these internal matters are addressed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is not as friendly with us as other agencies. They have been instructed to cooperate with our people on such things but are very sparing in this cooperation.  In summation, the Americans did not learn from this attack and this will be dealt with later in this report.

  • Muslim extremists in US

Because of very lax, almost incompetent, enforcement of American immigration laws, many Muslim terrorists go to America to conduct their plotting, secure in the knowledge that unless they commit a crime, no one in authority will bother with them. They are free to enter, overstay their short-term visas and go to ground without fear of detection. Because many of these individuals and groups are a distinct threat to us, we have sought and obtained permission from the American authorities to send our counter intelligence people into their country and keep these potential terrorists under close surveillance.

Part of the agreement permitting this is that we were to keep the FBI fully appraised of anything we might find. They also agreed to supply us with information. This was rarely fully forthcoming so we set up our own surveillance, using telephonic systems we controlled. Also, we have been able to track bank records without any difficulty and can immediately locate funds coming into the United States from suspect foreign banks, known to act as conduits for terrorist funding. Because the FBI is often not particularly responsive or cooperative, we, in turn, only inform them of matters of common interest when absolutely necessary.

  • Mossad Observations

Due to our investigations, we early on learned that known Muslim terrorists and suspected terror cells were primarily located in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in both the Miami and Hollywood, Florida areas and once this had been ascertained, these groups were kept under close local surveillance from December 2000 to April 2001. The terrorists were watched daily and all telephone usage was closely observed. They often used codes when talking both inside the United States and overseas but these were fairly easily broken.

  • Specific Activities of Mossad in US against terrorists

We were aware that several terrorist cells were operating in Germany, thanks to cooperation with the German BND and another agency.  In 1996 and 1997, we were watching a number of suspected terrorists, specifically one Mohammed Atta and his lieutenant, Marwan al=Shehi were located at 54 Maarienstrasse in Hamburg  We learned from telephone intercepts and one of our undercover people, a Yemeni , that the Muslims were planning to attack American naval units ported in Yemen. This was the attack on the USS Cole on October 12, 2000.

Our informant said that the Hamburg people were talking about the idea of launching a “massive and impressive” attack on American territory that would be planned to achieve the maximum public relations effect. In 2000, we learned that Atta and others had left Germany for the United States and that they were specifically preparing to launch a spectacular terrorist attack somewhere inside the United States. We had notified the FBI headquarters about this and then learned from them that Atta and others were now resident in Hollywood, Florida.

We sent a team of Arab-speakers led by Hanan Serfati, into the area and they were able to lease apartments had rented several dwellings near the corner of 701st St. and 21st St. in Hollywood,  in direct proximity to the terrorist cell. Initially, we kept them under constant surveillance and when they had left their residence, conducted a break-in and planted listening devices.  Also, one of our people, speaking perfect Arabic, made personal contact with the Atta people. The team leader himself kept a residence in proximity to the American Postal Service office where it had been determined that they had a drop box. At this point, we had kept both the FBI and the CIA fully informed of our actions and they, in turn, were able to help us with mail covers and other information. .

We observed that several of the terrorists began to take flight training.  Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi took jet flying lessons at Huffman Aviation, a flight school in nearby Venice. Again, we notified the FBI and CIA of this training because it indicated a probable aerial assault but neither agency expressed any genuine interest in the information.

The Arab extremist plot that led to the attacks of September 11 was hatched in Hamburg, Germany.

The main movers in this plot, Mohammed Atta, Ramzi bin al Shibh and Said Bahaji, moved into an apartment at 54 Marienstrasse in the German port city. In 1999 these men, and others, went to an al Quaeda camp in Afghanistan for training purposes. In 2000, they were back in Hamburg, boasting about planned attacks against American targets. In the same year, a number of the Hamburg Arab plotters went to the United States to attend flight training schools.

From this time onwards, until the date of the actual attacks, the Hamburg terrorist cell was in constant telephonic and fax communication with their members in America.

Shortly before the attacks, most of the Hamburg terrorists left Germany for Afghanistan and Pakistan. [Source: New York Times, August 30, 2002]

  • The Actual Terrorist Plan revealed

Our undercover agent with the Atta group had proven to be of great value to them by giving them information we supplied him. As they grew more confident of him, they confided to him, and we had made tapes of these conversations, that they planned to launch a massive aerial attack against targets inside the United States. The USS Cole incident, they felt, had had very little impact on the American public. It was then that an enlargement of the 1993 car bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York was put forward They developed the idea that if they crashed their planes into both buildings, the results would be far more dramatic than the initial attack. Later, our man also suggested a possible attack on other targets in Washington. They discussed attacks on the White House, the Capitol building and the Pentagon.

The number of terrorists to fly commercial planes into targets was limited by the number of men who were available and could be trained. It was then decided to rule out the White House because it was such a small target and concentrate on the Pentagon and the Capitol building. Once that had been settled, the actual planning began in earnest. Our man kept us advised at all times of the progress and we, in turn, immediately notified the (Israeli) Embassy in Washington and our own agency, both in Tel Aviv and the United States.

  • Reports to Department of Justice (FBI) and CIA to White House in re coming attacks: The President notified.

As it appeared that there would be such attacks for a certainty., our Embassy first of all contacted both the American Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency and appraised them of the seriousness of the situation. Eventually, the office of the Ambassador made contact with top aides of the Vice President Cheney.

It was felt at the time that Mr. Cheney would understand this matter and be able to make a presentation to the President. In a number of substantive talks with Mr. Cheney, it was mutually decided that the attacks should proceed. The reasons agreed upon were that it would at once give the President the opportunity of securing great domestic power with the legislature and the public. It would also permit, and most important, that the U.S. could attack Saddam Hussein. He was then one of our top enemies and had, in fact, bombarded us with missiles during the Gulf War.

It was felt strongly that if Hussein were removed, the country invaded by American troops and occupied, not only would the United States have secure rights to the huge Iraqi oil reserves but could set up a large, permanent military base in Iraq. This would act as a buffer for Israel and a constant threat to other Arab states plus set up a vital block between Iran, who has threatened Israel many times, and our state. Mr. Cheney, who has excellent connections with the American oil business, was entirely in favor of this on both counts.

He then made a presentation, with our people present, to the President who at once accepted all the aspects of it. The decision was made not to interdict the attack in any way and allow it to happen as it would and to await the outcome. Both the CIA and FBI were to be listened to but forbidden to act “until informed to do so.”

Mr. Cheney remarked that he did not want an attack on the Pentagon to emasculate its military leadership so he suggested that since a part of the building was empty due to interior renovations, that our man with the Atta group  inform them that this empty side was where the important people worked.

When the subject came up of the air attack on the Capitol building, an enormous and easily hit target, the President remarked that if the Congress was sitting at the time of the attack, the death or injury of many of its members would not only add to national outrage but also strengthen his powers as a President during a wartime. There was at this point in time, no doubt that a subsequent American military attack on Iraq with ground troops would be made as discussed above.

  • Influx of Foreign Intelligence Warnings

Since well before the target date, a number of high-level warnings were received by American governmental agencies concerning news of a pending terrorist attack. Because, at the highest level, it was wished not to interfere with the probability of such an attack, all such information was sent to either the Vice President or the President himself. Of course, nothing was done in fact but there were many worried conversations back and forth. The most persistent were the Germans who had developed inside information and on a number of occasions sent their finding on to the Americans. All were ignored.

In mid-August, 2001, President Vladimir Putin of Russia made a report about possible Arab attacks against domestic American targets..

  • On August 20, 2001, the French government made a similar report.
  • On August 24, 2001, the head of the Israeli Mossad reported the imminence of an Arab attack against American targets and a similar report was made by the same agency on September 7, 2001.

Domestically, the picture is not as clear but it is known that:

  • On June 26, 2001, the CIA informed the White House that they had intercepted foreign intelligence traffic concerning possible al-Qaeda strikes in America on July 4.
  • On July 1, 2001, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated that her staff had advised her that there was a “major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months.” (emphasis added)
  • On July 2, 2001, the FBI reported to the White House that al-Qaeda terrorist attacks outside the United States were very possible and that domestic attacks could not be discounted.
  • On July 5, 2001, the CIA informed the President that al-Qaeda attacks against American targets were entirely possible during the summer of that year.
  • On July 28, 2001, authorities in Dubai arrested one Djamel Beghal who revealed information about a planned al-Qaeda explosive attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris
  • On August 6, 2001, the CIA also presented a warning to the President, explicitly concerned with terrorism inside the United States. The actual content of this message has been the subject of considerable debate, with White House officials understandably downplaying its significance.[Sources: Time May 27, 2002]
  • Mossad agrees to provide special services to US in addition to updates on Atta people

After many discussions, it was determined that the American authorities could not be seen to have had real knowledge and specific information on this attack. It was also reasoned that for the attack to achieve its geo-political goals, the targets would have to be destroyed. Of course they could not destroy the Pentagon nor would this be wished. As stated above, the damage was to be in a so-called “safe” area. Our man in Florida did give to the Atta people his ‘inside” information as to which part of the building to attack and thereby save the lives of top military officials. Because the main public relations targets were the two tall buildings, it was imperative that they be either badly damaged or destroyed in full view of the cameras and the American public. Heavy loss of life was expected but mention was made of an air accident previously in which an American bomber got lost in the clouds and rammed into the Empire State building. Damage to the building was not great. It was finally agreed that we would supply certain technical assistance to absolutely insure the very visual and dramatic damage.

The Americans would have no provable connection with this. To achieve this, first a study of both buildings was made that showed they were very cheaply erected and that it would be very possible to “assist” the terrorists in their work. To do this, three teams of our people were selected with the idea that they would leave the country right away and that no one would attempt to interdict or block their exit.

The actual plan was to enter the big buildings at night as maintenance people, to proceed to the part of the buildings most likely to be struck. We knew approximately where this would happen but not certainly. Then, entering the office spaces, quick access through the false ceilings allowed the team to use locally-made thermite bombs with magnetic attachments which would easily and quickly be placed against a strategic number of the horizontal steel beams that held up each floor.

They were to be triggered by a specific rise in heat and were placed against each beam at an angle so as to insure burring the beam through sufficiently to materially weaken it. Our engineers calculated that first the plane would strike the building and start big fires. The fires would weaken the beams and when the heat had reached a certain point, the thermite hidden up above the false ceilings would ignite and burn through the beam. The weight of the building above would press down below and it was then hoped that everything would crash down.

As we did not know just on what floor the plane would strike, these heat bombs were placed, five to a floor, for five floors, up and down. These bombs were small enough, and safe enough, to conceal in maintenance equipment. And, in the event that the attacks were aborted for any reason, our people could easily return to the buildings afterwards and retrieve the bombs without leaving a trace. The thermite would certainly eat into the steel but would not explode and reveal its presence.

  • The attack

About three weeks prior to the actual attack, the special code words were developed by Atta. In that case, the Pentagon was called ‘The Faculty of  Fine Arts”, the Capitol was termed “The Faculity of Law;” and the Trade Building tower was termed, as “The Faculty of Town Planning.”  This, of course was part of the cover story that Atta and his people were students, following an educational career in America and used these for international telephone calls to their superiors in Saudi Arabia.

As soon as the date was fixed for the attack, the White House warned very senior American officials like the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense and his staff, not to fly on commercial aircraft because of “rumors of possible hijackings.” No one outside of a very small circle was told the truth. And because of the possibility that the White House might still be a target of opportunity, the President went in early October, well before the projected attack date, to Texas and then later went to Florida where he and his staff remained in safety until after the attack was over.

  • July 26, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft stops flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment but “neither the FBI nor the Justice Department … would identify [to CBS] what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.”. [Source: CBS, 7/26/01] He later walks out of his office rather than answer questions about this. [Source: Associated Press, 5/16/02]
  • August 4-30, 2001: President Bush spends most of August 2001 at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, nearly setting a record for the longest presidential vacation. While it is billed a “working vacation,” ABC reports Bush is doing “nothing much” aside from his regular daily intelligence briefings. [ABC 8/3/01; Washington Post 8/7/01; Salon 8/29/01] One such unusually long briefing at the start of his trip is a warning that bin Laden is planning to attack in the US, but Bush spends the rest of that day fishing (see August 6, 2001). By the end of his trip, Bush has spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route. [Washington Post 8/7/01] At the time, a poll shows that 55 percent of Americans say Bush is taking too much time off. [USA Today, 8/7/01] Vice President Cheney also spends the entire month in a remote location in Wyoming. [Jackson Hole News and Guide 8/15/01]
  • September 6-7, 2001: 4,744 put options (a speculation that the stock will go down) are purchased on United Air Lines stock as opposed to only 396 call options (speculation that the stock will go up). This is a dramatic and abnormal increase in sales of put options. Many of the UAL puts are purchased through Deutschebank/AB Brown, a firm managed until 1998 by the current Executive Director of the CIA, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal]
  • September 10, 2001: 4,516 put options are purchased on American Airlines as compared to 748 call options. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal.]
  • September 6-11, 2001: No other airlines show any similar trading patterns to those experienced by UAL and American. The put option purchases on both airlines were 600% above normal. This at a time when Reuters (September 10) issues a business report stating “airline stocks may be poised to take off.”
  • September 6-10, 2001: Highly abnormal levels of put options are purchased in Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AXA Re (insurance) which owns 25% of American Airlines, and Munich Re. All of these companies are directly impacted by the September 11 attacks.
  • On September 10, 2001, the NSA intercepted two messages in Arabic. One message read:

“Tomorrow is zero hour” and the second “The match begins tomorrow.” [Source: New York Times, August 10, 2002]

  • On June 19, 2002, CNN reported the contents of these two National Security Agency intercepts. Other news outlets, including The Washington Post, also reported on the intercepts. [Source: New York Times, August 10, 2002]
  • September 10, 2001: Bush flew to Florida from Texas to visit with his brother Governor Jeb Bush. Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau’s counter-terrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs, but none of them relate to counter-terrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities—none of them relating to counter-terrorism. This is more than a little strange, since Ashcroft stopped flying public airplanes in July due to terrorist threats (see July 26, 2001) and he told a Senate committee in May that counter-terrorism was his “highest priority.” [New York Times, 6/1/02, Guardian, 5/21/02]
  • Final Observations

The final attack varied very little from the last planning stage. One of the hijacked planes, the one intended to hit the Capitol building, was crashed by action of its passengers but the other three struck their targets as anticipated. The flames, smoke and general confusion were indeed a public spectacle, seen by all of America and the buildings, beams severed when the heat reached a certain point, did collapse in great clouds. A third building was tended to from the inside, not struck by an aircraft, and because great tanks of fuel were ignited, burned until it collapsed some time later.

The carnage was not to believe and everyone involved in this felt is was a most profitable operation. As we know, the President was acclaimed as a great leader and he was then able to marshal national support into his attack on Iraq. The military campaign, as foreseen, has proven to be quick and decisive, Hussein and his henchmen were swept away and now the American military and civilian forces are in complete control of Iraq. Iran has been put on notice and we expect a large, permanent American military base in the area to act as a deterrent to any future manifestation of Arab nationalism. All of our technicians, as opposed to our intelligence people, were immediately evacuated and aside from several who were temporarily detained by American authorities, eventually all were released and returned safe home.

Now, we have moved from a defensive to an offensive posture and, with American support and a large military presence, the ever-present fears of attacks have been neutralized, hopefully for a very long time.”







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