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TBR News February 11, 2020

Feb 11 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 10, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for February 11: “One of the most important political factors Trump and his crime partners do not seem to recognize is that millions of Americans are below the poverty level and out of work, evicted from their homes and forced to live in tent cities or on the streets. These people, plus Trump’s despised non-white citizens can vote and if they organized and voted in November, Trump would be nothing more than a bad memory.”

“Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose”

The Table of Contents
• As Trump takes aim at EU trade, European officials brace for fight
• Trump denounces Roger Stone sentencing as ‘miscarriage of justice’
• Trump slashes foreign aid, cuts safety net programs in new budget proposal
• Trump seeks $46 billion for nuclear weapons programs in budget request
• State of the Union 2020: Donald Trump claims fact-checked
• Trump’s greatest vulnerability is the economy – just ask poor Americans
• The Allied Destruction of Dresden, 75th Anniversary
• The Season of Evil
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

As Trump takes aim at EU trade, European officials brace for fight
February 11, 2020
by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An emboldened President Donald Trump has set his sights on restructuring the more than $1 trillion U.S. trade relationship with the European Union, raising the specter of another major trade war as the global economy slows and he seeks re-election.
Trump, who recently signed a Phase 1 trade deal that cooled a bitter trade war with China, has called the EU’s position on trade “worse than China” and threatened to impose tariffs on its cars and other products.
European officials say they’re willing to work with Trump to address some irritants in the relationship, but they warn that they’ll retaliate against any U.S. efforts to punish the trading bloc.
“In the economic realm, we’re evenly matched. And we will defend ourselves,” Norbert Roettgen, a senior German conservative lawmaker, said on Friday after meetings with White House and State Department officials. “We will respond to U.S. tariffs, and we know how to structure them to be effective.”
On Friday, two days after Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, the United States ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, said he was being recalled from his post, making the path of any future negotiations even more uncertain. Sondland had testified during the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The near-term outcome may be a “mini-deal” like the Phase 1 agreement signed with Beijing last month that doesn’t solve bedrock issues but will allow both sides to declare a truce, trade experts say.
DISPUTES AND DEFICITS
The United States, the world’s largest importer, and the 27-member block EU face entrenched conflicts over airline subsidies, agricultural trade barriers, and EU plans to tax big U.S. digital companies, among other issues.
The EU was the top U.S. export market in 2018, before the United Kingdom left the bloc, led by aerospace products and computers. After scotching a free-trade agreement with Europe, the Trump administration is focused on shrinking its growing deficit in goods, which hit here a record $178 billion in 2019.
“That can’t continue,” United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer said in December.
In December, the World Trade Organization’s appellate body, which acts as a supreme court for international trade disputes, became paralyzed after the Trump administration repeatedly blocked the appointment of new judges.
The White House and Brussels are essentially without an arbitrator, at a time when EU officials say Trump appears strengthened by his acquittal in the impeachment process, and has amped up his polarizing rhetoric.
“We have allies. We have enemies. Sometimes the allies are enemies, but we just don’t know it,” Trump said at a prayer breakfast in Washington last week, remarks that have put European officials on edge.
After a positive first meeting between Trump and the new leader of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, Trump, in a surprise move, expanded steel tariffs first put in place in 2018.
EU officials say they are trying to move the relationship forward in a “transactional” manner.
Tomas Baert, head of trade and agriculture for the EU’s delegation in Washington, said on Friday that EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan will travel to Washington monthly to try to work out a limited deal “that is tweetable.” Such a deal would allow Trump “to say that we went from the worst trade relationship to the best relationship,” Baert said.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Europe will be consuming “chlorinated chicken,” he said, or buying genetically modified agricultural products, referring to U.S. practices shunned in Europe.
TARIFF THREAT LOOMS
The Trump administration, which has pursued an “America First” agenda aimed at rebalancing global trade flows in favor of the United States, has threatened to levy 25% tariffs on foreign cars and parts from Europe.
On Friday, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the Trump administration had temporarily suspended its plans to tax European auto imports, “while we work through a good-faith effort with respect to the possibility of an EU trade deal.”
But Baert believes the tariff threat will continue, because Trump “is a tariff man and that’s the language that he speaks.” Any U.S. tariffs will be met with retaliation, Baert emphasized. “We’re not offering our other cheek if we are going to be hit on one of them,” he said.
PEARS FOR SEAFOOD
A scaled-down deal could include enhanced market access for European apples and pears, on one hand, and U.S. seafood, on the other. Food safety standards that have kept many farm goods out of the European market are also on the table, according to several sources briefed on talks.
“It would be tricky to do something comprehensive, but a mini-deal is certainly on the table,” said Miriam Sapiro, a former acting U.S. Trade Representative in the Obama administration and now the co-head of Sard Verbinnen’s Washington office. “I think it’s doable and it’s realistic if both sides will stay focused on areas of convergence.”
Trump’s concern about the Nov. 3 U.S. election offers some promise for a modest agreement, Germany’s Roettgen said. “For Trump, it’s important that he can sell a trade deal to voters, and that’s an opportunity for us to be able to achieve something,” he said.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder; Editing by Heather Timmons and Paul Simao

Trump denounces Roger Stone sentencing as ‘miscarriage of justice
President disagreed with seven- to nine-year prison sentence and called it a ‘horrible and very unfair situation’ on Twitter
February 11, 2020
by Martin Pengelly
The Guardian
Donald Trump has denounced prosecutors’ recommendation of a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for his former aide Roger Stone, tweeting: “Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
The president sent his message a little before 2am on Tuesday, after a rally in New Hampshire and a visit to Delaware to honour two US soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
In November, Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, thereby obstructing the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and tampering with a witness in his efforts to learn about emails hacked from Democratic sources.
On Monday, federal prosecutors said a seven- to nine-year sentence would “accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law”.
Trump disagreed, writing: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
Trump regularly claims exoneration in the Russia investigation. In his report, the special counsel Robert Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump aides and Moscow but did outline extensive contacts between the campaign and Russian sources and numerous instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president or his campaign.
Trump has indicated he might pardon Stone, who has remained loyal.
In November, in a statement regarding her husband’s alleged role in leaking nude photos of Melania Trump during the 2016 election, Stone’s wife, Nydia, told the Guardian: “No one supported the president’s election more strongly than Roger Stone.”
The night before Stone was convicted, Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who hosts the InfoWars web show on which Stone and Trump have guested, said he was relaying a message to Trump from Stone.
“I appeal to the president to pardon me,” it read, “because to do so would be an action that would show these corrupt courts that they’re not going to get away with persecuting people for their free speech or for the crime of getting the president elected.”
Lawyers for the 67-year-old self-confessed political dirty trickster asked for a lesser sentence, citing his age and comparatively lenient sentences handed to other Trump aides in cases arising from Mueller’s work on the Russia investigation.
One such sentence approaches the severity of that recommended for Stone. Paul Manafort, Trump’s 70-year-old former campaign chair, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on financial and witness tampering charges.
On Monday night, Trump also labelled the prosecutors’ request in Stone’s case “Disgraceful!” and retweeted messages from a reporter for the Daily Caller, a conservative website.
The reporter, Chuck Ross, wrote: “A [nine-year] prison recommendation for non-violent crimes committed by a 67-year-old man.”
Regarding witness tampering by Stone, Ross added: “Prosecutors disregard [government] witness Randy Credico’s plea for no jail time for Stone on the grounds that he didn’t take Stone’s threats seriously.”
Prosecutors contended that a tough sentence for Stone “will send the message that tampering with a witness, obstructing justice, and lying in the context of a congressional investigation on matters of critical national importance are not crimes to be taken lightly”.

Trump slashes foreign aid, cuts safety net programs in new budget proposal
February 9, 2020
by Jeff Mason
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will propose on Monday a 21% cut in foreign aid and slashes to social safety-net programs in his $4.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2021, according to senior administration officials.
The budget would spend money to fund infrastructure projects and defense, but would also raise funds by targeting $2 trillion in savings from mandatory spending programs in the United States. It assumes revenues around $3.7 trillion.
Trump, a Republican, sought in his budget proposal last year to slash foreign aid but faced steep resistance from Congress and did not prevail.
The president’s latest blueprint for administration spending proposals is unlikely to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, particularly in an election year.
Trump, who campaigned for the presidency in 2016 on a promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, will seek $2 billion in funding for further construction on that project, substantially less than the $8.6 billion he requested a year ago.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, which it has refused to do.
The administration shifted resources from the military last year after Congress refused Trump’s initial wall funding request. The White House will not seek further funds from the military for the wall, a senior administration said.
The budget seeks money to fund a U.S. infrastructure overhaul that both Democrats and Republicans have said is a priority. The two sides are unlikely to agree on any major legislation this year, though, as they fight for control of the White House and Congress in the November elections.
The budget would raise military spending by 0.3% to $740.5 billion for fiscal-year 2021, starting on Oct. 1 and propose higher outlays for defense and veterans, administration officials confirmed.
But former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen raised concerns about how the foreign aid cuts would affect the U.S. civilian footprint around the world that helps reduce the need for military intervention.
In an era of great power competition, cutting these critical investments would be out of touch with the reality around the world,” he wrote in a letter to top congressional leaders. “This is a moment when more investment in diplomacy and development is needed not less.”
Trump’s foreign aid proposal seeks $44.1 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, compared with $55.7 billion enacted in fiscal 2020, an administration official said.
SPENDING CUTS
The White House proposes to slash spending by $4.4 trillion over 10 years.
In the fiscal-year 2021 budget, that would include $130 billion from changes to prescription-drug pricing for the Medicare program for older Americans, $292 billion from cuts in safety-net programs – such as work requirements for the Medicaid program for the poor, and food stamps – and $70 billion from clamping down on eligibility rules for federal disability benefits. Those changes are likely to spur Democrats’ ire.
Deficits would remain high but eventually come down.
The U.S. government ended fiscal 2019 with the largest budget deficit in seven years as gains in tax receipts were offset by higher spending and growing debt-service payments, the Treasury department said on Friday.
The budget forecasts $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years and assumes economic growth will continue at an annual rate of roughly 3 percent for years to come, officials said. Trump has taken credit for the strength of the U.S. economy, thanks in part to tax cuts he championed and Congress passed earlier in his term. The budget funds an extension of those cuts over a 10-year period with $1.4 trillion.
Aid to Ukraine would remain at its 2020 levels under the new foreign aid proposal. Trump was acquitted last week of impeachment charges that he withheld aid to Ukraine to spur Kiev to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. vice president.
Administration officials told Reuters that Trump would request an increase in funding for the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to $700 million from $150 million the previous year, an effort to counter developing economic threats from China and Russia.
The budget also proposes $1.1 billion for cybersecurity efforts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Peter Cooney

Trump seeks $46 billion for nuclear weapons programs in budget request
February 11, 2020
by Aaron Mehta
DefenseNews
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s fiscal 2021 budget includes a major increase in nuclear weapons spending from both the Defense Department and the agency in charge of managing nuclear warheads.
Overall spending on nuclear modernization by the Pentagon sits at $28.9 billion in the request, while funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration comes in at $19.8 billion, an almost 20 percent increase for the semiautonomous agency within the Department of Energy from FY20 numbers.
Of that funding for NNSA, $15.6 billion is for the weapons accounts.
Another $1.7 billion goes to the naval reactors account, 2.2 percent above the FY20 enacted level. That supports three modernization efforts: the Columbia-Class Reactor System Development, the Land-based S8G Prototype Refueling Overhaul, and the Spent Fuel Handling Recapitalization Project
Combined, the Trump budget requests almost $46 billion for nuclear weapons programs.
The strategic deterrent has been described by Defense Secretary Mark Esper as the top priority for his department, and the budget increase comes weeks after a new, low-yield nuclear warhead made its maiden deployment aboard a submarine.
The $28.9 billion includes roughly $14.7 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) costs. Among the RDT&E costs funded by the Pentagon:
• $4.4 billion for Columbia-class submarines
• $4.2 billion for nuclear command, control and communications
• $2.8 billion for the B-21 bomber
• $1.5 billion for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent
• $1.2 billion for the Trident II missile life extension program
• $500 million for the long-range standoff cruise missile
• $110 million for nuclear-related costs on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is scheduled to be nuclear certified in FY24
• $50 million on the B61-12 nuclear bomb tailkit
The increase for NNSA’s budget had been expected for weeks, following reports that the agency was seeking almost $20 billion in the request. The Office of Management of Budget attempted to cut that number to $17.5 billion, a figure that NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty pushed back on in a Dec. 16 memo, arguing that such a move amounts to “unilateral disarmament” and would result in cutting “NNSA’s modernization program in half.”
The issue appeared settled by the end of January, with NNSA getting close to its total request. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, R- Okla., who backed the nuclear budget increase, summed up the discussions between himself and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette by saying, “The resolution is: I won, you lost.”
On Monday, Brouillette, who reportedly supported the lower figure for NNSA, was all smiles when it came to the agency’s budget, saying he feels “very strongly” that $19.8 billion is the “right number.”
“As you know, Congress is very supportive, we think, of this number. We know some do not support it, but we’re going to work closely with them to get that number as close to $19.8 [billion] as we possibly can,” Brouillette said.
Asked where the big boost in funding would go, Gordon-Hagerty pointed to the five major warhead modernization programs: the B61-12 Life Extension Program, the W80-4 Life Extension Program, the W88 Alteration 370, the W87-1 Modification Program and the W93 warhead program.
The administrator particularly highlighted the need to be able to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030, a congressional requirement that some analysts have questioned as unrealistic. She also noted longstanding infrastructure concerns for the agency.
“This is really driven by a number of issues,” she said.

State of the Union 2020: Donald Trump claims fact-checked
February 5,2020
BBC News
President Trump delivered his third annual State of the Union address and highlighted, what he called, the “incredible results” of “the great American comeback” under his presidency. He made a series of claims about his record in office ranging from jobs and manufacturing to healthcare and immigration.
Claim: “I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.”
Reality Check: It’s true the economy has been doing well during Mr Trump’s presidency – but there have been times when it was even stronger.
During President Trump’s administration, the annual rate of growth of gross domestic product (GDP) – the value of goods and services in the economy – has been between 2% and 3%.
But under President Clinton, the annual growth rate was higher – reaching over 4%.
And if you look at quarterly GDP growth, under President Obama it peaked at 5.5% during 2014. That’s not been matched during Mr Trump’s term.
There were also periods of economic expansion in the 1950s and 1960s when GDP growth was even higher.
Claim: “The unemployment rate for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans has reached the lowest levels in history.”
Reality Check: The African American and Hispanic American unemployment rate hit 5.5% and 3.9% respectively in September 2019 – the lowest rates recorded since the US Labor Department started collecting these statistics in the 1970s.
The unemployment rate for both of these groups has risen slightly since September, currently sitting at 5.9% for African Americans and 4.2% for Hispanic Americans.
Asian American unemployment is currently 2.5%, the same level as December 2006, after reaching a record low of 2.1% earlier in the year. However these records only date back to 2003.
However, there remains a disparity in weekly wages between racial groups in the US. Black men on average earn 26% less than white men and the disparity between Hispanic men and white men is wider still, according to the latest official statistics.
Claim: “I’ve also made an iron-clad pledge to American families we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”
Reality Check: This is not true – Mr Trump may say he’s made this pledge but his actions don’t support this.
Protections for patients with pre-existing conditions were introduced under President Obama in the Affordable Care Act. The law prohibits health insurance companies refusing coverage to people who already have health problems when applying for insurance. These rules came into effect on 1 January 2014.
But President Trump stood on a manifesto that promised to roll back the law enshrining these protections, known as Obamacare.
One of Mr Trump’s first actions in office was signing an executive order stating that his administration’s official policy was “to seek the prompt repeal” of the Affordable Care Act. He also supported a lawsuit seeking to have the Act declared unconstitutional.
US economy under Trump: The greatest ever?
In terms of the gains under Mr Trump’s presidency, the most recent Bureau of Labor figures show that in the second quarter of 2019, there were roughly 12,000 more factories than when President Trump took office in 2017.
But many of these are small businesses, with fewer than five employees.
The number of factories overall started to increase in 2013, during the Obama administration.

Trump’s greatest vulnerability is the economy – just ask poor Americans
Yes, the Dow is at a record high and unemployment rates are lower than they have been in decades – but 140 million people are also poor or low wealth
February 11, 2020
by Reverend William Barber
The Guardian
Rather than offer a report on the State of the Union, Donald Trump used his annual primetime slot in the House of Representatives to host a re-election rally. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, summed up the sentiment of the House majority when she stood behind Trump and ripped the text of his speech in half. “I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,” she later said. But of all the lies he told, the president is proudest of the economy he claims is booming. Poor and low-income Americans know that the economy is, in fact, his greatest vulnerability.
Yes, the Dow is at a record high and official unemployment rates are lower than they have been in decades. But measuring the health of the economy by these stats is like measuring the 19th-century’s plantation economy by the price of cotton. However much the slaveholders profited, enslaved people and the poor white farmers whose wages were stifled by free labor did not see the benefits of the boom.
In America today, 140 million people are poor or low wealth. While three individuals own as much wealth as all of them put together, the real cost of living has soared as wages have stagnated. Since the 1970s, the number of people who are paying more than a third of their monthly income in rent has doubled, and there is not a single county in the nation where a person working full-time at minimum wage can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Sixty per cent of African Americans are poor or low-income, as are 64% of Hispanics, but the largest single racial group among America’s poor and low-income – 66 million Americans – are white.
hile Trump stirs racial fears by attacking “sanctuary cities” and black political leaders, there are more white Americans who are unable to meet their basic needs than at any time in this nation’s history. Every day in America roughly 700 people die from poverty. When seven young people died from vaping, Trump called it a national emergency. But for the past four decades, Republicans have racialized poverty while Democrats have run from it, adopting euphemisms like “those who aspire to the middle class” to talk about poor people. By accepting the lie that everyone does better when the economy does better, both parties paved the way for the extremism of a plutocratic presidency.
We know that elites whose stock portfolios and personal taxes have benefited from the Trump tax cuts are going to stand by this president. But those people are an extreme minority – a literal plutocracy – in this nation. The question in 2020 is not whether Trump’s most ardent supporters will stand by him, but whether Democrats will embrace an agenda that can inspire poor and marginalized people to engage in a political system that has simply overlooked them for decades.
Even if Trump doesn’t lose a single vote from 2016, we know he lost the popular vote by more than 3m and won the electoral college by 77,000 votes across Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. If just 3-5% of the poor and low-income people in those states who did not vote in 2016 were motivated to turn out this fall, Trump wouldn’t have a chance. Each and every one of those people, black, white and brown, knows this economy isn’t working for them.
In Kentucky last year, the incumbent governor, Matt Bevin, sought re-election in a state Trump won in 2016 by 30 percentage points. But poor and low-income white people in Appalachia and black and brown people in Louisville and Lexington worked together through the non-partisan Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival to insist that access to healthcare, living wages and high-quality public education for all Kentuckians were not left or right issues, but right or wrong issues. And on each of the issues, Trump and Bevin were wrong. Trump flew in to rally his base for Bevin, but his challenger won. And when the victor, Andy Beshear, gave his victory speech on election night, he quoted the moral language of the Poor People’s Campaign.
As we look toward another election this fall, we know Trump’s campaign is going to be all about the economy. But we also know that message rings hollow for the vast majority of Americans. The work of 2020 must be to build power for a broad coalition that can give voice to issues affecting poor and low-income Americans and compel Democrats to speak to them, up and down the ballot.
Yes, Trump’s presidency is a threat to our democracy. But it is not enough to simply resist Trump’s extremism. We must rally together to follow the lead of those who know that this economy isn’t working for most of us. Now is the time to unite and rise together. Now is the time to address poverty and revive the heart of our democracy.

The Allied Destruction of Dresden, 75th Anniversary
February 11, 2020
by Brett Wilkins
AntiWar
The Allied destruction of Dresden wasn’t the biggest or deadliest aerial bombardment of a German city during World War II. But it is by far the most infamous, largely due to Kurt Vonnegut’s antiwar masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five. February 13 marks the 75th anniversary of what Vonnegut, who survived the bombing as a prisoner-of-war, called “carnage unfathomable.”
Butcher Harris and British Terror Bombing
By early 1945 the once-unstoppable German army was in retreat on all fronts.Its desperate last-ditch counter offensives against the rapidly advancing Allied forces in the west – the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Baseplate – had failed, while in the east the Red Army rolled into German territory during the first Silesian Offensive. The time was right, British commanders argued, for large-scale aerial attacks on cities in eastern Germany that would aid the Soviet offensive and crush German morale.
Long before this time the British had implemented a policy of what they called “terror bombing,” or the total deliberate destruction of German cities,as a method of breaking the will of the German people to continue fighting. Waves of Royal Air Force (RAF) warplanes bombed densely populated cities under cover of night, abandoning any pretense of precision targeting and causing widespread,indiscriminate death and destruction. The chief of the RAF Bomber Command, Arthur”Bomber” Harris, declared his desire to visit “the horrors of fire” on the German people. Once Harris was pulled overby a British police officer for speeding in his black Bentley. “You could have killed someone,” the constable admonished him. “Young man,”the commander retorted, “I kill thousands of people every night.”
He wasn’t lying. Although the British government insisted that it was never its policy to target civilians, the truth was something altogether different.As Harris said after Luftwaffe bombers blitzed British cities, since the Germans had “sown the wind” they should “reap the whirlwind.” In 1943, Harris wrote that “the aim is the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers and the disruption of civilized life throughout Germany” while “downplaying the obliteration of German cities and their inhabitants.”
“Bomber” was indeed a fitting nickname for Harris, but his men had another one for him – “Butcher.” He lived up to the moniker.Around 50 German cities were subjected to horrific aerial bombardment, often with incendiary bombs designed to spark massive firestorms and maximize death, destruction and terror. In July 1943, some 45,000 civilians including 21,000 women and 8,000 children died during more than a week of relentless bombing in Hamburg. In February 1945 hundreds of Lancaster bombers leveled Pforzheim, killing nearly a third of the population. The list went on and on.
‘Fire, Only Fire’
Harris and other RAF commanders proposed simultaneous attacks on Berlin, Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig in the winter of 1945. Dresden, Germany’s seventh-largest city, was the largest urban area in the Third Reich that hadn’t yet been bombed.It had been spared from Allied attack because it was an important cultural city – known as the Jewel Box for its celebrated architecture – with relatively few significant military targets. It was a city of refuge, with 19 hospitals and more than a million refugees fleeing the horrors of the Red Army advance encamped there. They were drawn by Dresden’s reputation as a safe haven from the flames of war that had engulfed most of the rest of Germany, a reputation reinforced by the presence of some 25,000 Allied prisoners of war held in and around the city.
The first RAF warplanes approached the city after 9:30 p.m. on February 13. Some 200,000 incendiary bombs along with 500 tons of high-explosive munitions including two-ton “blockbuster” bombs were dropped during the initial raids, sparking thousands of fires that could be seen from 500 miles (800 km)away in the air. The heat generated by the inferno melted human flesh, turning many victims into piles of goop. Men, women, children, the sick, the elderly,refugees and Allied POWs and even the animals in the city zoo – all were incinerated together. The 2700º Fahrenheit (1480° C) firestorm sucked all the oxygen from the air; many thousands suffocated to death. Lothar Metzger,who was nine years old at the time, later recalled:
About 9:30 p.m. the alarm was given. We children knew that sound and… hurried downstairs into our cellar… My older sister and I carried my baby twin sisters, my mother carried a little suitcase and the bottles with milk for our babies. On the radio we heard with great horror the news: “Attention, a great airraid will come over our town!” … Some minutes later we heard a horrible noise – the bombers. There were nonstop explosions. Our cellar was filled with fire and smoke and was damaged, the lights went out and wounded people shouted dreadfully. In great fear we struggled to leave this cellar…
We did not recognize our street any more. Fire, only fire wherever we looked… It was beyond belief, worse than the blackest nightmare. So many people werehorribly burnt and injured. It became more and more difficult to breathe… Inconceivable panic. Dead and dying people were trampled upon… cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from… The twins had disappeared… we never saw my two babysisters again.
The following morning, a wave of more than 300 United States Army Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers pounded the survivors with over 700 tons of explosives. On February 15, US warplanes bombed the city’s southeastern suburbs,as well as the nearby towns of Meissen and Prina. By the time it was all over,some 250,000 men, women and children were dead and nearly 90 percent of the homes in central Dresden were obliterated. Many of the targets that could have beenconsidered of military interest – a few factories, the railway system – remained relatively unscathed. Nazi military trains were chugging through the city again within three days of the bombing.
‘Are We Beasts?’
British and American officials insisted Dresden was chosen as a target because of its industrial and transportation infrastructure. This is only partially true. On the eve of the bombing, the Red Army was a mere 80 miles (130 km) from Dresden and the US and Britain, knowing that Europe would be carved up between themselves and the Soviets after the war, wanted to impress Stalin with a massiveshow of force. An RAF memo to airmen the night of the attack explained that “the intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feelit most” and “to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Commandcan do.” A few months later, the United States would wage the world’s firstand only nuclear war, obliterating two Japanese cities and killing hundredsof thousands of their people, in what was partlyyet another bid to shock and awe the Soviets.
The Dresden bombing shocked the world’s conscience. Churchill, not known foroutpourings of compassion, was appalled by the savagery of the attack, callingit “an act of terror and wanton destruction.” After seeing photographsof the devastated city, the prime minister asked,”Are we beasts? Are we taking this too far?” In a topsecret memo dated March 28, 1945, he wrote:
It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing ofGerman cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under otherpretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterlyruined land.
Others defended the bombing. “Butcher” Harris acknowledged that “the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stageof the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit thatour earlier attacks were fully justified.” However, he asserted that terrorbombing would “shorten the war and preserve the lives of Allied soldiers.”Harris infamously added:”I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germanyas worth the bones of one British grenadier.”
As many as 600,000 German civilians were killed by Allied bombing over the course of the war. Many of these victims died during the war’s final months,when Germany’s defeat was certain and such slaughter served no valid military purpose. And while the Nazis may have started the air war by bombing British cities, killing 14,000 civilians during the Blitz, the whirlwind they reaped – to paraphrase Harris – was so grossly disproportionate that it would forever stain the Allies’ self-righteous claims of having waged the “lastgood war.”

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

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

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

.
Chapter 83

The storm was increasing its assault on the countryside and the wind chill factor had dropped to below -60°. In Duluth, the roads were so choked with heavy snow that any kind of movement was impossible; the airport had been closed for hours and great heaps of ice were piling up along the shore and the sand islands connecting Duluth with the Wisconsin city of Superior.
A significant number of motorists had been trapped in their cars and frozen to death or suffocated and these fatalities, coupled with deep-frozen livestock, collapsed roofs and disrupted power grids had made the storm the worst in memory.
Although the central heating was working overtime, the temperature inside the house had fallen to 50° and was dropping slowly. In Chuck’s rooms, the roaring fire in the fireplace kept the room reasonably warm but in the large rooms, one could see clouds of steam from their breath and the toilet seats were glacial.
Alex had been quiet for some time and just as Chuck was slowly descending into sleep, he was jolted awake by a poke in the shoulder.
“Jesus…what is it now?”
“Nothing. Can I ask you a question?”
“Try a new approach, kid. Go on.”
“What’s the deal about the dead guy? You said you’d tell me about him.”
“Well, his name was LeBec and he was a professional killer. My uncle hired him to kill me. Satisfied?”
“Why?”
“I think I’ll change your name from Alex to Why. Fine. If my uncle gets rid of me, he gets all of my grandfather’s estate. That’s very simple, isn’t it?”
It wasn’t and it took Chuck about twenty minutes to fill Alex in on the background. He had determined not to tell the boy anything about assassinations, murders or other reasonably common but disturbing acts but he was too tired to keep his resolve.
Alex was fascinated and asked a plethora of questions, all of which were reasonably framed but his very persistence was a source of great annoyance to Chuck.
“Look, Alex, now you know the history of the Rush family so why not just chill out and go to sleep? And why are you so tired? Didn’t you get a good night’s sleep?”
“No, I got to bed late.”
“You usually crash early.”
“I know. I just stayed up for a while.”
“What time did you get to bed?”
“I don’t know. About the time you got back, I guess.”
“Why did you stay up all night?”
Alex said nothing.
“What? I didn’t hear you, Alex.”
“That’s because I didn’t say anything. I was waiting up for you to come home.”
“Jesus, that’s stupid, kid.”
“That’s what you say. I didn’t know where you and Gwen went. Claude said he thought you went to the hospital but I didn’t know why. Your cell phone didn’t answer so I waited up.”
“When did you go to bed?”
“When I heard you open the garage door. I’m not stupid, Chuck, I just was worried.”
Chuck shrugged in the darkness.
“Don’t worry so much, Alex. Next time I’ll tell you where I’m going and leave my cell phone on. Why do you worry?”
“This is the only home I got and I don’t want to get dumped.”
“Who’s going to dump you? Not me.”
“No, you won’t but I don’t know about Gwen. She’d dump me in a minute.”
“She doesn’t run this show, kid, I do and you aren’t going to be dumped. Now let’s talk about something less sad.”
“Like what?”
“Did you get a chance to use the gym in the cellar?”
“I did. Claude got me working out and I know I’ll be real sore tomorrow. I don’t mind it, though. I’m tired of being skinny, Chuck, and maybe I’ll end up looking like Claude.”
“You’ve gained weight since you’ve been here, you know.”
“I know. Almost fifteen pounds but I don’t want to end up being fat like old Ernie. I wonder if they cremated him? I’ll bet he smoked like shit if they did. All that fat and he was sure full of shit.”
“Ernie was Catholic and they don’t like to be turned into a handful of ash. He’s probably turning green right now.”
The storm was now booming around the corners of the house making it difficult to be heard.
There was a soft double knock on the bedroom door.
It turned out to be Claude, wearing a heavy parka, thermal underwear and wool socks. By the light from the fireplace, he was seen to be carrying an armful of split oak logs.
“Can I come in? I got some wood just in case you need it. Nice and warm in here.”
His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he saw two forms in the bed. Since he had just delivered another load of wood to Gwen’s room and managed to wake her up, there were only two choices as to Chuck’s bed partner and Lars was locked in his room.
“If I’m bothering anybody…”
He was speaking in an unnaturally loud voice to be heard over the sound of the wind.
Claude did not like storms because of earlier traumatic experiences and was making every effort to maintain his self-control. If Gwen had invited him to do so, he would have been safely in her bed but her grunted comments precluded any warming activities.
“Not…” said Alex.
“OK. This place is pretty warm. Jesus, it’s colder than a witch’s tit in Alaska in the rest of the house. I went down into the cellar because I thought the furnace had gone shit on me but it’s working away. My God, it’s cold out, guys.”
He put two new logs on the fire and looked at the bed.
“Will it bother you if I get in with you for a few minutes? Just so’s I can warm up a little.”
There were no objections so he got in on the other side of Alex, forcing him to move to the center of the bed.
This annoyed Alex who enjoyed having Chuck to himself but he said nothing.
“Bad outside, guys,” Claude said as he sat back up in bed and pulled off his heavy parka.
“I mean cold…”
Chuck said nothing because he had fallen asleep but Alex was still awake.
“I think you’re scared shitless, Claude.”
“Fuck off, kid. I’m cold, that’s all.”
“It’s warm in here and you’re shaking the bed. Are you scared, Claude?”
“I was caught in a hurricane once, kid, and I almost got killed. I don’t like storms and don’t make fun of me or I’ll clean your clock for you. Jesus, I taught you weight lifting, I listen to you when you come into my room because you’re bored and now you jerk my chain. Doesn’t anything bother you kid?”
“I hate everything, Claude, but you and Chuck. OK?”
“What about your first real fuck, kid?”
“Gwen or my hand?”
“Christ. Gwen?”
“She hates me. Lars is a weird nut and I’d never get in bed with him. He’d probably make me shave my ass and put on one of those training bras and then screw the shit out of me. I want nothing to do with him. What’s so fucking funny?”
Claude had forgotten the storm and was snorting with laughter.
“Alex, you have one hell of a foul mouth on you, do you know that?”
“I sure do. I get it from my evil mom, that’s where it comes from. Listen, Claude, after you screwed her, why didn’t you just knock her out with a lamp or something and leave her in the house when you set it on fire? Why?”
“I don’t murder people, kid.”
“Mercy killing, Claude. Well, you guys killed Ernie and burned the house down so you’re OK anyway. And thanks again for my CDs. I wanted to snuff both of them and I snuck into their room once. Fatass Ernie had his gun on the table and they were both dead drunk so I got the gun and decided I would shoot both of them. I’d shoot Ernie in the balls to make him suffer and my nice mom in the gut. Then I could sit down on the floor and listen to them die.”
Claude sat up briefly.
“Are you serious?”
“I am serious.”
“Why didn’t you do it?”
“Couldn’t figure how to get the gun to fire and Ernie started to wake up so I put the gun back and split. I tell you, if I knew how to work that gun, they’d both be dead and I’d be in the juvenile hall eating cold shit off a tray.”
At this point, Claude began to laugh so hard that he started to cry. He rolled over on his side and hugged Alex.
“Oh Claude, I didn’t know you cared about me! I’m thrilled. Want to kiss me, too?”
“Stop that, Alex.”
He let go of him and rolled across the bed.
“Oh, Claude, you’re a bad boy. I think you want to nail me.”
“Hey! You keep your tongue to yourself or I’ll smack you good!”
“Oh, will you smack me on my bare little ass?”
Claude rolled back and shook Alex roughly.
“Now look, buddy, you’re getting cubic nasty. Why don’t you go to sleep? Do you want me to tell Chuck that you stayed up all night, nervous as a whore in church? Running all over the house?”
“Don’t bother. I already told him just so you wouldn’t. I beat you out Claude.”
“Kid, go to sleep, OK? Jesus, what a nasty guy you can be.”
“Do you still like me, Claude?”
“I like you, kid, but you’re something else sometimes.”
“I know. Ain’t I a badass?”
“Yeah, you are a badass. Do you talk this way to Chuck?”
“Sometimes. I did tonight because I’m pissed off because he took off and didn’t tell me where he was going.”
“You really like him, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t like him. I love him and you shut up.”
There was a long silence as Claude put a pillow over his head to block out the sounds of the wind.
Alex poked him on the arm.
“What?” came the muffled response.
“Hey, Claude, I know you’re not asleep. Listen, what’s this about Chuck’s uncle?”
Claude pushed the pillow away.
“What about his uncle?”
“Is it true his uncle wants to snuff him?”
“Yes, it’s true.”
“You know for sure?”
“Yes, I know some of the people involved. One of them was lying outside in the snow until the bears ate him. And Chuck showed me his fancy little rifle all folded up in its little case.”
“I saw him. Looked really gross. Do you think Chuck will show me the gun sometime? Claude, why doesn’t Chuck kill his uncle first?”
“We considered it but it would be too much of a job. Too much protection and the uncle lives on the top floor of a building in the Loop and almost never comes out.”
“Oh. Doesn’t he ever go anywhere?”
“Not very often. And how would we know about it way up here?”
“Well, if he’s a rich as Chuck says he is, wouldn’t the papers say if he was going to the opera or skiing or something?”
“Probably.”
“Then we should read the papers and see.”
“Alex, right now I am not really up to talking about this. Right now, most of this area and probably most of Chicago is covered with snow. Maybe we should wait for spring.”
“How far away is that?”
“A month or two. Hey, now let me try to sleep, OK?”
“Fine. We can talk about this later.”

(Continued)

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

The Encyclopedia of American Loons
Dave Miller

Dave Miller is the Executive Director of Apologetics Press, a creationist organization locked in ferocious war with the world of science, evidence and facts, and trying to publish various interpretations of the world that could hopefully serve as alternative narratives to those who don’t look too hard and don’t care too much about evidence. Miller assumed his role after the longterm director of the press, Bert Thompson, was fired amid allegations of sexual misconduct. (More on the organization and the Thompson incident here.)
When taking over the organization Miller stated that he intended to continue the fight against science “undaunted by Satan,” thanking Thompson [they tend to refer to each other as “Dr.”, though their degrees are of course junk bestowed upon them for money by intellectually bankrupt Bible colleges] for his “longstanding warfare against the sinister doctrine of evolution, with his eloquent affirmation of the biblical account of Creation.” This is a battle of good versus evil, you understand, where science is not on the good side. “Truth is truth, even if those who defend it eventually succumb to personal sin,” writes Miller. Except if the truth does not conform to what Miller wants it to be, of course. Then it’s different.
Miller has written numerous articles and books, including The Quran Unveiled, Sexual Anarchy, Piloting the Strait, The Silencing of God, Christ and the Continental Congress, Why People Suffer, and a series of books ostensibly to teach children how to read (avoid!). Otherwise, he is a staple on various tv shows and an active speaker offering to rant and rave about a range of topics from a fundamentalist, theocratic point of view. Titles for his talks include “The Silencing of God: The Dismantling of America’s Christian Heritage”, “Can We Know that God Exists?” and “The End Times”. You’ve probably heard most of the relevant arguments and claims before, in one form or another.
Miller was also for instance involved in the admittedly obscure “Campaign: Capitol Hill”, organized by one Jake Sutton, which sought to bring “pastors from Churches of Christ to preach at the nation’s capital” against secularism, tolerance and facts.
Diagnosis: Theocratic, lunatic moron, and what’s truly scary is that Miller and people like him actually wield a bit of influence. Frightening stuff.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is an Instructor for Campus Harvest, “a division of Every Nation Ministries, a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability,” and travels around giving lectures on science “from a faith perspective”, such as “Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ” (this is relevant). Now, Miller does have a PhD in physics, which – despite being utterly irrelevant to evolutionary biology – ensures that he is touted as a genuine scientist by creationists, given the obvious dearth of people with genuine credentials among their ranks. Miller is for instance a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. Of course, apart from a couple of letters and workshop presentations coauthored with his advisor during his student days, we have found no real research record and hence no indication that Miller is actually a scientistin any legitimate sense of the word. You can see Brian Miller discuss Intelligent Design with pastor Ron Lewis here. The advertisement reads: “Still confused if Darwinism is a fact or a theory? Is Science the friend or foe of your faith? Actually, an old adage says, ‘a little of Science can harm a person’s faith, but a lot of Science will bring him or her right back to God.’”
More recently, Miller has written extensively for the creationist blog Evolution News and Views. As you’d expect, the writings mostly recycles creationist PRATTs. There is a thorough criticism of some of Miller’s posts here.
Pseudoscientist, denialist, fundamentalist, and Diagnosis:conspiracy theorist. One of many, but unlike most Miller could, given his legitimate credentials, be confused for someone with something worthwhile to say (and the DiscoTute apparently wants to make damn sure that such confusions happen). He isn’t. Move on.

Austin Miles

Rev. Austin Miles is a paranoid idiot writing for Alan Keyes’s website Renew America. Miles is a 1950s throwback red-scare conspiracy theorist and the kind of person who, in 2014, would assert that Obama were going to cancel the 2016 elections as part of his plot to turn America into a Marxist dictatorship: “This has been planned for a long, long time. One thing about the Communists, they are very patient as they quietly work toward the completion of a definitive goal ahead,” says Miles. The patience of communism is, of course, all the evidence he presented, as well as all the evidence he needed. The goal in question is “to see America turned into a Marxist Socialist Nation controlled by Communist Czars – and did you notice that the word ‘Czar’ was never used in regards to government officer titles in the United States until Obama was placed on the throne? That term was only used in Communist Russia.” As a matter of fact, on the other hand, the term has been used at least since Nixon, and annoying people who actually learned something in elementary school might point out that communist Russia had little love for “czars”. Details.
Presumably, communism is a black people thing. “The Communists are scheming for the Ferguson, Missouri incident to be the fuse that explodes into a national race riot. That is what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are hoping to accomplish,” says Miles. And you might have wondered, like Miles, how zeh communists managed “to keep Obama’s birth certificate and university papers (which listed him as a ‘foreign student’) out of sight” (Miles is of course a birther). Well, you see, zeh Communists have “slowly managed to work their way into key positions in the U.S. Government, corporations, the schools, and even the churches. They were in a position to block any inquiries about Obama and to humiliate anyone who suggested that his paper work was flawed.” It is “no secret that Obama’s sponsors and pushers were and are, The Communist Party USA (CPUSA). These days, what was once kept in secret, is now in the open. They have inserted themselves into every facet of American Life and can gang up on critics or questioners. They also control the media.” The idea that the CPUSA controls the media and the White House is arguably even more insane than the idea that it is controlled by bands of extraterrestrial chickens in human-flesh suits.
Here is Miles hysterically reporting that Obama “according to news reports, spent his 4th of July at a Mosque and invited Muslims to be with him at the White House.” The news reports in question were the rather obviously satirical National Report. And “[w]hat did Joan Rivers mean when she called Obama Gay and Michelle Trans on national TV? Actually that idea has been bandied about for some time. There will no doubt be more to come. It is interesting to Google the name, Michael LaVaughn Robinson who was born in Chicago along with Michelle Obama. The world gets nuttier every day,” says Miles, citing similar sources; the irony being of course completely lost on him. It’s not Miles only foray into fake news.
Well, in 2015 he put it all together. Apparently he had worked on this for a while, so let’s let him state it in his own words: “Obama is not clinically insane but has been specifically programmed by his Communist handlers along with his Muslim allies to take America over the cliff. […] Obama is totally controlled as an authentic Manchurian Candidate. Obama’s importance to The Party is that he is the one tool created by the Communist Party to destroy America, the last country standing in the way of a Marxist-led One World Order. He was the handpicked candidate to bringing America down. This is precisely why he is he so important in history and remains so calm and poised in all situations. Obama and the Party have conducted many rehearsals to prepare for the take-over which will be accomplished in the early part of November 2016. The first rehearsal was when the Communists and Muslims, who had deftly shoehorned their way into government offices by deceit and voter fraud, put him the Oval Office. He would not show his birth certificate, or any information about his real identity including his educational records which shows conclusively that he was here on a foreign student visa. All of that was sealed. […] The rehearsal was to determine if the Congress, Senate, Speaker of The House or Sgt. At-Arms would have him removed. Those spineless jelly fish sat quietly with no questions or hearings. The next rehearsal was to see if Obama could make Marxist statements with his exact intentions with no push back reaction. Check: Rehearsal Went Well. The final rehearsal will be the early part of November, 2016 when Obama intends to use Executive Order to declare himself president (dictator) for life.”
Part of the plot is, of course, to confiscate guns, and the push for doing so is underway. “First of all, I am convinced that these mass killings were purposely orchestrated for this very purpose, to disarm all Americans to retard resistance. Notice how the mentally ill (or just disturbed) perpetrated these shootings. They could easily be brainwashed into carrying out such deeds […]. Then when Obama makes his move in 2016, he can waltz to the throne with no push back.” One hitch, though, is that Obama is going to die himself: “Obama has already rehearsed the nosedive of America to destruction. What he does not seem to realize, is that as millions of Americans die while the plane crashes, Obama will be among the dead. He is too blinded and stupid to consider that.”
In short, “[t]he sub-human creature called Obama, can rightfully be identified as a charismatic monster that rose straight from the pits of hell. From hell did he come and to hell shall he return,” says Miles.
Miles is also a creationist, of course, and has written columns mocking the Big Bang Theory and calling Carl Sagan “corrupt”. He nevertheless quote-mines Sagan to make his “points”, which do not, shall we say, reveal profound insights into biology, cosmology or science in general.
Diagnosis: Has been described as the Platonic ideal of deranged wingnut idiocy. So there’s that. His audience is probably fairly limited, but that it exists at all is pretty frightening.

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