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TBR News February 19, 2020

Feb 19 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 19, 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 19: ‘Yesterday I was talking with an old friend living in California. Interesting conversation. He is from Beijing and has excellent connections with people there.
He was explaining to me what lay behind the nonsensical ‘coronavirus’ scam and it made so much sense, I discussed it later with another friend who works at altitude in the Pentagon.
It hit home there so today, I will publish it for fun and possibly the enlightenment of a few others.
The coronavirus is real.
It is typical of annual eruptions of various animal-culltivated viruses such as swine-flu. It is relatively harmless but very easily spread from human to human.
What lies behind the frenzy of negative publicity is a strong Chinese aversion to Donald Trump and his furious and always-irrational attacks on anyone who dares to contradict him.
He has been alternately screaming at the PRC, sanctioning them, threatening them, then promising he might be nice to them.
The Chinese have had enough of him so then the pulled off a slick trick on Fat Donny.
The new flu suddenly assumed a world-wide menace appearance and this was with the assistance of those portions of the media that were influenced by the PRC.
Money was of considerable assistance in this influence.
Using the flu as an excuse, China stopped production in most of their plants who supplied American business with goods.
Electronic parts, machine parts represent the most damaging interdiction but also there is a halt in the production of hundeds of retail items that now flood the American marketplace.
If American business howls because they are losing huge amounts of income daily, the pious Chinese can say that as much as they would like to maintain production levels, this terrible disease has to get under control before they can allow the work forces to return to their jobs,.
Who can argue with this thesis?
Trump?
As stupid as he is, what can he say?
Eventually the dread flu will shrink and then the factories can resume work again. This is a warning shot to Trump to behave himself or even worse might follow.
The Chinese have timed this perfectly.
Not too close to the November elections and just far enough away to warn Trump to mind his manners or face economic chaos at home.
Just before the election.”

The Table of Contents
• Exclusive: Ahead of 2020 election, a ‘Blue Wave’ is rising in the cities, polling analysis shows
• Donald Trump Falsely Claims He’s The ‘Chief Law Enforcement Officer’ Of U.S. As He Goes On Pardon Spree
• Barr reportedly considers quitting as attorney general over Trump tweets
• An Illegal Assassination and the Lawless President
• TOR, Psiphon, Signal and Co.: How to move unrecognized on the internet
• The Crooked Cross
• The Season of Evil
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Exclusive: Ahead of 2020 election, a ‘Blue Wave’ is rising in the cities, polling analysis shows
If the trend lasts until Election Day on Nov. 3, it would be a reversal from the 2016 election when rural turnout outpaced voting in urban areas, helping Trump narrowly win the White House.
February 19,2020
by Chris Kahn
Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) – As Republican President Donald Trump seeks a second term in November, Americans’ interest in voting is growing faster in large cities dominated by Democrats than in conservative rural areas, according to an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos national opinion polls.
If the trend lasts until Election Day on Nov. 3, it would be a reversal from the 2016 election when rural turnout outpaced voting in urban areas, helping Trump narrowly win the White House.
The finding, based on responses from more than 88,000 U.S. adults who took the online poll from August to December 2015 or from August to December 2019, suggests that the “Blue Wave,” a swell of anti-Trump activism that followed his entry into the White House in 2017, is still rolling across the country’s largest population centers.
Even as Trump commands rock-solid support among Republicans, voters’ interest in going to the polls appears to be growing faster among those who disapprove of Trump than among those who approve of him, according to experts who reviewed the data.
The advantage in urban political engagement extends deep into the most competitive battleground states that Trump won by razor-thin margins four years ago, the data shows.
In large urban areas of the upper Midwest, a region that includes swing states Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, the number of people who said they were “certain” to vote in the upcoming presidential election rose by 10 percentage points to 67% compared with survey responses from 2015.
In smaller upper Midwest communities, the number of people similarly dedicated to voting rose by only about 1 point to 60% in that same four-year period.
Overall, the number of “certain” voters rose by 7 percentage points nationally from 2015 to 2019. It increased by more than that in the largest metropolitan areas, rising by 9 points in communities with between 1 million and 5 million people and 8 points in metros with at least 5 million people.
Smaller and rural communities lagged behind. The number of “certain” voters rose by 5 points in sparsely populated, Republican-dominated “non-metro” areas.
MOMENTUM ON BOTH SIDES?
The rise in urban political engagement helped Democrats win political victories last year, including governor’s races in conservative-leaning Kentucky and Louisiana.
It may have also contributed to elevated voting levels in some of the more heavily populated communities and college towns in Iowa and New Hampshire, which held their presidential nominating contests earlier this month.
“Democrats are very angry,” said Nicholas Valentino, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, who reviewed some of the poll findings for Reuters.
“Many see this administration as an existential threat to the constitutional order. They’re standing ready to participate to try to change the course of this country.”
To be sure, a lot can happen this year to change the public’s interest in voting.
“Republicans are fired up as well” after the Democratic-led House of Representatives tried to remove Trump through impeachment, said Bryon Allen, chief research officer at WPA Intelligence, a conservative political consulting firm that works with dozens of Republican congressional candidates.
In last week’s New Hampshire Republican primary, 151,011 people showed up to support Trump even though he had no significant competition, a turnout that easily surpassed the number who participated in previous primaries when former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sought re-election.
“Democrats can’t just assume that if they drive up turnout in the suburbs that they’ll win,” said Joe Lenski, co-founder of exit polling firm Edison Research. “Trump can drive up turnout in small towns and rural areas to counteract that.”
‘JUST WANT TO BEAT TRUMP’
While voting has been higher this year in Democratic presidential nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, experts say at least some of that is due to population growth.
Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who studies voter turnout, said a lot of Democrats also may be sitting out the primaries “because they don’t see a lot of distinction between these candidates.”
When Trump gets on the ballot in November, McDonald said: “There will be much sharper interest in voting.”
By Election Day, McDonald expects as many as two-thirds of the voting-age population may cast ballots, a record level of participation for a U.S. presidential election.
That would be up from 60.1% turnout among eligible voters in 2016, and it would surpass a generational high point of 63.8% turnout recorded in 1960, according to McDonald’s U.S. Elections Project.
Mary Lou Seamon, 67, of Knoxville, Tennessee, will be one of millions who expect to take part after sitting out the last election. The retired social services worker said none of the candidates, especially Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, excited her four years ago.
Seamon admired Trump, at least initially, for his experience as a businessman. But her opinions soured once Trump took office and she became determined to vote him out around the time Trump attacked former Senator John McCain after the death of the former war hero in 2018.
On Election Day, Seamon will vote for any Democrat, no matter who wins the nomination.
“I just want to beat Trump.”
MEASURING THE WAVE
The Reuters/Ipsos poll, which is conducted online and administered throughout the United States, started asking American adults in 2012 to rate their overall level of interest in voting in upcoming general elections.
Poll respondents were asked to rate their level of engagement on a scale of one to 10, with one meaning they were certain not to vote and 10 meaning they were certain to participate.
It gathered 53,394 responses in the last five months of 2015 and 35,271 responses in the same part of 2019.
Using the zip codes provided by the respondents, Ipsos split the survey by the population size of the community that people lived in. Both regionally and nationally, the analysis showed, political engagement increased the most from 2015 to 2019 in large urban areas and the least in non-metropolitan areas.
It was the same when grouping just those states where the margin of victory is expected be closest this year.
In a “battleground” region that included Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona and Colorado, the number of “certain” voters rose by 9 percentage points in large metropolitan areas that have a population of at least 5 million, and 8points in areas with 1 to 5 million, while it rose by 4 points in smaller, non-metros.
Among those living in the Upper Midwest, a region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, the poll found a jump in political engagement in some of the same urban areas where Democrats fell short in 2016.
Altogether, 67% of people living in metro areas of at least 1 million people rated themselves as a “10” or “certain to vote” in the 2019 poll. That is up by about 10 percentage points from 2015.
In comparison, 63% of those who lived in smaller communities of less than 1 million rated themselves as similarly certain to vote, which is up 2 points from 2015.
Trump won Michigan and Wisconsin by less than 40,000 votes combined, in part because of depressed turnout in Wayne County, Michigan, and Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin.
In the Southeast, voter engagement is surging in large metros like Miami-Dade in South Florida and Atlanta where Democrats outnumber Republicans by double-digit margins.
In 2019, about 60% said they were certain to vote in the presidential election, up 8 points from 2015. In metros with less than 1 million people, 64% said they were certain to vote, up by 7 points. In smaller non-metropolitan areas, the number of people who were locked in on voting rose by 6 points from 2015 to 60%.
The poll found that 65% of residents in the Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City and other big Southwestern metro areas planned to vote in the upcoming election. That is up by 9 percentage points from 2015. Political engagement rose by nearly the same amount – 8 points – in smaller metros, but it was unchanged in rural areas of the Southwest.
The presidential race may be especially competitive this year in Arizona and Colorado. Trump is expected to win Utah, and New Mexico is considered a reliably safe state for Democrats.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney

Donald Trump Falsely Claims He’s The ‘Chief Law Enforcement Officer’ Of U.S. As He Goes On Pardon Spree
Febuary 18, 2020
by Kristine Lofgren
Inquister
Donald Trump has taken heat in recent days for allegedly interfering in Roger Stone’s court case. Adding to that, on Tuesday, the president issued numerous pardons for public figures such as Rod Blagojevich and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. In a seeming defense of his actions, Trump told reporters that he was the “chief law enforcement officer of the country.”
According to a video posted on Twitter by Vox reporter Aaron Rupar, Trump was asked by reporters as he was departing to California whether he had asked Attorney General William Barr to step in and reduce the sentence for Stone, a long-time Trump associate. In response, he said that he hadn’t directed Barr, but that he may do something of that nature in the future.
“I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved,” he said. “I could be involved if I wanted to be.”
The Attorney General is usually referred to as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, while the president is the commander-in-chief of the military. Historically, the White House and Department of Justice have long maintained a wall between them in order to prevent the appearance of impropriety.
While the DOJ may advise the president about issues facing the department, the attorney general does not traditionally work with the president to determine sentencing and which cases to intervene in.
But recently, Trump wrote a tweet complaining about the recommended sentence for Stone, who was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering. Shortly after the tweet, Barr intervened to have Stone’s sentence reduced. After the intervention, Trump congratulated Barr on the decision.
While both Barr and Trump maintain that they didn’t work together, many critics have raised concerns about the appearance of the matter, and the four attorneys prosecuting Stone resigned from the case in protest. One left the DOJ all-together.
Since then, thousands of Department of Justice officials have signed on to an open letter calling for Barr’s resignation.
Trump was asked to weigh on his decision to commute the sentence for Blagojevich, who was found guilty of corruption for trying to sell former President Obama’s Senate seat, and has served half of a 14-year sentence. Blagojevich was a former contestant on Trump’s show “The Apprentice.”
It was a prosecution by the same people — Comey, Fitzpatrick — the same group,” Trump claimed in defending his decision.
Trump also pardoned ex-49ers owner DeBartolo Jr., who was convicted of gambling fraud.

Barr reportedly considers quitting as attorney general over Trump tweets
Revelation comes days after Barr took swipe at president over apparent intervention in Roger Stone case
February 18, 2020
by Maanvi Singh and agencies
The Guardian
The attorney general, William Barr, has told people close to him he is considering quitting his post, after Donald Trump failed to heed his warning to stop tweeting about justice department cases, administration officials told the Washington Post and Associated Press.
The revelation came days after Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about justice department cases and staffers made it “impossible” for him to do his job. The next day, Trump ignored Barr’s request and insisted that he had the “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases and sidestep the department’s historical independence.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he was considering suing those involved in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and opined that his confidant Roger Stone deserved a new trial after being convicted of witness tampering and obstruction.
The president also claimed, falsely, that he was “the chief law enforcement officer” of the US. In fact, as attorney general, Barr is the chief law enforcement officer in the federal government.
Barr, serving his second stint as attorney general, has sought to paint himself as an independent leader who will not bow to political pressure. But Democrats have repeatedly accused him of acting more like the president’s personal attorney than the attorney general. Barr has proved to be a largely reliable Trump ally and defender of presidential power.
A week ago, after Trump tweeted criticism of federal prosecutors’ recommendation that Stone should be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison, Barr intervened and reduced the recommendation. Barr’s claim that he had decided to make the change before Trump weighed in was met with skepticism. Four career prosecutors quit the case as a result; one of them left the federal government entirely.
Over the weekend, 2,000 former justice department employees signed a letter urging Barr to resign over his handling of the Stone case. In response, a stream of Trump allies, including Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, have issued statements expressing their full confidence in the Barr. But Trump has a low tolerance for criticism, especially public criticism, from his allies and often fires back in kind.
Trump conceded to reporters earlier on Tuesday that he did make Barr’s job “harder” but said he had “total confidence” in his attorney general. It is unclear whether Barr has made Trump aware that he is considering leaving his post, or how seriously he is considering leaving.

An Illegal Assassination and the Lawless President
February 15, 2020
by Daniel Larison
The American Conservative
The Trump administration’s legal justification for the Soleimani assassination is as preposterous as you would expect it to be:
The White House delivered its legal justification for the January airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, arguing that President Donald Trump was authorized to take the action under the Constitution and 2002 legislation authorizing the Iraq war.
The administration is no longer pretending that the assassination had anything to do with stopping an “imminent” attack. They no longer claim that this is why the assassination was ordered. That by itself is a remarkable admission of the illegality of the strike. If there was no “imminent” attack, the U.S. was taking aggressive action against a high-ranking official from another country. There is no plausible case to be made that this was an act of self-defense. Not only did the president lack the authority to do this on his own, but it would have been illegal under international law even if he had received approval from Congress before doing it. The administration spent weeks hiding behind the “imminent” attack lie because without it there was no justification for what they did.
Abandoning the “imminent” attack claim also means that the administration is trying to lower the bar for carrying out future strikes against Iran and its proxies. Ryan Goodman points this out in his analysis of the administration’s statements:
The absence of an imminent threat is relevant not only to the legal and policy basis for the strike on Jan. 2. It is also relevant for potential future military action. The administration’s position appears to boil down to an assertion that it can use military force against Iran without going to Congress even if responding to a threat from Iran that is not urgent or otherwise imminent.
In short, Trump and his officials want to make it easier for them to commit acts of war against both Iran and Iraqi militias.
Trying to distort the 2002 Iraq war AUMF to cover the assassination of an Iranian official just because he happened to be in Iraq at the time is ridiculous. Congress passed the disgraceful 2002 AUMF to give George W. Bush approval to attack and overthrow the Iraqi government. That did not and does not give later presidents carte blanche to use force in Iraq in perpetuity whenever they feel like it. The fact that they are resorting to such an obviously absurd argument shows that they know they don’t have a leg to stand on. The Soleimani strike was illegal and unconstitutional, and there is not really any question about it. The administration’s own justification condemns them.
The president’s lawlessness in matters of war underscores why it is necessary for Congress to reassert its proper constitutional role. The Senate passed S.J.Res. 68, the Tim Kaine-sponsored war powers resolution, by a vote of 55-45 to make clear that the president does not have authorization for any further military action against Iran:
In a bipartisan rebuke of President Trump on Thursday, a Senate majority voted 55 to 45 to block the president from taking further military action against Iran — unless first authorized by Congress. Eight GOP senators joined every Democrat to protest the president’s decision to kill a top Iranian commander without complying with the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
The president has already said that he will veto the resolution, just as he vetoed the antiwar Yemen resolution last year. He is proving once again beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has no respect for the Constitution or Congress’ role in matters of war.

TOR, Psiphon, Signal and Co.: How to move unrecognized on the internet
Dictatorships and online services collect all kinds of data. Many users have no access at all to the free network. Here are a few tips on how to navigate the internet safely and anonymously and how to avoid censorship
February 17, 2020
by Fabian Schmidt
DW
How do I become visible to others on the internet?
Basically, all internet traffic is visible to everyone who has access to the servers through which it flows — just as a postcard can be read by any mail carrier.
A lot of data can reveal your identity. First, there is the IP address of your computer. But nowadays, users are also often recognized by other data from their computers: unique properties of browser plugins, screen resolution, window size, language, time. Very precise user fingerprints can be created that make someone recognizable to a web server to 98%, even without an IP address.
If a regime blocks certain websites, how can I still access them?
In the past, only static proxies were used. Often, it was just simple IP addresses that forwarded internet traffic. This worked as long as the censors didn’t notice or know the proxies. In the meantime, however, many states have begun to block all proxies they disapprove of.
Proxies can also be used to conceal from the operators of websites where a visit is coming from. For this, you can take the detour via Anonymouse or a variety of similar anonymization services.
How do I build a tunnel?
Virtual private networks (VPN) are somewhat more complex. To do make use of them, you set up an encrypted tunnel connection to a server, for example in another country. No one can look into the tunnel. With VPNs, companies do things like establish a secure connection between their employees and the internal company network.
The tunnel can also be used to access the free internet from a censored area. But censorship authorities can see that it is a VPN connection and who operates it. Today, censorship regimes have become much more attentive and block static proxies relatively quickly. Moreover, proxies do not offer anonymity. VPN networks are also often forbidden. So you have to come up with something new, such as the TOR network.
What is TOR?
TOR means “The Onion Router.” It’s built like an onion — in layers. TOR helps to hide your identity. You are not directly connected to the server from which you want to retrieve information by the shortest route. Instead, Tor connects you using detours: so-called TOR nodes.
Each of these TOR nodes lays its own encryption layer over the browser behavior so that the other Tor nodes can’t read it, either. This makes surfing very secure.
Can I access all web pages with the TOR browser?
There are special TOR websites with so-called onion services. Deutsche Welle also provides such a service.
These services are very secure. However, you can also access all other normal websites with the TOR browser. At that moment, you leave the TOR network and anonymity is somewhat limited, but the operator of the website that you are visiting cannot recognize either your IP address or any unique features of your browser, because TOR suppresses this information.
So you can’t tell who I am, but you can tell what I’m doing?
A censor can recognize what the internet traffic basically looks like, but can’t necessarily glean any information from it. That’s why TOR has evolved.
To circumvent censorship, TOR has developed so-called “pluggable transports.” These make internet traffic appear completely different than it really is. For example, if someone surfs websites, it may look like a video conference, normal email traffic or something else. It also changes back and forth all the time. This makes it more difficult for censors to follow the surfing process.
Can censorship authorities outwit pluggable transports?
If the censorship authorities suspect that they are seeing TOR traffic veiled by a pluggable transport, they may send their own traffic to see how the server responds.
If the traffic is disguised as a video conference, they can see whether the server is also responding like a video conference server. Because the server then responds differently, however, the regime will probably disconnect you.
How do I get into the TOR network from a country with censorship?
People who live in countries where the internet is censored need “bridges.” These lead to the known entry nodes to the Tor network, which are usually blocked by the regimes.
Every TOR user can provide a bridge, making their own machine a virtual entry point. So as many people as possible who live in countries with free internet should do this, because then people in countries with censored internet have many different possibilities for getting into the TOR network.
What do I do as a layperson if I want to use TOR?
It’s very simple: On the website of the TOR project, the current Firefox-based TOR browser for each operating system is available for download. The browser can then be used like a normal browser. The only difference is that the user is anonymous.
What do I have to consider if I live in a censored country?
It is important to make the correct settings in the TOR browser if you want to avoid censorship. Unfortunately, the settings are somewhat hard to find in the Firefox browser. There is a special TOR area in the settings. During the TOR installation, the browser asks once if you are in a censored country. If you confirm this, the pluggable transport is loaded automatically.
The pluggable transports can also be downloaded in the existing TOR browser settings. The bridges are also loaded; the TOR browser searches for current bridges itself. The settings for automatically receiving new bridges are located where you also set the pluggable transports: If the first bridge doesn’t work, the browser takes the second bridge, and so on.
As a user in a free country, how can I support people in censored countries?
If you live in a non-censored country, TOR will ask you if you want to provide a bridge. It is possible that internet speed will suffer a little., but with today’s fast internet connections, that’s probably not such an issue anymore.
To provide a large number of bridges, there is the project ‘Snowflake.’ How does it work?
Snowflake is a project where all users with normal Chrome or Firefox browsers can provide bridges. You don’t need a TOR yourself.
The inventors hope that as many users as possible will provide such bridges. The project is called Snowflake because the bridge exists only as long as someone is surfing. Then the snowflake melts away and is no longer recognizable.
Do I have to accept restrictions when surfing with TOR?
You have to accept that there is less comfort. In the default setting, for example, Javascript is suppressed and cookies are not saved. This means that the browser does not store any passwords and does not fill out any forms in advance.
There are also websites or entire infrastructure operators who do not want any traffic from the TOR network because they fear that it could be dangerous or dubious. But now, even the internet giants are realizing that TOR traffic is not evil per se.
How great is the danger that I, as a TOR user, will be caught by the regime?
Traffic to the bridge may be identified. Normally, the traffic is simply stalled and blocked. But there is a danger that the authorities will continue to investigate the user.
Security Check: Biometrics vs Passwords
What is the difference between the darknet and TOR?
The darknet uses the TOR protocol. But not everyone who uses TOR is part of the darknet. Facebook, The New York Times, the BBC and Deutsche Welle also use TOR.
So TOR is not a place for illegal activities, but a protocol for anonymizing those who have a legitimate interest in it.
There are other tools to circumvent censorship, such as Psiphon. What is that?
Psiphon is a commercial provider from Canada that has been working with media like Deutsche Welle for a long time and has created a product for the needs of the free media.
Psiphon offers apps and computer programs in which different censorship avoidance mechanisms are tried out one after the other. Different servers, proxy servers, VPN technologies and so on are used.
If you use Psiphon via Deutsche Welle, you will see the DW website and can then use any other website on the free internet, too.
How do I get to Psiphon as a user?
Psiphon helps DW to provide the download source for the program or app. They lie in the cloud, as the censorship regimes cannot afford to block the big cloud services because the collateral damage would be too great. If you want to use Psiphon, you should contact Deutsche Welle directly at dw-w@psiphon3.com.
Are there also secure messaging services?
Many people use instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, Facebook’s messenger service. But this service, for example, has fallen into disrepute because it reads the phone books of its users and it is not clear where the data ends up. More secure is a free app called Signal.
DNA data storage
With it, you can not only chat securely but also make phone calls. And there is a desktop application for the computer. In contrast to other services, the source code for Signal is open, meaning that IT secu
Are there search engines that respect privacy?
Yes, they do exist — search engines that unlike Google or Bing do not collect, store and process the IP addresses of their users. Then there is also no annoying, personal advertising. These search engines are called DuckDuckGo or Startpage.
What are add-ons for the browser?
Those include other tools to make browsing safer. These include add-ons that block cookies, trackers or scripts such as Java. Examples are uBlock Origin or the Privacy Badger. They are installed via the browser settings.

The Crooked Cross
A history of fake Nazi relics
by Gregory Douglas
During the bombing raids of the Second World War, the Marienkirche at Lübeck in Germany was severely damaged by fire. German churches always seemed to draw the attention of Allied bombers and the Marienkirche was no exception.
An inspection of the damaged church disclosed what appeared to be thirteenth century fresco hidden behind layers of whitewash and after the war, the German authorities commenced a restoration of the church. A number of frescos were worked on by one Dietrich Fey, a prominent restoration specialist and he and his assistant, Lothar Malskat, performed miracles and disclosed an entire church filled with magnificent religious frescos. Amidst great public ceremony, the church was reopened and the magnificent old frescos even became the subject of German postage stamps.
Herr Malskat, annoyed because of the public glory heaped upon Fey, confessed to forging the entire pantheon of saints. It seems that only fragments of the originals remained and creativity replaced objectivity to the delight of many and the enrichment of a few.
The two forgers were promptly jailed but someone remembered the frescos in the cathedral in Schleswig and decided that Malskat had copied the frescos in the cloister of that building. Unfortunately, it turned out that Malskat had done these too but before the war in 1938!
In the main, fraud, counterfeiting and deceit are certainly immoral and very often felonious but in some instances, the essential ludicrous nature of some frauds manages to overcome the gravity.
Such is the case of the enormous industry devoted to the creation, manufacture and sale of faked items of German militaria from the Third Reich period.
Fraud and deceit are certainly not limited to this area and the marketplace in fine art is awash in a sea of swindlers but at least an art forger is not apt to paint a medieval prince wearing a modern baseball hat and standing in front of a McDonalds’ restaurant.
There is an abiding fascination with the trappings of the Third Reich but the number of actual relics is much smaller than a burgeoning demand. Nature abhors a vacuum and if original pieces are no longer available, the vacuum is filled with creations to satisfy the demand.
Not only are legitimate pieces of German militaria copied and marketed, a number of outrageous fantasy pieces have also been created and merchandised like the Reverend Ernie’s Holy Healing Cloths on Christian television stations.
There is an interesting parallel here between the manufacture and sale of Nazi relics and the manufacture or misidentification of relics of the Catholic church.
In the latter we can find the knuckle bones of a pig being passed off as having once been a part of Saint Rosa of Compostella or the ever-popular St. Nicholas. Expert study has clearly proven that the notorious Shroud of Turin is a 13th Century fake and it has been said that there are enough pieces of the True Cross around to build a small hotel.
At St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna, we can view the skull of the saint but in the church at St. Polten, we can see the skull of St. Stephen as a 15 year old boy!
The author of this work is a pragmatist, not a moralist. Fraud and chicanery are the hallmarks of any marketplace, be it Wall Street, Carnaby Street or the Intenet auctions. The information in this study did not come to the author second-handed. It reflects, in small measure, his own personal experiences.
As a collector, the author was victimized on a regular basis by both the collecting fraternity and the merchandisers. Deciding that it was far more blessed to give than to receive, (and far more profitable) your author eventually did to the dealers and advanced collectors what they had done to him.
It has been a long and very profitable experience. Perpetrating massive frauds on defrauders can be very entertaining. The pomposity of most of these individuals is matched only by their colossal stupidity and it is amazing that so many of these creatures are able to find either end of themselves in a dark room or, as the author’s sainted Granny used to say, ‘Too lazy to work, too stupid to steal and completely unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
The easiest person to defraud is a crook. It has been said that you cannot cheat an honest man and this may well be true. Never having met any such individuals during a long and successful career, the validity of this statement is unproved to the author.
The hallmark of the German military collectors is, in the main, a fascination with a period they are constantly reminded is the very essence of terrible evil. In spite of countless reams of utter nonsense produced about German wickedness (as opposed to American, British or Russian asocial behavior) German items are far more in demand that anything else and of all the items most sought after and commanding the highest prices are relics of the awful SS.
So much for failed propaganda which has only made its sworn enemy so attractive.
One dealer bought the iron gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp from a Polish scrap dealer and tried to sell them to the American Holocaust Museum. They were most eager to obtain this dubious relic but on principle (or perhaps because of a lack of it) absolutely refused to pay for the massive entrance to their netherworld.. A tax-free gift would be much more to their liking but the greedy and uncharitable dealer merely cut the gates into small pieces and sold these off like souvenirs of the Berlin Wall (or fragments of the True Cross).
Eventually, the prices on Third Reich relics reached such a level that frustrated collectors turned to such relatively worthless items as American uniforms or East German NVA items. This is called bottom-feeding in the trade. If one American army jacket cost ten dollars with all insignia, think of how happy the collector will be when he informed his collector friends that he now had seventy five ten dollar tunics, eighteen American army helmets at twenty dollar apiece and over two hundred pairs of old boots that a used clothing dealer gave him to keep the rats from nesting in them.
Having started out to teach crooked dealers and collectors a very well-deserved lesson, the author learned so much about the dirty back alleys of the marketplace that he branched out into the field of Fine Art. This is a much more respectable field than the selling of Hermann Göring’s Damascus Ear Wax Picks.
Aside from several individuals in England, there The faking of German swords and daggers began in the early 1960’s when an enterprising American, Lt. Col James Atwood, once of the United States Army and later of the Central Intelligence Agency, then resident in Germany, went to the German city of Solingen and bought up as many bits and pieces of Third Reich German daggers and swords as he could find. The great majority of these surplus pieces were factory rejects. Missing parts were newly manufactured and the completed items were sold as “parts daggers.”
As the original parts were exhausted, new ones were made until, in the end, the entire dagger was constructed of totally fake parts.
Not satisfied with copying pieces which did exist prior to the end of the war, unscrupulous dealers began to invent items which did not such as the “Himmler Damascus Presentation Letter Opener” and the NSKK “prototype” dagger and to put these into books allegedly produced as “historical reference” works.
An enterprising English author of a work on fake daggers once grafted a poor copy of a rare “diplomatic bayonet” grip onto a pre-Third Reich police bayonet, without bothering to remove the police markings from the scabbard. Although the hilt was crude and the fit was terrible, this piece was sold to a California collector for over $7,000 and is to be found in a standard reference work as “the only known example” of a very rare item. After the death of the owner, it was resold for $15,000.
It is, however, in the area of fantasy pieces that the great bulk of the fakes are to be found.
For instance, the so-called “Göring Wedding Sword” was hand-crafted by the Solingen firm of Carl Eichhorn (before it was closed for fraud) at the order of an American dealer, James P. Atwood, a Berlin-based CIA agent, in the early 1960’s, conveniently “discovered” in the hands of a willing ex-GI friend and, after considerable helpful publicity in several books, sold and subsequently resold for bigger and bigger profits.
The original of this sword, presented to General Göring by his staff on the occasion of his wedding in 1935, is in a West German collection where it has been since 1948.
Another fantasy piece attributed to Göring is the so-called “Industrial Dagger” alleged to have been prepared for presentation to Göring by a group of German industrialists. This piece is an Atwood fantasy although a photograph has surfaced allegedly showing the piece on the wall of the original plant. It should be noted that faked photographs are extremely easy to produce by even a semi-skilled photographer.
Also forged has been the so-called “Reichsmarschall Dagger” the original of which was made for Göring by the students of the Berlin Technical Academy in 1940.
The fake piece, once in the hands of the notorious dealer in fakes, “Roger Steele”, has a serious error in the marking on the cross guard. On the original, there were two Balkan crosses engraved on the top of the cross guard, one on either side of the grip while on the fake, these crosses are replicas of the Iron Cross. The amusing story connected with the “appearance” of this rare piece is that it was “discovered” in a London costume shop, covered with brown paint!
Roger Steele (aka Gaylord E. Wessock) of Hollywood Military Hobbies was known to have a well-developed sense of humor when it came to inventing stories to accompany his exotic fakes.
Other Third Reich fantasy pieces include the “Sepp Dietrich Honor Sword”, the “Sepp Dietrich Honor Dagger”, the “Theodor Eicke Honor Dagger” and a number of Damascus-bladed SS officer’s swords alleged to have been made by the craftsman Paul Müller and presented by Himmler to various SS officials. At least one can say of these swords (most of which were alleged to have been made after the Müller forge at Dachau was closed permanently in the year 1940) is that the fittings are generally original even if the overly-antiqued blades are not.
Another incredible fantasy item is the “Adolf Hitler Ehrenburger Sword”, a copy of a 14th century piece which appears on the cover of this book. This piece was originally presented to Hitler by the city of Solingen and photos of it can be found in the city archives. However, that having been said, the one shown in a number of books on German edged weapons is not the same one show in period photographs. Col Atwood had one of these made at the same time he had the Eichhorn factory manufacture another copy of the Göring Wedding Sword and the Göring Industrial Dagger. A quick comparison of the Damascus patterns on the pictures of the original are sufficient to expose the fake.
There is also an Italian Fascist dagger with an ivory hilt allegedly presented by Mussolini to Hitler in 1937 and last, but by no means least, a so-called “Eastern Official’s Dagger” made from a wartime drawing of an item which was never producedare two espada factories now operating in Spain and another, beloved of Atwood, in Guatemala which produce nearly all of the Third Reich daggers and several of the swords and all of a superior quality

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 91

Neither Alex or Gwen had ever flown before and as the jet taxied out onto the runway, Alex put up the blind on the window beside his chair.
As the scenery rushed by them, he gripped the chair arms, certain that they would run into something and when the plane suddenly lifted off the runway, he was pushed back into his seat and began to blink rapidly. He was secretly relieved to note that Gwen, who was sitting on the other side of the cabin, had the expression of a frightened horse.
As the plane gained altitude, Alex could see the vast expanse of Lake Superior from his window and then the heavily wooded terrain of northern Wisconsin.
When the craft had reached its cruising altitude, the head steward came into the front cabin and offered to conduct a guided tour of the rest of the plane.
There was a small, elegant dining room, a stainless steel galley complete with a chef in a white smock and cap, a well-stocked wine cellar, a conference room, lavatories, a small theater and a corridor that led to the master bedroom and bath with two additional staterooms adjoining it
The decoration of the plane, Chuck thought, had obviously not been done by his late uncle who was possessed of absolutely no taste whatsoever.
The last room they visited was the master bedroom cabin and as everyone was filing back out, Chuck took Gwen by the elbow.
“Why don’t the rest of you go back forward? I have something to discuss with Gwen.”
She looked sharply at him as he closed the cabin door.
“Chuck, you aren’t thinking of sex now, are you?”
“No, I am not. Sit down on the bed, Gwen and I’ll just have a drink of water.”
She sat carefully on the gray brocade spread as Chuck found a glass in the bathroom, filled it at the marble and brass sink and swallowed the contents.
“That’s better.” He stood with his back against the door, cleared his throat and began his proposal of marriage.
“Do you like the plane, Gwen?”
“It’s…actually it’s beautiful. Is it yours?”
“Oh yes, love, it is. I….last night when I was talking to Lupin…the lawyer in Chicago…”
“I remember.”
“Yes. When I was talking to him, he made a very serious recommendation to me. You see, I am the last of my line. When I die, the Rush line dies with me. My uncle murdered everyone else in the family and we murdered him….”
“Alex murdered him, Chuck.”
“Well, Alex is one of us and that leads me into what I want to say. As I said, the line stops with me. There are cousins who would inherit if anything happened to me and I would like to keep my word to my grandfather that I would do my best to keep his works intact. I did promise him that when I was ten. All right. Lupin strongly suggested that I get married, if I was not already, and then have a family. For inheritance purposes of course.”
“No love involved?”
“No, Gwen, strictly business. At this level, these things go on all the time. Not perhaps romantic but practical. So, since I agree with him, I have to get married and have children. I never thought I would get married because I value my privacy too much but you see the point, don’t you?”
“Charlie, you are either proposing to me or planning to find some rich bitch and mate with her.”
Chuck laughed.
“Ah, you see that’s why I am so fond of you, dear. So much to the point.”
“Well?”
“If you married me, love, you would be very rich. Would this bother you?”
“Shit no, Charlie. Do you love me?”
“No, but I like you a very great deal.”
“Do you love anybody? Other than Alex?”
“No and now we come to the second part of the plan. If we get married, I will adopt Alex as my son and heir. That’s not funny, Gwen.”
She put a hand across her mouth.
“Oh yes it is, Charlie Tuna. It’s very funny. You see, I really like you too but I am in real, deep love with Alex.”
“I know that, dear. Alex has told me…”
“He loves me too?”
“Do you know?”
“No, I don’t but I keep hoping.”
“Alex is very fond of you but don’t expect him to marry you in…three years from now. Never mind Alex, Gwen. Do you accept my proposal or should I get down on my knees?”
“Charlie, we’re not in San Francisco, are we?”
“No, we’re at thirty thousand feet heading to the end of the rainbow.”
“Chuck, I would be delighted to marry you. Can Alex and I still…”
“Do the beast with two backs?”
“What?”
“Continue your twice a week romps.”
“All right, what about it?”
“Certainly you can but you will have to be very private about it. Not that any of us care about it but there is the staff of servants and so on to think about. No, whatever works for everyone.”
Gwen began laughing.
“My son is two years younger than I am and I can’t keep my hands off of him.”
“You’d have to, at least in public. Well, well, then the matter is concluded, is it?”
She held out her hands.
“Oh, my sweet darling! I would be so happy to be Mrs. Rush! You have made me the happiest woman on earth, sweetie! When do we do this thing?”
“In Chicago. And if Lupin is successful, we will spend tonight in my grandfather’s house. How big a ring do you want?”
“Oh, Charlie! I want a ten caret diamond ring.”
“Gwen, something that big couldn’t be worn on the finger.”
“As long as my finger doesn’t turn green. Have you talked about this with our beautiful and well-hung son?”
“Gwen…”
“Have you?”
“Yes, and the conversation was pretty much the same.”
She got up.
“Tell me, my own sweet treasure, does Alex love me? I mean, tell me the truth.”
“No, he does not and he never will. He saw too much too early and his view of sex is that it is a nasty necessity to keep the skin clear. Women are never satisfied with the status quo, Gwen, but in this case, leave well enough alone. Now, let’s go out and join our good friends, the art thief and the juvenile assassin, for some breakfast.”
“When do I get the ring?”
“When we get to Chicago, love. After you.”
Breakfast was served by one of the Russians, now wearing a white jacket.
Alex and Chuck both had Eggs Benedict (please be sure the yolks are runny), Claude a bowl of oatmeal with fresh cream and brown sugar and Gwen had fresh strawberries.
The linen was all monogrammed with an ‘R’ as were the crystal glasses, the silver and the pale gray, gold-rimmed china.
As they flew southeast towards Chicago, the conversation was lively.
Alex looked at Gwen and winked.
“Say, Mom, when we all get legal, will you make an apple pie for me?”
“Shut up, Alex. I’m not a cook.”
“No, I know that, Gwen. You have trouble boiling water. Well, I’ll make a nice pie for you. Does that sound thrilling?”
“Alex, I’m still so excited about your father here proposing to me in the lavatory…”
“Gwen…”
“Well, almost in the lavatory. Anyway, I can’t even think about pie.”
“I think about pie all the time, Mom. Especially Mom’s pie…”
Chuck rapped Alex on the hand because the waiter had just returned with a fresh pitcher of cream.
“Yes, Alex, we all know how much you value your dear mother’s pie. Say, Alex, why not ask Uncle Claude here about your dear mother’s pie? I understand he was so taken with it that he went right out and had a barbecue….”
The waiter left silently.
“Yes, a nice barbecue right in the living room.”
There was general laughter and Orlov entered the room, smiling as usual.
“Excuse me, sir, but the captain tells me that we should be landing in Chicago in about forty minutes. There is still overcast but we expect to be on the ground right on time.”

(Continued)

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

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

David Stussy & Zena Xanders

The Big Brain Radio Show is (or was – we have no idea) a weekly broadcast on local radio stations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area hosted by two chiropractors, David Stussy and Zena Xanders, who seemed to fancy themselves as “Big Brains” – and yes, it’s Dunning Kruger: Stussy’s and Sanders’s lack of understanding of even elementary critical thinking or science was embarrassing to the level of physical pain. The show tried for the most part to cram as much woo and bullshit as possible into its time slot, typically peppering the nonsense with apparently random insertions of words like “quantum” and “healing”. As chiropractors Stussy and Xanders are definitely on the quackiest end possible, the types who think that chiropractic can heal everything – and yes, they call themselves “Dr. Stussy” and “Dr. Xanders”, but their degrees are from the Northwestern Chiropractic College and the Northwestern Health Sciences University, respectively and as such not something to be proud of. On their show, Stussy and Xanders would for instance promote The law of manifestation (yes: that one), The law of balance, and The law of appreciation.
According to Stussy and Xanders, the BBR show “is meant to be a catalog for large/small scale observers of the organized complexities of the universe, which express the natural laws of authentic interacting of energies, radiation, and light. And how the human mind, discovering these – the interaction between the physical and metaphysical – creates higher and higher possibilities for the survival and expansion of the human species, or what other form we may take.” They also offer insights like “[t]he universe is a training center. It just depends on what we want to learn. When you pay attention, you create intention. The future will be based on knowledge and know-how and energy.” Indeed.
As for science, it “is only science when it’s on the leading edge … Scientists are really kinda the people that prove the points. Somebody will come up with an idea or a theory, it’s not really proven yet, and then scientists will go about proving it …”, according to Stussy and Xanders. No, they don’t have the most tenuous grasp on anything.
But science isn’t everything. The world also operates on other principles, inaccessible to science, reason or coherence: “The universe and the brain operate on the physical and metaphysical principles. Metaphysical principles are those that have always been there and always work, such as electricity. Man didn’t discover that, it was already there [?]. But it is metaphysical in the sense that it doesn’t have weight or form, but it has affect. These metaphysical insights are discovered by the metaphysical brain; some might call it the mind – we call it the BigBrain. Everybody is a BigBrain and our purpose for being in existence is to discover the metaphysical principles and have them be physically manifested.” Yeah: those are the intellectual standards here. You might think Stussy and Xanders would be in for a shock if they took a philosophy class on metaphysics at a legitimate educational institution (or an elementary school class on electricity), but we suspect they lack the cognitive capacity to even recognize their own intellectual shortcomings in such scenarios.
Diagnosis: Complete nonsense, and the idea that people like Stussy and Xanders are allowed near people with real health problems is profoundly frightening.

Mike Pence

A.k.a. A disturbingly good reason to be hesitant about wanting President Trump impeached even if the opportunity were to arise.
Mike Pence, the 48th Vice President of the US and formerly Governor of Indiana, radio show host and Represenative from Indiana’s 6th District, is a fundamentalist science denialist and occasional conspiracy theorist. Though appearing to many to be far more balanced, stable and boring than Trump, it is possible to make a case for the claim that Pence is, in many ways, crazier.
Fundamentalism, anti-gay campaigning and anti-feminism
Claiming to have received his political mandate from Jesus himself, Pence has long campaigned to obliterate the distinction between religion and politics, and maintains a close relationship with various dominionists (although it would admittedly be an exaggeration to call him a dominionist himself). Indeed, he first received national attention when he introduced (and signed into law) a bill that would allow private individuals and companies to discriminate against LGBT people on “religious freedom” grounds.
In 2000 (Pence’s history of anti-gay campaigning is as long as it is insane), Pence stated that “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discrete and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities,” and his campaign website called for “an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” but rather redirect resources toward institutions that “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior”. Meanwhile, homosexuality “is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion.” According to Pence, Obama thus wanted to “advance a radical social agenda,” and he falsely claimed that anti-discrimination efforts would mean that pastors “could be charged or be subject to intimidation for simply expressing a Biblical worldview on the issue of homosexual behavior.” As for marriage equality, Pence has reminded us that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family”. This is incorrect.
Pence is known to adhere to the rule that men should avoid spending time alone with women to whom they are not married, ostensibly to avoid temptation. He seems less than cognizant about what the rule tells us about his character. It is worth thinking about.
As a radio show host, Pence expressed numerous notable opinions about a variety of subject matters. In 1999, he argued, in an op-ed, that the Disney film Mulanwas a piece of liberal, feminist propaganda: “Obviously, this is Walt Disney’s attempt to add childhood expectation to the cultural debate over the role of women in the military,” though he seemed very satisfied that Disney apparently undercut their own argument by letting Mulan fall in love: “Moral of story: women in military, bad idea,” said Pence.
Science
“Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill” – Mike Pence
Pence is a creationist and has a long history of advocating intelligent design creationism, arguing for instance that evolution is “just a theory” and “just one of many theories”; apparently it follows that these many theories are all equal. Also, the science of evolution hasn’t remained the same since Darwin; therefore it must obviously be bullshit. (It is, in other words, abundantly clear that Pence doesn’t have the faintest idea what a scientific theory in general, and the theory of evolution in particular, actually is). In a 2002 statement on the floor of the House of Representatives Pence told his colleagues that “… I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.” Wishful thinking comes no more delusional than that.
Pence recommends abstinence-only sex education, which demonstrably doesn’t work to achieve the stated aims. But facts be damned when purity and spiritual hygiene are at stake. For similar reasons, Pence claimed that “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”
As for embryonic stem cell research, Pence is opposed to it, wants it banned, and claims that there are alternatives that “obviate” the need for embryonic research, which is bullsit.
Pence also has a long backstory as a climate change denier; he “does not accept the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change,” and claims that “global warming is a myth” and part of a “liberal environmentalist agenda” to raise taxes. Indeed, according to Pence “the earth is actually cooler today than it was about 50 years ago”. This is incorrect, but Pence has probably realized that with his intended audiences there really is no limit to how egregiously he can lie and get away with it; a similar example is when he imagined his way to the claim that there is “growing skepticism in the scientific community about global warming.” After all, Pence has patiently tried to explain to them that CO2 can’t cause global warming because CO2is a “naturally occurring phenomenon”. More recently, however, Pence has actually come out admitting that he, with a bit of hedging and lots of hesitation, accepts that “there’s no question” that human activity affects climate and the environment. If you expect a more reasonable voting and policy-related behavior, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath, however.
Finally, Pence is largely responsible for passing “the cruel sham known as right-to-try”, which is largely, and despite the rhetoric, an effort to limit the powers of the FDA to intervene when scams are pushed on people in desperate situations.
He denies that he is anti-science, though. He just rejects the parts he disagrees with. He likes the rest.
Miscellaneous
Keep in mind that Pence has argued at length for impeaching Trump.
Diagnosis: Fundamentalist anti-scientists are hardly uncommon; neither are fundamentalist anti-scientists in positions of power. But few of them (there are admittedly some) have more power than Mike Pence.

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