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TBR News February 21, 2019

Feb 21 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. February 21, 2019:”  “There have been growing fears that somehow, outsiders have been able to penetrate into the confidential computer files of government agencies, business entities such as banks and defense contractors and individuals.

Some of this appeared to be an attempt to obtain highly classified information that could be of use to others and in other instances, attempts to get into the personal, and corporate, bank accounts of individuals and corporations.

This is a brief study of some of the salient aspects of this problem of computer theft and espionage and we will start with the discovery of massive computer penetration in Israel. We will then consider further penetrations of American business and intelligence computer systems by agents of a foreign government as opposed to confidence men and then conclude with the use of the same methods to commit frauds on the gullible in the United States and elsewhere.

Some of the first public notice of this problem surfaced first in Israel in 2004 when Israeli law enforcement cyber crime experts discovered that what is known as a Trojan Horse (illicit spyware planted on an unsuspecting computer) had been inserted into about 60 major Israeli businesses. Isreali law enforcement subsequently indicted various members of three of Israel’s largest private investigative agencies on charges of criminal fraud. These spyware plants were in various commercial areas such as : Israeli military contracting, telephone systems, cable television, finance, automobile and cigarette importing, journalism and high technology. These intrusive spyware plants were nearly identical with ones developed by the American NSA and widely used inside the United States to glean political, economic and counter-intelligence information from a huge number of American businesses and agencies. Israeli investigators believed that there was illicit cooperation between the American agency and a counterpart in Israel.

These Trojan horses that penetrated the Israeli computers came packaged inside a compact disc or were sent as an e-mail message that appeared to be from an institution or a person that the victims thought they knew very well. Once the program was installed, it functioned every time the victim’s computer system was in use, logging keystrokes or collecting sensitive documents and passwords before transmitting the information elsewhere.”

 The Table of Contents

  • Immigration, rail funding and lawsuits: why California and Trump are at war
  • Neo-Nazi in coast guard plotted attack on Democrats and journalists, say prosecutors
  • US arm-twisting & pipe dreams aside, Europe just won’t quit Russian gas imports
  • Following the Foreign-Policy Money Trail in Washington
  • AT&T pulls ads from YouTube over videos exploiting children
  • Smallpox bioterrorist attack could devastate planet for 10 years
  • Comments on Smallpox
  • Ex-Trump adviser Stone tells U.S. judge he abused gag order on criminal charges
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversation
  • French President’s Promise to Crack Down on Anti-Semitism Could Threaten Critics of Israel
  • The Israeli False Flag Operation against Iran

Immigration, rail funding and lawsuits: why California and Trump are at war

The state, which styles itself as the Democratic-led ‘resistance’, has launched 46 lawsuits against the Trump administration

February 20, 2019

by Vivian Ho

The Guardian

The Trump administration’s plans to pull millions in federal funding from California’s high-speed rail project is just the latest in the ongoing antagonism between the president and the state that stands on the opposite end of his party’s ideological spectrum.

Governor Gavin Newsom called the move “political retribution” for the state’s lawsuit against Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, but California and Trump have been at it since before he was even elected president.

California, which has styled itself as the Democratic-led “resistance” to the administration, has launched 46 lawsuits against the Trump administration since Trump was sworn into office. Trump and his government have taken jabs at the most populous state in the nation whenever they could as well.

Immigration has been at the forefront of this back-and-forth. Trump set his sights on California’s stance on the issue while on the campaign trail, attacking the “sanctuary city” and “sanctuary state” laws that limits local law enforcement cooperation with immigration and customs enforcement (Ice).

The state has stood behind its policies and went on to challenge Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries and his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) program. California later joined a 17 other states in a lawsuit to force officials to reunite migrant families separated at the border.

Agents for US Immigration and Custom Enforcement, however, have amped up enforcement, arresting hundreds in targeted raids in sanctuary cities. In March, the justice department sued California, accusing the state of interfering with the enforcement of immigration laws.

Environmental standards have been a sore spot between California and the Trump administration as well, with the Environmental Protection Agency announcing in April that it would ease emissions standards for cars and trucks and revoke California’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose its own greenhouse gas standards. The state filed a lawsuit against the EPA in May.

In August, Trump blamed the state’s “bad environmental laws” for the wildfires that burned up much of the state and killed dozens. His comments did not go over well, even when he visited the hard-hit town of Paradise, which he incorrectly referred to as “Pleasure.”

In a way, the latest announcement over the federal funding for the high-speed rail project can also be traced back to differing views on the environment. High-speed rail advocates had hoped that the multi-decade, $77bn endeavor connecting eight of the state’s largest cities by the nation’s first bullet train would finally solve the state’s notorious traffic issue and lessen the subsequent air pollution created by stalled vehicles.

When Newsom declared in his state of the state address that “the project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long”, Trump took that as an indication that “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars.”

He called it a “‘green’ disaster,” to which Newsom responded, “The train is leaving the station – better get on board!” His office later clarified that he only meant that “we have to be realistic about the project”.

A week later, the US Department of Transportation announced that it intended to cancel $929m in federal grant funds and “is actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5bn in federal funds FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) previously granted”.

The announcement came after California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the president’s national emergency declaration – and hours after Trump tweeted, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

“It’s no coincidence that the administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the president’s farcical ‘national emergency’,” Newsom said in a statement. “The president even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

 

Neo-Nazi in coast guard plotted attack on Democrats and journalists, say prosecutors

Lieutenant Christopher Hasson allegedly intended to ‘murder civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country’

February 20, 2019

by Jon Swaine

The Guardian

A neo-Nazi serving as a lieutenant in the US Coast Guard has been caught plotting to attack Democratic members of Congress, including congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and well-known media personalities, according to prosecutors.

Christopher Hasson intended “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country”, according to a filing in federal court in Maryland. Law enforcement officers seized 15 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition from his home.

Prosecutors said Hasson was a “domestic terrorist” and should be detained. He was arrested last week on drugs and weapons charges.

The filing said Hasson, a fan of the Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, compiled a spreadsheet of apparent targets, including representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and anchors from CNN and MSNBC.

Then he searched online for “civil war if trump impeached” and “what if trump illegally impeached”, according to investigators.

The court filing describing Hasson’s plot was first noted by Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of George Washington University’s program on extremism and a former US anti-terrorism official.

Hasson is a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran currently posted to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington DC, according to investigators. He had been stockpiling weapons in his cramped basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The court filing quoted emails recovered from Hasson’s account in which he spoke about “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth”. He mused about biological attacks along with bombings and shootings.

He used far-right slogans spread in recent years by some supporters of Donald Trump, warning that “liberalist/globalist ideology” was destroying white Americans and discussing conspiracies by “((((People))))” – a styling frequently applied online by the far right to the names of Jews.

Since early 2017, Hasson had “routinely perused” a copy of a manifesto drawn up by Breivik, the Norwegian far-right extremist who killed 77 people in the country in 2011, according to US investigators.

He searched the manifesto for references to steroids, which Breivik took in preparation for his massacre. Dozens of bottles labelled “HGH” (human growth hormone) were found at Hasson’s home.

He also bought a variety of guns and rounds of ammunition from retailers in several different states, spending thousands of dollars on pistols, rifles and other equipment.

Then Hasson “began the process of targeting specific victims”, seeming to follow an instruction by Breivik to identify “cultural Marxist/multiculturalist traitors”, according to the court filing.

He searched online for “where do most senators live in dc” and looked into whether members of Congress and Supreme Court justices had US Secret Service protection.

After viewing an online article in which MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough referred to Trump as “the worst ever” president, Hasson looked up where Scarborough’s show Morning Joe is filmed and found the location of Scarborough’s former home.

Prosecutors said that on 17 January, Hasson began compiling a spreadsheet of prominent people “consistent with the types of people who Breivik identifies as ‘traitors’ and targets for an attack”.

Many on the list have also been frequent subjects of abuse from Republicans including Trump. The list included “poca warren”, which prosecutors said was an apparent reference to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Trump has nicknamed Warren “Pocahontas” for her claim to have distant native American heritage.

Hasson’s spreadsheet also named the Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. In addition to Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, it featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Representatives Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee and Beto O’Rourke.

It also included cable news presenters such as Scarborough, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Ari Melber, and CNN’s Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones.

 

US arm-twisting & pipe dreams aside, Europe just won’t quit Russian gas imports

February 21, 2019

RT

Austria will continue buying Russian gas despite US pressure and fear-mongering from Poland and Ukraine about dangers to European energy security. The cost of importing US gas is just not right, says its Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday, the 32-year-old chancellor stood up for Austria’s continued support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is due to be completed later this year.

Austria wants a secure gas supply, Kurz told local media after meeting with Trump, adding that Vienna has no problem with buying liquid natural gas (LNG) from the US, “but as long as the price is better, Russia is more attractive as a partner, as Trump can certainly understand as a former businessman.”

The price of US imports is “currently not competitive,” Kurz said, so the gas for Austria “will continue to come mainly from Russia” in the foreseeable future.

Germany has also pushed back on US pressure to halt the pipeline in recent days, with the new leader of the ruling CDU party Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer describing the project as something that “just can’t be turned back” and adding that Germany has “quite legitimate economic interests in energy supply.”

Once completed, Nord Stream 2 will have the capacity to stream 110 million cubic meters of gas from Russia to Germany, and onwards into Europe. While this makes Berlin and Vienna happy, the prospect is apparently keeping the authorities in Warsaw and Kiev – who currently profit from transit fees on Russian gas – awake at night.

On Tuesday, two Polish diplomats from Warsaw’s mission to NATO published an appeal for the alliance to treat natural gas supplies as a major security issue, and to throw its weight behind establishing Ukraine as an alternative gas supply hub to counter Russia.

Though ostensibly acting in their personal capacity, Dominik P. Jankowski is a political adviser for the Polish mission to NATO, and Julian Wieczorkiewicz works for the same mission as an expert in energy security. Their pitch appeared on the pages of National Interest, a Washington-based magazine of the think tank that, back in 2016, hosted then-candidate Donald Trump’s flagship foreign policy speech.

Once Nord Stream 2 is complete, Russian gas deliveries will be able to bypass Poland and Ukraine entirely, which Wieczorkiewicz and Jankowski obviously find alarming. Ukraine, they point out, earns roughly $3 billion in transit fees per year, which is almost Kiev’s entire $3.6 billion military budget from 2017. How dare Moscow deprive Ukraine of money to fund its war against ‘Russian aggression’!

The Russia-hating establishment in the US is also on board with this narrative: a January 2018 report commissioned by Senate Democrats also argued Nord Stream 2 was endangering Ukraine’s gas revenues. What’s left unsaid, but definitely kept in mind, is that bypassing Ukraine and Poland would deprive Washington of the ability to interrupt gas deliveries to Europe, while blaming Russia for it.

Wieczorkiewicz and Jankowski’s proposed “solution” is to make Ukraine a depot for natural gas from Norway and the US, arguing that Washington is the world’s largest LNG producer and that in 2018 Poland demonstrated that US-made LNG can compete with Russian gas on European markets. There is only one problem: Norwegian exports are actually declining, and the US simply can’t make up the difference.

A year ago, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry argued that Washington “is not just exporting energy, we’re exporting freedom.” The choice of where to buy energy offered to allies in Europe is freedom, he said, “and that kind of freedom is priceless.”

Economic reality does not care about geopolitical pipe dreams, however. Statistics from 2017 show that Europe imported 164 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia, while Europe and Turkey combined accounted for only around 3 billion cubic meters of US LNG. More recent EU data shows that Russian imports only increased in 2018, to over 40 percent, while US imports weren’t big enough to register by themselves, but rather fall into the “other” category.

A report on the state of Europe’s LNG infrastructure in 2018, produced by the international law firm King & Spalding, shows Eastern Europe with only one LNG import terminal – in Poland’s Swinoujscie – and one floating storage and regasification (FSRU) facility in Lithuania’s Klaipeda. That’s not exactly a feasible alternative to Russian pipelines, by any stretch of imagination.

While the US is indeed a growing producer and exporter of LNG, it currently has only two operational liquefaction terminals – one in Alaska and one in Louisiana – with two more under construction and one in Texas whose opening was delayed until September 2019 at the earliest, reportedly due to flooding damage during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey.

Then there is old-fashioned supply and demand. In 2018, China and Japan were willing to buy US gas at much higher prices – $8 and up per million BTU – compared to $6 50 in Europe, for instance – so that’s where the US LNG went. The trade war between the US and China launched by the Trump administration has since resulted in higher tariffs on US LNG, making Russian gas more attractive to Beijing. Gazprom’s new pipeline to China is expected to open ahead of schedule in early December 2019. Meanwhile, there is no indication the price of US gas in Europe has become any more competitive.

Even the authors of the “sanctions bill from hell”aimed against Russia have conceded that it does not specifically target Nord Stream 2. Dubbed ‘DASKA,’ the proposal was reintroduced last week by Senators Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

“There’s no specific provision here on Nord Stream 2,” Menendez told reporters in Brussels on Monday, adding that the US was seeking “close collaboration” with Europe on perfecting anti-Russian sanctions.A

Simply put, giving up Russian gas imports would be “economic suicide” for the EU, as geopolitical expert Dr. Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann told RT last month. EU and NATO allies have already suffered the brunt of economic consequences from Washington’s obsession with sanctions against Russia since 2014. As statements from German and Austrian leaders clearly show, giving up gas would be a step too far.

 

Following the Foreign-Policy Money Trail in Washington

How Middle Eastern Powers Fund Think Tanks

by Ben Freeman

Tom Dispatch

The 2016 elections awakened Americans to a startling reality: the country’s political system is ripe for foreign interference. The Russians took full advantage of social media with bot armies and through unregistered foreign agents. While their influence garnered considerable attention and has led to increased enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), one area has remained largely off the congressional and media radar screens.  Yet it remains a vital part of the way other governments try to influence policy in this country: the foreign funding of think tanks.

Most Americans undoubtedly have little idea what a think tank actually does.  Having worked at two of them myself, it’s fair to say that even those of us who have labored inside these basic building blocks for policymaking in Washington are often still trying to figure out just what many of them do.  Still, whether you know it or not, you’ve certainly seen think-tank employees on cable news, heard them on the radio, or read their op-ed pieces.

After all, think tanks are homes for so many of the “experts” who are the go-to sources for media coverage of foreign and domestic policy topics on just about any day — and are often key go-to sources for those making policy in Washington, too). You know, the former Department of Defense official you caught on NBC News discussing Iran or the Middle Eastern expert you saw quoted in Newsweek critiquing the Trump administration’s policies there. Outside the public eye, members of Congress and executive branch officials rely heavily on think tanks for expertise on a wide range of issues, for key congressional testimony, and even for quite literally helping craft public policy.

Those who run Washington generally trust the inhabitants of think tanks of their political bent to provide the intellectual foundations upon which much of public policy is built. At least in some cases, however, that trust couldn’t be more deeply misplaced, since cornerstones of the ever-expanding think-tank universe turn out to be for sale.

Every year foreign governments pour tens of millions of dollars into those very institutions and, though many think tanks are tax-exempt non-profits, such donations often turn out to be anything but charitable gifts. Foreign contributions generally come with critically important strings attached — usually a favorable stance toward that country in whatever influential work the think tanks are doing. In other words, those experts you regularly read or see on screen, whose scholarship and advice Washington’s politicians and other officials often use, are in some cases being paid, directly or indirectly, by the very countries on which they are offering advice and analysis. And here’s the catch: they can do so without ever having to tell you about it.

The Money Trail From Foreign Governments to Think Tanks

“I’ve never had to worry in my years at CAP about an analyst or me saying X, Y, and Z and worry about a funding source. Never thought about it. Never,” explained Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress (CAP).  He was speaking at a Middle East Institute (MEI) event in January entitled “The Role of Think Tanks in Shaping Middle East Policy.” MEI President Paul Salem echoed this sentiment, noting that funding, particularly foreign government funding, shouldn’t ever shape a think tank’s work.  “Independence,” he proclaimed, “is sacred.”

Such comments, like the events themselves, are just the norm in Washington think-tank life — unless, that is, you follow the money, in which case they seem both striking and supremely ironic. On any given day, Washington is, in fact, awash in foreign-policy events at think tanks. There, experts convene to publicly discuss just about every topic you’d want to hear about — except one, of course: their funding. And that is what made the Katulis-Salem exchange particularly interesting. What they and their follow panelists never mentioned at an event extolling the importance of think tanks in helping craft political Washington’s Middle East policies was this: both CAP and MEI have received millions of dollars from authoritarian governments in the Middle East.

MEI has publicly reported receiving millions from Saudi Arabia and lesser amounts from the Persian Gulf states of Oman and Qatar. By far its largest donor, however, seems to have been the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reportedly making a “secret” $20 million contribution to that think tank, earmarked to “hire experts in order to counter the more egregious misperceptions about the region” and “to inform U.S. government policymakers.” In other words, in the spirit of that MEI panel title, the UAE’s funding was explicitly designed to shape that think tank’s — and so U.S. — policy considerations.

While hardly in that $20 million range, CAP has also publicly reported receiving at least $1.5 million from the UAE.

And keep in mind that those two think tanks are hardly the only ones receiving donations from countries in the Middle East. The Center for a New American Security, for instance, received $250,000 from the United Arab Emirates to produce a study on the need for the U.S. to export military-grade drones to countries like… the UAE. That think tank’s subsequent report on the topic notes that the U.S. doesn’t export drones to the UAE and other countries, but should because “this reluctance to transfer U.S. drones harms U.S. interests in tangible ways.” Never mind that a third of those killed in drone strikes in the devastating war in Yemen are civilians.

The Brookings Institution received a $14.8 million donation from Qatar. In fact, according to a New York Times analysis, nearly all of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington have accepted money from authoritarian regimes in the Middle East or elsewhere. And that, in turn, is just the tip of the iceberg, since think tanks are not legally required to publicly disclose their funding.

Charity or Influence Buying?

If think tanks are to be believed, the money they receive from such funders changes little. Recent events at a number of think tanks, including the Center for American Progress and the Middle East Institute, should, however, give pause to anyone who assumes that such institutions are by their nature insulated from the influence of foreign funders.

Recently, serious questions have been raised about whether CAP’s ties to the UAE, itself a close ally of the Saudi royals, contributed to its awkward response to the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi in that Kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul, Turkey.  Following that killing, CAP released a response condemning the Saudis for their involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, but not calling for specific consequences to punish the Kingdom.

According to reporting by the Intercept’s Ryan Grim, such consequences were stripped from the statement by a CAP staffer who just happened to be Brian Katulis. Then, in December, CAP largely sat on the sidelines as the Senate passed a historic resolution to end U.S. involvement in the devastating Saudi-UAE war in Yemen. At the MEI event in January, Katulis dismissed those giving “energy and dynamism” to “the Yemen debate” for ignoring “the full complexity of the challenges.” Jamal Khashoggi’s name wasn’t even mentioned.

Despite MEI head Salem’s claim that “independence is sacred,” there’s reason to question how independent scholars can be when their work is, at least in part, dependent on foreign funding. In at least one case, for instance, Salem’s institute published the work of Fahad Nazer, who was directly on the Saudi payroll. While earning $7,000 a month as a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia, Nazer wrote several pro-Saudi articles for both think tanks and mainstream media outlets, including one for MEI that made no mention of his financial ties to the Saudis. That March 2018 article did, however, encourage yet more U.S. support for the country’s ruling crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who, Nazer wrote, would “be good for Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the world.”

Just seven months later, bin Salman would reportedly authorize the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and, in January 2019, Nazer himself would become the official spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Blurred Lines and Lack of Transparency

Nazer’s case also illustrates a growing pattern of interactions between think tanks that receive foreign funding and the registered foreign agents of those countries. In fact, Emirati foreign agents last year reported contacting think tanks at least 85 times, according to an analysis of Foreign Agents Registration Act filings for a forthcoming report on the Emirati lobby in the U.S. by the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, which I direct.

Perhaps not surprisingly, CAP’s Katulis and MEI were among the top think-tank contacts for UAE’s foreign agents. According to 2018 filings, Katulis was contacted at least 12 times by the Harbour Group, which the UAE paid more than $5 million in 2018 to “influence U.S. policy,” according to the firm’s FARA filings. Katulis was a particular focus for them because he was helping to organize a “study tour” in which think-tank experts would take a luxurious trip to both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. That group also contacted MEI at least 14 times on behalf of the UAE, directing most of its efforts towards a “speaking engagement at MEI” for the Emirati ambassador to the U.S., the same man who had directed that “secret” $20 million contribution to the institute.

Under current law, it is perfectly legal for think tanks that receive funding from foreign governments to also work with foreign agents registered to represent those very governments. FARA includes an exemption for those engaged in “bona fide… scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits.” Like many parts of the FARA statute, it’s not at all clear what “bona fide” means, but think tanks are presumably exempt from registration if they meet this threshold.

While the work done by both think tanks and registered foreign agents can sometimes overlap, the two are worlds apart on one critical score: transparency. Under FARA, registered foreign agents are required to disclose a considerable amount of what they do, including whom they’re working for, how much they’re being paid, and whom they’re contacting, as well as when and where they do it, on behalf of foreign principals like the United Arab Emirates. And most of that information is available online. Anything they distribute on behalf of a foreign backer must also include a “conspicuous statement” to let anyone know that what they’re reading is being distributed on behalf of a foreign principal.

Think tanks receiving funding from foreign sources are, however, not required to do any of the above.

As is appropriate during tax season, most of this should, in the end, be blamed on the Internal Revenue Service. Think tanks usually operate as tax-exempt organizations and, according to the IRS, “a tax-exempt organization is generally not required to disclose publicly the names or addresses of its contributors set forth on its annual return.”

While MEI and CAP do both disclose their funding sources on their websites — for which they should be commended — many think tanks do not. And few, even among those that do, mention any potential conflicts of interest that might be reflected in their published reports or the speeches and media appearances of their members. Even more worrisome, a Project On Government Oversight investigation by Lydia Dennett found numerous examples of think-tank experts not reporting or mentioning financial ties to foreign governments when testifying before Congress. Hiding such potential conflicts of interest is likely to leave the public and policymakers with the impression that they’re hearing truly objective experts, when they may, in fact, be taking testimony from someone who is functionally or literally on the payroll of a country with a deep stake in what they’re telling Congress.

If think tanks are to remain credible sources of foreign-policy expertise, such ties must, at the very least, be laid bare.

A first step would simply be to require think tanks to publicly disclose any foreign funding they receive, something easily done by amending the IRS code. In addition, just as registered foreign agents are required to include a “conspicuous statement” letting readers know they’re working on behalf of a foreign power, think tanks should have to fully disclose their funding sources and any potential conflicts of interest in all their written products, as well as at speaking engagements, especially testimony before Congress. It should also be incumbent upon the media to do a better job of vetting sources. Sure, journalists are extraordinarily busy, but if a simple Google search can reveal that the Middle East “expert” you’re quoting is being paid by a country in the Middle East, it behooves you to tell your readers that.

Finally, transparency is essential, but it’s well past time for think tanks themselves to focus on the track records of the countries they’re getting money from. The Brookings Institution did just that by cutting ties with the Saudis shortly after the murder of Khashoggi and, soon after, MEI, too, announced that it would decline any further funding from the Saudi government. More recently, and following the questions raised about CAP’s involvement with the United Arab Emirates, that think tank announced that it would no longer accept UAE money. As a CAP spokesperson said, “It’s just the right thing to do.”

CAP, MEI, and Brookings are, however, the exceptions.  Most think tanks haven’t done “the right thing” and dropped funding from autocratic regimes. Nor are they likely to voluntarily increase transparency about that funding. The burden then falls on Congress to enact reforms ensuring that senators and representatives will know when the expert they’re hearing discuss a specific country or the region it’s in is being paid by that very same country. Failure to act could leave Americans asking a simple and uncomfortable question: Which country is buying U.S. foreign policy today?

 

AT&T pulls ads from YouTube over videos exploiting children

February 21, 2019

by Sheila Dang

Reuters

AT&T Inc pulled all its advertising from Alphabet Inc’s YouTube for the second time in two years after a magazine reported the platform displayed ads next to videos that showed the exploitation of children.

“Until Google can protect our brand from offensive content of any kind, we are removing all advertising from YouTube,” an AT&T spokesman said in a statement on Thursday.

The move comes just one month after the U.S. wireless carrier announced it would resume buying advertising on YouTube, after a nearly two-year boycott of the platform. The previous boycott was also due to concerns that its ads could run on videos featuring hate speech or other disturbing material.

The report by Wired magazine that commercials had run alongside offensive videos and comments also prompted food and beverage maker Nestle SA to pause advertising on YouTube earlier this week.

YouTube said it had removed some of the content, which violated its policies against child endangerment, nudity and other behavior it considers inappropriate. YouTube added that it disabled comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors.

“There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly,” YouTube said in a statement.

YouTube derives most of its revenue from advertising, and it has been one of Google’s fastest-growing units as consumers spend an increasing amount of time watching videos online.

Google does not specify its revenue from YouTube. Advertising research firm EMarketer estimates YouTube will net $11.4 billion in worldwide revenue in 2019 after accounting for revenue shared with content producers.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in New York; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

 

Smallpox bioterrorist attack could devastate planet for 10 years

February 21, 2019

RT

In August 2018, Australian scientists launched a complex international simulation dubbed, ‘Exercise Mataika’, which investigated a ‘worst-case scenario’ for a smallpox bioterrorist attack and the results are horrifying.

Smallpox, one of the most infectious diseases known to man, was officially eradicated in 1980, but two officially known samples of the disease are held in secure laboratories in the US and Russia.

The team’s simulation began with a smallpox bioterrorist attack in Fiji; the first case is reported in a private hospital but is not diagnosed properly as doctors are unfamiliar with the (now effectively-extinct) disease. The hypothetical outbreak then spreads to 200 people, of which roughly 40 percent die.

As the virus spreads, local health systems are overwhelmed, mass panic ensues, exacerbated by media reports and a 13-day delay in correctly identifying the outbreak. The number of infected quickly rises to 2,000 cases, including doctors, at which point nurses go on strike. The first wave of 32,000 vaccinations arrive in Fiji just as another, larger attack occurs in a more populous country in Asia.

In the study’s worst-case scenario, only 50 percent of people infected with the disease are isolated and only half of the people they had contact with are tracked and vaccinated. This leads to a “catastrophic blow-out in the epidemic.”

“Under these conditions, modelling shows it will take more than a billion doses and 10 years to stop the epidemic,” the researchers explain.

The variola genome, which causes smallpox, is fully sequenced and advances in synthetic biology have increased the likelihood of smallpox being synthesized in a laboratory. In addition, roughly one in five people live with some degree of immunosuppression in developed countries across the globe, while a large proportion of the world population today is unvaccinated.

Biosecurity experts previously scoffed at the potential for a smallpox bioterrorist attack until Canadian scientists reconstructed the extinct horse pox virus in a lab using mail-order DNA in 2017.

Worldwide, the World Health Organization has a stockpile of 34 million vaccine doses from member donations, however, it only has roughly two million in its own possession.“Trust in government and authority structures has disappeared, and legitimate attempts at communication by authorities are viewed with suspicion and fuel conspiracy theories,” the researchers write of the worst-case scenario.

“The results of the exercise are sobering… the results and lessons learned should be considered by every country in the world,” says biosecurity expert Michael Osterholm, the director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at Minnesota University.

As governments and health organizations work to contain the infection in the simulation, the global workforce is decimated, which severely disrupts transport, power, communications and food infrastructure.

Comments on Smallpox

February 21, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The discovery of a single suspected case of smallpox must be treated as an international health emergency and be brought immediately to the attention of national officials through local and state health authorities.

The majority of smallpox cases present with a characteristic rash that is centrifugal in distribution, ie, most dense on the face and extremities. The lesions appear during a 1- to 2-day period and evolve at the same rate. On any given part of the body, they are generally at the same stage of development. In varicella (chickenpox), the disease most frequently confused with smallpox, new lesions appear in crops every few days and lesions at very different stages of maturation (ie, vesicles, pustules, and scabs) are found in adjacent areas of skin. Varicella lesions are much more superficial and are almost never found on the palms and soles. The distribution of varicella lesions is centripetal, with a greater concentration of lesions on the trunk than on the face and extremities.

The signs and symptoms of both hemorrhagic and malignant smallpox were such that smallpox was seldom suspected until more typical cases were seen and it was recognized that a smallpox outbreak was in progress. Hemorrhagic cases were most often initially identified as meningococcemia or severe acute leukemia. Malignant cases likewise posed diagnostic problems, most often being mistaken for hemorrhagic chickenpox or prompting surgery because of severe abdominal pain.

Laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis in a smallpox outbreak is important. Specimens should be collected by someone who has recently been vaccinated (or is vaccinated that day) and who wears gloves and a mask. To obtain vesicular or pustular fluid, it is often necessary to open lesions with the blunt edge of a scalpel. The fluid can then be harvested on a cotton swab. Scabs can be picked off with forceps. Specimens should be deposited in a vacutainer tube that should be sealed with adhesive tape at the juncture of stopper and tube. This tube, in turn, should be enclosed in a second durable, watertight container. State or local health department laboratories should immediately be contacted regarding the shipping of specimens. Laboratory examination requires high-containment (BL-4) facilities and should be undertaken only in designated laboratories with the appropriate training and equipment. Once it is established that the epidemic is caused by smallpox virus, clinically typical cases would not require further laboratory confirmation.

Smallpox infection can be rapidly confirmed in the laboratory by electron microscopic examination of vesicular or pustular fluid or scabs. Although all orthopoxviruses exhibit identically appearing brick-shaped virions, history taking and clinical picture readily identify cowpox and vaccinia. Although smallpox and monkeypox virions may be indistinguishable, naturally occurring monkeypox is found only in tropical rain forest areas of Africa. Definitive laboratory identification and characterization of the virus involves growth of the virus in cell culture or on chorioallantoic egg membrane and characterization of strains by use of various biologic assays, including polymerase chain reaction techniques and restriction fragment-length polymorphisms. The latter studies can be completed within a few hours.

A clandestine aerosol release of smallpox, even if it infected only 50 to 100 persons to produce the first generation of cases, would rapidly spread in a now highly susceptible population, expanding by a factor of 10 to 20 times or more with each generation of cases.    Between the time of an aerosol release of smallpox virus and diagnosis of the first cases, an interval as long as 2 weeks or more is apt to occur because of the average incubation period of 12 to 14 days and the lapse of several additional days before a rash was sufficiently distinct to suggest the diagnosis of smallpox. By that time, there would be no risk of further environmental exposure from the original aerosol release because the virus is fully inactivated within 2 days.

As soon as the diagnosis of smallpox is made, all individuals in whom smallpox is suspected should be isolated immediately and all household and other face-to-face contacts should be vaccinated and placed under surveillance. Because the widespread dissemination of smallpox virus by aerosol poses a serious threat in hospitals, patients should be isolated in the home or other non-hospital facility whenever possible. Home care for most patients is a reasonable approach, given the fact that little can be done for a patient other than to offer supportive therapy. In the event of an aerosol release of smallpox and a subsequent outbreak, the rationale for vaccinating patients suspected to have smallpox at this time is to ensure that some with a mistaken diagnosis are not placed at risk of acquiring smallpox. Vaccination administered within the first few days after exposure and perhaps as late as 4 days may prevent or significantly ameliorate subsequent illness. An emergency vaccination program is also indicated that would include all health care workers at clinics or hospitals that might receive patients; all other essential disaster response personnel, such as police, firefighters, transit workers, public health staff, and emergency management staff; and mortuary staff who might have to handle bodies. The working group recommends that all such personnel for whom vaccination is not contraindicated should be vaccinated immediately irrespective of prior vaccination status.

 

Ex-Trump adviser Stone tells U.S. judge he abused gag order on criminal charges

February 21, 2019

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former political adviser Roger Stone told a court on Thursday that he had abused a gag order imposed following criminal charges against him in the Russian election interference probe with a Instagram post showing the judge next to an image that appeared to show the crosshairs of a gun.

“I abused the order,” Stone told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson during a hearing to examine whether he should be sanctioned. “I am kicking myself over my own stupidity.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Mark Hosenball and Makini Brice; Writing by Tim Ahmann; editing by Grant McCool

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 21, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication

 

Conversation No. 116

Date: Wednesday , December 10, 1997

Commenced: 3:05 PM CST

Concluded: 3:30 PM CS

RTC: How are you today, Gregory? Getting ready for Christmas?

GD: Just another day, Robert. A bit quieter. I’m sure the business people regret that they have to shut up on Christmas because they might make a few more dollars. Just a commercial venture these days. Did you ever hear ‘Green Christmas’ ? The song?

RTC: I can’t say that I have.

GD: A pointed satire in the manifest and bald-faced greed of the season, Robert. Thanksgiving is nothing but the Massacre of the Turkeys but Christmas is highlighted by the figurative ringing of the cash register bells and the crisp crackle of greenbacks. And many lovely and totally innocent trees are sacrificed for what was always a Roman pagan holiday.

RTC: Indeed?

GD: The Saturnalia. End of the year celebration to take up the extra days. Evergreens in abundance. Presents given and received.

RTC: No star in the sky?

GD: None that I have read about. And no three wise men from some unspecified place bearing gifts. The whole scene was lifted from the Romans and the Ascension of Christ taken directly from the cult of Isis which was very popular in Rome at the time.

RTC: Then you reject the historical accuracy of the New Testament?

GD: Entirely. After the fact fiction almost entirely and historically totally inaccurate. The Gospels came from a source document written about 45-50 AD and were constantly being cleaned up to reflect the changes of the day. None of them written closer to the events chronicled than about a hundred years. And the Revelations book was written by a lunatic confined on the island of Patmos which was a Roman nut house colony and about 96 AD. John was supposed to be living there with the Virgin Mary so you figure it out.

RTC: Aren’t there historical references to Jesus?

GD: None. The writings of Flavius Josephus, a renegade Jew of the time, had an inserted reference to Jesus but it has long been known as a gross ex post facto insertion by pious Christians in the second century. All fake, Robert, like the so-called Shroud of Turin. That dates to 1300.

RTC: How did the image get on it?

GD: Painted a naked model with egg tempera paint and pushed the cloth down over the body. That simple. Of course, the Vatican knows it’s a fake but they don’t discuss it because it is a big drawer for the pious of soul and incredulous of belief. In Vienna, in the cathedral of St. Stephan, we find the skull of that saint but at St. Polten, the skull of St. Stephan as a fifteen year old boy.

RTC: You’re putting me on.

GD: (Laughter) No, I’m not. And the sacred bones of St. Agnes turned out to be part of the spine of a goat. I wonder how Michelangelo would have depicted that one? With lots of muscle and a small penis. A wonderful artist but gay as a goose. And that brings me to yet another interesting aspect of the whole business. If you really look into the Gospels and try to discern the teachings of Jesus, you will realize that Jesus was an Essene. Now our modern theologians can discuss Jesus in detail and the Essenes in equal detail but never, ever at the same time. That’s would not be correct.

RTC: And why is that, pray tell?

GD: Well, because the Essenes were an all-male organization. They were communistic in their community activities with shared purses and so on and hated women. They bred with them and if the babies were male, all well and good but if female, both mother and child were expelled. They boys they kept.

RTC: There seem to be sinister overtones here, Gregory. Are you saying….?

GD: Yes, I am saying. Like the Spartans and Zulus, the Essenes were homosexuals.

RTC: Now, Jesus H. Christ, Gregory, by implication, by what you are saying and assuming you are accurate, was Jesus a fairy?

GD: It’s ‘gay’ now, but yes, that’s the way it appears. Don’t forget James the Beloved of Christ.

RTC: Are you certain about the facts…never mind your warped conclusions…the facts?

GD: Always. Yes, look it all up. None of it is connected but study the Essene cult. They were eventually shut down but it’s all there for you to find. But there never has been made a connection between Jesus and that group. Yet study the preachings of Jesus, or at least what the Gospels claim are the preachings, and then study the Essene dogmas and you at once see very clear and unmistakable parallels.

RTC: I could look all of this up but you seem to know your history. Of course you can’t say such things because you can never get it public. You do like to get involved in useless quests.

GD: No, but I like facts, not fictions. And I find it very, very entertaining that our evangelical Christians loathe and want to kill off any homosexual they can find. I doubt if any of them would even bother to do the research on the subject because a closed mind is a wonderful thing to behold.  And as another interesting fact, the so-called ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ are Essene writings. Consider that the scholars have been pouring over these for years and yet only a few garbled passages have been released to the public. Why? Because the writings bear out what I just told you and our Jewish chums have agreed to shut up about it. I suppose they get more cluster bombs and nerve gas from Washington with which to civilize the Palestinians in return for said silence. I’m not joking about this, Robert.

RTC: Sadly, probably not. Jim was so determined to serve Tel Aviv’s interests that I’m afraid he has set this country up for future decades of Muslim hatred. Well, I doubt if I’ll see the results of this pandering in my lifetime.

GD: Yes, you’re no doubt right but the wheel always turns, Robert. And the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon their children.

RTC: More biblical exhortations, Gregory?

GD: The Devil can cite scripture, Robert, and your chums down in the Gerbil Palace consider me to be, at the least, a minor devil. Know the truth, Robert, and the truth shall set you free. More likely get you ten to twenty for having a kilo of smack in your glove compartment. Of course you never put it there but the alternative would be a dead baby suddenly being found in your suitcase at the airport. Societies or their control groups have a way with such things. The prisons are full of dissenters and more than a few have been gassed, electrocuted or hanged. Justice is depicted with a blindfold but I think she would be more appropriate wearing a gas mask to avoid the stench of the rotting bodies of the innocent dead sacrificed in her name.

(Concluded at 3:30 P.M. CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

French President’s Promise to Crack Down on Anti-Semitism Could Threaten Critics of Israel

February 21, 2019

by Robert Mackey

The Intercept

The French government will instruct police officers and magistrates to investigate critics of Israel who question its right to exist as a Jewish nation-state for possible violations of the law against anti-Semitic hate speech, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday night.

“Anti-Semitism hides more and more behind the mask of anti-Zionism,” Macron said in an address to the Council of Jewish Institutions in France. “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism.”

The French president added that France would adopt a definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. That definition has been condemned by supporters of Palestinian rights for including, as an example of anti-Semitism: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

While Macron also said that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, that distinction was quickly blurred by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who released a statement welcoming the news that France had adopted a “definition which determines that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism.”

Since anti-Semitism is prohibited hate speech punishable by up to one year in prison under French law, critics of Israeli policies that discriminate against non-Jewish citizens, and deny basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians living under military rule, could be at risk of prosecution. Supporters of a binational state, with equal rights for Arabs and Jews, and proponents of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes they were expelled from when Israel was founded, could also be in legal jeopardy.

Macron said that action was necessary after a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the past week, in which 96 Jewish graves in Alscace were defaced with swastikas and Alain Finkielkraut, a well-known philosopher, was harassed by Yellow Vest protesters in Paris who called him a “dirty Zionist shit.”

When Macron visited the cemetery in the Alsatian village of Quatzenheim on Tuesday, a French television channel was forced to end a live broadcast on Facebook after their moderators became overwhelmed with vile, anti-Semitic comments. “We are not talking about stupid or off-topic comments,” the channel explained, “but explicit calls for murder, overtly anti-Semitic and racist comments, like ‘Heil Hitler,’ or ‘dirty Jews.’” The same night, thousands attended protests against anti-Semitism in Paris and other cities.

After a two-year drop, the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in France increased in 2018, to 541, according to official statistics. That number included 81 physical assaults, 102 attack on property and 358 anti-Semitic threats. (There were twice as many reported anti-Christian incidents, 1,063, while reported attacks on Muslims, 100, fell to the lowest total recorded since 2010.)

Although the president’s words were greeted with applause by leaders of France’s Jewish community, some were reportedly disappointed by Macron’s statement that there was no need to change the French penal code to define anti-Zionism as a crime. Instead, Macron said, police officers and magistrates would be encouraged to take complaints about anti-Zionist remarks seriously, as possible hate crimes.

The debate over whether the nationalist ideology behind Israel’s founding — that Jews have a right to a Jewish nation-state in historic Palestine from which Palestinians are excluded — can fairly be described as racist is not new. In 2001, Israel and the United States walked out of a United Nations conference on racism in Durban, South Africa over a draft declaration that condemned the “racist practices of Zionism” and “the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas, in particular the Zionist movement, which is based on racial superiority.”

Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has leant its full support to conflating all criticism of Israeli actions with anti-Semitism. Last year, for instance, as accusations of anti-Semitism were levelled at the British Labour Party for refusing to accept the full IHRA definition, Israel’s ambassador in London, Mark Regev, told Channel 4 News that, in his view, anti-Zionism was motivated by anti-Semitism.

As the late historian Tony Judt observed in 2003, in a New York Review of Books essay arguing for a one-state solution, the Zionist dream of establishing a nation-state for Jews on the land their ancestors had departed centuries earlier, was originally inspired by nationalist movements in Europe as the continental empires of the Habsburgs and the Romanovs dissolved at the end of the first world war. But the Zionists had to wait another three decades for “the retreat of imperial Britain,” to establish “an appropriately sited Jewish national home in the middle of the defunct Turkish Empire.” Israel’s core problem, Judt suggested, was that “it arrived too late.”

“It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that gas moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law,” Judt added. “The very idea of a ‘Jewish state’ — a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded — is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.”

Netanyahu’s own claim to anti-racist credentials has been severely undercut by his efforts to boost the election prospects of an openly racist, far-right party called Jewish Power, which he hopes to include in his next coalition government. The party’s leaders are former followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the virulently anti-Arab founder of the Jewish Defense League whose extremist Kach Party was designated a terrorist organization in 1994 after one of its members, Baruch Goldstein, killed 29 Muslims praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs shrine in the West Bank city of Hebron.

One of the Jewish Power leaders Netanyahu has courted was known for organizing celebrations of Goldstein’s massacre. Another leads a direct action group dedicated to preventing romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs and was accused, in 2014, of an arson attack against a Jewish-Arab bilingual school in Jerusalem.

Before he was assassinated in 1990, Kahane served in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, where he introduced legislation to strip non-Jews of their citizenship and called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the occupied territories. “At the time,” Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 13 news noted, “senior members of the Likud attacked Kahane’s policies and said they were similar to the Nuremberg Laws passed by the Nazis before the Holocaust.” When Kahane spoke, the other members of the Knesset, including the Likud Party Netanyahu now leads, would boycott him by walking out of the chamber.

Now, to increase his odds of staying in power, Netanyahu personally intervened to encourage another far-right party to merge with Jewish Power, and, as Ravid reports, the prime minister even “signed a formal agreement with the united ultra right-wing party promising its members two ministerial posts in the next government, as well as two seats in the Security Cabinet.”

 

The Israeli False Flag Operation against Iran

February 21, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The problem under consideration here is that Iran has, or will have, a nuclear weapon within a two year time span. If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Israelis are afraid Iran will use it on them.

Israel would have logistical problems attacking Iran. Any attack would have to be an aerial attack, using fighter-bombers to pin-point known Iranian nuclear facilities.at some point in the next 12 months, the imposition of devastating economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran will persuade its leaders to cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is also possible that Iran’s reform-minded Green Movement will somehow replace the mullah-led regime, or at least discover the means to temper the regime’s ideological extremism. It is possible, as well, that “foiling operations” conducted by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through sabotage and, on occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have hindered Iran’s progress in some significant way.

It is now planned for senior Israeli officials, representing both their political and military establishments, will come to Washington for conferences both with their American counterparts and, eventually, with President Trump. These conversations, which have been carefully planned and scripted will have the Israelis advising their American counterparts that they are planning an attack, nuclear or non-nuclear as the situation develops, , because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years. They will tell their American colleagues that Israel is now being left with no choice. They will not be asking for permission, because it will soon be too late to ask for permission. Insofar as President Trump is concerned, the Israelis are struggling to answer what is for them the most pressing question: are there any circumstances under which President Trump would deploy force to stop Iran from going nuclear? Everything depends on the answer. And if the President were to agree fully with Israeli wishes, i.e., use American aircraft to obliterate the perceived Iranian threat by bombing specific targets, could an Israeli-sponsored domestic campaign to encourage sections of the American public, outside of the fully-cooperative Jewish community, to support an American attack. At the present time, it is well-established that Israeli agents, Mossad and others, have inserted themselves into all the instruments of power and propaganda in the United States where they have sent any pertinent information to Israel and kept up a steady offensive against the minds, and wills, of the American people. Also, many of the more prominent American newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are entirely Jewish-owned, the former is stated to be the most receptive to the needs of both Washington and Tel Aviv. Israel is fully prepared to take a chance on permanently alienating American affection in order to make a high-risk attempt at stopping Iran. If Iran retaliates against American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the consequences for Israel’s relationship with America’s military leadership could be catastrophic.

It has been seriously discussed in Tel Aviv and in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, that probably the best way to compel the American public and through them, the President, to launch an attack on Tehran is through a false-flag operation. This would consist of a believable attack, or attempted attack, on a major American target a la the 9/11 Saudi-supported attacks.

The most current plan would be for a known militant Arab anti-Israel group, Hizbollah, to actually deliver an atomic device to the city of New York, or, alternatively, to Washington.

The American Central Intelligence Agency, now seeking to reshape its negative image, would report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the exact details of the arrival and placement of the bomb.

The actual bomb would be genuine but would have a part that was malfunctioning, thus rendering the weapon impossible to detonate. The Arabs involved in this delivery would have in their number, a Yemeni Jew, such as the ones that instigated the 9/11 Saudi attacks, and this sleeper would carry numerous forged documents “proving” that Tehran was directly behind this planned attack.

Revelation of these documents by the fully-supportive New York Times and Washington Post would immediately swing a significant bulk of the American public behind an immediate attack on Tehran with the purpose of neutralizing its atomic weapons capacity.

This program is now on the table and undercover Israeli agents, posing as top-level Iranian operatives, have located a small group of Hizbollah in Lebanon who would be willing to deliver and prepare this device in New York or, as an alternative, Washington itself. Israeli intelligence feels that the use of Hizbollah personnel would entirely justify their obliterating Hizbollah territory in southern Lebanon that now house many thousands of long-range surface to surface missiles that could easily reach Tel Aviv and other vital Israeli targets.

This action, which has already been planned in detail, would be conducted by Israel alone and would compliment the projected American attack on Tehran. Israel stresses the fact that both attacks must be simultaneous lest a forewarned  Hezbollah launch rocket attacks on Israel upon hearing of the American attack. Timing here is considered to be absolutely vital.

Israel would in the future invade Lebanon and continue attacking until Hezbollah’s system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, as Israel would not tolerate a “zone of invulnerability” occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah and Hamas rockets, and that Israel might first attack the Gaza Strip.

And there is also the vital necessity that these Israeli military aircraft would be under great pressure to return to base at once because Israeli intelligence believes that Iran would immediately order Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli cities, and Israeli air-force resources would be needed to hunt Hezbollah rocket teams.

Israel’s Northern Command, at his headquarters near the Lebanese border, is ordered that in the event of a unilateral Israeli or American strike on Iran, their mission would be to attack and completely destroy any and all identified Hezbollah rocket forces. At the present time the Iranians are keeping their Hezbollah firm ally  in reserve until Iran can cross the nuclear threshold.

During  the years since the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon Hezbollah has greatly increased its surface-to-surface missile capability, and an American/Israeli strike on Iran, could provoke all-out retaliation by Iran’s Lebanese subsidiary, Hezbollah, which now possesses, by most intelligence estimates, as many as 45,000 surface-to-surface rockets—at least three times as many as it had in the summer of 2006, during the last round of fighting between the group and Israel. It is known that Russia has sent large numbers of longer range surface-to-surface missiles to Syria which has, in turn, shipped them to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. These missiles have the capacity to easily reach Tel Aviv and Israelis are very concerned that a massive rocket barrage deep into Israel could not only do serious damage to their infrastructure but could easily provoke a mass immigration of Israelis to other areas, thus depriving Israel of both civilian and military personnel it would certainly need in the event of increased military actions against Israel.

Even if Israel’s Northern Command successfully combated Hezbollah rocket attacks in the wake of an Israeli strike, which American experts have deemed to be “nearly impossible, ”political limitations would not allow Israel to make repeated sorties over Iran. “America, too, would look complicit in an Israeli attack, even if it had not been forewarned. The assumption—often, but not always, correct—that Israel acts only with the, at least tacit, approval of the United States is a feature of life in the Middle East, and it is one the Israelis say they are taking into account. But what if American intelligence learns about Israeli intentions hours before the scheduled launch of an attack? “It is a nightmare for us,” one of these officials told me. “What if President Trump calls up Bibi and says, ‘We know what you’re doing. Stop immediately.’ Do we stop? We might have to. A decision has been made that we can’t lie to the Americans about our plans. We don’t want to inform them beforehand. This is for their sake and for ours. So what do we do? These are the hard questions.” (Two officials suggested that Israel may go on pre-attack alert a number of times before actually striking: “After the fifth or sixth time, maybe no one would believe that we’re really going,” one official said.)

At this time, the Israelis have drawn up specific plans to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and the Bushehr reactor, along with four other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program that have been identified by joint past and present Israeli-American aerial surveillance.  —If Israeli aircraft succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, all well and good but even if  they fail to damage or destroy these targets ,such an attack is feared by American and other nations as risking a devastating change in the Middle East. Such an attack could initiate immediate reprisals such as a massed rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon as well as other actions from neighboring Muslim states.  This could become a major diplomatic crisis for Trump that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of seriously endangering Jewish groups around the world, and especially in the United States by making them the targets of Muslim-originated terror attacks and most certainly accelerating the growing immigration of many Israelis to what they felt might be much safer areas.

Tehran, both everyone would answer this question, but a consensus emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by July of 2019. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Trump administration. The Netanyahu government is already intensifying its analytic efforts not just on Iran, but on a subject many Israelis have difficulty understanding: President Trump.

The Israelis argue that Iran demands the urgent attention of the entire international community, and in particular the United States, with its unparalleled ability to project military force. This is the position of many moderate Arab leaders as well. if America allowed Iran to cross the nuclear threshold, the small Arab countries of the Gulf would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran, out of self-protection. Several Arab leaders have suggested that America’s standing in the Middle East depends on its willingness to confront Iran. They argue self-interestedly that an aerial attack on a handful of Iranian facilities would not be as complicated or as messy as, say, invading Iraq. “This is not a discussion about the invasion of Iran,” one Arab foreign minister told me. “We are hoping for the pinpoint striking of several dangerous facilities. America could do this very easily.”

—why the Jewish state should trust the non-Jewish president of the United States to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

For more than a year, these White House officials have parried the charge that their president is unwilling to face the potential consequences of a nuclear Iran, and they are frustrated by what they believe to be a caricature of his position. It is undeniably true, however, that the administration has appeared on occasion less than stalwart on the issue.

One question no administration official seems eager to answer is this: what will the United States do if sanctions fail?

In Israel, of course, officials expend enormous amounts of energy to understand President Trump, despite the assurances they have received from Emanuel, Ross, and others. Delegations from Netanyahu’s bureau, from the defense and foreign ministries, and from the Israeli intelligence community have been arriving in Washington lately with great regularity. “We pack our thermometers and go to Washington and take everyone’s temperature,”

 

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