Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News February 6, 2020

Feb 06 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 6, 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.

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

Commentary for February 6 “In the anti-gay screechings of the Jesus freaks there is considerable ironic humor. If one reads history, there is no doubt that if Jesus actually existed, he belonged to the Essene cult. His purported dogma is identical. The Essenes were a Jewish agricultural cult, communistic in natue, and they also were 100% homosexual in composition. If this is true, and it is, and Jesus was part of it, he had to be gay. That having been said, it is entertaining to listen to the anti-gay wailings of the True Believer cults whose chief totem was gay as a goose.”

The Table of Contents
• Trump’s trial is over but the final verdict is not yet in
• US homeless student population reaches 1.5m, the highest in a decade
• ‘They’ve turned their backs on us’: California’s homeless crisis grows in numbers and violence
• The Empire in Collapse
• A new Treasury Department opens up
• The Season of Evil
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Trump’s trial is over but the final verdict is not yet in
February 5, 2020
by Susan Cornwell, Steve Holland, Richard Cowan and James Oliphant
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In Hollywood, it is called a false ending – where the story appears to be heading to a close but is not yet over.
President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial ended on Wednesday with a conclusion that was unsurprising – his acquittal. But in reality the end of the story will play out in November, when American voters go to the polls.
That is when Democrats will finally learn whether their gamble to impeach a president for the third time in U.S. history paid any electoral dividends in winning over undecided voters. Opinion polls during the impeachment proceedings suggested little political harm to Trump – opinions among Republicans and Democrats were largely entrenched from the outset.
November is also when Republican Party lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, especially those in districts and states that are a toss-up, may learn the political costs of erecting a human wall to block efforts to remove Trump from the Oval Office.
Trump’s lawyers argued that with elections nine months away it should be left to the voters to render the final verdict on whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a Democratic political rival, Joe Biden.
The impact of the trial on the election is far from clear. By the time Election Day arrives, Trump’s impeachment, and the partisan battle around it, may be a distant memory for many voters more focused on bread-and-butter issues.
Still, the impeachment of one of the most polarizing presidents in modern U.S. history has shaken up the election race by energizing both parties’ bases.
“I think it’s done one good thing for Democrats. It has awakened some of the activists to the very real possibility that Trump will win a second term,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
Trump has raised millions of dollars for his re-election campaign off the impeachment trial, netting $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 in the most lucrative haul of his re-election campaign. The money, raised during the impeachment inquiry, was mostly from supporters angry at Democratic efforts to oust him from office, Republican officials said.
Democrats, who have to worry about their fragile controlling majority in the House, saw massive fundraising spikes too on both Democratic presidential candidates and in congressional races.
Republicans and Democrats are likely to attack their opponents’ impeachment votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives in media ads during the election campaign, some political analysts said. In some places that has already begun.
Representative Joe Cunningham, a Democrat who flipped a South Carolina district in 2018 that had been Republican for decades, launched advertisements in his district this month to emphasize his legislative achievements to counter a wave of anti-impeachment attack ads by Republicans.
Cunningham’s approach echoes that of many Democrats, especially in vulnerable districts: Say little about impeachment and focus on accomplishments. “I just want to make sure the record is clear on exactly what we are doing, and where our focus is,” the congressman told Reuters.
SWAYING VOTERS
When House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, announced the impeachment inquiry in September, many Democrats were hopeful of winning over a greater share of public opinion. Pelosi cited polls showing increased support among Americans for an inquiry into Trump’s conduct.
Over the course of months, public opinion edged towards support for impeachment but the hoped-for groundswell failed to materialize despite televised congressional hearings in which current and former government officials detailed a pressure campaign to push Ukraine to carry out the probes Trump sought.
Pelosi’s decision to launch the inquiry did quell a growing clamor within her party, especially from the left, for Trump to be impeached, an effort she had been resisting for months amid worries it could backfire on Democrats electorally.
Her decision gave the party a united public stance against what Democrats viewed as Trump’s outrageous behavior, a rallying cry they can use against Republicans through November.
Democratic lawmakers say the decision by Senate Republicans not to allow witnesses at Trump’s trial and to acquit him could come back to haunt them in November.
“A lot of people are going to look at the Republican Party and say, `They were more about protecting the president than they were about finding out what really happened,’” California Representative Gil Cisneros, one of the last House Democrats to back an impeachment inquiry, said in an interview.
Trump too can now boast he has survived both an inquiry by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian election meddling in 2016 to help him get elected and now impeachment, efforts that he has said are driven by “Deep State” elements within the U.S. government opposed to his presidency.
Reuters/Ipsos polling shows that the impeachment proceedings have not had an impact on Trump’s popularity among Americans.
The latest poll, conducted on Feb. 3-4, showed 42% of American adults approved of his performance, while 54% disapproved. That is nearly the same as it was when the House launched its impeachment inquiry in September, when his approval stood at 43% and his disapproval at 53%.
“The ultimate deciders are the independent voters who seem to have broken at least even, if not slightly in favor of the president on the issue of fairness,” of the process, said Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, where Trump scored a solid victory in 2016.
Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, whose concerns over impeachment led him to abandon the Democratic Party for the Republicans, said of Trump: “I don’t think anybody’s invulnerable, and I don’t think you should ever say that.”
But he added: “I certainly think it’s benefited him.”
Reporting by James Oliphant, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, Steve Holland, Chris Kahn and David Morgan; Editing by Ross Colvin and Howard Goller

US homeless student population reaches 1.5m, the highest in a decade
A study reports a 15% increase in the past three years among homeless students, with a 137% spike in those living on the streets
February 4, 2020
by Vivian Ho in San Francisco
The Guardian
The number of public school students experiencing homelessness in the US has increased 15% in the past three years, reaching its highest number in more than a decade.
More than 1.5 million students reported experiencing homelessness during the 2017-18 school year, according to a study by the National Center for Homeless Education, with California at the forefront with 263,000 students.
The 2017-18 number was the highest number that the NCHE has reported since it began tracking this data in 2004, George Hancock, the center director, told the Guardian. “We’re seeing it throughout the country,” he said.
The majority of homeless students, whose ages range from pre-kindergarten at age 3 to grade 12 at age 18 or older, reported that they were forced to stay with friends or relatives due to loss of their primary housing or economic hardship. More than 182,000 students reported living in shelters, transitional housing or were awaiting foster care – a 2% decrease from previous years.
However, the number of students living in unsheltered situations, such as on the streets, spiked by 137% to more than 102,000 in the past three years.
The new homeless student count reflects a much more serious uptick in the homeless population than that of the US Department of Housing and Urban and Development’s 2019 point-in-time estimates, which adheres to a different definition of what constitutes homelessness. The 2019 annual homeless assessment reported that the homeless population increased nationwide by 3% to more than 567,000, with more than 107,000 under the age of 18.
Experts theorize that factors ranging from housing costs to natural disasters are behind the nationwide growth. The students that qualify as unaccompanied homeless youth make up 8.6% of the total count, meaning the majority of homeless students are homeless with their families.
Housing instability can severely affect a child’s development and ability to learn. During this school year, the study found that only about 29% of students experiencing homelessness achieved academic proficiency in reading, roughly 24% achieved proficiency in mathematics and fewer than 26% achieved proficiency in science.
“What’s difficult for students that are facing homelessness is that everything is so up-in-the-air,” Hancock said. “When you think about what kind of things a student needs to succeed, those kind of stabilizing features are not available to the typical family facing homelessness and it has a direct impact on a student’s ability to perform in a classroom.”
Another challenge for homeless students is focusing on their studies while also coping with the trauma of homelessness, Hancock said. Social workers and local liaisons are working on a local level to not just identify those experiencing homelessness, but providing them the right support when they do. “A part of our work is trying to provide some technical assistance to make sure more folks know how to address trauma and that teachers, principals are trained in how to respond when families are experiencing that kind of trauma and experiencing homelessness,” he said.

They’ve turned their backs on us’: California’s homeless crisis grows in numbers and violence
In a state with the world’s fifth largest economy, physical assaults and criminalization efforts have made 2019 a particularly grim year for the homeless
December 27, 2019
by Sam Levin in Los Angeles
The Guardian
As homelessness surged to crisis levels in California in 2019, so did the violent attacks on people living in tents and on sidewalks and the political and law enforcement efforts to keep homeless encampments off the streets.
Physical assaults and criminalization efforts combined have made 2019 a particularly grim and terrifying year for many Californians struggling to survive without a roof over their head.
“They are trying to shove us underneath the carpet, and it’s just not fair,” said Shanna Couper Orona, 46, who is currently living out of an RV in San Francisco. “San Francisco is supposed to be progressive, a place where you love everyone, take care of everyone … But they’ve turned their backs on us just because we’re unhoused. They are leaving us with nothing.”
Amid expanding crisis, a surge in homeless victims
In a state with the world’s fifth largest economy, an IPO tech boom and some of the richest people on earth, California’s severe affordable housing shortage has become what advocates describe as a moral failing and public health emergency.
Los Angeles experienced a 16% increase in homelessness this year, with a total of 36,000 people now homeless across the city, including 27,000 without shelter. San Francisco’s homeless count surged 17% to more than 8,000 people. There was a 42% increase in San Jose, a 47% increase in Oakland, a 52% increase in Sacramento county and increases in the Central Valley agricultural region and wealthy suburbs of Orange county.
There were patterns across cities: huge numbers of people experiencing homelessness for the first time, evictions and unaffordable rents leading people to the streets, families and seniors increasingly homeless, and higher rates of the homeless not getting shelter.
“Homeless people are everywhere now, and they are becoming more and more desperate,” said Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, an LA pastor who was formerly homeless and now works with people living on Skid Row, known for its massive encampments. “All of these people are human beings. We need to respond to this as if it’s an earthquake.”
The growing visibility has led to an increase in complaints, news coverage focused on housed people who reside near encampments, and intense media attention on the rare cases of violence perpetuated by people living on the streets.
Communities have largely declined to treat the crisis like a natural disaster that demands humanitarian aid. In many places, what followed instead was a backlash, and in some cases overt attacks.
There were at least eight incidents in LA where people threw flammable liquids or makeshift explosives at homeless people or their tents this year, according to authorities and the Los Angeles Times.
A 62-year-old beloved musician’s tent was set on fire in Skid Row in August, killing him in what police say was an intentional killing. That month, two men also allegedly threw a “firework” at an encampment, causing a blaze that grew into a major brush fire just outside of the city. One of the men arrested was the son of a local chamber of commerce president. Police said this fire was intentional. In a separate attack, a molotov cocktail destroyed tents and donations.
In San Francisco, a man was caught on video appearing to dump a bucket of water on a homeless woman and her belongings on the sidewalk in June. Witnesses said it seemed to be a deliberate “attack”.
Three months later, San Franciscans who said they were upset with homeless people in their neighborhood paid to install two-dozen knee-high boulders along a sidewalk in an effort to stop them from living on the streets.
In neighboring Oakland, a resident recently put up an unauthorized concrete barrier in the middle of the street to deter homeless people from parking RVs. A real estate developer taunted homeless people by shouting “free money” at them and offering to pay them to leave their encampment in Oakland.
Residents repeatedly organized against proposed homeless shelters in their neighborhoods, most notably in a wealthy San Francisco area where locals crowdfunded $70,000 to hire an attorney to fight a shelter project.
“A lot of it is brought out by this fear of the other as if their homeless neighbors are not neighbors at all, or not even people for that matter,” said TJ Johnston, who is currently staying in shelters in San Francisco and is an editor with Street Sheet, a local homelessness publication. Hearing wealthy residents complain this year was like watching angry online comment sections come to life, he said: “It’s very dehumanizing to be looked upon as a nuisance.”
A ‘terrifying’ trend: jailing people for being ‘too poor’
As the crisis has worsened, local governments have spent billions to create new housing and provide services, but the scale of the response has been inadequate. Cities have increasingly looked to law enforcement and legal maneuvers to tackle the problem.
Those political efforts to further criminalize the homeless in turn have sparked intense anger and fear among the homeless population and their advocates.
LA leaders fought to ban people from sleeping on streets and sidewalks throughout the city. In Lancaster, a desert city north of LA, the mayor has pushed a proposal to ban groups that provide food to homeless people and suggested people should buy firearms to protect themselves from violent people on the streets.
This month, in a case closely watched by many west coast cities, the US supreme court dealt a victory to homeless advocates by allowing an existing ruling to stand that states governments cannot ban people from living on the street if they don’t offer enough shelter beds.
Officials in Oakland have proposed a new policy to cite homeless people in parks while some have suggested setting up a shelter in a defunct jail. Law enforcement leaders in Bakersfield in the Central Valley pushed a plan to throw homeless people in jail for misdemeanor offenses. A state taskforce has also suggested a similar system of forcibly placing homeless people into shelters.
These efforts ignore the overwhelming evidence that criminalization and locking people up are costly and harmful responses that fail to fix the crisis, said Eve Garrow, homelessness policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
“There’s a dangerous and disturbing movement in California to address homelessness not by expanding access to safe, affordable and permanent housing … but by jailing people,” she said. “It’s a terrifying prospect of a world in which we segregate, incarcerate and restrict the civil liberties of people just because they have disabilities and they are too poor to afford a home in our skyrocketing private rental market.”
Fears and unfounded stereotypes about people experiencing homelessness seem to be driving these policy pushes to jail those in need, she said.
The Trump administration has created further anxiety by repeatedly suggesting he might pursue some kind of police crackdown in California to clear the streets of encampments.
The president has used the crisis to attack Democratic leaders in the state, and has complained about homeless people in LA and San Francisco taking up space on the “best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings … where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige”.
“It’s a huge concern – are they just going to take people to jail?” said Kat Doherty, an LA woman who became homeless this year and is living at a shelter at Skid Row. Trump’s talk has terrified her and others, she said. “It’s horrendous. It sounds like a death camp situation.”
With the president promoting criminalization, it could inspire some anti-Trump Democrats in California to push back, said Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director for the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco. “There’s some hopefulness that it will force the local municipalities to shift in opposition to Trump and talk about how criminalization doesn’t work.”
But some are not optimistic about 2020, especially since the crisis is on track to continue escalating, with people falling into homelessness at rates that far outpace governments’ ability to find housing for those on the street.
“Conditions are going to get worse – and the responses are going to get worse,” said Jn-Marie.
If the political attacks continue next year, some said they hoped to see more communities fighting to stand up for the homeless.
“I want people to give a fuck and help. Don’t just ignore it,” Orona said. “Just because we’re unhoused doesn’t mean we’re not San Francisco residents. We still have a heartbeat. We still buy food. We still exist.”

The Empire in Collapse
Because of the growing, and serious, public discontent that had been manifested during the course of the Vietnamese War from 1950 through 1973, the American governmental establishment resolved to take steps to recognize, infiltrate and neutralize any significant future national anti-government actions.
Once the most powerful nation, the United States is rapidly losing its premier position in the international sphere while at the same time facing a potential serious anti-government political movement developing in that country. The number of unemployed in the United States today is approximately 97,000,000. Official American sources claim that employment is always improving but in fact it is not. Most official governmental releases reflect wishful thinking or are designed to placate the public
This situation is caused by the movement, by management, of manufacturing businesses to foreign labor markets. While these removals can indeed save the companies a great deal of expenditure on domestic labor, by sharply reducing their former worker bodies to a small number, the companies have reduced the number of prospective purchasers of expensive items like automobiles.
The U.S. government’s total revenue is estimated to be $3.654 trillion for fiscal year 2019.
•Personal income taxes contribute $1.836 trillion, half of the total.
•Another third ($1.224 trillion) comes from payroll taxes.
This includes $892 billion for Social Security, $270 billion for Medicare and $50 billion for unemployment insurance.
•Corporate taxes add $355 billion, only 10 percent.
•Customs excise taxes and tariffs on imports contribute $146 billion, just 4 percent
•The Federal Reserve’s net income adds $70 billion.
•The remaining $23 billion of federal income comes from estate taxes and miscellaneous receipts.
•The use of secret offshore accounts by US citizens to evade U.S. federal taxes costs the U.S. Department of the Treasury well over $100 billion annually.
By moving from a producing to an importing entity, the United States has developed, and is developing, serious sociological and economic problems in a significant number of its citizens, and many suffer from serious health problems that are not treated.
It is estimated that over 500,000 American citizens are without any form of housing. Many of these people either are living on the streets, in public parks, living in cars or in charity shelters. There are at present over 200,000 family groups in America with over 300,000 individuals involved and 25% of the total are minor children.
Over 80,000 individuals are permanently without any residence. Many of these have physical disabilities such as chronic alcoholism or drug addiction. Many are classified as having severe mental disorders.
About 50,000 of these homeless individuals are military veterans, many of whom have serious physical or mental problems. One of the most common mental disorders is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Governmental treatment for these individuals is virtually non-existent. Approximately half of this number are either black or Latin American (“Hispanics” in official designation.)
Of the total number of the homeless individuals, approximately 10% are female.
Official but private, estimates are that there over 500,000 youths below the age of 24 in current American society that find themselves homeless for periods lasting from one week to a permanent status.
Over 100,000 of this class are young people who are defined as being homosexual. Those in this class find themselves persecuted to a considerable degree by society in general and their peer groups in specific.
Approximately 50% of this homeless population are over the age of 50, many of whom suffer from chronic, debilitating physical illnesses that are not treated.
Drug deaths in the U.S. in 2017 exceeded 60,000. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involved prescriptions. Opioids are a class of strong painkillers drugs and include Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin which are synthetic drugs designed to resemble opiates such as opium derived morphine and heroin. The most dangerous opioid is Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. The increasing demand for these drugs is causing them to be manufactured outside the United States.
Suicide is the primary cause of “injury death” in the United States and more U.S. military personnel on active duty have killed themselves than were killed in combat last year.
The growing instability of American families is manifested by the fact that:
• One out of every three children in America lives in a home without a father.
• More than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock for women under the age of 30 living in the United States
• The United States has the highest child abuse death rate in the developed world.
• The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world although the numbers have declined in recent years due to the use of contraceptives.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world. The criminal justice system in the United States holds more than 4,166,000 people in 1,719 state prisons, 102,000 in federal prisons, 901,000 in juvenile correctional facilities, and 3,163,000 in local jails. Additionally, 5,203,400 adults are on probation or on parole.
The number of people on probation or parole has increased the population of the American corrections system to more than 9,369,400 in 2017. Corrections costs the American taxpayer $69 billion a year.
There are a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (67 million by conservative estimate) which have been sliced up, put into so-called “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign. This problem has been covered up by American authorities by cloaking the facts in something called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System)
This results in the fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own.
Another festering problem consists of the official loans made to students in colleges and universities in the U.S. the predatory nature of the $90 billion student loan industry. These so-called student loans are the most serious economic problem faced today by American university students.
This problem arose due to federal legislation originating in the mid-1990s which effectively removed basic consumer protections from student loans, thus permitting extensive penalties and the methodology for enforced collection.
Because of the highly inflated cost of higher American education, very few students from high school can afford university education. The new college graduate has, on average, a student loan in excess of $20,000 and students attending graduate programs have average debts of over $40,000.
America today has seriously failing public school systems. Upper economic class Americans are able to send their children to expensive private schools and avoid the exceedingly incompetent public systems. The average American lower school graduates are only a step above illiteracy and their lack of knowledge of world affairs is quite unbelievable.
A small number of extremely wealthy men control and operate all of the major American print and television media.
Each of the few very powerful, rich men have their own reasons for deciding what qualifies as news.
But the public in America now gets its news, without cost, from various internet sites and the circulation number of major print news has dropped dramatically. This has forced the internet editions of the print news media to erect what they call “paywalls.” This permits a very limited number of articles to be read or downloaded before the system demands money for the use of additional material.
The major print media in America is faced with imminent bankruptcy and are making frantic efforts at attempts to prevent free news sites from being aired on the internet.
Government surveillance of the American public is very widespread and at the present time, almost every aspect of an American citizen, or resident, is available for official surveillance. This includes mail, television viewing, telephone conversations, computer communications, travel, ownership of property, medical and school records, banking and credit card transactions, inheritances and other aspects of a citizen’s daily life.
This is done to circumvent any possible organization that could contravene official government policy and has its roots in massive civil resistance to governmental policy during the war in Vietnam. The government does not want a reprise of that problem and its growing surveillance is designed to carefully watch any citizen, or groups of citizens, who might, present or future, pose a threat to government policy.
Another factor to be considered is the current American attitudes towards racial issues. There has always been prejudice in the United States against blacks. In 1943 there were bloody riots in Detroit and Los Angeles, the former aimed at blacks and the latter against Mexicans. Since then, there has been chronic racial prejudice but it has been relatively small and very local. Also, there is growing anti-Semitic prejudice in American but this is officially ignored and never is mentioned in the American media. Much of this growing problem is directed at the brutal actions of Israel against Palestinians. Israelis have an undue influence in the American political scene. The very far right so-called neo-cons are almost all Jewish and most are Israeli citizens. Also, the middle-level ranks of American CIA personnel are heavily infiltrated by Israelis and it is said that any secret the CIA has is at once passed to Israel and that countries needs are assuming importance in CIA actions.
The attitudes of the working class Americans were inflamed during the last presidential elections by Mr. Trump who catered to them and encouraged rebellious attitudes. By speaking against Central American illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has caused a polarization of attitudes and the militant right wing in America, currently small in number but well-organized and potentially very dangerous, has begun to make its views very well known in public demonstrations.
This movement has played into the hands of far-right American political manipulators.
It is their intention to clandestinely arm these groups and use them to cause violent public confrontations with the far left groups.
By causing this potential violence, the manipulators intend to use the American military to move into unstable area to, as they say, ‘establish law and order’ while in reality, they will use martial law to firm up their basic control of a potentially fractious public.
It is then intended, according to information, to incorporate organized, para-military groups into a sort of domestic Federal police force. These people will not be punished for their actions but rewarded and utilized to ensure further right-wing control of the country.

A new Treasury Department opens up
by Christian Jürs
The CIA, has been responsible for manufacturing the nearly-perfect counterfeit 50 and 100-dollar-notes that Washington has been accusing the North Koreans of making.The charge comes after an extensive investigation in Europe and Asia by the German BfV and after interviews with counterfeit money experts and leading representatives of the high-security publishing industry.
The U.S.-dollar forgeries, designated ‘Supernotes,’ are so good that even specialists are unable to distinguish them from genuine notes, have circulated for almost two decades without a reliable identification of the culprits. Because of their extraordinary quality, experts had assumed that some country must have been behind the enterprise.
The administration of George W. Bush had officially accused Pyongyang of the deed in the autumn of 2005, derailing Six-Party Talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Since then, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased considerably. America charged that North Korea has been financing its rocket and nuclear weapons program with the counterfeit ‘Supernotes.’
North Korea is one of the world’s poorest nations and lacks the technological capability to produce notes of such high quality. According to the BfV, North Korea is at present unable to even produce the won, the North Korean currency.
The German sources state that the CIA has printed the falsified ‘Supernotes’ at a secret facility near Washington to fund covert operations without Congressional oversight. The same agency has also been falsifying Euros to fund its large-scale bribery of German government officials.

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 inaccuratr.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter78

In Minnesota, dinner was finished and Chuck went into the living room to watch the weather channel. It was still raining fairly heavily and he was waiting for the local weather to see if it might change into snow. He had just missed this segment and had to wait for another half hour. Gwen picked up the control and began to surf the channels, finally stopping at one of the season’s hit programs, ‘Time for Jackie’ which was a heartwarming story about a young mongoloid who taught his family how to find happiness and mutual understanding.
“God, what a repulsive program,” Chuck said as he looked at his watch.
“That’s a terrible thing to say,” Claude interjected, “It’s supposed to have the best ratings on television this year, although I suspect the figures are skewed.”
“For God’s sake, look at the little freak! He’s drooling all over the breakfast table! People don’t watch crap like this, do they?”
“I don’t think as many as the networks would like. Why don’t you turn the sound down? You can’t understand him anyway.”
Gwen turned to another channel and they watched a PBS program about Lord Nelson instead.

Montez went out onto the roof holding his bulky toolbox out in front of him and then maneuvered his way through the narrow alley between the elevator housing and the cooling units. He knelt down behind the smaller unit, opened up the heavy metal toolbox and took out a small, portable Russian-made rocket launcher. He set three rockets carefully down on the duckboard and put the launcher beside them. Montez knew the exact range and had preset the sights for that distance. All that remained now was to wait for the proper moment and be certain of his target.
He had taken the precaution of putting on a suit of thermal underwear before donning his business suit but it was still very cold and the wind blew through the tunnel straight into his back. His very expensive night vision glasses showed the glow of light in the windows in front of him but the curtains were drawn and all he could make out of the occupants were moving shadows.
Inside the penthouse, servants were circulating among the guests with trays of canapés and drinks. The President, accompanied by his host, moved in a practiced manner from group to group, exchanging pleasantries, smiling to people he had never met and had no interest in and wishing that he could have a good, stiff belt of sipping bourbon instead of the champagne his host’s servants were offering everyone.
The Mayor was friendly and there had been a brief but productive conversation about Federal funds for a new airport and a sub-cabinet post for the Mayor’s cousin, all contingent on a successful reelection in November.
“Don’t worry about that, Mr. President,” the jovial Mayor had said, “why Chicago has the most extensive cemeteries in the United States and believe me, every one of those stiffs voted for Kennedy. In fact, several may even have voted twice!”
There was knowing laughter and the President spoke with an influential mid-West banker whose bank was seeking permission to merge with two other banks. So far, bureaucrats had been holding up the merger but the President assured the banker, who had brought his eighteen year old mistress to the function, that he believed that bigger was most often best and that the combined assets represented by the merger could do so much more for Illinois depositors. And it was unspoken that the merger would do so much more for the banker and his family.
Mark Mitnik was honored with a brief meeting with the Chief Executive who kept calling him Mr. Minton, and eventually the attorney went into a side room with the state party chairman for a private chat.
Rush took the President by the elbow.
“Mr. President, I want you to come over here and see something you will never forget.”
He walked him across the room to the curtained windows and pointed at them.
“Out there is the best view in town, believe me. Some jerk tried to put up a building between me and the lake but I pounded him right into the ground.”
He picked up a small plastic control box.
“Your people told me to keep the drapes shut but just let me show you something absolutely beautiful…”
Mrs. Mitnik and the Mayor joined them as Charles Rush pressed a button and the high gray silk drapes silently opened.
“Look over there, Mr. President. Isn’t that a real view? That’s Michigan Boulevard over there…”
The President, standing next to his shorter host, did indeed admire the view of the lights reflected in the glittering lake.
Montez saw the sudden flood of light as the curtains opened, picked up the rocket launcher and peered through the telescopic sight.
He had been given several pictures of Charles Rush and recognized him immediately. The taller man next to him seemed familiar and he looked more closely at him through his night vision glasses. He realized, with a great shock to his system, that he had come perilously close to having assassinated the President of the United States.
As this was not part of his contract and because he was well aware of the intense security surrounding the man standing next to Charles Rush, he immediately backed away from his position and set down the rocket projector.
Senor Montez didn’t waste any time in leaving the area as quickly as possible and he quickly took off the work coveralls and the rubber work boots, stuffed them into a vent along with the launcher and the rockets and rapidly went down the steps to the floor below and took the elevator to the lobby. He passed the security guard, who did not recognize him, and walked through the front door and onto the street. It was very cold and windy and Montez crossed the street and got into a parked cab.
The driver was standing on the sidewalk, smoking a cigar.
Montez stuck his head out of the window.
“Are you in service?”
The driver turned and realized that he had a fare.
“Yeah, sure.”
The driver slid behind the wheel.
“Where to?”
“O’Hare. Is that too far for you?”
“Shit no. I make that run all the time. Have you there in a half hour or less.”
And they drove off into traffic, moving away from the conviviality and high-minded conversations in the Rush penthouse.

(Continued)

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

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Ryan Sorba

Ryan Sorba is the Chairman of the Young Conservatives of California and a tireless anti-gay activist. Indeed, at a 2011 conference at the cargo cult version of an educational institution Liberty University, Sorba claimed that “‘gay’ is a left-wing socio-political construct designed to create grounds for fundamental rights [based on] whimsical capricious desires,” and that “gay identity does not exist.” (There is an illuminating conversation between Sorba and Alex Knepper, an openly gay conservative, recounted here). Accordingly, he urged people to stop using the word ‘gay’; instead, he suggested using “same-sex attraction”, “same-sex intercourse”, “sodomy”, “unnatural vice” and, for good measure, “anti-Christian”. He also blamed Republicans for losing what he apparently thinks of as a “war” promulgated by the homosexual lobby: “Our movement decided to abandon the real issue of homosexual behavior … with our major focus around protecting the word marriage,” said Sorba. He is also on record displaying a complete and utter lack of understanding of what a right is (or “truth”): “A civil right that conflicts with natural right is no right at all;” said Sorba: “The behavior is immoral. It divides you from truth and what’s the meaning of life. If you don’t have truth, you have nothing but fake.” As Sorba sees it, homosexuality is more like a hobby akin to playing basketball and surfing. Bryan Fischer and the AFA defended him. That should have given ordinary reasonable people pause.
Sorba is also the author of The Born Gay Hoax, which must count as poorly researched even by the standards of Sorba’s particular genre – the motivation for his “research methodology” is interesting, however. He has, moreover, been a regular at the religious right’s Awakening conference and an instructor at Peter LaBarbera’s “3 days of truth” conference.
Diagnosis: Though he received some 15 minutes of fame for his CPAC rant in 2011, Sorba seems to be, ultimately, a rather minor figure on the losing side of the culture war. He is rather aggressive and angry about his cause, however, so it is probably recommended to maintain a safe distance.

Kristine Severyn

Medical Voices is an antivaccine website that seems to pretend to offer scholarly articles written by various quacks, pseudoscientists and denialists on various medical issues loosely related to vaccines (or: it used to be; at present it seems to have reverted to its origin as the International Medical Council on Vaccination). The publication criteria seem mostly to be that the author uses (or misuses) medical terms in their articles, and their academic standards are otherwise non-existent. The goal, however, seems clearly to be to have a repository of articles that quacks can cite in a manner that superficially looks scholarly practice, which they certainly need given that they otherwise struggle to have their rants published in outlets that care about details like evidence, fact and accuracy. The list of people who have published on the site accordingly makes for a fairly comprehensive list of the most egregious woo-promoters and antivaccine advocates in the US, including Joe Mercola, Suzanne Humphries, Bob Sears, Russell Blaylock and Sherri Tenpenny.
Kristine Severyn has also “published” with Medical Voices. Severyn is an “RPh, PhD” and antivaccine activist. For Medical Voices, Severyn published the article “Profits, Not Science, Motivate Vaccine Mandates,” where she argued that “[v]accines represent an economic boon for pediatricians. Profitable well-baby visits are timed to coincide with vaccination schedules established by the AAP and the CDC,” and therefore that vaccine mandates are not motivated by science – the shill gambit is a recurring strategy in Medical Voices articles. Of course, in real life (yes: there are studies on this), “the vaccination portion of the business model for primary care pediatric practices that serve private-pay patients results in little or no profit from vaccine delivery. When losses from vaccinating publicly insured children are included, most practices lose money.” It is worth emphasizing, however, that Severyn’s conclusion wouldn’t follow even if one assumed the opposite of what is actually the case with regard to profits.
Severyn is otherwise the founder of Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety, which has long been fighting for religious as well as “moral and philosophical” exemptions to vaccinations in Ohio as well as pushing various myths and conspiracy theories about vaccines (including aborted fetal tissue scaremongering and falsely claiming that vaccines aren’t tested). Severyn, a registered Republican, has apparently also been involved in various anti-abortion campaigns.
Diagnosis: A tireless veteran campaigner for unreason, denialism and conspiracy theories, Severyn is perhaps not among the most notable celebrities in the antivaccine movement, but her persistent efforts to promote myths and falsehoods are surely not making a positive contribution to humanity.

Stephanie Seneff

Stephanie Seneff is a real senior research scientist at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT, specializing in human–computer interaction and algorithms for language understanding and speech recognition. She is also a crackpot, pseudoscientist and conspiracy theorist trying to write about issues in biology and medicine, fields she demonstrably doesn’t understand. She has also managed to become something of an authority in the antivaccine and anti-GMO movements since people in these movements don’t notice or care that she has no competence in those fields as long as her credentials in completely unrelated fields give her crackpot rantings a sheen of authority. Not that Seneff herself would recognize the limits of her competence: “So basically what I do is I read papers and I process them with the computer to help me understand them and interpret them and generalize and build a story […]. Mostly what I do now is study, and then write. Trying to understand biology. I have an undergraduate degree from MIT in biology, and I also spent one year in graduate school in biology before switching over to computer science. And my PhD was on an auditory model for the human processing of speech. So that also involved biology, neurology. I’m not a complete ignoramus in the field of biology.” Actually, she is worse than an ignoramus; her description brilliantly illustrates a serious case of Dunning-Kruger and someone who is confidently scaling mount stupid.
So in 2011, Seneff began publishing articles on topics in biology and medicine, areas where she has no relevant qualifications or expertise, in low-impact or predatory open access journals, such as Interdisciplinary Toxicology, including eight papers in the journal Entropy between 2011 and 2015. It is rather important to emphasize, as Seneff herself admits in the above quote about how she does “research”, that Seneff “has published only speculations and gives many presentations, but has not created any new data” – there is no actual research going on; just manipulations of data from fields she doesn’t have any competence in; basically, her studies are review articles that just cherry-pick the results she wants to use and disregard the rest (some glaring examples are discussed here). Of course, her reviews have also been criticized for misrepresenting the results and conclusions of other researchers’ work, and for extensively relying on pseudoscientific studies and studies that have later been refuted – just to reach home base when even cherry-picking won’t suffice to get her where she wanted. And of course the “peer review process” isn’t going to notice given her choice of journals; the journals in question are pay-to-publish journals of the kind most serious researchers would classify as “predatory”, and the publisher of Entropy, MDPI, has a known history of publishing articles without merit
Glyphosate and anti-GMO insanity
Seneff and her regular coauthor Anthony Samsel – a “long time contributor to the Mercola.com Vital Votes Forum” (yes, that description was apparently intended to convey an air of authority) – have coauthored a series of, well, comments that associate glyphosate with a wide variety of diseases, including “gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease”. The comments have received quite a bit of media attention given her and her coauthors’ marketing of the results (one Carey Gilliam seems in particular to be a repeat offender when it comes to pushing Seneff’s conspiracy theories masked as “research” for various newspapers). The paper(s), of course, have no scientific merit – indeed, they have been characterized as “not even wrong” for instance due to “word salads about toxicology and biology that might as well be magic” – which is of course also why they were published in pseudojournals. Seneff and Samsel’s “results” are discussed in some detail here; a good primer on glyphosate is here. Seneff herself claimed that glyphosate is a major cause of autism and largely responsible for the current autism epidemic: “At today’s rates, by 2025, half the kids born will be diagnosed with autism,” Seneff said (the claim was picked up by Snopes after making its ways in the usual conspiracy-and-pseudoscience circles); indeed, she has gained some infamy for using a graph in her Powerpoint presentations that shows that 100% of all children born in 2050 will be born with autism. In other words, according to Seneff GMOs are going to make everyoneautistic. Yes, that’s the level of density we are talking about (for the record: there is no autism epidemic; increasing rates are probably exclusively due to changes in diagnostic practices). Real studies have also found no evidence that glyphosate is associated with adverse development outcomes, nor any of the other adverse outcomes Seneff asserts it is the cause of; indeed, glyphosate is probably among the least toxic herbicides there is. A 2017 Review Article in Frontiers in Public Health characterized Seneff’s glyphosate health-risk research claims as “at best unsubstantiated theories, speculations or simply incorrect.”
It is worth pointing out that infamous anti-GMO activist Michael Hansen of Consumers Union, who is himself no stranger to spouting insane conspiracy theories about science, thinks Anthony Samsel is so crazy that he should be avoided lest his side lose their credibility among the public (his side has precariously little credibility among scientists as it is).
Much of Seneff and Samsel’s work in these papers are simple applications of post-hoc fallacies, for instance when they suggest that “[t]he incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases such as juvenile onset Crohn’s disease has increased substantially in the last decade in Western Europe and the United States. It is reasonable to suspect that glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria may be contributing to these diseases and conditions.” It really isn’t reasonable, any more than blaming increased consumption of organic products. (And the connection to gut conditions matters, because they also adhere to the at best extremely controversial idea that gastrointestinal issues are a causal factor in autism – another correlation/causation failure, really). They make similarly ridiculous correlation/causation mistakes when trying to tie glyphosate to obesity; in fact, had they been careful, they would have seen that they don’t even actually have a correlation to mistake for causation in this case (further discussion here). They are not careful. Seneff also notes a correlation between deaths from senile dementia due to an aging population and … well, she doesn’t notice that association.
The proposed association between glyphosate and autism is further discussed here. According to Seneff, there is of course a correlation between the use of glyphosate and, well, really the expansion of diagnostic criteria and practices for autism (not the number of incidences); therefore, there must be a causal connection. “Is there a toxic substance that is currently in our environment on the rise in step with increasing rates of Autism that could explain this?… The answer is yes, I’m quite sure that I’m right, and the answer is glyphosate.” The evidence-free convictions of an electrical engineer with a history of pseudoscience really isn’t going to cut it in any context where truth, accuracy and evidence matter. And she really, really doesn’t get the correlation/causation thing; nor is she very careful about identifying actual correlation from which one could actually fallaciously derive causal claims.
And as mentioned above, it isn’t just autism, obesity, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimers. According to Seneff glyphosate exposure causes arthritis, concussions, Celiac disease, food allergies, and Parkinsons as well. Indeed, in an interview with anti-GMO activist, yogic flying instructor and conspiracy theorist Jeffrey Smith, Seneff upped her game even further: “I believe that glyphosate may be a contributor to all the – this epidemic that we have in school shootings and the thing that just happened in Boston (the Boston Bombing).”
Wait, was concussions on that list? Oh, yes. According to Seneff, glyphosate causes concussions (her coauthor on that rant was Wendy Morely, who is a “Registered Holistic Nutritionist” specializing in the nutrition of concussion; Morely has no neurology background either, of course). And yes, it’s just as insanely dumb as you would imagine. Their tortured reasoning process is discussed here, and the basic idea is a proposed “diminished brain resilience syndrome”: according to Seneff and Morely, concussions are on the increase because the general population has poor nutrition, disordered gut microbiota, and increased exposure to toxins like glyphosate and GMOs, which render the brain less resilient to injury and less able to repair itself after injury. There is a long road of fallacies and confusions to travel to make that connection look like it works even to those who know nothing about any of the relevant fields (notice how although Seneff and Morely add references behind some of the central figures in their arguments, the sources cited don’t actually contain those figures, and the suggested figures do, entirely unsurprisingly, contradict the figures actually found in the scientific literature.) Of course, the proposal collapses on the starting block, since there is no evidence at all for the claim that concussions are on the rise. In short: Seneff and Morely propose, without evidence, a nonsensical hypothesis to explain – something it couldn’t have done even if it were coherent – a phenomenon that don’t actually exist. The whole attempt is roughly as intelligent or credible as one that tried to use chi vibrations to explain how unicorns fly.
Anti-vaccine
Though Seneff has her own, wrong idea about the causes of autism, she has nevertheless thrown her lot in with the antivaccine movement. Indeed, according to Seneff, Alzheimer’s, which she has claimed is also caused by glyphosate – and sunscreen – is also caused by vaccines: “The elderly are greatly encouraged to renew their flu shots every single year, and I think this is another major factor that is steadily increasing their risk to Alzheimer’s disease. This is mainly due to the aluminum contained in the flu shot.” She doesn’t have any evidence of course; she just thinksthere is a connection. Some might even consider her claim to think vaccines are a factor in Alzheimer’s is false, due to a legitimate hesitancy to characterize what she is doing as thinking.
In 2012 Seneff was a coauthor with Jingjing Liu (from Seneff’s lab) and one Robert M. Davidson on “Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure”, published in their standard pay-to-publish journal Entropy (in fact, they also blame autism on mercury in the article, but probably didn’t dare put it in the title in case even the editors of Entropy, whom we suspect do not read beyond the title, would have noticed). There is a good review of the article here (“Rarely have I seen so much antivaccine pseudoscience packed into a single paper”). You get a feel for the contents of the paper from the way they frame their study: “The ASD community has maintained a long-standing conviction that vaccination plays a causative role in ASD, an idea that has been vehemently denied by the vaccine industry, but nonetheless is still hotly debated,” which must count as one of the most egregious manufactroversy gambits in the history of the Internet (it really isn’t hotly debated, the ASD community is not in general antivaccine, and refutations of the proposed link have not come from the vaccine industry). And yes, they cite celebrity fraud Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent and retracted 1998 paper as evidence. They also cite Gayle DeLong, Mark Geier, Boyd Haley, Helen Ratajczak and really a whole cornucopia of antivaccine conspiracy theories published in bottom-feeding or predatory journals, while systematically of course neglecting the overwhelming amount of large, real, serious and extensive studies that consistently yield results that don’t fit their narrative. It is actually not entirely clear what their thesis is; the antivaccine movement has blamed everything from thimerosal to aluminum adjuvants, and Seneff et al. seem to cite it all equally approvingly despite the fact that the claims contradict each other. Of course, the MMR vaccine has never contained either aluminum or thimerosal, but Seneff et al. don’t seem to have gotten the memo and blithely go from blaming “heavy metals” like mercury and aluminum for the “autism epidemic” to blaming the MMR vaccine. They also blame vaccines for SIDS, despite vaccines being negatively correlated with SIDS. Then they dumpster-dive in the VAERS database. (And no, they apparently don’t really have the faintest idea what the VAERS database actually is, but nevertheless went on to “torture the data until it confessed”) And that’s just the start. At least their paper provides an illuminating illustration of how anti-vaccine “researchers” work.
Despite Because of her lack of expertise or knowledge in the fields she is writing about Seneff has become a central character in the antivaccine movement, and she participated in the antivaccine film Vaxxed, for instance, as well as in the antivaccine series The Truth about Vaccines.
Cholesterol denialism and more
Seneff has also put her degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to work in dreaming up theories that ADHD is caused by eating too many low fat foods, that autism is caused by a cholesterol/vitamin D deficiency syndrome because mothers eat too many low fat foods and use too much sunscreen (her 2008 essay “Sunscreen and Low-fat Diet: A Recipe for Disaster”), that sulfur deficiency causes obesity (sulfur deficiency is of course not actually a thing, but Seneff knows nothing about chemistry, biology or medicine), and that a low fat diet and statin drugs (for high cholesterol) can cause Alzheimer’s.
Yes, Seneff (and colleagues) have also aligned themselves with the conspiracy theorists in the cholesterol denialist group THINC (yes, cholesterol denialism is of course a thing) and garbage-published on the health impacts of fat and cholesterol consumption in America. According to Seneff Americans are suffering from a cholesterol deficiency; this is, to put it diplomatically, incorrect. In 2014–2016 Seneff was accordingly proposed as an expert witness for litigators seeking damages from Pfizer associated with their cholesterol drug Lipitor, but the court dismissed the suggestion, of course, since Seneff has no expertise in the field and failed to provide credible evidence linking Lipitor to any specific harm.
Oh, and she has also blamed low fat diets and statins on autism. So, just to tally up: thus far Seneff has blamed autism on low fat diets and statins, GMOs and glyphosate, sulfate deficiency, vaccines, aluminium and painkillers. That’s what happens when you don’t understand the difference between correlation and causation and is also really bad at actually identifying correlations, we suppose. Her regular coauthor Anthony Samsel, meanwhile, has even proposed that water dynamics are responsible for autism.
As a result of her stalwart efforts on behalf of dangerous nonsense, Stephanie Seneff is currently on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI). She has no relevant qualifications to assess the medical safety of anything whatsoever, of course, but that probably makes her a fine match for the CMSRI, which is a conspiracy-mongering pseudoscience organization.
Diagnosis: It is worth emphasizing again: Stephanie Seneff has no expertise, background or competence in anything related to medicine, biology or how to use population studies. And she has done no research whatsoever on the topics she writes about. Her output isn’t studies, but conspiracy rants superficially structured like research papers and published in pay-to-publish journals. Seneff is a pseudoscientist and a tragic case of Dunning-Kruger. But she has also found a receptive audience, and even mainstream media isn’t always able to distinguish her writings from science. Dangerous.

One response so far

  1. Re: new Treasury Department.

    Not particularly related to the article, but for some time now I’ve had the feeling that Mnuchin was put at the Treasury for a reason. In other words, it would not surprise me if some years up the road we discover that the books at the Treasury itself had been considered fair game by Trump and Co.

    With your knowledge of DC has this ever come up or been suspected by some?

Leave a Reply