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TBR News January 18, 2016

Jan 17 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. , January 18, 2016:  ”An interesting and informative trip. The Russians and the Germans have been holding long, and very private, talks about forming an economic union. The Germans are the dominant member of the EU and are getting very tired of supporting a host of poverty-stricken Euro trash as well as putting up with an enormous flood of Middle Eastern refugees. Many of these are respectable professional types who will be able to contribute to the German economy but many are basicially young thugs, hostile to European culture and immersed in petty, but often not so petty, drime. Rapes are growing in both Sweden and Germany and both countries are planning draconian soultions to this problem while the French have an enourmous glut of poor Arabs, many from Algeria orignally and these are home to malcontented youths who are an easy target for IS recruiters. None of the civilized European countries are interested in a reprise of the radical Muslim terrorist attacks that devastated Paris and, very privately, talks are being held about the EU’s version of a Final Solution. No, there are no plans to set up a concentration camp system and turn legions of Mediterranean types into lampshades or bars of soap but roundups and forced return to home countries are certainly at the top of the list. Another Paris-type attack would be sufficient to justify such radical moves and if there were such an action on the part of Muslim young radicals, the response would have already been thought out and in place. Only the time and the place are unknown factors but that such violent acts will come to Europe is beyond any doubt.”

Conversations with the Crow

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, 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 his Washington 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

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.



Conversation No. 49

Date: Thursday, November 28, 1996

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded: 9:22 AM CST


RTC: How are you today, Gregory?

GD: Been up since six working on the next Mueller book. Working on the concentration camp business.

RTC: A sensitive and profitable subject. For the same people. My God, what a money-maker that one is!

GD: Tell me about it. An established writer like Irving could never approach it. If he did, the Jews would go for his throat. Or his back more like it. Did you have many dealings with them?

RTC: As individuals or as professional agents?

GD: Either.

RTC: I have to tell you, Gregory, that I do not like Jews very much and I do not trust any of them. I know a few as individuals and some as agents. Jim loved them and spent half his time sucking up to the Mossad creeps. It bothered me because they were using him, but Jim loved flattery and ate it up. I don’t and I’m an Irish Catholic boy from Chicago. Jim was part Mexican and maybe that was part of it. Anyway, with Jews, it’s take, take and never give. You can’t trust any of them to the corner for a pound of soft soap.

GD: I don’t get involved but I have had bad experiences with them. Always watch your back around them has been my experience.

RTC: I have a report for you made for the UN in ’48 listing all their crimes against the Palestinian. The abused child becomes the abusing parent. My God, those filthy Polacks did terrible, vicious things to the Arabs. Murdered them, poisoned their farm wells, killed their animals and finally slaughtered whole villages of them, women and children. The Jews claim they own the Holy Land but these are Polack Jews and had nothing to do with Palestine. The Russian Jews are the same breed and Stalin, who really hated Jews, used them to butcher Russian Christians whom they hated. And then Josef planned to kill off all the Jews in Moscow.

GD: What about that?

RTC: Round them all up, put them in boxcars and ship them off to Siberia in mid-winter. He planned to slaughter all of them. And after all the filthy work they did for him, too! An ungrateful but realistic man.

GD: Why was this turn-about? He loved Jews, didn’t he?

RTC: No, he did not. Josef was far-sighted and knew, and said, that Jews had no loyalty to anyone except themselves. They hate all other people and feel that anything they do to them is justified. They claim centuries of persecution as their excuse.

GD: Yes, isn’t it odd that over thousands of years, everyone has persecuted the poor Jews. One wonders why.

RTC: Why? They burrow into the machinery of the state and the banking system and eventually take it over. And then, always, the locals get after them and either set them on fire or drive them out of their area or country. This has been going on for many centuries. One could say that the Jews of the world have been very unlucky or people know what they’re doing when they pile up wood for the burning pyres or set up camps.

GD: The stories about gassed millions is hysterically funny. Puts me in mind of the stories about the Easter Bunny or the Second Coming. Useful lies for children on one hand and a means to get money out of the suckers who actually believe the silliness about the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon and other idiotic legends. Barnum was right.

RTC: Yes, he was. And I once looked into the camp story just because I could. There is much on this issue at the National Archives but most people can’t see it.

GD: Why not?

RTC: The Jews don’t want you see this. It would destroy the myth of vast gas chambers and soap factories. My God, Gregory, the Jews make vast sums of money off these made-up stories. I can just hear some raddled Jewess moaning in a furniture store about how her whole family was gassed and can she get 50% off on that chair? Oh yes, I know all about such creatures. And now, the Mossad wants us to hunt down people they don’t like, or send them confidential files on people they want to blackmail. They robbed and murdered the Arabs, so they have to hate them to justify their filthy behavior. The Arabs outnumber them 20 to 1 but the Israelis have us behind them so they literally can get away with murder. And how do they have our support? By working their way into the system, by owning most of the media, by bribery and blackmail, by political pressure. I could go on for days but I just ate breakfast and I don’t want to vomit onto my lap.

GD: I knew the Polish Jews in Munich after the war. Jesus H. Christ, Robert, I have never seen such really terrible people in my life. They were all up on the Muehl Strasse and going there to buy cheap butter for my friends was quite an experience. It was like tiptoeing into a den of circling hyenas. I was always neutral as far as Jews were concerned, but my experiences there radically altered my views. They were DPs. Displaced Persons. Couldn’t go back to Poland where the locals would have shoved them into barns and set them on fire. The Germans got blamed for much of that, but it was the local Poles who snuffed all the Jews in the neighborhood once their central government fell apart in ’39. A friend of mine was a Major in the thirty seventh infantry and he said the Poles would round up all the Jews and barbecue them. Said some of the villages smelt like a badly-vented crematorium. And of course they got the blame for it. Well, they lost so they can expect this. I once bought a German steel helmet at a flea market in Germany and I was carrying it down the street under my arm and some old hag came up behind me, screeching like a wet pea hen. There was no one around so I bashed her on the head with the pot until she shut up. Had to wash the helmet off later. It looked like pink oatmeal on part of it.

RTC: Bravo. I suppose she was dead, Gregory?

GD: I didn’t stop to examine her but she had certainly shut up.

RTC: I suppose she was a Jew.

GD: I didn’t care who she was. She could have been anyone and I would have shut her up regardless.

RTC: You are certainly not a nice person at times.

GD: Oh, I love that, Robert. If I were in your house for dinner, I assure you my manners would be impeccable. But we digress. Can we find out more about that business you people had with the French getting us into Vietnam?

RTC: I wrote on that, Gregory. I ought to send you my manuscript some day. I can’t publish it because I signed a pledge to never publish without permission and I am sure it would never be given. I know all about that slaughterhouse, believe me. A nation steeped in blood. Terrible business. Wars for nothing and when Kennedy tried to get out, that was one of the reasons he got killed. Too much money to be made in a war. It ruined Johnson. No chance of getting reelected. McNamara thought he could apply business norms to a military business and he went as well. Probably be made the head of a think tank. My God, what a misnomer. ‘Think tank’ my ass. Bunch of loud-mouthed idiots running around babbling as if anyone cared what they thought about unimportant things. “I think…” is one of the worst openings for any kind of a conversation. Run into these congenital assholes at any Beltway social function and especially in the CIA circles. I say, who gives a damn what you think?

GD: I’ve been to Beltway functions, Robert. My God, if we could somehow trap all the hot air these methane monsters create, we could heat New York for ten years. Don’t light any matches and breathe very shortly but the gas is tremendous. “I think…?” I doubt it. Most of these self-important cow anuses should join hands and jump off the Key Bridge in the middle of winter. Right through the ice and then blessed silence. Downriver, however, all the marine life dies a terrible death.

RTC: (Laughter) Ah, well, it won’t happen. One day a Jew will sit in the Oval Office and on that day, we will drop atom bombs on anyone Tel Aviv doesn’t like.

GD: Where is Genghis Kahn now that we need him?

RTC: Lee Harvey Oswald would be more to the point.

(Concluded at 9:22 Am CST)


Israel licks wounds as Iran sanctions end, looks to future U.S. aid

January 17,2016

by Dan Williams


Jerusalem-Israel bristled on Sunday at the lifting of international sanctions on Iran and vowed to flag up any violations of its arch-foe’s nuclear restrictions while drawing on U.S. defense aid to prepare for a possible military face-off in the future.

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Saturday ruled Iran had abided by last July’s deal with world powers curbing its nuclear program, spelling a windfall in sanctions relief. A parallel Iranian-U.S. prisoner exchange, devised in secrecy, drove home the adversaries’ desire to reengage diplomatically.

The developments put paid to years of intensive Israeli lobbying for more comprehensive curbs on Tehran – a campaign that strained relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu sounded unrepentant on Sunday – even as one Israeli official grudgingly commended the Iranian statecraft and a former senior adviser to the prime minister accused him of having pursued a dangerously failed strategy.

“Were it not for our efforts to spearhead the sanctions and foil Iran’s nuclear program, Iran would have already had nuclear weapons long ago,” Netanyahu told his cabinet.

He called on world powers to impose “harsh, aggressive sanctions” for any nuclear violations by Iran – actions which, his office said in an earlier statement, Israel would “continue monitoring and flagging up”.

Ram Ben-Barak, director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, predicted Iran would invest in economic recovery in the coming years while remaining able to restart its nuclear drive “overnight”.

“The Iranians are celebrating, and rightly so. They managed to spin everyone around their little finger,” Ben-Barak told Israel’s Army Radio.


“The Americans are satisfied because, in their thinking, diplomacy succeeded. But we are very, very worried and the Gulf countries are very, very worried and it is absolutely clear to everyone that this hiatus is utterly temporary,” Ben-Barak said.

Israel argues that the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran has been eclipsed, for the time being, by the threat of conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other guerrillas who now stand to get increased funding from Tehran.

That, along with the sectarian strife rippling through the region, has prompted Israel to request a boost in U.S. defense aid to as much as $5 billion annually when the current package worth an average of $3 billion expires next year.

Netanyahu said those negotiations were in the final stages.

“This is important as part of the fixed policy between us and the United States, our ally, and also important in order to fend off the regional threats, chief of which is the Iranian threat, of course,” he said.

U.S. officials have said the Obama administration was unlikely to fully meet the Netanyahu government’s request for increased aid, though they affirmed Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security.

Uzi Arad, a former Netanyahu national security adviser, said Israel’s naysaying on the Iran deal had eroded its leverage – especially with Obama, an outgoing Democratic president who saw the rightist premier as siding with his Republican rivals.

“The question is, do we today have an understanding with the Americans as to what should be done if there is this-or-that (nuclear) violation? I’m not so sure,” Arad told Israel Radio.

“To judge by the outcome, we lost. In any event, their (Iranian) diplomacy won, and that’s a pity.”

Udi Segal, diplomatic affairs correspondent for Israel’s top-rated television station Channel 2, said in a commentary that Israel “has no set strategy for the day after the (nuclear) deal” and was biding its time until Obama steps down next year.

“Netanyahu is convinced that this is an historic mistake, but that it will become clear only after Obama is far from the center of influence and the White House,” Segal said.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Stephen Powell)


Christian monastery in Jerusalem vandalized by alleged Jewish extremists

January 17, 2016


A Christian monastery in Jerusalem has been vandalized after extremist graffiti was daubed on its walls. Messages such as “Christians Go to Hell” were written, while Israel says it has ordered an immediate police investigation into the crimes committed.

The messages written in Hebrew on the walls and doors of the monastery included “erase the name and the memory of the bastard,” and “death to the heretic Christians, enemies of Israel.”

“Idols will be extirpated,” a line lifted from the Jewish prayer service, and “Christians Go to Hell” were among the graffiti written with felt-tip pens, Reuters reports. It is believed that the vandalism was carried out by a number of people, due to the different handwriting, which was visible.

The Dormition Abbey outside of Jerusalem’s Old City walls on Mount Zion was affected by the vandals. Many Christians believe that Jesus held the Last Supper near the site, while it is also believed to be located near to the tomb of the biblical King David.

The vandalism brought a stinging response from the Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said that extra police efforts would be put into making sure those responsible were caught for “this despicable act.”

We will not let anyone undermine religious coexistence in Israel,” he added, as cited by Reuters.

Ayman Odeh, head of of the Joint List, the alliance of Palestinian parties in the Israeli parliament, said that the vandalism amounted to a hate crime, while also saying that the government was partly responsible for ignoring extremism against Arabs.

“Harassment and harming of places that are holy to Islam and Christianity have become almost constant and no one is held accountable,” Odeh said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“In Jerusalem members of the clergy have been harassed for years but lately this phenomenon has become worse, more common, and more violent,” he added.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem described the Dormition Abbey as “a significant place for interreligious dialogue between Judaism and Christianity” and voiced “hope that the perpetrators (of the vandalism) will be arrested before they put proposed threats into action.”

Last month, vandals toppled dozens of crosses at a Catholic cemetery, belonging to the Salesian monastery of Beit Jamal, located in the town of Beit Shamesh, about 30 kilometers west of Jerusalem, according to the local Latin Patriarchate.

Salesian fathers responsible for the monastery in Beit Jamal reported that unknown persons desecrated their monastery’s cemetery,” The Times of Israel quoted the patriarchate as saying Saturday.

In April 2014, vandals scrawled hate graffiti on the Deir Rafat Catholic monastery in response to peace talks between Israel and Palestine, while disparaging graffiti referring to Jesus and Mary was also daubed on the walls.


South China Sea? For Beijing, Taiwan is the No. 1 security issue

January 17, 2016

by Ben Blanchard and Faith Hung


TAIPEI-For China, whose President Xi Jinping is already taking an increasingly muscular approach to claims in the East and South China Sea, the question of Taiwan trumps any other of its territorial assertions in terms of sensitivity and importance.

After eight years of calm in what had been one of Asia’s powder kegs, the landslide election of an independence-leaning opposition leader, President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, has thrust Taiwan back into the spotlight as one of the region’s most sensitive security issues.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, is estimated by Taiwan to aim hundreds of missiles at the island over a narrow stretch of water and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

China carried out rare live-fire drills in the sensitive strait that separates the two sides in September, though Taiwan’s defense ministry described them at the time as routine.

“She (Tsai) is going to deal with a very tough-minded leader in Beijing,” said Chu Yun-han, a professor at the National Taiwan University.

But Tsai will also have to be accountable to her own constituency, especially the more radical, pro-independence younger generation, Chu added. “That doesn’t give her too much room for maneuver.”

The election in 2008 of the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou, and then re-election four years later, ushered in an unprecedented period of calm with China, with landmark trade and tourism deals signed.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is at pains to stress its election will not cause a return to tensions. She addressed the issue of China almost immediately upon claiming victory, saying she would strive to maintain the peace, but added she would defend Taiwan’s interests and its sovereignty.


While China has been relatively measured in its response, repeating its standard line about opposing independence, great uncertainty lies ahead. China’s official Xinhua news agency warned any moves toward independence were like a “poison” that would cause Taiwan to perish.

In an online commentary on Sunday, Wang Hongguang, a lieutenant general and former deputy commander of China’s Nanjing military region, said the People’s Liberation Army was now better prepared than ever for operations against Taiwan.

“The front line forces are like a tiger who has grown wings,” he wrote. “Tsai Ing-wen and her Taiwan independence forces shouldn’t think they’ll get away with it. The mainland will not swallow the bitter fruit of Taiwan independence.”

The outside world should not underestimate the continued importance of Taiwan to the Chinese leadership, said a senior Western diplomat, citing recent conversations with Chinese policymakers on Taiwan.

“Nothing is more important than Taiwan to Beijing.”

Beijing will have to bear in mind the opinion of a Chinese public that has always been brought up never to question Taiwan’s status as an inherent part of China.

On Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, the popularity of the phrase “use force to unify Taiwan” soared.

“We are just waiting for you to say the phrase ‘Taiwanese independence’,” said one Weibo user.

In the United States, which has no formal ties with Taiwan but is its most important diplomatic and military supporter, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the election was “a beacon of light to their neighbors yearning to be free”.

“Now more than ever, we must stand with Taiwan and reaffirm our commitment to their security,” he said in a statement.

Taiwan is a key fault line in the Beijing-Washington relationship.

A month before the election, the Obama administration formally notified Congress of a $1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan, prompting anger in Beijing which said it would put sanctions on U.S. firms involved.


A Beijing-based Chinese source, with ties to the People’s Liberation Army and who meets regularly with senior officers, told Reuters the election would have “far-reaching” consequences for China’s ties with Taiwan, and Sino-U.S. relations.

“I’m very worried about what is going to happen now,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Things have become much darker.”

Tsai’s election is also an embarrassment to Xi, who held a historic meeting last year in Singapore with Ma, and used the occasion to call for both sides not to let proponents of Taiwan’s independence split them.

China and Taiwan have nearly gone to war three times since 1949, most recently ahead of the 1996 presidential election. Then, China carried out missile tests in waters close to the island hoping to prevent people voting for Lee Teng-hui, who China suspected of harboring pro-independence views. Lee won by a landslide.

Ties were also badly strained when the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian was Taiwan president from 2000-2008 because of his independence rhetoric, even as he tried to maintain positive relations with Beijing.

But then, the DPP did not have a majority in parliament, which constrained its agenda. This time, the DPP has also won a parliamentary majority, which gives it much more leeway to push legislative priorities.

In any case, China does not need to rattle its sabers to pressure Taiwan – Beijing already holds all the economic cards as the island’s most important trade partner and investment destination.

“Taiwan can’t survive without international support,” said Michael Kau, a former Taiwan foreign ministry official and now a senior fellow at Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. “Because our adversary is giant China.”

(Additional reporting by J.R. Wu and Yimou Lee, and Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Most glaciers in Mount Everest area will disappear with climate change – study

About 5,500 glaciers could disappear or drastically retreat with severe impacts on farming and hydropower, say scientists

January 17, 2016

by John Vidal

The Guardian

Most of the glaciers in the Mount Everest region will disappear or drastically retreat as temperatures increase with climate change over the next century, according to a group of international researchers.

The estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region – site of Mount Everest and many of the world’s tallest peaks – could reduce their volume by 70%-99% by 2100, with dire consequences for farming and hydropower generation downstream, they said.

The signal of future glacier change in the region is clear: continued and possibly accelerated mass loss from glaciers is likely, given the projected increase in temperatures,” said Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal, and leader of the study published in The Cryosphere, the journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

The team studied glaciers in the Dudh Kosi basin in the Nepal Himalaya, which is home to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest, and to over 400 sq km of glacier area.

They concluded that the lower glaciers will melt fastest because the freezing level – the elevation where mean monthly temperatures are 0C – will rise higher up the mountains as air temperatures rise.

The freezing level currently varies between 3,200 metres in January and 5,500 metres in August. Based on historical temperature measurements and projected warming to the year 2100, this could increase by 800–1,200 meters,” said study co-author Walter Immerzeel of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Such an increase would not only reduce snow accumulations over the glaciers, but would also expose over 90% of the current glacierised area to melt in the warmer months,” said the authors.

There is still much uncertainty about how deeply levels of greenhouse gases will affect temperature, snowfall and rainfall, and very few of the region’s glaciers have been measured in detail. However, increasing rates of snow and ice melt are already observable and precipitation is expected to change from snow to rain at critical elevations, where glaciers are concentrated.

Farming and hydropower generation downstream of the Himalayan peaks is likely to be greatly affected. Over one billion people in Asia depend on rivers fed by glaciers for their food and livelihoods. While increased glacier melt initially increases water flows, ongoing retreat leads to reduced meltwater from the glaciers during the warmer months.

Glacier retreat, say the authors, can also result in the creation and growth of lakes dammed by glacial debris. Avalanches and earthquakes, similar to the one that devastated Everest base camp earlier this month, can breach the dams, causing catastrophic floods, says the paper.

The researchers caution that the new results should be seen as a first approximation to how Himalayan glaciers will react to increasing temperatures in the region.

Our estimates need to be taken very cautiously, as considerable uncertainties remain,” said Patrick Wagnon, a glaciologist at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Grenoble, France and co-author of the report.

A 2013 study, by a team led by a Nepali scientist at the University of Milan, found that some glaciers on or around Mount Everest had shrunk by 13% in the last 50 years with the snow line 180 metres higher than it was 50 years ago. The glaciers are disappearing faster every year, it said, with some smaller glaciers now only half the size they were in the 1960s.

The projected speed of glacier melt in the Himalayas has been disputed since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) erroneously reported non-peer reviewed science in 2009 which suggested that glaciers there were likely to disappear altogether by 2035. The IPCC confirmed that the paragraph should not have been included in the report and published an apology.


Glacier lakes: Growing danger zones in the Himalayas

Fears rise of huge outburst flooding in the Himalayas as glaciers melt due to climate change

by Suzanne Goldenberg at Imja Lake, Nepal

The Guardian

It’s strangely calming to watch the Imja glacier lake grow, as chunks of ice part from black cliffs and fall into the grey-green lake below.

But the lake is a high-altitude disaster in the making – one of dozens of new danger zones emerging across the Himalayas because of glacier melt caused by climate change.

If the lake, situated at 5,100m in Nepal’s Everest region, breaks through its walls of glacial debris, known as moraine, it could release a deluge of water, mud and rock up to 60 miles away. This would swamp homes and fields with a layer of rubble up to 15m thick, leading to the loss of the land for a generation. But the question is when, rather than if.

Mountain regions from the Andes to the Himalayas are warming faster than the global average under climate change. Ice turns to water; glaciers are slowly reduced to lakes.

When Sir Edmund Hillary made his successful expedition to the top of Everest in 1953, Imja did not exist. But it is now the fastest-growing of some 1,600 glacier lakes in Nepal, stretching down from the glacier for 1.5 miles and spawning three small ponds.

At its centre, the lake is about 600m wide, and according to government studies, up to 96.5m deep in some places. It is growing by 47m a year, nearly three times as fast as other glacier lake in Nepal.

“The expansion of Imja lake is not a casual one,” said Pravin Raj Maskey, a hydrologist with Nepal’s ministry of irrigation.

The extent of recent changes to Imja has taken glacier experts by surprise, including Teiji Watanabe, a geographer at Hokkaido University in Japan, who has carried out field research at the lake since the 1990s.

Watanabe returned to Imja in September, making the nine-day trek with 30 other scientists and engineers on a US-funded expedition led by the Mountain Institute. He said he did not expect such rapid changes to the moraine which is holding back the lake.

“We need action, and hopefully within five years,” Watanabe said. “I feel our time is shorter than what I thought before. Ten years might be too late.”

Unlike ordinary flash floods, a glacier lake outburst is a continuing catastrophe.

“It’s not just the one-time devastating effect,” said Sharad Joshi, a glaciologist at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan University, who has worked on Imja. “Each year for the coming years it triggers landslides and reminds villagers that there could be a devastating impact that year, or every year. Some of the Tibetan lakes that have had outburst floods have flooded more than three times.”

But mobilising engineering equipment and expertise to a lake 5,100m up and several days’ hard walking away from the nearest transport hub is challenging in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. People living in the small village of Dingboche below the lake say scientists and government officials have been talking about the dangers of Imja for years.

Some years ago one of the visiting experts was so convincing about the dangers of an imminent flood that the villagers packed up all their animals and valuables and moved to the next valley. They came back after a week when the disaster did not materialise, but say it’s hard to dismiss the idea that there could be a flood one day.

“When I was 21 I went to the lake and it was black and really small,” said Angnima Sherpa, who heads a local conservation group in Dingboche. “Two years ago I went there and it was really big. I couldn’t believe it could get so big. It was really scary.”

But scientists and engineers still cannot agree on whether to rate Imja as the most dangerous glacier lake in the Himalayas, or a more distant threat.

Mobilising international assistance for large-scale engineering projects during a global recession is also difficult. The Mountain Institute’s initiative was to call in experts from the Andes, where Peruvians have developed systems for containing glacier floods since a disaster in the 1940s killed nearly 10,000 people.

Cesar Portocarrero, who heads the department of glaciology at Peru’s national water agency, has overseen engineering works to drain more than 30 glacier lakes, building tunnels or channels to drain the water and reduce the risk of flooding.

But he conceded it would be an enormous challenge to apply these methods at Imja.

“It’s not easy to say ‘we are going to siphon the water out of the lake’,” Portocarrero said. “Where do you find the people who can work at high altitudes? How do you move in the equipment? What do you do in bad weather? You have to have exhaustive planning.” There are also other contenders for immediate action, with some 20,000 glacier lakes across the Himalayas, although many are concentrated in the Everest region. Bhutan alone has nearly 2,700.

Three of those, known as the Lunana complex, are practically touching, increasing the possibility of cascading floods far more devastating than any rupture at Imja.

“If the barrier fails between them we are going to have a massive glacier lake outburst flood,” said Sonam Lhamo, a geologist for the Bhutanese government.

The United Nations Development Programme and other agencies have supported a project to drain the lakes but those funds are running out.

John Reynolds, a British engineer and expert on glacier lakes who has worked in Nepal, argues that the international community has focused on Imja because of its proximity to Everest and trekking routes popular with western tourists. He says there are other, more hazardous lakes elsewhere.

The Nepali government ranks Imja among the six most dangerous glacier lakes in the country largely because it is growing so quickly. More than 12 other such lakes are also seen as high risk.

But Reynolds argued: “Just because a lake is getting bigger doesn’t necessarily mean that it is getting more hazardous. As the climate is changing, generally speaking more glacial lake systems are forming.

“The question is how to decide which ones are hazardous now and which ones have the propensity to become hazardous in the future

Imja, though fast-growing, is held in by a relatively wide moraine, which makes it secure in comparison to some others.

Most glacial lake floods begin as high-altitude tsunamis. A large block of ice falling from a glacier at great height sets off a series of giant waves that wash over the moraine.

That’s not such a risk for Imja. The glaciers feeding the lake are gradual in slope, which reduces the risk of a large chunk of ice falling from a great height and setting off large waves.

Watanabe concedes the geography of the lake could keep disaster at bay, at least in the next year or two. But, he says, there are signs that an outlet channel at the bottom of the lake may be widening dangerously.

Reynolds said Nepal and the international community need to think of a Himalaya-wide action plan.

“As the climate is changing more glacial lake systems are forming,” he said. “The question is how to decide which are hazardous now and which are going to become hazardous in the future.”


Dark Money review: Nazi oil, the Koch brothers and a rightwing revolution

New Yorker writer Jane Mayer examines the origins, rise and dominance of a billionaire class to whom money is no object when it comes to buying power

January 17, 2016

by Charles Kaiser

The Guardian

Lots of American industrialists have skeletons in the family closet. Charles and David Koch, however, are in a league of their own.

The father of these famous right-wing billionaires was Fred Koch, who started his fortune with $500,000 received from Stalin for his assistance constructing 15 oil refineries in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. A couple of years later, his company, Winkler-Koch, helped the Nazis complete their third-largest oil refinery. The facility produced hundreds of thousands of gallons of high-octane fuel for the Luftwaffe, until it was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1944.

In 1938, the patriarch wrote that “the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy and Japan”. To make sure his children got the right ideas, he hired a German nanny. The nanny was such a fervent Nazi that when France fell in 1940, she resigned and returned to Germany. After that, Fred became the main disciplinarian, whipping his children with belts and tree branches.

These are just a handful of the many bombshells exploded in the pages of Dark Money, Jane Mayer’s indispensable new history “of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right” in America.

A veteran investigative reporter and a staff writer for the New Yorker, Mayer has combined her own research with the work of scores of other investigators, to describe how the Kochs and fellow billionaires like Richard Scaife have spent hundreds of millions to “move their political ideas from the fringe to the center of American political life”.

Twenty years after collaborating with the Nazis, Fred Koch lost none of his taste for extremism. In 1958 he was one of the 11 original members of the John Birch Society, an organization which accused scores of prominent Americans, including President Dwight Eisenhower, of communist sympathies.

In 1960, Koch wrote that “the colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America”. He strongly supported the movement to impeach chief justice Earl Warren, after the supreme court voted to desegregate public schools in Brown v Board of Education. His sons became Birchers too, although Charles was more enamored of “antigovernment economic writers” than communist conspiracies.

After their father died, Charles and David bought out their brothers’ shares in the family company, then built it into the second largest privately held corporation in America.

As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America,” Mayer writes. Charles’s goal was to “tear the government out ‘at the root’.”

Another man who studied Charles thought “he was driven by some deeper urge to smash the one thing left in the world that could discipline him: the government”.

Much of what the American right has accomplished can be seen as a reaction to the upheavals of the 1960s, when big corporations like Dow Chemical (which manufactured napalm for the Vietnam War) reached the nadir of their popularity.

In 1971, corporate lawyer (and future supreme court justice) Lewis Powell wrote a 5,000 word memo that was a blueprint for a broad attack on the liberal establishment. The real enemies, Powell wrote, “were the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences”, and “politicians”.

He argued that conservatives should control the political debate at its source by demanding “balance” in textbooks, television shows and news coverage” – themes that were echoed in inflammatory speeches by Richard Nixon’s vice-president, Spiro Agnew.

The war on liberals was so effective that practically everyone reacted to it: from the New York Times, which hired ex-Nixon speechwriter Bill Safire to “balance” its op-ed page, to the Ford Foundation, which gave $300,000 to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in 1972. The impact was cumulative: almost four decades later, Barack Obama was astonished by one of the first questions asked to him, by a New York Times reporter, after he became president: “Are you a socialist?”

The AEI was one of dozens of the new thinktanks bankrolled by hundreds of millions from the Kochs and their allies. Sold to the public as quasi-scholarly organizations, their real function was to legitimize the right to pollute for oil, gas and coal companies, and to argue for ever more tax cuts for of the people who created them. Richard Scaife, an heir to the Mellon fortune, gave $23m over 23 years to the Heritage Foundation, after having been the largest single donor to AEI.

Next, the right turned its sights on American campuses. John M Olin founded the Olin Foudation, and spent nearly $200m promoting “free-market ideology and other conservative ideas on the country’s campuses”. It bankrolled a whole new approach to jurisprudence called “law and economics”, Mayer writes, giving $10m to Harvard, $7m to Yale and Chicago, and over $2m to Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown and the University of Virginia.

The amount of spent money has been staggering. Between 2005 and 2008, the Kochs alone spent nearly $25m on organizations fighting climate reform. One study by a Drexel University professor found 140 conservative foundations had spent $558m over seven years for the same purpose.

The next step for the radical right was to support the creation of the Tea Party movement, through organizations like Americans for Prosperity, which was funded by the Kochs.

The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity provided speakers, talking points, press releases, transportation, and other logistical support,” Mayer writes. As the writer Thomas Frank has pointed out, the genius of this strategy was to “turn corporate self-interest into a movement among people on the streets”.

The last element of this multi-pronged campaign saw the direct investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in political campaigns at every level, from president to city councilman. In 1996, a last-minute $3m campaign of attack ads against Democrats in 29 races, a campaign which may have been financed by the Kochs, was considered outrageous and extravagant. But after the disappearance of virtually all restrictions on campaign contributions – another result of rightwing lobbying and the supreme court’s Citizens United decision – $3m is now a tiny number.

In the 2016 elections, the goal of the Koch network of contributors is to spend $889m, more than twice what they spent in 2012.

Four years ago, because Obama had the most sophisticated vote-pulling operation in the history of American politics, and a rather lackluster opponent, a Democratic president was able to withstand such a gigantic financial onslaught. This time around, it’s not clear that any Democrat will be so fortunate.

Charles Kaiser is a writer based in New York. He is the author of 1968 in America, The Gay Metropolis and The Cost of Courage.


E.U.’s Open Borders Are in Danger, German Minister Warns

January 15, 2016

by James Kanter

New York Times

BRUSSELS — The pressures facing Germany as it contends with record levels of migration burst into the open on Friday as the country’s finance minister warned the rest of the European Union that freedom to move within the bloc could be “close” to ending.

The minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, an influential member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, made the remarks in Brussels at the end of a two-day meeting of finance ministers. He said that Europe’s open internal borders, known as the Schengen system, faced grave threats and could soon collapse as more countries — including Germany — re-establish border controls and checkpoints to regulate who can enter and leave.

Nobody should think that it’s a problem of one country,” Mr. Schäuble told reporters, referring to the influx of migrants that brought more than a million arrivals to Germany last year.

Mr. Schäuble suggested that Germany could follow the example of Sweden, which, like Germany, has been a leading destination for migrants, and which now requires that anyone arriving from Denmark by bus, train or boat have their documents checked first.

But, Mr. Schäuble said, “If Germany took such a decision, that would not be a German problem, but a huge threat for Europe.”

The comments by Mr. Schäuble were a sign of how worried Berlin has become about the future of the Schengen system and whether Europe can muster an effective response to the crisis after Mrs. Merkel threw open Germany’s borders to migrants last year in a humanitarian gesture that earned her, and Germany, accolades.

While pointing out a real danger, Mr. Schäuble’s comments appeared to amount to less of a threat than an attempt to spur action from European Union partners to help reduce the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe.

The comments came after it emerged on Friday that Italy was holding up a plan for the 28 European Union member states to contribute 3 billion euros, about $3.2 billion, to Turkey in order to help its government improve the conditions of the refugees living there. In turn, Ankara is supposed to do more to stop migrants from attempting to reach the Greek coast, which is a common arrival point for migrants who move north in the hope of gaining asylum in countries like Germany and Sweden.

Italy, which wants more flexibility from Brussels about its ability to manage its national budget, has demanded that the money for Turkey come from the European Union’s central budget.

As such, Mr. Schäuble also noted that the way to avoid undoing the Schengen system was “if we solve the problems quicker, through better and more effective protection of the external borders and through more and more intensive support and cooperation with the regions and the countries in the neighborhood, the region of origin and neighboring regions, so that the flow to Europe clearly declines.”

And for that,” he added, “we will need a lot more money.”

But after nearly a year of seeking a unified response to the influx, speed has not proved to be the European Union’s specialty. It is still improvising solutions even as the war in Syria, which is helping to drive the exodus, looks likely to continue. Plans developed months ago by the European Union to relocate tens of thousands of migrants arriving in Italy and Greece have failed to gain traction, and fewer than 300 people have been moved so far.

The bloc is still discussing whether to allow specialized border guards to take over responsibility from national officials in countries like Greece in order to ensure external security.

Overshadowing those efforts are growing concerns about a cultural gulf between Europeans and newly arrived migrants after a spate of robberies and cases of harassment and sexual attacks against women in Germany and Sweden. Many of those episodes reportedly involved foreign men, including some refugees.

In recent weeks, Germany has been moving to shift its policies as criticism mounts within the country that Mrs. Merkel has failed to clearly articulate a plan for an integration process that is likely to last many years.

Since the start of the year, Germany has tightened its screening of migrants trying to enter the country from Austria, even as other European countries like Hungary have erected fences or border checkpoints to block or divert the flow of migrants.


Stabbing death of 15yo schoolboy by Arab migrant classmate in Sweden sparks outrage

January 17, 2016


Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper interviewed the father of the alleged killer, who said that his son had been bullied by the victim “for a long time.”

The school did nothing to help him and establish his honor. Instead, my son had to meet this 15-year-old every day. It made him very upset,” he told Aftonbladet.

Sweden’s Arab language Al Kompis media outlet, identified the father as Mustafa al Haj.

The father of the dead boy told Lithuanian media that Swedish media never contacted him. On the contrary, Aftonbladet maintains it tried to reach Arminas’ relatives, but they declined to participate.

The parents of Arminas are from Lithuania and were working and living in Sweden temporarily.

Arminas’ father gave an interview to Lithuanian newspaper lrytas, revealing his vision of the tragic event.

He claimed the conflict between the boys occurred because the Syrian teenager was sexually harassing a girl from their class and Arminas came to the defense of the classmate, which ended up in a short scuffle that made the Syrian teenager flee the scene.

According to Arminas’s father, the disgrace of being rebuffed made the Syrian boy swear revenge on Arminas, an intention he declared publicly.

He even told this to the school officials (after the initial conflict took place),” Pileckas senior said.

A school murder in Sweden, where a Lithuanian pupil was allegedly stabbed by a Syrian migrant classmate, is stoking racial tensions. Families of the victim and the alleged killer are trading accusations, but police are staying silent.

The killing took place on the first day of the new semester, January 11, at the Göinge School in Broby, Skåne County.

A 15-year-old Lithuanian-born boy, Arminas Pileckas, was murdered in the school by a 14-year-old classmate, reportedly from a family of Syrian refugees. Arminas was killed with a single stab into heart inflicted from behind with a kitchen knife, his family says.

The boys had an argument either in November or December that was videoed by classmates, but the tragic climax of the story took place January 11.

The man also denied a possibility of bullying, since anything that happens in school is immediately reported to school authorities and the parents.

The school can never hide anything. Even if the pupils are late getting to class, the parents are informed. If Arminas had been bullying anybody, we, the teachers, and the police would have known about it,” the father said.

In an interview to Lithuania’s Delfi media outlet, Arminas’ father said the situation with refugees in Sweden was “getting out of control,” mentioning an attempted rape of a Lithuanian women by refugees. The men were not jailed but ordered to wear tracking bracelets.“The Swedes are afraid to talk about what’s going on. We Lithuanians do things differently, and we talk about everything in public. But here in Sweden, everything is being kept hidden and concealed,” the father said, stressing that even the parents of the girl who Arminas helped to defend do not dare to talk to Pileckas family.

He was a real joy spreader. Very nice and kind. He was a big point in the classroom. If the whole class was down, he was a person who could always get the class to laugh,” a 15-year-old girl who went to the same class as Arminas told FriaTider.

A police spokesman said an investigation is under way to determine exactly what led to the murder at the school.

Arminas Pileckas wrote in his own words about the conflict and left the explanatory report to the school management, Kvällspostens reported.


Police arrest 40 immigrant men in Düsseldorf raid

Düsseldorf authorities haven arrested 40 men in a raid on the city’s so-called “Maghreb” neighborhood. German officials say men from North Africa have drawn their attention with involvement in criminal activities.

January 17, 2016


Security forces in Düsseldorf on Sunday revealed their initial findings following a massive crackdown in the city’s “Maghreb” neighborhood a day ago. The area, also known as “Little Morocco” because of its large North African population and Moroccan-style restaurants, shops and cafes, was a hub for pickpockets and drug dealers, police told journalists.

Officers said they raided 18 cafes, casinos and Shisha bars and interrogated 294 suspects. Thirty-eight of the 40 arrested persons were illegally living in Germany and one of them was to be extradited. One arrested person was accused of dealing with stolen goods. Officials also recovered a large number of stolen mobile phones.

Raids not linked to Cologne incidents

Düsseldorf authorities’ current investigations are taking place under a project called “Casablanca.” Recently, officials released a report saying they suspected 2,200 men from the “Maghreb,” including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, to be involved in suspicious activities.

Nearly a year ago, officials raided the same area and arrested several people. Police said that Saturday’s raid were planned in 2015 and had nothing to do with the events on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, when over a 1,000 immigrant men sexually harassed hundreds of women near the city’s central railway station.

Speaking to German weekly “Bild am Sonntag,” Holger Münch, chief of the federal criminal office, said, “migrants from the Balkans or from North Africa, especially from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, draw attention because of their criminal activities. This is much lower in the case of migrants from Syria and Iraq,” he said.

More than one million refugees escaping conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have entered the country in the past 12 months.

mg/jlw (dpa, AFP)


Crimes at refugee homes on the rise, say German Criminal Police: Germany’s Criminal Police Office has registered a growing number of crimes in refugee and asylum centers.

Now the interior minister said he wants to keep track of crimes committed by and targeted at migrants.

January 17, 2016


In an interview with the mass-market “Bild am Sonntag” newspaper, Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) President Holger Münch said offenses in accommodations for asylum seekers had increased “enormously” but still amounted to what he called a “relatively low” number of cases.

People living in the accommodations, particularly many young men, have spent many months in a confined space and “under conditions that promote crime,” he added.

“Migrants, particularly from the Balkans or from North Africa – especially Moroccans, Tunisians and Algerians – commit criminal offenses,” Münch said, adding that such cases were less frequent among Syrian and Iraqi immigrants.

According to the BKA president, half of the offenses at the refugee homes were violent crimes, such as assault, but there was also an increasing number of sexual offences and homicides.Nevertheless, the number of cases is still “relatively low,” Münch said, adding that the level of crime is not growing “as fast as the number of refugees” entering the country.

Cologne sexual assaults

Following reports of dozens of attacks on women at New Year’s celebrations in Cologne, sexual assaults have become a main priority for BKA investigators, Münch told “Bild am Sonntag.”

Witnesses in front of the Cologne’s main train station in the early hours of January 1 described many of the perpetrators as being of North African or Arab origin.”We’re now analyzing whether there is a link between immigration and the sexual harassment of women in Germany,” Münch said.

At the same time, Münch rejected allegations that police had concealed the origin of offenders, reiterating that the nationality and residence status of suspects could be accessed on the BKA website.

“It’s our job to inform about a criminal situation objectively,” Münch said. “That’s why, at the minute we’re working with the German states to provide an up to date picture of crime in the context of immigration.”

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the “Welt am Sonntag” newspaper that he wanted officials to maintain a tally of crimes committed by migrants as well as criminal acts targeting them.

Refugee debate

Reports of the Cologne attacks have also renewed criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy on refugees and migrants, with some 1.1 million new asylum seekers registered in the last year alone.

Thousands of Germans, particularly in Dusseldorf, a city near Cologne, have joined Facebook groups claiming to promote vigilante city patrols in response to the attacks.

In Cologne on Monday, a group of six Pakistanis was also attacked by a gang of about 20 people, while a Syrian national was reportedly targeted in a separate attack by a group of five people.

Fears over right-wing cells

In light of the growing violence against refugees, Münch warned against vigilante groups and the emergence of right-wing terror cells, modeled after the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground.

The police therefore “need rapid identification results and judgments in order to break the momentum of right-wing extremist offenses,” Münch said. “Otherwise, in the worst case scenario, terrorist groups can form.”

ksb/sms (AFP, dpa, KNA)



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