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TBR News January 19, 2016

Jan 18 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. , January 19, 2016:  ”There is a rather bizarre business that was brought to my attention. Actually there were two business ventures involved though not connected. The first one was the mass-production by the PRC of purported ‘gold coins and bank issue gold bars,’ and the other is concerned with the manufacture, and sale, of personality items from the Third Reich. By ‘personality items’ we are talking about such exotica as ‘Hitler paintings,’ rare Nazi medals, tapestries, silverware alleged to have belong to such Nazi luminaries as Hitler, Eva Braun, Hermann Goering and even Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. These items have been, and apparently are being, made in such diverse places as China, India, Pakistan and Poland and are sold, with an immense markup to, as one dealer put it, “Investors in History who are Discriminating Collectors.”

A fake “Eva Braun” napkin ring, for example, costs a dealer $30.00 in Poland and is sold for upwards of $500.00 to a Discriminating Collector. Another dealer in such things has been selling little glass bottles of SakKrete labeled as ‘Ashes from Auschwitz.’ None of this is in particularly good taste but if a Discriminating Collector buys such a Polish-made Eva Braun napkin ring, he is out as much money as the collector who has been buying fake Carson City silver dollars (‘Every date and every mint!’) or ‘genuine Credit Suisse gold bars”’made of tungsten and gold-plated (selling for ten dollars in China even as I speak.)Barnum was right.”

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. 8

Date: Sunday, April 14, 1996

Commenced: 3:24 PM CST

Concluded: 4:01 PM CST


GD: Hello?

RTC: Oh, hello, Gregory. I didn’t think you’d be calling today. Usually, you’re earlier.

GD: Went up to Madison. Always go up on the weekends. Borders book store has the best history section I’ve ever seen and there’s a good Chinese restaurant nearby. That’s my social life these days. Yourself?

RTC: Trying to keep busy. One of these days, I ought to get your creative opinion as to what to do about the Swiss. They’re right across the street from me and they keep using their microwave to send messages home and it’s been causing me trouble.

GD: Have you tried complaining to them?

RTC: Pointless. I tried lodging a complaint with DoS but no good there either. In the old days, a few words about this would have worked miracles but I’m out of harness and out of the picture. Gregory, a small piece of advice for you: Don’t get old.

GD: Can’t help it. I have an idea for you on the Swiss. You face them? What kind of building are they in?

RTC: It’s their embassy.

GD: Got a pencil?

RTC: Yes. Will a pen do?

GD: Yes, of course.

RTC: Well?

GD: Do you still have any connections with your tech section at Langley?

RTC: I think so. Why?

GD: There’s a wonderful little device called an audio oscillator. Do you want me to spell that?

RTC: I have it. Go on.

GD: It puts out sound waves. It’s easy to build if you know your business. Anyway, it’s in a smallish box…shoe box size…and you plug it in and point it at your target. It puts out sound that the human ear can’t hear but animals can. That’s not the point. I’m sure the Switzers don’t have poodles typing reports. Oh, and if your man is good enough, you can hit the frequency that causes involuntary bowel movements.

RTC: (Laughter) Now that’s something to consider.

GD: I thought you might enjoy that. Just imagine the entire Swiss embassy ankle deep in shit. Anyway, it makes the people on the other end nervous and irritable. They don’t know why but they feel depressed and very, very unhappy.

RTC: Go on. This is interesting.

GD: So the windows in the embassy will act as a sounding board and all the offices in the front of the building will be full of suicidal people or, if you’re lucky, filled with Swiss shit.

RTC: Can you build one of these for me?

GD: God no. I know nothing about electronics except how to plug them in. It’s not a state secret and very easy to build but I’m not your man on this one. I would……..you have windows facing them?

RTC: Oh, yes.

GD: Put it in a window, preferably opened, and plug it in. That’s all. Makes no noise at your end and your wife would never notice it. Just tell her it’s an air freshener or something.

RTC: No point in telling her anything. Can they detect anything over there?

GD: No unless they have budgies in every office. I mean this does work because I’ve tried it out. I once lived in an apartment and was friendly with the manager and his wife. They had a minority couple living there under section eight. Played their boom box all the time, never paid the rent on time and threatened the other neighbors. The police didn’t want to bother them so I suggested the solution. I had a friend at Radio Shack build an oscillator and since the apartments on both sides of the creeps were vacant because of the noise, I went into one, plugged the box in and put it right up against a connecting wall. And believe me, it did work. They moved out within a week. Jesus, what a mess they left behind. One or both of them used to shit in the shower stall, not to mention the fact that all the carpets had to be replaced and the walls patched and repainted. The manager was so happy he gave me six months of rent free on the condition I used my little toy to help him get rid of other obnoxious tenants. Anyway, I went into the apartment to see what it was like, being on the other end of the toy and believe me, it was something else, Robert. A feeling of anxiety coupled with severe depression…

RTC: No bowel movements?

GD: No but the smell in the place would have made me puke if I’d stayed there for another minute. Let me tell you, I wanted to get away from that place in the worst way and it was not the stench. No, the Swiss will not be happy campers once you turn the thing on. I would suggest that you turn it on about three times a day, at odd intervals and don’t leave it on all the time. They might get someone in to do a sweep and if they’re competent, they might be able to pick up the sonics.

RTC: Gregory, rather than my bothering the boys on this, could you get one for me? More than happy to pay for it.

GD: I’ll be happy to do it for free, Robert. It’ll take about three weeks. I’ll start tomorrow. I know at least one person who can build one of these for sure. I suppose if the Swiss found out about this, they might make trouble for you so I will work on this here. And keep you posted.

RTC: If this works, Gregory, I will be greatly in your debt.

GD: Can we talk about Kennedy?

RTC: Oh, I think we certainly can.

GD: That I appreciate. After I build your box for you, then we can discuss this?

RTC: As I said.

GD: Is there any paper on that subject? If I publish anything, the government stool pigeons will yammer that it’s all made up and they, personally, can’t believe a word of it. And consider the huge number of books on the subject. The thousands of writers will join in a chorus of denial. After all, I didn’t mention the man in the sewer, the man on the grassy knoll…

RTC: Ah, but there was a man on the grassy knoll. Not in the sewer, of course, but I read that there were men in the trees, on the roofs of various buildings and lots of very funny stories. Of course we were responsible for most of them. Keeps the idiot public satisfied and very confused. I have a Soviet report on this that basically says it all. The box first.

GD: I’ll make it big enough to pulverize the building.

RTC: No, Gregory, just enough to drive them crazy. Just like they’ve been driving me up the wall.

GD: I don’t suppose you could hint a little on this?

RTC: Well, it wasn’t the Mafia or the KGB and I can say very clearly that it wasn’t Lee Oswald or the Girl Scouts. Now that’s all for now on that subject.

GD: It’s your call.

RTC: To change the subject, you mentioned Mountbatten some time ago. What can you tell me about that?

GD: The name Moran mean anything to you?

RTC: Oh, I think it could. Tell me what you know and I will comment on it.

GD: Moran is not his name but no one ever uses their real name these days. He was, probably still is, Irish-American. His grandfather was hanged by the Brits after the ’16 rising in Dublin and he hates them with a real passion. He was one of your boys who liased with the IRA Provo people. Worked out of our embassy in Dublin as one of those utterly transparent cultural aides. Everyone knows the legal officers are FBI and the USIA people are all CIA so why bother with the name game? Anyway, this Moran got the idea to kill off Lord Mountbatten1. Besides the dead grandfather, he had an uncle who lived in Canada and was killed at Dieppe. That was Mountbatten’s grab at fame, you know. They had planned a cross-channel raid on Dieppe but cancelled it. Mountbatten was pathologically ambitious and as empty of brains as a ladle decided to go ahead with the raid anyway. Churchill was out of the country, in Egypt if memory serves, and off they went. Germans knew it was in the wind and the invasion party ran into a German small boat convoy enroute and the game was known. The town was heavily armed and the poor Canadians were slaughtered. Moran hated Mountbatten, who got away with it because he was connected to the royal family. Actually, there’s an interesting story about his family. They were of the house of Hessen-Darmstadt. Same small princely house that produced the present Prince Philip and the last Empress of Russia. One of them, a Prince Alexander, married a Polish Jewess whose father was the chief baker to the King of Poland and because the family did not want the title involved with Jews, they changed their name to Battenberg. And later, that was anglicized to Mountbatten. So far so good?

RTC: You left me way behind, Gregory, but go on.

GD: You can check it out later.

RTC: I will. Prince Philip is a German? I thought he was Greek.

GD: So does everyone else. The Prince Consort was in the Hitler Youth and his brother was in the SS. I have a picture of Phil in a Nazi uniform. But to continue here. Mountbatten had married into the Cassel family. The old man was banker to Edward VII. More Jewish connections again. Anyway, the old man, God, he was almost 80 then, used to summer up in County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. He had a sail boat docked at Mullaghnmore and one day, Mountbatten took some his family out fishing. I can’t remember the name…oh yes, the Shadow. That was the boat’s name. It was painted green. Anyway, it sailed out into the bay and suddenly blew up. Mountbatten lost his legs and died of blood loss and shock and a few more got killed. The man who did this, who ran the operation, is a friend of mine.

RTC: Moran?

GD: No, an Irish friend who was with the Provos. He was up on the cliff and pushed the button that set off the charge his people planted the night before. Then they all went their separate ways and one of them got caught by a traffic stop. My friend got clean away. A very decent fellow and a good friend. I could be more specific but we don’t need to go into that. So Moran got his revenge and there was a state funeral. I do like the Irish, Robert, but if there were only two of
them left alive in the world, they would be sending letter bombs to each other.

RTC: There’s some truth to that, Gregory, but not a lot. We got connected with the IRA people because we wanted to protect a certain oil refinery in Belfast that they had been threatening to blow up. The CIA has many, many friends in business and one of them asked us to be sure they left the project alone. So we supplied them explosives, intelligence and some support in exchange for their neutrality concerning American property in Ireland. It worked out.

GD: But not for Mountbatten, though.

RTC: He was a pompous ass.

GD: But a member of the royal family, Robert! Mostly inbred idiots, as a friend of mine once said, who marry their own cousins and produce children with the intellect of chickens.

RTC: How cruel. But true. And keep me posted on the box, won’t you?

GD: And look for the Kennedy papers. Goodbye for now, Robert and my best to your wife.


(Concluded at 4:01 PM CST)



End of Europe? Berlin, Brussels’ shock tactic on migrants

January 18, 2016

by Alastair Macdonals and Noah Barkin



Is this how “Europe” ends?

The Germans, founders and funders of the postwar union, shut their borders to refugees in a bid for political survival by the chancellor who let in a million migrants. And then — why not? — they decide to revive the Deutschmark while they’re at it.

That is not the fantasy of diehard Eurosceptics but a real fear articulated at the highest levels in Berlin and Brussels.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, her ratings hit by crimes blamed on asylum seekers at New Year parties in Cologne, and EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker both said as much last week.

Juncker echoed Merkel in warning that the central economic achievements of the common market and the euro are at risk from incoherent, nationalistic reactions to migration and other crises. He renewed warnings that Europe is on its “last chance”, even if he still hoped it was not “at the beginning of the end”.

Merkel, facing trouble among her conservative supporters as much as from opponents, called Europe “vulnerable” and the fate of the euro “directly linked” to resolving the migration crisis — highlighting the risk of at the very least serious economic turbulence if not a formal dismantling of EU institutions.

Some see that as mere scare tactics aimed at fellow Europeans by leaders with too much to lose from an EU collapse — Greeks and Italians have been seen to be dragging their feet over controlling the bloc’s Mediterranean frontier and eastern Europeans who benefit from German subsidies and manufacturing supply chain jobs have led hostility to demands that they help take in refugees.

Germans are also getting little help from EU co-founder France, whose leaders fear a rising anti-immigrant National Front, or the bloc’s third power, Britain, consumed with its own debate on whether to just quit the European club altogether.

So, empty threat or no, with efforts to engage Turkey’s help showing little sign yet of preventing migrants reaching Greek beaches, German and EU officials are warning that without a sharp drop in arrivals or a change of heart in other EU states to relieve Berlin of the lonely task of housing refugees, Germany could shut its doors, sparking wider crisis this spring.


With Merkel’s conservative allies in the southern frontier state of Bavaria demanding she halt the mainly Muslim asylum seekers ahead of tricky regional elections in March, her veteran finance minister delivered one of his trademark veiled threats to EU counterparts of what that could mean for them.

“Many think this is a German problem,” Wolfgang Schaeuble said in meetings with fellow EU finance ministers in Brussels. “But if Germany does what everyone expects, then we’ll see that it’s not a German problem — but a European one.”

Senior Merkel allies are working hard to stifle the kind of parliamentary party rebellion that threatened to derail bailouts which kept Greece in the euro zone last year. But pressure is mounting for national measures, such as border fences, which as a child of East Germany Merkel has said she cannot countenance.

“If you build a fence, it’s the end of Europe as we know it,” one senior conservative said. “We need to be patient.”

A senior German official noted that time is running out, however.

“The chancellor has been asking her party for more time,” he said. “But … that narrative … is losing the persuasiveness it may have had in October or November. If you add in the debate about Cologne, she faces an increasingly difficult situation.”

He noted that arrivals had not fallen sharply over the winter months as had been expected.

“You can only imagine what happens when the weather improves,” he said.


Merkel and Juncker explicitly linked new national frontier controls across Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone to a collapse of the single market at the core of the bloc, and of the euro. Both would ravage jobs and the economy.

“Without Schengen … the euro has no point,” Juncker told a New Year newsconference on Friday. Historic national resentments were re-emerging, he added, accusing his generation of EU leaders of squandering the legacy of the union’s founders, survivors of World War Two.

Merkel has not suggested — yet — that Berlin could follow neighbors like Austria and Denmark in further tightening border checks to deny entry to irregular migrants. But she has made clear how Europe might suffer.

“No one can pretend that you can have a common currency without being able to cross borders relatively easily,” she said at a business event last week.

In private, German officials are more explicit. “We have until March, the summer maybe, for a European solution,” said a second German official. “Then Schengen goes down the drain.”

A senior EU official was equally blunt: “There is a big risk that Germany closes. From that, no Schengen … There is a risk that the February summit could start a countdown to the end.”

The next summit of EU leaders one month from now follows meetings last year that were marked by agreement on a migration strategy as well as rows over failures to implement it.

Of the 160,000 asylum seekers EU leaders agreed in September to distribute among member states, fewer than 300 have been moved.

Berlin and Brussels continue to press for more distribution across Europe. But few place much hope in that — one senior German official calls it “flogging a dead horse”.


EU leaders’ hope is for help from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, a man many of them see as an embryonic dictator.

Berlin is pressing for more EU cash for Ankara, beyond an agreed 3 billion euros, which Italy is blocking. Some Germans suggest simply using German funds to stem the flow from Turkey.

EU officials say it is too early to panic. Arrivals have fallen this month. U.N. data show them running in January at half the 3,500 daily rate of December. Progress includes a move to let some of the 2.1 million Syrian refugees in Turkey take jobs. The EU will fund more schools for refugee children.

Yet EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who travels to Berlin on Monday, told the European Parliament last week: “The situation is getting worse.”

The refugee crisis was jeopardizing “the very core of the European Union”, he said, offering no grounds to be optimistic other than that “optimism is our last line of our defense”.

(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Paul Taylor and Tom Koerkemeier in Brussels; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)


World’s oceans warming at increasingly faster rate, new study finds

Ocean water has absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide generated by human consumption of fossil fuels

January 17, 2016

by Oliver Milman

The Guadian

The world’s oceans are warming at a quickening rate, with the past 20 years accounting for half of the increase in ocean heat content that has occurred since pre-industrial times, a new study has found.

US scientists discovered that much of the extra heat in the ocean is buried deep underwater, with 35% of the additional warmth found at depths below 700 meters. This means far more heat is present in the far reaches of the ocean than 20 years ago, when it contained just 20% of the extra heat produced from the release of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution.

The paper, published in Nature Climate Change, sheds further light on the vast quantities of heat being absorbed by the world’s oceans.

Ocean water, which has a much higher heat capacity than air, has absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide generated by human consumption of fossil fuels. The vast Southern Ocean sucked up 1.2bn tonnes of carbon in 2011 alone – which is roughly equivalent to the European Union’s annual carbon output.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, analyzed heat content changes in varying depths of the world’s oceans using data and models stretching back to 1865.

For the upper reaches of the ocean, above 700m, the data went back to the HMS Challenger expedition, a pioneering effort in oceanography which took place in the 1870s. The heat content of the upper ocean has increased by a factor of 32 since fossil fuel use became widespread.

More recent, and consistent, information has come from the network of 3,000 Argo floats that dot the globe’s oceans. New “Deep Argo” robots, capable of measuring heat at far greater depths than the standard surface-dwelling devices, gave scientists the best idea so far of how much warmth is buried deep underwater.

The deepwater heat content has increased by “several tenths of a degree” since the industrial revolution when averaged out across the globe, according to Peter Gleckler, lead author of the paper. Gleckler said that while this is less than the 0.5C warming averaged across the upper reaches of the ocean, it is still a “huge increase” and is gaining pace. “When we discuss global warming, the most familiar way we do that is talk about temperature changes on the surface – but it’s clear that the oceans are doing the bulk of the work in terms of absorbing the heat in the system,” he said. “And if we want to really understand how much heat is being trapped, we can’t just look at the upper ocean anymore, we need to look deeper.

The findings are concerning. It’s clear evidence that the oceans are taking the brunt of the greenhouse gases and are accumulating a lot of heat. As for the ecological implications, that’s hard to say. There is a lot of life in the deep oceans and there’s lots we don’t know about the impact upon that life.”

As the oceans warm, storm intensity increases and aquatic species are forced from their traditional ranges. Absorption of carbon dioxide has also made the oceans 30% more acidic, which is when the pH of the water drops, making it harder for creatures such as coral, oysters and mussels to form the shells and structures that sustain them.

Scientists have already declared that a third global coral bleaching event is currently underway, where corals whiten and die off due to extreme heat. An analysis of more than 620 studies last year found that the food chains of the world’s oceans are at risk of collapse due to climate change, overfishing and localized pollution.


Muslims ‘practically impossible’ to integrate into Europe – Czech president

January 18, 2016


Existing ghettos and the recent sexual harassment scandals involving Muslim migrants in European cities are evidence the integration of the Muslim community into Europe is next to impossible, Czech President Milos Zeman said in an interview on Sunday.

An established anti-immigration advocate, Zeman has condemned the European Union’s migrant policies.

The experience of Western European countries, where there are ghettos and closed areas, as well as recent events, demonstrate once again that the integration of the Muslim community [into Europe] is practically impossible,” Zeman told tabloid newspaper Blesk in a video interview, as cited by AFP.

Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne,” the Czech president added, referring to the mass sexual assaults perpetrated by migrants in the German city on New Year’s Eve.

Europe is experiencing the worst migrant crisis in decades, Zeman stressed, adding that newcomers should adapt to local culture and traditions while retaining their own distinct identities.

Integration is possible with cultures that are similar, and the similarities may vary,” Zeman said, holding up the Ukrainian and Vietnamese diasporas living in the Czech Republic as examples of groups that have integrated successfully while maintaining distinct national identities.

The Czech leader promised to challenge EU migrant quotas, which currently demand members to accommodate numbers of migrants proportionate to a nation’s population and national budget.

As a country of 10.5 million people, the Czech Republic is obligated to accommodate part of the 160,000 asylum seekers under an EU quota scheme.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka expressed the notion, however, that refugees are not likely to agree to stay in the country, and are more determined to finish their journey in countries like Germany which have extensive welfare systems.

Last year Czech President Zeman labeled the ongoing refugee influx “an organized invasion,” urging the young asylum seekers to return to Iraq and Syria to “take up arms” and fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).Earlier this month Zeman alleged that the influx of migrants into Europe was organized by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which was striving to “gradually control Europe.”

According to a 2010 Pew Forum survey, there were an estimated 19 million Muslims living in the EU, making up about 3.8 percent of the union’s population.

In 2015, however, well over one million migrants from North Africa and conflict-affected countries in the Middle East arrived to Europe, heading primarily to countries in Western Europe.



20 years after Lübeck, refugee hostels are burning again

January 18, 2016


Ten people died in 1996 in an arson attack on a refugee hostel in Lübeck. No one was ever charged with the crime. Now refugee hostels are burning again and the arsonists probably come from the mainstream of society. At the moment, pictures of burning refugee hostels fill our TV screens, monitors and smartphones on a daily basis. Like the recent attack in Münsterland – in the town of Borken (population: 40,000) an unknown perpetrator smashed a window in a refugee accommodation center, which had only just been completed. Then they started a fire. At least, no one had yet moved into the facility and no one was injured.

20 years ago in Lübeck, that was different. 48 people were staying in the asylum seekers’ accommodation in Hafenstrasse on the night of January 17, 1996. At around half past three in the morning of January 18, the house went up in flames. Some people jumped out of the window; others were suffocated by the smoke. 10 people died and 38 others were injured, some of them seriously.

It was the most serious arson attack on refugees in the history of modern Germany. Lübeck’s municipal press office issued a statement to coincide with the wreath-laying ceremony that marked the 20th anniversary of the crime, describing it as one of the saddest days in the city’s recent history.

‘Cult of dismay’

Today, a company parking lot stands on the site of the house at Hafenstrasse 52. On the other side of the road is a little green space with a memorial stone commemorating those who died in the arson attack. The stone has a new bronze plaque.

Michael Bouteiller will be there again this year to remember the night of the fire. Bouteiller, a lawyer, was the mayor of Lübeck for 12 years – including that fatal night.

An indication of the political climate in the city in the 1990s is that when Bouteiller, speaking to television journalists in front of the smoking ruins, was unable or unwilling to hold back his tears over the dead and injured, the Lübeck branch of the CDU conservative opposition party took the opportunity to accuse him of “making a cult of dismay.”

Four years of fires

Bouteiller’s dismay is still apparent today – also at the fact that the fire in Hafenstrasse was not the only arson attack. When interviewed by DW, Bouteiller speaks of the “four years of fires.” In 1994, the Lübeck synagogue was firebombed. Another attempt was made to burn it down in 1995. 1996 there was the fire in Hafenstrasse. And in 1997 a Catholic church burned down: Its pastor had given an Algerian family sanctuary in the church.

What Bouteiller doesn’t mention is that he himself was targeted at that time with a parcel bomb. One of his co-workers was seriously injured. The former mayor is especially angry that the murder of those ten people in Hafenstrasse remains unsolved. He is critical of the investigation done at the time, describing it as biased. The police, he says, only investigated the people living in the house.

Wolf-Dieter Vogel confirms this. The Berlin journalist has published a book about the arson attack after conducting extensive research. The subtitle of the book describes the investigation as a legal scandal. In an interview with DW, Vogel explains that the police did investigate whether the occupants of the house may have been involved in criminal activity. “However, on the other hand, there was no proper investigation of suspicious right-wing extremists who were in the area on the night of the fire – even though there were a number of indications that they might have been the perpetrators,” Vogel says. The journalist is very concerned about the growing number of arson attacks recently.

Attacks quadrupled in 2015

Bernd Mesovic shares his concern. Mesovic is the deputy director of Pro Asyl, a non-governmental organization that works to protect the rights of refugees in Germany. In the past year, Pro Asyl counted 126 arson attacks on refugee accommodation. That’s one every three days. “You get the feeling it was sheer luck that no one died in 2015,” Mesovic told DW. His organization counted 528 attacks on refugee hostels last year. The Federal Criminal Police Office recorded a total of 924 attacks on refugee accommodation – more than four times as many as in 2014.

Holger Münch, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), addressed this increase in right-wing extremist attacks at the BKA’s annual conference in mid-November. His analysis: “The right wing exploits existing reservations in the general population, and works them up in a strongly polarizing way in order to connect with the middle-class mainstream of society.”

This approach seems to be successful, as Münch went on to say that “around 70 percent of the those arrested on suspicion of committing crimes against refugee centers are people who until then had not apparently been associated with politically-motivated criminality.”

Back in October the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Thomas de Maiziere, expressed concern about the growing number of people resorting to violence. “We have to make them understand that they are committing unacceptable crimes: actual bodily harm, attempted murder, arson attacks,” the minister said. De Maiziere observed that two thirds of the suspects were “local citizens who up until now have never committed a crime.” This profile fits with latest arson attack in Borken: A witness saw the perpetrator fleeing on a bicycle.


Europeans line up to do business with Iran while Americans wait

January 17, 2016

by Michael Birnbaum

Washington Post

MOSCOW — European businesses were set Sunday to speed back onto the Iranian market, hours after crippling international sanctions were lifted on Iran in exchange for Tehran’s pledge to put its nuclear program on ice.

The flurry of investor excitement and the sheer size of Iran’s economy had some analysts comparing it to the reopening of Eastern bloc markets after the fall of communism. In a measure of the billions of dollars that are at stake, Tehran announced that it planned to buy 114 Airbus jets, while the head of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. said Sunday that the country planned to boost production by 1 million barrels a day, about a 33 percent increase in output.

European leaders, seeking a rare piece of economic good news amid sagging markets, encouraged their nations’ businesses to take advantage of the opportunity. American companies are still barred by a range of U.S. sanctions that remain in place despite the lifting of those that were related to the nuclear program. For now, few U.S. companies are openly exploring business with Iran, even as European energy giants, carmakers and banks angle for a piece of the reopened market.

[For 3 Americans held in Tehran, travel was deeply personal]

The potential new investments were welcomed in Tehran, where state-run media ran scrolling accounts Sunday of the European government and business officials coming to Iran to explore deals.

Today is a historical and exceptional day in the political and economic history of the Iranian nation,” President Hassan Rouhani told reporters in Tehran on Sunday, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. “We have reached a turning point.”

Rouhani unveiled a 2016 budget that foresaw a significant boost to tax revenue as a result of new investment.

As the sanctions were lifted early Sunday, Tehran time, European officials suggested that their companies would soon benefit. More than $30 billion in previously frozen overseas assets are immediately available to Iran, and the country plans to use the money for imports, according Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.

Russia, a key player in the international efforts to reach the nuclear agreement, also hopes to profit through exports of its arms and deals involving Iran’s civilian nuclear program, which has long depended on Russian technology and expertise. Both nations have said they are considering scrapping tourist visas, and Russia is planning to step up purchases of Iranian meat and produce after banning most food imports from Turkey late last year.


You Won’t Like It, But Here’s the Answer to ISIS

Giving Advice to a Presidential Candidate Who Wants to “Do Something”

January 19, 2016

by Peter Van Buren


How can we stop the Islamic State?

Imagine yourself shaken awake, rushed off to a strategy meeting with your presidential candidate of choice, and told: “Come up with a plan for me to do something about ISIS!” What would you say?

What Hasn’t Worked

You’d need to start with a persuasive review of what hasn’t worked over the past 14-plus years. American actions against terrorism — the Islamic State being just the latest flavor — have flopped on a remarkable scale, yet remain remarkably attractive to our present crew of candidates. (Bernie Sanders might be the only exception, though he supports forming yet another coalition to defeat ISIS.)

Why are the failed options still so attractive? In part, because bombing and drones are believed by the majority of Americans to be surgical procedures that kill lots of bad guys, not too many innocents, and no Americans at all. As Washington regularly imagines it, once air power is in play, someone else’s boots will eventually hit the ground (after the U.S. military provides the necessary training and weapons). A handful of Special Forces troops, boots-sorta-on-the-ground, will also help turn the tide. By carrot or stick, Washington will collect and hold together some now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t “coalition” of “allies” to aid and abet the task at hand. And success will be ours, even though versions of this formula have fallen flat time and again in the Greater Middle East.

Since the June 2014 start of Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State, the U.S. and its coalition partners have flown 9,041 sorties, 5,959 in Iraq and 3,082 in Syria. More are launched every day. The U.S. claims it has killed between 10,000 and 25,000 Islamic State fighters, quite a spread, but still, if accurate (which is doubtful), at best only a couple of bad guys per bombing run. Not particularly efficient on the face of it, but — as Obama administration officials often emphasize — this is a “long war.” The CIA estimates that the Islamic State had perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 fighters under arms in 2014. So somewhere between a third of them and all of them should now be gone. Evidently not, since recent estimates of Islamic State militants remain in that 20,000 to 30,000 range as 2016 begins.

How about the capture of cities then? Well, the U.S. and its partners have already gone a few rounds when it comes to taking cities. After all, U.S. troops claimed Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s al-Anbar Province, in 2003, only to see the American-trained Iraqi army lose it to ISIS in May 2015, and U.S-trained Iraqi special operations troops backed by U.S. air power retake it (in almost completely destroyed condition) as 2015 ended. As one pundit put it, the destruction and the cost of rebuilding make Ramadi “a victory in the worst possible sense.” Yet the battle cry in Washington and Baghdad remains “On to Mosul!”

Similar “successes” have regularly been invoked when it came to ridding the world of evil tyrants, whether Iraq’s Saddam Hussein or Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, only to see years of blowback follow. Same for terrorist masterminds, including Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as minor-minds (Jihadi John in Syria), only to see others pop up and terror outfits spread. The sum of all this activity, 14-plus years of it, has been ever more failed states and ungoverned spaces.

If your candidate needs a what-hasn’t-worked summary statement, it’s simple: everything.

How Dangerous Is Islamic Terrorism for Americans?

To any argument you make to your preferred presidential candidate about what did not “work,” you need to add a sober assessment of the real impact of terrorism on the United States in order to ask the question: Why exactly are we engaged in this war on this scale?

Hard as it is to persuade a constantly re-terrorized American public of the actual situation we face, there have been only 38 Americans killed in the U.S. by Islamic terrorists, lone wolves, or whacked-out individuals professing allegiance to Islamic extremism, or ISIS, or al-Qaeda, since 9/11. Argue about the number if you want. In fact, double or triple it and it still adds up to a tragic but undeniable drop in the bucket. To gain some perspective, pick your favorite comparison: number of Americans killed since 9/11 by guns (more than 400,000) or by drunk drivers in 2012 alone (more than 10,000).And spare us the tired trope about how security measures at our airports and elsewhere have saved us from who knows how many attacks. A recent test by the Department of Homeland’s own Inspector General’s Office showed that 95% of contraband, including weapons and explosives, got through airport screening without being detected. Could it be that there just aren’t as many bad guys out there aiming to take down our country as candidates on the campaign trail would like to imagine?

Or take a look at the National Security Agency’s Fourth Amendment-smothering blanket surveillance. How’d that do against the Boston bombing or the attacks in San Bernardino? There’s no evidence it has ever uncovered a real terror plot against this country.

Islamic terrorism in the United States is less a serious danger than a carefully curated fear.

Introduce Your Candidate to the Real World

You should have your candidate’s attention by now. Time to remind him or her that Washington’s war on terror strategy has already sent at least $1.6 trillion down the drain, left thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims dead. Along the way we lost precious freedoms to the ever-expanding national security state.

So start advising your candidate that a proper response to the Islamic State has to be proportional to the real threat. After all, we have fire departments always on call, but they don’t ride around spraying water on homes 24/7 out of “an abundance of caution.”

We Have to Do Something

So here’s what you might suggest that your candidate do, because you know that s/he will demand to “do something.”

Start by suggesting that, as a society, we take a deep look at ourselves, our leaders, and our media, and stop fanning everyone’s flames. It’s time, among other things, to stop harassing and discriminating against our own Muslim population, only to stand by slack-jawed as a few of them become radicalized, and Washington then blames Twitter. As president, you need to opt out of all this, and dissuade others from buying into it.

As for the Islamic State itself, it can’t survive, never mind fight, without funds. So candidate, it’s time to man/woman up, and go after the real sources of funding.

As long as the U.S. insists on flying air attack sorties (and your candidate may unfortunately need to do so to cover his/her right flank), direct them far more intensely than at present against one of ISIS’s main sources of cash: oil exports. Blow up trucks moving oil. Blow up wellheads in ISIS-dominated areas. Finding targets is not hard. The Russians released reconnaissance photos showing what they claimed were 12,000 trucks loaded with smuggled oil, backed up near the Turkish border.

But remind your candidate that this would not be an expansion of the air war or a shifting from one bombing campaign to a new one. It would be a short-term move, with a defined end point of shutting down the flow of oil. It would only be one part of a far larger effort to shut down ISIS’s sources of funds.

Next, use whatever diplomatic and economic pressure is available to make it clear to whomever in Turkey that it’s time to stop facilitating the flow of that ISIS oil onto the black market. Then wield that same diplomatic and economic pressure to force buyers to stop purchasing it. Some reports suggest that Israel, cut off from most Arab sources of oil, has become a major buyer of ISIS’s supplies. If so, step on some allied toes. C’mon, someone is buying all that black-market black gold.

The same should go for Turkey’s behavior toward ISIS.  That would extend from its determination to fight Kurdish forces fighting ISIS to the way it’s allowed jihadis to enter Syria through its territory to the way it’s funneled arms to various extreme Islamic groups in that country. Engage Turkey’s fellow NATO members. Let them do some of the heavy lifting. They have a dog in this fight, too.

And speaking of stepping on allied toes, make it clear to the Saudis and other Sunni Persian Gulf states that they must stop sending money to ISIS. Yes, we’re told that this flow of “donations” comes from private citizens, not the Saudi government or those of its neighbors. Even so, they should be capable of exerting pressure to close the valve. Forget a “no-fly zone” over northern Syria — another fruitless “solution” to the problem of the Islamic State that various presidential candidates are now plugging — and use the international banking system to create a no-flow zone.

You may not be able to stop every buck from reaching ISIS, but most of it will do in a situation where every dollar counts.

Your candidate will obviously then ask you, “What else?  There must be more we can do, mustn’t there?”

To this, your answer should be blunt: Get out. Land the planes, ground the drones, and withdraw. Pull out the boots, the trainers, the American combatants and near combatants (whatever the euphemism of the moment for them may be). Anybody who has ever listened to a country and western song knows that there’s always a time to step away from the table and cut your losses. Throwing more money (lives, global prestige…) into the pot won’t alter the cards you’re holding. All you’re doing is postponing the inevitable at great cost.

In the end, there is nothing the United States can do about the processes now underway in the Middle East except stand on the beach trying to push back the waves.

This is history talking to us.

That Darn History Thing

Sometimes things change visibly at a specific moment: December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, or the morning of September 11, 2001. Sometimes the change is harder to pinpoint, like the start of the social upheaval that, in the U.S., came to be known as “the Sixties.”

In the Middle East after World War I, representatives of the victorious British and French drew up national boundaries without regard for ethnic, sectarian, religious, tribal, resource, or other realities. Their goal was to divvy up the defeated Ottoman Empire. Later, as their imperial systems collapsed, Washington moved in (though rejecting outright colonies for empire by proxy). Secular dictatorships were imposed on the region and supported by the West past their due dates. Any urge toward popular self-government was undermined or destroyed, as with the coup against elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or the way the Obama administration manipulated the Arab Spring in Egypt, leading to the displacement of a democratically chosen government by a military coup in 2013.

In this larger context, the Islamic State is only a symptom, not the disease. Washington’s problem has been its desire to preserve a collapsing nation-state system at the heart of the Middle East. The Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq certainly sped up the process in a particularly disastrous fashion. Twelve years later, there can’t be any question that the tide has turned in the Middle East — forever.

It’s time for the U.S. to stand back and let local actors deal with the present situation. ISIS’s threat to us is actually minimal. Its threat to those in the region is another matter entirely. Without Washington further roiling the situation, it’s a movement whose limits will quickly enough become apparent.

The war with ISIS is, in fact, a struggle of ideas, anti-western and anti-imperialist, suffused with religious feeling. You can’t bomb an idea or a religion away. Whatever Washington may want, much of the Middle East is heading toward non-secular governments, and toward the destruction of the monarchies and the military thugs still trying to preserve updated versions of the post-World War I system. In the process, borders, already dissolving, will sooner or later be redrawn in ways that reflect how people on the ground actually see themselves.

There is little use in questioning whether this is the right or wrong thing because there is little Washington can do to stop it. However, as we should have learned in these last 14 years, there is much it can do to make things far worse than they ever needed to be. The grim question today is simply how long this painful process takes and how high a cost it extracts. To take former President George W. Bush’s phrase and twist it a bit, you’re either with the flow of history or against it.

Fear Itself

Initially, Washington’s military withdrawal from the heart of the Middle East will undoubtedly further upset the current precarious balances of power in the region. New vacuums will develop and unsavory characters will rush in. But the U.S. has a long history of either working pragmatically with less than charming figures (think: the Shah of Iran, Anwar Sadat, or Saddam Hussein before he became an enemy) or isolating them. Iran, currently the up-and-coming power in the area absent the United States, will no doubt benefit, but its reentry into the global system is equally inevitable.

And the oil will keep flowing; it has to. The countries of the Middle East have only one mighty export and need to import nearly everything else. You can’t eat oil, so you must sell it, and a large percentage of that oil is already sold to the highest bidder on world markets.

It’s true that, even in the wake of an American withdrawal, the Islamic State might still try to launch Paris-style attacks or encourage San Bernardino-style rampages because, from a recruitment and propaganda point of view, it’s advantageous to have the U.S. and the former colonial powers as your number one enemies.  This was something Osama bin Laden realized early on vis-à-vis Washington. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in drawing the U.S. deeply into the quagmire and tricking Washington into doing much of his work for him. But the dangers of such attacks remain limited and can be lived with. As a nation, we survived World War II, decades of potential nuclear annihilation, and scores of threats larger than ISIS. It’s disingenuous to believe terrorism is a greater threat to our survival.

And here’s a simple reality to explain to your candidate: we can’t defend everything, not without losing everything in the process. We can try to lock down airports and federal buildings, but there is no way, nor should there be, to secure every San Bernardino holiday party, every school, and every bus stop. We should, in fact, be ashamed to be such a fear-based society here in the home of the brave. Today, sadly enough, the most salient example of American exceptionalism is being the world’s most scared country. Only in that sense could it be said that the terrorists are “winning” in America.

At this point, your candidate will undoubtedly say: “Wait! Won’t these ideas be hard to sell to the American people? Won’t our allies object?”

And the reply to that, at least for a candidate not convinced that more of the same is the only way to go, might be: “After more than 14 years of the wrong answers and the disasters that followed, do you have anything better to suggest?”


Oregon Standoff: Beaver State brothers raise over 26K in ‘Go Home’ Bundy campaign

January 18, 2016


Two Oregon brothers have already raised over $26,000 in a campaign to get the Bundy brothers and their fellow armed occupiers out of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where they have been camped out since January 2.

The brothers, Zach and Jake Klonoski, launched the ‘Go Home’ fundraising campaign on Sunday, with those opposing the occupiers set to benefit from the donations.

These beneficiaries include the gun control group Americans for Responsible Solutions; Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; the Southern Poverty Law Center; and the Burns Paiute Reservation, the Native American tribe who claim their ancestors were the original inhabitants of the land.

The campaign ‒ called G.O.H.O.M.E., short for Getting the Occupiers of Historic Oregon Malheur Evicted ‒ hopes that, by collecting money for organizations that represent the opposite to the Bundy brothers’ beliefs, it will make the armed militia members leave.

People pledge per day and this amount increases every day of the occupation; so far the campaign has 649 pledges.

The total amount raised will be split between the four groups once the occupation ends, so the longer it continues, the more cash that will be raked in by the groups that the occupiers detest

Jake Klonoski said the idea came to him from an article on an annual neo-Nazi march turned into a walkathon by residents of a small German town, raising money for neo-Nazi recovery groups, according to Katu.com.

The brothers, who come from Eugene, followed the 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch.

So when the latest standoff involving his sons happened in Oregon,”we were not very happy,” Zach Klonoski, who works for the mayor of Portland , told the Oregonian.

“We feel Oregonians generally oppose the occupation,” he said, “and we want to provide them with a peaceful and meaningful way to express their anger, frustration and opposition.”

The armed group of ranchers, militia members and their supporters headed by Ammon and Ryan Bundy are demanding Malheur National Forest, currently managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, be handed over to locals in the area.

They also want the father and son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were convicted of arson, released from prison.


The Assassination of Martin Luther King: Questions but no answers

by Harry von Johnston PhD

At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, a shot rang out. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, now lay sprawled on the balcony’s floor. A gaping wound covered a large portion of his jaw and neck. A great man who had spent thirteen years of his life dedicating himself to nonviolent protest had been felled by a sniper’s bullet.

Violence and controversy followed. In outrage of the murder, many blacks took to the streets across the country in a massive wave of riots. The FBI investigated the crime, but many believed them partially of fully responsible for the assassination. A man was arrested, but many people, including some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s own family, believe he was innocent.

What happened that evening?

Striking Sanitation Workers in Memphis

On February 12, thirteen hundred African-American sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. Though there had been a long history of grievances, the strike was begun as a response to a January 31 incident in which 22 black sanitation workers were sent home without pay during bad weather while all the white workers remained on the job. When the City of Memphis refused to negotiate with the 1,300 striking workers, King and other civil rights leaders were asked to visit Memphis in support.

On Monday, March 18, King managed to fit in a quick stop in Memphis, where he spoke to over 15,000 who had gathered at Mason Temple. Ten days later, King arrived in Memphis to lead a march in support of the striking workers. Unfortunately, as King led the crowd, a few of the protestors got rowdy and smashed the windows of a storefront. The violence spread and soon countless others had taken up sticks and were breaking windows and looting stores.

Police moved in to disperse the crowd. Some of the marchers threw stones at the police. The police responded with tear gas and nightsticks. At least one of the marchers was shot and killed.

King was extremely distressed at the violence that had erupted in his own march and became determined not to let violence prevail. He scheduled another march in Memphis for April 8.

On April 3, King arrived in Memphis a little later than planned because there had been a bomb threat for his flight before takeoff. That evening, King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech to a relatively small crowd that had braved the bad weather to hear King speak. King’s thoughts were obviously on his mortality, for he discussed the plane threat as well as the time he had been stabbed. He concluded the speech with

Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life – longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

After the speech, King went back to the Lorraine Motel to rest.

The Party Line

A racist petty criminal looking to make a name for himself stalks a well-protected black civil rights leader and finally slays him, then manages to make an almost-clean getaway – but not before dropping the murder weapon (with prints) and his personal radio with his prison ID engraved on it.

It’s almost too perfect because nobody would be that stupid. It must be a CIA-FBI-White House plot. Has to be. There is no way that James Earl Ray, the high-school dropout, Army throw-away, petty thief could stalk Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., kill the most influential civil rights leader of the era and evade an international manhunt for more than two months, only to be busted by Scotland Yard going through a customs checkpoint where he wasn’t supposed to be.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that it was a plot: “I have always believed that the government was part of a conspiracy, either directly or indirectly, to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” he wrote in the forward to James Earl Ray’s autobiography Who Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young believes the government was responsible for King’s death, as well. “I’ve always thought the FBI might be involved in some way,” he said. “You have to remember this was a time when the politics of assassination was acceptable in this country. It was during the period just before Allende’s murder. I think it’s naïve to assume these institutions were not capable of doing the same thing at home or to say each of these deaths (King and the two Kennedys) was an isolated incident by ‘a single assassin.’ It was government policy.”

Even Dr. King’s family believed that Martin was killed as the result of a conspiracy involving government officials. Dexter King met with the man convicted of killing his father and later said he believed Ray was not the shooter. There are two issues here that need to be examined. First, did James Earl Ray kill Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, and second, was the assassination the culmination of a conspiracy to silence the leader of America’s non-violent civil rights and anti-war movement? There are a number of different possible answers. Perhaps Ray was a patsy for a wide-reaching conspiracy. Maybe he was in Memphis on April 4 but didn’t fire the shot. It could be that he was an unwitting pawn in a plan that involved agents of the highest levels of government, up to and including the Johnson White House.

Or it could be that a black-hating sociopath with delusions of grandeur managed to get himself close enough to Dr. King to fire a shot with a scope-equipped high-powered rifle that would have dropped an elk at the same distance.

In comparison to the earlier assassination of President Kennedy, the questions surrounding the murder of Dr. King are a little more clear cut. Witnesses (for the most part) do not quibble on the number of shots fired, or from the originating area. There are few credible conspiracies that claim multiple gunmen, and no evidence that more than one person was on hand in Memphis that day who planned to kill King. Conspiracy theorists must base their accusations on the word of Ray, who pled guilty to the murder in return for a guarantee from Tennessee authorities not to seek the death penalty. Once sentenced to 99 years, Ray immediately began retracting and changing his story that he acted alone.

On the other hand, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Johnson Administration were clearly on the record in opposing King’s resistance to the Vietnam War and J. Edgar Hoover wanted King disgraced or rendered impotent by any means necessary. The comments of Young and Jackson do not seem as alarmist when one examines the record of harassment, slander and abuse government bodies accumulated in their pursuit of Dr. King. If Hoover wanted King taken out of the picture, could he have authorized assassination? As history has shown, with J. Edgar Hoover, the ends justified the means.

So, who killed Dr. King? Was it a conspiracy? Or was it a single, angry young man acting on his own hatred that ended the life of one of America’s greatest leaders? After thirty years of investigations, theories and speculation, the evidence has pretty much all been gathered and it is possible to draw a conclusion that satisfies the reasonable observer.

James Earl Ray

born March 10, 1928, Alton, Ill., U.S.

died April 23, 1998, Nashville, Tenn.

Ray was a petty criminal who had been sentenced several times to prison; he escaped from the Missouri state prison in 1967. In Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, he shot King from the window of a rooming house as King emerged from his motel room across the street. Ray fled to Toronto, London, Lisbon, and back to London, where he was arrested on June 8. In Memphis he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Months later, he recanted his confession, without effect. Later in life, his unsuccessful pleas to have his case reopened were supported by some civil rights leaders, notably the King family.

A little more than two months after King’s death, on June 8, 1968, Ray, an escaped convict who had broken out of the Missouri State Penitentiary a year before the assassination, was captured at London’s Heathrow Airport while trying to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd. Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King’s murder, confessing to the assassination on March 10, 1969, (though he recanted this confession three days later) and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. On the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray took a guilty plea to avoid a trial conviction and therefore the possibility of receiving the death penalty

In official theory, there was a racist petty criminal looking to make a name for himself, who stalked a well-protected black civil rights leader and finally killed him. He then managed to make an almost-clean getaway – but not before dropping the murder weapon (with prints) and his personal radio with his prison ID engraved on it.

There is no logical way that James Earl Ray, the high-school dropout, Army throw-away, petty thief could stalk Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., kill the most influential civil rights leader of the era and evade an international manhunt for more than two months, only to be busted by Scotland Yard going through a customs checkpoint he wasn’t supposed to be at.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Johnson Administration were clearly on the record in opposing King’s resistance to the Vietnam War and J. Edgar Hoover wanted King disgraced or rendered impotent by any means necessary.

James Earl Ray managed to stay out of trouble as a child — a little truant, perhaps, but generally not a bad kid. He had it rough; his family was poor, they moved around frequently, thanks to a couple of shiftless relatives that made life difficult in the small towns in the Midwest the family lived in. He was accused of theft in the sixth grade, and by the time he was 15, he had had enough of school.

He got his first taste of prison life after joining the Army and getting sent to Germany in the years following World War II. James liked to drink and got himself arrested by the MPs on a drunk and disorderly charge and sentenced to 90 days hard labor in the stockade. When he got out of the service, he began drifting around and spending a few nights in jail for vagrancy. His first big arrest came in 1949 and he served eight months in a California jail for burglary. In 1952, he did two years for an armed robbery of a taxi driver in Illinois. In 1955, Ray broke his first federal law, stealing and forging postal money orders. He was caught and sent to Leavenworth, Kansas.

By 1956, society in general had already given up on James Earl Ray. A parole officer wrote about him: “He  apparently lacks foresight, or is afraid of the future, as he absolutely refuses to look forward. He claims that he can do his time better if he doesn’t think.  (He) apparently is enjoying his present situation.”

On October 10, 1959, James Earl Ray robbed a Kroger grocery store using a gun and  was collared 20 minutes later. He was sentenced as a habitual offender and given 20 years in the Missouri State Prison at Jefferson City.

On April 23, 1967 James Earl Ray escaped from Missouri State Prison.

J. Edgar Hoover hated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover wasn’t necessarily a racist; he hated anybody who challenged his almost omnipotent power over the American justice system. Hoover didn’t like civil rights leaders, he didn’t like antiwar protesters, he didn’t like social activists and he especially didn’t like commies. And if you were part of the FBI in the 1960s, then you had better think the same way.  J. Edgar Hoover didn’t like inaction, either. If he didn’t like you, he didn’t just sit around and stew about it, he did something about it. So, when men like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young said the government was part of a conspiracy to murder King, the government they were talking about was the one run by J. Edgar Hoover.

King first came under scrutiny in 1961 when Hoover asked a subordinate for the department’s file on the civil rights leader.  In a memo to his supervisor, Agent G.H. Scatterday mentions King briefly: “King thanked Socialist Workers Party for support of bus boycott.” Scatterday’s report goes on to say King “was not investigated by the FBI” to which J. Edgar Hoover is reported to have asked “why not?” When Hoover asked why not, his subordinates got the point and a file was opened on King. An unclassified memorandum sent up the chain of command and now available in the FBI’s Freedom of Information Act reading room shows someone has highlighted King’s name on Scatterday’s memo and written “Do we have more details?”

Under the direction of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the FBI stepped up its observation of King in 1962 and 1963.  Kennedy at one time asked the FBI to develop a plan for covert bugging and electronic surveillance, but later backed down and told the FBI to stop its activities toward King.  At the time, Kennedy was concerned about King’s ties to the communists and socialists who were actively trying to recruit the American under classes. King himself reportedly attended a Communist Party education program and gave the closing address at one seminar in the 1950s

Without Kennedy’s knowledge, the FBI began an illegal counterintelligence program regarding King and the SCLC.  “The program was intended to discredit and neutralize the civil rights leader,” the FBI post-assassination report said.  Hoover was greatly afraid of communists and was convinced that the reds were attempting to “infiltrate” black society to woo them to the communist side. Having watched Castro – who exhibited no communist leanings while he led his revolution – Hoover was determined not be fooled again when his advisors reported that communist attempts to win support among blacks were met with failure

Stung by Hoover’s ire over botching the Castro takeover of Cuba, FBI underlings began to step-up their activities regarding King and the SCLC. Hoover himself never wavered in his belief that King was a communist, but he refused to allow his agency to act solely on his belief. At first, his subordinates told him that communists did not control the civil rights movement and Hoover said they were wrong. The aides quickly reversed course and said, the boss was right; King was a communist. But Hoover dismissed the claim because no one had provided proof. The only alternative, the deputy directors felt, was to beef up surveillance of King to find the dirt Hoover believed to his core to be there. In 1963, Hoover requested for a second time permission to bug King’s residence and offices. This time, Bobby Kennedy agreed, with the caveat that the bugs would be removed by the end of the year if no concrete evidence of communist infiltration was found. With the assassination of his brother, Bobby forgot all about the bugs and Hoover declined to remind his boss. The bugs remained in place and under observation.

A month before John Kennedy’s murder, the report based on this increased surveillance was presented to J. Edgar Hoover. “The attached analysis of Communism and the Negro Movement is highly explosive,” wrote Assistant to the Director A.H. Belmont. “It can be regarded as a personal attack on Martin Luther King. There is no doubt it will have a heavy impact on the Attorney General and anyone else to whom we disseminate it. It is labeled TOP SECRET.” On his personal copy of the memorandum, Hoover wrote: “I am glad that at last you recognize that there exists such influence.”

Sparks began to fly between Hoover and King personally in 1962. Interestingly, it was King who threw the first punch by publicly questioning the FBI’s handling of a racial incident in Albany, Georgia. Hoover shot back by testifying before a Congressional committee on his belief that communists had infiltrated and were directing the civil rights movement. King responded to this allegation by accusing Hoover of fanning the flames of racism and placating right-wing reactionaries. 

Later, Hoover told a group of reporters that King was “the most notorious liar in the country.”  King and Hoover reached a fragile truce in late 1964 after they met face-to-face in an attempt to iron out differences. About this meeting, Hoover told underlings “he had taken the ball away from King at the beginning.”  For his part, King apologized for remarks he had made and thanked Hoover for the work the FBI was doing to investigate civil rights violations. The cease-fire lasted just two weeks. On December 14, 1964, the Southern Christian Educational Fund repeated King’s criticisms of Hoover and called upon supporters to write President Johnson to have the president fire Hoover. The mudslinging continued over the years, including one episode where Hoover met with an Atlanta official in Washington for President Johnson’s  ginauguration. Hoover leaked unflattering details of King’s personal life obtained through wiretaps to this official, who returned to Atlanta and passed them on to Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., who then confronted his son.

While King was sparring with the FBI and gradually shifting his focus from civil rights to a more general human rights/anti-war perspective, James Earl Ray was maintaining a low profile and slowly working his way north toward Canada. His escape from the Missouri prison caused little concern and resulted in almost no news. Wanted posters were printed with Ray’s prison mug shots, but the first press run included the wrong fingerprints – something that gives conspiracy theorists fuel for their fires. A reward was offered for his return: $50

Ray managed to get a number of menial jobs on his journey north and his employers remember him as a hard worker and nice person. Most were shocked to find later the man they hired was wanted for murdering Martin Luther King Jr.  James, who had always been something of a miser, managed to put together a decent nest egg through hard work, saving and petty robbery

His goal in crossing the border to Canada was to get a Canadian passport and get a job onboard a ship. Once he was abroad, he planned to jump ship and start a new life somewhere else. Just where that somewhere was, he didn’t know and didn’t care. He believed that in order to get a Canadian passport he had to find a rube that would be willing to swear they had known him for at least two years.

In a beat-up Plymouth he purchased for a couple hundred in cash, Ray crossed the border to Canada in July 1967 at Detroit and headed from Windsor to Montreal, where many foreigners were on hand for an international expo. On the way to Montreal Ray first used the name Eric S. Galt, which he claimed he made up after seeing a road sign for the town of Galt along Highway 401. However, an Eric S. Galt lived at that time in Montreal and bore at best a superficial resemblance to Ray.  How Ray came to choose the name Galt is important to many conspiracy theorists. They suppose that someone who knew Galt or at least knew he existed assisted Ray’s escape to Canada and financed his stay there. William Bradford Huie, the man who pioneered the practice of checkbook journalism and paid James Earl Ray $40,000 to tell him “the truth” about the assassination, offers a more rational explanation: “(He) saw the name Galt on exit markers and chose it as a surname. When he stopped for the night of July 16 at a Toronto motel, he looked through the Galts in the telephone directory…he chose ‘Eric S.’” There has never been any indication that the real Eric S. Galt had ever heard of or seen James Earl Ray before that fateful day in April

Ray himself offers this advice on picking an alias: “I’ve used many different names, but picking a new one is never easy. I can’t afford to pick something easy like Smith or Brown or Jones, because I might forget who I was if somebody suddenly asks me. My name has to be unusual so it’ll stick in my memory and I’ll always know who I am.”

Montreal is a large port on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Ray spent a good deal of time near the waterfront trying to earn a union card to get a shipboard job. Without the passport, he couldn’t get the union card and without the union card, he would never get on board a ship. His attempts to get a woman to vouch for him with immigration authorities were unsuccessful and in a couple of weeks his cash reserve began to dwindle. Ray told Huie he never intended to go back to the United States, but in need of money, he began to let it be known in some of the seedier waterfront bars that he had been in trouble in the States and that for a fee, he was willing to undertake low- risk “jobs.”   

Ray mentioned a man named ‘Raul.’

He was about 5’-8’’, weighed 140 pounds or so and had slightly wavy red hair that might have been the result of a dye job. He sat down at my table, ordered a drink and made small talk in what sounded to me like a Spanish accent, then introduced himself as ‘Raoul.’ He never mentioned his last name. I figured if he wanted me to know it, he’d tell me and I didn’t press the matter.”

Raoul and Ray sized each other up over the next few days, trying to smoke out the other’s real purpose and once trust was established, they struck a deal. In return for a smuggling job, Raoul would procure travel papers for James Ray. Raoul told James he had a couple of small packages that he needed to get to Mexico. If Ray would get the packages across the border to the U.S., Raoul would take them to Mobile, Alabama where the pair would meet once again. Together they would drive to the Mexican border and repeat the process.

Ray agreed to the plan, except he recommended that they meet not in Mobile, on the Gulf of Mexico, but in Birmingham, several hours north of Mobile in central Alabama. Raoul agreed to this amendment, Ray claims. “It didn’t matter to me,” Ray wrote. “I wasn’t going to set foot in either place.” He planned to cross the border with the contraband and then head back across with his new Canadian identity.

The trip across the border was uneventful, according to Ray. The pair drove to Windsor and separated prior to reaching the Customs area. Raoul took a cab across the mile-long river border. Ray drove his Plymouth through the Ambassador tunnel with two packages in red wrapping hidden behind the seats in the rear of the car. In his book he claims that the car was subjected to a limited search, but no contraband was found. According to Ray, the first officer who searched the car was pulled off the job before finishing. “Just before he reached the back seat a second officer came up and told the first that he’d complete the search,” Ray claims. “The first inspector walked away. The second abruptly ended the search.”  In Detroit, Raoul and Ray reunited where the mysterious Latino took possession of the two brick-sized packages. Ray was ready to get his passport and ditch Raoul, but the man confessed trouble getting the false papers. Raoul placated the angry Ray by giving him “a stack of cash” and promising him the papers once they reached Alabama.

They split up and Ray headed toward Birmingham.

There are several elements of truth in the story told by James Earl Ray to William Huie – who believed Ray killed King and acted alone. Huie was able to prove that Ray did work his way north from Missouri to Detroit, and that he accumulated a remarkably good set of references. Huie also proved that Ray did cross into Canada, did spend time in Montreal and eventually returned to the United States. Huie also confirms that a popular form of smuggling in the late 1960s involved bandits who teamed with Americans and smuggled drugs or other contraband into the U.S. and met their accomplices across the border after crossing in a cab. Huie was never able to find anyone who could finger Raoul. But as an escaped convict who had made it safely across the Canadian border, James Earl Ray would have to have a damned good reason to cross back into the United States and risk being stopped at immigration. Smuggling was about as good a reason as any, Huie reasoned.

The main item on King’s agenda in the spring of 1968 was not the war in Vietnam, nor was it the labor movement in Memphis. King was trying to organize a Poor Peoples’ March on Washington for early April where thousands of disenfranchised Americans of all races would descend on the nation’s capital and protest the country’s economic divisiveness. However, King accepted an invitation from labor leaders in Memphis to help the city’s sanitation department – nearly all black except for drivers — in its unionization efforts in March. A rally in Memphis turned violent, with renegade gangs looting and rioting despite King’s pleas for nonviolent protests.

King and the SCLC leadership left Memphis, but King felt the need to return to demonstrate that nonviolent protest had not lost its effectiveness. The SCLC made plans to return to Memphis and stay, once again, in the Lorraine Motel on April 3. King planned a nonviolent march in Memphis on April 8, to refocus attention on the sanitation workers strike. However, as he arrived in Memphis, King was served with a restraining order from a federal judge barring the march, which the civil rights leader planned to challenge in court the next day.

King spent the evening of April 3 into the early hours of April 4 in a strategy session with aides, and at about 4:30 a.m. he returned to the Lorraine where his brother, the Rev. A.D. Williams King, Georgia Davis and Lucie Ward met him. The two brothers spent about a half-hour with the women before Martin Luther King Jr. returned to the room he was sharing with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy. Thirty minutes after returning to his room, King once again met with Davis in a separate room. He remained there for about an hour before returning to his own room.

It was not until the early afternoon that King emerged from the hotel room, as Andrew Young went to court instead of King to fight the restraining order. King spent much of the afternoon with Davis, his brother, Ward and Abernathy. Sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. – Abernathy and Davis disagree on the time – King and Abernathy returned to their own hotel room to change for dinner. The entire group was headed for a meal at the home of a local minister, the Rev. Billy Kyles.

At 6 p.m., King and Abernathy emerged from their second-story room onto the balcony of the Lorraine. King initiated a conversation with his driver, Solomon Jones, about the weather and Jones advised King to grab a coat, as the weather was turning chilly. King acknowledged Jones’ comment and started to turn toward his room. At that instant, Jones later told authorities that he heard a sound he assumed to be a firecracker and noticed King falling to the floor of the balcony. Jones called for help and King’s aides, who were all nearby, rushed to the stricken civil rights leader.

The bullet struck King near his jaw, fracturing his lower mandible, severing the jugular vein, vertebral and subclavian arteries and shattering several vertebrae in his neck and back. There was nothing that could be done and Dr. Martin Luther King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital at 7:05 p.m.

Death was the result of a gunshot wound to the chin and neck with a fatal transection of the lower cervical and upper thoracic spinal cord and other structures in the neck,” wrote Dr. J.T. Francisco, the county medical examiner, in his official autopsy report. “The direction of the wound was front to back, above downward (from right to left).”

Police security around Dr. King had been tight for the two days he was in Memphis in April. He had been under constant surveillance by at least two plainclothes officers who did not travel with King’s party; instead, they maintained a surreptitious watch over King’s activities. During most of this surveillance, two of the four officers who held the 24-hour vigil around King’s group were black: Detective Edward E. Redditt and Patrolman Willie B. Richmond.

At the time of the shooting, Redditt had been removed from duty because an anonymous caller to the Memphis Police Department had made a threat against Redditt and his family because of the detective’s perceived actions as part of the “establishment.” At 4 p.m. April 4, Redditt left the scene of the surveillance – Memphis Fire Station No. 2, which provided a secure and covert place from which to observe King’s party. When the shots were fired, Richmond was still on duty at Fire Station No. 2, and reported hearing the shots. Richmond observed King fall to the floor of the balcony, and alerted both a tactical police unit nearby and Memphis Police headquarters. He was ordered to remain at the fire station while other officers responded to the Lorraine. Shortly afterward, Richmond was ordered to police headquarters to make a detailed report of his observations.

Patrolman Morris, alerted by King’s staff that the shot had come from the rear of a boarding house across the street from the hotel, ran around the block to the front of the motel, where he met another officer from the tac unit, whose identity today remains in dispute. A search by two other officers found fresh footprints in the mud in an alley between the building from which the shot was believed to have originated and another building. One officer remained at that scene until crime scene technicians were able to make casts of the footprints. A second officer, Patrolman Dollahite, ran around the front of the building from which the assassin fired the bullet and ended up on Main Street in front of a rundown flophouse. Continuing down the block, Dollahite came upon a green blanket lying in front of Canipe’s Amusement Company, next door to the flophouse. The blanket covered a blue suitcase and a box containing a high-powered rifle equipped with a scope. For some reason, Dollahite, who observed Tac 10 commander Gormley approaching, ran past the blanket and took up a guard position at the end of the block. Gormley, coming toward Dollahite, also spied the blanket and gun and was told by the owner of Canipe’s Amusement Company that a white man had run past and dropped the bundle. Canipe told Gormley that the man fled the scene in a late model white Mustang. Gormley communicated this information to Memphis Police headquarters.

The FBI became involved after Director J. Edgar Hoover and U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark ordered the department to investigate the possibility of a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which made it a federal crime to use race as a motive to murder or conspire to murder. Of course, the Memphis police continued to investigate because of the murder itself that had been committed in its jurisdiction. Special Agent Robert G. Jensen, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis field office took charge of the federal probe.

The early investigation centered on Bessie Brewer’s Rooming House where the shots originated. Brewer told authorities that a John Willard had registered with her at sometime between 3:30 and 4 p.m. on April 4, and was assigned to room 5B, which overlooked the Lorraine Hotel. Willard had originally been assigned to room 8, which did not provide such a view, but asked for a change. Willard was described as a well-dressed white man, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, about 35 years old weighing around 180 pounds. Charles A. Stephens, a resident of the rooming house, told investigators that he heard a gunshot coming from the bathroom at the rear of the building (overlooking the Lorraine Motel) and, running to his door after hearing the shot, he saw a man fitting Willard’s description fleeing toward the front of the building and down the stairs.

Another resident, William Anchutz, reported hearing the shot and seeing a man fitting Willard’s description running away. Anchutz said to the man “I thought I heard a shot,” to which the man replied, “Yeah, it was a shot.”

Next to the rooming house, two patrons in the Canipe Amusements Company heard a “thud” and saw a man, about 6 feet tall, around 30 years old and neatly dressed, running past the entry to the store. It appeared the man had dropped a package in the doorway of the store as he fled. Moments later, they saw a white Mustang drive away with the man inside. The package was a blanket containing a Remington Gamester Model 760 .30-06 caliber rifle with a scope, a radio, some clothes in a blue zippered bag, a pair of binoculars, a couple of beer cans and an ad for the York Arms Company with an accompanying receipt.

Shortly after, the rifle and scope were traced to a Birmingham, Alabama sporting goods store, the Aeromarine Supply Company. Employees there told agents that a Harvey Lowmeyer purchased the items on March 30, 1968. The salesman who sold the rifle to Lowmeyer described him as a neat, 30-something white male about 6 feet tall and 165 pounds. The binoculars were traced to the York Arms Company in Memphis, and had been purchased two hours before King had been shot. The beer cans were purchased in Mississippi.

Five days after King was shot, police found a Memphis hotel reservation on April 3 for Eric Starvo Galt, who listed a Birmingham, Alabama address and drove a white Mustang. Galt stayed at the Rebel Motel in Memphis for one night: April 3. Through driver’s license records, police found that Galt was 36 years old, 5-feet 11-inches tall and he weighed 175 pounds. Galt had blond hair and blue eyes.

Almost a week after the shooting, Galt’s white Mustang turned up in Atlanta, Georgia. A search of the vehicle showed Galt had the car tuned up twice in Los Angeles, California. Galt had lived in Birmingham for some time, and talking to neighbors, investigators found Galt had an extreme interest in dancing and took dancing lessons on a regular basis. Since clues pointed to the fact that Galt had spent a period in Los Angeles, dance studios there were canvassed and an important clue was found: a photograph of Eric Starvo Galt.

The investigation bogged down a bit after the discovery of Galt’s car in Atlanta, and the FBI turned to its extensive records division for assistance. Using fingerprints found on the rifle and Galt’s possessions, the FBI ran a crosscheck against known fugitives. The decision to test against only fugitives was, in the FBI’s words “speculative.” There was no reason to believe Galt was a fugitive except for the assumption that it was a strong likelihood that King’s assassination was not Galt’s first crime.  The hunch paid off when Galt’s fingerprints were found to match an escaped convict named James Earl Ray.

In a short period of time, authorities were easily able to piece together Ray’s travels since his escape, including lengthy trips to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Birmingham, Memphis (presumably to assassinate King), and eventually to Atlanta, where once again the trail grew cold. Ray’s family was of little help to authorities, claiming not to have heard from Ray for some time.

Prison inmates familiar with Ray were questioned with little success; they told of bounties put on King’s head, but agents were not able to track down leads on the source of these bounties. One cellmate did tell agents that Ray had talked about how easy it was to get a passport in the name of a Canadian citizen, and that when he escaped, he was going to Canada and from there, abroad

Armed with this tidbit of information, the search headed north. “Though the search went through a staggering number of applications, and was based on the comparison of Ray’s photographs to those submitted with applications, it proved to be the necessary break in picking up Ray’s trail,” the official FBI report of the Martin Luther King assassination reveals. After looking over 175,000 applications, on June 1, 1968, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police contacted the FBI to report that George Ramon Sneyd, who bore a striking resemblance to Ray, had been issued a Canadian Passport on April 24, 1968. “Sneyd” purchased a roundtrip airfare from Toronto to London and left for the United Kingdom on May 6.

Across the Atlantic, FBI agents and Scotland Yard took up the chase.  The bobbies learned “Sneyd” had turned in the return ticket in exchange for a ticket to Lisbon, Portugal.   “Sneyd” arrived in Portugal on May 7, but returned to London on May 17.  On June 8, 1968, British immigration authorities stopped James Earl Ray as he attempted to board a plane bound for Brussels, Belgium. The suspected assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. was in custody.

With Ray/Galt/Sneyd in custody in Great Britain, the United States government prepared to request his extradition. Ray protested the extradition and in what would be the closest thing to a trial James Earl Ray would ever receive, the British courts were presented with the evidence against him. The Americans laid out the facts as reported above. A man identified as Ray bought a rifle similar to – if not the same as – the one that killed Dr. King. A man identified as Ray checked into the rooming house across from the Lorraine Hotel. He was seen running from the rooming house dropping a package that contained a rifle very similar to the one – if not the same one – that killed King. His fingerprints were found in a car similar to – if not the same as – one seen fleeing the area after the shooting. His picture was on a false passport application. At the very least, Ray would have been returned to the state of Missouri to finish out his robbery sentence.

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