TBR News January 2, 2016

Jan 01 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 1, 2016: “The day of the Celestial Easter Bunny has come and gone.

Gallons of T.J. Swann chemical wine,  masquerading as champagne, have been used to celebrate another coming disaster,

Retail sales were not as good as expected this year.

Putin is quickly edging Washington out as the major world power.

Jesus has not arrived in Houston this year because he missed the bus.

Trump is resonating his messages in spite of the yapping hysteria of the left-wing media.

The Turks are behaving true to form by slaughtering more Kurdish civilians.

 Fewer Americans are applying for unemployment benefits because fewer Americans are working.

The average American high school graduate can barely read the big headlines in supermarket tabloids but they can certainly text message!

The presidential candidate who thought the Pyramids of Egypt were grain elevators has withdrawn from the race and in Bad Seepage, Ohio, the police department ushered in  the new year by shooting a two year old black baby seventy five time with

.357 Anti-Baby pistols because, as one officer said, chuckling, they thought the pacifier might be a lethal ray gun.

The Deadly MERS Scam

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

MERS means: Mortgage Electronic Registration Inc.

This entity holds approximately 60 million Amerrican mortgages and is a Delaware corporation whose sole shareholder is Mers Corp. MersCorp and its specified members have agreed to include the MERS corporate name on any mortgage that was executed in conjunction with any mortgage loan made by any member of MersCorp.

Thus in place of the original lender being named as the mortgagee on the mortgage that is supposed to secure their loan, MERS is named as the “nominee” for the lender who actually loaned the money to the borrower. In other words MERS is really nothing more than a name that is used on the mortgage instrument in place of the actual lender. MERS’ primary function, therefore, is to act as a document custodian.

MERS was created solely to simplify the process of transferring mortgages by avoiding the need to re-record liens – and pay county recorder filing fees – each time a loan is assigned. Instead, servicers record loans only once and MERS’ electronic system monitors transfers and facilitates the trading of notes. It has very conserbatively estimated that as of February, 2010, over half of all new residential mortgage loans in the United States are registered with MERS and recorded in county recording offices in MERS’ name

MersCorp was the created in the early 1990’s by the former C.E.O.’s of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Indy Mac, Countrywide, Stewart Title Insurance and the American Land Title Association. The executives of these companies lined their pockets with billions of dollars of unearned bonuses and free stock by creating so-called mortgage backed securities using bogus mortgage loans to unqualified borrowers thereby creating a huge false demand for residential homes and thereby falsely inflating the value of those homes. MERS marketing claims that its “paperless systems fit within the legal framework of the laws of all fifty states” are now being vetted by courts and legal commentators throughout the country.

The MERS paperless system is the type of crooked rip-off scheme that is has been seen for generations past in the crooked financial world. In this present case, MERS was created in the boardrooms of the most powerful and controlling members of the American financial institutions. This gigantic scheme completely ignored long standing law of commerce relating to mortgage lending and did so for its own prsonal gain. That the inevitable collapse of the crooked mortgage swindles would lead to terrible national reprecussions was a matter of little or no interest to the upper levels of America’s banking and financial world because the only interest of these entities was to grab the money of suckers, keep it in the form of ficticious bonuses, real estate and very large accounts in foreign banks.. The effect of this system has led to catastrophic metldown on both the American and global economy.

MERS, it has clearly been proven in many civil cases, does not hold any promissory notes of any kind.. A party must have possession of a promissory note in order to have standing to enforce and/or otherwise collect a debt that is owed to another party. Given this clear-cut legal definition,  MERS does not have legal standing to enforce or collect on the over 60 million mortgages it controls and no member of MERS has any standing in an American civil court. 

MERS has been taken to civil courts across the country and charged with a lack of standing in reprossion issues. When the mortgage debacle initially, and invevitably, began, MERS always rotinely broght actions against defauilting mortgage holders purporting to represent the owners of the defaulted mortgages but once the courts discovered that MERS was only a front organization that did not hold any deed nor was aware of who or what agencies might hold a deed, they have been routinely been denied in their attempts to force foreclosure. In the past, persons alleging they were officials of MERS in foreclosure motions, purported to be the holders of the mortgage, when, in fact, they nor only were not the holder of the mortgage but, under a court order, could not produce the identity of the actual holder. These so-called MERS officers have usually been just employees of entities who are servicing the loan for the actual lender. MERS, it is now widely acknowledged by the courty, has no legal right to foreclose or otherwise collect debt which are evidenced by promissory notes held by someone else.

The American media routinely identifies MERS as a mortgage lender, creditor, and mortgage company, when in point of fact MERS has never loaned so much as a dollar to anyone, is not a creditor and is not a mortgage company. MERS is merely a name that is printed on mortgages, purporting to give MERS some sort of legal status, in the matter of a loan made by a completely different and almost always,a totally unknown enitity.

In summation, if a mortgage has MERS on it, the homeowner can never find out who actually holds his mortgage and can never get full title to his home, or business, even if the mortagage is fully paid.

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. 58

Date: Thursday, January 9, 1997

Commenced: 9:47 AM CST

Concluded: 10:28 AM CST

RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Did you talk to Bill yesterday?

GD: Yes, he actually called me. He was discussing Kronthal with me mostly, but I think he was on a fishing trip. Was asking me about the new Mueller book…what was in it and such like.

RTC: Did you tell him anything?

GD: No, not in specific. I find him entertaining and sometimes truthful, but I don’t trust him. And I don’t trust Kimmel, either.

RTC: Probably a good idea. I rarely hear from Kimmel these days.

GD: I wonder why?

RTC: I think you’re the reason. Bill was cautioning me against talking too much to you because it might hurt my reputation.

GD: I think it must be the fact that I’m a practicing vampire. You know, Robert, it’ll be tough sledding this winter.

RTC: Why is that?

GD: No snow.

RTC: I walked right into that one, didn’t I? Has anyone discussed the Kennedy business with you?

GD: Corson did, once. Said he had the real story in his safe deposit box, and Plato or Aristotle would get it when he was called to Jesus.

RTC: Plato. That’s the fix lawyer around here. Little favors for this person or that one, little jobs for the Company and so on.

GD: They probably deserve each other.

RTC: Probably. And how is the Mueller book doing?

GD: Well enough. I’m starting to block out the Kennedy book and, yes, I know not to talk about it…

RTC: Or even write something up about it. If Tom thought you were into this, he’d have his boys do a black bag job on you and get into your hard drive.

GD: I could put a bomb in it… When they turned it on, somebody later would be carrying a white cane and being nice to his German Shepherd guide dog.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, not to make jokes about things like that.

GD: If people don’t want me to punt them in their fat ass, they shouldn’t bend over. On the other hand, it might be an invite for something more romantic.

RTC: I can see you’re in a good mood today.

GD: Foul mouthed as ever.

RTC: Sometimes, but always entertaining.

GD: I know Kimmel doesn’t find me entertaining. I make fun of the establishment and he is so obviously a dedicated and vocal part of it.

RTC: Everyone has to have something to cling to.

GD: What a waste of time. People are so predictable and so pathetic. You know, Robert, it’s like visiting your ant farm every morning and watching the ants leading their programmed lives.

RTC: Isn’t that a bit arrogant, Gregory?

GD: It’s not that I’m so smart, Robert, although I am, but it’s because so many are so stupid. Anyway, enough Weltschmertz.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: Pain with the world. Burned out. Bored. Frustrated.

RTC: I see. When you get to my age, that’s the whole thing.

GD: Well, if youth knew and age could, Robert. I think that’s from Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who invented aspirin. You know, God is Love, there is no pain. They ought to put that up in the terminal cancer wards. It would be such a comfort. I understand Mary was buried with a telephone in her coffin. High hopes and impossibilities sums it up, and have an aspirin.

RTC: That’s Christian Science, isn’t it? You heard about the Christian Scientist? He had a very bad cold and pretty soon, the cold was gone and so was the Christian Scientist.

GD: That’s how it goes, I guess. Now let me get serious about this ZIPPER business. If you want me to do a treatment on this that will be to your benefit, I need to get from you, on the phone is fine, some kind of a rationale for what happened. I mean, that’s what you want, isn’t it? To let those who come after you fully understand the reasons for your actions.

RTC: Yes, that’s it exactly. If that ever got out, though by now, it probably won’t, I don’t want my son and my grandchildren thinking I was just a common or garden variety assassin. They should know the reasons for why we acted as we did.

GD: Fine. Go ahead.

RTC: You must understand that we took our duties very seriously. Angleton was a first class counter intelligence man and very dedicated. And he discovers that the most important intelligence reports, the President’s daily briefings from the CIA, are ending up in Moscow. Within a week of them being given to the President. A week. And this was not a one-time incident but had been going on for some time. We then tried to find out how this was happening. A major intelligence disaster, Gregory, major. Now there were several copies of this report disseminated, never mind to whom, so in each one, a little spice was put in. An identifier as you will. Nothing that changed the thrust of the report but a little bit of spice, as Jim used to say. Jim’s contact in Moscow was a diplomat, never mind which country, because we don’t need to make trouble for him. So from him, we got copies of what Nikita was getting. So can you imagine how stunned we all were to learn that it was the President’s copy that was being leaked? My God! So we couldn’t just walk up to him and ask him how come Khrushchev was reading his briefings a week after we gave them to him. Jim couldn’t find a way how this was done, but then we had a report that Bobby, his brother, was known to be friendly with a prominent KGB fellow, Bolshakov. No question of who he was. The TASS man here. Top level. Bobby was known to have had at least one meeting with him. Hoover was having Bobby watched day and night because Hoover hated him and wanted to catch him doing something bad so he could leak it to the Post and get him sacked. Anyway, they found out that Bobby was talking to the Commie on the phone from his home so we, and Hoover, tapped his phone. Hoover didn’t know we were doing it, too, but that’s Washington politics for you. And we heard, for sure, that Bobby was sending thermofax copies of this report to him. I mean, there was no question. And, we learned, too, that Kennedy was keeping in direct contact with Khrushchev by Bobby and the Russian. I mean they were subverting the entire diplomatic system and God alone knows what Kennedy was talking about. We had to make sure of this, and really sure. It was explosive, believe me. Jim and a few of us sat down, listened to tapes and agent reports and tried to decide what to do. I mean, Gregory, here we had our President giving, actually giving, the most secret documents to our worst enemy, a man who swore in public he would destroy us. So, what to do? Make it public? Who would dare to do this? Of course we had strong media contacts but we all decided this was just too mind-boggling and negative to let outside that room. And that is where the decision was made to simply get rid of Kennedy. He was too independent, he had sacked Dulles and Bissel over the Cuban thing and threatened to Mansfield to break the Agency up. And here he was giving our worse enemy top secret inside information. I mean it really wasn’t open to discussion. You can see this all, can’t you?

GD: I can see your point of view very clearly.

RTC: What would you have done?

GD: I’m not an important person like those people, so what difference does my opinion make in all this? I’m just trying to find the rationale.

RTC: Well, do you have it?

GD: Yes, very clearly.

RTC: Well, the rest was lining up the players. Jim did his part, McCone did his part and he talked to Hoover to get his cooperation. We never went directly to him, but we used Bill Sullivan, his right hand trouble-shooter. That’s how it was done. Hoover hated the Kennedys, especially Bobby, and we had to have him on our side because it was his people that would investigate any killing that had to be done. It took about a week of back and forth but finally it was agreed on. Johnson was no problem. He was a real rat; a wheeler-dealer whom you couldn’t trust to the corner for a pound of soft soap. The Kennedy bunch were treating him like shit and planned to dump him as VP, so of course he went for the wink and the nod. Fortas was his bagman, just like Sullivan was Hoover’s. These are people who know the value of silence from long experience. And it went on from there. I have a phone conference record which I will dig out, when the time comes, and send to you. At this point are you clear on the motivations? I mean, this was not just some spur of the moment thing, Gregory. We felt it had to be done to stop what we could only call high treason. Hoover and Johnson both went along on those grounds. A matter of treason. And it had to be stopped. I don’t see this as heroic but a vital necessity. For the country.

GD: I remember reading somewhere that treason doth never prosper for if it prospers, none dare call it treason.

RTC: Something like that.

GD: Very like.

RTC: But if you look at it carefully, and I hope you will, Gregory, you will see that Kennedy was committing the treason, not us. It was he and his vile brother who were passing our most sensitive and secret documents to our enemies. What were we to do? Confront him? We’d all be fired, or worse. What choice was there? Tell me that.

GD: From that point of view, none.

RTC: We are making progress. One thing…Jim was thinking about blowing up Kennedy’s yacht while and was sailing around off Cape Cod but since there certainly would be children on board, I put a stop to that. Kennedy is one thing but not the children.

GD: And the wife? Our American saint.

RTC: Oh that one. Don’t be fooled, Gregory. Jackie claims descent from French nobility but in fact, her French ancestor wasn’t a nobleman, but an immigrant cabinetmaker. And crap about her being related to Robert E. Lee is more crap. That part of her family were lace curtain micks from the old sod. The woman is a fraud. She married Kennedy for his father’s money, that’s all. Wonderful backgrounds here, Gregory. Old Joe was as crooked as they come. He was an associate of Al Capone, a bootlegger, and worse, and in 1960, he and the mob rigged the election so Jack could get in. Yes, I know all about that. They did their work in Chicago with the Daley machine and the local mob. That’s right, vote early and vote often. They even voted the cemeteries. I never really liked Nixon but they connived and stole the election from him slicker than snot off a glass-handled door knob.

GD: Ain’t it nice living in a democracy? So Kennedy wasn’t a saint by any stretch.

RTC:We can overlook all the women and the wild drug and sex orgies in the White House, but, Gregory, passing our top secrets to the enemy was too damned much. I would like you to show that very clearly if and when you get into this.

GD: Well, from a pragmatic view, Robert, it is the very best and clearest reason for the killing. A question here.

RTC: Certainly.

GD: A plot. Good, but then how do you keep it quiet? Someone might talk.

RTC: Remove them, Gregory.

GD: But what about those who remove those who know too much? Then they know too much.

RTC: Oswald knew a little too much, just a little but enough. And he could prove he never shot Kennedy. So he had to go before he started to talk. Oswald knew some of our people and he worked directly for ONI, so there were dangers there. On the other hand, the man who shot King, Ray, knew nothing so he got to live and end up in jail until he died. He knew there was something wrong, but, and this is important to note, Gregory, he had no proof.

GD: You did King?

RTC: No Hoover did King. He hated him with a visceral passion. Hoover was a nut, Gregory, but a very powerful and very dangerous nut. There is a long-standing rumor here that Hoover had passed the color line and that he was part black. Hoover was a homosexual and there we have two reasons to hate yourself. King was black and he was a womanizer. And Bobby was AG and loathed Hoover. He used to go into Hoover’s office while he was taking his after-lunch nap and wake him up. And he laughed at him and called him a faggot behind his back. Not to do that to Hoover. He stayed in absolute power because he had enough real dirt on Congress to put most of them away in the cooler or the loonie bin. No, Bobby signed his death warrant when he did those things. No, Hoover did King and Hoover did Bobby. Not himself, but he got Bill Sullivan to do it. Sullivan was his hatchet man and we worked directly with Bill. But then Bill got old and was starting to babble like old people do, and he was hinting about Hoover, who had sacked him after he had used him. No, that doesn’t make it, so some kid shot Bill right through the head. He thought he was a deer. My, my.

GD: And Bobby?

RTC: That was Hoover too. It was an agreement. We did John and Edgar did the others. We had one of our men there when they did Bobby, just to observe. We got George the Greek to keep an eye open. They got one of Kennedy’s people to steer him into the kitchen after a speech and the raghead was waiting. One of the Kennedy bodyguards did him from behind while all the shooting and screaming was going on. Much better than John. They had a real shooter in front of real people. None of the questions like we had in Dallas. No loose ends, so to speak. And King was another clean job. Sullivan was very good.

GD: And that’s why he turned into a deer.

RTC: Yes, he turned into a very dead deer.

GD: And you got Cord’s wife on top of it.

RTC: Jim said she was hanging around with hippies and arty-farty people and running her mouth.

GD: Did she know anything?

RTC: No, but she was well-connected and some people might believe her. She’d been humping Kennedy and they apparently really go along with each other. She was a lot more of a woman than Jackie and she never nagged Jack or acted so superior like Jackie loved to do. Her brother in law worked for us and we all agonized over this but in the end, Jim had his way. Of course Cord thought it was peachy-keen. He hated her, but then Cord hated everybody. The vicious Cyclops!

GD: One eye.

RTC: Yes. Oh, and like Jim, he, too, was a profound poet. God, spare me from the poets of the world. You don’t write poetry, do you, Gregory.

GD: No, but really filthy limericks, Robert. Would you like to hear some?

RTC: Oh, not now. Maybe later.

GD: Probably just as well. Once I get started on those, I’ll be going strong an hour later. But let me tell you just one. Not a dirty one, but after about an hour of limericks, I love to end the night with this one. Can I proceed?

RTC: Just one?

GD: Yes, just one.

RTC: Go on.

GD: ‘There was an old man of St. Bees,

Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.

When asked if it hurt,

      He replied ‘No, it didn’t,

    ‘I’m so glad that it wasn’t a hornet.’


(Concluded at 10:28 AM CST)

Ukraine officially defaults on $3bn debt to Russia; Moscow to sue Kiev in London court

January 1, 2016


Russia’s Finance Ministry is filing a lawsuit against Ukraine for failing to pay off its $3 billion debt to Russia before the December 31 deadline. This means that Ukraine is now officially in a state of default, the ministry added.

Ukraine has not made the payment of $3.075 billion in repayment and servicing of external bonds owned by Russia during the grace period, which expired on December 31, 2015. Thus, Ukraine is in a state of default now,” the ministry said in a statement.

The lawsuit will be filed in the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).

The Finance Ministry contacted ‘The Law Debenture Corporation plc’ [which acts as the principal creditor to bond issue documents] and initiated legal procedures that are required for an immediate lawsuit against Ukraine. The lawsuit will be filed in the British court [London Court of International Arbitration],” the statement said.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov stressed that Russian will still be willing to work with Ukraine to solve the problem, even after the lawsuit is filed.

Russia has always been willing to consider options to assist Ukraine in line with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] program. Russia intends to carefully examine any significant offer from Ukraine, but also believes that the court proceedings do not preclude a constructive dialogue in order to reach an acceptable settlement of the debt,” the statement read.

Ukraine’s sovereign debt to Russia dates back to a deal between President Vladimir Putin and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich that was struck in 2013 and envisaged Moscow buying $15 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds. Russia bought $3 billion worth on December 20, 2013, and the debt was supposed to be repaid by December 20, 2015.

Earlier in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Finance Ministry to file a lawsuit against Ukraine if Kiev failed to repay Russia’s $3 billion Eurobond loan within the 10-day grace period following the December 20 deadline.

Back in August, Ukraine agreed to a restructuring deal with a creditor committee led by Franklin Templeton (which owns about $7 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds) providing a 20 percent write-down on about $18 billion worth of Eurobonds.

Russia refused to participate in the debt restructuring, claiming its bond purchase was a state loan, not a commercial one.

In November, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a three-year restructuring plan for Kiev’s debt, provided that loan guarantees were made by the US, the EU or the International Monetary Fund. Under that offer, Russia would have forgone payment in 2015 and Kiev would have repaid $1 billion a year for the next three years.

The deal fell through, however, as Ukraine’s Western backers were unwilling to provide such guarantees.

We have one generation to save our cities, global engineering firm warns

Combined challenge of climate change and population growth puts premium on rapid urbanisation ‘in a way that’s not going to kill us’, says head of Arup

Decembewr 31, 2015

by Sam Jones

The Guardian

Cities around the world have only one generation to meet the twin challenges of climate change and a rapidly growing urban population, the head of a global engineering firm has warned.

Gregory Hodkinson, chairman of the Arup group, said that with more than half the world’s population already living in cities, and the proportion set to rise to 70% by 2050, city leaders need to take urgent action.

The big challenge – apart from the obvious humanitarian one of trying to build these [cities] fast enough to provide the real basics of shelter and essential utilities – is doing all those things and doing them in a low-carbon way,” he said.

If we don’t, in my view, we’re screwed: my children and my grandchildren and everybody else’s children. We need to find a way to do this rapid urbanisation in a way that’s not going to kill us – and to do it once.”

Cities, said Hodkinson, tend to rebuild themselves slowly, meaning there is huge pressure on planners to ensure that the urban areas of the coming decades are as clean and sustainable as possible.

Once they’re there, they’re there for a long time,” he said. “And we’ve got one generation, so whatever we’re doing now, we’d better be doing it with that in mind.”

Hodkinson, a former trustee of WaterAid who also works with the World Economic Forum on developing sustainable and resilient cities, said that although most of the urban population growth will take place in Africa and Asia, all cities share similar concerns: housing, crime and infrastructure.

Putting aside the question of funding, probably every mayor or city leader in the world would have those things at the top of the list,” he said.

It could be a question of emergency housing for conflict-driven migration or we could be talking about how can you have teachers and nurses and policemen in London when nobody can afford to live here? It’s a question of degree, but the same issues are there in every city.”

Despite the scale of the challenge, Hodkinson said he has been heartened by the progress made in some rapidly evolving Chinese cities – and by what he saw at the recent climate change conference in Paris.

He said the mood in Paris was noticeably different to that at the Copenhagen summit six years earlier, adding that the representations made by about 400 mayors – who, between them, speak for perhaps 20% of the world’s population – show just how strong the clamour for action has become.

The mayor of Paris was there and [the mayor of London] Boris Johnson was there and the range of mayors was enormous,” he said.

But they all said in one voice: ‘We need to do something on reducing emissions, changing our energy sources and investing in climate resilience’. It was really great to hear and you’ve got to be optimistic because the other option is not very attractive. I came away optimistic that there would be a renewed effort to put our city development on to a more sustainable path. It can be done. Will it be done? We’ll see.”

Erdogan vows no respite in Turkey’s war on Kurdish militants

December 31, 2015

by Nick Tattersall and Melih Aslan


Istanbul-Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday vowed no let-up in a military campaign which he said had killed more than 3,000 mostly Kurdish militants this year in some of the heaviest fighting since their insurgency began three decades ago.

In a New Year statement, Erdogan said Turkey had “the resources and determination” to deal with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which first took up arms in 1984 to push for greater autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast.

The violence has preoccupied the NATO member’s armed forces and complicated international efforts to fight Islamic State in neighboring Syria, where a Kurdish group linked to the PKK is fighting the jihadists. Western allies want Turkey to focus more squarely on the threat from Islamic State.

“Our security forces are continuing to cleanse every place of terrorists, in the mountains and in the cities, and will continue to do so,” Erdogan said, referring to the PKK.

Turkey launched what it dubbed a “synchronized war on terror” in July, meant to include a campaign against Islamic State in Syria as well as Kurdish militants at home. But it has overwhelmingly concentrated its efforts on the PKK.

Southeastern Turkey has plunged back into some of its worst violence since the 1990s after a two-year ceasefire between the PKK – designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union – and the state collapsed in July.

Warplanes have bombed PKK camps in southeastern Turkey and across the border in the mountains of northern Iraq, while thousands of troops backed by tanks have in recent weeks pressed a campaign within Turkey to flush out militants on the ground.


Erdogan said 3,100 militants had been killed by the Turkish military in and outside the country since the start of 2015, which would be one of the highest rates of attrition for years.

Since the PKK launched its insurgency, fighting has been largely in the countryside, but the latest violence has focused on urban areas, where the PKK youth wing has set up barricades and dug trenches to keep security forces out.

Residents in towns such as Cizre and Silopi, which have been rocked by explosions and gunfire in recent weeks, have complained that the military operations are indiscriminate and that round-the-clock curfews have left even the sick unable to get to hospitals.

The violence has also hit once-thriving cross-border trade. The UND transporters’ association said on Thursday around 10,000 truck drivers were stuck on the Iraqi side of the border because of the security concerns in Silopi and Cizre.

In apparent reference to a row with Baghdad over the deployment of Turkish troops to northern Iraq, Erdogan said Turkey had no territorial ambitions in any other country and did not question the sovereignty of its neighbors.

Iraq’s prime minister accused Turkey on Wednesday of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troops from the north and its foreign minister said if forced, Iraq could resort to military action to defend its sovereignty.

The diplomatic dispute flared after Turkey deployed a force protection unit of around 150 troops earlier this month, citing heightened security risks near a military base where its troops were training an Iraqi militia to fight Islamic State.

“We just want people who are historically and culturally our brothers to live in peace and security,” Erdogan said.

Additional reporting by Ceyda Caglayan in Istanbul; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Erdoğan cites Hitler’s Germany as example of effective government

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing to change his ceremonial role to chief executive as in US and Russia

January 1, 2016

The Guardian

Turkey’s president has been pushing for some time for a new presidential system to govern the country, sparring with critics who accuse him of attempting a power grab.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s latest comments in favour of greater executive powers are unlikely to help him bring those critics round. On Friday he was quoted by Turkish media as citing a striking example of an effective presidential system – Germany under Adolf Hitler.

Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, he said: “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.

There are later examples in various other countries,” he told reporters, according to a recording broadcast by the Dogan news agency and reported by Reuters.

A Turkish official sought to clarify Erdoğan’s remark. “There are good and poor examples of presidential systems and the important thing is to put checks and balances in place,” he said. “Nazi Germany, lacking proper institutional arrangements, was obviously one of the most disgraceful examples in history.”

Erdoğan wants to change the constitution to turn the ceremonial role of president into that of a chief executive, a Turkish version of the system in the US, France and Russia.

The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which he founded, has put a new constitution at the heart of its agenda after winning back a majority in parliamentary elections in November.

It reached agreement with the main opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) on Wednesday to revive efforts to forge a new constitution.

Opposition parties agree on the need to change the constitution, drawn up after a 1980 coup and still bearing the stamp of its military authors, but they do not back the presidential system Erdoğan, fearing it would consolidate too much power in the hands of an authoritarian leader.

Russia Expands Sanctions Against Turkey After Downing of Jet

December 30, 2015

by Andrew E. Kramer

New York Times

MOSCOW — Russia broadened its sanctions against Turkey on Wednesday to bar new Turkish construction and curb tourism activities in Russia, an expansion of measures put in place last month after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane under disputed circumstances.

Turkish construction companies working on skyscrapers, soccer stadiums and other projects in Russia can continue, but Turkish businesses will be prohibited from signing new contracts after Jan. 1.

The exemption for all current contracts seemed to reflect that the Russians will go only so far in limiting Turkey’s  activities here for fear of being left with no roofs over their heads.

Turkish companies are participating in all aspects of Russia’s infrastructure development, including the construction of stadiums for the 2018 World Cup soccer championship. In fact, it was a Turkish firm that in the 1990s refurbished the very government building where the Russian cabinet met this week to adopt the new sanctions.

The new restrictions prohibit firms owned or based in Turkey from “activities in architecture, engineering, technical testing” of buildings. The expanded sanctions also prohibit Turkish citizens or companies from operating tourism agencies in Russia. Turkey is a popular destination for Russian tourists.

The ban is the latest in Russia’s escalating trade disputes with countries it is at odds with on foreign policy, which include members of the European Union and former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine.

After Turkey shot down a Russian jet in November, asserting it had crossed into Turkish airspace from Syria, President Vladimir V. Putin canceled energy projects, banned fruit and vegetable imports and hinted at more retribution to come.

We shall remind them many a time what they have done and they will more than once feel regret for what they have done,” Mr. Putin said this month in an address to Parliament.

On Dec. 9, Russia’s state nuclear company, Rosatom, suspended work on a $20 billion nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, Turkey.

Russia is the largest market for Turkish exports after Germany, with about $6 billion worth of goods in 2014, or 4 percent of all exports. And it was the biggest source of Turkish imports in 2014, with $25 billion or 10 percent of total goods, according to an analysis by Renaissance Capital.

The Anglo connection: Why do so many Jewish terrorists come from the English-speaking world?

From the suspects in the Duma arson case to the revelers in the ‘wedding of hate,’ the ranks of Jewish extremist groups are filled with immigrants from the U.S. and other English speaking countries.

December. 31, 2015

by Judy Maltz   


At the Petach Tikva Magistrate Court, where some of the key suspects in the latest wave of Jewish terror activity were having their remands extended this week, concerned family members huddled in the hallways while hearings were held behind closed doors.

A passerby paying close attention could not help but take note of the preponderance of English being spoken. And when not English, then American-accented Hebrew.

Is it pure coincidence that a disproportionate number of those taken into custody in the latest crackdown on Jewish extremism in Israel, as well as those cheering them on, are children of immigrants from English-speaking countries or immigrants who hold dual citizenship?

Take the fact that at least one of the key suspects in the arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family in July has an American parent and holds dual citizenship.

This 17-year-old, whose name has been barred from publication, grew up in the West Bank settlement of Tsofim. Another minor suspected of direct involvement in that attack is also reported to hold U.S. citizenship.

Take, for example, the fact that three other Jewish-Israeli terror suspects being held in administrative detention since the summer, even though they are not directly connected to the Duma attack, also hold dual citizenship. The most famous in the group is Meir Ettinger, the grandson of American-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose mother immigrated to Israel from the United States and who grew up in the settlement of Tapuach, a bastion of right-wing extremism. (The racist Kach movement, founded by Kahane, is outlawed in Israel). The other two are Mordechai Meyer, the child of American immigrants from Ma’aleh Adumim, a large, relatively moderate settlement outside of Jerusalem; and Evyatar Slonim, whose parents are Australian.

Finally, this week, another English-speaker – this one caught dancing with a weapon in a controversial wedding clip celebrating the Duma attack – was detained by security forces.

He is Daniel Pinner, a 50-year-old settler from the settlement of Tapuah, who immigrated to Israel from Britain many years ago.

And he was not the only English-speaker celebrating at that infamous wedding, where participants were caught on camera dancing with knives and guns, as one slashed a photo of the dead Dawabsheh baby. The bride, Roni Goldberg, is the daughter of American-born Lenny Goldberg, a former Kahane aide and author of “The Wit and Wisdom of Rabbi Meir Kahane.”

Here’s what Goldberg had to say this week in a column he published on the settler-run Arutz Sheva news service: “Not only don’t I care about Duma, neither do the left or the Shin Bet.

It’s just a good excuse for them to harass and torture the hilltop youth they so despise for the Judaism that they represent,” he wrote, referring to the rogue group of youths who engage in illegal settlement activities. 

When another daughter of his, barely a teenager then, sat in jail 10 years ago for blocking roads to protest the Gaza disengagement, he could hardly contain his pride. Back then he wrote on that same website: “Obviously, I am not a distraught parent over this. I’m pleased that she is occupied with this, and not with the trivial issues that concern most teenagers. I’ve educated them all their lives about the need for self-sacrifice for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel — all, of course, in the comfort of our living room, or over a cholent on Shabbat. To behave as a worried Jewish mother/father now would be the most hypocritical thing of all. It would make a lie of all that I had preached. Besides, I feel guilty that I’m not doing it, so my kids might as well.”

Laura Wharton, an American-born political scientist who represents the left-wing Meretz party on the Jerusalem city council, is not surprised by the large number of children of English-speaking families among the terror suspects, noting that immigrants from these countries tend to be highly ideologically motivated, and are more likely to have radical extremists among their ranks. “I think in general people who immigrate to Israel from English-speaking countries, in fact from all wealthy countries, need a stronger incentive to make the move,” she says. “They also want to make their mark when they come here, for better or for worse.”

Sara Yael Hirschhorn, who has spent many years studying American immigrants living in the West Bank, believes the radicalism could reflect a failure to integrate smoothly into Israeli society. “I think it has to do with the fact that these people are not assimilated in the way that their native Israeli or perhaps other immigrant peers have managed to be,” she observes.

In some cases, she says, these teens may be acting out against their parents for not doing enough to make their mark on Israeli society. “It could be a rebellion against parents they thought had come to do some great ideological pioneering, but instead, turned out to be average suburbanites in places like Ma’aleh Adumim,” notes Hirschhorn, who serves as the University Research Lecturer and Sidney Brichto Fellow in Israel Studies at the University of Oxford.

The author of the upcoming book “City on a Hilltop: Jewish-American Settlers in the Occupied Territories Since 1967,” Hirschhorn has concluded that roughly 60,000 American Jews live in West Bank settlements, where they account for 15 percent of the settler population.

The number of American immigrants living in Israel, including their children, has been estimated at about 170,000.

This is not the first time that U.S. citizens have been associated with or convicted of carrying out terror activities in Israel. In 1994, Brooklyn-born Baruch Goldstein, a physician from Kiryat Arba, massacred 29 Palestinians while they were worshipping in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Yaakov Teitel, originally from Florida, has been convicted of various acts of terrorism and hate crimes against Palestinians, homosexuals, Messianic Jews and left-wingers. Boston-born Baruch Marzel, a Kahane disciple, has a criminal record that includes assaults on Palestinians, policemen and left-wingers. Former New Yorker Ira Rappaport, a member of the Jewish Underground that emerged in the 1980s, was found guilty of involvement in a car bombing that left the former mayor of Nablus maimed.

Already back then, American immigrants had acquired a reputation as potential extremists.

Chaim Waxman, a retired professor of sociology and Jewish studies at Rutgers University, who has published extensively on immigration to Israel from the United States, recalls teaching a course at Tel Aviv University in the 1980s when reports about the Jewish Underground first started surfacing.  “I remember the students talking about those ‘crazy Americans,’ even though only one member of the Underground was an American,” he recounts. “But that is an impression that many Israelis have.”

Pharma Exec for Maker of $150,000 Cancer Drug Tells Investors Its Pricing Is “Very Responsible

December 30, 2015

by Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

A top official at pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson dismissed questions on a recent earnings call about the drug price reform debate in Washington, saying that the company is “responsible” in its pricing.

As part of the question and answer period during the company’s third quarter earnings call in October, one questioner asked Johnson & Johnson Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso where he sees the drug pricing reform debate in Washington going and if the company was planning a pledge, similar to one made by many firms in the 1990s, to not raise drug prices beyond the cost of inflation.

Despite significant media attention on drug pricing, there really isn’t a consensus on policy solutions that would lower prices without negatively lowering innovation,” Caruso said.

After recalling the industry’s collaboration on the Affordable Care Act, Caruso then told the questioner that the “real answer to this dilemma is to monitor and provide outcome-based metrics and not simply focus only on price.”

Finally, Caruso, in response to a question about the industry voluntarily restraining the prices of its own drugs, explained that he would rather focus on justifying the current prices of drugs. “I think we’re very responsible in our drug pricing. And we tend to support the price of our drugs with strong economic data,” he said. “So rather than pledge to a particular number I think it’s important that we continue to develop robust data that provides a solid foundation for the value that our products provide the health care system.”

Johnson & Johnson’s justification for their prescription drug prices are outrageous,” Vijay Das, a health care advocate at Public Citizen, told The Intercept in response to Caruso’s comments to investors. “Sick patients and taxpayers are held hostage in order for the drug maker to extract extreme profits.”

Das pointed to investor documents Johnson & Johnson uploaded that show the company spent 12.6 percent of its total sales in research and development, compared to 26.6 percent it spent on selling, marketing, and administrative expenses. This means the company was spending twice as much on marketing and sales as on actually developing the drugs.

Johnson & Johnson has gained notoriety for the high cost of its drugs. For example, it produces and markets the cancer drug Imbruvica, which retails at around $9,550 for one bottle of 90 capsules. Dosage is four capsules a day, meaning one bottle will be a 22-and-a-half-day supply.

At this average price, a full-year supply would cost $154,922.

Another drug it produces, Olysio, is used to treat Hepatitis C. This drug retails at around $22,000 on the low end for around a month’s supply (see daily dosing here). Altogether, that equals $264,000 for an annual supply.

Hepatitis C treatment costs are forcing state governments to consider rationing care for their Medicaid and prison rolls,” said Das. “Instead of simply charging less, this industry is outdoing itself every year, extracting huge profits at the expense of our poor and sick.”

IRS sent out $46 million in tax refunds flagged as potentially fraudulent, watchdog says

December 23, 2015

by Lisa Rein

Washington Post

The Internal Revenue Service erroneously released more than $46 million in tax refunds in 2013 that had been flagged as potentially fraudulent, the result of poor monitoring and a computer programming error, the agency’s watchdog found.

The returns had been identified as questionable by two internal teams and should have been set aside for further review. But the IRS software system did the opposite, accidentally setting things in motion so that refunds were released to taxpayers, an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosed this week.

The mistake allowed $27 million in refunds to be wrongly released to 13,043 taxpayers for tax year 2013. Auditors found another 3,910 “potentially fraudulent” returns for the same year that the IRS had marked for review, but which tax examiners had left unverified, costing the agency another $19 million.

The inspector general said the programming error alone could allow the IRS to issue $135 million in potentially erroneous refunds over five years.

The error overrode the agency’s two-week processing delay on potentially fraudulent tax return refunds, according to the report, removing the hold and allowing the suspicious refund to be disbursed before the IRS could compete its verification.

IRS officials apparently failed to catch the glitch because they were not aggressively monitoring timelines for reviewing tax returns.

Inspector General J. Russell George’s office launched its audit after an IRS employee alerted the office that the agency was not examining cases to ensure that erroneous refunds were not being issued.

The watchdog recommended that the IRS fix the computer glitch and start periodic testing to make sure suspicious returns are verified in a timely way.

The agency agreed to all the recommendations. But officials could not commit to a date to put the programming fixes in place, citing budget constraints, limited resources, and competing priorities.

The implementation of such programming changes are subject to budgetary constraints, limited resources, and competing priorities,” IRS officials told the inspector general, according to the audit. “Consequently, and due solely to those constraints, the IRS cannot provide an implementation date.”

CLIMATE CHANGE: Himalayan glaciers melting more rapidly


JOHANNESBURG, (IRIN) – The Himalayan glaciers that feed major south Asian rivers like the Indus, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges are melting more rapidly, reveals a major new study which says that soaring global temperatures are not the only reason.

The study, led by Yao Tandong, director of the Institute of Tibetan Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and eminent glaciologist and paleo-climatologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, is the most comprehensive examination so far of the region’s glaciers.

“The status of the glaciers had been a bone of contention,” reported the weekly science journal, Nature, whose sister publication, the peer-reviewed journal, Nature Climate Change, published the study. “Earlier this year, an analysis of 7 years’ worth of measurements, taken by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, suggested that high-altitude Asian glaciers on the whole are losing ice only one-tenth as fast as previously estimated, and that glaciers on the Tibetan plateau are actually growing.”

The GRACE mission is a joint partnership between the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Germany.

“Since a number of papers… have been published, based on a seven-year GRACE data set, it was important to look at the longer-term retreat story, as climate is generally considered a 30-year average of the weather,” Thompson said in an email to IRIN.

The scientists studied 30 years of data from the field, and satellite and weather records to examine the retreat of 82 glaciers, the area reduction of 7,090 glaciers, and mass-balance change – the difference between the accumulation and loss of ice of 15 glaciers in the seven larger regions of the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau and the Pamir Mountains. Glaciers in this region give birth to major rivers across Southeast Asia and the Far East, from the Ganges to the Mekong, the Yellow and the Yangtze, which provide water to 20 percent of the world’s population.

“For the glaciers studied, approximately nine percent of the area of ice that was present in the early 1970s had disappeared by the early 2000s. Where we had decadal information, we could show that the rate of retreat had accelerated,” Thompson said.

“Potential consequences of glacier changes would be unsustainable water supplies from major rivers, and geohazards (glacier-lake expansion, glacier-lake outbursts and flooding), which might threaten the livelihoods and wellbeing of those in the downstream regions,” the study warned.

A sustained glacier retreat would increase the volume of water in rivers and also sediments, which could choke water supply, affecting agriculture.

When glaciers retreat, lakes commonly form behind the newly exposed debris – soil and rock called a moraine – which is carried along by the leading edge of the ice wall. Rapid accumulation of water in these lakes could lead to a sudden breach of the moraine dam, causing a possibly catastrophic glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF).

In the recent past, Nepal alone has been affected by 21 GLOF events, and 200 potentially dangerous glacial lakes have been documented across the Himalayan region.

The Indus

Thompson, the leading authority on high-altitude glaciers in the tropics and near tropics, pointed out that the Naimona’nyi glacier, which feeds the Indus River, had shrunk by 155m within the 30 years from 1976 to 2006, at a rate of about five metres per year. He and his colleagues drilled ice cores from deep within the glacier in 2006. An ice core provides detailed climate records that can extend over hundreds of thousands of years. Wind-blown dust, ash, bubbles of atmospheric gas, and radioactive substances trapped in the layers of ice in each core have provided valuable information on volcanic activity, ocean volumes and the historic impact of climate change.

“We were surprised to find that at 6,050 metres [the height at which the glacier is located] there had been no net accumulation [of ice] since the late 1940s,” he told IRIN. “Also in 2006, we observed cyoconite holes in the glacier all the way to the summit. The holes form when dust accumulates on the surface and absorbs solar radiation, causing melting. The dust actually collects in depressions on the glacier surface and then melts into the glacier. Some of these holes are two metres deep and filled with water, indicating that melting is occurring at the highest elevations of this glacier,” Thompson said.

“It means that the glaciers are wasting much faster than just the loss of area, but they are also wasting from the top down, which means they are losing ice volume rapidly. Thus, we expect to see the area of ice loss to accelerate in the near future if these conditions hold, so it is very hard to predict when the glacier will actually disappear. In this case, the past behaviour of the glacier is not likely a good indicator of the future.”

He noted that “This is significant for water resources in the Indus River, as it is believed that 40 percent of the water discharge in that basin in the dry season comes from melting glaciers. The impact on the other rivers systems is a function of the many glaciers that feed the headwaters of the rivers.”


The study found that the Himalayan glaciers, which are fed by the Indian monsoons, were shrinking more rapidly than those in Pamir Mountains, which were influenced by the westerlies, the prevailing winds. These glaciers gain from winter snow and are less affected by warming, while in the Himalayas it snows during the monsoon season, in summer, and temperature increases can have a dramatic effect.

Rainfall records from the region indicate that the Indian monsoon is getting weaker while the westerlies are strengthening. “Under the present warming conditions, glacier shrinkage might further accelerate in the Himalayas, whereas glaciers might advance in the eastern Pamir regions,” said the study.

Obtaining accurate data is the biggest hurdle in researching the impact of climate change on the region. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has come under fire for citing “grey literature” – a report that has not been peer-reviewed – in a projection of glacier melt in the Himalayas, has highlighted the need for robust evidence.

A number of studies between 1999 and 2001 have backed the link between climate change and glacier melting. A joint study by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a Nepal-based research centre supported by eight governments in the region and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said, “The Himalayan glaciers have retreated by approximately a kilometre since the Little Ice Age [from 1350 to 1900].”


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