TBR News January 29, 2016

Jan 29 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 29, 2016: ”The business in Oregon with the Sovereign Citizens is coming to an end. One of the leaders was shot by the state police when he tried to run down officers at a road block and was ventilated when he reached for a pocket containing a loaded pistol. All this was duly photographed but trust it, very soon the lunatic bloggers will rush into print, claiming the deceased was kneeling down, arms raised as he prayed to Jesus to judge his innocence. Whenever some disaster happens, all across the world, the idiot bloggers concoct weird, irrational and sensational lies to impress the masses with their importance. In many cases, all this does is to vanish like smoke into the atomosphere but very often, false news causes a great deal of trouble for everyone. The government itself, through their blogging connections, often release outrageous pervarications to divert public attention from their misdeeds. And the so-called “social networks” are, more often than not, working for the government and helping censor unwanted news and giving the government agencies insights into the personal lives of the network users.”

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. 85

Date: Friday, May 30, 1997

Commenced: I:11 PM CST

Concluded: 1:35 PM CST


RTC: Gregory, I’m glad you called. I wanted to warn you about some picture you are supposed to have with Mueller and Harry in it. Does this ring a bell with you? GD: Yes it does. A U.S. Signal Corps photo of Harry, Mueller, Beetle Smith and some other type in the Oval Office. Came out of the Truman Library in Missouri some time ago and landed in my mail box. Very clear shot of Mueller, standing on the left of Harry’s desk, Harry in the middle smiling up to the right while he’s looking right at Smith. No question it’s Mueller. Picture is identified, with names,  on the reverse and has the Signal Corp stamps, dates and all that.

RTC: Ah, yes, that explains everything. Do not even admit having this, Gregory or you will have burglars visiting you the next time you go to the movies. They do not know what name Mueller used when he came to this country and until they do, they cannot cleanse the files of any reference to him.

GD: I beat them to that one, Robert. I had Zachery write off to the Army records center at Springfield and get copies, stamped copies, of the records of four general officers. One of these was Mueller. The three I tossed but I kept Heini’s file. Picture and all. That’s what the violators of deceased prostitutes are after. You told me that they didn’t know the name. What assholes. They run around bleating that I am a liar while under cover, they try to remove any proof that the head of the German Gestapo not only survived the war but lived, and worked, in Washington and even entertained the President of the United States at dinner once.

RTC: Oh, be very careful with things like that. If the left wingers or the loony Hebrews find out about that, they will wail and raise a terrible fuss. Our press people will have a good deal of extra work with that one. Naturally, they will all lie and Jim will call me up and rant for two hours. If Mr. Bender puts it into one of his books, believe me, his warehouse full of the books will have a tragic fire.

GD: I should put out the word that some vicious paranoid keeps the pictures in their home and then tip him off that bad people are going to break into his house, murder him and kill his children, or his cat, whichever.

RTC: You’ve done that sort of thing before, as I recall.

GD: I have indeed and enjoyed every minute of it. My God, Robert, these people are so stupid they couldn’t find either end of themselves in a dark room. If I had a dollar for every telephone call I got from some obscure professor of history at an academy for the chronically incontinent, telling me how much he enjoyed the Mueller book, asking me if I had any of the documents I mentioned and wondering if he and his friend Bruce can visit me and show me all of their newly discovered Mueller documents. I mean they must think I’m some kind of an idiot. Oh no, I would never let Professor Crotchrott into my house or his friend Bruce either. When you act all  pleased and start grilling the fake professor about Mueller, you find out he knows nothing at all about him. Can’t they even brief him properly? I could do a better job dead drunk. I seriously wonder what these pin heads did before they went into government service. I imagine deodorizing dead dogs or changing loaded diapers at a nursing home across the street from the tenement house they reside in, sharing a soaked mattress with two winos and a dead fat woman.

RTC: (Laughter) Gregory, you are not at all a nice person.

GD: Oh, I’ve known that for years but oddly enough, people with real character and brains like Mueller and others all seem to like me a good deal. We all have a community of interest I guess. There stand the sheep, huddled in one corner of the pens and there we stand, wondering which one of us jumps the fence first and starts munching. Leg of lamb, throat of lamb, whatever. I guess that’s why I love wolves so much. We have so much in common. I recall once when I wrote an intelligence report that took me an entire weekend to do up right. Some fucking Brigadier read it and threw it into the trash because it didn’t support his feeble-minded theories. I was right, of course, and there was terrible trouble when my thesis was proven right. I was told to keep my mouth shut but I didn’t and eventually he got transferred to Manila where he could watch the natives there eat stewed monkey. Of course we know in their case it’s a clear cut case of cannibalism but what the hell…

RTC: My God, Gregory, do not speak to me of Filipinos. I had to deal with some of them once and you are dead on. I think monkeys are smarter. I know they are better looking.

GD: And their females do not have green eye shadow and purple lipstick on their flat pans. Well, enough rude racial remarks for the day. I also have Mueller’s pilot’s license, his Virginia driver’s license, his CIA pass, all expired but all with pictures.

RTC: But do not tell Kimmel about these or for a certainty, you would have a black bag job or someone would invite you to lecture in Washington and you would never be heard from again.

GD: Ah, they would take me out on a small boat, tie an old cash register to my legs, shoot me in the head and toss me into the backwaters of the Potomac. And the alert and highly intelligent local police would call it a certain suicide.

RTC: You are making cruel references to Paisley.

GD: Actually, I am. Very perceptive. Most suicides do shoot themselves in the back of the head, Robert. I understand he was a bloated rotting mess when they found him. We used to get floaters when I was doing pathology work. They stank so badly and parts kept falling off onto the floor that we would freeze them before cutting them up. Well, my name is not Smith and I will not go to Washington. They can come to see me sometime.

RTC: Would you welcome them with open arms, Gregory?

GD: No, loaded ones, Robert.


(Concluded at 1:35 PM CST)


New docs confirm CIA had rendition flight lurking in Europe to catch Snowden

January 28, 2016


A Danish news website has published documents backing up the allegations that in June 2013 a US plane with a connection to CIA black site programs was on call in Copenhagen ready to snatch NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as he was stranded in Moscow.

The story of the private aircraft, a Gulfstream V with registration number N977GA, was first reported by The Register in June 2014. The plane previously used by the American intelligence to secretly transport terror subjects to clandestine detention facilities in Europe, flew from Washington, DC over Scotland to Copenhagen, the report said.

In August 2015, the Danish news website Denfri.dk filed a number of Freedom of Information requests to the government in Copenhagen, seeking the disclosure of documents concerning the alleged involvement of Denmark in a plot to arrest and extradite Snowden. On Sunday, it reported that after lengthy deliberation, it had acquired new evidence that substantiated the claim.

Among the documents published by Denfri.dk are permission for the overflight and landing of the plane, which warns that it should be operated exclusively for “state purposes of [a] non-commercial nature,” and talking points for the Transport Ministry should journalists ask about the plane.

There is also a batch of heavily redacted emails indicating communications between senior officials in Denmark’s police, Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry, including Anders Herping Nielsen, a chief
consultant of the Justice Ministry’s international office and its former deputy head, whose responsibility it is to decide on the extradition of people for trial in other countries.

The content of these emails is mostly blacked out.

Denmark’s relationship with the USA would be damaged if the information becomes public knowledge,” the Justice Ministry wrote in its reply to Denfri.dk, commenting on reasons for the heavy redacting.

However, Denfri.dk managed to confirm that the US was granted permission to fly over as well as to land on Danish territory by “the civil registered aircraft registration N977GA or substitute.”

The investigative website also confirmed that the aircraft used Danish airspace and landed in the Copenhagen airport, basing its evidence on the obtained documents.

The Danish Justice Ministry refused to disclose any documents related to the US requesting Danish police to arrest and extradite Snowden if he set foot in the country.

However, Denfri.dk published a similar letter from the US to the Norwegian Criminal Investigation Service, which was initially reported by the Norwegian media in August. In this letter, the FBI requested the corresponding services in Norway “immediately notify the necessary and applicable agencies… in the event that Snowden should board a flight from Moscow to one of your respective countries [Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland] for either transit purposes or as a final destination.”

The letter also indicates that a similar request was filed with the Danish police.

Snowden is a former NSA employee who was responsible for the largest leak of US classified documents in recent history. In 2013, he exposed the agency’s secret electronic surveillance program to journalists.

As the US was seeking his arrest and prosecution, he was left stranded in Moscow en route from Hong Kong after his passport was revoked by US authorities. Russia eventually granted him political asylum, a move that contributed to the lengthy list of incidents that have worsened relations between Moscow and Washington.

The whistleblower remains a controversial figure worldwide. Many see him as a champion of human rights and a hero, while others have labeled him a traitor and a glory hound. Since receiving asylum in Moscow, Snowden has been living in relative obscurity, only occasionally participating in privacy advocacy events via a video linkup.


Sweden sends sharp signal with plan to expel up to 80,000 asylum seekers

Move is another message to refugees that Sweden’s warm welcome has cooled as many now face being forcibly ejected

January 28, 2016

by David Crouch

The Guardian

Sweden is to reject up to 80,000 people who applied for asylum in the country last year, as many as half of whom will be forced to leave against their will, according to official estimates.

The interior ministry has called on police and migration authorities to prepare for a sharp increase in deportations, and to arrange charter flights to expel refused asylum seekers to their country of origin. Sweden is also approaching other EU countries, including Germany, to discuss cooperation to increase efficiency and make sure flights are filled to capacity, it said.

On Thursday Finland’s interior minister said Helsinki also intended to expel about 20,000 of the 32,000 asylum seekers it received in 2015. “In principle we speak of about two-thirds, meaning approximately 65 percent of the 32,000 will get a negative decision (to their asylum application),” Paivi Nerg, the ministry’s administrative director, told Agence France-Presse.

Sweden received more than 160,000 asylum applications last year – by far the biggest influx in the EU as a proportion of the population. Between 60,000 and 80,000 of them will be rejected, the interior minister, Anders Ygeman, told Swedish media on Thursday.

The revelation that a large proportion of asylum seekers will be turned down, and as many as half of failed applications will be forcibly ejected, sends another signal to refugees that Sweden is no longer extending the warm welcome it offered to them just a few months ago

Of course it is a way of saying that if you come here and don’t have a case for asylum, then you won’t be able to stay,” said Victor Harju, spokesperson for Ygeman. “You can seek asylum in Europe but there are a lot of safe countries where you won’t be troubled by war and persecution, so you don’t necessarily have to end up in Sweden.”Other Scandinavian countries are stepping up their attempts to broadcast to the war-torn regions of the world that they are no longer an attractive destination for refugees. Norway last week began deporting asylum seekers to Russia through the Arctic, while Denmark’s new law enabling police to confiscate cash and valuables from refugees has drawn sharp international criticism.

Sweden started to introduce border controls in November to stem the number of asylum seekers arriving there, which was running at 10,000 each week. In January it made it impossible for refugees to cross the bridge linking Sweden with Denmark unless they could show a passport or driving licence, since when the numbers are down to about 800 a week.

If it stays at these levels we expect 45,000 applications in 2016 – still a very high number, but manageable,” Harju said.

Last year Sweden turned down some 20,000 asylum applicants, or 45% of those who had previously arrived and made claims. About 3,000 were deported with a further 7,000 who were handed over to police disappearing from the immigration system and avoiding expulsion.

The remaining 10,000 people whose applications were rejected left the country of their own accord, the justice ministry said.

The overall approval rate may increase in 2016, the immigration ministry said, as the record 160,000 who put in asylum requests in 2015 included more citizens of Afghanistan and Syria, for whom it is easier to obtain refugee status than for other groups.

Syrians used to receive an automatic right to permanent residency, but this was removed late last year, to be replaced by temporary residence of up to three years. However, it does not affect the way asylum applications are treated, according to the ministry.

The backlog of asylum applications in the system means it will take up to two years for all the cases to be decided among 2015 applicants, the ministry said. The migration board is still dealing with applications from 2014, with the average processing time at more than eight months.

The border police said it was “vigorously expanding” its activities and aiming to double police numbers in the next few years to cope with the task of returning refused asylum seekers, and to deal with the “significant risk” of people going underground to escape deportation.

What the government has done is acknowledge that the issue of returning nationals to their country of origin is going to be a big task because of the high numbers,” according to Jonatan Holst, a spokesperson for the immigration ministry.

Sanna Vestin, chair of FARR, the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, said: “We are very concerned that in this situation the government will play down proper procedure and rights just to get rid of them. We have already had a suggestion to end the right to appeal – the courts uphold the appeals in around 10% of cases.”

She added: “It would be better if the government saw refugees as an investment in society’s future, rather than a burden. We have a very good economy, in part because of having many immigrants.”


FBI releases video of shooting death of Oregon protester

January 29, 2016


The FBI has released a video from the Tuesday traffic stop that led to the shooting death of one of the armed protesters who had been occupying the headquarters of a federal wildlife preserve in Oregon.

The video is intended to counteract some of the contradictory accounts of what happened and give an unfiltered view of the incident, which ended with the death of rancher LaVoy Finicum.

Some accounts have argued that Finicum was surrendering to police with his hands up before he was shot, while another stated he was on his knees. Law enforcement has claimed he was refusing to surrender.

The FBI said the video was shot from overhead by a plane following the protesters’ vehicles – a white truck in front, and a jeep in back. Authorities said the operation lasted more than 25 minutes, but the edited eight-minute video shows the most pertinent moments.

An unedited video showcasing the entire event was also released online.

The FBI said viewing the video will be upsetting to some people, but “we feel that it is necessary to show the whole thing unedited in the interest of transparency.”

The footage picks up a few seconds before the FBI and Oregon State Police vehicles pull in behind the jeep, the second vehicle in line. The jeep quickly pulls to a stop while the white truck, driven by LaVoy Finicum, continues some distance up the road. Some law enforcement vehicles stay with the jeep while others continue following the white truck.

Out of view of the camera, the following people exit the jeep without incident: the driver, who was not named or charged; Ammon Bundy, the leader of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building; and protester Brian Cavalier.

About four minutes into
the video, Ryan Payne exits through a back door of the white truck. In the lower right hand corner of the video, he can be seen with his hands up, being approached by law enforcement officers, and being taken into custody, the FBI said.

For over three minutes, the white truck sits on the road. The FBI edited the time in the excerpted version, but said agents and troopers were telling the occupants to surrender.

The white truck is then seen leaving the scene at a high rate of speed. It travels some distance, quickly approaching a law enforcement blockade on the roadway.

As the white truck approaches the roadblock, there is a spike strip across the road, but it appears Finicum missed it as he attempted to drive around the roadblock,” said the FBI. “He nearly hits an FBI agent as he maneuvers to the left. The truck gets stuck in the snowbank.”

At this point, Finicum is seen leaving the truck and stepping through the snow. Agents and troopers were told that Finicum and others would be armed, the FBI said.

On at least two occasions, Finicum reached toward the inner left pocket of his jacket with his right hand. “Finicum did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket,” the FBI stated

Then Oregon State Police troopers shot Finicum.

The FBI said approximately 30 seconds after the shooting, law enforcement officers deployed flash bangs to disorient any other armed occupants. They then fired sponge projectiles with OC capsules (similar to pepper spray). Agents and troopers arrested the remaining truck occupants and took them into custody over several minutes. Those arrested included Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, and another woman who was not arrested and is not named.


Exclusive: EgyptAir mechanic suspected in Russian plane crash

January 29, 2016


London-An EgyptAir mechanic whose cousin joined Islamic State in Syria is suspected of planting a bomb on a Russian passenger plane that was blown out of Egypt’s skies in late October, according to sources familiar with the matter.

So far Egypt has publicly said it has found no evidence that the MetroJet flight, which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, killing all 224 people on board, was brought down by terrorism.

A senior security official at the airline denied that any of its employees had been arrested or were under suspicion, and an Interior Ministry official also said there had been no arrests.

But the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation, said the mechanic had been detained, along with two airport policemen and a baggage handler suspected of helping him put the bomb on board.

“After learning that one of its members had a relative that worked at the airport, Islamic State delivered a bomb in a handbag to that person,” said one of the sources, adding the suspect’s cousin joined Islamic State in Syria a year and a half ago.

“He was told to not ask any questions and get the bomb on the plane.”

Another source said of the other suspects: “Two policemen are suspected of playing a role by turning a blind eye to the operation at a security checkpoint. But there is a possibility that they were just not doing their jobs properly.”

None of the four have been prosecuted so far, the sources told Reuters.

The crash has called into question Egypt’s drive to eradicate Islamist militancy and hurt its tourism industry, a cornerstone of the economy. Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate is waging an insurgency in parts of the Sinai, although mostly far from the tourist resorts along its Red Sea coast.

Russia and Western countries have long said that they believe the flight was brought down by a bomb smuggled on board. Egypt however has so far publicly said it has not found any evidence of foul play.

Any formal charges or official Egyptian confirmation that a bomb brought down the Airbus A321 could potentially expose Egypt to compensation payments to the families of the victims.

The EgyptAir senior security official said state security police had investigated all workers at Sharm el-Sheikh airport without finding any evidence implicating any of them.

The official said state security traced the family connections of all the employees and they were cleared.

Any employee who shows sympathy to militants is prevented from going to work in any airport,” he told Reuters.

An Interior Ministry source also said no one had been arrested in connection with the crash.

“We are awaiting results of the investigation.”

Islamic State’s online magazine carried a photo of a Schweppes soft drink can it said was used to make an improvised bomb that brought down the Russian airliner.

The photo showed a can of Schweppes Gold soft drink and what appeared to be a detonator and switch on a blue background, three simple components that if genuine are likely to cause concern for airline safety officials worldwide.

(Editing by Peter Graff)


How Facebook tracks and profits from voters in a $10bn US election

Social network lets campaigns match profiles with political habits and contact info, as Silicon Valley influence becomes ‘game-changer’ for targeted ads

January 28,2016

by Harry Davis and Danny Yadron

The Guardian

If you lived in north-east Iowa, the evangelical stronghold where the battle for the soul of conservative American politics will play out in person on Monday, and happened to have given Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign your email address sometime in the last few months, you might find something especially appealing this weekend in your Facebook feed.

You might see, amid the family photos, a menacing video of Donald Trump talking about how “my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa”. LIKE ON ABORTION, blares the sponsored ad from Cruz’s deep-pocketed, social media-savvy digital team. And you might wonder how this campaign managed, by paying Facebook, to differentiate between Trump’s “New York values” and “OURS”.

Facebook, which told investors on Wednesday it was “excited about the targeting”, does not let candidates track individual users. But it does now allow presidential campaigns to upload their massive email lists and voter files – which contain political habits, real names, home addresses and phone numbers – to the company’s advertising network. The company will then match real-life voters with their Facebook accounts, which follow individuals as they move across congressional districts and are filled with insightful data.

The data is encrypted and not maintained by Facebook after ads run, the company said. Acxiom, a massive data broker based in Little Rock, Arkansas, helps campaigns upload the voter info. But a campaign operative said the Texas senator has been using Facebook ads to raise money, among other things, and a Guardian analysis shows Cruz-affiliated donors are spending $10,000 per day on Facebook “placement” as the first vote nears.

In Iowa, the Cruz campaign is using Facebook to target voters on a range of broad issues like immigration controls to niche specific causes such as abolishing state laws against the sale of fireworks. The Guardian understands the campaign has built a specific model for this relatively small group of voters, who may be responsive to Cruz ads against big government, and in some cases is going out to find them individually.

Political scientists, current campaign advisors and former digital gurus to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree: a Facebook ad is perhaps the best money to spend in what could be a nearly $10bn election, and 2016 is fast becoming the year Facebook learned to profit from how you vote.

The acceleration of real-time voter targeting reflects a growing consensus that, in addition to knocking down Trump this weekend, campaigns of the future will depend as much on being able to track people across screens and apps as knocking on doors or sending out flyers.

Facebook profiles turned into campaign currency also offer another sign of Silicon Valley’s growing influence in America’s political system. The company in recent years has increased its lobbying efforts in Washington to press immigration, surveillance and patent policy, while doubling its political staff and adding other features to make it easier for campaigns to reach specific voting groups in what Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg this week dubbed “the new town hall”.

Facebook is the easiest and most effective platform,” said Zac Moffatt, the top digital strategist for Romney’s 2012 campaign whose firm, Targeted Victory, has worked with most of the Republican presidential candidates and the Republican National Committee during this election cycle. “They are so much more valuable than they were eight years ago.”

Shaping perceptions, making millions

Campaigns have been using Facebook to talk to voters since 2008, when Obama’s first bid for president famously used the platform to get supporters to push their digital friends to support the upstart senator. In 2012, Facebook began co-sponsoring presidential debates in the Republican primaries.

This time around, as Republicans spend big to catch up on Democrats’ advantage on tech-driven campaigns, Facebook has launched another new feature to help campaigns target politically active users, who might post constantly about Trump’s latest insult or share the increasing poll leads of Bernie Sanders.

Facebook will find users who like lots of political content and share it with their friends, mark them as “political influencers” and allow campaigns to target them specifically. As one of Facebook’s monetization executives explained to Wired after the quiet launch of influencer tracking in November: “People are more likely to trust information that their friends share.”

Cruz’s campaign began using this product immediately after launch. Chris Wilson, the Texas senator’s director of research and analytics, said the campaign had found success in targeting voters in this way. “It can help the message to spread far more quickly than other types of advertising,” he told the Guardian.

Facebook is “playing a key role in shaping the public perception of a candidate definitely more so than in the past”, said Marie Danzig, former deputy digital director for the 2012 Obama campaign and now head of creative and delivery at Blue State Digital, a Democratic campaign group that also works with nonprofits and companies.

Part of the shift, Danzig said, comes from Facebook – long the place where cranky relatives debate politics and politicians ask for “likes” – growing older as “more and more of our grandparents popped up on there”. The presidential race was the most discussed topic on the site in 2015 – the year before voting starts, with the Iowa caucuses on Monday and a slew of primary states thereafter.

In the meantime, Americans in general are spending more time on smartphones and since the last election Facebook has begun serving mobile video ads. In an earnings call last year, Facebook executives said that one of every five minutes Americans spend on smartphones is spent on Facebook.

It remains unclear how much Facebook stands to profit from its role in the election, but political spending on digital ads is expected to exceed $1bn in 2016, up from $159m in 2012, according to research by media analysts at Borrell Associates. Half of online political ad spending in 2016 is expected to go toward social media.

Analysts at Citigroup this fall estimated campaigns will spend about $607m on digital ads during the 2016 cycle, an increase from $145m in the 2012 election. The analysts expect Facebook to edge out Alphabet’s YouTube as the leading recipient of that spending.

Those campaign spending estimates represent a sliver of the $5.6bn in ad sales Facebook reported on Wednesday that it had earned during the last three months of 2015. (The company said 80% – about $4.6bn – came from mobile advertising alone). Facebook does not break out ad spending on politics, and the price per ad is based on a constant auction.

Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer, told investors during a call on Wednesday that “the 2016 election is a big deal in terms of ad spend”, comparing direct political advertising from campaigns and outside groups to the World Cup, the Super Bowl and the Olympics. That ability to target, Sandberg said, was key: “Using Facebook and Instagram ads you can target by congressional district, you can target by interest, you can target by demographics or any combination of those”, she told analysts. “And we’re seeing politicians at all levels really take advantage of that targeting.”Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder and chief executive, said the company was trying to “introduce organic ways the people can interact with businesses” as well as “the politicians – not necessarily ads but organic interactions”.

Sandberg was more specific in connecting organic sharing with targeted advertising: “We think that kind of direct engagement, where people can hold their elected officials accountable and elected officials can speak directly to constituents, is a really important part of our mission.”

Volunteers and operatives from more than a dozen campaigns are busy knocking on doors and blitzing old-fashioned mailboxes this weekend. But perhaps the more effective direct marketing is being done far away from backyards in Iowa.

When Trump dropped out of Thursday’s Republican debate in a boycott of Fox News, Cruz’s digital team turned around an instant meme – Ducking Donald – that went viral, but more importantly provided them with fresh email addresses, which in turn could become more donations and targeted Facebook ads.

The Texas senator told the Guardian in an interview last year that his digital funding and outreach apparatus “is very much the Obama model”, but many Republican campaigns have accepted so-called micro-targeting as the new norm in spending unregulated donations effectively.

While “Facebook ads definitely don’t replace direct mail”, the company’s increasing capabilities to match Facebook profiles against voter databases “allow better targeting and faster turnaround time”, said Marianne Copenhaver, creative director for Kentucky senator Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

Facebook has been a game-changer for our campaign and for the entire electoral process,” she said. “We now have the ability to go live directly to the voters and reach thousands of people instantly.”

Features that target political “influencers” across social media are especially helpful as voters move from one address to another. “Facebook is a tool that travels with you,” said Eitan Hersh, assistant professor in political science at Yale University.

Cruz’s campaign has paid at least $750,000 to a consulting firm with expertise in harvesting psychological data from tens of thousands of Facebook profiles, as the Guardian revealed in December.

Wilson, from the Cruz campaign, said: “[Facebook] is effective because it allows us to reach voters and it’s useful because it allows us to take our message directly to them.” He suggested Facebook ads are less intrusive because, unlike traditional TV ads, people can scroll past them.

He dismissed any suggestion of a discrepancy between Cruz’s past opposition to government bulk surveillance and his use of targeted techniques online. In a telephone interview, Wilson said: “There’s an important difference between what people share voluntarily on social media and what they have no desire to share, like their cellphone metadata.”

On its campaign website, Facebook cites a 2013 study that found $1 can buy 200 ads on its newsfeed compared to two direct mail pieces.

Analysis of federal campaign disclosures shows the Keep the Promise group of Super Pacs, which support Cruz, have poured almost $100,000 into Facebook ads this month. In recent days, its spending with Facebook has intensified to around $10,000 per day for “digital media production/placement”.

Overall, this kind of spending would allow the donor coalition to place an estimated 20m ads across the social network.

The next round of mandatory disclosures is expected to reveal a windfall of digital consulting fees on Sunday, allowing a fuller transparency of how Super Pac funding powers social media targeting to arrive just one day before the Iowa caucuses.

For all the talk of technical wizardry, it remains risky for campaigns to become overly reliant on digital acumen, said Harper Reed, the chief technology officer of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “It’s just more complicated,” Reed said in a recent interview. “It’s so much more about technology than people. Politics are weird-ass nuanced things.”

Additional reporting by Ben Jacobs in Des Moines, Iowa, and Sam Thielman in New York


Spies in the Sky

Israeli Drone Feeds Hacked By British and American Intelligence

January 28, 2016

by Cora Currier and Henrik Moltke

The Intercept

American and British Intelligence secretly tapped into live video feeds from Israeli drones and fighter jets, monitoring military operations in Gaza, watching for a potential strike against Iran, and keeping tabs on the drone technology Israel exports around the world.

Under a classified program code-named “Anarchist,” the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, working with the National Security Agency, systematically targeted Israeli drones from a mountaintop on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. GCHQ files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden include a series of “Anarchist snapshots” — thumbnail images from videos recorded by drone cameras. The files also show location data mapping the flight paths of the aircraft. In essence, U.S. and British agencies stole a bird’s-eye view from the drones.

Several of the snapshots, a subset collected in 2009 and 2010, appear to show drones carrying missiles. Although they are not clear enough to be conclusive, the images offer rare visual evidence to support reports that Israel flies attack drones — an open secret that the Israeli government won’t acknowledge.

There’s a good chance that we are looking at the first images of an armed Israeli drone in the public domain,” said Chris Woods, author of Sudden Justice, a history of drone warfare. “They’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress information on weaponized drones.”

Additionally, in 2012, a GCHQ analyst reported “regular collects of Heron TP carrying weapons,” referring to a giant drone made by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, known as IAI.

Anarchist operated from a Royal Air Force installation in the Troodos Mountains, near Mount Olympus, the highest point on Cyprus. The Troodos site “has long been regarded as a ‘Jewel in the Crown’ by NSA as it offers unique access to the Levant, North Africa, and Turkey,” according to an article from GCHQ’s internal wiki. Last August, The Intercept published a portion of a GCHQ document that revealed that NSA and GCHQ tracked weapons signals from Troodos, and earlier reporting on the Snowden documents indicated that the NSA targeted Israeli drones and an Israeli missile system for tracking, but the details of the operations have not been previously disclosed.

This access is indispensable for maintaining an understanding of Israeli military training and operations and thus an insight to possible future developments in the region,” a GCHQ report from 2008 enthused. “In times of crisis this access is critical and one of the only avenues to provide up to the minute information and support to U.S. and Allied operations in the area.”

GCHQ documents state that analysts first collected encrypted video signals at Troodos in 1998, and also describe efforts against drones used by Syria and by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

A 2009 document notes that “no tip-off exists for Hezbollah UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] activity;” apparently the spies had few signals that they were sure were associated with Hezbollah’s drone program. Another report recounts that Troodos had captured video from an Iranian-made drone flying out of a Syrian air force base in March 2012, resulting in “presidential interest in further samples of the Regime launching attacks upon the general populous [sic],” presumably referring to U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration had first called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down the year before, a few months after his regime began a crackdown on Arab Spring protests. Indeed, also in March 2012, unnamed U.S. officials told the press that Assad had been supplied with Iranian drones.

But much of Anarchist’s focus was on Israel. The drone-watching documented in the GCHQ files covered periods of Israeli military offensives in Palestine, and also indicates that the intelligence agencies monitored drones for a potential strike against Iran.

The documents highlight the conflicted relationship between the United States and Israel and U.S. concerns about Israel’s potentially destabilizing actions in the region. The two nations are close counterterrorism partners, and have a memorandum of understanding, dating back to 2009, that allows Israel access to raw communications data collected by the NSA. Yet they are nonetheless constantly engaged in a game of spy versus spy. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that, although President Obama had pledged to stop spying on friendly heads of state, the White House carved out an exception for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials. Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA, told the Journal that the intelligence relationship with Israel was “the most combustible mixture of intimacy and caution that we have.”

GCHQ and the Israeli Defense Forces declined to comment. The NSA acknowledged receipt of an inquiry but did not respond to questions by the time of publication.

On January 3, 2008, as Israel launched airstrikes against Palestinian militants in Gaza, U.S. and British spies had a virtual seat in the cockpit.

Satellite surveillance operators at Menwith Hill, an important NSA site in England, had been tasked with looking at drones as the Israeli military stepped up attacks in Gaza in response to rockets fired by Palestinian militants, according to a 2008 year-end summary from GCHQ. In all, Menwith Hill gathered over 20 separate drone videos by intercepting signals traveling between Israeli drones and orbiting satellites. The NSA’s internal newsletter, SIDToday, enthusiastically reported the effort, noting that on January 3, analysts had also “collected video for the first time from the cockpit of an Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet,” which “showed a target on the ground being tracked.” Menwith Hill had worked “closely with a GCHQ site in Cyprus for tip-offs.”

In July 2008, GCHQ ordered Anarchist technicians to look for drones flying over a number of “areas of interest,” including the Golan Heights (a region of southwest Syria seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War), the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria.

Due to the political situation of the region there is a requirement for Israeli UAV operations in certain areas to be intercepted and exploited so that assessments can be made on what possible actions maybe [sic] taking place,” read the request, dated July 29, 2008. The memo asked for analysts to record and send video to GCHQ, along with ground plots showing where the drones had flown, and information about the signal.

Anarchist operators were able to snag the feeds of several different types of Israeli drones, according to an Intercept analysis of the snapshots and presentations from GCHQ summarizing Troodos achievements. The 20 snapshots identified by The Intercept in GCHQ files include several video stills clearly taken from Israeli drones, dating between February 2009 and June 2010.

According to one GCHQ presentation, technicians first collected signals from a Heron TP in February 2009. Intercepted images indicate that they also picked up video from other models and configurations of the Heron, and from the IAI Searcher drone. Another GCHQ presentation shows that by 2009, technicians had tapped into data from Hermes drones, manufactured by the Israeli company Elbit systems. In January 2010, Troodos reported that in the previous six months they had collected data from the Aerostar tactical drone and the Orbiter mini-drone, both made by the Israeli company Aeronautics.

In several snapshots of the Heron TP, there are objects under the wings that appear to be mounts for missiles or for other equipment such as sensors. In one image, from January 2010, a missile-shaped object is clearly visible on the left wing, while the mount on the right appears to be missing its load.

The Heron TP, which the Jerusalem Post described as “the drone that can reach Iran,” has an 85-foot wingspan — larger than that of the Reaper, the largest armed drone flown by the United States Air Force — and can carry a 1-ton payload. Israel recently reached an agreement to sell armed versions of the TP to India.

Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher on arms transfers with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told The Intercept that the items visible under the wings in the snapshots “appear to have the kind of fins such missiles have,” but noted that “there could be other payloads that could be fitted in the same position.” Chris Woods, the drone history author, said that they could be sensor pods for intelligence gathering.

It has been widely reported that Israel launches attacks from the smaller Hermes 450s, although the GCHQ documents do not specify whether the Hermes drones recorded at Troodos were armed.

Reports surfaced of Israel launching missiles from drones in Gaza as far back as 2004, and more than a decade later, drones have become a fact of life for residents. Chris Cobb-Smith, a former British army officer who has investigated drone strikes in Gaza for human rights groups, said that “during periods of tension, you can seldom go outside without the buzz of drones overhead.” A Gaza City bar owner complained to the Washington Post in 2011 that drone patrols often interfered with his satellite TV signals. In 2014, the London Telegraph reported that 65 percent of Israel’s air combat operations were conducted by drones. Yotam Feldman, an Israeli filmmaker who made a documentary about Israel’s drone industry for Al Jazeera last year, said that he has been told the figure is even higher.

During Operation Cast Lead, a three-week Israeli offensive that began in December 2008, Human Rights Watch reported dozens of Palestinian civilian deaths from drone strikes. In diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, an Israeli commander told a U.S. State Department official that a “UAV fired two missiles” against militant operatives outside a mosque, and that shrapnel from the strike hit civilians.

Yet the Israeli government still maintains an official stance of secrecy (a tactic akin to the United States’ refusal to formally acknowledge its drone program until 2013, despite years of reporting and commentary on it). In sanctioned interviews, Israeli military personnel are careful to describe the drones they fly as being used for surveillance and marking targets for manned warplanes to strike. Aviation and defense bloggers are left speculating about blurred photos and industry rumors about how drones might be equipped with missiles. The Israeli media is subject to a strict censorship regime, and the military does not allow mention of armed Israeli drones, unless quoting foreign sources.

Releasing full details about which munitions were used and how they were used can raise many other questions about these attacks — about the targets, about what the army calls collateral damage, about the command chain,” said Feldman, the Israeli filmmaker. “I think it is really the Israeli military throwing sand in the eyes of outside observers on Israeli strikes.”

The Anarchist images don’t show any drone strikes in action. It is not always clear from the images precisely where the drones were located, and it is thus impossible to tie the intercepts to specific attacks. A note on January 12, 2009, in the midst of Cast Lead, directs technicians “with the current situation … to keep a watch and report on where the majority of UAV flights are being conducted.” But the snapshots identified by The Intercept date from after Israel withdrew from Gaza in January 2009.

In several cases, the images were taken on the same day or just before reported Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, which continued after the ceasefire. For instance, on August 25, 2009, after months of relative quiet in the border area between Gaza and Egypt, Israel bombed a tunnel on the border, killing three Palestinians and wounding seven. That same day, Anarchist technicians at Troodos captured an Israeli drone signal.

Decoding the Drone

Drones communicate with their controllers on the ground via satellite; the transmission to the home station is known as the “downlink.” The antennas at Troodos grabbed that downlink by finding the right frequency for each drone.

Drone feeds are vulnerable to interception not just from the NSA — even cheap, commercially available equipment can be used to get the downlink. In a 2009 article in Wired, a U.S. military official likened such interception to “criminals using radio scanners to pick up police communications.”

Indeed, in 2009, U.S. forces in Iraq discovered laptops with video from Predator drones in the hands of insurgents. It couldn’t have come as a total surprise — military officials had noted the vulnerability as far back as 1999, and a 2005 CIA report stated that one of Saddam Hussein’s technicians had likely “located and downloaded … unencrypted satellite feed from U.S. military UAVs.”

In 1997, Hezbollah killed 12 Israeli commandos in an ambush in Lebanon. It emerged years later that Hezbollah had plotted the ambush after intercepting unencrypted drone video. The revelation caused a scandal, and led the Israeli military and drone industry to invest “significant efforts to encrypt the transmission of UAVs to their ground bases,” said Ronen Bergman, an investigative journalist with the paper Yedioth Ahronoth, who is currently writing a book on Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad.

The broadcast was supposed to be completely secure,” said Bergman. “If the NSA and GCHQ were able to crack that, it would come as a big surprise, and might well lead to the launch of an inquiry.”

Israel appears to have since expanded encryption across its drone fleet, and many of the feeds grabbed by the Troodos analysts were encrypted or scrambled, showing up like the black-and-white snow on a TV screen.

According to GCHQ Anarchist training manuals from 2008, analysts took snapshots of live signals and would process them for “poor quality signals, or for scrambled video.”

The manuals stated that video feeds were scrambled using a method similar to that used to protect the signals of subscriber-only TV channels. Analysts decoded the images using open-source code “freely available on the internet” — a program known as AntiSky. The attack reconstructed the image by brute force, allowing intelligence agents to crack the encryption without knowing the algorithm that had been used to scramble the video.

Even when fully decoded, the images are of varying quality, often grainy, and often showing nothing but the sky or sun or the drone’s own landing gear nearing the runway.

The aim of the snapshots seemed to be simply to identify which signals belonged with which aircraft, weapon, or radar, and to demonstrate that the intelligence agencies had the capability to grab such snapshots if needed. “The computing power needed to descramble the images in near real time is considerable,” the Anarchist manual notes, but “it is still possible to descramble individual frames to determine the image content without too much effort.”

The GCHQ documents describe the mission against Israeli drones in broad terms. An “outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Hamas” occasioned the intelligence agency’s interest, and so did tension with Tehran. In reporting on flights of an armed Heron TP, a Troodos employee noted that “our ability to collect and track and report this activity is important for the initial detection and tip-off for any potential pre-emptive or retaliatory strike against Iran.”

A 2008 Anarchist memo also notes that “interest by the weapons community in Israeli UAV’s [sic] remains high,” because Israel “provide[s] many countries with their UAV’s” and is “developing large UAV’s capable of being deployed for a variety of purposes.” Another, also from 2008, describes the hunt to confirm whether a specific type of radar “has been mounted on any UAV platforms.” A GCHQ presentation listing “successes in 2009” at Troodos includes “UAV development Israel/India.”

Israel leads the world in drone exports, and capabilities Israel developed would soon be passed to other countries. Its companies aggressively market the potential attack capabilities of their aircraft. In September, India made arrangements to buy 10 armed Heron TPs. This month, Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the country would lease several TPs, citing the aircraft’s attack capabilities.

This will be the standard in the future,” von der Leyen said.

By most accounts, Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan are the only countries known to have used drones for deadly attacks. But dozens of countries are believed to be developing armed drones, so that club likely won’t stay small for long.


Europe’s recent summers were the ‘warmest in 2,000 years’

January 29, 2016

by Matt McGrath


The past 30 years in Europe have likely been the warmest in more than two millennia, according to new research.

The study used tree ring records and historical documents to reconstruct yearly temperatures going back 2,100 years.

Scientists say that past natural variability in temperatures was greater than previously thought.

As a result, climate models may be underestimating the frequency and severity of heat waves in the future.

According to the study, Europe has seen an increase in summer warming of 1.3C between 1986 and 2015.

In this period there has also been an increase in severe heat waves, most notably in 2003, 2010 and 2015.

The 2003 event was linked to the extra deaths of thousands of elderly people due to heat stroke, dehydration and increased air pollution.

Extending the record

In 2014, researchers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the period between 1983 and 2012 was likely the warmest 30 years of the last 1,400 in the Northern Hemisphere.

But this new, large-scale study, involving 45 researchers from 13 different countries, attempts to put the European temperatures experienced in the past three decades into an even broader context.

They have understood for many years that the last 1,000 years was cooler because of the Little Ice Age, which lasted from the 14th to the 19th Century.

They wanted to go as far beyond that as they could to better understand natural variability.

To do this, the researchers used recently developed statistical reconstruction methods, as well as a number of what they term “high quality proxy records”, to estimate the European mean temperature variation since 138 BC.

“We’ve got 2,000 years of reconstruction where we have values for every year and the big surprise was that there wasn’t a single 30-year period that was as warm as the last 30 years; that was unexpected,” said Prof Danny McCarroll from Swansea University, UK, who was part of the research group.

Projecting forward

The researchers then used modern climate models to predict past temperatures and compared the results with their newly reconstructed record.

“The modern models don’t reconstruct the full range of climate change in the past, so they are underestimating the natural variability of the climate,” said Prof McCarroll.

“When they predict forwards, they predict the effect of CO2 but they have to sit natural variability on top of it. If they underestimate that they underestimate the extremes – so the recurrence of heat waves are likely to be underestimated by these models.”

Even though the new reconstruction has a wider range of natural variability in summer temperatures than previous attempts, the temperature data recorded in the past 30 years still sits outside it, pointing towards the same inference as made by the IPCC – that the recent warming is mainly caused by humans.

“The last 30 years lie beyond the bounds of natural variability,” said Prof McCarroll.

“Climate modellers are always reticent to say a weather event is because of anthropogenic effects – but if you see those 30 years in the context of 2,000 years, and it’s so unusual, it really suggests it is because of the greenhouse effect.”

The team found that the first century was the warmest in their analysis, slightly hotter than the 20th Century but according to team, the difference between the two was not statistically significant.

There were plenty of warm summers during Roman times, but conditions in Europe cooled between the 4th and 7th Centuries. The medieval era was generally warm.

The research has been published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters.


Anti-anti-Trump, Anti-anti-Sanders

Extremism in defense of peace is no vice

January 29, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


I haven’t had this much fun in years – of course I’m talking about the US presidential election season, with The Donald taking on all comers, and winning (at least so far), and Berne Sanders burning up the self-satisfied mandarins of the Democratic party Establishment.

What’s great about this spectacle – and one must view it as a spectacle in order to gain maximum enjoyment from it – is that, as none other than Rush Limbaugh points out:

Trump is so far outside the formula that has been established for American politics that people who are inside the formula can’t comprehend it. They don’t understand why somebody would want to venture so far outside it, because it is what it is, and there’s a ladder of success that you have to climb. And somebody challenging it like this in more ways than one, as Trump is doing, has just got everybody experiencing every kind of emotion you can: They’re angry, they are flabbergasted, they’re shocked, they’re stunned – and all of it because he’s leading.”

As I explained here, and here, one of the ways Trump is upending the rules is that he’s broken with the GOP mandarins on foreign policy. Yes, yes, I know he bloviates about how he’s “the most militaristic person” on God’s green earth, but the fact is there’s plenty of others out there who out-do him in that category. I’ve heard him say he wants to “bomb the s**t out of ISIS,” but aren’t we doing that already – to little effect? When Bill O’Reilly asked him why he didn’t support putting ground troops in Syria, he answered “Do you want to run Syria?” O’Reilly demurred. Trump puffs up his chest and announces he wants us to have “the strongest biggest baddest military on earth” – but you’ll note he invariably adds: “So we’ll never have to use it.”

Most significantly, he doesn’t want to start World War III with Vladimir Putin’s Russia: he’s actually defied the anti-Russian propaganda blitz and said he’d like to be able to get along with Putin. This alone would’ve been enough for the neocons to start a holy war against him, but he’s even gone further than that and said the Iraq war – the neocons’ handiwork – was “one of the dumbest things ever,” and Limbaugh describes their response to a tee (of course without naming them).

Oh yes, it’s great fun watching the waterboarding of the neocons, because they count among their enemies the top two contenders for the Republican nomination, not only Trump but also Ted Cruz. The greasy-haired Canadian earned their ire when he attacked them by name, but as Rosie Gray reports in Buzzfeed they may be reconciling themselves to Cruz because he’s the only viable Not-Trump:

Some of the hawkish figures who Ted Cruz recently dismissed as ‘crazy neo-con invade-every-country-on-earth and send our kids to die in the Middle East’ … say they’d consider supporting Cruz anyway if he’s the last man between Donald Trump and the Republican presidential nomination.

Cruz, it turns out, hasn’t fully burned his bridges with that set of advisers and supporters of George W. Bush – figures like Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and former National Security Council official Elliott Abrams, who aren’t closed off to Cruz, especially in the case of Abrams. Indeed, despite some lingering resentment and suspicion, there are even glimmers of rapprochement as the Republican primary looks like it could become a two-man race. ‘I would not hesitate to back Cruz as the nominee,’ Abrams – who not long ago told National Review that Cruz’s use of the word neocon invoked ‘warmongering Jewish advisers’ – told BuzzFeed News.”

Cruz, for his part, is more than willing to smoke a peace pipe with the War Party:

In an interview on his campaign bus in Iowa last week, Cruz told BuzzFeed News that, despite his jabs at neocons, he has ‘good relations with a great many foreign policy thinkers.’ Cruz has in the past cited Abrams along with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton and former CIA director James Woolsey as trusted foreign policy experts.”

It’s getting pretty cozy in that campaign bus. Rosie, who knows a thing or two about neocons, seems to be the designated ambassador from Kristol-land to the Cruz campaign, and as the Anti-Trump Popular Front – the widest coalition in the history of politics, stretching all the way from the New York Times to Charles Krauthammer – tries to sell us on the idea that the Establishment is now backing Trump against the “insurgent” Cruz, she provides some insightful analysis of just who is the Real Establishment:

The neocons’ willingness to consider Cruz stands in sharp contrast with a new line of current conventional wisdom in Washington that Cruz, who is the object of particularly intense personal dislike from establishment Republicans, is actually less acceptable to the establishment than Trump.”

We know who is the Establishment: it’s those brilliant folks who brought us the Iraq war, who want us to repeat our mistake in Syria, and who pine for a US-led regime-change operation in Russia to get rid of Putin and install a pliable Yeltsin-substitute in power. The Establishment, in short, is the War Party, otherwise known as the neoconservatives, and they are the tireless enemies of peace and liberty. Until and unless they are destroyed as a viable political force, either in the GOP or outside it, there will be no peace in this world. If and when Trump succeeds in sidelining them, that alone will be worth whatever price we have to pay in the – unlikely – event he makes it to the White House.

As even the usually clueless Ben Domenech, over at The Federalist, observes:

On foreign policy, Donald Trump is exploiting American frustration with the elites of both parties. He cites over and over again his opposition to the war in Iraq as a smackdown for the neoconservative views which have ruled the roost in Republican foreign policy circles for 15 years. But he also uses his opposition to engagement in Libya to smack Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Marco Rubio.

It is very telling that the two leading candidates in the GOP primary today are very critical of intervention in Iraq and Libya and Syria, and this has not only not hurt them, but potentially helped them reach more than 50 percent support in the polls. One would think Republican elites would recognize this and think about what it means about the views of their base. One would think, but one would be wrong.”

With the triumph of Trumpismo having demolished the GOP foreign policy consensus – and the neocons’ ideological and organizational stranglehold on the conservative movement – the way will be cleared for a libertarian-ish insurgency to arise out of the rubble and make some real headway. I realize it’s hard to see this at the present moment: just like on HGTV, when some clueless couple on “Fixer Upper” or “Property Brothers” just can’t see that the scary dilapidated wreck of a house they’re being shown could become their Dream Home. Yet, in the end, they are bowled over by the luxurious and stunning result.

(Of course, there are no guarantees in life: a lot depends on if the fractious libertarians, beset as they are by right-wing opportunism and a brainless form of anti-political sectarianism, can finally get their act together.)

On the other side of the aisle – that is, in the Democratic party – a similar drama, with some significant variations, is being played out in the race pitting Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton. The latter is widely considered the presumptive heir, much like Jeb Bush was assumed to be the GOP frontrunner on account of his last name. Yet Bush has been humiliated and sidelined, and Mrs. Clinton may well be in danger of sharing his fate: Sanders is beating her in New Hampshire as well as in Iowa. This has “centrist” Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and professional scold, so upset that he is threatening to launch a third party run if Sanders gets the nod.

The beleaguered Mrs. Clinton doesn’t have major principled differences with Sanders when it comes to domestic policy: their disagreements are over strategy, not goals. The real split is over foreign policy, with Hillary the hawk pecking at Sanders over his relatively dovish stances on issues from Iran to Libya. And now a posse of “national security” bureaucrats has taken out after Sanders with a joint statement deploring his unwillingness to parrot the War Party’s line:

Over the past four debates, the subject of ISIS and Iran have come up a number of times. These are complex and challenging times, and we need a Commander in Chief who knows how to protect America and our allies and advance our interests and values around the world. The stakes are high. And we are concerned that Senator Sanders has not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security.

His lack of a strategy for defeating ISIS – one of the greatest challenges we face today – is troubling. And the limited things he has said on ISIS are also troubling.

For example, his call for more Iranian troops in Syria is dangerous and misguided and the opposite of what is needed. Supporting Iranian soldiers on Israel’s doorstep is a grave mistake. And while we support de-escalation of Sunni-Shia tensions, his argument that Iran and Saudi Arabia – two intense adversaries – should join together in a military coalition is just puzzling. Indeed, the Iranian government recently failed to stop protesters from ransacking and burning the Saudi embassy in Tehran, after which Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran.

We are all strong supporters of the nuclear diplomacy with Iran. Some of us were part of developing the policy that produced the diplomacy over the past several years. And we believe that there are areas for further cooperation under the right circumstances. But Senator Sanders’ call to ‘move aggressively’ to normalize relations with Iran – to develop a ‘warm’ relationship – breaks with President Obama, is out of step with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that has been working for the United States, and if pursued would fail while causing consternation among our allies and partners.

Given these concerns, it is important to ask what he would do on other issues – on Russia, China, our allies, nuclear proliferation, and so much else. We look forward to hearing him address these issues.

We need a Commander in Chief who sees how all of these dynamics fit together – someone who sees the whole chessboard, as Hillary Clinton does.”

The only time the Clintonistas want to “move aggressively” is when it involves invading a sovereign nation like Iraq, Libya and Syria, and turning it into a cauldron of Islamist terror. Her “strategy” for defeating ISIS is to set up “no fly zones” in Syria, reoccupy Iraq, and fund the very head-chopping Syrian “rebels” from which ISIS and Al-Qaeda have sprung and with whom they are ideologically aligned. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton, who spearheaded the movement inside the US government to arm the Islamists in Syria and Libya, deserves the title “Mother of ISIS.”

As for all the balderdash about Iran: this is clearly the Israel lobby talking, and if there was any confusion about Mrs. Clinton’s role as their champion in the Democratic party, this should clear it up.

Yet the Clintonian arguments for an anti-Iranian foreign policy are not very convincing. For just one example: If “supporting Iranian soldiers at Israel’s doorstep is a grave mistake” then is Israel supporting ISIS at their own doorstep an equally grave miscalculation? But of course you won’t be hearing any criticism like that coming from this crowd.

From a noninterventionist perspective, neither Sanders nor Trump is perfect – both are very far from that. But to nitpick over their deviations is to entirely miss the point, as sectarians of both the left and right are bound to do. These two candidates represent, each in their own way, powerful and growing tendencies on both sides of the ideological spectrum that the movement for peace can utilize to its own advantage. For we cannot change the world until and unless we begin to understand it: only then can we take advantage of such openings as it allows. What is happening in this country is a rebellion against both wings of the War Party – and that is something to be celebrated and encouraged, even as we critique its shortcoming and urge the rebels to take their insurgency further.

We here at Antiwar.com do not endorse candidates for office: nevertheless, we encourage our readers and supporters to inform themselves and take an interest in the political process in order to bring about a more peaceful and a freer world. Insofar as this election season is concerned, the watchwords or slogans that give voice to the “correct” position are best expressed in terms of double-negatives. For my conservative Republican readers, that would be: anti-anti-Trump. For the progressive Democrats: anti-anti-Sanders.

We are hearing the voices of the Mushy Moderate Middle rise up in defense of the status quo: Democrats like the Washington courtier Dana Milbank are warning us against Sanders, while the neocons to a man are railing against the Trumpist Temptation. This should be enough to tell us what is the right road to take and what our answer to the Mushy Middletarians must be: Extremism in defense of peace is no vice – and moderation in the fight against the War Party is no virtue!


Report: Five times more attacks on refugee homes in Germany in 2015

German press and local governments have reported that violent acts targeting asylum-seeker housing increased by five times last year. The news came on the heels of a grenade attack in the south of the country.

January 29, 2016


Attacks on refugee housing increased by a factor of five in 2015 compared to 2014, German media reported on Friday. According to public broadcasters WDR and ARD, there were more than 1,000 attacks on accommodations for asylum seekers, running the gamut from arson to offensive graffiti.

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to the most refugees, was also drastically in front of the 15 other states in terms of attacks, jumping from 25 incidents in 2014 to 214 last year. Lower Saxony ranked second in attacks and saw 89 acts of violence in 2015.

“There is no way to know if these crimes are being planned on the spot or interregionally,” WDR quoted North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Ralf Jäger as saying.

The journalists’ research found that most of the perpetrators come from the areas where the refugee housing is located and are not connected to any nationwide network of right-wing extremists.

Of the exactly 1,005 registered attacks, the authorities estimate that 901 were motivated by far-right ideology.

Fireman charged with arson

The broadcaster gave one particularly grave example of a 25-year-old man in the town of Altena in North Rhine-Westphalia. The one-time fireman disabled the fire alarm of a home for asylum seekers, crawled onto the roof and using knowledge from his job, set fire to the building, where seven Syrian refugees were staying. They were alerted to the blaze only when passing visitors, originally looking to welcome the new arrivals, saw the fire and warned those inside.

When the man was arrested, according to WDR, his only defense was that he was afraid of the refugees.

Grenade attack

Friday also saw one of the more sinister attacks that Germany has experienced thus far. News agency DPA reported that an assailant threw a hand grenade at the initial arrival center in the town of Villingen-Schwenningen in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Luckily the attack, which occurred at 1:30 a.m., did not end in injury as the grenade failed to explode.

The police immediately cordoned off the area and began to search for suspects and to diffuse the explosive.

It is likely, however, that the attacker will disappear into the ether. According to the WDR report, only one-fourth of attacks on refugee homes – whether they be a swastika spray-painted outside the door, property damage, or more violent acts – end in an arrest and the crime being solved in courts.

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