TBR News January 3, 2014

Jan 03 2014

The Voice of the White House


Washington, D.C. January 2, 2014: “The current darling of the far right-wing, Phil Robertson, a backwoods duck hunter and exponent of the strange social behavior so popular in the backwards rural areas of this country, has caused himself, and his yapping supporters, more public relations problems.

Robertson made negative comments about gays and blacks, was temporarily suspended by A&E from his National Farm and Home hour program and after he was reinstated by the network, had another of his warm ideas discovered wherein he suggested that his friends ought to marry 15 year olds!

That this is illegal apparently does not bother either Robertson or A&E but it does bother a very large number of normal citizens.

There is a joke that applies here very clearly. The question is: Where does a man in Arkansas go for sex? The answer is: The family room. After all, these inbreds argue, the family that lays together, stays together.”


Rev. Phil Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’ advised that girls marry at 15, 16


December 31, 2013

by Max Ehrenfreund

Washington Post


Four days after A&E reinstated Phil Robertson following a brief suspension from filming in response to his homophobic and racist comments in GQ, the patriarch of the extremely popular “Duck Dynasty” has again become a problem for the network.


The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, discovered a video of Robertson speaking at an event in 2009 in which he advises marrying at a very young age.


In this video dated 2009, Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson suggests that girls marry as young as 15 or 16. (YouTube.com/wakemakerducks)


.“You got to marry these girls when they are 15 or 16. They’ll pick your ducks,” Robertson says in the video, arguing that young men who hunt benefit from having a wife to pluck the feathers from the birds they kill.


In many states, a person 16 or 17 years of age can marry with the consent of their parents and possibly a court order, and Robertson does recommend obtaining parental consent. Laws vary by state regarding the marriage of people younger than 16.


Robertson also suggests that living with an adult wife is expensive for her husband. “You wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket,” he says.


The Daily Mail found the video on YouTube, where it had been uploaded four years ago. According to the caption, Robertson is a “guest speaker for the Sportsmen’s Ministry.” It is not clear what kind of organization the Sportsmen’s Ministry is or where Robertson is speaking, although he addresses his audience as a group of “Georgia boys.”


“Duck Dynasty” is a reality show that chronicles the exploits of Robertson and his family, who own a duck-call business in northern Louisiana. Although A&E has carefully removed any hint of Robertson’s more controversial opinions from the episodes of the show that air, the network could not prevent him from speaking candidly with reporter Drew Magary, and excerpts of their interview are published in next month’s issue of GQ.


A&E announced that it was placing Robertson on a temporary “hiatus from filming” following the article’s appearance. In it, Robertson calls homosexuality a sin, argues that blacks in the south were happy before the civil-rights movement, and compares Shintoism, the Japanese religion of ancestral worship, to Nazism.


Robertson remains very popular with a large group of conservative viewers who feel that their views are not voiced elsewhere in the media. Members of his family are scheduled to appear on Fox News Tuesday night in a New Year’s Eve special.


The Oily Tits Affair



Press Release www.TaitzReport.com www.OrlyTaitzESQ.com

Dr. Orly Taitz ESQ


Defed Our Freedoms Foundation

29839 Santa Margarita, ste 100

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

Ph. 949-683-5411 Fax 949-766-7603


Attn. Kathleen Sebelius

Director of Health and Human services

200 Independence Ave

Washington DC 20201


Via Federal Express

One Day Delivery



5USC 552


1.       On 12.23.2013 it was reported that Mr. Barack Obama enrolled in the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

2.       At issue is the fact that Mr. Obama is using a Connecticut Social security number 042-68-4425, which failed E-Verify and SSNVS, two official agencies of the US government used to identify invalid Social Security numbers.

3.       The public is aware of the Social Security Number, which Mr. Obama is using, as on April 15, 2010 11 am, Mr. Obama posted his tax returns on line on whitehouse.gov and did not flatten the pdf file and the public could see that the number he is using is a CT SSN. Later Mr. Obama has reposted a redacted number, but by then thousands of people could see the full unredacted Social Security he is using.  Later, as checked through E-Verify and SSNVS, the number showed as not assigned to Barack Obama.


4.       Currently Mr. Obama is a defendant in a number of legal actions, among them Taitz et al v Democratic Party, Obama, Fuddy, Onaka et al  12-cv-1880 USDC Southern District of MS, which includes multiple RICO causes of action relating to Obama’s use of a stolen Social Security number and fabricated IDs. There are a number of other legal actions dealing with Obama’s use of fabricated IDs. Among them Taitz v Donahoe, Williams  13-cv-1020  USDC District of Columbia, legal action against the Postmaster General and Inspector General for USPS  dealing with     Obama’s use of a fabricated Selective Service certificate with a fabricated cancellation US Postal stamp attached to it, as well as Taitz v Colvin dealing with failure by the SSA to release the Social Security application for Harry Bounel, whose SSN Obama is using. See pleadings attached.

5.       At the moment petitioner is seeking any and all documentation showing how DHHS verifies Social Security numbers of applicants for ACA/Obamacare.

6.       Any and all documentation explaining to the public how Barack Obama was able to sign up for Obamacare while using a Social Security number which Filed E-verify and SSNVS.

7.       At the moment support for Obamacare is record low, according to the latest CNN poll released today, on 12.23.2013, only  35% of American citizens support Obamacare. If these remaining 35% will see that an individual with a failed Social Security number was able to sign up for Obamacare, it means that anyone, any illegal alien will be able to sign up for Obamacare and deplete taxpayer resources on aid, and remaining 35% of U.S. citizens will withdraw their support.  The public is entitled to know, what safeguards are in place to prevent individuals with invalid IDs, illegal aliens from obtaining Obamacare and depleting public resources and why did these safeguards fail in Obama’s case.


  1. 8.       By and through this letter Hon. Kathleen Sebelius is placed on notice that Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barack (Barry) Soetoro, aka Barack Soebarkah has fraudulently signed up for ACA/Obamacare, using invalid IDs and petitioner demands an expedient investigation by the DHHS and by the Inspector General for the DHHS.


Per 5 USC 552 response is required within 20 days from the receipt of this request, failure to do so will be seen as a refusal to provide information and will  entitle the petitioner to seek a redress in the US District Court.


. Further, Hon. Kathleen Sebelius is placed on notice that lack of action and resolution in this matter may be seen as complicity on her part in the cover up of Obama’s use of fabricated IDs and a stolen Social Security number and it might expose Ms. Sebelius to liability in both Civil and Criminal RICO causes of action


/s/ Dr. Orly Taitz ESQ.

PS. Considering the fact that this petition is sent on December 23,2013 petitioner is wishing Honorable Kathleen Sebelius a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Correspondence from readers


From: Walter Storch

To: xxxxxxxxx@gmail.com

Subject: Who the hell do you think you’re fooling? 

OK Ed, I am still hung-over from last night and you made me laugh so hard with this humorous piece that I might yet vomit! Obama was actually born on the planet Xeron (in the Cornlakes Galaxy) and Those in the Know are aware that he landed at Poipu in a space craft and that his uncle is in a zoo in Cleveland. What’s next, dude? 9-11 was caused by the Great Xenu? You ought to read some of the “Sorcha Faal” garbage, all about the Planet X, for new ideas. Where did you get this name? Is this a take-off on your ‘Oily Tits” joke site? Anyway, Happy New Year!


From: ———@hotmail.com
To: tbrnews@hotmail.com
Subject: Oily Tits strikes again!
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2014 13:13:44 -0800

Hey Walter, how goes it? Thanks for the Oily Tits send-up. I recognize Ben’s hand here but this is very funny.

Why don’t you put this up for the rest of the world to laugh at?

You did a number on the nutty Fetzer and “The German Guy” so why not jerk Ben’s chain with his ‘Oily Tits’ joke?

I got an email today about some new, and obviously invented, ‘holocaust’ book that claims to be a ‘true journal from the Warsaw ghetto’ written in 16 volumes by some Rabbi who was later turned into a lampshade!

The Internet is a wonderful source of genuine information but it is also a stamping ground for legions of the crazy.

Go on, let the world know and I remember your treatment of the equally crazy “Sorcha Faal” and “her” Planet X.

A good laugh once in a while lightens the load.


And it appears that there is someone out there with a similar name. Here is a brilliant, well-phrased comment from Orly Taitz:


From: orly.taitz@hushmail.com

Sent: 1/01/14

To: walter storch



drunks and morons like you should not be allowed to vote.


Comment: This is an essay in bad humor and utter futility. It tuirns out that this Orly Taitz actually exists, is a lawyer, among other accomplishments, lives in southern California and has been known to sue anyone who dares to contracdict them.. Taitz is a prominent birther or someone who believes that President Obama was not born in the United States and is therefor not eligible to be President. That this thesis has been well-disproven does not seem to affect the “birthers” and those who believe in the various other specious legends rampant on the Internet, such as the Wellstone plane crash, 9-11 building collapses, Planet X and other delights, march on blindly into blessed silence and oblivion. Ed



Special Report: Lost hooves, dead cattle before Merck halted Zilmax sales


December 30, 2013

by P.J. Huffstutter and Tom Polansek



WALLA WALLA COUNTY, WASHINGTON  – The U.S. beef industry’s dependence on the muscle-building drug Zilmax began unraveling here, on a sweltering summer day, in the dusty cattle pens outside a Tyson Foods Inc slaughterhouse in southeastern Washington state.


As cattle trailers that had traveled up to four hours in 95-degree heat began to unload, 15 heifers and steers hobbled down the ramps on August 5, barely able to walk. The reason: The animals had lost their hooves, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture documents reviewed by Reuters. The documents show the 15 animals were destroyed.


The next day, the hottest day of the month, two more animals with missing hooves arrived by truck. Again, the animals were destroyed, the documents show.


The animals’ feet were “basically coming apart,” said Keith Belk, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Belk said he reviewed photos of the lame cattle, though he declined to say who showed them to him.


The 17 animals had a factor in common, according to an examination of U.S. government documents and interviews with people who had direct knowledge of the events. In the weeks before the cattle were shipped to Tyson’s slaughterhouse, outside the city limits of Pasco, all had been fed Merck & Co Inc’s profit-enhancing animal feed additive, Zilmax.


The day after the hoofless animals were euthanized on August 6, Tyson told its feedlot customers it would stop accepting Zilmax-fed cattle. After Reuters reported the existence of a videotape of apparently lame Zilmax-fed animals – shown by an official of meatpacking giant JBS USA LLC at a trade meeting in Colorado – Merck itself temporarily suspended sales of the drug in the U.S. and Canada. The rest of the nation’s leading meatpackers soon followed Tyson, the largest U.S. meat processor.


Merck, in a statement to Reuters, stressed the safety of its product. It said the company investigates all reports of adverse reactions to its drugs, and did so after the deaths near Pasco.


“Several third-party experts were brought in to evaluate the situation, review the data and identify potential causes for the hoof issue,” Merck’s statement said. “The findings from the investigation showed that the hoof loss was not due to the fact these animals had received Zilmax.”


Merck declined to identify the names of the third-party investigators or provide more detail on the research findings.


After temporarily halting Zilmax sales, Merck continues to state Zilmax is safe when used as directed, with no welfare concerns discovered in 30 research studies since the product was introduced in the United States in 2007. In addition, Merck said, the company is planning more field evaluations of Zilmax, using “a well-designed collection and analysis of data by third-party industry experts.” A “prominent” epidemiologist and veterinarian will oversee the work, Merck said.


Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson said his company doesn’t know exactly what happened to the small group of cattle that were destroyed at the plant near Pasco. Some animal health experts have told Tyson the use of Zilmax is a possible cause, he said.


Tyson had seen some cattle mobility issues in the past, but “the issues at Pasco this summer were more severe” than the company had seen before, Mickelson said.




Scientists say they have yet to determine whether Zilmax causes ailments so severe that cattle must be euthanized. One theory is that the federally approved feed additive may compound the effects of common feedlot nutritional disorders such as acidosis, which can affect animals that consume too much starch (primarily grain) or sugar in a short period of time. Heat and animal genetics, too, may be factors.


Regardless, the episode at the Tyson plant – which hasn’t been publicly disclosed until now – is coming to light at a time of growing concern over risks to animal and human health posed by the increased use of pharmaceuticals in food production. Livestock pharmaceuticals use is expanding as part of the push to produce more meat at lower cost.


Earlier this month, in an effort to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threatens human health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rolled out new policies to phase out the use of antibiotics that make cows, pigs and chickens plumper. The FDA has said that meat produced from cattle fed with Zilmax is safe for human consumption.


The cases of hoofless cattle also raise ethical questions about whether the drive by modern agriculture to produce greater volumes of food, as cheaply as possible, is coming at the cost of animal welfare.


Of the more than 30 million beef cattle slaughtered in the U.S. annually, most move smoothly through a mechanized system that is among the most efficient in the world.


Reports that Zilmax causes lameness in some animals have raised concerns about the tradeoffs associated with a drug that adds up to 33 pounds of marketable meat to a 1,300-pound steer and has helped some feedlots stay in business at a time of punishing industry consolidation.


Livestock nutritionists, veterinarians and cattle researchers told Reuters that cattle losing hooves would be in great pain. Animals that have lost their hooves may take tentative steps, as if walking on glass, they said. Even when prodded, they sometimes refuse to rise back to their feet.


Livestock researcher Temple Grandin, who has pioneered humane slaughterhouse practices as a consultant to major beef processors, said it would be like a person having their toe nails yanked off.


“It would hurt a whole lot,” said Grandin, who said she has not witnessed any of the incidents of Zilmax-fed cattle with lost hooves.


When animals delivered to slaughterhouses are unable to walk on their own, Agriculture Department regulations require such “downer” cattle be destroyed and their meat prevented from reaching consumers.


Federal law requires Merck to report all animal deaths, as well as any other adverse reactions, in connection with use of its products. A review of reports submitted by Merck and others to the FDA shows at least 285 cattle have died unexpectedly or been destroyed in the United States after being fed Zilmax since the drug was introduced in 2007. The FDA reports specify the ailments that led to the unexpected deaths, but do not consistently state whether the animals expired on their own or were euthanized.


According to the reports, reviewed by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request, at least 75 animals lost hooves and were euthanized after being fed Zilmax over the past two years. The reports show pneumonia was a factor in the death of 94 Zilmax-fed cattle. And a build-up of gas in bovine stomachs, referred to as bloat, was listed as a cause in 41 cases of cattle fed Zilmax.


Of the 285 animals that died, 113 were fed either an animal-based antibiotic, or another medication to boost weight, or both, in conjunction with Zilmax.




Some veterinarians and animal experts say there is no proof Zilmax was the chief cause of any cattle deaths.


“My assessment is that I do not see data supporting the concerns today, at least the data that I have reviewed and been aware of,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln animal science professor Galen Erickson, in response to questions from Reuters about Zilmax’s safety.


But some previously staunch supporters of Merck’s innovative growth drug are beginning to question the product’s safety record.


“Maybe we found the point where we pushed the cattle just so hard in the sake of making a buck that we exceeded the biological limits of the cattle,” said Abe Turgeon, a prominent livestock nutritionist, who had previously recommended Zilmax to some customers.


Merck Animal Health, the unit that markets the additive, said proper use of Zilmax “does not affect the safety or well-being of cattle.” Moving beyond the 30 studies it cited at the time it suspended Zilmax sales, Merck in August launched an audit of how the product was being used in the field, created an advisory board to review management practices in the feedlot and animal nutrition industries, and provided new funds for field research on Zilmax-fed cattle.


Today, the company has said it plans to reintroduce Zilmax, but noted it is too soon to know when sales to U.S. and Canadian customers may resume.


Merck has begun approaching cattle nutritionists, livestock academics and other professionals who influence opinion in an effort to gain industry insight and win support for the return of the drug, according to several people who have met with the company.


The FDA regulates livestock feed additives sold in the United States, and is charged with intervening when a pharmaceutical product it has approved causes harm when used as directed.


The agency said it has taken no action related to Zilmax. When asked for comment about the adverse-event reports filed by Merck, an FDA spokeswoman in a statement said the agency “has not reached any conclusions on the safety of Zilmax but the agency is continuing to receive and evaluate data. As part of this process, the agency is always interested in new information.”


The Merck suspension of Zilmax sales is voluntary, and at this point the company could return Zilmax to the market without seeking permission from the FDA.




Zilmax is a medicated feed supplement for beef cattle that belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-agonists, which are also used in humans to ease asthma symptoms. Zilmax, with its active ingredient zilpaterol hydrochloride, is a federally approved weight-gaining supplement. It is added to cattle feed in the weeks before slaughter to add extra pounds of profit-producing meat.


Zilmax was worth nearly $160 million in annual sales in the United States and Canada last year, and was a steady cash generator for Merck’s animal health business, which has about $3.3 billion in global sales.


The additive served as a go-to solution for a troubled cattle industry, as one-fifth of the nation’s feedlots went out of business over the last decade. With cattle herds in sharp decline, Zilmax worked along with improved animal genetics and feed to produce more meat with fewer animals.


The United States produced nearly 26 billion pounds of beef from a herd of 91 million cattle in 2012, according to USDA data. In 1975, when the nation’s cattle herd hit a peak of 135 million head, the industry produced nearly 24 billion pounds of beef.


Last month, beef cattle walking into a U.S. packing plant on average weighed a record 1,346 pounds — up more than 20 percent in the last two decades.


Merck’s Zilmax quickly developed a loyal customer base. Its popularity spread even to the show circuit, where ranchers’ children today can win prizes exceeding $100,000 for raising big-girth bovines.




Tyson and rival beef processor Cargill Inc have told Reuters they will not accept Zilmax-fed cattle until Merck can provide a scientific vetting of Zilmax’s safety to animals and the companies are confident any animal welfare issues are resolved. (Cargill says it didn’t see the cattle lameness problems cited by JBS and Tyson.)


Both companies, too, have cited concerns about China and other nations that have barred the importation of meat produced from Zilmax-fed cattle. They fear that if such meat is accidentally sent to these countries, it could hurt their export businesses.


FDA records based on 59 adverse event reports filed since 2008 by Merck and Intervet Inc – the original developer of Zilmax before Merck acquired the firm in 2009 – chronicle incidents of Zilmax-fed cattle experiencing stomach ulcers, brain lesions and blindness. Merck also has reported incidents of Zilmax-fed animals showing signs of lethargy, bloody noses, respiratory problems and heart failure.


In September 2011, an unidentified veterinarian at an Oregon feedlot reported “unusual hoof loss in cattle being fed Zilmax,” according to one adverse event report reviewed by Reuters.


In August this year, Merck reported an additional five episodes involving 66 cattle in Oregon and Idaho that lost their hooves after a Zilmax feeding regimen. In some cases, a consulting veterinarian also cited high ambient temperature and a cement-and-rebar floor that may have exacerbated the hoof damage.


Also in August, one Nebraska cattle producer, who is not named in the FDA documents, reported he had more dead cattle when he used Zilmax than when he didn’t, according to the documents.


A Reuters review of data kept by the U.S. Agriculture Department show that euthanizations of cattle have risen substantially since Zilmax came on the market.


In the two years after Zilmax was introduced, the number of beef steers and heifers euthanized prior to slaughter at U.S. packing plants rose nearly 175 percent from previous levels. The number of euthanized steers and heifers has ranged between 1,600 and 2,300 cattle each year since then. That new plateau is well above the average of 670 a year in the four years before Zilmax came on the market in 2007.


The government data does not, though, draw a link between Zilmax or any other possible factors and the increase in euthanized cattle at meatpacking plants.


The number of euthanized cattle and the other reports of cattle dying is also quite small relative to the more than 30 million cattle slaughtered each year. It is small enough that it likely hasn’t raised significant red flags with the FDA, said David Acheson, the agency’s former Associate Commissioner for Food.


“I suspect that that’s not going to trigger them to do much,” Acheson said.




Tyson’s plant, about 14 miles southeast of Pasco, is an integrated modern-day packing operation, stretching the length of several football fields. Five days a week, more than 1,300 workers arrive and walk past security guards toward a mechanical rumble emanating from the plant’s gunmetal gray walls.


Tyson acquired the operation, one of its smaller plants, in 2001. It processes roughly 2,000 cattle a day, according to workers and local residents. Tyson would not comment on the number.


Washington state lies in the Pacific Northwest, with its soaring mountains and chilly rain. But the eastern flatlands around Pasco more closely resemble the Southwest’s desert – and sometimes share its soaring summer temperatures.


To guard against the heat, Tyson has provided cover or shade for some holding pens at the plant. Overhead sprinkler systems help cool the cattle, too.


But 2013 saw one of the hottest summers in a quarter century, with at least three heat waves in which temperatures in the area topped 100 degrees, according to National Climatic Data Center. Temperatures were spiking on many of the dates when a total of 37 cattle were euthanized this summer due to lameness associated with Zilmax.


According to USDA documents and people knowledgeable about the events, some of the animals were shipped from Beef Northwest of North Powder, Oregon.


On August 5, of 17 cattle that were euthanized at Tyson’s plant, the USDA inspector who condemned the animals noted that 15 had “lost toes.” Two were destroyed for other reasons. The inspector identified at least one of the animals in the group that was put down as a heifer originating from Nyssa, Oregon.


Beef Northwest operates a feedlot in Nyssa. Animals making the trip to Pasco would have stood in a trailer for four hours on a 95-degree day as it traveled to Tyson’s plant.


John Wilson, managing partner of Beef Northwest, confirmed that his company was using a Zilmax feed regimen this summer. About 40 of Beef Northwest’s animals “developed lameness after arriving at a packing plant in two incidents in July and August of this year,” he said. Wilson declined to identify the slaughterhouse and would not confirm the animals were destroyed.


Wilson said Beef Northwest had never faced lameness problems with its Zilmax-fed animals before this summer. While Beef Northwest was dispensing Zilmax, Wilson said, the company strictly followed Merck’s dosage and other instructions.


Beef Northwest says it frequently conducted internal and third-party audits to ensure employees were not over-feeding Zilmax to the animals.


“In our cases, dosages were not an issue, never an issue,” Wilson said in a phone interview. “I’d like to think that we were on the upper edge of the industry as far as heavy oversight of all of our protocols.”




As feed-grain prices soared amid strong demand among livestock and ethanol producers in recent years, and with drought ravaging the U.S. crop belt, Zilmax seemed like an attractive solution. Some feedlot owners nicknamed it “Vitamin Z.”


“We couldn’t find feed cheap enough to make any money” on raising cattle, said Turgeon, the cattle nutritionist who works with Beef Northwest.


Many clients had adopted another beta-agonist – Optaflexx, made by Eli Lilly and Co’s Elanco Animal Health unit. Elanco is Merck’s biggest rival in the animal health business.


The two products use different active ingredients: Optaflexx is based on ractopamine, while Zilmax uses zilpaterol. But Zilmax added more weight to cattle than Optaflexx did, say industry nutritionists and feedlot owners. That perceived advantage helped Zilmax gain market share and sales faster than Optaflexx in recent years, say industry experts.


Turgeon had heard from his customers about lameness problems associated with Zilmax, and a colleague this summer showed him photos of animals with hooves peeling off, he said. Reuters has not seen any photos of cattle with missing hooves.


Merck is now trying to win the industry back. At a closed-door session of an Academy of Veterinary Consultants conference in Denver on December 5, some 300 cattle veterinarians sparred over Zilmax.


During the debate, they broke into informal camps of “believers” who think Zilmax hurts cattle, and “disbelievers” who discount its negative effects, according to Larry Moczygemba, president of the academy.


The veterinarians debated the effects of Zilmax and other beta-agonist drugs, Moczygemba said, without reaching a conclusion. Merck employees stayed in the room, mostly remaining silent.


“Few, if any, think this is just a beta-agonist problem all on its own,” Moczygemba said. “But our role as vets puts animal well being first.”


(Reporting By P.J. Huffstutter in Pasco, Washington, and Chicago, and Tom Polansek in North Powder, Oregon, and Chicago.; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Pasco, Brian Grow in Atlanta and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles.; Edited by David Greising and Martin Howell.)



NSA ‘hacking unit’ infiltrates computers around the world report


NSA: Tailored Access Operations a ‘unique national asset’

• Former NSA chief calls Edward Snowden a ‘traitor’


December 29, 2013

by Joanna Walters in New York

The Guardian    


            A top-secret National Security Agency hacking unit infiltrates computers around the world and breaks into the toughest data targets, according to internal documents quoted in a magazine report on Sunday.


            Details of how the division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), steals data and inserts invisible “back door” spying devices into computer systems were published by the German magazine Der Spiegel.


The magazine portrayed TAO as an elite team of hackers specialising in gaining undetected access to intelligence targets that have proved the toughest to penetrate through other spying techniques, and described its overall mission as “getting the ungettable”. The report quoted an official saying that the unit’s operations have obtained “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen”.


NSA officials responded to the Spiegel report with a statement, which said: “Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies. [TAO’s] work is centred on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection.”


Der Spiegel has previously reported on documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The report on Sunday was partly compiled by Laura Poitras, who collaborated with Snowden and the Guardian on the first publication of revelations about the NSA’s collection of the telephone data of thousands of Americans and overseas intelligence targets.


On Friday, the NSA phone data-collection programme was ruled legal by a federal judge in New York, days after a federal judge in Washington declared the operations unconstitutional and “almost Orwellian”.


On Sunday, appearing on the CBS talk show Face the Nation, former air force general and NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden called Snowden a traitor and accused him of treason. He also accused Snowden of making the NSA’s operation “inherently weaker” by revealing not just the material that comes out of the agency but the “plumbing”, showing how the system works inside the government.


On NBC’s Meet the Press Ben Wizner, a legal adviser to Snowden, said the contrasting opinions of the two federal judges were now likely to see the case end up in front of the supreme court.


“It’s time for the supreme court to weigh in and to see whether, as we believe, the NSA allowed its technological abilities to outpace democratic control,” Wizner said.


Asked if Snowden, who was granted one year’s asylum in Russia, should return to the US to face charges, Wizner said: “For now, he doesn’t believe and I don’t believe that the cost of his act of conscience should be a life behind bars.”


In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Snowden declared that he had “already won” and accomplished what he set out to do. On Sunday, Wizner said Snowden’s mission was to bring the public, the courts and lawmakers into a conversation about the NSA’s work.


“He did his part,” Wizner said. “It’s now up to the public and our institutional oversight to decide how to respond.”


According to the Spiegel report, TAO staff are based in San Antonio, Texas, at a former Sony computer chip factory, not far from another NSA team housed alongside ordinary military personnel at Lackland Air Force Base. The magazine described TAO as the equivalent of “digital plumbers”, called in to break through anti-spying “blockages”. The team totalled 60 specialists in 2008, the magazine said, but is expected to grow to 270 by 2015.


TAO’s areas of operation range from counter-terrorism to cyber attacks, the magazine said, using discreet and efficient methods that often exploit technical weaknesses in the technology industry and its social media products.

The documents seen by Der Spiegel quote a former chief of TAO saying that the unit “has access to our very hardest targets” and its mission would be to “support computer network attacks as an integrated part of military operations” using “pervasive, persistent access on the global network”.


 In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn’t budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.




Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit


December 29, 2013

Der Spiegel


In the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians. Ultimately, the municipal government solved the riddle. Fault for the error lay with the United States’ foreign intelligence service, the National Security Agency, which has offices in San Antonio. Officials at the agency were forced to admit that one of the NSA’s radio antennas was broadcasting at the same frequency as the garage door openers. Embarrassed officials at the intelligence agency promised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and soon the doors began opening again.


It was thanks to the garage door opener episode that Texans learned just how far the NSA’s work had encroached upon their daily lives. For quite some time now, the intelligence agency has maintained a branch with around 2,000 employees at Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio. In 2005, the agency took over a former Sony computer chip plant in the western part of the city. A brisk pace of construction commenced inside this enormous compound. The acquisition of the former chip factory at Sony Place was part of a massive expansion the agency began after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.


On-Call Digital Plumbers


One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years — the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. This is the NSA’s top operative unit — something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.


According to internal NSA documents viewed by SPIEGEL, these on-call digital plumbers are involved in many sensitive operations conducted by American intelligence agencies. TAO’s area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage. The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO’s disposal have become — and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks.


The unit is “akin to the wunderkind of the US intelligence community,” says Matthew Aid, a historian who specializes in the history of the NSA. “Getting the ungettable” is the NSA’s own description of its duties. “It is not about the quantity produced but the quality of intelligence that is important,” one former TAO chief wrote, describing her work in a document. The paper seen by SPIEGEL quotes the former unit head stating that TAO has contributed “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen.” The unit, it goes on, has “access to our very hardest targets.”


A Unit Born of the Internet


Defining the future of her unit at the time, she wrote that TAO “needs to continue to grow and must lay the foundation for integrated Computer Network Operations,” and that it must “support Computer Network Attacks as an integrated part of military operations.” To succeed in this, she wrote, TAO would have to acquire “pervasive, persistent access on the global network.” An internal description of TAO’s responsibilities makes clear that aggressive attacks are an explicit part of the unit’s tasks. In other words, the NSA’s hackers have been given a government mandate for their work. During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to 258 targets in 89 countries — nearly everywhere in the world. In 2010, it conducted 279 operations worldwide.


Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry’s BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a “sustained TAO operation,” one document states.


This TAO unit is born of the Internet — created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world’s population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning — to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.


Recruiting the Geeks


To do this, the NSA needed a new kind of employee. The TAO workers authorized to access the special, secure floor on which the unit is located are for the most part considerably younger than the average NSA staff member. Their job is breaking into, manipulating and exploiting computer networks, making them hackers and civil servants in one. Many resemble geeks — and act the part, too.


Indeed, it is from these very circles that the NSA recruits new hires for its Tailored Access Operations unit. In recent years, NSA Director Keith Alexander has made several appearances at major hacker conferences in the United States. Sometimes, Alexander wears his military uniform, but at others, he even dons jeans and a t-shirt in his effort to court trust and a new generation of employees.



The recruitment strategy seems to have borne fruit. Certainly, few if any other divisions within the agency are growing as quickly as TAO. There are now TAO units in Wahiawa, Hawaii; Fort Gordon, Georgia; at the NSA’s outpost at Buckley Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado; at its headquarters in Fort Meade; and, of course, in San Antonio.


One trail also leads to Germany. According to a document dating from 2010 that lists the “Lead TAO Liaisons” domestically and abroad as well as names, email addresses and the number for their “Secure Phone,” a liaison office is located near Frankfurt — the European Security Operations Center (ESOC) at the so-called “Dagger Complex” at a US military compound in the Griesheim suburb of Darmstadt.


But it is the growth of the unit’s Texas branch that has been uniquely impressive, the top secret documents reviewed by SPIEGEL show. These documents reveal that in 2008, the Texas Cryptologic Center employed fewer than 60 TAO specialists. By 2015, the number is projected to grow to 270 employees. In addition, there are another 85 specialists in the “Requirements & Targeting” division (up from 13 specialists in 2008). The number of software developers is expected to increase from the 2008 level of three to 38 in 2015. The San Antonio office handles attacks against targets in the Middle East, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia, not to mention Mexico, just 200 kilometers (124 miles) away, where the government has fallen into the NSA’s crosshairs.



 Part 2: Targeting Mexico


Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security, which was folded into the new National Security Commission at the beginning of 2013, was responsible at the time for the country’s police, counterterrorism, prison system and border police. Most of the agency’s nearly 20,000 employees worked at its headquarters on Avenida Constituyentes, an important traffic artery in Mexico City. A large share of the Mexican security authorities under the auspices of the Secretariat are supervised from the offices there, making Avenida Constituyentes a one-stop shop for anyone seeking to learn more about the country’s security apparatus.




That considered, assigning the TAO unit responsible for tailored operations to target the Secretariat makes a lot of sense. After all, one document states, the US Department of Homeland Security and the United States’ intelligence agencies have a need to know everything about the drug trade, human trafficking and security along the US-Mexico border. The Secretariat presents a potential “goldmine” for the NSA’s spies, a document states. The TAO workers selected systems administrators and telecommunications engineers at the Mexican agency as their targets, thus marking the start of what the unit dubbed Operation WHITETAMALE.


Workers at NSA’s target selection office, which also had Angela Merkel in its sights in 2002 before she became chancellor, sent TAO a list of officials within the Mexican Secretariat they thought might make interesting targets. As a first step, TAO penetrated the target officials’ email accounts, a relatively simple job. Next, they infiltrated the entire network and began capturing data.


Soon the NSA spies had knowledge of the agency’s servers, including IP addresses, computers used for email traffic and individual addresses of diverse employees. They also obtained diagrams of the security agencies’ structures, including video surveillance. It appears the operation continued for years until SPIEGEL first reported on it in October.


The technical term for this type of activity is “Computer Network Exploitation” (CNE). The goal here is to “subvert endpoint devices,” according to an internal NSA presentation that SPIEGEL has viewed. The presentation goes on to list nearly all the types of devices that run our digital lives — “servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, handsets, phone switches, SCADA systems, etc.” SCADAs are industrial control systems used in factories, as well as in power plants. Anyone who can bring these systems under their control has the potential to knock out parts of a country’s critical infrastructure.


The most well-known and notorious use of this type of attack was the development of Stuxnet, the computer worm whose existence was discovered in June 2010. The virus was developed jointly by American and Israeli intelligence agencies to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, and successfully so. The country’s nuclear program was set back by years after Stuxnet manipulated the SCADA control technology used at Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz, rendering up to 1,000 centrifuges unusable.


The special NSA unit has its own development department in which new technologies are developed and tested. This division is where the real tinkerers can be found, and their inventiveness when it comes to finding ways to infiltrate other networks, computers and smartphones evokes a modern take on Q, the legendary gadget inventor in James Bond movies.


Having Fun at Microsoft’s Expense


One example of the sheer creativity with which the TAO spies approach their work can be seen in a hacking method they use that exploits the error-proneness of Microsoft’s Windows. Every user of the operating system is familiar with the annoying window that occasionally pops up on screen when an internal problem is detected, an automatic message that prompts the user to report the bug to the manufacturer and to restart the program. These crash reports offer TAO specialists a welcome opportunity to spy on computers.


When TAO selects a computer somewhere in the world as a target and enters its unique identifiers (an IP address, for example) into the corresponding database, intelligence agents are then automatically notified any time the operating system of that computer crashes and its user receives the prompt to report the problem to Microsoft. An internal presentation suggests it is NSA’s powerful XKeyscore spying tool that is used to fish these crash reports out of the massive sea of Internet traffic.


The automated crash reports are a “neat way” to gain “passive access” to a machine, the presentation continues. Passive access means that, initially, only data the computer sends out into the Internet is captured and saved, but the computer itself is not yet manipulated. Still, even this passive access to error messages provides valuable insights into problems with a targeted person’s computer and, thus, information on security holes that might be exploitable for planting malware or spyware on the unwitting victim’s computer.


Although the method appears to have little importance in practical terms, the NSA’s agents still seem to enjoy it because it allows them to have a bit of a laugh at the expense of the Seattle-based software giant. In one internal graphic, they replaced the text of Microsoft’s original error message with one of their own reading, “This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine.” (“Sigint” stands for “signals intelligence.”)


One of the hackers’ key tasks is the offensive infiltration of target computers with so-called implants or with large numbers of Trojans. They’ve bestowed their spying tools with illustrious monikers like “ANGRY NEIGHBOR,” “HOWLERMONKEY” or “WATERWITCH.” These names may sound cute, but the tools they describe are both aggressive and effective.


According to details in Washington’s current budget plan for the US intelligence services, around 85,000 computers worldwide are projected to be infiltrated by the NSA specialists by the end of this year. By far the majority of these “implants” are conducted by TAO teams via the Internet.


Increasing Sophistication


Until just a few years ago, NSA agents relied on the same methods employed by cyber criminals to conduct these implants on computers. They sent targeted attack emails disguised as spam containing links directing users to virus-infected websites. With sufficient knowledge of an Internet browser’s security holes — Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, for example, is especially popular with the NSA hackers — all that is needed to plant NSA malware on a person’s computer is for that individual to open a website that has been specially crafted to compromise the user’s computer. Spamming has one key drawback though: It doesn’t work very often.


Nevertheless, TAO has dramatically improved the tools at its disposal. It maintains a sophisticated toolbox known internally by the name “QUANTUMTHEORY.” “Certain QUANTUM missions have a success rate of as high as 80%, where spam is less than 1%,” one internal NSA presentation states.


A comprehensive internal presentation titled “QUANTUM CAPABILITIES,” which SPIEGEL has viewed, lists virtually every popular Internet service provider as a target, including Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and YouTube. “NSA QUANTUM has the greatest success against Yahoo, Facebook and static IP addresses,” it states. The presentation also notes that the NSA has been unable to employ this method to target users of Google services. Apparently, that can only be done by Britain’s GCHQ intelligence service, which has acquired QUANTUM tools from the NSA.


A favored tool of intelligence service hackers is “QUANTUMINSERT.” GCHQ workers used this method to attack the computers of employees at partly government-held Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom, in order to use their computers to penetrate even further into the company’s networks. The NSA, meanwhile, used the same technology to target high-ranking members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at the organization’s Vienna headquarters. In both cases, the trans-Atlantic spying consortium gained unhindered access to valuable economic data using these tools.


Part 3: The NSA’s Shadow Network


The insert method and other variants of QUANTUM are closely linked to a shadow network operated by the NSA alongside the Internet, with its own, well-hidden infrastructure comprised of “covert” routers and servers. It appears the NSA also incorporates routers and servers from non-NSA networks into its covert network by infecting these networks with “implants” that then allow the government hackers to control the computers remotely. (Click here to read a related article on the NSA’s “implants”.)


In this way, the intelligence service seeks to identify and track its targets based on their digital footprints. These identifiers could include certain email addresses or website cookies set on a person’s computer. Of course, a cookie doesn’t automatically identify a person, but it can if it includes additional information like an email address. In that case, a cookie becomes something like the web equivalent of a fingerprint.


A Race Between Servers


Once TAO teams have gathered sufficient data on their targets’ habits, they can shift into attack mode, programming the QUANTUM systems to perform this work in a largely automated way. If a data packet featuring the email address or cookie of a target passes through a cable or router monitored by the NSA, the system sounds the alarm. It determines what website the target person is trying to access and then activates one of the intelligence service’s covert servers, known by the codename FOXACID.


This NSA server coerces the user into connecting to NSA covert systems rather than the intended sites. In the case of Belgacom engineers, instead of reaching the LinkedIn page they were actually trying to visit, they were also directed to FOXACID servers housed on NSA networks. Undetected by the user, the manipulated page transferred malware already custom tailored to match security holes on the target person’s computer.


The technique can literally be a race between servers, one that is described in internal intelligence agency jargon with phrases like: “Wait for client to initiate new connection,” “Shoot!” and “Hope to beat server-to-client response.” Like any competition, at times the covert network’s surveillance tools are “too slow to win the race.” Often enough, though, they are effective. Implants with QUANTUMINSERT, especially when used in conjunction with LinkedIn, now have a success rate of over 50 percent, according to one internal document.


Tapping Undersea Cables


At the same time, it is in no way true to say that the NSA has its sights set exclusively on select individuals. Of even greater interest are entire networks and network providers, such as the fiber optic cables that direct a large share of global Internet traffic along the world’s ocean floors.


One document labeled “top secret” and “not for foreigners” describes the NSA’s success in spying on the “SEA-ME-WE-4” cable system. This massive underwater cable bundle connects Europe with North Africa and the Gulf states and then continues on through Pakistan and India, all the way to Malaysia and Thailand. The cable system originates in southern France, near Marseille. Among the companies that hold ownership stakes in it are France Telecom, now known as Orange and still partly government-owned, and Telecom Italia Sparkle.


The document proudly announces that, on Feb. 13, 2013, TAO “successfully collected network management information for the SEA-Me-We Undersea Cable Systems (SMW-4).” With the help of a “website masquerade operation,” the agency was able to “gain access to the consortium’s management website and collected Layer 2 network information that shows the circuit mapping for significant portions of the network.”


It appears the government hackers succeeded here once again using the QUANTUMINSERT method.


The document states that the TAO team hacked an internal website of the operator consortium and copied documents stored there pertaining to technical infrastructure. But that was only the first step. “More operations are planned in the future to collect more information about this and other cable systems,” it continues.


But numerous internal announcements of successful attacks like the one against the undersea cable operator aren’t the exclusive factors that make TAO stand out at the NSA. In contrast to most NSA operations, TAO’s ventures often require physical access to their targets. After all, you might have to directly access a mobile network transmission station before you can begin tapping the digital information it provides.


Spying Traditions Live On


To conduct those types of operations, the NSA works together with other intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI, which in turn maintain informants on location who are available to help with sensitive missions. This enables TAO to attack even isolated networks that aren’t connected to the Internet. If necessary, the FBI can even make an agency-owned jet available to ferry the high-tech plumbers to their target. This gets them to their destination at the right time and can help them to disappear again undetected after as little as a half hour’s work.


Responding to a query from SPIEGEL, NSA officials issued a statement saying, “Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies.” The statement added that TAO’s “work is centered on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection.” The officials said they would not discuss specific allegations regarding TAO’s mission.


Sometimes it appears that the world’s most modern spies are just as reliant on conventional methods of reconnaissance as their predecessors.


Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.


These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the “most productive operations” conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks “around the world.”


Even in the Internet Age, some traditional spying methods continue to live on.





NSA worked on iPhone spyware to remotely monitor users, leaked documents show

December 30, 2013

by Mikey Campbell



            New documents revealed on Monday show the U.S. National Security Agency has the capability of deploying software implants on Apple’s iPhone that grants remote access to on-board assets like SMS messages, location data and microphone audio.


In a talk at the Chaos Communications Congress in Germany, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum summarized the NSA’s iPhone-targeting spyware program called “DROPOUTJEEP” as part of a broader discussion dealing with the agency’s controversial electronic surveillance initiative, reports The Daily Dot.


As it pertains to Apple’s smartphone, the findings — concurrently published by German magazine Der Spiegel — are limited to a single top secret document dating back to 2008. The page details DROPOUTJEEP’s basic operational structure and capabilities, which include the interception of SMS messages, access to on-board data, microphone activation and approximate positioning via cell tower location. All communication takes place covertly over SMS or GPRS data protocols.


While a startling revelation, DROPOUTJEEP’s proliferation within the iPhone community is largely unknown. The NSA boasts a 100 percent success rate for implanting the spyware on iOS devices, Appelbaum said, but the document suggests physical contact with a target phone is required to implant the surreptitious software. In practice, the method is likely similar to a consumer jailbreak looking for root device access.


To this point, Appelbaum alludes to complicit involvement by Apple, but tempers his — so far baseless — allegation with “I can’t really prove it.”


            I don’t really believe that Apple didn’t help them,” Appelbaum said. “I can’t really prove it yet, but [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I’d like to believe that since Apple didn’t join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it’s just that they write [expletive redacted] software. We know that’s true.


Der Spiegel asserts specialized NSA Tailored Access Operations (TAO) teams intercept incoming device shipments, carefully open packages and install spyware before sending the “bugged” units along to end users.


A more efficient delivery mechanism is remote installation, something the NSA said was being “pursued for future release.” Once again, it is unknown if the agency moved forward with such a system in the intervening five years since the document was first issued.


Russian Navy to Expand Air Patrols in Arctic


            MOSCOW, January 3 (RIA Novosti) – Combat aircraft from Russia’s Northern Fleet will extend the ranges of their patrol flights over the Arctic in 2014 using a network of revamped Soviet-era airfields, the fleet’s spokesman said Friday.


“In 2014, the naval aviation of the Northern Fleet will significantly expand the geography of Arctic patrol flights, including with the use of the Temp airfield on the New Siberian Islands,” Capt. 1st Rank Vadim Serga said.


Serga said the fleet’s Tu-142 and Il-38 reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft carried out over 30 patrol missions in the Arctic last year.


Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military in December to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region in 2014.


The Russian Defense Ministry has announced plans to deploy a combined-arms force in the Arctic by 2015.


As part of the ambitious program, the Russian military will reopen airfields and ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven airfields on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.


Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.


Russia has made claims on several Arctic shelf areas and is planning to defend its bid at the United Nations.


Comment: The heading explains it all. The vanishing surface ice pack at the North Pole is creating an area of contention between the U.S. and Russia. This country was under the mistaken impression that the treaty that gave oil rights to the country under whose continental shelf it lay was to their benefit. The melting ice cap has shown that Russia has a far larger share of the underwater area that we ever imagined. They are now drilling, hence the obviously put-up Greenpeace feint at the Gasprom drilling platform. The Russians made such challenges most unattractive. Someone sent me a precis of American policies, and future policies, in the Arctic area but the Russians are far ahead of them. Mothballed Arctic Russian airfields have been reactivated and they are now sending a significant naval presence into the area. Also, and this is not commonly known, the Russians have replaced that obsolete Akula huge sub with a new one, one that can lie on the seabed until summoned into action by Moscow, surface and discharge a load of long range missiles. Putin will not be bluffed on this, as we are attempting to do. The Russians are simply being reactive but they have the upper hand…as well as the oil. And they will defend both the new trade routes and the untapped oil. Is this a reprise of 1914? Nothing is ever exactly as it was before but there are similarities indeed. In 1914 there was a drift into conflict, not a planned drive. The UN is utterly useless, Russia and Germany are forging an economic union that will flatten both the EU and Nato. My German connections have told me the state bank has already printed up many millions of a new mark currency.

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