TBR News January 30. 2016

Jan 30 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 30, 2016: ”Having written that as soon as the stand-off in Oregon was over, basicially, the blogs would get their hands on the news and manage, as they always do, to throughly distort it. And this is the case. There are pictures of the shooting of the invader taken from a helicopter, that show clearly what happened. Hey show the suspect running a police blockade, trying to run down a state policeman, ending up in a snowbank, getting out of his truck with an armed trooper point a gun at him. He reached into his pocket, where he had a loaded pistoll, and was duly shot. Now the story below does the blog act and soon, wails of grief and anger will be heard, fingers will point and the dimbulbs will nod sagely about their recent dose of concocted truth. And if, in the future, a swan flies into the engine intake of a jet plane and it crashes, believe it that a secret rocket was used by masked members of the Illuminati. Where is Prozac now that we need it?”

Family of slain Oregon protester challenges FBI account of his death

January 29, 2016

by Peter Henderson


BURNS, Ore.As four armed anti-government protesters held their ground at a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon on Friday, the family of a protester killed by police said he seemed to have been shot in the back with his hands up, although authorities said he was reaching for a gun.

Relatives of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54, a spokesman for the group that seized buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, said he posed no threat and they were not accepting the authorities’ assertion that he was armed.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released video on Thursday of state police fatally shooting Finicum, and contended it showed him making a move for a gun in his coat pocket.

“LaVoy was not ‘charging’ anyone. He appears to have been shot in the back, with his hands in the air,” the family of the Arizona rancher said in a statement through their attorney.

“At this point we will await the outcome of any investigation, but based on the information currently available to us, we do not believe that LaVoy’s shooting death was justified.”

Four armed protesters were still holed up on Friday at the remote refuge, 30 miles (48 km) from Burns, a small ranching community in the state’s rural southeast. The FBI says it is working “around the clock” to negotiate with the holdouts.

Ammon Bundy, who led the occupation that began on Jan. 2, was arrested on Tuesday along with other protesters including his brother, Ryan.

Bundy has issued messages through his attorney urging those who remain at the refuge to stand down, and saying they would continue to fight federal land policy through the courts.

Bundy and his brother Ryan were ordered held without bail pending trial on felony conspiracy charges, a U.S. District Court judge ruled on Friday.

“There are no conditions I could impose that would ensure the safety of the community. I’m worried about him occupying another government building,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman told the hearing in Portland.

Beckerman ordered most of the Bundys’ co-defendants held without bail as well, at least until another next week.Following the hearing Ammon Bundy’s attorney said that he had reached out to the final four holdouts in a bid to convince them to stand down, but that those men were skeptical without hearing directly from Bundy.

The occupation began when Bundy and at least a dozen followers seized buildings at the refuge in the latest flare-up of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres of land in the West.

Authorities said Finicum was armed when he was killed, and on Thursday night they released aerial video that showed him fleeing in a white truck, nearly striking an officer while trying to evade a police barricade, then barreling into a deep snowbank and exiting the car.

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. 69

Date: Saturday February 22,1997

Commenced: 2:05 PM CST

Concluded: 2:40 PM CST


RTC: Good morning, Gregory…or rather good afternoon.

GD: It’s a bit later in the day. Am I interrupting anything?

RTC: Oh, no, not at all. I finished lunch two hours ago. How is the day going with you?

GD: It goes after a fashion. Did you, or have you, ever read C. Wright Mills’ book, ‘The Power Elite?’ Came out in ’54.

RTC: I have skimmed it before for certain. The groups that control?

GD: Yes. It’s a little dated as to specifics but quite good in the abstract. The abstract being that our society is controlled by certain groups of men with specific interests, mostly economic but often economic and political.

RTC: Well, that’s basically true, Gregory. I mean the concept is obvious and it is certainly not a domestic product by any means.

GD: No, no, I realize that. I mean that a town is not run by the city councils or selectmen but by, let’s say, a small group consisting of, well, a local judge, a real estate developer, a retired military officer. That sort of combination but there are other permutations of course.

RTC: But this is not a surprise to you, is it?

GD: No, of course not, Robert but let us say that Congress is like the local council. Only a front for the real power brokers.

RTC: I have had a close connection with such groups here for years. Yes, they fluctuate and change but in the end, small groups run everything. How does it go from my own experience? Well, let’s say there is a cocktail party out on the Hamptons. Many rich people there, a small orchestra, drinks served and groups of the rich and powerful chatting about their children, their boats or their horses or the last trip to Paris or Rome. Florence if they are cultured. And then a few of the guests, all men, drift off to the library where the door is locked and they sit around in comfortable chairs, drinks in hand or perhaps a very expensive cigar or two. And then after some casual comments about life in general, they get down to specifics about how things are supposed to happen. You spoke of Guatemala to me once. You said your uncle was in the business didn’t you? GD: Yes and my father’s family was connected with Grace and United Fruit. Or Levi and Zentner. Yes.

RTC: And when Guzman wanted to nationalize the banana plantations and spend the money on the stupid peasants, why the business interests got together over cigars and brandy and worked out a plan. Then one of them brought it to one of us. And then we discovered a terrible Communist plot, directed from Moscow of course, to set up a Soviet Republic in Central America. The president was solemnly informed of this vile business and gave his OK for counter measures. In essence, we supplied the weapons and expertise and the unfriendly government was overthrown and replaced with a friendlier one.

GD: And the new head of state realized that the Guzman plan was very good and tried to implement it.

RTC: Yes, you’re right and so we shot him and put another and more pliable man in place there. And the United Fruit people gave money to the right people or perhaps hired a few Company relatives and another blow for freedom was stuck.

GD: And if the Russians did not exist, they would have to be invented. We had the evil Spanish in Cuba, the wicked Nazis who were going to invade this country and rape all the women in Peoria and then the even more evil Stalin and his gangs of liberal Jewish spies in America who also wanted to invade this country but this time planning a mass rape in New Orleans.

RTC: Cynical, Gregory, but true. Just think of how profitable such an undeclared war can be. Hundreds of millions for the CIA, unaccountable of course, and lots of very profitable contracts for military hardware that will never be used.

GD: I knew Gehlen, don’t forget, and he personally told me about his faked 1948 report about a pending Russian attack on Europe.

RTC: The opening guns of the Cold War, Gregory. And we and the military could expand and so could the economic sector. We could quietly shoot our enemies and blame it on national security while the money flowed in from patriotic taxpayers.

GD: And Mills was right.

RTC: He belabored such an obvious issue, Gregory. Of course there are power elites everywhere at all times. I’m sure there are such in every country and inside those countries, in all major businesses and domestic political machinery. Why this should surprise you astonishes me.

GD: It actually doesn’t but I wanted to use the subject to ask you who runs the show now? It’s not 1954 anymore.

RTC: And we don’t live in Kansas, either, thank God. Now? My God, it changes…is in a constant flux. At this moment, I couldn’t tell you but perhaps fifteen years ago I could have. I mean if you were to take an Uzi and snuff out a whole library of cigar smoking plotters, they would be replaced by others within a few days. You’d run out of ammunition in the end. Besides, a few clever pragmatists are easier to deal with that a Congress full of idiots and thieves. Don’t you agree?

GD: I’d say you need both.

RTC: Only at appropriations time do we need Congress to refill the empty treasure chests. The rest of the time, we depend on the power people to help out. I mean… Gregory, you could contain all the world’s really important secrets in a notebook you kept in your pocket. But we have to justify acres of offices, safes, burn centers, a vast army of experts, analysts , agents in Tasmania, code machines and the like. To get the money, we need the excuse, and the excuse is secrecy. You know, Harry Truman set us up in business because he did not trust the intelligence input from the Army. We were a small handful of experts to advise him and now we run the country the way we feel it ought to be run. The president is a nuisance to be coddled and conned. We give him the information he needs for his purposes, regardless of how silly and utterly fake it might be. It’s just a game played with spoiled children, Gregory, and nothing more.

GD: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

RTC: Oh, no, Gregory, not nothing. Look at our budget and you won’t say nothing.

GD: And don’t forget the profit from the drugs, either.

RTC: Most uncalled for, Gregory. We are all American capitalists, and if there is a need, we fill it, even if, I must say, we have to create the need first.

GD: Money talks…

RTC: No, Gregory, in this country, as in most others, money rules and you ought not to ever forget that.

GD: I don’t. One of my grandfathers was a banker as I have told you. I can’t imagine him talking the way we do, however.

RTC: In what way is that?

GD Pragmatic cynicism.

RTC: If the shoe fits, my friend, wear it.


(Concluded at 2:40 PM CST)



Oregon militia leaders may be in prison longer than men who inspired standoff

Eleven people associated with occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge are behind bars, facing federal felony charges and possible six-year sentences

January 29, 2016

by Sam Levin

The Guardian

The leaders of the rightwing militia in Oregon could spend more years in prison than the two ranchers whose prosecution and imprisonment inspired the occupation.

Days after law enforcement officials arrested protest leader Ammon Bundy and shot and killed militiaman LaVoy Finicum, 11 people associated with the occupation are behind bars, facing federal felony charges and possible six-year prison sentences.

On 2 January, Bundy and a crew of anti-government activists launched an armed takeover of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in rural Harney County to protest the criminal prosecution of local ranchers Dwight Hammond, 74, and his son Steven, 46. The Hammonds were sentenced to five years in federal prison for arson offenses on public lands.

Many of the key militia activists – who had claimed they would stay at the refuge headquarters until the Hammonds were released – were in federal court in Portland on Friday, facing serious charges that could land them hefty prison sentences. Legal experts say the FBI and federal prosecutors have deliberately targeted the occupation’s leaders – most of whom are from out of state – with a broad charge that encompasses numerous offenses they have committed during the last month at the federally protected wildlife sanctuary.

Of the 11 people in custody, five were arrested while driving on a remote highway on Tuesday afternoon, three were arrested in separate incidents outside the refuge that evening, and three more subsequently turned themselves in at FBI checkpoints just outside the refuge.

All are facing the same felony charge of conspiracy to impede federal officers from discharging official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats – an offense that could result in fines and six years in prison. By Thursday, only four holdouts remained at the refuge.

Since the occupation began, commentators across the country have urged the FBI to arrest and prosecute the militia members to the fullest extent of the law to deter anti-government activists from seizing public buildings over future grievances.

But the operation on the ground has presented something of a logistical challenge for the FBI.

Dozens of people have entered and exited the refuge over the past several weeks with widely varying degrees of involvement in the occupation. Some have voiced their support and stayed just a few nights, while others rifled through and destroyed government property in front of news cameras.

Ultimately, it appears the FBI and prosecutors decided to primarily go after those who acted as spokespeople – many of whom published frequent videos and posts on Facebook and YouTube documenting their actions and intentions.

The primary goal here is to reassert the rule of law and try to avoid copycat occupations,” said David Hayes, a visiting lecturer at Stanford Law School and former deputy secretary of the US Department of the Interior.

In addition to Bundy, police have arrested his brother Ryan Bundy, militia leaders Ryan Payne and Jon Ritzheimer, and other high-profile members of the occupation who have repeatedly been in the news, including Brian Cavalier, Jason Patrick and Duane Ehmer.

The tactic of targeting leaders, however, means that law enforcement officials have allowed some occupiers and supporters to surrender and leave the refuge without arrest in recent days.

They are trying to go after the most culpable people,” said Debra Donahue, law professor at the University of Wyoming. But, she added, “even if they release people now, that doesn’t mean they may not be arrested or detained for questioning later.”

The federal government also probably wants a simple case with minimal drama, making it further advantageous to charge leaders who have made damning public statements. “It’s important the prosecution proceed quickly … to a resolution,” Hayes said. “Let’s not have a legal show here … Let’s just show that the courts have a role to play and the rule of law means something.”

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said he was pleased that key militia leaders were facing potentially serious punishments. “Some of those people videotaped themselves committing crimes. It’s pretty straightforward.”

Todd Bethell, a 50-year-old resident of San Diego, California, who arrived at the refuge on Monday, said that law enforcement allowed him to leave early on Wednesday morning in the middle of the night. “They were very nice,” he said, noting that officials asked him a series of questions about who was left at the occupation and what kind of weapons they might have.

They asked me how angry people are and what’s the atmosphere like,” Bethell recalled. “I felt fairly calm with these guys.”

Bretzing told reporters that the final four have said they want to leave without facing arrest, but he noted that the FBI has never made any promises about free passage out of the refuge.

Once officials established a blockade this week, it became much more difficult for occupiers to leave free of consequence, he added.

Had they left [earlier], they obviously would’ve been able to leave the refuge, because there was no one there to take them into custody,” Bretzing said.


Finland to decline asylum to & deport 20,000 migrants

January 29, 2016


Over 60 percent of the migrants who arrived in Finland last year are likely to fail in their asylum pleas, meaning that around 20,000 of them will be deported, the Finnish Interior Ministry said.

Paivi Nerg, the Interior Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, told Reuters, “20,000 is the estimate we are working with at the moment, but the number of asylum seekers who decide to return voluntarily could change it.”

In an interview with AFP, Nerg said that 65 percent of the 32,000 migrants who arrived in the country last year “will get a negative decision.”

It’s a normal percentage of refusals, she explained, adding that it’s only the overall number of asylum seekers that has grown.

In 2014, for example, just 3,651 people applied for asylum in Finland, of which 56 percent were declined.

Last year, the Finnish government tightened the process for granting asylum to refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia, citing the improved security situation in some parts of those countries.

Iraqis make up nearly two-thirds of all the migrants seeking asylum in Finland, and two flights have been chartered to transport deportees back to Iraq in the following months, she said.

Nerg said that some 4,000 asylum seekers have already withdrawn their applications voluntarily and the authorities are hoping more people will do the same.

Another 2015 law envisaged a voluntary return model, in which Finland pays up to €1,000 for every migrant’s ticket home.

The legislation has been criticized by many in Finland, but Nerg said that it’s more cost-efficient than deportation.

If one is expelled by force, it’s up to the Finnish state to pay for the flight and police officers guarding it. It’s a lot more expensive,” she told the Helsingin Sanomat paper.

According to the Permanent Secretary, separate transit centers will be established for those leaving Finland voluntarily and for those being deported.

All of last year’s asylum applications will be processed by the end of August, she said.

Earlier this week, Finland’s neighbor, Sweden, said that according to its estimates, it will reject up to 80,000 of the 163,000 asylum applications it received in 2015.

The Swedish news comes as no surprise. We have the same situation here (in Finland),” Nerg said.

The official said she expects more rejections across Europe, wondering, “How many there’ll be in Germany, for example?”

Europe is going through its biggest ever refugee crisis since it accepted over a million refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East in 2015.


Mid East Mendacity

by Harry von Johnston PhD

It is interesting to note the parallels between the Evangelical Christians and the Holocaust Jewish religious/political movements.

And these parallels are most certainly there.

Both are oriented to gaining political and economic power.

Both have made extensive use of fictional writings. In the case of the Evangelical Christians, the Rapture and the Battle of Armageddon which are recent inventions (ca 1910) by a Charles Parham Fox and are not in the Bible. Parham Fox was a convicted thief and child molester.

Also, note that none of the Gospels were contemporary with the purported career of Jesus and in the ensuing centuries, have been constantly rewritten to suit current political needs. Further, the mainstay of Evangelical Christians is the so-called ‘Book of Revelations’ purported to have been written by John the Devine, Jesus’ most intimate friend. This was certainly not written by someone living at the time of Jesus’ alleged ministry but over fifty years later. The actual author was one John of Patmos who was resident at the Roman lunatic colony located on the island of Patmos. This particular work is beloved of Evangelicals because it is so muddled, obscure and bizarre that any meaning can, and is, attributed to it.

I refer the reader to “Foundations of Christianity” by Karl Kautsky (a Jewish German, early Communist, and secretary to Engels)

The nationalistic Zionist movement does not have a great body of historical supportive material so, like the early Christians, they have simply invented it. These fictions include, but certainly are not limited to, “The Painted Bird” by Kosinski, (later admitted by its author to be an invented fraud before his suicide, ) and “Fragments” by “Binjimin Wilkomersky” ( A Swiss Protestant named Bruno Dossecker who was born in 1944) that is mostly copied from the Kosinski book and consists of ‘recovered memory,’ and of course the highly-propagandized favorite “Anne Frank Diary” which was proven, beyond a doubt, by the German BKA(Bundes Kriminal Amt, an official German forensic agency) as a forgery, made circa 1949 (ball point ink was used on paper made after 1948 and the handwriting completely different from the original Frank girl’s school papers still extant) All of these frauds have been, and still are, considered as seminal truths by the Holocaust supporters and the discovery of fakery loudly denied by them, and questioners accused of being ‘Nazis.’  This closely parallels the same anger expressed by the Evangelicals when their stories about the Rapture or the Battle of Armageddon are questioned by anyone. Here, doubters are accused of being ‘Satanists’ and ‘Secular Humanists.’

I refer the reader to “The Holocaust Industry” by Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish academic and the son of genuine survivors of the German Concentration Camp system.

When confronted with period and very authentic evidence that the death toll among Jewish prisoners never approached even a million, or that there were no gas chambers in use at any prison camp, the standard, and badly flawed counter argument is that while the accuracy of the period German documents is not in question, as everyone knows that 6 millions of Jews perished, therefore the names are on so-called ‘secret lists.’

When asked where a researcher could view these documents (the actual German SS records, complete, are located in the Russian Central Archives in Moscow) the ludicrous response is that because these lists are secret, no one has ever seen them! This rationale does not even bear comment.

The Christians have their Passion of the Christ, which may or may not have happened, (it was in direct opposition to Roman law which governed Judea at the time,) and the Jews have their long agony of the Holocaust, which is an elaborate and fictional construction based on fragmentary facts. A Jewish supporter, Deborah Lipstadt ( a well-known academic) has said repeatedly that the word holocaust must be capitalized and can only be used to discuss the enormous suffering of the Jewish people. The huge genocidal programs practiced by the Turks against Armenian Christians in 1916 and the even larger massacres by Pol Pot in Southeast Asia may never be likened to the absolutely unique Jewish suffering, according to current Zionist-Holocaust Jewish dogma.

Both stress the suffering and death of their icons, in the former case, the leader of their cult, which initially consisted entirely of very poor Jews, and in the second, an entire people. Both sides have enormous public relations machinery in place which is used constantly to promulgate both faiths and both are hysterically opposed to any questioning or debate on any aspects of their faith.

The issues of suffering, death and prosecution are both used to fortify their positions in society and render it difficult for anyone to attack them. These issues are also used to gain political power (for the Evangelicals) and money (for the Zionist-Holocausters)

Both of these groups seek a high moral ground from which to attack any questioning of their faith and because many of the adherents to both beliefs are aware that their houses are based on sand, fight fiercely lest a storm arise, beat upon both houses and thereby cause a great fall (to be Biblical in expression.)


Top ten most dangerous viruses in the world

Bird flu, Ebola and now Zika – there seems to be news on a new dangerous virus almost every day. But so far, experts are saying that Zika itself isn’t as bad as HIV, Ebola and these other eight viruses.

January 26, 2016


1. The most dangerous virus is the Marburg virus. It is named after a small and idyllic town on the river Lahn – but that has nothing to do with the disease itself. The Marburg virus is a hemorrhagic fever virus. As with Ebola, the Marburg virus causes convulsions and bleeding of mucous membranes, skin and organs. It has a fatality rate of 90 percent.

2. There are five strains of the Ebola virus, each named after countries and regions in Africa: Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston. The Zaire Ebola virus is the deadliest, with a mortality rate of 90 percent. It is the strain currently spreading through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and beyond. Scientists say flying foxes probably brought the Zaire Ebola virus into cities.

3. The Hantavirus describes several types of viruses. It is named after a river where American soldiers were first thought to have been infected with the Hantavirus, during the Korean War in 1950. Symptoms include lung disease, fever and kidney failure.

4. The various strains of bird flu regularly cause panic – which is perhaps justified because the mortality rate is 70 percent. But in fact the risk of contracting the H5N1 strain – one of the best known – is quite low. You can only be infected through direct contact with poultry. It is said this explains why most cases appear in Asia, where people often live close to chickens.

5. A nurse in Nigeria was the first person to be infected with the Lassa virus. The virus is transmitted by rodents. Cases can be endemic – which means the virus occurs in a specific region, such as in western Africa, and can reoccur there at any time. Scientists assume that 15 percent of rodents in western Africa carry the virus.

6. The Junin virus is associated with Argentine hemorrhagic fever. People infected with the virus suffer from tissue inflammation, sepsis and skin bleeding. The problem is that the symptoms can appear to be so common that the disease is rarely detected or identified in the first instance.

7. The Crimea-Congo fever virus is transmitted by ticks. It is similar to the Ebola and Marburg viruses in the way it progresses. During the first days of infection, sufferers present with pin-sized bleedings in the face, mouth and the pharynx.

8. The Machupo virus is associated with Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, also known as black typhus. The infection causes high fever, accompanied by heavy bleedings. It progresses similar to the Junin virus. The virus can be transmitted from human to human, and rodents often the carry it.

9. Scientists discovered the Kyasanur Forest Virus (KFD) virus in woodlands on the southwestern coast of India in 1955. It is transmitted by ticks, but scientists say it is difficult to determine any carriers. It is assumed that rats, birds and boars could be hosts. People infected with the virus suffer from high fever, strong headaches and muscle pain which can cause bleedings.

      1. Dengue fever is a constant threat. If you’re planning a holiday in the tropics, get informed about dengue. Transmitted by mosquitoes, dengue affects between 50 and 100 million people a year in popular holiday destinations such as Thailand and India. But it’s more of a problem for the 2 billion people who live in areas that are threatened by dengue fever.


   Comment: Several years ago person or persons unknown, broke into a Swiss laboratory that was working on smallpox vaccine and stole all the verola virus. Verola is the clinical name for smallpox. To this day, no one knows who took it. Muslim extremists are strongly suspected but there is no proof. It is feared, from rumors, that this is intended to be used against Israel but the terrorists are too stupid not to know that smallpox would spread world-wide and the death tool is extimated to be 35-40%. Aside from Russia, there is little in the way of smallpox vaccine extant in the world today.


Safe countries of origin?

Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia will soon be declared as safe countries of origin. As a consequence, people from those countries will basically have no right to asylum in Germany anymore – a controversial decision.

January 29, 2016


The three Maghreb countries, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria will be placed on Germany’s list of “safe countries of origin.” In practice, this means that people entering Germany from those countries basically have no right to asylum and cannot permanently reside in Germany on the basis of asylum claims.

The government is thereby responding to the increased number of asylum seekers from these countries. According to figures from Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), nearly 2,300 Algerians and 3,000 Moroccans traveled to Germany in December 2015. That means altogether 5,300 people entered the country, which is a substantial increase over the full year 2014, when 4,000 people from the two countries arrived in Germany.

After the New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne; Algerians and Moroccans found themselves under the harsh spotlight of the public and police authorities. A great number of the alleged perpetrators came from the two North African countries

Unsatisfactory human rights conditions in Morocco

After the unrest that was triggered by the incidents on New Year’s Eve, there has been a keen political interest in reducing the number of Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian refugees as a whole – even the people who have already arrived in Germany will be sent back to their countries of origin.

The human rights situation in Algeria and Morocco is, however, not good. Between 2010 and 2014, the human rights organization Amnesty International recorded 173 cases of torture in Morocco. Eight people were legally prosecuted after they had reported torture they had suffered or made it public. Likewise, Amnesty speaks of “numerous” unfair court proceedings. Several refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, who made it to the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta and were subsequently sent back to Moroccan authorities, were exposed to excessive violence.

In an interview with the German radio station “Deutschlandfunk”, the political scientist Werner Ruf, who teaches at the German University of Kassel, said Germany should negotiate human rights with Morocco. “If you want to put pressure on a country, like Morocco, then you cannot court it on one hand; you cannot celebrate at Green Week and celebrate tourism, or ignore the fact that Western Sahara is still illegally occupied by Morocco. Then you have to find out where you can begin to put pressure on the country. That will, of course, have repercussions on our own economy.”

Doubtful rule of law in Algeria

Algeria also has a poor human rights record. According to Ruf, the civil war in the 1990s that followed a coup nullifying an Islamist electoral victory is still not over. Amnesty International confirms this assertion: the Algerian intelligence service has arrested and tortured several Islamists. The events of the recent past in particular make it difficult to view Algeria as a constitutional state, said Werner Ruf.

“If you think about the Algerian civil war – and it is still not over – and the fact that between 10,000 to 30,000 people have disappeared, which means, as rule, they have been killed and never reappeared again – then you cannot, as the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany, talk about human and then define safe countries of origin at will.”

The decision to no longer recognize refugees from Algeria and Morocco as asylum seekers on the grounds that they come from safe countries of origin, is problematic, explained the Algerian activist Randah Uthman. Even more so, as she believes that people of Maghreb origin who are born in Europe become criminals and not refugees. She also asserts the claim that people are fleeing from Algeria and Morocco for humanitarian reasons. “I do not condemn anyone who leaves behind the poverty and hunger of their country to live a better life elsewhere. Is it a crime to seek a better life?”Criticism of the Arab states is necessary

The France-based Tunisian activist Munif Kiylani, however, draws attention to another point. In his opinion, criticism only goes only one way. One side is focused on much too often. “Why do we only ask European countries to adhere to human rights? Why do we not ask the same of Arab countries, especially the Gulf States?”


Masked men in Stockholm threaten to ‘punish’ refugee children

Four charged after up to 100 men hand out leaflets with message ‘It’s enough now’, following death of refugee centre employee

January 30, 2016

by Sally Desmond

The Guardian

A gang of masked men have been detained in Stockholm after distributing leaflets threatening to punish “north African street children roaming” the Swedish capital.

Police said one man had been charged with assaulting a police officer and the others had been charged with wearing a mask in public, which is illegal in Sweden, and for causing a public disturbance.

A police spokesman told local media the men detained were believed to have gathered “with the purpose of attacking refugee children”.

According to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, up to 100 masked men marched into central Stockholm on Friday to hand out leaflets carrying the message “It’s enough now” and threatening to give the “north African street children who are roaming around” the “punishment they deserve”.

Fredrik Nylén, of Stockholm police, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the men were thought to be members of hooligan gangs linked to Stockholm football teams.

This week an employee at a refugee centre for unaccompanied youths in Mölndal, near Gothenburg, was fatally stabbed, allegedly by a young man living at the centre.

The killing of Alexandra Mezher, 22, has led to questions about overcrowded conditions in some refugee centres, with too few adults and employees to take care of children, many of whom are traumatised by war.

central station. Photograph: IBL/REX/Shutterstock

Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said after visiting Mölndal: “I think many people are concerned and worried that there will be more violence since Sweden has received so many unaccompanied children and young people. Many of those who come young to Sweden have traumatic experiences, and there are no easy answers.”

According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the number of threats and violent incidents at asylum facilities more than doubled in 2015 compared with the previous year, as Sweden received a record number of refugee arrivals. The number of arson attacks targeting asylum shelters has also risen, with at least two dozen centres destroyed or damaged by fire last year.

Sweden received 160,000 arrivals last year, but numbers have dropped since photo ID checks were introduced this month.


German right-leaning AfD leader calls for police right to shoot at refugees

Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Frauke Petry has said police should have the right to shoot illegal migrants at the border “if necessary.” The comments have been met with outrage from opposing politicians.

January 30, 2016


Speaking during an interview with the Saturday edition of German newspaper “Mannheimer Morgen,” Frauke Petry said border guards “must prevent illegal border crossings and even use firearms if necessary.”

“It’s in the law,” she said, to which the paper asked, “There’s a law in Germany that contains a firing order?”

“I didn’t use the word ‘firing order,'” Petry responded, adding that no police officer would want to shoot a refugee.”I don’t want that either. Armed force is the last resort,” she said, arguing that agreements with Austria and EU border checks are paramount in preventing the situation from escalating.

“We need comprehensive controls to prevent so many unregistered asylum seekers from crossing the border,” Petry said.

Petry did not provide an answer on how she or her party proposed to control Germany’s borders, saying that the paper was trying to provoke her into creating the headline “Petry wants border fences.”

‘Dangerous party’

The AfD leader’s comments were met with outrage on Saturday. The parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), Thomas Oppermann, said Petry had “completely lost her way politically.”

“Her proposal is reminiscent of the firing order in the GDR,” Oppermann said, adding that the “last German politician who was shooting at refugees was Erich Honnecker,” who led the former East Germany from 1971 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Green Party politician Volker Beck said Petry’s statement showed “that the AFD have their daggers drawn against the law.”

“This shows that the party is really dangerous,” Beck said.

End in sight?

In a bid to tackle the ongoing refugee crisis, Germany reintroduced checks at the Austrian border last September. Since then, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has extended the controls several times, most recently in November. He has also said he could imagine continuing border checks until the refugee crisis is solved.

In comments published by German news magazine “Der Spiegel” on Saturday, de Maiziere said the refugee crisis needed a solution within a matter of weeks.

“We want clarity by the time spring arrives,” the interior minister said, adding that the German government needed to ensure that the influx of refugees doesn’t massively increase again when weather conditions improve.


Petry’s comments on Saturday came as around 200 AfD supporters gathered in Neubrandenburg to protest against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s asylum policy.

Arriving in the town for a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party conference, Merkel was greeted with chants of “traitor” and “Merkel out!”

The chancellor’s popularity has fallen in recent months, particularly as the numbers of asylum seekers entering Germany from the Middle East and North Africa have increased.

According to an Insa opinion poll, published Friday by “Focus” magazine, two in three AfD members are in favor of the chancellor resigning. The survey also found that 39.9 percent of Germans considered Merkel’s refugee policy to be grounds for her to step down.

ksb/sms (AFP, dpa)


US taunts China & neighbors with new warship sail-by

January 30, 2016


The US Navy has sent a guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of an island in the South China Sea which Beijing considers its sovereign territory. The move is meant as a challenge to the Chinese claim.

The USS Curtis Wilbur sailed unopposed near the Triton Island in the Paracel Islands archipelago, Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told the media. The island is administrated by China, but is also contested by Taiwan and Vietnam.

“This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants – China, Taiwan and Vietnam – to restrict navigation rights and freedoms,” Davis said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called the sail-by illegal, saying permission from the Chinese authorities was necessary.

The mission was part of the so-called freedom of navigation campaign, in which the US is seeking to assert its right to freely sail in the South China Sea. The region is one of the busiest maritime traffic routes, accounting for more than $5 trillion of world trade shipping annually. The US does not want to be required to seek prior permission to sail past the many islands in the sea.

“No claimants were notified prior to the transit, which is consistent with our normal process and international law,” Davis said.

The US Navy conducted a similar operation in October, when it sent the guided missile destroyer Lassen to sail pass a man-made Island in the South China Sea. Beijing insists its sovereignty over the island gives it territorial rights over a 12-nautical mile zone around it.

China rebuked the move at the time, saying the US was acting recklessly and risked provoking an armed confrontation.

Several Pacific nations have conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea. China has ramped up the pursuit of its claims in the past few years amid a military build-up.

Most of the traffic sailing through the sea is bound to or from China, which would make it the biggest loser should it be disrupted somehow.


American Democracy Down for the Count

Or What Is It the Scandinavians Have That We Don’t?

by Ann Jones


Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting true things about America’s disastrous wars and so I left Afghanistan for another remote mountainous country far away. It was the polar opposite of Afghanistan: a peaceful, prosperous land where nearly everybody seemed to enjoy a good life, on the job and in the family.

It’s true that they didn’t work much, not by American standards anyway. In the U.S., full-time salaried workers supposedly laboring 40 hours a week actually average 49, with almost 20% clocking more than 60. These people, on the other hand, worked only about 37 hours a week, when they weren’t away on long paid vacations. At the end of the work day, about four in the afternoon (perhaps three in the summer), they had time to enjoy a hike in the forest or a swim with the kids or a beer with friends — which helps explain why, unlike so many Americans, they are pleased with their jobs.

Often I was invited to go along. I found it refreshing to hike and ski in a country with no land mines, and to hang out in cafés unlikely to be bombed. Gradually, I lost my warzone jitters and settled into the slow, calm, pleasantly uneventful stream of life there.

Four years on, thinking I should settle down, I returned to the United States. It felt quite a lot like stepping back into that other violent, impoverished world, where anxiety runs high and people are quarrelsome. I had, in fact, come back to the flip side of Afghanistan and Iraq: to what America’s wars have done to America. Where I live now, in the Homeland, there are not enough shelters for the homeless. Most people are either overworked or hurting for jobs; housing is overpriced; hospitals, crowded and understaffed; schools, largely segregated and not so good. Opioid or heroin overdose is a popular form of death; and men in the street threaten women wearing hijab. Did the American soldiers I covered in Afghanistan know they were fighting for this?

Ducking the SubjectOne night I tuned in to the Democrats’ presidential debate to see if they had any plans to restore the America I used to know. To my amazement, I heard the name of my peaceful mountain hideaway: Norway. Bernie Sanders was denouncing America’s crooked version of “casino capitalism” that floats the already rich ever higher and flushes the working class. He said that we ought to “look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

He believes, he added, in “a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.” That certainly sounds like Norway. For ages they’ve worked at producing things for the use of everyone — not the profit of a few — so I was all ears, waiting for Sanders to spell it out for Americans.

But Hillary Clinton quickly countered, “We are not Denmark.” Smiling, she said, “I love Denmark,” and then delivered a patriotic punch line: “We are the United States of America.” Well, there’s no denying that. She praised capitalism and “all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.” She didn’t seem to know that Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians do that, too, and with much higher rates of success.

The truth is that almost a quarter of American startups are not founded on brilliant new ideas, but on the desperation of men or women who can’t get a decent job. The majority of all American enterprises are solo ventures having zero payrolls, employing no one but the entrepreneur, and often quickly wasting away. Sanders said that he was all for small business, too, but that meant nothing “if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.” (As George Carlin said, “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”)

In that debate, no more was heard of Denmark, Sweden, or Norway. The audience was left in the dark. Later, in a speech at Georgetown University, Sanders tried to clarify his identity as a Democratic socialist. He said he’s not the kind of Socialist (with a capital S) who favors state ownership of anything like the means of production. The Norwegian government, on the other hand, owns the means of producing lots of public assets and is the major stockholder in many a vital private enterprise.

I was dumbfounded. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden practice variations of a system that works much better than ours, yet even the Democratic presidential candidates, who say they love or want to learn from those countries, don’t seem to know how they actually work.

Why We’re Not Denmark

Proof that they do work is delivered every year in data-rich evaluations by the U.N. and other international bodies. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual report on international well-being, for example, measures 11 factors, ranging from material conditions like affordable housing and employment to quality of life matters like education, health, life expectancy, voter participation, and overall citizen satisfaction. Year after year, all the Nordic countries cluster at the top, while the United States lags far behind. In addition, Norway ranked first on the U.N. Development Program’s Human Development Index for 12 of the last 15 years, and it consistently tops international comparisons of such matters as democracy, civil and political rights, and freedom of expression and the press.

What is it, though, that makes the Scandinavians so different?  Since the Democrats can’t tell you and the Republicans wouldn’t want you to know, let me offer you a quick introduction. What Scandinavians call the Nordic Model is a smart and simple system that starts with a deep commitment to equality and democracy. That’s two concepts combined in a single goal because, as far as they are concerned, you can’t have one without the other.

Right there they part company with capitalist America, now the most unequal of all the developed nations, and consequently a democracy no more. Political scientists say it has become an oligarchy — a country run at the expense of its citizenry by and for the super rich. Perhaps you noticed that.

In the last century, Scandinavians, aiming for their egalitarian goal, refused to settle solely for any of the ideologies competing for power — not capitalism or fascism, not Marxist socialism or communism. Geographically stuck between powerful nations waging hot and cold wars for such doctrines, Scandinavians set out to find a path in between. That path was contested — by socialist-inspired workers on the one hand and capitalist owners and their elite cronies on the other — but it led in the end to a mixed economy. Thanks largely to the solidarity and savvy of organized labor and the political parties it backed, the long struggle produced a system that makes capitalism more or less cooperative, and then redistributes equitably the wealth it helps to produce. Struggles like this took place around the world in the twentieth century, but the Scandinavians alone managed to combine the best ideas of both camps, while chucking out the worst.

In 1936, the popular U.S. journalist Marquis Childs first described the result to Americans in the book Sweden: The Middle Way. Since then, all the Scandinavian countries and their Nordic neighbors Finland and Iceland have been improving upon that hybrid system. Today in Norway, negotiations between the Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise determine the wages and working conditions of most capitalist enterprises, public and private, that create wealth, while high but fair progressive income taxes fund the state’s universal welfare system, benefitting everyone. In addition, those confederations work together to minimize the disparity between high-wage and lower-wage jobs. As a result, Norway ranks with Sweden, Denmark, and Finland among the most income-equal countries in the world, and its standard of living tops the charts.

So here’s the big difference: in Norway, capitalism serves the people. The government, elected by the people, sees to that. All eight of the parties that won parliamentary seats in the last national election, including the conservative Høyre party now leading the government, are committed to maintaining the welfare state. In the U.S., however, neoliberal politics put the foxes in charge of the henhouse, and capitalists have used the wealth generated by their enterprises (as well as financial and political manipulations) to capture the state and pluck the chickens. They’ve done a masterful job of chewing up organized labor. Today, only 11% of American workers belong to a union. In Norway, that number is 52%; in Denmark, 67%; in Sweden, 70%.

In the U.S., oligarchs maximize their wealth and keep it, using the “democratically elected” government to shape policies and laws favorable to the interests of their foxy class. They bamboozle the people by insisting, as Hillary Clinton did at that debate, that all of us have the “freedom” to create a business in the “free” marketplace, which implies that being hard up is our own fault.

In the Nordic countries, on the other hand, democratically elected governments give their populations freedom from the market by using capitalism as a tool to benefit everyone. That liberates their people from the tyranny of the mighty profit motive that warps so many American lives, leaving them freer to follow their own dreams — to become poets or philosophers, bartenders or business owners, as they please.

Family Matters

Maybe our politicians don’t want to talk about the Nordic Model because it shows so clearly that capitalism can be put to work for the many, not just the few.

Consider the Norwegian welfare state. It’s universal. In other words, aid to the sick or the elderly is not charity, grudgingly donated by elites to those in need. It is the right of every individual citizen. That includes every woman, whether or not she is somebody’s wife, and every child, no matter its parentage. Treating every person as a citizen affirms the individuality of each and the equality of all. It frees every person from being legally possessed by another — a husband, for example, or a tyrannical father.

Which brings us to the heart of Scandinavian democracy: the equality of women and men. In the 1970s, Norwegian feminists marched into politics and picked up the pace of democratic change. Norway needed a larger labor force, and women were the answer. Housewives moved into paid work on an equal footing with men, nearly doubling the tax base. That has, in fact, meant more to Norwegian prosperity than the coincidental discovery of North Atlantic oil reserves. The Ministry of Finance recently calculated that those additional working mothers add to Norway’s net national wealth a value equivalent to the country’s “total petroleum wealth” — currently held in the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, worth more than $873 billion. By 1981, women were sitting in parliament, in the prime minister’s chair, and in her cabinet.

American feminists also marched for such goals in the 1970s, but the Big Boys, busy with their own White House intrigues, initiated a war on women that set the country back and still rages today in brutal attacks on women’s basic civil rights, health care, and reproductive freedom. In 1971, thanks to the hard work of organized feminists, Congress passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Child Development Bill to establish a multi-billion dollar national day care system for the children of working parents. In 1972, President Richard Nixon vetoed it, and that was that. In 1972, Congress also passed a bill (first proposed in 1923) to amend the Constitution to grant equal rights of citizenship to women.  Ratified by only 35 states, three short of the required 38, that Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, was declared dead in 1982, leaving American women in legal limbo.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, obliterating six decades of federal social welfare policy “as we know it,” ending federal cash payments to the nation’s poor, and consigning millions of female heads of household and their children to poverty, where many still dwell 20 years later. Today, nearly half a century after Nixon trashed national child care, even privileged women, torn between their underpaid work and their kids, are overwhelmed.

Things happened very differently in Norway.  There, feminists and sociologists pushed hard against the biggest obstacle still standing in the path to full democracy: the nuclear family. In the 1950s, the world-famous American sociologist Talcott Parsons had pronounced that arrangement — with hubby at work and the little wife at home — the ideal setup in which to socialize children. But in the 1970s, the Norwegian state began to deconstruct that undemocratic ideal by taking upon itself the traditional unpaid household duties of women. Caring for the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled became the basic responsibilities of the universal welfare state, freeing women in the workforce to enjoy both their jobs and their families. That’s another thing American politicians — still, boringly, mostly odiously boastful men — surely don’t want you to think about: that patriarchy can be demolished and everyone be the better for it.

Paradoxically, setting women free made family life more genuine. Many in Norway say it has made both men and women more themselves and more alike: more understanding and happier. It also helped kids slip from the shadow of helicopter parents. In Norway, mother and father in turn take paid parental leave from work to see a newborn through its first year or more. At age one, however, children start attending a neighborhood barnehage (kindergarten) for schooling spent largely outdoors. By the time kids enter free primary school at age six, they are remarkably self-sufficient, confident, and good-natured. They know their way around town, and if caught in a snowstorm in the forest, how to build a fire and find the makings of a meal.  (One kindergarten teacher explained, “We teach them early to use an axe so they understand it’s a tool, not a weapon.”)

To Americans, the notion of a school “taking away” your child to make her an axe wielder is monstrous.  In fact, Norwegian kids, who are well acquainted in early childhood with many different adults and children, know how to get along with grown ups and look after one another.  More to the point, though it’s hard to measure, it’s likely that Scandinavian children spend more quality time with their work-isn’t-everything parents than does a typical middle-class American child being driven by a stressed-out mother from music lessons to karate practice.  For all these reasons and more, the international organization Save the Children cites Norway as the best country on Earth in which to raise kids, while the U.S. finishes far down the list in 33rd place.

Don’t Take My Word For It

This little summary just scratches the surface of Scandinavia, so I urge curious readers to Google away.  But be forewarned. You’ll find much criticism of all the Nordic Model countries. The structural matters I’ve described — of governance and family — are not the sort of things visible to tourists or visiting journalists, so their comments are often obtuse. Take the American tourist/blogger who complained that he hadn’t been shown the “slums” of Oslo. (There are none.) Or the British journalist who wrote that Norwegian petrol is too expensive. (Though not for Norwegians, who are, in any case, leading the world in switching to electric cars.)

Neoliberal pundits, especially the Brits, are always beating up on the Scandinavians in books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs, predicting the imminent demise of their social democracies and bullying them to forsake the best political economy on the planet. Self-styled experts still in thrall to Margaret Thatcher tell Norwegians they must liberalize their economy and privatize everything short of the royal palace. Mostly, the Norwegian government does the opposite, or nothing at all, and social democracy keeps on ticking.

It’s not perfect, of course. It has always been a carefully considered work in progress. Governance by consensus takes time and effort.  You might think of it as slow democracy.  But it’s light years ahead of us.


Apple ‘secretly working’ on virtual reality device

January 30, 2016


Tech giant Apple is secretly hiring a highly qualified team of researchers to develop a Virtual Reality device to rival Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Microsoft’s HoloLens, the Financial Times reports.

The California-based company has reportedly employed “hundreds of staff from a series of carefully targeted acquisitions” and those “poached from companies that are working on next-generation headset technologies including Microsoft,” the newspaper said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cooksaid VR “is really cool and has some interesting applications.”

Earlier, the FT reported that Doug Bowman, one of the top US researchers in virtual reality had joined the Apple team. His academic profile says that Bowman focused his research on “three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments”.

In 2015, reports emerged that Apple had won a patent for an iPhone-compatible headset that would display virtual reality images, putting the company in competition with the likes of Google and Samsung in the VR market.

The patent detailed a head-mounted portable electronic device that an iPhone can be inserted into to display virtual reality – the simulation of physical presence in real or imagined settings. It includes a remote control to enable a user to change screen content while wearing the headset-iPhone display.

Facebook acquired the VR headset developer Rift in 2014 for $2 billion, and Google is developing a VR headset known as Cardboard.

Microsoft had also joined the club, unveiling its HoloLens augmented reality headset that projects holographic images.

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