TBR News January 4, 2018

Jan 04 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 4, 2018:”First we learn that Trump’s top strategist has said unwelcome things about the President and that the latter is trying to have his lawyers block the production and sale of the book. This will prove to be impossible and will result in the book becoming a best-seller. Then we learn that the born-again US Attorney General wants to block the legal sale of marijuana. Over 30 states have approved this and the courts have ruled against Federal interference but a True Christian listens only to the tiny voices in his head and not to reality. There are also many people who believe Alice in Wonderland was written about real events and many today believe that Kennedy was killed by mutant dwarves, or perhaps it was J. Edgar Hoover pulling the trigger. Sessions ought to contemplate the humiliation his friend, Judge Moore, suffered at the polls before he overloads his mouth.”


Table of Contents

  • Let’s End the Israeli Tie-That-Binds
  • Trump lawyer seeks to block insider book on White House
  • Trump’s Bannon outburst removes any shred of presidential decorum
  • Trump Bannon row: 11 explosive claims from new book
  • Trump administration to end Obama-era marijuana policy -source
  • Fake news ‘casts wide net but has little effect’
  • The Iranian Rebellion: Everybody’s Wrong
  • Intel, ARM chip flaws: What you need to know
  • Who really was Jesus and was he gay?
  • ‘Bomb cyclone’ brings travel chaos and deaths to US north-east


Let’s End the Israeli Tie-That-Binds

A new Declaration of Independence for 2018

January 2, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

Now that 2017 has ended with a whimper it is possible to look forward to what the new year might bring. Nuclear armed North Korea is the potential flash point for a new war, but unless leader Kim Jong-un is actually intent on personal and national suicide, it is unlikely that Pyongyang will take the steps necessary to escalate and trigger such an event. Far more dangerous is the Trump White House, which seems to confuse acting tough with acting smart. Every time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentions negotiating he is contradicted by Nikki Haley or the president saying that diplomacy has played out, but the reality is that the incineration of the Korean peninsula and the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even millions, which such a war would inevitably produce, might just be a bridge too far even for the generals and assorted psychopaths that appear to be running the show. Which means that at a certain point the diplomats, perhaps in an arrangement brokered by Russia or China, will have to take over. Let us hope so anyway.

And the United States has also shot itself in the foot regarding Russia, an adversary with which Donald Trump once upon a time wanted to improve relations. But that was all before a politically driven Russiagate happened, turning Moscow into the enemy of choice once again, as it once was during the Cold War. In any event dealmaker Trump did not appreciate that you can’t improve relations when you threaten a vital interest of those you are wanting to improve relations with. The United States and its allies persist in running military exercises right on Russia’s borders under the false assumption that President Vladimir Putin heads an expansionist power. The recent decision to sell offensive weapons to Ukraine is a move that serves no American interest whatsoever while at the same time threatening Moscow’s vital interests since Ukraine sits right on its doorstep. It is a bad move that guarantees that relations with Russia will continue to be in the deep freeze for the foreseeable future.

Note that all the major problems that America is experiencing versus the rest of the world are pretty much self-inflicted. In my view, looking beyond Russia and North Korea, America’s principal foreign policy problems continue to be centered on the Middle East and all originate in the deliberate instability generated by Israel, currently joined in an unholy alliance by its former enemy Saudi Arabia. The Tel Aviv (excuse me, Jerusalem) to Riyadh axis is current working hard to bring a new war to the Middle East as part of their plan to have the United States military destroy Iran as a major regional power.

One might reasonably observe that the United States has no vital interest in what either Israel or Saudi Arabia does, but it does have some minor interests in the region, which include not allowing the area to become a breeding ground for transnational terrorist groups and safeguarding the movement of energy products so there will be no surge in prices that would hurt the energy dependent U.S. economy. That’s about it, and the interests neither include nor justify starting World War III.

The problem with Israel is that it and its powerful billion-dollar domestic lobby have their hooks so deeply embedded in the American political system as well as in the national media that the Jewish state is virtually bullet-proof. Most recently, we have learned that Facebook has been deleting critical accounts at the request of the Israeli government. Meanwhile, that same government has been working hard to make any consideration of Palestine or the Palestinians disappear, recently successfully demanding that the National Basketball Association remove a website reference to Palestine, which Israel’s sports minister described as an “imaginary state.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver apparently agreed. Even recent blockbuster revelations that Israel rather than Russia had been corrupting Team Trump produced a few Israelgate stories before disappearing completely down the memory hole.

Israel has consistently been able to make whoever is in the White House dance to its tune without suffering any serious consequences. With Donald Trump, one might even argue that it has been able to so condition the president that he goes around looking for things to do to please Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel has not even yet asked for. The moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is one such gift, something that pleases Israel so much that it is going to name a train station after the president, but which gives nothing but grief to the United States and to American citizens and businesses abroad.

Of course, one might argue that Trump had help in coming to his decision. He is surrounded by Orthodox Jews as well as Christian Zionists like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, all of whom appear to put Israel first, not exactly a good formula for “Making America Great Again.” The Jewish advisers also have financial and business ties to Israel, suggesting that Robert Mueller might look towards the Middle East if he actually wants to find foreign government interference in U.S. politics.

To cite only one recent example of how the constant pressure to please Israel and minimize its transgressions works in practice, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman apparently got into a pissing match with the State Department over its policy to refer to the Palestinian land that Israel has illegally stolen and settled as “occupied.” Friedman, a passionate supporter of the fanatical settlers who have done much of the occupying, would prefer a different adjective, possibly “improved” or “returned-to-original-owners.”

And Friedman might well be regarded as little more than a Zionist crank by comparison with Michael Makovsky, who heads the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Makovsky is much exercised over Iran’s alleged ambitions and wants to counter them by redrawing most of the borders in the Middle East. He intones “Maintaining Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen in their existing forms is unnatural and serves Iran’s interests.” Makovsky would like to break all those countries up into their component tribal, ethnic and religious parts, starting with separating the Kurdish region from Iraq and breaking Syria into three separate states. He does not mention that he is not original in this thinking as it reflects the Israeli Yinon Plan of the 1980s and the American neocon “Clean Break” proposal that was written by geniuses like Richard Perle, Doug Feith and David Wurmser and presented to Netanyahu in 1996. Makovsky also does not mention that if there is a country in the Middle East that has artificial borders and strong sectarian divisions in the area that it rules over it is Israel, but, of course use of the word “border” would be somewhat inaccurate as an expansionistic Israel has no declared borders at all.

And the media is fully complicit in playing Israel’s tune. A recent attempt to link Hezbollah to drug trafficking into the U.S., implicating by proxy Iran, would appear to be a completely fabricated story. I can go on and on about why America on moral grounds should not be supporting an apartheid regime loaded with racist thugs racist thugs from top to bottom, headed by a completely cynical regime that sends its “soldiers” into Palestinian areas to shoot people without legs and children, but it would only inflame the hasbarists that seem to gather like vultures anytime anyone writes or says anything negative about the “only democracy in the Middle East” and “America’s greatest and best ally.”When all else fails, the Israel-firsters resort to name calling. On Sunday, the Washington Post featured a full-page ad condemning New Zealand pop singer Lorde, whose crime was that she had decided to cancel a performance in Israel on political grounds. The ad, placed by “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach, absurdly called Lorde a bigot and “Jew-hater” while ludicrously linking her to the killing of civilians in Syria by virtue of the fact that she is willing to perform in Russia. Indeed, anyone who objects to Israel’s policies or to the strenuous efforts made by Jewish individuals or groups to promote the same is automatically dubbed “an anti-Semite.” Ditto for Americans who object to taxpayer money being used to put up and support the heavily politicized holocaust museums that seem to be popping up like mushrooms all across America. Those who protest are labeled “holocaust deniers.”

For those American Jews and Christian Zios who persist in their deep affection for Israel and choose to look the other way even as it tortures, kills, removes human organs and steals, I seriously ask for examples of Israel actually doing anything good for the United States and for the American people. What benefit does it provide in return for its constant interference in the U.S. political system and economy that nets it the many billions of dollars handed to it by the U.S. Treasury, billions more allowed as “charitable contributions,” and still billions more given in the form of coproduction projects and trade concessions?

What is the return for Washington trashing its own good name by protecting Israel in international fora like the United Nations, as has been occurring in spades since Nikki Haley appeared on the scene? When has Israel ever apologized or made amends for its virtually incessant spying on the U.S. and its thefts of American technology? And what about the attack on the USS Liberty fifty years ago which killed 34 Americans? The dwindling number of crew members are still waiting for an official inquiry that would make clear what Israel did on that day in June.

And finally, what would be the net gain for the U.S. if it gets prodded into a war with Iran in which it could quite plausibly lose an aircraft carrier or two while making traveling Americans prime targets for a new wave of terror attacks? The sad part is that it might be too late already. The Israeli media is reporting that the Trump and Netanyahu have signed a secret agreement to actively target and go after Iran over its alleged military programs. A war in which Americans will fight and die, not Israelis, is certainly being planned behind the scenes.

What I am arguing is that unlike the situations with Russia and North Korea, where the United States has gotten itself maneuvered into a corner where there are actual interests at stake, there is absolutely no national interest that compels Washington to do anything for Israel. The U.S. should pull the plug on the phony “special relationship” with Netanyahu and his nest of vipers. Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to work hard to accomplish just that.

Let’s boycott businesses and sport franchises whose owners are particularly fond of Israel’s settlements to send the message that there are consequences. Let’s talk about Israel, to be sure, but without the self-imposed censorship in the media and not through the mouths of the numerous gatekeepers that head so-called peace organizations, nor through the bought and paid congress-critters. Nor from the White House, which is rapidly becoming little more than a reliable echo chamber for Israeli interests. Let’s tell it like it is. If Americans are exposed to the hard truths about Israel it is hard to imagine that they will want to associate with it in any capacity.

Cut the tie that binds and do it now.


Trump lawyer seeks to block insider book on White House

January 4, 2018

by Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker

Washington Post

A lawyer representing President Trump sought Thursday to stop the publication of a new behind-the-scenes book about the White House that has already led Trump to angrily decry his former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

The legal notice — addressed to author Michael Wolff and the president of the book’s publisher — said Trump’s lawyers were pursuing possible charges including libel in connection with the forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

The letter by Beverly Hills-based attorney Charles J. Harder demanded the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book” or excerpts and summaries of its contents. The lawyers also seek a full copy of the book as part of their investigation.

The latest twist in the showdown came after lawyers accused Bannon of breaching a confidentiality agreement and Trump denounced his former aide as a self-aggrandizing political charlatan who has “lost his mind.”

It marked an abrupt and furious rupture with the onetime confidant that could have lasting political impact on the November midterms and beyond.

The White House’s sharp public break with Bannon, which came in response to unflattering comments he made about Trump and his family in a new book about his presidency, left the self-fashioned populist alienated from his chief patron and even more isolated in his attempts to remake the Republican Party by backing insurgent candidates.

Late Wednesday, lawyers for Trump sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon, arguing he violated the employment agreement he signed with the Trump Organization in numerous ways and also may have defamed the president. They ordered that he stop communicating either confidential and or disparaging information, and preserve all records in preparation for “imminent” legal action.

“You have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company,” read the letter from lawyer Charles Harder.

In a lengthy statement issued in the afternoon, Trump blamed Bannon — his former campaign manager and chief strategist who now heads the conservative Breitbart News website — for everything from leaks to the news media to the upset GOP loss in last month’s Senate race in Alabama. The president cast Bannon as a disgruntled former staffer whose chief goal is to stir up trouble.

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” the statement said. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

The White House also released a statement from the first lady’s office condemning Wolff’s book as a title to be found in the “bargain fiction” bin, while the Republican National Committee said Wolff has “a long history of making stuff up.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, devoted much of her Wednesday news briefing Wednesday to disputing Wolff’s claims and seeking to undermine Bannon’s credibility.

The response was a marked departure from mid-October, when Trump called Bannon “a friend of mine” and said he understood his perspective.

But the much anticipated account of life in Trump’s White House caught the president and his West Wing team off-guard, with the president huddling with White House communications director Hope Hicks, one of his most trusted advisers, and Sanders to craft the fiery statement, after calling friends for much of the morning. Aides thought they had more time to prepare for the book’s formal release.

Trump spent much of the day raging about the book to top aides, officials and advisers said, and Sanders described the president as “furious” and “disgusted.” As he fumed, some aides were still frantically searching for a copy of the book, and even senior aides such as Hicks had not seen it by the afternoon, officials said.

“He’s out of control,” one person with knowledge of Trump’s comments said. This person added that the president had been in an upbeat mood for much of Tuesday, continuing to brag about last month’s passage of the Republican tax bill even as he fired off combative tweets.

Trump also blasted others in the White House for talking to Wolff, who was frequently spotted wandering the West Wing with no escort or ensconced in Bannon’s office, especially during the early months of the administration.

Wolff said Trump was aware of the project and allowed others to participate. An excerpt of the book, published online in New York magazine, said the author conducted more than 200 interviews “over a period of 18 months with the president, most members of his senior staff, and many people to whom they in turn spoke.”

Sanders said that Wolff “never actually sat down with the president” since Trump took office and that the two men had only had one five- to seven-minute conversation “that had nothing to do, originally, with the book.”

One senior White House official said Trump advisers considered Wolff friendly and believed it would be beneficial to speak with him; this person also said that Wolff interviewed Trump. A second senior White House official said the president had viewed Bannon as a useful ally when he was frustrated with congressional leadership and that, while he didn’t consider Bannon a close confidant, he also didn’t want him as an enemy.

Allies said Bannon was largely incommunicado on Wednesday. He had considered issuing a statement denouncing the book and denying some of the quotes but was not able to do so before Trump went on the attack, they said.

After being forced from the White House in August, Bannon and the president still occasionally talked on the phone. But West Wing aides have long maintained that Bannon overstated the frequency of his calls with — and influence over — the president.

“If all of us are being honest with ourselves, I don’t think you would have found more than 2 percent of politicians or reporters who knew who Stephen K. Bannon was,” Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), said in a recent interview. “Trump had already won the nomination and the primary. Whether you like the president or not, he is responsible for his win.”

A White House official said call logs show Trump has spoken with Bannon only five times since the former adviser left and the official said most of the calls were initiated by Bannon. Trump, however, often uses cellphones to talk with outside advisers and confidants.

Trump had complained for several months about portrayals of Bannon as a political “Svengali,” according to one adviser who speaks with Trump frequently. “This has been a long time coming,” the person said. Several others said the relationship may be irreparable.

“Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself,” Trump said in his Wednesday statement.

“Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was,” the statement continued. “It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.”

It remains unclear, however, whether Trump will exile Bannon indefinitely; the president often likes to cast characters out and then bring them back in and frequently maintains contact with those he has fired.

Wolff’s book paints Trump as a buffoon who doesn’t read, can’t settle on political priorities and is unable to manage a warring cast of advisers who spend their days squabbling and undermining each other and the president.

In one scene, Katie Walsh, formerly a deputy chief of staff, is quoted as saying that dealing with Trump is “like trying to figure out what a child wants”; Walsh disputed that account Wednesday to an Axios reporter.

In another book scene, Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide who was ultimately fired, describes trying to explain the Constitution to the president. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” the book quotes Nunberg as saying, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

But, at least in the excerpts that have emerged so far, Bannon emerges as the most scathing critic of Trump and his family. Wolff portrays him as a master puppeteer, manipulating the president for his own political purposes.

Bannon is quoted describing a Trump Tower meeting during the campaign between Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” At another point in the book, he is quoted calling the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.”

Wolff also depicts Bannon as harboring his own 2020 presidential ambitions.

The president and his team were already infuriated two weeks ago by a profile in Vanity Fair in which Bannon attacked a number of senior Trump advisers and seemed to mock the president. Trump had wanted to attack Bannon then, people familiar with the strategy said.

For months, Trump confidants — including aides such as Hicks and Kushner, lawyer Ty Cobb, and friends like Newsmax chairman Chris Ruddy and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) — have tried to persuade the president to cut ties with Bannon, who in recent months has backed insurgent Republicans such as failed Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama.

Bannon has in recent weeks also alienated his main financial backer, Rebekah Mercer, after he told several other major conservative donors that he would be able to count on the Mercers’ financial support should he run for president, a person familiar with the conversations said. The person said Mercer now does not plan to financially support Bannon’s future projects — and that she was frustrated by his moves in Alabama and some of his comments in the news media that seemed to stoke unnecessary fights.

A person close to Bannon said he was not running for president. Bannon and Mercer declined to comment through representatives.

“The core constituency for ­Breitbart is what you would call the Trump Deplorables. That’s the audience. And if they’re asked to choose between Steve and Trump, they’re going to choose Trump. That’s clear,” said a person familiar with the company’s ownership.

The West Wing response cheered many Trump advisers and congressional Republicans opposed to Bannon. At least two candidates supported by Bannon — including Senate hopeful Kelli Ward of Arizona — sought to distance themselves on Wednesday.

In a conversation with Trump on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the White House reaction.

“He told the president it was perfect and he wouldn’t change a word,” one person familiar with the discussion said.

Brian Murphy, Erica Werner, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol Leonnig and John Wagner contributed to this report.


Trump’s Bannon outburst removes any shred of presidential decorum

This latest playground brawl must surely mean the end of any new year hopes for a return to sanity or normalcy

January 3, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

The sight of Donald Trump squabbling with his former strategist Steve Bannon bears a remarkable resemblance to two ferrets negotiating the inside of a sack. It seems the two men who engineered the “populist” takeover of the White House are rather less popular with each other than they used to be one year ago as they prepared to misrule the world.

First, let’s correct the record. You may have been living under the mistaken impression that Bannon was an influential figure in Trumpworld. This is probably because Bannon was chief executive of Trump’s presidential campaign and was considered the most influential political adviser inside the West Wing in the first months of Trump’s presidency.

You probably continued to delude yourself about Bannon’s sway even after he was pushed out of the White House when you heard Trump saying this in the Rose Garden less than three months ago: “Well, I have a very good relationship, as you know, with Steve Bannon. Steve’s been a friend of mine for a long time. I like Steve a lot.”

Like so many things that leave Trump’s mouth and worm their way into your mind, this is plainly fake news.

Because as we discovered from Trump’s own statement to the press on Wednesday (not a tweet, and not the Onion, either), Bannon was in fact a braggadocious nobody who failed in life and has now gone insane.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating 17 candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party. Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look.”

Can you feel the burn, Bannon? You will when you realize you’re just a selfish fraud who betrays the workers while having no talent of your own.

“Steve doesn’t represent my base,” Trump continued, before the playground brawl ran out of recess time. “Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It was the only thing he does well.”

It’s one thing for Bannon, a notoriously undisciplined blowhard, to settle scores with Trump’s family and friends in the latest napalm-fuelled book from Michael Wolff (no relation). It’s entirely another thing for Trump, another notoriously undisciplined blowhard, to respond in kind. One man is a washed-out political hack. The other is the 45th president of the United States. But judging from the conduct of the latter, it’s often hard to tell the difference.

You might think the trigger for Trump’s outburst was Bannon saying that the campaign’s meeting with Russian government intermediaries in 2016 was “treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit”. That meeting included Trump’s son, Donald Jr, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

But then again, you’d be wrong. The trigger for the outburst is in fact Trump’s trigger-happy nature. It was, after all, just one day after he bragged about being ready to launch his nukes at North Korea with a button that is so much bigger and so much more radioactive than Kim Jong-un’s.

As Hillary Clinton put it so memorably, Trump is too easily baited to be anywhere near the nuclear codes. He’s also too easily baited to be anywhere near a press release.

The last time someone nailed Donald Trump quite so exquisitely, it was during the closing phase of the Republican primaries, which Bannon obviously missed because of his own incompetence.

Ted Cruz unleashed an awesomely honest analysis of the man who would go on to become president, describing his freakishly obvious pattern of projecting his own failings on to others. “This man is a pathological liar,” Cruz said. “He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies … In a pattern that is straight out of a psychology text book, he accuses everyone of lying. Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute he believes it … The man is utterly amoral.”

That was only 18 months ago, which translates in Trump time to 18 dog years. Now Cruz loves Trump’s positions on Jerusalem and net neutrality, and shares hilarious Obama-mocking cookies with his son.

Trump himself continues to describe his own conduct whenever he seeks to trash his opponents. It is hard, but not impossible, to condemn Bannon for pretending to be at war with the media while spending your time live-tweeting cable TV and yapping with friendly anchors from Fox News or passing reporters from the New York Times.

It is also hard, but not impossible, to accuse Bannon of losing his mind when you have clearly lost your own.

What does the Trump-Bannon bust-up mean for us all? First, this must surely qualify as a Guinness world record end to our new year’s hopes for a return to sanity or normalcy in 2018.

But at the same time as dashing our hopes, it also must fill us with glee at the likely resurrection of that other avatar of slash-and-burn Trumpism: Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci.

For who but the Mooch would accuse Bannon of promoting himself (and sucking his own genitals) instead of serving the great leader?

Scaramucci has been telling friends that Trump wants him back in the White House, which would be a wonderful new year’s gift to column-writers the world over.

In the meantime, we have this unsubtle back-and-forth between the Mooch and the cookie-loving Donald Jr on Twitter after the Trump-Bannon bust-up. “Minus the foul language The Mooch pretty much nailed it,” said the president’s genius son.

Minus the national interest and any shred of presidential decorum, this would be an espically incendiary turn of events. Let’s prepare for the worst and hope for the best in this early dawn of Trump’s new year.

Trump Bannon row: 11 explosive claims from new book

January 4, 2018

BBC News

Donald Trump was “befuddled” by his election win, did not enjoy his inauguration and was scared of the White House, according to a new book.

Journalist Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House also purports to lift the lid on Ivanka Trump’s secret presidential ambitions.

The book details Mr Trump’s regard for media titan Rupert Murdoch, though the admiration was apparently not mutual.

The White House said the book was full of “false and misleading accounts”.

Michael Wolff says his work is based on more than 200 interviews and that he took up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” following the president’s inauguration for a close-up insight into the fledgling administration.

Here are 11 of the book’s revelations, with commentary from the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher.

  1. Bannon thought Don Jr meeting ‘treasonous’

According to the book, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon thought a meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a group of Russians was “treasonous”.

The Russians had offered Donald Trump Jr damaging information on Hillary Clinton at the June 2016 meeting.

Wolff writes that Bannon told him of the meeting:

“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon reportedly said the Justice Department investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Moscow would focus on money laundering, adding: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Anthony Zurcher: In just a few sentences, Bannon manages to detonate a bomb under the White House’s efforts to downplay the significance of that fateful June meeting in Trump Tower and their attempt to dismiss Robert Mueller’s inquiry as a partisan witchhunt. It’s bad, Bannon is saying, and even more unforgivably it was stupid. Taking aim at Mr Trump’s own family in the most personal terms makes it all the more biting.

  1. Trump ‘befuddled’ by his victory

In an article for NYMag adapted from his book, Wolff describes the amazement – and dismay – in the Trump camp at his November 2016 election win.

“Shortly after 8pm on Election Night, when the unexpected trend – Trump might actually win – seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears – and not of joy. There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.”

AZ: This is decidedly different from what has been recited by the Trump circle since election night. While campaign hands – at least the less-than-dedicated ones – may have been positioning themselves for a soft landing after a defeat, Mr Trump and his close allies believed in their success. A “horrified Trump” was never part of the script.

  1. Trump ‘angry’ at inauguration

Wolff writes:

“Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

But the first lady’s office rejected the claims.

Communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: “Mrs Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.”

AZ: These words tell the same story as the viral video clip of a stone-faced Melania forcing a smile when the president looks her way. It also explains why Mr Trump was so insistent about the success of his inauguration and the size of his crowds. He felt slighted and aggrieved and was acting accordingly.

  1. Trump loved ‘pursuing’ friends’ wives

According to another excerpt from the book, obtained by US media, Mr Trump used to boast that sleeping with his friends’ wives made “life worth living”.

“In pursuing a friend’s wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought,” Wolff quotes a Trump friend as saying.

He would invite the wife to secretly listen on speakerphone to a conversation that Mr Trump would have in his office with her husband, according to the book.

Mr Trump would allegedly engage in sexual banter with the husband in the hope that he might say something indiscreet, asking questions such as: “Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often?”

  1. Trump found White House ‘scary’

Wolff writes:

“Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom – the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room.”

AZ: For much of his adult life, Mr Trump has lived according to his own rules, as a real-estate tycoon whose wealth allowed his every whim or idiosyncrasy to be accommodated. Adjusting to the White House – which Bill Clinton once referred to as the “crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system” and Harry Truman called “the great white jail” – must have been quite a shock.

  1. Ivanka hopes to be president

Mr Trump’s daughter and her husband Jared Kushner allegedly struck a deal that she might run for president in future, according to Wolff:

“Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump. Bannon, who had coined the term ‘Jarvanka’ that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him.”

AZ: The feud between Bannon and “Jarvanka” was no secret, and it certainly wasn’t surprising. In a way, the couple represented to Bannon everything he’s fighting against – East Coast elitism and entitlement. Yet, thanks to familial ties, they had the president’s ear and – this new book claims – harboured dynastic hopes.

  1. Ivanka mocks dad’s ‘comb-over’

The US first daughter poked fun at her father’s alleged “scalp-reduction surgery”, according to the book.

“She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate – a contained island after scalp-reduction -surgery – surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men – the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.”

AZ: It wouldn’t be particularly surprising if this is one of the anecdotes that Mr Trump finds most irksome. The president is proud of his hair, and once notably let late-night host Jimmy Fallon ruffle it to establish its authenticity. On windy days, Mr Trump usually wears a hat – the origin of the Make America Great Again ball cap – to ensure there are no coiffing malfunctions. The hair is as much a part of the Trump brand as big hotels and gold-plated escalators.

  1. White House unsure of priorities

Katie Walsh, the White House deputy chief of staff, asked Mr Kushner, the president’s senior adviser, what the administration wanted to achieve.

But according to the book, Mr Kushner did not have an answer.

“‘Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,’ she [Katie Walsh] demanded. ‘What are the three priorities of this White House?’ It was the most basic question imaginable – one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer. ‘Yes,’ he said to Walsh. ‘We should probably have that conversation.'”

AZ: It often takes a new administration a bit of time to find its footing. In Mr Trump’s case, the situation was particularly acute. Having campaigned on some clear policy items – strengthened borders, renegotiated trade deals, a sweeping tax cut and Obamacare repeal – prioritising was clearly a challenge. Once in the White House, he allowed Congress to kick off with healthcare reform, and the difficulties achieving that goal haunted the Trump presidency for nearly a year.

  1. Trump’s admiration for Murdoch

Wolff, who previously wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes Mr Trump’s high regard for the News Corp media titan.

“Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. ‘He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,’ Trump said. ‘You have to stay to see him.’ Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.”

AZ: During the campaign, Mr Trump had at times feuded with Murdoch’s Fox News – fighting with presenter Megyn Kelly, boycotting the network and skipping a Fox-broadcast primary debate. The president, however, is one of Fox News’ biggest fans – and the network has become his greatest advocate since his inauguration.

  1. Murdoch calls Trump ‘idiot’

But the admiration was not mutual, according to Wolff’s account of a call between Mr Murdoch and Mr Trump about the president’s meeting with Silicon Valley executives.

Mr Trump is said to have told Mr Murdoch:

“‘These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.’ ‘Donald,’ said Murdoch, ‘for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.’

‘Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.’Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ‘What a f****** idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.”

AZ: There’s sometimes been a disconnect between Mr Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and his action as a businessman, where his companies often relied on immigrant labour. Perhaps the president-elect was reflecting his business sensibilities. Or maybe, in this case, he was simply echoing the opinion of the last group of people who had met with him – a criticism that has been lobbed his way on more than one occasion.

  1. Flynn knew Russia ties ‘a problem’

Former US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn knew that accepting money from Moscow for a speech could come back to haunt him, according to the book.

Wolff writes that before the election Mr Flynn “had been told by friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. ‘Well it would only be a problem if we won,’ he assured them.”

Mr Flynn has been indicted in the Justice Department special counsel’s inquiry.

AZ: Like Paul Manafort, Flynn was one of the members of the Trump campaign’s inner circle whose prior affairs were not ordered in a way that would, shall we say, stand up to close legal scrutiny. If Mr Trump had been defeated, that probably wouldn’t have mattered. Like the protaganists in the film The Producers, however, their success was their undoing.


Trump administration to end Obama-era marijuana policy -source

January 4, 2018

by Saarah N. Lynch


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will rescind on Thursday a policy on marijuana that eased enforcement of federal laws as a growing number of states and localities legalized the drug, a source familiar with the matter said.

The ending of the policy, begun under Democratic former President Barack Obama, could sow confusion about how strictly federal laws will be enforced and potentially hamper efforts to cultivate local businesses.

The change under Republican President Donald Trump’s administration comes just days after California formally launched the world’s largest regulated commercial market for recreational marijuana.

The ending of the policy, begun under Democratic former President Barack Obama, could sow confusion about how strictly federal laws will be enforced and potentially hamper efforts to cultivate local businesses.

The change under Republican President Donald Trump’s administration comes just days after California formally launched the world’s largest regulated commercial market for recreational marijuana.

The current policy recognized marijuana as a “dangerous drug,” but said the department expected states and localities that authorized various uses of the drug to effectively regulate and police it.

Going forward, federal prosecutors around the country will have leeway to enforce U.S. laws on marijuana as they see fit in their own districts, added the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There has been a surge in legalization of marijuana in U.S. states in recent years. Besides California, other states that permit the regulated sale of marijuana for recreational use include Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada. Massachusetts and Maine are on track to follow suit later this year.


Among companies that have invested in the industry, Scotts Miracle-Gro a gardening product manufacturer, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire companies that sell soil, lighting, fertilizer and other products to marijuana growers. Shares in the company dropped 3.8 percent to $104.54 after the news of the policy shift, before paring losses later in the morning. Several Canadian marijuana-related stocks also fell sharply.

The policy being reversed had sought to provide more clarity on how prosecutors would enforce federal laws that ban marijuana in states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreational use.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made no secret about his disdain for marijuana. He has said the drug is harmful and should not be legalized, and has also called it a gateway drug for opioid addicts.

A task force created under a February 2017 executive order by Trump and comprised of prosecutors and other law enforcement officials was supposed to study marijuana enforcement, along with many other policy areas, and issue recommendations.

Its recommendations were due in July 2017, but the Justice Department has not made public what the task force determined was appropriate for marijuana.

Marijuana advocates criticized the planned change to policy.

“Jeff Sessions is acting on his warped desire to return America to the failed beliefs of the ‘Just Say No’ and Reefer Madness eras,” said Erik Altieri, the executive director of the pro-marijuana group NORML. “This action flies in the face of sensible public policy and broad public opinion.”

Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who represents Colorado where marijuana is legal, also criticized the move, saying on Twitter that the Justice Department was trampling on the will and rights of voters.

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation,” he wrote.

Gardner added he would take all steps necessary to fight the measure, including possibly holding up the Senate from voting on pending Justice Department nominees. The department still has a long line of people waiting to be confirmed, including the heads of the criminal, civil and national security divisions.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry


Fake news ‘casts wide net but has little effect’

New research into the consumption of “fake news” has found little evidence that it swayed the US presidential election. According to the study, Facebook is mostly responsible for the dissemination of false coverage.

January 4, 2018

by Elizabeth Schumacher


A new US study has found that while so-called “fake news” may have had a far reach during the country’s 2016 presidential election, but that its impact was relatively shallow.

The study,  published on Wednesday as a collaboration between Princeton, Dartmouth and the University of Exeter, also maintains that some 60 percent of visits to “fake news” sites came from a core group of ultra-conservative media consumers and were not widely seen by a vast swath of the electorate.

As the researchers point out, although the “new form of political misinformation features prominently in journalistic accounts” of the election, “little is known scientifically about the consumption of fake news, including who read it.”

The study used survey data combined with web traffic histories and found that worries about “echo chambers” — in which an individual only encounters information congenial to their political views — appeared somewhat overblown.

“Only a subset of Americans have heavily skewed media consumption patterns,” according to the study, with the majority of fake news consumers falling under the umbrella of “the ten percent of people with the most conservative media diets.”

Although about 27 percent of the voting age population — some 65 million people — saw at least fake news article in the run-up to the election, “relatively few Americans are deeply interested in these extreme forms of misinformation.”

Fake news is ‘overwhelmingly pro-Trump’

The fake news coverage was, however, itself incredibly skewed in one direction: “Trump supporters visited the most fake news websites, which were overwhelmingly pro-Trump.”

The researchers found that 80 percent of all fake election stories were heavily in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. About 40 percent of Trump voters were exposed to false news content about their candidate, compared to just 15 percent of people who voted for his rival Hillary Clinton.

The study also found that Facebook is perhaps the worst culprit behind the spread of fake news and that its “fact-checks of fake news almost never reached its consumers.”

There is a “dramatic association between Facebook usage and fake news website visits,” according to the research, much higher than other portals such as Google or Twitter. Indeed, a visit to Facebook preceded viewing on a fake news article about 22.1 percent of the time, compared to just 1.9 percent for Google and even less for Twitter. The research suggested that Facebook’s attempts at fact-checking or correcting false information were woefully lacking.

The study found little reason to believe that fake news had played a role in swaying the 2016 election. But it did caution news consumers to remain vigilant: “dubious and inflammatory content can still undermine the quality of public debate, promote misperceptions, foster greater hostility toward political opponents, and corrode trust in government and journalism.”


The Iranian Rebellion: Everybody’s Wrong

January 4, 2018

by Justin Raimondo


Let’s get it clear right from the beginning: we don’t know what’s happening in Iran. We don’t know who’s leading the demonstrations, which are turning into riots in some parts of the country. We don’t know who, if anyone, is directing them.

Yes, yes, I know: you want me to explain what’s happening, and if it’s a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. But I’m not going to lie to you: I don’t know – and neither, at this point, does anyone else.

Here in the West, three views have taken root among the commentariat (and, of course, among US government officials: 1) This is a heroic attempt by the freedom-starved people of Iran to – finally! – overthrow the theocracy that has fastened itself on to the nation like a giant parasite. Purveyors of this view cite (sketchy) reports of Iranian demonstrators chanting “Death to Khamenei!”, “We don’t want a theocracy!,” and other anti-clerical slogans. This is the approach taken by the neoconservatives, such as Bill Kristol, shown here on MSNBC declaring that “The Iranian people want freedom” and that’s all there is to it.

On the other hand we have a different view, 2) which we can see given expression on the same video, showing Iranian lobbyist Trita Parsi blaming – wait for it! – Donald Trump. Really? Oh yes, he really means it: it’s all because of economic uncertainty due to Trump’s threats to cancel the Iran deal. This, we are told, caused Iranian banks to refrain from investing in vast new projects, and so the standard of living hasn’t met rising expectations. There may be some truth to this, but not a whole lot: Europe has invested in Iran since the Iran deal was signed: China is also a big player, and this will no doubt increase in the future.

Then there is the third view, which simply ascribes the rebellion to “US imperialism,” and the regime-change apparatus Washington has put into place in order to pull off incidents such as these. This explanation – that the US, the Saudis, and the Israelis are solely responsible for the anti-government protests – lacks the one feature all such propositions require: evidence.

Where is the evidence that our intelligence services, in tandem with the Saudis and Israelis, started and are working to sustain the protests? I’m not ruling this out as a possibility, but if one is going to posit a conspiracy then material evidence must validate it. Furthermore, this explanation flies in the face of logic: Iran is an economic mess, its people are chafing under the rule of the mullahs, and the country is radically polarized not only into battling political factions but also along economic lines. Occasm’s Razor tells us a foreign conspiracy can hardly be the primary cause, although no one denies for a moment that the US and its allies would certainly like to take credit for the New Year’s protests.

All three of the views presented above fly in the face of the facts.

To begin with, the neoconservative view that this is a liberation movement aimed squarely at the mullah-ocracy is contradicted by the origins of the initial protests, which occurred  in conservative stronghold Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city, and spread to other equally conservative provincial towns (e.g. the holy city of Qom). These protests emphasized economic issues and were initiated by hardiners, who oppose President Rouhani and his reformist faction, and blame the reformists for promising economic gains that have not benefited everyone equally. With the Rouhani government planning to radically reduce subsidies and fuel prices slated to rise, the people at the very bottom of the economic totem pole – traditionally supporters of hardline anti-reformist leaders – rose up. The demonstrations are also partially a tax revolt, with car registration fees being hiked and the tripling of something called a “departure tax.” This comports with indications that former hardliner President Ahmadinejad is involved in the protests, a report that has added veracity given that it’s coming from hardline elements – the IRGC.

As the protests continued, it looks like other elements took advantage of the opening, thus the “Death to Khamenei” slogans – and here is where those who reflexively blame any and all protests in Iran on the CIA/Saudis have a point. Undoubtedly there are plenty of Iranians who would respond to a call from outside the country to  rise up, either for pecuniary interests or out of conviction, but these are relatively few, which is why the radical slogans calling for an end to the theocracy have been relatively few. Yet one cannot deny that the Iranian people have agency: they can act on their own behalf, in their own name and interests, without being characterized as puppets on a string.

The simple fact of the matter is that we can’t really understand the protests for the same reason we can’t intervene effectively in the politics of foreign lands: because it’s too complicated! There are too many variable factors, their history isn’t our history, and our own “expert” analysts all have agendas to pursue that have nothing to do with the reality on the ground.

The debate here in the US about how to react to the Iranian events isn’t about the Iranians – it’s all about us. It’s about what kind of country we want to be: it’s about our role in the world, and whether we can allow events to proceed all on their own, or whether we must intervene in every instance.

What this means, in terms of US policy, is that the United States government must stay out of it. This doesn’t mean President Trump can’t tweet his support to those who want a better and a freer life. Indeed, he would be remiss in his duty if he refrained from doing so. Freedom-fighters the world over deserve rhetorical and political support, but anything beyond that is counterproductive and dangerous to the very people it is supposed to help. No one like to think that he has to turn his country over to foreigners in order to achieve a free life: such a stance would isolate the freedom-fighters from their countrymen and doom the rebellion to defeat.

The War Party in America is the worst enemy of the pro-freedom element in Iran, for war means repression of dissidents, groupthink, limits on democracy, and the destruction of the social fabric upon which liberty depends. If the Bill Kristols and anti-Iranian Trumpists have their way, and we go to war with Iran, liberty has no future in Iran, or in the Middle East.


Intel, ARM chip flaws: What you need to know

Researchers have found a design flaw in microprocessors that could jeopardize enormous amounts of personal data stored on devices from smartphones to server systems. DW has the essentials.

January 4, 2018

by Sertan Sanderson (with AFP, Reuters)


What is this security threat about?

Two major vulnerabilities were found that seem to affect all major microprocessors, including Intel, AMD and ARM brand products. These weaknesses can be exploited by hackers to gain access to personal data reaching from passwords to credit card information stored from online transactions. A security team at Google has labeled the two flaws as “Spectre” and “Meltdown.”

How do “Spectre” and “Meltdown” operate?

“Meltdown” reportedly affects Intel chips only and could allow hackers to bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s memory, potentially letting hackers read a computer’s memory and steal passwords. Intel microprocessors from the past 10 years could all be at risk.

“Spectre” has a potentially larger reach, affecting chips from Intel, AMD and ARM and could allow hackers to trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information like passwords or credit card data.

How big is the problem?

Daniel Gruss, a researcher at Graz University of Technology, called it “probably one of the worst CPU (central processing unit) bugs ever found.”

Since a whole range of products from mobile phones to personal computers all use such processors, the potential spread of an attack could be immense.

Intel said it was working with its rivals AMD and ARM and “to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively.”

How is this flaw different?

The researchers that discovered the problems explained that as opposed to viruses, which have to be introduced externally into the infrastructure of a computer, the current vulnerability presented “a way to use existing architecture and get into protected areas of computer memory” to read potentially sensitive data.

Has anyone been hacked this way yet?

Microsoft said in a statement that it had no information suggesting any compromised data. An AMD spokesman meanwhile explained that because of the differences in AMD processor architecture, “we believe there is near zero risk to AMD products at this time.” ARM meanwhile said it was “working together with Intel and AMD” to address potential issues “in certain high-end processors, including some of our Cortex-A processors.”

How can I protect my computer?

All computing platforms are expected to release updates to patch up the security flaw within days. You will need to make sure that you download the latest updates and keep checking for further updates in the coming days and weeks. Some researchers have said, however, that these fixes could slow down computer systems – possibly by 30 percent or more.

– Microsoft:

Devices using Microsoft are particularly vulnerable, but first patches for “Meltdown” have already been developed, according to researchers at Google. Microsoft itself said that it was immediately “releasing security updates … to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities.” The company added that a “majority” of its Azure cloud services used by businesses had already been patched and protected and that it was promptly issuing a Windows security update.

– Apple:

Apple did not comment on whether its iOS operating system, which also powers iPhones and iPads, was at risk. However, Google said that Apple had patches ready for desktop computers affected by Meltdown.

– Google:

Google meanwhile said that Android phones running the latest security updates were protected, as were its own Nexus and Pixel phones with the latest security updates. Users of Google’s Chromebook laptops, Chrome web browser and its Google Cloud services were advised to install updates.

– Linux:

The open-source Linux operating system is apparently affected, with a fix to be released soon.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich initially tried to downplay the threat posed by the security flaw

What’s going to happen to my computer if I do nothing?

If you fail to install the latest updates, you might expose your data to serious threat. Dan Guido, chief executive of cyber security consulting firm Trail of Bits, said he expected hackers to quickly develop code they could use to launch attacks to exploit these vulnerabilities.


Who really was Jesus and was he gay?

January 4, 2018

by Harry von Johnston, PhD


In early 1948, the government of Jordan gave permission to the Arab Legion to search the area where the original Qumran cave was thought to be. Consequently, Cave 1 was rediscovered on January 28, 1949, by Belgian United Nations observer Captain Phillipe Lippens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn.

The rediscovery of Cave 1 prompted the initial excavation of the site from February 15 to March 5, 1949 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. The Cave 1 site yielded discoveries of additional Dead Sea Scroll fragments, linen cloth, jars, and other artifacts.

Cave 3, which contained the period references to Jesus,  was discovered on  March 14, 1952 and eventually yielded 14 manuscripts including Jubilees and the curious copper scroll, which lists 67 hiding places of valuable assets of the Essenes, mostly buried underground, throughout the Roman province of Judea (now the state of Israel). According to the scroll, the secret caches held astonishing amounts of gold, silver, copper, aromatics, and manuscripts.

The Essenes were known to be a wealthy cult.

These scrolls from Cave 3 were the specifically the product of Essene Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The scroll in question was found by an amateur archeologist from Syria in May of 1952 and was sold by him, through a dealer in antiques named John Meanen, a former CIA operative based in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Meanen sold the scroll in 1955 to a Heinz von Hungen, MD who collected rare Catholic artifacts, among other valuable historical objects.  The scroll was subject to forensic testing as to age and then photographs were sent to three different experts in the Nabataean language. The scroll itself was on a parchment and testing on this and on the ink along with the text itself, dated this at close to about 50-55 CE.

This is the only period reference to Jesus. From the translated text it is set forth that Jesus was born, not in Bethelhem but in Alexandria, Egypt and that his father was Jewish and his mother Egyptian. He had two older brothers, one of whom later became a member of the Essene cult when the family moved to Judea. As a member of the Essenes, Jesus was called ‘Bar Nasha’ or the son of man. Jesus took this name when he joined the ranks of the Essenes.

Translation from the original Nabataean of significant portion of the scroll from Cave 3

  • Of this Jesus we compile this recording of his wondrous deeds and his gathering many into the fold.

(2 )He was born in Alexandria, the son of Yossef and that his mother was a woman of Egyptian parentage and that he had two brothers with him. Joseph and his family then removed themselves to the land of Caanan in the second year of the Prefect Aquila and prospered.

(3) Jesus then being young but of a strong religious cast, (blessing) was taken into the Brotherhood by his elder brother Jacob who instructed him and became his greatly loving partner and there did prosper greatly, becoming a great leader of the people and one who sought to expel the heathen (unbelieving) sons of Rome from the land.

(4) That Jesus, not being ill-favored and most eagerly was welcomed by the society and loved (taken to their souls and bodies) then by many.  He was given the name of ‘Bar Nasha’ (son of man). In the ritual bathing, he proved to be mighty and much beloved indeed and this because of the inspiration and teaching of John who was himself a much beloved person.

(5) And Jesus, not being ill-favored, was a most inspired (wondrous) preacher and went amongst the multitude and spoke with great and moving spirit about the brotherhood, causing many to come to its fold with joy and pleasure. And when age came upon him, Jesus went out into the land, preaching to the people and was himself greatly loved.

(6) In the rule of Felix, the time had come to throw off the Roman yoke (enslavement) and Jesus, and many others, did prepare a great undertaking against these Romans but they were betrayed by one Judas to the Romans and these came upon them suddenly and with great force. Many were seized but a few eluded the Roman police (soldiers) and removed to the secret place.

(7)Jesus was one of these and with him came Cephas, a most beautiful young man who was much beloved, of Jesus, who accompanied him to his secret place and loved him greatly.

Summation of  translation:

Jesus father, Yossef,was born in Alexandria in 41 BC under Ptolemaeus XV Philopator Philomētor Caesar and in the seventh year of his rule (June 23, 47 BCE – August 23, 30 BCE), Jesus was born, also in Alexandria,  under Gaius Iulius Aquila,  Prefect of the Province of Egypt (10-11 CE). Jesus’ leading an Essene rebellion and his subsequent rapid departure from Jerusalem was under the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) in Judea. Jesus’ older brother, fellow Essene and Jesus’ lover was Jacob (or James.)

I assume, without fear of contradiction, that there were no children from this union.

Most current Biblical scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus’s first followers had previously been followers of John.

John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Josephus. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism.

The baptism story has its roots in the extensive nude ritual bathing practiced by all the Essenes.

There also is mention of a younger, handsome man whom Jesus called Cephas, meaning “stone” in Aramaic and which is translated to “Peter.” Jesus said he would build his future church on this young man. References to him can be found in the Gospels and he is described as wearing scanty or no garments at all and associating very closely with Jesus. He was at the Mount of Olives putsch episode and ran away, naked, from the Romans.

This scroll was written by the Essenes residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed many of the historically important scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt, sometime between 66 and 68 CE. The site of Qumran was eventually destroyed and the scrolls were never recovered by those that placed them there.

After his move to Judea, Jesus became an Essene, and Christianity as we know today evolved directly from this sect of Judaism, with which it shared a majority of ideas and symbols

The Essenes were a religious sect of Judaism that existed from the 2nd century BCE to the the 1st Century CE, in Qumran, a plateau in the Judean desert along the Dead Sea.

The origin of the name Essene is debated. Some credible possibilities are either a version of the Greek word for “holy,” or an Aramaic dialect term for “pious.” In their writings, they refer to themselves as the “Sons of Light”.

The Essenes are discussed in detail by Josephus and Philo. Scholars very clearly believe that the community at Qumran, that produced the Dead Sea scrolls, were Essenes that Jesus was an Essene, and Christianity as we know it today evolved from this sect of Judaism.

The Essenes were, in any case, an agricultural community that had a communistic approach to their life style. There was a common purse and shared wealth and much, if not most, of the first expressed Christian dogma came directly from the Essenes.

Unfortunately for religious acceptance reasons, like the Spartans and Zulus who were essentially a military community cult, the agricultural Essenes were male-oriented and firmly homosexual in nature.

The Essenes were finally outlawed by the Romans following their participation in on-going revolts, and many members were subsequently crucified in a general crackdown under Titus, not because of their sexual practices but because of their political opposition to Roman rule.

The small remnants of the Essenes either retreated to their Dead Sea area and eventually died out or changed their names and joined other more acceptable Jewish religious groups.


Bomb cyclone’ brings travel chaos and deaths to US north-east

January 4, 2018

BBC News

A winter storm has caused travel chaos on the US north-east and is being blamed for up to 17 deaths.

More than 3,300 US flights were cancelled on Thursday as snow blanketed parts of New York and New England, as well as eastern Canada.

Boston could get up to 18in (45cm) of snow, while New York City is bracing for up 1ft, say forecasters.

The storm, known as a “bomb cyclone”, is expected to continue to affect eastern North America into the weekend.

Nearly 60 million people are in the path of the storm, with weather warnings in effect from the Maine to parts of Georgia in the US.

The National Weather Service said: “Heavy snowfall rates will spread northward across NH and through southern/central ME through early this evening.

“In addition to heavy snowfall rates, the intensifying storm will result in strengthening winds, producing blizzard conditions for coastal regions of New England.”

Seventeen cold-related deaths have been reported across the US, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Hurricane force winds of up to 60mph (95km/h) are expected to hammer the north-eastern US coastline.

US railway operator Amtrak is running on a reduced schedule, and interstate buses are also being cancelled.

The weather pattern has already brought snow to the US South as far down as Florida.

“The situation has continued to deteriorate,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he declared a state of emergency on Thursday.

“It’s almost impossible to clear roads when you have those high wind gusts, because as soon as you clear the road the snow, the wind literally just brings the snow back on to the road.”

Cars becoming stranded on the Long Island Expressway, he added, could cause a “situation of life and death” in which rescuers may be unable to reach trapped motorists.

What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?

A “bomb cyclone” or “weather bomb” is an unofficial term for what is known as explosive cyclogenesis, according to BBC Weather.

This occurs when the central pressure of a low pressure system falls by 24 millibars in 24 hours and can result in violent winds developing around the system.

The winds can be strong enough to bring down trees and cause structural damage.

The storm is forecast to undergo rapid cyclogenesis over the Atlantic Ocean throughout Thursday and into the weekend, and current projections show areas north of New York as having the highest risk of significant impacts from strong winds and heavy snow.

Schools are closed in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, the Carolinas, Maryland, and Virginia due to the danger of hypothermia, frostbite and traffic accidents.

Photos went viral online of students attending a lesson at a public school with a broken furnace in the Maryland city of Baltimore.

The entire Baltimore City public school system closed down after the local teachers’ union complained of its educators being “forced to endure teaching in classrooms with dangerously low temperatures, instructing students who have been forced to try to learn bundled up in coats, hats and gloves”.

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