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TBR News January 6, 2016

Jan 06 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 6, 2016: One of my friends who worke in an Important Agency had lunch with me yesterday and was permitting me to see some interesting, and current, information concerning the various explosive problems in the Mid-East. The Saudis, fanatics and once super-rich, are importuning the United States, via their Washington Embassy, to break off relations with Iran, a Shi’ite state, and to threaten them over their religious beliefs. Of course at this point, with Saudi oil running out, the US, as always happens, is starting to look the other way. For years there has been an on-going and criminal conspiracy between the two countries but now it is coming to an end. And when it does, and when there is a revolt in that country, will be be sad? No,we will seek other nations and other dictators to cuddle up with. Never mind that they murder countless but what matters is can they supply us with bases with which to harass the Russians or, even better, have untapped oil fields beneath their countryside.”

How Saudi executions followed giant US arms deal

January 5, 2016


Just days before Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of 47 people, the US announced the approval of more military contracts with the Gulf kingdom.

The executions caused global outrage and increased tensions with Iran, due to the killing of revered Sheik and scholar Nimr al-Nimr.

His death sparked protests across the region as Shiite Muslims expressed anger at the execution of the cleric who stood against violence.

Three of those executed were also teenagers at the time of their arrest.

The New York Times Editorial Board condemned the executions: “America’s longstanding alliance with the House of Saud is no reason for the Obama administration to do anything less than clearly condemn this foolhardy and dangerous course with a more robust response than its call Monday for both sides to exercise restraint.”

The latest contracts between the US and Saudi Arabia include US$24 million for Raytheon Company, $12 million to Advanced Electronics and millions more for Boeing’s laser air-to-ground weapons system.

When President Barack Obama first announced the US$1.29 billion deal for 18,000 bombs and 1,500 warheads late last year, Amnesty International and other groups called on him to cancel them since this violated the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which forbids the sale of weapons when there is knowledge the weapons will be used against civilians.

“Given the evidence of how Saudi Arabia has employed such arms to date, there is overwhelming reason for concern that Saudi Arabia will use such arms to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen,” Michael O’Reilly from Amnesty’s US branch warned on December 10. “We urge President Obama to cancel this deal.”

Saudi Arabia, which carried out more than 157 beheadings in 2015, according to the AP’s tally, provides a rich market for US and UK arms manufacturers.

The US supports the Saudis in their war against Yemen as part of the coalition. They provide assistance through intelligence, training, refueling and weapons. More than 2,000 civilians have been killed since the airstrikes began in late March.

Saudi’s air strikes in Yemen are not void of civilian casualties. More than 100 attacks on hospitals have been documented by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Following the mass executions, the US State Department released a statement saying Washington “frequently raised” concerns about the legal process in Saudi Arabia with Riyadh’s top officials.

“We reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases,” the State Department said calling on Riyadh to “work together with all community leaders to defuse tensions in the wake of these executions.‎”

The House of Saud funds American politicians, lobbying groups, PACs, and media companies, employing a well-funded PR machine through companies like Edelman to influence US opinion.

The Clinton Foundation also receives funding from the Kingdom, as do a number of universities and think tanks, as reported by The Intercept.

Sunnis, Shiites locked in an endless conflict

  • Iran and Saudi Arabia are stoking the denominational conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.

  • Both sides are attempting to exploit an inner-Islamic conflict that has been raging for more than 1,300 years.

January 5, 2016


The words used by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were harsh. Following the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, he threatened that, “The unjustly spilled blood of this oppressed martyr will with no doubt show its effect, and divine vengeance will befall Saudi politicians.”

Like many religious scholars in Iran, Khamenei wears a black turban as a symbol of filiation with the family of the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The Saudi royal family also invokes Mohammed and Islam.

However, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are also rivals for political supremacy in the Middle East. In this rivalry, both sides seek to tie political goals to religious interpretations. Within such a context, the execution of al-Nimr appears to be just one more episode in the long history of an inner-Islamic power struggle.

Fight over the Prophet’s successor

The division of Islam into the branches of Sunni and Shia arose from a battle over the rightful successor to the prophet Mohammed. When the Islamic prophet died in the year AD 632, his followers had to choose his religious and political successor.

Shiites believed that Mohammed had chosen his son-in-law Ali to be that successor. The designation Shia comes from the Arabic “Shi’atu Ali,” or followers of Ali.

The group now referred to as Sunnis rejected the claim and prevailed. The term Sunnah refers to the ideal of the actions and utterances of the Prophet Mohammed.

Shiites in the minority

Both the Sunnis and the Shiites split into further groups over the course of the centuries. Shiites represent only 10 to 15 percent of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, yet they constitute a majority in the Gulf states of Iran, Iraq and Bahrain. The two million or so Shiites that live in the oil-rich provinces of Saudi Arabia, however, are a much-bullied minority. Sunnis themselves are not a unified block and consist of a great number of different groups.

There are, nonetheless, many religious similarities among all groups on both sides of the divide. The Five Pillars of Islam – Testimony, Prayer, Fasting, Pilgrimage to Mecca and Alms-giving, are practically identical among all denominations, although they vary greatly in their details.

A significant difference between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam are their individual relationships to power. Throughout history, the Shiites have mostly been a discriminated minority. That has shaped their theology. Revolts against Sunni caliphs, considered illegitimate by the Shia, have played a central role in that theology.

In AD 680, Ali’s son Hussein died during such a revolt. Each year Shiites recall his death by re-enacting passion plays during the feast of Ashura. This commemoration is also kept alive in today’s conflicts. For instance, Hussein’s willingness to die on the battlefield was held up as a role model during Iran’s war against Iraq from 1980 to 1988.

Seemingly centuries-old conflict

Sunnis and Shiites also faced off against one another in the wars fought between the Sunni Ottoman Empire and the Shiite Shah of Persia, today’s Iran. Just how important these denominational differences and the historical references connected to them are in mobilizing large sections of the population can be seen in the proxy wars being carried out by Iran and Saudi Arabia today. Iran supports, above all, non-Sunni groups in the civil wars taking place in Syria and Yemen, whereas the Saudis have forged alliances with predominantly Sunni states.

But beyond the religious propaganda, there are in fact many examples of peaceful coexistence. Representatives from both branches have often attempted to bridge their religious divides. In 1959, Mahmud Shaltut, then rector of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, declared that Shia religious practices were equal to those of Sunni Islam. Al-Azhar University is considered to be the most prestigious of all places of Sunni scholarship.

Scholars’ joint declaration

In 2005, King Abdullah ll of Jordan organized an Islamic conference which brought together Sunni and Shiite scholars. These scholars agreed that both branches are in fact Muslim. “To declare someone as an apostate (nonbeliever) is neither possible nor permissible,” said their joint statement, later known as the Three Points of the Amman Message.

The now deceased King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia was also a signatory of the declaration. Nevertheless, that has not kept preachers in the kingdom from declaring Shiites to be infidels. The leaders of the Sunni extremist militia “Islamic State” as well as other Sunni Islamists continue to do so as well.

On the other hand, thousands of Shiites volunteer as mercenaries because they feel that their religion is under threat. Islam does not have a superior religious authority that could put an end to the exploitation of these differences.

Factbox – Troubled history of Iran-Saudi relations

January 4, 2016


Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday over the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, in a deepening crisis between the regional adversaries following the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric.

Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy early on Sunday and Shi’ite Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted “divine vengeance” for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the kingdom’s ruling Al Saudi family.

Here are some details on the ups and downs of relations over the last 20 years:

* 1987 – MECCA — Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were strained almost to breaking point in July 1987 when 402 pilgrims, 275 of whom were Iranian, died during clashes in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

— Protesters took to the streets of Tehran, occupied the Saudi embassy and set fire to Kuwait’s embassy. A Saudi diplomat, Mousa’ad al-Ghamdi, died in Tehran of wounds sustained when he fell out of an embassy window and Riyadh accused Tehran of delaying his transfer to a hospital in Saudi Arabia.

— Diplomatic relations were severed by Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd in April 1988.


— King Fahd congratulated Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on his election victory in 2001, saying it was an endorsement of his reformist policy. Khatami, a Shi’ite Muslim cleric, worked for rapprochement with Saudi Arabia after winning his first landslide in 1997 and ending two decades of tense relations that followed Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

— Khatami visited Saudi Arabia in 1999 on the first visit by an Iranian president since the revolution. The two countries sealed better relations with a security pact in April 2001.


— The invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq empowered the country’s Shi’ite majority and resulted in a shift in its political alignment towards Iran.

— Iran’s nuclear energy programme deepened Saudi fears that Tehran under Khatami’s successor President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was bent on dominating the Gulf region and boosting its Shi’ite populations.

— Saudi Arabia told an Iranian envoy in January 2007 that Iran was putting the Gulf in danger, in a reference to the Islamic Republic’s conflict with the United States over Iraq and its nuclear programme.

* 2011 – ARAB SPRING

— Saudi Arabia sent troops to help Bahrain quash mass pro-democracy protests, fearing the mostly Shi’ite opposition would align with Iran. The two countries later accused Tehran of fomenting violence against Bahraini police.

— U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed Saudi leaders, including King Abdullah, pushing Washington to take a tough stance against Iran over its nuclear programme, including the possible use of military force.

— Saudi Arabia accused some Shi’ites in its Eastern Province, including Nimr, of cooperating with a foreign state — meaning Iran — to sow dissension, after clashes between police and Shi’ites.

— Washington said it had uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Riyadh said the evidence was overwhelming and Tehran would pay a price.

* 2012 – PROXY WARS

— Saudi Arabia became the main supporter of rebels fighting to topple Iran’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Riyadh accused Assad of “genocide” and Iran of being an “occupying power”. Tehran accused Riyadh of backing “terrorism”.

— In March 2015, Saudi Arabia began a military campaign in Yemen to stop the Houthis, allied to Iran, from taking power. Riyadh accused Iran of using the militia to stage a coup d’etat. Tehran said Riyadh’s air strikes targeted civilians.

(Compiled by Angus McDowall; Editing by William Maclean and Susan Fenton)

The Saudis Go Full ISIS In Their US-Backed Takfiri War on the Shia

January 5, 2016

by Dan Sanchez,


Saudi Arabia has perpetrated a mass execution that puts ISIS’s beach beheadings to shame. Forty-seven heads rolled on Saturday. One of them belonged to Nimr al-Nimr, a revered Shi’ite cleric who had been sentenced to death for sermons in which he criticized the government (especially for its persecution of the country’s Shi’ite minority). His brother has been sentenced to be crucified.

This was done as the Saudis continue to drop American bombs on Shia in Yemen (boosting Al Qaeda there) and to hire jihadis to help ISIS and Al-Qaeda kill Shia in Syria.

It is no mystery why the Saudis are such brothers in arms with the Bin Ladenites, sharing both their hyper-sectarian aims and their gruesome methods. The Wahhabist Saudis and the Salafist terrorists are both “Takfiris”: theocratic, fundamentalist Sunnis who justify sectarian persecution and bloodshed on the grounds that their victims are not true Muslims, but apostates.

Both the Saudis and ISIS regularly behead people for apostasy. The Saudis just do it in white robes and with swords, while ISIS does it in black pajamas and with knives. Saudi Arabia (the older, bigger oil rich extremist theocracy between the two) has been aptly characterized as “An ISIS That Has Made It.” The Saudis are so sensitive about this obvious comparison, they threaten to sue anyone who makes it.

The House of Saud relies on the support of the country’s Wahhabi clerics for its divine right to rule. To appease the clerics and their threateningly zealous followers, the Saudis must constantly promote their extremist brand of Islam both within the country and internationally. They do this by using billions of petrodollars to finance both indoctrination (state-sponsored radical madrassas, media propaganda, etc) and jihad (the CIA-backed Afghan Jihad of the 80s, the CIA-backed Syrian Jihad underway now, etc). Saudi support for the Afghan Jihad resulted in the rise of Al Qaeda. Saudi support for the Syrian Jihad resulted in the rise of ISIS.

Since 2006, the Saudis have been obsessed with waging a proxy jihad against what it conceives as a burgeoning Iran-led “Shia Crescent” (including Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and Yemen) that threatens their interests in the region. This anti-Shia vendetta has been supported by its fellow Gulf sheikhdoms, the US, the EU, Turkey, and Israel.

Starting in 2011, this campaign went into overdrive in Syria, where the Saudis and their Western and regional allies have sided with and sponsored the Takfiri militants fighting to conquer and “cleanse” the Levant. That axis is being opposed by “Crescent” powers and by Russia.

In 2015, another front opened up in Yemen, where the Saudis began a US-supplied brutal air war against that country’s new Shiite Houthi government and a starvation blockade of its people. This war has helped the Takfiri terrorists of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) conquer territory in the country.

With the beheading of Nimr, this proxy war between the Saudis and Iran has threatened to become a direct conflict. Enraged at the execution, Shi’ite protesters in Iran ransacked and firebombed the Saudi embassy. The Saudis reacted by completely breaking off diplomatic contact with Iran. Soon after, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan slashed ties as well. It should be noted that Bahrain is a majority Shi’ite country oppressively ruled by Sunni governing minority.

Given how quickly the Gulf sheikdoms made such a serious break over an incident that involved no bloodshed and likely no state involvement (the Iranian government arrested several of the protesters), it seems likely that the Saudis were itching for an excuse to ramp up the conflict and hoped the execution of the cleric would provoke Iran into providing one.

The severing of diplomacy is often a prelude to full war. If a direct war between the Saudis and Iran were to break out, the blood-drenched chaos now afflicting the Middle East would widen even further. It would also pull each country’s allies even deeper into conflict, possibly leading to full-on direct war between Israel and Hezbollah, Turkey and Syria, even NATO and Russia.

We in America must demand that our government stop sending terror toys to Takfiris before the Saudis and their fellow travelers in ISIS and Al Qaeda precipitate a world war in which we could all lose our heads.


Heavy rains bring disease and disaster to France’s forgotten refugee camp

French gendarmes appear to block attempts to rebuild temporary shelters, as concern grows for health of hundreds of refugees

January 5, 2016

by Sarah Whitehead

The Guardian

Hundreds of refugees are living in dangerous, unsanitary conditions after days of heavy rain left their camp in northern France ankle-deep in filthy water, while guards have blocked migrants’ attempts to replace tents and rebuild temporary shelters.

Aid agencies working at the camp in Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk, say they are concerned for the health of the refugees due to an apparent ban on building materials, firewood and even blankets being brought into the compound during the cold, damp period.

The site, known as France’s “forgotten” camp and which is about 50 miles from Dover, is estimated to hold 3,000 refugees mainly from Syria, Iran and Iraq.

After Sunday night’s rain, 200 refugees – many of them children – had to leave their sodden tents to keep dry in the distribution shelter. By Monday a huge pool of water stood in the middle of the camp, which has destroyed large numbers of tents. Building rain-proof dry shelters or bringing new tents is forbidden, according to aid workers on the ground.

Laurent Sury, an emergency coordinator for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been working in Dunkirk since October, said: “We are worried as there have been almost six weeks of discussions of moving people and nothing has been done.

Despite the rain there are items we are not allowed to take, such as building materials like wood and new tents, and this is almost certainly because they do not want the camp to expand. It has made help very difficult.”

The French national gendarmerie, or military police, did not respond before publication to a request for clarification of why some building materials and much-needed supplies appeared to be blocked from entering the camp. The French embassy in London were also contacted but again did not provide a comment before the publication deadline.

One week after swaths of northern UK were flooded by Storm Frank, torrential rainfall across the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region has mounted new pressure on a camp already under severe strain.

According to volunteers on the new arrivals desk, between 50 and 100 new refugees have been arriving every day, which combined with the drop in temperature and recent downfall has left the camp completely devoid of resources. A number of refugees have been driven out of the Kurdish part of the Calais camp due to attacks of tear gas and rubber bullets from local guards.

As well as severely damaging their shelter, the rain has also brought disease, attracting flies and rats and causing significant health problems. The organisation Health and Nutrition Development Society International recently came to the camp to distribute flu vaccinations, and out of the 155 individuals they treated 96 had scabies and many were coughing up blood.

According to volunteers on the site, French police have been obstructing efforts to upgrade the camp for two weeks. They say local officers have been instructed not to allow any building materials or tents to enter the camp, making it impossible to replace damaged shelters.

Phoenix Clough, a volunteer from the Bristol based charity AidBox convoy (ABC), said: “We are completely restricted from bringing anything in, even though people are in desperate need. Our belief is that it is an attempt to restrict the growth of the camp.”

She added that the gendarmerie are frequently changing their interpretation of the instructions. “One day they denied blankets being brought but the next day it is OK. But something, else such as firewood, is not allowed,” said Clough.

Our tiny kitchen is currently full of people just wanting a place to stand to keep dry and warm, but it is not enough.”

One of the refugees is 25-year-old Beshwar, who also volunteers with ABC. Like many of the refugees, he is suffering from the severe cold and will be spending another night in a damp tent.

Before arriving at the camp, Beshwar was searching for his mother, who he was separated from in Greece, and with his brothers visited up to 60 camps across Europe from Athens to Berlin. The brothers finally found their mother in Dunkirk, which Beshwar says is by far the worst camp he has stayed in.

We are praying for it not to rain anymore as we can not cope,” he said. “Many people are sick as they are cold and wet. The charities are trying to do their best. We need government help. People are always trying to kill themselves as they can not carry on like this.”

MSF have been developing plans for the building of a new camp with sufficient resources but a time on when this will start being built has still not been settled.

While a solution is still being decided, the people at Grande-Synthe are left to deal with the damage left by the rain while families and individuals continue to arrive in the hundreds

We are eight unexperienced volunteers dealing with huge problems, such as toilets not working, medical problems and lack of food and shelter,” said Clough. “The truth is that even if we were allowed to bring resources there is nothing left to give. The aid seems to have stopped coming.”


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. 44

Date: Tuesday, October 29, 1996

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded: 9:05 AM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert. How is life treating you?

RTC: Well enough, I suppose. Yourself?

GD: Not too badly. I heard from Corson who wants me to come back for a meeting with you and himself soon. He neglected to mention Kimmel for some reason.

RTC: Kimmel will probably be along to subject you to his brilliant interrogative techniques.

GD: Good. That ought to be entertaining. Corson mentioned the University Club.

RTC: Yes. Up on Sixteenth Avenue past the White House. We can have lunch.

GD: Is the food good?

RTC: It’s not the Jockey Club but it will do. Do you have any idea when you will come?

GD: Probably early in December. Willis Carto1 wants to meet with me over the weekend in DC so we can get together just after that. I’ve been reading over this ZIPPER business and checking various dates out. Fascinating story, Robert, and hopefully it will make a good book. And before you say it, no, I won’t publish until after you’re gone. They were all of them into it, weren’t they?

RTC: Just a few of the top people, actually. We were talking about the Army plot to start a war with Cuba by attacking our planes and setting off a few bombs here. I believe we did talk about this.

GD: Yes.

RTC: Jim Bamford knows all about this. It’s called ‘Operation Northwoods’ and the plans are in the National Archives. I wouldn’t recommend your asking your friend Wolfe about it because he’d run to Langley with his tongue hanging out and then they would vanish without a trace. If you’re going to be here, I’ll give you chapter and verse so you can find them yourself. Oh and one other thing. You mentioned an Army file on top Nazis we used. Wolfe sent it to you?

GD: Yes, I got it from him.

RTC: If I gave you chapter and verse on it, would you confirm?

GD: Certainly.

RTC: Let me just find this…..always putting….here. ‘P&O file 311.5 TS, sections one two and three.’ Dated 1948. Is that the one?

GD: It sounds like it. I’m bad on numbers. Let me pull it out. Take about a minute.

RTC: Go ahead.


GD: That’s it.

RTC: That stupid son of a bitch had no right to give that to you. He’s playing both ends against the middle. When you come back here, could you make a copy and give it to me?

GD: I will do that.

RTC: That man is a rat, Gregory, a sewer rat.

GD: Don’t drag me into it, please. I never solicited it and he sent it to me so I would give him some Müller papers dealing with his employment by your people. Naturally, since I never asked for it, once it came and I read it, I pretended I never got it. This scared yesterday’s dinner out of him because he put his return address on it. He thinks some post office employee will find it and turn it over to the FBI. I think he’s afraid of going to jail.

RTC: He damned well ought to.

GD: Who knows, Robert? He might like it inside the big house. You know what they say, don’t you? If you can’t get a woman get a clean old man.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: My, and such a lot of Gestapo and SD people, not to mention a few Einsatzgruppen people we transported here, gave new names and ID to and made them GS18s… I think Wolfe wanted me to publish this and embarrass the CIA and the Army. He can’t, of course, so he thinks he is very clever using me as a cat’s paw. And to show you how brilliant an operative he is, the thing came in a NA envelope with his name written above the return address. Is he typical of the type of pseudo-academics you use?

RTC: These are useless attention-craving idiots but useful in their way.

GD: As fertilizer in your garden? You know the old saying that those who can, do, and others teach? Fits them perfectly. I have been running into academics for years. Petty, puffed-up bags of shit who squall and attack each other with their purses over the most trivial things. And, of course, they steal from everyone and then call it research. I might cite the case of Stephen Ambrose, the wonderful historian. He published a book once called a ‘Handbook on German Military Forces.’ Problem was, the book had been published in 1945 by the War Department as TM-E 30-451. Of course it wasn’t illegal to steal it, page by page, because it was public domain, but after I brought this to the attention of his publishers, the next edition had certain credit corrections. He probably blamed it all on his careless typist. You know, I always recommend an Ambrose book because you can get three books for the price of one. Why ever do you use such slugs? I’ll bet that even now, Mortimer Z. Tinsley, PhD, DVM is working on a devastating attack on the Müller book. He probably teaches at some obscure school like Antelope Valley Teacher’s College, in the history department, and his doctoral thesis, which he stole in its entirely, was entitled ‘A History of Fraud in Bulgarian Bar Mitzvahs in the Nineteenth Century.’  He will point out that Müller died in 1945 and my book is fuller of shit than a Christmas turkey. Of course he’s prating about Dr. Heinrich Müller, not Gestapo Müller, but I’ll just bet The New York Times Sunday book section will carry a wonderful review of it. I love that section. They push forward deeply moving books about a black orphan boy raised in Georgia by two vegetarian lesbians and his poignant and deeply moving struggles to become a champion purse snatcher-cum-pimp in Hell’s Kitchen. The sort of silly shit that no one reads but the editor knows the publisher.

RTC: Oh, we do have our stable of weird people working for us. Did I ever tell you about the Pedophile Academy, Gregory?

GD: Are you speaking of Yale, Robert?

RTC: No, no we actually had one down at Camp Peary. Right near Jim Critchfield’s place. I don’t know if you are aware of it but we called it The Farm and it was supposed to be a secret training center for young agents. Anyway, Allen Dulles set up this training center down there for pedophiles. They were in training to seduce, molest and, most especially, photograph the young children of targets. Not only, Allen reasoned, would our graduates have a spanking good time but they could get wonderful action pictures of the wee ones to blackmail their families with.

GD: Sick.

RTC: One could say that. I understand they broke it up when one of the graduates nailed a Deputy Director’s son at a summer camp.

GD: Another boat trip?

RTC: I really don’t know. I heard he had a sudden heart attack. We do those very well, you know.

GD: I am aware. A French doctor invented the drug. The Gestapo used it internally and externally and through Müller, we got it. Is that what you’re talking about?

RTC: I think so.

GD: Müller told me that when he came to Washington, they were tossing people out of windows. Forrestal went crazy and they chunked him out of the sixteenth floor clinic at Bethesda. That’s the special floor where they keep Senators who flip out and run around the Mall in the nude.

RTC: I think it’s more of a drunk tank, Gregory. McCarthy was locked up there for a time.

GD: They should have put him out the window. Müller used to say that this showed no consideration for people passing on the sidewalk below or expensive parked cars. Imagine an overweight official descending ten stories onto your new Packard or worse, on your Christmas shopping wife. Think of the lost gifts, Robert, and you too will weep.

RTC: Gregory, you are a terrible person.

GD: I know that, Robert. I once put angel hair…you know, the spun glass insulation…into my sister’s underwear before a family dinner and she spent most of the time scratching her crotch and other unmentionable body areas right at the table. I told everyone she had crabs and she had to leave the table. I understand her swollen pudenda looked like an eggplant.

RTC: (Laughter) Gregory, you are really very bad. But entertaining.

GD: I know. Anyway, when I come back to see you I have some ZIPPER questions for you.

RTC: Yes, I much prefer a face-to-face. But, my God, not at the University Club lunch.

GD: Of course not.

RTC: If Tom Kimmel ever got wind of what we were up to, he would have my place raided.

GD: Oh my God, Robert, he might find the Swiss Music Box.

RTC: Speaking of that, it seems to be working. At least it scares off all the birds and every time I put it on, the dogs in the neighborhood howl like demons.

GD: Maybe the poor Swiss are soaking their embassy floor with urine. Did you ever think of that?

RTC: It did occur to me. But enough merriment for today. I have to get ready to go to the doctor’s office so I will speak with you later.

(Concluded at 9:05 AM CST)


Cologne inquiry into ‘coordinated’ New Year’s Eve sex attacks

Scores of women say they were sexually assaulted and mugged by groups of men largely of Arab and north African appearance

January 5, 2016

by Kate Connolly in Berlin

The Guardian

German police are investigating reports that scores of women were sexually assaulted and mugged in Cologne city centre during New Year’s Eve celebrations, in what a minister called a “completely new dimension of crime”.

Authorities and media were accused of a cover-up linked to initial indications that, according to the police, those allegedly responsible for the sex attacks and numerous robberies were of Arab and north African origin.

Sixty complaints were filed to police, a third of which were linked to sexual assault. Cologne’s mayor, Henriette Reker, called an emergency meeting of high-ranking security officials on Tuesday, saying her aim was to ensure the city centre did not turn into a “lawless zone”.

Between 500 and 1,000 men described as drunk and aggressive are believed to have been behind the attacks on partygoers in the centre of the western German city. Whether they were working as a single group or in separate gangs remains unclear.

Women reported being tightly surrounded by groups of men who harassed and mugged them. Some people threw fireworks into the crowds, adding to the chaos.

Sexual crimes took place on a huge scale,” said the police president, Wolfgang Albers. “The crimes were committed by a group of people who from appearance were largely from the north African or Arab world.”

He said one of the victims had been raped. A volunteer policewoman was among those said to have been sexually assaulted.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, called Reker to express her outrage, according to a statement from her office. She called for authorities to find the perpetrators as “quickly and comprehensively as possible and to punish them without regard to their origin or background.”

Officers are working on the assumption that the men had organised their plan of attack. They said many of the perpetrators were known to them and some may have been asylum seekers, though not new arrivals to Germany.

Similar attacks are believed to have taken place on a smaller scale in Hamburg’s red light district of St Pauli on New Year’s Eve, according to a police spokesman.

In Cologne, police said the men appeared to have come from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and were on average in their mid-20s. They had gathered on the square in front of the main train station next to the city’s towering Gothic cathedral and smaller groups of men appeared to repeatedly leave the group to target female revellers, many of whom had arrived via train from the provinces around Cologne to celebrate the new year in the city.

Heiko Maas, Germany’s justice minister, condemned the attacks and called for better police protection in German cities. “The despicable attacks on women will not be tolerated. This is obviously a completely new dimension of organised crime,” he tweeted.

Barbara Steffens, the minister for emancipation in the North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) government, said the New Year’s Eve incident was “the tip of a very unpleasant iceberg”. She called for a “larger societal condemnation of a male abuse of power”.

The density of the crowds in Cologne meant that hundreds of police were deployed on Thursday night. Questions are being asked as to how they failed to realise until much later that crimes were taking place on such a large scale. Police say the full extent of the attacks only became clear in the following days as increasing numbers of victims began to come forward. It is believed that many women have yet to report assaults, and police appealed for people who had not already done so to come forward.

Arnold Plickert, head of the police trade union in NRW, told the Deutsche Presse Agentur that the incidents were “of a new quality … What we’ve been able to establish is that this is an organised method.”

He said questions needed to be asked as to “how it was possible that this thousand-strong group was able to come to Cologne and meet up there”.

Police in Hamburg said some aspects of the attackers’ methods were akin to those of skilled pickpockets operating in the city.

Officers of Operation New Year, set up to investigate the attacks, will examine CCTV footage from in and around the station in an effort to identify perpetrators. Reker said a discussion on installing further cameras would form part of her emergency talks.

One of the victims, identified only as Katja L, told the Kölner Express: “When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group we met, which was made up only of foreign men … We walked through the group of men, there was a tunnel through them, we walked through … I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and hit them, they men didn’t stop. I was horrified and I think I was touched around 100 times over the 200 metres.”

One investigator told the Kölner Express: “The female victims were so badly pushed about, they had heavy bruises on their breasts and behinds.”

Critics of Merkel’s open-door policy on refugees were quick to blame it for the attacks, despite the police’s insistence that the alleged perpetrators were not new arrivals.

One tweet attributed to a follower of Pegida, the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant protest group , stated: “Merkel … you’re an accessory to the abuse at Cologne.”

On Pegida’s Facebook page, a woman identifying herself as Angelina Southern got more than 500 likes for her comment: “I could puke when I read this, and there are still so many deluded idiots who say ‘Welcome refugees’ … Close the borders now. For God’s sake, Merkel belongs on the scaffold.”

The attacks have been the main talking point on Twitter in Germany, with some people accusing the media of a cover-up and others expressing their concern that the incident would be seized on by anti-refugee groups.

On New Year’s Eve worldwide attention had been focused on the southern German city of Munich where areas around the main station and another station outside the centre were closed after intelligence reports indicated that Islamic State supporters planned to launch attacks. It followed the cancellation of a football match in the northern city of Hanover in November after a French tipoff that Isis planned to target the stadium.

In October, Reker, was the victim of a vicious attack over her refugee-friendly policies when she was stabbed in the neck by a man during her campaign as an independent candidate for the mayorship.

Each subsequent incident has prompted an escalation in the fierce debate over whether Germany is making itself more vulnerable due to its refugee policy.


Why the Islamic State Is the Minor Leagues of Terror:  Putting Threats into Perspective for 2016

by Tom Engelhardt

It’s time to panic!

As 2015 ended, this country was certifiably terror-stricken. It had the Islamic State (IS) on the brain. Hoax terror threats or terror imbroglios shut down school systems from Los Angeles to New Hampshire, Indiana to a rural county in Virginia. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, citing terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, cancelled a prospective tour of Europe thanks to terror fears, issuing a statement that “orchestra management believes there is an elevated risk to the safety of musicians and their families, guest artists, DSO personnel, and travelling patrons.” By year’s end, the Justice Department had charged an ”unprecedented” 60 people with terrorism-related crimes (often linked to social media exchanges).

While just north of the border Canada’s new government and its citizens were embracing the first of 25,000 Syrian refugees in an atmosphere of near celebration, citizens and government officials in the lower 48 were squabbling and panicking about the few who had made it here. (“Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner, compared Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes, posting on Facebook images of snakes and refugees and asking, ‘Can you tell me which of these rattlers won’t bite you?’”)

In the two presidential debates that ended the year, focusing in whole or part on “national security,” the only global subject worthy of discussion was — you guessed it — the Islamic State and secondarily immigration and related issues. Media panelists didn’t ask a single question in either debate about China or Russia (other than on the IS-related issue of who might shoot down Russian planes over Syria) or about the relative success of the French right-wing, anti-Islamist National Front Party and its presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen (even though her American analog, Donald Trump, was on stage in one debate and a significant subject of the other). And that just begins a long list of national security issues that no one felt it worth bringing up, including the fact that in Paris 195 countries had agreed on a potentially path-breaking climate change deal.

As the Dallas Symphony Orchestra signaled, “Paris” now means only one thing in this country: the bloody terror attack on the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan theater and related assaults. In fact, if you were following the “news” here as 2015 ended, you might be forgiven for thinking that we Americans lived in a land beset by, and under siege from, Islamic terror and the Islamic State. The latest polls indicate that striking numbers of Americans now view the threat of terrorism as the country’s number one danger, see it as a (if not the) critical issue facing us, believe that it and national security should be the government’s top priorities, and are convinced that the terrorists are at present “winning.”

You would never know that, if you left out what might be called self-inflicted pain like death by vehicle (more than 33,000 deaths annually), suicide by gun (more than 21,000 annually) or total gun deaths (30,000 annually), and fatal drug overdoses (more than 47,000 annually), this is undoubtedly one of the safest countries on the planet. Over these years, the American dead from Islamic terror outfits or the “lone wolves” they inspire have added up to the most modest of figures, even if you include that single great day of horror, September 11, 2001. Include deaths from non-Islamic right-wing acts of terror (including, for instance, Dylann Roof’s murders in a black church in Charleston), a slightly more impressive figure in recent years, and you still have next to nothing. Even if you add in relatively commonplace mass shootings, from school campuses to malls to workplaces, that are not defined as “terror,” and accept the broadest possible definition of such shootings (a minimum of four killed or injured), you would still have the sort of danger that couldn’t be more modest compared to death by vehicle, suicide, or drugs — phenomena that obsess few Americans.

The Islamic State in Perspective

Still, as 2016 begins, terror remains the 800-pound gorilla (in reality, a marmoset) in the American room and just about the only national security issue that truly matters. So why shouldn’t I join the crowd? Who wants to be left in the lurch?  But first, I think it makes sense to put the Islamic State in perspective.

Yes, it’s a brutal, extreme religious-cum-political outfit, the sort of movement that probably could only arise on a shattered landscape in a shattered region filled with desperate souls looking for any explanation for, or solution to, nightmarish lives. There can be no question that it’s had remarkable success. Its self-proclaimed “caliphate” now controls territory the size of (to choose a common comparison) Great Britain with a population of perhaps a few million people. Since there are seldom reporters on the scene (for obvious reasons of health and well-being), we have no idea whether IS has 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000 fighters and potential suicide bombers under arms. We do know that those arms (despite a couple of captured tanks) are generally light and the bombs largely of the homemade variety.

The Islamic State has shown quite a knack for generating a stream of revenue from black market oil sales, ransoms from kidnappings, the ransacking of the region’s archeological heritage, and wealthy Sunnis elsewhere in the region. In addition, it’s been skilled at promoting its “brand” in other parts of the Greater Middle East and Africa, from Afghanistan to Libya, Yemen to Nigeria, where local populations are also facing shattered landscapes, failed states, oppressive governments, and desperation. Finally, thanks to the talents of its social media militants, it’s shown a facility for attracting disaffected (and sometimes whacked-out) young Muslims from Europe and even the United States, as well as for inspiring “lone wolves” to acts meant to unnerve its enemies in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere.

So give credit where it’s due. Compared to a few training camps in Afghanistan — the al-Qaeda model before 2001 (and again recently) — this is no small thing. But the Islamic State should also be put in some perspective.  It’s not Nazi Germany. It’s not the Soviet Union. It’s not an existential threat to the United States.  It’s a distinctly self-limited movement, probably only capable of expanding its reach if even more of the region is laid to waste (as is, for instance, happening in Yemen right now, thanks in large part to a U.S.-backed Saudi war on the Iranian-inclined Houthi rebels).

IS is so deeply sectarian that it can never gain the support of a single Shia, Christian, Alawite, or Yazidi.  Its practices, religious and political, are too extreme for many of the Sunnis it might want to appeal to.  It is also an embattled movement.  It has already lost some of the lands it captured to U.S.-backed Kurds in both Syria and Iraq and to the U.S.-backed, U.S.-equipped, and U.S.-trained Iraqi Army as well as Shiite militias.  Its extremity has clearly alienated some of the Sunnis under its control.  It’s unlikely to take seven decades, as in the case of the Soviet Union, to implode and disappear.

On the other hand, if the Islamic State, at least in its present form, is crushed or driven into some corner and the region is “liberated,” one thing is guaranteed — as images of the rubble and landscapes of skeletal buildings left behind at the “victorious” battle sites of Kobane, Sinjar, Homs, and Ramadi will tell you.  Combine the massively bomb-laden, booby-trapped urban areas under Islamic State control, American air power (or, in parts of Syria, the barrel-bombing air force of the government of Bashar al-Assad and now the firepower of Russia), and fierce urban combat, and what may be left in the moment of “victory” could be a region in utter ruins. One expert suggests that it may take decades and cost $200 billion — three times Syria’s prewar gross domestic product — to rebuild that country, bringing to mind the famed line from Tacitus: “They make a desert and call it peace.”

And just remind me, who’s going to help with the reconstruction of that shattered land?  Donald Trump?  Don’t count on it.  And don’t for a second believe that from such devastated worlds nothing worse than the Islamic State can arise.

While we may be talking about a terror machine, IS represents a far more modest and embattled one than its social media propaganda would indicate.  Its ability to threaten the U.S. bears little relation to the bogeyman version of it that at present occupies the American imagination.  The sole advantage the Islamic State has when it comes to this country is that it turns out to be so easy to spook us.

A Republic of Insects and Grass”

Still, don’t for a second think that terror isn’t on the American agenda.  You really want terror?  Let me tell you about terror.  And I’m not talking about 14 dead (San Bernardino) or 130 dead (Paris). What about up to 140,000 dead?  (The toll from Hiroshima.)  What about 285 million dead?  (The official estimate of the dead, had the U.S. military’s Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP, of 1960 been carried out via more than 3,200 nuclear weapons delivered to 1,060 targets in the Communist world, including at least 130 cities — and that didn’t include casualty figures from whatever the Soviet Union might have been able to launch in response.)

Or what about — to move from past slaughters and projected slaughters to future ones — a billion dead?  Despite the recent surprise visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Pakistani counterpart, that remains a perfectly “reasonable” possibility, were a nuclear war ever to develop in South Asia.  India and Pakistan, after all, face each other across a heavily armed and fortified 1,800 mile border, having fought three major wars since 1947.  Small armed incidents are commonplace.  Imagine that — to take just one possible scenario — extreme elements in the Pakistani military (or other extremist elements) got their hands on some part of that country’s ever-expanding nuclear arsenal, now believed to be at about 130 weapons, and loosed one or more of them on India, starting a nuclear exchange over issues that no one else on Earth gives a damn about.

Imagine that, in the course of the war that followed, each side released “only” 50 Hiroshima-sized weapons on the other’s cities and industrial areas (“0.4% of the world’s more than 25,000 warheads”).  One study suggests that, along with the 20 million or so inhabitants of South Asia who would die in such an exchange, this “modest” local nuclear conflagration would send enough smoke and particulates into the stratosphere to cause a planetary “nuclear winter” lasting perhaps a decade.  The ensuing failure of agricultural systems globally could, according to experts, lead a billion or more people to starve to death.  (And once you’re talking about a crisis of that magnitude, one humanity has never experienced, god knows what other systems might fail at the same time.)

I hope by now you’re feeling a little shudder of fear or at least anxiety.  Perhaps not, though, since we’re remarkably well protected from thinking about the deeper terrors of our planet.  And mind you, if you’re talking terror, that South Asian war is penny ante compared to the sort of event that would be associated with the thousands of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the United States and Russia.  Since the Cold War ended, they have more or less been hidden in plain sight.  Call it an irony of sorts, then, that nuclear weapons have loomed large on the American landscape in these years, just not the ones that could truly harm us.  Instead, Americans have largely focused in the usual semi-hysterical fashion on a nuclear weapon — the Iranian bomb — that never existed, while Russian and American arsenals undoubtedly capable of destroying more than one Earth-sized planet have remained in place, heavily funded and largely unnoted.

When you look at what might be posssible under unknown future conditions, there is no reason to stop with mere millions or even a billion dead human beings.  A major nuclear exchange, it is believed, could lead to the shredding of the planetary environment and a literal liquidation of humanity: the wiping out, that is, of ourselves and the turning of this country into, in the phrase of Jonathan Schell, “a republic of insects and grass.”  As he explained so famously in his international bestseller of 1982, The Fate of the Earth, this became a genuine possibility in the post-Hiroshima decades and it remains so today, though given scant attention in a world in which tensions between the U.S. and Russia have been on the rise.

Apocalypses, Fast or Slow-Mo

It’s not that we don’t live on an increasingly terrifying planet.  We do.  It’s that terror fears, at least in our American world, are regularly displaced onto relatively minor threats.

If you want to be scared, consider this unlikelihood: in the course of just a few centuries, humanity has stumbled upon two uniquely different ways of unleashing energy — the burning of fossil fuels and the splitting of the atom — that have made the sort of apocalypse that was once the property of the gods into a human possession.  The splitting of the atom and its application to war was, of course, a conscious scientific discovery.  Its apocalyptic possibilities were grasped almost immediately by some of its own creators, including physicist Robert Oppenheimer who played a key role in the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb during World War II.  As he witnessed its awesome power in its initial test in the New Mexican desert, this line from the Bhagavad Gita came to his mind: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The destroyer of worlds indeed — or at least, potentially, of the one world that matters to humanity.

The other method of wrecking the planet was developed without the intent to destroy: the discovery that coal, oil, and later natural gas could motor economies.  It was not known until the final decades of the last century that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of such forms of energy could heat the planet in startling ways and undermine the very processes that promoted life as we had always experienced it.  It’s worth adding, however, that the executives of the giant oil companies knew a great deal about the dangers their products posed to Earth way before most of the rest of us did, suppressed that information for a surprisingly long time, and then invested prodigious sums in promoting the public denial of those very dangers.  (In the process, they left the Republican Party wrapped in a straightjacket of climate change denial unique on the planet.) Someday, this will undoubtedly be seen as one of the great crimes of history, unless of course there are no historians left to write about it.

In other words, if enough fossil fuels continue to be burned in the many decades to come, another kind of potential extinction event can be imagined, a slow-motion apocalypse of extreme weather — melting, burning, flooding, sea-level rise, storming, and who knows what else.

And if humanity has already managed to discover two such paths of utter destruction, what else, at present unimagined, might someday come into focus?

In this context, think of the Islamic State as the minor leagues of terror, though at the moment you wouldn’t know it.  If we are all now the children of the holocaust — of, that is, our own possible extinction — and if this is the inheritance we are to leave to our own children and grandchildren, perhaps it’s understandable that it feels better to fear the Islamic State.  Its evil is so specific, so “other,” so utterly alien and strangely distant.  It’s almost comforting to focus on its depredations, ignoring, of course, the grotesquely large hand our country had in its creation and in the more general spread of terror movements across the Greater Middle East.

It’s so much more comfortable to fear extreme Islamist movements than to take in two apocalyptic terrors that are clearly part of our own patrimony — and, to make matters harder, one of which is likely to unfold over a time period that’s hard to grasp, and the other under as yet difficult to imagine political circumstances.

It’s clear that neither of these true terrors of our planet and our age has to happen (or at least, in the case of climate change, come to full fruition).  To ensure that, however, we and our children and grandchildren would have to decide that the fate of our Earth was indeed at stake and act accordingly.  We would have to change the world.


Sympathy for jailed ranchers, anger at occupiers in Oregon town

January 5, 2016

by Jonathan Allen and Jim Urquhart


BURNS, Ore.-Residents of the Oregon town thrust into the spotlight after self-styled militiamen took over a U.S. wildlife refuge voiced sympathy for the jailed ranchers whose plight inspired the action but were critical of the armed protesters.

Saturday’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside the town of Burns, Oregon, marked the latest protest over federal management of public land in the West, long seen by conservatives in the region as an intrusion on individual rights.

Ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven, who on Monday surrendered to serve longer prison terms for setting fires that spread to federal land, had been regulars at a town diner where residents were sympathetic and said they feared the federal government wanted to seize ranch lands for its own use.

“The BLM wants that land bad and they’ll probably end up getting it,” said Tim Slate, a butcher who said he had gone out to slaughter the Hammonds’ cattle many times over the years, using an acronym for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. “The federal government wants to take over the state of Oregon and turn it into a park.”

Diners voiced skepticism about protest leader Ammon Bundy, the son of a Nevada rancher who along with a large group of armed men successfully stared down federal agents in 2014 when the government attempted to confiscate his livestock because he refused to pay grazing fees.

“I don’t think it’s right to take over a public building,” said James Arndt, a retired painter. “I’m kind of mixed about that.”

He echoed other residents of the town of some 3,000 people about 280 miles (451 km) southeast of Portland, who viewed the occupation as the work of outside agitators. Lawyers from the Hammonds have sought to disassociate themselves from the occupiers, saying that the action did not represent their clients’ will.

But Bundy said some locals had been stopping by with food for the occupiers.

“A particular rancher … brought a very, very good pot of soup that was needed on a late night when we were very hungry,” he said.

Authorities have closed schools for the week in the area out of concerns of possible violence, although so far the occupation has been peaceful.


Bundy on Tuesday said his group, which has named itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, wanted to work with residents of Harney County to help them regain unfettered access to public lands for ranching and logging.

“We’re not about fear, we’re not about force, we’re not about intimidation,” Bundy told reporters at the refuge. “If the government is bringing that fear and intimidation, it needs to be checked and balanced.”

Early in the occupation Bundy said that many of his supporters were armed, although members of the occupation have not been showing weapons in recent days.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, in a statement on behalf of himself and County Judge Steven Grasty on Monday, asked group members to go home. He called a Tuesday afternoon meeting for county residents to discuss their concerns about the situation.

Neither protesters nor authorities have said how many people are involved in the occupation. About a dozen occupiers have been visible at the site.

The FBI said it was working with state and local law enforcement for a peaceful resolution and federal law enforcement officials have kept their distance from the wildlife refuge, which is closed to visitors. They are following U.S. policy guidelines instituted to prevent such standoffs from turning deadly as they did in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas in the early 1990s.

“It’s not exactly clear what the motives or intentions are of the individuals who are involved in this particular situation. The speculation by some is that it’s politically motivated,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday. “I certainly wouldn’t want to say something from here that could be construed as inflaming that situation.”

The success of the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch, likely emboldened the occupiers of the refuge, observers said.

“They forced the federal government at gunpoint to stand down. They won,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups.

“The group that’s holed up there in Burns seems to think they’re going to take that same idea to another level: You solve your issues over land usage or grazing fees or whatever by refusing to pay up and then using weapons to run cops off the land.”

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Andy Sullivan and Doina Chiacu in Washington and Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)


Resarchers uncover first-of-its-kind JavaScript based ransomware

Janauary 5, 2016


A new kind Javascript-based ransomware package is reportedly being sold on the dark web. Its users log into software that is provided as a service in exchange for giving the developers a cut of their extorted profits.

Emisoft Chief Technology Officer Fabian Wosar described the malware ‒ called Ransom32 ‒ and its web interface in a blog post, saying that users log in with their Bitcoin wallet addresses. Signups and connections are hidden within the Tor network, an anonymization system that requires special software to access.

Victims have critical files on their system held for ransom behind encryption that only the attacker has the key to unlock. Once logged in, cyber criminals are presented with a settings panel where they can adjust the messages displayed to those unlucky enough to be infected. Attackers can also track the payments made and see a list of the systems that were successfully infected.

Ransom32 works across operating systems and is based on the NW.js application development framework. The JavaScript malware is delivered in the form of a file named “chrome.exe” alongside a Tor client, which anonymizes all the traffic that is sent between the attacker and the victim.

After installing itself on a victim’s computer, Ransomware uses 128-bit AES encryption to hold hostage generally important file types, such as text files, PDFs, images, databases and music. If the victim wants to access these files again, they have to send payment in the form of bitcoin to the attacker, who can then choose to unlock them. The Ransom32 developers take a 25 percent cut of all the payments.

If a victim chooses to drag their feet, the payment required to unlock their computer will increase, the malware warns.

You only have 4 days to submit the payment. When the provided time ends, payment will increase to 1 Bitcoins,” an example of Ransom32 says, as shown by security website BleepingComputer. “Also, if you don’t pay in 7 days, your unique key will be destroyed and you won’t be able to recover your files anymore.”Trying to get out of the ransom without paying is similarly cautioned against.

If you try to remove this payment platform, you will never be able to decrypt your files and they will be lost forever,” the ransomware warns.

To show that they are serious about returning files safely, Ransom32 offers a novel feature “to decrypt a single file to demonstrate that the malware author has the capability to reverse the decryption,” Wosar noted. “During this process the malware will send the encrypted AES key from the chosen file to the (command and control) server and gets the decrypted per-file AES key back in return.”


Things To Do When Bored

15 things to do at Wal-Mart while your spouse/significant other is taking his/her sweet time1. Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people’s carts when they aren’t looking. 2. Set all the alarm clocks in housewares to go off at 5 minute intervals. 3. Make a trail of apple juice on the floor to the rest rooms. 4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, ‘Code 3 in housewares,’…and see what happens. 5. Go to the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M’s on lay away. 6. Move a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area. 7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you’ll only invite them in if they bring pillows from the bedding department. 8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone? 9. Look right into the security camera and use it as a mirror while you pick your nose. 10. While handling guns in the hunting department ask the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are. 11. Dart around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the theme from ‘Mission Impossible’. 12. In the auto department practice your Madonna look using different size funnels. 13. Hide in the clothing rack and when people browse through say ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!!!!!!’ 14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker assume the fetal position and scream ‘NO! NO! It’s those voices again’. And last but not least, 15. Go into a fitting room and shout very loudly… ‘Hey! We’re out of toilet paper in here!’

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