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TBR News January 8, 2016

Jan 07 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C.  January 7, 2016: “There are major weather pattern changes throughout the world. No one knows why this is taking place but the bloggers and other self-imporrtant empty drums are making their usual noise. Where this is impacting most is in areas of the world that are full of people, all very poor, and empty of water and food. Look for mass migrations in the coming few years that will surpass the flight of the Syrians, Nigerians, Libyans and others now pouring into an unprepared Europe. To understand this, one can read Malthus on population but since that work is over three pages, it is doubtful if anyone would bother with it.”

 

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.

http://www.amazon.com/Conversations-Crow-Gregory-Douglas-ebook/dp/B00GHMAQ5E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450147193&sr=8-1&keywords=conversations+with+the+crow

 

Conversation No. 69

Date: Saturday February 22,1997

Commenced: 2:05 PM CST

Concluded: 2:40 PM CST

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GD: And Mills was right.

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

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

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

GD: I’d say you need both.

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

GD: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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

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

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

GD: Money talks…

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

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

RTC: In what way is that?

GD Pragmatic cynicism.

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

 

(Concluded at 2:40 PM CST)

 

 

Saudi Arabia – a monster of the West’s creation

January 7, 2016

by John Wright

RT

 

The deepening crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran, following the controversial execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudis, shows no evidence of abating. Direct military confrontation is now a distinct possibility.

For many experts, analysts, commentators, and people familiar with the Middle East, the prospect of military conflict between the Saudis and the Iranians will come as no surprise. For some years both countries have been engaged in a de facto Cold War as representatives of Sunni and Shia Islam each seek to establish their legitimacy. This dates back to the original schism of 632AD, after Prophet Muhammad’s death.

In its modern incarnation, the fissure within Islam between both branches and their respective legitimacy as representatives of the true faith has taken on political and geopolitical dimensions, given the wider strategic importance of the resource-rich Arab and Muslim world.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran deteriorated rapidly in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, which toppled the US puppet regime led by the Shah.

The Saudis, worried about growing Shiite influence in the region as a consequence, and regarding themselves as the theological guardians of Sunni Islam, have worked to oppose any such influence at every turn in the decades since.

The oppression of its own Shiite minority, along with the repression of Shiite pro democracy movements in Bahrain and Yemen in recent years, is evidence of Riyadh’s increasingly aggressive stance in the region, proving a key factor in its destabilization in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring of 2011. This revolutionary surge swept through Tunisia and Egypt only to conclude in a counter revolutionary backlash, wherein it was hijacked by extremists who were fuelled by a literalist interpretation of Sunni Islam; one almost indistinguishable from the Wahhabi religious doctrine that underpins the Saudi state.

The role of the Saudis in supporting various groups fighting in Syria is by now well known, which in conjunction with the upsurge in beheadings and executions being carried out in the kingdom over the past two years, suggests a regime consumed with insecurity over the dominance of Sunni Islam as a political force. The announcement on Monday that Sudan had decided to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran, and with Bahrain also lining up alongside Riyadh, merely confirms this. Add to the mix the collapse of US leadership and influence in the region and the prospect of the crisis lapsing into open conflict is very real.

Saudi Arabia, despite its repeated and flagrant violations of human rights both within and outside its borders, and despite the destabilization it has helped wrought, enjoys the protection of its Western allies. Saudi Arabia has long been the biggest market for Western arms exports, and in the process of its long and favored relations with the West, it has perfected the art of saying one thing to the West and another to its own people and adherents across the Muslim world. However, there is no confusion when it comes to its actions, which have charted a course of ever increasing belligerency and extremism.

When it comes to Iran, we are talking about a country that has been much maligned in the West for decades. It is painted as a rogue state and a threat to security and stability. Nobody forgets its inclusion in former US President George W Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ along with North Korea and Iraq. A sworn enemy of Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iran existed under a strict sanctions regimen for many years, and only recently was brought in from the cold by the Obama administration in the wake of diplomatic talks to end the impasse over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Obama’s peace overtures to the Iranians met with consternation in Tel Aviv and Riyadh. The nuclear deal caused a rupture in relations between Washington and its longstanding allies. Add to this the reluctance of Obama to commit to toppling Assad in Syria with sufficient force and never has an administration been regarded so poorly in the region as the Obama administration by the Israelis and the Saudis.

In truth, Iran has long been a pillar of stability in the Middle East. It has no territorial ambitions and its non-sectarianism is evidenced in its unwavering support for the overwhelmingly Sunni and long suffering Palestinians.

The region is in the throes of an ever deepening and intensifying crisis, triggered in the first instance by the disastrous US-led war of aggression on Iraq in 2003 and continued by the West’s role in helping to topple the Gaddafi government in Libya. There was a failure to adequately appreciate the threat posed by terrorism and extremism, both of which have proliferated as a consequence of the West’s actions since 9/11. Destroying the village in order to save it has been the strategy of governments, which have allowed regional allies such as Saudi Arabia to spread and propagate the poison of sectarianism and barbarism unchecked.

We are talking about people who as Oscar Wilde once quipped, “understand the price of everything and the value of nothing.” They are pushing the region into the most dangerous period it has experienced since the end of the Cold War.

Albert Camus says: “A man without ethics is a wild beast let loose upon this world.” The same sentiment can be applied to states and governments.

Step forward Saudi Arabia.

 

Out-Of-Body Nonsense

by Harry von Johnson PhD

 

SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), is a American technology applications company headquartered in the United States and who works for a number of U.S. federal, state, and private sector clients. It works extensively with the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the American domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, as well as other U.S. Government civil agencies and selected commercial markets.From 2001 to 2005, SAIC was the primary contractor for the FBI’s unsuccessful Virtual Case File project. SAIC relocated its corporate headquarters to their existing facilities in Tysons Corner in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near McLean, in September 2009. As part of its outsourcing solution, SAIC has development centers in Noida and Bangalore, India. Scicom Technologies Noida was acquired by SAIC in September 2007.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) transitioned a Remote Viewing Program to SAIC in 1991 and it was renamed Stargate Project. STARGATE was one of a number of “remote viewing programs” conducted under a variety of code names, including SUN STREAK, GRILL FLAME, and CENTER LANE by DIA and INSCOM, and SCANATE by the eccentrics at the CIA. These efforts were initiated to assess foreign programs in the field; contract for basic research into the phenomenon; and to evaluate controlled remote viewing as an intelligence tool.

The program consisted of two separate activities. An operational unit employed remote viewers to train and perform remote viewing intelligence-gathering. The research program was maintained separately from the operational unit.

This effort was initiated in response to CIA concerns about highly unreliable reports of Soviet investigations of ‘psychic phenomena.’ Between 1969 and 1971, US intelligence sources erroneously concluded that the Soviet Union was engaged in “psychotronic” research. By 1970, it was suggested that the Soviets were spending approximately 60 million rubles per year on it, and over 300 million by 1975. The money and personnel devoted to Soviet psychotronics suggested that they had achieved breakthroughs, even though the matter was considered speculative, controversial and “fringy.” Using a declared, but fictional ‘Soviet threat,’ the CIA and other agencies have successfully deluded Congress, and often the White House, into heavily funding project that the agencies consider to be ‘cash cows.’

The initial research program, called SCANATE [scan by coordinate] was funded by CIA beginning in 1970. Remote viewing research began in 1972 at the Stanford Research Institute [SRI] in Menlo Park, CA. This work was conducted by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, once with the NSA and a later-identified Scientologist. The effort initially focused on a few “gifted individuals” such as the very eccentric Ingo Swann, an OT Level VII Scientologist. Many of the SRI “empaths” were from the Church of Scientology. Individuals who appeared to show potential were trained and taught to use talents for “psychic warfare.” The minimum accuracy needed by the clients was said to be 65%, and proponents claim that in the later stages of the training effort, this accuracy level was “often consistently exceeded.”

Ingo Swann born in 1933 in Telluride, Colorado, has been heavily involved with the bizarre Scientology movement from its onset and is best known for his work as a co-creator (according to his frequent collaborators Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff) of what has been called ‘remote viewing,’ specifically the Stargate Project.

Swann has described himself as a “consciousness researcher” who had sometimes experienced “altered states of consciousness.” In other words, Swann actually believed that “special” individuala can leave their body and travel through space..

Swann helped develop the process of remote viewing at the Stanford Research Institute in experiments that caught the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency. He proposed the idea of Coordinate Remote Viewing, a process in which ‘remote viewers’ would see a location given nothing but its geographical coordinates,. This bizarre project, was developed and tested by Puthoff and Targ with CIA funding.. Details and transcripts of the SRI remote viewing experiments themselves were found to be edited and even unobtainable.

A “Dr. Silfen” and Swann prepared an unofficial report of later out-of-body experiments and circulated it to 500 members of the ASPR, before the ASPR board was aware of it. According to Swann, Dr. Silfen has ‘disappeared’  (or like so many other Scientology stories, never existed) and ‘cannot be located.’ Swann claimed he searched diligently for her and begged help from all his Scientology friends. According to Swann, in April 1972 a move was made at the ASPR in New York to discredit him and throw him out because he was a scientologist

GONDOLA WISH was a 1977 Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI) Systems Exploitation Detachment (SED) effort to evaluate potential adversary applications of remote viewing.

Building on GONDOLA WISH, an operational collection project was formalized under Army intelligence as GRILL FLAME in mid-1978. Located in buildings 2560 and 2561 at Fort Meade, MD, GRILL FLAME, (INSCOM “Detachment G”) consisted of soldiers and a few civilians who were believed to possess varying degrees of natural psychic ability. The SRI research program was integrated into GRILL FLAME in early 1979, and hundreds of remote viewing experiments were carried out at SRI through 1986.

In 1983 the program was re-designated the INSCOM CENTER LANE Project (ICLP). Ingo Swann and Harold Puthoff at SRI developed a set of instructions which theoretically allowed anyone to be trained to produce accurate, detailed target data. used this new collection methodology against a wide range of operational and training targets. The existence of this highly classified program was reported by columnist Jack Anderson in April 1984.

In 1984 the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council evaluated the remote viewing program for the Army Research Institute. The results were unfavorable.

When Army funding ended in late 1985, the unit was redesignated SUN STREAK and transferred to DIA’s Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate, with the office code DT-S.

Under the auspices of the DIA, the program transitioned to Science Applications International Corporation [SAIC] in 1991 and was renamed STAR GATE. The project, changed from a SAP (Special Access Program) to a LIMDIS (limited dissemination) program, continued with the participation of Edwin May, who presided over 70% of the total contractor budget and 85% of the program’s data collection.

Over a period of more than two decades some $20 million were spent on STAR GATE and related activities, with $11 million budgeted from the mid-1980’s to the early 1990s. Over forty personnel served in the program at various times, including about 23 remote viewers. At its peak during the mid-1980s the program included as many as seven full-time viewers and as many analytical and support personnel. Three psychics were reportedly worked at FT Meade for the CIA from 1990 through July 1995. The psychics were made available to other government agencies which requested their services.

Participants who apparently demonstrated psychic abilities used at least three different techniques various times:

Coordinate Remote Viewing (CRV) – the original SRI-developed technique in which viewers were asked what they “saw” at specified geographic coordinates

Extended Remote Viewing (ERV) – a hybrid relaxation/meditative-based method

Written Remote Viewing (WRV) – a hybrid of both channeling and automatic writing was introduced in 1988, though it proved controversial and was regarded by some as much less reliable.

By 1995 the program had conducted several hundred intelligence collection projects involving thousands of remote viewing sessions. Notable successes were said to be “eight martini” results, so-called because the remote viewing data were so mind-boggling that everyone has to go out and drink eight martinis to recover. It is now believed that they drank the martinis before the sessions.

Reported intelligence gathering failures include:

Joe McMoneagle, a retired Special Project Intelligence Officer for SSPD, SSD, and 902d MI Group, claims to have left Stargate in 1984 with a Legion of Merit Award for providing information on 150 targets that were unavailable from other sources. There is no support for the Legion of Merit story and less on the so-called ‘150 targets.’

One assignment included locating kidnapped BG James L. Dozier, who had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades in Italy in 1981. He was freed by Italian police after 42 days, without help from the psychics. [according to news reports, Italian police were assisted by “US State and Defense Department specialists” using electronic surveillance equipment, an apparent reference to the Special Collection Service]

Another assignment included trying to hunt down Gadhafi before the 1986 bombing of Libya, but Gadhafi was not injured in the bombing. One remote viewer said that the Libyan dictator was in Morocco but he was not. The “target” supplied by another government ‘remote viewer’ was a hospital.

In January 1989 DOD asked  the SAIC project about Libyan chemical weapons work. A remote viewer reported that ship named either Patua or Potua would sail from Tripoli to transport chemicals to an eastern Libyan port. Subsequent investigation by legitimate agencies disclosed that there was no such ship registered under any flag and that no chemicals has been transported to an eastern Libyan port.

During the Gulf War remote-viewers suggested the whereabouts of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, but their information was not accurate and, at best, “confused” and “an obvious attempt to please” the DoD officials.

The unit was tasked to find plutonium in North Korea in 1994, but the results were “totally incorrect” and “worthless.”

During the US attack on Belgrade, a remote viewer “positively identified” the Chinese Embassy as an ‘important Serbian military headquarters.’ The U.S.immediately attacked it with serious diplomatic repercussions.

Remote viewers also vainly attempted to find SCUD missiles and secret biological and chemical warfare projects, and tunnels and extensive underground facilities in Iraq as the justifying evidence for an invasion. None of this material “had the slightest worth” and was “completely delusional.”

The US ‘STARGATE” program was sustained through the support of Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., and Rep. Charles Rose, D-N.C., who were convinced of the program’s effectiveness. However, by the early 1990s the program was plagued by uneven and “often bizarre” management, poor unit morale, divisiveness within the organization, poor performance, and few, if any results that could be considered accurate.

The FY 1995 Defense Appropriations bill directed that the program be transferred to CIA, with CIA instructed to conduct a retrospective review of the program. In 1995 the American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted by CIA to evaluate the program. Their 29 September 1995 final report was released to the public 28 November 1995. It was highly negative in nature. The final recommendation by AIR was to terminate the STARGATE effort. CIA concluded that there was not a single  case in which ESP had provided data used to guide intelligence operations.

In June 2001 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) paid SAIC $122 million to create a Virtual Case File (VCF) software system to speed up the sharing of information among agents. But the FBI abandoned VCF when it failed to function adequately. Robert Mueller, FBI Director, testified to a congressional committee, “When SAIC delivered the first product in December 2003 we immediately identified a number of deficiencies – 17 at the outset. That soon cascaded to 50 or more and ultimately to 400 problems with that software … We were indeed disappointed.”

While Ingo Swnn is obviously neither normal nor rational,  the head of the Vancouver project, Raj Mohindir Srivastava..is a former Indian navy cryptographer with past connections to  SAIC Srivastava, whol lives in Coquitlan, British Columbia, is officially listed as working for a firm called FSS International operating in Vancouver, BC. This firm was founded by Srivastava himself and has no address or telephone number listed in that city. Technical papers authored by Srivastava listed as from his “Vancouver office.”

It should be obvious that this firm was a shell or front.

 

 

Politicians Use North Korea H-Bomb Fears to Pitch Wasteful Missile Defense Projects

January 6, 2016 

by Lee Fang

The Intercept

Republican politicians responded almost reflexively to the North Korean nuclear test on Tuesday by demanding more spending on missile defense programs that have historically proved ineffective at preventing an enemy strike — but are built by companies that have lavished policymakers with campaign cash and political support.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released a statement calling for the country to “reinvest in missile defense and our military presence in the Pacific.” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., called for Obama to “dramatically enhance trilateral missile defense” and declared that Obama should deploy a Lockheed Martin missile defense system in South Korea. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are among his top donors. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, issued a statement specifically calling for spending on that same program; Lockheed Martin is by far his biggest donor over the course of his congressional career.

Since the early 1990s, politicians of both parties have cited the threat of North Korea to demand funding for an array of missile defense programs that quickly became monumental examples of government waste. Meanwhile, the contractors involved in these projects, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, among others, have manipulated the politics around these programs by funding politicians, pundits, think tanks, and lobbyists behind the never-ending spiral of taxpayer spending.

More than $50 billion has been spent on ineffective missile defense programs so far — the result of efforts that often began by citing the threat of states such as North Korea. Consider:

The government has spent roughly $40 billion on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, managed by Raytheon and Boeing, a program designed to counter a missile from North Korea. An investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that when the program has been tested, even with carefully scripted conditions in which the system operators knew the exact location, trajectory, speed, and dimensions of test missiles, the GMD intercept systems failed consistently. The project won funding from politicians like Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who cited the “prospect of a long-range ballistic missile launch from North Korea.”

Another Los Angeles Times investigation found a series of failed missile defense systems, including a plan to use infrared chemical lasers mounted on planes to destroy enemy missiles. The lasers were deemed too weak at the distance required to operate them safely, killing the project, but not before Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin collected around $5.3 billion for the program.

The Kinetic Energy Interceptor, a project by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, is another failed missile interception system that was canceled after Navy officials found multiple problems, including its size and limited range. The program cost approximately $1.7 billion. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said funding for the KEI was necessary “particularly in light of the missile threats from North Korea.”

The Multi-Object Kill Vehicle program by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin cost $700 million to develop, but was canceled in 2009 after military officials found that the anti-missile program faced insurmountable technical challenges. Last year, however, the program was relaunched after congressional leaders inserted language into the 2016 Pentagon budget that called on military planners to redevelop the effort.

The Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a floating radar designed to detect enemy missile launches, failed after tests found that the radar has a limited field of vision and was highly vulnerable to corrosion at sea. The project, managed by Boeing Raytheon, cost $2.2 billion. The “huge golf-ball-like radar craft” sat idle for months in Pearl Harbor as military planners figured out what to do with the enormous flop. The late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was a major proponent of the radar, citing the threat of North Korea.

The Precision Tracking Space System, which called for a network of up to a dozen satellites used to track missile launches, was quietly killed after experts found that the system was fundamentally flawed. The government spent more than $230 million on the project, which went to contractors including Northrop Grumman.

And an 18-year, $2.7 billion Raytheon program called JLENS, or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System,” now appears doomed after one of two blimps intended to spot and shoot down cruise missiles broke free and made a destructive trip through Pennsylvania in October during testing.

The biggest boosters of these missile defense boondoggles are funded by the contractors that have profited from them. The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, two think tanks that routinely issue reports and dispatch their experts to television programs to call for such spending to counter the North Korean threat, are both funded by major defense contractors that have managed missile defense projects.

There are many ways contractors wield influence over the defense policy process. For instance, companies like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying, and often lure congressional staffers and officials at the Pentagon to work for them with extremely generous pay packages. To ensure loyal members of their team continually move in and out of the policymaking world, Northrop Grumman even has a special bonus for executives who leave the company to take high-level government jobs.

 

Not punishing the Bundys for the Nevada standoff led to the occupation in Oregon

If authorities let anti-government protesters get away with breaking the law, they’ll keep doing it.

January 7, 2016

by David Neiwert

Washington Post

It has become a familiar scene: a cluster of armed “patriots” gathered at a rural locale in the West, protesting federal land-use policies and disputing the legitimacy of the government back in Washington, while nearby, law enforcement officers act stunned into submissionn.

That all unfolded again this past week in Burns, Ore., as a group of activists with guns seized a federal building on a wildlife refuge and demanded freedom for a couple of ranchers convicted of arson and sentenced to mandatory minimum prison terms, in what they claim is another example of extreme federal overreach.

The local school district shut down, since it couldn’t guarantee the safety of children traveling to and from school. Burns residents expressed agitation and exasperation with the standoff, since most, if not all, of the participants appear to live outside Harney County. The sheriff requested that the two dozen or so men holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge pack up and leave town.

If the news from Oregon seemed like deja vu all over again, that’s because it was: At the head of the protest were Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Back in April 2014, Cliven grabbed headlines by holding Bureau of Land Management officials at bay in an armed standoff on his ranch in which bloodshed was, by all accounts, only narrowly averted.

So why do federal officials once again find themselves in this position — awkwardly wringing their hands in hopes that the radicals’ demands and willpower will erode with a little time and cold weather? And facing the same cast of characters who humiliated law enforcement officials less than two years ago?

The answer, to a large extent, lies in that Nevada canyon where Bundy’s compatriots aimed their weapons at the federal agents and police officers who were there to enforce a court order requiring the confiscation of the ranch’s cattle, after Bundy refused for years to pay federal grazing fees for using public lands. When those guns were brandished, multiple violations of federal and state law occurred: It is a felony to point a weapon at a law enforcement officer and a federal felony to take aim at a U.S. government agent.

And yet there were no arrests that day. Moreover, despite the FBI’s assumption shortly afterward of the investigation into weapons use at the Bundy ranch — along with vows to hold the people responsible for the standoff fully accountable — no meaningful action has yet been taken against anyone involved.

That includes, of course, Cliven Bundy himself (who still hasn’t paid the fees and fines he owes the government) and his sons — who have now turned up in Oregon, threatening again to take over public lands, in defiance of the local community and the wishes of the people on whose behalf they’re ostensibly protesting, all in pursuit of their campaign to destroy the federal government’s ability to administer land policies.

Bundy explained his rationale, such as it is, in a press release shortly before the occupation began: “The United States Justice Department has NO jurisdiction or authority within the State of Oregon, County of Harney over this type of ranch management. These lands are not under U.S. treaties or commerce, they are not article 4 territories, and Congress does not have unlimited power.”

The men leading the protest believe in an arcane interpretation of the Constitution that radically limits the reach and scope of the federal government — in their alternate universe, the county sheriff is the highest authority, while the feds are limited to regulating overseas trade and waging war. Derived from the racist swamplands of far-right extremism, their version of “constitutionalism” reflects a paranoid culture in which government officials are believed to be trading away Americans’ freedom on behalf of a nefarious New World Order that seeks to enslave all mankind.

 

If federal law enforcement authorities had taken their roles as stewards of the rule of law seriously, many of these players would be facing justice in federal courts right now, instead of opportunistically raising hell out in poverty-stricken rural areas. Certainly, there is no small irony in the fact that the tepid response from federal authorities demonstrates how little resemblance they have to the tyrannical thugs the Bundys say they are. But it also shows how just that accusation, when wielded by white conservatives, can cause federal law enforcement to back down.

Ever since their April 2014 standoff, Bundy and his associated “patriots” in such movements as the far-right Oath Keepers have been attempting to force further armed showdowns over Western land policies. Last spring, they tried to organize a confrontation with BLM officials in southwestern Oregon over mining rights, but that effort eventually fizzled out. Another attempted showdown in Montana with the U.S. Forest Service, also over mining rights, wound up being overshadowed by the massive forest fires that hit the state this summer.

None of that should have been possible: There should have been a number of arrests after the nonsense at the Bundy ranch. That there were none not only emboldened these right-wing radicals — and encouraged them to believe that their bizarre misinterpretation of the Constitution has some legitimacy — but, in the case of the Bundy brothers, directly empowered them to carry on as they did before.

We believe these armed extremists have been emboldened by what they saw as a clear victory at the Cliven Bundy ranch and the fact that no one was held accountable for taking up arms against agents of the federal government,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

The failure of federal law enforcement to adequately respond to this kind of threatening behavior has also become a source of low morale in agencies the Bundys and their ilk like to demonize, such as the BLM and the Forest Service. This is particularly the case among federal field employees, who, according to those I’ve spoken with, are encountering increasing incidents of radicalized (and armed) “patriots” claiming that the agencies have no jurisdiction on federal lands.

That’s not to suggest that federal law enforcement should respond immediately with tactical units and guns blazing. That approach was attempted in the 1990s at two armed standoffs with far-right extremists — at Ruby Ridge in northern Idaho and at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex. — to disastrous effect. Those incidents inspired a fresh wave of far-right radicalism (including the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995) and were seen by many on the right as omens of looming government oppression.

It’s understandable that federal law enforcement might be reluctant to act precipitously after those disasters. A failure to act in any way whatsoever, though, just invites more of the same and certain escalation, as the Oregon standoff demonstrates.

The brass back in Washington and agents in field offices throughout the West should look back to a different, less infamous siege from 20 years ago, one that offers a more helpful model for responding to these situations. In 1996, a group calling itself the Montana Freemen — which operated a number of money-making scams and made armed threats against county officials in Jordan, Mont. — similarly defied the federal government in an attempt to create its own homeland out on the prairie.

It took 81 days to wait them out, during the harsh Montana winter and into the muddy Montana spring, but rather than rush in, as in Waco and Ruby Ridge, FBI negotiators eventually persuaded all the people inside the Freemen compound to surrender peacefully. Several of the chief perpetrators wound up doing extensive federal prison time for a variety of bank, wire and mail fraud charges, as well as for making threats against county and federal officials.

There can be a middle ground between the bloodshed of Ruby Ridge and Waco and the tacit acceptance of what’s going on in Burns. We know from how the FBI handled the Freemen that federal authorities are perfectly capable of bringing extremists who brandish weapons and threaten government employees to justice without creating martyrs or worsening the situation. Somehow, in the intervening 20 years — and amid the changes in administrations along the way, not to mention personnel and law enforcement philosophies — that lesson got lost.

Federal authorities in the Justice Department and elsewhere have seemingly made a tactical decision to avoid confronting right-wing radicals, though their rationale has never been made clear. Maybe they fear backlash from a right-wing media pack that has made efforts to track and confront right-wing extremist terrorism difficult, if not impossible, for federal law enforcement agencies (thanks in no small part to the nonsensical uproar that arose in 2009 over a Department of Homeland Security bulletin regarding recruitment and terrorist violence among right-wing extremists). But no one from any federal agency has come forward to explain their inaction, and in the meantime, people like the Bundys are taking exactly the wrong lessons from it.

What’s become abundantly clear in Oregon is that federal agents made a horrific mistake in failing to enforce the law after the Bundy ranch showdown. They are paying the price for that failure now. Maybe it’s time they remembered that it’s possible to stand up for the rule of law without breaking it.

 

US stock market continues plunge as global investors reel over China woes

Dow falls nearly 400 points, capping a brutal four-day start to new year amid more signs that the Chinese economy is slowing

January 7, 2016

The Guardian

US stocks continued to fall on Thursday as fears of an economic slowdown in China spooked investors around the world.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 392.41 points, or 2.32%, capping its worst four-day start to a year in more than a century.

The S&P 500 posted its largest daily drop since September, losing 47.17 points, or 2.37%, to 1,943.09 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 146.34 points, 3%, to 4,689.43.

The falls followed another day of turmoil on the world’s stock markets amid more signs that the Chinese economy is slowing.

China moved early to try and head off more panic, scrapping a new mechanism that Beijing had initially hoped would prevent sharp selloffs.

Beijing suspended the use of “circuit breakers” introduced to halt trading after dramatic selloffs. The circuit breakers appear to have exacerbated the sells offs as would be sellers waited for the markets to open again in order to sell.

The decision came after the breaker was tripped for the second time in a week as the market fell 7% within half an hour of opening.

Signs of problems in the world’s second largest economy triggered selling in Europe. The German DAX was the worst performer, falling 2.29%, as manufacturing firms were hit by fears about China’s impact on the global economy.

In London the FTSE 100 staged a late rally but still ended the day down 119 points, or 1.96%, at 5954. That’s a three-week low, which wipes around £30bn ($43.86) off the index.

China’s decision to end its interference in the stock markets did cheer some analysts.

Whilst still pretty dire, the global indices appear to have been (briefly) calmed this afternoon by news that China will be suspending the stock market circuit breaker rule that has wreaked such havoc this week,” said Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell. “We’ll just have to see how it works in practice tomorrow morning.”

The US bureau of labor statistics posts its latest monthly jobs report on Friday morning. Economists are expecting the US to have added about 200,000 new jobs in December, anything lower could be another shock to investors.

 

Human impact has pushed Earth into the anthropocene, scientists say

New study provides one of the strongest cases yet that the planet has entered a new geological epoch

January 7, 2016

by Adam Vaughan

The Guardian

There is now compelling evidence to show that humanity’s impact on the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and wildlife has pushed the world into a new geological epoch, according to a group of scientists.

The question of whether humans’ combined environmental impact has tipped the planet into an “anthropocene” – ending the current holocene which began around 12,000 years ago – will be put to the geological body that formally approves such time divisions later this year.

The new study provides one of the strongest cases yet that from the amount of concrete mankind uses in building to the amount of plastic rubbish dumped in the oceans, Earth has entered a new geological epoch.

We could be looking here at a stepchange from one world to another that justifies being called an epoch,” said Dr Colin Waters, principal geologist at the British Geological Survey and an author on the study published in Science on Thursday.

What this paper does is to say the changes are as big as those that happened at the end of the last ice age . This is a big deal.”He said that the scale and rate of change on measures such as CO2 and methane concentrations in the atmosphere were much larger and faster than the changes that defined the start of the holocene.

Humans have introduced entirely novel changes, geologically speaking, such as the roughly 300m metric tonnes of plastic produced annually. Concrete has become so prevalent in construction that more than half of all the concrete ever used was produced in the past 20 years.

Wildlife, meanwhile, is being pushed into an ever smaller area of the Earth, with just 25% of ice-free land considered wild now compared to 50% three centuries ago. As a result, rates of extinction of species are far above long-term averages.

But the study says perhaps the clearest fingerprint humans have left, in geological terms, is the presence of isotopes from nuclear weapons testing that took place in the 1950s and 60s.

“Potentially the most widespread and globally synchronous anthropogenic signal is the fallout from nuclear weapons testing,” the paper says.

“It’s probably a good candidate [for a single line of evidence to justify a new epoch] … we can recognise it in glacial ice, so if an ice core was taken from Greenland, we could say that’s where it [the start of the anthropocene] was defined,” Waters said.

The study says that accelerating technological change, and a growth in population and consumption have driven the move into the anthropocene, which advocates of the concept suggest started around the middle of the 20th century.

 

“We are becoming a major geological force, and that’s something that really has happened since we had that technological advance after the second world war. Before that it was horse and cart transporting stuff around the planet, it was low key, nothing was happening particularly dramatically,” said Waters.

He added that the study should not be taken as “conclusive statement” that the anthropocene had arrived, but as “another level of information” for the debate on whether it should be formally declared an epoch by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).

Waters said that if the ICS was to formally vote in favour of making the anthropocene an official epoch, its significance to the wider world would be in conveying the scale of what humanity is doing to the Earth.

We [the public] are well aware of the climate discussions that are going on. That’s one aspect of the changes happening to the entire planet. What this paper does, and the anthropocene concept, is say that’s part of a whole set of changes to not just the atmosphere, but the oceans, the ice – the glaciers that we’re using for this project might not be here in 10,000 years.

People are environmentally aware these days but maybe the information is not available to them to show the scale of changes that are happening.”

The international team behind the paper includes several other members of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy’s anthropocene working group, which hopes to present a proposal to the ICS later this year. The upswing in usage of the anthropocene term is credited to Paul Crutzen, the Dutch Nobel prize-winning atmospheric chemist, after he wrote about it in 2000.

Prof Phil Gibbard, a geologist at the University of Cambridge who initially set up the working group examining formalising the anthropocene, said that while he respected the work of Waters and others on the subject, he questioned how useful it would be to declare a new epoch.

“It’s really rather too near the present day for us to be really getting our teeth into this one. That’s not to say I or any of my colleagues are climate change deniers or anything of that kind, we fully recognise the points: the data and science is there.

What we question is the philosophy, and usefulness. It’s like having a spanner but no use for it,” he said.

Gibbard suggested it might be better if the anthropocene was seen as a cultural term – such as as the neolithic era, the end of the stone age – rather than a geological one.

Evidence we’ve started an ‘anthropocene’

 

  • We’ve pushed extinction rates of flora and fauna far above the long-term average. The Earth is now on course for a sixth mass extinction which would see 75% of species extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue

 

  • Increased the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere by about 120 parts per million since the industrial revolution because of fossil fuel-burning, leaving concentrations today at around 400ppm and rising

 

  • Nuclear weapon tests in the 1950s and 60s left traces of an isotope common in nature, 14C, and a naturally rare isotope, 293Pu, through the Earth’s mid-latitudes

 

  • Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous, and plastics will likely leave identifiable fossil records for future generations to discover

 

  • Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with our fertiliser use. According to some research, we’ve had the largest impact on the nitrogen cycle in 2.5bn years

 

  • Left a permanent marker in sediment and glacial ice with airborne particulates such as black carbon from fossil fuel-burning

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