Tbr News July 26, 2016

Jul 26 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. July 26, 2016:” Here is a very blunt letter from a reader that sums up views we keep hearing from many other readers. The writer’s opinions are his own but if we did not agree with nearly all of them, we would not print it. Because the author is a government official, we are leaving his name off for obvious reasons:

‘It doesn’t matter who is right.

What does matter is who wins.

Empires die badly.

The US is the largest oil user in the world.

The US doesn’t produce enough oil to grease up a sheep.

Russia has direct, and oblique, control over huge amounts of oil.

Instead of dealing with Russia, the American oligarchs tried to steal their oil.

If Russia were a small country, the US would invade it, set up a vicious but cooperative dictator and steal the oil.

But this would be called “saving ———for democracy.”

And then the US Army would rape anything, male or female, under ten.

And then kill them and their weeping parents.

We see in the leftwing rags “Save Darfur!”


They don’t have any oil.

Let them eat each other and move on.

Hillary is a Jewish dyke.

Put her in the White House?

I don’t think so.

Putting her into a garbage can would be better.

Evil, vicious Zionist bitch.’”

Priest killed in French church, police shoot two attackers dead

July 26, 2016

by Noemie Olive


SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France-Two attackers killed a priest with a blade and seriously wounded another hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before being shot dead by French police.

The attack took place during morning mass at the Saint-Etienne parish church, south of Rouen in Normandy. Five people were initially taken hostage.

There were no immediate details on the identity or motives of the two assailants but the investigation was handed to the anti-terrorist unit of the Paris prosecutor’s office.

A police source said it appeared that the priest had had his throat slit.

The attack is the latest in a string of deadly assaults in Europe, including the mass killing in Nice on Bastille Day and four incidents in Germany. Many of the attacks have had links to Islamist militants.

The Archbishop of Rouen identified the slain priest as Father Jacques Hamel. The Vatican condemned what it said was a “barbarous killing”.

French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told France Info radio that the perpetrators have been killed by France’s BRI, its elite police anti-crime force, when they came out of the church.

He said that bomb squad officers aided by sniffer dogs had been scouring the church for any possible explosives.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls branded the attack “barbaric” and said it was a blow to all Catholics and the whole of France.

“We will stand together,” Valls said on Twitter.


The attack will heap yet more pressure on President Francois Hollande to regain control of national security, with France already under a state of emergency 10 months ahead of a presidential election.

The Normandy attack came 12 days after a 31-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plowed his heavy goods truck into a crowd of revelers in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people. Islamic State claimed that attack.

Horror. Everything is being done to trigger a war of religions,” tweeted Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former conservative prime minister who now heads the Senate’s foreign affairs committee.

Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrived at the scene of the attack where they met with members of the emergency services.

Cazeneuve has come under fire from Conservative politicians for not doing enough to prevent the Bastille Day Nice attack.

French lawmakers approved a six-month extension of emergency rule after the July 14 attack while the Socialist government also said it would step up strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

(Additional reporting by Chine Labbe, Marine Pennetier and Michel Rose in Paris; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Michel Rose/Jeremy Gaunt)

 Men who murdered priest in Normandy church were Isis followers, says Hollande

Two men shot dead after taking five hostages and killing priest in church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in France

July 26, 2016

by Kim Willsher in Paris and Julian Borger

The Guardian

The murder of a priest and the wounding of one of his parishioners in Normandy was an act of terrorism carried out by two followers of Islamic State, the French president, François Hollande, has said.

The men, armed with knives, entered the church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, at 9.43am local time, during morning prayers, and took five hostages: Father Jacques Hamel, 84, two nuns and two parishioners. Hamel had his throat slit, investigative sources said, while the other victim was described as being seriously injured and between “life and death”.

The two hostage-takers were shot dead by police as they came out of the church.

Hollande described the incident as “an ignoble terrorist attack” by two supporters of Isis. The group, which claimed responsibility for the attack via its affiliated Amaq news agency, “has declared war on us”, Hollande said, adding that it was a war France would have to fight by remaining united.

According to the French channel BFMTV, one the two killers, as yet unnamed, lived in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray and had tried to travel to fight in Syria in 2015 but had been sent back by Turkish border authorities and jailed in France. He was released in March this year despite the protests of prosecutors, had an electronic tag that allowed authorities to monitor his movements, and was only allowed out of his house between 8.30am and 12.30pm.

Pierre Henry Brandet, an interior ministry spokesman, said the church was surrounded by the BRI, France’s anti-gang brigade who shot the attackers as they came out. Hollande met members of the brigade, who wore black balaclavas to mask their identities, and praised them for the speed of their intervention, which he said “prevented a much higher toll and saved the lives of hostages”.

Hollande added: “I have met with the family of the priest and I have spoken to the people kept hostage who expressed their pain and sadness as well as a wish to comprehend what has happened.”

A witness whose home overlooks the church told BFMTV: “There were more and more police … then a crescendo of gunfire. Of course, given what is happening in the world, we thought of a [terrorist] attack. It was hard to believe what was happening.”

The prime minister, Manuel Valls, said the “barbaric” attack was a blow to the Catholic community and the whole of France.

The murdered priest had worked in the parish for 10 years. He should have retired at 75 but wanted to continue serving the church and community, local residents said.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombard said Pope Francis “shares the pain and horror of this absurd violence”, adding that the attack created “immense pain and worry”.

Francis issued “the most severe condemnation of all forms of hatred” and said he was appalled “because this horrific violence took place in a church, a sacred place” and involved the “barbaric” killing of a priest.

A woman who worshipped at the church described Hamel as “a man who did his job to the end. He was elderly but was always available for whoever. He was a good priest.”

She added: “He has been here for a long time and many parishioners knew him well. He lived in the rectory at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.”

Abbot Philippe Maheut, of the Rouen diocese, said everyone was horribly shocked that the priest had been killed while carrying out mass.

“We ask ourselves how we have arrived at this point,” he told BFMTV. “My message would be we have to continue to meet, to know each other, understand each other, support each other. Perhaps the death of this poor man will produce an electroshock, will be such a strong symbol that people will say we have to do something, but we have said that before.”

Hervé Morin, president of the region, said: “This man was a good man, he always had a kind word for everyone. He served at this church for 30 years. Everyone is shocked. This was not just the killing of a man, it was the cutting of the throat of a priest … an act sufficiently thought out to further destabilise French society … and that’s the risk. French society is in danger.”

France remains on high alert nearly two weeks after a man ploughed a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 people and injuring more than 300.

The Nice attack was the third major attack on France in 18 months and was claimed by Isis. Two attacks in Germany claimed by Isis since then have heightened the tension in Europe.

Hollande told reporters near the scene of Tuesday’s killings: “The people of France should know that they are under threat but they are not the only country, there is Germany and others, and that their strength lies in their solidarity.”

Analysts said that while the threat was everywhere, the attack marked a new stage in Isis action, demonstrating that even in a small town of 27,000 inhabitants, “even in church”, the French are not safe. “We are at war, and we are at war everywhere on French soil”, was the message, one terrorism expert told French television.

After the attack in Nice, France extended a state of emergency for another six months. The measure gives police extra powers to carry out searches and place people under house arrest. It was the fourth time the security measures have been extended since Isis followers staged a mass attack on Paris in November, killing 130 people in the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium, and city centre restaurants.

Gunman shoots doctor at Berlin hospital, anti-terrorist unit at scene

July 26, 2016


A doctor has been shot at a hospital in the German capital Berlin, according to police. The gunman later shot and killed himself.

The incident took place at a clinic at Charité University’s Benjamin Franklin campus, located in the Steglitz district, in the city’s southwest.

Berlin’s police department has released a statement saying the doctor is critically injured and currently being treated in an intensive care unit.

There are unconfirmed reports from Bild that the doctor is a senior dental surgeon.

The shooting took place at around 11:00 GMT. An anti-terrorist unit is at the scene, and the main building has been evacuated, according to the Bild newspaper.

The Benjamin Franklin Clinic is part of one of Europe’s largest hospitals. It was formed following the merger of the Freie Universitat Berlin and Humboldt Universitat and there are four locations around the city.

Robert Kagan and Other Neocons Are Backing Hillary Clinton

July 25, 2015

by Rania Khalek

The Intercept

As Hillary Clinton puts together what she hopes will be a winning coalition in November, many progressives remain wary — but she has the war-hawks firmly behind her.

“I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”

As the co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, Kagan played a leading role in pushing for America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, and insisted for years afterwards that it had turned out great.

Despite the catastrophic effects of that war, Kagan insisted at last week’s fundraiser that U.S. foreign policy over the last 25 years has been “an extraordinary success.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s know-nothing isolationism has led many neocons to flee the Republican ticket. And some, like Kagan, are actively helping Clinton, whose hawkishness in many ways resembles their own.

The event raised $25,000 for Clinton. Two rising stars in the Democratic foreign policy establishment, Amanda Sloat and Julianne Smith, also spoke.

The way they described Clinton’s foreign policy vision suggested that if elected president in November, she will escalate tensions with Russia, double down on military belligerence in the Middle East and generally ignore the American public’s growing hostility to intervention.

Sloat, the former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, boasted that Clinton will be “more interventionist and forward-leaning than Obama’s been” in Syria. She also applauded Clinton for doing intervention the right way, through coalitions instead of the unilateral aggression that defined the Bush years.

“Nothing that [Clinton] did was more clear than the NATO coalition that she built to defend civilians in Libya,” said Sloat, referencing the Obama administration’s overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. That policy, spearheaded by Clinton, has transformed a once stable state into a lawless haven for extremist groups from across the region, including ISIS.

Kagan has advocated for muscular American intervention in Syria; Clinton’s likely pick for Pentagon chief, Michelle Flournoy, has similarly agitated for redirecting U.S. airstrikes in Syria toward ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Smith told the audience that unlike Trump, Clinton “understands the importance of deterring Russian aggression,” which is why “I’ll sleep better with her in the chair.” She is a former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden.

Smith left the government to become senior vice president of Beacon Global Strategies, a high-powered bipartisan consulting group founded by former high-ranking national security officials.

When Robbie Martin, a filmmaker who recently produced a three-part documentary on the neoconservative movement, asked how Clinton plans to deal with Ukraine, Kagan responded enthusiastically.

“I know Hillary cares more about Ukraine than the current president does,” Kagan replied. “[Obama] said to me [that he wouldn’t arm Ukraine because] he doesn’t want a nuclear war with Russia,” he added, rolling his eyes dismissively. “I don’t think Obama cares about Putin anymore at all. I think he’s hopeless.”

Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, the Obama administration’s hardline assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland, who would likely serve in a senior position in a Clinton administration, supports shipping weapons to Ukraine despite major opposition from European countries and concerns about the neo-Nazi elements those weapons would empower.

Another thing neoconservatives and liberal hawks have in common is confidence that the foreign policy establishment is right, and the growing populist hostility to military intervention is naïve and uninformed.

Kagan complained that Americans are “so focused on the things that have gone wrong in recent years, they miss the sort of basic underlying, unusual quality of the international order that we’ve been living in.

“It’s not just Donald Trump,” Kagan said. “I think you can find in both parties a very strong sense that we don’t need to be out there anymore.”

“If, as I hope, Hillary Clinton is elected, she is going to immediately be confronting a country that is not where she is,” he said. “She is a believer in this world order. But a great section of the country is not and is going to require persuasion and education.”

Sloat agreed, arguing that “it’s dangerous” for people to draw anti-interventionist lessons from Libya and Iraq.

The Clinton-neocon partnership was solidified by Trump becoming the Republican nominee. But their affinity for each other has grown steadily over time.

The neoconservative Weekly Standard celebrated Clinton’s 2008 appointment as secretary of state as a victory for the right, hailing her transformation from “First Feminist” to “Warrior Queen, more Margaret Thatcher than Gloria Steinem.”

But the fundraiser was perhaps the most outward manifestation yet of the convergence between the Democratic foreign policy establishment and the neoconservative movement.

Hannah Morris of the liberal pro-Israel lobbying group J Street celebrated this bipartisanship as a “momentous occasion.”

“We could not be more proud to have [Kagan] here today,” she said.

BMJ study: US police hospitalized 54,000 people in 2012

More than 54,000 people were hospitalized after “legal” stops, searches and arrests by US police in 2012, according to new research published in Injury Prevention. The study found that more than 1,000 people were killed.

July 26, 2016


US police killed or injured 55,400 people during “legal” stops, searches and arrests in 2012, according to a study in Injury Prevention, one of Britain’s peer-reviewed BMJ medical journals. Researchers also found that police disproportionately targeted black people, Native Americans and Latinos for stops and arrests and, though the use of deadly or debilitating force did not vary by ethnicity, the increased contact with police created risks for members of those minorities.

“This is nowhere near a new problem or a new public health problem,” said Ted Miller, a scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland who conceived “Perils of Police Action: A Cautionary Tale From US Data Sets.” “Police use of excessive force without due process of law has been with us forever as a problem, and since the Civil War it’s been viewed particularly as a problem for the black community.”

Miller and US- and Australia-based colleagues examined data from medical and legal sources and tallies of police killings conducted by the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers. For the purposes of the study, “legal interventions” are defined as “arrests, stop-and-search incidents on the street and traffic stops involving a search.” One of the more challenging aspects of the research, Miller said, is how little official documentation of police violence can be found in law enforcement databases and how often police involvement in injuries is left out of medical records.

“The surprise that had dropped on all of us around the time of starting this was that the data sets that I’ve worked with since I came into the field of injury, from the vital statistics on the number of people killed in the United States and the intent of those deaths, that the coroners and medical examiners were failing to code police involvement in almost half of the police-involved deaths,” Miller said. “And there are two separate reporting systems that the police are supposed to report police-involved deaths to – and both of those had even worse underreporting.”

“When you correct those firearm accounts, what you find is that one in every 13 people who died because someone else fired a firearm the police pulled the trigger,” he added. “A police officer pulled the trigger. And that’s scary.”

he lack of consistent record-keeping, a lack of research of the type conducted by Miller and his team, and media coverage of attacks on police, such as two recent shootings in which a total of eight US police officers were killed, can lead to the impression that policing is more dangerous for officers than it is for the public. “The fact is, though, that police use force more often, at higher levels, and with more deadly results than they face it,” said Kristian Williams, the author of “Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America,” a comprehensive and critical history of US law and its enforcement. “You wouldn’t know from the TV news, and certainly not from the cop shows on later, that policing is less dangerous than driving a truck,” he added. “You also wouldn’t know, from those same sources, that the cops kill about three people a day. In fact, literally no one knew that until last year because, until The Guardian started a database, no one had bothered to count.”

By the numbers

“Perils of Police Action” estimates that in 2012 one in 291 stops or arrests led to an injury requiring hospitalization or at the extreme, death, but that the likelihood of life-threatening injuries as a result of police conduct was lower than that of other forms of assault. This led the researchers to determine that “police weren’t usually out of control when they physically confronted a suspect.” However, the research found that gunshot wounds were significantly more likely to prove fatal if they were inflicted by police – 40 percent to 26 percent.

Though the risk of injury was equally likely once police contact was initiated, the singling out of young black, Latino and Native American men for stops leaves those groups especially vulnerable to death or injury. Police stopped black people at a rate nearly three times that of whites (1,404 stops and arrests per 10,000 population versus 503 for whites), Native Americans were stopped or arrested at a rate of 1,141 per 10,000 population, and Hispanics 979. “Excess per capita death rates among blacks and youth at police hands are reflections of excess exposure,” the researchers concluded.

“There’s a real tendency to understand police brutality as a kind of mistake, as an imperfection rather than as a feature of the institution,” said Williams, who was not involved in the study. “The assumption is that the police are behaving in some way contrary to their purpose. I think it makes more sense to start with the behavior of the institution and – seeing that across the country and throughout its history it has reliably produced violence and disproportionately targeted people of color – conclude that that is the real purpose.”

The study didn’t examine the reasons behind the stops and arrests, for example whether police might be consciously or unconsciously profiling by skin color. However, it did conclude that “given a national history of racism, the excess per capita death rate of blacks from US police action rightly concerns policy analysts, advocates and the press.” The authors add that “it would seem prudent to train at-risk groups about appropriate behavior during police stops.” A longer-term fix, however, would be to implement accountability measures and address the violence at the institutional level.

Turkey in no position to become EU member any time soon: Juncker

July 25, 2016

by Geert De Clercq


Turkey is in no position to become a European Union member any time soon and all negotiations for it to join will stop immediately if it reintroduces the death penalty, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday.

Turkish authorities have suspended, detained or placed under investigation more than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, teachers, civil servants and others since a failed military coup.

“I believe that Turkey, in its current state, is not in a position to become a member any time soon and not even over a longer period,” Juncker said on French television France 2.

He said that a country that included the death penalty in its legislative arsenal had no place in the European Union.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Social Media: a hunting ground for cybercriminals

July 26, 2016

by Andreas Illmer

BBC News

Do you ever hesitate to click on a post shared by a friend on Facebook? Not because it’s a boring picture of their dinner, but because you’re suspicious it might not actually have been posted by them?

The interconnectivity of social media means it is a perfect hunting ground for illegal activity, and increasingly people are realising that their “friend” many not actually be their friend.

Cybercrime on social networks can be broken down into three categories:

◾the traditional broad-sweep scams, trying to lure you to click on something or visit pages that will push malware on to your computer

◾searching for careless public exposure of personal data

◾using social media as a platform to connect, exchange ideas and trade stolen information

Malware, scams and ransomware

The first category is the most widespread.

“The problem with social media is that people have an inherent trust,” explains Mark James, security specialist with IT security firm ESET. “And that is what is being tapped into by those cybercriminals.”

“People still believe that you have to click on something and download a file to be infected,” he says.

“This really isn’t the case anymore. There are things like drive-by-downloads, infected adverts and things like that. It’s very easy to be compromised on your machines.”

In many cases the initial malware is just a gateway into the system. It doesn’t do any real harm, yet. But once a back door is established to the infected computer, that access may then be put up for sale.

A package of data offering, of access to thousands of infected computers, will be snapped up by another criminal for use in a variety of ways.

With access to the computers received, criminals may then install software which, say, hijacks the victim’s online banking, or reads usernames and passwords.

One of the most profitable scams is installing ransomware, malicious software that encrypts the data on a victim’s computer and then asks for payment before restoring the system to its original state.


Social media is also an ideal hunting ground for anyone who has a clear target to attack, be it an individual or a company.

If you want to see who works in which company and in which position, or who they are friends with professionally and privately, this information can often be easily picked up on social media.

Any attack on a specific individual will be much easier if the target has made a lot of private information publicly available on their profiles.

If the target is a corporation, it is easy to single out an individual or a group of employees, and then target their machines in a focused attack. And once one machine in a network is affected, getting access to the entire structure is not difficult.

“There’s such a big crossover between your personal social media accounts and the impact you can cause within a corporate environment,” warns Michael Sentonas, vice president of technology strategy at cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike.

“Most organisations allow their users to connect to Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter and other platforms and that’s where an attack – even if it was targeted at a home user – can have a significant impact on the workplace.”

Putting up defences

“Our only effective protection is a multilayered approach,” Mr James of ESET explains. “There’s no single protection anymore, there’s no magic bullet or single piece of software that’s going to protect us.”

While security software is important, it’s only a first step. It is a cat and mouse game where the bad guys produce the malware and the good guys try to produce the means to stop it.

Traditional anti-virus software is “signature-based”, comparing whatever it encounters to a database of signatures. If it’s a match, it’s a virus. But that means the “good guys” are always one step behind the attackers.

“From a business perspective, my advice is to challenge that normal thinking and look for technologies that rely less on signatures but rather on technologies like machine learning, that look for patterns of behaviour in order to detect an attack,” advises Mr Sentonas.

Such software looks for suspect behaviour. Any suspicious event will be treated as potential threat, even if there’s no matching signature.

It’s an approach that security experts hope will put them one step ahead of the attackers.

Mr James says: “In a corporate structure, it’s important to make people understand that they themselves are an important part of the security structure.

“We are not going to stop the end user from clicking on a video or following a particular link. But if we can protect them for 80-90% of what they do, then hopefully with their education and common sense, we’ll get that to a 98-99% success rate,” he says.

Trading the booty

Social media, though, is not just an arena where criminals can steal information. It is also used for trading compromised data.

“Anybody is just two clicks away from finding compromised financial data in social media,” says Gabriel Guzman, head of cyber intelligence at RSA, the security division of tech firm EMC.

“Information is easily accessible – and a massive amount of criminals are in fact doing this out of their own real profiles.”

On Facebook, for example, a quick search for certain credit card details will within minutes take you to people offering stolen information.

Social networks provide the perfect infrastructure to contact like-minded individuals, say experts. “Most social networks have no identity verification process and policing them is very hard,” explains Bryce Boland, chief technology officer for Asia Pacific of FireEye.

Setting up a fake profile to avoid detection takes a matter of minutes, and social media sites have the inherent interest in keeping access simple. After all, they want to attract as many users as possible.

Most social networks try to be rigorously vigilant against such activity.

But the inherently open nature of these sites means that the battle between disclosure and security may be only just beginning.

Kill All the Terrorists?

The violence we employ to defend civilization feeds the very forces that imperil it.

July 25, 2016

by Andrew J. Bacevich

The American Conservative

The murderous attack earlier this month in Nice, France, prompted Jay Nordlinger, senior editor at the ostensibly conservative National Review, to propose a new approach to dealing with terrorism. His strategy is simplicity itself: “you have to kill these jihadists, and kill them, and kill them, until they simply tire of being killed and leave civilization alone.”

If by “civilization” Nordlinger is referring to Europe and the United States, then his proposal comes a couple of centuries too late. In their relations with the non-West—the peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—Western powers have rarely demonstrated a desire to be left alone. They have instead sought to subjugate and exploit populations classified as inferior. In pursuit of their objectives, they have relied not on suasion but on violence and intimidation.

To be sure, present-day Europeans and Americans bear no responsibility for the sins that their forbears committed in civilization’s name. Neither, however, should they indulge in the pretense that hostility toward the West today springs out of nowhere. History resists whitewashing. Although the tide of Western imperialism may have receded, it left behind a stain that time has yet to eradicate.

This describes the essence of the strategic dilemma that Europeans and Americans confront today. Having belatedly discovered the virtues of peaceful coexistence, Western nations confront adversaries who have long memories and a hunger for payback. Yesterday’s instigators have become today’s targets and cry foul. Now that we have all that we want, they say, please go away.

Yet as attacks inflicted upon the West pile up—Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino—it becomes apparent that violent jihadists won’t be going away anytime soon. As a consequence, support for a keep-killing-until-they-quit approach is gaining momentum. Nordlinger is not alone in calling for escalation. Donald Trump has demanded a declaration of war against ISIS. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, proposes to “defeat this enemy of civilization at its source.” Bloodlust is on the rise.

Such sentiments feed off the populist mood increasingly evident not only in Europe but also in the United States. An abiding characteristic of populism is a belief in simple solutions to complex problems. To purify the temple, throw out the moneylenders. To restore social harmony, expel all those who are different. To ensure peace, eliminate with prejudice all those suspected of posing a threat.

The problems with this line of thought are legion. For starters, it assumes an ability to distinguish between guilty and innocent—between violent jihadists at home and abroad and the rest of the planet’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

Implicit in Nordlinger’s formulation is the suggestion that present circumstances may have rendered such distinctions unnecessary, with anyone deemed at odds with “civilization” eligible for extermination. Note that in the case of Nice, few Western observers waited for investigators to identify the motive behind the attack, the perpetrator’s Tunisian origins’ being sufficient to incorporate the incident into the narrative of radical-Islamist violence directed against the West as a whole. It’s the equivalent of assuming that any shooting of a black male by any police officer is necessarily the direct result of racism.

Even more fundamentally, Nordlinger’s proposal collides with this further problem: Why hasn’t the Western killing perpetrated thus far yielded signs of progress? Although the fact garners only passing attention among Europeans and Americans, the number of Westerners killed by terrorists pales in comparison to the body count racked up in recent years by the United States and its allies in the Islamic world. While estimates of the overall death toll range widely, one reputable 2015 study calculated that a staggering 1.3 million Muslims have died due to violence since 9/11—jihadists and suspected jihadists along with mere bystanders categorized as collateral casualties. Yet no evidence exists to show that this vast bloodletting has diminished the threat.

By implication, our work has just begun, with the counter-jihad now underway destined to last for years, if not decades. In the meantime, the agents of Western civilization, armed to the teeth with high-tech weaponry and justified by self-serving arguments, will presumably have to kill millions more.

When the day of victory finally arrives, we may wonder what will then remain of the values we are ostensibly defending.

The West today finds itself caught in a paradox of its own making: Violence employed by prior generations claiming to represent civilization has elicited a violent response; the violence we employ today to defend that civilization actually feeds the very forces that imperil it.

Hillary Clinton’s Dangerously Coherent Foreign Policy

Unlike Donald Trump, the Democratic nominee’s ideas are frighteningly clear

July 25, 2016

by Thaddeus Russell


He had been called a racist, a bigot, and even a fascist, but it is likely that for the Washington elite no epithet attached to Donald Trump was more meaningful than Hillary Clinton calling him incoherent.

“Americans aren’t just electing a President in November,” Clinton told a crowd of supporters and military personnel in San Diego in early June. “We’re choosing our next commander-in-chief—the person we count on to decide questions of war and peace, life and death.”

This was Clinton’s first direct and sustained attack on Trump, and though Democrats had been preoccupied with the unsavory identity politics of the presumptive Republican nominee, Clinton devoted only a few lines to calling out Trump’s habits of “demonizing Muslims” and insulting women, Mexicans, and the disabled. Most of her speech went after Trump’s utterances on foreign policy. “Like many across our country and around the world, I believe the person the Republicans have nominated for President cannot do the job,” she said. “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different—they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas—just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.”

Pundits across the Beltway’s ideological spectrum cheered. Conservatives at the National Review and Fox News agreed with liberals at Huffington Post and Vox that this was Clinton’s “best speech yet” and “her best case against Donald Trump.” In recent days she has built the theme of Trump’s “dangerous, incoherent” ideas into her stump speech.

What Clinton and her bi-partisan allies find most objectionable in Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements is not so much their lack of coherence but their discordance with the idea that America should be the leader of the world. “It’s a choice between a fearful America that’s less secure and less engaged with the world,” Clinton declared, “and a strong, confident America that leads to keep our country safe and our economy growing.”

Trump has certainly had his inconsistencies, but “Make America Great Again” has never meant “Make America Lead Again.” Clinton singled out for opprobrium the proposals made by Trump that would dismantle a century-long project initiated by progressives to remake other countries in the image of the United States. That project, which historians of U.S. foreign relations typically refer to as Wilsonianism, after the first president to give it intellectual shape, has been carried out with varying degrees of militancy but always embraced uncritically by both Democratic and Republican presidents since Wilson declared the United States to be “the savior of the world.”

To Clinton and other inheritors of Wilson’s calling, Trump’s specific sins are what some have crudely called isolationism. Rather than seek U.S. military dominance as a means to extend American influence, Trump has insisted that other nations bolster their militaries and defend themselves, which Clinton dismissively reduced to a demand to “let more countries have nuclear weapons.”Trump undoubtedly set fire to the hair of every Wilsonian when he called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “obsolete” and a financial burden for the United States and said he would “certainly look at” getting rid of it. As a multilateral but American-led force that has protected U.S.-approved governments in Europe, NATO is quintessentially Wilsonian and near and dear to Clinton, who first championed it when she was First Lady. She was the most enthusiastic advocate among her husband’s advisors for a bombing campaign against Serbian forces in the former Yugoslavia, and famously asked, “What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?” Now, she sees a man who “would abandon our allies in NATO,” which she considers to be “one of the best investments America has ever made.”

What Clinton offers instead of Trump’s “truly dangerous path” is a foreign policy built upon the classically Wilsonian idea that America “is an exceptional country” that is the “last, best hope on earth.” She promises to “secure American leadership” and to prove, through diplomacy and military action, that “our country represents something special, not just to us, [but] to the world.”

Unfortunately, presidents with these coherent ideas have been the most dangerous of all.

Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush—the presidents most driven to make the world democratic, capitalist, and amenable to American interests—promoted and oversaw U.S. involvement in wars that killed, by great magnitudes, more Americans and foreign civilians than all the other presidents combined, and whose benefits for ordinary Americans, if any, are still far from clear.

Clinton herself has never seen an opportunity for American military intervention she didn’t like. As Secretary of State she was the most enthusiastic of all of Obama’s senior civilian advisors about the plan for a surge of troops into Afghanistan in 2009, and in 2011 she led the “humanitarian interventionists” in the administration who persuaded Obama to bomb Libya. In his comprehensive review of her work in the Obama administration, James Traub of Foreign Policy concludes that “at bottom, Clinton was a reflexive advocate of the military.”

During her tenure at State, Clinton delivered a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations that was noted by many observers for its frank and unreconstructed Wilsonianism. In it, she declared that American leadership was needed more than ever. “When old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, people turn to us,” she said. “When the earth shakes or rivers overflow their banks, when pandemics rage or simmering tensions burst into violence, the world looks to us.” She claimed that she saw “on the faces of the people I meet as I travel” a desire for America “not just to engage, but to lead.” The whole world, she said, “looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale, in defense of our own interests but also as a force for progress.” For the United States, “global leadership is both a responsibility and an unparalleled opportunity.”

But as we are likely to find out under President Clinton, global leadership can also get a lot of people killed.

Kremlin says idea it hacked Democratic Party emails absurd

July 26, 2016

by Andrew Osborn and Dmitry Solovyov


MOSCOW-The Kremlin dismissed as absurd on Tuesday allegations it was behind the hacking of U.S. Democratic Party emails, saying unidentified individuals were trying to cynically exploit fear of Russia for electoral purposes.

It responded after cyber security experts and U.S. officials said there was evidence Russia had engineered the release of sensitive Democratic Party emails in order to influence the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

The emails, released by activist group WikiLeaks at the weekend, appeared to show favoritism within the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for Hillary Clinton and prompted the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

President Vladimir Putin has tried to avoid giving the impression he favors any U.S. candidate, but has hailed Republican Party nominee Donald Trump as being “very talented”.

Russian state TV, which hews closely to the Kremlin’s world view, has left little doubt however that Moscow would prefer Trump. It casts Clinton, whom Putin accused of stirring up protests against him in her role as U.S. Secretary of State in 2011, as a warmonger.

“We are again seeing these maniacal attempts to exploit the Russian theme in the U.S. election campaign,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the leaked emails.

“This is not breaking new ground, this is an old trick which is being played again. This is not good for our bilateral relations, but we understand that we simply have to get through this unpleasant period.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier on Tuesday he had raised the hacking issue at a meeting in Laos with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“I don’t want to use four-letter words,” was Lavrov’s only response to reporters when asked whether Russia was responsible for the email hack.

Earlier this month, Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Trump, visited Moscow, where he gave a lecture complaining that Western governments had often had a hypocritical focus on democratization in the post-Soviet world.

Analysts say the Kremlin would welcome a Trump win because the billionaire U.S. businessman has repeatedly praised Putin, spoken of wanting to get along with Russia, and has said he would consider an alliance with Moscow against Islamic State.

Trump’s suggestion he might abandon NATO’s pledge to automatically defend all alliance members is also likely to have gone down well in Moscow, where the military alliance is cast as an outdated Cold War relic.

(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Lesley Wroughton, Simon Webb; Editing by Catherine Evans)

 Exclusive: Hillary Clinton exchanged top secret emails on her private server with three aides

July 22, 2016

by Jason Leopold


Hillary Clinton exchanged nearly two-dozen top secret emails from her unsecured, private server with three senior aides, the US State Department revealed in documents released to VICE News late Friday.

In the 22 emails, which were sent and received by Clinton in 2011 and 2012 while she was secretary of state, she discussed classified information with her deputy chief of staff, Jacob Sullivan, her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. A majority of the top secret emails are email chains between Sullivan and Clinton.

This is the first time the State Department has revealed the identities of the officials who exchanged classified information with Clinton through her private email server.

One of the top secret emails from 2012 was described by the State Department as an “email chain originating with email from a State Department official to multiple State Department officials, concluding with message to Jacob Sullivan from Secretary Clinton.” Another from the same year was an “email from a State Department official to multiple State Department officials, forwarded by Jacob Sullivan to Secretary Clinton and Cheryl Mills.” Only one classified email was exchanged with Burns. State described that one as an “email from a State Department official to multiple State Department officials, forwarded by Jacob Sullivan to Secretary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and William Bums.”

The new disclosure by the State Department came three days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia, where Clinton will formally accept her party’s nomination for president, and minutes before Clinton announced her vice presidential pick, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

In January 2015, VICE News filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding that the State Department release all of the emails Hillary Clinton sent and received during her tenure as secretary of state. As a result, the government released 30,000 emails — but it also withheld 22 because they contained top secret information.

The seven email chains, the State Department said, would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if publicly released. The new details released on Friday about the top secret emails was made in a so-called Vaughn Index, a document prepared in FOIA lawsuits in which government agencies justify the withholding of information under a FOIA exemption.

But unlike Vaughn Indexes that other government agencies produce in FOIA cases, which often contain detailed information about the subject matter of the withheld material, such as weapons programs or troop movements, the State Department did not provide detailed information in the index it turned over to VICE News because it considers the topics discussed to be top secret as well. State wouldn’t even say what month the top secret emails were sent and received because that too is top secret. Instead, the State Department’s Vaughn Index states reveals only who the authors and recipients of the communications were: Clinton, Sullivan, Mills, and Burns.

The index was promptly criticized as being insufficient by Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

“State’s document does not fulfill the requirements for a Vaughn Index,” Aftergood said, citing government rules that say the indexes must provide ample justification on the withheld materials. “State did not ‘identify each document’ in such a way as to clearly distinguish among the various documents, and it certainly did not explain the damage that would result from disclosure of any or all of the documents. So it doesn’t seem to meet the legal standard for a Vaughn index.”

News reports published over the past six months, citing anonymous government officials, suggested the top secret emails referred to covert CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. Other reports said the emails may have identified CIA operatives who were working undercover.

In a letter sent to the heads of congressional oversight committees on January 14, Charles McCullough, the intelligence community’s inspector general, said he received two sworn declarations from Intelligence Community members who determined that Clinton’s communications contained information deemed to be “CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET/SAP.”

Top Secret/SAP, or special access program, is a classified designation “deemed so sensitive that it requires more rigorous protection than other classified information. Such protection may include heightened ‘need to know’ requirements, cover measures, and other steps,” Aftergood added.

At the time of the disclosure, Brian Fallon, the press secretary for Clinton’s presidential campaign, excoriated the finding.

“We firmly oppose the complete blocking of the release of these emails,” Fallon said in a lengthy statement last January. “In at least one case, the emails appear to involve information from a published news article. This appears to be over-classification run amok. We will pursue all appropriate avenues to see that her emails are released in a manner consistent with her call last year.”

Fallon did not respond to a request for comment about the new information in the Vaughn index on the top secret emails.

Clinton’s email practices have taken a notable toll on her campaign and her trustworthiness in the eyes of voters. According to a recent poll, more than half of Americans think she broke the law by exclusively using private email and a private server to conduct official business during her tenure as secretary of state.

For more than a year, Clinton has insisted she never sent or received any emails from her private server that contained classified information. But earlier this month, FBI Director James Comey announced during a news conference that Clinton did send and receive classified information and — given her position as the nation’s top diplomat — she should have known better.

“Seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received,” Comey said. “These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

The FBI spent a year probing Clinton’s use of a private email server and recommended to the Department of Justice that neither Clinton nor any of her aides should face charges for disseminating classified information over her private email server.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said.

Two days after Comey’s press conference, the State Department said it would reopen an internal review into any mishandling of classified information in emails by Clinton and her top aides. Even though Clinton and her aides no longer work at the State Department, they could still be subject to a number of penalties, such as losing their security clearances.

Separately, in court documents submitted Friday in a separate FOIA lawsuit VICE News filed against the FBI seeking the contents of Clinton’s email server, the FBI said it had started the process of turning over “thousands of documents” FBI agents retrieved from Clinton’s private server that her aides had failed to turn over to the State Department. The FBI said it will continue to “transfer the retrieved materials to the State Department on a rolling basis… for review and determination as to whether they constitute agency records of the State Department under the Federal Records Act” and are subject to the FOIA.

“At this time, [the FBI] is unable to provide the Court with a date by which the FBI will transfer all of the retrieved materials to the State Department, or information regarding the precise volume of retrieved materials that will be transferred,” government attorneys said in a status report filed in US District Court in Washington, DC. The FBI “expects to be able to provide the Court with more information regarding the time line for the completion of the transfer of the retrieved materials, and the approximate volume of materials, in the coming weeks.”

Additionally, the FBI said it intends to release to VICE News on August 5 two letters the FBI sent to the State Department about its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and is “evaluating” whether it can also release secret declarations the bureau’s FOIA chief filed earlier this year with the federal judge presiding over our case describing how the public release of any documents would have harmed the FBI’s investigation while it was still ongoing.

Apocalypse Now: A Year of Crises, Shocks and Fears of Terror

Ansbach, Munich, Würzburg, Nice, Brussels — in light of the many horrific news stories, many are asking: What’s the matter with 2016?

July 25, 2016

by Mathieu von Rohr


Has the world gone mad? This question is occupying the minds of many people these days. It feels like the world is out of step, that multiple crises are encroaching upon us and that the distant world of international politics is about to get dangerously personal. How are we supposed to deal with the feeling of living in an era that we no longer seem to understand?

“I’m tired of living in interesting times,” a Twitter user wrote several days ago. His words were retweeted more than 1,000 times. Everyday, people on social media ask: What is wrong with 2016? When will it be over? What more does it have in store for us?

This year, international political events have overlapped in an unsettling way. Something seems to be coalescing and brewing, though it’s not yet clear what. Each new development seems to come a bit faster than the last. It may have begun with the Arab Spring in 2011, but it also continued with the wars in Libya and Syria and was further exacerbated by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the latest terrorist attacks. We are witnessing the destabilization of the world as we’ve known it since 1989.

When our phones began vibrating a week ago Friday with breaking news alerts about the military coup in Turkey, we were still processing our shock over the terrorist attack in Nice, France. Each shock fades quickly in light of the next one. On Sunday, a Syrian refugee detonated a bomb outside an outdoor concert in Ansbach, Germany. Last Friday, an 18-year-old student shot and killed nine people in Munich, most of them teenagers. And only days before that, a 17-year-old asylum-seeker in Würzburg attacked a group of Chinese tourists with an ax.

It was only a month ago that a majority of British voters decided to leave the European Union. The United States is shaken by racial unrest, the massacre in Orlando — and the rise of the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

With that, 2016 was really only the worst year since 2015, the year of the great refugee crisis. And 2015 was only the worst year since 2014, the year of the war in Ukraine.

We are living in an age of shocks and crises that could well be traumatizing in their rapid succession and concentration, since it’s not yet clear whether they’re only a temporary jolt or the beginning of a trend with no end in sight. Of course, the sheer number of conflicts has remained constant in recent years. But there is much indication that we find ourselves in a new era of global instability. The biggest geopolitical stories of our time are the destabilization in the Middle East, the European security order and the European Union. In addition, there has been a societal shift in many Western countries: Many citizens are angry at the elites, because they see themselves as victims of globalization, free trade and migration. This anger has enabled the rise of political movements from the fringe to the mainstream in only a few years: Donald Trump, the Brexit movement, Front National and the Alternative for Germany, or AfD. The classic political camps are dissolving as the battle between the political left and the right is replaced by one between Isolationists and Internationalists.

Every now and then, there are phases in international politics during which more happens in the span of a few weeks than would otherwise happen in decades. Do 2014 and 2016 fall into that category? They’re not comparable to the most dramatic phases of the past century, when both World Wars broke out; nor are they anything like 1989, when the Cold War ended and the world order was rearranged. It’s also unclear whether this year will end with the same chaotic violence it started with.

But it is rather likely that global insecurity will become the new status quo. The old, more stable world of the 1990s is not coming back. We have to accept the fact that we live in trying times. Many things are being thrown off-kilter: the balance of power between the United States and China, the future of the EU, NATO’s eastern flank, the global economic order, the relationship between modernity and political Islam, not to mention democracy and human rights in the West.

Finding the thread that ties all this together is tough. There are causal and random effects, clear connections and we’re often dependent on speculation. Does the ease with which attackers commit murder in the West have anything to do with the horrific images of Syria that we’re seeing? Do military officials like those in Turkey find it easier to encourage a coup if they find themselves surrounded by violent conflicts and the region is gripped by chaos? And is Erdogan taking a page out of Putin’s book when he suspends the European Human Rights Convention? Instability begets instability — that’s something we are now seeing on a daily basis.

It’s hard to say when the world began to grow more instable. It’s a truism to say 1989 didn’t usher in the end of history, as the political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted at the time. The end of the Cold War also meant the disappearance of the rivalry between two superpowers that kept the rest of the world in icy suspense. After a short phase of sole American dominance and the relative calm of the 1990s, history once again reared its head with the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War, which bears responsibility for much of what is

The Iraq War had two consequences. It ushered in the collapse of the Iraqi state and the rise of terrorism in the region, as the self-styled Islamic State was born out of the rubble of Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule. George W. Bush’s war marked the overextension of American military might and the beginning of a new isolationism in US foreign policy.

Barack Obama began the withdrawal of US forces from the Middle East and Europe. He wanted to concentrate more heavily on the Pacific region, where China was reclaiming its historical sphere of influence. He wanted to leave interventionism behind him, opting not to invade Syria even though he admitted the situation in the region had spiralled out of control.

If neither the US nor the Europeans or some other major power wants to maintain order, a geopolitical vacuum forms — and that’s what we’re dealing with now. So far China hasn’t been interested in taking on a global role militarily either. If Donald Trump becomes president, America would withdraw from the world even further. It would be the end of NATO as we know it. The Europeans filling the gap left behind by the US is rather unlikely in light of their own weaknesses. Western foreign policy now seems impotent.

The second cause of the geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East is the Arab Spring. It arose from a dissatisfaction with the economic conditions in Arab countries and it has only been exacerbated by rapid population growth. Enraged young people overthrew their post-colonial rulers, whose power had become brittle. But rather than democracy and prosperity, what followed in many cities was chaos, sectarian clashes and destabilization in the entire region.

Old state structures in Syria, Libya and Iraq have collapsed. Borders once imposed by colonial rulers have disintegrated. Some political scientists feel reminded of the Thirty Years War given the unrest throughout the region. By now, the destabilization of the Middle East has also enveloped Turkey, where old state structures are being called into question. The country is on the brink of civil war as political Islam faces off with secular tradition, tearing the country apart. The further Turkey distances itself from Europe, the more the unrest in the region will have an impact on Europe, for the Continent will have lost an important buffer between East and West.

The geopolitical turmoil wouldn’t have the same effect on us if the West wasn’t already feeling insecure. The shock hits us so hard because we are no longer sure of ourselves. External instability reinforces internal instability.

Terrorism threatens our daily lives, while nationalist populism threatens the political culture. Since the financial crisis of 2007, there has been uncertainty about whether capitalism is still working. Many European countries are languishing amid low growth, high unemployment and growing inequality. A new class of angry citizens has emerged, one in which voters feel left behind, threatened and unrepresented. The beneficiaries of the crisis are the nationalist populists. They sympathize with the authoritarianism of Putin, fan the flames of anti-Muslim rhetoric and dream of bringing an end to the EU. They are fighting the West from within.

Another worrisome tendency in the West is the tendency to believe the kinds of conspiracy theories that circulated on Facebook and Twitter in some countries after the Arab Spring and poisoned the atmosphere there. Even in Europe, some citizens have completely lost their certainty that a reality based in proven facts even exists. The credibility of classic media and politicians is called into doubt — instead, lies and rumors are preferred.

At the beginning of the Arab Spring, there was a debate about whether the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt or Syria would have happened had it not been for Facebook and Twitter. They probably would have still happened, but the protesters wouldn’t have been able to mobilize as quickly as they did online.

The same holds true today. Social media platforms bring the world closer to us than ever before and help us understand it. But they at the same time intensify and spread a new permanent sense of insecurity. They disseminate word of every single shock, attack and cruelty across the globe, and they give everyone a forum where they can further incense themselves. Furthermore, they make it more difficult to maintain perspective in this chaotic world.

Many of us simply don’t understand the world anymore. It will probably be up to the historians of future generations to accurately categorize what exactly it is that we’re experiencing in these times of transition. This is, however, not the time to give in to panic — it is time to have confidence in one’s own values and keep fighting for the society one believes in. Geopolitical turmoil is best overcome when one is grounded in clear convictions, which holds true for both citizens and countries as a whole. First of all, a clear compass is needed in order to take responsibility for foreign policy, confront dictators and manage the crises that we’re witnessing.


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