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TBR News July 26, 2018

Jul 26 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8

Washington, D.C. July 26, 2018:”What is the so-called Deep State? Groups of people, and businesses that collectively demand obedience from the elected leaders. This list is taken directly from a very private document on the subject prepared for a domestic intelligence agency:

Business and professional groups

Airlines

American Bankers Association

American Council of Life Insurance

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Hospital Association

American Medical Association

Association of Trial Lawyers

Automobile companies

Chamber of Commerce

Computer software and hardware

Credit Union National Association

Defense contractors

Electric companies

Health Insurance Association

Independent Insurance Agents of America

Motion Picture Association of America

National Association of Broadcasters

National Association of Home Builders

National Association of Manufacturers

National Association of Realtors

National Beer Wholesalers Association

National Federation of Independent Business

National Restaurant Association

Oil Companies

Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers

Recording Industry Association

Securities and investment companies

Telephone companies

Tobacco companies

Mass-based groups

AARP

AFL-CIO

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

American Israel Public Affairs Committee

American Legion

Christian Coalition

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

National Rifle Association

National Right to Life Committee

United Auto Workers union

Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.

Not coded as either business or mass-based

National Education Association (includes a mass base of teachers but also university professors)

National Governors’ Association (affected by interest groups rather than acting as an independent group)

Universities (unclear status as businesses or nonprofits)”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Trump, the Great Disruptor
  • Mass Dementia in the Western Establishment
  • EU solidarity successful against Donald Trump
  • The Rape of Russia
  • Conversations with the Crow
  • Facebook’s grim forecast: privacy push will erode profits for years

 

Trump, the Great Disruptor

He’s shaking things up – but will we survive the global earthquake?

July 26, 2018

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

What in the name of all that’s holy is Donald Trump up to this time? Good God in Heaven, what’s the story with this deranged tweet – in all caps yet! – threatening Iran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.” “Be cautious!” he added – advice he might take himself.

Caution is something our President knows nothing about: he dives right in, and makes plenty of waves. There’s no doubt that this is dangerous: on the other hand, it can be liberating, as in the case of the President’s sudden turnabout on North Korea. Indeed, if we review the history of how the Singapore summit came about, the sequence of events matches what’s going on with Iran: first comes the bombast, then comes the approach, and we wind up negotiating a peaceful settlement.

Or do we?

Trump’s hostility to Iran is well known: he campaigned against the Iran deal, and his administration is openly calling for regime change: Pompeo recently met with some in the Iranian-American community, propagandizing for some sort of effort to overthrow the mullahs in Tehran. This had been a longstanding US covert operation, and I have no doubt it’s been going on all along: Bush II and Obama authorized covert US assistance to various outfits in an effort to harass the Iranians, from the al-Qaeda-like Jundullah to various separatists (Kurds and Baluchis), and now the Trump administration is going to revive a program that has done nothing but kill dozens of innocent people over the years, most of them Iranian civilians.

Less well known is the fact that the President has repeatedly tried to open negotiations with the Iranians: all such overtures have been rudely rebuffed. Trump asked for a meeting with Iranian President Rouhani at last year’s UN General Assembly meeting: in return, the Iranians made a point of publicizing the fact that they have rejected any meeting with Trump a total of eight times. While this doesn’t excuse Trump’s crazed rhetoric, it does explain the all caps.

Some opponents of US intervention tend to whitewash the stupidities and excesses of those targeted by Uncle Sam. We saw this during the Kosovo war, with some leftists organizing a “Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic,” which spent its energy defending the internal repression engaged in by the Serbian regime, and hailing old Slobo as the best thing since Josef Stalin.

A less blatant version of this kind of thing sometimes happens in the case of Iran – a viciously repressive theocracy that lords it over a vital and increasingly youthful (and rebellious) population. The “Green” rebellion of some years ago was greeted, on the extreme left, with disdain, and stupidly denounced as a tool of “US imperialism.” While there’s no doubt the US tried to influence the Green movement, I don’t know of any evidence proving they succeeded – and if they had succeeded, the movement would have been rendered impotent. Hard-liners would have quickly denounced it as Washington’s fifth column.

Another example of this double standard in operation is the fact that Trump is rightly held responsible for withdrawing from an imperfect yet quite viable deal with Iran, while the Iranian leadership is given a pass when they reject further negotiations. Tehran’s intractability is giving the War Party in this country an opportunity we will all come to bitterly regret.

As Tucker Carlson pointed out on Tuesday, there are plenty of warmongers in Washington who just can’t wait for the shooting to start in the Middle East again, and they have targeted Iran as their next victim. Carlson is right that such a war would destroy Trump’s presidency precisely because his base would oppose it. And yet, as Col. Douglas MacGregor pointed out on the show, despite the fact that the President’s advisors are pushing war with Iran, Trump routinely ignores them and does exactly as he pleases: that’s why we had the Singapore summit and the Helsinki meeting with Putin. And that’s why Putin is coming to the White House for yet another meeting.

My view is that Trump has no intention of going to war with Iran: the bombast is for show. Yet his intentions may be irrelevant.

For whose benefit is he tweeting over-the-top threats against Iran? So far he’s managed to keep the Israel lobby from launching an all out attack on his purportedly “isolationist” policies, but only because he’s gone out of his way to appease Bibi Netanyahu. However, while the Israelis may delight in Trump, their American amen corner is another story entirely: many of the most prominent pro-Israel pundits are among the leaders of “The Resistance,” and the congressional contingent of Israel Firsters is relentless in their support for US intervention in Syria – a project the Lobby has been working on for years.

Trump isn’t stupid: he knows a war would annihilate him politically, but his notorious lack of caution works against him here. It isn’t hard to imagine a war with Iran that happens by “accident,” i.e. in which a staged provocation lures the US into a wider conflict. Staged – by whom? Use your imagination …

Despite the hysterics from the usual suspects claiming that Trump would blow up the world a few hours after taking office, the reality is that, instead of launching missiles at our alleged enemies, he’s launched the most wide-ranging and ambitious peace offensive in history. In addition to overseeing and encouraging the rapprochement of the two Koreas, and pursuing peace with Russia in Helsinki, Trump is also trying to get “a better deal” with the none-too-eager Iranians – and, less well-known is the fact that he’s even trying to get us out of Afghanistan by ordering serious negotiations with the Taliban.

If all these peace initiatives succeed, Trump will have reversed the interventionist policies of the Bush II administration, which were continued by Obama, and inaugurated a new era in American foreign policy. This is the meaning of “America First.”

Now do you get why the Deep State hates him and his trying to overthrow him?

I have to say I’m amazed: not even I expected anything like this. Never in my most optimistic moods did I ever imagine that Donald J. Trump would pursue the policies described above. And now he’s topped it all off with a ringing endorsement of … free trade! His latest tweet reads:

“The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade. I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!”

Of course they won’t. As the late great Murray N. Rothbard put it:

“If authentic free trade ever looms on the policy horizon, there’ll be one sure way to tell. The government/media/big-business complex will oppose it tooth and nail. We’ll see a string of op-eds “warning” about the imminent return of the 19th century. Media pundits and academics will raise all the old canards against the free market, that it’s exploitative and anarchic without government “coordination.” The establishment would react to instituting true free trade about as enthusiastically as it would to repealing the income tax.”

Rothbard’s prediction has now come true: the EU – the veritable embodiment of the “government/media/big business complex” – is surely not going to take up the President’s proposal.

On a different level, the anti-Trump libertarians have responded to Trump’s bold proposal by very cleverly claiming that it’s the right policy for the wrong reasons. The very smart Veronique de Rugy writes:

“[E]ven these seemingly free-trade stances stem from fundamentally protectionist beliefs: First, that if there were no tariffs, US exports would rise dramatically and surpass imports, shrinking the dreaded trade deficit. And second, that exports are great and imports are bad. In other words, America wins with low imports and high exports.

“He is wrong on all counts. If the US trade deficit were to ever disappear, America’s economic health would take a turn for the worse. As long as the United States is growing and remains an attractive place to invest, we will continue to run a trade deficit with the rest of the world.”

This is very interesting, as well as being supremely irrelevant. What does it matter what Trump believes about the so-called trade deficit if he endorses the right policy – dropping all trade barriers? Must he convert to Austrian economics and mount a statue of Ludwig von Mises in a prominent spot in the White House before he gets any credit for admitting that free trade is the best policy? And why is he not supported when he points out that the European Union is a protectionist bloc? I would think “free market” economists would be quick to rally around someone who takes on this pale social democratic imitation of the old Soviet Union. Yet, oddly, there’s total radio silence on this score from KochWorld. Why is that?

We are on the cusp of a new era: the old cold war structures that determined the course of US foreign policy, and pushed it in a hegemonist direction, are collapsing all around us – and the President of the United States is giving them a good push.

That’s a good thing, despite the horrified exclamations of the “experts” and others who have a vested interest in maintaining the outlived status quo. Trump the Great Disruptor, the Loki in the Asgard of modernity, is shaking things up mightily.

Yes, there’s a deadly danger in that, as well as awesome possibilities. Yet isn’t that’s what life’s all about?

 

Mass Dementia in the Western Establishment

July 20, 2018

by Diana Johnstone

The Unz Review

Where to begin to analyze the madness of mainstream media in reaction to the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki? By focusing on the individual, psychology has neglected the problem of mass insanity, which has now overwhelmed the United States establishment, its mass media and most of its copycat European subsidiaries. The individuals may be sane, but as a herd they are ready to leap off the cliff.

For the past two years, a particular power group has sought to explain away its loss of power – or rather, its loss of the Presidency, as it still holds a predominance of institutional power – by creation of a myth. Mainstream media is known for its herd behavior, and in this case the editors, commentators, journalists have talked themselves into a story that initially they themselves could hardly take seriously.

Donald Trump was elected by Russia?

On the face of it, this is preposterous. Okay, the United States can manage to rig elections in Honduras, or Serbia, or even Ukraine, but the United States is a bit too big and complex to leave the choice of the Presidency to a barrage of electronic messages totally unread by most voters. If this were so, Russia wouldn’t need to try to “undermine our democracy”. It would mean that our democracy was already undermined, in tatters, dead. A standing corpse ready to be knocked over by a tweet.

Even if, as is alleged without evidence, an army of Russian bots (even bigger than the notorious Israeli army of bots) was besieging social media with its nefarious slanders against poor innocent Hillary Clinton, this could determine an election only in a vacuum, with no other influences in the field. But there was a lot of other stuff going on in the 2016 election, some for Trump and some for Hillary, and Hillary herself scored a crucial own goal by denigrating millions of Americans as “deplorables” because they didn’t fit into her identity politics constituencies.

The Russians could do nothing to build support for Trump, and there is not a hint of evidence that they tried. They might have done something to harm Hillary, because there was so much there: the private server emails, the Clinton foundation, the murder of Moammer Gaddafi, the call for a no-fly zone in Syria … they didn’t have to invent it. It was there. So was the hanky panky at the Democratic National Committee, on which the Clintonite accusations focus, perhaps to cause everyone to forget much worse things.

When you come to think of it, the DNC scandal focused on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not on Hillary herself. Screaming about “Russian hacking the DNC” has been a distraction from much more serious accusations against Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders supporters didn’t need those “revelations” to make them stop loving Hillary or even to discover that the DNC was working against Bernie. It was always perfectly obvious.

So at worst, “the Russians” are accused of revealing some relatively minor facts concerning the Hillary Clinton campaign. Big deal.

But that is enough, after two years of fakery, to send the establishment into a frenzy of accusations of “treason” when Trump does what he said he would do while campaigning, try to normalize relations with Russia.

This screaming comes not only from the US mainstream, but also from that European elite which has been housebroken for seventy years as obedient poodles, dachshunds or corgis in the American menagerie, via intense vetting by US trans-Atlantic “cooperation” associations. They have based their careers on the illusion of sharing the world empire by following U.S. whims in the Middle East and transforming the mission of their armed forces from defense into foreign intervention units of NATO under U.S. command. Having not thought seriously about the implications of this for over half a century, they panic at the suggestion of being left to themselves.

The Western elite is now suffering from self-inflicted dementia.

Donald Trump is not particularly articulate, navigating through the language with a small repetitive vocabulary, but what he said at his Helsinki press conference was honest and even brave. As the hounds bay for his blood, he quite correctly refused to endorse the “findings” of US intelligence agencies, fourteen years after the same agencies “found” that Iraq was bursting with weapons of mass destruction. How in the world could anyone expect anything else?

But for the mainstream media, “the story” at the Helsinki summit, even the only story, was Trump’s reaction to the, er, trumped up charges of Russian interference in our democracy. Were you or were you not elected thanks to Russian hackers? All they wanted was a yes or no answer. Which could not possibly be yes. So they could write their reports in advance.

Anyone who has frequented mainstream journalists, especially those who cover the “big stories” on international affairs, is aware of their obligatory conformism, with few exceptions. To get the job, one must have important “sources”, meaning government spokesmen who are willing to tell you what “the story” is, often without being identified. Once they know what “the story” is, competition sets in: competition as to how to tell it. That leads to an escalation of rhetoric, variations on the theme: “The President has betrayed our great country to the Russian enemy. Treason!”

This demented chorus on “Russian hacking” prevented mainstream media from even doing their job. Not even mentioning, much less analyzing, any of the real issues at the summit. To find analysis, one must go on line, away from the official fake news to independent reporting. For example, “the Moon of Alabama” site offers an intelligent interpretation of the Trump strategy, which sounds infinitely more plausible than “the story”. In short, Trump is trying to woo Russia away from China, in a reverse version of Kissinger’s strategy forty years ago to woo China away from Russia, thus avoiding a continental alliance against the United States. This may not work because the United States has proven so untrustworthy that the cautious Russians are highly unlikely to abandon their alliance with China for shadows. But it makes perfect sense as an explanation of Trump’s policy, unlike the caterwauling we’ve been hearing from Senators and talking heads on CNN.

Those people seem to have no idea of what diplomacy is about. They cannot conceive of agreements that would be beneficial to both sides. No, it’s got to be a zero sum game, winner take all. If they win, we lose, and vice versa.

They also have no idea of the harm to both sides if they do not agree. They have no project, no strategy. Just hate Trump.

He seems totally isolated, and every morning I look at the news to see if he has been assassinated yet.

It is unimaginable for our Manichean moralists that Putin might also be under fire at home for failing to chide the American president for U.S. violations of human rights in Guantanamo, murderous drone strikes against defenseless citizens throughout the Middle East, the destruction of Libya in violation of the UN mandate, interference in the elections of countless countries by government-financed “non-governmental organizations” (the National Endowment of Democracy), worldwide electronic spying, invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the world’s greatest prison population and regular massacres of school children. But the diplomatic Russians know how to be polite.

Still, if Trump actually makes a “deal”, there may be losers – neither the U.S. nor Russia but third parties. When two great powers reach agreement, it is often at somebody else’s expense. The West Europeans are afraid it will be them, but such fears are groundless. All Putin wants is normal relations with the West, which is not much to ask.

Rather, candidate number one for paying the price are the Palestinians, or even Iran, in marginal ways. At the press conference, asked about possible areas of cooperation between the two nuclear powers, Trump suggested that the two could agree on helping Israel:

“We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu. They would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel. In that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel. Israel will be working with us. So both countries would work jointly.”

In political terms, Trump knows where political power lies, and is counting on the influence of the pro-Israel lobby, which recognizes the defeat in Syria and the rising influence of Russia, to save him from the liberal imperialists – a daring bet, but he does not have much choice.

On another subject, Trump said that “our militaries” get along with the Russians “better than our politicians”. This is another daring bet, on military realism that could somehow neutralize military industrial congressional complex lobbying for more and more weapons.

In short, the only chance to end the nuclear war threat may depend on support for Trump from Israel and the Pentagon!

The hysterical neoliberal globalists seem to have ruled out any other possibility – and perhaps this one too.

“Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world” Trump declared “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

That is more than his political enemies can claim.

 

EU solidarity successful against Donald Trump

The US president will try to sell the interim agreement with the EU as his own exclusive success. But in reality the “deal” is a victory for the unity and the steadfastness of the EU

July 26, 2018

by Carsten von Nahmen

DW

How did Jean-Claude Juncker do it? The president of the European Commission achieved more in his visit with Donald Trump at the White House than he had probably even hoped for. Talk was of a “new phase” and a “phase of close friendship” between the US and the EU as the leaders announced negotiations aimed at eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade. And all this following weeks and months of aggressive rhetoric from Trump targeting the EU, and in particular Germany.

Expectations ahead of the meeting were consequently low. In recent weeks, Trump’s tweets, interviews and speeches to supporters were filled with accusations against the EU for its “unfair” trade practices. He described the EU as a “foe” of the United States and announced hefty future tariffs on European auto imports. Just one day before Juncker’s White House visit, no one in EU circles was expecting a breakthrough.

Changing winds in the US against Trump

However — and this is one part of the answer to the question posed above — Juncker got lucky. Just as he was expected to arrive in Washington, the momentum against Trump’s confrontational trade course apparently reached a critical mass.

Alongside opposition from American foreign trade partners, criticism from Congress also kept increasing, along with that from Trump’s own party and even from industry associations and Midwest farmers, who otherwise can be considered loyal Trump supporters but who now are more and more feeling the consequences of Trump’s confrontational trade policies toward Japan, China, Canada, Mexico, and even Europe.

Naturally, Donald Trump would never admit that he was in the wrong or had made a mistake. But it seems that the unpredictable populist in the White House nonetheless came to the conclusion that now would be a good time to switch tracks from a confrontational course to a cooperative one (at least temporarily) and to sell it to his supporters as a victory.

Success through solidarity

In truth, however, the outcome is a clear victory for the European Union. And this is the other part of the answer as to how Juncker did what he did: The Europeans stuck together as Trump tried to force them with threats and insults to make concessions. They countered his pressure with their own pressure and did not buckle as the US president threatened painful tariffs on European automakers.

Yes, a few concessions were made. The EU will import more liquefied natural gas from the US, as well as more soybeans and other agricultural commodities. This is the part of the EU-US “deal” that Trump will present to his supporters as a major victory. And with respect to negotiations on a free trade agreement for industrial products, which Trump put into play a few days ago via Twitter, he will say: Look here, I forced the Europeans to the negotiating table.

Fresh attempt for ‘TTIP light’?

But the fact is that such a deal is precisely what the EU has always wanted. The negotiations that are supposed to now begin would result in a “light” version of TTIP, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a free trade agreement that Trump backed out of in 2017 with a lot of loud bluster.

Of course, this is also typical Trump. Like a badly-behaved child, he knocks down what others have built up only to then put the broken pieces back together again and proudly announce that he did it all by himself. Juncker brushed over this childish behavior like a good grandfather, ready to be lenient on grandson when he acts up. That’s fine, if it helps the European economy and whatever is left of the transatlantic partnership.

A learning curve — for Trump too?

More than anything else, Europeans should walk away from this latest episode of the “Trump Show” with one key lesson: Steadfastness and unity resulted in success for the EU.

Trump is essentially what Americans call a “schoolyard bully”: someone you can’t appease with calls to reason or readiness to compromise. A bully is only impressed by strength and the experience of getting a taste of his own medicine when he tries to pressure and blackmail others.

This is what Europeans should remember the next time the wild child in White House has another outburst and once again sweeps away everything that has been achieved up until now. Maybe it will even occur tomorrow, with the next Tweet.

 

The Rape of Russia

The following  are excerpts Anne Williamson’s testimony before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives, presented Sept. 21, 1999.

 

It shows how the historic opportunity given the U.S. to help transform Russia into a free, peaceful, pro-Western country was squandered in the form of a bruising economic rape carried out by corrupt Russian politicians and businessmen, assisted by Bush and (especially) Clinton administrations engaged in political payoffs to Wall Street bankers and others, and by ineptitude and greed on the part of the U.S. Treasury and the Harvard Institute for International Development, assisted by fellow travelers and manipulators at Nordex, the IMF, the World Bank, and the Federal Reserve.

 

The losers were the Russian people and (mainly) U.S. tax-payers.

 

In the matter before us – the question of the many billions in capital that fled Russia to Western shores via the Bank of New York and other Western banks – we have had a window thrown open on what the financial affairs of a country without property rights, without banks, without the certainty of contract, without an accountable government or a leadership decent enough to be concerned with the national interest or its own citizens’ well-being looks like. It’s not a pretty picture, is it? But let there be no mistake, in Russia the West has truly been the author of its own misery. And there is no mistake as to who the victims are, i.e. Western, principally U.S., taxpayers and Russian citizens whose national legacy was stolen only to be squandered and/or invested in Western real estate and equities markets.

The first mistake was the West’s perception of the elected Russian president, Boris Yeltsin; where American triumphalists saw a great democrat determined to destroy the Communist system for freedom’s sake, Soviet history will record a usurper. A usurper’s first task is to transform a thin layer of the self-interested rabble into a constituency. Western assistance, IMF lending and the targeted division of national assets are what provided Boris Yeltsin the initial wherewithal to purchase his constituency of ex-Komsomol Communist Youth League bank chiefs, who were given the freedom and the mechanisms to plunder their own country in tandem with a resurgent and more economically competent criminal class. The new elite learned everything about the confiscation of wealth, but nothing about its creation. Worse yet, this new elite thrives in the conditions of chaos and eschews the very stability for which the United States so fervently hopes knowing full well, as they do, that stability will severely hamper their ability to obtain outrageous profits. Consequently, Yeltsin’s “reform” government was and is doomed to sustain this parasitic political base composed of the banking oligarchy.

Instead, after robbing the Russian people of the only capital they had to participate in the new market – the nation’s household savings – by freeing prices in what was a monopolistic economy and which delivered a 2500 percent inflation in 1992, America’s “brave, young Russian reformers” ginned-up a development theory of “Big Capitalism” based on Karl Marx’s mistaken edict that capitalism requires the “primitive accumulation of capital”. Big capitalists would appear instantly, they said, and a broadly-based market economy shortly thereafter if only the pockets of pre-selected members of their own ex-Komsomol circle were properly stuffed. Those who hankered for a public reputation were to secure the government perches from which they would pass state assets to their brethren in the nascent business community, happy in the knowledge that they too would be kicked back a significant cut of the swag. The US-led West accommodated the reformers’ cockeyed theory by designing a rapid and easily manipulated voucher privatization program that was really only a transfer of title and which was funded with $325 million US taxpayers’ dollars.

One particularly striking aspect of Bill Clinton’s presidency is how aggressively his administration has worked to capture the political support of the financial sector, offering up heretofore unseen gobs of government favor. A disproportionate number of firms receiving OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a government entity) guarantees, Export-Import bank lending, and IFC (International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank) and Russian Enterprise Fund participation were generous contributors to both Clinton campaign coffers and the DNC. The basic formula was simple, it’s not the rocket science Russia’s Harvard advisers intimated it was: The bread and butter of all equity markets are bonds. Wall Street wanted a debt market. You build it and we’ll come, they said.

During the Cold War, the International Monetary Fund got itself repeatedly into all sorts of financial and ethical mishaps in the West’s effort to contain the Soviet empire. But the IMF’s excesses were of little concern so long as its financial firepower could be directed at whatever nation appeared on the verge of toppling into the Soviet camp.

But weren’t Americans told that Russia’s financial oligarchy paid for Yeltsin’s re-election? To the contrary, Russia’s bankers made serious money on Yeltsin’s electoral weakness by buying government bonds at distressed prices using cheap money handed over from government deposits. The lion’s share of the domestic bonds’ high yields have always been paid with IMF loans. Russia’s first representative to the World Bank, Leonid Grigoriev, explained, “Of course, the government was to return this money and that is why the yields on 3-month paper reached as much as 290 percent. The government’s paying such huge, impossible rates on treasury bills, well, it’s completely unbelievable. It had nothing to do with the market and therefore such yields can only be understood as a payback, just a different method.”

It doesn’t take a conspiracy theory to observe that the downward arc of citizens’ liberties, independence and civic competence and of American culture generally parallels the declining value of the U.S. dollar, which has lost 99 percent of its value since the founding of the Fed, and 75 percent of that debasement has occurred since the last link with gold established by Bretton Woods collapsed in 1971. From that perspective, it’s really not very surprising that at the end of the century, not quite a century after America instituted the Federal Reserve and thereby began the process that would deliver the power of creating unlimited debt to the political class, the White House is occupied by a couple who share not so much a marriage as they do a collection of felonies.

 

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, on 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 the well-known Washington fix-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.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy.

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks.”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

One of Crowley’s first major assignments within the agency was to assist in the recruitment and management of prominent World War II Nazis, especially those with advanced intelligence experience. One of the CIA’s major recruitment coups was Heinrich Mueller, once head of Hitler’s Gestapo who had fled to Switzerland after the collapse of the Third Reich and worked as an anti-Communist expert for Masson of Swiss counterintelligence. Mueller was initially hired by Colonel James Critchfield of the CIA, who was running the Gehlen Organization out of Pullach in southern Germany. Crowley eventually came to despise Critchfield but the colonel was totally unaware of this, to his later dismay.

Crowley’s real expertise within the agency was the Soviet KGB. One of his main jobs throughout his career was acting as the agency liaison with corporations like ITT, which the CIA often used as fronts for moving large amounts of cash off their books. He was deeply involved in the efforts by the U.S. to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile, which eventually got him into legal problems with regard to investigations of the U.S. government’s grand jury where he has perjured himself in an agency cover-up

After his retirement, Crowley began to search for someone who might be able to write a competent history of his career. His first choice fell on British author John Costello (author of Ten Days to Destiny, The Pacific War and other works) but, discovering that Costello was a very aggressive homosexual, he dropped him and tentatively turned to Joseph Trento who had assisted Crowley and William Corson in writing a book on the KGB. When Crowley discovered that Trento had an ambiguous and probably cooperative relationship with the CIA, he began to distrust him and continued his search for an author.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

In 1998, when Crowley was slated to go into the hospital for exploratory surgery, he had his son, Greg, ship two large foot lockers of documents to Douglas in Wisconsin with the caveat that they were not to be opened until after Crowley’s death. These documents, totaled an astonishing 15,000 pages of CIA classified files involving many covert operations, both foreign and domestic, during the Cold War.

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-Müller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

He has.

 

Conversation No. 1

Date: Saturday, January 27, 1996

Commenced: 11: 02 AM (CST)

Concluded: 11:25AM (CST)

 

EC: Hello?

GD: Mrs. Crowley. This is Gregory. Is Robert available?

EC: I think he’s upstairs. Greg was supposed to come over….let me call him for you.

GD: Thanks

(Pause)

RTC: Gregory! How are you?

GD: Emily says you’re expecting your son…

RTC: He’s probably not coming. Never mind. If he comes, I’ll tell you and we can talk later…in the afternoon.

GD: I talked to Corson about a foreword for the next Mueller book. I know we mentioned this but are you willing to contribute?

RTC: Certainly. Have it out in a few days or I can work it up and fax it to you. OK?

GD: Fine. Thanks a lot for this.

RTC: It’ll just make me more popular, that’s all. How are you coming with the next one?

GD: About halfway through. I’ve decided to put in the counterfeiting business and probably do a hit on the Gehlen mob…

RTC: That ought to frost Critchfield’s worthless balls!

GD: And I was there, don’t forget, and I know where the bum hid the money. I was thinking about doing a number about Willi (Krichbaum). He was Critchfield’s top recruiter. Wait until they find out good old Willi was a Gestapo colonel and Müller’s top deputy in the Gestapo!

RTC: More fun and games. You really do like to twist the nuts, don’t you?

GD: Only if they don’t come off in my hands.

RTC: Lois would never miss them. What else goes in?

GD: Well, I owe Corson the thing on Kronthal. He goes in for sure. Maybe Wisner too.

RTC: Remind me to tell you about the time Frank got caught in Rock Creek giving a blow job to a black exchange student. Fine thing for a southern gentleman to get caught at.

GD: Mississippi or something.

RTC: Originally one of the New York Gardiners. Gardiner’s Island. Old family. They had holdings in Montana, if memory serves me…of course names elude me…but holdings in Mississippi too. Poor Frank was a first class nut case. You know about blowing his brains out all over the garage roof? Yes, I told you that, didn’t I. Couldn’t follow through on his promises to the Hungarians of our military intervention if they rose up against Stalin….

GD: But Stalin died in 1953 and that business was in 1956…

RTC: Yes, yes, of course but I meant the Stalin empire.

GD: Understood. Theory and practice.

RTC: What else new and exciting to drive them bats?

GD: Wallenberg…

RTC: Who cares about that hebe?

GD: Well, the gits started the story that the Russians got him…

RTC: We made that one up…

GD: But Müller said the Gestapo bagged him and offed him in some farmyard..

RTC: Had it coming. Listen, Gregory, what do you want to do about the Kennedy business? I guess there’s still interest in it. God…fifty thousand books and all of them fuller of shit than a Christmas turkey.

GD: How many did your people write, sponsor and publish? I mean to deliberately drag carmine herrings across the path?

RTC: Lost track. Hundreds. One thing Wisner did was to build up a very cooperative media and that includes book publishers.

GD: I could consider that.

RTC: Maybe after I’m dead and gone. It would be better.

GD: Fine. Question here?

RTC: Shoot.

GD: Was Oswald a patsy?

RTC: Sure. He worked for us once in Japan… at Atsugi…and also for ONI. Not high level but he was a soldier after all.

GD: How would I handle that?

RTC: Let’s claim he worked for Hoover!  Why not?

GD: I mean, did he actually?

RTC: Christ no. Poor idiot. Jesus, what a wife! First class bitch. Thought Lee was a millionaire and when she came here, she would strike it rich. Turned out she lived in a slum and she had to put up with a loudmouth husband and then got stuck with a kid. No wonder she did what we told her.

GD: Women are not easy to deal with. They are either at your feet or your throat…

RTC: Oh, the truth of it all! Emily is a lovely person but I tell her nothing. And let me ask you that when you talk with her, for God’s sake, don’t talk shop with her. It would just stir her up. Most Company wives are a pack of nuts. Did I mention Cord’s wife?

GD: I don’t think so. I…no, I don’t remember. Cord Meyer?

RTC: Right, the Great Cyclops. Or the One-Eyed Reilley.

GD: In the center of his forehead?

RTC: Lost it in the Pacific. Glass.

GD: The wife?

RTC: What?

GD: You mentioned his wife…

RTC: Ah yes. He married the daughter of Pinchot just after the war…

GD: Gifford?

RTC: Correct. The governor. Very attractive woman but her sister was even better. She married Bradlee who is one of the Companies’ men. He’s on the ‘Post’ now. Cord’s wife was what they call a free spirit…liked modern art, runs around naked in people’s gardens and so on. Pretty but strange and unstable. She and Cord got along for a time but time changes everything….they do say that, don’t they?…They broke up and Cord was so angry at being dumped, he hated her from then on. She took up with Kennedy. Did you know that?

GD: No.

RTC: Oh yes indeed. Kennedy had huge orgies out at 1600 with nude women in the pools and all that. Even had a professional photographer come in and take pictures of him in action. Old Jack loved threesomes, the occasional dyke and God knows what else. It was Joe’s money that shut people up, including his nasty wife…

GD: I thought she was a saint. Old family…

RTC: Bullshit! Family is Irish, bog trotters, like Kennedy. Not French at all. A greedy, lying and completely nutty woman. Never liked her. One generation here and they give up washing clothes and put up the lace curtains in the family parlor. What was I saying?

GD: About Cord’s wife…

RTC: Oh yes. After Mary…that was her name…Mary. You haven’t heard about her?

GD: No.

RTC: After Kennedy bought the farm, ex-Mrs Meyer was annoyed. She became the steady girlfriend and he was very serious about her. Jackie was brittle, uptight and very greedy. Poor people usually are. Mary had money and far more class and she knew how to get along with Jack. Trouble was, she got along too well. She didn’t approve of the mass orgies and introduced him to pot and other things. Not a good idea. Increased chances for blackmail or some erratic public behavior. But after Dallas, she began to brood and then started to talk. Of course she had no proof but when people like that start to run their mouths, there can be real trouble.

GD: What was the outcome?

RTC: We terminated her, of course.

GD: That I didn’t know. How?

RTC: Had one of our cleaning men nail her down by the towpath while she was out for her daily jog.

GD: Wasn’t that a bit drastic?

RTC: Why? If you knew the damage she could cause us…

GD: Were you the man?

RTC: No, Jim Angleton was. And Bradlee, her brother-in-law, was in the know. After she assumed room temperature, he and Jim went over to Mary’s art studio to see if she had any compromising papers and ran off with her diary. I have a copy of it…

GD: Could I see it?

RTC: Now, Gregory, don’t ask too many questions. Maybe later.

GD: Did anyone get nailed?

RTC: Some spaced out nigger was down there but he had nothing to do with it. Our people came down on that place in busloads to help out the locals but they were searching for the gun. Our man was supposed to have tossed it into the water but it never made it in and one of our boys found it in some bushes, half in and half out of the water. Beat the locals to it by about ten seconds. Very close. See, it was one of our hit weapons that never had serial numbers. Not made that way.

GD: Ruger made a silenced .22 during the war for the OSS. No numbers, parkerized finish.

RTC: Same thing.

GD: Couldn’t they have talked sense into her?

RTC: What did Shakespeare say about angry women?

GD: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’

RTC: Exactly.

GD: She had children?

RTC: Some. One was killed by a drunk driver. Caused all kinds of friction in the family as I remember.

GD: Meyer. He was tied up with Alan Cranston?

RTC: Yes. The one-world crap.

GD: I knew Cranston and his family. United World Federalists. He married into the Fowle family and I was a friend of one of the members. Ultra left-wing. Was at his house by the golf course one time and the bedroom bookshelf was jammed with Commie books…Debray, Mao, Lenin, Marx, Engels, Kautsky and on and on.

RTC: Cord was under investigation by Phoebie for that.

GD: Phoebie?

RTC: Slang for FBI. We’ll have to talk about Cranston…he left the Senate..

GD: I know. I nailed him. The savings and loan business. I got inside skinny on this and tipped off the media. ABC people. It went on from there.

RTC: Good for you. Cord was tied up.

GD: You didn’t like him.

RTC: Nasty, opinionated, loud and a general asshole.

GD: What did he think about doing his wife?

RTC: Ex-wife. Let’s be accurate now. Ex-wife. When Jim talked to Cord about this, Cord didn’t let him finish his fishing expedition. He was in complete agreement about shutting her up. Gregory, you can’t reason with people like her. She hated Cord, loved Kennedy and saw things in the Dallas business that were obvious to insiders or former insiders but she made the mistake of running her mouth. One of the wives had a talk with her about being quiet but Mary was on a tear and that was that.

GD: Yes, I think there’s something there.

RTC: But not while I’m breathing, Gregory. Not until later. And it wasn’t my decision. I was there but Jim and the others made the final decision. You know how it goes.

GD: Oh yeah, I know that one. But to get back to the foreword. No problem?

RTC: None at all.

GD: I don’t think Tom Kimmel will like that.

RTC: I’ve heard from him on that. He doesn’t like the idea that Bill and I approve of you. I wouldn’t tell him too much if I were you. You can tell me things and sometimes you can tell Bill but Kimmel has a mouth problem.

GD: I helped him with the Pearl Harbor matter…

RTC: Don’t bother. What else is going to be in the next book?

GD: Something on the Duke of Windsor.

RTC: Gregory, I think my son is about to come up here so perhaps we can get together later today. Call me after 6 tonight if you wish. Sorry but weekends can be busy here.

GD: Understood.

(Concluded at 11:25AM CST)

 

Facebook’s grim forecast: privacy push will erode profits for years

July 25, 2018

by Munsif Vengattil and Paresh Dave

Reuters

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s shares lost as much as a quarter of their value on Wednesday after executives said that profit margins would plummet for several years due to the costs of improving privacy safeguards and slowing usage in the biggest advertising markets.

The second-quarter results were the first sign that a new European privacy law and a succession of privacy scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and other app developers have bit into Facebook’s business. The company further warned that the toll would not be offset by revenue growth from emerging markets and Facebook’s Instagram app, which has been more immune from privacy concerns.

Facebook’s fortunes shifted in under two hours as the company first reported revenue and user growth that missed expectations and then issued warnings about future growth and expenses.

Operating profit margin, which fell to 44 percent in the second quarter from 47 percent a year ago, will sink to the “mid-30s” for more than two years, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner said in investor guidance.

The plummeting stock price wiped out as much as $150 billion in market capitalization and erased the stock’s gains since April when Facebook announced a surprisingly strong 63 percent rise in profit and an increase in users.

If the share drop holds on Thursday, it would be Facebook’s largest single-day decline, topping a 12 percent decrease in July 2012.

Nasdaq futures dropped 0.85 percent late on Wednesday, suggesting the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index would fall when trading opens on Thursday morning. Facebook’s results prompted selling in other Nasdaq listings, including media and advertising rivals Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc.

‘ENTERING A NEW PERIOD’

Facebook had cautioned investors to expect a big jump in second-quarter costs because of efforts to address concerns about poor handling of users’ privacy and to better monitor what users post. Total expenses in the second quarter surged to $7.4 billion, up 50 percent compared with a year ago.

Facebook forecast similar increases for the second half of the year, also citing spending on video content and marketing.

Its gloomy forecast for revenue growth surprised investors, though, and prompted many questions from financial analysts on a conference call with company executives on Wednesday.

Sales in the second quarter grew 42 percent, its slowest pace in nearly three years, to $13.2 billion compared with $9.3 billion a year ago.

Wehner said quarterly revenue growth would be closer to 30 percent the rest of the year.

He cited currency fluctuations and a shift in usage to features where Facebook shows less advertising or charges less due to lower demand.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union also will cause a revenue drop. The new privacy law forced several changes to Facebook’s privacy terms and sign-up process, leading a minority of users to opt for non-personalized ads, which tend to generate less revenue.

“They’re talking about currency headwinds, but more we think it’s due to slower user growth given GDPR and more focus on privacy,” Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said.

Facebook’s daily active users in Europe declined by 3 million amid the new regulation. Worldwide daily user growth for Facebook’s namesake service slid for its sixth straight quarter, bringing it to nearly 1.5 billion users in the second quarter.

The company said for the first time that more than 2.5 billion users interact with at least one of its apps each month, but analysts have said many of them are spending more time with Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Commercialization of those apps is nascent.

Revenue from emerging markets has not picked up the slack either. Sales from United States, Canada and Europe fell $75 million in the second quarter compared with a year ago, while revenue from other markets rose $51 million.

Gene Munster, a venture capitalist at Loup Ventures, said in an email that Facebook is “entering a new period” where declining user growth will translate to slower revenue growth.

He added that Facebook has “a track record of resetting revenue growth and expense expectations only to turn around and exceed those expectations the following quarter.”

Facebook reported $5.1 billion in profit, or $1.74 per share, compared with the average estimates of $5.1 billion and $1.72 per share among research gathered by Thomson Reuters.

The threat of additional privacy regulatory setbacks remains a concern, according to analysts.

Facebook suffered a blow in China on Wednesday when regulators there withdrew their approval of a company innovation hub to support local startups, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Misinformation on WhatsApp contributing to mob killings in India have added to the pressure on Facebook to re-evaluate how its services maintain security and decorum.

Nearly all social media services have received greater scrutiny since U.S. intelligence agencies in January 2017 revealed that organizations tied to the Russian government had seeded content on the platform to shake up the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker

 

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