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TBR News June 20, 2019

Jun 20 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. June 20, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for June 20:” The local war party is playing with fire when they threaten Iran. Shiite Iran is in control of the well-trained and armed Hezbollah militia and Iran is hated by Sunni Saudi Arabia. The attack on the oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz was done by the Saudis with a mortar, not mines and the US intelligence knows this. If the Strait ever gets blocked, the price of oil, and gas, will skyrocket so both the Saudis and the US are playing with serious economic fire.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Hicks told House panel Trump is serious about foreign help in elections
  • Iran shoots down US drone
  • The Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
  • Bret Stephens, Warmonger
  • A Russian Base on the Indian Ocean
  • DHS to Move Biometric Data on Hundreds of Millions of People to Amazon Cloud
  • Total US Mail surveillance
  • Downing of US drone a ‘clear message’ to Washington — Iran’s IRGC commander
  • US joins four rogue countries seen as likely forces for bad, poll finds
  • 2019 is a very bad year for measles
  • Himalayan ice melting at ‘scary’ levels
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Turning Blood Into Gold

 

 

Hicks told House panel Trump is serious about foreign help in elections

June 20, 2019

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hope Hicks, a once close aide to President Donald Trump, told the House Judiciary Committee that Trump was serious in saying there was nothing wrong in accepting derogatory information about political opponents from a foreign government, panel Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Thursday.

“Ms. Hicks made clear that she understood the president to be serious when he said that he would accept foreign interference in our elections,” Nadler said in a statement for a hearing on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“She also made clear that even she knew that such foreign assistance should be rejected and reported to the FBI,” he said.

Hicks, who was Trump’s campaign press secretary and his White House communications director, spent eight hours in a closed-door committee hearing on Wednesday. But she refused to answer questions about her 14-month White House tenure after administration attorneys said she was immune from testifying on the topic.

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, want Hicks to answer questions about five episodes in the Mueller report that they believe contain evidence of obstruction of justice by Trump. They also questioned her about hush payments during the 2016 campaign to two women, including porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

Nadler pledged to release a transcript of Hicks’ testimony soon.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis

 

Iran shoots down US drone

Iran says US ‘spy’ drone was flying in its airspace amid strained relations over last week’s oil tanker attacks

June 20, 2019

by Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor and Julian Borger in Washington

The Guardian

Iran has shot down an US drone in the strait of Hormuz, accusing Washington of breaching Iran’s national sovereignty and trying to deepen tensions in the region.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that they had used a surface to air missile to shoot down what they called a US “spy” drone they claimed was flying in the country’s airspace.

US Central Command confirmed that one of its unmanned aircraft had been taken down, but said it was in international airspace. A CentCom spokesman, Capt Bill Urban said it was a US navy Global Hawk surveillance drone, which had been downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz at 11.35pm GMT.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false. This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace,” Urban said.

The US military accused Iran last week of firing a missile at another drone that responded to the oil tanker attacks near the Gulf of Oman.

Tensions in the Gulf have been heightened since 13 June, when the US accused Iran of attacking two tankers in the the Gulf of Oman with mines. The US military released footage it said showed the Iranian military removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the tankers. There have also allegedly been Iranian-inspired attacks on US oil and military assets in Iraq, and increasingly sophisticated weaponry being fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels.

The Iranian state news agency said the downed drone was an RQ-4 Global Hawk. “It was shot down when it entered Iran’s airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the south,” the Revolutionary Guards’ website added.

The secretary of Iran’s supreme national security council, Ali Shamkhani, had said on Wednesday that Tehran would respond to any intrusion into its airspace or waters.

Shamkhani emphasised that Iran robustly protects its aerial and maritime borders, describing its airspace as the country’s “red line”. “No matter whose plane trespasses into it, we have always given and will give a harsh response to intruders.”

He insisted Iran was the guarantor of security in the Gulf and strait of Hormuz.

The chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, urged the Iranian government to file a complaint to the United Nations on the alleged US drone intrusion into its territory. He said: “US drone intrusion to the Iranian airspace is clear violation of the UN charter and national sovereignty of the country.”

Both Washington and Tehran insist they are intent on avoiding a war as tensions build over the consequences of the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, but fears that an accidental chain of events will lead to escalation and finally a military confrontation are growing.

The shooting down of the drone came as the US president, Donald Trump, was briefed on the details of a separate incident: a further missile strike in Saudi Arabia that appeared to come from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said on Wednesday in relation to the Saudi missile strike: “We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies.”

Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, who ousted the internationally recognised Saudi-backed government in late 2014, have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi civilian, military and oil installations in the past two weeks. Saudi Arabia claims Iranian experts are advising the Houthis.

The US has deployed an aircraft carrier to the Middle East in recent weeks and added additional troops to the tens of thousands already in the region.

Iran has set a deadline of 27 June by which it will breach limits on uranium stockpiles set out in the nuclear deal, a development likely to lead to renewed US demands that the EU states France, Germany and Britain join the US in pulling out of the deal. Iran says it is gradually suspending its adherence to the deal in response to the economic stranglehold being imposed on the country by US sanctions.

A meeting of the joint commission that oversees the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is due to meet on 28 June in Vienna – bringing together Iran, the three EU states, China, as well as Russia. The EU will urge Iran not to take further steps to pull out of the deal, and may put Iran’s actions into the JCPOA’s lengthy dispute mechanism.

 

The Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis

June 20, 2019

by Rannie Amiri

AntiWar

Recent weeks have seen tensions between the United States and Iran soar, initially after a May 2019 incident in which four commercial vessels were struck in the Gulf of Oman (two Saudi oil tankers, one Norwegian and an Emirati ship), ebb thereafter and escalate yet again when a similar attack took place one month later on the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian Front Altair tankers, also in the Gulf of Oman. Tellingly, when it appeared the war rhetoric had subsided after the first incident it quickly ratcheted up, and by several degrees, after the second, as if the May episode had failed to achieve its goal.

Both tanker assaults were allegedly at the hands of Iran, that is, according to Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, albeit by unclear means and for dubious reasons.

It did not take long for doubts to surface as to why Iran would attack a Japanese tanker while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in the midst of a state visit to Tehran in an attempt to mediate between it and Washington. The suspect authenticity of a grainy video released by US Central Command purportedly showing an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the tanker also raised skepticism (the crew indicated they were hit by a flying object, not a mine).

Putting sloppy, poorly designed “evidence” aside, recent history makes clear who the vested parties keen to stoke a manufactured hostility between Iran and its neighbors are. Indeed, one such actor has for decades used a comparable strategy of deliberate provocation to justify vicious military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon, not unlike the agitation Iran is experiencing today.

The Israeli tactic has always been to make conditions so unbearable, intolerable and unsustainable that a response of some kind by the affected group becomes inevitable. Whether it had been to starve and strangle Gazans by a stifling land, sea and air blockade and in effect imprison its population (who then responded by firing symbolic, fertilizer-based rockets) or the nearly two-decade long occupation of southern Lebanon to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization and then Hezbollah, the approach has always failed but not without great civilian casualty.

In both cases, acts of resistance to Israeli provocations were used as pretext for subsequent aerial bombing and military operations, “retaliatory measures” as routinely parroted by the Western media. But Lebanon endured, ultimately ending the occupation and repelling the 2006 Israeli invasion while Gaza remained steadfast despite great hardship.

Currently, the refrain is that of Iran interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbors. Although an open discussion of Iran’s interests in the Arab world is not unreasonable, events on the ground grossly prevent its undertaking at present for it is Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who are directly intervening in the affairs of Yemen with daily airstrikes which have so decimated the country in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the Houthis that a humanitarian catastrophe has developed; it is the Bahraini government which has rid itself of the trappings of civil society with dissenters routinely stripped of their citizenship, journalists tortured and peaceful calls for representative government violently put-down; the advent of al-Qaeda and subsequently ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the similar religious ideology shared by these groups with their Saudi sponsors can also rightly be considered an example of unsolicited meddling in the affairs of both nations. Remarkably, it is these three countries which have been most vocal in accusing Iran of being behind the unrest.

The staggering loss of a life as a result of the ISIS caliphate and the Syrian war is still being tallied. In Iraq, the insertion of foreign fighters was a means to prevent the rise and stability of a popularly elected government in the post-Saddam era (as miserably as the nascent Iraqi administrations managed to fail on their own) and in Syria to bring down an ally of Hezbollah and Iran.

Iran has only seen a brief reprieve from sanctions which have significantly impacted its economy, with no proof to date of an overt or covert nuclear weapons program. Additional American troops are now being dispatched near its shores.

Without entertaining the possibility of “false flag” operations in the Gulf of Oman, the states who would like to see a war between Iran and the US unfold are no mystery. As recent Middle East history teaches, the conflicts which have caused the most destruction and devastation have been at the hands of those who wanted to swallow Palestinian land, subjugate Lebanon, topple the Syrian leadership, restore the old guard in Iraq and install a pliant government in Yemen.

The instigators of the current Persian Gulf crisis, which if to get out of hand would lead to even greater tragedy, are one and the same.

 

Bret Stephens, Warmonger

In fact, some people do want war, including a certain New York Times columnist.

June 18, 2019

by Andrew J. Bacevich

The Ameerian Conservative

The teaser for a recent Bret Stephens column in The New York Times accurately summarizes its contents: “If Iran won’t change its behavior we should sink its navy.”

We’ve done it before and, by golly, we can do it again. Stephens offers his readers this sanitized version of history to make his case: “On April 14, 1988, the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts, a frigate, hit an Iranian naval mine while sailing in the Persian Gulf. The explosion injured 10 of her crew and nearly sank the ship. Four days later, the U.S. Navy destroyed half the Iranian fleet in a matter of hours. Iran did not molest the Navy or international shipping for many years thereafter.”

Stripped bare of context, that paragraph is factually correct. But stripping it of context, as Stephens does, transforms it into a form of untruth, not a blatant lie perhaps, but an exercise in sleight of hand. Indeed, the very purpose of his column is not to enlighten, but to deceive and manipulate.

Harbor attack came out of the blue, ignoring the years of escalating antagonism between the United States and Japan that preceded it. Our version of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis portrays it as an unprovoked act of aggression, conveniently forgetting U.S. efforts over the previous two years to overthrow or assassinate Fidel Castro. And we prefer to divorce decades of muddled U.S. policies in the Middle East from the heinous crime of 9/11, pretending that the former played no role in inspiring the latter.

Yet bad history leads to bad policy. Stephens implicitly suggests that the incident involving the Samuel B. Roberts was itself an unprovoked attack. In fact, the story is a bit more complicated and those complications deserve reflection today.

Here is just some of the context that Stephens chooses to leave out.

Yet bad history leads to bad policy. Stephens implicitly suggests that the incident involving the Samuel B. Roberts was itself an unprovoked attack. In fact, the story is a bit more complicated and those complications deserve reflection today.

Here is just some of the context that Stephens chooses to leave out.

Item: In 1988, Iran was in the eighth year of a war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq; Saddam had initiated that conflict by invading Iran, an unprovoked and illegal act of aggression.

Item: Beginning in December 1983, the United States had thrown its support behind the Iraqi dictator, providing him with battlefield intelligence and various types of material support; starting in 1985, in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair, the Reagan administration also began secretly providing arms to Iran.

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Item: In 1984, Iraq had begun attacking ships involved in exporting Iranian oil; Iran responded in kind, attacking tankers belonging to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, countries that were bankrolling Saddam’s war effort.

Item: In 1988, Iran was in the eighth year of a war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq; Saddam had initiated that conflict by invading Iran, an unprovoked and illegal act of aggression.

Item: Beginning in December 1983, the United States had thrown its support behind the Iraqi dictator, providing him with battlefield intelligence and various types of material support; starting in 1985, in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair, the Reagan administration also began secretly providing arms to Iran.

Item: In 1984, Iraq had begun attacking ships involved in exporting Iranian oil; Iran responded in kind, attacking tankers belonging to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, countries that were bankrolling Saddam’s war effort.

Item: On May 17, 1987, with the double-dealing of Iran-Contra having become public, an Iraqi fighter-bomber attacked the USS Stark, nearly sinking it and killing 37 American sailors; Secretary of State George Shultz blamed Iran for the incident, attributing it to a “basic Iranian threat to the free flow of oil and to the principle of freedom of navigation”; in fact, both Iran and Iraq were engaged in impeding the free flow of oil.

Item: That July, the U.S. Navy began escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf; the Pentagon also began preparing for offensive operations, concentrating additional combat assets in the region.

Item: On September 21, 1987, U.S. forces initiated a campaign of escalating attacks directed at Iranian mine-laying vessels and oil platforms; the United States had now effectively become a full-fledged ally of Saddam Hussein.

Item: Months later, the Samuel Roberts inadvertently wandered into a field of floating mines; the resulting U.S. fatalities were 37 fewer than those killed on the USS Stark but the incident provided the needed pretext for the United States to respond four days later on April 18, 1988 with Operation Praying Mantis, which decimated Iran’s minuscule navy.

Item, a notable footnote that goes unmentioned in Stephens’ column: Not long thereafter, on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes, a cruiser intruding into Iranian territorial waters, shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 civilians aboard; senior U.S. officials, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then lied about the circumstances leading to this incident; a U.S. Navy investigation charged Iran with “principal responsibility” for what it termed a “tragedy”; no apologies were forthcoming; Vice President George H.W. Bush said it best: “I will never apologize for the United States—I don’t care what the facts are.”

Within weeks, the Iran-Iraq War ended in a UN-brokered ceasefire. The United States had enabled Saddam to survive. Two years later, America’s erstwhile ally invaded and annexed Kuwait.

So, yes, in Operation Preying Mantis, U.S. forces did defeat the Iranian navy. Yet prevailing in this insignificant skirmish accomplished little apart from paving the way for further aggression by Saddam Hussein.

“Nobody wants a war with Iran,” writes Stephens. Actually some people do want war, almost surely including President Trump’s secretary of state and national security adviser. So, too, does Stephens himself. The deceptive history that he chooses to propagate can have no purpose except to promote armed conflict and to impede any understanding into America’s role in planting the seeds of forever war.

 

A Russian Base on the Indian Ocean

June 20, 2019

In a highly secret response to American and Israeli threats of war, the current regime in Tehran has made a formal agreement with Russia to provide them with a long-term naval base on the Indian Ocean, superior to their former naval base in northern Yemen.

The base will be located at Gwdadar Bay, an area used by both Iran and Pakistan.

Connecting transportation routes that will connect Russian territory with the projected naval base will be installed by Iran.

This projected base will also enable the Russians to better observe, and prepare against, military activity on the Diego Garcia islands, located in the Indian Ocean to the south.

Russia’s ‘Maritime Doctrine till 2020’ views the Indian Ocean as one of “regional priorities and formulates three long-term objectives of the Russian policy in the region: a) developing shipping and fisheries navigation as well as joint anti-piracy activities with other states; b) conducting marine scientific research in Antarctica as the main policy direction aimed at maintaining and strengthening Russia’s positions in the region; c) promoting the transformation of the region into a zone of peace, stability and good neighborly relations as well as periodically ensuring naval presence of the Russian Federation in the Indian Ocean.”

 

DHS to Move Biometric Data on Hundreds of Millions of People to Amazon Cloud

June 19, 2019

by Jack Corrigan

Nextgov

The department seeks a new platform to identify people using fingerprints, irises and faces, and eventually DNA, palm prints, scars and tattoos.

The Homeland Security Department is looking to upgrade the software it uses to analyze biometric data on hundreds of millions of people around the globe, and it plans to store that information in Amazon’s cloud.

The agency’s Office of Biometric Identity Management will replace its legacy biometric analysis platform, called the Automated Biometric Identification System, or IDENT, with a new, more robust system hosted by Amazon Web Services, according to a request for information released Monday

IDENT essentially serves as an enterprisewide clearinghouse for troves of biometric and biographic data collected by the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service and other Homeland Security components. The system links fingerprint, iris and face data to biographic information, allowing officials to quickly identify suspected terrorists, immigration violators, criminals and anyone else included in their databases.

In total, IDENT contains information on more than 250 million people, a Homeland Security spokesperson told Nextgov.

According to the solicitation, Homeland Security is in the process of replacing IDENT with the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System, or HART. The new system will include the same biometric recognition features as its predecessor, and potentially additional tools that could identify individuals based on DNA, palm prints, scars, physical markings and tattoos.

Whereas IDENT stores records in government-run data centers, the Homeland Security solicitation states “HART will reside in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) FedRAMP certified GovCloud.” Further, “biometric matching capabilities for fingerprint, iris, and facial matching will be integrated with HART in the Amazon Web Services GovCloud.” Amazon Web Services will also store HART’s biometric image data.

Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud US-East and US-West regions are data centers specifically built by the company to house some of the government’s most restricted information. AWS is no stranger to hosting sensitive government data, having already claimed the CIA, Defense Department, NASA and other federal agencies as customers in part because of perceived security improvements over government legacy systems.

When reached for comment, an AWS spokesperson referred inquiries to DHS.

In 2018, Northrop Grumman won a $95 million contract to develop the first two stages of the HART system, and its contract is set to expire in 2021. The department plans to use responses to the latest solicitation to inform its strategy for further developing the platform, the DHS spokesperson said.

Specifically, officials are asking vendors for ideas on how to build those multiple identification functions into the new system, while leaving room to add any new recognition “modalities” as they arise. Officials also want input on developing a handful of general reporting, analytics and search tools, as well as desktop and mobile web portals where Homeland Security employees can access the system.

Interested vendors must respond to the request by July 17.

In addition to the hundreds of millions of records stored locally in its IDENT system, Homeland Security can also access swaths of biometric information housed at other agencies.

According to the solicitation, the agency shares biometric data and technology with the Defense Department and the FBI, which can access some 640 million photos for its own facial recognition operations. Officials also said they can tap into the State Department’s Consular Consolidated Database—which contained nearly 500 million passport, visa and expat records as of 2016—as well as the databases of “several foreign governments as well as state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement agencies.”

The government’s use of biometric technology, particularly facial recognition, has come under sharp scrutiny in recent months. Members of the House Oversight Committee have expressed broad bipartisan support for reining in the use of biometrics at agencies like the FBI, and on Monday, a group of lawmakers raised concerns about CBP’s expanding facial recognition program.

Frank Konkel contributed to this article.

 

Total US Mail surveillance

June 20, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) is an imaging system employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that takes photographs of the exterior of every piece of mail that is processed in the United States.

The Postmaster General has stated that the system enables the USPS to retroactively track mail correspondence at the request of law enforcement, especially the FBI.

James J. Wedick, a former FBI agent, said of MICT, “It’s a treasure trove of information. Looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with — all kinds of useful information that gives investigators leads that they can then follow up on with a subpoena.” He also said the program “can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use, and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information. You just fill out a form.”[

 

Downing of US drone a ‘clear message’ to Washington — Iran’s IRGC commander

June 20, 2019

RT

The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards says the downing of a US drone over its territory was a “clear message” to Washington, proving Tehran will react strongly to any military aggression.

Just hours earlier, Iran claimed to have shot down a US RQ-4 spy drone over Hormozgan Province. This “was a clear message to America,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander-in-chief, Hossein Salami, told local media.

He added that any intrusion across the country’s borders would be seen as a “red line” and would be met with strong resistance.

Tehran said later that the drone had taken off from a US airbase in the region and had its tracking equipment turned off during the flight, contravening aviation laws.

A US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement confirmed that a Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV had been indeed shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missiles on Wednesday night. However, it said Tehran’s claim that the drone had invaded Iran’s airspace was “false” and that it was downed over international waters.

Meanwhile, Salami’s comments were reiterated by Iran’s Foreign Ministry which said that any “violations of Iran’s borders” would be responded to.

It is the latest incident adding to heightening tensions between the US and Iran in recent months. Earlier, Washington blamed Iran for attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

However, these claims somehow contradict a statement by the company operating one of the ill-fated tankers. The ‘Kokuka Courageous’ owner – one of the vessels hit in the assault – said its sailors had seen “flying objects” in the sky before they were attacked.

The incident comes amid a heavy build-up of US military might in the Gulf. On June 17, the Pentagon announced it was sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East Theater. Washington has also used the so-called threat of Iran to justify sending an aircraft carrier strike group, a Patriot air defense battery and nuclear-capable bomber aircraft to the region.

 

US joins four rogue countries seen as likely forces for bad, poll finds

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran and the US are also seen as less likely to use their influence for good than they were 10 years ago

June 19, 2019

by Patrick Wintour diplomatic editor

The Guardian

The United States has joined Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran in a rogue’s gallery of countries perceived as likely to use their influence for bad. All five countries are also seen as less likely to use their influence for good than they were 10 years ago.

The findings showing that Canada, Germany and the UN are seen as mostly likely to use their international influence for good. The findings are being published to accompany a major speech by the former British foreign secretary David Miliband who argues that international relations are now governed by a new age of impunity in which war crimes and attacks on humanitarian workers are typically left unpunished.

Miliband, currently president of the International Rescue Committee, will argue that a long retreat of liberal democracy has ushered in a new divide in which some states abide by the rules ushered in after the Second World War, and other states regard such international law as “for suckers”.

He will say “the image of President Putin and Crown Prince bin Salman exchanging a high five at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires last November epitomised the new order, with domestic opponents dead and foreign policy interests pursued outside international law”.

The poll was conducted amongst 17,000 adults around the world conducted by Ipsos Mori in 24 countries on behalf of Policy Institute at Kings College London.

It shows Iran as the country seen as most likely to use its influence for bad, 31% followed by Israel 24%, Russia 25%, Saudi Arabia 25% and the US 22%.

Globally, Canada (37%), the UN (35%) and Germany (32%) are seen as the countries most likely to be seen as forces for good.

The survey also shows Britain is the country most likely to see Russia as a force for bad with two in five (40%) saying Russia uses its influence mostly for bad, significantly higher than the global average of 25%.

Although US is seen by a high number as going backwards in the past 10 years, a balancing 17% say the US is more likely to use its influence for good now, higher than in Russia (13%), Israel (10%), Saudi Arabia (9%) and Iran (7%).

British respondents were among the most likely, with Sweden (50%), Hungary (46%) and South Africa (43%), to say a country’s human rights record should be an important factor in deciding relations with that country: 41% in Great Britain mention this, versus 30% globally.

Over (36%) of people around the world think their country should only trade with countries with a good human rights record, even if it hurts their economy – but 33% think their country should trade with any country if it helps their economy, regardless of that country’s record on human rights. Globally, half (53%) think their own country’s military should always put avoiding civilian casualties ahead of their national interest. Only 14% disagree.

Fifty-one percent say that countries should intervene to stop war crimes even if it infringes on sovereignty.

Miliband will say: “The poll shows that around the world, large numbers of people are looking for commitment to human rights and global engagement. However, it is striking that the US should be perceived to have descended to the level of Russia as a global spoiler.”

He will argue that the rise of nationalist politics creates a new divide: between those who believe that the laws and norms established after the Second World War are there to be observed and strengthened, and those who say “the law is for suckers”.

Britain, Miliband argues, is at a crossroads because of two factors: the division within the western alliance as the Trump administration attacks the multilateral system, and the consequences of Brexit.

“Britain needs a rules-based international order. It would be a tragedy if America decides it doesn’t. We cannot afford a world that is a network of national fortresses, especially at a time when Brexit is separating us from natural allies and rupturing our own political order.”

 

2019 is a very bad year for measles

It’s not just the US outbreaks. Measles is making a global comeback.

May 231, 2019

by Julia Belluz

VOX

Measles was eliminated in the US in 2000. And yet progress against the disease unraveled to a startling degree.

According to the latest measles numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials recorded 971 cases in the first five months of this year. That’s the largest number since 1992. It’s also a huge uptick compared to 2018, when 372 cases were reported.

Given that it’s only May, and the virus has already been confirmed in 26 states, we’re well on track to set an even more dramatic record this year.

So what’s driving the big increase in cases? The outbreaks here have been concentrated in just four states: New York, New Jersey, Washington, and California. And among those, the vast majority of cases (more than 600) has occurred in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City and the suburb of Rockland. There, a minority of people who are vaccine skeptics have been opting out of the shots on behalf of their children, driving vaccine rates down and creating the space for the highly contagious virus to spread.

“Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in a statement Thursday.

To really understand what’s going on with measles in the US, though, you have to take a step back and look at the global picture. All the major outbreaks here are linked to travelers who brought the virus back to the US from countries with ongoing outbreaks, including Ukraine, the Philippines, and Israel. It’s a reminder of how tightly dependent our health can be to that of people in even far-away countries — particularly when we don’t take advantage of tools that can prevent diseases from spreading, like vaccines.

A worldwide surge in measles

Over the past two years, measles cases have been edging up in several countries around the world, with a 300 percent rise in measles cases globally over the same period in 2018, according to the World Health Organization. Ukraine, Madagascar, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Yemen, and Brazil are among the countries most affected, according to WHO.

As of April 2019, Madagascar’s health officials recorded more than 69,000 measles cases and 1,200 related deaths in the largest-ever measles outbreak on the island nation. Ukraine has experienced 72,000 cases, and the Philippines 19,000 cases.

The reasons for outbreaks differ in each country — from vaccine refusal to problems with health care access or access to vaccines, to civil unrest and low awareness about the need to vaccinate. But what all these causes have in common: These factors are driving down the rate of vaccine coverage.

And in places that used to see very little measles previously, like the US, vaccine skepticism seems to be a common contributor, said Amanda Cohn, the CDC’s senior adviser for vaccines. “There’s vaccine hesitancy in a world where people don’t see measles anymore. We have to continue to remind people how serious measles is.”

The measles virus is indeed one of the most infectious diseases known to man. A person with measles can cough in a room and leave, and hours later, if you’re unvaccinated, you could catch the virus from the droplets in the air the infected person left behind. No other virus can do that.

The good news is that the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine is incredibly effective at stopping measles from spreading.

The CDC usually recommends that children get two doses: Immunity from the vaccine lasts for decades, but you should ask your health provider about booster shots if you’re an adult. (People born before 1957, when measles was widespread, are assumed to be immune since they probably suffered through an infection. Those born in the years 1957 to 1989 may not be fully immunized, since they likely got an older vaccine. And anyone who is unsure about their vaccine status can ask for the shot now or get a blood test to check their immunity.)

But nearly everybody in a community needs to be fully vaccinated to achieve what’s known as “herd immunity.” In order for any vaccine to be effective, you need to have a certain percentage of people in a population immunized. This prevents diseases from spreading through populations, and it protects even those who aren’t or can’t be vaccinated, like newborns and people with vaccine allergies. For measles, 90 to 95 percent of a population need to get immunized. That’s nearly everybody.

Overall, 91 percent of young children in the US got the MMR vaccine in 2016, according to the CDC’s latest data. That’s about enough for herd immunity. But hidden within the national statistics are geographic clusters within states where lots of people are unvaccinated. And it’s in these communities   from New York to Washington — where the virus has been taking off.

When travelers go unvaccinated to these hotspots and bring the virus back to under-vaccinated communities in the US, it’s not difficult for measles to begin spreading.

For a disease to be considered eliminated, all measles cases need to be linked back to an imported case from another country. CDC’s Cohn said that’s still the case with the measles outbreaks here.

“That being said,” she added, “the outbreak in New York City and New York state is concerning just by the length of time this continued transmission has occurred. If these cases continue for an extended period of time — it’s possible for us to not be able to link all the cases back to the imported case.” At that point, America’s great achievement of eliminating measles will be under threat.

 

Himalayan ice melting at ‘scary’ levels

Using old spy images, scientists have revealed that glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. The only way to avert a huge natural disaster, they warn, would be to cool the earth’s temperatures.

June 20, 2019

DW

Satellite images demonstrate that the Himalayan glaciers are melting at twice the speed they were before the turn of the century.

The Asian mountain range has been losing ice at a rate of about 1% a year since 2000, according to a study published Wednesday in Science Advances.

That equates to a decrease in size by more than a foot-and-a-half (50 centimeters) each year — double the rate of the previous 25 years.

The pictures, taken over a 40-year period using Cold War-era satellite observations across India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, reveal a threat to water supplies for large swathes of the Asian population.

Almost 1 billion people depend on melt-water to sustain their rivers.

The only way to mitigate the problem would be to cool the planet’s temperature, scientists concluded.

‘Scary’ melt rate

“This is the clearest picture yet of how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting over this time interval, and why,” said Joshua Maurer, lead author and glacier researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“The amount of ice lost is scary but what is much more scary is the doubling of the melt rate,” he added.

The revelations come in the midst of climate change talks in the German city of Bonn as thousands of delegates met to discuss ways of implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement. Nearly 200 nations signed the agreement but many are struggling to implement its demands, namely the ambition of fighting climate change via a sustainable low carbon future.

Climate researcher Stefan Rahmstorf told DW that some countries are doing more than others in combating emissions. “Great Britain has gone almost completely coal-free. Emissions have dropped to a level last seen in the 19th century,” he said.

According to Rahmstorf, the full costs of the damage done to the climate need to be reflected in product prices. He added: “In most places around the world there is no carbon price so it is basically free to pollute the atmosphere with CO2.”

Alarming consequences

Joseph Shea, a glacial geographer at the University of Northern British Columbia, said the research exposed the real extent of the problem that even glaciers in the world’s highest mountains were vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

Shea was concerned about the repercussions for the Asian people. “In the long term, this will lead to changes in the timing and magnitude of stream-flow in a heavily populated region,” he said.

NASA climate scientist Josh Willis said that the research reinforces what analysts already feared.

“As a scientist it’s nice to hear that we’re right, but then again as a civilian it’s sometimes a little scary to hear that we’re right,” he said.

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Michale Bachman

Michele Bachmann (née Amble, born 1956) is a psychotic Swiss former Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District who enjoyed a brief tenure as the Religious Right’s pin-up girl following the implosions of Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell.

She ran for President in 2012 On August 13th, she won the Ames Straw Poll, narrowly beating Ron Paul and showcasing her strength in the first caucus state. For a while, some Americans thought that she could beat Mitt Romney to the Republican nomination. She dropped out after a dismal showing in the Iowa caucus. Her unsuccessful candidacy may have done her even less of a favor by dropping a Congressional investigation concerning campaign financing shenanigans in her lap in early 2013

Bachmann is a dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist who frequently claims that she’s acting on direct orders from God himself. She got her law degree from a tiny Christian university that specializes in teaching “the law from a biblical worldview” and would like its students to become “change agents” for bringing the law in line with Christian morality. She worked as a research assistant for notable dominionist John Eidsmoe and helped him produce a book that argued for turning the United States into a theocracy

Not to be outdone, Bachmann recently got in on the Evil Mooslim Invad3rs sweepstakes when she attacked State Department official Huma Abedin for supposedly having connections to the Muslim Brotherhood despite the rather obvious fact that Bachmann could only name family members who weren’t Abedin herself as having those tenuous “connections”. An indication of how goofy Bachmann’s attack came off is indicated by the fact that Congressional Republicans like John McCain and John Boehner came to the defense of Abedin Her campaign manager Ed Rollins, who went to work for a pro-Trump SuperPAC, quit also over the matter. Fellow loons like Frank Gaffney and Jerry Boykin immediately jumped onto the sekrit mooslim conspiracy bandwagon.

Diagnosis: A rabid nut, voice now only faintly heard. A poster girl for euthanasia

Bryan Leonard

Bryan Leonard is one of the alleged martyrs featured in the creationist movements dishonest “academic freedom” campaigns, people having been the victim of what Intelligent Design creationists would describe as oppression by the Darwinist establishment (i.e. actual scientists with actual expertise and a commitment to science). A more comprehensive description of the so-called Bryan Leonard affair can be found here. We’ll just provide a brief recap:

Leonard was (or perhaps is) a high school biology teacher at Hilliard Davidson High School in a suburb of Columbus (yes, he was teaching the controversy and promoting creationism to the high-school kids; surprised?), and – a decade ago – an appointee to the Ohio State BOE’s model curriculum-writing committee, where he authored the creationist-friendly “Critical Analysis” model lesson plan adopted by the Ohio State Board of Education in 2004. Leonard also testified for the pseudoscience side at the Kansas Creationist Kangaroo Court hearings (excerpts from his testimony here). Leonard himself appears to be a young-earth creationist.

Now, by 2005 Leonard was also a doctoral candidate in science education at Ohio State University, doing dissertation research on the academic merits of an ID-based “critical analysis” approach to teaching evolution in public schools. Scheduled to defend on June 6, the defense was suddenly postponed to the shock and horror of conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientists everywhere. And of course, in real life the postponement was due to the questionable tactics and strategy of the creationists, in particular the composition of Leonard’s committee. You see, the OSU requires that the committee must reflect the expertise needed for the dissertation and must have at least three members: two from the science education program area and one from outside the science education program area. Leonard’s final dissertation committee did not meet those requirements – in particular, it contained no member from the science education program area – and one suspects this was because his advisor, Paul Post, realized that it would not pass if they included, you know, actual experts on biology on the committee. Instead, the committee included, in addition to an assistant professor in French & Italian, Glen R. Needham of the Department of Entomology and Robert DiSilvestro of the Department of Human Nutrition, both of whom have track-records as champions of creationism and pseudoscience – both are signatories to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, for instance, and DiSilvestro, surely coincidentally, also testified for the anti-science side at the Kansas evolution hearings. (He was also at that time contact person for the Ohio Intelligent Design Movement’s 52 Ohio Scientists Call for Academic Freedom on Darwin’s Theory petition; and Needham was a signatory). Leonard’s advisor Paul Post has no relevant qualifications to comment on evolution either.

So, when members of the faculty of the OSU brought these and other anomalies to the attention of appropriate administrators in the Graduate School, the assistant professor of French & Italian asked to be relieved and was replaced by the Dean of the College of Biological Sciences who was an evolutionary biologist. At that time, the defense was suddenly postponed, apparently at the request of Leonard’s advisor; it was never rescheduled. And note: It was Leonard’s advisor who asked for the postponement, after it became clear that he wouldn’t be allowed to violate the guidelines in his attempt to fix the jury in Leonard’s favor (which rather strongly suggests that the creationists on the committee had little confidence in the actual merits of Leonard’s pro-creationist thesis). The pattern of behavior from the Intelligent Design community is rather striking – even if Leonard’s thesis were perfectly OK, the attempt of the Intelligent Design community to subvert the process is telling, isn’t it? Being caught in the act, the Intelligent Design community responded by claiming “violation of academic freedom”, of course. Indeed, a decade later the case remains one of their go-to examples of how Christians are oppressed in academia.

Diagnosis: We haven’t heard much from Leonard since 2005, but the Bryan Leonard case is occasionally revived by pseudoscientists who aren’t that concerned with what actually happened. Now, one can reasonably argue that Leonard was, indeed, a victim in that particular case – a victim of the shenanigans of established creationists, of course – but his activities on the Ohio State BOE’s model curriculum-writing committee and role in the Kansas Kangaroo court hearings still qualify him for an entry in our Encyclopedia.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

June 20, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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.

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 publication.

 

Conversation No. 113

Date: Wednesday November 26, 1997

Commenced: 1:02 PM CST

Concluded: 1:38 PM CST

GD: Hello, Robert. Bought your tree yet?

RTC: Good day to you, Gregory. A bit early.

GD: Perhaps. Those plastic trees are so much better than the real ones. Why murder a perfectly innocent tree just to encourage reckless spending in the shops? Do trees, which are part of the great system, come into our homes, cut our children off at the feet and stick them up in the woods, covered with squirrel shit?

RTC: Now, Gregory, don’t mar the joys of the season. Trees are traditional, after all.

GD: Well, so were burning witches at the stake but that finally died away. After that, our southern friends just burnt blacks up in the trees for entertainment.

GGRT: Gregory, where is your Christmas spirit?

GD: In my liquor cabinet, that’s where. You know, Robert, I like fine art and really decent music. I love classical music and I have hundreds of recordings. Most of them are Baroque and of those, the majority are religious in nature. I have masses, motets, requiems, te Deums and so on. I greatly enjoy the music but I am not a fan of the Gospels, most of which is pure propaganda, written decades after the fact by people who could never have been period witnesses to any ministry that Jesus might have promulgated. The music stands on its own feet, not on the strength, or weakness, of dogma. And when I am in Florence, I love to walk through the galleries of the Uffizi and admire the grand art. Most of it is religious in nature because in those days, artists were not allowed to portray the nude human figure except in a religious connotation. Aside, it’s downright funny, looking at the Shroud of Turin fake because that particular Jesus has a nice scarf wrapped around his genitals.

RTC: Yes, well, it kept people happy for a long time, Gregory.

GD: Yes and then we had the French Revolution, didn’t we? Yes, I suppose I ought to get a tree, which is pagan in origin by the way, and hang up wax figures on it of my enemies, with knitting needles thrust up their fundaments.

RTC: My, I feel sorry for the poor tree with all that weight on it.

GD: Now, Robert, not everyone hates me. I mean you don’t hate me, do you?

RTC: No, I don’t but I know quite a few people who wish you would take a long walk on a short pier.

GD: Dare I guess the names, Robert?

RTC: Do we have the time?

GD: ‘Had we but world enough, and time…’ Just a quote remembered dimly from my wonderfully rich days spent in my local high school. Yes, one of the bright spots in my life, Robert.

RTC: I take it you had problems there with them.

GD: No, Robert, they had problems there with me. Robert, you know, I am a peaceful person by nature. I am reflective. I love animals, but of course not sheep in the carnal sense, and good music, and better wine and my own cooking. I always minded my business as a child and was very courteous and civilized to my elders and even to most of my peers. Ah, but that was when I was a child. As I grew older and realized what vileness covered the earth, I grew increasingly disenchanted. But I never instigated anything against anyone, ever. But I never permitted anyone to attack or, worse, dishonor me, Robert. Never. And I had trouble in school because I did not socialize and I had a really vicious, but educated, tongue. If I was mocked, my retorts drove people to weeping and distraction. I played no favorites, Robert. I was democratic there. Teachers, parents, siblings, peers, whatever. They started it and I finished it. And if they were too big and too strong to attack directly, there was always the indirect attack. They might never know that it was I who ruined some pathetic aspect of their sheep-like lives but I always knew and I liked to treasure such moments. Our friend Heini Müller found no fault with this and in fact used to tell me I was one of the most entertaining scoundrels he ever met. And Heini was quite decent too, head of the Gestapo as he had been, but even he was not as creative as I was and in interrogations issues, I could beat him hands down and Heini was very, very good.

RTC: That he was. The few times I dealt personally with him I was very favorably impressed with not only his abilities, his forensic abilities, but also his character.

GD: I don’t think I am going to ask you about my character, Robert.

RTC: No, don’t worry about that, Gregory. You have plenty of character but our friend Heini was right. You are very medieval in your approach to the problems of life. You know, that’s why you could never have really worked for us. I mean if we told you to blow someone up, you would cheerfully do it if you agreed with our motives but if you didn’t, you would balk. No, we can’t have that. You have distinct abilities but no one but yourself can do anything with them, can they?

GD: Of course not. On the other hand, if I like you, I will certainly blow things up on your behalf. Or in your case, build a death ray for you to use on your Swiss neighbors. Take the meaning I am sure.

RTC: I have not complained, have I?

GD: I would hope not. I rarely have blown anything up, Robert but there was one exception. It was quite awful if you stopped to think about it but no one ever did.

RTC: Have I heard this one?

GD: No. I don’t talk about it.

RTC: Anyone killed or maimed for life?

GD: No, but there was some damage done. Mostly to property and, as King Ronald the First said, there was collateral damage.

RTC: Yes, Reagan’s pet phrase when one of our assaults on an unfriendly person was successful. What was your collateral damage?

GD: Yes, we all have our memories, Robert, thoughts to warm us on cold winter nights like a fat woman in the sack. Lots of warm blubber to comfort you. Nothing else to comfort me, believe me.

RTC: (Laughter) What do you have against fat people?

GD: Fortunately, nothing attached to my body, Robert.

RTC: Your explosive venture?

GD: Just trying to set me up, Robert? Tape recorder whirring? No, not you. That’s why I open my heart to you. Explosives? In my senior year of high school, I was considered quite a negative person by almost everyone. I had my little games, like the soap in the stock pot story, but no one ever suspected me because, believe it or not, I was a sweet-faced child who looked ten years younger than I was and who was very, very considerate and polite to people. At least generally. Anyway, some of the teachers, who had gotten very tired of my comments directed to them in class decided that while I had earned my diploma, I ought not to be given it in public. Why? Because of my satires and sallies. They would poke at me in class with what they pathetically thought was sarcasm and I would riposte with a thrust into their livers. No, they despised me so while I could get my diploma, they did not want me to get it at a graduation ceremony.

RTC: Very nasty, Gregory. Are you sure you hadn’t committed some atrocity unmentioned here?

GD: No. I am a private assassin, not a public one. I never got caught and was never suspected. On the other hand, I can cheerfully report that I was often accused of things I had never done and when I was discovered to be totally innocent of the charges, never apologized to. I used to get even for such things.

RTC: And the graduation? You spoke of explosives. Did you blow up the school?

GD: No, just a part of it. There was a patio off of the main corridor of the school. It was called the Honor Court and could only be entered by janitors and honor students. The rest of us were forbidden to go into it. It was a Spanish-style patio with four walls but open to the sky. There were bamboo plants around the place and a really ugly fountain in the center. A ceramic cherub holding a dolphin that shot a steam of water up out of his mouth. The anus would have been much more interesting an exit but they chose the mouth. Anyway, this ugly statue that would only excite a myopic pedophile had a basin below it, a basin filled with ugly, piebald carp which the honor students were permitted to feed. And on the surrounding walls of it were small bronze plates with the year of a graduating class on it. ‘37’ or ‘’42’ and so on. A solemn ceremony year graduating year as the class valedictorian and others of the sainthood of the perfect of God entered the patio and the plate for that year was solemnly tapped into place with the handle of an even more sacred trowel, one that had been used to tamp for twenty years. I think they kept it locked in a safe in the main office until it was needed. Anyway, one of the walls of this sacred grove was blank, another had the glass windows of the chemistry laboratory in it and yet another one had glass windows looking onto the corridor. The main corridors through which passed hundreds of students, all of whom were forbidden to enter the sacred grove. When I was told I could get my diploma but was not wanted at the graduation ceremonies because I was a very negative person and reflected badly on everybody except the janitors, I got rather angry. Now I had no use for most of the students and certainly none of the teachers but I felt that I had as much right to walk up the aisle and get my diploma as anyone else. I really did and in this case, my family was upset with the school, not with me. It didn’t do any good so I was told that my father would take me out to a very nice French restaurant in lieu of my attending graduation ceremonies. Dishonor, Robert, dishonor. That I never tolerated so I prepared a nice surprise. On the other side of that corridor was the outside auditorium where the graduation ceremonies would take place. I went to an establishment that, in those days things were much freer than they are today, that sold dynamite and I bought a case of 75% sticks, a box of caps, a crimper and the longest roll of 5 seconds per inch fuse I could get. I took the stuff home and made the dynamite into a sort of a long shawl by tying the sticks together at the tops and bottoms. Each stick is formatted to take an explosive cap so I rigged the whole thing up, wrapped it in a blanket and smuggled it into the school on the eve of graduation. It was safe enough because all the janitors and teachers were out in the rapidly-filling auditorium so I had no trouble wrapping the fat punk with a long blanket of destruction. I shoved the fused cap into one of the sticks and lit the other end. No one saw me come and no one saw me go. And I was home about two minutes or so, talking with my family who were getting ready to take me out to my consolation dinner, when we all heard a massive explosion. It rattled the windows but my father, who knew everything, assured it that it was a sonic boom. Of course he was wrong but who was I to correct him? Not I, certainly. Anyway, we left for the restaurant and we had to pass near the school. My, my, roads blocked off, police cars, fire trucks with lights blazing and so on. A detour and curiosity on my father’s part. I would loved to have enlightened him but there are times, Robert, times when silence is golden. We had a lovely consolation dinner and on the way back, we had to pass down the highway past the school, except we couldn’t. It seems the buildings were on fire so we went home and I took a nice shower and put some Bach on the record player.

RTC: Anyone killed?

GD: No, no one killed but a great deal of damage. Some of my classmates who were present called me the next morning and, being a curious person, I drove over to the school. Of course a janitor told me the main hall was a mess and I couldn’t go down it but I convinced him I had a family Bible in my locker and I needed to get it. I’m a pretty good con man and he let me through and off I went. Merciful Jesus, Robert, what a mess I saw that day. The high school orchestra had been playing, endlessly and always out of tune, Elgar’s Pimp and Circumcision march while respectful students trekked up the aisles past adoring parents to get their diplomas. My, and just then, there was a great flash and a roar somewhere off to the left followed by the rapid descent of many Spanish roof tiles into the outdoor auditorium. Window glass burst out upon them and there was a rain of tile upon their heads. Panic. Screaming parents running around. Toppled metal chairs. Fleeing school officials,and  the local Methodist minister who was blessing people, the school choir and orchestra. By the way, high school orchestras ought to be banned on principle. They are a standing affront to music lovers. So Pompeii with Vesuvius erupting is what it was. I was establishing my alibi at the time and enjoying the idea of good French food when the disaster came upon them but from the havoc and wreckage I was able to observe, coupled with the hysterical and disjointed reports of my peers, I pieced the whole thing together. Tipped over metal chairs, abandoned mortar boards, sheet music fluttering in the wind, blood stains, shattered tiles, and on the stage, a tipped-over lectern, the school flag hanging by one corner, more scattered chairs and, I have always remembered this poignant touch, a base viola lying abandoned where its terrified wielder had abandoned it. Oh, the sacred patio? Oh my, what a shambles. The statue was blasted into dust and all that remained was a corroded copper pipe squirting water into an empty basin that had been breached almost totally. Sacred, dated sections were scattered all over the patio along with the ruptured remains of the carp, bamboo, roof tiles and a broken bench once occupied by the elite. The fires had been caused when the wall of the chemistry lab had blown in, knocking all the chemicals onto the floor. Some combination of their contents had started a raging fire that had burnt up into the attic and roared through it like crap through a goose. My, my, what a finale to my distress and grief- laden school years. No one was seriously injured but there were plenty of scalp cuts that tended to bleed a bit, trampled musical instruments and, of course, major damage to the school in general and the sacred precincts of the elite in specific. Dead carp, smashed altar and ruined bushes all laid out for me to view with awe and great joy.  Now there is my explosive adventure, Robert. Have you anything to say?

RTC: Lucky no one was killed.

GD: That’s a matter of opinion, Robert. I can quickly think of at least two or three dozen people I could have wished visiting the sacred carp for the last time and wondering what all those little road flares were doing strapped around the fat-assed cupid. Just before the cap went off. I wasn’t planning on such an occurrence but sometimes life gives you little bonuses.

RTC: (Laughter) And all of this so soon before Christmas, Gregory. And you got away with it, I assume?

GD: I did indeed. One could say that I went out with a bang. A very large one, Robert, very large. Another precious memory to treasure in moments of distress and grief. Haven’t you any such moments?

RTC: No, thank God.

GD: Just revolutions, assassinations and exploding airliners instead. Well, whatever pleases you, Robert.

 

(Concluded 1:38 PM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Turning Blood Into Gold

by Christian Jürs

The argument is made that since it is “clearly evident” that six million European Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis under Hitler, the fact that nowhere in the through and extensive files of the Third Reich can be found any specific reference to such acts, the answer to this absence is also clearly evident; there are special and secret lists made of Jews who were not entered onto the rolls of the camps but who were immediately executed.

However, if there are no existing Third Reich documents proving the mass murders, neither are there any of the secret lists to be found.

The “secret list” theory is one of desperation, not a clever invention.

When the Glücks files emerged in Moscow, the archivists at the Central Archives stated that Jewish groups were well aware of these documents and had repeatedly insisted that the Russians not release them to “outsiders” who were “not able to properly understand them.”

What obviously was meant is that these extensive, and complete, files clearly did not support the murder of six millions of European Jews and their release would merely complicate the fundraising efforts of the proponents of the planned extermination theories.

As an historical footnote to this commentary, the following officially recorded conversation of Hitler’s is set forth. The first part of it has been widely quoted in a number of books but the second part, for obvious reasons, has not.

On Saturday, October 25, 1941, Hitler received Count Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister at his East Prussian military headquarters for a conference. Present were a number of senior government officials. Following the conference, Hitler held a small, private dinner for several of these personages. One of them was Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS and the other was (SS-Obergruppenführer) Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Main State Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt-RSHA) which controlled the Gestapo and the SD. During the course of the dinner, Hitler said:

“From the rostrum of the Reichstag I prophesized to Jewry that, in the event of war’s proving inevitable, the Jew would disappear from Europe. That race of criminals has on its conscience the two million dead of the First World War, and now already hundreds of thousands more.”

At this point, historians generally comment on Hitler’s obvious intention to slaughter all the Jews he could lay his hands on. The balance of the conversation conveys a rather different meaning.

“Let nobody tell me that all the same we can’t park them in the marshy parts of Russia! Who’s worrying about our troops? It’s not a bad idea, by the way, that public rumor attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews. Terror is a salutary thing.”1

The question of the number of persons who died in Auschwitz has been addressed in a publication entitled Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp.2 A chapter by Franciszek Piper entitled “The Number of Victims” addresses the issues discussed here and sections of it deserve to be quoted and enlarged upon.

“In erasing traces of the crimes perpetrated in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazis destroyed documents that could serve as the basis for determining how many people died there. When the Soviet soldiers liberated the camp in January 1945, they found documents that confirmed only 100,000 deaths. Yet surviving prisoners maintained that millions had perished at Auchwitz.Faced with this disparity, officials of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, the organization entrusted with investigating the crimes committed at Auschwitz, conducted an in-depth study. Based on witness testimonies regarding the capacity of the camp and the length of time that its machinery for mass murder was operative, (emphasis added) the commission concluded that no fewer than four million (emphasis added) persons were put to death at the camp…Four million…is the number recorded in Polish literature, as well as in publications of other countries.”

In The Final Solution, one of the first books to deal with the Holocaust, published in 1953, the figure of four million was radically reevaluated. English art historian Gerald Reitlinger estimated the number of victims at Auschwitz to be roughly 800,000 to 900,000, (emphasis added) based on an analysis of the losses of Jews reported by specific countries…

The destruction by the Nazis of most Auschwitz records is the most important cause of divergent estimates…researchers had to rely on discrepant and imprecise data from testimonies and depositions of witnesses, former prisoners and Nazi functionaries and on court decisions and fragmentary and incomplete records of camp registries, archives, (sic) and other institutions. (Emphasis added).”

The question of the destruction of Auschwitz records has been raised over the years to support the claims that large numbers of people died in the camp but were not recorded. If the SS camp administration did destroy or remove official records from Auschwitz before the complex was overrun by the Soviets in early 1945, they did not and could not touch the records that had been sent to the headquarters of the camp system outside of Berlin, or any other copies sent to different agencies. According to the author of the article, the Soviets did find records indicating 100,000 deaths.

Reliance on anything originating from Stalin’s agents is totally unrealistic. The Soviets had no problem continuously rewriting their own history and obviously would have had no problem rewriting the history of other nations. The concurrence of the Poles in Soviet findings has no validity whatsoever. Poland was under complete control of the Soviets at the time of their reports and any official commission would do precisely as it was told by its masters.It was only after the implosion of the Soviet Empire that their state archives became available to outside researchers, at least on a limited basis. As has been noted before, it was the standard policy of the Soviet government to denigrate and attack the government of West Germany, not support it. The microfilms released by the Russian archives in the early 1990s were copies of documents found at the SS camp headquarters in 1945 and had these supported the theory of extensive extermination programs, they certainly would have been released years before.

There is another argument used to explain the lack of documentation supporting the thesis of a million or more dead at Auschwitz. This argument claims that endless transports of Jews were delivered to the camp, not recorded anywhere and immediately executed. This, it is claimed, explains why there is such a disparity between official German figures and those proposed by others.

This argument has some fleeting validity but the question arises that if these transports were unrecorded in German records, how could anyone use them as references other than by supposition and speculation? It is very difficult to have one’s cake and eat it too.

The question of transport also needs to be addressed. When the German Reichsbahn scheduled rail transportation to Auschwitz, it was listed officially as special trains (Sonderzug) which indicated that the transports were privately contracted…in this case by the SS. If these transports were of an official, State nature, they would be listed as regular traffic, paid for by the government. While in the beginning of the forced Jewish emigration prior to the war, the Jewish community in Germany and overseas was compelled to pay for the emigration out of their own pockets, such accommodations were not operational during the war except in rare cases. It should also be noted that transport from Auschwitz taking manufactured products to various points in Europe were also listed as Special Trains. Auschwitz was part of the SS economic empire and as such, was run by the SS and not the German government. The Armed SS (Waffen-SS) was not an official part of the Wehrmacht and its operating expenses, as were the operating expenses for the entire SS, had to be paid for by the SS itself.

This in itself would cast considerable doubt on the thesis that a vast extermination program had been ordered by Hitler officially as State policy. When the SS ran out of operating capital, the transports stopped running.

The use of prisoner labor was certainly addressed in the numerous trials held after the war.

Another thesis often expressed is that the victims at Auschwitz were nearly all Jewish. Reports from the camp break down the exact number of inmates by groups, to include Jews. At Auschwitz, by far the largest group were those held in protective custody or as political prisoners.

With former Soviet archival material now available, a greater balance should be much easier to obtain. It was only their stubborn refusal to release these records that allowed inflated figures, supported An article in the New York ‘Times’ of March 3, 1991 quotes the Soviet sources with considerable accuracy. Forty-six camps are covered with a total death toll of more than 400,000. Auschwitz records contain approximately 70,000 death certificates and in addition the death totals of 130,000 among the forced laborers in all camps and 200,000 additional names of various classes of prisoners in all camps to include Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Gross Rosen. When queried about this article and the numbers reflected in it, Red Cross officials in Washington, DC agreed that they were indeed the figures contained in the microfilms they had received from Soviet sources but that “special secret lists” existed that boosted the death toll far higher. Further questioning elicited that no one had seen these “secret lists” but that they must certainly exist and that quoting from the official records was “misleading” and should not be done.

The records of the concentration camp system discovered by the Soviets at the system headquarters outside of Berlin in only with anecdotal and unsupported material, to flourish and, like ivy, expand and cover every aspect of the building beneath.

This archival material has, in fact, been available on microfilm since 1989 but is rarely discussed.

Official records up to and including 1945 are complete. From a chronological point of view, there are no gaps. Many of the records found by the Soviets at Auschwitz are not complete but the headquarters files contain copies of all the Auschwitz records

The arrest, deportation and forced labor of a large number of people, including Jews, was repugnant and on a parallel with the British concentration camps (from whence the name came) instituted during the Boer War in which over 20,000 Boer women and children died in conditions of disease, filth and squalor, and is not possible to ignore or justify.3

Aside from the records of the camp headquarters siezed by the Soviets in 1945 from Oranienburg, another source exists that deals with the monthly population reports made by the individual camps to headquarters. These consisted of radio reports sent in to Oranienburg on a monthly basis. From early 1942 through February of 1943, British intelligence was monitoring these reports and in their official history of the British intelligence system, stated that,

“The returns from Auschwitz, the largest of the camps with 20,000 prisoners, mentioned illness as the main cause of death, but included references to shootings and hangings. There were no references in the decrypts to gassing.” (emphasis added) 4

Given inaccurate demographics about the post-war Jewish population, there is still a considerable gap in the number of Jews, mostly Polish Jews, who were living in Poland in 1939 and unaccounted for in 1945. The assumption was made, and is still being made, that these differences were clearly explained by the extermination theory.

The former Soviet Union maintained a rigid control over its files until its collapse, and it has only been since this point in time that a much clearer picture of events has become evident.

In 1995, Russian author Arkady Vaksberg, a Jewish writer, attorney, and investigative journalist, published a book entitled ‘Stalin Against The Jews’, the basic theme of which is the persecution of Soviet Jews by Stalin after he had used them against his enemies. Vaksberg goes into some detail about the Polish Jews who, in September of 1939, fled the German advance into Poland and went into the Soviet Union. Vaksberg states that these Polish Jews were seized by Stalin’s agencies and put into prison camps.The author states that exact figures of these prisoners are not presently available but speaks of “hundreds of thousands.” He also mentions that Soviet border police shot down many escaping Jews before they crossed the border into Communist territory. Survival in Soviet Gulags was very poor; of the 80,000 German prisoners of war captured at Stalingrad, only 6,000 were alive in 1955 to return to Germany. How many of these hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews survived the war is not known, but perhaps former Soviet archives hold the final answer to this issue, an issue that has persisted for half a century.5

After the breakup of the Yugoslav state in the 1990s, the “ethnic cleansing” by the winsome Serbs of anyone they disliked, including Catholics and Jews, was greeted with a chorus of dismay from other nations…but nothing more.

 

1“Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1945,” New York, 1953, p 72, Protocol 52.

2 “Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp,” ed. Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, 1994, Indiana University Press. pps 61 et seq.

3 Amery, vol.5, 252, 253, 601; vol. 6, 24-25

4 “British Intelligence in the Second World War,” Hinsley et al, London, 1980, vol. 11, p 673.

5 “Stalin Against the Jews,” Vaksberg, New York, 1995, pp 103-107.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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