TBR News June 5, 2016

Jun 05 2016

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. June 5, 2016:” “One of the most important social issue today in the United States is the growing number of unemployed. Because of the national economic drop caused by the manipulated housing and mortgage issues, followed by the off-shoring of many major American production companies which laid off hundreds of thousands, the actual unemployment numbers have risen to the point where no one is permitted to discuss them. To this problem is added the predatory policies of for-profit schools who load their students up with ever-increasing student loans. And thanks to Bill Clinton, these loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This means that when hundreds of thousand of graduates leave college or university, they are told constantly by their schools that they will immediately be hired at large salaries. This does not happen and the schools are well aware of it. The loans, however, must be repaid and if they are not, predatory collection agencies are turned loose on the victims of scholastic greed. The government will not address this because they will not interfere in policies that make money for their supporters. And the situation only grows worse as many more thousands of graduating students join the ranks of the unemployed.”
The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.
This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

Wednesday, 12 July 1950

The (North, ed.) Koreans are pushing everything before them as they drive towards the south. It now looks as if the heavily outnumbered Americans will be shoved right off the Korean Peninsula. Things are not good but Truman will certainly strike back and I am certain American material strength will prevail in the end. The major question here, of course, is what will China do? If the U.S. is driven out of Korea, probably nothing. If the U.S. counterattacks, one does not know.

I have access to most of the very secret CIA position papers on this subject and have been looking over many of them. I am amazed to note that not a single position paper prepared by the CIA ever hinted at a North Korean attack! We are dealing with a gang of pseudo-intellectual morons! Not a single report! My God, and these imbeciles think they can run the foreign policy of this country. Now, they are rushing to find people who have not made such serious errors to come up with new reports that indicate China will attack us next! They hope by this to reestablish their credit here and get in on the rearmament frenzy.

Lunch at the club today with my good friend Senhor Carvalho from Lisbon.

A very frank, and to me at least, a very profitable meeting. The Bank is doing very, very well indeed!

As a Director, my assets in it are now upwards of fifty million dollars! The question now is one of finance vis a vis the war in Korea. We were joined by one of the few practical members of the CIA, Samuel Cummings. One of the few Englishmen I can tolerate, Cummings is deeply engaged in the weapons business and we discussed certain rearming problems for the now-fleeing South Korean constabulary.

Cummings has been scouting out sources of weapons in Europe and I was able to point out some caches in Poland for him. Now he is talking about whether or not the CIA ought to give weapons to Israel. Angleton, and others, are putting this forward here. The Czech Zionists in fresh power there have been sending all their weapons to the new state including German tanks and a lot of our weapons that they captured at the end of the war. How ironic that the Zionists now have a large supply of Third Reich guns which they use to slaughter Arabs!

After Cummings left, my fellow director and myself went to the library where we had a most pleasant discussion about the state of the Bank.

Indeed, when I was in Lisbon in October 1942, it was merely by chance that I encountered Carvalho at our Embassy. I struck up a conversation with him. He needed a small favor from us and since it cost me nothing, I gave it to him. And from there, grew the Bank!

A very private concern, very. Not even identified as a bank anywhere but in the vaults. For example, who knows what lies behind the steel door of 145 rue de Lafayette in Paris? What mysteries does it hide? And our little establishment is the same way, and in a literal sense, the same thing as the Lafayette address. All of it literally and symbolically underground. It was such a careful plan and it actually worked out.

All of the captured gold we could get was funneled into Portugal through Credit Suisse throughout the war. Much of the gold captured in Holland, Belgium, Denmark and France went to the Reichsbank but I saw to it that certain amounts were sidetracked to Switzerland and from there, shipped across occupied France, through Spain to Portugal. We had no trouble in France because we controlled it but we did have to make certain concessions to Franco, hence a branch of the Bank in Madrid. Nevertheless, it went off very well indeed.

In addition to various bank holdings in Europe, we also managed to lay our hands on all manner of Jewish deposits both via the French, American and British banks. American Express, the House of Morgan, Guarantee Trust, Chase, Barclay’s, the Westminister Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada all surrendered their assets belonging to Jewish sources to the French, and they in turn, kept some of it and we got the rest.

No one, of course, was going to stand in the way of the Gestapo and like Louis XIV, the Gestapo was myself. And we took no paper at all, only gold.

The one thing that bothers me, and the other Directors, is that we were unable to lay hands on Globocnik’s loot because most of that was in gold. Some of it was found at the end of the war but the rest of it is still down in Austria and it is galling that we can’t get at it. There also is the gold that went down on the HMS Edinburgh but that is so deep and the water so cold that getting it up would be impossible, at least at this time.

Now, we have our hands on a very large amount of very safe capital located in two very safe places. Portugal and Spain are as secure as you can get these days. Salazar shows no sign of weakening and Franco is very firmly in power in Spain.

Much of the money stolen by Roosevelt from the Jews in this country in 1941 was hidden in the Canadian bank, and this was later transferred to a bank in England and from there to Switzerland. It was quite easy to lay hands on most of this when it was in Bern and now our assets are in excess of $500 million and still growing! As one of the three directors with no stockholders and no government supervision…and most important, no books to be poked through by greedy investigators, I am gloriously rich and I and the others are at liberty to invest where and when we wish.

The talk about this subject today was concerned with the Korean business. If it stops very soon, there will be no reason to invest in American weaponry and allied products, but if it goes on for any length of time I am certain that Truman will make a serious issue out of it and there will be heavy military involvement. Given the sad state of American armaments, we could well invest in the right firms. With Cummings’ connections as well as my own, we can either buy up small but important firms outright or at the least, invest in them. It is a matter of timing, after all.

My guest will come to dinner tonight and Bunny and I will entertain him until he returns home next week. She is actually very competent in this field and I am now turning over in my mind where our relationship is headed. If it appears to be a solid, progressive one, I may well have to tell her certain background facts about myself before one of the wives tells her something to make her suspicious.

The fact that I have been sleeping with a number of the prettier ones is not to be told to Bunny directly but I will hint that I was entertaining myself before I met her, but now,

Small lies but women thrive on them!

McCarthy spoke with me yesterday by phone at the office, which I do not like, and informed me that he suspects that the State Department vacuumed their files of any references to perversion and espionage in 1946! Seeing that the Roosevelt permissive days were gone they determined to protect as many of their black sheep as they could. The FBI was involved in this according to M., so I will talk to Hoover about this as soon as I can. I told M. not to call me directly again and will punish him if he does so.
I find it amusing to read ponderous books by sanctified academics discussing the real reasons behind the Second World War. Oh my yes, such gas is escaping. As we used to say, “Breathe deep children, there’s vitamins in the air” just after someone farted.
Of course they blame Hitler for everything and claim he was crazy. Roosevelt and Churchill are elevated to Olympus where they can piss on everyone below, and Stalin, once part of the Unholy Trinity, is now the Fallen Angel.

Robert told me an American joke once. “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

In Germany, a learned professor was an important and respected member of society, but in America the professors are neither learned nor respected. I talked to a prominent one at the club a few weeks ago; a highly respected historical writer who is as stupid as a he-goat and babbles on about his self-importance endlessly. This educated idiot is supposed to be an expert on Germany, especially the Germany of the Third Reich. The subject turned to the Gestapo and I asked him, with great glee, who was the head of this agency?
He looked at me with the glazed eye of a dead herring and said with great disdain, “Why Heinrich Himmler, of course! Didn’t you know that?” “Oh, I had heard it was someone named Müller.” “Nonsense, it was Himmler. I never heard of this Müller.” “Are you certain?” “My God, did you read my last book? Of course it was Himmler. Of course Heydrich helped him…”

And so on.

If he knew to whom he was talking, he would have shit in his pants, and in the old days I would have stuck him in the cells to instruct him in the realities of life. As it is, I will pull his leg in the future, or much worse, because he is planning to work for the CIA! Just the sort of sponge-head who would do so well there.

If anyone ever thought about it, they would realize that the war had its roots not in nationalism, anti-Semitism, fascism or whatever convenient shibboleth they lean on but in money! It’s always money, economics or what you will, that leads men to war. Clausewitz said that war was an extension of political endeavor but I think the financial aspect is far more important, though rarely mentioned by anyone.

France had huge investments in Imperial Russia, England was losing her world trade to Germany, America wanted to expand into European markets, Japan was taking control of Chinese markets, the Depression was creating serious social problems in America in addition to the devastating economic ones, the Allies took all of Germany’s gold reserves after the 1914 war, the Soviets refused to honor Czarist bonds, and so on and so on.
Ideologies do not make wars but money does. And that I well know from having been on the inside for years.

Hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars taken in by the SS with the faked British bank notes not only ruined the British economy (which was bankrupt already) but enriched our coffers to the point where I and a few others have now become very rich. And to think I once tried to shut down the Bernhard program because it promoted theft and corruption!

The entire planet is run entirely by theft and corruption, or the love of it!


Swiss voters projected to reject ‘basic income’ referendum
Initial polls have shown that a wide margin of voters struck down a proposal to introdce a guaranteed basic income for Swiss residents. Changes to the country’s asylum law are also predicted to pass.
June 5,2016

A clear majority of Swiss voters have voted to reject “an unconditional basic income” or “Grundeinkommen” for everyone living in the country, reported Swiss media on Sunday.
The projection, gathered by the GFS polling group for Swiss broadcaster SRF said 78 percent of voters said “no” to the referendum, with a 3 percent margin of error. Around 22 percent voted in favor of the proposal.

The ballot did not provide a specific figure, but economists projected a minimum of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,560, 2,225 euros) per month would have been allocated for adults living in the Alpine country.

Children would have been given about a quarter of that amount.

Supporters of the measure said it would promote human dignity and public service. Opponents – including the Swiss government – argued that the proposal would cost too much and weaken the economy.

Switzerland is the first country to hold a national vote on basic income, but other countries such as Finland are considering similar plans.

‘Setting a trend’

The referendum arose after supporters garnered more than 100,000 signatures. One of the initiative founders Daniel Häni, a café owner in Basel, admitted defeat, but praised the vote nonetheless.

“As a businessman I am a realist and had reckoned with 15 percent support, now it looks like more than 20 percent or maybe even 25 percent. I find that fabulous and sensational,” he told SRF.

“When I see the media interest, from abroad as well, then I say we are setting a trend.”
Supporters of the initiative echoed Häni’s optimistic sentiments online, with one user tweeting: “From zero to +20 percent is definitely reason to celebrate for a ‘utopia’!”
‘Yes’ to embryo testing and asylum law

GFS projections also showed that around 66 percent voted in favor of changes to the country’s asylum law to speed up the administration process for applications.

A proposal to allow genetic screening for embryos of couples with known genetic disorders is also expected to pass with an estimated 61 percent in support.

A Weekend in Chicago: Where Gunfire Is a Terrifying Norm
Three days, 64 people shot, six of them dead: Memorial Day on the streets, and the violence that has engulfed families and neighborhoods.
June 4, 2016
by Monica Davey
New York Times

“The Newlywed Game” is on the television. Julia Rhoden, 53, is sitting on her bed, exhausted from another long day at the health care center where she works as a nurse’s aide. There is a loud boom and then another and another. She feels a sting as a bullet enters her back. “I been shot! I been shot!” she cries out to her children in the next room, as blood soaks through the summer dress she wears as a nightgown.

That same night, 15-year-old Veronica Lopez is hit as she rides in a Jeep that is speeding along a waterfront drive. “Babe, they shot me in the stomach,” the girl tells a friend, who later says he covered her body with his own as the gunfire continued.

“Help, I’ve been shot!” another teenager screams as he limps down a darkened street, a bullet having torn through his leg.

It is Friday night in Chicago, and the Memorial Day weekend is just getting started. The Police Department plans to deploy more than a thousand extra officers to deal with the violence they fear will intensify with the unofficial start of summer.

There is no stopping the gunfire, which comes in bursts and waves, interrupting holiday barbecues, igniting gang rivalries, engulfing neighborhoods, blocks, families.

From Friday evening to the end of Monday, 64 people will have been shot in this city of 2.7 million, six of them fatally. In a population made up of nearly equal numbers of whites, blacks and Hispanics, 52 of the shooting victims are black, 11 Hispanic and one white. Eight are women, the rest men. Some 12 people are shot in cars, 11 along city sidewalks, and at least four on home porches.

It is a level of violence that has become the terrifying norm, particularly in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. With far fewer residents, Chicago has more homicides than Los Angeles or New York.

In an effort to capture what is happening on Chicago’s streets, and why, The New York Times dispatched a team of reporters, photographers and videographers to virtually all of the shooting scenes across the city. Working around the clock through the three-day weekend, The Times interviewed relatives, witnesses, police officers and others, and captured how much violence has become a part of the city’s fabric. The Times intends to follow the cases throughout the year.

This weekend, among the six killed are a father, Garvin Whitmore, who loved to travel but was scared of riding on roller coasters; and Mark Lindsey, whose outsize personality brought him his nickname, Lavish. The oldest person struck by a bullet is 57. The youngest person to die is Ms. Lopez, a high school student and former cheerleader.And so the logic of one Chicago mother, who watches another mother weep over her dead son in their South Side neighborhood, is this: She is glad her own son is in jail, because the alternative is unbearable.

“He was bound to be shot this summer,” she says.

This article was written by Monica Davey. With reporting by Alan Blinder,  Julie Bosman,  Malachy Browne,  Catrin Einhorn,  John Eligon,  Emma Fitzsimmons,  Marc Lacey,  Ian Lovett,  Brent McDonald,  Richard A. Oppel Jr.,  Frances Robles,  Stephanie Saul,  Mitch Smith,  Megan Specia,  Julie Turkewitz,  and Timothy Williams.

Russians list US, Ukraine & Turkey as country’s main enemies in latest poll
June 2, 2016

The United States, Ukraine and Turkey top the nations that Russians see as most hostile to their motherland with Belarus, Kazakhstan and China traditionally seen as friendliest, a recent poll has shown.

According to the results of the research, conducted by independent pollster the Levada Center, reports that 72 percent of Russians identified the US as the country that is most hostile toward Russia. Ukraine was second with 48 percent and Turkey came third with 29 percent (researchers allowed every respondent to name several countries in response to this question). The opinion about the US remained approximately the same year-on-year, with 73 percent of Russians seeing it as the most hostile nation in 2015, but Ukraine’s image deteriorated, with a higher proportion than last year’s 37 percent seeing it as an enemy last year. Only 1 percent of the Russian public named Turkey as an opponent in 2015.

When asked about which nations they thought to be the friendliest toward their country, 50 percent of Russians identified Belarus, 39 percent named Kazakhstan and 43 percent said China. Also, Syria came relatively high in the rating of Russia’s perceived friends, with 10 percent of respondents, against just 2 percent last year.

When asked about their own negative sentiments towards foreign nations, 70 percent said that they disliked the US the most, 62 percent named the European Union and 63 percent confessed to negative feelings toward Ukraine.

The Levada Center’s deputy director, Aleksey Grazhdankin, said in comments with popular business daily Vedomosti that Russians’ attitude to the US and the EU hit a record low in early 2015 and after this the situation started to improve, but in May this year it started deteriorating again. Grazhdantkin blamed this on the celebrations of Russia’s victory in WWII, or more specifically on the fact that western nations did not acknowledge Russia’s leading role in the defeat of the Nazis. “There are no other factors,” the expert said.

Grazhdankin went on to explain the negative sentiments toward Ukraine by the fact that Kiev authorities cannot solve the conflict with the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. He also recalled the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish Air Force in Syria, saying the yet unresolved incident is the most likely reason of Russians’ negative attitude toward Turkey.

In August 2015, state-run research center VTsIOM studied the perception of the US in Russia and found that it had drastically deteriorated, with 59 percent of respondents thinking that the current Washington administration is extremely hostile toward Russia and its people. In February 2015, VTsIOM reported that about 68 percent of Russian citizens thought the likelihood of foreign military aggression towards their country has increased, but 49 percent considered the state of Russian military as good and capable of repelling any attacks.

Next Time Someone Says Nothing Is Made in the USA Anymore, Show Them This
June 4, 2016
by JP Sottile

Who says nothing is made in the USA anymore?

Certainly not the well-heeled denizens of the State Department’s diplomatic corps. And they should know. That’s because they’re stationed on the frontlines of the ongoing battle to preserve Uncle Sam’s dominant market share of the global weapons trade. Luckily for the Military-Industrial Complex, it turns out that “Made In the USA” inspires a lot of brand loyalty, even if actual loyalty is often a harder sell (paging Saudi Arabia). To wit, not only was America the world’s leading arms dealer in 2014 with $36.2 billion in sales, but it topped that 35% surge in sales over 2013 with yet another profitable spike to $46.6 billion in 2015.

As Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) determined in its recent report on the global arms trade, the United States maintains a commanding “33% share of total arms exports” and is the world’s top seller for five years running. And its customer base includes “at least” 96 countries, which is nearly half of the world’s nations. A robust 40% of those exports end up in the Middle East. Perhaps that’s why the State Department is so darn bullish on the prospects of Uncle Sam’s booming business of selling things that go “boom!”

That’s the takeaway from a recent report in Defense News highlighting the marketing push by “Commercial Officers” stationed at the US embassy in Jordan. They worked the crowd at the kingdom’s eleventh bi-annual Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX). Like many of the nearly 100 military-themed “trade shows” held around the world this year alone, SOFEX offered the profiteers of doom an opportunity to display their merchandise and to cut deals with bellicose browsers ready to pull the trigger on a deadly impulse buy. Some of the bigger, “glitzy” trade shows – like the International Defence Exposition and Conference (IDEX) held yearly in Abu Dhabi – are full-on one-stop-shopping destinations for the up-and-coming military power on the move, the newly-minted pro-Western junta eager to armor-up, and the forward-thinking “Coalition Partner” looking for the latest in “kinetic warfare.”

If nothing else, trade shows offer defense contractors a chance to give out “promotional tchotchkes” to potential future customers who might be swayed to double-back by a branded camouflage carryall or a Digi Camo Military Bert Stress Reliever. No doubt it’s a tedious affair, but the presenters toiling behind the displays are not alone on the battlefield of commerce. That certainly was the case at SOFEX, where the U.S. Embassy deployed Senior Commercial Officer Geoffrey Bogart and Regional Safety and Security chief Cherine Maher to act as sale-force multipliers for America’s military moneymakers. As Jen Judson detailed, Bogart and Maher tracked down sales leads throughout a region gripped by chaos since America wantonly destroyed a bystander nation under false pretenses (a.k.a. Iraq). Here are Judson’s highlights from Bogart and Maher’s magical misery tour of the profitable market forces currently shaping America’s recently reshaped Middle East:

JORDAN: “We are very high on the safety and security market in Jordan,” Geoffrey Bogart, a commercial officer at the US Embassy said. Bogart said there is an abundance of market prospects for US companies to do business in Jordan, including in border security, cyber security, command and control centers, telecommunications equipment, military vehicles, artillery, tactical equipment, bomb and metal detectors, and closed circuit television (CCTV) and access control.

EGYPT: “Egypt is facing a lot of challenges especially in terms of border control and whether it’s from the West or the East or the North or the South, so the main project that is going on is border and perimeter control,” Maher said, which means the country really wants bomb detection, jammers and improvised explosive device diffusers.

LIBYA: The current instability in Libya has led to challenges for US firms, according to Maher; however, US companies’ products are in high demand there. “The trick is how to enter the market, who to sell to, and making sure of export license,” she said, adding some products that had been permitted to be sold to Libya now have restrictions.

TUNISIA: There is continuous growth in Tunisia’s defense market, Maher said. Tunisia plussed up its security forces budget in 2016 due to growing terrorist threats in the region. The country wants to build up its force capacity to deter regional threats, strengthen defensive capabilities and support counterterrorism operations.

LEBANON: Lebanon is interested in border security; however, it’s particularly interested in securing public buildings and providing for civilian protection due to ongoing insecurity in some towns and cities near Beirut, Maher said.

IRAQ: Maher said Iraq has a particularly “dynamic” market valued in 2014 at about $7.6 billion, which is about 3.44 percent of its GDP. With the ongoing war against the Islamic State group, it is anticipated that Iraq will soon spend around $19 billion, which would make up about 18 to 20 percent of its GDP. Like all the other countries in the region, Iraq is investing heavily in safety and security equipment, and also wants personal protective gear and security systems for residential and commercial buildings, according to Maher.

A “dynamic” market is right … that is, if you’re General Dynamics. Or Lockheed Martin. Or Boeing. Or any of the big six defense contractors who together took home $90.29 billion of the over $175 billion worth of taxpayer dollars doled out last year to the top 100 military contractors. Not coincidentally, seven of the top eight US Government contractors are defense companies, with only health care services provider McKesson making it past a phalanx of defense wheelers and dealers.

It’s a rarified world greased last year by $127.39 million of lobbying largesse and another $32.66 million spent so far this year, according to OpenSecrets.org. Of course, lobbying offers a great bang for the buck when it comes to stoking sales. A MapLight analysis earlier this year found that “major US government contractors have received $1,171 in taxpayer money for every $1 invested in lobbying and political action committee contributions during the last decade.”

Now that’s some serious ROI!

Still, nothing quite compares to the breeder reactor effect that comes from using expensive military hardware to destroy regimes in a never-ending global war against a tactic. Regime change touched off civil war in Iraq. That spread to Syria which, in turn, sent over 660,000 refugees into Jordan and over one million refugees into Lebanon … all of which explains why Bogart and Maher are so bullish on the sale of security-related products to those two nations and why the entire region is in the midst of a military buying spree.

Then there is the chaotic aftermath of regime change in Libya, which threatens to spill over to two more booming markets – Tunisia and Egypt. Of course, Egypt had its own U.S.-endorsed internal regime change at the hands of a loyal customer and longtime recipient of American “aid” – the Egyptian military. It was really a “coup,” but US law would’ve prevented selling Egypt’s military junta tear gas canisters marked “Made In USA” (among other things) if it was officially a coup d’etat, so the Obama Administration simply didn’t call it a coup.

Now, according to Ms. Maher, Egypt’s military is in the market for yet more military hardware that, according to a new GAO report detailed by The Intercept, is not being properly or legally vetted by the State Department. Those purchases are easily funded by the $6.4 billion in US aid since the coup in 2011. And (go figure) Egypt’s wishlist is justified, in part, by the sudden need to ward off interlopers from regime-changed Libya, which, according to the aforementioned Ms. Maher, is still a red-hot market for US arms dealers … if they can get the export licenses.

And so the dynamic market churns onward – with tax dollars paying the salaries of State Department “Commercial Officers” who work for the heavily-subsidized US defense industry as salespeople in overseas markets destabilized by taxpayer-funded wars fought by taxpayer-supported American soldiers armed with weaponry purchased from that self-same defense industry with – you guessed it – more tax dollars.

The “diplomats” in the State Department act as important go-betweens in the process, helping “customers” navigate the military-industrial complexities of end-user certificates, export licenses, and human rights restrictions so they can spend taxpayer-funded US“aid” that invariably ends up back in the coffers of Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, and so on.Once the money makes it back home to the defense industry, those companies invest some of their windfalls into lobbying, into SuperPACS, into both political parties, and directly into campaigns of the Congressional cronies who dutifully rubberstamp the defense budget that enriches the defense industry. So far this year, they’ve poured over $17 million into those efforts and, in turn, they’ve provided the fuel to run the “dynamic” perpetual machine in which the State Department is a vital cog.
And this is why the folks at the State Department know full-well that, in fact, America still actually makes something – it is the world’s leading manufacturer of war.

Diplomatic tag as countries find new ways of standing up to China
June 5, 2016
by Greg Torode and Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE-When U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke at a key Asian summit at the weekend, he used the word “principled” 38 times, floating his vision of a U.S.-backed “security network” of countries in the region.

Several delegations were quick to respond to the idea at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, but it seemed to evolve into a form of diplomatic tag-team wrestling as a loose coalition of nations lined up to criticize China.

Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea, a dig at Beijing which has said it will not accept any ruling by a U.N.-backed court on the dispute.
Chinese officials, meanwhile, stressed Beijing’s commitment to being a peaceful, lawful and inclusive nation but said it would not be bullied.

“No one has the right to point their fingers at China,” said Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the joint staff department of China’s Central Military Commission, as he faced a string of questions at one public forum at the summit on Sunday.”Belligerence does not make peace.”

Sun was sharing a podium with Vietnamese deputy defense minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, who said he was cutting short his own responses to allow his Chinese counterpart more time to rebut criticisms raised of Beijing.

Concern at China’s assertiveness over the vital trade route was deepening, several envoys said on the sidelines of the summit, particularly given the prospect of Chinese military facilities on new artificial islands built by on reefs in the South China Sea.

Those concerns were forcing regional countries to band closer together to find new ways of standing up to Beijing.

Carter’s urging of greater regional efforts, particularly from China, to create his “principled security network” was underpinned by warnings that China risked isolating itself by its actions “on the seas, in cyberspace, and in the region’s airspace”.

Many militiaries in the region, he said, were working closer together, both among themselves and with the United Sates.

Japan’s defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said Japan would seek to participate annually in naval exercises together with the United States and India, similar to drills due to take place off the Japanese port of Sasebo later this week.

“It is very meaningful from the standpoint of securing safety in the wide area of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, for Japan, the United States and India to cooperate on security and defense areas and to conduct training,” Nakatani said.


Carter’s warnings that China faced a looming “Great Wall of isolation” were rejected by Chinese officials, but some analysts said an “us versus them” divide may suit Beijing in current circumstances.

“It might sound tough talk, but my worry is that China’s leaders will simply welcome that kind of view,” Lee Chung Min, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told Reuters.
“If its economy slows, China’s leaders might welcome the chance for the isolationist talk to stir some domestic nationalism.”

Major General Yao Yunzhu, of China’s Academy of Military Science and prominent figure during the weekend sessions, acknowledged perceptions that some nations might be “ganging up” on China but said this did not represent “objective reality”.

“The South China Sea is not the only security issue in the region, and events like this one are not quite full reality,” she told Reuters. “Each nation has to think of its bilateral relations with China as well, and many other security issues, that pull us closer together.”
Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, made clear that while the U.S. military was attempting to engage and co-operate with China’s rapidly modernizing military, it was prepared for a darker outcome.

“The bottom line is this: we want to co-operate where we can, but we just have to be ready as a military to confront them if we must,” he said.

Malaysia defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein spelt out the costs to smaller regional countries if great power rivalries escalate, however.

Whatever happens between major powers must not “leave us on the beach when the tide goes out”.
(Additional reporting by Lee Chyen Yee.; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

TWA Flight 800: The Gathering of the Nuts
by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Whenever a disaster happens that, unlike a volcanic eruption or a huge forest fire, cannot be immediately explained, a great gathering of self-serving individuals begin to spout forth theories, plans, tales of “secret documents,’ and “confidential communications” with unnamed “experts.” The purpose of expounding these weird tales generally is to draw attention to the expounder. That no reputable segment of any media bothers with discussing these theories is always attributed to control by an irate Government who are furious at the brilliance of the theorist and who spend endless hours spying on them, opening their solicitations from NAMBLA and installing microphones in their desks at the local Humane Society.

As a case in point, let us consider a well-known tragedy. First come the actual facts and then the actual fictions.

On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747-131 registered as N93119, took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York) enroute to Charles De Gaulle International Airport (Paris).

The aircraft was flying more than eight miles off the cost of East Moriches, New York (part of Long Island) when the fuel tank exploded. The aircraft banked and the front part of the aircraft broke off. The wind pushed the aircraft into a climb. Then, the aircraft went into a dive, causing the wings to break off the aircraft. Pieces of the aircraft plummeted down into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 230 passengers on board.

After what has been billed as the longest and most expensive accident investigation in American aviation history, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board  (NTSB) investigation found that the flammable fuel/air mixture of the center wing fuel tank probably ignited due to electrical failure in the center fuel tank, causing the plane to explode in flight. The FBI agreed that there had been no criminal act after examining all the plane’s wreckage that had been recovered. In May of 1997, mechanics discovered a fuel leak in a Boeing 737-200 that they believed was caused by the kind of electrical arcing suspected of causing the TWA Flight 800 fatal explosion. NTSB investigators believed that the same kind of arcing from the wiring in the center fuel tank of TWA Flight 800 sparked the explosion that brought the plane down. As a result of extensive and very through testing, the NTSB issued an “airworthiness directive” requiring the immediate inspection of the wiring of older 747s. In April, it recommended further inspections and design changes in the wiring of 747s and in Boeing 707s and C-130 transport planes, as well.

Eight years after the crash, in February 2004, the FAA indicated that it would start the process of ordering airlines to install a fuel tank inerting system in most of their aircraft. It was stated that the order would probably actually be issued within two years, and then the airlines would be required to install the devices over the subsequent seven years. The FAA stated that, including the TWA Flight 800 crash, there had been three fuel tank explosions in airliners over the previous 14 years (the two others having occurred on the ground),

Various groups and individuals continue to maintain that the plane was downed by a bomb or missile, and that there was a subsequent cover-up to disguise the real cause of the crash.

The “terrorist theory” was, as usual, one of the first to be mentioned, especially due to the fact that the accident happened during the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, where a bomb exploded ten days later. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, these alternate explanations have been revisited, as some officials and commentators have mentioned this disaster among lists of terrorist attacks. Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, a retired Naval officer who conducted an independent investigation, disagrees with the official theory. According to Commander Donaldson, “jet airliners built by the American aerospace industry have logged at least 150 thousand years of flight time. Not once has there ever been a spontaneous fuel tank explosion on any fuel tank while airborne” (Letter to NTSB 11-14-97).

Donaldson concluded that the airplane was “shot down by missiles.” He interviewed hundreds of witnesses and said he reconstructed the flight paths of these missiles by triangulating the eyewitness accounts. Soon after, a photo that a passenger of a North American Airlines plane arriving at JFK supposedly took, seemed to support the missile theory because the “photo” showed a “missile” missing the NA Airlines jet narrowly.
Pierre Salinger, a former White House press secretary to President John F. Kennedy and ABC News journalist, prominently and repeatedly claimed he had proof that the flight was downed by a missile from a U.S. Navy ship. The documents on which he relied were later found to be vague rumors that had been distributed over Usenet, with attributions only to many “unnamed experts”. Some people briefly gave the name of Pierre Salinger Syndrome to the tendency to believe things that one reads on the bloggers of the Internet.

One such theory has the US Navy conducting tests of submarine-to-air missiles, accidentally hitting Flight 800, and then covering up the fatal error. After initial denials, the U.S. Navy later admitted that USS Wyoming (SSBN-742), commissioned only days before, was conducting sea trials in the area, and that USS Trepang (SSN-674) and USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) were conducting unspecified operations in the area. It should be noted that all three of these submarines lacked any surface to air missile armament as part of their standard munitions loadout (as do all submarines). It is possible that any of the three subs could have been carrying MANPADS missiles. However all three subs were more than 50 miles (80 km) away from the crash site, very far outside the range of any MANPADS missile in the world. One suggested possibility is that the type of missile involved may be classified.

Another possible alternate theory involving the US Navy is that a missile was fired from the USS Normandy (CG-60), operating 185 nautical miles (340 km) south of the TWA 800 crash site. This is well outside of the range of currently deployed Standard Missiles carried by US ships, almost double the range of the current Block IIIB versions, and just within the future Block IV ER versions. Even if this were a test of a Block IV version, although there is no evidence for this, at the extreme range in question the engine would have long burned out and the warhead would be gliding. This contradicts the main claim that a missile was involved, which is a number of eyewitness accounts claiming to have seen “a missile trail almost vertical under the explosion site.” Furthermore, inventories of USS Normandy’s missile complement immediately following the crash of TWA 800 showed no missiles missing from the inventory, according to the US Navy

Regardless of the very faint possibility of any number of missiles and missile launch platforms being in the vicinity of TWA 800 at the time of the accident, no evidence of any kind of a missile impact exists within the recovered wreckage, according to a study conducted by the Department of Defense’s Office of Special Technology

However, at least one individual involved at higher levels with the FBI’s portion of the recovery operations has stated publicly that he saw during his involvement predominant evidence in the state of the wreckage, the form of the wreckage field, the state of the victim’s remains, public and confidential actions by the airlines, investigation officials, and the Navy following the event, and other factors that convinced him the crash was the result of an “accidental missile strike.” Unfortunately, they have neglected to produce their evidence, claiming that the FBI and the CIA broke into their apartment and stole it, along with certain magazines, a picture of Matt Drudge in a leather thong and a six pack of warm beer.

One of the usual “reliable eyewitnesses” was a Malvina Tidwell of Long Island who claimed she and her husband, Oscar, (since desceaed) “positively identified” an Arab submarine, firing rockets, from their vantage point of the beach where they were looking for driftwood. “I knew it was an Arab sub,” Tidwell said, “because they had men with beards running around the deck and a green flag with Arab writing on it.” Mrs Tidwell is legally blind and her husband, who also gave a long interview to the alternative media, was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease and believed that he was the illigetimate son of Harry Truman.

For instance, the following affidavit, dated January 2003 (and which looks very much like blogger information that was passed around the internet shortly after the crash), is being listed as one of the “articles of evidence” in recent FOIA suits pressed by Captain Ray Lahr against the National Transportation Safety Board: This document states he viewed “radar tapes” and took part in “phone conversations” which convinced him Flight 800 was a victim of friendly fire, and that he later passed on this information to Pierre Salinger (Note such anomalies as the doubling of every statement in the affidavit, the second half being a reworded version of the first half).

Elaine Scarry, in a number of articles in the New York Review of Books, has raised the possibility of electromagnetic interference being responsible for the accident. It has also been suggested that an electronic death ray developed by the brilliant Nicholas Tesla and utilized by a mysterious group calling itself the Hidden Hand brought down the plane in furtherance of a plan that no one seems to know about. The Hidden Hand was supposed to have  detonated an atomic bomb over Houston, Texas on Christmas Day of 2004 but apparently was unsuccessful as Houston, unfortunately, is still intact.

A number of strange “alternate theories” surrounding TWA 800 relied on so-called eye witness accounts as collected by the FBI. However, very few of the witnesses were within five miles (8 km) of TWA 800 at the time of the accident, according to a witness map provided by the NTSB. The vast majority of the witnesses were too far away from the accident scene to discern any significant details, and some witnesses describe events that are well beyond the visual acuity of humans

Ex- CBS Investigator Kristina Borjesson, (email: FKLB@aol.com) and co-workers (including Oliver Stone) were on a documentary project for ABC, until it was aborted. Ms. Borjesson’s “documentary” involved the scores of the usual “eyewitnesses” who were desperate for their fifteen minutes of fame and who claimed they saw “something streaking from the ocean toward the plane.” This documentary was for a show, Declassified, that was being produced by Oliver Stone and slated to air on ABC. But the Stone connection grew controversial, and ABC canceled the program. CBS also immediately dissociated itself from Ms. Borjesson. Josh Howard, a senior producer at 60 Minutes, said, “Her official relationship with CBS ended before she pitched that story. (About mythic ‘rocket fuel’ being found on a strip of cloth alleged to have come from one of the passenger seats on Flight 800) She had maybe a month to go on her contract. She was anxiously looking around for other projects to prolong her employment.”

The 800 flight number was retired and replaced with flight 924 after the crash, although TWA continued to operate flights between New York and Paris. In Spring 2001, TWA merged with American Airlines. Of the exposers of the Real Truth, throughly discredited Pierre Salinger has since died and Ms Borjesson has slipped into professional oblivion, along with many others.

Unemployment, low wages make third of young Americans live with parents
May 26, 2016

The family nest is getting full again as nearly a third of millennials tend to go back to live with their parents rather than settle down on their own, a new study reveals. The year 2014 saw the trend peak nearly to record-breaking levels since World War II.

The Pew Research Center found that 32.1 percent of 18-to-34 year old Americans prefer living with their parents to sharing a place with a roommate or a romantic partner.
This is compared to 31.6 percent of young adults living in their own household with a spouse or a partner. Another 14 percent, most often single mothers, headed up a household in which they lived either alone or with a roommate. The remaining 22 percent of respondents shared a house with either family members, who were not their parents, or people who they were not related to at all, at college dormitories or prisons for example.

The trend, which has peaked for the second time since the 1940s, sees clear gender, racial and educational diversity. Of those living with parents, 35 percent were men, while women were as likely to be living with a spouse (35 percent), but less likely to live at their parents’ place (29 percent). Women also were ahead of men when it came to heading up a household – 16 percent versus 13 percent. However, men outnumbered women in cases where they were living with a third family member – 25 percent of males compared to 19 percent of females.

As far back as 1880, romantic coupling was the most common living arrangement for young adults. Sixty years on, this changed, and living with parents peaked around the 1940s, when about 35 percent of 18- to 34-year-old Americans lived at home with their mom and/or dad. So, 2014 failed to break the record but got quite close to it, becoming the second highest year since World War II.

At present, researches said many factors contribute to the statistics, including education, race, finances and employment.

For example, working men are less likely to be living with their parents. But here the trend is closely tied to another problem of employment and wages, which have changed to worse in recent decades. In the 1960s, 84 percent of young men had jobs, and in 2014 that number decreased to 71 percent. Wages have been going down since the 1970s and fell significantly from 2000 to 2010, which affected living arrangements among 18-to-34-year-old men. All those factors also affected women, who had difficulties getting married due to men experiencing labor issues and, hence, having to live at home.
Education, racial and ethnic backgrounds have also brought diversity to this statistics.

“By 2014, 36 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds who had not completed a bachelor’s degree were living with their parent(s) while 27 percent were living with a spouse or partner,” the report said.

Nearly a half of college graduates – 46 percent in 2014 – were married or lived with a partner, while only 19 percent stayed at the family nest.

Speaking of racial diversity, “record-high shares” of young adults living with parents were blacks and Hispanics, 36 percent for each of the surveyed groups here. Only 17 percent of black young adults lived with a spouse or romantic partner in 2014, compared to 30 percent of Hispanics

Austrian foreign minister suggests ‘refugees should be held offshore’
Austria’s foreign minister has suggested that the EU’s refugees be interned offshore rather than allowed on to the continent. He said the EU should look to the Australian example of dealing with migrant entries.
June 5, 2016

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz of the rightist Austrian People’s Party told a newspaper that Australia’s immigration policy should be replicated by the EU in order to deal with the current influx of refugees.

Migrants who try to reach Australia by boat are turned back or sent to internment camps in the Pacific Ocean countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea where they are held indefinitely while their cases are processed. The system has been criticized by human rights groups amidst reports of rape and suicides among detainees.

“The Australian model of course cannot be completely replicated but its principles can be applied in Europe,” Kurz, who at 29 years old is Europe’s youngest minister, told Die Presse in an interview published Sunday.

Australia makes zero exceptions

Kurz commented that in the first half of the 20th century the United States held new arrivals on Ellis Island as they travelled to New York.

In fact, Ellis Island was an immigration inspection station that processed thousands of new arrivals every day. Immigrants were only held in the station’s infirmaries if they were suspected of carrying infectious diseases but otherwise were not interned, as the minister suggested.

But in an apparent attempt to stake out a tough approach to refugees, Kurz told the newspaper that the EU should adopt a resolution whereby those who try to enter Europe illegally lose their right to demand asylum.

Far-right parties have made sweeping gains in recent Austrian elections.

Austria, governed by a coalition of social-democrats and conservatives, allowed some 90,000 asylum seekers to enter the Alpine country last year. But Vienna has since hardened its conditions of asylum and tried to close the migrant route from Greece to the north of Europe via the Balkans.

At least 204,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe since January, the United Nations refugee agency said this week. More than 2,500 people have died trying to make the sea crossing as Europe faces the largest wave of migration since World War II.

In pricey Bay Area, some turn to vans for cheap living quarters
June 3, 2016
by Antoinette Siu
The Washington Post

SAN FRANCISCO — Dwayne Golstein works for a pathology firm in Los Altos, Calif., handling delivery and lab work during a swing shift from 3 p.m. to midnight.
Every morning, he wakes up in his home on a street nestled between a shopping plaza and office building complexes.

Faced with the most expensive rentals in the nation, workers in the Bay Area increasingly are searching for creative housing options. Somewhere between homeless encampments and luxurious lofts, another in a growing list of alternatives has surfaced for Golstein and others priced out of the market: renting a van not to drive but to live in.
“At least once a day I lose my mind. It’s low light, I’m tired, and I’m trying to get out of my clothes,” said Golstein, 38.

“I’m loading up my laptop. Wait, where’s my phone? I just had my phone,” he added. “Or I’ll cut up something to eat. Where are my utensils? You’re sitting basically on a bed where you can’t walk around and look. That’s the difficulty.”

Golstein found Bob Allen’s van rental on Craigslist recently. Allen’s sleeper “go-tel” rental business is relatively cheap, mobile and an adventure. The longtime San Francisco resident owns two white 2015 Dodge Caravans that he rents out short- and long-term, depending on customers’ needs, be they for camping, weekend trips or week- or month-long ­rentals.

Allen, 68, said he considered every detail when he came up with the idea in 2012. His vans include eight-inch foam beds that can sleep two, storage underneath the beds, tinted windows and curtains for privacy and kitchenette areas with electric two-burner stoves and shelves in the back.

What some may call roughing it, Allen calls an affordable solution. He charges $700 to $800 a month to rent his sleeper vans, in addition to 40 cents a mile charged via Getaround, the car-sharing service.

A basic rental agreement Allen printed off the Internet outlines the rest of the terms.
Renters can also throw in Allen’s “add-on packs,” which offer options such as a frying pan, bowls and cooking utensils at $2 a day, or a fishing pole, spinner reel and bait at $1 a day.

Other items such as a folding table or additional stoves are also available for additional per-day costs. And it all comes with a how-to guide Allen wrote himself on where to park, shower and cook, plus other tips on navigating life in a van.

San Francisco remains the most expensive place to live in the country, with latest reports estimating median rent for a one-bedroom apartment at $3,590, according to April’s numbers by real estate start-up Zumper. Some renters get creative in order to survive the housing crisis — living on a sailboat or in a wooden box or trucks.

Others besides Allen try to market their ideas to struggling renters. In March, after the story about an illustrator living in a wooden box in a friend’s living room went viral, the man offered on his website to build boxes for other people to live in or rent out. And Craigslist seems to serve up more absurdity, with listings such as a crawl space in Pacific Heights for $500 or a shipping container in Bayview for $600. The horrors go on: bug infestations, toilets inside closets, and roommates packed into bunk beds and partitioned living rooms.

The van “is an alternative to outrageous rent in this city,” Allen said. “You have to be a good planner. You have to be discreet.”

Sleeping in vehicles remains part of a larger conversation in the country, as many cities leave it to police discretion on how to handle car-dwelling.

“Sleeping in vehicles is a type of ban that has really increased in recent years,” said Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

The center’s 2014 report on the criminalization of homelessness found more cities frown upon sleeping in cars.

According to the center’s national survey of 187 cities, from 2011 to 2014, there was a 119 percent increase in the number of cities banning sleeping in vehicles. In 2014, 81 cities banned it.

For the time being, San Francisco law specifies only where and when people cannot live in their vehicles. According to San Francisco Municipal Police Code, the “use of vehicles for human habitation” is prohibited from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m in streets, parks or beaches within the city and county.

“This section is not often enforced,” Officer Albie Esparza said in an email.

Most car-dwellers will be asked to leave or receive a ticket and fine from police. In extreme situations, violators may receive jail time. Allen says none of his renters have experienced trouble with the law so far.

But the laws in California may soon shift. In June 2014, Los Angeles’s law banning living in vehicles was challenged and brought to the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which struck the law down as unconstitutional.

“I know at least some cities in California have been looking at their laws in light of that decision,” Foscarinis said.

Still, Golstein says, living in a van is far from ideal.

He says he times his meals to limit bathroom trips. His go-to meal after coming back from work, usually bought at Trader Joe’s, consists of avocado and smoked oysters in olive oil tossed in an herb salad with honey mustard. He noticed losing some weight in the month after moving into the van.

“I mean, it sucks I can’t eat food unless I’m at work, or I go out and eat, buy something. I’ve lost some weight, because I walk everywhere already.

“The back of the van, there’s a little stove, but I just think it would look odd at 2 o’clock in the morning for this guy to have smoke coming out of the back of the van in the neighborhood,” Golstein said.

Before moving into the van, he rented a bed through Airbnb for $400 every two weeks in a room with three sets of bunk beds. Golstein, who said he was asked to leave the four-bedroom house in Los Altos Hills on short notice, compared living in that room to living in military barracks.

“Greed is a terrible thing in Silicon Valley. He put me in basically what would be equivalent to a teenager’s room,” Golstein said. “This guy wants . . . grown adult professionals to be jumping in and out of bunk beds every day? And you want $800 a month for one bed?”

At the time Golstein moved out, he said, the landlord planned on raising rent to $1,000 a month.

With a budget of around $1,000, Golstein figured he would pay $250 a week to rent the van while he looked for another place. He spends several hours a day at coffee shops to charge his phone and computer, but living in a 15-foot van comes with its challenges.

“The free time I have, I’m restricted. When I return to my abode, I’ve got 2 1 / 2 hours of time every night.”

Use it or lose it: Occasional Ohio voters may be shut out in November
June 2, 2016
by Andy Sullivan and Grant Smith

CINCINNATI-When Larry Harmon tried to vote on a marijuana initiative in November in his hometown of Kent, Ohio, the 59-year-old software engineer found his name had been struck from the voter rolls.

Two hours south in Zanesville, restaurant worker Chris Conrad, 37, was also told he was no longer registered.

Both men later found out why: they had not voted often enough.

As the Nov. 8 elections loom, officials in Ohio have removed tens of thousands of voters from registration lists because they have not cast a ballot since 2008.

All U.S. states periodically cleanse their voter rolls, but only a handful remove voters simply because they don’t vote on a regular basis. And nowhere could the practice have a greater potential impact in the state-by-state battle for the White House than Ohio, a swing state that has backed the winner in every presidential election since 1960.

Voters of all stripes in Ohio are affected, but the policy appears to be helping Republicans in the state’s largest metropolitan areas, according to a Reuters survey of voter lists. In the state’s three largest counties that include Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, voters have been struck from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods.

That’s because residents of relatively affluent Republican-leaning neighborhoods are more likely to vote in both congressional elections and presidential contests, historical turnouts show. Democrats are less likely to vote in mid-term elections and thus are more at risk of falling off the rolls.

In the three biggest counties, at least 144,000 voters have been removed, the Reuters analysis found. The statewide total is unclear. Each of the state’s 88 counties manages its own voter rolls, which generally are not made public.

Unlike other voting-rights disputes that have sparked protests and lawsuits, the practice doesn’t appear to be driven by one specific party. Both Republican and Democratic officials in Ohio have purged inactive voters over the past 20 years.

But neighborhoods that have a high proportion of poor, African-American residents are hit hardest, the Reuters analysis found.

“It’s absolutely unfair,” said Donna Porter-Jones, an organizer at Amos Project, an interfaith group that aims to register 30,000 voters from some of Cincinnati’s poorest neighborhoods ahead of November.


Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, says canceling registrations for voters who missed three straight federal elections helps keep voting rolls current. Since 2011, the state has cleared out more than 2 million records of people who have moved or died, he said.

Those who don’t vote over a six-year stretch or respond to a postcard mailed to their address have only themselves to blame, he said. “If this is really important thing to you in your life, voting, you probably would have done so within a six-year period,” he said in an interview.

People who don’t respond to the postcard can be removed from voting lists if they sit out the next two federal elections. Many other states only remove voters from the rolls if they have died or moved to a new address.

“You shouldn’t be struck of your right to vote because you skipped an election,” said Kathleen Clyde, a Democratic state representative who has been fighting the practice.
Four civil liberties groups sued to end the practice last month, arguing that it violates federal law and unfairly targets low-income and minority voters.

Voting-rights advocates say they are concerned that many infrequent voters who helped drive turnout to a record in the 2008 presidential election won’t be able to vote in this year’s likely matchup between Democrat Hillary Clinton, vying to become the first female president, and Republican Donald Trump, the celebrity billionaire.


The Ohio lawsuit is one of a number being fought across the country. Photo ID requirements and other efforts to tighten voting laws have spurred fierce partisan battles and protests in recent months. They follow a Supreme Court decision in 2013 that struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act, a signature achievement of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

The Ohio dispute, by contrast, centers on a practice that has been in place for decades but is receiving new attention from civil liberties groups and Democrats ahead of November.

“We are pleased the courts are reviewing the state’s actions,” said Pratt Wiley, national director of voter expansion at the Democratic Party in Washington.
Republican party officials at the local and national level, as well as the Trump campaign, did not respond to requests for comment.

But Tom Fitton, the head of Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has pushed Ohio and other states to keep their voting lists up to date, described the lawsuit as a “power play” by civil liberties groups “to ensure that candidates they like are able to steal elections if necessary.”

Federal law prohibits states from removing voters solely because they haven’t voted, but it also requires them to keep voter lists up to date. Ohio residents who are removed from voting lists must re-register at least 30 days before an election.

Harmon, the software engineer, backed President Barack Obama in 2008 but has sat out presidential and congressional elections since then. He says he initially thought he had done something wrong to get kicked off the voting rolls.

“I felt embarrassed and stupid at the time,” said Harmon, who is involved in the Ohio lawsuit. “The more I think about it, the madder I am,” he said.


In Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, 5 percent of voters in neighborhoods that backed Obama by more than 60 percent in 2012 were purged last year due to inactivity, according to the Reuters analysis of the voter lists. In neighborhoods where Obama got less than 40 percent of the vote, 2.5 percent of registered voters were removed for that reason.

In Franklin County, home to the state capital Columbus, 11 percent of voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods have been purged since 2012 due to inactivity. Only 6 percent of voters in Republican-leaning neighborhoods have been purged.
The disparity is especially stark in Hamilton County, where affluent Republican suburbs ring Cincinnati, which has one of the highest child-poverty rates in the country.
In the heavily African-American neighborhoods near downtown, more than 10 percent of registered voters have been removed due to inactivity since 2012. In suburban Indian Hill, only 4 percent have been purged due to inactivity.

Overall, 30,000 voters have been removed due to inactivity since 2012, a larger figure than Obama’s margin of victory that year.

On a recent rainy afternoon, Amos Project canvasser Marcia Mackey tried to get some of those voters back in the system. Wielding a clipboard and a smile, Mackey asked pedestrians in the Over the Rhine neighborhood north of downtown Cincinnati when they last cast a ballot. If they couldn’t remember, she encouraged them to register again.

“People don’t know they’ve been purged until they go to the election site and get turned away,” Mackey said. “We need to make sure that people have voices.”

(Grant Smith reported from New York. Editing by Jason Szep and Ross Colvin)

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