TBR News March 1, 2017

Mar 01 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. March 1, 2017: “The President’s address to Congress was sincere and competent, thus causing even his enemies in the media to soften. Mr. Trump is a businessman and the economy in the United States is in sad disarray. An intellectual could not begin to cope with it but a businessman easily could. We need to return jobs to the United States, block a flood of Mexico’s unwanted poverty stricken from inundating American welfare roles and redouble our efforts to obliterate the Saudi-backed IS.”

Table of Contents

  • Enemy of the Year: Why Russia?
  • Trump, Putin & New Cold War: What The New Yorker gets wrong
  • Nein! German Expert Says Hitler’s Phone a Fake
  • “Hitler’s Phone” a laughable fake
  • Threats and Vandalism Leave American Jews on Edge in Trump Era
  • Hundreds barricaded as Israel evacuates West Bank settlement homes
  • Winners and losers from President Trump’s big speech to Congress
  • US stocks sharply higher on Trump speech
  • Neo-McCarthyite furor around Russia is counterproductive


Enemy of the Year: Why Russia?

What’s up with the current Russophobia craze?

March 1, 2017

by Justin Raimondo,


I once had an online conversation with a journalist whose name you would instantly recognize that started with a question for me: “Why Russia?” Why, this person wanted to know, are we witnessing a hate campaign aimed at Moscow, decades after the implosion of international communism and the breakup of the USSR?

I tried to give him a coherent and comprehensive answer, but Twitter is not conducive to in-depth discussions of that sort, and so I filed it away as a question to be answered at a later date. And certainly now is the time to answer it: the Democratic party and its media minions are demanding an “investigation” (i.e. a fishing expedition) into the burning question of whether the President of the United States is the Manchurian Candidate: “Putin’s puppet,” as Hillary Clinton infamously averred. Our out-of-control intelligence agencies are furiously pushing the same line.

This echo of the 2016 presidential campaign is surely one major reason why the anti-Russsian hysteria has reached such a fever pitch. As Glenn Greenwald writes in a recent piece in The Intercept:

“[I]t’s used to avoid confronting the fact that Trump is a by-product of the extraordinary and systemic failure of the Democratic Party. As long as the Russia story enables pervasive avoidance of self-critique – one of the things humans least like to do – it will continue to resonate no matter its actual substance and value.”

Well, yes, but the fact is that Mrs. Clinton likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler well before the 2016 election, and the same Democratic party foreign policy mandarins – Strobe Talbott comes to mind – were busy whipping up Russophobic sentiment in the years preceding Trump’s victory at the polls. Greenwald points out that President Obama’s policy toward Russia wasn’t at all Clintonian, but this is only true if one fails to look beneath the surface. The roots of the current hysteria were laid during his reign: after all, the US-German-EU effort to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine, and the installation of a “pro-Western” regime, occurred while Obama was in the White House. The Magnitsky Act, targeting top Russian officials, was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2012.

And so while the present quite extraordinary campaign to portray Russia as our Major Adversary has been given considerable impetus by the Democratic party elites, eager to explain away their humiliating defeat – and discredit the current occupant of the White House – there’s much more to it than that. We can break it down into four major reasons:

1) Inter-service rivalry in the military – In May of last year, I wrote about the war breaking out between the various components of the US military, a battle over budgets:

“In early April, a battalion of senior military officials appeared before a Senate panel and testified that the US Army is ‘outranged and outgunned,’ particularly in any future conflict with Russia. Arguing for a much bigger budget for the Army, they claimed that, absent a substantial increase in funding, the Russians would overtake us and, even scarier, ‘the army of the future will be too small to secure the nation.’

“The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! And before you know it, Brooklyn will be renamed Putingrad.

“Of course it was pure coincidence that, shortly after these alarm bells were rung, a piece appeared in Politico magazine purportedly showing that the Russians were breathing down our necks: it revealed a ‘secret study’ – revealed for the first time! – that supposedly detailed Russia’s deadly new capabilities as demonstrated in Ukraine. Included in this potpourri of propaganda was the assertion by none other than Gen. Wesley Clark, former presidential candidate and well-known Russophobe, that Moscow had developed a tank that is for all intents and purposes ‘invulnerable.’”

The national debt is now at $20 trillion – a sum that the human mind can barely conceive. The reality is that we cannot afford the kind of money the military is now demanding. Indeed, the defense budget hike being advanced by the Trump administration is dead on arrival, and even if it were passed by Congress – an unlikely outcome – it would hardly satisfy the projected expansion of military spending envisioned by the generals. And so we are now witnessing a ramped up campaign to portray the Russians as ten feet tall. As a follow up piece in Politico by Mark Perry put it:

“’This is the ‘Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling’ set in the Army,’ the senior Pentagon officer said. ‘These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There’s a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.’”

A war with Russia would require land forces in huge numbers, more tanks, more artillery, and much more money for the Army. If the Russian Threat is what they say it is, then the Army will devour a glutton’s share of the military budget, leaving the Navy and the Air Force to starve. It would also require complementary upgrades for the militaries of all the NATO nations – a gold mine for the US weapons industry.

So one answer to the “Why Russia?” question is simple: follow the money.

And speaking of following the money, another big factor energizing the anti-Russian campaign is:

2) The Russian diaspora – When Putin came to power one of the first things he did was go after the infamous oligarchs who had backed – and manipulated – his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. Under the drunken Yeltsin, these “entrepreneurs” had used the State apparatus to “privatize” (i.e. loot) what had previously been the State-owned economy, gobbling up entire sectors at unbelievably cheap prices. Putin moved to disassemble what was a competing power center, and the result was the flight of the oligarchs to the West. Having put their ill-gotten gains in Western banks and holding companies, they shacked up in London, New York, Switzerland, and the French Riviera, where they plotted Putin’s overthrow and their triumphant return.

There’s an awful lot of money sloshing around in these circles, and a good part of it is being used to buy up media properties that act as outlets for anti-Russian propaganda. Newspapers, think tanks, and various other vehicles for the molding of public opinion are financed by this Russian Diaspora, which acts as an intellectual Praetorian Guard for the politicians hoping to ride the wave of anti-Russia sentiment. They act as a lobby on behalf of the arms industry, and the political forces that stand to gain from the anti-Russian campaign – but they are not alone.

3) The Israel and Saudi lobbies – The network of organizations that form one of the most powerful lobbies in this country, and throughout Europe, has been a major albeit largely undercover factor in the growth and development of the anti-Russian propaganda blitz.

Back in 2013, when President Obama was seeking congressional authorization for military action in Syria, AIPAC deployed hundreds of lobbyists to Capitol Hill to convince the assembled solons to support him. And it was AIPAC and allied groups that successfully pressured Congress to impose Syrian sanctions.

When the Russians moved into Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad’s government, they came into conflict with the stated objectives of Israelis, who have long sought the overthrow of the Syrian regime. Indeed, Israeli officials have openly stated that they prefer ISIS to Assad – all the better to undercut their principal adversaries in the region, Iran and Hezbollah, both of which are fighting ISIS in Syria on Assad’s behalf.

Acting in concert with AIPAC and other pro-Israel organizations, the very well-funded Saudi lobby has been another factor driving the anti-Russian campaign. The Saudis, in collaboration with the Gulf sheikhdoms, have been funding the “moderate” Islamists who have been fighting to overthrow Assad, and with the Russian intervention they have an interest in pushing for a new cold war. Russia’s ties to Iran make Moscow, by extension, an enemy of the Kingdom, and, in Washington, D.C., the Saudi lobby is quietly fighting that battle in the corridors of power.

4) Ideology – No, the crazed rhetoric coming from “mainstream” Democratic figures like Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff isn’t just an opportunistic way of explaining the failure of Hillary Clinton to win the White House – there’s much more to it than that. Perhaps the most powerful factor driving the anti-Russian polemics we’re hearing from our liberal Democratic politicians and pundits – the kind we haven’t heard in this country since the heyday of McCarthyism – is ideology.

Russia has become an international locus of populist conservatism and nationalism. Against the globalism of the Davos crowd, Putin has enunciated the revival of national sovereignty as the organizing principle of his preferred international order. Against the cultural cosmopolitanism of the Western elites, Russia has championed traditional values. This is a red flag for American liberals, whose war on behalf of political correctness ignores such outdated forms as national boundaries.

Far more serious, however, is Putin’s opposition to the idea of a “liberal international order”: the Russian leader, who clearly doesn’t know his proper place in the world, has stubbornly upheld the validity of a multi-polar world where Washington’s will is far from supreme.

The ideological divide between East and West really started in the run up to the Iraq war, when neoconservatives went ballistic as Putin cleaned out the oligarchs and derided US war propaganda. He has since articulated a consistently disdainful critique of the idea that has shaped US foreign policy since the end of the cold war: the concept of America as a “hyperpower,” dominant all over the globe.

Putin is an unrepentant nationalist, and nationalism in any form – whether Russian, American, French, British, or whatever – is the enemy not only of our liberal globalists, but also of the neoconservatives. This antipathy is what united them during the 2016 election, and it is what brings them together in the Anti-Russian Popular Front. That they are both focused on a campaign to discredit – and impeach – President Trump on the grounds that he’s “Putin’s puppet” marries their twin obsessions in a perfect storm of vitriol.

You don’t have to approve of either Putin or Trump to see the danger in this. As the American political scene undergoes a seismic realignment, the War Party is taking advantage of this plastic moment to augment and strengthen its forces. With Putin as the new Saddam Hussein, and Russia as the new Iraq, our tireless warmongers are at it again. In a modern reenactment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the liberal-neocon alliance is desperately maneuvering for a confrontation with Russia – they’ve even brought George W. Bush out of mothballs!

Whether they can revive the dead carcass of the Bush wing of the GOP remains to be seen: I’ll believe it when I see it. However that may be, I have to sit back and just enjoy this moment, because the sight of our “liberals” hailing Dubya as the voice of Republican sanity goes to show what we knew all along – that these people have no shame.

Trump, Putin & New Cold War: What The New Yorker gets wrong

March 1, 2017

by Brian MacDonald


The New Yorker made quite a splash with its uber long read on ‘Trump, Putin and the New Cold War.’ What a shame then the actual product is sloppy, misinformed tosh masquerading as something of highbrow distinction.

When I was a ‘cub’ reporter in Ireland, juggling study with coverage of anything from Barn Dances to Basketball, payment came from lineage. A hideous measure which promoted loquaciousness at the expense of brevity. The compensation was dreadful, set at the measly sum of twenty pence a line. Thus, making a carefully crafted Rugby report worth about the price of a few beers, a pack of Marlboro and a small pizza. That said, if you padded it out, it might extend to a large one, with extra anchovies.

One day my impressionable young self met an American journalist in Dublin, who told me of a magazine called ‘The New Yorker’ where the generous publishers paid one dollar a WORD. Meaning its sports writers, if it had any, probably eschewed lager, chips and bus journeys for oysters, champagne, and travel by Concorde.

Twenty years later, assuming the title has kept up with inflation, the writers must be on gallons of the fizzy stuff. Because they are clearly taking the piss. How else to explain this March’s lead story, which amounts to a small anti-Russia novella that manages, over 13,000 words, to deliver zero new information to readers. But instead delivers plenty of elementary mistakes and misrepresentations, suggesting the three authors (yes, three!) phoned it in.

This is lackadaisical, trite, obtuse, fallacious hackery at its most inglorious. Penned by a trio of long-winded malingerers, shameless prevaricators and ghastly runtish, repellent, cheerless, petulant gnomes with an ingrained and sophistic loathing of Russia. And here they are trying to push the word-o-meter to its maximum.

Vorsprung Durch Technik?

To be fair, the magazine’s retro cover has been a hit on social media. Although I find the Cyrillic masthead pretentious. Then there’s the introduction to the essay itself. Featuring hellish black and blood red colors depicting an upside down St Basil’s Cathedral shooting a laser beam into the White House, like a bad illustration from a sci-fi comic book, designed by a dyslexic bat. But, then again, all art is subjective really, isn’t it?

As ever, when Westerners profile Russia expectations are pretty low, but these wordsmiths even conspire to live down to the usual humble prospects. David Remnick, who has been editor of the title since 1998 and is evidently as stale as ten-day-old bread, is joined by Evan Osnos, a new name on the Russia beat. And their man in Moscow is Joshua Yaffa, one of those “fellow” chaps, representing a US State Department-funded concern called “New America.”

In the parallel universe The New Yorker occupies when it comes to Russia, in common with pretty much all its peers, everything Moscow does is nefarious and if America makes mistakes, it’s never intentional. The usual Uncle Sam as an eternal toddler stuff, which must always be forgiven because of its cute smile. As a result, Washington’s open interference in Russia politics is never mentioned.

For instance, a balanced article could draw on 1996 when Americans openly intervened to deliver Boris Yeltsin to victory over the less favorable Gennady Zyuganov. Or the outspoken support of US officials for the 2011-2012 Bolotnaya protests. In this case, the serving US ambassador even invited the leaders to his embassy.

Bad Kremlin

Instead, it’s bash Russia time in an opus riddled with fundamental errors. Like when it pores over “anti-Moscow ‘color revolutions,’ in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine, which deposed corrupt, Soviet-era leaders.” Without apparently realizing how Ukraine’s twice-shafted Viktor Yanukovich was a convicted petty criminal in the USSR and upon its fall in 1991 was a regional transport executive with all the power of a spent light bulb. Or how it claims former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev “made a crucial decision not to veto an American-backed UN Security Council resolution in favor of military action in Libya.”

Because this is just disingenuous, given how Russia agreed to the establishment of a ‘no-fly zone’ over the unfortunate country, not the full-scale NATO “regime change” operation that followed. At no point does The New Yorker acknowledge Moscow’s subsequent disgust at what it perceived as an outrageous breach of trust by its Western partners.

While these are especially blatant examples, there are many others. But given the length of the text, the easiest way to disassemble is to unravel it piece by piece. Here are the ‘highlights,’ but there were many more to choose from.

NEW YORKER:  Five years ago, he (Putin) blamed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square. “She set the tone for some of our actors in the country and gave the signal,” Putin said. “They heard this and, with the support of the US State Department, began active work.” (No evidence was provided for the accusation).

REALITY: As mentioned above, the then US ambassador, Michael McFaul invited the protest leaders to the US embassy. Which, given the relative support levels and the anti-establishment nature of both movements, would have been precisely the same as his Russian equivalent bringing Occupy Wall Street members to his consulate. Furthermore, the magazine doesn’t consider that perhaps Putin received this information from intelligence agencies? As we have just seen in America, they don’t seem to need to provide evidence for their findings to become accepted gospel truth these days. In fact, this entire article is precisely based on the assumption of how “the DNC hacks, many analysts believe, were just a skirmish in a larger war against Western institutions and alliances” (to quote the intro). As we all know, there is no actual proof of Kremlin involvement in the DNC hacks. Indeed, WikiLeaks itself has said the Russian government was not its source. And its envoy claimed that a “disgusted” whistleblower was responsible.

NEW YORKER:  In early January, two weeks before the Inauguration, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, released a declassified report concluding that Putin had ordered an influence campaign to harm Clinton’s election prospects, fortify Donald Trump’s, and “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.” The declassified report provides more assertion than evidence. Intelligence officers say that this was necessary to protect their information-gathering methods. Critics of the report had repeatedly noted that intelligence agencies, in the months before the Iraq War, endorsed faulty assessments concerning weapons of mass destruction. But the intelligence community was deeply divided over the actual extent of Iraq’s weapons development; the question of Russia’s responsibility for cyberattacks in the 2016 election has produced no such tumult. Seventeen federal intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia was responsible for the hacking.

REALITY: This is not entirely true. As many others have pointed out, the NSA (i.e., the agency most likely to know, because it can monitor communications) has offered only ‘moderate’ support.

NEW YORKER:  Another Administration official said that, during the transfer of power, classified intelligence had shown multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russian representatives, but nothing that rose to the level of aiding or coordinating the interference with the election.

REALITY: Obama’s team had much the same level of contacts. In fact, his chief “Russia hand,” McFaul, even visited Moscow during the 2008 transition to speak to Russian officials.

And there was nothing wrong in what McFaul did. For example, Bill Clinton’s point man on Russia and Eastern Europe was considered a source of intelligence information and classified as “a special unofficial contact” by SVR. The man concerned, Strobe Talbot, correctly pointed out how it was an exaggeration of chats he had with the Russian ambassador to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov.

Additionally, Henry Kissinger has maintained intensive contacts with Moscow for decades. Yet every recent American president has sought his advice. And George W. Bush’s Russia expert, Elizabeth Jones, actually grew up in Moscow and attended local Russian schools.

NEW YORKER:  Russian security concerns were hardly the only issue at stake with respect to the expansion of NATO; Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other countries in the region were now sovereign and wanted protection… Putin, in his first few years in office, was relatively solicitous of the West. He was the first foreign leader to call George W. Bush after the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. When he spoke at the Bundestag, later that month, he addressed its members in German, the language that he had spoken as a KGB agent in Dresden. He even entertained the notion of Russian membership in NATO. America’s invasion of Iraq, which Putin opposed, marked a change in his thinking.

REALITY: Protection from what exactly? In the 1990’s, nobody was threatening anyone and Russia was both on its knees and desperately trying to join the Western fold, under the famously pro-American Boris Yeltsin. Indeed, as acknowledged by the magazine, during his early years in office, Putin continued the same posture, before becoming embittered by NATO expansion and the illegal Iraq War. There have been countless academic articles, from genuine experts, backing up this view. And even George Kennan, the most celebrated American Russia analyst of the twentieth century, agreed. Thus, NATO’s overreach eastwards has caused the exact problem that NATO purportedly exists to circumvent: insecurity in Europe. In this sense, it was like employing a team of golden retrievers to clean up shredded canine hair. Also, is it such a big surprise that the illegal invasion of a sovereign country, based on obviously false evidence, without a UN mandate, would affect the thinking of a government which regards its UN veto as an important defense tool?

NEW YORKER:  He (Putin) was alarmed by the Obama Administration’s embrace of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. And he was infuriated by the US-led assault on Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

REALITY: This is presented as something irrational, and comes without proper context. However, given that Russia is home to around 20 million Muslims, and has a history of problems with Islamist terrorism, what’s unusual about Putin being concerned about secular, stable (if obnoxious) regimes in the Middle East being replaced by (obviously even more obnoxious) radical Islamists? Also, he was infuriated about Qaddafi, because as mentioned earlier, the mandate the UN agreed to was for a ‘no-fly zone’ – not a fully fledged NATO campaign of airstrikes, coordinated with the opposition.

NEW YORKER:  Russian television, of course, covered the siege of Aleppo as an enlightened act of liberation, free of any brutality or abuses.

REALITY: Which is more or less exactly how American and British TV covered the “liberation” of Baghdad in 2003. Check out this extraordinary report from BBC’s Andrew Marr. Who later became the channel’s political editor.

NEW YORKER:  And yet Russian military planners and officials in the Kremlin regarded Georgia as a failure in the realm of international propaganda.

REALITY: It’s not hard to see why. Even to this day, US news outlets (and the aforementioned McFaul who definitely knows better) continue to insist that Russia attacked Georgia. But in actual fact, the EU’s independent investigation into the conflict ruled that Georgia started the war.

NEW YORKER:  The United States, meanwhile, had its own notable cyberwar success. In 2008, in tandem with Israeli intelligence, the US launched the first digital attack on another country’s critical infrastructure, deploying a “worm,” known as Stuxnet, that was designed to cause centrifuges in Iran to spin out of control and thereby delay its nuclear development.

REALITY: This admitted act of aggression is given a sentence, but an incident in Estonia in 2007 (never proved to have been Russian state ordered) is highlighted over many paragraphs complete with quotes from the country’s former President Toomas Ilves.

NEW YORKER:  Obama’s adviser Benjamin Rhodes said that Russia’s aggressiveness had accelerated since the first demonstrations on Maidan Square, in Kiev. “When the history books are written, it will be said that a couple of weeks on the Maidan is where this went from being a Cold War-style competition to a much bigger deal,” he said. “Putin’s unwillingness to abide by any norms began at that point. It went from provocative to disrespectful of any international boundary.”

REALITY: Even though they have 13,000 words to play with, our heroes never consider other aspects of Maidan. Such as, was it normal for serving US and EU officials to turn up at the rallies and more or less encourage protestors to overthrow their democratically elected government? Indeed, it looked like the rock star style adulation went to their heads. Furthermore, what authority did US official’s Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt have to choose the subsequent regime in Kiev?

NEW YORKER:  Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, has expressed concern that Russian hackers are also trying to disrupt the German political scene, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is standing for reelection as a stalwart supporter of NATO and the EU.

REALITY: German intelligence recently admitted that it found no evidence of Russian election hacking after insinuations of such activity was breathlessly carried by popular media last year. Notably, the “all clear” given to Moscow was ignored by the same outlets. Also, this whole premise is a bit illogical, seeing as the only realistic alternative to Merkel – the SPD led by Martin Schultz – is even more pro-EU than her CDU party. And Schultz himself has spent most of his adult life working in Brussels, home to both the EU and NATO.

NEW YORKER:  While officials in the Obama Administration struggled with how to respond to the cyberattacks, it began to dawn on them that a torrent of “fake news” reports about Hillary Clinton was being generated in Russia and through social media.

REALITY: It’s been proven the “fake news” was primarily generated in America itself and in Macedonia. Not Russia.

NEW YORKER:  Russia’s political hierarchy and official press greeted Trump’s Inauguration with unreserved glee.

REALITY: Given Clinton’s aggressive anti-Russia rhetoric, during which she compared Putin to Adolf Hitler, why is this a surprise? Especially when Trump had spoken of trying to mend fences with Moscow? The words “straw”“at” and “clutching” come to mind.

And we shall leave it there. Because I’ve just breached the 2,500-word barrier myself and am in danger of resembling those I reprimand. Meanwhile, dear reader you may well have bitten off all your fingernails by now. If you’ve made it this far.

As for The New Yorker, their approach to covering Russia appears to be inspired by the great Samuel Beckett and his wonderful observation: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Perhaps they’d benefit from following the philosophy of my late grandfather, Paddy, born the same year as the writer, who used to say, spade in hand, “you may as well do a job properly as do it at all.” He was right too.


Nein! German Expert Says “Hitler’s Phone” a Fake

February 25, 2017


“Hitler’s telephone,” which sold for more than $240,000 at auction last week, is a fake, a German expert says. The phone has raised eyebrows among antiques specialists.

The phone, engraved with swastikas, eagles and, of course, Adolph Hitler’s name, “is clearly a fake,” head of Collections at the Frankfurt Museum for Communication Frank Gnegel told Frankfurt’s daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Gnegel points to oddities in the phone’s construction and quality in making his claim.

“The actual telephone was manufactured by Siemens & Halske, but the handset comes from an English telephone,” he noted — but such phones were never produced this way. “It must have been assembled later in England.”

The auction house that sold the phone, Alexander Historical Auctions, said that a subsidiary of Siemens in the UK that worked closely with the company’s German headquarters until the outbreak of war had designed the receiver.

“Why should a company in Great Britain construct an earpiece for Hitler before the war?” Gnegel asks. “Siemens would certainly have built a new telephone for Hitler. The peeling red paint is another clue. “Siemens would have built a proper example from dyed plastic, instead of unprofessionally painting over a black telephone. Everything to do with Hitler was produced in a high-quality fashion; why should an engraving be simply be painted over?”

The phone’s rotary dial is also suspect, the expert said: Hitler would have been hand-connected to his subordinates through a telephone exchange.

DW points out that Gnegel is the chief of one of the most important collections of telephone history in Europe.

Gnegel is not the only expert casting doubts on the authenticity of the phone. The Telephone Museum, an American non-profit, had several pointed questions for the auction house on Facebook.

Dutch telephone restorer and blogger Arwin Schaddelee has also raised questions, issues of quality among them. “The engraving of the name is unevenly done, with the D particularly deformed. Certainly not the quality you would expect for the Führer,” he wrote in a blog post earlier this month


“Hitler’s Phone” a laughable fake

March 1, 2017

by Christopher Lihou


This pathetic affair is a case of wishful thinking on the part of those who have paid huge money for this “artifact” and desperately want to believe this phone is genuine. If we look at the first photo below, we can see that the words “MODELL SIEMENS” have been impressed into the plastic with a hot metal die, probably part of the injection mold used to create the shell of the phone. All the letters are clean and straight and the same size. The words “ADOLF HITLER” on the other hand, have been crudely carved into the plastic with a Dremel tool or electric pencil. The D is larger than the A, the O is above and not on the same level, the L does not make a right angle but looks like a hockey stick, in short, the name is extremely crudely inscribed. Given the superb level of craftsmanship in German manufacture of the period, and given that this phone was supposedly for the Fuehrer himself, whose every possession was of the highest quality made by a highly precise manufacturing infrastructure, this kind of alleged workmanship is almost risible. It stretches credibility to the breaking point. Similarly, the eagle and swastika seem to have also been carved with a Dremel tool, but with slightly more skill.

The paint does seem to have genuine age, with wear, crazing and flaking due to drying out. Without examining under magnification the paint down in the recesses of the eagle and swastika, and the name, one cannot tell from this photo if the Dremel tool was recently applied to an old red-painted phone with age on it, and the recesses then filled in with new red paint, or whether the tool was applied to the phone when it was originally black, and it was then painted 70 years ago, in which case the paint in the recesses would be similarly old and dried out. Regardless, the quality of the carving is so poor as to defy the possibility that this phone could have been used by Hitler.

Then we come to two photos of the case, which is probably an old hat-box for some kind of helmet. It is most probably of the period, and has a wartime “envelope re-use” label with the name of the alleged owner. Well, all right, maybe he did use this label, not for re-using an envelope, but to put his name on this box. The box clearly has nothing to do with the phone, having labels from Maiden’s Hotel in Delhi, Canadian Railways, Carlton Hotel in Montreal, Kaiserhof Hotel in Berlin, and whatever else. Colonel Payner (?) must have been an extraordinarily well-traveled person in the midst of a war…. Certainly Hitler would not have carried “his phone” to New Delhi in this box, or on Canada Rail, as both India and Canada were staunchly British at that time. (Or could he? In some alternative reality or parallel universe, maybe Germany did conquer India, and Hitler passed the news back to Berlin on this very phone.)

A nice old box, which on E-bay might fetch all of $75.00.

In short, the phone is either a new fake or an old fake, which could be determined by testing the paint in the recesses of the Dremel carving to see if it is dried out or not.

To sum up, either recently or soon after the war, which could only be determined by testing the red paint in the Dremel carving, someone pulled a fast one on a gullible English buyer.


Threats and Vandalism Leave American Jews on Edge in Trump Era

February. 28, 2017

by Alan Blinder, Serge F. Kovaleski and Adam Goldman

The New York Times

The high-pitched, rambling voice on the telephone was disguised and garbled, and warned of a slaughter of Jews. The voice spoke of a bomb loaded with shrapnel and of an imminent “blood bath.” Moments later, the caller hung up.

The mid-January threat to a Jewish community center turned out to be a hoax. The warning was one of at least 100 that Jewish community centers and schools have reported since the beginning of the year, a menacing pattern that has upended daily life for people in 33 states and prompted a federal investigation that has come under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers, security specialists and Jewish leaders.

Combined with the recent vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Missouri and Pennsylvania, the calls have stoked fears that a virulent anti-Semitism has increasingly taken hold in the early days of the Trump administration.

At the beginning of an address to Congress on Tuesday night, Mr. Trump said the episodes, along with last week’s attack on two Indian immigrants in Kansas, “remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.”

In a meeting with state attorneys general earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump suggested that the threats and destruction might be a politically coordinated effort to “make people look bad,” according to the attorneys general of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

“First, he said the acts were reprehensible,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who asked Mr. Trump about the episodes during a session at the White House. “Second, he said: ‘And you’ve got to be careful; it could be the reverse. This could be the reverse, trying to make people look bad.’”

Jewish leaders denounced Mr. Trump’s comments to the attorneys general, and some urged the federal government to accelerate its investigation of the threatening calls, the latest of which came on Monday.

“The person or persons doing this have broken the law, and it’s the responsibility of our system to investigate it and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible,” said David Posner, the director of strategic performance for the JCC Association of North America.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been leading an inquiry since January, and a federal law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss a continuing investigation, said that a single person may be making the threats using an internet calling service. Independent analysts, including extremism researchers and retired law enforcement officials, share that theory and said that, so far, they have seen no evidence of an organized effort.

Though some people had suspected that the calls were recorded and automated, there was evidence to the contrary. In Milwaukee, for instance, a switchboard operator asked questions and received responses from the caller, said Mark Shapiro, the president of the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

Mr. Posner said an F.B.I. official had emphasized that the investigation was a priority for the bureau, involving experts in behavioral analysis, civil rights and hate groups.

“Agents and analysts across the country are working to identify and stop those responsible,” Stephen Richardson, the bureau’s assistant director for the criminal investigative division, said. “We will work to make sure that people of all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship.”

According to Mr. Posner’s group, more than 80 community centers and day schools in the United States and Canada have been threatened, some repeatedly. The calls have come in five rounds, most recently on Monday, when there were 31 threats.

Many of the calls have prompted evacuations and bomb sweeps, forcing schoolchildren from classrooms and employees to push cribs full of infants into parking lots. Retirees have been rushed from swimming pools, and offices and streets shut down.

The threats are frequent and alarming, community center leaders said.

“My initial reaction was, ‘This is our turn,’” said Karen Kolodny, the executive director of the JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, N.Y., where officials responded to a bomb threat on Monday. “My reaction was not complete shock. We thought it was going to happen at some point.”

F.B.I. data shows that most hate crimes are linked to race, ethnicity or ancestry. In 2015, the most recent year for which federal data has been released, the authorities recorded 664 episodes they classified as anti-Jewish.

Analysts said they believed that anti-Semitic commentary online before last year’s presidential election had gradually escalated into more sinister behavior toward the Jewish institutions, which have long prepared for threats and often employ private security.

“You started out with the hostile tweets,” said Mitchell D. Silber, who was director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department. “You moved to the bomb threats against JCCs and other institutions, and now you have a physical manifestation at the cemeteries with the gravestones knocked over.”

Although the F.B.I. is investigating damage to headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, the episode there, as well as a similar one near St. Louis, is not believed to have been the work of anyone behind the bomb threats.

The bureau’s inquiry into the bomb threats is likely complicated by the reality that criminals have embraced new technology, said Ronald T. Hosko, one of Mr. Richardson’s predecessors as an assistant F.B.I. director.

“This is unlikely to be little twisted Johnny calling from his parents’ house,” Mr. Hosko said.

Instead, Mr. Hosko suggested, the caller could be relying on libraries, restaurants or other public places with internet access, sites that might be equipped with surveillance cameras that the F.B.I. could use to help identify someone who frequented those places at the dates and times of the calls. Each new threat, Mr. Hosko said, increased the odds of an arrest.

“Every one of those contacts presents another opportunity,” he said. “It’s another dot in the pattern analysis.”

As the threats have poured in, from Albuquerque to Nashville to Providence, there have been rising worries over whether people might stay away from the centers, which also serve people of other religious backgrounds. Some have fretted that the intense public attention might be encouraging whoever is behind the calls.

“Given that this is happening wave after wave, there are concerns for people’s families, and people are concerned about whether they should still send their kids to JCCs,” said Oren Segal, the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “When communities start second-guessing like this, it is incredibly alarming and disruptive and serves the purpose of whoever is carrying out these threats.”

But Jewish institution leaders, in interviews and in conversations with one another, have expressed more frustration than fear.

“By attacking the JCC, they’re really attacking what is best about America: the diversity, the pluralism, the inclusion that one faith community can be as welcoming to other faith communities and demonstrate that through deeds on the ground,” Mr. Posner said. “That’s something we will never surrender.”

Alan Rappeport and Vivian Yee contributed reporting


Hundreds barricaded as Israel evacuates West Bank settlement homes

Police said the evacuation had proceeded relatively calmly, but that at least 11 officers had sustained light injures including bites by protesters, and one police officer suffered a head wound.

February 28, 2017

by Gili Cohen and Yotam Berger


Hundreds of police officers on Tuesday evacuated nine homes slated for demolition in the West Bank settlement of Ofra. The High Court of Justice had ordered the destruction of the homes, which were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Hundreds of youths barricaded themselves in one of the houses. The families that had been living in the other eight homes had made it clear they sought a quiet evacuation.

Police said the evacuation had proceeded relatively calmly, but that at least 11 officers had sustained light injures including bites by protesters, and one police officer suffered a head wound.

A few dozen youths had to be dragged out of the houses by police. Others walked out on their own, accompanied by police. Two protesters were arrested for assaulting officers, police said. The evacuation continued until late Tuesday evening because a few dozen mostly school-age youths remained on the roof of one of the houses.

Some shouted at the police to refuse orders, or called out, “Take off the uniform,” “You are a shame to the uniform,” “You help murderers, if there’s a terror attack tomorrow, it will be your fault.”

However, in general the protesters heeded calls from the leadership at Ofra not to resort to physical violence.

Toward evening, worried mothers gathered at the house still to be evacuated. “With all due respect, come down now,” one mother told her son, who complied. “Grandpa says you have to come down now,” a teenage girl told her brother, and he too complied.

On Monday, the High Court of Justice rejected a request by the occupants of the nine homes to have the buildings sealed rather than torn down. The court had ordered the homes demolished by Sunday.

The homes in question were built illegally in 2008, and the same year the Palestinian landowners and the Yesh Din human rights group petitioned the High Court for their removal. Although the court issued an interim injunction against occupying the buildings, the families moved in anyway.

The High Court ordered the demolition of the nine homes two years ago. They were supposed to have been evacuated and dismantled no later than February 8, but the deadline was deferred for a month.


Winners and losers from President Trump’s big speech to Congress

February 28, 2017

by Chris Cillizza

The Washington Post

President Trump delivered a strong speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, an address sure to embolden both the chief executive and congressional Republicans who support him.

I watched, tweeted and took some notes about the best and the worst of the night. My picks are below.


* Donald Trump: This was the best “big” speech he has given as president. It may well have been the best speech Trump has given since he entered politics way back in June 2015. Trump didn’t walk away from his decidedly dark vision of the current state of the country, but his overall tone was more conciliatory and optimistic than I’ve ever heard him.

Trump hit a few very nice notes: His condemnation of threats against Jewish community centers at the start of the speech was a very nice grace note, and his honoring of the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in the recent Yemen raid was a remarkably powerful moment.

Critics will rightly point out that several of Trump’s claims — about the rising violence in America, for example — missed the factual mark by a wide margin. And, at times, Trump seemed to be on the verge of returning to his confrontational self — particularly when discussing immigration and the border wall.

But, top to bottom, Trump delivered both a forceful defense of his nationalist worldview — “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America,” he said at one point — and a proof point that he can be, dare I say it, presidential when the moment demands it.

* Congressional Republicans: Anyone who tells you House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) weren’t a little bit worried about how Trump would do on Tuesday night — and what that would mean for his ability to rally Republicans going forward — is lying to you. Trump’s speech will go a long way to quieting the nerves of congressional Republicans and convincing them that Trump might just be capable of being the president they desperately hope he can be. His address will serve as a validation for the likes of Ryan and McConnell, who have steadfastly supported Trump throughout the rough seas of his first month in office.

*Polarization: If you needed to understand just how polarized our politics are, the repeated shots of Republicans rising to cheer Trump while Democrats sat on their hands would do it. The theater of the State of the Union is always a bit overdone but what was clear from the start on Tuesday night was that Republicans were bound and determined to cheer for virtually everything Trump said and that Democrats were bound and determined to do the exact opposite. Just watch this clip.

* Stephen K. Bannon and Ivanka Trump: If you are looking for the two biggest influencers in terms of what Trump said and how he said it, look no further than Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter. The unapologetic nationalism and indictment of the political system was pure Bannon. The push for paid family leave and focus on education was all Ivanka Trump.* Joe Scarborough and Elijah E. Cummings: Symbolism can be empty. But it can be important too. Kudos to Scarborough, a conservative Republican House member turned cable news host, and Cummings, a prominent Democratic Maryland congressman, for sitting together to show that just because we disagree doesn’t mean we have to be disagreeable

* Joe Biden: Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And the State of the Union speech — which this was in all but name — was always a moment for Biden (and his face of a thousand expressions) to shine. Without Biden to watch as the president delivered his speech, the night felt slightly less momentous.

* The devilish details of replacing the Affordable Care Act: In the run-up to the Trump speech, Republican members of Congress voiced hopes that Trump might give them guidance about how he’d like to replace the Affordable Care Act. What Trump did talk about — lowering the price of prescription drugs, keeping the preexisting conditions provision — are widely popular idea. The issue, of course, is how to pay for all of this if you strip out the rest of the elements of the health law.

* People rooting for Trump’s imminent demise: He’s not going anywhere, folks. And that speech suggests he might have more upside than almost anyone thought.


US stocks sharply higher on Trump speech

Stocks on Wall Street have jumped as markets appear to like Donald Trump’s softer tone. The US President’s first speech to Congress failed to provide any details on his economic policy, but investors looked unfazed.

March 1, 2017


Shares of Wall Street-listed companies surged back to records on Wednesday minutes after trading opened.

The Dow topped 21,000 for the first time as investors felt there was a somewhat softer tone in Donald Trump’s congressional address Tuesday night.

Two minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.9 percent. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.8 percent, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also advanced 0.8 percent.

Earlier in the day, the greenback had extended gains against the Japanese yen, while the euro dropped 0.2 percent, which analysts said had been prompted less by Donald Trump, but by renewed speculation about a possible March rate hike by the US Federal Reserve.

European shares gained in morining trading, with results driving specific stock moves, while basic resources were the top sector performers after The US president pledged $1 trillion (49 billion euros) of infrastructure spending.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.7 percent,with Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 outperforming peers, gaining 1 percent in early trading.

In his long-awaited first speech to the US Congress, Donald Trump reiterated his intention to broadly overhaul the US immigration system and promised massive tax relief for the middle class, but stopped short of giving details.

Disappointment among analysts

Market analysts were keen to see if Trump would outline a specific blueprint on what he has described as a “phenomenal” tax cut and infrastructure spending, promises that have stoked a global equities rally after his November election.

But Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at forex firm OANDA, described the speech as a “highly scripted damp squib.”

“President Trump’s address was high on rhetoric and light on detail, leaving the market underwhelmed,” he noted in a commentary.

Daisuke Uno, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Bank also said that Trump had just repeated what he had said, adding that the US dollar would have been sold on disappointment, but that a “barrage of comments from the Fed” had overwhelmed that.

Kumiko Ishikawa, FX market analyst at Sony Financial Holdings, shared his view. “Before Trump’s speech, investors were reluctant to fully price in the increased possibilities of a March rate hike. But now that it’s over without turbulence, the dollar is extending its rally,” he said in a note to investors.

Asian market relief

Investors in Tokyo breathed a sigh of relief that the US President did not deliver any unwelcome surprises regarding future US trade policy, which Donald Trump believes should be more protectionist.

As he held off from criticism of Japan and other nations he has previously accused of taking advantage of the US through unfair trade practices, Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 ended the day 1.44 percent higher at 19,393.54. Japan’s broader Topix index of all first-section issues gained 1.16 percent.

The rise in the US dollar against the yen also boosted Japanese shares because it’ll make the country’s exports more competitive on the American market.

The Mexican peso, seen as the most vulnerable to Trump’s protectionist policies and harsh rhetoric, also took his speech in stride. The peso was little changed at 20.097 per dollar.


Neo-McCarthyite furor around Russia is counterproductive

February 21,2017

by Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Washington Post

The sacking of Michael Flynn as national security adviser has intensified the frenzy over possible Russian interference in the election. The New York Times published an editorial comparing the Flynn imbroglio to Watergate, expressing “shock and incredulity” that Trump campaign officials were in contact with Russian intelligence officials, demanding a congressional investigation of “whether people at the highest levels of the United States government have aided and abetted the interests of a nation that has tried to thwart American foreign policy since the Cold War.” President Trump, of course, scorns the charges as “a ruse” and “ridiculous.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called an emergency meeting of Democrats to plan how to spotlight the issue.

When Washington heads into one of these feeding frenzies, judgment is often the first casualty. It’s worth remembering what is at stake.

After the election, we learned that the CIA and the FBI — with the more tentative agreement of other intelligence agencies — concluded that Russian intelligence officials ran a covert operation that hacked into and leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, with the purpose of hurting Clinton. Upon reviewing the still-secret report, President Obama, after affirming the results of the election, punished the Russians, expelling 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives and imposing other restrictions.

To date, the evidence released publicly for this explosive charge — in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Jan. 6 report — is so threadbare that the Times conceded that it “contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions.” Clearly, an independent commission should be created to report on what was done and what should be done to protect against it in the future. It is shameful that Republicans in the Congress have chosen to block this effort.

The sacking of Flynn also raises fundamental concerns.

According to intelligence agency leaks, intercepted conversations between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Flynn, then the incoming national security adviser for President-elect Trump, suggest that Flynn may have urged the Russians not to overreact to the Obama sanctions. Putin chose not to respond in a traditional tit for tat. According to the leaks, intelligence agencies went to acting attorney general Sally Q.Yates with concerns that Flynn might be subject to Russian blackmail. She took those concerns to Trump. Weeks later, Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Pence, among others, about the substance of his conversations.

But the Times editorial board and others suggest that mere contact with Russian officials is somehow nefarious, if not criminal — and that to suggest better relations are in the offing with a new president is virtual treason.

This is simply bizarre. Trump spoke positively of Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign, stating he would seek to enlist Russia in the fight against the Islamic State. If Flynn was reassuring the Russian ambassador that Obama’s sanctions wouldn’t dissuade Trump, he was doing what any national security adviser might do for a president-elect.

Flynn is — as anyone reading his writings would discover — unfit to head the National Security Council. But talking to the Russian ambassador or to purported “Russian intelligence officials” about the intentions of the incoming president is hardly subversive.

What should be of concern is the leaking of officially classified and intercepted telephone conversations — in what was clearly a successful effort to target and take out Flynn. That Trump has railed against the intelligence leaks should not discredit this concern. The intelligence community’s use of leaks of secret information to undermine a president constitutionally elected by the American people — no matter how unfit we consider him to be — is an ominous precedent.

Trump’s expressed hope for cooperating with Russia raised significant alarm at high levels of the national security establishment. The exaggerated Russian threat helps justify bloated military budgets and unify increasingly fractious allies. As Robert Hunter, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, recently observed: “Allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election campaign become a tool to limit, if not cripple, President Trump’s attempts to change the downward course of U.S. and Western relations with Russia.”

Sadly, common sense is getting lost in the frenzy. Clinton supporters inflate the importance of the purported Russian hacks to excuse her painful defeat. Democrats see the scandal as a way to undermine Trump.

In the targeting of Trump, too many liberals have joined in fanning a neo-McCarthyite furor, working to discredit those who seek to deescalate U.S.-Russian tensions, and dismissing anyone expressing doubts about the charges of hacking or collusion as a Putin apologist. But, as the Nation has editorialized, “skepticism isn’t treason; instead it’s essential to establishing the truth.”

In fact, better relations with Russia are in our national interest. Cooperation on nuclear proliferation, arms control, terrorism and other issues is vital to our security. Consolidating a zone of peace in Europe cannot happen without Russian engagement. As a leading oil producer, Russia must be part of the global effort to address climate change. Increasingly dangerous steps between two nuclear powers — a Russian spy ship off our coast, near misses of planes over Syria, provocative NATO exercises on the Russian border — could easily spiral out of control.

Foreign interference in U.S. elections is unacceptable. Leaks of secret intelligence to discredit an elected president are bad precedent. We need an independent investigation that reports publicly on what happened and what steps are necessary to protect against both. What we don’t need is a replay of Cold War hysteria that cuts off debate, slanders skeptics and undermines any effort to explore areas of agreement with Russia in our own national interest.

































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