TBR News March 10, 2019

Mar 10 2019

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

Washington, D.C. March 10, 2019: “ Last weekend, I attended a showing of a Russian surveillance tape at  very expensive Dupont Circle apartment.

Present were the hostess, the wife of a very high level administration bureaucrat, a number of members of Congress and several foreign diplomats.

The film was in awful taste but genuine, not like the reams of invented photo shop junk being aired on daily YouTube productions.

It was made by Russian intelligence in Moscow and, in short, shows Donald Trump, quite naked, being urinated on by a very attractive Russian woman.

This is called ‘The Golden Shower’ and does not show our Stunning President at his best. Trump has a large, rubbery food bag with a navel that would accommodate a pineapple and one also notes that nature was not kind to Trump.

He is, to be entirely honest, hung like a stud cricket.

Viewers generally expressed disgust and at least one prominent member of the Trump government announced their intention to resign their duties.

While a number of the men laughed, many of the women were disgusted and said so very often and very loudely, after the showing.

It is intended to release this disgusting bit of history to the voting public in advance of the next election.

I wonder how the Jesus Freaks who think Trump is wonderful and lust after an autographed Bible will view this?

“Why that’s just what Reverend Timmy does with the Girls Choir” many will no doubt say.

It’s acceptable if Jesus or his salesmen used to do it, seems to be the trend here.”


The Table of Contents

  • U.S. Air Force Secretary Wilson to resign, leaving new vacancy
  • Exclusive: In budget, Trump to ask Congress for $8.6 billion for border wall
  • Elizabeth Warren is right – we must break up Facebook, Google and Amazon
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Treatment of unvaccinated Oregon boy with tetanus cost nearly $1m, CDC says
  • A startup says used tissues are safer than vaccinations. Should you trust it?
  • Is the Earth Flat?
  • The CIA’s Psychic Spies
  • Germany: Storms halt trains, disrupt motorways



U.S. Air Force Secretary Wilson to resign, leaving new vacancy

March 8, 2019

by Phil Stewart


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who was considered a top candidate to become the next secretary of defense, said on Friday she has decided to resign and return to academia, leaving another vacant post at the top level of the Pentagon.

Wilson confirmed the news, first reported by Reuters, in a tweet here, saying she had informed President Donald Trump of her plans to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso. She plans to step down on May 31.

The resignation leaves another senior Pentagon job open and follows the December departure of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit over policy differences with Trump and who had hand-picked Wilson for the post.

Like Mattis, Wilson was a staunch advocate of alliances like NATO and firmly supported Mattis’ push to refocus the U.S. military on higher-end competition with China and Russia after more than a decade-and-a-half of counterinsurgency campaigns. “It has been a privilege to serve alongside our Airmen over the past two years and I am proud of the progress that we have made in restoring our nation’s defenses,” Wilson, 58, said in her resignation letter to Trump.

Trump congratulated Wilson and, in a tweet, thanked her for her service. here

A former Republican lawmaker who was close to Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, Wilson would have been the first woman to take the Pentagon’s top job, if she had been nominated. By all accounts, her nomination would have had strong support in Congress.

Mattis’ deputy, Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, is now performing the role in an acting capacity in what is widely seen as an audition for the position. Wilson’s resignation could add to speculation that Shanahan may remain in the post of defense secretary.

Other top Pentagon positions, including the deputy defense secretary, are either being filled provisionally or are vacant.

“Everyone she has talked to wants her to stay, but she thinks the time is right to take on this new challenge,” a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official added Wilson was not resigning under pressure and had not been asked to step down.

Wilson informed Pence of her decision earlier in the week and Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein on Thursday, the official said.

The University of Texas Board of Regents still has to approve Wilson’s selection to head its El Paso campus, but she is the sole finalist.


It is unclear who might succeed Wilson and inherit steep challenges facing the Air Force, which include the creation of Trump’s “Space Force,” a new branch of military service that will carve out some responsibilities current done by the Air Force. The Air Force is also reeling from a fresh scandal involving sexual assault.

Wilson was the first Air Force Academy graduate to ever take the highest position in her service, and counted a robust resume that included a decade as a Republican lawmaker in Congress. She also served on the National Security Council staff during the George H. W. Bush administration, and as president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

After joining the Pentagon, Wilson visited Iraq and Afghanistan and came away concerned about the wear and tear on an Air Force that she thought was too small, especially as the Pentagon shifted its focus to competition with Russia and China.

Last fall, she predicted the Air Force would need to grow sharply over the next decade or so, boosting the number of operational squadrons by nearly a quarter to stay ahead of Moscow and Beijing.

She told reporters at the time that the preliminary analysis drew partly from classified intelligence about possible future threats, showing that Air Force, at its current size, would be unable to preserve the United States’ edge.

Wilson estimated the Air Force would need about more 40,000 personnel as part of the plan to have a total of 386 operational squadrons, compared with 312 today. The U.S. Air Force had 401 squadrons in 1987, at the peak of the Cold War.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell


Exclusive: In budget, Trump to ask Congress for $8.6 billion for border wall

March 10, 2019

by Roberta Rampton


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Monday will ask the U.S. Congress for an additional $8.6 billion to help pay for the wall he promised to build on the southern border with Mexico to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking, officials familiar with his 2020 budget request told Reuters.

The demand is more than six times what Congress allocated for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 percent more than Trump has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year.

Democrats, who oppose the wall as unnecessary and immoral, control the U.S. House of Representatives, making it unlikely the Republican president’s request will win congressional passage. Republicans control the Senate.

The proposal comes on the heels of a bruising battle with Congress over wall funding that resulted in a five-week partial federal government shutdown that ended in January, and could touch off a sequel just ahead of a trifecta of ominous fiscal deadlines looming this fall.

Asked on Fox News Sunday about the new funding request and if there would be another budget fight over Trump’s wall, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said, “I suppose there will be … He’s going to stay with his wall and he’s going to stay with the border security theme. I think it’s essential.”

Broadly speaking on the budget, Kudlow told Fox, “The president is proposing roughly a 5 percent across-the-board reduction in domestic spending accounts.”

Regardless of whether Congress passes it, the budget request could help Trump frame his argument on border security as the 2020 presidential race begins to take shape, with the president seeking re-election.

“Build the wall” was one of his signature campaign pledges in his first run for office in 2016. “Finish the wall” is already a feature of his re-election campaign, a rallying cry plastered across banners and signs at his campaign rallies.

“It gives the president the ability to say he has fulfilled his commitment to gain operational control of the southwest border,” an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of the budget request.

“We have provided the course of action, the strategy and the request to finish the job. It’s a question of, will Congress allow us to finish the job,” a second administration official said.

Funding legislation needs to be passed before Oct. 1 – the start of the 2020 federal fiscal year – or the government could shut down again. If Congress and the White House fail to agree to lift mandatory spending caps set in a 2011 law, steep automatic cuts in many programs would kick in. Around the same time, Trump and lawmakers must agree to lift the debt ceiling, or risk a default, which would have chaotic economic fallout.


Trump’s wall request is based off a 2017 plan put forward by Customs and Border Protection officials to build or replace 722 miles (1,162 km) of barrier along the border, which in total is estimated to cost about $18 billion.

So far, only 111 miles (179 km) have been built or are underway, officials said. In fiscal 2017, $341 million in funding was allocated for 40 miles (64 km) of wall, and in 2018, another $1.375 billion was directed to 82 miles (132 km).

For fiscal 2019, Trump demanded $5.7 billion in wall funds, but Congress appropriated only $1.375 billion for border fencing projects.

Following the rejection of his wall funding demand, Trump declared the border was a national emergency – a move opposed by Democrats and some Republicans – and redirected $601 million in Treasury Department forfeiture funds, $2.5 billion in Defense Department drug interdiction funds and $3.6 billion from a military construction budget, for total spending of $8.1 billion for the wall.

The administration has not estimated how far the 2019 funds will go, but officials said average costs are about $25 million per mile (1.6 km).

Trump’s $8.6 billion in proposed wall funding for fiscal 2020 would include $5 billion from the Department of Homeland Security budget and $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction budget. The budget proposal will also include another $3.6 million in military construction funding to make up for any projects delayed by the wall, officials said.

The Department of Homeland Security is one of a few priority areas to get a boost in Trump’s budget plan, which seeks to slash funding to many non-defense programs.

Trump will propose an overall 5 percent increase to the Department of Homeland Security budget over fiscal 2019 appropriations, including $3.3 billion, or 22 percent more, for Customs and Border Protection, and $1.2 billion more for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a 16 percent hike, officials said.

The budget proposal includes a plan to hire more than 2,800 law enforcement and support personnel for the agencies, and 100 immigration judge teams, officials said.

Trump faces both political and court battles to free up the money he wants for the current fiscal year. Many lawmakers accused Trump of overstepping his constitutional powers by declaring an emergency to free up the funds. The House has already voted to revoke the emergency, and the Senate is likely to do the same this week. Trump is expected to veto the resolution.

A coalition of state governments led by California has sued Trump to block the emergency move, though legal experts have said the lawsuits face a difficult road.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Will Dunham and Kevin Drawbaugh



Elizabeth Warren is right – we must break up Facebook, Google and Amazon

The titans of the new Gilded Age must be busted and the idea has bipartisan support. It’s time big tech was brought to heel

March 10, 2019

by Robert Reich

The Guardian

The presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced on Friday she wants to bust up giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon.

America’s first Gilded Age began in the late 19th century with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – but culminated in mammoth trusts run by “robber barons” like JP Morgan, John D Rockefeller, and William H “the public be damned” Vanderbilt.

The answer then was to bust up the railroad, oil and steel monopolies.

We’re now in a second Gilded Age, ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet, which has spawned a handful of hi-tech behemoths and a new set of barons like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google.

The answer is the same as it was before: bust up the monopolies.

The current effort is bipartisan. At a Senate hearing I attended last week, the arch-conservative Missouri Republican Josh Hawley asked me, rhetorically: “Is there really any wonder that there is increased pressure for antitrust enforcement activity, for privacy activity when these companies behave in the way that they do?”

Hawley added: “Every day brings some creepy new revelation about these companies’ behaviors. Of course the public is going to want there to be action to defend their rights. It’s only natural.”

Nearly 90% of all internet searches now go through Google. Facebook and Google together account for 58% of all digital ads, which is where most ad money goes these days.

They’re also the first stops for many Americans seeking news (93% receive news online), and Amazon is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything.

With such size comes the power to stifle innovation. Amazon won’t let any business that sells through it sell any item at a lower price anywhere else. It’s even using its control over book sales to give books it publishes priority over rival publishers.

Google uses the world’s most widely used search engine to promote its own services and content over those of competitors. Facebook’s purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram killed off two potential competitors.

Contrary to the conventional view of America as a hotbed of entrepreneurship, according to the Census Bureau, the rate at which new job-creating businesses have formed in the US has halved since 2004.

Size also confers political power.

Amazon – the richest corporation in America – paid nothing in federal taxes last year. Meanwhile, it is holding an auction to extort billions from states and cities eager to host its second headquarters.

It also forced Seattle, its home city, to back down on a plan to tax big corporations like itself to pay for homeless shelters for a growing population that cannot afford sky-high rents caused in part by Amazon.

Facebook withheld evidence of Russian activity on its platform far longer than had been disclosed. When the news came to light, it employed an opposition research firm to discredit critics.

Zuckerberg, who holds the world speed record for falling from one of the most admired figures to one of the most reviled, just unveiled a plan to “encrypt” personal information from all his platforms.

The plan is likely to give Facebook even more comprehensive data about everyone. If you believe it will better guard privacy, you don’t remember Zuckerberg’s last seven promises to do that.

The New America Foundation, an influential thinktank Google helped fund, fired researchers who were urging antitrust officials to take on the company. And Google has been quietly financing hundreds of professors to write research papers justifying Google’s market dominance.

What to do? Some argue the tech mammoths should be regulated like utilities or common carriers, but this would put government in the impossible position of policing content and overseeing products and services.

A better alternative is to break them up. That way, information would be distributed through a large number of independent channels without a centralized platform giving all content apparent legitimacy and extraordinary reach. And more startups could flourish.

Like the robber barons of the first Gilded Age, those of the second have amassed fortunes that gave them unparalleled influence over politicians and the economy.

The combined wealth of Zuckerberg ($62.3bn), Bezos ($131bn), Brin ($49.8bn) and Page ($50.8bn) is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom half of the American population.

A wealth tax, also proposed by Warren, would help.

Some of the robber barons of the first Gilded Age were generous philanthropists, as are those of today. That didn’t excuse the damage they did to America.

Monopolies aren’t good for anyone except for the monopolists. In this new Gilded Age, we need to respond as forcefully as we did the first time around. Warren’s ideas are a good start.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

March 10, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

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

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

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

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

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

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


Conversation No. 13

Date:  Wednesday, May 8, 1996

Commenced:  9:54 AM CST

Concluded: 10:32 AM CST


RTC: Good morning, Gregory. Have you been reading about the resurrection of brother Colby?

GD: Good morning, Robert. Yes, I saw this piece of news yesterday but I was too busy to call you. I’m trying to finish up the translation of Mueller’s journals and when I get on a rush, I don’t let up. He floated…no some divers found him. Right?

RTC: As I understand it, yes. Oddly enough, they had searched the same place before but without success.

GD: Maybe they took him from a fishpond somewhere and planted him before he got too ripe.

RTC: It’s an odd case, Gregory. Here we have a man in his late ‘70s staying at his little summer place out on Rock Point, coming downstairs about eleven in the evening, putting on the computer and the television and then running outside in bad weather, jumping into his canoe and paddling out onto the river which was very rough about then what with the wind and rain. And, most interesting, he left his life belt behind. Bill always wore his vest when he went out in his canoe but he seems to have forgotten it. Careless.

GD: Getting old.

RTC: But no older.

GD: Can I do a scenario for you, Robert? Just to show you how really clever I am?

RTC: Why not?

GD: Some friends came to visit him a little earlier. Unannounced of course. Friendly talk, maybe a glass or two of wine and then poor Colby drank something that made him a little disoriented. Nothing to remain in the body afterwards, of course. Then I’ll bet they picked him up, took him out and put him in the boat they came in on, hooked the canoe up behind them with a painter and out onto the bounding main. Then into the nice cold water, unhitching the canoe and back to shore and the warmth of home and hearth. There was no mention of a hole in his head or missing body parts at all. A careless and confused old man out for a refreshing little trip and then tragedy strikes. I don’t think they’ve had time for a full post but I’ll just wager you they won’t find any cyanide or ricin in him. Another skillfully planned CIA wet action.

RTC: That’s an interesting analysis, Gregory. You haven’t been talking to anyone about this, have you?

GD: From that, I must have guessed right. The reports mentioned the computer and the bad weather and I put the rest together. I always loved jigsaw puzzles, Robert. In the summer, when Chicago got hot, we had no air conditioning in those days so we used to go up to Vilas County in upper Wisconsin to get cool. Nice summer house on a quiet lake. On the front screen porch, there were two large ping pong tables and boxes of very complex jigsaw puzzles. While everyone else was out swimming or fishing for the really delicious lake trout, I was on the porch for hours, putting the puzzles together. I love puzzles. On this one, the pieces were all there.

RTC: I told Kimmel once that you would have made a first class agent for us and he was outraged that I would even think of such sacrilege.

GD: I don’t disagree with you Robert. Kimmel once told me, seriously, that I suffered from the worst case of hubris he had ever seen. Do you know what I told him?

RTC: Were you rude?

GD: No, merely accurate. I told him that I had thought I was wrong about something once but found out later I was mistaken.

RTC: Delightful response, Gregory. And his?

GD: He was not amused, but I was. Anyway, the errant Colby has returned to the land of the living but in worse shape than when he left it.

RTC: Thank God for that.

GD: We can anticipate solemn statements from the White House, a weeping wife and black-suited friends and then off to the bone yard in a bronze box, tightly sealed lest eau d’Colby annoy people downwind. By now he probably smells like a big Camembert cheese. And soon forgotten by most. And from what you said, you won’t be going to the services.

RTC: I think not.

GD: But you do have your memories.

RTC: So do a lot of others. Perhaps we can discuss something more cheerful than the loss of a valued friend and freedom fighter, Gregory.

GD: How is the blessed box working?

RTC: The birds still flee but no ambulances at the door.

GD: Yes. Wait until valued secretary Mitzi Rumpleberger hangs herself in an electronically inspired fit of depression in the ladies’ lavatory with a pair of silk stockings.

RTC: The Ambassador would be more spectacular.

GD: His office is probably in the back. And one would hope he doesn’t wear silk stockings. Or a bra either.

RTC: Such imagery.

GD: If you don’t laugh, Robert, you will go crazy. People don’t realize that life is a huge practical joke that always has a bad ending. Like Brother Colby, but enough of forbidden topics. Someday, I will tell you how I nailed Pollard.

RTC: This is not another joke?

GD: Not at all.

RTC: I have some knowledge of this business, Gregory, and I would like to compare it to your own. Do go on.

GD: I knew a military collector when I was living in California. He used to collect SS items which was rather weird because he was Jewish. His father had been a host for a kiddie television show and after he and the mother got a divorce, she married a big cheese in the insurance business. Jack Beckett.

RTC: Transamerica Beckett?

GD: The same. They lived in Atherton in a gated house. I used to visit there from time to time and met Beckett a few times. A very decent, down to earth person, easy to talk to and I would say very honest. Did you know him?

RTC: I believe we knew him.

GD: He mentioned he knew Stansfield Turner so you must be right. Anyway, Abenheim, that’s his name, Donald Abenheim, had a fellow student from Stanford named Jay Pollard. Pollard used to come over and the two of them would war game and I sat in on a few sessions. Pollard was a very pleasant, smart fellow but a raging nebbish. A Walter Mitty type, if you know what I mean. Lived in a fantasy world of his own making. Pollard’s father was a dentist or something dull living in Ohio but Pollard was a downright fanatical Israeli supporter and he went on about working as a kibbutz guard, being an officer in the Mossad and so on. Obvious bullshit. It didn’t make him a bad person but he was a little hard to take at times. We never believed a word he said on that subject. Anyway, later, after Abenheim had graduated from Stanford, he told me Pollard had tried to get into your agency as an analyst but they discovered his Israeli lust and turned him down. Don told me that in their yearbook, Pollard put down that he was a major in the Mossad. But then he went to work for naval intelligence….

RTC: Naval Fleet Intelligence. Then he transferred over to the Anti-Terrorist Alert center of the NIS.

GD: The what?

RTC: Naval Investigative Service. They dealt with top secret military communications. Go on.

GD: When Don told me about this, I remarked that perhaps, given his attitudes, this was really not the place for Pollard to work.

RTC: In hindsight, you were perfectly right.

GD: So I pumped Abenheim about what Pollard was doing. Jay was in touch with him and they both had motor mouths. When Abenheim got specific, I suggested that he mention this to someone because he was fooling around with the national intelligence community but he only laughed at me.

RTC: And then what?

GD: Well, I thought about this and don’t forget I knew Pollard’s fanatic attitudes…I mean they were obsessive, believe me…so after stewing about this, I called up someone I knew who was connected with the Pacifica Foundation. He was a friend of Cap Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense. I told him all about Pollard and said that in my opinion, this was a man who should not have any access to secret governmental material dealing with anything in the Middle East. I made it a point to tell this fellow that if he couldn’t get Weinberger’s attention, I would take it to the press. Oh no, he said, give me some time. I did. He called me back in about a week and said he had passed the word along and begged me to keep quiet about it. Fair enough. Then we all know what happened.

RTC: Yes, we all do. So you were the “unidentified source.”

GD: Yes. Beats Mr. Sunshine.

RTC: Did you hear about what Weinberger did to Pollard?

GD: Not really.

RTC: Pollard cut a deal with the government for a lighter sentence but Weinberger hated him and got Wolf Blitzer to have an interview with Pollard and trick him into breaking his agreement. Pollard got life for being stupid.

GD: He wasn’t stupid, but he had no common sense.

RTC: Well, now he’s got life in the slammer.

GD: I told Abenheim what I did and he was terrified I would drag him into it. He was living off of Beckett, who put him into Stanford and bought him new cars and so on, and he was afraid of the consequences if Beckett got wind of his own lack of concern. He used to babble all kinds of family gossip around, including myself, and I always thought that if you take a man’s bread, you owe him at least some loyalty. But Don was not a man to contemplate honor. I remember once when I was having certain conversation with a German diplomat in San Francisco, this fellow encountered Don at some function. Don was an outrageous ass-kisser and at any rate, the German told him he knew me and that I was a “brilliant scholar” on the German scene. He said that Abenheim got annoyed and said I was only self-educated, which I am not and I said that considering that I had written Abenheim’s doctoral thesis, that was hardly appropriate. The German found this rather shocking.

RTC: If Stanford ever found out about that, they would jerk his degree, you know. I don’t think that would do his intelligence career any good. What was the thesis on?

GD: The Imperial German Navy’s etappendienst or resupply system, in the First World War. After this episode, I mentioned it to Charlie Burdick, the German military historian and Dean at San Jose State, very reputable and I’ve known him since ’52…anyway, he said that this paper struck him as much better than Abenheim’s usually pompous and turgid works. He knew my work and said that he could see in an instant that I was right. I asked him, since he was Abenheim’s sponsor for the doctorate, what he was going to do about it. As usual, nothing. But he would never talk to Don again.

RTC: What happened to him?

GD: Burdick?

RTC: No, Abenheim. Does he work for us?

GD: No, although Beckett wanted to get him into the CIA via his contacts with Turner. He does intelligence work for the Navy, I think. After I had a talk with him about his mouth problem, we haven’t spoken.

RTC: You should tip them off. We have too many treacherous people like that.

GD: Well, I don’t worry about it. The Germans and Burdick know, and believe me, and he can deal with that knowledge. I don’t think you have to worry about his selling secrets to Israel. He and his mother hate the Zionists. Reformed Jews usually do.

RTC: What does he think about your writings on Mueller?

GD: I would hate to think. Fortunately, that is outside his interest so I am probably safe.

RTC: What is his specialty?

GD: He likes to think he’s an expert on German military tradition but he most certainly is not. Abenheim is the moon and Beckett is the sun. Abenheim drove expensive sports cars, lived in an expensive house, went to an expensive school and met famous people but only because his mother married an important, and very generous, man. I remember once, Don and his friends were planning on raiding a military storage area in San Francisco when he was working in the Presidio museum. They heard there was morphine stored there and planned to sell it. I told him that I would tell his mother if he didn’t drop that idea and it scared him off. I mean, what an utterly stupid thing to do. He should have thanked me for keeping him out of jail instead of trash mouthing me to others.

RTC: Given what you’ve told me, he’s probably just jealous. I imagine he loved to pick your brains.

GD: Yes, like Corson.

RTC: There are certain similarities there.

GD: God save us from those of the small mind and large ego.

RTC: Anyway, Gregory, you did the right thing in the Pollard matter. And while your name is not known in this, your good deeds certainly are.

GD: But no good deed goes unpunished, does it, Robert? At least, Abenheim will be more cautious in the future or I might start writing nice letters to Stanford. After all, I have all the original work on his thesis. His useless notes and my handwritten pages. I remember once when he told me that brave Israeli commandos raided a Libyan secret plant, deep in the desert, and destroyed it. I got tired of his pomposity so I told him, very offhand, that that was a hoax. I said Kadaffi had put some oil and old tires into 55 gallon drums and set them on fire. I said the satellites showed clouds of black smoke but there was nothing to it. He got very irate and asked me how I knew such things? I said I had seen the side-angle satellite pictures…

RTC: My God, Gregory, you didn’t? Those satellites are very, very secret. He must have had a fit about that.

GD: Oh, he did. It turned out later I was right about the burning tires so he rushed to his superiors to tell them all about the horrid person who had access to the sacred satellite pictures. And about a month later, a military collector friend of mine was approached by someone at a collector’s club meeting. A nice, clean-cut fellow named Mason. Anyway, this fellow made friends with my collector connection and developed a great interest in me and my doings. I checked on this Mason fellow and discovered from Petersen that Chris was a CIA operative so I led him a wonderful chase, feeding him all kinds of nonsense until he finally, after several months, realized he was being made a fool of and he went back to Washington. He was not very bright, Robert. I had written a book on German paratroopers in the campaign on Crete so he had my friend send me a mint copy of the book to autograph. The cover was heavy coated stock so I put on a pair of cotton gloves, went over to my next door neighbor and handed the book to him. I had told him earlier that I had written a number of studies of military actions and he was interested. I said I had hurt my hand and could he autograph the book?

RTC: Gregory, that was a terrible thing to do. Now someone has your neighbor’s fingerprints and handwriting in a file somewhere. What a wicked thing to do.

GD: Ain’t I awful, Robert? And I told my collector friend about all the lovely aerial pictures I had. I was going to get a Russian publisher to do a book called, “The World from the Air.”

RTC: Jesus Christ…

GD: Oh and I said they were Cosmic pictures. From Top Secret/Cosmic of course.

RTC: And I suppose he told his new friend and consternation ensued in Washington.

GD: I said I was meeting a Russian publisher’s rep in ‘Frisco down at his office on Green Street.

RTC: That’s the Russian consulate. That’s a KGB center, Gregory.

GD: No, don’t disillusion me.

RTC: That is really wicked. You never saw any side-angle satellites pictures, never had any secret pictures, had no Russian publisher but just imagine the furor.

GD: Kept me warm at night for months, Robert. Abenheim later told someone that I was pure evil and should never be talked to. He wasn’t specific but my friend thought he might have an involuntary bowel movement at any time.

RTC: I said several times you would make a great agent, Gregory.

GD: Whatever makes you think I’m not, Robert?

RTC: On that depressing note, I’ll let you go. We’re supposed to go shopping and let’s do this again. You’re better than television, Gregory.

GD: And a lot more accurate, Robert.


(Concluded at 10:32 AM CST)


Treatment of unvaccinated Oregon boy with tetanus cost nearly $1m, CDC says

  • Parents of six-year-old turned down second dose of vaccine
  • Report counts cost not including air ambulance and rehab

March 9, 2019

by Associated Press in Portland, Oregon

An unvaccinated six-year-old Oregon boy was hospitalized for two months for tetanus and almost died of the bacterial illness after getting a deep laceration on his forehead while playing on a farm, according to a case study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The 2017 case is the first case of pediatric tetanus in Oregon in more than 30 years and alarmed infectious disease experts, who said tetanus is almost unheard of in the US since widespread immunization began in the 1940s.

The child received an emergency dose of the tetanus vaccine in the hospital but his parents declined to give him a second dose – or any other childhood shots – after he recovered, the paper said.

“When I read that, my jaw dropped,” said Dr William Schaffner, an expert in infectious diseases and chair at the department of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. “I could not believe it. That’s a tragedy and a misunderstanding and I’m just flabbergasted.

“This is an awful disease, but … we have had a mechanism to completely prevent it and the reason that we have virtually no cases any more in the United States is because we vaccinate, literally, everyone.”

The CDC paper did not provide any details about the child, his family or where they live in Oregon and attempts to get that information from the paper’s authors were unsuccessful.

Lawmakers in Oregon and Washington are considering bills that would end non-medical exemptions for routine childhood vaccines as the Pacific north-west weathers its third month of a measles outbreak. Seventy people in south-west Washington, most unvaccinated children, have been diagnosed with the highly contagious viral illness since 1 January, as well as a handful of people in Portland, Oregon.

Unlike measles, which is a virus, someone who has survived a case of tetanus is not immune and can get the illness again if they remain unvaccinated. Tetanus isn’t transmitted person-to-person by sneezing or coughing like the measles, but comes from bacterial spores found in the environment.

Tetanus spores exist everywhere, particularly in the soil. When an unvaccinated person gets a deep, penetrating wound, those spores can invade the cut and begin producing the bacteria that causes the illness. The tetanus bacterium secretes a toxin that gets into the bloodstream and latches on to the nervous system.

Anywhere from three to 21 days after infection, symptoms appear: muscle spasms, lockjaw, difficulty swallowing and breathing and seizures. The disease can cause death or severe disability in those who survive, Schaffner said.

About 30 people contract tetanus each year nationwide, according to the CDC, and 16 died of it between 2009 and 2015. It’s rare among children; those over 65 are the most vulnerable.

In the case in Oregon, the boy cut his forehead while playing and his family stitched up the wound themselves. Six days later, he began clenching his jaw, arching his neck and back and had uncontrollable muscle spasms. When he began to have trouble breathing, his parents called paramedics and he was transported by air to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. When he arrived, he asked for water but could not open his mouth.

The child was sedated, put on a ventilator and cared for in a darkened room while wearing ear plugs because any stimulation made his pain and muscle spasms worse. His fever spiked to almost 105F (40.5C) and he developed high blood pressure and a racing heartbeat.

Forty-four days after he was hospitalized, the boy was able to sip clear liquids. Six days later, he was able to walk a short distance with help. After another three weeks of inpatient rehabilitation and a month at home, he could ride a bike and run – a remarkable recovery, experts said.

The child’s care, not including the air ambulance and inpatient rehabilitation, cost nearly $1m, about 72 times the mean for a pediatric hospitalization in the US, the paper noted.

“The way to treat tetanus is you have to outlast it. You have to support the patient because this poison links on chemically and then it has to be slowly metabolized,” Schaffner said.

Cases of tetanus have dropped by 95% in the US since widespread childhood vaccination and adult booster shots became routine nearly 80 years ago; deaths have dropped 99%.

The CDC recommends a five-dose series of tetanus shots for children between the ages of two months and six years and a booster shot every 10 years for adults.



A startup says used tissues are safer than vaccinations. Should you trust it?

The mysterious Vaev Tissue claims it is selling $80 used tissues that are safer than needles or pills – proving there’s always a market for crazy products

March 10, 2019

by Gene Marks

The Guardian

But now a startup claims that it has an unusual solution to this problem: used tissues.

Yes, you read that right. Vaev Tissue, a small company which might possibly be based in Los Angeles (or then again, maybe it’s Copenhagen?) and may or may not have eight employees (the details are unclear), claims that it is selling tissues that, they say, have already been infected by its team of professional sneezers. The company believes that using just a single tissue – which is reasonably priced at $79.99 – that already carries a human sneeze is actually safer than needles or pills or any of that other science stuff.

It’s a “freedom” and a “luxury to choose”, Oliver Niessen, the company’s 34-year-old elusive founder who “reluctantly” revealed his name to Time, said. “The simple idea is you choose now to get sick, with the idea in mind that you won’t get sick with that same cold … later.”

Here’s how it works: you wipe your nose with a Vaev tissue. The infected materials on the tissue then infect you. You get a cold – hopefully not too serious. You drink plenty of fluids and rest. The cold goes away. You then go on vacation or that business trip free from worry that you won’t get that darn cold again. Simple!

Niessen claims that the company has already sold a thousand tissues and says that his customers are mostly young parents and people in their 20s who are skeptical of vaccines and “seeking alternatives”. And all this time I thought the millennial generation was smarter than my generation. There goes that theory.

So does this work? According to the Time report: no.

“There are more than 200 types of rhinoviruses, so you’re going to have to shove about 200 tissues up your nose each time to get a different one,” Charles Gerbea, a professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, said. “Getting inoculated from one doesn’t protect you against all the others. How do you make a vaccine against 200 different viruses?”

So why is Vaev still in business? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from studying entrepreneurism it is this: there’s always a market for crazy products, even if it’s niche and if a company is about as sketchy as they come.

I say sketchy because I have serious doubts that Vaev is really a business. And even if you still want to drop $80 on a used tissue, you can’t. They’re “sold out”, according to the company’s website. Niessen says the problem is due to “supply chain issues”. But don’t worry –according to Time, the company is in the midst of restocking the product as soon as its stable of sneezers can make them. So there should plenty of used tissues for sale soon! Or not.

There has been a lot of attention recently on anti-vaxxers, the people who – for religious or other reasons – don’t get vaccinations for certain diseases or the flu. Opponents believe this practice places themselves and their children in potential harm’s way, but also puts the general public at risk.

There has been a lot of attention recently on anti-vaxxers, the people who – for religious or other reasons – don’t get vaccinations for certain diseases or the flu. Opponents believe this practice places themselves and their children in potential harm’s way, but also puts the general public at risk.


Is the Earth Flat?

March 20, 2018

by Daniel Loxton


Recent news stories,1 celebrity endorsements, and Google search trends2 have highlighted an apparently growing conspiracy theory belief that the Earth is not a globe, but instead a flat disc. According to believers, government forces promote a completely fictitious model of the cosmos in order to conceal the true nature of the Earth. Are these claims true?

No. The Earth is Round

The evidence for a spherical Earth is overwhelming.3 Most obviously, there are many thousands of images and videos of the Earth from space, including a continually changing live stream view of the globe from the International Space Station—not to mention all the astronauts who have personally seen the Earth from orbit. Flat Earthers claim that all images of the globe are fraudulent inventions, and all testimony from astronauts is false. It is unreasonable to dismiss all of the evidence from the entire history of space exploration, especially when there is zero evidence for a decades-long “globularist” conspiracy. However, we do not need to rely on evidence from modern space agencies to confirm the roundness of the Earth for ourselves.

The globe has been clearly understood for thousands of years. Indeed, this was one of the first cosmic facts to be worked out correctly by ancient people because evidence of a spherical Earth is visible to the naked eye.

By the time of the philosopher Socrates and his student Plato, many Greeks understood that the Earth could only be a sphere. Sailors would have noticed that the sails of approaching ships appeared before the hulls of the ships became visible because the surface of the sea is slightly curved, like the surface of an enormous ball.4 When you sail toward a ship, island, or lighthouse, their tallest points are the first thing to peek up over the curve of the horizon.

Plato’s student Aristotle offered further “evidence of the senses” to support his own conclusion that the Earth “must necessarily be spherical.” First, there was the evidence of lunar eclipses. When the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth, that shadow is always the circular shadow of a sphere. Also, Aristotle argued, “our observations of the stars” make it clear “not only that the earth is circular, but also that it is a circle of no great size.” He pointed out that “quite a small change of position to south or north” significantly changes “the stars which are overhead, and the stars seen are different, as one moves northward or southward.” Just as ships can be hidden from view by the curvature of the horizon, so too can the stars.5

The debate about the shape of the Earth has been settled for over two thousand years. An ancient scholar named Eratosthenes—the head of the famous library of Alexandria in Egypt—even correctly approximated the circumference of the Earth using experimental measurements of shadows in two cities and some geometry.6

Despite modern legends about Medieval backwardness, there never was a time when educated people went back to thinking the Earth was flat. Once discovered, the true shape of the globe was too simple and useful a fact to be forgotten. Sailors were reminded of the planet’s roundness every time they climbed a mast to see further over the horizon or looked to the stars to determine their position. By the time of Columbus, his crew and even his critics understood that our world is a globe.7 It had been an established fact for centuries. For example, here’s a passage from the popular astronomy textbook On the Sphere of the World, published over 250 years before Columbus sailed:

That the earth, too, is round is shown thus. The…stars do not rise and set the same for all men everywhere but rise and set sooner for those in the east than for those in the west; and of this there is no other cause than the bulge of the earth.8

The Nature of Flat Earth Beliefs

Flat Earth beliefs vary, but usually involve a large disc-shaped world with a relatively tiny Sun and Moon circling above it like lamps above a table. Flat Earth maps rearrange the continents and seas to radiate outward from the North Pole, which is imagined to be at the center of the disc. Everything we think of as the Southern Hemisphere is spread out around the outer circumference. It is usually claimed that Antarctica does not exist at all. Instead, the entire disc is encircled by a vast wall of ice that we mistake for a frozen southern continent.9

The people who make these claims are not always sincere. There is a long tradition of humorous trolling by people who merely pretend to think the Earth is flat.10 However, genuine, passionate Flat Earth believers certainly do exist. They typically base their beliefs on two things: intuition and fundamentalist religious faith. The world seems pretty flat when we go about our daily lives. The Bible also contains passages that suggest that our world could be a flat surface covered by a dome (the “Firmament”).11

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Flat Eartherism was primarily motivated by Biblical literalism.12 Believers saw the globe and astronomy as threats to faith. “No one can believe a single doctrine or dogma of modern astronomy and accept Scriptures as divine revelation,” argued 19th century Flat Earth author John Hampden.13

This remains the position of many Flat Earthers today (although the internet apparently also fosters a new more secular14 conspiracy theory strain alongside traditional Christian Flat Eartherism). Flat Earth believers have long occupied a fringe within the Christian creationism movement, and have been a source of embarrassment for other creationists. For example, the creationist ministry Answers in Genesis has published several articles correctly debunking Flat Earth beliefs,15 only to be accused of hypocrisy for accepting astronomy while rejecting geology and biology. “The Flat Earth position is first based upon Scripture,” shot back one Christian Flat Earther.16

Flat Earth beliefs almost require creationist faith because the Flat Earth could not be a natural object. If such a world existed, it could only be an artificial environment constructed on purpose and maintained by forces we do not understand. Left to itself, a disc-world would collapse under its own gravity, forming a sphere like other planets, large moons, and stars.

Since the dawn of the Space Age, Flat Earth beliefs have necessarily also entailed believing that a vast conspiracy deceives us about the nature of the world.17 “The space program is a scientific plot to hoodwink the public,” claimed Charles and Marjory Johnson,18 the most prominent Flat Earth advocates during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.19 If they were correct about the shape of the Earth, it would follow that a conspiracy must exist to falsify evidence of Moon landings and images of the Earth from space.

However, this claim of a world-wide conspiracy suffers from the same serious flaws as other similar grand conspiracy narratives (such as the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory that aircraft contrails are actually part of a secret global spraying program designed to poison the Earth). First, there is no evidence that any such conspiracy exists. Second, it is implausible to suppose that a conspiracy could exist at that scale for decades without any of the countless thousands of conspirators ever leaking the truth. Third, if a conspiracy was so powerful as to hide itself successfully forever, it would surely also be able stop Flat Earthers from constantly blabbing about it on the internet, newspapers, and television. Finally, it is unclear what could possibly motivate the sustained world-wide effort and expense necessary to conceal the shape of the Earth.

Christian Flat Earthers consider the conspiracy Satanic, which again places Flat Earth beliefs firmly within the sphere of religious fundamentalism. The assumed goal of the round Earth conspiracy is to lead believers astray from their salvation. This has a certain internal logic given their prior assumptions (on faith) of a Flat Earth, a conspiracy, and ongoing spiritual warfare between God and Satan. A round Earth conspiracy seems difficult to justify in secular terms. Why bother pretending the Earth is one shape rather than another? It stretches credibility to accept the motivation that one Flat Earth organization proposes: space agencies are “most likely motivated by greed…and using only some of their funding to continue to fake space travel saves a lot of money to embezzle for themselves.”20

Flat Earth Ideas Make No Sense and Explain Nothing

Like other creationists, Flat Earthers base their arguments on perceived flaws in mainstream science while ignoring major problems with their own claims. They do not provide scientific evidence for their radical alternative model. Nor do Flat Earth models explain the broad range of natural phenomena that are well-explained by the modern scientific understanding of the globe and its place in our solar system: planetary formation, volcanoes, tides, seasonal changes, the phases of the Moon, plate tectonics, earthquakes, the coldness of the poles, the magnetic field that compasses rely upon, auroras, and so on.

The Flat Earth model fundamentally conflicts with the things we see in nature. For example, why would the southern hemisphere’s stars be visible from the opposite edges of a Flat Earth, while people in the central region of the disc instead see the constellations of the northern hemisphere? Shouldn’t the same stars hang over everyone on a Flat Earth like a ceiling hangs over a kitchen table?

Why do the Sun and Moon and stars appear to rise and set? Most Flat Earthers believe that the Sun and Moon are fairly close objects, each just a few miles across, which always hang above the Flat Earth. Supposedly both objects circle around the North Pole on a plane parallel to the Earth’s flat surface while shining down like lamps to illuminate different parts of the disc. (The Sun and Moon are illuminated and kept moving by unknown forces; neither object orbits anything.) If so, the Sun and Moon should be visible all the time from every part of the Earth’s surface. How could such a world ever experience a sunset? We never see the Sun grow noticeably dimmer or smaller with distance as we would in this Flat Earth model; instead, as the globe turns, the Sun passes out of view over the curvature of the horizon.

Flattening the globe also would severely distort the shapes of oceans and continents and the distances between them. Most notably, all proposed Flat Earth maps greatly expand the distances between southern landmasses. Countries that are relatively close together on a globe would be repositioned many times further away on opposite sides of a flat disc-world. In reality, for example, the distance between the northern countries of China and the USA is similar to the distance between the southern countries of Australia and South Africa—and so are the flight times to travel between them. That would not be true if Flat Earth maps were accurate.

All routes for planes and ships would be different on a Flat Earth, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. According to many Flat Earth maps, the shortest flight route between South America and Australia would cross over the North Pole!21 A conspiracy to conceal the flatness of the Earth would therefore have to include hundreds of thousands of airline pilots and ship captains as well as governments, space agencies, mapmakers, and Antarctic explorers.

Gravity, Handwaving, and the Supernatural

Flat Earth advocates rely upon made up excuses and invented forces to explain away the problems of their model. They claim that light, perspective, and gravity work differently than we understand from the evidence of science and our senses. Many claim that gravity does not exist at all. This claim is necessary because everyone on every part of the Earth’s surface feels a roughly equal gravitational pull straight down toward their feet, which only makes sense on a globe: gravity pulls everyone down toward the planet’s center of mass. Gravity would feel very different on a Flat Earth. A disc-world’s center of mass would not be located straight down from most parts of the surface. People standing at the central North Pole would feel a vertical downward pull, but everyone further from the center of the disc would feel gravity pull at an angle. At the edges of the disc, the pull of gravity would be almost horizontal. This would pull the oceans and atmosphere inward toward the center of the disc, drowning the center and leaving the outer edges airless and uninhabitable. Standard gravity would also pull down the Flat Earth model’s tiny nearby Sun and Moon to crash into the North Pole. Since none of these things happen, we know the world is not flat.

Rather than confront the problem of gravity, Flat Earthers respond by dismissing gravity altogether. If the “traditional theory of gravitation” is “incompatible with the Flat Earth Model,” then gravity must be weak or nonexistent.22 But if that were the case, wouldn’t you be floating out of your chair right now? Why would objects fall when you drop them? According to one common Flat Earth claim, objects fall because the Earth “is constantly accelerating up at a rate of 32 feet per second squared (or 9.8 meters per second squared). This constant acceleration causes what you think of as gravity.”23 This handwaving explanation doesn’t work. If our world is accelerating upward, why doesn’t the Flat Earth crash into the tiny Sun and Moon above us? What force could cause the Flat Earth—an entire world—to constantly accelerate at a perfectly even rate? How would the flat surface remain perfectly oriented with the direction of acceleration without ever tumbling (or even slightly wobbling)?

There are no coherent natural explanations for anything in the Flat Earth model. Even when presented in secular language, Flat Earth claims describe an impossible and necessarily artificial world created and maintained through unexplainable miracles. A Flat Earth could only exist through supernatural or technological forces beyond our comprehension.

The Bottom Line

Believing that the Earth is flat requires not only a world-wide conspiracy to fake decades of space exploration, but also the wholesale denial of many branches of science and the evidence of our senses. It requires the invention of new forces and laws of nature without evidence, and implicitly relies upon the actions of a deity-like being or beings.

Despite the rising prominence of Flat Earth ideas, there has never been evidence to suggest that the world could be flat. Advocates simply assume the “obvious truth” of a Flat Earth on the basis of religious faith, intuition, or humor, and then invent a reality to match.24 Although surprisingly frustrating, the rhetoric of Flat Earthers does nothing to change the simple fact, definitively proven for centuries: we live on the surface of a globe.


  1. See for example Sebastian Kettley. “SpaceX flat Earth SHOCK: Was Falcon 1 Heavy launch faked to conceal planet’s shape?” Express.co.uk, Feb 7, 2018. https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/915948/spacex-flat-earth-falcon-heavy-launch-fake-elon-musk (Accessed March 13, 2018)
  2. Google Trends suggest that Google searches for “flat earth” have been climbing since early 2015, with interest since late 2015 remaining consistently higher than any previous period back to 2004.
  3. “Spherical” is here used in an approximate sense. For a discussion of the finer complexities of describing the slightly irregular shape of the globe, see Isaac Asimov. “The Relativity of Wrong.” The Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1989, Vol. 14, No. 1. pp. 35–44
  4. The curvature of bodies of water has also been demonstrated experimentally, most famously by Alfred Russel Wallace to settle a wager with Flat Earther John Hampden in 1870. See Richard Milner and Michael Shermer. “Wallace and the Flat Earthers.” Skeptic, 2015, Vol. 20 No. 3. pp. 34–36; and, Daniel Loxton. Junior Skeptic #53, “Flat Earth?! The Convoluted Story of a Flatly Mistaken Idea.” Skeptic, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 4. pp. 70–71
  5. Aristotle, translated by J. L. Stocks. On the Heavens. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1922.) As transcribed at http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/heavens.2.ii.html
  6. Carl Sagan. Cosmos. (New York: Random House, 1983.) pp. 14–15
  7. Jeffrey Burton Russell. Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians. (New York: Praeger, 1991.)
  8. Johannes de Sacrobosco. Lynn Thorndike, trans. Tractatus de Sphaera (On the Sphere of the World). (c. Early 13th century, translation published 1949.) As transcribed at http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/sphere.htm
  9. This alternative cosmos was fully developed by 19th century Flat Earth proponent Samuel Birley Rowbotham. “Parallax.” Zetetic Astronomy. Earth Not a Globe! An Experimental Inquiry Into the True Figure of the Earth: Proving It a Plane, Without Axial or Orbital Motion; and the only Material World in the Universe! (London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1865.) pp. 20–22, 79–80, 85–87
  10. For a prominent example, see the tongue-in-cheek Flat Earth Society of Canada founded by philosophy professor Leo Ferrari and other mischievous intellectuals in 1970. It would be best, schemed one founding member, if people were “not quite sure whether they should take us literally or not.” Christine Garwood. Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea. (London: Pan Books, 2008) pp. 280–314
  11. Robert Schadewald. “The Flat Earth Bible.” Bulletin of the Tychonian Society, No. 44, July, 1987. pp. 27–39
  12. As skeptical scholar of Flat Earth ideas Bob Schadewald observed in 1982, “to my knowledge, every English-speaking flat earther who has ever lived has actually been a flat Earther because of the Bible.” Robert Schadewald. Lois Schadewald, Ed. Worlds of Their Own: A Brief History of Misguided Ideas: Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair. (Xlibris, 2008.) 130
  13. Robert J. Schadewald. “Scientific Creationism, Geocentricity and the Flat Earth.” Skeptical Inquirer, Winter 1981–82, Vol. 6, No. 2. pp. 41–48
  14. For example, contemporary Flat Earth Society president Daniel Shenton evidently accepts evolution by natural selection. David Adam. “The Earth is flat? What planet is he on?” The Guardian, Feb 23, 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/feb/23/flat-earth-society (Accessed March 12, 2018)
  15. See for example “They Think the Earth is Flat?” August 9, 2008. https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/earth/they-think-earth-is-flat/ (Accessed March 13, 2018.) The article dismisses Flat Earth proponents as a “tiny minority of untrained, pseudoscientific hacks who—partially based on an overly literal interpretation of Scripture—buy into a disproven, centuries-old myth rather than accepting wellestablished modern science.”
  16. Philip Stallings. “The Biblical Flat Earth: A Response To Answers In Genesis.” http://www.philipstallings.com/2016/03/the-biblical-flat-earth-response-to.html (Accessed March 13, 2018)
  17. This became an especially dominant theme during the 1960s as the International Flat Earth Research Society led by Samuel Shenton struggled to rebut news of manned spaceflight into orbit and to the Moon. See Garwood. (2008.) pp. 219–279
  18. “Flat Earth Proponent Decries Shuttle Fake.’” The Vancouver Sun, November 6, 1981
  19. Schadewald. (2008.) pp. 111–112; Douglas Martin. “Charles Johnson, 76, Proponent of Flat Earth.” The New York Times, March 25, 2001. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/25/us/charles-johnson-76-proponent-of-flat-earth.html (Accessed March 12, 2018)
  20. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Flat Earth Society. https://wiki.tfes.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions (Accessed March 7, 2018)
  21. This would be the case, for example, if the influential maps published by Samuel Birley Rowbotham were accepted. See “Parallax.” (1865.) pp. 21, 35
  22. “Universal Acceleration.” https://wiki.tfes.org/Universal_Acceleration (Accessed March 14, 2018)
  23. https://wiki.tfes.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions. (Accessed March 7, 2018)
  24. As affirmed by Daniel Shenton in 2009, “The Earth is flat. This is a belief I hold as the beginning of an ongoing search for truth and certainty. It is a starting point—an intellectual foundation on which I feel further knowledge can soundly be built.” Daniel Shenton. “In Defense of the Flat Earth.” (Flat Earth Society, 2009.) http://library.tfes.org/library/daniel_shenton_flat_earth_essay.pdf


The CIA’s Psychic Spies

June 29, 2018


What Is Project Stargate?

In the 1970s, reports began to surface in America that the Soviet Union had been investing heavily in psychic research. In this constant state of needing to outdo each other, the US decided that they couldn’t sit back and do nothing. So the CIA and the US Army began their own investigations into psychic powers.

Project Stargate would come to be the umbrella term for various government projects aimed at further investigating psychic phenomena. The government was primarily concerned with remote viewing, or ESP. The hope was that the Army could use psychic and supernatural phenomenon for spying and military uses. One of the main goals was to see if it was possible to view objects, events, sites, or information at a great distance through psychic means.

When Did Project Stargate Begin?

Research into remote viewing began at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in 1972. As part of this research, parapsychologists (people who study psychic and paranormal phenomena) began interviewing various psychics to test for telepathic abilities.

One such person was UK television personality Uri Geller, who was famous for allegedly bending spoons with his mind. The government would conclude that Geller was a fraud, but research done by the SRI was ultimately convincing enough to garner interest from the US Department of Defense.

This would lead to the formation of a secret US Army unit based at Fort Meade, Maryland, in 1978. The unit was small, consisting of 22 members at its peak, and was housed in old, wooden barracks. Members of this unit were put through various tests and experiments in an effort to harness their “powers” to be used in military and domestic intelligence operations.

Project Stargate Methods

One of the main goals of Project Stargate was to make psychic and paranormal research more scientific. Protocols were established to track and record findings, and various efforts were made to increase psychic accuracy. The term “remote viewing” would emerge to describe this more structured approach to gain information through extrasensory perception.

Declassified CIA files indicate that those who ran the project did believe they were successful, at least some of the time. But they also realized some of the limitations of their work. Project Stargate members were only given missions after other intelligence attempts or approaches had already been tried. And there was a consensus among project leaders and government officials that remote viewing should only be used in conjunction with other intelligence.

The End of Project Stargate

Project Stargate would last for nearly 20 years before it was finally terminated in 1995. Yes, the government spent nearly two decades funding remote viewing research, proof that this was viewed as more than just some crackpot scheme.

Opinions on the project would ultimately shift, however. The program ended because the CIA came to conclude that information provided by Stargate members was often vague, irrelevant, or erroneous. Furthermore, it was determined that the project was never useful in any intelligence operation.

Today, you can read through Project Stargate files here. While not mentioned by name, the project also served as the inspiration for the 2004 book, and 2009 film, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

The Cold War gave us many ridiculous government projects and schemes, and Project Stargate lives on as one of the craziest.


Germany: Storms halt trains, disrupt motorways

Winds sweeping across Europe are disrupting rail traffic in Germany. Trains were halted across the country’s most populous state as well as cross-border links to major cities such as Amsterdam.

March 10, 2019


Storm “Eberhard” swept eastward across Belgium, the Netherlands and into central and southern Germany on Sunday, toppling trees onto rail tracks and motorways.

Mid-afternoon Sunday, German Rail ordered trains to halt at the next available station in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. Passengers were offered ticket refunds or “flexible” usage once the storm passed.

International trains to Amsterdam, Belgium and other hubs in the Netherlands were also canceled, it said.

In the city of Duisburg, a heavy dockside loading crane toppled into the Rhine River but left its operating cabin above water. Zoos in Dortmund and Essen were shut to guests.

In Frankfurt in the state of Hesse, a tree fell on a house, but without injuring anyone, said police.

Further south, toward Mannheim and Stuttgart, fallen trees prompted the closure of track segments in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland Palatinate and Bavaria.

Train drivers in Saxony were urged to reduce speed in case of wind-blown obstacles.

Gusts up to 120 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour) were to be expected into Sunday evening, said the DWD.

Similar velocities had been recorded in Belgium, said another service, wetter-online, based in Bonn.

Sweeping in across Britain from the northern Atlantic, “Eberhard” more or less tracked an earlier storm “Dragi” that swept Germany on Saturday, prompting alerts by meteoalarm, a multilingual European weather service.

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