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TBR News March 12, 2016

Mar 12 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., March 12, 2016: “Pity the poor CIA, always wrong, always blameless. Take, for instance, their failures in the Ukraine. Having plotted to put a pro-West government in and break away from Moscow, they failed later when a pro-Russian president was elected. Not happy with this, the CIA instigated “popular” protests, had their people shoot at them and forced the pro-Russian president out of office. They replaced him with a corrupt oligarch and clapped their collective hands with delight. Putin made his moves in the eastern Ukraine, their industrial center, and in the Crimea. Kiev’s attempt to overwhelm the break-way movement in the east failed and the Crimea fell entirely into Moscow’s hands and by a popular referendum vote. This deprived American interests of the important Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol and the large, and valuable Crimean off-shore oil fields. Now, Putin has the Siberian fields and the newly acquired Crimean ones. What does the CIA have? An empty bus. And pity Turkey who has been listening to CIA siren songs about oil income and help against the growing power of anti-Ankara Kurds. The Kurds, who occupy a good portion of eastern and southeastern Turkey and represent about 25% of the Turkish population, are being clandestinely supported by Russia and given valuable American-made weapons with which to fight the Turks. Yet another Langley plot gone bad.”


Conversations with the Crow

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

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

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversations with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.




Conversation No. 4

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 1996

Commenced: 9:32 AM (CST)

Concluded: 10:08 AM (CST)


RTC: Hello, Gregory. Sorry I was out the last time you called but we were off on family business. My son’s family. By the way, I have some information for you that might interest you. You know, there are a number of people here who are not happy with you and they are certainly not pleased that I am talking with you. Not at all. This morning I had a call from some shit at Justice who wanted to warn me, being a friendly and caring person of course, that you were a very bad person and I would ruin my reputation by telling you anything. He had a similar talk with Corson yesterday. Bill called me last night about this and we both laughed about it. This is a sure sign that you must be right. Both of us know you were friends with Müller and the thought of him loose in America is something the Company, and now Justice, does not want talked about. First off, they don’t know what name he used while he was here.

GD: Are you serious, Robert?

RTC: Oh yes, very. You see, the CIA and don’t forget the Army, used high-level Nazis after the Cold War broke out. We especially went after the Gestapo and SD people because they had the most to do with fighting the Communists, both in Germany in the ‘30s and then during the war.

GD: I knew Gehlen very well and met some of them. I agree. His top recruiter was old Willi Krichbaum who was a Colonel in the SS and a top Gestapo person. I talked many times with Willi who had been in the Freikorps after the first war and he was quite a fellow. He was Müller’s top deputy in the Gestapo and in charge of the border guards at one time. And, don’t forget, Willi was head of the Wehrmacht’s Geheime Feldpolizei who had a terrible reputation with the troops. Hanging deserters at the end of the war. Yes, Gehlen told me the SS intelligence men were his best people.

RTC: You have a grasp of this from the time, don’t you? So, of course no one now wants to infuriate the rah-rah patriotic idiots and most especially the Jews by letting anyone know about this. You see, they brought Müller and others over here and gave them new names and identities. The higher they had been, the more they concealed them. Now your friend Müller’s name was known to Truman, Beetle Smith, Critchfield, Gehlen and about three others. Now that everyone is dead and you are tearing open old caskets, they are absolutely frantic to find out what name Mueller was here under and actually so they can run around the files and burn anything with that name on it. Then they can say, like the pious frauds they are, that Oh no, we never heard of that person. We searched our records, sir, and believe us, there was no such person anywhere. That’s what they want. Smith is dead, Truman is ditto, Critchfield will never talk because he ran Müller and still has his pension to consider. I know the name but they have never brought the subject up to me. They think you’re a loose cannon, Gregory, with no loyalty to the system and they think I am getting daft in my old age and marginalize me.

GD: Think they’ll shoot me? A boating accident? Something like that?

RTC: When I was in harness, yes, they would. A bungled robbery or a rape like Kennedy’s lady friend but not now. Besides, they don’t know what you have on them and if you were crushed to death by an elephant falling out of a plane, who knows what might come out? I have to send you some documentation which you then have to let them know you have. But in a safe place, not in a local storage locker under your name or in your attic or garage. A gentle hint of joys to come. I have hinted at that and very strongly. The Justice oaf today got an earful from me and when I told him I would tell you about this, he got scared and hung up on me. Now, I can expect Tom Kimmel to call me and try to find out if I’ve told you or given you anything. You know, you got some rare documents that were very helpful to his case to clear the Admiral but now he’s a torn person. The family wants desperately to accept these as genuine but are furious that you, a terrible person in their eyes, had them. No gratitude. I suppose if that awful Wolfe had found them and passed them along, he would be a great hero to the Kimmel family but you are one whose name is never to be mentioned. You know, Gregory, I find this very entertaining. And Kimmel is horrified that Bill and I like you and talk to you. Both of us have been warned, I by people from the Company I haven’t seen since I retired and Bill by the fringe wannabees like Trento and others. I think it’s time we nailed Critchfield, don’t you?

GD: I’m game, Robert. If he ran Müller, he must be scared.

RTC: Will be scared shitless. In the old days, he’d have had you killed at once but those days are no more. You knew Gehlen and that will be my approach. You are quick enough with in house terms so that I can convince Jimmy that you were once part of his operation. You’ll have to play it by ear but you are about ten times smarter than him so you should have fun. I want you to convince him that you were really there and knew some his people. And most important, convince him you knew Mueller. Oddly enough, Jimmy never met Mueller because he operated him out of Switzerland through Willi and later, Müller moved up the ladder to the point where Jimmy had no access to him. Let’s keep his bowels open, Gregory, what do you say?

GD: I have no problem. Should I tape him?

RTC: Why not get him on a speaker phone with both a tape recorder going and a reputable witness? That way, if something comes of this and they get to the witness, you have a backup.

GD: I have a retired colonel acquaintance who was with your people in ‘Nam. He’d be perfect as a witness. Just let me know. Is Justice going to do something nasty to me?

RTC: God no. They just want to scare me off of you, that’s all. They’re all such pinheads, Gregory. They chatter like old whores at a tea party and I can remind you that gossip is king here. Everyone inside the Beltway runs around like the little self-important toads that they are, pretending to be really important. They see a Senator in a restaurant, wave at him and get waved at back. This impresses their client who does not realize that the Senator will always wave back on the assumption that the waver might be someone important he might have forgotten. And they tell you that the President, or the Secretary of this or that said this to them when no one knows them at the White House or anywhere else. This jerk from Justice is a small, malformed cog in a big and brainless machine. Typical. I had to deal with these punks for years and I have more respect for a black tart, believe me. At least they don’t try to hide the fact that they fuck for money.

GD: (Laughter)

RTC: It really isn’t funny. If the public was aware of the crooked, lying sacks of shit that run this country, they would be boiling the tar and preparing the chicken feathers.

GD: You know, speaking of Gehlen, he told me in ’51 that his famous ’48 report about the Russians being poised to invade Europe was made up at the Army’s specific request. Gehlen told me that far from moving hundreds of armored units into the east zone, the Russians had torn up all the railroad tracks after the war and shipped them back to Russia. And most of the armored divisions were only cadre.

RTC: But it did work, didn’t it? Big business got to gear up for a fictional coming war and the military got a huge boost.

GD: Ever heard of General Trudeau?

RTC: Oh yes, I knew him personally. What about him?

GD: He found out about Gehlen and bitched like hell about what he called a bunch of Nazis working for the CIA and inventing stories about fake invasion threats.

RTC: Now that’s something I didn’t know. You know they shipped him out of the European command and sent him to the Far East? Yes, and I met him when I was in Hawaii. I’m surprised they didn’t do to him what they did to George Patton. A convenient truck ran into his car and shut him up.

GD: Why?

RTC: George found out that the top brass was stealing gold from the salt mine and many generals and colonels were getting very rich. And then the accident and with George dead, they just went on stealing.

GD: I can use that.

RTC: I can get you some paper on that out of my files. Patton was strange but one of our better generals. Lying thieves. Gold has a great attraction for people, I guess.

GD: A few years ago, one of your boys, Jimmy Atwood and I went down into Austria to dig up some Nazi gold. Atwood is a terrible asshole but very useful. I think he viewed me the same way. Anyway, we had a former SS officer and a Ukrainian camp guard along. What a wonderful adventure, Robert.

RTC: Were you successful? Treasure hunts rarely are.

GD: Oh, very. And we brought most of it back with us.

RTC: How ever did you get it through customs?

GD: Boat. Brought it in by boat. I’ll tell you about this some time. Did you ever hear about it?

RTC: No, I didn’t. Should I have?

GD: Probably a rogue operation. Two Limeys got knocked on the head and put over the side on the way to the Panama Canal but other than that, it was an uneventful trip.

RTC: Well, someday, I’ll discuss the Kennedy assassination and you can tell me about the gold hunt. Sounds fair?

GD: Oh yes, why not?

RTC: I remember the time we had to fly the KMT general out of Burma with an Air America transport full of gold. He was our boy out there but he had a hankering to make more money so he began to raise opium and used our weapons to kill off the locals. Thirteen million in gold and twelve trunks full of opium. Quite a problem getting it all into Switzerland and into a bank. But he performed and we kept our word. That fucking Colby was into drugs as well.

GD: William?

RTC: Yes, our beloved DCI. A nasty piece of work, Gregory. Was working in SEA doing the drug business when he was tapped for PHOENIX. And just kept on going when he got to Saigon. PHOENIX got to be a really nasty business and Bill set up torture centers all over our part of the country. Regional Intelligence Centers they called them. Well, Church got his hands on some of the goings on and guess what? Colby snitched on all his co-workers. I know for a fact from some of the old ones that they’re going to kill him for that. I remember he has some kind of a telephone device hidden in his glasses. Princeton man. You can always tell a Princeton man, Gregory, but you can’t tell him very much. Watch the papers pretty soon.

GD: How will they nail him? Run down in a crosswalk? A stampede of elephants flatten him in his garden?

RTC: You have an overheated imagination. I don’t know the how but I do know the why. Give it six months and the Dictator of Dent Place will be another stone in the cemetery.

GD: What about the one who killed himself by tying weights to his legs and shooting himself in the back of the head before jumping off his boat?

RTC: John Arthur Paisley. He used to be the deputy director of the Office of Strategic Research. Paisley. Tragic. Shouldn’t have sold out to the Russians. He was such a rotten mess when they found him that it took weeks to do an ID on him. There’ve been more.

GD: I have a packet coming in from overseas and the mail truck is at the end of the block. Let me ring off now, Robert and I can call you back later today.

RTC: Make it tomorrow. OK? Things to do.

(Concluded at 10:08 AM CST)


U.S., South Korea stage assault drill; North threatens to wipe out enemies

March 12, 2016

by Do-Gyun Kim


Pohang, South Korea: U.S. and South Korean troops staged a big amphibious landing exercise on Saturday, storming simulated North Korean beach defenses amid heightened tension and threats by the North to annihilate its enemies.

U.S., South Korea stage assault drill; North threatens to wipe out enemies

The landing and assault drills on South Korea’s east coast were part of eight weeks of joint exercises between the allies which the South has said are the largest ever. The North has denounced the exercises as “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high since the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and followed that with a long-range rocket launch last month, triggering new U.N. sanctions.

About 55 U.S. marine aircraft and 30 U.S. and South Korean ships, including the USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Boxer, which carry AV-8B Harrier attack jets and V-22 Osprey aircrafts, took part in the assault on beaches near Pohang city, the U.S. navy said.

“They will penetrate notional enemy beach defenses, establish a beach head, and rapidly transition forces and sustainment ashore,” the U.S. military based in South Korea said in a statement before the exercise.

The North’s military said it was prepared to counter the U.S. and South Korean forces “with an ultra-precision blitzkrieg strike of the Korean style”.

“The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK holding tightly the arms to annihilate the enemies with towering hatred for them are waiting for the dignified Supreme Command to issue an order to launch a preemptive strike of justice,” it said in comments carried by the state KCNA news agency.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

CNN reported on Saturday that North Korea has been searching for one of its submarines that has been missing for days off its east coast.

The submarine may be adrift under the sea or have sunk, perhaps after a technical problem during an exercise, CNN quoted U.S. officials with intelligence of secret U.S. monitoring of the North’s activities as saying.

North Korea has said it is developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles although doubts about that were raised after Western experts said publicly released footage of tests appeared to be fake.

On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched as his forces fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. This month the North conducted drills with what it said were newly developed large caliber rocket launchers.

Kim has ordered the country to improve its nuclear attack capability by conducting more tests, in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last week in response to the isolated state’s latest nuclear test.

Kim also said his country had miniaturized nuclear warheads to mount on ballistic missiles, although the U.S. and South Korean governments have expressed doubts about that too.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries have said they had notified the North of “the non-provocative nature” of the exercises involving about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.

The United States has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

         (Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Earthquake threat to California may be greater than thought, warn scientists

Latest research suggests that the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults might have ruptured together in the past, and may again trigger more powerful destruction

March 11, 2016

by Nicola Davis

The Guardian

Measuring the level of threat posed by severe earthquakes that could bring havoc to southern California should be reviewed, according to scientists who believe the risk could be greater than previously thought.

The warning follows latest research from a US geologist who found that two large faults in the region – the San Andreas and the neighbouring San Jacinto fault to its south – might have ruptured together in the past, producing an earthquake that caused damage as far north as San Buenaventura and was felt as south as San Diego.

“Looking at old earthquakes in general is really a good way to figure out what faults are capable of doing,” said Julian Lozos, assistant professor of geophysics, California State University, Northridge, who conducted the research.

Forming the boundary between two plates of Earth’s crust, the San Andreas fault runs for around 800 miles (1,300km) through the state of California with its southern section neighbouring the San Jacinto fault.

However while the San Jacinto fault is known to be active, and has experienced several earthquakes between magnitude 6 and 7 in the last 120 years, Lozos’s research suggests a simultaneous rupture with the San Andreas fault could have resulted in a more powerful earthquake of around magnitude 7.5.

Using computer models to explore an earthquake that struck southern California in 1812, Lozos found that the earthquake most likely began on the San Jacinto fault near Mystic Lake, travelled north and then ”jumped” to the San Andreas fault.

A similar scenario today, he warned, could be devastating. “San Jacinto goes through a lot more city that the San Andreas does – or it goes closer,” he said. “The San Andreas is certainly capable of having a 7.5 [magnitude earthquake] by itself. But the San Andreas and San Jacinto [together] then brings that earthquake closer to more people,” he added.

Others have also been quick to seize on the ramifications of the study. “The preponderance of evidence is that they did rupture jointly and that is really important in terms of how we plan for earthquakes because a lot of our planning has been based on the assumption that it was either the San Andreas or the San Jacinto but not the two together,” said Prof Lisa Grant Ludwig, from University of California Irvine.

Professor Fred Pollitz from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) also believes the possibility of a multi-fault rupture is significant. “This is important because the size of a multi-segment rupture can be much larger than the size of a single-segment rupture, ie.one restricted to say just the San Andreas fault,” he said.

Published in the journal Scientific Advances, the new study focuses on a large earthquake that struck Southern California on 8 December 1812. Thought to be around magnitude 7.5, the event caused widespread damage, with around 40 people killed as the church buildings of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano crumbled.

But unpicking the mystery of exactly what happened has been a challenge. With no scientific observations from the time to go on, geologists at first believed the earthquake had occurred on a fault known as the Newport-Inglewood fault before analysis of tree-rings led scientists to believe that the earthquake had occurred along the San Andreas fault instead. Further evidence suggested that an earthquake had occurred further south, on the northern section of the San Jacinto fault, at a similar time. Recent research meanwhile by Ludwig, Lozos and others into precariously balanced rocks – large lumps of stone that have remained untoppled by earthquakes – also hinted that the two faults could have ruptured simultaneously.

New computer modelling by Lozos not only suggests that the two faults did indeed rupture together, but also provides new insights into the path of the earthquake. “It provides an alternative model for how the 1812 earthquake occurred, and that changes our view of how the San Andreas – San Jacinto fault system might work,” explained Prof Kenneth Hudnut from the USGS.

Using data relating to the geology of the faults, their geometry and the stresses they experience, Lozos constructed a model for the San Andreas system which allowed him to explore what would happen if an earthquake had been triggered at four different locations. By comparing the results with reported damage from historical records, the locations of precariously balanced rocks and evidence of earthquakes gleaned from trenches dug across the faults – so-called paleoseismic data – he found that the 8 December 1812 earthquake most likely began in the Mystic Lake region of the San Jacinto fault in before travelling north and “jumping” across to the San Andreas fault.

“If you have got a friend that is stressed out and loses it, that is probably going to stress out their friends,” explains Lozos. “It is the same idea with faults. Faults are accumulating stress at different rates, they have different frictional thresholds. And the closer they are together the more likely they are to influence each other.” The upshot he says is that “sometimes the stress change from an earthquake – especially a pretty big earthquake – on a nearby fault might be enough to just overcome the frictional threshold and get that fault flipping.”

The study also suggests that an earthquake that jumped from the San Jacinto to the San Andreas fault fits with the occurrence of other earthquakes in the region, revealing that it could have played a role in triggering a further earthquake in the Transverse Ranges on 21 December in the same year.

Hudnut believes it’s a sophisticated model. “It is an application of state of the art dynamic modelling methods to this complex fault junction and it provides new insights and a nice new possible explanation for this devastating earthquake that hit in 1812,” he said.

Not everyone has shown as much enthusiasm. “We might be getting a clearer picture through this modelling, but I think it is not clear what changes in our hazard estimates or ideas of earthquake physics,” said Prof John Vidale, director of the Pacific NW Seismic Network. However, while Lozos admitted that existing models already allow for the possibility of multi-fracture events, he believes better simulations can improve our understanding. “I certainly think and hope that models like this will be useful in refining what a given fault junction can do,” he said.

While the study notes that it is not possible to prove conclusively that the new version of the events of the 1812 is correct, the work could help geologists unravel the nature of the San Andreas system.

“We can’t predict earthquakes but we are trying to understand them better,” said Ludwig. “Ultimately we need to know how to prepare for them because we can’t stop them.”


Tumours shrunk ‘dramatically’ in 11 days

March 10, 2016

by James Gallagher


A pair of drugs can dramatically shrink and eliminate some breast cancers in just 11 days, UK doctors have shown.

They said the “surprise” findings, reported at the European Breast Cancer Conference, could mean some women no longer need chemotherapy.

The drugs, tested on 257 women, target a specific weakness found in one-in-ten breast cancers.

Experts said the findings were a “stepping stone” to tailored cancer care.

The doctors leading the trial had not expected or even intended to achieve such striking results.

They were investigating how drugs changed cancers in the short window between a tumour being diagnosed and the operation to remove it.

But by the time surgeons came to operate, there was no sign of cancer in some patients.

Prof Judith Bliss, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said the impact was “dramatic”.

She told the BBC News website: “We were particularly surprised by these findings as this was a short-term trial.

“It became apparent some had a complete response. It’s absolutely intriguing, it is so fast.”

The drugs were lapatinib and trastuzumab, which is more widely known as Herceptin.

They both target HER2 – a protein that fuels the growth of some women’s breast cancers.

Herceptin works on the surface of cancerous cells while lapatinib is able to penetrate inside the cell to disable HER2.

The study, which also took place at NHS hospitals in Manchester, gave the treatment to women with tumours measuring between 1 and 3cm.

In less than two weeks of treatment, the cancer disappeared entirely in 11% of cases, and in a further 17% they were smaller than 5mm.

Current therapy for HER2 positive breast cancers is surgery, followed by chemotherapy and Herceptin.

But Prof Bliss believes the findings could eventually mean some women do not need chemotherapy.

However, that will require larger studies especially as HER2 positive cancers have a higher risk of coming back.

“We would have to be very clear we’re not taking a backwards step and increasing the risk of relapse,” Prof Bliss added.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We hope this particularly impressive combination trial will serve as a stepping stone to an era of more personalised treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer.

“Such a rapid response to treatment could soon give doctors the unprecedented ability to identify women responding so well that they would not need gruelling chemotherapy.”

Breast cancer is now thought of as at least ten separate diseases, each with a different cause, life expectancy and needing a different treatment.

Matching the specific errors in a tumour to targeted drugs is considered the future of cancer medicine.

Breast cancers, and particularly HER2 positive tumours, are at the forefront of this revolution in treatment.

Prof Arnie Purushotham, from Cancer Research UK which funded the study, said: “These results are very promising if they stand up in the long run, and could be the starting step of finding a new way to treat HER2 positive breast cancers.”


Donald Trump: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The GOP debate has put everything on the table

March 12, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


Everyone expected another street brawl, but the Republican presidential debate was … well, presidential.

The issues were actually discussed and debated, and foreign policy came to the forefront early on. When Social Security came up, three of the candidates said we needed to make cuts, raise the retirement age, and declared the system was inevitably going bankrupt, Donald Trump was the only one to dissent. He said he would leave the system as it is, and went into his usual song-and-dance about cutting “waste, fraud, and abuse.” When called on it by Dana Bash – who pointed out that experts estimate waste accounts for about $3 billion, leaving a $147 billion shortfall – Trump replied that they say this because:

“Because they don’t cover most of the subjects. We’re the policemen of the world. We take care of the entire world. We’re going to have a stronger military, much stronger. Our military is depleted. But we take care of Germany, we take care of Saudi Arabia, we take care of Japan, we take care of South Korea. We take – every time this maniac from North Korea does anything, we immediately send our ships. We get virtually nothing.

“We have 28,000 soldiers on the line, on the border between North and South Korea. We have so many places. Saudi Arabia was making a billion dollars a day, and we were getting virtually nothing to protect them. We are going to be in a different world. We’re going to negotiate real deals now, and we’re going to bring the wealth back to our country. We owe $19 trillion. We’re going to bring wealth back to our country.”

This is really quite remarkable. What Trump is saying is something Ron Paul used to say: that we could avoid national bankruptcy if only we would ditch the Empire. Unlike Paul, Trump – who is no libertarian – doesn’t oppose Social Security in principle: far from it, he pledges to leave it untouched. The point, however, is that he is focused on the crisis in this country, and sees our overseas entanglements as an albatross hung around our necks.

He topped this with an attack on the military contractors:

“They have a fantastic lobby. They take care of all of the senators, the Congressmen. They have great power and they don’t bid out. The military is never properly bid. When we go out to military bids, it’s not properly bid. And the people that really sell us the product are oftentimes the product we don’t want, only because that particular company has political juice, OK?”

This really underscores the corruption at the heart of the system. Recalling Eisenhower’s warning about the power of the military-industrial-congressional complex (that was the original formulation, which Eisenhower edited out of his speech), Trump exposed the real situation in this country: a government of completely bought-off politicians.

However, things went downhill from there. Trump’s answer about his “Islam hates us” statement was vague, and troubling. His original statement, to Anderson Cooper, was ambiguous, albeit bristling with hostility. It was, in short, Jacksonian, i.e. typical of the classical “isolationist,” who is loath to engage in foreign adventurism, but is positively ferocious and certain to overreact when aroused. The shadow of the 9/11 attacks stills hangs heavy over America, and the recent attack in San Bernardino conjured that Jacksonian ferocity and helped fuel Trump’s campaign.

Rubio had the best line: “I’m not interested in being politically correct. I’m interested in being correct.” He went on to point out that Muslim-Americans are part of this country, and many serve in the military. However, he also said “We’re going to have to work with the Saudis. We’re going to have to work with the Gulf kingdoms. We’re going to have to work with the Egyptians to defeat, for example, ISIS.” Yet it is the Saudis and the Gulf emirates that are main generators of terrorist ideology in the region: it is they who are funding and organizing the terrorist legions who have decimated Syria. It is the Saudis who have funded Wahabist propaganda and the building of extremist mosques from Bangladesh to Bosnia. Work with them? We should be holding them to account.

Cruz’s answer was positively sinister: after taking the opportunity to attack Trump’s profession of neutrality when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and declaring that – unlike Trump – he’d “rip up the Iran deal on my first day as President,” he declared:

“Let me give you an example of a Muslim for example, we ought to be standing with, President el-Sisi of Egypt, a president of a Muslim country who is targeting radical Islamic terrorism.”

Stand with a ruthless dictator who has jailed thousands without trial, including journalists, wrecked the economy, and destroyed any hope of establishing democracy? When, later on, the clueless Jake Tapper – formerly of Salon.com – tried to pin support for despots on Trump, Cruz’s enthusiasm for the Egyptian variety didn’t come into the equation. Tapper, of course, has a longstanding hatred for Trump.

Cruz went on to declare: “The Ayatollah Khomeini wants nuclear weapons to murder us” – getting both the name of the Ayatollah and the facts about Iran’s stance wrong. When and where did anyone in Iranian leadership say they want nuclear weapons, let alone to “murder us”? Lying Ted, as Trump calls him, was at it again. Getting on yet another neoconservative hobbyhorse, he attacked Trump on Israel:

“Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. As president, I will not be neutral. And let me say this week, a Texan, Taylor Force. He was an Eagle Scout, he was a West Point graduate, he was an Army veteran. He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist this week in Israel, and I don’t think we need a commander in chief who is neutral between the Palestinian terrorists and one of our strongest allies in the world, the nation of Israel.”

Hugh Hewitt, the fake “journalist” who started out as a pro-war propagandist during the Bush years, took up Cruz’s rant from that point, asking Trump “Do you still want to stay neutral when the Palestinian authority is inciting these attacks?”

Trump reiterated his oft-stated stance after prefacing it with a long disquisition on how “pro-Israel” he is, including a reference to his Jewish daughter and son-in-law:

“I think if we’re going to ever negotiate a peace settlement, which every Israeli wants, and I’ve spoken to the toughest and the sharpest, they all want peace, I think it would be much more helpful if – I’m a negotiator. If I go in, I’ll say I’m pro-Israel and I’ve told that to everybody and anybody that would listen.

“But I would like to at least have the other side think I’m somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done. Maybe we can get a deal. I think it’s probably the toughest negotiation of all time. But maybe we can get a deal done.”

It would’ve been easy for Trump to avoid trouble, pledge allegiance to Tel Aviv, and forget about it: but he’s a stubborn man, and once he gets an idea in his head – for good or for ill – he sticks to it. That may not always be such a good thing, but I this case it certainly is. I think here is where Trump is at his most “presidential”: unlike the others on that stage, he really does see himself as President of these United States, and – taking on that role – he realizes that brokering such a deal would greatly advance American interests, not to mention cement his role as the deal-maker of the century.

In response, Lying Ted was back on the attack, fibbing his head off with the assertion that the Palestinian Authority is in a “unity government” with Hamas. That unity government collapsed in 2015, and shows no signs of being reconstituted. In reality, there never even was a “unity government” – the actual ministers in the government did not belong to either Hamas or the Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority. Instead, it consisted of technocrats whose job it was to pave the way for new elections in both the occupied territories and Gaza. Naturally, none of the moderators called Cruz on it: certainly Hewitt, who probably does know the facts, had no interest in doing so. And of course both Dana Bash and Jake Tapper are tools who know when to keep their mouths shut.

Rubio tried to outdo Cruz with a “pro-Israel” diatribe, explicitly ruling out any prospect of negotiating a peaceful settlement of this long-festering conflict because “there is no one to negotiate with.” He repeated Cruz’s assertion that the “unity government” still exists: so much for his much-touted foreign policy expertise! Repeating the Likud party line that an independent Palestine “will be used as a launching pad” for attacks on the Jewish state, Rubio separated himself from every American President from Bill Clinton onward – including George W. Bush – in ruling out a negotiated settlement leading to a two-state solution.

Getting back to Trump, the real estate mogul talked about his many Jewish friends in New York City who want such a deal to become a reality, and reiterated his stance: “Some believe it’s possible. It may not be, in which case we’ll find out. But it would be a priority if I become president to see what I could do.”

On this issue, Trump towered over the others: he came across as someone the audience could imagine as our next President. When history beckons, Trump’s instinct is to grasp it by the hand.

The next question from the ridiculously biased Hewitt revealed answers from all the candidates that rule them all out as supportable in any way.

“Just this week,” averred Hewitt, “the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin, essentially said it’s going to take a lot more troops on the ground to fix – to end the ISIS threat in Syria and Iraq.” Turning to Cruz, he asked:

“From the beginning of this campaign, you have said you will follow the judgment of military commanders in the Pentagon. So here’s the commander saying we need a lot more troops on the ground. Will you follow that advice and inject Americans again into what is in essence is metastasizing Sunni-Shia civil war?”

To begin with, Hewitt is a bigger liar than Cruz: Gen. Austin said no such thing. Here is what he did say:

“’Clearly there are things that we will want to do to increase the capability a bit, to be able to increase the pace of operations, and that will require some additional capability. We have gone through and done some analysis … to see what types of things we need to provide. And we have made those recommendations.’

“While Austin declined to share the recommendations in the hearing, he said additional US military personnel could help develop better intelligence on the ground, potential provide more advise-and-assist teams and help with some logistics. ‘We could increase some elements of the Special Operations footprint,’ he explained.”

Lying Ted claimed that we’re fighting with one hand tied behind our back, and said we aren’t arming the Kurds (we are). He never challenged Hewitt’s assertion that Gen. Austin is recommending “a lot more” troops on the ground, although he probably knows it’s incorrect. Instead, he reversed his previous reluctance to commit to grounds troops in Syria and went along with Hewitt’s fictional account of what “the generals” supposedly want.

Worst of all was Trump, who fell right into Hewitt’s ambush:

“HEWITT: Mr. Trump, more troops?

“TRUMP: We really have no choice. We have to knock out ISIS. We have to knock the hell out of them. We have to get rid of it. And then come back and rebuild our country, which is falling apart. We have no choice.

“HEWITT: How many…

“TRUMP: I would listen to the generals, but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000 to 30,000. We have to knock them out fast. Look, we’re not allowed to fight. We can’t fight. We’re not knocking out the oil because they don’t want to create environmental pollution up in the air. I mean, these are things that nobody even believes. They think we’re kidding. They didn’t want to knock out the oil because of what it’s going to do to the carbon footprint. We don’t fight like we used to fight. We used to fight to win. Now we fight for no reason whatsoever. We don’t even know what we’re doing.

“So, the answer is we have to knock them out. We have to knock them out fast. And we have to get back home. And we have to rebuild our country which is falling apart.”

Of course Trump has no idea what Gen. Austin actually said at that congressional hearing, and Hewitt knows he doesn’t. And Trump’s answer to the question – really a complete reversal of his previous position that we should let the Russians take care of ISIS – underscores both the weaknesses and the strengths of “isolationism,” American style.

It isn’t pacifism, that’s for sure. What Trump represents – in his crude, inconsistent way – is the traditional American antipathy for getting involved in overseas adventurism. And yet once we are involved, the American isolationist wants to win. Blinded by the illusion that a quick victory is possible, he forgets his objections to the interventionist regime-change panacea once his Jacksonian fury is provoked. Trump’s critique of our present policy – “Now we fight for no reason whatsoever. We don’t even know what we are doing” – could apply equally to his own inchoate vision.

And yet we should note that his answer to Hewitt was framed in “isolationist” terms: he was careful to reiterate that “we have to get back home. And we have to rebuild our country which is falling apart.” In Trump’s view, foreign wars are a diversion from his main task of reversing the decline he sees all around him. What he doesn’t realize is that such diversions are the main reason for that decline.

What’s significant about Trump is his fundamental aversion to the internationalist consensus that has long dominated both parties. What’s dangerous about him, however, is that he could easily be diverted into another Middle Eastern war, as evidenced by his answer to Hewitt’s question. He simply can’t be trusted.

This ambiguity translates into all the other issues that came up at Thursday’s debate. On the Cuban issue and the Iranian deal, Trump went into his usual song-and-dance about “making a better deal,” going so far as to say he would close the US embassy in Cuba until such a mythical deal can be made. On the Iranian issue, he denounced the deal made by the Obama administration and went further by saying that he would not only police it but also predicting that the Iranians would be unlikely to keep to it and that it would “probably” be annulled.

Much of this is political maneuvering: Trump was in his “unifier” mode, as he has been lately, and he is eager to cut another one of his famous “deals” – this time with the GOP Establishment. So he’s trimming his “isolationist” sails, albeit not enough to alienate his constituency and appear weak. What it all boils down to is that we can’t know what he would actually do in office – and that is a deal breaker, as he would put it, for anyone who is looking for a fundamental shift in our foreign policy of global intervention.

Speaking of Trump’s constituency, this is the real value of his candidacy. Trump, the man and the candidate, is beside the point: the real gold mine here, which most anti-interventionists (and libertarians) have overlooked, is that Trump’s anti-internationalist rhetoric is one of his main attractions. He has touched a deep nerve in this country, which no one has managed to match, in large part because he realizes that things can’t go on as they have – and that our overseas empire is dragging us down into an irreversible decline.

So in that sense the amazing success of his candidacy – against all odds – is cause

for optimism. What the rise of Trumpism shows is that the sentiment is there, the support exists for a foreign policy that puts America first. There is, however, a great big caveat.  As that bitter old “isolationist” Garet Garrett put it some seventy years ago:

“No doubt the people know they can have their Republic back if they want it enough to fight for it and to pay the price. The only point is that no leader has yet appeared with the courage to make them choose.”

Donald Trump is not that leader. Yet his candidacy may very well pave the way for such a leader to emerge. In spite of his many flaws and inconsistencies, he has succeeded in breaking the neoconservative monopoly on what constitutes Republican foreign policy orthodoxy – and, what’s more, his success at the polls has exposed the neocons as generals without much of an army. These accomplishments have been pointedly ignored by all too many anti-interventionists, both leftists and libertarians, who are more concerned with convincing themselves and their little sectarian circles of their own moral purity than with taking advantage of Trump’s demolition of the War Party.

Libertarians are particularly blinded by dogmatism when it comes to Trump. What most of them don’t understand is that Trump’s broad foreign policy prescription – stop subsidizing our “allies,” stop policing the world – if carried out would objectively roll back the size, scope, and expense of Big Government in this country, regardless of Trump’s intent. That’s because our empire not only requires a huge expenditure of tax dollars but also erodes our civil liberties due to the “blowback” we must be on guard against constantly. Trump is terrible on such issues as Apple’s refusal to submit to the government’s demands to unlock its technology to permit surveillance. Yet the chief consequence of his broadly “isolationist” foreign policy would be to eventually debunk the alleged need for such surveillance.

Libertarians have traditionally treated foreign policy as a subsidiary issue, something to be tacked on to the usual litany of free market and civil libertarian concerns most “libertarian-ish” politicians and publicists invoke. The reality, however, is that a noninterventionist foreign policy is central to the philosophy of libertarianism, and this is proved by the history of this country, which has experienced a “Great Leap Forward” in the power and reach of government with every war. If the last twenty years haven’t taught us that lesson, then one can only wonder when and if libertarians will ever learn it.

I’ll end this with a prediction: Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee. I don’t care how many delegates he amasses: for all his inconsistencies, he still represents a deadly threat to neoconservative domination of the GOP, and the party elite isn’t going to let him have “their” GOP. Doug Wead, a longtime libertarian and strategist for both the Ron Paul and Rand Paul campaign, here outlines the many ways in which the Establishment can – and, in my view, will – steal the nomination from under Trump’s nose. Wead knows the nuts and bolts of the Republican party[D1]  machinery all too well, and I don’t believe Trump and his campaign managers have a clue about what they are up against.

In a sense, this is the best outcome we could hope for: by stealing the nomination away from Trump, the elites will de-legitimize not only the Republican party but also the illusion of electoral politics and American “democracy.” People will wake up to the fact that the game is rigged – and that’s when our not-so-wise rulers will begin see that they’re in some really serious trouble.


Oil price ‘may have bottomed,’ says IEA

The oil price may have bottomed out, according to the International Energy Agency. IEA noted oil’s remarkable recovery over recent weeks and said the upward trend could be set to continue.

March 11, 2016


Oil prices have recovered 50 percent from the 12 year lows reached in January, to now stand at around $40 (35 euros) per barrel.

In its monthly oil market report released on Friday, the IEA credited lower oil output in the United States and other countries as helping to shrink the global oil glut and nudge prices out of an 18-month rut.

One factor expected to drive an upward movement long-term is talk among OPEC states to freeze production amounts, which the IAE terms a “first stab at co-coordinated action.” It warned that is would take several months before the outcome of negotiations was known, however.

Supply and demand balance

The agency also said that the impact of Iran’s return to the market following the lifting of economic sanctions in January had been “less dramatic than the Iranians said it would be.

Furthermore, IEA pointed to supply disruption in Iraq, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, steady demand for oil and recent weakness of the dollar as other reasons supporting expectations for a price rebound.

Overall the report remained cautious and said that there was likely a long way to go before supply and demand found a real balance:

“For prices there may be a light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel, but we cannot be precisely sure when in 2017 the oil market will achieve the much-desired balance,” the IEA said.

Oil prices have tumbled 70 percent since August 2014, falling as low as $27 (24 euros) per barrel earlier this year.


The 4 Most Common Student Loan Problems, And How To Fix Them

by Rod Ebrahimi


Do you have student loans? If so, your loans make up a tiny fraction of the whopping $1 trillion total student loan debt in America. Believe it or not, the average student loan holder has about $25,000 of loans. Whether you have more or less than average, you should know that there are programs and opportunities to help you manage your student loan debt and become debt free.

Here are solutions to the 4 most common student loan problems:

         I don’t know what kind of student loans I have

The federal government – specifically the U.S. Department of Education – is the biggest student loan lender. However, it can be difficult to tell if your loans are federal loans or private loans. That’s because there are really two different types of “federal” loans: the ones that are owned by the government (direct) and the ones that are backed by the government but owned by a private lender.

The ones that are backed by the government are FederalFamilyEducationLoans (FFEL), and despite being owned by private companies they are generally considered federal loans they have relatively low interest rates because the private lender does not have to worry about you defaulting on the loan (if you were to default, the government would reimburse the private lender for the outstanding balance).

So… in order to determine which kind of student loans you have, you need to do a little research. Use the National Student Loan Data System (click on “Financial Aid Review”) to look up your loans and find out exactly what type they are – and whether they are federal or private.

My monthly student loan payments are too high

It’s not a surprise that this is one of the most common problems faced by student loan borrowers. Since the global recession, it’s been difficult, especially for young people, to find good, high-paying jobs. Many graduates are finding it difficult to make their minimum monthly student loan payments. Well, what if I were to tell you that there’s a program most people don’t know about that can give you some breathing room while you work to achieve greater financial stability?

The program is called income-based repayment (IBR), and it works if you have federal student loans. The IBR plan adjusts your monthly payments so that you will pay no more than 15% of your current income toward your student loans. Yep, you read that right! This can be a blessing for people who desperately need a little more flexibility in their monthly budget. With IBR, you’ll also have a different timeline for repayment – 25 years instead of 10 years. Of course, that means you will pay more interest in the long-run, but it might be worth it if you absolutely can’t afford your student loan payments right now. And if you aren’t able to pay off the loans after 25 years of making payments under the IBR plan, the government will forgive any remaining debt.

But what if you have private student loans? Good question. It turns out there are some ways to adjust your repayment plan even when your loans are not backed by the government. What you need to do is call your lender and explain that you are having trouble making your minimum payments at the moment and that you would like to switch to an extended repayment plan. In many cases, your lender will work with you to adjust your monthly payments. But again, remember that you’ll pay more in interest over the long-run, so think it through carefully.

         I’m confused by too many student loan bills

Do you feel like you get 25 different envelopes related to student loan bills every month? Does it seem overwhelming? if so, you should consider the Special Direct Consolidation Loan program, which allows you to group all your government-backed student loans (including the ones serviced by private lenders) together into one loan – which means you will only have one payment… and one bill!

This can be extremely helpful in cases where you are having a hard time making sense of all your debt and are unable to formulate a consistent plan for paying it off. By streamlining your student loan bills down to just one, you will be able to focus on the amount you’re paying each month and determine the best way to manage your student loan and eventually get rid of it. Additionally, the Department of Education will take 0.25 percent off your interest rate for each loan you include in the consolidation.

However, the program is for government-backed loans only. If you have private loans, you can still consider whether you want to consolidate, but you’ll need to do some research to identify your best option. One way you might get a better interest rate is if your credit score has improved significantly since you originally got your student loans. In that case, you can use your good credit score to negotiate and save money in the long-run.

I don’t think I’ll ever pay off my student loans

With so many students taking on ever-greater amounts of debt (and then being confronted by this historically tough job market), many are wondering if they will ever pay off their student loans. If you are one of them, you should be aware of the options available to you.

For people with direct federal loans, there is a great program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows you to eliminate your entire remaining student loan debt after 10 years of working full-time in a qualifying public service job. The types of jobs that qualify include those with federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as with any tax-exempt non-profit organization. Even professionals who work in the health care, emergency services, or law enforcement fields may be eligible.

But if you don’t work in a public service job, what can you do? Well, to start with, you should take advantage of online tools that can help you make a plan for paying off your student loans.

And if you aren’t able to make payments on your loans right now, it’s important to know the difference between these stages of non-payment:

•Delinquency is when you have not paid your most recent bill(s). Some experts estimate that up to 25% of student loan borrowers are delinquent right now. Rather than simply remain in delinquency (and rack up interest charges) it’s better to contact your loan provider and research the options below.

•Deferment is an a temporary suspension of loan payments for a period of time agreed on by you and your lender, usually due to life events such as re-enrolling in school, unemployment, or economic hardship. In some cases, you won’t be charged interest on the loan during deferment, but this depends on your individual situation.

•Forbearance is also a temporary period of time when you stop paying, or make reduced payments, due to financial difficulties. However, you will be charged interest during this period.

•Default refers to the status of your loans when you have stopped paying entirely – usually after 9 months of not receiving a payment, a lender will place you in default. Once this happens, your loans may be turned over to a collections agency, and you will be held liable for the costs of collecting on the loan. You can also be sued for the entire remaining balance of the loan. And you will be at risk of having your wages garnished, up to 15% of your disposable income. Meanwhile, your default will also appear on your credit history for up to 7 years, making it difficult to obtain credit in the future.By understanding the different risks and consequences involved in these four scenarios, you will be better prepared to make decisions regarding your student loan repayment. Whatever you do, remember it is always better to be proactive and contact your lender to try to work out an agreement rather than simply let your loans become delinquent – or worse, go into default.

Hopefully the information above has helped you find answers to some of the most common and frustrating questions regarding student loans. If you are struggling to pay your student loans, take some solace in the fact that millions of other borrowers are in the same position as you. And if you need more personal guidance, seek out a qualified student loan counselor or non-profit organization who may be able to offer you individual guidance.


The Seven Most Vitriolic Passages in DOJ’s Response to Apple

March 11, 2016

by Jenna McLaughlin

The Intercept

In case there was ever any doubt, the Justice Department declared war on Apple on Thursday.

Prosecutors demanded that a federal judge force Apple to unlock San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone in a brief that bristled with so much venom that Apple’s top lawyer, Bruce Sewell, said it “reads like an indictment.”

Like the legal motion from Apple that inspired it, years from now, people will look back at this brief and recall:

1. When the DOJ said Apple got itself into this mess in the first place:

This burden, which is not unreasonable, is the direct result of Apple’s deliberate marketing decision to engineer its products so that the government cannot search them, even with a warrant.

2. When the DOJ mocked Apple for suggesting it cared about its customers’ rights:

Instead of complying, Apple attacked the All Writs Act as archaic, the Court’s Order as leading to a “police state,” and the FBI’s investigation as shoddy, while extolling itself as the primary guardian of Americans’ privacy.

3. When the DOJ accused Apple of subverting the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and democracy:

Apple’s rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amendment, longstanding precedent and venerable laws, and the democratically elected branches of government.

4. When the DOJ tried to belittle Apple and its supporters for being alarmist about totally irrelevant things, like privacy and security:

Apple and its amici try to alarm this Court with issues of network security, encryption, back doors, and privacy, invoking larger debates before Congress and in the news media. That is a diversion. Apple desperately wants — desperately needs — this case not to be “about one isolated iPhone.”5. When the DOJ insisted it was being nice, and could just take whatever it wanted if it felt like it, and said it in the snidest way possible:

For the reasons discussed above, the FBI cannot itself modify the software on Farook’s iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature. The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers.

6. When the DOJ suggested that Apple wouldn’t face all these terrible burdens if it didn’t help so many criminals and terrorists:

Next, Apple argues that the Order is unduly burdensome because, if it complies here, it is likely to face other AWA orders in the future. By accumulating its hypothetical future burdens, Apple suggests that because so much criminal evidence is hidden on its warrant-proof iPhones, it should not be compelled to assist in gathering evidence related to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Apple is wrong.

7. When the DOJ said the All Writs Act has never been and could never be abused because judges are so awesome:

As the decades since New York Telephone have shown, as indeed the centuries since 1789 have proven, courts’ exercise of power under the Act does not lead to a headlong tumble down a slippery slope to tyranny. That is because the Act itself — by relying upon the sound discretion of federal judges and by being subordinate to specific congressional legislation addressing the particular issue — builds in the necessary safeguards.

Sewell, Apple’s senior vice president of legal and global security, was outraged.

“In 30 years of practice, I don’t think I’ve seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case,” he said.

“For the first time we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it.”





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