TBR News March 7, 2019

Mar 07 2019

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

Washington, D.C. March 7, 2019:” “Not only are bad credit risks used to create and sell mortgages on American homes that were essentially worthless but by grouping all of these together and selling them abroad, the banks all made, and are marking,  huge profits. When the kissing has to stop, there are two major groups holding the financial bag. The first are the investors and the second are, not those with weak credit, but those who have had excellent credit and who have been able, and willing to pay off their mortgages.

Unfortunately, as no one knows who owns the title to any home, when the legitimate mortgage holder finally pays off his mortgage, or tries to sell his house, a clear title to said house or property cannot ever be found so, in essence, the innocent mortgage payer can never own or sell his house. This is a terrible economic time bomb quietly ticking away under the feet of the Bank of America and if, and when, it explodes, another bank is but a fond memory.”


The Table of Contents

  • North Korea rebuilding rocket test site: report
  • Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House?
  • Ex-Trump attorney Cohen hands over new documents to Congress
  • Bread, Circuses, and Duct Tape
  • American Civil War 2: US media will have only itself to blame if all hell breaks loose
  • Trump dealt blow as US trade deficit jumps
  • Arctic Oil: Who owns it?
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Mark Zuckerberg Is Trying to Play You — Again



North Korea rebuilding rocket test site: report

New satellite imagery suggests North Korea started rebuilding a rocket launch site before Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump’s Vietnam summit. The site had been dismantled last year as part of Kim’s denuclearization pledge.

March 6, 2018


North Korea has started restoring part of a long-range rocket launch site it dismantled last year, according to a report published on Wednesday by Washington-based think tank 38 North.

Satellite evidence suggests that work had begun at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the run-up to a summit in Vietnam between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, 38 North said.

“On the launch pad, the rail-mounted transfer building is being reassembled,” said the report. “Two support cranes are observed at the building, the walls have been erected and a new roof added. The walls appear to be one segment taller than the previous transfer building and new truss is being installed.”

South Korean media reported on Wednesday that lawmakers were briefed by intelligence officials about ongoing developments at the launch site, which was previously used to assemble space-launch vehicles and conduct rocket engine tests.

The site was dismantled last year as part of Kim’s pledge to denuclearize at a historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore.

The report comes after the second summit between Trump and Kim failed to achieve progress on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump blamed the summit breakdown on Kim for demanding extensive sanctions relief in exchange for further denuclearization. But experts told DW that the talks collapsed because Trump had failed to entrust diplomats with carrying out pre-summit negotiations to secure a deal.

“As a consequence, he got into that meeting and he didn’t get what he wanted,” Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer told DW last week. “They weren’t prepped properly, and he had to walk away from the meeting. He has no one to blame but himself.”

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who led pre-summit negotiations efforts, is expected to meet with South Korean and Japanese negotiators on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he believes Washington will send a delegation to North Korea in the coming weeks. But efforts to restart negotiations could be stalled after Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, warned of “ramping those sanctions up.”


Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House?

March 6, 2019

by Mehdi Hasan

The Interept

It is a question that has been bothering me for many months now: What if Donald Trump is defeated in November 2020, or impeached before then, but refuses to leave office?

Last week we discovered it’s a question that also bothers Trump’s former personal lawyer. In his concluding statement before the House Oversight Committee, Michael Cohen issued this ominous warning: “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power. And this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”

To be clear: Since the first handover of the White House from one party to another, back in 1801, there has never not been a peaceful transition of power in the United States. There have been close calls — including the Compromise of 1877 and, of course, George W. Bush vs. Al Gore in 2000 — but the system has always worked. Even Richard Nixon, to whom Trump is oft-compared, conceded to John F. Kennedy in 1960, despite numerous accusations of vote-rigging by the Democrats. “In our campaigns,” the then-sitting vice president told Congress, “no matter how hard they may be, no matter how close the election may turn out to be, those who lose accept the verdict and support those who win.” In 1981, Ronald Reagan referred to the “orderly transfer of authority” in the U.S. as “nothing less than a miracle.”

Enter, however, Donald Trump. The 45th president of the United States has made clear that he does not give a damn about political, legal, or constitutional norms; his only concern is with winning at all costs. When running for office in 2016, he refused to commit to accepting the result of the presidential election. After emerging victorious, he baselessly claimed to have “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” In the wake of the 2018 midterms, he ridiculously suggested that Republican losses were a result of “potentially illegal votes” involving people changing their clothes to vote multiple times, and falsely accused Democrats of trying to “steal” the Senate and gubernatorial elections in Florida.

Trump has been laying the groundwork for 2020. Think about it: Why would a president who has violated a number of U.S. laws, traditions, and norms — from obstructing justice, to defying the emoluments clause, to threatening the free press, to inciting violence — show any deference to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution?

Consider this scenario: On the morning of November 3, 2020, it becomes clear that Trump has lost both the electoral college and the popular vote to the Democratic candidate, whoever they may be. The president, however, rather than calling his Democratic opponent to concede, holds a rally with his supporters at which he declares himself the winner, tells the crowd “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” slams the “fake news” media, and claims “millions and millions” of people voted illegally for the Democrats. He denounces a “deep state” coup and warns of “violence.”

Do you really think this isn’t possible? That this potential scenario shouldn’t make us all very afraid?

This is a man, after all, who point-blank refused to accept that he lost the popular vote when he won the presidency in 2016 — so why should we assume that he would accept the result of an election that he loses? On Tuesday, Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for Trump’s re-election campaign, even tweeted out a statement that “desperate Democrats know they cannot beat President Trump in 2020… that they have zero chance of winning legitimately.”

Remember, there are multiple reasons why Trump might cry foul and refuse to concede come 2020, and why he might also believe he could get away with it.

First, there is his personality. Trump is a malignant narcissist who values himself and his own advancement over everyone and everything else. Using and abusing his presidential powers to protect his prestige and position would be “very tempting” for him, to quote professor Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the 2017 book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

“When you have extreme narcissism,” Lee told me on my podcast, “Deconstructed,” last month, “the danger of it is that one can quickly go to resorting to violence and resorting to extreme measures to move away from the possibility of humiliation and to project force.”

Second, there’s the possibility of prison. Right now, Trump is protected by Justice Department guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be indicted or prosecuted. Got that? A sitting president. Not a former president. As Trump supporter Chris Christie told CNN last week, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are trying to build a case “against the president for when he leaves office.” So why agree to leave office?

Third, there are the president’s friends and allies, who will be loudly urging him to stay on and fight while whipping up grassroots fervor on his behalf. Asked about the prospect of impeachment, in September 2017, for example, Trump confidant Roger Stone responded, “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

In December 2017, Stone and fellow far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — who Trump has praised as “amazing” — filmed themselves at a shooting range and posted the video to Jones’s YouTube channel with the title “Roger Stone Prepares For Civil War After Trump Is Removed From Office: LIVE AUTO GUNFIRE.”

How about Fox News? We know the far-right cable network exerts massive influence over this president — to quote from a recent Vox headline, “Fox News demanded a government shutdown — and got one.” Fox hosts have accused the “deep state” of plotting to “destroy the presidency of Donald Trump”; denounced a “coup” attempt against the president; and suggested Justice Department officials be “led out in cuffs.” Why wouldn’t they demand Trump hang on, and tell their viewers to back the (defeated) president?

Could we rely on congressional Republicans to rediscover their backbones and insist he stand down? Don’t. Be. Silly.

How about Republican voters? Well, three-quarters (75 percent) of them trust Trump over the media, while more than half (52 percent) support postponing the 2020 election.

Would the generals step in? Maybe. But how would the Secret Service react?

And what do the Democrats plan to do if Trump uses his presidential bully pulpit, in the weeks and months after the election, to incite riots and spread falsehoods about illegal immigrants and the “deep state”? Would leading media organizations, obsessed as they are with both sides-ism, have the courage to call out a GOP dictator-in-waiting?

These are some of the questions that at least need to be asked right now — even if there might not be any obvious answers. We have to listen to Cohen. This is not a drill, and there is no reason to believe Trump will go quietly if he is defeated. There is every reason, however, to believe he and his allies will incite hysteria and even violence. Those who assume otherwise haven’t been paying attention.


Ex-Trump attorney Cohen hands over new documents to Congress

March 6, 2019

by Mark Hosenball


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen provided the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee with new documents and may hand over more, the panel’s chairman said after a day-long hearing behind closed doors.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff told reporters that Cohen was cooperative and the eight-hour hearing was “very productive.” He did not say what the new documents related to and declined to comment on the substance of Cohen’s testimony.

“We had requested documents of Mr. Cohen. He has provided additional documents to the committee. There may be additional documents that he still has to offer and his cooperation with our committee continues,” Schiff said.

Cohen shared documents with lawmakers showing edits made to written testimony he provided to Congress in 2017, saying that an unsuccessful plan by Trump to build a tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, a congressional source said, confirming reports by CNN and the New York Times.

Cohen subsequently pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in the testimony. He has since said pursuit of the Moscow project continued until June 2016, after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination.

During testimony last week, Cohen said Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, was among those who edited the 2017 document. Sekulow has called Cohen’s assertion “completely false.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump denied he had any business dealings with Russia but has since defended the proposed tower project.

Cohen in public testimony last week before a different House committee, called Trump, his employer for more than 10 years, a “racist,” “conman” and “cheat.”

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement that Cohen has now spent 16 hours testifying before the intelligence committee.

“Mr. Cohen responded to all questions truthfully and has agreed at the request of chairman Schiff to provide additional information in the future, if needed. He also offered to answer additional questions from Republican members. He remains committed to telling the truth and cooperating with authorities,” Davis added.

Two congressional sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Cohen was also due to face questions from lawmakers on the issue of a pardon from his former boss. The sources added that Trump’s representatives maintain that Cohen’s team first raised the issue of receiving a pardon while the former lawyer’s representatives have said the opposite.

Intelligence panel members also were expected to question Cohen on Wednesday about Trump’s discussions with advisers in 2017 about how to respond when news reports first surfaced revealing that senior campaign figures including his son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, one of the sources said.

Trump’s son arranged the meeting after being promised “dirt” on Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. When news of the meeting broke, Trump Jr. issued a statement saying it was set up to discuss adoption policy, not politics. He later admitted he had been expecting intelligence on Clinton.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is completing an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction, Russia has denied election interference.

Cohen is due to report to prison on May 6 to begin a three-year sentence after pleading guilty in a separate case last year to criminal charges including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Lisa Shumaker and Alistair Bell



Bread, Circuses, and Duct Tape

Bound at the Border, or How to Make Border Porn

by Greg Grandin

Tom Dispatch

On February 15th, Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency in order to fund his “great, great” border wall without having to go through Congress. There is, of course, no emergency, despite the rape fantasy that the president has regularly tried to pass off as public policy. In speech after speech, including his declaration of that emergency, he has told the same story: the United States needs a border wall to prevent sex traffickers from driving women into the country, bound with duct tape.

“Women are tied up,” he typically says. “They’re bound. Duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases they can’t even breathe.”

It’s a scenario he’s only continued to elaborate over time. “They have tape over their mouths, electrical tape, usually blue tape, as they call it. It’s powerful stuff. Not good. And they have three, four, five of them in vans, or three of them in back seats of cars.” As they approach ports of entry, he swears, the vehicles carrying them “get off the road, and they drive out into the desert and they come in, they make a left turn — usually it’s a left, not a right.”

Fact-checkers and experts in border sex trafficking have been quick to insist that they know of no such incidents, however elaborately imagined — not one. Instead, most women and children forced into prostitution, they report, enter the country through legal ports of entry.

Border Patrol headquarters even sent out a request asking agents to provide any evidence whatsoever that might help support the president’s tall tales. None apparently did. It’s worth noting that Trump first added stories of duct-taped women to his border repertoire in early January, not too long after the heartbreaking news broke of the discovery of two Saudi sisters, 16 and 22, found dead in New York City’s Hudson River, duct-taped together. Their deaths were ruled suicides, committed after the United States denied them asylum and ordered them deported to Saudi Arabia, a close American ally. Their bodies even washed up on West 68th Street and Riverside Drive, close to Trump Place Condominiums. (He seems inescapable.)

In any case, one doesn’t need Sigmund Freud to grasp the crude displacement evidently underway here. By narrating the “crisis” on the border in a pornographic manner, painting it as a hellscape ruled by MS-13 murderers and rapists, President Trump is undoubtedly using ever more salacious fables to sublimate guilty desires, as well as his and the nation’s complicity in hellish atrocities.

Currently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has nearly 50,000 migrants in custody. That’s roughly the number of people Canada incarcerates in its entire prison system. And no one knows how many migrant children the U.S. is detaining, except that the number is much higher than the 2,737 listed in court documents. The Department of Health and Human Services can’t even provide journalists with an accurate count: “The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown” is all its spokespeople can say.

Many of those children are housed in tent compounds in the desert or vacant Walmarts, forced to eat in shifts and sleep on the floors of chain-link cells covered only by a thin, metallic blanket. In one Florida detention center, children are packed “like sardines” in large halls stacked with bunk beds with little room even to walk. At such places, they are reportedly taunted or even sexually terrorized, either by staff or older migrants. They are overprescribed psychotropic drugs to numb them, given pills to make them sleep, and often refused medical attention when sick.

Border Patrol agents have even reportedly snatched babies from their mothers as they were breastfeeding them. Families have been tear gassed at the border and children have already died in Border Patrol custody (though “custody” is undoubtedly too soft a word to describe what the U.S. is doing to the progeny of nearby republics). “These kids are incarcerated,” said an MSNBC reporter who visited one of the detention complexes.

Some of the incarcerated migrant children are then delivered to a Christian adoption service with links to Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. According to the Associated Press, the Trump administration has all but given up trying to reunite children placed in “sponsor” homes with their actual families, since returning them, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, “would present grave child welfare concerns.”

Make Heaven Weep

Racial and sexual violence on the border has a long history. In Washington’s 1846 war on Mexico, for instance, which established the current boundary between the two countries, state militia volunteers and Army regulars rampaged across that region, burning churches, raping women, and scalping men.

On February 9, 1847, for example, a member of an Arkansas volunteer regiment raped a Mexican woman near the regiment’s camp at Agua Nueva in the state of Coahuila and Mexicans retaliated by killing a U.S. soldier. In response, more than 100 of those Arkansas volunteers cornered a group of war refugees in a cave. Screaming “like fiends,” according to one witness, they raped and slaughtered their victims, even as the women and children among them were “shrieking for mercy.” By the time it ended, scores of Mexicans lay dead or dying on a cave floor thick with clotted blood. Many of them had been scalped. (That’s hardly surprising since more than a few of those U.S. Army volunteers had, in the pre-war years, made their livings on those same borderlands by scalping Apaches for bounty money, or “barbering” them, as one Texan scalp-hunter put it.)

Even before that massacre, General Winfield Scott, commander of U.S. forces, wrote Washington to complain of other atrocities being committed by such volunteers, organized under the command of future president Zachary Taylor. The crimes of Taylor’s men, Scott said, were so heinous they would “make Heaven weep.”

When the war ended, Washington had taken all of Mexico’s northern territories, including all or parts of present-day Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, western Colorado, Utah, and southwestern Wyoming. About 500,000 square miles, home to an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people, had been added to the United States.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Chief Pimp

Sexual violence only continued, committed by members of the Border Patrol (founded in 1924) and other security forces like the Texas Rangers.

Starting in the 1970s, ever more middle-class families in the U.S. began hiring undocumented Mexican women as live-in servants, cooks, maids, and nannies. Many of them found themselves far from home in peonage-like conditions, unable to leave the houses in which they worked. Some of those women quickly found themselves not just trapped, but sexually and emotionally battered. One was locked in a house in Nevada for months, according to a witness: “She worked from sunup to way after dark. She requested that her wages be sent to her father in Mexico. No money was ever sent to her father. This went on for about a year and a half. Then she flipped — she became insane, broke out of the house and ran down the street. That’s when the Border Patrol got her.”

Others were raped by their employers and, if they complained, beaten or told that they would be handed over to the Border Patrol, which came to double as a labor procurement service for wealthy households and large ranchers. During those years, in fact, the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) were notoriously corrupt, violent federal institutions. In Texas, Border Patrollers worked closely with ranchers, delivering workers to their properties (including one owned by Lyndon Johnson when he was still president), then raiding those properties just before payday and deporting the same workers. “The ranchers got their crops harvested for free, the INS men got fishing and hunting privileges on the ranches, and the Mexicans got nothing,” a New York Times reporter, John Crewdson, wrote.

An investigation into INS corruption revealed that agency officials traded young Mexican women caught at the border to the Los Angeles Rams for season tickets. One such official was known within the INS as the service’s “chief pimp.” Part of his job was to help other officials and politicians, including New Jersey Democrat Peter Rodino (who presided over Richard Nixon’s impeachment in the House of Representatives), “get laid” by arranging visits to Mexican brothels.

In his memoir, a former guard, Tony Hefner, described the INS detention center in Port Isabel, Texas — overflowing in the 1980s with refugees from President Ronald Reagan’s Central American wars — as essentially a rape camp. There, underage Salvadoran women, summoned by the center’s guards and wardens, were forced to dance, watch gore films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and submit to sexual demands. They were given abortion pills in case such encounters resulted in pregnancy.

Human Prey

For decades, the border also gave liberty to nativist fantasies, as vigilantes of one sort or another ran wild there.

In the era after the United States lost its war in Vietnam and began to make its fast turn toward deindustrialization, such fantasies became ever more sadistic. In 1990, for instance, a group of San Diego high school students fashioned themselves into a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, calling themselves the Metal Militia, and began staging “war games” on the border, hunting down and robbing migrants. The spree was notable in that it was covered by a new broadcasting network, Fox, on a show called The Reporters.

Racism and nativism would become Fox News’ bread and butter, but here it went for sensationalism, titling the episode “Human Prey.”  Its host, former Newsday investigative journalist Bob Drury, depicted migrants sympathetically. In a wide-lapelled white blazer, he interviewed one vigilante who estimated that there were about 10 militant groups in the San Diego County area who would “hunt, track, and stalk” migrants for sport. The film crew accompanied one such group as they captured a family, including a baby and a terrified grandmother.

Drury linked this upsurge in border extremism to the end of the Vietnam War: many of the vigilantes were veterans of that war. Others were teenagers who modeled their tactics, including the setting of booby traps, on Vietnam War movies they had seen. The most disturbing portions of Drury’s report were his interviews with vigilantes. Disguised so as not to be recognizable, they expressed unalloyed hate. “Grab a kid,” one said, discussing his favored method of terrorizing migrants, and “nobody is going to do anything.”

Rome at the Colosseum

“Human Prey” helped launch a genre of TV “border patrol porn.” Even before Trump came on the political scene, the National Geographic channel ran five seasons of Border Wars. Since then, more such shows have aired, including Discovery Channel’s Border Live and Netflix’s Border Security. Copying the style of law-and-order series like Cops, these shows offer viewers ride-alongs with Border Patrol agents as they guard the country’s frontier. The set-up is familiar: greenish night-goggle cinematography, Black Hawk helicopters, battered-down doors, and sunrise jeep runs through mesquite scrub. While driving, Border Patrol agents in dark sunglasses hold forth on life, duty, manhood, and their occasional doubts, as an unseen camera films them from the passenger seat or back seat.

One episode from season two of Border Wars, “Lost in the River,” reveals a common, often deadly Border Patrol practice: the use of helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to scatter border crossers, forcing them ever deeper into the dangerous desert or fast-flowing rivers. It’s a game — patrollers play scatter, chase, catch; migrants surrender or die — that pits desperate people with next to no resources against one of the best-funded, high-tech, armed-to-the-teeth law enforcement agencies on earth. “We’ll let him tire himself out. If he wants to run, we’ll let him run,” says one agent. “You kind of have to pick your battles, and I usually pick the one who runs the most… We’ve got bodies running all over the place… It’s a never-ending game for us.”

Some of those migrants are chased back into Mexico, others caught, but many simply disappear and die, either from drowning or dehydration. Those that do make it to the United States go on to work at some of the lowest-paying but essential jobs around: they pick crops, slaughter and pack meat, clean houses, tend to the sick, watch kids — and for the privilege of all this, the federal government has put them through a dystopic death race, which is then transformed into reality-show entertainment for the masses. Watching such spectacles on cable TV, it’s hard not to feel that the United States is now ancient Rome — an empire that, in its later years, held compassion to be a vice — and the whole of that southwestern desert our Colosseum.

Occasionally, these shows humanize immigrants, but only long enough to super-humanize their pursuers. In one Border Wars episode, a group of 24 detained migrants sit around in the cold morning desert air, looking alternately scared and bored. “It tugs at your heart string[s],” says one of the Border Patrollers who chased them down. “When you see people that are in a bad position, you know, it’s tough, it plays on you emotionally as an agent, even though you have a job to do. To keep America safe.” None of these shows, however, reveal what happens off screen, including reports that Border Patrollers gratuitously tackle non-resisting migrants, beat those they catch, piss on their belongings, destroy their sources of drinking water, and deny them humanitarian aid.

If the images that do appear on screen sooner or later come to numb the moral senses and if viewers need to up the ante, they can always click on PornHub, which offers a whole subgenre of actual Border Porn, including actors dressed as border agents and as migrants: “If you are caught, you are fucked,” is the title of one video.

“Like the Sabine virgins,” the New York Herald wrote a century and a half ago about how Mexicans would come to enjoy being ruled by Washington, Mexico “will soon learn to love her ravishers.”

Trump’s Necromancers

Maybe there’s a better metaphor than describing the United States as decadent Rome. Maybe Trump’s wall, whether built or not, is psychologically refashioning the country into a besieged medieval fortress, complete with its own cult of martyrs. As a candidate, Trump campaigned with the victims (or the families of victims) of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, using their grief to stoke grievances. As president, one of his first acts was to establish a government office charged with providing support services to “victims of crimes committed by removable aliens.” (Never mind that such aliens have a lower crime rate here than the general population.) Trump’s never happier than when, at one of his rallies or speeches, he’s able to call the name of someone who had a family member killed or raped by an undocumented immigrant.

A few years before Trump’s election, as Robin Reineke of the Colibri Center for Human Rights has reported, the sort of men who would later become Trump’s followers began showing up at Tea Party conventions with binders full of photographs of migrant corpses, gruesome images of the desiccated remains of those who had died in the desert trying to enter the United States. The anti-migrant activists who displayed such books of the dead claimed they were humanitarians, trying to raise support to build a wall to stop poor migrants from crossing over and so dying. But really they, like the president today, were necromancers, a kind of American priesthood of the lost frontier, offering a new litany of hate and using the fetish pornography of death to reassure racists that their cruelty was actually kindness.


American Civil War 2: US media will have only itself to blame if all hell breaks loose

March 5, 2019

by Robert Bridge


For the first time in years, the drumbeat of civil war has become audible across the United States. The nation looks destined to repeat history thanks to a media that is no longer able to objectively perform its job.

The predominantly left-leaning US media has just entered its third consecutive year of open warfare against Donald Trump. This non-stop assault risks aggravating political passions to the point where ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ snowballs into something completely beyond our ability to control. Like full-blown Civil War.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post, one of most prominent serial producers of partisan agitation, published an article entitled, ‘In America, talk turns to something unspoken for 150 years: Civil War’. The piece, which deftly places Democrats above the fray, opens with the following whiff of grapeshot:

“With the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reportedly nearly complete, impeachment talk in the air and the 2020 presidential election ramping up … there’s talk of violence, mayhem and, increasingly, civil war,” the Bezos-owned paper forewarned.

With a level of audacity and self-righteousness that has become a trademark of the Left, not once did the article float the possibility that just maybe the mainstream media is complicit in the ongoing deterioration of political discourse, or that the Democrats are just as much to blame as the Republicans for the political fallout that now presents a grave risk to the Republic.

As many knowledgeable Americans will openly admit, battle lines have been drawn across the political and cultural frontier. This division is perhaps most conspicuous on social media, where friends and family who disagree with our political worldview get the ‘nuke option’ and are effortlessly vanquished (‘unfriended’) with the push of a button. This is a worrying development. The real danger will come when Americans from both sides of the political divide stop talking and start erecting electronic barriers around their political belief systems. Not even family members are spared from the tumult; just because people share the same bloodline does not automatically mean they share the same political views. America, though still green behind the ears, may understand that fact better than many other countries.

The United States has taken part in its fair share of military conflicts over the years, but its deadliest war to date has been the one that pitted Americans against each other. The so-called Civil War (1861-1865), waged between the North and South over the question of Southern secession from the Union, resulted in the death of some 620,000 soldiers from the Union and Confederate armies (and possibly as high as 850,000, according to other estimates).

Put another way, more Americans died in the Civil War than in all of the country’s other conflicts combined. For a country that has been at war for much of its existence that is a sobering fact.

With that historical footnote in mind, the mainstream media should better appreciate its responsibility for presenting an objective and balanced depiction of modern events. Yet nothing today would suggest that is the case. One need only look at the way it has blotched recent politically charged events – like the Covington High School and Jussie Smollett scandals, not to mention the ‘Russia collusion’ hoax – to say that something is seriously out of whack inside of the Fourth Estate. The muzzled mainstream media has simply lost its mind over Donald Trump and can no longer perform its duties with any discernible amount of objectivity.

Indeed, the US leader continues to serve as a piñata for the agenda-driven media, which takes daily swings at him and his administration – and despite the fact that his popularity remains very high among voters. Only on the fringes of the media world, in the far away land of Fox News and Breitbart, will the reader find level-headed reports on the American president. This is not to suggest, of course, that Trump is beyond criticism. Not at all. There is a lot not to like about the 45th president. At the same time, however, to assume that Trump and his administration is the root of all evil, as the media would lead us to believe, is not only ridiculous, it is outright dangerous.

With no loss of irony, a good example of the media bias against Trump can be found in the very Post article that frets over the outbreak of another Civil War. While everyone knows that it takes two to tango, you would never guess that by reading this piece. In the sheltered world of the Liberal-dominated media, ‘tango’ is a solo event where the political right is portrayed as engaged in a dance with itself, while the political left watches – innocuously, of course – from the sidelines.

Michael Cohen, for example, Trump’s turncoat personal lawyer who committed perjury by lying to Congress, was quoted high in the article as saying, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Now that is certainly rich. Ever since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, Washington has been consumed by the Mueller investigation, and amid mindless chatter that Trump is an illegitimate president slated for impeachment. In other words, the last thing that can be said about the Democrats is that they facilitated a “peaceful transition of power.” In fact, they have hobbled Trump and his administration ever since he entered the Oval Office.

Another pro-Liberal voice dragged into the Civil War story was Robert Reich, who served on Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board. The Post linked to an article Reich wrote last year where he posited the fictional scenario where an impeachment resolution against the president is enacted, thus kicking off mass civil strife on the direct command of dear leader.

“Trump claims it’s the work of the ‘deep state’”, according to Reich’s febrile imagination. “Sean Hannity of Fox News demands that every honest patriot take to the streets. Right-wing social media call for war. As insurrection spreads, Mr. Trump commands the armed forces to side with the ‘patriots.’”

“The way Mr. Trump and his defenders are behaving, it’s not absurd to imagine serious social unrest,” Reich continued. “That’s how low he’s taken us.”

Now that is some world-class chutzpah. In fact, it is the same self-righteous, ingratiating tone that weaves itself throughout the Post article. In keeping with the mainstream media’s non-stop narrative, Trump and the Republicans are blamed for everything that has gone wrong in the country, while the Democrats come off as little angels trying to piece the fractured country back together.

As already mentioned, Donald Trump is certainly not above criticism. Far from it. But for the mainstream media to place all of the blame for the current political malaise at the Republican’s door is about as responsible as lighting up a cigarette inside of a Chinese fireworks factory. The US media has an unmistakable agenda, and that is to make damn sure Trump is not reelected to another term in 2020. To that end, it has shown a devious willingness to betray all journalistic ethics and standards, which has the effect of increasing the political temperature to boiling point. It then points the finger of blame at the political right for the accumulated pile of pent-up tensions, which are ready to ignite at the first spark.

If the mainstream media continues to slavishly serve just one political master over another, it will only have itself to blame for what comes next. Its prejudiced and agenda-based reporting is a disgrace and really nothing short of a bona fide national security threat.


Trump dealt blow as US trade deficit jumps

March 6, 2019

BBC News

The US trade gap with the rest of the world jumped to a 10-year high of $621bn (£472.5bn) last year, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump’s deficit reduction plan.

The trade deficit is the difference between how much goods and services the US imports from other countries and how much it exports.

Reducing the gap is a key plank of Mr Trump’s policies.

But in 2018, the US exported fewer goods compared with how much it bought.

Mr Trump claims that the US is being “ripped off” by other nations and wants countries to lower their tariffs on US goods and buy more of them.

However, official data shows that while exports of US goods and services rose by $148.9bn last year, imports jumped by $217.7bn.

It means that the gap is the widest since 2008, when the global financial crisis hit and the US fell into recession.

The deficit in goods and services during December also hit a near 10-year high of $59.8bn.

Exports to the rest of the world fell 1.9% to $205.1bn, while imports rose by 2.1% to $262.9bn.

‘Tariff man’

The US is currently locked in a trade battle with China over what it claims are unfair trade practices, resulting in tit-for-tat tariff increases on each others’ goods.

Both nations are in discussions and there is speculation they could reach an agreement by the end of March.

New data shows that the trade gap between the US and China widened last year by $43.6bn to $419.2bn as exports of American products and services fell, but imports from China rose.

Analysis: Michelle Fleury, BBC North America business correspondent

It was one of Donald Trump’s signature campaign promises.

Back in June 2016, he stood before a large crowd in Monessen, Pennsylvania and said that as President, he would reduce America’s ballooning trade deficit.

He called it “a political and politician-made disaster” and said “it can be corrected”.

Only it hasn’t exactly turned out that way.

Last year, Mr Trump introduced tariffs on steel and aluminum from around the globe and on a range of imports from China.

The idea was that the tariffs would make imports more expensive, thereby discouraging Americans from buying foreign goods and services and shrinking the trade deficit.

But the opposite has happened.

Instead, Donald Trump goes into the presidential re-election race having failed to deliver on his campaign promise to close the US trade deficit.

Part of the problem is Mr Trump’s own tax policies. They boosted US consumption and a lot of that spending went abroad.

This happened as growth was slowing in other parts of the world, contributing to a rising dollar. That made US exports more expensive and less competitive.

Of course, an economic downturn would help reduce the trade deficit.

But who wants that?

Mr Trump warned in December that if the two countries failed to reach an agreement on trade, he would take action, dubbing himself “a Tariff Man”.

‘National security’

The deficit between the US and the European Union also increased in 2018, up by $17.9bn to $169.3bn.

Following the same trend as with China, US export growth to the EU was eclipsed by imports of European goods and services to America, which last year rose to $487.9bn.

Following a spat between the US and the EU when America lifted tariffs on steel and aluminium, Mr Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last year reached a truce.

However, Mr Trump may choose to lift tariffs on European cars and parts after the US Commerce Department produced a report examining whether the imports threaten national security.

Meanwhile, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom are meeting on Wednesday in Washington, where the issue of allowing America’s agriculture industry access to Europe is expected to be discussed.


Arctic Oil: Who owns it?

March 6, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Claims to extended continental shelves, if deemed valid, give the claimant state exclusive rights to the sea bottom and resources below the bottom. Valid extended continental shelf claims do not and cannot extend a state’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) since the EEZ is determined solely by drawing a 200-nautical-mile (370 km) line using territorial sea baselines as their starting point. This point is made because press reports often confuse the facts and assert that extended continental shelf claims expand a state’s EEZ thereby giving a state exclusive rights to not only sea bottom and below resources but also to those in the water column. The Arctic chart prepared by Durham University clearly illustrates the extent of the uncontested Exclusive Economic Zones of the five states bordering the Arctic Ocean and also the relatively small expanse of remaining “high seas” or totally international waters at the very North of the planet.

Russia ratified the UNCLOS in 1997 and had through 2007 to make a claim to an extended continental shelf.

The Russian Federation is claiming a large extended continental shelf as far as the North Pole based on the Lomonosov Ridge within their Arctic sector. Moscow believes the eastern Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of the Siberian continental shelf. The Russian claim does not cross the Russia-US Arctic sector demarcation line, nor does it extend into the Arctic sector of any other Arctic coastal state. Russia also considers its exclusive control over the Northern Sea Route connecting Asia and Europe to be a “core national interest.” The U.S., among others, considers the NSR to be an international shipping lane.

On December 20, 2001, Russia made an official submission into the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (article 76, paragraph 8). In the document it is proposed to establish the outer limits of the continental shelf of Russia beyond the 200-nautical-mile (370 km) Exclusive Economic Zone, but within the Russian Arctic sector. The territory claimed by Russia in the submission is a large portion of the Arctic within its sector, extending to but not beyond the geographic North Pole. One of the arguments was a statement that Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain ridge passing near the Pole, and Mendeleev Ridge on the Russian side of the Pole are extensions of the Eurasian continent. In 2002 the UN Commission neither rejected nor accepted the Russian proposal, recommending additional research.

On August 2, 2007, a Russian expedition called Arktika 2007, composed of six explorers led by Artur Chilingarov, employing MIR submersibles, for the first time in history descended to the seabed at the North Pole. There they planted the Russian flag and took water and soil samples for analysis, continuing a mission to provide additional evidence related to the Russian claim to the mineral riches of the Arctic.[24] This was part of the ongoing 2007 Russian North Pole expedition within the program of the 2007–2008 International Polar Year.

The expedition aimed to establish that the eastern section of seabed passing close to the Pole, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, is in fact an extension of Russia’s landmass. The expedition came as several countries are trying to extend their rights over sections of the Arctic Ocean floor. Both Norway and Denmark are carrying out surveys to this end. Vladimir Putin made a speech on a nuclear icebreaker on May 3, 2007, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

In mid-September 2007, Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry issued a statement:

“ Preliminary results of an analysis of the earth crust model examined by the Arktika 2007 expedition, obtained on September 20, have confirmed that the crust structure of the Lomonosov Ridge corresponds to the world analogues of the continental crust, and it is therefore part of the Russian Federation’s adjacent continental shelf. ”

Viktor Posyolov, an official with Russia’s Agency for Management of Mineral Resources:

“ With a high degree of likelihood, Russia will be able to increase its continental shelf by 1.2 million square kilometers [460,000 square miles] with potential hydrocarbon reserves of not less than 9,000 to 10,000 billion tonnes of conventional fuel beyond the 200-mile (320 km) [322 kilometer] economic zone in the Arctic Ocean ”

As of October 2013, the United States had not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, therefore, has not been eligible to file an official claim to an extended continental shelf with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

In August 2007, an American Coast Guard icebreaker, the USCGC Healy, headed to the Arctic Ocean to map the sea floor off Alaska. Larry Mayer, director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, stated the trip had been planned for months, having nothing to do with the Russians planting their flag. The purpose of the mapping work aboard the Healy is to determine the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska.

The Arctic holds some 30 percent of the world’s natural gas supply, and 13 percent of the world’s oil. Royal Dutch Shell, the U.S.-based Arctic Oil & Gas Corp. and others. have made urgent representations to Washington about the necessity of their securing Arctic drilling areas and requesting a specific statement from the American government concerning area which would be under American control.

Each of the five nations with Arctic borders is allotted 200 nautical miles of land from their most northern coast.

Putin’s recent military expansion was in direct response to a claim of additional land by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who last year asked scientists to craft a submission to the United Nations arguing that the North Pole belongs to Canada.

The Canadian claim also asserts that it owns the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range located between Ellesmere Island, Canada’s most northern border, and Russia’s east Siberian coast. In 2007, Russian scientists planted a flag on the ridge to claim it as Russian territory.

Russia created the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command to protect oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf. Unfortunately for American companies, the Pentagon has fallen behind, having only two of the icebreakers necessary to navigate Arctic waters. According to the Congressional Research Service, Russia has 25, with six powered by nuclear energy.

As Arctic ice receded and the region became strategically important, DOD shifted its attention back north. Last November, it released a new Arctic strategy outlining American interests in the region.

The new strategy calls for the Pentagon to take actions to ensure that American troops could repel an attack against the homeland from a foe based in the Arctic.

The Pentagon believes the Arctic is becoming contested territory, and the DOD would act to protect American interests.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

March 6, 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. 36

Date: Sunday, September 15, 1996

Commenced:  11:15 AM CST

Concluded: 11: 37 AM CST


RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Been to church early today?

GD: No, haven’t been to church for some time. Yourself? I mean someone who lives on Cathedral Avenue ought to have some nearby inspiration.

RTC: No, I get out very seldom these days what with my hip problem and I do have a balance issue. Asthma  makes me short of breath sometimes. Never mind that. Anyway, I was looking for some papers on the Vietnam business….for addition to my book on that sorry time…and I found an analysis of the flying saucer business we talked about.  I pulled it out for you. On the Vietnam business, I’ve finished the manuscript long ago but I keep thinking that I ought to put more documentation with it. Stupid dreams because I can never publish it. Had to sign that paper, you know. Bill has looked at it and thinks it would become a best seller but I am not going to give it to him in spite of what he thinks. Trento would love to lay his hands on it. He wouldn’t publish it, of course, but would run to Langley for that pat on the head and another nice pen set. Joe does love to collect pen sets and get those loving pats on the head.

GD: Could I look at it, Robert?

RTC: Ah….I might consider it but you couldn’t use any of it while I am still kicking. But anyway, this Roswell business…and oh yes, one in Montana about three years later…now the Company had nothing to do with any of this but we did get a copy of an official and very secret report, not because we cared about a spaceship wreck or little green men but because of the methodology used in containing and negating the story. Too many people knew about this so the cover-up had to be through and intense. It was a sort of primer for us. We improved on it, of course, but it was an excellent foundation for other matters.

GD: Such as?

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, one thing at a time. Yes, an excellent primer.

GD: I used to live in Las Cruces which is close by that area and from talking with people down there, it is almost universally believed. I believe a space ship crashed there and the Air Force was involved. The locals are still afraid of the threats they got back in ’47-’48 so I feel that where there is smoke, there must once have been fire.

RTC: What is your understanding of the incident?

GD: There was a big thunderstorm then and much lightening and one of the farmers or ranchers found debris all over his landscape. The Air Force people descended on the place and in essence shut everyone up. I was told repeatedly that bodies of aliens were found. Is that in your paper? Make a wonderful story.

RTC: Yes, as I recall, about four dead ones and one living.

GD: Little green men?

RTC: As I read it, not green but a sort of grayish green or gray. About four feet in height with no body hair, fewer fingers than ours and large eyes. I mean no question because there are original photographs attached. And the dead ones started rotting right away and the stink was monumental. There were complete autopsies, of course, but not in situ. Flew them out, iced up, for work at Wright.

GD: And the live one?

RTC: Died a little later. They were not of this world, Gregory but it was, and is, amazing how they at least resembled humans.

GD: That alone would drive the religious freaks nuts. Human forms from outer space?

RTC: Yes and that’s why in the movies you see giant crabs or whatever. Can’t look like us.

GD: Such closed minds. Darwin was basically right and someday, they will discover the so-called missing link that proves him right. Would that get suppressed, do you think?

RTC: Depends who is in power in the White House at the time. But let me send the report off to you to evaluate. I personally don’t see this as tabloid news about green men but how the story was contained and essentially countered. The one in Montana was much safer because this one crashed into a mountain, way up, with no busybody farmers and local hicks around to pick up dangerous souvenirs

GD: What was the determination there?

RTC: Essentially the same as Roswell. Unworldly metals and other debris, crisped remains of small people…I guess four feet was general…and so on. Again, lightening storms in the area. These things can be detected by a certain form of radar but not by most so there was a fix and that’s how the wreckage was found. The metal in both sites was odd enough. Very light but impossible to bend or even cut into. Equipment containers that were impossible to open or even open. That drove them all crazy because if we could construct aircraft, or even tanks, from such a metal, the advantages would be obvious. No shell could penetrate and the light weight would be a huge advantage in combat. As I understand it, no one could ever figure the composition out.

But again, the methodology…the mixture of threats of death and the cover stories are what this report was mostly about. Of course the press does just as it’s told as do the local police and so on. And no one in the Air Force is going to talk or they’ll end up taking a long walk on a very short pier. Time goes by and everyone but a few forget and that’s the end of it.

GD: Did they have any idea where these things came from?

RTC: No, they never did and therein lies another factor. Truman ordered silence, or rather approved the order on it because no one wanted a panic. The Cold War was just starting and they were afraid of the Orson Wells business all over. No, there could be no mass panic. My God, every attention-starved nitwit in the country would chime in with fictional stories about landings in their yard and so on. That no one wanted so rather than stifle any talk about genuine sightings, they rigged thousands of fakes ones until the public thought it was all too funny for words and went back watching baseball games on the idiot box. We took this and refined it. I wrote some suggestions on this and I will attach them for you. Sometimes we can’t cover up some nasty action so the best way to hide it is to magnify it so much and pass it to so many gabbling idiots that the public is quickly bored. I recall the business of people vanishing and that is true so the story goes out about flying saucers landing in cow pastures and kidnapping cows or fake stories about this or that child vanishing, and then his turning up later in a local candy store. A few dozen like this every year gets the public accustomed to disbelieving abduction stories. Or we could throw in a child molester from time to time just to spice up the pot. Hell, we, and the Pentagon, among others, have full-time departments handling fake stories. We leak them to the supermaket press.

GD: Or one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid rags…

RTC: Yes, Rupert can be so accommodating.  He keeps the trailer park crowd in a state of perpetual excitement. Bread and circuses. Always the same.

GD:  Do you know how many actual incidents got investigated?

RTC: I know of the two specifically. The one in New Mexico in ’47 and then the Montana one about two years later. I am sure there are more. The Russians had their own problems but they have much better control over the media that we do. They had less running around and creative writing issues.

GD: Nothing hostile?

RTC: Not that I ever heard about. I think just recon trips. That’s the educated guessing. Roswell was near some of our more sensitive A-bomb areas but I can’t figure out Montana.

GD: Maybe they were looking to kidnap some mountain goats for sexual escapades.

RTC: As I recall, they had no sex organs. I think goats would be out.

GD: No organs? How could they reproduce the species?

RTC: I don’t think the Pentagon was interested in that question. Maybe they just came out of a big machine somewhere, did their routines and died. I understand that they rotten very quickly and the stink when they did made it really impossible to do effective autopsies.

GD: I had that problem with floaters. Or abdominal cancer. God, what stenches from both. I used to wear a mask soaked in bay rum but I have seen techs puke on the spot. You just have to blot it out. A little like waking up after a drunken party and finding yourself in the sack with a really ugly woman. Never happened to me but did to a friend. A quiet departure. And a quick one too. And the forlorn cries of ‘Oh Honey, where are you going?’ echoing behind him. ‘Why outside to puke, my lovely one” might be an appropriate answer. Later, send her flowers you filched out of a cemetery and a zucchini in remembrance of things past. I don’t think Marcel would like that. I think he liked sailors.

RTC: Who?

GD: Marcel Proust. Wrote a book called that. Well, at this point either the visitations have stopped or the little gray men with no dicks have all gone into Congress. Except those thieves stink before they are dead. Well, send it all on and I promise to read it with interest….

RTC: Yes, and keep quiet indeed.

GD: A given.

(Conclusion at 11:37:AM CST)



Mark Zuckerberg Is Trying to Play You — Again

March 6, 2019

by Sam Biddle

The Intercept

If you click enough times through the website of Saudi Aramco, the largest oil producer in the world, you’ll reach a quiet section called “Addressing the climate challenge.” In this part of the website, the fossil fuel monolith claims, “Our contributions to the climate challenge are tangible expressions of our ethos, supported by company policies, of conducting our business in a way that addresses the climate challenge.” This is meaningless, of course — as is the announcement Mark Zuckerberg made today about his newfound “privacy-focused vision for social networking.” Don’t be fooled by either.

Like Saudi Aramco, Facebook inhabits a world in which it is constantly screamed at, with good reason, for being a contributor to the world’s worsening state. Writing a vague blog post, however, is far easier than completely restructuring the way your enormous corporation does business and reckoning with the damage it’s caused.

And so here we are: “As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg writes in his road-to-Damascus revelation about personal privacy. The roughly 3,000-word manifesto reads as though Facebook is fundamentally realigning itself as a privacy champion — a company that will no longer track what you read, buy, see, watch, and hear in order to sell companies the opportunity to intervene in your future acts. But, it turns out, the new “privacy-focused” Facebook involves only one change: the enabling of end-to-end encryption across the company’s instant messaging services. Such a tech shift would prevent anyone, even Facebook, outside of chat participants from reading your messages.

That’s it.

Although the move is laudable — and will be a boon for dissident Facebook chatters in countries where government surveillance is a real, perpetual risk — promising to someday soon forfeit to your ability to eavesdrop on over 2 billion people doesn’t exactly make you eligible for sainthood in 2019. It doesn’t help that Zuckerberg’s post is completely absent of details beyond a plan to implement these encryption changes “over the next few years” — which is particularly silly considering Facebook has yet to implement privacy features promised in the wake of its previous mega-scandals.

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform,” reads Zuckerberg’s awakening. Count me into “many people,” just like I’m a skeptic of Saudi Aramco’s attempt to pre-empt criticism: “For some, the idea of an oil and gas company positively contributing to the climate challenge is a contradiction. We don’t think so.”

The skepticism of Facebook is warranted. To pick just one of many examples, the company, as The Intercept recently reported, is involved behind the scenes in fighting attempts to pass more stringent privacy laws in California.

What’s more, this is a dramatic 3,000-word opus, but only about one new privacy feature, to be released at some unknown future point. On the other hand, Facebook has a long history to consider: It’s a company whose business model relies entirely on worldwide data mining. Facebook may someday offer end-to-end chats between WhatsApp and Messenger users — which would be great! — but there’s no sign the company would ever expand such encryption beyond instant messages, because it would destroy the company. For everything Facebook protects with end-to-end encryption, that’s one less thing Facebook can comb for behavioral data, consumer preferences, and so forth.

Your chats may be secure, but that will do virtually nothing to change how Facebook follows and monitors your life, on and offline. Facebook could, say, encrypt the contents of your profile or your photo albums so that no one but your friends could decrypt that information — but then how would they sell ads against it?

The unblogged truth, which Zuckerberg knows as well as anyone else, is that a “privacy-focused vision for social networking” looks nothing like Facebook; more to the point, it would resemble Facebook’s negative image. The company will wave its arms around this “announcement” and point to it whenever its next privacy screw-up occurs — likely sometime later today.

Don’t mistake this attempt at pantomiming contrition and techno-progress as anything more than theater. And don’t mistake a long blog post about privacy for anything more than many, many words from a man who knows he’s in trouble.


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