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TBR News May 28, 2019

May 28 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. May 28, 2019: “Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for May 28:”More and more information is slowly leaking out about Trump’s apparently monumental tax cheating and his connections with Russian laundered money. Naughty boy for sure. He is terrified lest his enemies in Congress get their hands on proof and has had everyone he can control frantically trying to control the situation. Of course he can’t but he doesn’t know that. The betting here is that he will be gone before Santa starts out on his annual reindeer journey.”

The Table of Contents

  • Mueller drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff book says
  • Report: Trump’s  Taxes Revealed
  • Tax Fraud By The Numbers: The Trump Timeline
  • Scientists discover genes that could hold answers to mysteries of our evolution
  • As anti-vaxx dispute rages, attention turns to California’s Waldorf schools
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The Rapture Fraud
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • It’s Official: The U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Is a Complete Failure
  • Lawmakers From 11 States Have a Plan to Tackle Suicide and Other Issues Veterans Face
  • Pearl Harbor: A Retrospective

 

 

Mueller drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff book says

  • Spokesman for special counsel denies existence of document
  • Revelation is in Fire and Fury sequel, Siege: Trump Under Fire

May 28, 2019

by Edward Helmore in New York

The Guardian

A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before deciding to shelve it – an explosive claim which a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.

The stunning revelation is contained in Siege: Trump Under Fire, which will be published a week from now, on 4 June. It is the sequel to Fire and Fury, Wolff’s bestseller on the first year of the Trump presidency which was published in 2018.

The Guardian obtained a copy of Siege and viewed the documents concerned.

In an author’s note, Wolff states that his findings on the Mueller investigation are “based on internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel”.

But Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, told the Guardian: “The documents that you’ve described do not exist.”

Questions over the provenance of the documents will only add to controversy and debate around the launch of Wolff’s eagerly awaited new book.

Fire and Fury shone a harsh spotlight on dysfunction within the Trump White House and engendered huge controversy after the Guardian broke news of its contents. Many of Wolff’s assertions were confirmed by later works, among them Fear: Trump in the White House by the Watergate reporter Bob Woodward. The book prompted the banishment of the Trump adviser and Wolff source Stephen Bannon, who also lost his place at Breitbart News. It sold close to 5 million copies.

Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, links between Trump aides and Moscow and potential obstruction of justice by the president.

Mueller’s final report was handed to the attorney general, William Barr, on 22 March this year and made public in redacted form on 18 April. Mueller did not find a conspiracy between Trump and Russia but did lay out 11 possible instances of obstruction of justice, indicating Congress should decide what came next.

Barr said he had judged the instances of possible obstruction not to be conclusive. Trump and his supporters have claimed total exoneration. Democrats in Congress are weighing whether impeachment is merited.

And yet Wolff reports that Mueller’s office drew up a three-count outline of the president’s alleged abuses, under the title “United States of America against Donald J Trump, Defendant”. The document sat on the special counsel’s desk, Wolff writes, for almost a year.

According to a document seen by the Guardian, the first count, under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the president with corruptly – or by threats of force or threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of the United States.

The second count, under section 1512, charged the president with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

The third count, under section 1513, charged the president with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant.

The document is the most significant aspect of Wolff’s new book.

Wolff writes that the draft indictment he examines says Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice “began on the seventh day of his administration, tracing the line of obstruction from National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s lies to the FBI about his contacts with Russian representative[s], to the president’s efforts to have [FBI director] James Comey protect Flynn, to Comey’s firing, to the president’s efforts to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation, to his attempt to cover up his son and son-in-law’s meeting with Russian governmental agents, to his moves to interfere with Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe’s testimony …”

The draft indictment, Wolff writes, also spelled out what Mueller considered to be the overriding theme of Trump’s presidency: the “extraordinary lengths” taken “to protect himself from legal scrutiny and accountability, and to undermine the official panels investigating his actions”.

According to Wolff, Mueller endured tortured deliberations over whether to charge the president, and even more tortured deliberations over the president’s power to dismiss him or his boss, the then deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. Mueller ultimately demurred, Wolff writes, but his team’s work gave rise to as many as 13 other investigations that led to cooperating witness plea deals from Michael Cohen, David Pecker of American Media and Trump Organization accountant Allen Weisselberg.

“The Jews always flip,” was Trump’s comment on those deals, according to Wolff.

In one of many echoes of Fire and Fury, such shocking remarks by Trump are salted throughout Siege.

The justice department’s Office of Legal Counsel had said a sitting president could not be indicted. According to Wolff, Mueller’s team drew up both the three-count indictment of Trump and a draft memorandum of law opposing an anticipated motion to dismiss.

In his 448-page redacted final report the special counsel briefly noted that his office had concluded it would accept previous justice department guidance that it did not have the power to prosecute a sitting president.

The draft memorandum quoted by Wolff argues that nowhere does the law say the president cannot be indicted and nowhere is the president accorded a dif­ferent status under the law than other federal officials, all of whom can be indicted, convicted and impeached.

The document says: “The Impeachment Judgment Clause, which applies equally to all civil officers including the president … takes for granted … that an officer may be subject to indictment and prosecution before impeachment. If it did not, the clause would be creating, for civil officers, precisely the immunity the Framers rejected.”

The memorandum rejected the argument that the burden of a criminal process on the president would interfere with his ability to carry out his duties.

Of Mueller’s thinking, Wolff writes that as a former FBI director, he “had not risen to the highest levels of the federal government by misconstruing the limits of bureaucratic power”, and had therefore continually weighed the odds with his staff about whether the president would fire them. Thus, Wolff writes, “the very existence of the special counsel’s investigation had in a sense become the paramount issue of the investigation itself”.

According to Wolff, a memo circulated internally asked: “Can President Trump order [then attorney general Jeff] Sessions to withdraw the special counsel regulations (and fire him if he doesn’t)?

“The short answer is yes.”

Mueller’s team also believed Trump could have fired Mueller directly, Wolff says, “arguing that the special counsel regulations are unconstitutional insofar as they limit his ability to fire the special counsel”.

Trump has claimed to have had the right to fire Mueller, but he has also denied Don McGahn’s testimony to Mueller that he was ordered to do so. Trump is now seeking to stop the former White House counsel testifying to Congress.

In another memo quoted by Wolff, Mueller’s staff wondered what would happen to the special counsel’s office, staff, records, pending investigations and grand juries reviewing evidence if Mueller was fired.

To preserve their work, Wolff writes, they decided to share grand jury materials with fellow prosecutors. That process led, for example, to the investigation into Cohen being handed to the southern district of New York.

In the end, Wolff writes, Mueller concluded that “the truth of the matter was straightforward: that while the president had the support of the majority party, he had the winning hand.

“Robert Mueller, the stoic marine, had revealed himself over the course of the nearly two-year investigation to his colleagues and staff to be quite a Hamlet figure. Or, less dramatically, a cautious and indecisive bureaucrat.”

Caught, Wolff says, between wanting to use his full authority and worrying that he had no authority, Mueller went against the will of many of his staff when he chose not to attempt to force Trump to be interviewed in person. Ultimately, he also concluded he could not move to prosecute a sitting president.

Perhaps surprisingly given his fate after Fire and Fury, Bannon is quoted extensively in Siege. His view of Mueller’s two year investigation into claims of collusion and obstruction of justice: “Never send a marine to do a hit man’s job.”

Wolff’s conclusion is a sobering one.

“In a way,” he writes, “Robert Mueller had come to accept the dialectical premise of Donald Trump – that Trump is Trump.

“Bob Mueller threw up his hands. Surprisingly, he found himself in agreement with the greater White House: Donald Trump was the president, and, for better or for worse, what you saw was what you got – and what the country voted for.”

 

Report: Trump’s  Taxes Revealed

The Daily Beast

Donald Trump earned more than $150 million in the year 2005—and paid just a small percentage of that in regular federal income taxes. Daily Beast contributor David Cay Johnston has obtained what appear to be the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income-tax return, and published an analysis of those pages on his website, DCReport.org. The Daily Beast could not independently verify these documents.

The documents show Trump and his wife Melania paying $5.3 million in regular federal income tax—a rate of less than 4 percent. However, the Trumps paid an additional $31 million under the alternative minimum tax, or AMT. Trump has previously called for the elimination of this tax.

“Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family, and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday night. “That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million even after taking into account large-scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that.”

Trump’s 2005 return also shows that he’d continued to benefit from the roughly $916 million loss he reported in his 1995 return—published last year by The New York Times. Using a loophole Congress closed in 1996, Trump converted that loss into a tax credit for the same amount he could offset against income.

2005 was the year that Trump, a newly minted reality-TV star, made his last big score as a real-life real-estate developer, when he sold two properties, one on Manhattan’s West Side and one in San Francisco, to Hong Kong investors, accounting for the lion’s share of his income that year.

President Trump has long been resistant to releasing his tax returns, repeatedly claiming during the election that an ongoing IRS audit had prevented him from doing so.

“It is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns,” the White House statement read. “The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the president will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.”

 

 

Tax Fraud By The Numbers: The Trump Timeline

by Kenneth W. Boyd, CPA

CPA Tax News

Gift Tax Fraud

Although the accusations of fraud leveled at Donald Trump cover several different areas of tax law, one thing nearly all of them have in common is that they involve circumventing gift taxes.

But why is this the case?

For people who aren’t billionaires, gift tax isn’t a major issue. Any exchange of money or property from one individual to another without expecting anything of equivalent value in return would qualify as a taxable gift in the eyes of the IRS. However, this tax doesn’t need to be paid if the value of these gifts are lower than the annual or lifetime exclusion. As of 2018, the annual exclusion is $15,000 and the lifetime exclusion is $11.8 million.

Here’s an example of how the gift tax works:

If you wanted to give someone in your family a used Toyota Corolla that was worth about $5,000, you wouldn’t have to pay gift taxes on it. But if you wanted to gift someone a brand-new Tesla Model 3 with a base price of $35,000, you would have to pay gift taxes since it’s worth more than the annual exclusion rate.

At least, you would have to pay taxes on that Tesla if you had already given them $11.8 million over the course of your lifetime. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it works to illustrate our point!

In the case of Donald Trump, the amounts of money and property being given far exceed these exclusions. And because of this, all gifts that he received would be taxed to the tune of 55%.

So how did he (allegedly) get around this steep tax? In a number of ways: many of them accomplished with the help of his father Fred Trump, according to the New York Times.

As the Times tells it, Donald took out several “loans” from his father Fred in order to support some of his struggling business ventures. A document cataloguing some of these loans place the total at nearly $5 million in 1979 alone. These loans were open-ended, meaning that there was no set payment schedule. The implication of this is that there was no real pressure or even expectation to pay back these loans.

And this is how Trump’s father gave him a gift of about $5 million dollars without having to give the IRS 55%.

Allegedly!

Securities Fraud

So how did Donald Trump get out of paying back the loans he made to his father? Even though these substantial cash injections into his businesses were essentially gifts from a father to his son, there needed to be some attempt at paying them back in order to avoid the 55% tax bill. And because Trump (allegedly) needed this money to simply keep many of his struggling businesses afloat, there was no way he could actually pay them back in full.

The solution in this case would be to work out a situation where the loans have been paid off without losing any actual money or equity: which is exactly what the New York Times claimed Trump did in the early 90’s by committing securities fraud.

But before we get into the specifics, let’s quickly go over what securities fraud is:

Securities fraud is any kind of fraudulent activity that involves stocks or investments. According to Investopedia, this form of tax fraud “can be committed in a variety of forms, but mostly involves misrepresenting information investors use to make decisions.” Some recent high-profile examples of securities fraud include the Enron scandal in 2001 and Bernie Madoff’s long-running Ponzi scheme that was thwarted in 2008.

Securities fraud isn’t always tax fraud, but it becomes tax fraud when it is committed in order to circumvent paying taxes. And this is the context of the allegations leveled against Trump.

Here’s what happened according to the Times:

By 1989, Donald Trump owed his father about $11 million and it was coming up on time to collect. If the loan was simply forgiven, it would turn into taxable income; instead, Donald paid it back through a 7.5% stake in one of his Manhattan condominiums. This means that both Donald and his father Fred agreed that 7.5% of his property, obtained through stocks, had a value of $11 million.

However, Fred Trump sold this 7.5% stock back to his son just two years later for only $10,000, spread out over multiple transactions. One documented example from 1991 provided by the Times listed a net loss of almost $1 million for just one of these transactions! Nothing drastic happened to New York City real estate prices in order to justify this price difference, so it appears as though the agreed-upon 7.5% was now only worth a fraction of its original value.

In this way, Donald Trump and his father were able to turn a debt of $11,000,000 into only $10,000, paid tax-free, all by grossly overvaluing and then undervaluing the stock value of his property.

Allegedly!

Loans Fraud

Based on the evidence, it seems that Trump has been receiving quite a bit of help from his father in a way that isn’t supposed to attract a lot of attention from the IRS. However, an incident of loan fraud in 1990 seems to be an exception to father and son’s standard operating procedure, at least according to documented evidence provided by the Washington Post.

As the story goes, a man named Howard Snyder acting as Fred Trump’s attorney visited Trump Castle, one of Donald Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City. He then purchased $3.5 million worth of casino chips. Then he leaves without playing a single game.

You might be wondering: if Donald Trump is already receiving gifts from his father disguised as loans, why would he then take out loans from his father poorly disguised as legitimate business transactions?

Part of the reason for this extra layer of deception seemed to be so that Trump could receive this money faster than if conducted through ordinary loan channels. The reason why this particular loan was so time-sensitive, according to the New York Times, is that he needed it in order to make a bond payment of about $18.4 million. And because of that loan, even in spite of the fact that this obvious act of fraud was caught and punished by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Trump was able to make that payment.

Another reason for this fraudulent act could easily be explained by the way it reduced the fees he had to pay the government in exchange for such a substantial wealth transfer. As we’ve learned, receiving $3.5 million as a gift would require paying an extremely high percentage in gift taxes. However, a loan also requires high fees due to the need for an interest rate.

One of the ways that the IRS differentiates a loan from a gift or taxable income is through the addition of an Applicable Federal Rate (AFR). These rates are updated every year since they reflect the average percentage of interest charged on all loans made by banks and other financial institutions in the country. Consequently, a loan is only considered a loan in the eyes of the IRS when it applies interest in line with the AFR. And in December of 1991, the AFR for a short-term monthly loan was 5.49%.

Here’s a quick multiple-choice question. If you are required to give up a portion of $3.5 million dollars, which amount would you rather pay:

1.55%, or $1.9 million

1.5.5%, or $175,000

1.1.8%, or $65,000

Donald Trump picked option C. When the New Jersey Casino Control Commission charged him with fraud, they fined him $65,000, which is slightly less than 2% of the money he received. And that’s how he was able to receive a loan, tax and interest-free, in time to save his casino from foreclosure.

Allegedly!

Appraisal and Estate Tax Fraud

Before we go any further, it’s important to define some terms:

Let’s start with estate tax. This is more or less the same thing as gift tax and is closely tied with inheritance tax. All three of these concepts are closely interlinked to the point where many individuals mistake them for each other; they will refer to inheritance tax as estate tax and vice versa.

So what’s the difference between these three concepts? Here’s a brief rundown of their definitions:

  • Gift tax is applied when explicitly giving a gift to another person or party. It is paid by the giver, but it can be collected from the receiver if the giver fails to pay. It is a federal tax, which means that gifts given anywhere in the country can be subject to them.
  • Estate tax is applied when determining the value of a deceased person’s property. It is paid by the estate before bequeathment, meaning that the taxes are taken out of this value before it is passed on to the receiver. There is a federal estate tax with its own exclusion rate and a state estate tax that varies depending on the state.
  • Inheritance tax is applied when passing a deceased person’s property onto their beneficiaries as outlined in their will. It is paid by the receiver, meaning that the taxes are charged to the person receiving the money or property. This is a state tax that only applies to Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Still confused? Here’s a table that sums up the differences:

Tax Name Gift Tax Estate Tax Inheritance Tax

Who Pays? Giver Giver Receiver

Federal or State? Both Both State

Now that we’ve defined those terms, we can talk about appraisal fraud. This is when an individual or organization either inflates or deflates the value of a property dishonestly. The reasons for doing so can vary; however, the most often reason for committing this form of fraud is to manipulate mortgage rates, which is why it is also sometimes referred to as mortgage fraud. The FBI has stated that this particular form of fraud was a major contributing factor to the 2008 housing crisis.

So what does estate tax and appraisal fraud have to do with Donald Trump?

It’s important to note at this point that Donald Trump is not an only child. Although it sounds like he received quite a bit of special treatment from his father Fred, the truth is that his siblings also allegedly received substantial gifts and properties as well.

And in 1981, one of Donald’s siblings, Fred Trump Jr., passed away due to complications from alcoholism. This meant that all of his assets would be passed on to his surviving family members according to his will, which would be handled by his estate.

The individuals who were in charge of his estate, by the way, were Donald and Fred Sr.

This is the first instance reported by the New York Times in which Donald Trump participated in appraisal fraud in order to avoid paying estate taxes. Although the Times states that the inherited properties would have been worth over $90 million, a document they obtained shows that the estate (Donald and Fred Sr.) claimed they were only worth slightly over $13 million.

As a result of this, Fred Trump Jr.’s estate only had to pay $700,000 in estate taxes. If they had declared these properties on their estate tax return at their full value, they would have had to pay nearly $60 million according to estate tax rates and exclusions in that year.

The next instance in which the Times claims that Donald Trump committed appraisal fraud to pay less in estate taxes occurred in 1997 when his father passed away. According to another document provided by the publication, Fred Trump’s estate was said to have a total value of around $41 million. However, they then state that Donald was able to sell his share of the estate for $177.3 million in 2004.

Think about those numbers for a minute. How was Donald Trump able to turn a portion of $41 million into $177.3 million in just 7 years? As the Times tells it, he was able to do this by handling his late father’s estate the same was as he did his late brother’s: fraudulently.

Allegedly!

Expense Reports Fraud

As the story goes, Fred Trump Jr.’s passing was a tragic surprise that couldn’t have been planned for in any way. However, the passing of Fred Trump Sr. was of natural causes, meaning there was plenty of time to prepare for the handling of his estate. Because of this, the New York Times claims that steps were taken ahead of time to siphon as much wealth from Fred Sr. to his children before his death in order to further minimize the size of his estate taxes.

One of the ways that this was accomplished was through a company named All County Building Supply and Maintenance, according to the Times. This company was hired by Fred Trump, owned by his children, and used to give them money through expense reports fraud.

But what is expense reports fraud?

This is a form of financial fraud that is well-known and fiercely opposed by many forensics accountants and anti-fraud organizations. Also known as expense schemes, this is when a business or one of its employees lies about their expenses.

Let’s go over the difference between an honest business expense and a fraudulent one. In the first scenario, an employee takes a client out to dinner in order to discuss business. In this case, the employee can claim the cost of dinner as a legitimate business expense. But if the employee takes someone who isn’t a client out to dinner as a date and then claims it as a business expense, they are committing expense report fraud.

Expense reports fraud can take many forms, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, such as when “an employee overstates the cost of actual expenses and seeks reimbursement.” And this is the type of fraud that the Times claims the Trumps engaged in with the aid of All County Building Supply and Maintenance.

An annotated document contained in their article breaks down how a purchase of 60 boilers for Fred Trump’s properties, conducted through All County Building Supply, was marked up by 20%. This extra 20% was pure profit, paid out to the owners of the building supply company. With enough business transactions conducted in this way, substantial amounts of money can be legally fed from Fred to his children without having to pay gift taxes.

And that’s how Donald Trump and his siblings were able to drain their father’s accounts before his death while paying the bare minimum taxes possible.

Allegedly!

For more information regarding different types of tax fraud, read the next article in this series titled Tax Avoidance By The Numbers: The Paradise Papers.

Conclusion

Let’s go over the different types of fraud discussed in this article: those that have been allegedly committed by the 45th President of the United States according to the Times’ exposé:

  • Gift tax fraud, where IRS fees on gifts are avoided by disguising them as loans or legitimate business transactions.
  • Securities fraud, where the value of stocks and investments are misrepresented in order to deceive investors or the IRS.
  • Loans fraud, where a loan is disguised as a different transaction in order to avoid involving a financial institution and setting fair interest rates.
  • Appraisal fraud, where the value of a property is misrepresented in order to manipulate mortgage rates or deceive the IRS.
  • Estate tax fraud, where the value of an individual’s estate is misrepresented in order to avoid paying a high percentage to the IRS.
  • Expense reports fraud, where business expenses are misrepresented in order to deceive a business or the IRS.

Not all of these fraudulent activities are specifically tax fraud, but they can all be used for the purpose of committing tax fraud. This is because they involve misrepresenting the value or existence of properties and expenses in order to deceive individuals, businesses, accountants, and tax auditors.

So what does this teach us about tax law? Well, by understanding what we aren’t supposed to do, we should be able to figure out what we are supposed to do, at least in the eyes of the IRS.

  • We’re supposed to pay a portion of anything inherited or received as a gift if it’s worth a significant amount.
  • If we’re taking out a loan instead of receiving a gift, we have to go through proper channels in order to ensure that the payment schedules and interest rates are set fairly.
  • And we’re not supposed to lie about the values of our properties, investments, or business expenses.

 

Scientists discover genes that could hold answers to mysteries of our evolution

May 28, 2019

RT

Scientists have discovered an exciting collection of genes that are unique to humans and could hold the key to learning more about our species’ evolution. The find changes the previous understanding of DNA.

Before now, these genes were thought to play similar roles across different organisms, but new computational analysis has found that they are actually human-specific. The exciting discovery could help to explain some of the major differences between humans and chimps, which share 99 percent of genomes.

Researchers from the University of Toronto analyzed patterns in DNA relating to gene activity. They discovered that more than two dozen human zinc finger transcription factors are human-specific. Just dozens of these TFs could cause significant differences in gene expression, they found.

“We think these molecular differences could be driving some of the differences between chimps and humans,” lead researcher Sam Lambert said.

TF proteins control gene activity by recognizing snippets of DNA code called motifs and use them to bind DNA and turn genes on and off.

The team created new software to search for similarities between the binding regions that the TFs target in the proteins and how they bind to DNA motifs. They focused on small fractions at a time to get a more precise view than previous studies.

The study is published by the Nature Genetics journal.

The Cro-Magnon were the first early modern humans (early Homo sapiens sapiens) of the European Upper Paleolithic. The earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are radiometrically dated to 35,000 years before present.

Cro-Magnons were robustly built and powerful. The body was generally heavy and solid with a strong musculature. The forehead was straight, with slight browridges and a tall forehead. Cro-Magnons were the first humans (genus Homo) to have a prominent chin. The brain capacity was about 1,600 cc (100 cubic inches), larger than the average for modern humans.The Cro-Magnons were long limbed and adult males would often reach 6 feet 3 inches (190 cm).

 Etymology

The name derives from the Abri de Cro-Magnon (French: rock shelter of Cro-Magnon, the big cave in Occitan) near the commune of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil in southwestern France, where the first specimen was found. Being the oldest known modern humans (Homo sapiens) in Europe, the Cro-Magnon were from the outset linked to the well-known Lascaux cave paintings and the Aurignacian culture whose remains were well known from southern France and Germany. As additional remains of early modern humans were discovered in archaeological sites from Western Europe and elsewhere, and dating techniques improved in the early 20th century, new finds were added to the taxonomic classification.

The term “Cro-Magnon” soon came to be used in a general sense to describe the oldest modern people in Europe. By the 1970s the term was used for any early modern human wherever found, as was the case with the far-flung Jebel Qafzeh remains in Israel and various Paleo-Indians in the Americas. However, analyses based on more current data concerning the migrations of early humans have contributed to a refined definition of this expression. Today, the term “Cro-Magnon” falls outside the usual naming conventions for early humans, though it remains an important term within the archaeological community as an identifier for the commensurate fossil remains in Europe and adjacent areas. Current scientific literature prefers the term “European Early Modern Humans” (or EEMH), instead of “Cro-Magnon”. The oldest definitely dated EEMH specimen with a modern and archaic (possibly Neanderthal) mosaic of traits is the Cro-Magnon Oase 1 find, which has been dated back to around 45,000 calendar years before present

Assemblages and specimens

The French geologist Louis Lartet discovered the first five skeletons of this type in March 1868 in a rock shelter named Abri de Crô-Magnon. Similar specimens were subsequently discovered in other parts of Europe and neighboring areas.

Peştera cu Oase

The oldest non-archaic human remains from Europe are the finds from Peştera cu Oase (the Cave with Bones) near the Iron Gates in Romania. The site is situated in the Danubian corridor, which may have been the Cro-Magnon entry point into Central Europe. The cave itself appears to be a hyena or cave bear den; the human remains may have been prey or carrion. No tools are associated with the finds.

Cro-Magnon were anatomically modern, straight limbed and tall compared to the contemporary Neanderthals. They are thought to have been 166 to 171 cm (about 5’5″ to 5’7″) tall. They also differ from modern day humans in having a more robust physique and a slightly larger cranial capacity. The Cro-Magnons had long, fairly low skulls, with a wide face, a prominent nose and moderate to no prognathism, similar to features seen in modern Europeans. A very distinct trait are the rectangular orbits.

Several works on genetics, blood types and cranial morphology indicate that the Basque people may be part descendents of the original Cro-Magnon population. A 2006 study of Basque DNA has shown a 1% incidence of mtDNA haplogroup U8a dated to the time of Cro-Magnon but noted that the low incidence of this ancestry and recent gene flow from neighbouring populations means the current Basque population cannot be considered reliable examples of the physical characteristics of Cro-Magnon.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis place the early European population as sister group to the Asian (“Mongol”) groups, dating the divergence to some 50 000 years ago. While the skin and hair colour of the Cro-Magnons can at best be guessed at, light skin is known to have evolved independently in both the Asian and European lines, and may have only appeared in the European line as recently as 6000 years ago suggesting Cro-Magnons could have been medium brown to tan-skinned. A small ivory bust of a man found at Dolní Věstonice and dated to 26 000 years indicate the Cro-Magnons had straight hair, though the somewhat later Venus of Brassempouy may show curly hair, or possibly braids.

Markku Niskanen (2002) of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oulu, Finland, claimed the “strong cheekbones” and “flaring zygomatic arches” considered to be evidence that “Finno-Ugrians” are “Mongoloid” are a trait they, in actuality, inherited from “Cro-Magnons”.

First of all, we still have the problem of a 60,000-year time lag between the appearance of the sub-Saharan modern type man who was on the scene with no “improvements” in his technology for that length of time.

If Cro-Magnon evolved in Africa, why isn’t there a continuous record of incremental developments?

By the same reasoning, if he evolved only after crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, why isn’t there a continuous record of incremental developments?

The most effective and popular way that science deals with this crisis is to ignore it, to deny it, or to seek to twist the facts to fit the theory.

 

As anti-vaxx dispute rages, attention turns to California’s Waldorf schools

The private schools stress nature, creative expression and hands-on learning but the 27 in the state have very low vaccination rates

May 28, 2019

by Carol Pogash in San Francisco

The Guardian

On a rainy Saturday in May, small children in tall boots, wool caps and rain gear watched marionettes perform a fairytale in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park. The crowd had gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Waldorf schools, the private schools that emphasize nature, creative expression and hands-on learning over tests and technology.

It was an enchanting scene with piglet puppets, waving stars and tinkling chimes. It may also have been the largest under-vaccinated group of children in the region.

As measles cases soar in the United States and doctors warn of under-vaccinated communities, attention has turned to low vaccination rates in California’s 27 Waldorf schools.

In California, which has more Waldorf schools than any other state, several of the schools had among the lowest vaccination rates last year. At the Sierra Waldorf school in California’s Gold Country, just 7% of kindergartners were fully vaccinated in the 2017-2018 school year, the lowest percentage of vaccinated kindergartners in the state, according to the state’s kindergarten immunization assessment. At the Berkeley Rose Waldorf school and the Marin Waldorf school, full vaccination rates were 29% and 22% respectively. Other California schools with low vaccination rates include Christian charter schools and charter schools for homeschoolers. The state’s average last year was 95%.

California has some of the country’s strictest vaccination laws. Kindergartners are required to be vaccinated for polio; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B and chickenpox. Kids are only allowed to enter school or daycare unvaccinated if they are medically exempt. And lawmakers in the state are seeking to tighten regulations around medical exemptions.

Only 4,000 medical exemptions were granted in California last year. Waldorf schools have some of the highest rates of medical exemptions in the state, including 37% of kindergarteners at the Waldorf school of Mendocino and 26% at Santa Cruz Waldorf school, statistics which do not include temporary medical exemptions.

“If [exemptions] were equally distributed, that wouldn’t be a problem,” said Dr. Paul Offit, professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of Deadly Choices: “How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.” Problems arise, he said, when there are pockets of un-immunized people. “It serves as fertile ground for a virus like measles to spread”, he said. He likened Waldorf schools to New York’s Ultra Orthodox Jewish community and the Somali communities in Minnesota, both of which had large unvaccinated populations and outbreaks of measles.

Waldorf schools, which are based on the philosophy of Austrian thinker Rudolf Steiner, teach cooperation over competition and a holistic approach to learning. Steiner, who died in 1925, contended that matters of health are better left to nature.

“They’re wonderful, cheerful, happy, play-based places to send a child to learn and grow and be fostered and loved, but they’re actually a place where your child will be at risk,” Leah Russin, director of Vaccinate California, a not-for-profit advocacy group, told the Guardian. “There are other schools with low vaccination rates,” she said, but Waldorf schools “share a common philosophy that does not support vaccinations”.

Waldorf officials say Steiner’s medical theories are not taught at their schools, and that the schools abide by the law. “There is no controversy. We follow the law. We’re in compliance,” said Megan Neale, the director of Marin Waldorf school in northern California.

“Schools do not get involved in or influence medical decisions of parents,” said Beverly Amico, executive director for advancement of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.

Amico said skepticism towards vaccines was not specific to a Waldorf education, but to some of the families the schools attract. “My assumption, having been in the community a long time, is that our parents tend to really educate themselves and seek healthcare alternatives,” she said.

In a dozen interviews with parents from six California Waldorf schools, only one parent in passing expressed concern that vaccines could trigger autism – a debunked, yet popular argument among anti-vaxx groups. But several linked vaccinations to autoimmune diseases, allergies and asthma. And all parents who opposed mandatory vaccinations said they distrusted big medicine, science and the government.

Waldorf families often “choose natural remedies, eat wholesome, organic food and prioritize good health in the natural world”, said Ashley Schaeffer Yildiz, a parent at Berkeley Rose Waldorf school. “Vaccines are quintessentially the antithesis to all that,” she argued.

“I have a very intense history of autoimmune diseases in my family,” she said. “I easily got medical exemptions for my kids.” She added: “For me, it’s really about the pharmaceutical companies profiting. They don’t have the best interests of our children’s wellbeing.”

“I don’t fear measles, I fear vaccines,” said one Sierra Waldorf mother, who was uncomfortable discussing her vaccination choices in public and asked to remain anonymous. Several months after she vaccinated her daughter, the child developed asthma and severe eczema. The child’s father has asthma, but the mother said she was convinced that “elevated toxins from the vaccine” suppressed her daughter’s immune system, causing her illness.

Doctors said there was no scientific evidence linking childhood vaccines with autoimmune diseases or asthma.

Jennifer Schmid, a nurse whose three children attended Waldorf school in Silicon Valley, blogs about wellness topics including vaccinations and what she believes are its harmful effects from injecting babies with “bio-hazardous chemicals and diseases”.

She distrusts the science, she said, because “all the studies are industry-funded”.

“We don’t know how to combat this,” said Dr Yvonne Maldonado, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases and a professor at Stanford School of Medicine. “We used to be able to tell people: ‘This is science.’

“They don’t see the diseases so they don’t think it’s a risk to their child,” she said of parents who doubt the need for vaccines.

Abhijit Ghosh, a computer scientist, loves that his second-grade daughter attends San Francisco’s Golden Bridges Waldorf school and can identify flowers, weeds and trees. But he has seen the effects of measles firsthand and knows the risks. In India, where he was born, “if you don’t vaccinate, your chance of dying or being crippled is high. Vaccination is not an option. It’s a matter of survival.” Ghosh sees the skepticism “as a typical first-world, privileged people’s problem”.

“The modern anti-vaccination movement is largely white, educated and privileged,” said Vaccinate California’s Russin. “And that’s who goes to Waldorf schools.”

“The larger problem is that our model of medicine has changed. It used to be that doctors were godlike,” said Dr Daniel Salmon, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety. Salmon said it was good that parents were now more involved in decision-making but the abundance of misinformation online had made it hard for many to separate fact from fiction. For example, he noted, parents seeking information must distinguish between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, which are mainstream medical organizations, and the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. The latter, a small, conservative organization that publishes articles claiming federal involvement in medical care is un-American and that HIV does not cause Aids, was “full of misinformation and opposes mandatory vaccinations”, Salmon said.

Many families who do believe in vaccinations send their children to Waldorf schools, balancing their appreciation for the schools’ methods with the medical risks for their families and the community. “It’s a matter of weighing risk and benefit,” said Khori Dastoor, whose child attends the Berkeley Rose Waldorf school. Dastoor values the “loving, nature-based, whole-child approach” her child was receiving, compared with the approach of traditional preschools, which she and her husband find overly academic, too dependent on devices and synthetic materials, and overly stimulating. “For us, the minimal risk was worth the immense benefit of keeping her in the program,” she said.

Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, there were at least 500,000 reports of measles annually, though many more cases went unreported, according to the CDC. At least 500 of those cases were fatal.

Last year, 82,596 people contracted measles in Europe and 72 children and adults died. It is highly contagious and can be spread by a sneeze, cough or breathing. Someone entering a room two hours after an infected person has left can become infected.

Decisions parents make can have implications far beyond their own family, especially for babies and people with compromised immune systems. To eradicate measles, 95% of the population must be immunized.

“Ten percent of children with measles will get ear infections which can result in permanent hearing loss. One of 20 children with measles will get pneumonia, one in 1,000 children will get encephalitis, and one to two per 1,000 children with measles will die,” Salmon said.

The Los Angeles pediatrician Edmond Sarraf, who is part of Physicians for Informed Consent, a group that energetically opposes mandatory vaccinations, has some Waldorf children in his practice.

Sarraf supports medical exemptions for “medically injured and fragile children” and argues that concerns about low vaccination rates endangering society are overblown.

He claimed there had not been any large outbreaks in less-vaccinated schools and downplayed recent measles cases at ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools in New York. “The morbidity and mortality is very low,” he said about the ultra-Orthodox schools.

He sees no reason to worry about schools with low vaccination rates. “We haven’t had any problems,” he said, “What are we worried about?”

Maldonado, the Stanford professor, argued there was a lot to worry about. “We used to see one death every week from vaccine-preventable diseases. We don’t see that any more,” she said. “Why would you do that to your child?”

Many California lawmakers appear to share her concern. On Wednesday, the state senate passed a bill requiring medical exemptions granted by physicians to be reviewed by a state board.

At a hearing this spring, the state senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician and the author of the bill, said the legislation was designed to weed out fake medical exemptions and protect society. “The ultra-low vaccination rates at schools including Waldorf schools are the tinder for a disease wildfire that is just waiting to be ignited and cause harm to students, teachers, staff and the surrounding communities. California cannot allow a handful of unethical physicians to take advantage of misinformed parents by selling them fake medical exemptions.”

The bill is now headed for a vote in the state assembly.

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Gary Ruskin

Gary Ruskin is the executive director of the US Right to Know (USRTK), an anti-GMO activist organization ostensibly devoted to “uncovering the food industry’s efforts to manipulate scientists into advancing pro-genetically-modified propaganda,” but primarily trying to advance denialist causes by issuing FOIA requests designed to harass or silence those he disagrees with, i.e. experts and scientists who actually know anything about the topic. After all, as the American Association for the Advancement of Science puts it, “[e]very … respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion,” namely that “[c]onsuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.” Anti-GMO movements accordingly cannot win on facts or evidence, but other strategies are available: after all, public debates, as opposed to the scientific ones, are often not won by facts and evidence.

As such, Ruskin and his group have become notable for having perfected one of the most effective denialist campaigning strategies in existence, the advanced shill gambit: if an expert who knows more than you on a topic a says something that don’t gel with your preferred narrative, don’t bother to discuss the facts; go for poisoning the well instead. In particular: investigate the person and harass her/him with FOIA requests; eventually, you will find some association you can possibly spin in a manner that makes it possible to question the integrity of the expert in question. What you find need of course not be anything that is even remotely fishy; as long as your target needs to explain the association, then questions are raised, and the FUD strategy has succeeded. Thus, any integrity issues you raise might involve multiple degrees of separation, if need be: If your target’s uncle works at the same institution as the mother-in-law of the founder of a non-profit organization you think (but has no evidence for thinking) has received support from Big Pharma, for instance (this was actually the one used by antivaccine conspiracy theorist Jake Crosby to try to discredit a science-based book Seth Mnookin that Crosby didn’t like or have the capacity to engage with on fact- and evidence-based grounds), you are in a position to reject anything your target has said about anything. It really is the most effective strategy when you can’t argue the facts or the evidence: question instead your opponent’s motives – yes, the strategy, which Ruskin has perfected, is the ultimate ad hominem.

Ruskin has summed up some of his “findings” in his report “Seedy Business: What Big Food Is Hiding With Its Slick PR Campaign on GMOs”, which proceeds by accusing scientists who disagree with him of being “untrustworthy” and “shills” in lieu of having to deal with the actual science. Perhaps the most illustrative example of the strategy is Ruskin’s and USRTK’s campaigns targeting Kevin Folta, which are detailed here. Ruskin’s strategy and its outcomes are further discussed here. Ruskin has also appeared on Dr. Oz to promote his harassment strategies and, without a hint of irony, to help discredit Oz’s critics with the help of shill gambits; yes, that’s right: dr. Oz was trying to discredit people pointing out how corrupt he is by accusing them of being paid.

It should be emphasized that the URSTK itself is funded by the organic food industry, a fact that they are, shall we say, not always sanguine about and sometimes inadvertently forget to mention when defending their own tactics.

Apart from harassing scientists, the URSTK website also serves as a repository for various denialist talking points and conspiracy theories. It should also be mentioned that one of the most experienced FUD tacticians in the denialist movement, Carey Gillam, is an central figure in URSTK.

Diagnosis: Yes, their business model is built around a familiar fallacy. So what? It’s effective, and this was never about facts, evidence or science. An icon of the post-truth political discourse, URSTK is an insidious threat to civilization and, yes, democracy.

 

The Rapture Fraud

May 28, 2019

by Christian Jürs

 

The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain systems of Christian eschatology (study of the end times) whereby all true Christians are taken from Earth by God into Heaven. Although almost all forms of Christianity believe that those who are “saved” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the term “rapture” is usually applied specifically to those theories saying that “Christians alive before the end of the world will be taken into heaven,” and there will be an intermediate time frame where non-Christians will be still left on earth before Christ arrives to set up his earthly kingdom.

The word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible. There is also no single word used by the numerous biblical authors to describe the prophetic factors which comprise the doctrine. Roman Catholics and nearly all of the main-line Protestants do not accept the concept of a rapture in which some are “taken up into Heaven” before the end of the world; this idea did not exist in the teachings of any Christians whatsoever until the late18th, and early 19th centuries, so it cannot be said to belong to Apostolic Tradition.

The legend of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, until after the year 1830. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned a syllable about it. Of course, those who feel the origin of the teaching is in the Bible would say that it only ceased being taught (for some unknown reason) at the close of the apostolic age only to reappear in 1830 But if the doctrine were so clearly stated in Scripture, it seems incredible that no one should have referred to it before the 19th and early 20th century. This does not, in and of itself prove conclusively that the story is wrong, but it does mean that thousands of eminent scholars who lived over a span of seventeen centuries (including some of the most astute of the religious scholars of the early Christian and, later of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods) must be considered as grossly incompetent for not having either knowledge or understanding  of a teaching viewed by fringe religious groups as so central to their beliefs. This lapse of seventeen centuries when no one mentioned anything about it is certainly a serious obstacle to its reliability or its acceptance by the less credulous

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

May 28, 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. 62

Date: Tuesday, February 4, 1997

Commenced:  8:45 AM CST

Concluded:  9:30 AM CST

GD: Feeling a little better, Robert?

RTC: Much, thank you. By the way, Gregory, I dug up the information on this Landreth person you asked me about. He used to work for CBS News and his father ran our offices in Havana. Edward Landreth. Used Sterling Chemical Company as a front. I wouldn’t trust this one, if I were you.

GD: No, I didn’t like him at first sight. And he got some hack named Willwirth at Time Magazine to promise to put me on the cover of their trashy rag if I cooperated.

RTC: What do they want?

GD: Anything and everything relating to Mueller’s CIA employment. Anything with his new name, that is. I have an old Virginia driver’s license, a pilot’s license, an old CIA ID card and things like that.

RTC: Don’t even show them to them and keep the new name to yourself. The first thing they will do, and the Army as well, will be to get out the burn bags and totally obliterate any trace of him. You see, Mueller came in at such a high level and so early that his name is not known. Once your book came out, there were frantic searches of the files but they ran up against the dismal fact that they could not identify his new personality. Beetle Smith knew it, but he’s dead. Critchfield is foaming at the mouth over all of this, but he doesn’t have the name either. Wonderful. But take my advice and don’t give out the name. They would obliterate any trace of it and then piously deny they knew anything about it. Why not try the Army records in Missouri? List five or six names plus the Mueller pseudonym and get a researcher to get the copies of the files. Don’t use your name because you are on the no-no list now. Then, you can take the real Mueller out and toss the rest.

GD: Robert, how brilliant of you. I did this a year ago but I’m glad to see you’re right up on things.

RTC: Well, I know the name, you know the name, but Tom Kimmel and Bill Corson do not know the name. I assume both of them have asked you?

GD: Of course they have.

RTC: Not surprising. I like Bill but he had gone over to the other side, lock, stock and barrel, so use discretion with him. And you can be polite to Kimmel but shut up around him. Anything either one of them get would go straight to Langley.

GD: And the burning would commence.

RTC: Clouds of smoke would blanket the eastern seaboard, Gregory. Help keep America pollution free and keep your mouth closed. No, that’s not what I meant. Your mouth is not a source of pollution. The smoke from the burning CIA records is what I had in mind. What kind of approaches do they use?

GD: Kindergarten level. ‘We are going to make you famous,’ is the main one followed by such stupidity as ‘you can tell me because I’m your friend.’ With friends like that, who needs any enemies? I wouldn’t let any of them into my house. My grandfather would have had them use the tradesman’s entrance. They don’t do that anymore. One great homogenous melting pot of proletariat idiots, ill-educated twits, liars and chronic violators of deceased prostitutes.

RTC: (Laughter) Such an accurate portrayal, Gregory.

GD: It’s been quite an unwanted education, Robert, listening to all the foolishness coming out of these creeps. But, good humored banter aside, I wanted to discuss the Kennedy thing with you.

RTC: Go ahead.

GD: I have been reading through all the major books on the subject, and here and there I find something interesting. Mostly, only personal opinion without facts. But in looking through my notes, I am positive that your collective motives were based on what you thought was good for the country and the CIA, in opposite order.

RTC: Passing secrets to the enemy is very serious, Gregory.

GD: Yes, but Kennedy sacked your top people and was going to break the agency up. Self-preservation is a powerful motive for action.

RTC: Yes, it is. We had a similar problem with Nixon, as I recall.

GD: You weren’t planning to off him, were you?

RTC: No, but we did get him out of the Oval Office.

GD: I met Nixon once and I rather liked him. You? What about Watergate?

RTC: Watergate was our method of getting him out. It wasn’t as final as the Zipper business but he played right into it.

GD: What did Nixon do to you?

RTC: Now, that’s a long and involved story, Gregory.

GD: Well, since you didn’t have him killed, can you tell me?

RTC: I suppose so. Nixon was no specific threat to us, understand. We worked with him rather well. But he was getting squirrelly the second time around. And the China business was no good. China was our enemy and we had the best relations with Taipei….Taiwan. The very best relations, and very profitable. Nixon threw the entire thing out of balance and then the war in Vietnam was another factor. Very complex.

GD: I have plenty of time.

RTC: It was the drug business in the final analysis.

GD: There have been stories around about that.

RTC: Can’t be proven. We get curious reporters fired for even hinting at that. Anyway, it started in ’44-’45 with Jim’s Italian connections in Naples and Palermo.

GD: Angleton?

RTC: Yes, of course. Jim had lived in Italy as a child and spoke the language fluently. He knew the Mafia people in Sicily and the gangs in Naples, not to mention the Union Corse people in Corsica. I mean it was to get their assistance in intelligence matters. First against the Germans and then against the local Communists. Jim was very effective but I don’t think he realized that by asking for favors, he put himself in the position of having to give favors back again. That’s how they are, you know.

GD: I’ve known one or two. Yes, very much that way. Didn’t he realize he was making a bargain with the Devil?

RTC: No, Jim did not. The Italians he grew up with were not that way. I knew a few of those people through my father. He was involved in politics in Chicago in the old days and that means a guaranteed association with the Mob.

GD: And they called in their markers?

RTC: Oh, yes, they did. And that’s how the drug connections got started. The Italian gangsters helped Angleton when he was there with the OSS and then later, they called their markers in with him. Not much at first but much more later. Opium makes morphine and refined morphine makes heroin. You must know that. Turkey has opium fields and so do a number of places in SEA. Burma, for example. Once you get into that sort of thing, Gregory, you can’t get out again. And we comforted ourselves that the actual movers and shakers were doing the dirty work and, at the same time, assisting us with intelligence matters. Killing off enemies, securing sensitive areas and that sort of thing. Naples and Palermo to begin with and later Corsica. And then in Asia, Burma first. We were big supporters of Chiang and when the Commies forced him out of mainland China, he went to Taiwan and one of his top generals, Li Mi, went south with his military command and got into former French Indochina and then into Burma. He had a large contingent of troops, thousands, and both us and the French supplied him with weapons and he, in turn, set up opium farms and we, but not the French, flew out the raw products to be refined in the Mediterranean. The weapons were often surplus World War Two pieces out of Sea Supply in Florida. As a note for your interest, we shipped tons of former Nazi weapons from Poland to Guatemala when we kicked out Guzman there. You have to understand that the Company was huge and compartmented, so most of the people knew nothing about the drugs. Of course the various DCIs did and Colby, who later was DCI, ran the drug business out of Cambodia.

GD: The Air American thing?

RTC: Among others. We actually used official military aircraft to ship when we couldn’t use our own proprietary people. Angleton had mob connections and they used him far more than he used them, but he did not dare try to back out. It got way out of hand but none of us wanted to bell that cat, believe me. And we finally flew out Li Mi with thirteen millions in gold bars. Flew him to safety in Switzerland.

GD: That stopped the drugs?

RTC: No, it all came under new management. Colby was very efficient.

GD: As a point of interest here, Robert, is that why they snuffed him?

RTC: Partially. He knew too much and no one dared to gig him too hard over the civilian killings he ran in Vietnam. There was always the danger he would break down. He was getting along in years and that’s when we have to watch these boys carefully. A heart attack here, an accidental drowning there. After we drowned Colby, we tore his summer place to bits and then ransacked his Dent Place address. Not to mention getting our friendly bankers to let us go through his safe deposit boxes. After hours, of course.

GD: Of course. You weren’t involved, were you?

RTC: In what? Removing these dangerous people? In some cases. I had nothing directly to do with the drugs. That was mostly Angleton.

GD: He muse have gotten rich.

RTC: Not really.

GD: But Nixon….was he in the drug business too?

RTC: No. Nixon was a nut, Gregory. A poor boy elevated on high and couldn’t handle the upper levels. Very smart but got to believe his own power. The second election, a landslide, convinced him that he was invulnerable. He wasn’t and he began to play games with China. By playing nice with them, he outraged Taiwan and we all do much business with those people. Drugs and other things. Never mind all that, because it’s still going on. Anyway, they bitched to us, louder and louder, that Nixon would listen to Mao and dump them. If they got dumped, they would tell all and none of us could stand that, so we decided to get Nixon removed. No point of doing a Kennedy on him, but he had to go. After Spiro got the boot, Jerry Ford took over and we knew we would never have any problem with good old Jerry. Hell, during the Warren Commission, good old Jerry ran to Hoover every night with the latest information, so we knew he was a loyal player.

GD: And now did you do it?

RTC: Get rid of Tricky Dick? He did it to himself. We supplied him with a team of our men after we convinced him that everyone was plotting against him. I told you he was getting strange. I think paranoid is a better word. Anyway, we convinced him that McGovern was getting money from Castro and he sent our people to break into the Democrat offices in the Watergate. To get the proof that didn’t exist. They went there to get caught. They taped open the door and one of our people called local security. You know the rest, I am sure. Nixon did it to himself in the end. We just supplied the push. And Ford did what he was told and everyone was happy again.

GD: No wonder they call the stuff powdered happiness.

RTC: (Laughter) I haven’t heard that but it’s fitting. I remember we were afraid Nixon might call out the military, so we stuck Alex Haig in there to keep him isolated. Haig was a real nut but he did his job very well. And another government change, but this time there were no inconvenient questions about Oswald and Ruby types for the nut fringe to babble about. No, Nixon did it to himself.

GD: It didn’t do the country any good, this drawn-out death agony.

RTC: It would not have been a good idea to shoot him, not after the fuss after Kennedy. And Formosa is happy and we are happy and the drugs are still moving around, making everyone money. Just think what we were able to do with our share of mystery cash. No Congress to badger us about our budgets at all. We got billions from them and more billions in cash from the other stuff, so we were all sitting in the catbird seat. Nixon was one man and he had served his usefulness. Notice he’s had a nice retirement.

GD: And so has Ford.

RTC: Ford was a classic pawn. Washington is full of them, Gregory. And I strongly urge you to keep away from this subject if and when you decide to write about things. The Company is not as keen on killing everyone like it used to be, but I don’t think you want to run up against the Mob.

GD: No, of course not.

RTC: That’s a smart fellow, Gregory. Go after dead CIA people but keep away from the Mob. Got it?

GD: Got it loud and clear.

 

(Concluded at 9:30 AM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

It’s Official: The U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Is a Complete Failure

Here come the frigates

May 22, 2019

by David Axe

The National Interest

The U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to be cheap, fast, flexible and easy to build.

But after spending $30 billion over a period of around two decades, the U.S. Navy has managed to acquire just 35 of the 3,000-ton-displacement vessels.

Sixteen were in service as of late 2018. Of those 16, four are test ships. Six are training ships. In 2019 just six LCSs, in theory, are deployable.

While that number should increase as the remaining ships in the class finally commission into service, the LCS’s low readiness rate calls into question the wisdom of the Navy’s investment in the type.

Indeed, the Navy in 2018 didn’t deploy a single LCS, USNI News reported. “The service was supposed to push forward three ships in Fiscal Year 2018, after a 2016 overhaul of LCS homeporting, command and control and manning constructs.”

“However, USNI News first reported in April 2018 that zero LCSs would deploy in [fiscal year] 2018. Since then, the Navy had not talked publicly about progress made towards getting ready to deploy its first LCSs since ships from a block-buy contract started delivering to the fleet at about four a year.”

Navy officials in early 2019 claimed at least three LCSs would deploy before the end of the current fiscal year in September 2019

“We’re deploying LCS this year, it’s happening,” Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Richard Brown told reporters. “Two ships are going on the West Coast; one ship is going on the East Coast, followed shortly [by a second] in the beginning of ‘20. And that marks the deployment of LCS; there will always be LCS forward-deployed now, just like we designed the program.”

Brown said the LCSs USS Montgomery and USS Gabrielle Giffords would deploy from San Diego to the Western Pacific while USS Detroit deployed from Florida. USS Little Rock in early 2020 also would deploy from Florida.

U.S. Southern Command in February 2019 announced that Detroit would conduct counterdrug operations. “We expect to have a littoral combat ship this year, and that will be a big benefit for our exercise program for our engagement with partners and because of the flexibility it brings for counter-narcotics interdiction,” SOUTHCOM commander Adm. Craig Faller said.

When the Navy in the 1990s first began shaping the LCS program, the idea was for the ships to be small, fast, inexpensive and lightly-manned “trucks” into which the sailing branch could plug a wide array of “modules” carrying equipment for specific missions including surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and minesweeping.

“The program’s three mission packages, according to the latest select acquisition report, add about $7.6 billion.”

In the decade and a half since the program was first sold to Congress, the LCS has already been forced into multiple major program changes, initially driven by large cost overruns, the lack of combat survivability and lethality discovered during operational testing and deployments, the almost crippling technical failures and schedule delays in each of the three mission modules.

Now the Navy has announced it is abandoning the two fundamental concepts behind the program: a multi-mission ship with swappable mission modules and a radically new way of manning it. Instead, each LCS hull will have a single mission and a significantly larger crew assigned a single primary skill set.

It took the Navy nearly two decades to realize the LCS program had failed. The sailing branch in 2014 cut LCS acquisition from 55 ships to 32. Congress eventually added three vessels, boosting the class to 35 ships.

In place of the 20 canceled LCSs, the Navy plans to buy 20 new missile frigates. The service in 2019 asked Congress for around $1 billion for the first ship in the new class.

In contrast to the LCS in its original guise, the new frigate will be a conventional vessel with a large crew and hard-wired systems.

The Navy surely hopes the new vessel is more deployable than the LCS has proved to be. A warship that can’t leave port hardly qualifies as a warship.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War Fix,War Is Boring and Machete Squad.

 

Lawmakers From 11 States Have a Plan to Tackle Suicide and Other Issues Veterans Face

May 28, 2019

by Akela Lacy

The Intercept

As the country mourned and celebrated Americans who have died in combat over the weekend, state lawmakers from around the country were working on a comprehensive plan to tackle some of the toughest problems facing veterans: suicide, homelessness, access to mental health care and medical care, and access to jobs.

A group of 26 state lawmakers across 11 states is planning to introduce a so-called Veterans Bill of Rights before their respective legislative sessions end or early next session. The impetus, organizers say, is the federal government’s failure to improve the way the country treats and supports people who’ve served in the military — even in the wake of a 2014 scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs that revealed massive wait times for veterans at VA campuses across the country, false record keeping, and lapses in care.

“When you have seven people so far this year who have committed suicide on a VA campus, you know there’s a problem,” former West Virginia State Sen. Richard Ojeda, a veteran himself, told The Intercept.

Ojeda, who ran for Congress in 2018 and then launched a short-lived presidential campaign, is now a senior adviser to Future Majority, a nonprofit Democratic strategy organization. Ojeda, Future Majority, and Future Now, a state-level political organizing group that developed the model policy for the veterans’ legislation, are working with the lawmakers to ramp up support for the bill and will travel to the 11 states to campaign for the bill over the next several months.

The lawmakers who’ve so far committed to introduce the legislation in their respective statehouses represent districts in South Carolina, Montana, New Hampshire, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona, and Texas. The groups are actively recruiting lawmakers from additional states and hope that others will sign on as the bill gains momentum.

There is typically bipartisan consensus over veterans issues, though the lawmakers planning to introduce the legislation are overwhelmingly Democrats.

“We believe strongly that the way you move federal policy is by moving state policy,” said Future Now co-founder Daniel Squadron. “When you look at the interest for this in red, blue, and purple states, that is a great mandate for the federal government to do something.”

Over the last couple of years, Congress has weighed measures that would address veterans’ issues, but none have taken direct aim at the problems covered by the Veterans Bill of Rights. Last year, President Donald Trump signed two such measures into law — one that would provide tax benefits to the spouses of service members, and another that would ensure that the VA reimburses veterans for missing or underpaid installments in housing benefits. Other bills, introduced by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, have floundered in committees.

The state-level legislation was built around a common question Future Now heard from Democratic lawmakers across the country, Squadron told The Intercept: “‘What can we do for vets?’” The bill the group designed in response is aimed at helping veterans access college degrees, jobs, health care, and housing “through proven, low-cost programs and law changes” inspired by conversations with state lawmakers across the country.

The measure would target microloans and technical assistance to veteran-owned businesses, use labor force data to direct veterans to in-demand job fields, and ensure that state licensing boards take veterans’ military training and experience into account.

When soldiers come out of the military, Ojeda explained, and are looking for jobs at home using the skills they used in the armed forces, they should be able to transfer those skills without having to retake licensing exams. “America is not accepting the training and qualifications that our soldiers have to do what they do over in combat zones,” Ojeda said. “And that’s ludicrous. If a person over there is driving tools from one end of Iraq to the other end of Iraq on roads where they’re getting shot at and they’re hoping IEDs don’t go off on them, then believe me, they should be able to drive on American roads,” he said. The bill would also award college credit for military experience and training.

Access to jobs is inextricable from the issue of veteran suicide, Ojeda explained, and the bill seeks to address both problems. “Financial instability is something that is throwing a lot of people off the rails and is playing a role in terms of this suicide,” he said.

The bill would also establish veteran health navigator services to identify federal and other health benefits coverage available for veterans and their families, assisting them with enrolling in coverage. The navigators would help identify mental health benefits as well, directing clients to services for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide prevention. It would help to identify barriers to accessing treatment, including perceived stigma and long distances to treatment centers. It would also push states to apply for grants addressing suicide prevention, connecting veterans with mental health providers. In states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, the bill would require reporting on the impact Medicaid expansion would have for veterans in the state.

“We were really excited to be able to work with our national network of lawmakers on a comprehensive solution to a lot of the challenges. And one that is 100 percent within states’ capacity to have an impact on,” Squadron said. “When you look at these solutions, they’re actionable, they’re realistic, they’re doable, but they haven’t happened. Because too often, the only national networks of state lawmakers are those controlled by narrow special interests, not those focused on the public interest, in this case, focused on veterans who have earned it many times over,” he said. “The enthusiasm to really do something, to not just go to a Memorial Day parade and wave the flag, but actually act on the values that are being espoused is really inspiring.”

 

Pearl Harbor: A Retrospective

May 28, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The Japanese attack on the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 was one of those watershed events which mark the history of all nations

The facts of the attack have never been in doubt. The ships comprising the Imperial Japanese naval task force are as well known as the ships of the U.S. Navy that were sunk during the raid. The losses in men and material on both sides are a matter of uncontested public record as are the names of the various military and political leaders of both Japan and the United States.

What has been a matter of conjecture from the moment that the last carrier-based Japanese bomber left Hawaii is why did the attack happen and who or what was responsible for the unleashing of a destructive war in the Pacific that killed hundreds of thousands of American, British, Dutch, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, Burmese and Koreans as well as one and a half million Chinese soldiers and left a similar number of Japanese dead. Not taken into account in most chronicles of the war are the numbers of civilian dead . The Chinese totals are unknown but estimated to be between 700,000 and 10,000,000. The number of Japanese civilians killed in air raids or other war-related casualties were about 953, 000.

In apportioning the guilt of war, it is the victors who write the histories and the losers who are condemned to a generation of silence.

There is no point, and certainly not sufficient space, to chronicle the complete root causes of this war. The actions and attitudes of past generations can be sifted and analyzed, circumstances and happenings viewed from a multitude of different angles and blame or praise apportioned by historians according to their personal opinions or, more often, by the official attitudes of those who command their works.

The 1941 war in the Pacific, like any incident, cannot be dissected with any degree of accuracy without exploring the history, politics and personalities of previous generations and to this prolix roll must be added such factors as economics, demographics and natural resources.

A kaleidoscope is a pleasant toy with which to amuse children but its concept can serve as an example of the extraordinary problems that face historians who wish to explore the avenues of history and to write about them without prejudice.

The mirrored tube of the toy contains bits of colored glass. What can’t be known are what patterns that will form each time the tube is rotated. This is the problem that faces historians. Facts and dates are certainly easily recognized but all of the various factors involved in historical occurrences become blurred and confusing when viewed across the distance of time.

The further the observer is removed from the moment, the more confusing the patterns become because the literature he must consult is blurred with personal opinion, clumsy and inaccurate analysis and the reality that the winners never admit their victory was either unnecessary or accidental.

With this in mind, where is a beginning to be made concerning the great Pacific war? Does one go back to the beginning of the century or the beginning of the millennium?

It may be erudite for a writer to bring forward chapters of ancient history and to spangle his works with his own opinions and psychological insights into the motives and personalities of the leaders of the period but all this does is serve as a vehicle for the writer’s ego and can only entertain but rarely inform.

This study will present a series of overviews which will condense historical background into readable form and devote the balance of the work to a through chronology of the events as well as supportive material that covers the period just prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Since the end of the war and the death of all the major leaders, more and more valuable records are becoming available to the public. When these are gathered, studied and finally compiled in chronological order, many of the myths, legends and deliberate untruths dissolve to be replaced with as much of the truth as can ever be found concerning a controversial issue.

No one wishes to take the responsibility for deliberately beginning a war that might have had no real reason for its commencement and whose course slaughtered millions of people.

Those in power in the United States when the war broke out cannot have been expected to write memoirs in which they would admit to having instigated such a war. It is far easier to blame the Japanese for launching the bloody conflict with a surprise attack than to suggest that perhaps Japan had been maneuvered into launching the attack.

The supporters of President Franklin Roosevelt have poured out hundreds of books since the end of the war in 1945, not only in praise of the American president’s actions but to place the blame for Pearl Harbor squarely on the expansionism and treachery of Imperial Japan. The basic themes of these essays in justification are Japanese treachery and American innocence.

Roosevelt’s role in the Pearl Harbor attack has been a subject of intense speculation from the very day of the debacle in Hawaii. His opponents, and he had many, claim that he deliberately pushed the Japanese into a war to permit him to fight his arch enemy, Adolf Hitler. His supporters, and they are equally legion, have repeatedly, often and at length denied this thesis but as their ranks thin and as more and more important material becomes available, their defenses have been seriously breached.

In this protracted debate, several valid points have been brought out by Roosevelt supporters that ought to be carefully considered. The most important point is concerned with U.S. military intelligence achievements and mainly deals with the interception and decoding of secret Japanese radio messages. Historians agree that the Japanese diplomatic code, called “Purple” after the color of their diplomatic code book, was broken by military intelligence and consequently, all high-level diplomatic messages between the Japanese Foreign office in Tokyo and Japanese diplomats stationed throughout the world were being decrypted and read almost as soon as U.S. intelligence intercepted them.

The question of the Japanese Army and Navy operational codes is an entirely different matter. The American establishment and its in-house historians have firmly denied for a half-century these military codes were broken until the end of the Pacific war in 1945.

While all of the diplomatic “Purple” decrypts have been made public in the intervening years, only a few of the coded Japanese naval messages have been released and then only in a highly edited and factually vague form.

Another issue is the timing on the decryption of the Japanese messages and the actual distribution of them to U.S. military and governmental figures in Washington. Highly significant messages are claimed not to have been decoded for four years and a number of messages of a lesser importance have no indication as to whom they were delivered or when.

In general, the official governmental position is that no really significant military messages were seen prior to the attack and therefore, neither the President or his ranking military subordinates could have possibly had any knowledge of a pending attack.

The Japanese task force did not transmit any messages during their foray across the deserted waters of the north Pacific but they did receive a considerable number of transmissions sent to them, in naval code, from the CIC Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and other military officials. A reading of this traffic makes it very clear indeed that an attack against Pearl Harbor was in train and for this reason, admission of the existence and knowledge of these transmissions by political and military figures in the U.S. has been very strongly, and officially, denied in the intervening years.

The argument has been well made, specifically by Roberta Wohlstetter in her 1961 book, ‘Pearl Harbor, Warning and Decision’, that so many Japanese coded messages were intercepted that it was extremely difficult for American intelligence agency personnel to winnow the wheat from the chaff. In retrospect, historians have stated, a Japanese attack was certainly in the offing but the direction of this attack was lost in the muddle of complex and difficult-to-translate messages.

One of the areas of great interest to historians has been the possible motivation for Roosevelt’s increasing pressure on the Japanese government, a pressure that culminated in seizure of Japanese assets and an embargo on oil, gas and scrap metal which were vital to maintaining the Japanese military machine. Many reasons have been given for the President’s action including a personal prejudice in favor of China. His maternal grandfather had a very lucrative opium smuggling operation with that country in the nineteenth century. Other, more likely scenarios encompass Roosevelt’s personal hatred of Hitler in particular and all Germans in general as well as an overriding determination to remain President of the United States until carried out of the office.

Both of these reasons are valid but in and of themselves do not fully explain the dangerous brinkmanship practiced by Roosevelt in his 1941 dealings with Japan. It is painfully and very clearly evident from reading the intercepts of the Japanese diplomatic messages that Tokyo was not only not interested in pursuing war against the U.S. but was seriously engaged in frantic attempts to defuse a dangerous situation which its accelerating progress caused them great alarm. There is no question that Roosevelt and his top advisors were reading all the Japanese diplomatic intercepts and were made fully aware the ease by which they could establish effective dialog with the Japanese government. All diplomatic approaches by Japan were rebuffed by Roosevelt and Cordell Hull, his Secretary of State. The artificial diplomatic crisis deepened and as the year waned, the probability of Japanese military action was clearly evident at the highest official levels in Washington.

To attempt to ascertain Roosevelt’s actual motives in his attitude towards Japan, it might be instructive to consider the situations in both Europe and the United States in 1941.

War between Germany and Poland had broken out on September 1, 1939 and rapidly escalated when France and Britain declared war on Germany several days later. The German army quickly crushed Poland but Hitler made no effort to attack either France or England, hoping that eventually some kind of a settlement could be made with both countries.

In spite of a number of diplomatic moves, Hitler could achieve nothing with either party although the French certainly were not interested in a reprise of the terrible First World War in which their country was turned into a shell-pocked ocean of mud and destruction.

In 1940, the British under their new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, decided to attack neutral Norway and by doing so, deprive Germany of Swedish iron ore shipments that came by sea along the Norwegian coast from northern Sweden. Hitler noted that the British had violated Norwegian neutrality on February 16 when Royal Navy destroyers entered Norwegian territorial waters and attacked the German tanker Altmark despite the protests of Norwegian naval units. The British now began to plan the invasion of Norway and this information came to German intelligence from a neutral diplomat in London.

This knowledge propelled Hitler into immediate action and German troops struck preemptively into Norway and Denmark on March 1. With an improvement in the weather, the Wehrmacht launched an attack on the western front on May 10 and by June 21, had forced the French to surrender and had driven the defeated British out of Europe

During this period, Roosevelt could not intervene in the conflict because the law

constrained him from declaring war without a mandate from Congress and, given the public American sentiment then prevailing, this would never be forthcoming.

Exactly when Roosevelt determined to attack Hitler is not known but there is a considerable body of evidence that his hatred of the German leader stemmed from a speech Hitler gave to his Reichstag on April 28, 1939. This speech, which was a masterpiece of sarcasm, was given in response to an address Roosevelt had made to Hitler a week earlier in which he demanded the German leader give assurances that he would not invade such countries as Ireland and Palestine. As Roosevelt had little actual knowledge of European politics, Hitler was able to very effectively demolish the American president’s arguments. Roosevelt could not stand any kind of criticism from any source and his response to Hitler’s speech was fury and a determination to attack Hitler at the first opportunity.

On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched a massive attack against the Soviet Union, at the time his ally. Many reasons have been given for this attack but a careful study of German and Soviet records indicates that Hitler viewed this campaign solely as a preemptive strike against a country which was rapidly preparing to attack him first.

Since the beginning of his presidency, Roosevelt had actively sought the support of the well-organized Communist party in the United States. This group was influential in certain industrial areas and especially in New York State whose Governor Roosevelt had once been. There is no question that the Communist support was vital in Roosevelt’s election and would continue to be vital in maintaining him in the White House. A man of almost no ideological understanding, Roosevelt was an extremely shrewd domestic politician and he realized the active support of the radical left was vital to his survival in office. His administrations were rapidly filled with a significantly large number of members of the left and Roosevelt went to great lengths to support their aims. The Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939 came as a great shock to American Communists but when Hitler invaded Stalin’s Russia in June of 1941, the Soviet dictator once again resumed his place as the champion of the workers and peasants and a very sought-after ally of Roosevelt and his administration.

The swift advances of the German Army and the virtual collapse of the Soviet Army became a source of great concern to Roosevelt. The large losses in territory and manpower suffered by the Soviets convinced many in Washington that the complete disintegration of the Soviet government was only weeks away. This caused great consternation in both London and Washington because Stalin was the last viable enemy of Hitler. England was militarily wrecked and could not launch a meaningful attack against Germany and the neutral U.S. could do nothing to assist Stalin but give him as much financial support as they could.

If, as it appeared in the autumn of 1941, Russia could collapse, the last major hope for the containment and destruction of Hitler and his country would be gone.

The point of balance now shifted from European Russia to the Far East.

When the leading edge of the German Army was before Moscow, the capital was subject to heavy air raids by the Luftwaffe, and the bulk of the Soviet government and the diplomatic corps had fled. What was left of the decimated Soviet Red Army was engaged in a protracted death struggle for the capital.

There was a very acute possibility the Japanese, chronic enemies of Russia and officially allied with Germany, would take advantage of Stalin’s major preoccupation with the siege of his capital and fall onto his rear, invading the eastern province of Siberia. This area was extraordinarily difficult to supply as the Czar’s generals discovered in 1904. The hostility between Japan and Russia which erupted in that year and the Russo-Japanese war ended in a defeat for Russia and Japan’s elevation to the status of a world power. The animosity between the two countries never abated and in July of 1938, an expansionist Japan, engaged in a protracted and very savage war with the provincial warlords of China, turned its attentions towards Russia and attempted to seize land inside the Soviet Union at Chankufeng near the vital Soviet naval base of Vladivostok.

The Soviets counterattacked and drove the Japanese back into their own territory. Undaunted by their defeat, Japan attacked the Soviets again in May of 1939 and for four months a series of battles raged back and forth. Eventually,  n late August of that year, Soviet General Zhukov launched a powerful attack against the  invader with nine divisions and 600 tanks. The Japanese were severely beaten; suffering the loss of 18,000 men and considerable aircraft.

Following this humiliating defeat, there was a strong movement in the Japanese high command to prepare for war against the Soviet Union. This project was called the Strike North plan and their plans for an attack on Vladivostok were shown to Hitler by General Baron Oshima, Japan’s pro-German ambassador as early as March, 1941. Hitler discussed the probability of this attack with members of his military staff throughout the balance of the year.

The major problem facing Roosevelt then is evident. Stalin was the linchpin of the Roosevelt-Churchill military policy. If Stalin fell, Hitler was certain to destroy Russia’s capacity to remain in the war and this could not be allowed to happen. Roosevelt was able to give funds to Stalin but could send no supplies or weapons of war to the dictator without the approval of Congress. If Japan decided to move against Stalin’s eastern territories, he would then be fighting a two-front war and without any question, would be quickly defeated.

In autumn of 1941, therefore, Roosevelt’s most urgent task was to prevent Japan from launching any military actions against Russia. As the President was well aware, there was another military faction in Japan that wished to expand in a southern direction and secure the natural resources of Southeastern Asia. This faction was called the Strike South Force and their aims were far more acceptable to Roosevelt than their rivals’ one.

By applying both diplomatic and economic pressure against Japan, Roosevelt obviously hoped to distract the Japanese from embarking on a Russian adventure and to encourage them to move, if move they did, in the opposite and far more acceptable direction. Roosevelt was safe enough in embracing this southern concept because the U.S. had very little invested in the Far East with the exception of a few mid-Pacific islands and the Philippines which, in any case, were slated for independence in 1948.

The British, on the other hand, had a great deal of capital invested in the same area so Churchill was equally fearful of the southern plan of the Japanese. By 1941, however, Britain had been reduced to the level of a client state of America.

Although professing great sympathy for Churchill’s war, Roosevelt had no problem whatsoever in securing the most advantageous financial position he could when England found it must replenish its military equipment losses. When the British Expeditionary Force had fled France in 1940, they had to abandon all of their heavy equipment, vehicles, artillery and small arms on the beaches of Dunkirk.

Roosevelt was most pleased to resupply the British Army…at a price. He sold them obsolete American rifles, equipment, and outdated ammunition and sent them on trade fifty destroyers dating back 30 years and in deplorable repair. In return for this largesse, Churchill had to pay in gold, paper money not being wanted, and to find the gold, he had to empty the treasury and the banks of England. When the gold had all vanished into the U.S. Fort Knox repository, Roosevelt then demanded, and got, the surrender of all British assets and business holdings in the United States and Canada. These his Treasury Department consistently undervalued and these minimal values were credited to the account of the British government for arms purchases.

The assets were later resold by the government to private parties at a considerable profit. This Yankee trading also extended to other, similar spheres when in April of 1941,  Roosevelt had the Treasury Department freeze the assets of the Swiss bank branches in the United States on the flimsy grounds that German funds might be involved. What was actually involved were $230 million in Jewish refugee funds, all but $500 thousand of which were kept by the U.S. government.

When the possibility of a Japanese invasion of British territories arose, Churchill expressed great alarm to Roosevelt but the American President then held all the cards and brushed aside the Prime Minister’s concerns with vague promises that America would regain any lost territory at the conclusion of what Roosevelt was certain would be a successful war.

In actuality, Roosevelt was a bitter opponent of the colonial system and expressed to his inner circle that he had no intentions of returning any former colony to its ante bellum masters.

American pressure on Japan to prevent any attack on Russia is certainly the simplest answer to the complex welter of issues raised in the postwar years concerning the outbreak of war in the Pacific. In reality, Roosevelt was completely successful in his goal of distracting the Japanese military but the price the American public eventually paid was enormous.

 

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