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TBR News May 9, 2019

May 09 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. May 9, 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 9:” Diego Garcia is what is supposed to be a secret American military base in the Indian Ocean, that is until someone left a Top Secret analysis of it in a White House lavatory recently. When the person entrusted with it realized where he had left it, he ran back in panic, only to discover it was gone. My, my such wailing and then came the officials to find out what had happened to it. Never found and orders are out not to discuss it. It is probably in Russia by now, given the loose attitudes towards classified material around here.”

The Table of Contents

  • #ConstitutionalCrisis? Trump’s battle with Congress comes to a head
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • California defies Trump to ban pesticide linked to childhood brain damage
  • California: why the cash cow state will take center stage in the 2020 race
  • Racism in Action: The Neo-Confederate Movement in American Politics
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Explainer: Can Trump use executive privilege to withhold full Mueller report?
  • Trump’s antics over Iran have endangered us all. The stakes are now lethally high
  • Mark Zuckerberg has to go. Here are 25 reasons why
  • US must prevent construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline to counter Russia – Pompeo

 

#ConstitutionalCrisis? Trump’s battle with Congress comes to a head

The president’s claims of executive privilege over the Mueller report have set new alarm bells ringing for the fate of democracy

May 9, 2019

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

Police this week arrested an alleged arsonist who started a fire outside the National Archives building in Washington, claiming that voices told him to “burn buildings down”. The archives display a four-page handwritten document to countless tourists and schoolchildren: the US constitution.

While the physical object remains fragile but secure, the political framework it represents is facing one of the severest threats in its 232-year history. The arsonist is Donald Trump and he is getting ever closer with his tiki torch.

On Wednesday, the House judiciary committee voted to hold Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress. It was a seminal moment in Democrats’ legal battle with the White House over access to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on how Russia helped Trump win the 2016 election.

In response, Trump for the first time invoked the principle of executive privilege, claiming the right to block members of Congress from reading the full Mueller report. The committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler of New York, declared the action a clear sign of the president’s “blanket defiance” of Congress’s constitutional right to conduct oversight.

“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” Nadler told reporters after the hearing. “Now is the time of testing whether we can keep our republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government. We must resist this.”

It did not take long for the hashtag #ConstitutionalCrisis to trend on Twitter.

Hyperbole? Republicans and their allies naturally think so. The justice department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec accused Nadler and co of “inappropriate political theatrics”. Geraldo Rivera, a broadcaster on Fox News, tweeted more bluntly: “Anti- @realDonaldTrump pundits & critics have been using the phrase #ConstitutionalCrisis so often over the last 2+ years-It is now seen as alarmist bullshit.”

It is true that, from the day he won election, there has been hysteria about the 45th president, or what his supporters like to call “Trump derangement syndrome”. So far he has not jailed journalists, declared martial law or invaded Iraq; institutions have bent rather than broken; the sky has not fallen in. Conventional wisdom has been that, while displaying the authoritarian tendencies of a dictator, Trump lacks the guile to pull it off. Two centuries’ worth of checks and balances should, in theory, be enough to contain him.

Yet this time is different. Alarm bells not heard before are ringing. Not because Trump has got worse – he doesn’t – but because events have forced the matter to a head. Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in last November’s midterm elections, obliging them to wheel out a “subpoena cannon” and end the Trump honeymoon in Washington. Then Mueller produced his long-awaited report, chronicling 10 incidents in which the president may have attempted to obstruct justice but stopping short of indictment, an unsatisfactory conclusion that made all-out political war inevitable.

Dismayingly, Barr has behaved like a political stooge, the sort of apologist one would expect in a slow-moving coup. Now Trump’s assertion of executive privilege – a move normally designed to protect the confidentiality of the Oval Office decision-making process – to hide part of the report and its underlying evidence seems baseless, intended only to trigger a long court battle and run down the clock to election day in November 2020.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, says: “This is more than minor fireworks. It’s a fundamental challenge to the structure of checks and balances. In particular, the president’s wholesale, blunderbuss assertion of executive privilege over the entirety of the Mueller report is legally groundless to the point of being preposterous.

“The redacted portions of the report and the underlying masses of evidence – the only items not already in the public domain – include vast amounts of material that cannot conceivably be described as subject to any of the several forms of executive privilege as that privilege was defined in the Nixon tapes case … This reckless invocation of executive privilege gives the whole concept a stench of coverup, a sad fate for an important principle with a number of entirely valid applications.”

Trump is doing what he always does: defying long-established norms through brute force of will. It was impossible to insult a war veteran like John McCain and get away with it, yet he did. It was impossible to be caught on film bragging about groping women and survive, and yet he did. It was impossible for a president to behave like an absolute monarch and ignore Congress as a co-equal branch of government, and yet he will.

So the White House rejects all congressional efforts to investigate Trump’s business dealings or tax returns as well as the West Wing’s security clearance procedure. It defies a subpoena for the former counsel Don McGahn to turn over documents. Trump says he does not want Mueller to testify on Capitol Hill. All this in the context of a record 58 days without a White House press briefing, a president who constantly attacks the FBI and other institutions and a cable news channel, Fox, that feeds millions of people news from a parallel universe.

Writing in the New York Times on Tuesday, the columnist Thomas Friedman noted how, like the spoon-bender Uri Geller, this president bends people to do his bidding. “What worries me most right now is that if Trump gets a second term he’ll also bend all the key institutions that govern us,” Friedman wrote. “Already he’s softening the steel in many of them so they can be bent more easily.”

Trump used to joke about changing the constitution so he could be president for life. The other day he claimed that two years of his presidency had been “stolen” by the drama over Russian collusion and seemed to endorse the idea of a two-year extension as compensation. Perhaps he was still joking. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has warned that if the president narrowly loses next year’s election, he will not voluntarily give up power. It seems a safe enough prediction.

The constitution is well-protected but not fireproof. Kurt Bardella, the former spokesperson and senior adviser for the House oversight and government reform committee, says: “What we are seeing from the Trump administration is a systemic attack on checks and balances that threatens the constitutional balance that our founding fathers established.

“Without a co-equal branch of government to hold the executive branch accountable, we are less of a democracy and more of a dictatorship. This is the most important fight of our republic’s life and if we lose it, we lose the entire idea of American democracy.”

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Sarah Pope

A.k.a. The healthy home economist

Sarah Pope is a Weston-Price Foundation board member with training in economics and financial management, who offers dangerous health advice and insane conspiracy theories under the description “the healthy home economist”. Pope is an antivaxxer, and recommends that parents avoid all vaccines in favor of homeoprophylaxis and immune boosting diets (it is hard to exaggerate how stupid this is) and that they also avoid the newborn vitamin K shot. Moreover, she is on record telling parents to lie to their pediatricians about giving babies raw milk, since pediatricians have a tendency to be sensible and take a reality-based view on such things and may therefore not support the choice, which goes against Pope’s religious view of the benevolence of all things natural (where “natural” is somewhat nebulously defined to include e.g. raw milk).

She has also argued against anti-D immunoglobulin for the prevention of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn. The condition is caused by a mismatch in mother-fetal blood type, and the treatment is a safe medical therapy that has saved countless lives (Pope acknowledges a “small risk” – thousands and thousands of dead babies pale in comparison to what really matters for Pope, namely the spiritual purity of your bodily fluids). To make her case, Pope relies on fear-mongering and links to conspiracy websites like whale.to (oh yes, she does). There is a good discussion of her article on the issue and some rather strikingly basic errors here (including things like Pope’s claims that the “shot does work, but only if the immunoglobulin is administered within 72 hours of the trauma that caused the blood mixing in the first place” and “[t]he Rh antibodies from the RhoGam shot hang around in the mother’s bloodstream for up to 12 weeks following the shot” – choose whichever claim sounds scarier; yes, they blatantly contradict each other.) As you’d expect, Pope appeals to Big Pharma conspiracies to explain why doctors and science are wrong on issues like this, as well as outright lying (“anti-D is never given during pregnancy in Europe, only after delivery,” says Pope, since it seems to serve her argument if the claim had any basis in reality, which it doesn’t). Instead of the evils of science and reality, Pope recommends being natural and use semi-randomly selected nutritional supplements to help “tone the uterus”. To ensure that she touches all bases, she aslo manages to end up blaming fluoride.

As an antivaxxer, Pope has promoted pretty much every antivaccine gambit, piece of misinformation and pseudoscience in the antivaccine playbook, including herd immunity denialism, claiming that vaccines cause autism, that vaccines don’t work, the idiotic aborted fetal tissue nonsense (in “How to Resist Pediatrician Pro Vaccination Tactics”; links in the foregoing will, as usual, take you to succinct explanations for why the claims are nonsense). Indeed, Pope is so much the image of a loony antivaxxer that she even got to serve as model antivaxxer for the Daily Show antivaxxer parody (she didn’t respond particularly intelligently to that. Pope has also for instance pushed the myth that vaccines still contain thimerosal, a “neurotoxin”. Thimerosal is not a neurotoxin, and was nevertheless removed from vaccines in 2001, despite being completely safe, due to antivaccine fearmongering trying to link it to autism. Of course, removing it from vaccines did not affect the rate of autism, since vaccines never caused autism; some among the crazier fringes of the anti-vaccine movement accordingly try to claim that everything is a conspiracy and that thimerosal is still present in the vaccine. Like Pope: “Studies performed by Health Advocacy in the Public Interest (HAPI) in 2004 found that despite vaccine manufacturers’ claims that thimerosal was no longer being used … All vaccine vials tested by HAPI that were labeled ‘mercury free’ did, in fact, contain this neurotoxin.” HAPI is an anti-vaccine group. Their study consisted of sending 4 samples of anti-D to Doctor’s Data, a crank lab famous for giving any crackpot sending anything there precisely the results they want to obtain. Pope also pushes the aluminum scare, of course.

And as for the fact that children die from vaccine preventable diseases? Well, her children didn’t, therefore vaccines are unnecessary.

Diagnosis: Yes, she does a good job as an unintentional parody of the antivaccine movement, but there is nothing funny about it. A truly terrible person. Whatever you do, do not take health advice from this person.

 

Joseph Pizzorno

Not as market-aggressive as Joe Mercola or as high-profile as Andrew Weil, Joseph Pizzorno is nevertheless one of the most influential pseudoscientists affiliated with the world of woo (and associated conspiracy mongering) working today. Pizzorno is the founding President and currently President Emeritus of Bastyr University, arguably the most influential “schools” of naturopathic “medicine” in North America, and is still involved in the institution where he, right from the beginning and until 2000, was running its day-to-day operations. Now, Pizzorno’s style is a far cry from the paranoia-driven delusions of someone like, say, Mike Adams – he did, for instance, recognize Hulda Clark’s quackery for what it was (not exactly a major cognitive feat, though) – but his own brand of naturopathy is hardly more evidence-based or health-promoting; it just sounds less deranged to the uninitiated. Bastyr embraces homeopathy without criticism, for instance; indeed, Bastyr’s students are required to study homeopathy together with all the other nonsense suggested to be beneficial by naturopaths, from myofascial analysis and vega testing to traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and even distant healing and germ theory denialism. Make no mistake; Pizzorno, his university, and naturopathy in general, are anti-science to the core.

Pizzorno is the co-author of the Textbook of Natural Medicine(with Michael T. Murray, who is also former faculty at Bastyr University and currently on its Board of Regents), which is widely used even in accredited education programs – despite being demonstrably a piece of unscientific junk. The book is described in some detail here. It is advertised as “the gold standard in natural medicine,” and as a scientific presentation that “includes the science behind concepts and treatments, and discusses Western medical treatments and how they can work with natural medicine in a comprehensive treatment plan;” more than “10,000 research literature citations show that the content is based on science rather than opinions or anecdotes.” It is interesting that they felt the need to point it out. Of course, as most critics would also point out, more important than what they included is what they did not include (i.e. all the well-designed tests, real scientific literature, and the parts of the texts they cited that do not support the conclusions they wish to draw); besides, the authors are fully prepared to drop any pretense of scientific support when it suits them, and the chapters on therapeutic modalitis baldly admits that “[a]lthough this textbook is strongly oriented to the scientific method and the use of the peer-review literature for documentation of the efficacy of a therapy, these modalities’ widespread clinical use and long history of patient satisfaction demand that they be given a place here even though the mechanisms of action of several have yet to be elicited.” Or in short: when scientific evidence shows that what they wish would work doesn’t work, disregard the science and rely on anecdotes and appeals to popularity or tradition instead. Among the most obvious and damning things that should strike anyone opening the book is naturopathy’s wholesale endorsement of medieval-style and thoroughly refuted vitalism; Pizzorno and Murray are unfazed by refutation, however, and claim against all evidence, knowledge and reality that homeostasis, entropy, and even evolution require vitalistic rather than mechanistic explanations. This is, of course, not simply false but a testament to the authors’ poor judgment and equally poor understanding of science. There is a good review of the second edition of the textbook here.

Pizzorno is also co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods and The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the Bible of Woo, in which more or less every piece of quackery is described as efficacious and studies that might seem to support those types of quackery if you don’t look closely enough to see the flaws, are carefully selected to provide a sheen of legitimacy while the many high-quality studies that don’t “fit the narrative” are just not mentioned. Like the textbook, the Encyclopedia (e.g.) recommends a range of questionable dietary measures, vitamins, minerals, and/or herbs for more than 70 health problems ranging from acne to AIDS – in many cases daily administration of ten or more products is recommended, often in dosages high enough to cause toxicity.

Pizzorno is also the author of Total Wellness: Improve Your Health By Understanding Your Body’s Healing Systems, which even contains a chapter titled “Strengthen Your Immune System” arguing (assuming) that “immune suppression” as an underlying cause of most disease. Total Wellness book is also antivaccine, of course. “Quackery” simply isn’t strong enough to describe the nature of Pizzorno’s advice. And things are barely better in his How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine (with Murray, Tim Birdsall, and Paul Riley), one of many cancer quack books providing a whole “arsenal” of advice that range from the admittedly sensible to the useless, and since the latter is hard to distinguish from the former in the authors’ presentation, the book is one to avoid completely and with prejudice if you ever need information about cancer.

From the very founding of Bastyr, Pizzorno’s main concern seems to have been how to make naturopathic quackery look respectable. An important part of that process was of course to get their naturopathic program accredited, and to achieve this goal, Pizzorno helped write the CNME standards for naturopathic programs that would eventually be used to accredit Bastyr’s naturopathic program in 1987. Yes, accredidation is a mess; what Pizzorno and his allies achieved, was establishing a separate accrediting agency for naturopathic schools, effectively shielding them from effective oversight of their pseudoscience-filled curricula. Pizzorno is also on the board of AAFP’s Board on Functional Medicine; “functional medicine” being one of the ultimate misnomers in the world of woo.

Pizzorno has worked tirelessly to achieve more widespread acceptance of quackery through other venues as well, including offering courses for the American Council for Continuing Medical Education, where he for instance teaches about “Detoxification” and “Assessing Body Burden” – the latter presumably related to his Encyclopedia’s nonsensical claim that 25% of the US population suffers from heavy metal poisoning, which can ostensibly be assessed by provoked urine testing. That is a myth, of course, but tests almost ensuring false positives are useful for people pushing fraudulent detox regimes – you won’t have toxic levels of heavy metals in your body after completing the detox regimes, of course, and what more do you want? More on his efforts here.

As for his own background, Pizzorno has a B.S. in Chemistry and an N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine) degree in 1975 from National College of Naturopathic Medicine. He does, in other words, not have a background in medicine.

Diagnosis: Quackery galore. But Pizzorno isn’t just a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist with a website, and his efforts to give naturopathy a sheen of legitimacy – marketing is everything, since most people don’t have the resources or background knowledge to assess the contents – have proved scarily successful. Definitely one of the most dangerous loons alive today.

 

California defies Trump to ban pesticide linked to childhood brain damage

The EPA had moved to ban chlorpyrifos under Obama, but the Trump administration reversed that effort

May 8, 2019

by Sam Levin in San Francisco

The Guardian

California is banning a widely used pesticide that has been linked to brain damage in children, a major victory for public health advocates who have long fought to outlaw the toxic chemical in the agricultural industry.

The state ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used on almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes, walnuts and other crops, follows years of research finding the chemical causes serious health effects in children, including impaired brain and neurological development. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had moved to ban the chemical under Barack Obama, but the Trump administration reversed that effort, rejecting the scientific conclusions of its own government experts.

“Countless people have suffered as a result of this chemical,” the California EPA secretary, Jared Blumenfeld, said in an interview on Wednesday. “A lot of people live and work and go to school right next to fields that are being sprayed with chlorpyrifos … It’s an issue of environmental health and justice.”

The move in California, home to a vast agricultural sector responsible for growing a majority of the nation’s fruits and nuts, is the latest example of the state resisting Trump’s conservative agenda and policies. Environmental activists, however, have been pushing to stop chlorpyrifos use in the state for years in the wake of overwhelming evidence of harms caused by exposure.

“This is a very important and pivotal moment,” said Angel Garcia, the chair of the Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety, who has worked with families affected by chlorpyrifos. “It sends the message to communities that they are starting to be heard … People will now have a safer future.”

Epidemiological studies have linked chlorpyrifos to a number of health conditions. Pregnant women living near fields and farms that use the chemical have an increased risk of having a child with autism. Exposure to low to moderate levels of chlorpyrifos during pregnancy have also been associated with lower IQs and memory problems. California officials cited a recent review by a state panel on toxic air contaminants, which found the effects in children could occur at lower levels than previously understood.

“The science is definitive,” said Blumenfeld, adding that he hoped the move would spur the federal government to take action. “This job really should have been done by the US EPA.”

After environmental groups sued the Trump administration for reversing the Obama-era ban, a judge ordered the federal EPA to prohibit use of chlorpyrifos last year. But the government appealed that decision, and the courts have ordered the EPA to make a final decision about chlorpyrifos by July.

Activists have accused the Trump administration of backing the interests of DowDuPont, a chlorpyrifos manufacturer whose predecessor donated to the president.

DowDuPont is now “evaluating all options to challenge” California’s ban, spokesman Gregg Schmidt said in a statement, adding that eliminating chlorpyrifos would “remove an important tool for farmers and undermines the highly effective system for regulating pesticides that has been in place at the federal level and in the state of California for decades”. He also noted that the chemical is currently approved for use in roughly 100 countries.

The US banned chlorpyrifos for residential use back in 2001. An expert panel of toxicologists last year recommended a ban on all organophosphates, the class of pesticides that includes chlorpyrifos. More than 10,000 tonnes of organophosphates are sprayed in 24 European countries each year.

In California, the process of banning chlorpyrifos use across the Central Valley agricultural regions could take up to two years, officials said. In 2015, the state implemented tighter restrictions on the use of chlorpyrifos, but critics have argued that a full ban was the only way to protect the health of farming communities.

The California governor, Gavin Newsom, has also proposed $5.7m in new funding to support the transition from chlorpyrifos to “safer, more sustainable alternatives”.

Climate change is expected to worsen pest challenges in agriculture, which means the need to find alternatives to toxic chemicals is urgent, said Blumenfeld: “It’s not just about chlorpyrifos. It’s making sure we have a more holistic and nature-based approach.”

California: why the cash cow state will take center stage in the 2020 race 

Now that the state moved its primary to Super Tuesday, 2020 hopefuls have more reasons to visit than just to fill their coffers

May 9, 2019

by Vivian Ho in San Francisco

The Guardian

California has always played the role of cash cow in national politics. With Silicon Valley in the north and the entertainment industry in the south, the Golden State has no shortage of wealthy donors for politicians to turn to when it comes to raising the much-needed funds to run a costly campaign.

But with the 2020 Democratic ticket far from decided, and the California primary moving three months earlier to Super Tuesday, candidates now have more reasons to visit the staunchly blue state than to just fill their coffers.

“Historically, California has always been the ATM of national politics, especially on the Democratic side, with candidates or incumbent presidents flying in and holding a couple of high-end fundraisers and getting out without touching the hand of a real voter,” said Brian Brokaw, a Sacramento-based Democratic consultant.

“The dynamic has changed this cycle due to the primaries having been moved up,” he told the Guardian. “Now when candidates come to California, not only are they fundraising here, but they are engaging in retail campaigning to an extent that I’ve never seen happen at a presidential campaign, especially this far out. It feels like not a week has gone by without a top-tier presidential candidate coming to California.”

Add to the mix the largest pool of Democratic candidates in history, as well as a strong contender with a home court advantage – the Senator Kamala Harris, already leading the pack with $6.6m in donations from more than 7,600 donors in California in the first quarter – and the game has changed.

“They’re being very public and very unapologetic about the importance of California,” said Nicole Derse, an Oakland-based political consultant and former Obama for America organizer, about the candidates. “Previously, the only real benefit you could get from coming to the Bay Area would be to increase your coffers, but now you’re building up your grassroots organization. There is a need for volunteers and a need for momentum.”

That doesn’t mean the candidates stop fundraising, however. This cycle has seen a larger emphasis on small donations than before, as Democrats intensify their charge against big money in politics and the party moves away from taking dark money or outside spending. Small dollar donations also allow donors to give multiple times.

“That’s why you’re seeing a lot of candidates, whether it’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg or Beto O’Rourke or others, holding a fundraiser with a $50 ticket,” Brokaw said. “While they’re holding low-dollar fundraisers, they’re also getting the benefit of retail politicking. This is a kind of politicking you really only saw in early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.”

Following Harris, the Senator Cory Booker has garnered the highest donation totals from California in the first quarter, with $1.2m from about 2,600 donors. The Senator Bernie Sanders has the second highest number of donors – almost 7,000 – and the third-highest total of $785,000. Sanders received almost 24,000 donations for $200 or less, more than any other candidate. Buttigieg comes in fourth overall, with $522,000, followed by the Senator Amy Klobuchar at $484,000. The Senator Elizabeth Warren, who pledged to hold big-ticket fundraisers has raised more than $393,000 from about 2,600 donors.

Harris, who leads in overall donations and donors in California, has received 20,000 small-dollar donations.

Numbers for the former vice-president Joe Biden, as well as for congressman Eric Swalwell, who represents a portion of Bay Area in the House, were unavailable because they entered the race after the first-quarter donation numbers were due.

“Many donors are in the ‘speed-dating’ phase,” Brokaw said. “They’re keeping their options open, and some of them are bundling for multiple candidates. As that field narrows, we will see some of that support consolidate around some of the candidates that are doing best. But I think until then, a lot of people are spreading their love and dollars around. I’m seeing donors who are doing a Cory Booker fundraiser one week, and Kamala fundraiser the next week and then Joe Biden.”

John Pitney Jr, an American politics professor at Claremont McKenna College, expressed some concern that this initial donor generosity may come back to haunt some of the lesser-known candidates in the race.

“It’s just the arithmetic: the cost of running a campaign and the available pool of money out there,” he said. “It’s a large pool, but it’s not unlimited. Joe Biden will be able to raise a lot money all of over the place. Kamala Harris will be able to raise a lot, and not just in California. But some of the other candidates will struggle. For the second-tier candidates trying to move into that top-tier, the competition with that vast range of contenders is going to be a problem.”

And California is an expensive state in which to campaign. “Campaigns will have to make a lot of strategic decisions,” Derse said. “Creativity is going to play a big part. Who is going to be able to get their message out here and make waves that isn’t going to cost them million and millions of dollars?”

An energy and excitement is humming around California that hasn’t been there before for previous presidential elections, Derse said. Several candidates have already committed to attending the California Democratic convention at the end of the month, she said, and for once, candidates are making a real effort to sway votes in this staunchly blue state.

“It’s kind of fun to be courted,” Derse said. “All these volunteers who have spent the last 12 years driving to Nevada and knocking on doors have a chance to talk about the issues that are in their communities and develop their own relationships with the candidates. It’s an empowering experience for Californians.”

Racism in Action: The Neo-Confederate Movement in American Politics

May 9, 2019

by Christian Jürs

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American….And that racism inclination still exists.  And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.” Ex-President Jimmy Carter and former Governor of Georgia.

The Neo-Confederate Movement

Robert Lewis Dabney, a 19th century theologian, is considered to be the most early advocate of a theological perspective of the Civil War. Dabney served during the Civil War as the chaplain to General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.  After the war, Dabney argued in books and lectures, based on scripture, that slavery was justified by the Bible and that “slavery was a necessary good for what he called the ‘depraved’ classes.” Sebesta and Hague wrote, “Dabney believed that the Bible legitimated slavery, and thus opposition to slavery was tantamount to rejecting Christianity.

Dabney’s post-Civil War writings established the theological cornerstone from which future Christian Reconstructionists and neo-Confederate theologians and strategists would expand their theological ideology and programmatic endeavors.  Dabney’s writings contain such concepts as: “governments were legitimate only if they derived from the will of God;” “condemned human equality and women’s rights… [and] opposed public schooling…justifying all his positions by Biblical interpretation;” “that modern science and development of the theory of evolution were ‘anti-theological’ and that amongst future generations this would result in a ‘nascent contempt for their father’s Bibles and irreparably damage the South’s ‘Christian households.’”

Three key theologians and theoreticians trace their own intellectual lineage back to Dabney—the late Rousas J. Rushdoony, founder of Christian Reconstructionism at the Chalcedon Foundation; Steven Wilkins, co-founder (with history professor Michael Hill) of the racist, secessionist League of the South; and Douglas Wilson, who heads the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, Credenda/Agenda, Canon Press, and New Saint Andrews College—all of them located in Moscow, Idaho.

Neo-Confederates believe that with the Civil War, Lincoln was able to expand the power of the federal government beyond constitutional limits, and that with the defeat of the Confederacy the ideals of states’ rights were defeated.  They believe that the 14th Amendment was illegally adopted.  To them this has resulted in the growth of federal government into a Leviathan, a very large monstrous beast in the bible….In this historical view big government, integration and Brown vs. Brown, gay rights, civil rights, feminism, minorities, taxes, FDR, and other issues can be viewed as the result of the American Republic jumping the tracks during the Civil War and being out of control.

The neo-Confederate doctrine that Congressman Ron Paul is associated with believes in the re-establishment of the Confederacy as a Bible-based republic opposed to all laws, rights, or behaviors that cannot be justified according to the Bible.  Its leading theologians have written justifications of slavery as Biblically-based and have described it as a benign social institution.  On theological grounds, neo-Confederates believe the Civil War was a struggle between orthodox Christianity and a heretical Union.  In the mid-twentieth century, many Christian nationalists became politically involved because they opposed the desegregation of white schools and attempts by the federal government to remove their tax exempt status from white private school created to escape the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to desegregate white-only schools.  The subsequent development of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the moral pressure this movement exerted on federal, state and local governments, as well as the reign of terror unleashed by the Ku Klux Klan with the implicit support of Southern governors, legislatures, congressmen, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, juries, white clergy, and public opinion all played a role in the development of the neo-Confederate movement.

In September 1957, President Eisenhower ordered federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to protect nine black children attempting to desegregate a white public school.  In September 1962, President Kennedy ordered federal marshals, Army, and National Guard troops to protect James Meredith as he attempted to enroll in the University of Mississippi.

Indicative of the Southern rage underlying the reign of terror, in May 1964, Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi White Knights, declared: “‘The events which will occur in Mississippi this summer may well determine the fate of Christian civilization for centuries to come.’”  This Ku Klux Klan statement is no different than statements from the League of the South that was founded in 1994. Opposition to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s was not limited to Kirk and the neo-Confederate movement and the John Birch Society. William F. Buckley and the National Review defended the white supremacist

In 1980, right after the Republican Party’s national convention, Ronald Reagan spoke at the fairgrounds to an audience of over thirty thousand, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, “‘I believe in states’ rights.’” Reagan was following in the footsteps of Barry Goldwater in 1964 who carried only his home state of Arizona and five states in the Deep South. This became a strong indication of future white voting patterns.  One should also consider George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign as the American Independent Party candidate; former Klan leader David Duke’s multiple campaigns as a Democrat, Republican, and Populist; and, Patrick Buchanan’s presidential run in 1992 in the Republican primaries that expropriated Duke’s issues. Between 1954 and 2004 the Republican gains in the House of Representatives was a reversal of the dominance the Democrats had in 1954.

The Democrats had net gains outside the South, but more than all of the Democratic net loss to the Republicans came from the Southern switch. Basicially the racial issue became essential to the ability of conservatives to win elections in spite of economic policies that favored a minority over the majority. It is important to remember that the “New Right” movement that brought Reagan to victory had been deeply involved in opposition to civil rights.  Max Blumenthal reported that after the 1954 Supreme Court decision the late Jerry Falwell “posited segregation as a biblical mandate” and worked with the FBI to try and smear Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as a “communist subversive,” the same charge raised by the John Birch Society. King’s subsequent assassination has never been satisfactorily solved and the accepted stories that James Earl Ray was, like Oswald, the lone assassin does not stand up to objective analysis.  In 1966, Falwell started the Lynchburg Christian Academy, “‘a private school for white students.’”  And, as Michelle Goldberg noted, “what spurred them [the Christian Right] into action was the IRS’s attempt to revoke the tax-exempt status of whites-only Christian schools, schools that had been created specifically to evade desegregation.”

Steven Wilkins, co-founder of the racist, secessionist League of the South, is “arguably the most prominent member of the neo-Confederate clergy,” and a “resident instructor at the R.L. Dabney Center for Theological Studies” and “writes for almost all the religious publications and groups that advance neo-Confederate and Christian nationalist ideas. Another follower of Dabney is theologian Douglas Wilson.  For more than 30 years Wilson has run a mini-Christian Reconstructionist empire in Idaho that includes the New Saint Andrews College; Logos School, a private Christian academy; the Association of Classical and Christian Schools that certifies such private academies; Canon Press; the journal Credenda/Agenda; and, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals.  Both Wilkins and Wilson, writing separately or jointly, are major proponents of the theological war thesis and defend “slavery as Biblically justified.”

Writing in 2002, Sebesta and Hague reported that the “Sons of Confederate Veterans heritage organization, Christian Reconstructionist bodies such as the Chalcedon Foundation, and the League of the South now generally accept the theological war thesis….Collaboration between the Christian Reconstructionist movement and the League of the South has also increased, evidencing a growing overlap in the historical, political and theological perspectives of participants in both organizations.

The practical effect of this conflation of nationalisms is an opposition to the following, according to Michael Hill, co-founder of the League of the South: loss of American sovereignty to foreign institutions; “‘radical egalitarianism; feminism; sodomite rights; Third World immigration; gun control; hate crime legislation (almost meant to be used against whites); judicial tyranny; burdensome taxation; multiculturalism and diversity (code words for anti-white, anti-Christian bigotry); the universal rights of man; and other manifestations of a new brand of politically-correct totalitarianism.’”

The other major neo-Confederate organization of interest here is the radical libertarian Ludwig von Meises Institute headed by Lew Rockwell, a long-time friend and political-business partner of Ron Paul.  In 2003, the Institute and the associated LewRockwell.com spearheaded a protest against the erection of a President Abraham Lincoln statue in Richmond, Virginia, while holding a “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  LewRockwell.com also hosts a “King Lincoln” archive of articles by leading neo-Confederate writers. The Institute also serves as an adjunct home to neo-Confederate professors Thomas D. Lorenzo, Donald Livingston, and Clyde Wilson.  Lorenzo, a professor of economics, has written that the Civil War was fought to end the right of secession, not to end slavery.  He was the star of the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  Livingston, a professor of philosophy who specializes on David Hume, he was the first director of the League of the South’s Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History.  Livingston’s writings have strongly defended the right of the pre-Civil War South to  secede and has written that Lincoln started the Civil War in order to establish a centralized state. He also was present at the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  Lastly, Clyde Wilson is the “biggest intellectual heavyweight associated with the neo-Confederate scene.” Wilson specializes in the writings of John C. Calhoun, “the preeminent states’ rights theorists before the Civil War.” Wilson was also a founding member of the League of the South.

Libertarianism—Born Racist

To sort through these conflicting claims on the centrality of race to the Tea Party movement it is necessary to cover the following salient issues raised by some of the writers.  It is clearly evident that the conservative movements in the United Sates have never accepted integration in any of its manifestations and it is also true that the Tea Party movement is forcing the conservative movement in the United States towards the ultra-right and its strong racial sentiments. To what degree has Ron Paul adopted the Southern Strategy of abandoning the N-word racism and adopting the abstract and race-neutral code words and public policies that still amount to a defense of states’ rights and a defense of white supremacy or white nationalism?  To what degree is libertarian economic philosophy inherently racist?  And, finally, is this inherent racism the reason why libertarian writers such as but not limited to David Weigel and Glenn Greenwald still blandly refer to Ron Paul as a “libertarian” and a champion of “individual liberty” but prefer not to discuss his support for a white Christian nationalist and inherently anti-black agenda?

It is clearly evident that twentieth century libertarianism was born racist and is inherently racist.

That conclusion rests on the authority of none other than the late Murray N. Rothbard, co-founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute along with Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul.  The Institute is not only one of the main neo-Confederate think tanks—one of the key components of the Ron Paul network—but also the primary institution supporting Ron Paul and his Tea Party movement.  The Institute is also the home of the Christian Reconstruction economic libertarian Gary North, who is also the informal strategic adviser to Ron Paul.

According to Rothbard, this libertarian coalition was hard-core regressive: “A few libertarian extremists wanted to go all the way back to the Articles of Confederation, but the great bulk of the right was committed to the United States Constitution—but a Constitution construed so ‘strictly’ as to outlaw much twentieth-century legislation, certainly on the federal level” (emphasis in original).

Edward Sebesta, in an early article on “The Neo-Confederate Movement,” established that Russell Kirk, “perhaps the most prominent conservative of the 20th century,” “promoted the values of southern conservatism and ultimately the neo-Confederates.” Kirk was an early supporter of the Southern Partisan, a leading neo-Confederate journal that attracted conservative writers from across the country, not just the South.  Kirk’s considerable prestige, prodigious writings, and intellectual support ensured that “the values of southern conservatism and admiration for the Confederacy, became accepted and not peripheral, not sectional for conservatism.”

.  William Voegeli in article on “Civil Rights & the Conservative Movement” noted that Buckley in 1957 wrote an article “Why the South Must Prevail” in which Buckley asked “‘whether the White community in the South is entitled to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically?….The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.’”

Voegeli noted that Buckley “regularly” expressed “the asymmetry of his sympathies—genuine concern for Southern whites beset by integrationists, but more often than not, perfunctory concern for Southern blacks beset by bigots.” Buckley’s views resembled “that of the ‘Southern Manifesto’ signed in 1956 by nearly every senator and representative from the South” which accused the Brown v. Board decision of ‘destroying the amicable relations between white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races.  It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding.’”33

The Southern Manifesto was more than a manifesto.  Part of the white supremacist reaction was a reign of terror against civil rights workers and any African American who could be made an example of for disturbing the apartheid system.  The other reaction was the use of Tenth Amendment (states’ rights) to nullify the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling.  For example, the Florida and Georgia legislatures passed laws that with slightly different wording stated, “‘decisions and orders of the Supreme Court of the United States denying the individual sovereign States the power to enact laws relating to the separation of the races in public institutions of a state are null, void and of no force or effect.’”

Conservative opposition to all civil rights legislation continued with Goldwater’s argument derived from legal advice given by his legal advisers William Rehnquist and Robert Bork that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “‘a grave threat’ to a constitutional republic in which fifty sovereign states have reserved to themselves and to the people those powers not specifically granted to the central or Federal government.’” With all due respect to Rehnquist and Bork, the Ninth Amendment gave all unenumerated rights to the people and none of these unenumerated rights to the states.

Conservative and Republican opposition to all civil rights legislation and the defense of states’ rights continued under the GOP’s Southern Strategy—a strategy the Republicans have never repudiated and continue to follow.  According to the late Lee Atwater, the essence of the strategy was to conceptually shift the focus away from overt and explicit expressions of racism (the N-word) to “say[ing] stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”  When candidate Reagan went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and said “‘I believe in states’ rights’” that Reagan “was elbow deep in the same race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.”  As Bob Herbert noted, “When Democrats revolted against racism, the G.O.P. rallied to its banner.”

Like the Southern Manifesto which claimed that relations between the races during the Jim Crow era were “amicable” and based on “friendship and understanding,” the neo-Confederate movement sought to portrays racial relations under slavery as highly favorable to the slaves and a burden to the slave masters.  A book written in the 1950s claimed, “‘No, the Southern planter’s work was civilizing the poor, deluded Negro—the greatest missionary work known to history….The institution of slavery as it was in the South, so far from degrading the Negro was fast elevating him above his nature and his race.”

Steven Wilkins and Douglas Wilson co-authored a 1996 book, Southern Slavery: As It Was, which claimed that “‘Slavery as it existed in the South…was a relationship based upon mutual affection and harmony….There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.’”

In addition to the Ludwig von Mises Institute, other leading neo-Confederate organizations include the Council of Conservative Citizens, Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Rockford Institute in Illinois.  There are many others.

It is the core belief of the League of the South, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation that the Civil War “was a theological war over the future of American religiosity fought between devout Confederate and heretical Union states” and that the Confederate “battle flag and other Confederate icons are Christian symbols and the assertion that opposition to them equates to a rejection of Christianity

Central to the concept of “banal white nationalism” is the much larger concept of the neo-Confederacy which has as its basic principles, among others: states’ rights, local control of schooling, Christian traditions, Confederate symbols, Southerners are persecuted as racists, a natural social hierarchy, white men being dominant in a social hierarchy stratified by race and gender, a disdain for gays and lesbians, and an opposition to modern democracy.  Much of this is no longer unique to neo-Confederates, but extends to Christian nationalists, variants of libertarianism, and other white nationalists.  Moreover, there are institutional linkages across domains such as Christian nationalist and libertarian organizations and white nationalist organizations.

It should therefore come as no surprise that there are two main flags associated with the Tea Party movement—the Confederate flag symbolizing slavery and treason (the neo-Confederates would prefer secession) and the Gadsden flag symbolizing patriotic revolution

That no Republican or Tea Party movement leaderships vociferously opposed the presence of the Confederate flag, or Nazi symbols or references, is indicative of just how pervasive this neo-Confederate mindset, banal white nationalism, and anti-Semitism are in the larger conservative movement.

Also noted is the proliferation of Nazi symbolism and rhetoric associated with the Tea Party movement.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

May 9, 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. 102

Date: Tuesday, September 2, 1997

Commenced:  12:56 PM CST

Concluded: 1:20 PM CST

GD: Hello. What’s up today?

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. Another doctor’s visit scheduled for this PM. A damned nuisance but Emily insists. I am not feeling all that well, what with my bad hip and a tendency to misjudge my feet and then falling. I should use a cane in the house but I don’t feel I am ready for a walker yet. Other than those small things, I’m fine. And yourself?

GD: I am also fine. However, dealing with your feeble-minded scumbag friends is getting to be quite a bore. Jesus, what a pack of morons and they have many allies. People like Kimmel who is outraged that a terrible person like myself is interacting with you. He thinks you’re getting gaga and might spill terrible things to me. And, of course, I am a terrible, disrespectful person who, God knows, might blow the gaff on something horrible. And poor Bill wants to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. When he gets going, it sounds like a Kirby vacuum cleaner what with all the suction.

RTC: Well, the Company people do not like you and yes, they dragged the FBI into it for the reason they are not supposed to operate inside this country. Of course we did, and do, but that is not important. You see, you are considered, as Kimmel says, a loose cannon. No one questions your intelligence, although they publicly question your sanity and character, but they can’t control you. The drill is that these people have gotten to believe that they, and they alone, have the control and the ability to control and that the rest of the peonage are stupid sheep who pay their salaries. And then you come along and rattle their cages. And they try to intimidate you and then realize that doing this only stimulates you to more noise-making so they back off and think of other ways to get at you and shut you up. They also believe that you are in possession or at least control of certain dangerous documents that could cause havoc in certain circles if you ever even hinted at them so they have to make sure you don’t commit unsocial acts. And by unsocial acts I mean shake their trees. Of course they would never just sit down and talk to you like the Army did. We used to do this in the early days but now that we basically control the media and our foreign policy, we have decided that we are far too omniscient and important to descend to actually communicating with our social inferiors. So they turn their pimps and whores loose on you and try to besmirch you to the point where no one will believe you.

GD: They could have one of these sycophants sue me, couldn’t they” Tie me up in endless and devastatingly expensive court litigation? Shut me up that way?

RTC: No, Gregory, because that would codify their fears and might, horrible to contemplate, draw public attention to you. No, you have carte blanche to do as you like and they won’t interfere for fear of the publicity. But, of course, by getting into the Kennedy killing, you will be taking on a whole hog-pen of functioning idiots and fanatics. The Company or Phoebe won’t have to do a thing. Hell, we control some of them…the Farrell woman is ours…and if they attack you, why our hands are clean. I mean you will have far more trouble from these creeps that you ever would have with us. Some self-important twit has a pet theory and supporters thereof and if you dare to publish a word that questions their invented idiot shit, why they will come down upon you, screaming like a drag queen and swinging their purses. Hell, Gregory, if I were you, I would be more concerned about the Jews and the Kennedy nuts than us.

GD: The Jews?

RTC: Oh yes, the vulgar Hebrews again. See, if it gets out and accepted that our government hired all the Nazis they did, why the Jews will have to start wailing and screeching about how dare we do this to them. To them is the operative word here. I mean, how dare you contradict the needs of a Jew? Why, these are God’s very own people, aren’t they? God’s chosen ones?

GD: Well, if you believe the silly holocaust stories, one would have to believe that God chose the Jews to stand in line for the showers.

RTC: (Laughter) Ah yes, the famous showers. But you see the fact that Jews will come after you. Some because only they can moan about their fates and many  more to suck up to officialdom, an officialdom that for now at least is dominated by white Christians. It just gets worse..

GD: Well, when Kennedy was running, the Protestants swore that if he got elected, the Pope would move into the White House, or at least Cardinal Cushing. Of course this did not happen but what does the Jew hope for? Their beach blanket flag flying over the Capitol?

RTC: Certainly. They work their way into the system and rise up quickly, gaining influence as they go because they are very clever and our stupid ones get to rely on their intelligence.

GD: Poisoned intelligence. Onwards and upwards. Jesus, if the Jewish community and the art world…actually the same…ever found out what I got from Mueller before he died, and especially what I am doing with it, they would get Congress to pass a law against me.

RTC: What’s that? Something new here?

GD: Yes, actually so. See, I don’t know if you are aware of it but during the war, the Germans looted billions of dollars of art from all over Europe. Hitler wanted to set up a huge museum complex in his home town of Linz and all the Nazi brass fall all over each other to gain the Fuehrer’s interest by stealing from museums, private collections, churches and so on. Billions. And after the war, people like Tommy Howe and others went around to the vast, underground caves and brought out tons of loot. The more important pieces, or the best known, were returned. At least most of them were. I know of a certain Raphael that old Frank brought back from Poland that the Gestapo bagged and Muller had hanging up in his elegant pad in Piedmont. That’s in a safe place and the Polacks will never get it back, believe me. Anyway, Mueller started selling some of this loot that your people took away from the Army after ’48. Did you know about this supplementary income?

RTC: Yes. Go on, please do.

GD: Well, Heini set up a little organization and began to peddle some of this, as I said for cash for your off the books activities. Naturally, he kept his share in front. He had a large garage in Piedmont stuffed full of it. I mentioned the Jews because most of the post-Impressionist pieces came from Jewish collectors. Of course, some of the older pieces too. I saw the Rothschild collection of gold coins before Heini sold it off and I must say it was delightful to look at. And some Russian treasures looted form Tsarskoe Selo…I mean the old Imperial Russian complex south of St. Petersburg….

RTC: In Florida?

GD: Now, Robert, not in Florida, in Russia. The Communists changed it to Pushkin…Let me go on. And items from monasteries all over Europe, especially from Italy after Mussolini fell from power in ’43 and the Germans occupied the country. Von Senger did rescue the very valuable,,. priceless…library from Monte Cassino before Roosevelt ordered it bombed to powder. But a lot of other art loot went to Germany indeed. Anyway, Heini found out I was an art-restorer at one time and knew a good deal about the subject so we got along just fine although I must admit when he took me to his storage facility and turned on the lights, I very nearly had an involuntary bowel movement on the spot. If the Russians, the Italians, the French or the Poles ever saw what was there, there would be a sound like an approaching freight train. Jesus, the uproar, the demands, and on the part of the Jews, wails of possessive anguish. Everyone else would fade away before their wrath…and their demands. No, when Heini died, I made sure the storage warehouse was cleared out and secured elsewhere. You see, his second wife knew nothing about any of this because he didn’t burden her with the knowledge. And if she found it, naturally, she would try to sell it and then these people would come down, howling with rage and armed with legal papers. We couldn’t have that so I executed Heini’s very firm request. Do you know how Mexicans keep the flies out of their bedrooms, Robert?

RTC: Not offhanded but I am certain you will enlighten me.

GD: Oh, always, Robert. Simple. They shit in the hall.

RTC: (Laughter) So very incorrect.

GD: Ah, but so accurate, Robert. In the hall. In huge, festering heaps. Fly nurseries. So we removed what attracts flies and other vermin. Anyway, the post-Impressionist junk started getting sold off, discreetly here and there. Of course the easily recognizable pieces are a different matter although a great amount of things from Catherine the Greats’ palace were relatively easy to peddle, I wouldn’t want to be too public about things from Warsaw or Rome, or even Florence.

And art is entirely subjective. The picture I spoke of earlier by Raphael is a portrait of someone who looks like a raging faggot dressed in a loose blouse and looking for all the world as if he just left a Castro Street bathhouse after an evening of bumbusting. But effeminate men were the ideal when Raphael worked. Now, we have Jackson Pollock who used to spread art canvas on his garage floor, climb up a ladder and toss the contents of various cans of paint he scrounged from the neighbors at yard sales or from the public dump, toss them here and there while giggling to himself. Then, when the enamels dried, he would cut the canvas into sections, mount the sections on stretchers, stick idiot names on each and sell them to the pea brained who considered them art. Now that Pollock is dead, the prices are rising beyond all belief. I personally think Claude Monet and Singer Sargent were the last really good artists of our time. Nowadays, some orange-haired pimp splatters paint all over a canvas and the tasteless rich rush to buy it. It’s better for the dealers if the artist is dead. Probably if he died of an overdose of heroin in a male bathhouse. It takes about a century to winnow the wheat from the chaff and then the trashy art and equally trashy writing falls away and a few beautiful works emerge. Of course, by that time, the idiots are all mooning after someone who plops his hairy ass down on a pallet and then sits on a canvas. Moon over Miami, which, along with Skokie and most of Westchester County is where all the trash ends up. Ah, one must be careful, Robert. For example, I know about a certain cartouche from the Amber Room. Yes. The Prussian state eagle in amber. Heini liked it and so do I.

RTC: Do?

GD: We don’t need to go into semantics. We’ve been going into Semitics all morning here.

RTC: (Laughter) Yes, absolutely. And if they get it into their heads that sacred Jewish treasures are in the hands of the unbelieving, and worse, these treasures are actually worth money, my God, you will have mobs of livid Hebrews chanting in front of your house.

GD: That’s what fire hoses are for, Robert. To put out fires and also to clean off trash from the sidewalks. Anyway, I suppose you don’t know it but I have bank accounts all over Europe and very nice properties in Germany, France and Italy and all filled with lovely pieces. Oh, if I had to depend on selling books, none of that would have happened. And I do enjoy occasional forays into the world of fine art. I really ought to say successful forays because I always return from the hunt with a full game bag or, in my case, more money to enjoy in my retirement years.

RTC: But supposing they are listening to this? Couldn’t someone go to banks and ask about your accounts?

GD: Robert, I had ten different passports and more passable identities than you could guess at. The Foggybottom freaks tried for years to find out whatever negative they could about me so they could nail me and they had to give up. As an aside, one of their investigators started in on me with all the smarmy subtlety of a fart in a spacesuit and I lured him to a site  loaded with illegal products and the local authorities, whom I tipped off, nailed him as he was carrying what he thought was devastating  evidence against me in sealed boxes, but actually was something entirely different, out to his car. He screamed for help but it didn’t do him any good. Lost his job, his house and got four years in the can for it. Oh my, did I laugh at that one.

RTC: Gregory, naughty boy. Ah, the State people are such  mindless assholes anyway.

GD: I sent him sympathy cards from time to time. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. What? Fuck them all, Robert. And I would burn the paintings before I gave any of them back, believe it.

RTC: I would tend to believe that, Gregory. I should imagine you are entirely capable of such an act. What they don’t know, they can do nothing about, right?

GD: Oh yes, right. And you can visit me any time at my nice villa in Italy. Partially paid for, one might guess, with the profits from selling looted Italian art. Oh, and Russian and Polish as well. And Heini kept meticulous records which I have and if your people, or anyone else, ever tried to push me, records I would gleefully publish. My, oh my, the American museums, the private collections, the major art auction houses  and so on, would be so wonderfully compromised. I love it…

RTC: Yes, but they don’t

GD: No, Robert they really don’t. Most of them are so stupid they couldn’t find either end of themselves in a dark room. You doubt me? Look at some of their children. Either end, Robert, either end. These punks always have to buy new pants because they keep wearing out the knees crawling around on the floor like Mongoloids, while in pursuit of the contents of the cat’s latrine.

RTC: Now, now, you might be speaking about my people.

GD: The ones who harassed you? The ones who harassed Angleton? Those friends? The ones who come to see you and support you now that you have retired? Those friends, Robert?

RTC: Ah, well you have a point there, Gregory. And to use one of your crude expressions, fuck them all. And if they ever find out that I have had my Greg ship off sizzling papers to you, they would certainly renew old friendships.

GD: Wouldn’t you enjoy having so many old friends crowding into your house, Robert? They would shit on the floors and steal anything of value and after molesting your wife and the cat. No, you should follow in my footsteps and leave sleeping dogs, or pigs, lie, Right?

GD: Yes, I reluctantly have to agree with you. Could I have a nice Rembrandt for my living room, Gregory? If and when I die, Emily could have a useful farewell gift.

GD: There were three of his and they have all been sold. How about a Picasso? There are dozens of those. I hate to have to look at Picasso. Or Klee. Or Miro. ‘Oh, Myron! Buy the Picasso! It matches the drapes!’

RTC: (Laughter) Where is the taste with these people?

GD: Up the ass, Robert, up the ass. Along with that wondrous zucchini Aunt Bella shoplifted from the supermarket last month. And always remember, Robert, that Malthus was right and when we run out of food and water, we can start eating each other. I believe the French perfected this technique some time ago but then both parties lived to tell about it. Given some of the fatties I’ve seen waddling around town here, if famine ever strikes, they had best barricade themselves in the root cellar with a shotgun because some of these jiggling lovelies would feed a family of six for a month. Well, it will be back to the caves for the survivors and what will a Picasso be worth then?

(.Concluded at 1:20 PM CST)

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

 

Explainer: Can Trump use executive privilege to withhold full Mueller report?

May 8, 2019

by Jan Wolfe

Reuters

Reuters) – The White House on Wednesday invoked executive privilege to block the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report as a U.S. House panel met to vote on holding the U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress for withholding the document.

The White House’s move escalated a constitutional clash between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican President Donald Trump over its powers to investigate him, his administration, his family and his business interests.

Trump is stonewalling Congress on multiple probes, blasting the investigations as “presidential harassment.” In an unusual move, he is even suing to stop the release of some materials that lawmakers want.

Here is how executive privilege works and how useful it might be to Trump as the investigations close in on him.

Executive privilege is a legal principle that allows the president to refuse to comply with demands for information like congressional subpoenas.

The doctrine is generally used to keep private the nature of conversations the president has with advisers, or internal discussions among executive branch officials.

The idea is that the White House operates more effectively if the president and his aides can have private, candid conversations, without worrying about public scrutiny.

WHERE DOES THE DOCTRINE COME FROM?

Executive privilege is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, the foundation of U.S. law.

But the Supreme Court has said that it is “fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.”

Its first use may have been President Thomas Jefferson’s refusal to provide evidence in a treason prosecution against his former vice president, Aaron Burr. In the end, a judge ordered Jefferson to produce the evidence, which Burr said would exonerate him, and Burr was acquitted.

The term “executive privilege” was not used until the 1950s. The doctrine’s contours were unclear until a 1974 Supreme Court case. In U.S. v. Nixon, President Richard Nixon was ordered to deliver tapes and other subpoenaed materials to a federal judge for review. The justices ruled 9-0 that a president’s right to privacy in his communications must be balanced against Congress’ need to investigate and oversee the executive branch.

U.S. v. Nixon is also widely understood to mean that executive privilege cannot be used to cover up wrongdoing. That view was endorsed by current U.S. Attorney General William Barr during his Senate confirmation hearing.

One lesson of U.S. v. Nixon is that an executive privilege claim is particularly weak when Congress has invoked its power to remove a president from office through impeachment, said Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri.

In the impeachment context, “virtually no part of a president’s duties or behavior is exempt from scrutiny,” Bowman said.

Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all invoked executive privilege in response to congressional investigations. But compared with previous presidents, recent ones have hesitated to claim executive privilege, in part because of how Nixon used it, said Mitchel Sollenberger, a politics professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“Once you do an executive privilege claim, it becomes a politically charged event,” Sollenberger said. “The media sees that, and it flares up quickly.”

EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE AND THE UNREDACTED MUELLER REPORT

There are so few court decisions on executive privilege that it is hard to be certain if Trump can withhold the unredacted report and underlying evidence, said Ross Garber, a lawyer in Washington who focuses on political investigations.

But to prevail in court the White House will eventually need to be more specific about which documents are protected by executive privilege and why, Garber said.

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr encouraged the president to make a “preliminary, protective assertion of executive privilege designed to ensure your ability to make a final assertion, if necessary, over some or all of the subpoenaed materials.”

Some legal experts have argued that Trump long ago forfeited, or waived, his right to make an executive privilege claim over conversations described by witnesses in Mueller’s investigation and related documents.

Much like the attorney-client privilege, executive privilege is intended to keep conversations private. Generally speaking, once third parties are told about such conversations, they are no longer secret and the privilege has been waived, legal experts said.

Other lawyers have argued that making witnesses available for interviews with law enforcement officials is not a total waiver of executive privilege. They said Trump could still invoke the doctrine to limit disclosure of documents relating to the interviews.

HOW DOES CONGRESS COMBAT AN EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE CLAIM?

If documents are not produced, Congress can vote to hold administration officials “in contempt of Congress” and then go to court and ask a judge to issue an order forcing them to comply. The judge would then decide the merits of an executive privilege claim.

The House Judiciary Committee was slated to vote on Wednesday on a resolution recommending the full House find Barr in contempt of Congress.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Washington; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis

 

Trump’s antics over Iran have endangered us all. The stakes are now lethally high

In withdrawing from the nuclear deal, the US – not the vile Iranian regime – is the rogue state risking global security

May 8, 2019

by Jonathan Freedland

The Guardian

Such is the carnival of the Trump presidency, it can be tempting – especially for those outside the US – to view it as spectacle, a long-running reality TV show that veers between The Apprentice and House of Cards. But every now and then comes a reminder that, for all the cartoonish absurdity of the central character, the Trump administration is all too real, that its actions matter and that the stakes are lethally high.

A fresh and urgent reminder of that has come today with Iran’s declaration that it will no longer fully comply with the nuclear deal it reached with the US and Europe in 2015, by which Tehran agreed to a 15-year pause on its nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions. In a televised address this morning – exactly one year after Trump withdrew the United States from the deal – Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, announced a series of moves that would inch the country closer to acquiring the ability to produce nuclear weapons, moves that would only be averted if Europe defied Trump and allowed Iran once again to sell its oil and have access to the international banking system. For the most severe of these steps, Rouhani gave the Europeans 60 days to make up their minds: either resume trade or watch Tehran resume its nuclear efforts.

There’s no mystery why this has come about, even if cause and effect are separated by 12 months. On 8 May last year, Trump dismissed the advice of his own military and security chiefs and broke from what he called the “worst deal in history”. The likeliest explanation is that Trump disliked the deal not because it was ineffective – on the contrary, international inspectors were adamant that Iran was complying to the letter – but simply because it represented the single biggest foreign-policy achievement of his predecessor. Just as Trump has been determined to unravel Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms, so he has been bent on dismantling his international legacy. Laughable though it may seem, Trump’s envy and resentment of Obama and his reputation may well be the key driver of this major geopolitical shift.

The consequences have been direct. Fearing secondary sanctions imposed by the US – heavy US fines on any company that does business with Iran – European firms have pulled out of the country, choking an already ailing Iranian economy. That has led Iranians to demand their leaders hit back. The only surprise of today’s move is that it took so long, as Tehran waited a full year to respond to Trump – all the while continuing to obey the terms of the nuclear deal.

Make no mistake, none of this is to suggest Iran is some paragon. The opposite is true. Along with the Kremlin, the Tehran regime is a blood-soaked ally of Bashar al-Assad, shoring up his murderous rule in Syria. It is a prime funder of terror groups in the region. And its record in crushing domestic dissent is brutal and documented. (An Iranian man was hanged for the crime of having gay sex just a few months ago.)

The regime’s behaviour is abhorrent now and it was abhorrent when the nuclear deal was signed. That agreement did not make any false promises of making it better. All it pledged was to halt the country’s nuclear ambitions for the next decade and a half, to buy some time and open up the space for the kind of cooperation that might make change possible. Like it or not, Iran has kept its side of the bargain, which related solely to its nuclear conduct. By withdrawing from it without cause, it was Trump’s Washington, not Tehran, that behaved like a rogue state.

Now the Europeans face a painful dilemma. If they buckle to Trump, they will watch that limited but valuable 2015 agreement collapse. If they defy him, some of their biggest companies will face crippling fines. They have spent much of the last year trying to construct a mechanism to get around those US sanctions, without success. Perhaps now they will approach the task with more urgency, though it’s not as if European governments don’t have plenty on their plates. (This, incidentally, was an issue in which pre-Brexit Britain was centrally engaged: now, it seems, the country is too distracted and too diminished to have much diplomatic impact.)

Either way, what the Europeans and the rest of the world can no longer deny is that Trump’s antics – his resentments, his decisions based on impulse, rather than evidence, his constant gestures to the Fox News base – may play out like gripping TV drama. But they have consequences in the real world, and some of them are grave.

 

Mark Zuckerberg has to go. Here are 25 reasons why

It’s time we dethrone Mark Zuckerberg and prove that Silicon Valley kings are not gods

May 8, 2019

by Evan Greer

The Guardian

Everyone wants there to be a silver bullet. A single policy solution that will “fix” Facebook, restore our privacy, and clean up the tech industry. There isn’t one.

Hefty fines, civil rights audits, antitrust, data privacy legislation, shareholder activism and employee organizing can all play a role. But we don’t just need regulation, we need a revolution – a massive cultural shift in how we think about our personal information and the companies that profit by collecting it.

In this gilded age of big tech, Silicon Valley’s royal families have sat in their castles, amassing treasure mined from a mountain of our data, seemingly untouchable as they weather scandal after scandal while they offer empty apologies and their power grows.

It’s time we prove that these kings are not gods. It’s time we dethrone Mark Zuckerberg.

What better way to draw a line in the sand and demand real change? What better way to strike fear in the hearts of the tech industry’s oligarchs, and make it clear that internet users will no longer tolerate a status quo where our data is harvested and used to manipulate us and invade our most private moments.

Under Mark Zuckerberg’s failed leadership, Facebook has become one of the most loathed institutions on the planet. The company was just slapped with a record breaking fine. Experts predict its profits will drop for the first time in years.

Mark Zuckerberg has had a decade’s worth of second chances to address the underlying disease, but he has shown time and time again he has no real intention of doing so. Need another reason he should step down? Here’s 25:

1

Security breach: A breach of Facebook’s computer systems left the personal information of 30 million users exposed – searches, locations, names, phone numbers, and more. It was the largest breach in the company’s history.

2

Unencrypted passwords: Hundreds of millions of Facebook and Instagram users had their passwords stored in plain text for years, some going back to 2012. Passwords were unencrypted and easily searchable by Facebook employees.

3

Two-factor phone numbers used for ads: Phone numbers given to Facebook for increased security via two-factor authentication were repurposed for targeted ads by the company. To opt out, users would have to turn off phone number-based two-factor authentication.

4

Psychological experimentation: Facebook admitted it ran experiments on hundreds of thousands of users to test how emotions spread on the site. Users, uninformed, had their news feeds manipulated by Facebook researchers to see more negative or positive posts to study whether users reacted by posting more negative or positive content.

5

Patriot Act hire: This month, Facebook hired Jennifer Newstead as its new general counsel, a Trump-appointed lawyer who co-wrote the PatriotT Act, the Bush-era law that allowed for warrantless wiretapping among other government mass surveillance abuses. Facebook praised the hire.

6

Racist ads: Facebook allowed users to purchase ads targeted towards racist interests like “Jew hater” or “Nazi Party”, profiting from the sale of ads to users with those interests.

7

Facebook allowed employers to exclude women from ads: Facebook allowed employers to target ads exclusively to men, violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes discrimination based on sex illegal.

8

Secretly lobbying for surveillance expanding the “cybersecurity” bill Cisa, while claiming they weren’t.

9

Lobbying against privacy legislation in California and federally: Despite Zuckerberg’s opinion piece in the Washington Post publicly calling for privacy regulation, Facebook’s public policy team lobbied to prevent such legislation from passing in California.

10

Tracking non-users: If a website embeds Facebook features like the “like” button even if the visitor doesn’t have a Facebook account, Facebook is tracking you and shares your demographic data with advertisers.

11

Data deals with device makers: Facebook gave preferential access to user information to over 60 device makers, like Apple and Samsung. These deals are currently under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors.

12

Smear consultants: In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, instead of working substantively on internal reforms, Facebook’s policy team went on an aggressive public relations campaign, hiring a right-leaning public affairs group to smear, among others, the left-leaning billionaire George Soros.

13

Mark Zuckerberg discussed selling user data, even after claiming that he wouldn’t, and used Facebook’s data trove to “punish rivals and help friends”.

14

Recording call logs of Android users: Facebook got caught collecting SMS and call metadata from users of their app on Android phones, sweeping up names, phone numbers, and the lengths of each call made or received.

15

Onavo spying: Facebook for years used an app called Onavo to learn how long users spent on competing apps and what websites they visited, using this information to for instance buy WhatsApp for $19bn. Ultimately, Apple booted Onavo out of the app store.

16

Lax privacy exposed 6 million accounts. A White Hat hacker in 2013 found a bug exposing the email addresses and phone numbers of 6 million Facebook users to anyone who had some connection to the person or knew at least one piece of their contact information.

17

Beacon: One of Facebook’s early advertising programs, Beacon, automatically notified friends when users bought something, without obtaining prior consent. Zuckerberg ended up apologizing and giving users the option to opt out.

18

A bug exposed photos from 6.8 million users. The bug allowed third-party developers the ability to access users’ photos, including those that had been uploaded to Facebook’s servers but not publicly shared on any of its services

19

Manufacturing user consent: In 2010 while rolling out granular privacy control features, Facebook baked in a new default that resulted in users sharing updates publicly. The new feature pushed users to share their status as well as pictures publicly (by default) instead of sharing with friends only. By 2011, Facebook would be forced to sign settlements with the FTC and the European Union’s privacy office promising not to change users’ privacy settings without proper notice and opt-in, and Zuckerberg was forced to apologize.

20

Tracking unposted content: Back in 2013, a study revealed that Facebook was tracking metadata on statuses and posts even if users decided not to submit those posts.

21

Deleting Palestinian accounts: Facebook admitted in 2016 that it was following the direction of the American and Israeli governments and deleting accounts of Palestinians for “incitement” – a standard it did not hold for accounts from other nationalities.

22

Special access for tech giants: Facebook gave certain business partners like Amazon and Netflix preferential access to user data, allowing the tech giants to skirt the company’s usual privacy rules in order to grow its user base and attract more advertising revenue.

23

Enlisting Koch-funded climate deniers as factcheckers in their effort to combat “fake news”.

24

Shutting down activist pages: In its zeal to combat Russian trolls on its site, Facebook accidentally shut down the page of a grassroots activist group in Washington DC as it planned a counter-protest to a white nationalist rally in the capital.

25

Sharing user data with advertisers: A privacy loophole discovered in 2010 allowed advertisers to gain access to individual users’ information, like names, ages, hometowns and jobs. Facebook shut down the loophole quickly after being exposed.

Each revelation in this long and fraught list has been followed by promises, cosmetic fixes and apology tours. But Zuckerberg personally, and the ruling caste at Facebook generally, has shown no appetite for real reform – despite what they say on TV or in front of Congress.

Facebook’s current business model is fundamentally at odds with democracy and basic human rights. A company that claims to bring people together has been poisoned by a maniacal focus on mass collection of user data to satisfy advertisers. Hundreds of millions have had their privacy violated and their trust betrayed.

Enough is enough. Mark Zuckerberg must go. For the longest time we’ve accepted as scripture that Silicon Valley founders had a divine right to lead the most powerful companies ever created. We need to burst this cultish idea. Shareholders realize the problem is at the top. They’re lining up to Vote “No on Zuckerberg” at the upcoming AGM. However, Zuckerberg has structured the company so that he has more voting power than all other shareholders combined. It’s clear we need more than shareholders to make this happen. We need an internet-wide vote of no confidence. Zuckerberg’s resignation would send a message to tech workers, government regulators, advocates, and all who hold Silicon Valley accountable that leadership at these companies is a privilege, not a right.

“I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly,” Zuckerberg quipped at the recent F8 developers’ conference, forcing a guffaw. The audience was silent. Not even a chuckle. We’re not laughing any more, Mark. And we’re coming for your throne.

 

US must prevent construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline to counter Russia – Pompeo

May 8m 2019

RT

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has yet again lashed out at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, claiming that Moscow wants it as “leverage” over Europe, and vowed to continue efforts to disrupt it.

Pompeo, well known for his vocal criticism of the pipeline project, touched upon the topic while giving a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies in London on Wednesday.

“Russia wants Nord Stream 2 to use energy as a leverage over Europe. We shouldn’t allow it to proceed,” Pompeo stated, while praising the close relationship between the US and the UK.

The pipeline, constructed by Russia’s Gazprom in partnership with five European energy majors under the Baltic Sea, has been repeatedly criticized by Washington and others, including Kiev. The criticism has included speculation that the new pipeline would bring the amount of Russian transit gas – and profits from it – for the Ukrainian authorities to zero.

Senior US officials, including Pompeo, have repeatedly “warned” Europe of the alleged threats that Nord Stream 2 bears, claiming it would deepen the EU’s dependence on Russian energy. Despite the pressure from the US, Europe – namely Germany, the major partner in the project – has not caved in to it and the construction of the pipeline, expected to provide transit for 70 percent of Russian gas sales to the EU, goes on.

While Washington’s concerns about the “dependence” of the EU on Russia might appear genuine, the US has actually been actively seeking to get its own share in the European energy market, trying to sell more of its liquefied natural gas (LNG).

 

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