TBR News October 17, 2016

Oct 17 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  October 17, 2016:”The Wikileaks release of documents that impact negatively on the Clinton campaign has resulted in “unknown agencies” (read American experts) shutting down the Wikileaks site to prevent more damaging releases. That this will not work is obvious. Then Biden threatened the Russian computer system and this was an act of monumental stupidity because the Russian computer technicians are far superior to their American counterparts and an attack on Russia’s sytems would result in the destruction of America’s systems. All of this indicates growing anxiety inside the Beltway and the deliberate ignoring of a simple question. It does not matter who releases what but are the documents authentic? If they were not, we would have heard about this long ago. The assumption, therefore, is that they are genuine and Washington is frantically trying to silence their release. Why? Because Washington knows what is in them and they do not want the American voting public to find out.”

Putin’s Response Options To U.S. Cyber Attack

October 17, 2016

by Jeffrey Caar


On October 7th, the U.S. government formally accused the Russian government of interfering with the U.S. election process.

The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

On October 14th, NBC News reported that the CIA is planning a cyber attack against Russia, and that the target is Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders.

On October 15th, Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov said in response to that news — “We will react, of course, especially given specific figures from the Russian government were mentioned.”

From the U.S. government’s perspective, it is the victim of Russian aggression; that the evidence pointing to the Russian government is sufficient to meet the attribution standard of “reasonable certainty”[1], and so it is entitled to respond in self defense as long as its response is proportionate to the attack[2].

What If?

It’s certainly possible that Putin directed the FSB and GRU at different times (one in 2015 and one in 2016) to mount a secret influence operation that would favor Donald Trump’s run for President, and that those normally competent spy agencies executed this secret operation by using not one but two blown threat actor groups (Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear), Russian servers and tool sets, free Russian-hosted email accounts on Yandex, and distributed the files via Wikileaks (a long suspected Russian front). Oh, and also create a FancyBear[.]net website and a character named Guccifer 2.0 who negotiates with reporters and speaks at security conferences. Because, you know, SECRET.

Or, it’s possible that the Russian government hasn’t directed this attack, and that the White House, in the midst of the ugliest election season in our lifetime, fueled with Russophobic hysteria generated in part by headline-grabbing cyber intelligence firms, has mis-attributed it to a State actor and is now about to launch a cyber attack against a nuclear power w/ cyber capabilities close to our own.

What then?

Under international law, Russia could pursue remedies at the U.N. Security Council and the International Court of Justice, or it could respond with countermeasures proportionate to whatever action the U.S. takes.

No one knows what Russia’s actual cyber capabilities are, but based upon the quality of their scientific universities and the world-wide respect garnered by their computer science engineers, they certainly are superior to the Keystone Cops antics of Fancy Bear, Cozy Bear, and Guccifer 2.0.

We already have enough real problems with Russia in Syria and Ukraine. Someone, maybe Russian, has embarrassed the Democrats but there’s no hard proof as to who’s responsible. And the bottom line is that the DNC bears at least some of that responsibility no matter who attacked them.

This decision by the White House to name the Russian government in the DNC hack and threaten them with a response is both inflammatory and irresponsible; especially when our entire U.S. network infrastructure is so vulnerable to retaliation by cyber means.

 David Stockman’s new book analyzes the Trump phenomenon

October 17, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


I have to admit to being alternately puzzled and depressed that I seemed to be the only libertarian with a major public platform to take a nuanced view of Donald Trump. After all, many of his foreign policy positions echo the libertarian critique of our interventionist foreign policy – and his enemies are, in large part, our enemies. However, with the publication of David Stockman’s Trumped!: A Nation on the Brink of Ruin, and How to Bring It Back, I see that I am not alone.

Stockman’s thesis is that Trump is essentially right about the decline of American greatness, that the system is rigged, and that a ruthlessly self-centered elite has prospered at the expense of the rest of us. The American economy, and indeed our society, has been hideously deformed by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve and our spendthrift political class:

“This epic deformation has delivered historically unprecedented setbacks to the bottom 90% of American households. They have seen their real wealth and living standards steadily deteriorate for several decades now, even as vast financial windfalls have accrued to the elite at the very top.”

“In fact, during the last 30 years, the real net worth of the bottom 90% has not increased at all. At the same time, the top 1% has experienced a 300% gain while the real wealth of the Forbes 400 has risen by 1000%.

“That’s not old-fashioned capitalism at work; it’s the fruit of a perverted regime of printing press money and debt-fueled faux prosperity that has been foisted on the nation by the bipartisan ruling elites.”

Trump, says Stockman, is right about the symptoms, but he’s wrong about the disease. It’s not the monetary machinations of China, or “free trade” that’s the root of the problem, it’s “thirty years of madcap money-printing at the Fed” and “the $50 trillion of new public and private debt generated by that monetary eruption.” Trade deals and immigration are just surface phenomena: the underlying cause is “bad money and towering debts.”

And yet Trump’s jeremiads aimed at the elites are right on target:

“That much, at least, Donald Trump has right. Throwing out the careerists, pettifoggers, hypocrites, ideologues, racketeers, power seekers and snobs who have brought about the current ruin is at least a start in the right direction.”

And on the foreign front, too, in Stockman’s view Trump, for all his demagoguery, is preferable to “the arrogant and insular group-think of the Imperial City.” Yes, Trump is “often far too bellicose. But he has pinned the tail where it belongs. That is, on the imperial notion that America is the indispensable savior-nation and policeman of the world.”

While the colorful real estate magnate comes in for some fairly harsh criticism, Stockman opens his book with this evaluation of the man and the movement he spawned:

“So if the ideals of world peace, capitalist prosperity and constitutional liberty are to survive at all, it’s up to The Donald.

“Admittedly, that seems like cold comfort. There is much that is dark, disturbing, and authoritarian about Trump’s personality and candidacy.

“But a nation that has been Trumped is a people coming back to life. Americans don’t want to take it anymore. Instead, they want heir existing rulers to take a permanent hike.

“That’s a damn good start, and it is the outlaw campaign of Donald J. Trump that ha finally lit the flame of rebellion.”

In a world where we demand clean-cut scenarios, Good vs. Evil, especially in our politics, the truth is that a “rank demagogue” – as Stockman describes him – may just be the key to our liberation. Sure, he’s full of “baloney, bombast, brimstone, and bile,” but he’s succeeded in not only diagnosing the problem but also pointing to the perpetrators, albeit in general terms. Stockman, for his part, gets specific.

Trump keeps repeating that “We aren’t winning anymore,” and this is really the key to his rise, which Stockman rightly says “is striking a deep nerve on Main Street.” And as the author shows at great length in this book, the real incomes of average Americans – as opposed to, say, Warren Buffett – are shrinking. The losers, in short, are you and me: the winners are “Washington, Wall Street, and the bi-coastal elites” who “prosper from a toxic brew of finance, debt, and politics.”

While I don’t usually touch on economic issues in this column, one of the main features of this book – and what I found most educational – is that it answers the oft-asked question: How did Trump manage to defy all predictions, beat the elites, and get to where he is today? Stockman shows how the system is indeed very much rigged in favor of the rich, and his analysis of how this came to be is a real eye-opener. And he does it in a way that draws a very clear line of demarcation between the Good Guys – ordinary Americans – and the Bad Guys, i.e. “the military/industrial/surveillance complex, the health and education cartels … the tax loophole lobbies, the black and green energy subsidy mills and endless like and similar K-Street racketeers.”

Of particular interest is his account of how economic metrics have been perverted and outright faked in order to give us the illusion that all is well. Because all isn’t well: far from it. As Stockman puts it:

“Most of America’s vast flyover zone has been left behind. When adjusted to an honest measure of inflation we call the ‘Flyover CPI’ [Consumer Price Index], real hourly wages are lower than they were in 1985, and real median household income is down 21% from year 2000 levels.”

Those are some pretty astonishing statistics, but it gets worse: when juxtaposed next to the obscene fortunes being made by crony capitalists and the beneficiaries of the Fed-fueled stock market and High Finance, the portrait Stockman draws of 21st century America resembles nothing so much as the France of the Sun King and Marie Antoinette – right before the storming of the Bastille.

A lot of economic topics are covered, in great detail, and I won’t try to summarize them all here. What is of special interest to my readers, however, is how he ties this all in to Trump’s – and his own – critique of our globalist foreign policy.

The Great Bubble generated by the Federal Reserve that screwed “flyover country” and enriched the One Percent poured billions into the War Party’s coffers. “Money” created out of thin air and mountainous debt financed the greatest military buildup in history, one that started under Ronald Reagan and undermined the conservative crusade to cut back the federal Leviathan. And the politics of this process brought about our ruin.

The budget gridlock and runaway deficit spending is made possible, says Stockman, by a pact between the two wings of the Uniparty in Washington: the “liberal” wing pushes for “social spending” while the “conservative wing” insists on unnecessary military spending – and a “compromise” is reached where both get what they want, and the taxpayers be damned.

Runaway military spending was institutionalized and made permanent under Reagan, who proposed a military budget that was formerly around $140 billion and increased to a proposed $350 billion. While this number was slightly reined in, the key development during the Reagan years is aptly described by Stockman:

“To wit, an invincible coalition of military hawks, pork barrel politicians and social-welfare liberals found a modus vivendi that kept the welfare state virtually intact, while defense spending climbed steadily higher.”

Although the alleged justification for the military buildup was an alleged first-strike threat posed by the Soviets, the American counterweight never materialized – because there was no such threat to begin with. What the money was spent on instead was a massive buildup of conventional forces: a vast expansion of the Navy, the M-1 tank program, and an array of weaponry and equipment designed for the projection of conventional forces on a global scale. Meanwhile, the Soviet empire withered on the vine, and their shrunken military drew back – while ours was readied for the post-cold war advance to the very gates of Moscow, and throughout the Middle East.

That the Reagan buildup occurred before the fall of the Berlin Wall was a godsend to the War Party: as Stockman points out, “No Congress would have voted for the massive new conventional force procurements that enabled these pointless interventions. Once the Soviet Union was no more, even the porkers of Capitol Hill would have seen that they had nothing to do with the security of the citizens” of the US.

But the addictive drug of Keynesian militarism had already been injected into the body politic:

“Once the tanks-, ship-, and aircraft production lines had been opened in congressional districts across the land, it was an altogether different political dynamic. The congressman from the Lima, Ohio M1 tank line, for example, was more than eager to repudiate John Quincy Adams’ injunction about not search the earth for monsters to destroy; to get more tanks and jobs at home, he needs to find more monsters abroad.”

And find them he did: the Iraqis, the Taliban, ISIS, and now the Russians. The corporate media, acting in tandem with the military-industrial-congressional complex, readily churns out rationales for military intervention like clockwork: one “menace” fades, while another is waiting in the wings. And the coffers of the War Party, and the political class, are filled, their status as “experts” and “leaders” is enhanced, and the debt-fueled funny-money machine chugs along at full speed, enriching the already-wealthy and cleaning out the savings of the lower and middle classes. Meanwhile, the rest become wards of the State – and many wind up as cannon fodder, fighting Imperial Washington’s wars as a way out of the dead end of dying communities and dysfunctional lives.

Here is where Trump comes in: he appeals to these people, the forgotten victims of the Bubble Economy, the working class that no longer works, the pawns who fight our wars and die on foreign battlefields. They flock to his rallies in the tens of thousands, they shout their defiance of the elites who despise The Donald – and them.

Trump’s economic message – that the America of their fathers and grandfathers can be restored, that this country can once again become the industrial powerhouse of the world, that the jobs can be brought back from wherever they have gone – appeals to those who have almost forgotten how to hope. And his foreign policy slogan, “America First,” also has the same visceral attraction: when Trump wonders why we’re making “bad deals,” such as the NATO deal that requires us to pay for the defense of a continent perfectly capable (albeit unwilling) to pay for itself, his supporters shout their approval. When Trump asks “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with the Russians?” they cheer – because no Russian ever looked down on them, or fired them, or called them “deplorables.” When Trump avers that it would be smart to let the Russians take care of ISIS in Syria, and that we have no business “rescuing” Aleppo, they agree wholeheartedly – because, heck, why aren’t we rescuing Americans from the hopelessness and poverty so many have fallen into?

Yes, Stockman is critical of Trump, but unlike all too many ostensible libertarians, he doesn’t sneer at the Trump supporters, because he understands the economic and social roots of their pain, he gets Trump’s appeal – and offers a fully libertarian analysis and program for reform.

There is much more to this book than I can cover in a single column. It is not only an analysis of the single most interesting – and important – political phenomenon of recent times, it is also a systematic overview of the world we are living in today – and a programmatic document that offers solutions. There have been so many articles and books on Trump and Trumpism that I’ve long since lost count: this is the single best treatment of its subject that I have seen. You can order it here – and I’d recommend that you do so before the first edition sells out completely.

The Cause-

Hacked emails raise possibility of Clinton Foundation ethics breach

October 14, 2016

by Jonathan Allen


Seattle-Hacked emails published by Wikileaks this week appear to show Qatar pledging to donate $1 million to Hillary Clinton’s family’s charitable foundation, despite her promise to curb new donations by foreign governments while U.S. secretary of state.

In an email from 2012, a senior official from the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation informs colleagues that a planned donation by Qatar’s government to mark Bill Clinton’s birthday came up in a meeting he had with the Gulf state’s ambassador in Washington.

The ambassador said that he asked “to see WJC ‘for five minutes’ in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011,” Amitabh Desai, the foundation official, writes in his email, using the former U.S. president’s initials.

Hillary Clinton, who is the Democratic nominee for the Nov. 8 presidential election, served as secretary of state from 2009 until 2013.

The hacked email is among thousands published over the last week by the pro-transparency group Wikileaks from the account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Clinton’s campaign has been embarrassed by this and similar recent hacking attacks on other Democratic Party officials, some of which appear to show Clinton and her aides saying things in private that contradict their public positions. Her spokesmen have not disputed the authenticity of the hacked emails.

The emails released by Wikileaks do not appear to confirm whether Qatar gave the promised $1 million, although the foundation’s website lists the State of Qatar as having given at least that amount. There is no date listed for the donation. A spokesman for the foundation declined to confirm the donation.

Reuters could not rule out the possibility the $1 million was intended as a birthday present for Clinton personally, not for the foundation. His spokesman did not respond to questions.

Hillary Clinton promised the U.S. government that while she served as secretary of state the foundation would not accept new funding from foreign governments without seeking clearance from the State Department’s ethics office.

The agreement was designed to dispel concerns that U.S. foreign policy could be swayed by donations to the foundation, which is known for its work on reducing the cost of HIV medicine in sub-Saharan Africa. Clinton’s Republican rival in the presidential election, Donald Trump, has seized on the foundation for political attacks, calling it a front for corruption. Clinton’s campaign dismisses this as a political smear.

The State Department has said it cannot cite any instances of its ethics officials reviewing or approving new donations from foreign governments to the foundation while Clinton served as the country’s top diplomat from 2009 until 2013.

“You would need to ask the Foundation whether there were additional matters that it should have submitted for State Department review,” the department said in a statement.

The ethics agreement allowed foreign governments that already supported foundation projects to continue while Clinton was at the State Department. However, if one of those governments wanted to “increase materially its commitment,” then the foundation was required to ask the department first.

Craig Minassian, a foundation spokesman, declined to confirm if Qatar gave the $1 million described in the 2012 email. Even if it had, he said he questioned whether the money would be considered a “material increase.” He said Qatar has been donating since 2002, and that some of those donations have been greater than $1 million.

Qatar’s embassy in Washington did not respond to questions. A spokesman for Clinton, who was campaigning in Seattle on Friday, also did not resond to questions.

Last year, Reuters found that at least seven other foreign governments made new donations to the foundation without the State Department being informed, partly, foundation officials said, because of “oversights.”

President Barack Obama is campaigning for Clinton to be elected his successor, and the White House has repeatedly declined to discuss the breaches of the agreement Clinton signed with Obama’s administration.

 (Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Leslie Adler)


The Effect-

Assange’s internet link intentionally severed by state party – WikiLeaks

October 17, 2016


WikiLeaks has activated “contingency plans” after its co-founder’s internet service was intentionally cut off by a state actor, the media organization said in a tweet.

The internet is one of the few, if not only, available ways for Julian Assange, who has been locked up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than four years, to maintain contact with the outside world.

Facing extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape, which he denies, the Australian computer programmer has been holed up in the embassy in West London since 2012.

He claims the extradition is actually a bid to move him to a jurisdiction from which he can then be sent to the US, which is known to be actively investigating WikiLeaks.

The unverified claims of state sabotage come as WikiLeaks continues to release damaging documents, most recently thousands of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.

Earlier this month, Assange claimed his organization would aim to publish documents “every week” in the run up to US Election Day on November 8.

Clinton’s campaign has made unsubstantiated claims that WikiLeaks is working with the Russian government to help defeat the Democrat in favor of Trump.

Last week the FBI reissued a statement saying it was working to “determine the accuracy, nature and scope” of cyber intrusions, but did not name any suspected perpetrato

The ninth release of Podesta emails occurred on Sunday, bringing the total number of leaked files to over 12,000.

Among the hundreds of emails released are discussions about Clinton’s appeal among black voters, her email apologies, and Chelsea Clinton being described by one of her father’s longtime aides as a ‘backstabber’.

The batch also comes amid revelations of Clinton’s cozy relationship with the mainstream media, and how they work closely to control the media landscape and set up stories that show her in a favorable light.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Hillary Clinton reportedly wanted to “drone” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when she was the US secretary of state.

According to True Pundit, Clinton and the State Department were under pressure to silence the whistleblower in the months before WikiLeaks dumped some 250,000 diplomatic cables from 1966 to 2010, dubbed CableGate.

Unidentified State Department sources claimed Clinton asked “can’t we just drone this guy?”.


‘Blacks are in charge of town’: Popular Bavarian ski resort begs authorities for help

October 17, 2016


The mayor of the popular Bavarian resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen has penned a letter to the regional government begging them to tackle the “massive problems” posed by crime rates among refugees, while police say “blacks are in charge of the town.”

The letter, part warning to regional authorities, part cry for help, has been sent by Garmisch-Partenkirchen Mayor Sigrid Meierhofer to the Vice President of Upper Bavaria’s government Maria Els on Sunday, according to Merkur newspaper which saw the document.

“There has been an increasingly deteriorating situation over the past weeks around the refugee registration center Abrams,” Meierhofer wrote.

The mayor then argued that the very future of her city could be in disarray because of the 250 migrants now living in the Abrams center. 150 of its residents are Africans, and unaccompanied young men make up 80 percent of them, while in previous years the facility mostly accommodated Syrian families.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a picturesque resort town in Bavaria, lies close to Germany’s highest mountain – the Zugspitze. Due to its mild winter climate, the town is also a popular holiday spot for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking, having some of the best skiing areas in the country.

Meierhofer made it plain that she is increasingly worried about “public order and security,” while most of the Garmisch residents believe migrants are responsible for most sexual assaults and petty crime in the area.

Bans on migrants entering certain places like the town’s spa park have been imposed in the past few weeks, but “massive problems” are still there, she went on, saying “this is not to be ignored or tolerated.”

In the meantime, police say migrants brawl in the streets and vandalize public property, echoing the mayor’s words.

Thomas Holzer, deputy police chief, told Merkur that migrants are almost “in charge” of the town, adding that officers have responded to more incidents in the past six weeks in and around the Abrams center than in the past 12 months altogether.

“There are brawls, fights and property damage. The blacks occupy the best Wi-Fi spots and choose who sleeps in what room. The situation is a problem for us and causes some concern. In September, we recorded a quarter of our annual operations,” he said.

Repeat offenders have reportedly been moved from the center to other facilities in the area, but the measure did not prove efficient.

Germany sustained a massive influx of refugees last year, with approximately 900,000 people coming in. Up to 300,000 refugees are expected to arrive this year, according to Frank-Jurgen Weise, head of the country’s migration agency BAMF.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a “nationwide push” to deport refugees whose asylum applications were refused, signaling a slight change in her much-criticized “open door policy.” The refugee crisis caused numerous problems both for Merkel and her conservative bloc, losing supporters to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany.

However, some observers insist that the scale of the crisis is exaggerated by the German media. Martin Dolzer, a Left Party MP, told RT last week that one million arrivals is not a large figure for a wealthy country like Germany, which has a population of about 80 million.

“As the [West] pursues the strategy of destabilizing Libya, Mali and Somalia as well as other African and Middle Eastern countries, refugees will come,” he stressed.

‘People are sick of politics’: how the US election left Reno divided and silenced

The Nevada city is in a crucial district in the key swing state – yet the polarizing presidential race has forced residents to stop talking about who they’ll vote for

October 17, 2016

by Nicky Woolf

The Guardian

uds and Suds in Reno, Nevada, is a laundromat with a little tiki bar inside, where patrons can sip a tall-boy and shoot the breeze while they wait out their spin cycle.

They have to be careful what they say, though, because talking about the presidential election is banned. Talking about politics at all, in fact, is banned.

Gene Sanguinetti, the manager, said he was forced to instigate this rule after a fist-fight broke out.

“We had somebody who liked Trump, and somebody that didn’t like Trump,” he said. “It got pretty ugly.”

Reno is the seat of Washoe County, a crucial district in a key swing state. People here take politics seriously. Four years ago, the red dirt of Sun Valley, a poor area to the north of town where doublewide trailers abut abandoned lots and burned-out cars rust in the sand, bloomed with blue Obama/Biden signs.

In richer, more conservative areas, like Lakeridge, cars were plastered with Romney/Ryan bumper stickers.

But this year – though Washoe County is as important and hotly contested as ever – is different. This year, there are no presidential election lawn signs anywhere.

People don’t want their neighbors to know who they’re voting for, for fear of the kind of conflict that led Sanguinetti to ban the topic of politics from his establishment entirely, residents say.

The only Clinton placard the Guardian could find – a small one, by the side of an industrial service road – had been kicked over and stomped into the ground.

The division on the ground here reflects a campaign season of unprecedented levels of vitriol; no presidential election in American history has ever been fought between two candidates held in such low national regard. Reno – like the rest of the country – feels like it is being pulled apart at the seams.

“It’s a very divisive election,” Sanguinetti said. “Many people are voting against the other candidate. There’s always a certain number like that – but I’ve never seen it like this, and my first election was 1968.”

“I would say that more than half of our customers are what I call ‘Trumpets’,” Sanguinetti said. “Which is unusual, because many of our customers are socio-economically challenged – dollars are short for them, and they typically vote Democrat.” There’s a lot of anger, he said, likening the feeling to Britain’s Brexit vote.

Charles Bland, a construction worker and Republican precinct captain in Washoe, seemed exhausted defending his candidate. “I think the things he says have been twisted to seem offensive,” he said, speaking to the Guardian before Trump spoke to a fired-up crowd of several thousand at the Reno/Sparks convention center last week.

“He says things that Americans feel,” said Bland, who had brought his young grandson to the rally. “They’re tired of everything being politically correct.” He said he had seen a lot of lifelong Democrats shift their allegiance to Trump for the first time.

Clinton currently holds a razor-thin lead of just 1.2% in Nevada, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average. A poll by Emerson University and conducted between October 4 and 8, putting the two candidates at a dead heat on 43% each, though a new GOP poll conducted October 11-12 showing Clinton with a six point lead implies that recent allegations of sexual assault made against Trump may be hurting him; early voting begins here in just over a week, on October 22.

The so-called rurals, which is the term loosely used by locals to mean everywhere outside of Clark and Washoe counties – within which lie Las Vegas and Reno/Sparks, and therefore most of the state’s population – are as solidly Republican as can be.

There is a way it plays out, one Republican party insider said, in which Washoe County would be the fulcrum on which the whole election balances.

“This county makes all the difference in the world for the state,” said Kim Bacchus, the president of the Northern Nevada Republican Women’s Pac. “The rurals are always solidly conservative; Clark County, with two thirds of our population, is fairly solidly Democrat. So … Washoe County has always been the determiner.”

“Why is Washoe a big deal for the presidential election?” she continued. “Because without Washoe County, Trump loses. Period.”

In 2012, Washoe County went blue, voting for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a slim margin of around 6,000 votes. But since then, the town has seen an influx of people moving in along the I-80 corridor from California, many of them conservatives looking to escape the Golden State’s liberal politics. In other parts of town, attitudes toward Washington DC have degraded from distrust to contempt.

The polarization is especially glaring within the Republican party. The Washoe County party is barely on speaking terms with the state party, insiders told the Guardian. “It’s October of a presidential election year and they’re doing nothing to elect candidates,” Bacchus said of the county party.

“They can’t raise money, have no message, they have no volunteers, they have no plan for getting the vote out, they’re doing nothing. It’s just a little club, and they have a little clubhouse to meet in until they run out of money for rent,” she continued.

Her Pac deals with the candidates directly now; she circumvents the county party entirely. Many others do the same. “Some Democrats I talk to say ‘I’m just not gonna vote for that candidate,’” Bacchus said. “Some Republicans I speak to say the same – ‘I’m not gonna vote for that candidate.’”

She shrugged. “People are sick of politics,” she said.

As for Sanguinetti, the manager of Duds and Suds, his disgust with the toxicity of 2016’s political discourse has driven him, for the first time in his life, to abandon mainstream politics entirely. He’s planning on voting Libertarian in November.

Donald Trump Reveals Evangelical Rifts That Could Shape Politics for Years

October 17, 2016

by Laurie Goodstein

New York Times

When Jen Hatmaker speaks to stadiums full of Christian women, she regales them with stories about her five children and her garden back in Austin, Tex. — and stays away from politics. But recently she took to Facebook and Instagram to blast Donald J. Trump as a “national disgrace,” and remind her legions of followers that there are other names on the ballot in November.

“Trump has consistently normalized violence, sexual deviance, bigotry and hate speech,” she said in an email interview. “I wouldn’t accept this from my seventh-grade son, much less from a potential leader of the free world.”

In the nearly four decades since Jerry Falwell Sr. founded a group called the Moral Majority, evangelical Christians have been the Republican Party’s most unified and reliable voting bloc in November presidential elections. The leaders of what came to be known as the religious right were kingmakers and household names, like Pat Robertson, James C. Dobson, Ralph Reed.

But this year, Ms. Hatmaker’s outraged post was one small sign of the splintering of the evangelical bloc and a possible portent of the changes ahead. While most of the religious right’s aging old guard has chosen to stand by Mr. Trump, its judgment and authority are being challenged by an increasingly assertive crop of younger leaders, minorities and women such as Ms. Hatmaker.

“Those men have never spoken for me or, frankly, anyone I know,” said Ms. Hatmaker, the author of popular inspirational Christian books. “The fracture within our own Christian family may be irreparable.”

The fault lines among evangelicals that the election of 2016 has exposed — among generations, ethnic groups and sexes — are likely to reshape national politics for years to come, conservative Christian leaders and analysts said last week in interviews. Arguments that were once private are now public, and agendas are no longer clear.

“The idea of a monolithic evangelical voting constituency is no longer applicable in the American electorate,” said Samuel Rodriguez Jr., the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who represents about 40,000 congregations and declined to join his friends and allies on Mr. Trump’s evangelical advisory board.

The big names who sit atop organizations that function largely as lobbying groups and mobilization squads for the Republican Party have stuck with Mr. Trump despite the lewd comments he made in a 2005 recording, even though he was never their preferred candidate. He wooed them and convinced them that he would appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia, the conservative who died in February. To these pragmatic players, the election boiled down to only two issues, both that could be solved with Supreme Court appointments: stopping abortion and ensuring legal protections for religious conservatives who object to same-sex marriage.

But the evangelicals now challenging the old guard tend to have a broader agenda. They see it as a Christian imperative to care for immigrants and refugees, the poor, the environment and victims of sex trafficking and sexual abuse. Many support criminal justice reform and the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement. While ardently opposed to abortion, some are inclined to be more accepting of same-sex marriage.

“The next generation of evangelicals craves a less partisan, less divisive and more racially inclusive expression of political engagement that addresses concern on a range of issues, not just abortion and gay marriage,” said Jonathan Merritt, a young evangelical who writes on politics and culture.

The religious right’s machinery is still primed to turn out evangelical voters for Mr. Trump, said Johnnie Moore, a publicist for many Christian leaders and groups, who serves on Mr. Trump’s advisory board. But he doubts that the machinery will produce as it has in the past.

“I do not think there’s any way to get evangelical women in any force to show up for Donald Trump at this point,” Mr. Moore said.

Several polls show that Mr. Trump is underperforming among evangelicals compared with previous Republican nominees, who commanded about 80 percent of the white evangelical vote. Mr. Trump received 65 percent to 70 percent of white evangelical support, recent polls show. A new poll from LifeWay Research, which specializes in surveys of churches and Christians, found that nonwhite evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump, 62 percent to 15 percent.

Significant opposition to Mr. Trump has also come from evangelical leaders who are white and baby boomers or older. Many younger evangelicals said they took note when Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention and Erick Erickson, a conservative writer and radio host, rejected Mr. Trump early in the campaign. Last week, both Christianity Today and World magazine ran editorials rejecting Mr. Trump.

Kate Shellnutt, 30, the online editor of Christianity Today and editor of the CT Women section, said she had observed that “the millennial generation has a lot less patience for Trump.” Of the 33 influential millennial evangelicals she profiled for a cover story two years ago, she says she can now find only one, Lila Rose, who is pro-Trump, and even she has been publicly critical of him. Several have been using the hashtag #NeverTrump, Ms. Shellnutt said.

Students at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Mr. Falwell, started a petition on Wednesday criticizing the university’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr. (the founder’s son), for endorsing a candidate who is “actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose,” and tarnishing the school in the process, the petition said.

“Liberty University is not Trump University,” said Dustin Wahl, a junior majoring in politics and policy, who wrote the petition. “We don’t stand with our president on Donald Trump. It’s embarrassing because most people here realize that Trump is a joke.”

Mr. Wahl said that more than 2,500 people had signed the petition in two days, including more than 1,100 who used email addresses affiliated with Liberty University. There are about 15,000 resident students at Liberty, and an additional 90,000 online.

Mr. Falwell, Mr. Reed and Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, who have all stood by Mr. Trump, did not respond to interview requests. However, Mr. Falwell issued a response to the students’ petition, saying that it represented the views of only a “few students,” and that he had endorsed Mr. Trump as an individual, not on behalf of the university.

The student body president, Jack Heaphy, as well as some students interviewed on campus, defended Mr. Falwell and Mr. Trump.

“I believe the vast majority of students on campus will be voting for Mr. Trump on Nov. 8 — not because he’s the perfect candidate, but because his policies align most with the viewpoints of students,” Mr. Heaphy said.

While evangelicals on both sides are alarmed at the vitriol and division, not everyone agrees that it signifies a long-term split. Some maintain that the dissenters will return to the Republican Party post-Trump, and those who supported him will be forgiven.

“I don’t think it is permanent,” said Mr. Moore, the publicist who sits on Mr. Trump’s advisory board.

But the petition is one sign that the traditional reverence among evangelicals for authority figures has fallen by the wayside. On social media, there are calls for Mr. Perkins to step down for continuing to back Mr. Trump.

“It’s inconceivable that someone could run an organization named the Family Research Council and support a man like Donald Trump for president,” said Matthew Lee Anderson, 34, the author of several books and the blog Mere Orthodoxy.

Four years ago, he spoke on a young leaders’ panel at the Values Voter Summit, which is sponsored by Mr. Perkins’s organization. Now, he said, “I don’t have any trust in his judgment any longer. And that’s the sort of loss of trust that lots of younger evangelicals are experiencing toward people like Tony Perkins, and it will not be rebuilt quickly.”

Hawes Spencer contributed reporting.

Turkish unemployment rises as tourists stay away

The Turkish statistics agency has reported a rise in unemployment in the country. It pointed out that joblessness among young people was of particular concern, with tourism taking a major hit after terror threats.

October 17, 2016


Turkey’s unemployment rate rose to 10.7 percent in July, the country’s statistics office, Turkstat, reported Monday.

The figure was 0.9 percent higher than in the same month a year earlier, while the rate for youth unemployment surged by 1.5 percent to 19.8 percent in July.

Analysts had warned that in dealing with the aftermath of a failed putsch in July, the government risked bruising the nation’s previously robust growth as a result of stalled reforms and rule of law concerns.

Mixed signals

Renaissance Capital’s Michael Harris told the AFP news agency that “long term, any deterioration in the rule of law has an impact on the willingness to invest.”

Turkey posted a healthy 4-percent GDP expansion in 2015. But since then there’s been a slew of indications the economy is starting to hurt, with July industrial production plummeting and second-quarter growth slowing to 3.1 percent, down from 4.7 percent in the first three months of the year.

In summer, ratings agencies Moody’s and S&P downgraded Turkey’s bonds to junk status on doubts over the nation’s ability to pay back debt.

Turkey had not been happy with the decision, insisting that the country had displayed fiscal discipline, kept the debt-to-GDP ratio in check and launched a key pension reform.

WikiLeaks says Assange’s Internet link was severed by ‘state party’

October 17, 2016

Fox News

WikiLeaks said Monday that its founder Julian Assange’s Internet link was severed by a “state party” and that “appropriate contingency plans” had been activated

The website’s announcement came hours after it published three cryptic tweets. The messages referenced Ecuador, Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Office. Each tweet was matched with a string of numbers.

Gizmodo noted that the 64-character codes sparked a whirlwind of rumors that the 45-year-old Assange had died. Rumors on Reddit and Twitter said the numbers triggered a so-called “dead man’s switch,” which could be enacted in case Assange did die. Gizmodo reported that such switches do exist.

WikiLeaks hasn’t tweeted anything else about Assange’s Internet access or how it may have been “severed.”

Various U.S. officials and pundits have made threatening statements directed at Assange in the past. WikiLeaks tweeted in early October an alleged 2010 quote from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking if Assange could be killed in a drone strike, and, that same year, former Democrat strategist Bob Beckel said on Fox News Channel that “a dead man can’t leak stuff.” This month, “specific information” prompted Assange to scrap a dramatic London balcony address to celebrate WikiLeaks’ 10th anniversary.

Assange also has hinted that deceased DNC staffer Seth Rich may have been a secret source for WikiLeaks. Rich, 27, was discovered with multiple gunshot wounds to the back at a Washington, D.C., intersection in July. He died soon thereafter. Authorities believe Rich was the target of a botched robbery; however, odd circumstances surrounding his death have invited conspiracy theories.

The controversial anti-secrecy website has been busy in October, methodically releasing a trove of emails allegedly stolen from the gmail account of Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta. WikiLeaks had released just more than 12,000 emails of a purported 50,000 they have access to as of Monday morning. The Podesta emails have raised questions about a too-cozy working relationship between the Clinton campaign and some members of the media and has also shed light on how Clinton’s team handled various scandals.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the Podesta revelations were the “October surprise” Assange hinted his group would release in advance of the U.S. election.

Many experts believe WikiLeaks is not an independent organization, but in fact a front for the Russian government. Podesta suggested recently on “Fox News Sunday” that his emails had been hacked by the Russians, and officials also have determined a recent hacking of the Democrat Party’s computer files was likely the work of Russian actors.

Vice President Joe Biden told NBC News on Friday that the U.S. would be “sending a message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin “at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact.”

Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years as officials in Sweden have sought him on criminal charges.

One of the last reported interactions with Assange came Saturday when former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson brought the WikiLeaks boss a vegan meal.

Russia Today’s UK bank accounts closed down, says editor

Unclear whether UK government responsible for shutting down accounts of Moscow’s main instrument of propaganda in English-speaking world

October 17, 2016

by Luke Harding and Shaun Walker

The Guardian

The UK bank accounts of Russian TV broadcaster Russia Today have been shut down, its editor-in-chief has said, in a move that the UK government appears to have been aware of.

In a tweet in Russian Margarita Simonyan said that “all the accounts” had been closed in the UK. She said the decision was final, adding sarcastically: “Long live freedom of speech!”

The channel received a letter from NatWest bank, Simonyan said, that read: “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.”

The bank said the entire Royal Bank of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is a part, would refuse to handle RT. According to Simonyan, the letter said the decision was final and that it was “not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it”. NatWest said the station’s accounts will be closed down by 12 December.

Treasury sources said the bank had taken its decision independently. “It’s up to banks to decide,” one said. The source said the UK government has not introduced any fresh sanctions or “obligations” against Russia since February 2015.

NatWest said it was working on a comment. The move – if confirmed – casts into doubt the ability of the Kremlin-backed news channel to carry on broadcasting. RT said on Monday it would continue operating.

The US and Britain said on Sunday that they were considering fresh measures and possible further sanctions against Moscow in protest at Russia’s continuing bombardment of civilians in eastern Aleppo, Syria.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook: “It looks like, as it leaves the EU, London has decided to leave behind all its obligations towards freedom of speech. As they say, best to start a new life without bad habits.”

Russia Today – now rebranded as RT – was set up a decade ago, initially with the goal of giving foreigners a positive view of Russia. In time, the idea shifted and the channel became more about painting a negative picture of the west.

The channel was rebranded to distance itself from the Kremlin and from the very idea of Russianness, and launched amid pomp in the UK and US, accompanied by major advertising campaigns asking people to “Question More” and positioning itself as an alternative to the “mainstream media”.

In 2013, at the opening of RT’s new studios, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, told Simonyan that the aim of the channel had been “to break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on global information streams”. The mission had been completed successfully, Putin said.

Often, questioning more meant wallowing in conspiracy theory, giving airtime to 9/11 truthers and other basement bloggers. Away from the lunatic fringes, the channel often covered the same kind of stories in the UK and the US as the Guardian might. It focused on injustice and official malpractice, on social tensions and political demonstrations. Especially in the US, the channel built up a following for touching the kind of issues that many mainstream networks did not.

The channel typically invites studio guests who endorse the Kremlin’s anti-US views. Guests have included Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway.

It ran a chatshow hosted by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and it lured veteran US broadcaster Larry King to the channel to make a series of shows. While making marquee signings to boost its mainstream credibility, the channel also ran shows like The Truthseeker, which claimed “every single terrorist attack in US history was a false flag operation”.

During the annexation of Crimea, RT did not report on the Russian soldiers deployed on the peninsula, and complained about “misinformation” from western media outlets, which said that they were present.

Putin himself later admitted as much, but the channel’s skewed coverage of events in Russia’s backyard also gained a small but devoted following abroad. It has portrayed Russia’s military intervention in Syria as a campaign against terrorists, and reflects Moscow’s official position that no civilians have been killed by Russian jets.

Simonyan visited Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy during a trip to London in 2014.

In a statement on Monday RT struck a defiant tone, calling the decision “incomprehensible” and “without warning”. It added: “It is however not at odds with the countless measures that have been undertaken in the UK and Europe over the last few years to ostracise, shout down, or downright impede the work of RT.”

Since RT started broadcasting in the UK about 10 years ago, Ofcom has recorded breaches of the UK broadcasting rules on 20 occasions. It was investigated in April for accusing the Turkish government of genocide against the Kurds.

David Clarke, a former Foreign Office adviser and the chair of the Russia Foundation, said the BBC’s office in Moscow would now be “in the frontline” for possible Kremlin reprisals.

“The BBC is the flagship British broadcaster. It’s a public body but in the Russian mind it’s an arm of the state and they will see it as a proxy. They will look at kicking British journalists out of Russia, I guess.”

Clarke said the Kremlin used RT not for straight propaganda purposes but “information warfare”. “The clue is in the strapline: ‘Question more’. They are trying to sow confusion and to create a climate of intellectual pessimism and nihilism by mixing the genre of news and outright fabrication.”

He added: “The channel is designed to undermine rational debate. It’s a multi-layered thing and just one instrument they use.”

Antarctic marine reserves deal within reach as Russia thaws environmental stance

After five years of failed negotiations, conservations are hopeful Russia is prepared to make a deal to protect the Ross Sea and East Antarctica

October 16, 2016

by Michael Slezak

The Guardian

An international agreement to protect some of Antarctica’s unique and pristine marine ecosystems could be reached within a fortnight, with scientists and conversationists hopeful of a breakthrough after five years of failed negotiations.

Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union gathered in Hobart on Monday to commence two weeks of talks at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The commission has been working since 2011 towards protecting a range of areas in the Southern Ocean.

If an agreement is reached, it would represent the first time a marine protected area was established in international waters by consensus. Russia has consistently blocked the agreement, with China also scuppering the deal each year until 2015.

This year there are signs Russia, which is chairing the meeting for the second year in a row, is prepared to make a deal to protect the Ross Sea and possibly East Antarctica.

“There has been a lot of movement within Russia for more environmental awareness – coming from high up in the Putin government,” said Andrea Kavanagh, director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean work at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In the past year, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s former chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov,  has been appointed  special presidential representative for environmental protection, ecology and transport, and Ivanov has increased protection to waters around the Arctic.

In January Putin declared 2017  the Year of Ecology in Russia. In September, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said he had been in discussions with Putin, and revealed Russia had conducted an “interagency assessment” of the Antarctic proposals.

“I don’t know what the results of that assessment will be, but we obviously all remain hopeful that Russia will step up and join us in this endeavour,” Kerry said.

Scientists have estimated the Southern Ocean produces about three quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in the rest of the world’s oceans. The region is also home to most of the world’s penguins and whales.

Kavanagh said Antarctica marine reserves were “vital because they will protect pristine ecosystems”.

“At the height of the cold war the Antarctic treaty was signed that protected all of the land of Antarctica for peace and science, but they left out the oceans,” she said. “That was a reflection of how people viewed the oceans at the time.”

Over the coming fortnight, 250 marine scientists, conservationists and policymakers from 24 countries and the EU will discuss three proposed marine protected areas: the Ross Sea, East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea.

The chair of the CCAMLR, Vasily Titushkin, said he was “looking forward to the challenge of dealing with the many complex scientific and political issues that come up in this commission each year”.

“In the past, CCAMLR members have demonstrated an incredible commitment to work through these issues, to understand divergent views and work collaboratively to find mutually acceptable outcomes.

“This year will be no different and I intend to do everything I can, as chair, to foster an environment for that international collaboration to continue to be a main feature of CCAMLR’s annual meeting.”

The struggle over the Temple Mount

The Week

Rumors that Israel will take over Temple Mount have infuriated Palestinians, fueling a new wave of violence. Here’s everything you need to know:

Why is the site so important?

The Temple Mount is holy to both Muslims and Jews, and to Christians as well. A rectangular platform covering 35 acres of Jerusalem, it is revered by Jews as the place where God gathered together the dust to create Adam and where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. In about 1000 B.C., King Solomon built the First Temple there. That structure was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the Second Temple was built in 516 B.C. and destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The inner sanctuary of the temple, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, was called the Holy of Holies, a place where only the high priest was allowed to set foot. Since nobody knows exactly where the sanctuary stood, religious Jews are forbidden even today from entering the entire compound. They pray instead at the Western Wall, a remnant of the Second Temple’s outer courtyard.

Why is it holy to Muslims?

Called the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims, the site is the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. The Quran says that the Prophet Mohammed took a miraculous night journey to Jerusalem on a winged horse in 621. There, he ascended to heaven and spoke with Allah, before returning to Mecca the same night. It was on this journey that Mohammed received from Allah many of the main tenets of Islam, such as the requirement to pray five times a day. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637, the Umayyad caliphs built the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the beautiful Dome of the Rock — the gold-domed structure that is Jerusalem’s most recognizable monument — on the site. The dome is said to be on the site where Mohammed rose to heaven, while the mosque is where he first arrived in Jerusalem.

Who governs the Temple Mount?

Muslims have controlled access to the site since 1187, when Arabs took back Jerusalem from the Crusaders. An Islamic trust, or waqf, administered the site, and Jews were not allowed to enter. After the Six-Day War in 1967, the Temple Mount area became part of occupied Israeli territory. The defense minister at the time, Moshe Dayan, met with Muslim leaders and reached a new agreement. The waqf would continue to administer the Noble Sanctuary, but Jews would be allowed to enter the site as tourists, but could not pray there.

Has that arrangement worked?

It has been the source of great friction, with zealots on both sides objecting to the status quo. Far-right, ultra-Zionist groups associated with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane have for decades demanded that Jews be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount — something forbidden in the Talmud as well as by the Israeli Supreme Court. In 1982, Alan Goodman, an American Jewish radical and an Israeli soldier, burst into the Dome of the Rock and started spraying machine-gun fire, killing two people. He served 15 years in prison. After that, tensions remained high and Muslims periodically threw rocks at Jews praying at the Western Wall. In 2000, the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then leader of the opposition, and Reuven Rivlin, who is now Israel’s president, made a very public visit to the Temple Mount, surrounded by hundreds of Israeli police, to demonstrate Israelis’ right to go there. Palestinians rioted across Jerusalem, and the Second Intifada erupted.

How did the current violence start?

Late last year, one of the radical rabbis who advocated Jewish control of the Temple Mount was shot in an assassination attempt by a Palestinian, who was later killed by Israeli forces. Violent clashes followed, and Israeli security briefly closed off access to the site. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called that closure “a declaration of war.” Ever since, rumors have spread among Palestinians and the Palestinian media that Israel is planning to take over administration of the entire complex. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has consistently denied that, and the Israeli Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that Jews may not pray there, but belief in an Israeli takeover has incited a recent spate of knife attacks on Jews. Palestinians say that increases in the Jewish population in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and new archaeological digs in the Temple Mount area “all seem to send the message that ‘We are here to stay, we are here to rule, this belongs to us,'” says Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine.

How has Israel responded?

It is trying to crack down on the zealots on both sides. Last week, Israeli police banned prominent right-wing activist Dov Morel not just from the Temple Mount but also from the entire city of Jerusalem for six months. Israeli security also shut down a Palestinian radio station that it said was encouraging attacks on Jews, and it set up checkpoints in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. But Abbas has continued to assert that the Netanyahu government is in league with far-right groups and is trying to change the status of the Temple Mount. As long as this “deceitful propaganda” continues, says Israeli writer Akiva Eldar, “it is the average person, Israeli and Palestinian alike, who will end up suffering the most.”

Denying the Temples existed

The waqf forbids archaeological digs on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, because it is holy ground and an active site of worship. But in 1996, the waqf made an alteration to the sanctuary, converting the Templar-era structure known as Solomon’s Stables into a mosque. Hundreds of tons of soil and rocks were trucked out during the construction, and Israeli historians were outraged. Israeli authorities later found many Jewish Temple relics in the dirt trucked from the site, including coins with Hebrew writing that refer to the Temple. The waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples, which many Palestinian leaders say never existed. That debate continues to rage. “The Aqsa Mosque was an Islamic mosque since the world was created,” said Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, just last month. “It was never anything other than a mosque.”





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