Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News September 12, 2019

Sep 11 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 12, 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 September 12:”I recall an old sying from school that goes ‘little drops of water, little grains of sand/ build a mighty ocean and a mighty land.’Poor Trump is going to discover that it won’t be a single act of arrogant stupidity that will dethrone him but a constant drum fire of small acts, crimes and misdemeanors that will soon enough begin to resonate with the electorate. Watch the Republican Senate beginning to desert him one by one and some small incident will trigger a public reaction that will remove him from the Oval Office. There will be nocturnal bonfires,both domestic and foreign, of sheer joy when that happens and his recent decline in public approval to a miserable 39% is an indicator of coming winds.”

The Table of Contents

  • John Bolton is finally gone. But can his path of destruction be reversed?
  • Trump Foreign Policy as Theater of the Absurd
  • Russia confirms alleged US spy worked in Kremlin
  • Trump administration announces plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes
  • ‘UVA has ruined us’: Health system sues thousands of patients, seizing paychecks and putting liens on homes
  • For rural America, Medicare for All is a matter of life or death
  • California approves statewide rent control to deal with housing crunch
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The Real Truth for One and All!

 

John Bolton is finally gone. But can his path of destruction be reversed?

Washington DC’s most famous warmonger might have lost his job, but this probably won’t be the last we hear of Bolton

September 11, 2019

by Ben Armbruster

The Guardian

Our long international nightmare of John Bolton is over. For now.

Did Bolton resign? Was he fired? It doesn’t matter. John Bolton is now no longer in charge of US International security policy and thus, we can all breathe a little easier.

Indeed, Bolton’s top priority has always been to go to war with Iran. One of the biggest concerns among those of us who understand that going to war with Iran is a bad idea was that Bolton, an experienced bureaucrat, would take advantage of a naive commander-in-chief and use innocuous enough policy decisions to slow-walk Donald Trump into a corner where war was the only way out.

Bolton – who has made a career of scuttling arms control agreements – also had his sights on cancelling the Obama-era New Start Treaty, an agreement between the US and Russia that placed limits on the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles, bombers and launchers.

Bolton has spent the better part of his tenure in the Trump administration disparaging the treaty, repeatedly signaling that the US wouldn’t put much effort toward renewing it before it expires in February 2021.

But while our collective outlook going forward is promising without Bolton anywhere near the levers of power, the trail of flames he has left behind will have lasting damage.

Yes he wasn’t successful in convincing Trump to attack Iran, but Bolton helped create the conditions for war by pushing Trump to finally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal mere weeks after assuming the top national security job. As predicted (even by the CIA), that policy has turned out to be a complete disaster, with the US isolated from its European allies, Iran’s nuclear program less constrained, and the Trump administration failing miserably in its quest to rein in Iran’s nefarious regional behavior or to spark internal strife toward the regime.

And even though Bolton’s departure gives New Start a new lease on life, he convinced Trump to ditch diplomatic efforts at saving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and instead shepherded a US withdrawal, which officially went into effect last month. Experts are already citing the move as the catalyst for a renewed cold war-esque arms race.

Mere months before joining the Trump administration, Bolton attempted to make a legal argument for an unprovoked first strike on North Korea, and he made sure to preserve that option by standing in the way of Trump’s diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions (Trump himself created) with Kim Jong-un. Bolton’s efforts became so intrusive that Trump apparently banished him to Mongolia when he decided to pay a visit to Kim at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

It’s unclear whether we will be able to reverse Bolton’s path of destruction, as it probably also depends on whether Trump wins the presidential election again.

But the tragic subplot to the Trump-era Bolton debacle is the persistence of the constant revolving door of failure in Washington that is fueled by deep pockets and an insider media environment that is incapable of holding anyone to account.

Bolton’s disastrous ideas have been thoroughly discredited and his political and policy career should have been cast aside long ago, perhaps even after the Senate declined to bless his nomination as US ambassador to the United Nations back in 2005 because of his extremist views.

But instead, his post-Bush administration career flourished, presiding over a grotesquely anti-Muslim “thinktank”; landing a lucrative gig as a Fox News contributor; regularly calling for war on the op-ed pages of, for example, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times; generally hanging around Washington undeterred from, as Media Matters put it, establishing “a record of warmongering, bigotry and pushing conspiracy theories”; and then ultimately becoming one of the most powerful national security officials in the US government.

It’s likely then that we have not heard the last of John Bolton. He will probably return to Fox News or the rightwing machine will give him piles of cash to continue his quest to kill American diplomacy, and perhaps even run for president.

Ben Armbruster is the communications director for Win Without War and previously served as national security editor at ThinkProgress

 

Trump Foreign Policy as Theater of the Absurd

A nightmare that one never wakes up from

September 10, 2019

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

One might be forgiven for thinking that the foreign policy of the United States is some kind of theatrical performance, like a comic opera, with new characters appearing on stage willy-nilly and then being driven off after committing an incredible faux pas only to be replaced by even more grotesquely clownish figures. Unfortunately, while the musical chairs and plot twists contrived by a Goldoni or Moliere generally have a cheerful ending, the same cannot be said about what has been taking place in the White House.

The latest White House somewhat unexpected departure was that of ex-real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt, who has been hanging around for over two years putting together the Deal of the Century for the Middle East. The Deal will reportedly end forever the possibility of any real Palestinian state but has run into a problem because Israel does not want its hands tied in any way while the Saudis and friends are reluctant to come up with the cash to fund the arrangement. Back to square one, though the Administration has replaced Greenblatt with thirty-year old Avi Berkowitz, whose only qualification for the position is that he is a friend of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and whose most recent job at the White House consisted of managing “daily logistics like getting coffee…” The president is nevertheless still insisting that the peace plan will be revealed in all its glory after the Israeli election on September 17th.

Another administration notable who now appears to be waiting for the hook to come out from offstage and take him away is National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton has long been regarded by those who still believe that Donald Trump actually has a heart and a mind as the eminence grise seated behind the throne who has encouraged the president’s bad angels. That may indeed be so, but leaks are now suggesting that the president has been disagreeing with his chief minister and marginalizing his presence in meetings. But as bad as Bolton truly is, one should not dismiss from consideration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom, like Bolton, have exhibited extraordinary ability to provide bad advice and to simultaneously say and do stupid things.

Pence’s recent error-plagued trip to Ireland left one exasperated Irish journalist complaining that it was as if the Vice President had been invited to someone’s home and had “shat on the new carpet in the spare room, the one you bought specially for him” before his departure. Pence had unwisely made comments about Brexit that were both uninformed and regarded as “humiliating” by his hosts. But his real crime was that he blamed his boss for the ridiculous decision to stay at a Trump property 180 miles away from Dublin. President Trump denied the claim and, as he does not like being embarrassed by his subordinates, there is already talk that Pence will be replaced on the Republican ticket in 2020. Unfortunately, Attila the Hun is no longer available but it is certain that the GOP will be able to come up with someone else who will, like Pence, offend almost everyone. Tom Cotton maybe? Nikki Haley?

Now that North Korea is not cooperating with Trump’s distinctive brand of diplomacy, the Great Negotiator has turned to America (and Israel’s) enemy number one, suggesting a sit down with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The only problem with that is that Rouhani is not playing because the United States has been engaged in nothing less than “maximum pressure” economic warfare against his country. End the sanctions and Rouhani would consider talking directly.

Israel, of course, is deeply concerned lest American and Iranian heads of government actually get together to discuss things. According to some observers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to be somewhat nervous over that possibility and wants to get a hotter war going in the region to disrupt any consideration of entente between Tehran and Washington. That is why the Israelis have been escalating their attacks against claimed “Iranian targets” in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, an initiative intended to provoke an Iranian reaction which will then be escalated by Netanyahu to draw Washington in supporting Israel while also putting an end to any consideration of top-level talks.

As a side show to the deep thinking going on in the White House, there is the Iranian tanker saga. One might recall that the tanker Adrian Darya 1, which claimed to be registered in Panama while carrying alleged Iranian oil allegedly bound for Syria, was halted in Gibraltar by the British at the request of the American State Department even though it was in international waters at the time. The U.S. has been sanctioning nearly everything having to do with Iran, to include its export of oil, and is also enforcing sanctions imposed on the government in Syria. Pompeo claimed, in fact, that he had “reliable information” the ship was transporting oil to Syria in defiance of wide-ranging U.S. and European Union initiated sanctions directed against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over false claims that it had been using chemical weapons. The Treasury Department added that the vessel was “blocked property” under an anti-terrorist order, and “anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned.”

After six weeks detention, the British released the tanker on August 18th when a Gibraltar judge ruled that there were no grounds for seizing it in the first place, adding that it could not be turned over to Washington. Since that time, it has been making its way across the Mediterranean headed for ports unknown. It is, inevitably, being stalked by the United States Navy, which may or may not attempt to take control of it before it heads to shore in Lebanon or Syria.

The entire situation is farcical, but here is where the fun comes in: Brian Hook, a true Trumpean know-nothing who somehow has been designated U.S. Grand Poobah for Iran, sent an email on August 26th to the ship’s Indian captain Akhilesh Kumar. The message said “This is Brian Hook . . . I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo… I am writing with good news.”

The “good news” consisted of an offer to give Captain Kumar millions of dollars if he would sail the Adrian Darya 1 to a port that would impound the ship for the U.S. Kumar did not respond to the offer to turn pirate and steal the vessel, so “Captain” Hook dropped the hammer in a second email, writing that: “With this money you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age. If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you.”

The sublimely ridiculous proposal to Kumar comes on top of a similar appeal from the Department of State, which last week offered rewards of up to $15 million for information that would enable the disruption of the financial mechanisms used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). State, acting through its humorously named “Rewards for Justice” program, will pay money for any information regarding the revenue sources of the IRGC, which was listed as a foreign terrorist organization in April.

The State Department announced the rewards at a briefing late last Wednesday morning, with Brian Hook saying that “The IRGC trains, funds, and equips proxy organizations across the Middle East. Iran wants these groups to extend the borders of the regime’s revolution and sow chaos and sectarian violence. We are using every available diplomatic and economic tool to disrupt these operations.”

Having experienced schemes involving paying rewards for information while I was overseas with the CIA, I can with considerable confidence predict that the U.S. Embassies in Turkey and Dubai will be flooded with desperate Iranians peddling what stories they have made up in exchange for money or visas. The actual information obtained will be approaching zero.

The American beneficence towards the Middle East currently also includes, apparently, intervening yet again in Syria to prevent the Syrian Army and its Iranian and Russian allies from eliminating the last major terrorist pocket in the country’s Idlib province. Fact is, it is the United States being led by the nose by Israel that has both supported terrorists and created most of the unrest and violence in the Middle East, central Asia and North Africa.

Additionally, also last week, the Treasury Department’s Office for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence headed by Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker, an Israeli, sanctioned more than two-dozen entities and individuals as well as 11 ships allegedly supporting IRGC oil shipments going to Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and other “illicit actors.” One has to wonder if the Treasury’s Office “for Terrorism” might actually be “for Terrorism” as long as it is carried out by the U.S. and its “best friend and closest ally” in the Middle East.

All in all, one hell of a week. A Greenblatt gone replaced by a Berkowitz, possibly Bolton and Pence going, piracy on the high seas, cash for info schemes, and lots more sanctions. Can’t get much more exciting than that, but let’s wait for next week to see what Donald Trump will give his good buddy Benjamin Netanyahu as a pre-electoral gift. Rumor has it that it will include American recognition of Israel’s right to annex most of the rest of the West Bank plus security guarantees that the U.S. will have the Jewish state’s back no matter what it seeks to do with its neighbors. Stay tuned!

 

Russia confirms alleged US spy worked in Kremlin

Moscow downplayed US media reports that said the CIA spy had access to Vladimir Putin and was extracted in 2017 over concerns of media exposure.

September 10, 2019

DW

The Kremlin on Tuesday confirmed that an alleged US spy had worked in Russia’s presidential administration.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the person did not have direct access to President Vladimir Putin and that he was a low-level official “fired several years ago,” TASS news agency reported.

“His job was not classified as a senior position,” Peskov said, adding that he had no information about whether the person had been working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Peskov’s remarks come in the wake of reports by US broadcaster CNN and  The New York Times newspaper that said the spy was extracted from Russia in 2017 over concerns for his safety.

The Kremlin spokesman played down the reports that the man had been extracted.

“All these speculations in US media outlets about urgently extracting him, from whom he was saved and so on — this, you know, is a kind of a ‘Pulp Fiction,'” said Peskov.

Both the Times and CNN said the CIA asset had been embedded in Russia’s government for years and had reached the higher echelons within the Kremlin.

According to the New York Times, the spy’s proximity to Putin made him one of the CIA’s most valuable Russian assets.

He allegedly delivered evidence to US intelligence of Putin’s directive to interfere in the 2016 elections in favor of Trump and against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the Times said.

Exposure and extraction

The CIA reportedly tried to extract the asset in 2016, after extensive details of Russia’s election interference were released, leading to increased media exposure and rumors of a mole within the Kremlin.

The asset is said to have refused the offer. But the agency approached him again in 2017 and this time he agreed.

Citing White House and intelligence community sources, CNN claimed that concerns over Trump and his Cabinet’s mishandling of classified information contributed to the decision to pull the spy.

In particular, the intelligence community was reportedly concerned after Trump confiscated a translator’s notes from a private meeting with Putin in 2017, CNN said.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham blasted the network for the claim. “CNN’s reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger,” she said.

The CIA has also denied the reports. “Misguided speculation that the president’s handling of our nation’s most sensitive intelligence — which he has access to each and every day — drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate,” said Director of Public Affairs Brittany Bramell.

 

Trump administration announces plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes

September 11, 2019

by Jeff Mason

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration announced plans on Wednesday to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves in a crackdown on vaping after a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses were tied to the practice.

President Donald Trump and top U.S. officials expressed concern about data showing that flavored vaping products had drawn millions of children into nicotine addiction.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that, with Trump’s blessing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was working on a “guidance document” that would lead to a ban of all vape flavors aside from tobacco flavoring.

“Once the FDA would finalize this guidance, we would begin enforcement actions to remove all such products from the marketplace,” Azar told reporters during a meeting with the president and first lady Melania Trump in the Oval Office.

The ban would include mint and menthol flavoring as well as bubble gum, candy, fruit, alcohol and other flavors, he said.

Tobacco flavoring would be allowed to remain, subject to companies’ filing for approval from the FDA. Even that would be at risk if the government determined children were attracted to it or that it was being marketed to them, Azar said.

The move is the most sweeping action yet by the U.S. government to crack down on e-cigarette usage.

The FDA in March formally proposed guidelines that would prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, except mint and menthol, in traditional retail outlets. Under that proposal, which had not been finalized, e-cigarette makers could still sell flavored products online and in age-restricted stores, such as vape shops.

Wednesday’s proposal goes much further, banning the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products across all retail channels, aside from tobacco-flavored products.

Six deaths have been linked to vaping and U.S. public health officials are investigating 450 cases of potential vaping-related lung illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory.

“We have a problem in our country, it’s a new problem … and it’s called vaping, especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children,” Trump said. “There have been deaths and there have been a lot of other problems.”

SURGE IN USE BY ADOLESCENTS

Juul Labs Inc, which dominates the U.S. e-cigarette market, has faced withering criticism over the last two years after becoming wildly popular among teenagers. The company has taken steps to try to reduce its appeal among youth, including pulling flavors except mint and menthol from traditional retail stores, suspending its social media accounts and toughening age verification online.

In December, Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc made a $12.8 billion investment in Juul, taking a 35% stake.

Wednesday’s move by the White House comes after more than a year of mounting pressure from lawmakers, public health advocates and parents looking to end marketing of products aimed at youths.

In recent months state and local governments have also stepped in. In June, San Francisco approved a ban on the sale of all e-cigarette products, and last week Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes in her state.

The nationwide investigation led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA has not definitively linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient, although health officials have expressed suspicions about the effects of inhaling vitamin E acetate, which is contained in some vaping products.

The FDA has urged consumers to avoid inhaling vitamin E acetate, buying vaping products on the street, using marijuana-derived oil with the products or modifying a store-bought vape product.

Wednesday’s proposal goes much further, banning the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products across all retail channels, aside from tobacco-flavored products.

Six deaths have been linked to vaping and U.S. public health officials are investigating 450 cases of potential vaping-related lung illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory.

“We have a problem in our country, it’s a new problem … and it’s called vaping, especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children,” Trump said. “There have been deaths and there have been a lot of other problems.”

SURGE IN USE BY ADOLESCENTS

Juul Labs Inc, which dominates the U.S. e-cigarette market, has faced withering criticism over the last two years after becoming wildly popular among teenagers. The company has taken steps to try to reduce its appeal among youth, including pulling flavors except mint and menthol from traditional retail stores, suspending its social media accounts and toughening age verification online.

In December, Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc made a $12.8 billion investment in Juul, taking a 35% stake.

Wednesday’s move by the White House comes after more than a year of mounting pressure from lawmakers, public health advocates and parents looking to end marketing of products aimed at youths.

In recent months state and local governments have also stepped in. In June, San Francisco approved a ban on the sale of all e-cigarette products, and last week Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes in her state.

The nationwide investigation led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA has not definitively linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient, although health officials have expressed suspicions about the effects of inhaling vitamin E acetate, which is contained in some vaping products.

The FDA has urged consumers to avoid inhaling vitamin E acetate, buying vaping products on the street, using marijuana-derived oil with the products or modifying a store-bought vape product.

 

‘UVA has ruined us’: Health system sues thousands of patients, seizing paychecks and putting liens on homes

September 9, 2019

by Jay Hancock and Elizabeth Lucas

The Washington Post

Heather Waldron and John Hawley are losing their four-bedroom house in the hills above Blacksburg, Va. A teenage daughter, one of their five children, sold her clothes for spending money. They worried about paying the electric bill. Financial disaster, they say, contributed to their divorce, finalized in April.

Their money problems began when the University of Virginia Health System pursued the couple with a lawsuit and a lien on their home to recoup $164,000 in charges for Waldron’s emergency surgery in 2017.

The family has lots of company: Over six years ending in June 2018, the health system and its doctors sued former patients more than 36,000 times for over $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy, a Kaiser Health News analysis has found.

Unpaid medical bills are a leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy, with hospitals from Memphis to Baltimore criticized for their role in pushing families over the financial edge. But UVA Health System stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it goes after payment, pursuing poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they’re worth, according to court records, hospital documents and interviews with hospital officials and dozens of patients.

UVA sued patients for as little as $13.91 and as much as $1 million during most of that period, until July 2017, when it restricted lawsuits to those owing more than $1,000, the analysis shows.

Every year, the health system sued about 100 of its own employees who also happened to be patients. It garnished thousands of paychecks, largely from workers at lower-pay employers such as Walmart, where UVA took wages more than 800 times.

Under a Virginia program designed to help state and local governments collect debt, it also seized $22 million in state tax refunds to patients with outstanding medical bills in the last six fiscal years — most of it without court judgments, said health system spokesman Eric Swensen.

Over many years, it filed thousands of property liens from Albemarle County all the way to Georgia.

Beyond its recovery of debts, UVA hit some former patients with an additional 15 percent for legal costs, plus 6 percent interest on their unpaid bills, which over the course of years can add up to more than the original bill.

The health system also has the most restrictive eligibility guidelines for financial assistance to patients of any major hospital system in Virginia, interviews and written policies show. Savings of only $4,000 in a retirement account can disqualify a family from aid, even if its income is barely above poverty level.

The hospital ranked No. 1 in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report is taxpayer supported and state-owned, not a company with profit motives and shareholder demands. Like other nonprofit hospitals, it pays no federal, state or local taxes on the presumption it offers charity care and other community benefits valued at least as much as those breaks. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), a pediatric neurologist, oversees its board.

UVA officials defended the institution’s practices as legally required and necessary “to generate positive operating income” to invest in medical education, new facilities, research and the latest technology.

They point to the Virginia Debt Collection Act of 1988, which requires state agencies to “aggressively collect” money owed.

During the six-year period studied, UVA had an estimated six million visits and cared for those patients “regardless of their ability to pay,” said Swensen, the health system spokesman.

“For the vast majority of patients, we are able to agree upon workable payment plans without filing a legal claim,” he said. Suing patients or using collection agencies are “a last resort,” he added.

Before patients got court summons, they would have received “four to five” bills over several months, along with instructions about how to apply for financial assistance, Swensen said.

During the most recent fiscal year, which ended in June, he said, UVA approved almost 10,000 applications for assistance under charity care guidelines set by the state. Most of those patients paid nothing beyond a $6 co-pay.

In addition, UVA is undertaking “a comprehensive review” of its charity care rules and “considering policies to provide additional financial assistance to low-income patients,” he said.

Swensen declined to discuss the circumstances of individual patients, saying the hospital was bound by patient confidentiality. UVA Health CEO Pamela Sutton-Wallace declined an interview request. A spokeswoman for Northam did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Though there is no national data on hospital debt collection, UVA’s pursuit of patients goes beyond that of a number of other institutions.

Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has sued roughly 240 patients a year on average since 2009, according to a May report in the Baltimore Sun. UVA, by comparison, often sues that many former patients in a week, and averages more than 6,000 cases a year, court data show.

Private, nonprofit Yale New Haven Health System files liens only if a bill is over $10,000, and then only if the property is worth at least $300,000, a spokesman said. Falls-Church, Va.-based Inova Health says it does not file liens on patient homes or garnish wages.

Tenet Healthcare, a national, for-profit chain whose stock trades on Wall Street, says it does not sue uninsured patients who are unemployed or who lack significant assets other than their house.

Industry standards are few and vague. The American Hospital Association says its members follow Internal Revenue Service guidelines, which merely require hospitals to have a financial assistance policy and to make “reasonable efforts” to determine whether a patient qualifies for help before initiating collections.

Patients find themselves unable to pay UVA bills for many reasons: They are uninsured or sometimes have short-term coverage that does not pay for treatment of preexisting illnesses. Or they are out of network, or have a “high-deductible” plan — increasingly common coverage nationwide that can require patients to pay more than $6,000 before insurance kicks in. Virginia’s Medicaid expansion, which took effect this year, covers families with low incomes but is still projected to leave hundreds of thousands uninsured.

Patients also have trouble because like many U.S. hospitals, UVA bills people lacking coverage at rates far higher than what insurance companies pay on behalf of their members. Such bills often have little connection to the cost of care, experts say. Insurers obtain huge discounts off hospital sticker prices — 70 percent on average in UVA’s case, according to documents it files with Medicare.

UVA offers uninsured patients 20 percent off to start and another 15 to 20 percent if they pay promptly, Swensen said. Few are able to do that. Patients are subject to collections and lawsuits if they do not pay, or arrange to do so, within four months, he said.

The $164,000 billed to Waldron for intestinal surgery was more than twice what a commercial insurer would have paid for her care, according to benefits firm WellRithms, which analyzed bills for Kaiser Health News using cost reports UVA files with the government. Charges on her bill included $2,000 for a $20 feeding tube.

UVA would not disclose basic information about patient lawsuits, liens and garnishments. Reporters reconstructed the hospital’s practices by talking directly with patients, analyzing court documents and hospital bills and observing the legal process in court. They gathered records in Charlottesville to supplement a courts database compiled by nonprofit Code for Hampton Roads, which works to improve government technology.

The picture that emerges is one of little accountability for UVA— or of redress for its patients.

Waldron, 38, an insurance agent and former nurse, appreciates the treatment she received for an intestinal malformation that almost killed her. But, she says, “UVA has ruined us.”

‘Here for a hospital case?’

District Court Judge William Barkley doesn’t announce the UVA cases as he takes the bench each Thursday in the historic brick courthouse in Charlottesville. At one hearing in March, he waves a thick stack of litigation at defendants, asking, “Is anybody here for a hospital case?”

A recent NPR report noted that nonprofit Mary Washington Healthcare, in Fredericksburg, Va., had 300 cases in court in one month. (The hospital said it was suspending such patient suits after that report.) Barkley’s court often handles 300 UVA suits in a week, court data show.

The health system sends collections representatives, not lawyers, who sit near the judge’s bench. They give patients two weeks to commit to an interest-free payment plan, according to courtroom meetings witnessed by a reporter. Otherwise, “we’re already going to be reviewing it for garnishment,” a UVA official tells a car accident victim. With bills often in the tens of thousands of dollars, even the five-year, interest-free plans are unaffordable, patients said.

Swensen said those deadlines are imposed at least 150 to 200 days after they were sent their first bills.

Zann Nelson, sued by UVA for $23,849 a few years ago, is a rare patient who fought back. The now 70-year-old Reva resident was admitted with newly diagnosed uterine cancer, bleeding and in pain when she signed an open-ended payment agreement. In court, she argued it was so vague as to be unenforceable.

She lost. The judge, according to court records, said that Nelson had “the ability to decline the surgery” if she didn’t like the terms of the deal. She lived with a lien on her farm until she managed to pay off the debt.

‘Can’t afford to go back’

The medical center, the flagship of UVA Health System, earned $554 million in profit over the six years ending June 2018, and holds stocks, bonds and other investments worth $1 billion, according to financial statements. CEO Sutton-Wallace makes $750,000, with bonus incentives that could push her annual pay close to $1 million, according to a copy of her employment contract, obtained under public information law.

Yet UVA offers more limited financial assistance than any other major health system in Virginia, according to an analysis of policies at organizations including Inova, Sentara Healthcare, Riverside Health and Carilion Clinic.

To qualify for help, UVA patients must earn less than 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines and own less than about $3,000 in assets, not counting a house, according to the hospital’s website and guidelines UVA files with the state.

Carilion Clinic, by contrast, provides aid to families with income up to 400 percent of poverty guidelines and assets less than $100,000 other than a house. If bills at Riverside Health exceed household income over 12 months, the hospital forgives the whole amount.

The only other policy in Virginia similar to UVA’s is that of VCU Health, a sister state hospital system with the same income and asset guidelines. In July, VCU said it started offering help to some patients with “catastrophic” and “prohibitively expensive” bills who don’t otherwise qualify.

“We are considering those updates,” Swensen said of VCU’s changes.

UVA sued Carolyn Davis, 55, of Halifax County, for $7,448 to pay for nerve injections to treat back pain that she hadn’t realized would be out of network.

Her husband is a cook at Hardee’s, taking home $500 to $600 a week, she said. UVA refused their application for financial assistance because his Hardee’s 401(k) balance of $6,000 makes them too well off, she said.

“We don’t have that kind of money,” Davis said. The hospital insisted on a monthly payment of $75. She was meeting it by charging it to her credit card at 22 percent interest.

Charges for Davis’s treatment were about twice as much as what a commercial insurer would have paid, according to an estimate by WellRithms.

Leigh Ann Beach, 37, of Palmyra experienced how differently hospitals treat those who cannot pay after hurting her ankle in a bike accident.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, which first treated her, canceled the entire $4,650 bill based on her family’s income and the need to support her seven children, her paperwork shows. UVA, where she got surgery and metal implants, sued her for $9,505 and rejected her request for financial help.

A UVA representative said she could sell some acreage from her small rural home to pay the bill, she said. She limps and is in pain, but “I can’t afford to go back,” she said.

Resorting to bankruptcy

When Jesse Lynn, 42, of Orange County, bought short-term coverage to tide him over between policies, he and his wife, Renee, didn’t realize the plan considered Jesse’s old back problems a preexisting illness, and therefore would not pay for treatment.

After back surgery at Culpeper Medical Center, a UVA affiliate, he came out with a bill for about $230,000, Renee Lynn said.

The surgeon reduced his portion of the charges — from $32,000 to $4,500, which they thought was reasonable. They asked for a similar break or a payment delay from UVA “We are not a lending institution,” the billing office told her, she said.

The Lynns decided bankruptcy was their only option.

“I probably see at least a couple a month,” said Marshall Slayton, a Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer, holding up a new file. “This is the third case this week.”

UVA says it doesn’t foreclose on primary residences. But often a UVA lawsuit leads to home loss because patients’ credit is downgraded and they cannot keep up with hospital payment plans and mortgages.

Property liens do give UVA a claim on the equity in patients’ homes.

“We see a lot of them,” said Tina Merritt, a partner with True North Title in Blacksburg. “And a lot of people don’t even know until they go to sell the property.”

It took Priti Chati, 62, of Roanoke six years to pay a $44,000 UVA bill for brain surgery and have a home lien removed last year, court records show. The health system seized bank funds intended for her daughters’ college costs, she said. She sold jewelry and borrowed from friends, eventually paying more than $70,000 including interest, she said.

Paul Baker, 41, of Madison County, ran a small lawn service and with his wife, owes more than $500,000 for treatment after their truck rolled over. He is grateful to UVA “for saving my life,” he says. But he is “frustrated they are ultimately taking my farm” when he sells or dies, as a result of UVA’s lawsuit.

Indigent care

Swensen said the medical center gave $322 million in financial assistance and charity care in fiscal 2018. But legal and finance experts say that’s not a reliable estimate.

The $322 million “merely indicates the amount they would have charged arbitrarily” before negotiated insurer discounts, said Ge Bai, an accounting and health policy professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

The figure is “based on customary reporting standards used by hospitals across the U.S.,” Swensen said.

Insurers would have paid UVA only $88 million for that care, according to an accounting of unpaid bills presented last year to the UVA Health board. Even that unpaid figure didn’t come out of UVA’s purse since federal and state governments provided “funding earmarked to cover indigent care” for almost all of it — $83.7 million, according to Bai.

The real, “unfunded” cost of UVA’s indigent care: $4.3 million, or 1.3 percent of what it claims, according to the document.

“That’s nothing,” given how much money UVA makes, Bai said. “Nonprofit hospitals advance their charitable mission primarily through providing indigent care.”

The hospital recorded another $109 million in uncollectible debts not considered indigent care, the document shows.

Nacy Sexton was close to graduating from the University of Virginia when his enrollment was blocked because of an outstanding medical bill. Nacy Sexton was close to graduating from the University of Virginia when his enrollment was blocked because of an outstanding medical bill. Nacy Sexton, who is in his 30s and lives outside Richmond, hoped he might get a break on his medical bills as a student enrolled at the University of Virginia. He was close to finishing a bachelor’s degree in 2015 when he was hospitalized for lupus. When he was unable to cover the reduced bill offered by the hospital, the university blocked his enrollment, a notice he received from student financial services shows.

“The university places enrollment holds on student accounts for many reasons, including unpaid tuition and medical bills,” said university spokesman Wesley Hester. This semester, the university has “active holds” on 20 students because of unpaid health system bills, which might or might not block their attendance, depending on when the hold was placed, he said.

Sexton still has about $4,000 to go on a bill that he said was more than $30,000 before UVA’s discount, a fundraising campaign and other payments. He hopes to re-enroll and finish his degree in education next year.

“When you get sick, why should it affect your education?” he asked.

Shirley Perry, once a registered nurse at UVA, became chronically ill, lost her job and insurance, and then needed treatment from her former employer. UVA sued her for $218,730 plus $32,809 in legal fees. She died last year at age 51, with a UVA lien on her townhouse. It was auctioned off on Aug. 7 at the Albemarle County Courthouse.

Waldron’s ‘devastation’

For Heather Waldron, the path from “having everything and being able to buy things and feeling pretty good” to “devastation” began when she learned after her UVA hospitalization that a computer error involving a policy bought on HealthCare.gov had led her insurance to lapse.

She is now on food stamps and talking to bankruptcy lawyers. A bank began foreclosure proceedings in August on the Blacksburg house she shared with her family. The home will be sold to pay off the mortgage. She expects UVA to take whatever is left.

Hancock is a senior correspondent and Lucas is Data Editor for Kaiser Health News (KHN), a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

 

Comment: The one hospital system in Virginia that has kept away from screwing poor patients is the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, which, in Charlottesville, has a reputation for quality and character. Once, we had tin-horin for-profit “universities” screwing their students with huge student loans they could never repay and now we see ostensibly caring hostptals ruining their poorer patients One supposes next we will discover the Humane Society selling kittens to hamburger wholesalers or learn that the sacred Falwell ministry leaders embezzling millions of dollars from their dim-witted followers..

 

For rural America, Medicare for All is a matter of life or death

Insurance firms are gobbling up airtime in Iowa to attack Medicare for All. They claim it would hurt the very same hospitals their business model has spent years bleeding dry

September 11, 2019

by Barb Kalbach

The Guardian

Rural hospitals are often the economic heart of a community. Worse, when minutes mean the difference between life and death, every hospital that closes leaves patients in danger. Since 2010, 113 rural hospitals have closed their doors, leaving more than 30 million Americans an hour or more away from critical care. As many as 700 more are in danger of closing.

Meanwhile hospitals that remain open are often cutting services to survive. Since 2000, 33 of 118 rural and small-town hospitals in Iowa have closed their birthing units.

There are many reasons rural hospitals are hurting, but for-profit insurance companies are the nail in the coffin. Over decades, these multibillion-dollar companies have driven premium costs up and put profits over patients. More and more patients can’t afford insurance and can’t pay their hospital bills, leaving rural hospitals and hospitals in low-income areas left holding the bag.

The insurance companies are working hard to shift the blame and stop the movement for Medicare for All. They are gobbling up airtime in Iowa and across rural America to attack Medicare for All. They claim it would hurt the very same hospitals their business model has spent years bleeding dry.

With Medicare for All gaining steam, it’s no surprise that big pharma and multibillion-dollar for-profit insurance companies are responding with distortions and scare tactics. We have seen this before. The same industry-backed tricksters fought hard – and failed – to defeat the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

In spite of their fearmongering, the ACA didn’t cause disaster. In fact, states who expanded Medicaid under the ACA saw fewer hospitals close while states who refused saw rural hospital closures spike. The greatest concentration of hospital closures has been in the south, where a number of states have not expanded Medicaid.

Now, industry front groups such as the Partnership for America’s Health Future (founded to stop Medicare for All, according to their own documents) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) are pouring millions into deceptive advertising to scare voters about Medicare for All and attack any plan that could undermine their ability to make billions off patients.

We won’t be so easily fooled. Americans know that we deserve guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare, including hospital visits, dental, vision, mental health care and dignified long-term care. We know that no one should have to beg for help on GoFundMe to pay for life-saving care. We know that doctors and hospitals can’t keep paying the cost of care for patients who can’t afford insurance. Medicare for All means that rural hospitals would no longer be burdened by uncompensated care. A little-known provision of the Washington representative Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill is that it includes funding to invest directly in areas without enough health coverage, including rural and low-income urban areas.

The industry is hanging on for dear life to a business model that returns obscene profits for insurance executives at the expense of cancer patients, cardiac patients and people struggling to pay for their insulin.

We can’t let big pharma and billion-dollar insurance companies pull a bait and switch. Rural America needs Medicare for All, not more big corporations lining their own pockets and paying PR firms to hide the truth.

 

California approves statewide rent control to deal with housing crunch

September 11, 2019

Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California lawmakers on Wednesday passed a statewide cap on annual rent increases for most tenants, the boldest step yet to address an affordable housing crunch that has helped push people into the streets.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5% after inflation and takes effect from March of this year. It also imposes restriction on evictions without cause – a significant factor in the state’s burgeoning homeless population.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has put affordable housing at the top of his priorities since taking office in January, brokered the negotiations on the legislation. He said he would sign the bill, one of a batch of laws being passed in the final week of the legislative session.

“In this year’s State of the State address, I asked the Legislature to send me a strong renter protection package,” Newsom said in a statement after the bill passed. “Today, they sent me the strongest package in America.”

The new eviction protections will help “provide California with important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis,” he said.

Last year, California voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed cities and counties to impose much stricter versions of local rent controls

The cap does not change anything for tenants already under rent control rules in California cities and towns.

The California Business Roundtable said it supported the legislation because it creates “a statewide standard that will put more than 95 percent of multifamily units under a consistent and uniform rent standard.”

The legislation provides “certainty to both renters and developers during our ongoing housing crisis,” California Business Roundtable President Rob Lapsley said in the statement.

About 9.5 million renters in California spend at least 30% of their income on housing costs, according to a recent estimate by the University of California’s Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

California is the third state to impose statewide rent controls. Oregon in March passed a measure limiting annual increases to 7% plus inflation. New York state enacted rent controls in Jun

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; writing by Bill Tarrant; editing by Darren Schuettler & Shri Navaratnam)

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 12, 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. 39

Date: Monday, September 30. 1996

Commenced: 12:23 PM CST

Concluded: 12:47 PM CST

RTC: Gregory?

GD: Yes, Robert. I am letting you know that I got a letter from Critchfield today.

RTC: Excellent! What did he say?

GD: If you know the score, a great deal and if you don’t, it’s still interesting. Shall I read it to you?

RTC: Not on the phone. Can you copy it and send it to me at home?

GD: He says that you spoke well of me and that you said I was a former intelligence employee, just as you said he would. He is very eager to get ahold of me to find out what I know about Mueller and who told me.

RTC: Oh, he’s a very alarmed person, Gregory. They all are.

GD: He did mention that his ex-CIA friends were all in a tizzy. Some believed me and other said that none of it could be true.

RTC: That’s typical, Gregory. We always had members who laughed at everything. You could tell them today was Monday and they would say, “Well, that remains to be seen.” How did he leave it?

GD: He is most insistent that I call him at home.

RTC: But be careful of that, Gregory. He’ll tape you. He wants to find out what you know about Mueller….have you mentioned Kronthal yet?

GD: I haven’t responded to the letter, Robert, but when we talk, I will.

RTC: He’ll ask you if Corson told you this. Say that he did not. Say that Mueller did. Also tell him that the Company terminated Kronthal because he was a faggot and was being blackmailed by the Russians. Got that?

GD: I do.

RTC: This might prove to be very interesting. Be sure you tape him. Do you have the equipment for that?

GD: I do indeed, Robert.

RTC: And be very accurate about Gehlen. No interesting stories.

GD: Robert, please give me some credit, won’t you? I’ve been doing this sort of crap for years now and I haven’t put my foot into it yet.

RTC: No, but I’ve never seen you in action.

GD: You will. I have had dealings with the CIA before. My God, what a bunch of idiots. They have two approaches, Robert and only two. They tell you that you’re in very serious trouble but they can help you or they say they want to be my friend. As far as the latter is concerned, I’d much rather try to fuck a rabid bulldog than trust one of them. They couldn’t talk a Mongoloid idiot out of a candy bar. Now, on the other hand, the Russians I know are far better. I’ve never had a bad word from any of them. I would say that the average Russian KGB person, but on a higher level, is far more intelligent and savvy than any CIA person I’ve ever met.

RTC: Ever been to Russia?

GD: Once. As a tourist, of course. I have a nice picture of myself sitting in their headquarters, reading a local paper under a picture of Lenin.

RTC: Are you serious?

GD: Certainly I am. I met one of their leaders when he and I were in Bern. He was a trade delegation person at their embassy of course. And they do know how to feed you. I got rather fond of smoked sturgeon and really good Beluga caviar, all washed down with a first class Crimean wine.

RTC: Who was your friend there?

GD: He’s in the First Directorate but somehow I seem to have forgotten his name. He was on the idiot tube during the Gorbachev problem a few years ago.

RTC: Stocky? Sandy hair? Thinning?

GD: I believe so.

RTC: My God. If I gave you a name would…

GD: No, I would not. Besides, I’m not a spy, Robert. Don’t forget, I’m an analyst, a scenario writer, not a spy. Besides the sturgeon, I enjoy dissecting a complex problem and arriving at a simple answer. It’s not popular with most people, Robert, but it’s almost always right.

RTC: Such vanity.

GD: I prefer to call it a realistic appraisal of facts, Robert.

RTC: Could I see the picture?

GD: I’ll show it to you in person but I would prefer not to send it to you by mail. It might get lost.

RTC: Yes, these things do happen.

GD: I will certainly speak with Critchfield and I will tape the conversation for you. Do you want a copy of the tape?

RTC: No, just play it for me so I can hear what the shit has to say. I’d like you to get him to talk about the Nazis who worked for him. You know Jim liked the Nazis and hired a fair number of them. Grombach made out a list after the war so they could track some of the war crimes boys who might be in POW cages. They called it the Crowcrass List. Jim got his hands on it and used it to recruit from. I told him once this could come back to haunt him if the Jews ever found out about it but Jim just said the Jews were loud-mouthed assholes, his exact words, and Hitler missed the boat when he left any alive.

GD: Do you want me to get him to say that?

RTC: Now that’s an interesting idea, Gregory. Would you?

GD: Why not? I really knew Gehlen, as I’ve said, in ’51. He told me once that his famous report that the Russians were planning to attack western Europe in ’48 was made up because the U.S. Army, who were paying him, wanted him to do this. He said he lied like a rug and that no German intelligence officer would ever believe a word of it. He said the Russians had torn up all the rail lines in their zone and they could no more move troops up to the border than crap sideways. He said that this was designed to scare the shit out of the politicians in Washington so the Army, which was being sharply reduced in size, would be able to rebuild. That meant more money from Congress and more Generals got to keep their jobs. He said it worked like a charm and even Truman was terrified. I assume that’s the real beginning of the Cold War, isn’t it?

RTC: That’s a very good and accurate assessment. Jim told me that Gehlen was a pompous ass whom Hitler had sacked for being a champion bullshit artist but he was very useful to our side in frightening everyone with the Russian boogeyman. It’s all business, isn’t it?

GD: Marx said that. The basis of all wars is economic.

RTC: Absolutely, Gregory, absolutely. But talk about the Nazi SS men he hired, if you can. My God, they say it was like a party rally up at Pullach. If we can get him to admit that he, and others, knew what they were hiring, I’ll have him over the proverbial barrel and then I can have some leverage over him. Why, you don’t need to know.

GD: I don’t care, Robert. From his letter, I would agree he is a gasbag with a bloated opinion of himself. He should never have written that letter because I can see right through it. He’s afraid I know too much and if I knew Mueller, he’s even more frightened Mueller might have said things about him. You know, Robert, if you dance to the tune, you have to pay the piper eventually.

RTC: Do keep the letter and try to get him to put more down on paper.

GD: I will try but I don’t think he’s that stupid. We’ll try the tape and see what I can pry out of him. Mueller got me a list of names working for Gehlen and some background on them. I agree that they hired some people who are going to haunt them if it ever gets out.

RTC: Well, you have a problem there. Your publisher is not big enough to reach too many people and a bigger one would be told right off not to talk to you. I also might suggest several things to you. If anyone tries to come to visit you, and they want to bring a friend, don’t go for it.

GD: Are they planning to shoot me?

RTC: No. The so-called friend would be a government expert. They would examine any documents you had and if there was the slightest hint that you were sitting on something you had no business having, they would go straight into federal court, testify that these papers were highly sensitive and classified and get a friendly judge to issue a replevin order. That means they would send the FBI crashing into your house and grab everything sight. If you had a Rolex it would vanish along with any loose cash and, naturally, all the papers. And one other thing, if you get a very nice offer from some publisher you never heard of, just begging you to let them publish, be warned that they would take the manuscript, send it to Langley and if Langley thought it was dangerous, give you a contract to publish it along with a token payment. Of course they would never publish it but since they paid you and had a contract to publish, you could never find another publisher. They’d get a court order in record time, blocking it. Just some advice.

GD: Thank you. But I never let these morons into my house. Oh, and I have had such invites but once you talk to these jokers, you can see in a few minutes that they know nothing about Mueller, the Gestapo or anything else. They read a book and think they are an expert but most post war books are bullshit written by the far left or by Jews and are completely worthless from a factual point of view. No, it takes me only a few minutes to figure them out and then, suddenly, my dog is tearing the throats out of the Seventh Day Adventists on the front porch and I have to ring off. I don’t know why these Mongoloids don’t find someone with an IQ larger than their neck size. That is a chronic disappointment. There’s no challenge there, Robert. It’s a little like reading Kant to a Mongoloid. Such a waste of my time and so unrewarding when you find they pissed on the rug.

RTC: That should do it for now, Gregory. Keep me posted.

GD: I’m going out of town for a few days but will get back with you next week.

 

(Concluded at 12:47 PM CST)

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

 

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

Lia Shapiro A.k.a. Lia Light

Yes, more Pleiadians. As you may know, Pleiadians are fictional humanoids hailing from the stellar systems surrounding the Pleiades stars who contact “very special” New Age healers and psychics with information about whatever the New Age healers and psychics want to convey information about: common themes include vibrations, Atlantis, orgone or ascending to higher dimensions of consciousness. Pleiadians are apparently very concerned with the well-being of Earth, though unfortunately seem unable to make their concerns known through anything but handwavy word salads. It often turns out that the contactees are, in fact, Pleiadians themselves.

Lia Shapiro, or Lia Light, is one of those who claim that Pleiadians are using her as a channel. Her book, written by aliens about how they have come to Earth to help us evolve, is called Comes the Awakening –Realizing the Divine Nature of Who You Are (yes, even hardened self-help enthusiasts may have second thoughts on that title, but who knows?). We admit that we haven’t read it, but her website is here. Its marketing slogan seems to be “We are her to help raise your frequency”, which would probably not be a good think if she meant frequency, but she probably doesn’t. Another prominent insight on the website,  “AWARENESS brings REALIZATION. Realization causes an Awakening. Awakening will bring you to an in-lightened state. In the Light, you will find your TRUTH…and finally you will know that the POWER IS WITHIN YOU” (random capitalization in the original), suggests that she hasn’t quite mastered the powers of fluffy-slick choprawoo with the slickness required to go mainstream.

The main alien messages seem to be:

– “What the world needs now is love.”

– “The Pleiadians say you control the power of all you are” (“It is important that you understand this” and “vitally important” that you understand that you can share your wisdom with others. Moreover: “[d]uring conversation with others, if you believe in your own truth and tap into your heart and soul for inspiration, you will always find that the Spirit within will help you. No matter where you originally have found answers, your inner resources become your own as you access information, taking what you need and discarding what you do not need.” Or, said more simply: when you talk to people you may evaluate the information they give you. We are lucky to have aliens traveling 400 light-years to teach us this).

-“The Pleiadians call on you to awaken.” Apparently it will cause “a quickening to your vibration that others will perceive and respond to”.

-“Navigat[e] with soul eyes.” Apparently your physical eyes are shit, but you are conditioned to use them because your “Earth home vibrates to a lower frequency, it manifests in a more physical density, thus all the problems associated with such a realm with all its physical characteristics.”

-Finally, “The Pleiadians say you are the Light of God”, that “you are more than you think you are”, and they “ask you to visualize your soul”. And so on.

She also seems to make music under the artist name “ALiEn Tribe”. The music is “inspired by my book”. We have not sampled it. (In fairness, people with whackier beliefs than Shapiro – Prokofiev and his Christian science nonsense, for instance, comes to mind – have made great music, but we don’t really feel the urge)

Diagnosis: She seems to be aiming for some kind of world record in hollow fluffery, with occasional lapses into serious lunatic ramblings about frequencies and vibrations. Completely harmless, though.

Susan Shannon

Susan Shannon may be a pretty obscure Twitter character, but she deserves a mention. Shannon is, according to herself, a Christian conservative with a gift that allows her to see clearly through confusing and nebulous media reports to discern what’s really going on: “Friends, there is a gift that God has given me: I can smell something fishy a mile away. Like Benghazi. Almost on day one, I told my husband: ‘The facts don’t make sense. Something is wrong here.’” What a great gift! She then used her gift to look through the reports on the Newtown shootings, and predictably discovered a false flag operation: You see, according to the official story, it looked like “had Adam Lanza NOT had access to those legal guns, he could never have killed those kids. He was too mentally ill to have gotten those weapons himself,” and Shannon at the time “just couldn’t believe the TIMING and circumstances of this event- a GIFT to the Progressives to disarm us.” Then, of course, she saw the light: “Friends. I believe there is evidence of more than one shooter. I believe this was a PLANNED event- specifically to get the UN Small Arms Treaty signed.” Apparently it is all part of a conspiracy, ostensibly somehow related to the LIBOR scandal, that goes all the way to a “massive, worldwide network of banks, the Federal Reserve and highly position individuals such as Tim Geihtner and Ben Bernanke,” and ultimately to the government: “I believe our GOVERNMENT shot those kids and teachers and used Adam Lanza and his family to pull it off,” said Shannon. In fairness, Shannon has other evidence, too: rumors– that is, things that are rumored to happen; she doesn’t specify from whereshe has heard said rumors, but we suspect it has something to do with her gift

Diagnosis: Ok, so we don’t really know much more about her. She is, however, a representative of views that are probably shared by millions of Americans. Laughing at her is certainly justified, but it really isn’t particularly funny.

Doyel Shamley

Doyel Shamley is the president of a Nevada-based firm called Veritas Research Consulting, and part of his day job is to advise Republican politicians, including congresspeople, on land management and environmental policy – as such, he has participated in numerous fora and on several panels sponsored by conservative groups, and testified before various House committees and state assemblies.

But when his dayshift is over Doyel Shamley the consultant becomes Doyel Shamley the conspiracy theorist, who for years hosted the online radio show The Hour of the Time, where he would speculate on a range of issues, suggesting for instance that UFO sightings are a false-flag operation by the Illuminati to gain more power, and claiming that federal agents killed his friend, Christian Identity theorist William Cooper, because he was asking questions about the attacks on the World Trade Center – yes, Shamley is a 9/11 truther, and has claimed that “terrorism is really just part of a grand Hegelian dialectic scheme to bring about their desired change and the end result that the illuminati want, a New World Order.”

On the 2009 DVD “New World Order: The Battle for Your Mind and the Truth to UFOs”, he claimied that his conspiracy activism was viewed as a nuisance during his military career: “I did classes in the military on the New World Order, etc., to my troops and my platoons,” said Shamley: “Everything from the sham of fiat money and the federal reserve centralized banking system to the Illuminati to Council of [sic] Foreign Relations, Tri-Lats, all the typical subjects and me and my squad leaders, we would hand out literature and have classes in the barracks at night.” Clearly the fact that people in the military was annoyed must have been because Shamley was onto something.

Shamley does apparently distance himself from people like Alex Jones, however, whose antics he characterizes as “fearmongering” – not because there is something wrong with Jones’s integrity or critical thinking skills, but because Jones is too pessimistic. Shamley, on the other hand, thinks change is possible.

It is far from clear that his clients in politics are entirely unaware of his double life either. For instance, when Jennifer Fielder, the Montana GOP vice chair, identified Shamley as an expert in natural resources after inviting him to testify before the state’s Environmental Quality Council in 2014, she may not have mentionedhis conspiracy theory career, but Fielder herself has dabbled in sovereign citizen ideas and attended seminars with speakers (e.g. Kirk MacKenzie) who think that environmentalists are “domestic terrorists” and that cabals of international banking families are responsible for pushing environmental regulations. It is hard not to wonder.

In 2008, Shamley was elected natural resources coordinator for Apache County, a position he used to get the county to pass a pair of resolutions asserting its authority over federal lands. In 2018 he sought election to the Arizona House of Representatives to represent District 7; he was apparently unopposed in the primaries but lost the general election. Shamley has also provided training and workshops for Defend Rural America’s secessionist county organizing drive in California.

Diagnosis: It’s hard to shake the feeling that the lunatic paranoia of people like Doyel Shamley has become rather mainstreamed the last few years (though of course: that itself might sound like paranoia). And its impact is surely not benign effect. Deranged maniac.

 

The Real Truth for One and All!

Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 17:18:41 -0600

From: jfetzer@d.umn.edu

Subject: RE: “JUSTIFYING” ATTACK ON IRAN?

To: “George Noory” <george@coasttocoastam.com>

Cc: jfetzer@d.umn.edu

 

I wish you would have me back to discuss the evidence of video fakery on

9/11 and the many indications that the flights were phantom, including:

 

Elias Davidsson has shown that the government has never proven any of the alleged hijackers were aboard any of the planes. John Lear has observed that, before a plane can depart from a terminal, the pilot must submit an envelope of the flight path, the fuel supply, and so  on, but none of the four have ever been presented. David Ray Griffin has shown that the phone calls from all four of the flights were faked. Col. George Nelson, USAF (ret.), has noted that, although there are millions of uniquely identifiable component parts, the government has yet to produce even one from any of the alleged crash sites. The  FDR data obtained by Pilots for 9/11 Truth from the NTSB shows a plane  heading toward the Pentagon at an altitude too high to have taken out  any lampposts and 100 feet above the building one second from impact,  which supports the conclusion that it flew over the Pentagon and did  not hit it.

There is no proof of a plane crashing in Shanksville, and whatever may have hit the North Tower does not look at all like a Boeing 767. The video of the plane hitting the South Tower is traveling at an impossible speed, makes an impossible entry, and passes through its own length into the building in the same number of frames it passes  through its own length in air–plus it is missing the strobe lights  from the top and bottom of its fuselage and wing tips. I have FAA registration data showing that two of the planes (corresponding to  Flights 11 and 77) were not de-registered until 01/14/2002 and the  other two (corresponding to Flights 93 and 175) not until 09/28/2005.  The weight of the evidence suggests we have been played for saps and the flights were phantom. It looks like a huge charade.

 

James H. Fetzer, Ph.D.

McKnight Professor Emeritus

University of Minnesota Duluth

http://www.d.umn.edu/~jfetzer/

 

Comment: Isn’t that exciting, friends? Next week, the Loch Ness monster is seen in Lake Erie eating a tourist boat full of nuns while on the shore, a bleacher packed with  Yetis cheer and munch on the legs of kidnapped small children. Don’t forget now, scientists have proven this! The very same scientists who accompanied Admiral Byrd and the Pope on their visit to the huge under-ice city in Antarctica!

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply