March 17, 2019

Mar 17 2019

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

Washington, D.C. March 17, 2019:”It is rumored inside the Beltway, that a person or persons, unknown, are planning to dump Mucinex into the toilets of Trump hotels. This over the counter product will produce glutinous masses that will plug up pipes and cause backups of flushed sewage.

In order to locate the plugged area, it would be necessary to rip up floors, walls and ceilings. Such actions can cause extensive repair bills and interdict room occupancy.

The product is not illegal and can be put in any kind of a travel bag.

An insurance company would pay for the first repair but not any following.

Could the Girl Scouts be behind this project?

The Audubon Society?

Simple things are often the best, after all.”

The Table of Contents 

  • ‘Pay-for-access to Trump club’: Mar-a-Lago faces renewed ethics concerns
  • Parisians clean up after more weekend rioting on Champs Elysees
  • White House dismisses praise of Trump by New Zealand shooter
  • Trump Again Threatens Violence If Democrats Don’t Support Him
  • O’Rourke candidacy asks: Can a moderate white male win the 2020 Democratic primary?
  • Pete Buttigieg to Fox: ‘Ideological spectrum has never been less relevant’
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown 
  • Killer robots must be regulated, says German foreign minister


‘Pay-for-access to Trump club’: Mar-a-Lago faces renewed ethics concerns

With the winding down of the ‘Winter White House’ comes another season of controversy and scandal that swirl around the president’s resort

March 16, 2019

by Richard Luscombe in Palm Beach

The Guardian

At Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s waterfront winter retreat, an end-of-term air hangs over the expansive verandas and perfectly manicured lawns. In barely a month’s time, following the traditional season-closing Easter Sunday brunch gala, the private members’ club will be scrubbed and shuttered for the summer, its wealthy clientele dispersing to residences in the Hamptons or boarding their mega-yachts to cruise the Mediterranean.

With the winding down of the annual Palm Beach social circuit comes the end of another season of controversy, scandal and ethics concerns that swirl around the exclusive resort, which drips with gold-leafed opulence and where a $200,000 “initiation fee” appears to cover the privilege of bending the president’s ear.

This year’s cast of notable characters includes the Chinese former owner of a massage parlour snared in a high-profile prostitution sting, a Russian investor wanted in his home country for tax fraud and a cosmetic dentist who influenced Trump’s thinking on veterans’ care by writing policy advice on a cocktail napkin.

Add to the mix last summer’s confirmation as ambassador to the Dominican Republic of Trump’s longtime friend and former insurance agent Robin Bernstein, a Mar-a-Lago founding member, and renewed concerns by ethics experts over the ease of access to and influence over Trump when he visits his resort are easy to understand.

“The Mar-a-Lago club has turned into a pay-for-access to the president club, with a president with almost no knowledge of governmental policy,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a Washington-based pro-transparency group that has criticised Trump for continuing to profit from his business operations while in office.

“If you can whisper in his ear and tell him anything, he may well think it’s sensible and he may well act upon it.

“There’s no reason to believe people he’s picking out of the field at Mar-a-Lago are qualified to serve as ambassadors for the US or in any governmental position but they’re paying, they have access, they’re buddying up and they get to use serious positions as casual rewards.”

Of equal concern, Weissman said, is that the most powerful man in the world could be so easily manipulated by those whose credentials as policy advisers seems based solely on wealth.

“Long ago presidents were very accessible and the White House was open, but even then the access wasn’t based on your ability to pay a $200,000 cover fee,” he said. “There’s absolutely no precedent for this kind of paid-for access, and there’s no precedent for a president who is so responsive to random bits of information because he has no views of his own and no background knowledge of his own.

“If there had been a comparable situation with Barack Obama, whispering in his ear might have been important but it wouldn’t have shaped his world view or had him go off on some new path because he would have known what you were talking about. He had his own views already, and that’s just not the case with Trump.”

The Trump administration appears immune to a catalogue of embarrassing headlines, among them the story of Li “Cindy” Yang, 45, the Chinese American founder of a day spa where Trump’s friend Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, was arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution, which he denies, in February.

Yang, a Republican fundraiser and donor who was photographed with Trump in a Super Bowl party selfie at his West Palm Beach golf club, and also at Mar-a-Lago with Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, sold the massage parlour where Kraft was arrested several years previously. She still owned others.

But follow-up coverage by the Miami Herald and Mother Jones said Yang owned a consulting business that promised Chinese investors access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago and had arranged for a group to attend a Trump fundraiser in New York in 2017, testing strict rules prohibiting foreign involvement in the US political process.

That forced a denial from the White House that Trump knew Yang, and a fierce denouncement from her lawyers of any wrongdoing.

“She is being accused of human trafficking, providing favours to Chinese politicians and businesses by selling access to the president,” attorney Michelle Merson told NBC News. “She denies everything.”

The Yang saga was followed by another eye-opening scandal this week when the Herald exposed the presence at a Mar-a-Lago charity event last year of Sergey Danilochkin, a Russian real estate investor accused in his home country of a $170m tax fraud. There is no suggestion he met Trump, but the Herald reported he was there as part of a $600-a-head event hosted by Elizabeth Trump Grau, the president’s sister.

Neither the White House nor the Trump Organization answered the newspaper’s questions about how Danilochkin gained access.

‘When he’s there, it’s a circus’

Some of the more extraordinary and questionable moments at Mar-a-Lago have their roots closer to home, and involve club members. Palm Beach handbag designer Lana Marks, for example, is Trump’s pick for US ambassador to South Africa.

More bizarrely, Trump’s dentist, Albert Hazzouri, scribbled a note on a Mar-a-Lago napkin, inexplicably addressed “Dear King” and proposing ways to eliminate what he saw as waste in federal spending on dental care for former military personnel. According to ProPublica, Trump endorsed the napkin with a “the president has seen” stamp and ordered it forwarded to David Shulkin, then secretary of veterans’ affairs.

Hazzouri told ProPublica: “I’m not really involved in politics, I’m just a small-time dentist.” But Trump placed enough value on his thoughts to send them to the agency responsible for the health of 9 million ex-servicemen and women.

“When he’s there, it’s a circus,” said Palm Beach society writer Jose Lambiet, who has chronicled Trump’s tenure at Mar-a-Lago since he bought the 126-room, 1920s-built mansion from the estate of the late cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1985.

“It’s not just the ethics of this, but the visuals are terrible. No policy should be done this way. He thinks it’s cool, that he was elected for this stuff, but I don’t think he was. The ethics of people having access to him through Mar-a-Lago should be investigated because it allows rich people to have access to him in a way that regular people don’t.”

Lambiet said Trump has always enjoyed the theatre of playing host.

“He comes out in the early evening, he walks around and he shakes hands with everybody. He always thought that even when he was just a TV celebrity or businessman, the reason for people to pay that kind of money, and back then it was $100,000 to join, was for him. He didn’t think they came for the beautiful scenery or the food.

“Now he’s president there’s more hangers-on. The characters have changed in the sense that Palm Beach society has been replaced with people with a lot of money but not necessarily a lot of class.”


Parisians clean up after more weekend rioting on Champs Elysees

March 17, 2019


PARIS (Reuters) – Workers began cleaning up the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday after rioters ransacked stores and restaurants in a new flare-up of violence linked to the yellow vest protest movement

Cutting short a weekend ski trip, President Emmanuel Macron returned to Paris late on Saturday for a crisis meeting with ministers at which he ordered decisions to be taken rapidly “so this doesn’t happen again”.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was due to hold a ministerial meeting on Sunday afternoon to boost security measures, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on LCI television.

Cleaners swept up broken glass, while shop owners boarded up smashed windows after the worst unrest in central Paris since violence peaked before Christmas in a weekly series of protests.

Vandals left hardly a storefront or cafe unscathed on Saturday, breaking windows and looting luxury stores as they clashed with riot police.

Rioters also set fire to an upmarket handbag store and badly damaged Fouquet’s restaurant, before setting fire to the famous brasserie’s canvas awning.

Two newstands were burnt to their metallic frames and in a nearby street a bank branch was set on fire, badly damaging the building and apartments above it.

“I’m not a tourist but if I were, I would be quite surprised if I arrived in Paris to find the Champs Elysees in such condition,” a pensioner who only gave his name as Serge told Reuters TV.

“People often talk about the ‘City of Lights’, the ‘Fashion Capital’ and all that, but all you can see is destruction, rubbish, protests, burnt kiosks,” he added.

Police estimated that 10,000 people joined the latest yellow vest protest in the capital and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said a hard-core of about 1,500 was intent on causing trouble.

“We’ve got to be able stop these people, I don’t know how, but that’s what we’ve asked the prime minister,” Jean-Noel Rheinhardt, who heads a committee representing businesses on the Champs Elysees, told BFM TV.

The yellow vest movement emerged in November originally to oppose now abandoned fuel tax hikes and the high cost of living.

The protests quickly spiraled into a broader movement against Macron, his pro-business reforms and elitism in general.

The demonstrations, held every Saturday in Paris and other cities, have been generally getting smaller since December, when Paris saw some of the worst vandalism and looting in decades.

After the spike in violence, Macron offered a package of concessions worth more than 10 billion euros ($11 billion) aimed at boosting the incomes of the poorest workers and pensioners.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas, additional reporting by Michele Sani; Editing by Keith Weir



White House dismisses praise of Trump by New Zealand shooter

March 17, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House pushed back on Sunday against any attempt to link President Donald Trump to the accused shooter who killed 50 people in two New Zealand mosques, saying the act of a disturbed individual cannot be blamed on any one politician.

“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump on Friday condemned the “horrible massacre” at the mosques and the White House called the shooting a “vicious act of hate.”

Asked by a reporter on Friday if he sees white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, Trump said: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people.”

The accused gunman’s manifesto praised the U.S. president as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” even though he did not support his policies. The reference revived criticism that Trump has not been strong enough in condemning hate speech and has fomented anti-Muslim sentiment.

“I don’t think it’s fair to cast this person as a supporter of Donald Trump,” Mulvaney said. “Any more than it is to look at his eco-terrorist passages in that manifesto and align him with (Democratic House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi or Ms. Ocasio-Cortez,” a Democratic congresswoman.

“This was a disturbed individual, an evil person,” he said.

Trump drew strong criticism in the days after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 when he equated white supremacists with counter-protesters and saying “both sides” were to blame.

“Time and time again, this president has embraced and emboldened white supremacists—and instead of condemning racist terrorists, he covers for them. This isn’t normal or acceptable,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter after Friday’s mosque shootings.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker



Trump Again Threatens Violence If Democrats Don’t Support Him

March 14, 2019

by Jonathan Chait

the national interest

One of Donald Trump’s favorite riffs is a wish, cast as a warning, that his supporters inside and outside the state security services will unleash violence on his political opponents if they continue to oppose the administration. The specifics of the riff don’t vary much. Trump laments that his opponents are treating him unfairly, praises the toughness and strength of his supporters — a category that combines the police, military, and Bikers for Trump, which he apparently views as a Brownshirt-like militia — and a prediction that his supporters will at some point end their restraint.

He does it again in a new interview with Breitbart:

I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.

Early warnings that Trump could undermine the Constitution have not been borne out, which has produced a certain complacency about the issue. It is true that Trump is only an aspirational authoritarian, and to date has failed to bring his most illiberal dreams to life. He has used the government to punish independent media, prevailing upon the Post Office to raise rates on Amazon in retaliation for Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post, and repeatedly told his staff to order the Justice Department to block a merger in order to punish CNN. So far, this has had little effect.

On the other hand, if Trump wins a second term — a prospect that, under current economic conditions, is close to a toss-up — his presidency will only be a quarter of the way through. Already his authoritarian rhetoric is so thoroughly normalized that it hardly even registers as news any more. Anybody whose political efforts involve helping Trump gain more power, rather than opposing that project, is playing Russian roulette with the Constitution.

Republicans have had some success in restraining Trump’s abuses — in large part by slow-walking his most blatantly illegal or authoritarian orders. But the GOP’s willingness to defy Trump has also eroded steadily over his presidency. Congress’s failure to block Trump’s use of emergency powers to build the border wall that Congress has declined to fund is an important marker in that deterioration.

Republicans used to define more modest exertions of executive power by President Obama as dangerous Caesarism. Republicans turned Obama’s rather casual vow to use his “pen and phone” to carry out executive authority into a Hitleresque claim of total power. Accordingly, when Trump claimed executive power to fund a project Congress refused to fund, at least some conservatives denounced his plans. North Carolina senator Thom Tillis wrote an op-ed calling for Congress to deny Trump’s authority.

“Conservatives rightfully cried foul when President Barack Obama used executive action to completely bypass Congress and unilaterally provide deferred action to undocumented adults who had knowingly violated the nation’s immigration laws. Some prominent Republicans went so far as to proclaim that Obama was acting more like an “emperor” or “king” than a president,” he wrote, “There is no intellectual honesty in now turning around and arguing that there’s an imaginary asterisk attached to executive overreach — that it’s acceptable for my party but not thy party.”

But then Trump started looking into supporting a primary challenger against Tillis. And lo and behold, Tillis abandoned the sacred principle. Republicans could have mustered a veto-proof majority to join with Democrats and block Trump, but failed. If Republicans are too frightened to defend what they themselves regard as a vital principle of the Constitution, what confidence should we have that they’ll stand in the way of Trump’s continued assaults on the Republic?


O’Rourke candidacy asks: Can a moderate white male win the 2020 Democratic primary?

March 17, 2019

by James Oliphant


MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (Reuters) – As he had done at several stops in his first campaign trip as a presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke on Friday climbed atop a counter at a local Iowa business and addressed a small but adoring crowd. People clapped and cheered. Outside, some waited in the cold, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

By that measure, his tour across eastern Iowa last week was largely a success. But by no means was O’Rourke considered a front-runner. And that underscored the challenge he faces as he competes for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

O’Rourke, a former three-term U.S. congressman from Texas, became a celebrity last year when his longshot bid to unseat U.S. Senator Ted Cruz drew national attention and a torrent of money. But ultimately, his fame was not enough.

That loss led some critics to wonder why someone who couldn’t secure a Senate seat would then think he should run for president.

That is not his only obstacle. O’Rourke, 46, is a wealthy, white man from a conservative-leaning state who is more moderate on several key issues than many of his competitors. Given the energy among progressives in the early stages of the race and the diversity of the Democratic field, O’Rourke would appear to be everything that many in party say they do not want.

More than a dozen Democrats have declared their candidacy to take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election, including six women. U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California would make history as the first black woman to gain the nomination. Julian Castro, a former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, would be the first Hispanic to do so. Another contender, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is openly gay.

O’Rourke also must grapple with the enduring popularity of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive who remains a formidable adversary after battling Hillary Clinton in 2016, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is weighing a presidential bid.

Even so, none of them are on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair, as O’Rourke is. His interview with the magazine sparked controversy on social media last week when he said he was “born” to run for president. Critics also found fault with his oft-repeated joke on the trail about how he “helps” raise his three children with his wife, Amy.

To his detractors, it smacked of white male privilege. O’Rourke grew up affluent, attended the Ivy League’s Columbia University, and married the daughter of a real estate baron. His estimated net personal wealth is more than $9 million

His image in his race against Cruz, however, belied that background. He fashioned himself as the scrappy underdog, a former punk rocker who was battling the establishment, visiting every county in Texas in a Dodge minivan and holding numerous town halls where he fielded questions from the public.

Reuters reported on Friday that when he was a teenager, O’Rourke was a member of the oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history, the Cult of the Dead Cow, posing a question whether the United States is ready for a presidential contender who in his youth stole long-distance phone service and engaged in human-rights-driven “hacktivism.”

He took his outsider strategy to Iowa last week, going so far as to rent another Dodge minivan that he drove himself and shooting a fundraising video on Facebook of him filling its gas tank.

O’Rourke differed from many of his liberal competitors by talking frequently about how he worked with Republicans in Congress to improve care for veterans in his home town of El Paso, Texas. Asked whether he was a true “progressive,” he referenced President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican.

O’Rourke maintained that his campaign would be relentlessly optimistic – and he only rarely rebuked Trump. “We will not belittle or demean or vilify other candidates,” he said in Mt. Vernon. “We will not define ourselves in contrast to others or say who we are against.”

His policy positions were largely nonspecific. He championed universal health care, immigration reform and combating climate change, but largely said any reforms would have to be pragmatic and incremental.

Occasionally, O’Rourke showed self-awareness of his status as a wealthy, white male, telling crowds that he had been given opportunities denied to minorities and describing the U.S. economic system as imperfect and racist.

He also found that despite the media attention he has received, he was not a household name in Iowa. “I didn’t even know who he was until two days ago,” said Sam Jennison, the owner of the bar in Mount Vernon where O’Rourke held his event.

But for the most part, those who attended his events spoke of him glowingly and dismissed concerns about whether he was progressive enough. “Issues are very important,” said Cathryn Layer, 65, of New London, Iowa. “Winnability is another thing.”

“We need a moderate Democrat, and we probably need a white male because that is not threatening to a lot of people,” said Holly Manon Moore, 65, of Fairfield, Iowa, who said she is undecided in the race and would want a person of color to be the vice-presidential nominee. “If we go too far left, we’re going to lose.”

At the close of his Iowa trip, it remained unclear how O’Rourke’s entrance would reshape the Democratic race. He notably declined to reveal how much money he raised in his first few days as a candidate.

But he did have an impact. At the same time O’Rourke was in eastern Iowa, so was one of his competitors, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. And while the size of the crowd that came to see her on Saturday was comparable to those at O’Rourke’s events, there were far fewer journalists present.


Pete Buttigieg to Fox: ‘Ideological spectrum has never been less relevant’

  • If successful, Democrat would be first openly gay president
  • Shortest Way Home: Pete Buttigieg as president in waiting

March 17, 2019

by Edward Helmore

The Guardian

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is exploring a White House run, gave an interview to Fox News Sunday, a potentially ideologically incongruous step for a 37-year-old Democrat who likes to joke he appeals to “white Episcopalian gay veteran” voters.“I think everyone wants to fit you on an ideological spectrum which I think has never been less relevant,” he said, when asked about the ideological sweep of the Democratic field, from centrists like Beto O’Rourke to leftwing progressives such as Bernie Sanders.

“More and more people want to know what your ideas are and whether they make any sense.”

Buttigieg said he had succeeded as mayor of South Bend, where he has been in office since 2012, by governing in accordance with progressive values but earning support from Republicans and independents through not “trying to manage exactly where I was on the left-right spectrum but by trying to do the right thing”

“I view myself as a progressive but these labels are becoming less and less useful,” he said.

The US navy veteran said he established his exploratory committee in January as a way to gauge responses “to the idea of a midwestern millennial mayor entering the conversation for president”, and to see if anybody would take note in early voting states and how fundraising might go.

“We’re seeing all of those things,” he said, “but because I’m not highly famous or personally wealthy it takes a little bit to put all the organisation in place.”

Buttigieg made an impressive presidential town hall debut last weekend, telling an audience convened by CNN he questioned how Vice-President Mike Pence, like him a Christian from Indiana, could work in a “porn star presidency” with Donald Trump, with whom the adult film star Stormy Daniels claims to have had a sexual liaison.

Since then he has emailed supporters to say he has met a qualifying threshold for this summer’s Democratic debates, by receiving contributions from more than 65,000 individual donors.

On Fox News Sunday, he said “all the signs are pointing in the right direction” for a White House run.

“You only get to launch once and I can tell you it’s going to be a big one,” he said.

If successful, Buttigieg would not only become the first openly gay president and the youngest president in history, he would also be the first to ascend directly to the White House from being mayor of a city of any size, let alone one with a population of just 102,000.

Asked about O’Rourke, a 46-year-old former US representative from Texas who narrowly lost a Senate race last year, Buttigieg pushed back at the idea of pre-ordained political purpose.

O’Rourke told Vanity Fair this week he felt he was “just born to be in” the presidential race.

“I think was born to make myself useful,” Buttigieg said.

He also deflected questions about other Democratic candidates, saying he was “not combating anybody, they’re going to be competitors rather than opponents”.

But he did emphasize his youth, saying: “I do believe I’m not like the others. I belong to a different generation. I was in high school when school shootings started to be the norm, we’re the generation that’s going to be on the business end of climate change and also the generation that’s on track to make less than our parents if nothing is done to change the direction of our economy.”

Asked to identify his core policy ideas, he said his candidacy would be about generational change and would focus on “liberty, democracy and security”. He also said the Green New Deal, as championed by progressives in the Democratic party and ridiculed and attacked on the right, was more of a goal than plan.

“It’s a handful of pages laying out a goal for us to cut carbon emissions before they destroy our economy and any prospect for people in my generation to do well,” he said. “If we don’t act aggressively and immediately on climate its not going to be a pretty picture.”

The timetable for action, he added, would not be set by Congress “but by reality and science”.

What advocates of the Green New Deal get right, he added, “is that it recognises there’s also a lot of economic opportunity in this”.

Buttigieg was also asked about his roots in the industrial midwest, an area where Democrats are perceived to have lost touch with voters who went for Trump. He said he would offer a combination of attributes, including his military service as an intelligence analyst in Afghanistan, that was simply different from other candidates.

“I’m looking forward to competing,” he said. “I know I’m the young face in this conversation but not only do I have more years of government experience than the president, I have more years of executive experience than the vice-president.”


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

March 17, 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. 7

Date: Tuesday, April 2, 1996

Commenced: 10:17 AM (CST)

Concluded: 10:57 AM (CST)


GD: Am I interrupting anything there? It took awhile for you to pick up.

RTC: No, everything’s fine. I was going through my files seeing if I could find anything more about your friend Müller but I came across something interesting on H&K instead.

GD: Heckler and Koch? The German arms company?

RTC: No, Hill and Knowlton. The PR people.

GD: Public relations.

RTC: Yes. One of my jobs with the company was to keep up our connections with major business and H&K was my baby. Actually, you might be interested in all of this. We were talking about Frank Wisner’s contacts with the media and Cord Meyer’s with the publishing business so I thought this might just fit right in. We always wanted to emulate Colonel Hoover’s good PR. You know, the Hollywood and radio dramas about the wonderful G-Men. I think we established a far more effective system but then, of course I am prejudiced. Before we were finished, we had our fingers in every pot imaginable from the major media to book companies, television networks and so on.

GD: I knew Brownlow in Munich who ran Radio Liberty.

RTC: Station chief there. Yes, but that was for foreign consumption. My specialty was domestic. I guess you can call it propaganda if you like but we needed it to push our programs forward, ruin our enemies and help our friends. I think these were noble goals, Gregory, don’t you?

GD: Well, at least from your point of view.

RTC: We had to cover up failures as well. I think you can say that the Company pretty well controls the media in this country now. Take the AP for example. Every little jerkwater paper out in East Jesus, Texas, cannot have a reporter in Washington or Moscow so they rely almost entirely on the AP for anything outside their town. I mean if a cow wanders out onto the highway and wrecks a truck or the local grange burns down, sure, they have the local reporters, but for what’s going on in Washington or elsewhere, it’s the AP. Look, you get on a plane in New York bound for, say, Chicago. You read the paper and then stuff it into the seat pocket and get off. In Chicago, you pick up the Tribune and read it. Same national and international news. Fly to ‘Frisco and the same thing. The AP is a wonderful asset, believe me. Let’s say you want to put a story about that a certain foreign potentate is about to get kicked out. Or better, you want him kicked out. So, we plant a story with the New York Times, the Washington Post or other big papers and then get AP to send our special message all over the damned country. Let’s say we start in the night before. By the six o’clock news the next day, all of America knows just what we want it to know and we do this so anyone reading an article can only come to the conclusions we want.

GD: This is not a surprise, Robert. I’ve been in the newspaper game for forty years now and I know most of the games.

RTC: Well, you can see why I developed H&K as a purely captive asset, can’t you?

GD: Of course.

RTC: And we used them to plant our own agents all over the world. It is a wonderful cover. We have some of the major columnists, of course, and many editors and more than a few publishers but putting our own agents in, say, France or Ottawa, is a great advantage, believe me. And H&K had the best, the very best, connections. Bobby Gray was Ike’s press secretary and was a good friend of Nixon and Reagan and had their ear. We infiltrated our people into every level of the business, political and professional worlds and you never knew when one of your people might bring home the bacon. I can say with some pride that, let’s say, we wanted to get some legislation passed, it was a piece of cake. Sometimes we made bad calls like the time we pushed Fidel Castro into office only to have the bastard turn on us. I remember the howling the Alcoa people did when he nationalized their plants in Cuba. Or the United Fruit people demanding we get rid of Guzman 1 in Guatemala because he was expropriating their banana plantations. The man we put in after we kicked Guzman out turned on us and we had to shoot him, but in theory it was a slick deal. Sam Cummings got Nazi weapons from the Poles and we shipped them over there on a freight line we owned and for a little while, Levi and Zentner were happy. It was a question of helping our friends. I’ll tell you about Sullivan and Cromwell, some time.

GD: Not Gilbert and Sullivan?

RTC: No the New York law firm. Dulles was with them. They helped everyone out. Very pro-Hitler once, but then the Company was full of ex-Nazis; in fact our Gehlen Org was almost exclusively Nazi. Frenchy Grombach drew up a list of top Nazis wanted for war crimes after the war and Critchfield used it at his main recruiting guide. Of course if the Jews ever found this out, we would have to do some major damage control. Israel is friendly with us just as long as we keep the money and the guns coming. But then we have to kiss up to the Arabs as well because of the oil so the main thing here is to maintain a careful balance. But not only H&K but a number of other firms have been of inestimable help to us. They plant stories we want planted, they open offices in foreign countries of interest and let our men come in as employees and so on. The PR people can move mountains. Paster, who not only worked for H&K but also the Clintons, worked with Bill’s people to neutralize the Lewinski scandal, which was really not political but religious in nature. The right wing Christians, who are as crazy as shit house owls, wanted Clinton’s scalp so they could put one of their own pro-Jesus nuts in the White House. Ken Starr is as strange as they come and I am ashamed to admit he’s a lawyer from my hometown. Stands in his yard and screams for Jesus to listen to him. The neighbors made such as fuss about these nocturnal shouting sessions, they called the police.

GD: Tell me, Robert, did Jesus ever answer?

RTC: I don’t think so but Ken was warned that if he kept his yowling up at night, or even in the daytime, it was off to St. Elizabeth’s funny farm in an ambulance.

GD: Don’t talk to me about the Jesus Freaks! My God, I’ve known my share and the best place for them is a desert island populated by hungry tigers.

RTC: I think there are things even a hungry tiger wouldn’t eat.

GD: But back to the press again. Did you control or did you influence?

RTC: Both. I can give you an example. Ben Bradlee was the managing editor of the Washington Post and was our man all the way. It’s a long, involved story and if you have the time, I’ll give you the background. I know we’ve talked about this before but it’s absolutely typical of what I was telling you. Do you have the time?

GD: Yes, as the old whore said, if you have the money.

RTC: Ben’s best friend when he was a child was Dick Helms. After Ben left Harvard during the war, he joined ONI and worked in their communications center. He dealt with a flood of secret codes messages from all over the world. He had married Jean Saltonstall, the Governor’s daughter and the old man was also a spook. Not generally known, however. War was over and Ben was sent to join the ACLU as a spy. Pretty soon Ben got an inside connection with Gene Meyer, who’s family ran the Post and he got a job there covering the police beat. Eugene’s son-in-law married Katherine and poor Gene was a blossoming nut and he eventually swallowed his gun and the wife took over the paper. Graham got Ben a job with the Foggy Bottom people…

GD: What?

RTC: State Department. Anyway, Ben was off to France where he worked in the embassy in Paris where he did propaganda work and started working very closely with us. Then he went to work for Newsweek. Ben is an ambitious type and he ditched the Saltonstall woman and married Tony Pinchot. Her sister, Mary, was married to Cord Meyer, our beloved Cyclops….

GD: And a friend and co-worker with party comrade Cranston…

RTC: The same one. And joined together in the Mockingbird program we have been talking about….

GD: The Mighty Wurlitzer of Wisner?

RTC: Same idea.

GD: Graham and Wisner killed themselves and Wisner spent a lot of time in a nut house, didn’t he?

RTC: Raving mad. They had to drag him screaming out of headquarters, trussed up in a strait jacket and foaming at the mouth. Not one of my fonder moments. As I recall it, Bradlee knew Jim Angleton in France. I’ll tell you about Jim one of these days. Ben was kicked out of France because the CIA was secretly supporting the FLN…supplying them inside information about French counter-terrorist groups and give them plastique and other nice things…just as they did later with the Quebec Libré people in Canada. The French png’ed him…

GD: What?

RTC: Persona non grata. Not wanted in the country. Then he did his Newsweek work and got to know Kennedy and wrote some puff pieces for him and got on the inside track there. In the early ‘60’s Helms told Bradlee that one of his relatives wanted to sell Newsweek and Bradlee brokered the deal with the Post people. We had a firm in with the Post and now with Newsweek, a powerful opinion molder and a high-circulation national magazine. Then there was the towpath murder. Cord’s ex-wife was one of Kennedy’s women and everyone felt she had too much influence with him, not to mention her hippifying him with LSD and marijuana. We can discuss the Kennedy business some other time but Mary was threatening to talk and you know about the rest. Good old Ben and his friend Jim went to Mary’s little converted garage studio, which Ben just happened to own, and finally found her diary. They took it away and just as well they did. She had it all down in there, every bit of the drugs use, all kinds of bad things JFK told her as pillow talk and her inside knowledge of the hit. Not good.

GD: If you want to talk about the Kennedy business, Robert, I am perfectly willing to listen.

RTC: But I am not perfectly willing to talk at this point. We can get to it little by little, Gregory. Ben got to be vice president of the Post company and retired with honor and plenty of money.

GD: The diary?

RTC: Jim burned the original but made a copy. Makes interesting reading. It gives you different view of Camelot, believe me. What the American public doesn’t know, cannot hurt them, can it?

GD: No it can’t but if….do you still have your copy?

RTC: Now, now, Gregory. I don’t want a black bag job here. I’m too old to start shooting at mysterious burglars, or even being shot by them.

GD: This has been very interesting today, Robert.

RTC: An old man has little left sometimes but his memories.

GD: Do an autobiography, why not?

RTC” I don’t feel like committing suicide, Gregory, and I signed the paper keeping me from writing about any of this.

GD: But I haven’t.

RTC: No, you haven’t. Let’s call it a day for now, Gregory. I’m a little tired now. The Swiss have been working their microwave transmissions overtime.

GD: ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,’ Robert. I’ll be out of town for a few days so I’ll get back in touch next week.

RTC: Have a nice trip and thanks for the call.

(Concluded at 10:57 AM CST)


1 Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán September 14, 1913 – January 27, 1971) was a Guatemalan military officer and politician. He served as Defense Minister of Guatemala from 1944 – 1951. He served as President of Guatemala from 1951 to 1954. When he attempted to nationalize the extensive United Fruit Company’s extensive holdings, the CIA fomented a coup d’état by a military junta, headed by Colonel Carlos Castillo, a CIA employee. He died in Mexico in 1971.


Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown 

March 16, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Social science is being militarised to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and protest movements

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions.” The project will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagions by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Twitter posts and conversations will be examined “to identify individuals mobilized in a social contagion and when they become mobilized.”

Another project awarded this year to the University of Washington “seeks to uncover the conditions under which political movements aimed at large-scale political and economic change originate,” along with their “characteristics and consequences.” The project, managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,” and will cover 58 countries in total.

Last year, the DoD’s Minerva Initiative funded a project to determine ‘Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?’ which, however, conflates peaceful activists with “supporters of political violence” who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on “armed militancy” themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists:

“In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.”

The project’s 14 case studies each “involve extensive interviews with ten or more activists and militants in parties and NGOs who, though sympathetic to radical causes, have chosen a path of non-violence.”

An attempt to contact the project’s principal investigator, Prof Maria Rasmussen of the US Naval Postgraduate School, asking why non-violent activists working for NGOs should be equated to supporters of political violence – and which “parties and NGOs” were being investigated –had no response.

Similarly, Minerva program  staff refused to answer a series of similar questions put to them, including asking how “radical causes” promoted by peaceful NGOs constituted a potential national security threat of interest to the DoD.

Does the US Department of Defense see protest movements and social activism in different parts of the world as a threat to US national security? If so, why? Does the US Department of Defense consider political movements aiming for large scale political and economic change as a national security matter? If so, why? Activism, protest, ‘political movements’ and of course NGOs are a vital element of a healthy civil society and democracy – why is it that the DoD is funding research to investigate such issues?” Minerva’s program director Dr Erin Fitzgerald said “I appreciate your concerns and am glad that you reached out to give us the opportunity to clarify” before promising a more detailed response.

Here is a statement from the DoD’s press office”

“The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners. While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.”

In 2013, Minerva funded a University of Maryland project in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to gauge the risk of civil unrest due to climate change. The three-year $1.9 million project is developing models to anticipate what could happen to societies under a range of potential climate change scenarios.

From the outset, the Minerva program  was slated to provide over $75 million over five years for social and behavioral science research. This year alone it has been allocated a total budget of $17.8 million by US Congress.

An internal Minerva staff email communication referenced in a 2012 Masters dissertation reveals that the program  is geared toward producing quick results that are directly applicable to field operations. The dissertation was part of a Minerva-funded project on “counter-radical Muslim discourse” at Arizona State University.

The internal email from Prof Steve Corman, a principal investigator for the project, describes a meeting hosted by the DoD’s Human Social Cultural and Behavioral Modeling (HSCB) program in which senior Pentagon officials said their priority was “to develop capabilities that are deliverable quickly” in the form of “models and tools that can be integrated with operations.”

Although Office of Naval Research supervisor Dr Harold Hawkins had assured the university researchers at the outset that the project was merely “a basic research effort, so we shouldn’t be concerned about doing applied stuff”, the meeting in fact showed that DoD is looking to “feed results” into “applications,” Corman said in the email. He advised his researchers to “think about shaping results, reports, etc., so they [DoD] can clearly see their application for tools that can be taken to the field.”

Many independent scholars are critical of what they see as the US government’s efforts to militarize social science in the service of war. In May 2008, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) wrote to the US government noting that the Pentagon lacks “the kind of infrastructure for evaluating anthropological [and other social science] research” in a way that involves “rigorous, balanced and objective peer review”, calling for such research to be managed instead by civilian agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The following month, the DoD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NSF to cooperate on the management of Minerva. In response, the AAA cautioned that although research proposals would now be evaluated by NSF’s merit-review panels. “Pentagon officials will have decision-making power in deciding who sits on the panels”:

“… there remain concerns within the discipline that research will only be funded when it supports the Pentagon’s agenda. Other critics of the program , including the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, have raised concerns that the program  would discourage research in other important areas and undermine the role of the university as a place for independent discussion and critique of the military.”

According to Prof David Price, a cultural anthropologist at St Martin’s University in Washington DC and author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State, “when you looked at the individual bits of many of these projects they sort of looked like normal social science, textual analysis, historical research, and so on, but when you added these bits up they all shared themes of legibility with all the distortions of over-simplification. Minerva is farming out the piece-work of empire in ways that can allow individuals to disassociate their individual contributions from the larger project.”

Prof Price has previously exposed how the Pentagon’s Human Terrain Systems (HTS) program  – designed to embed social scientists in military field operations – routinely conducted training scenarios set in regions “within the United States.”

Citing a summary critique of the program  sent to HTS directors by a former employee, Price reported that the HTS training scenarios “adapted COIN [counterinsurgency] for Afghanistan/Iraq” to domestic situations “in the USA where the local population was seen from the military perspective as threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.”

One war-game, said Price, involved environmental activists protesting pollution from a coal-fired plant near Missouri, some of whom were members of the well-known environmental NGO Sierra Club. Participants were tasked to “identify those who were ‘problem-solvers’ and those who were ‘problem-causers,’ and the rest of the population whom would be the target of the information operations to move their Center of Gravity toward that set of viewpoints and values which was the ‘desired end-state’ of the military’s strategy.”

Such war-games are consistent with a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilizing impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.

James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, concurs with Price’s concerns. Minerva-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the “study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements,” he said, including how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

Minerva is a prime example of the deeply narrow-minded and self-defeating nature of military ideology. Worse still, the unwillingness of DoD officials to answer the most basic questions is symptomatic of a simple fact – in their unswerving mission to defend an increasingly unpopular global system serving the interests of a tiny minority, security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists.


Killer robots must be regulated, says German foreign minister

Autonomous weapons systems, deadly viruses, cyberwarfare — many countries are developing such systems. But is a technological, not least political, control on them at all possible?

March 15, 2019


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday called for international cooperation on regulating modern autonomous weapons systems.

Speaking at the “2019. Capturing Technology. Rethinking Arms Control” weapons conference in Berlin, Maas warned of the uncontrollable risks of autonomous weapons systems, high-tech rockets, cyberattacks and biological weapons.

“Killer robots that make life-or-death decisions on the basis of anonymous data sets, and completely beyond human control, are already a shockingly real prospect today,” Maas said. “Fundamentally, it’s about whether we control the technology or it controls us.”

The United Nations and the European Union have both called for a global ban on autonomous weapons, but so far few internationally-accepted rules exist for such systems.

“The multilateral political system appears paralyzed in the face of potential threats,” Maas told around 450 gathered experts, politicians and diplomats. He called for progress at talks under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) this year. The CCW will hold talks on autonomous weapons in Geneva later this month.

“We want to want to codify the principle of human control over all deadly weapons systems internationally, and thereby take a big step toward a global ban on fully autonomous weapons,” Maas said.

Global treaty

The German government is thus far torn on whether to impose new restrictions on exports of autonomous systems, with its tough stance on exports already being criticized by fellow EU member states.

Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, urged Germany to pursue a global treaty, rather than a non-binding declaration.

“Measures that fall short of a new ban treaty will be insufficient to deal with the multiple challenges raised by killer robots,” she said in a statement.

Russia, Israel, South Korea, China and the United States are all developing autonomous weapons.

What weapons are we talking about?

The official designation is “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems,” or LAWS for short. They’re often referred to as “combat robots,” but they can also be drones, unmanned U-boats or vehicles. Critics usually call them “killer robots.”

What exactly is meant by this?

There is no general definition of weapon systems like these. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) describes them as weapons with autonomy in their critical functions of selecting and attacking targets, meaning that they do so without human intervention.

Do these weapons already exist?

Completely autonomous weapon systems that deploy lethal violence against humans do not yet exist. However, rapid progress in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics mean their development is only a matter of time.

What are the precursors to them?

There are already many weapons that have autonomous functions. Rockets are already able to identify, select and attack their targets themselves. Unmanned U-boats conduct autonomous sweeps for mines. Drones are already capable of networking in swarms and carrying out certain tasks autonomously.

What would be a conceivable scenario in which LAWS might be deployed?

A combat robot is fed the biometric data of a “target person,” which it then autonomously seeks, finds and kills — without any remote control by radar or satellite, as usually happens with unmanned drones. Lethal autonomous weapons systems pilot themselves and don’t require a soldier to give the order to fire. Nobody knows when they will strike.

Why do experts see this as a paradigm shift in warfare?

Because the life-or-death decision is not made by a human, but by a machine. It makes no difference that the weapon was built and programmed by humans.

Why do autonomous weapons conflict with international humanitarian law?

One of the most important elements of this law is that, in any attack, belligerents must clearly distinguish between combatants and civilians (the Principle of Distinction). Civilians and civilian buildings must be spared wherever possible. Autonomous weapon systems can’t do that. This is why specialists in international law are demanding that a human being must always have final control over an attack (the “man in the loop”).

What international negotiations are taking place on these issues?

Discussions have been taking place at the United Nations in Geneva since 2014, within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Initial informal discussions became official negotiations in 2017, with more than 70 countries participating, as well as scientists and NGOs. A fresh round of negotiations is taking place from 27 to 31 August, 2018.

How are the negotiations going?

Slowly, because the various countries’ positions are very far apart. The world’s biggest military powers are against banning these weapons, which they want to use to secure their supremacy. There’s no agreement on the horizon.

What’s Germany’s position?

The coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD says: “We reject autonomous weapon systems devoid of human control. We want to see them proscribed around the world.” Nonetheless, Germany has not joined the group of countries who are demanding a binding prohibition of autonomous weapons systems. Rather, the German government is arguing for a nonbinding political declaration as a precursor to a treaty banning them.


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