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TBR News April 11, 2018

Apr 11 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. April 11, 2018:” John Bolton: Formerly Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Bolton was also a Senior Advisor to President Bush. Prior to this position, Bolton was Senior Vice President of the above mentioned think tank, AEI. In October 2002, Bolton accused Syria of having a nuclear program so an attack Syria could be justified after a subjugation of Iraq. President Bush appointed Bolton, an extremely opinionated and abrasive individual, to the post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. His appointment was the subject of strong controversy and as of this writing, Bolton has not been officially appointed. Yale graduate. A prime architect of Bush’s Iraq policy, Bolton served Bush Snr and Reagan in the state department, justice department and USAid and was later under-secretary for arms control and international security in Bush Jnr’s state department. His appointment was intended to counter the dove-ish Colin Powell. Bolton is part of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Project for the New American Century and is a vice-president at the American Enterprise Institute. He was also one of Bush’s chad-counters during the Florida count. Bolton has long advocated Taiwan getting a UN seat — he’s been on the payroll of the Taiwanese government. The US unilateralist is a regular contributor to William Kristol’s right-wing Weekly Standard and vilified UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Bolton was an opponent of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a cheerleader for the Star Wars Defense System. He had hinted at targeting Cuba in the war on terror. His financial interests have include oil and arms firms and JP Morgan Chase, like Shultz. It is said that Bolton believes in the inevitability of Armageddon. Like Woolsey, Bolton is said to believe we are in the midst of world war four which he estimates could take 40 years to finish. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary they believed Iraq was involved in September 11. With Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Khalilzad, Bennet, Woolsey, Perle and Kristol, Bolton co-signed a letter in 1998 urging President Bill Clinton to take military action in Iraq.”

 

Table of Contents

  • US-Russia tensions build as Moscow hits back at Trump’s Twitter threat
  • The Cohen raid is a game changer: Trump’s reaction tells us so
  • As Trump fumes over FBI raid, White House lawyers urge restraint
  • Bipartisan group of senators introduce proposal to protect Mueller
  • US House Speaker Paul Ryan to retire in blow to Republicans
  • The Müller Reports: The SS in the east
  • ‘Bigger lunatic than Bush’: Twitter reacts to Trump missile threat
  • Mike Pompeo Could Go Down If Senate Democrats Decide to Fight
  • Gulf Stream system at weakest point in 1,600 years
  • Study: Solar Cycle to Cause a ‘Mini Ice Age’ as Early as 2020

 

US-Russia tensions build as Moscow hits back at Trump’s Twitter threat

  • Trump tells Russia to ‘get ready’ for US missiles fired at Syria
  • Kremlin spokesman: ‘We do not participate in Twitter diplomacy’

April 11, 2018

by Julian Borger in Washington, Andrew Roth in Moscow, Patrick Wintour in London and Martin Chulov in Beirut

The Guardian

The US and Russia came significantly closer to a direct clash over Syria on Wednesday when Donald Trump fired off an incendiary tweet that told Moscow to “get ready” for incoming US missiles, which the Russian military has vowed to shoot down.

A standoff over a poison gas attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Saturday has since spiraled into the most dangerous confrontation between the two nuclear-armed powers since the height of the cold war, driven by Vladimir Putin’s uncompromising backing for the Assad regime in Damascus and the volatility of the US president.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” the US president tweeted. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called for calm.

“We do not participate in Twitter diplomacy,” Peskov was quoted as saying by Interfax. “We support serious approaches. We continue to believe that it is important not to take steps that could harm an already fragile situation.”

A US naval battlegroup – including the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook, and mostly likely a cruise missile submarine, USS Georgia – was in place in the eastern Mediterranean on Wednesday night.

In anticipation of an attack, Syrian planes had been flown to three Russian air bases and senior Syrian government officials had been moved to safe houses in Damascus, according to sources in Turkey.

Trump’s 7am tweet came after news reports quoted the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, warning that Russian forces in Syria would intercept any incoming US missiles, and return fire at their source, likely to mean US planes or ships.

Russian air defence did not try to shoot down US Tomahawk cruise missiles the last time Trump ordered punitive strikes following a chemical weapons attack attributed to the Assad regime.

But the Russian chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov, warned last month that the next time could be different, and that Russia would use air defence and other weapons if its forces in Syria were threatened.

Zasypkin’s reported remarks appear more sweeping, suggesting any incoming attack would trigger retaliation – whether or not there were Russian casualties.

Vladimir Frolov, a former diplomat and foreign affairs analyst in Moscow, told the Guardian that he believed the ambassador’s remarks were mistranslated, and noted that the Russian envoy had referred directly to Moscow’s stated policy.

But with tensions rising, he said, he believed Putin may have to step in to restate Moscow’s policy.

“I think until now they thought it would be good to keep the US in doubt about the real Russian reaction, but Trump has raised the stakes today,” Frolov said.

The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, claimed that a US missile salvo could be used to destroy evidence of Saturday’s poison gas attack in Douma, which Moscow claims was staged. On Wednesday the Russian army said it was going to send military police into the suburb to safeguard the site.

Their deployment appeared part of a plan proposed by Moscow to bring specialists from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the site of the reported attack. Western officials have warned that any Russian effort to control the visit could turn the inspection into a new flashpoint, rather than a potentialway out of the looming crisis.

Syria’s other main backer, Iran – which has signficant ground forces in the country – could also retaliate if its troops are hit on a fraught battlefield crisscrossed by tense rivalries between outside powers.

“It is hard to think of a more risky situation,” said Joseph Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms control advocacy group. “You have the US attacking from the air against ground forces intermingled with Iranians and Russians. The chances of US killing Russians or Iranians is quite high. Their reaction is unknown but it is certainly not going to be understanding.”

Less than an hour after warning Russia to “get ready”, Trump appeared to strike a less aggressive tone in a second tweet.

“Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this,” he wrote. “Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”

The US defence secretary, James Mattis, also sought to dispel the impressionthat a decision to strike had already been taken. He told reporters at the Pentagon that the details of the Douma attack were still being analysed.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mattis attended a White House meeting with Trump, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Joseph Dunford, and the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

But there appeared little room for compromise between the two sides on the central issue: the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia and the western allies failed to agree on a concerted international response to the crisis at a session of the security council on Tuesday notable for the exchange of accusations and insults.

The OPCW is due to send a fact-finding mission to Douma as quickly as possible, but may take a week to come to a conclusion.

The UN’s World Health Organisation, based in Geneva, said on Wednesday that it had received reports that 500 patients had been admitted to hospital with symptoms of a chemical attack.

But the Russian foreign ministry doubled down on its claim that no chemical attack occurred, saying at a briefing: “This is a total deception on a global scale.”

“Damascus has neither the motive to use chemical weapons nor the chemical weapons themselves,” Zakharova, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, said. “There is no proof of their use by Damascus.”

The latest bellicose tone from the White House, and pressure from the military not to give Russia time to prepare its air defences inside Syria, raises questions about whether the US will wait for a British parliamentary endorsement for action.

Trump’s tone, in contrast to the more methodical evidence-led approach of the UK’s Conservative government, may also make it more difficult for May to win a Commons vote.

 

The Cohen raid is a game changer: Trump’s reaction tells us so

In a diatribe of extravagant narcissism the president called the FBI’s raiding of his lawyer’s premises ‘an attack on our country’

April 10, 2018

by Lawrence Douglas

The Guardian

“It’s a disgrace, it’s frankly a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

So began Donald Trump’s passionate remarks to reporters before an afternoon meeting of the nation’s top military brass and national security officials. On the agenda was how America should respond to the Syrian government’s most recent chemical weapon attack against its own citizens.

But that criminal attack was not the target of the president’s moral outrage. No, instead it was the news that the FBI “broke into” the office of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longstanding personal lawyer.

“Broke into”, of course, is hardly accurate. Were the president more familiar with the rudiments of the rule of law, he would know that here in the United States the FBI cannot just barge into an office and grab everything in sight. Two down from the president’s beloved second amendment in the constitution is the fourth, which safeguards persons against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires that search warrants be issued only “upon probable cause”. There must, in short, be a reasonable basis for belief that the search will uncover evidence of a crime. In this case, the heads – as of today – of Trump’s justice department signed off on the FBI’s plans and a federal judge agreed that probable cause had been satisfied.

At this point it’s hard to say what exactly the FBI was searching for. Clearly, though, Mueller’s team is interested in something more than the $130,000 that Cohen paid to Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels – a payment the president claims never to have known about, in order to keep the lid on an affair that he claims never happened. What that something is presumably will only become clear when Trump faces his day of reckoning with Mueller.

For the present, we know the FBI seized tax documents and business records, as well as emails of communications between Cohen and Trump. Such communications are protected by the attorney-client privilege, but that privilege is not absolute. The so-called “crime fraud” exception permits puncturing that privilege if it can be established that the client communicated with the intention of covering up a crime or fraud. The very fact that the FBI sought a warrant and conducted a raid – rather than issuing Cohen with a subpoena – clearly shows that it was worried that the lawyer, who has represented Trump for years and is proud to be known as his “bulldog”, would withhold or destroy evidence of criminal activity.

But the most telling confirmation of the importance of the raid came from the president himself, whose unbalanced diatribe was remarkable even by his standards. We’ve heard the witch-hunt business before: the lasses in Salem had it easy compared to the trials our poor president has had to endure. But in calling a legally authorized raid on the office of his personal lawyer an “attack on our country”, Trump has done more than given strident confirmation to his extravagant narcissism. He has accused the nation’s top intelligence officials and administrators of justice of treason.

We knew this day was coming. Whatever else we might say about Richard Nixon, he went quietly into the night. Not Trump. He will drag us through the misery of a constitutional crisis before, to quote John Brennan, he enters the dustbin of history.

 

As Trump fumes over FBI raid, White House lawyers urge restraint

April 10, 2018

by John Walcott, Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House lawyers are trying to dissuade U.S. President Donald Trump from seeking to get rid of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as Trump weighs options after the FBI raided his personal attorney’s office and home, two U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

White House lawyers Ty Cobb and Donald McGahn have been telling Trump that firing Mueller would leave the president vulnerable to charges of obstruction of justice and have said that he must have “good cause” to order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oust Mueller, the officials said.

The lawyers repeated those arguments after Monday’s raids targeting Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, but have made little or no progress persuading the president, the officials said.

Aides said Trump was fuming on Tuesday over the raids but his future course of action remained unclear.

The advice of the lawyers takes on greater significance following the departure of key aides, such as Hope Hicks, who recently resigned as White House communications director.

Neither Cobb nor McGahn responded on Tuesday to requests for comment. The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Cobb and McGahn trying to dissuade Trump.

Trump has called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt.” Russia and Trump both deny any wrongdoing.

The raids represent a dramatic escalation of a federal inquiry led by Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion by Trump campaign aides.

If Trump tries to scupper the probe, it could set in motion a series of events that eventually threaten his presidency.

“The raid is seismic,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a former federal prosecutor, told MSNBC, adding such searches by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate the possibility a crime was committed.

PAYMENTS TO PORN STAR, PLAYMATE

A source familiar with the matter said FBI agents were looking in Monday’s raids for information on payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both said they slept with Trump while he was married.

Daniels got $130,000 from Cohen in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement concerning her relationship with Trump.

The New York Times, which first reported the news about the two women, said the search warrant for the FBI raids also sought information about McDougal, who was paid $150,000 by the parent company of The National Enquirer tabloid, which then withheld a story about her relationship with Trump.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has sued Cohen to be released from a nondisclosure agreement over an alleged one-night stand with Trump in 2006. McDougal has said she had a longer affair with him. Trump officials have denied he had relations with either woman.

Investigators were also looking into whether there was a broader pattern of tax fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes in Cohen’s private dealings, including his work for Trump and some real estate transactions that involved Russian buyers and prices that appeared to be well above market values, the source said.

Senior members of the U.S. Congress have repeatedly urged Trump not to fire the special counsel. Critics have said any Trump effort to remove Mueller would amount to interference in the investigation.

A White House aide said Justice Department guidance that only Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, could fire Mueller did not apply to Trump, who has the authority to fire anyone in the executive branch.

Asked on Monday after the FBI raids if he would fire Mueller, Trump replied, “We’ll see what happens.”

When asked about the issue, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a Tuesday briefing: “He certainly believes he has the power to do so.”

Trump’s friends rallied to his defense.

“This is about getting Donald Trump at all costs even if it means stretching the boundaries of exceptions to attorney-client privilege,” said former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo.

Reporting by Jeff Mason and John Walcott; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Nathan Layne, Amanda Becker, Makini Brice; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Frances Kerry and Howard Goller

 

Bipartisan group of senators introduce proposal to protect Mueller

April 11, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of senators will introduce legislation on Wednesday to protect the office of the special counsel, one day after the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump had the authority to fire a special prosecutor investigating Russia and the 2016 election.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is probing allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, an investigation that has widened to include whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

Russia has denied that it interfered in the election, and Trump and the White House say there was no collusion. Nevertheless, the probe has become a thorny issue for the president.

After the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the offices of Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday, based partly on a referral by Mueller, Trump called the investigation “a disgrace” and suggested he may consider firing the special counsel.

On Wednesday, four senators announced they would merge two different proposals to protect the office of the special counsel. The original bills were introduced last summer.

If passed, the legislation would allow the special counsel to be fired only “for good cause” by a senior Justice Department official, with a reason given in writing; provide recourse if the special counsel was fired without good cause; and preserve the staffing and materials of a pending investigation. “We need to ensure not only that Special Counsel Mueller can complete his work without interference, but that special counsels in future investigations can, too,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons, one of the sponsors of the bill, said in a statement.

It was unclear whether the proposed law would pass.

On Tuesday, the Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said that while he thought Mueller should be allowed to continue his probe, he did not think legislation to protect him was necessary.

McConnell’s spokesperson declined to comment on Wednesday.

It also remains unclear whether the proposal could pass the House or that Trump would approve it.

Spokespeople for McConnell and the White House did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comments.

However, Coons said in an interview with MSNBC that he thought some Republicans, who currently have the majority in the Senate, could be swayed to back the bill.

“I think the events of the past week have changed some minds in the Republican caucus, that there is a moment here for the Senate to stand up and save the president from himself,” said Coons.

Reporting by Makini Brice and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bernadette Baum

 

US House Speaker Paul Ryan to retire in blow to Republicans

April 11, 2018

BBC News

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for re-election this year, in a big blow to Republicans with mid-term elections looming.

Congress’ most powerful lawmaker said he would not stand for another term in his Wisconsin district this November.

Republicans already face a tough challenge from Democrats to keep control of the lower chamber.

Mr Ryan joins nearly 30 House Republicans who have announced this year they are retiring outright.

Democrats need 23 seats to take over the House.

In a Wednesday morning news conference, Mr Ryan said the decision was family-related.

“You all know that I did not seek this job,” he said. “I took it reluctantly.

“But I have given this job everything. I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility.”

He continued: “But the truth is it’s easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can’t just let that happen.”

The 48-year-old father-of-three said he did not want to be known by his children as “only a weekend dad”.

Mr Ryan said he would retire in January after finishing his congressional term.

Fleeing a sinking ship?

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Paul Ryan had to be coaxed into taking the speaker’s gavel in 2015 and never seemed to relish the job. Rumours had been swirling in conservative circles for months that he was eying the exits.

The speaker will frame his decision as one of putting family first – and, with young children, the fundraising and legislative duties of the office are burdensome – but it’s impossible not to view the move in a larger political context. He’s had frequent clashes with Donald Trump, and their differences – in temperament and policy – continue to be stark.

A mid-term election looms, and there are at least even odds that a Democrat could be speaker next year. Even if Republicans prevail, their majority will certainly be diminished, making the job of passing legislation through a party already torn between moderates and ideological hardliners all the more difficult.

Rather than go down with the ship – or perhaps suffer the same fate as Tom Foley in 1994, the last sitting speaker to lose a re-election race – Mr Ryan is reserving his seat on a lifeboat. He’s not the first congressional Republican to do so, and with the top man leading the way, more are sure to follow.

According to Axios, which broke the story, he has found his job frustrating, partly because of President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump praised the speaker on Twitter as “a truly good man”.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Mr Ryan’s departure was an ominous sign for Republicans, months away from nationwide elections.

“Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realise that their midterm prospects are doomed,” the fundraising committee added.

Mr Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s first district could now fall into Democratic hands, according to analysts at the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

All 435 House lawmakers and 34 senators will face the voters this November, in what will amount to a referendum on Republican control of Congress and the White House.

The resignation of Mr Ryan – whose role as House speaker places him second-in-line to the president after Vice-President Mike Pence – will spark speculation about whether he could one day mount a White House campaign.

The clean-cut conservative, who has served in the House since 1999, was the Republican vice-presidential running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012.

In December Mr Ryan achieved his cherished goal of overhauling the US tax code, and according to Axios, regarded it as the capstone of his legislative career.

Republican congressman Steve Scalise and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus are among those being touted as possible successors.

Meanwhile, the House speaker whom Mr Ryan replaced – John Boehner – announced on Twitter he is joining the board of a legal cannabis corporation “because my thinking on cannabis has evolved”.

The Ohio Republican, who retired from politics in 2015, once said he was “unalterably opposed” to legalising marijuana.

 

The Müller Reports: The SS in the east

by Germar Rudolf and Frederick Toeben

The Official German RSHA Daily Reports on the Action of all Einsatzgruppen engaged in Anti-Partisan Warfare on the Eastern Front 23 June 1941 through 21 May 1943 inclusive.

These reports were issued over the signature of Heinrich Müller, Chief of the Gestapo.

The information in the following tables comes directly from twelve folders of IV A 1 Lagezimmer and are the only surviving originals of Ereignismeldung UdSSR. Numbers 1-195 from 23. June 1941 through 24 April 1942 by CdS/Amt IV A1 and Meldungen aus den besetzeten Ostgebeiten, Numbers 1-55 between 1 May 1942 and 31 May 1943 by CdS Kommando stab. Copies of these important documents can be found in the U.S. National Archives, Rolls T-175 No’s 233 through 236, the Berlin Document center in Berlin and the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich.

With the invasion of Soviet Russia on 21 June 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the RSHA instituted these reports into a comprehensive daily summery of the various daily reports submitted by the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos. “Sammelmeldung UdSSR, Nr. 1” was prepared by SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, head of Amt IV, the Gestapo. They were classified as “Geheime Reichssache” or Secret State matters and circulated to a limited distribution list (at first 10 copies, then distribution was expanded successively.)

The only known copies of these daily summaries was from the IV A 1 Lagezimmer. A typical; Ereignismeldung contains a list of Standorte of each HSSPF, KdS, Einsatzgruppe, Einsatzkommando, and Sonderkommando reporting, accounts of Bandenbekämpfung operations, including the shooting of Jews and Soviet Political Commissars, and reports on political and economic conditions much like those to be found in standard SD reports.

Since a great deal of fictional data has been presented concerning the number of Jews who died as a result of interactions with the Einsatzgruppen and their subgroups, it is instructive to study all of these daily, highly classified reports, and set down the actual numbers of the casualties on the Soviet Russian side. It is clearly obvious from reading through these over 4,000 pages of detailed reports that Jews were singled out for murder both because they were Jews but also because they were basically allied with the Soviet Partisan movement and were killed in combat with German security units.

It should be noted that these Müller reports were classified as highly secret and had a very limited circulation within the organs of the Third Reich. As Müller was noted for his accuracy and thoroughness, it is not possible that he invented these figures in the event that future scholars would be mislead by their contents

Very often numbers of Communist party officials and the dreaded Commissars were executed by the SD units when they were captured. As there were a significant number of Jews in these organs, it has been impossible to differentiate between the make up of the totals. The reports of executions were, in a number of cases, marked: Execution of Communist officials and Jews.

The following several examples of messages are from the Einsatzgruppen Reports.

The number of the report and the date will be noted with each excerpt. The

Einsatzgruppen reported on their activities to their respective headquarters which sent the information to Berlin. There the RSHA compiled concise reports in the name of the Chief of Sipo and the SD. Copies were distributed to high- ranking army, police and SS officers, diplomats, members of the foreign office an even to industrialists as they related to economic factors in the Soviet territories.  The Einsatzgruppen Reports were discovered by the U.S.Army in Gestapo headquarters in Berlin after the war. They were initially impounded by a research analyst attached to the Berlin branch of the Office of the Chief of Council for War Crimes. They were sealed and transported in the custody of the US Army to Nuremberg. During the first days of the Einsatzgruppen Trial, the authenticity of the reports was established beyond doubt and none of the German defendants challenged their validity.

After the trial, the original reports were sent to the National Archives in Washington, DC. In 1960 they were given to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz. Photocopies of all the reports remain in the National Archives, the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz , the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich and at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Examples of the Einsatzgruppen Reports

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 17

  1. July.1941

According to instructions by RSHA, liquidations of government and party officials, in all named cities of Byelorussia, were carried out. Concerning the Jews, according to orders, the same policy was adopted. The exact number of the liquidated has not as yet been established.

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 19

  1. July.1941

In Kaunas, up to now a total of 7,800 Jews have been liquidated, partly through pogroms and partly through shooting by Lithuanian Kommandos. All of the corpses have been removed. Further mass shootings are no longer possible.  Therefore, I summoned a Jewish committee and explained that up to now we had no reason to interfere with the internal arrangements between the Lithuanians and the Jews.

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 106

  1. October.1941

In agreement with the city military command, all the Jews of Kiev were ordered to appear at a certain place on Monday, 29 September, by 6 o’clock. This order was publicized by posters all over the town by members of the newly organized Ukrainian militia. At the same time, oral information was passed that all the Jews of Kiev would be moved to another place. In cooperations with the HQ of the Einsatzgruppen and two Kommandos of Police Regiment South, Sonderkommando 4a executed 33,771 Jews on September 29 and 30.

[NOTE: This took place outside of Kiev and is known, post-war as the so-called Babi Yar massacre.]

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 111

  1. October.1941

These were the reasons for the executions carried out by the Kommandos: political officials; plundereres and saboteurs; active Communists and political representatives; Jews who gained their release from prison camps by false statements; agents and informers of the NKVD; persons who by false depositions and witness influencing were instrumental in the deportation of ethnic Germans; Jewish sadism and revenge; undesirable elements; partisans; politruks; danger of plague and epidemics; members of Russian bands; armed  insurgents supplying Russian bands; rebels and agitators; drifting juveniles; Jews in general.

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 117

  1. October.1941

The districts occupied by the Kommandos were cleansed of Jews. 4,091 Jews and 46 Communists were executed during the time span covered by the report, bringing the total to 40,699 [for the period of 1-15 October 1941 by Einsatzgruppen D].

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 126

  1. October.1941

The difficulties in carrying out such a large action – first of all with respect to sowing disunity – were overcome in Kiev by a call via posters to the Jewish population that they were to move. Although at the start, one could count on the participation of about 5,000-6,000 Jews, more than 30,000 Jews turned up who, due to extraordinarily skillful organization, believed in the transfer right up to the moment of their execution.

Thus, even if about 75,000 Jews had been liquidated so far, it has already become clear that a solution of the Jewish question will not be possible in this way. True, we have succeeded in bringing about a total solution to the Jewish problem, particularly in smaller towns and also in the villages.  However, in bigger towns it was observed that all the Jews have disappeared after such an execution.

Operational Situation Report USSR No.127 

  1. Oct.1941

In this area the Security Police has come up against two major groups of adversaries. They are: 1) the Jews, 2) those once active in the former Soviet regime … In this regard it should be pointed out that in the Ukraine, those who sympathized with the Soviets were predominantly Jews … It can now be stated without reservation that the Jews were, without exception, supporters of Bolshevism. “Over and over again, particularly in the cities, the Jews are cited as the real Soviet rulers who exploited the people with indescribable brutality and delivered them to their deaths at the hands of the NKVD. The (German Security Police) units have carried out approximately 10,000 interrogations during the past four months. Again and again, the Jews were cited as having worked actively for the Soviets, if not in responsible positions then at least as agents, collaborators or informers. Not a single Jewish corpse had been found in any of the numerous mass graves. In any case, it is evident that the Jews share the greatest guilt with others for the slaughter of the Ukrainian people and the ethnic Germans.

For this reason, special measures against the Jews are considered necessary by the Security Police

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 173

  1. February.1942

In the course of a routine Security Police screening of an additional part of the civilian population around Leningrad, 140 more people had to be shot. The reasons for this were as follows:

  1. a) Active participation in the Communist Party before the arrival of the German troops;
  2. b) Seditious and provocative activity since the arrival of the German Army;
  3. c) Partisan activity;
  4. d) Espionage;
  5. e) Belonging to the Jewish race.

 

Babi Yar

Babi Yar is the name of a ravine situated just outside the city of Kiev, capital of  the Ukraine.  At the time that the events depicted below took place, Kiev was part of the USSR.  In the early hours of June 22, 1941, the armed forces of the Third Reich streamed across its eastern border with the USSR, initiating a military conflagration codenamed Operation Barbarossa, a conflict that in terms of the numbers of fatalities, wounded, barbarities committed, human suffering, both military and civilian, and the scale and scope of its international implications, most probably has no equal in human history.  Kiev fell to the German forces on September 19.  Prior to evacuating the city the Soviet security services had left explosives in a number of buildings set to detonate between September 24 and 28.   The buildings in which they had been placed were comandeered by the military administration and substantial casualties were sustained.

At a meeting which was attended by the military governor, the Higher SS and Police Leader, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, the commanding officer of Einsatzgruppe C, SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Otto Rasch, and the commanding officer of Sonderkommando 4a, SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel, it was decided that the appropriate response to this would be the elimination of the Jews of Kiev.

They, needless to say, had absolutely nothing to do with the explosions.  Sonderkommando 4a, included Security Service (Sicherheistdienst), Waffen-SS, and police battalion personnel.  Other police battalions and Ukrainian auxiliay police were drafted to assist in the operation.

On September 28, the Germans posted a notice all over town that read:

All [Jews] living in the city of Kiev and its vicinity are to report by 8 o’clock on the morning of Monday, September 29th, 1941, at the corner of Melnikovsky and Dokhturov Streets (near the cemetery). They are to take with them documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear, etc.

Any [Jew] not carrying out this instruction and who is found elsewhere will be shot.

Any civilian entering flats evacuated by [Jews] and stealing property will be shot.

Beginning on September 29, the Jews of Kiev were assembled and marched to the vicinity of the ravine.  Not far from its edge they were told to strip off their clothes and remove their valuables.   In groups of ten they were marched to to the edge, whereupon they were shot and fell into the Yar. The accepted estimate is that 33,771 Jews were executed in this manner.

Babi Yar continued to be an execution spots for many months subsequently.  Jews from other parts of the Ukraine were brought there for execution.  So to were Roma and Sinti, and Soviet prisoners of war.  The Soviet authorities estimated that approximately 100,000 corpses lay strewn across the bed of Babi Yar.  Beginning in July 1943 SS personnel were given the task of eliminating all evidence of the massacre.  To achieve this the corpses were exhumed and burnt.  The task of exhumation, moving and burning the corpses, was forced on inmates of the concentration camp Syretsk, 100 of whom were Jewish. Aided by landmoving machinery, the task was completed in six weeks.  No trace, apparently, was left.  With the exception of fifteen prisoners who knew what their ultimate fate was likely to be, and who escaped, the concentration camp inmates who had carried out this work were executed by the SS.

Although this method of eliminating Jews in areas occupied by the Germans post-June 22, 1941, was repeated on a massive scale by personnel of the Einsatzgruppen, various auxiliary forces, and police battalions in the occupied areas of the USSR, resulting in some 1.5 million Jewish dead, as well as the dead of members of other ethnic and national groups, the destruction of Kiev Jews at Babi Yar has come to symbolise the methods and incomprehensible barbarity of this phase of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe.

 

‘Bigger lunatic than Bush’: Twitter reacts to Trump missile threat

April 11, 2018

RT

President Donald Trump warned Russia to “get ready” for missile strikes on Syria, in an off-the-cuff response on Wednesday morning to an alleged chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces.

The US leader tweeted: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

The tweet provoked a flurry of reactions. Journalist Glenn Greenwald warned against a “dangerous and volatile” confrontation with Russia, and called those pushing Trump towards war “dangerous idiots.”

Other journalists were less measured. Your Voice America’s Joey M. led his own all-caps pep rally on Twitter, calling Trump’s threat an example of “PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH.”

Your Voice America co-host and Trump cheerleader Bill Mitchell was equally keen to show his support for the president:

British journalist and blogger Vanessa Beeley, who has covered the Syrian conflict intensively, was despondent that America seemed to be “taken to war by a bigger lunatic than Bush.”

On the right, Fox News’ Tomi Lahren simply warned Trump to “Stay out of Syria.”

Just days before the alleged chemical attack, Trump had teased about the possibility of a US withdrawal from Syria. During the previous administration, Trump had repeatedly warned President Barack Obama against intervening in the conflict, saying that “very bad things” would happen if he did.

Indeed, many of Trump’s supporters admired the president for his “America First” stance against intervention in foreign conflicts. During his election campaign, Trump blasted Hillary Clinton for her eagerness to strike Syria, telling reporters in a 2016 interview:

“You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton. You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, alright? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”

Trump’s tweet on Wednesday morning, while not an official declaration of war, seems to represent a complete shift in attitude by the president, and one that many of his voters will remember in 2020.

 

Mike Pompeo Could Go Down If Senate Democrats Decide to Fight

April 11, 2018

by Ryan Grim

The Intercept

Democratic activists around the country have become energized by the nomination of Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state, kicking off a bout of organizing around foreign policy that has little precedent outside the lead-up to an imminent invasion.

The question now is whether that enthusiasm will transfer to Senate Democrats themselves, or whether they will usher him through as they did in January 2017 when he was confirmed as CIA director. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., voted to confirm Pompeo last year.

Pompeo, a committed Islamophobe and war hawk, has galvanized opposition particularly for his hostility to the Iran nuclear deal, which Democrats see as a signature piece of the legacy of former President Barack Obama. Ripping up the deal, its advocates warn, would march the United States down a path that leads inevitably to war.

Pompeo, who previously represented Kansas in Congress, will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, where Republicans hold a one-member advantage. But with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., having already announced his opposition, that means a united Democratic front could reject Pompeo in committee.

A nominee can still be brought to the floor for a vote despite having been shot down in committee, but nobody has been successfully confirmed that way in at least 40 years. The last to try, coincidentally, was John Bolton in 2005, when the committee recommended against his appointment as U.N. ambassador. He was filibustered on the floor and ultimately snuck through as a brief recess appointment.

A loss in committee could make it easier for moderate Democrats to vote against Pompeo, argued Elizabeth Beavers, who handles national security and foreign policy for Indivisible, a syndicate of grassroots chapters that came together after the 2016 election to resist the Trump agenda. “It would change the calculus for senators on the floor,” said Beavers. Republicans would need every vote, including the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., merely to get to a place where Vice President Mike Pence could break a 50-50 tie, if Democrats unite against Pompeo. (The National Interest has reported that not only will McCain vote, he will vote no.)

That Pompeo was nominated along with Gina Haspel has only added fuel to the opposition. Haspel, deputy director of the CIA, has been named to head the agency, but she was intimately involved with the Bush administration’s torture program. (Her confirmation hearing is expected to be scheduled later this month.) The selection of the uber-hawk Bolton to be national security adviser one week after Pompeo and Haspel’s nominations frightened people into action, said Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War. “When Donald Trump hired John Bolton, the fight over Mike Pompeo went from being about just another terrible Trump nominee to potentially the difference between going to war or not,” he said. “What we’re hearing from our activists and our partners are that people are fired up.” (Bolton’s first day in the White House was Monday.)

A survey of California voters provided to The Intercept found that two-thirds of those surveyed have an opinion on Pompeo, and among those who do, they disapprove of him by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the liberal group MoveOn.org. By a 14-point margin, those polled said they want the Senate to reject Pompeo and that they would reward Democrats in the fall if they vote against him.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California voted to confirm Pompeo for CIA director last year, taking heat back home. Facing a primary challenge, she’s under pressure to reject him this time around, and advocates are confident she’ll come around.

“This should be a no-brainer. Not only is it good policy for Sen. Feinstein to oppose a warmongering extremist as the next leader of our nation’s diplomats, it’s also smart politics,” said MoveOn spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy.

MoveOn is planning a rally at the Capitol at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, while a coalition of Indivisible groups, representing some 33,000 members, sent Feinstein a letter on Monday urging her to reject Pompeo and Haspel.

“We can’t block John Bolton, we can’t force Trump to stay in the [Iran] deal, but we can block Pompeo, who would enable Trump in shredding the deal up,” Beavers said.

The Pompeo nomination, Beavers said, has been a major focus for the local activist groups that operate under the Indivisible umbrella. And at least 178 national groups — representing everything from reproductive rights to the environment and beyond — have signed four separate letters of opposition. Petitions are everywhere, launched by J Street, CREDO, Indivisible, Win Without War, and the National Iranian American Council. CREDO has sent more than 4,000 calls to key senators.

To have an immediate impact, Democrats only need to stave Pompeo off until May 12, the next deadline for Donald Trump to review whether to reapply sanctions on Iran, a move that would go a long way toward violating the deal on the U.S. end. (Though, with his nomination in doubt, Pompeo is now privately telling moderate Democratic senators that maybe he’s not in favor of ripping up the Iran deal after all.)

Trump has previously refused to certify that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal, though there is widespread international agreement that, by and large, Iran is doing so. For Trump to put pen to paper in affirmation of an agreement he has called “the worst deal” in U.S. history, though, is a bit much for him.

Not certifying the deal has no practical implications, but reapplying sanctions that were waived as part of the 2015 agreement would fundamentally undermine it. Up until now, even with Trump as president, the sanctions have been waived in accordance with the deal. But if the U.S. does renege on the deal and slap Iran with the sanctions, Russia and the European nations that are also party to the deal have pledged to try to keep it alive, as an Iran with nuclear weapon is in none of their interests. For U.S. hawks bent on war, however, an Iran that pursues a nuclear bomb is useful as a rationale for the kind of bombing that Pompeo and other hawks on the right have long suggested would be appropriate to check Iran’s regional ambitions.

Most senators have been withholding their positions until testimony has concluded. But last January, 14 Democrats and one independent voted to confirm Pompeo. They are:

  • Chuck Schumer of New York
  • Joe Donnelly of Indiana
  • Dianne Feinstein of California
  • Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire
  • Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
  • Tim Kaine of Virginia
  • Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Joe Manchin of West Virginia
  • Claire McCaskill of Missouri
  • Jack Reed of Rhode Island
  • Brian Schatz of Hawaii
  • Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
  • Mark Warner of Virginia
  • Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island
  • Angus King of Maine

The votes of Kaine and Shaheen, who are on the Foreign Relations Committee, will be pivotal this time around.

Progressive Democrats in 2014 used their position on the Senate Banking Committee to block the potential nomination of Larry Summers as chair of the Federal Reserve, letting the White House know that he lacked the votes to move through the panel.

Pompeo — who is charming and erudite in private, belying the menacing worldview just below the surface — has already begun to woo the Democrats he’ll need and has met with King and Heitkamp, CNN reported.

The Democrats who voted to confirm Pompeo to his CIA post last year and were surprised at the backlash, as well as some of his supporters — including Warner — have announced their opposition this time around.

 

Gulf Stream system at weakest point in 1,600 years

A further weakening of the system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean could wreak havoc on the Earth’s climate. But there isn’t too much reason to be overly concerned about a looming ice age — at least not yet.

April 11, 2018

by Ineke Mules

DW

Two new studies have found that the system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean is exceptionally weak — and its strength, or lack thereof, could have serious ramifications on the global climate.

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) — also known as the Gulf Stream system — is often described as part of the global ocean conveyor belt. It transports warm water from the Atlantic towards the Arctic, which influences the relatively mild climate of Western Europe. In the northern Atlantic, this surface water eventually cools and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, where another current transports it south to Antarctica before circulating back to the Gulf Stream and beginning the cycle anew. This entire process is known as thermohaline circulation.

However, a team of researchers from University College London (UCL) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have offered evidence from marine sediment that the AMOC is currently at its weakest point in the past 1,600 years.

Another study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) used climate model data and historical records of sea surface temperatures to reveal that the AMOC has been rapidly weakening since 1950 as a result of rising temperatures linked to global warming.

Both studies, which will be published together in the April 12 issue of Nature, strongly suggest that the AMOC has weakened over the past by 150 years by at least 15 percent to 20 percent.

A new understanding of the climate

Scientists have been studying the changes in the AMOC for decades, mostly through the use of computer simulations that predicted the circulation would slow down as a result of global warming.

However, the new studies represent the most compelling evidence yet that the AMOC is weakening. David Thornalley, one of the lead researchers of the UCL/WHOI study and senior lecturer at the UCL, said the findings will help scientists understand the longer-term context of how the AMOC is changing.

“We only have very short, direct observations since 2004, and that means it’s been very difficult to gain any longer-term perspective of the decline we’ve been seeing over the last 10 years and if that’s part of any longer-term trend,” he told DW. “Our study has used new techniques with marine sediment core — so relatively direct evidence — to extend, in effect, our observations and allow us to place what’s happening today in a longer-term context.”

What does this mean for the planet?

As an important component of our planet’s climate system, if the AMOC continues to weaken, weather patterns could be disrupted across the United States and Europe, and even the African Sahel region.

“The broader climate system as a whole has a lot of factors and a lot of complexity, and researchers are trying to better understand that,” Thornalley said. “We know that the AMOC does transport a lot of heat. It’s responsible for warming places like northwest Europe by up to 4 to 6 degrees Celsius. If that were to weaken then you would lose that source of heat. Because it transports heat around the globe, it kind of helps determine where climate patterns are.”

For example, he said, if the AMOC weakens there could be a shift in tropical rainfall belts or a strengthening of the winter storms that cross across the Atlantic into Europe. It may also cause a more rapid increase in sea level along the east coast of the United States due to changes in ocean density.

Worst case scenario

Concerns over the possibility of Earth entering a new ice age  as a result of the Gulf Stream slowdown are, however, unfounded. In fact, the theory that the Little Ice Age, which occurred between 1460 and 1550, was linked to the weakening of the AMOC has been disproven by the latest study from UCL/WHOI.

The worst case scenario, of course, is a complete shutdown of the AMOC — this is known as a shutdown of thermohaline circulation. But, farfetched though it may seem, scientists have said, based on what they know, it is an unlikely scenario but not a totally impossible one.

“The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research says a complete shutdown has something like a 5 to 10 percent chance of happening by 2100,” Thornalley said. “But there are still improvements to be made [in our understanding of the system]. There is a possibility that a shutdown could occur, and that is why we invest money into monitoring this system. Although it may be unlikely, if it did happen it would have very severe consequences.”

 

Study: Solar Cycle to Cause a ‘Mini Ice Age’ as Early as 2020

January 3, 2018

by Matt Agorist

Principia

A bombshell study, led by professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University, suggests that in the next few years Earth will enter into a cooling phase that will set off a series of events leading to a mini ice age.

Researchers came to the somewhat alarming conclusions by creating a mathematical model of the sun’s magnetic fields.

According to the models, there will be a “huge reduction” in solar activity for 33 years between 2020 and 2053. This will cause global temperatures to decrease—drastically. The temperatures will plummet to levels not seen since the 17th century.

As IFL Science reports, the future predicted activity of the Sun has been likened to the Maunder Minimum. This was a period when the Sun entered an especially inactive period, producing fewer sunspots than usual. This minimum happened at the same time that conditions in Northern America and Europe went unusually icy and cold, a period of time known as the “little ice age.”

“During the minimum, the intensity of solar radiation will be reduced dramatically. So we will have less heat coming into the atmosphere, which will reduce the temperature,” Zharkova explained.

While some of those in the mainstream media used this study as a means of inciting panic about mass famine and human casualties, in reality, a mini-ice age will be managable—thanks to modern technology.

As IFL Science reports:

The previous Maunder Minimum occurred in the 17th century and lasted between 50 and 60 years. During this time, winters were colder: for example the River Thames, which usually flows through London, notoriously froze over. The ice was so thick that people could walk from one side to the other. However, the citizens that lived in freezing, 17th century Europe survived these cold winters, and they didn’t have the heating technology that we are fortunate enough to have today. If the next solar activity minimum does affect the weather on Earth, it will not be deadly for the human race.

Speaking to Sputnik, Zharkova explained that ice ages “keep repeating every 350-400 years because the Sun goes through this [period of] minimum activity.”

She said planet Earth has “natural mechanisms” designed to withstand ice ages and has done so “for billions of years and survived.”

Although humans have the technology to survive such a drastic shift in climate, as Zharkova notes, it will not be without some struggle.

“The problem will be for us to pass through the minimum of current magnetic field activity, which will come in the next 30 years, because I can only guess that the vegetation period will start reducing,” she said.

“If you have less [solar] emissions, less radiation and dropping temperatures it means that vegetables won’t be able to grow properly, wheat can’t grow properly, so we might have a problem with some sorts of food which we will probably need to think through.”

The reduction in global warming will only last until the sun becomes more active again in the 2050s, Zharkova said.

“We have to be sorted by that time and prepare everything on Earth for the next big solar activity,” she said.

Zharkova’s research has been carried out over many years and has come to similar predictions for the future of the climate in the past. As TFTP reported in 2015, the group of astrophysicists noted that our planet is just 15 years from a new ‘mini ice age’ that could cause extremely cold winters characterized by the freezing of normally ice-free rivers as well as by year-round snowfields in areas that have never witnessed such climate conditions before.

In continuing their studies, it appears that this ice age is closer than originally thought. Although the media and government may use this coming cool period to promote fear, Zharkova left IFL Science with a word of advice. “It will be cold, but it will not be this ice age when everything is freezing like in the Hollywood films,” she said.

 

 

 

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