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TBR News April 13, 2019

Apr 13 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April  13, 2019: “Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for April 13:

Trump is terrified lest Congress, and the public get their hands on his tax returns. He boasts that he had never paid taxes for years and never will and if he has nothing to hide, he would stop screeching. Anyone who knows Trump knows he is as crooked as Franklin Roosevelt but unlike Frankin, he boasts of his shady and crooked deals. But he feels he is now the King of the United States and no one can touch him. In this concept, Trump is wrong but God help anyone who would tell him this. People quit work here daily but are only clerks and so on and do not get press coverage, but big ticket operators are another matter and they, too are either sacked for daring to disagree with His Majesty or leave in disgust when they see what hs is doing

”The Table of Contents

  •  Encyclopedia of American Loons

-Hal Lindsey

-Stephen Pidgeon

  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversation
  • Where Trump’s and Bibi’s Interests Clash
  • Emmanuel Macron’s national debate fails to stop protests
  • Diego Garcia: The ‘Unsinkable Carrier’ Springs a Leak
  • A Californian secession could cause a snowball effect What if the internet stopped working for a day?
  • Twisting Media News Reporting
  • Democrats set new deadline for release of Trump tax returns
  • Trump’s immigration moves are straight from the dictator’s playbook

 

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

  • Hal Lindsey

Harold Lee “Hal” Lindsey is a deranged madman probably best known for the 1973 book The Late Great Planet Earth, which promoted fundamentalist Christian end-times rapture dogma drivel and dispensationalism. For some reason or other the book managed to end up not only as a best-seller, but as the best-selling non-fiction book of the entire 1970s – even though it should of course never have been classified as non-fiction to begin with. At least it contained early versions of most of the current standard-fare RaptureReady conspiracies – the EU is a revival of the Roman Empire, and will eventually be ruled by the Antichrist (though Lindsey has later assigned that role to Obama), and so on.

The sequel, Satan Is Alive and Well On Planet Earth, continued in the same absurd manner, with dire warnings concerning hip young people getting into astrology, Tarot cards, Ouija boards, marijuana, LSD, and Satanism (this was in the 1970s), and Lindsey went on to become a major promoter of the Satanic Panic and Satanic ritual abuse myths in the 80s, most notably when he championed the fraudulent “testimony” of serial fake-victim storyteller Lauren Stratford. It is less clear why Lindsey would worry so much about trends in society when he had already predicted – and welcomed – the end of the world.

In 1980, he published The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, making the prediction that a pre-tribulational rapture would take place in 1981, based mostly on the Biblical signficance of the foundation of Israel and the commitments that event put on God. When Jesus didn’t return in 1981 (or 1988, which was the second choice), Lindsey postponed Jesus’s return to 2011 or 2018. In Planet Earth – 2000 A.D., published in the early 1990s, he reaffirmed his prophecy, stating that Christians should not plan to still be on earth by the year 2000. In Facing Millennial Midnight: The Y2K Crisis Confronting America and the World, he predicted widespread confusion and panic over the Y2K crisis, seven years before the 40th anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the Israelis, which was then claimed to be the event which really got the prophetic clock ticking all along. Of course, Y2K was a bust, and 2007 passed without Armageddon. Lindsey’s most recent suggestion for the return of Jesus is 2018 or, at the latest, 2037. 2021 has also been suggested based on rather feeble applications of numerology.

At present Lindsey hosts a TV news show where he mostly loons around about “Islamofascism” and praises St. George Bush. The focus on Islam is presumably a development from The Late, Great Planet Earth, according to which the Soviet Union would play the role of antagonist during the End Times. Since the Soviet Union is no longer around, Lindsey had to find a new antagonist, and Islam seemed to serve the purpose – not if you actually cared about reasoning, rationality, truth, evidence or reality, but that was never an obstacle for Lindsey. Apparently the obviously satanic Trilateral Commission also plays a role.

Lindsey has also written for the WND, including an essay arguing that Obama is paving the way for and demonstrating the world’s readiness for the Antichrist: “Obama is correct in saying that the world is ready for someone like him – a messiah-like figure, charismatic and glib […] The Bible calls that leader the Antichrist. And it seems apparent that the world is now ready to make his acquaintance,” said Lindsey.

In another WND article, Lindsey drew a biblical connection to the BP oil spill based primarily on numerology. Hal should know his oil, however, since he has been a staunch promoter of Zion Oil, one of the most fantastically delusional projects in recent times. He has also written about the conncetion between Hurrican Katrina and God’s anger – and been, as usual, dead wrong – and about the connection between the increase in earthquake frequency (false) and the endtimes (this is about an article by Greg Laurie in the same vein).

Diagnosis: One of the most monstrously lunatic people in the US, and that says a bit; Lindsey’s star might be fading, but he is still wielding a bit of power.

  • Stephen Pidgeon

Stephen Pidgeon is a Washington attorney and former candidate for State Attorney General (he lost the primaries), anti-gay activist and general rightwing conspiracy theorist. There’s a decent profile of him here.

Pidgeon is a birther, and in 2008 he led a Lawsuit Challenging Obama’s Presidential Eligibility (supported by the WND, of course), which was promptly dismissed by the courts because it “clearly lacked merit”, and in 2009 he filed a petition in federal court in D.C. seeking a grand jury investigation of those claims, which was equally quickly dismissed. In 2011, Pidgeon therefore self-published a book, The Obama Error, promoting his theories and accusing Obama of committing several federal crimes for the purpose of concealing information about his birth; chapters include “The unlawful birth of Barack Obama” and “Is Obama and Agent of a Foreign Principal?”. With regard to Obama’s long-form birth certificate, Pidgeon claims that there has “been several – well there’s been, I would say probably twenty five forensic analyses of the long-form birth certificate, all which indicate the thing is completely fraudulent, from the fact is has [inaudible], from the fact that there’s page slants on the original form and not on the [inaudible] documentation. It’s just a complete fraud.” “Forensic analysis” apparently means rants on conspiracy blogs. He also claimed to have shown that Obama legally changed his name from “Barak Mounir Ubayd” to “Barack Hussein Obama” in British Columbia in 1982, a claim that even fellow birthers have been hesitant to accept. Indeed, according to Pidgeon, “I believe Malcolm X is the true father,” and that Obama “was born in Seattle” in 1961, which would sort of undercut some of the ineligibility claims of most birthers, but to Pidgeon makes him doubly ineligible since it makes Obama “not only a communist, but a communist Muslim.” Apparently, Obama, who by 2010 was killing off his relatives to conceal information about his birth, is also “a British subject and has no business holding the office of POTUS.” We haven’t tried to figure out how that claim is supposed to fit in Pidgeon’s big picture. In 2009, he also alleged that he was being “shadowed all day” by officers from the Department of Homeland Security because of his work investigating Obama’s birth certificate

The Obama Erroris not Pidgeon’s only self-published book about Obama, however. In 2010, Pidgeon self-published Behold! A White Horse!, an entire book comparing President Obama to the anti-Christ, as per predictions in Revelations. Mostly, however, Pidgeon thinks that Obama is a Muslim whose “ultimate objective is to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate with him as caliph, declaring himself to be God in the temple of God that will be constructed in Jerusalem on the temple mount. That’s what he intends. That’s who he thinks he is.” Moreover, “do not think that he is not a Nazi. He is an Islamic Nazi. He is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is engaged in economic jihad in the United States for the ultimate overthrow of this country,” since Nazis, communists, muslims and atheists are all the same. “We’re in the middle of a revolution,” asserted Pidgeon in 2011, and “Obama’s Inauguration. .. was the death knell for the Constitutional Republic.” (Most of these claims are from interviews with Rick Wiles, which we won’t link to.)

Of course the Democrats are in on the plot; liberals in general are “socialist, totalitarian, God-hating marxists” who are not only wrong but part of a deliberate conspiracy to overthrow the republic. The Democrats’ social security solution, for instance, is to “kill the elderly” and “destroy the unborn.” In 2016, before the election, Pidgeon and Alex Jones together painted a frightening picture of the country’s future, which included internment camps (“it’s gun control today and internment camps tomorrow”), martial law and dictatorship. According to Pidgeon, the Affordable Care Act and Obama’s executive actions on gun reform are both “policies that were originated in the Third Reich,” and part of Obama’s plot to “completely disarm the American public while he imports hundreds of thousands of Muslim terrorists and other paid mercenaries who come into the country unarmed to find mosques that are essentially armories.” Meanwhile, Obama is using taxpayer dollars to aid terrorist groups including “Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Army [sic], Islamic jihad,” as well as ISIS, of course. “The theory,” he said, which was ostensibly “proposed initially by Adolf Hitler,” is that “National Socialism works better in a Muslim society than it does in a Christian society, so the concept within the New World Order is to Islamify all of Western society so that the dictatorship will flow more easily and that the population will be more easily controlled.” Why, you might ask? Well, the liberal elite consists of “power-hungry people and they go to bed at night thinking about how they are going to kill 5 billion human beings,” said Pidgeon.

And of course, Pidgeon is a global warming denialist. In his – you guessed it – self-published book Behold! A Pale Green Horse!he argues at length that “man-made global warming is a lie used to justify an international totalitarian order.” The book, which is not particularly concerned with the science, is full of conspiracy theories about nefarious shadow agencies; “[s]imply put,” says Pidgeon, “the hypothesis that man’s output of CO2 is causing the earth to warm is a lie, and it is a lie that has been raised intentionall by a group of international fascists seeking to create and control an international totalitarian order and to pocket a cool fortune while doing so. They have an agenda – a green fascist agenda.” (Chapters include “Architects in the Global Warming Fraud,” “The Campaign To Destroy America’s Future,” and “The International Conspiracy,” all arguing that environmentalism is just a cover for attempts to institute totalitarianism, fascism and even “genocide”).

Pidgeon is, however, probably best known as an anti-gay activist. He was long part of Protect Marriage Washington, an anti-gay marriage group, seeking to block the release of signatures on the unsuccessful Referendum 71 campaign, and spokesman for the anti-gay Initiative 1192 in 2012, which “reaffirms the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.” As he sees things, judges in America (i.e. the Constitution) are creating “a form of totalitarianism” that “violates the fundamental freedoms of what it means to be an American” in order to “impose” same-sex marriage on him. Which is really bad since marriage equality creates an “order of death”; when “you come in and you introduce the concept of same-sex marriage or secular marriage, or any of the other rituals that have been formed by the state – and what you do is disestablish the godly order in favor of an order of death. And governments become more and more deadly when their adversary, the family, is destroyed.” That the purpose of legal protections of marriage is, by the Constitution, necessarily not to protect the order of God, seems to have escaped him. Elsewhere he has argued that “homosexual rights are about population control,” and it is effective because when you take away obstacles to living in homosexual relationships, people like Pidgeon will immediately be tempted to leave their heterosexual lives behind and jump on the gay train like they’ve always really wanted anywas.

Of course, gay marriage is not really aboutmarriage; rather, as Pidgeon sees it, same-sex marriage is a form of “worship to the demons of Olympus.” In addition marriage equality is “moral fascism,” and an “act of war against the family,” and it will even “lower the status of women in society” because “women only achieve equality in a society that provides for monogamy in a one man, one woman marriage. Period. Every other society that has abandoned that standard – which is a Christian standard I might add [it is obviously not] – when you abandon that standard, guess what, women lose status.” He was understandably a bit short on the whys and hows.

Not the least, Pidgeon has actually written and self-published his own, strikingly bizarre version of the Bible containing a “lost” chapter of Acts, thus bringing the Bible more in line with what Pidgeon wants it to say. In particular, in addition to some judicious corrections (Pidgeon claims to have “limited working proficiency” in Hebrew and no Greek), Pidgeon has relied on the “Suninni Manuscript”, which is actually the “Sonnini Manuscript”, an obscure nineteenth century forgery created to promote British-Israelism by saying that Paul traveled to the UK to preach to lost Israelites. The effort was, of course, promoted by the WND.

Diagnosis: As always, coherence, evidence, accountability, truth and accuracy are liberal conspiracies. Pidgeon is the kind of insane wingnut conspiracy theorist that might make even James Dobson blush. We probably gave him a bit more attention than he deserves, but he does apparently have an audience.

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

April 13, 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. 42

Date: Monday, October 14, 1996

Commenced: 9:45 AM CST

Concluded: 10:21 AM CST

 

GD: Robert.

RTC: Good morning, Gregory.

GD: Have you heard anything more from Critchfield?

RTC: Yes, I have. He’s calmed down some and is now blaming me for blindsiding him.

GD: Well, actually you did. Telling him I was one of his boys.

RTC: I implied, Gregory. Only implied. And Jim is trying to dig up more information for his stupid book and he went for it. It worked out fine, but he cursed at me and said I got him in over his head.

GD: Pompous asshole. One of these days, I’ll get out the story about him and Atwood selling Russian atomic shells to the Pakis. You know Jim was the arms dealer and Critchfield was building a retirement nest egg so they went ahead with this. Jim’s people had been supplying the Afghan rebels with weapons to use against the Russians and the connections are there. Just think, Robert. They sold thirty shells to potential lunatic enemies. Oh, they might be thankful we helped them but in the end, they are religious fanatics and they will prove to be a real crown of thorns to us. Just an opinion, of course.

RTC: Well, Jim would like to find some way to shut you up, short of killing you. He’s not in power anymore so maybe he’ll bribe you.

GD: In my experience, Robert, those people never bribe anyone. They threaten them and yell at them, but never resort to an actual bribe. Unless, of course, they are bribing a Russian military person to get them some atomic shells. Then, they bribe.

RTC: Not to offend you, Gregory, but would you take a bribe?

GD: Depends on how much and what the issue is. Generally, people don’t try to bribe me. Threaten me, of course, or insult me, certainly, but no bribes. I wonder what would happen to Critchfield’s precious image if it ever came out? Atwood is known as a piece of worthless shit and he has no reputation to lose.

RTC: Jim is very incensed about Atwood at this point.

GD: Remember, we have a bet.

RTC: Not a real bet.

GD: I have been reading over some of this ZIPPER business, Robert. Very interesting to say the least.

RTC: Now, Gregory, we are not specific on the phone.

GD: No, no, I’m aware of that. You know, what with all the strange stories about that incident, I might have an uphill fight to get the book accepted.

RTC: Ah yes, the nut fringe. Highly entertaining material.

GD: Yes, but rather misleading.

RTC: Oh that’s why we support them, Gregory. Muddy the waters. Keep the public eye elsewhere. Away from dangerous subjects. The public loves conspiracies so we supply them. A real conspiracy is difficult to conceal, Gregory. Too many people, too many chances for leaks. Joe gets drunk and tells his brother and so on. Sometimes, we’ve had to remove people like that, but not very often. Johnson was in the know but I doubt if he’d tell Lady Bird, let alone a reporter. And officially, don’t forget that Hoover was also on board. His people can shut you down very quickly. They’ll find a machine gun under the front seat of your car and off you go, screaming innocence all the way to the big house.

GD: But what happens if an FBI man says something?

RTC: Well, they aren’t bulletproof. Bill Sullivan found that out.

GD: Oh yes, I saw the name in the ZIPPER papers.

RTC: He was Hoover’s man in that. And other projects as well. Bill and Hoover had a falling out and Hoover sacked him. Not only did he sack him, Hoover began to threaten him. I guess Bill got terminated finally because he had begun to grumble too much and to the wrong people.

GD: What happened? A car accident?

RTC: No, he went out for a walk one morning and some young hunter thought he was a deer and shot him in the head.

GD: Oh my, what a tragedy.

RTC: Bill thought that because J. Edgar was dead, he could mouth off. He was a bitter man, Gregory, and then he was a dead one. With all his baggage, Bill should have stayed in New Hampshire and enjoyed his retirement.

GD: Baggage?

RTC: You don’t know any of this, of course, but Sullivan was up to his neck in business that would have put him away for life if it ever came out. He was top man in the Bureau and Hoover’s hatchet man. Besides being involved up to his neck in the ZIPPER business, Bill also took out King and Bobby Kennedy.

GD: Jesus H. Christ, Robert.

RTC: Well, we get the blame for all kinds of shit and it’s comforting to spread it around. Certainly. Old Hoover hated both King and Bobby. Why? Hoover has been suspected of being a high yellow…

GD: What?

RTC: Part black. True or not, it’d gotten around and he knew about it. Hoover also was probably a queer but again, not proven. He had his areas of great sensitivity, let’s say. No, he hated King because J. Edgar hated blacks. I mean really hated them. Wouldn’t let them in the Bureau and persecuted any black leaders he could. Like Marcus Garvey.

GD: And King.

RTC: Hoover was outraged that King had a white girlfriend and did everything he and his Bureau did to slam him. Finally, as he got older, Hoover got nuttier and decided to have him killed. Sullivan ran that operation. First they tried to tap his phones and plant stories about him and when that didn’t work, they offed him.

GD: What about James Earl Ray?

RTC: Another Oswald. You see, the Bureau has a very small group of miscreants who do jobs on people. Sullivan ran them for Hoover. Ray was a very minor and very low class crook. A smash and grab type. Bust a window in an appliance store and run off with an iron or a toaster. Break into a laundromat, jimmy open the coin boxes on the machines, steal the coins and then cut his bare feet on the broken glass he left breaking the window. Hardly sophisticated enough to shoot King, escape to Canada, get a fake Canadian passport in the name of a Montreal police officer and flee to England. Not likely, Gregory. If Ray knew who put him up to being a front, they would have killed him just like they shot Oswald. Ray didn’t know, although he probably guessed at one point, and off he went for the rest of his life. He can scream innocent until he dies and no one will listen.

GD: And Bobby?

RTC: Bobby was a nasty piece of shit who made enemies whenever he went for a walk. He was his brother’s hit man, in a figurative sense, his pimp. He was the AG, put in there by Joe so Joe could get back his confiscated Farben stock and also go after the mob. Back in Prohibition, I can tell you, Joe was a partner of Capone’s and Joe was stupid enough to rip Al off. Al put out a contract on Joe and Joe had to pay Al to cancel it. And from then on, Joe was out to get anyone in the Mob. Pathological shit, Joe was.

GD: My grandfather told me all about him.

RTC: Well, when Bobby got to be AG, he harassed old Hoover, trying to make him quit. Not a very good idea, but then Bobby thought he was safe. His father was very rich, his brother was President and he thought he couldn’t be touched. For example, Hoover used to take a nap on his office couch every day and Bobby would bang into his office and wake him up. And worse, Bobby would tell his friends, at parties where there were many ears, that Hoover was an old faggot.

GD: Some people seem to have a death wish. This reminds me of the street freak who climbed over the wall at the San Francisco zoo once, climbed right into the outdoor tiger rest area, walked up to a sleeping male tiger and kicked him in the balls. Tiger was very angry, got up in a rage, smacked the intruder, killed him and was eating him, right in front of the horrified zoo visitors. That kind of a thing, right?

RTC: A good analogy. You grasp the situation, Hoover stayed in power because he had files on all the men in power, to include JFK and his father. Not a man to antagonize is it?

GD: I would think not.

RTC: Johnson was terrified of Hoover and kissed his ass on every occasion, but Bobby was running for president and it looked like he might make it. That’s when Hoover talked to Sullivan and we know the rest. Just some background here. This Arab….

GD: Sirhan.

RTC: Yes. Note that Kennedy had come down from his suite in the Ambassador Hotel to give a victory speech. Came into the hall from the front door with all his happy staff. Big crowd. One of his aides, Lowenstein, I believe, told him they should go out through the kitchen exit. And there was what’s-his-name waiting. But he shot at Kennedy without question, with a dinky .22 but never got to within five feet of him. The official autopsy report said Kennedy was shot behind the ear at a distance of two inches. Now that sounded to me like a very inside job. They steered him into an area where an assassin was known to be waiting and made sure he bought the farm. In all the screaming and confusion, just a little bit of work by a trusted aide or bodyguard and Bobby was fatally shot. That was the second one of Hoover’s pet hates. The first one reminded him of the nigger relationship and the other had called him a faggot. Hoover had his moments but if you stepped on his toes, off came your head. But Hoover was afraid of Sullivan so he left him alone.

GD: Then…

RTC: We decided that Sullivan, freed of the spirit of Hoover, who had died some years before, Sullivan began to talk just a little. We didn’t care about the King or the Bobby business but if he talked about ZIPPER, we would be in the soup, so Sullivan had to go.

GD: Someone persuaded him to put on a deer suit?

RTC: No, he was walking in the woods and some kid, armed with a rifle and a telescopic sight, blew him away. Terribly remorseful. Severe punishment for him. Lost his hunting license for a year. Think of that, Gregory. For a whole year. A terrible tragedy and that was the end of that.

GD: Can I use that?

RTC: If you want. It’s partially public record. If you can dig it out on your own…

GD: I’ll try. Thanks for the road map.

RTC: Why, think nothing of it.

GD: But back to the ZIPPER thesis. I was saying about the proliferation of conspiracy books that I would have trouble.

RTC: Of course, Gregory. We paid most of those people to put out nut stuff. Why the Farrell woman, one of the conspiracy theme people, is one of ours. We have others. We have a stable of well-paid writers whose sole orders are to produce pieces that excite the public and keep them away from uncomfortable truths. I imagine if and when you publish, an army of these finks will roar like your angry tiger and we won’t have to pay them a dime. They’ve carved out a territory and if you don’t agree with them, they will shit all over you. I wish you luck, Gregory. And I can guarantee that the press will either keep very, very quiet about you or will make a fool out of you. We still do control the press and if we say to trash an enemy, they will do it. And if the editor won’t, we always talk to the publishers. Or, more effective, one of my business friends threatens to pull advertising from the rag. That’s their Achilles heel, Gregory. No paper can survive on subscription income alone. The ads keep it going. In the old days, a word from me about ad-pulling made even the most righteous editor back down in a heartbeat. We bribe the reporters and terrify their bosses. They talk about the free press who know nothing about the realities.

GD: Nicely put, Robert.

RTC: We should have you come back here one of these days for a sit-down. Bill wants to do this. Are you game?

GD: Will men in black suits meet me at the airport?

RTC: I don’t think so, Gregory.

GD: Maybe one of them will hit me with their purse.

RTC: Now, Gregory, that isn’t kind.

GD: I’m sure Hoover wouldn’t have thought so.

 

(Concluded at 10:21 AM CST)

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

 

Where Trump’s and Bibi’s Interests Clash

April 12, 2019

by Patrick J. Buchanan

On Monday, President Donald Trump designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, the first time the United States has designated part of another nation’s government as such a threat.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist group.

With 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria, often in proximity to Iranian units, this inches America closer to war.

Why did we do it? What benefit did the U.S. derive?

How do we now negotiate with the IRGC on missile tests?

Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu took credit for Trump’s decision, tweeting, “Once again you are keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism. … Thank you for accepting another important request of mine.”

Previous “requests” to which Trump acceded include moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, declaring Jerusalem Israel’s eternal capital, closing the Palestinian consulate and cutting off aid, and U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967, as sovereign Israeli territory.

What Bibi wants, Bibi gets.

One hopes his future requests will not include a demand that we cease dithering and deliver the same “shock and awe” to Iran that George W. Bush delivered to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

With Bibi’s election win Tuesday, his fifth, the secret Mideast peace plan Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been laboring on these last two years is likely to be unveiled.

Yet it is hard to see how Jared’s baby is not stillborn.

Bibi is not going to accept a Palestinian right of return to Israel, or a sharing of the Holy City with a Palestinian state ruled by a successor of Yasser Arafat. And as Bibi fought Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of the 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza, he is not going to order the removal of tens of thousands of Jewish settlers from homes on the West Bank.

Indeed, on the eve of his reelection Tuesday, Bibi promised Israelis he would begin the annexation of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

As for Trump, he is the most popular man in Israel. And he is not going to force Bibi to do what Bibi does not want to do and thereby imperil his major political gains in the U.S. Jewish community.

Given the indulgence of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for BDS, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, and the divisions among Democrats over Netanyahu’s expansionism, the president’s pro-Israel stance has proven a political winner for the GOP.

But while a U.S. war with Iran may be what Bibi wants, it is not what America wants or needs.

Consider what 20 years of U.S. wars in the Mideast have cost this country, as China has stayed out of the region and pushed its power and influence into Asia, Africa and Europe.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have regained control of more territory than they have held since 2001, and they are negotiating with the Americans for a withdrawal of our remaining 14,000 troops.

Cost of the Afghan war: 2,400 U.S. dead, 32,000 wounded, $1 trillion sunk, and the U.S. on the precipice of a potential strategic defeat.

So dreadful has become the five-year Yemeni civil war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed regime they ousted that the U.S. House and Senate have invoked the War Powers Act and directed Trump to terminate U.S. assistance for the Saudi intervention.

In Libya, where a U.S.-led NATO intervention overthrew Colonel Gadhafi in 2011, a renegade general now controls two-thirds of the country and is mounting an assault on Tripoli. U.S. soldiers and diplomats fled the capital last week.

In Syria, President Bashar Assad, with the support of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, defeated the U.S. backed-rebels years ago.

The Syrian Kurdish militia we partnered with to crush ISIS have been designated as terrorists by the Turks, who promise to annihilate the Kurds if they try to return to homes along the Turkish border.

As for Turkey itself, President Erdogan says he will take delivery this summer of a Russian-made S-400 air and missile defense system.

Go through with that, says the U.S., and we cancel your order for 100 F-35s. The justified U.S. fear: Russia’s S-400 system will be tested against America’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter, the F-35.

If Turkey does not cancel the S-400, a NATO crisis appears imminent.

In Iraq, where 5,000 U.S. troops remain, the government has both pro-U.S. and pro-Iran elements in Baghdad, and mutual designation of the IRGC and CENT-COM as terrorist organizations can only present hellish problems for America’s soldiers and diplomats still in that country.

Bottom line: Though Bibi and John Bolton may want war with Iran, U.S. national interests, based on the awful experience of two decades, and Trump’s political interests, dictate that he not start any more wars.

Not a single Middle East war this century has gone as we planned or hoped.

 

Emmanuel Macron’s national debate fails to stop protests

The French PM has presented the results of the “grand national debate,” but critics have not been silenced. Now, the “yellow vests” nationwide have announced a fresh wave of protests, and what comes next is unclear.

April 13, 2018

by Lara Gohr

DW

For Lilian, it is another Saturday spent protesting. At 11 a.m. in his yellow vest, the 39-year-old set off for the Place de la Nation, one of the central squares in Paris.

He has come from his home in the Parisian suburbs to join a crowd of other demonstrators for the “yellow vest” movement. “We want transparency, justice, and genuine democracy,” he says; he sees the movement as “a kind of mini French revolution.”

Lilian is one of thousands of demonstrators who, with months of protests, have plunged the French government deep into crisis.

The original trigger for the uproar was an increase in fuel tax, but the yellow vest movement quickly became a mass mobilization for dissatisfied people from all walks of life.

An undefined movement

Every Saturday since November, the protests have paralyzed cities all over France. Apart from their high-visibility yellow workers’ vests, there is not a lot that unites the movement other than the demand for higher purchasing power and democracy. The political spectrum of the movement ranges from the far-left to the far-right, but massive disruptions to the French capital in mid-March were mainly attributed to radical right-wing rioters.

Not just Paris has been affected, however. Torched cars and smashed windows have a become Saturday routine in many cities, as the yellow vests have been protesting regularly in the smaller provincial cities such as Bordeaux and Marseille.

This weekend, for example, an internet group called for the southern city of Toulouse to be “conquered.”

In December, French President Emmanuel Macron realized that he had to make a concession to the protesters. He raised the minimum wage by €100 ($113) a month, reduced taxes on overtime wages and made a small increase to pensions.

However, when the yellow vests did not disappear from the streets, the government announced a civil discussion: a “grand national debate.”

PM tells parliament to take action

During the debate, people were encouraged to vent their frustrations in local discussion groups, letters, emails and via an online platform. The number of entries reached about 2 million. Macron’s Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, took stock of the figure this week.

He told both houses of parliament — the National Assembly and the Senate — that the government must cut taxes more quickly than planned, restore confidence in politics and state institutions, and renew democracy.

The debate revealed that overall, people also wanted action for the environment but were not want to pay higher taxes for it. Some of these demands thus seem contradictory and or difficult to fulfill.

Election campaign 2.0

Economist Gregory Claeys from Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank, says many of these promises resulting from the national debate are the same as were made in Macron’s election campaign. Claeys views this as cherry picking; the government is in essence only selecting points already in line with its agenda. “For example, many citizens brought up public services, which the prime minister no longer mentions.”

But Macron continues to stall on reforming France’s bloated public sector because it is particularly sensitive — he was the first president in France’s history to promise to reduce the number of civil servants. If he appeases the yellow vests on certain topics, the public sector issue could become his next big problem.

Participation lower than touted

The government celebrated the end of the national debate as a democratic success. However, French daily Le Monde pointed out the limits of its method.

The newspaper reported that 1.9 million of the entries came from a single online platform which, after closer analysis, contained duplicates or empty fields in over 50 percent of its entries. Most entries contained less than ten words, and only about 250,000 people had filled in a question at all, the paper reported.

Moreover, opposition leaders — Marine Le Pen from right-wing National Rally and Jean-Luc Melenchon from of left-wing France Unbowed — rejected any form of participation in the debate, saying they considered it a form of government campaign.

The majority of the yellow vests — people like Lilian and his friends from Paris — also boycotted the discussion rounds. “I went to one of these events, but I wasn’t allowed to speak at all,” says the 39-year-old. “Only the elected representatives and the organizer had their say.” After this experience, he stopped going altogether.

The yellow vests have started their own dialogue, which they call the “true debate.” One of their most important concerns is the call for citizens’ initiatives: “That is what people really want, and we’re continuing to protest for that,” says Lilian

Slippery slope on tax cuts?

If Macron were to give in to more demands stemming from the national debate, he would have to make further tax cuts. Economic expert Claeys is skeptical. He says the government has already done a lot to increase purchasing power: “Workers will notice the reduction in social security contributions this year in their increased net wage.

For most taxpayers, Macron abolished local taxes, which were particularly burdensome for those living in rural areas. “The abolition of this tax is a real relief for many French people,” explains Claeys.A

At the beginning of the year the government also increased social benefits for low income earners. But the French president cannot fundamentally not afford to make any concessions if he wants to comply with EU regulations on the national debt. Many saw his idea of the national debate merely as a clever but inexpensive idea to appease the population. The further tax cuts now being called could become a serious problem for Macron. The president is set to address the country before Easter and offer concrete suggestions. What exactly he will put on the table is as yet unclear.

 

Diego Garcia: The ‘Unsinkable Carrier’ Springs a Leak

April 13, 2019

by Conn Hallinan

Tom Dispatch

e recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands – with its huge U.S. military base at Diego Garcia – are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh.

For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the first and second Gulf wars, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the war in Libya. Its strategic location between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India gives the US access to the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the vast Indian Ocean. No oil tanker, no warship, no aircraft can move without its knowledge.

Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: No journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years, and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the US Congress.

The February 25 Court decision has put a dent in all that by deciding that Great Britain violated United Nations Resolution 1514 prohibiting the division of colonies before independence. The UK broke the Chagos Islands off from Mauritius, a former colony on the southeast coast of Africa that Britain decolonized in 1968. At the time, Mauritius objected, reluctantly agreeing only after Britain threatened to withdraw its offer of independence.

The Court ruled 13-1 that the UK had engaged in a “wrongful act” and must decolonize the Chagos “as rapidly as possible.”

“The Great Game” in the Indian Ocean

While the ruling is only “advisory,” it comes at a time when the US and its allies are confronting or sanctioning countries for supposedly illegal occupations – Russia in the Crimea and China in the South China Sea.

The suit was brought by Mauritius and some of the 1,500 Chagos islanders who were forcibly removed from the archipelago in 1973. The Americans, calling it “sanitizing” the islands, moved the Chagossians more than 1,000 miles to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they’ve languished in poverty ever since.

Diego Garcia is the lynchpin for US strategy in the region. With its enormous runways, it can handle B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers, and huge C-5M, C-17, and C-130 military cargo planes. The lagoon has been transformed into a naval harbor that can handle an aircraft carrier. The US has built a city – replete with fast food outlets, bars, golf courses and bowling alleys – that hosts some 3,000 to 5,000 military personnel and civilian contractors.

What you can’t find are any native Chagossians.

The Indian Ocean has become a major theater of competition between India, the US, and Japan on one side, and the growing presence of China on the other. Tensions have flared between India and China over the Maldives and Sri Lanka, specifically China’s efforts to use ports on those island nations. India recently joined with Japan and the US in a war game – Malabar 18 – that modeled shutting down the strategic Malacca Straits between Sumatra and Malaysia, through which some 80 percent of China’s energy supplies pass each year.

A portion of the exercise involved anti-submarine warfare aimed at detecting Chinese submarines moving from the South China Sea into the Indian Ocean. To Beijing, those submarines are essential for protecting the ring of Chinese-friendly ports that run from southern China to Port Sudan on the east coast of Africa. Much of China’s oil and gas supplies are vulnerable, because they transit the narrow Mandeb Strait that guards the entrance to the Red Sea and the Strait of Hormuz that oversees access to the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The US 5th Fleet controls both straits.

Tensions in the region have increased since the Trump administration shifted the focus of US national security from terrorism to “major power competition” – that is, China and Russia. The US accuses China of muscling its way into the Indian Ocean by taking over ports, like Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan that are capable of hosting Chinese warships.

India, which has its own issues with China dating back to their 1962 border war, is ramping up its antisubmarine forces and building up its deep-water navy. New Delhi also recently added a long-range Agni-V missile that’s designed to strike deep into China, and the right-wing government of Narendra Mori is increasingly chummy with the American military. The Americans even changed their regional military organization from “Pacific Command” to “Indo-Pacific Command” in deference to New Delhi.

The term for these Chinese friendly ports – ”string of pearls” – was coined by Pentagon contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and, as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. China is indeed trying to secure its energy supplies and also sees the ports as part of its worldwide Road and Belt Initiative trade strategy. But assuming the “pearls” have a military role, akin to 19th century colonial coaling stations, is a stretch. Most the ports would be indefensible if a war broke out.

An “Historic” Decision

Diego Garcia is central to the US war in Somalia, its air attacks in Iraq and Syria, and its control of the Persian Gulf, and would be essential in any conflict with Iran. If the current hostility by Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US toward Iran actually translates into war, the island will quite literally be an unsinkable aircraft carrier.

Given the strategic centrality of Diego Garcia, it’s hard to imagine the US giving it up – or rather, the British withdrawing their agreement with Washington and de-colonizing the Chagos Islands. In 2016, London extended the Americans’ lease for 20 years.

Mauritius wants the Chagos back, but at this point doesn’t object to the base. It certainly wants a bigger rent check and the right eventually to take the island group back.

It also wants more control over what goes on at Diego Garcia. For instance, the British government admitted that the Americans were using the island to transit “extraordinary renditions,” people seized during the Afghan and Iraq wars between 2002 and 2003, many of whom were tortured. Torture is a violation of international law.

As for the Chagossians, they want to go back.

Diego Garcia is immensely important for US military and intelligence operations in the region, but it’s just one of some 800 American military bases on every continent except Antarctica. Those bases form a worldwide network that allows the US military to deploy advisors and Special Forces in some 177 countries across the globe. Those forces create tensions that can turn dangerous at a moment’s notice.

For instance, there are currently US military personal in virtually every country surrounding Russia: Norway, Poland, Hungary, Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. Added to that is the Mediterranean’s 6th Fleet, which regularly sends warships into the Black Sea.

Much the same can be said for China. US military forces are deployed in South Korea, Japan, and Australia, plus numerous islands in the Pacific. The American 7th fleet, based in Hawaii and Yokohama, is the Navy’s largest.

In late March, US Navy and Coast Guard ships transited the Taiwan Straits, which, while international waters, the Chinese consider an unnecessary provocation. British ships have also sailed close to Chinese-occupied reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

The fight to de-colonize the Chagos Islands will now move to the UN General Assembly. In the end, Britain may ignore the General Assembly and the Court, but it will be hard pressed to make a credible case for doing so. How Great Britain can argue for international law in the Crimea and South China Sea, while ignoring the International Court of Justice on the Chagos, will require some fancy footwork.

In the meantime, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth calls the Court decision “historic,” and one that will eventually allow the 6,000 native Chagossians and their descendants “to return home.”

A Californian secession could cause a snowball effect

  • What if California seceded from the US?
  • Secession is extremely improbable. But looking at what could ensue if it happened underscores some fascinating truths about the US – and where power really lies.

April 8,2019

by Rachel Nuwer

BBC News

Americans have grown increasingly polarised in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, median Republicans are more conservative than 97% of Democrats, while median Democrats are more liberal than 95% of Republicans. By contrast, in 1994 those figures were just 64% and 70%, respectively. Some scholars argue that ideological tensions have never been greater in living memory.

“We have to go back historically, to something like the 1890s post-Civil War period, to find politics in the US that are anywhere near as bitterly polarised as we have now,” says Bernard Grofman, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine. “Polarisation in Congress is at levels we have not seen in more than 100 years.”

California is no exception. For the past few years, divides both within the state, and between California and the rest of the US, have sparked at least six initiatives aimed at breaking California into smaller states or cleaving it entirely from the rest of the country.

According to Monica Toft, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Boston, arguments in support of these plans include the belief that the federal government no longer represents California’s economic interests; that the state is so large that proper governance is only possible if applied across a smaller geographic scale; or that irreconcilable differences have emerged between what California and the rest of the US stand for.

To be clear, unless something drastically changes, California is not going to secede any time soon. A constitutional law denies states the right to secession, and there’s scant evidence that the majority of California’s citizens actually want to leave. A 2017 survey of 1,000 Californians conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, found that a bipartisan 68% opposed such initiatives.

Yet exploring what would happen should this improbable event come to pass is still worthwhile for the questions it raises about the precarious balance of power – and politics – in the US.

Civil war?

The possibility of violence, even formal war, is the first and most crucial question for hypothesising what would happen if California tried to leave. Another US civil war may sound unlikely, but consider that the southern US did not expect lasting conflict to ensue when it decided to secede from the north 157 years ago.

Civil war did break out, leading to the loss of some 620,000 American lives and shaking the country to its core. “It seems unfathomable that the US would have another war of secession, but I think if you talked to people in the mid-19th Century they would have said the same thing,” Toft says. “The US is not immune to this.”

Other splits throughout history sparked violence too. Pakistan responded with genocide and mass rape when Bangladesh decided to become a separate nation in 1971, while Eritrea’s War of Independence from Ethiopia dragged on for 30 years.

It doesn’t always play out this way; some countries have pulled off peaceful secessions. In 1993, in what is known as the Velvet Divorce, the Czech Republic split from Slovakia with no resulting bloodshed. And despite tough talk between the EU and UK, Brexit is proceeding peacefully.

Civil war did break out, leading to the loss of some 620,000 American lives and shaking the country to its core. “It seems unfathomable that the US would have another war of secession, but I think if you talked to people in the mid-19th Century they would have said the same thing,” Toft says. “The US is not immune to this.”

Other splits throughout history sparked violence too. Pakistan responded with genocide and mass rape when Bangladesh decided to become a separate nation in 1971, while Eritrea’s War of Independence from Ethiopia dragged on for 30 years.

It doesn’t always play out this way; some countries have pulled off peaceful secessions. In 1993, in what is known as the Velvet Divorce, the Czech Republic split from Slovakia with no resulting bloodshed. And despite tough talk between the EU and UK, Brexit is proceeding peacefully.

Californians are not akin to the Kurds in Iraq, the Catalans in Spain or even the Scots and Irish in the UK,” says Brendan O’Leary, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “I cannot foresee generals from the Pentagon obeying orders to go occupy California by force.”

Power politics

Following California’s peaceful secession, though, Democratic fears would come true. California is the largest state in the union by population, and its exit would radically shift the political playing field in the US. The balance of power in Congress would tip toward complete Republican control. Meanwhile, the loss of California’s electoral votes would leave little hope for the US to see another Democratic president in the near future.

“Politically, this would put Democrats in a deep, deep hole,” Saideman says. “They’ve depended on California since the early 1990s for having a chance to win presidential elections.”

In response to the red wave, remaining US Democratic representatives would likely shift their politics to the right. “If you no longer have California anchoring the Democratic Party positions, then that dramatically changes the center of gravity,” Grofman says. For Democrats, the most optimistic outcome for a US without California, he continues, would be a more centrist political arena – one akin to the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961), when bipartisan consensus allowed for major undertakings like the construction of the interstate highway system.

No matter how US politics shook out, however, losing California would deliver a significant economic blow to the newly diminished nation. California is the world’s fifth largest economy – bigger than that of the entire UK – grossing $2.7 trillion in 2017.

It also contributes more tax revenue to the US federal government than any other state, subsidising “all sorts of Republican states, for which it simply receives abuse in return”, O’Leary says.

How big the overall impact would be on the US economy would depend on whether leaders struck up free trade agreements or if they imposed tariffs and other trade barriers. No matter what, though, the US would not escape unscathed.

“The dollar would tank,” O’Leary says. “The euro and Chinese yuan could replace it as the global currency.”

The newly divided US would lose international footing and become more beholden to its allies, and some long-standing friendships would be tested. With the US leaning more strongly to the right, nations also run by right-leaning parties, such as Hungary and Russia, might become closer to the US. But relations between the US and Canada – which are generally better when both nations’ leaders sit on the same side of the political spectrum – would fray. So would those with Mexico as the increasingly right-wing US government shifted toward harder-line immigration policies.

California, on the other hand, would become an attractive new ally for those and other liberal countries. “Suddenly, instead of a bipolar system with the US and China, we’d see a multi-polar system with the US, China, California, India and so on,” Saideman says. “In international relations, multi-polar systems produce a lot more confusion because alliances matter a lot more.”

As California vied for a high standing in the international community, it would likely take a lead on key issues such as mitigating global warming. California’s progress, however, would be counterbalanced by the US’s continued backsliding, including its loosening of emissions and pollution standards, defunding of initiatives to develop sustainable energy and opening up of carbon-capturing wilderness areas for prospecting and development.

“California’s much more serious efforts to reduce the pace of climate change would be undone by the rest of the US,” Saideman says.

Immigration haven

California could also be more attractive than the US to immigrants. The newly formed country would almost certainly continue to welcome overseas innovators to Silicon Valley and its space agency, but it might also relax policies for less skilled workers as well. “Given the sheer scale of Hispanic populations in California and the role of agriculture there, I can’t imagine that California would not wish to develop a new policy on the question of welcoming people from Central America and elsewhere,” O’Leary says.

On the other hand, while highly diverse southern California might look favourably on immigration, much more conservative northern California could be staunchly opposed. “If you look at maps of the last election, there are deep pockets of red and blue, and areas in between,” Toft says. “It’s not inevitable that California is liberal.”

Grofman adds that, as humans, we are naturally inclined to view the world as a zero-sum game. “People tend to believe that adding new people will simply divide the pie in more ways,” he says. “In other words, anything you get, I lose.”

Though economists have shown time and time again that growth creates positive-sum benefits, Californians, with their newly established borders, also may fall subject to an erroneous us-versus-them mentality. “The standard rule about immigration is that whoever is already there decides that the best thing that could possibly happen is to put up barriers to anyone else coming in,” Grofman says. There’s no guarantee that an independent California would be an exception.

Also contrary to what many might assume, California’s secession probably wouldn’t kick off a sudden mass immigration of US liberals into California and an exodus of Republicans out. “I’m an American in Canada, and after every election, everyone says ‘I’m moving to Canada’, but they don’t,” Saideman says. “If California seceded there would be some flow, but it wouldn’t be as dramatic as people think, and most of it would be driven by jobs.”

California’s secession might, however, trigger a snowballing of similar initiatives in other parts of the US. The north-east, for example, would become increasingly alienated in a Republican-dominated country with no hope of winning political representation. Therefore, states stretching north from Maryland to Maine and west to Pennsylvania may see secession as the only means of escaping a permanent Republican majority.

History has seen such dynamics play out. States such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova only seceded from the Soviet Union after the Baltic states led the way. “In this hypothetical situation, you can imagine folks in the north-east thinking that if D.C. allowed California to go scot-free, it would probably let them go, too,” says Saideman.

Following the secession of the north-east, Florida may opt to depart, too, as could parts of Texas. At that point, other states – many of which have the economic capacity and population size to become small countries of their own – may see little incentive to stick around. In other words, California’s secession could be the beginning of the end for the United States of America as we know it.

As Grofman says, “In a world in which California seceded, the most pessimistic scenario is further breakup of the US.”

 

What if the internet stopped working for a day?

For many people, going without the internet even for a few hours is unthinkable. But if it did stop working, the impact might not be what you’d expect.

February 7, 2017

by Rachel Nuwer

BBC News

Jeff Hancock likes to give his Stanford University students weekend assignments that let them experience concepts discussed in class for themselves. Before 2008, he would sometimes challenge his students to stay off the internet for 48 hours and then discuss how it affected them. But when Hancock returned to work in 2009, after a year-long sabbatical, things had changed.

“When I tried to introduce the task, there was a class revolt,” says Hancock, who studies the psychological and social processes involved in online communication. “The students emphatically said the assignment was impossible and unfair.”

They argued that going offline even for a weekend would prevent them from completing work in other classes, ruin their social lives, and make their friends and family worry that something terrible had happened to them. Hancock had to concede and cancelled the activity – and he’s never attempted it again. “That was 2009, and now with mobile as present as it is, I don’t even know what students would do if I asked them to do that,” he says. “They’d probably report me to the university president.”

But with our always-connected lifestyles, the question is now more relevant than ever: what would happen if the internet stopped for a day? It turns out the impact might not be quite what you’d expect.

In 1995, fewer than 1% of the world’s population was online. The internet was a curiosity, used mostly by people in the West. Fast-forward 20 years and today more than 3.5bn people have an internet connection – nearly half of all humans on the planet – and the number is growing at a rate of around 10 people a second.

According to the Pew Research Centre, a fifth of all Americans say they use the internet “almost constantly” and 73% say they use it at least daily. Figures in the UK are similar: a 2016 survey found that nearly 90% of adults said they had used the internet in the previous three months. For many, it is now virtually impossible to imagine life without the internet.

“One of the biggest problems with the internet today is that people take it for granted – yet they don’t understand the degree to which we’ve allowed it to infiltrate almost every aspect of our lives,” says William Dutton at Michigan State University, who is the author of the book Society and the Internet. “They don’t even think about not having access to it.”

But the internet is not inviolable. In theory, it could be taken away, on a global or national scale, for a stretch of time. Cyberattacks are one possibility. Malicious hackers could bring the internet to a standstill by releasing software that aggressively targeted vulnerabilities in routers – the devices that forward internet traffic. Shutting down domain name servers – the internet’s address books – would also cause massive disruption, preventing websites from loading, for example.

Cutting the deep-sea cables that carry vast volumes of internet traffic between continents would also cause significant disruptions by disconnecting one part of the world from another. These cables may not be easy targets for attackers, but they are sometimes damaged accidentally. In 2008, people in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia were plagued by major internet outages on three separate occasions when submarine cables were cut or interfered with.

Some governments also have “kill switches” that can effectively turn off the internet in their country. Egypt did this during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 to make it more difficult for protesters to coordinate their activity. Turkey and Iran have also shut off internet connectivity during protests. China is rumoured to have a kill switch of its own. And American senators have proposed creating one in the US as a means to defend the country from cyberattack.

Building a kill switch is not easy, however. The larger and more developed the country, the harder it is to shut down the internet completely ­– there are simply too many connections between networks both inside and outside national borders.

The most devastating strikes could come from space, however. A large solar storm that sent flares in our direction would take out satellites, power grids and computer systems. “What bombs and terrorism can’t do might be accomplished in moments by a solar flare,” says David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University and author of Why the Net Matters. “The next major geomagnetic storms are eventually coming.”

But most outages would not last long. “There’s an army of people ready to put things right,” says Scott Borg at the United States Cyber Consequences Unit, a non-profit organisation. “The internet service providers and the companies that make the routing equipment have plans and personnel in place for getting things up and running again if unexpected vulnerabilities are exploited.” We are so used to having an always-on internet connection that even relatively short disruptions would have an effect, however. It just might not be what you would expect.

For a start, the impact to the economy may not be too severe. In 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security asked Borg to look into what might happen if the internet went down. Borg and his colleagues analysed the economic effects of computer and internet outages in the US from 2000 onwards. Looking at quarterly financial reports from the 20 companies that claimed to be most affected in each case, as well as more general economic statistics, they discovered that the financial impact of an outage was surprisingly insignificant – at least for outages that lasted no more than four days, which is all they studied.

“These were instances where enormous losses were being claimed– in the hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars,” Borg says. “But while some industries like hotels, airlines and brokerage firms suffered a bit, even they didn’t experience very big losses.”

It turned out that losing internet access for a few days just made people fall behind on their work. “People carried out all the same activities they would have done had the internet been up, but they just did it two or three days later,” Borg says. “The economy is set up to deal with what essentially amounts to a holiday weekend.”

In some cases, shutting down the internet for a short time might even increase productivity. In another study, Borg and his colleagues analysed what happened when a company suffered an internet outage that lasted four hours or more. Rather than twiddle their thumbs, employees did things that they would normally put off, such as dealing with paperwork. The result was a boost for business. “We jokingly suggested that if every company turned off their computers for a few hours each month and made people do the tasks they postponed, there’d be an overall productivity benefit,” Borg says. “I see no reason why that wouldn’t also apply to basically the whole economy.”

Travel probably would not be affected too much in the short term, either – so long as the blackout lasted no more than a day or so. Planes can fly without the internet, and trains and buses would continue to run. Longer outages would start to have an effect on logistics, however. Without the internet it would be hard for businesses to operate. “I’ve suggested that people and businesses should have a plan in place in the event of internet loss, but I haven’t heard of anyone doing that yet,” Eagleman says.

A large communication breakdown would probably disproportionately affect small businesses and blue-collar workers. In 1998, as many as 90% of the 50 million pagers in the US stopped working because of a satellite failure. In the days following the blackout, Dutton surveyed 250 pager users in Los Angeles and found clear socioeconomic divisions in people’s reactions to being cut off. Upper-middle-class individuals with managerial or professional jobs did not perceive the event as largely problematic. “To them, it felt like a snow day,” Dutton says. “It was a relief.”

But many blue-collar freelancers such as plumbers and carpenters relied solely on their pagers for getting jobs and found themselves out of work for a few days. Single mothers who left their children at daycare also reported significant distress at not being able to be paged if a problem occurred. “So you have to realise that your reaction to the idea of losing the internet is likely to be based on your socioeconomic status,” Dutton says.

Psychological effects, like feelings of isolation and anxiety, would hit people across the board, however. “Most of the internet is designed for one purpose: to allow us to communicate with each other,” Hancock says. We are used to being able to connect to anyone, anywhere and at any time. “An inability to do that would be unsettling.” It’s a feeling Borg recognises too. “I know when I realise I’ve left my smartphone behind, I feel slightly naked,” he says. “I suddenly have to think, ‘Do I actually know where I’m going? What if my car breaks down, could I talk anyone into letting me use their phone to call for help?’”

History supports this. In 1975, a fire at the New York Telephone Company cut off the phone service in a 300-block area of Manhattan for 23 days. In a survey of 190 people carried out immediately after lines were restored, researchers found that four-fifths of respondents said they missed the phone, especially its ability to connect them with friends and family. Over two-thirds said the lack of service made them feel “isolated” or “uneasy,” and nearly three-quarters said they felt more in control when their service was restored.

“There’s this idea that maybe people would become more social and more in touch with friends and family if they didn’t have use of the internet, but I think that’s really mistaken,” Dutton says. “Most people using the internet are actually more social than those who are not using the internet.”

Stine Lomborg at the University of Copenhagen agrees. “It’s not like we’d be more likely to speak to strangers at the bus stop if we didn’t have our smartphones – not at all,” she says. The loss of connection may make people more social in specific situations, such as forcing co-workers to speak to each other rather than sending emails, but overall the experience is likely to be distressing. “The world wouldn’t fall apart if we didn’t have access to the internet for a day,” she says. “But for most people I think even one day without it would be terrifying.”

The feeling would be fleeting, however. Losing the internet may make people recognise its importance in their lives, but we would soon be taking it for granted again, says Hancock. “I’d like to say an internet blackout would cause a shift in our thinking, but I don’t think it would.” Even so, that’s still not enough to persuade his students to give it up for a weekend.

 

Twisting Media News Reporting

April 13, 2019

by Michael Hunt

Sometimes, men who actually are concerned with the average American’s pursuit of honesty and legitimate fact-driven information break through and appear on T.V. However, rarely are they allowed to share their views or insights without having to fight through a wall of carefully crafted deceit and propaganda. Because the media knows they will lose credibility if they do not allow guests with opposing viewpoints every once in a while, they set up and choreograph specialized T.V. debates in highly restrictive environments which put the guest on the defensive, and make it difficult for them to clearly convey their ideas or facts.

TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good;” essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His “Rules for Radicals” were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment, and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics?

Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition. These tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate. While Alinsky sermonized about the need for confrontation in society, his debate tactics are actually designed to circumvent real and honest confrontation of opposing ideas with slippery tricks and diversions. Alinsky’s tactics, and their modern usage, can be summarized as follows:

1) Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.

We see this tactic in many forms. For example, projecting your own movement as mainstream, and your opponent’s as fringe. Convincing your opponent that his fight is a futile one. Your opposition may act differently, or even hesitate to act at all, based on their perception of your power.

2) Never go outside the experience of your people, and whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.

Don’t get drawn into a debate about a subject you do not know as well as or better than your opposition. If possible, draw them into such a situation instead. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty in your opposition. This is commonly used against unwitting interviewees on cable news shows whose positions are set up to be skewered. The target is blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address. In television and radio, this also serves to waste broadcast time to prevent the target from expressing his own positions.

3) Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

The objective is to target the opponent’s credibility and reputation by accusations of hypocrisy. If the tactician can catch his opponent in even the smallest misstep, it creates an opening for further attacks.

4) Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

“Ron Paul is a crackpot.” “Dennis Kucinich is short and weird.” “9-11 twoofers wear tinfoil hats.” Ridicule is almost impossible to counter. It’s irrational. It infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage. It also works as a pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

5) A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

The popularization of the term “Teabaggers” is a classic example, it caught on by itself because people seem to think it’s clever, and enjoy saying it. Keeping your talking points simple and fun keeps your side motivated, and helps your tactics spread autonomously, without instruction or encouragement.

6) A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

See rule number 6. Don’t become old news. If you keep your tactics fresh, its easier to keep your people active. Not all disinformation agents are paid. The “useful idiots” have to be motivated by other means. Mainstream disinformation often changes gear from one method to the next and then back again.

7) Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. Never give the target a chance to rest, regroup, recover or re-strategize. Take advantage of current events and twist their implications to support your position. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

This goes hand in hand with Rule #1. Perception is reality. Allow your opposition to expend all of its energy in expectation of an insurmountable scenario. The dire possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.

9) The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

The objective of this pressure is to force the opposition to react and make the mistakes that are necessary for the ultimate success of the campaign.

10) If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counter side.

As grassroots activism tools, Alinsky tactics have historically been used (for example, by labor movements) to force the opposition to react with violence against activists, which leads to popular sympathy for the activists’ cause. Today, false (or co-opted) grassroots movements use this technique in debate as well as in planned street actions. The idea is to provoke (or stage) ruthless attacks against ones’ self, so as to be perceived as the underdog, or the victim. Today, this technique is commonly used to create the illusion that a certain movement is “counterculture” or “anti-establishment.”

11) The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. Today, this is often used offensively against legitimate activists, such as the opponents of the Federal Reserve. Complain that your opponent is merely “pointing out the problems.” Demand that they offer a solution.

12) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. The targets supporters will expose themselves. Go after individual people, not organizations or institutions. People hurt faster than institutions.

The next time you view an MSM debate, watch the pundits carefully, you will likely see many if not all of the strategies above used on some unsuspecting individual attempting to tell the truth.

 

Democrats set new deadline for release of Trump tax returns

  • House committee chair has authority to demand release
  • White House has said tax information will not be shared

April 13, 2019

by Martin Pengelly in New York

The Guardian

Donald Trump’s tax returns must be handed to House Democrats by 23 April, a leading committee chair said on Saturday.

Democrats initially set a 10 April deadline for the returns but this week treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said he needed more time to assess issues raised by the request.

On Saturday the chairman of the House ways and means committee, Richard Neal of Massachusetts, wrote to Internal Revenue Service commissioner Charles Rettig to say a failure to comply with the new deadline would be “interpreted as a denial of my request”.

Constitutionally, Neal has the power to demand the IRS release tax returns for any US individual. He has asked for six years of the president’s personal and business returns.

In his letter, he wrote that his power to make the demand “is unambiguous and raises no complicated legal issues”.

Trump was at his golf course in Virginia on Saturday but the White House has already said it will refuse to release such information for a president who as a candidate broke with convention but not law by refusing to make his tax returns public.

Last week, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday Democrats would “never” see Trump’s tax returns. Claiming the request was purely political, Mulvaney added: “That is not going to happen and they know it.”

Trump’s personal attorney, William Consovoy, has called the request a “gross abuse of power”. Mnuchin used similar language in a letter to Neal this week.

In his letter to Rettig, a Trump appointee, Neal said concerns expressed by the administration “lack merit” and added: “Judicial precedent commands that none of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the committee’s request.

“It is not the proper function of the IRS, treasury or justice [departments] to question or second guess the motivations of the committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information.”

Legal experts expect a final denial by the Trump administration to lead to a subpoena from House Democrats and a fight in the courts.

Trump has repeatedly claimed to be unable to release his tax returns because he is under audit. Experts have repeatedly pointed out that being under audit does not preclude the release of such information.

The president’s tax returns have duly become a Holy Grail for his opponents and a source of constant speculation, not least during the Mueller investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In September 2016, in his first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump said not paying federal taxes “makes me smart”.

In October that year, shortly before the election, the New York Times reported that Trump may not have paid federal income tax in 18 years.

In March 2017, the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow obtained and made public a portion of Trump’s tax return for 2005, which showed he had paid $35m in federal taxes that year. It was thought Trump himself might have been behind the leak.

In October 2018, the New York Times released a major investigative report which said the Trump family engaged in “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud”.

A lawyer for Trump said the Times report contained “allegations of fraud and tax evasion [that] are 100% false, and highly defamatory” and said “there was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone”. An official inquiry followed

In November 2018, shortly after Democrats took back the House, putting them in position to demand the relevant information, Trump said at a press conference his tax returns were too complicated for the public to understand.

 

Trump’s immigration moves are straight from the dictator’s playbook

Demonising the ‘other’, confecting a crisis to entrench power and using cruelty to spread fear are all part of an assault on democracy

April 13. 2019

Robert Reich

The Guardian

The first rule in the dictator’s playbook is to fuel public anger against the “other” – people said to be dangerous outsiders.

From the start of his campaign for president, Donald Trump has sought to make immigrants from Mexico and Latin America the nation’s nemesis.

The second rule in the playbook is to conjure up a so-called “crisis” of containing the outsiders.

Undocumented immigration into the United States dropped in 2017, but began to rise last year. March brought more than 92,000 apprehensions at the southwest border, the highest number reported in one month in a decade, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

But this is no crisis. It’s not a threat to national security. (Last November, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s attempts to ban Central Americans from seeking asylum on national security grounds.)

America is hardly “full”, as Trump has said. In fact, our aging population needs young immigrants to take up the slack.

Whatever problem this surge of migrants poses isn’t nearly the magnitude of threats like climate change, nuclear proliferation, or the undermining of democratic institutions – all of which, not incidentally, Trump has worsened

The immediate problem is humanitarian. The surge is largely asylum-seeking families from Central America who have a right to have their claims heard by an immigration judge.

But because America doesn’t have enough immigration judges to make such decisions, families are being detained at the border. Even the Republican senator Ted Cruz proposes adding hundreds more such judges to clear the backlog.

Yet Trump has no intention of remedying the humanitarian problem. He wants a crisis to stir up his base and show how tough he is.

Which brings us to the third rule in the dictator’s playbook: use the trumped-up crisis to enlarge and entrench power.

When he’s not accusing Democrats of being socialists, Trump is rallying his followers around the supposed mob at the gates. At a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he claimed migrants are coached by lawyers to say “I’m very afraid for my life” although they look as strong as “the heavyweight champion of the world”.

This flies in the face of the recent warning by the former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen that migrants – including children, two of whom have died in federal custody – are arriving “sicker than ever before”.

Which raises the fourth rule: use cruelty to spread fear.

Even though Nielsen committed every cruel act Trump wanted her to – putting migrant kids in cages, separating them from their parents, locking up both for long periods of time – he fired her anyway, apparently because she refused to employ even crueler illegal measures such as detaining children for more than the 20 days allowed by law.

Reportedly, Trump is considering forcing migrant families to choose between letting their children go, or spending months or perhaps years with them in jail.

All of which sets up the fifth rule: take power, unilaterally.

Trump’s “national emergency” to fund his border wall isn’t just an unconstitutional power grab. It’s a grab that shatters previous norms about how far a president can go in testing the limits of his power

So too with shuttering parts of federal government for 35 days to get funding, threatening to close the border with Mexico, and stopping foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (a move likely to fuel even more migration by further destabilizing those nations)

Trump is now exploring ways to deny migrants a chance to seek asylum in the first place – a clear violation of American and international law. He has also toyed with shipping detained immigrants to sanctuary cities in order to retaliate and pressure them, according to the Washington Post.

For a president to behave as if he is above the law, or can unilaterally make it, violates the cardinal precept of democracy.

Which may be the real point of all of this for Trump. He seeks total control.

There are now 18 vacancies at the top of the Department of Homeland Security – including the secretary, deputy secretary, chief financial officer, two undersecretaries, the assistant secretary for policy, the director of the Secret Service, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (who is now acting secretary).

Reportedly, Trump also intends to fire the longtime head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. This past week Trump rescinded the nomination of Ron Vitiello to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying, “We’re going in a tougher direction.”

How to explain this purge? Merely a change in policy?

Trump is also keeping vacant the top positions at every other department with any responsibility for border security, including defense and interior.

It’s about total control. “I like acting secretaries and directors,” Trump said in January. “It gives me more flexibility.”

It also gives him more power to do as he pleases.

Unconfirmed appointees will be loyal to him personally. Their authority is not dependent on Congress.

The final rule: destroy democracy.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. He is also a columnist for Guardian US

 

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