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TBR News December 17, 2016

Dec 17 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  December 17, 2016: “The CIA thinks of itself as the only assemblage of brilliant people whom the American public must depend on if America is going to maintain her position as economic leader of the entire world. Instigate a revolution here, a war there, an assignation somewhere else and Liberty can plant her corporate seeds in the torn-up fields. But the CIA is not as clever as it thinks. When the CIA-maintained Ukranian government was headed by a pro-Russian president, the CIA instigated the business in Kiev and even had their marksmen shoot dead a few protesters so that this would supply the incentive for Columbia the Gem of the Ocean to intervene. Instead of laying American hands on the oil rich Crimea and the former Russian naval base, they got nothing. The evil Putin got all of it instead. Now, the Ukraine is having serious economic problems and is no longer useful so the mass of CIA operatives in Kiev all have boarded official aircraft to return home for Christmas their families and to await their next assignments. The Ukranians? Too bad they seem to be having problems but now we can concentrate in stirring up the stupid Turks against Putin and his evil robot bear.”

Revealed! Putin personally hacked DNC from surveillance aircraft with bear on board

December 17, 2016

by Danielle Ryan


Shocking revelations earlier this week as US intelligence officials confirmed with “high confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “personally involved” in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

According to the anonymous sources inside the anonymous US intelligence agency, Putin’s objectives were multifaceted, but the whole thing began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton because she said some mean things about him a few times. Putin is also an “immature 12 year-old child,” a former US official with links to the defense industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed (with high confidence).

The high level, anonymous and completely trustworthy sources also told a major US news agency that Putin himself had piloted a specially-designed Russian spy plane across the Atlantic to personally direct the still-ongoing hacking operations from the air.

Satellite images seen by a separate anonymous NASA whistleblower are believed to show Putin in the cockpit of the spy plane alongside his co-pilot Boris, a lifelike robotic bear which has been under secret development in the depths of Siberia and has been programmed to attack Putin’s enemies on command using a variety of lethal methods.

The NASA whistleblower did not provide journalists with photographic evidence, but the editors had a chat about it in their morning meeting and concluded that it’s probably still true.

In fact, the American news agency could not verify any of the claims from the officials who commented for the story, but given that their sources used the term “high confidence” they took this to mean the evidence must be “nearly incontrovertible” and relayed the information to the public with this implication. An understandable decision, since, as we all know, only 100 percent factual information is ever released by anonymous intelligence officials.

Okay, let’s rewind. Obviously that bit about the bear and the plane was fake news. And maybe a few other bits, too. But it all demonstrates a point. I’ve provided you with about the same amount of evidence as NBC has in its story this week claiming Putin personally rigged the US election: I made some allegations, I cited anonymous sources and then I conveyed it to you readers as “nearly incontrovertible” and suggested no further digging or investigation, or even a bit of healthy skepticism, was necessary.

Journalism is dying

There was a time when journalists needed more than ‘maybes’ and ‘probablys’ before deciding what their sources told them was “incontrovertible” and delivering half-baked conspiracy theories to the public. That time has apparently long gone.

Imagine for a moment that RT published a story about, oh, let’s say Barack Obama personally hacking into Putin’s computer. Now imagine the only evidence RT provided was “anonymous FSB officials” and told its readers the story was therefore practically indisputable because these anonymous sources were “confident” in the legitimacy of their secret evidence. Imagine the laughs that would get from sneering Western journalists. Well, that’s pretty much exactly what NBC did. And they’re not alone. The Washington Post has been at it too, reporting on a “secret” CIA assessment that Russia worked to get Donald Trump elected, quoting anonymous “top officials” and like NBC, providing no evidence.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but for something to be presented to the public as indisputable fact, there must be evidence made available to back it up. Neither the CIA or the FBI have provided any such evidence to the public.

Perhaps the saddest thing though is having to acknowledge that all our debates over fake news and real news really don’t matter because the very people we are told to trust are the people who will most adeptly use the public’s concerns over fake news to manipulate them. The CIA, for example, is hardly known for its long history of telling the truth. Its employees are literally trained in the art of deception and disinformation. They are hardly averse to creating a bit of fake news or making up ‘evidence’ where needed. Anything they say or do can be forgiven once someone utters the words “national security”.

NBC’s story claimed Putin not only wanted to embarrass Clinton with the DNC leaks, but to highlight corruption in the American political system; the emails showing, for example, how the DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign to ensure Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, would be the Democratic nominee.

Now, what better way to encourage people to ignore the corruption in the system than to focus their attention on the idea that Putin is the one who told them about it? Are people really reading these stories and convincing themselves that the CIA is the most credible source of public information on what the Russians are doing?

Clinton’s long-shot

We’ve been hearing about Russian hacking for months, long before the election results in November, so why the sudden confidence in all this new and secret evidence? Why the new assertions that Putin himself directed the hacking? Look at your calendar. The Electoral College votes on Monday and it may be Clinton’s last hope. It’s a long shot, but in true Clinton character, she won’t go down without a fight to the last gasp. Her best hope is to convince the Electoral College that Trump’s win was influenced by a foreign power, is therefore illegitimate and that national security will be at stake if he takes office.Amazingly, in the midst of all this, while Clinton’s camp is still trying to get her elected through back-door tactics, Obama has pretty much called the election results legitimate.

Members of the Electoral College are expected to vote the way their states voted, but they are not required to. If Clinton can get enough members to flip their votes, Trump is deprived of the 270 votes he needs to become president. That’s what this is really all about — and the media is serving as Clinton’s willing accomplice.

Lessons of Aleppo – for Trump

December 16, 2016

by Patrick J. Buchanan,


In this world, it is often dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, said Henry Kissinger in 1968, but to be a friend is fatal.

The South Vietnamese would come to appreciate the insight.

So it is today with Aleppo, where savage reprisals against U.S.-backed rebels are taking place in that hellhole of human rights.

Yet, again, the wrong lessons are being drawn from the disaster.

According to The Washington Post, the bloodbath is a result of a U.S. failure to intervene more decisively in Syria’s civil war: “Aleppo represents a meltdown of the West’s moral and political will – and … a collapse of U.S. leadership.

“By refusing to intervene against the Assad regime’s atrocities, or even to enforce the ‘red line’ he declared on the use of chemical weapons, President Obama created a vacuum that was filled by Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.”

But the blunder was not in staying out of Syria’s civil war, but in going in. Aleppo is a bloodbath born of interventionism.

On Aug. 18, 2011, President Obama said, “For the sake of the Syrian people the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Western leaders echoed the Obama – “Assad must go!”

Assad, however, declined to go, and crushed an Arab Spring uprising of the kind that had ousted Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. When the U.S. began to fund and train rebels to overthrow him, Assad rallied his troops and began bringing in allies – Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.

It was with their indispensable assistance that he recaptured Aleppo in the decisive battle of the war. And now America has lost credibility all over the Arab and Muslim world.

How did this debacle come about?

First, in calling for the overthrow of Bashar Assad, who had not attacked or threatened us, we acted not in our national interests, but out of democratist ideology. Assad is a dictator. Dictators are bad. So Assad must go.

Yet we had no idea who would replace him.

It soon became clear that Assad’s most formidable enemies, and probable successors, would be the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, or ISIS, then carrying out grisly executions in their base camp in Raqqa.

U.S. policy became to back the “good” rebels in Aleppo, bomb the “bad” rebels in Raqqa and demand that Assad depart. An absurd policy.

Nor had the American people been consulted.

After a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they saw no U.S. vital interests at risk in who ruled Damascus, so long as it was not the terrorists of ISIS or al-Qaida.

Then came Obama’s “red line” warning: The U.S. would take military action if chemical weapons were used in Syria’s civil war.

What undercut this ultimatum was that Congress had never authorized the president to take military action against Syria, and the American people wanted to stay out of Syria’s civil war.

When Assad allegedly used chemical weapons and Obama threatened air strikes, the nation rose as one to demand that Congress keep us out of the war. Secretary of State John Kerry was reduced to assuring us that any U.S. strike would be “unbelievably small.”

By 2015, as Assad army’s seemed to be breaking, Vladimir Putin boldly stepped in with air power, alongside Hezbollah and Iran. Why? Because all have vital interests in preserving the Assad regime.

Bashar Assad is Russia’s ally and provides Putin with his sole naval base in the Med. Assad’s regime is the source of Hezbollah’s resupply and weapons to deter, and, if necessary, fight Israel.

To Iran, Assad is an ally against Saudi Arabia and the Sunni awakening and a crucial link in the Shiite Crescent that extends from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.

All have greater stakes in this civil war than do we, and have been willing to invest more time, blood and treasure. Thus they have, so far, prevailed.

The lessons for Trump from the Aleppo disaster?

Do not even consider getting into a new Middle East war – unless Congress votes to authorize it, the American people are united behind it, vital U.S. interests are clearly imperiled, and we know how the war ends and when we can come home.

For wars have a habit of destroying presidencies.

Korea broke Truman. Vietnam broke Lyndon Johnson. Iraq broke the Republican Congress in 2006 and gave us Obama in 2008.

And the Iran war now being talked up in the think tanks and on the op-ed pages would be the end of the Trump presidency.

Before starting such a war, Donald Trump might call in Bob Gates and ask him what he meant at West Point in February 2011 when he told the cadets:

“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Hillary Redux

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Hillary Clinton’s recent email scandal is a reprise of her identical problems in the 1990 time frame. At that time, there was the criminal issue of Casa Grande and the Rose law firm.

In the 1980s, Hillary Clinton was a partner at the Arkansas-based Rose law firm. Because she was also the wife of the governor, she served on various state commissions, but did minimal work on any of them. Like most big law firms, Rose law firm had no problem with her state obligations as long as she brought in business for other firm members. But Hillary Clinton wasn’t bringing profitable clients to the law firm commensurate with her status as the governor’s wife.

Under pressure to bring in more business, Hillary persuaded her husband. Bill to stir up more business for her and her firm.

Governor Clinton then approached one Jim McDougal, the major stock holder of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association and a partner in the Whitewater Development Company. The governor then persuaded McDougal to send some profitable business to his wife and the Rose law firm.

As a result of the meeting, McDougal retained the Rose law firm act as his attorneys and to work on the Castle Grande project.

The firm worked on this project in 1985 and 1986.

In addition to Madison Guaranty, Rose also represented one Seth Ward, an employee of Madison and the father-in-law of Webster Hubbell. Hubbell was Hillary’s law partner and friend, and after her husband was elevated to the Presidency, the associate attorney general of the United States..  Mr. Hubbell worked with Hillary Clinton on the Castle Grande project.

The Castle Grande project was a scheme to commit a fraud through real estate loans. It was, in essence, a Ponzi-like pyramid scheme that used a series of manipulated loans to enrich Madison insiders. Madison was, in effect, McDougal’s personal cash cow.

The land in question for the Castle Grande scheme was a scrub pine forest that had failed as an industrial development project. The sale price of the property in question was $1.75 million.

State regulations prohibited McDougal from investing more than 6 percent of Madison’s S&L assets in any project. McDougal was able then to put up $600,000 of Madison’s funds and Seth Ward put up the remaining $1.15 million.

Ward borrowed the money from Madison on a no-recourse, no personal obligation to repay basis. If federal regulators ever found out about this circumvention, Madison could be shut down.

The land appraiser for the property inflated his appraisals to support loans to purchasers, including future Arkansas governor Jim Guy Tucker who bought a water and sewer system for the Castle Grande project. The appraiser later pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges.

David Hale, head of a firm licensed to provide lendings to minorities and the economically disadvantaged, conspired with McDougal and Tucker to use his operation as a cover to generate additional loans from Madison.

A friend and business associate of Hale’s borrowed $825,000 from Madison to buy three properties from Hale, but never used the money himself. Instead, it went to Hale, who used it to recapitalize his company with matching funds from the Small Business Administration.

Hale loaned a $150,000 down payment to Tucker who bought out a portion of Ward’s Castle Grande holdings for $1.2 million.

Tucker borrowed the additional $1.05 million from Madison.

McDougal loaned former Senator William Fulbright, a long-time friend, $700,000 to buy out the remainder of Ward’s holdings. The net effect was to remove Ward’s non-recourse loan from the Madison books and generate substantial sales profits and commissions for Madison.

Through various “cross-loans,” McDougal hoped to prevent regulators from discovering Ward’s true role, and thus Madison’s full investment, in Castle Grande. But federal regulators weren’t deceived. In 1986, they removed McDougal from Madison Guaranty.

Eventually, the FBI became involved and Federal prosecutors ultimately convicted fourteen  individuals, including McDougal and Tucker (by then the sitting governor of Arkansas).

By 1991, Bill Clinton was running for president. Like his other Democratic rivals, he campaigned against the “decade of greed” that had brought us the S&L scandals.

Fortunately for his campaign, Hillary’s involvement in the Madison scandal had remained unnoticed. In fact, when the Resolution Trust Corporation, a temporary federal agency created to resolve the S&L crisis, wanted to sue the accounting firm that had handled Castle Grande, it hired Rose (in the person of Hubbell) to bring the lawsuit. Hubbell never disclosed the obvious conflict that stemmed from his firm’s work on Castle Grande; nor did he reveal the fact that Rose performed work on this matter in 1985 and 1986.

Castle Grande seemed far removed from both Hillary and Hubbell when a New York Times reporter named Jeff Gerth arrived in Little Rock and started asking questions. Some of his questions pertained to Hillary’s involvement with McDougal.

By this time, the Clinton campaign already believed it had two strikes against it: The extra marital Gennifer Flowers affair and Bill’s revealed draft dodging. Hillary Clinton’s significant involvement in the S&L scandal appeared to be strike three.

Hillary contacted Mr. Vince Foster who had not been involved in the Castle Grandeaffair, but he was Hillary’ mentor and trusted adviser — so trusted that he would eventually come with the Clintons to Washington and served as second in command in the Office of White Counsel.

Foster and Hubbell at once worked on the potentially devastating issue.To mask the condemning facts they removed all billing records pertaining to Castle Grande from the Rose law firm files. Foster and Hubbell also collected any and all other iles pertaining to the law firm’s activities in this business and Hillary Clinton’s time sheets pertaining to this also disappeared.

And any and all of the electronic versions of the billing records were erased from the law firm’s computer system.For these reasons the FBI’s forensic investigative team was unable to reconstruct them.

Hillary told Gerth that a Rose associate, Rick Massey, had done all of the work on the McDougal project. With the billing records and time sheets gone, she could feel comfortable telling this lie, which she would repeat to others in the media.

This appeared to close the explosive issue.

Castle Grande/Whitewater then became a non-issue in the 1992 presidential campaign.

Federal prosecutors remained on the trail, however, and eventually, and  over Hillary’s objections, the administration agreed to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate what was then called “Whitewater.”

In 1994, the Castle Grande billing records were subpoenaed but they were not produced at that time.

A year and a half later, Carolyn Huber, a White House employee, found the billing records in the private quarters of the first family, in a container located outside of Mrs. Clinton’s private office. Huber later stated, that not knowing what they were, she packed them up and took them to her own office. Only later, in early 1996, did she realize that these were the famous billing records that prosecutors were after.

The billing records were then produced, two years late. And Hillary’s fingerprints were discovered on all of them.

The records show that Hillary Clinton billed time for work on Castle Grande, and was the billing partner for this representation. More than that, they show that she and Hubbell performed legal services — described, for example, as “conference with Seth Ward” or just “Seth Ward” — on every day in which federal prosecutors had found that McDougal and his crime partners had committed  acts in furtherance of their unlawful conspiracy e.g., backdating documents and making false loans.

In effect, the billing records very clearly placed Hillary Clinton and Hubbell at the scene of the crime, and in fact, co-conspirators in a criminal venture.

The special counsel subsequently indicted Hubbell for fraud against federal regulators.. The fraud consisted of concealing from federal agents and investigators the true role of Hubbell, the Rose law firm, and Hillary Clinton in Castle Grande.

Out of concern for the White House, the indictment referred to Hillary only as “Rose’s 1985-86 billing partner.” As such, Hillary appears throughout the indictment. She is referred to approximately three dozen times.

Hillary Clinton was slated to be called as a witness at Hubbell’s trial.

Her attorney met with lawyers from the special counsel’s office to try to persuade them that the charges had nothing to do with Hillary. This absurd claim was rejected. The very next morning, Hubbell’s lawyer informed the special counsel that he would plead guilty.

Throughout the Whitewater/Castle Grande scandal, Hillary Clinton’s actions were to stonewall and deceive. She lied about her role in the swindle, personally removed and destroyed pertinent documents, and vigorously opposed the appointment of a special investigative counsel.

The recent email scandal isn’t just a reprise of the Castle Grande document theft and destruction but is a logical outgrowth of it.

She did it once and she did it again.

What illegal behavior could Hillary Clinton’s instincts have produced is if she had been elected president?

If we made contact with aliens, how would religions react?

The discovery of life on another planet might seem incompatible with faith in a deity. Yet many theologians are already open to the existence of extraterrestrials.,

December 16, 2016

by Brandon Ambrosino

BBC News

In 2014, Nasa awarded $1.1M to the Center for Theological Inquiry, an ecumenical research institute in New Jersey, to study “the societal implications of astrobiology”.

Some were enraged. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which promotes the division between Church and state, asked Nasa to revoke the grant, and threatened to sue if Nasa didn’t comply. While the FFR stated that their concern was the commingling of government and religious organisations, they also made it clear that they thought the grant was a waste of money. “Science should not concern itself with how its progress will impact faith-based beliefs.”

The FFR’s argument might well be undermined, however, when the day comes that humanity has to respond to the discovery of aliens. Such a discovery would raise a series of questions that would exceed the bounds of science. For example, when we ask, “What is life?” are we asking a scientific question or a theological one? Questions about life’s origins and its future are complicated, and must be explored holistically, across disciplines. And that includes the way we respond to the discovery of aliens.

This is not just an idle fantasy: many scientists would now argue that the detection of extraterrestrial life is more a question of when, not if.

There are several reasons for this confidence, but a main one has to do with the speed at which scientists have been discovering planets outside of our own Solar System. In 2000, astronomers knew of about 50 of these ‘exoplanets’. By 2013, they had found almost 850, located in over 800 planetary systems. That number may reach one million by the year 2045, says David Weintraub, associate professor of Astronomy at Vanderbilt University, and author of Religions and Extraterrestrial Life. “We can quite reasonably expect that the number of known exoplanets will soon become, like the stars, almost uncountable,” he writes. Of those discovered so far, more than 20 are Earth-size exoplanets that occupy a “habitable” zone around their star, including the most recently discovered Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri.

The upshot is that the more we’re able to peer into space, the more certain we become that our planet isn’t the only one suitable for life.

With few exceptions, most of the discussions about Seti (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) tend to stay in the domain of the hard sciences. But the implications of Seti extend well beyond biology and physics, reaching to the humanities and philosophy and even theology. As Carl Sagan has pointed out in (the now out-of-print book) The Cosmic Question, “space exploration leads directly to religious and philosophical questions”. We would need to consider whether our faiths could accommodate these new beings – or if it should shake our beliefs to the core.

Working out these questions might be called exotheology or astro-theology, terms defined by Ted Peters, Professor Emeritus in Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, to refer to “speculation on the theological significance of extraterrestrial life”. As he notes, Peters isn’t the first or only one to use the term, which dates back at least 300 years, to a 1714 publication titled ‘Astro-theology, or a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God From a Survey of the Heavens’.

How unique are we?

So what issues might the discovery of intelligent aliens raise? Let’s start with the question of our uniqueness – an issue that has troubled both theologians and scientists. Guiding Seti are three principles, as Paul Davies explains in the book Are We Alone? First, there’s the principle of nature’s uniformity, which claims that the physical processes seen on Earth can be found throughout the Universe. This means that the same processes that produce life here produce life everywhere.

Second is the principle of plenitude, which affirms that everything that is possible will be realised. For the purposes of Seti, the second principle claims that as long as there are no impediments to life forming, then life will form; or, as Arthur Lovejoy, the American philosopher who coined the term, puts it, “no genuine possibility of being can remain unfulfilled”. That’s because, claims Sagan, “The origin of life on suitable planets seems built into the chemistry of the Universe.”

The third, the mediocrity principle, claims that there is nothing special about Earth’s status or position in the Universe. This could present the greatest challenge to the major Abrahamic religions, which teach that human beings are purposefully created by God and occupy a privileged position in relation to other creatures.

In some ways, our modern scientific world was formed by the recognition of our own mediocrity, as David Weintraub notes in the book Religion and Extraterrestrial Life: “When in 1543 C.E. Copernicus hurled the Earth into orbit around the Sun, the subsequent intellectual revolution … swept the discarded remnants of the Aristotelian, geocentric Universe into the trash bin of history.”

The Copernican revolution, as it would later come to be understood, laid the groundwork for scientists, like Davies, to eventually claim that ours is “a typical planet around a typical star in a typical galaxy”. Sagan puts it even more startlingly: “We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

But how could a believer reconcile this with their faith that humans are the crowning achievement of God’s creation?. How could humans believe they were the apple of their creator’s eye if their planet was just one of billions?

The discovery of intelligent aliens could have a similar Copernican effect on human’s self-understanding. Would the discovery make believers feel insignificant, and as a consequence, cause people to question their faith?

I would argue that this concern is misguided. The claim that God is involved with and moved by humans has never required an Earth-centric theology. The Psalms, sacred to both Jews and Christians, claim that God has given names to all the stars. According to the Talmud, God spends his night flying throughout 18,000 worlds. And Islam insists that “all things in the heavens and on the Earth” are Allah’s, as the Koran says, implying that his rule extends well beyond one tiny planet. The same texts are unequivocally clear that human beings are special to God, who seems fairly able to multitask.

Second, we don’t reserve the word “special” only for unrepeatable, unique, isolated phenomena. As Peters says, the discovery of life elsewhere in the Universe would not compromise God’s love for Earth life, “just as a parent’s love for a child is not compromised because that child has a brother or sister”. If you believe in a God, why assume he is only able to love a few of his starchildren?


But do the religious texts themselves mention the possibility of alien life? “What is most basic in religion,” writes Catholic priest and theologian Thomas O’Meara, “is the affirmation of some contact within and yet beyond human nature.” For Jews, Christians, and Muslims, this involves a written revelation, albeit one that is contingent upon the specific historical situations in which they initially circulated. The best theologies recognise these limitations. Some don’t, however, and for those believers that adhere to them, the discovery of ETs might prove initially threatening.

Weintraub thinks Evangelicals might have a difficult time with Seti, because they approach their Scriptures with a high degree of literalism. Their hermeneutical heritage extends back to Luther’s Sola Scriptura, a Reformation rallying cry that affirms “Scripture alone” is necessary for understanding God’s plan for salvation. (One notable exception here is evangelist Billy Graham who in 1976 told the National Enquirer he “firmly” believed God created alien life “far away in space”.) These believers maintain that any other writing or idea must be evaluated and judged by the Bible. Take, for example, Darwin’s theory of evolution, which some Evangelicals reject on the grounds that the Bible says God created the world in seven days.

The worldview of these believers might be summed up in the Christian slogan, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!” Were you to ask one of these Christians if she believed in ET life, her first instinct would probably be to consider what the Bible says about God’s creation. Not finding any positive affirmation of alien life, she might conclude, like creationist Jonathan Safarti, that humans are alone in the Universe. “Scripture strongly implies that no intelligent life exists elsewhere,” he wrote in an article in Science and Theology News. Granted, she might remain open to the discovery of alien life, but she’ll have to revise her notion of divine revelation in one very big way: by tempering it with some epistemic humility.

Second, she would have to deeply reflect on the concept of the Incarnation, the Christian belief that God was fully and uniquely present in a first-century human called Jesus of Nazareth. According to Christianity, salvation can be achieved only by Jesus’ death and resurrection. All paths to God, in effect, go through him. But what does that mean for other civilisations whirling around out there in the Universe, completely unaware of Jesus’ story?

Thomas Paine famously tackled this question in his 1794 Age of Reason, in a discussion of multiple worlds. A belief in an infinite plurality of worlds, argued Paine, “renders the Christian system of faith at once little and ridiculous and scatters it in the mind like feathers in the air”. It isn’t possible to affirm both simultaneously, he wrote, and “he who thinks that he believes in both has thought but little of either.” Isn’t it preposterous to believe God “should quit the care of all the rest” of the worlds he’s created, to come and die in this one? On the other hand, “are we to suppose that every world in the boundless creation” had their own similar visitations from this God? If that’s true, Paine concludes, then that person would “have nothing else to do than to travel from world to world, in an endless succession of deaths, with scarcely a momentary interval of life”.

In a nutshell: if Christian salvation is only possible to creatures whose worlds have experienced an Incarnation from God, then that means God’s life is spent visiting the many worlds throughout the cosmos where he is promptly crucified and resurrected. But this seems eminently absurd to Paine, which is one of the reasons he rejects Christianity.

But there’s another way of looking at the problem, which doesn’t occur to Paine: maybe God’s incarnation within Earth’s history “works” for all creatures throughout the Universe. This is the option George Coyne, Jesuit priest and former director of the Vatican Observatory, explores in his 2010 book Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life and the Theological Implications.

“How could he be God and leave extra-terrestrials in their sin? God chose a very specific way to redeem human beings. He sent his only Son, Jesus, to them… Did God do this for extra-terrestrials? There is deeply embedded in Christian theology… the notion of the universality of God’s redemption and even the notion that all creation, even the inanimate, participates in some way in his redemption.”

There’s yet another possibility. Salvation itself might be exclusively an Earth concept. Theology doesn’t require us to believe that sin affects all intelligent life, everywhere in the Universe. Maybe humans are uniquely bad. Or, to use religious language, maybe Earth is the only place unfortunate enough to have an Adam and Eve. Who is to say our star-siblings are morally compromised and in need of spiritual redemption? Maybe they have attained a more perfect spiritual existence than we have at this point in our development.

As Davies notes, spiritual thinking requires an animal to be both self-conscious and “to have reached a level of intelligence where it can assess the consequences of its actions”. On Earth, this kind of cognition is at best a few million years old. If life exists elsewhere in the Universe, then it’s very unlikely that it’s at the exact same stage in its evolution as we are. And given the immense timeline of the existence of the Universe, it’s likely that at least some of this life is older, and therefore farther along in their evolution than we. Therefore, he concludes, “we could expect to be among the least spiritually advanced creatures in the Universe.”

If Davies is right, then contrary to popular works of literature like The Sparrow, humans won’t be the ones teaching their star-siblings about God. The education will go quite the other way.

Let’s note that this possibility doesn’t invalidate Earth religions’ claims of divine revelation. There is no need to imagine that God reveals the same truths in the same way to all intelligent life in the Universe. Other civilisations could understand the Divine in their own myriad ways, all of which could be compatible with each other.


But what about the divisions between faiths? How would the discovery influence religious identity? A 1974 story by Phillip Klass, On Venus We Have a Rabbi!, invited Jews, and all religious people, to consider this question. At some point in the future, goes the story, the Jewish community on planet Venus holds the Universe’s first Interstellar Neozionist Conference. In attendance are an intelligent alien species named Bublas, who have traveled from a faraway star named Rigel. The Jews at the conference are bewildered by the physical appearance of the Bulbas, what with their gray spots and tentacles. They decide the Bulbas can’t really be human, and therefore they can’t be Jewish.

A Rabbinical court is called to think about how Jews should respond to their new visitors. What happens, they ask, if some day humans come across alien creatures who want to be Jewish? “Do we say, no, you’re not entirely acceptable?”

The rabbis conclude that isn’t a good response, and suggest a paradoxical way for the Venusians to look at it: “There are Jews – and there are Jews. The Bulbas belong in the second group.”

The comedy of the story is heightened by what we recognise as a certain tribalism inherent to religion. The announcement of any identity has the potential to split the world into groups: us and them. But when religion is involved, that separation takes on a cosmic dimension: us and them, and God is on our side. This has always been one of the challenges of cross-cultural conversion, which is often tasked with negotiating, though not dissolving, such boundaries.

Perhaps this is a bigger challenge to Judaism and Islam than it is for some forms of Christianity, which place less emphasis on daily rituals than other religions. Think of Islam, which requires its adherents to take up embodied behaviors throughout the year. Unlike Christianity, whose founder eradicated the necessity of location for religious experience, Islam is a very placed religion. Prayers are said facing Mecca, at five specific times throughout the day, and are physicalised through bowing and kneeling. Fasting is required at specific times, as is a pilgrimage to Mecca for all Muslims who are able. Judaism, too, has its own fasts, and – though it’s not a requirement – a concept of pilgrimage, which is its birthright trip, taglit, to the Holy Land. Contemporary Judaism, however, is not as dependent on location as Islam, given its tragic history with exile and diaspora.

What, then, would it take for an alien to be considered a participant in an Earth religion? What would she be required to do? Pray five times a day? Perhaps her planet does not rotate exactly as ours, and her days are much shorter – would she be expected to pray as often as Muslims on Earth? Would she have to be baptised? Receive communion? Build a tent for Sukkot? Though we imagine aliens to have a similar physical structure to us, there’s no reason to believe they have physical bodies. Maybe they don’t. Would that restrict their conversion options?

This may seem to be a bit of frivolous exotheology, but the point is this: all of our religious identities are Earth-centric ones. There’s nothing wrong with that (so long as we don’t collapse the Universe down to our finitude). Here’s how Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky puts it: “Religion is the human, social response to transcendence … Normative Judaism provides an excellent, time-tested path for sanctifying our minds, morals, and bodies, refining us as a people, improving the world, correlating our lives to the infinite God unfolding on the finite Earth.”

His upshot? “I am Jewish. God is not.”

The rabbi’s theory can help us think about our neighbours in outer space, and our neighbours right here on this planet. If religion is a human response to divinity – even if that response is taught and initiated by divinity – then it’s obvious that those responses would differ according to the contexts in which they take shape. If Western Christians can learn to respect the religious experiences of good-willed aliens who are in their own ways responding to the divine, maybe they’ll be able to apply the same principles as they learn to live more peaceably with Muslims on Earth. And vice versa.

“In a billion solar systems,” writes O’Meara, “the forms of love, created and uncreated, would not be limited. Realisations of divine life would not be in contradiction with each other or with creation.”

The end of religion?

If we wake up tomorrow morning to the news that we’ve made contact with intelligent aliens, how will religion respond? Some believe that the discovery will set us on a path the end goal of which will be to outgrow religion. One notable study conducted by Peters found that twice as many non-religious people than religious people think that the discovery of alien life will spell trouble for earthly religion (69% to 34%, respectively).

But it’s ahistorical to assume that religion is too weak to survive in a world with aliens. That’s because, as Peters points out, this claim underestimates “the degree of adaptation that has already taken place.” With few notable exceptions – creationism, violent fundamentalism, gay marriage – religion has often been able to adapt without much fuss to various paradigm shifts it’s encountered. Surely its re-inventiveness, its adaptability is a testament to the fact that there is something about religion that resonates with humans at a basic level.

Certain aspects of religion will have to be reconsidered, but not totally abandoned, as O’Meara notes. “If being and revelation and grace come to worlds other than Earth, that modifies in a modest way Christian self-understanding” – and, we might add, all religious self-understanding. However, he says, “It is not a question of adding or subtracting but of seeing what is basic in a new way.”

Many religions have always believed God names the stars. Is it really a stretch to believe God names the stars’ inhabitants, too? And that they might possibly each have their own names for God?

The Armenian Holocaust of 1916

December 17, 2016

A compilation by Harfry von Johnston, PhD

The term Armenian Holocaust (also known as the Armenian Massacre) refers to the deportation and murder of Armenians by the Young Turks government in 1915-1916.

The killing of large numbers of Armenians who lived within the Ottoman Empire and its successor Turkish state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From 1915 to 1920, more than a million Armenians died as the result of executions, massacres, starvation, and other repressive measures, and many fled to the United States and other countries.

The most recent move by the Turkish government in this regard was for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the main opposition party Deniz Baykal to hold a press conference in March 2005 inviting Armenian historians to meet with historians from Turkey to find out what happened, and called on Armenia to open its archives. This was met with a response from the Armenian Foreign minister that the world already knew what happened, and that Armenia’s archives were always open.

Turkey has never established diplomatic relations with Armenia and has closed its land borders with Armenia. Armenia has declared repeatedly it is ready for relations and an open border without preconditions but denied to withdraw its own troops from occupied Azerbeidzan. Turkey claims that it would support the occupation of Nagorno-Karabagh by opening his borders.

The Armenian Holocaust is not agreed to by everyone; the term “holocaust” generally has come to define a state-sponsored extermination plan but it is the position of Turkey and some academics that the majority of losses were a result of clashes between the two-sides, and causes such as famine and disease claiming the lives of all Ottomans. Armenians and other academics state at least 1.5 million Armenians perished in Turkey. France is among the countries which have officially recognized the Armenian Holocaust. One of the prime sources of information regarding the Armenian Holocaust is U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to Turkey from 1913-1916. Ambassador Morgenthau published a book in 1919 entitled Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story which details the atrocities committed against the Armenians by the Turks. Others are aware Morgenthau was not a neutral observer, anxious to get the United States into war, and primed by Armenian assistants; frequently cited as an “eyewitness,” the diplomat never left Istanbul and revealed his racism with statements describing the Turks variously as “inarticulate, ignorant, and poverty-ridden slaves,” “barbarous,” “brutal,” “ragged and unkempt,” (within his book) and as having “inferior blood.”

First Armenian Massacres

In 1890 there were possibly around 1.3 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, of whom the vast majority were of the Armenian Orthodox or Roman Catholic Christian faith. Until late 19th century, the Armenians were called “millet-i sadika” (fidel nation) by the Ottomans, as they were living in harmony with the muslim Kurds and Turks in Eastern Anatolia, without any major conflict with the central authority despite religous and ethnic differences. While the Armenian population in Eastern Anatolia was large and clustered, there was also a considerably large community of Armenians on the west, mostly living in the capital city of Istanbul, of which a substantial community remains to this day.

In the 1890s, apparently in an attempt to gain international attention, Armenian revolution seized the Headquarters of the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul. Mobs mostly of Muslim Turks are then alleged by some to have killed 50,000 Armenians. The level of Ottoman government involvement with the mobs is not well known and debatable.

Armenian-sympathizing estimates of the total killed run from 100,000 to 300,000; one of the greatest pro-Armenians, Johannes Lepsius, estimated less than 89,000. Some felt differently, such as British Captain C. B. Norman who wrote (The Armenians Unmasked) that “only five lives were lost” in a town (Berecik) where 2,000 Armenians were supposed to have been murdered,” further adding “none of these (massacre) stories have been corroborated by a single European eye-witness.”

Turkish estimates run from 20,000 to 30,000. These events are recalled by the Armenians as the “Great Massacres” and believe the Hamidian measures verified the capacity of the Turkish state to carry out a systematic policy of murder and plunder against a minority population. Others are aware there would have been no valid reason to massacre Armenians who were allowed to prosper for centuries and of the formation of Armenian revolutionary groups beginning roughly around the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1878. As some diplomats observed, the aim of these groups were to commit massacres so as to incite counter-measures, and to invite “foreign powers to intervene,” as Istanbul’s British Ambassador Sir Philip Currie observed in March 1894. 5,000 Turks were massacred by Armenian terrorist activities.

The Armenian Holocaust

Before World War I the Ottoman Empire came under the Young Turks government. At first some Armenian political organizations supported the Young Turks in hopes that there would be a real change from Abdul Hamid’s policies towards the Armenian population. There were Armenians elected to the Ottoman Parliament, where some remained throughout the ensuing world war. However they were later to be disappointed. Other parliamentarians such as Muradyan and Garo would go on to lead Armenian rebels in ethnic cleansing campaigns against Muslim and Jewish Ottoman villagers. The Young Turks feared the Armenian community, which they had believed was more sympathetic to allied powers (specifically Russia) than to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1914 Ottomans passed a new law that required all adult males up to age 45, to either be recruited in the Ottoman army or pay special fees in order to be excluded from service. Most of the Armenian recruits were later turned into road laborers and the executed. Those who escaped joined the Russians on the east.

In early 1915, simultaneously with a disastrous Ottoman defeat at the hands of Russia at Sarikamish, with the loss of over 80% of a huge military force, battalions of Russian Armenians organized the recruiting of Turkish Armenians from behind the Turkish lines. In response the Young Turk government executed 300 Armenian nationalist intellectuals, although a partisan source as Peter Balakian’s “The Burning Tigris” tells us most were imprisoned and there were even survivors. The fact that most Armenian men were also butchered in the army and many influential figures arrested and killed, places a question mark over certain arguments that Armenians organized revolts and that there was a civil war, given that Armenians were outnumbered, outmanned and outgunned. On the other hand, there were articles in the New York Times as early as November 7, 1914, days after Russia had declared war, attesting to Armenian uprisings (“ARMENIANS FIGHTING TURKS — Besieging Van—Others operating in Turkish Army’s Rear”), and accounts from Armenians themselves, such as Boghos Nubar’s 1919 letter in the Times of London stressing Armenian belligerence. In addition, there is evidence of Russian financial support, testimony from even those such as Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to the effect of “…In the early part of 1915… every Turkish city contained thousands of Armenians who had been trained as soldiers and who were supplied with rifles, pistols, and other weapons of defense,” and even accounts from Armenian newspapers hailing the rebellion. Chronology here is important and not incontestably established.

After the recruitment of most men and the arrests of certain intellectuals, widespread massacres were taking place throughout Ottoman Empire. In desperate attempts at survival, upon hearing of massacres of nearby villages, Armenians in Musa Dagh and Van organized their self defense. In Van, they handed over control of the city to advancing Russians. After waves of massacres and countermassacres, the Ottoman government ordered the deportation of over 1 million Armenians living in Anatolia to Syria and Mesopotamia though this figure has not been conclusively established. Indeed, there is another consensus this number did not exceed 700,000, and Arnold Toynbee reported in his Wellington House (British propaganda division) report of “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire” that 500,000 were alive in 1916. Although the word deportation seems pretty innocent (some would prefer the word “relocation,” as the former means banishment outside a country’s borders; Japanese-Americans, for example, were not “deported” during WWII), things were not, because the deportations themselves were a silent method of mass execution that led to the death of many of the Armenian population, by forcing them to march endlessly through desert, without food or water or enough protection from local Kurdish or Turkish bandits.

In the process several hundred thousand died in the resulting death marches from starvation, dehydration, disease or exhaustion. Several hundred thousands more were massacred by Kurdish militia and Ottoman gendarmes (while other gendarmes gave up their lives defending the Armenians), giving an estimated total under certain counts of 1,500,000 Armenians dead. Then again, the Armenians contend one million survived, and even the Patriarch Ormanian provided a pre-war population figure of 1,579,000. Sympathetic sources as Le Figaro, prompted by Armenian terrorism in 1977 France, figured only 15,000 Armenians as having died from shootings, sickness and deprivation on the march. It also must be borne in mind that of the 2.5-3 million Turkish mortality, many succumbed to the same factors as famine and disease.

Mr. Hovhannes Katchaznouni, first Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic, describes this part of history as follows in his 1923 Manifesto: “At the beginning of the Fall of 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war but already been making preparations, Armenian revolutionary bands began to be formed in Transcaucasia with great enthusiasm and especially with much uproar… The Armenian Revolutionary Federation had active participation in the formation of the bands and their future military action against Turkey… In the Fall of 1914 Armenian volunteer band organized themselves and fought against the Turks because they could not refrain themselves from fighting. This was an inevitable result of psychology on which the Armenian people had nourished itself during an entire generation; that mentality should have found its expression and did so….The Winter of 1914 and Spring of 1915 were the periods of greatest enthusiasm and hope for all Armenians in the Caucasus including of course the Dashnaktsutiun. We had no doubt the war would end with the complete victory of the Allies; Turkey would be defeated and dismembered and its Armenian population would be liberated. We had embraced Russia wholeheartedly without any compunction. Without any positive basis of fact we believed that the Tzarist government would grant us a more-or-less broad self-government in the Caucasus and in the Armenian vilayets liberated from Turkey as a reward for our loyalty, our efforts and assistance. ”

Statistics of the Second Massacre

Statistics regarding the number of Armenians living in Ottoman Anatolia and the number killed are disputed. The lowest numbers are given by Turkish sources and the highest by Armenian sources.

In 1896 the Ottoman government recorded 1,144,000 Armenians living in Anatolia. Professor Justin McCarthy, U.S. historian and expert in Ottoman history, whose books are published by a Turkish organization as well as prestigious university presses such as the Oxford University Press, estimated that there were 1,500,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1912. According to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, there were between 1,845,000 and 2,100,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1914. Estimates range from 1,000,000 given by some Turkish sources to more than 3,500,000 given by some Armenian sources. Arnold J. Toynbee, who served as an intelligence officer during World War I, estimates there were 1,800,000 Armenians living in Anatolia in 1914. Encyclopaedia Britannica took 1,750,000 Armenians living in Anatolia as their estimate, in certain later editions. In 1911, the encyclopedia had figured 1.1 million, and Toynbee estimated less than one million in his 1915 book, “Nationalism and the War,” before his services were enlisted in Wellington House.

Estimates for the numbers of Armenians who died during the Second Massacre vary even more. Some Turkish sources claim that 200,000 Armenians died, whereas some Armenian sources number the dead at well over 2,000,000. Talat Pasha, a prominent Young Turk and Grand Vizier from 1917-1918, claimed that the total was 300,000. Toynbee put the number at 600,000 in his 1916 “Treatment” propaganda report. McCarthy independently arrived at the same figure.

Later assessments

Armenians around the world recognize April 24 as marking the start of holocaust at the hands of the Young Turks.

Turkish historians and foreign Ottoman history scholars deny that an event classifiable as state-organised holocaust occurred, because there has been no evidence of Ottoman state involvement . Instead, it is claimed that many of the Armenian deaths resulted from armed conflict, civil-war, disease and famine during the turmoil of World War I, when Armenian citizens of Ottoman Empire joined Russian armies to invade eastern provinces of Ottoman Empire. In the same period, 2.5 million other Ottoman citizens have perished as a result of civil-war and disease.

How the establishment and their media create bad propaganda

December 16, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD


Before the purported Osama bin Laden raid, every intelligence analyst, geopolitical commentator or head of state was on record as stating that Osama Bin Laden was already dead, and that he probably died many years ago, from veteran CIA officer Robert Baer, to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to former FBI head of counterterrorism Dale Watson.  Top US government insider Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, a man who held numerous different influential positions under five different Presidents, serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under the Nixon, Ford and Carter, stated that Bin Laden died of marfan syndrome shortly after he was visited by CIA physicians at the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001.

In actuality, bin Laden died in a Peshwar, Pakistan, military hospital on May 27, 2003 of acute renal failure.

2) The official narrative of how the raid unfolded completely collapsed within days of its announcement. First there had been a 40 minute shootout, then there was no shootout and just one man was armed, first Bin Laden was armed then he was not, first Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield and then he did not. First the compound was described as a “$1 million dollar mansion” then it turned out to be a rubbish-strewn dilapidated compound that was worth less than a quarter of that. Almost every single aspect of the official narrative changed since Obama first described the raid as the White House struggled to keep its story straight.

3) The alleged body of Bin Laden was hastily dumped in the sea to prevent any proper procedure of identification. The White House claimed this was in accordance with normal Islamic burial rituals. However numerous Muslim scholars disputed this claim, pointing out that Muslims can only be buried at sea if they die at sea. While the White House claimed that Bin Laden’s death on May 1st was proven by DNA and facial recognition evidence, such proof was never released for public scrutiny and the Obama administration refused to release photos of Bin Laden’s dead body, thus strongly supporting the belief that the raid was pure propaganda designed for political motives .

4) Despite the fact that the White House released “situation room” photos which purported to show Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and the rest of Obama’s security staff watching the raid which killed Bin Laden live, it was later admitted by CIA director Leon Panetta that Obama could not have seen the raid because the live feed was cut off before the Navy SEALS entered the compound. The photos were described by many as having “historical significance,” forming a “captivating” record of Obama’s greatest success and being the “defining moment” of his Presidency.

One image showed Hillary Clinton with her hand over her mouth pretending she was witnessing an anxious or crucial moment in the raid.

Media reports at the time claimed that the photos represented the moment when “The leader of the free world saw the terror chief shot in the left eye.”

However, compromised computer messaging subsequently proved without any doubts that the photos were staged as a PR stunt for public consumption. Nobody in the photos ever saw Bin Laden killed live, nor did they see the Navy SEALS even enter the compound.

5) As even mainstream journalists began to cast suspicion on the official narrative behind the raid, the media reported that Al-Qaeda itself had confirmed every detail of Obama’s address the the nation.

However, the conduit for such a claim was in fact an organization called SITE, which is a notorious Pentagon propaganda front run by the daughter of an Israeli spy that has been caught on numerous occasions releasing fake cartoonish “Al-Qaeda” videos at the most politically expedient times for both the Bush and Obama administrations.

The SITE organization is nothing more than a contractor for the U.S. government, receiving some $500,000 a year annually from Uncle Sam, and yet the corporate media instantly swallowed and regurgitated the claim that “Al-Qaeda” had confirmed the official story after SITE directed them to an anonymous posting on an Islamic website.

6) Almost every single neighbor that lived near the alleged Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad that was interviewed by news reporters said with absolute certainty that they had never seen Bin Laden and that they knew of no evidence whatsoever to suggest he lived there.

Since the town is a staging ground for the Pakistani military, which has a training facility situated virtually a stone’s throw away from the alleged Bin Laden compound, residents were required to show ID when they moved into the area. Pakistani troops and anti-terror police in the town refused to confirm that Bin Laden had lived in the house. Barack Obama himself admitted to 60 Minutes that the White House was only 55/45 sure that Osama lived there before the raid and this uncertainty prompted concerns that the US Navy SEALS sent in could have targeted a “prince from Dubai” or some other individual that was not Bin Laden.

7) The videos released by the White House which purport to show Osama Bin Laden making Al-Qaeda tapes in October-November 2010 are almost identical to footage first released by Pentagon front group SITE nearly four years ago.

Remember, a May 2010 Washington Post story reported how the CIA had admitted to making fake Bin Laden videos. Despite the White House’s insistence that the footage of Bin Laden was recent, he looked younger and healthier than tapes released almost a decade ago, having apparently dyed his beard black. A separate video that purports to show Bin Laden in his compound flicking through satellite TV channels depicts a much older looking man with a gray beard.

Analysts have pointed out that the man has different shaped ears to known authentic Osama pictures from back in 2001.

Several doctors have also pointed out the fact that the man in the tapes released after the fictional raid has no problem moving his left arm, whereas video from 2001 clearly illustrates how Bin Laden was unable to move his left upper extremity because of a permanent injury probably related to damage to the peripheral nerves.

Why the cameraman would film the back of Bin Laden’s head as he watches television is also dubious.

Residents in the town of Abbottabad claim the man in the “television” video is not Osama, with one individual claiming that the man labeled by the White House as being Bin Laden is actually his neighbor, a man named Akhbar Han.

8: Despite the fact that numerous neo-cons came out on the days after the alleged raid to erroneously assert that torturing terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay led to the discovery of Bin Laden, Osama himself, the supposed world’s most wanted terrorist and a treasure trove of terror information, despite the fact that he was stated to be unarmed, was not taken in for questioning, he was instantly shot in the head according to the official narrative.

9) The US government has been caught on many occasions within the past decade staging military operations for the purposes of generating contrived, pro-war sentiment amongst the American public. Both the “rescue” of Jessica Lynch and the death of Pat Tillman were complete fables, scripted and staged at complete odds with the truth and unleashed on Americans as part of a psychological warfare offensive to elicit support for the war on terror, almost identical to what we’re seeing now with the Bin Laden sideshow.

Given the fact that the US government has been caught red-handed scripting tales of pure fiction in order to justify the war on terror, notably in the cases of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, why on earth should we believe them now?

10) Despite the fact that Obama announced on live television that the world was now “safer” because Bin Laden was dead, his administration, with the aid of the fearmongering mass media, instantly seized upon the situation to terrify Americans into being afraid of imminent “reprisal” terror attacks inside the United States, later claiming that Bin Laden had formulated an “aspirational rather than operational” plan to derail US trains that travel over 500mph, although no trains in the US can actually travel at such speeds. This led “terror experts” to salivate over how TSA agents were now needed in shopping malls to stick their hands down Americans’ pants, while New York Senator Chuckie Schumer called for the no fly list to be expanded to trains and subways. Obama hurried to ground zero for a photo op as he desperately tried to use the Bin Laden hoax to whip up phony patriotism as a means of boosting his flagging poll numbers. Others, like Democrat Bill Richardson, exploited the situation to try and push through policies that had no connection to Bin Laden or terrorism at all, like cap and trade. The haste with which the whole Bin Laden fable was exploited for political points scoring and as a psychological ploy to return Americans to a post-9/11 state of intellectual castration was painfully transparent, clearly suggesting that the entire farce was planned well in advance to achieve precisely those goals.

Beijing smog: pollution red alert declared in China capital and 21 other cities

Authorities issue five-day warning and order schools to close, residents to stay indoors and heavy industry to slow or halt production

December 16, 2016

by Tom Phillips

The Guardian

Beijing-Beijing authorities have declared a five-day pollution “red alert”, shutting schools, ordering thousands of vehicles off the roads and telling residents to stay indoors, after the Chinese capital was enveloped by a shroud of toxic smog that is expected to linger until Wednesday.

The warning – the first since Beijing’s inaugural red alert in December last year – was officially implemented at 4.20pm on Friday as a nicotine-tinged haze rolled into the city.

“Smog invades Beijing,” tweeted Xinhua, China’s official news agency, alongside a timelapse video capturing the arrival of what city officials have controversially decided to classify as a “meteorological disaster”.

A second Xinhua tweet showed the skies blackening over the course of Friday as toxic air swept into the northern city of 21 million citizens.

China’s ministry of environmental protection reported that 21 other cities across north and central China had also declared pollution red alerts, including Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan and Zhengzhou.

A red alert is the highest level of a four-tier warning system introduced as part of China’s high-profile war on pollution.

Xinhua said nurseries and primary schools across Beijing had been told to close until Wednesday when the smog is expected to lift.

Road works were suspended; older and “dirty” high-emissions vehicles were forbidden from taking to the roads; and heavily polluting industries such as steel plants were ordered to halt or slow their operations.

City officials were also reported to have “penalised” 388 people for igniting outdoor barbecues and fires.

But Dong Liansai, a Beijing-based climate and energy campaigner for environmental group Greenpeace, said coal-fired power stations, not barbecues, were to blame for the unusually severe bout of pollution.

“Coal is the No 1 source,” said Dong, warning that the smog contained tiny airborne particulates known as PM2.5 which were linked to numerous “adverse health effects” including lung cancer, asthma and heart disease.

Dong said the declaration of the red alert was a positive step that would help temporarily reduce emissions and pollution levels.

“But this is only a short-term measure. If you want to solve the problem of air pollution then you really need to have a long-term policy,” the campaigner added. “And given that coal is the No 1 source we really recommend a nationwide cap on coal consumption … that would help accelerate the transition away from coal.”

Dong said the smog was “a reminder, after a period of improvement over the last few years, that there is still a lot to do in the future”.

Speaking to the New York Times this week, Beijing-based environmentalist Ma Jun said China had made “huge progress” in tracking the sources of air pollution over the past decade and had also become much more transparent in releasing information about the blight.

However, the risk to human health remained severe, with studies suggesting air pollution was causing between 300,000 and 1 million premature deaths a year.

“There isn’t much research on the relation between air pollution and lung cancer in China, and even less with accessible research results,” Ma said. “It’s sensitive. The government does not want to cause panic among the public.”

Dong, the Greenpeace campaigner, urged residents of areas affected by the latest red alert to limit their exposure to the smog by staying indoors with air purifiers turned on if possible. “Try to minimise your outdoor activities and, if you really need to go out, wear a proper mask to protect yourself,” he said.





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