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TBR News December 17, 2019

Dec 17 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 17, 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.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 17: ” Government surveillance of the American public is very widespread and at the present time, almost every aspect of an American citizen, or resident, is available for official surveillance. This includes mail, television viewing, telephone conversations, computer communications, travel, ownership of property, medical and school records, banking and credit card transactions, inheritances and other aspects of a citizen’s daily life.
This is done to circumvent any possible organization that could contravene official government policy and has its roots in massive civil resistance to governmental policy during the war in Vietnam. The government does not want a reprise of that problem and its growing surveillance is designed to carefully watch any citizen, or groups of citizens, who might, present or future, pose a threat to government policy.
Another factor to be considered is the current American attitudes towards racial issues. There has always been prejudice in the United States against blacks. In 1943 there were bloody riots in Detroit and Los Angeles, the former aimed at blacks and the latter against Mexicans. Since then, there has been chronic racial prejudice but it has been relatively small and very local. Also, there is growing anti-Semitic prejudice in American but this is officially ignored and never is mentioned in the American media. Much of this growing problem is directed at the brutal actions of Israel against Palestinians. Israelis have an undue influence in the American political scene. The very far right so-called neo-cons are almost all Jewish and most are Israeli citizens. Also, the middle-level ranks of American CIA personnel are heavily infiltrated by Israelis and it is said that any secret the CIA has is at once passed to Israel and that countries needs are assuming importance in CIA actions.
The attitudes of the working class Americans were inflamed during the last presidential elections by Mr. Trump who catered to them and encouraged rebellious attitudes. By speaking against Central American illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has caused a polarization of attitudes and the militant right wing in America, currently small in number but well-organized and potentially very dangerous, has begun to make its views very well known in public demonstrations.
This movement has played into the hands of far-right American political manipulators.”
It is their intention to clandestinely arm these groups and use them to cause violent public confrontations with the far left groups.”

The Table of Contents
• 8 ways the NSA is spying on you right now
• The NSA is Spying on You in 2019
• 5 ways to thwart NSA spying
• Official Counterfeiting at home and abroad
• The Government-Approved Rip-Off
• ‘We … have concluded that Donald J Trump has violated his oath’
• America’s Unreliable Friends: Today’s Allies Are Tomorrow’s Enemies
• The Season of Evil

8 ways the NSA is spying on you right now
ExpressVPN
In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed the NSA collects personal data on every American, as well as many more people worldwide. Though the scale of the surveillance was shocking at the time, it’s no longer the en vogue news story.
What is the NSA?
The NSA is the U.S. National Security Agency. Ostensibly there to protect U.S. citizens and interests, the truth is that the NSA monitors every American and the people of many allied countries—all with the backing of the U.S. government and large portions of Congress.
But it’s not only the NSA spying on its own people. Its counterparts at the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) are also spying on and hacking targets of interest.
Here are eight ways the NSA is still spying on you, right now, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and further investigation by the press.
How NSA surveillance works in America
1. The NSA can still access your phone records
In 2017, the NSA acquired data from over 534 million phone calls and text messages. Unbelievably, this tally is over triple the amount collected in 2015, when the USA Freedom Act supposedly limited NSA access to data from communication companies.
The NSA has yet to release the extent of 2018 data harvesting, though recent reports suggest excessive phone collections might finally be on the way out. Let’s hope the stories are true, but it wouldn’t be the first time the NSA has straight up lied about its surveillance policies.
2. Your favorite internet services pass your data to the NSA
Facebook, Google, Apple, and six other leading online services have all gone on record as having given their customers’ data to the NSA, as legally required by the “PRISM” program. Data shared includes emails, messages, and documents.
3. The NSA can hack your devices
The NSA’s hacking unit, Tailored Access Operations, has developed a whole range of hacking exploits. These enable the NSA to break into consumer electronics devices and IT systems as it sees fit.
When the NSA finds a security hole in a popular consumer device, it does not fix the security hole, but instead exploits it. That leaves virtually every device vulnerable to hackers.
4. All your security devices are exploitable thanks to the NSA
The NSA has made the job of hacking security devices easier for itself, by coercing many manufacturers into building vulnerabilities into products.
If that isn’t enough, the NSA is known to intercept shipments of computers and phones to put “backdoors” on them. The backdoor circumvents security measures of the device, allowing the NSA to spy on the end user.
5. The NSA can track you wherever you are
When you move around your town, cell phone towers can calculate your exact position. Though the NSA claims it no longer collects this bulk data itself, cell phone providers are still required to do so, and they, in turn, must surrender those records to the NSA when ordered by a court.
By far the worst aspect of this unwieldy power is that you don’t even have to be the subject of an inquiry yourself. The data of millions can be handed over, without notice, because you had even the most tangential connection to a person under surveillance.
How the NSA spies on you overseas
6. The NSA has tapped internet lines worldwide
The internet connects different continents via undersea fiber optic cables that carry staggering amounts of data. In some places, the NSA has deals with local intelligence agencies to tap into these cables; in others, it does so on its own. The NSA even uses submarines to attach snooping bugs to wires deep beneath in the ocean.
7. The NSA hacks foreign companies
In Brazil, Germany and other countries, the NSA has broken into the internal networks of major telecommunications providers, intercepting the data they gather and weakening the security of their systems. It collects every email and phone call it can.
8. The NSA knows everything you own and buy
Through agreements and hacking, the NSA can access credit card networks, payment gateways, and wire transfer facilities around the world. This monetary surveillance allows The NSA to follow every cent of your money, where it comes from, and what you spend it on.
Protect yourself from NSA surveillance
While NSA surveillance extends across the globe, there is still a lot you can do to safeguard your internet privacy. Check out this list of top privacy tips and always be conscious of what you’re sharing, with whom you’re sharing, and how you share it.

The NSA is Spying on You in 2019
VPN
Have you ever had the feeling of being watched? Has it ever crossed your mind that someone might be constantly tracking your digital footprints to disrupt your privacy? It has been six years since the infamous whistle blower, Edward Snowden, leaked the classified files from the National Security Agency (NSA) for the world to see. It was then, the world came to know how Uncle Sam is always watching.
Of course, the world knows about the incident, however, let’s jog the memory of the ones who have forgotten. Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA on June 5, 2013. The documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA has been spying not only on American citizens, but has been collecting personal data on individuals from around the globe
Where Ever You Go the NSA Follows
You’re not alone! No matter where you go, the NSA follows. The NSA can track your location via your cellphone carrier, open Wi-Fi networks in vicinity (vulnerable to security of course) and GPS. According to the Washington Post, the NSA collects around 5 billion records per day. Monitoring your travel pattern, the NSA can track your favorite locations. Who knows, they might be aware of your secret hideout in the tree house. Further, with the help of this information, the NSA can locate the associates of targeted individuals – also making them a person of interest.
Someone’s Watching
The NSA can easily access the camera on your laptop, smartphone and even webcams with a simple malware attack. The attack is so subtle that you would not even notice that your device has been compromised. It does not have any effect on your device’s performance, its core purpose is to collect information. Furthermore, your microphones can also be used to record and transmit your conversations without your consent.
Even the devices that have been switched off, can be turned on without you ever noticing. Ever wondered why are you bombarded with the ads of something you had just discussed with your friend? Speaking of ads, there is a reason Mark Zuckerberg keeps his camera and microphone tapped all the time. And the reason is, he knows!
NSA Crosses it Off the Checklist
Snowden’s leaked information revealed that the NSA is also spying on your purchases. With its collaboration with credit card giants like Visa, the NSA can access your purchase logs and monitor your buying behavior. Furthermore, the NSA had also formed an alliance with the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication also known as SWIFT.
The NSA has been accessing information from SWIFT’s database, which includes records of purchases made with credit cards and other financial transactions. The purpose behind collection of such information was to track purchases of terrorist organizations, though, we find it hard to believe that information about a citizen buying groceries helps in that regard.
Building Backdoors – NSA’s Favorite Pass Time
We all know about the famous FBI-Apple incident back in 2016. It was back then when Apple turned down FBI’s request to access data on an iPhone confiscated on the crime scene of San Bernardino shooters incident. Apple’s response accompanied a backlash to which Cook responded:”No one would want a master key built that would turn hundreds of millions of locks, even if that key was in the possession of the person that you trust the most…that key could be stolen”.
Obviously, that is one side of the coin. As per Snowden’s revelations, the NSA spends over 200 million dollars a year to make devices’ security vulnerable. Such mammoth amount is spent on collaborations with tech giants – creating backdoors for surveillance.
Another incident brought in the limelight was NSA-RSA collaboration where National Security Agency paid RSA USD $10 million to create a backdoor and distribute compromised encryption tools. Over the years, RSA has been claiming that their relationship with the NSA has changed, however, we strongly believe in this notion: once a thief, always a thief.
Of course, these are a few known incidents. There must be hundreds of such collaborations that we are not aware of. Alliances that are still operational, and spying on us along with the NSA, from the shadows.
Send Info
The NSA can access the information sent or received in your text messages. The NSA not only collects information about the content of the messages but also the metadata that allows them to access logs of transactions from your device, contacts, and your current location.
Someone’s on the Phone
The NSA had been collecting information of telephonic conversations as well. Though, this information was not confined to metadata only. In 2009, a secret program known as Mystic was launched by the NSA, as per Snowden’s revelations, the program enabled the NSA to not only record metadata but also the content of telephonic conversations. In 2011, the program reached its peak as it was reported that Mystic had enabled the NSA to record telephonic content and metadata of a country for an entire month.
There’s a Solution for Everything
Sharing the digital space, it is our responsibility to not only educate our fellow netizens about the methods through which the NSA has been spying on them, but also, provide them solutions. With thorough research, our team has come up with ways you can take your security to the next level – making your devices invulnerable to hacking attempts. Further, we are strong promoters of privacy and anonymity and have come up with guidelines with which you can secure yourself from online surveillance and stop the NSA from breaching your privacy.

5 ways to thwart NSA spying
by Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — More than half of Americans are worried about the U.S. government’s digital spies prying into their emails, texts, search requests and other online information, but few are trying to thwart the surveillance.
That’s according to a new survey from Pew Research Center, released Monday. A main reason for the inertia? Pew researchers found that a majority of those surveyed don’t know about online shields that could help boost privacy or believe it would be too difficult to avoid the government’s espionage.
The poll questioned 475 adults from Nov. 26 to Jan. 3 – about a year-and-a-half after confidential documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the U.S. government has been monitoring a broad range of online communications for years as part of its efforts to diffuse terrorist threats.
“It all boils down to people sort of feeling like they have lost control over their data and their personal information,” Mary Madden, a senior researcher for Pew, told The Associated Press. “But at the same time, when we asked them if they would like to do more, folks expressed that as an aspirational goal.”
Here are five steps you can take to be more private online.
Stealthy searching
Don’t want a digital dossier of your personal interests to be stored and analyzed? Wean yourself from the most popular search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo. All of them collect and dissect your queries to learn what kinds of products and services might appeal to you so they can sell advertising targeted to your interests. Just because that trove of data is meant to be used for commercial purposes doesn’t mean snoopers such as the NSA couldn’t vacuum up the information, too, to find out more about you. A small search engine called DuckDuckGo has been gaining more fans with its pledge to never collect personal information or track people entering queries on its site.
Just 10 percent of those participating in Pew’s survey said they use a search engine that doesn’t track their searching history.
Scramble your email
Encryption programs such as Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, can make your email appear indecipherable to anyone without the digital key to translate the gibberish. This can help prevent highly sensitive financial and business information from getting swept up by hackers, as well as a government dragnet. Yet only 2 percent of the people surveyed by Pew used PGP or other email encryption programs.
Cloak your browser
A privacy tool called Blur, made by Abine, enables its users to surf the Web without their activities being tracked. It also masks passwords and credit card information entered on computers and mobile devices so they can’t be lifted from the databases of the websites that collect them. Blur charges $39 annually for this level of protection. Privacy Badger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, offers a free way to block tracking of browsing activity.
Only 5 percent of the Pew respondents used these kinds of tools.
Cut out the internet
It might sound old-school, but if you want to share something really sensitive, meet face to face. The Pew poll found 14 percent of respondents are choosing to speak in person more frequently rather than text, email or talk on the phone because of the Snowden revelations.
Get smarter
If you’re looking to become more literate about the ins and outs of digital privacy, two of the most comprehensive guides can be found through the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense site, https://ssd.eff.org/en, and https://prism-break.org/en/.

Comment: Probably the most successful method of dealing with the chinless wonders who snoop is to put a prepared, and commercially available, virus into your system that will utterly destroy any individual or official agency that can break into your system.
This is an undetectable program that can, and does, pass any methodology extant that is designed to identify dangerous systems.
It lies dormant in the enemy systemm is activated by a “trigger” and after a specific time, the activation utterly destroys the hard drive of infected computers of the snooper, including all backup files.
This program was developed in Germany and is available for the equivalent price of $50.00.
The havoc this can wreak when activated would, and will, be monumental.
We have this on all our systems and the systems of our friends and confidants.
Enjoy!

Official Counterfeiting at home and abroad

The CIA, has been responsible for manufacturing the nearly-perfect counterfeit 50 and 100-dollar-notes that Washington has been accusing the North Koreans of making.The charge comes after an extensive investigation in Europe and Asia by the German BfV and after interviews with counterfeit money experts and leading representatives of the high-security publishing industry.
The U.S.-dollar forgeries, designated ‘Supernotes,’ are so good that even specialists are unable to distinguish them from genuine notes, have circulated for almost two decades without a reliable identification of the culprits. Because of their extraordinary quality, experts had assumed that some country must have been behind the enterprise.
The administration of George W. Bush had officially accused Pyongyang of the deed in the autumn of 2005, derailing Six-Party Talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Since then, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased considerably. America charged that North Korea has been financing its rocket and nuclear weapons program with the counterfeit ‘Supernotes.’
North Korea is one of the world’s poorest nations and lacks the technological capability to produce notes of such high quality. According to the BfV, North Korea is at present unable to even produce the won, the North Korean currency.
The German sources state that the CIA has printed the falsified ‘Supernotes’ at a secret facility near Washington to fund covert operations without Congressional oversight. The same agency has also been falsifying Euros to fund its large-scale bribery of German government officials.

The Government-Approved Rip-Off
This is rapidly becoming a decade of official deceit and public disillusion.
The issue under discussion here is MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System).
MERS, set up by the government in 1995, now claims to be a privately-held company and their official function is stated to be ‘keeping track of a confidential electronic registry of mortgages and the modifications to servicing rights and ownership of the loans.’
MERS is actually a U.S. government initiated organization like Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and its current shareholders include AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, WaMu, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, GMAC, Guaranty Bank, and Merrill Lynch.
All of these entities have been intimately, and disastrously, involved with the so-called “housing bubble,” and were subsequently quickly bailed out by the then-supportive Bush administration
In addition to its publicly stated purpose of simplifying mortgage registration MERS was also set up to assist in the creation of so-called ‘Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)’ and ‘’Structured investment Vehicles (SIV).’
The CDOs is a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS) whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets. CDOs securities are split into different risk classes, or tranches, which permits these entities to be minced into tiny tranches and sold off by the big investment banks to pensions, foreign investors and retail investors who in turn have discounted and resold them over and over.
It is well-known inside the American banking institutions that these highly questionable, potentially unsafe investment packages were deliberately marketed to countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, that are not in favor with elements of the American government and banking industry and were, and are, marketed with full knowledge of their fragility.
A number of countries, including Germany, through the American-controlled Deutsche Bank, are involved.
MERS, set up by the U.S. government in 1995, now claims to be a privately-held company and their official function is stated to be ‘keeping track of a confidential electronic registry of mortgages and the modifications to servicing rights and ownership of the loans.’
MERS is actually a U.S. government initiated organization like Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and its current shareholders include AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, WaMu, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, GMAC, Guaranty Bank, and Merrill Lynch. All of these entities have been intimately, and disastrously, involved with the so-called “housing bubble,” and were subsequently quickly bailed out by the supportive Bush administration
In addition to its publicly stated purpose of simplifying mortgage registration MERS was also set up to assist in the creation of so-called ‘ Collateralized’ debt obligations (CDOs) and Structured investment Vehicles (SIV). The CDOs is a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS) whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets. CDOs securities are split into different risk classes, or tranches, which permits these entities to be minced into tiny tranches and sold off by the big investment banks to pensions, foreign investors and retail investors, who in turn have discounted and resold them over and over.
It is well-known inside the American banking institutions that these highly questionable, potentially unsafe investment packages were deliberately marketed to countries, such as China, Germany and Saudi Arabia, that are not in favor with elements of the American government and banking industry and were, and are, marketed with full knowledge of their fragility.
The basic problem with this MERS system that while it does organize the mortgage market, it also knowingly permits fiscal sausage-making whereby a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (75 million by conservative estimate) are sliced up, put into the aforesaid “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign.
This results in the frightening fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own. Because of the diversity of the packaging, it is totally and completely impossible to ascertain what person or organization owns a specific mortgage and as a result, a clear title to MERS-controlled property is impossible to get at any time, even if a mortgage is fully paid. No person or entity, has been, or never can be, identified who can come forward and legally release the lien on the property once the loan is paid.
In short, MERS conceals this fact from the public with the not-unreasonable assumption that by the time the owner of the home or business discovers that they have only been paying rent on property they can never get clear title to, all the primary parties; the banks, the government agencies, the mortgage companies, or the title companies, will be dead and gone. MERS is set up to guarantee this fact but, gradually, little by little, mostly by word of mouth, the public is beginning to realize that their American dream of owning a house is nothing but a sham and a delusion.
The basic problem with this MERS system that while it does organize the mortgage market, it also knowingly permits fiscal sausage-making whereby a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (59 million by conservative estimate) are sliced up, put into the aforesaid “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign.
This results in the frightening fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own. Because of the diversity of the packaging, it is totally and completely impossible to ascertain what person or organization owns a specific mortgage and as a result, a clear title to MERS-controlled property is impossible to get at any time, even if a mortgage is fully paid. No person or entity, has been, or never can be, identified who can come forward and legally release the lien on the property once the loan is paid.
In short, MERS conceals this fact from the public with the not-unreasonable assumption that by the time the owner of the home or business discovers that they have only been paying rent on property they can never get clear title to, all the primary parties; the banks, the government agencies, the mortgage companies, or the title companies, will be dead and gone. MERS is set up to guarantee this fact but, gradually, little by little, mostly by word of mouth, the public is beginning to realize that their American dream of owning a house is nothing but a sham and a delusion.
The solution to this is quite simple. If a home or business American mortgage payer, goes to the property offices in their county and looks at their registered property, they can clearly see if MERS is the purported holder of the mortgage. This is fraudulent – MERS has never advanced any funds in the transaction and owns nothing. It is merely a registry. If MERS is the listed holder, the mortgage payers will never, ever, get clear title to their property.
In this case, the property occupier has two choices: They can either turn the matter over to a real estate attorney or simply continue pouring good money after bad.
Indeed there is. In case after case (95% by record) if the matter is brought to the attention of a court of law, Federal or state, the courts rule that if the actual owner of the mortgage cannot be located after a reasonable period of time, the owner receives a clear title from the court and does not need to make any further payments to an unidentified creditor!
It will stop any MERS based foreclosure mid process and further, any person who was fraudulently foreclosed by MERS, which never held their mortgage, and forced from their home can sue MERS and, through the courts, regain their lost homes.

‘We … have concluded that Donald J Trump has violated his oath’
• More than 700 historians call for Trump to be impeached as key vote looms
• Signatories include Ron Chernow and David Blight
December 17, 2019
by Martin Pengelly in New York
The Guardian
More than 700 American historians have called for the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump.
“We are American historians devoted to studying our nation’s past,” began an open letter posted to Medium, “who have concluded that Donald J Trump has violated his oath to ‘faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States’ and to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States’.”
Two articles of impeachment will be voted on in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. They concern abuse of power, in Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate his political rivals, and obstruction of Congress, in his refusal to allow key aides to testify in impeachment hearings.
Despite extensive evidence laid out in those House committee hearings, the president denies any wrongdoing.
The articles are expected to be approved, virtually on party lines, setting up a trial in the Senate in January which Republican senators, nominally impartial jurors, have said will be swift and run in close cooperation with the White House and will ultimately acquit the president. Democrats have cried foul.
Only two presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Both survived Senate trials. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, before he could be impeached.
Brenda Wineapple, author of The Impeachers, about the Johnson trial, signed the open letter, as did Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, and Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton aide and author of The Clinton Wars and so far three volumes of a five-volume life of Abraham Lincoln.
“President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president,” the historians wrote.
“Among those most hurtful to the constitution have been his attempts to coerce the country of Ukraine, under attack from Russia, an adversary power to the United States, by withholding essential military assistance in exchange for the fabrication and legitimisation of false information in order to advance his own re-election.
“President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government.
“So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.”
Among other signatories who cited revolutionary authorities including George Mason and Alexander Hamilton were Ron Chernow, Pulitzer prize-winning author of biographies of Hamilton, George Washington and Ulysses S Grant; Eric Foner, the author of seminal works on slavery; David Blight, author of a Pulitzer prize-winning life of Frederick Douglass; and Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author of Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, On a Judge and She Came to Slay, a new biography of Harriet Tubman.
The University of Liverpool historian Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire, a history of Britain and the American civil war, also signed the letter. So did Ken Burns, the documentary maker whose work on the civil war, the west, jazz, baseball, country music and Vietnam, among other subjects, has made him a pillar of US public life.
“Collectively,” the historians wrote, “the president’s offences, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election from Russian disinformation and renewed interference, arouse once again the framers’ most profound fears that powerful members of government would become, in Hamilton’s words, ‘the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption’.”
The letter was co-ordinated by Project Democracy, an advocacy group which last month released a similar letter signed by more than 500 law professors.
“It is our considered judgment,” the historians wrote, “that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.”

America’s Unreliable Friends: Today’s Allies Are Tomorrow’s Enemies
December 13, 2019
by Philip Giraldi
American Herald Tribune
One might postulate that the United States is regularly supporting so-called allies whose very nature will eventually generate blowback that will do terrible damage to actual American interests. The recent example of the mass shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida by Saudi Second Lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani is illustrative. Alshamrani killed three American sailors while three other Saudi students filmed what was taking place, presumably for posting on social media.
Though the U.S. and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have no actual alliance, the American and Saudi militaries have a relationship that began during the Second World War. Currently, Washington supports Riyadh as a force multiplier and extension of U.S. power in the Persian Gulf region to serve as a check on what if perceives to be as hostile Iran. Saudi Arabia, nurturing its own regional ambitions, clearly sees Iran as its principal enemy. As the White House also appears keen to do whatever is necessary to bring about regime change in Tehran, the tendency in Washington to serve as an apologist for whatever Riyadh does will continue for the foreseeable future. And, as an added bonus, the Saudis buy billions of dollars’ worth of American made weapons annually.
Someone has to train the people who fly the expensive warplanes, so Saudi Air Force “students” are sent to American bases like Pensacola where they undergo language and flight training that is normally conducted by civilian contractors. The student pilots, surely carefully screened by Saudi security, would be unlikely candidates for staging a terrorist attack in the United States, but the Alshamrani incident suggests that there is more dissidence bubbling beneath the surface than is apparent from the rosy assurances about The Kingdom coming out of the White House and the Royal Palace in Riyadh.
The investigation of Alshamrani continues, but it seems clear that he was unhappy with aspects of America’s pro-Israel and interventionist foreign policy. He also connected with radical websites on social media and his colleagues report that he would periodically return to the U.S. from home leave in Saudi Arabia “more religious.” On the night before the incident, he showed a film that included a mass shooting.
Alshamrani is just one element in the considerable potential downside inherent in the undeclared bilateral relationship. Apart from the regional instability created by the fact that Washington has to look the other way while the Saudis use American weapons to carry out genocide in neighboring Yemen, many observers believe that Saudi Arabia is basically unstable. Its prevailing fundamentalist Islamic sect referred to as Wahhabism is backward looking and hostile to the United States and the West. Some have even suggested that a large majority of ordinary Saudis, i.e. not those who benefit from the bilateral relationship, hate the U.S. One recalls that fifteen out of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
All of which means that the United States is training and arming people who just might turn their training and weapons against Washington if the al-Saud royal family cannot stay in power. The situation is somewhat comparable to that in Afghanistan, where so-called “green-on-blue” incidents in which Afghan army recruits kill their foreign trainers occur on a regular basis. The chief difference is that should the Saudi dissidents gain power, they would have a huge and much more lethally sophisticated arsenal to play around with.
Other regional powers are watching how the situation involving the American presence in Saudi Arabia develops. Recently Iran’s leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei commented on media reports that the Saudis would be constructing U.S. provided nuclear reactors. He said “I do not know of any regime in the region and perhaps the world as bad as the Saudi government. It is not only despotic, dictatorial, corrupt and tyrannical but also sycophantic. [The Americans] want to supply [the Saudis] with nuclear equipment. They have announced to build missile manufacturing centers for it [and] they see no problem because Saudi Arabia depends on them and belongs to them. Of course, if they build them, I personally will not be upset because I know that God willing [all the weapons] will fall into the hands of Muslim Mujahedin [for use against the Americans] in the not too distant future.”
The current situation with the House of Saud is not good. It is a regime that is under considerable pressure because of its corruption. Internationally, it has few friends due to its widely condemned war in Yemen as well as from the consequences arising over the killing and dismembering in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi. The situation also invites comparison with other current and past U.S. relationships in the region. Washington props up an unpopular and unstable regime headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt while also funding and training the country’s military. In the past, the U.S. was the main arms supplier for the Shah’s Iran, ignoring abuses committed by the regime because Iran was perceived to be a major regional power, reliably stable and apparently western looking.
The United States is also in trouble with its other major regional partner in the Middle East, Israel. As is the case with Saudi Arabia, the United States has no actual alliance or pact with the Jewish state, though such an arrangement is currently being considered. As in the case of Saudi Arabia, the United States has no say in the military actions being undertaken by its client Israel. The Jewish state regularly bombs targets in Gaza, Syria and in Lebanon, just as the Saudis do in Yemen. As the United States is the arms supplier to both nations and is more-or-less the de facto guarantor of a one-sided stability in the region, it has self-assumed responsibilities without having any input into the decisions making process. Trump’s obsession with destroying Iran, which has promised to do in his next term, makes him blind to the deficiencies in the allies he seeks to use to that end.
The situation with Israel is particularly dangerous as the Jewish state possesses a nuclear arsenal and it is widely believed that many in its military command structure are prepared to use those devices against Iran. In 2015, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon explained how Israel might have to strike Iran hard to prevent a long war. He cited the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then describing the process for making such a decision as “at the end, we might take certain steps.”
Either way, the United States of America is burdened with a number of false allies that use the relationship with Washington to enable their own schemes. If and when the whole house of cards begins to collapse, the U.S. will plausibly find itself with no friends and confronted by enemies that it empowered and also helped to train and equip.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

Preface
This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 30

The house was approached by a winding drive, paved with cobblestones and they rumbled and bumped over these until they drove into a courtyard carpeted with a thick layer of dead pine needles from the trees that surrounded the front of the house.
The vanished caretaker had a terrible hatred of the house and had done as little work as he could outside but the inside was reasonably clean, except for the ossified remains of a fast-food chicken dinner in the kitchen.
The house, which went by the ostentatious name of ‘Karlsholm’ had been built fifty years ago by an eccentric Norwegian who had made a fortune in the urinal manufacturing business and wanted to live in a house that reminded him of his Viking background. That his ancestors had been goat herders and small-time fishermen was unknown to him and ‘Karlsholm’ was his idea of how a Viking king would have lived.
A Viking king would never have recognized it at all.
There was a central section made of gray stone, two stories high. On either side were two long wings that were not at right angles to the center but formed a rough triangle. All the walls were gray stone and the roof was covered with blue-gray slate.
The gutters and downspouts were apple-green weathered copper and every window had its own working shutters, each one decorated with a Norse figure of twisted snakes.
The front of the house with its courtyard, faced south and the back looked out over miles of forest from the top of a hundred foot high stone bluff.
The interior was far more impressive that the exterior. There was a great deal of carved oak in almost all the rooms and Nordic themes were seen everywhere, especially in the massive staircase that led to the second floor.
On the second floor were three suites; one facing north, the other two on the western and eastern side. They were arraigned around a central area that got natural light from a tall bank of windows on the south, just at the head of the staircase.
The rooms had been unoccupied for a number of years and smelled of dust and disuse. The curtains were badly faded and their silk linings were laddered and hung in strips..
There were metallic windrows of dead flies on the windowsills, a dripping faucet in one of the bathrooms and hard water stains in all of the toilets.
Chuck observed that all of the original plumbing had been replaced with very expensive modern appliances at some time in the recent past and the agent advised that all of the many fireplaces had their flues relined to prevent chimney fires.
The Viking theme was repeated in stained glass roundels set into the front windows of the main block, in the carved and painted ceiling beams and in the ornate carved wooden doors throughout the house.
The right wing housed a three-car garage, a generator room, a workshop and quarters for two servants and the left wing had four guest suites.
The dining room, living room, a very large kitchen with modern appliances and an anonymous room that once had been a library were all in the main building on both sides of the entrance hall.
The overall impression was one of eccentric decor, laughingly termed “Minnesota Viking” by various real estate agents, coupled with excellent craftsmanship that could no longer be found in even the most expensive of newly built houses.
The only drawback was the distance from the nearest town, about five miles, and the fact that there was no mail delivery except at the local post office. Also, in the winter, the road to the house was not cleared of snow. This had to be done by contracting with a local firm and was not inexpensive.
The agent, well aware of the heavy snows that sometimes choked the area, was discreet about the winters, extolling instead the magnificent springs, short summers and shorter autumns.
“We do have four seasons here, sir, not like it was in Arizona where you came from. And in the summer, I can assure you, this is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in the state. And of course, just look at the exceptional quality of the house. Why it would cost millions to replace it today, and that is if you could even find the craftsmen!”
The present owners, a grandson of the original owner, and his wife, loathed the place and had been trapped there one winter for eight terrible weeks by ten-foot drifts of snow and very little food. They ended up eating bowls full of dry dog food and drinking melted snow until they were rescued by the Sheriff’s patrol.
The house had been on the market for five years and there had been no real interest in it, even though the price had been constantly reduced from the original two million dollar figure.
In fact, the owners had offered the agency a sizable bonus if they could find a buyer and the agent was well aware of this. After a tour of inspection that lasted well over the usual time most prospective buyers spent examining a house, he had hopes that perhaps these people might be actual, as opposed to prospective buyers.
Back in his office, the negotiations began. Gwen said nothing while Chuck made careful jottings in his notebook and constant reference to his pocket calculator.
He could tell from the fact that the house had been long vacant and on the market that prospective buyers were very few and far between. He knew that winters in that part of the state could be brutal and the house was too remote for almost anyone else.
It needed to be furnished and there was a great deal of minor, cosmetic work indicated. The hundred acres coupled with the remoteness pleased him, a man who had been running away from his uncle’s wrath for ten years and whose life had been the target of a number of unpleasant, unexpected and potentially fatal attacks. Sooner or later, he reasoned, someone would succeed. He had no family left, no wife and no heirs so his death would secure his uncle in his inheritance. By depriving him of his heir, Chuck had guaranteed the wrath of Charles Rush and years of experience had taught him that his uncle was of limited intelligence but possessed of great powers of concentration.
The house was elegant enough to remind him of his childhood and remote enough to give him a better margin of safety. Also, there was the question of his two friends.
He felt responsible for them and the thought that someone might kill them either out of general nastiness or general carelessness was not a pleasant one.
The asking price for the house was now three hundred and fifty thousand, reduced earlier that month from five hundred. The cost of furnishing the place and installing an effective security system would be considerable and he took this into account during his calculations.
While he made notes and referred to the print out on his calculator, the agent kept up a running attempt to convince Chuck that he would be graced with fortune when he finally signed the contract Chuck calculated interest rates, fixed rate versus fluctuating mortgages, furniture prices, the cost of special transportation such as ATVs and snowmobiles, wood for the fireplaces, cellular telephones in case there was a interruption of service in the middle of winter and, of course, wardrobes for at least Lars and himself.
He said nothing for a good half hour and totally ignored the salesman’s babblings.
Finally,
“Yes, well, I’ll make an offer now.”
“Of course, sir!” said the salesman, one Oscar Lundgren, “of course!”
Chuck frowned and looked at his neat entries.
“You want three hundred and fifty thousand. I’ll offer two hundred thousand dollars to you and I will pay in cash. Before you think I’m a Mexican drug lord, let me explain that my wife and I have sold out our interest in a chain of Arizona supermarkets, which I inherited from my mother. I have cash now. I have decided that mortgages are only for poor people and I am not poor. We are both aware that the house is certainly well built and in some ways attractive but the negative points are,”
He held up a hand and ticked them off on his fingers,
“Remoteness, cost of keeping the place warm in winter, cost of snow removal if we want to get in and out, taxes on a hundred acres of prime timber land, curtains, rugs and all the little things that people like to have around them, black flies in the summer and I used to visit up here so I know all about the black files that bite like vampire bats.”
He smiled at the agent who knew that he was listening to someone who had made up his mind. There was the question of his fees and Chuck then addressed that concern.
“And if this is satisfactory, I will give you a small token of my esteem for pushing this through. I realize that no man can serve two masters but it can be so much more rewarding for you to maximize your profits, don’t you think?”
The agent heard, but did not acknowledge, this bribe.
He did, however, eventually accept it with great modesty.
“I’ll have to talk to the owners.”
He looked at his watch.
“I’ll try now but I doubt if they are in. If they aren’t, when I tender your offer, I will get back to you as soon as I can with their response.”
Everyone stood up after this, hands were shaken and the agent gave his card to all three of them.
The call came at nine fifteen that same night.
The owners were not happy but the thought of finally getting rid of a place they had nicknamed The Refrigerator coupled with the lure of a large amount of cash finally convinced them to accept.
Chuck put down the receiver.
“Well, children, we are now homeowners without all the bother of credit checks and paper trails. The next step is to buy the place followed by moving in. I figure that will take a month and we are on a thirty day lease here so if we’re lucky, we can get out of here without paying another month’s rent.”
He bought the place in the name of the fictional MacIntyre couple and added Lars to the deed as an afterthought.

(Continued)

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