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TBR News December 18, 2019

Dec 18 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 18, 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 18: ” The circus is in town and glandered elephants, also called Republicans, will be stomping on the ground and dropping huge loads of dung at the same time. Their shabby and badly flawed leader is slowly being roasted for the edification of the American voters and in the process, many hunters are waiting to kill the elephants for their tusks and also to prevent further dung droppings.”

The Table of Contents
• Pelosi calls Trump threat to U.S. as House moves toward Trump impeachment vote
• Trump impeachment: What you need to know about the vote and any Senate trial
• Kremlin: US sanctions won’t stop Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany
• Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – What is the controversy about?
• L. Ron Hubbard
• JAMES P. ATWOOD: The CIA’S Fake Dagger King
• The Season of Evil

Pelosi calls Trump threat to U.S. as House moves toward Trump impeachment vote
December 18, 2019
by Patricia Zengerle and Amanda Becker
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Donald Trump an ongoing threat to American democracy as the bitterly divided chamber engaged in an impeachment debate before historic votes on two charges accusing the Republican president of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
The Democratic-controlled House launched a planned six hours of debate on the two articles of impeachment – formal charges – arising from the president’s actions toward Ukraine, with time equally divided between the parties and no amendments.
Trump would become only the third U.S. president to be impeached.
“Today we are here to defend democracy for the people,” Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said in a speech on the House floor, drawing applause from lawmakers in her party.
In a series of speeches on the House floor, Republicans defended the president and accused Democrats of seeking to topple him from power using an unfair and rigged process.
Separate votes on the two charges are expected in the early evening. The votes are expected to fall almost entirely along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” Pelosi added.
“He gave us no choice. What we are discussing today is the established fact that the president violated the Constitution. It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections – the basis of our democracy,” Pelosi said.
Following Pelosi, Representative Doug Collins, top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said, “This an impeachment based on presumption. This is basically also a poll-tested impeachment on what actually sells to the American people. Today’s going to be a lot of things. What it is not, is fair. What it is not, is about the truth.”
The debate underscored the deep divide in Congress over Trump’s conduct during his tumultuous presidency and the larger political schism within the United States.
Impeachment is an extraordinary check on presidential power spelled out in the U.S. Constitution enabling Congress to remove presidents who commit “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“The founders’ great fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why they enshrined impeachment in the Constitution,” Pelosi added.
The vote would set the stage for a trial expected next month in the U.S. Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. While the House twice previously has voted to impeach presidents – Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 – no president has ever been removed from office via impeachment.
The Senate is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, who have shown little interest in ousting him. During the trial, House members would act as prosecutors as the senators as jurors.
House Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a former U.S. vice president and a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 election. Trump is also accused of obstructing the House investigation by directing administration officials and agencies not to comply with subpoenas for testimony and documents related to impeachment.
“This is a democracy-defining moment. History will judge us by whether we keep intact that fragile republic handed down to us by our forebears over 200 years ago – or whether we allow it to be changed forever,” Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, said on the House floor.
Representative Tom Cole, that committee’s top Republican, countered, “Today after a truncated investigation that denied the president due process, cherry-picked evidence and witness testimony to fit their narrative, and trampled on Republicans’ minority rights, Democrats in the House are pressing forward with a partisan impeachment vote.”
Reporting by David Morgan, Amanda Becker, Patricia Zengerle, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

Trump impeachment: What you need to know about the vote and any Senate trial
December 18, 2019
BBC News
The US House of Representatives is preparing to vote on impeaching President Donald Trump. With Democrats controlling the lower chamber, the move is expected to pass – setting the stage for the third-ever Senate impeachment trial.
Here’s what you need to know before the trial of President Trump begins.
When is the impeachment vote?
The impeachment vote is due to take place on Wednesday. Only a simple majority is needed to impeach Mr Trump.
On Tuesday Congressional lawmakers set the guidelines for the floor debate, deciding that it could go on for six hours and voting not to allow amendments to the impeachment proceedings.
Why is there a trial?
A trial in the Senate will follow the vote to impeach the president in the House, as decreed in the Constitution.
The House’s articles of impeachment level two accusations against the president: that he solicited a foreign country to help him politically and that he obstructed Congress. The Republican president has denied any wrongdoing, calling the inquiry a “witch hunt”.
Mr Trump is accused of withholding millions in military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president as bargaining chips to push Ukraine into investigating his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Democrats say this amounts to an abuse of presidential power.
As the White House refused to allow staff to testify during impeachment hearings in the House, Democrats have also accused Mr Trump of obstructing Congress.
What’s involved?
The Constitution is admittedly vague when it comes to impeachment – simply mandating that the House has the “sole power of impeachment”, acting as grand jury and bringing charges. The Senate is given “the sole power to try all impeachments” and convict a president of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
There are general rules largely based on President Andrew Johnson’s trial, but ultimately, Republican leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic counterpart Chuck Schumer will have to determine the guidelines for evidence, witnesses, duration and arguments.
While Mr McConnell has the final say over the format as the Republican Senate leader, he could find his options limited if Democrats pressure moderate Republicans to vote with them on any changes to the rules. At any point, senators can call for votes on trial procedures that would need a simple majority to pass.
After lawmakers hear from both sides – House prosecutors and White House counsel – and any witnesses, they will be given a full day to deliberate before a vote on conviction is held.
A two-thirds majority is required to convict and oust Mr Trump. Given that Republicans control the 100-seat chamber with a 53-47 majority, the president is widely expected to be acquitted.
Who’s who?
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial in the Senate, but the senators ultimately will act as both judge and jury.
Justice Roberts is there to make sure the trial adheres to the predetermined rules, but if any vote during the trial ends in a tie, he has the final say.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will also select a group of Democrats to act as impeachment managers – essentially prosecutors for the House. These lawmakers will present the lower chamber’s case for impeachment to the Senate.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler would be the most traditional choices, US media report, though it is unclear who else might make the cut.
During Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, Republicans had 13 such managers; staunch Trump ally Lindsey Graham was one.
Mr McConnell, the majority leader, will ultimately have sway over the format and guidelines of the trial.
He sparked condemnation from Democrats over recent comments to Fox News, saying: “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.”
Will senators get to ask questions?
Senators can ask questions of witnesses or counsellors, but only by submitting them in writing to Justice Roberts.
Witnesses may not necessarily appear on the Senate floor. They can be interviewed by a committee of lawmakers with footage of the testimony aired during the trial instead.
Democrats want several senior White House officials to testify, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and ex-adviser John Bolton.
But there may not be any witnesses at all if Republicans decide they would rather keep the trial short, despite Mr Trump’s calls for the Bidens and the whistleblower who sparked the Ukraine inquiry to appear.
Speaking on the senate floor on Tuesday, Mr McConnell suggested as much, saying the senate’s duty is to “act as judge and jury to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire fact-finding investigation”.
“We do not need jurors to start brainstorming witness lists for the prosecution,” he added.
Mr Clinton’s trial had no live witnesses.
Will Trump give evidence?
While the president could choose to appear before the Senate himself, it is much more likely he will have White House lawyer Pat Cipollone speak on his behalf.
Mr Cipollone, like the impeachment managers, will be able to question witnesses and deliver opening and closing statements.
US media report Mr Trump may also bring some House conservatives onto his defence team, like Ohio congressman Jim Jordan or John Ratcliffe of Texas.
Will Biden or his son have to testify?
That will depend on what Mr McConnell chooses for the trial format. US media report Republicans are still debating if it is worth it to summon the Democratic former vice-president and his son as the president wants.
Mr Biden has dismissed calls for his testimony, telling NPR it is an attempt by the president to “divert attention” from the accusations against him.
“This is a Trump gambit he plays,” Mr Biden said. “I will not yield to what everybody is looking for here. And that is to take the eye off the ball.”
How long might this all take?
After the House presents the articles of impeachment to the Senate, they must consider them in session every day, except Sunday, until the final decision.
Mr Schumer has offered a tentative schedule for the trial, which would be the first order of business in the new year. In total, he has suggested some 126 hours of proceedings.
18 December – House votes on articles of impeachment
6 January – Start of Senate trial, guidelines and other housekeeping measures finalised
7 January – Swearing in of senators as jurors and Chief Justice Roberts
9 January – House prosecutors and White House counsel each have 24 hours to present arguments
The trial is likely to take weeks but how many is anybody’s guess. Democrats will hope it is all done by the time the 2020 primary elections begin in February.

Kremlin: US sanctions won’t stop Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany
Russia has slammed US sanctions over the mammoth gas pipeline to Germany as illegal and an example of “unfair competition.” The measures, which still need Donald Trump’s approval, target firms involved in the project.
December 18, 2019
DW
The US is preparing sanctions to maintain its “artificial domination of European markets” and push EU members into buying more American gas over the Russian one, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
His comments come after US lawmakers overwhelmingly voted for a package of sanctions that would target companies and managers involved with the construction of Nord Stream 2, a €9.5 billion ($10.6 billion) gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The nearly completed project, spearheaded by Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom, would effectively double German consumption of Russian gas and potentially feed billions of euros to the Russian state. It would also bypass several central European countries, including Ukraine, reducing their negotiating power during gas crises and leaving them without lucrative gas transit fees.
US companies are also frustrated by the project as they attempt to sell their more expensive gas on the European market.
The US measures still need to be signed by President Donald Trump before going into effect. However, Trump is not expected to block them.
On Wednesday, Peskov said that sanctions would not prevent Nord Stream 2 from becoming operational.
“We expect that this project would be completed,” he said.
Peskov also slammed the move as a “flagrant violation of international law” and said that US’ long-time allies in Western Europe also oppose the measure.
“Moscow does not like such measures, and neither do other European capitals such as Berlin and Paris,” he said.
German politicians have indeed signaled their displeasure with the sanctions, saying that they would additionally burden the relationship between Berlin and Washington.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that Germany’s opposition to the sanctions should be handled through dialogue.
“I also see no other option than to hold talks — very decisive talks — to make it clear that we do not approve,” Merkel told the German Parliament, the Bundestag. “We are against extraterritorial sanctions.”
The Premier of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, Manuela Schwesig, said that Germany and Europe needed a secure energy supply. The Baltic Sea pipeline is set to enter German territory at the coastal city of Greifswald in the northern German state.
“[The Americans] are attempting to bring American gas, obtained by fracking, to the market,” she added.
The pipeline is expected to start transporting gas in 2020.

Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – What is the controversy about?
by Darko Janjevic
DW
Berlin is under increasing pressure to pull the plug on Nord Stream 2, the planned gas pipeline that would link Russia and Germany below the Baltic Sea. Here is what you need to know about the massive project.
What is Nord Stream 2?
What is it for: Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline that would allow Germany to effectively double the amount of gas it imports from Russia. In 2017, Germany used up a record 53 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, comprising about 40 percent of Germany’s total gas consumption. Nord Stream 2’s delivery system is designed to carry up to 55 billion cubic meters (1.942 trillion cubic feet) of gas per year.
Where is it: Berlin and Moscow agreed on the 1,200-kilometer (746-mile) route, which would connect the Ust-Luga area near Saint Petersburg with Greifswald in northeastern Germany. The pipes would run across the Baltic Sea, for the most part following the route of the pre-existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which became operational in 2011.
Who is paying for it: Russia’s energy giant Gazprom is the sole shareholder of the Nord Stream 2 AG, the company in charge of implementing the €9.5 billion ($11.1 billion) project. Gazprom is also covering half of the cost. The rest, however, is being financed by five western companies: ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper and Wintershall.
Why is it controversial?
EU countries: The planned route bypasses central and eastern European countries such as Slovakia and Poland, leaving them without a chance to collect lucrative gas transit fees. Moreover, with Russia having means to directly deliver gas to its most important buyer, Germany, it would be much easier for the Russian government to shut off existing pipelines leading through Eastern Europe.
The project also runs contrary to Brussels’ efforts to wean Europe off Russian gas. In April 2018, the EU Commission refused to back the project, saying it did not contribute to the EU goals of diversifying the gas supplies. Separately, environmentalists claim the pipeline would be harmful for the flora and fauna of the Baltic Sea.
Ukraine: Russia could easily cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in order to put pressure on Kyiv. Ukraine is making about $2 billion (€1.7) on gas transit fees per year, making it a key source of income for the country. Whenever Russia closed the valves in recent years, the lack of sales hurt both Gazprom and its buyers in rich, Western European countries, making all sides interested in overcoming the crisis.
The United States: On the global stage, critics accuse Berlin of ignoring the interests of its allies by filling Russia’s coffers at the time of a diplomatic conflict. US President Donald Trump slammed Berlin in July 2018, saying it was “captive to Russia” due to its energy policy. “Pipeline dollars to Russia are not acceptable!” he tweeted.
The United States also has a practical reason to oppose Nord Stream 2. Its companies have already started selling gas obtained by fracking to European countries, backed by US authorities who say Europe should seek alternatives to Russia. However, the US gas is more expensive than that supplied through Russian pipelines.
What does the future hold for Nord Stream 2?
Berlin’s response: Germany has so far stuck to its guns and presented the project as a purely economic issue. Its officials emphasize that West Germany imported gas from the Soviet Union during the Cold War era, and that Moscow is more dependent on exporting gas than the other way around. Also, with European gas fields nearly spent and Germany phasing out nuclear power, Berlin needs a reliable source of energy to facilitate its long-term shift to renewable sources.
Pressuring Russia over Ukraine: At the same time, Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to alleviate fears in Kyiv while meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in May 2018. “The German viewpoint is that Ukraine would have to keep its role as a transit nation after Nord Stream 2 has been completed,” she said. “This is a matter of strategic significance.”
In turn, Putin pledged only that the gas transits through Ukraine would not be suspended “as long as they are economically justified.”
Construction underway
German authorities have already granted all necessary permits and, in May 2018, officially started construction on the pipeline’s ending point near Greifswald. Finland and Sweden also approved the construction, with Denmark still withholding consent on environmental grounds. However, project organizers have said that even with Denmark’s veto, the pipeline could simply take an alternative route. According to the current plans, the construction of the pipeline should be completed before the end of 2019.

L. Ron Hubbard
The Donald Trump of the religious world
Clearly, no greater man has ever lived. Even beyond single-handedly inventing the scientific field known as Dianetics and founding an immensely popular religion, L. Ron Hubbard has by his own account led a most extraordinary life: conversant in seven languages, decorated war hero, scientist, inventor, philosopher, film director, musician. And his success as a writer and a messiah is undeniable.
It is common for people to assume that Hubbard was a pathological liar or some manner of megalomaniac when they learn his life story, because it certainly does sound incredible. But his followers have carefully researched their founder’s biography and secured all the documentation to prove their claims. Although this paperwork has yet to see the light of day, or is in fact contradicted by more readily-available sources, the simplest explanation is that Hubbard made some powerful enemies in the government who would stop at nothing to discredit him. Because it simply defies reason that so many people would choose to follow anyone who concocted stories as fantastic as these about himself. And anyway, truth is stranger than fiction.
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born in Nebraska in 1911. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Helena, Montana. There he quickly blossomed into a cowboy poet. According to an official biography, Ron was “riding broncos by the age of 3, soon breaking them, and at 6, he became a blood brother of the Blackfoot Indians.” At the same time, he began reading the works by Shakespeare and Greek philosophers. If this was claimed of anyone else, you would be right to be skeptical. Especially considering that nobody’s been able to verify exactly where this ranch existed. But Montana is infamous for its poor record-keeping; everybody knows that.
He was definitely a force to be reckoned with. In kindergarten, little Ron was defending his neighbors and classmates from bullies twice his age by using a form of judo his grandfather called “lumberjack fighting.” That’s right: he was in kindergarten. None of the former kids actually remembers Ron taking care of business, but people easily forget things from their childhoods.
In 1922 the family moved to Washington state, where Ron joined Boy Scout troop 10 the following year. Sometime around Christmas, the kid evidently developed a powerful hankering for an Eagle Scout patch because he earned his remaining 18 merit badges by March 25. That works out to one badge every 4.7 days. Nowadays, Scouters tend to frown upon rushing through the advancement system, because it tends to create “paper Eagles” — kids who hold Scouting’s highest rank but can’t remember how to tie their knots. But maybe things were different back in 1924.
In 1930, Ron enrolled at George Washington University’s school of engineering. He studied for a career in civil engineering, but left after only two years. Perhaps he was bored by the pace of the coursework. Or maybe he just decided he would benefit more from an autodidactic approach. For whatever reason, his GWU transcript included six D’s and four F’s. The simplest explanation is that these were simply clerical errors which Hubbard never bothered to correct.
War hero
A year and a half before Pearl Harbor, as a civilian Ron had already begun fighting the Nazis. He was piloting a boat up the Alaskan coast when he stopped off at Ketchikan. There he met the owner/operator of KGBU radio. Evidently the area had been experiencing mysterious interference in the station’s transmissions. Ron immediately had a hunch: it was none other than the work of a German spy, out to disable America’s communication systems to prevent the prompt relaying of emergency information. Hubbard made a full report to the FBI, thus thwarting the plot. For some reason, the government still denies that this ever took place, but then they deny a lot of stuff we know to be true.
Ron volunteered for the Naval Reserves in 1941, where he distinguished himself with a brilliant military career. In August 1942, Lt. Hubbard was assigned to the YP-422, a patrol boat at the Boston Navy Yard. After a single training exercise, the Navy decided that Hubbard’s talents were being wasted on such an insignificant task. Somehow the Axis had infiltrated the Navy Yard, because the Commandant stripped Hubbard of his command after only a single training exercise. Or maybe he was simply intimidated by the young officer’s complete and utter mastery of leadership and sailing skills.
Hubbard got shuffled around to a couple of desk jobs before managing to convince the Navy of his value as a commanding officer. So in May 1943 he took charge of a submarine chaser, the PC-815. As luck would have it, on the very first day of its maiden voyage, Hubbard’s subchaser encountered sonar contacts off the Oregon coast. He spent the next several hours hunting two submarines, dropping depth charges and shooting at surface debris with deck guns. The next day, four other ships and two Navy blimps were brought in to aid in the hunt. Evidently Hubbard’s quick thinking ruled the day, because no trace of the submarines could be found. No doubt, they were both lying wrecked on the ocean floor.
It was Hubbard’s bad luck that the battle took place directly over a known magnetic deposit, which made it impossible for instruments to distinguish between the wreckage and the minerals in the seabed. Which is of course precisely what made it the ideal spot for enemy subs to hide. But the Navy brass refused to acknowledge the heroic feat. So they scapegoated Hubbard, claiming that he had simply become confused by the geological feature and wasted all his ammunition on phantoms. They were probably just worried about inciting panic among the populace.
He was admonished and then ordered to take his ship to San Diego, where it was to remain for a two-year assignment. On June 28, after a day of training exercises off the coast, Lt. Hubbard ordered his men to practice firing at a practice target floating near some uninhabited islands. They unloaded all kinds of ammo into the thing, including four 50-caliber artillery rounds. At least two of those rounds missed the target and struck the island.
After the crew returned to San Diego the next morning, they were surprised to learn a few things:
1.the island was called South Coronados
2.South Coronados island actually belonged to Mexico
3.South Coronados island was actually inhabited, by Mexicans
4.the Mexican government had, in fact, filed a formal complaint about the shelling
Evidently bowing to Mexican pressure, the Navy brass showed no mercy. They formally reprimanded Lt. Hubbard and stripped him of his command. According to the comments in his fitness report, L. Ron would never again captain a naval vessel:
Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgement, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results. He is believed to have been sincere in his efforts to make his ship efficient and ready. Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time. Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised.
In November he was assigned to serve as the Navigation Officer on a freighter, the SS Algol. There he spent nine months trying not to die of boredom. Finally, he was accepted into a three-month Military Government course at the Navy Training School on the campus of Princeton University. It is really astonishing that Hubbard managed to make it through the course, because he soon wound up in a VA hospital, where he spent two years recovering from extensive war injuries. As he put it:
Blinded with injured optic nerves, and lame with physical injuries to hip and back, at the end of World War II, I faced an almost non-existent future. […]
And so there came a further blow — I was abandoned by family and friends as a supposedly hopeless cripple and a probable burden upon them for the rest of my days. Yet I worked my way back to fitness and strength in less than two years, using only what I knew about Man and his relationship to the universe. I had no one to help me; what I had to know I had to find out. And it’s quite a trick studying when you cannot see.
I became used to being told it was all impossible, that there was no way, no hope. Yet I came to see again and walk again.
As inspiring as Hubbard’s recovery was, it was even more amazing that he had made it through the entire government class at Princeton both blind and crippled. Once again, if you heard this story about anyone other than L. Ron, you would be right to question it. Especially given the fact that Lt. Hubbard’s medical records include nothing more serious than an ulcer. Which is troublesome, until you discover that Hubbard wound up making some very powerful enemies near the end of his life, who would like nothing more than to discredit him and his work.
Crusader against the Dark Arts
After his miraculous recovery and discharge from the service, L. Ron was sent on a secret mission to infiltrate a coven of warlocks in Pasadena, California. The government instructed Hubbard to destroy it from within. Unfortunately, there is no record of any government agency making such a request, but you really can’t expect the Feds to hand over sensitive paperwork like that. But there is independent documentation that L. Ron successfully insinuated himself into the group.
First he befriended Jack Parsons, the head of the Agape Lodge. In no time at all, they became best friends. Next, he seduced Jack’s girlfriend Betty. (It’s unclear whether this was an assigned objective, or just a fringe benefit.) In early 1946, Parsons wrote a letter to Aleister Crowley, who was the head of the parent organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis:
About 3 months ago I met Capt L Ron Hubbard, a writer and explorer of whom I had known for some time… He is a gentleman, red hair, green eyes, honest and intelligent and we have become great friends. He moved in with me about two months ago, and although Betty and I are still friendly, she has transferred her sexual affections to him.
Although he has no formal training in Magick he has an extraordinary amount of experience and understanding in the field. From some of his experiences I deduce he is in direct touch with some higher intelligence, possibly his Guardian Angel. He is the most Thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles. He is also interested in establishing the New Aeon, but for cogent reasons I have not introduced him to the Lodge.
As illustrated in the letter, Jack had come to trust L. Ron implicitly. In fact, Hubbard had proposed a financial arrangement to speed the disintegration of the Lodge:
We are pooling our resources in a partnership which will act as a parent company to control our business ventures. I think I have made a great gain, and as Betty and I are the best of friends, there is little loss…
Parsons coughed up $20,970.80, Hubbard threw in $1,183.91, and with that $22,154.71 in seed money they formed Allied Enterprises. Then L. Ron suggested that they invest in yachts. They would buy underpriced boats in Florida and sell them in California. Since he was an accomplished sea captain, Hubbard would sail them to Los Angeles. This idea sounded good to Jack. So in May, Hubbard and Betty left for Florida on a boat-buying mission.
Evidently, part of the government plan to root out the coven involved squandering its financial resources, because as soon as Hubbard got to Florida he drained the Allied Enterprises bank account and spent it all on three yachts and a whole lot of high living.
In the end, Parsons went to court but only managed to recover about half his money. The financial trouble must have hindered the Agape Lodge, and by extension the OTO. After being apprised of the situation, Crowley dispatched a message to his subordinate expressing utter dismay:
From our brother’s account he has given away both his girl and his money — apparently it is an ordinary confidence trick. Which was certainly true, of course. Except what Crowley didn’t know — and the feds still refuse to admit — is that Hubbard had done it all for Uncle Sam. It is quite possible that without Ron’s courageous undercover work, America would today be overrun by the forces of evil.
Self-help guru
In 1949, Hubbard began developing a theory of mind which would prove revolutionary. In his model, the human brain was a system akin to a digital computer. And just as you can improve a computer system’s performance by defragging its hard disk, L. Ron believed that you could accomplish the same optimization by clearing space in a person’s long-term memory. In doing so, the subject is capable of freeing himself of the lingering effects of negative memories — eliminating psychological and psychosomatic illnesses, vastly improving memory retention, and boosting the I.Q. score. This is accomplished by reliving the bad experiences in a trancelike state, where they are dealt with and disposed of, one at a time.
This scientific field came to be known as Dianetics. Inauspicious as it may sound, Dianetics was introduced to the world in the May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. A few weeks later, a full-length book was published entitled Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Healing. It soon became a best-seller, moving 150,000 copies in the first year alone. The system set forth in these works and other magazine articles would change the lives of millions.
By following Hubbard’s regimen they were relieved of all forms of irrational behavior, including unhealthy compulsions, repressive inhibitions, and psychosomatic illnesses. At which point, they were considered “Clear” — absolutely free of self-defeating influences. A person who was Clear had harnessed the extraordinary powers of the human intellect. In so doing, they would appear to be superhuman in the eyes of the “Pre-Clears.” Hubbard revealed that Buddha and Jesus Christ, far from being divine, were simply ordinary mortals who had progressed “a shade above Clear.”
Another startling realization Hubbard made during his years of research was that people with serious physical or mental problems were almost always the victims of dozens of abortion attempts. As he explained it later, “attempted abortion is very common.” Each such incident left a mark on the unborn fetus, along with the mother’s engagement in sexual intercourse, masturbation, douching, morning sickness, and constipation. This revelation was so unsettling that it drew fire from many critics. For instance:
Hubbard’s extensive discussion of things sexual, his concern with abortions, beatings, coitus under duress, flatulence which causes pressure on the foetus, certain cloacal references, all suggest to me a fascination which borders on the obsessive, as if he possessed a deep-seated hatred of women. All of them are being beaten, most of them prove to be unfaithful, few babies are wanted. Strident opposition to Hubbard’s insights extended into the federal government as well. As part of an orchestrated effort to discredit him and drive him out business, the FBI opened a file on Hubbard and began tracking his activities. But even as the enemies were closing in, Ron did not cease his research, which led him to discoveries even more earth-shattering.
Savior of all humanity
In late 1953, L. Ron Hubbard announced to the world that the Dianetics system was more than just a self-improvement mechanism — it was also the key to understanding the source of mankind’s spirituality. In other words, Dianetics was now a religion. Hubbard termed his new faith Scientology.
Ron had made this unparalleled discovery through a technique established in Dianetics — reliving past experiences to root out traumatic memories. Hubbard proposed that the earlier the memory, the more impact it has on the grown subject. Many adherents of Dianetics wind up re-experiencing life events all the way back to the gamete stage, remembering the consciousness they had when they were just a sperm cell. In fact, Hubbard realized that he could use this method to remember past lives, all the way backward through one’s evolutionary ancestors, thus proving once and for all both evolution and reincarnation.
He also empirically calculated the age of the immortal soul (or more accurately, the thetan), which he determined to be trillions or quadrillions of years. (This figure is significantly older than the planet Earth.) LRH revealed that our material bodies contain a collection of these thetans, one of which is dominant and the rest fight for control. Which brings us to the centerpiece of L. Ron Hubbard’s mind-blowing theology. It turns out that our spirits were actually transported to this planet 75 million years ago — back when its proper name was “Teegeeack” — by an impossibly cruel dictator known as Xenu.
Xenu was the head of the Galactic Federation, a group of civilizations on 76 planets in our general neighborhood of the cosmos. As a result of incredible overcrowding problems, Xenu ordered that millions or billions of political dissidents from the various planets be brought to Teegeeack, where they were brainwashed and their souls implanted into the local fauna. Many dozens of these thetans were crammed into each animal. Then the creatures were dropped into volcanoes and vaporized with hydrogen bombs. Through Scientology, LRH provided the means by which a person can exorcise his unwanted thetans and undo Xenu’s brainwashing.
This process is extremely dangerous if done improperly. So naturally, the Church of Scientology is very careful about who receives the full briefing. It’s the kind of thing that could permanently damage the psyche of an unprepared mind. Which is why none of this information is provided to Scientologists until after years of mental preparation and training.
Persecution
Almost overnight, Scientology opened centers across America and England. What had been only a self-help discipline a few years before had suddenly grown into the single most important institution in the history of humankind. Ron alternated between continuing his groundbreaking research into the mind and giving lectures on the subject of Scientology.
It was soon thereafter that elements of the government began to focus on undermining the Church of Scientology and its founder. Hubbard wrote a letter to the FBI in July 1955 informing them of an IRS plot intended to destroy him. The FBI ignored his plea for help, proving their complicity in the effort. The intimidation and harassment worsened over the next decade, eventually driving LRH to escape the jurisdiction of the United States. And Britain. As well as every other nation on Earth.
At L. Ron’s direction, the Church of Scientology began assembling a fleet of ships in the late 1960s. Hubbard transferred the church’s files and principal staff members onto the Royal Scotman (later rechristened the Apollo). Then the church’s mobile headquarters put to sea, with its founder at the helm.
LRH remained at sea for the next few years, thus evading the clutches of the corrupt governments of the world. This is the period Scientology’s enemies like to claim that Hubbard turned into some kind of paranoid Howard Hughes-like recluse. That he was terrified of dentists and doctors and refused to be treated by either. That he became addicted to prescription drugs. That he became capricious and cruel with his crew. That his mind and body both deteriorated to an appalling state. All of which is utter nonsense.
If Hubbard’s primary concern was in dodging law enforcement, creditors, and process servers, it was simply needless to live at sea for several years. He could have accomplished the same thing by secretly purchasing a huge large tract of land in an out-of-the-way location, and establishing a fortress there under a cover story intended to deflect suspicion. That would have been simpler than spending years on an ocean liner.
Eventually, LRH returned to the U.S. and ordered the church to quietly procure a sprawling land parcel near Hemet, California. There they established a defensible compound disguised as a small-scale film studio and duplication house for corporate training videos so they could avoid attracting unwanted attention. Hubbard lived there for a few years, before retiring to a similar low-profile facility constructed near the small town of Creston, California.
Moving on
Three days after the founder’s death, the news was broken to the church membership at the Palladium theater in Los Angeles. Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige, delivered the eulogy. Miscavige stressed the fact that Ron had not actually died, but rather progressed to a level above human (much like what Marshall Applewhite would attempt to do a decade later):
“Thus, at 2000 hours, Friday 24 January 1986, L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime for seventy-four years, ten months and eleven days. The body he had used to facilitate his existence in this universe had ceased to be useful and in fact had become an impediment to the work he now must do outside its confines. The being we knew as L. Ron Hubbard still exists. Although you may feel grief, understand that he did not, and does not now. He has simply moved on to his next step. LRH in fact used this lifetime and body we knew to accomplish what no man has ever accomplished — he unlocked the mysteries of life and gave us the tools so we could free ourselves and our fellow men…”
And so ends the story of the greatest man who ever lived.

JAMES P. ATWOOD: The CIA’S Fake Dagger King
A most interesting individual was James P. Atwood (April 16, 1930- July 20, 1997).
During the Iran Contra affair, General Secord’s arms shipments, arraigned through the CIA, transferred weapons destined for Central America to Merex Corporation, (Merex International Arms) of Savannah, Ga. The Merex address was occupied by Combat Military Ordinances Ltd., controlled by a James P. Atwood.
Atwood, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of U.S.Military Intelligence, (and later a CIA contract worker), stationed in their Berlin office, was involved in major arms trades with CIA-sponsored international buyers, specifically Middle Eastern Arab states.
Among other titles, Atwood became known as the ‘Dagger King’ because of his manufacture and merchandising of a large number of German ceremonial swords and daggers from the Third Reich period.
As a top US Army Intelligence agent and important CIA contract worker and former FBI employee, Atwood ran guns, drugs, counterfeit rare German daggers, stolen archives and much more in and out of various countries from his headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.
Merex systems was founded by Otto Skorzeny’s associate Gerhard Mertins in Bonn after the war and was considered a CIA proprietary firm. Merex was close to and worked with the BND, the German intelligence service evolved from the CIA-controlled Gehlen organization and currently heavily under its control.
Monzer Al-Kassar utilized the Merex firm for some of his weapons transactions with the CIA-controlled international weapons cartel.
Atwood was involved with Interarmco, run by Samuel Cummings, an Englishman who ran the largest arms firm in the world. Sam Cummings got his start working with the CIA to procure weapons for the 1954 coup in Guatemala. Cummings died in Monaco Carlo with a country place at Villars in the Swiss Alps where he resettled in 1960 because he had looted his CIA employers and found European residence safer than Warrenton, Virginia.
Interarms (formerly Interarmco and officially the International Armaments Corporation) was the world’s largest private arms dealer, and once had enough weapons in their warehouses to equip forty U.S. divisions
Also connected with Atwood’s firm were Collector’s Armory, Thomas Nelson Prop, and a George Petersen of Springfield, Virginia, and Emmanuel (Manny) Wiegenberg, a Canadian arms dealer.and look into Atwood’s role in supplying weapons and explosives to the Quebec Libré movement.
Atwood’s activities are linked to the CIA’s Robert Crowley, Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs (who knew him and disliked him), to Jim Critchfield and a number of other CIA luminaries.
Arrested by the Army’s CIC in the early 60s, for misuse of government mail, tax fraud and other matters, Atwood got the CIA to force the charges against him dropped. All the paperwork was supposed to have been destroyed but a copy of the 62 count indictment, plus the Chicago Federal judge’s orders, have survived.
Atwood operated in the Middle East, Germany and Central America. He sold US secrets to Marcus Wolfe of the Stasi and the BND photographed them together in East Berlin
He smuggled guns into Guatemala and Nicaragua and drugs into the US.
Atwood’s role in supplying weapons and explosives to the Quebec Libré movement. The head of the Canada Desk at the Company was actively encouraging this group to split away from Canada. This is a chapter that the CIA does not want discussed. Atwood’s connections with Skorzeny and the IRA/Provo wing make dramatic reading. One of Atwood’s Irish connections is the man who ran the cell that blew up Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979. There is also the shipping of weapons into the southern Mexican provinces by Atwood and his Guatemala based consortium, Oceanic Cargo.
Atwood had a number of ex-Gestapo and SD people on board, some of whom were wanted for war crimes.
Both Schwend and Klaus Barbie formed Transmaritania which was a shipping company that also generated millions of dollars in profits from the cocaine business. They purchased their weapons from another SS colleague, Colonel Otto Skorzeny who had been head of SS Commando units towards the end of the war, later worked for the CIA and had started the Merex weapons business in Bonn after the war. Another Atwood contact was one Walter Rauff, a senior SD officer, friend of Dulles and once head of the SD in Milan (after a tour in Tunisia as head of the SD there during Rommel’s campaign in Africa.)
The Rauff story is even more entertaining than the Barbie one and more disruptive when it becomes public. Rauff worked for the CIA, lived unmolested and well-protected by the CIA, in South America.
While Atwood was involved in supplying weapons to Cuban insurgents for the Bay of Pigs incident, he stated to a number of his associates that he learned of highly classified information on the accidental release, in Florida, of deadly toxins that the CIA was planning to use in advance of the invasion to “soften up” Castro’s militia.
The designated head of the CIA, Porter Goss, was a CIA agent in Florida at this time, was involved in the planning and expected execution of the Cuban invasion and suddenly became “very ill”, as his specs on Google point out, and had to retire. Atwood told his friends that Goss, later a Florida political figure, was a participating party in this specific part of the CIA invasion plans.
The head of the Canada Desk at the Company (CIA) was actively encouraging this group to split away from Canada. This is a chapter that the CIA does not want discussed.
One of Atwood’s Irish connections is the man who blew up Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979 and there was also the shipping of weapons into the southern Mexican provinces by Atwood and his Guatemala based consortium. Atwood had a number of ex-Gestapo and SD people on board, some of whom were wanted. Klaus Barbie was also connected.
Barbie, who was Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, during the war, worked for the CIC after the war and fled to South America when his American handlers tipped him off. Barbie took some of the hidden Nazi gold and invested it in several businesses and also continued to prosper by starting the Estrella Company which sold bark, coca paste, and assault weapons to a former SS officer, Frederich Schwend in Lima, Peru. Schwend had been trained by the OSS in the early 1940s after he had informed Allen Dulles that the German SS had hidden millions in gold, cash, and loot as the European war was winding down.
Both Schwend and Barbie formed Transmaritania which was a shipping company that also generated millions of dollars in profits from the cocaine business. They purchased their weapons from another SS colleague, Colonel Otto Skorzeny who had been head of SS Commando units towards the end of the war, later worked for the CIA and had started the Merex weapons business in Bonn after the war. Also a person to consider is one Walter Rauff, a senior SD officer, friend of Dulles and once head of the SD in Milan (after a tour in Tunesia as head of the SD there during Rommel’s campaign in Africa.)
The Rauff story is even more entertaining than the Barbie one and more disruptive.
Rauff and the notorious Mengele worked for the CIA.
In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was considerable concern expressed in US intelligence circles about the whereabouts, and also the security of, certain ex-Soviet military tactical atomic warheads. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union launched R&D to miniaturize and improve reliability of nuclear weapons. Development activities included strategic systems for the Navy; cruise missiles, aviation bombs and artillery projectiles [the smallest nuclear charge was developed for a 152mm artillery projectile]
The model is based on unclassified data on the components in an atomic artillery shell, to see if such a system could be reassembled in a suitcase. Indeed, as it turns out, the physics package, neutron generators, batteries, arming mechanism and other essentials of a small atomic weapon can fit, just barely, in an attaché case. The result is a plutonium-fueled gun-type atomic weapon having a yield of one-to-ten kilotons, the same yield range attributed in a 1998 US media interview by General Lebed to the Russian “nuclear suitcase” weapon.”
The smallest possible bomb-like object would be a single critical mass of plutonium (or U-233) at maximum density under normal conditions. An unreflected spherical alpha-phase critical mass of Pu-239 weighs 10.5 kg and is 10.1 cm across.
In 1992, following a successful treasure hunt in Austria, where he and author Gregory Douglas located and dug up a small fortune in gold and silver coins buried in the last weeks of the war by SS General Odilo Globocnik, James Atwood, the former Interarmco people and an Israeli Russian named Yurenko (actually Schemiel Gofshstein) formed a consortium in conjunction with James Critchfield, retired senior CIA specialist on oil matters in the Mideast to obtain a number of these obsolete but still viable weapons.
Both Critchfield and the Interarmco people had, at the behest of the CIA, supplied weapons to the rebels in Afghanistan during their protracted struggle with the Soviet Union. Critchfield worked with the Dalai Lama of Tibet in a guerrilla war against Communist China and headed a CIA task force during the Cuban missile crisis. He also ran regional agency operations when the two superpowers raced to secure satellites first in Eastern Europe, then in the Middle East.
In the early 1960s, Critchfield recommended to the CIA that the United States support the Baath Party, which staged a 1963 coup against the Iraqi government that the CIA believed was falling under Soviet influence. Critchfield later boasted, during the Iran-Iraq war that he and the CIA “had created Saddam Hussein.” With the growing political importance of Middle East oil, he became the CIA’s national intelligence officer for energy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, then an energy policy planner at the White House.
He also fronted a dummy CIA corporation in the Middle East known as Basic Resources, which was used to gather OPEC-related intelligence for the Nixon administration. .
Critchfield was the chief of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division in the 1960s and a national intelligence officer for energy as the oil shortage crisis began in the early 1970s.
Officially retiring from the CIA in 1974, Critchfield became a consultant, corporate president of Tetra Tech International, a Honeywell Inc. subsidiary and which managed oil, gas, and water projects in the strategic Masandam Peninsula.
It sits on the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the West’s oil is transported. At the same time, Critchfield was a primary adviser to the Sultan of Oman, focusing on Middle East energy resources, especially those in Oman.
Since at least 1981, a worldwide network of independent [i.e., no direct U.S. government ties] companies, including airlines, aviation and military spare parts suppliers, and trading companies, has been utilized by the CIA and the U.S. government to illegally ship arms and military spare parts to Iran and to the Contras.
These companies were set up with the approval and knowledge of senior CIA officials and other senior U.S. government officials and staffed primarily by ex-CIA, ex-FBI and ex-military officers.
CIA-controlled companies include Aero Systems, Inc., of Miami, Arrow Air, Aero Systems Pvt. Ltd of Singapore, Hierax of Hong Kong, Pan Aviation in Miami, Merex in Georgia, Sur International, St. Lucia Airways, Global International Airways, International Air Tours of Nigeria, Continental Shelf Explorations, Inc., Jupiter, Florida, Varicon, Inc., Dane Aviation Supply of Miami, Parvus, Safir, International Trading and Investment Guaranty Corp., Ltd., and Information Security International Inc., Zenith Technical Enterprises, Ltd., Mineral Carriers, Ltd. Air America, CAA, and Information Security International Inc.,Air Asia Co., Ltd., Arrow Air, Civil Air Transport (CAT) , Dane Aviation Supply, Intermountain Aviation, SODIMAC Southern Air Transport
And they control another three hundred committees, ‘institutes’, media entities and other ventures.
Atwood had a bad habit of talking entirely too much while drinking and when his interesting conversations, filled with unwelcome detail, got to the ears of senior CIA officials, poor Atwood had a sudden”brain embolism” while lunching with two CIA friends and fell face-down into his salad.
Sic transit Gloria mundi!

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 31

Autumn was stirring, the nights were getting longer and the leaves were just beginning to change when they began buying furniture in Duluth. What wasn’t readily available there could be found a hundred and fifty miles to the south in Minneapolis.
There was still some furniture left in the house including an elaborately carved dining room set and an equally ornate bedroom suite in the master bedroom but the rest of the house was bare.
Over a three day stay in Minneapolis, Chuck bought enough furniture, carpets and appliances to fill the other empty rooms, ordered special curtains, bought china, silverware, appliances, light bulbs, toilet paper, towels and bathroom furnishings, mattresses, sheets, electric blankets, down comforters, kitchenware including expensive sets of copper and ceramic cooking ware, a floor polisher for the oak floors, a washer and a dryer, two vacuum cleaners, garden equipment, lawn chairs and tables, a hot tub, an expensive snowmobile, expensive winter clothing, boxes of candles, oil lanterns and an ATV that could probably take them to the top of Mt.Everest.
It occurred to him that he was now becoming like Art and Estelle in his acquisition of material trivia and the thought of what he had destroyed in the past gave him considerable wry amusement in the present.
He also bought supplies for the garage including wrenches, gas cans, woodworking tools, fire irons for the eight fireplaces, screens, wood baskets, fire tools, snow shovels and a large snow blower.
All told, he spent about half of the money he and Lars had gathered in by entirely devious and certainly felonious means but he considered it money well spent. There was more than enough left over to take care of the household for at least two or three years and what happened after that was not necessary to contemplate immediately.
The final purchase was a Steinway piano, bench and music stand.
Given the erratic nature of deliveries, they had to camp out at the new house for a week, using sleeping bags, Coleman lanterns and a barbecue kettle until their purchases began to trickle in.
Eventually, all the carpets had been laid, the bedrooms completed, drapes installed and the boxes of appliances opened and their contents carefully packed away in drawers, in closets and in the garage. There was a problem with the piano which was far too large to fit into the library and which ended up at the northern end of the entrance hall. The ATV had faulty spark plugs and Chuck had to replace these and it took a good day’s work to clean the hard water stains from the bathroom fixtures. Then there was the wait for the fuel oil truck that got lost en route and a good deal of time consumed in washing windows and waxing the floors but finally, one day before their lease expired on the apartment in Duluth, they were ready to formally take possession of the Viking palace, built with the proceeds of china urinals.
From an excellent gallery in Duluth, he bought and had specially framed enough prints to brighten the walls. He allowed Lars to pick out several pre-teen subjects, explaining to the gallery owner that Lars loved children. How he loved them was not discussed. Gwen decided that she liked Monet, which Chuck felt was a hopeful sign. After all, she might have chosen clowns, kittens, Kinkade, Painter of Light, or Norman Rockwell.
The final touch was the installation of a razor wire-topped chain link fence and an electric gate surrounding the main house by a Duluth firm that was rescued from immanent bankruptcy by the sudden largess.
They drove up to the gate and Chuck pushed a button, the gate slid open and then closed behind them as they approached the garage. Another button and the door opened for them.
They all stood in the courtyard, looking up at the house, windows fiery in the late afternoon sun. The air was sharp and smelt of pine, reminding Gwen of the California Sierras.
“Well, kiddies, here we are at last. Just in time to watch the sun go down from the balcony and then a nice dinner of roast venison with cranberry dressing and all of the side dishes. The wine cellar is going to be full one of these days and I expect we will be too by the time we are ready for bed. Shall we go inside? Gwen, since we’re supposed to be married, can I carry you in?”
“You’ll bust something, Chuck.”
And he scooped her up, both of them laughing as Lars opened the heavy oak front door.

The sunset was drawn out and magnificent but before the bright reds had faded to shades of pink and indigo, Chuck had gone into the kitchen and begun work on the dinner.
Gwen watched the vanishing sun and thought of the desert sunsets she had watched as a child living in dirty trailers with dope-dealing parents. She had never lived in a real house or had real friends before and she was absolutely certain that she would wake up to hear her grunting parents making love in the neighboring thin-walled room.
Lars was not interested in the sunset and was wondering how soon he could get his mother come by to visit with him and be astonished by the opulence of his new home. His father had always told him that he would never amount to anything but his father was dead and Lars had his own room, a nice VCR and a closet full of family fun tapes. The darkening tops of the pine trees below the balcony held no interest for him and he went back inside.
There was a settling-in period that lasted several weeks. One learned not to flush a toilet when someone else was taking a shower. The dampers in the fireplaces needed to be kept closed when not in use to keep the heat in and bats out. Trips to town were limited to one a week and were usually spent buying perishable foods such as lettuce, milk, eggs, butter and bread. Eric had received a short note from his mother indicating that she would try to visit with him within the month but aside from occupant advertisement, the only other mail in the box was a bread and butter note from the real estate agent and a number of newspapers.
Chuck had made an arrangement with the owner of the local store to save copies of the Minneapolis paper and he subscribed to the mail edition of the New York Times.
He had little interest in local news and whenever he returned from a trip into town, he spent the next hour going through his collection of papers. Rolled up tightly, they made excellent kindling for the oak log fires he laid every morning. He was not interested in what was happening in Washington but he read to see if any of his past crimes and misdemeanors were receiving unwelcome notice and most especially, he wanted to keep up with the doings of his uncle.
There was central heating but something had died in one of heating ducts and the first attempt to use the basement furnace left the house smelling like a charnel house. The fireplaces gave off enough heat and Chuck reasoned that with time, the rotting wildlife would desiccate to something less pungent
They stopped using the outside hot tub in late October because it was getting too cold to walk around outside after a soak in the hot water. Chuck and Lars drained it and put on the winter cover. From then on, until spring, the only soaking would be done in the large green marble bathtubs inside.
Lars’ mother had been called several times by the nice gentleman from the magazine regarding her son’s whereabouts and she said that when she visited him later that month, she would tell the gentlemen exactly how to visit her son and give him his check.
The leaves had turned and fallen and the nights were getting much colder when they had their first snow. Chuck stood on the balcony that fronted his rooms and watched the fat flakes drifting down. Staring at them had an almost hypnotic effect and when he came back inside, his head and shoulders were covered with rapidly melting snow.
The wood room that had access both to the outside and the hall next to the kitchen was filled to the ceiling with dried, split oak logs. Pine was much cheaper but burned far too quickly and left thick, inflammable, deposits in the chimneys.

(Continued)

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