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TBR News December 22, 2017

Dec 22 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., December 22, 2017:”A Christmas Letter.

Christmas With Louise

As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.

What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don’t sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go. You’ll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, “What does this do?” “You’re kidding me!” “Who would buy that?” Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.

I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.

Finding what I wanted was difficult. “Love Dolls” come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d never heard of. I settled for “Lovable Louise.” She was at the bottom of the price scale.

To call Louise a “doll” took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.

My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise’s pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. “What in the hell is that?” she asked.

My brother quickly explained, “It’s a doll.”

“Who would play with something like that?” Granny snapped.

I kept my mouth shut.

“Where are her clothes?” Granny continued.

“Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran,” Jay said, to steer her into dining room.

But Granny was relentless. “Why doesn’t she have any teeth?”

Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, “Hang on Granny, hang on!”

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said,

” Hey, who’s the naked gal by the fireplace?”

I told him she was Jay’s friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the mantel, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother’s garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise’s collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.

Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

I can’t wait until next Christmas.”

 

Table of Contents

  • Homeless at Christmas: ‘The kids believe Santa’s coming, just not by the chimney’
  • Puerto Rico Homeowners Brace for Another Disaster: Foreclosures
  • Spain’s Rajoy rules out national election after Catalonia upset
  • Bitcoin plunges by 40% after record high of $20,000
  • Bitcoin plunges below $12,000, heads for worst week since 2013
  • The Swedish co-founder of Bitcoin.com has sold all his bitcoins
  • Amtrak engineer remarked on train speed 6 seconds before crash: NTSB
  • Alabama to certify Democrat Jones winner of Senate election
  • Origin of the Cro-Magnon people: Anatomically modern humans
  • What really happened to Adolf Hitler?

 

Homeless at Christmas: ‘The kids believe Santa’s coming, just not by the chimney’

The festive spirit can be in short supply on the streets but many who find themselves homeless still go out of their way to make it a special time

December 22, 2017

by Candice Pires

The Guardian

Brandie Osborne, 44, Seattle

In seven years of being homeless, I’ve never had my own Christmas tree. Before I got this one I’d been saying to my boyfriend, “It sucks, I just don’t feel in the holiday spirit.” I grew up with my grandparents and everything was always decorated to the nines. Our tree looked like Martha Stewart’s, a real showpiece. My daughter was brought up the same way, with lots of presents and a big Christmas dinner.

I haven’t had any of that stuff for a long time. I became homeless because my fiance at the time got injured at work and we didn’t have any savings. Slowly but surely we couldn’t pay our bills and everything concaved on us. I sent my daughter to live with a friend of the family, but my fiance and I ended up living in our car before it got repossessed. I actually had a lot of sentimental Christmas ornaments handed down but could no longer afford storage and lost them along with most of my belongings.

This Christmas I just really wanted something to make me feel good and make other people smile. Then the other day I was walking back from the laundromat with a neighbor, pushing my grocery cart full of clothes, and I saw this tree leaning up against a building with a big sign that said, “Free live tree”. I straightaway picked it up, put it over my shoulders and carried it home.

 

Puerto Rico Homeowners Brace for Another Disaster: Foreclosures

December 22 2017

by David Dayen

The Intercept

Lenders to Puerto Rican homeowners have kicked foreclosures into high gear in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, skirting local and federal borrower protections. According to attorneys and experts, lenders have ignored federal moratoria on foreclosures; placed notices of default in newspapers where they’re unlikely to be seen; sent files to homeowners in English rather than Spanish; and required residents to complete tasks that are borderline impossible without electrical power yet fully restored, among other abuses.

The foreclosure horrors add to Puerto Rico’s Dickensian experience of late. Close to 35 percent of the island remains without power after Hurricane Maria, with full restoration not expected until May. At least 100,000 people have left the island. Abandoned pets are everywhere. Government services have been slashed or hobbled. Even one major proposed solution, wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt, will take a personal cost: The bonds represent the life savings of many residents to whom the financial products were aggressively marketed without explanation of the downsides.

Ultimately, the expected wave of foreclosures could prove worse than what happened in the most hard-hit areas in the U.S. mainland during the Great Recession. According to the New York Times, roughly one-third of 425,000 Puerto Rican homeowners have fallen behind on mortgage payments, and with jobs scarce after the hurricane, that number will likely grow. In fact, the economy of the island could collapse, as the Republican tax bill imposes a 20 percent tax on offshore exports — a category that includes Puerto Rican manufacturing.

But if you think America learned lessons from the orgy of illegality that accompanied foreclosures in the United States after 2008, just look to Puerto Rico. Despite new rules to prevent foreclosure fraud, Puerto Rico appears to be Exhibit A in its continuation — and it’s only just beginning.

Foreclosures ravaged Puerto Rico even before Maria, up 130 percent in 2016 relative to a decade before. Adding two hurricanes to the equation makes the island’s residents ripe for a gargantuan ripoff.

The foreclosure process in Puerto Rico resembles the judicial foreclosure process on the mainland. Lenders must follow federal guidelines on notifying borrowers of default and giving them an opportunity to cure debt. Then lenders can file a lawsuit for foreclosure. Judges are obligated to impose mandatory mediation, bringing borrowers and lenders to the table to work out a resolution. Only if that doesn’t work can lenders obtain a judgment and evict the homeowner.

However, what sound like substantive protections for the borrower often don’t play out that way. “Many times they don’t know about their rights,” said Veronica Rivera, a coordinator for Derecho a tu Casa or Right to Your House — a coalition of legal aid groups providing information and assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure. “They think that the bank would understand that they can’t pay because they lost their jobs. It surprises me sometimes how much trust people have in the banks.”

For example, after Hurricane Maria, the federal government imposed a foreclosure moratorium on homes either backed by government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or those with Federal Housing Administration insurance. The FHA moratorium was recently extended to March 19, 2018, but it only applies to a sliver of loans. The Fannie and Freddie moratoria were set to expire on December 31, but the lenders this week made an extension until March 31. Banks and mortgage investors voluntarily offered three months of relief from payments, but homeowners had to call their lender to trigger it. “The banks said you have to call,” said Rivera. “We didn’t have internet for more than a month, didn’t have electricity, no communication. Many didn’t know.”

Indeed, a report from the public interest firm Hedge Clippers shows that one company, Roosevelt Cayman Asset Co., has 289 active foreclosure cases in federal court and another 56 in local Puerto Rican courts. Federal courts, typically not a venue for foreclosure cases, are seen as faster than local courts, so offshore companies like Roosevelt lean heavily on them.

Even after the hurricane, Roosevelt has filed motions for default judgment or eviction in the cases. The Intercept has reviewed lists of dozens of these motions. For example, Roosevelt filed a motion for eviction of Ernesto Santiago-Guzman and his family on October 11, three weeks after Maria hit, and a motion for default judgment against Elias Rivera-Rivera on October 12. U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpí denied that request because the case was only initiated a month before the hurricanes, “which trashed the entire island of Puerto Rico.” The judge postponed the case until March.

Other judges have not been so kind. Docket entries show that Roosevelt secured a default judgment against Carlos Gonzalez-Luna’s property on October 23.

Many of the loans Roosevelt acted on were purchased in a fire sale from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after the 2015 failure of Doral Bank, a lender with a large portfolio of Puerto Rican mortgages. These loans were severely delinquent, some over two years. Federally insured distressed mortgages in Puerto Rico have become an appetizing target for Wall Street land speculators seeking to make a quick buck and turn Puerto Rico into a playground for the rich.

An unidentified Puerto Rico homeowner submitted a comment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s consumer complaint database, claiming that Roosevelt is “not flexible and expressed that they just want to acquire the home to build their house portfolio.”

Critics allege Roosevelt uses sleazy tactics to get default judgments. “Since the hurricane, they’ve sought to use service by publication, publishing names in the newspaper to serve the lawsuits. Who’s reading the newspaper these days?” asked Jim Baker, founder of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, who helped with the Hedge Clippers report. “Then they ask for default judgment because they served papers and the homeowners haven’t responded. In most cases, they’re getting [the judgment],” he added, referring to Roosevelt.

Roosevelt is an affiliate of Rushmore Loan Management Services, which in turn services loans owned by private equity giant TPG Capital, managers of $73 billion in assets. While TPG spokesperson Patrick Clifford claims only a client relationship between Rushmore and TPG, Rushmore’s principal owners are senior TPG executives. A June 2017 report lists Rushmore as the second-largest repossessor on the island, behind only Banco Popular, Puerto Rico’s main bank.

(A new TPG “impact investing” fund includes on its board Pierre Omidyar, founder of First Look Media, The Intercept’s parent company.)

Activist groups held protests outside TPG headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday, calling for an end to foreclosures on the island. Related demonstrations were held in eight cities around the world. “This is the first of many companies hurting the people of Puerto Rico and it will be one of many we will be scrutinizing,” said Julio López Varona, a spokesperson for Hedge Clippers, in a statement. “We have asked TPG and Rushmore directly to stop their foreclosures and we will continue to target them until they stop harming Puerto Ricans.”

This appears to have made an impact. Rushmore claims to have “instituted an immediate suspension of foreclosure proceedings in Puerto Rico,” per spokesperson Steven Goldberg, including stopping notice by publication. The length of the freeze is indefinite.

“Rushmore pursues loan modification or other alternatives to foreclosure first in all cases and remains fully committed to working to keep as many borrowers as possible in their homes,” Goldberg said, “especially in light of the extremely challenging circumstances caused by the hurricane.” He said the company has conducted “extensive outreach efforts” to contact borrowers, given communication problems on the island. Goldberg even provided the number to Rushmore’s Puerto Rico office, (877) 509-8389, and its Spanish and English websites, urging borrowers to contact them to seek a resolution to their situations.

TPG’s Clifford added, “We’ve been in constructive dialogue with various advocacy groups, and we plan to continue having those conversations because they are important.”

Even if homeowners were lucky or savvy enough to fall under the foreclosure moratorium, it expires December 31 for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by March for FHA-insured loans. Many have called for those to be extended, but no decision has been made.

The voluntary payment moratoria also expire by January. In an opinion piece for Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia, Ricardo J. Ramos González, who runs the Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Law, warned residents that the payment moratorium merely comprised forbearance, not a cancellation of payments. “Those who accepted the moratorium on payments, could very well face a process of collection and eventual foreclosure of their main home, if they are required to pay three months plus the current term,” González wrote. He endorsed a yearlong moratorium on foreclosures, similar to those instituted in some states during the Great Depression.

When foreclosure notices and letters from lenders come in the mail in Puerto Rico, they are typically in English. But many Puerto Ricans only speak Spanish. Unlike in local courts, federal court filings are similarly in English, putting homeowners at a disadvantage.

Rivera of Derecho a tu Casa claims that lenders have been negotiating loss mitigation with borrowers while also pursuing foreclosure, a scheme known as “dual tracking,” which is supposed to be illegal under federal mortgage servicing laws and local law in Puerto Rico. The mediation process has not assisted borrowers more generally. “Lawyers cannot participate in the process unless the client gives us special power,” said Rivera. Worse, lenders send representatives who are not empowered to make decisions, she explained. “It’s a pro forma process,” said Rivera. “The banks do not have to give a specific option.”

Foreclosure lawyers in Puerto Rico are also finding the same discrepancies in foreclosure processing that roiled the United States after the crisis. This is not surprising, since those errors never really stopped in the United States. Rivera alleges that investors who came in and scooped up distressed mortgages didn’t follow property records procedures. “There have been cases where there is no mortgage. They don’t have the note,” Rivera said.

The endgame of aggressively foreclosing on properties in Puerto Rico — where there is little hope of turning them around to make a profit — is unclear. Offshore lenders “made this investment a couple years ago,” said Baker of Private Equity Stakeholder Project. “They’re churning through the portfolio. Maybe they believe the land is worth more than keeping people in the homes.” The insurance payouts also benefit offshore purchasers of distressed mortgages; that alone could turn a profit relative to the small price paid.

Derecho a tu Casa offers resources at its website to educate homeowners and also representation for those who qualify. “Many people get depressed and we want to give them hope,” Rivera said. “I can see the difference when I represent someone.”

Correction: December 22, 2017 at 3:36 p.m.

 An earlier version of this piece stated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s moratoria on foreclosure sales would expire on December 31. The lenders this week extended their moratoria until March 31, 2018.

 

Spain’s Rajoy rules out national election after Catalonia upset

December 22, 2017

Reuters

MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday ruled out calling a national election after Catalan separatists won a regional vote, thwarting his bid to resolve the country’s biggest political crisis in decades.

Rajoy had gambled on unionist parties taking control of Catalonia’s regional government, which he sacked in October for illegally pursuing independence from Spain.

Rajoy, speaking at a news conference, said he would make an effort to hold talks with the new Catalan government.

However, he did not clarify whether he would be willing to meet deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels and whose party retained its position as the largest separatist force.

Reporting by Paul Day; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Ingrid Melander

 

 

Bitcoin plunges by 40% after record high of $20,000

December 22, 2017

RT

The price of bitcoin fell to less than $12,000 on Friday, according to CoinDesk.com. That makes an 27-percent drop since its previous slide, and more than 40 percent since it reached the historic $20,000 mark last week.

The cryptocurrency has experienced its second major drop in just days. Rival bitcoin cash has also fallen, plunging to $2,536 per coin, following its rapid climb of more than 50 percent to almost $4,330 per token on December 20.

Bitcoin managed to recover some of its losses within several hours, but fell below $12,000 once again by 14:34 GMT.

Emil Oldenburg, the co-founder of Bitcoin.com – one of the world’s largest sites devoted to the cryptocurrency – recently called the cryptocurrency the “most risky investment you can make,” after he switched to bitcoin cash, which he considers to be the future.

“The old bitcoin network is as good as unusable,” said in an interview with Swedish tech site Breakit.

Despite the declines on Thursday and Friday, the five largest virtual currencies by market capitalization have seen a remarkable rise this year.

– The original bitcoin is up 1,300 percent since January 1.

– The second most valuable cryptocurrency – ethereum – has gained 8,000 percent.

– Ripple is the biggest mover among the top five, with gains of over 16,000 percent this year.

– Since splitting from the original in August, bitcoin cash has gained 600 percent.

– Rounding out the top 5, litecoin has seen an increase of over 5,000 percent.

Over the last 24 hours, cryptocurrencies have lost over $175 billion in market capitalization. Prior to the crash on Thursday, the digital money market was worth $650 billion. After the bloodbath – $474 billion.

Only six out of the top 100 cryptocurrencies listed on the CoinMarketCap website were trading in positive territory as of 8:00 GMT on Friday.

 

Bitcoin plunges below $12,000, heads for worst week since 2013

December 21, 2017

by Jemima Kelly and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

Reuters

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin plunged by a quarter to below $12,000 on Friday as investors dumped the cryptocurrency in manic trading after its blistering ascent to a peak close to $20,000 prompted warnings by experts of a bubble.

It capped a brutal week that had been touted as a new era of mainstream trading for the volatile digital currency when bitcoin futures debuted on CME Group Inc (CME.O), the world’s largest derivatives market on Sunday.

Friday’s steep fall bled into the U.S. stock market, where shares of companies that have recently lashed their fortunes to bitcoin or blockchain – its underlying technology – took a hard knock in early trading.

The biggest and best-known cryptocurrency had seen a staggering twentyfold increase since the start of the year, climbing from less than $1,000 to as high as $19,666 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange BTC=BTSP on Sunday and to over $20,000 on other exchanges.

Bitcoin has fallen each day since, with losses accelerating on Friday.

In the futures market, bitcoin one-month futures <0#XBT:> on Cboe Global Markets were halted due to the steep price drop, while those trading on the CME BTCF8 hit the limit down threshold.

In the spot market, bitcoin fell to as low as $11,159, down more than 25 percent on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange BTC=BTSP, its largest one-day drop in nearly three years. For the week, it was down around a third – its worst performance since April 2013.

“After its parabolic-like rally, a crash was imminent and so it has proved,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com in London. “Investors may have also been put off buying bitcoin at those elevated levels amid repeated warnings from experts about the way it had climbed near $20,000.”

“A manic upward swing led by the herd will be followed by a downturn as the emotional sentiment changes,” said Charles Hayter, founder and chief executive of industry website Cryptocompare in London. “A lot of traders have been waiting for this large correction.”

“With the end of the year in sight a lot of investors will be taking profits and saying thank you very much and closing their books for the holiday period,” he added.

Warnings about the risks of investing in the unregulated market have increased – Denmark’s central bank governor called it a “deadly” gamble – and there have been worries about the security of exchanges on which cryptocurrencies are bought and sold.

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit said on Tuesday it is shutting down and is filing for bankruptcy after it was hacked for the second time this year.

Coinbase, a U.S. company that runs one of the biggest exchanges and provides digital “wallets” for storing bitcoins, said on Wednesday it would investigate accusations of insider trading, following a sharp increase in the price of a bitcoin spin-off hours before it announced support for it.

CRYPTO-RIVALS

As rival cryptocurrencies slid along with bitcoin, the total estimated value of the crypto market fell to as low as $440 billion, according to industry website Coinmarketcap, having neared $650 billion just a day earlier.

But other cryptocurrencies surged this week, with investors moving into cheaper digital coins, rather than cashing out of the sector.

Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market size, soared to almost $900 earlier in the week, from around $500 a week earlier. Ripple, the third-biggest, has more than quadrupled in price since Monday.

Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for retail FX broker Oanda in Singapore, said that there have also been moves out of bitcoin into Bitcoin Cash, a clone of the original cryptocurrency. Oanda does not handle trading in bitcoin.

“Most of it is unsophisticated retail traders getting burned badly,” Innes said on bitcoin’s recent retreat

While some say the launch by CME and its rival Cboe Global Markets of bitcoin futures over the last two weeks has given the digital currency some perceived legitimacy, many policymakers remain sceptical.

Bitcoin is known to go through wild swings. In November, it tumbled almost 30 percent in four days from $7,888 to $5,555. In September, it fell 40 percent from $4,979 to $2,972.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York and Jemima Kelly in London; Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Keith Weir and Susan Thomas

 

The Swedish co-founder of Bitcoin.com has sold all his bitcoins

December 18, 2017

by Tom Turula

DTOM

  • Bitcoin is “virtually useless” and has no future as a tradeable currency says Emil Oldenburg, the co-founder and CTO of bitcoin.com, one of the world’s largest bitcoin websites.
  • Oldenburg has sold his bitcoins and believes others will do the same when they realize how illiquid the market is.
  • He says bitcoin’s drawbacks are high fees and transaction lead times – a heated topic of discussion in the community today – and resistance to change from people running the old bitcoin network.

Oldenburg believes there’s a brighter future for Bitcoin Cash, a spinoff currency of bitcoin that is now being actively promoted by bitcoin.com.

Bitcoin.com is one of the world’s largest bitcoin sites, having grown its profile this year thanks to the remarkable price surge of the cryptocurrency. But its cofounder and CTO, Emil Oldenburg, a Swedish native, is extremely skeptical when it comes to bitcoin’s future.

”I would say an investment in bitcoin is right now the riskiest investment you can make. There’s an extremely high risk,” he says in an interview with Swedish tech site Breakit.

Although Oldenburg is far from the first to criticize bitcoin’s viability as an investment, his position as an insider does stand out – even as he migrates to its spin-out, bitcoin cash (BCH), a so called “hard fork” of bitcoin, which was launched in August and recently overtook Ethereum as the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency.

“I have in fact sold all my bitcoins recently and switched to bitcoin cash,” Oldenburg says. Bitcoin Cash has also gained the strong support of Oldenburg’s co-founder, Roger Ver.

Oldenburg’s big problem with bitcoin is high transaction costs and lead times. Indeed, by some counts, bitcoin transaction fees are doubling every three months, and it now takes on average 4,5 hours to confirm a bitcoin transaction. Ars Technica reported that fees reached $26 per trade recently.

“When people realize how bitcoin works, they will start to sell”

While buying, selling or trading bitcoin is not an issue today, Oldenburg says, problems surface when bitcoin transactions are recorded on the blockchain, the digital ledger that records each transaction.

There’s only a limited amount of transactions per second you can make in the bitcoin network, which largely depends on the “block size” memory units – 1Mb in bitcoin’s case – that store the transactions on the blockchain. This bottleneck makes for a highly risky and illiquid cryptocurrency, Oldenburg says, adding that “the old bitcoin network is virtually useless.”

Oldenburg goes on to say that many bitcoin investors haven’t understood these risks because they have only been buying the cryptocurrency – but never sold or traded them.

“As soon as people realize that this is how it works, they will start to sell,” he says to Breakit.

Even though these “up to 12-hour transaction lead times” (when moving bitcoin to and from exchanges) could be adressed, Oldenburg sees no signs of change, because the currency is purportedly being run by the ”old” bitcoin network, the members of which he calls “fanatical bitcoin talibans”.

”[They] want things this way. They see bitcoin as a digital gold and a technical experiment, as opposed to something you can actually use.”

“Bitcoin Cash is the future”

In a move that could be considered ironic, Oldenburg says bitcoin.com is distancing itself from bitcoin (BTC) and has even stopped developing services around it – to mostly focus on bitcoin cash (BCH).

“It only costs $0,012 [BI Nordic: 10 Swedish “öre”, the centesimal subdivision of krona] to send a [Bitcoin Cash transaction] and there are no lead times. The only drawback is that you need larger hard drives, but that’s not a problem for most people,” Oldenburg says to Breakit.

Oldenburg says the bigger “block size” limit of Bitcoin Cash, currently at 8Mb – as opposed to bitcoin’s 1Mb – leads to lower transaction fees and a safer, more liquid investment.

All in all, he doesn’t believe bitcoin will be the currency for everyday use the world has been hoping for.

“Not as long as the network is run by this group of people [in the old bitcoin network]. The solutions will be found in bitcoin cash, that’s where I see a future.”

Based out of Tokyo but registered on S:t Kitts, bitcoin.com has tens of millions of unique monthly visitors, according to Similarweb, a web analytics site.

Bitcoin.com – not to be confused with the non-revenue making bitcoin.org – was founded in 2015 by bitcoin investor Roger Ver, and provides a range of services related to bitcoins, including a bitcoin casino, news services and its so called bitcoin “mining pool” – the site’s biggest single source of revenue – where it forges new units of the cryptocurrency to be released for trading.

That said, the company has a heavy vested interest in the cryptocurrency markets, with Roger Ver taking an open stance for the new Bitcoin Cash and against “Bitcoin Core” (i.e., BTC) for reasons similar to Oldenburg’s.

Oldenburg doesn’t want to talk about bitcoin.com revenues or to what extent they depend on trades in BCH versus BTC, but he reveals to Breakit the company makes “an awful lot of money”.

As do its employees. Seeing that bitcoin.com pays its employees’ salaries in bitcoin, many have struck gold on this year’s price surge, Oldenburg says.

 

Amtrak engineer remarked on train speed 6 seconds before crash: NTSB

December 22, 2017

Reuters

The engineer of an Amtrak passenger train that derailed off a bridge onto a highway near Seattle remarked that the train was speeding six seconds before the accident, U.S. investigators said on Friday.

The engineer then applied the brakes but apparently not the emergency brake, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a statement after retrieving and reviewing data from the so-called black box and inward- and outward-facing cameras.

Monday’s crash south of Seattle killed three people and sent about 100 others to the hospital. All 12 cars and one of the two engines jumped the tracks at a curve, sending all of them tumbling from a bridge onto an interstate highway.

The board has said the train was going about 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour), way over the 30-mph speed limit. On Friday it said the final recorded speed of the locomotive was 78 mph.

The train’s video cameras were damaged in the crash but investigators were able to download the contents with the manufacturer’s help at the NTSB lab in Washington, the board said in a statement.

“About six seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition,” the board said.

“The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode,” the board said.

The NTSB statement made no comment about whether the engineer was inattentive or realized the train’s speed too late to avoid the accident.

The cameras did not show the crew using any personal electronic devices, the board said. Such use is of interest since a Southern California Metrolink commuter train crashed into a freight train in 2008, killing 25 people and injuring 111 others. The board determined the engineer was distracted by text messaging.

The recording of Monday’s crash ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact, the board said. A preliminary report on the crash will be available within the coming days and the entire investigation is expected to take one to two years, the board said.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

 

Alabama to certify Democrat Jones winner of Senate election

December 22, 2017

Reuters

– Democrat Doug Jones’ surprise victory over Republican Roy Moore in this month’s special U.S. Senate election will be certified on Dec. 28, Alabama state officials said on Friday.

Jones will be the first Democrat sent to the Senate from Republican stronghold Alabama in a quarter century. When he takes office, Republicans’ majority in the chamber will narrow to 51 of the 100 seats.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill will meet to certify Jones’ win, Merrill’s office said in a statement. Jones’ margin of victory was 1.5 percentage points.

Moore has not conceded defeat in the Dec. 12 vote, despite being urged by President Donald Trump to do so. Calls and emails to Moore’s campaign spokeswomen were not immediately returned on Friday.

Moore was a controversial candidate whose campaign was beset by allegations that he sexually assaulted or pursued teenage girls while he was in his 30s. He denied the misconduct allegations, saying they were a result of “dirty politics.”

Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Editing by Nick Zieminski

 

Origin of the Cro-Magnon people: Anatomically modern humans

Anatomically modern humans first emerged in East Africa, some 100 000 to 200 000 years ago. An exodus from Africa over the Arabian Peninsula around 60 000 years ago brought modern humans to Eurasia, with one group rapidly settling coastal areas around the Indian Ocean and one group migrating north to steppes of Central Asia. A mitochondrial DNA sequence of two Cro-Magnons from the Paglicci Cave, Italy, dated to 23 000 and 24 000 years old (Paglicci 52 and 12), identified the mtDNA as Haplogroup N, typical of the latter group.The inland group is the founder of North and East Asians (the “Mongol” people), Caucasoids and large sections of the Middle East and North African population. Migration from the Black Sea area into Europe started some 45 000 years ago, probably along the Danubian corridor. By 20 000 years ago, the whole of Europe was settled.

Genetics

A 2003 sequencing on two Cro-Magnons, 23,000 and 24,000 years old Paglicci 52 and Paglicci 12, mitochondrial DNA, published by an Italo-Spanish research team led by David Caramelli, identified the mtDNA as Haplogroup N. Haplogroup N is found among modern populations of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, and represent the northern branch of the out-of-Africa migration of modern humans. Its descendant haplogroups are found among modern North African, Eurasian, Polynesian and Native American populations.

Cro-Magnon were anatomically modern, straight limbed and tall compared to the contemporary Neanderthals. They are thought to have been 166 to 171 cm (about 5’5″ to 5’7″) tall. They also differ from modern day humans in having a more robust physique and a slightly larger cranial capacity. The Cro-Magnons had long, fairly low skulls, with a wide face, a prominent nose and moderate to no prognathism, similar to features seen in modern Europeans.A very distinct trait is the rectangular orbits.

Several works on genetics, blood types and cranial morphology indicate that the Basque people may be part descendents of the original Cro-Magnon population. A 2006 study of Basque DNA has shown a 1% incidence of mtDNA haplogroup U8a dated to the time of Cro-Magnon but noted that the low incidence of this ancestry and recent gene flow from neighbouring populations means the current Basque population cannot be considered reliable examples of the physical characteristics of Cro-Magnon.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis place the early European population as sister group to the Asian (“Mongol”) groups, dating the divergence to some 50 000 years ago. While the skin and hair colour of the Cro-Magnons can at best be guessed at, light skin is known to have evolved independently in both the Asian and European lines, and may have only appeared in the European line as recently as 6000 years ago suggesting Cro-Magnons could have been medium brown to tan-skinned. A small ivory bust of a man found at Dolní Věstonice and dated to 26 000 years indicate the Cro-Magnons had straight hair, though the somewhat later Venus of Brassempouy may show curly hair, or possibly braids.

Markku Niskanen (2002) of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oulu, Finland, claimed the “strong cheekbones” and “flaring zygomatic arches” considered to be evidence that “Finno-Ugrians” are “Mongoloid” are a trait they, in actuality, inherited from “Cro-Magnons”.

In Europe, the first modern humans (Cro-Magnons) would have run into the Neanderthals.

The Grimaldi skeletons from Monaco may have belonged to a different ethnic group

As we have noted, it was formerly thought by paleontologists that Neanderthal morphed into Cro-Magnon, and that Cro-Magnon was the progenitor of human beings as we know them today. However, aside from the problems of the Eve Hypothesis, there are serious problems with the assumptions about when modern human types actually appeared on Earth.

Even if we take the evolving scientific view of the present day, we find that Cro-Magnon man was something altogether different from other anatomically modern humans.

Over and over again we read in scientific studies that Cro-Magnon man was just an “anatomically modern human”.

The experts will say:

“The Cro-Magnons lived in Europe between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. They are virtually identical to modern man, being tall and muscular and slightly more robust than most modern humans.”

Notice how they slip in that “slightly more robust” bit.

The fact is, the Cro-Magnon man was, compared to the other “anatomically modern humans” around him, practically a superman. They were skilled hunters, toolmakers and artists famous for the cave art at places such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira. They had a high cranium, a broad and upright face, and cranial capacity “about the same as modern humans” (can we say larger?), but less than that of Neanderthals. The males were as tall as 6 feet.

They appeared in Europe in the upper Pleistocene, about 40,000 years ago and “their geographic origin is still unknown”.

Their skeletal remains show a “few small differences from modern humans”. Of course, the “out of Africa” theory advocates suggest that Cro-Magnon came from Sub Saharan Africa and a temperate climate and that, “they would eventually adapt to all extremes of heat and cold”. In this way, the “slight differences” between Cro-Magnon and other forms of anatomically modern humans can be explained away as an adaptation to cold.

But, as we will see, this idea doesn’t hold water.

Cro-Magnon’s tools are described as the Aurignacian technology, characterized by bone and antler tools, such as spear tips (the first) and harpoons. They also used animal traps, and bow and arrow. They invented shafts and handles for their knives, securing their blades with bitumen, a kind of tar, as long as 40 thousand years ago. Other improvements included the invention of the atlatl, a large bone or piece of wood with a hooked groove used for adding distance and speed to spears.

They also invented more sophisticated spear points, such as those that detach after striking and cause greater damage to prey.144 The Cro-Magnon type man was also the “originator” of such abstract concepts as “time”. They marked time by lunar phases, recording them with marks on a piece of bone, antler or stone. Some of these “calendars” contained a record of as many as 24 lunations.

In the relatively recent past, tool industries diversified.

The Gravettian industry (25 to 15 thousand years ago), characterized by ivory tools such as backed blades, is associated with mammoth hunters. One type of brief industry was Solutrean, occurring from 18 to 15 thousand years ago and limited to Southwest France and Spain. It is characterized by unique and finely crafted “laurel leaf” blades, made with a pressure technique requiring a great skill.

The industry is associated with horse hunters. The tool industry of the Clovis Culture in North America (11 to 8 thousand years ago) is notable for its remarkable similarity to Solutrean. Some suggest that the Solutrean culture migrated to North America around 12,000 thousand years ago.

Cro-Magnon people lived in tents and other man-made shelters in groups of several families. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers and had elaborate rituals for hunting, birth and death. Multiple burials are common in the areas where they were found. What is most interesting is that from 35 to 10 thousand years ago, there was no differentiation by sex or age in burials.

They included special grave goods, as opposed to everyday, utilitarian objects, suggesting a very increased ritualization of death and burial..

They were the first confirmed to have domesticated animals, starting by about 15 thousand years ago (though ancient sapiens may have domesticated the dog as much as 200 thousand years ago).

They were the first to leave extensive works of art, such as cave paintings and carved figures of animals and pregnant women. Huge caves lavishly decorated with murals depicting animals of the time were at first rejected as fake for being too sophisticated. Then they were dismissed as being primitive, categorized as hunting, fertility or other types of sympathetic magic.

Re-evaluations have put these great works of art in a more prominent place in art history.

They show evidence of motifs, of following their own stylistic tradition, of “impressionist” like style, perspective, and innovative use of the natural relief in the caves. Also possible, considering the new concepts of time reckoning practiced by Cro-Magnon, are abstract representations of the passage of time, such as spring plants in bloom, or pregnant bison that might represent summer.

Aside from pregnant women and other Goddess worship iconography,149 representations of people, “anthropomorphs,” are very few, and never show the accuracy or detail of the other animals. Humans are represented in simple outlines without features, sometimes with “masks”, often without regard to proportion, being distorted and isolated. At the Grottes des Enfants in France are found four burials with red ocher, and associated with Aurignacian tools.

At Lascaux, France, are the famous caves of upper Paleolithic cave art, dated to 17 thousand years ago, and even older, in some cases, by many thousands of years!

 

What really happened to Adolf Hitler?

December 22, 2017

by Christian Jürs

 

Following the end of the war in Europe, numerous and persistent rumors about Hitler’s disappearance were rife in Allied military intelligence circles and, as a matter of course, leaked to the press. In an effort to head off any independent investigation, British military intelligence rushed one of their young agents into the breach. Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, a historical research student at Oxford in 1939, was seconded to MI 6 and put to work evaluating transcripts of German radio intercepts. Trevor-Roper was not fluent in the German language, either written or verbal, and his specialty was 17th century English history. Trevor-Roper’s post-war paper was probably more disruptive to historians than anything since the production of the Donation of Constantine at a point somewhat earlier in time. He claimed that he had conducted “numerous” interviews with former members of Hitler’s staff. But the fact that most of the key personnel such as Otto Günsche, Hitler’s military orderly, Heinz Linge, Hitler’s long-time valet and Hans Baur, Hitler’s chief pilot, were in Soviet custody (where they made documented statements directly opposed to Trevor-Roper’s findings), coupled with Trevor-Roper’s admitted unfamiliarity with the German language, has rendered his book The Last Days of Hitler highly suspect in factual content if not in its well-polished context. As a result of this work, a self-perpetuating series of myths have become well-established in historical circles and Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper automatically became the original source from which an army of subsequent writers copiously copied. He quickly assumed the mantel of the leading expert on the subject of Adolf Hitler and no self-respecting work on the German leader was complete without a skillfully crafted foreword by Trevor-Roper.

In due time, he was made King’s Professor of History at Oxford, and in 1979, raised to the peerage as Lord Dacre of Glanton.

On April 8, 1983, Lord Dacre, the man who believed he had a “patent on Adolf Hitler” flew to Zurich, Switzerland, at the request of newspaper publisher, Rupert Murdoch, to authenticate the now-notorious “Hitler Diaries.” Although possessed of a keen intellect and sharp wit, Trevor-Roper was also blessed with a monumental ego which overrode the basic fact that he was not fluent in German and certainly could not read a word of the old style German script that Hitler wrote.

Following the Zurich visit, which entailed a very cursory examination of unintelligible script, Trevor-Roper returned to England and solemnly announced that “I am now satisfied that the documents are genuine.”  A subsequent thorough investigation by experts of the German National Archives quickly disclosed that the documents were not only not genuine but “crude forgeries” by “someone of limited intelligence.”

It would be a secure assumption, following this debacle, that Trevor-Roper’s “patent on Adolf Hitler” had finally expired.

In the Last Days of Hitler, very heavy emphasis for the suicide/cremation theory is placed on statements and alleged statements from a number of SS personnel, allegedly involved in the last act.

In addition to Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, a member of Hitler’s RSD bodyguard, Hermann Karnau, and another RSD member, Erich Mansfeld, were all alleged to have participated in the removal of Hitler and Eva Braun’s bodies from the bunker and their subsequent cremation in the Chancellery garden. Since Günsche and Linge, along with Hans Baur, the pilot, were in a Soviet prison camp and not available for interview when Trevor-Roper wrote his official report, statements attributed to them should be taken with extraordinary caution, if not skepticism.

Hermann Karnow, stated to be an SS member of the RSD was apparently interviewed by Trevor-Roper and claimed he saw Hitler’s body burning in the garden. Unfortunately, an extensive search by Dr. Marwell, then director of the Berlin Document Center, repository of SS personal records, failed to locate any Hermann Karnow or Erich Mansfeld, or “Skripczy” as Trevor-Roper also calls him. Neither of these men were in either the RSD or the SS.

It would be fair to assume that when the British official report was prepared, the SS personnel files and records were not available and no doubt Trevor-Roper may be excused his gross errors on the grounds that he was unaware that he was interviewing non-existent people.

However, there is no question of the existence of Günsche, Linge and Baur. Since they too are used as direct sources for the Viking funeral theory, let us consider recently disclosed information. In a US CIC document of November 15, 1948 (Throughman report: 0933-034), Günsche stated to the senior Wehrmacht medical officer and commander of all military hospitals in besieged Berlin that “I did not see the dead Führer. Those things were done without us.”

Baur said at the same time that he had not seen the bodies either, and Linge, who is alleged to have assisted in carrying the bodies of Hitler and his wife up the bunker exit stairs said that he “did not see the body of the dead Führer.” The debriefing of these SS members following their return from Soviet imprisonment produced similar but still classified statements.

Insofar as the fate of Hermann Fegelein, whom Trevor-Roper has shot in the Chancellery on Hitler’s orders, a careful inspection of his files now located at Ft. George Meade, Maryland, depicts a somewhat different scenario than the one put forward by Trevor-Roper. According to an official CIC report of September 21, 1945, one Walter Hirschfeld, a Jewish refugee from Vienna and agent for the CIC, was in close contact with Hans Fegelein, Hermann’s father, then resident in Munich. According to the Hirschfeld report, Hermann Fegelein had been in contact with his father after the war and reported that “the Führer and I are safe and well” and that he would try to get in contact with his family if possible.

The Russian version, which appeared over twenty years later, approaches the events from a different perspective.

When Soviet troops occupied the government quarter of Berlin during the first week of May, 1945, an immediate search was made of the Chancellery complex for any traces of Hitler and his top aides.

Much of Speer’s new Chancellery was in ruins; the air raid bunker under the Chancellery garden was partially flooded by the ever-present ground water and the interior showed signs of an attempt to burn the contents by the last SS guards on the scene.

There were numerous bodies strewn about the Chancellery gardens including those of Dr. Goebbels and his wife, both of whom were badly charred. The bodies of General Hans Krebs and the six Goebbels children were found in the bunker itself.

Since the Russians had complete physical control of the Chancellery area and, if Hitler’s body had been discovered, they would have been the sole parties to disclose this. Let us consider the official Soviet pronouncements following their capture of Berlin.

May 3,1945. Pravda: “Hitler not in Berlin.”

May 13, 1945. Pravda: “Moscow has directed the senior officers of the Red Army in Berlin to discuss nothing about the situation in the Führerbunker.”

May 26, 1945. Josef Stalin to Harry Hopkins in Moscow: “In my opinion Hitler is not dead but is hiding somewhere.”

June 6, 1945, Red Army spokesman from Marshal Zhukov’s staff: “Hitler’s body has been found and identified.”

June 9, 1945. Marshal Zhukov, accompanied by Andre Vishinski, Deputy Foreign Minister and General N. Bezarin, Soviet military commandant of Berlin, held a press conference for Western journalists. Zhukov stated that “Hitler’s fate was doubtful” and that “we did not identify the body of Hitler. I can say nothing definite about his fate. He could have flown away from Berlin at the very last moments.” (emphasis added)

To this, General Bezarin added that in his personal opinion, “he has disappeared somewhere in Europe. Perhaps he is in Spain with Franco. He had the possibility of taking off and getting away.” (emphasis added)

June 9, 1945. Red Star military publication stated that “Hitler had committed suicide two days before Berlin surrendered.”

July 17, 1945, Josef Stalin to President Harry Truman and US Secretary of State James Byrnes at the Potsdam Conference, “I believe Hitler is alive. Careful investigation by Soviet investigators has not found any trace of Hitler’s remains or any other positive evidence of his death.”

Following these often contradictory pronouncements, the Soviets lapsed into silence until 1968 when a small book entitled The Death of Adolf Hitler appeared, authored by Lev Bezymenski, a Soviet journalist and KGB official. According to the thesis of this book, the Soviets did, in fact, find the bodies of Adolf Hitler, his wife, his dogs, the Goebbels family and General Krebs. A number of photographs accompanied the official autopsy reports and among the pictures are views of what are purported to be Hitler’s bridgework and teeth, (removed from the body) as well as Eva Braun’s dental bridge and a photograph of Hitler’s favorite German shepherd bitch “Blondi.”

We shall return to these photographs and the views of the author directly but first, a brief discussion of dental forensics is in order.

In establishing the identity of human remains by dental forensics, a number of factors must be taken into account.

Firstly, photographs and X-rays of the teeth and dentition of the deceased must be prepared. Secondly, these photographs and X-rays must be compared with the actual dental records of the deceased, to include (if possible) X-rays of the deceased’s actual teeth and any dental fittings. If these two sets of data are identical, the identity of the deceased should be established to a strong certainty. It should also be stated that a specific chain of control must exist for the evidence to be valid.

An actual corpse must exist and be in a controlled environment such as a morgue or mortuary. The photography and X-rays must be prepared of the body under controlled conditions and the resulting negatives and prints kept in a secure area. Also, the dental records must be original and must also be secured as evidence. The reasons for this should be as evident to the layman as they are to the professionals of law enforcement agencies and insurance companies.

Without proper control exercised over the two sets of records, the opportunity for manipulation is obvious.

On the evening of April 20, 1945, following the parade of dignitaries who paid their respects to Adolf Hitler on the event of his 56th birthday, Hugo-Hannes Blaschke, a General of the Waffen-SS, Senior Dental Officer of that organization, a member of Himmler’s personal staff and Hitler’s long-time dentist, paid a brief and hurried visit to his Reich Chancellery dental office. Here, he quickly assembled and packed into cases his dental equipment and all of the dental records of his prominent patients including Albert Speer, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler. These files were flown out of Berlin later that night along with SS General Dr. Blaschke and a number of other senior officials. The flight landed near Salzburg early the next morning. Blaschke’s entire file case vanished at that time and none of its contents have ever surfaced.

The Führer dentist was subsequently taken into American custody where he claimed he would make an attempt to “reconstruct Hitler’s dentition from memory.” The Soviet investigators probing Hitler’s disappearance tried to locate Blaschke in Berlin so that they might interrogate him under their control. When they were advised that the dentist was in American hands and available for questioning, they abruptly discontinued their search and never made any attempts to contact the dentist. Without dental records, identification of missing Third Reich leaders was severely hampered and a great deal depended on Dr. Blaschke’s cooperation with his American captors.

US CIC interrogation files on Blaschke indicate that he appeared to be cooperative in his attempts to reconstruct Hitler’s dental records but that the results were of little value because the Führer dentist “could do very little without his records which have disappeared and cannot be located even after an extensive search.” Blaschke was eventually released from custody and died in 1957 at the age of seventy-seven without having contributed anything at all to verifying the deaths of a number of his patients. His records and X-rays are still missing.

There exist a number of X-rays which purport to have been taken of Hitler’s head. All of these were said to have been made in 1944 and early 1945 by various doctors treating Hitler for various infections of his sinuses and tonsils, following the July 20 attempt on his life. The published records of Dr. Theo Morell, Hitler’s chief doctor indicate that X-rays were taken at the Karlshof military hospital in Rastenberg, the location of Hitler’s headquarters. These films were made at the request of Dr. von Eicken, a specialist called in to treat an infected sinus. Two X-rays were taken of Hitler’s head on October 21, 1944, but proved to be “too meager” for diagnosis. Several other X-rays were taken, also at Karlshof on November 18, 1944, shortly before Hitler left the Wolfsschanze  for the last time. Other X-rays were produced for Dr. Geising and were said to have been taken in Berlin in early 1945.

The US National Archives has copies of these X-rays, none of which have the standard German military medical information on the developed films. At least one X-ray has the date “21. Oct. 44” scratched on it whereas the proper German date would be “21.Okt.44.” The date on the negative is standard US military form. There are no further identifying marks on these films.

The Bezymenski book, which appeared in 1968 as noted, makes no mention of these X-rays but does show photographs of what the author purports to be the original bridgework found in what is claimed to be the badly charred and partially obliterated corpses of Hitler and Eva Braun. The author also includes a photograph of a small card purported to have been prepared on May 11, 1945 by one Kathe Heusermann, Dr. Blaschke’s technical assistant, who assisted in the manufacture of bridgework for the dentist.

To consider the Bezymenski publication as anything but crude Soviet disinformation would be a serious error for an objective historian to accept.

Like Trevor-Roper’s 1945 report, which took him only two weeks to prepare, the Bezymenski dissertation was obviously prepared to fulfill an official point of view. It should be noted that in the 1960s, Soviet writers were not free to express their views on international political matters and, in any case, like Trevor-Roper who was a member of MI 6, Bezymenski was a KGB official.

Trevor-Roper, to be sure, is a far better writer but in the end, the two books were prepared with similar goals. The Bezymenski work is easily demolished because of extraordinarily poor research. The author states that on May 9, 1945, a Soviet investigator interrogated Heusermann. A transcript of the official report disclosed that Heusermann in the company of the official found Hitler’s dental file in Blaschke’s Berlin office and then accompanied the investigators to the ruins of the Chancellery where they discovered all of Hitler’s dental X-rays and some gold crowns alleged to be destined for Hitler’s mouth.

The author appears to be unaware that all of these records were removed from the Chancellery on the night of April 20 and that Hitler’s dental records were kept in the Chancellery dental facility and not at Blaschke’s private practice.

As has been previously noted, Soviet agents seeking Blaschke in Berlin at once abandoned their search upon learning of his detention by the US and made no attempt to contact him although invited to do so by American authorities.

The sketch of Hitler’s dental work is accompanied by numerous notes, all in Russian, a language that Heuserman was not acquainted with in May of 1945.

A further lack of familiarity with his subject emerges rather painfully when Bezymenski discusses the purported corpse of Hitler’s dog “Blondi.” The dog, of whom Hitler was extremely fond, accompanied him everywhere, even on many of his trips. In 1945, she had recently whelped and was still nursing her pups at the end of April.

The official Soviet autopsy report indicates that the dog in question had a black coat with white lower extremities, worn teeth which would indicate a dog of about eight years of age and who had not been nursing at the time of death.

Since an official Spanish police report of April, 1945, mentions a “large brown wolfhound” as part of the manifest of Hitler’s personal transport, it could be assumed that like her master, “Blondi” did not meet her end in Berlin.

In addressing the reliability of the Soviet view one must consider their previous record of producing forged anti-German documentation. Official forgery was not the sole bailiwick of Communist creative writers. Czarist secret police took a French satire on Napoleon III by Joly, made minor changes in the text and produced the well-known Protocols of the Wise Elders of Zion.

Aside from period rewritings of their own history, the Soviets produced the notorious Heusinger file that attacked a former Wehrmacht General who was slated for inclusion in NATO. Original documents captured from Army Group Center during the war were liberally larded with KGB fakes designed to prove that Heusinger was responsible for the murder of Russian civilians.

The added documents were, like most KGB productions, very bad, and Heusinger obtained his appointment. The Soviet apparat also produced the notorious SS camp pass for Demjanjuk and gave it to an informed US agency who then used it to prosecute the former Russian citizen. That document was of such transparent falsity that it is a wonder that it was ever introduced in a civilized court of law.

The then-West German criminal investigative agency to whom it was shown immediately branded it a fake although this professional opinion in no way prevented the document from being introduced at Demjanjuk’s various trials.

The notorious Hitler Diaries were concocted by the East German Stasi to raise foreign capital and it now appears that the former KGB is attempting to sell to gullible journalists what they claim are the “personal diaries of Goebbels”. This project is more extensive than the East German tour de force because the KGB has had more time to prepare it.

It is still possible that a sudden “discovery” bolstering the Bezymenski thesis could be forthcoming from hitherto closed KGB files but given the current state of German-Russian relations, somewhat doubtful.

In 1972, Dr. Reidar Sognnaes, a professor of anatomy and dental biology at the University of California, delivered a paper at a seminar on forensic science held in Scotland. Dr. Sognnaes strongly believed that he was now able to prove that a positive identification of Hitler’s remains had been made as the result of his own brilliant forensic detective work among the archives. His conclusions stemmed from a comparison of the purported Hitler head X-rays which he claimed had somehow been mislaid in the National Archives, only to be rediscovered by himself in a stunning coup in 1972, with the Bezymenski photographs and drawings in the 1968 book.

He also claimed he had searched the Blaschke CIC interrogation file and had found the dentist’s sketches from memory of the Hitler dentition. This work was also located in the National Archives. Since all of this data appeared to coincide, Sognnaes concluded that there could be absolutely no doubt that the corpse found in the Chancellery garden was that of Hitler. Parenthetically, Sognnaes (and other dental forensic specialists) concluded that the alleged burned corpse of Eva Braun was, to a certainty, not the remains of Hitler’s wife.

Among other interesting facets of the Eva Braun matter is that the artificial teeth contained in what the Russians stated was Eva Braun’s bridgework found in the mouth of the very badly charred corpse would under no circumstances have withstood the heat of the cremation and would have been thoroughly melted.

The Sognnaes theory is, from a logical point of view, more badly flawed than the Bezymenski one. Firstly, the X-rays in the National Archives had never been mislaid, and in fact, had been used in several publications prior to both the Sognnaes production and that of Bezymenski. The latter certainly had reference to these X-rays which were available to any researcher from 1946 onwards. Secondly, the technical information about the dental records in the Russian’s book very obviously came from the same source that Sognnaes had used, namely the files of the National Archives. The Russians based their creative writing efforts on official files and Sognnaes merely copied their end product.

If one takes the previously stated criteria concerning positive identification of a body through dental forensics, it becomes immediately evident that the evidentiary chain does not, and never did exist. The requirement of an actual body kept in a secure location has certainly not been met. The Russians have repeatedly stated that they burned the purported corpse of Hitler and scattered the ashes. The official Soviet statement that they had recovered Hitler’s personal X-rays and dental records conflicts with extensive evidence that these records were removed from the Chancellery before the occupation of Berlin. In any case, the Soviets never produced any such material in the furtherance of their claims.

Not one scrap of this material could ever be presented in a responsible court of law to support a claim of identification. There is a regrettable tendency for many authors, in treating a historical subject, to write to an idea. In doing so, they will accept any theory or any evidence, no matter how illogical or patently false, which will tend to prove their case and reject any material that would tend to disprove it.

They will, in sum, strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

 

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