TBR News February 29, 2016

Feb 29 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., February 29, 2016: “Rumblings of nearly hysterial nature from both the domestic, and foreign, press. In this case, the cat droppings in their sock is Donald Trump. At first he was dismissed as a laughable eccentric and ignored but as he gained deligates and outdistanced his rival by significant percentages, then the media began its comical wailing. The establishment does not know how to cope with Trump but he is becoming very popular with an American public who is sick to death with the stupid, venial and totally corrupt organs of the government. They are fed up with chronic and growing unemployment, the lunatic fringe like the militant Jesus Freaks and lovers of Israel who all try to force their undigestable agendas down the throats of the public. They want, no they demand, change but this never comes. Candidates wave their arms and lie to the voters like threadbare rugs. Once the get in office, the promises vanish like a snowball in hell and the endless game goes on. Trump puts one in mind of Teddy Roosevelt and his attacks on the powerful railroad barons of his day.”

Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.




Conversation No. 70

Date: Thursday, February 27, 1997

Commenced: 6:15 PM CST

Concluded: 6:38 PM CST


RTC: Gregory? Have I interrupted your dinner?

GD: Not at all. I eat later, if I think about it that is. I thought you’d be in bed by now, Robert. A problem?

RTC: Actually, yes, there is…or might be. Do you have some time there?

GD: Sure. Not a problem.

RTC: It’s about that Atwood person we spoke of earlier. Remember the one? 

GD: Oh, yes, I do remember Atwood. Did old Critchfield off him?

RTC: No, not as I understand but there is unhappiness about Atwood’s proclivity to talk to the wrong people and you are certainly considered the wrong people. By Critchfield’s crowd. Jim does not like me any more over that Angolia business but one of our mutual friends was in touch with me yesterday about this and I thought I ought to discuss it with you. There are, or were, certain aspects to Atwood’s activities, both on and off the board, that there is some anxiety about. It’s known he had very dubious dealings with you six or seven years ago and you are considered to be a loose cannon. Atwood is considered to be a loose mouth and in my calling, that is not considered to be either wise or conducive of a long and happy life. Might I ask you what, if anything, Atwood discussed with you concerning his activities with the Company? Can you recall?

GD: My memory is very good, Robert, as you might have noticed.

RTC: I have. At times a great asset, Gregory, but at other times, a great liability. If you take my meaning?

GD: Oh, I do. Atwood? I got to know him while I was living in Munich in ’65. I was selling German militaria via the Shotgun News….

RTC: And that was….?

GD: Is. It’s a trade paper for gun and military collectors. In Hastings, Nebraska. I was a guest of Franzi von Otting and I used his name. Con premise and he got a percentage of the take. Anyway, Jimmy saw the advert and since he was in Germany, decided to look me up. He wrote and made an appointment and I met him in the lobby of the Vierjahrezeiten.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: A posh Munich hotel. He was staying there with two tarts. Bargirl types if you know what I mean. He was very polite and civil. Slight southern accent. Anyway, we had a long conversation about the collecting trade. Jimmy had written a book on Nazi daggers and was, as he admitted over a drink or two, having these made up in Solingen and selling them. He was making very good money and was highly ambitious. Made up Hermann Goering’s wedding sword and shoved it off on some stupid collector and, as I recall, Hitler’s suicide pistol. A Walther with ivory grips. Got it on the cover of Argosy magazine and sold it to another sucker in Canada. Anyway, we had a talk about creative selling and, as I recall, he was interested in my expertise on the historical aspects. I pointed out to him that in the picture of the alleged Hitler gun, the maker was Walther but their factory was in Ulm, not in what was now the DR. He laughed and said, as I remember, ‘well…you caught me….’ and on we went. I don’t drink very much but he certainly could put it away. And we went out to a restaurant and continued the talking. I learned a lot about him, the more he drank, but he learned nothing about me. Considering everything, that was just as well. I know he had a good opinion of me because in ’90 we went to Austria and dug up some buried Nazi concentration camp loot an SS general buried there in ’45.

RTC: And who might that have been?

GD: A Slovene named Globocnik. Had been the Gauleiter of Vienna until Hitler sacked him for stealing.

RTC: I was told about him. Not a nice person.

GD: No, but you used him after his faked suicide. The Brits sold him to you and you sent him down to Syria to help the rag heads.

RTC: Gregory, you are most interesting and informative. And I hope you are also discreet.

GD: Oh, I can be. Why the interest in Jimmy?

RTC: It has slowly dawned on certain exalted people that perhaps you might have gleaned some forbidden information about brother Atwood in the course of your wild career. Do go on

GD: Well, I don’t know what was, or is, forbidden, and what isn’t.

RTC: Why not just go on and let me be the judge of that. Please continue about Atwood.

GD: I will. Atwood was one of your people and was not only involved in merchandising and otherwise making a profit selling fake German militaria…

RTC: By German, you specifically mean Nazi, don’t you?

GD: Yes, of course. I’ll tell you about the market in a few minutes. Right now, I am going to fill you in on what I learned from James. I give you some background here on the very off chance that you know nothing about it. Since at least 1981 and probably earlier, there exists a worldwide network of ‘free-standing’, or especially and specifically. no direct U.S. government ties companies, including airlines, aviation and military spare parts suppliers, and trading companies, set up that  have been put to good use by the CIA and the U.S. government to illegally ship arms and military spare parts to Iran and to the Contras. And, of course, to smuggle people who can’t go by commercial airlines and, let us not forget, drugs

RTC: I rather wish you would forget about drugs. I don’t think brother Atwood was involved with drugs. Do go on.

GD: Yes. 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. I am correct here?

RTC: Yes. Go on.

GD: You will probably end up hating me if I do, Robert, but I note you asked me to continue.

RTC: I think I am above that, Gregory.

GD: OK. Now let’s look at the Iran Contra business. I know all about at least a part of this so we can go into it a little. Secord’s arms shipments, arraigned through the CIA, transferred weapons destined for Central America to Merex. This was known officially as Merex International Arms and was, and is, based in Savannah. The Merex address was occupied by Combat Military Ordinances Ltd., controlled by Jimmy Atwood. He had been in the Army in MI and then went to work for your people. James was involved in major arms trades with your sponsored international buyers, specifically Middle Eastern Arab states. Monzer Al-Kassar utilized the Merex firm for some of his weapons transactions with the Enterprise.   Now Merex was originally set up, after the war, by old Skorzeny co-worker, one Gerhard Mertins. Gerhard had been  a Hauptmann (captain to you, Robert) in the German paratroopers and got the Knight’s Cross in, I believe, ’45. After the war, Mertins went to work in Bonn and the Merex arms business was considered a CIA proprietary firm. Mertex was close to and worked with the BND, the German intelligence service evolved from the CIA-controlled Gehlen organization. Atwood was involved with Interarmco, run by Samuel Cummings, an Englishman who ran the largest arms firm in the world. Cummings died in Monaco because he had looted his CIA employers and found that principality safer than Warrenton, Virginia. Also connected with Atwood’s firm were Collector’s Armory, run by one Thomas Nelson, whose nickname was ‘Red Nelson’ because of his hair color, not his politics, and a George Petersen of Springfield, Virginia, and one Manny Wiegenberg, a Canadian arms dealer. Jimmy was heavily involved in your support of Canadian separatists and I know something of his role in supplying weapons and explosives to the Quebec Libré movement. The head of your Canada Desk was actively encouraging this group to split away from Canada. I know for a fact that your people do not want ever to mention this little historical aside.

RTC: No, we do not, Go on.

GD:Also, I know all about Atwood’s connections with Skorzeny and the IRA/Provo wing. I can give you chapter and verse on this one if you want it. One of Atwood’s Irish connections is the man who blew up Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979 and I have a file on this as well in some safe and private place You might also be aware of 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. I recall a former SS officer, Frederich Schwend who worked with your people and was down in Lima. 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. Atwood knew about the Weissensee gold hoard that Müller told me about. Jimmy knew about it but I had the overlay so he courted me and we ended up, shovels in hand, in the beautiful mountains in ’90.

RTC: Thee are conflicting stories about that business. You murdered two British people as I understand it.

GD: No such thing, Robert. As I understand it, and I was there, they fell off the boat in the middle of the Caribbean. Such lies your people make up.

RTC: Well, there are always two sides to every story, Gregory. You are better than two cups of coffee, I must say. I think I ought to get some Pepto Bismol pretty soon. After the Treasure Island adventure, what happened next?

GD: To Atwood? Well, as Jimmy told me, about 1992, he and your Jimmy Critchfield, along with a Russian Jew, formed a partnership in order to obtain a number of obsolete Soviet atomic artillery shells which they then sold to the Pakistanis.  I think the two of them kept the money and no one ever saw the Jew again. If you don’t know this, I can tell you that both Critchfield and the Interarmco people had supplied weapons to the rebels in Afghanistan during their long and vicious guerrilla activities against the Soviet Union. Critchfield also 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 ran regional agency operations when the U.S. and the Soviets raced to secure satellites first in Eastern Europe, then in the Middle East. And note that 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.

RTC: Gregory, where in the sweet hell did you get all of this?

GD: From Atwood when he was drunk.

RTC: You’ve just guaranteed that he will pass to his reward very soon. Does that bother you?

GD: I never liked him. He tried to rip me off once but he was so crude about it that I have no respect for him. Shall I go on?

RTC: I have approach-avoidance conflicts here, Gregory. You might as well ruin the rest of my evening. Proceed.

GD: Are you sure? You don’t sound too happy.

RTC: I am not but do go on.

GD: As you wish. When Arab oil became paramount, your Critchfield became your national intelligence officer for energy and was also 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. Of course your people, along with the oil barons, forced the price of oil up and up. My, I wonder how much money you all made. Oh well, not important here. Critchfield retired in the mid ‘70s and ended up as both a consultant and the CEO of Tetra Tech International, a Honeywell Inc. subsidiary and which managed oil, gas, and water projects in the strategic Masandam Peninsula. This, in case your geography is weak, is located on the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the West’s oil is transported. And at the same time, Critchfield was a primary adviser to the Sultan of Oman, focusing on Middle East energy resources, especially those in Oman.

RTC: I should never have asked you about this.

GD: The Bible says ask and ye shall receive.

RTC: Yes. We can forget the Bible here. It has no part in the intelligence business. You mentioned Merex. Do you know of other friendly assets?

GD: Surely, Try Aero Systems, Arrow Air, Global International, and how about Zenith?

RTC: Did you get these names from Atwood?

GD: Of course I did. I told you Jimmy was not discreet while he was drinking. I listened to his tales of self-importance and remembered it all. Oh, and I write it up as well.

RTC: Gregory, for the Lord God’s sake, if not mine, or more important, yours, do not discuss any of this with anyone else, your son or people like Willis Carto. If you aren’t careful, Critrchfield will have you eliminated. I shall have to warn him off on that topic but…I mean why would Atwood tell you such terrible things and if he told you, who else could he have told?

GD: One of his German whores, probably. Jimmy goes on and on.

RTC: So I note. And we can ring the curtain down on that one ASAP.

GD: From your reaction, Robert, I assume Jimmy was accurate.

RTC: No comment but Atwood is a dead man.

GD: Well, I might have gotten my insights from the back of a Wheaties’ box but Jimmy is a better candidate. Do you know why I dislike Jimmy and would frame his death notice? His wife stuck with him when he was arrested for tax evasion in smuggling in the ‘60s and as a mark of his appreciation, he deserted her and his two daughters to run off with one of his bar girls. The rest of his activities are one thing but I do not tolerate such domestic treachery. Do you think I’m being too critical?

RTC: What a question. Who cares about his wife and children? This man has gone way beyond the bounds. Way beyond. Of course I believe you. You could never have made all that up and I can assure you it was never in the New York Times. They might know some of it but they wouldn’t dare publish it. No, you got it from Atwood or someone connected with him. Ah, well, I did ask and I did receive. They hate you Gregory, they hate you with a passion but at the same time, they are scared shitless of you. They would have killed you some time ago but others counseled them against it. Who knows what you put down on paper? If you were run over by a truck in the middle of a shopping mall or attacked and eaten by a leopard in your own living room, who knows what might find its way out of some hiding hole and into the public? The public is happy with its football games and beer so we had best not disturb them with such stories.

GD: They might make a good movie out of all this.

RTC: Never, Gregory, I can promise you that. A studio that even considered this would be bankrupt within a few months. No, none of this will ever see the light of day and if you want to continue walking around, remember that silence is golden.

GD: I have no problem with gold. Just think of all that looted concentration camp gold Jimmy and I dug up.

RTC: Yes and I understand you cheated him out of his share.

GD: When thieves fall out, Robert, honest men prosper.

RTC: Meaning no disrespect but do you consider yourself to be an honest man? GD: Selectively, Robert, selectively. And Jimmy?

RTC: Don’t make book on his seeing Christmas.


(Concluded at 6:38 PM CST)


Russian gas exports to Europe surge

February 29, 2016


Exports of natural gas to Western Europe have increased 37.5 percent in January, the head of Gazprom told President Vladimir Putin.

Since the beginning of the year, the state gas monopoly has increased exports to Germany by 44 percent, Italy by 42 percent, France by 73 percent and Austria by 52 percent, according to Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller.

“If the total 2015 increase in exports totaled 11.8 billion cubic meters of gas, we saw an increase of 7.5 billion cubic meters of gas just within the first two months of this year,” said Miller.

Therefore, without any doubt, the constructions of new gas transport routes to North-Western Europe are economically viable projects that are supported by the growing demand,“ added the head of Gazprom.

Miller was referring to the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. It will include two new pipelines that will deliver an additional 55 billion cubic meters to the existing Nord Stream pipeline.

In 2015, Gazprom boosted its non-CIS exports by 8 percent – up to 159.4 billion cubic meters. In particular, shipments to Germany rose by 17.1 percent, reaching a record 45.3 billion cubic meters.

Another important project on the table for Gazprom is a proposal to build a new pipeline to Southern Europe. The pipeline will pass under the Black Sea and deliver Russian natural gas to Greece by transit through an unnamed third country and continue to Italy. The corresponding memorandum was signed last week by Russia, Italy and Greece.

Coalition of 400 companies fight Georgia’s proposed ‘religious liberty’ bill

One major company is already leaving the state over the law, which would allow individuals and organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples

February 28, 2016

by Camille Pendley

The Guardian

Atlanta-A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing a Georgia “religious liberty” bill that is rapidly heading toward passage, with at least one major company already leaving the state over the proposal.

The proposed law would allow both individuals and organizations to refuse to conduct business with or otherwise discriminate against anyone whose marriage they find counters their religious beliefs. It also protects individuals from existing nondiscrimination laws in Atlanta and elsewhere.

A similar bill was dismissed last year, but the speed at which this year’s version, the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), is moving has raised serious concerns among state lawmakers, business owners, the faith community and activists.

The bill passed both the House and, in a different form, the Senate this month. The most recent version bars the government from taking “adverse action” against a person or faith-based organization that “believes, speaks, or acts in accordance” with the religious belief that “marriage should only be between a man and a woman”.

Telecom startup 373k announced it would to relocate from Decatur, Georgia, to Nevada immediately after the Georgia senate voted in favor of the measure last week.“I don’t want to be in a state where it is hard to attract the best talent,” said founder Kelvin Williams, who is gay.

Mary Moore, a local business owner, said: “I think there’s been a lot of strong opposition to [FADA] … I think the voices are a lot louder because everybody is now concerned that it’s actually going to pass.”

Based on the over 500 emails he’s received from members of his district and elsewhere, House Representative Taylor Bennett agrees there’s “overwhelming opposition” to the proposed law.

Just in the last week, roughly 100 businesses have joined a coalition of what is now over 400 companies opposing the religious freedom bill. The group Georgia Prospers, of which Moore is a member, includes a range of businesses – from Fortune 500 companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot to smaller ones across the state – in support of “treating all Georgians and visitors fairly”.

Several have cited fears that Georgia will suffer lost revenue, as in Indiana where public disdain for a similar bill, before it even became law, is said to have cost the state $60m. Atlanta’s chamber of commerce and visitors’ bureau produced separate studies citing a potential loss of $1bn to $2bn if the bill passes without civil rights protections.

The religious community is also represented among the many in opposition to the law. Nearly 300 clergy members in the state spoke out this week against the “overly broad, discriminatory” proposal.

The title speaks for itself,” said representative Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s House minority leader. “There is a question about whether the first amendment needs to be defended – it does not. Nothing that has happened in state or federal law has unsettled the constitutionality of the first amendment.” Joe Whitley, former US attorney and Department of Justice official, calls the proposed law “superfluous and unnecessary” in a legal analysis. “The first amendment in and of itself protects all Americans’ rights to speech, to worship freely, and to be free from a state-established creed,” he said. “These rights do not need the General Assembly to legislate in order to give them force or effect.”

Not only does the bill allow individuals and faith-based organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples, but also against anyone perceived to have sexual relations outside of a heterosexual marriage, such as single parents, or unmarried couples, whether gay or straight.

A number of “easily foreseeable” scenarios that could arise if the law were to pass are included in Whitley’s analysis: a restaurant refusing service to an interracial couple; a hospital denying a man the right to visit his male spouse; a business refusing to hire a single woman living with her partner. The same kind of discrimination on the part of an employer, landlord, or public employee could be protected under FADA.

Supporters argue the law is needed to protect the religious freedom of individuals to exercise their “sincerely held” religious beliefs as they pertain to marriage.\

State senator Greg Kirk, who proposed an earlier version of the bill in the Senate, argues that faith-based organizations risk being discriminated against by the state for acting in accordance with their religious beliefs. He points to the Catholic Church’s policy of permitting adoptions only to to male-female couples and not same-sex.

Knowing the history of the State of Georgia, I don’t see that as an issue,” said Abrams. “But I do see this bill being used to preclude and forbid same-sex couples from adopting – and that should be the worry that we have … the reality of what has happened in several states in this nation.”

US To Assume Higher Profile in Nordic Exercises

February 27, 2016

by Gerald O’Dwyer

Defense News

HELSINKI — The Pentagon’s proposed boost in the budget for European defense in 2017 will significantly increase the scale and regularity of US exercises with Nordic and Baltic militaries.

For US forces, the greatest value will be to train and test troops and equipment in multinational joint maneuvers alongside elite Nordic rapid reaction and extreme climate units.

The increasing frequency of exercises has resulted in American forces securing forward location storage depots to house heavy equipment, such as M1A1 Abrams tanks and amphibious assault vehicles in NATO-member Norway.

The prospect for an expanded US presence in training and exercises has been roundly welcomed by political leaders in Nordic and Baltic states.

These governments regard a greater US visibility in the region as boosting security against future “Russian aggression” in the wider neighborhood, at a time when the Kremlin continues to expand its air, land and naval infrastructure and capability near Norwegian and Finnish borders.

These future scale-up exercises will be funded from the European Reassurance Initiative, which is budgeted at US $2.6 billion in 2016 and is scheduled to rise to $3.4 billion in 2017.

US military training with multinational troops in Norway and the High North should not be regarded by Russia as a provocation, said Kåre Simensen, a member of the Norwegian parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“Norway is part of NATO, so a US presence here is quite normal. We should be able to conduct these types of operations and still maintain good relations with Moscow,” said Simensen.

US forces are currently taking part in the Norwegian armed force’s (NAF) hosted Cold Response 2016 exercises, which runs from Feb. 19 to March 22. The US contribution includes mobile artillery, special ops units, Abrams tanks, AAVs, light armored and combat vehicles.

From the Norwegian side, the Cold Response exercise will involve the Northern Telemark Battalion, which includes rapid-response mechanized, mobile artillery, and specialized extreme climate warfare operations units.

The exercise is being held in the mountainous and forested lake districts of

Trøndelag province in Central Norway.

The multinational force will comprise 15,000 personnel, including from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.

“The more we train with US forces, the better we are together. We undertake training based on procedures that this makes us more effective in the challenging operations that we need to do jointly,” said Rear Adm. Nils Johan Holte, the head of the NAF’s special forces division.

The ability to operate from localized storage depots in the High North will elevate the ability of US forces to quickly move equipment to where it is needed, while responding in a more efficient way to operational demands, said Col. William Bentley, operations officer for 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade taking part in Cold Response.

Any gear that is forward-deployed both reduces cost and speeds up our ability to support operations in crisis, so we’re able to fall in on gear that is ready to go and respond to whatever that crisis may be,” said Bentley.

Storage depots being used by US forces in Norway include formerly abandoned caves and other underground military repositories that had been used by the NAF up to the end of the Cold War.

For US forces, Cold Response will be quickly followed by mechanized land warfare and tactical air exercises scheduled to take place in Finland in May.

This rise in American activity is directly related to the US military’s increased budget for training and defense projects in Europe, said Jussi Niinistö, Finland’s defense minister.”As a result the US is seeking out exercise opportunities on a broad front. This means we can take advantage of a higher level of US training activity to develop Finland’s own defense capabilities,” said Niinistö.

Up to 8 F-15C fighters from the Oregon Air National Guard are due to hold squadron-level bilateral training exercises with F/A-18 Hornets operating from the Karelia Air Command’s Fighter Squadron 31 located in Rissala, in eastern Finland.

The joint air maneuvers involving the F-15Cs and F/A-18 Hornets will be conducted in skies over central and eastern territories of Finland close to Finland’s 833-mile border with Russia.

In extended exercises in May, the F-15Cs are also expected to join up with F/A-18s, Swedish Gripen fighters and Norwegian F-16s for cross border training exercises.

In a landmark development, the US is also sending a mechanized unit that includes 20 Stryker armored transport vehicles to the Finnish Army’s Arrow-16 land warfare exercises in May. Maneuvers will include an amphibious landing exercise on the Hanko Peninsula in southeast Finland, which holds a strategic position in the Baltic Sea.

The Finnish parliament’s Committee on Defense (CoD) has criticized the government for providing “inadequate” information around US forces participation in upcoming exercises.

“We should have been given a full briefing once the government reached its decision to approve US participation. Instead the committee was drip-fed details in piecemeal fashion three months after that decision was made. This is not good enough,” said the CoD’s chairman, Ilkka Kanerva.The training visits to Norway and Finland will provide a strategic warm-up for US forces ahead of NATO Baltops-16 exercises in the Baltic Sea in June.

Baltops-16 will be used to demonstrate the interoperability of NATO allies, including Nordic partner states Finland and Sweden.

Given regional tensions, the exercises will be monitored even more closely by Russia this year. NATO intends to use Baltops to assure countries bordering the Baltic Sea of its commitment to the security in the region.

Baltops-16 is expected to be staged on a larger scale than last year when the joint force comprised troops from over 20 NATO and partner nation states and included 49 surface ships, submarines, assault craft, 62 fixed and rotary wing aircraft, over 700 US Marines and Airborne Rangers, in addition to 5,000 supporting personnel afloat and ashore.

The Lion and the Sheep: Why they hate Trump

February 29, 2016

by Justin Raimondo,


On June 14, 1918, a nineteen year old Italian soldier by the name of Bernardo Vicario was ordered by his commander, Carl Rigoli, to carry out a curious task. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Italian forces would soon be hit with a furious bombardment that would mean the death of most of them. Rigoli clearly knew this, which is why he told young Bernardo to write an inscription on the ruined wall of a home in the village of Fagare, where they were holed up:

Better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep.”

Rigoli perished in the battle: Bernardo lived to tell the tale. And almost a hundred years later, a researcher looking for ways to smear GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump stumbled across a reference to it and attributed it to Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator.

A reporter for Gawker, the notorious gossip site that’s been sued for libel more times than I care to discover, had set up a parody Twitter account named “Il Duce,” and the reporter, one Ashley Feinberg, tweeted the not-said-by-Mussolini quote at Trump, who promptly retweeted it. Shortly afterward, Trump was confronted by reporter Chuck Todd, who wanted to know why he was retweeting something said by Mussolini. Trump wouldn’t back down: “It’s a great quote,” he said, quite correctly. That refusal, and the content of the quote itself, underscores and explains why he is wining and why the hysterical smear campaign directed at him and his campaign is failing big-time.

But why – why do they hate him with such ferocity? The accusations of “racism” and the way he speaks without regard for upper class niceties doesn’t explain the intensity of the hatred coming from the journalistic wolf pack and the Washington crowd. After all, shortly after Trump raised the issue of whether we should allow Muslims into the United States, the House of Representatives passed a bill – supported by libertarians like Rand Paul as well as mainline Republicans and Democrats – making it all but impossible for immigrants from Muslim countries to resettle here, or to even get a tourist visa. Yet we heard very little about that.

So where is all this vitriol coming from? David Stockman, former chief of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan, nails it:

To be sure, there is much that is ugly, superficial and stupid about Donald Trump’s campaign platform, if you can call it that, or loose cannon oratory to be more exact. More on that below, but at the heart of his appeal are two propositions which strike terror in the hearts of the Imperial City’s GOP operatives.

To wit, he is loudly self-funding his own campaign and bombastically insisting that America is getting a bad deal everywhere in the world.

The first of these propositions explicitly tells the legions of K-Street lobbies to take a hike, thereby posing a mortal threat to the fund raising rackets which are the GOPs lifeblood. And while the “bad deal” abroad is superficially about NAFTA and our $500 billion trade deficit with China, it is really an attack on the American Imperium.

The American people are sick and tired of the Lindsey Graham/John McCain/George Bush/neocon wars of intervention and occupation; and they resent the massive fiscal burdens of our outmoded but still far-flung alliances, forward bases and apparatus of security assistance and economic aid. They especially have no patience for the continued huge cost of our commitments to cold war relics like NATO, the stationing of troops in South Korea and the defense treaty with the incorrigible Japanese, who still blatantly rig their trade rules against American exports.

In short, The Donald is tapping a nationalist/isolationist impulse that runs deep among a weary and economically precarious main street public. He is clever enough to articulate it in the bombast of what sounds like a crude trade protectionism. Yet if Pat Buchanan were to re-write his speech, it would be more erudite and explicit about the folly of the American Imperium, but the message would be the same.”

All this was on display during the Houston GOP debate, and yet its significance was lost amid all the histrionics. To begin with, look at this exchange between former AIPAC employee Wolf Blitzer, the moderator, and Trump:

BLITZER: You said this about the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians – I’m quoting you now: ‘Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don’t want to say whose fault it is, I don’t think it helps.’

TRUMP: Right.

BLITZER: Here’s the question. How do you remain neutral when the U.S. considers Israel to be America’s closest ally in the Middle East?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I don’t think they do under President Obama because I think he’s treated Israel horribly, all right? I think he’s treated Israel horribly. I was the grand marshall down 5th Avenue a number of years ago for the Israeli Day Parade, I have very close ties to Israel. I’ve received the Tree of Life Award and many of the greatest awards given by Israel.

As president, however, there’s nothing that I would rather do to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors generally. And I think it serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy.

Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. OK? But it doesn’t help if I start saying, “I am very pro-Israel, very pro, more than anybody on this stage.” But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors, because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors.

And I can’t do that as well – as a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I’m taking … sides.”

That is nothing short of remarkable, especially if one recalls the Mitt Romney-Barack Obama debate in which both competed with the other in proclaiming their absolute fealty to Israel and their refusal to even recognize that there are two sides to the issue. Marco Rubio was outraged by this unprecedented display of common sense, and launched into one of his robo-responses, repeating word-for-word some editorial he’d probably read in Commentary or the Weekly Standard. And in the course of it he said something remarkably stupid: “The Palestinians are not a real estate deal, Donald.”

Now one assumes he meant the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t about a real estate deal, but the reality is that’s precisely what it is – a real estate deal gone bad. It’s all about land. And it will take fair-minded negotiating and – yes – deal-making to solve that festering problem. Rubio cannot acknowledge this because his donors won’t let him. As a creature of Imperial Washington – where Israel is always right and the Palestinians are always wrong – Rubio can’t allow himself to say or even think that.

Another example of why Trump has roused the ire of the political class: in refuting Rubio’s misleading accusation that he did not change his position in August 2011 and come out publicly against the Libyan intervention and starting another war in Syria – both of which he has denounced in no uncertain terms – Trump said this:

If these politicians went to the beach and didn’t do a thing, and we had Saddam Hussein and if we had Gadhafi in charge, instead of having terrorism all over the place, we’d be – at least they killed terrorists, all right?

And I’m not saying they were good because they were bad, they were really bad, but we don’t know what we’re getting. You look at Libya right now, ISIS, as we speak, is taking over their oil. As we speak, it’s a total mess.

We would have been better off if the politicians took a day off instead of going into war.”

I bolded the above because it succinctly sums up not only the Trumpian foreign policy but also Trump’s critique of the past twenty years. And to make things even scarier for the War Party, he wants us to pull back from policing the world to attend to business that must be attended to:

We can no longer defend all of these countries, Japan, Germany, South Korea. You order televisions, you order almost anything, you’re getting it from these countries. Whether it’s a Mercedes-Benz, or whether it’s an air conditioning unit. They’re coming out of these countries. They are making a fortune. Saudi Arabia, we are defending Saudi Arabia. Before Before the oil went down, now they’re making less, but they’re making plenty. They were making $1 billion dollars a day.

We defend all of these countries for peanuts. You talk about budgets. We have to start getting reimbursed for taking care of the military services for all of these countries.”

Trump has called for pulling US troops out of Europe, where they’ve been sitting since the end of World War II: these countries are rich, he argues, and have to start defending themselves. He also questions what they have to be afraid of in Putin’s Russia, declaring he could get along with the Russian leader, with the implicit assumption being they could too.

Indeed, Trump challenges every major new American incursion into regions where it doesn’t belong: Syria, where he wonders why we’re subsidizing “rebels” and “we don’t’ know who they are”; Ukraine, which he disdains as simply a backwater where we have no interests; and Libya, where he points to the chaos caused by Hillary’s war and where we’re getting ready to revisit.

Trump represents a deadly challenge to the high command of the War Party – the neoconservatives who lied us into war in Iraq – and were called out for it by him. These people are the main driving force that is ideologically committed to maintaining Washington’s imperial pretensions even as we plunge further into bankruptcy. They are behind the vicious smear campaign that equates Trump with Mussolini, Hitler, David Duke, and the Devil himself. They see that they are losing control of the GOP – their pathway to power – and they are reacting like the cornered rats they are.

If Trump gets the Republican nomination the neocons are through as a viable political force on the Right. That’s why National Review devoted a whole issue of their magazine to the theme “Against Trump.” That’s why the neocons’ allies in the media are going after him hammer and tongs. That’s why neocons like Robert Kagan are openly declaring they will support Hillary Clinton, while others – including the formerly libertarian network of organizations funded by Charles and David Koch – are financing a “Stop Trump” campaign. There is even talk of the (impractical) idea of running a third party candidate in order to take votes away from Trump.

The rats are converging, squealing up a storm of abuse, and resorting to the most obvious smear tactics in order to keep their bread-and-butter on the table. Yet this, too, will backfire, just as all the other attempts to stop Trump have flopped – because people have had enough. They beyond angry – indeed, they’re happy! Overjoyed by the sight of the political class on the run – and determined to make them run even faster.

I hear Trump wears a bullet-proof vest, and has done so for years. If I were him I’d guard my head – and watch my back.

This is not to say I personally give one iota of political support to Trump – and Antiwar.com doesn’t endorse candidates for any office, period. David Stockman’s piece, linked above, describes some of the pitfalls of Trumpismo, which I fully endorse. Yet that is not my purpose here.

My job is to analyze current events: instead of reiterating what everyone else is saying, albeit in different words, my purpose is to get behind the headlines and go beyond the groupthink so that my readers can not only understand what is happening in the world – but also develop some insight into how to go about changing it. If Trump secures the nomination, the way is paved for transforming the GOP from the party of perpetual war to the party that honors the long-forgotten “isolationist” Sen. Robert A. Taft, who used to be celebrated as “Mr. Republican.” And if Trump actually wins the White House, the military-industrial complex is finished, along with the globalists who dominate foreign policy circles in Washington. While Trump is no libertarian, the effect of this sea-change in the foreign policy realm will be to objectively cut the dominance of federal power in our lives, first of all by saving us from bankruptcy and freeing up resources for the private sector, and secondly by reducing the blowback that has empowered terrorists.

Don’t be fooled: GOP bigwigs aren’t afraid Trump will lose to Hillary. They’re afraid he’ll win.

Trump, for all his crudity and contradictions, represents a populist uprising against the Empire and those who profit from our imperialist foreign policy. That’s why the political class hates him – and has vowed to destroy him.

I started out telling you the story of the lion and the sheep, and I end with the good news that the sheep – inspired by the lion  – are finally turning on the sheepherders.

The Donald—–The Good And Bad Of It

February 27, 2016

by David Stockman

Contra Corner

America will need the Almighty’s unstinting favor if Donald Trump becomes our 45th President. Still, blessed be The Donald for running a demolition derby in the Republican primaries.

There is no hope for the future of capitalist prosperity and a free society at home and world peace abroad unless the Republican Party is destroyed. And, by golly, Trump may well accomplish the deed.

We need to be clear. There is no longer a Republican Party rooted in the main street highways and byways of America. What’s left of it is not really even the xenophobic, nativist, crypto-racist flotsam and jetsam of the populist right that Trump is successfully calling to political arms.

The fact is, the GOP has mutated into the Warfare State party. Nestled comfortably in the Imperial City, it operates a plethora of special interest rackets which underwrite its incumbents’ bi-annual electoral campaigns out in the provinces.

In the interim, GOP politicians idle their time in the capital and on foreign junkets conjuring and embellishing scary stories about terrorist threats and hostile regimes. So doing, they perceive enemies of the American Imperium to be stalking the planet everywhere and even creeping onto these exceptional shores.

In a word, as the party of the Warfare State, the GOP’s main business has become promoting the agenda, campaigns, machinations and glory of the Imperial City. Whenever its pro forma rhetoric about small government and fiscal prudence becomes inconvenient to the needs of the military/industrial/surveillance complex or the fund-raising requirements of its special interest rackets, the GOP’s putative conservative economics platform quickly becomes “inoperative” in the Nixonian vernacular.

There is no better prototype for the new GOP than Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain. Their agenda consists exclusively of promoting and superintending Washington’s foreign projects, occupations, alliances and maneuvers. Cycling through Tel Aviv on a regular basis, showing up on the battlements of Kiev and lecturing the Chinese about maritime law in international waters, for example, they comically imitate the first century Roman Senators they fancy themselves to actually be.

Yet after decades in Washington they and most of their Senate colleagues have accomplished nothing that resembles the old Republican verities. In fact, during 2000-2006 when Republicans controlled the Congress and the White House, not a single welfare state program or agency was eliminated or even reformed, while vast new expansions of education, Medicare, agriculture, alternative energy subsides and much more were piled on the pre-existing heap of state.

Accordingly, the Federal spending share of GDP grew faster than at any time in history; and the $4 trillion worth of new national debt incurred during the eight Bush years smashed all prior peacetime records.

Even when the likes of Graham and McCain occasionally took time from their foreign adventures, it was not to lead a charge on shrinking the Welfare State or balancing the budget. McCain famously embraced the Wall Street bailouts in the fall of 2008, thereby ending once and for all GOP credibility on the sanctity of free markets and opposition to crony capitalism.

Graham was worse. He embraced the dubious science of global warming, the carbon tax and the vast expansion of the regulatory state that policy implies.

In all, the GOP establishment has become an integral part of the Washington ruling class. It has no passion——only lip service—–for the anti-Washington predicate on which the party was founded.

Once upon a time, by contrast, the GOP actually stood for free markets, fiscal rectitude, hard money and minimalist government. Calvin Coolidge did a pretty good job of it. And even the unfairly besmirched Warren G. Harding got us out of the foreign intervention business—-a path that the great Dwight D. Eisenhower pretty consistently hewed to under the far more challenging conditions of the cold war.

But these were sons of America’s old school interior—–Massachusetts, Ohio and Kansas. As temporary sojourners in Washington, they remained incredulous and chary of grand state missions either at home or abroad.

Harding called it returning to “normalcy”.  Coolidge said Washington’s business was to get out of the way. And Ike actually shrank the Warfare state by one-third, ended Truman’s wars and started no new ones, resisted much of the Dulles’ brother’s interventionist agenda, balanced the budget and froze the New Deal as hard in place at he had the votes to achieve.

Today’s Republican crowd bears no resemblance. They live in the capital, fully embrace its projects and pretensions and visit the provinces as sparingly as possible. And that’s why The Donald has them so rattled, even petrified.

To be sure, there is much that is ugly, superficial and stupid about Donald Trump’s campaign platform, if you can call it that, or loose cannon oratory to be more exact. More on that below, but at the heart of his appeal are two propositions which strike terror in the hearts of the Imperial City’s GOP operatives.

To wit, he is loudly self-funding his own campaign and bombastically insisting that America is getting a bad deal everywhere in the world.

The first of these propositions explicitly tells the legions of K-Street lobbies to take a hike, thereby posing a mortal threat to the fund raising rackets which are the GOPs lifeblood. And while the “bad deal” abroad is superficially about NAFTA and our $500 billion trade deficit with China, it is really an attack on the American Imperium

The American people are sick and tired of the Lindsay Graham/John McCain/George Bush/neocon wars of intervention and occupation; and they resent the massive fiscal burdens of our outmoded but still far-flung alliances, forward bases and apparatus of security assistance and economic aid. They especially have no patience for the continued huge cost of our commitments to cold war relics like NATO, the stationing of troops in South Korea and the defense treaty with the incorrigible Japanese, who still  blatantly rig their trade rules against American exports.

In short, The Donald is tapping a nationalist/isolationist impulse that runs deep among a weary and economically precarious main street public. He is clever enough to articulate it in the bombast of what sounds like a crude trade protectionism. Yet if Pat Buchanan were to re-write his speech, it would be more erudite and explicit about the folly of the American Imperium, but the message would be the same.

That’s why the War Party is so desperate, and why its last great hope is the bantam weight Senator from Florida. In truth, Marco Rubio is an obnoxious kid who wants to be President so he can play with guns, planes, ships and bombs. He is a pure creature of the Imperial City, even if at his young age he has idled there only since 2010.

Yet down to the last nuance of his insipid neocon worldview and
monotonous recitation of the American Exceptionalism catechism, he might as well have been born in Washington of GS-16 parents, not Cuban refugees, raised as a Congressional page, and apprenticed to the Speaker of the US House rather than serving as the same in the backwaters of Tallahassee.

What Marco Rubio is all about is Warfare State republicanism. When he talks about restoring American Greatness it is through the agency of Imperial Washington. He has no kinship with Harding, Coolidge or Eisenhower. None of them were intent on searching the earth for monsters to destroy, as does Rubio in every single speech.

And make no mistake. Every time this naïve smart aleck chastises Obama for weak leadership and alleged failure to get the job forcefully done in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and countless elsewheres, the ghost of John Quincy Adams should be hollering in his grave. Stalking the globe for monsters to destroy is exactly what this wanna be little Napoléon is all about.

Likewise, none of the Republican greats would have vowed to tear-up the hard-won nuclear and trade deal with Iran on day one in office, as Rubio never stops declaiming. His hard core opposition to that breakthrough for peace and sanity, in fact, is a damning indictment.

The War Party in Washington and Tel Aviv has spent the last 30-years constructing a tissue of lies about the Iranian regime because both need an enemy in order to mobilize their domestic constituencies. The truth is that despite its theocratic rebuke of Imperial Washington after the bloody and thieving reign of the Shah was peacefully ended, the Iranians have never aspired to nuclear weapons, do not conduct a remote fraction of the terrorism inflicted by Washington’s drones, bombs and cruise missiles, and have never threatened the safety and security of the American people.

In denouncing the Iranian accord, Rubio is loudly embracing Washington’s 30-year tissue of lies about Iran and the destructive neocon foreign policy of which it is but one baleful extension.

So the good in The Donald at this juncture is that only he can stop Senator Marco Rubio. Only Trump’s brash bombast can finally displace the toxic neocon ideology that has mutated the GOP into the handmaiden of the Warfare State.

Indeed, Rubio is the very worst bag carrier for the Washington neocon establishment yet. Even George Bush could not be persuaded to bomb Tehran owing the thinness of the evidence and the awful implications of launching an outright genocide against an innocent Persian nation of 80 million.

Yet the strutting know-it-all boy Senator from Florida, who never even learned his way around the Senate but oozes with Napoleonic pretensions and delusions of grandeur, could readily do far worse.

That brings us to the bad of The Donald and what I called the Hairy Deal a few weeks back. Even as The Donald talks up a populist-sounding storm and rebukes Imperial Washington with the insolence it richly deserves, his predicate is fundamentally wrong. He insists that the nation’s ills stem from incompetent politicians making bad deals.

But that’s not right. The problem is bad policies and destructive ideas in the hands of Washington’s career politicians who are extremely competent at orchestrating the machinery of the state against the liberty and prosperity of its citizens.

Thus, in the hierarchy of things screaming out for radical change, the Donald’s favorite whipping boys——-NAFTA, China’s trade practices, illegal aliens and the danger of Muslim refugees——-don’t even rank. Nor do safeguarding the Second Amendment or building a horizontal version of Trump Towers on the Rio Grande.

The fact is, Trump has fashioned his platform by opportunistically scratching the most fearful and bigoted itches roiling the electorate. He has absolutely no semblance of a coherent program——or even an incoherent one for that matter.

Instead, his pitch is comprised of pure bombast and bile. It’s based on the exceedingly dangerous proposition that what Washington needs is a smart deal maker who can make the government agencies and bureaus run better at home and foreign leaders run for cover abroad.

You could call it the Man-on-the-White Horse syndrome, and pity the horse.

But don’t pity the nation. Sadly, the people are getting what they deserve. They have allowed both political parties, the agencies of their democratic right to rule, to betray them with impunity.

And that’s just as true of the Democrat party as the GOP. There is a dearth of new jobs in America today, for example, because the Democratic Party protects like a junkyard dog the single biggest agency of job destruction in the land.

To wit, the so-called foundation labor law in the form of the social security payroll tax, minimum wage and the NLRB. These relics of the 1930s New Deal remain the litmus tests for the Democrats’ own brand of special interest racketeering——that is, kowtowing to the unions.

But in a global market that can mobilize labor from every rice paddy and remote hamlet on the planet, the protectionism afforded US industrial unions by the NLRB imperils the few manufacturing jobs that remain. At the same time, the minimum wage stops new service sector jobs from being born, while the myth of social insurance—including its second generation off-spring in Obamacare——always and everywhere pushes employers to artificially conserve labor and substitute capital and technology.

Stated differently, the stupidest thing that Washington can do to a $40,000 per year job in an economy where labor is drastically over-priced and uncompetitive with much of the world is to extract upwards of $17,000 worth of payroll taxes and Obamacare employer mandates before workers get a red cent of take home pay.

And, no, the solution is not to abolish social security and dump grandma in the snow. Instead, if the community organizer who stumbled into the White House on the strength of his anti-war rhetoric had not been wedded to the Democrat’s mindless ideology of “social insurance”, he could have abolished the $1.2 trillion per year payroll tax entirely—–the sledge hammer that beats down upon worker living standards day in and day out—— and replaced it with a 10% consumption tax.

Needless to say, in a nation where only 123 million of an adult population of 252 million work full time, we could do with less consumption and more labor hours and production—-so we should tax the former, not the latter. Indeed, a nation which is getting older, fatter and dumber while watching television or trolling the internet eight hours per day, must do less shopping and keeping up with the Kardashians and more work——or it will end up in social and fiscal bankruptcy within a decade or so.

By that token, the giant wedge on labor imposed by social insurance could be further alleviated by the imposition of a stringent means test. Precious few retirees has actually earned through lifetime tax contributions anything close to their combined $450,000 average package of social security and medicare, anyway.

In fact, taxing the wealthy duffers who live on Florida’s golf courses and collect $50,000 per year in medicare and social security benefits should have been a no brainer for the big thinker now incumbent in the White House. But when it comes to feeding the organized labor rackets, thinking has nothing to do with it.At the end of the day, America is on a slippery slope toward failure because the Warfare State and the Welfare State are suffocating what was once a prosperous capitalism and a resilient free society lightly intruded upon by the machinery of state.

But now both parties have become handmaidens of the state. Domiciled in the Imperial City, they have long ago betrayed their founding principles in favor of incumbency, self-importance and operating the special interest rackets that keep them in office.

Maybe The Donald’s startling but palpable momentum toward the White House will have one saving grace. His relentless campaign against the “politicians” and the Washington money rackets may end up knocking the hypocritical stuffings out of both parties.

There could be worse fates among the present alternatives.

Donald Trump Elicits Shock and Biting Satire in European Media

February 28, 2016

by Dan  Bilefsky

New York Times

LONDON — He has been depicted as a snarling demagogue in France, equated with Donald Duck in Spain, and described as worse than Lord Voldemort in Britain.

In Europe, the birthplace of the Enlightenment, Donald Trump has been treated variously as a disturbing curiosity or an entertaining political show barker. His nearly every move and pronouncement has been reported from Paris to Berlin to Helsinki, even as commentators on both left and right have dismissed the notion of President Donald J. Trump as the stuff of fantasy, or, at worst, a momentary lapse of reason.

That is changing. With a series of wins in key Republican primary states, and with the billionaire’s expected strong showing when 12 states hold primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, the European media, like its American counterpart, is adjusting to the prospect of a seemingly unstoppable Trump juggernaut. The reaction is a mix of befuddlement, outrage and panic, along with admiration in some unlikely quarters.

And satire. The Spanish newspaper El País recently published an imaginary letter from the grave in which Philip II, a 16th-century Spanish king who ruled a vast empire, offers advice to Mr. Trump. Noting that his nation had also suffered from roguish subjects demanding free handouts, and Muslim terrorists masquerading as peaceful citizens, the king advises Mr. Trump to “consider bringing back the Inquisition.”

Mr. Trump’s often scowling face appears frequently on front pages, his success parsed daily on news bulletins and radio talk shows. Coverage tends to focus on his more outrageous statements rather than much serious examination of how a Trump presidency — still regarded with horror by many — might affect international diplomacy. Hillary Clinton’s name recognition and star power still fascinate, as does the surprising ascent of her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. But Mr. Trump is stealing most of the headlines.

Jakob Nielsen, the online editor and former Washington bureau chief of Politiken, an influential Danish newspaper, said that initially editors there did not take Mr. Trump’s candidacy seriously, and were disbelieving when the paper’s United States correspondents started filing articles saying he might win the Republican nomination.

As Trump has risen and as he has won the first primaries, the coverage has gone from fascination to outrage,” he said in a phone interview from Copenhagen. “There is a sense of shock here after we have seen Trump rallies with almost fascistlike rhetoric.”

Reflecting that disbelief, a cartoon in Politiken last week showed a couple on a sofa watching a CNN report asking “Will Trump make it all the way?” The incredulous husband tells his wife: “This is too unreal. Can we watch something more realistic like ‘Star Wars’?”

Mr. Trump’s toxic irreverence has helped fan the criticism. He drew the ire of the press — and officials in London and Paris — after he described neighborhoods in their cities as no-go zones for police. In Britain, his widely reported comments that foreign Muslims should not be allowed to enter the United States provoked such outrage that members of Parliament debated a petition, signed by more than 580,000 people, to ban him from entering the country. (He can still visit.)

In Germany, which has fashioned itself as the moral voice of Europe in recent months after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision not to limit the number of migrants who can apply for asylum, the front page of a recent issue of Der Spiegel, the influential German magazine, shows Mr. Trump with the American flag behind him engulfed in flames. “Madness: America’s agitator,” the headline says.

A commentary in Bild, a populist German tabloid, recently noted that most Germans could not say who was running in the German state elections in March, but they were following the election campaign in “distant” America.

For all the provocations by Mr. Trump, his deftness at tapping into the visceral anger of Americans shaken by economic doldrums and globalization has deep resonance in Europe, where citizens from Britain to France to Hungary have also turned to insurgent politicians on the far right or the far left to express disgust with the political mainstream.

Jaroslav Plesl, the editor of Mlada fronta Dnes, a leading Czech newspaper, said in an interview that Mr. Trump’s willingness to take on the political establishment, even in his own party, had made him a folk hero of sorts in Eastern and Central Europe among people who were disillusioned with the post-1989 political order. Equating Mr. Trump’s appeal to that of Ronald Reagan, he argued that the candidate was drawing in fans with his showmanship and swagger.

The elites in Prague will sneer at him for being dumb and a bad role model, but Czechs in general like underdogs and outsiders like Trump,” he said. “To many young people who worship American popular culture, Trump signifies American values like show business, and working hard to achieve success.”

Others in the European news media, however, have expressed shock at Mr. Trump’s brand of incendiary politics, in particular the insults he has lobbed at minorities, Muslims, Mexicans, women and the handicapped. Europe has its own brand of immigrant-baiting far-right figures, from Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France to Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party.

Mr. Trump enjoys greater popularity in Russia, where the budding bromance between the American and President Vladimir V. Putin has won him praise. The news channel Russia Today, or RT, paid homage to Mr. Trump’s talents as a shock jock, and published an interactive article “on the top ways to be offensive — Trump-style.” Among the insults highlighted was Mr. Trump’s off-color attack on the former Representative Barney Frank, referring to what Mr. Trump called his “protruding nipples.”

Love him or hate him, the Republican has an uncanny ability to elicit an explosive response whenever he gets near a keyboard,” said the broadcaster, which is funded by the Kremlin.

Adding to Mr. Trump’s fans in Europe, Ms. Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, former leader of the National Front, wrote on Twitter on Saturday: “If I were American, I’d vote Donald Trump … but God bless him!” Mr. Le Pen, 87, has been convicted several times of inciting racial hatred.

By contrast, the left-leaning French newspaper Libération expressed puzzlement at Mr. Trump’s ascent. Under the headline “Trump, From Nightmare to Reality,” it recently noted that there appeared to be nothing to stop Mr. Trump from winning the Republican nomination. “And this, despite his thundering racist and sexist declarations.”

In Germany, Mr. Trump seemed too much even for Bild. It published a commentary recently by Franz Josef Wagner, a former editor of the newspaper, who wrote: “The ugly side of America is not dead, nor the ugly side of Germany.” He compared Trump to a German politician, Frauke Petry of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, who has called for the police to shoot at people crossing the border illegally.

What kind of world will we live in,” he asked, “if these people come to power?”

Hannah Olivennes contributed reporting from London and Jack Ewing from Frankfurt.

China expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in coal, steel sectors

February 29, 2016

by Kevin Yao and Meng Meng


China said on Monday it expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in the coal and steel industries, or about 15 percent of the workforce, as part of efforts to reduce industrial overcapacity, but no timeframe was given.

It was the first time China has given figures that underline the magnitude of its task in dealing with slowing growth and bloated state enterprises.

Yin Weimin, the minister for human resources and social security, told a news conference that 1.3 million workers in the coal sector could lose jobs, plus 500,000 from the steel sector. China’s coal and steel sectors employ about 12 million workers, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“This involves the resettlement of a total of 1.8 million workers. This task will be very difficult, but we are still very confident,” Yin said.

For China’s stability-obsessed government, keeping a lid on unemployment and any possible unrest that may follow has been a top priority.

The central government will allocate 100 billion yuan ($15.27 billion) over two years to relocate workers laid off as a result of China’s efforts to curb overcapacity, officials said last week.

China’s vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao quoted Premier Li Keqiang as telling U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday that the fund would mainly focus on the steel and coal sectors.

The number of layoffs was reasonable based on the government’s capacity closure targets, said Jiang Feitao, an industry researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think-tank.

He said the funds being made available would be used only after the enterprises go bankrupt and settle their debts. He said local governments would also be responsible for dealing with those debts.

“It’s difficult to predict a timeframe but it will not be a quick process. There are many issues to be dealt with, including how to pay debt as well as layoffs.”


The world’s second-largest economy grew 6.9 percent in 2015, the weakest in 25 years, and the government aims to achieve economic growth of 6.5-7 percent in 2016.

“The economy faces relatively big downward pressures and some firms face difficulties in production and operation, which would lead to insufficient employment,” Yin said, adding that increasing graduates this year would also add pressure in the job market.

Despite the economic downturn, there have been no reports of mass layoffs as occurred during the Asian financial crisis, when more than 28 million workers were laid off between 1998-2003.

The survey-based jobless rate published by the National Bureau of Statistics stayed at around 5.01 percent at the end of last year.

Officials have said that the services sector has created more jobs to help absorb laid-off workers from the manufacturing sector.

In 2015, the contribution from the services sector to GDP climbed to 50.5 percent, surpassing 50 percent for the first time.

The registered urban jobless rate published by the human resources and social security ministry was at 4.05 percent at the end of 2015.

However, many economists believe the few official employment readings in China underestimate the number of jobless.

($1 = 6.5481 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(This version of the story has been corrected to edit paragraphs 13, clarifies “Asian” financial crisis, not “global”)

(Additional reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Ruby Lian in Shanghai; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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