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TBR News January 17, 2020

Jan 17 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 17, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose

Commentary for January 17: “It is no secret that Donald Trump appears to be a pathological liar. I don’t believe this is true. Trump has moderate to severe mental problems and he actually believes what he is saying. For example, he will have a public meeting and there are, by local police count, about 500-600 attendees. The Trump people pack them in behind and directly in front of the speaker’s platform and photograph them. Trump actually believes that “many thousand people packed the hall, cheering him for hours.” He believes that God wants him to be King of America. If some of his loonier statements he makes in the White House ever became public, he would be run out of the White House in a strait-jacket, talking to dead relatives. And then we would have Pence in the Oval Office and Jesus would have arrived in Dallas the day after.”

Trump’s Approval/Disapproval rating January 17 reporting

Source          Approve   Disapprove
____________________________
YouGov                  40%         53%

The Table of Contents
• Explainer: How close is Iran to producing a nuclear bomb?
• Pro-gun activists threaten to kill state lawmaker over bill they misunderstood
• Two arrested after attempt to sell 12 billion passwords
• The Navy Has Secret Classified Video of an Infamous UFO Incident
• US states sue Trump administration over drastic cuts to food stamp program
• Talking in Tongues’ for Fun and Profit.
• The Grand Canyon Lunacy
• Christianization of the Republican Party: In Their Own Words
• The Season of Evil
• Encyclopedia of American Loons

Explainer: How close is Iran to producing a nuclear bomb?
January 17, 2020
by Francois Murphy and Arshad Mohammed
Reuters
The 2015 accord’s many restrictions on Iran’s atomic activities were built around one objective: to extend the “breakout time” Tehran would need to produce enough fissile material for one atomic bomb – if it decided to do so – to at least a year from around 2-3 months.
Iran maintains that it has never sought nuclear weapons and never would. It has long said it has enriched for civilian purposes including future nuclear energy and research projects.
Tehran began breaching the deal’s curbs last year in a step-by-step response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the deal in May 2018 and the reimposition of U.S. sanctions that have throttled Iran’s vital oil exports.
Those breaches have shortened the breakout time slightly, though Iran is far from sprinting ahead as fast as it could, reports by the U.N. nuclear watchdog policing the deal show.
But the breaches have been enough to prompt the European signatories to the deal to trigger its dispute resolution mechanism, raising the prospect of the global, United Nations sanctions that were lifted under the deal being reinstated.
WHAT HAS IRAN DONE?
Iran has contravened many of the deal’s core restrictions, but has said it will continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and its inspectors. The deal has imposed on Iran the most intrusive nuclear verification regime of any country, and it has not backed out of that yet.
* Enriched uranium – The deal limits Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium to 202.8 kg – less than half the amount it was producing per quarter before its accord with world powers, and a small fraction of the tonnes it possessed. This was the first of Iran’s breaches last year, verified by the IAEA on July 1. The last quarterly IAEA report in November said the stockpile stood at 372.3 kg. It will have continued to increase since then.
* Enrichment level – The deal caps the fissile purity to which Iran can refine uranium to at 3.67%, far below the 20% it was achieving before the deal and the 90% that is weapons-grade. Iran breached that cap on July 8. Since then, however, its enrichment level has remained steady at up to 4.5%.
* Centrifuges – The deal only allows Iran to produce enriched uranium with about 5,000 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at its Natanz plant. It can operate small numbers of more advanced – faster-producing, more durable and efficient – models there without accumulating enriched uranium. Iran had roughly 19,000 installed centrifuges before the deal.
The IAEA verified on Sept. 25 that Iran had begun enriching with advanced centrifuges, but in much smaller numbers than the IR-1s. Iran has brought online two 164-machine cascades of centrifuges that were dismantled under the deal, and installed smaller clusters of other models. As those come online, its production of enriched uranium is likely to increase.
The Islamic Republic has yet to breach the cap on IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz.
* Fordow – The deal bans enrichment at Fordow, a site that Iran secretly built inside a mountain and was exposed by Western intelligence services in 2009. Centrifuges are allowed there for other purposes, like producing stable isotopes here Iran began enriching there on Nov. 9 but only with a small number of IR-1s.
HOW CLOSE IS IRAN TO HAVING A BOMB NOW?
The breaches have eaten into the breakout time slightly, but estimates of the current breakout time vary. Many diplomats and nuclear experts also believe the starting point of one year is a conservative estimate.
A European diplomat who previously put the breakout time at 12 months declined to offer an estimate but said Iran’s actions were now “having a serious impact”.
Another diplomat pointed to a statement by France’s foreign minister last week that it would take Iran one to two years to get a bomb, though it was not clear if that meant the necessary fissile material or an actual weapon.
David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and a hawk on Iran, said Tehran could within five to 10 months amass 900 kg of uranium enriched to 4.5% at its current rate. That amount, if further refined, could yield the 25 kg of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium needed for one nuclear bomb.
WHAT MORE WOULD IRAN NEED TO DO?
Even if Iran had accumulated sufficient fissile material, it would need to assemble a bomb, probably one small enough to be carried by its ballistic missiles. How long that would take exactly is unclear, but stockpiling enough fissile material is widely seen as the biggest hurdle in producing a weapon.
Both U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran once had a nuclear weapons program that it halted. There is evidence suggesting Iran obtained a design for a nuclear weapon and carried out various types of work relevant to making one.
U.S. intelligence experts, however, believe Iran has yet to demonstrate an intention to shatter the 2015 deal, three U.S. government sources said, noting Tehran continues to grant the IAEA access to its declared nuclear facilities.
Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris, Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay in Washington, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Pro-gun activists threaten to kill state lawmaker over bill they misunderstood
Virginia state legislator Lee Carter wrote a bill to allow teachers to strike. Pro-gun activists wrongly concluded it threatens their rights
January 17, 2020
by Lois Beckett
The Guardian
Virginia’s only socialist state legislator said he has been the target of multiple death threats over a bill that pro-gun activists misinterpreted as a potential threat to their rights.
The legislation introduced by Lee Carter, a 32-year-old Bernie Sanders-endorsed socialist, would allow public school teachers to strike without being fired, and has in fact nothing to do with guns. But some gun rights activists wrongly interpreted it as an attempt to fire law enforcement officials who might refuse to comply with gun control laws introduced by Virginia’s new Democratic legislative majority.
The result, Carter said, has been a torrent of threats and abuse on social media, from promises to vote him out of office, to claims that “this is tyranny and you know what we do to tyrants,” to explicit threats of murder, like, “I’m going to make sure you don’t live through this legislative session” or “I’m going to kill this guy, y’all make sure you don’t forget my name.”
Carter, says he has been so concerned about the death threats that he has started openly carrying a handgun to protect himself.
On Monday, when tens of thousands of gun rights activists will converge on the state capitol in Richmond for what is expected to be a volatile demonstration against the new gun control bills introduced by Virginia Democrats, Carter said that he plans to be in hiding, at an undisclosed location, concerned that he might be a target of violence even in his own home.
Among the threats against him, Carter said, there had been frequent mentions of Monday’s pro-gun protest, “and a lot of people saying, ‘We’re going to kick off the second American civil war. This guy is going to be the first one to die. Make sure you show up armed.”
Carter said he had reported a handful of what seemed to be the most serious social media threats to Virginia’s capitol police.
The Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, declared a state of emergency on Wednesday in advance of Monday’s pro-gun rally, citing law enforcement intelligence that armed anti-government activists were traveling from other states to join the rally, some of them with the goal of “violence, rioting and insurrection”.
Carter, who was re-elected to Virginia’s general assembly this November, said that the legislation that had led to death threats against him had originally been introduced last year. It was designed to repeal current Virginia law, which bars all public employees from striking, a policy that has been on the books since at least the 1950s, he said.
Public school teachers in other states have used strikes “to successfully raise the alarm about the conditions that they are teaching kids in”, Carter said. As a supporter of workers’ rights, he said, he wanted to make it possible for Virginia’s teachers to strike without being fired.
His original bill did not even get a hearing last year, he said, in part because his fellow lawmakers were concerned about the possibility of strikes by police officers undermining public safety. So he re-wrote the bill language, allowing all public employees except law enforcement officials to strike without penalty, and re-introduced it for the 2020 legislative session.
But when some gun rights activists read the bill, they claimed it meant something entirely different. Carter’s bill to allow teacher strikes was written into a broader narrative “that spread like wildfire within the conspiracy-minded parts of the rightwing internet”, he said, claiming that the state’s Democratic governor was working to confiscate Virginians’ guns, and that his new legislation was designed “to fire cops who don’t confiscate guns”.
That conspiracy theory relied upon a basic misreading of the bill text, which in fact kept longtime Virginia law intact for law enforcement officers, and created a new exemption for other public employees.
While a gun rights YouTube channel had appeared to be central to spreading the misreading of his bill to a wide audience, Carter said that some of the misinformation about his bill appeared to be fueled by police unions, and even by a fellow Republican state lawmaker – all people, he said, who should be able to accurately read legislation.
A longtime gun owner and marine veteran himself, Carter said he has never introduced any legislation related to guns, and that he considers himself a moderate when it comes to gun laws – supportive of universal background checks, for instance, but skeptical of an assault weapons ban.
“I got re-elected without saying the word gun once,” Carter said.
That was not the case for some of Virginia’s Democratic politicians, who had campaigned on gun violence prevention as a central issue in November’s elections. After Democrats won full control of the state government for the first time in 26 years, Virginia’s Democratic governor announced that passing gun control laws, including an assault weapons ban, would be a top priority.
Carter said he saw this choice as a “terrible idea”, one that played directly into conspiracy theories that have circulated in rightwing groups for decades. The draft legislation for a Virginia assault weapons ban, which was originally written to include a ban on the possession of military-style weapons, sparked fears of confiscation among Virginia’s gun owners, and helped fuel a passionate grassroots movement against gun control across the state.
“[The extreme right] has been saying for years that an assault weapon ban is going to be their excuse to start killing people,” Carter said. “I tried to have this conversation with my colleagues, but, frankly, a lot of my colleagues don’t want to believe that that’s out there.”
“I won’t even say it’s like a landmine, because a landmine you can’t see. There’s a big button on the ground that says, ‘If you step here, it will explode’ and Democrats just stomped on it, because they didn’t want to believe that it exists.”
Instead, he said, he believed Democrats had an “head in the sand” mentality, he said, “that we can enact this policy, and that it will be fine”.
“Their faith in institutions is so strong that they refuse to believe it’s not shared by everyone.”
While Carter has previously kept guns for self-defense in his home, he said he has never before regularly carried a gun in public. Now, he said, he will be continuing to monitor internet chatter, and showing up armed to public events when he believes there might be heightened risk of an attack.
“I am having to take steps to protect myself and protect my family,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten to this point.”

Two arrested after attempt to sell 12 billion passwords
The website purported to give access to stolen data from 10,000 data breaches, giving hackers easy access to user credentials. The police operation tracking the cybercrime involved the UK, US, Netherlands and Germany.
January 17, 2020
DW
Two men were arrested in the Netherlands and Northern Ireland under suspicion of trying to sell 12 billion usernames and passwords online, Dutch police said on Friday.
The website, WeLeakInfo.com, was later shut down by the FBI.
A 22-year-old man was arrested in the eastern Dutch city of Arnhem after police received a tip from a Dutch cybercrime unit working with Britain’s National Crime Agency, the FBI and German police
A second suspect, also 22, was nabbed in Northern Ireland. Police raided two homes in Arnhem, including that of the suspect, and found professional equipment that allowed him to sell the data via the website “We Leak Info.”
Investigators found their way to the suspects by tracing payments back to an IP address believed to have been used by the two men, according to a statement issued by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
Stolen data for sale
While there was no specific information about the suspect arrested in Northern Ireland, Dutch police said that the suspect found during the raids in Arnhem is thought to have played a “facilitating role” in the data hacking scheme.
The investigation began in August of last year, and the usernames and passwords offered for sale and were used in cyber attacks in the UK, Germany and the US.
The website purported to offer unlimited access to all data listed on its site for $2 (€1,80) per day, or $25 per month, according to Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
While the site claimed to help users discover if their personal information had been stolen, it actually provided hackers easy access to “information illegally obtained in over 10,000 data breaches containing over 12 billion indexed records,” said the US Department of Justice in a statement.
The NCA said that the stolen credentials were taken from around 10,000 separate data breaches, on popular sites such as LinkedIn and MyFitnessPal. The suspects were also believed to have made over £200,000 (€234,000)($261,000) from data sales on the site.
Since the site was shut down, the homepage displays a disclaimer saying “This domain has been seized” with the logos of several law enforcement organizations

The Navy Has Secret Classified Video of an Infamous UFO Incident
A records request shows the Pentagon has “discovered certain briefing slides that are classified TOP SECRET” and a “video classified SECRET.”
January 10, 2020
by MJ Banias
VICE
The Pentagon has Top Secret-classified briefings and a Secret-classified video about an infamous UFO incident, the U.S. Navy said in response to a public records request.
The files concern the 2004 encounter between the USS Nimitz and a with strange unknown aerial objects. In 2017 and 2018, three videos of bizarre aircraft taken by Navy pilots from their fighter planes made national news. In December 2017, The New York Times ran a story about Navy pilots who intercepted a strange object off the coast of San Diego on November 14th, 2004, and managed to shoot video of the object with their F-18’s gun camera. In September of 2019, Motherboard reported that the Navy confirmed the videos contained footage of “unknown aerial phenomena.”
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request sent by researcher Christian Lambright seeking more information on the incident, the Navy said it had “discovered certain briefing slides that are classified TOP SECRET. A review of these materials indicates that are currently and appropriate Marked and Classified TOP SECRET under Executive Order 13526, and the Original Classification Authority has determined that the release of these materials would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.”
“We have also determined that ONI possesses a video classified SECRET that ONI is not the Original Classification Authority for,” the letter continued.
Motherboard independently verified the FOIA response with the U.S. Navy.
“The Department of Defense, specifically the U.S. Navy, has the video. As Navy and my office have stated previously, as the investigation of UAP sightings is ongoing, we will not publicly discuss individual sighting reports/observations,” Susan Gough, a Pentagon spokesperson, told Motherboard. “However, I can tell you that the date of the 2004 USS Nimitz video is Nov. 14, 2004. I can also tell you that the length of the video that’s been circulating since 2007 is the same as the length of the source video. We do not expect to release this video.”
Gough was not able to comment on the briefing slides, and when asked if the source video held by the Navy was a higher resolution, contained audio, or other data, she stated she was unable to provide any additional information.
Many in the UFO research community have speculated that it could be the enigmatic ‘Grailian’ full length raw copy of the original 2004 UAP footage. Popular Mechanics reported in November that several original witnesses of the Nimitz incident allegedly saw a longer higher resolution video of the UFO encounter. Gary Voorhis, a Petty Officer who served on the Princeton, a ship in Nimitz fleet, told Popular Mechanics that he “definitely saw video that was roughly 8 to 10 minutes long and a lot more clear.” Others, such as Commander David Fravor, have stated that longer videos of the incident probably do not exist.
Luis Elizondo, the former Pentagon staffer and the man who played a key role in making the Navy video public, told Motherboard that straightforward messaging does not seem to be the Pentagon’s strong suit. When the New York Times ran its 2017 story concerning the Nimitz UFO incident, it also broke the existence of $22 million dollar UFO investigation program called AATIP, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, and that Elizondo, a career intelligence officer, ran the project. The Pentagon has repeatedly changed its story since then; as recently as last month, the Pentagon said that AATIP had nothing to do with UFOs.
“The Pentagon has a long history of sometimes providing inaccurate information to the American people,” Elizondo said. “This is true as recently as this week regarding the draft memo involving Iran, and two weeks ago when the press finally received the truth about Afghanistan despite 18 years of statements to the contrary.”
“As in the case involving UAPs, I can only hope that the inconsistent message is due to the benign results of a large and cumbersome bureaucracy and not something more nefarious like a cover-up or deliberate misinformation campaign,” Elizondo added.
Elizondo, who resigned from the Pentagon in 2017, said that he is “not able to comment further on the existence of a longer video due to my obligations involving my NDA with the Government and the fact that I am no longer employed with the U.S. Government. However, as I stated before, people should not be surprised by the revelation that other videos exist and at greater length”

US states sue Trump administration over drastic cuts to food stamp program
13 states file lawsuit over new measure they say could disqualify nearly 700,000 from federal food assistance
January 17, 2020
by Kenya Evelyn in New York
The Guardian
A coalition of 13 states, New York City and Washington DC are suing the Trump administration over new restrictions for food stamp benefits for unemployed Americans – a measure they say could disqualify nearly 700,000 from federal food assistance.
The new rule, introduced in December, would eliminate states’ discretion to waive work requirements in distressed economic areas, saving the federal government $5.5bn in spending over five years.
The lawsuit is the latest pushback by Democratic states against the Trump administration, as opponents criticize the president for what they say are proposed changes that target the poor, unemployed and those in large metropolitan areas.
In the suit, filed Thursday, states say that by limiting their discretion, the new rule would actually terminate “essential food assistance for benefits recipients who live in areas with insufficient jobs”.
The coalition includes states like Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota and more areas hit hard by economic decline and job scarcity. The suit claims cuts to food stamps benefits, known as the Snap program, would burden states with new administrative and economic costs from “the negative health effects of malnutrition and instability”.
They argue the administration adopted the cuts despite no evidence of a need, or any research on current labor market conditions – potentially affecting 688,000 to 850,000 adults without children.
“States are in the best position to evaluate local economic circumstances and to determine where there are insufficient job opportunities such that work requirements would be ineffective,” the suit says.
In December, agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue insisted the new restrictions would begin the “groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them”.
“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” he said.
New York attorney general Letitia James and District of Columbia attorney general Karl Racine co-lead the lawsuit. In a statement, James said restrictions to Snap benefits would push “already vulnerable Americans into greater economic uncertainty”.
“The federal government’s latest assault on vulnerable individuals is cruel to its core,” he said.
The Snap program, first launched in 1977, uses federal dollars to provide millions of low-income Americans with food assistance, aimed at reducing food insecurity. States operate the program, splitting the cost of administering it with the federal government. The federal government pays the full cost of Snap benefits to recipients.
James adds that the restrictions will force states “to grapple with rising healthcare and homelessness costs” that could result from a “shortsighted and ill-conceived policy”.
The new restrictions were first announced as Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, a federal relief for distressed farmers, that included stricter work requirements. Those requirements were ultimately dropped.

Talking in Tongues’ for Fun and Profit.
by Cyril Blakeley, DD
The Christian Journal
January 16, 2020
The Pentecostals are a Christian cult that seriously believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but differ from fundamentalists and other evangelical Christian denominations by practicing exorcism, speaking in tongues, faith healing, and, in general, seeking supernatural experiences. Some of the better known Pentecostal denominations are Assemblies of God and the United Pentecostal Church.
Most consider the father of Pentecostalism to be Charles Parham, a young college student from Kansas with roots in the Methodist Church. While the Wesleys (John and Charles) could not be defined as Pentecostals, their theology laid the foundation upon which the Pentecostal movement would be built. Principally, it was the Methodist view that sanctification was a second work of grace, separate from salvation, coupled with the Holiness belief of a third experience, the “Baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire,” that intrigued Parham. Parham was also influenced by a fresh desire within his denominational circles to experience divine healing and speaking in tongues — practices that most Christians at the end of the nineteenth century believed had ceased with the apostolic age.
The Pentecostals created the theory of Rapture and the Tribulations, based on strained and improbable misinterpretation of Biblical verses and cobbled together a very irrational dogma that spoke of elevations to some kind of Paradise for cult members, the fictional Battle of Aramageddon, the return of Jesus Christ and other interesting but totally unfounded myths and legends.
In 1900, Parham opened a Bible college to promote these views, which he deemed “Apostolic Faith” theology. An interesting footnote is Parham’s theory that God would soon give His church the gift of tongues, in the form of known languages, so that the world could be quickly evangelized.
This end–time revival, accompanied by believers speaking in known languages they had never learned (xenolivia), would bring to an end the church age and bring back a triumphant Christ. Later, this theory proved untenable because most of the congregations could barely speak English, let alone other languages, and a more plausible new theory was invented that alleged the ecstatic speeches were actually unknown languages.
In point of fact, recordings of Pentecostals engaged in tongue talking were played to a number of language specialists and all of them stated, without disagreement, that the speech was not connected to any known language and was, in essence, nonsense.
This sort of behavior is known as religious mania and has been seen in societies for millennia. The Middle Ages saw the Dancing Mania and a large number of religious outbreaks of a similar nature. Pentecostals now forbid any recording of their verbal utterances while in the throes of ecstatic “experiences” because their leadership is well aware that “Talking in Tongues” is a psychological manifestation, not a religious one.
While Parham and his followers would not be the first modern day Christians to “speak in tongues” (that dubious honor apparently goes to W. F. Bryant and his disciples in 1896, who later formed the Church of God in Tennessee), Parham was the first to claim that “speaking in tongues” is the initial ‘evidence’ of “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” It was at a New Year’s Eve watchnight service in 1900 that Agnes Ozman, one of Parham’s students, finally “spoke in tongues”. Before the week was over, about half of the 34 members of the school, including Parham, had “spoken in tongues”.
In 1905 Parham opened a Bible school in Texas and began publishing a newspaper entitled The Apostolic Faith. Out of this Bible school came a major figure in the Pentecostal movement, William J. Seymour, a southern black Holiness preacher. Seymour soon moved to Los Angeles, where he led a revival at what was locally called the Azusa Street Mission. It was here that a Los Angeles Times reporter wrote that “colored people and a sprinkling of whites practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories, and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal”
Regardless of such criticism, by September 1906 the church reported about 13,000 people had received the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Although Seymour would seldom preach, meetings would often begin at 10:00 A.M. and continue until two or three the following morning.
Between 1906 and 1909, several thousand persons visited Azusa Street But while the Azusa Street Revival weathered the external storm of criticism, it soon began to unravel internally. Perhaps the handwriting was on the wall as early as October 1906, when Parham came to preach. He was shocked by many manifestations being portrayed as from the Holy Spirit, but were really, he believed, of the flesh or demonic. Parham and Seymour split and never reconciled. Seymour, from that time forward, eclipsed Parham as the dominant personality in the movement.
The fledgling cult was also beset with heightened racial tension. In the early months of Azusa Street, blacks and whites, men and women, shared leadership, although blacks were predominate. But soon Seymour asked all the Hispanics to leave, and eventually wrote by-laws that prevented anyone except African-Americans from holding office in the Pentecostal Mission. By 1909, the revival movement was spent, and the mission building was torn down after Seymour’s death.
Comment: It should come as no surprise to discover that the Pentecostal, and other pseudo-religious, cults are the strongest supporters of Donald Trump who himself has been known to talk in tongues.

The Grand Canyon Lunacy
The great majority of Pentecostal Christians believe that the world is only 6,000 years old; was created, literally, in six days; that dinosaurs and men occupied the earth at the same time; that all species originated within the six-day period.
Paleontology is considered a sacrilegious invention of what Pentecostals call Secular Humanists and the dinosaur and fossil remains on display in major museums around the world are only plastic fabrications made up by a firm in Los Angeles (Skullduggery) by other Secular Humanists.
President Donald Trump is a firm believer in what is called Creationism and supports it completely.
Pentecostals have been attempting for years to remove the teachings of Darwin, and geneticist Gregor Mendel, from all public schools and force their replacement by Creationism.
Although Darwin’s theories have minor flaws, nevertheless, they are paragons of commonsense compared with the religious beliefs of the Pentecostals, most of whom believe in such entertaining and novel fictions as ‘Rapture’ or the physical elevation to what Pentecostals believe is Heaven, the great flood of Noah which deposited his ark on Mt. Ararat at 5000 feet (but cannot explain where all the water disappeared to), the second coming of Jesus Christ and the subsequent destruction of any and all global occupants who are not Pentecostals.
The following discussion represents the views of the Pentecostals about objections to one of their “early earth” legends as portrayed in a book by one of their number that claims, among other strange things, that the famous Grand Canyon was caused by Noah’s Flood! This weird conglomeration of various beliefs was added to the science section of a Federally controlled book store at the Canyon, certainly with support from “faith based” elements in Washington.
The second part of this study is a response by a legitimate scientist with an analysis of the background of the book’s producer.
This book was produced by a Pentecostal group calling itself the “Institute for Creation Research” which has the following article on its website. Unfortunately for those who enjoy such things, the ICR has forbidden any copying of their publications so the following article is only quoted briefly.
Reviewing a published work and including a number of quotes is entirely legal but considering the amount of noise Pentecostals make in forcing their unsupportable theses on everyone in sight, it is strange that they do not want their opinions better broadcast. Or perhaps they are dimly aware that their extreme and eccentric views are very often held in amused contempt by the more rational of the reading public.
In an article appearing on the ICR (Institute for Creation Research, “A Christ-Focused Creation Ministry”) website, Bill Hoesch who holds an ICR MS in Geology, comments on a new Pentecostal book, also published by the ICR, entitled Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail. The review is entitled A Clash of Worldviews and begins:
“Naturalistic science makes certain truth claims about earth history. Holy Scripture also makes truth claims about earth history. At times they clash in a way that is highly visible. A case in point is the paroxysm of outrage over the book, Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail.”
The work in question consists of brief studies from 23 Christian scientists (an oxymoronic statement if there ever was one) who present their views on the origin of the rocks and the gorge of the Grand Canyon. Many of these studies question, based entirely on their own brand of science, the “validity of ‘isotopically-derived ages” currently credited to Grand Canyon geological formations. Some studies claim that the canyon was formed by a “global flood” a la Noah and other views argue for “a recent and sudden formation of the canyon itself.” All of these studies are openly expressed creationist beliefs about the geological history of the earth.
Mr. Hoesch comments on the fact that a number of prominent scientific organizations have protested the inclusion of this book in the Grand Canyon book shop and especially its placement in the science area. A Washington, DC non-profit group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility have stated that this book is part of a Presidential program to make the National Park System faith based.

Christianization of the Republican Party: In Their Own Words

Christianization of the Republican Party, an article from the The Christian Statesman, claims,
“Once dismissed as a small regional movement, Christian conservatives have become a staple of politics nearly everywhere. Christian conservatives now hold a majority of seats in 36% of all Republican Party state committees (or 18 of 50 states), plus large minorities in 81% of the rest, double their strength from a decade before.”
“The twin surges of Christians into GOP ranks in the early 1980s and early 1990s have begun to bear fruit, as naïve, idealistic recruits have transformed into savvy operatives and leaders, building organizations, winning leadership positions, fighting onto platform committees, and electing many of their own to public office.
The Christian Statesman is a publication of the National Reform Association. Who is the National Reform Association?
“The mission of the National Reform Association is to maintain and promote in our national life the Christian principles of civil government, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
“Jesus Christ is Lord in all aspects of life, including civil government.
“Jesus Christ is, therefore, the Ruler of Nations, and should be explicitly confessed as such in any constitutional documents. The civil ruler is to be a servant of God, he derives his authority from God and he is duty-bound to govern according to the expressed will of God.
“The civil government of our nation, its laws, institutions, and practices must therefore be conformed to the principles of Biblical law as revealed in the Old and New Testaments.”

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas
Preface

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.

To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 60

The sky was overcast, hinting at possible snow, and it was getting dark when the van stopped in the cobbled courtyard. As they parked in front of the garage, the outside lights came on suddenly. The security lights worked on a sensor that automatically turned them on when a certain level of darkness had been reached and turned them off again when it became light in the morning.
Chuck pressed the control for the garage door and as it slid up, opened the door of the van.
“Here we are at last, kids. Let’s try to make this easy. I don’t want to unload inside the garage so if you folks will take all the packages from the back into the house, I will put the van away when it’s empty.”
Their damaged passenger woke up while the van was being emptied of its contents. He looked up at the house.
“Is this a hotel or something?”
Everyone else was either in the house or carrying packages out of the back. Chuck heard the question and slid the side doors of the van open.
“Yes, here we are, Alexander. No, this is not a hotel, it’s a house.”
“Wow, it’s pretty big.”
“Big enough,” Chuck said as he stepped up into the van.
“You want me to come inside?”
“No, you can sleep in the van tonight.”
“OK.”
“I’m indulging my sick humor, as Gwen calls it. Of course you come inside. Can you stand up?”
“Sure,” and he threw the blanket back and sat up. The ice bag had fallen onto the floor and he picked it up. The ice had melted and it sloshed like a rotten liver.
“Here,” Chuck said, standing between the seats, “stand up and I’ll give you a hand.”
The boy got up, wincing as he put his feet on the floor.
“Ankle hurts?”
“Yeah. Fatass Ernie dropped me when your buddy whacked him and I think I sprained something.”
Chuck leaned over and hoisted Alex up in his arms. The startled invalid had no idea what was happening and he stiffened.
“Relax boy. I’ll carry you inside.”
“I can walk, man. I’m not a cripple you know.”
“It’s easier this way. Otherwise you would have to hop around and I’d have to hold you up anyway. Relax, put your arm around my neck and we can have a nice ride into the house.”
“Man, I feel like a fool,” he said as Chuck carried him up the flagged front steps.
“I’ll tell you a joke, Alexander the Great. This guy asked his girl friend to put her hand into his pants pocket. She said, ‘Oh honey, I feel like a fool.’ Do you know what he said?”
“No but I bet you’ll tell me, won’t you?”
The boy smelled very musty at close quarters, reminding Chuck of a badly ventilated gym.
“You win the bet. He said,’ If you put your hand down deeper, you’ll feel nuts.'”
The boy began to laugh in a cracking voice.
“That’s sick.”
“No, it isn’t. When you get better, I’ll tell you some really sick jokes.”
“Like?”
“‘Bobby, if you can’t keep your hands off your little sister, Mommie will have to close the coffin.'”
There was more nasal laughter as Chuck shoved the heavy door shut with a backward thrusting foot.
“See, that’s a sick joke.”
Claude had the first guest suite in the west wing and Chuck carried the laughing punching bag down to the second. Gwen was inside making up the big bed and Lars had stacked split oak logs in the fireplace grill. Setting the boy down in an armchair, Chuck went back outside and put the van in the garage.
When he got back, Gwen had finished with her domestic duties and the bed was ready.
“When you get done, Chuck, come on into the living room. I have something for you.”
“Right, love. Thanks for the help with the bed. And now, dude, you take a shower in your nice bathroom, put on some pajamas and get some sleep. Unless you’re hungry and want me to get you some food.”
“Man, I can’t eat anything else. That cheeseburger was plenty.”
“At your age?”
“They never fed me much at home and a cheeseburger is a real dinner for me.”
“Well, we’ll take care of that later. Go into the bathroom, take off all your clothes and I’ll put a chair in the shower for you. Just sit down, turn on the water and have a good wash up. The hot water ought to be good for you.”
“Do I have to take off my clothes?”
“If you take a shower, you do. Do you take down your pants when you crap?”
“I mean do I have to take off my clothes with you here?”
“I see. You’re deformed. You have green fur all over your ass and tentacles growing out of your stomach?”
“No…I mean…”
“Look, see, this is the chair. It’s plastic so it won’t get damaged by the nice water. I am going to put this in the shower and then you can go into the bathroom, take off your clothes and get into the shower. Sit down on the nice chair so you don’t put weight on your ankle. The door locks on the inside so you will be safe from prying eyes. Does that satisfy your modesty?”
“Sure. OK. I mean I’m not trying to insult you but I don’t even like to take showers during gym period.”
“I know. I was bony just like you when I was your age and I didn’t like to shower with other people either. Look, just take care of business and we can talk later. Oh yes, put your clothes out in front of the door to your room and they’ll get washed.”
There was a bar of soap in the shower dish and a stack of thick, terrycloth towels stacked on the toilet seat. Alex took one shower a week at home and his towel was more like a dishrag. He looked around the bathroom in disbelief and then sat down on the toilet and began to take off his scuffed athletic shoes.
Gwen had set her gifts around the tree when Chuck came into the hall.
Claude was in the kitchen soaking his right hand in cold water and Lars was peering into the frigid depths of the huge refrigerator.
“How’s he doing?” Gwen asked as Chuck dropped into an armchair.
“Oh he’s doing fine. It just occurred to me that he doesn’t have anything to wear to bed. You’re about his size. Got anything he could use?”
“An extra set of PJs. But I don’t know if the top would fit.”
“Point taken. Lars, have you got a sweater we could borrow? Not a new one.”
“I got that brown one but it’s a little small.”
Lars came into the main hall and eyed the pile of gifts.
“Anything in there for me?”
“Yes, donkey boy.” Gwen said. ” I got some sexy underwear just for you. Go get a sweater like a good mini-stud.”
“Mini? That means small, doesn’t it?”
“I was thinking of your brain, lover. Be a sweetie and get us a sweater. OK?”
“Sure. What kind of sexy underwear?”
“You can model it for us when you get back.”
“I can?”
“Yes,” Chuck said from the depths of his chair, “we could all use a good laugh.”
The sweater and a pair of bright yellow pajama bottoms were put on Alex’s bed and Gwen rapped on the bathroom door. A voice echoed over the sound of splashing water.
“Yeah?”
“Can you hear me, sweetie?”
“Don’t come in.”
“No, I’m not coming in. I put something for you to wear on the bed. Do you want something to eat?”
“Can I get a Coke?”
“I’ll see about that. I’m closing the bedroom door behind me so you won’t catch cold. I’ll light a fire for you and the room ought to warm up right away.”
There was a small pile of clothes by the door and she picked them up and held them at arm’s length as she walked into the laundry room.
“He’s still in the shower,” she said when she got back to the main hall.
Lars had found the underwear and was staring at it.
“You expect me to wear these?”
“Sure, hot lips. Why don’t you model them for us?”
Lars started to take off his pants and everyone laughed.
“Not out here, asshole,” Chuck said, “Put the stuff on upstairs if you feel like it and then make a grand entrance down the staircase.”
The book on Della Robbia was something of pleasure for Claude and he poked around inside his leather vanity case pulling out scissors, files and containers for various bathroom objects.
Chuck was delighted with the Gibbons and started looking through the first volume when Gwen began to laugh loudly.
Lars had actually put on the tiny briefs and was mincing down the steps, waving his arms around like a distressed florist. Everyone joined in the good humor.
“You shouldn’t wear those things in public, Lars,” Claude remarked as he stuck a piece of paper in his art book to mark his place. “No, you need something like an airport windsock to take care of your funstick.”
Lars was showing off and enjoying himself greatly.
“There was a white one but you could see right through it.”
“Yes, we must be modest. Gwen, that’s a really gross Christmas present.”
“I think it looks nice on him, Chuck.”
“That’s a matter of opinion, dear. Couldn’t you have gotten him a nice picture of the infant Jesus? This is Christmas, love, not show and tell on Fire Island.”
“What’s that?” Gwen asked as Claude roared. He had been there once and wondered whether or not Chuck had made this observation from personal experience. In truth, Chuck had read about the Long Island outdoor male bathhouse in a New York ‘Times’ article and, like the Bourbons, he forgot nothing.
Dinner was informal. Chuck was tired and no one especially felt like getting dressed for the occasion so they sat in the kitchen and ate hamburgers, potato salad and drank an excellent German imported beer. Chuck had bought a keg of it at a prohibitive price and kept it in the large refrigerator in the garage.
They spent most of the meal discussing the events of the day in general and their guest in particular.
It was generally agreed that they had no choice but to keep the boy around, at least until it was determined what the fate of his assailant was. If he had no place to go and wanted to stay on, it was decided without any argument that he could.
Chuck was just starting to grill the second round of beef patties when the subject of their discussion appeared in the kitchen door.
The yellow pajama pants were short and the sweater was large but at least they were clean and intact, unlike his clothes which were now in the dryer. Gwen had remarked that everything was about to fall apart and probably hadn’t been washed since the Clinton administration.
“I thought I wasn’t hungry but something smells real good.”
Chuck got another chair and set it at the large kitchen table.
“Plenty for all, Alexander. Hop on over here and sit down. Would you like a beer?”
“Chuck!” Gwen was shocked but Claude laughed at her.
“Oh, come on now, Mary Poppins, the kid would probably love a nice beer, which, by the way, this happens to be. Do you want a beer, man?”
Alex had made it to the table, sat down gingerly on the edge of his chair and nodded.
“I’ve had beer before.”
“Fine,” Chuck said, making another patty, “and what do you want on your burger?”
“I don’t know. Tomato, onion, lettuce….. whatever you want.”
“Hey Charlie, how about some secret sauce? Like the commercial?”
Chuck shook his head.
“We don’t have secret sauce, Claude. Everyone knows that’s bull semen anyway.”
“Oh shit no, Charlie, everyone knows it’s kangaroo come. Broads were getting knocked up eating that secret sauce. Besides, those fast food places don’t use beef at all. They use kangaroo meat mixed with soy beans. Or they bought up all those cows from England that had Crazy Cow disease at three cents on the pound and made millions. That’s why so many people are falling apart today, all over America.”
Alex found this by-play much better than being threatened with an orphanage or a sale to Arabs and he laughed.
“I don’t think I want any secret sauce, Chuck. Catsup and mustard is good.”
“Are good, Alexander. Catsup and mustard are good. Plural.”
Gwen shook her head.
“That’s Chuck the school teacher. Leave the boy alone with your goddam grammar. He probably went to public school and if he did, he’s illiterate.”
“Like you.”
“Oh, I used to be illiterate but I’m not now. You know, Alex, when I came here from the brides-by-mail college, I couldn’t even tell time but now, I’m going to be a brain surgeon. And it’s all due to Chuck’s teaching me nice things. You like to show people nice things, don’t you Charlie? Charlie is king of water sports, Alex but that’s a class you can’t join because you’re not the right sex.”
Chuck flipped the grilling meat.
“Alex, don’t believe a word she says. I never got her from the brides-by-mail college but I did get her out of a Salvation Army shop for less than two dollars. It was either her for one seventy-five or a lemon squeezer for three bucks so I chose Gwen. I figured she could squeeze lemons, oranges and wherever else she wanted and there was still money left over for a used ‘National Geographic’ with all kinds of nice animal pictures.”
“Animal pictures?” said Lars. “You mean naked black ladies with huge hooters.”
“They don’t do those anymore, Eric. It’s not politically correct. They just show cute little animals and thunderstorms. People stopped reading the ‘Geographic’ when they dropped the hooter pictures. Why half of male America was introduced to the concept of large hooters via the pages of the ‘Geographic.'”
Alex now began to laugh until tears ran out of his good eye and tried to from the swollen one. He had never heard such delightful conversation from adults before, especially at any kind of a meal in his house. These meals, unlike the one he was having now, were Spartan in the extreme. He usually ate whatever his mother bothered to put into the microwave before she and Ernie went out bowling and the only conversation was short and brutal.
“Clean up your mess, asshole, or you can sleep in the car again.” Ernie would say while tenderly oiling his bowling ball. He and Alex’s mother would eat steak after their games while Alex had to do with reheated squash or a pleasant mixture of the contents of various plastic dishes from the freezer. He had such interesting combinations as beef Stroganoff powdered mix combined with leftover lime Jell-O and red cabbage, all heated up in a bowl and served with a delicious glass of nutritious elderly milk that tasted more like liquid yogurt than milk or better still, lukewarm water straight from the tap.
He began to cough and Claude whacked him on the back.
“Don’t choke on anything, Alex, we don’t want to have to stick your young ass in a snow bank and wait for spring to plant you with the daffodils.”
Alex merely laughed harder, little realizing that the frozen LeBec was slowly beginning to thaw in his chilly bed just outside Claude’s window.
(Continued)
This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Jill Stein
A.k.a. Tofu Palin

Jill Stein is the Massachusetts Green Party candidate and two-time U.S. Presidential candidate, poised to run again in 2020. She is also a medical doctor, which would make some of us naively think she would have something intelligent to say at least on healthcare policy. She does not.
We will refrain from commenting on Stein’s and her party’s general political stances and policy suggestions – though terribly naïve, we admit to being sympathetic to some of them. But Jill Stein is definitely a loon, and giving her actual power (little chance of that, it seems) would be a terrible idea. Now, we suspect that Stein isn’t actually antivaccine, but she is nevertheless an apologist for antivaccine views and that is sufficient to qualify her for an entry on those grounds alone. Although the Republican Party has in general clearly become the antivaccine party, there are plenty of left-leaning antivaxxers to cater to, and Stein is more than willing to do so. Though what she actually says might come across as reasonable (she famously fooled Snopes; see here for a response), those who have some experience with antivaccine conspiracy theories will quickly notice that she is a master of antivaccine dog whistling, usually hiding her antivaxxer pandering behind (largely debunked) criticisms of alleged corporate influence in the CDC and FDA.
She also panders to the anti-GMO crowd. In addition to promoting mandatory labeling, Stein has called for a moratorium on production of GMO-based foods, as well as on pesticides (how she imagines sustainable food production should take place is fortunately something she doesn’t need to explain). Her opposition to nuclear power isn’t much less silly (nuclear power plants are “weapons of mass destruction waiting to be detonated” is not an intelligent contribution to discussions on renewable energy).
Moreover, the platform of the Green Party states (or has at least stated) that “Chronic conditions are often best cured by alternative medicine [a claim utterly divorced from anything resembling reality]. We support the teaching, funding and practice of holistic health approaches and as appropriate, the use of complementary and alternative therapies such as herbal medicines, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and other healing approaches.” Stein’s response to the platform was that “[t]he Green Party platform here takes an admittedly simple position on a complex issue, and should be improved,” which is moronic: it is not a complex issue. The treatments suggested are based on pseudoscience, imagination and conspiracy theories and will lead to patients being defrauded of their time, money, health and life. Stein, an internist, should know.
Somewhat more recently, Stein has warned that WiFi signals might harm the brains of children, doubling down on the claim after some people interpreted it as a joke: “A number of scientific studies have raised red flags about possible health effects of WiFi radiation on young children. I do not have a personal opinion that WiFi is or isn’t a health issue for children. There is not enough information to know]. I do however believe in science. Scientific research should go forward and find out. Countries including Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Russia and China, have banned or restricted these technologies in schools.” Every single sentence in that quote is false, and yes, there is enough evidence to conclude.
Stein has also called for a new 9/11 investigation, although she has not declared herself a truther. Moreover, her 2016 running mate, Ajamu Baraka, has contributed to the anthology Another False Flag? Bloody Tracks from Paris to San Bernadino edited by Holocaust denier and 9/11 truther Kevin Barrett, which asserts that 9/11 was a CIA-Mossad conspiracy.
Diagnosis: To say that she is as anti-science as Trump (who has for instance explicitly endorsed antivaccine conspiracy theories) might be an exaggeration, but she bloody well comes close on certain issues. Now, we don’t really believe Stein is actually antivaccine, but she is completely spineless and morally bankrupt and willing to do anything whatsoever to gather voters, not matter how crazy or evil they might be, and is a master of dogwhistles that allow her to do so while maintaining a superficial veneer of respectability.

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