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TBR News January 29, 2019

Jan 29 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. January 29, 2019:” Throughout his career, Trump has always felt comfortable operating at or beyond the ethical boundaries that constrain typical businesses. In the 1980s, he worked with La Cosa Nostra, which controlled the New York cement trade, and later employed Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, both of whom have links to the Russian Mafia. Trump habitually refused to pay his counter parties, and if the people he burned (or any journalists) got in his way, he bullied them with threats. He also used LLCs which he created for the purpose of swindling firm who, for example, laid new carpet in one of his hotels. The vendor billed the LLC which promptly went bankrupt. This has been a favorite gambit of Trump.

Trump continually acts like a man with a great deal to hide: declining to testify to anything under oath, dangling  Presidential pardons to keep potential witnesses and former employees from incriminating him, publicly chastising his attorney general for not quashing the whole Russian investigation, and endorsing Russia’s claims that it had nothing to do with the election. (“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” he tweeted, contradicting the conclusion of every U.S. intelligence and counter-intelligence agency.) Trump’s behavior toward Russia looks exactly like that of an accessory after the fact. When, and not if, it becomes public knowledge that the President of the US is an agent of a foreign power, it would be the worst scandal in American history, far surpassing Tea Pot Dome or Watergate

The Table of Contents

  • Trump tracker: How his first two years have gone
  • Shutdown costs pegged at $3 billion as government reopens
  • US charges China’s Huawei with fraud, theft
  • U.S. spy chiefs break with Trump on many threats to U.S.
  • Trump ally Stone pleads not guilty to Russia probe charges
  • If the Army Stands With Maduro, What Is Plan B?
  • Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to open by November
  • Iran defends plan to improve missile accuracy
  • The Broken Encirclement Plan: Nato in Eastern Europe
  • Russian-run air base in northwestern Syria intercepts 3 unknown targets
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

Trump tracker: How his first two years have gone

BBC News

The first two years of the Trump White House have been eventful, to say the least. But let’s ignore the drama and instead focus on the numbers.

We’re tracking the president’s progress on his agenda and how it is received by the American public and the wider world.

And there are interesting – and surprising – comparisons with some of his predecessors.

How are his approval ratings?

Donald Trump began his term as one of the most unpopular presidents in the modern era and he remains so.

His approval rating is just 37%, according to Gallup. Presidents Barack Obama (50%), George W Bush (58%) and Bill Clinton (54%) were all higher at this point.

The only president in recent decades to have anything like Mr Trump’s low rating at this stage was, perhaps surprisingly, Ronald Reagan, who was also languishing at 37% in 1983. His numbers slowly improved after that and he went on to win a second term as president.

One upside for Mr Trump is that he still has the backing of Republican voters – 88% of them approve of his presidency. If that number stays high, it’s unlikely he’ll face a serious challenge to be the Republican candidate in 2020.

How has he run the White House?

President Trump’s administration has repeatedly been branded as chaotic and dysfunctional by his critics.

There is a long list of senior officials who have either quit, been fired or forced out of the White House – but has the turnover been worse than previous administrations?

The White House revolving door: Who’s gone?

Well, yes, it has. Research by the Brookings Institution found that 65% of his senior-ranking advisers left their job in the within the two-year mark. That’s considerably more than most of his recent predecessors.

Usually, a president’s top team sticks together for the first year and then changes a little in the second – but for Mr Trump, the departures have been fairly regular since day one.

Has he kept his campaign promises?

The lack of stability in the White House has shown when it comes to measuring Mr Trump’s success with policy.

He has had trouble delivering in areas where he’s needed to navigate the corridors of Congress, despite controlling both chambers until Democrats regained the House at the start of January.

On healthcare, for example, he failed on his promise to kill off President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which helped more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans get health cover but suffered from rising premiums.

His main legislative success was passing a major tax reform bill, which saw corporation tax was reduced from 35% to 21%. However, individual cuts for families failed to help Republicans in the mid-term elections.

His other big success was getting two new Supreme Court judges confirmed, including Brett Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual assault during his confirmation process.

Elsewhere, the president has used executive orders to meet symbolic policy goals like moving of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate agreement. He has also moved to draw down troop levels overseas, including in Afghanistan and Syria.

But overall, independent fact-checking website Politifact says that President Trump has delivered on relatively few of his campaign promises, while almost half have been blocked or dropped.

Has he delivered on immigration reforms?

Building a border wall paid for by Mexico was President Trump’s signature issue during the election campaign but it still appears unlikely to happen.

Congress has approved $1.7bn in funding for 124 miles of new and replacement barrier since Mr Trump entered the White House, but estimates for building the president’s desired wall range from from $12bn to $70bn.

In December, after criticism over the lack of progress on the wall from some conservative commentators, President Trump triggered an unprecedented 35-day partial shutdown of the US government.

He had hoped to pressure Democrats into making a deal, but he was eventually forced into reopening the government without an agreement.

The US economy lost $11bn during the five-week period but about $8bn would be recouped as employees receive back pay, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Throughout the shutdown, Mr Trump argued that the wall was needed to stem a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border”, involving “thousands of illegal immigrants”.

However, figures show that illegal border crossings have seen an overall decline since 2000.

President Trump continues to press Congress to change US immigration laws, including ending the visa lottery system and “chain migration” that gives priority to relatives of existing legal US residents.

The Supreme Court also handed him a victory in June last year, when it upheld his ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries entering the US on grounds of national security.

How has the economy fared under Trump?

During the campaign, Mr Trump vowed to create 25 million jobs over 10 years and become “the greatest jobs president… ever”.

He used to claim the actual unemployment rate was more than 40%. Now he’s America’s CEO, he’s embracing the same jobless figures he once dismissed as “phony”.

Those figures do show, though, that job creation under Mr Trump during his first two years in office fell slightly when compared to President Obama’s final two.

However, the basic trajectory of the economy under President Trump remains the same as it was under President Obama – the unemployment rate is historically low and wages are growing at a faster rate in recent months.

But there are some concerns for Mr Trump. Global economic growth is down and his decision to start a trade war with China led to retaliatory tariffs on hundreds billions of dollars of US goods.

The president has been quick to take credit for booming stock markets over the past couple of years, but they have started to wobble in recent weeks.

How are things looking for 2020?

The next presidential election may be more than 18 months away, but the campaign has already kicked off.

Encouraged by a good set of mid-term election results, the Democrats are optimistic on retaking the White House.

Several candidates have already announced that they are standing for the Democratic nomination, with the two biggest hitters being senators – Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Other potentials, like former Vice President Joe Biden, are still mulling a run.

But whoever the candidate turns out to be, the early signs are that President Trump is in for another tough battle.

A recent poll found that seven possible Democrat rivals are all outperforming the president in hypothetical head-to-he ads. While that should be taken with a pinch of salt this far out from election day, it will make Republicans feel a little nervous.

 

Shutdown costs pegged at $3 billion as government reopens

January 28, 2018

by David Morgan, Richard Cowan

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy was expected to lose $3 billion from the partial federal government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demand for border wall funding, congressional researchers said on Monday as 800,000 federal employees returned to work after 35 days without pay.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the cost of the shutdown would make the U.S. economy 0.02 percent smaller than expected in 2019. More significant effects will be felt by individual businesses and workers, particularly those who scrambled to make ends after not being paid.

Overall, the U.S. economy lost about $11 billion during the five-week period, the CBO said. It expects $8 billion to be recovered, however, as the government reopens and employees receive back pay.

The longest shutdown in U.S. history ended on Friday when Trump and Congress agreed to temporary government funding – without money for his U.S.-Mexico border wall – as the effects of the shutdown intensified across the country.

The Republican president had demanded that legislation to fund the government contain $5.7 billion for his long-promised wall. He says it is necessary to stop illegal immigration, human trafficking and drug smuggling, while Democrats call it costly and inefficient.

A committee of Republican and Democratic lawmakers have scheduled an initial meeting on Wednesday, which will be open to the public, as they try to negotiate a compromise on border security before the Feb. 15 deadline.

That session is likely to see little more than opening statements by lawmakers. Subsequent meetings could be conducted in private, where the hard bargaining would take place, several congressional aides said.

Owing to rules governing legislation in the House of Representatives requiring a 72-hour period for lawmakers to review legislation before having to vote on it, the committee might have to wrap up its work by around Feb. 10 in order to meet a Feb. 15 deadline for congressional approval.

Trump said he would be willing to shut down the government again if lawmakers do not reach a deal he finds acceptable on border security. On Sunday, he expressed skepticism such an deal could be made.

Trump has also said he might declare a national emergency to get money for the border wall. Democrats would likely challenge that in court.

WELCOMED BACK TO WORK

Democratic lawmakers said the CBO report served as a stark warning to Trump against another shutdown.

“Families across the nation are still trying to recover from a month of missing paychecks and overdue bills, but the president is already threatening a second shutdown if he doesn’t get his way,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top U.S. Democrat.

Most employees should be paid by Thursday for back wages, which one study estimated at $6 billion for all those who worked without pay or were furloughed. Contractors and businesses that relied on federal workers’ business face huge losses, although some lawmakers are pushing legislation to pay contractors back as well.

Federal workers poured out of Washington’s public transportation system on Monday. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai greeted employees in the lobby, while the Securities and Exchange Commission offered doughnuts, fruit and coffee.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday it had been unable to send investigators to 22 accidents during the shutdown, including 15 aviation accidents resulting in 21 deaths. “These 22 accidents now require investigative action,” the safety agency said, but added that evidence “may have been lost.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was reviewing five weeks of auto safety recalls that had been submitted by automakers, but has not yet begun posting them publicly.

Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Mana Rabiee and Susan Heavey; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney

 

US charges China’s Huawei with fraud, theft

The charges against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as well as its CFO Meng Wanzhou have been unveiled in two unsealed indictments. Meng faces extradition to the US after being detained in Canada last month.

January 28, 2019

DW

The United States Justice Department unsealed two indictments against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd., several of its subsidiaries and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (pictured) on Monday.

Meng was arrested in Vancouver and later released on bail in December. She faces extradition to the United States. The case strained Chinese relations with both the US and Canada.

The charges

In a 13-count indictment from prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, Huawei has been accused of misleading banks and US authorities about the relationship between Hong Kong-based shell corporation Skycom Tech and Huawei Device USA Inc. to sell equipment in Iran, a violation of US sanctions.

Prosecutors also accused Meng of committing fraud and misleading banks into believing Skycom and Huawei were separate.

In a separate case, the Justice Department unveiled a 10-count grand jury indictment in Seattle accusing Huawei of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud and obstructing justice for allegedly stealing robotic technology from T-Mobile US, whose majority shareholder is Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG. The technology, called “Tappy,” mimicked human fingers and was used to test smartphones in T-mobile’s lab in the northwestern US state of Washington.

Huawei ‘threatens’ global marketplace

During the Justice Department’s announcement of the unsealed indictments, Christopher Wray, the director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said the cases “expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions, and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace.”

He also expressed his concern about Huawei devices in US telecommunications networks.

“That kind of access could give a foreign government the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, conduct undetected espionage, or exert pressure or control.”

Who is Meng Wanzhou? She is the CFO and deputy chairwoman of Huawei Technologies as well as the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. She was detained in Vancouver at the beginning of December but was released on bail a week after her arrest. She currently is staying in one of her family’s homes in Vancouver as she awaits a decision from a Canadian court on a US extradition request.

Chinese retaliation? A week after Meng’s arrest, China arrested two Canadians, business consultant Michael Spavor and ex-diplomat Michael Korvig, for “endangering national security.” A Chinese court also overturned another Canadian drug-trafficking suspect’s 15-year jail term and sentenced him to death.

US-China trade war: The unsealed indictment comes days before US-China trade talks are scheduled to resume in Washington. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insists the Huawei cases are “wholly separate” from trade negotiations. The US imposed 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion (€170 billion) worth of Chinese goods, which caused Beijing to respond with tariffs of their own on $60 billion worth of US goods. Both sets of tariffs took effect in September 2018. In a meeting at December’s G20 summit in Argentina, US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on a 90-day stop to new tariffs.

 

U.S. spy chiefs break with Trump on many threats to U.S.

January 29, 2019

by Patricia Zengerle and  Doina Chiacu

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China and Russia pose the biggest risks to the United States and are more aligned than they have been in decades, U.S. intelligence leaders told senators on Tuesday, in testimony that repeatedly contradicted President Donald Trump’s statements on global threats.

While Beijing and Moscow seek to expand their global reach, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said, some American allies are pulling away from Washington in reaction to changing U.S. policies on security and trade.

“China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways – to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure,” Coats said. He testified with the directors of the CIA, FBI and other top intelligence officials at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual hearing on worldwide threats.

“Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is closer than it’s been in many decades,” Coats told the panel.

The intelligence chiefs’ assessments broke with some past assertions by their boss, including on the threat posed by Russia to U.S. elections and democratic institutions and North Korea’s determination to denuclearize.

Coats said North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons. Trump has said the country no longer poses a threat.

While Beijing and Moscow seek to expand their global reach, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said, some American allies are pulling away from Washington in reaction to changing U.S. policies on security and trade.

“China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways – to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure,” Coats said. He testified with the directors of the CIA, FBI and other top intelligence officials at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual hearing on worldwide threats.

“Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is closer than it’s been in many decades,” Coats told the panel.

The intelligence chiefs’ assessments broke with some past assertions by their boss, including on the threat posed by Russia to U.S. elections and democratic institutions and North Korea’s determination to denuclearize.

Coats said North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons. Trump has said the country no longer poses a threat.

Senator Richard Burr, the committee’s Republican chairman, said the government must work with private companies to foster innovation, while balancing concern about security risks. Many lawmakers have blasted technology companies over the past two years for doing too little to fight the spread of false news reports and other misinformation.

Coats said intelligence officials have been traveling around the United States and meeting with corporate executives to discuss espionage threats from China.

Tuesday’s testimony came just a day after the United States announced criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, escalating a fight with the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker and coming days before trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

Coats also said U.S. adversaries likely are already looking to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election, refining their capabilities and adding new tactics.

He said Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing politicians perceived to be anti-Russia.

Senator Mark Warner, the panel’s top Democrat, said he was particularly concerned about Russia’s use of social media “to amplify divisions in our society and to influence our democratic processes” and the threat from China in the technology arena.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is one of several congressional panels, along with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that have been investigating whether there were any connections between Trump’s 2016 and Russian efforts to influence the election.

Coats declined to respond when Democratic Senator Ron Wyden asked whether Trump’s not releasing records of his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin put U.S. intelligence agencies at a disadvantage.

“To me from an intelligence perspective, it’s just Intel 101 that it would help our country to know what Vladimir Putin discussed with Donald Trump,” Wyden said.

Trump denies colluding with Russia, and Russia denies attempting to influence U.S. elections

The intelligence officials were due to continue testifying to the committee at a classified hearing later on Tuesday.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis

 

Trump ally Stone pleads not guilty to Russia probe charges

January 29, 2019

by Sarah N. Lynch

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s longtime political ally Roger Stone pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to making false statements to Congress and other charges brought in the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

Stone, a self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” and Republican political operative for decades, also pleaded not guilty in a federal court in Washington, D.C., to obstructing an official proceeding and witness tampering.

He is the latest member of Trump’s inner circle charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and was arrested on Friday in an early-morning raid on his home in Florida.

Prosecutors say Stone told members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign that he had advance knowledge of plans by the WikiLeaks website to release damaging emails about Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded were stolen by Russia.

The indictment did not indicate whether Stone knew that Russians had stolen the emails by hacking into computers used by Clinton’s senior campaign adviser John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

Stone, 66, could face about 50 years in prison if found guilty on all the charges but he is unlikely to receive such a harsh sentence, sentencing experts say.

Stone, a Republican operative since the days of the Watergate scandal that forced his former boss President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974, smiled as he passed through a gauntlet of reporters upon arrival at the courthouse on Tuesday. A small group of protesters waved Russian flags and a placard that said “Dirty Traitor” while other people showed their support for him.

Stone had held an impromptu news conference after being released from custody after his arrest and gave interviews during the weekend but he did not speak to the media after the brief arraignment in Washington.

The charges against Stone marked the first time Mueller’s team has publicly tied the Trump campaign to WikiLeaks, and raise questions about what Trump may have known prior to the public release of the stolen emails.

Mueller last year charged 12 Russians accused in the hacking as part of his investigation of Russia’s role in the election, whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow and whether the president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the investigation.

The charging documents said a senior campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had about Clinton’s campaign but do not disclose the identity of the person who gave the order.

Stone, who is free on a $250,000 bond, has accused Mueller of “a raw abuse of power.”

Trump has called the investigation a witch hunt and denied any collusion. Russia has denied U.S. intelligence community’s finding that Moscow interfered in the U.S. political arena.

Thirty-four people have been swept up in the Mueller investigation. Those charged include Trump’s former campaign chairman and deputy campaign chairman, former national security adviser and his former personal lawyer.

It remains unclear whether any further charges have been filed. Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Monday said Mueller’s investigation was close to wrapping up and that a report was expected soon. A

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Will Dunham and Bill Trott

 

If the Army Stands With Maduro, What Is Plan B?

January 29, 2019

by Patrick J. Buchanan

“Pay the soldiers. The rest do not matter.”

This was the deathbed counsel given to his sons by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in A.D. 211.

Nicolas Maduro must today appreciate the emperor’s insight.

For the political survival of this former bus driver and union boss hangs now upon whether Venezuela’s armed forces choose to stand by him or to desert him and support National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.

Wednesday, Guaido declared Maduro’s election last May to a second six-year term to be a sham, and had himself inaugurated as acting president.

Thursday, the defense minister and army chief General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, with his top brass, dismissed the 35-year-old Guaido as a U.S. puppet, and pledged allegiance to Maduro.

Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. … Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

By Friday, however, the world had already taken sides.

Russia and China stood by Maduro, as did NATO ally Turkey, with President Erdogan phoning his support. Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia were also with Maduro.

Backing Guaido are Venezuela’s neighbors Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia, the U.S. and Canada, and the Organization of American States.

Britain, France, Germany and Spain have sent Maduro a diplomatic ultimatum: Agree in eight days to new elections or we back the 35-year-old Guaido, who, until this year, was an unknown.

All options are on the table, says President Donald Trump. But Russia called Guaido’s action a “quasi-coup” and warned that intervention could result in “catastrophic consequences.” Vladimir Putin also phoned Maduro with his support.

The stakes for all sides here are huge. Russia has contractors in Venezuela and has lent the regime billions. In a show of solidarity, Putin recently flew two strategic bombers to Venezuela.

China has loaned Venezuela tens of billions, with Caracas paying Beijing back in oil.

Cuba has sent military and intelligence officers to maintain internal security. Hugo Chavez had seen in Fidel Castro a father figure and modeled his new Venezuela on Castro’s Cuba – with similar results.

Where hundreds of thousands fled Castro’s revolution in the 1960s, three million Venezuelans have fled to Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and other South American countries and the USA.

The economy is in a shambles. Though Venezuela has the largest oil reserves on earth, production is a fraction of what it once was. Cronyism and corruption are endemic. Inflation has destroyed the currency. There is poverty, malnutrition and shortages of every necessity of modern life.

Yet, still, the crucial question: What will the soldiers do? And if the military stands with Maduro, and Maduro refuses to go, what do the Americans do to force him out?

Invade? That would invite disaster. Venezuela is not Panama, Haiti or Grenada. Larger than Texas, its population is more than 30 million. And U.S. forces are already committed around the world.

A blockade and sanctions would magnify and deepen the suffering of the people of Venezuela long before they would bring down the regime. Would our allies support a blockade? And if years of suffering by the Venezuelan people have not shaken Maduro’s hold on power, what makes us believe more of the same would persuade him?

Maduro and his army are being offered amnesty if they peacefully depart. But what would Maduro’s fate be if he flees?

If he gives up power under U.S. threat, he is finished and disgraced as a coward. Would he not prefer to go down fighting?

And if the leadership of the army should abandon Maduro, there are younger ambitious officers who would surely see a rewarding future in fighting to save the regime.

Are we inviting a civil war in Venezuela? Should the shooting start in Caracas, what do we do then?

Did anyone think this through?

Maduro is an incompetent brutal dictator whose ideology has helped to destroy a nation. But if he can change the narrative from a confrontation between a tyrant and his persecuted people to that of an embattled defender of Venezuela being attacked by Yankee imperialists and their domestic lackeys, that could resonate among the masses in Latin America.

And from all indications, Maduro intends to defy the U.S. and rally the radicals and anti-Americans in the hemisphere and the Third World.

Guiado’s constitutional claim to the presidency of Venezuela was a scheme cooked up in collusion with Washington, made in the USA, with Secretary of State Pompeo, John Bolton and Sen. Marco Rubio signing on, and President Trump signing off. This was Plan A.

But if Plan A does not succeed, and Maduro, with America’s prestige on the line, defies our demand that he yield, what do we do then? What is Plan B?

“Assad must go!” said Barack Obama. Well, Assad is still there – and Obama is gone.

Will the same be said of Maduro?

 

Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to open by November

Russian gas will be piped direct to Germany from November despite the project’s detractors, a project engineer has asserted. Critics have said Europe will be left vulnerable and climate goals will be undermined.

January 29, 2019

by Ian P. Johnson

DW

Russia’s second natural gas pipeline across the Baltic seabed to Germany is just months away from completion, despite warnings from the US, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania and the EU commission over Europe’s energy security.

Klaus Haussmann, engineer at Nord Stream 2’s future landfall site at Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast told German public radio station Deutschlandfunk that the “raw” laying of the pipeline would be finished by the middle of 2019.

“Then comes the entire installation of the electrical equipment, security chains. And, then it’s planned on the large scale that we get the first conduit filled with gas in November, from Russia,” said Haussmann.

Nord Stream 2 — in fact two welded conduits, each with an inside diameter of 1.2 meters (4 feet) and largely following the route of Nord Stream 1 (operational since 2011) — will pipe Siberian gas via Russia’s Leningrad region, tracking 1230 kilometers (764 miles) across the Baltic seabed, through Finnish, Swedish and Danish maritime waters, to northeastern Germany.

Along its trajectory, environmentalists including Friends of the Earth claim that seabed wildlife will be “irreparably damaged.”

Just before Christmas, Nord Stream said 370 kilometers of pipeline had already been laid and special construction ships and their crews were “proceeding according to plan and on schedule” into Swedish waters.

Rough Baltic weather

Haussmann told DLF his concern was more the impact of the Baltic’s winter weather and waves on construction at sea and less so the international pros and cons.

“For two years or more, Nord Stream 2 has been pretty much under fire. But at the moment we have more worries with the weather outside,” he said.

The avoidance of land and thereby transit fees has long angered Ukraine and Poland as well as Lithuania, which in 2014 at its Baltic Port of Klaipeda opened a terminal suitable for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from the USA and Qatar.

In early January, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell threatened sanctions against German firms involved, prompting Berlin to reply that “nothing had changed” and the project had its permits and proceeding.

“We’re not that easy to impress and intimidate,” said Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, adding he was open still to discussions with American LNG exporters.

The Nord Stream 2 venture, owned by Russia’s Gazprom, based in Switzerland, and funded by five concerns, including Germany’s BASF/Wintershall and Shell of the Netherlands and fronted by former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, claims the EU can make savings on carbon dioxide emissions by switching to gas instead of coal-fired generation of electricity.

Last May, Schröder accused American exporters of sourcing their LNG from fracking and trying to undermine Nord Stream 2, adding that Europe had a basic interest in obtaining “extra natural gas from Russia.”

German Greens politician Jürgen Trittin – referring to renewable energy capture such as solar and wind – told DLF that while he was not an advocate of the pipelines, Gazprom had speculated on the “failure of an active Europe climate policy.”

Dependent on gas because of ‘failed’ climate policy

“If we were serious about climate protection, then the €10 billion Gazprom is now sinking into the Baltic Sea would possibly be money wasted – I wouldn’t be sad about that!”

On the parallel issue, Trittin said he shared the view of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government that Europe also needed to invest in Ukraine’s transit gas network — in the wake of Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea.

Even a completed Nord Stream 2 would not suffice in terms of Europe’s needs for gas imports, Trittin asserted, adding that he understood anger over Crimea.

Calls to cancel the already approved pipeline had not been fully thought through, Trittin added, because termination would result in “billions in damages paid to Gazprom.”

 

Iran defends plan to improve missile accuracy

Iran says it is working to improve the precision of its missiles for defense purposes. At the same time, the German-governed plan with France and the UK for payments to Iran despite US sanctions is moving ahead.

January 29, 2019

DW

Iran on Tuesday said it had no plan to increase the range of its missiles, but would continue to work on its satellite technology to improve accuracy.

“[Iran] is continuously working on increasing the precision of the missiles, and has no intention to increase their range,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council said.

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said Iran’s missile capabilities were non-negotiable, dismissing a call by European countries and the United States for its missile technology to be restricted.

“The enemies say Iran’s missile power should be eliminated, but we have repeatedly said our missile capabilities are not negotiable,” Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Germany, France and UK: ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’

The “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV) is being put together by Germany, France and Britain, the European signatories to the 2015 accord that curbed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. It will be based in France with German governance and finance from all three countries.

The SPV will allow Iran to receive payments despite Washington reimposing sanctions after dropping its adherence to the accord.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels on Monday that: “As far as the Special Purpose Vehicle is concerned: it will be registered, it has not yet been registered, but I would say that the implementation of our plan is imminent.”

Maas said the EU’s aim was to ensure that: “Business not sanctioned by the US can be upheld, and there is a suitable instrument for international payments.”

US pressure with fines

The US has issued a list of 12 demands that Tehran must meet if it wants sanctions to be dropped, including an end to military engagement in Syria and a complete halt to alleged nuclear and ballistic missile development.

The US has warned European companies that they could face hefty fines and penalties if they attempt to sidestep the sanctions, but the EU has insisted that the nuclear deal is essential for regional and global security.

EU debates statement

Although the SPV is the work of three countries, the EU wants to launch it along with a formal statement on Iran endorsed by all 28 member states that addresses all European concerns about the Islamic republic.

Italy and Spain are reported to have reservations on the statement, which will be discussed by EU ministers on February 12.

 

The Broken Encirclement Plan: Nato in Eastern Europe

January 29, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The first serious, and successful, U.S. direct interference in Russian leadership policies was in 1953. An ageing Josef Stalin, suffering from arteriosclerosis and becoming increasingly hostile to his subordinates, was poisoned by Laverenti P. Beria, head of his secret police. Beria, was a Mingrelian Jew, very ruthless and a man who ordered and often supervised the executions of people Stalin suspected of plotting against him, had fallen out of favor with Stalin and had come to believe that he was on the list of those Stalin wished to remove. With his intelligence connection, Beria was contacted by the American CIA through one of his trusted agents in Helskinki and through this contact, Beria was supplied dosages of warfarin  The first drug in the class to be widely commercialized was dicoumarol itself, patented in 1941 and later used as a pharmaceutical. potent coumarin-based anticoagulants for use as rodent poisons, resulting in warfarin in 1948. The name warfarin stems from the acronym WARF, for Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation + the ending -arin indicating its link with coumarin. Warfarin was first registered for use as a rodenticide in the US in 1948, and was immediately popular; although it was developed by Link, the WARF financially supported the research and was assigned the patent.

Warfarin was used by a Lavrenti Beria to poison Stalin. Stalin’s cooks and personal bodyguards were all under the direct control of Beria. He acknowledged to other top Soviet leaders that he had poisoned Stalin, according to Molotov’s memoirs. Nikita Khrushchev and others to poison Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Warfarin is tasteless and colorless, and produces symptoms similar to those that Stalin exhibited. Stalin collapsed during the night after a dinner with Beria and other Soviet leaders, and died four days later on 5 March 1953.

Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, in his political memoirs (published posthumously in 1993), claimed that Beria told him that he had poisoned Stalin. “I took him out,” Beria supposedly boasted. There is evidence that after Stalin was found unconscious, medical care was not provided for many hours. Other evidence of the murder of Stalin by Beria associates was presented by Edvard Radzinsky in his biography Stalin. It has been suggested that warfarin was used; it would have produced the symptoms reported.

After the fall of Gorbachev and his replacement by Boris Yeltsin, a known CIA connection, the Russian criminal mob was encouraged by the CIA to move into the potentially highly lucrative Russian natural resource field.

By 1993 almost all banks in Russia were owned by the mafia, and 80% of businesses were paying protection money. In that year, 1400 people were murdered in Moscow, crime members killed businessmen who would not pay money to them, as well as reporters, politicians, bank owners and others opposed to them. The new criminal class of Russia took on a more Westernized and businesslike approach to organized crime as the more code-of-honor based Vory faded into extinction.

The Izmaylovskaya gang was considered one of the country’s most important and oldest Russian Mafia groups in Moscow and also had a presence in Tel Aviv, Berlin, Paris, Toronto, Miami and New York City. It was founded during the 1980s under the leadership of Oleg Ivanov and was estimated to consist of about 200 active members (according to other data of 300–500 people). In principle, the organization was divided into two separate bodies—Izmailovskaya and Gol’yanovskaya  which utilized quasi-military ranks and strict internal discipline. It was involved extensively in murder-for-hire, extortions, and infiltration of legitimate businesses.

The gangs were termed the Oligarchy and were funded by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Israeli-owned Bank of New York all with the assisance of the American government.

The arrival of Vladimir Putin as the new leader of Russia was at first ignored in Washington. A former KGB Lt. Colonel who had been stationed in East Germany, Putin was viewed as inconsequential, bland and colorless by the purported Russian experts in both the Department of State and the CIA.

Putin, however, proved to be a dangerous opponent who blocked the Oligarchs attempt to control the oil fields and other assets, eventual control of which had been promised to both American and British firms.

The Oligarchs were allowed to leave the country and those remaining behind were forced to follow Putin’s policies. Foreign control over Russian natural resources ceased and as both the CIA, various foreign firms and the American government had spent huge sums greasing the skids, there was now considerable negative feelings towards Putin.

The next serious moves against Russia came with a plan conceived by the CIA and fully approved by President George W. Bush, whose father had once been head of the CIA.

This consisted of ‘Operation Sickle’ which was designed to surround the western and southern borders of Russia with states controlled by the United States through the guise of NATO membership. Included in this encirclement program were the Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Georgia and a number of Asiatic states bordering southern Russia. It was the stated intention of the NATO leadership to put military missiles in all these countries. The so-called “Orange Revolution” funded and directed by the CIA, overthrew the pro-Moscow government in the Ukraine, giving the United States theoretical control over the heavy industrialized Donetz Basin and most importantly, the huge former Soviet naval base at Sebastopol.

The Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) was an American-sponsored 18-month, $64-million program aimed at increasing the capabilities of the Georgian armed forces by training and equipping four 600-man battalions with light weapons, vehicles and communications. The program enabled the US to expedite funding for the Georgian military for Operation Enduring Freedom.

On February 27, 2002, the US media reported that the U.S. would send approximately two hundred United States Army Special Forces soldiers to Georgia to train Georgian troops. The program implemented President Bush’s decision to respond to the Government of Georgia’s request for assistance to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities and addressed the situation in the Pankisi Gorge.

The program began in May 2002 when American special forces soldiers began training select units of the Georgian Armed Forces, including the 12th Commando Light Infantry Battalion, the 16th Mountain-Infantry Battalion, the 13th “Shavnabada” Light Infantry Battalion, the 11th Light Infantry Battalion, a mechanized company and small numbers of Interior Ministry troops and border guards.

Eventually, responsibility for training Georgian forces was turned over to the US Marine Corps in conjunction with the British Army. British and American teams worked as part of a joint effort to train each of the four infantry battalion staffs and their organic rifle companies. This training began with the individual soldier and continued through fire team, squad, platoon, company, and battalion level tactics as well as staff planning and organization. Upon completing training, each of the new Georgian infantry battalions began preparing for deployment rotations in support of the Global War on Terrorism

The CIA were instrumental in getting Mikheil Saakashvili, an erratic policician, pro-West, into the presidency of Georgia but although he allowed the country to be flooded with American arms and “military trainers” he was not a man easily controlled and under the mistaken belief that Ameriacn military might supported him, commenced to threaten Moscow. Two Georgian provinces were heavily populated by Russians and objected to the inclusion in Georgia and against them, Saakashvili began to make threatening moves.

The 2008 South Ossetia War or Russo-Georgian War (in Russia also known as the Five-Day War) was an armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and Russia and separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other.

During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory. Georgia claimed that it was responding to attacks on its peacekeepers and villages in South Ossetia, and that Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country. The Georgian attack caused casualties among Russian peacekeepers, who resisted the assault along with Ossetian militia. Georgia successfully captured most of Tskhinvali within hours. Russia reacted by deploying units of the Russian 58th Army and Russian Airborne Troops in South Ossetia, and launching airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia and military and logistical targets in Georgia proper. Russia claimed these actions were a necessary humanitarian intervention and peace enforcement.

When the Russian incursion was seen as massive and serious, U.S. president George W. Bush’s statement to Russia was: “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.” The US Embassy in Georgia, describing the Matthew Bryza press-conference, called the war an “incursion by one of the world’s strongest powers to destroy the democratically elected government of a smaller neighbor”.

Initially the Bush Administration seriously considered a military response to defend Georgia, but such an intervention was ruled out by the Pentagon due to the inevitable conflict it would lead to with Russia. Instead, Bush opted for a softer option by sending humanitarian supplies to Georgia by military, rather than civilian, aircraft. And he ordered the immediate evacuation of all American military units from Georgia. The huge CIA contingent in the Georgian capital fled by aircraft and the American troops, mostly U.S. Marines, evacuated quickly to the Black Sea where they were evacuated by the U.S. Navy. British and Israeli military units also fled the country and all of them had to leave behind an enormous amount of military equipment to include tanks, light armored  vehicles, small arms, radio equipment, and trucks full of intelligence data they had neither the time nor foresight to destroy.

The immediate result of this demarche was the defection of the so-called “NATO Block” eastern Europeans from the Bush/CIA project who saw the United States as a paper tiger that would not, and could not, defend them against the Russians. In a sense, the Russian incursion into Georgia was a massive political, not a military, victory.

The CIA was not happy with the actions of Vladimir Putin and when he ran for reelection, they poured money into the hands of Putin’s enemies, hoping to reprise the Ukrainian Orange Revolution but the effort was in vain.

And when the Poles, nervous about the apparent speed with which the US forces had abandoned their bases in Georgia, were in the progress of establishing a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin. Slated to fly into Smolensk for a ceremony to mark the killing by Stalin of many Polish officer prisoners of war. Someone, the Russians are sure was CIA, tampered with the landing signals on the airfield so that the foggy landing strip appeared to be at a lower altitude. He plane, with the entire upper level of the Polish government, slammed into the ground, killing all of the passengers.

Elegant diplomacy executed by true gentlemen!

 

Russian-run air base in northwestern Syria intercepts 3 unknown targets

January 27, 2019

Xinhua

DAMASCUS, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — The Russian-run Hmeimim air base in northwestern Syria on Sunday intercepted three targets over the province of Latakia, the media of the Syrian army and its allies reported.

The three targets were destroyed by the air defenses over the city of Jableh in the countryside of Latakia, with no damage or injuries, said the reports.

The reports, however, provided no details on the nature of the intercepted targets.

Hmeimim air base has been the target of Syrian rebels’ drones, which are usually flown from the nearby rebel-held Idlib Province in northwestern Syria.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

January 29, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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, on 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 the well-known Washington fix-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.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 79

Date: Tuesday, April 8, 1997

Commenced:  9:08 AM CST

Concluded: 9;55 AM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert, All week there?

RTC: Very tired today, Gregory.

GD: If I’m calling at a wrong time, maybe I can call back later on…on tomorrow.

RTC: No, just very tires. I slept well but I feel like I haven’t been to bed for several days.

GD: Seen a doctor recently?

RTC: My God, yes. A number of them. General check ups and Emily is under the impression that because I smoke, she says too much, I might have some kind of lung problems. I am not going to give up smoking now, Gregory. I’ve gotten used to it. Terribly addictive, tobacco.

GD: Yes. I read a recent study on tobacco. Very, very addictive. Causes all kinds of respiratory diseases and cancer as well.

RTC: Ah well, Gregory, if one thing doesn’t get you, something else will.

GD: How about being hanged for rape at 95?

RTC: (Laughter) what do they say about a consummation?

GD: A consummation devoutly to be wished. Shakespeare. We could make it less final and mention being sued for child support at the same age.

RTC: They say that if you father children after a certain age, they have mental problems.

GD: Could be. You see a lot of weird yard monsters being carried around these days, Robert. Flat faces, drooling. Mongoloids. Of course, we don’t call them that any more. I think they say differently abled. But a Mongoloid idiot is still a Mongoloid idiot, no matter how you slice it. So correct now. Bloody twits. Don’t say this, can’t say that. Oh my, that is so demeaning. That’s what someone told me the other day when I called a fat woman a bloato. I apologized and called her a piggy instead. That didn’t go over very well, either. So many Mongoloids and so many jiggling fatties waddling around. If they kept their mouths shut, Robert, it would serve two valuable purposes. On the one hand, we wouldn’t have to listen to their babblings and on the other, they wouldn’t be feeding their enormous guts every waking hour. Well, the potato chip industry would suffer but then, on another negative side, they might live longer, .Robert, as you were on board at the CIA during the formative years, could you address some points I am trying to research?

RTC: I’ll try, if I can, Gregory.

GD: OK. The CIA was originally started up by Truman in about ’48…

RTC: Yes. Harry was not happy with the slanted intelligence the Army was providing so he set us up to counter the bs.

GD: Yes. Gehlen told me about the fake Russian invasion plot of ’48. That’s when his organization of former Gestapo people was run by the Army. Faked up the story of a pending Russian invasion to terrify Congress and the public so as to keep business going along on a wartime footing and the Army from being disbanded.

RTC: Basically true, Gregory. We had nothing to do with that.

GD: The CIA took Gehlen over just after that fraud, correct?

RTC: Yes, after that. We had nothing to do with that.

GD: Mueller said that fake report was the real starting gun for the cold war. Would you agree?

RTC: I would go along with that.

GD: Russia had been bled dry during the war and much of her relatively primitive infrastructure had been ruined. Heavy loss in troops and so on. In other words, in 1948, Stalin not only was in no shape to confront the western powers on a military level nor really compete in the marketplace. Right?

RTC: Right.

GD: Now I agree that Stalin was engaged in extensive spying here and elsewhere during and after the war. But everyone spies on everyone else. Spying is not a military threat but wasn’t this domestic spying used to terrify the public into supporting a very expensive cold war? You were on the inside then, Robert. Between us and the phone taps, was Russia going to nuke us or start a land war in ’49 or even ’50?

RTC: No, they were not.

GD: So if that were the case, the CIA grew to such a powerful entity solely on the mistaken, deliberately mistaken, premise that Russia, and later China, were going to attack us. Right?

RTC: This is a rather sensitive area, Gregory, but I’m retired and old and overall, you are probably right. But they were spying on us. Bunch of traitorous Jews under Roosevelt were running rampant here. You must know that White and even Wallace were helping Uncle Joe with all of our secrets.

GD: Yes, but annoying as this was, it was not a military threat. And with the great increase in domestic income as a result of the war, Communism had long ago lost its attraction for the poor and the various left wing politicians here. Right?

RTC: Yes, but we are talking about a huge army of spies here then.

GD: Ideological people. Poor. Give a man some money and a new television, and dreams of communism vanish as the waistline spreads.

RTC: Yes but then don’t forget the very real threats to the west by Stalin and his successors.

GD: But these were struggles for markets and natural resources, weren’t they? I mean not a real military threat. It had always been the dream in Moscow to capture the very technical and industrious Germany. Was that was when Lenin took off the fright wig. Always get Germany. I know about this because when Mueller took over the tiny Gestapo in ’35, he said there were about 20,000 active Communist Russian spies loose all over Germany. When he got through with them, there were about five left. Anyway, wasn’t the struggle then just an economic struggle like the one that started the First World War? Odd. Russia and the United States were engaged in a purely capitalist struggle for economic power. Not military power. Do you concur?

RTC: Yes, it boiled down to that. I mean, we had our friends. People we knew as schoolmates, friends or neighbors. Business friends. Old Bill ran some aluminum company and he wanted us to secure bauxite sites in some country that Russia was also interested in. Of course we couldn’t use this as an excuse to topple some government and set up a US-friendly one so we tarted it up to say the existing government there was being run by Moscow and a Communist seizure was just a matter of time.

GD: Like Nicaragua?

RTC: Exactly so.

GD: Levi and Zentner has friends in Langley.

RTC: Well, more like the Grace people but I follow. But why should Russia get its hands on valuable resources when we wanted them? Let’s face it, Gregory, the struggle for natural resources is the struggle for life.

GD: But why not seek less damaging goals? Isn’t there enough to go around?

RTC: Well, that’s the question. Planet is getting very small these days. Too many people need more products and whoever has the natural resources, at least as long as they hold out, has the upper hand. Now, thanks to us, we have the upper hand. We damned near got all the Russia oil and gas under Yeltsin but you can’t win them all.

GD: But Reagan was the last gasp of all that, wasn’t he?

RTC: When business sees itself as losing something they want, it will never be over.

GD: But when the cold war was on, we struggled with Russia over the natural resources of Africa. Each of us took over this or that country and set up this or that tin horn dictator answerable to us, or them. And now that the cold war is over, thanks to Reagan, why Africa is no longer of any interest to either side. I predict that in twenty years, Africa, at least sub-Saharan Africa, will be a wasteland. There’s a lot of AIDS there now and once all the natives are dead, we can just walk in and take over the resources. No need for a war, Robert, just let nature take its course.

RTC: Very ruthless, Gregory.

GD: I study history, Robert. Use facts, not emotions.

RTC: I hate to say this but Marx was right when he talked about the role of economics in history.

GD: I’ve read Marx. Fine theories but stupid practices. From each according to his ability to each according to his need. Right? Sounds almost Christian, doesn’t it? Of course both systems, Jesus and Marx, sound so noble and self-sacrificing on paper but they are Utopian and never work. And the raging idealists are the first to be shot when the pragmatists come into power. Night following day. And Robert, in the end, who cares?

 

(Concluded at 9:55 CST)

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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