TBR News January 31, 2016

Jan 31 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 31, 2016: ”Malthus was dead-on in his essay on populations. Population increases geometrically and food supplies, arithmetically. This means that a burgeoning population outstrips its food supplies and the end result is starvation for millions, probably more. Also, when any species increases its number beyond certain numerical limits, a natural balance causes a readjustment of that limit. A disease, usually endemic, becomes epidemic and the result is a massive die-off of much of that species. Calhoun discourses on this in his landmark study of rat overpupulation in 1962. Certainty is always illusion and in the future, as overpopulation increases, one can expect many interesting, and more often than not, inaccurate and idiotic theories by legions of purported scientists, the delight of the dimwits.”

Conversations with the Crow

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

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

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

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

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





Conversation No. 107

Date: Sunday, October 19, 1997 Commenced: 3:30 PM CST

Concluded: 3:50 PM CST


RTC: How are you this fine day, Gregory? Up and at ‘em?

GD: Trying to catch up on some of your documents. This Afghan business is interesting. One of the most consistently volatile areas on earth. Full of savage, very competent guerrilla warriors.

RTC: Oh yes, I give you that. When we decided to enter the lists there in ’79, we were well aware of the make up of the country. Utter, backward savages but very, very effective guerrilla warriors. We felt at the time that if we could lock the Soviets in to a drawn out war, they would lose it, take terrible personnel losses and hemorrhage money the way we did in ‘Nam. It worked like a charm. We got the Saudis in this with us and they did a wonderful job. They trained the locals, armed them with weapons we sent them and did everything they could to help us field a good response to Ivan.

GD: Well, I was reading about the Russian copters and how you gave the rag heads the small missiles to knock them down. Up to that point, those choppers were a deadly weapon for the Russians.

RTC: Well, we did our best and we won, we won there and they lost. We avenged ‘Nam if you want to look at it that way.

GD: But they did the fighting.

RTC: So much better for us, don’t you think?

GD: But the Russians must have known what they were getting into. They had a long history with the rag heads down there. Why invade a totally hostile area?

RTC: Well, something to do but also because of the opium down there. Outside of our dear friends the Turks, Afghanistan is the world’s largest grower of opium. Immense money to be made there, my boy.

GD: I can imagine. And do we?

RTC: Of course we do. Started out in the golden triangle under my direction and just spread out. We set them up there, gave them pep talks, money and guns. No, they are on our side…or were.

GD: ‘Were’ is a good word. You can’t trust tribal people like that. Give them guns to kill you enemy and when he’s dead, they’ll turn on you.

RTC: Much too pessimistic, Gregory, much to pessimistic. Although I haven’t been in harness for some time, I keep in touch. No, those people love us, make book on it.

GD: I don’t trust the Saudis, either. They hate us, Robert. I went to college with one of their royal family and he gave me quiet an insight. The royal family came from generations of camel thieves and I wouldn’t trust one of them to the corner for a pound of butter. We buy their oil and they smile and give us gold pen sets, just like you do to the boobies who help you for free. Thee is a large body of well-trained terrorists or freedom fighters as you will, looking for more exciting work. And the Saudis do not want them looking at their country.

RTC: Well, the Saudis do hate us, quietly, but they own the Afghans and their people run them there. Most of the leaders of the so-called activist movements in Afghanistan are Saudis. Of course to a stupid American, all Arabs look the same. Agreed they dislike the infidels in the west but they sell their oil for American dollars, don’t they? GD: Oh subtle one, oh serpent, as the line went. As I said, the Saudi leadership, their royal family, descend directly from brigands and camel thieves so don’t be astounded if they sic the other ones onto us. What would they gain? Getting us out of the Middle East for one thing. I mean getting our military people out of there. And because they hate Israel with a passion, our ass kissing of those Mongol assholes will get us into real trouble.

RTC: And what do you propose, Gregory? GD: Me? I know nothing but if it were up to me, I would get my pink ass out of that area and deal with everyone equally. When the Jews saw we were no longer their bigger brother, believe me, they would settle up with the Arabs in jig time. Oh, do excuse the awful racial remark there. Anyway, I think your people opened a Pandora Box giving weapons to those people. And they did terrible things to captured Russians. Tortured and killed them.

RTC: Yes, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the whole business. A dead Russian whose head is being used as a soccer ball can’t fight us, can he? GD: As ye sow, Robert, so shall ye reap.

RTC: My God, don’t drag the Bible into this. We did terrible damage to the Soviets, who, by the way, were our enemies at the time. They supported North Korea, didn’t they? Yes, I can tell you they did. So, what’s wrong with our supporting the Afghanistanis?

GD: Well, it isn’t something I would have done but then I am not the shield and buckler of the nation.

RTC: Ah, well now there you go! Right on the old nail head, Gregory. If it weren’t for the CIA, where would we be? Probably an occupied country.

GD: Can we forget the little question of the opium? On the one hand, this has become a nation of drug addicts and most of the drug, other than the glue-sniffers, get their drugs from the Mexicans, who get it from the Columbians, who, in turn, get the raw opium from Afghanistan courtesy of Air America. Crime rates soar, jails are packed, billions are spent on this but I suppose someone in Washington, or Langley, lives in a nice place, has a boat, a summer house on Long Island and another one in Bermuda. Well, so much for pragmatic sanctions.

RTC:What? GD: An historical joke, Robert. Anyway, knowing you, I doubt if you made a dime from the drug business.

RTC: Of course not. We got the political benefit in my department and at my level and others lower down, got the money.. You can’t make an omelet, Gregory, without breaking a few eggs.

GD: A favorite phrase of Ulanov.

RTC: Lenin, of course. At certain elevated levels, it’s all just a game.

GD: Unless your grandson overdoses, Robert.


(Concluded at 3:50 PM CST


Stockholm pogrom: Crowd of masked men hunt and beat up non-Swedes

January 30, 2016


Dozens of masked man went on an anti-immigrant rampage in Stockholm in an apparent retaliation for the stabbing death of a young Swedish woman at a refugee center earlier this week, local media reported.

The crowd of some 40 to 50 people went on a violent spree on Friday night at around 9 p.m. local time in and around the Swedish capital’s main railroad station, according to the Aftonbladet daily. They were beating up anyone who didn’t look like ethnic Swede. The attackers were wearing black balaclavas and armbands, the video obtained by the tabloid showed.

They came from Drottninggatan [Stockholm’s main shopping street] and walked down toward the square and began to turn on immigrants,” a witness is cited by The Local. “I saw maybe three people who got beaten. I was quite scared so I left.”

The rampage followed a rally of some 200 people, who protested the presence of refugees in the North European country, reports Aftonbladet. They were handing out leaflets saying “Enough now”.

They were scattering leaflets which had the intention to incite people to carry out crimes,” Stockholm police confirmed in a statement on its website.

The leaflets accused police of failing to deal with immigrants-related crimes – particularly those committed by gangs of foreign youths – or protect Swedish society.

We are forced to endure countless crimes while the criminals always go with some degree of impunity by claiming that they are younger than 15,” the leaflet said. “This irresponsible stance is rooted among our spineless politicians, in our weak justice system and in our lying media and no longer surprising.”

But we refuse to accept the destruction of our once to safe society,” it added. “If the Swedish streets are no longer safe for Swedish men and women, it is our duty to take action.”

The call was apparently referring to the death of Alexandra Mehzer, a 22-year-old aid worker, who was stabbed to death on Monday in a center for underage unaccompanied refugees in southern Sweden. A 15-year-old asylum-seeker born in Nigeria is suspected of the killing.

The leaflets reportedly accused police of failing to deal with immigrants-related crimes on protect the Swedish society.

But we refuse to accept the repeated assaults and harassment against Swedish women,” the leaflets said as cited by the Daily Mail. “We refuse to accept the destruction of our once to safe society. When our political leadership and police show more sympathy for murderers than for their victims, there are no longer any excuses to let it happen without protest.”

Police made several arrests, according to Aftonbladet. The attacks are linked to football gangs and far-right groups. Still city authorities have not yet confirmed any immigrants had been assaulted.

The Swedish Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, claimed the attack. In a statement issued after the incident they said they “cleaned up criminal immigrants from North Africa that are housed in the area around the Central Station”.

European countries are gripped by a wave of rising xenophobia as hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa flooded Europe. The EU is split on how to deal with the crisis. Advocates of keeping the doors open are facing increasingly strong opposition as public opinions are swayed against them by the cost of hosting the immigrants and social problems like crimes committed by the newcomers and their failure to adopt liberal European rules.

In some countries more violent anti-immigration activists have been targeting houses meant to become refugee centers with arson attacks, but cases of direct violence between refugees and local residents like the one in Stockholm are relatively rare.


Migrant crisis: More than 10,000 children ‘missing’

January 31, 2016


More than 10,000 migrant children may have disappeared after arriving in Europe over the past two years, the EU’s police intelligence unit says.

Europol said thousands of vulnerable minors had vanished after registering with state authorities.

It warned of children and young people being forced into sexual exploitation and slavery by criminal gangs.

Save the Children says some 26,000 child migrants arrived in Europe last year without any family.

It is the first time Europol has given a Europe-wide estimate of how many might be missing.

Targeting refugees

“It’s not unreasonable to say that we’re looking at 10,000-plus children,” Europol’s chief of staff told the Observer newspaper.

“Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with.”

Officials in Italy warned in May 2015 that almost 5,000 children had disappeared from asylum reception centres since the previous summer.

In October, the authorities in Trelleborg in southern Sweden said about 1,000 unaccompanied refugee children and young adults who arrived in the town in the previous month had since gone missing.

Confirming the overall estimate of missing minors, a Europol spokesman said a large proportion may have also disappeared after landing in Greece. The country is the first entry point for most of the 1 million migrants who arrived in Europe by boat in 2015, and authorities have been criticised for failing to register and check the arrivals.

Criminal gangs known to be involved in human trafficking in Europe are now targeting refugees, Europol said.

There are fears unaccompanied children and young people may be dragged into sex work, slavery and other illegal activity.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Leonard Doyle told the BBC the figure of 10,000 missing children was “shocking but not surprising”.

He said it was “to be expected” that many of these would be caught up in exploitation.

“Let’s hope now the EU puts the resources into finding these children, helping them and reuniting these children with their families.”

Fabio Sorgoni works for the Italian charity On The Road. He told me that there is a very short window of time to provide unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe with a safe haven.

By law, they are allowed out of reception centres during the day, when they easily fall prey to organised crime or individuals looking to exploit them, he said.

Few Italian centres have enough translators who speak the children’s languages. They do not employ staff experienced in spotting victims of sexual exploitation.

Feeling uncertain and unprotected, thousands of children have run away from Italian reception centres, disappearing on to the streets.With no one stepping in or taking responsibility for them, they’re left to fend for themselves – doing what it takes to survive.

The warning from Europol comes days after the UK government said it would accept more unaccompanied child refugees from Syria and other conflict zones, without giving numbers.

However, it said it would not be taking in vulnerable children who had already made it into Europe.

On Saturday, at least 39 migrants, including several children, drowned trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece.

The IOM said on Friday that 244 migrants had drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year, out of 55,568 arrivals.


Austria to repatriate 50,000 asylum seekers over three years

Austria’s interior ministry has announced plans to repatriate 50,000 asylum seekers over the next three years. The plan includes financial incentives and an expanded list of safe countries.

January 31, 2016


Austria’s conservative Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner issued a statement on Saturday giving information on a plan to repatriate 50,000 asylum seekers. The plan follows a statement earlier in January that the number of refugees would be limited to 37,500 in 2016 – down from 90,000 in 2015.

“We are already among the countries with the most expulsions,” Mikl-Leitner said. “But we will step up the pace and will increase the upward trend.”

The list of designated safe countries, whose citizens are unlikely to be given refugee status, is to be expanded to include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, Georgia and Mongolia. A fast-track, 10-day procedure to handle claims for aslyum from these countries is to be established.

Financial incentives

Austria currently offers an incentive of 370 euros for asylum applicants to return home quickly. Under the new plan the amount is to be increased to 500 euros if they leave within three months without waiting for, or appealing a decision on their refugee application.

More charter flights

The number of charter flights to repatriate applicants is to be increased. There will also be information campaigns in the countries of origin. “Many countries are stepping up the pace. We’ve set in motion a chain reaction of reason,” Mikl-Leitner said.

Sweden announced last Tuesday that it was preparing for the repatriation of up to 80,000 rejected asylum seekers.

Together with Sweden and Germany, Austria has received the largest number of refugee applications per capita of population.

jm/bw (EFE, dpa)

No more punishment for disgraced Gen. Petraeus, CIA chief who leaked state secrets

January 31, 2016


US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter decided not to proceed with further punishment on the retired four-star general David Petraeus for disclosing classified data, several media cited a letter by assistant secretary of defense as saying.

Given the Army review, Secretary Carter considers this matter closed,” Washington Post quoted Assistant Secretary of Defense, Stephen Hedger, as saying in the three-sentence letter.

The decision supported the Army’s recommendation not to punish Petraeus, who is on probation after paying a $100,000 fine, any further.

The letter was sent out to individuals who asked Carter not to consider any more reprimands against Petraeus, including Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Senator John McCain and Senator Jack Reed. According to military law, the Pentagon had the right to seek further punishment.

Petraeus was forced to resign as head of the CIA in 2012 after the scandal broke out that he was having an affair with his biographer, Army Reserve officer Paula Broadwell, with whom he illegally aired classified information.

Once considered a war hero for the successful US troop surge in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and even a potential Republican presidential candidate, Petraeus is currently on a two-year probation, and has paid a fine of $100,000 for unauthorized handling of classified information.

Last year, Petraeus pleaded guilty to supplying eight notebooks filled with state secrets to Broadwell. Court records revealed that some of the secret information leaked included identities of covert officers, code words, intelligence capabilities, high-level talks and war strategies.

Earlier in January, there were reports that Carter was mulling Petraeus’ demotion, who then would be liable to return hundreds of thousands of dollars of his pension. Petraeus is currently entitled to a pension of $220,000 a year.

The last four-star general to be demoted was William Ward in 2012, after he was caught lavishly spending government money on his personal entourage and family during foreign trips.


FBI negotiates with defiant Oregon refuge holdouts

January 31, 2016

by Peter Henderson


The FBI negotiated with four armed occupants at a remote federal wildlife refuge in Oregon on Saturday while the holdouts in a video posted online expressed their mistrust of the government and reluctance to leave.

One of the four protesters remaining at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge said in a darkly lit video posted on Friday that he wanted to be assured he would not be arrested if he left. Others with him expressed similar sentiments.

Tensions in the standoff remained high four days after Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54, a spokesman for the group that seized buildings at the refuge on Jan. 2, was killed by police during the arrests of occupation leader Ammon Bundy and several other protesters as they traveled on a highway.

Supporters staged a rally in the nearby ranching community of Burns on Saturday night. About 30 pick-up trucks and other vehicles honked horns and waved flags – U.S., Confederate and Gadsden – as they drove. Passing the courthouse, protesters yelled “murderer” and “FBI go home.”

B.J. Soper, a founding member of the Pacific Patriots Network, said: “It came from the locals, who asked up to help out and organize this driving rally and show support for the community.”

But Mayor Craig LaFollette said the protesters were mostly outsiders who had disrupted the community, adding: “We don’t want them here.”

Soper countered that rally footage showed “about 70 percent of the vehicles were actually locals.”

The FBI said Finicum reached for a gun during the confrontation, which was recorded on grainy video. His family disputes that.

In taking over the refuge, protesters criticized federal control of vast tracts of land in a flare-up of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.

“Negotiations are ongoing,” FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said, declining to give details on the talks or comment on the video.

Bundy has issued messages through his attorney urging those remaining at the refuge to stand down and saying they would continue to fight through the courts.

But the holdouts in the video, streamed live on YouTube, said they did not want to leave the site, 30 miles (48 km) from Burns in the state’s rural southeast, and expressed mistrust of the U.S. government.

“I don’t believe that they have any authority over me because they’re illegal and I can’t bow down to that,” said one.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward earlier this week said the protesters went too far in their armed occupation.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson and Jimmy Urquhart in Burns and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis-Editing by Bill Trott and Nick Macfie)

The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism

January 31, 2016

by Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

The concoction of the “Bernie Bro” narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic – and a journalistic disgrace. It’s intended to imply two equally false claims: (1) a refusal to march enthusiastically behind the Wall-Street-enriched, multiple-war-advocating, despot-embracing Hillary Clinton is explainable not by ideology or political conviction, but largely if not exclusively by sexism: demonstrated by the fact that men, not women, support Sanders (his supporters are “bros”); and (2) Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive and misogynistic in their online behavior. Needless to say, a crucial tactical prong of this innuendo is that any attempt to refute it is itself proof of insensitivity to sexism if not sexism itself (as the accusatory reactions to this article will instantly illustrate).

It’s become such an all-purpose, handy pro-Clinton smear that even consummate, actual “bros” for which the term was originally coined – straight guys who act with entitlement and aggression, such as Paul Krugman  – are now reflexively (and unironically) applying it to anyone who speaks ill of Hillary Clinton, even when they know nothing else about the people they’re smearing, including their gender, age or sexual orientation. Thus, a male policy analyst who criticized Sanders’ health care plan “is getting the Bernie Bro treatment,” sneered Krugman. Unfortunately for The New York Times Bro, that analyst, Charles Gaba, said in response that he’s “really not comfortable with [Krugman’s] referring to die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters as ‘Bernie Bros’” because it “implies that only college-age men support Sen. Sanders, which obviously isn’t the case.”

It is indeed “obviously not the case.” There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while 1/3 of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock-the-Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50% to 31%, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.” One has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this “Bernie Bro” smear.

But truth doesn’t matter here – at all. Instead, the goal is to inherently delegitimize all critics of Hillary Clinton by accusing them of, or at least associating them with, sexism, thus distracting attention away from Clinton’s policy views, funding, and political history and on to the online behavior of anonymous, random, isolated people on the internet claiming to be Sanders supporters. It’s an effective weapon when wielded by Clinton operatives. But, given its blatant falsity, it has zero place in anything purporting to be “journalism.”

To see the blatant disregard for facts in which this narrative is grounded, let’s quickly look at two of the most widely cited examples of online “Bernie Bro” misogyny from this week’s deluge of articles on the topic, smartly dissected by columnist Carl Beijar (“How many smears on Sanders supporters can we debunk in one week?”). A much-cheered Mashable article – headlined “The bros who love Bernie Sanders have become a sexist mob” – purported to describe the “Bernie Bro” phenomenon as Sanders supporters who are “often young, white and predominantly male” and whose messages are “oftentimes derogatory and misogynistic.” It cited a grand total of two examples, both from random, unknown internet users. Here was one of those examples, left in response to a Facebook post from New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen about a Clinton rally she attended:

There are two small problems with this example. First, it’s written by a woman, not a man. Second, it’s not remotely sexist. If anything is sexist, it’s the branding of Carol Jean Simpson as a “bro” because she supports Sanders rather than Clinton. And while I’m sure it’s terribly unpleasant for a former Governor and two-term U.S. Senator such as Jeanne Shaheen to have her favorite presidential candidate described as a “lying shitbag” and be told that she lost a supporter as a result, there’s nothing particularly inappropriate, or at least not unusual, about this kind of rhetoric being used in online debates over politics – unless you think the most powerful U.S. politicians are entitled to the reverence which London elites accord British monarchy.

Then there’s the most widely-cited example, used by that Mashable article as well as one from BBC entitled “Bernie Sanders supporters get a bad reputation online.” This example originated with the New Yorker TV critic (and Clinton supporter) Emily Nussbaum, who claimed that she was called a “psycho” by the “Feel the Bern crew” after she praised Clinton. Nussbaum’s claim was then repeatedly cited by pro-Clinton media figures when repeating the “Bernie Bro” theme. The problem with this example? The person who called her a “psycho” is a right-wing Tea Party supporter writing under a fake Twitter account of a GOP Congressman – not remotely a Sanders supporter.

What this illustrates is that Clinton media operatives are campaigning for their candidate under the guise of journalism and social issue activism. I don’t personally have a problem with that: I see nothing wrong with journalists being vehemently devoted to a political candidate. But it’s important to know what it is. As is true for most campaign operatives, they have thrown all concern about truth and facts into the garbage can in exchange for saying anything that they perceive will help the Clinton campaign win.

Have pro-Clinton journalists and pundits been subjected to some vile, abusive, and misogynistic rhetoric from random, anonymous internet supporters of Sanders who are angry over their Clinton support? Of course they have. Does that reflect in any way on the Sanders campaign or which candidate should win the Democratic primary? Of course it does not. The reason pro-Clinton journalists are targeted with vile abuse online has nothing specifically to do with the Sanders campaign or its supporters. It has everything to do with internet. There are literally no polarizing views one can advocate online – including criticizing Democratic Party leaders such as Clinton or Barack Obama – that will not subject one to a torrent of intense anger and vile abuse. It’s not remotely unique to supporting Hillary Clinton: ask Megyn Kelley about that, or the Sanders-supporting Susan Sarandon and Cornel West, or anyone with a Twitter account or blog. I’ve seen online TV and film critics get hauled before vicious internet mobs for expressing unpopular views about a TV program or a movie.

And while people in some minority groups are, just like in offline life, lavished with special, noxious forms of online abuse – people of color, LGBTs, women, Muslims – that has been true in basically every online realm long before Bernie Sanders announced that he would rudely attempt to impede Hillary Clinton’s coronation. There are countless articles documenting the extra-vitriolic abuse directed at women and minorities for many years before “the Sanders campaign” existed.

Pretending that abusive or misogynistic behavior is unique to Sanders supporters is a blatant, manipulative scam, as anyone who ever used the internet before 2015 knows. Do pro-Clinton journalists really believe that Sanders-supporting women, or LGBTs, or people of color, are exempt from this online abuse from Clinton supporters, that this only happens to people who support Clinton? (in 2008, Krugman used the same tactic on behalf of the Clinton campaign by claiming that Obama supporters were particularly venomous and cult-like).

Just as neocons have long sought to exploit “anti-Semitism” accusations as a means of deterring and delegitimizing criticisms of Israel (thus weakening and trivializing the ability to combat that very real menace), Clinton media supporters are cynically exploiting serious and disturbing phenomena and weaponizing them as tools for the Clinton campaign. Online abuse in general, and toward specific groups, is a very real and serious problem; it is not a tool to be used to advance the political empowerment of Hillary Clinton by smearing Sanders supporters as particularly guilty of it.

Clinton-supporting journalists this week made much out of the fact that the Sanders campaign felt compelled to issue a statement asking its supporters to comport themselves respectfully online, as though this proved that Sanders supporters really are uniquely abusive. That’s absurd. What that actually proved is that pro-Clinton journalists at large media outlets vastly outnumber pro-Sanders journalists – that’s what it means to say that she’s the “establishment candidate” – and have collectively used their platform to spin this harmful narrative, forcing the Sanders campaign to try to defuse it.

To put it simply: if you really think that Sanders supporters are particularly abusive online, that says a great deal about which candidate you want to win, and nothing about Sanders supporters. If you spend your time praising Clinton and/or criticizing Sanders, of course you personally will experience more anger and vitriol from Sanders supporters than Clinton supporters.

Conversely, if you spend your time praising Sanders, you will experience far more anger and vitriol from Clinton supporters. If you spend your time criticizing Trump, you’ll think no faction is more abusive than Trump supporters. If you’re an Obama critic, you’ll conclude that his army of devoted worshipers are uniquely toxic. And if you opine that the original “Star Trek” series is overrated, you’ll be able to write a column about the supreme dark side of nerds, armed with numerous horrifying examples.

I got all of that – and so much more like it – without having to praise Hillary Clinton! How could that happen? We’ve been hearing that it’s Sanders supporters who uniquely spew this kind of ugliness at Clinton-supporting media figures.

Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate. Therefore, she has far more supporters with loud, influential media platforms than her insurgent, socialist challenger. Therefore, the people with the loudest media platforms experience lots of anger and abuse from Sanders supporters and none from Clinton supporters; why would devoted media cheerleaders of the Clinton campaign experience abuse from Clinton supporters? They wouldn’t, and they don’t. Therefore, venerating their self-centered experience as some generalized trend, they announce that Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive: because that’s what they, as die-hard Clinton media supporters, personally experience. This “Bernie Bro” narrative says a great deal about which candidate is supported by the most established journalists and says nothing unique about the character of the Sanders campaign or his supporters.

As I documented last week, it is hard to overstate how identical is the script being used by American media elites against Sanders when compared to the one used by the British media elite last year to demonize Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. This exact media theme was constantly used against Corbyn: that his supporters were uniquely abusive, vitriolic and misogynistic. That’s because the British media almost unanimously hated Corbyn and monomaniacally devoted themselves to his defeat: so of course they never experienced abuse from supporters of his opponents but only from supporters of Corbyn. And from that personal experience, they also claimed that Corbyn supporters were uniquely misbehaved, and then turned it into such a media narrative that the Corbyn campaign finally was forced to ask for better behavior from his supporters

Just as happened with Corbyn, the pro-Clinton establishment media first created this narrative about the Sanders campaign, then seized on its being forced to respond to it – the narrative they created – as vindication that they were right all along

It’s the exact same script. And in both cases, it’s not hard to understand. If you were a supporter of Hillary Clinton, think of all the things she’s said and done that you would be desperate not to have to discuss or defend.

If you’re a Clinton media supporter, the last thing you want to do is talk about her record in helping to construct the supremely oppressive and racist U.S. penal state. You don’t even want to acknowledge what Alexander and Coates wrote. You most certainly don’t want to talk about how she’s drowning both personally and politically in Wall Street money. You sure don’t want to talk about what her bombing campaign did to Libya, or the military risks that her no-fly-zone in Syria would entail, or the great admiration and affection she proclaimed for Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak, or revisit her steadfast advocacy of the greatest political crime of this generation, the invasion of Iraq. You don’t want to talk about her vile condemnation of “super-predators,” or her record on jobs-destroying trade agreements, or the fact that she changed her position from vehement opposition to support for marriage equality only after polls and most Democratic politicians switched sides.

Indeed, outside of a very small number of important issues where her record is actually good, you don’t want to talk much at all about her actual beliefs and actions. Watch how many progressive endorsements of Clinton simply ignore all of that. It’s much better to re-direct the focus away from Hillary Clinton’s history of beliefs and policy choices onto the repugnant, stray comments of obscure, unknown, anonymous people on the internet claiming (accurately or not) to be supporters of Bernie Sanders. The fact that it may be an effective tactic – mostly because most Democratic media figures are equally fervent Clinton supporters and thus willing to unite to prop it up and endorse it – does not make it any less ugly or deceitful.


9/11: Profuse and Elusive

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

A vast network of conspiracy theorists speculating on the attacks of 9/11 reveals nothing but our continued ignorance of the circumstances surrounding that event, which seems ever more shrouded in mystery. This in spite of the plethora of official reports, issued by the Senate, various congressional committees, and an official U.S. government commission  devoted to the subject, which held public hearings, and published its report. The recommendations in that document are even now being signed into law. Yet our understanding of why and how it happened, obscured by myth and the tricks of memory, seems less than when smoke was still pouring out of the twin towers. This seems distinctly odd, but what is odder still is the development of two parallel theories of what really happened on 9/11 that both point to our two best ostensible friends in the Middle East as complicit in, if not the source, of the terror.

The first suspect is Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Oil, where billionaire sheiks live in incredibly decadent luxury while preaching and subsidizing the austere puritanism of Wahhabist Islam. An entire school of thought has grown up on the right as well as the left, positing a Saudi connection to the 9/11 hijackers that has been hinted at repeatedly but never conclusively proved. The best the Saudi conspiracy theorists can come up with is the 27 redacted pages of the Senate Report on 9/11, the sort of “evidence” that leaves far too much to the imagination.

The first 15 minutes of Michael Moore’s “ Fahrenheit 9/11 “ replete with lurid images of sinister-looking Saudis in flowing robes“ is the purest and crudest distillation of this theory. Moore, like many on the pro-war right, reiterates the anti-Saudi mantra, reminding viewers that 17 out of 19 of the hijackers were Saudi. Whether or how this means that they were acting on orders from Riyadh is never elaborated on.

There is a purely right-wing version of this theory, without the Bush-bashing, emanating from American pro-Likud circles. Adherents of this approach tried to link the hijackers to a friend of a friend of a friend of a third cousin of someone assisted financially by Princess Haifa, wife of Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar, but nothing ever came of it. The leftist version, however, involves the former president and his close advisors as the central co-conspirators: this is the “they bombed themselves” school of thought, which somehow manages to drag in the CIA and any number of top U.S. government officials, all supposedly in on a plan to utilize the attacks as the basis of a coup.

The methodology of this school is to ask: Cui bono? Who benefits? And they stop there. Because, after all, what more do we need to know?

Well, a few facts would help. But all we get is the redacted pages of the Senate’s 9/11 report and the hazy, fact-free innuendo of books like Forbidden Truth, which posits a conspiracy by an unholy trinity of the Saudi princes, the all-powerful Carlyle Group, and the Bush family.

On the other hand, Senator Bob Graham has written an entire book based on the accusation that the Bush administration deliberately covered up the involvement of Saudi agents with two of the 9/11 conspirators living in San Diego. Graham, the former head of the Senate intelligence committee, and a rather quixotic presidential candidate, avered there was not only “a compelling case that there was Saudi assistance,” but also points the finger at President Bush, who supposedly ordered the FBI “to restrain and obfuscate” the 9/11 investigation.

While Senator Graham’s foreign policy views are more theory than practice, nevertheless he must be credited with more than a little inside knowledge of the inner workings of the intelligence community. In a PBS interview with Gwen Ifill, the senator was asked if there were certain facts in the Senate committee report “which are classified that Americans should know about but can’t?” Graham’s reply merited mile-high headlines:

“Yes, going back to your question about what was the greatest surprise. I agree with what Senator Shelby said, the degree to which the agencies were not coordinating was certainly a surprise: but also I was surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States.”

Graham goes on to make clear that he means more than one foreign government was involved in the events leading up to 9/11. They had some degree of foreknowledge if not outright complicity , and they aren’t through with us yet. Graham continues:

“I am stunned that we have not done a better job of pursuing that to determine if other terrorists received similar supports, and even more important, if the infrastructure of a foreign government assisting terrorists still exists for the current generation of terrorists who are planning the next plots. To me that is an extremely significant issue and most of that information is classified. I think overly classified.”

Graham’s lament brings to mind the remark of a government spokesman to Carl Cameron, of Fox News, who reported the following in December 2001:

“There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.'”

Now we branch off into the alternate theory, far more controversial than the Saudi conspiracy, which posits that the hijackers were being watched by an extensive Israeli intelligence network operating on U.S. soil. Cameron’s four-part series, broadcast in that bitter winter of 2001, caused a sensation and then dropped into the black hole of journalistic memory, enjoying a periodic revival as various other aspects of the story came out in dribs and drabs.

‘Salon’ reported on a mysterious outbreak of suspicious incidents, in the months prior to 9/11, involving young Israelis who claimed to be “art students,” and who made it a habit to approach government facilities as if they were casing the joint. A 60 page interagency report, parented by the BATF, was leaked that documented the activities of this group, which obviously had more to do with the art of intelligence-gathering than with painting. Even more ominously, the young Israelis, in some instances, would approach government employees at home, and clearly had access to information they shouldn’t have.

The ‘Salon’ piece, by Christopher Ketcham, theorized that the purpose of the “art students” operation might have been to divert attention away from something, to blow a lot of smoke and blind intelligence agencies to activities that were going on right under their noses.

Le Monde followed up with reporting on the geographical synchronicity of the hijackers’ odyssey though America and the location of the various colonies of Israeli “art students,” as if the former were being shadowed by the latter:

“More than a third of these ‘students,’ who, according to the report, moved in at least 42 American cities, stated they resided in Florida. Five at least were intercepted in Hollywood, and two in Fort Lauderdale. Hollywood is a town of 25,000 inhabitants to the north of Miami, close to Fort Lauderdale. At least 10 of the 19 terrorists of 9/11 were residing in Florida.

“Four of the five members of the group that diverted American Airlines flight number 11 – Mohammed Atta, Abdulaziz Al-Omari, Walid and Wahd Al-Shehri, as well as one of the five terrorists of United flight 175, Marwan Al-Shehhi , resided all at various times in… Hollywood, Florida. As for Ahmed Fayez, Ahmed and Hamza Al-Ghamdi and Mohand Al-Shehri, who took over United flight 75, like Said Al-Ghamdi, Ahmed Al-Haznawi and Ahmed Al-Nami, of United flight 93 which crashed September 11 in Pennsylvania, and Nawaq Al-Hamzi, of AA flight 77 (crashed into the Pentagon), they all at one time resided at Delray Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale.

“This convergence is, inter alia, the origin of the American conviction that one of the tasks of the Israeli “students” would have been to track the Al-Qaida terrorists on U.S. territory, without informing the federal authorities of the existence of the plot.”

The Israelis, a silent omnipresent bodyguard, encircled Mohammed Atta and his cohorts, watching, and waiting , for 9/11, the catalytic event that would trigger a war binding the U.S. and Israel closer than ever before, a war that would not end even with the American occupation of Iraq , and would redound mostly to the advantage of the Israelis.

Finally, the respected German weekly ‘Die Zeit’ capped these revelations with a story entitled “Next Door to Mohammed Atta,” which cited French intelligence and focused on the close proximity of the “art students” and the hijackers in the south Florida town of Hollywood, and environs:

“Not until after the attacks of September 11 did the consequences of the spy ring become clear. Apparently the agents were not interested in military or industrial facilities, but were shadowing a number of suspects, who were later involved in the terrorist attacks against the US. According to a report of the French intelligence agency that Die Zeit examined, ‘according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells.’

“According to the report, the Mossad agents were interested in the leader of the terrorists, Mohammed Atta and his key accomplice, Marwan al-Shehi. Both lived in Hamburg before they settled in Hollywood, Florida in order to plan the attacks. A Mossad team was also operating in the same town. The leader, Hanan Serfati, had rented several dwellings. Everything indicates that the terrorists were constantly observed by the Israelis. The chief Israeli agent was staying right near the post office where the terrorists had a mailbox. TheMossad also had its sights on Atta’s accomplice Khalid al-Midhar, with whom the CIA was also familiar, but allowed to run free.'”

As news of an Israeli spy ring in the Pentagon roils the political waters and causes us to rethink just who our friends and enemies really are, let us pause to consider how we got to where we are today.

And where is that?

Hip-deep in Iraq, and in way over our heads, mired down in a ceaseless war that threatens to expand and has had the exact opposite of its intended result, swelling the ranks of terrorist groups worldwide. As bin Laden and his lieutenants strike from Spain to Russia to Baghdad in a triangle of death spanning two continents, the third anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity only brings the promise of more to come. The project to “democratize” the Middle East has only succeeded in pulverizing it. We have passed the thousand mark in the number of American deaths, but the Iraqis have suffered ten times that in Baghdad alone. Their relatives, loved ones, neighbors and friends will hate us as long as they live, and, in the dark recesses of a cave somewhere, Osama bin Laden is smiling.

But so is Ariel Sharon. The Likud dream of a Greater Israel is making important advances: new settlements, along with a new American acquiescence in the face of Israeli aggression, have emboldened and empowered the increasingly militant Israelis. The extremists have won: so much so that Sharon is now considered a “moderate.”

The revelation that the FBI had been investigating the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for over two years, conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Israeli penetration of U.S. Government agencies and the commission of possible illegal acts, including espionage, sheds new light on Israel’s secret war against America, the so far hidden aspect of what we call the war on terrorism. The sheer scope of this investigation, in terms of manpower and other resources, suggests an Israeli covert operation much as Cameron described it: extensive, multi-leveled, and aggressive.

The mystery of 9/11 is a long way from being solved, and today, on this somber anniversary, we seem far from dispersing the murk and myth that obfuscates its true origins. We know that al-Qaeda and ultimately bin Laden conceived the plot, but how did they carry it off without at least some official governmental assistance, however passive and indirect?

The answer, it seems safe to say, is that they didn’t: The Israelis had some fair amount of foreknowledge, based on the above evidence, and neglected to let us in on the secret until it was far too late. It would appear that Senator Graham’s theory has some validity, and that the hijackers were aided by a faction of the Saudi royal family. The two theories are not mutually exclusive. It wouldn’t be the first time two mortal enemies moved in tandem to their mutual advantage.

If Graham can point to the redacted pages of the Senate committee’s 9/11 report to bolster the link to the Saudis, then the adherents of the Israeli complicity theory can point to the news that the White House is pressuring the Justice Department to quash the investigation into Israel’s spy nest in the Pentagon. As the Financial Times reports:

“An FBI investigation into suspected security breaches involving Pentagon officials and Israel is unlikely to result in prosecution of senior figures following pressure from the White House, according to people familiar with the case.. Analysts said that although the neoconservative proponents of regimechange

in Iraq and Iran had fallen out of favour with the White House, the presidential election in November still afforded them protection.

“Sources familiar with the investigation said the White House and John Ashcroft, the US attorney-general, had intervened to apply the brakes. ‘The White House is leaning on the FBI. Some people in the FBI are very upset, they think Ashcroft is playing politics with this,'” a former intelligence official said.

“Paul McNulty, the Virginia district attorney in charge of the probe, had been told to slow down, the sources said. Asked for comment, Mr McNulty’s office would only say that the investigation was continuing.”

In the act of covering up, the government admits more than it cares to, fueling what the mandarins of the conventional wisdom deride as “conspiracy theories.” But the story of 9/11 is about a conspiracy if it is about anything at all. Three years later, one of the few certainties we have about it is that we have yet to unlock its mysteries


How can the world fight Zika – silent menace that threatens the unborn?

Health chiefs are gathering on Monday to decide how to contain the outbreak

January 31. 2016

by Robin McKie

The Guardian

Many of the world’s leading health experts will gather for an emergency meeting in Geneva on Monday to debate a single critical issue: does the outbreak of Zika virus disease in South and Central America represent an international health crisis?

Most scientists and doctors concerned with the outbreak – linked to an alarming rise in cases of a foetal deformation called microcephaly – believe the answer is an undoubted yes. The terrible effects of Zika threaten much of the planet, they believe.

This outbreak meets all the criteria of a public health emergency,” said Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust. “It not only crosses national borders but is affecting a whole region. We need to be prepared for this disease to start spreading and help countries across the world by preparing them for its arrival.

The Ebola outbreak which took more than 11,000 lives in west Africa between 2014 and 2015 was terrible. However, this outbreak is in many ways worse, for we have got this silent infection which – in a group of highly vulnerable individuals, pregnant women – is associated with a horrible outcome for their babies.”

There are several problems facing health experts. For a start, there is no vaccine and no immediate prospect of one. “Trying to develop a vaccine which would have to be tested on pregnant women is a practical and ethical nightmare,” said Mike Turner, head of infection and immunobiology at the Wellcome Trust.

In addition, at least 80% of those infected with the virus show no symptoms. Tracking the disease, therefore, becomes very difficult. Finally, there is the nature of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species that spreads Zika (and other diseases such as dengue and yellow fevers).

This mosquito thrives on 21st-century conditions,” said Farrar. “It loves urban life and has spread across the entire tropical belt of the planet, and, of course, that belt is expanding as global warming takes effect.” In fact, only two nations, Chile and Canada, in the whole of the Americas are free of Aedes aegypti and both essentially cold countries are likely to be the only ones that escape a Zika outbreak.

The World Health Organisation says as many as four million clinical cases of Zika could affect the Americas. Other experts suspect the figure will be higher. “Four million clinical cases may sound a lot but it may well be an underestimate,” said Professor Paul Reiter, a consultant on mosquito-borne diseases at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This view is backed by virologist Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at Nottingham University. “The numbers likely to be infected by Zika in the Americas outbreak are immense,” he said. “The virus has been unleashed in an area where its insect vector is widespread and the human population has never been exposed to it in the past. They don’t have any immunity and so the mosquito can pass the virus from person to person unhindered.”

The spread of Zika raises other questions. How did it get into the region and what turned a virus that was rated harmless and unworthy of medical attention a year ago into one that has such a grim impact on the unborn?

Most experts believe the virus was brought into the region by infected but symptomless carriers. “One suggestion is that a few of the thousands of fans who gathered for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were Zika virus carriers,” said Paul Kellam, head of virus genomics at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge. “They were then bitten by the mosquito Aedes aegypti which, of course, is widespread through the Americas. Those mosquitoes then bit other individuals and so a pool of infected people was created.”

The question of how the disease began to produce its grim foetal side-effects is harder to answer. “The Zika virus was originally found among people in the Zika area of Uganda just after the second world war,” said Myles Druckman, International SOS’s regional medical director for the Americas. “It spread to south-east Asia and then to some of the Pacific islands. Most of those infected displayed no symptoms while a few suffered fever, painful joints and sometimes a rash.”

It was only when Zika reached Brazil that it was linked to microcephaly. “The Zika virus began to show itself in numbers of infected by spring last year,” said Druckman. “Then, by September, health officials noticed that numbers of cases of microcephaly had also begun to rise dramatically. There should have been about 200 cases. In the end, doctors counted more then 4,000 and have linked most of these to Zika.”

Microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born with small, deformed heads. Those affected can suffer convulsions, seizures and neurological defect. It had never been associated with Zika before the virus reached Brazil, which suggests that some time in the recent past either Zika changed biologically or there was some alteration in the behaviour of Aedes aegypti. Most suspect the virus must have mutated so that it produces this dreadful symptom, though this interpretation will take some time to confirm.

In the short term, researchers agree that the Zika outbreak will peak at some point. “It is likely to burn itself out as people become exposed then immune,” said Ball. “But it is unlikely to disappear completely. In future it will probably survive by causing sporadic outbreaks and by infecting people who haven’t been exposed to the virus, for example children.”

However, it is the prospect of this new version of Zika disease continuing to spread round the world that worries scientists such as Turner. “One positive aspect of this outbreak is that it has centred on a country that has a well-funded health service. What really concerns me is the threat of it returning to Africa in its new form. It could have a devastating impact then.”

So what can be done to halt its spread? In the short term, controlling vector numbers is considered to be paramount by experts. Many approaches are being tested. For example, Brazil is involved in international trials of genetically modified mosquitoes developed by the British company Oxitec. These mosquitoes – males – are genetically engineered to cause the death of their offspring once they have mated with virus-carrying females. In trials in the south-eastern city of Piracicaba, the mosquito population fell by 90%, researchers have reported.

The technique sounds promising. However, Turner counselled caution. “Attacking the mosquito is a good idea but we have been attacking mosquitoes for decades now and they are still a major problem. And, yes, GM mosquitoes are under trial in several countries including Brazil but they are not yet ready for mass distribution. It is an open question if we can scale it up to the level we need in the near future.” In fact, health officials may be forced to return to older, more controversial techniques to control Aedes aegypti, including mass spraying with DDT, said Turner.

Such a move would be contentious. DDT is a highly effective insecticide but its use in the 1950s and 60s was linked to rises in cancer in humans and deaths of wildlife, particularly birds. Its use is now banned in many parts of the world.

We would not normally back the idea of using DDT but we are in a situation where there has to be a trade-off,” said Turner. “We have to balance the risk posed to the environment with the terrible impact this virus is having on the unborn. We should be thinking about the ethics and practicalities of this now.”

This point was backed by Farrar. “Nothing should be off the table when discussing what to do about Zika because we cannot predict where this epidemic is going. We are in a dreadful situation in many ways.”

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