TBR News July 24, 2016

Jul 24 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. July 24, 2016:”The left wing and liberal section of the world’s media has been loud in praise of the Clinton woman and even louder in snide remarks about Mr. Trump. The general public, obviously, is not listening and Trump has an excellent chance at the Oval Office. The liberal wing does not like to talk about the flood of illegals in this country or the looming and terrible mortgage problem that the government orders them to be silent about. The mortgage swindle and the rising unemployment problems in the United States, plus the weakening American positions in world affairs are never addressed in the media. They are indeed discussed in public but only on an Internet that Obama and Sunstein have desperately wanted to control (but can’t). And then there is what is often called the ‘Deep Internet’ which governmental snoopers cannot access and this entity allows all manner of secure communications to flow back and forth. Why, one asks, are the government agencies so frantic to spy on the general public? They do not want a reprise of the Vietnam protests that came very close to open rebellion.”

Thoughts of the Forbidden Man

Only through his capacity for adaptability does the force of the written word approach that of oral speech. The orator may deal with the samesubject as a book deals with; but if he has the genius of a great and popular orator he will scarcely ever repeat the same argument or the same material in the same form on two consecutive occasions. He will always follow the lead of the great mass in such a way that from the living emotion of his hearers the apt word which he needs will be suggested to him and in its turn this will go straight to the hearts of his hearers. Should he make even a slight mistake he has the living correction before him. As I have already said, he can read the play of expression on the faces of his hearers, first to see if they understand what he says, secondly to see if they take in the whole of his argument, and, thirdly, in how far they are convinced of the justice of what has been placed before them. Should he observe, first, that his hearers do not understand him he will make his explanation so elementary and clear that they will be able to grasp it, even to the last individual.

Secondly, if he feels that they are not capable of following him he will make one idea follow another carefully and slowly until the most slow-witted hearer no longer lags behind. Thirdly, as soon as he has the feeling that they do not seem convinced that he is right in the way he has put things to them he will repeat his argument over and over again, always giving fresh illustrations, and he himself will state their unspoken objection. He will repeat these objections, dissecting them and refuting them, until the last group of the opposition show him by their behaviour and play of expression that they have capitulated before his exposition of the case.

Not infrequently it is a case of overcoming ingrained prejudices which are mostly unconscious and are supported by sentiment rather than reason. It is a thousand times more difficult to overcome this barrier of instinctive aversion, emotional hatred and preventive dissent than to correct opinions which are founded on defective or erroneous knowledge. False ideas and ignorance may be set aside by means of instruction, butemotional resistance never can. Nothing but an appeal to these hiddenforces will be effective here. And that appeal can be made by scarcely any writer. Only the orator can hope to make it.


Brexit: UK could retain control of migration from EU for up to 7yrs while staying in single market

July 24, 2016


In a major concession from the EU, the UK could be exempted from free-movement rules while still retaining access to the single market. The ‘emergency brake’ on immigration could be extended to seven years – better than any deal David Cameron secured.

As a potential Brexit framework starts to emerge, neighbors keep reminding the UK to get on with it, but the negotiations are ongoing. This latest concession, if put into force, would be unprecedented, although unnamed high-ranking UK officials told the Guardian it’s still “very early days.”

In the run-up to the signing of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty governing the exit, British Prime Minister Theresa May has been meeting with EU leaders. Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande have been found to have different feelings on how Britain should proceed. Hollande was impatient for May’s decision on triggering the exit clause at their meeting last week. And the French leader is not in favor of giving Britain any concessions on the freedom of movement rule.

The potential ‘emergency brake’ exemption on migration for up to seven years is something which could allay British fears associated with migration from EU states. As part of the same deal, Britain would keep access to the single European market – something seen as potentially beneficial for the rest of Europe.

The seven-year free-movement brake is just “one of the ideas now on the table,” according to British officials speaking to the Guardian.

If the deal is passed, the UK would still have to contribute to the EU budget, if a little less, and it would also lose its negotiating seat at the single market talks to come, due to not being a full member.

France isn’t the only one who has wondered why Britain voted ‘Leave’, then just stared at the door. Central European members like Poland have been asking for a clean break. Despite that, they should find the deal favorable in that it promises to reduce the shock delivered to the EU economy by Brexit, as the UK would stay part of the single market.

And if Britain were to decide on leaving the single market, Leave campaign architects Boris Johnson –now the foreign secretary – and Michael Gove have talked about savings of around £350 million (US$460 million) a week. They said the money could go toward the NHS – one of the country’s more cash-strapped sectors.

It was later in New York at the UN that Johnson admitted that staying in the EU single market could be more beneficial.

“I’ve absolutely no doubt that that balance can be struck,” he said, promising to pick up negotiations with EU neighbors in the coming weeks. “Everybody wishes to make fast progress in the economic interests both of Britain and of the European Union. I think there is very much a deal there to be done, and the faster we can get it done the better.”

Another recent problem with Brexit had to do with its attractiveness to other members who may also wish to leave the EU. There were concerns that giving Britain too good a deal could force their hand. But according to deputy director of the Rome-based Institute for International Affairs, Nathalie Tocci, who is special adviser to the EU high representative for foreign and security policy Federica Mogherini, Italy could find the single market idea for Britain attractive.

“I see no reason why it could not last, say, between seven and 10 years. This was how long temporary derogations lasted after the 2004 enlargement, which the UK chose not to benefit from,” she said.

The Dutch are also in favor, as long as the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK are observed for the foreseeable future as well.

The idea of a migration brake was considered by former Prime Minister David Cameron as part of the ‘Remain’ campaign, and the limited concessions gained were cited as one of the reasons why the campaign failed.

France opens up its eyes to Salafism, rethinks counterterrorism

July 24, 2016

by Catherine Shakdam


Could it be that France has just blown the whistle on Salafism, and finally anchored its counter-terrorism narrative against not Islam, but the devolution which has worked to hijack its Scriptures and redact its principles?

France it seems has woken up from its political stupor – and not a moment too late. Faced with the abomination it allowed in – radicalism – the French government had no other choice but to reassess its counter-terror position. Bearing in mind that France has rubbed shoulders with those powers which from the shadows continue to wield Terror as an asymmetrical weapon of colonialism, the French Republic is likely set for a grand political re-alignment.

At this point in the story we ought to have realized that Terror in itself is not the end-game, rather the expression of a grander political will, which is covertly vying for world domination. However insane – and let’s just say doomed to fail – this pursuit maybe, it nevertheless remains a reality that world nations have failed to adequately grasp.

So far we have operated under the premise that Terror is inherently Islamic, and that in some ways all Muslims are bound to fall under radicalism’s spell – the enemies of civilization and all things fair and true.

Only, Muslims have been the number one victims of radicalism. Worse still, Muslims have been caught between rising intolerance against their religious denomination and the violence of radicals whose bigotry has called for the annihilation of all they see as apostasy to their dogma.

If only ever so slowly France is beginning to come to terms with such a concept – that far from being the problem, Muslims could hold the solution to radicalism, and that the real enemy the world is de facto at war with has been offered a seat at the world table.

For once … and I need to add “á mon corps defendant”, I happen to agree with both French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, when they call for the state to take measures against Salafism.“Yes, Salafism, which has destroyed and perverted a part of the Muslim world, is a threat for Muslims, and also a danger for France,” Valls said in an address at the French National Assembly.

May I dare say: “We told you so!”

May I dare say that for well over a decade we have been collectively asserting those very truths the French PM finally got around to verbalizing. Muslims of all shapes and sizes, all denominations, and political persuasions have argued, debated, and pleaded with the world against Salafism – also known as Wahhabism. The only real difference which exists between the two schools of thoughts is that a branch of Salafism makes room for change through evangelization, as opposed to violence.

For all intents and purposes the two are indistinguishable – both calling for the annihilation of the proverbial infidels.

May I dare say as well that France was instrumental in the spread of this cancer, since it is under its officials’ care that Salafism was made to become the Islamic norm. There I believe Marine Le Pen will wholeheartedly agree with me since she herself has been most vocal against what she describes as “Islamic extremism.”

But let’s discuss terminology for a second. As you will find, terminology might hold the answer to this most peculiar problem we are all facing – how to distinguish between Islam and Salafism?

Here I know many will find my words scandalous, and to some my conclusions will forever place me in the camp of the “rafidis” – those monsters Wahhabis have claimed are un-Islamic for daring to hold true to a tradition which recognizes not their authority but that of another house. If you ever wondered, I’m quite happy sitting there, since there I found the principles of justice and tolerance still hold true.

Back to my question: How can we tell which is which? Quite simply: We don’t! Wahhabism, Salafism, whatever you want to call it, does not belong to Islam. I know that this concept is hard to envision when all you have been told of Islam is that its people’s sole purpose is to rise as tyrants over nations, but the truth of the matter is that radicals have abused Islam to quench their own twisted political hunger. I would like to think that the brutal beheading of a Palestinian boy this July forever closed the debate on whether or not Wahhabism represents the interests of Muslim communities – never mind offering a mirror to their inner thoughts.

Muslims, I’ll have you know, find Wahhabism atrociously despicable – an abomination we would like to see the back of, to never face again.

For the sake of argument, if Islam was in fact absolutely violent in its expression of faith, why would only a minority few advocate mass murder? There are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and unless I missed that show, they are not planning to obliterate nations under their prayer mats.For all the revolting xenophobic hatred the National Front has displayed to surge in the polls, Marine Le Pen is on to something when she accuses the state of complicity before Terror. “ISIL [Islamic State/IS, formerly ISIS] and their murderous ideology that we let develop in our country are the root cause of the wave of terrorist attacks France has endured,” she told the press following the bloody Nice attack.

Yes Ma’am, I happen to agree with you. Let me however stress that if we agree on the origin of this Terror, we probably do not on the means which ought to be exerted to defeat it. When Marine Le Pen is advocating for the “eradication of Islamic fundamentalism,” I fear violent repression is on her mind.

I would personally champion a subtler approach, one which does entail another witch-hunt… something like political ostracization for those powers in league with Terror, followed closely by financial monitoring. If we were to cut off funding I would argue that Terror would soon suffocate, and ultimately lose much of its traction. Let us remember that not all terrorists are there out of ideological indoctrination – many, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has established, are hired-guns.

Rather than blame Muslims for the cancer which has permeated their communities, why not empower them in their resistance?

How about we hold accountable those whose actions and rhetoric has fanned radicals’ agenda: the media, and disingenuous politicians and officials? How about we start there?

Salafism in France is taught in over “2,300” mosques”, said Prime Minister Valls. My question is: did France only just come to this realization? Seriously now!

French Muslims, with government support, “should lead the fight [against Salafism] and clearly separate Islam in France from these perverse ideologies,” he added.

Yes indeed, but let’s not play counter-terrorism to the tune of secularism and pave the way for the criminalization of religion altogether, because THAT would be replicating Terror.

Counterfeit pills laced with deadly opioid infiltrating drug market, DEA says

The illegal drugs look like known prescription painkillers and contain high amounts of fentanyl as law enforcement says problem is expected to escalate

July 24, 2016

by Susan Zalkind

The Guardian

Boston-Hundreds of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills laced with a deadly synthetic opioid have infiltrated the US drug market, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, with the problem expected to escalate.

The pills are pressed using pharmacy-grade machines to look like known prescription painkillers that an increasing number of Americans addicted to opioids seek to buy illegally. They contain various amounts of fentanyl – a synthetic drug between 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. Even a few extra grains of the drug can prove deadly. Often law enforcement only determines they are counterfeit after they are taken to a laboratory for testing.

Potent, unregulated, and, to the untrained eye, indistinguishable from pharmacy grade medication, the counterfeit pills put people who use painkillers for non-medical purposes – 4.3 million in 2014 according to the last federal survey – at risk of accidentally taking a far more potent drug than intended, to often fatal consequences.

“It’s a huge concern, people don’t know what they are getting,” said DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson, citing an uptick in accidental overdoses by unwitting users.

According to the report, the counterfeit pills are sold as Roxycodone for $20 a pill on the streets of Miami, and for $10 each in the New York club scene.

The DEA report, unclassified Friday, serves not only as a warning to the public, but provides a new detailed look into the burgeoning, and extremely profitable, fentanyl trade that’s defying traditional trafficking patterns as the synthetic opioid crosses Chinese, Mexican, Canadian, and finally, American borders.

Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical painkiller, first invented in 1959, and like oxycodone, it can be prescribed by doctors to treat pain. Yet, fentanyl and its analogues – chemical variants of the drug – are also being manufactured illegally.

The Guardian previously reported that between January and April of this year, nine people died of counterfeit Xanax in Pinellas County, Florida, and 52 people overdosed, 10 fatally, in Sacramento, California, from pills laced with fentanyl designed to look like the painkiller Norco. In the new report the DEA concludes that because the dosing in those pills is varied and the powders not thoroughly mixed, “the producers were likely new to incorporating fentanyl in pill production.”

The DEA reports that the counterfeit pill phenomenon is now widespread. “This is becoming a trend, not a series of isolated incidents,” according to the report.

The drug agency concludes that the problem is likely to escalate, chiefly because of how profitable it is to cut and resell the highly potent opioid. The DEA estimates that 666,666 pills can be made per kilo and sold at between $10-$20 each.

The multimillions of dollars that buyers stand to make from distributing this product only stands to make the opioid problem in America worse. In 2014, an estimated 80 people per day died of an opioid overdose in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Fentanyls will continue to appear in counterfeit opioid medications and will likely appear in a variety of non-opiate drugs as traffickers seek to expand the market in search of higher profits,” concludes the report. “Overdoses and deaths from counterfeit drugs containing fentanyls will increase as users continue to inaccurately dose themselves with imitation medications.”

The US is currently in the midst of the second of two fentanyl epidemics. The first broke out in 2006 in the Midwest. The drug was mixed with heroin to increase its potency, and resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, mostly by heroin users who were unaware that the drug contained fentanyl, or how potent it would be. But when DEA agents were able to trace the source of the fentanyl to a lab in Toluca, Mexico, the epidemic stopped.

Like in 2006, illicit fentanyl first came on the scene as a heroin additive, escalating an already deadly opioid epidemic. US law enforcement agencies began seizing the counterfeit pills later, in 2014.

This time, the epidemic is being sourced by chemists in Chinese laboratories. The DEA report reveals that many of these laboratories also produce pharmaceuticals that are sold legally in the US. Meanwhile, China is not experiencing a fentanyl epidemic, according to the DEA, meaning that all of the fentanyl produced in Chinese labs are for foreign use.

Much of the fentanyl made in China is sold to producers in Mexico. The DEA reports that some of these groups are affiliated with Mexican cartels, while others are not.

The DEA also reports that small-scale fentanyl labs have been found in the US and in Canada, where the fentanyl crisis predates the US by a year. In some cases the drugs are mailed directly to suppliers and users in the US and Canada, via a complex shipping route, in which the packages often change hands, obscuring the origin of the original supplier. The pill presses used to make the counterfeit pills also originate in China, and are shipped to the US and Canada, often with mislabeled packaging.

The findings of large and small-scale production laboratories indicate a “vast expansion of the traditional illicit fentanyl market”, according to the report. This epidemic is also far more extensive, with eight times as many fentanyl seizures in 2015 than there were in the 2006 epidemic.

Expert: Depression is no motive for mass violence

Police have said the suspected Munich attacker exhibited “signs of depression.” In a DW interview, suicide researcher Georg Fiedler discusses the complexity of the case and draws parallels to similar previous incidents.

July 23, 2016


DW: Mr. Fiedler, is it possible that someone could use a weapon against others because they are “depressed”?

Georg Fiedler: First I would like to clarify that the term “signs of depression” describes how someone appears to others. I would say that the police were very cautious in describing the perpetrator. “Signs of depression” in no way suggests that someone suffers a psychiatric illness. And even if they do, someone who suffers from depression is generally not someone who goes on a shooting rampage. People who are depressed direct their aggression against themselves, if anyone. Therefore one cannot assume that depression was the reason or cause of the attack.

How prevalent is depression in Germany?

About a third of the people living here show “signs of depression.” But depression is a very broad term. It can suggest that someone lives reclusively, broods a lot, blames oneself or thinks their problems are somehow their own fault. There are a lot of things that play into the equation. Yet these character traits in no way mean that the person is sick. “Depression” is a term that is used in a rather inflationary sense here. Real depression is a very serious illness. Depression consists of symptoms such as constant serious brooding, waking up early and sleeplessness over a period of weeks or months.

The perpetrator was an 18-year-old German-Iranian. What could push a young person like him to commit such a horrible act?

One has to be careful in judging such a case. One thing is clear: There were a number of reasons for the crime. Apparently the perpetrator was undergoing psychiatric treatment. Therefore psychiatric illness could have played a role, but it was certainly not the only factor. Computer games that glorify violence, and are so popular with today’s youth, are always pointed to after such atrocities. But the fact that the perpetrator liked to play so-called “ego-shooter” games cannot be the sole reason for this outburst of violence. People that draw that conclusion are oversimplifying. The reasons for such acts are much more complex than that.

The term “extended suicide” was used in reference to the perpetrator. What does that term mean?

The term refers to the fact that a perpetrator takes the lives of people close to them when they commit suicide. That can refer to a mother that kills herself and her child, or a father that kills himself and his entire family. In both cases the perpetrator exhibits a delusional notion that his or her victims could not possibly survive without them. Thus, one could even speak of altruistic motives in such cases. But that was absolutely not the case in Munich.

Does the Munich attack remind you of other cases?

Here too: The intentional crash of the Germanwings plane last March was certainly not exclusively related to the pilot’s depression. I would think that he also had problematic personality traits. One of those traits would be a “delusional” perception of the world around him. If we think back a few years, the Winnenden shooter was also being treated for depression. But again: There were a whole series of factors that led to the attack, none of which had anything to do with depression. A psychiatric diagnosis of depression would actually speak against such an act.

Do you see correlations between the two attacks?

I found it rather telling that the Munich shooter seemed to pick out and shoot young people. In that sense the victims that were targeted were very similar to those targeted in Winnenden. It also brings to mind the Norway massacre that took place five years ago, in which a gunman killed 77 people, the great majority of whom were very young.

This interview was conducted by Daniel Heinrich.

SSRI Stories | Antidepressant Nightmares


SSRI Stories is a collection of over 6,000 stories that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals) in which prescription drugs were mentioned and in which the drugs may be linked to a variety of adverse outcomes including violence.

This updated site includes the stories from the previous site and new ones from 2011 to date.  We have used a new “category” classification system on the new stories.  We are working back through previously SSRI Stories to bring them into the new classification system.  In the meantime use the search box in the upper right column to search through both the old and the new stories.

SSRI Stories focuses primarily on problems caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac (fluoxetine) was the first.  For more see About SSRIs.   Other medications prescribed as antidepressants that fit the “nightmares” theme of the collected stories are sometimes included.

A Warning

Adverse reactions are most likely to occur when starting or discontinuing the drug, increasing or lowering the dose or when switching from one SSRI to another. Adverse reactions are often diagnosed as bipolar disorder when the symptoms may be entirely iatrogenic (treatment induced). Withdrawal, especially abrupt withdrawal, from any of these medications can cause severe neuropsychiatric and physical symptoms. It is important to withdraw extremely slowly from these drugs, often over a period of a year or more, under the supervision of a qualified and experienced specialist. Withdrawal is sometimes more severe than the original symptoms or problems.

Murder and Militias – Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite Plan After ISIS

July 23, 2016

by Anhvinh Doanvo


Since ISIS’s losses of 45% of its Iraqi territory over the past two years, we may be approaching the end of the war on ISIS. The conflict’s progression nevertheless raises hard questions on the potential resurgence of Sunni insurgencies like ISIS as American and Iraqi governments have failed to rein in destabilizing groups operating in Western Iraq. So long as murder, torture, and other human rights violations recur with impunity among Shiite forces operating in Sunni Iraqi provinces, there will be little reason to remain optimistic for the stability of Iraq.

During the capture of major Sunni cities from ISIS, the Iraqi army’s inefficiency demanded supplementation from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a counterinsurgency umbrella group composed of 100,000-120,000 volunteers operating under numerous, mostly Shiite, militias. In many of the largest battles, Shia PMF militias have played a larger role than indigenous Sunni militias – they’ve made up a third of the forces recapturing Ramadi and Fallujah and two-thirds of the fighters retaking Baiji and Tikrit. In Tikrit, Shiite PMF outnumbered Sunni militiamen by 20,000 to just 1,000.  In each of these cities, Sunnis comprised the majority of the population, with as many as 90% of Ramadi civilians being Sunni.

Contrary to pro-Shia sources, the PMF’s commitment to the fight against ISIS has demonstrated sectarian aims with little respect to Sunni civilians, not the rebirth of Iraqi nationalism. In Tikrit, 200 Sunni civilians were abducted, and several hundred homes to Sunnis were demolished by the Shia Hezbollah Battalions and League of the Righteous Forces. Reports of Shia PMF indiscriminately targeting civilians in Ramadi remain unclear, but more recently in Fallujah, they tortured more than a thousand civilians, beating them while dragging them by car. In every Sunni, they see an inhuman enemy, with a militiaman saying that “80%” of Sunnis are part of ISIS.

The PMF’s human rights violations have virtually become a national security risk – the intelligence community has said that because of fears of the Shia militias’ participation in the fight against ISIS, “Iraq’s Sunnis will remain willing to endure some deprivation under ISIL rule.”

To reign the PMF in and perhaps because militias are prohibited by Iraq’s constitution, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi adopted the PMF as part of Iraq’s armed forces earlier this year, while calling for the appointment of thousands of Sunnis to the PMF. A prison was also established for human rights offenders last year, but these measures have translated into little accountability.

According to the Human Rights Watch, more than 90 men of the Hezbollah Battalions tortured at least 600 civilians during last month’s Fallujah assault, but as of July, only “four or five” were arrested. Basam Ridha, the Washington representative of the PMF, said that “The reality is that they do cover for each other,” making it impossible to find credible witnesses. “They have done a lot of vicious activities… but they get away with it.”

American narratives have hardly helped. Brett McGurk, the Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, dismissed the PMF’s violations as “isolated atrocities” just as reports of the mass murder of 300 civilians by PMF forces were appearing.

Today’s incidents of murder, torture, and genocide are not “merely” issues that only diplomats have the luxury to debate – they are tomorrow’s paths to Iraq’s downfall. The US cannot possibly expect Sunni civilians to root out insurgents so long as the justice system remains broken and Shiite militias can freely murder and torture any Sunni that vexes them. When the Islamic State falls, the dominance of the Popular Mobilization Forces will renew insurgencies fighting against Kurdish and Shiite rights violations and tearing Iraq along sectarian lines. Today’s wars require the construction of societies and governments respecting the rights of all, for, without them, there shall be no end to war. Thus far, despite the PMF’s valuable contributions to the fight against ISIS, after each battle, they have only served to tear it all down.

Hacked emails cast doubt on hopes for party unity at Democratic convention

July 24, 2016

by Abby Phillip

The Washington Post

The release of thousands of embarrassing internal email exchanges between Democratic Party officials threatens to overshadow the party’s message of unity on the eve of the party’s convention in Philadelphia.

A trove of messages released by hackers on the website Wikileaks apparently show party officials working to boost Hillary Clinton’s candidacy during the primary.

The controversy comes at a critical time — just as Clinton is hoping to patch up disagreements with supporters of her primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And it undermines Clinton’s claim that her party’s convention would reveal markedly less disunity than the Republican convention in Cleveland last week.

Democrats now face the possibility that their embattled chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), will be marginalized in the convention to avoid acrimony on the floor.

She will not preside over the convention as its permanent chairman. But former representative Barney Frank, a co-chairman of the convention’s rules committee, denied that the appointment of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as permanent chairman was related to the email controversy.

“She was never going to be the permanent chairman of the convention,” Frank said in an interview on Sunday. “The national chair is never the permanent chair of the convention.”

Democratic convention officials and the Clinton campaign would not say whether Wasserman Schultz would have a speaking role at all. Frank noted that if she did not speak, it would be “unusual.”

On Sunday, Sanders renewed his call for Wasserman Schultz to resign and said that the emails vindicate his claims during the primary that party officials were actively working to undermine his candidacy.

“I think she should resign, period,” Sanders said on ABC News’ “This Week.” ”And I think we need a new chair who is going to lead us in a very different direction.”

Seeking to minimize the damage, Clinton campaign officials framed the leak as a political ploy, carried out by the Russian government to aid in the election of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said that the DNC would need to investigate the hack, including checking to see if any emails were “doctored,” and that the party would “take appropriate action.”

“What’s disturbing to us is that experts are telling us that Russian state hackers broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and other experts are now saying the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump,” Mook said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t think it’s coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here, and that’s disturbing.”

But that explanation seems unlikely to mollify Sanders supporters who are angry about the messages and are already distrustful of Clinton and the party.

On Saturday, after a tense meeting of the party’s rules committee, supporters of Clinton and Sanders reached a compromise to curtail the role of “superdelegates” in the party’s nominating process.

But the meeting also revealed unhappiness among Sanders supporters with Clinton’s choice of Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) as her running mate. By the end of the day, some of Sanders’s supporters mulled putting an alternate name into nomination in opposition to Kaine.

Even while Sanders sought to redirect the outrage over the leaked emails and urged his supporters to focus on Trump, he acknowledged that Kaine is not the vice presidential pick he had hoped for.

“Would I have preferred to see someone like an Elizabeth Warren selected by Secretary Clinton? Yes, I would have,” Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Asked about Kaine on CNN’s State of the Union, he added: “Are his political views different than mine? Yeah, they are. He’s more conservative than I am.”

Sensing an opening, Trump sent out a flurry of tweets criticizing Sanders for shifting his support to Clinton — and urging Sanders supporters to “fight.”

“Looks like the Bernie people will fight,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning. “If not, their BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS was a total waste of time.”

Monday’s convention program is expected to open with a showing of some of the party’s biggest political stars, and it will also highlight some of the party’s most progressive voices.

Sanders, first lady Michelle Obama and liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are all expected to kick off the opening session, which will be focused on hammering home Clinton’s agenda for families.

Sanders moved quickly on Sunday to separate the dispute with the DNC from his support for Clinton. He strongly denied that the revelations had changed his support for Clinton and said that the real threat was Trump.

“To my mind, what is most important now is the defeating of the worst candidate for president that I have seen in my lifetime, Donald Trump, who is not qualified to be president by temperament, not qualified to be president by the ideas that he has brought forth,” Sanders said on ABC.

Meanwhile, other Democrats acknowledged that the dispute threatened to cause a serious rift.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, a co-chair of the convention whose emails were also caught up in the leak, said that she apologized to Sanders’ campaign for the revelations.

“I think, the allegations, the emails, the insensitivity, the stupidity needs to be addressed and we are going the address it,” Brazile said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

WikiLeaks releases thousands of documents about Clinton and internal deliberations

July 22, 2016

by Tom Hamburger and Karen Tumulty

The Washington Post

As Hillary Clinton prepared to announce her 2016 running mate, a trove of nearly 20,000 emails were released by WikiLeaks on Friday, providing an embarrassing inside look at Democratic Party operations on the eve of the Democrats’ national convention.

The emails from the Democratic National Committee include discussions of Clinton’s chief rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.); details of perks provided to party donors attending the convention; and email exchanges between party officials, journalists and others.

The emails were released with an announcement by WikiLeaks on Twitter that linked readers to a WikiLeaks page inviting visitors to “Search the DNC email database.” A search box sits underneath a one-paragraph introduction:

“Today, Friday 22 July 2016 at 10:30am EDT, WikiLeaks releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee — part one of our new Hillary Leaks series,” the introduction says. “The leaks come from the accounts of seven key figures in the DNC,” including Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer and others. The newly released emails cover the period from January 2015 through May 25, 2016.

Friday’s digital document dump follows a report last month by The Washington Post that Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, gaining access to an entire database of opposition research. DNC and Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment Friday as reporters and campaign staff began to assess the situation.

One email written May 5 to DNC communications director Luis Miranda from another party official suggests looking at Bernie Sanders’ faith.

It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief,” the email from “marshall@dnc.org” says. “Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

It was well known that there had been friction between the Sanders campaign and an ostensibly impartial party apparatus.

The emails detail how bitter the relationship became, as the senator emerged as a real threat Clinton — the Democratic establishment’s pick — and refused to abandon his bid as it became clear she was going to win.

The release of the emails comes at a sensitive moment, as Clinton prepares to announce her vice presidential pick and the party gets ready to gather for its national convention in Philadelphia

One of the chief imperatives at the convention will be soothing whatever resistance remains to Clinton among the party’s liberal activist wing against unifying behind her.

Sanders’s supporters are crucial to Democratic hopes in the fall — both for the passion they bring to the contest, and for the vast amounts of money they are capable of raising.

An email attachment from Erik Stowe, the finance director for Northern California to Tammy Paster, a fundraising consultant, lists the benefits given to different tiers of donors to the Democratic National Convention starting next week in Philadelphia. The tiers range between a donation of $467,600 to $66,800 to the DNC, or alternatively need people to bundle a minimum of $1.25 million to $250,000 from other donors.

The top tier of donors will receive priority booking at a premier hotel in Philadelphia and free tickets to major convention events and six tickets to an “exclusive VIP party,” according to the document titled, “2016 Convention Packages.”

Anu Narayanswamy contributed to this report.

New DNC email leak reveals anti-Sanders bias, pro-Clinton collusion among top officials

July 22, 1016


A WikiLeaks dump of nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, the supposedly neutral governing organization of the Democratic Party, indicates that the committee strategized with the Clinton campaign and plotted against Bernie Sanders.

Collusion with Clinton and the media

A communication from late May laid out the pros and cons of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accepting an invitation to CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’, and indicated that the DNC was plotting its moves based on what would be amenable to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Clinton campaign is a mess, they’re afraid of their own shadow and didn’t like that we engaged,” DNC communications director Luis Miranda wrote. “But they’ll be unhappy regardless, so better to get out there and do some strong pivots and land good punches on Trump. They can’t tell us NOT to do TV right now, we shouldn’t pull ourselves out until they actually do.”

“It’s clear that Bernie messed up and that we’re on the right side of history,” Miranda wrote in another bullet point, referring to the Nevada convention.

“Let’s take this offline,” Wasserman Schultz said in response. “I basically agree with you.”

Wasserman Schultz and Miranda brainstormed ideas to attack Sanders’ position on the Israel/Palestine conflict with her communications team in one thread, with Wasserman Schultz saying that “the Israel stuff is disturbing” in reference to Sanders’ platform committee appointees attempts to include language denouncing the occupation of Palestinian territory in the Democratic platform.

The chairwoman says that the idea “HFA,” or Hillary For America, originally proposed the idea of using Israel/Palestine as “an ideal issue to marginalize Sanders on,” suggesting that the DNC were exchanging communications about anti-Sanders strategies with the Clinton campaign.

The DNC also appears to have made a secret “agreement” with Kenneth Vogel, an influential report for Politico.

An email from late April with the subject line “per agreement… any thoughts appreciated” shows that Vogel sent an advanced copy of a story about Hillary Clinton’s fundraising to the DNC even before his editor even saw it.

“Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn’t share it,” DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach wrote to  Miranda. “Let me know if you see anything that’s missing and I’ll push back.”

The published version of the story did not appear to have any significant edits from and was not favorable to the Clinton campaign, but the sending of a full, advanced copy to the subject of a story is considered to be a violation of journalistic ethics.

A source with familiar with the interaction between Politico and the DNC told RT America that the message was sent to officials to ensure accuracy in the story, and that it would have been difficult to ask for piecemeal clarifications due to its complexity. The “agreement,” in fact, referred to the DNC promising not to pass the story to a more favorable news outlet who might publish before  Politco.

Another email released in the Friday leak indicates that the DNC was in close contact with news websites on articles related to the Democratic Party.

A Real Clear Politics article said that Sanders supporters were causing a lack of unity at the Nevada Democratic Convention.

“This headline needs to be changed,”  Wasserman Schultz wrote to Miranda.

“We need to push back… Patrice, what happened, DNC had nothing to do with this, right?” Miranda replied, referring to DNC Director of Party Affairs Patrice Taylor.Taylor responded saying that the article should be changed the event was run by the state party and the disorder “sounds like internal issues amount [sic] Sanders supporters.”

“Walter, please connect with Stewart and get him to push back,” Miranda wrote. The last email on the thread says: “Done. Article has been updated.”

Plotting against Sanders

In a May 5 email, two top DNC executives plotted a smear against Sanders by drawing his Jewish faith into question and painting him as an atheist in strongly religious states.

It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief,” DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall wrote. “Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

“AMEN,” DNC Chief Executive Officer Amy K. Dacey replied.

In an email that concerned Sanders out-polling Clinton in Rhode Island, where the state reportedly only had a fraction of voting stations open, one staffer took a contemptuous tone of Sanders’ supporters,  speaking about them more as a nuisance than an arm of the party.

“If she outperforms this polling, the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct,” the staffer writes, “They’ll probably complain regardless, actually.”

Another email shows similar ‘us and them’ language being directed at Sanders supporters.

“We have the Sanders folks admitting that they lost fair and square, not because we ‘rigged’ anything,” the email said. “Clinton likely to win the state convention with a slim margin and we’ll send a release with final delegate numbers.”

An email titled ‘Bernie narrative’ sent by DNC National Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach to Miranda indicates that top officials in the party were trying to find an angle to disparage the Vermont senator in the media.

“Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” Paustenbach wrote in the May 21 message. “Specifically, [Debbie Wasserman Schultz] had to call Bernie directly in order to get the campaign to do things because they’d either ignored or forgotten to something critical.”

“It’s not a DNC conspiracy, it’s because they never had their act together,” Paustenbach suggested.

Writing off Bernie

Wasserman Schultz seemed to have already counted Sanders out of the race in a May 21 email, when there were still nine primaries to go.

“This is a silly story,” the chairwoman said. “He isn’t going to be president.”

In another email, Paustenbach informed her that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the candidate should continue to the convention, Wasserman Shultz said: “He is an ASS,” referring to Weaver.

The chairwoman made her opinion clear about Sanders in an message concerning the candidate alleging that the party hadn’t been fair to him.

“Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do,” she said.

There seems to be clear bias in the aggregate as well. Searches of the database shows an apparent bias by DNC officials against Sanders just by how closely either campaign was monitored. A search of “Sanders supporters” yields 306 messages, while a search of “Clinton supporters” shows only 65 results. A search of “his campaign” yields 780 messages, while “her campaign” only brings up a paltry 120 results.

Rio Olympics 2016: Russia not given blanket Games ban by IOC

July 24, 2016

BBC News

Russia will not receive a blanket ban from Rio 2016 following the country’s doping scandal.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will leave it up to individual sports’ governing bodies to decide if Russian competitors are clean and should be allowed to take part.

The decision follows a report in which Canadian law professor Richard McLaren said Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme from 2011 to 2015.

The Rio Games start on 5 August.

Competitors from Russia who want to take part in the Games will have to meet strict criteria laid down by the IOC.

Any Russian who has served a doping ban will not be eligible for next month’s Olympics. Track and field athletes have already been banned.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “We have set the bar to the limit by establishing a number of very strict criteria which every Russian athlete will have to fulfil if he or she wants to participate in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

“I think in this way, we have balanced on the one hand, the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete.”

The decision not to impose a blanket ban came after a three-hour meeting of the IOC’s executive board, and reaction came quickly.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko described the decision as “objective” but “very tough”, while the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) claimed the IOC had “refused to take decisive leadership”.

UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: “The scale of the evidence in the McLaren report arguably pointed to the need for stronger sanctions rather than leaving it to the international federations at this late stage.”

The 28 individual federations now have just 12 days to “carry out an individual analysis of each competitor’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of each sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field”.

The International Tennis Federation quickly confirmed on Sunday that Russia’s seven nominated tennis players meet the IOC requirements, having been subjected to “a rigorous anti-doping testing programme outside Russia”.

Russia’s full Olympic team would consist of 387 competitors.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has already ruled that Russian track and field athletes will not compete at the Games, a decision which was upheld on Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

IAAF president Lord Coe said: “The IAAF team are ready to offer advice to any International Sports Federations given our experience and what we have learned over the last eight months.”

A number of current and former athletes have criticised the IOC decision, with former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies telling the BBC: “I’m just sad that they’ve passed the buck, as they so often do, down to the governing bodies, and I don’t think the governing bodies have the time to be able to do very much about this.

“I think the only way to send an incredibly strong message to a state-run doping programme is a blanket ban.”

World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) president Sir Craig Reedie said previously that his organisation, which commissioned the McLaren report, wanted the IOC to “decline entries for Rio 2016 of all athletes” submitted by the Russian Olympic and Paralympic committees.

Whistle-blower ruled out of Rio

The IOC also confirmed it will not allow whistleblower Yulia Stepanova to compete as a neutral athlete in Rio.

Stepanova has previously failed a doping test and also did not satisfy the IOC’s “ethical requirements”.

The IOC statement added: “The executive board would like to express its appreciation for Mrs Stepanova’s contribution to the fight against doping and to the integrity of sport.”

Usada chief Travis Tygart described the decision as “incomprehensible”, adding it will “undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward”.

How the Russian doping allegations unfolded

December 2014: A German TV documentary alleges that as many as 99% of Russian athletes are guilty of doping. Wada announces an independent commission to investigate the allegations.

9 November 2015: Russia should be banned from athletics completion and were guilty of state-sponsored, systemic doping practices, says Wada’s independent commission.

13 November 2015: IAAF provisionally suspends Russia’s athletics federation from international competition.

27 June 2016: 67 Russian athletes appeal against their bans from this summer’s Rio Olympics to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

18 July 2016: Wada’s McLaren report claims Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports.

21 July 2016: Cas rejects the appeal of Russian athletes who attempted to overturn their suspension from this summer’s Olympics.


Where did the Swedes come from?

There are numerous geographical studies, archaeological findings, historical accounts and written evidences which confirm much of Scandinavian history.  Most of the written history begins after 600 AD.  The little written evidence of Scandinavian history from 100 BC to about 600 AD comes from contemporary writers of history, like Tacitus and Jordanes.  However, the lack of written history prior to 100 BC does not diminish the provocative past of the Scandinavians.  A reconstruction of the history of these years has been attempted by many scholars.  Most of these attempts come from the interpretation of archaeological finds in view of contemporary European history and culture (Europeanization of history), often disregarding a wider perspective.  Some of these reconstructions contradict one another, do not fit all the facts very well, or are invalidated by new discoveries.  As such, this article should not be considered history strictly in the academic sense.  The conclusions here can be attributed to well studied authors, researchers and historians.  Other information comes from scholarly works, opinion, legend, mythology, professional historiography, and from the analogy of circumstances and evidences too compelling to ignore.

In pursuit of a more accurate evaluation of Scandinavian history, some historical questions will have no easy answers.  For example, who were the Svear and Daner people who lived in the Baltic region (Denmark and southern Sweden) in the BC era?  Who were the Erul people who lived in the Baltic region at the same time?  Were they all kin from Thracian warrior tribes?

There is strong evidence that Swedish predecessors were migratory Thracians, an aggressive refugee “boat-people” who first came from the ancient city of Troy.  Located in northwest Asia Minor (present-day northwest Turkey), the ruins of Troy were discovered in 1870.  In the period beginning about 2500 BC, Troy was populated by an “invasion of peoples on the sea” according to the Egyptians.  These people were called Thracians by the Greeks, and were early users of ships, iron weapons and horses.  Troy (also called Troi, Toas or Ilium) was known as a center of ancient civilizations.  Its inhabitants became known as Trojans (also Trajans/Thracians, later called Dardanoi by Homer, Phrygians or Anatolians by others), and their language was Thracian or Thraco-Illyrian.  Evidence shows the city of Troy endured years of war, specifically with Greek and Egyptian armies.  The famous Trojan War was fought between the Greeks and Trojans with their allies.  Troy was eventually laid in ruins after 10 years of fighting with the Greeks, traditionally dated from around 1194 to 1184 BC, and is historically referred to as the Fall of Troy.  The city was completely devastated, which is verified by the fact that the city was vacant to about 700 BC.

Thousands of Trojans left Troy immediately after the war, beginning about 1184 BC.  Others remained about 30 to 50 years after the war, when an estimated 30,000 Trojans/Thracians suddenly abandoned the city of Troy, as told by Homer (Greek writer/poet, eighth century BC) and various sources (Etruscan, Merovingian, Roman and later Scandinavian).  The stories corroborate the final days of Troy, and describe how, after the Greeks sacked the city, the remaining Trojans eventually emigrated.  Over half of them went up the Danube river and crossed over into Italy, establishing the Etruscan culture—the dominating influence on the development of Rome—and later battled the Romans for regional dominance.  The remaining Trojans, mainly chieftains and warriors, about 12,000 in all, went north across the Black Sea into the Mare Moetis or “shallow sea” where the Don River ends (Caucasus region in southern Russia), and established a kingdom called Sicambria about 1150 BC.  The Romans would later refer to the inhabitants as Sicambrians.  The locals (nomadic Scythians) named these Trojan conquerors the “Iron people”, or the Aes in their language.  The Aes (also As, Asa, Asen, Aesar, Aesir, Aesire, Æsir or Asir) soon built their famous fortified city Aesgard or Asgard, described as “Troy in the north.”  Various other sources collaborate this, stating the Trojans landed on the eastern shores with their superior weaponry, and claimed land.  The area became known as Asaland (Land of the Aesir) or Asaheim (Home of the Aesir).  Some historians suggest that Odin, who was later worshipped as a god by pagan Vikings, was actually a Thracian/Aesir leader who reigned in the Sicambrian kingdom and lived in the city of Asgard in the first century BC.  He appointed chieftains after the pattern of Troy, establishing rulers to administer the laws of the land, and he drew up a code of law like that in Troy and to which the Trojans had been accustomed.

Historians refer to the Aesir people as the Thraco-Cimmerians, since the Trojans were of Thracian ancestry (click here for Thracian origins).  The Cimmerians were an ancient people who lived among Thracians, and were eventually absorbed into Thracian culture.  Greek historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus noted about 440 BC that the Thracians were the second most numerous people in the world, outnumbered only by the (East) Indians, and that the Thracian homeland was huge.  The Thracian homelands included the Ukrainian steppes and much of the Caucasus region.  According to Flavius Josephus, Jewish & Roman historian in the 1st century AD, the descendants of Noah’s grandson Tiras were called Tirasians.  They were known to the Romans as Thirasians.  The Greeks called them Thracians and later Trajans, the original people of the city of Troas (Troy), whom they feared as marauding pirates.  History attests that they were indeed a most savage race, given over to a perpetual state of “tipsy excess”, as one historian put it.  They are also described as a “ruddy and blue-eyed people”.  World Book Encyclopedia states they were “…savage Indo-Europeans, who liked warfare and looting.”  Russian historian Nicholas L. Chirovsky describes the arrival of the Thracians, and how they soon dominated the lands along the eastern shores of the river Don.  These people were called Aes locally, according to Chirovsky, and later the Aesir (plural).

Evidence that the Aesir (Iron people) were Trojan refugees can be confirmed from local and later Roman historical sources, including the fact that the inner part of the Black Sea was renamed from the Mare Maeotis to the “Iron Sea” or “Sea of Aesov”, in the local tongue.  The name remains today as the Sea of Azov, an inland sea in southern European Russia, connected with the Black Sea.  The Aesir were known for their fighting with iron weapons.  They were feared for their warships, as well as their ferocity in battle, and thus quickly dominated the northern trades, using the Don river as their main route for trading.

The Aesir people dominated the area around the Sea of Azov for nearly 1000 years, though the surrounding areas to the north and east were known as the lands of the Scythians.  The Aesir fought with the Scythians for regional dominance, but eventually made peace.  They established trade with the Scythians, and even strong cultural ties, becoming united in religion and law.  The Aesir began trading far to the north as well.

The land far north was first described about 330 BC by the Greek explorer Pytheas of Massalia.  He called the region “Thule”, which was described as the outermost of all countries, probably part of the Norwegian coast, where the summer nights were very short.  Pytheas translated Thule as “the place where the Sun goes to rest”, which comes from the Germanic root word “Dhul-” meaning “to stop in a place, to take a rest.”  Pytheas described the people as barbarians (Germanic/Teutonic tribes) having an agricultural lifestyle, using barns and threshing their grains.  These people had already established trade with the Aesir who later began migrating north around 90 BC from the Caucasus region, during the time of Roman expansion in Europe.  The Germanic/Teutonic tribes first made a name for themselves about 100 BC after aggressively fighting against the Romans.  Not much is known about the Germanic tribes prior to this.  When writing the “Gallic Wars”, Julius Caesar described encounters with those Germanic peoples and distinguishes them from the Celts.  During this time period, many Germanic tribes were migrating out of Scandinavia to Germany and the Baltic region, placing continuous stress on Roman defenses.  Migrating groups were normally smaller groups of different people or tribes, often following a strong leader.  The “nationality” of the leaders would usually appear as the nationality of the migrating group, until later when the group was separated again.  The migrations could take place over several decades, and often when the Germanic tribes were mentioned in the written sources, the Romans had only met raiding groups occupying warriors or mercenaries operating far away from their people.

Around the same time, about 90 BC, the Aesir began their exodus from the Black Sea/Caucasus region.  Their arrival at the Baltic Sea in Scandinavia has been supported by several scholars and modern archaeological evidence.  As told by Snorri Sturluson (a 13th century Nordic historiographer) and confirmed by other data, the Aesir felt compelled to leave their land to escape Roman invasions by Pompeius, and local tribal wars.  Known as Thracian warrior tribes, the aggressive Indo-European nomadic Aesir came north, moving across Europe, bringing all their weapons and belongings in their boats on the rivers of Europe, in successive stages.  Historians note that Odin, who was a very popular Thracian ruler, led a migration about 70 BC with thousands of followers from the Black Sea region to Scandinavia.  It is also told that another Thracian tribe came along with them, a people called the Vanir or Vaner.  Odin’s first established settlement became known as Odense (Odin’s Sanctuary or Odin’s Shrine), inspiring religious pilgrimages to the city through the Middle Ages.  These tribes first settled in present-day Denmark, and then created a power-center in what is now southern Sweden.  About 800 years later during the Viking era, Odin, the Aesir and Vanir had become gods, and Asgard/Troy was the home of those gods—the foundation for Viking religion.  The Aesir warrior gods, and the religious deities of Odin and Thor, were an integral part of the warlike nature of the Vikings, even leading them back down the waterways of Europe to their tribal origins along the Black Sea and Asia Minor.

Aesir became the Old Norse word for the divine (also, the Old Teutonic word “Ase” was a common word for “god”), and “Asmegir” was the Icelandic term for “god maker”—a human soul on its way to becoming divine in the course of evolution.  The Vanir represented fertility and peace gods.  Not unlike Greeks and Romans, the Scandinavians also deified their ancestors.  The Egyptians adopted the practice of deifying their kings, just as the Babylonians had deified Nimrod.  The same practice of ancestor worship was passed on to the Greeks and Romans and to all the pagan world, until it was subdued by Christianity.

Snorri Sturluson wrote the Prose Edda (Norse history and myths) about 1223 AD, where he made an interesting comparison with the Viking Aesir gods to the people in Asia Minor (Caucasus region), particular to the Trojan royal family (considered mythological by most historians today, regrettably).  The Prose Edda is one of the first attempts to devise a rational explanation for mythological and legendary events of the Scandinavians.  Unfortunately, many historians acknowledge only what academia accepts as history, often ignoring material that might be relevant.  For example, Snorri wrote that the Aesir had come from Asia Minor, and he compared the Ragnarok (Norse version of the first doom of the gods and men) with the fall of Troy.  Sturluson noted that Asgard, home of the gods, was also called Troy.  Although Snorri was a Christian, he treated the ancient religion with great respect.  Snorri was writing at the time when all of Scandinavia (including Iceland) had converted to Christianity by 11th century, and he was well aware of classical Greek and Roman mythology.  Stories of Troy had been known from antiquity in many cultures.  The Trojan War was the greatest conflict in Greek mythology, a war that was to influence people in literature and arts for centuries.  Snorri mentioned God and the Creation, Adam and Eve, as well as Noah and the flood.  He also compared a few of the Norse gods to the heroes at the Trojan War.

The Aesir/Asir were divided into several groups that in successive stages emigrated to their new Scandinavian homeland.  Entering the Baltic Sea, they sailed north to the Scandinavian shores, only to meet stubborn Germanic tribes, who had been fighting the Romans.  The prominent Germanic tribes in the region were the Gutar, also known as the Guta, Gutans, Gotarne or Goths by Romans.  These Germanic tribes were already known to the Aesir, as trade in the Baltic areas was well established prior to 100 BC.  The immigrating Aesir had many clans and tribes, and one prominent tribe that traveled along with them were the Vanir (the Vanir later became known as the Danir/Daner, and subsequently the Danes, who settled in what is now present-day Denmark).  However, the most prominent clan to travel with the Asir were the Eril warriors or the “Erilar”, meaning “wild warriors”.  The Asir sent Erilar north as seafaring warriors to secure land and establish trade (these warriors were called “Earls” in later Scandinavian society).  The clans of Erilar (also called Jarlar, Eruls or Heruls by Romans, and Eruloi or Elouroi by Greek historian Dexippos) enabled the Asir clans (later called Svi, Sviar, Svea, Svear or Svioner by Romans) to establish settlements throughout the region, but not without continuous battles with the Goths and other migrating Germanic tribes.  The Eruls/Heruls eventually made peace with the Goths who ruled the region.  The tribes of Svear, Vanir, and Heruls soon formed their own clans and dominated the Baltic/Scandinavian region.  The Gothic historian Jordanes (or Jordanis), who was a notary of Gothic kings, told in about 551 AD that the Daner were from the same stock as the Svear, both taller and fairer than any other peoples of the North.  He called the Svear, “Sve’han”.

The Svear population flourished, and with the Heruls and Goths, formed a powerful military alliance of well-known seafarers.  The Svear and Heruls then gradually returned to their ancestral land, beginning in the 2nd century AD, building a fleet of 500 sailing ships.  Sometimes sailing with the Goths, they terrorized all of the lands and peoples of the Black Sea and parts of the Mediterranean, even the Romans.  They were the pre-Vikings.  In the 3rd century (267 AD) the Heruls controlled all of the Roman-occupied Black Sea and parts of the eastern Mediterranean.  There are several accounts about how the Herul warriors returned to ravage the shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, alone and together with the Goths.  The Romans noted that “the Heruls, a Scandinavian people, together with the Goths, were, from the 3rd century AD, ravaging the Black Sea, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean.”  While the the Romans called the Scandinavian region “Thule” (after Pytheas), the Greeks called it “Scandia” (from ancient times), and others called the area “Scandza”.  The term Scandia comes from the descendants of Ashkenaz (grandson of Noah in the Bible).  Known as the Askaeni, they were the first peoples to migrate to northern Europe, naming the land Ascania after themselves.  Latin writers and Greeks called the land Scandza or Scandia (now Scandinavia).  Germanic tribes, such as the Teutons and Goths, are considered the descended tribes of the Askaeni and their first settlements.

The first time Thule (Scandinavia) was mentioned in Roman written documents was in the 1st century (79 AD) by the Roman citizen Plinius senior.  He wrote about an island peninsula in the north populated by “Sviar”, “Sveonerna” or “Svearnas” people, also called “Sveons”, “Svianar”, “Svetidi” or “Suetidi” by others.  Later in 98 AD the learned civil servant Cornelius Tacitus wrote about northern Europe.  Tacitus writes in the Latin book Germania about tribes of “Sviones” or “Suiones” (Latin Sviones was derived from Sviar) in Scandinavia, who live off the ocean, sailing in large fleets of boats with a prow at either end, no sail, using paddles, and strong, loyal, well-armed men with spikes in their helmets.  They drove both the Goths and Lapps out of Scandinavia.  Archaeological finds have provided a vivid record of the evolution of their longships from about the 4th century BC.  Tacitus further wrote, “And thereafter, out in the ocean comes Sviones (also “Svionernas” or “Svioner”) people, which are mighty not only in manpower and weaponry but also by its fleets”.  He also mentions that “the land of Svionerna is at the end of the world.”  In the 2nd century (about 120 AD) the first map was created where Scandinavia (Baltic region) could be viewed.  Greek-Egyptian astronomer and geographer Ptolemaios (Ptolemy of Alexandria) created the map, and at the same time wrote a geography where he identified several different people groups, including the “Gotarne”, “Heruls”, “Sviar” and “Finnar” who lived on peninsula islands called “Scandiai”.  During the Roman Iron Age (1-400 AD), evidences are convincing for a large Baltic seafaring culture in what is now Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Estonia.

Many clans of Aesir and Germanic peoples were united by settlements.  For example, the Aesir clan Suevi (also Suebi) settled among Germanic peoples in a region called Swabia (named after themselves), which is now southwest Germany.  Those clans became known as the Alemanni, first mentioned about 213 AD after attacking the Romans.  Called Suevic tribes by historians, they formed an alliance for mutual protection against other Germanic tribes and the Romans, and retained their tribal designation until the late Middle Ages.

By the 5th century, the Aesir Heruls were in great demand as soldiers in the Roman Imperial Guards.  The Romans were impressed with the war-like Heruls, and recruited them to fight in the Roman Army.  Herul factions were making settlements throughout Europe, fighting and battling everywhere they went.  In the late 5th century, the Heruls formed a state in upper Hungary under the Roman ruler Cæsar Anastasius (491-518 AD).  Later they attacked the Lombards, but were beaten, according to Greek-Roman author Prokopios (born at the end of the 5th century).  He was a lawyer in Constantinople and from the year 527 private secretary to the Byzantine military commander Belisarius on his campaigns against the Ostrogoths.  Prokopios says by the early 6th century (about 505), the remaining Heruls in upper Hungary were forced to leave.  Some of them crossed the Danube into Roman territory, where Anastasius allowed them to settle.  Historians mention that remaining clans of Heruls sailed northwards, back to Thule to reunite with their Svear brethren.  Prokopios noted that there were 13 populous tribes in Thule (the Scandinavian peninsula), each with its own king.  He said, “A populous tribe among them was the Goths, next to where the returning Heruls settled”.  Prokopios also mentions that “the Heruls sent some of their most distinguished men to the island Thule in order to find and if possible bring back a man of royal blood.  When they came to the island they found many of royal blood.”

Evidence of their existence during this time period can be found on the frequent appearance of runic inscriptions with the name ErilaR “the Herul”.  While it is thought that the ancient Scandinavian alphabet, called futhork or runes, is of Latin origin, the evidence suggests that it was used far to the northeast of Rome where Roman influence did not reach.  The runes are a corruption of an old Greek alphabet, used by Trojans along the northwest coast of the Black Sea.  From examples of Etruscan, Greek, and early Roman scripts, it is not difficult to see that earlier runes resemble archaic Greek and Etruscan rather than Latin.  The Heruls used runes in the same way their ancestors did, which have been discovered throughout Europe and Scandinavia.  Scandinavian sagas tell us that the Scandinavian languages began when men from central Asia settled in the north.  Sometime after 1300 AD the runes were adjusted to the Roman alphabet.

The Heruls brought with them a few Roman customs, one being the Julian calendar, which is known to have been introduced to Scandinavia at this time, the early 6th century AD.  When the Heruls returned to join again with the Svear in Scandinavia, the Svear state with its powerful kings suddenly emerges.  Their ancestors were the warring bands of Aesir (sometimes called Eastmen) who became known as the Svear or Suines.  They became the dominant power and waged war with the Goths, winning rule over them.  By the middle of the 6th century, the first all-Swedish kings emerged.  This royal dynasty became immensely powerful and dominated not only Sweden but also neighboring countries.  Gothic historian Jordanes writes of the Suines or Suehans (Sve’han) of Scandinavia, with fine horses, rich apparel and trading in furs around 650 AD.  The Swedish nation has its roots in these different kingdoms, created when the king of the Svenonians (Svears) assumed kingship over the Goths.  The word Sweden comes from the Svenonians, as Sverige or Svearike means “the realm of the Svenonians”.  The English form of the name is probably derived from an old Germanic form, Svetheod, meaning the Swedish people.

By the 7th century, the Svear and Goth populations dominated the areas of what is now Sweden, Denmark and Norway.  However, the term Norway came later.  Latin text from around 840 AD called the area Noruagia, and Old English text from around 880 AD used Norweg.  The oldest Nordic spelling was Nuruiak, written in runes on a Danish stone from around 980 AD.  The Old Norse (Old Scandinavian) spelling became Nordvegr, meaning “the country in the north” or “the way to the north”, and the people were called Nordes.  All of the names were given by people south of Norway to signify a place far to the north.  The people of Norway now call themselves Nynorsk, a name decided by linguists in the 1880s.  The name Denmark originated from the people called the Vanir (or Vaner) who settled the region with the Aesir in the first century BC.  The Vanir were later called Danir (or Daner), and eventually Danes.  By the 9th century AD, the name Danmark (Dan-mörk, “border district of the Danes”) was used for the first time.  In Old Norse, mörk meant a “forest,” and forests commonly formed the boundaries of tribes.  In Modern Danish, mark means a “field,” “plain,” or “open country.”   Hence, Denmark once meant literally “forest of the Danes.”  During this period, their language Dönsk tunga (Danish tongue) was spoken throughout northern Europe, and would later be called Old Norse or Old Scandinavian during the Viking period.  Old Norse was spoken by the people in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and parts of Germany.

The ancestor of all modern Scandinavian languages, beginning with the Germanic form, was developed from the languages of the Aesir (Thracian tribes) and Goths (Germanic tribes).  When the Aesir integrated with the people of the lands, their families became so numerous in Scandinavia and Germany that their language became the language of all the people in that region.  The linguistic and archaeological data seem to indicate that the final linguistic stage of the Germanic languages took place in an area which has been located approximately in southern Sweden, southern Norway, Denmark and the lower Elbe river which empties into the North Sea on the northwest coast of Germany.  The Germanic tribes began arriving in the area about 1000 BC.  Later, the Aesir brought their language to the north of the world, to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.  The future rulers of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland trace their names and genealogies back to the Aesir.  The most ancient inscriptions in Old Norse/Scandinavian are from the 3rd and 5th century centuries AD, with other inscriptions dating up to the 12th century.  They were short signs written in the futhork runic alphabet, which had 24 letters (though many variations were used throughout the region).  By the end of the Viking era (11th century AD), the Old Norse language dialect varieties grew stronger until two separate languages appeared, Western Scandinavian, the ancestor of Norwegian and Icelandic, and Eastern Scandinavian, the the ancestor of Swedish and Danish.  Many Old Norse words were borrowed by English, and even the Russian language, due to expansion by Vikings.

The next Svear conquests began in the early 8th century.  By 739 AD the Svear and Goths dominated the Russian waterways, and together they were called Varyagans or Varangians, according to written records of the Slavs near the Sea of Azov.  Like their ancestors, the Svear lived in large communities where their chiefs would send out maritime warriors to trade and plunder.  Those fierce warriors were called the Vaeringar, which meant literally “men who offer their service to another master”.  We later know them by their popularized name, the Vikings.  Thus began the era known as the Viking Age, 750-1066 AD.  They often navigated the Elbe river, one of the major waterways of central Europe.  Their ships were the best in all of Europe—sleek, durable and could travel by both sail or oars.  To the east of the Elbe they were known as Varangians, and west of the Elbe they were called Vikings.  Many called them Norse or Northmen—those from the Scandinavian countries, which consisted of Sweden, Norway and Denmark.  Once again the Svear began returning to the places of their Thracian ancestors in the Caucasus region, sailing rivers which stretched deep into Russia, establishing trading stations and principalities.  Other Vikings raided the British Isles and western Europe, as noted in this Old English prayer:  “A furore Normannorum libra nos, Domine” (From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, Oh Lord).

Vikings never called themselves Vikings.  Unlike Varangian, the term Viking probably originated from Frankish chroniclers who first called them “Vikverjar” (travelers by sea), Nordic invaders who attacked the city of Nantes (in present-day France) in 843 AD.  The word “vik” meant bay or fjord in Old Norse, and later meant “one who came out from or frequented inlets to the sea”.  Viking and Varangian eventually became synonymous, meaning “someone who travels or is passing through,” whether merchant, mercenary, or marauder.  Their activities consisted of trading, plundering and making temporary settlements (see Viking Routes).  Finnish peoples referred to the Swedish voyagers as Ruotsi, Rotsi or Rus in contrast with Slavic peoples, which was derived from the name of the Swedish maritime district in Uppland, called “Roslagen”, and its inhabitants, known as “Rodskarlar”.  Rodskarlar or Rothskarlar meant “rowers” or “seamen”.  Those Swedish conquerors settled in eastern Europe, adopted the names of local tribes, integrated with the Slavs, and eventually the word “Rusi”, “Rhos” or “Rus” came to refer to the inhabitants.  The Arab writer Ibn Dustah wrote that Swedish Vikings were brave and valiant, utterly plundering and vanquishing all people they came against.  Later, the Arabic diplomat Ibn Fadlan, while visiting Bulgar (Bulgaria) during the summer of 922 AD, saw the Swedish Vikings (Rus) arrive, and he wrote:  “Never before have I seen people of more perfect physique; they were tall like palm trees, blonde, with a few of them red.  They do not wear any jackets or kaftaner (robes), the men instead wear dress which covers one side of the body but leaves one hand free.  Every one of them brings with him an ax, a sword and a knife.”  Their descriptions mirror the physique, dress and armor of Trojan warriors—the Viking ancestors.  The various ancestors of the Vikings included the Thracian tribes (Asir) and the Germanic tribes (Goths).

The Vikings included many tribes and kingdoms from around the Baltic Sea, including the Svear from Sweden, the Norde from Norway, the Danes from Denmark, the Jutes from Juteland (now part of Denmark), the Goths from Gotland (now part of Sweden), the Alands from Åland (now part of Finland), the Finns from Finland, and others.  The Svear Vikings traveled primarily east to the Mediterranean (what is now Russia and Turkey), where they had been returning regularly since leaving the region 900 years earlier.  Subsequent Viking raids and expeditions covered areas deep into Russia, the Middle East, Europe and America, ending in the 11th century (about 1066 AD) after the introduction of Christianity around the year 1000 AD.  The kingships and provinces of Sweden then combined to form one country.  The dominant king during the Viking age was from the Erik family of Uppsala.  One of the first Swedish monarchs in recorded history was Olof Skotkonung, a descendant of the Erik family.  Olof and his descendants ruled Sweden from about 995 to 1060.  Sweden’s first archbishop arrived in the 12th century (1164).

Sweden’s expansion continued during the 12th and 13th centuries through the incorporation of Finland into the Swedish kingdom after several crusades, promoted by the Catholic church.  There was a struggle for power between the Sverker and Erik families, which held the crown alternately between 1160 and 1250.  However, during this period the main administrative units were still the provinces, each of which had its own assembly, lawmen and laws.  It was first during the latter part of the 13th century AD that the crown gained a greater measure of influence and was able, with the introduction of royal castles and provincial administration, to assert the authority of the central government and to impose laws and ordinances valid for the whole kingdom.  In 1280 King Magnus Ladulås (1275 – 1290) issued a statute which involved the establishment of a temporal nobility and the organization of society on the feudal model.  A council containing representatives of the aristocracy and the Catholic church was set up to advise the king.  In 1350, during the reign of Magnus Eriksson (1319 – 1364), the various provincial law codes were superseded by a law code that was valid for the whole country, and Finland became part of the Swedish kingdom.

In 1389, through inheritance and family ties, the crowns of Denmark, Norway and Sweden were united under the rule of the Danish Queen Margareta.  In 1397, the union of the three Scandinavian countries concluded under her leadership lasting 124 years. The whole union period, 1397 – 1521, was marked by conflict, and provoked a rebellion which in 1521 led to the seizure of power by a Swedish nobleman, Gustav Vasa, who was elected king of Sweden in 1523.  The foundations of the Swedish national state were laid during the reign of Gustav Vasa (1523 – 1560).  The position of the crown was strengthened further in 1544 when a hereditary monarchy was introduced.  Before that time the country had been an elective monarchy, and the aristocracy had been able to assert itself every time the throne fell vacant.  The church was turned into a national institution, its estates were confiscated by the state and the Protestant Reformation was introduced in several stages.

Since the dissolution of the union with Denmark and Norway, Swedish foreign policy had aimed at gaining domination of the Baltic Sea, and this led from 1560 onwards to repeated territorial battles with Denmark and Norway.  The efforts of the higher nobility to take back power from the successful Swedish kingships (1560 – 1632) failed in the long run, and the crown was able to maintain and strengthen its position.  In 1630 Sweden entered the historical “30 Years War” (1618 – 1648) with an attack against Germany for more control more of the Baltic region.  With little success, Sweden left the war in 1634, but continued battling with Denmark and Norway for regional superiority.  Sweden finally defeated Denmark and Norway in the two wars of 1643-45 and 1657-58, becoming a leading Lutheran power.  These wars were partly a result of Sweden aggressively expanding its borders through occupation.  For example, from 1563 to 1658, Jämtland (region in west Sweden bordering Norway) was occupied several times until it was conquered from Norway in 1658.  The people of Jämtland were called “the new Swedes”, a term still used today.  These victories led to Sweden becoming a great power in northern Europe, having control of most of the Baltic region, including continued rule over Finland.  The country even founded a short-lived colony in what is now Delaware in North America.  Sweden’s defeat in the Great Northern War (1700 – 1721) against the combined forces of Denmark, Poland and Russia, lost most of its provinces along the Baltic Sea and was reduced to largely the same frontiers as present-day Sweden.  Finland was finally surrendered to Russia in 1809.  To this day, much of western Finland is populated by Swedes, and several cities have both a Swedish and Finnish name with about 8% of Finland’s population speaking Swedish.

In 1810 Sweden succeeded in obtaining Norway, which was forced into a union with Sweden in 1814 after a short war.  This union was peacefully dissolved in 1905.  Since the short war fought against Norway in 1814, Sweden has not been involved in any war and has also since the First World War pursued a foreign policy of nonalignment in peacetime and neutrality in wartime, basing its security on a strong national defense.  Nonetheless, Sweden joined the League of Nations in 1920 and the United Nations in 1946, and within the framework of these has taken part in several international peacekeeping missions.  A new form of government was adopted in 1974 where all public power was derived from the people, who were to appoint the members of Parliament in free elections.  Parliament alone was to pass laws and was entitled to levy taxes.  The government was appointed by and responsible to Parliament, and the King was still the head of state, but his functions are reduced to purely ceremonial ones.  Sweden continued to grow as an economic power throughout the 1980’s, and in January of 1995 joined the European Union (EU).  Now in the new millennium, Sweden is controlled by a Social Democratic government, and the monarchy of King Carl XVI Gustaf.


BC means “Before Christ” which is equivalent to BCE “Before Common Era” (some say “Current” era). AD means “Anno Domini” (in the year of our Lord) which is equivalent to CE “Common Era”.

Where did the Finns come from?

The Finns probably originated from somewhere between the middle Volga and the Ural mountains (middle western Russia).  Four thousand years ago a few tribes of hunters and fishermen settled there.  Those tribes were destined to become the European branch of the Finno-Ugric people.  Those people groups set off in opposite directions.  The future Hungarians went south, while the Finns moved northwest where, about 500 BC, one can find traces of their first settlements along the southern coast of the Baltic.  Finnish people are of Finno-Ugrian stock, mainly of western origin (Indo-European) as well as those of the other nations which were proceeding northwards in pre-historic times.  For example, they are loosely related to the Baltic and Germanic people groups, and are closely related to the Estonians across the Gulf, the Magyars who settled in Hungary, and the Siberians in Russia.  Prior to the 14th century, only the most Southwestern part of the country was known as “Finland” and its inhabitants as Finns.  Finnish people consisted of different tribes like Karelians, Tavastians and Finns who are the ancestors of today’s Finnish population.

There is a rock base beneath Finland, part of a great land mass called the Finno-Scandian shield, the oldest and most unyielding stone in the world.  The retreating ice age left behind over 30,000 islands and more than 60,000 lakes.  In many places the land is swamp and lake, bog and marsh.  Finland, in fact, means “the land of fens, or swamps” and the Finns call themselves and their country “Suomi” (soo-wah-mee), “suo” meaning bog or marsh.  In the Middle Ages, the country was commonly called Österlandet (Eastland) or Finland, and the southwestern part became Finland Proper.  Finland is the name used in most languages


















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