TBR News June 16, 2016

Jun 15 2016


The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 16, 2016:” Global overcrowding is creating frictions in society and these, in turn are manifested in explosions of violence such as the football riots in Europe and the mass murder in Florida. More and more animal species are being threatened with extinction, seas are polluted, water sources are drying up and everywhere a spirit of disharmony and hatred is being born. If the French government get too rough with strikers, there well could be very serious, spontaneous eruptions of violence. And always remember, where there are unhappy people, minorities suffer.”


The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.

This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

Monday, 20 November 1950

I have had a stunning business tip from a friend at the Pentagon today and will act on it as soon as I can. There is a company, AVRO, which is manufacturing a so-called “flying disk” which is based entirely on research we did in Germany during the war. I had heard of this at the time. These craft are circular and up to 75 meters in diameter and capable of extraordinary speeds at high altitude.

There has been testing of these at various places and I was told that pilots of commercial and private aircraft have seen them while in the air. They call them the “Flying Saucers” and it is all quite secret. The speed is tremendous, precluding them being shot down but the range is not exceptional. Very good for battlefield reconnaissance. They can’t carry bombs and move too fast for conventional armaments to be effective either on them or against them.

I take some pride in the fact that this was a German invention. I will have to rummage around in my papers and see what I can locate on the genesis of this project so that I can sound important at a briefing should the subject arise.

There is one interesting note about this flying disk. A number have been seen by many observers who are not American in origin and of course it was assumed they might be Russian. Viktor tells me that, no, they are not Russian and that subject is one he has been asked to investigate. In fact, it was he who told me about this.

AVRO stands for A.V. Roe & Co. and the disks are being made here and in Canada. I will look into their stock today and see what is what. I suggested to Viktor that we could both buy stock and he thought it was an interesting concept for him to engage in capitalistic pursuits but he is more than willing to get into it with me.

The mention of the famous Flying Saucers here is only the first of a series of comments made by Müller on the subject that has fascinated the world since the end of the Second World War. The Germans did invent such a craft and it was successfully flown in Germany in the last months of the war. Of the three major engineers on the project, two were taken over by the Americans and one by the Russians. Most of the working drawings fell into American hands but the Soviets also gained considerable technical information from captured German sources.

These most unconventional aircraft were certainly in U.S. service and have been photographed on the ground and in the air. At least one of these craft was stored at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Moffett Field, Mountain View, California in the early 1960s where it was being reworked.

While there is no doubt that these craft were built, their continued use ceased soon after the conflict was over. Very careful and extensive searches in former Soviet archives have disclosed no information that would indicate that Russia ever built or operated such unconventional aircraft.

However, many sightings of these objects both before, during and after the Korean conflict, are still officially classified and many could not possibly be connected with the AVRO projects.

More of this fascinating subject will be covered by these journals in their proper chronological place.

Friday, 24 November 1950

We are still recovering after the Thanksgiving festivities yesterday. I am going to have to do more exercising if I plan to eat that much food. My God, I can clearly remember what it was like in Germany during the war and I feel guilty at the amount of food that was not eaten. Better, however, to have too much food than too little.

Monday, 27 November 1950

I was awakened very early by a call from Clark Clifford wishing to speak to me urgently at the specific request of the President! Such drama! It seems that the Chinese have attacked the U.S. in force and are driving them back. The Chinese are pouring “tens of thousands” of troops into the battle and MacArthur can do nothing to stop them.

He has sent a private message to Truman asking him permission to have the option of using the atomic bomb. Truman is greatly upset and perhaps a little frightened at all this and I am being asked to give my opinion on what Stalin will do if, and when, we use the bomb.

It is very difficult so early in the morning to give rational answers to hysterical people and I said I would call back within the hour. I was given a very private line number at Blair House and would no doubt talk to the President himself. I was warned by Clifford that all of this contact business would be kept in the greatest secrecy.

I think he had to forgive me about his wig.

Before I called Truman, I called my broker and gave him the orders I had been holding up for the last month. Buy heavy at this time, buy and buy more! I have had a stock market ticker put in here at terrible expense but I looked at it the moment the market opened and there is not a huge amount of action. The news has not yet gotten into general circulation. I would assume the market will go down on the news and then we will buy because it surely will go up.


I have had a long conversation with the President about Stalin and what he would do. In this, I was partially guided by my information from Viktor. He is now working as a Canadian business specialist in military equipment at the Pentagon and is very well informed, not only at that place but also with his contacts in Russia. He says that Stalin wants to tie the U.S. up in Asia as we both know but would never get into a military confrontation with this country if there were any chance an all-out war would ensue.

Hitler sometimes would gamble but Stalin never. That’s the difference between the artist and the peasant.

I told the President that the threat to use the bomb was what is needed at this point. This will not impress the Chinese who are fanatics and have a huge manpower pool scattered throughout an equally huge country. The threat will impact on Stalin who has some control over the Chinese but not enough to compel them to break off their attack.

The Chinese have been warning for some time now that they would not tolerate American troops near their country but I think they did not realize that the North Korean forces would collapse as quickly as they did. They warned us, through India, that they would fight, but no one here or in Tokyo would listen.

MacArthur should not be given any bombs. He can threaten all he likes but a man like that would use a bomb and he might even drop it on the Russians. That, for sure, would certainly start a major war and MacArthur wants to be president here.

Then I spoke with Clifford who is in touch with General Bradley and told him the same thing. If Stalin thinks this will happen if he gets involved, he will not.

It would be stupid and useless to drop this sort of thing on China.

I am going to Washington this afternoon and will stay at the club. There I will have a little talk with Viktor who is certainly in the position to relay certain matters to Moscow. This is the way that things are done, the idiot historians to the contrary.

If this crisis is calmed it will not be by a pack of ill-educated politicians or has-been generals but by the former head of the Gestapo and one of the top NKVD agents in this country, all decided inside an aristocratic club in the capital of the United States!


Main locations of EgyptAir wreckage identified by deep ocean vessel

by Eric Knecht and Tim Hepher;

June 15, 2016


The main locations of wreckage from the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the eastern Mediterranean last month have been identified by a vessel owned by Deep Ocean Search, the Egyptian-led investigation committee said Wednesday.

The John Lethbridge, a search boat contracted by the Egyptian government, is working against the clock to locate the “black boxes” that investigators say will help explain why Flight MS804 crashed on May 19, killing all 66 people on board.

Signals from the flight data recorders needed to track them down on the seabed are expected to expire on June 24.

The John Lethbridge has provided the first images of wreckage to investigators. A search team on board along with investigators will now draw a map of the wreckage’s distribution spots, the committee said in a statement.

It was not immediately known which parts of the plane had been found, nor whether the two flight recorders were nearby. The recorders, one for voice and another for data, were contained in the tail of the Airbus A320.

Previously collected debris will also be handed over to the investigation committee after “standard procedures” are completed by prosecutors who are currently holding it for forensic evidence, the statement added.

To recover the black boxes some 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) below the sea surface, investigators will need to pinpoint the signals to within a few meters and establish whether the pingers are still connected to the recorders.

(Story refiles to correct paragraph one to show vessel is owned by the company Deep Ocean Search.)

(Reporting by Eric Knecht and Tim Hepher; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

In response to Orlando attack, Trump renews call for immigration ban

June 15, 2016


Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has again called for restricting immigration from certain countries, arguing that it is the only way to prevent more terrorist attacks like Sunday’s Orlando nightclub massacre.

Trump had initially called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the US after the San Bernardino attack in December, a mass shooting perpetrated by a Muslim couple. He renewed the call, in somewhat more general terms, during a speech in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday.

Speaking to a full house at the historic Fox Theatre, the presumptive GOP nominee said the US should suspend immigration from certain countries “until we can figure out what’s going on.” Though he did not single out Muslims, Trump brought up Sharia – Islamic law – as incompatible with American values.

“We can’t let these things happen anymore,” Trump said, referring to Sunday’s attack in Orlando, Florida that left 49 dead and more than 50 severely injured. The shooter pledged allegiance to Islamic State during the attack. The FBI is treating the attack as both terrorism and a hate crime.

“How can this possibly be happening in the United States?” Trump asked. “Do you agree with me, protester?” he said, addressing a man who was heckling him from the audience. “Or do you think it’s easy to be weak and ineffective like we are right now?”

Assuring the audience that he would “save” the Second Amendment, Trump dismissed arguments for stricter gun control by pointing out that nobody at the nightclub had been armed, and that France and Belgium had strict gun laws, before concluding that the terrorists had been able to kill with ease and impunity as a result.

“It’s happening all over, and it’s getting worse. And it’s going to continue to get worse until they respect us,” Trump said. “They have no respect for us whatsoever.”

Instead of the political correctness embraced by President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the US needs to stop the influx of migrants who mean the country harm, the GOP presidential hopeful argued.

“We have to be tough, we have to be smart, and we have to be vigilant,” he said, to the applause of the audience. “We have to stop people from pouring into our country, until we find out what the hell is going on

The exclusion of foreigners would be tempered by inclusion at home, however. “When I say ‘Make America great again,’ we have to say ‘for everybody’,” Trump said, expanding on his campaign slogan.

Trump took a jab at Clinton, pointing out that the Clinton Foundation has taken “tens of millions of dollars from countries that want to enslave women” and “kill gays.” In 2008, the foundation disclosed it had received between $10 and $25 million in donations from Saudi Arabia.

Obama “doesn’t have a clue; he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Trump argued. “He gives a speech yesterday, a long speech that at the end of it nobody knew what he was talking about.”

Noting that the Orlando attacker was born in the US, Trump pointed out that “his parents weren’t. And his ideas weren’t born here – his ideas were borne from someplace else.”

He described the great migration into Europe and the US as a “horrible thing to watch” and warned, “This is a problem that, if we don’t solve it, it’s going to eat our country alive.”

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the theater, chanting and carrying placards denouncing Trump. Atlanta police arrested several of them, but there was no large-scale disturbance comparable to the riots outside the Trump rallies in California. The protesters’ passions may have been dampened by the rain that began to pour as the rally ended.

Democrats Embrace Secretive, Flawed Terror Watchlist in Fight Against Gun Violence

June 15 2016

by Alex Emmons, Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

Democratic leaders came out in force on Wednesday in favor of a proposal to prohibit Americans who are on federal government terrorist watchlists from purchasing firearms. A group of Democratic senators waged a fillibuster on the Senate floor. And after presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump announced that he intends to meet with the powerful National Rifle Association to discuss a similar restriction, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton welcomed him to the cause.

For Democrats, however, the move amounts to a strong endorsement of a system that civil liberties advocates have called a “Kafkaesque bureaucracy,” and which some Democrats have previously criticized for being secretive, unaccountable, and discriminatory.

Getting your name on a watchlist is much easier than getting it off. According to interagency watchlisting guidelines The Intercept published in 2013, it takes neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to add someone’s name as a terror suspect. The guidelines allow the administration to name individuals as representatives of terrorist groups they have no demonstrable connection to, or to name entire “categories” of people on to the no-fly list.

There was no way for anyone to know ahead of time if they were on the no-fly list until 2014, when a federal court ruled that the government had to inform citizens when they were place on it.  But the Department of Homeland Security still refuses to tell people why, or offer a form of judicial redress.

Before the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government only banned 16 people from flying on planes for their connections to terror groups. During the George W. Bush administration, that number swelled dramatically, leading to some high-profile embarrassments.

In 2004, Sen. Ted Kennedy told a congressional committee that he had been stopped and questioned at airport security five times because his name appeared on the watchlist. A Bush administration official told the Washington Post anonymously that “T. Kennedy” was a common terrorist alias.

On the same day, former civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, D.-Ga., announced that he had been “held up” more than 35 times that year while trying to fly.But placement on a terror watchlist can have far worse consequences than harassment at airport security. Lyman Latin — a disabled U.S. marine veteran who was wrongly placed on the list and later joined an ACLU lawsuit in response — was unable to get a Veterans Administration disability evaluation completed because he was blocked from flying from Egypt to the United States. As a result, his disability payments were reduced, and he had to move into lower-cost housing, exacerbating the impact of his disability. Another Army veteran represented by the ACLU was stuck in Colombia for years due to his inability to fly home.

Individuals who have been placed on the government’s watchlists have even been subject to extra scrutiny in court for cases completely unrelated to terrorism — as their designation on the watchlist can end up on their rap sheets for judges to see.

“The federal watchlists that the compilers of rap sheets draw on for these notations are notoriously arbitrary and inaccurate. People are placed on these lists without ever being told why or given an opportunity to contest their listing. And the lists appear to focus disproportionately on individuals with Muslim-sounding names,” Ramzi Kassem, an associate professor at CUNY School of Law, told The Intercept in March.

In 2014, the Associated Press reported that more than 1.5 million names have been added to various watchlists in the five years after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, colloquially known as “the underwear bomber,” failed to blow up an airplane over Detroit in 2009.

Documents published by The Intercept in 2014 showed that nearly half of the people on the government’s shared list of terror suspects are marked as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.”

In April, the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Michigan filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the sweeping watchlist system is arbitrary and discriminatory against Muslims. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit was a 7-month old infant whose mother was stopped at airport security while he was patted down, subjected to “chemical testing,” and had his diapers searched – all because the baby’s boarding pass labeled him a “known or suspected terrorist.”

In the past, some Democrats recognized these problems. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Tex., chaired a hearing on the watchlist in 2008, saying that she was “not very happy” with a list that misidentifies individuals “who innocently come to use the airlines and to visit Grandma, to go on a family vacation, to try to make deadlines to a funeral, and whatever else the airlines are used for.” By December of last year, she was pushing the list’s use to bar gun purchases. “We’re just asking for terrorists not to be able to walk into a gun shop and buy a gun,” she said.

“Over the years, this list has grown to have over 1.1 million entries. With so many different names on the list, it is not surprising that every single day countless Americans are misidentified as terrorists,” Rep. Yvette Clark, D-N.Y., said in February 2009. But after the San Bernardino massacre, and when House Republicans blocked action on a bill to bar gun purchases from those on the list this past December, she tweeted out an article about House Democrats excoriating the move.

Republicans Seek Wider FBI Surveillance Power After Orlando

June 14, 2016

by Steven T. Dennis


Senate Republicans are planning a renewed push in the wake of the Orlando massacre to expand the FBI’s warrantless surveillance powers in terrorism investigations.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, pointed to a longstanding request by the FBI to expand the scope of electronic records — such as web browsing history — agents could sweep up from companies in terrorism investigations without obtaining a court order.

“They could go and get additional information, like metadata, who he’s e-mailing, the websites he’s accessing. Not content,” Cornyn told reporters Monday.

The fatal mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, has the potential to shift the battle lines over surveillance. Many Democrats and some conservative Republicans had been leery of granting additional authority to law enforcement to access technology without court involvement, but the rise of “lone-wolf” terrorist attacks in the U.S. could change the political calculus.

Democrats, meanwhile, plan to focus their energy on gun-control legislation, such as banning purchases by anyone on a federal terrorist watch list. “Moving the needle toward common sense, you would think we could do it,” Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said Tuesday. “If you can’t do it in these times of crises, when can you do it?”

No. 1 Priority

Legislation dealing with the FBI’s surveillance powers — something that has been requested by FBI Director James Comey — could come to the Senate floor as soon as this week as part of a debate on the spending bill that funds law enforcement.

“This was the No. 1 legislative priority of the FBI according to James Comey, and those sort of additional surveillance tools could have provided the FBI more information, which would have allowed them to identify this guy as the threat that he obviously was,” Cornyn said.

That legislation, however, has encountered strong opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and Silicon Valley companies, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

They said the change isn’t correcting a “typo,” as advocates describe. “It would dramatically expand the ability of the FBI to get sensitive information about users’ online activities without court oversight,” they wrote in a June 6 letter to senators.

The group, which noted the National Security Letters issued by the bureau do not require probable cause, said information that could be swept up “would paint an incredibly intimate picture of an individual’s life,” including their browsing history, e-mail metadata, location information and more.

“This information could reveal details about a person’s political affiliation, medical conditions, religion, substance abuse history, sexual orientation, and, in spite of the exclusion of cell tower information in the Cornyn amendment, even his or her movements throughout the day,” the group wrote.

‘Quite Complete’

Comey didn’t repeat his interest in this expanded power when he discussed the Orlando shooting on Monday, instead suggesting the FBI had been able to conduct a full investigation under current law.

“We had the resources to do a 10-month investigation that based on my review was quite complete involving surveillance, sources, a review of electronic records, international records,” Comey said Monday, adding that agents recorded conversations with the shooter and reviewed “transactional records from his communications.”

Some Republicans also remain skeptical of the changes Cornyn and Comey are seeking. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina said he wanted to learn more about the proposal, since it wouldn’t even require the involvement of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts established to handle sensitive information.

“I think that we always have to be very, very hesitant to move forward with collecting data that doesn’t at least go through a FISA court or something else that provides a basis for issuing a warrant to get access to information,” he said.

Gun Measures

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in a brief interview Monday, said Democrats would take a look at what Republicans propose. But he is also demanding — and is likely to get — votes on gun-control measures this week as part of the debate on the spending bill.

Democrats also might push measures that would boost protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, but it’s unclear whether the political lines are shifting on either of those issues.

Senate Democrats want a reprise of December’s gun vote on a proposal by Senator Dianne Feinstein aimed at blocking people on terror watch lists from buying guns. Only one Republican, Mark Kirk of Illinois, backed it in December.

“Let them all vote no again on that and see how the American people like that,” Reid told reporters Monday.

President Barack Obama also renewed his call for new restrictions. “We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans get their hands on weapons of war,” he said Tuesday.

Democrats have targeted other vulnerable Republican senators, like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who co-authored a plan blocked by his fellow Republicans to expand background checks but voted no on last year’s terror watch list amendment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday that nobody wants terrorists to get guns, and said Republicans are open to “serious” suggestions on how to do that but suspect Democrats of being engaged in a political exercise.

Even so, some Republicans sounded hopeful on Tuesday about reaching a compromise to block terrorists from getting guns.

“You can’t justify having a watch list or terrorism list or no-fly list in particular and have access to guns,” Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona told reporters. “But I’m sympathetic to concerns that those lists are too broad and not cleaned up. If there’s a way to clean them up, then we ought to.”

Republican Version

Cornyn doesn’t expect a different result on the Democratic legislation, accusing the party of playing politics rather than working with Republicans on a compromise.

He said if Democrats push the same amendment, Republicans may bring up something similar to the 72-hour period they offered last year, which would allow the government to pursue a court order blocking a particular gun sale during a 72-hour waiting period.

“This is not going to be just about background checks,” Cornyn said. “We’re going to try to enhance the surveillance capability of the FBI so they can discover these lone-wolf terrorists before they strike.”

“The problem is what they are proposing won’t solve the problem and we want to solve the problem,” he said.

It’s not clear if either proposal would have done anything in the Orlando case, however, given that the shooter had been investigated at length by the FBI and was not on a terror watch list at the time he purchased his guns.

And while some, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are also calling for reinstatement of the assault-weapons ban, a number of Senate Democrats voted against doing so the last time that was debated.

Cornyn acknowledged that his background check proposal also would not have stopped the Orlando shooter.

“If he’s a licensed firearms owner? No. But what are you going to do short of denying people their Second Amendment rights without due process or without any proof that they’re a threat?”

Feinstein said regardless of how one feels about guns, “you certainly don’t want guns to fall in the hands of terrorists.”

She said her amendment included an appeals process, but said she would be willing to talk with Cornyn about a compromise.

“I’ll talk to him,” she said.

House Push

House Republicans will also face a push by Democrats to hold votes on gun measures, but they don’t have to allow them. Leadership has moved to restrict what amendments can be offered on spending bills to avoid votes on awkward or controversial issues.

Among the provisions House Democrats say they’ll push for are stricter background checks, legislation preventing those convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from purchasing a firearm and a measure preventing those on the “no-fly list” of suspected terrorists from buying guns.

Democratic leaders in the chamber say the legislation related to the “no-fly list,” which prohibits people from boarding a commercial aircraft for travel in and out of the U.S., is their first priority.

Representative Mike Thompson, a California Democrat and author of the bill, has been circulating a petition designed to force a vote in the House since this spring and has obtained 175 of the 218 signatures needed.

Hate Crime

There’s also potential for a renewed focus on LGBT rights, with many Democrats decrying the murders at a gay club as a hate crime.

The fight over LGBT rights has already disrupted this year’s House debate over spending bills, as Democrats and some Republicans push to expand protections against discrimination, while conservative Republicans have pushed to protect North Carolina and other states from losing funding over transgender bathroom bans.

Amendments on those issues led to the defeat late last month on the House floor of the Energy-Water spending bill and forced Republican leaders to reconsider how they move ahead on measures to fund the federal government.

IDF closes case against officer who shelled Gaza clinic ‘in memory’ of fallen comrade

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Neria Yeshurun will only be reprimanded for ordering a ‘revenge volley’ during the 2014 war, after investigation failed to find enough evidence to prove shelling wasn’t operationally justified.

June 14, 2016

by Gili Cohen


The Israeli army will not take legal action against a senior Armored Corps officer who ordered his troops to fire at a Palestinian medical clinic during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, apparently “in memory” of a fellow officer killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Instead, the IDF’s Military Advocate General decided that Battalion commander Lt. Col. Neria Yeshurun will only be reprimanded, and that his actions will be taken into account when considering his future deployment and promotion.

The IDF launched the investigation last June, due to the suspicion that the order to bombard the clinic in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood — which was intended to “raise the troops’ morale” as a “salute” to Armored Corps company commander Dmitri Levitas — was in violation of army regulations.

At the time, Yeshurun told the IDF Ground Forces publication Bayabasha that he had been sorry that he and his troops could not be at Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl military cemetery for Levitas’ funeral, “and therefore we decided to fire a volley of shells toward the point from which he lost his life.”

The Military Advocate General condemned Yeshurun’s remarks, which suggested that firing a barrage was a legitimate act of revenge. This “doesn’t accord with IDF values and his remarks constitute a failure of command,” said the Military Advocate General. However, according to the IDF, the investigation didn’t yield enough evidence to disprove the claim that the volley was justified on an operational level. Therefore, the case was closed and the officer will not be charged.

The launch of the investigation last year has caused a stir on social networking sites, and a Facebook page was opened in support of the officer under the slogan: “We are all with Lt. Col. Neria Yeshurun.”The page includes testimony and quotes from his soldiers in support of Yeshurun. One wrote that he and his comrades-in-arms were told for days not to fire at the clinic. However, after it became completely clear to them that this was an enemy camp from which terrorists were aiming fire at IDF troops — fire that killed Levitas — the tanks were allowed to shell it.

Maj. (res.) Amihai Harach, Yeshrun’s deputy, told Galei Yisrael radio at the time that “this was an operational action — not an act by some bully who comes into the neighborhood and tries to make order at the expense of the residents. That was not the situation at all.”

What had to be done, he continued, was “to take down this clinic… because there was a Hamas position there… What’s more, they fired from there and they killed a company commander in the battalion.”

Asked whether the incident was unusual, Harach answered: “The only unusual thing [Yeshurun] did was that he put the incident on top of the eulogy to Dima, the company commander who was killed. That was certainly to raise [morale]. And I say to you on the level of facts — that raised morale and encouraged the soldiers to continue the mission.”

Another unusual element, Harach said, was that soldiers documented the shelling of the clinic “so we could distribute it to the whole battalion.”

A recent report by the NGO Breaking the Silence contains testimony of an Armored Corps soldier from the same brigade about firing in revenge. According to the soldier, his company commander ordered him to fire shells at Palestinian homes in memory of a comrade from the company who had been killed. “To me it seemed not right at all, very problematic… they fired like they do at funerals, just with a shell at houses. It wasn’t in the air. The tank commander said, ‘pick a house that’s farthest away, so that it hurts them as much as possible.’ A sort of revenge,” the soldier said.

Germans becoming increasingly xenophobic, study finds

A study by the University of Leipzig has revealed a growing suspicion and even hatred towards Muslims over the past two years. It found that Germans have also become increasingly skeptical of politics and the polic

June 15, 2016


The latest in a series of biennial surveys conducted by the university compared German attitudes towards xenophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism and the trivialization of Nazism.

Presented in Berlin on Wednesday by scientists Oliver Decker and Elmar Brähler, the research team found a significant increase in resentment towards Muslims and also a greater willingness far-right fanatics to use violence, if necessary, to uphold their beliefs.

More than 40 percent of the public think Muslims should be prevented from migrating to Germany, while around half of those interviewed said they sometimes felt like a stranger in their own country, compared to 43 percent two years ago.

Respondents also displayed more animosity towards other minority groups, including homosexuals and Romany people, also called gypsies. More than 40 percent of those questioned said it was disgusting when gays kissed in public, compared to 25 percent in 2011. A third tought same-sex marriages should be banned. Nearly three out of five respondents believed that Gypsies were more likely to commit crimes.

Litmus test for migration crisis

Reaction to the refugee crisis was understandably noticeable, after Germany received more than 1.2 million migrants over the past year. Around four-fifths of those interviewed said the country should not be so generous, and nearly 60 percent disagreed witht he assertion that asylum seekers are fleeing persecution at home.

Confidence in socio-political organizations, including the police and political parties has decreased significantly, with many people telling researchers they no longer feel represented by the political system.

Researchers said the development of liberal civil rights was not supported by all sections of the population, describing how a significant polarization and swing towards more extremist views had taken place over the past two years.

Growing support for right-wing parties including Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the anti-immigration PEGIDA movement was noted in the survey, picking up supporters from all socio-economic groups.

Prejudice not limited to East

Despite xenophobia generally being more associated with eastern Germany, the researchers found little difference between the two sides – nearly 23 percent in the east, versus 20 percent in the west. The one stark difference was the large number of under 30-year-olds in the east that display xenophobic views.

Also on Wednesday, a separate study by the polling company Allensbach revealed further skepticism towards Muslims. Only 13 percent of those interviewed agreed with the statement “Islam belongs in Germany.”

The survey, published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” showed most Germans believed that integration could only happen so long as German culture remained the dominant culture.,

Euro 2016 violence: Police arrest 36 over Lille disorder

June 15, 2016


At least 36 people have been arrested in Lille in a day of recurring clashes between French police and football fans at the Euro 2016 tournament.

French police said the arrests had been made throughout Wednesday and added that 16 people had been hospitalised.

On Wednesday evening, riot police charged at hundreds of England football fans as flares and bangers were lit.

The BBC’s James Reevell said tear gas had been used by riot police and it was mostly England fans that were involved.

Earlier, some English and Russian fans were detained after scuffles.

England and Wales supporters are in the city ahead of the teams’ match in nearby Lens on Thursday.

Russian and Slovakian fans are also in Lille, after their match at the city’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Wednesday.

Darkness brought a dramatic escalation in tensions between English fans and French police.

Hundreds of supporters engaged in scuffles with the police, who used tear gas, flash bangs and baton charges to disperse them.

The fears earlier in the day had been of attacks by hardcore Russian hooligans, but this was very much an English problem.

They sang their chant “Please don’t send me home” and threw bottles in challenge at the police.

After funnelling fans down the city’s streets, the police withdrew and some fans were left to stay in the city centre, if in a less boisterous mood.

It’s unclear what caused the situation to escalate, as earlier in the day the police had been happy to contain the fans and keep them separate.

The city was tense, but disturbances were low-key running battles quickly stopped by the police.

Now the fear is what will happen when ticketless fans watch the England v Wales game in the city tomorrow.

Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of England fans were surrounded by riot police in the city’s main square.

The fans were then pushed back into the corner of the square by police in riot gear, before the square was cleared.

England fan Oliver Larkworthy, from Norwich, is in Lille and was caught up when police fired tear gas at fans at the city’s railway station.

“I saw a massive crowd running down the street – English fans, Slovakian fans and locals mainly, a real mix,” he said.

“There is a massive mob of Russian fans standing outside the station just waiting to cause trouble. The whole thing is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s like a massive tinder box waiting to go off any minute.”

The Russian football team have already been given a suspended disqualification from the tournament following attacks by their supporters on England fans at their opening fixture in Marseille on Saturday.

And the Russian foreign ministry has summoned the French ambassador to Moscow after it sharply criticised policing at the Euro 2016 tournament.

“Further stoking of anti-Russian sentiments… could significantly aggravate the atmosphere in Russian-French relations,” the ministry said.

Six England fans were jailed following Russia and England’s draw in Marseille on Saturday.

Michel Lalande, prefect of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardy region, said a drinking ban was in place in some parts of central Lille and the stadium.

Shops selling alcohol in the city closed from 18:00 local time (17:00 BST) on Tuesday and will reopen at 06:00 (05:00 BST) on Friday, he said.

However, the BBC’s Geraint Owen, in Lille, said small supermarkets were still selling alcohol on Wednesday afternoon, and drinking was taking place openly on the streets.

Vince Alm, of the Football Supporters’ Federation Cymru, said the ban was not enforceable. “There are so many outlets around it’s impossible,” he said.

Fans are being discouraged from travelling if they are without a ticket to the England-Wales game, and the authorities had also asked those with a ticket to delay travel until the day of the game.

Those without match tickets can watch the match in the city’s fan zone, where lower-strength beer will be sold.

Mr Lalande also said anyone carrying out violence would be removed from the country.

British Transport Police officers have been travelling with fans on Eurostar trains on Wednesday.

FBI uses questionable facial recognition software to comb vast photo database

FBI did not properly disclose privacy impact of storing 411m photos and has no information on how often software returns false positives, a new study finds

June 15, 2016

by Sam Thielman

The Guardian

New York-The FBI maintains a huge database of more than 411m photos culled from sources including driver’s licenses, passport applications and visa applications, which it cross-references with photos of criminal suspects using largely untested and questionably accurate facial recognition software.

A study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released on Wednesday for the first time revealed the extent of the program, which had been queried several years before through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The GAO, a watchdog office internal to the US federal government, found that the FBI did not appropriately disclose the database’s impact on public privacy until it audited the bureau in May.

The office recommended that the attorney general determine why the FBI did not obey the disclosure requirements, and that it conduct accuracy tests to determine whether the software is correctly cross-referencing driver’s licenses and passport photos with images of criminal suspects. The Department of Justice “disagreed” with three of the GAO’s six recommendations, according to the office, which affirmed their validity.

The audit came at the request of Minnesota Democratic senator Al Franken.

Images of faces are protected personal information under US law. The Privacy Act of 1974 limits the collection, disclosure and use of personal information and requires agencies to disclose what kinds they are using, generally about whom and how.

The FBI did not publish such disclosures, according to the report.

The FBI’s system searches not just its own database, but also photo databases maintained by seven participating states, the US Department of State – which issues passports – and the US Department of Defense, shared among federal law enforcement agencies and the participating agencies, though access on the state level is obtained through the FBI.

Initial queries about the program from the EFF, Franken and others referred to the Next Generation Identification-Interstate Photo System (NGI-IPS, or NGI), which allows the FBI and some state and local agencies to cross-reference surveillance camera footage and other photographs with its collection of candidate photos.

But the GAO report found a much larger program, run by the criminal justice information services division of the FBI (CJIS), called Facial Analysis, Comparison and Evaluation, or Face, which “conducts face recognition searches on NGI-IPS and can access external partners’ face recognition systems to support FBI active investigations”.

Beyond simple privacy concerns, said EFF senior staff attorney Jennifer Lynch, is the question of the accuracy of the comparisons between photos of suspects and photos of law-abiding citizens used by the FBI for criminal investigations.

“The FBI has done very minimal testing on the accuracy of their internal system,” Lynch told the Guardian. “We submitted a Foia request and asked about NGI; in the records we received they hedged. They guaranteed 80%, maybe 85% accuracy if the candidate is in the top 50 responses – so basically what they’re saying is that it’s highly inaccurate! And as the database gets larger, the accuracy goes down.”

The FBI “did not include all possible candidate list sizes and did not specify how often incorrect matches were returned”, according to the GAO report. No information on how often the database returns false positives is currently available.

Testing of the ability of NGI to return accurate results, said Lynch, is minimal; testing on the ability of partner systems to return accurate results through Face, according to the report, is nonexistent.

The reason state governments currently keep detailed facial recognition databases from driver’s licenses, said Lynch, is to stymie identity theft and other crimes. “Data that’s being collected for one purpose is being used for a very different purpose and that’s not the way we operate in our democratic system,” she said.

“It’s one thing to develop a system that is made to detect fraud,” Lynch said. “If you have a false positive in a fraud situation,that may mean that somebody has to come down to the DMV and provide further information before they get their new driver’s license. That’s a pain, but it’s not equivalent to being arrested and having to explain yourself to a law enforcement officer while you’re sitting in jail.”

In response to a request for further comment, the DoJ referred the Guardian to its response letter at the end of the report, in which it said: “The FBI believes GAO staff does not fully appreciate the nature of its face recognition service as being utilized for investigative leads only and not positive identifications.”

The FBI said it believed previous disclosures were adequate and that its searches for leads in criminal cases of records acquired from civilians by DMVs and passport offices were “in strict compliance with federal and state law”.

Updated: Superbug found in Illinois and South Carolina

June 15, 2016

by Lena H. Sun

Washington Post

U.S. officials have found bacteria resistant to the antibiotic of last resort in a sample from a second pig, increasing concerns about the spread of a newly discovered superbug that initially surfaced in this country in March.

The latest report involves an antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli from a pig intestine, which was detected by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a spokeswoman said Monday evening. The E. coli bacteria carried a gene making it resistant to the antibiotic colistin, the drug used against particularly dangerous types of superbugs that can already withstand many other antibiotics.

The sample is still undergoing analysis. The bacteria were detected May 27, nearly three months after the first discovery of the gene in a pig sample.

On Wednesday, USDA officials said the most recent pig sample came from a slaughterhouse in Illinois. The first sample came from a slaughterhouse in South Carolina.

The same gene, mcr-1, also was identified last month in an E. coli strain from a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman with no recent travel outside the country. That marked the first time the colistin-resistant strain had been found in a person in the United States, raising alarms among health officials and infectious-disease experts tracking its appearance in Asia, Europe and Canada.

Each of the three U.S. cases involves different strains of E. coli.  The latest animal case suggests the gene is already circulating through multiple routes here.

“Mounting evidence suggests the mcr-1 gene is circulating within the United States,” said Patrick McGann, one of the Defense Department researchers who identified the gene in the patient in Pennsylvania. “Our sample was in a woman with no recent travel history, the pig samples are from slaughterhouses in the USA, and [the] strains are all different.”

But the sources have yet to be identified, McGann said.

U.S. officials have been looking for the gene since its emergence in pigs and people in China was reported late last year. There have since been dozens more reports in animals and people on three continents. The number of positive cases in animals is about 20 times that in humans, so researchers say it’s not that surprising that two pig samples have tested positive in the United States.

Public health officials’ biggest fear is that the gene will spread to bacteria that are now susceptible only to colistin. In all three cases here, the gene was carried on a plasmid, a mobile piece of DNA that easily can transfer the gene to other bacteria. That would result in a kind of super-superbug, invincible to every life-saving antibiotic available.

Appearing before a congressional hearing Tuesday on antibiotic resistance, a top expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is essential to slow the spread of resistant bacteria.

“Antibiotic resistance is perhaps the single most important infectious disease threat of our time,” Beth Bell, who heads prevention and control of a wide range of infectious diseases at the CDC, said in her written statement.

“The identification of the mcr-1 gene vividly illustrates the domestic and global challenges of antibiotic resistance,” she told members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations. The gene was first identified last November “and in less than six months, it has been found in a human and two animals in the U.S.”

According to Bell, the investigation by the agency and the Pennsylvania health department into the woman’s case is currently focused on identifying and screening contacts she had at home and while a hospital patient to determine whether any might carry bacteria with the mcr-1 gene. The patient was treated at a military outpatient facility in Pennsylvania, and the antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria was found in her urine.

The patient was treated with other types of antibiotics and is fine, officials have said. Bell said the CDC has been able to verify that the patient no longer has the bacteria in her urine.

A national surveillance system that includes the CDC, USDA and the Food and Drug Administration has analyzed more than 55,000 bacterial samples collected from food animals, retail meats and people. None has contained the gene.

As part of that effort, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has been looking through 2,000 intestinal samples from cattle, hogs, turkeys and chickens; about 1,300 samples have already been evaluated. That’s how scientists detected the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the first pig sample on March 3. It took several more weeks of testing to determine its particular characteristics, the spokeswoman said.

Department officials didn’t publicly disclose their finding until May 26, the day that Defense Department researchers published a paper outlining how they found the gene in the Pennsylvania patient.

London traders brace for biggest night since ‘Black Wednesday’

June 15, 2016

by William James, Freya Berry and Patrick Graham


LONDON-The world’s biggest banks including Citi and Goldman Sachs will draft in senior traders to work through the night following Britain’s referendum on EU membership, set to be among the most volatile 24 hours for markets in a quarter of a century.

A vote to leave the European Union on June 23 would spook investors by undermining post-World War Two attempts at European integration and placing a question mark over the future of the United Kingdom and its $2.9 trillion economy.

Citi, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds are among those banks planning to have senior staff and traders working or on call in London as results start to dribble in after polls close at 2100 GMT, according to the sources.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co, told employees on a visit to Britain this month that if the vote was to leave the EU, the bank would have to have “teams of people thrown on what that means”.

“We won’t know what it means: there is a wide range of outcomes,” Dimon, a supporter of Britain’s membership who has warned of job cuts at JPMorgan in Britain if there is an Out vote, said in the broadcast speech.

A vote to leave could unleash turmoil on foreign exchange, equity and bond markets, spoiling bets across asset classes and potentially testing the infrastructure of Western markets such as computer systems, stock exchanges and clearing houses.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has cautioned that a Brexit vote could shake financial markets and potentially push back the timing of the next rise in U.S. interest rates.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said sterling could depreciate, “perhaps sharply” and some major banks have forecast an unprecedented fall to parity with the euro and as low as $1.20 in the days following any vote to leave the bloc.

The Bank of England will be staffed overnight, with senior policymakers on call if markets go into meltdown. The finance ministry would not comment on its staffing plans.

The official Vote Leave campaign argues there is no evidence that leaving the EU would weaken sterling long term, while Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party has said that even if the currency did fall, it would simply boost British exports.


Sterling – the world’s fourth most traded currency – has moved sharply in recent weeks, often on the back of opinion polls.

Depending on the results from across the United Kingdom, the night of June 23 and early morning of June 24 could rank as one of the most volatile nights in the history of the London market.

“We’ve all seen U.S. elections, UK general elections, we’ve had the Scottish referendum, the collapse of Lehman and QE (Quantitative Easing) but this is by far and away the biggest risk event that has presented itself to the UK,” said Chris Huddleston, head of money markets at specialist bank Investec.

London accounts for 41 percent of global turnover in the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market, more than double the turnover in the United States and far more than the 3 percent of its closest EU competitors, France and Switzerland.

“All the traders are going to be in … They don’t like missing big moments, if there’s going to be one, they want to be at their desk,” said a senior source at a major bank based in the Canary Wharf financial district of London.

Some banks are planning the night down to the smallest detail to keep their traders on top form – laying on all night catering and booking nearby hotels to offer temporary respite.

“It is the biggest planned risk event that anyone can remember, so everyone is going to be involved. The question is just when you try and get some sleep,” said one senior foreign exchange trader.

No exit polls are planned by British broadcasters so the first numbers from the counts will be turnout results from 382 different areas followed by totals for ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ in each area. [L8N1920W5]STERLING

Polls have given contradictory pictures of British public opinion, keeping markets guessing on the final outcome.

That has left sterling, currently priced at $1.41, far away from either of its likely resting places after the final result is known – seen by banks as around $1.50 in the event of a remain vote, or $1.30 or lower if Britain votes to leave.

That almost-certain rapid repricing could set the scene for one of the rockiest sessions since traders wrestled down the value of sterling on Black Wednesday, September 16, 1992, when Britain crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

“If it’s Brexit, then we’re looking at something that’s at least on the scale of Black Wednesday,” said Nick Parsons, global co-head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank and a veteran of the 1992 sterling crisis.

Prices for derivatives used to mitigate the risk of sharp swings in sterling point to a period of intense volatility.

Officials and bank managers planning for the event draw comparisons with the 40 percent surge in the Swiss franc in January 2015, which bankrupted dozens of small investment funds and cost banks including Citi hundreds of millions of dollars.

Traders and analysts told Reuters they would expect a Brexit vote to cause sterling to ‘gap’, or plummet lower – as orders to sell the currency met an absence of willing buyers, leaving a blank spot on the price charts snaking across traders’ screens.

Gaps can inflict huge losses on banks and traders, forcing them to bail out of trades at prices far below the automatic sell orders, or ‘stops’ they normally use to limit losses.

Currency market participants have urged the Bank of England to call on U.S. Federal Reserve if the turbulence gets really bad. The BoE could buy sterling with dollars borrowed directly from the U.S. central bank under arrangements first used in response to the global financial crisis in 2008.

Carney has said the Bank would not stand in the way of any exchange rate adjustment but would take the necessary steps to ensure markets remained orderly. It has not commented on whether or how the bank might intervene.


A senior source at one London bank said his firm had been building big reserves of sterling to lend out to any clients who get caught short by swirling asset valuations that require them to post extra security deposits with their trading partners.

Foreign exchange brokers such as PhillipCapital UK and Saxo Bank have raised the security deposit they demand from clients in order to trade, a step designed to offset the increased risk that customers get caught out by sharp moves.

One asset manager who declined to be named said his firm had run a test to see if it could cope with a 30 percent fall in sterling. The fund had increased its cash holdings and would have traders working overnight, ready to sell other assets in case it needed to raise more cash in a hurry.

Volatile markets not only put traders under pressure: they test the limits of the technology that underpin the market.

A source at the London Stock Exchange said volatility could spike on June 24 and that it was putting in emergency capacity for transaction reporting to cope with any spike in trading volumes that might otherwise overwhelm its systems.

A spokesperson for LSE declined to comment.

Despite facing a battle against surges in trading volumes, volatile prices and, at times, the absence of enough buyers or sellers to meet demand, some traders are rubbing their hands at the prospect of a night and day of high drama.

“You look forward to days like this,” said one bond trader at a major London bank. “There’s money to be made and lost … You’ve just got to hope you’re on the right side of it, not the one being carried out the door.”

(Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever, Anirban Nag, John Geddie, Dhara Ranasinghe, William Schomberg, Anjuli Davies, Andrew Macaskill, Lawrence White, Simon Jessop, Marc Jones and Maiya Keidan, Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Philippa Fletcher)

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