TBR News June 19, 2016

Jun 19 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 19, 2016:”  Some years ago, when I was living in California, I attended a social gathering in Oakland and met Jessica Mitford, the author of a number of interesting books and the wife of Robert Treuhaft, a left-wing labor lawyer from that area. While I was talking with Mrs. Treuhaft about her excellent exposé of the American funeral business, I heard a loud, shrill and very unpleasant voice coming from a woman about ten feet away. She was short, blonde and had very heavy legs. The gist of her rant was that her opinion on some racial issue (Treuhaft represented the Black Panthers) was the only one to consider and that anyone who disagreed with her was either a rabid fascist or a moron. I asked Mrs. Treuhaft who the obnoxious woman was and she sighed and said that it was Hillary, a recent Yale law school graduate, who was working with the Panther people. She said Hillary was ‘very intelligent but also very obnoxious.’ She said that no one liked her because she was so egotistical and so loud but that she was a hard worker. This was damnation with faint praise and the conversation moved into other areas. I recall that most sharply because the next time I saw the woman, her husband had just been elected President of the United States.”


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.


Thursday, 28 December 1950

Christmas has come and gone. The festivities were entirely satisfactory and everyone came away with something; either in their stomachs or their pockets.

God alone knows what the gifts cost but I got a few things I can actually use. A beautiful Patek Phillipe gold watch from Bunny, a first-class cigar humidor filled with excellent cigars from my staff, a beautiful Sevres porcelain service from old auntie and assorted scarves, ties and books from the others. Maxl got his filet, medium rare and cut up into manageable pieces. He had to eat this in another part of the house because he has developed into a terrible beggar in the dining room. He would look like a barrel if we let him come in. Besides, he will get under the table and poke his nose around, looking for food and who knows? Some lady guest might turn around and smack the man next to her all because Maxl is looking for meat! Of course, so is she but not the same sort.

Enough Christmas humor. We also got three fruitcakes, which I understand, once belonged to George Washington! This is an American tradition, the fruitcake. They are lovingly passed on from father to son and will still be around when the sun explodes next March.

When I was in Cuba (and I have convinced Behn that he ought to send me back again in February. Why should I pay for an expensive trip when someone else is willing?) I bought hundreds of excellent cigars and have had a large humidor built into my office.

I have limited myself to one a day now with a little cheating when I am working on an interesting project.

Oh yes, and another funny matter.

I had to invite Viktor down because Bunny likes him and he is lonely. Although Viktor, like all good communists, is an atheist, nevertheless, he liked the holiday here. I played four games with him, won three and lost one. Viktor accused me of letting him win but then it is Christmas and if I don’t let him win a hard-fought game once in a while, he will lose interest in playing.

I did have some good news for him. We have set up the escape route via the Black Sea and Turkey if Elena wants to take it. I am certain she will and he was more than happy that I was helping him. Actually, it will be in my interest in the end.

If the authorities in Russia actually believe there was an accident and she is dead, if she and the children live in Canada, Viktor can remain safely in place here without a worry about his family. Then he will be able to assist me in various projects out of gratitude and self-interest. I will make a capitalist out of him yet and when his usefulness runs out in Russia (as it always does with them), then he can bring his family down and live in America.

I’m certain he will be a big hit with the CIA but the Pentagon will not be happy unless we convince them that he was a double agent all along. Besides, mendacity aside, I like him. He is not really a communist but a professional agent and a very good chess player. There is a community of shared interest with genuine professionals and the rest of the world does not understand it.

We have our fanatics and they have theirs but aside from them, there are thoroughly decent people on both sides of any fence who are only doing their jobs as best they can.

Sunday, 31 December 1950

One more holiday and then some peace and quiet. We have been invited to at least five New Year’s evening parties but we will celebrate quietly here. The news from Korea is still bad; MacArthur is insisting that we plaster China with atomic bombs and is growing more and more strident as time passes. Truman had to visit him out in the middle of the Pacific in October and M. thinks that he has the upper hand; that the President of the United States came all the way to see him. Now M. has contempt for Truman, which is a terrible error of judgment on his part.

The last year has been a very exciting and important one for me. I have gotten used to my new home, married, bought two beautiful houses (and I am certainly going on a skiing vacation when I get back from Cuba. Probably in early March. Bunny can go on that one for sure), have learned to ride horses (somewhat), met all manner of interesting (and really terrible) people, entertained the most powerful leader in the world at dinner, bought (or acquired) a house full of beautiful art, acquired a fine dog and a very good grasp of another language. On the negative side, I have lost a good deal of my hair (which was departing for years…it finally went) and have to watch my smoking and drinking unless I want my stomach problems to return.

Everything in God’s good time, I always say.

And I just was told today that Bunny thinks she might be pregnant! Siring children at fifty is a little strange but I would have no problem with a child around the house. It might give Maxl something to play with and there is always the wonderful aroma of diapers, the yowling of babies in the middle of the night (they always sound like mating cats) and other long and blessedly forgotten joys of fatherhood.

Still, it would be pleasant to have another son. We can do without daughters and it’s fortunate that no one reads these things or I would be in serious trouble!

In the last election, the Democrats got about 49% of the votes and the Republicans another 49% which makes them about even. This Korean business could either make or break Truman. A quick ending (after an American victory early next year) could push up his percentages with the public and a protracted war could push them down.

On the other hand, to be pragmatic, a long (non-atomic of course) campaign will not do my stock portfolio any harm at all. Besides, I have gotten to the point where I ought to seriously consider some kind of retirement. I have worked very hard all my life to do the best I could and it would be pleasant to sit on a beach somewhere drinking rum and coconut water and watch the sea birds screaming and wheeling over fish.

Behn has several ideas that I might consider because I am growing increasingly annoyed with the band of pseudo-intellectual murderers who I have to work with and I am seriously beginning to wonder if the game is worth the candle?

I don’t suppose the game is really over until they close your eyes for you and the servants run off with the plate so I think the new decade might prove to be as interesting as the last and that is certainly saying something!

Tuesday, 2. January 1951

I would greatly have preferred a quiet New Year’s celebration but it was not as raucous as others have been. I find that I can entertain my business friends at the club and keep my public and private lives somewhat apart.

Truman was off on a boat trip over the weekend and has returned here for more depressing news from the front. At least it was depressing but now we see signs of the sun breaking through the clouds.

The situation in Korea is starting to look up a bit but the front is still fluid. We are sending in many more troops and MacArthur is demanding that we atom bomb Chinese troops, not only in North Korea but into China as well! Of course that is going nowhere but M. is leaking this to the press and the American right wing is grabbing at it. I suppose M. thinks that if Truman is “soft” on this issue, he can be toppled on a charge of being “soft” on communist China.

I have been told very often that MacArthur is considered to be a very dangerous man, one who sees himself as a man on a horse to save the country and make him a demi-god. He enjoys tremendous power and privilege in Japan and would like to come home and try it on here.

Roosevelt was absolutely terrified of him after an abortive putsch attempt in 1933 and bribed him to stay in Manila and out of the way. I note, by the way, that Eisenhower was his social secretary there and was noted at the time for his servility to MacArthur. Eisenhower never was a field commander and was, and is, a political general, just like Keitel. MacArthur, at least, was a combat man and well decorated during the 1914 war. I don’t think anyone questions his bravery. His judgment sometimes but not his bravery. Eisenhower, on the other hand, is a duplicitous sneak. There has always been a question of why M. refused to respond to the Japanese attack in 1941 and deliberately allow his airforce, which comprised a number of the deadly, long-range B-17s, to stay on the ground and flatly refused the entreaties of his generals to attack the Japanese.

The rumor is that he was bribed by the Philippines not to antagonize the Japanese by bombing their invasion fleet (!) but also ordered by Roosevelt to do nothing at all so as to increase the damage the Japanese would do to this country. R. wanted war with Japan and preventive military measures on our part here might have negated this attack on their part.

  1. got a half a million dollars in bribes from the head of the Philippine government and was rescued, along with his family, from Manila when the Japanese army, which he did so much to aid, closed in.

Now, M is lusting after the White House and is deliberately undermining Tremens’ position. From inside information (Truman himself) I think the new Caesar is due for an ugly surprise one of these days. Now, as T. says, is not the time to remove him but no doubt the time will come. General (Walton, ed.) Walker, who was killed in Korea, was buried today at Arlington. A State Funeral with a team of white horses and his command flag behind the coffin. He was buried at Arlington with great pomp but I did not go, although I was invited


Mortgage Companies Seek Time Travelers to Find Missing Documents

June 17, 2016

by David Dayen

The Intercept

Recruiters are hiring for a job that shouldn’t exist: finding “missing” documents required to “complete” broken chains of title on mortgages entering foreclosure.

Since all assignments of mortgage should have been prepared and recorded within days of the transfer or sale — and the failure to do so irreparably ruptures chain of title — the companies would seem to be looking for time travelers or magicians.

Or maybe they want to manufacture false evidence to introduce into courts as a means to take away people’s homes.

Without a chain of title documenting the sequence of historical transfers of title to a property, foreclosure proceedings cannot continue in a legal fashion.

Alluvion Staffing, a recruiting firm from Jacksonville, Florida, posted a listing on Career Builder for a “Default Breach Specialist” for an unnamed mortgage company, who would be tasked with locating “missing assignments needed to complete the chain of title prior to foreclosure referral.” The ad follows a separate search from Select Portfolio Servicing, a Utah-based mortgage servicer, for someone to “provide assistance in demonstrating the Investor has the appropriate legal authority to initiate actions through a complete Chain of Title.”

As I detailed in my book Chain of Title, the various companies packaging loans during the housing bubble routinely failed to follow the precise steps to transfer mortgages into the tax-preferred trusts used to create mortgage-backed securities.

For the most part, these breaches cannot be reversed, because the governing securitization documents, known as pooling and servicing agreements, specified a time limit for conveying mortgages into trusts.

Regardless of this rigid deadline, mortgage companies hired third parties to mock up after-the-fact documents, making it look like they held an unbroken chain of title and had the ability to foreclose. The obvious fabrications have been challenged in court numerous times, and were the focus of a national settlement with leading mortgage servicing companies in 2012.

However, the focus of the settlement — false documents submitted to courts in foreclosure cases — continues to this day.

The multiple job listings for specialists to fix broken chains of title only confirms that nothing has changed in the industry. No mortgage company would require a chain of title specialist if the documents needed to foreclose existed.

It’s possible the missing documents merely need to be located. But the presence of an entire industry of third-party “default services” companies that recreate mortgage assignments suggests that this isn’t a case of lost-and-found. Last September, one such third party, Security Connections of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was caught soliciting individuals to forge mortgage documents.

The Alluvion Staffing advertisement says the Default Breach Specialist must maintain a caseload of delinquent loans “to ensure timely preparation, execution and/or recordation of all needed assignments prior to foreclosure referral.” Alluvion adds that two years of mortgage default servicing and a high school diploma are required for the job, with “college education a plus.”

Select Portfolio Servicing’s job listing seeks individuals who can “facilitate document requests in a timely manner,” while exhibiting a “comprehensive understanding of proving up all Chain of Title requirements.”

The qualified applicant would have document-processing experience, proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel, and mysteriously, the “ability to lift boxes weighing 25 lbs.” The company does not specify a pay range. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Over 6.2 million families have lost their homes to foreclosure since the financial crisis began in September 2008, according to a report Monday from CoreLogic. It is not known how many of those foreclosures were executed with false documents. But we do know that the failure to follow longstanding property records laws in securitization contracts was so systemic that eight years later, special teams of chain of title specialists must be hired to make the problem vanish.

Michael Redman of the recently restarted 4closurefraud.org blog found the initial listing from Select Portfolio Servicing. Foreclosure defense attorney April Charney sent the Alluvion Staffing listing.

Reports of Turkish border guards firing on Syrian refugees

A monitoring group says at least eight Syrian refugees, including four children, have been shot dead while trying to enter Turkey. More than 2.7 million Syrians have fled over the border since the war erupted in 2011.

June 19, 2016


The eight Syrians were shot by Turkish border guards while trying to travel from Kherbet al-Jouz in northwestern Syria to Turkey’s Hatay province overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday.

The Observatory said the group had been displaced by fighting around Manbij, an “Islamic State” stronghold under siege from US-backed forces.

A senior Turkish official cited by The Associated Press said authorities were “unable to independently verify the claims,” but were investigating.

“Turkey provides humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in northern Syria and follows an open door policy – which means we admit refugees whose lives are under imminent threat,” the official said.

Dangerous border crossing

In the past, Ankara has repeatedly denied charges its security forces have fired on civilians trying to cross the frontier.

The Britain-based Observatory, a monitoring group that gets its information from a network of sources on the ground, said at least 60 people – all civilians – have been killed in fire by Turkish border guards since the beginning of the year. It added that Sunday’s death toll was among the highest yet reported.

Turkey is currently hosting around 2.7 million registered refugees from Syria, according to UN figures, and in recent months it has tightened security along its border with the wartorn country.

Supreme Court may take action on state assault weapon bans

June 19, 2016


The U.S. Supreme Court may weigh in this week on gun control, an issue smoldering again following the June 12 Orlando massacre, with the justices due to decide whether to hear a challenge by gun rights advocates to assault weapon bans in two states.

The Connecticut and New York laws prohibit semiautomatic weapons like the one used by the gunman who fatally shot 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The Supreme Court will announce as soon as Monday whether it will hear the challenge brought by gun rights groups and individual firearms owners asserting that the laws violate the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantee of the right to bear arms.

The court has not decided a major gun case since 2010.

If they take up the matter, the justices would hear arguments in their next term, which begins in October. A decision not to hear the challenge would leave in place lower-court rulings upholding the laws.

The court’s action in another recent appeal indicated it may be disinclined to take up the matter. The justices in December opted not to hear a challenge to a Highland Park, Illinois ordinance banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

A national assault weapons ban expired in 2004. Congressional Republicans, backed by the influential National Rifle Association gun rights lobby, beat back efforts to restore it. Some states and municipalities have enacted their own bans.

In their petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, those challenging the Connecticut law said the type of weapons banned by the state are used in self-defense, hunting and recreational shooting.

Connecticut said its law targets firearms disproportionately used in gun crime, “particularly the most heinous forms of gun violence.” It said people in Connecticut still can legally own more than 1,000 types of handguns, rifles and shotguns.There is a longstanding legal debate over the scope of Second Amendment rights.

In the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, the Supreme Court held for the first time that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to bear arms, but the ruling applied only to firearms kept in the home for self-defense. That ruling did not involve a state law, applying only to federal regulations.

Two years later, in the case McDonald v. City of Chicago, the court held that the Heller ruling covered individual gun rights in states.

(Editing by Will Dunham)

Regardless of ‘Brexit’ Vote, Experts Say, E.U. Must Rethink Status Quo

June 18, 2016

by Jim Yardley

New York Times

ROME — Among the well-heeled bureaucrats of the European Union, it is an article of faith that the bloc always emerges stronger from a crisis. The idealistic founders who six decades ago dreamed of stitching warring nations into a peaceful whole knew the path would be bumpy. But always, the union wobbled forward.

Now the dream of an integrated and ever-stronger Europe could sink into the English Channel on Thursday, when British voters decide whether to abandon the bloc. To the pro-Europe establishment, this latest crisis is considered a peculiarly British affair, in which the villains are opportunistic politicians steering voters toward a delusional, self-inflicted mistake.

That may be. But if Britain does leave, the European Union can also blame its own handling of the crises of the past decade — the tribulations of the euro, the debt standoff with Greece and a flawed approach to migration. Each time, the bloc rammed through ugly, short-term fixes that only inflamed the angry nationalism now spreading across the Continent and Britain.

The result was almost a decade of ad hoc crisis management that even many admirers agree has left the European Union badly wounded and its reputation badly damaged. Idealism has given way to disillusionment. The bloc’s elite technocrats are often perceived as out of touch, while European institutions are not fully equipped to address problems like unemployment and economic stagnation. Political solidarity is dissolving into regional divisions of east and west, north and south.

The economic implications of a British exit, the so-called Brexit, are potentially staggering, but many experts agree that regardless of how the British vote, politics across Europe must change. The structure of the euro currency zone is still considered fragile. The bloc’s German-dominated economic policy has meant nearly a decade lost in much of debt-ridden southern Europe, which is still struggling to recover from its economic crisis.

We cannot continue with the status quo,” said Enrico Letta, a former Italian prime minister. “We have to move forward.”

Politics in Europe, as in the United States, have gotten ugly and mean. Far-right, anti-immigration parties are gaining strength in Poland, Hungary, Austria, France and Germany. That same nasty tenor has infused the British campaign with hostility and xenophobia toward immigrants. The killing on Thursday of Jo Cox, a member of Parliament who had campaigned for remaining in the union, shocked all of Britain.

“It is not very easy being English at the moment,” said Simon Tilford, deputy director of the Center for European Reform in London. “Grim stuff.”

Mr. Tilford falls into an interesting camp: He has long been an outspoken critic of the European Union’s handling of its currency woes, yet he strongly supports Britain’s remaining in the bloc. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, he argues, even as he realizes that policy failures by the European Union have helped legitimize the arguments of some who want to leave.

“It has made it easier for them to portray the E.U. as a failure,” he said. “Lots of people have become euroskeptics in Britain because they are so angry at what has happened in the eurozone in recent years.”

During the 1990s, Britain was already a member of the European Union and was considering whether to drop its currency, the pound, and join the zone of countries adopting the bloc’s new currency, the euro. (Today, 19 of the 28 countries in the European Union share the euro.)

But a crisis in the financial markets in 1992 effectively settled the matter as Britain decided not to join other countries changing to the euro.

Those skeptical of using a common currency to drive closer integration in Europe have always argued that joining the euro system would limit policy flexibility, such as the ability to devalue the national currency during economic downturns or use deficit spending to encourage growth. And they said problems would inevitably arise because of the stark economic differences among the countries sharing the currency.

Each proved true. The economic crisis in 2007-2008 plunged the bloc into a cycle of crises from which it still has not recovered. The disparities among eurozone countries were exposed, and to save the currency, northern countries led by Germany bailed out their desperate southern counterparts.

The eurozone became divided between debtors and creditors rather than equal partners.

The German-led solution of austerity economics inflicted heavy punishment on countries like Greece. And Britain, outside the euro, recovered more quickly from the 2008 crisis than did most members of the currency group.

The politics also shifted: Germany, the bloc’s economic powerhouse, steadily accrued more political power inside European Union institutions. Resentment gradually followed, especially in Greece, the weakest and most indebted member of the eurozone.

Populist anger erupted in January 2015 when Greek voters swept aside the country’s political establishment and elected as prime minister a radical leftist, Alexis Tsipras.

Mr. Tsipras promised to end austerity, write down Greek debt and change Europe by leading a clash of ideas against the German-led consensus.

It was political theater, and the Greeks would badly misplay their hand. But what followed was a clash of cultures, not ideas: Union officials refused to budge on Greece’s debt obligations, and after months of negotiation and brinkmanship, Greece nearly collapsed into bankruptcy before acceding to demands from Brussels.

The Greek standoff was a demonstration not just of European Union power politics, but also of the bloc’s penchant for muddling through. The bloc agreed on a new bailout package for Greece that most analysts regard as a stopgap solution. Greece’s debt is now higher than before, and analysts warn that another euro crisis could still occur.

“There is a lot of criticism of the German way of handling the eurozone,” said Daniela Schwarzer, the director of the Europe Program for the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “That bleeds into the perception that the European Union is not functioning properly.”

It is this perceived ineffectiveness of mainstream political parties at the European and national levels that has emboldened populist or anti-establishment parties from the left and the right.

Last year, far-right parties seized on the migration crisis — with its images of hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring through Europe — to provoke public anxiety. Led by Hungary, some countries began erecting fences to block migrants despite the European Union system of open borders.

European leaders struggled to mount a coherent response, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity plummeted after she opened Germany to Syrian refugees. She has since tightened restrictions and championed a controversial deal with Turkey that has sharply reduced the migrant flow into the Continent.

In the British referendum, anti-immigrant forces have sought to drive support for the campaign to leave the union by depicting the Continent as being under invasion from migrants.

A campaign poster unveiled last week by Nigel Farage, the U.K. Independence Party leader, showed a parade of brown-skinned migrants. It was pilloried as blatant xenophobia. But it is little different from the propaganda of far-right politicians in Hungary or Poland.

Should it remain in the bloc, Britain could emerge as a powerful force, with more clout to force the changes that most analysts believe are necessary.

Even among top officials, there is a growing recognition that Europe’s political mainstream has misjudged the public appetite for rapid European integration.

“The specter of a breakup is haunting Europe,” warned Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which comprises the heads of state of the bloc’s members. “We need to understand the necessity of the historical moment.”

It is easy to forget that the European Union is an audacious political experiment to wash away the antagonisms of World War II and build a new Europe. Unity required putting aside the ancient rivalry between France and Germany, and binding together countries with different languages, cultures and economies.

Generations growing up between the 1980s and the 2000s saw how an expanding Europe brought tangible benefits — borderless travel, job and educational mobility within the bloc, rising prosperity. Poorly governed countries came under pressure from Brussels to improve. But as the bloc expanded, decision-making also became more unwieldy. Frictions inevitably arose, and old resentments between member states were never fully scrubbed away. Tensions also increased between European institutions and national governments over sovereignty.

This has meant little political space for the deep reforms — and possible further integration of political powers — that some advocates say are needed in Brussels. Many analysts say that even if Britain remains in the bloc, the likelihood of the union’s undertaking significant political reforms is slim until after the national elections in France and Germany in 2017. Doing something bold in Brussels before then could spur an electoral backlash.

So the European Union will wait to see what Britain does, and then, possibly, wait some more.

“What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?” Pope Francis asked last month during his acceptance speech for the Charlemagne Prize, awarded for service toward European unification.

He added, “What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?”

No more ‘US & UN trickery’: Bankrupt Puerto Ricans flood San Juan demanding decolonization

June 19, 2016


Ahead of next week’s visit by the UN decolonization committee and buried in economic debt, some 500 activists with the Puerto Rico independence movement took to the streets of Old San Juan to demand freedom from US rule.

There were two purposes to the Saturday march, according to Liliana Laboy, one of the members of the Independentista Roundtable, speaking to EFE: “To insist that it’s time to start the decolonization process that will bring us independence, and to support the hearings this Monday.”

The country is a US Commonwealth, meaning it enjoys independence in most issues, but still answers to Washington on matters of foreign relations. The United Nations has been looking at its decolonization since 1962, and has issued a total of 34 resolutions in favor of it.

The UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization is to arrive at the start of the week.

“It’s past time to shed the trickery of the US and the UN General Assembly, when they said that Puerto Rico was decolonized and we were taken off the list of non-autonomous territories,” Laboy said.

The country is also in the throes of an economic crisis with more than $72 billion in debt and a poverty rate of 45 percent. Two weeks ago the House of Representatives said it would take action to address the issue. A bipartisan bill was passed that would appoint a federal oversight committee to steer the US territory out of its fiscal crisis.

It’s up to the Senate now to ratify PROMESA (The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act) ahead of the July 1 due date for its $2 billion debt payment. However, the bill essentially prioritizes the interests of vulture funds and other bondholders.

In May, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla had to opt not to pay back $370 million in debt, opting to default in favor of continuing to provide essential services to some 3.5 million American citizens living there.

Presidential nominee Bernie Sanders has also been very vocal on weaning Puerto Rico away from “Wall Street and the Tea Party,” and has opposed the bill, which would “make a terrible situation even worse.”

“We must stop treating Puerto Rico like a colony and start treating the American citizens of Puerto Rico with the respect and dignity that they deserve,” Sanders said in late May in a letter to Senate Democrats. Sanders said he objects to the proposed board’s power to override the local government’s sovereignty when handling fiscal oversight.

The people of Puerto Rico continue to face stringent austerity measures, the latest being Barack Obama’s and Congress’s idea to greatly cut the minimum wage – something that will be made possible with PROMESA. The US president last week in a radio address urged senators to speed the bill through.

Attending Saturday’s demonstration in Old San Juan was also one of the youngest revolutionaries of the 1950 uprising against the US, Heriberto Marin Torres. He was only 20 at the time.

“We are here today to protest against everything the [US government] empire is doing to us, but above all we are demanding independence for Puerto Rico,” he told EFE.

A Knife in the Dark: Sikh Terrorists in Canada

June 19, 2016

by Harry von Johnson, PhD

Sikh Terrorism

Because of the menace of Sikh terrorism now in Canada and threatening to spread to the United States, there is a strong, and growing presence in Vancouver and several other Canadian Sikh centers. Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have anti-Sikh offices whose purpose it is to infiltrate and destroy these very dangerous cultists.

There is a growing body of evidence indicating that terrorist groups have been operating effectively in Canada by taking advantage of Canada’s liberal immigration and political asylum policies and the porous Canadian-American border.

Terrorist-related activities in Canada include fundraising, lobbying through front organizations, providing support for terrorist operations in Canada or abroad, procuring weapons and materiel, coercing and manipulating immigrant communities in Canada, facilitating transit to and from the U.S. and other countries, and other illegal activities.

According to an August 2002 report of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), “… with the possible exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere in the world. This situation can be attributed to Canada’s proximity to the United States which currently is the principal target of terrorist groups operating internationally; and to the fact that Canada, a country built upon immigration, represents a microcosm of the world. It is therefore not surprising that the world’s extremist elements are represented here, along with peace-loving citizens. Terrorist groups are present here whose origins lie in regional, ethnic and nationalist conflicts, including the Israeli Palestinian one, as well as those in Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, the Punjab, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia.”

According to the CSIS, in recent years, terrorists have moved “from significant support roles, such as fundraising and procurement, to actually planning and preparing terrorist acts from Canadian territory. In order to carry out these efforts, terrorists and their supporters use intimidation and other coercive methods in immigrant communities, and they abuse Canada’s immigration, passport, welfare, and charity regulations.”

The Canadian-American Border and Immigration Policies

The U.S.-Canada border, stretching for over 4,000 miles, is the longest international border in the world.

In December 1999, Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam was caught trying to cross the Canadian-American border at Port Angeles, Washington, with explosives in his car. Ressam belonged to a Montreal-based terrorist cell thought to be linked to both the Algerian terrorist group Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and Al Qaeda. The cell was apparently planning a millennium terror attack at Los Angeles International Airport. In April 2001 Ressam was convicted in Los Angeles of conspiracy to commit terrorism, document fraud and possession of deadly explosives.

The ease with which Ahmed Ressam and his fellow terror cell members entered and left Canada and Ressam’s ability to assemble bomb-making materials in Canada heightened concerns about border security and the apparent ease with which potential terrorists can move freely from one country to the other. According to the CSIS, terrorists from 50 different international terrorist organizations come to Canada posing as refugees. Nearly 300,000 immigrants are admitted each year to Canada, many of whom seek political asylum and safe haven. Canada, however, does not detain refugee seekers upon entry, even those with questionable backgrounds, so thousands of potential terrorists disappear annually into Canada’s ethnic communities. Armed with a fraudulent French passport, for example, Ahmed Ressam had entered Canada in 1994 claiming refugee status.

In America, the debate continues as to the utility of tightening the Canadian-U.S. border. Those arguing for increased border security maintain that such controls will deter terrorists. Others argue that increasing the quality and quantity of checkpoints will ultimately do little to restrict the movements of terrorists but would result in decreased trade between the countries and would disrupt the legitimate flow of people across the border. Canada is America’s largest trading partner, accounting for more than one-fifth of America’s exports and a little less than one-fifth of its imports. On a daily basis, there is $1.9 billion in trade across the shared border.

In December 2001, the U.S. and Canada signed a Joint Statement of Cooperation on Border Security and Regional Migration Issues.The declaration established a joint action plan for deter-ring, detecting and prosecuting security threats while ensuring the free flow of people and goods across the border. In November 2003, the U.S. and Canada announced the creation of two more Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs) to improve security across the border. IBETs are multi-agency teams combining U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, immigration and customs officials, working together daily with local, state and provincial enforcement agencies.They are strategically located along the length of the border to ensure it remains open to trade and travel, but closed to criminal or terrorist elements. With the two new ones, there are now 14 IBETs covering every strategic location across the U.S.- Canada border.

Current Joint  Canadian-U.S. concerns

By penetrating various Sikh organizations in the Vancouver, BC area, joi8nt American/Canadian counter intelligence has learned that at least two, and probably three, Sikh groups have set up three secret camps deep in the heavy woods of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. This extensive wilderness area west of Seattle has very few roads and these are mere trails for logging trucks. This area borders on Puget Sound to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and could easily hide a small army. Counter-intelligence, working both sides of the borders, has yet to positively identify a Sikh camp although radio and cell phone intercepts positively indicate such safe havens. The purpose of such camps is to both hide illegal Sikh immigrants who enter the United States via the harbor at Aberdeen, somewhat south of the Olympic Peninsula. Once there, they can be given false papers, trained in Canadian habits and speech and then brought into Vancouver area, not via the Highway 5 through Blaine but by boat to one of the small harbors that dot the Vancouver area. From there, the smuggled aliens can enter the existing Sikh communities without a problem.

Furthermore, the Olympic Peninsula camps are believed to be hiding places for explosives and automatic weapons which, using basic caution, can easily be tested in the forests without the danger of being heard, or seen. From radio and cell phone traffic, a conservative estimate is that at lest 150 persons could be located on the Peninsula at any given time but interdiction and discovery is made more difficult both by the denseness of the woods and the very easy access to small boats, such as small fishing or pleasure craft that are very much in evidence on Puget Sound.

U.S. authorities, in this case both the CIA and the FBI, are very much concerned that the Sikhs might well start to move into the United States where their instability and fanaticism could equal or surpass Al Quaeda in potential terrorist activity.

A program now under consideration is to move American Special Forces into the suspect wooded areas and engage the Sikhs directly with the purpose of killing them and leaving them to rot in the woods. Other Sikhs coming to the area, would find only corpses instead of living terrorists and it is believed that this might cause very real panic and evacuation of all of the training and holding camps.

Sikh Extremism and the Air India Bombings Trial

In June of 1985, known Sikh militants bombed an Air India flight originating in Vancouver, killing all 329 people aboard, including 154 Canadians. The bombing was the single, deadliest incident of aviation terrorism until September 11th. Canadian authorities know that the bombing was masterminded and perpetrated by Sikh terrorists operating from Canada, some of whom were Canadian citizens. Two Canadian-based Sikhs, Ripudaman Singh Malik, 53, and Ajaib Singh Bagri, 51, have been on trial in Vancouver for involvement in the aircraft bombing and for another suitcase bombing at Narita Airport in Tokyo, that killed two baggage handlers. Another British Columbian Sikh extremist, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was convicted in 1991 of building the Tokyo bomb and pleaded guilty in February 2003 to aiding in the construction of the Air India bomb.

The Canadian government believes the bombings were part of a conspiracy by British Columbia-based Sikh extremists to take revenge against the Indian government for its 1984 storming of the Golden Temple, a Sikh shrine. The Indian government sought to flush out armed Sikh extremists fighting for a separate Sikh homeland. Bagri, a former preacher and supporter of Sikh separatism, was second in command in the Babbar Khalsa, a terrorist group dedicated to the creation of a separate Sikh homeland called Khalistan. Babbar Khalsa raised funds in Canada until its charitable status was revoked in the mid 1990s. The Canadian government added Babbar Khalsa to its list of banned terrorist organizations in June 2003.

Canadian Anti-Terror Initiatives

In December 2001, the Canadian Parliament passed the Anti-Terrorism Act, which made perpetrating, financing, or contributing to terrorist activity in Canada a crime. It is now a crime to knowingly support terrorist organizations through overt violence, documentary support, shelter or funds. The legislation requires the publication of a list of terrorist groups deemed to constitute a threat to the security of Canada and Canadians. The act also increased the government’s investigative powers and paved the way for the country to sign the last two of the United Nations’ 12 antiterrorism conventions.

Some Sikh extremists have been separatists pursuing the formation of a Sikh state, often referred to as Khalistan. Some extremists took part in the Indian independence movement. Some extremists took part in sectarian or other religious violence. Religious terrorism has been used in the Khalistan movement. It has been suggested that addressing extremism requires both political and religious action.

Sikh extremist  activity in the independence movement seems to have started in the late mid-19th century, with agitation against British rule, by the extremist Sikh sect of Kuka (Namdhari).

In the early 20th century, other Sikhs who employed extremist tactics emerged whose goals were Indian independence and the British leaving India. Such extremists included Kartar Singh Sarabha (Ghadar conspiracy), Bhagat Singh, Ajmere Singh and Udham Singh.

Ajit Singh, Kishan Singh were Kartar Singh Sarabha’s co-conspirators, and were also alleged by the British to be Extremists . Sikhs participated in Indian independence movement with such a zeal that Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya advised Hindus to raise at least one of their family members as Sikh. Sikhs also raised several rebel units in Japan, Italy and Germany. Sikhs also engineered the Marine Revolt in Bombay and the Signal Regimental mutiny in Jubblepur, India.

History of Sikh separatism

Sikh separatism began in colonial times, or soon after India gained independence in 1947.[20] By the 1970s, some felt the government of India had not responded adequately to Sikh grievances.

A demand for a separate Sikh homeland was made by Jagjit Singh Chauhan, who at the time was Secretary General of the Akali Dal party. In 1971, Jagjit Singh was expelled from the party for his “anti-nationalistic” activities. He later returned to India, denouncing terrorism and pursuing Khalistan through democratic means

In October, 1991, The New York Times reported that “many”Sikhs claimed they were being discriminated against, and that the Punjab region was not treated equally with other regions of India. “By February 1997, a UN report appears to have found that Sikhs had religious freedom, but that there were reportsof discriminatory practices in public administration

Amnesty International reported that, from 1983 to 1994, armed groups struggling to form an independent Sikh state were responsible for “widespread” human rights violations, killing “thousands” of civilians and taking hostages. It further reported that the police responded with a “crackdown”, illegally detaining, torturing and killing “hundreds of young men”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that from the 1980s Sikh separatists were guilty of serious human rights violations through “…massacre of civilians, attacks upon Hindu minorities in the state, and indiscriminate bomb attacks in crowded places…”. HRW also reported that the government response resulted in further serious human rights violations against “tens of thousands”. HRW noted that one case currently under investigation by India’s National Human Rights Commission focused on allegations that “thousands” had been killed and cremated by security forces throughout Punjab

Sikh terorist events

Udham Singh, of Sikh background, was described variously as a freedom fighter, an “extremist revolutionary”,and a terrorist. While Udham Singh was living in the UK, he shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer in London on 1 April 1940. O’Dwyer had been the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab at the time of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Udham Singh was hanged in UK on 25 June 1940, and his ashes were returned to India in 1974.

Bhagat Singh, a Sikh by religion, was active in the Indian independence struggle. He was called an extremist by Mahatama Gandhi. He murdered a Lahore Police officer and his mercy plea was rejected by British Viceroy of India Lord Irwin

Immediately after Operation Blue Star, authorities were unprepared for how quickly extremism spread and gained support in Canada, with extremists “…threatening to kill thousand of Hindus by a number of means, including blowing up Air India flights.”

The 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 off Ireland, the deadliest aircraft terror attack until the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the attempted bombing of Air India Flight 301, were alleged by the Canadian government to have been carried out by Sikh extremists. However, Inderjit Singh Reyat, of the ISYF, who was found guilty of manslaughter for making the bombs, is the only individual convicted in these attacks as of 2 May 2010.

Canadian Member of Parliament Ujjal Dosanjh, a moderate Sikh, stated that he and others who spoke out against Sikh extremism in the 1980s faced a “reign of terror”.

Indian counter intelligence agencies reported that, in the early 1990s, journalists who did not conform to militant-approved behavior were targeted for death. It also reports that there were indiscriminate attacks designed to cause extensive civilian casualties: derailing trains, exploding bombs in markets, restaurants, and other civilian areas between Delhi and Punjab. It further reported that militants assassinated many of those moderate Sikh leaders who opposed them and sometimes killed rivals within the militant group. It also stated that many civilians who had been kidnapped by extremists were murdered if the militants’ demands were not met. Finally, it reports that Hindus left Punjab by the thousands.

In August 1991, Julio Ribeiro, then Indian Ambassador to Romania was attacked and wounded in a Bucharest assassination attempt by gunmenidentified as Punjabi Sikhs.

Sikh groups claimed responsibility for the 1991 kidnapping of the Romanian chargé d’affaires in New Delhi, Liviu Radu. This appeared to be retaliation for Romanian arrests of KLF members suspected of the attempted assassination of Julio Ribeiro, then 62, the Indian ambassador to Romania, in Bucharest. Radu was released unharmed after Sikh politicians criticized the action.

  • In October, 1991, The New York Times reported that violence had increased sharply in the months leading up to the kidnapping, with Indian security forces or Sikh militants killing 20 or more people per day, and that the militants had been “gunning down” family members of police officers.
  • On January 24, 1995, Tarsem Singh Purewal, editor of Britain’s Punjabi-language weekly “Des Pardes”, was killed as he was closing his office in Southall. There is speculation that the murder was related to Sikh extremism, which Purewal may have been investigating. Another theory is that he was killed in retaliation for revealing the identity of a young rape victim.
  • On August 31,1995, Chief minister Beant Singh was killed by a suicide bomber. Babbar Khalsa claimed responsibility for the assassination, but “security authorities” were reported to be doubtful of the truth of that claim. A 2006 press release by the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi indicated that the responsible organization was the Khalistan Commando Force.
  • On November 18, 1998, Journalist Tara Singh Hayer, was gunned down. The publisher of the “Indo-Canadian Times,” a Canadian Sikh and once-vocal advocate of the armed struggle for Khalistan, he had criticized the bombing of Air India flight 182, and was to testify about a conversation he overheard concerning the bombing. Because of his murder, his 15 October 1998, statement to police was not admissible at the trial of Ajaib Singh Bagri.

In 2004, violence erupted at a protest against a play, “Behzti” (Dishonour), that was to have been performed at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The protest organizer, Sewa Singh Mandla, chairman of the Birmingham council of Sikh Gurdwaras, blamed the violence on extremist members of The Sikh Federation. Amrik Singh Gill, chairman of the Federation, said his members had taken part in the opposition to the play from the start, and denied that its members played any part in the violence. Another member of the Sikh Federation, Kulwinder Singh Johal, expressed happiness that the play had been canceled, confirmed that Sikh Federation members had taken part in the protest against the play, and denied that there had been any violence on the part of the protesters. The Sunday Herald reported that when it appeared the play might be presented despite the protest, death threats increased, and the playwright went into hiding. The play was canceled.

In 2006, a Brooklyn, New York, jury convicted Khalid Awan of providing money and financial services to the Khalistan Commando Force, a terrorist organization responsible for thousands of deaths in India since its founding in 1986. The investigation began in 2003, when Awan, jailed at the time for credit card fraud, bragged of his relationship with Paramjeet Singh Panjwar, leader of the KCF.

The Indian Express reported in its online edition on 19 June 2006 that “Police claimed” that the KZF was behind bomb blasts in Jalandhar, India, at the Inter-State Bus Terminus that left three people killed and injured 12. A police spokesman said the attack was planned by a pair of KZF leaders, one based in Pakistan and one in Canada, and executed by a “local criminal”.

Terry Milewski reported in a 2006 documentary for the CBC [67] that a minority within Canada’s Sikh community was gaining political influence even while publicly supporting terrorist acts in the struggle for an independent Sikh state. In response, the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO), a Canadian Sikh human rights group that opposes violence and extremismsued the CBC for “defamation, slander and libel”, alleging that Milewski linked it to terrorism and damaged the reputation of the WSO within the Sikh community.

Canadian journalist Kim Bolan has written extensively on Sikh extremism. Speaking at the Fraser Institute in 2007, she reported that she still received death threats over her coverage of the 1985 Air India bombing.

In February 2008, BBC Radio 4 reported that the Chief of the Punjab Police, NPS Aulakh, alleged that militant groups were receiving money from the British Sikh community. [75] The same report included statements that although the Sikh militant groups were poorly equipped and staffed, intelligence reports and interrogations indicated that Babbar Khalsa was sending its recruits to the same terrorist training camps in Pakistan used by Al Qaeda.

A June 2008 article by Vicky Nanjappa, writing for Rediff.com, stated that a report by India’s Intelligence Bureau indicated that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization was “desperately trying to revive Sikh” militant activity in India.

In 2008, a CBC report stated that “a disturbing brand of extremist politics has surfaced” at some of the Vaisakhi parades in Canada, and The Trumpet agreed with the CBC assessment. Two leading Canadian Sikh politicians refused to attend the parade in Surrey, saying it was a glorification of terrorism.

In 2008, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, expressed his concern that there might be a resurgence of Sikh extremism.

On May 24, 2009, armed Sikh men attacked the Gurdwara Nanaksar, the Ravidas temple in Rudolfsheim Vienna. They left 16 injured, including visiting Dera Sach Khand head Nirajnan Das, 68, and another leader, Rama Nand, 57, dead. The attack triggered protests and rioting across northern India resulting in at least one death. There were claims and denials of responsibility in the name of the Khalistan Zindabad Force, and suspicions that the attack might have been made by members of a rival sect.

On September 24, 2009, United News of India, published that police arrested two Babbar Khalsa “militants” earlier in the day. The article described the arrests as a “major breakthrough in the assassination case of Rulda Singh, president of the Punjab Rashtriya Sikh Sangat who was shot at and seriously injured by two unidentified persons at his residence near New Grain market on 29 July.”

On September 29, 2009, Rajinder Soomel was murdered on Cambie Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. The murder renewed fears of gang violence. Soomel had been released on parole shortly before his murder. In March, 2008, Soomel had been sentenced to 4 years in prison after confessing he had tried to hire an undercover police officer to kill Hardip Uppal. Uppal had identified Ravinder Soomel, younger brother of the victim, as one of two  assassins who killed Tara Singh Hayer in 1998.

Militant Organizations

Sikh involvement in militant organisations have existed Pre-1947 (before Indian Independence), and after 1947. The goal of some pre-1947 organisations being to gain Indian Independence from the British

Ghadar Party

A militant extremist organisationset up overseas to drive the British out of India. Its members were mostly from the Sikh community and were dubbed “Sikh extremists”.by the British authorities at that time.

Indian National Army

The Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Armywas formed by Mohan Singh Deb (who was described as an extremist) to free India from British rule, and fought in Southeast Asia, with support from Japan, during WWII.A part of this movement, led by Chandra Bose, formed a special unit in the German Wehrmacht and fought in combat with them.

A 2007 Australian research reportcited difficulties in researching both violent and non-violent activities of the various (perhaps 22, in 1987) Sikh separatist groups. Names of groups are used interchangeably in reports, intentionally or through error. Bias and sensationalism in government and media reports reduce their reliability. The illegal nature of the organizations also presents challenges. Institute for Conflict Management, on its South Asia Terrorism Portal, alleged that Pakistan’s ISI was making “serious attempts” to reinvigorate terrorism in India, and that “terror groups” were working together to accomplish that goal.

Babbar Khalsa

Babbar Khalsa has been listed as a terrorist organization in the European Union, Canada, India, UK, and the United States. A Canadian Sikh, Ajaib Singh Bagri, co-founder of Babbar Khalsa, said in a 1984 speech, after Hindus had murdered thousands of Sikhs in Delhi that “Until we kill 50,000 Hindus, we will not rest.”

The United States has designated the Babbar Khalsa responsible for the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on 27 June 2002. Canadian courts have further established that Talwinder Singh Parmar, a founder of Babbar Khalsa, was the mastermind of the Air India bombings. Milewski further reported that some parade floats portray Parmar as a “shaheed” (martyr).

Babbar Khalsa was listed in 1995 one of the 4 “major militant groups” in the Khalistan movement

International Sikh Youth Federation

Lord Bassam of Brighton, then Home Office minister, stated that ISYF members working from the UK had committed “assassinations, bombings and kidnappings” and were a “threat to national security.” The ISYF is listed in the UK as a “Proscribed Terrorist Group”.It was also added to the US Treasury Department terrorism list on 27 June 2002. There are allegations that the ISYF has long been supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization.

Andrew Gilligan, reporting for The London Evening Standard, stated that the Sikh Federation (UK) is the “successor” of the ISYF, and that its executive committee, objectives, and senior members… are largely the same. The Vancouver Sun reported in February 2008 that Dabinderjit Singh was campaigning to have both the Babbar Khalsa and International Sikh Youth Federation de-listed as terrorist organizations.

It also stated of Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day that “he has not been approached by anyone lobbying to delist the banned groups”. Day is also quoted as saying “The decision to list organizations such as Babbar Khalsa, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation as terrorist entities under the Criminal Code is intended to protect Canada and Canadians from terrorism”

Numbers and Demographics

Worldwide, there are 25.8 million Sikhs and approximately 75% of Sikhs live in the Indian state of Punjab, where they constitute about 60% of the state’s population. Even though there are a large number of Sikhs in the world, certain countries have not recognised Sikhism as a major religion. Large communities of Sikhs live in the neighboring states, and large communities of Sikhs can be found across India. However, Sikhs only make up about 2% of the Indian population.

Sikh Migration beginning from the 19th century led to the creation of significant communities in Canada (predominantly in Brampton, along with Malton in Ontario and Abbotsford, Mission, Lower Mainland, Surrey in British Columbia), East Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom as well as Australia and New Zealand. These communities developed as Sikhs migrated out of Punjab to fill in gaps in imperial labour markets. In the early twentieth century a significant community began to take shape on the west coast of the United States. Smaller populations of Sikhs are found in within many countries in Western Europe, Mauritius, Malaysia, Fiji, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Afganistan, Iraq, Singapore, Mexico and many other countries.

Numbers of Sikhs

The precise number of followers of any religion is difficult to estimate. Some sources, like telephone surveys and government censuses count adults who identify themselves as from a specific faith. Predictions by religious organizations are generally higher because they might count individuals as members who do not consider themselves of that faith.

Various sources estimate that Sikhism has about 23 or 24 million followers, making it the fifth largest organized religion in the world. It is surpassed in numbers only by Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. If one defines the term “religion” very inclusively, it is the ninth largest religion in the world, being fewer in numbers than secularists, and followers of Chinese traditional religion, African traditional religions and aboriginal faiths

The Real Sikhism web site estimates that about 21 million (89%) Sikhs live in the Punjab, India. About 400,000 (2%) live in North America, and 360,000 (2%) are in the UK. (2004 data)

The Sikh population of Canada increased from about 147,000 in 1991 to 278,000 in 2001, according to the Canadian census. 3 Independent estimates between 1995 and 2005 range from 160,000, by the 1997 Britannica Book of the Year, to 300,000 by Christian Century magazine.

Data on the number of Sikhs in the U.S. is highly variable:

The ARIS study of 2001 derives its data from random phone calls to over 50,000 American households.  They count how many American adults identify themselves with each religion. They estimated that only 57,000 U.S. adults consider themselves as Sikhs.

The 1996 Britannica Book of the Year estimates that there are 240,000 Sikhs in the U.S.; the 1997 edition estimates 190,000.

In 1999, the New York Times estimated a population of 175,000; the Salt Lake Tribune estimated 500,000.

Thousands protest U.S. bases on Okinawa after Japan woman’s murder

June 19, 2016

by Tim Kelly


Naha, Japan-Tens of thousands of people gathered in sweltering heat on Japan’s Okinawa island on Sunday in one of the biggest demonstrations in two decades against U.S. military bases, following the arrest of an American suspected of murdering a local woman.

The protest marked a new low for the United States and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in their relations with the island and threatens plans to move the U.S. Marines Futenma air station to a less populous part of the island.

Organizers said 65,000 people attended the rally at a park in central Naha.

“Japan is part of Japan and when you hurt your little finger the whole body feels pain. I want Abe to feel Okinawa’s pain,” said Shigenori Tsuhako, 70, who came to the event because his grand daughter is the same age as the 20-year-old murdered woman, Rina Shimabukuro.

The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to close Futenma, located in a residential area, after the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl by three U.S. military personnel spurred mass demonstrations.

That plan has been on hold because residents near the proposed relocation site oppose the move, worrying about noise, pollution and crime.

Okinawa assembly members against the move won a majority in the prefectural assembly election this month, providing support for Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s plan to have the base move elsewhere.

Speaking to the crowd in Naha, he said he would fight to have those U.S. Marines moved off the island.

Okinawa hosts 50,000 U.S. nationals, including 30,000 military personnel and civilian contractors.

The site of some of the bloodiest fighting between the U.S. and Japan in World War Two, Okinawa remained under American occupation until 1972 and around a fifth of it is still under U.S. military control.

Lieutenant General Lawrence D. Nicholson, commander of the U.S. Marines there, told Reuters on Saturday that Washington may be able to return a 10,000 acre (40.5 square km) tract of jungle early next year, which would be the biggest hand back since 1972.

Yet, with the United States and Japan looking to contain China’s growing might in the East China Sea, the Okinawan island chain, stretching close to Taiwan, is becoming strategically more valuable to military planners.

Japan’s Self Defence Force, which is pivoting away from defending its northern borders, is fortifying the region with radar bases and anti-ship missile batteries.

Last month’s arrest of the U.S. civilian worker prompted the U.S. military to announce a 30-day period of mourning for the victim and restrict off-base drinking in a bid to assuage local anger.

But relations frayed further with the subsequent arrest of a U.S. sailor on Okinawa on suspicion of drunk driving following a car crash.

“All U.S. bases in Japan should close. I want Abe to listen to what the people in Okinawa are saying,” said Ryoko Shimabukuro, a 28-year-old government worker at the protest.

(Additional reporting by Teppei Kasai; Editing by Linda Sieg and Kim Coghill)

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