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TBR News June 19, 2018

Jun 19 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. June 19, 2018: “A White House staffer, fed up with hearing President Trump use the word ‘nigger’ when referring to black Americans, dug up an old American political song and saw to it that a copy was left where the President would find it. He informs us that there was much loud laughter and the President said, hopefully in jest, that it would make a wonderful new national anthem. Here is the actual text:

“Nigger Doodle Dandy”

Yankee Doodle is no more,

Sunk his name and station;

Nigger Doodle takes his place,

And favors amalgamation.

CHORUS:

Nigger Doodle’s all the go,

Ebony shins and bandy

“Loyal” people all must bow

To Nigger Doodle dandy.

The white breed is under par

It takes the rich a-romy,

Give us something black as tar,

Give us “Old Dahomey.”

CHORUS:

Blubber lips are killing sweet,

And kinky heads are splendid;

And oh, it makes such bully feet

To have the heels extended.

CHORUS:

 

Given the obvious detestation by Trump of Mexicans (and other Central Americans) his enjoyment of this nasty bit of work is understandable. Perhaps he will order the SS- types in the DHS to sell the caged migrant children to Saudi pedophiles, of course to Make American Great Again! and some money for him on the side.”

The Table of Contents

  • Trump, U.S. Republicans to meet amid furor over immigrant children
  • Trump administration scrambles as outrage grows over border separations
  • Britain stops short of criticizing U.S. immigration policy
  • Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential Threat
  • Jeff Sessions got the Bible wrong. We care for strangers, not rob their rights
  • Donald Trump ratchets up China trade dispute with new tariffs
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres: Gaza ‘on brink of war’
  • Will we stop speaking and just text?
  • Bitcoin can cause massive internet shutdown – report
  • Nazis and the CIA

 Trump, U.S. Republicans to meet amid furor over immigrant children

June 19, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump, facing a blast of criticism for the detention of children separated from their immigrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, was slated to meet with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday ahead of votes on immigration legislation

The family separations, documented by online videos of youngsters detained in cages, put Trump back at the center of a furor over immigration, an issue he inflamed as a presidential candidate and that he has carried into his administration.

He will travel to Capitol Hill as Democrats hurl charges of “barbaric” treatment of children and his fellow Republicans move tentatively toward legislation that would curb, if not entirely halt, the practice of separating families.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy provides for the arrest of all adults caught trying to enter the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum.

While parents are held in jail, their children are sent to separate detention facilities, some in remote locations.

Trump and administration officials have said the policy, which was not practiced by the two previous presidents, is needed to secure the border and deter illegal immigration.

But Democrats and some Republicans have criticized the administration for dividing nearly 2,000 children from their parents between mid-April and the end of May.

Online videos showed immigrant children being held in concrete-floored cages at detention centers.

An audio recording said to capture the sounds of immigrant children crying in a detention facility was circulating online. Reuters could not independently verify its authenticity.

A grand bargain in Congress to finally resolve deep divisions over immigration law appeared unlikely, with Trump focused on winning funding for a wall he has long wanted to build along America’s southern border with Mexico.

Trump and House Republicans, in an evening meeting, were expected to discuss two bills scheduled for votes on Thursday. Both were drafted with no input from Democrats. Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House.

One bill would limit, but not fully prohibit family separations, fund Trump’s wall and give legal protections to young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the country illegally as children. Details were still in flux.

The bill faces strong headwinds as it is opposed by Democrats, who object to another provision that would cut legal immigration levels, and conservative Republicans who are backing a rival bill that takes a harder line on immigration.

In the Senate, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who ran unsuccessfully against Trump in 2016 for their party’s presidential nomination, said he would introduce legislation this week to halt family separations.

Cruz said his bill would build temporary shelters where immigrant families could stay together in cases where there was no threat to the children’s safety, double the number of federal immigration judges and speed handling of asylum applications.

Border crossings briefly dropped after Trump took office in January 2017, but have since risen to levels seen during the administration of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. Almost 52,000 people were caught trying to cross the southern border illegally in May, according to government figures.

Reporting by Amanda Becker, Susan Cornwell, Makini Brice and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

Trump administration scrambles as outrage grows over border separations

Homeland security secretary claims administration is simply enforcing the law as photos and audio of children fuel anger

June 18, 2018

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

The Trump administration struggled on Monday to defend its policy of separating parents from their sons and daughters at the southern US border amid growing national outrage and the release of a shocking recording of sobbing children.

As the White House scrambled to respond to the deepening political crisis, the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, flew from New Orleans to Washington to face a barrage of questions from reporters, even as Democrats demanded her resignation and the outcry reached a critical mass.

Nielsen claimed that America was a country of “compassion” and “heart” but was unable to square the circle regarding whether the separations were a vindication of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal immigration or an unintended consequence of a law made by the US Congress.

During the West Wing briefing, she did not hear – or ignored – a reporter at the back of the room who played secretly recorded audio, first obtained by ProPublica, in which several Central American children, separated from their parents last week, can be heard crying for their “Mami!” and “Papa!”

On the recording, one child says: “I don’t want them to stop my father, I don’t want them to deport him.” A border agent can be heard joking through the wails: “Well, we have an orchestra here, right? … What we’re missing is a conductor.”

Nielsen – who Trump has reportedly criticised in private for failing to tackle border security – told reporters she had not heard the recording.

Trump has found himself at the centre of many moral storms since becoming president nearly 18 months ago but they have more often related to words than to actions. The border separations, however, appear to have crossed a new line as the audio recording emerges, as well as harrowing photos of children in tears or in fenced cages, provoking some to draw comparisons with concentration camps.

The process has triggered condemnation from four former first ladies: Rosalynn Carter, Laura Bush (who called it “cruel” and “immoral”), Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2016 election to Trump. Even the current first lady, Melania Trump, has released a statement saying she “hates to see” children separated from their families.

The separations followed the April announcement of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, under which everyone caught crossing the border illegally is to be prosecuted. Consequently, more adults are being jailed, pending trial, and their children are removed from them. Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families in the past six weeks.

On Monday, at a White House press briefing that started four hours later than planned, Nielsen argued that illegal immigration on the southern border had exceeded 50,000 people per month for the past three months. Since this time last year, she added, there had been a 325% increase in unaccompanied foreign children and a 435% increase in family units entering the country illegally.

She denied that any children had been mistreated and argued: “This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border … Parents who entered illegally are by definition criminals … By entering our country illegally often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants have put their children at risk.”

The homeland security department, she continued, was merely enforcing the law in a way that past administrations had failed to do. “Here is the bottom line: DHS is no longer ignoring the law. We are enforcing the laws as they exist on the books.”

Nielsen called on Congress to close loopholes in the law so families could stay together. “Congress and the courts created this problem and Congress alone can fix it. Until then, we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States.”

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff and Nielsen’s predecessor at homeland security, told National Public Radio in May that deterrence was “a big part” of the policy. Asked if the situation was therefore playing out as intended, Nielsen replied: “I find that offensive.”

Nielsen was followed at the podium by the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, who said the White House would reject a narrow fix by Congress to address the issue and that Trump’s priorities, such as funding a border wall and tightening immigration laws, must also be met. She said: “We want to fix the whole thing, we don’t want to tinker with just part of it.”

As the issue overwhelmed TV news networks and threatened to cause lasting damage to America’s reputation abroad, Trump himself weighed in at an event ostensibly promoting his National Space Council. He repeated his past attempt to deflect blame to the Democrats, whom he branded “obstructionists”, and urged them to find a legislative solution.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” the president said. “It won’t be. If you look at what’s happening in Europe, if you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States – not on my watch.”

But Democrats rejected that assertion. Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, responded to Nielsen’s remarks by saying: “This utter lack of compassion and respect for basic human dignity is grotesque. And the blind contempt his staff has shown toward anyone pointing out the truth is a vile disgrace. This is not who we are. The American people are watching.”

The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and senators Kamala Harris of California and Tina Smith of Minnesota called on Nielsen to resign. Smith said: “She’s denied that this is happening at all, and then said that she ‘wouldn’t apologize’ for what’s happening to families. Kirstjen Nielsen has lost the credibility and the moral authority to lead this agency.”

Immigration is usually a rallying point for the Trump base but even some of his supporters have raised objections to the current action. The Rev Franklin Graham, a longtime Trump ally, said: “It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit.”

Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s former communications director, told CNN: “I hope he changes it today, frankly. This is very, very bad for the Republican party, and this is bad for the president. I want to see him win re-election.”

Britain stops short of criticizing U.S. immigration policy

June 19, 2018

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain responded to an outcry over the U.S. separation of immigrant parents and children by saying on Tuesday it was happy with its own rules not to separate families and that child welfare was a top priority.

On Monday, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump – who visits Britain next month, defended its hardline immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border as furore grew over the separation of immigrant parents and children, spurred by video of youngsters sitting in concrete-floored cages.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said of the cages: “What I would point you to is the UK’s own immigration policy. It does not apply these measures and we do not intend to do so.

“The welfare and safeguarding of children is at the heart of our immigration policy: we do not separate child asylum seekers or refugees from their families.”

Earlier a French government spokesman said the images from the U.S. were shocking, and that France did not share “the same model of civilization” as the United States.

But May’s spokesman stopped short of directly criticizing the U.S. administration ahead of Trump’s visit, nor would he confirm that May would raise the issue during the trip.

Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison

 

Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential Threat

June 18, 2018

by Robert Mackey

The Intercept

The president of the United States told a blatant lie about Germany on Monday, claiming that the nation’s crime rate — which is at its lowest level in 25 years — has gone “way up” since Europe granted asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq.

The lie, posted on Twitter by Donald Trump, was an attempt to justify the exceedingly cruel measures he ordered to deter unauthorized immigration, including the arrest of asylum-seekers at the southern border and the removal of their children for detention in cages.

It was widely debunked and criticized by Germans, like the political scientist Marcel Dirsus.

As Mathieu von Rohr of the German magazine Der Spiegel pointed out, Trump’s false claim about crime in Germany — which is down 5.1 percent overall since last year and 2.4 percent for violent offenses — also misled readers about the continued popularity of Chancellor Angela Merkel, even as she resists calls for a crackdown on asylum-seekers from allied conservatives in the state of Bavaria.

Jeremy Cliffe, the Berlin bureau chief of The Economist, noted that Trump’s grasp of the politics of immigration in Germany is also shaky. While it is certainly true that Merkel’s party has lost some support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, the far-right party is still supported by just 16 percent of the voters in recent polling, and its leader, Alexander Gauland, trails Merkel 50-12 in overall approval.

Undeterred by the facts, Trump followed his false claim with a second tweet, in which he revealed that the lie about Germany was part of a broader effort to cast immigration, at least by nonwhites, as an existential threat to both Europe and the United States.

While it was not clear what, exactly, Trump thinks is happening in Europe — where there has been a sharp decline in migration from the Middle East and Africa since 2015 — he repeated the comment in prepared remarks at the White House later on Monday. “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he said. “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places,” Trump added. “We can’t allow that to happen to the United States.”

What is particularly striking is that Trump, like Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right interior minister who recently shut his nation’s ports to migrants saved from drowning, is not responding to a real crisis but attempting to manufacture a sense of siege for political advantage at a moment when the number of undocumented immigrants seeking admission has actually declined.

The undocumented population in the U.S. was already declining in 2015 when Trump launched his campaign by railing against an imaginary epidemic of crime caused by Mexicans, and has continued to fall since he became president.

In Europe, the United Nations reports that fewer than 40,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to seek refuge in the first half of this year — just 15,000 of them in Italy — compared to more than 1 million arrivals by sea in 2015.

In Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban focused his entire election campaign on the supposed threat posed to European civilization by Muslim migrants, the police detained just 10,415 people for entering the country without permission last year, and only 1,300 were granted asylum.

As he has in the past, Trump seems to be implying that harsh measures — like those taken recently by his administration and by far-right leaders in Italy and Hungary — were necessary to defend both the physical security of Europe and America, as well as to preserve their white, Christian majorities.

That underlying racist theme was, of course, the very loudly spoken subtext of Trump’s first speech as a candidate for the presidency, when he attacked Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. It was there too, in his nearly obsessive criticism of Merkel during his campaign, when his speeches were punctuated — again and again and again — by false claims about a nonexistent crime wave destroying Germany, where his grandparents were born.

Just two weeks before Merkel responded to the migrant crisis of 2015 by opening Germany’s borders to refugees, Trump told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business that the German chancellor was “a fantastic leader — I was with somebody the other day who thinks she’s the greatest leader in the world today, she’s the smartest and the greatest leader in the world today.”

Two months later, Trump told a crowd in Knoxville, Tennessee, that he no longer admired Merkel. “I think what she did to Germany is a disgrace,” he said. He went on to say that giving shelter to Syrians would “destroy all of Europe” and falsely claimed that “they’re having riots in the streets; they’re having crime that they’ve never had before.”

“We talk about immigration, we talk about borders. Do you see what she’s done to Germany?” Trump asked a crowd in New Hampshire two months later, after Merkel was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year instead of him. “The crime is astronomical. It’s not working. They’re having riots now in the street, and the German people are now saying, ‘We’ve had it; we’ve had it.’ We can’t let that happen to us.”

“Germany is a behemoth, an economic behemoth. It’s being destroyed by what Merkel has done there, what she has done to Germany,” Trump told supporters in South Carolina in February 2016. “I have friends from Germany, they’re leaving Germany,” he continued. “These are people who were so proud, a year ago, of being in Germany — German people. They were so proud, they used to brag. I said, ‘Are you still proud?’ Not so proud.”

The culmination of Trump’s attacks on the German leader for her openness to refugees from the Middle East and Africa was a line he trotted out in Ohio in August 2016. “Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel,” Trump read from a teleprompter, before pausing to allow for boos. “And you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany,” he continued. “Crime has risen to levels that no one thought they would ever, ever see. It is a catastrophe.”

Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 5:00 a.m. EDT This column was revised to add statistics about the declining number of undocumented immigrants arriving in Europe and the United States in 2018.

 

Jeff Sessions got the Bible wrong. We care for strangers, not rob their rights

When the attorney general used scripture to justify closing our borders, he operated from a playbook that dates back to slave master religion

June 19, 2018

by Reverend William Barber and Dr Liz Theoharis

The Guardian

Last week, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, used scripture to justify closing America’s borders to those in need of refuge and tearing children away from their families.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said.

His remarks smack of theological heresy.

First of all, he’s misinterpreting the text. Paul was arrested by the government because Christians challenged the government. That’s one of the reasons Paul ends up getting killed. The rest of the text talks about how government should be used for good.

What’s more, the Bible is clear from the Old Testament to the New Testament that one of God’s primary concerns is we care for the stranger, that we do not rob children of their rights and mothers of their children, that we make sure the stranger is treated like a brother or sister. Nowhere does Jesus or the prophets say we should be taking children from their families.

Sessions is operating from the same playbook of biblical heresy that was used to support the genocide of Native Americans, lock black people in chattel slavery and segregate people under Jim Crow. He’s using old tricks that go all the way back to slave master religion.

He’s adding to this the sin of making children the prey – something the Bible clearly recognizes as evil.

And let’s not ignore the role race plays in this all. The separation of children from their parents goes back to slavery. The white supremacist Richard Spencer has said immigration is a proxy war and may be a last stand for white Americans who are undergoing the painful recognition that unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country where they’re minorities.

We also can’t lose sight of the fact that while tearing children from their families is evil, Sessions has been against every form of immigration reform, even bipartisan proposals. Yes, the children part is evil. But Sessions has also backed voter suppression measures, attacks on the poor and giving welfare to corporations. All of that is wrong. As is written in Isaiah: 10: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed.”

We need a comprehensive response. That’s why the Poor People’s Campaign is fighting against the false Christian nationalism that is contrary to the gospel on almost every policy coming out of this administration. When you map out the states and regions that have the highest poverty rates and child poverty rates, lowest wages, most people denied health care, worst environmental protections, worst immigrant and LGBTQ protections, highest rates of voter suppression, these states also boast the highest number of people who profess to be Protestant evangelicals.

This battle over the Bible recalls the battle that took place in the Abolitionist movement. Slaveholders produced a Bible that did not include the Exodus, the prophets or the teachings of Jesus where he comes to release the slaves and preach good news to the poor. Abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and preachers and religious leaders like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison referenced Leviticus and the jubilee, took up a resistance religion of the slaves, and would not concede the Bible and theology to extremists and bigots who defile the deepest values of love, mercy and justice.

As leaders of faith and co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign we believe that for too long the accepted moral narrative in America has blamed poor people for their poverty, divided people against each other, separated systemic racism from poverty and ecology and the war economy, and spread the lie of scarcity: the idea that there is not enough to go around. We believe every policy decision is a moral decision, especially when it deals with poor people, children and health care, living wages. We must have moral dissent and people willing to challenge the status quo.

Dr. Martin Luther King, who helped lead the first Poor People’s Campaign 50 years ago, said we have a responsibility to challenge any law that’s against God’s law and the laws of justice. And so, instead of following Sessions’ interpretation of the scripture, we choose to follow Jeremiah 22:3: “This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood.”

The Reverends Dr William Barber II and Dr Liz Theoharis are co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

 

Donald Trump ratchets up China trade dispute with new tariffs

US President Donald Trump has threatened new tariffs on Chinese imports, raising fears of an escalating trade war. Trump threatened further sanctions, should China – which accuses the US of “blackmail” – retaliate.

June 19, 2018

DW

The US president said he had asked officials to target $200 billion (€172 billion) worth of imports — and threatened to increase taxes on Chinese exports to the US even further should he meet resistance from Beijing.

The proposed measures caused upset on global stock markets on Tuesday, initially weakening both the US dollar and the Chinese yuan.

The Hong Kong bourse fell 3.1 percent, while Shanghai was down 3.8 percent, its lowest level since mid-2016. Tokyo was 1.8 percent lower while Seoul was down 1.5 percent. In early European trade London fell 0.8 percent, Paris 1.3 percent and Frankfurt was 1.5 percent down.

Trump cited China’s imposition of charges on US goods — which came in response to Washington’s opening salvo in a mounting trade dispute — as “unacceptable.”

“This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive $376 billion trade imbalance in goods,” said the US president.

In addition to the $200 billion worth of goods to be targeted by the Office of the US Trade Representative, Trump said a further $200 billion would be hit with tariffs if China responded in kind.

A central concern of the US administration — and the reason for the initial sanctions — was alleged intellectual property theft by Chinese firms.

China’s commerce ministry condemned the announcement, saying the US was engaging in a “practice of extreme pressure and blackmail.”

“If the US acts irrationally and issues a list, China will have no choice but to take comprehensive measures of a corresponding number and quality and take strong, powerful countermeasures.”

Soybeans and automobiles

Last week, Trump announced 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, which prompted Beijing to respond by quickly announcing new duties on US goods.

China initially targeted 545 US products valued at $34 billion, including soybeans — a major US export to China — as well as other agricultural products and cars. It also drew up a list of $16 billion worth of energy and chemical products to impose at a later date.

It was initially unclear when the new US tariffs could be put in place, with officials still to identify which Chinese goods would be targeted. The first round of punitive tariffs by both countries is set to take effect July 6.

The US tariffs on Chinese good are only one component of Trump’s trade offensive as part of his “America First” agenda. Steel and aluminum tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, have been imposed on imports to the US, including those from economic partners such as the EU and Canada.

 

UN chief Antonio Guterres: Gaza ‘on brink of war’

In report sent to UN Security Council before Tuesday meeting, UN condemns Israeli use of force against Palestinians.

June 19, 2018

AlJazeera

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip places the besieged enclave on the “brink of war”, as he urged Israel and Hamas to recommit to a 2014 ceasefire.

The UN chief said in a report obtained by news agencies that he is “shocked” by Israel’s use of live fire since border protests began in Gaza on March 30.

He said its military has “a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint” except as a last resort.

The report was sent to the council last week in advance of a meeting on Tuesday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable,” Guterres said.

“They must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of death or injury.”

Israel has not yet responded to the accusations.

Guterres also told the Security Council that he “unequivocally condemns the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile place” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He warned that actions by Hamas and other Palestinian groups not only risk Palestinian and Israeli lives but “efforts to restore dignity and the prospects of a livable future for Palestinians in Gaza”, citing rockets fired at Israel and attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel fence by some protesters.

Since weekly mass protests began along the Israel-Gaza border on March 30, at least 130 Palestinians have been killed and 13,000 others wounded by Israeli army fire.

The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials. Two Palestinian journalists were killed while covering the protests in April and a 21-year-old medic was shot dead in early June.

Independent investigation

Guterres renewed his call for an independent investigation of the shooting deaths in Gaza. Israel, which says Hamas has used the protests as cover for attacks on the border fence, has rejected the appeal and argued that the use of force is justified to defend its borders.

The marchers have pressed demands for a right of return for Palestinian refugees to their families homes which they were forced to flee 70 years ago.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled in the 1948 war over Israel’s creation. Two-thirds of Gaza’s two million residents are internally displaced people.

Guterres reiterated that “there is no viable alternative to the two-state solution,” with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

But he said that “only by changing the reality on the ground – by recognising and addressing the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, ensuring that all sides recommit to the 2014 ceasefire understandings, and supporting Egyptian-led efforts to restore control of the legitimate Palestinian government in Gaza – can we preserve the possibility of a viable, independent and fully representative Palestinian state and avert another disastrous, lethal conflict.”

The secretary-general also condemned Israel’s settlement activity that he says “continue unabated”, May 30 decision by Israel to approve 3,500 housing units in the West Bank – the largest batch of new housing since June 2017.

The UN considers the expansion of settlements on land earmarked for a future Palestinian state to be illegal. Guterres said the construction must “cease immediately and completely”.

 

Will we stop speaking and just text?

The young often text more than make calls so is speech itself doomed? Texting may be closer to speech than formal written language,

June 18, 2018

by James Harbeck

BBC News

Say this out loud: zomg wtfffffff im going 2 pwn you!!!!1111 lololol

Well, OK, you can’t. And yet, in its loosely structured live interactivity, internet slang like that is closer to speech than text. But it has its own conventions, some of which defy saying out loud. It’s a substitute for speech.

Could it replace spoken English?

That may sound like putting the cart before the horse. Speech is what we learn first (except for those of us who are unable to speak or hear). Throughout history, many people have never learned to write, and many cultures have had no writing system, but they have all had spoken language. Written language was created to give a record of spoken language.

Not that written language is just the frozen form of speech. Over the centuries, it has gained features such as exclamation marks and italics to convey spoken features such as tone, but it has also evolved to convey things that speech doesn’t: the etymological traces carried by our spelling, the structure of thought conveyed by paragraphs, the aesthetics of fonts and other design elements. Some features of written language feed back into speech, such as saying “slash” in phrases like “my housemate/boyfriend,” but speech and text have grown apart and evolved into many different types for different purposes. In some languages, such as Arabic, the standard written and spoken forms have diverged so much they’re different dialects.

But live internet text is something new. When we tweet or send text messages, we are merging the fixed visual means of text with the immediate live performance of speech. It is as vernacular as speech, and it draws on vernacular speech – live internet Arabic tends to draw on spoken rather than standard written Arabic. But it is still text.

Live internet vernacular English (let’s call it Live for short) got its real start in the 1990s. Usenet chat groups were sometimes interacting in real time and sometimes responding hours, days or even longer after the original post. IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and instant messaging used text and left a record but were mainly intended to be real-time or very close to it. Because they were a new context and style of use, people played around to discover potentials and to innovate. An early and striking example was a performance of Hamnet, a satirical version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet done in 1993 entirely in IRC. Here’s an example quoted by Brenda Danet in Cyperpl@y:

Ooops, here comes Ophelia [20]

**<<  Action >>** : _Enter Ophelia [21]

Here’s yr stuff back [22]

Not mine, love. Hehehehehe ;-D [23]

That ;-D shows one of the first things that emerged for computer-mediated communication to mimic speech: representations of facial expressions and other physical gestures – emoticons and, more recently, emoji.

Emoticons and emoji represent aspects of live communication, but they’re not always used in the same way as what they represent. Several studies have found that their primary use is not to present the speaker’s emotion but to help smooth out interpersonal relationships and to convey features such as irony. They are not about how the sender feels so much as how the sender wants the receiver to feel. As linguist David Crystal writes in Language and the Internet, emoticons often serve “as a warning to the recipient(s) that the sender is worried about the effect a sentence might have”. They can soften messages that might make the recipient look bad and strengthen ones that make the recipient look good.

On the other hand, there are many ways that Live does convey the writer’s emotion, or at least its intensity. A key one is reduplication. Abbreviations such as wtf can be made emphatic by repeating the last letter – wtffffff – which doesn’t represent speech in any literal sense; lol (“laughing out loud,” usually not corresponding to actual laughing out loud by the writer) becomes lololol, entirely divorced from the speech sound it represents. Even when Live represents a speech effect, it can be divorced from literal representation of the sound; while we might say a drawn-out “niiiiice” for effect, in Live you’re likely to see it written niceeee.

Evolution or de-evolution?

Live is like a sci-fi story where people’s tongues and vocal cords have been replaced by keyboards and screens, and they have to learn to work with the potentials and constraints of their new anatomy. You don’t have volume, pitch, rhythm or speed, so what do you do? Skip using the Shift key and punctuation to show haste (sorry cant chat rn got an essay due) or casualness (hi whats up). Make a typographical error to show urgency or heedlessness – teh (for the), pwn (for own, as in dominate or defeat), zomg (for OMG because Z is next to Shift), and hodl (for hold in online currency trading); these all originated with errors but became fixed forms that are simultaneously more intense and more facetious than the originals. Slip your finger off the shift key when typing multiple exclamation points to look even more unhinged: !!!!1111. And then play with that sarcastically to make !!!!!111one. Shred capitalisation standards to convey derision: if someone writes “Sorry, I don’t want to talk about this,” you can mock them by writing, “sOrRy i dOnT WaNt tO tAlK aBouT ThiS.” It’s speech, but not as we know it.

But it’s all language, and language is always a performance that refers back to previous performances and helps show what you know and what group you belong to. Live is an idiom of a certain social set – or, by now, several different social sets. The mixed-capitals mockery started with a SpongeBob Squarepants meme on Twitter in 2017; hodl started with a post on Bitcoin Talk Forums in 2013; some others (such as kek in place of lol) came from features in online games. Many distinct usages come from laddish forums such as 4chan and hackers’ chat groups and are meant to display a certain kind of competitive cleverness – for instance, pr0n in place of porn to get past content filters and keyword searches, or n00b and 1337 for noob and leet, which are in their turn sound-based shortenings of newbie and elite.

Live internet vernacular is, as Toronto linguists Sali Tagliamonte and Derek Denis put it, “a unique new hybrid register”. It does for communication what the Segway was supposed to do for transportation: it brings together two distinct modes to give something usefully halfway between them. And it hasn’t hit the roadblocks that the Segway did.But is it going to replace speech? Oh, come on, what are you talking about? There are many things that are best accomplished using your mouth and voice, just as there are many places most easily reached on foot no matter what machines you have.

On the other hand, Live is affecting other forms of English, spoken and written, because we borrow from it and refer to it. Some Live is just not sayable, but you can hear people say “L O L” and you can see emoji in ads. Is it slipping into formal writing by younger people as they grow up using it and become adults? Studies have shown that it’s not. They learn how to write like grown-ups when they have to, just as we all have: we don’t use the slang we learned as kids in our annual reports. And we’ve had abbreviations such as FYI since long before the internet, but you won’t see them in newspaper articles or academic essays.

What we might get as the medium matures is more formal versions of Live. Conventions are already emerging for certain kinds of formal discourse on Twitter, such as numbered tweet threads. But that will just be one more variety of English among many. The possibilities are endless, and if we ever invent telepathy, expect yet another version of English to emerge for that.

 

Bitcoin can cause massive internet shutdown – report

June 18, 2018

RT

Only supercomputers will be able to process cryptocurrencies in nearest future, and transactions can lead to an internet collapse, according to a recent report by Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

“To process the number of digital retail transactions currently handled by selected national retail payment systems, even under optimistic assumptions, the size of the ledger would swell well beyond the storage capacity of a typical smartphone in a matter of days, beyond that of a typical personal computer in a matter of weeks and beyond that of servers in a matter of months,” the report said.

Records of cryptocurrency transactions are kept on a digital ledger. With every money transfer, the ledger swells in size.

Then, users of cryptocurrencies will face other problems with transactions, according to the report. “Only supercomputers could keep up with verification of the incoming transactions. The associated communication volumes could bring the internet to a halt, as millions of users exchanged files on the order of magnitude of a terabyte,” BIS wrote.

The BIS also criticizes the mounting transaction fees of cryptos. When bitcoin peaked at $20,000 in December, a single operation with the digital currency cost additional $57. “Just imagine, if you bought a $2 coffee with bitcoin, you would have had to pay $57 to make that transaction go through,” said Hyun Song Shin, the bank’s head of research. Some people don’t hold cryptocurrencies as money, but are speculating on its price, he added.

Founded in 1930, the Bank for International Settlements is the oldest global financial institution, and is known as the bank for central banks because it is where they hold accounts. It provides gold and foreign exchange transactions for them and holds central bank reserves. The BIS is also a banker and fund manager for other international financial institutions.

The BIS has consistently called on central banks to clamp down on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to stop them “piggybacking” on mainstream institutions and becoming a “threat to financial stability.”

Nazis and the CIA

June 19, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The agency that initially interviewed Heinrich Müller, once head of the German Gestapo, in 1948 was the newly-formed CIA. The CIA, or the Company as it was known in the intelligence community, won a bidding war against British intelligence for Müller’s services only to lose him to the U.S. Army’s military intelligence after 1952 following a furious interdepartmental campaign.

Heinrich Müller was not the only German general officer involved in the intelligence game who worked for the CIA. Another general was Reinhard Gehlen, former head of the German Army’s Fremde Heer Ost or Foreign Armies East.

In 1944, Admiral Nicholas Horthy, Regent of Hungary, secretly negotiated with the Soviets to surrender and prevent a Soviet invasion of Hungary, a country which is difficult to defend from a geographical point of view. German intelligence caught wind of this and in a quick coup, removed Horthy and replaced him with Ferenc Szalasi, head of the pro-Nazi and violently anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party. Szalasi formally requested Himmler, through his senior officer in Budapest, to remove the Jews from Hungary. Ever eager for more free labor, Himmler readily agreed and informed Heinrich Müller, whose Gestapo oversaw such transports, that as many of the Hungarian Jews as possible were to be deported as slave labor to Auschwitz.

Müller, in turn, passed this unpalatable mission on to his chief deputy and friend, SS-Oberführer (Senior Colonel) Willi Krichbaum. Krichbaum then went to Budapest along with Adolf Eichmann, the Gestapo official directly in charge of the human shipments which eventually totaled over 350,000 Jews. Most of these Jews did not survive the war.

Müller, Krichbaum and Eichmann survived the war and went their separate ways. Müller and Krichbaum found new careers with the victors. Eichmann escaped to South America where he was later kidnapped. After a trial, he was found guilty and executed by the State of Israel.

On May 22, 1945, a German Wehrmacht General, Reinhard Gehlen, the former head of the German Army High Command’s Foreign Armies East, surrendered along with his key staff members to the United States military at Fischhausen in southern Germany.

Gehlen’s unit was responsible for gathering and analyzing military intelligence on the Soviet Union, His staff accomplished this by interrogating prisoners in army POW camps—captured Soviet military personnel and, in their headquarters—Soviet defectors. They also studied battlefield intelligence from captured Soviet documents, maps and code books. Further material was obtained by signals intelligence which listened to Soviet non-coded, low-level combat unit radio traffic. These methods of gathering combat intelligence are standard procedures still used by all armies.

During the war, Gehlen did not have intelligence agents in the Soviet Union. The General was not accustomed to gathering and analyzing Soviet political data. Unlike Müller, whose radio playback section had direct contact with very high-level Soviet intelligence agents inside Russia, Gehlen dealt strictly with combat intelligence.

Reinhard Gehlen was born in 1902 in Erfurt, Germany, the son of a publisher in Breslau. In 1920, he joined the Reichswehr, rising slowly through the ranks as an artillery officer. In 1933 he was sent to the General Staff college, and in 1935, Gehlen became a captain, the lowest rank in the General Staff.

Except for a brief period in 1938 when he was posted to the 18th Artillery Regiment as a battery commander, Gehlen spent his entire career in the German Army as a General Staff officer. On April 1, 1942, Lt. Colonel Gehlen of the General Staff was appointed head of Foreign Armies East in the High Command of the Army (OKH), a position he held until April 9, 1945 when he was fired by Hitler.

Like Müller, Gehlen had microfilmed all his files before the end of the war and he offered them, plus himself and his staff, to U.S. Army intelligence. The offer was accepted. On August 26, 1945, Gehlen and four of his closest assistants were flown to Washington for substantive talks with U.S. authorities. Gehlen was the subject of an inter-agency struggle when Allen Dulles of the OSS, once their station chief in Switzerland during the war, and General William Donovan, commander of the agency, attempted to secure Gehlen and his files for themselves. Dulles eventually won and his assistant Frank Wisner was appointed to oversee the former head of Foreign Armies East.

The Gehlen team was based at Fort Hunt, near Washington. Gehlen began his new career by preparing a series of reports which were well received. In July of 1946, Gehlen returned to Germany, and set up shop at Pullach, a former housing project for elite Nazi officials such as Martin Bormann. Gehlen was instructed to build an intelligence agency capable of conducting the highest level surveillance of the Soviets. His microfilmed files were sold to U.S. intelligence for $5 million. Considering that these files only contained material on Soviet military units that had long been disbanded or were no longer combat ready, Gehlen was very well paid for very cold coffee.

Since Gehlen had no experience with internal Soviet intelligence or with their foreign intelligence, he was hard-pressed to use his former army staff officers to supply the United Stateswith relevant material. In 1946, Gehlen hired Willi Krichbaum, formerly the deputy chief of the Gestapo, as his senior agent recruiter. While Gehlen had no experience with Soviet spies, the Gestapo certainly did, and Krichbaum immediately sought out to hire many of his old associates.

At the same time, Krichbaum contacted his former chief, Heinrich Müller, who was now a resident in Switzerland, and a respected and wealthy citizen. Müller was, by no means, inactive in his enforced retirement and was in contact with Krichbaum almost from the beginning of his exile. Lengthy handwritten reports from Krichbaum to Müller spanning nearly three years exist and, while Müller’s correspondence to Krichbaum is not in his files, the Krichbaum correspondence indicates without a doubt, that “Gestapo” Müller was supplying his former deputy with reams of information on prospective employees for the new Gehlen organization, as well as a flood of concise directives on the structure necessary to implement the needs of the US intelligence.

In 1946, Gehlen began the construction of his new agency, while the Soviet military machine in the East Zone of Germany was in the process of downsizing. The Second World War had proven to be a terrible economic disaster to Stalin. His troops were in the process of dismantling German factories which were still intact, ripping up the railroad system, and sending their spoils back to Russia.

The American armed forces were also being sharply reduced, since the war in the Pacific had ended in 1945. Military units were disbanded and their soldiers returned to civilian life as quickly as possible. On the economic front, businesses that had enjoyed lucrative government military contracts found themselves with empty assembly lines and tens of thousands of laid off workers.

It has been said that there never was a good war nor a bad peace. While the latter was certainly beneficial to the Soviets and permitted them to rebuild their economy, it certainly was not beneficial for either the rapidly-shrinking military or business communities in the United States.

This situation permitted the development of the Gehlen organization and secured its position as a vital American political resource. The U.S. had virtually no military intelligence knowledge of the Soviet Union. But the Germans, who had fought against them for four years, had. Gehlen and his military staff only had knowledge of wartime Soviet military units which were either reduced to cadre or entirely disbanded. However, this was of no interest to the senior officials of U.S. intelligence. Gehlen was to become a brilliant intelligence specialist with an incredible grasp of Soviet abilities and intentions. This preeminence was almost entirely fictional. It was designed to elevate Gehlen in the eyes of American politicians including President Truman and members of Congress, and to lend well-orchestrated weight to the former General’s interpretation of his employer’s needs.

In 1948, Stalin sent troops into Czechoslovakia after a minority but efficient communist coup that overthrew the Western-oriented government. This act, in February of 1948, combined with the blockade of West Berlin, then occupied by the British, French and Americans in June of the same year, gave a group of senior American military leaders a heaven-sent opportunity to identify a new and dangerous military enemy—an enemy which could and would attack Western Europe and the United States in the immediate future.

To facilitate the acceptance of this theory, Gehlen was requested to produce intelligence material that would bolster it in as authoritative a manner as possible. This Gehlen did and to set the parameters of this report, Gehlen, General Stephen Chamberlain, Chief of Intelligence of the U.S. Army General Staff, and General Lucius D. Clay, U.S. commander in occupied Germany met in Berlin in February of 1948, immediately after the Czech occupation but before the blockade.

After this meeting, Gehlen drew up a lengthy and detailed intelligence report  categorically stateingthat 135 fully-equipped Soviet divisions, many armored, were poised to attack. General Clay forwarded this alarming example of creative writing to Washington and followed up with frantic messages indicating his fear that the Soviets were about to launch an all-out land war on the United States.

Although the sequence of events might indicate that Clay was involved in an attempt to mislead U.S’ leaders, in actuality, he was misled by Chamberlain and Gehlen. They managed to thoroughly frighten General Clay and used him as a conduit to Washington. He was not the last to fall victim to the machinations of the war party.

The Gehlen papers were deliberately leaked to Congress and the President. This resulted in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. This was not a historical first by any means. Elements in England at the beginning of the 20th century, alarmed at the growing economic threat of a united Germany, commenced a long public campaign designed to frighten the British public and their leaders into adopting a bellicose re-armament program based on a fictional German military threat.

Gehlen and his organization were considered vital to U.S. interests. As long as the General was able to feed the re-armament frenzy in Washington with supportive, inflammatory secret reports, then his success was assured.

The only drawback to this deadly farce was that the General did not have knowledge of current Soviet situations in the military or political fields. He could only bluff his way for a short time. To enhance his military staffs, Gehlen developed the use of former SS Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and Gestapo people, brought to him by Krichbaum, his chief recruiter.

At the same time, a joint British-American project called “Operation Applepie” was launched with the sole purpose of locating and employing as many of the former Gestapo and SD types now being employed by Gehlen. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. During the course of this hunt, the prize was considered to be former SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, then in Switzerland. Contact with the former Gestapo Chief was through Krichbaum, acting on Müller’s specific instructions.

In the resulting bidding war, the Americans easily defeated the British, and the British public was spared the possible discovery of Müller appearing, under a new name, on their New Year’s Honors List instead of being made a Brigadier General of Reserve in the United States Army under a new name.

The recently uncovered files on “Applepie” are of such interest that they will be the subject of a further in-depth publication. Other document series of equal importance will include the so-called Robinson papers and a series of reports on the British use of certain former Gestapo and SD personnel in Damascus, Syria by John Marriott of the Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME). Robinson (or Robinsohn as he was known to the Gestapo officials) was a high-level Soviet agent captured in France as a result of the Rote Kapelle investigations. Robinson’s files came into Müller’s possession and reveal an extensive Soviet spy ring in Great Britain. Such highly interesting and valuable historical records should also encompass the more significant intercepts made of Soviet messages by the Gestapo from Ottawa, Canada to Moscow throughout the war. These parallel the so-called Venona intercepts which have been fully translated and are extraordinarily lengthy.

In 1948, control of the Gehlen organization was assumed by the new CIA and put under the direction of Colonel James Critchfield, formerly an armored unit commander and now a CIA section chief.

At this point, Gehlen had a number of powerful sponsors in the U.S. military and intelligence communities. These included General Walter Bedell Smith, former Chief of Staff to General Eisenhower and later head of the CIA; General William Donovan, former head of the OSS; Allen Welch Dulles, former Swiss station chief of the OSS and later head of the CIA; Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, first head of the CIA; General Edwin Sibert of U.S. Army military intelligence and Generals Chamberlain and Clay.

American military intelligence officers were well aware that the Soviet Army threat was hollow and that the Soviets’ act of dismantling the eastern German railroad system was strong proof that an attack was not in the offing, but they were strongly discouraged by their superiors from expressing their views.

In 1954, General Arthur Trudeau, chief of U.S. military intelligence, received a copy of a lengthy report prepared by retired Lt. Colonel Hermann Baun of Gehlen’s staff. Baun, who had originally been assigned to the German High Command (OKW) as an Abwehr specialist on Russia, eventually ended up working for Gehlen’s Foreign Armies East which was under the control of the Army High Command (OKH). Baun was an extremely competent, professional General Staff officer who, by 1953, had taken a dim view, indeed, of the creatures foisted on him by Gehlen. Baun detested Gehlen who had forced him out of his post-war intelligence position with the West. Baun’s annoyance was revealed in a lengthy complaint of Gehlen’s Nazi staff members which set forth, in detail, their names and backgrounds.

General Trudeau was so annoyed with this report that in October of 1954, he took West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer aside as Adenauer was making an official visit to Washington, Trudeau passed much of this information to the horrified Adenauer, who had spent time in a concentration camp during the war. Adenauer, in turn, raised this issue with American authorities and the matter was leaked to the press. Allen Dulles, a strong Gehlen backer and now head of the CIA, used his own connections and those of his brother, John, Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, to effectively silence Trudeau by transferring him to the remote Far East.

Trudeau’s warning to Adenauer did not have a lasting effect and on April 1, 1956, former General Reinhard Gehlen was appointed as head of the new West German Federal Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendiesnt or BND. In this case, as in so many other similar ones, virtue is certainly not its own reward.

 

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