TBR News March 13, 2019

Mar 13 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. March 13, 2019:”There are today four top quality public universities in the United States. The best is the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, then there is the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Oregon at Eugene and the University of California at Berkley. These are as good as, and often better, than Harvard or Yale but not cheap and students cannot get into them unless they are intelligent and competent. The American public, and higher education, schools are notorious for their low quality and many are in existence only to make money, not educate. Many push large “student loans’ on their attendees and make deals with bill collectors on collections later.

Students are told that they can get very high paying employment upon graduation but this is rarely the case. Degrees in Advanced Basket Weaving or Creative Writing guarantee janitorial jobs at MacDonalds but little else.

The average graduate from the average ‘university’ in America today knows less of the world than a chicken and end up sleeping on the sidewalks of large cities and annoying overpaid computer specialists who have to step over them on their way to work.

This leads to serious social problems and when one contemplates that there are 95,000,000 unemployed, and unemployable, people in the United States today, social eruptions become a reality.”


The Table of Contents

  • It’s not just corruption. Entrance into elite US colleges is rigged in every way
  • Brexit: MPs to vote on 29 March no-deal exit from EU
  • Trump Doctrine? Peeving allies & trashing US empire
  • China offers help to Venezuela to restore power
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • California governor to place moratorium on death penalty
  • The Armenian Holocaust of 1916
  • Vengeance is mine, sayeth the flat earth supporter



It’s not just corruption. Entrance into elite US colleges is rigged in every way

An FBI sting revealed that wealthy parents are buying their children a place in top universities. But they’re not the only problem: the whole system is rigged

March 12, 2019

Richard V Reeves

The Guardian

Shock! Horror! Wealthy Americans are using their money to buy their children places at elite colleges. An FBI investigation, appropriately named Operation Varsity Blues, has exposed a $25m cash-for-admissions scandal. Coaches were allegedly bribed to declare candidates as athletic recruits; test administrators to change their scores, or allow someone else to take the test for them.

At the center of the cheating scheme was William Rick Singer, the founder of a for-profit college preparation business based in Newport Beach, California. Among the 33 parents caught in the FBI sting were Hollywood stars Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Loughlin starred in the series Full House. Huffman is famous for her role in Desperate Housewives; now she will be more famous as a desperate mom. And she’s not alone. The breathless anxiety among many affluent parents to get their kids into the very best colleges is a striking feature of upper class American life.

Singer’s bribery scheme allegedly allowed parents to buy entrance for their offspring at some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, including Yale, Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, University of Texas and Wake Forest.

FBI officers were at pains to point out that the colleges themselves are not being found liable; though nine athletic coaches were caught in the net.

“Following 10 months of investigation using sophisticated techniques, the FBI uncovered what we believe to be a rigged system,” John Bonavolonta, the FBI special agent in charge said, “robbing students all over the country of their right to a fair shot of getting into some of the most elite universities in this country”.

But here’s the thing: the whole system is “rigged” in favor of more affluent parents. It is true that the conversion of wealth into a desirable college seat was especially egregious in this case – to the extent that it was actually illegal. But there are countless ways that students are robbed of a “fair shot” if they are not lucky enough to be born to well-resourced, well-connected parents.

The difference between this illegal scheme and the legal ways in which money buys access is one of degree, not of kind. The mistake here was to do something illegal. Meanwhile, much of what goes on in college admissions many not be illegal, but it is immoral.

Take legacy preferences, for example. This boosts the admissions chances of the children of alumni; and for obvious reasons the alumni of elite colleges tend to be pretty affluent, especially if they marry each other. (They are also disproportionately white). The acceptance rate for legacy applicants at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown and Stanford is between two and three times higher than the general admission rate. If they don’t get in first time round, they might be asked to take a “gap year” and enter a year later instead, a loophole known as “Z-listing”. A Princeton study found that being a legacy applicant had the same effect as adding 160 SAT points – on the old scale up to 1600 – to a student’s application. Imagine if colleges gave that kind of admissions boost to lower-income kids?

As John W Anderson, the co-director of college counseling at the Phillips Academy, an elite boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts, admits, of the students from his school who are Z-listed for Harvard, “a very, very, very high percent” are legacies. The Harvard Crimson estimates the proportion at around one in two.

Or how about donor preferences? Rather than bribing coaches, the wealthiest parents can just bribe – sorry, donate to – the college directly. In 2017, the Washington Post reported on the special treatment given to “VIP applicants” via an annual “watch list”. Applicants whose parents were big donors would have notes on their files reading “$500k. Must be on WL” (wait list). Even better, these donations are tax free!

As a general rule, the bigger the money the bigger the effect on admissions chances. Among elite aspirational alums, the question asked is “what’s the price?”. In other words, how much do you have to donate to get your child in?

Whatever the price is, those with the fattest wallets can obviously pay it. Peter Malkin graduated from Harvard Law School in 1958. He became a very wealthy real estate businessman, and huge donor. In 1985, the university’s indoor athletic facility was renamed the Malkin Athletic Center in his honor. All three of Malkin’s children went to Harvard. By 2009, five of his six college-age grandchildren had followed suit. (One brave boy dared to go to Stanford instead.)

Or how about Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law? Kushner was accepted into Harvard shortly after his father donated $2.5m. An official at Kushner’s high school said there was “no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would, on the merits, get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it.”

David E and Stacey Goel just gave $100m dollars to Harvard. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Elizabeth-Grace and Noah, their young children, have an excellent chance of Harvard admission.

Even those parents who are not in the wealthiest brackets, but are squarely in the upper middle class, can use their money to boost their kids’ chances, through tutors, SAT prep classes, athletic coaches. Students who apply early have better chances of admission, which favors more affluent families since early admission precedes financial aid decisions. Many colleges prefer students who have “shown an interest” in their college. How to show an interest? By visiting the campus – easy for those with money for flights and hotels, less so for those on modest or low incomes.

Small wonder that at elite colleges, including most of those targeted in the corruption scheme such as Yale, Duke, Stanford and Wake Forest, take more students from families in the top 1% of the income distribution than from those in the bottom 60% combined.

So hats off to FBI special agent Bonavolonta and his team for exposing the corruption admissions. But it is in fact simply the most visible sign of a much deeper problem with college admissions. Elite colleges are serving to reinforce class inequality, rather than reduce it. The opaque, complex, unfair admissions process is a big part of the problem. From an equality perspective, it is not just Singer and his clients who are at fault: it’s the system as a whole.Even those parents who are not in the wealthiest brackets, but are squarely in the upper middle class, can use their money to boost their kids’ chances, through tutors, SAT prep classes, athletic coaches. Students who apply early have better chances of admission, which favors more affluent families since early admission precedes financial aid decisions. Many colleges prefer students who have “shown an interest” in their college. How to show an interest? By visiting the campus – easy for those with money for flights and hotels, less so for those on modest or low incomes.

Small wonder that at elite colleges, including most of those targeted in the corruption scheme such as Yale, Duke, Stanford and Wake Forest, take more students from families in the top 1% of the income distribution than from those in the bottom 60% combined.

So hats off to FBI special agent Bonavolonta and his team for exposing the corruption admissions. But it is in fact simply the most visible sign of a much deeper problem with college admissions. Elite colleges are serving to reinforce class inequality, rather than reduce it. The opaque, complex, unfair admissions process is a big part of the problem. From an equality perspective, it is not just Singer and his clients who are at fault: it’s the system as a whole.


Brexit: MPs to vote on 29 March no-deal exit from EU

March 13, 2019

BBC News

MPs will vote later on whether to block the UK from leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March, after again rejecting the PM’s withdrawal agreement.

Wednesday’s vote would not rule out the prospect of a no-deal exit later this year, if talks are extended but the UK is ultimately unable to agree a deal.

Theresa May’s deal was defeated in the Commons again on Tuesday by 149 votes.

The EU’s Michel Barnier said the UK must decide what it wanted and the risk of no deal had “never been higher”.

He told the European Parliament the EU had gone “as far as it possibly can” and the proposed exit agreement, rejected by 391 to 242 votes, “will remain the only available treaty”.

Ahead of the no-deal Commons vote, expected at about 19.00 GMT, the government announced that most imports into the UK would not attract a tariff in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Under a temporary scheme 87% of imports by value would be eligible for zero-tariff access – up from 80% at present. Tariffs would be maintained to protect some industries, including agriculture.

The government also announced it will not introduce any new checks or controls, or require customs declarations for any goods moving from across the border from Ireland to Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The decision to drop all checks to avoid friction at the UK’s land border with the EU will be temporary while longer term solutions are negotiated.

What is Wednesday’s vote on?

MPs will vote on a government motion, which says: “This House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement and a framework on the future relationship on 29 March”.

Mrs May, who is currently chairing a cabinet meeting, has said Tory MPs will get a free vote.

That means ministers and MPs can vote with their conscience rather than following the orders of party managers – an unusual move for a vote on a major policy.

The no-deal debate will begin after Prime Minister’s Questions and Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement economic update.

Leaving the EU in 16 days’ time remains the UK’s default position under the law, unless talks are extended.

If no-deal is rejected, MPs will vote on Thursday on delaying Brexit by extending Article 50 – the legal mechanism that takes the UK out of the EU.

The EU has said it would need “a credible justification” before agreeing to any extension – which would have to be agreed by every member state.

Is Mrs May’s deal ‘dead’?

The PM had made a last-minute plea to MPs to back her deal after she had secured legal assurances on the Irish backstop from the EU during late-night talks in Strasbourg on Monday.

But although she managed to convince about 40 Tory MPs to change their mind, it was not nearly enough to overturn the historic 230 vote defeat she suffered on the same deal in January.

Speaking after the defeat, she said MPs would have to decide whether they want to delay Brexit, hold another referendum, or whether they “want to leave with a deal but not this deal”.

She will tell MPs whether she will vote for no deal or not when she opens Wednesday’s debate.

Labour have said the prime minister’s Brexit deal is now “dead”, while Conservative Brexiteers and Remainers have also called for alternatives to be seriously discussed.

Despite Tuesday’s defeat, the BBC News political editor Laura Kuenssberg said, there were ministers who believed it could still ultimately prevail as other options gradually fell by the wayside due to lack of parliamentary support.

What alternatives are being discussed?

Labour has called for no-deal to be “taken off the table” – and said it would continue to push its alternative Brexit proposals, including a customs union.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey told BBC News Parliament would increasingly “set the agenda” if the government was not in control of events.

Cabinet divided on next move


Analysis box by Laura Kuenssberg, political editor

What isn’t clear is how the prime minister actually intends to dig herself out of this dreadful political hole.

Some of her colleagues around the Cabinet table think it shows she has to tack to a closer deal with the EU.

Some of them believe it’s time now to go hell-for-leather to leave without an overarching deal but move to make as much preparation as possible, and fast.

Other ministers believe genuinely, still with around two weeks to go, and an EU summit next week, there is still time to try to manoeuvre her deal through – somehow.

Members of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs have tabled an amendment that would see the UK leave without a formal agreement, with the backstop being replaced by alternative arrangements and a series of “standstill” economic arrangements until the end of 2021 to minimise disruption.

Steve Baker, the organisation’s vice-chairman, told BBC News the proposal – which would see Brexit delayed until 22 May – was “eminently reasonable” and was supported by the Democratic Unionists and former Remain ministers like Nicky Morgan and Damian Green

But Tory former minister Nick Boles said this would amount to a no-deal exit and the EU would not agree to it.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said the current impasse “can only be solved in the UK” and MPs must decide what they want rather than what they don’t.


Trump Doctrine? Peeving allies & trashing US empire

March 12, 2019

by Finian Cunningham


As with all US presidents, the incumbent will one day be assigned a “Trump Doctrine” – a grandiose title meant to encapsulate a key feature of foreign policy during his tenure at the White House.

The foreign policy wonks haven’t yet come up with a defining policy feature for a Trump Doctrine. But we may suggest the following: scoring own goals to unwittingly alienate allies and undermine US global power.

Trump’s presidency stands out for the rapidity with which supposed allies have become leery of, if not outright peeved by, American power. That, in turn, has served to erode Washington’s global standing as a presumed leader.

The latest own goal is Trump’s plan to ramp up demands for allies to pay the cost of hosting US troops on their territories. The new accounting arrangement has not yet been officially announced by the White House, but allies have got wind of the changes in store.

The president reportedly wants to charge nations the full cost of accommodating American military personnel, plus a 50 percent surcharge. Trump calls it the “cost plus 50” formula.

The idea is said to have “struck fear in the hearts of US allies who view it as extortionate.”

Japan, Germany and South Korea are particularly concerned about being hit with massive bills for hosting large American bases. Japan has some 54,000 US troops on its territory. Germany and South Korea have over 20,000 military personnel. Those countries already pay part-expenses for running the US bases, but if Trump’s “cost plus 50” formula is implemented, their bills could be multiplied five-fold, amounting to billions of extra dollars.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is already known to be irritated with the Trump administration over its perceived bullying regarding demands on Berlin to boost military spending on the NATO alliance. Trump wants Germany and other European members of the military bloc to double annual expenditures.

His relentless browbeating and sniping at European allies for “freeloading” off American military protection has been a major impetus behind Merkel’s government gravitating towards the idea of setting up a “European Army” independent of Washington.

Again, this is a classic illustration of how Trump’s transactional – even boorish – attitude is ending up being counterproductive to US interests.

In Trump’s reductionist worldview, he considers American forces as some kind of chivalrous defense service to allies who don’t appreciate Washington’s “generosity.” ‘Get those feckless allies to cough up for our protection’ is Trump’s attitude.

More sophisticated US planners know, however, the real purpose of American bases in countries like Germany and Japan is all about imperial power projection against geopolitical rivals Russia and China. That’s why for decades, Washington was more than willing to foot the costs of its overseas installations. It was viewed as a normal expense for running an empire and occupying foreign soil.

Trump, as a real estate money-grubbing type, doesn’t get the geo-strategic picture. He just sees ballooning costs for spreading US forces all over the globe in more than 150 countries. And, naturally in his transactional brain, Trump wants others to pay for “American protection.” But the arrangement under Trump is starting to resemble too closely a protection racket akin to a mafia.

In shoving his policy of “America First” and “Making America Great Again,” Trump is ending up alienating countries which tolerated US military occupation under the pretense of defense. If they begin to receive hiked-up bills for stationing Pentagon legions, the already latent demands for US withdrawal from those countries will grow.

Many Germans are not happy that their country more closely resembles an occupied colonial regime under Washington’s tutelage since the end of the Second World War. It’s the same too for Japan and South Korea. In Japan, the people of Okinawa have for years been campaigning fruitlessly to get US forces off their ancestral lands. If those countries start to be inundated with “extortionate” fees for hosting US forces, the result will certainly be irrepressible popular demand for shutting down the bases.

Typically, the arm-twisting by the Trump administration is done without any acumen or decorum.

It was recently reported that Vice President Mike Pence “leaned on” Germany’s Merkel to send a naval force to Crimea in support of the Kiev regime. Both Germany and France rebuffed the White House, saying that it was an “unnecessary provocation” to Russia.

Pence made additional high-handed demands on Merkel and other Europeans during the Munich Security Conference held in February, according to Bloomberg. He called for European NATO powers to do more to secure Syrian stability following the planned withdrawal of US troops from that country.

As with the Crimea force expedition idea, the Syrian contingency plan was “brushed off, as were demands for EU nations to follow the US decision to abandon a hard-fought Iranian nuclear accord.”

The arrogance and stupidity of the Trump administration seems to know no bounds.

Trump is threatening Germany with secondary sanctions if it proceeds with its strategically important Nord Stream 2 project to import natural gas fuel from Russia. This week, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry reiterated that the US was actively considering imposing sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 Baltic seabed pipeline. Those threats have reportedly rankled Merkel, as have Trump’s warnings about imposing tariffs on German auto exports, which are deemed to be a national security risk for the US.

This week, too, Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, who has done a fine job of infuriating Berlin with his meddling in its internal affairs, went even further by admonishing his host country about pursuing any telecoms deals with Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Washington is flagrantly using security claims to undermine the Chinese rival in the telecoms market – in a way analogous to Russia’s Gazprom in the natural gas market. Arguably, that’s Washington’s business if it wants to use duplicitous means to warp market forces. But what is really insufferable is Washington then demanding that its allies must also comply with its dubious dictates, even when economically disadvantageous to those allies.

Another area where the Trump administration’s purblind policymaking has alienated allies is its revocation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. That landmark 1987 Cold War accord kept the European continent free of nuclear weapons for three decades. With Trump’s cancelation of the treaty, and Russia responding in kind, European security could be once again thrown under a Cold War shadow of nuclear war.

In countless ways, the Trump presidency is pursuing policy goals with such a selfish and myopic misunderstanding of strategic issues, it is leading manifestly to increasing tensions and isolation from supposed allies.

The erstwhile global arrangement for American hegemony is being unraveled by Trump, not from any tacit treasonous agenda to undermine US global power, and certainly not due to Trump being a “Putin puppet” as his domestic detractors preposterously assert.

Trump is crashing American global power because his penny-pinching profiteering mentality is too idiotic and selfish to even realize the damage it is causing to US strategic interests.

The Trump Doctrine is the grandiose name for historic American failure due to its foreign policy being run like a TV reality show.


China offers help to Venezuela to restore power

March 13, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China offered on Wednesday to help Venezuela restore its power grid, after President Nicolas Maduro accused U.S. counterpart Donald Trump of cyber “sabotage” that plunged the South American country into its worst blackout on record.

Maduro, who retains control of the military and other state institutions as well as the backing of Russia and China, has blamed Washington for his nation’s economic turmoil and denounced opposition leader Juan Guaido as a puppet of the United States.

With the power blackout in its sixth day, hospitals struggled to keep equipment running, food rotted in the tropical heat and exports from the country’s main oil terminal were shut down.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said China had noted reports that the power grid had gone down due to a hacking attack.

“China is deeply concerned about this,” Lu said.

“China hopes that the Venezuelan side can discover the reason for this issue as soon as possible and resume normal power supply and social order. China is willing to provide help and technical support to restore Venezuela’s power grid.”

He gave no details.

Power returned to many parts of the country on Tuesday, including some areas that had not had electricity since last Thursday, according to witnesses and social media.

But power was still out in parts of the capital of Caracas and the western region near the border with Colombia.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said power had been restored in the “vast majority” of the country.

U.S. pulls diplomats from Venezuela, blackout continues

The blackout was likely caused by a technical problem with transmission lines linking the Guri hydroelectric plant in southeastern Venezuela to the national power grid, experts have told Reuters.

Maduro has blamed Washington for organising what he said was a sophisticated cyber attack on Venezuela’s hydroelectric power operations.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Christian Schmollinger



The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

March 13, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.


Conversation No. 14

Date:  Friday, May 10, 1996

Commenced:  10:03 AM CST

Concluded:    10:21 AM CST


GD: Good morning, Mrs. Crowley. Is Robert available?

EC: Oh good morning, Gregory. Yes, he’s right here.

GD: Thank you.

RTC: Hello, Gregory. I’ve dug out quite a bit of material on the Kennedy business for you and once I get it collated, I’ll send it on.

GD: Any surprises there?

RTC: Wait until you’ve read it and I would prefer not to discuss this on the telephone. There are aspects of this that should be kept very private and, let me add, I would request that you not address this in print until after I am gone.

GD: Understood but that could be ten years from now.

RTC: Oh, I doubt that. I’m getting older by the day. I might hold out for a few more years but not much longer. Emily has been at me to have more X-rays because the last ones showed some spots on my lungs but I think that if it was cancer, I would be dead by now. After all, we took those some years ago.

GD: You smoke?

RTC: A small sinful pleasure but not as much. That and coffee kept me going and these get to be ingrained habits. At any rate, eventually I ought to have more tests but I really don’t worry too much about this.

GD: Just one brief question about Kennedy if it’s all right.

RTC: Ask me and I’ll make a judgment call.

GD: Was it Oswald?

RTC: No, he was a patsy. Had nothing to do with it and that answers that question. Now, on to other things if you don’t mind.

GD: Thank you and go ahead.

RTC: I was thinking about the Pollard business we talked about a few days ago. Looking over some of my files, I am certain you were accurate about tipping them off. There was an unspecified confidential source and I suppose if I had someone dig into it further, it would cinch it all up. We thought it was someone from the Israeli side with a guilty conscience.

GD: No, just a peeved WASP.

RTC: Of course, what was the worst aspect of this Pollard business is that the little traitor passed an enormous amount of very, very sensitive information to Israel, among which were reams of top level coded material. We found out later that all of this was sent to Russia, to the KGB and the GRU within hours of it getting to Tel Aviv.

GD: Did they work with the Russians?

RTC: No, some of the refuseniks that went to Israel were Soviet plants and they took with them enough information to convince the Israelis that they would be good agents. That’s the terrible thing about the Pollard matter, Gregory. It cost us millions upon millions to rework our codes but that only covered on-going matters. My God, the Soviets were reading all our top level messages. The damage that little shit caused is not to believe. Weinberger wanted to shoot him out of hand but that never happened. Pollard will never get out of prison alive. Did you know that the Israelis made him an honorary member of their Knesset and deposited large sums of money into a bank account they opened for him there?

GD: That’s a bit gross, isn’t it?

RTC: Figure it. And they have been bombarding Clinton to pardon him but that will never happen, even if his wife is Jewish. I don’t much care for Clinton but he is certainly a smart man. He moves with the tides, Gregory, and if he dared to pardon Pollard, there would be serious problems for him. It’s been said that if this looked like it might go through, the BoP people would have one of their convicts stick a knife into him while he was taking the air in the prison yard. I think he should be found hanging in his cell some morning and then we can pickle him, put him in a box and ship him off to Israel, collect.

GD: Frau Clinton is Jewish?

RTC: Family came from Lodz in Poland, went to Manchester in England, changed their names and some of them came over here. Her branch ended up in the cloth business in Chicago. They don’t talk about this but it’s something to consider. One thing I can say about the Clintons. They both are really too fond of women.

GD: When I lived in California, I had a friend in the state police in Sacramento and he was telling me that Hillary left law school at Yale and interned with Bob Treuhaft in Oakland. He’s a communist labor lawyer. His wife is Decca Mitford who wrote the book on funeral home ripoffs. Decca’s sister was Unity Mitford, who was one of Hitler’s lady friends. Anyway, he said that Hillary worked with the Black Panthers in Oakland and got involved with their descent on the legislators in Sacramento. They all had guns and everyone freaked out. Apparently, the police went around rounding them all up and they found Frau Clinton naked in bed with a black woman. It’s all in a report he copied. And he said that about a week after Clinton became President, the FBI swooped down and grabbed the original files on all of this.

RTC: Too bad there’s no copy.

GD: Oh, there is. I sent a copy of it around to the media but all I got was complete silence. But note that Herb Caen, a columnist for the Chronicle, wrote about this and I don’t think the FBI can do much about that. Of course, people forget very quickly, Robert. Cold beer in the fridge and a sports game on the tube and they’re contented. Consider the bulk of the public as if it were a hibernating bear in Alaska. Now if the far right and the far left stand in front of his den, screeching at each other and throwing dung and snowballs at each other, the bear is oblivious. But supposing they decide to move into the den and continue their petty squabbles. And if by accident, one of them managed to kick brother bear squarely in the balls, then we see something else. The bear awakes with a roar, promptly kills both of the invaders of his bedroom and goes back to sleep again. That, Robert, is what happens when the public is aroused and that is why politicians are careful to keep out of the bear’s den.

RTC: An interesting analogy.

GD: Revolutions don’t start overnight. The French Revolution had its roots in the determination of a burgeoning middle class to obtain equal rights along with the monarchy, the clergy and the nobility. Things got out of control and the mob woke up and wreaked bloody havoc on France for some time. Read Carlisle on this subject. Or read Eric Hoffer. I recommend The True Believer for a very penetrating analysis of mass movements and their fanatic adherents. We don’t have this problem here, at least now, but things change and if we don’t change with them, then there are problems.

RTC: I think the older we get, the less we welcome change.

GD: Routine can be comforting at that. But suppose some stuffy bureaucrat got up one morning, shoved the family cat into the microwave, turned it on, drove his van across the neighbor’s lawn and crushed the stone dwarves and then ran all the red lights on the way to the office? And when he got to his work pen, he set the contents of his desk on fire and ran around the office buck naked?

RTC: I have a feeling he would be locked up somewhere for some time. You have a very active imagination, Gregory, or did you do this?

GD: No but when I see the automatons on the road or marching in lockstep on the sidewalks of the financial district, such thoughts are not unnatural to me. I love to do the unexpected. I recall once when a friend’s father, who ran a local Penney store, gave me a half a dozen obsolete window dummies. My God, sir, did I have my fun. We took a little girl, cute thing with pigtails, cut a hole in her back and filled her insides with lots of raspberry Jello. Then we put a pinafore and a pair of nice shoes and socks on her, took her down to the SP tracks and set her up just this side of the railroad bridge. My Russian friend and I sat in the bushes and when the Del Monte Special, filled with the idle rich, came down the line doing 80, the headlights picked up the little darling on the tracks, illuminating her winsome form for the people stopped by the track gates. Horns blowing, howling drivers, panic and then when the train hit her squarely, a great fan of red Jello and papier-mâché body parts descended on the stopped cars. Now that was something to remember, Robert. Engineer slammed on the breaks, dropped sand, skidded with many sparks and blaring air horn into the local station and I will always remember the idle rich flying all over the interior of the illuminated club car. We got away with it but only barely. Booted police stamping all around our bushes, looking for the fiends. We didn’t do that one again but believe me, it was worth it.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: I see you do have a sense of humor, Robert. There were other dummies to be put to good use. Sometime later I can give you more cheerful anecdotes to make your day.

RTC: I hope all of that is behind you, Gregory.

GD: Oh yes, long ago but not forgotten. By the way, speaking of things behind, can you give me one word that describes what happened when a very fat woman backed into a rotating airplane propeller?

RTC: Not offhand.

GD: Disaster.

RTC: Are you smoking something illegal?

GD: No, too much coffee and too many fond memories. Let me go back to the book and leave you thinking about the chaos inside the Embassy when you turn on your noise box.

RTC: That’s probably enough for now.

GD: ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,’ Robert, and I will talk to you later.


(Concluded at 10:21 AM CST)





California governor to place moratorium on death penalty

Gavin Newsom’s executive order means 737 death row inmates will not be executed during his tenure

March 12, 2019

by Gabrielle Canon in Oakland

The Guardian

California’s governor is set to issue a moratorium on capital punishment in the US’s most populous state, providing a reprieve for hundreds of inmates sentenced to death.

On Wednesday morning, Gavin Newsom is expected to sign a new executive order that will put in place an executive moratorium on the death penalty, meaning 737 inmates awaiting execution in California will not be put to death during the governor’s tenure.

The order will also instruct the immediate closure of the execution chamber at the San Quentin state prison and will withdraw the state’s controversial lethal injection protocol, according to a Newsom administration source.

The governor’s decision brings California in line with Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania – all of which have governor-issued moratoria – and adds momentum to a national movement working to end capital punishment.

California has the biggest death row population in the country, with one in four US inmates on death row incarcerated in the state. Twenty-five of the death row prisoners have exhausted all appeals.

“Symbolically it is very significant,” Robert Dunham, the executive director of the not-for-profit Death Penalty Information Center, told the Guardian. “It tells us a lot about the state of the death penalty in the United States when two of the five largest death rows in the country have moratoria on executions and one-third of everybody on death row is incarcerated in a state that has a moratorium.”

There hasn’t been an execution in California since 2006, amid a years-long legal battle over the state’s drug cocktail. Federal courts ordered a halt to executions until the California department of corrections and rehabilitation (CDCR) could ensure its lethal injection protocol was administered without risk of exposing inmates to excessive pain.

The CDCR issued a new protocol in January of last year, and that protocol, too, has faced legal challenges. With a judge’s approval, however, executions could quickly resume in the absence of the executive order. “We’re poised to potentially oversee the execution of more prisoners than any other state in modern history,” Newsom said in an interview with the LA Times before issuing the moratorium.

Newsom has long been a vocal critic of capital punishment. His administration argues that capital punishment has been a failure, pointing at pervasive inequality running through the US criminal justice system, the significant number of innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted, and evidence that the costly system doesn’t increase safety.

A US Government Accountability Office study published in 1990 found a vastly increased likelihood of a death sentence when the defendant was a person of color and the victim was white. A 2005 study cited by the governor’s office concluded it was three times more likely a conviction would result in capital punishment if the victim was white and not black.

More than 60% of prisoners awaiting execution in California are people of color. Death row inmates are also much more likely to have a mental illness, brain damage or brain injury, or to be intellectually disabled.

“There is a lot of literature and studies out there that show that the death penalty is a deeply broken system for a lot of different reasons,” the American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Shilpi Agarwal said.

Newsom’s executive order is set to regulate executions until he leaves office. But in order to have lasting impact, the reprieve should be used to find a more permanent solution, Durham says.

Californians don’t have a strong consensus on capital punishment but have narrowly upheld it each time the issue has been put to a vote. Most recently, in 2016, voters passed Proposition 66, a measure designed to fast-track the legal process for executions, but rejected Proposition 62, an initiative that would have repealed the death penalty.

“In a state like California, where no one has been executed for more than a decade, a moratorium with nothing more is largely symbolic,” Dunham said. “If it is accompanied by other action, then we are looking at something more significant – it may provide some breathing space for the state to meaningfully address the huge systemic problems in its capital punishment system.”


The Armenian Holocaust of 1916

by Germar Rudolf

At the beginning of the last century, civil rights for European minorities became a serious issue. A modernisation of the Ottoman Empire was promised by the 1908 revolutionary movement of Young Turks, and Turkish Armenians hoped for equality. In fact, the Young Turks continued to target Armenians and other non-Muslims. As Sultan Abdul Hamid II put it, at the beginning of the century, “The way to get rid of the Armenian Question is to get rid of the Armenians.”

In 1915, the Young Turks, who had deposed the old sultan, carried out a systematic final solution, through mass shootings, concentration camps, starvation, abandonment in the desert, even gassing and mass deportation. This happened despite conscription, the year before, of 250,000 Armenians into the Turkish army. Christopher Walker and David Marshall Lang, writing for a journal in the Minority Rights Group series, detail Armenian loyalty to the Empire during the first world war: “When the Turkish war minister, Enver Pasha, was defeated by the Russians, it was the Armenian soldiers who saved him from being killed or captured by Tsarist forces.” But, remembering the 1896 assassinations and recent pogroms, some Armenians joined the enemy Tsarist armies as volunteers. This helped the Ottomans portray the

By 1915, all Armenians had been forced to give up personal firearms. Armenians in the Ottoman army were assembled into labour battalions where they were starved, beaten or machine-gunned. On April 24, 1915, more than 300 Istanbul Armenian intellectuals were arrested and then murdered in a mini Katyn. This included MPs in the Turkish parliament. The Armenian community was now without able-bodied men and intellectuals. This lack of leadership was to have a profound political and emotional effect on the survivors. The loss is felt even today.

Memories from this holocaust make gruelling reading. There are stories of women’s breasts being cut off. Others were systematically raped and then murdered. Some were taken to harems and disappeared. In every province, town and village of Turkish Armenia and Asia Minor, the entire Armenian population was rounded up. The men were usually shot, and the women and children forced to walk in huge convoys to the Syrian desert. Even today, skeletons are still found from this journey to hell. Few survived the death marches. Those who did get through made sure their experiences were passed down to children and grandchildren.

Dr Susan Pattie, senior research fellow at University College London, is a 50-year-old US-born anthropologist. Her family was deported from the town of Kessab on the Turkish/Syrian border in 1915. Two of her grandmother’s children died on the death marches and two more were taken away by Turks. (Many Armenian children were used as slave workers, others were adopted and converted; the rest disappeared.)

Pattie, who grew up in Washington DC, has been profoundly affected by her grandmother’s early tragedy. “Although my father was American-English and my schoolfriends were mainly Jewish, I totally identified as Armenian, particularly as my grandmother lived with us. We were told about the deportation when we were growing up. It was part of being Armenian.”

Holocaust was decided at government level. Locally, gendarmes carried out the mass murders together with a special organisation (Teshkilat-i Mahsusa) of convicted criminals who had been offered a pardon in return for slaughtering Armenians. Survivors from the death marches were held in the infamous Syrian open-air concentration camp of Deir el-Zor, where many were murdered by camp guards.

Death came in various ways. In Trebizond, local Armenians were pushed on to boats then thrown overboard. Others were hurled off the edge of a gorge. Before 1914, more than two million Armenians lived in Turkey. After the holocaust, only 500,000 remained, destined to become refugees in what was to become known as the Armenian diaspora.

Talaat Pasha, Ottoman minister of the interior, was the holocaust’s main architect. He wrote, “By continuing the deportation of the orphans to their destinations during the intense cold, we are ensuring their eternal rest.” This uncannily prefigures the Nazis’ welcoming of the Jews to Auschwitz with the sardonic words, “Now you are on the road to Paradise.”

Jews bore witness to the Armenian holocaust from the start. Henry Morgenthau, a German-born Jew and America’s ambassador to Turkey, protested fiercely to the US government in an attempt to force its intervention. Writing in the Red Cross Magazine in March 1918, he said, “None of the fearful horrors perpetrated in the various zones of war can compare with the tragic lot of the Armenians.” Morgenthau has become a hero to the Armenians. But Jewish sympathy did not provoke any international aid for the Armenians, whose extermination was being veiled under cover of war.

After the war, France and Britain were anxious to seize whatever territory they could from the 1918 dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. Palestine was to become a British mandate, the French took Syria and Lebanon. The fate of the Armenians was of little interest to the imperialist powers. In a 1915 dispatch, the Times war correspondent, J Norman, writes of “husbands mourning their dishonoured wives, parents their murdered children, churches despoiled, graves dug up, young of both sexes carried off”. He describes men being forced to dig trenches for their own graves. These are disturbingly prophetic images of events 26 years later, when the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union forced Jews to do the same.

Turkey has never admitted to the holocaust, but there are too many independent witnesses for its denial to be credible. The Reverend Henry H Riggs was an American missionary in the Ottoman Empire. His book, Days Of Tragedy In Armenia, is one of the most detailed holocaust histories in English. The US National Archives have information on the slaughter and deportations on file and open to the public. There is even protest from Mehmet Sherif Pasha, former Turkish envoy to Sweden. Writing to the New York Times in 1921, he says, “The Armenian atrocities perpetrated under the present regime surpass the savagery of Genghis Khan and Tamburlaine.” Dr E Lovejoy of the executive board of the American Women’s Hospital wrote to the Times, “I was the first American Red Cross woman in France, but what I saw there during the Great War seems a love feast beside the horrors of Smyrna. When I arrived at Smyrna there were massed on the quays 250,000 wretched, suffering and screaming women beaten and with their clothes torn off, families separated and everybody robbed.”

The problem is that guilt admission sometimes takes centuries. The Vatican has taken nearly 1,000 years to apologise for the Crusades. Even in Britain, particular archives from both world wars remain closed, so it should be no surprise that the Turks are equally secretive. Historian Ara Sarafian notes how Ottoman archives fail to detail “abandoned” private properties or any compensation paid to individuals for “resettlement”. He also details how “no such records have emerged on the actual ‘resettlement’ [a euphemism for death] of the hundreds of thousands of Armenians deported during this period”. As recently as 1990, Turkey’s ambassador to the US, Nuzhet Kandemir, claimed the Armenian deaths were, “a result of a tragic civil war initiated by Armenian nationalists”.

Public Armenian protest did not emerge until the 60s. Until then, survivors were too busy picking up their lives to start retribution claims. When recognition of the Jewish holocaust gradually filtered into the popular imagination in the 70s and 80s, the Armenians felt that their story was being upstaged, especially as constant Turkish denial helped bleach out the facts.

In the late 70s and early 80s, the Armenian liberation army (ASALA) assassinated Turkish diplomats to focus media attention on the Armenian holocaust. In July 1983, a Turkish diplomat was killed in Brussels. In Paris, six people died and 48 were wounded when a bomb exploded in front of the Turkish Airlines’ check-in desk at Orly airport. ASALA killed 39 diplomats in a decade. Many of the gunmen were trained in Libya and had Palestinian connections. The Armenians have, at different times, identified with both Palestinians and Jews.

At a conference held in Lausanne in 1983, 200 Armenians met to discuss the creation of an independent Armenian state in northeastern Turkey; a country that might extend into Soviet Armenia. These Armenians described themselves as “something halfway between the World Jewish Congress and the Palestine National Council”. Their dream may have seemed utopian, but the idea of a Jewish homeland also appeared unrealistic at the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897. Although the Lausanne conference did not lead to direct political action, the assassinations stopped. Since then, the battle for who writes Armenian history has intensified, and the Armenians are beginning to gain ground.

In 1985, the UN Committee on Human Rights published a report declaring the Ottoman Empire responsible for the massacres of the Armenians in 1915 and 1916. Two years later, the Council of Europe agreed that Turkey’s refusal to recognise the holocaust was an insurmountable obstacle to Turkey’s admission to the EU. By the end of 2000, the European Parliament, France, Sweden, the Vatican and Italy finally acknowledged the Armenian holocaust. Of the major powers, only the US, Canada and Britain still hold back. There are too many conflicting interests at stake. Turkey, for instance, threatened to deny the US use of its air bases if President Clinton agreed formally to accept the massacres as a holocaust.

Perhaps the Armenians’ best hope is allegiance with the Jews, who have learnt the importance of stubbornly pursuing justice. They certainly have Jewish allies. But Jewish solidarity is not always certain. Turkey is one of Israel’s few Muslim allies and the Israeli state has not wanted to alienate the Turks. Enlightened Jews in the diaspora are less circumspect. In 1988, the Israeli Knesset signed a statement acknowledging the Armenian massacres during the first world war without mentioning Turkey, whereas in the US the Jewish Reform movement condemned the Ottoman Turks for “one of the most shameful events in history”.

Recently, Israeli political priorities have shifted. Since the current intifada, the Israeli/ Palestinian struggle for Jerusalem has intensified. Israelis have traditionally appreciated Turkey’s support, but they may now need Armenian sympathy even more: a sixth of non-Jewish, non-Arab Jerusalem is in Armenian hands.

Israel’s internal power shifts also change the perspective. In 1989, rightwing prime minister Yitzhak Shamir called the commemoration of the Armenian holocaust “not our business”. The Israeli left is usually more sensitive. The Jerusalem Post is highly critical of Turkey’s holocaust denial: “Turkey should be advised that the attempt by the old Ottoman rulers back in 1915 to make the ‘traitorous’ Armenians into authors of their own misfortune does not serve well as the basis of contemporary relations.” Jewish historians are alert to the fact that the murder of Armenians was helped by German officers and that Hitler saw the Armenian holocaust as an inspiration for the Final Solution. They also know that denying the Armenian massacres is only one small step away from denying the destruction of the Jews.

In 1995, Israel’s education minister, Ammon Rubinstein, wanted to include the Armenian holocaust in the school curriculum. But this was rejected by Hebrew University historian Michel Abithol and other “experts”, who declared the Ottoman critique “one-sided”. Armenian historians counter-attack: “Is there another side to Hitler who gassed the Jews?” Some Israelis are reluctant to ally themselves publicly, fearing that an emphasis on the Armenian holocaust might detract from the uniqueness of the Jewish holocaust, as if there is some crazy competition about who suffered the most.

For the Turks, the problem is enormous. An acknowledgement of the Armenian holocaust might result in land claims and reparations. They have only to look at recent German and Swiss history to take fright. It is no surprise, then, that they try to control who writes history. Turkey has offered funding for academic programmes in the universities of Princeton and Georgetown. Three years ago, UCLA’s history department voted to reject a $1m offer to endow a programme in Turkish and Ottoman studies because it was conditional on their denying the Armenian holocaust. Professor Colin Tatz, director for the Centre for Comparative Holocaust Studies at Macquarie University, in Sydney, Australia, claims that Turkey has used “a mix of academic sophistication and diplomatic thuggery . . . to put both memory and history into reverse gear”.

The argument over who controls history continues, even on the internet. In August, the Turkish government tried to suppress a Microsoft online encyclopedia entry. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Turkish government threatened Microsoft with serious reprisals unless all mention of the Armenian holocaust was removed. Authors Ronald Grigor Suny and Helen Fein refused to give in.

As for Jews in Turkey, their history has been easier than that of their cousins in Christian countries. Certainly, they have reason to be grateful to a land that welcomed them after expulsion by the 1492 Spanish Inquisition. Turkish Jews were a large pre-war minority in Turkey who felt a natural sympathy with Armenians. In the larger cities, both were considered a privileged, educated elite who, together with the Greeks, succeeded in business, culture and politics. They also had reason to thank their host country in the second world war.

Sixty-five-year-old Turkish Jewish novelist, Moris Farhi, now lives in London. He learnt about the Armenian holocaust when his family was living in Ankara and they took in two penniless survivors from the death marches. Farhi remembers, “an apocryphal story that Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state, was a Jew, as he was born in the very Jewish city of Salonika. In 1933, Ataturk offered asylum to Jews and leftwingers persecuted by Hitler. Thousands came to Turkey.”

But under Ismet Inonu’s government in 1942, a new crippling wealth tax was imposed on non-Muslims. Farhi’s father was breaking stones in a workcamp as punishment for his inability to pay these astronomical taxes. Despite family poverty, Farhi remembers never being hungry as food was offered by sympathetic neighbours.

The majority of Turks remained ignorant of the holocaust while it was happening, and have since. Mehmet Ergen, a 34-year-old London-based Turkish theatre director, confirms, “In our Turkish schools we never learnt about our history. The Armenian massacre was never mentioned. In London I heard that the Kurds were told that if they killed the Armenians they could take their lands. So they did, and then the Turks killed the Kurds.” Ergen, a multiculturalist, laments Turkey’s denial of “its own historical mosaic”. He says, “even Turkish theatre owes its birth to Armenian writers and actors. Armenian, Greek and Jewish culture has vanished, and Turkey is the loser.”

If the holocaust is now a central focus for Armenians, is this dangerous? Surely to fixate on disaster defines a people through destruction rather than achievement: as if the holocaust, Jewish or Armenian, becomes a new quasi religion. The majority of Jews and Armenians are not religious. They do not live in Israel or Armenia. If they don’t adhere to their faith, then what makes them Jews or Armenians, particularly when so many are marrying out? These two holocausts remain like a terrible icon dominating the present as well as the past.

The problem is that there has been no proper mourning. As psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor Bruno Bettelheim said, a people cannot move on if it has not buried its dead. And the Armenians, as well as the Jews, had no bodies to bury. Therefore the unmourned are carried around in the psyches of the survivors and transmitted to children and grandchildren rather like ghosts. Sometimes the survivors are guilty of reconstructing so quickly that they forget to mourn. Israel’s choice of Modern Hebrew as the new language for the new Jews and its total abnegation of Yiddish was expedient. It was a deliberate act to end the stereotype of the Yiddish-speaking ghetto Jew forced into the gas chamber. But the loss of the language has also meant the assassination of a wealthy culture. Two generations have already lost their grandparents’ Yiddish heritage. In contrast, the Armenians have carried their language with them into the diaspora as a deliberate act of resistance.

Ani King-Underwood, a Beirut-born Armenian documentary film-maker, still owns the deeds to her family’s Turkish property. Her mother was 40 days old when the family left during the deportations with Nansen papers (Fridtjof Nansen was a Norwegian diplomat, explorer and 1922 Nobel peace prize winner, a kind of early Raoul Wallenberg, who provided an escape for 300,000 Armenians using League of Nations documents). The British refused Ani’s family entry into Palestine or Egypt, but finally permitted them to live in camps on Cyprus. Her 23-year-old law student son, Gregory, has an English father but is a fluent Armenian speaker. He takes an active part in the Armenian community and promotes the young Armenians’ website, www. hokis.co.uk. Here, the group RBO Unlimited have produced a rap song about the holocaust.

Living here, does he feel a dual allegiance? “Very much so. I am a British Armenian, but perhaps more British. I play rugby. I drink beer. I’m proud of being British. It’s multicultural.” So what does being Armenian mean? “Armenia is not a nation. It’s a culture. It’s an idea in our heads.” His mother interjects. “When he was a baby, I had him baptised. Not as a Christian but as an Armenian.”

Secular Jews and Armenians both fuse religion with cultural identity but, even if they share the trauma of holocaust, this does not automatically lead to solidarity. Are Armenians sometimes jealous of Jews? “Yes,” says Gregory, “the Jews have been very good at marketing the holocaust. And it is a good thing.” Synthesising the argument historically, Gregory says, “the problem is that the British were fighting the Nazis. Some liberated Belsen. They saw what was done to the Jews. But no outsider liberated us. The only people who know about the Armenian holocaust are the Armenians and the Turks.”

Clearly, the victims of both atrocities seek atonement from the murder state. German guilt-admission makes it easier for Jews to talk to Germans and even to work together. The process has to be gone through psychotherapeutically, by discussion and confrontation.

Then there is always revenge. In 1921, the Ottoman Hitler, Talaat Pasha, was assassinated by the Armenian Soghomon Tehlirian in Berlin. The agent of retribution was released on grounds of temporary insanity and lived out his days as a hero in the Armenian paradise of California. There were similar murders of former Ottoman leaders in Rome and Tbilisi, Georgia. In March 1943, Talaat Pasha’s remains were sent by Hitler from Berlin as a gift to the Turkish government. They were reinterred on Turkey’s Hill of Liberty in a ceremony attended by the representatives of Hitler’s ambassador to Turkey. Although Armenians are Christians, they are not turning the other cheek.

Reverend Dr Nerses Nersessian, an Iranian-born Armenian scholar and priest, is the curator of the Hebrew and Christian Middle East section at the British Library. His Christian name is Vrej, a very popular first name for boys. Vrej means “revenge”.

Turkish-born Armenian author, Agop Hacikyan has written A Summer Without Dawn. The book is based on the experiences of his grandparents, who fled to Jerusalem during the holocaust before returning to Turkey in 1920. In 1955, Hacikyan was called up and spent 18 months in Izmir as a translator between the Turkish Port Detachment and Nato. As a soldier in uniform, he remembers stopping to go to the public toilet. Looking down, he saw that the urinal had been constructed from Armenian gravestones. Forty years after the mass murders, Turks were happily making people urinate on Armenian graves. He now lives in Canada, which has a large Armenian community. Here, there are very few – shamefully, only 200 Armenians were allowed to immigrate to Britain between the wars, whereas France absorbed 63,000.

As the century ended, the Armenian Shoah seemed to fade out of public consciousness. There seemed to be just too many holocausts to absorb.


Vengeance is mine, sayeth the flat earth supporter

March 13, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Just a moment or two thinking about the glories of the past.

I once lived in a nice, upper middle class town.

One of its inhabitants was a Jewish gentleman who happened to be a senior police official in that town.

He had heard that I was a collector of German helmets so, ipso facto, I must be a vicious Nazi Jew-hater.

With this motivation, he began to harass me.

I rather did not like being harassed.

I read in the local paper an article about his wife’s wonderful, jewel-like rock garden, the joy of her life and something she was deeply attached to.

Also, a bit later, I read in the same paper that both she and her husband were going on a vacation to visit her mother in some distant place.

When the same newspaper, which I personally would have used to line a cat box with, told me there was a heavy rain expected in the next day, an idea occurred to me.

Later that evening I walked over to their house, only three blocks from my own. On my back was a pack containing a big bag of rock salt and a smaller bag with roofing nails.

Their house was dark when I walked up the drive and into the back yard, wherein lay the famed rock garden.

In a half an hour, I had salted the entire area and on the way down the driveway, I tossed out random handfuls of roofing nails onto its surface.

And then I chanced to notice a garden hose coiled up on a drum on their front porch.

I connected one end of the hose to a faucet on the front wall of the house and stuck the other end into a mail slot on their front door. Turning on the water full force, I finished my evening stroll by going home and taking a nice hot shower.

Later that night, there was heavy rain.

I was not around when my targets returned from their visit but I was able to construct a reasonably accurate scenario from brief observations, comments from neighbors and articles in the local paper.

First, a gentle crunching sound as they drove over the roofing nails.

Then they noticed water running down their front steps and onto the lawn.

Putting their bags down on the dry part of the walk, they went up on the porch where the husband noted the hose stuck in his mail slot.

I understand this short-tempered and foul-mouthed man was loud in his comments.

He turned the water off but for some reason, probably tons of water behind it, the front door would not open.

He shoved it hard and it opened enough to permit a huge wave to pour out, drenching his legs and feet and those of his wife and soaking his luggage.

The police and fire departments were called on his car radio.

The fire department came and later brought in a pumping vehicle to get more water out of the fully-flooded basement.

What I did not know was that they had lovingly turned their cellar into a wonderful area for relaxation and enjoyment.

A pity that her sewing room and his memory room containing his family pictures and military service awards and pictures, along with the billiard table, carpets, furniture, heating and air conditioning units were all ruined.

The furniture had been floating, bumping against the ceiling, and upstairs there was even more desolation and ruin.

The flooring, the carpets, the lower extremities of the furniture, the linoleum, all the wallboard and many other features of their house were soaked through and essentially ruined.

Also, as an added attraction, the entire house was full of mold.

They had to live in a motel for three months while the insurance company had the house almost completely rebuilt inside but the real jewel in the crown of anguish happened the day after the return.

Wanting to water her plants, the wife drove back to the ruined house and the neighbors said her shrieks of anguish as she viewed the total destruction of her precious plantings and she could be heard for miles.

It took two months to repair the water damage and when the hysterical wife replanted the flowers, she did not change the salt-soaked earth with the result that within a week, all again was death and destruction.

But this was not the end of my tale.

Her father died and she inherited money so she and her husband, who was still searching for the vandal, or vandals, who had destroyed their abode, moved out of town to a neighboring and very expensive other town.

A pity for them the local paper reported this, for more joy and happiness became their reward.

The new house, a colonial place at the end of cul-de-sac on a quiet and exclusive street was my next target.

Someone, apparently from the local newspaper, called the wife and told her they were going to do an article in the paper on their new house and would she and her husband be at home the following Saturday?

And could their gardening editor view the new rock garden?

She was delighted to invite them.

I came too on that Saturday, sitting in the back of a panel truck belonging to a local plumber whose son, a friend, was driving.

My, my, about nine in the morning, instead of respectful reporters, hundreds of people to include plumbers, electricians, pool salesmen, painters, driveway renewers, furniture salesmen, Chinese dinner preparers, insurance salesmen, tree trimmers, people seeking work via inserted articles in many local papers, funeral homes, pet groomers, various religious organizations, attorneys, and landscape gardeners were jamming into the narrow street in response to many, many phone calls I had made earlier.

The rampant confusion, noise, rage and destruction was more precious to me than a well-performed Bach cantata.

The peaceful area was turned into something depicted by Bosch and irate people, unable to negotiate the jammed lane, took to driving across well-groomed lawns, murdering stone lawn dwarves, flowerbeds, fences and lamp posts in their desperate attempts to get back on the main roads.

And at the height of the frenzies, some friend called not only the fire department to report a serious house fire, but the local police to report a murder and three ambulance firms to request aid for a heart attack victim.

I can tell you, sitting in the van, that the loud bellowing of sirens, the smashing noises as vehicles collided, the crunch of defenseless fences, the screaming and cursing of violated neighbors whose lawns looked like the battle of the Somme had taken place there, was something that once heard could never be forgotten.

Subsequently, the wife divorced her husband, partially because her beloved Siamese, Mr. Wong, was run over and flattened by an insurance salesman trying to drive across her back lawn in a vain effort to escape the boiling turmoil.

The police official left the employment of the local police department, after he got out of the clinic where he had spent two weeks recovering from the outrageous events.

The violated neighbors sued the both of them for damages but at that point, I had more or less lost interest in them and had gone on to other things.

The motto here is that no one is safe from some people and that it is an excellent idea to avoid these people and their ire.

And there is no defense against such attacks, is there?





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