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TBR News May 18, 2016

May 18 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. May 18, 2016: “On the Internet we can see an article (on BBC News) about an enormous new cruise ship. The text informs us:

 Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, is the world’s largest and newest cruise ship

The vessel, which was built in St Nazaire, France, is 362 metres long,


The ship has 18 decks (16 of which are available to guests) and 24 elevators The ship can carry a maximum of 6,780 passengers and a crew of 2,100.

The ship is 227,000 gross registered tons – a measure of volume, not weight – and is 65.7 metres wide.

This enormous floating hotel could prove to be a happy hunting ground for Muslim terrorists in that if they planted a bomb in the hold and it detonated at sea, the ship, which is not compartmented like a warship, could founder quickly and the death toll would be tremendous. This is an example of the thought processes of the terrorist and while to date, there has been no IS attack inside the United States, such an attack is long overdue.”


The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

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

His name was Heinrich Müller.

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

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

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

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

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

. Friday, 12 August 1949.

My spies in the house tell me that I. is having an intense affair with Heini. I notice that he looks very embarrassed these days but I am doing my best to cheer him up. First, he gets chess lessons from a master and then I give him a few books to entertain himself with. Not French books with pictures of women in suspender belts but to start out with, the Hoffer book, “The True Believer.” He has a quick mind but from the noises reported to me yesterday, is slow enough in the bedroom. I. told me today how much she really loved me, which means that her bed is still damp.

Major elections in Germany tomorrow. Let us see what happens but the outcome will never be in doubt.

I received a very nice note from Mrs.(Maxwell Peter, ed.) Miller, now the head of the “Washington Times-Herald.” I had met her at a party after her uncle, (Robert Rutherford, ed.) McCormack, who publishes a very conservative paper, the Chicago “Tribune” had bought the paper and allowed her to run it.

M., who likes to be known as “Colonel” just as Hoover was once called, was here and I had the chance to talk with him. An imposing man and I have read copies of his paper. My father-in-law was also a newspaper publisher but on a far smaller scale. I had a nice talk with the Colonel and his niece is a social and pleasant person as well. Last week I had a brief note from M. thanking me for my views on the situation in Europe which “so closely mirrored” his own views.

Always tell them what they want to hear. It makes it easier if you actually believe what you are saying.

Saturday, 13 August 1949.

Very nasty weather here today. Extremely hot and humid and it rained again. It is like going into a bathroom after someone has taken a very hot bath. Clothes stick to one and poor Maxl pants at the foot of my bed like he had a lung disease. This house is very solid but I am thinking of escaping the heat by going out to Colorado again.

Sunday, 14 August 1949

To Mass in the morning. I made I. go as well. She seems to be having some kind of an emotional crisis over her relationship with my chief guard. I spoke with him about this and he knows that not only do I know everything but entirely approve of his taking her off my hands. That conference went off quite well and he got some practical advice from me as well as a good cigar and a glass of my best cognac. He wants to get out of the Army as his term is due to expire so I told him I would hire him at double his current wages on the condition that he keeps I. happy. Such a face! But then a good laugh was had by all. An interesting sort of ménage here.

The CDU won in the election. No surprise there. The big dock strike in Hawaii was ended by their governor when he took control of the dock area and threw out the union men.

It now looks as if I can go to Colorado for a few weeks as I have caught up with my back work. I will take Maxl and permission for this will not be impossible for the railroad people to grant me. After all, I will have most of a sleeping car for my people and myself. That sort of money does have an effect. The government will pay for half of this and I the rest. Two more very good checks on the sale of the last batch of paintings do not injure my fiscal standing.

  1. asked if she could come along and I said yes. Such joy in her face. I have assigned her a compartment right next to Heini and they have connecting doors. Am I not such a thoughtful person after all?

The House will be in recess from the 25th of this month until the end of September and everyone is fleeing this hothouse. If not skiing, perhaps I can climb a mountain or two.


Note: While Müller was on vacation, he kept a rough journal and one incident of interest will be set forth here. The rest of his notes dealt with expenses, hotels he stayed in, meals consumed and small items of gossip.



An interesting but alarming incident yesterday. I was in the lounge of the hotel when I noticed a man staring at me. I saw him when I looked in a mirror on the wall of the bar. I did not recognize the man but it appeared that he either knew me or thought he did.

I told Arno to get Heini and have him check the person out. It turns out that this man, a refugee from Berlin, said to Heini that he was “absolutely certain” that I was a big Nazi. Heini showed him his U.S. papers and told the man that I was an important Swiss government official and that the man was wrong. Nevertheless, he persisted in whining about me and wanted to tell someone about this.

He said he had once seen me in Berlin but Heini made little of this and assured the man that he was wrong.

I told him to have the man watched and to get the hotel telephone operator to block any outgoing calls this man attempted to make. It was just as well that I implemented this because I was told just after dinner that the man had tried repeatedly to call the offices of the FBI in Denver but was told that the lines were down.

Arno was told what to do and so then the next morning, this poor man was found dead in his bed by a terrified maid. He had obviously had a heart attack in the night and had also made a terrible mess in the bed when he died. Arno said the man thought he was an FBI agent before he got the injection and A. took away all of the man’s notes. He did not know who I was but this kind can make trouble. Now he is at peace and the hotel can replace the mattress and the bedding.

Heini obviously knew what happened but said nothing, only winked at me over breakfast in my rooms when we got the unfortunate and tragic news. I must say, he is coming along very well indeed. I asked him over grapefruit if he planned to marry I. and he made a face.

It was either the grapefruit or I. and it turned out to be me. He enjoyed a good time, he said, but not marriage so soon.

I can agree with the attitude. Why should you spend all your time with one when there are so many interesting and exciting others to explore and exploit? Or should I not say, “exploit?” Women certainly exploit us and I told Heini that certainly she would want him to marry her. No doubt at all about that. She wouldn’t have dared to try that old game with me…she knew better, but she will with him. American citizenship is very important to some people.

I will become one soon enough and now I am to have a special rank in the Army to give me access. Another uniform to wear. If it were anything like my old uniform, it would hang in the closet except for state occasions. I do not like uniforms.


Saturday, 24 September 1949

“Ut quis ex longinquo revenerat, miracula narrabant”

(When one returns from distant parts, they had wonderful things to tell, ed.)

Great surprises while I was gone. I saw it in the press but Washington is in an uproar. It seems Josef has set off his own atomic bomb! The American Air Force detected the radiation from it. I suspect Comrade Josef did this while Washington was empty so as to gain some breathing room.

Of course as stupid as the Russians are, the only way they could have built such a bomb is through the activities of their agents in the AEC. I have spoken very strongly about this before but now, perhaps someone will listen. Pash said that the whole project was full of refugees, mostly German Jews, most of whom were communists and sent information to Russia on a daily basis.

Some of this was sent by radio, as I know from my own intercepts of the Soviet spy messages, and the rest, including actual equipment, was sent in the diplomatic bag on the Halifax convoys. And all of this with Roosevelt’s at least tacit consent! Well, now the Americans will pay for Roosevelt’s treason.

And what about the British? We know that they too are spying on us and what they have, the Russians have and vice versa. I have no idea why we wish to cooperate with those moral bankrupts in London and if I can ever get my way, we will cut off our flow of information to them.

There are programs now in place wherein we here share our intelligence knowledge with London and they are supposed to share their intelligence with us. Except that they don’t, but I strongly believe they share our material with Stalin! More on this later.

It actually looks like the New York trials will be over soon. The defense lawyers have finished their case. There was an attempt to nail down (Paul, ed.) Robeson but (Judge Harold S., ed.) Medina kept him from testifying. R. is marked down for future action.

Interesting call this evening. A Dr. (Frank, ed.) Graham, professor of economics at Princeton and a man in whom we have had some interest, fell off the top of the football stadium. Will these gravity experiments never cease? Will no one pity the poor workers who have to clean up the messes left when certain people decide to take up flying without wings? Icarus may have had some luck but none of these seem to. Again I ask, why not the heart attack? The Americans keep throwing people out of windows. Or off of stadiums. Absolutely no imagination whatsoever.

Wisner tells me that Large Otto (Otto Skorzeny, ed.) will be coming over here soon for conferences. They are still working on ‘Bartholomew ‘(the U.S. plan to assassinate leading communists in Europe in the event of a Soviet invasion, ed.) and he is to be involved. I was once but I managed to get out of it quickly. It will be interesting to meet him again. He is rather basic but interesting. I wonder if he will be bringing (Karl, ed.) Radl (his SS aide during the war, ed.) with him? Karl is the one with the brains. We used to call him Otto’s nursemaid.

Wisner is using all kinds of really terrible Eastern European murderers in his CIA and I, who certainly know about their murderous activities during the war, have constantly warned against this practice. Also, Wisner is trying to stir up all manner of revolution in Stalin’s empire and this simply will not work. The CIA dupes they sent into the east are either betrayed to their death from some leak or would be instantly killed by Stalin the moment they tried any kind of resistance.

By the time he’s through, Wisner will have an ocean of blood to swim in.






From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 44

May 17, 2016


Department of Defense procedures for collecting biometric data are presented in a newly updated manual, which also provides some insight into the military and intelligence applications of such data.

“Biometrics are the measurable physical and behavioral characteristics that can establish and verify an individual’s identity,” the manual explains.

“Operators currently collect facial images, fingerprints, iris images, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples, palm prints, voice samples and associated contextual data (i.e. elements of biographic data and situational information) from individuals encountered during operations.”

The data are stored in multiple databases, including the Biometric Identity Intelligence Resource, or BI2R. That system “is designed to provide the DOD, intelligence community, and coalition communities with authoritative, high-pedigree, biometrically base-lined identities, and advanced tools and technologies necessary to analyze, collaborate, produce, disseminate, and share biometric identity intelligence.”

See Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Tactical Employment of Biometrics in Support of Operations, ATP 2-22.85, May 2016.

The challenges of mountain warfare are explored in another newly updated doctrinal manual. Mountainous terrain and cold weather can “negate U.S. technological advantages in information collection and firepower.” And 16 of 20 “states of interest” identified as potential areas of instability have regions with elevations greater than 8,000 feet. A chapter of the manual discusses the “specific effects of mountainous environments on intelligence operations.”  See Mountain Warfare and Cold Weather Operations, ATP 3-90.97, U.S. Army, April 2016.

Intelligence support for space operations is addressed in a new U.S. Air Force publication. “Intelligence roles within the space domain encompass multiple mission areas with varied and unique mission needs,” including defensive and offensive space control. See Space Unit Intelligence Procedures, Air Force Instruction 14-2SPACE, May 12, 2016.

“Offensive space control” means “the negation of adversary space capabilities through deception, disruption, denial, degradation, or destruction.” The most expansive official discussion of the subject may be this 2012 Air Force document (which is part of an Air Force annex to JP 3-14 on Space Operations).


In a worst-case scenario, the United States could be left without a launch vehicle needed to deploy national security space payloads within the next several years.

The ongoing turbulence within national security space policy is reviewed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See National Security Space Launch at a Crossroads, May 13, 2016.

Other new and updated CRS reports include the following.

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909), May 12, 2016

The Nunn-McCurdy Act: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2016

Presidential References to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Publicly Available Executive Actions and Reports to Congress, May 11, 2016

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, updated May 13, 2016

“Sense of” Resolutions and Provisions, updated May 16, 2016


Senate passes bill allowing Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia

May 17, 2016

by Patricia Zengrele


The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow survivors and relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks to file lawsuits seeking damages against the government of Saudi Arabia.

The legislation, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, passed in the Senate by unanimous voice vote.

If it passes the House of Representatives and is signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama, JASTA would allow lawsuits to proceed in federal court in New York as lawyers try to prove that the Saudis were involved in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The Saudis deny any involvement.


The truth isn’t that out there: Aliens existed in the past – study

May 17, 2016


When discussing intelligent life forms not found on Earth, questions and theories tend to focus on whether or not they currently exist. However, new research shows that it is almost impossible for humans to be the only intelligent life forms ever.

In a study published late last month, empirical evidence shows the likelihood of humans being the only intelligent life form in the history of the universe as ten-billion-trillion to one. That is a one followed by 34 zeros. The odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot are 292 million to one, according to the Boston Globe.

To give you an even better idea, the odds of being hit by pieces of satellite debris falling from space are one in twenty-one trillion. That means you’re 476,190,476,190,476,190,476.2 times more likely to be hit by satellite debris from space than be a part of the only intelligent species ever anywhere.

How this number game started is an interesting story. Researchers Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan of the University of Rochester and the University of Washington, respectively, took a look at the Drake equation, which was created by a scientist named Frank Drake in 1961 as a mathematical approach to determining if we are alone in the universe, Newsweek reported.

However, Frank and Sullivan figured out that if you change the question, you can get a different answer. Instead of asking if we are the only intelligent life form in the universe, they decided to look at whether we have been the only intelligent life in the universe.

By using data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, the two researchers were able to create a new equation that uses the knowledge that “roughly one-fifth of stars have planets in ‘habitable zones,’ where temperatures could support life as we know it,” as Frank explained in a statement.

That data led them to the final conclusion that the odds of Earth being the only intelligent planet are one in ten-billion-trillion. The scientific approach to investigating other sources of life could change as a result of their findings.

Frank explained in the press release, “before our result you’d be considered a pessimist if you imagined the probability of evolving a civilization on a habitable planet was, say, one in a trillion. But even that guess, one chance in a trillion, implies that what has happened here on Earth with humanity has in fact happened about 10 billion other times over cosmic history.”


Privatizing America’s Public Land

How the Raid on Malheur Screened a Future Raid on Real Estate

by William deBuys


It goes without saying that in a democracy everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions. The trouble starts when people think they are also entitled to their own facts.

Away out West, on the hundreds of millions of acres of public lands that most Americans take for granted (if they are aware of them at all), the trouble is deep, widespread, and won’t soon go away. Last winter’s armed take-over and 41-day occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon is a case in point. It was carried out by people who, if they hadn’t been white and dressed as cowboys, might have been called “terrorists” and treated as such. Their interpretation of the history of western lands and of the judicial basis for federal land ownership — or at least that of their leaders, since they weren’t exactly a band of intellectuals — was only loosely linked to reality.

At least some of them took inspiration from the notion that Jesus Christ wrote the Constitution (which would be news to the Deists, like James Madison, who were its actual authors) and that it prohibits federal ownership of any land excepting administrative sites within the United States — a contention that more than two centuries of American jurisprudence has emphatically repudiated.

The troubling thing is that similar delusions infect pockets of unrest throughout the West, lending a kind of twisted legitimacy to efforts at both the state and national level to transfer western public lands to states and counties. To be sure, not all the proponents of this liquidation of America’s national patrimony subscribe to wing-nut doctrines; sometimes they just use them.

Greed can suffice to motivate those who lust for the real estate bonanzas and resource giveaways that would result if states gained title to, say, the 264 million acres presently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). General combativeness and hostility toward government also play their roles, and the usual right-wing mega-donors, including the Koch brothers, pump money into a bewildering array of agitator groups to help keep the fires of resentment burning.

The louder the drum chant of crazy “facts” gets, the more the Alice-in-Wonderland logic behind them threatens to seize the popular narrative about America’s public lands — how they came to be and what they represent.  This, in turn, prepares the way for the betrayal of one of the nation’s deepest traditions and for the loss of yet more of its natural heritage. Conversely, those who value American public lands have been laggard in articulating an updated vision for those open spaces appropriate to the twenty-first century and capable of expressing what the unsettled “fruited plains” and “purple mountain majesties” of the West still mean for our national experience and our capacity to meet the challenges of the future.

The Malice at Malheur

The leaders of the Malheur occupation, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are the sons of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher and public lands scofflaw who gained notoriety two years ago following a standoff with federal law enforcement officers. Back in the 1990s, the elder Bundy had stopped paying grazing fees, claiming that the federal government had no authority to regulate the public lands where his cattle fed. In 2014, with Bundy $1.1 million in arrears and his grazing permits transferred to the local county government, the Bureau of Land Management moved to round up and confiscate his 400 head of cattle.

Via social media, Bundy appealed to militia and “patriot” groups for support, and hundreds of armed resisters rallied to his ranch 90 miles north of Las Vegas. When the ensuing showdown threatened to become a bloodbath like the Waco siege of 1993, the authorities withdrew.

The government’s retreat and its failure to arrest members of the Bundy family or their allies for acts of armed resistance set the stage for the Malheur takeover, but the roots of the incident go back to the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and 1980s and the Wise Use Movement that succeeded it. The Sagebrush Rebellion was triggered by a national inventory of public lands to identify areas appropriate for designation as “wilderness” (under the National Wilderness Preservation System).  Its advocates also protested the enforcement of government protections for archaeological sites and endangered species. Wise Use groups echoed those complaints and essentially argued against anything the environmental movement was for, urging the amped-up exploitation of natural resources on western lands.

Ammon Bundy put his own rogue-Mormon spin on that message by claiming divine inspiration and sanction for his actions. Ostensibly, the Malheur occupation was intended to show support for nearby ranchers Dwight and Stephen Hammond, who faced jail terms for setting illegal range fires (and who immediately distanced themselves from the occupation). But Bundy didn’t stop there. He called on “patriots all over the country” to join his cause and help “free up” federal land for ranching, mining, and logging, pointedly adding, “We need you to bring your guns.”

Malheur was an odd place for white guys to make a stand in favor of “returning” federal land to its “rightful owners” — that is, themselves. The refuge was established in 1908 when Teddy Roosevelt declared a modest area of public domain to be a wildlife refuge. If anyone then occupied the land, it was members of the Burns Paiute tribe, not white settlers. In the 1930s, the refuge expanded when the government bought the bankrupt remnants of a former cattle baron’s empire. At the time, Malheur was its own mini-Dust Bowl. The purchase, which enlarged protection for once-fabulous wetlands supporting thousands of migrating birds, was essentially a bailout.

The people who joined the Bundys in the Malheur occupation were a strange lot. Few had any relationship to ranching or actual cows, aside from sitting down to eat a hamburger. Some were ex-military; others claimed to be (but weren’t). Quite a few had links to Tea Party groups or to “patriot” organizations including the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, and an assortment of other militia outfits. One described himself as “an old hippie from San Francisco,” jazzed by the excitement of the occupation and uncaring about its purposes. He also happened to be a convicted murderer (second degree) — of his father.

Straight thinking was not a requirement for admission to the occupiers’ cause. The fellow who photogenically rode his horse around the refuge while displaying a large American flag, for example, turned out to be acutely concerned lest the federal government divest itself of public lands. He feared the loss of access to cherished places where he liked to ride his horse. Because of that, he joined an armed effort aimed at forcing the government to do exactly what he didn’t want. Go figure.

Following the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, the Malheur occupier who committed suicide-by-cop at a roadblock on January 26th, the occupation unraveled. At last count, the Bundy brothers and 24 others had been arrested and charged with a laundry list of crimes, including conspiracy to prevent federal employees from carrying out their duties and destruction of public property. All but one or two of them are still in jail.

Nor did the feds stop there. They finally nabbed Cliven Bundy at an airport after he attended a memorial service for Finicum, and also charged 18 others in connection with the 2014 Nevada standoff. Some of the 18 were already in custody for their involvement at Malheur. Bundy’s illegal cattle, which the government unsuccessfully tried to confiscate in 2014, remain at large.

More Mad Cowboy Disease in Utah

Despite the government’s thorough, if belated, crackdown, the hostility toward public lands on display at Malheur has hardly been contained. Such resentments are of a piece with the anger suffusing the presidential campaigns, although paradoxically enough Donald Trump has spoken out in favor of retaining federal lands. (Ted Cruz, by contrast, campaigned against Trump in Nevada by promising to “fight day and night to return full control of Nevada’s lands to its rightful owners, its citizens.”)

The darkest side of this “movement” is undoubtedly its well-documented association with armed militia groups and their persistent threat of violence. Gunmen from the Oath Keepers, for instance, obstructed federal officials from shutting down mines violating environmental regulations in both Oregon and Montana.  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the current, rapid growth of militia groups is unprecedented and appears to have been spurred by the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch. Notices for “meet-ups” among “patriots” to show support for the incarcerated Bundys and the “martyred” Finicum are abundant on social media.

A similar virus has infected several western state legislatures, including those of Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, and Nevada. Representative Michele Fiore, who hovered at the fringes of the Malheur occupation, for instance, introduced a bill in the Nevada legislature to transfer federal lands there to state control, irrespective of federal wishes. Considered patently unconstitutional, it was quickly dismissed. A Nevada senate resolution calling on Washington D.C. to initiate action to transfer those lands received more serious consideration.

The game is being played more cagily in Utah. There, lawmakers approved legislation in March that authorized and partly funded the state’s attorney general to sue the federal government for title to approximately 30 million acres of Utah public lands. The suit would pursue strategies advanced via a study produced by a New Orleans law firm outlining “legitimate legal theories” that, it contended, might lead to the wholesale transfer of lands to the state.

The expected cost of the litigation has been estimated at $14 million and Utah has sought allies among other western states. So far, they’ve found no takers willing to join the suit, possibly because other attorneys general have concluded that the legal theories behind it are rubbish.

Utah has also exported its anti-federalism to Capitol Hill. One of its congressmen, Rob Bishop, currently chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and sympathetically held hearings in February on several bills, introduced by representatives from Alaska, Idaho, and Utah, that would place federal lands under state control. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska and chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has promoted similar bills in the Senate.

Hanging on to “the Solace of Open Spaces”

Lost among the headlines, sound bites, and posturing is any serious discussion of America’s public lands and their purposes. Ammon Bundy was completely correct, early in the occupation of Malheur, when he said, “This refuge is rightfully owned by the people.” His problem was that his definition of “people” only included people like him. The Burns Paiute tribe, whose ancestral homeland includes Malheur and whose sacred sites are protected by federal law, certainly did not figure into his plans. The thousands of annual visitors to Malheur, who appreciate its 320 bird species and other wildlife, and the millions more who support the National Wildlife Refuge System, also seem not to be the “people” Bundy had in mind. The same might be said for anyone attracted to the idea of intact natural landscapes and functioning ecosystems.

The greatest vulnerability of America’s public lands is that the millions of their rightful owners scarcely know they exist. Ask the average New Yorker what the Bureau of Land Management is, and the odds are that you’ll get a confused stare. Even many people in the West, who live close to those public lands, have trouble differentiating the National Parks from the National Forests, though those two classes of land are administered for substantially different purposes by two different government departments, Interior and Agriculture. Yet most people agree that the wild open spaces of the nation’s grandest landscapes constitute a collective treasure.

In essence, they are our national commons, our shared resource, not just for material goods, like timber, clean water, and minerals, but for recreation and inspiration. Seventy percent of all hunters are said to use public lands, and the percentages of birders, campers, hikers, and other recreationists must be at least as high. Public lands also help buffer us against the uncertainties of the future. Only public lands, for instance, spread unbroken over great enough distances to offer the connectedness that many plants and animals will require to adapt, to the extent possible, to a warming climate. Moreover, as the struggle to wean the economy away from fossil fuels continues, only public lands, with their unified federal ownership, are susceptible to the kind of sweeping shift in national energy policy necessary to “keep it in the ground.”

For all these reasons, the future of the nation’s 640 million acres of public lands deserves a more prominent place in our national discourse. The patterns of the past, emphasizing extractive, industrial uses of those lands, have long been in decline. An alternate path focused on restoration and biodiversity conservation has instead steadily gained traction, and indeed, its priorities — which include making room for endangered species — have inspired many of the objections of the Malheur occupiers.

Two things are certain: when large acreages of public domain are transferred to the states, significant portions of them end up being sold off to private interests. That creates a new kind of inequality that, in the natural world, parallels this era’s growing economic gap between rich and poor. It is an inequality of access to big, wild lands and to the ineffable something that Wyoming writer Gretel Ehrlich called the “solace of open spaces” and Pulitzer-winning novelist Wallace Stegner termed “the native home of hope.

Thanks to the great western commons, which the Bundys and their legislative champions would like to dismantle, all Americans still enjoy the freedom to roam on some of the most spectacular lands on the planet. That access and that connection have been part of the American experience from Plymouth Rock through the westward migration to the present day. It is part of what makes us Americans.

The Depression-era folksinger Woody Guthrie understood the issues attending the privatization of common land. He offered his opinion of them in the least sung verse of his most famous song:

“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me

Sign was painted, said: “Private Property”

But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —

This land was made for you and me.”


9/11 bill passes US Senate despite Saudi ‘warning’

May 17, 2016

BBC News

A bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government has passed a key hurdle in the US Senate.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) now moves to the House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister warned that the move could cause his government to withdraw US investments.

President Barack Obama said he will veto the bill, but a Democratic senator is “confident” he’d be overruled.

If it became law the legislation would allow victims’ families to sue any member of the government of Saudi Arabia thought to have played a role in any element of the attack.

Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Fifteen out of the nineteen hijackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens.

In 2004 the 9/11 Commission Report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation”.

A White House spokesman said President Obama had serious concerns about the bill, and it was difficult to imagine he would sign it into law.

It was sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives as well.

The 9/11 bill puts Congress on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has lobbied intensely against it.

The White House argues the legislation would remove the sovereign immunity that prevents lawsuits against governments, and could expose Americans to a legal backlash overseas.

For Congress, however, this is about fighting terrorism and pursuing justice for victims, and there is unusual bipartisan support for the bill. Some of its most outspoken supporters are Democrats who are confident that Congress has the necessary two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto.

There is no evidence to support claims that Saudi officials provided financial support to the hijackers, although some believe a classified section of the report into the 9/11 attacks might show otherwise.

But Congress is also playing to the strong emotions triggered by this dispute – the relative of a victim recently told the New York Times it was “stunning” to think the government would back the Saudis over its citizens. One suspects many Americans might agree.

Senator Schumer said: “Today the Senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of the victims of terror attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators even if it’s a country a nation accountable.

“It will serve as a deterrent and warning to any other nation who assists in terror attacks against American.”

He said he was confident the bill would be passed by a large margin in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denied it had threatened to sell its US bonds, which would pull billions of dollars from the US economy. “We said that a law like this is going to cause investor confidence to shrink,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Al-Jubeir said while attending a conference in Geneva. “Not just for Saudi Arabia, but for everybody”.

Last year an inmate in US custody, Zacarias Moussaoui, claimed that a Saudi prince had helped finance the attack that flew passenger planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

A fourth plane crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania.

Saudi Arabia had rejected the accusation from a “deranged criminal” with no credibility.

Berlin police seek carnival sexual assault suspects

Authorities in Berlin have issued arrest warrants for seven suspects after reported sexual assaults during the city’s Carnival of Cultures weekend. Eight women reported that they were molested during the event.

May 17, 2016


Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said on Tuesday that 11 criminal offences had been reported during the bank holiday weekend Carnival of Cultures event.

The victims included eight women who reported that they were sexually assaulted at the street festival, which ran from Friday to Monday.

“The women were touched on the private parts by the perpetrators, or surrounded by a group and touched in that way,” said Neuendorf.

The spokesman said 12 suspects had been identified, with arrest warrants issued against seven of them. Of those, three were Tunisian, two Moroccan, one Libyan and one Algerian.

Police on Sunday said that two women, aged 17 and 18, reported that they were sexually harassed after being surrounded by a group of about 10 males, with the younger girl having her mobile phone stolen. The pair said they had tried to escape from the group but were repeatedly forced back, until a passer-by intervened.

Detained and released

Three youths between the ages of 14 and 17, who were part of the group and who were already known to police, were temporarily detained.

The stolen phone was retrieved and returned to the victim, but further custody orders against the three were not issued. According to police, two had Turkish citizenship while another was German with “an immigration background.” Police stressed that the youths were not recent refugees to Germany, having grown up in Berlin.

Instances of gangs surrounding and robbing their female victims in a similar way have become increasingly common in Berlin, Neuendorf said, with a special investigation group having been set up. An officer had been assigned to each suspect, he said, in the hope of proving some to be serial offenders.

“This degrading and misogynistic approach is as repulsive as it is criminal,” Berlin Interior Minister Frank Henkel said on Tuesday, appealing for any other victims to contact police.

Mass assaults against women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve stoked a debate about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migration and refugee policy, with about 1 million refugees having been registered in the country in 2015. The Cologne assaults were largely blamed on North African migrants.


Americans traveling to North Korea risk ‘unduly harsh sentences’: U.S.

by Susan Heavey and Megan Cassella

May 16, 2016


Americans who travel to North Korea despite ongoing warnings risk “unduly harsh sentences” for actions that would not be considered a crime in the United States, the U.S. State Department said in its latest travel warning on Monday.

The department, in a detailed warning against such travel, cautioned that at least 14 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past 10 years and that American travelers should be aware that possessing any media criticizing the country could considered a crime.

Its strong advice came after two Americans were sentenced in recent weeks in North Korea and when international tensions are increasingly high with the reclusive country over its nuclear weapons program.

Last month, North Korea’s Supreme Court sentenced Korean-American Kim Dong Chul, 62, to 10 years hard labor after he admitted to committing “unpardonable espionage” including stealing military secrets, according to North Korean media.

American student Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March for trying to steal an item with a propaganda slogan, North Korean media reported.

Washington has condemned the punishments, saying North Korea is using U.S. citizens to push its own political agenda. In the past, North Korea has used detained Americans to push for high-profile visits from the United States, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations.

U.S. officials have long warned Americans against traveling to North Korea, and on Monday it outlined a dozen specific actions that “whether done knowingly or unknowingly – ‘have been treated as crimes” in an attempt to further caution travelers.

Showing disrespect toward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or former leaders, criticizing the government, having an unauthorized interaction with residents, taking unapproved photographs and shopping at certain stores have all been considered crimes, the department said.

Americans traveling there should not expect protection from tour groups or guides or have expectation of privacy, it added.


(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Megan Cassella; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


‘Make It Look Like It’s ISIS’: A Fake Bomb, a Would-Be Terrorist, and an FBI Sting in Miami

May 17, 2016

by Benjamin Gilbert

Vice News

The FBI says it caught a terrorist trying to blow up a synagogue on the outskirts of Miami.

But the FBI supplied the bomb.

The device was fake, part of an undercover FBI sting operation that, like hundreds of controversial investigations before it, used an undercover informant to target an alleged terrorist.

In the Miami case, federal authorities accuse 40-year-old James Medina of planning to bomb the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center north of the city.

The FBI started their investigation of Medina in March 2015 “based on his suspected desire to attack” the Jewish center, according to an affidavit filed in federal court and a statement released by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.

Medina, who said he converted to Islam four years ago and referred to his alias “James Muhammad” in court, has been charged with “attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.” He pleaded not guilty on Monday morning.

Apart from the fact that the FBI supplied Medina with the weapon that he intended to use against the Jewish center, rights activists and legal experts are troubled by the facts presented by the FBI and Justice Department. Their concern includes instances where the informant, or “confidential human source” in bureau parlance, offered to assist Medina in attacking the center, and even suggested that he link the attack to the Islamic State.

The FBI’s affidavit — which reveals only enough information to justify the criminal complaint against Medina, and does not include all of the evidence against him — says that an informant met with Medina in March and secretly recorded conversations with him after he expressed a desire to attack the Jewish center.

But the affidavit does not say how the FBI learned of Medina’s “suspected desire” to attack the Jewish center, or what initial remarks or actions led agents to believe that Medina was willing to use violence before he devised his plans with the informant.

David Shapiro, a former New Jersey prosecutor and FBI special agent who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the affidavit makes it appear that the FBI did more than a little pushing to get Medina to develop the synagogue bombing plan.

“It seems this desire was developed,” he said. “It was watered with very potent fertilizer.”

The affidavit lays out how the FBI informant took an active part in helping Medina cook up the bombing plot. It recounts how the informant drove Medina to the Jewish center and suggested that he launch the attack on a Jewish holiday.


When the two later discussed a claim of responsibility, the affidavit says that the informant “indicated that they should leave a ‘clue’ as to who was responsible and Medina concurred.” It’s the informant, rather than Medina, who suggests linking the bombing to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or the East African al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab.

“You can, you can do all that,” the affidavit quotes Medina as saying. “Yeah, we can print up or something and make it look like it’s ISIS here in America. Just like that.”

The informant later suggested that Medina could use “untraceable” firearms instead of AK-47s that an acquaintance of Medina’s said he could provide. At another meeting, the informant “addressed the concerns of entering the synagogue with firearms and then getting shot and instead proposed leaving an unspecified object behind and leaving the scene.” The informant suggested that Medina could use a bomb with a timer, and then introduced Medina to a man described as having “explosives expertise and access.” The bomb expert was really an undercover FBI agent.

Medina didn’t do himself any favors by repeatedly telling both the FBI informant and undercover agent that he was willing to leave the bomb at the synagogue, then escape with the informant and watch as they remotely detonated it. He also repeatedly assured the undercover agent that he was willing to go forward with the plot, according to the affidavit.

When asked why, Medina answers, “Because I realize that I have a lot of love for Allah. And I know that all these, all these wars that are going on, it hurts me, too. You know? It’s my call of duty. I gotta get back, when I’m doing this, I feel that I’m doing it for a good cause for Allah.”

In a subsequent conversation, the agent asked Medina if he was okay with killing women and children. Medina appeared to say yes, but he also seemed hesitant.

Medina: I think so. I think I’m fine, Urn hmm.

Agent: You need to be sure brother.

Medina: I am pretty sure. I think so. I believe so. I’m ready bro!

Agent: Ok. Cause you know you don’t have to do any of this.

Medina: What do you mean doing it?

Agent: No, you don’t have to do it if you’re not comfortable with it.

Medina: What? I’m ready.

Agent: It’s Allah’s will but you know…

Medina: I’m up for it. I really am. This is no joke. This is serious dog. If I have the equipment, believe me, in the time is, is that day and we doin’ it, I’m up for it bro. Just like I said.

The FBI says Medina and the undercover agent decided to bomb the synagogue on Friday, April 29. Medina made three videos on the informant’s phone: One as a goodbye to his family in case he was killed, and the other two to explain why he conducted the attack.

“I am a Muslim and I don’t like what is going on in this world. I’m going to handle business here in America. Aventura, watch your back. ISIS is in the house,” he said in one video. In another, he said, “Today is gonna be a day where Muslims attack America. I’m going to set a bomb in Aventura.”

On the appointed day, the agent met with Medina, gave him the fake bomb, instructed him how to use it, and then drove him to the synagogue. Medina exited the vehicle and began to walk toward the synagogue, at which point the authorities arrested him.

The US government has convicted more than 200 people on terrorism-related charges using similar methods, according to Trevor Aaronson, executive director of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and author of The FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. He said that the FBI “isn’t finding people with a bomb in their garage. They’re finding people who are loudmouths and they say, “Oh, we can help you in the name of al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.”

“These are sting operations where the FBI provides the means and opportunities for people to commit crimes,” Aaronson said. “And the most disturbing part is that most of these people seem to be mentally ill and do not have connections to overseas terrorists on their own.”

Medina fits this profile. The 40-year-old is divorced, single, and unemployed. He was arrested previously for behavior consistent with mental illness, including sending more than 50 text messages, some threatening violence, to his estranged family and then telling a cop about it.

Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, said the quoted conversations in the affidavit that are supposed to damn Medina instead make it look like he can “barely seem to string a sentence together.”

And while it appears to be clear that Medina is a bigot who harbors anti-Jewish feelings, neither of those two things is illegal. Of course, plotting to blow up a synagogue is illegal. Retired FBI counterterrorism executive David Gomez says the FBI’s investigative techniques were legitimate, even if Medina does have mental or cognitive issues.

“Just because you’re dumb doesn’t mean you’re not dangerous,” he said. “Just because you have some mental incapacitation doesn’t mean you’re not capable of murder.”

Gomez said he’s seen other cases where lonely, fringe suspects join gangs or right-wing extremist groups to gain approval, and then peer pressure or other factors leads them to commit violent acts. In cases such as Medina’s, he argued, the FBI is just getting to these suspects before other malicious actors.

“Let’s say we didn’t get a source on this person, and somebody else talks to them and says, ‘Wanna blow up some Jews?’ It doesn’t matter if you blow them up for the KKK or ISIS. Some guy says, ‘I’ll drive you there,’ and there are plenty of people out there who would do that,” Gomez said. “The FBI and others are worried about a guy who gets in with the wrong crowd.”

Greenberg questioned where the rationale for this type of investigation ends.

“If you want to look for individuals who are susceptible to some kind of inducement to violence, and who have to be told whose name the violence is in, there are countless people and countless extremist groups you could identify them with,” she said.

Gomez said that the FBI’s informants and undercover agents set up the suspect for the “next proactive move,” but don’t make them take it.

“At some point he has to have an overt act,” he said — such as taking what he thinks is a bomb onto the grounds of a synagogue with the intent to detonate it.

Under the law, this act essentially closes the door to an entrapment defense.

“Those are hard to assert in this situation,” said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “That’s the situation that the FBI and DOJ are taking advantage of.”

According to Greenberg, the FBI has been using these types of investigations to send a message: “If someone approaches you and asks you if want help with a terrorist attack, you’re supposed to say no.”


Crooked Hillary and the Rape of Honduras

The roots of the immigration crisis

May 18, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


Tens of thousands of Central Americans, many of them unaccompanied children and teenagers, have flooded into the US illegally in recent years: they are a growing part of a human tsunami that has hit the southern border and caused what many refer to as a humanitarian crisis, overwhelming the local and federal authorities – and becoming a major political issue.

On the one hand, we have immigration restrictionists like Donald Trump, who say that “we cannot be a country and have no borders,” and who vow to build a Wall – “and make Mexico pay for it.” On the other hand, we have Hillary Clinton, who says we should be “knocking down barriers, not building walls,” and claims that Trump and his supporters are motivated by “bigotry.”

Like most partisan political debates, this one gives off plenty of heat without shedding much light. Because the real question is: why are hundreds of thousands of people suddenly abandoning their homes, their families, and their countries to make the long and dangerous trek through Mexico and into the United States? And where are these people coming from?

Contrary to what the Trumpistas seem to believe, the influx of Mexican illegal immigrants has tapered off. Increasingly, the floodtide consists of Central Americans, who are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. And while the circumstances surrounding the Great Migration have particular causes in each of these countries, in general the causes are the same: a wave of criminality and chaos, which has its origins in decades of misgovernment and repression. Grinding poverty, the rule of a landed oligarchy, and the de facto dominance of brutal militaries – supported by the US – have stunted and deformed these resource-rich countries, forcing their citizens into what is surely one of the largest population transfers in recent history.

The history of US-Honduran relations is the story of endless meddling by Washington on behalf of crony capitalists, notably United Fruit, now known as Chiquita. A series of invasions and military occupations in the early part of the twentieth century – seven between 1903 and 1925 – ensured that American investors would get good returns on their investments, while keeping the restless natives under the boot of local oligarchs. During the cold war era, the Jeanne Kirkpatrick doctrine of preferring “pro-American” dictators to left-wing democrats prevailed, and the Reagan administration used the country as a base for undermining the leftist Sandinista regime: the contras, funded by Washington, were based in the country, from which they regularly launched terrorist raids targeting civilians.

Ruled by a series of military dictators and juntas since 1955, Honduras returned to civilian rule in 1981, but the military – trained in the US and superbly equipped due to generous aid from Washington – retained its dominance over the political landscape and much of the economy. “Recruiting” consisted of forays into the slum areas and countryside by military patrols, who would then kidnap young men and forcibly conscript them. In this way, the Honduran military resembled a criminal gang, engaging in wholesale extortion, as well as murder and torture of political dissidents. Whatever party occupied the presidency and controlled the legislative branch, the same landed oligarchy, backed by the military, called the shots.

In 2006, however, change was in the air. Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the scion of a wealthy family and head of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise, was elected President. Although he campaigned on a conservative platform, Zelaya soon turned to social reform, including the institution of free public education, free meals for poor students, government aid to small farmers, and other measures aimed at reducing poverty, with some 80% of the population living on a subsistence level.

This turn to the left enraged the oligarchs and the final straw was the entry of Honduras into the ALBA alliance, founded by Venezuela’s leftist caudillo Hugo Chavez. When Zelaya put a constitutional reform measure on the ballot, which would have overturned articles of that document deemed unchangeable, the military used this as a pretext to make their move: they invaded the presidential palace, and bundled Zelaya into exile while he was still in his pajamas. (Coup leaders and their American cheerleaders accused Zelaya of wanting to extend his term in office, limited by the constitution to one term, and set up a dictatorship: today, however, their narrative has undergone a curious reversal: the same people who supported the coup have changed the constitution to allow their candidate to extend his term.)

The role of the US State Department, with Hillary Clinton in charge, was to lurk in the background, quietly supporting the coup leaders while making ambiguous noises in public about the need for “reconciliation.” Meanwhile, behind the scenes, longtime Clinton confidante Lanny Davis, who served as Bill Clinton’s lawyer during the impeachment proceedings against him, was hired by the coup leaders to curry favor in Washington. Mrs. Clinton’s emails, released by the State Department as part of the investigation into her private server, reveal that Davis succeeded.

Instead of cutting off all aid to the Honduran government, as required by law, Clinton’s State Department continued it, albeit at a slightly reduced rate. And while publicly deploring the coup, behind the scenes the Secretary of State utilized her old friend Lanny to open up a back channel to the coup leaders, a process that culminated in a proposed “deal” that would keep Zelaya out of office, while supposedly allowing for his return. The coup leaders, however, broke their part of the bargain, pressuring the legislature to keep Zelaya out of the country. They then held “free” elections characterized by widespread violence, the shutdown of opposition media outlets, kidnappings, and intimidation. Unsurprisingly, the coup leaders won the “election,” and have retained control to this day.

The Clinton State Department rushed to give their imprimatur to the fraudulent election, and Lanny Davis made a pot of money.

In her memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary wrote about her efforts to make the return of Zelaya “moot” by brokering a phony deal, openly admitting her key role in legitimizing the coup. This section was deleted from the paperback edition.

She defends her actions to this day, but the reality is that Honduras descended into chaos and criminality. The drug cartels – who have strong links to the military and the coup leaders (the son of the ex-president and coup leader Porfirio Lobo recently pled guilty to drug trafficking) – instituted a reign of terror, motivating tens of thousands to flee the country. They wound up in the US, where they are welcomed by a woman who shares a large part of the blame for their predicament.

Create a problem – and then pose as the great humanitarian with a solution. That’s the Clinton method, in all its hypocritical sleaziness. Maybe we should send the tens of thousands of Hondurans victimized by her ruthlessly cynical policy straight to Chappaqua, where they can stand outside the gates of her palatial estate chanting “Crooked Hillary!”


US slaps China steel imports with fivefold tax increase

May 18, 2016

BBC News

The US has raised its import duties on Chinese steelmakers by more than fivefold after accusing them of selling their products below market prices.

The taxes of 522% specifically apply to Chinese-made cold-rolled flat steel, which is used in car manufacturing, shipping containers and construction.

The US Commerce Department ruling comes amid heightened trade tensions between the two sides over several products, including chicken parts.

Steel is an especially sensitive issue.

US and European steel producers claim China is distorting the global market and undercutting them by dumping its excess supply abroad.

The Commerce Department also levied anti-dumping duties of 71% on Japanese-made cold-rolled steel.

The ruling itself is only directed at what is a small amount of steel from China and Japan and won’t have much of an impact – but it is the politics of the ruling that’s worth noting.

It is an election year, and US presidential candidates have been ramping up the rhetoric on what they say are unfair trade practices by China.

US steel makers say that the Chinese government unfairly subsidises its steel exports. Meanwhile China has been under pressure to save its steel sector, which is suffering from over-capacity issues because of slowing demand at home.

China’s Ministry of Finance has not directly responded to the US ruling but on its website this morning it has said that China will maintain its tax rebate policy for steel exports as part of its efforts to help the bloated steel sector recover.

These tax rebates are seen as favourable policies to shore up ailing steel companies in China, and to avoid massive job losses. Expect more fiery rhetoric from the US on China’s unfair trading practices soon.

A separate filing by major US steelmakers to the International Trade Commission is looking to completely ban all Chinese steel imports.

The US steel industry claims that some 12,000 workers have been laid off in the past year because of unfair Chinese competition.

China claims the weak economy is more responsible for the industry’s problems and that it has taken steps to reduce its steel production.

Last year, China’s exports of cold-rolled steel flat products to the US were valued at an estimated $272.3m (£188.5m).




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