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TBR News November 18, 2019

Nov 18 2019

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. November 18, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for November 18: “Trump is now willing, at least for today, to testify before the House impeachment committee to expose them as fraudster and puppets of the invented Deep State. Given Trump’s personality and various psychological problems, this is not a good idea because the hearings are televised and Trump, if needled, will come unglued in public.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • House investigating whether Trump lied in U.S. Russia probe: CNN
  • Trump says he might be willing to testify in impeachment inquiry
  • DHS developing plans to shoot down drones near airports
  • Hong Kong universities: a new battleground between protesters and police
  • The Attack on Iran: Israel’s Plans for a US Action
  • The Season of Evil

 

 

 

House investigating whether Trump lied in U.S. Russia probe: CNN

November 18, 2019

by Jan Wolfe

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives is probing whether President Donald Trump lied in his written testimony submitted to then-U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the completed federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, CNN said on Monday.

A House lawyer told a federal appeals court in Washington on Monday that lawmakers were examining whether Trump’s written answers to federal investigators were untruthful, CNN reported.

A spokeswoman for the House Judiciary Committee had no immediate comment.

Mueller submitted a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr in March after completing a 22-month investigation that detailed Russia’s campaign of hacking and propaganda to boost Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election as well as extensive contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

House lawyers disclosed the investigation into Trump’s written responses in September, saying in a court filing that materials from the Mueller report could show Trump was not honest about his knowledge of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks, which published emails hacked from the Democratic Party.

The redacted Mueller report materials “have direct bearing on whether the president was untruthful, and further obstructed the special counsel’s investigation, when in providing written responses to the special counsel’s questions he denied being aware of any communications between his campaign and WikiLeaks,” the House lawyers said in the filing.

Last week, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, suggested in testimony during a jury trial in a criminal case that Trump talked to longtime adviser Roger Stone about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

Gates testified that after finishing a July 2016 call from Stone, Trump indicated that “more information would be coming,” in an apparent reference to WikiLeaks.

Gates’ testimony appeared to conflict with sworn written statements that Trump gave Mueller.

In Trump’s written responses to Mueller, he said he could not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone.

“I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him,” Trump wrote. “Nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.”

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Berkrot

 

Trump says he might be willing to testify in impeachment inquiry

November 18, 2019

by Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday indicated publicly for the first time that he might be willing to testify in the impeachment inquiry over his efforts to pressure Ukraine “even though I did nothing wrong.”

Lawmakers in the Democratic-led impeachment process in the U.S. House of Representatives have not formally called Trump as a witness in the inquiry into whether he used foreign policy to try to get Ukraine to investigate domestic political opponent Joe Biden.

During former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, Trump said he was willing to testify but ultimately gave only written answers. House Democrats said on Monday they are investigating whether those answers are untruthful, according to CNN.

Denying any wrongdoing, the Republican president has railed on Twitter and elsewhere against the impeachment inquiry and attacked witnesses by name.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on Sunday in a CBS interview that Trump has every opportunity to present his case, including coming before intelligence committee hearings.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump said on Twitter.

At the heart of the inquiry is a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into former U.S. Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

The hearings could pave the way for the House to approve articles of impeachment – formal charges – against Trump. That would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Trump’s removal.

House Speaker Pelosi, in her interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” said: “The president could come right before the committee and speak all the truth that he wants if he wants to take the oath of office … or he can do it in writing. He has every opportunity to present his case.”

Trump’s written answers to federal investigators in the Mueller probe were under renewed scrutiny on Monday, CNN said. The House’s general counsel told a federal court in Washington that lawmakers were examining whether the answers were untruthful, the report said.

Last week, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, testified in the trial of Trump ally Roger Stone that Trump’s 2016 campaign was keen to keep abreast of the release of emails by WikiLeaks website potentially damaging to the Republican’s opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Gates’ testimony appeared to conflict with sworn written statements that Trump gave Mueller, CNN reported.

HEARINGS THIS WEEK

The public phase of hearings shifts into higher gear this week when a parade of officials will face questioning by Democratic lawmakers seeking details that could link Trump to a pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Eight more witnesses are due to testify in the second week of the televised hearings. They include Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, whose direct interactions with Trump are likely to be a main focus in the investigation of whether the president made security aid to Ukraine contingent on it agreeing to dig up dirt on Biden, who is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in 2020.

Several witnesses testified last week that they were alarmed over the pressure tactics used against Ukraine, as well as the role of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The latest round of hearings will stretch from Tuesday to Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats are looking into whether Trump abused his power in part by withholding $391 million in aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Kiev to investigate Biden. The money, approved by the U.S. Congress to help U.S. ally Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists, was later provided.

At the first impeachment hearing last Wednesday, Republicans repeatedly blasted Democrats for not calling an anonymous whistleblower to testify publicly or behind-closed doors. The whistleblower account of the July 25 call led to Democrats opening the inquiry.

“There’s one witness, one witness that they won’t bring in front of us, they won’t bring in front of the American people, and that’s the guy who started it all, the whistle-blower,” Republican Jim Jordan said on Nov. 13.

Democrat Peter Welch responded at the time, “I would be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

Reporting By Matt Spetalnick, Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Karen Freifeld, Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey and Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Grant McCool; Editing by Alistair Bell

 

DHS developing plans to shoot down drones near airports

November 15, 2019

by Stephen Dinan

The Washington Times

Top House lawmakers revealed Friday that Homeland Security is working on plans to allow the government to shoot down drones flown near airports — and the members of Congress urged the administration to do a rethink.

The ranking Republicans on the House Transportation and Homeland Security Committees said they have become aware of efforts by Homeland Security, along with the Justice and Transportation departments, to work on shoot-down policies for unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.

But Reps. Sam Graves and Mike Rogers, in a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, said Congress never authorized the department to do shoot-downs near airports.

A 2018 law does authorize the government to use force to bring down drones near border facilities, Secret Service locations and buildings under guard by the Federal Protective Service, and it also allows for designation of special national security events where shoot-down powers are allowed.

None of those cover airports, the two Republicans said.

“The mitigation of a persistent UAS in the vicinity of an airport or in the airspace around such airport does not fall into any of the categories listed above or in law,” the lawmakers wrote.

Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon

 

Hong Kong universities: a new battleground between protesters and police

As a political solution remains out of sight, violence between demonstrators and police in Hong Kong has escalated as many young people see themselves as carrying out a “final battle” for their civil liberties.

November 18, 2019

by Phoebe Kong (Hong Kong ), William Yang (Taipei)

DW

The streets around the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, located in a busy part of the central Kowloon district, were blocked Monday morning as hundreds of pro-democracy activists clashed with Hong Kong police.

Some of the demonstrators reportedly threw molotov cocktails and set parts of the campus on fire, while the police responded with tear gas. One officer reportedly fired three shots from his pistol because he feared for his life, according to official accounts of the incident. There were no reports of any injuries resulting from the gunfire.

The occupation of several Hong Kong universities by demonstrators and the combative response by police over the weekend are signs that Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement could be taking a more extreme turn.

One of the student demonstrators told a DW reporter on Monday that she had “already written her will,” adding she would continue her “peaceful resistance” despite the massive police operation.

“Although I was unarmed, I was hit by spray from a water cannon. It was very painful. But I will not let the police destroy my determination,” she said, preferring to remain anonymous.

The ‘final battle’ for Hong Kong?

Another student demonstrator, who was also sprayed by high velocity, blue-dyed water from a cannon, said that the demonstrators would “have to retreat,” as their cohorts coming from “the other fronts” would not be able to support them.

He told DW he was “sorry” that his “front” was unable to hold back the police operation.

Pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong are concerned about the recent escalation in open conflict between students and police. Last week, democratic lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said young people in Hong Kong were “obviously ready to give up their lives” for their political demands.

The lawmaker added that the demonstrators consider this latest phase of the demonstrations, which have been ongoing since June, to be a “final battle.”

Warning signs from Beijing

The campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University is located across from Hung Hom station, a vital transit point where the East Rail and West Rail metro lines meet and 18 trains originate that connect Hong Kong with mainland China. On Monday, there are far fewer passengers at the station than normal.

Nearly two years ago, Chinese officials set up border controls at Hung Hom station for passengers heading to the Chinese mainland, which many Hong Kongers see as a violation of the territory’s agreement with Beijing.

Additionally, the “voluntary assistance” of soldiers from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in Hong Kong has been interpreted as a warning sign from Beijing.

On Saturday, PLA soldiers in civilian clothes reportedly cleared street barricades around their barracks. There is concern these soldiers could soon be deployed to counter both rioters and peaceful demonstrators. Officially, however, Hong Kong’s government must first request this kind of intervention from the central government in Beijing.

Political solution possible? 

For the students who have entrenched themselves on the campus of the Polytechnic University, the memory of the 1989 massacre on Tiananmen Square in Beijing is a constant preoccupation.

“We must do everything we can to avoid a repetition of that tragedy on the campus of the Polytechnic University,” Owan Li, spokesperson for the Polytechnic University Students’ Association, told DW. “There’s a lot of panic,” he said.

Li is in favor of finding a political solution to the problem.

He is contesting in the upcoming district council elections as an independent candidate for the democratic camp.

The district councils are widely regarded as advisory bodies with little formal power. The elections are due to take place next Sunday, but could be postponed due to the ongoing unrest.

“The Communist Party, Hong Kong government and police all agree that they must take a hard line against the violent rioters,” Kong Tsung-Gan, a Hong Kong author critical of the regime, told DW.

“What the police did followed this logic. It demonstrates that the government wants to pursue this course of action in an extraordinarily rigid way.”

Appeal from police

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Cheuk Hau-yip, head of the police task force in Kowloon, appealed to the occupiers of the campus to evacuate it.

Fighting tears in his eyes, he told reporters: “Please tell the demonstrators to turn themselves in to the police and the rule of law. That is exactly what they are demanding.”

Although he adheres to the principle of minimal violence, Hau-yip said, he must keep all options open.

“The police can and will use deadly weapons, if necessary. Until now, a police officer had only been hit by an arrow in his leg, but such an arrow could also turn into a fatal blow,” the police official underlined.

 

The Attack on Iran: Israel’s Plans for a US Action

1.The problem under consideration here is that Iran is strongly believed to have a nuclear weapon, either of their own constructon or obtained from another country, believed to be Russia. Israelis are afraid Iran will use it on them.

2.Israel would have logistical problems attacking Iran. Any attack would have to be an aerial attack, using fighter-bombers to pin-point known Iranian nuclear facilities.

The current opinion in some circles, mostly in the United States, is that at some point in the near future, the growing threat or re-imposition of devastating economic sanctions on Iran will convince its radical religious leaders to terminate their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Also, there is the growing hope that the CIA’s funded Iran’s Green Movement will overthrow, a la the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and replace the Muslim fundamentalist regime, or at the very least find the means to modify and secularize the regime’s ideological extremism. It is also possible that disrupting operations  now being implemented by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through physical sabotage and, upon occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have derailed Iran’s progress towards achieving the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

It is now planned in Tel Aviv that senior Israeli officials, representing both their political and military establishments, will come to Washington for conferences both with their American counterparts and, eventually, with President Trmup. These conversations, which have been carefully planned and scripted, will have the Israelis advising their American counterparts that they are planning an attack, nuclear or non-nuclear as the situation develops, on Iran because a nuclear Iran poses the ‘gravest threat since Hitler’ to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe that  by launching a preemptive strike at all possible Iranian sites suspected of participation in their nuclear program they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years,. Further, talking-point secret Israeli memos state: Israel will inform their American counterparts that Israel has no other choice than to launch this attack. They will not ask for permission for this attack, because it will soon be too late to ask for permission.

Insofar as President Trump is concerned, the Israelis are considering the most important point of these interviews would be to discover as to what would be the circumstances under which President Trump would move to halt the Iranian projects. The primary point, then, is to convince the Americans that only military force, i.e., heavy bombing raids, would be able to “totally obliterate Iran’s attempts to get a nuclear weapon and, further, to prevent them from rebuilding their infrastructure in the foreseeable future.” From the Israeli point of view, all of their future actions, which also include the use of their own nuclear weapons on Tehran depends entirely upon the answers, primarily of the President but also of the American military leadership..

Also, in the possible event that the American President were to agree fully with Israeli wishes, i.e., to use American aircraft to obliterate the perceived Iranian threat by bombing specific, and even general, Iranian targets, could an Israeli-sponsored domestic American propaganda campaign to encourage sections of the American public, outside of the fully-cooperative Jewish community, to support such an American attack.

At the present time, it is well-established that Israeli agents, Mossad and others, have inserted themselves into all the instruments of power and propaganda in the United States where they have sent any pertinent information to Israel and kept up a steady offensive against the minds, and wills, of the American people. Also, many of the more prominent American newspapers, such as the New York Times is entirely Jewish-owned, this is stated to be the most receptive to the needs of both Washington and Tel Aviv.

Israel is fully prepared to take a chance on permanently alienating American affection in order to make a high-risk attempt at stopping Iran. If Iran retaliates against American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the consequences for Israel’s relationship with America’s military leadership could be catastrophic.

It has been seriously discussed in Tel Aviv and in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, that probably the best way to compel the American public and through them, the President, to unilateral action, would not be to launch an attack on Tehran but instead, attack America through a false-flag operation. This would consist of a believable attack, or attempted attack, on a major American target a la the 9/11 Saudi-supported attacks.

The most current plan would be for a known militant Arab anti-Israel group, Hezbollah, to actually deliver an atomic device to the city of New York, or, alternatively, to Washington.

The American Central Intelligence Agency, now seeking to reshape its negative image, would report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the exact details of the arrival and placement of the bomb.

The actual bomb would be genuine but would have a part that was malfunctioning, thus rendering the weapon impossible to detonate. The Arabs involved in this delivery would have in their number, a Yemeni Jew, such as the ones that instigated the 9/11 Saudi attacks, and this sleeper would carry numerous forged documents “proving” that Tehran was directly behind this planned attack.

Revelation of these documents by the fully-supportive New York Times and Washington Post would immediately swing a significant bulk of the American public behind an immediate attack on Tehran with the purpose of neutralizing its atomic weapons capacity.

This program is now on the table and undercover Israeli agents, posing as top-level Iranian operatives, have located a small group of Hizbollah in Lebanon who would be willing to deliver and prepare this device in New York or, as an alternative, Washington itself. Israeli intelligence feels that the use of Hizbollah personnel would entirely justify their obliterating Hizbollah-controlled territory in southern Lebanon that now house many thousands of long-range surface to surface missiles that could easily reach Tel Aviv and other vital Israeli targets.

This action, which has already been planned in detail, would be conducted by Israel alone and would compliment the projected American attack on Tehran. Israel stresses the fact that both attacks must be simultaneous lest a forewarned Hezbollah launch rocket attacks on Israel upon hearing of the American attack. Timing here is considered to be absolutely vital.

Both Israel and Hezbollah have accused UNIFIL of bias. Israel again accused them of failing to prevent, and even collaborating with, Hezbollah in its replenishment of military power. Hezbollah, in turn, said “certain contingents” of UNIFIL are spying for, if not assisting, Israel.

Israel has long been a serious planning for a future invasion of Lebanon and such an assault would continue attacking until both Hezbollah’s membership and their system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, because Israel will never tolerate a “zone of invulnerability” occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah’s rockets.

In the event that Israeli military aircraft attack Tehran, there is the vital necessity that these Israeli military aircraft would be under great pressure to return to base at once because Israeli intelligence believes that Iran would immediately order Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli cities, and Israeli air-force resources would be needed to hunt Hezbollah rocket teams.

Israel’s Northern Command, at its headquarters near the Lebanese border, is ordered that in the event of a unilateral Israeli or American strike on Iran, their mission would be to attack and completely destroy any and all identified Hezbollah rocket forces, by any and all means necessary, to include small nuclear devices that could destroy a number of square miles of what is called ‘terrorist territory’ and render it useless as any future base of attack against Israel. At the present time the Iranians are keeping their Hezbollah firm ally in reserve until Iran can cross the nuclear threshold.

During  the years since the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon Hezbollah has greatly increased its surface-to-surface missile capability, and an American/Israeli strike on Iran, would immediately provoke all-out retaliation by Iran’s Lebanese subsidiary, Hezbollah, which now possesses, by most Israeli/American intelligence estimates, as many as 45,000 surface-to-surface rockets—at least three times as many as it had in the summer of 2006, during the last round of fighting between the group and Israel. It is further known that Russia has sent large numbers of longer range surface-to-surface missiles to Syria which has, in turn, shipped them to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. These missiles have the capacity to easily reach Tel Aviv and Israelis are very concerned that a massive rocket barrage deep into Israel could not only do serious damage to their infrastructure but could easily provoke a mass immigration of Israelis to other areas, thus depriving Israel of both civilian and military personnel it would certainly need in the event of increased Arab military actions against Israel.

Even if Israel’s Northern Command successfully combated Hezbollah rocket attacks in the wake of an Israeli strike, which American experts have deemed to be “nearly impossible” political limitations would not allow Israel to make repeated sorties over Iran. “America, too, would look complicit in an Israeli attack, even if it had not been forewarned. The assumption—that Israel acts only with the full approval of the United States is a feature of life in the Middle East, and it is one the Israelis are taking into account. A serious danger here to Israeli attack plans would be if the United States got wind of the imminence of such an attack and demanded that Israel cease and desist in its actions. Would Israel then stop? Though highly unlikely, this is an unpleasant and unacceptable

At this time, the Israelis have drawn up specific plans to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and the Bushehr reactor, along with four other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program that have been identified by joint past and present Israeli-American aerial surveillance.

If Israeli aircraft succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, all well and good but even if  they fail to damage or destroy these targets ,such an attack is feared by American and other nations as risking a devastating change in the Middle East. Such an attack could initiate immediate reprisals such as a massed rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon as well as other actions from neighboring Muslim states.

This could become a major diplomatic crisis for President Trump that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the international price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of seriously endangering Jewish groups around the world, and especially in the United States by making them the targets of Muslim-originated terror attacks and most certainly accelerating the growing immigration of many Israelis to what they felt might be much safer areas.

An Israeli political and military consensus has now emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by December of 2019. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Trump administration. The Netanyahu government is already intensifying its analytic efforts not just on Iran, but on a subject many Israelis have difficulty understanding: President Trump.

The Israelis argue that Iran demands the urgent attention of the entire international community, and in particular the United States, with its unparalleled ability to project military force. This is the position of many moderate Arab leaders as well that if America allowed Iran to cross the nuclear threshold, the small Arab countries of the Gulf would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran, out of self-protection. Several Arab leaders have suggested that America’s standing in the Middle East depends on its willingness to confront Iran. They argue, self-interestedly, that an aerial attack on a handful of Iranian facilities would not be as complicated or as messy as, say, invading Iraq. The basic question then is why the Jewish state should trust the non-Jewish president of the United States to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

For more than a year, these White House officials have parried the charge that their president is unwilling to face the potential consequences of a nuclear Iran, and they are frustrated by what they believe to be a caricature of his position. It is undeniably true, however, that the administration has appeared on occasion less than stalwart on the issue.

One question no administration official seems eager to answer is this: what will the United States do if sanctions fail?

In Israel, of course, officials expend enormous amounts of energy to understand President Trump, despite the assurances they have received from others. Delegations from Netanyahu’s bureau, from the defense and foreign ministries, and from the Israeli intelligence community have been arriving in Washington lately with great regularity. As an alternative to cooperation by Trump, Israel, through her supporters and lobbyists in the United States are preparing to offer extensive financial and other incentives to political opponents of Trump, mostly the right-wing Republicans and American Christian groups and cults. Both of these groups are being cultivated currently with the idea that if Trump will not cooperate, the Republicans will in the future as they always have before. Also to consider is the current antipathy of American Jews for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and these American Jews, who are, like the president they voted for in overwhelming numbers, generally supportive of a two-state solution, and dubious about Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

Both Israeli and American intelligence agencies are of the firm belief that Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability, which is the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device.. The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine, a tenet that dates back to the 1960s, when Israel developed its own nuclear capability as a response to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state, the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons and the regime’s theologically motivated desire to see the Jewish state purged from the Middle East

Patriotism in Israel runs very high, according to numerous polls, and it seemed unlikely that mere fear of Iran could drive Israel’s Jews to seek shelter elsewhere. But one leading proponent of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, If Iran crossed the nuclear threshold, the very idea of Israel as a Zionist entity would be endangered. “These people are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if someone has a scholarship for two years at an American university and the university offers him a third year, the parents will say, ‘Go ahead, remain there,’ If someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there. It will not be that people are running to the airport, but slowly, slowly, the decision-making on the family level will be in favor of staying abroad. The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain. And an Israel that is not based on entrepreneurship that is not based on excellence will not be the Israel of today.”

Most critically if a Zionist Israel is no longer seen by its 6 million Jewish inhabitants and also by the approximately 7 millions of Jews resident outside of Israel that because of continuing threats from outside the country as no longer a natural safe haven for Jews then the entire concept of a Zionist haven/state is destroyed

To understand why Israelis of different political dispositions see Iran as quite possibly the most crucial challenge they have faced in their 62-year history, one must keep in mind the near-sanctity, in the public’s mind, of Israel’s nuclear monopoly. The Israeli national narrative, in shorthand, begins with shoah, which is Hebrew for “calamity,” and ends with tkumah, “rebirth.” Israel’s nuclear arsenal symbolizes national rebirth, and something else as well: that Jews emerged from World War II having learned at least one lesson, about the price of powerlessness.

If Israel is unable to change Trump’s mind, they will continue to threaten to take unilateral action against Iran by sending approximately one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran—by crossing Saudi Arabia, and along the border between Syria and Turkey, and, without consulting the Americans or in any way announcing their missions by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft. (It’s so crowded, in fact, that the United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.)

The first belief by Israeli military planners is that Israel would get only one try. Israeli planes would fly low over Saudi Arabia, bomb their targets in Iran, and return to Israel by flying again over Saudi territory, possibly even landing in the Saudi desert for refueling—perhaps, if speculation rife in intelligence circles is to be believed, with secret Saudi cooperation.

Israel has been working through the United States to procure Saudi cooperation with an Israeli air strike against Tehran and other targets inside Iran.. The Saudis are treating this subject with great caution lest other Arab states learn of their putative cooperation in an Iranian attack with over flights of Saudi territory by Israeli military aircraft.

The current American/Israeli military plans are for the Saudis to turn off their radar after they have been noticed by the American embassy that an Israeli attack is imminent and also to permit the Israeli aircraft to land in their country for refueling The Israelis are not concerned with any kind of Iranian aircraft resistance because their airfields have been pinpointed by American satellites and one of the attacking groups would use low-yield atomic rocketry on all the identified Iranian bases. It is obvious that when, not if, the Saudis part in this becomes public, it will create immense ill-will in neighboring Muslim states, an impression the Saudi government is most anxious not to deal with.

Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting—forever, as it turned out—Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean–built reactor in Syria. An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.

The reasoning offered by Israeli decision makers was uncomplicated: At the present moment, Israel possesses 135 nuclear weapons, most of them  mainly two-stage thermonuclear devices, capable of being delivered by missile, fighter-bomber, or submarine (two of which are currently positioned in the Persian Gulf). Netanyahu is worried about an entire complex of problems, not only that Iran, or one of its proxies, would, in all probability, destroy or severely damage Tel Aviv; like most Israeli leaders, he believes that if Iran gains possession of a nuclear weapon, it will use its new leverage to buttress its terrorist proxies in their attempts to make life difficult and dangerous; and that Israel’s status as a haven for Jews would be forever undermined, and with it, the entire raison d’être of the 100-year-old Zionist experiment.

Another question Israeli planners struggle with: how will they know if their attacks have actually destroyed a significant number of centrifuges and other hard-to-replace parts of the clandestine Iranian program? Two strategists told me that Israel will have to dispatch commandos to finish the job, if necessary, and bring back proof of the destruction. The commandos—who, according to intelligence sources, may be launched from the autonomous Kurdish territory in northern Iraq—would be facing a treacherous challenge, but one military planner I spoke with said the army would have no choice but to send them.

Netanyahu’s obvious course is to convince the United States that Iran is not Israel’s problem alone; it is the world’s problem, and the world, led by the United States, is obligated to grapple with it, not Israel alone. It is well-known that Israel by itself could not hope to deal with a retaliation against it by Iran and other Arab states but that a confederation of other nations, led, of course, by the United States could defend Israel against her enemies. The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, does not place and credence in the current sanctions against Iran, even the ones initiated by the United States at Israel’s urgent request. Is it known that Netanayahu is not happy with President Trumps’s reluctance to support an Israeli attack on Iran and has brought a great deal of political pressure to bear on the President by American Jewish political and business groups.

Netanyahu understands, however, that President Trump, with whom he has had a difficult and intermittently frigid relationship, believes that stringent sanctions, combined with various enticements to engage with the West, might still provide Iran with a face-saving method of standing down.

Israel’s current period of forbearance, in which Israel’s leadership waits to see if the West’s nonmilitary methods can stop Iran, will come to an end this December.  The American defense secretary, said at a meeting of NATO defense ministers that most intelligence estimates predict that Iran is one to three years away from building a nuclear weapon. “

One of the consistent aims of Israel is to pressure President Trump, who has said on a number of occasions that he finds the prospect of a nuclear Iran “unacceptable,” into executing a military strike against Iran’s known main weapons and uranium-enrichment facilities.

Donald Trump is steadfastly opposed to initiating new wars in the Middle East and an attack by U.S. forces on Iran is not a foreign-policy goal for him or his administration. The Israeli goal is to compel him by public, and private, pressure to order the American military into action against Iran

President Trump has said any number of times that he would find a nuclear Iran “unacceptable.” His most stalwart comments on the subject have been discounted by some Israeli officials

If the Israelis reach the firm conclusion that Trump will not, under any circumstances, launch a strike on Iran, then the countdown will begin for a unilateral Israeli attack.

 

 

The Season of Evil

by Gregory Douglas

 

Preface

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.

None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.

In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.

To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them

There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”

I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”

Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

 

Frienze, Italy

July 2018-August 2019

 

 

Chapter 1

Early in April, a small, late model foreign-made car drove down quiet residential streets in the expensive suburb of Brentwood, California. The sun was preparing to vanish over the horizon in orange and hazy glory when the car pulled into an expensive strip mall that included a theater specializing in homoerotic Chinese films, and parked at the back of the lot.

Two men got out of the car and opened the trunk, loading their arms with bulging shopping bags. Traffic was light and they crossed the street and headed up an alley bisecting a block of expensive homes.

They were both in their mid-twenties, dressed in dark clothes and wearing shoes with soft rubber soles.

One was tall and thin with short, blonde hair, an aquiline nose, high cheekbones and very bright blue eyes. He was the unwanted and certainly unloved scion of a very prominent, and very wealthy,  American business family. His family, mainly for economic reasons, had every reason to wish him dead and he reciprocated their feelings entirely. However, unlike his wealthy and powerful relatives, he was far more intelligent, perceptive, stubborn and dangerous than they were.

His companion on this savage, amoral and punitive expedition was much shorter, muscular and with dark, curly hair. A number of his personal habits were such as would have made him an instant pariah among the parents of young girls and various law enforcement agencies had they become aware of them. On the positive side, however, he did have the advantage of never caring about the views of others and the additional strength of unquestioning loyalty, in this case towards his present companion, co-worker and fellow vandal.

Their expedition had no redeeming virtue whatsoever and neither did the terrible chain of catastrophic events that would follow in its wake. Their intentions were purely malicious and punitive, though very minor in scope, yet from this small, defective seed, there would soon be an eventual flowering of sudden, violent death to many, a terrible destruction of valuable real estate and eventually, the complete collapse of the Republic.

“Are you sure this is the right place, Chuck?” the short man asked as they walked down the long alley, flanked with high stone walls, thick hedges, large garages, floodlit gardens and gates with menacing warnings about trespassing and its penalties.

“No, I’m lost, Lars. I think we’ll just break into the first house we see and rape everyone inside. Then we can gut them and set the house on fire. Does that sound OK to you?”

“I did not come along on this thing, Chuck, to rape people or set their houses on fire.  We have a job to do, don’t we? We are going to teach a real lesson to our employers aren’t we? We can rape people and burn their houses down some other time. I think we should concentrate on old Art and Estelle and think about the other stuff later.”

“Well, that’s what we planned on, Lars. And Jesus, don’t take me literally. People who live around here are rich, fat and ugly. Do you want to rape some fat, ugly person, Lars? I don’t.  Just shut up and keep walking. It’s about halfway up the block on the right side.”

They continued down the alley, clutching their laden bags and hoping that no one was planning to put garbage into the large, plastic containers that were housed in neat, cinderblock stalls behind every house.

The alley was deserted and the heavy hedges on both sides made excellent cover. The shorter man peered over his bags.

“How far?”

“Keep your voice down, idiot. And when we get into the house, button it up.”

Estelle Winrod and her husband Art were little more than walking piles of fecal matter. If they hadn’t been, they would still be enjoying peace of mind in their expensive house in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles instead of Estelle talking to herself in public transportation and Art turning green in his air tight Eterna-Rest casket in Forest Lawn cemetery.

Estelle ran an expensive jewelry shop at an upscale mall in Brentwood and Art did the bookkeeping. They both managed to intimidate and harass their staff with a daily menu of sadistic and petty entrees. Estelle loved to keep the daily work schedule in such a state of deliberate confusion that no one ever knew two weeks in a row which days or hours off they would have while Art took his pleasure in alternately forgetting overtime pay and giving out the paychecks two days late.

Every spring, without fail, Estelle and Art would close the shop for two weeks while they went to Las Vegas and wallowed in the joys of small-time betting and watching has-been performers doing their tired lounge acts. Naturally, while the store was closed, the employees had an unpaid vacation but one summer, two of them decided to give Estelle and Art a wonderful homecoming present: They would totally redecorate their house for them.

Estelle and Art had no children and they took out their barren bitterness on their staff while their creative affections were lavished on a pop-eyed and bloated poodle named ‘Pierre’ and their house.

Two days after the Winrods had packed their matching luggage into their pistachio colored Continental and driven off towards hours of joy with Wayne Newton and Tony Bennett, the sun was sinking down into the grimy haze of a smoggy Los Angeles twilight.

The back gate leading into the Winrod’s pool area split open as someone jammed a small crowbar into it and their very best salesman and his associate, the store’s watch repairman, crept across the crunching gravel. They were wearing dark clothing and both were staggering under armfuls of bulging shopping bags.

The Great Redecoration Project was about to be launched.

The Winrods were too cheap to pay for an alarm system, trusting to the hysterical barking of ‘Pierre’ to frighten off putative burglars. ‘Pierre’ was now at the vet, full of tranquilizers, which was fortunate for him and the staff at the vet, most of whom had been bitten on the lower parts of their bodies by the lovable surrogate Winrod child.

A glass sliding door yielded reluctantly to a crowbar and the pair entered the house burdened with packages and tools.

The house, hidden from its neighbors by high hedges and fences, was not a large one. Two bedrooms, a living and dining room, two car garage, laundry room, three bathrooms, a kitchen and pantry plus various closets, a study, pool houses and work sheds were adequate for their needs and made the job of the recently arrived interior decorators much easier.

The shopping bags contained eight gallons of heavy duty industrial bleach, concentrated red and green fabric dye, two small crowbars, a six-pound hammer, an ice pick with a cork stuck on its recently sharpened tip, gloves, a bag of iron filings from a machine shop, several screwdrivers and four very sharp linoleum knives.

The violated glass door led into a hall between the living room and the rest of the house and the packages were set down on top of a fake Louis XVI sideboard with a vase full of garish plastic flowers. There were other equally tasteless pieces of junk on the cheap reproduction, including a basket full of broken pieces of colored marble, a color photograph of what looked like a convention of Mongoloids and a large sea shell with the painted inscription ‘Souvenir of Tahiti.”

The house was in general bad taste, not expensive enough to get into ‘Architectural Digest’ but filled with enough garish furniture and bad art to be perfect for the Sunday supplements of the Los Angeles ‘Times.’

The redecorating crew, now busily engaged in urinating on the fake Peruvian hall rug, were looking forward to an evening of constructive desecration.

Their first stop was the living room where the best salesman, whose name was Cyril but who preferred to be called Chuck, pointed to a large, orange enameled electric organ.

“My God, Osvald, look at that monster. You could feed a family of seven on what that cost. Have you ever seen an orange organ, Osvald?”

The watchmaker, who liked to be called Lars or Eric, but was generally called ‘You There’ at work, snorted.

“I think they are supposed to be pink, Chuck. I have never seen an orange organ.”

At that moment, the automatic lights snapped on, giving the pair a moment of spastic colon but like a bad dinner, this too, passed.

Against one wall was an equally large built-in television set which the pair took some effort to pull out of its niche. They decided not to smash the picture tube because Osvald-cum-Lars had heard that the dust from broken tubes could cause sterility so Chuck poured a small bag of iron filings down into the back.

“When they turn this thing on, it will blow like a cherry bomb in a sewer. But just to make sure…”

He picked up a ceramic vase that was decorated with a painting of a very ugly child, walked into the kitchen and filled it halfway with table salt and added the balance in tap water.

This he poured down into the television set, saving some for the organ. While Chuck had been watering the tube, Osvald had been ripping the ivory keys off the organ and dropping them down into the gaping interior. Chuck poured the rest of the water into the intestines of the musical monstrosity but there must have been some kind of a wiring defect inside because the torrent was greeted with a bluish flash and the smell of ozone.

“Jesus, Chuck, unplug the damned thing before it burns up. It smells terrible. Maybe you electrocuted their cat who was sleeping down there.”

“That’s the ivory, Osvald. It’s on fire, or rather it was. You can piss in it if you want because I’ve unplugged it.”

“I thought ivory was illegal,” said the watchmaker as he opened one of the bags and took out a linoleum knife, sharpened to a razor edge.

“Only to import it. Now start in on the rugs, Osvald. Cut a six inch strip out of them from one end to the other so they can’t have them resewn and I’ll take care of the rest of the room.”

There were prolonged sounds of ripping as Chuck slashed all the cushions and backs on the chairs and couches and he sneezed violently as a great cloud of feathers swirled around his head, looking like one of those snow globes so beloved of children.

He saved one pillow and when Osvald reached for it, he lifted it over his head.

“No, let me show you what to do with this, my friend.” And he placed it against the marble facing of the fireplace, hitting it violently with a six-pound hammer. The stone splintered with a delicate, crunching sound like stepping on a kitten and Chuck then handed the torn pillow to his fellow worker.

“Stuff this up the fireplace as far as you can and then later we can throw lots of rubber products in there and put a match to them. Does wonders for the paint on the walls.”

Lars was now jumping up and down on a thick-topped travertine marble coffee table but with no success.

“This thing won’t break, Chuck. Help me smash it with your hammer.”

“I have a much better idea,” Chuck said as he poured a quantity of red dye over the polished stone. It looked like an Aztec sacrifice had taken place on it only minutes before.

The best salesman stood back and admired his handiwork, backing into a stack of expensive books that Lars had stacked on the floor.

“Oh my”, said the admiring watchmaker, “it reminds me of my grandfather’s farm on Sunday when we used to pluck the chickens.”

“For Christ’s sake, Lars, do you always have to bring up sex?”

“Sex? My grandfather used to cut the heads off the chickens and we would pluck them for Sunday dinner. What do I do with the rug parts?”

“Put them in a bathtub and please stack all the books over by the door so we can dump them into the pool,” Chuck said as he slashed the bottoms off the apricot-hued velvet drapes.

“Look at some of the titles on those books, friend. ‘Art in Peru’ and ‘Calls of the Whales.’ Of course no one really reads these things and I’ll bet that upstairs in his underwear drawer, old Art has his private collection of naked fat women in body harnesses with rubber balls stuck in their mouths.”

“That sounds like something I would like to see,” said Lars with a rapturous grin. “Do you think he might be interested in animals, too?”

“What a sick bastard! Well, let’s get the show on the road.”

They inspected the living room which still stank like a badly vented crematorium and Chuck looked about with malicious interest.

“We missed something Osvald.”

“What Chuck, and please don’t call me that. People think I shot the President.”

Osvald was also known to Los Angeles child abuse authorities as the ‘Mad Russian’ for leaving teeth marks on the private parts of nubile but considerably underage girls that he took to unquestioning motels for talent checks. To date, he had never been caught and he prayed that his luck would hold in the long watches of this night.

(Continued)

 

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

 

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