TBR News November 19, 2017

Nov 19 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., November 15, 2017:”We will be out of the country until the end of the month. Ed”

Table of Contents

  • When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work
  • Millennials are narcissistic? The evidence is not so simple
  • Both GOP and Dems at Fault for Failing Schools, Government
  • America’s Turn toward Empire
  • Upsurge in big earthquakes predicted for 2018 as Earth rotation slows
  • Turkey pulls troops out of NATO exercise over ‘enemy’ list
  • Germany replaces US as country with best international image
  • What if Ken Starr Was Right?
  • Our Saudi Allies and Their Cooperation in American Political Fun and Games


When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work

Twenty states suspend people’s professional or driver’s licenses if they fall behind on loan payments, according to records obtained by The New York Times.

November 18, 2017

by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Stacy Cowley and Natalie Kitroeff

New York Times

Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job.

Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.

As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans. Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.

Firefighters, nurses, teachers, lawyers, massage therapists, barbers, psychologists and real estate brokers have all had their credentials suspended or revoked.

Determining the number of people who have lost their licenses is impossible because many state agencies and licensing boards don’t track the information. Public records requests by The New York Times identified at least 8,700 cases in which licenses were taken away or put at risk of suspension in recent years, although that tally almost certainly understates the true number.

Shannon Otto, who lives in Nashville, can pinpoint the moment that she realized she wanted to be a nurse. She was 16, shadowing her aunt who worked in an emergency room. She gaped as a doctor used a hand crank to drill a hole into a patient’s skull. She wanted to be part of the action.

It took years of school and thousands of dollars of loans, but she eventually landed her dream job, in Tennessee, a state facing a shortage of nurses.

Then, after working for more than a decade, she started having epileptic seizures. They arrived without warning, in terrifying gusts. She couldn’t care for herself, let alone anyone else. Unable to work, she defaulted on her student loans.

Ms. Otto eventually got her seizures under control, and prepared to go back to work and resume payments on her debt. But Tennessee’s Board of Nursing suspended her license after she defaulted. To get the license back, she said, she would have to pay more than $1,500. She couldn’t.

“I absolutely loved my job, and it seems unbelievable that I can’t do it anymore,” Ms. Otto said.

With student debt levels soaring — the loans are now the largest source of household debt outside of mortgages — so are defaults. Lenders have always pursued delinquent borrowers: by filing lawsuits, garnishing their wages, putting liens on their property and seizing tax refunds. Blocking licenses is a more aggressive weapon, and states are using it on behalf of themselves and the federal government.

Proponents of the little-known state licensing laws say they are in taxpayers’ interest. Many student loans are backed by guarantees by the state or federal government, which foot the bills if borrowers default. Faced with losing their licenses, the reasoning goes, debtors will find the money.

But critics from both parties say the laws shove some borrowers off a financial cliff.

Tennessee is one of the most aggressive states at revoking licenses, the records show. From 2012 to 2017, officials reported more than 5,400 people to professional licensing agencies. Many — nobody knows how many — lost their licenses. Some, like Ms. Otto, lost their careers.

“It’s an attention-getter,” said Peter Abernathy, chief aid and compliance officer for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, a state-run commission that is responsible for enforcing the law. “They made a promise to the federal government that they would repay these funds. This is the last resort to get them back into payment.”

In Louisiana, the nursing board notified 87 nurses last year that their student loans were in default and that their licenses would not be renewed until they became current on their payments.

Eighty-four paid their debts. The three who did not are now unable to work in the field, according to a report published by the nursing board.

“It’s like shooting yourself in the foot, to take away the only way for these people to get back on track,” said Daniel Zolnikov, a Republican state representative in Montana.

People who don’t pay their loans back are punished “with credit scores dropping, being traced by collection agencies, just having liens,” he said. “The free market has a solution to this already. What is the state doing with this hammer?”

In 2015, Mr. Zolnikov co-sponsored a bill with Representative Moffie Funk, a Democrat, that stopped Montana from revoking licenses for people with unpaid student debt — a rare instance of bipartisanship.

The government’s interest in compelling student borrowers to pay back their debts has its roots in a policy adopted more than 50 years ago.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Higher Education Act, which created financial aid programs for college-bound students. To entice banks to make student loans, the government offered them insurance: If a borrower defaulted, it would step in and pick up the tab. The federal government relied on a network of state agencies to administer the program and pursue delinquent borrowers. (Since 2010, the federal government has directly funded all student loans, instead of relying on banks.)

By the late 1980s, the government’s losses climbed past $1 billion a year, and state agencies started experimenting with aggressive collection tactics. Some states garnished wages. Others put liens on borrowers’ cars and houses. Texas and Illinois stopped renewing professional licenses of those with unresolved debts.

The federal Department of Education urged other states to act similarly. “Deny professional licenses to defaulters until they take steps to repayment,” the department urged in 1990.

Two years ago, South Dakota ordered officials to withhold various licenses from people who owe the state money. Nearly 1,000 residents are barred from holding driver’s licenses because of debts owed to state universities, and 1,500 people are prohibited from getting hunting, fishing and camping permits.

“It’s been quite successful,” said Nathan Sanderson, the director of policy and operations for Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The state’s debt collection center — which pursues various debts, including overdue taxes and fines — has brought in $3.3 million since it opened last year. Much of that has flowed back to strapped towns and counties.

But Jeff Barth, a commissioner in South Dakota’s Minnehaha County, said that the laws were shortsighted and that it was “better to have people gainfully employed.”

In a state with little public transit, people who lose their driver’s licenses often can’t get to work.

“I don’t like people skipping out on their debts,” Mr. Barth said, “but the state is taking a pound of flesh.”

Mr. Sanderson countered that people did not have to pay off their debt to regain their licenses — entering into a payment plan was enough.

But those payment plans can be beyond some borrowers’ means.

Tabitha McArdle earned $48,000 when she started out as a teacher in Houston. A single mother, she couldn’t keep up with her monthly $800 student loan payments. In March, the Texas Education Agency put her on a list of 390 teachers whose certifications cannot be renewed until they make steady payments. She now has no license.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who has worked to overturn these laws, called them “tantamount to modern-day debtors’ prison.”

States differ in their rules and enforcement mechanisms. Some, like Tennessee, carefully track how many borrowers are affected, but others do not keep even informal tallies.

In Kentucky, the Higher Education Assistance Authority is responsible for notifying licensing boards when borrowers default. The agency has no master list of how many people it has reported, according to Melissa F. Justice, a lawyer for the agency.

But when the agency sends out default notifications, licensing boards take action. A public records request to the state’s nursing board revealed that the licenses of at least 308 nurses in Kentucky had been revoked or flagged for review.

In some states, the laws are unused. Hawaii has a broad statute, enacted in 2002, that allows it to suspend vocational licenses if the borrower defaults on a student loan. But the state’s licensing board has never done so, said William Nhieu, a spokesman for Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, because no state or federal student loan agencies have given it the names of delinquent borrowerOfficials from Alaska, Iowa, Massachusetts and Washington also said their laws were not being used. Oklahoma and New Jersey eliminated or defanged their laws last year, with bipartisan support.

But in places where the laws remain active, they haunt people struggling to pay back loans.

Debra Curry, a nurse in Georgia, fell behind on her student loan payments when she took a decade off from work to raise her six children. In 2015, after two years back on the job, she received a letter saying that her nursing license would be suspended unless she contacted the state to set up a payment plan.

Ms. Curry, 58, responded to the notice immediately, but state officials terminated her license anyway — a mistake, she was told. It took a week to get it reinstated.

“It was traumatic,” Ms. Curry said. She now pays about $1,500 each month to her creditors, nearly half her paycheck. She said she worried that her debt would again threaten her ability to work.

“I really do want to pay the loans back,” she said. “How do you think I’m going to be able to pay it back if I don’t have a job?”



Millennials are narcissistic? The evidence is not so simple

Rising social media use has sparked a passionate debate among psychologists: are today’s young people more “Generation Me”, or “Generation We”?

November 17, 2017

by Christian Jarrett

BBC News

At the next table in the cafe where I was working this morning, a young woman spent a whole hour talking excitedly to her older companion about herself, her hopes and aspirations for her job, her romantic relationship and her home. It was hard to avoid the impression that she thought herself the centre of the Universe, her dreams eminently fascinating and important.

Is this simply what young people or “millennials” (people born after 1980) are like these days? Fuelled by the endless opportunity for self-promotion and self-reflection on social media, combined with a wider culture that’s arguably placed greater emphasis on the importance of self-esteem than learning, have young people’s personalities changed from earlier generations to become more narcissistic and selfish?

Psychologists are divided. Some say the evidence that the young have become “Generation Me” is overwhelming, yet others counter just as strongly that this simply isn’t true. Meanwhile, more encouraging evidence is emerging to show positive trends in how our personalities seem to be changing over time, similar to the way that intelligence has increased over the generations.

The most vocal proponent of the view that young people today are more narcissistic and self-centred than in previous generations is psychologist Jean Twenge at San Diego State University, California, who has been studying the shift for more than 15 years.

Twenge believes that the rise in narcissism has its roots in cultural changes, especially the increased focus on individualism through the last few decades. For example, with parents, and society as a whole, today arguably placing greater value on young people’s individual achievement over their civic duty.

Writing in New York magazine recently, Jesse Singal describes how the self-esteem movement especially took hold in American schools, which adopted exercises like Koosh ball: “A kid tosses the ball to another kid and compliments them — I like your shirt. Then they toss the ball to someone else and compliment them — You’re good at soccer. The good feelings travel with the Koosh ball across the room, back and forth and back and forth.”

Given these cultural trends, it certainly seems plausible that today’s youth might have learned to see themselves as gifted and crave admiration.

Much of Jean Twenge’s case is based on the “Narcissistic Personality Inventory”, a measure that asks people to choose between 40 pairs of self-descriptive items, one of which is narcissistic in tone (“I will be a success”) and the other not (“I am not too concerned about success”). Twenge’s studies show that scores have risen among US college students over time. For example, she and her colleagues found that, among a 2009 cohort, almost two-thirds of undergraduates were more narcissistic than the cohort average from 1982.

Summarising her position in a 2013 review, Twenge concluded: “At the moment, the evidence clearly supports the view that today’s young generation (born after 1980) is – at least compared to previous generations – more ‘Generation Me’ than ‘Generation We’.”

Others disagree, among them Jeffrey Arnett at Clark University, Worcester. He argues that US college students are hardly representative of young people as a whole and he also doubts whether the Narcissistic Personality Inventory really measures narcissism at all. For instance, the supposedly narcissistic option on the inventory could sometimes actually be a measure of benign, or harmless confidence – he points to examples such as “I am assertive” versus “I wish I were more assertive”.

Citing the fact that the young are more likely to volunteer and more tolerant of diversity, Arnett says his view is directly the opposite of Twenge’s: today’s emerging adults are not only less narcissistic, they’re “an exceptionally generous generation that holds great promise for improving the world”.

In fact, there’s mounting evidence that this might just be the case. Take a study which is about to be published in the journal Psychological Science. Personality expert Brent Roberts and his colleagues compared scores on the Narcissism Inventory among several cohorts of over 50,000 students who attended three American universities in three separate eras: the 1990s, 2000s and early 2010s. Unlike most of the earlier research, Roberts’ team didn’t just look at narcissism directly, but also other, related traits such as vanity, entitlement and leadership.

They also accounted for the fact that students from different generations may interpret the statements they were tested with differently. However the researchers sliced the data, they found the same pattern: narcissism has been declining among young people since the 90s.

In a press release, Roberts also added that older generations may have forgotten their own youthful narcissism; it fades with age. “We have faulty memories,” he said, “so we don’t remember that we were rather self-centered when we were that age.”

This also chimes with a new study just published in New Zealand, which found no evidence of rising entitlement, an aspect of narcissism, among millennials. Intriguingly, it also hinted that the higher sense of entitlement among younger people is a developmental effect, not a generational one. In other words, we generally feel less entitled as we get older. For their part, Twenge and her colleagues are convinced that narcissism is on the rise. Among other things, they’ve discovered that more recent pop songs contain more words pertaining to self-focus compared to 80s hits, and that more individualistic words and phrases, such as “I am special”, have been on the rise in books since 1960. They’ve even speculated that this same individualistic culture could be responsible for common names falling out of fashion with parents for their children.

These scholarly debates are raging against a backdrop of rising of social media use, selfies and the habit of constantly updating everyone else with what you’re doing, thinking and feeling. It’s hard to resist the conclusion that this technological and cultural change may be fostering a rise in vanity and narcissism.

Twenge has certainly made the link. In a 2013 article for the New York Times, she called social media a “narcissism enabler” but conceded that there is little evidence to show that social media actually causes narcissism. Indeed, accumulating data suggest that yes, narcissists are more likely to post selfies, but that doesn’t mean that posting selfies makes you a narcissist. In fact, there’s evidence that the more “agreeable” you are – trusting, warm and friendly – the more active you’re likely to be on social media.

So much of the debate has been focused on narcissism, but what about the possibility that our characters are changing in positive ways? In fact, there is some good news.

Scientists have known for years that we’re getting cleverer, by around three IQ points per decade.

It’s called the Flynn Effect after James Flynn, an academic from New Zealand who first came up with the idea. Years of incremental improvements have added up to a substantial increase in intelligence test scores from the 1930s to the present day. Explanations range from a decline in infectious diseases to better schooling, but now scientists are wondering if a similar effect has been shaping personality traits, too.

A Finnish study released this year suggested that this might well be the case. The researchers, led by Markus Jokela at the University of Helsinki, analysed personality data from nearly half a million military conscripts born between 1962 and 1976, collected when they were aged 18 or 19. Jokela and his colleagues reported that over time, successive cohorts are scoring higher in extroversion-related traits, like sociability and being more energetic, and conscientiousness-related traits, like dutifulness and achievement striving.

Intriguingly, they also found evidence of rising self-confidence. This may corroborate the research on rising narcissism depending on whether the confidence is seen as healthy or not, which the Finnish data can’t speak to.

It seems it may well be true that young people today are more self-assured than in previous generations. Whether you see that as a healthy sign of confidence or a worrying signal of narcissism may well say more about you than it does about them.



Both GOP and Dems at Fault for Failing Schools, Government

August 17, 2017

by James Walsh


The news accounts by television, radio, or newspaper of August 2017 show America in crisis — an un-American crisis.

America of 2017 looks like and acts like a country at war with itself. To many citizens, America of August 2017 is much like Germany in the years following World War I, heading into and during the Weimar Republic. Germany was in ruins emotionally, mentally, morally, and politically. Troublemakers took to the streets.

German street brawlers were the National Socialists — the Nazis, the communists, the anarchists, the regular socialists, and plain criminals. In Germany, the Nazis won.

But, the street brawling was not limited to Germany. In Russia, the communists won. In Italy, the fascists won.

The American street brawling and property damage was initiated by the anarchist and radical political left. It reached high levels with the election of Donald J. Trump as president. It has since escalated to a zenith level in August of 2017, as the radical progressive Democrats and globalists planned.

Meanwhile, U.S. military actions in the Mideast have received little coverage. The purported Russian collusion with Trump and the Republicans has gone solely to an occasional 30 second blurb. Putin is limited to a singular naming every other day. North Korea gets a modicum of attention once and awhile, if they fire a rocket.

Immigration consternation was a leading hallmark of the radical leftist program of destabilizing America. Now, it has become a distant memory in the American news world.

The monotonous attacking drumbeats on Trump by the alt-left news media is the only “news.”

On Aug. 16, 2017, The Washington Post featured a lead story, “Trump has a troubling tendency to blame ‘both sides.'” The story gives the impression that only the one side did the street brawling, as the anti-Trump brawlers were mere observers at this and all the other street brawls.

The purposeful inaccurate statements, the purposeful failure to tell the whole story, and the downright purposeful false news reporting by the “mainstream media” are meant to destroy the presidency of President Trump, but also to erode the fundamental tenets of the American Republic.

The American people know its takes two to tango, regardless of the national news media’s obvious bias.

Yes, an alleged “neo-Nazi” was charged criminally for employing a radical Islamic terror tactic, driving a car into a crowd of people. Incidents like this do occur in street brawls. Where were the police?

There have been no profiles in courage to defuse the radical left’s attacks on the American way of life. Certainly not the talking-heads nor the mainstream news media — many of whom are subsidized by George Soros and his ilk. These talking-heads believe in the tactics of the Chicago-based socialist community organizer, Saul Alinsky. Soros and Alinsky and their compatriots purportedly use and used fifth column front organizations to accomplish un-American goals.

Americans are looking for leaders to adhere to the American culture, heritage, and ethos— to be profiles in courage.

The book by then-Sen. John F. Kennedy, “Profiles in Courage” was a best-selling historical-political work about doing the right thing in face of majority derision and opposition. President Kennedy’s book has never been read by 99 percent of American school students — nor their teachers. A sad commentary on the American education system.

Through the Open Society Foundation and its many subsets, Soros promotes globalization and the concept of America as just another so-so country that has many blemishes. Soros, a naturalized American citizen, pushes for open borders, yet every other nation in the world wants strict control of their borders — except maybe England and Germany.

Who is paying for the street “demonstrators” to travel from city to city? Who is paying the salaries of these demonstrators? Is it true, that George Soros is funding the people who are demonstrating in the streets of America?

If so, what is the Soros end game? Could it be, an American form of a dictatorship, a money dictatorship?

These are questions working Americans are asking as they see their schools becoming day-care centers. They know the news media will not ask probing questions of the anti-Trump brawlers or their advocates.

The American system of education over the last 50 years must be held accountable for its failures. As a new school year begins, American public schools are in abysmal shape.

Many school districts have many students who speak no English. Teachers are poorly educated, teacher unions only care about money; and parents are unhappy with poor performances of both teachers and students. There are real educational problems — no solutions are in the offing.

The federal government, under Democratic and Republican administrations, is at fault for failures in education. Democratic politicians are mainly at fault. For instance, the Obama administration purposely failed to enforce the federal immigration laws, causing much of the unsettlement in school districts.

The summer brawling will continue in and out of schools.



America’s Turn toward Empire

November 17, 2017

by Matthew Harwood


Sen. Mark Hanna, a Republican from Ohio and President William McKinley’s campaign manager, couldn’t contain himself. How could the delegates to the Republican National Convention not see through the man wearing a sombrero as streamers rained down from the ceiling? He was dangerous. “Don’t any of you realize that there’s only one life between this madman and the presidency?” he said presciently to a delegate after the man’s triumphant entrance to the convention. “What harm can he do as Governor of New York compared to the damage he will do as president if McKinley should die?”

The man Hanna referred to was none other than Theodore Roosevelt, the newly nominated vice president of the United States in the campaign of 1900. Hanna believed Teddy was deranged. A man who loved war and associated peace with weakness. A man who, with the help of his lifelong friend Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, would use the Spanish-American War to make the United States into a brutal overseas colonizer and inaugurate the American century of global hegemony.

In The True Flag, former New York Times journalist Stephen Kinzer tells a personality-driven tale of how Roosevelt and Lodge persuaded the American public to betray their anti-imperial ideals — always more imagined than real — in favor of the “large policy,” or U.S expansion beyond its shores, over the objections of a nascent anti-imperialist movement. The isolationists, led by industrialist Andrew Carnegie; America’s most famous writer, Mark Twain; and Carl Schurz, a former abolitionist who was once secretary of the Interior under Rutherford B. Hayes, would struggle in vain to stop the outright theft of nations “liberated” by Uncle Sam during the Spanish-American War.

Kinzer wisely rescues the forgotten Schurz from historical oblivion. The author of the maxim — “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right” — he was the movement’s conscience and best propagandist. He would lose the argument, as Kinzer skillfully recounts, outmaneuvered in Congress by the wily Lodge and in public by the demagogic Roosevelt.

“He wants to be killing something all the time.”

Fear of Roosevelt wasn’t just confined to Hanna. Twain, who would slowly emerge as a fierce anti-imperialist during this period of U.S. expansion, thought Roosevelt was “clearly insane” as well as “the most formidable disaster that has befallen the country since the Civil War.” Through Roosevelt’s own words and those of his friends and enemies, Twain’s appraisal proved correct.

Roosevelt, a sport killer of animals, was bloodthirsty. A Harvard friend wrote that “he wants to be killing something all the time.” Before the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was bored with peace. “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one,” he wrote. At first, he wanted to fight indigenous people in faraway lands because “the most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages.” Then he spoke of fighting the Germans, welcoming an attack for its educational value. “The burning of New York and a few other seacoast cities,” he wrote a friend, “would be a good object lesson in the need of an adequate system of coastal defenses.”

For Roosevelt and Lodge, America was ready to rule the world, and they found their instruction manual in Alfred Thayer Mahan’s book The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783. In his classic work of naval history, Mahan argued that powerful countries controlled the seas and used naval might to open markets and secure them. This was the right book at the right time. After the Depression of 1893 and the resulting social strife, many business and political leaders argued America needed overseas markets to sell its surplus products. Roosevelt and Lodge agreed, and Mahan showed them the way.

On February 15, 1898, the two men got the opportunity for America’s rush toward overseas empire when an explosion ripped through the USS Maine anchored in Havana, Cuba. The warship had been sent by McKinley as a warning to the Spanish Empire to tread lightly in Cuba, whose people wanted independence. The yellow press, led by William Randolph Hearst, whipped up war frenzy by declaring the explosion the work of a Spanish mine. (The cause of the explosion was later determined to be the triggering of the ship’s ordnance by sparks from a coal bunker.) The expansionists used Spanish atrocities — both real and fabricated — as an argument for humanitarian intervention to oust Spain from Cuba. “We are there because we represent the spirit of liberty and the spirit of the new time,” declared Lodge during a Senate speech.

War beckoned, but the anti-imperialists shrewdly amended Lodge’s war resolution, which demanded that Spain free Cuba or face U.S. military power. The amendment written by Henry Teller from Colorado stated that the United States had no imperial motives behind its intervention. On April 19, 1898, the war resolution, along with the Teller Amendment, passed both houses of Congress. McKinley signed it the next day. Within seven days’ time, a dying empire and a rising empire had declared war on each other.

“Holy Godfrey, what fun!”

Roosevelt, however, was no chicken hawk. After war broke out, he resigned his post as assistant secretary of the Navy to Lodge’s chagrin and was commissioned by the territorial governor of Arizona as a lieutenant colonel. Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” were born.

On July 1, 1898, he would cement his legend, commanding his Rough Riders up a hill under enemy fire in what became known as the Battle of San Juan Hill. During the fight, he exclaimed, “Holy Godfrey, what fun!” Upon arriving home after his victory, Roosevelt once again gave the public a glimpse of his warlike mindset. As reporters and well-wishers swarmed him on Long Island, he said, brandishing a pistol, “When I took it to Cuba I made a vow to kill at least one Spaniard with it, and I did.” The crowds ate it up.

The United States would go on to demolish Spanish forces and establish its rule over Spain’s former subjects. “In a ravenous fifty-five-day spasm during the summer of 1898,” writes Kinzer, “the United States asserted control over five far-flung lands with a total of 11 million inhabitants: Guam, Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Never in history has a nation leaped so suddenly to overseas empire.” The question now was what would the United States do with its newfound possessions: liberate them or make them American subjects?

During the summer of 1898, the anti-imperialist movement began to stir, supported financially and ideologically by Carnegie. On June 15, 1898, the isolationists packed into Boston’s Faneuil Hall to, in the words of Gamaliel Bradford, “insist that a war begun in the name of humanity shall not be turned into a war for empire.” In an August 1898 essay, Carnegie challenged Americans to forgo empire. “Are we to practice independence and preach subordination,” he wrote, “to teach rebellion in our books yet stamp it out with our swords, to sow the seed of revolt and expect the harvest of loyalty?” In another essay a month later, Shurz lamented that American imperialism would give aid and comfort to democracy’s detractors. “Will not those appear right who say that democratic government is not only no guaranty of peace, but that it is capable of the worst kind of war, the war of conquest, and of resorting to that kind of war, too, as a hypocrite and false pretender?”

Principled arguments failed, however. On December 10, 1898, the anti-imperialist movement received its first of two crippling blows. The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris. For $20 million, Spain ceded Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the United States while forfeiting sovereignty over Cuba. Then came the coup de grâce on February 6, 1889, when the Senate voted 57 to 27 to ratify the Treaty of Paris — more than the required two-thirds majority. The anti-imperialist movement campaigned hard against annexation, losing by only two votes.

Two days before the treaty’s ratification, the already simmering Philippine islands exploded in violence. Led by Emilio Aguinaldo, the Filipino nationalists weren’t about to let Uncle Sam slide into the role of occupier without a fight. The Philippine-American War had begun.

“We never asked their consent.”

According to Kinzer, the presidential campaign of 1900 could have been a referendum on American imperialism as violence in the Philippines worsened. The contest pitted the incumbent McKinley, a convert to expansionism, against the populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan, a passionate anti-imperialist and free-silver enthusiast. If Bryant had won, he would very likely have acceded to the desire of the Philippines, Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico for independence. Unable to drop his commitment to free silver, however, Bryan lost badly as his monetary policy divided the anti-imperialist movement, whose leaders were mainly prosperous northeasterners, such as Carnegie. But even if Bryan had dropped the free-silver plank from the party platform, Roosevelt and the imperialists probably would have won. They had the more pragmatic and historically accurate arguments for expansion.

During the campaign, it was the vice presidential nominee, Roosevelt who hit the trail to make the case for the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket. Overseas expansion was a core issue, and Roosevelt honestly and chillingly described why he was an imperialist. In one speech, he spoke of being “for expansion and anything else that will tend to benefit the American laborer and manufacturer” by opening up foreign markets for American surplus goods protected by U.S. naval might.

In another, he said that the Republican Party’s large policy was “only imperialistic in the sense that Jefferson’s policy in Louisiana was imperialistic, only military in the sense that Jackson’s policy toward the Seminoles or Custer’s toward the Sioux embodied militarism.” Like many who believed in Anglo-Saxon superiority, Roosevelt saw other races as inferior and, if they were lucky, could be taught civilization by the white man’s “benevolent assimilation.”

Imperialists were fond of throwing the true nature of U.S. foreign policy into the faces of their opponents, noting the westward expansion of the country and its violent annexing of Indian and Mexican land and ruling it without the consent of the original inhabitants. And they were right: What makes crossing an ocean to conquer foreign lands any more ghastly than subduing a large swath of North America that wasn’t U.S. soil? It’s an answer the anti-imperialists as well as even Kinzer, whose anti-imperial sympathies shine through the pages, never adequately answer. The United States was an imperialist nation long before its exploits during the Spanish-American War. The difference at the turn of the 20th century was that America didn’t just want to dominate the Western Hemisphere. Now it wanted dominion over the world.

It is then no surprise, then, that the McKinley administration didn’t believe the Constitution followed the flag. For the people of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Gaum, and the Philippines, the Bill of Rights didn’t exist. The Supreme Court agreed in a series of 1901 rulings known as the “insular cases,” which gave judicial blessing to the idea that the United States could rule foreign countries by decree. Instead of being governed by the Constitution, those people existed under something approximating martial law, according to Kinzer.

In the Philippines, the result was the dehumanization, slaughter, and torture of the islands’ peoples. “It is not civilized warfare, but we are not dealing with civilized people. The only thing they know and fear is force, violence, and brutality, and we give it to them,” wrote one reporter for the Philadelphia Ledger approvingly.

In 41 months of war, writes Kinzer, the U.S. military captured Aguinaldo and killed an estimated 20,000 “insurgents” fighting for their freedom. Hundreds of thousands of civilians also died because of the war, mostly from disease. More than 4,200 American combatants would die, as well as the commander in chief: on September 6, 1901, an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The 28-year-old unemployed steelworker’s motive: American crimes in the Philippines. “Now look!” exclaimed Sen. Mark Hanna on the funeral train back to Washington. “That damned cowboy is president of the United States!”

“The stars replaced by the skull and cross-bone”

For Twain, all was lost.

“It was impossible to save the Great Republic,” he wrote privately. “She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work.” American atrocities led Twain to bitterly propose a new flag for the Philippine Islands under U.S. military control. “We can have a special one — our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bone,” wrote Twain.

That black flag full of skulls and crossbones now flies over the U.S. Capitol, and it isn’t coming down any time soon. The United States is an empire with no recognizable domestic opposition. The imperialist Theodore Roosevelt was right: many Americans believe it is the right of the U.S. government to rule the world. But the anti-imperialists such as Carnegie, Schurz, and Twain were also correct. Empire will be our undoing, for it is not a reflection of our greatness and benevolence, but of our weakness and savagery.

Kinzer has written an important book on a well-trod area of American history because it’s a reminder that large segments of the American population were ardent anti-imperialists and that isolationism wasn’t always a dirty word. Instead, anti-imperialists, as Kinzer notes, “were conservatives who looked back to old virtues, not ahead to global power.” Whether Americans can rediscover and recapture their founding philosophy of noninterventionism remains to be seen. If they don’t, a reckoning is coming, and it’s long overdue.


Upsurge in big earthquakes predicted for 2018 as Earth rotation slows

Scientists say number of severe quakes is likely to rise strongly next year because of a periodic slowing of the Earth’s rotation

November 18, 2017

by Robin McKie

The Guardian

Scientists have warned there could be a big increase in numbers of devastating earthquakes around the world next year. They believe variations in the speed of Earth’s rotation could trigger intense seismic activity, particularly in heavily populated tropical regions.

Although such fluctuations in rotation are small – changing the length of the day by a millisecond – they could still be implicated in the release of vast amounts of underground energy, it is argued.

The link between Earth’s rotation and seismic activity was highlighted last month in a paper by Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana in Missoula presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

“The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year,” Bilham told the Observer last week.

In their study, Bilham and Bendick looked at earthquakes of magnitude 7 and greater that had occurred since 1900. “Major earthquakes have been well recorded for more than a century and that gives us a good record to study,” said Bilham.

They found five periods when there had been significantly higher numbers of large earthquakes compared with other times. “In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year,” said Bilham. “The rest of the time the average figure was around 15 major earthquakes a year.”

The researchers searched to find correlations between these periods of intense seismic activity and other factors and discovered that when Earth’s rotation decreased slightly it was followed by periods of increased numbers of intense earthquakes. “The rotation of the Earth does change slightly – by a millisecond a day sometimes – and that can be measured very accurately by atomic clocks,” said Bilham.

Bilham and Bendick found that there had been periods of around five years when Earth’s rotation slowed by such an amount several times over the past century and a half. Crucially, these periods were followed by periods when the numbers of intense earthquakes increased.

“It is straightforward,” said Bilham. “The Earth is offering us a five-year heads-up on future earthquakes.”

This link is particularly important because Earth’s rotation began one of its periodic slowdowns more than four years ago. “The inference is clear,” said Bilham. “Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes. We have had it easy this year. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018.”

Exactly why decreases in day length should be linked to earthquakes is unclear although scientists suspect that slight changes in the behaviour of Earth’s core could be causing both effects.

In addition, it is difficult to predict where these extra earthquakes will occur – although Bilham said they found that most of the intense earthquakes that responded to changes in day length seemed to occur near the equator. About one billion people live in the Earth’s tropical regions.


Turkey pulls troops out of NATO exercise over ‘enemy’ list

November 17, 2017


ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey is pulling 40 soldiers out of a NATO exercise in Norway, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, after his name appeared in a list of enemies on a poster at the drill, an incident that drew an apology from both the military alliance and Oslo.

Turkey has the second largest army in the alliance after the United States, and it borders Syria, Iraq and Iran, lending it great strategic importance for NATO. But the relationship has become increasingly fractious as Ankara drifts away from the alliance and the European Union, alarming the West.

Erdogan said an “enemy poster”, featuring his name on one side and a picture of modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, on the other, was unfurled at the training exercise in Norway, prompting a decision by Turkey’s military chief and European Union minister to pull the troops out.

“They said they had decided to pull our troops out and will do so, so we told them to not stop and go ahead … take our 40 soldiers out of there,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in Ankara.

Commenting on the incident at the alliance’s Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “I apologize for the offense that has been caused.”

“The incidents were the result of an individual’s actions and do not reflect the views of NATO,” said Stoltenberg, who is a former Norwegian prime minister, in a written statement.

The individual involved, a civilian contractor seconded by Norway and not a NATO employee, was immediately removed from the exercise, Stoltenberg said. It would be up for the Norwegian authorities to decide on any disciplinary action, he added.

”Turkey is a valued NATO Ally, which makes important contributions to Allied security, Stoltenberg said.

In a separate statement, Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said the offending message had been published on a computer network used during the exercise.

“The message does not reflect Norway’s views or policies and I apologize for the content of the message,” he said, adding there would be a thorough investigation followed by “appropriate measures”.

Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels and Terje Solsvik in Oslo; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler, Gareth Jones


Germany replaces US as country with best international image

Germany enjoys the best reputation of any country in the world, according to the latest Nation Brands Index. The survey found that there is much more than Germany’s economic motor driving the positive image.

November 17, 2017


Germany has replaced the US as the country with the best “brand image,” according to a new study of 50 countries released Thursday.

The Nation Brands Index (NBI) survey, carried out by German-based market research firm GfK and the British political consultant Simon Anholt, measured public opinion around the world on “the power and quality of each country’s ‘brand image.'”

Germany moved up to first place after coming in second in 2016. The US dropped from top to sixth, with France, Britain, Canada and Japan taking spots two to five.

Not just a pretty car

The study calculated the final NBI score by researching how well people viewed a country across six categories: its people, governance, exports, tourism, investment and immigration, and culture and heritage.

The land of sausages, Merkel and “Made in Germany” was in the top five in all but one category. Only in “tourism” did Germany fall outside the top five, coming in 10th.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed the results, saying: “Germany’s image no longer rests on our economic strength. People think we’re capable of much in the world.”

‘The Trump effect’

Foreigners’ views of the US worsened considerably compared to 2016, particularly in the category “governance,” where it slipped from spot 19 to spot 23.

The “Trump effect” explains the fall, according to Anholt.

“The loss of the US’s image in the governance category is indicative of the Trump effect, which was triggered by President Trump’s policies and his ‘America First’ message,” he said.

Americans themselves nevertheless viewed their country more positively than in 2016.

France back, Britain steady

France went up three spots after coming in fifth in 2016 thanks to better scores in “governance” and “investment and immigration.”

The land of fine wine, Balzac and Voltaire came in No. 1 for “culture.”

Britain stayed steady at spot 3, despite fears the country’s exit from the European Union (EU) would damage the country’s international image.



What if Ken Starr Was Right?

November 18, 2017

by Ross Douthat

The New York Times

In the longstanding liberal narrative about Bill Clinton and his scandals, the one pushed by Clinton courtiers and ratified in media coverage of his post-presidency, our 42nd president was only guilty of being a horndog, his affairs were nobody’s business but his family’s, and oral sex with Monica Lewinsky was a small thing that should never have put his presidency in peril.

That narrative could not survive the current wave of outrage over male sexual misconduct.

So now a new one may be forming for the age of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump. In this story, Kenneth Starr and the Republicans are still dismissed as partisan witch hunters. But liberals might be willing to concede that the Lewinsky affair was a pretty big deal morally, a clear abuse of sexual power, for which Clinton probably should have been pressured to resign.

This new narrative lines up with what’s often been my own assessment of the Clinton scandals. I have never been a Clinton hater; indeed, I’ve always been a little mystified by the scale of Republican dislike for the most centrist of recent Democratic leaders. So I’ve generally held what I’ve considered a sensible middle-ground position on his sins — that he should have stepped down when the Lewinsky affair came to light, but that the Republican effort to impeach him was a hopeless attempt to legislate against dishonor.

But a moment of reassessment is a good time to reassess things for yourself, so I spent this week reading about the lost world of the 1990s. I skimmed the Starr Report. I leafed through books by George Stephanopoulos and Joe Klein and Michael Isikoff. I dug into Troopergate and Whitewater and other first-term scandals. I reacquainted myself with Gennifer Flowers and Webb Hubbell, James Riady and Marc Rich.

After doing all this reading, I’m not sure my reasonable middle ground is actually reasonable. It may be that the conservatives of the 1990s were simply right about Clinton, that once he failed to resign he really deserved to be impeached.

Yes, the Republicans were too partisan, the Starr Report was too prurient and Clinton’s haters generated various absurd conspiracy theories.

But the Clinton operation was also extraordinarily sordid, in ways that should be thrown into particular relief by the absence of similar scandals in the Obama administration, which had perfervid enemies and circling investigators as well.

The sexual misconduct was the heart of things, but everything connected to Clinton’s priapism was bad: the use of the perks of office to procure women, willing and unwilling; the frequent use of that same power to buy silence and bully victims; and yes, the brazen public lies and perjury.

Something like Troopergate, for instance, in which Arkansas state troopers claimed to have served as Clinton’s panderers and been offered jobs to buy their silence, is often recalled as just a right-wing hit job. But if you read The Los Angeles Times’s reporting on the allegations (which included phone records confirming the troopers’ account of a mistress Clinton was seeing during his presidential transition) and Stephanopoulos’s portrayal of Clinton’s behavior in the White House when the story broke, the story seems like it was probably mostly true.

I have less confidence about what was real in the miasma of Whitewater. But with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, we know what happened: A president being sued for sexual harassment tried to buy off a mistress-turned-potential-witness with White House favors, and then committed perjury serious enough to merit disbarment. Which also brought forward a compelling allegation from Juanita Broaddrick that the president had raped her.

The longer I spent with these old stories, the more I came back to a question: If exploiting a willing intern is a serious enough abuse of power to warrant resignation, why is obstructing justice in a sexual harassment case not serious enough to warrant impeachment? Especially when the behavior is part of a longstanding pattern that also may extend to rape? Would any feminist today hesitate to take a similar opportunity to remove a predatory studio head or C.E.O.?

There is a common liberal argument that our present polarization is the result of constant partisan escalations on the right — the rise of Newt Gingrich, the steady Hannitization of right-wing media.

Some of this is true. But returning to the impeachment imbroglio made me think that in that case the most important escalators were the Democrats. They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country.

And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism — feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation.

For which, it’s safe to say, we have all been amply punished since.




Our Saudi Allies and Their Cooperation in American Political Fun and Games

November 19, 2017

by Christian Jürs

The deadly attacks by a team of Saudi terrorists against American targets on September 11, 2001, was in no way a secret venture. Almost from its inception, its progress was known to, and closely followed by, the intelligence agencies of Britain, Russia, Germany and Israel. All of these countries, without exception, duly notified the American authorities about a pending attack, by aircraft, against American targets. The Israeli Foreign Intelligence agency, the Mossad, had actually penetrated the leadership of the group centered in Hollywood, Florida, and made regular reports on the pending attack to their government. The Israeli government, in turn, made full disclosure to the highest level of authority in Washington.

Interestingly enough, the man who formulated the attack, Osama bin Ladin, was a personal friend of the American president, George Bush, and his very wealthy Saudi family had been investors in Bush’s Arbusto Energy Oil Company, founded in 1978.Another big investor was BCCI (Bank of Credit & Commerce) that later was shut down in July of 1991, charged with multibillion-dollar fraud and which had been heavily involved in drug money laundering, arms brokering, covert intelligence work, bribery of government officials and aid to terrorists.

Several members of the Bush family were heavy investors in the Carlyle Group, a defense contractor and investment fund with numerous interests in the Middle East, run by former Reagan administration Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci. Former President George H. W. Bush attended an investment meeting at the Washington, D.C. Ritz-Carlton hotel on September 10, 2001 and also a meeting with Shafiq bin Laden, representing joint interests of the Saudi Binladin Group and Carlyle.

In addition to the question of American control of oil and natural gas deliveries, there was also an internal political issue. It should be noted that during the previous administration of William Clinton, the American right wing, personified by the Republicans, fought a long, loud and effective public relations battle against what they saw was Clinton’s left wing policies. There was a steady drumfire of attacks, mostly from the far right Evangelicals, about Clinton’s various affairs and also about alleged financial peculations when he was governor of Arkansas.

Always extremely manipulative and often very vicious, the Republican leadership, coupled with outside business interests, maneuvered George Bush into the Oval Office by a mixture of bribery, political pressure and deliberate vote fraud in Florida.

When a narrow Supreme Court majority placed Bush into office, Dick Cheney, a fixture of the very far right Republicans, appointed himself to the office of Vice President.

Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney was born in Nebraska in 1941, Cheney grew up in Casper, Wyoming, later attending  Yale University. Cheney dropped out during his sophomore year, and eventually earned a political science degree at the University of Wyoming in 1965.

After winning a postgraduate fellowship that took him to Washington, Cheney was employed by the Nixon administration as a special assistant to Donald Rumsfeld, who at that time was director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and later White House counsel.

In August 1974, after President Nixon resigned from office in disgrace , Rumsfeld was called to join the White House staff as an assistant to Ford, and Cheney moved along with Rumsfeld. Hard-working, loyal and good-natured, Cheney made a good impression and became Ford’s chief of staff from 1975 to 1977.

A very strong neo-conservative and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton Company, which greatly benefitted from contracts with the U.S. government, especially in the war with Iraq Cheney has ties to the Carlyle Group, is a former Senior Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute,has  served on the Advisory Board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and has been linked to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

Cheney opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, has an anti-abortion advocate, and supports prayer in school. While serving in Congress, he was one of 21 members opposing the sale ban of armor-piercing bullets; was one of only four to oppose the ban on guns that can get through metal detectors; opposed sanctions against the apartheid-era South Africa in the mid-1980s along with voting against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela; voted for a constitutional amendment to ban school busing; voted against Head Start; and voted against extending the Clean Water Act in 1987.

Cheney was appointed head of Halliburton in 1995. This company was, and still is, the largest worldwide providers of equipment and services to the oil industry, Cheney was appointed to head this company solely because of his previous government employments and the contacts this supplied. During his five years as CEO, Cheney nearly doubled the size of Halliburton’s government contracts, totaling $2.3 billion.

Cheney continued to draw a $1,000,000 per year paycheck from Halliburton while serving as the Vice President.He stated a number of times that he saw no conflict of interest between taking this paycheck, and participating in White House decisions that have allocated billions of dollars of bids to Halliburton that have not gone to open tender.

Since he and Bush occupied the White House, Cheney managed to accomplish a great deal in the fields of personal enrichment and political gain. As Vice President, Cheney met with the heads of oil, gas, and nuclear power companies, asked for and got their needs and requirements and turned them into a new national Energy Plan. Cheney’s close relations with the later-convicted swindler, Ken Lay of Enron, is a case in point. Given his key role in determining the policy and practice of the Bush administration, an understanding of Cheney’s history is important

While Cheney was running Halliburton, there was a 91`% increase in U.S. government contracts with that firm.

  • In 2000, before assuming office as Vice President, Cheney’s income from Halliburton:was $36,086,635
  • American energy companies gave the 2000 Bush/Cheney presidential campaign $1,800,000
  • He convinced the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. to lend Halliburton and oil companies another $1.5 billion, backed by U.S. taxpayers. Unfortunately some of these loans went to a Russian company with ties to drug dealing and organized crime. Under Cheney’s leadership Halliburton and its subsidiaries supported, or even ordered, human rights violations and broke international laws.
  • Libya engaged a foreign subsidiary of Halliburton Company, Brown & Root, to perform millions of dollars worth of work. At the time, Libya was strongly suspected of harboring and encouraging terrorist activity, Brown & Root was subsequently fined $3.8 million for violating Libyan sanctions. (Although Cheney wasn’t leading Halliburton when these sales started, subsidiaries’ sales to Libya continued throughout his tenure.)
  • Halliburton became the biggest oil contractor for Iraq, selling more than $73 million in goods and services to Saddam Hussein’s regime although there were firm U.S. sanctions on Iraq at the time. ,

Karl Christian Rove became Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush until his sudden resignation on August 31, 2007. He once headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives.

Rove influenced dealings with Iraq and North Korea, according to Bush administration sources. For instance, when the U.S. was notified, through formal diplomatic channels, that North Korea had nuclear technology, Congress was in the midst of discussing the Iraqi war resolution. Rove counseled the president to keep that information from Congress for 12 days, until the debate was finished, so it would not affect the vote. He was also reported to be present at a war strategy meeting concerning whether to attack Syria after Iraq. Rove said the timing was not right.

Yet, having the political advisor involved in that decision is wrong. It was Rove who kept President Bush relentlessly adherent to his obsessive goal of a permanent Republican-controlled executive, making the argument that America is safe only in their hands – Rove, highly intelligent and extremely arrogant, firmly believed himself an expert in both policy and politics because he could see no distinction between the two.

This matters for a number of reasons. There is always a time during any president’s administration when what is best for the future of the country diverges from what best serves that president’s political future. It was always Rove’s firm intention to push the president in the direction of reelection rather than the country’s best interests.

What Rove always wanted to achieve, was nothing less than a major alignment in US politics, making the Republicans the sole party of government for a generation or more.

In June 2003 powerful far right wing writer, Grover Norquist wrote “In crafting its agenda for economic reform, the Bush administration has the luxury of being able to think and plan over a full eight years…This guarantee of united Republican government has allowed the Bush administration to work and think long-term….Republicans are looking at decades of dominance in the House and Senate and having the Presidency with some regularity.”  According to Norquist “every time the government gets smaller there are fewer Democratic precinct workers in the world…It is a virtuous cycle.”.

Now that we have some background on the players, let us consider the origins of the 9/11 attacks on American targets.

We have taken a brief look at the major players in the game and have taken even a briefer look at some of the attending circumstances behind the Saudi terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Now it is time to outline what lay behind the actual attack. High level people in the government are laboring under the misapprehension that they are speaking over secured telephone lines or email or faxing over other secure services but in the main, they are living in a fool’s paradise.

The President does have very secure lines of communications but neither Cheney nor Rove did. Not only can our very own NSA listen in to conversations held from Cheney’s “Secret Command Post” but so can others, to include the British and Russian intelligence agencies. Our Army has been reading top secret Israeli diplomatic, military and intelligence messages for some time And even the PRC and the French are not without success in pulling messages off the air and breaking even the most complicated algorithmic encryption.

It is from these sources that it has been possible to put together a plot that not even the most creative of the bloggers could possibly have imagined.

It is well known that the far right wing of the Republican Party was determined to get control of the White House just as they then had control of Congress. They were well on their way to stacking the third branch of our government, the judicial. The main architect of this ambitious plan was Karl Rove. Very intelligent but totally amoral and personally vicious, Rove was a powerful influence over George Bush, converting him to a form of aggressive Evangelical Christianity and getting him elected to the Governorship of Texas. Rove was instrumental in convincing the power elite of the time to support Bush as the Republican candidate for President in 2000 and the manipulations to put the colorless Bush into the Oval Office have been covered extensively in the media and on the Internet. There were deliberate voter frauds including fixed voting machines, machines made and controlled by a strong Bush supporter. There was obvious and deliberate voter fraud in Florida, a state run by Bush’s brother and Rove had seen to it that there was a bare majority of the Supreme Court to, in effect, job Bush straight into the White House.

Now, the plotters reasoned, they had control of the executive, the legislative and the judicial. There was only one more factor to take into account in the final securing of absolute power and that was the American public.

Not even the most accomplished of the watchers can say with certainty when the final chapter was first broached but enough has been pieced together to make a thoroughly believable scenario. In all probability it was Rove, a man with a good understanding of history, who realized that a so-called wartime President could gather unto himself, and his supporters, almost unlimited powers and among these was the power to frighten the public into obeying his dictates and the excuse for establish these dictates in the first place.

During the First World Ear, Woodrow Wilson set up a virtual dictatorship in the United States during his war with Germany and, of course, there was the seizure of power by Hitler in 1933 after he had been appointed a Chancellor with limited powers. Coupled with this burning desire for long-term, if not permanent, political control in the United States, there was also the issue of economic control but with a cowed public and control over all three branches of government, economic control would be a very easy matter to accomplish.

It was well known that the United States was in growing need of natural gas and, most especially oil. It was also less well known that the once-enormous Saudi fields were running dry and that Iraq had more oil than Saudi Arabia. Also, the Iraqi dictator, Hussein, had physically bombarded Israel during the Gulf War and he was viewed by that country as a great menace. The strong, overly strong many asserted, influence Israel and its organs in the United States had was another factor in the plan.

It was the gradual inclusion of top Israeli political and military leaders in the plan that allowed the Russian GRU to discover it. Rove saw a brief, Bismarckian campaign against Iraq that would gain the United States access to that country’s oil and to establish even stronger ties with Israel and its domestic support of Republican policies.

What was lacking was a casus belli, a cause for war. It was in this area that Bush and Cheney had excellent prospects. Osama bin Ladin was the son of a very powerful Saudi businessman who had the highest-level connections in his country and whose family activities were well known to Cheney because of his tenure as head of Halliburton.

The bin Ladins also had very good connections with George Bush and had invested heavily in his company, Arbusto. Certain favors could then certainly be asked and, if everyone could see profit in them, granted. It is known that the great bulk of the actual 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens (1 Egyptian, two UAE, 1 Lebanese and 15 Saudis) and they were ordered to attack the United States, again (there had been one unsuccessful attack on the WTC on February 26, 1993, when a car bomb was detonated in the parking garage below the North Tower of the WTC. The 1,500 lb explosive device was intended to knock the North Tower into the South Tower , bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people.)

The bomb was badly situated and it killed six people and injured over a thousand. Herein lay the seed for the Rovian casus belli, only this time, a more spectacular attacks needed to be launched to achieve any hoped for results in both supplying a Pearl Harbor-type excuse for war but also a power tool to be used to frighten the mass of the public into terrible obedience to the wishes of a protecting government.

There were so many contacts with the Saudi elements that no one could possibly keep track of them but it was obvious to most foreign agencies after the attack that its origins were never in doubt. And to further assist the plot, the Israelis were brought into the fold. Their competent foreign intelligence, the Mossad, was already at work undercover in the United States, spying on anti-Israel Moslim activists so it surprised no one when the Mossad, using Yemini Jews, infiltrated the Atta group in Hollywood, Florida. The incident would be executed by people controlled by bin Ladin but supervised by the Mossad.

But it was all very well and good for a trio of highly-placed plotters to scheme inside a relatively secure White House but as the plans were developed and others brought into the execution of it, the chance for serious leaks became greater.

Although the government quickly enlisted the aid of a legion of conspiracy people to cloak their actions with absurd rumors and distracting fictions, there were still many who questioned the attacks but as the years have passed, the subject has grown stale and so grown over by a huge jungle of lies, fictions and confusion that like the earlier Kennedy assassination, it will pass into the oblivion of history.

The attacks went off as planned, Bush played the role of savior and in the wake of the attack, fear became the order of the day and fear was constantly being cultivated by the Bush people and harvested at the polls.

But the Rove people failed in two areas and it was a failure that eventually brought down their plans. The Saudi attack that was aborted in the fields of Pennsylvania was intended to crash into the Capitol building when Congress was in session, causing huge casualties and giving Bush the excuse to govern by decree until some vague future time when new elections to replace the dead or crippled members of that body could be held.

The second area of failure was the refusal of the senior commanders of the Army to become involved in neo-Fascistic roundups of any dissident citizenry or to run any barbed wire detention centers.

By constantly crying about the wolves, the Bush conspirators exceeded their brief and eventually, the public ignored the color coding and the exhortations to use duct tape on windows to prevent radioactive material from entering their homes.

In short, the plotters could only go so far without eventually enforcing their wishes and the plot, which killed a huge number of people and bankrupted the country, fell apart.

But fortunately, so also did the far right Republicans and God willing, we shall not see their like again.

Here is a very brief timeline that contains items of interest:

July 4-14, 2001: Osama bin Laden receives treatments for kidney disease at the American hospital in Dubai and meets with a CIA official who returns to CIA headquarters on July 15. [Le Figaro, October 31st, 2001]

July 5, 2001: The government’s top counter-terrorism official, Richard Clarke, states to a group gathered at the White House: “Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.” The group included the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the INS. Clarke directs every counter-terrorist office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises and place domestic rapid response teams on much shorter alert.

July 26, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft stops flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment. [CBS, 7/26/01]

Late July 2001: The U.S. and UN ignore warnings from the Taliban foreign minister that bin Laden is planning an imminent huge attack on US soil. The FBI and CIA also fail to take seriously, warnings that Islamic fundamentalists have enrolled in flight schools across the U.S. [Independent, 9/7/02]

August 2001: Russian President Vladimir Putin orders Russian intelligence to warn the U.S. government “in the strongest possible terms” of imminent attacks by suicide pilots on airports and government buildings. [MS-NBC interview with Putin, September 15, 2001,]

August 6, 2001: The CIA also presents a warning to the President, explicitly concerned with terrorism inside the United States, indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. Actual content of this message has been the subject of considerable debate, with White House officials understandably downplaying its significance. [Time magazine, May 16, 2002; New York Times, May 16, 2002]

August 8-23, 2001: Two high ranking Israeli Mossad agents come to Washington to warn the FBI and CIA that up to 200 terrorists have slipped into the U.S. and are planning an imminent major assault in the U.S. Indications point to a highly visible target. [Telegraph, 9/16/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01; “Fox News,” 5/17/02] The Mossad gives the CIA a list of terrorists. A major Israeli spy ring was hard on the heels of at least four members of the 9/11 hijackers, including lead hijacker Mohammed Atta. [BBC, 10/2/01]

September 10, 2001: NSA intercepts two messages in Arabic. One message read: “Tomorrow is zero hour,” and the second: “The match begins tomorrow.” [New York Times, August 10, 2002; Reuters, June 19, 2002] On June 19, 2002, CNN reported the contents of these two National Security Agency intercepts. Other news outlets, including the Washington Post, also reported on the intercepts. [New York Times, August 10, 2002]

September 10, 2001: A particularly urgent warning was received the night before the attacks, causing some top Pentagon brass to suddenly cancel travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of “sudden security concerns.” [Newsweek, 9/12/2001] “Why that same information was not available to the 266 people who died aboard the four hijacked commercial aircraft may become a hot topic on the Hill.” [Newsweek, 9/13/2001]

September 11, 2001: General Mahmud of the ISI, a friend of Mohammed Atta, is visiting Washington on behalf of the Taliban. [MS-NBC, Oct. 7, 2001]

September 11, 2001: Employees of Odigo, Inc. of Israel, one of the world’s largest instant messaging companies, with offices in New York, receives threat warnings of an imminent attack on the WTC less than two hours before the first plane hits the WTC. Law enforcement authorities have gone silent about any investigation of this. Odigo Research and Development offices in Israel are located in the city of Herzliyya, a suburb of Tel Aviv which is the same location as the Institute for Counter Terrorism which breaks early details of insider trading on 9-11. [Ha’aretz, 9/26/2001; Reuters, June 19, 2002]

September 13-19, 2001: Members of bin Laden’s family are driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington, where they leave the country on a private charter plane when airports reopen three days after the attacks. [New York Times, September 30, 2001]

September 19, 2001: The FBI claims there may have been six hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. [New York Times, 9/19/01; CBS, 9/14/01; Guardian, 10/13/01] Authorities have identified teams that total as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 of the men have been accounted for. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]

October 10, 2001: U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain paid a call on the Pakistani oil minister. A previously abandoned Unocal pipeline from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to the Pakistani coast, for the purpose of selling oil and gas to China, is now back on the table “in view of recent geopolitical developments.” [Pakistan, the Frontier Post]

September 23, 2006: the French newspaper L’Est Républicain quoted a report from the French secret service (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure, DGSE) stating that Osama bin Laden had died in Pakistan on 23 August 2006, after contracting a case of typhoid fever that paralyzed his lower limbs. Saudi security services first heard of bin Laden’s death on 4 September 2006. The Osama death was reported by the Saudi Arabian secret service to its government, which in turn quickly reported it to the French secret service. It is to be noted, however, that since his death, bin Ladin has released a number of tape recorded interviews that somehow seemed to have strongly supported the Bush administration’s continued terrorization of the American public.

These tapes have been, and are being, made by a CIA-owned firm in Texas. Any educated Arabic person will tell you that while the language is technically correct, it is badly flawed in that no Arab would use such wooden and improbable phrases in his speech. This is not particularly surprising because the CIA is not known for either its intelligence, subtlety or creative ability.




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