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TBR News October 17, 2018

Oct 17 2018

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

Washington, D.C. October 18, 2018: “Although it is becoming evident to everyone but rabid Trump supporters that his dear friend, the Saudi Crown Prince, had a journalist kidnapped and cut to pieces while he was still alive, there is only muted silence from the Oval Office.

The Crown Prince is obviously suffering from delusions of grandeur as witnessed by his paying 400 million dollars for an obviously fake Leonardo DaVinci painting and deliberately blowing up school busses filled with the children of his political opponents.

If the public expects President Trump to sanction him as he has done repeatedly to Russia for daring to build a pipeline carrying Russian gas to Europe, they will be waiting in vain.

The Saudis have taken Trumps measure and by stuffing his pockets with money, they have bought his inaction.

It was said that it was so cold in Washington last winter that a Congressman was seen with his hands in his own pockets and, unfortuntely for the country and the world, the same applies to the sitting, or squatting, President.”

 

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 53
  • Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published
  • Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdoğan
  •   The Deadly Gay Saudi Camel Jockey
  •   Saudi Targeting of Yemen Is Worse Than Khashoggi’s Disappearance
  •   The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  •   U.S. courts abruptly tossed 9,000 deportation cases. Here’s why
  •   Salesforce CEO: tech billionaires ‘hoard their money’ and won’t help homeless

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 53

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Feb 6, 2018

“MS-13 recruits through our broken immigration system, violating our borders. And it just comes right through — whenever they want to come through, they come through.”

Source: Roundtable on MS-13

in fact: More than 415,000 people were apprehended trying to illegally cross the border from Mexico in the 2017 fiscal year, according to U.S. government statistics. It is not true that gang members can simply waltz in whenever they choose to do so.

 

“This is after, actually, removing thousands of them (MS-13 members) out — some into the prisons — but literally thousands of people are removed out. But they come back as fast as we take them out. Different ones — not even the same ones — different ones. But they come back.”

Source: Roundtable on MS-13

in fact: “Literally thousands” is an exaggeration. The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, said in December that “a renewed focus on ID’ing & dismantling the ultra-violent MS-13 gang led to nearly 800 arrests in (fiscal year) 2017, for an 83 per cent increase over last year.” That figure is disputed, as some of the people arrested may not be actual members of the gang. Even if they are, though, that is far from “thousands and thousands and thousands.” In November, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed the U.S. had “worked with our partners in Central America to arrest and charge some 4,000 MS-13 members.” But those additional arrests were made abroad; the people arrested were not deported from the U.S. or put in U.S. prison

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

  • Feb 10, 2018

“Republicans want to fix DACA far more than the Democrats do.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is transparently inaccurate. DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by a Democrat, Obama, to provide work authorization and protection from deportation for “DREAMers,” unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Trump, a Republican, cancelled the program. Democrats are now urging him to simply re-protect DACA enrollees without conditions. Conversely, Trump and other Republicans are demanding steep concessions — billions of dollars for a border wall, a reduction of one third or more in legal immigration — in exchange for protecting DACA enrollees, and some conservative Republicans continue to deride any permanent protection for enrollees as “amnesty.” In short: Trump is free to argue, as some DREAMers are, that Democrats are not fighting hard enough for DACA enrollees, but there is no reasonable argument that Republicans are trying harder than Democrats.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“The Dems had all three branches of government back in 2008-2011, and they decided not to do anything about DACA.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: We checked the “Dems had all three branches of government back in 2008-2011” in a separate fact check. There are two things wrong about the second part of this sentence: “They decided not to do anything about DACA.” First: DACA, Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, protecting “DREAMer” unauthorized immigrants, did not exist until 2012, so Democrats could not have “decided not to do anything about DACA” between 2008 and 2011. Second: if Trump is simply claiming that Democrats decided not to do anything to protect DREAMers while they controlled Congress in 2009 and 2010, that is also false. In 2010, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act, which would have provided DREAMers a path to citizenship. The bill died in the Senate, however, because Republicans opposed to the bill used filibuster tactics.

“The Dems had all three branches of government back in 2008-2011…”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Leaving aside the fact that Trump is describing the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House as “three branches” — the House and Senate are part of one branch, the legislative branch — it is inaccurate that the Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House over this period. Democrats took control of these three entities in 2009; Republican George W. Bush was in charge through 2008. (Also, Democrats surrendered control of the House just three days into 2011. It’s more accurate to say Democrats had control of all three in 2009 and 2010.)

  • Feb 11, 2018

“Same negative stories over and over again! No wonder the People no longer trust the media, whose approval ratings are correctly at their lowest levels in history!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There was data to support this claim about trust in media in 2016, but no longer: trust has increased in the Trump era. In September 2016, the Gallup polling firm found that just 32 per cent of Americans said they had “a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media,” the lowest level since Gallup began asking the question in 1972. But in September 2017, Gallup found a nine-point increase from this historic low: the new figure was 41 per cent, one point higher than in 2012 and 2015. Other polling firms have also shown increases during Trump’s presidency from the lows of 2016. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted during three periods of 2017 found that the percentage of people who had confidence in the press rose from 39 per cent in November 2016 to 48 per cent in September 2017.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

Feb 12, 2018

“This will be a big week for Infrastructure. After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no basis for the “$7 trillion” figure. During the 2016 campaign, Trump cited a $6 trillion estimate that appeared to be taken from a 2013 report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. (That report estimated $2 trillion in costs up to that point but said the total could rise an additional $4 trillion by 2053.) Trump, however, used the $6 trillion as if it was a current 2016 figure. He later explained that since additional time has elapsed since the campaign, he believes the total is now $7 trillion. That is incorrect. The latest Brown report, issued in late 2017, put the current total at $4.3 trillion, and the total including estimated future costs at $5.6 trillion.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times  

“But we have to rebuild our infrastructure. You know, I said this morning, as of a couple of months ago, we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East — $7 trillion. What a mistake…As of a couple of months ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: There is no basis for the “$7 trillion” figure. During the 2016 campaign, Trump cited a $6 trillion estimate that appeared to be taken from a 2013 report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. (That report estimated $2 trillion in costs up to that point but said the total could rise an additional $4 trillion by 2053.) Trump, however, used the $6 trillion as if it was a current 2016 figure. He later explained that since additional time has elapsed since the campaign, he believes the total is now $7 trillion. That is incorrect. The latest Brown report, issued in late 2017, put the current total at $4.3 trillion, and the total including estimated future costs at $5.6 trillion.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

“Black unemployment is at the lowest level in history.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: Not by the time Trump was speaking in February. The Black unemployment rate did hit an all-time low (for the period the government began tracking Black unemployment separately in the early 1970s), 6.8 per cent, in December. But then, in January, it spiked to 7.7 per cent, a non-record. Trump was speaking a week and a half after the new rate was announced.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“Hispanic unemployment is at the lowest level in recorded history, which is really something that’s so great.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: The Hispanic unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point in January 2018, to a non-record 5 per cent. The record (since the government started measuring Hispanic unemployment separately in the early 1970s) is 4.8 per cent, achieved in 2006 and October and November 2017.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“Unemployment is at virtually record lows.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: This isn’t even true with the “virtually.” When he spoke in February 2018, the unemployment rate was 4.1 per cent. The unemployment rate was 1.2 per cent in 1944, during World War II. It was also well below 1.2 per cent on various occasions in the late 1940s and early 1950s. From January through September 1953, for example, the unemployment rate was never higher than 2.9 per cent.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“And he (Apple CEO Tim Cook) gave us a very big surprise two weeks ago — $350 billion — not million. Three-hundred-fifty million would have been a nice plant too. But he’s going to invest $350 billion, of which he’s taking $245 billion back.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: Apple made its announcement three weeks and five days prior to Trump’s remarks, not “two weeks”; Trump periodically moves up the date of good news to make it seem more recent. More importantly, though, Apple did not announce a $350 billion investment. While it did announce a “$350 billion” figure in January, the company, unlike Trump, made a point of separating its actual investment from its pre-existing spending. Its press release made clear that the new investment is only a fraction of the $350 billion total. It said: “Combining new investments and Apple’s current pace of spending with domestic suppliers and manufacturers — an estimated $55 billion for 2018 — Apple’s direct contribution to the US economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years.” In other words, Apple’s pre-existing 2018 spending would have put it on track for $275 billion in spending over five years if maintained.

Trump has repeated this claim 20 times

“And that’s the money we talked about coming back into this country. I think it’s going to be about $4 trillion. It was $2.5 trillion, but I’ve been using that number for years, so I know the number has gotten larger. It’s probably four. It could even be more than that.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: Trump’s “$4 trillion” estimate for the amount of corporate profits parked overseas is unsupported by any experts. The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months. An October 2017 report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) also pegged the number at $2.6 trillion, while Goldman Sachs pegged it at $3.1 trillion the same month. “There’s no world in which it’s $4 trillion,” ITEP senior policy analyst Richard Phillips said in November. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said in August. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity, when Trump made an estimate of $5 trillion in August.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

“But NAFTA has been — we lose a tremendous amount of money, at least $71 billion a year with Mexico.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: This frequent Trump claim has become more correct in recent weeks: the U.S.’s trade deficit in goods specifically was $71 billion in 2017, we have learned, up from $64 billion in 2016. However, Trump did not specify that he was talking about goods alone. Leaving aside his disputed characterization of a trade deficit as “losing” money, the trade balance includes trade in services as well as goods. Services trade, for which 2017 data was not immediately available, always brings down the U.S. deficit with Mexico by billions. In 2016, the U.S. had a services surplus of $8 billion with Mexico.

Trump has repeated this claim 34 times

“But NAFTA…We lose a lot of money with Canada.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with state and local officials on infrastructure plan

in fact: Leaving aside his disputed characterization of a trade deficit as “losing” money: when services trade is included, the U.S. has a substantial trade surplus with Canada. In 2016, according to the U.S. government’s Office of the Trade Representative, “the U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.” While the U.S. trade deficit with Canada in goods alone grew larger in 2017, going from $11 billion to $17.6 billion, services trade, for which 2017 data was not immediately available, almost certainly continued to give the U.S. a substantial positive sum.

Trump has repeated this claim 15 times

 

Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published

OECD says schemes selling either residency or citizenship threaten efforts to combat tax evasion

October 16, 2018

by Juliette Garside

The Guardian

A blacklist of 21 countries whose so-called “golden passport” schemes threaten international efforts to combat tax evasion has been published by the west’s leading economic thinktank.

Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding $3bn (£2.3bn) citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity.

In exchange for donations to a sovereign trust fund, or investments in property or government bonds, foreign nationals can become citizens of countries in which they have never lived. Other schemes, such as that operated by the UK, offer residency in exchange for sizable investments.

The programme operated by Malta is particularly popular because as a European member state its nationals, including those who buy citizenship, can live and work anywhere in the EU. The country has, since 2014, sold citizenship to more than 700 people, most of them from Russia, the former Soviet bloc, China and the Middle East.

But concern is growing among political leaders, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the schemes are open to abuse by criminals and sanctions-busting business people.

Transparency International and Global Witness, in a joint report published last week, described how the EU had gained nearly 100,000 new residents and 6,000 new citizens in the past decade through poorly managed arrangements that were “shrouded in secrecy”.

Also on the OECD blacklist are a handful of Caribbean nations that pioneered the modern-day methods for the marketing of citizenship. These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which has sold 16,000 passports since relaunching its programme in 2006.

After analysing residence and citizenship schemes operated by 100 countries, the OECD says it is naming those jurisdictions that attract investors by offering low personal tax rates on income from foreign financial assets, while also not requiring an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the country.

Second passports can be misused by those wishing to “hide assets held abroad”, according to the thinktank. Its flagship initiative is a framework for countries to cooperate in the fight against tax evasion by sharing information. Known as the Common Reporting Standard, the framework allows for details of bank accounts an individual might hold abroad to be sent to their home tax office.

The OECD believes the ease with which the wealthiest individuals can obtain another nationality is undermining information sharing. If a UK national declares themselves as Cypriot, for example, information about their offshore bank accounts could be shared with Cyprus instead of Britain’s HM Revenue and Customs.

“Schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction of tax residence,” the OECD warned.

The final names on the list are Bahrain, Colombia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of avoidance through the use of such schemes, by making sure that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.

 

Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdoğan

Press reports leaked audio suggesting journalist was drugged, killed and dismembered

October 17, 2018

by Bethan McKernan in Istanbul

The Guardian

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, travelled to Ankara and reiterated to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that the US was willing to assist the investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s fate as pro-government Turkish press published what it said were leaked details of his alleged murder in the Saudi consulate.

The dissident journalist was killed minutes after he arrived at the building in Istanbul to pick up marriage paperwork on 2 October, according to US and Turkish press reports of what the officials said were audio recordings that prove he was beaten, drugged, killed and dismembered.

Pompeo met Erdoğan and the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, briefly at Ankara’s Esenboğa airport on Wednesday morning, a day after Erdoğan had said police had found freshly painted walls and “toxic” substances during a search of the consulate, where Khashoggi was last seen alive two weeks ago.

Pompeo and Erdoğan posed for photographs but offered no comment to reporters on what was discussed.Çavuşoğlu described the two 40-minute meetings only as “beneficial and fruitful”.

Donald Trump defended Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in the face of mounting allegations that Riyadh was involved in the Saudi journalist’s alleged killing.

The Wall Street Journal, citing Turkish officials who had heard the recording, said Khashoggi was allegedly killed and dismembered in consul general Mohammad al-Otaibi’s office, who was in the room at the time. A voice on the recording can be heard inviting him to leave, the report said.

Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, a Saudi military forensics official, is reportedly heard putting on headphones to listen to music as he begins to dismember the body, and encourages other people in the room to do the same.

According to Middle East Eye, Khashoggi was dragged from the office to Otaibi’s study next door, where Tubaigy began cutting up his body on a table while he was still alive.

Turkish media said on Wednesday that Pompeo was expected to bring answers with him from Riyadh, his previous stop, where he met with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir. Pompeo described the visit as highly successful and said the Saudis had promised to carry out a “thorough, complete and transparent investigation”.

Anyone connected to any wrongdoing, whether a senior official or member of the royal family, would be held accountable in the Saudi investigation, he said.

The US secretary of state’s faith in the Saudi authorities to cooperate with the investigation into Khashoggi’s fate was echoed by Trump, who said in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday night that Riyadh had again denied it had anything to do with the journalist’s disappearance and remained “innocent until proven guilty”.

The US’s defence of its most important Arab ally may become harder to maintain as further details of Khashoggi’s alleged murder emerge and its links to the powerful crown prince.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that four of the men identified by Turkish media as part of a 15-man hit squad sent from Riyadh to silence Khashoggi were members of Bin Salman’s personal security detail. Another, Tubaigy, holds a senior position in the Saudi interior ministry.

The suspects’ direct links to the Saudi establishment weaken the suggestion made by Trump that the alleged murder could have been carried out by “rogue killers” in an unauthorised operation.

Investigators believe Khashoggi’s body was taken to the consul general’s house nearby, where it was disposed of.

Police set up barricades outside the residence on Tuesday evening to carry out a planned search of the premises, but Turkey is waiting for a joint agreement with Saudi Arabia to do so. Under the Vienna convention, diplomatic missions are considered foreign soil.

The consul general, who has not been seen in public since the scandal erupted, left Turkey on a commercial flight to Riyadh hours before his residence became part of the criminal investigation.

A search of the house and some diplomatic vehicles was planned for Wednesday evening, as well as a second sweep of the consulate.

Several Saudi investigators arrived at the consular residence on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the joint investigation.

The G7 foreign ministers said in a statement on Wednesday that they remained “very troubled” by Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“We, the G7 foreign ministers, of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the high representative of the European Union, affirm our commitment to defending freedom of expression and protection of a free press.

“Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account. We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced.”

 

The Deadly Gay Saudi Camel Jockey

October 17, 2018

by Caleb Einwechter

In official Washington, but very privately, the notorious Saudi Cown Prince,

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, is known as the Saudi Gilles de Rais, Baron de Rais. The baron was a friend of Joan of Arc was later was convicted and confessed as a rapist and serial killer of small children.

His behavior after he manipulated himself into the top ranks of the Saudi royal family have also earned him the disrespectful but accurate name of Caligula, the Rag Head Camel Jockey

He is the son of King Salman from his third spouse, Fahda bint Falah bin Sultan bin Hathleen.

Although the Crown Prince is married and has children, he is also well-known to US intelligence agencies as an aggressive homosexual with a preference for small Filipino boys, a significant number of whom seem to have totally vanished from his palace, never to be seen again. A small severed arm, with an identifiable tattoo was discovered in a trash dump near the royal palace but of the others, there has never been any sign of them or their obviously dismembered bodies.

Donald Trump has always had excellent relations with the Saudi royal family and in August of 2016, his son, Donald Jr. met with a representative of the Crown Prince who was offering to assist Trump’s presidential campaign. Also at the meeting were one Joel Zamel from Israel, an expert on social media manipulation and the controversial American Erik Prince, brother of Elisabeth DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education and founder of the notorious Blackwater professional military mercenaries.

It should be noted that when Trump’s financial manipulations led to bankruptcy, the only banks that would loan him money were Saudi banks. And on the day he became Crown Prince, U.S. President Donald Trump called Mohammed bin Salman to “congratulate him on his recent elevation.” Trump and the new crown prince pledged “close cooperation” on security and economic issues, according to the White House, and the two leaders also discussed the need to cut off support for terrorism and mutual support in the Saudi fight to establish a Sunni empire throughout the Muslim world.

On 10 January 2016, The Independent paper  reported that “the BND, the German intelligence agency, portrayed…Saudi defense minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman…as a political gambler who is destabilizing the Arab world through proxy wars in Yemen and Syria.” German officials afraid of “serious physical and economic retribution” reacted to the BND’s memo, saying the published statement “is not the position of the federal government”.

In November of 2017, Mohammed bin Salman tricked the Lebnanese Prime Minister Hariri into visiting Saudi Arabia and had him seized and forced to resign. The Crown Prince hated Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group based in Lebanon, whom the Saudis fear as hostile to a Sunni empire being constructed. Hariri eventually was released, went back to Lebanon and immediately annulled his resignation.

In October 2018 Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and a critic of the Crown Prince vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Turkish government has stated officially that Khashoggi was murdered at the consulate, and has specific video and audio recordings proving that Khashoggi was first tortured and then murdered, and that a medical forensics expert was part of the 15-man Saudi team seen entering and leaving the consulate at the time of the journalist’s disappearance.

Detailed American intelligence reports clearly indicate that the Crown Prince is a deviant, a serial killer, “power mad, sexually degenerate and completely unbalanced” and whose conduct is so bizarre and vicious that the end result of his actions will result in public revolt and a probable toppling of the current Saudi royal family.

That Saudi Arabia has been a major supplier of oil to the United States, coupled with their thinly veiled bribery of President Trump is well known and has prevented Trump from openly sanctioning Saudi Arabia or in breaking diplomatic relations with that corrupt and murderous regime.

 

Saudi Targeting of Yemen Is Worse Than Khashoggi’s Disappearance

October 12, 2018

by Patrick Cockburn

The Independent

The plot to supposedly murder Jamal Khashoggi, as apparently proved by Turkish audio and video evidence shown to US officials, is a grizzly mixture of savagery and stupidity: Jack the Ripper meets Inspector Clouseau. Neither element is surprising because violent overreaction to minor threats is a traditional feature of dictatorial rule. As seems to be the case with Saudi Arabia today, Iraq under Saddam Hussein made immense efforts to eliminate exiled critics who posed no danger to the regime.

It is the purpose of such alleged assassinations and kidnappings to not only silence dissident voices however obscure, but to also intimidate all opponents at home and abroad by showing that even a hint of criticism will be suppressed with maximum force. But it is in the nature of dictators that their judgement is unbalanced because they never hear opinions contrary to their own. Iraq invaded Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990 with disastrous results. Saudi Arabia started its war in Yemen in 2015, with similarly catastrophic results, and now appears to think that it can get away with brazenly assassinating Khashoggi, as apparently proved by Turkish investigators. Saudi Arabia firmly denies any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and says he left the consulate safely that afternoon.

It is important to watch how long the torrent of criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia will last. President Trump has been muted in his comments, emphasising the need to keep on terms with the Saudis because of the $110bn contract to sell them arms. Some of those most accustomed to kowtowing to Gulf monarchs, like Tony Blair, are comically reluctant to criticise Saudi Arabia despite the compelling evidence of the murder produced by Turkey. The best Blair can do is to say that the issue should be investigated and explained by Saudi Arabia “because otherwise it runs completely contrary to the process of modernisation”. Even for Blair this is surely a new low, and it could also be a dispiriting straw in the wind, suggesting that political elites in the US and UK will not be shocked for long and criticism will be confined to the alleged killing of Khashoggi.

This is an important point because the killing (as suggested by the Turkish investigators) is by no means the worst act carried out by Saudi Arabia since 2015, though it is much the best publicised. Anybody doubting this should read a report just published which shows that bombing and other military activities by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is deliberately targeting food supplies and distribution in a bid to win the war by starving millions of civilians on the other side.

There is nothing collateral or accidental about the attacks according to the report. Civilian food supplies are the intended target with the horrendous results spelled out by the UN at the end of September: some 22.2 million Yemenis or three quarters of the population are in need of assistance, 8.4 million of whom are not getting enough food to eat, a number which may increase by 10 million by the end of the year. “It is bleak,” UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council. “We are losing the fight against famine.”

But there are those in Saudi Arabia, UAE and their allies in Washington, London and Paris who evidently do not feel any regret and are intent on creating conditions for a man-made famine as the best way of winning the war against the Houthis who still hold the capital Sana’a and the most highly populated parts of the country. This is the conclusion of the highly detailed report called “The Strategies of the Coalition in the Yemen War: Aerial Bombardment and Food War” written by Professor Martha Mundy for the World Peace Foundation affiliated to the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

The report concludes that “if one places the damage to the resources of food producers (farmers, herders, and fishers) alongside the targeting of food processing, storage and transport in urban areas and the wider economic war, there is strong evidence that the coalition strategy has aimed to destroy food production and distribution in the areas under the control of Sanaʿaʾ.” It adds that the bombing campaign aimed directly at food supplies appears to have begun in 2016 and is continuing and becoming more effective.

Some aspects of the food war are easy to chronicle: on Yemen’s Red Sea coast no less than 220 fishing boats have been destroyed and the fish catch is down by 50 per cent according to the report. It cites one particular incident on 16 September when 18 fisherman from the district of Al Khawkhah were seized, interrogated and released by a coalition naval vessel which then fired a rocket at “the departing boat carrying the fishermen, killing all but one of them”. The report of this incident has been denied by the coalition.

The Saudi-led coalition began its intervention in the Yemeni civil war in March 2015 on the side of the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and against the “Houthi rebels” whom the coalition claims are backed by Iran. As Saudi defence minister at the time, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the driving force behind the intervention code named “Decisive Storm”. The coalition air campaign is aided by US aerial refuelling and logistic support while UK military personnel are stationed in command and control centres.

At first, the targets were largely military, but this changed when the coalition failed to win the quick military success its members had expected. Professor Mundy says that “from August 2015 there appears a shift from military and governmental to civilian and economic targets, including water and transport infrastructure, food production and distribution, roads and transport, schools, cultural monuments, clinics and hospitals, and houses, fields and flocks.”

Copiously illustrated with maps and charts, the report shows the impact of bombing and other military activities on the production and availability of food to the civilian population. Lack of electricity to pump water and fuel for farm vehicles have all been exacerbated by the airstrikes. Mundy says that “livestock production has been devastated as families in need sold animals and also found it increasingly difficult to access markets”.

When the farmers do reach a market, their troubles are not over. Coalition air strikes have become more lethal with the beginning of the siege of the Red Sea port of Hodeida by Saudi and Emirati-led forces in June. Some 70 per cent of Yemen’s imports enter the country through Hodeida, which has a population of 600,000. On 2 August the main fish market in the city was attacked along with the entrance to the public hospital where many people were gathered. In July, King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a general pardon to all Saudi soldiers fighting in Yemen.

The lack of international protests over the war in Yemen, and the involvement of the US and UK as allies of Saudi Arabia and UAE, helps explain one of the mysteries of the Khashoggi disappearance. If the Saudis murdered Khashoggi, why did they expect to carry out the assassination without producing an international uproar? The explanation probably is that Saudi leaders imagined that, having got away with worse atrocities in Yemen, that any outcry over the death of a single man in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was something they could handle.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 17, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

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

Conversation No. 85

Date: Friday, May 30, 1997

Commenced:  I:11 PM CST

Concluded: 1:35 PM CST

 

RTC: Gregory, I’m glad you called. I wanted to warn you about some picture you are supposed to have with Mueller and Harry in it. Does this ring a bell with you?

GD: Yes it does. A U.S. Signal Corps photo of Harry, Mueller, Beetle Smith and some other type in the Oval Office. Came out of the Truman Library in Missouri some time ago and landed in my mail box. Very clear shot of Mueller, standing on the left of Harry’s desk, Harry in the middle smiling up to the right while he’s looking right at Smith. No question it’s Mueller. Picture is identified, with names,  on the reverse and has the Signal Corp stamps, dates and all that.

RTC: Ah, yes, that explains everything. Do not even admit having this, Gregory or you will have burglars visiting you the next time you go to the movies. They do not know what name Mueller used when he came to this country and until they do, they cannot cleanse the files of any reference to him.

GD: I beat them to that one, Robert. I had Zachery write off to the Army records center at Springfield and get copies, stamped copies, of the records of four general officers. One of these was Mueller. The three I tossed but I kept Heini’s file. Picture and all. That’s what the violators of deceased prostitutes are after. You told me that they didn’t know the name. What assholes. They run around bleating that I am a liar while under cover, they try to remove any proof that the head of the German Gestapo not only survived the war but lived, and worked, in Washington and even entertained the President of the United States at dinner once.

RTC: Oh, be very careful with things like that. If the left wingers or the loony Hebrews find out about that, they will wail and raise a terrible fuss. Our press people will have a good deal of extra work with that one. Naturally, they will all lie and Jim will call me up and rant for two hours. If Mr. Bender puts it into one of his books, believe me, his warehouse full of the books will have a tragic fire.

GD: I should put out the word that some vicious paranoid keeps the pictures in their home and then tip him off that bad people are going to break into his house, murder him and kill his children, or his cat, whichever.

RTC: You’ve done that sort of thing before, as I recall.

GD: I have indeed and enjoyed every minute of it. My God, Robert, these people are so stupid they couldn’t find either end of themselves in a dark room. If I had a dollar for every telephone call I got from some obscure professor of history at an academy for the chronically incontinent, telling me how much he enjoyed the Mueller book, asking me if I had any of the documents I mentioned and wondering if he and his friend Bruce can visit me and show me all of their newly discovered Mueller documents. I mean they must think I’m some kind of an idiot. Oh no, I would never let Professor Crotchrott into my house or his friend Bruce either. When you act all pleased and start grilling the fake professor about Mueller, you find out he knows nothing at all about him. Can’t they even brief him properly? I could do a better job dead drunk. I seriously wonder what these pin heads did before they went into government service. I imagine deodorizing dead dogs or changing loaded diapers at a nursing home across the street from the tenement house they reside in, sharing a soaked mattress with two winos and a dead fat woman.

RTC: (Laughter) Gregory, you are not at all a nice person.

GD: Oh, I’ve known that for years but oddly enough, people with real character and brains like Mueller and others all seem to like me a good deal. We all have a community of interest I guess. There stand the sheep, huddled in one corner of the pens and there we stand, wondering which one of us jumps the fence first and starts munching. Leg of lamb, throat of lamb, whatever. I guess that’s why I love wolves so much. We have so much in common. I recall once when I wrote an intelligence report that took me an entire weekend to do up right. Some fucking Brigadier read it and threw it into the trash because it didn’t support his feeble-minded theories. I was right, of course, and there was terrible trouble when my thesis was proven right. I was told to keep my mouth shut but I didn’t and eventually he got transferred to Manila where he could watch the natives there eat stewed monkey. Of course we know in their case it’s a clear cut case of cannibalism but what the hell…

RTC: My God, Gregory, do not speak to me of Filipinos. I had to deal with some of them once and you are dead on. I think monkeys are smarter. I know they are better looking.

GD: And their females do not have green eye shadow and purple lipstick on their flat pans. Well, enough rude racial remarks for the day. I also have Mueller’s pilot’s license, his Virginia driver’s license, his CIA pass, all expired but all with pictures.

RTC: But do not tell Kimmel about these or for a certainty, you would have a black bag job or someone would invite you to lecture in Washington and you would never be heard from again.

GD: Ah, they would take me out on a small boat, tie an old cash register to my legs, shoot me in the head and toss me into the backwaters of the Potomac. And the alert and highly intelligent local police would call it a certain suicide.

RTC: You are making cruel references to Paisley.

GD: Actually, I am. Very perceptive. Most suicides do shoot themselves in the back of the head, Robert. I understand he was a bloated rotting mess when they found him. We used to get floaters when I was doing pathology work. They stank so badly and parts kept falling off onto the floor that we would freeze them before cutting them up. Well, my name is not Smith and I will not go to Washington. They can come to see me sometime.

RTC: Would you welcome them with open arms, Gregory?

GD: No, loaded ones, Robert.

(Concluded at 1:35 PM CST)

 

U.S. courts abruptly tossed 9,000 deportation cases. Here’s why

October 17, 2018

by Reade Levinson and Kristina Cooke

Reuters

Reuters) – Liliana Barrios was working in a California bakery in July and facing possible deportation when she got a call from her immigration attorney with some good news.

The notice to appear in court that Barrios had received in her deportation case hadn’t specified a time or date for her first hearing, noting that they would be determined later. Her lawyer was calling to say that the U.S. Supreme Court had just issued a ruling that might open the door for her case, along with thousands of others, to be dismissed.

The Supreme Court case involved Wescley Fonseca Pereira, a Brazilian immigrant who overstayed his visa and was put into deportation proceedings in 2006. The initial paperwork he was sent did not state a date and time of appearance, however, and Pereira said he did not receive a subsequent notice telling him where and when to appear. When he failed to show up in court, he was ordered deported.

The Supreme Court ruled that paperwork failing to designate a time and place didn’t constitute a legal notice to appear in court.

The ruling sparked a frenzy of immigration court filings. Over ten weeks this summer, a record 9,000 deportation cases, including Barrios’, were terminated as immigration attorneys raced to court with challenges to the paperwork their clients had received, a Reuters analysis of data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review shows. The number represents a 160 percent increase from the same time period a year earlier and the highest number of terminations per month ever.

Then, just as suddenly as they began, the wave of case terminations stopped. On August 31, in a different case, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled that charging documents issued without a date and time were valid so long as the immigrant received a subsequent hearing notice filling in the details, as is the usual procedure.

A Department of Justice official said that as a result of the BIA decision, the issues “have been solved.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to requests for comment, but the agency laid out its thoughts on the terminations in court documents opposing the motions to terminate. In a San Diego case, DHS wrote that the motions were based on a “misreading” of the Supreme Court decision. “If read in a manner most favorable to the respondent, the practical impact would be to terminate virtually all immigration proceedings.” The Supreme Court decision “nowhere purports to invalidate the underlying removal proceedings,” DHS wrote.

The dueling interpretations will now be weighed by a federal appeals court, which could uphold or overturn the BIA decision in coming months. The case could ultimately end up before the Supreme Court.

“ONE GASP”

Having a removal case terminated, as Liliana Barrios and many others did over the summer, does not confer legal status, but it does remove the threat of imminent deportation and provide an immigrant time to pursue legal ways of staying in the country, such as asylum or by accruing enough time in the country to be eligible to stay through a process known as cancellation of removal.

The Supreme Court ruling provided a “brief glimmer of hope”, said immigration lawyer Aaron Chenault, “like when you are almost drowning and you get one gasp.”

The Department of Homeland Security can appeal the case dismissals or it can restart deportation proceedings by issuing a new notice to appear. By the end of August, the most recent date for which records are available, government attorneys had appealed only 2,100 of the cases terminated in the wake of the decision, according to a Reuters analysis.

Roxie Rawls-de Santiago, an immigration attorney in New Mexico, said that for some of her clients, even a few months of not being in active deportation proceedings could make a difference. One woman whose case was terminated, for example, has a U.S. citizen daughter who turns 21 next year, the age at which she can sponsor her mother for permanent residency, and the woman is now hopeful she can stave off deportation proceedings until then.

CHAOS IN THE COURTS

At the Department of Justice, which administers the immigration courts, chaos reigned in the weeks following the June decision. Immigration judges and officials struggled to agree on an interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling, according to internal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by immigration attorney Matthew Hoppock and shared with Reuters.

“The issue has VERY large implications, in that DHS has put the actual “time and dateon VERY, VERY few NTA’s, if any. Any guidance would be helpful,” wrote Memphis immigration judge Richard Averwater in an email to an assistant chief immigration judge days after the ruling. Averwater declined to discuss the email further.

In San Francisco alone, immigration judges terminated 2,000 cases between June 21 and August 31, sometimes more than 100 a day, according to a Reuters analysis. In San Antonio, more than 1,200 cases were terminated.

“The court was getting dozens and dozens and dozens of those a day,” said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the immigration judges’ union. “The large number of terminations that happened were directly a result of Pereira.”

The door to mass dismissals for such cases could be reopened or remain closed depending on how the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the Board of Immigration Appeals decision that stopped them.

For Barrios, 20, who was caught crossing the Southern border illegally with her toddler two years ago, her dismissal has meant more time to file for a special visa for immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abandoned or neglected. Barrios said she was abandoned by her mother.

Having her case terminated “lifted the pressure a bit,” said Barrios, who makes cream for cookies at a wholesale bakery in California during the day and studies English at night. The Department of Homeland Security has appealed her case termination.

Reporting by Kristina Cooke and Reade Levinson; Editing by Sue Horton and Paul Thomasch

 

Salesforce CEO: tech billionaires ‘hoard their money’ and won’t help homeless

In Guardian interview, Marc Benioff calls out Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and others for failing to give back to city where they got rich

October 17, 2018

by Sam Levin in San Francisco

The Guardian

Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO, has escalated his attacks on fellow San Francisco billionaires, saying they are “hoarding” money and don’t want to help the homeless.

In an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday, the tech entrepreneur intensified his criticisms of Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, saying: “He just doesn’t want to give, that’s all. And he hasn’t given anything of consequence in the city.”

Benioff’s recent efforts to call out ultra-wealthy business leaders has caused divides in the tech industry, which has typically been united in its resistance to taxes that could fund services and combat income inequality.

The CEOs’ unusual public spat centers on Proposition C, a ballot measure that would tax large businesses in San Francisco by implementing an average 0.5% gross receipts tax for company revenues over $50m. The measure is meant to help fix a rapidly expanding humanitarian crisis in the city.

The growth of tech firms such as Salesforce, a cloud computing company and one of the largest employers in the city, has contributed to a massive housing shortage, with thousands left homeless, including one in 25 public school children. Prop C, which Benioff is backing, is expected to raise between $250m and $300m a year to pay for housing, shelters, mental health treatment and more.

Dorsey, who also runs Square, a second major San Francisco-based tech firm, recently announced his opposition to the measure, saying he did not believe it was “the best way” to “fix the homeless problem”.

Benioff said by phone that he had expected Dorsey to stand against Prop C – and that he did not anticipate the Twitter co-founder would change his mind or give back in a meaningful way. “That’s not a surprise to me. There’s lots of CEOs and companies and billionaires in that category. We have 70 billionaires in San Francisco [Bay Area region]. Not all of them are giving money away. A lot of them are just hoarding it. They’re keeping it. That’s just who they are and how they look at their money.”

He continued: “This is a critical moment where I think Prop C kind of illuminates who is willing to be a San Franciscan and actually support our local services.”

Twitter has long received a massive tax break to operate in San Francisco.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday.

Benioff also criticized Stripe, a payment platform and another major San Francisco tech firm opposing Prop C. The company claimed the measure lacked a “comprehensive plan” for spending in a recent op-ed and has also given more than $400,000 to a campaign fighting the measure, making it the largest donor.

Benioff scoffed at the funding from Stripe, which was founded in 2010 by brothers Patrick and John Collison, and was recently valued at $20bn.

“It’s the most money they’ve ever given to anything in San Francisco, so that’s exciting … [Prop C] will be a direct tax on Stripe that they don’t want to have to pay,” he said. “Even though they’ve made $20bn dollars in San Francisco, they’re not willing to give back at scale. Isn’t that amazing?”

It’s the same two buckets. You’re either for the homeless or you’re for yourself

Marc Benioff

Patrick Collison, Stripe’s CEO, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Ted Ladd, a spokesman, said that Stripe earlier this year gave a larger donation to California Yimby, a political group with tech funding that advocates for the construction of more housing in the state.

Benioff has pledged to donate at least $2m to support Prop C, which could cost Salesforce up to $10m a year in taxes. The philanthropist has developed a reputation as a “social activist” and liberal tech leader over the years, though he has recently faced significant backlash for his company’s contract with US Customs and Border Protection, an agency carrying out Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

His decision to be outspoken on Prop C has earned him some praise from progressive activists, especially since the city’s mayor, London Breed, recently announced her opposition. The Democratic mayor expressed concern about the “flight of headquarter companies” and “jobs” if Prop C passed, a claim that put her in an awkward position after Benioff became a vocal supporter of the measure.

Benioff said that Breed had recently asked him for an “immediate $8m” to fund a shelter in the city, raising questions about her claims that the city needs to focus on auditing the $300m it currently spends on homelessness instead of raising new money.

“She wants me to fund personally a homeless shelter in the city, because she’s out of cash,” he said. “That’s evidence we need more money now.”

He said it appeared that the mayor had decided Prop C is “just a risk she can’t take”.

The mayor’s spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reported $8m request, but sent a statement from Breed, saying: “I do not believe doubling what we spend on homelessness without new accountability, when we don’t even spend what we have now efficiently, is good government.”

Benioff said over the years he has learned that there are two kinds of wealthy San Franciscans – “people who are willing to give and people who are not willing to give”, adding: “When it comes to this Proposition C, it’s the same two buckets. You’re either for the homeless or you’re for yourself.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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