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TBR News September 20, 2019

Sep 20 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 20, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

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

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

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

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

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for September 20: There are a number of wild stories circulating on the Internet to the effect that various government agencies are spying on everyone. This is not true. What is true is that various government agencies now have the ability to spy on anyone they wish.

There are over 300 million people in his country and spying on everyone is impossible. But thanks to Google, SBC, AT&T, AOL and dozens of other companies, and let us not forget the social networks where the small of brain and the large of ego can display their bellies or breasts for bored millions, and to this mix add all the credit bureaus, credit card companies, telecommunications firms, banks and others to the soup and you have blanketed the nation with eager contributors to the national spying mania.

Now we have the step-children of the iron public control movement, the Tea Party and Jesus Freak nutties, trying to do what the Bush family failed at, namely to set up a theocratic, very far right wing political state.

Will they succeed?

No, they will not.

The American people will put up with just so much bullshit from the sociologically rabid before getting out their trusty firearms and letting daylight through them and then going on rampages, burning, raping and looting just like the blessed West Indians have done in England that won’t do enough for them.

Enjoy yourselves children, and be sure to stock up on tinned food and ammunition. It is rumored that Teflon ammunition is now back on the underground market again so there is some hope glimmering in the depths of our sociological septic tank!”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Lawmaker accuses Justice Department of blocking whistleblower disclosure
  • Trump denies promise that led to formal complaint from US spy
  • Trump whistleblower complaint: focus shifts to Ukraine amid Giuliani claims
  • Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival Benny Gantz declares victory for his party in Israel election
  • Why Evidence of Iran’s Role in Attack Doesn’t Matter
  • What Trump’s Missteps on Iran Have Wrought
  • Washington’s Iran policy is backstreet thuggery masquerading as statecraft
  • Standard Operating Procedure: A Voice from the Past
  • The Cro-Magnon Man: Not out of Africa
  • The Cold Hand of Reality: Sorcha Faal and the Planet X fiction
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

Lawmaker accuses Justice Department of blocking whistleblower disclosure

September 19, 2019

by Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House Intelligence Committee chairman on Thursday accused the Justice Department of blocking intelligence officials from giving Congress a whistleblower complaint reported to involve communications between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader.The panel’s Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff, charged the Trump administration with blocking a congressional inquiry after receiving a closed-door briefing from the inspector general for U.S. spy agencies.

“I don’t know whether the White House is directly involved, because we can’t get an answer to that question, but we do know that they are making some claim that a privilege may apply,” Schiff told reporters.

The Washington Post, citing two former officials, reported on Wednesday that the whistleblower complaint alleged Trump had made an unspecified promise to a foreign leader during a phone call, a story Trump on Thursday derided as “Fake News.”

Reuters has not been able to confirm details of the whistleblower’s complaint

But a source familiar with the matter told Reuters the complaint alleged “multiple acts” by Trump. The source requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The dispute erupted after Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson told the committee in a Sept. 9 letter that he had received an Aug. 9 whistleblower complaint that he deemed urgent and credible, the legal threshold requiring its transmission to Congress.

But a Sept. 13 letter to the House panel and the Senate Intelligence Committee asserted that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire – after consulting with the Justice Department – found that the complaint did not meet the legal definition of “urgent concern.”

In the letter, Jason Klitenic, general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also said the complaint was not subject to disclosure because it did not concern conduct by an intelligence official or an intelligence activity overseen by the DNI, as required by the law.

“Furthermore, because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community, the DNI lacks unilateral authority to transmit such materials to the intelligence committees,” he wrote.

Because of the findings, Atkinson was unable to provide details on the complaint in speaking with the committee, lawmakers said.

Schiff said the Justice Department had misinterpreted the law in blocking Maguire from disclosing the complaint.

Another Democratic member of the committee, Mike Quigley, was more direct, charging that Attorney General William Barr was seeking to protect the president.

“Mr. Barr and the Department of Justice’s job in their mind is to protect the president,” he told reporters. “And it doesn’t matter if that violates the laws.”

CNN said on Thursday that both the White House and Justice Department were involved in advising Maguire not to give Congress a copy of the complaint.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while a spokeswoman for the Justice Department referred to the two letters Atkinson had sent the committee. Maguire’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself,” Trump said on Twitter.

“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call,” he said.

Schiff had issued a subpoena to Maguire last week in an attempt to force him to turn over the whistleblower’s complaint.

He said on Thursday the committee could be forced to go to court to seek an order compelling officials to disclose the complaint.

“I hope that the director of national intelligence will reconsider because it’s my understanding that by law he can provide this to us and by law he’s required to provide this to us,” Schiff said.

Maguire is scheduled to testify in public to the panel next week.

A congressional source told Reuters the complaint was filed with the inspector general on Aug. 12. Two congressional sources said the Senate Intelligence Committee had not been fully briefed on the complaint.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay; Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker

 

Trump denies promise that led to formal complaint from US spy

September 19, 2019

BBC News

Donald Trump has rubbished a report alleging he made a promise to a foreign leader, something that sparked a whistleblower’s formal complaint.

The Washington Post said the intelligence official found the comment “so troubling” they went to the department’s inspector general.

In a tweet, Mr Trump dismissed the claims as “fake news”.

Democrats are trying to get the complaint turned over to Congress, with the details still unknown.

It is not yet known who made the complaint, which foreign leader Mr Trump was speaking to, what promise – if any – was made and whether Mr Trump took any action as a result.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, said the complaint consists of a “serious or flagrant problem, abuse or violation of the law” that involves classified information, a letter to lawmakers revealed.

The complaint was filed on 12 August, while Mr Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey, according to the Post, which noted five foreign leaders with whom Mr Trump had interactions in the preceding five weeks.

During that time he phoned Russia’s Vladimir Putin, received at least two letters from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and met at the White House the leaders of Pakistan, the Netherlands and Qatar.

In his tweet Mr Trump wrote “is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader”.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has so far refused to share any details of the complaint with lawmakers, leading to an outcry among Democrats.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democratic California Congressman, praised the whistleblower for coming forward after a closed hearing with Mr Atkinson on Thursday.

He also accused the White House and Justice Department of intervening to block the complaint from being shared with Congress.

“I believe that there is an effort to prevent this information getting to Congress,” said Mr Schiff.

“And if the assertion is accurate… then at one level or another, it likely involves either the president or people around him.”

Analysis by Tara McKelvey, White House reporter

Many of those who work in the US intelligence services don’t trust Trump. They don’t think that he can keep a secret (he apparently revealed classified information to Russians in the Oval Office), and they don’t like the way he talks about them (in a tweet about a news leak, he compared them to Nazis).

The controversy over the president’s “promise” to a foreign leader during a phone call – and a whistleblower complaint about the matter – is a reminder of the acrimonious relationship between the president and those who work in the intelligence services.

Yet like much of what happens in the world of intelligence, the matter is shrouded in mystery. It’s still unclear whom the president spoke to, for example, or what he said. In this case, though, some of these questions will be addressed during a House intelligence committee scheduled for next week, and more information may be available to the public.

As Trump himself would say: stay tuned.

 

Trump whistleblower complaint: focus shifts to Ukraine amid Giuliani claims

Rumours over Trump’s reported promise to foreign leader mounts as his personal lawyer appears to admit to pressing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden

September 20, 2019

by David Smith in Washington and Tom McCarthy in New York

The Guardian

Speculation in Washington was at fever pitch on Thursday over reports Donald Trump’s promise to a foreign leader so troubled a US intelligence official that it prompted a whistleblower complaint, with the focus now shifting to Ukraine.

The whistleblower’s claim centered on Russia’s neighbour, according to reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times, noting that the complaint was filed weeks before Trump spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a testy interview on CNN on Thursday night, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, offered conflicting answers to questions on whether he had asked Ukraine to investigate the former vice-president, and 2020 presidential hopeful, Joe Biden. At one point he dismissed the claim as ridiculous before admitting it and saying he was proud of it.

The intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, determined that the whistleblower’s complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern”, a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.\

The complaint’s existence was first reported on Wednesday night by the Post, which said a former official familiar with the matter said the communication it concerned was a phone call

But further reporting by the New York Times, which also reported a possible connection to Ukraine, suggested the whistleblower’s intervention was prompted by multiple actions rather than a single conversation with a foreign leader.

Earlier this year Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, canceled a trip to Ukraine over a perceived conflict of interest between his ties to the White House and his apparent partisan political mission to dig for dirt against Biden, whose son once had a role in a Ukrainian gas company.

After the news of a whistleblower alarmed at Trump’s “promise” emerged, Giuliani sent a cryptic tweet about defending “yourself from big fat bullies”.

In a closed-door meeting of the House intelligence committee, Atkinson, the inspector general, said the investigation touched on multiple contacts Trump had with his opposite parties.

Mike Quigley, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, said, according to the Hill: “He didn’t talk about anything about the allegations, where he was very protective. But he did mention that this complaint was based on a series of events, ‘more than one’ to get the exact wordage right.”

Letters from Atkinson to the committee, released on Thursday, said it was an “urgent” matter of “serious or flagrant abuse” that must be shared with members of Congress. But concerns grew on Capitol Hill that intelligence officials were striving to shield Trump from damaging revelations.

Last month the president named Joseph Maguire, a former navy official, as acting director of national intelligence after the departure of Dan Coats, who often clashed with Trump, and the retirement of Sue Gordon, a career professional in the number two position.

Now Maguire is refusing to share details about the whistleblower complaint with the House intelligence committee, asserting that its subject is beyond his jurisdiction.

The committee chairman, Democrat Adam Schiff, said this was an unprecedented departure from the law. “There is an effort to prevent this information from getting to Congress,” he told reporters.

Schiff added that Maguire, in a further departure from standard procedure, consulted with the justice department in deciding not to transmit the complaint to Congress. It is not clear whether the White House was also involved, he said.

Since the director is claiming privileged information, Schiff said he believes the whistleblower’s complaint “likely involves the president or people around him”. The chairman said he would go to court, if necessary, to try to force the administration to turn over the information in the complaint.

Jim Himes, a Democratic congressman from Connecticut, told the MSNBC network that Maguire “broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the inspector general’s report to Congress”.

He added this has “never been done before in the history of inspector general reports to the Congress, and the American people should be worried about that”.

On Thursday Trump lashed out at the initial Washington Post report. “Another Fake News story out there – It never ends!” he wrote on Twitter. “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!”

He added: “…Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

Maguire has been subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee and is expected to testify publicly about the whistleblower complaint next Thursday. Both Maguire and Atkins are also expected next week at the Senate intelligence committee.

The Trump administration has cut back on its predecessors’ longtime practice of issuing summaries of the president’s conversations with world leaders.

Trump reportedly spoke with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, and the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, in the weeks before the complaint was filed.

The Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe voiced concern in a post on Twitter that the action by Trump could be a breach of national security.

The complaint was filed with Atkinson’s office on 12 August, when Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey, the Post reports.

Jon Cooper, a former aide to Barack Obama and prominent New York Democrat, speculated on Thursday that if the vice-president, Mike Pence, was aware of what had happened and, if it was serious, had not raised the alarm, it could spell trouble for him.

The California Democratic congressman Ted Lieu said on Twitter that intelligence officers must have been “freaked out” by Trump’s conduct, raised the alarm and alerted the press.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival Benny Gantz declares victory for his party in Israel election

September 19, 2019

by Noga Tarnopolsky

Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM —  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, declared victory after near-final vote tallies on Thursday showed his party slightly widening a narrow first-place finish in this week’s parliamentary elections.

Netanyahu did not challenge Gantz’s declaration.

But as jockeying for control of the government between Gantz, the former military chief of staff, and Netanyahubegan, neither appeared close to winning the parliamentary majority they would need to form a government and become prime minister, and weeks of arcane negotiations are expected to start next week.

Official figures have not yet been released, but Gantz’s Blue and White party held two seats more than Netanyahu’s Likud party in the tight race. The Electoral Commission in Israel only releases voting figures, without declaring a winner.

Gantz, 60, will have to find political partners in order to form a government, and he responded coolly to an overture from Netanyahu, who suggested their two parties team up.

“The country has chosen unity,” Gantz said Thursday. “The country has chosen Israel first. Blue and White, headed by me, has won the election. Blue and White is the largest party. Netanyahu did not succeed in reaching the political bloc that he aimed for — 61 Knesset members — on the basis of which these elections were held.”

Gantz and his opposition party have held a steady lead over Netanyahu and his conservative Likud party as the count has proceeded.

On Thursday, Israel spun into political melodrama as Netanyahu attempted to grab the momentum ahead of negotiations to form a government even as Gantz appeared to be cementing his slight lead.

Netanyahu began the day by securing the signatures of all right-wing party leaders on a document of loyalty, in which they committed only to join a government under his leadership.

Immediately, he posted a video beseeching Gantz to join him in a national unity government, bringing the two largest parties in Israel together under one roof — under his leadership.

Gantz had campaigned on the promise that he would not join any government with the participation of Netanyahu, who is under a legal cloud as he confronts imminent indictment on several corruption charges.

Gantz rejected Netanyahu’s overture, saying that, as head of the largest party in Israel, he himself planned to “lead a government of national unity and liberalism.”

Netanyahu then expressed “disappointment” at what he called Gantz’s recalcitrance in the face of a national need for unity.

Gantz’s party appears to have won 33 seats in the Knesset and Netanyahu’s Likud 31 seats. The support of at least 61 seats in the 120-member parliament is needed to form a government.

Gantz can count on the support of Labor, which has six seats, and the left-wing Democratic Union, which has five.

Then things get complicated.

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s secular nationalist party has eight seats but has said it won’t join a government with the Arab-majority Joint List party, which holds 13 seats. Meanwhile, some Joint List members would probably peel away from joining with Gantz if Lieberman was involved in the coalition.

Netanyahu, for his part, currently has the support of 55 seats.

President Reuven Rivlin, tasked with choosing who will be given the first chance to form a new government, late Thursday published his list of consultations for Sunday — with Gantz’s party at the top.

Entering the fray, Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s Mideast envoy, announced that he would be arriving in Israel to hold separate discussions with Netanyahu and Gantz on Trump’s long-anticipated peace deal for Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump has been restrained in his comments regarding the fate of Netanyahu, who has arguably been his closest and most constant ally on the international stage. Trump engaged in several overt acts of support for Netanyahu during the previous electoral campaign, inviting Netanyahu to the White House in March, weeks ahead of the vote and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a major diplomatic achievement for Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he had not spoken with Netanyahu, adding, “our relations are with Israel.”

Tarnopolsky is a special correspondent.

 

Why Evidence of Iran’s Role in Attack Doesn’t Matter

Tehran is equipped to take us off-guard at any moment. Questions should focus on how and why.

September 19, 2019

by Gareth Porter

The Amerian Conservative

The stunning success of Saturday’s drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s main oil export processing center has brought the Iran crisis to a new and pivotal point. It has demonstrated that Iran has significant capability to pressure the United States to end its war on the Iranian economy, and has the will to bring it to the next level.

A set of complex issues related to different Iranian and Houthi weapons systems and other forensic evidence surrounding the destruction at Abqaiq will be the center of attention in the coming days. The forensic evidence presented by the administration may be weak or persuasive, but in either case, it would be a strategic mistake for those who oppose the war in Yemen and America’s involvement in it to make this the story. That will only allow the war state to obscure or confuse the central political issues that must be addressed now: why did this attack happen? And what does it portend for a situation that was already one small crisis away from a very serious Middle East war?

Whether the Abqiaq attack was a combined Houthi-Iranian operation or a completely Iranian one is of a secondary measure of importance. It is obvious that whatever the precise nature of the strike, Iran likely played a role in both creating the drones and/or cruise missiles involved and in the strategic rationale for it. But one can argue that both the Houthis and Iran had legitimate reasons for carrying out such a strike.

For the Houthis, it was to force Saudi Arabia to stop its systematic war on the civilian population in the Houthi-controlled zone of Yemen and its denial of its ability to obtain basic goods by air and sea; for the Iranians it was to force the United States to end its blockade of Iran’s economy through pressure on Iran’s customers. Saudi Arabia has violated the most fundamental principles of international law in its aggressive war to change the regime in Yemen, since it was not under attack by the Houthis when it launched that war. Efforts to end the conflict through resistance, negotiation, and strikes on lesser targets in Saudi Arabia had failed to halt what has been broadly regarded around the world as a criminal war.

For Iran, on the other hand, the Abqiaq strike was an absolutely necessary step to signal to the United States that it cannot not continue its assault on the Iranian economy without very serious repercussions. And the timing of the strike is almost certainly the result of the sequence of aggressive, offensive U.S. moves against Iran’s most vital interests ever since the Trump administration tore up the deal on Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed U.S. sanctions.

The United States has carried the practice of secondary boycott (sanctions against states trading with a state the U.S. government has targeted as an enemy) to put pressure on Iranian policy for nearly a quarter century, beginning with the passage of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) in 1996. Now the Trump administration has pushed the use of that instrument to its ultimate conclusion by seeking to reduce Iran’s oil exports—its single largest source of export earnings—to “zero,” as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proudly declared last April. The administration further plans to reduce Iran’s gas and metal (iron, steel, aluminum, and copper) exports to a minimum as well. In his public presentation of the famous “12 demands” on Iran of May 2018, Pompeo said that the real purpose of the entire exercise was to force the Iranian people to rid the United States of the adversary regime in Tehran.

The Trump policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran thus represents an extreme violation of a state’s right to participate in the global economy, without which a modern state cannot survive. It is the equivalent in trade terms of a naval blockade to starve a nation, and it would be universally recognized as an act of war if carried out by any other state in the world. Iran calls it “economic terrorism.”

In the context of these larger legal and moral issues, the question of the respective roles of Iran and the Houthis in the strike is a matter not just of tactical and propaganda significance but of fundamental principle. The shutdown of Abqiaq is the clearest signal possible from Islamic Republic that, as it has stated on several occasions, if the United States insists on depriving it from being able to sell oil, it will not allow the rest of the world’s oil to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Aqiaq strike is also a dramatic demonstration of Iran’s ability to surprise the United States strategically and upsetting its political-military plans. Iran has spent the last two decades preparing for an eventual confrontation with the United States, and the result is a new generation of drones and cruise missiles that give Iran the ability to counter far more effectively any U.S. effort to destroy its military assets and to target U.S. bases across the Middle East.

The United States was apparently taken by surprise when when Iran shot down a high-altitude but slow-moving U.S. prototype naval variant of the 737-size Global Hawk surveillance drone with a 3rd Khordad missile variant of the Ra’ad surface to air missile system first deployed a few years ago. And Iran’s air defense system has been continually upgraded, beginning with the Russian S-300 system it received in 2016. Iran also just unveiled in 2019 its Bavar-373 air defense system, which it regards as closer to the Russian S-400 system coveted by India and Turkey than to the S-300 system.

Then there is Iran’s development of a fleet of military drones, which has prompted one analyst to call Iran a “drone superpower.” Its drone accomplishments reportedly include the Shahed-171 “stealth drone” with precision-guided missiles, and the Shahed-129, which it reverse engineered from the U.S. Sentinel RQ-170 and the MQ-1 Predator.

Iran has exaggerated its military technological accomplishments in the past, especially when it felt dangerously vulnerable. But analysts are taking this generation of Iranian systems very seriously, which they see as having far-reaching implications for American policy. It’s highly questionable that anyone has given Trump a briefing on that reality, however.

The urgent task for opponents of any coming war is not to be distracted by the issue of forensic evidence pointing to Iranian responsibility. It’s to focus on the urgent problems with American policy that are being swept under the political and media rug.

 

What Trump’s Missteps on Iran Have Wrought

The United States has become a hi-tech Blackbeard.

September 20, 2019

by Reese Erlich

ISTANBUL – The drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities on September 14 is jolting the entire Middle East, the latest incident in a months-long battle between the Trump Administration and Iran. Yemen’s Houthi movement claimed credit for the devastating attack that shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blames Iran for the attack, while Iran has categorically denied it.

Let’s not forget that the Trump Administration started this low-level war by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to ratify the agreement, so the U.S. stands in violation of UN resolutions and international law.

At the same time, in almost forgotten incidents, the powers that be in Washington, D.C., are reviving piracy on the high seas. For three months, the Trump Administration has subverted the law, instigated an armed ship seizure, and tried to bribe a ship captain in order to seize an Iranian oil tanker in the Mediterranean.

The United States has become a hi-tech Blackbeard.

On July 4, thirty British marines stormed an Iranian oil tanker anchored off the coast of Gibraltar, a British colony located on the southernmost tip of Spain. United Kingdom and Gibraltar authorities, acting on behalf of the Trump Administration, claimed the ship was violating European Union sanctions by planning to deliver crude oil to Syria.

Those authorities had to bend themselves into pretzels to legally justify the seizure because the action, in fact, involved multiple violations of international law.

In retaliation, Iran seized British and United Arab Emirate oil tankers, and as of this writing, continues to hold them hostage. How did this mess begin?

Making it up as they go along

When the United States engages in piracy, it tries to make it look legal. The ship seizure near Gibraltar was clearly planned in Washington, DC, as revealed by the Spanish daily El Pais. The conservative government in Britain, even before the ascension of Boris Johnson as prime minister, willingly participated in Trump’s tanker takeover.

Based on US intelligence, Gibraltar and British authorities claimed the ship was violating E.U. sanctions against Syria. A careful reading of those sanctions, however, reveals that they prohibit exporting oil from Syria, not delivering oil to Syria. It also turns out that Gibraltar had no law allowing seizure of ships under the E.U. Sanctions So, on July 3, Gibraltar changed its regulations in order to legalize the seizure the following day.

Significantly, no E.U. country voiced support for the US/British piracy. Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister and now co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted on July 7:

“The legalities of the U.K. seizure of a tanker heading for Syria with oil from Iran intrigues me. One refers to E.U. Sanctions against Syria, but Iran is not a member of E.U. And E.U. as a principle doesn’t impose its sanctions on others. That’s what the U.S. does.”

Bribery and chicanery

Brian Hook, the State Department’s point man on Iran sanctions, emailed the Iranian ship’s captain offering him several million dollars if he would send the tanker to a port where it could be seized on behalf of Washington.

Like a swaggering buccaneer of old, Hook offered a cash reward followed by a threat. “With this money you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age, ” Hook wrote in an email seen by the Financial Times. “If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you.”

When the captain, an Indian national, didn’t respond to the email, the Trump Administration applied unilateral sanctions on him.

Meanwhile, the United States had secretly launched a cyber attack on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, allegedly disabling key computer systems. Unnamed senior US officials boasted to The New York Times that the cyber attack “degraded” Iran’s ability to disrupt civilian shipping. But it apparently didn’t stop Iran from seizing a British oil tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.

An Iranian official admitted the Stena Impero was seized in response to the taking of the Iranian tanker. On September 16, Iran seized a UAE tanker carrying what it described as smuggled diesel.

The Mediterranean has apparently returned to the buccaneering days of old. If a country seizes one of your ships, you seize two of theirs. Well, shiver me timbers.

On August 16, Gibraltar ignored a last-minute U.S. legal plea and released the Iranian ship. On August 26, the ship was sold to an unrevealed buyer and renamed the Adrian Darya 1. Pegleg Trump and his hardy band of pirates then proceeded to threaten oil brokers and port authorities throughout the region not to allow the oil to be unloaded.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, :We’ve made clear anyone who touches [the tanker], anyone who supports it . . . is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States.”

Remember, there is no legal authority whatsoever for Pompeo’s threats other than the unilateral US sanctions that are themselves a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, which the UN Security Council had passed unanimously, and is thus violating international law.

On September 15, the Iranian foreign ministry announced that the Adrian Darya offloaded its cargo at an unnamed Mediterranean port, while western countries claim that country is Syria. As of this writing, Iran has not released the British or UAE tankers.

In the days of old, pirates fired canons and boarded ships with cutlasses clamped in their teeth. Today the Trump Administration does it with cyber attacks and stopping wire transfers. Iran has the right to ship its oil to willing buyers. Denying that right is piracy pure and simple.

 

Washington’s Iran policy is backstreet thuggery masquerading as statecraft

September 19, 2019

by John Wight

RT

The war drums beating in Washington, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv when it comes to Iran have not been this loud since the lead-up to the war in Iraq in 2003.

“An act of war,” Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, proclaimed upon arriving in Saudi Arabia on a ‘working visit,’ a visit that will be largely if not solely taken up with discussions over what form the response to the missile strike against key Saudi oil installations on September 14 should take.

Pompeo’s bombastic pronouncement followed the trend set by his boss in the immediate aftermath of the attack. In one of his by now customary sabre-rattling tweets that do much to bring the English language into disrepute, Trump announced:

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

Tehran has been implicated but denies any involvement or responsibility for the attack, while the Houthi rebels, engaged against the Saudis and their allies in a protracted conflict in Yemen, have claimed responsibility. Said Houthis, it should be pointed out, have carried out drone and missile strikes against strategic targets in the kingdom before, so it is conceivable that their claim to have been responsible for this attack carries with it the ring of truth.

Regardless of who was or wasn’t behind this missile and drone strike, against what is the largest oil processing facility in the world, it was an outstanding success militarily and, arguably, strategically.

It has exposed the weakness of the Saudis’ military defences, despite Riyadh spending huge amounts on weaponry, military equipment, and expertise from its US and UK allies in particular over the years, along with the vulnerability of the kingdom’s economic infrastructure.

More significantly, with the consequences of the attack reverberating beyond the region to produce a temporary spike in the price of crude on global markets, the attack shines an incredibly harsh light on the reckless policy the Trump administration has been pursuing when it comes to Iran.

With the economic noose that’s been placed by Washington around Iran’s neck and the dagger at its throat in the form of substantial US, British, and Israeli military assets deployed within striking distance of its territory, and with the Saudis adopting such an aggressive posture against the Islamic Republic, of course it does.

Yes, the Iranians have no doubt been supplying the Houthis with weaponry and no doubt also the expertise in how to use them in their conflict against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. What of it? Have the Saudis not supplied opposition groups in Syria with weapons? Have the British and Americans not been supplying the Saudis with weaponry and military expertise in support of its four-year-long and counting war in Yemen? And have those weapons not been responsible for killing thousands of civilians in that benighted and forsaken land?

There is only so much hypocrisy the world can be expected to take when it comes to the extent to which Washington and its allies assert the right to operate on the basis of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’

Though Trump had recently begun to show signs of a return to some kind of sanity when it came to Iran, talking up the possibility of talking to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, he remains a prisoner of a neocon establishment in Washington and his own dysfunctional approach to foreign policy.

As with North Korea, as with Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, and China (the list goes on), the notion that sanctions and tariffs can precede meaningful dialogue with a view to the normalisation of relations is not only absurd, it reduces statecraft to an exercise in backstreet thuggery.

Economic sanctions are a blunt instrument and a weapon of war in themselves. Indeed when it comes to Iran, to assert that they are ‘hurting’, as Trump so blithely put it not too long ago vis-à-vis the impact of US sanctions, this is to violate the bounds of understatement.

Since Trump drove a coach and horses through the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) in 2015, and for no other reason than his personal antipathy towards Obama, Iran’s oil exports have fallen by half. In the process, its currency has slumped and the price of basic foods have spiked, producing extreme hardship among a vast swathe of the population.

With the aforementioned military pressure Iran has come under added to the economic crisis which the country’s been plunged into, only the most rotten-minded could conceivably lay responsibility for the present uptick in regional tensions at Tehran’s door.

Something’s got to give. Just as you can only apply so much pressure to a man’s throat before he kicks you in the shins, you can only asphyxiate a country of 80 million people so much before it strikes back. This is why I say that whether or not the Iranians were behind this attack, given all the circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were.

So, yes, the drumbeats of war are beating as loud as they ever have when it comes to a region that has become sadly all too used to the beat of those drums. However in this instance the Saudis and the Americans, and possibly Mr Netanyahu, know that escalation would be self-defeating in the extreme.

Iran is a hugely different proposition in 2019 than Iraq was in 2003. It possesses the ability and the will to do serious damage to anyone who would dare make the mistake of confusing the size of the dog in the fight with the size of the fight in the dog.

Whatever the outcome to this crisis, on its current course, there will be no winners, only losers.

 

Standard Operating Procedure: A Voice from the Past

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Washington 25, D.C.

13 March 1962

MEMORANDUM FOR CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, CUBA PROJECT

Subject: Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba (TS)

  1. Reference is made to memorandum from Chief of Operations, Cuba Project, for General Craig, subject: “Operation MONGOOSE”, dated 5 March 1962, which requested brief but precise description of pretexts which the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.
  2. The projects listed in the enclosure hereto are forwarded as a preliminary submission suitable for planning purposes. It is assumed that there will be similar submissions from other agencies and that these inputs will be used as a basis for developing a time-phased plan. The individual projects can then be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  3. This plan, incorporating projects selected from the attached suggestions, or from other sources, should be developed to focus all efforts on a specific ultimate objective which would provide adequate justification for US military intervention. Such a plan would enable a logical build-up of incidents to be combined with other seemingly unrelated events to camouflage the ultimate objective and create the necessary impression of Cuban rashness and irresponsibility on a large scale, directed at other countries as well as the United States. The plan would also properly integrate and time phase the courses of action to be pursued. The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.
  4. Time is an important factor in resolution of the Cuban problem. Therefore, the plan should be so time-phased that projects would be operable within the next few months.
  5. Inasmuch as the ultimate objective is overt military intervention, it is recommeded that primary responsibility for developing military and para-military aspects of the plan for both overt and covert military operations be assigned the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

WILLIAM H. CRAIG

Brig General, USA

DOD/JCS Representative

Caribbean Survey Group

Enclosure:

Pretexts to Justify Military Intervention in Cuba

MEMORANDUM FOR CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, CUBA PROJECT

Subject: Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba (TS)

  1. Reference is made to memorandum from Chief of Operations, Cuba Project, for General Craig, subject: “Operation MONGOOSE”, dated 5 March 1962, which requested brief but precise description of pretexts which the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.
  2. The projects listed in the enclosure hereto are forwarded as a preliminary submission suitable for planning purposes. It is assumed that there will be similar submissions from other agencies and that these inputs will be used as a basis for developing a time-phased plan. The individual projects can then be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  3. This plan, incorporating projects selected from the attached suggestions, or from other sources, should be developed to focus all efforts on a specific ultimate objective which would provide adequate justification for US military intervention. Such a plan would enable a logical build-up of incidents to be combined with other seemingly unrelated events to camouflage the ultimate objective and create the necessary impression of Cuban rashness and irresponsibility on a large scale, directed at other countries as well as the United States. The plan would also properly integrate and time phase the courses of action to be pursued. The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.
  4. Time is an important factor in resolution of the Cuban problem. Therefore, the plan should be so time-phased that projects would be operable within the next few months.
  5. Inasmuch as the ultimate objective is overt military intervention, it is recommended that primary responsibility for developing military and para-military aspects of the plan for both overt and covert military operations be assigned the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Enclosure

Pretexts to Justify Military Intervention

In Cuba

PRETEXTS TO JUSTIFY US MILITARY INTERVENTION IN CUBA

(Note: The courses of action which follow are a preliminary submission suitable only for planning purposes. They are arranged neither chronologically nor in ascending order. Together with similar inputs from other agencies, they are intended to provide a point of departure for the development of a single, integrated, time-phased plan. Such a plan would permit the evaluation of individual projects within the context of cumulative, correlated actions designed to lead inexorably to the objective of adequate justification for US military intervention in Cuba).

  1. Since it would seem desirable to use legitimate provocation as the basis for US military intervention in Cuba a cover and deception plan, to include requisite preliminary actions such as has been developed in response to Task 33 c, could be executed as an initial effort to provoke Cuban reactions. Harassment plus deceptive actions to convince the Cubans of imminent invasion would be emphasized. Our military posture throughout execution of the plan will allow a rapid change from exercise to intervention if Cuban response justifies.
  2. A series of well coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanamo to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces.
  3. Incidents to establish a credible attack (not in chronological order):

(1) Start rumors (many). Use clandestine radio.

(2) Land friendly Cubans in uniform “over-the-fence” to stage attack on base.

(3) Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.

(4) Start riots near the base main gate (friendly Cubans).

(5) Blow up ammunition inside the base; start fires.

(6) Burn aircraft on air base (sabotage).

(7) Lob mortar shells from outside of base into base. Some damage to installations.

(8) Capture assault teams approaching from the sea or vicinity of Guantanamo City.

(9) Capture militia group which storms the base.

(10) Sabotage ship in harbor; large fires — napthalene.

(11) Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock-victims (may be lieu of (10)).

  1. United States would respond by executing offensive operations to secure water and power supplies, destroying artillery and mortar emplacements which threaten the base.
  2. Commence large scale United States military operations.
  3. A “Remember the Maine” incident could be arranged in several forms:
  4. We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.
  5. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the ship was under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to those people that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US could follow up with an air/sea rescue operation covered by US fighters to “evacuate” remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.
  6. We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington.

The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized. Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government.

  1. A “Cuban-based, Castro-supported” filibuster could be simulated against a neighboring Caribbean nation (in the vein of the 14th of June invasion of the Dominican Republic). We know that Castro is backing subversive efforts clandestinely against Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Nicaragua at present and possible others. These efforts can be magnified and additional ones contrived for exposure. For example, advantage can be taken of the sensitivity of the Dominican Air Force to intrusions within their national air space. “Cuban” B-26 or C-46 type aircraft could make cane-burning raids at night. Soviet Bloc incendiaries could be found. This could be coupled with “Cuban” messages to the Communist underground in the Dominican Republic and “Cuban” shipments of arms which could be found, or intercepted, on the beach.
  2. Use of MIG type aircraft by US pilots could provide additional provocation. Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping and destruction of US military drone aircraft by MIG type planes would be useful as complementary actions. An F-86 properly painted would convince air passengers that they saw a Cuban MIG, especially if the pilot of the transport were to announce such fact. The primary drawback to this suggestion appears to be the security risk inherent in obtaining or modifying an aircraft. However, reasonable copies of the MIG could be produced from US resources in about three months.
  3. Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft should appear to continue as harassing measures condoned by the government of Cuba. Concurrently, genuine defections of Cuban civil and military air and surface craft should be encouraged.
  4. It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight.
  5. An aircraft at Eglin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone.
  6. Take off times of the drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida. From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Eglin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will being transmitting on the international distress frequency a “MAY DAY” message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the US what has happened to the aircraft instead of the US trying to “sell” the incident.
  7. It is possible to create an incident which will make it appear that Communist Cuban MIGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack.
  8. Approximately 4 or 5 F-101 aircraft will be dispatched in trail from Homestead AFB, Florida, to the vicinity of Cuba. Their mission will be to reverse course and simulate fakir aircraft for an air defense exercise in southern Florida. These aircraft would conduct variations of these flights at frequent intervals. Crews would be briefed to remain at least 12 miles off the Cuban coast; however, they would be required to carry live ammunition in the event that hostile actions were taken by the Cuban MIGs.
  9. On one such flight, a pre-briefed pilot would fly tail-end Charley at considerable interval between aircraft. While near the Cuban Island this pilot would broadcast that he had been jumped by MIGs and was going down. No other calls would be made. The pilot would then fly directly west at extremely low altitude and land at a secure base, an Eglin auxiliary. The aircraft would be met by the proper people, quickly stored and given a new tail number. The pilot who had performed the mission under an alias, would resume his proper identity and return to his normal place of business. The pilot and aircraft would then have disappeared.
  10. At precisely the same time that the aircraft was presumably shot down a submarine or small surface craft would disburse F-101 parts, parachute, etc., at approximately 15 to 20 miles off the Cuban coast and depart. The pilots returning to Homestead would have a true story as far as they knew. Search ships and aircraft could be dispatched and parts of aircraft found.

[Document ends]

 

The Cro-Magnon Man: Not out of Africa

Aside from the problems of the Eve Hypothesis, there are serious problems with the assumptions about when modern human types actually appeared on Earth.

Even if we take the evolving scientific view of the present day, we find that Cro-Magnon man was something altogether different from other anatomically modern humans.

Over and over again we read in scientific studies that Cro-Magnon man was just an “anatomically modern human”.

The experts will say:

“The Cro-Magnons lived in Europe between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. They are virtually identical to modern man, being tall and muscular and slightly more robust than most modern humans.

Notice how they slip in that “slightly more robust” bit.

The fact is, the Cro-Magnon man was, compared to the other “anatomically modern humans” around him, practically a superman. They were skilled hunters, toolmakers and artists famous for the cave art at places such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira. They had a high cranium, a broad and upright face, and cranial capacity “about the same as modern humans” (can we say larger?), but less than that of Neanderthals. The males were as tall as 6 feet.

They appeared in Europe in the upper Pleistocene, about 40,000 years ago and “their geographic origin is still unknown”.

Their skeletal remains show a “few small differences from modern humans”. Of course, the “out of Africa” theory advocates suggest that Cro-Magnon came from Sub Saharan Africa and a temperate climate and that, “they would eventually adapt to all extremes of heat and cold”. In this way, the “slight differences” between Cro-Magnon and other forms of anatomically modern humans can be explained away as an adaptation to cold.

But, as we will see, this idea doesn’t hold water.

Cro-Magnon’s tools are described as the Aurignacian technology, characterized by bone and antler tools, such as spear tips (the first) and harpoons. They also used animal traps, and bow and arrow. They invented shafts and handles for their knives, securing their blades with bitumen, a kind of tar, as long as 40 thousand years ago. Other improvements included the invention of the atlatl, a large bone or piece of wood with a hooked groove used for adding distance and speed to spears.

They also invented more sophisticated spear points, such as those that detach after striking and cause greater damage to prey.144 The Cro-Magnon type man was also the “originator” of such abstract concepts as “time”. They marked time by lunar phases, recording them with marks on a piece of bone, antler or stone. Some of these “calendars” contained a record of as many as 24 lunations.

In the relatively recent past, tool industries diversified.

The Gravettian industry (25 to 15 thousand years ago), characterized by ivory tools such as backed blades, is associated with mammoth hunters. One type of brief industry was Solutrean, occurring from 18 to 15 thousand years ago and limited to Southwest France and Spain. It is characterized by unique and finely crafted “laurel leaf” blades, made with a pressure technique requiring a great skill.

The industry is associated with horse hunters. The tool industry of the Clovis Culture in North America (11 to 8 thousand years ago) is notable for its remarkable similarity to Solutrean. Some suggest that the Solutrean culture migrated to North America around 12,000 thousand years ago.

Cro-Magnon people lived in tents and other man-made shelters in groups of several families. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers and had elaborate rituals for hunting, birth and death. Multiple burials are common in the areas where they were found. What is most interesting is that from 35 to 10 thousand years ago, there was no differentiation by sex or age in burials.

They included special grave goods, as opposed to everyday, utilitarian objects, suggesting a very increased ritualization of death and burial..

They were the first confirmed to have domesticated animals, starting by about 15 thousand years ago (though ancient sapiens may have domesticated the dog as much as 200 thousand years ago).

They were the first to leave extensive works of art, such as cave paintings and carved figures of animals and pregnant women. Huge caves lavishly decorated with murals depicting animals of the time were at first rejected as fake for being too sophisticated. Then they were dismissed as being primitive, categorized as hunting, fertility or other types of sympathetic magic.

Re-evaluations have put these great works of art in a more prominent place in art history.

They show evidence of motifs, of following their own stylistic tradition, of “impressionist” like style, perspective, and innovative use of the natural relief in the caves. Also possible, considering the new concepts of time reckoning practiced by Cro-Magnon, are abstract representations of the passage of time, such as spring plants in bloom, or pregnant bison that might represent summer.

Aside from pregnant women and other Goddess worship iconography,149 representations of people, “anthropomorphs,” are very few, and never show the accuracy or detail of the other animals. Humans are represented in simple outlines without features, sometimes with “masks”, often without regard to proportion, being distorted and isolated. At the Grottes des Enfants in France are found four burials with red ocher, and associated with Aurignacian tools.

At Lascaux, France, are the famous caves of upper Paleolithic cave art, dated to 17 thousand years ago, and even older, in some cases, by many thousands of years!

The modern human types that appeared in the Levant were, however, somewhat different from Cro-Magnon. They were the sub-Saharan type, less “robust” individuals than the Cro-Magnon “superman” of Europe.

What seems to be the truth of the matter is simply that the modern humans of the Levant were “different” from the Cro-Magnon types that “appeared” in Europe. Try as they would, there is simply was no way to prove that Cro-Magnon evolved in Africa or the Levant and then moved to Europe.

But then, how to explain what happened in any reasonable terms?

What the archaeological record seems to show is that in Europe, after millennia of almost no progress at all, even in the few areas where modern man has been found, suddenly human culture seems to take off like an explosion with the appearance of Cro-Magnon man.

Not only does culture explode, but also new ways of doing things, new styles and innovations that were utterly unknown in the period immediately preceding them, suddenly appear, only to disappear again like an outdated fad. From Spain to the Urals, sites list the developments of sewing needles, barbed projectiles, fishhooks, ropes, meat drying racks, temperature controlled hearths, and complex dwellings.

The most amazing part of all of it is the art. Art suddenly springs onto the landscape, fully formed, with no period of gradual development; no signs of childish attempts preceding it. A piece of ivory carved 32,000 years ago is as realistic as anything turned out by the most accomplished carver of the present day.

The Upper Paleolithic signals the most fundamental change in human behavior that the archaeological record may ever reveal. The only explanation for this tremendous change is that a new kind of human appeared on the earth stage.

When we consider the difficulties of such an event, in terms of “evolution”, we find that this presents a huge difficulty in our understanding.

First of all, we still have the problem of a 60,000-year time lag between the appearance of the sub-Saharan modern type man who was on the scene with no “improvements” in his technology for that length of time.

If Cro-Magnon evolved in Africa, why isn’t there a continuous record of incremental developments?

By the same reasoning, if he evolved only after crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, why isn’t there a continuous record of incremental developments?

The most effective and popular way that science deals with this crisis is to ignore it, to deny it, or to seek to twist the facts to fit the theory.

Many archaeologists continue to account for the cultural events of the Upper Paleolithic by tying them to the emergence of a more modern, intellectually superior form of human being from Africa. They propose a “second biological event” to explain this, never mind that it left no tracks in any skeletal shape.

Nowadays, the idea is to suggest that the other “modern men” of sub-Saharan Africa were not really fully modern. They were “near-modern”. Thus, Africa is preserved as the origin of all mankind, and the only thing necessary was a breakthrough in the African lineage, a “neurological event” that allowed this “new man” to develop all these new cultural behaviors overnight, so to say. What this amounts to is saying that the explosion of culture in the Upper Paleolithic times did not happen earlier because other modern men didn’t have the brains to make it happen.

Unfortunately, the support for this idea amounts only to circular logic. What’s more, it seems that if it were a “neurological event”, it would start in a small place and spread outward.

But what seems to have happened is that it sort of exploded in a lot of places at once: from Spain to the Ural mountains in Russia! And in fact, the Middle East is the LAST place where art appears.

The earliest known Aurignacian sites are in the Balkans, and they are dated to around 43,000 years ago. Three thousand years later, the Aurignacian craze is all over Europe.

We ought to note that the Neanderthals did not have art. What’s more, there was essentially no change in their stone tools for 100,000 years.

Some people suggest that the impetus for culture was the sudden development of speech. But that idea doesn’t hold much water either. If we were to look at some of the aboriginal societies of Australia and New Guinea, they are certainly Neanderthal like in their stone tools. But they think and communicate in languages that are as rich as ours, and they construct myths, stories and cosmologies with these languages. They just don’t seem to be much interested in technology.

There is another very strange thing about this explosion of homo intellectualis technologicus: it seems to have sort of “lost its steam” around 12,000 years ago.

We have already noted the pottery making of the Jomon. Even more startling is the fact that twenty-six thousand years ago the residents of Dolni Vestonice were firing ceramics in kilns. But you don’t read that in archaeology textbooks. In the standard teachings, the emergence of ceramics is linked to the functional use of pottery which supposedly did not appear until the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period some 12,000 years after the kilns at Dolni were last used.

Did we just stumble on something interesting? Didn’t we just note that something happened to “cool” the steam of the cultural explosion of the Upper Paleolithic and that it happened about 12,000 years ago? And we noted that the Jomon culture “began” at about the same time. And here we note that the agricultural revolution occurred at about the same time as that “loss of creative vigor”.

Could the two have some connection?

In Bulgaria, a thousand miles to the east of Dolni Vestonice, there is a cave called Bacho Kiro. It is famous for containing the earliest known Aurignacian tool assemblages. They are 43,000 years old.

This brings us to another curious thing about Neanderthal man: he never seemed to go anywhere. He always made his tools out of what was locally available, and he never seemed to travel at all. What was made where it was made, stayed there. Nobody traded or shared among the Neanderthal groups.

But it seems that right from the beginning, Cro-Magnon man was traveling and sharing and exchanging not only goods, but technology.

If there was a better form of stone somewhere else, the word seemed to get around, and everybody had some of it. Distinctive flints from southern Poland are found at Dolni Vestonice, a hundred miles to the south. Slovakian radiolarite of red, yellow and olive is found a hundred miles to the east. Later in the Upper Paleolithic period, the famous “chocolate flint” of southern Poland is found over a radius of two hundred and fifty miles.

Naturally, these rocks didn’t walk around on their own. Human legs carried them. And that leads us to our next little problem with Cro-Magnon man: You see, his legs were too long.

One of the sacred laws of evolutionary biology is called “Allen’s Rule”.

This rule posits that legs, arms, ears, and other body extremities should be shorter in mammals that live in cold climates, and longer in mammals of the same period who live where it is hot. This is because having short arms and legs conserves heat. This is supposed to explain why Eskimos and Laplanders have short legs. It also is supposed to explain why Bantu people are leaner, and the Maasai are extremely long and lean in their tropical open country.

The only people who seem to be mocking Allen’s rule are Cro-Magnon.

They just refused to adapt. They all have much longer legs than they ought to. Of course, this is pounced upon as proof that they came from Africa. The only problem with this is that it is hard to imagine people from a warm climate migrating to a cold one by choice. Then, on top of that, to remain long-limbed for over a thousand generations? Keep in mind that, during that time, the thermometer kept going down and, at the glacial maximum, 18,000 years ago, it was like the North Pole in northern Europe!

So how come they didn’t adapt?

By whatever means they arrived in Europe, we ought to take note of the fact that their presence there may be related to the fact that Europe and other nearby locations are literally blanketed with megaliths. Indeed, it may be so that the megaliths came long after the appearance of Cro-Magnon man, but the connection ought not to be discarded without some consideration.

We have still another problem here, and it has to do with dating. Analyzing mitochondrial DNA data to reconstruct the demographic prehistory of Homo Sapiens reveals statistical evidence of explosive growth around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Is there a connection between this DNA evidence and the appearance of Cro-Magnon man?

If so, it would mean that the DNA is dated to twice the age that archaeology confirms.

Instead of assuming that the archaeological dates are correct, perhaps we ought to ask the question: could something be wrong with the dating? From a morphological point of view as well as judging by their industry and art, these highly evolved humans who coexisted with Neanderthal man represent a mutation so enormous and sudden as to be absurd in the context of evolutionary theory.

What in the world are we going to do with this problem?

I could exhaustively describe the endless books and papers that seek to explain it away; to account for it, to marginalize it, and even ignore it. But at the end of it all, the fundamental problem still remains: a new kind of man appeared on the planet, seemingly from nowhere, and he was smart, artistic, and however he got here, he landed in a lot of places simultaneously.

Did I say “landed”? Yes, I did.

Am I suggesting that Cro-Magnon man was an alien? Not exactly.

We still have to consider the mitochondrial DNA of Eve. I also haven’t forgotten that annoying problem of the Asian vs. African origins of the “first mother” that has been so deftly dealt with by avoidance and non-answers.

What do all of these factors, taken together, suggest?

Well, any farmer can figure that one out: it suggests hybridization. But that would imply somebody doing the hybridizing. Further, we might wish to make note of the range of this culture that suddenly dropped in on Europe: from Spain (and a small region of North Africa) to the Ural Mountains that are at the border of Central Asia.

The steppes of Central Asia, just north of Turkmenia, are a difficult environment for agriculture. Goats and sheep and cattle bones are found there that date to about 4000 BC. Later, the camel and horse came into use. These cultures spoke Indo-European languages and their members are believed to have been Caucasoid.

There have been many theories that the Caucasoid nomads of the Central Asian steppes migrated to Europe.

But, as we have seen, the initial migration may have been from West to East. The archaeological record is uncertain, and therefore the migrations of the Indo-Europeans (for so we may most assuredly call them) from the Asian steppes are no longer as clear in the minds of scholars as they once were. The migrations into India and Pakistan, however, do seem to have some firmer foundation.

These incursions were most likely from the Andronovo and Srubnaya cultures as the culture described in the oldest Aryan texts is very similar to that of the steppe nomads.

As we have noted, it was formerly thought by paleontologists that Neanderthal morphed into Cro-Magnon, and that Cro-Magnon was the progenitor of human beings as we know them today. However, aside from the problems of the Eve Hypothesis, there are serious problems with the assumptions about when modern human types actually appeared on Earth.

Even if we take the evolving scientific view of the present day, we find that Cro-Magnon man was something altogether different from other anatomically modern humans.

Over and over again we read in scientific studies that Cro-Magnon man was just an “anatomically modern human”.

The experts will say:

“The Cro-Magnons lived in Europe between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. They are virtually identical to modern man, being tall and muscular and slightly more robust than most modern humans.”

Notice how they slip in that “slightly more robust” bit.

The fact is, the Cro-Magnon man was, compared to the other “anatomically modern humans” around him, practically a superman. They were skilled hunters, toolmakers and artists famous for the cave art at places such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira. They had a high cranium, a broad and upright face, and cranial capacity “about the same as modern humans” (can we say larger?), but less than that of Neanderthals. The males were as tall as 6 feet.

They appeared in Europe in the upper Pleistocene, about 40,000 years ago and “their geographic origin is still unknown”.

Their skeletal remains show a “few small differences from modern humans”. Of course, the “out of Africa” theory advocates suggest that Cro-Magnon came from Sub Saharan Africa and a temperate climate and that, “they would eventually adapt to all extremes of heat and cold”. In this way, the “slight differences” between Cro-Magnon and other forms of anatomically modern humans can be explained away as an adaptation to cold.

But, as we will see, this idea doesn’t hold water.

Cro-Magnon’s tools are described as the Aurignacian technology, characterized by bone and antler tools, such as spear tips (the first) and harpoons. They also used animal traps, and bow and arrow. They invented shafts and handles for their knives, securing their blades with bitumen, a kind of tar, as long as 40 thousand years ago. Other improvements included the invention of the atlatl, a large bone or piece of wood with a hooked groove used for adding distance and speed to spears.

 

The Cold Hand of Reality: Sorcha Faal and the Planet X fiction

September 20, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Sorcha Faal turns out to be a nom de plume for one David Booth, a retired computer programmer from New Hampshire who stirred up limited controversy in conspiracy circles with the promotion of his book ‘Code Red: The Coming Destruction of the United States 2004.’ Booth claimed the book originated in a  “consecutive ten day dream he alleged he experienced in 2003 in which he saw a large sized planetary body pass close to Earth causing an explosion.  This was then built up into the story about ‘Planet X’ a heretofore unknown planet in our solar system  on a very long, elliptical orbit. In May 2003, it was alleged by the lunatic fringe that the non-existent “Planet X” would pass close enough to the Earth to affect it in some way, causing it to flip over (what many call a “pole shift”) and spur many other huge disasters. The end result was solemnly predicted be the deaths of many billions of people. There are a large number of web pages, chat rooms and books about Planet X and its horrible effects on the Earth. So the question is, does this planet exist, and did it come close enough to Earth in May 2003 and cause great catastrophes? Did an atomic bomb explode over downtown Houston, Texas, on December 25th, 2004 by orders of Paul Wolfowitz? Many internet readers were breathlessly informed of this by a Canadian masquerading as the “German Guy,” a purported senior intelligence official in the German BND. Houston still stands, undamaged, and as far as the mythical ‘Planet X’ is concerned, here is a comment from the official NASA website:

From the NASA website:

‘There is no known Planet X or 10th planet in our solar system. Scientists have been looking for about a hundred years. It was believed that such a planet was required to explain the orbital characteristics of the outer planets Uranus and Neptune. Many searches have been performed and, to date, no evidence of such a planet has emerged. In addition, better information about the masses of outer planets has also now shown that no other planets are necessary to explain the planetary orbits. There also is no Sorcha Faal in St. Petersburg, Russia or Florida. None of the Russian scientific bodies listed in the Faal accounts, specifically the Russian Academy of Science, has any record of such a person

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 20, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conversation No. 44

Date: Tuesday, October 29, 1996

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded:    9:05 AM CST

 

GD: Good morning, Robert. How is life treating you?

RTC: Well enough, I suppose. Yourself?

GD: Not too badly. I heard from Corson who wants me to come back for a meeting with you and himself soon. He neglected to mention Kimmel for some reason.

RTC: Kimmel will probably be along to subject you to his brilliant interrogative techniques.

GD: Good. That ought to be entertaining. Corson mentioned the University Club.

RTC: Yes. Up on Sixteenth Avenue past the White House. We can have lunch.

GD: Is the food good?

RTC: It’s not the Jockey Club but it will do. Do you have any idea when you will come?

GD: Probably early in December. Willis Carto  wants to meet with me over the weekend in DC so we can get together just after that. I’ve been reading over this ZIPPER business and checking various dates out. Fascinating story, Robert, and hopefully it will make a good book. And before you say it, no, I won’t publish until after you’re gone. They were all of them into it, weren’t they?

RTC: Just a few of the top people, actually. We were talking about the Army plot to start a war with Cuba by attacking our planes and setting off a few bombs here. I believe we did talk about this.

GD: Yes.

RTC: Jim Bamford knows all about this. It’s called ‘Operation Northwoods’ and the plans are in the National Archives. I wouldn’t recommend your asking your friend Wolfe about it because he’d run to Langley with his tongue hanging out and then they would vanish without a trace. If you’re going to be here, I’ll give you chapter and verse so you can find them yourself. Oh and one other thing. You mentioned an Army file on top Nazis we used. Wolfe sent it to you?

GD: Yes, I got it from him.

RTC: If I gave you chapter and verse on it, would you confirm?

GD: Certainly.

RTC: Let me just find this…..always putting….here. ‘P&O file 311.5 TS, sections one two and three.’ Dated 1948. Is that the one?

GD: It sounds like it. I’m bad on numbers. Let me pull it out. Take about a minute.

RTC: Go ahead.

(Pause)

GD: That’s it.

RTC: That stupid son of a bitch had no right to give that to you. He’s playing both ends against the middle. When you come back here, could you make a copy and give it to me?

GD: I will do that.

RTC: That man is a rat, Gregory, a sewer rat.

GD: Don’t drag me into it, please. I never solicited it and he sent it to me so I would give him some Müller papers dealing with his employment by your people. Naturally, since I never asked for it, once it came and I read it, I pretended I never got it. This scared yesterday’s dinner out of him because he put his return address on it. He thinks some post office employee will find it and turn it over to the FBI. I think he’s afraid of going to jail.

RTC: He damned well ought to.

GD: Who knows, Robert? He might like it inside the big house. You know what they say, don’t you? If you can’t get a woman get a clean old man.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: My, and such a lot of Gestapo and SD people, not to mention a few Einsatzgruppen people we transported here, gave new names and ID to and made them GS18s… I think Wolfe wanted me to publish this and embarrass the CIA and the Army. He can’t, of course, so he thinks he is very clever using me as a cat’s paw. And to show you how brilliant an operative he is, the thing came in a NA envelope with his name written above the return address. Is he typical of the type of pseudo-academics you use?

RTC: These are useless attention-craving idiots but useful in their way.

GD: As fertilizer in your garden? You know the old saying that those who can, do, and others teach? Fits them perfectly. I have been running into academics for years. Petty, puffed-up bags of shit who squall and attack each other with their purses over the most trivial things. And, of course, they steal from everyone and then call it research. I might cite the case of Stephen Ambrose, the wonderful historian. He published a book once called a ‘Handbook on German Military Forces.’ Problem was, the book had been published in 1945 by the War Department as TM-E 30-451. Of course it wasn’t illegal to steal it, page by page, because it was public domain, but after I brought this to the attention of his publishers, the next edition had certain credit corrections. He probably blamed it all on his careless typist. You know, I always recommend an Ambrose book because you can get three books for the price of one. Why ever do you use such slugs? I’ll bet that even now, Mortimer Z. Tinsley, PhD, DVM is working on a devastating attack on the Müller book. He probably teaches at some obscure school like Antelope Valley Teacher’s College, in the history department, and his doctoral thesis, which he stole in its entirely, was entitled ‘A History of Fraud in Bulgarian Bar Mitzvahs in the Nineteenth Century.’  He will point out that Müller died in 1945 and my book is fuller of shit than a Christmas turkey. Of course he’s prating about Dr. Heinrich Müller, not Gestapo Müller, but I’ll just bet The New York Times Sunday book section will carry a wonderful review of it. I love that section. They push forward deeply moving books about a black orphan boy raised in Georgia by two vegetarian lesbians and his poignant and deeply moving struggles to become a champion purse snatcher-cum-pimp in Hell’s Kitchen. The sort of silly shit that no one reads but the editor knows the publisher.

RTC: Oh, we do have our stable of weird people working for us. Did I ever tell you about the Pedophile Academy, Gregory?

GD: Are you speaking of Yale, Robert?

RTC: No, no we actually had one down at Camp Peary. Right near Jim Critchfield’s place. I don’t know if you are aware of it but we called it The Farm and it was supposed to be a secret training center for young agents. Anyway, Allen Dulles set up this training center down there for pedophiles. They were in training to seduce, molest and, most especially, photograph the young children of targets. Not only, Allen reasoned, would our graduates have a spanking good time but they could get wonderful action pictures of the wee ones to blackmail their families with.

GD: Sick.

RTC: One could say that. I understand they broke it up when one of the graduates nailed a Deputy Director’s son at a summer camp.

GD: Another boat trip?

RTC: I really don’t know. I heard he had a sudden heart attack. We do those very well, you know.

GD: I am aware. A French doctor invented the drug. The Gestapo used it internally and externally and through Müller, we got it. Is that what you’re talking about?

RTC: I think so.

GD: Müller told me that when he came to Washington, they were tossing people out of windows. Forrestal went crazy and they chunked him out of the sixteenth floor clinic at Bethesda. That’s the special floor where they keep Senators who flip out and run around the Mall in the nude.

RTC: I think it’s more of a drunk tank, Gregory. McCarthy was locked up there for a time.

GD: They should have put him out the window. Müller used to say that this showed no consideration for people passing on the sidewalk below or expensive parked cars. Imagine an overweight official descending ten stories onto your new Packard or worse, on your Christmas shopping wife. Think of the lost gifts, Robert, and you too will weep.

RTC: Gregory, you are a terrible person.

GD: I know that, Robert. I once put angel hair…you know, the spun glass insulation…into my sister’s underwear before a family dinner and she spent most of the time scratching her crotch and other unmentionable body areas right at the table. I told everyone she had crabs and she had to leave the table. I understand her swollen pudenda looked like an eggplant.

RTC: (Laughter) Gregory, you are really very bad. But entertaining.

GD: I know. Anyway, when I come back to see you I have some ZIPPER questions for you.

RTC: Yes, I much prefer a face-to-face. But, my God, not at the University Club lunch.

GD: Of course not.

RTC: If Tom Kimmel ever got wind of what we were up to, he would have my place raided.

GD: Oh my God, Robert, he might find the Swiss Music Box.

RTC: Speaking of that, it seems to be working. At least it scares off all the birds and every time I put it on, the dogs in the neighborhood howl like demons.

GD: Maybe the poor Swiss are soaking their embassy floor with urine. Did you ever think of that?

RTC: It did occur to me. But enough merriment for today. I have to get ready to go to the doctor’s office so I will speak with you later.

 

(Concluded at 9:05 AM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Kevin Ryerson

Channeling is a process where a fraud or loon (the “channeler”) claims to be invaded by a spirit entity which speaks through said channeler. Kevin Ryerson is one of the more familiar of these, after being featured in an ABC miniseries in 1987 hosted by Shirley MacLaine in which MacLaine has conversations with spirits through Ryerson. Of particular note is the spirit “John”, an alleged contemporary of Jesus, who spoke through Ryerson – interestingly not in Aramaic but in some sort of faux Elizabethan English – and told MacLaine that she (MacLaine) is a co-creator of the world with God, thus confirming MacLaine’s brand of subjectivist egotheism. MacLaine, who has never been accused of being among the brightest bulb on the New Age circuit, was understandably excited.

Ryerson, who bills himself as an  “author, lecturer, award winning consultant , expert intuitive, futurist and trance channel in the tradition of Edgar Cayce”, has been in the game for a while now. Currently, he seems to be mostly channeling one Atun-Re, an ancestor of Nubian descent and an Egyptian Priest who lived during the time of Akhnathen, and he offers Tele-Readings for a fee well above your usual last-page horoscope readers. He has previously served as board member of the Intuition Network and vice-president of the Berkeley California Society for Psychical Studies, as well as faculty at the “Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), Omega Institute, Findhorn Foundation, Interface, Lily Dale Assembly, Philosophical Research Society, Learning Annex, and the Whole Life Expos” (we mention these for future reference). According to himself, he also “works extensively with medical doctors, scientists, parapsychologists and other professionals to add perspective and insight to various topics including physics,health, nutrition, biochemistry, geology and business,” though he is somewhat short on the details of that work. Ryerson is also the author of Spirit Communication: The Soul’s Path, coauthor of Future Healer (with Ron Henry, ND) and author of the foreword to C. Norman Shealy’sThe Future Healer. James Redfield is a fan, and covered Ryerson in The Tenth Insight.

Diagnosis: Probably a serious loon, though there are alternative interpretations of his business model. Ought to be reasonably harmless, but a shocking number of people is apparently impressed by his nonsense.

 

Gary Ruskin & the USRTK

Gary Ruskin is the executive director of the US Right to Know (USRTK), an anti-GMO activist organization ostensibly devoted to “uncovering the food industry’s efforts to manipulate scientists into advancing pro-genetically-modified propaganda,” but primarily trying to advance denialist causes by issuing FOIA requests designed to harass or silence those he disagrees with, i.e. experts and scientists who actually know anything about the topic. After all, as the American Association for the Advancement of Science puts it, “[e]very … respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion,” namely that “[c]onsuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.” Anti-GMO movements accordingly cannot win on facts or evidence, but other strategies are available: after all, public debates, as opposed to the scientific ones, are often not won by facts and evidence.

As such, Ruskin and his group have become notable for having perfected one of the most effective denialist campaigning strategies in existence, the advanced shill gambit: if an expert who knows more than you on a topic a says something that don’t gel with your preferred narrative, don’t bother to discuss the facts; go for poisoning the well instead. In particular: investigate the person and harass her/him with FOIA requests; eventually, you will find some association you can possibly spin in a manner that makes it possible to question the integrity of the expert in question. What you find need of course not be anything that is even remotely fishy; as long as your target needs to explain the association, then questions are raised, and the FUD strategy has succeeded. Thus, any integrity issues you raise might involve multiple degrees of separation, if need be: If your target’s uncle works at the same institution as the mother-in-law of the founder of a non-profit organization you think (but has no evidence for thinking) has received support from Big Pharma, for instance (this was actually the one used by antivaccine conspiracy theorist Jake Crosby to try to discredit a science-based book Seth Mnookin that Crosby didn’t like or have the capacity to engage with on fact- and evidence-based grounds), you are in a position to reject anything your target has said about anything. It really is the most effective strategy when you can’t argue the facts or the evidence: question instead your opponent’s motives – yes, the strategy, which Ruskin has perfected, is the ultimate ad hominem.

Ruskin has summed up some of his “findings” in his report “Seedy Business: What Big Food Is Hiding With Its Slick PR Campaign on GMOs”, which proceeds by accusing scientists who disagree with him of being “untrustworthy” and “shills” in lieu of having to deal with the actual science. Perhaps the most illustrative example of the strategy is Ruskin’s and USRTK’s campaigns targeting Kevin Folta, which are detailed here. Ruskin’s strategy and its outcomes are further discussed here. Ruskin has also appeared on Dr. Oz to promote his harassment strategies and, without a hint of irony, to help discredit Oz’s critics with the help of shill gambits; yes, that’s right: dr. Oz was trying to discredit people pointing out how corrupt he is by accusing them of being paid.

It should be emphasized that the URSTK itself is funded by the organic food industry, a fact that they are, shall we say, not always sanguine about and sometimes inadvertently forget to mention when defending their own tactics.

Apart from harassing scientists, the URSTK website also serves as a repository for various denialist talking points and conspiracy theories. It should also be mentioned that one of the most experienced FUD tacticians in the denialist movement, Carey Gillam, is an central figure in URSTK.

Diagnosis: Yes, their business model is built around a familiar fallacy. So what? It’s effective, and this was never about facts, evidence or science. An icon of the post-truth political discourse, URSTK is an insidious threat to civilization and, yes, democracy.

And keep in mind: If you believe that scientists, who have devoted their lives and careers – and often sacrificed far more lucrative employment opportunities – to research their fields of interest, will without further ado opt for lying and deceiving on behalf of industry in return for small research grants, then that tells us quite a bit about you and your integrity; not so much about those scientists.

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