Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News September 24, 2019

Sep 24 2019

 The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 24, 2019:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary for September 24: “History is full of murderous manipulatons, always hidden from public view/ For example there is the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor that precipitated the Spanish American war. An expansionist party in America that chanted about Manifest Destiny, was eager to expand America in various areas and warmly supported a war with the decayed Spanish Empire. Insurrection in the Spanish colony of Cuba gave these jingoists an excuse to press for war. When the Maine blew up while on a show-the-flag visit to Cuba, war was a foregone conclusion. The sunken battleship was subject to extensive investigation after the war and it was discovered that the massive explosion occurred from inside the ship. In all probability it was the explosion of very volatile coal dust but it could also have been a bomb. Since the battleship was manned at the time, neither Spanish nor Cuban revolutionaries could be held accountable. The remains of the Maine were towed out into the Caribbean and sunk in a very deep area, precluding further examination.”

The Table of Contents

  • Brexit crisis deepens as court rules Johnson unlawfully suspended UK parliament
  • UK Supreme Court ruling: What happens next?
  • Why is the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal so serious?
  • Trump confirms he held back aid to Ukraine as impeachment talk surges
  • Ukraine wants to stay out of U.S. domestic politics: presidential official
  • Explainer: What it would take for Congress to impeach Trump
  • Patmos and the Revelation
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

Brexit crisis deepens as court rules Johnson unlawfully suspended UK parliament

September 24, 2019

by Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful, a humiliating rebuke that thrusts Britain’s exit from the European Union into deeper turmoil.

The unanimous and stinging judgment by the court’s 11 judges undermines Johnson’s already fragile grip on power and gives legislators more scope to oppose his promise to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31.

Opposition leaders demanded that he should resign immediately for misleading Queen Elizabeth, who had officially suspended parliament on his advice.

Parliament, where Johnson has lost his majority and he suffered repeated defeats since taking office in July, is now set to be reconvened three weeks early, giving opponents more time to challenge, amend, or block his Brexit plans or even bring down his government.

“The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said.

In its historic ruling, the court said Johnson had not given any reason – “let alone a good reason” – for suspending the legislature for five weeks.

“The prime minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect,” said Hale, adding that parliament was therefore not suspended and it was up to the speakers of parliament’s two chambers to decide what to do next.

John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, where a majority of lawmakers oppose his plan for an Oct. 31 Brexit even if he has failed to secure a divorce deal, said the chamber would convene on Wednesday.

“I’ve instructed the House authorities to undertake such steps as are necessary to ensure that the House of Commons sits tomorrow and that it does so at 11.30 am (1030 GMT),” he said.

Sterling initially hit a day’s high of $1.2479 after the ruling before falling back to stand at $1.2454 at 1045 GMT, up 0.2% on the day and only slightly stronger than before the court decision.

Johnson declined to answer questions as he attended a meeting of business leaders in New York but had said ahead of the verdict he would not resign if he lost the case.

He is due to meet world leaders later at the United Nations General Assembly. The government declined immediate comment.

BREXIT CHAOS

More than three years after the United Kingdom voted by 52%-48% in a referendum to leave the European Union, the future of Brexit remains mired in confusion, with options ranging from a turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning the entire endeavor.

The country is deeply divided and the court ruling was eagerly awaited, from pro- and anti-Brexit protesters gathered outside parliament to people watching on television in homes and offices.

Johnson’s reaction to the damning ruling could be crucial. He now faces a hostile parliament and the EU which says his proposals for a Brexit deal are far too meager for a proper divorce deal.

Parliament was suspended, or prorogued in the formal term, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 14. The prorogation was approved by Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s politically neutral head of state, on the advice of the prime minister. Buckingham Palace had no immediate comment.

Johnson, who took office in July after Theresa May stepped down over her failure to win parliament’s support for a withdrawal agreement, had claimed the suspension was necessary so that a new legislative agenda could be laid out and that it had nothing to do with thwarting opposition to a no-deal Brexit.

His lawyer had told the court he might even prorogue parliament again. However, after the ruling, opposition lawmakers demanded Johnson’s resignation.

“I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to ‘consider his position’,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told delegates at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton.

A Labour spokesman would not comment on whether the party would put forward a vote of no confidence in Johnson.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said Johnson was unfit to rule and that she would return to Westminster to fight to stop Brexit altogether. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said if he did not resign he should be forced out.

Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major, who joined anti-Brexit campaigners and opposition lawmakers in the legal challenge against the prorogation, said parliament should be recalled to receive Johnson’s “unreserved apology”.

“No prime minister must ever treat the monarch or parliament in this way again,” he said in a statement.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in New York; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan

 

UK Supreme Court ruling: What happens next?

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful. So what are the next steps for Parliament, Brexit and the prime minister?

September 24, 2019

by Elliot Douglas

DW

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful because, as Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said, “it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

So what happens next?

Parliament will return to session on Wednesday

Technically, this ruling means that the UK Parliament was never prorogued in the first place and remains in session.

In practice, it means that, after being suspended on September 10 for five weeks, the UK Parliament will now return to session after a mere 15 days.

John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, said after the ruling that he had “instructed the House authorities to undertake such steps as are necessary to ensure that the House of Commons sits tomorrow and that it does so at 11:30 a.m.” However, a Prime Minister’s Questions session will be skipped as Boris Johnson will still be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The weekly debate regularly takes place on a Wednesday and offers parliamentarians a chance to scrutinize the prime minster.

“However, for the avoidance of doubt there will be full scope for urgent questions, for ministerial statements and for applications for emergency debates,” Bercow clarified.

Johnson may resign

Immediately following the court’s decision, calls came from all major opposition parties for the prime minister to resign. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the Labour party conference in Brighton, said “I invite Boris Johnson, in the historic words, to consider his position, and become the shortest serving prime minister there has ever been.”

Johnson is not required by the ruling to resign, especially as Hale’s summation fell short of claiming that the prime minister had acted improperly in the advice he gave to the queen. But he is now skating on thin constitutional ice.

If Johnson is forced to resign, it would trigger the second Conservative party leadership race of the year and may delay Brexit or lead to a potential early general election.

Early general election still possible

Shortly before the prorogation, the UK Parliament twice voted against Johnson’s attempt to call an early election. Under UK law, a prime minister needs the approval of two-thirds of the Parliament in order to call an early election. The opposition parties voted against an election, believing it was Johnson’s way of pushing through a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson no longer commands a majority in the House of Commons following the deselection of 21 rebel Conservative parliamentarians who defied the government to vote against a no-deal Brexit. Many of these MPs have since joined opposition parties. His minority government means it will be extremely difficult for Johnson to get any legislation through.

Now that Parliament will reconvene early and given his minority, Johnson may try once again to get Parliament’s approval for an early election. Whether opposition parties support him or not depends largely on the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.

Brexit may be delayed

As things stand, the United Kingdom is still set to exit the European Union on October 31, with or without a deal. Despite the short time frame which the prorogation allowed them, lawmakers in the House of Commons managed to squeeze through a law which would require Johnson to ask for another extension to Brexit if he fails to agree a deal at the EU summit on October 19.

But with parliamentary scrutiny returning earlier than expected, it’s very likely that opponents of no-deal will do their best to make sure Johnson follows through on this law.

 

Why is the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal so serious?

Reports that Trump urged a foreign leader to investigate Joe Biden have rocked Washington and intensified calls for impeachment

September 23, 2019

by Adam Gabbatt in New York

The Guardian

Donald Trump is facing on one of the most perilous periods of his historically perilous presidency.

Reports that he urged a foreign leader to investigate Joe Biden, seen as his main rival in the 2020 presidential election, have rocked Washington and intensified calls for Trump to be impeached.

Trump is set to meet Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the leader in question, in New York on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Democrats on the House intelligence committee will grill Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire has refused to release details of a whistleblower’s complaint said to relate to a phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, despite intensifying calls from Democrats and even some Republicans.

How did this begin?

A whistleblower, working in US intelligence, filed a formal complaint in August. The unnamed whistleblower is said to have seen or heard something that raised “urgent concern”.

Reporting has since revealed that the complaint was based on a series of events, including a 25 July call between Trump and Zelenskiy. Complaints of this nature are usually reported to Congress within seven days. Maguire, who was appointed by Trump, has refused to do so.

What happened on the call?

Numerous news outlets have reported that Trump pressured Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump asked Zelenskiy eight times to investigate Hunter Biden.

On Sunday, Trump confirmed he discussed the Bidens with Zelenskiy, and accused the pair – without offering any evidence – of corruption.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place,” he said. “Was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice-President Biden and his son, [contributing] to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”

Why is Ukraine involved?

There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden or Hunter Biden. The allegations relate to Biden Jr’s time on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which was owned by a businessman who was being investigated by Ukraine’s top prosecutor.

In 2016 the US and a number of other western countries pressured Ukraine to remove the prosecutor. Biden was vice-president at the time.

Trump’s push for the Bidens to be investigated relates to the prosecutor’s removal. Trump’s assertions appear to be politically motivated. Joe Biden is favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president and polls show him beating Trump comfortably.

Why is this so serious?

It is illegal for a political campaign to accept a “thing of value” from a foreign government. Democrats say an investigation into a political opponent – for which Trump appears to have been pushing – would amount to a thing of value.

It has also been suggested that Trump may have threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine. About a month after the call, the US delayed $250m in such assistance. The money was released this month, after the existence of the whistleblower complaint became public.

On Monday, at the United Nations in New York, Trump said of the call: “It’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? … It’s very important that on occasion you speak to somebody about corruption.”

Trump also continued to seek to cast doubt on the whistleblower’s motivations, tweeting: “Who is this so-called ‘whistleblower’ who doesn’t know the correct facts. Is he on our Country’s side. Where does he come from?”

Will the Trump-Zelenskiy transcript be released?

Democrats and some Republicans have called for this to happen and it was reported on Monday that the White House is seriously considering doing so.

Cabinet members Steven Mnuchin and Mike Pompeo, and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, have said releasing the transcript would set a damaging precedent, given the need for leaders to speak frankly in such calls.

White House advisers are also reportedly worried that releasing the transcript would lead to calls for transcripts of conversations between Trump and other leaders – most notably Vladimir Putin – to be made public too.

What are Democrats saying?

On Monday Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, wrote to the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, asking him to help obtain the whistleblower report and investigate why military aid was withheld. It seems unlikely McConnell will help him out.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that if reports about the complaint bear out, Trump will face “serious repercussions” and the nation will have “grave, urgent concerns for our national security”.

Pelosi has resisted pressure from the Democratic rank-and-file to impeach Trump over his links to Russia. The Ukraine revelations have only intensified calls for impeachment. On Sunday Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee, told CNN “we may have crossed the Rubicon”.

 

Trump confirms he held back aid to Ukraine as impeachment talk surges

September 24, 2019

by Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle

Reuters

UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump confirmed on Tuesday he had withheld nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine but denied he did so as leverage to get its president to initiate an investigation that would damage Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

In Washington, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was meeting with fellow Democratic lawmakers to consider impeachment of the Republican president as support for the action grew inside her party. Pelosi is expected to make public comments afterward.

In remarks to reporters over the intensifying controversy amid increasing talk in Congress of impeaching the president, Trump sought to portray that there was nothing sinister about the withholding the aid, saying he wanted Europe and not just the United States step up and provide Ukraine assistance.

The money was later released by the Trump administration.

There was never any quid pro quo,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations, using a Latin phrase meaning a favor that is exchanged for a favor.

In a public statement set for later in the day, Biden will call on Congress to impeach Trump if the president does not comply with congressional requests for information on Ukraine and other matters, a Biden spokesman said.

Trump is seeking re-election next year and Biden, the former U.S. vice president, is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump on Sunday acknowledged that he discussed Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, who had worked for a company drilling for gas in Ukraine, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

But Trump on Monday denied trying to coerce Zelenskiy in the

July 25 phone call to launch a corruption investigation into Biden and his son in return for the U.S. military aid.

Arriving at the United Nations before his speech to the annual General Assembly, Trump confirmed that he had wanted the money for Ukraine frozen, saying European countries should provide assistance to Kiev, but changed his mind after “people called me.”

However, Trump told reporters that he still felt other nations should be paying to help Ukraine. “The money was paid, but very importantly, Germany, France, other countries should put up money,” Trump said.

Regarding aid to Ukraine, Trump said, “We’re putting up the bulk of the money, and I’m asking why is that? … What I want, and I insist on it, is that Europe has to put up money for Ukraine also.”

Trump on Tuesday indicated that he expects a “readout” of the phone call with Ukraine’s president to be made public.

“And when you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand. That call was perfect. It couldn’t have been nicer,” Trump told reporters.

The controversy came to light after a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Zelenskiy, leading to calls from some Democrats that Trump be impeached for trying to enlist a foreign power to smear a domestic opponent.

U.S. intelligence agencies and a special counsel previously concluded that Russia boosted Trump’s 2016 presidential election bid with a campaign of hacking and propaganda aimed at harming his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress had not been made aware of any substantive review of security assistance to Ukraine or any policy reason the funds should have been withheld.

In a letter to Mike Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Menendez said “it is becoming clear that” Trump put pressure on Ukrainian officials.

Menendez, in one of three letters sent to administration officials, also said “we must immediately understand whether, and to what extent, the President and his team converted duly-appropriated United States foreign assistance funds for his personal and political benefit, and what role federal agencies may have played in it.”

IMPEACHMENT EFFORTS

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the Senate then holds a trial on whether to remove the president from office. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Democrats currently control the House and Republican control the Senate.

A House committee has already launched a formal impeachment probe of Trump in light of his actions in the Russia matter but the impeachment drive never won the support of key party figures including Pelosi.

Pelosi appeared to be moving closer to favoring impeachment as Democrats demand that the Trump administration release details of a whistleblower complaint and the transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president.

Democratic Representative John Lewis, speaking on the House floor, said he now believed it is time to begin impeachment proceedings.

“I have been patient while we tried every other path and used every other tool,” Lewis said.

Trump accused Democrats of considering impeachment for purely political reasons.

“They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment,” Trump said at the United Nations.

Three House committees wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone saying they wold issue a subpoena if documents related to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine are not turned over by Thursday.

In his letter, Menendez noted that the U.S. State and Defense Departments recommended and prepared to distribute in late June $391.5 million in military and security assistance to boost Ukraine’s armed forces as the country dealt with Russian aggression and sought to improve maritime security in the Black Sea.

However, weeks before Trump’s call with Zelenskiy, OMB blocked the aid, Menendez said in the letter to Mulvaney.

“Ukrainian officials were reportedly ‘blindsided,’” Menendez wrote. “For months, despite repeated inquiries from my office and others, administration officials have been unable to offer any policy justification for why these funds were blocked.”

Joseph Maguire, acting U.S. director of national intelligence, is defying a federal law mandating that the whistleblower report be shared with Congress. Maguire is due to testify at a public House intelligence committee hearing on Thursday.

House committees have called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to produce documents related to contacts between Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Steve Holland at the United Nations; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Alistair Bell

 

Ukraine wants to stay out of U.S. domestic politics: presidential official

September 23, 2019

Reuters

Ukraine wants to stay out of a domestic political battle in Washington and any attempt by either side to take advantage of Ukraine would damage relations, a top official in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration told Reuters.

Ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump this week, Zelenskiy is caught in a fight between Republicans and Democrats over allegations that Trump pressured Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Oleksandr Danylyuk, the top official of the body responsible for coordinating national security, told Reuters by phone that Ukraine’s main objective is to have support and trusting relations with the United States.

“Understanding the importance of Ukraine’s support in the context of everything that’s going on in our region, any attempts to use Ukraine by one party or the other is clearly detrimental to our relations,”he said by phone.

Reporting by Ilya Zhegulev; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alistair Bell

 

Explainer: What it would take for Congress to impeach Trump

Septpember 24, 2019

by Richard Cowan and Jan Wolfe

Reuters

(Reuters) – Some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s critics in the House of Representatives are calling for an impeachment investigation following a whistleblower complaint that has roiled Washington.

The complaint, which came from inside the intelligence community, focused on a July phone call in which Trump repeatedly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is one of Trump’s chief political rivals, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal and other U.S. media outlets.

Some Democratic lawmakers have said they have no choice but to try to impeach Trump if he pressured a foreign leader to influence a U.S. election.

The majority of the 235 Democrats in the House already supported an impeachment inquiry based on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which declined to make a judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice but outlined 10 instances in which Trump tried to have Mueller fired or otherwise impede the investigation.

Trump on Sunday acknowledged that he discussed Biden with Ukraine’s president but defended the call as perfectly appropriate.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

Opinion polls continue to show voters sharply divided over removing Trump from office through impeachment, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has opposed impeachment as a politically risky move unless investigators find powerful evidence of misconduct by Trump that can unify public opinion.

Here is how the impeachment process works.

WHY IMPEACHMENT?

The founders of the United States created the office of the presidency and feared that its powers could be abused. So they included impeachment as a central part of the Constitution.

They gave the House “the sole power of impeachment;” the Senate, “the sole power to try all impeachments;” and the chief justice of the Supreme Court the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate.

The president, under the Constitution, can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” What exactly that means is unclear. Historically, it can encompass corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.

No president has ever been removed as a direct result of impeachment. One, President Richard Nixon, resigned before he could be removed. Two, presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were impeached by the House, but not convicted by the Senate.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Impeachment begins in the House, the lower chamber, which debates and votes on whether to bring charges against the president via approval of an impeachment resolution, or “articles of impeachment,” by a simple majority of the House’s 435 members.

If the House approves such a resolution, a trial is then held in the Senate. House members act as the prosecutors; the senators as jurors; the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides. A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president. This has never happened.

CAN THE SUPREME COURT OVERTURN?

No. Trump has said on Twitter that he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if Democrats tried to impeach him. But the founders explicitly rejected allowing appeal of a Senate conviction to the federal judiciary.

PARTY BREAKDOWN IN CONGRESS?

The House has 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, and one independent. As a result, the Democrats could impeach Trump with no Republican support.

In 1998, when Republicans had a House majority, the chamber voted largely along party lines to impeach Clinton, a Democrat.

The Senate now has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with the Democrats. Conviction and removal of a president would require 67 votes. So, for Trump to be removed from office via impeachment, at least 20 Republicans and all the Democrats and independents would have to vote against him.

WHO BECOMES PRESIDENT IF TRUMP IS REMOVED?

In the unlikely event the Senate convicted Trump, Vice President Mike Pence would become president for the remainder of Trump’s term, which ends on Jan. 20, 2021.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Dan Grebler

 

Patmos and the Revelation

September 24, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Patmos is a Greek Island in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not much more than a big chunk of rock, it is where John was exiled for his Christian beliefs late in the reign of Domitian. The time of John is toward the end of the First Century of the Christian era.

Patmos, like the other Dodecanese islands, is the result of ancient volcanic activity. And, like the others, it is small, only twenty-five miles in circumference (ten miles long and six miles wide at the widest point) with a mostly mountainous total area of fifteen square miles. Near the center of the island, Skala is the island’s modern commercial center and port.

Populated today by some 2500 people who make their living from sponge diving and tourism, Patmos was largely deserted during the Middle Ages due in part to its vulnerability to Aegean pirates. It’s earliest inhabitants, however, included Dorian and, later, Ionian settlers. In Roman times it may have served as a locale for exiled political dissidents, though, unlike on some neighboring islands, there is no remaining physical evidence of such use. Which brings us to the author of the Book of Revelations, who identified himself as “I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1:9 NRSV).

As far as anyone knows, Paul left no footprints on Patmos. The literary footprints are of the author of the Book of Revelation and what is to be seen today is largely the result of the island’s identity with him. There is very little likelihood, incidentally, that John of Patmos was the author of the Gospel of John. Despite what guide books and tour guides would have you believe, his identity is something of a mystery. According to tradition, he was exiled to Patmos by the emperor Domitian in 95 CE for unspecified reasons. The Acts of John,a 5th-century work supposedly by the apostle’s scribe, contains many legends about his time on Patmos.

Patmos is in the route between Rome and Ephesus.  Christians were persecuted in Ephesus by the Roman emperor Domitian.  Tradition states that John was exiled to Patmos in that persecution of 95 A.D., though there seems to be no evidence of it being a penal colony.  He lived in a cave with his scribe Prochoros, now called the Cave of the Apocalypse.   Prochoros was one of the seven deacons ordained by the Apostles and later became the bishop of Nicodemia. Tradition states the John died in 104 A.D. at the age of 99 and was buried in Ephesus.  The new emperor Neva gave John permission to return to Ephesus and continue his ministry.1

The Romans used the island as a penal settlement to which they sent political agitators and others who threatened the peace of the empire (Tacitus Annals 3.68; 4.30; 15.71). According to Eusebius, John was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian, A. D. 95, and released 18 months later under Nerva (HE III.18.1; 20.8-9).

According to the New Testament account, John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James. They originally were fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth. He was first a disciple of John the Baptist, and later one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He is revered as a saint by all branches of Christianity that revere saints. The Roman Catholic Church commemorates him on December 27. The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him on September 26, and also remembers him on May 8, on which date Christians used to draw forth from his grave fine ashes which were effective for healing the sick.

John was traditionally held to be the author of five books of the New Testament, including the Gospel of John, but many scholars dispute this. Catholic/Orthodox tradition says that he and the Virgin Mary moved to Ephesus, where both eventually died. Many Evangelical and other scholars question this, especially due to the advanced age which Mary would have reached by this time. Some believe, however, that there is support for the idea that John did go to Ephesus and from there wrote the three epistles sometimes attributed to him. John was allegedly banished to the Greek island of Patmos, where some believe that he wrote the Book of Revelation.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 24, 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. 79

Date: Tuesday, April 8, 1997

Commenced:  9:08 AM CST

Concluded: 9;55 AM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert, All week there?

RTC: Very tired today, Gregory.

GD: If I’m calling at a wrong time, maybe I can call back later on…on tomorrow.

RTC: No, just very tires. I slept well but I feel like I haven’t been to bed for several days.

GD: Seen a doctor recently?

RTC: My God, yes. A number of them. General check ups and Emily is under the impression that because I smoke, she says too much, I might have some kind of lung problems. I am not going to give up smoking now, Gregory. I’ve gotten used to it. Terribly addictive, tobacco.

GD: Yes. I read a recent study on tobacco. Very, very addictive. Causes all kinds of respiratory diseases and cancer as well.

RTC: Ah well, Gregory, if one thing doesn’t get you, something else will.

GD: How about being hanged for rape at 95?

RTC: (Laughter) what do they say about a consummation?

GD: A consummation devoutly to be wished. Shakespeare. We could make it less final and mention being sued for child support at the same age.

RTC: They say that if you father children after a certain age, they have mental problems.

GD: Could be. You see a lot of weird yard monsters being carried around these days, Robert. Flat faces, drooling. Mongoloids. Of course, we don’t call them that any more. I think they say differently abled. But a Mongoloid idiot is still a Mongoloid idiot, no matter how you slice it. So correct now. Bloody twits. Don’t say this, can’t say that. Oh my, that is so demeaning. That’s what someone told me the other day when I called a fat woman a bloato. I apologized and called her a piggy instead. That didn’t go over very well, either. So many Mongoloids and so many jiggling fatties waddling around. If they kept their mouths shut, Robert, it would serve two valuable purposes. On the one hand, we wouldn’t have to listen to their babblings and on the other, they wouldn’t be feeding their enormous guts every waking hour. Well, the potato chip industry would suffer but then, on another negative side, they might live longer, .Robert, as you were on board at the CIA during the formative years, could you address some points I am trying to research?

RTC: I’ll try, if I can, Gregory.

GD: OK. The CIA was originally started up by Truman in about ’48…

RTC: Yes. Harry was not happy with the slanted intelligence the Army was providing so he set us up to counter the bs.

GD: Yes. Gehlen told me about the fake Russian invasion plot of ’48. That’s when his organization of former Gestapo people was run by the Army. Faked up the story of a pending Russian invasion to terrify Congress and the public so as to keep business going along on a wartime footing and the Army from being disbanded.

RTC: Basically true, Gregory. We had nothing to do with that.

GD: The CIA took Gehlen over just after that fraud, correct?

RTC: Yes, after that. We had nothing to do with that.

GD: Mueller said that fake report was the real starting gun for the cold war. Would you agree?

RTC: I would go along with that.

GD: Russia had been bled dry during the war and much of her relatively primitive infrastructure had been ruined. Heavy loss in troops and so on. In other words, in 1948, Stalin not only was in no shape to confront the western powers on a military level nor really compete in the marketplace. Right?

RTC: Right.

GD: Now I agree that Stalin was engaged in extensive spying here and elsewhere during and after the war. But everyone spies on everyone else. Spying is not a military threat but wasn’t this domestic spying used to terrify the public into supporting a very expensive cold war? You were on the inside then, Robert. Between us and the phone taps, was Russia going to nuke us or start a land war in ’49 or even ’50?

RTC: No, they were not.

GD: So if that were the case, the CIA grew to such a powerful entity solely on the mistaken, deliberately mistaken, premise that Russia, and later China, were going to attack us. Right?

RTC: This is a rather sensitive area, Gregory, but I’m retired and old and overall, you are probably right. But they were spying on us. Bunch of traitorous Jews under Roosevelt were running rampant here. You must know that White and even Wallace were helping Uncle Joe with all of our secrets.

GD: Yes, but annoying as this was, it was not a military threat. And with the great increase in domestic income as a result of the war, Communism had long ago lost its attraction for the poor and the various left wing politicians here. Right?

RTC: Yes, but we are talking about a huge army of spies here then.

GD: Ideological people. Poor. Give a man some money and a new television, and dreams of communism vanish as the waistline spreads.

RTC: Yes but then don’t forget the very real threats to the west by Stalin and his successors.

GD: But these were struggles for markets and natural resources, weren’t they? I mean not a real military threat. It had always been the dream in Moscow to capture the very technical and industrious Germany. Was that was when Lenin took off the fright wig. Always get Germany. I know about this because when Mueller took over the tiny Gestapo in ’35, he said there were about 20,000 active Communist Russian spies loose all over Germany. When he got through with them, there were about five left. Anyway, wasn’t the struggle then just an economic struggle like the one that started the First World War? Odd. Russia and the United States were engaged in a purely capitalist struggle for economic power. Not military power. Do you concur?

RTC: Yes, it boiled down to that. I mean, we had our friends. People we knew as schoolmates, friends or neighbors. Business friends. Old Bill ran some aluminum company and he wanted us to secure bauxite sites in some country that Russia was also interested in. Of course we couldn’t use this as an excuse to topple some government and set up a US-friendly one so we tarted it up to say the existing government there was being run by Moscow and a Communist seizure was just a matter of time.

GD: Like Nicaragua?

RTC: Exactly so.

GD: Levi and Zentner has friends in Langley.

RTC: Well, more like the Grace people but I follow. But why should Russia get its hands on valuable resources when we wanted them? Let’s face it, Gregory, the struggle for natural resources is the struggle for life.

GD: But why not seek less damaging goals? Isn’t there enough to go around?

RTC: Well, that’s the question. Planet is getting very small these days. Too many people need more products and whoever has the natural resources, at least as long as they hold out, has the upper hand. Now, thanks to us, we have the upper hand. We damned near got all the Russia oil and gas under Yeltsin but you can’t win them all.

GD: But Reagan was the last gasp of all that, wasn’t he?

RTC: When business sees itself as losing something they want, it will never be over.

GD: But when the cold war was on, we struggled with Russia over the natural resources of Africa. Each of us took over this or that country and set up this or that tin horn dictator answerable to us, or them. And now that the cold war is over, thanks to Reagan, why Africa is no longer of any interest to either side. I predict that in twenty years, Africa, at least sub-Saharan Africa, will be a wasteland. There’s a lot of AIDS there now and once all the natives are dead, we can just walk in and take over the resources. No need for a war, Robert, just let nature take its course.

RTC: Very ruthless, Gregory.

GD: I study history, Robert. Use facts, not emotions.

RTC: I hate to say this but Marx was right when he talked about the role of economics in history.

GD: I’ve read Marx. Fine theories but stupid practices. From each according to his ability to each according to his need. Right? Sounds almost Christian, doesn’t it? Of course both systems, Jesus and Marx, sound so noble and self-sacrificing on paper but they are Utopian and never work. And the raging idealists are the first to be shot when the pragmatists come into power. Night following day. And Robert, in the end, who cares?

 

(Concluded at 9:55 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

 

Richard Moskowitz

 

Richard Moskowitz is a homeopath and antivaccine advocate. Apparently Moskowitz was trained as an MD some 50 years ago, but his more recent activities show in the strongest possible way that you should turn elsewhere for medical advice.

As an antivaccine activist (given his background he did make it onto this sorry list of purported anti-vaccine doctors), Moskowitz thinks immunization is an act against God (in “Vaccination: A Sacrament of Modern Medicine” – no link provided). His main idea, though, is that vaccine-preventable diseases are not that bad – a 1/1000 chance of dying from measles is something he thinks you should be willing to deal with, since suffering and death is nothing to worry about as long as it is relatively uncommon – and that if they occur they should be treated with homeopathic nostrums, which don’t do anything and would increase the mortality rate only some (not Moskowitz’s own words). In his article “Unvaccinated Children”, published in the dubious journal (website, really) Medical Voices and discussed here, he even suggests that at least “any child whose sibling or parent previously contracted poliomyelitis, or a severe or complicated case of measles or whooping cough or any of the other diseases listed, should not receive the vaccine prepared against that illness.” A moment’s reflection should reveal that this is not good advice. As for tetanus, Moskowitz recommendation is that“Hypericum can reputedly treat as well as prevent tetanus, but I would recommend giving human antitoxin at the first sign of the disease, since it is far less effective later on.” This piece of advice is actually rather likely to kill you if you ever contracted tetanus. His advice on anthrax (no link provided) would be hilarious if it wasn’t so scary, displaying an almost perfect lack of understanding of the disease.

Moskowitz’s defense of homeopathy reveals an understanding of science and evidence to match his understanding of anthrax, and consists primarily of tirades against Big Pharma (the pharma is shit therefore my magic beans cure cancer-gambit), delusional attacks on real medicine, claiming that clinical trials are not adequate to study homeopathy, since such trials consistently show that it doesn’t work, contrary to Moskowitz’s powers of intuition – how else would he know that homeopathy works, insofar as there can be no proper trials? Besides, modern medicine doesn’t take into account “the energy field of the patient as a whole” – the life force, if you want. He also argues that since homeopathy works in animals and in newborns it can’t be placebo, which is seriously misunderstanding what the placebo effect is and completely missing that part about evaluator bias. It would be interesting to hear Moskowitz try to answer the question of why medical trials use double blinding, but then again it probably wouldn’t.

Diagnosis: Crackpot, pseudoscientist and genuinely dangerous lunatic. He’s apparently viewed as something of an authority in certain anti-vaccine circles, which tells you quite a bit both about them and about him.

 

Jennifer Roback Morse

 

Jennifer Roback Morse is a religious fundamentalist and President and Founder of the Ruth Institute, a radical anti-gay group that for a while was an arm of the extreme anti-marriage-equality organization NOM. The institute has correctly been designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Roback Morse rose to prominence – she’s pretty influential – in wingnut circles for a couple of books, as a radio show host, and as “an official spokesman for” and vocal defender of California’s Proposition 8 back in 2008. She is also a signatory to the 2017 Nashville Statement, affirming a complementarian view of gender and a traditionalist view of sexuality.

Morse’s opposition to gay marriage is to a large extent fueled by her commitment to archaic stereotypes about gay people, for instance the thought that “neither permanence nor sexual exclusivity plays the same significant role” for them; officially, of course, her main argument against gay marriage is that legalizing gay marriage would be “removing biology as the basis for parenthood and replacing it with legal constructions,” but that assumption has little to do with her actual motivation. It is worth pointing out that Morse and her husband themselves adopted a child because they couldn’t have children of their own, which apparently didn’t in their eyes invalidate their marriage. Now, Morse has published a list of 77 non-religious reasons to support Man/Woman marriage. It is, of course, actually a list attacking gay marriage; Morse, who blames Hollywood for the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality, seems to be under the delusion that supporting same-sex marriage is the same as opposing opposite-sex marriages, and is demonstrably not particularly good at seeing rather obvious connections. Most of the points on that list are just vague rewordings of the single aforementioned point about biological foundations for marriage that she doesn’t, in fact, accept herself. If you are interested, the list is discussed in some detail here. Apparently, legalizing gay marriage will also let people with “drug problems, who are mentally unstable,” or who aren’t sure whether they are gay, get married, which is a novel change compared to previous legal restrictions that clearly prevented unstable people and drug users from marrying.

In 2013, she (and her group) was also behind an insane doomsday list of bizarre projected consequences of legalizing gay marriage delivered before the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee. Morse called the rant the “New Gettysburg Address of the Marriage Movement”, which is about as reasonable as the contents of the rant. Morse is also the kind of person that compares opposition to marriage equality to the position of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, claiming that “the parallels” between Nazi Germany and contemporary America “are really quite chilling” and that what happened in Nazi Germany “is happening to us”. One wonders what she thinks did happen in Nazi Germany. (She relied on Eric Metaxas’s revisionist Bonhoeffer biography, of course.) She has also been promoting ex-gay therapy, arguing that leaving “the gay lifestyle” takes more courage than coming out.

Morse has declared that anyone who “buys sperm” in order to conceive a child should be in jail. This is apparently because of God, though the details of the reasoning process is a bit fuzzy (“The child is now a product, manufactured by adults, and therefore the child cannot be fully the equal of its parent. The object cannot be the equal of its producer or its maker, you know. And so the further we go down this path, the further away we are going from the true ideal of equality before God, of equality before one another, of treating one another with dignity. And the child becomes a kind of chattel. So the legal complications and the sort of ick factor of all of this, it’s important to sort all that out and look at it, but let’s not take our eye off that ball, which is that we have defaced the creator’s plan and intention here by this behavior.” These are not the coherent thought processes of a rational mind).

In 2012 she suggested that young people should refrain from having gay friends. There is a fine (though somewhat dated) list of other moronic things Morse has said about homosexuality here.

Gender equality

Morse has also weighed in on other social issues. In 2012 she was deeply offended by Obama’s health care mandate, claiming that it was part of a war weighed against women’s fertility. In general, according to Morse, there is no “war on women” but rather a “war on women’s fertility”, where enemy forces are making contraception easily available and encouraging women to enter the workforce after college rather than getting married, staying home, cleaning the house and having children.

The underlying source of all evils is, according to Morse, the sexual revolution, a “totalitarian” movement pushed by “hipsters” and “radical feminists” that victimizes professional women who build their lives “around the lies.” As an example of such totalitarianism is apparently the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, which she claims is a government effort to “control people’s behavior and even people’s thoughts.” By requiring that insurance plans cover contraception, Morse argues, the government is “stifling dissent by essentially saying: ‘This society will be built around contraception, and there will be no dissent from that.’” Of course, by the same token anymeasure ever passed is by definition a totalitarian one that stifles dissent.

The sexual revolution has ostensibly been promoted by “population controllers (who think there are too many poor people); hipsters (who just want to be libertines); radical feminists who think babies are keeping women from being ‘equal.’” And yes: of course there is a conspiracy behind it all: “All these groups have one thing in common: They’re controlled by elites, people who want to re-create the world in their own image,” rather than hers.

Apparently the sexual revolution, and especially LGBT equality, are bringing back slavery. In a statement that reveals a lack of knowledge of history to match her delusions about the present, Morse argues that “all of these issues – divorce and remarriage, abortion and infanticide, slavery, the buying and selling of human beings – all of these things, the Christian religion put a stop to. But they’re all on their way back because of the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution is bringing back all of these points.” Indeed, the sexual revolution is “a pagan ideology” that Christians should refuse to compromise with – “the only reason we’re dealing with gay marriage now is because we never faced up to the harms that have already been inflicted by feminism” (conservatives were “tricked” into accepting contraception). Her comments on the Hobby Lobby ruling are no less idiotic.

At least she’s not worried about being on the wrong side of history.

There is a decent Jennifer Roback Morse resource here.

Diagnosis: Incoherent, stupid and evil monster. She fits right in – and has accordingly become a rather influential and prominent voice in – fundie wingnut circles.

 

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply