TBR News September 24, 2020

Feb 25 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 25, 2020:“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 it4
Commentary for February 25:”There are no secrets in Washington and if some puzzling episode erupts, eventually the truth, pale and mangled though it might be, pokes its head through the twisted jungle of lies and into the sunlight of truth. Here we have two headlines taken from the American media that gives the public a hint of why we are seeing acres of fright headlines about the Chinese Coronoa virus.
U.S. Senate seeking at least $3.1 bln to battle coronavirus’ Reuters
‘C.D.C. Tells Americans to Prepare for Coronavirus Outbreak’- New York Times
Yes indeed.
Let’s permit our government people to have the opportunity of more pocket-stuffing at the public’s expense.
There are too many blood-sucking vampires around and eventually, the public will become bloodless and die. What do the thieves do then? Take their bowling ball bags stuffed with large denomination bills and flee to Israel?
And if, as is coming, Hezbollah flattens that country, how about Switzerland?
Or they could go to Aruba and join the hunt for the remains of the Holloway girl.”

Trump Approval Rating
source                                 date            approve disapprove
American Research Group Feb. 24, 2020   37%     59%

The Table of Contents
Most coronavirus cases are mild, complicating the response
• Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms
• Trump lashes out at liberal supreme court justices and demands recusals
• Zionist Activist Groups working in the US
• The Season of Evil
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Most coronavirus cases are mild, complicating the response
February. 12, 2020
by Lenny Bernstein and Carolyn Y. Johnson
Washington Post
The coronavirus has killed more than 1,300 people, brought a huge swath of central China to a standstill and rattled millions around the globe with hints of a pandemic seen in Hollywood fantasies.
But the virus’s destructive potential has overshadowed one encouraging aspect of this outbreak: So far, about 82 percent of the cases — including all 14 in the United States — have been mild, with symptoms that require little or no medical intervention. And that proportion may be an undercount.
Health authorities managing the outbreak are trying to understand what that critical fact portends. Are the 60,000 sick people tallied so far just a portion of a vast reservoir of uncounted victims, some of whom may be spreading the disease? And do the mild illnesses reveal characteristics of the virus itself — something that could be useful in crafting a more effective response?
“The fact that there are so many mild cases is a real hallmark of this disease and makes it so different from SARS,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Health Security. “It’s also really challenging. Most of our surveillance is oriented around finding people who require medical intervention.”
In China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the number of new infections rose by 14,840 in a count released Thursday, with 242 new deaths, as health officials there broadened the criteria they are using to confirm cases.
World Health Organization expert Michael Ryan said in a news briefing this week that, outside of Hubei province, the virus’s behavior did not seem to be as aggressive or accelerated.
For those who study viruses, the large number of mild cases is reason for optimism. “This looks to be a bad, heightened cold — I think that’s a rational way of thinking about it,” said Matthew Frieman, a virologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Not to diminish its importance — it’s in the middle between SARS and the common cold.”
Though the virus was identified just six weeks ago, some of its characteristics are becoming clear. For the elderly and those with underlying heart disease, diabetes or other conditions, the disease can be quite severe. They are the ones dominating the ranks of the dead, often after pneumonia or other respiratory problems that lead to organ failure.
Others are not suffering nearly as much. Healthy, younger adults seem to do better, and there have been few fatalities among children, for reasons that have caused much speculation among experts.
“It could be that some people have an immune response that results in severe illness and some people don’t,” Nuzzo said. “It is common . . . in coronaviruses that there is a spectrum of illness.”
At a presentation on the disease hosted Tuesday by the Aspen Institute in Washington, Nancy Messonnier, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that only a few of the 14 U.S. patients required oxygen during convalescence.
“All the patients in the U.S. haven’t required tons of excessive care and actually, right now, they’re actually all improving,” said Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Based on the U.S. experience, and based on the experience of other countries outside China, a lot of these patients seem to be doing okay.”
But Messonnier and others are less confident about what that might signify. She noted that U.S. officials set a very low threshold for illness as they began their search for people with the disease among returnees from central China.
“If we hadn’t been looking so hard,” she suggested, “we might not have found them.”
Another possibility, said William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is that the U.S. patients were a self-selected sample of fairly healthy people — hardy enough, at least, to travel to Wuhan and back. Twelve of the U.S. patients were such travelers, while two others were spouses who came in contact with them after they returned.
Schaffner also noted that in China, where the vast majority of deaths and illnesses from the “covid-19” disease have occurred, air pollution and a higher smoking prevalence may contribute to the severity of the disease.
Many experts have said early phases of outbreaks like this one tend to have a large number of severe cases, as the sickest people flock to hospitals and come to doctors’ attention. And in Wuhan, where the health-care system is overwhelmed, people have complained they cannot find a hospital to test them for the virus, let alone to treat their symptoms. So patients with milder versions may be at home, uncounted, waiting out the epidemic.
In its latest “situation report,” released Wednesday, the World Health Organization listed 45,171 confirmed cases in 25 countries including China, with just 441 of the cases outside China. The WHO classified 8,204 of the Chinese cases as severe, meaning virtually all the rest are mild.
The WHO does not break down the cases outside China, but some countries do. Singapore, for example, has reported that 15 of its 50 patients have fully recovered and been discharged. Most of the others still hospitalized are “stable or improving,” while eight are in critical condition in intensive care.
Currently, the death rate of the disease is hovering around ­2.5 percent, a remarkably high level, about the rate of the 1918 flu pandemic that killed roughly ­50 million people around the world. Normal seasonal flu kills less than one-tenth of one percent of people who contract the virus.
But experts have said the coronavirus fatality rate is likely to decline substantially as they compile a more accurate count of the people who contract the virus and survive. At the Aspen Institute presentation, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he hoped the rate could decline toward 1 percent.
Either figure makes the virus much less deadly than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed more than ­9 percent of the people who contracted it in 2003, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which kills nearly 35 percent of its victims.
The mild nature of many illnesses, some experts said, may stem from the properties of the pathogen itself. For reasons scientists still don’t fully understand, one virus may be a nuisance and a very similar one can be deadly. While two different coronaviruses produced SARS and MERS, four others cause about 30 percent of all common colds.
The severity of the resulting illness is “inherent in the virus,” said Frieman, the University of Maryland virologist.
One coronavirus that causes cold symptoms, called NL63, uses the same doorway into cells and infects the same cells as SARS, he said.
“One gives you a runny nose and the other gives you lethal pneumonia,” Frieman said. “No one studies this.”
A major question to be answered is who is most at risk. While many are focused on the overall death rate from the virus, Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said it is important to focus on the fatality rate in vulnerable groups.
“SARS was 10 percent overall, but it was 50 percent among older people,” Hotez said. Figuring out who is most at risk is essential for creating the right public health strategy.
“If you really want to address this epidemic, it’s especially important we protect the vulnerable groups,” Hotez said.
Biggest questions about coronavirus, and what we know so far
Can the coronavirus be contained? Unknown complicate the response

Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms
February 24, 2020
by Jordain Carney
The Hill
Congress is gearing up for a high-profile fight over reauthorizing a handful of controversial surveillance programs months before the 2020 elections.
After punting late last year to give themselves more time to negotiate, lawmakers now have 15 working days to figure out whether and how to reauthorize expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act by the March 15 deadline.
The policy battle comes as tensions are already running high in Washington after a weeks-long fight emanating from the Justice Department — which will also be at the center of the surveillance discussion — and with the November elections injecting a higher dose of politics into any discussion involving Congress and President Trump Attorney General William Barr will meet with Senate Republicans during a closed-door policy lunch on Tuesday, his first face-to-face with most senators since the controversy over the department’s handling of the case involving Trump associate Roger Stone
But two sources confirmed to The Hill that the lunch was planned weeks before the current flare-up between the Justice Department and the White House. The topic, according to the two sources, is expected to be expiring surveillance provisions.
“Reauthorization of these certain programs is a priority for both Leader McConnell and AG Barr,” a source said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Among the expiring provisions that Congress needs to make decisions on is a controversial records program, known as Section 215, that gathered metadata on domestic text messages and phone calls.
They’ll also need to make decisions on two other provisions — one authorizing “roving” wiretaps and the other on lone wolf surveillance authority.
The biggest sticking point will be the metadata program that will put a spotlight on divisions between privacy hawks and leadership, the House and Senate, and even GOP lawmakers and the White Hous
Though the National Security Agency (NSA) shuttered the program and advised the White House to officially end it, then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats urged Congress to reauthorize it. Barr is expected to stick with that position when he speaks with senators.
Coats noted that the NSA had suspended the program and deleted call records, saying the decision was made after “balancing the program’s relative intelligence value, associated costs, and compliance and data integrity concerns.”
“However, as technology changes, our adversaries’ tradecraft and communications habits will continue to evolve and adapt,” he added. “In light of this dynamic environment, the Administration supports reauthorization of this provision.”
But Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner(D-Va.), respectively the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, quietly introduced legislation that would end the phone metadata program — going against the administration’s request.
In addition to terminating that program as soon as the bill is enacted, it would provide an eight-year reauthorization of the other two programs.
The bill was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has described himself as “torn” on whether to reauthorize Section 215.
A Democratic aide, asked if they had gotten guidance on if Judiciary or leadership would move the Burr-Warner bill in committee or on the floor by March 15, told The Hill: “Not really.”
The panel includes privacy hawks like Sen. Mike Lee(R-Utah). Lee and Leahy are working on reforms related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). A spokesman for Lee said that “ideally” their forthcoming ideas could be included as part of the debate over reauthorizing the USA Freedom provisions.
Surveillance debates have spotlighted fierce clashes among Senate Republicans in recent years.
When the Senate debated the USA Freedom Act, and the Patriot Act measures that pre-dated it, in 2015, Sen. Rand Paul(R-Ky.) used the chamber’s procedural levers to force a brief lapse of the surveillance programs.
He also successfully blocked multiple efforts by McConnell to clear a short-term extension of the Patriot Act, a tactic Paul quickly used to rack in fundraising cash for his 2016 presidential bid. McConnell has not yet taken a public position on the upcoming USA Freedom debate, something he’s likely to be quizzed on after Tuesday’s lunch.
As Republicans are set to meet with Barr, the House Judiciary Committee has put reauthorization of the USA Freedom provisions on its business meeting agenda for Wednesday.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) hasn’t yet unveiled what the committee will be voting on, and spokesmen didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. But a House Intelligence Committee aide noted that staff on the two panels are continuing to work on potential legislation.
The aide declined to say if the forthcoming legislation would end the metadata program, even as leadership is under pressure from progressives to take a hard line.
Twenty House progressives sent a letter to Nadler last year warning that they would oppose a reauthorization measure that does not completely repeal the call records program and also called for additional civil liberties protections to be built into the law.
“Any meaningful reform must repeal the [call detail records] program, which is an unnecessary violation of the rights of people in the United States and a threat to our democracy,” the lawmakers wrote.
Further complicating calculations for passing a bill in roughly two weeks, some Republicans are saying they want to use the reauthorization debate to work in changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.
The court, authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, is made up of 11 judges who serve seven-year terms and are selected by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The judges are responsible for signing off on or rejecting warrant applications submitted as part of intelligence gathering and national security operations.
The court jumped into the spotlight late last year when Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found a total of 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the applications to monitor Trump campaign aide Carter Page, taking particular issue with applications to renew the FISA warrant and chastising the FBI for a lack of satisfactory explanations for those mistakes.
Reps. Doug Collins(R-Ga.) and Devin Nunes(R-Calif.) — the top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, respectively — sent a letter to Nadler over the recess pitching the USA Freedom debate as a vehicle for making FISA changes.
“Any legislation devoid of necessary reforms to address the abuse of the intelligence community against a presidential campaign and even our sitting president, including lies and fraud engaged in by top-level FBI officials, misses that mark,” they wrote.
There have been bipartisan calls for FISA reforms after the Horowitz report, but inserting it into the middle of the surveillance debate could inject another political angle into what will already be a contentious debate.
But Collins and Nunes argued that FISA reforms should be a bipartisan “line in the sand” and urged Nadler to “not ignore historic abuses directed against the campaign of a president you don’t support.”

Trump lashes out at liberal supreme court justices and demands recusals
• President rages at Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
• Sotomayor criticized frequent appeals for justices to step in
February 25, 2020
by Amanda Holpuch in New York
The Guardian
Even as the US justice system faces a crisis of credibility because of the Trump administration’s handling of federal cases, Donald Trump has taken the unusual step of attacking two supreme court justices on Twitter and in remarks to the press.
In a dissent last week, justice Sonia Sotomayor criticized the Trump administration’s frequent appeals to the supreme court to intervene in lower-court decisions, and the court’s willingness to side with such requests.
On Twitter, responding to a segment on Fox News’s The Ingraham Angle, Trump unleashed a tirade against Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has criticized the president in the past.
“This is a terrible thing to say,” Trump tweeted. “Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!
“While ‘elections have consequences’” – a reference to his two supreme court appointments since winning the White House, both reliable conservatives – “I only ask for fairness, especially when it comes to decisions made by the United States supreme court!”
At a press conference in India on Tuesday, Trump repeated his complaint.
“I just don’t know how they can not recuse themselves from anything having to do with Trump or Trump-related,” he said. “The right thing to do is that.
“What Justice Sotomayor said … was really highly inappropriate and everybody agrees to that. Virtually everybody. I’ve seen papers on it, people cannot believe that she said it.”
He said: “She’s trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way.”
The attacks on two of the four women ever to serve on the supreme court, including its first Latina, landed as the lens tightens on the president’s interference in the courts system.
This month, attorney general William Barr publicly criticized Trump’s tweeting on justice department matters and reportedly said he was considering quitting after Trump failed to heed his warning to stop.
At the same time, more than 2,600 former US justice department officials called on Barr to step down for “doing the president’s personal bidding” in imposing a recommendation of a reduced sentence for Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the president.
It would be exceptional for any supreme court justice to recuse themselves from all cases involving the White House.
Sotomayor’s dissent was written in the style justices use after losing a divided ruling and did not mention Trump or accuse the courts of a pro-Trump bias. It depicted accurately how the Trump administration has asked the supreme court to intervene in cases playing out in lower courts at a higher rate than George W Bush and Barack Obama combined.
“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” Sotomayor wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”
Sotomayor was critical of the court allowing this to happen, and wrote that such interventions usually fall in the Trump administration’s favor.
The president’s call for Ginsburg to recuse appeared to stem from her criticism of him during the 2016 election. In July that year, Ginsburg said she could not “imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president” and called him a “faker”.
Ginsburg has said she regrets the comments, as “judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office”.
“In the future I will be more circumspect,” she said.
In November 2018, Trump’s relentless focus on the courts prompted supreme court chief justice John Roberts to intervene. After Trump said a federal judge was biased because of the president who appointed him, Roberts denied the assertion.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” said the conservative appointed by George W Bush in 2005. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
Trump ignored the rebuke.

Zionist Activist Groups working in the US
Amcha is supported with funds from the Claims Conference.
AMCHA-CJC, The Coalition for Jewish Concerns
AMCHA – The Coalition for Jewish Concerns is an independent grassroots organization dedicated to raising a voice of conscience on behalf of endangered Jews around the world. This global effort includes countering anti-Semitism, advocating for Israel , preserving Holocaust memory, and other pro-Jewish activism.

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American Enterprise Institute (AEI)


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American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
http://www.ajcongress.org/site/PageServ … name=about
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
American Sephardi Federation
American Zionist Movement
Americans for Peace Now
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO)
Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)


Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA)
B’nai B’rith International
Bnai Zion Foundation
Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada


CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)


Center for Security Policy
Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel (CSPS)
Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
Chabad on Campus Foundation
Claims Conference (Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany)
Committee on the Present Danger (CPD)
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Emunah of America
Friends of Israel Defense Forces
Ethics and Public Policy Center


Generations of the Shoah International (GSI)
Habonim Dror
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America
Hashomer Hatzair
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Holocaust/Genocide Project
Holocaust Teacher Resource Center
Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR)
Institute for Research: Middle Easter Policy
International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews
International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)
International Relations and Security Network
Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs (JCPA)


Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies
Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)
Jewish Community Centers Association


Jewish Council for Public Affairs

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Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish National Fund
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Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS)
Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV)


Jewish Women International (JWI)
Jews in the Woods (JITW or JitW) also referred to as Fruity Jews or Fruity Jews in the Woods


Magshimey Herut
Manhattan Institute
MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement


Middle East Forum
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
Moishe House Boston: Kavod Jewish Social Justice House
Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies


National Center for Jewish Film
National Council of Jewish Women


National Council of Young Israel
NCSJ, Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
North American Federation of Temple Youth
One Jerusalem
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Set America Free A new coalition of neo-con, Jewish, and green groups to reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports
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State of Israel Bonds/Development Corporation for Israel
Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research
Tehilla: The Union for Religious Aliyah
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union or OU)


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The UJC was formed from the 1999 merger of United Jewish Appeal (UJA), Council of Jewish Federations (CJF), and United Israel Appeal (UIA).
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USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education
Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)
Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO)
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ)
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
Workmen’s Circle (Arbeter Ring)


World Council of Jewish Communal Service (WCJCS)
World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust (WFJCSH)
World ORT
World Union of Jewish Students


World Zionist Executive, US
World Zionist Organization
http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgenc … Sites/WZO/
Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
Yavneh Olami
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)


The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccuratre.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 97

Alex sat in a deep armchair in his rooms, feet up on a small table, listening intently to a rendition of Bach’s Piano Concerto in D minor by Paul Jegorov, a well-marked score in one hand and a glass of iced tea in the other.
In the morning, after he had gotten Chuck to show him the contents of the boat shed, he planned to begin work on the piece but this time, he would use one of the pianos he had seen in the music room on the first floor and not the electronic keyboard that had begun to show signs of wear.
He frowned at some passages, disagreeing with the artist’s interpretations but smiling at others. One bare foot nodded in time to the music and he would occasionally set down the emptying glass of tea to mark the score.
Alex had many masks to wear in public, changing them to suit the occasion, but now, in private, he had no one to hide from and his face was a study in absorption.
He was a superb pianist and he was well aware of it but this was a certain knowledge that he kept entirely to himself, a knowledge to be privately savored. He began by tentatively liking classical music, finally deciding that Bach was the favorite of his private world. He had a few recordings of Beethoven, Mozart and Handel but Bach was his idol and he worshipped with terrible intensity.
He told a bored Claude once that he was looking for what he called the Great Music Machine and had progressed from recordings through an electronic imitation of a piano to the instrument itself. At each level was satisfaction but there was always the feeling that something much better and more satisfying lay just ahead. To play with an orchestra was now his goal and Alex always worked towards his goals with the fierce determination that Chuck had noted when the bear’s skull was rendered.
Playing in the music room would attract attention and Alex was a thoroughly private person, but he would have to put up with the curiosity of others if he were to ever to perform in public.
Before he went to bed, Alex decided to make up the dough for the croissants he planned on having for breakfast so, still in his shorts, barefoot and without his baggy sweater, he wandered around the south wing of the house until he found the enormous kitchen.
There were cavernous gas ranges, racks and racks of various size copper pans, iron pans and colanders, all suspended above long worktables. Along one wall were a number of huge walk-in freezers and along another, shelf after shelf of various metal molds, dicers, ladles and a massive block filled with dozens of cleavers, knives, forks and other culinary tools.
Finding the ingredients took nearly forty minutes but in the end, he had located the yeast, flour and butter and the next thirty minutes were spent in making the dough, rolling it out into squares and dotting it with butter pieces.
All of this was allowed to set at room temperature until he was ready for the next step.
The squares were rolled into sheets and cut into triangles, which he put on a baking sheet, which he then covered with aluminum foil and put into a refrigerator for the morning.
Alex found an excellent marmalade, French strawberry preserves and a tub of sweet butter, all of which he put onto the same shelf as the cooling croissant dough. When he was nearly finished, someone opened a door at the far end of the room.
“May I ask what is happening in here?”
It was the chef, looking for a bottle of Barbados rum he had secreted in the potato bin.
“Oh, I apologize, sir! I did not recognize you. You are Mr. Rush’s son, are you not? We met this afternoon.”
Alex shook hands in his politician’s manner, smiling widely.
“I do remember. I hope I’m not disturbing your kitchen but I was making croissants for breakfast. And I put some preserves into the refrigerator for morning. When I’ve made up my tray, I’ll put everything back where I found it.”
“But I have no problem with this. What type of croissants are you planning to make? Parisian or Viennese?”
“Parisian, of course.”
And they spent the next thirty minutes discussing various forms of croissants.
The chef was most friendly and decided that the son very possibly might have the makings of decent cook. Of course the proof of the pudding was in the eating and it was decided to have two opinions in the morning. Alex went to bed, very tired, and the chief found the rum and also went to bed.
There were fresh, hot croissants, marmalade and strawberry preserves, fresh coffee and a pot of tea for breakfast in Chuck’s bedroom followed by an inspection of a large boathouse located in a deep cove at the base of the granite cliffs.
Chuck was determined not to miss the arrival of the new clothes and Alex was equally determined to examine the contents of the boathouse.
This was reached by going through a metal gate and down a flight of metal steps to the water below. There was a small beach at the foot of the steps and the boathouse was nestled against the north cliff wall of the cove. A stone breakwater, sharply angled, extended well out into the lake a few yards to the east of the stone shed that housed a 47 foot gaff-rigged cutter , two smaller boats up on racks, an extra mast, a suit of sails in nylon bags, cordage, an anchor, two outboard motors and a deflated Zodiac boat.
The building had not been used for some time but someone on the staff had been keeping it cleaned and there was a fresh cigarette end on the edge of the stone slip.
Alex looked at the boat curiously.
“Chuck, is this a sail boat? Where are the sails?”
“The boat has to be pulled out of the shed and the mast stepped. That means the mast has to be put into the boat. There’s a winch just outside for doing that. And then the standing rigging has to be installed and so on.”
“Can we take it out on the lake? How long would it take to put the mast in?”
“You and I could do it in about three or four hours. And I’d have to check the auxiliary engine to make sure it works. I hope it’s Diesel because I hate gas engines.”
“Is this new or was it here when you lived here?”
“It looks to be about five years old or so. No, we had another boat, not nearly as new as this one and the boathouse was being built when I left. That’s when they put in the breakwater. There was a really bad storm one year and the last boat was smashed up on the beach. Well, you’ve seen the boat, Alex and now shall we go back up and wait for the clothes?”
“When can we get the boat fixed up, Chuck?”
“I tell you what, kid. When the funeral and the reception are over, then you and I can get onto this project. Do you want me to get Claude to help us? I think a crew of three would be just about fine, don’t you?”
“What about Gwen?”
“Women are fine things, Alex, but so are boats and I don’t like to mix them together. Gwen can go shopping in Chicago and if there is one thing women love to do, it is to spend someone else’s money on clothes. The three of us should do very well.”
Alex was in complete agreement with this sentiment and on the way back up the steps, kept stopping on the landings to look down at the boathouse.
The clothes arrived at nine thirty and the final fittings were finished at eleven thirty. The funeral was to begin at one and the intervening time was spent in dressing and snatching fragments of lunch from the sideboard in the private dining room.
At twelve thirty, the car was at the front door. Alex looked at it from the upper steps.
“Chuck, that’s not the same car as yesterday.”
“You are observant today. There are five of them down in the garage, not to mention a dozen other vehicles.”
The footman was holding the door to the rear compartment open as they descended the stone steps.
Claude had no interest in funerals but decided to go just in case he might get a possible lead on an art collection. He considered himself as semi-retired but one never knew what one could find by being available


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

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Ileana Paugh

Ileana Johnson Paugh is an author, blogger and columnist, who has for instance written for the WND, which is sufficient to establish with some confidence that she is a serious loon. Paugh delivers. In 2013, for instance, Paugh criticized Pope Francis’s commitment to social justice teachings (really a core component of the Roman Catholic Church doctrine, to the discomfort of numerous wingnuts) and tied them to the KGB, no less. So, in her column “Communism and the Pope,” Paugh “traces Francis’ thinking to KGB-influence in S. America”, claiming that social justice is foreign to the teachings of Jesus Christ but instead a “Soviet communist-led idea” that have helped the KGB “infiltrate” the Catholic Church. It’s worth noting that she relies to a large extent on the writings of Ion Pacepa (Paugh, like Pacepa, apparently grew up under communism in Romania).
Perhaps Paugh’s main schtick, however, is Agenda 21 conspiracy theories. She has even written a book, U.N. Agenda 21: Environmental Piracy, where she describes Agenda 21 as a nefarious conspiracy that “has been in the works for decades, spearheaded by environmentalists, foreign individuals, third world countries, and non-profit organizations around the world. In the name of protecting the environment, socialist global governance has been quietly implemented at all levels of government” to mandate “population re-distribution in the name of biodiversity”, brainwashing our kids and “rezone us, resettle us, reduce our numbers, and tax us into the sustainable community described in the Wildlands Project Map.” In short, it is an agenda to control and oppress us all: “Our sovereignty is at stake. We must stop U.N. Agenda 21 before it is too late. Every chapter of it violates our Constitution.” Yes, environmentalism is a depopulation conspiracy.
Of course, Paugh is a hardcore global warming denialist (when you’ve already decided that the UN is an evil conspiracy to oppress us all, you better make the data fit), claiming that the global warming idea “lacks academic rigor” and “intellectual honesty” (Paugh seems to have no scientific background and doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish scientific rigor from stream of consciousness ranting if her life depended on it); instead, it is apparently a conspiracy among scientists to take our money and give control of the world to George Soros (or perhaps, it seems, Maurice Strong).
Her other books are Echoes of Communism and Liberty on Life Support.
Diagnosis: Crazy as they come. That this is standard wingnut fare does not exactly make it any better.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Yes, a celebrity loon, but this one’s different. Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is, in addition to being an Oscar-winning actress, the, uh, brains behind the website Goop.com, which is notable for making even hardened tinfoil hatters hesitate over its promotion of sheer nonsense and delusional pseudoscience. If you can think of a health scam too stupid for regular people to fall for, we’ll promise you that Goop’s got something sillier, and that people do, indeed, fall for it. “Nourish the Inner Aspect” is their slogan, which is just as meaningless as most of the information offered in support of their health claims (the rest is just lying). Paltrow, however, seems to believe that she is offering advice that is actually helpful, though nothing she promotes is even remotely supported by anything resembling reality. Paltrow has no education or background in reality or truth whatsoever.
An incomplete list of health wellness woo offered or promoted by Paltrow and/or Goop
· Vaginal steaming; perhaps their most famous item. Unless it’s:
· Putting a jade or rose quartz egg up the vagina, which may lead to infections and potentially fatal toxic shock.
· Colonics, including a $135 coffee enema called “The Implant O’Rama”. It’s hard to resist the “if you fall for this one, you deserve it” sentiment.
· Psychological astrology.
· Urinating in the shower for health reasons. The rationale offered offers nothing by way of rationale.
· Apitherapy. Oh yes, she does. She really shouldn’t have, but she does.
· Yawning correctly, for health reasons. Again, the explanation is thin on substance and coherence.
· Earthing. “I don’t really know that much about Earthing,” Paltrow admitted in an interview: “There’s this type of electromagnetic thing that we’re missing and it’s good to take your shoes off and walk in the grass … I don’t know what the f—k we talk about.”
· Activated charcoal; the Goop brand has been instrumental in promoting the now-popular and idiotic idea that activated charcoal is a potent detoxifier for everyday use.
· Annee de Mamiel, skin-cream maker and insane woo-promoter, notable primarily for her extraordinary prices.
· After riding airplanes, you need to seek out nice warm, dank sauna and “sweat out” the germs. This is not how it works.
· The strikingly thoroughly debunked bra–breast cancer link (still promoted by morons everywhere).
· Quantum woo for every and any taste, including Masaru Emoto and Habib Sadeghi.
· Water memory; water is sentient, and uses its cognitive abilities to make homeopathy work. Apparently yelling at water hurts its feelings – no really, Paltrow really thinks that. Of course, homeopathy does not work; looking for the mechanism would hence be tooth fairy science, to the extent that it even qualifies as pseudoscience.
· Ayurvedic medicine, since it’s really old and efficaciousness is a function of age, like wine and witch burnings.
· Faith healing.
· Crystal woo, including crystal healing.
· All manners of fashionably nonsensical detox regimes.
· Sound healing.
· Homeopathy, including homeopathic parasite treatments: “You Probably Have a Parasite. Here’s What to do About It,” says the Goop website, referring to a claim by Linda Lancaster, a strikingly deranged and dangerous lunatic “Santa Fe-based naturopathic physician and homeopath.” You don’t have a disease caused by parasites. Lancaster recommends “safe, raw goat’s milk” for children as a preventative measure, which is definitely not a good idea.
· Aromatherapy.
· Acupuncture.
· Essential oils.
· Psychic vampire repellents (“not evaluated by the FDA”), which contain “sonically tuned water, moonlight, love, reiki, and gem elixirs which is totally not left over water from a rock polisher.” They are marketed as “female empowerment”.
· The Body Vibes stickers:, wearable stickers that promote “wellness” for the meager sum of $60–$120; ostensibly the stickers “rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies” (indeed, they “come pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances”, whatever that is supposed to mean (nothing, of course)) and were falsely claimed to be made of a NASA-developed material. As Gizmodo put it, the marketing material sounds like “what you’d expect if you threw Enya lyrics in a blender.”
· A “morning smoothie” containing Cordyceps, the parasitic fungus which turns insects into zombies by infecting their brains.
· “spirit truffles” that contain “spirit dust” that apparently “feeds harmony and extrasensory perception through pineal gland de-calcification and activation”. No, seriously.
The Body Vibes, by the way, are claimed to help with various ailments, including anxiety and pain, by using something called “Bio Energy Synthesis Technology,” a trademark of AlphaBioCentrix, a Nevada-based biotech company that sells “Quantum Energy Bracelets” and “Health Pendants.” Its founder, Richard Eaton, helped create Body Vibes after ostensibly meeting some “engineers” in a dark alleyway some years ago that revealed their secrets to him. “Without going into a long explanation about the research and development of this technology,” says Eaton (no shit he doesn’t) “I found a way to tap into the human body’s bio-frequency, which the body is receptive to outside energy signatures.” Unfortunately, “most of the research that has been collected is confidential and is held as company private information.” Yes, right. It is, however, important to remember that Paltrow’s idiocy isn’t only harmlessly funny. More on those vibes, including the completely ridiculously false claim that they are somehow connected to NASA technology, here and here.
Concerning the jade eggs , these are apparently made by one Shiva Rose. According to Rose, “The word for our womb, yoni, translates as “sacred place”, and it is a sacred place – it’s where many women access their intuition, their power, and their wisdom. It’s this inner sanctum that we can access when it’s not in use creating life. Sadly most people use it as a psychic trash bin, storing old or negative energy.” Yes, apparently whereas men think with their brains, and use reason, women gets their psychological proclivities from the womb. The distinction between woo marketed as “female empowerment” and misogynism too extreme even for MRA groups, is apparently blurry one. Paltrow is selling the eggs for $66. You should really rather take free advice from real doctors, who will point out that using them is definitely not good for you. The “energy glow” that Goop anecdotally observes in people using the product is probably not energy glow. Apparently you are supposed to recharge the eggs with “energy from the moon”. Apparently she is not joking. Meanwhile, critics of jade eggs apparently hate women’s sexuality.
When confronted with the fact that their products lack scientific and evidential (and for the most part coherent) support, Goop and Paltrow point out that science doesn’t know everything. This apparently means that their products dowork since you can know that water has feelings because scientists don’t know how to cure cancer. Goop is thus proud to emphasize that their supplier Anthony “gets his information from ‘Spirit’ – not from medical textbooks or studies.” Moreover, scientists are indoctrinated against alternative medicine and other ways of knowing (like the water-memory-is-real-because-solving-cancer-is-difficult-way of knowing and other types of PIDOOMA); as Paltrow puts it, in an effort to take the side of us ordinary people against the elites: “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?’”). It is, admittedly, correct that their trainingtends to make scientists unable to know what Paltrow believes she knows because she wants it to be true. (Under the assumption that she actually believes the bullshit she peddles, which is not always clear).
On other occasions Paltrow has challenged her critics that “if you want to f**k with me, bring your A-game”. Apparently real doctors correcting her misinformation to save her victims’ health and lives are “f**k”-ing with her. Remember that her own A-team consist of luminaries like Eaton, Shiva Rose and Linda Lancaster; a couple more, featured at the Goop health summit, are discussed here). “When they go low, we go high,” Paltrow commented on her response to skeptics. They definitely did not go high. Here is a discussion of a good example of Goop’s response to critics – note the attack on the persons as well as the striking and complete lack of attempt to offer support for their own products and recommendations – and there is an excellent analysis of their defense strategy here; given the ideology and critical thinking abilities of Goop supporters, the strategy probably worked very well. There is also a fine and very telling summary of her LA Goop summit, where many members of her A-team gave presentations, here. The overall message is instructive (hat-tip: respectful insolence):
1. Nature is always good and healing, never harmful or dangerous.
2. Death is neither real nor permanent.
3. Intuition trumps any other source of evidence.
4. Love can heal anything, even death.
5. Everything happens for a purpose.
“But that’s religion – it’s just like a religious cult,” some may say. And indeed: it is. This is religion– hardcore, religious fundamentalism whose message is all about community building and shielding oneself to criticism from the outside (and it will never come from the inside) – fluffy-solid, fundamentalist, religious extremism.
It is also worth pointing out that Goop, at an earlier stage, wanted to produce a magazine with Condé Nast, but that negotiations fell through because Condé Nast wanted fact-checking of the contents.
But let’s have a brief look at some members of Paltrow’s A-team:
– Eben Alexander, who allegedly died but came back to share information about the afterlife.
– Tracey Anderson, Paltrow’s personal trainer, and one of the most cynical bullshitters in the whole Hollywood circus.
– Taz Bjatia, a former pediatrician who is now a “board certified” integrative practitioner and onetime guest on Dr. Oz’s show, which is not an endorsement to be proud of.
– Kelly Brogan, HIV denialist and anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist who questions the germ theory of disease. One of the dangerous loons you may encounter.
– Richard Eaton, described above, a conspiracy theorist who has “found a way to tap into the human body’s bio-frequency” but won’t tell us how (trade secret).
– Julius Few, who offers natural face-lifts starting “at $3,500 and lasts two to three years.” (Blindness is apparently a potential side effect, but Few tends not to focus on that.)
– Jason Fung (by accident).
– Sara Gottfried, an OB/GYN who uses those who seek her advice to push expensive supplements, a “detox” plan and “hormone balancing.”
– Stephen Gundry, described here, one of the most spineless pushers of useless supplement frauds we have ever encountered.
– Laura Lynn Jackson, a “research medium”.
– Alejandro Junger, a dr. Oz acolyte, detox advocate and anti-gluten activist who scams his victims by pushing a battery of tests that show that they suffer from precisely the conditions for which he conveniently sells expensive treatments.
– Linda Lancaster, described above: deranged homeopath who claims that parasites are the main cause of our ailments but that it can be cured by raw milk, a claim roughly as far out there as claiming that it is caused by time-travelling aliens and can be cured by cutting down shrubbery with a herring.
– Anita Moorjani, who, according to herself, once died of cancer but remained conscious and decided to heal herself. No, seriously. (Turns out she was really in ICU and was, in fact, treated with chemotherapy, but since she doesn’t believe in chemotherapty that doesn’t count.)
– Aviva Romm, a vaccine skeptic who has later tried to distance herself a bit from Goop.
– Shiva Rose, described above, who produces the infamous jade eggs.
– Habib Sadeghi, who will teach you about “integrative photosynthesis,” “spiritual Wi-Fi,” “neuro-vegetative signs” and “the ontological experience called your life,” and who thinks that scientists don’t know how birds fly. “I am probably one of the most authentic human beings you will ever meet,” says Sadeghi.
– Sherry Sami, who tells us that children teach their mothers how to be “a great digestive enzyme” to help said children “metabolize their experiences” while leading the mother towards her “divinity.”
– Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, who can tell us that we are all pawns of something called The Field, “the invisible force that makes things happen that you can’t do on your own” but which is opposed by “a devil living inside you, a demon” who “wants to f**k you up any way he can.” (It’s pretty much The Secret).
Much of Goop’s marketing strategy is based on chemophobia and the toxin scare (e.g. “spray sunscreens are bad news bears, as you’re sending nano-particles of toxins into the air which can then be inhaled”), and Paltrow has accordingly presented her fans with non-effective detox after detox after detox regimes supposed to expunge unnamed toxins from your body. She is rather selective, however, and also has a whole section on her website devoted to the joys of alcohol, which is definitely both a carcinogen and a toxin. There is a good portrait of Paltrow and her toxins scare here.
Paltrow is also an important advertiser for anti-GMO activism. She has also toyed with HIV denialism and anti-vaccine views.
Finally, let us introduce the AI at Botnik studios trying to write its own Goop-style website. The results are both hilariously ridiculous and scarily convincing.
Diagnosis: Genuinely stupid. But if you are a celebrity, with plenty of cash, time and self-confidence, you can build an empire on stupid, and a horde of frauds and deranged lunatics will emerge from the woodwork to help you out (and benefit from it). Gwyneth Paltrow is, in other words, everything that is wrong with the world.

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