TBR News September 8, 2012

Sep 07 2012

The Voice of the White House


An excerpt from a Rand Corporation (read CIA) analysis. August, 2012‏

Courtesy of George Petersen

            “California’s higher standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, but much of this was due to a massive influx of illegal Mexican immigrants, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000. …….”

            “California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients.

The entire southern part of the state is populated by illegals immigrants and as a result, the crime and disease rates (HIV and AIDS) have soared. This has resulted in massive flight of the white middle class and an even greater flight of small, medium and large businesses. As the tax base shrinks, the welfare rolls triple but without tax monies to support them, payments shrink and leave a wake of growing and serious civil discontent among the illegals….”

Arctic ice melting at ‘amazing’ speed, scientists find


September 7, 2012

by David Shukman

BBC News


Scientists in the Arctic are warning that this summer’s record-breaking melt is part of an accelerating trend with profound implications.

Norwegian researchers report that the sea ice is becoming significantly thinner and more vulnerable.

Last month, the annual thaw of the region’s floating ice reached the lowest level since satellite monitoring began, more than 30 years ago.

It is thought the scale of the decline may even affect Europe’s weather.

The melt is set to continue for at least another week – the peak is usually reached in mid-September – while temperatures here remain above freezing.


The Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) is at the forefront of Arctic research and its international director, Kim Holmen, told the BBC that the speed of the melting was faster than expected.

“It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago,” Dr Holmen said.

“And it has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us.”

The institute has been deploying its icebreaker, Lance, to research conditions between Svalbard and Greenland – the main route through which ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean.

During a visit to the port, one of the scientists involved, Dr Edmond Hansen, told me he was “amazed” at the size and speed of this year’s melt.

“As a scientist, I know that this is unprecedented in at least as much as 1,500 years. It is truly amazing – it is a huge dramatic change in the system,” Dr Hansen said.

“This is not some short-lived phenomenon – this is an ongoing trend. You lose more and more ice and it is accelerating – you can just look at the graphs, the observations, and you can see what’s happening.”


Thinner ice


I interviewed Dr Hansen while the Lance was docked at Norway’s Arctic research station at Ny-Alesund on Svalbard.

Key data on the ice comes from satellites but also from measurements made by a range of different techniques – a mix of old and new technology harnessed to help answer the key environmental questions of our age.

The Norwegians send teams out on to the floating ice to drill holes into it and extract cores to determine the ice’s origin.

And since the early 90s they have installed specialist buoys, tethered to the seabed, which use sonar to provide a near-constant stream of data about the ice above.

An electro-magnetic device known as an EM-Bird has also been flown, suspended beneath a helicopter, in long sweeps over the ice.

The torpedo-shaped instrument gathers data about the difference between the level of the seawater beneath the ice and the surface of the ice itself.

By flying transects over the ice, a picture of its thickness emerges. The latest data is still being processed but one of the institute’s sea ice specialists, Dr Sebastian Gerland, said that though conditions vary year by year a pattern is clear.

“In the region where we work we can see a general trend to thinner ice – in the Fram Strait and at some coastal stations.”

Where the ice vanishes entirely, the surface loses its usual highly reflective whiteness – which sends most solar radiation back into space – and is replaced by darker waters instead which absorb more heat.

According to Dr Gerland, additional warming can take place even if ice remains in a far thinner state.

“It means there is more light penetrating through the ice – that depends to a high degree on the snow cover but once it has melted the light can get through,” Dr Gerland said.

“If the ice is thinner there is more light penetrating and that light can heat the water.”

The most cautious forecasts say that the Arctic might become ice-free in the summer by the 2080s or 2090s. But recently many estimates for that scenario have been brought forward.

Early research investigating the implications suggests that a massive reduction in sea ice is likely to have an impact on the path of the jet stream, the high-altitude wind that guides weather systems, including storms.

The course and speed of the jet stream is governed by the difference in temperature between the Tropics and the Arctic, so a change on the scale being observed now could be felt across Europe and beyond.

Kim Holmen of the NPI explained how the connection might work.

“When the Arctic is ice free, it is not white any more and it will absorb more sunlight and that change will influence wind systems and where the precipitation comes.

“For northern Europe it could mean much more precipitation, while southern Europe will become drier so there are large scale shifts across the entire continent.”

That assessment is mirrored by work at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, based in the British town of Reading.

The centre’s director-general, Alan Thorpe, said the link between the Arctic melt and European weather was complicated but it is now the subject of research.

“Where Arctic sea ice is reducing in summer – and if we have warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the north-west Atlantic – these twin factors together lead to storms being steered over the UK in summer which is not the normal situation and leads to our poorer summers.”

But the research is in its earliest stages. For science, the Arctic itself is hard to decipher. The effects of its rapid melt are even tougher.


Greenland’s ice sheet is melting fast – I’m not surprised

The ice sheet has been living on borrowed time for many years, with dire consequences


July 26, 2012

by Edward Hanna



I wasn’t hugely surprised to see the news from Nasa about unprecedented melting of most of the Greenland ice sheet surface. Much of Greenland has been experiencing record warmth since May, and on the 29th of that month the weather station in the extreme south reached a positively balmy 24.8C, which set a new record May temperature for the country; this is significant because records from several weather stations extend back to the late 19th century.

The unusually warm conditions prevailed for much of June and into July, with the Danish Meteorological Institute website showing Greenland temperature anomalies about 2-4C higher than the 1961-90 baseline average during these last three months. Kangerlussuaq, the “gateway to Greenland” in the southwest, reached 24.6C on 10 July, just as the record melt reported by Nasa was under way.

This comes against a background of Greenland already having warmed 2.3C on average in summer over the past 20 years; this might not sound a great deal but is more than three times greater than the northern hemisphere average temperature increase of 0.5C in the same period.

For every 1C rise in temperature, the resulting effect is to increase the amount of melt by around a third, so we might expect double the climatological “normal” amount of meltwater being produced by the ice sheet during June and July this year.

The Nasa satellite picture of melt covering most of the ice sheet surface on 12 July (corroborated by several independent satellite methods and research groups) is dramatic, and several key Greenland scientists have confirmed it is unprecedented in the satellite record going back to the late 1970s. However, Nasa also cites evidence from ice cores at the summit of the ice sheet that suggest similar wholesale melting events occur once every 150 years on average, and the last one was in 1889. If this is this case, the recent melt may be due to natural climate variability, so do we have anything to worry about?

I consider we have good reason for concern. My own work, in collaboration with various international groups including the Danish Meteorological Institute and Free University of Brussels, involves analysing Greenland temperature records and running computer models of meltwater losses and mass balance of the ice sheet.

The last six summers since have seen successive record warmth and surface melt and runoff of that meltwater signalling increased mass loss from the ice sheet. This tallies with satellite observations from several independent methods showing a significant and accelerating mass loss of 250bn tonnes per year from the ice sheet averaged over the past five years or so. Although we cannot yet reliably predict how the ice sheet will respond to ongoing global warming the general prognosis is not good: more warmth clearly means more melting.

Moreover, recent changes in the northern hemisphere polar jet stream in summer – which may well be related to human-enhanced global warming – have led to more warm air being drawn up over the flank of the ice sheet, contributing to the enhanced regional warming and extra icemelt.

Even without sustained global warming, the Greenland ice sheet is living on borrowed time. If all the ice sheet melts, sea levels will rise by more than seven meters. Although it will take several thousand years for the ice to melt in its entirety according to current estimates, it is quite possible that the ice sheet could add up to several tens of centimetres to the global sea level by 2100. This would make many coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and storm surges.


 Breakthrough study overturns theory of ‘junk DNA’ in genome

The international Encode project has found that about a fifth of the human genome regulates the 2% that makes proteins


September 5, 2012-

by Alok Jha, science correspondent



Long stretches of DNA previously dismissed as “junk” are in fact crucial to the way our genome works, an international team of researchers said on Wednesday.

It is the most significant shift in scientists’ understanding of the way our DNA operates since the sequencing of the human genome in 2000, when it was discovered that our bodies are built and controlled by far fewer genes than expected. Now the next generation of geneticists have updated that picture.

The results of the international Encode project will have a huge impact for geneticists trying to work out how genes operate. The findings will also provide new leads for scientists looking for treatments for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and Crohn’s disease that have their roots partly in glitches in the DNA. Until now, the focus had largely been on looking for errors within genes themselves, but the Encode research will help guide the hunt for problem areas that lie elsewhere in our DNA sequence.

Dr Ewan Birney, of the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, one of the principal investigators in the Encode project, said: “In 2000, we published the draft human genome and, in 2003, we published the finished human genome and we always knew that was going to be a starting point. We always knew that protein-coding genes were not the whole story.”

For years, the vast stretches of DNA between our 20,000 or so protein-coding genes – more than 98% of the genetic sequence inside each of our cells – was written off as “junk” DNA. Already falling out of favour in recent years, this concept will now, with Encode’s work, be consigned to the history books.

Encode is the largest single update to the data from the human genome since its final draft was published in 2003 and the first systematic attempt to work out what the DNA outside protein-coding genes does. The researchers found that it is far from useless: within these regions they have identified more than 10,000 new “genes” that code for components that control how the more familiar protein-coding genes work. Up to 18% of our DNA sequence is involved in regulating the less than 2% of the DNA that codes for proteins. In total, Encode scientists say, about 80% of the DNA sequence can be assigned some sort of biochemical function.

Scientists know that while most cells in our body contain our entire genetic code, not all of the protein-coding genes are active. A liver cell contains enzymes used to metabolise alcohol and other toxins, whereas hair cells make the protein keratin. Through some mechanism that regulates its genes, the hair cell knows it should make keratin rather than liver enzymes, and the liver cell knows it should make the liver enzymes and not the hair proteins.

“That control must have been somewhere in the genome, and we always knew that – for some individual genes – it was an element sometimes quite far away from the gene,” said Birney. “But we didn’t have a genome-wide view to this. So we set about working out how we could discover those elements.”

The results of the five-year Encode project are published on Wednesday across 30 papers in the journals Nature, Science, Genome Biology and Genome Research. The researchers have mapped 4m switches in what was once thought to be junk DNA, many of which will help them better understand a range of common human diseases, from diabetes to heart disease, that depend on the complex interaction of hundreds of genes and their associated regulatory elements.

“Regulatory elements are the things that turn genes on and off,” says Professor Mike Snyder of Stanford University, who was a principal investigator in the Encode consortium. “Much of the difference between people is due to the differences in the efficiency of these regulatory elements. There are more variants, we think, in the regulatory elements than in the genes themselves.”

Genes cannot function without these regulatory elements. If regulation goes wrong, malfunctioning genes can cause diseases including cancer, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. Errors in the regulation of a gene known as Sonic Hedgehog, for example, are thought to underlie some cases of human polydactyly in which individuals have extra toes or fingers.

Prof Anne Ferguson-Smith, of Cambridge University, said: “They also have important implications for the growth and development of embryos and foetuses during pregnancy. These are the kinds of elements that make your tissues and organs grow properly, at the right time and place, and containing the right kinds of cells.”

Encode scientists found that 9% of human DNA is involved in the coding for the regulatory switches, although Birney thinks the true figure may turn out to be about 20%. “One of the big surprises is that we see way more [regulatory] elements than I was expecting,” he said.

The project has identified about 10,000 stretches of DNA, which the Encode scientists have called non-coding genes, that do not make proteins but, instead, a type of RNA – the single-stranded equivalent of DNA. There are many types of RNA molecule in cells, each with a specific role such as carrying messages or transcribing the DNA code in the first step of making a protein. However, the 10,000 non-coding genes carry instructions to build the large and small RNA molecules required to regulate the actions of the 20,000 protein-coding genes.

The results have already shed light on previous, massive studies of genetic data. In recent years, scientists have compared the genetic code of thousands of people with a specific disease (such as diabetes, bipolar disorder, Crohn’s disease or heart disease) with the DNA code of thousands of healthy people, in an attempt to locate mutations that could account for some of the risk of developing that disease. These so-called genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified scores of locations in the DNA that seem to raise a person’s risk of developing a disease – but the vast majority are nowhere near protein-coding genes. That makes sense if regions previously thought of as “junk” are actually vital for controlling the expression of protein-encoding genes.

Indeed, there is a big overlap between the locations identified by GWAS and the regulation switches identified in Encode. “When I first saw that result I thought it was too good to be true. We’ve done the analysis five different ways now and it still holds up,” says Birney.

Understanding some of these regulatory elements could help explain some of the environmental triggers for different diseases.

Crohn’s disease, for example, is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system and affects up to 60,000 people in the UK, but scientists cannot fully explain why some people suffer from it and others do not, even when they all have the genetic mutations associated with an elevated risk. One hypothesis is that the disease could be triggered by a bacterial infection. “Maybe there’s a place in the middle of nowhere [in the DNA], not close to a protein-coding gene, that if you have one variant you’re more sensitive to this bacterium, if you have another variant you’re less sensitive,” says Birney. “So you get Crohn’s disease probably because you have the more sensitive type and that particular bacterial infection occurred at a time when you were vulnerable.”

The Encode consortium’s 442 researchers, situated in 32 institutes around the world, used 300 years of computer time and five years in the lab to get their results. They examined a total of 147 types of tissue – including cancer cells, liver extracts, endothelial cells from umbilical cords, and stem cells derived from embryos – and subjected them to around a hundred different experiments, recording which parts of the DNA code were activated in which cells at which times.

The current and future phases of Encode will prove useful not only for scientists, but also for those who want a more personalised approach to medicine in the decades to come. “We’re in an era where people are starting to get their genomes sequenced. With Encode data we could start mapping regulatory information,” says Snyder.

This means that the individual differences in people’s diseases can be more effectively targeted for treatment. “Diseases have been defined by the medical profession observing symptoms,” says Dr Tim Hubbard of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. “[But] we know, for example, that breast cancer is not one disease but there’s multiple types of breast cancer with all sorts of different mechanistic processes going wrong.

“A given drug only works in about a third of the people you give it to, but you don’t know which third. A lot of that is related to genomics, so if you knew the relationship between a person’s genome and which drugs work for them and which ones they shouldn’t take because it gives them side effects, that would improve medicine.”

Understanding exactly how each type of cell in the body works – in other words which genes are switched on or off at different stages of its function – will also be useful in future stem cell therapies. If doctors want to grow replacement liver tissue, for example, they will be able to check that it is safe by comparing the DNA functions of their manufactured cells with data from normal liver cells.

Birney says that the decade since the publication of the first draft of the human genome has shown that genetics is much more complex than anyone could have predicted. “We felt that maybe life was easier beforehand and more comfortable because we were just more ignorant. The major thing that’s happening is that we’re losing some of our ignorance and, indeed, it’s very complicated,” he says. “You’ve got to remember that these genomes make one of the most complicated things we know, ourselves. The idea that the recipe book would be easy to understand is kind of hubris. I still think we’re at the start of this journey, we’re still in the warm-up, the first couple of miles of this marathon.”


DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid is the chemical that stores genetic information in our cells. Shaped like a double helix, DNA passes down from one generation to the next.

RNA: Ribonucleic acid is a type of molecule used in making proteins in the body.

Genome: The complete genetic makeup of an organism, which contains all the biological information to build and keep it alive.

Gene: A stretch of DNA that tells a cell how to make specific proteins or RNA molecules.

Enzyme: A molecule that promotes a chemical reaction inside a living organism.

Stem cell: A biological master cell that can multiply and become many different types of tissue. They can also replicate to make more stem cells.

Flora Malein


Thousands exposed to deadly mouse-borne virus in US

Six people staying at Yosemite national park in California have contracted the illness, which has claimed two lives


September 1, 2012

by Conal Urquhart and agencies




Up to 12,000 visitors to Yosemite national park in California may have been exposed to a deadly mouse-borne virus that has already claimed two lives.

The mice nested in the cavity walls of insulated tents and the virus was spread through their faeces, saliva and urine.

            The company that operates the tents contacted 3,000 people who made reservations during the summer. A further 9,000 could have also stayed in the tents.

On Thursday, the California department of public health confirmed that six people had contracted the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome at Yosemite, up from four suspected cases earlier in the week, and the centres for disease control and prevention said they have identified other possible cases of the virus which have yet to be confirmed.

The illness begins with flu-like symptoms and can take six weeks to incubate before rapid acute respiratory and organ failure.

There is no cure, and anyone exhibiting the symptoms must be hospitalised. About 36% of people who contract the rare illness will die from it.

All of the victims of the virus stayed in specific four-man tents in the Curry Village area of the park between mid-June and early July.



Yosemite hantavirus – key questions answered

Six cases of hantavirus from Yosemite National Park have been confirmed and two have died. What is it, how is it spread and what should you do if you think you’ve been exposed?



September 7, 2012

by Flora Malein



What is a hantavirus?


Hantaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a life-threatening disease in people with symptoms similar to influenza. They are carried by some rodents, but do not make the animals sick.

A person infected by hantavirus is at risk of developing hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe and sometimes fatal respiratory condition. HPS, such as the current outbreak in California, only occurs in North and South America, but hantavirus infection does occur in Europe and can cause haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.


How is the virus spread?


People get HPS when they breathe in hantavirus particles. The virus usually becomes airborne when rodent urine or droppings containing it are stirred up. People can also become infected through direct contact with mouse or rat urine, droppings, or nesting materials that contain the virus, and then by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. HPS can also be contracted from a mouse or rat bite. Hantavirus does not spread between humans.

It is only carried by some species of rodent. In North America these are: the deer mouse, the white-footed mouse, the rice rat and the cotton rat. Cases often occur in rural areas such as forests, fields and farms.


How common is it?

Between 1993 and 2011 556 cases have been identified in the US in 34 different states. Three quarters of cases occurred in people in rural areas and 63% of all cases were male. There have also been numerous cases in South America.


How dangerous is it to humans?


Although rare, HPS is fatal in 38% of cases. There is no known antiviral treatment, but it is possible to recover naturally with hospital assistance – often in intensive care. Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk of HPS.


What are the symptoms?


Symptoms may develop between one and six weeks after exposure to the fresh urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. The early effects are similar to flu symptoms and include: fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in large muscle groups such as thighs, hips or the back. People may start to feel better for a short amount of time but after 4-10 days the disease progresses rapidly. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid.


Who is at risk from the current Yosemite National Park outbreak?


Anyone who visited Curry Village in Yosemite National Park since June of this year. The park authorities believe that visitors may have been exposed while staying at the Signature Tent Cabins in Curry Village. There are six confirmed cases so far and two people have died of the disease.


If I visited these areas what should I do?


Yosemite National Park authorities are contacting any visitors who stayed in the affected area from mid-June through to the end of August. Their advice is to seek immediate medical attention if any previous visitors exhibit symptoms of HPS. Yosemite has a non-emergency phone line (+1-209-372-0822) for all questions and concerns related to possible hantavirus exposure in the park.



Israel relationship with US damaged beyond repair over Iran attack

September 6, 2012
by Gordon Duff

            Military and intelligence leaders in Israel are increasingly public in their criticism of the bellicose statements made by Netanyahu and fellow Likudist militants. The real loss to Israel will be the “special relationship” with the United States which may have been damaged beyond repair.”
            President Obama and the Democratic Party announced today that they would no longer support a “platform” that advocates listing the city of Jerusalem as the capital of a Jewish state.
            The President and the majority party made this statement for a variety of reasons, primarily however, based on pragmatism.
            The president is assured the vast majority of Jewish voters in the United States, where recent polls indicate only 15% are “concerned” about Israeli security and 4% about relations with Iran, will continue to support him.
            These figures reflect the approximate percentages of Jewish voters believed to support Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate tied to extremist elements in Israel and suspected members of organized crime.
            This minority of “outcasts” have created a bitter divide among the Jewish community in the United States.
            Romney’s primary backer in the American Jewish community is Sheldon Adelson, whose history of involvement in gambling in the US and China has led to legal actions and accusations of involvement in prostitution and financial crimes.
            The critical aspect of the Democratic platform was the removal of this language which had been included in the 2008 platform:
            “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements. Sustained American leadership for peace and security will require patient efforts and the personal commitment of the President of the United States.
            The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.
            All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.
            The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
            The Republican Party website, www.breitbart.com, whose founder died mysteriously in his early 40s, issued the following analysis of the significant changes in direction for America, changes Romney and the Republicans expressed shock and horror at:

            “…the campaign isn’t even saying the borders of Jerusalem are subject to negotiation, which would mean that the western part of the city would remain with the Jewish state. The Obama administration has removed all reference to Jerusalem from its platform, indicating a belief that the entire city is up for grabs.
            Those who believe in a strong United States/Israel alliance should be concerned that this year’s platform does not even pay lip service to these key issues for the future of the Jewish state.”
            Today, Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, who recently attended overseas fundraisers, the first American politician to do so as foreign contributions to American elections are a felony, made the following statement:
            “It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.”
            Political analysts in the US believe that Netanyahu’s interference in the US electoral process, something that has earned him criticism at home, has led to this change in American policy. Others have seen it coming for some time.
            Military leaders in both the US and Israel have repeatedly told Prime Minister Netanyahu that threats of military action against Iran were irrational.
            Last week, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, America’s highest military leader under the president, traveled to Israel to personally deliver a message to Netanyahu.
            The Israeli leader was told that under no circumstances would the US participate in an attack on Iran and that such an act by Israel, were it unilateral, would damage relations between the two nations.
            Following this meeting, General Dempsey flew to Bagram Air Force Base in Kabul where his aircraft was destroyed by a missile attack. Sources within the Pentagon indicate that America’s “counter-battery” missile defense system was disabled by a computer virus during the attack, which would otherwise have been impossible.
            No source for this electronic intrusion in such a key defense system at such a critical time has been found.
            Soon after this attack, General Dempsey announced a cutback of US forces participating in joint military exercises with Israel. The initial force of 5,000 troops has been scaled back to 1,200.
            America had also promised to move two AEGIS destroyers into the region. These are naval vessels with advanced air defense systems. Where two had been promised, there will now only be one.
            The breakdown of relations between the US and Israel, though several years in the making, is more critical than ever with an Islamic government taking control in Egypt and dozens of Egyptian Army officers friendly to Israel, being forcibly retired.
            Israel is in the process of making desperate attempts to repair that relationship which would, as things are progressing, eventually end all control of Gaza, an issue very much at the heart of Egyptian citizens who fought to overthrow the Mubarak regime.
            Israel invited the Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, to Israel. However, this offer was declined. The issue was reported by Ynet News in Israel:
            “A day after Israel’s foreign minister called on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to visit Israel, a Muslim Brotherhood official called such a visit impossible.”
            “There is no possibility for Morsi to visit the Zionist entity,” Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party told an Egyptian online news magazine, Ynet reported.
            “President Morsi’s patriotism will not allow him to do so,” Heshmat said, saying that the presidential palace will turn down the invitation.
            Avigdor Lieberman issued the invitation Tuesday during a speech at a legal conference. He called for the visit after Morsi said in an interview Monday with Reuters that he would not attempt to overturn the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
            In light of threats against Iran, currency instability in Europe, a key shift of allegiance by the US in the days preceding the national election and a new government in Egypt, these issues combined with the serious problems in Syria, have created an atmosphere of failure and powerlessness among political extremists in Israel.
            Additionally, military and intelligence leaders in Israel are increasingly public in their criticism of the bellicose statements made by Netanyahu and fellow Likudist militants.
            The real loss to Israel will be the “special relationship” with the United States which may have been damaged beyond repair.
            If this is so, then the “sands of time” may eventually close in on the Israeli state, one that has thus far failed to recognize and adapt to a changing world.


U.S. congressman confirms high-level U.S.-Israel spat over Iran


September 7, 2012

by Tabassum Zakaria



WASHINGTON -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blew up at the U.S. ambassador last month because he was “at wits’ end” over what he sees as the Obama administration’s lack of clarity on Iran’s nuclear program, a U.S. congressman who was at the meeting said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, made his first public comments about the late August meeting in Israel in an interview with Michigan’s WJR radio on Tuesday.

Continued controversy over the meeting comes as President Barack Obama on Thursday night will accept his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention, where the level of the Obama administration’s support for Israel was a contentious topic.

“Right now the Israelis don’t believe that this administration is serious when they say all options are on the table, and more importantly neither do the Iranians. That’s why the program is progressing,” Rogers said.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

Israel is facing growing international pressure not to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the United States has made clear it opposes any such strike.

Rogers said if the United States does not show Israel more clarity on where it draws “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program, then Israel might conduct a strike.

“If I were betting my house today, I would guess that they probably will do it if we don’t have a change in more clear red lines from the United States,” he said.

A spokesman for Israel’s embassy in Washington declined to comment. The State Department would not comment on private diplomatic meetings but spokesman Edgar Vasquez said, “We have a rock solid relationship and an ironclad commitment to Israel.”

The spat between Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro appears to confirm a deep chasm over how to deal with Iran, which the two allies have tried to play down publicly.

Obama has vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but says there is still time for sanctions and diplomacy to work. The White House says it has brokered international oil and banking sanctions that are far tougher on Iran than previous administrations achieved.

The original purpose of the meeting was for Netanyahu and Rogers to discuss intelligence cooperation and other matters. But it “devolved” into a sharp exchange in which Netanyahu confronted Shapiro with a lot of frustration about the lack of clarity on the administration’s position on Iran’s nuclear program, Rogers said.

“The uncertainty about where the United States’ position is on those questions has created lots of problems and anxiety that I think doesn’t serve the world well and doesn’t serve peace well,” Rogers said.

In an interview with an Israeli television station on Sunday, Shapiro dismissed an Israeli newspaper account of the heated closed-door exchange as “a very silly story” that did not reflect what actually happened in the meeting where the conversations were “friendly and professional.” Netanyahu has not commented on the exchange, which was first reported by the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Israel has its own undeclared nuclear arsenal that is believed to contain as many as 200 warheads.

Rogers said the Israeli and U.S. timelines differed on how quickly Iran could put a nuclear weapon on a missile, if it decided to move in that direction.

Netanyahu believes “if they decide to do the dash it could be four weeks to eight weeks,” while U.S. intelligence analysts believe it would “take a little longer than that,” Rogers said. “But the problem is nobody really knows for sure.”

Editing by Warren Strobel and Lisa Shumaker


Airlines face trial over 9-11 terror attacks

September 6, 2012

CBS News


            A federal judge has ordered American Airlines and United Airlines to stand trial in a lawsuit that alleges the airlines’ lax security led to the 9-11 terror attacks.
            The holder of leases at the World Trade Center sued the airlines over the September 2001 hijackings and attacks that destroyed the twin towers.
            U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in New York ruled Tuesday against a request by the airlines to end the case because the lease holder had already recovered more from insurance policies than the leases were worth.
            World Trade Center Properties LLC sued the airlines in 2008, claiming that their negligence allowed terrorists to board and hijack the planes that were crashed into the towers.
            The judge previously ruled that World Trade Center Properties could seek $2.8 billion to recover the value of the 99-year leases that it obtained from the owner of the towers, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, less than two months before the attacks.
            The company had asked for $8.4 billion in damages, which it said would cover replacement of the towers.
            The airlines declined to comment Thursday on the ruling.
            American, a unit of AMR Corp., and United, owned by United Continental Holdings Inc., wanted the lawsuit thrown out because the lease holders already received $4.1 billion from insurance policies.
            A law that President George W. Bush signed 11 days after the terror attacks capped liability for American and United at the limits in their insurance.


            The case is 08-CV-03722 in the U.S. district court for the southern district of New York


Putin Warns West’s Syria Policy could Backfire


September 6, 2012 

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers that their “dangerous” stance on the Syria crisis could come back to haunt them.

“Today some want to use militants from Al Qaeda or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria,” Putin said in a wide-ranging interview with the RT international news channel. “This policy is very short-sighted and is fraught with dire consequences.”

Putin compared alleged Western funding of radical Islamic militants to help topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with U.S. support for Afghan rebels after the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of its Central Asia neighbor.

“When someone aspires to attain an end they see as optimal, any means will do,” Putin said “As a rule, they will try and do that by hook or by crook – and hardly ever think of the consequences.”

“That was the case during the war in Afghanistan,” he added. “At that time, our present partners supported a rebel movement there and basically gave rise to Al Qaeda, which later backfired on the United States itself.”

Putin also hit out at Western criticism of the Kremlin’s refusal to back proposed UN sanctions against the Assad regime Syria over the ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East country and dismissed suggestions that Moscow could alter its position.

“How come Russia is the only one who’s expected to revise its stance? Don’t you think our counterparts in negotiations ought to revise theirs as well?” Putin said “Because if we look back at the events in the past few years, we’ll see that quite a few of our counterparts’ initiatives have not played out the way they were intended to.”

“Look at what’s going on in Arab countries. There have been notable developments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. Would you say that order and prosperity have been totally ensured for these nations? And what’s going on in Iraq?”

“In Libya, there are armed clashes still raging among the country’s various tribes,” he said.

And Putin suggested the key to ending the conflict in Syria was to halt weapons deliveries to Damascus.

“I believe that the first thing to do is to stop shipping arms into the warzone, which is still going on,” he said. “We should stop trying to impose unacceptable solutions on either side, because it is a dead-end. That’s what we should do. It is that simple.”

The Kremlin has said its arms shipments to Syria do not violate international law and do not include equipment that could be used against “peaceful protesters.”

Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution on Syria on July 19 over fears that it would lead to foreign military intervention in the Middle East country, a move that United States envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice called “paranoid if not disingenuous.”

The resolution was tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would have provided for the use of force to put an end to the rapidly escalating conflict.

Russia says it has no special interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but that the “Syrian people” should decide his fate.

And Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of the “Libya scenario” which saw the ouster and murder of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign last year.

Study questions how much better organic food is

September 3 2012

by Lauran Neergaard  AP Medical Writer



WASHINGTON (AP) — Patient after patient asked: Is eating organic food, which costs more, really better for me?

Unsure, Stanford University doctors dug through reams of research to find out — and concluded there’s little evidence that going organic is much healthier, citing only a few differences involving pesticides and antibiotics.

Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, including for children — but the amount measured from conventionally grown produce was within safety limits, the researchers reported Monday.

Nor did the organic foods prove more nutritious.

“I was absolutely surprised,” said Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior research affiliate at Stanford and long-time internist who began the analysis because so many of her patients asked if they should switch.

“There are many reasons why someone might choose organic foods over conventional foods,” from environmental concerns to taste preferences, Bravata stressed. But when it comes to individual health, “there isn’t much difference.”

Her team did find a notable difference with antibiotic-resistant germs, a public health concern because they are harder to treat if they cause food poisoning.

Specialists long have said that organic or not, the chances of bacterial contamination of food are the same, and Monday’s analysis agreed. But when bacteria did lurk in chicken or pork, germs in the non-organic meats had a 33 percent higher risk of being resistant to multiple antibiotics, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

That finding comes amid debate over feeding animals antibiotics, not because they’re sick but to fatten them up. Farmers say it’s necessary to meet demand for cheap meat. Public health advocates say it’s one contributor to the nation’s growing problem with increasingly hard-to-treat germs. Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, counted 24 outbreaks linked to multidrug-resistant germs in food between 2000 and 2010.

The government has begun steps to curb the nonmedical use of antibiotics on the farm.

Organic foods account for 4.2 percent of retail food sales, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It certifies products as organic if they meet certain requirements including being produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, or routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones.

Consumers can pay a lot more for some organic products but demand is rising: Organic foods accounted for $31.4 billion sales last year, according to a recent Obama administration report. That’s up from $3.6 billion in 1997.

The Stanford team combed through thousands of studies to analyze the 237 that most rigorously compared organic and conventional foods. Bravata was dismayed that just 17 compared how people fared eating either diet while the rest investigated properties of the foods themselves.

Organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of containing detectable pesticide levels. In two studies of children, urine testing showed lower pesticide levels in those on organic diets. But Bravata cautioned that both groups harbored very small amounts — and said one study suggested insecticide use in their homes may be more to blame than their food.

Still, some studies have suggested that even small pesticide exposures might be risky for some children, and the Organic Trade Association said the Stanford work confirms that organics can help consumers lower their exposure.

CSPI’s DeWaal noted that difference, but added that the issue is more complicated. Some fruits and vegetables can harbor more pesticide residue than others — she listed peaches from Chile as topping a recent testing list. Overall levels have dropped in North American produce over the last decade as farms implemented some new standards addressing child concerns, she said.

“Parents with young children should consider where their produce is coming from,” DeWaal said, calling types grown in the U.S. or Canada “a safer bet” for lower pesticide levels.

As for antibiotics, some farms that aren’t certified organic have begun selling antibiotic-free meat or hormone-free milk, to address specific consumer demands, noted Bravata. Her own preference is to buy from local farmers in hopes of getting the ripest produce with the least handling.

That kind of mixed approach was evident in a market in the nation’s capital Thursday, where Liz Pardue of Washington said she buys organic “partially for environmental reasons.” Pardue said she doesn’t go out of her way to shop organic, but if she does, it’s to buy mostly things that are hard to wash like berries and lettuce.

Michelle Dent of Oxon Hill, Md., said she buys most of her groceries from regular chain stores but gets her fruit from organic markets: “It’s fresh; you can really taste it.”

Anna Hamadyk of Washington said she buys only organic milk because she has a young son.

“I would love to buy everything organic, but it’s just too much money,” said Hamadyk, who also shops at local farmers markets.

Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.


The Roosevelt-Churchill Conversations


On March 6, 1942, German Minister of Post, Dr. Wilhelm Ohnesorge, sent the following letter to Adolf Hitler. To it was attached a sample manuscript of an intercepted conversation.


The Reichspost Minister                 Berlin W 66                         6 March 1942

                                                     Leipziger Str. 15

                                                Geheime Reichssache!

                                                  (Secret State Matter)  

U5342-11Bfb Nr. 23 gRs

Decoding of the American-England telephone system

Mein Führer!

            The Research Section (Forschungsanstalt) of the German Reichspost has, as the latest of its efforts, completed a unit designed to intercept the telephone message traffic between the United States and England which had been rendered unintelligible by their use of current communications technology. Because of the significant work of its technicians, the Reichspost is the sole agency in Germany that is now able to make immediate interception and decoding of these hitherto unintelligible conversations.

            I will present these results to the Reichsführer-SS, Pg Himmler who will forward them on the 22nd of March.

            It is my intention, pending your approval, to strictly limit the circulation of these communications in order that no news of our success reaches the English. This might seriously jeopardize future interceptions.

                                                Heil mein Führer!


            In 1937, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company put into use a telephone scrambling device called the A-3. This device, which permitted telephone conversations to be scrambled at one and descrambled at the other, effectively prevented interception of the conversations en route.

            The German Reichspost (state postal system responsible for the telephone and telegraph systems in Germany) had purchased the A-3 system from AT&T before the war for use on lines in service between Germany and the United States. However, each set of scrambling devices was different and in practice, the possessors of one set could not intercept the transmissions of another.

            The A-3 system in use between Roosevelt and Churchill was housed, in America, in a secure area of the AT&T offices at 47 Walker Street in New York City and the British A-3 counterpart was located at Whitehall in London. Roosevelt’s calls to Churchill were routed through the New York office where technicians constantly supervised the conversations to be certain that the transmitted speech was unintelligible after passing through the scrambling devices.

            In September of 1939, the A-3 system was in use by the White House and on the first day of that month, Roosevelt heard from his personal friend and Ambassador to France, William Bullitt, that the Germans had invaded Poland.

            The Germans were well aware that Roosevelt used this device through an indiscreet article in the New York Times of October 8, 1939 entitled “Roosevelt Protected in Talks to Envoys by Radio Scrambling to Foil Spies Abroad.”

            The spies abroad found this indiscretion stimulating and Dr. Ohnesorge determined to find a way to unscramble the President’s messages. He assigned a specialist in the field, Kurt Vetterlein, to work on the project using the A-3 equipment then in the hands of the Reichspost as a basis. By late 1940, Vetterlein and his team of specialists had effectively broken Roosevelt’s secure system.

            Vetterlein then built a device that was able to descramble each conversation as it progressed without the loss of a single word and Ohnesorge ordered an intercept station to be established in the occupied Dutch coastal town of Noorwikj aan Zee, just north of den Haag. Here, in a former youth hostel, Vetterlein set up the equipment he needed to begin a full-scale 24-hour program of interception and transcription of the trans-Atlantic radio telephone traffic.

            The first intercept was made at 7:45 PM on September 7, 1941. The daily number of intercepted calls, on a 24 hour basis, ranged from a high of sixty to a low of thirty and were screened by experts for their intelligence value. Important material was transcribed in the original English and send by courier either to Hitler’s military headquarters in East Prussia or to Heinrich Himmler at the RSHA in Berlin.

            Himmler, in turn, had the original English texts translated into German and distributed within his organization. SS General Gottlob Berger, head of Himmler’s Main Office, was one of the recipients and the head of Overseas Intelligence of the Sicherheitsdienst or SD received others.

            These intercepts, coupled with confidential coded reports by Bruggmann, Swiss Minister to the United States, proved to be of incredible value to German intelligence organs and gave the Germans the closest look at the inner workings of the top leadership of the United States. Bruggmann was the brother-in-law of Vice President Henry Wallace who was absolutely indiscreet about top level police decisions. The Swiss Minister had no idea that the Germans were reading all of his secret dispatches to the Swiss Foreign Office in Bern just as the American President and the British Prime Minister had no idea their often sophomoric and pompous chatterings were ending up on the desk of Adolf Hitler within hours after they hung up.

            Ever since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the subsequent entry of the United States into what then became World War II, there has been a heated and protracted debate about the historical role played by Roosevelt in this episode. His detractors have claimed that the President was fully aware of the impending Japanese attack and allowed it to proceed because it supplied him a casus belli that would permit him to actively engage his real enemy, Hitler. Much is made of the interception and decoding of Japanese official military and governmental messages, which in hindsight would appear to point clearly to a Japanese attack.

            Certainly, the decoding of Japanese Foreign Office diplomatic traffic would indicate the strong probability of a military attack on the United States by the Japanese if their respective governments were unable to resolve their problems in the Pacific.

            None of the diplomatic messages, however, were specific about such an attack and all that can be gained from reading them is the clear knowledge that the Japanese did not want war with the United States and, like Saddam Hussein of Iraq, were desperately seeking some kind of a peaceful solution.

            Given that Roosevelt was aware of this attitude, which he clearly was, there has been no proof that the President was aware of a specific attack on the United States.

            On November 26, 1941, the German intercept station in Holland recorded the following conversation between Roosevelt and Churchill concerning the situation in the Pacific. It is of such historical importance that it is reproduced in full and copies of the original German documents are attached. These transcripts of the Roosevelt/Churchill conversations were always initially in English and were then later translated into German.     


Roosevelt-Churchill Conversation of November 26, 1941


            This conversation is taken directly from a German transcript of a trans-Atlantic scrambled telephone conversation initiated by British Prime Minister Winston Spencer-Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt. The original was taken down in English and a German translation is in the German State Archives. It is included here, as are other non-Japanese reports, because this material is directly relevant in a chronological sense. The original carbon copy of this, and other historically important German intercepts, came from the private files of Robert T. Crowley, formerly Deputy Director of Clandestine Operations of the Central Intelligence Agency

            Conversation Participants

            A=Franklin Roosevelt, Washington

            B= Winston Churchill, London


            B: I am frightfully sorry to disturb you at this hour, Franklin, but matters of a most vital import have transpired and I felt that I must convey them to you immediately.

            A: That’s perfectly all right, Winston. I’m sure you wouldn’t trouble me at this hour for trivial concerns.

            B: Let me preface my information with an explanation addressing the reason I have not alluded to these facts earlier. In the first place, until today, the information was not firm. On matters of such gravity, I do not like to indulge in idle chatter. Now, I have in my hands, reports from our agents in Japan as well as the most specific intelligence in the form of the highest level Japanese naval coded messages (conversation broken) for some time now.

            A: I felt this is what you were about. How serious is it?  

            B: It could not be worse, A powerful Japanese task force comprising (composed of) six of their carriers, two battleships and a number of other units to include (including) tankers and cruisers, has sailed yesterday from a secret base in the northern Japanese islands.

            A: We both knew this was coming. There are also reports in my hands about a force of some size making up in China and obviously intended to go (move) South.

            B: Yes, we have all of that. (Interruption) ..are far more advanced than you in our reading of the Jap naval operations codes. But even without that, their moves are evident. And they will indeed move South but the force I spoke of is not headed South, Franklin, it is headed East..

            A: Surely you  must be…will you repeat that please?

            B: I said to the East. This force is sailing to the East…towards you.

            A: Perhaps they set an easterly course to fool any observers and then plan to swing South to support the landings in the southern areas. I have…

            B: No, at this moment, their forces are moving across the northern Pacific and I can assure you that their goal is the (conversation broken) fleet in Hawaii. At Pearl Harbor.

            A: This is monstrous. Can you tell me…indicate…the nature of your intelligence? (conversation broken) reliable? Without compromising your sources…    

            B: Yes, I will have to be careful. Our agents in Japan have been reporting on the gradual (conversation broken) units. And these have disappeared from Japanese home waters. We also have highly reliable sources in the Japanese foreign service and even the military…

            A: How reliable?

            B: One of the sources is the individual who supplied us the material on the diplomatic codes that (conversation broken) and a Naval officer whom our service has compromised. You must trust me, Franklin and I cannot be more specific.

            A: I accept this.

            B: We cannot compromise our codebreaking. You understand this. Only myself and a few (conversation broken) not even Hopkins. It will go straight to Moscow and I am not sure we want that.

            A: I am still attempting to…the obvious implication is that the Japs are going to do a Port Arthur on us at Pearl Harbor. Do you concur?

            B: I do indeed. Unless they add an attack on the Panama Canal to this vile business. I can hardly envision the canal as a primary goal, especially with your fleet lying athwart their lines of communications with Japan. No, if they do strike the canal, they will have to first neutralize (destroy) your fleet (conversation broken).

            A: The worse form of treachery. We can prepare our defenses on the islands and give them a warm welcome when they come. It would certainly put some iron up Congress’ ass (asshole).

            B: On the other hand, if they did launch a bombing raid, given that the aircraft would only be of the carrier-borne types, how much actual damage could they inflict? And on what target?

            A: I think torpedoes would be ruled out at the outset. Pearl is far too shallow to permit a successful torpedo attack. Probably they would drop medium bombs on the ships and then shoot (conversation broken) damage a number of ships and no doubt the Japs would attack our airfields. I could see some damage there but I don’t think either an airfield or a battleship could sink very far. What do your people give you as the actual date of the attack?

            B: The actual date given is the eighth of December. That’s a Monday.

            A: The fleet is in harbor over the weekend. They often sortie during the week…

            B: The Japs are asking (conversation broken)  exact dispositions of your ships on a regular basis.

            A: But Monday seems odd. Are you certain?

            B: It is in the calendar. Monday is the eighth. (conversation broken).

            A:…then I will have to reconsider the entire problem. A Japanese attack on us, which would result in war between us…and certainly you as well…would certainly fulfill two of the most important requirements of our policy. Harry has told me repeatedly…and I have more faith in him than I do in the Soviet ambassador…that Stalin is desperate at this point. The Nazis are at the gates of Moscow, his armies are melting away…the government has evacuated and although Harry and Marshall feel that Stalin can hang on and eventually defeat Hitler, their is no saying what could transpire (happen) if the Japs suddenly fell on Stalin’s rear. In spite of all the agreements between them and the Japs dropping Matsuoka, there is still strong anti-Russian sentiment in high Japanese military circles. I think that we have to decide what is more important…keeping Russia in the war to bleed the Nazis dry to their own eventual destruction (conversation broken) supply Stalin with weapons but do not forget, in fact he is your ally, not mine. There is strong isolationist feelings here and there are quite a number of anti-Communists…

            B: Fascists…

            A: Certainly, but they would do all they could to block any attempt on my part to do more than give some monetary assistance to Stalin.

            B: But we too have our major desperations, Franklin. Our shipping upon which our nation depends, is being sunk by the huns faster than we could ever replace (conversation broken) the Japs attack both of us in the Pacific? We could lose Malaya which is our primary source of rubber and tin. And if the Japs get Java and the oil, they could press South to Australia and I have told you repeatedly, we cannot hold (conversation broken) them much but in truth I cannot deliver. We need every man and every ship to fight Hitler in Europe…India too. If the Japs get into Malaya, they can press on virtually unopposed into Burma and then India. Need I tell you of the resultant destruction of our Empire? We cannot survive on this small island, Franklin, (conversation broken) allow the nips (knips?) to attack, you can get your war declaration through your Congress after all. (conversation broken)

            A: Not as capable as you are at translating there messages and the army and navy are very jealous of each other. There is so much coming in that everyone is confused. We have no agents in place in Japan and every day dozens of messages are (conversation broken) that contradict each other or are not well translated. I have seen three translations of the same message with three entirely different meanings (conversation broken) address your concern about British holdings in the Pacific…if the Japanese do attack both of us, eventually we will be able to crush them and regain all of the lost territories. As for myself, I will be damned glad to be rid of the Phillipines.(sic)

            B: I see this as a gamble (conversation broken) what would your decision be? We cannot procrastinate over this for too long. Eleven or twelve days are all we have. Can we not agree in principle now? I should mention that several advisors have counseled (advised) against informing you of this and allowing it to happen. You see by notifying you where my loyalty lies. Certainly to one who is heart and soul with us against Hitler.

            A: I do appreciate your loyalty, Winston. What on the other hand, will happen here if one of our intelligence people is able to intercept, decipher and deliver to me the same information you just gave me? I cannot just ignore it…all of my intelligence people will know about it then. I could not ignore this.

            B: But if it were just a vague message then?

            A: No, a specific message. I could not just sweep it under the rug like that (conversation broken).

            B: Of course not. I think we should matters develop as they will.

            A: I think that perhaps I can find a reason to absent (leave) myself from Washington while this crisis develops. What I don’t know can’t hurt me and I too can misunderstand messages, especially at a distance (conversation broken)

            B: Completely. My best to you all there.

            A: Thank you for your call.


            In dealing with documents of a controversial nature, there are a number of factors to be considered. The first point to consider is the authenticity of the document in question.

            Authenticity can be determined by several means. There is the provenience of the piece; where it came from and a catalog of the owners showing unbroken custody. Then there is the forensic study of the document. Is the paper correct to the period when the document was purported to have been written. Is the typewriter or the handwriting correct? If ink is used, can it be tested as to age?

            These are the forensic issues and the next issue is one of plausibility. Does the document accurately reflect knowledge and opinion when it was alleged to have been written? The sure sign of a faked or altered piece is if it reflects information known only after the fact and not before.

            As a case in point, American newspapers contemporary with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912, reported on what was then believed to be fact. These perceived facts later turned out to be in error. A document that accurately depicts the opinions, and errors, current with its alleged origin is far more believable than one that reflects information that was developed at a later date, information that could not be known to a period writer.

            In the case of the copies of the German intercepts, these principles have been carefully adhered to. Because of the importance of some of these captured papers, it is vital to at least ascertain their authenticity based on the forensic criteria.

            These documents, fortunately, exist in their original form.

            The Roosevelt/Churchill conversation of November 26, 1941, was typed on a German Olympia typewriter, manufactured in 1938. The typeface does not indicate excessive wear such as one would find in an old, second-hand machine.

            The paper on which the document was originally typed is common pulp paper, very quick to age. This paper proved to be unremarkable pulp that could have come from any period. There were no chemical additives, as are found in post 1948 paper, and no wood pulp additives that would preclude period German manufacture.

            The next step in authentication would be to study the text to see if the speech was consistent with the speakers, their education and background.

            In studying this aspect of the conversations, it must be remembered that these intercepts were taken down directly from the intercepted messages, as they were in progress. The technicians were persons in German employ who were conversant with idiomatic English. They were not necessarily of German birth or upbringing and attempting to write down intercepts in a foreign language could easily lead to minor grammatical or textual errors.

            It is also necessary to consider the personal attitudes of persons who wish not to believe the authenticity of very controversial documents.

            As a case in point, using this November 26, 1941, intercept as an example, several scholars have decided that the text is authentic. One recent reviewer, historian John Lukacs, has decided that it is not.

            Dr. Lukacs has written at some length about this intercept in the American Heritage magazine of November/December 2002.

            A very polished writer, Dr. Lukacs has stated that he simply cannot, and will not, accept this conversation as authentic. He stated in his article that he once spoke with an unnamed elderly British translator who stated she could not accept some of the comments made in the text.

There is the argument that Churchill would never have called Roosevelt by his first name. Since Roosevelt had known Churchill and his family for some time before the date of the conversation, there is no logical reason why he would not have used the President’s first name. Roosevelt’s mother was a friend of the Churchill family and had been visiting with them in England in 1915.  This is an obscure fact, admittedly, but one that is not so concealed that it could never be discovered by a competent researcher.

            There is also the question of Churchill’s use of ‘fascist’ in the conversation when Lukacs feels that ‘Nazi’ would be more accurate. A number of Churchill’s published speeches contain references to both definitions. Lukacs refers to the use of this word as ‘nonsensical’ when in fact published material shows that Churchill very clearly had used it a number of times in his writings and speeches.

            What all of this proves is nothing more than the fact that Dr. Lukacs is not happy with the implication that Churchill, about whom he has written glowingly and at great length and whom he holds in the highest esteem, had prior knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack and was engaged in plotting with his American opposite number to let it go forward. By both Roosevelt and Churchill’s’ doing so, it is obvious many lives were lost and the war burst forth on a global dimension.

            Dr. Peter Hoffman from Canada and Dr. Lukacs have both written in glorifying phrases about their particular historical idols. Hoffman produced a highly laudatory work on Claus von Stauffenberg, as worshipful as the Lukacs’ Churchill works, and any writer who dares to denigrate the heroes of such writers immediately draws the academic ire of their biographers.

            These academic gentlemen have staked out their turf, as it were, and like many other academics, will fight to the death to defend their own territory. It is never an edifying sight to witness distinguished academics engaged in behavior redolent of elderly whores engaging in a hair-pulling and purse-swinging battle in a dark alley over possession of a drunken client but this sort of activity seems to be more the norm than the exception

            The ferocity of these encounters is always in direct proportion to the unimportance of the subject.

            In essence, Dr. Lukacs simply cannot, and will not, accept anything that brings the character, or lack of it, of his primary hero into question.

            Many do indeed revere both Roosevelt and Churchill. Still others revere Hitler and Stalin and are just as fierce in the defense of their respective heroes.

            The personality of Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill could very well be a subject of interest to an alienist who, by definition, is a physician who treats mental disorders. There is a saying that the world is governed with very little sense and there are times when one could add to this statement that it often has been governed by lunatics.

            Churchill was born in 1874 and died in 1965. His father was Randolph Spencer-Churchill, a son of the Duke of Marlborough. The first Duke was John Churchill, one of England’s most capable military commanders, who died without male issue in 1722 and the title was given to one of his nephews, a Spencer. As a courtesy, the Spencer family was allowed to add Churchill to its name, separated by a hyphen. Winston always wanted to believe that he was a gifted military leader in the mold of the first Duke but his efforts at generalship were always unqualified disasters that he generally blamed on other people. This chronic refusal to accept responsibility for his own incompetent actions is one of Churchill’s less endearing qualities.

            Randolph Churchill died early as the result of rampant syphilis that turned him from an interesting minor politician to a pathetic madman who had to be kept away from the public, in the final years of his life. His mother was the former Jennie Jerome, an American. The Jerome family had seen better days when Jennie met Randolph. Her father, Leonard, was a stock-market manipulator who had lost his money and the marriage was more one of convenience than of affection.

            The Jeromes were by background very typically American. On her father’s side, Jennie was mostly Irish and on her mother’s American Indian and Jewish. The union produced two children, Winston and Jack. The parents lived separate lives, both seeking the company of other men. Winston’s psyche suffered accordingly and throughout his life, his frantic desire for attention obviously had its roots in his abandonment as a child.

            As a member of the 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars, in 1896 Churchill became embroiled in a lawsuit wherein he was publically accused of having engaged in the commission of “acts of gross immorality of the Oscar Wilde type.” This case was duly settled out of court for a payment of money and the charges were withdrawn. Also a determinant factor was the interference by the Prince of Wales with whom his mother was having an affair.

            In 1905, Churchill hired a young man, Edward Marsh (later Sir Edward) as his private secretary. His mother, always concerned about her son’s political career, was concerned because Marsh was a very well known homosexual who later became one of Winston’s most intimate lifelong friends. Personal correspondence of March, now in private hands, attests to the nature and duration of their friendship.

            Churchill, as Asquith once said, was consumed with vanity and his belief that he was a brilliant military leader led him from the terrible disaster of Gallipoli through the campaigns of the Second World War. He meddled constantly in military matters to the despair and eventual fury of his professional military advisors but his political excursions were even more disastrous. Churchill was a man who was incapable of love but could certainly hate. He was viciously vindictive towards anyone who thwarted him and a number of these perceived enemies died sudden deaths during the war when such activities were much easier to order and conceal.

            One of Churchill’s less attractive personality traits, aside from his refusal to accept the responsibility for the failure of his actions, was his ability to change his opinions at a moment’s notice.

            Once anti-American, he did a complete about-face when confronted with a war he escalated and could not fight, and from a supporter of Hitler’s rebuilding of Germany, he turned into a bitter enemy after a Jewish political action association composed of wealthy businessmen hired him to be their spokesman.

            Churchill lavishly praised Roosevelt to his face and defamed him with the ugliest of accusations behind his back. The American President was a far more astute politician than Churchill and certainly far saner.

            In order to support his war of vengeance, Churchill had to buy weapons from the United States and Roosevelt stripped England of all of her assets to pay for these. Only when England was bankrupt did Roosevelt consent to the Lend-Lease project, and in a moment of malicious humor, titled the bill “1776” when it was sent to Congress.

            Hitler’s bombing of England was not a prelude to invasion, but a retaliation for Churchill’s instigation of the bombing of German cities and Churchill used the threat of a German invasion to whip up pro-British feelings in the United States. Threats of invasion by the Germans, in this case of the United States, have been cited by such writers as Weinberg as the reason why Roosevelt had to get into the war. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese had even the slightest intention to invade the continental United States and exhaustive research in the military and political archives of both countries has been unable to locate a shred of evidence to support these theories.

            A dedicated academic supporter of Winston Spencer-Churchill or Franklin Delano Roosevelt would undoubtedly find any evidence of bad character on the part of their beloved subjects, total anathema but this attitude in and of itself has no actual bearing on the originality of documentation that might augment or expose lack of character or morality.

            Roosevelt’s role in the Pearl Harbor attack has been the subject of speculation even from the first. His opponents claimed that he deliberately pushed the Japanese into war to permit him to fight his archenemy, Adolf Hitler. His supporters have firmly denied this thesis and the multiplication of books, scholarly articles and media dramas seems to have no end.

            Several valid points have been brought by Roosevelt partisans that deserve to be carefully considered. The first is concerned with American military intelligence work and deals, in the main, with the interceptions of Japanese coded messages. It has been fully acknowledged that the Japanese diplomatic code, called “Purple,” was broken by the Americans and consequently, all high-level diplomatic messages between Tokyo and Japanese diplomats throughout the world were being read almost as soon as they were sent. (The average translation took two days.)

            The question of the Japanese Army and Navy operational codes was another matter. The American government has firmly denied for decades that such codes had even been broken or, if that had, were not translated until 1945! While nearly all of the “Purple” intercepts have been made public, only a very few of the coded Japanese Naval messages have appeared in print and then only concerning matters of no special significance.

            The Japanese Pearl Harbor task force did not broadcast any messages during their passage to the Hawaiian Islands but Japanese Naval headquarters did send messages to the task force. What they may have consisted of are not known at present and perhaps will never be known, although the National Security Agency, holder of these documents, has stated that it will release the Naval intercepts (known as JN-25) at an unspecified future date.

            The argument has been well made, specifically by Roberts Wohlstetter, that so much material was intercepted during the period just prior to the Japanese attack, that it was extremely difficult for American intelligence agencies to winnow out the wheat from the chaff. In retrospect, it is glaringly obvious that some kind of a Japanese attack was planned and in train, but the direction of this attack was lost in the muddle of complex and difficult-to-translate messages.

            A further point well made is, had American military intelligence learned of a definite attack on Pearl Harbor, it would have been impossible to keep this a secret, given the number of translators and other military personnel who handled such intercepted messages. The army and navy of that period were small in size and most senior officers in both services knew each other well, having served together for many years. In the absence of any concrete evidence to support the receipt of Japanese military messages dealing with an attack on any specific American installation, it is not within the realm of belief that these senior officers would passively allow American military units to be attacked.

            In response to this entirely valid postulation, it should be noted that the specific warning did not come to Roosevelt from below but on a parallel level and from a foreign intelligence source which was far better equipped to decode and translate the Japanese transmissions.

            A second area of interest has been the possible motivation for Roosevelt’s increasing pressure on the Japanese, pressure which culminated in a stringent oil embargo that forced Japan into war. Diverse reasons are given for this, including a personal prejudice in favor of China stemming from his maternal grandfather’s highly lucrative opium and immigrant-smuggling operations to an intense hatred of Hitler in specific and Germans in general.

            Both of these reasons for Roosevelt’s attitude are historically valid but in and of themselves do not explain the dangerous brinkmanship practiced by Roosevelt in his dealings with Japan. It is clearly evident from reading the intercepts of the Japanese diplomatic coded messages that Tokyo was not only not interested in pursuing war against the United States but was seriously engaged in attempting to defuse and dangerous situation whose accelerating progress caused them great alarm. Roosevelt and his advisers were fully aware of the ease with which they could achieve effective dialog with the Japanese government. All diplomatic approaches by Japan were rebuffed by Washington and as the diplomatic crisis deepened, the possibility of military action by Japan against the United States was very clearly evident in Washington.

            The actual motivation behind the turning of the screw against Japan and the refusal on the part of Roosevelt to negotiate has been explored extensively in print but one of the most valid answers seems to lie clearly in the section of the intercepted communication dealing with the Soviet Union.

            As much as Roosevelt wished to enter a war against Germany, he was constrained by Congress from conducting a personal war. A de facto war against Germany was in progress in the Atlantic where US naval units were engaged in open warfare with German U boats but Hitler would not rise to the bait and issue a unilateral declaration of war against the United States. For a time, Roosevelt was check in his ambitions.

            With Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Roosevelt’s aims shifted. He had very strong reasons for supporting Stalin in his epic struggle with the Wehrmacht. There were no forces available in Europe to effectively counter Hitler. France was defeated and England’s army was shattered and the island under siege. The British has been soundly beaten on the continent by German forces and in 1941, they had been chased out of Greece and Crete. England was in no position to support any kind of a serious military action against Germany and the US was still technically neutral.

            Since the beginning of his presidency, Roosevelt had actively sought the support of the well-organized Communist party in the United States. This entity was especially numerous and effective in the state of New York, whose Governor he had once been, and by voting en bloc the Communists could and did swing major elections. Roosevelt’s administration was filled with Communists, both active and passive, who aggressively supported the programs of the New Deal. When the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed in 1939, many of these persons underwent serious conscience crises but in June 1941, when Hitler invaded Mother Russia, their collective angst was resolved and Stalin once more resumed his place as the exalted champion of the workers and peasants and the beau ideal of embittered intellectuals and academics throughout the world.

            All of Roosevelt’s aims were addressed by his now permissible support of Stalin, However, the swift advances of the Wehrmacht into Russia and the massive losses in territory, manpower and material suffered by the Red Army caused great consternation in Washington and London. If, as it appeared in the autumn of 1941, Russia could collapse, the last major hope for the containment and destruction of Hitler and his country was gone.

            The point of balance now shifted from European Russia to the Far East. The advance guard of the German Army was in front of Moscow and most of the Soviet Army was engaged in a protracted death struggle for the capital. There was an acute possibility that the Japanese, chronic enemies of Russia and putative allies of Germany, would take advantage of Stalin’s major preoccupations and fall onto his rear by invading his eastern provinces, an area extraordinarily difficult to supply as the Tsar’s generals had found out in 1904.

            The hostility between the Japanese and the Russians culminated in the Russo-Japanese war which Russia lost. The public humiliation suffered by Russia was balanced by the elevation of Japan tom the status of a world power. The animosity between the two countries never abated and in July of 1938, an expansionist Japan, engaged in a savage war with the warlords of China, turned its attentions to Russia and attempted to seize land near the vital Soviet naval base at Vladivostok. The Soviets counterattacked and drove the Japanese back into their own territory. Undaunted, Japan attacked the Russians again in May 1939 and for four months a series of major battles were fought between the two countries. Finally, in late August, Soviet General Zhukov launched a powerful attack against the Japanese using nine divisions and 600 tanks. The Japanese were severely beaten and suffered a loss of 18,000 men and considerable aircraft.

            Following this embarrassing defeat, there was a movement in the Japanese high command to prepare for war against the Soviet Union. Japanese plans for a full scale attack on Vladivostok were shown to Hitler by Baron Oshima, Japan’s pro-German ambassador as early as March 1941. Hitler discussed the probability of these attack with members of his military entourage throughout the balance of the year. The Matsuoka referred to in the Roosevelt-Churchill intercept was Yosuke Matsuoka, a hardline anti-Soviet who had been dropped from the cabinet in July 1941 to placate the Russians. His return to power was certainly not out of the question.

            The major problem facing Roosevelt then is evident. Stalin was the lynchpin of the US-British policy. If Stalin fell, Hitler was certain to shatter Russia’s military establishment and this could not be allowed to happen. Roosevelt gave money to Stalin but could render no further assistance to the dictator without actually being at war with Germany. If the Japanese decided to a move against Stalin’s eastern territories, he would be fighting a two-front war and in all probability would be swiftly defeated.

            Roosevelt’s most urgent necessity was to prevent Japan from making any military moves against Russia. By applying diplomatic and economic pressure against Japan, Roosevelt hoped to distract them from a Russian adventure and encourage them to move, if move they did, in the opposite direction. The American President was safe in promoting this course of action because the United States had very little invested in the Far East with the exception of a few mid-Pacific islands and the Philippines which were slated for independence in 1948.

            The British, on the other hand, had a great deal invested in the Far East as Churchill pointed out. Roosevelt, who at that time held all the cards, brushed Churchill’s fear of loss of empire aside with the vague promise that lost territories could be recovered later. In actual fact, Roosevelt was a bitter opponent of the colonial systems extant at that time and had no intentions of giving any liberated former colonies back to their former masters.

            After the outbreak of the Second World War, both Australia and New Zealand had been asked by Churchill to supply troops for duty in North Africa. When it became a possibility that Japan might engage in hostilities in the Pacific, Churchill sought an opinion from his military experts as to the effectiveness of using British military forces to defend British holdings in the Pacific. The resulting report was extremely negative and Churchill decided that it would be an impossibility to reinforce the great British naval base at Singapore or assist in the defense of either Australia or New Zealand against Japanese aggression. Neither of these countries were to be supplied with a copy of  report and his subsequent decision to write them off, but a copy was sent out to the military commander of Singapore. Unfortunately, this report was sent by sea on the SS Automedon which was captured by the German commerce raider Atlantis. The secret Churchill report was forwarded to both the Japanese government and to Berlin. The foreknowledge that Britain could not and would not defend her interests in the Pacific was obviously of great interest to the Japanese.

            American pressure on Japan to prevent any attack on Russia is certainly the simplest answer to the complex welter of issues raised in the post-war years concerning the outbreak of the war in the Pacific. In reality, Roosevelt was completely successful in his matador’s movements to distract the Japanese bull. From a pragmatic point of view, he achieved his aims completely. There is no valid place in the compilation of history for moral issues. Morals and ethics are excellent norms but hardly effective techniques.

            The British Prime Minister was a man who was the greatest loser in the general end game that represented the Second World War. Frantic to save what was left of the decaying British Empire, he lived to witness its economic and geopolitical destruction. Roosevelt was the posthumous winner if the post-war preeminence of the United States is taken into account. Hitler vanished from the stage and his replacement, Stalin, created a hollow empire which eventually imploded. The Japanese rebuilt their shattered factories and emerged from the charred rubble of their homes to become a powerful world economic force. Their code of Bushido has been transferred from the battlefield to the boardroom and with far more success than they had implementing their Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.


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