“Do you think I don’t know these people? Do the math,” the Brave author added, with a nod to (Alyssa) Milano’s husband, Hollywood agent David Bugliari. “Who’s behind Time’s Up? CAA. Where do they meet? CAA? Who needs good PR? CAA. Who are part of the pimp problem? CAA.”

Rose McGowan on the #MeToo ‘movement’

Rose McGowan isn’t one to be silenced. The Charmed alum is sharing her opinion about the #MeToo movement, the survivors’ brunches and campaign lunches.

“It’s all bulls–t,” the 45-year-old activist told The Sunday Timesin an interview published on Sunday, October 7. “It’s a lie. It’s a Band-Aid lie to make them feel better.”

McGowan also revisited her thoughts on Meryl Streep. The 69-year-old actress had said in a December statement she knew nothing about Weinstein’s actions until last year, but McGowan told TheSunday Times she thinks it’s “literally impossible.”

Another thing McGowan has strong beliefs in? While she thinks Donald Trump supporters are wrong about most things, there’s one thing she can agree with them on.

“They hate Hollywood for being faux liberals — and they’re 100 percent right about that,” she explained. “It’s a bunch of faux liberals. It’s crap, and they know it is deep down, but they’re living an empty life, and to me that’s their punishment. They get to live the lives they live.”

McGowan has been open about her thoughts on other famous faces associated with the #MeToo movement, including her former Charmed costar Alyssa Milano, who re-launched the campaign hashtag in 2017. (#MeToo was originated by Tamara Burke in 2006.)

“I don’t like her,” McGowan said of the 45-year-old former Who’s The Boss? star during an interview with Nightline in January. “‘Cause I think she’s a lie.”

The Italian native went on to note that she doesn’t believe that Milano’s support of Time’s Up is genuine. “Do you think I don’t know these people? Do the math,” the Brave author added, with a nod to Milano’s husband, Hollywood agent David Bugliari. “Who’s behind Time’s Up? CAA. Where do they meet? CAA? Who needs good PR? CAA. Who are part of the pimp problem? CAA.”

Milano responded to McGowan’s comments following her Nightline interview.

“I am and always have been completely supportive of Rose and admire her bravery and speaking out about her experiences,” she said. “My goal throughout the past few months with both #MeToo and the TimesUp movement has been to use my platform to give others a voice so we can all work together to stamp out sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

“However, with stories circulating that (Sergei) Skripal had been briefing the Estonians on Russian secrets and maybe even helping the Ukrainians, a breach of the implicit deal behind the pardon he got from the Kremlin in 2010, Moscow would have wanted to let London know it was not amused”

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov

Russia’s military intelligence agency isn’t stupid

Six months after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent in the United Kingdom, details about the suspected killers are finally coming out. According to British prosecutors, the two men named as suspects belonged to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, which is the very agency Skripal worked for when he was a British spy. On the one hand, these alleged ties attest to the GRU’s aggressive agenda—something of which governments in the West should be wary. On the other hand, an excessive focus on this service, as well as an emerging narrative about its supposed clumsiness, is dangerous.

Details about the possible assassins started to come out on Sept. 5, when Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, named two Russians traveling under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the chief suspects. A massive investigation, in which some 250 detectives took more than 1,400 statements and scoured 11,000 hours of surveillance footage, had allowed the police to track the two men over a three-day stay in the United Kingdom. Police say they arrived on a flight from Moscow on the afternoon of Friday, March 2. The next day, they stayed at a London hotel, where they allegedly prepared the nerve agent, Novichok, used in the attack. And on Sunday, police say they traveled to Skripal’s residence in the city of Salisbury. An hour and a half after arriving, having anointed the door handle of his house with Novichok and discarded the fake perfume bottle in which it was being carried in a nearby park, the suspects were on a train back to the airport and on to Moscow.

Speaking in Parliament after the commissioner’s briefing, Prime Minister Theresa May said that the two men were GRU operatives, which she described as a “highly disciplined organization with a well-established chain of command.” Although she refrained from mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, the implication that he likely knew about Petrov and Boshirov’s plan was clear. “This was not a rogue operation,” May continued. “It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.”

In this, she is undoubtedly right. Although Russia’s various security services (and its other instruments of geopolitical struggle against the West) are granted considerable operational autonomy, major operations with potentially serious international implications need a green light from the Kremlin. Besides, there have been none of the usual indications—from mysterious resignations to well-sourced and damning leaks—which usually show that an individual or agency overstepped the mark. Whether Putin instigated the attack or, more likely, simply approved it, it was surely a state operation.

The fact of Putin’s likely involvement has led to a flurry of stories on the GRU: how it operates, why it exists, and why it got caught. But that focus, while perhaps understandable, is also problematic. The agency—which since 2010 has been technically named the Main Directorate of the General Staff, abbreviated in Russian as G.U., but is still universally known by its previous initials, GRU—has been named in the U.S. election interference investigation, blamed for an attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016, and even suspected of shooting down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine in 2014. Although the last is questionable—the GRU certainly helped create the Donbass rebellion and armed and directed warlords, but there is no evidence tying it to the actual decision to fire on the plane—the agency is undeniably active across the world.

It also has something of a reputation for taking chances other services would not. It controls the Spetsnaz, Russia’s special forces, and its intelligence officers pride themselves on having a military culture in which a mission must be accomplished, whatever the cost.

But the GRU is not alone. A different team, from either the SVR (Russia’s equivalent of the CIA) or the FSB (the domestic security service, which is increasingly active abroad), has also broken into Democratic Party servers. It was the SVR that ran the infamous “Illegals Program” that was spying in the United States and was busted by the FBI in 2010. Members of the FSB—arguably Putin’s closest allies—are involved in a global campaign of trolling and disinformation. That agency even kidnapped an Estonian security officer across the border in 2014.

In response to the assassination attempt on Skripal, the United Kingdom has vowed to step up its campaign against the GRU and pledged to “dismantle its networks” and unleash a cyber-campaign against its communications. This is fine—just part of the appropriate counterintelligence response to any agency launching attacks on another country’s soil. But the danger is that a narrow focus on the GRU takes away attention from other threats. The FSB and the SVR both have—and use—a license to kill, and they are both active in the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America. Targeting the GRU alone is a little like going after Petrov and Boshirov: launching a war to take out a few foot soldiers. The orders came from the Kremlin, and the GRU is just one of the tools as its disposal.

Even more worrying than a blinkered focus on the GRU is a new narrative emerging that paints the body’s operatives as a bunch of murderous morons. British Security Minister Ben Wallace, for example, drew parallels with a comedy movie spoof spook, calling this operation “more Johnny English than James Bond.” The fact that the Skripals survived, that the would-be assassins have allegedly been identified, and that an innocent bystander died from the discarded Novichok have all been cited to make this case.

Believing this would be a serious mistake. First of all, Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, did survive the attack, but only because of a combination of luck and the presence near Salisbury of the British government’s specialist military chemical weapons laboratory. It could very easily have gone differently.

Further, Moscow would have had no illusions about the fact that its operatives would in due course be identified, particularly in an age of ubiquitous surveillance cameras and travel visas. “Petrov” and “Boshirov” are certainly “legends,” that is, false identities created for this use and then discarded. The intrepid Russian investigative journalism site Fontanka has turned up some supposed details of the pair’s backstories, such as home addresses and past traffic fines. Tellingly, however, there is nothing to connect the two men who are suspected of carrying out the attacks to these details other than their names. It is likely that the assassins took the identities of innocent third parties or that the backstories were created from scratch precisely to make the men seem like real people.

The GRU’s ethos of completing the mission no matter what means that innocent lives lost or even the revelation of agents’ names are not blunders so much as irrelevancies. Indeed, given that this operation was likely as much about sending a message to London as killing one traitor, the furor may even be considered a feature rather than a bug.

If all the Russians had wanted to do was kill Skripal, then there were much easier, cheaper, and more discreet ways of doing so. However, with stories circulating that Skripal had been briefing the Estonians on Russian secrets and maybe even helping the Ukrainians, a breach of the implicit deal behind the pardon he got from the Kremlin in 2010, Moscow would have wanted to let London know it was not amused. The GRU used a Russian-made nerve agent—and one brewed in a specialist facility, not whipped up in a school lab—in order to ensure that while the Kremlin maintained a certain nod-and-a-wink deniability, there could be little serious doubt of who was responsible. All the while, Moscow’s apologists can say that the attack was “too obvious” for a real Russian operation, while the Kremlin can sit back knowing that the British government will know exactly who was involved. Mission accomplished.

Microwave weapons prime suspect in ills of Cuban US embassy workers…

Of course, this article tries to distance itself from our own military’s use of these same type of weapons and no mention of the CIA’s own MK Ultra program

During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control.

More recently, the American military itself sought to develop microwave arms that could invisibly beam painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people’s heads. The aims were to disable attackers and wage psychological warfare.

Now, doctors and scientists say such unconventional weapons may have caused the baffling symptoms and ailments that, starting in late 2016, hit more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The Cuban incidents resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington.

The medical team that examined 21 affected diplomats from Cuba made no mention of microwaves in its detailed report published in JAMA in March. But Douglas H. Smith, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent interview that microwaves were now considered a main suspect and that the team was increasingly sure the diplomats had suffered brain injury.

“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,” he said, “and everyone now agrees there’s something there.” Dr. Smith remarked that the diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the immaculate concussion.

Strikes with microwaves, some experts now argue, more plausibly explain reports of painful sounds, ills and traumas than do other possible culprits — sonic attacks, viral infections and contagious anxiety.

In particular, a growing number of analysts cite an eerie phenomenon known as the Frey effect, named after Allan H. Frey, an American scientist. Long ago, he found that microwaves can trick the brain into perceiving what seem to be ordinary sounds.

The false sensations, the experts say, may account for a defining symptom of the diplomatic incidents — the perception of loud noises, including ringing, buzzing and grinding. Initially, experts cited those symptoms as evidence of stealthy attacks with sonic weapons.

Members of Jason, a secretive group of elite scientists that helps the federal government assess new threats to national security, say it has been scrutinizing the diplomatic mystery this summer and weighing possible explanations, including microwaves.

Asked about the microwave theory of the case, the State Department said the investigation had yet to identify the cause or source of the attacks. And the F.B.I. declined to comment on the status of the investigation or any theories.

The microwave idea teems with unanswered questions. Who fired the beams? The Russian government? The Cuban government? A rogue Cuban faction sympathetic to Moscow? And, if so, where did the attackers get the unconventional arms?

At his home outside Washington, Mr. Frey, the scientist who uncovered the neural phenomenon, said federal investigators have questioned him on the diplomatic riddle and that microwave radiation is considered a possible cause.

Mr. Frey, now 83, has traveled widely and long served as a contractor and a consultant to a number of federal agencies. He speculated that Cubans aligned with Russia, the nation’s longtime ally, might have launched microwave strikes in attempts to undermine developing ties between Cuba and the United States.

“It’s a possibility,” he said at his kitchen table. “In dictatorships, you often have factions that think nothing of going against the general policy if it suits their needs. I think that’s a perfectly viable explanation.”

Developing a new class of weapons

Microwaves are ubiquitous in modern life. The short radio waves power radars, cook foods, relay messages and link cellphones to antenna towers. They’re a form of electromagnetic radiation on the same spectrum as light and X-rays, only at the opposite end.

While radio broadcasting can employ waves a mile or more in length, microwaves range in size from roughly a foot to a tiny fraction of an inch. They’re seen as harmless in such everyday uses as microwaving foods. But their diminutive size also enables tight focusing, as when dish antennas turn disorganized rays into concentrated beams.

The dimensions of the human head, scientists say, make it a fairly good antenna for picking up microwave signals.

Mr. Frey, a biologist, said he stumbled on the acoustic effect in 1960 while working for General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University. A man who measured radar signals at a nearby G.E. facility came up to him at a meeting and confided that he could hear the beam’s pulses — zip, zip, zip.

Intrigued, Mr. Frey traveled to the man’s workplace in Syracuse and positioned himself in a radar beam. “Lo,” he recalled, “I could hear it, too.”

Mr. Frey’s resulting papers — reporting that even deaf people could hear the false sounds — founded a new field of study on radiation’s neural impacts. Mr. Frey’s first paper, in 1961, reported that power densities 160 times lower than “the standard maximum safe level for continuous exposure” could induce the sonic delusions.

His second paper, in 1962, pinpointed the brain’s receptor site as the temporal lobes, which extend beneath the temples. Each lobe bears a small region — the auditory cortex — that processes nerve signals from the outer and inner ears.

Investigators raced to confirm and extend Mr. Frey’s findings. At first they named the phenomenon after him, but eventually called it the microwave auditory effect and, in time, more generally, radio-frequency hearing.

The Soviets took notice. Not long after his initial discoveries, Mr. Frey said, he was invited by the Soviet Academy of Sciences to visit and lecture. Toward the end, in a surprise, he was taken outside Moscow to a military base surrounded by armed guards and barbed-wire fences.

“They had me visiting the various labs and discussing the problems,” including the neural impacts of microwaves, Mr. Frey recalled. “I got an inside look at their classified program.”

Moscow was so intrigued by the prospect of mind control that it adopted a special terminology for the overall class of envisioned arms, calling them psychophysical and psychotronic.

Soviet research on microwaves for “internal sound perception,” the Defense Intelligence Agency warned in 1976, showed great promise for “disrupting the behavior patterns of military or diplomatic personnel.”

Furtively, globally, the threat grew.

The National Security Agency gave Mark S. Zaid, a Washington lawyer who routinely gets security clearances to discuss classified matters, a statement on how a foreign power built a weapon “designed to bathe a target’s living quarters in microwaves, causing numerous physical effects, including a damaged nervous system.”

Mr. Zaid said a N.S.A.client of his who traveled there watched in disbelief as his nervous system later unraveled, starting with control of his fingers.

Washington, too, foresaw new kinds of arms.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Air Force scientists sought to beam comprehensible speech into the heads of adversaries. Their novel approach won a patent in 2002, and an update in 2003. Both were assigned to the Air Force secretary, helping limit the idea’s dissemination.

The lead inventor said the research team had “experimentally demonstrated” that the “signal is intelligible.” As for the invention’s uses, an Air Force disclosure form listed the first application as “Psychological Warfare.”

The Navy sought to paralyze. The Frey effect was to induce sounds powerful enough to cause painful discomfort and, if needed, leave targets unable to move. The weapon, the Navy noted, would have a “low probability of fatalities or permanent injuries.”

In a twist, the 2003 contract was awarded to microwave experts who had emigrated to the United States from Russia and Ukraine.

It is unknown if Washington deploys such arms. But the Pentagon built a related weapon known as the Active Denial System, hailing it in a video. It fires an invisible beam meant to deter mobs and attackers with fiery sensations.

Russia, China and many European states are seen as having the know-how to make basic microwave weapons that can debilitate, sow noise or even kill. Advanced powers, experts say, might accomplish more nuanced aims such as beaming spoken words into people’s heads. Only intelligence agencies know which nations actually possess and use such unfamiliar arms.

The basic weapon might look like a satellite dish. In theory, such a device might be hand-held or mounted in a van, car, boat or helicopter. Microwave arms are seen as typically working over relatively short distances — across the length of a few rooms or blocks. High-powered ones might be able to fire beams across several football fields, or even for several miles.

The episode in Cuba

The Soviet collapse in 1991 cut Russia’s main ties to Cuba, a longtime ally just 90 miles from the United States. The shaky economy forced Moscow to stop providing Havana with large amounts of oil and other aid.

Vladimir Putin, as Russia’s president and prime minister, sought to recover the economic, political and strategic clout that the Soviets had lost. In December 2000, months after the start of his first presidential term, Mr. Putin flew to the island nation. It was the first visit by a Soviet or Russian leader since the Cold War.

He also sought to resurrect Soviet work on psychoactive arms. In 2012, he declared that Russia would pursue “new instruments for achieving political and strategic goals,” including psychophysical weapons.

In July 2014, Mr. Putin again visited Cuba. This time he brought a gift — the cancellation of some $30 billion in Cuban debt. The two nations signed a dozen accords.

A Russian spy ship, Viktor Leonov, docked in Havana on the eve of the beginning of reconciliation talks between Cuba and the United States in early 2015, and did so again in subsequent years. Moscow and Havana grew so close that in late 2016, the two nations signed a sweeping pact on defense and technology cooperation.

As a candidate, Donald Trump faulted the Obama administration’s normalization policy as “a very weak agreement” and threatened to scrap it on reaching the White House. Weeks after he won the election, in late November 2016, the American embassy in Havana found itself battling a mysterious crisis.

Diplomats and their families recounted high-pitched sounds in homes and hotel rooms at times intense enough to incapacitate. Long-term, the symptoms included nausea, crushing headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems and hearing loss.

The State Department filed diplomatic protests, and the Cuban government denied involvement. In May, the F.B.I. opened an investigation and its agents began visiting Havana a half year after the incidents began. The last major one hit that summer, in August, giving the agents relatively little time to gather clues.

In September 2017, the Trump administration warned travelers away from Cuba and ordered home roughly half the diplomatic personnel.

Rex W. Tillerson, who was then the secretary of state, said the embassy’s staff had been targeted deliberately. But he refrained from blaming Cuba, and federal officials held out the possibility that a third party may have been responsible.

In early October, President Trump expelled 15 Cuban diplomats, producing a chill between the nations. Administration critics said the White House was using the health issue as a pretext to end President Barack Obama’s reconciliation policy.

The day after the expulsions, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a closed, top secret hearing on the Cuba situation. Three State Department officials testified, as did an unnamed senior official of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Hypothesis

Early this year, in January, the spooky impact of microwaves on the human brain never came up during an open Senate hearing on the Cuba crisis.

But in a scientific paper that same month, James C. Lin of the University of Illinois, a leading investigator of the Frey effect, described the diplomatic ills as plausibly arising from microwave beams. Dr. Lin is the editor-in-chief of Bio Electro Magnetics, a peer-reviewed journal that explores the effects of radio waves and electromagnetic fields on living things.

In his paper, he said high-intensity beams of microwaves could have caused the diplomats to experience not just loud noises but nausea, headaches and vertigo, as well as possible brain-tissue injury. The beams, he added, could be fired covertly, hitting “only the intended target.”

In February, ProPublica in a lengthy investigation mentioned that federal investigators were weighing the microwave theory. Separately, it told of an intriguing find. The wife of a member of the embassy staff, it reported, had looked outside her home after hearing the disturbing sounds and seen a van speeding away.

A dish antenna could fit easily into a small van.

The medical team that studied the Cuba diplomats ascribed the symptoms in the March JAMA study to “an unknown energy source” that was highly directional. Some personnel, it noted, had covered their ears and heads but experienced no sound reduction. The team said the diplomats appeared to have developed signs of concussion without having received any blows to the head.

In May, reports emerged that American diplomats in China had suffered similar traumas. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the medical details of the two groups “very similar” and “entirely consistent” with one another. By late June, the State Department had evacuated at least 11 Americans from China.

To date, the most detailed medical case for microwave strikes has been made by Beatrice A. Golomb, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. In a forthcoming paper to be published in October in Neural Computation, a peer-reviewed journal of the MIT Press, she lays out potential medical evidence for Cuban microwave strikes.

She compared the symptoms of the diplomats in Cuba to those reported for individuals said to be suffering from radio-frequency sickness. The health responses of the two groups, Dr. Golomb wrote, “conform closely.”

In closing, she argued that “numerous highly specific features” of the diplomatic incidents “fit the hypothesis” of a microwave attack, including the Frey-type production of disturbing sounds.

Scientists still disagree over what hit the diplomats. Last month, JAMA ran four letters critical of the March study, some faulting the report for ruling out mass hysteria.

But Mr. Zaid, the Washington lawyer, who represents eight of the diplomats and family members, said microwave attacks may have injured his clients.

“It’s sort of naïve to think this just started now,” he said. Globally, he added, covert strikes with the potent beams appear to have been going on for decades.

Francisco Palmieri, a State Department official, was asked during the open Senate hearing if “attacks against U.S. personnel in Cuba” had been raised with Moscow.

“That is a very good question,” Mr. Palmieri replied. But addressing it, he added, would require “a classified setting.”

For his part, Mr. Frey says he doubts the case will be solved anytime soon. The novelty of the crisis, its sporadic nature and the foreign setting made it hard for federal investigators to gather clues and draw conclusions, he said, much less file charges.

“Based on what I know,” he remarked, “it will remain a mystery.”

Making a murderer (Politically profitable)…

Cristhian Rivera

Tim Wise article

It’s pretty much a collective mantra by now, recited by black folks whenever a horrible crime is announced anywhere in America, but before the identity of the perpetrator is known.

“Dear God, don’t let him be black.”

Indeed, it has become something of a punchline to a joke, albeit one that is only humorous in the most tragic of ways.

Knowing how readily crimes committed by those with surplus melanin come to be seen as connected to said melanin, black folk have learned to pray for whiteness as a modifier of any crime about which they hear on TV, in the hopes that they may gain respite from the disparaging gaze of white America, so often cast towards them for anything one of theirs might do.

And now, as the nation’s demographic browning proceeds apace — the source of so much angst from the likes of Laura Ingraham — a second stanza can perhaps be added to the race-based prayers of the non-white in times of tragedy: namely, Dear God, don’t let him be undocumented.

Even before the revelation that missing University of Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts was apparently murdered by Cristhian Rivera — a Mexican national in the country illegally — anti-immigrant hysteria had already been disturbingly normalized by the perpetually overheated rhetoric of the president.

But whatever the political benefit of Trump’s previous harangues against “rapists and drug dealers” ostensibly pouring across the border (or the unintentional killing of Kate Steinle at the hands of an undocumented migrant who fired a gun on a San Francisco Pier) it’s hard to top the latest case for its exploitability in the service of opportunistic xenophobia.

With the vicious murder of Tibbetts, we have a conventionally attractive white woman chased down, killed, and disposed of like garbage in a small Midwestern town by the kind of guy who stars nightly in the fever dreams of those who chant “build that wall” at Trump rallies.

The politicization of the tragedy was almost immediate of course, no doubt in part to distract from the ongoing revelations of illegality and corruption at the heart of Trump’s inner circle, but also because the right is increasingly tethered to an unvarnished racial nationalism fueled by white fear.

To wit, Senator Tom Cotton who tweeted, “Mollie would be alive if our government had taken immigration enforcement seriously years ago.”

Well sure, perhaps. And by the same token, if Terry Melcher had thought more fondly of Charles Manson’s songwriting, Sharon Tate might still be with us too. But even if true, neither observation offers much in the way of comfort or relevance.

Ultimately all the “what ifs” about what might have been prevented if we’d just built the wall or gotten tougher on immigration does nothing for anyone except pundits and politicians. The uselessness of this kind of speculation is probably among the reasons why the Tibbetts family has blasted those who would use her death to excuse their bigotry. Even in their grief they have the class and foresight to realize that sometimes horrible things just happen, and all the retrospective thought experiments in the world aren’t worth the time it takes to formulate them.

After all, such mental gymnastics eventually devolve into an infinite regression of absurdist guesswork, and it’s a game anyone can play. So here’s my version:

If we’d had a policy to euthanize every other male child born in the U.S. over the last forty years, the crime rate would have plummeted, and tens of thousands of murder victims’ lives would have been spared given the disproportionate rate at which men kill. Oh, and given that for every white woman like Tibbetts who’s killed by a man of color there are between 4 and 5 others killed by white guys, just think how many such women we could have saved with this preventative policy, even if applied only to white men alone.

Yeah, somehow I’m guessing Tom Cotton wouldn’t much like that one.

But again, none of this really helps things now. We can’t replay the past. As for the future, clamoring for the wall because that would stop killings like that of Tibbetts is shortsighted on multiple levels.

Anyone who really thinks a wall on the southern border is feasible has never been to the border. Even if it could be built there would be multiple places along the length of it that would remain unsecured, and it’s not as if there would be armed guards posted every few feet to stop those attempting to scale it.

Oh, and tunnels.

Additionally, there are already about 11 million people in the country who are undocumented. Although only a small percentage are likely to commit a violent crime, the wall obviously can’t do much to stop them now that they’re here. And since you typically won’t know who the violent ones are until after their crime is committed, the notion that you can prevent them from victimizing folks ahead of time presumes you can find them, round them up, and send them all out of the country. So pretty much cattle cars and night-raids and other totalitarian tactics that would render America undesirable as a place not only for immigrants but anyone else enamored of liberty.

In short, complete protection from tragedies like this, even were it possible, would require the forfeiture of anything approximating a free society. It would no doubt result in the profiling of millions of people who merely speak Spanish, have brown skin, or “appear” foreign to the self-appointed monitors of Americanism. If the Trump cultists think this is a price worth paying (as they likely would) it can only owe to a hatred of national principles even greater than their contempt for brown folks.

The irony being, not only would such an approach sacrifice American values but also the very safety for which so many clamor. For as it turns out, communities with higher percentages of so-called “illegals” actually have lower violent crime rates than communities with fewer of them. Not that pesky things like facts matter much to the Trumpkins, for whom the presence of signs in Spanish is proof that the apocalypse draws nigh.

Nor, for that matter, consistency, as we wouldn’t see comparable group-blaming rants from politicians or White Twitter if the racial dynamics in the instant case were less useful for the right. If Mollie Tibbetts’s killer had been an Iowa farm boy, fresh off an 8-day meth binge or strung out on Fentanyl, no one would be talking about it, the president wouldn’t care, and none would be arguing for a race-specific crackdown on corn-fed Lutherans from Cedar Falls.

Indeed if the racial dynamics had been different — like a white man killing a black woman, as happened to Nia Wilson on a transit platform in Oakland — Trumplandia wouldn’t be saying anything about it at all. So too with a white guy that kills his whole family in Colorado. Every bit as tragic, but nowhere near as politically serviceable, and so…crickets.

With the perfidious politicization of Mollie Tibbetts’s death, Trump and his zombified minions insult the memory of the dead — who, according to those who knew her would be horrified by the misuse of her death to serve a racist agenda — and cast a pall over the nation’s future. They seek to ensure a safety that can never be wholly vouchsafed, but the pursuit of which will trample what remains of the decency that we’ve long insisted made our nation special, even when we didn’t follow through, and even when we violated our precepts time and again.

But now we have millions who would sacrifice all of that — due process, equal protection and the compassion that recognizes the value of human beings no matter their place of origin — all in the name of a safety they will never enjoy, no matter how many they harm, detain, deport, imprison or kill.

What they desire is an American version of Lebensraum no less contemptibly inhumane than the original. And like its predecessor, it is equally deserving of being denied to all those who seek it.

“[I’m] sure your parents never imagine[d] they’d raise a son who [would] destroy the housing market in the richest nation on the planet.”

RBS bankers joked about destroying the US housing market before 2008

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bankers joked about destroying the US housing market and senior staff described the loans they were trading as “total f***** garbage,” according to transcripts released by the US Department of Justice.

Email and call transcripts in a DOJ report released on August 10 as part of a $4.9 billion settlement with RBS show the bank’s chief credit officer in the US said the loans they were selling were “all disguised to, you know, look okay kind of … in a data file.”

He went on to say that the products being sold were “total f****** garbage” loans with “fraud [that] was so rampant … [and] all random.”

The US Department of Justice criticized the bank for its conduct and trade in residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), which played a central role in the crisis.

The DOJ said the bank made “false and misleading representations” to sell more RMBS, adding that senior executives “showed little regard for their misconduct and, internally, made light of it.”

When the contagion in the housing market became clear, the head trader at RBS got a call from a friend who said: “[I’m] sure your parents never imagine[d] they’d raise a son who [would] destroy the housing market in the richest nation on the planet.”

“I take exception to the word ‘destroy.’ I am more comfortable with ‘severely damage,'” he replied.

The bank disguised the risks to investors while making hundreds of millions from a housing market that a senior RBS banker described as broken, incentivising bad loans that meant lenders were “raking in the money.”

Employees who might raise the alarm about the risky practices “don’t give a s*** because they’re not getting paid,” he said.

The transcripts reveal that as the banking system started showing signs of break-down by early October 2007. The chief credit officer at RBS wrote to colleagues saying that loans were being pushed by “every possible … style of scumbag,” and it was “like quasi-organised crime.”

“Nobody seems to care,” he said.

A senior bank analyst at RBS also described the bank’s due diligence process on loans as “just a bunch of bullsh**,” according to the DOJ.

In May 2018 RBS chief Ross McEwan said the deal with the DOJ to end the investigation was a milestone for the bank. “Our current shareholders will be very pleased this deal is done. It does help the government sell a cleaner bank,” he said.