Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative November 2016 news and views
Unz Review, Political Science’s “Theory of Everything,” David Chibo, Nov. 30, 2016. The 7 “Blind” men and the US Elephant. The famous Indian story of the Blind Men and the Elephant is a metaphor highlighting that while one’s subjective experience can be true, it can also be limited by its failure to account for other truths or a totality of truth. A similar metaphor can be used to try to explain the hidden forces guiding the US Government
From 1975 to 1976, the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House attempted unsuccessfully to curtail the power of US intelligence agencies. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in particular, was investigated to see if it was a “rogue elephant” or under strict control of the President and the executive branch. However, besides some damning revelations outlined in the “whitewashed” report and some minor oversight changes, the “rogue elephant” was allowed to roam free.
Truthout, The No-BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Recount, Greg Palast, Nov. 30, 2016. Greg Palast (shown in a file photo) investigated vote suppression in the 2016 election for Rolling Stone. The film of his investigation, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, was released by Cinema Libre Studios in September.
There’s been so much complete nonsense since I first broke the news that the Green Party would file for a recount of the presidential vote, I am compelled to write a short guide to flush out the BS and get to just the facts, ma’am.
Nope, they’re not hunting for Russian hackers. To begin with, the main work of the recount hasn’t a damn thing to do with finding out if the software programs for the voting machines have been hacked, whether by Putin’s agents or some guy in a cave flipping your vote from Hillary to The Donald. The Green team does not yet even have the right to get into the codes. But that’s just not the core of the work
The nasty little secret of US elections, is that we don’t count all the votes. In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — and all over America — there were a massive number of votes that were simply rejected, invalidated, and spoiled. They were simply, not counted. Officially, in a typical presidential election, at least three million votes end up rejected, often for picayune, absurd reasons. The rejects fall into three big categories: provisional ballots rejected, absentee and mail-in ballots invalidated and in-precinct votes “spoiled,” spit out by a machine or thrown out by a human reader as unreadable or mis-marked.
So, as Robert Fitrakis, lead lawyer for the recount tells me, their first job is to pull the votes out of the electoral dumpster—and, one by one, make the case for counting a rejected provisional, absentee or “spoiled” ballot. How does a vote spoil? Most fall in the categories of “over-votes” and “under-votes.”
Bloomberg, Trump’s New Finance Chief Cashed Out Madoff Ponzi Profits, Erik Larson, Donald Trump’s new national finance chairman and his family pocketed about $3.2 million in fake profit from his mother’s account with convicted con man Bernard Madoff — money that didn’t have to be returned to victims because it was taken out of the Ponzi scheme in time.
Steven Mnuchin, a business associate of Trump’s and also chairman and chief executive officer of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management LP, was sued in 2010 by a trustee seeking to recoup Madoff investors’ losses from customers who’d withdrawn more money from his firm than they put in.
Mnuchin was named to the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign on Thursday. The suit against the hedge fund manager was dropped last year because of time restrictions imposed on the Madoff trustee, Irving Picard, in a ruling that allowed hundreds of customers to keep about $2 billion in stolen money.
Washington Post, Donald Trump tweets that he will leave his business ‘in total’ to focus on presidency, Drew Harwell, Nov. 30, 2016. It remained unclear whether the move would include a full sale of Trump’s stake or, as he has offered before, a ceding of company management to his children, which ethics advisers have said would not resolve worries over conflicts of interest. The president-elect is shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore.
Barrett Brown, shown in graphic by Anonymous, helped publicize a plot by U.S. security contractors to work with banks to ruin targeted journalists and governments
Southfront, ‘Sniffers & Taps on Journalists,’ WikiLeaks Publishes New Leaked Emails, Staff report, Nov. 30, 2016. Thousands of leaked emails from a US cybersecurity contractor, which discussed targeting journalists and governments, have been published by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks published thousands of leaked emails from a US cybersecurity contractor, which discussed targeting journalists and governments, in order to mark the release of Texas journalist Barrett Brown, who spent almost two years in federal prison for his work in reporting on the HBGary leaks and the 2012 hack of the private intelligence company Stratfor.
Counterpunch, The CIA and the Press: When the Washington Post Ran the CIA’s Propaganda Network, Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, Nov. 30, 2016. (This article is adapted from our book End Times: the Death of the Fourth Estate.) Last week, the Washington Post published a scurrilous piece by a heretofore obscure technology reporter named Craig Timberg, alleging without the faintest evidence that Russian intelligence was using more than 200 independent news sites to pump out pro-Putin and anti-Clinton propaganda during the election campaign.
Under the breathless headline, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Timberg concocted his story based on allegations from a vaporous group called ProporNot, run by nameless individuals of unknown origin, whom Timberg (cribbing from the Bob Woodward stylesheet) agreed to quote as anonymous sources. ProporNot’s catalogue of supposed Putin-controlled outlets reeks of the McCarthyite smears of the Red Scare era. The blacklist includes some of the most esteemed alternative news sites on the web, including Anti-war.com, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Consortium News, Truthout, Lew Rockwell.com, Global Research, Unz.com, Zero Hedge and, yes, CounterPunch, among many others. I’ll have more on Timberg and ProporNot in my Friday column.
In the meantime, here is a brief historical note on how at the height of the Cold War the CIA developed it’s very own stable of writers, editors and publishers (swelling to as many as 3,000 individuals) that it paid to scribble Agency propaganda under a program called Operation Mockingbird. The disinformation network was supervised by the late Philip Graham, former publisher of Timberg’s very own paper, the Washington Post.
Craig Timberg’s story, which was about as substantial as anonymous slurs scrawled on a bathroom stall, lends rise to the suspicion that the Post may still be a player in the same old game it perfected in the 1950s and continued across the decades culminating in its 1996 hatchet-job on my old friend Gary Webb and his immaculate reporting on drug-running by the CIA-backed contras in the 1980s. The Post’s disgusting assault on Webb was spearheaded, in part, by the paper’s intelligence reporter Walter Pincus, himself an old CIA hand.
For Timberg, this was probably just another day at the office: fling some red slurs on the wall and see what sticks before moving on to his next big tech scoop (courtesy of hot tips from a couple of anonymous teenagers in Cupertino) on software glitches in the i-Phone 7.
For the subjects of hit-and-run journalism such as this, however, it’s often a different matter entirely. In Webb’s case, the Post’s deplorable and baseless attacks killed his career as an investigative reporter and sparked a spiraling depression that ended with Gary taking his own life. Although the CIA’s own inspector general, Frederick Hitz, later confirmed Webb’s reporting, the Post never retracted its slanderous stories or apologized for ruining the life of one of the country’s finest and most courageous journalists. Now it appears that the paper is circling round for yet another drive-by.
Almost from its founding in 1947, the CIA had journalists on its payroll, a fact acknowledged in ringing tones by the Agency in its announcement in 1976 when G.H.W. Bush took over from William Colby that “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any US news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.”
Newsweek election covers; Special editions prepared under the Newsweek banner for Election Night
NBC News, ‘Madam President’ Newsweek Copies for Sale Online — But Buyer Beware, Alex Johnson, Nov. 30, 2016. Newsweek published 125,000 copies of a $10.99 commemorative magazine with Clinton’s picture on the cover and the headline “Madam President.” Those copies were quickly recalled — but hundreds of copies are still being offered for sale in online markets, for prices as low as 99 cents to as high as $9,995.
Washington Post, Lifelong Beltway media guy Jim VandeHei calls media a ‘scam,’ Erik Wemple, Nov. 30, 2016. There has never been a better time to staff Axios. The news site, after all, will begin work at the same time as a new Donald Trump administration takes power. Though tracking the president-elect’s policy positions is a challenge, he vowed a shakeup of Washington and at one point vowed to eliminate 70 percent of federal regulations (an adviser put the target at 10 percent).
RT, UN ruling to free WikiLeaks’ Assange to stand after British appeal rejected, Staff report, Nov. 30, 2016. The United Nations has rejected a UK appeal against its previous ruling in favor of Julian Assange as “inadmissible,” thus requiring both London and Stockholm to end the WikiLeaks founder’s “arbitrary detention.” Earlier this year, a case was concluded at the UN, in which the body instructed the UK and Sweden to take immediate steps to ensure the WikiLeaks founder’s liberty, protection and enjoyment of fundamental human rights. The UK has appealed the ruling twice, with the UN rejecting its second appeal on Wednesday by pronouncing it “not admissible,” Justice for Assange reported, adding that the decision marks the end to London’s “attempt to overturn the ruling.”
Reuters via Huffington Post, Syrian Rebels Vow To Resist Army Advances In Aleppo, Angus McDowall and Tom Perry, (video). Nov. 30, 2016. For the mostly Sunni rebel groups, the fall of Aleppo would deprive them of their last big foothold in a major Syrian city.
Anti-Empire Report, What can go wrong? William Blum, Nov. 30, 2016. That he [Trump] may not be “qualified” is unimportant. That he’s never held a government or elected position is unimportant. That on a personal level he may be a shmuck is unimportant.
What counts to me mainly at this early stage is that he – as opposed to dear Hillary – is unlikely to start a war against Russia. His questioning of the absolute sacredness of NATO, calling it “obsolete”, and his meeting with Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, an outspoken critic of US regime-change policy, specifically Syria, are encouraging signs. Even more so is his appointment of General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser. Flynn dined last year in Moscow with Vladimir Putin at a gala celebrating RT (Russia Today), the Russian state’s English-language, leftist-leaning TV channel. Flynn now carries the stigma in the American media as an individual who does not see Russia or Putin as the devil. It is truly remarkable how nonchalantly American journalists can look upon the possibility of a war with Russia, even a nuclear war.
I think American influence under Trump could also inspire a solution to the bloody Russia-Ukraine crisis, which is the result of the US overthrow of the democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014 to further advance the US/NATO surrounding of Russia; after which he could end the US-imposed sanctions against Russia, which hardly anyone in Europe benefits from or wants; and then – finally! – an end to the embargo against Cuba. What a day for celebration that will be! Too bad that Fidel won’t be around to enjoy it.
Sputnik, ‘My Life as a Putin Stooge’: Paul Craig Roberts Expertly Trolls Feds, WashPo, Evgeny Biyatov, Nov. 30, 2016. Paul Craig Roberts, who served as the US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy in the Ronald Reagan administration, has asked President Vladimir Putin for a Russian passport in a tongue-in-cheek opinion post published in response to a recent article in the Washington Post on so-called Russian propaganda. “Now that CIA agent Craig Timberg posing as a Washington Post reporter has blown my cover and exposed me as a Russian agent, I was wondering if I might ask you for a Russian passport and a bit of diplomatic cover,” he said with irony, referring to the Post’s national technology reporter.
Washington Post, Trump picks Rep. Tom Price, a fierce Obamacare critic, as health and human services secretary, Amy Goldstein and Philip Rucker, Nov. 29, 2016. The Georgia congressman, a surgeon who chairs the House Budget Committee, would be the incoming administration’s point person for dismantling the sprawling 2010 health-care law, which Trump promised to start replacing on his first day in office. he is shown in a file photo.
AP via CBS, Donald Trump’s HHS pick favors dismantling Obamacare, privatizing Medicare, Staff report, Nov. 29, 2016. Reaching deep into conservative territory, President-elect Donald Trump chose Georgia Rep. Tom Price to oversee the nation’s health care system on Tuesday, picking a fierce “Obamacare” critic who also has championed efforts to privatize Medicare. Trump selected another veteran Republican, Elaine Chao, to lead the Department of Transportation. Both have long ties to Washington.
Price, picked to lead the Department of Health and Human Services after more than a decade in Congress, helped craft House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare — a position Trump opposed in the campaign. Chao, who was the first Asian-American woman to serve in a president’s Cabinet, is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump announced his choice of Price, while the selection of Chao was confirmed by a person with knowledge of the decision but not authorized to speak publicly.
As conservatives largely praised Tuesday’s picks, Price’s selection raised questions about the incoming president’s commitment to Medicare, among other popular entitlement programs he repeatedly vowed to preserve before the election. The Georgia congressman led GOP efforts on Capitol Hill to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system, a change that if enacted, would likely dramatically reduce government spending on the health care program that serves an estimated 48 million elderly and another 9 million disabled people.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Reportedly Picks Elaine Chao To Lead Department Of Transportation, Igor Bobic, Nov. 29, 2016. She previously served as deputy transportation secretary under George H.W. Bush. Chao, 63, has a substantial record of government service and would be a conventional choice to lead the department.
She previously served as secretary of labor from 2001 to 2009, becoming first Asian-American woman in U.S. history to be granted a Cabinet position. Her experience also includes stints as deputy transportation secretary under former President George H.W. Bush, chair of the Federal Maritime Commission and director of the Peace Corps. Chao is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is, along with his fellow senators, responsible for confirming the president’s Cabinet appointments. Chao would be the second person in history to lead the Labor and Transportation departments while being married to a Senate majority leader. Elizabeth Dole, wife of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, holds the same distinction.
Washington Post, Trump unswayed by loyalists’ revolt over Romney as possible State pick, Philip Rucker and John Wagner, Nov. 29, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump continues to see Mitt Romney as a serious contender for secretary of state, according to several people briefed on the deliberations. But some of Trump’s top advisers and loyalists balk at giving the diplomatic post to one of his fiercest Republican antagonists.
Washington Post, The election really was rigged, Dana Milbank, Nov. 29, 2016. A voting scandal of epic proportion tilted this election. The scam involved millions of people.
Millions of would-be voters didn’t participate because of obstacles designed to discourage them. The hurdles were, thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act, largely legal. And they arguably suppressed enough minority voters to cost Clinton the election.
Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, and 20 have had such restrictions put in place since 2010, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a group that opposes such laws. These include strict photo-ID requirements, cutbacks in early voting and new restrictions on registration. Other states are resisting efforts that would make voting easier with same-day, online and motor-voter registration.
No, I’m not talking about the recount the Clinton campaign joined in Wisconsin and may seek in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton and her aides were correct before, when they said voting fraud is rare. The recounts won’t change the election’s outcome. And after rightly criticizing Donald Trump for saying he might not honor the election results, Clinton and her aides, who admit they have no evidence of skullduggery, risk looking hypocritical.
Washington Post, Trump team reaches deal with a manufacturer to keep hundreds of jobs from going to Mexico, Jim Tankersley and Danielle Paquette, Nov. 29, 2016. Carrier, an Indiana-based manufacturer of air conditioners, said that it has reached an agreement with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence that will keep close to 1,000 jobs in the state. President-elect Donald Trump scored a victory Tuesday night when Carrier, an Indiana-based manufacturing company that had announced plans to move 1,400 jobs to Mexico, said it would keep 1,000 jobs in the state.
Trump and his vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will travel to the state this week to celebrate the decision, a Trump transition official said. “We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy,” the company said in a Twitter post. While Trump is certain to celebrate the announcement as fulfilling his promise to keep jobs in the U.S. and rebuild American manufacturing, many questions remained open about the deal Tuesday night. It was unclear whether 1,000 new jobs were being saved in the U.S. or whether that figure included 400 jobs the company agreed to preserve earlier this year under pressure from Indiana officials.
Corporate Media’s Campaign Against “Fake News” On Internet
Rolling Stone, The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting, Matt Taibbi, Nov. 28, 2016. The capital’s paper of record crashes legacy media on an iceberg. Last week, a technology reporter for the Washington Post named Craig Timberg ran an incredible story. It has no analog that I can think of in modern times. Headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say, the piece promotes the work of a shadowy group that smears some 200 alternative news outlets as either knowing or unwitting agents of a foreign power, including popular sites like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism.
The thrust of Timberg’s astonishingly lazy report is that a Russian intelligence operation of some kind was behind the publication of a “hurricane” of false news reports during the election season, in particular stories harmful to Hillary Clinton. The piece referenced those 200 websites as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”
The piece relied on what it claimed were “two teams of independent researchers,” but the citing of a report by the longtime anticommunist Foreign Policy Research Institute was really window dressing. The meat of the story relied on a report by unnamed analysts from a single mysterious “organization” called PropOrNot – we don’t know if it’s one person or, as it claims, over 30 – a “group” that seems to have been in existence for just a few months.
It was PropOrNot’s report that identified what it calls “the list” of 200 offending sites. Outlets as diverse as AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute were described as either knowingly directed by Russian intelligence, or “useful idiots” who unwittingly did the bidding of foreign masters. Forget that the Post offered no information about the “PropOrNot” group beyond that they were “a collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”
What this apparently means is that if you published material that meets their definition of being “useful” to the Russian state, you could be put on the “list,” and “warrant further scrutiny.” Forget even that in its Twitter responses to criticism of its report, PropOrNot sounded not like a group of sophisticated military analysts, but like one teenager: “Awww, wook at all the angwy Putinists, trying to change the subject – they’re so vewwy angwy!!” it wrote on Saturday.
Washington Post, In today’s world, the truth is losing, David Ignatius, Nov. 29, 2016. Propaganda is rampant thanks to social media and those with no concern for facts. Richard Stengel, the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy, bluntly states the problem that has been worrying him and should worry us all: “In a global information war, how does the truth win?”
The very idea that the truth won’t be triumphant would, until recently, have been heresy to Stengel, a former managing editor of Time magazine. But in the nearly three years since he joined the State Department, Stengel has seen the rise of what he calls a “post-truth” world, where the facts are sometimes overwhelmed by propaganda from Russia and the Islamic State.
Washington Post, Journalists in the age of Trump: Lose the smugness, keep the mission, Margaret Sullivan, Nov. 29, 2016. Preaching to the choir, and being distracted by tweets, will accomplish precisely nothing. Here are some ways journalism must be reinvented:
1. Throw out the access-vs.-accountability model. Who gets the next coveted scoop? Often it has been that reporter who has most skillfully played the access game — the one who has curried just enough favor with the powerful newsmaker to be smiled upon, without giving up basic credibility and integrity. That’s access journalism. Accountability journalism, by contrast, is often performed off to the side, by those who don’t have to deal with the news provider on a regular basis.
Washington Post, Trump’s ‘news’ source: Alien lizards, fluoride mind control and voter fraud, Dana Milbank, Nov. 29, 2016 (print edition). We learned last week that President-elect Trump has been turning away his intelligence briefers, leaving the tedious task of learning about national-security threats to his understudy, Vice President-elect Pence.
So where is Trump (shown in a file photo) getting his information? Well, now we know. On Sunday, Trump tweeted out the wild allegations that “millions of people” voted illegally for his opponent. He also tweeted that there was “serious voter fraud” in three states that went for Hillary Clinton, “so why isn’t the media reporting on this?”
The media wasn’t reporting on this because it’s a load of hooey. But one “media” outlet has been “reporting” the groundless allegations, and it’s one that Trump relied on frequently during the campaign: Alex Jones’s Infowars, the radio and Internet home of the grassy-knoll crowd. For two weeks before Trump made his allegations, Jones had been alleging this very thing, saying there was a “wall of fraud” and that at least “five states were stolen” by Clinton. Jones alleged that Trump “clearly won the popular vote,” asserting that in addition to 3 million illegal immigrants who voted, 4 million dead people voted.
Trump, with his mixture of the incendiary and the fanciful, invented the “Infowars campaign.” Now comes the Infowars presidency. Let’s see what else is being promoted by the outlet where the next leader of the free world gets his news.
Washington Post, Donald Trump and social media have weaponized the conspiracy theory in American politics, Philip Bump, Nov. 29, 2016. Donald Trump, political neophyte, has embraced a web of conspiracy theories and illogical statements to advance his political interests. Trump’s embrace of conspiracy theories gives him a distinct political advantage that most traditional politicians have shied away from. There’s no amount of evidence that can dissuade Trump’s most fervent believers from agreeing with his inaccurate claims, to the point that it often seems frustratingly useless in trying to do so.
I got an email on Monday from a woman taking issue with my assertion that Hillary Clinton was leading in the popular vote count. I replied to note that the tallies from the 50 boards of elections in each state suggested that Clinton was indeed leading; she responded with a link to a video from InfoWars, the conspiracy-theory-hawking site that’s been instrumental to powering Trump’s nebula of nonsense over the past year. (Trump himself gave an interview to the site’s proprietor, Alex Jones, during the primary. Jones has asserted, among other things, that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax and has raised questions about the 9/11 attacks — an effort to which he tried to recruit Trump in a tweet on Monday evening.)
SouthFront, Syrian Government Sets Control of Whole Western Ghouta as Militants Withdrawing from Area, Staff report, Nov. 29, 2016. Militants are completing the withdrawal from Khan al-Shih and Zakiyah villages in the Western Ghouta region of Rif Damascus. The first group of militants (over 20 busses) leaved villages yesterday in the direction of Idlib under the greement with the Syrian government. Reports say that over 3,000 members of miitant groups and their families are involved into the transportation agreement from these villages.
SouthFront, More Militants Are Readying to Surrender to Syrian Government in Aleppo City – Reports, Staff report, Nov. 29, 2016. More militants are readying to surredner to Syrian government forces in Aleppo city, according to unconfirmed reports in pro-government and pro-militant social media accounts. “Moderate militants” have to find a way to run from their al-Qaeda linked allies.
SouthFront, Mainstream Media Is in Outrage as Government Forces Liberating Northeastern Aleppo and Freeing Civilians Held there As Hostages, Staff report, Nov. 29, 2016. The mainstream media is in outrage as Syrian government forces have liberated the northeastern part of Aleppo city and saved up to 10,000 civilians that had been used as a human shield by the so-called ‘moderate opposition.’ According to headlines in the mainstream media, the local population is running from “regime forces.” Unfortunatelly, they just forgot to mention that locals are running to the “regime-held areas.”
RT, Erdogan: Turkish forces are in Syria to end Assad’s rule, Staff report, Nov. 29, 2016. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish Army entered Syria to end the rule of President Bashar Assad, whom he accused of terrorism and causing the deaths of thousands. “We entered [Syria] to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the Turkish president said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul, as quoted by Hurriyet daily.
Erdogan said that Turkey has no territorial claims in Syria, but instead wants to hand over power to the Syrian population, adding that Ankara is seeking to restore “justice.” “Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice,” he said. Turkish troops entered Syria on August 24, launching operation Euphrates Shield. Turkey deployed ground troops and air power to northern parts of its neighboring country, with the stated goal of retaking areas held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
However, many observers have said that Ankara aims to suppress Kurdish forces in Syria and prevent them from connecting three de facto autonomous Kurdish areas into one enclave south of the Turkish border.
Around the Nation
New York Post, Reporter quits after ‘downright terrifying’ death threats, Joshua Rhett Miller, Nov. 29, 2016. An award-winning television reporter in Denver says she quit her job because her former station did not support her after she got death threats from the subject of a four-part investigative series. Heidi Hemmat, a former reporter at FOX network affiliate KDVR, detailed in a blog post on Thursday the “downright terrifying” reason she left the station in June after 15 years — saying she learned of the threats from the psychiatrist of a man who allegedly made them after she confronted the man during a four-part fraud investigation.
“I worked very hard to expose this guy — and in the end, I paid a very high price,” Hemmat (shown in a photo) wrote on her website. “There’s a reason why I’m not saying his name — it’s because I’m still scared of him. Shortly after he learned about the charges against him, that were a direct result of me, I got a call from his psychiatrist. She told me he was ‘homicidal’ and was planning to kill me.” The station denied parts of her account and any error on its part.
Politico, Feinstein still pressing Obama to declassify ‘torture report,’ Josh Gerstein, Nov. 29, 2016. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is making a determined but last-ditch attempt to get President Barack Obama to declassify a nearly-7,000-page Senate report about the use of harsh interrogation techniques by the CIA under President George W. Bush.’
Feinstein, shown in an official photo, sent Obama a letter last week urging him to make the unabridged version of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s so-called “torture report” public in a declassified form before he leaves office Jan. 20. She said Tuesday that she also buttonholed Vice President Joe Biden this week to make sure Obama got the message.
Politico, FBI to send Huma Abedin emails to State, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 29, 2016. The FBI plans to send more Hillary Clinton-related emails to the State Department to be processed for public release, a government lawyer said Tuesday. The messages appear to be from a set recovered during a search of a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The planned handover was confirmed by Justice Department attorney Lisa Ann Olson at a brief court hearing in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, but no timetable for State to receive the messages or make them public was discussed.
OpEdNews, Mike Pence Dominionist: The Next President of the United States? Steven Jonas, Nov. 28, 2016. Is Donald Trump already headed for self-destruction? Or headed for an even more expensive Trump-branding business? Or indeed headed for Trump-TV with an even bigger name recognition quotient? Or impeachment by a Republican Party that quickly gets fed up with his total incompetence as President or even more importantly with certain policies of his, especially in foreign affairs, and impeaches him?
Or perhaps it’s one or more of the at least five possible criminal investigations that are going on or might be going on that could catch up with him.
The five that I know of are: a possible RICO investigation connected with Trump University (and his settlement of the T.U. civil suits would not disconnect him from such an investigation); Trump appears to have violated the U.S. embargo against Cuba(which would be highly ironic since he in part won Florida because of the “Cuban vote”); Trump may have violated the U.S. sanctions against Iran; and, if Russia really did interfere with the election and Trump’s communications with them during the elections in any way, even indirectly, dealt with interference, that would likely come under the definition of treason.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence is shown in an official photo from his current post as governor of Indiana.
Wisconsin Elections Commission, Commission Releases Presidential Election Recount Cost Estimate of $3.5 million, Staff report, Nov. 28, 2016. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission has given a recount cost estimate of nearly $3.5 million to the campaigns of Green Party candidate Jill Stein and independent candidate Rocky Roque De La Fuente. For the recount to go forward, one or both of the candidates will have to pay $3,499,689 to the Commission by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Commission Administrator Michael Haas. Both recount petitioners have been advised of the cost estimate.
At a meeting earlier today, the Commission directed staff to assess the full estimated recount fee to both petitioning candidates unless the candidates each submit payment for one-half of the total estimated cost. “County Clerks have done their best to estimate the actual costs of conducting a large recount in a relatively short time,” said Haas. “The estimates may vary widely as some clerks may not have been able to precisely identify their estimated costs in the short time available to them. If the estimate turns out to be too high, the campaign will receive a refund. If the estimate is too low, they will have to pay the additional cost.”
Wisconsin’s 72 County Clerks expect to hire thousands of temporary workers to assist the county boards of canvassers in recounting the ballots. They also expect to be working extra hours and weekends to finish the recount by 8 p.m. Monday, December 12, the deadline established by the Commission today. The Commission will certify results by 3 p.m. Tuesday, December 13. A spreadsheet containing each county’s estimate is attached to this news release
NBC News, With No Evidence, Trump Claims ‘Millions’ Voted Illegally, Phil McCausland, Nov. 28 2016. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted a stream of thus-far baseless claims of voter fraud Sunday, indicating that the Hillary Clinton campaign’s involvement in an election recount was hypocritical. Trump, who himself suggested that he would not concede the election during the campaign if he had lost, used his Twitter account to declare that “nothing will change.” He also reiterated that Clinton had already conceded the election. Trump, however, also effectively offered his own support for the recount, providing a seemingly baseless allegation that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
Washington Post, This Trump tweet signals a major assault on voting, Greg Sargent, Nov. 28, 2016. Here’s what it might look like. Donald Trump’s victory in the electoral college apparently wasn’t enough to quiet the mental demons that regularly hector him into tweeting out conspiracy theories and lies. Trump has now made national news with this tweet, a response to reports that Hillary Clinton’s campaign will join a recount effort in Wisconsin and possibly Michigan and Pennsylvania as well.
As Glenn Kessler explains, there is zero evidence that this happened. Trump will continue to reach deep into the fever swamps to shape reality for himself and his supporters — only now he’ll do so in the position as most powerful person in the world. Trump also tweeted that there was “serious voter fraud” in three states that the media refuses to report upon. But all this may also telegraph something concrete that we might see under a Trump presidency: A far more ambitious effort to restrict access to voting than we might have expected.
“My concern is that this might be a signal that we will see an assault on voting rights,” Wendy Weiser, the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told me today. “Claims of nonexistent voter fraud and noncitizen voting are precisely the kinds of baseless justifications that we’ve seen for the wave of laws in the past couple of years restricting voting access.” Trump’s choice of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general makes this more plausible. As a U.S. attorney in the mid-1980s, Sessions tried to prosecute three civil rights activists for voter fraud, when they were trying to help poor, elderly, and illiterate people to vote. They were acquitted.
Civilians flee the rebel-held Aleppo sector to seek safety in government-controlled areas on Nov. 26, 2016, according to Syrian Arab Army authorities distributing the photo
SouthFront, Syrian Govt Forces Liberate about 40% of East Aleppo, Staff report, Nov. 28, 2016. Last weekend, Syrian government forces delivered a devastating blow to the al-Nusra led militant coalition, known as Jaish al-Fatah, inside the Aleppo city. Syrian news sources broadcasted images of a crowd of civilians including women and children gathered around green buses that are set to pick them up in Masaken Hanano and entering western Aleppo. According to them, up to 10,000 civilians have fled from eastern Aleppo so far. Most of them took refuge in government-controlled areas.
Alternet, How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media, Gareth Porter, Nov. 28, 2016. Reporters who rely on the White Helmets’ leader in Aleppo ignore his record of deception and risk manipulation. The White Helmets, founded to rescue victims trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Syrian and Russian bombing, have become a favorite source for Western news media covering a story on Russian-Syrian bombing. Portrayed as humanitarian heroes for over the past year and even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last summer, the White Helmets have been accorded unquestioned credibility by journalists covering the Syrian crisis.
Yet the White Helmets are hardly a non-political organization. Funded heavily by the U.S. State Department and the British Foreign Office, the group operates only in areas in northern Syria controlled by an al Qaeda affiliate and their extremist allies — areas to which Western journalists have not had access. Given that the White Helmets work under the authority of those who hold the real power in east Aleppo and other opposition-controlled zones, the Western media’s reliance on this organization for information comes with serious risks of being manipulated.
Huffington Post, Justifying Torture: CIA Psychologist’s Book Defends His Role, Jessica Schulberg, Nov. 28, 2016. James Mitchell says he’s haunted but has no regrets about waterboarding suspected terrorists. A former CIA contractor who is being sued for his role in the spy agency’s torture program argues in a forthcoming book that his actions were legal, morally justified and necessary to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.
In Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America, James Mitchell and his coauthor, Bill Harlow, deliver a firsthand account of how he joined the CIA’s interrogation program in 2002 as an adviser and eventually became one of the agency’s top interrogators, using techniques now widely recognized as torture against suspected al Qaeda members imprisoned at secret torture locations, known as black sites. In his book, Mitchell is dismissive of former interrogators who say that building rapport with prisoners is more effective than violent coercion. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Mitchell says, saved lives.
Mainstream Crusade Against “Fake News”
OpEdNews, Are the Mainstream Media Trying to Kill Their Competition? Or are Neocons Trying to Silence Critics? Rob Kall, Nov. 28 2016. There’s a threat to the future of Democracy, which I believe is highly dependent upon alternative media casting light on truth and challenging the Top Down establishment’s lies, distortions, false claims and omissions. That threat is manifesting as a fake news perpetrated by the mainstream media, which claim to be fighting fake news and propaganda. OpEdNEws has been listed, by an anonymous website, registered using a proxy registrar to maintain anonymity, among 200 sites they claim are Russian propaganda sites.
That would not be significant if the Washington Post had not featured a headline article citing this anonymous website, propornot.com. I consider this pathological journalistic malpractice. It’s really worse than that. This latest salvo by the mainstream media appears to be an attack against alternative media, an effort to kill alternative news voices. OpEdNews is not alone. Many progressive, left of liberal sites are being listed, such as counterpunch, wikileaks, nakedcapitalism, thiscantbehappening, PaulCraigRoberts, antiwar, BaltimoreGazette, blackagendareport, consortiumnews, globalresearch, truth-out, truthdig, whatreallyhappened
And libertarian/conservative websites are also listed: DrudgeReport, Prison Planet, and RonPaulInstitute. An Observer article, “Clinton Distraction Circus Hits Panic Mode Over Russia And ‘Fake News,'” suggests this is a ploy of Hillary Clinton’s pathetic campaign team, saying, “Panic over ‘Fake news’ is being manufactured by Clinton partisans as another attempt by mainstream media outlets to avoid accountability and responsibility in elevating Donald Trump, and improving their coverage to better reflect the issues Americans actually care about.”
The WaPo and the NYTimes, even NPR are going after fake news sites like McCarthy went after people they accused of being communist sympathizers. Now WaPo is going after websites that criticize the US government’s policies on Russia. The First Amendment is under greater threat than perhaps any time since the early colonial days when people were charged with sedition.
These are dangerous times in so many ways. We really don’t know if these efforts are originating with sleaze ball Clinton campaign people, as the Observer article suggests, or whether this is a strategy by neocons and neoliberals to silence alternative media,s which question the establishment’s narrative.
Or/and this could be a strategy by the MSM to get rid of their competition, the Bottom Up alternative media that more and more of the people are believing instead of the Top Down sources. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both mistreated the mainstream press. Imagine if the messaging onslaught the mainstream media is echoing — that the Russians and the fake news purveyors corrupted the election — actually works. If they take down all the sites on the propornot list, they will have silenced many of the major voices questioning the story the mainstream media has been supporting. That silencing will make it much easier for Trump, for the neoliberal, failed Democratic leadership to sell their story and their narrative.
I don’t have an answer on what to do about this. Maybe you do. That’s part of makes the Bottom Up alternative media so essential to the future of Democracy. YOU get a voice in the conversation.
Craig Murray.com, Doubting Thomases, Craig Murray (a former British diplomat shown in a file photo), Nov. 28, 2016. I have been quite amused to receive some – actually rather a lot of – rather aggressive tweets and other social media messages from people who believe Julian Assange is dead, and are therefore outraged I had supper with him on Friday. This seems to me the ultimate in concern trolling – to pretend to adore someone so much that you are angry and upset to find the object of your adoration has not been killed or kidnapped. There are Youtube videos alleging that Julian is dead which together have attracted millions of viewers. It is a peculiar kind of cargo-cult.
We now have the situation where people who had never heard of Julian a year ago are demanding that he must be visited not by long-term associates, like John Pilger and myself, but by a “trusted person,” by which these new devotees mean someone Julian has never seen before, probably working for Rupert Murdoch. To pander to these silly demands would be a never-ending task. Undoubtedly some of it is stirred up by security services anxious to muddy the water about the authenticity of Wikileaks’ work. But most of it is from decent and genuine but misguided people.
Strategic Culture Foundation, The Major Purveyor of ‘Fake News’ is the CIA-Corporate Complex, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 28, 2016. The US corporate media, its strings pulled by the modern version of the Central Intelligence Agency’s old Operation Mockingbird media influencing operation, is laughably accusing Russia of generating “fake news” to influence the outcome of the American presidential election. ‘
In a November 24, 2016, article in the CIA-connected Washington Post, reporter Craig Timberg reported: “Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human ‘trolls,’ and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.”
The Post’s article is worthy of the CIA-generated propaganda spun by the paper at the height of the Cold War-era Mockingbird.
Contrary to what the Post reported about right-wing accounts of Hillary Clinton’s ties to “a shadowy cabal of global financiers,” the vanquished Democratic presidential nominee and her husband, via the slush fund known as the Clinton Foundation, was closely linked to a variety of “shadowy global financiers,” including those who serve as executives of Goldman Sachs and J P Morgan Chase. The Clinton cabal was more at home in the gatherings of the secretive syndicates of the Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Club, and the Council on Foreign Relations than they were at labor union and student meetings.
Mother Jones, Potential Trump Pick for Homeland Security Wants to Send up to 1 Million People to Gitmo. Seriously, Pema Levy, Nov. 28, 2016. Donald Trump was scheduled to meet Monday with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., a Trump supporter and surrogate during the campaign who is now reportedly being considered to head the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke is known for his extreme views on policing — including his conviction that there is a war on cops but no police brutality — and for his attacks on Black Lives Matter. One of his most out-there positions: suspend the constitutional rights of up to a million people, and hold them indefinitely at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Clarke’s extremist approach to homeland security is no secret. In his upcoming memoir, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, he advocates treating American citizens suspected of terrorism as “enemy combatants,” questioning them without an attorney, and holding them indefinitely, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Their cases would be handled by a military tribunal rather than a traditional court.
But a year ago, Clarke went further and called for rounding up Americans who sympathize with terrorists and shipping them to an offshore prison. During a December 2015 segment of his show, The People’s Sheriff, on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze radio network, Clarke suggested that any person who posts pro-terrorist sentiments on social media be arrested, deprived of the constitutional protection against unlawful imprisonment (known as habeas corpus), and sent to Guantanamo Bay indefinitely. He estimated the number of people who could be imprisoned under his proposal could reach 1 million. Presumably, this would include American citizens. (The Democratic research group American Bridge caught Clarke proposing this idea.)
Newsmax, The Democrats Face Catastrophe, Christopher Ruddy, Nov. 28, 2016. This was to be the beginning of a new Democratic era. The first African-American president was to be followed by the first women president, who just won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes nationally.
But the surprise victory of Donald Trump has changed all of that. Three weeks after the election, Democrats are just waking up from their nightmare to face its horror. Trump, a lifelong Democrat who ran and won as a free-thinking Republican, has already moved to assemble his administration. Conservatives are elated, his picks are decisively right-leaning. For example, he selected the staunchly conservative member of the Senate as his Attorney General, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions.
Trump will have not only full executive power, he will soon pick the crucial “fifth vote” for the Supreme Court majority. Expect a solid “Scalia”-style vote, since Trump himself has said the late Justice Antonin Scalia will be his model. Meanwhile, the Senate remains in GOP hands. And because the Democrat majority foolishly did away with the cloture rule for nominees, Trump and the GOP majority will have a free hand to appoint a Court pick in Scalia’s image. As each domino has fallen – the House, the Senate, the White House, and soon the Court – the Democrats seem paralyzed or in denial.
Due to gerrymandering, the House will remain in Republican hands until at least 2022, barring any economic crisis or black swan event. At the state level, the Democrats have been behind the eight ball, especially after Obamacare caused a pro-GOP tsunami in 2010. This year the Democrats hoped to reap a windfall from the Trump candidacy. Instead, as Fox News reported, their results were dismal. Democratic control of state legislatures reflected “their lowest level since the Civil War.” The GOP now controls 33 governorships, up from 31 last year.
And Republicans control both houses in 32 state legislatures. The Democrats control both houses in only five states, and only one is significant, California. Without federal power, the Democrats are also in jeopardy of losing unions as a key cornerstone of their power.
Grover Norquist, the leading anti-tax activist, touts the fact Wisconsin’s vote for Trump – and surprise re-election of solid conservative Senator Ron Johnson – had everything to do with Scott Walker’s 2011 initiative to end collective bargaining for public unions. As Norquist explains, since Walker’s action, 130,000 union members have opted to stop paying dues. Each had paid about a $1,000 a year, or combined, about $130 million in union fees. In all, Norquist estimates the unions have been deprived of over $500 million in Wisconsin, a key reason the state went “red” this presidential year – the first time since 1984.
This past March, after Scalia’s death, a split 4-4 Court vote on a critical case involving the California teacher’s union failed to end collective bargaining. Had Scalia voted, the ruling would have dealt an incredible blow to unions and the Democrats. Many conservatives are anxious for the Supreme Court to rule on another collective bargaining case again, one that will likely be fast-tracked by the Trump administration. A perfect storm of events have given President-elect Trump a unique opportunity to shape the political landscape like Franklin Roosevelt did.
Republicans have not held the House, Senate and Presidency at the same time since 2007, under President George W. Bush.
The Hill, AP: Avoid using ‘alt-right’ without context, Brooke Seipel, Nov. 28, 2016. The Associated Press Monday released new guidelines for referencing the “alt-right,” which ask that journalists use the term alongside its definition and in context of its association with racist beliefs. The new guidelines read:
“‘Alt-right’ (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the ‘self-described’ or ‘so-called alt-right’ in stories discussing what the movement says about itself. Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience.” The new guidelines come after criticism of media outlets by some observers who view the term has having “normalized” President-elect Donald Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric and that of some Trump supporters. Specifically, many object to the term’s use alongside senior adviser Stephen Bannon, whose hiring was applauded by neo-Nazi and KKK groups.
WTOP, Overbooked National Mall means changes for Women’s March on Washington, Megan Cloherty, Nov. 28, 2016. The Women’s March on Washington is hitting a roadblock. Planned for Jan. 21, 2017, other groups beat march organizers to the punch, requesting the same space on the National Mall on the same day. Its organizers at the Gathering for Justice submitted the application Nov. 16 for the Women’s March On Washington. But it was a little too late.
“There were seven applications that were submitted prior to the Gathering for Justice for part or all of the same site s they’ve applied for,” said National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst. Accepted on a first come, first served basis, Litterst said organizers likely won’t get the approval to march as many as 200,000 people from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House, as is noted in the permit application. “The permit has not been denied. We will make every effort to accommodate their request though it may be at a different time and location,” Litterst said.
The Real News Network, Trump and the Deep State, Paul Jay, Nov. 27, 2016 (video interview). Thomas Drake tells Paul Jay the deep state would’ve been more comfortable with Clinton; and while they’ll do what they’re told, many will be concerned that Pence is the new Cheney.
Thomas Andrews Drake (born 1957, and shown in a photo by Noel St. John) is a former senior official of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist, and whistleblower. In 2010 the government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project.
Washington Post, Tump calls recount effort hypocrisy. Aaron Blake, Nov. 27, 2016. That’s not really fair. The comparison between what Hillary Clinton is doing now and what Donald Trump talked about doing during the campaign isn’t apples-to-apples. For one thing, he was talking about massive election fraud before it was even alleged to have happened.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore.
Consortium News, Clinton Campaign Joins Vote Challenge, Joe Lauria, Nov. 27, 2016. Although lacking “actionable evidence of hacking,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign has decided to join the recount of votes from the presidential election in the state of Wisconsin that was launched by Jill Stein, the presidential candidate from the U.S. Green Party. Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign counsel, said the campaign decided to take part in the recount to discover whether there was “outside interference” in the election results. He said the campaign had been inundated with messages from Clinton supporters to do “something, anything, to investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton,” particularly in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
“This election cycle was unique in the degree of foreign interference witnessed throughout the campaign: the U.S. government concluded that Russian state actors were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the personal email accounts of Hillary for America campaign officials,” Elias wrote in an online message.
Donald Trump narrowly beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where the margin was only 11,612 votes, the closet presidential contest in that state’s history. Clinton would have to win all three states in the recount to receive 276 electoral votes to Trump’s 260. A total of 270 votes are needed to win the presidency. Trump now leads 306 to 232. The electors will vote in their state capitals on Dec. 19. It is not clear if the three recounts would be finished by then.
Washington Post, Trump pushes conspiracy theory that ‘millions’ voted illegally for Clinton, Paul Kane, Nov. 27, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump parroted a widely debunked conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because of massive voter fraud, creating even more consternation around the election results as Green Party candidate Jill Stein leads calls for recounts. That accusation — spread by conspiracy sites such as Infowars.com and discredited by fact-checking organizations — gained traction among some far-right conservatives disappointed that Trump lost the popular vote.
But Trump’s embrace of the claim created even more instability around the election results from both ends of the political spectrum, with Green Party candidate Jill Stein leading calls among liberal activists for recounts in key battleground states to make sure voting fraud did not give the election to Trump. Trump’s senior advisers, meanwhile, are engaged in an escalating feud over whether Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani should be offered the position of secretary of state.
Washington Post, 4 Pinocchios for Trump’s bogus assertion about voter fraud, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 27, 2016. Now that he is on the verge of becoming president, Trump needs to be more careful about making wild allegations.
Huffington Post, Bernie Sanders Gets Frustrated With CNN Host’s Election Recount Questions, Daniel Marans, Nov. 27, 2016. The Vermont senator wanted to talk about holding Donald Trump accountable. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) appeared to get annoyed with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday for asking him to respond to the Trump campaign manager’s criticism of the Wisconsin recount. Bash, who was guest-hosting CNN’s “State of the Union,” first asked Sanders to respond to the news that Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein had demanded a recount of the votes in Wisconsin. The campaign of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton announced that it will participate in the recount as well.
“No one expects there to be profound change, but there’s nothing wrong with going through the process,” Sanders said, before pivoting to a discussion of whether President-elect Donald Trump would remain true to his campaign promises.
OpEdNews, Green Party Lawyer Discusses Upcoming Recount, Joan Brunwasser, Nov. 27, 2016. “[Stein] is a supporter of election transparency. The three states chosen for the recount all have statistical red flags and were very close in the votes between the two major presidential candidates. Stein believes the voters of the right to a fair and accurate count. Our system is fundamentally flawed and that we should demand that there be no place in a democratic system for secret proprietary software in our voting process.”
Washington Post, Loyal under fire: Trump’s son-in-law poised to become presidential confidant, Shawn Boburg, Nov. 27, 2016. A defining episode for Jared Kushner came during his father’s imprisonment over donations to Democrats. The scandal revealed a fundamental trait — unflinching loyalty — that reappeared this year on the campaign trail as Kushner publicly defended his father-in-law Donald Trump.
Washington Post, Fidel Castro, Cuban dictator, dies at 90, Kevin Sullivan and J.Y. Smith, Nov. 26, 2016. Fidel Castro, whose Cuban revolution turned his Caribbean island into a potent symbol of the world’s greatest ideological and economic divides of the 20th century, has died, Cuban state media announced late Friday.
He was 90. The death was announced on Cuban state TV by Castro’s younger brother, Raúl, who succeeded his sibling years ago as the country’s leader. Fidel Castro is shown with his brother in a recent file photo above, and alone in one from an appearance at the National Press Club in 1959 in Washington, DC.
The son of a prosperous sugar planter, Mr. Castro took power in Cuba on New Year’s Day 1959 promising to share his nation’s wealth with its poorest citizens, who had suffered under the corrupt quarter-century dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Mr. Castro, a romantic figure in olive-drab fatigues and combat boots, chomping monstrous cigars through a bushy black beard, became a spiritual beacon for the world’s political far left.
To his legion of followers, Mr. Castro was a hero who demanded a fair deal for the world’s poor and wasn’t afraid to point his pistol at the powerful to get it. His admirers said he educated, fed and provided health care to his own people, as well as to the poor in other countries, more fairly and generously than the world’s wealthy nations, most notably what he called the “Colossus to the North.”
But one of the world’s longest-serving heads of state was as loathed as he was loved. He was among the world’s most repressive leaders, a self-appointed president-for-life who banned free speech, freedom of assembly and a free press and executed or jailed thousands of political opponents.
Roll Call, After Fidel Castro, How Will Trump Approach Cuba? Niels Lesniewski, While President Barack Obama offered prayers for the people of Cuba and condolences for the family of deceased Cuban President Fidel Castro, President-elect Donald Trump called out the decades-long repression of the authoritarian regime. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Trump said in a statement Saturday. “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”
Those differing approaches might provide insight into the potential for Trump to shift back toward a harder line U.S. policy regarding the island. The Obama administration has worked to ease the trade embargo against the Communist country and negotiated with Fidel Castro’s successor as president, his brother Raul Castro.
2016 Election Recount
Washington Post, Clinton campaign will participate in Wisconsin recount, with an eye on ‘outside interference,’ lawyer says, Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been quietly exploring whether there was any “outside interference” in the election results and will participate in the election recount in Wisconsin initiated by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, a Clinton campaign lawyer revealed Saturday.
Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said that the campaign had received “hundreds of messages, emails, and calls urging us to do something, anything, to investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton,” especially in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where the “combined margin of victory for Donald Trump was merely 107,000 votes.”
The recount effort is somewhat unusual in that it comes weeks after Clinton conceded — at the urging and with the financial backing of a third-party candidate, Stein, who has no chance of winning, said election law expert Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Clinton, too, has virtually no chance of altering the result, given that she would have to move not just Wisconsin, but also Michigan and Pennsylvania, to become president, Hasen said.
Investigation: Conflicts of Interest
New York Times, Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President, Richard C. Paddock, Eric Liptop, Ellen Barry, Rod Nordland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero, Nov. 26, 2016. On Thanksgiving Day, a Philippine developer named Jose E. B. Antonio hosted a company anniversary bash at one of Manila’s poshest hotels. He had much to be thankful for. In October, he had quietly been named a special envoy to the United States by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte. Mr. Antonio was nearly finished building a $150 million tower in Manila’s financial district — a 57-story symbol of affluence and capitalism, which bluntly promotes itself with the slogan “Live Above the Rest.” And now his partner on the project, Donald J. Trump, had just been elected president of the United States.
After the election, Mr. Antonio flew to New York for a private meeting at Trump Tower with the president-elect’s children, who have been involved in the Manila project from the beginning, as have Mr. Antonio’s children. The Trumps and Antonios have other ventures in the works, including Trump-branded resorts in the Philippines, Mr. Antonio’s son Robbie Antonio said.
“We will continue to give you products that you can enjoy and be proud of,” the elder Mr. Antonio, one of the richest men in the Philippines, told the 500 friends, employees and customers gathered for his star-studded celebration in Manila. Mr. Antonio’s combination of jobs — he is a business partner with Mr. Trump, while also representing the Philippines in its relationship with the United States and the president-elect — is hardly inconsequential, given some of the weighty issues on the diplomatic table.
Among them, Mr. Duterte has urged “a separation” from the United States and has called for American troops to exit the country in two years’ time. His antidrug crusade has resulted in the summary killings of thousands of suspected criminals without trial, prompting criticism from the Obama administration.
Situations like these are already leading some former government officials from both parties to ask if America’s reaction to events around the world could potentially be shaded, if only slightly, by the Trump family’s financial ties with foreign players. They worry, too, that in some countries those connections could compromise American efforts to criticize the corrupt intermingling of state power with vast business enterprises controlled by the political elite.
‘Fake News’ Media Claims
Intercept, Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group, Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald (shown in file photo), Nov. 26, 2016. The Washington Post on Thursday night promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”
The article by reporter Craig Timberg — headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” — cites a report by an anonymous website calling itself PropOrNot, which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.”
The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute.
OpEdNews, Bait & Switch- Fake News, propornot, the Real Inform & Influence Operation, George Eliason, Nov. 26, 2016. A few days before the 2016 election I contacted several publishers and told them they were on a list to be dealt with/ taken down after what was supposed to be a Clinton victory. This effort was against news sites and websites that spoke or wrote against current US policies that Clinton supported.
Journalists that said or wrote anything damaging to the Clinton campaign or supported her opponents in any way were targeted. News sites and journalists that failed to criticize Vladimir Putin, or worse; they were sympathetic of this or that Russian or Syria policy at any time are on the lists.
The implication isn’t that Hillary Clinton had anything to do with this. She didn’t, at least not directly. We’re going to take a clear look at this, who is behind it, and why. The political stakes and stakeholders go far beyond the presidency. It was about setting the next 20 years of US policy, cabinet positions, and redefining what the United States of America is.
Long before this election, I became aware of an Inform & Influence Operation (IIO) against the American public. While researching this I came across a list of news sites that were going to be dealt with n following what was at the time thought to be an easy “Clinton victory.” Before the election, I told different publishers this was in the works and the goal was to discredit and destroy alternate media sources and silence dissent.
The Donald Trump victory slowed this down a little bit for the moment, but redoubled the effort going into it. Let’s look behind the Fake news of propornot that is the internet rage today. I’ve been keeping tabs on some of the players involved for over 1 1/2 years now.
Propornot is another incarnation of Stopfake or the Daily Dot. Both of these propaganda sites have been doing the same essential thing as propornot since the beginning of the 2014 Coup in Ukraine. In that sense there is nothing notable or remarkable about it. What is remarkable is the amount of press this crude website has generated and why.
The website itself is a compilation of working lists developed by different sources that now work in tandem. It’s been over 3 years in the making and propornot is just the latest side dish.
JFKFacts.org, John Barbour on ‘The 2nd Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,’ Jefferson Morley, Nov. 26, 2016. In The American Media, narrated by Barbour and produced by Myra Bronstein, Garrison’s story is told once again, this time with an emphasis on the tragic double-cross of an NBC producer who deceptively, and without Barbour’s input, doctored Barbour’s interview with Garrison so that Garrison states a foolish belief that there were 30 shooters in Dealey Plaza.
Washington Post, Election recount to get underway in Wis. after Green Party’s Stein files petition, Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 25, 2016. The former Green Party presidential candidate filed for a recount in the state — where Donald Trump pulled off an upset victory — after experts grew suspicious that the results could have been manipulated and urged Hillary Clinton to demand one.
Palmer Report, Three Wisconsin precincts revise vote totals after caught padding Donald Trump’s numbers, Bill Palmer, Nov. 25, 2016. Even as Wisconsin officials say they’re preparing for a statewide recount of the 2016 vote totals after third party candidate Jill Stein raised enough funds to cover the cost of it, the nation is left to wonder whether it might result in Hillary Clinton being named the winner of the state. But before the recount has even begun, evidence of either gross negligence or foul play has been exposed in three Wisconsin precincts – which had resulted in quite a number of phantom votes given to Donald Trump – and the vote totals have been revised accordingly.
The story goes like this: after Wisconsin posted its voting totals, various internet users who looked at the numbers noticed the same discrepancy. Three precincts in Outagamie County were each claiming that more people had voted in the presidential race than had voted at all. That’s not possible, of course. So after it became a minor online controversy, those precincts each revised their totals. The result: more than a thousand imaginary votes for Donald Trump came off the board from those three precincts alone, as first noted by Dan Solomon of Fast Company.
Here’s the explanation which local officials offered to an ABC News affiliate to explain the discrepancy: “In order to give election returns to the Outagamie County Clerk’s office as quickly as possible the Chief Inspector added together the votes from the election machine tapes. An error was made while keying the numbers on the calculator during this process resulting in an incorrect number of votes reported on Election night.”
But for this to be believed, one would have to accept that the same honest error was made in three precincts – and that in all of them, Donald Trump was a huge beneficiary of that math error. Moreover, Hillary Clinton’s vote totals didn’t change at all in these three precincts. It was simply a matter of three precincts padding Donald Trump’s totals with imaginary votes that they now acknowledge never really existed.’
StephenLendmanBlog, Judas Goat Jill Stein, Following in Sanders’ Footsteps, Stephen Lendman, Nov. 25, 2016. Jill Stein has just raised more money in 24 hours for her WI, MI, and PA recount initiative than she did for her entire 2016 presidential campaign. Let that sink in. Where is this money coming from, because it sure isn’t her supporters!
Her campaign to reco me, fooled me, suckered me, betrayed me and 1.2 million + voters supporting her. She changed me from ally to adversary, never again backing her for any public position.
She raised millions of dollars overnight, more pouring in, dirty money. Is it largely from dark forces supporting Hillary, endless wars, Wall Street, neoliberal harshness, and police state tyranny? Was her campaign self-serving all along, not populist? Is she more opportunist than advocate for progressive change? Is she corrupted like all the rest — unfit to serve in any public capacity? I’m embarrassed and ashamed for supporting her, thinking she’s different, a true progressive, when all along she supported what real activists condemn.
Strategic Culture Foundation, The march to GLEXIT – Globalization Exit, Wayne Madsen (shown below in a file photo), Nov. 25, 2016. The world, through the ballot box, is speaking out. From the British “Yes” vote on BREXIT – the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union – to the election of the anti-globalization Donald Trump as president of the United States, the world is speaking out against the homogenization of the world into a super-state of blurred and overlapping governments, cultural identities, religions, and politics. The U.S. presidential election was not so much an election as it was a referendum on globalization in all of its malignant manifestations: free trade, open borders, and subjugation of national sovereignty to amorphous international organizations.
From every continent, there is growing popular support for “exiting” international contrivances, from the European Union and International Criminal Court to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and even the United Nations.
In August of this year, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines threatened to pull his country out of the UN in what was the first such threat by a UN member-state since Indonesian President Sukarno successfully withdrew his nation from the UN in 1965.
Proponents of economic and political globalization have not only been dealt heavy blows in the election of Trump in the United States and the success of the BREXIT vote in the United Kingdom, but also in the decision by South Africa and other African nations to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The international tribunal heavily-influenced by global hedge fund viper George Soros that is increasingly seen by Africa as the “International Caucasian Court” primarily targeting African leaders for war crimes prosecutions. In October of this year, South Africa joined Burundi and Gambia in announcing that it would leave the ICC. Ironically and embarrassingly, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is from Gambia.
Mediaite via SouthFront, We Don’t Need White People Leading Democratic Party – Sanders’ Former Spokeswoman (Video), Staff report, Nov. 25, 2016. A former spokeswoman for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, Symone Sanders, rejected a possibility of returning of Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), adding that “we don’t need white people leading the Democratic Party right now.” The statement was made on the CNN TV channel Wednesday afternoon.
“In my opinion we don’t need white people leading the Democratic Party right now,” Sanders said, explaining that diversity of the Democratic Party should be reflected in its staff and leadership – “from the vice chairs to the secretaries all the way down to the people working in the offices at the DNC.” She also added that they need to hold “a robust discussion about this,” as well as “to hear more from all the candidates.”
“Jaime Harrison of South Carolina, he’s great, too. He’s done real party building, but everybody doesn’t necessarily know Jaime and they want to know what he stands for. So I want to hear more from everybody,” Sanders told CNN‘s Brianna Keilar. “I want to hear from the millennials and the brown folks,” she concluded.
Alternet, Washington Post promotes shadowy website that accuses 200 publications of being Russian propaganda plants, Max Blumenthal, Nov. 25, 2016. A shady website that claims “Russia is Manipulating US Opinion Through Online Propaganda” has compiled a blacklist of websites its anonymous authors accuse of pushing fake news and Russian propaganda. The blacklist includes over 200 outlets, from the right-wing Drudge Report and Russian government-funded Russia Today, to Wikileaks and an array of marginal conspiracy and far-right sites. The blacklist also includes some of the flagship publications of the progressive left, including Truthdig, Counterpunch, Truthout, Naked Capitalism, and the Black Agenda Report, a leftist African-American opinion hub that is critical of the liberal black political establishment.
Despite the Washington Post’s charitable description of PropOrNot as a group of independent-minded researchers dedicated to protecting the integrity of American democracy, the shadowy group bears many of the qualities of the red enemies it claims to be battling. In addition to its blacklist of Russian dupes, it lists a collection of outlets funded by the U.S. State Department, NATO and assorted tech and weapons companies as “allies.” PropOrNot’s methodology is so shabby it is able to peg widely read outlets like Naked Capitalism, a leading left-wing financial news blog, as Russian propaganda operations.
RT, Mark Crispen Miller interview with RT, Staff report, Nov. 26, 2016. Professor of media studies at New York University, and the author of the book: Fooled Again, How the Right Stole the 2004 Elections, talks to RT international about Jill Stein calling for the US presidential vote recount.
WhoWhatWhy, What Fidel Castro Said When JFK Died, Part 1, Nov. 26, 2016. Castro describes the ultra-right wing, imperialist forces he believed were behind the Kennedy assassination. In the circumstances that surrounded the assassination of President Kennedy, we believe it has no justification. But analyzing the question from the political, objective point of view, I also said it was serious news, bad news.
And some will ask why? Why precisely the Cubans, who have received so many aggressions on the part of the United States, from the Kennedy Administration itself, why can they say that it is bad news, why can they take an attitude of this kind in the face of this news? But in the first place we Cubans must react as revolutionaries. In the second place, we Cubans, as conscious revolutionaries, should not confuse men with systems. And we have to begin by considering that we do not hate men, we hate systems….
The death of President Kennedy has all the perspectives involved in going from a bad situation to a worse situation: the possibility exists that from a determined situation, another situation could unfold and develop that could be highly damaging to the interests of peace, to the interests of mankind…
In the United States there are very reactionary currents, racist currents, that is to say opposed to the demand for the civil and social rights of the Negro population, Klu Klux Klan people, who lynch, who kill and use dogs, who bitterly hate all Negro citizens in the United States, who nurture a brutal hatred. Those naturally are the ultra-reactionary.
Washington Post, Trump fills White House counsel and deputy national security posts, Jerry Markon, Karen Tumulty and Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 25, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday named a libertarian election lawyer as his White House counsel and a hard-line former Reagan administration official to a top post on his national security staff. Trump announced that Donald F. McGahn, a controversial former member of the Federal Election Commission who had served as Trump’s campaign lawyer, will be his White House counsel. In that job, McGahn will serve as the president’s legal adviser — a job that in the past has involved occasionally arguing to restrain what the chief executive wants to do.
For deputy national security adviser, Trump chose Kathleen “KT” McFarland (shown in a file photo), who in her most recent role as a Fox News analyst has expressed strident opposition to many of Obama’s national security policies.
Washington Post, Trump’s presidential duties, private interests may become intertwined, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 25, 2016. Donald Trump has done little to set boundaries between his personal business and official duties since the election, and he has reacted defensively to accusations of a conflict of interest. But his election could offer a huge jolt to his empire and its expansion overseas.
Washington Post, How America became a grudgeocracy, Dan Zak, Nov. 25, 2016. In 2006, Jeff Sessions rose in the Senate chamber to personalize a debate on immigration. He, too, had immigrant forebears, he said, including “my great-great-great-great-grandfather,” who made it to the United States in time for the Civil War. And then, the Alabama Republican groused, “Lincoln killed one of them at Antietam.” And then there’s the president-elect himself, who welcomed television journalists to Trump Tower on Monday for what they probably assumed would be a post-election charm offensive. Instead, he berated them for months-old coverage that he deemed unfair.
SouthFront, CIA Still Supplies TOW Missiles To ‘Rebel Group’ That Beheaded Child Near Aleppo and Filmed This (Warning: Graphic video), Staff report, Nov. 25, 2016. Syrian “moderate rebel group” Nour al-Din al-Zenki became widely known past July after beheading a child near Aleppo city and posting the videoof this. Initially, some mainstream media (for example BBC) attempted to defend the ‘moderate opposition group,’ explaining that it was a “mistake” and an isolated case. [Indeed, it was not a mistake, Nour al-Din al-Zenki members continue to behead their opponents].
However, under the pressure of public opinion, the US State Department was pushed to announce that the US may consider to withdraw its support for “rebels” if reports of beheading of 14-year old boy are confirmed. Mainstream media outlets and experts argued that the group allegedly lost its “vetted” status after the incident while the US State Department has not provided further comments on the issue. The subsequent developments showed that child beheadings are not enough reason for the CIA to withdraw its support from Nour al-Din al-Zenki.
The group continues to use US-supplied TOW missiles. On November 21, the group’s official Twitter page released a photo of group member, using a US-supplied missile. Then, the “moderate” group published a video. Considering high intensity of battles in which the group is involved across Syria (for example, in Aleppo city and in the northern part of Aleppo province), there are almost no doubts that it uses newly-delivered missiles.
Indicter, Analysis: Why Sweden is giving an award to the ‘White Helmets,’ Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Nov. 25, 2016. Professor Ferrada de Noli chairs Swedish Doctors for Human Rights. Sweden did not succeed in getting Bob Dylan to come to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Nevertheless as a consolation the “White Helmets” did arrive to get the Right Livelihood Award.
This article examines a likely geopolitical rationale that the Swedish elites had for selecting that organization. Facts suggest a congruence between the stances of those elites on Syria and the declared political aims of the organization White Helmets. The role of Carl Bildt, as member of the board of directors in the institution ultimately deciding, is interesting against the backdrop of his opposition regarding the participation of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in previous international events organized by the same institutions, all of them under the umbrella of the Swedish Foreign Office.
Sweden’s awarding a prize to this organization might reveal a semi-concealed intervention in support of Hillary Clinton’s doctrine in the dirty war against Syria. A main purpose of what I have called the Hillary Clinton doctrine in the Middle East is the ending –by violent means– of the secular governments in the region, to be replaced by fundamentalist dictatorships. That happened in Egypt, Libya, etc. Now it was Assad’s turn. A valuable testimony of both the origin and purpose of this stance by Clinton was given by US Senator Richard Black, who declared in video:
“Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, put into place a series of actions to overthrow the secular governments in the Middle East and to replace them with radical Islamic regimes. Why she was doing this? I know she has great connections, financial and otherwise, with Saudi Arabia, with Qatar, with Kuwait, with tyrants of the Arab world”.
To these ends in Syria, the Swedish establishment has comprehensively supported the establishment of a No-Fly zone –precisely as advocated by Hillary Clinton. Beside illustrating Hillary Clinton’s stance on the No-Fly Zone issue, the video below shows also the risk of an all-out war against Russia and Syria, and what such measure would signify for the US Armed Forces (and others supporting the No-Fly Zone, such as the Swedish establishment).
Washington Post, Billionaire expected to be Trump’s pick for Commerce, Ylan Q. Mui and Robert Costa, Nov. 24, 2016. Trump expected to tap billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. Wilbur Ross, known as the “king of bankruptcy,” built his fortune buying the distressed companies that were once at the heart of American industry — steel mills, coal mines and textile factories, to name a few — and then selling them in short order.
[JIP Editor’s note: Ross, shown in a file photo, spent 24 years as a banker with Rothschild, where he helped Trump save control of his casino properties during bankruptcy proceedings. Ross was formerly married to Betsy McCaughey, a GOP former New York lieutenant governor and a visible Trump supporter during the recent campaign.]
Washington Post, For Democrats, the road back, Charles Krauthammer, Nov. 24, 2016. Their doctrine of tribalism at home and universalism abroad is finished. One of the more salutary outcomes of the recent election is that Democrats are finally beginning to question the wisdom of basing their fortunes on identity politics. Having counted on the allegiance of African Americans, Hispanics, gays, unmarried women and the young — and winning the popular vote all but once since 1992 — they were seduced into believing that they could ride this “coalition of the ascendant” into permanent command of the presidency.
They’re reconsidering now not because identity politics balkanizes society, creates state-chosen favored groups and fosters communal strife. They’re reconsidering because it’s not working.
Democrats read the 2008 and 2012 election results as a harbinger of the future. Then came 2016. They now realize that the huge turnout of their constituencies was attributable to Barack Obama, a uniquely gifted campaigner whose aura is not transferable.
And why assume that identity politics creates permanent allegiances? Take the Hispanic vote. Both Mitt Romney and Donald Trump won less than 30 percent, but in 2004 George W. Bush won 44 percent. Why assume that the GOP cannot be competitive again?
As these groups evolve socioeconomically, their political allegiances can easily change. This is particularly true for the phenomenally successful Asian American community. There is no reason the more entrepreneurial party, the GOP, should continue to lose this vote by more than 2 to 1.
Moreover, the legitimization of identity politics by the Democrats has finally come back to bite them. Trump managed to read, then mobilize, the white working class and to endow it with political self-consciousness. What he voiced on their behalf was the unspoken complaint of decades: Why not us? All these other groups, up to and including the relatively tiny population of transgender people, receive benefits, special attention and cultural approbation, yet we are left out in the cold, neglected and condescended to as both our social status and economic conditions decline.
Washington Post, Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say, Craig Timberg, Nov. 24, 2016. Researchers found that Russians used sophisticated tools to boost Donald Trump and target Hillary Clinton, and exploited various platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment. The techniques may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do.
The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.
Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.
PropOrNot’s monitoring report, which was provided to the Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.
Washington Post, Clinton’s loss is latest retreat of center-left politics in the West, James McAuley and Griff Witte, Nov. 24, 2016. Democrats in the U.S. are joining a beleaguered club of European parties that dominated the continent for decades, but now find themselves beaten, divided and directionless.
The Hill, Ivanka Trump quoted in ’06 as saying: ‘If he wasn’t my father, I would spray him with Mace,’ Brooke Seipel, Nov. 24, 2016. A quote from Ivanka Trump surfaced Thanksgiving morning that appears showing her reaction to her father commenting on her appearance on a 2006 talk show. Donald Trump, now the president-elect, has made numerous comments over the years regarding his eldest daughter’s looks. On Thanksgiving morning, journalist Sarah Kendzior tweeted out a remark from Ivanka Trump in an August 2006 “Quotables” section of The Chicago Tribune with a reaction quote apparently from Ivanka. “If he wasn’t my father, I would spray him with Mace,” she is quoted as saying.
American Herald Tribune, Wayne Madsen: The CIA Has Always Served the Interests of Wall Street, Mohsen Abdelmoumen, Nov. 24, 2016.
Mohsen Abdelmoumen (MA): According to you, when we see the numerous demonstrations anti-Trump in the United States after the election of Donald Trump at the presidency, are we witnessing a colored revolution?
Wayne Madsen (WM) (shown in a file photo): It is classic Soros-funded color revolution. Soros is financing MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter, Demos, and other of his groups to turn out protesters and is even running ads in papers looking for paid drivers and protest coordinators.
(MA): In your very relevant book devoted to George Soros, Soros: Quantum of Chaos, you reveal the true face of this figure who is the spearhead of several destabilization operations in the world. From where does all the power come that this criminal holds, and why is he untouchable?
(WM) Soros is very wealthy — and actually a front man for an even more powerful and wealthy person, Evelyn de Rothschild, along with his family. They are all the true puppet masters of the world. Trump is actually now being surrounded by people who will serve in his administration who will be loyal to the Soros-Rothschild puppet masters and certainly not to Trump.
(MA): Can we say that the occult world is more powerful than legal institutions?
(WM) Secret societies with their crazy rituals have been the bane of human existence since the time of the Sanhedrin and Pharisees in Palestine and the Dionysian cults of the Nile Valley and the Mediterranean region.
Around the Nation
Midnight Writer News, The 4th Annual JFK Assassination Conference: Day Three in Dallas, S.T. Patrick, Nov. 24, 2016. The final day of the 4th Annual JFK Assassination Conference in Dallas came to a close with assassination witness Beverly Oliver serenading the crowd with “God Bless the USA” and a rousing, unique version of “Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Before Ms. Oliver took the stage to discuss her story and end in song, the day progressed with a group of high-level presentations that added an immense amount of knowledge to the ongoing discussions that had been permeating the Crowne Plaza Hotel for three days.
Midnight Writer News, Review: The American Media, The 2nd Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: The Garrison Tapes, Part Two, S.T. Patrick, Nov. 24, 2016. “Liars run for office…. Truth tellers run for their lives.” — John Barbour, The American Media – The 2nd Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: The Garrison Tapes, Part Two.
As the 4th Annual JFK Assassination Conference drew to a close, around 300 invitees and locals attended a special screening of John Barbour’s new documentary, The American Media – The 2nd Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: The Garrison Tapes, Part Two. The screening was held on Monday, November 21st at the Texas Theatre in Dallas. The Texas Theater is the historic site where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of Officer JD Tippit (and shortly thereafter charged with the murder of President John F. Kennedy) on November 22, 1963. Attending the special screening were Crossfire author and researcher Jim Marrs, researcher Richard Bartholomew, and assassination witness Beverly Oliver. Gary Fannin, author of The Innocence of Oswald, assisted with the research on the documentary and was in attendance as well.
John Barbour wrote and directed part one of The Garrison Tapes (1992) following the success of Oliver Stone’s JFK, which focused on the story of former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Barbour was the only personality to conduct a comprehensive video interview with Garrison after the trial of Clay Shaw in 1969. Garrison prosecuted the only case regarding the murder of Kennedy.
In The American Media, narrated and directed by Barbour and co-produced with Myra Bronstein, Garrison’s story is told once again, this time with an emphasis on the tragic double-cross of an NBC producer who deceptively, and without Barbour’s input, doctored Barbour’s interview with Garrison so that Garrison states a foolish belief that there were 30 shooters in Dealey Plaza.
Barbour was angered to tears by the smearing of Garrison and called Garrison urging him to sue NBC using the conversation with the NBC producer that Barbour had recorded. Garrison, tired and somewhat accustomed to mainstream media tactics, told Barbour that he would not sue. Instead, Garrison told Barbour that he was a fan of Barbour’s show and asked him for a couple Real People t-shirts for his family. Because of his loyalty to Garrison and his distrust of NBC’s editorial decisions, Barbour would lose his position with NBC and would soon fade from show business altogether. He did not, however, fade from the fight for Jim Garrison’s honor and the truth regarding John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
People via Yahoo News, ‘San Antonio Four’ Cleared on All Charges by Texas Appeals Court After Almost 15 Years in Prison, George Stark, Nov. 24, 2016. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday that the women known as the “San Antonio Four” be declared innocent and exonerated after almost 15 years in prison, KSAT 12 News reports.
The story of Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez – who were convicted in 1997 of attacking Ramirez’s nieces, ages 7 and 9 – was the subject of a recent documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, that aired on Investigation Discovery. Rivera was convicted in December 1997 of sexual assault and sentenced to 37 years. Her friends were each sentenced in February 1998 to 15 years. Rivera was then paroled in 2012, but the other three women were released on bail in 2013 with the help of the Innocence Project of Texas following new evidence.
A judge earlier this year refused to void their convictions while ruling that each was entitled to a new trial. Ramirez and three of her friends were accused of sexually assaulting her two nieces over a two-day period while Ramirez cared for the young girls at her apartment in San Antonio, Texas in 1994. The women’s sexuality figured at trial, when prosecutors accused them of cult-like ritual abuse of the victims. The ruling said Thursday: “They are innocent. And they are exonerated. This court grants them the relief they seek.”
Global Research, Who is Behind “Fake News”? Michel Chossudovsky, Nov. 24, 2016. The lies and fabrications of the MSM are not the result of “sloppy journalism.” They are deliberate and are intended to mislead the public. The mainstream media routinely uses fake images and videos in its coverage of the war on Syria. The campaign against alternative and independent media seeks to limit freedom of expression.
Antiwar.com via SouthFront, Syrian Rebels Blocking Aleppo Civilians From Fleeing, Jason Ditz, Nov. 24, 2016. While rebels in the Nusra Front-dominated eastern portion of Aleppo have presented the lack of civilians leaving as proof that no one trusts Russia and the Syrian government to let them out, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that the rebels are actually blocking the civilians from getting out. The rebels opened fire through the crossing out of the city to make sure that no one was able to get out.
SouthFront, Syrian Air Force Delivers Air Strikes on Turkish Military in Northern Aleppo, Staff report, Nov. 24, 2016. Last night, the Syrian Air Force delivered air strikes on the Turkish Armed Forces near the ISIS controlled town of al-Bab in northern Syria, according to local sources in the Aleppo province. The Turkish military confirmed that three Turkish soldiers and 10 others wounded (one of them seriously) were as result of an air strikes thought to be carried by the Syrian military.
Air strikes delivered on the Turkish Armed Forces by Syrian warplanes is likely a signal that Damascus will oppose to the ongoing military build-up of Turkish army in northern Syria. This also could be an answer to recent Turkish artillery strikes on Syrian army in the province of Latakia.
Reuters via Yahoo, Turkey will retaliate for death of Turkish soldiers in Syria: prime minister, Ece Toksabay, Tuvan Gumrukcu, Nick Tattersall, Nov. 24, 2016. Turkey will retaliate against an attack in Syria which killed three Turkish soldiers, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters on Thursday in Ankara. “Three soldiers lost their lives in the attack yesterday. It is clear that some people are not happy with this battle Turkey has been fighting against Daesh (Islamic State). This attack will surely have a retaliation,” he said.
The Turkish military said earlier that a suspected Syrian air strike had killed the three soldiers, in what appeared to be the first Turkish casualties at the hands of Syrian government forces since Turkey launched an incursion into Syria three months ago.
Investigation: Fake News Sites Exposed
National Public Radio, We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned, Laura Sydell, Nov. 23, 2016. A lot of fake and misleading news stories were shared across social media during the election. One that got a lot of traffic had this headline: “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide.” The story is completely false, but it was shared on Facebook over half a million times.
We wondered who was behind that story and why it was written. It appeared on a site that had the look and feel of a local newspaper. Denverguardian.com even had the local weather. But it had only one news story — the fake one. We tried to look up who owned it and hit a wall. The site was registered anonymously. So we brought in some professional help. By day, John Jansen is head of engineering at Master-McNeil Inc., a tech company in Berkeley, Calif. In the interest of real news he helped us track down the owner of Denverguardian.com.
The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction. The sites include NationalReport.net, USAToday.com.co, WashingtonPost.com.co. All the addresses linked to a single rented server inside Amazon Web Services. That meant they were all very likely owned by the same company. Jansen found an email address on one of those sites and was able to link that address to a name: Jestin Coler.
Online, Coler was listed as the founder and CEO of a company called Disinfomedia. Coler’s LinkedIn profile said he once sold magazine subscriptions, worked as a database administrator and as a freelance writer for among others, International Yachtsman magazine. And, using his name, we found a home address.
Coler is a soft-spoken 40-year-old with a wife and two kids. He says he got into fake news around 2013 to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right. He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.
During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. “It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,” Coler says. “It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.”
Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait. Coler’s company, Disinfomedia, owns many faux news sites — he won’t say how many. But he says his is one of the biggest fake-news businesses out there, which makes him a sort of godfather of the industry.
At any given time, Coler says, he has between 20 and 25 writers. And it was one of them who wrote the story in the Denver Guardian that an FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days the site got 1.6 million views. He says stories like this work because they fit into existing right-wing conspiracy theories.
“The people wanted to hear this,” he says. “So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional: the town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. And then … our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire.” And as the stories spread, Coler makes money from the ads on his websites. He wouldn’t give exact figures, but he says stories about other fake-news proprietors making between $10,000 and $30,000 a month apply to him. Coler fits into a pattern of other faux news sites that make good money, especially by targeting Trump supporters.
Coler, a registered Democrat, says he has no regrets about his fake news empire. He doesn’t think fake news swayed the election. “There are many factors as to why Trump won that don’t involve fake news,” he says. “As much as I like Hillary, she was a poor candidate. She brought in a lot of baggage.”
Fake News: White House and Germany
President Barack Obama and his nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson react to an unexpected commotion by Tot, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016. National Turkey Federation Chairman John Reicks watches at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Agence France-Press (AFP) via Yahoo, Merkel warns against fake news driving populist gains, Staff report, Nov. 23, 2016. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday against the power of fake news on social media to spur the rise of populists, after launching her campaign for a fourth term. Speaking in parliament for the first time since her announcement Sunday that she would seek re-election next year, Merkel cautioned that public opinion was being “manipulated” on the internet.
“Something has changed — as globalisation has marched on, (political) debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren’t formed the way they were 25 years ago,” she said. “Today we have fake sites, bots, trolls — things that regenerate themselves, reinforcing opinions with certain algorithms and we have to learn to deal with them.”
Merkel, 62 and shown in a file photo along with a German flag, said the challenge for democrats was to “reach and inspire people — we must confront this phenomenon and if necessary, regulate it.” She said she supported initiatives by her right-left coalition government to crack down on “hate speech” on social media in the face of what she said were “concerns about the stability of our familiar order”. “Populism and political extremes are growing in Western democracies,” she warned.
Last week, Google and Facebook moved to cut off ad revenue to bogus news sites after a US election campaign in which the global misinformation industry may have influenced the outcome of the vote. But media watchers say more is needed to stamp out a powerful phenomenon seen by some experts as a threat to democracy itself.
Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats are the odds-on favourites to win the German national election, expected in September or October 2017. But she is facing a strong challenge from a resurgent rightwing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has her liberal refugee and migration policy in its crosshairs.
Oceti Sakowin encampment Oct. 6, 2016.
The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Oceti Sakowin (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win), meaning Seven Council Fires (John Briggs Photo)
Cool Justice Report, Resistance at Standing Rock: Dispatch from the Front Lines, John Briggs (Professor emeritus, Western Connecticut State University and shown in photo), Nov. 23, 2016. Native Americans from tribes across the country have gathered on the windswept plains of North Dakota to pray with Mother Earth to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from pumping 500,000 gallons of oil a day beneath the Missouri River. The natives know the pipeline will most certainly leak or break, as have most U.S. pipelines, fouling the water for the Great Sioux Nation and 18 million non-Natives downstream.
The standoff — which began in April — continues as a new U.S. administration ascends to power with a president-elect who campaigned denying human-caused climate change and threatening the Paris Climate accords. This remains the overriding reality despite a mini walk back by Donald Trump pledging an open mind to The New York Times this week.
Standing Rock illuminates the brazen alliance that has developed between corporate and government interests. Viewed from the front lines, the law has been turned into a fig leaf for repression and suppression. Only the discipline and spiritual clarity of the water protectors and the native elders has kept people from being killed or seriously injured since April when the movement began.
The mainstream corporate media has largely ignored the stand-off at Standing Rock. Rallies have taken place around the world at places like Tokyo, Stockholm, and Auckland, but the sad truth is many foreigners have heard more about Standing Rock than Americans have. Not surprising.
Compare the government response at Standing Rock with the response occasioned by Ammon Bundy and his gang of armed militants when they occupied Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for over a month in January 2016. Imagine if the Bundy gang had been pepper sprayed, beaten, hit with water cannon, tased. But the Bundy crew were taking over the refuge to proclaim their belief that public lands should be given free to the profit-making private ranching business. In other words, the Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians.
The news editors, working for corporate media conglomerates, choose what they believe we should know and what fits the larger corporate agenda, and so they devote massively more play to Brad Pitt, to the gossipy politics of who’s-on-first, and to whatever the latest glittering consumer thing is than they do to climate change and issues highlighted by the poor and the powerless, like Standing Rock. What coverage that does exist is usually cursory and misleading.
Huffington Post, Clinton Now Leads Trump By More Than 2 Million Ballots In Popular Vote, Nick Wing, Nov. 23, 2016. And her lead is projected to continue increasing. While the nation’s attention has already shifted to Donald Trump’s moves as president-elect, his share of the total vote continues to decrease. Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead surpassed 2 million ― or about 1.5 percent of the overall vote ― on Wednesday morning, with 64,225,863 ballots now counted in her favor, compared to 62,210,612 for Trump, according to David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
There are still a few million ballots left to count, and they’re expected to be disproportionately for Clinton. It became clear on Election Night that Clinton was going to win the popular vote, even as Trump secured a comfortable victory in the Electoral College. It was the second time in two decades that a Democratic candidate had garnered more votes, only to lose the presidency to the Republican challenger.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore got 500,000 more votes than Republican George W. Bush, but came up short in the Electoral College due to a hotly contested race in Florida. At the time, Gore’s margin of victory in the popular vote was the largest for any candidate that had gone on to lose the election.
Greg Palast via Facebook, Exclusive: Jill Stein just called, Green Party filing for recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Greg Palast, Nov. 23, 2016. Jill Stein just called to say that I am the first one to be informed that the Green Party is formally petitioning for a recount in 3 states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump’s margin is less that 11,600 in Michigan, 27,200 in Wisconsin and 68,000 in Pennsylvania.
If just a few thousand votes are found in Wisconsin and Michigan, Hillary Clinton becomes president by 276 electoral votes verses 264 for Trump.
Stein told me “We’re filing in Wisconsin Friday because the votes were cast on proven hack-prone machines. This has been a hack-ridden election.” She said that it will be most difficult to recount the machines in Pennsylvania. When asked why the democrats are not bringing this action, Stein told this reporter that “Democrats do not act to protect the vote even when there is dramatic evidence” of tampering. The Green Party told us that Stein will be represented by experienced voting rights attorney’s John Bonifaz, Boston, MA and Robert Fitrakis, Columbus, OH.
Stein said, “our voting system is on life support.” The presidential candidate also said, “The Green Party will continue to be the go-to advocate for voting rights. That includes fighting vote suppression tactics such as the Interstate Crosscheck system.” The creator of the program, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach now being considered top contender by Trump to head Department of Homeland Security.
Interstate Crosscheck is the program which wrongly purged hundreds of thousand of minority voters in this election, according to the investigation this reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine.
KPFA “Guns and Butter,” Fingerprints of theft in the election, Bonnie Faulkner interviews author Jonathan Simon on election fraud, Nov. 23, 2016. Still struggling to pooh-pooh “conspiracy theory” of election theft, the New York Times blacks out Jill Stein’s amazing drive for funds.
Washington Post, Trump’s chief adviser received salary from charity while steering Breitbart News, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Nov. 23, 2016. The ties between Breitbart and the Government Accountability Institute, the charity Stephen Bannon launched in 2012, call into question assertions the institute made in filings to the IRS that it is an independent, nonpartisan operation.
Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon (shown in a file photo) accepted $376,000 in pay over four years for working 30 hours a week at a tiny tax-exempt charity in Tallahassee while also serving as the hands-on executive chairman of Breitbart News Network.
During the same four-year period, the charity paid about $1.3 million in salaries to two other journalists who said they put in 40 hours a week there while also working for the politically conservative news outlet, according to publicly available documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The salary payments are one part of a close relationship between the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, a conservative investigative research organization, and for-profit Breitbart News.
Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has become the clarion of the alt-right, a term embraced by conservatives estranged from mainstream Republicans and decried by those on the left as racist and xenophobic.
Washington Post, The racist history of Southern white evangelicalism and the rise of Donald Trump, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (shown in a file photo), Nov. 23, 2016. This is the true story of faith in America. It has not always been on the side of truth. In every era, reactionary forces have exploited faith to push back against the very progress that God requires of us.
USA Today, Amazon squashes Trump trolls’ attacks on Megyn Kelly book, William Cummings, Nov. 23, 2016. Amazon appeared to remove several politically motivated negative reviews of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s memoir Settle for More after a flood of one-star ratings drew media attention.
As of early Wednesday, 17% of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book one star. At one point, as many as 76% of the reviews were one-star, Slate reported. The Los Angeles Times reported that many of the reviews were linked to a pro-Trump Reddit forum called “The_Donald.” Some commenters picked up on the removal of the negative reviews. “Tim from MD.,” for example, wrote a post titled “Over 120 1 star reviews have been deleted. Are we living in a free country anymore?”
Intercept, Trump CIA Pick Mike Pompeo Depicted War on Terror as Islamic Battle Against Christianity, Lee Fang, Nov. 23, 2016. Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, has at times depicted the fight against terrorism as a war between radical Muslims, on one side, and the Christian faith on the other.
“This threat to America,” Pompeo told a church group in Wichita in 2014, is from a minority of Muslims “who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer.”
“They abhor Christians,” Pompeo said, “and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”
The Kansas lawmaker is best known in the national media for his zealous investigations of Hillary Clinton’s response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. government facility in Benghazi and as a reliable voice in support of the intelligence agencies. He has pushed for broad National Security Agency powers and supports interrogation techniques broadly viewed as torture. He’s also a fervent supporter of Koch Industries, sponsoring energy legislation backed by the company, while publicly defending the firm’s controversial billionaire owners from public criticism. But less has been reported on Pompeo’s history of blending religion and politics.
Truthout, Trump’s National Security Adviser Facilitated the Murder of Civilians in Afghanistan, Gareth Porter, Nov. 23, 2016. After retired Lt. Gen. Michael J. Flynn spoke at the Republican National Convention, The Washington Post captured the prevailing media view of Flynn in the headline: “He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.”
Now that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Flynn (shown in a file photo) as his national security adviser, media coverage has given prominence to the more serious issue of Flynn’s denunciation of Islam as a “cancer” and other manifestations of his embrace of Islamophobia.
But the mainstream media view of Flynn’s military record ignores his pivotal role in devising a targeting scheme that was the basis for an indiscriminate Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) campaign of killing and incarcerating Afghans suspected of being in the Taliban insurgency. The corporate media, which have never examined that dark chapter in the history of the Afghanistan war critically, have long treated the campaign as one of the few success stories of the war
But as an investigation published by Truthout in 2011 revealed, the target list that JSOC used for its “night raids” and other operations to kill supposed Taliban was based on a fundamentally flawed methodology that was inherently incapable of distinguishing between Taliban insurgents and civilians who had only tangential contacts with the Taliban organization. And it was Flynn who devised that methodology.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley with National Press Club President John Hughes in 2015 (Noel St. John Photo)
Washington Post, Trump nominates Nikki Haley, Betsy DeVos as first female Cabinet picks, Jerry Markon, Robert Costa and Emma Brown, Nov. 23, 2016. The South Carolina governor has accepted the offer to join the new administration as U.N. ambassador, though she once lambasted Donald Trump as “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.” Trump named Betsy DeVos, a conservative activist and billionaire philanthropist who has pushed forcefully for private school voucher programs nationwide, as his nominee for education secretary. The nominations add diversity to an inner circle that was already coming under fire for being composed mostly of white men.
Haley’s nomination had marked Trump’s first female appointment to a Cabinet-level post after his initial selections, such as Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions and incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn, had been older white men.
DeVos (shown in her Twitter photo) immediately drew scathing opposition from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teacher’s union. “By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities,’’ NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement. “She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.’’
DeVos — whose husband, Dick DeVos Jr., is an heir to the Amway direct-sale fortune — is a Michigan power broker and major donor to conservative causes and candidates around the country. Her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, one of the most profitable private security contractors during the Iraq War. DeVos and her family supported Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the GOP presidential primaries and she was never an enthusiastic supporter of Trump. “I still have reservations about him as a person,” she told the Washington Post in July at the Republican National Convention, which she attended as a Michigan delegate.
Huffington Post, Ben Carson Considering Housing And Urban Development Secretary, Kim Bellware, Nov. 23, 2016. A Carson aide said just last week that the retired neurosurgeon felt he wasn’t qualified to accept a Cabinet role. Ben Carson is reportedly considering an offer to serve as Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary in President-elect Donald Trump’s forthcoming administration. Carson said Wednesday night in an interview with Fox News that “the offer is on the table” and said a decision could be expected “in the next few days.”
“We did in fact have a discussion of what things need to be done in the country and what the options were,” he said. If Carson (shown in a file photo) takes the position, it would be a major reversal for the retired neurosurgeon, who ran as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate and has never held elected office. Just last week, Carson told The Washington Post that he would rather “work from the outside and not from the inside,” and said through spokesman Armstrong Williams that he felt he was not qualified to run a federal agency on account of having no political experience.
Washington Post, What TV journalists did wrong — and the New York Times did right — in meeting with Trump, Margaret Sullivan, Nov. 23, 2016. Trump has masterfully manipulated the media for the past 18 months. But despite a tweet attack from the president-elect, the Times successfully called his bluff.
MondoWeiss, Keith Ellison seeks to placate Israel lobby, by saying he is against BDS, Philip Weiss, Nov. 23, 2016. A battle has begun inside the Democratic Party over Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to be Democratic Party chair, and the Israel consensus is again the central question. Ellison (shown above) is one of the few critics of Israel inside the party. The right wing Israel lobby is quietly mounting opposition to Ellison; and Ellison has parried by telling his hometown Minneapolis Star and Tribune and other publications that he is against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Intercept, Reporter Who Laughed at Keith Ellison’s Trump Prediction Gives Platform to His Anonymous Critics, Zaid Jilani, Nov. 23, 2016. The New York Times on Tuesday published an article portraying the Obama White House as skeptical of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison’s ability to lead the Democratic National Committee. Ellison, who endorsed Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary and is viewed by many as a sort of Sanders proxy, declared his candidacy earlier this month, emphasizing a need to prioritize grassroots organizing.
The Times article claims that Obama’s White House is “uneasy with the progressive Mr. Ellison,” and that it has “begun casting about for an alternative, according to multiple Democratic officials close to the president.” It notes that some senior Democrats are backing Labor Secretary Tom Perez and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm — both of whom were Clinton surrogates during the 2016 election — for the top DNC spot instead. The piece also notes some of the concerns about Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, that have been aired in recent weeks: He has left-wing views on the Middle East conflict; in his youth he had some affinity for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan; and he would be a part-time, not a full-time, leader of the DNC.
Antiwar.com, Trump’s Syria Shift Begins as Son Meets Opposition Figure in Paris, Jason Ditz, Nov. 23, 2016. Since the election, there have been talks of President-elect Donald Trump dramatically shifting US policy in Syria, moving away from supporting the rebels to focusing on fighting ISIS, with the expectation that he will align more closely to the Russian government in joint strikes on ISIS. That appears to be happening already, with Donald Trump Jr. attending a Paris meeting with Randa Kassis, a Syrian opposition figure who has supported Russian intervention and has supported the idea of a peaceful political transition including the Assad government’s leadership. That Trump is already having his family attending meetings portends a change away from supporting the war and toward supporting a political transition.
Washington Post, It’s unrealistic and unfair to make Trump use a blind trust, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, Nov. 22, 2016. David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, who practice appellate and constitutional law in the District, served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Rivkin also served in the White House counsel’s office in the George H.W. Bush administration.
Suggestions that President-elect Donald Trump put his business holdings in a “blind trust” to avoid potential conflicts of interest are unrealistic and unfair. Such a trust would not eliminate the virtual certainty that actions Trump takes as president will affect his personal wealth, for good or ill. The step is not required by law. And presidents who have chosen to use this device held very different assets than Trump’s. He can keep his holdings and adopt a reasonable system to avoid conflicts and reassure the American people that the Trump administration is acting ethically.
To establish a blind trust of the sort used by his predecessors, Trump would not merely have to liquidate a securities portfolio and permit an independent trustee to manage those assets. He would have to sell off business holdings that he has built and managed most of his life, and with which he is personally identified in a way that few other business magnates are. Trump has suggested that he will let his adult children run the family businesses during his presidency, and there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents this arrangement.
Washington Post, Trump backs away from some of his campaign promises, Karen Tumulty, Nov. 22, 2016. Donald Trump said he does not plan to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email system or the dealings of her family foundation, despite calling her “Crooked Hillary” during the campaign and once threatening to put her in jail. In a meeting with journalists at the New York Times, Trump also said he has an “open mind” about a climate-change accord from which he vowed to withdraw the United States and is no longer certain that torturing terrorism suspects is a good idea.
Washington Post, Trump’s comments on Clinton raise questions about Justice Department independence, Matt Zapotosky and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 22, 2016. Nov. 22, 2016. Prosecutors typically operate without White House interference.
Unz Review, The Liberation of the Slaves, Israel Shamir, Nov. 22, 2016. Donald Trump’s electoral victory unleashed pent-up tectonic energies on the unprecedented scale. The world has been changed, much more than could be expected from any election of a US president. Just a short time has passed since election day, but it appears that the New World Order has received a shattering blow. There is a great feeling of freedom in the air, as if the vote broke the chains of a generation, and we suddenly found ourselves free. As the first sign of this new freedom, there are reports that the dreaded TTIP and TTP, the twin agreements almost imposed by Obama administration on the world, are as good as dead.
Washington Post, Michelle Rhee was an outsider trying to tear up the school bosses, just like Trump, Jay Mathews, Nov. 22, 2016. In his 2010 documentary “Waiting For ‘Superman’,” Davis Guggenheim used me as a talking head to explain one of the movie’s heroes, D.C. Public Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. I said Rhee was “somebody who had not gotten a Ph.D, who had only been a teacher three years, hadn’t been a principal, hadn’t been a superintendent anywhere else, and said she was going to tear up the district.” That sounds like a possible Trump Secretary of Education to me. She met the president-elect on Saturday, but she tweeted Tuesday that she is not going to pursue a position in the administration.
New York Magazine, Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States, Gabriel Sherman, Nov. 22, 2016. Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.
Last Thursday, the activists held a conference call with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias to make their case, according to a source briefed on the call. The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.
According to current tallies, Trump has won 290 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232, with Michigan’s 16 votes not apportioned because the race there is still too close to call. It would take overturning the results in both Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes), in addition to winning Michigan’s 16, for Clinton to win the Electoral College. There is also the complicating factor of “faithless electors,” or members of the Electoral College who do not vote according to the popular vote in their states. At least six electoral voters have said they would not vote for Trump, despite the fact that he won their states.
The Clinton camp is running out of time to challenge the election. According to one of the activists, the deadline in Wisconsin to file for a recount is Friday; in Pennsylvania, it’s Monday; and Michigan is next Wednesday. Whether Clinton will call for a recount remains unclear. The academics so far have only a circumstantial case that would require not just a recount but a forensic audit of voting machines. Also complicating matters, a senior Clinton adviser said, is that the White House, focused on a smooth transfer of power, does not want Clinton to challenge the election result. Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri did not respond to a request for comment. But some Clinton allies are intent on pushing the issue. This afternoon, Huma Abedin’s sister Heba encouraged her Facebook followers to lobby the Justice Department to audit the 2016 vote. “Call the DOJ…and tell them you want the votes audited,” she wrote. “Even if it’s busy, keep calling.”
Roll Call, Sen. Bernie Sanders has denounced President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal as “a scam,” Eric Garcia, Nov. 22, 2016. Some Democrats have signaled that updating the nation’s infrastructure might be something they could work with the incoming president on. But Sanders (shown below in an official photo) said Trump’s plan would create new tax loopholes for corporations. The Vermont independent noted that the Rebuild America Act which he introduced in 2015 eliminates loopholes for corporations that stashed profits overseas.
Trump’s plan bears similarity to a piece of legislation proposed last year by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, which would allow corporations to return foreign earnings to the U.S. at a tax rate of 6.5 percent to be transferred into the Highway Trust Fund. “And then he would allow the companies to ‘invest’ in infrastructure projects in exchange for even more tax breaks,” Sanders wrote. “Trump’s plan is corporate welfare coming and going.” Sanders wrote that he plans to re-introduce his legislation from last year.
“Unlike Trump’s plan, which creates new tax loopholes and is a corporate giveaway, my Rebuild America Act would be paid for by eliminating tax loopholes that allow hugely profitable multinational corporations to stash their profits in offshore tax havens around the world,” he wrote.
Washington Post, Trump Foundation apparently admits to IRS it violated ban on ‘self-dealing,’ David A. Fahrenthold, Nov. 22, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has admitted to the IRS that it violated a legal prohibition against “self-dealing,” which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.
That admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were posted online Monday evening at the nonprofit-tracking site Guidestar. A Guidestar spokesman said the forms were uploaded by the Trump Foundation’s law firm, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius. That admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were posted online Monday evening. The Post has reported cases in which Trump appeared to use foundation money to buy items for himself or to help one of his for-profit businesses.
The Trump Foundation has existed since 1987. This appeared to be the first time that it had admitted committing such a violation. Philip Hackney, who formerly worked in the IRS chief counsel’s office and now teaches at Louisiana State University, said he wanted to know why the Trump Foundation was now admitting to self-dealing in prior years — when, in all prior years, it had told the IRS it had done nothing of the kind.
Intercept, Hedge Fund Managers Expect a Return on Their Investment in Donald Trump, David Dayen, Nov. 22, 2016. “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country,” Donald Trump told “Face the Nation” in August 2015. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.” In fact, the paper-pushers got extremely lucky when Donald Trump was elected. Trump’s victory has facilitated one of the most audacious hedge fund plays in recent U.S. history — one poised to pay off in billions of dollars. Billionaire investors are buying worthless stocks in the hope of bullying the government into re-animating them. And now the government just might grant their wish.
The holdings in question are mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the government put into federal conservatorship in 2008. The Treasury Department in 2012 changed the terms of the deal, sweeping all of Fannie’s and Freddie’s profits into the government. After these maneuvers, shareholders were thought to have been wiped out. But hedge funds continued to buy stock in the companies. They wanted to force the government to recapitalize Fannie and Freddie and release them back into the private sector. In that event, the stock price would shoot up (before the financial crisis, each traded at $60 a share), giving investors an astronomical return on their investment. Hedge funds don’t have to disclose their stakes in individual stocks, but reports indicate that just one, Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital, has $475 million invested in the companies.
The hedge funds mounted pressure on several fronts to ensure they’d win their bet. They lobbied Congress to privatize the mortgage companies. They built advocacy groups to argue for their position. They fought Treasury’s profit sweep in a series of lawsuits. And this year, they embarked upon buying themselves a president.
John Paulson, one of the largest investors in the Fannie and Freddie play, has a history of getting rich off the housing market. He famously worked with Goldman Sachs in 2007 to short subprime mortgage bonds, without informing investors on the other side of the bet about the poor quality of the underlying loans. That was worth $4 billion.
Since profiting off homeowner misery, Paulson has struggled with uneven returns. In the first quarter of this year, his main two funds each fell 15 percent, and his assets under management have dropped from $36 billion to $13 billion in just six years. But Paulson still had his Fannie and Freddie play, and he donated millions to the effort to influence the government on its behalf. Besides, Donald Trump, one of Paulson’s fund investors and business partners (Paulson was one of the owners of the Doral Golf Club when Trump purchased it), happened to be running for president.
Paulson cozied up to Trump. He hosted a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in New York City. He served as an economic adviser to the Trump campaign. And he personally gave $330,000, the maximum donation, to the effort. Since the election, the market has recognized that this close relationship to Trump likely equals an end to the Fannie and Freddie profit sweep, a partial or total privatization of the mortgage giants, and a personal benefit for John Paulson.
Consortium News, US House Seeks Syria-War Escalation, Rick Sterling, Nov. 22, 2016. Moving to trap President-elect Trump into a war escalation in Syria, the House rushed through a resolution promoting a U.S.-imposed “no fly zone” that could spark World War III. Late in the day, on Nov. 15, one week after the U.S. elections, the lame-duck Congress convened in special session with normal rules suspended so the House could pass House Resolution 5732, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act” calling for intensifying the already harsh sanctions on Syria, assessing the imposition of a “no fly zone” inside Syria (to prevent the Syrian government from flying) and escalating efforts to press criminal charges against Syrian officials.
HR5732 claims to promote a negotiated settlement in Syria but, as analyzed by Friends Committee for National Legislation, it imposes preconditions which would actually make a peace agreement more difficult. There was 40 minutes of “debate” with six representatives (Ed Royce, R-California; Eliot Engel, D-New York; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida; Dan Kildee, D-Michigan; Chris Smith, R-New Jersey; and Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida) all speaking in favor of the resolution. There were few other representatives present, but the House Foreign Affairs Committee stated that the resolution was passed “unanimously” without mentioning these special conditions.
Most strikingly, the resolution calls for evaluating and developing plans for the United States to impose a “no fly zone” inside Syria, a sovereign nation, an act of war that also would violate international law as an act of aggression. It also could put the U.S. military in the position of shooting down Russian aircraft. To call this proposal “non-controversial” is absurd, although it may say a great deal about the “group think” of the U.S. Congress that an act of war would be so casually considered. Clearly, this resolution should have been debated under normal rules with a reasonable amount of Congressional presence and debate.
Around the Nation
New York Times, Democrats’ Leadership Fight Pits West Wing Against Left Wing, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 22, 2016. Struggling to respond to Donald J. Trump’s victory, a group of shellshocked Democrats moved swiftly to endorse Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, hoping that he would be a fresh face for a party with a depleted bench.
But after steadily adding endorsements from leading Democrats in his bid to take over the party, Mr. Ellison is encountering resistance from a formidable corner: the White House.
In a sign of the discord gripping the party, President Obama’s loyalists, uneasy with the progressive Mr. Ellison, have begun casting about for an alternative, according to multiple Democratic officials close to the president. The battle pits the titans of the Democratic Party against one another, with Mr. Obama’s camp at odds with figures like Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Democratic leader, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Mr. Obama’s advisers, some of whom discussed the party leadership race at a White House meeting last week, have talked about whether Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan would be willing to run for the post. Mr. Perez met with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. last week and had lunch Tuesday in the White House Mess with Valerie Jarrett, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, while also visiting with David Simas, Mr. Obama’s political director.
Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, AE911 Truth Goes Grassroots at State Architecture Conventions, Staff report, Nov. 22, 2016. The time-tested method of outreach practiced at these conventions is simple: Invite, engage, and allow observers to draw their own conclusions from what they are seeing. In state after state across the country, supporters of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth are laying the foundation for a breakthrough that will help bring our message to the attention of building professionals everywhere. The goal is to rally fellow architect-members at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to adopt a position statement supporting a new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7).
Buzzfeed, Draft Washington Post Column Claimed Trump Said He Was “Sexually Attracted” To His Teenage Daughter, Tamerra Griffin, Nov. 22, 2016. The line appeared in a draft of Richard Cohen’s syndicated column, but vanished prior to publication. The line appeared in a draft of Richard Cohen’s syndicated column, but vanished prior to publication. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote that President-elect Donald Trump once asked, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?” — but the quote was quietly removed before the syndicated column was published Tuesday.
Trump was reportedly referring to his daughter, Ivanka, who was 13 years old at the time. The quote was circulated Monday in a draft of Cohen’s piece “Our Next President, The Godfather” that was sent to outlets that syndicate the column, a source told BuzzFeed News. The quote did not appear in the later, final version of the piece carried by the Post and other outlets.
Cohen’s column details the president-elect’s increasingly blurred familial and political ties as he prepares to enter the White House. The reporting appeared in an advance version of the column that was circulated on Monday for publication on Tuesday and thereafter. It appeared as an aside after the introduction of Jared Kushner, which still appears in the final column:
Jared Kushner, our Tom Hagen, who married Trump’s stunning daughter Ivanka — “Can I ask you something?” Trump asked someone I know, about his then-13-year-old kid, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?” — has lately lost some of this Boy Scout aura. It turns out Kushner’s admission to Harvard was preceded by his father’s $2.5 million pledge.
Outlets received another version of the column later in the day, with the text between the “—” removed. None of the sites that syndicate Cohen’s column appear to have published the quote in the draft. In an email sent to BuzzFeed News shortly after publication, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said, “We (or the Washington Post Writers Group, our affiliated syndicate) edit every column to try to make it as good as it can be.”
“We don’t think it would be fair to our writers to discuss the editing process, and don’t see what is to be gained by talking about things that are not published — there are countless drafts that never see the light of day,” Hiatt added.
Fox News, Denver Sheriff’s Department fined $10K for hiring only US citizens, Elizabeth Llorente, Nov. 22, 2016. The Denver Sheriff’s Department set out to hire scores of deputies last year to lessen the burden on its staff and cut millions in overtime. It advertised for prospects, and included U.S. citizenship as a requirement. By this past spring, it had hired 200 deputies.
The Justice Department did not congratulate the agency – instead, it slapped Colorado’s largest sheriff’s department with a $10,000 fine and a host of steps it must take to address what was described as discriminatory hiring. In a summary of the settlement on its website, the Justice Department said that in insisting on citizenship, the Denver Sheriff’s Department violated an anti-discrimination provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that forbids employers from hiring only U.S. citizens except in cases where it is mandated “by law, regulation, executive order or government contract.”
That could be a legal permanent resident who has not naturalized, for example, or someone on a temporary visa who has a work permit.
The fine against the Denver agency was the target of criticism on social media, including on the Facebook page of the group “Blue Lives Matter.” Critics said that law enforcement agencies at local, state and federal levels routinely make citizenship a requirement of those they employ, and that the nature of the job should always make it a condition.
Inside Higher Ed, New website seeks to register professors accused of liberal bias and “anti-American values,” Colleen Flaherty, Nov. 22, 2016. A new website is asking students and others to “expose and document” professors who “discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” The site, called Professor Watchlist, is not without precedent — predecessors include the now-defunct NoIndoctrination.org, which logged accounts of alleged bias in the classroom. There’s also David Horowitz’s 2006 book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. But such efforts arguably have new meaning in an era of talk about registering certain social groups and concerns about free speech.
Professor Watchlist, launched Monday, is a project of Turning Point USA. The group’s mission is to “identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.” Its national college and university field program works to “identify young conservative activists, build and maintain effective student groups, advertise and rebrand conservative values, engage in face-to-face and peer-to-peer conversations about the pressing issues facing our country,” according to its website.
The group’s founder, Charlie Kirk — a millennial who has emerged in some conservative political circles as a major player — did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Professor Watchlist, but he promoted it on social media.
Washington Post, Obama grants clemency to 79 federal drug offenders, a policy the Trump administration is unlikely to continue, Sari Horwitz, Nov. 22, 2016. The announcement pushes the number of inmates the president has granted clemency to more than 1,000.
Obama’s historic number of commutations was announced as administration officials are moving quickly to rule on all the pending clemency applications from inmates before the end of the year. The Trump administration is not expected to keep in place Obama’s initiative to provide relief to non-violent drug offenders. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that the Justice Dept will continue to recommend more commutations through the end of the Obama administration.
JFK Assassination Anniversary Nov. 22 and Commentary
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Books & Books (Coral Gables, FL), NYT Bestsellers To Debate JFK Assassination Nov. 22 in Florida, Staff report, Nov. 22, 2016. Roger Stone and Gerald Posner debate JFK’s assassination in a debate moderated by the Miami Herald’s Glenn Garvin. On the 53rd anniversary of that fateful day in Dealey Plaza, South Florida will host a debate on competing theories surrounding the murder. Roger Stone, (shown at right) a veteran political operative and advisor to Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Bush will face investigative reporter Gerald Posner. Both men have written extensively detailed books on the matter and have competing theories on the crime that rocked the world. Update: Video is here and above but needs audio amplification.
In The Man Who Killed Kennedy, The Case Against LBJ, Stone colorfully posits that Vice President Lyndon Banes Johnson was behind the assassination. Posner’s Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the JFK Assassination, relentlessly defends the findings of the Warren Commission, which declared Lee Harvey Oswald acted completely alone. The debate will be moderated by veteran journalist Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald and will be hosted at the Coral Gables Books & Books.
Roger Stone is a seasoned operative and pundit. A veteran of nine national presidential campaigns, he has served as a senior campaign aide to three Republican presidents. Described as a “fascinating and colorful figure who has played a role in GOP politics for decades”, Stone is a NYT bestselling author of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, Nixon’s Secrets, and The Clintons War On Women. He had a prominent role in the 2016 presidential election as an informal advisor to President-elect Donald Trump.
Gerald Posner (above left) is an award winning journalist, bestselling author and attorney. The Los Angeles Times dubs him “a classic-style investigative journalist.” “His work is painstakingly honest journalism” concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his “exhaustive research techniques” and The Boston Globe talked of Posner’s “thorough and hard-edge investigation.” “A meticulous and serious researcher,” said the New York Daily News.
Los Angeles Times, Lee Harvey Oswald’s little green book shows JFK wasn’t the real target, James Reston Jr., Nov. 22, 2016. In the hours after the Kennedy assassination, after Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit and was identified as the president’s assassin, a Secret Service officer named Mike Howard was dispatched to Oswald’s apartment. Howard found a little green address book, and on its 17th page under the heading “I WILL KILL” Oswald listed four men: an FBI agent named James Hosty; a right-wing general, Edwin Walker; and Vice President Richard Nixon. At the top of the list was the governor of Texas, John Connally. Through Connally’s name, Oswald had drawn a dagger, with blood drops dripping downward.
Special Agent Howard turned the address book over to the FBI and, ultimately, to the Warren Commission. Only some time later did he learn that the list with its hugely important insight into the killer’s motive had been torn out of the book. I didn’t hear about Howard until after I published my book “The Accidental Victim” three years ago on the 50th anniversary of the assassination. In it I argue a circumstantial case that it was Connally, not John F. Kennedy, who was Oswald’s target in Dallas. It is the story of a smoldering grudge in which Oswald came to associate Connally with all the setbacks in his disastrous, hopeless life.
For 53 years, a cottage industry has developed over the motive for the Kennedy assassination. It had to be connected to the Mafia or the Russians or the Cubans or Oswald’s Marxist beliefs or Jack Ruby’s petty crimes in the Dallas underworld. [But] Oswald was no coldhearted professional assassin under orders. The real answer to the reasons he took aim are to be found in his frustrations and obsessions. And the real tragedy of Dallas lies in the accidental death of a president who just happened to be in the line of fire.
MotherJones, Was Lee Harvey Oswald just a bad shot? Kevin Drum, Nov. 22, 2016. Three years ago James Reston Jr. published “The Accidental Victim,” arguing that Lee Harvey Oswald was actually trying to kill Texas Gov. John Connally, and hit JFK only by accident.
Washington Post, How Rudy Giuliani’s brand as a crime-fighting mayor made him millions in Latin America, Matt Zapotosky and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 21, 2016. The former New York mayor’s security consulting business could create conflicts if he’s chosen as secretary of state. Rudolph W. Giuliani branded himself the man who cleaned up New York City, and not long after he left the mayor’s office, he insisted on seeing some of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Mexico City — albeit in an armored convoy with a huge security force — to assess how he could do the same there.
A consortium of Mexican businesses had paid Giuliani’s consulting firm $4.3 million for a comprehensive review of the city’s justice system — including police training, internal affairs and the prison system, said Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who helped manage the project.
The work — which Giuliani (shown in an official photo) went on to shop around Latin America — made the politician dubbed “America’s mayor” a wealthy man. He wrote in a 2007 financial disclosure form that the holding company for his business interests was worth $5 million to $25 million. But the effect Giuliani’s advice had on reducing crime is debatable. And now — as President-elect Donald Trump considers whether to appoint him to a Cabinet post — government ethics analysts and even a prominent Republican senator are questioning how Giuliani might be able to set aside financial entanglements with foreign interests should he return to public office.
Washington Post, Trump is seeking to build a diverse team, aides insist, Karen Tumulty and Jerry Markon, Nov. 21, 2016. Though President-elect Donald Trump’s first five picks for top jobs in his administration have all been white men, transition officials insisted Monday that the team he ultimately puts together will represent a cross-section of America. Meanwhile, Trump released a video in which he outlined a series of executive actions he intends to take on his first day in office, including issuing notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and canceling restrictions on energy production.
Washington Post, Retired general who clashed with Obama could head Homeland Security, Jerry Markon, Nov. 21, 2016. Two new names have emerged as possible candidates for Department of Homeland Security secretary under President-elect Donald Trump, including a retired Marine general who clashed with the Obama administration over women in combat and plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, people familiar with the selection process said Monday. Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, who retired this year as chief of U.S. Southern Command, is under consideration for the critical homeland security post, the people said. Also under consideration is Frances Townsend, a top homeland security and counterterrorism official in the George W. Bush administration, they said.
Washington Post, Trump drawing up plans to erode job protections, benefits for federal workers, Lisa Rein, Nov. 21, 2016. Hiring freezes, a green light to fire poor performers, a ban on union business on the government’s dime and less generous pensions are among the contours of the blueprint emerging under Republican control of Washington in January.
Consortium News, Trump’s Tulsi Gabbard Factor, Robert Parry, Nov. 21, 2016. By inviting in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat hostile to “regime change” wars, President-elect Trump may be signaling a major break with Republican neocon orthodoxy and a big shake-up of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Two weeks after Donald Trump’s shocking upset of Hillary Clinton, the imperious and imperial neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist understudies may finally be losing their tight grip on U.S. foreign policy.
The latest sign was Trump’s invitation for a meeting with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, on Monday. The mainstream media commentary has almost completely missed the potential significance of this start-of-the-work-week meeting, suggesting that Trump is attracted to Gabbard’s tough words on “radical Islamic terrorism
Politico, Clinton fights demand for more information on emails, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 21, 2016. Lawyers for Hillary Clinton are opposing a conservative group’s demand that she provide more details about the creation of the private server that hosted her email account while she was secretary of state. Last month, Clinton answered written questions that a federal judge authorized Judicial Watch to ask in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit related to her email set-up. She said she had no recollection that anyone ever suggested to her that the arrangement be at odds with FOIA or federal recordkeeping laws.
On Nov. 3, five days before the presidential election, Judicial Watch complained to U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan that Clinton did not provide full answers to all the questions the group asked.
Clinton’s attorneys responded in a court filing Monday that two of the three questions went beyond the scope of what Sullivan authorized Judicial Watch to inquire about.
Truth and Shadows, The ultimate weapon against dissent, Craig McKee, Nov. 21, 2016. CIA memo on JFK shooting leads entire culture to mock ‘conspiracy theories’ in defense of any official story It has been called the “conspiracy theory” conspiracy. But it’s not just a theory, it’s a fact. And like more than a few conspiracies it involves the Central Intelligence Agency – specifically a campaign in the 1960s to discredit those challenging the findings of the Warren Commission in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The agency achieved this by linking challenges to the official story with “conspiracy theories.” It is known as CIA dispatch #1035-960. It was distributed in 1967 but not released to the public until 1976 following a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times. On the dispatch were marked “PSYCH” (for psychological warfare) and Read more of this post
Washington Post, People are in the streets protesting Donald Trump. But when does protest actually work? Erica Chenoweth, Nov. 21, 2016. Erica Chenoweth is a professor in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and research fellow at the One Earth Future Foundation. Her next book, “Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know,” will appear next year from Oxford University Press.
The politics of dissent is back in the United States. Since 2011, the country has witnessed the resurgence of popular action — from Occupy Wall Street to Flood Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock. Since Nov. 8, many Americans have participated in protests and marches in nearly every major city in opposition to Donald Trump’s election — or to counterprotest in defense of it.
Recent data from around the world suggest that popular action is here to stay. Historically speaking, nonviolent struggle is a more effective technique than violent struggle. Among movements aimed at a country’s central leadership, nonviolent resistance has been twice as likely to succeed as armed struggle in the short term. Kathleen Cunningham has also found that nonviolent action is more successful than armed action in self-determination disputes. Moreover, nonviolent resistance campaigns are 10 times more likely to usher in democratic institutions than violent ones. Armed resistance actually tends to weaken democracy in previously democratic countries, while nonviolence resistance has no such effect.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump’s Lewd Remarks About Women Disturbed Guests At White House Event, Todd Van Luling, Nov. 21, 2016. HuffPost obtained Peggy Noonan’s 1994 out-of-print book which detailed Trump’s behavior. In 1993, Donald Trump attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as the guest of Vanity Fair. The future president sat next to model Vendela Kirsebom and spent the evening talking about breasts, how overweight women are not “real women,” and the person with whom he wanted to have sex in the room. The discussion was so vulgar that Kirsebom requested to be seated elsewhere.
Editor of Vanity Fair Graydon Carter briefly recalled these incidents in a piece written before the election about various moments he experienced with Trump. After publication, Kirsebom spoke to the Daily Mail to confirm Carter’s recollection. Now, The Huffington Post has obtained an out-of-print 1994 book by Ronald Reagan’s former speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, in which the conservative writer detailed the events much closer to when they happened.
“Donald Trump was with us, at the next table,” wrote Noonan in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. “A halo of sprayed hair, a face still round with subcutaneous fat. When we were introduced I looked into his eyes ― small, bright, thoughtfree ― and was surprised to think: He’s crazy.”
Trump’s behavior at the White House event suggests that his tendency to speak in this manner is not just “locker room banter” as he claimed when the Washington Post published leaked audio of him saying he grabs women “by the p***y.” This is how Trump spoke with strangers at a presidential gathering. The 1994 passage by Noonan contrasts a recent column she wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
HuffPost also spoke to Kirsebom, who confirmed the details of Carter’s and Noonan’s accounts. “He did talk about other women’s breasts and the size,” recalled Kiresbom. “If you were flat-chested, you are not really worth anything ― tons of derogative talking about women. If a woman would be successful, it would definitely be because she had bigger breasts. Stupid stuff that made no sense to me whatsoever and made me very upset.”
The model now lives in Oslo, Norway, and even from there she was baffled by the election results. “I was in shock,” said Kirsebom. “It was a dark day that Wednesday morning.” In his Vanity Fair piece, Carter ― who did not respond to a request for comment ― recalled what Kiresbom told him at the WHCD: “It seems that Trump had spent his entire time with her assaying the ‘tits’ and legs of the other female guests and asking how they measured up to those of other women, including his wife. ‘He is,’ she told me, in words that seemed familiar, ‘the most vulgar man I have ever met.’”
Washington Post, Trump’s extensive deals in India raise conflict-of-interest concerns, Annie Gowen, Nov. 21, 2016. The business ventures — and a financial relationship with a leading member of India’s governing party — will be a significant backdrop to the president-elect’s policy toward the country and its warily hostile neighbor, Pakistan.
Washington Post, Defiant Trump meets TV journalists, execs in private — and lets them have it, Paul Farhi, Nov. 21, 2016. The president-elect told a gathering in New York that coverage of him was “dishonest,” specifically calling out reporting by CNN and NBC that he deemed unfair. He told the group they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.
Guardian, Historian finds German decree banishing Trump’s grandfather, Kate Connolly, Nov. 21, 2016. Royal decree ordered Friedrich Trump to leave Bavaria and never come back after he failed to do military service.
A historian has discovered a royal decree issued to Donald Trump’s grandfather ordering him to leave Germany and never come back. Friedrich Trump, a German, was issued with the document in February 1905, and ordered to leave the kingdom of Bavaria within eight weeks as punishment for having failed to do mandatory military service and failing to give authorities notice of his departure to the US when he first emigrated in 1885.
Roland Paul, a historian from Rhineland-Palatinate who found the document in local archives, told the tabloid Bild: “Friedrich Trump emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1885. However, he failed to de-register from his homeland and had not carried out his military service, which is why the authorities rejected his attempt at repatriation.”
The decree orders the “American citizen and pensioner Friedrich Trump” to leave the area “at the very latest on 1 May … or else expect to be deported”. Bild called the archive find an “unspectacular piece of paper”, that had nevertheless “changed world history”.
Trump was born in Kallstadt, now in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, in 1869. He emigrated to the US aged 16 initially to escape poverty, attracted by the gold rush.
He quickly turned his attention to catering for the masses of other gold hunters in Alaska, later allegedly running a brothel for them, and there made his fortune. He habitually sent the gold nuggets with which his customers regularly paid for their food to his sisters who had already emigrated to New York and had started trading in property.
Returning on a visit to Kallstadt in 1901, Trump fell in love with Elisabeth Christ, whom he married a year later, returning with her to the US. But when she became homesick and wanted to return to Germany, the authorities blocked his attempts to settle there.
Trump transition goes on after weekend meeting potential appointees – live
In an effort to overturn the royal decree dated 27 February 1905, Trump wrote an obsequious letter appealing to Prince Regent Luitpold, addressing him as “the much-loved, noble, wise and righteous sovereign and sublime ruler”.
But the prince rejected the appeal and the Trumps left Germany for New York with their daughter on the Hapag steamship Pennsylvania on 1 July 1905. Elisabeth was three months pregnant with Donald Trump’s father, Fred.
Residents of Kallstadt, a small wine-growing town of about 1,200 people in south-west Germany, joke that the blame for Trump becoming US president-elect lies with the German authorities who threw his grandfather out. They have so far shown little enthusiasm for claiming the businessman turned politician as their own.
Around the Nation
Washington Post, Protesters — many of them undocumented — seek the release of a local immigration rights activist, Michael E. Miller, Nov. 21, 2016. The husband, children and supporters of Wendy Uruchi Contreras, slated to be deported to Spain after a DUI conviction, rallied outside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters.
JFKFacts.org, On JFK, Joyce Carol Oates blames the victim, Jefferson Morley, Nov. 21, 2016. In an essay for the Washington Post, prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates opines that the real problem in the aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy was not the government’s implausible and mendacious account of the crime but the confused and outraged response of the American majority that could not – and does not – believe it.
“If Kennedy’s assassination was a tragedy,” she writes in a review of Alexandra Zapruder’s book about her grandfather’s home movie of the assassination, “the aftermath of competing and vociferous conspiracy theorists was a farce, with serious consequences: the undermining of trust in the U.S. government and in authority in general that continues to this day.” As we approach the commemoration of JFK’s death on November 22, Oates’s stance is a reminder of the sources and power of denial. Rather than face the facts, Oates takes comfort in the fiction that the American people are to blame for their own suspicion and doubt.
Oates suggests that the critics of Warren Commission’s account undermined trust in government. She refrains from judging President Johnson or FBI director J. Edgar Hoover or former CIA director Allen Dulles decided within 48 hours of JFK’s death that Oswald alone had committed the crime and then ordered subordinates to reach that conclusion.
MaryFerrell.org, Mark The Date: Oct. 26, 2017, Rex Bradford, Nov. 20, 2016. This is a transcript of a video/slideshow presentation by Mary Ferrell Foundation President Rex Bradford (shown in a photo from a 2013 lecture), delivered at the 2016 “November in Dallas” research conference organized by JFK Lancer Events and Productions.
The date? October 26, 2017. That’s about 11 months away. Why is this date important? Because it’s the 25th anniversary of the passage of the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992. But the significance goes beyond the normal anniversary nostalgia. Here is a section from the JFK Records Act: “Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act…..”
And the National Archives is busy getting ready to do just that. They have published, and we have put online at maryferrell.org, a document listing 3,571 records which to this day have remained withheld in full. There are another roughly 35,000 documents which feature redactions — like this page of “The Lopez Report.” In 11 months, all of those redactions are supposed to be lifted.
Oh but wait, I forgot to read the rest of the sentence in the JFK Records Act. “Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full…..yadda yadda…..unless the President certifies, as required by this act, that: (i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and (ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
So, is this event going to be a big deal? What’s in these records? Will we get to see what’s behind the whiteout on this page from the CIA’s so-called family jewels” document, released in 2007 with much fanfare as a sign of new openness?
Personally, I have given up on the hunt for the smoking gun, but I also am very much looking forward to this release. We already have the RIF sheets — the metadata including titles, subjects, number of pages, etc. for all 3,571 fully withheld documents, so we have a sense of what to expect. This metadata, by the way, along with metadata for the full collection, is now all available and searchable at maryferrell.org, in a project called the JFK Database Explorer. The metadata cards I’ll be showing in this presentation were grabbed off these MFF pages.
Here’s a breakdown of those 3,571 documents by agency — FBI and CIA documents make up the bulk of them, but there’s a fair number of IRS records too. Why? Tax returns.
Here are metadata slides for a few of those IRS records. Tax returns for Lee Harvey Oswald — 1959, the Paines — 1962, hmm, here’s the William B. Reilly Coffee Company, where Oswald worked in New Orleans. Most of the FBI documents still with held are marked NBR — Not Believed Relevant, so many of them may not be of much interest, though I’m sure that judgment will differ from reader to reader.
But in general, and you can scan through these for yourself using the JFK Database Explorer, just from the titles and subjects it’s clear that there is much of interest in these still-withheld records. And the simple fact that these have been withheld for this long adds a bit of mystery. In some cases, like IRS records, the withholding is directly related to general government practices around documents. In other cases, it’s not at all clear why some documents are withheld. Let’s have a look at a few interesting samples…..
National Press Club, “Smitty” talk dominates Unipressers reunion at the Club, Wesley G. Pippert, Nov. 20, 2016. Merriman “Smitty” Smith was UPI’s White House correspondent from the Franklin Roosevelt administration through Richard Nixon. During its glory days, UP (subsequently UPI) was fueled by a host of talented but underpaid and understaffed correspondents, eternally bonded by a sense of esprit de corps.
The brightest star in this constellation was Merriman Smith,, shown in a file photo. When Smitty, as he was almost universally known, died the UPI story identified him as “Merriman Smith, the dean of White House correspondents.” The next day, one UPI staffer said the lead should have identified him as, simply and elegantly, “Merriman Smith, the White House reporter.” In other words, “THE White House reporter.”
Although he died 46 years ago, by his own hand perhaps during the grief of losing his namesake son in Vietnam, Smitty still dominated a gathering of Unipressers (including this writer) and friends at the National Press Club Thursday night to recall the long-gone glory days. The event, with several panelists, including Smith’s son, Tim, was arranged by Gil Klein the club’s chair of the history and archives committee. Much of its focused on Smitty’s coverage of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963, including an eyewitness account from Sid Davis, then a Westinghouse broadcaster and later NBC Washington bureau chief.
Bill Sanderson read from his forthcoming book about Smith and the assassination, Bulletins from Dallas, a detailed account of what happened when Smitty, as usual in the front seat in the motorcade’s press pool car, recognized three loud pops as coming from a gun. Smitty, who knew guns from owning several himself, grabbed the mobile phone to call the Dallas UPI bureau to say that shots had been fired at the motorcade – and a scant five minutes later, based on Smitty’s reporting, UPI sent a flash that Kennedy was wounded “perhaps seriously perhaps fatally.” Smith later won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of that day. No one who was in that pool car is still alive.
ProPublica via Alternet (co-published also by The Guardian), The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance into Harvard, Daniel Golden, Nov. 19, 2016. The rich buy their children access to elite colleges. At least one such student is now poised to become one of the most powerful figures in the country.
I would like to express my gratitude to Jared Kushner (shown in a photo by Lori Berkowitz via Wikimedia Commons) for reviving interest in my 2006 book, “The Price of Admission.” I have never met or spoken with him, and it’s rare in this life to find such a selfless benefactor. Of course, I doubt he became Donald Trump’s son-in-law and consigliere merely to boost my lagging sales, but still, I’m thankful.
My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.)
I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.
AP via Washington Post, Trump quickly settles university lawsuits after a long fight, David Klepper and Elliot Spagat, Nov. 19, 2016. For more than six years, Donald Trump fought hard against a lawsuit in which former customers of his now-defunct Trump University accused him of fraud. Less than two weeks after being elected president, he agreed to a $25 million settlement. For more than six years, Donald Trump fought hard against a lawsuit in which former customers of his now-defunct Trump University accused him of fraud. Less than two weeks after being elected president, he agreed to a $25 million settlement.
“We definitely detected a change of tone and change of approach” after the election, plaintiffs’ attorney Jason Forge said when the agreement was announced Friday. About 7,000 students would be eligible for refunds if U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel approves the settlement. Under the terms, the Republican president-elect admits no wrongdoing in settling two federal class-action lawsuits in San Diego and a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat.
The agreement came 10 days before jury selection was scheduled to begin in San Diego in the oldest case, which was filed in April 2010. The complaint accused Trump University, which wasn’t an accredited school, of defrauding students who paid up to $35,000 a year to enroll in programs that promised to share Trump’s real estate secrets. Trump denied the allegations and said during the campaign that he would not settle. He told supporters at a May rally that he would come to San Diego to testify after winning the presidency.
Washington Post, Trump taps fiery Flynn for security adviser, Philip Rucker, Karen DeYoung and David Nakamura, Nov. 18, 2016 (print edition). President-elect Donald Trump has asked Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general with a record of incendiary statements about Muslims, to be his White House national security adviser, a person close to the transition confirmed Thursday night. At the same time, Trump is soliciting the help of Mitt Romney, a mainstream consensus figure who had been the face of the Republican resistance to Trump’s candidacy, in assembling his government.
Trump sought a meeting with Romney, scheduled for this weekend, to broker peace — and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a vice chairman of Trump’s transition, told reporters that Trump could consider the 2012 GOP presidential nominee for an administration position, perhaps secretary of state.
The presence of Flynn and Romney (shown in a file photo) in Trump’s orbit sends mixed signals to already jittery leaders around the globe, as well as officials in Washington’s foreign policy community, about the tone and substance of the Trump administration’s posture to the world.
Washington Post, Retired three-star general brings deep experience and controversy, Greg Miller, Nov. 18, 2016. A decorated military intelligence officer, Flynn (shown when he was on active duty) would be responsible for helping a president with no national security experience navigate complicated global issues. But Flynn’s erratic streak since leaving government is likely to make his elevation disconcerting to some senior intelligence officials.
Washington Post, With this Treasury candidate come potentially thorny conflicts of interest, Ylan Q. Mui and Renae Merle, Nov. 18, 2016. Steven Mnuchin, a leading candidate for the Cabinet position, was deeply involved in running a California bank that received $900 million in federal bailout money and that has been accused of discrimination.
Columbus (OH) Free Press via OpEdNews, Did the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Selection? Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Nov. 18, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s impending defeat in the Electoral College comes with familiar signs that the election was stripped and flipped. These indicators include the realities of pre- and post-election polling; the massive stripping of primarily black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters from computer generated registration rolls mostly maintained by private partisan companies; unverifiable “black box” electronic voting machines and central tabulators, also mostly manufactured and maintained by private corporations, and much more.
Were this election held in any other country, the US State Department and independent monitors from around the world would denounce it as a fraud, and contemplate international intervention.
Center for Public Integrity, Clinton got union money, but Trump won many workers’ hearts and minds, Carrie Levin, Nov. 18, 2016. Increasing number of laborers favored Republican president-elect. Clinton’s underperformance among union members came despite union bosses spending tens of millions of dollars supporting Clinton’s bid. Union-related political action committees, for example, gave more than $17 million to Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC boosting her candidacy, and more than $21 million to For Our Future, another super PAC focused on convincing Americans to vote for Clinton and other Democrats.
The AFL-CIO stressed that Clinton won more union member votes than Trump despite Trump’s efforts to appeal to workers. The union released exit poll numbers showing Clinton won union households by 51 percent to 43 percent, and she carried union members by 56 percent to 37 percent. Nonetheless, Clinton’s support from union households was 10 points lower than President Barack Obama’s support four years ago, according to exit poll data released by Fox News.
Harold Schaitberger, the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said its politically active union didn’t endorse either Clinton or Trump because internal polling showed its members were too divided. It was the first time since 1976 that the union has failed to endorse in a presidential election. “We were going to do significant harm to our union” by endorsing a presidential candidate, he told the Center for Public Integrity.
Washington Post, Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me,’ Caitlin Dewey, Nov. 17, 2016. What do the Amish lobby, gay wedding vans and the ban of the national anthem have in common? For starters, they’re all make-believe — and invented by the same man. Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. But in recent months, Horner has found the fake-news ecosystem growing more crowded, more political and vastly more influential: In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google.
In light of concerns that stories like Horner’s may have affected the presidential election, and in the wake of announcements that both Google and Facebook would take action against deceptive outlets, Intersect called Horner to discuss his perspective on fake news. This transcript has been edited for clarity, length and — ahem — bad language.
Washington Post: How is that scene different now than it was three or five years ago? Why did something like your story about Obama invalidating the election results (almost 250,000 Facebook shares, as of this writing) go so viral?
Horner: Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Washington Post: You mentioned Trump, and you’ve probably heard the argument, or the concern, that fake news somehow helped him get elected. What do you make of that?
Horner: My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.
Roll Call, Clinton Urges Supporters to ‘Never, Ever Give Up,’ Christina Flom, Nov. 17, 2016. She chose a familiar setting for her first public appearance since conceding. Hillary Clinton (shown above in a screen shot from a debate) returned to her roots in her first public appearance since conceding the presidential election to Donald Trump to encourage backers to focus on the future.
“I know this isn’t easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was,” Clinton said Wednesday night at the annual gala of the Children’s Defense Fund, the child advocacy organization where she started her legal career. Clinton never cited Trump by name but said America needs the energy of the people, and that people should stay “engaged on every level,” The Associated Press reported. “It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer,” she said.
Roll Call, Tim Kaine Will Not Run for President or VP in 2020, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 17, 2016. Former VP nominee says he wants to stay in the Senate. Sen. Tim Kaine, fresh from a devastating defeat as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, will not run for president or vice president in 2020, an aide said Thursday. “He will run for re-election to the Senate in 2018 and serve his full term in the Senate – where, at the will of Virginia voters, he hopes to be for a very long time in the model of John Warner,” said spokeswoman Amy G. Dudley.
Warner, from Virginia, served five terms in the Senate before retiring in 2009. A popular Republican with a military background and a reputation for bucking his party, he endorsed Clinton in this year’s election. Kaine, D-Virginia (and shown in his official photo), said his “highest and best use,” would be to stay in the Senate.
Washington Post, Obama and Merkel issue a joint rebuttal to the coming Trump era, Anthony Faiola, Nov. 17, 2016. The two penned an op-ed piece recognizing the painful side of freer trade along with a sober reality check. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a joint rebuttal Thursday to the populist pledges of Donald Trump, calling for more transatlantic cooperation on everything from security and climate change to fighting intolerance.
On his last overseas trip as president, Obama is currently meeting with Merkel, a centrist leader who observers see as the heir apparent to his legacy as the leading global advocate of liberal democracy.
Ahead of a joint appearance later Thursday, the two penned an op-ed piece recognizing the painful side of freer trade along with a sober reality check. “The future is upon us, and we will never return to a pre-globalization economy,” they wrote. They are shown in a White House photo last year discussing the ongoing crisis regarding the Ukraine government installed by Western powers.
Roll Call, GOP Announces Plan for Short-Term CR as Pence Visits, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 17, 2016. Speaker Paul D. Ryan told House Republicans Thursday that Congress would punt a government funding debate into March when President-elect Donald Trump will be in the White House and vote on a short-term continuing resolution in the lame-duck session.
Around the Nation
Boston Globe, Former Mass. Speaker Sal DiMasi gets early release, John R. Ellement, Nov. 17, 2016. Former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi will be released from prison early, a federal judge ruled Thursday. In a 69-page ruling, US District Court Judge Mark Wolf concluded that DiMasi, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office, and federal prison officials have convincingly demonstrated that his health has declined so severely that further imprisonment was no longer warranted. DiMasi will be released on Nov. 22, the court ruled.
Washington Post, Twenty-six seconds of the JFK assassination — and a lifetime of family anguish, Joyce Carol Oates, Nov. 17, 2016. Zapruder, granddaughter of the videographer and a founder of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, has written a moving and enlightening account that is part memoir; part detailed history of the film and its (inestimable) role in the nation’s understanding of the assassination; and part overview of the film as an inspiration for countless, often bizarre conspiracy theories, as well as for works of art as disparate as Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-Up,” Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” Don DeLillo’s “Libra” and “Underworld,” and a particularly inventive episode of “Seinfeld.” So much history, embodied in a mere 26 seconds of footage! Not least, this film would one day be sold by the Zapruder heirs to the U.S. government for $16 million, the highest price ever paid for “an American historical artifact,” to be stored in the National Film Registry for scholars and historians to study.
Washington Post, After purge, Trump tweets transition going ‘smoothly,’ Jerry Markon, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Nov. 16, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to push back against news coverage describing a chaotic transition to power, saying the process of selecting Cabinet secretaries and working with the Obama administration “is going so smoothly.’’
As Trump met with senior advisers to discuss potential Cabinet candidates, there were further signs that power in his transition effort was consolidating within an ever-smaller group of loyalists generally not aligned with Republican members of the Washington establishment.
Washington Post, Who’s who in the running for Trump’s top Cabinet spots, Staff report, Nov. 16, 2016. As names trickle in forho will take the top posts in the Trump administration, here is the latest on the contenders — from rumored to named — for the closest advisers to the president-elect.
Washington Post, Trump dumps his press pool again, raising flags about future access, Paul Farhi, Nov. 16, 2016. On Tuesday night, reporters were led to believe by his staff that he had retired for the night — only to learn that he was at dinner with his family at a NYC.
LewRockwell.com, “Mary’s Mosaic”: A Masterpiece of Biography and a Mesmerizing Detective Story, Douglas (Anonymous last name), Nov. 16, 2016. Book review: Mary’s Mosaic is several things at once: an insightful and sensitive biography of both Mary Meyer and her one-time husband, CIA propaganda specialist Cord Meyer; a murder mystery; a trial drama; an expose of secret knowledge and cover-ups inside the Washington D.C. Beltway during the 1950s and 1960s; and of course, a love story about the late-developing relationship between President John F. Kennedy and Mary Pinchot Meyer, whom he had first met at an Ivy League prep school dance when she was only 15 years old.
WhoWhatWhy, Who Will Pull the Strings During Trump’s Presidency? Jeff Schechtman, Nov. 16, 2016. During the campaign we heard over and over that Donald Trump was the ultimate outsider and a threat to the established order. But is he really going to shake up what Peter Dale Scott calls The Deep State? In his conversation with WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman, Scott identifies some early signs that suggest Trump and his people may already be bending to The Deep State, and explains why he thinks even some good may come from this extreme testing of the democratic process.
While in no way accepting any of Trump’s policies, and indeed sharing hopes that he will be a one-term president, Scott calls for maintaining an open mind.
Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to Radio WhoWhatWhy. I’m Jeff Schechtman.
Over the course of the past campaign, we heard over and over and over again about Trump being the ultimate outsider; that his policies were a threat not only to the established order, but to the people and institutions of both parties that are often referred to as the permanent government. A part of what my guest Peter Dale Scott calls the deep state. The forces inside government, in intelligence agencies and the economy that really control the levers of power. But is Trump really that outsider, or only a fig leaf to cover up or at least paper over a far deeper link to the established order. No one would understand this better than Peter Dale Scott.
Washington Post, Key figures purged from Trump transition team, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Nov. 15, 2016. Those seen as close to Chris Christie are forced out. The bloodletting in President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team that began with last week’s ouster of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (shown in an official photo) escalated Tuesday with new departures, particularly in the area of national security, as power consolidated within an ever-smaller group of top Trump loyalists.
Ex-congressman Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the leading candidate for CIA director, was among at least four transition officials turned away this week, apparently because of perceived ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was ousted as head of the transition effort last week. As he had during the campaign, Trump appeared to be increasingly uncomfortable with outsiders and suspicious of those considered part of what one insider called the “bicoastal elite,” who are perceived as trying to maneuver themselves into positions of power. Republicans unanimously pick Ryan to continue as speaker, but tensions remain
Washington Post, How Stephen Bannon flattered and coaxed Trump on policies key to the alt-right, David A. Fahrenthold and Frances Stead Sellers, Nov. 15, 2016. The former Breitbart News chief who helped guide Donald Trump’s victorious campaign is set to be one of the new president’s most influential advisers. The clearest public sense of how the two will work together — and what policies Bannon may try to push — can be gleaned from a series of one-on-one interviews on Bannon’s radio show.
Buzzfeed, This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World, Staff report, Nov. 15, 2016. The soon-to-be White House chief strategist laid out a global vision in a rare 2014 talk, one where he said racism in the far right gets “washed out” and called Vladimir Putin a kleptocrat. BuzzFeed News publishes the complete transcript for the first time.
Donald Trump’s newly named chief strategist and senior counselor, Steve Bannon, laid out his global nationalist vision in unusually in-depth remarks delivered by Skype to a conference held inside the Vatican in the summer of 2014.
Well before victories for Brexit and Trump seemed possible, Bannon declared there was a “global tea party movement” and praised European far-right parties like Great Britain’s UKIP and France’s National Front. Bannon also suggested that a racist element in far-right parties “all gets kind of washed out,” that the West was facing a “crisis of capitalism” after losing its “Judeo-Christian foundation,” and he blasted “crony capitalists” in Washington for failing to prosecute bank executives over the financial crisis.
The remarks — beamed into a small conference room in a 15th-century marble palace in a secluded corner of the Vatican — were part of a 50-minute Q&A during a conference focused on poverty hosted by the Human Dignity Institute, which BuzzFeed News attended as part of its coverage of the rise of Europe’s religious right. The group was founded by Benjamin Harnwell, a longtime aide to Conservative member of the European Parliament Nirj Deva to promote a “Christian voice” in European politics. The group has ties to some of the most conservative factions inside the Catholic Church; Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most vocal critics of Pope Francis who was ousted from a senior Vatican position in 2014, is chair of the group’s advisory board.
Washington Post, John McCain: A Trump administration thaw with Russia is ‘unacceptable,’ Karen DeYoung, Nov. 15, 2016. “The price of another ‘reset’ would be complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people,” said the GOP senator, shown in an official photo. Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent his first shot across the bow of President-elect Donald Trump’s national security plans Tuesday, saying that any attempt to “reset” relations with Russia is unacceptable.
“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement released by his office. “We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections,” he said.
USA Today, After Trump chat, Putin’s airstrikes pound Syria, John Bacon, Nov. 15, 2016. Russia launched a major military offensive in Syria on Tuesday, hours after President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the need to join forces to combat international terrorism. Trump, who expressed respect for Putin during the campaign, spoke with the Russian leader by phone Monday.
“During the call, the two leaders discussed a range of issues including the threats and challenges facing the United States and Russia, strategic economic issues and the historical U.S.-Russia relationship that dates back over 200 years,” the Trump transition team said in a statement.
The Kremlin said Putin congratulated Trump and that the leaders agreed on “uniting efforts in the fight with the common enemy number one – international terrorism and extremism.” The Kremlin also pledged to build “dialogue with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.”
Washington Post, Defiant LAPD chief says department won’t aid Trump’s deportation efforts, Peter Holley, Nov. 15, 2016. “If the federal government takes a more aggressive role on deportation, then they’ll have to do that on their own,” Charlie Beck said.
Washington Post, Trump’s ‘blind trust’ is neither blind nor trustworthy, Richard Painter, Norman Eisen, Nov. 15, 2016. We have counseled presidents on ethics, and the business arrangement the president-elect is floating would be dangerous.
InfoWars, Trump Must Pardon Snowden, Alex Jones, Nov. 15, 2016 (video). Broadcast commentator Alex Jones calls on President-elect Donald Trump to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and others.
Truthout, Family Research Council’s Starkly Anti-Gay Ken Blackwell Leading Trump’s Domestic Transition Team, Bill Berkowitz, Nov. 15, 2016. As proof that Trump intends to consummate his affair with conservative Christian evangelicals, he has named Kenneth Blackwell, the senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council — an organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – to head his domestic transition team. Blackwell, the former mayor of Cincinnati and Secretary State of Ohio, is a controversial figure, in part stemming from being accused of voter suppression while Secretary of State of Ohio and honorary chair of George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.
While not quite channeling the late Rev. Fred Phelps – he of “God Hates Fags” infamy — Blackwell is as anti-gay as it gets. According to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, “In a 2006 newspaper interview, when he was running for governor of Ohio, Blackwell called homosexuality a sinful ‘lifestyle’ that ‘can be changed,’ like that of kleptomaniacs or arsonists. ‘I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed,’ Blackwell said in response to the question ‘Is homosexuality a sin, and can gays be cured?’ according to published transcripts. ‘I think it is a transgression against God’s law, God’s will.’
Clinton Still Winning Popular Voting
Nation, Victory Is Unprecedented — and Still Growing, John Nichols, Nov. 15, 2016. Her margin is now bigger than the winning margins for John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Hilllary Clinton now leads the national popular vote for president by roughly one million votes, and her victory margin is expanding rapidly. That margin could easily double before the end of an arduous process of counting ballots, reviewing results and reconciling numbers for an official total.
But one thing is certain: Clinton’s win is unprecedented in the modern history of American presidential politics. And the numbers should focus attention on the democratic dysfunction that has been exposed. When a candidate who wins the popular vote does not take office, when a loser is instead installed in the White House, that is an issue.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report maintains one of the most frequently updated spreadsheets on the race. One week after the election, it had Clinton with 62,403,269 votes to 61,242,652 for Trump. That puts Clinton ahead by 1.16 million votes. Another able chronicler of the count, Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, also puts Clinton ahead by more than one million votes.
Elite media outlets do not, for the most part, have an interest in vote counts and what they mean. Coverage of the 2016 election campaign confirmed the extent to which major media is more interested in personalities than facts on the ground. The television networks like to declare a “winner” and then get focused on the palace intrigues surround a transition of power. Those intrigues are worth covering. But perspective on the will of the people get lost.
Clinton is now winning roughly 47.8 percent of the vote, according to David Wasserman’s count for the Cook report. But the percentage that matters is Trump’s. The Republican nominee will become president with less popular support than a number of major-party candidates who lost races for the presidency. Trump is now at 47.0 percent of the popular vote, according to the Cook count.
Around the Nation
New Democratic Network, What Hillary’s Campaign Missed, Robert J. Shapiro, Nov. 15, 2016. Last week’s election should be dubbed the revenge of the neglected. The outcome would have been different if Hillary’s strategists had taken to heart James Carville’s famous quip in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid.” I remember it well, because I pulled together Bill Clinton’s economic program for the 1992 campaign. Of course, today’s economic problems are different from those of a quarter-century ago. But the political manifestation is virtually the same – tens of millions of Americans justifiably dissatisfied with their economic conditions and prospects.
As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve spent several years tracking what’s happened to the incomes of Americans of different ages, races and ethnicities, educational levels and gender, as they grew older. The Brookings Institution published the first results in 2015 covering the period 1980 to 2012. I sent that report to Hillary and Bill Clinton and as many of those who worked for them as I knew. The results refuted the left’s claims that incomes of average Americans have stagnated for two generations – across every category, median household incomes rose at healthy rates, year after year, through the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
But the results also showed tectonic income changes from 2001 to 2012 as this steady income progress ended. Hillary was particularly struck by the study’s darkest finding: The median income of households headed by people without college degrees — which covers nearly two-thirds of all U.S. households – fell as their household heads aged from 2001 to 2012. This unprecedented development, of tens of millions of families losing income as they aged from their thirties to their forties, or from their forties to their fifties, held across race, ethnicity and gender, and for all age groups except millennials.
Baby boomer households headed by high school graduates who were 45-to-49 years old in 2001 suffered even larger income losses than the Gen Xers: From 2001 to 2012, their real median income slumped from $63,534 to $51,002, falling $12,532 or some 20 percent as they aged from their later-forties to their later-fifties.
Hillary’s campaign didn’t ignore these developments. But her strategists, intent on reprising President’s Obama winning coalition, focused instead on the special problems of young, minority, and female voters. The campaign offered the Hispanic community a new path to citizenship for undocumented workers, and promised pay equity for women. It called for larger Earned Income Tax Credit checks for working-poor families, and debt relief for recent college graduates. All of these initiatives have merit. But none of them directly addressed or even acknowledged the structural forces squeezing out income gains for much of the country.
Americans love the entertainment and social networks fostered by information technologies and the Internet. But these technologies also restructured the operations of virtually every office, factory and storefront. As that happened, anyone without the skills and confidence to work effectively in an IT-dense workplace saw his or her “labor value” erode and wages fall. College graduates avoided the worst of the income slump, because virtually everyone who earned a bachelor’s degree in the last 15 years is IT literate.
Legal Schnauzer, President Obama chose to ignore Bush-era lawlessness, and that decision now stands to stain his legacy and wipe out progress of the past eight years, Roger Shuler,Nov. 15, 2016. Democrats have spent the past seven days pointing fingers in all directions. Lost in all the self-flagellation is much attention for the man who probably deserves the bulk of the blame, and that would be Obama. Why? Well, the Obama presidency probably was destined to end badly before it even started. That’s because in January 2009, just days before his inauguration, Obama said he was going to “look forward, not backwards” regarding issues of flaming criminality during the George W. Bush administration.
In the days and weeks leading to Election Day 2016, much was written about Obama’s legacy. And, in fact, he had built a substantial record of achievement. As a white male (living in Alabama at the time), I’m the rare bird in my species who voted for Obama twice. And I would not take back either vote.
That makes his dismal record on justice issues even more difficult to swallow. And it brings sadness to think that by the end of Trump’s first term, we probably will be back on the edge of another recession or depression. After all, Trumps’s economic policies are nothing but refried Reaganism and George W. Bushism, and both of those led to recessions. As a number of commentators already have stated, Obama’s legacy is toast, with many of his achievements set to vanish. Obama did this to himself.
Washington Post, Former D.C. schools chancellor violated ethics rules when asking for donations, Perry Stein, Nov. 16, 2016. Former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson violated the city’s ethics rules when she solicited a donation from a major food service contractor shortly after a whistleblower lawsuit accused the company of swindling millions of dollars from the school system, according to a ruling from the D.C.’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.
Washington Post, An Ohio lawyer hypnotized six female clients and then molested them. Now he’s going to prison, Travis M. Andrews, Nov. 15, 2016. It was routine visit to the lawyer’s office following her divorce. The Shieffield Village, Ohio, woman visited the now 59-year-old Michael W. Fine, her lawyer, to discuss a custody issue. They chatted, and she paid him a $1,500 fee.
It was business as usual. At least, she thought it was. In September, he pleaded guilty to five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted kidnapping. Each charge carried a sexual motivation specification, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reported. He admitted to using his familiarity with and dexterity in hypnosis to control six women, forcing them to tend to his sexual desires against their conscious will.
SouthFront, Intense Fighting Ongoing in All Key Sectors of Front in Eastern Ukraine, Staff report, Nov. 15, 2016. According to Operational Command of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Ukrainian Army has increased the number of shelling on all key sectors of the front in Donbass. For the last week, the intensity of fighting on the front line in Donbass has increased up to 800-1,000 shellings per day. According to the Operational Command of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Ukrainian troops fired on the territory of the republic not less than 960 times on Friday, and more than 1,000 times on Saturday.
Fifth Estate (Indonesia), President Obama, I Beg Your Post-Election Pardon, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 15, 2016 (JIP story republished on prominent Asian commentary site for ex-patriate Americans, edited by former Jakarta Times Editor Robert Finnegan.) President Obama should pardon the nation’s leading political prisoners and whistleblowers as a lasting legacy, particularly in view of his uplifting rhetoric and his party’s losses Nov. 8.
Ars Technica, Lauri Love faces hacking trial in US after UK signs extradition order, Kelly Fiveash, Nov. 15, 2016. The UK’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, has signed an extradition order agreeing that hacking suspect Lauri Love should face trial in the US. Love’s family plan to appeal against the decision. The 31-year-old—who has Asperger’s syndrome—faces up to 99 years in prison and fears for his own life, his lawyers have said. A home office spokesperson told Ars: “On Monday 14 November, the secretary of state, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed an order for Lauri Love’s extradition to the United States. Mr Love has been charged with various computer hacking offences which included targeting US military and federal government agencies.”
Rudd considered four so-called legal tests of the Extradition Act 2003: whether Love is at risk of the death penalty; whether specialty arrangements are in place; whether Love has previously been extradited from another country to the UK, thereby requiring consent from that country; and whether Love was previously transferred to the UK by the International Criminal Court.
However, the home secretary concluded that none of these issues applied to Love. The extradition comes after more than 100 MPs recently penned a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to prevent Love’s extradition to the US on the grounds that the hacking suspect’s case is similar to that of British citizen Gary McKinnon, whose extradition to the US was blocked in 2012 by then Home Secretary Theresa May.
Washington Post, President-elect, Russian leader call nations’ relationship ‘unsatisfactory,’ Elise Viebeck, Jerry Markon and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 14, 2016. The Kremlin said the two leaders discussed combining efforts in the fight against terrorism and talked about “a settlement for the crisis in Syria.” In his own statement, Trump did not mention Syria or specific issues, but said he told Putin “that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia.”
The Kremlin said the two leaders discussed combining efforts in the fight against terrorism and talked about “a settlement for the crisis in Syria.” In his own statement, Trump did not mention Syria or specific issues, but said he told Putin “that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia.”
The President and then-former Secretary of State relax on July 29, 2013 on the White House patio: White House photo.
USA Today, Here’s why Obama likely won’t pardon Clinton, Gregory Korte, Nov. 14, 2016. Hillary Clinton will not be getting a pardon from President Obama. And if Obama is to be kept to his word, neither will former CIA Director David Petraeus, convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, intelligence contractor Edward Snowden or Pvt. Chelsea Manning, all of whom were accused or convicted of mishandling classified information. The reason is simple: None of them have applied to the Office of the Pardon Attorney for executive clemency.
Obama specifically addressed “last-minute” presidential pardons at a news conference in August. “The process that I put in place is not going to vary depending on how close I get to the election,” he said in response to a question from USA Today. “So it’s going to be reviewed by the pardon attorney, it will be reviewed by my White House counsel, and I’m going to, as best as I can, make these decisions based on the merits, as opposed to political considerations.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed last week that Obama hasn’t changed that philosophy after the election. “I wouldn’t speculate at this point about what impact that may have on hypothetical pardon requests that he receives. I’ll just say that the guidance that President Obama shared with you is still operative.”
Speculation about a Clinton pardon, already rampant before the election, only intensified after the election of rival Donald Trump as president. At one debate, Trump told Clinton it would be bad for her if he were elected “because you’d be in jail.” Trump aides have refused to rule out a prosecution after Inauguration Day.
That posture could increase pressure on Obama to pardon Clinton, but there’s no indication that she’s sought a pardon — or that she would accept one if granted. While some pardons have historically been granted on the grounds of innocence, they’re often perceived as a sign of guilt.
Washington Post, Resignation of SEC head clears way for Trump to cut regulations, investor protections, Ylan Q. Mui and Renae Merle, Nov. 14, 2016. The departure of Mary Jo White creates an opportunity for Donald Trump early in his term to reshape the way Wall Street is regulated. Consumer advocates say they are bracing for a fight.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Leaning Toward Extreme Militant John Bolton As Secretary Of State, Jessica Schulberg, Nov. 14, 2016. Donald Trump ran on a platform of non-intervention, but is leaning toward picking an extraordinarily hawkish secretary of state. President-elect Donald Trump is leaning toward naming as secretary of state John Bolton, a bellicose enemy of Russia and Iran who is among the most hawkish members of the Republican foreign policy community, according to two sources familiar with Trump’s thinking.
Bolton is the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but served less than two years, as Democrats banded together to block his long-term appointment. His time was marked by a rapid uptick in anti-American sentiment among the global diplomatic community. Bolton remains one of the most disliked foreign policy operators on the world stage.
A source said that Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, shown at left, still had an outside chance of winning the position if he made a play for it and enough Republicans rallied to his side. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Rudy Giuliani is also under consideration for the post.
Bolton would be an aggressive selection for Trump, shattering his pledge to work peacefully with other countries. Bolton, who has called for the bombing of Iran, held high-level roles in three different Republican administrations between 1998 and 2006. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank whose vice president has described Trump as “an idiot.”
Washington Post, Priebus will be chief of staff, but Bannon may be the one calling the shots, James Hohmann, Nov. 14, 2016. Trump is said to have preferred Stephen Bannon (shown in a file photo) for the chief job. But he was reportedly persuaded in recent days to go a more conventional route.
The pugilistic and polarizing former head of Breitbart News will be chief strategist and senior counselor for President Donald Trump, a role held in previous administrations by the likes of David Axelrod, Karl Rove, John Podesta and Ed Meese.
Trump is said to have preferred Bannon for the chief job. But he was reportedly persuaded in recent days to go a more conventional route by everyone from the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Washington Post, ‘Ape in heels’: W.Va. officials under fire after comments about Michelle Obama, Lindsey Bever, Nov. 14, 2016. A nonprofit group’s director and a mayor in a small town in West Virginia have been swept up in a firestorm surrounding comments about Michelle Obama that have been perceived as blatantly racist.
After Donald Trump’s election as president, Pamela Ramsey Taylor, who was director of Clay County Development Corp. in Clay, a tiny town outside Charleston, reportedly posted about the move from Michelle Obama (shown in a file photo) to Melania Trump on Facebook, saying: “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels,” according to NBC affiliate WSAZ. The news station reported that the town’s mayor, Beverly Whaling, then replied, “Just made my day Pam.”
Washington Post, Where I wish President Trump failure, Eugene Robinson, Nov. 14, 2016. The people chose Hillary Clinton. But it’s the electoral vote that counts, not the popular vote, so Donald Trump will be president. And no, I’m not over it. No one should be over it. No one should pretend that Trump will be a normal president.
There have been more than 200 reports since the election of harassment and hate crimes, mostly directed at minorities, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. During an interview broadcast Sunday on “60 Minutes,” Trump addressed his supporters: “I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
On “60 Minutes,” Trump hinted that he might moonwalk away from some of his most radical promises on immigration, the issue that made him stand out from the crowd of Republican contenders. He said he will still build a wall on the Mexican border, but there “could be some fencing” instead of an actual wall in places. And he said that “we’re going to make a determination” about the fate of millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes — sounding as if he knows his pledge to carry out mass deportation cannot be fulfilled.
He also backed away from the idea of having a special prosecutor reinvestigate Clinton over her emails. “They’re good people, I don’t want to hurt them,” he said of Bill and Hillary Clinton. If Trump is beginning to confront reality on some fronts, that’s a first step — in a thousand-mile journey toward credibility and respect. We must watch Trump, and judge him, every single inch of the way.
Politico, Trump University plaintiffs propose trial without Trump, Josh Gerstein, Lawyers pursuing a federal class-action fraud lawsuit over Donald Trump’s Trump University real-estate program are urging a judge to press forward with a trial scheduled to begin later this month, even if that means forgoing any new testimony from the president-elect. Citing his pressing transition-related obligations, Trump’s lawyers are asking that the trial set for Nov. 28 be delayed until sometime after the inauguration, with Trump providing in the next two months a new round of prerecorded testimony to be shown to jurors when the trial takes place.
Washington Post, Chelsea Manning petitions Obama for clemency on her 35-year prison sentence, Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 14, 2016. No other convicted leaker in U.S. history has received such a lengthy term.
National Press Club, Merriman Smith and UPI’s Glory Days, Gil Klein, Nov. 14, 2016. In the 1960s UPI and AP fought head to head for every second of every story. No one epitomized that competition more than Merriman Smith, who served as UPI’s White House correspondent from the Franklin Roosevelt administration through Richard Nixon. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of John Kennedy’s assassination. He and the AP correspondent fought over the telephone in the press pool car just four cars back from the presidential limousine. At a Nov. 17 program on Smith and UPI’s Glory Days at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, a stellar panel of people who knew Smith will include Bill Sanderson, whose new biography of Smith, Bulletins from Dallas, was released in November.
Washington Post, ‘Era of Palestinian state is over’: Right-wing Israeli leaders seize on Trump’s win, William Booth and Ruth Eglash, Nov. 14, 2016. Top Israeli ministers voted unanimously in favor of a bill that would legalize Jewish settlements in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land.
The draft legislation was opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo), who called the move “childish and irresponsible.” Even so, senior members and top ministers of Netanyahu’s fellow Likud party approved a bill that their leader considers ill-timed and needlessly provocative.
Netanyahu finds himself in a tight spot. If the draft legislation is eventually passed by the parliament — not a sure bet — the Israeli leader fears a wave of condemnation by Europe and the United Nations, where pro-Palestinian voices can insist that the settlers are “stealing” Arab-owned land with government approval. Netanyahu is also wary of what Obama may do in his last months in office. The outgoing president, many Israelis fear, could formally outline what the Americans consider a fair resolution to the long-running conflict, including the parameters for a future Palestinian state. Obama could do this in a speech or by allowing a resolution to pass in the United Nations.
Harper’s Magazine, The New Red Scare: Reviving the art of threat inflation, Andrew Cockburn, Nov. 14, 2016 (Subscription required after first page). Despite some esoteric aspects, the so-called Russian hacks, as promoted by interested parties in politics and industry, are firmly in the tradition of Cold War threat inflation.
Guardian, Men ‘used Syria aid convoys to transport items for terrorists,’ Staff report, Nov. 14, 2016. Four UK-based Islamic extremists used charity aid convoys taking food and medicine to Syria as a cover to smuggle money to terrorists, a court heard on Monday.
Reine Priebus (File photo by Gage Skidmore)
Associated Press via Boston Globe, Trump names Priebus chief of staff, Laurie Kellman, Nov. 13, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, according to a press release from his office. Trump has also named his campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, as chief strategist and senior counselor.
Washington Post, Trump plans to immediately deport up to 3 million people, Amy B. Wang, Nov. 13, 2016. In a “60 Minutes” interview, the president-elect said that focus will be on those with criminal records, and that after securing the border his administration would make a “determination” about the remaining undocumented immigrants.
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump told “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, according to a preview of the interview released by CBS. “But we’re getting them out of our country. They’re here illegally.”
Washington Post, Giuliani: ‘There will be a wall’ between Trump and his financial interests, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Kristine Guerra, Nov. 13, 2016. Donald Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani said “there’s no perfect way” for the president-elect to deal with his billions in business assets, but on Sunday he encouraged Trump to put his money in a blind trust “for the good of the country.”
No matter what Trump does, said Giuliani (shown at left), “there will be a wall” between Trump’s decisions as president and his financial interests. Trump says he’s worth $8 billion, although Forbes magazine says the amount is closer to $3.7 billion. His business empire is made up of more than 500 companies around the globe, including more than 250 bearing his name, according to ABC News. Critics say that makes him susceptible to conflicts of interest.
On the campaign trail, Trump said he would turn over his business interests to his children if elected. But Jake Tapper grilled Giuliani on CNN’s “State of the Union,” saying that wasn’t enough separation, especially because Trump’s children were still advising him on political matters.
“It’s kind of unrealistic to say that you’re going to take the business away,” Giuliani responded. “You’ll have to fashion something that is very comfortable, very fair. … Even if he turns it over to an independent trustee, there’s no perfect way to do this.”
Commentary on Polls (Reverse chronological order)
Verified Voting.org, Why last week’s election MUST be investigated — NOW, Jonathan D. Simon, Nov. 13, 2016. Jonathan Simon, leader of the advocacy group Verified Voting.org and shown below, is also author of the 2015 book “Code Red,” which was updated in 2016. As I did in 2004 and have done in every federal election since, on election night last week I downloaded the exit poll results as soon as the polls closed and results were posted. As you may know, those exit poll numbers later get changed to match the vote counts. So those initial poll results are crucial, and I have them.
My comparison between the exit poll results and the announced votecounts is all too familiar: it shows a red shift in the Presidential race and in nearly every Senate race in states where exit polls were conducted. (We call a shift towards Republicans a “red shift,” and a shift toward Democratic candidates a “blue shift.” We are seeing very, very few blue shifts in this election, and none outside the polls’ margin of error.)
This data calls into question whether or not Trump really won in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan. These six states have a total of 108 electoral votes. We’re told that Trump won the Presidency with 290 electoral votes over Clinton’s 228. If the exit poll findings are accurate, the numbers should show a Clinton electoral college landslide to go with her popular vote victory. We’d be looking at Trump with 182 electoral votes and Clinton with 336!
As for the Senate, in three states – Missouri, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the discrepancy is enough to indicate the wrong candidate may have been declared the winner. Reversal of these three elections would change the majority in the Senate from Republican to Democratic.
Whatever your political beliefs or party affiliation (or independent voter status), these results should concern you. If we expect to be able to change anything through the election process ever again, we cannot afford have an election system where votes are tallied in secret by computer software vulnerable to hacking from outsiders and rigging from insiders.
Exit polls are the best way we have – and are trusted throughout the world, even by the U.S. government in regards to elections elsewhere – to get an immediate indication of the likelihood of election fraud.
What can you do about it? Help more people get access to this information. Share these two blog posts of mine:
- Exit Polls from November 8 Election Show Patterns Indicating Possible Electronic Election Rigging in Favor of Republicans
- 19 Big Myths About Our Elections That the Government and Media Want You to Believe
Sign and circulate this petition from VerifiedVoting.org demanding an audit of the 2016 Presidential election: Encourage people who want to learn more to purchase CODE RED: Electronic Election Theft and the New American Century. An excerpt is available free at my website.
OpEdNews, Trump: A people’s ‘new world order’ taking shape? Eric Walberg, Nov. 13, 2016. A populist wave that began with Brexit in June became a tsunami as Trump’s cyclone hit Washington Tuesday night, leaving the capital in a shambles. His is a story straight out of Grimm’s fairytales. the peasants rose up. The phony civility of the neoconservative nightmare that Americans (and the world) have endured for years is cracking.
Trump’s victory is pure protest by the masses. Exciting, but disturbing, as Trump is just another billionaire. He will be sure to look after his own, but then again, maybe he can stare them down. Fortunately, there is the Republican Congress and Senate to provide stability as the upstart get his feet on the ground. The weakened Democrats will have to fight extra hard after years of complacency under the nice, liberal Obama.
For critics of media control by the Israel lobby in the US, and the sham elections where money rules, the victory shattered this paradigm. “Though the ‘Masters of Discourse’ control the entirety of world media, and they decide what people may think and say from Canada to Hong Kong, only you, American citizens, can defeat them. Trump has a great quality making him fit for the task: he is impervious to labels and libels. He had been called everything in the book: anti-Semite, racist, women hater, you name it. And he still survived that flak. Such people are very rare,” writes Israel Shamir.
Almost all presidents since Jimmy Carter have campaigned as outsiders. Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bush jr, Obama. But they were all seasoned politicians and all disappointed.
There is a precedent of a boorish outsider, made famous and pilloried in the media, who catapulted into the political world. His name is Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler who served as the 38th Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. He was the first member of the Reform Party to win a major government position, now in the Independence Party of Minnesota.
C-SPAN, Bradley Birkenfeld Discusses “Lucifer’s Banker,” Staff interview, Nov. 13, 2016 (one hour video). Former banker Bradley Birkenfeld talked about his book, Lucifer’s Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy.
Zero Hedge, Russia Puts Strategic Bombers On Combat Alert For Imminent Strikes On Syrian Targets, Tyler Durden, Nov. 13, 2016. Putin is taking advantage of the chaos and the immediate political power vacuum left in the aftermath of the stunning transition from the Democratic president to a Republican sweep. First, as we reported last night, NATO promptly freaked out after Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged President-elect Donald Trump to begin rebuilding the U.S.-Kremlin relationship “by urging NATO to withdraw forces from the Russian border.” Peskov told the Associated Press that such a move “would lead to a kind of detente in Europe.”
Second, fast forward to this morning when the Russian Tass news agency reported that the crews of Russian strategic bombers Tu-160 and Tu-95 located at the “Engels” airbase, have been put on combat readiness in preparation for imminent strikes on targets in Syria. The Russian strategic bombers have been armed with cruise missiles.
Washington Post, Trump’s win likely to accelerate populist surge around the world, Griff Witte, Emily Rauhala and Dom Phillips, Nov. 13, 2016. Unless something dramatic changes to curb the populist appeal, a scattering of surprise victories could soon turn into a worldwide rout for a movement built on grievances. Photo at left shows French National Front leader Marine le Pen (AFP photo via DCMA).
Baker & McKenzie Lexology, New French Anti-Corruption Law: France Strengthens its Legislation to Combat Bribery and Corruption and Adopts U.S.-Style Anti-Corruption System, Brian L. Whisler, Jessica Norrant-Eyme, Eric Lasry and Sara Koski, Nov. 13, 2016. After considerable debate France adopted its new Law on Transparency, the Fight against Corruption and Modernization of Economic Life, on November 8, 2016. This lw represents a reaction to international pressure brought to bear against the French government for its perceived laissez-faire enforcement towards corruption, and a response to severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice on French companies in recent years. The French Minister of Finance, Michel Sapin, has indicated that the adoption of the Law will bring France’s anti-corruption regime up to the highest European and international standards in its fight against corruption.
The principal measures of the Law include the creation of an anti-corruption agency, the protection of whistleblowers, the introduction of an obligation for companies to prevent corruption, the possibility for companies to negotiate financial settlements with judges (akin to Deferred Prosecution Agreements in the U.S.), and the creation of the French legal equivalent of U.S. monitorships. Notably, the Law also creates extra-territorial jurisdiction for offences committed outside of France.
Washington Post, It’s not just the Cabinet: Trump’s transition team needs to find nearly 4,000 appointees, Bonnie Berkowitz and Kevin Uhrmacher, Nov. 12, 2016. Positions range from high-profile advisers and Cabinet posts to ambassadors, small agency directors and special assistants.
Boston Globe, The Desperate and the Dead: A suicide reveals the courts’ unreadiness to manage defendants with mental illness (Part IV), Spotlight Team, Nov. 12, 2016. Defendants suffering from mental illness have been streaming into Massachusetts courtrooms in growing numbers since the state began closing psychiatric hospitals in the early 1970s. The courts weren’t ready for this onslaught, and they still aren’t today.
In the fourth installment of “The Desperate and the Dead,” the Globe’s Spotlight Team looks at the state court system, and how it lags behind much of the country in addressing mental illness. One by one, nearly all the state psychiatric hospitals were boarded up or bulldozed, but Massachusetts leaders broke their promise to replace them with something better — or much of anything at all. The failed mental health care system has led to a public safety crisis, including scores of murders by disturbed people, police shootings, and embattled institutions from courts to hospitals confronting a tidal wave of mentally ill people.
Transition, Campaign Recap
Washington Post, In craggy coal country, they saw Trump as their only hope, Gregory Schneider, Photos by Julia Rendleman, Nov. 12, 2016. Voters in Appalachian towns haunted by a hollowed-out industry and stung by rampant unemployment shrugged off Donald Trump’s faults and put their faith in his promises.
New York Times, Protesters Take Anti-Trump Message to His Doorstep, and Plan Next Steps, Eli Rosenberg, Jennifer Medina and John Eligon, Nov. 12, 2016. Beyond the commotion in the streets, liberal activists are preparing legislative challenges and getting ready to support social services they assume will be gutted.
Washington Post, Cracks — not the ceiling kind — were evident on Clinton’s last day of campaigning, Anne Gearan, Nov. 12, 2016. On the eve of the election, Hillary Clinton looked relaxed and confident during her last day on the campaign trail. But for all the trappings of a victory in view, amid all the polling and predictions favoring her, there were signs of trouble in the final hours.
Washington Post, Clinton blames Comey letters for stopping momentum, turning out Trump voters, Anne Gearan, Nov. 12, 2016. Hillary Clinton blamed the renewed FBI inquiry into her State Department email system for blunting her momentum in the presidential election and the closure of that inquiry two days before Election Day for energizing voters for Donald Trump.
“There are lots of reasons why an election like this is not successful,” Clinton told top donors on a farewell conference call Saturday. “But our analysis is that [FBI Director James B.] Comey’s letter raising doubts that were groundless, baseless, proven to be, stopped our momentum,” she said. “We dropped, and we had to keep really pushing ahead to regain our advantage — which going into the last weekend, we had. We were once again up in all but two of the battleground states, and we were up considerably in some that we ended up losing. And we were feeling like we had put it back together,” she continued.
See also, Washington Post, A series of strategic mistakes likely sealed Clinton’s fate, Abby Phillip, John Wagner and Anne Gearan, Nov. 12, 2016.
Alternet, Kris Kobach, Architect Of Draconian Anti-Immigrant Policies, Joining Trump’s Transition Team, Miranda Blue, Nov. 12, 2016. Kobach (shown in an official photo) is the force behind anti-immigrant laws throughout the country. Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas and a leading architect of draconian anti-immigrant and voter suppression laws around the nation, will reportedly be serving on Donald Trump’s presidential transition team as an immigration adviser. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Trump “has vowed to cancel President Obama’s promise to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and start deporting as many as two million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.”
According to the Journal, the transition team “includes a unit dedicated to figuring out how to build Mr. Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.” Back in April, Kobach took credit for Trump’s plan to blackmail Mexico into paying for a border wall by impounding remittances that immigrants send home to their families. A few months later, he was responsible for getting the wall into the Republican Party platform. Earlier this year, Kobach complained that Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasn’t just rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants who show up to protests or to testify before legislatures.
Kobach is the force behind anti-immigrant laws throughout the country, including infamously draconian measures in Arizona and Alabama (former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed that state’s law, is reportedly being considered for a Trump cabinet post).
Washington Post, In libel suit, Melania Trump says Maryland blogger held ‘reckless disregard for the truth,’ Dan Morse, Nov. 12, 2016. Three months ago, a 70-year-old political blogger operating from his Maryland townhouse let it rip. “Where is Melania Trump?” he asked, going on to offer an answer: The potential first lady (shown in her Twitter photo)was reportedly having a nervous breakdown after her controversial GOP convention speech and her fears that a secret past would be revealed.
“It is also widely known that Melania was not a working model but rather a high end escort,” wrote Webster Tarpley (shown at right below) in a blog post that would come to be quoted in court filings. Tarpley, a Princeton University graduate, has also asserted that President Obama is a puppet of Wall Street and that the 9/11 attacks were a “false-flag” operation.
Tarpley’s claims about Melania Trump, posted in the heat of the campaign, were followed by similar allegations published in the Daily Mail, a British tabloid. Both pieces attracted the attention of Melania Trump and her attorneys, and both publications posted retractions. On Sept. 1, in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Melania Trump sued Tarpley and the Daily Mail for defamation. Her attorneys cited a series of published allegations, including those made in Tarpley’s blog post, according to court records.
Now, as Melania Trump readies to become first lady, the lawsuit shows no signs of slowing down. “These are some of the most inflammatory allegations possible,” her attorneys wrote in their most recent filing. “Tarpley acted with reckless disregard for the truth.”
In a statement to the Washington Post, one of Tarpley’s attorneys, John Owen, said: “Mr. Tarpley is a political blogger who desires to engage his readers in a meaningful discourse on matters of public significance. In this instance, he shared information that was available on other media outlets, as he felt it important that there be a public dialogue regarding the rumored background of the prospective First Lady of the United States.”
Fox News, Chelsea Clinton reportedly being groomed for congressional run, Wire and staff report, Nov. 12, 2016. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton reportedly is being mooted as a future congressional candidate. The New York Post reported that Clinton, 36, is being eyed to take Rep. Nita Lowey’s place when the 79-year-old incumbent decides to leave the House of Representatives. Lowey represents New York’s 17th District, which covers part of Westchester County, including Bill and Hillary Clinton’s hometown of Chappaqua.
The Post reported that the Clintons have purchased the home next door to theirs, in which they plan to install Chelsea, her husband and their two children. Chelsea Clinton currently lives, and is registered to vote, in Manhattan. She introduced Hillary Clinton when her mother accepted the Democratic nomination for president at this summer’s national convention in Philadelphia. “Chelsea would be the next extension of the Clinton brand,” the Post quoted a source as saying. “While politics isn’t the life Hillary wanted for Chelsea, she chose to go on the campaign trail for her mother and has turned out to be very poised, articulate and comfortable with the visibility.”
SouthFront, Govt Forces Liberate More Areas in Western Aleppo, Staff report, Nov. 12, 2016. Last night, the Syrian army and other pro-government formations broke the defenses of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian al-Qaeda branch) and its allies from the Jaish al-Fatah militant operation room in western Aleppo.
Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump, in Exclusive Interview, Tells WSJ He Is Willing to Keep Parts of Obama Health Law, Monica Langley and Gerard Baker, Nov. 11, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump said he would consider leaving in place certain parts of the Affordable Care Act.
The future US president also noted that the US should focus its efforts in Syria on fighting against terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) group, instead of attempting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as be on the same wavelength with Russia. “My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are,” Trump said. If the US attacks Bashar al-Assad, “we end up fighting Russia, fighting Syria,” the politician concluded.
New York Times via Boston Globe, Mike Pence to lead Trump transition team, Michael D. Shear, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 11, 2016. Vice President-elect Mike Pence (shown in an office photo) will take over the job of leading Donald Trump’s transition effort, taking the helm from Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, as Trump moves to assemble a government after his stunning upset victory, several sources close to the transition team said Friday.
Christie, along with Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who has been a top campaign supporter, will serve as vice chairs of the transition, the sources said.
Washington Post, Trump team backs off some sweeping campaign pledges, Jose A. DelReal, Nov. 11, 2016. President-elect, aides suggest softer stances on border wall, health-care law. Donald Trump said in an interview published Friday that, after speaking with President Obama on Thursday, he may seek to amend the Affordable Care Act rather than repeal it.
Trump also avoided saying whether he would follow through on a campaign vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. With little clarity from Trump himself, some surrogates have given a mixed view of what he will hope to accomplish in his first 100 days.
Washington Times, President-elect Trump’s road map for eviscerating Obama’s policies, Stephen Dinan, Nov. 11, 2016. Forget about waiting for Congress — Donald Trump can eviscerate Obamacare and cripple President Obama’s global warming framework all on his first few days in office by directing policy from the White House and ordering his Justice Department to drop lawsuits that the current administration is pursuing.
Lawyers said getting rid of the government’s mandate that schools allow transgender students to choose their bathrooms could be as simple as retracting an Education Department letter, then letting judges know that is no longer the administration’s position. Mr. Obama’s 2014 deportation amnesty, which is also the subject of court challenges, could be nixed by revoking the Homeland Security memo that laid out the policy, then telling judges it’s gone. No memo, no case.
It was always the danger lurking in Mr. Obama’s penchant for going it alone and declining to work with Congress — a new president who disagrees with him can quickly reverse many of his big-ticket accomplishments. “What Obama’s pen and phone giveth, Trump’s Sharpie and Twitter will taketh away,” said Josh Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law.global warming framework all on his first few days
Washington Post, Giuliani, Gingrich considered shoo-ins for Cabinet, senior advisory roles, Elise Viebeck, Nov. 11, 2016. A look at the list of confirmed and potential candidates for administration roles reveals a largely homogeneous circle of middle-aged white men, often wealthy, of open ambition and large personality. President-elect Donald Trump is poised to reward members of his inner circle with top roles in his administration, ensuring he is surrounded by familiar loyalists as the work of governing begins.
Trump’s staunchest defenders during the campaign, such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, are considered shoo-ins for Cabinet positions or senior advisory roles at the White House. Other close Trump advisers such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon are expected to be offered high-ranking jobs. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has indicated on Twitter she may accept a senior White House role.
Republican circles are abuzz with speculation as Trump’s campaign and transition teams begin the messy work of joining forces to launch an administration by Jan. 20, roughly 70 days from now. Insiders have also begun the perennial Washington exercise of floating names and hypotheses about the new administration in the press, heightening the already intense media spotlight on the process. There has been virtually no public, on-the-record communication from the transition team itself except through the website launched Wednesday, GreatAgain.gov.
Washington Post, ‘Prediction professor’ who called Trump’s big win also made another forecast: Trump will be impeached, Peter W. Stevenson, Nov. 11, 2016. Few prognosticators predicted a Donald Trump victory ahead of Tuesday night. Polls showed Hillary Clinton comfortably ahead, and much of America (chiefly the media) failed to anticipate the wave of pro-Trump support that propelled him to victory. But a Washington, D.C.-based professor insisted that Trump was lined up for a win — based on the idea that elections are “primarily a reflection on the performance of the party in power.”
Allan Lichtman (shown in a file photo) uses a historically based system of what he calls “keys” to predict election results ahead of time. The keys are explained in-depth in Lichtman’s book, Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016. In our conversations in September and October, he outlined how President Obama’s second term set the Democrats up for a tight race, and his keys tipped the balance in Trump’s favor, even if just barely.
At the end of our September conversation, Lichtman made another call: that if elected, Trump would eventually be impeached by a Republican Congress that would prefer a President Mike Pence — someone whom establishment Republicans know and trust.
“I’m going to make another prediction,” he said. “This one is not based on a system; it’s just my gut. They don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him. He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have Pence — an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican. And I’m quite certain Trump will give someone grounds for impeachment, either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook.”
AP via Washington Post, With Trump, a major US shift in Mideast, Lee Keath, Nov. 11, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump’s positions on Middle East issues, if carried out, could bring yet more volatility to the world’s most combustible region. President-elect Donald Trump’s positions on Middle East issues, if carried out, could bring yet more volatility to the world’s most combustible region. Besides vowing to rip up the international nuclear deal with Iran, Trump says he will ramp up the war on Islamic State militants; he could make the Palestinians more desperate by siding with Israel’s hard-line right wing. He also seems set to end the Obama administration’s cold shoulder toward authoritarians like Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Trump has most often been vague and sometimes outright contradictory about plans in the Mideast. And his stances could change. His call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. worried many in the region, but he has since watered down that stance, and many opinion-makers in the Gulf at least call it simply campaign rhetoric. Overall, Trump has shown a focus on fighting Islamic militants and favoring strongmen who do so. He’s shown less concern with human rights or the complicated minutiae of the Mideast’s many factions and interests. See also: Washington Post, Obama directs Pentagon to target al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, one of the most formidable forces fighting Assad.
Bookings Institution, Why Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania: The real story, William A. Galston, Nov. 11, 2016. The emerging conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton fell short in the Rust Belt states because her campaign took them for granted and failed to turn out her supporters.
In the case of Pennsylvania, this thesis is demonstrably false. Not only did the campaign mobilize an army of volunteers to get out the vote; it executed its game plan successfully. Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump brought a flood of rural and small-town working class voters into the electorate. Although Clinton’s statewide total in Pennsylvania fell just short of Obama’s in 2012, this modest shortfall was not why she lost the state. The real story is that Donald Trump ran up the score in every Republican-leaning rural and small-town county, besting Mitt Romney’s statewide total by nearly 300 thousand votes.
Global Research, Change.org Petition to Unseat Donald and Make Hillary President, Stephen Lendman, Nov. 11, 2016. Change.org is a for-profit enterprise, not an NGO – deceiving supporters by using the .org domain suffix, not .com as it should. Its business is getting people to sign petitions, along with selling advertising and personal data for added profits.
Best to ignore its petitions altogether, especially a deplorable one now circulating with nearly two million signers — calling for the Electoral College to make war goddess/racketeer/perjurer Hillary president when it votes on December 19 — wanting Trump’s election annulled. Democracy in America is pure fantasy. Change.org wants it undermined more than already – for its bottom line interests exclusively, taking advantage of state-sponsored and media anti-Trumpism, unrelated to electoral results or anything else.
Denying Trump the office he won, as Change.org urges, would border on insurrection — perhaps enough to create a national convulsion and blood in the streets. Trump won’t be a people’s president. Neither was any previous leader in US history — not Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln or either Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy came closest — assassinated by the CIA for doing the right thing.
New York Post, New JFK assassination theory: Cuban double agent led plot, Joshua Rhett Miller, Nov. 11, 2016. More than 50 years after President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, new evidence uncovered in the secret diaries of a Cold War spy and assassin implicates another clandestine figure believed to be working as a double agent for Cuba, an explosive new book claims. The never-before-revealed diaries of Douglas DeWitt Bazata, a decorated officer for the United States Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency — claim that his longtime close friend and fellow spy, René Alexander Dussaq, was a “primary organizer and plotter” of Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. The diaries reveal that Dussaq might even have fired the fatal “shot or shots” that killed the 35th president of the United States, according to author Robert K. Wilcox’s latest book, Target: JFK, The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?, which goes on sale Nov. 14.
Guardian, Syrian opposition left with nowhere to turn after Trump’s victory, Martin Chulov, Nov. 11, 2016. US president-elect likely to endorse Russia’s policy of bombing rebels to the negotiating table. As Donald Trump was claiming victory on Wednesday, Syrian opposition leaders were wrapping up a meeting in Stockholm that was supposed to map a way out of the mire in Aleppo, but instead ended their hopes of winning the five-year civil war.
The group of political leaders and heads of militant groups had invested much hope in Hillary Clinton, who had suggested as secretary of state that robustly supporting the opposition could serve the US’s interests. Trump, on the other hand, had spoken in support of Bashar al-Assad. And, more importantly, he had expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president whose support for the Syrian leader has already tipped the conflict in his favour.
Opposition political leaders expect the US president-elect to frame his Syria policy as a fight against Islamic State in its last strongholds in the country’s north-east. The position is not completely dissimilar to that of the outgoing president, Barack Obama, although his administration had also spent several years trying to organize a cohesive opposition force – providing training and limited weaponry to 70 opposition units – and consistently demanded that Assad leave and cede power to a transitional government. Trump’s own transition team is reportedly skeptical of investing anything further in the opposition.
If the US was to withdraw its support, it would mean the CIA would play a much lesser role, or no role at all, in vetting weapons that are sent into Syria from Turkey. A core CIA function has been to ensure that anti-aircraft weapons, which could be lethal against civilian airlines, are not given to rebel groups for use against the Syrian and Russian air forces. The southern front, which was an active area of operations for the CIA and Jordanian officials has been all but closed to weapons re-supplies for the past six months. The Turkish border remains the only meaningful supply line for rebels who are fast running out of options – and are leaking support elsewhere.
NBC News, Field of Candidates to Head Democratic Party Expands Quickly, Alex Seitz-Wald, Nov. 11 2016. The field of candidates interested in chairing the Democratic Party as it rebuilds after Donald Trump’s surprise win is growing quickly, despite strong early support for Rep. Keith Ellison. The list expanded rapidly on Friday, and is likely to continue to grow, as Democrats consider who they want filling what will become a central role in shaping the Democratic Party’s future.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez is considering the post, according to a source familiar with his thinking, as is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, South Carolina Party Chair Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Chair Ray Buckley, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, and former DNC Chair Howard Dean.
Washington Post, Why identity politics couldn’t clinch a Clinton win, John B. Judis, Nov. 11, 2016. The numbers don’t add up to a majority.
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Nov. 10, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post, Trump meets with Obama at White House, David Nakamura and Juliet Eilperin, Nov. 10, 2016. President has pledged full cooperation with Trump’s transition team. Donald Trump entered the White House through the South Lawn entrance, avoiding news cameras and the eyes of the president’s staff. About 45 minutes after Trump’s arrival, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was seen taking Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and other Trump aides, including Dan Scavino, across the edge of the Rose Garden.
Obama had denounced Trump as “temperamentally unfit” for the White House during a long and brutal campaign. But he said that “we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.”
Liberty Pell, Rending of Garments and Gnashing of Teeth, Haven Pell, Nov. 10, 2016. Few can have been more disappointed than President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. No two-term president in history tried to choose his successor more zealously than President Obama. There are few people in history who have tried harder and longer to become President than Secretary Clinton. Both have ample and understandable reason for disappointment yet both accepted defeat with extraordinary grace. Their speeches were flawless.
President-elect Trump, not known for either grace or class, also delivered a speech to his followers at 3:15 on Wednesday morning that struck all of the right notes. Of course, he does not exactly qualify as disappointed. This story is not about any of them or, indeed, about any of those — of whichever political stripe — who are dusting themselves off after a tough and ugly campaign and deciding how to fix whatever they think is broken. It is about the others.
Washington Post, Former Illinois congressman Aaron Schock indicted on charges of fraud, Matt Zapotosky, Aaron Schock, a former Illinois congressman whose Capitol Hill office was decorated in the style of the TV show “Downton Abbey” and whose six-pack abs landed him on the cover of Men’s Health, was indicted Thursday on charges that he misspent government and campaign money for his personal benefit. Schock, 35, once a rising star in the Republican Party, had resigned from Congress last year amid reports of alleged improper spending.
Schock, shown in an official photo, was charged in a 24-count indictment with wire fraud, mail fraud, theft of government funds, making false statements and filing false documents. The 52-page document spells out a broad array of misdeeds spanning 2008 to 2015.
The indictment, announced by U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis in Springfield, Ill., alleges that the former congressman from Peoria, Ill., reimbursed himself for 150,000 miles he never drove and bought a new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe for his exclusive use with campaign committee funds. All told, Schock is accused of causing the government and his campaign committees to lose more than $100,000, authorities said.
CommLaw (Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth), What Will a Trump FCC Look Like? Laura Stefani, Nov. 10, 2016. Speculation Abounds, But Much Will Stay the Same. A new administration always bring many questions from clients about how their FCC issues may be impacted. A Trump presidency brings even more questions than usual, because his campaign did not set out detailed proposals on telecommunications and spectrum policy.
While the lack of information from the Trump campaign does not mean that no one has thought about possible nominees (and certainly there are plenty of Republicans itching to push their favorite nominee), FCC appointments are not highest on a new president’s to-do list. Meanwhile, the most senior Republican, Ajit Pai, likely will become Acting Chairman after the inauguration.
Kansas City Star, Former St. Joseph school superintendent sentenced for pension fraud, Tony Rizzo, Nov. 10, 2016. The former school superintendent in St. Joseph was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison for a $600,000 pension fraud scheme. Danny L. Colgan, 70, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, where he pleaded guilty in June to a charge of wire fraud. Colgan was the superintendent of the St. Joseph School District from July 1, 1992, until he retired at the end of 2005.
He was entitled to retirement benefits, but federal prosecutors said he used inflated salary information so he could receive more money. Over a 10-year period, Colgan was paid $677,313 more than he should have received, according to prosecutors. At Thursday’s sentencing, Colgan made a final payment of $608,257 to complete his court-ordered restitution.
Market Watch, Trump stock-market rally reflects expectations for bigger budget deficits, William Watts, Nov. 10, 2016. Expansionary fiscal plans help lift stocks, slam bonds. Republican lawmakers have spent the last eight years bashing President Barack Obama as fiscally irresponsible, but investors are now betting that Donald Trump could run much bigger budget deficits than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had planned. Those bets might underestimate potential political pitfalls, but they’re part of the reason stocks quickly recovered from the swoon that sent futures sharply lower as a surprise Trump victory in the presidential election became apparent late Tuesday night.
And it is also part of the reason why Treasury bonds sold off sharply, sending yields soaring. “What traders saw was a far more expansive fiscal policy than what they had imagined under Hillary Clinton,” wrote Thierry Albert Wizman, global interest-rates and currencies strategist at Macquarie. ”Moreover, with the Republican sweep of the House and Senate, the prospect that President Trump will actually enact low tax/high-spending policies (a fiscal expansion) was seen to have gotten credible and valid.”
Many Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (shown in an official photo), would likely be reluctant to significantly expand the deficit, however, which could ultimately limit the scope of fiscal measures, analysts said.
Trump Administration Law Enforcement
Washington Post, Trump’s Justice Dept. could see less police scrutiny, more monitoring of Muslims, Matt Zapotosky, Wesley Lowery and Mark Berman, Nov. 10, 2016. His positions put him at odds with the current Justice Department.
- Trump campaign redirects, then restores, mention of Muslim ban from website
- ‘The wall is going to get built’: Immigration hard-liner joins Trump team
- How will President Trump shape crime and policing policy?
Lawfare, We Need Comey At the FBI Now More Than Ever, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, Nov. 10, 2016. A lot of personnel decisions will involve tough calls. Here’s one key personnel decision, however, that is absolutely clear: FBI Director James Comey must remain in place.
Washington Post, Rudy Giuliani just used CNN to campaign for attorney general, Callum Borchers, Nov. 10, 2016. Donald Trump was the cable news candidate (during the Republican primary, anyway), so perhaps it’s only fitting that his potential cabinet appointees would campaign for jobs on TV, too. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s bulldoggiest surrogates, used a CNN interview Thursday morning to tout his qualification to be attorney general. Giuliani initially indicated he would take the job if he couldn’t point to three other lawyers who would be just as good.
Washington Post, Why neither Christie nor Giuliani should be the next attorney general, Danielle Allen, Nov. 10, 2016. The nation’s next top law enforcement official must have a record of integrity and public service. Danielle Allen is a political theorist at Harvard University and a contributing columnist for The Post.
The president-elect is at work on identifying appointees for his new administration. Both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani have been floated as possibilities for the role of attorney general. Neither appointment would serve the work we most need at the Justice Department: a restoration of impartiality, fairness, nonpartisanship and thoroughgoing avoidance of conflicts and the appearance of conflict.
A Christie aide and an appointee have just been convicted in the “Bridgegate” scandal over the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. Christie, who was not himself indicted, claims he did not know about the lane closings, but three people contradicted him under oath: Bridget Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff when the closings occurred; Bill Baroni, a top Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and David Wildstein, a political ally of the governor’s and also a senior official at the Port Authority at the time of the scandal. According to the New York Times, “It was impossible for even casual trial observers not to discern, from witness after witness, the evident viciousness and grubbiness of the governor and his administration.”
Washington Post, Trump lawyers to begin settlement talks on Trump University, Elliot Spagat, Nov. 10, 2016. Donald Trump’s attorneys on Thursday agreed to enter settlement talks in a class-action fraud lawsuit involving the president-elect and his now-defunct Trump University, raising the possibility of a quick end to the 6 ½-year-old case just before it goes to trial.
Daniel Petrocelli, Trump’s lead attorney on the case, also asked to delay the trial to early next year, saying Trump needed time to work on the transition to the presidency. “The good news is that he was elected president. The bad news is that he has even more work to do now,” Petrocelli told U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. The lawsuit alleging Trump University failed on its promise to teach success in real estate begins in San Diego on Nov. 28 before Curiel, an Indiana-born jurist who Trump accused of bias during the presidential campaign for his Mexican heritage.
Washington Post, Trump’s lawyers seek to delay fraud case — until after he is sworn into office, Roxana Popescu and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 10, 2016. Attorneys for president-elect seek to push back Nov. 28 Trump University trial because he needs to get ‘up to speed’ on new job. Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump went to court Thursday to ask that a civil fraud suit against Trump scheduled to begin in less than three weeks be delayed, a reminder of the unusual complications facing Trump as he shifts from businessman to commander in chief.
Trump’s attorneys said he will be too busy with the presidential transition to participate in the Nov. 28 trial involving his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University. They asked that the trial be postponed until February or March, after he has taken office. They made their request before Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the jurist Trump harshly criticized during the campaign as biased because of his Mexican heritage.
Curiel expressed concern about the wisdom of a delay given that Trump will assume the presidency Jan. 20. Curiel said he will probably issue a ruling by Monday. The hearing came just two days after Trump’s victory, reflecting the continuing legal challenges facing an incoming president whose businesses are the subject of multiple pending civil suits.
Washington Post, Obama directs Pentagon to target al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, one of the most formidable forces fighting Assad, Adam Entous, Nov. 10, 2016. Defense officials initially resisted the idea, wary of pulling resources from the campaign against the Islamic State. The decision to deploy more drones and intelligence assets against the militant group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra reflects Obama’s concern that it is turning parts of Syria into a new base of operations for al-Qaeda on Europe’s southern doorstep, the officials said.
Middle East Eye, Russian PM Medvedev in Israel to boost trade ties, Karim El-Bar, Nov. 10, 2016. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev is in Israel on a visit to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and boost trades ties in areas such as agriculture. The Russian premier met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday morning, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day
Reuters, Pro-Russian candidate wins first round of Bulgaria’s presidential election, Staff report, Nov. 10, 2016. Socialist-backed candidate Rumen Radev, who has called for an end to European Union sanctions against Russia, has won the first round of Bulgaria’s presidential election. Radev’s close-fought victory over ruling party candidate Tsetska Tsacheva makes the former air force commander favorite to win a run-off on Sunday, a result that could push the Black Sea NATO member state politically closer to Russia.
SouthFront, Hillary Is No More Best Friend of Saudi Arabia? Staff and wire reports, Nov. 10, 2016. It looks Hillary is no more the best friend of Saudi Arabia. After calling Donald Trump “a disgrace not only to the GOP [the Republican Party] but to all America,” Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a Saudi business magnate and investor, has suddenly changed his mind when it became known that the Republican candidate won the presidential election.
In December 2015, Abdulaziz al Saud, who also is a member of the Saudi royal family, advised Trump to withdraw from the US presidential race, claiming that he will never win. However, already on Wednesday, the Saudi business magnate congratulated Trump on his victory and wished all the best for his presidency. Saudi Arabia was sure that the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will win the presidential elections, and the Arab country will once again enjoy benefits that it had when Clinton served as the US Secretary of State. For this purpose, the kingdom even made a financial contribution to the election campaign of the US Democratic Party. According to an article, published by the Jordan’s Petra news agency in summer, the Saudi regime has financed about 20% of the costs of the election campaign of Hillary Clinton. The author of the article cited the words of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, a prince of Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia has always sponsored both the Republican and Democratic Parties of the US. And in the US current election, the kingdom has also with full enthusiasm provided 20% of the cost of Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, though the country does not support the decision of the King to promote a woman as a presidential candidate,” Petra quoted the words of the prince.
The article was published on the official website of the news agency and then was deleted on the eve of an official visit of Mohammad bin Salman in the US. The Petra news agency did not give any explanations. However, the article was deleted too late, and the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington saved the article. According to law, foreign countries cannot influence election results by sponsoring candidates.
CNBC, Trump’s victory over Clinton was sealed 40 years ago, Jordan Chariton, Nov. 10, 2016. In the afterglow of Donald Trump’s historic presidential victory, the Democratic firing squad is already out, looking for someone to blame. It’s time to look in the mirror. Despite being a historically weak candidate, Hillary Clinton’s demise wasn’t just about Hillary Clinton. Clinton was the final lifeline to a neoliberal bubble built by the Clintons and many others — that finally popped on November 8th, 2016. As Thomas Frank brilliantly chronicled in his book Listen, Liberal, following Richard Nixon’s re-election in 1972, the Democratic Party decided progressivism had expired. Democratic leaders — including emerging ones like a young, charismatic Arkansas laywer named Bill Clinton — saw a fork in the road, and the path to victory was in abandoning working people.
Sure, in later years, Bill and new wife, Hillary Clinton, would talk the populist talk as they began their climb to power in Arkansas politics on the road to the White House. But as Ronald Reagan assumed power and began America’s shift to a country based on social Darwinism and “I’m gonna get mine,” the Democratic Party, now led by the neoliberal, Clinton-backed Democratic Leadership Council, sat to the side—complicit. Seizing on the loosening of regulations and laws that previously kept corporate money and excessive special interest money out of elections, the Democratic Party began catering to Wall Street, big oil, big pharmaceutical companies, and the “professional class.”
WhoWhatWhy, What Happened and Why — and Where Do We Go From Here? Jeff Schechtman in dialog with Russ Baker provide a morning-after analysis, Nov. 10, 2016. What this reflects is obviously the divisions in this country but more importantly is just how kind of out of touch we are with each other, that we’re like a married couple that really just can’t listen to the other person at all.
Trump 290 electoral votes, 47.5% popular vote; Clinton 228 electoral votes, 47.6% popular vote; GOP controls Senate (51-48 seats), keeps House majority (239-193)
Washington Post, Republican businessman wins the presidency in a stunning upset over Clinton, Karen Tumulty, Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the nation’s 45th president in the stunning culmination of a campaign that defied expectations and conventions at every turn. The 70-year-old celebrity businessman who had never before run for office is poised to become the oldest president ever elected to a first term. Trump is shown above in a Gage Skidmore file photo taken at a CPAC convention.
Global markets were rattled after assumptions earlier in the week that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would notch a comfortable victory. One by one on Tuesday night, electoral prizes that for hours had been too close to call deep into the night fell into Trump’s win column. First, Florida and Ohio. Then North Carolina. And then Pennsylvania and, at 2:30 a.m., Wisconsin.
A few minutes after 2 a.m., Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, told stunned supporters who had gathered in anticipation of celebrating her victory to go home because there would be no further statement as outstanding votes were counted. “We can wait a little longer, can’t we?” Podesta said.
Clinton claimed Colorado and Virginia as she thought she would, but she underperformed expectations in the traditionally Democratic-leaning Rust Belt states where Trump campaigned aggressively in the final weeks. Clinton had so taken for granted a region thought of as her “blue wall” that she did not hold a single event in Wisconsin during the general-election campaign.
National Public Radio, Here Is What Donald Trump Wants To Do In His First 100 Days, Amita Kelly and Barbara Sprunt, Nov. 9, 2016. At the end of October, Donald Trump spoke in Gettysburg, Pa., and released a plan for his first 100 days in office.
The plan (below) outlines three main areas of focus: cleaning up Washington, including by imposing term limits on Congress; protecting American workers; and restoring rule of law. He also laid out his plan for working with Congress to introduce 10 pieces of legislation that would repeal Obamacare, fund the construction of a wall at the Southern border (with a provision that Mexico would reimburse the U.S.), encourage infrastructure investment, rebuild military bases, promote school choice and more.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mostly made nice with Trump but also shot down or expressed little enthusiasm in some of his plans. On Trump’s proposal to impose term limits on Congress, McConnell said, “It will not be on the agenda in the Senate.” McConnell has been a long-standing opponent of term limits, as NPR’s Susan Davis reports. “I would say we have term limits now — they’re called elections.”
Transcript: Donald Trump Speaks At Victory Rally
What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington. Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:
* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
New York Times, Giuliani, Christie and Gingrich Could Get Top Positions, Patrick Healy and Jeremy W. Peters, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald J. Trump on Wednesday turned to assembling his White House team, a reality that was once unimaginable to the American political establishment. His advisers said he was also selecting a conservative nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of the Trump transition team, is shown in an official photo.
Washington Post, Amid a world of problems, Trump’s foreign policy prescriptions are opaque, Karen DeYoung, Nov. 9, 2016. With little clarity on much of what he intends to do, the best initial indicator of Donald Trump’s approach may be those he chooses for his national security team. After a campaign of bombastic sound bites and often contradictory policy prescriptions, Trump’s plans remain opaque for dealing with issues including terrorism, Russian aggression and multiple shooting wars in the Middle East.
He has called for increased military strength and more forceful American leadership, while also speaking of stepping back from U.S. responsibilities as the free world’s primary protector. He has invited China to invade North Korea and “solve that problem,” but also said he would host North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the White House.
He said he would renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, and then called for strict enforcement of the existing agreement. His plan to combat the Islamic State, Trump said during the campaign, is a secret.
Among the rumored candidates for secretary of state, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton — both outspoken Trump supporters — are viewed as anathema by many current diplomats and as loose cannons even by many of their fellow Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (shown at left0, is seen as the more mainstream candidate.
The possibility that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and an active Trump adviser and surrogate who is highly critical of current policy, would be named as defense secretary or national security adviser does not sit well within the Pentagon or the intelligence community, career officials in both have said. Flynn’s appointment to a Cabinet position would also require a congressional waiver of a law restricting activities of former senior military officers.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), another senior Trump adviser, is said to be interested in the top Defense Department job. Though a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he is much better known for his interest in immigration than the military.
Washington Post, Clinton, Obama urge backers to accept Trump’s victory, Anne Gearan and Juliet Eilperin, Nov. 9, 2016. ‘We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,’ Clinton says in emotional concession speech. Both Hillary Clinton and President Obama urged their backers Wednesday to accept President-elect Donald Trump’s victory and support his transition into power, as Democrats prepare to hand over control of the White House for the first time in eight years.
The calls for a national political reconciliation underscored the seismic political realignment now underway in Washington after Clinton’s crushing loss to the New York businessman. Both the president and his former Secretary of State told their supporters not to despair as Republicans rejoiced at the idea that they will control both the legislative and executive branch in two and-a-half months.
Washington Post, GOP sweep imperils Obama’s signature health-care law, Amy Goldstein, Nov. 9, 2016. Although the Senate’s Republican majority will remain short of the 60 votes needed for full repeal, Congress in the past year used special legislative measures to pass a bill undoing major elements of the law. President Obama vetoed that legislation. For the past six years, no law has served as a larger GOP whipping post than the Affordable Care Act, and the Republican sweep Tuesday of political Washington has imperiled the ACA’s expansive reach, putting at risk the insurance that more than 20 million Americans have gained.
During the final week of his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to repeal the 2010 health-care law so quickly that he might summon Congress into a special session to accomplish the task. “We will do it, and we will do it very, very quickly. It is a catastrophe,” he said. Yet shortly after dawn Wednesday, a top Republican Senate spokesman said the chamber had not yet formulated its strategy for the coming session. In recent years, the GOP-led House has voted more than five dozen times to rescind the ACA, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) returned to that point late Wednesday morning when he described the law as “collapsing under its own weight.”
Washington Post, Donald Trump’s (mostly) presidential debut as president-elect, Aaron Blake, Nov. 9, 2016 (3:42 a.m.). Donald Trump made his debut as president-elect of the United States just before 3 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday morning. Hillary Clinton had called him to congratulate him. It was official. The big question as he took the stage in this new reality was: What kind of president will he really be? Would the bombast and personal feuding continue? Would he try to tone it down in a way he never truly did on the campaign trail?
Well, if his first address as apparent president-elect is any indication, there will still be some of that Trump unpredictability and flavor, but Trump for the most part attempted to reach out to his opponents and struck a gracious tone. For those worried about a Trump presidency, it was probably what they had hoped to see. And for a country harshly divided by the 2016 election, it was a uniquely subdued and almost somber moment. Below, we’ve pasted his entire speech, with our highlights and analysis.
USA Today, Trump wins battlegrounds Florida, Ohio, N.C., John Bacon, Nov. 9, 2016. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump was the projected winner in the crucial battleground states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio on Tuesday, widening an incredible but increasingly likely path to victory for the billionaire real-estate mogul and reality TV star. Democrat Hillary Clinton was clinging to faint hopes as the election of the nation’s 45th president neared a frenzied conclusion.
By midnight, Trump had claimed more than 240 electoral votes to Clinton’s 215. The magic number is 270, and swing states still too close to call include Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and New Hampshire (4).
Trump’s strong early showing brought angst to world financial markets, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling as much as 500 points in after-hours trading. Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said a Trump win would spark uncertainty and likely result in a steep fall in stock prices Wednesday.
Trump (shown in a photo from his hit television show “The Apprentice”) claimed early victories in Utah, Idaho, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas,Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana. Indiana is a historically red state and home to Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence.
New York Times, Donald Trump Wins 3 Big Prizes: Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, Michael D Shear, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes, one of the biggest prizes of the night. Donald J. Trump, who ran an improbable and often ugly campaign against the establishment, was holding on to small but significant leads in a series of key battleground states on Tuesday night, upending months of polling that had given the advantage to Hillary Clinton and raising Republican hopes of seizing back the White House.
Just after 11:30 p.m, Mr. Trump was declared the victor in Florida, earning him the state’s 29 electoral votes and giving him a more certain grip on the presidential contest with Mrs. Clinton. Reaction to the prospect of a Trump presidency rippled across the globe, with financial markets abroad falling as American television networks raised the prospect that Mrs. Clinton might lose. Asian markets were trading sharply lower, down around two percentage points, and in the United States, Dow Jones futures were down as much as 600 points in after-hours trading.
Washington Post, Election results: Donald Trump wins Pennsylvania, putting victory within grasp, Matea Gold and David A. Fahrenthold, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was projected to win Pennsylvania early Wednesday morning, putting victory within grasp for the Republican presidential nominee, who entered election day an underdog but racked up unexpected wins in a series of battleground states.
In securing the Keystone State’s whopping 20 electoral votes, Trump all but closed off a path for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to become the first woman in the Oval Office. He held 264 electoral votes, just six shy of the 270 majority need to win the White House. It was the first time since 1988 that a GOP presidential candidate won Pennsylvania – a sign of the resonance Trump’s message had with white voters outside of the urban centers.
The Intercept, Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit, Glenn Greenwald (shown in a file photo), Nov. 9, 2016. The parallels between the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’ even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president last night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both.
Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.
The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people.
While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.
That message was heard loud and clear.
President Barack Obama speaks with staff in the Oval Office, Nov. 9, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New Yorker, An American Tragedy, David Remnick, Nov. 9, 2016. The electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.
There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.
Trumpenstein monster (Image by ABananaPeeled.com licensed under DMCA)
OpEdNews, American liberals unleashed the Trump monster, Jonathan Cook, Nov. 9, 2016. The earth has been shifting under our feet for a while, but all liberals want to do is desperately cling to the status quo like a life-raft. Middle-class Britons are still hyperventilating about Brexit, and now middle-class America is trembling at the prospect of Donald Trump in the White House.
And, of course, middle-class Americans are blaming everyone but themselves. The reason Trump is heading to the Oval Office is because the Democratic party rigged the primaries to ensure that a candidate who could have beaten Trump, Bernie Sanders, did not get on the ticket. You want to blame someone, blame Clinton and the rotten-to-the-core Democratic party leadership.
But no, liberals won’t be listening because they are too busy blaming Julian Assange and Wikileaks for exposing the truth about the Democratic leadership set out in the Clinton campaign emails — and Russia for supposedly stealing them. Blame lies squarely too with Barack Obama, the great black hope who spent eight years proving how wedded he was to neoliberal orthodoxy at home and a neoconservative agenda abroad.
Do I sound a little like Trump as I rant against liberals? Yes, I do. And while you are busy dismissing me as a closet Trump supporter, you can continue your furious refusal to examine the reasons why a truly progressive position appears so similar to a far-right one like Trump’s.
Roll Call, How Republicans Held the Senate, Alex Roarty, Nov. 9, 2016. GOP prepared diligently for Trump, but he turned out to be a much different candidate than expected.
Washington Post, Top House Republican says he’ll continue probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Lisa Rein, Nov. 9, 2016. While President-elect Donald Trump pledged in his victory speech to “come together as one united people,” a top House Republican said Wednesday he will continue to investigate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Jason Chaffetz (shown in an official photo), the Utah congressman finishing his first term leading the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made it clear the partisan bitterness that marked the presidential campaign is not going to go away. “It would be totally remiss of us to dismiss [the email investigation] because she’s not going to be president,” Chaffetz said of the defeated Democratic nominee. “I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department,” he said. “Tens of thousands of documents still have not been turned over to Congress.”
Last week, senior Republican lawmakers were openly discussing the prospect of impeaching Clinton for setting up a private email server for official State Department business, even though the FBI concluded after two investigations that she should not be criminally prosecuted. Impeachment, of course, was a GOP dream if Clinton won.
Huffington Post, It Looks Like Donald Trump Did Really Well With Union Households, Dave Jamieson. Nov. 9, 2016. That’s A Bad Sign For Unions. Unions campaigned hard against the nominee, but exit polls suggest he did much better with union households than other Republican candidates have. Back in January, the labor group Working America raised an alarm for Democrats: Their canvassing near Pittsburgh and Cleveland suggested Donald Trump had undeniable appeal in areas with high union membership. His outsider message, built on assailing trade deals such as NAFTA, was resonating with white folks with union cards who might normally vote Democratic.
That became the conventional wisdom. But as time passed and the summer wore on, unions said that Trump’s support among union members was overblown. The AFL-CIO union federation, which rarely releases its own internal poll numbers, produced some data from Midwestern states showing Trump’s strength with union workers falling off a cliff. They said he was polling worse than Mitt Romney was among that demographic in 2012.
The message: Everybody relax. But like so many other polls and prognostications (including ours, and just about everybody else’s), that one didn’t look so hot on Nov. 9.
Washington Post, The Clintons were undone by the middle-American voters they once knew so well, David Maraniss, Nov 9, 2016. Their dynasty was halted by the white working class voters Bill Clinton grew up with. (Shown in screenshot of concession speech, Nov. 9, 2016 in New York City.)
Washington Post, Donald Trump could actually take steps to try to jail Hillary Clinton, Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 9, 2016. Even prominent conservatives in the legal world say it’s a bad idea. Donald Trump said at a debate last month that he would appoint a special prosecutor to examine Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state and remarked that she would “be in jail” if he were president. In about two months, he’ll have the power to potentially make that a reality.
He wouldn’t, of course, be able to snap his fingers and throw his political rival behind bars. He would have to order his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor, then count on that special prosecutor to agree with his assessment that Clinton’s email practices violated criminal laws about mishandling classified information. And even if he did all that and Clinton was charged, she would still be afforded a trial, and Trump’s special prosecutor would have to contend with evidence that led the original team of federal investigators to conclude there was not sufficient basis to believe a crime occurred.
OpEdNews, What to Blame for and Who’s To Blame: Excoriate the DNC, Rob Kall, Nov. 9, 2016. The combined machinations of the DNC (including Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, shown in photo), Superdelegates and the Hillary Clinton campaign have set back Democratic and progressive progress by 20 or more years. This article explores the damage done and who to blame. Let’s start with a screaming reality. All the polls showed that Bernie would have done far better than Hillary in the general election. Bernie Sanders would have won. He would have won big and his coat-tails would have carried Russ Feingold and probably many other senate and house candidates. Bottom line:
This was an election lost by the DNC. MSNBC & CNN handed the election to Trump by steamrolling over Sanders, setting up Clinton for her inevitable fall.
Al Monitor, Proponents of the nuclear pact fear the worst under a Trump administration, Julian Pecquet, Nov. 9, 2016. Advocates of the nuclear deal with Iran are convinced the pact is in mortal danger following Republican Donald Trump’s upset election. Deal skeptics on Capitol Hill have already prepared a raft of bills that have a far better chance of making it into law with the threat of a White House veto now out of the way. But the president-elect himself can just as easily send what he’s called a “disastrous” deal to the dustbin of history by simply refusing to sign off on sanctions relief.
“That’s why I find it so hard to believe that the deal survives,” said Richard Nephew, a former State Department sanctions official who now heads the program on Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets at Columbia University. “At some point, [Trump] will have to make an affirmative decision to support its implementation.” Under the deal, the United States isn’t scheduled to provide additional sanctions relief until October 2023, well into a second Trump term. But the deal does require the president to periodically extend waivers on sanctions that remain on the books, as long as Iran abides by its obligations under the deal.
Iranian officials rushed to reassure the world that they remain wedded to the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his Cabinet after Trump’s election that the deal “cannot be overturned by one government’s decision.”
Washington Post, Trump wins Florida and N.C., narrowing Clinton’s paths to victory, Matea Gold and David A. Fahrenthold, Nov. 8, 2016. Contest could hinge on Minn., Wis., Mich. and Pa. — states Trump aggressively contested in race’s final stretch. The presidential race was extremely close on Tuesday evening. Republican Donald Trump — who entered the night as an underdog – seized the advantage over Democrat Hillary Clinton in a series of battleground states.
By 11 p.m. Eastern time, voting had ended in 49 states, everywhere but Alaska. Together, they represented 535 of the country’s 538 electoral votes.
Pre-Election Polls,Pundits Proven Wrong As Trump Surges:
The non-partisan Justice Integrity Project has compiled pre-election poll results showing Democrats also are predicted to win a narrow advantage in the U.S. Senate. But polls (updated to Nov. 8) suggest Democrats will fail to gain control of the U.S. House, which state legislatures heavily gerrymandered for a decade after the 2010 census.
- Princeton Election Consortium, Predictions as of November 6, Dr. Sam Wang, Nov. 8, 2016 (6:06 A.M. EST). Snapshot (191 state polls): Clinton 307, Trump 231 Electoral votes. Meta-margin: Clinton +2.2 percent. Clinton Nov. win probability: random drift, 99 percent. Senate snapshot (48 polls): Dem+Ind: 50, GOP: 50.
- Real Clear Politics, Presidential Electoral Map Predictions (No Toss-ups), Staff report, Nov. 8, 2016. Clinton/Kaine: 272; Trump/Pence 266 Electoral Votes. (Assumes Trump wins in FL, IA, NC, NV, OH but not NH.)
- Huffington Post, Forecast for President, Natalie Jackson and Adam Hooper, Nov. 8, 2016. Clinton: 98.2 percent; Trump: 1.5 percent. In the event of a tie, the newly elected House of Representatives will elect the president, and the newly elected Senate will elect the vice president. Percent of simulations where each party gains control of Senate: Dem: 66 percent tie: 24 percent.
- 538.com, Who will win the presidency? Nate Silver, Nov. 8, 2016. Hillary Clinton: 71.6 percent; Donald Trump: 28.4 percent. Electoral votes: Clinton 302, Trump 234.
- New York Times, Who Will Be President? Josh Katz, Nov. 8, 2016. Hillary Clinton has an 84% chance to win. The Democrats have a 52 percent chance of winning the Senate. The Upshot’s elections model suggests that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, based on the latest state and national polls. A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible: Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 38-yard field goal.
- University of Virginia Center for Politics, Our Final 2016 Picks: Clinton 322, Trump 216 EVs; 50-50 Senate; GOP holds House, Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley, Nov. 7, 2016. Based on RealClearPolitics’ state-level polling data for 2004, 2008, and 2012, the candidate leading the most polls in a given state usually wins said state. In those three election cycles, there were just three cases where the candidate who led in a plurality of all polls taken from Sept. 1 to Election Day did not go on to win the state: Wisconsin in 2004, Indiana in 2008, and Florida in 2012.
- Washington Post, Final Predictions, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, Nov. 8, 2016. Electoral votes: Clinton 275, Trump 215, with FL, NC, NH as tossups.
Brookings Institution, Voter suppression, not fraud, looms large in U.S. elections, Vanessa Williamson, Nov. 8, 2016. For months, Donald Trump has repeatedly raised the specter of a “rigged election” costing him the presidency. It is an obsession that can really only be understood as a case of projection. To the extent that there is a systematic effort to distort the election results this November, it is coming from the Republican Party.
RealClearPolitics, Trump Makes Closing Argument In New Hampshire, James Arkin, Nov. 8, 2016. Donald Trump campaigned at a packed and raucous arena here Monday night, rallying the same supporters who gave him his first political victory in the primary nine months ago, setting him on the path that ends Tuesday night with either a come-from-behind victory, or a third consecutive Republican presidential defeat that would leave the party’s future in question.
It wasn’t Trump’s final event of the 2016 campaign — he jetted off for a midnight rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., a state where he has consistently trailed in polls but claims he can win. In New Hampshire, Trump is in a dead heat with Clinton. The Granite State could provide her a critical Electoral College buffer in a tight election, or could give him a slight boost as he searches for a path to 270 Electoral College votes.
Washington Post, How the stampede for big money enabled Trump’s rise, Matea Gold, Nov. 8, 2016. The pursuit of mega-donors drew early front-runners in both parties away from the campaign trail, leaving them vulnerable to the fiercely populist mood gripping voters — and to a candidate on the GOP side, Donald Trump, uniquely positioned to harness that anger.
The hunt for big dollars began in January 2015 outside Palm Springs, Calif., at a luxury hillside resort with sweeping views of the sprawling desert floor. There, the emerging crop of Republican presidential candidates jockeyed to impress the millionaires and billionaires who make up the Koch political network. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas jetted in from a forum in Iowa, joined by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Center for Public Integrity, Team Clinton sponsored 75 percent of TV ads in 2016 presidential race, Michael Beckelemail, Nov. 8, 2016. Will advertising assault help the Democratic nominee win the White House? More than 500,000 broadcast and national cable TV ads have aired in the presidential race during the general election, and Team Hillary Clinton accounted for 75 percent of them. That’s according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data provided by ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG, which showed that the Democratic presidential nominee and her allies combined to air more than 383,000 TV ads from June 12 through Nov. 6, while Republican Donald Trump and those supporting his presidential bid combined to air about 125,000.
Clinton’s own campaign, which raised $513 million versus the $255 million raised by Trump, was alone responsible for more than 282,000 ads — about 55 percent of all the TV ads in the race since mid-June. During this period, Priorities USA Action — the main pro-Clinton super PAC, which raised more than $175 million — nearly aired as many TV ads than Trump’s own campaign. Priorities USA Action aired about 77,000 TV ads, according to Kantar Media/CMAG. Trump’s campaign aired about 85,000.
Washington Post, Officials brace for chaotic day of voting, William Wan and Sari Horwitz, Nov. 7, 2016. Long lines, voter intimidation among top concerns. As the historically bitter presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump nears its end, election monitors are especially worried about the specter of voter intimidation after calls by the Republican nominee for his supporters to stake out polling places and watch for fraud.
TPM, Obama Meets 12-Year-Old With Cerebral Palsy Who Was Kicked Out Of Trump Rally, Allegra Kirkland, Nov. 7, 2016. One day after he was removed from a Donald Trump rally, a 12-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy met with the president. (Photo above via Facebook.) J.J. Holmes and his mother, Alison, stopped by a Saturday Trump event in Tampa to protest the Republican nominee’s treatment of the disabled. After chanting Hillary Clinton’s name, Trump ordered them out of the rally and his supporters turned on them.
“The crowd started chanting ‘U-S-A’ and pushing his wheelchair,” Alison Holmes told the Washington Post. “We were put out by security. Mr. Trump kept saying, ‘Get them out.’ “
“I hate Donald Trump,” J.J. piped up, speaking through a computer vocalization device. A woman who witnessed the incident asked for help in arranging a meeting between J.J. and President Barack Obama, who stumped for Clinton Sunday in nearby Kissimmee.
Washington Post, ‘Something is happening that is amazing,’ Trump said. He was right, Jenna Johnson, Nov. 7, 2016. Over more than 170 rallies, the GOP nominee’s supporters explain why he’s their guy. I followed Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) to more than 170 rallies in 35 states and talked with thousands of his supporters. The first question I usually asked: Why do you like him?
The answers were nearly always the same: He’s saying what I’m saying, thinking, feeling or wanting to hear. He’s not a politician and not part of a corrupt system. He’s honest and speaks his mind, even if it gets him in trouble. And he’s tough.
Plus, Trump told his supporters that it was okay to blame their financial problems on undocumented immigrants and the Chinese, that it was okay to be fearful of Muslims and those who don’t speak English, that it was okay to punch back at Black Lives Matter activists, that it was okay to hate Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Rolling Stone, Donald Trump Cannot Be President of the United States, Jesse Berney, Nov. 7, 2016. The time has come for voters to decide what it truly means to be an American. You cannot vote for Donald Trump and pretend that this is just another election, and he is just another candidate.
The “grab ’em by the pussy” moment was disastrous for Trump’s campaign; it reinforced the defining narrative of his sexism. But it drew his strongest supporters even closer to him, because it reminded them of the world they’re losing. They want to live in an America where they can grab women by the pussy and brag about it to their friends. They want to casually use the n-word – just for the bad ones; they’re not racist! – without being set upon by the PC police. They want what’s coming to them, what’s owed them.
And they are willing to burn down the world to get it.
Donald Trump is the worst major-party candidate for president in American history. This is not a close call. By virtually any measure, he is unfit to lead a Cub Scout troop, let alone the nation with the world’s most powerful military.
It’s worth going back and reading the transcripts of his debates with Hillary Clinton just to remember how he speaks when he’s answering questions off the cuff. It’s breathtaking how incapable he is of forming a single coherent thought. The expectations for him were so low that there was little to no coverage of his failure over four-and-a-half hours to say anything intelligent about any issue important to the American people. He meanders, he interrupts, and he whines. He is uninformed and unprepared.
Now is the moment for every last American to decide what it truly means to be a citizen. You can be reluctant about Hillary Clinton. You don’t even have to vote for her (though I did, without doubt or hesitation).
What you cannot do is vote for Donald Trump and pretend that this is just another election, and he is just another candidate. It is your minimum duty as a citizen not to support a racist, sexist, unqualified, dishonest, corrupt manchild who celebrates everything that’s ugly about America and not a single thing that’s great about it.
No matter how left out or left behind you feel, voting for Trump is nothing short of a moral failure. It’s a vicious act against the human beings, mostly women and people of color, who would suffer miserably under his presidency. It’s an act of violence against America itself, whose greatness has always been about progressing from more oppression to less – slowly, sometimes haltingly, but forward.
Huffington Post, America’s First Major Party Female Nominee And Only Black President Rally Voters At Nation’s Birthplace, Ryan J. Reilly and Jeffrey Young, Nov. 7, 2016. The Founding Fathers would be stunned to see what happened outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Monday night.
Huffington Post, Edward Snowden Shows Just How Fast The FBI Could Read Hillary Clinton’s Emails, Ed Mazza, Nov. 7, 2016 (updated from previous day). “Old laptops could do it in minutes-to-hours.” Minutes after FBI Director James Comey’s announcement on Sunday that Hillary Clinton won’t face charges over recently uncovered emails, supporters of Donald Trump broke out the conspiracy theories. Leaving aside the false assumption that just one agent would have to read all of the emails found on former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop, it turns out “machines” are a lot smarter than Flynn seems to think.
Reports indicated that nearly every email on the laptop was a duplicate of messages the agency had already examined ― something NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said the FBI would’ve been able to figure out within hours. In response to a question from Jeff Jarvis, professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, Snowden explained how to sort the duplicates. If Snowden is correct, the real question isn’t why the examination of the emails was over so quickly, it’s why it took so long to clear up the mess Comey made with his Oct. 28 letter to Congress.
Huffington Post, Trump Says The FBI Clearing Clinton Is More Proof The System Is ‘Rigged,’ Marina Fang, Nov. 7, 2016 (updated from previous day). “You can’t review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can’t do it, folks.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Sunday blasted FBI director James Comey’s announcement that Hillary Clinton will face no charges in connection with newly discovered emails the bureau has been reviewing. Trump said Comey’s decision is proof that things in Washington are “rigged” in Clinton’s favor. “Right now, she is being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system,” Trump told supporters in Michigan.
Trump, who has seized upon Clinton’s email scandal to argue that she is corrupt and unqualified to be president, said Comey’s announcement is evidence that the system is “rigged” against him. “Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know it,” he said. “And now it is up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8.”
“It’s unbelievable, unbelievable what she gets away with,” he added. “We don’t want it taken away from us,” Trump later said of the election. “We don’t want it taken away.” Trump surrogates also criticized Comey, claiming that the agency could not have reviewed the full number of emails in so short a time. GOP leaders, meanwhile, used the news to continue to attack Clinton.
Republicans have also threatened that if Clinton is elected president, she will continue to face investigations into the scandal. “Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to seek the office of the presidency of the United States,” Trump said on Sunday. “The investigations into her crimes will go on for a long, long time.”
Huffington Post, Did Donald Trump Just Make Up An Award He Won? Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney, Nov. 7, 2016. He says he was named “Man of the Year” in Michigan five years ago. But there’s no evidence of this. It was a throwaway line, offered in a stream-of-consciousness riff about the state of the auto industry. Donald Trump, during a speech on Sunday, claimed that five years ago he was “honored” as “Man of the Year in Michigan.” We have no clue what he’s talking about. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But there is no apparent record of it happening, and the folks who might know aren’t talking.
Brookings Institution, How Trump’s foreign policy could upend the world order, Thomas Wright, Nov. 7, 2016. Starting with the implosion of the U.S. alliance system, a Donald Trump presidency could unravel the U.S.-led global order and ignite a world crisis of historic proportions. I have been writing about Donald Trump’s foreign policy since January. The gist of my analysis has been that Trump is much more consistent and ideological than people think. He has a core set of foreign policy instincts that date back to the mid to late 1980s. He is opposed to America’s alliance arrangements, he is opposed to the open global economy, and he is pro-authoritarian and pro-Russian.
Huffington Post, Good News For Clinton In Pennsylvania: SEPTA Strike Ends Ahead Of Election, Dave Jamieson, Nov. 7, 2016. There should be no problems getting to the polls in Philly on Tuesday. Philadelphia’s transit system resolved a labor dispute with its workers’ union on Monday, ending a major strike that threatened to carry into Election Day.
Around the Nation
Washington Post, Janet Reno, first female U.S. attorney general, dies at 78, Stephanie Hanes, Nov. 7, 2016. Janet Reno, the strong-minded Florida prosecutor tapped by Bill Clinton to become the country’s first female U.S. attorney general, and who shaped the U.S. government’s responses to the largest legal crises of the 1990s, died Nov. 7 at her home in Miami. She was 78. The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, her goddaughter, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, told the Associated Press.
Ms. Reno (shown in an official photo) brought a fierce independence to her job. From the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas to the investigation into Clinton’s sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, she was adamant that her prosecutors and agents work outside of the influence of politics, media or popular opinion. Her supporters believed she brought a heightened level of integrity and professionalism to the attorney general’s office.
Guardian, FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia, Louise Mensch, Nov. 7, 2016. Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.
The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate ( Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization.’
Reuters via Huffington Post, ISIS Abducts Nearly 300 Iraqi Security Forces Near Mosul, UN Reports, Wire services, Nov. 7, 2016. Islamic State fighters have abducted 295 former Iraqi Security Forces members near Mosul and forced 1,500 families to retreat with them from the town of Hamam al-Alil toward Mosul airport, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said on Tuesday. “People forcibly moved or abducted, it appears, are either intended to be used as human shields or – depending on their perceived affiliations – killed,” she said. The U.N. also had information about the abduction of at least 30 sheikhs in Sinjar last week, and one report that 18 of them had been killed on Friday.
Washington Post, FBI Director Comey says agency won’t recommend charges over Clinton email, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 6, 2016. FBI Director James B. Comey notified key members of Congress Sunday afternoon that after reviewing all of the newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails the agency stands by its original findings against recommending charges.
Comey, shown in a file photo, wrote that investigators had worked “around the clock” to review all the emails found on a device used by former congressman Anthony Weiner that had been sent to or from Clinton and that “we have not changed our conclusions expressed in July.” The conclusion from Comey provided one last twist to the 2016 presidential campaign and came just two days before Clinton will face Republican Donald Trump on Election Day.
Huffington Post, Nate Silver Is Unskewing Polls — All Of Them — In Trump’s Direction, Ryan Grim, Updated Nov. 6, 2016. The vaunted 538 election forecaster is putting his thumb on the scales. During the 2012 election, Republicans who hated the daily onslaught of polling showing that Mitt Romney was headed toward a comfortable defeat turned to Dean Chambers, the man who launched the website Unskewed Polls. The poll numbers were wrong, he said, and by tweaking a few things, he could give a more accurate count. His final projection had Romney winning close to all 50 states.
Chambers has wisely abandoned the field of election forecasting, and this year says he thinks the various models predicting a Hillary Clinton victory are probably accurate. The models themselves are pretty confident. HuffPost Pollster is giving Clinton a 98 percent chance of winning, and The New York Times’ model at The Upshot puts her chances at 85 percent.
There is one outlier, however, that is causing waves of panic among Democrats around the country, and injecting Trump backers with the hope that their guy might pull this thing off after all. Nate Silver’s 538 model is giving Donald Trump a heart-stopping 35 percent chance of winning as of this weekend.
Washington Post, In Pennsylvania, Trump’s call for radical change is cheered and feared, Robert Costa, Nov. 6, 2016. Donald Trump’s chances Tuesday are likely to hinge on whether there are enough voters in states like Pennsylvania, which last sided with a Republican in 1988 and where Trump has poured energy, who are willing to abandon their usual voting patterns in favor of disruption.
Huffington Post, Anti-Hate Group Condemns Donald Trump’s Closing Ad, Elise Foley, Nov. 6, 2016. “This needs to stop.” The new ad from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump ― which warns of evil global elites and uses three Jewish people as examples ― adopts the language of anti-Semites, the head of the Anti-Defamation League said on Sunday.
“Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “This needs to stop.” He added that with tensions “extremely high” as the election nears, “all candidates need to be especially responsible and bid for votes by offering sincere ideas and policy proposals, not by conjuring painful stereotypes and baseless conspiracy theories.”
Trump released the ad on Friday as a closing statement to the campaign. It features the same type of fear-based rhetoric that has dominated his campaign, including mention of establishment figures “that don’t have your good in mind.” As examples, the ad features images of progressive billionaire George Soros, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. All of them are Jewish.
Washington Post, Candidates spend final days in tug of war over key states, John Wagner, Sean Sullivan and Abby Phillip, Nov. 5, 2016. Donald Trump is banking on a late-hour attempt to win at least one blue-leaning state while Hillary Clinton is trying to keep her lead as the polls tighten in the race’s closing days.
Donald and Melania Trump (File photo)
Washington Post, Report: Melania Trump worked in U.S. without proper permit, Rosalind S. Helderman and Mary Jordan, Nov. 5, 2016. Ledgers from the modeling agency of the GOP nominee’s wife indicate that she was paid more than $20,000 before she was authorized to work in the U.S.
Washington Post, The world is watching America — and learning what not to do, Griff Witte, Nov. 5, 2016. The presidential election, a quadrennial chance to showcase how democracy works in the most powerful nation on Earth, has become instead an object lesson in what ails a country long seen as a beacon of freedom and hope.
Political Wire, Elector Says He Won’t Vote for Clinton, Taegan Goddard, Nov. 5, 2016. “A Democratic elector in Washington state said Friday he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton even if she wins the popular vote in his state on Election Day, adding a degree of suspense when the Electoral College affirms the election results next month,” the AP reports. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the electors are required to vote for a particular candidate, but some states have penalties for so-called “faithless electors.”
Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton’s Ace-in-the-Hole: Russia, Joe Lauria, Nov. 5, 2016. If Hillary Clinton loses a very tight election her ace-in-the-hole could be Russia. Corporate media reacted harshly when Donald Trump said in the last debate that he would wait and see what happens before accepting the election results. “I will keep you in suspense,” he said. Trump has alleged that the vote will be rigged. If Trump loses by a razor thin margin we can expect a demand for recounts and possible legal challenges. Some of his more violent supporters have also threatened trouble.
NBC News, How a Cuban Exile Became One of America’s Oldest Pot Prisoners, Jon Schuppe, Nov. 5, 2016. One morning in 1977, Antonio Bascaro, a swashbuckling Cuban pilot who’d once trained with the CIA in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro, stopped inside a Little Havana jewelry store that served as a crossroads with the city’s criminal underworld. That is how Bascaro, a former military officer with a sterling service record, drifted into Miami’s booming marijuana economy and became a target in America’s escalating war on drugs. Arrested in 1980 and convicted of importing more than 600,000 pounds of Colombian marijuana into the southeastern United States, Bascaro has been behind bars ever since.
With 36 years of incarceration, he is now one of the longest-serving federal inmates doing time on marijuana charges. Everyone convicted with him, including the man who hired him, went free years ago; the one exception is a former co-defendant who is serving a life sentence for the shootings of two American drug agents in Colombia. “I made a mistake and I’m still paying for it,” Bascaro, 81, said in an interview at Miami Federal Correctional Institution.
New York Times, ‘I Saw My Father Dying’: A View From Aleppo’s Government-Held Side‘I Saw My Father Dying’: A View From Aleppo’s Government-Held Side, Anne Barnard, Nov. 4, 2016. The government-held side of Aleppo looks halfway normal: bustling with restaurants, parks, hotel swimming pools and commuters. President Bashar al-Assad’s main pitch to his people is that they are safer in the territory he controls, a far cry from the bombs and hunger on the rebels’ half of the storied and strategic city.
This is what the government wanted international journalists to see when it invited a group into the country this week after years of keeping most out. But when I stepped off the bus, I found a war zone.
Even as Syria and Russia threatened an all-out assault on the rebel side of Aleppo, saying Friday was the last chance for people there to exit, they had been unable to put down a counteroffensive by a mix of Qaeda-linked and United States-backed insurgent groups.
Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, has an estimated 1.5 million residents on the government side, including thousands who have fled from the east, where the United Nations says about 275,000 are trapped by government forces, suffering shortages of food and water along with indiscriminate bombing.
The government says rebels are preventing civilians from leaving. Rebels refuse any evacuation without international supervision and a broader deal to deliver humanitarian aid. Instead, they are trying to break the siege, with Qaeda-linked groups and those backed by the United States working together — the opposite of what Russia has demanded.
Middle East Eye, US hypocrisy: Bombing of Aleppo is no worse than what happened in Gaza and Iraq, Gareth Porter, Nov. 4, 2016. Dr. Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. The Russian-Syrian bombing campaign in eastern Aleppo, which has ended at least for the time being, has been described in press reports and op-eds as though it were unique in modern military history in its indiscriminateness. In an usual move for a senior US official, Secretary of State John Kerry called for an investigation of war crimes in Aleppo.
As terrible as that toll of civilian lives is, the United States should drop the stance of moral superiority.
Certainly the civilian death toll from the bombing and shelling in Aleppo has been high, but many of the strikes may not be all that dissimilar from the major US bombing campaign in Iraq in 2003, nor as indiscriminate as Israel’s recent campaigns in densely populated cities. The impression that the bombing in Aleppo was uniquely indiscriminate was a result of news reporting and commentary suggesting, by implication, that there are no real military targets in east Aleppo.
But in fact, al-Nusra Front turned Aleppo into the central hub of a massive system of conventional warfare in Aleppo province in late January 2016 when it sent an enormous convoy of at least 200 vehicles with troops and weaponry into eastern Aleppo. A dramatic three-minute al-Nusra video shows what appears to be hundreds of vehicles full of troops and trucks with weapons mounted on them.
The Russian command in Syria has drones observing the routes in and out of Aleppo, so it certainly knew where many of those military sites were located. Syrian opposition sources also revealed that Nusra began immediately to put the military assets at its disposal underground, digging deep bunkers to protect troops, military equipment and tunnels through which troops and weapons could be moved unseen.
A dramatic three-minute al-Nusra video shows what appears to be hundreds of vehicles full of troops and trucks with weapons mounted on them.
Washington Post, Rudy Giuliani is claiming to have insider FBI knowledge. Does he really? Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 4, 2016. Rudy Giuliani (shown above) told Fox News’s Martha MacCallum on Oct. 26 that Donald Trump had “a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.”
“I’m talking about some pretty big surprise,” he said. Two days later, FBI Director James Comey revealed to Congress that his agents had resumed their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, after agents in an unrelated case discovered emails that could potentially be relevant to the server case.
Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and New York mayor whose former law firm represents the FBI Agents Association, as the Daily Beast points out. But does he have inside sources at the bureau who might have given him a heads-up about what was to come?
MSNBC / Rachel Maddow Show, Possibility of FBI leaks to Trump campaign raises alarm, Nov. 3, 2016. Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for The Guardian, talks with Rachel Maddow about concerns about connections between the Donald Trump campaign and the FBI, particularly the New York field office, and the apparent willingness of some in the FBI to politicize the bureau to help Trump. Maddow introduces the segment by describing how financier Robert Mercer is Donald Trump’s biggest donor, as well as the former boss of his campaign CEO Stephan Bannon, Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway and Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), now leading the Trump for President Transition Team, has insisted he had nothing to do with closing down the access lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013
Huffington Post, Top Chris Christie Aides Found Guilty Of All Charges In Bridgegate Scandal, Amanda Terkel, Nov. 4, 2016. A federal jury found two of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) former aides guilty of all charges in the Bridgegate scandal that has continued to plague the governor. Bill Baroni, who served as Christie’s top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, who was the governor’s deputy chief of staff, faced seven counts of conspiracy, fraud and related charges. The most serious charges carry a maximum of up to 20 years in prison.
The trouble started on Sept. 9, 2013, when three of the access lanes were shut down on the George Washington Bridge connecting Manhattan to Fort Lee, New Jersey. It’s the busiest bridge in the country. The change created significant problems on the New Jersey side of the bridge and was ordered without notifying police, emergency officials or officials on the New York side of the Port Authority’s leadership.
Christie officials originally tried to claim that the closures were part of a traffic study ― an excuse that was soon debunked. The real motive of messing with the city’s Democratic mayor, who refused to endorse Christie’s reelection bid, was revealed shortly afterward. Although Christie has not been charged with any wrongdoing, the scandal haunted him during his presidential run. And the trial brought out details that bring the incident closer to his doorstep. David Wildstein told jurors that he and Baroni talked with Christie about shutting down the lanes during a Sept. 11 memorial service. Wildstein has been cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy.
There have long been indications that Christie may have known more than he was letting on. A top aide to Christie privately told a colleague that the governor lied at a December 2013 news conference when he said no one on his senior staff knew about the lane closures. “He just flat out lied about senior staff and [campaign manager Bill] Stepien not being involved,” Christie staffer Christina Renna texted.
Washington Post, In Miami’s ‘Little Moscow,’ Russians helped Trump’s brand survive the recession, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Dana Priest, Nov. 4, 2016. While the GOP nominee has denied having investments in Russia, the experience in Miami and other Trump-branded communities shows how real estate investors from the former Soviet Union have invested in him.Nov. 3
Associated Press via NBC News, Jury Finds Against Rolling Stone, Reporter in Rape Article Trial, Staff report, Nov. 4, 2016. A federal jury found Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher and a reporter defamed a University of Virginia administrator in a discredited story about gang rape at a fraternity house, news media reported Friday.
University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo claimed the 2014 article portrayed her as a villain who discouraged the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting the incident to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie’s claims. Rolling Stone’s attorneys said there was no evidence that the reporter knew what she was writing about Eramo was false or had serious doubts about whether it was true.
Daily Mail, Trump’s 13-year-old ‘rape victim’ dramatically DROPS her case, Ryan Parry, Nov. 4, 2016. Woman withdraws legal claim she was assaulted at Jeffrey Epstein sex party. The woman who alleged that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious ‘sex parties’ in 1994 when she was a 13-year-old has dropped the civil lawsuit that was filed against him.
Trump’s legal team branded the allegations ‘disgusting at the highest level’ and a ‘hoax’ clearly framed to ‘solicit media attention or, perhaps… simply politically motivated.’ She first sued Trump and Jeffrey Epstein under the name Katie Johnson on April 26 in California federal court and filed an amended complaint in New York federal court in October, claiming she was subject to rape, criminal sexual acts, assault, battery and false imprisonment. The court papers offer no corroborative evidence that her claims are true.
On Wednesday, Johnson suddenly cancelled a press conference at which she was set to reveal herself for the first time, saying she was ‘too afraid’ following a series of ‘threats’ against her.
Washington Post, Donald Trump has never been closer to the presidency than he is at this moment, Philip Bump, Nov. 3, 2016. If the polls closed right at this moment (which they won’t) and if the results in each state perfectly mirrored the current RealClearPolitics average of polls in each state (which they won’t), Hillary Clinton would be elected president by an electoral college margin of 8 votes. From her high in the polls a week or two ago, Clinton’s leads in a number of critical battleground states have collapsed or evaporated entirely.
The election could come down to one state with four electoral college votes that flips from Clinton to Donald Trump and, boom: A 269-269 electoral college tie, and a vote by the House of Representatives to decide on the next president — who, given the composition of the House, would almost certainly be Donald Trump.
RealClearPolitics, Trump Banks on New Hampshire to Clinch Win, Caitlin Huey-Burns and Rebecca Berg, Nov. 3, 2016. Donald Trump will wrap up his presidential bid where it all began: New Hampshire. The GOP nominee will host his final rally before Election Day in Manchester, where he held his first official campaign event and where he claimed his first primary state victory. Polls are tightening in New Hampshire and show Trump within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, whose lead there has been cut in half over the last week in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Washington Post, ‘He’s got to get control of the ship again’: How tensions at the FBI will persist after the election, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 3, 2016. Deep divisions inside the FBI and the Justice Department over how to handle investigations dealing with Hillary Clinton will probably fester even after Tuesday’s presidential election and pose a significant test for James B. Comey’s leadership of the nation’s chief law enforcement agency.
Huffington Post, Melania Trump Is Very Upset By People Who Bully Others On The Internet, Eliot Nelson, Nov. 3, 2016. Melania Trump (shown in her Twitter photo) returned from political exile on Thursday by making a rather eyebrow-raising claim: as first lady, she would combat bullying. That anti-bullying campaign, however, likely wouldn’t extend to her husband.
“Our culture has gotten too mean and too violent,” the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a crowd here in the suburbs of Philadelphia. “It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground and it is unacceptable when it’s done by someone with no name hiding on the internet.”
Melania Trump has kept a low profile since it was revealed that parts of her 2016 Republican National Convention address were lifted from Michelle Obama’s address to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Since that time, Trump, who was regularly by her husband’s side during the Republican primary, has been largely absent from the campaign trail.
Huffington Post, Trump Creepily Singles Out Reporter At Florida Rally (Again), Rebecca Shapiro, Nov. 3, 2016. He didn’t mean to suggest anyone should attack the journalist, a spokeswoman said. GOP nominee Donald Trump singled out NBC News reporter Katy Tur on Wednesday during a rally in Florida, continuing to taunt reporters covering his campaign. Tur has been embedded with the Trump campaign, following the candidate throughout the presidential race. Trump in the past has called out Tur publicly by name, and has referred to her as “Little Katy, third-rate journalist.”
During his usual takedown of the “dishonest media” in Miami on Wednesday, Trump called out the press ― and specifically Tur ― for being biased and not reporting fairly on his campaign. CNN host Wolf Blitzer last week asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to talk to the Republican nominee about singling out reporters, especially those embedded with the campaign, citing safety concerns. “He points to them, he sort of eggs the crowd on to go after them,” Blitzer said. “There are a lot of young journalists. He shouldn’t be doing that.”
BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) via YouTube, The Conspiracy Files: The Trump Dossier, Nov. 3, 2016 (59:28 min. documentary). Narrated by Carolyn Catz; Filmed, Produced and Directed by John O’Kane; and Producer (American footage) Ceri Ishfryn. A BBC team, O’Kane and Ishfryn, traveled the United States to document “conspiracy theories” involving presidential candidates either as advocates or as alleged perpetrators. Aside from candidates, among those voicing opinions were commentators Roger Stone, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Nancy Soderberg, and Wayne Madsen. The producers began their United States-based research with a background interview with the Justice Integrity Project in Washington, DC.
Reuters via Huffington Post, Brexit Challenge: Court Rules U.K. Parliament Must Vote On Leaving E.U., Nov. 3, 2016. The court ruled lawmakers must vote on triggering Article 50, needed for Britain to leave the bloc. England’s High Court ruled on Thursday that the British governmentrequires parliamentary approval to trigger the process of exiting the European Union, a major upset for Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for Brexit. Sterling rose on the news, with many investors taking the view that lawmakers would temper thegovernment’s policies and make an economically disruptive “hard Brexit” less likely.
The court said it had granted the government permission to appeal against the ruling before the Supreme Court, which has set aside Dec. 5-8 to deal with the matter. A panel of three of the most senior judges in the country ruled that the government could nottrigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the formal step needed to start negotiations on the terms of Brexit, without approval from parliament.
“The court does not accept the argument put forward by the government,” said Lord Chief Justice John Thomas, reading out the three judges’ ruling.
“For the reasons set out in the judgment, we decide that the government does not have power … to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.”
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the government was disappointed with the courtruling and would consider it carefully before deciding how to proceed.
“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by acts of parliament. The government is determined to respect the result of the referendum,” Fox told parliament.
Global Proxy War In Syria: Three Views via British-owned Reuters
Southfront, Militants Refuse to Leave Aleppo During Forthcoming Humanitarian Pause, Staff and wire reports, Nov. 3, 2016. ‘Moderate’ opposition militants have refused to leave the city of Aleppo during the forthcoming humanitarian pause, announced by the Russian Defense Ministry on November 4. Civilians and militants will have another chance to leave the city. However, terrorists, controlling the eastern quarters of Aleppo said that they are not going to leave. Earlier, it was reported that militants shelled residential areas and positions of the Syrian Army with bombs with chlorine and other chemical agents.
See different interpretation: Reuters via Al Jazeera, Rebels reject Russian demand to leave Syria’s Aleppo, Staff and wire reports, Nov. 3, 2016. Rebel official says it is “completely out of the question” for them to withdraw from the divided city in northern Syria. “We will not give up the city of Aleppo to the Russians and we won’t surrender,” Zakaria Malahifji, of the Fastaqim rebel group, told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
Reuters, Ghost soldiers: the Russians secretly dying for the Kremlin in Syria, Maria Tsvetkova and Anton Zverev, Nov. 3, 2016. The start of this year proved deadly for one unit of about 100 Russian fighters supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in northern Syria. On Feb. 3, 38-year-old Maxim Kolganov was killed in a firefight with rebels near Aleppo when a bullet pierced his body armor and heart. Then, on March 9, the same unit came under shell-fire near Palmyra, and Sergei Morozov, also 38, was hit and died on the way to hospital.
The deaths of Kolganov and Morozov, and others like them, have not been made public. Officially, Russia is participating only in an air war over Syria with a small number of special forces on the ground. Moscow denies that its troops are involved in regular ground combat operations.
However, in interviews with more than a dozen people with direct knowledge of these deployments, Reuters has established that Russian fighters are playing a more substantial role in ground combat than that the role the Kremlin says is being played by the regular Russian military. The sources described the Russian fighters as contractors or mercenaries, hired by a private company, rather than regular troops.
Around the Nation
Washington Post, Breaking silence, Obama is critical of Comey decision: ‘We don’t operate on innuendo,’ David Nakamura, Nov. 2, 2016. The president has been reluctant to weigh in on FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email practices. Obama briefly addressed the situation for the first time, saying in an interview this week that there was a norm for how investigations are handled. (Photo screenshot from Now This News site.)
RealClearPolitics, 7 Days to Go, Nominees Buckle Down in Battlegrounds, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Nov. 2, 2016. The wildest presidential race in memory is showing signs of becoming a bit more traditional in the final week of the campaign. With just seven days to go until all ballots are counted, the RealClearPolitics polling average finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by just 2 percentage points nationally. While the Democratic nominee still holds an Electoral College advantage, some polls have narrowed in North Carolina, Florida, and other key battleground states.
Buzzfeed News, Here’s An Open Letter To Comey From The Teen Who Allegedly Got Sexts From Weiner, David Mack, Nov. 2, 2016. “I thought your job as FBI Director was to protect me.” On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News published an interview with the teenage girl who allegedly got indecent messages from Anthony Weiner. Her story has received renewed attention since FBI Director James Comey announced on Friday that an investigation was continuing into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, following the discovery of new emails.
As the New York Times first reported, the emails were discovered on the private computer of Weiner, 52, and his wife, Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide, by investigators probing messages the disgraced former congressman allegedly sent to the underage 15-year-old girl, now 16.
The teen told BuzzFeed News she was upset with Comey (shown in an FBI photo) for giving no warning her case was set to be thrust into the national spotlight and tainted with electoral politics. The FBI declined to comment on the case. The teen wrote this open letter, printed in full below, to James Comey and provided it to BuzzFeed News.
Excerpts: “It’s time that the FBI Director puts his victims’ rights above political views….To all reporters: AP, FOX, CBS, NBC, and all other media outlets, please respect my position and stop interrupting my life!
Politico, Senate Dem hopes may rest on rising star Kander, Maggie Severns, Nov. 2, 2016. He poses a serious threat to Missouri incumbent Roy Blunt. For all the big names Democratic leaders recruited to help them take back the Senate, the key to victory could be the candidate who recruited himself. Just weeks after Democrats lost the chamber in 2014, a virtually unknown Missouri Democrat named Jason Kander (shown in a file photo) hopped a plane to D.C. to meet Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester and his wife, Sharla, at a high-end Washington haunt.
Roll Call, Angry Grayson Claims Murphy’s Dad Bought Senate Nomination, Christina Flom, Nov. 2, 2016. Says party turned on him after Thomas Murphy Jr. promised $10 million in contributions. Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson alleged Wednesday that the father of his victorious primary opponent in the Florida Senate race promised the Democratic Party $10 million to ensure his son won the nomination. In an angry fundraising email, Grayson alleged a political operative with Rep. Patrick Murphy’s campaign purportedly told one of Grayson’s campaign workers that Murphy’s father, Thomas Murphy Jr., had promised donations from him and friends to the Senate Majority PAC, along with the super PAC backing his son (Floridians for a Strong Middle Class), as long as Murphy won the primary election.
The proof is the money trail, Grayson claimed, pointing to the amount of money the Senate Majority PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had reserved in TV slots during the time between the primary and the general election, and Thomas Murphy Jr.’s promised contributions — $10 million, according to Grayson. Neither Murphy’s campaign nor the Senate Majority PAC responded to requests for comment.
Murphy’s bid to unseat Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the key contests in determining which party will control the next Congress. Most polls show Rubio with a modest lead. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Leans Republican. According to Federal Election Commission reports, the elder Murphy gave $200,000 to Floridians for a Strong Middle Class in December 2015 and $250,000 in September. His company also poured in $300,000 to the super PAC in March. FEC records also show he gave the Senate Majority PAC $1 million in July of this year ahead of the Senate primary.
Dueling Sex Scandal Claims
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Is Accused Of Raping A 13-Year-Old. Why Haven’t The Media Covered It? Ryan Grim, Nov. 2, 2016. There are two big reasons. If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook or Twitter in the past several months, you’re probably aware that there is a case working its way through the courts that accuses Donald Trump of forcibly raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994.
On Wednesday, the woman, who remains anonymous, will appear at a press conference with her new attorney, Lisa Bloom, the daughter of Gloria Allred. Bloom wrote a column about the case in The Huffington Post last summer. For months, people have wondered why this case isn’t getting more ― or, really, any ― attention in the press, even now that Trump faces an actual court date: a Dec. 16 status conference with the judge.
Media outlets who have tried to get in touch with Johnson have had extreme difficulty doing so. The Daily Beast did a deep dive into the case and the people supporting the accuser in July, and came to a devastating conclusion: “Far from derailing the Trump train, Katie Johnson and her supporters seem to be in an out-of-control clown car whose wheels just came off,” wrote Brandy Zadrozny.
The Guardian and Jezebel also looked into the situation and came up with equally unfavorable takes. If you’re still struggling to understand why the story didn’t get more coverage, imagine for a moment that you’re a reporter thinking about spending weeks looking into it. Then go read the Daily Beast article. Still ready to go down that rabbit hole?
But as the reality of the court date increasingly dawns on the press, coupled with Trump’s own admission that he sexually assaults women, the case is getting harder to ignore. Baer said that two media outlets have recently done interviews with Johnson, and stories could pop at any minute.
Update: Trump’s 13-year-old ‘rape victim’ dramatically DROPS her case, as reported by Ryan Parry in the Daily Mail on Nov. 4, 2016.
Huffington Post, Why The New Child Rape Case Filed Against Donald Trump Should Not Be Ignored, Lisa Bloom, March 19, 2017. Lisa Bloom (shown in a file photo) is an attorney, author and longtime legal news commentator, currently working for NBC TV and Avvo. An anonymous “Jane Doe” filed a federal lawsuit against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump last week, accusing him of raping her in 1994 when she was thirteen years old. The mainstream media ignored the filing.
In covering a story, a media outlet is not finding guilt. It is simply reporting the news that a lawsuit has been filed against Mr. Trump, and ideally putting the complaint in context. Unproven allegations are just that – unproven, and should be identified that way. (Mr. Trump’s lawyer says the charges are “categorically untrue, completely fabricated and politically motivated.”) Proof comes later, at trial. But the November election will come well before any trial. And while Mr. Trump is presumed innocent, we are permitted — no, we are obligated — to analyze the case’s viability now.’
No outsider can say whether Mr. Tump is innocent or guilty of these new rape charges. But we can look at his record, analyze the court filings here, and make a determination as to credibility — whether the allegations are believable enough for us to take them seriously and investigate them, keeping in mind his denial and reporting new facts as they develop.
I have done that. And the answer is a clear “yes.” These allegations are credible. They ought not be ignored. Mainstream media, I’m looking at you.
Washington Post, Latest from the Trump conspiracy factory: Bill Clinton’s black son, Dana Milbank, Nov. 2, 2016 (printed edition). Don’t be surprised if the candidate starts spreading this old story. Filmmaker Joel Gilbert, the conspiracy theorist who believes President Obama has a secret Muslim prayer inscribed on his wedding ring, made a splash in 2012 when he said Obama had plastic surgery to conceal that his real father was labor activist Frank Marshall Davis, who raised his son to lead a communist revolution. In fact, Williams’s DNA was tested, 17 years ago, when his mother sold it and her story to a tabloid, which compared the boy’s genetic material to Clinton’s DNA markers and concluded Clinton wasn’t his father.
That essentially ended the intrigue — until late last year, when longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone declared: “I will get justice for Danney Williams — stay tuned.” The Trump confidant had decided the original DNA work was wrong, and he teamed up to make that case with conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones, an avid Trump backer who lent his InfoWars news outlet to the cause.
Gilbert, who was hired by Stone’s pro-Trump super PAC to design a “Super Trump” billboard for Times Square in September, made a film about Williams. The pro-Trump outlet Breitbart News, whose former chief Stephen Bannon now runs Trump’s campaign, and the Drudge Report began to trumpet the long-debunked love-child story. Gilbert is a fixture on InfoWars, which live-streamed Tuesday’s event.
Four years later, and just in time for Election Day, Gilbert is back with a new film alleging that Bill Clinton has a 30-year-old son he sired with a black prostitute. And on Tuesday, Gilbert hauled the young man to Washington and gave him a speech to read to the TV cameras at the National Press Club.
AOL, Hillary fires back at heckler who shouted ‘Bill Clinton is a Rapist’ at rally: ‘I’m sick and tired,’ Inside edition staff, Nov. 2, 2016 (video). Hillary Clinton shot back at a heckler in the crowd during a Florida rally who shouted that her husband, Bill, was a rapist Tuesday night. “I am sick and tired of the negative, dark, divisive, dangerous vision and the anger of people who support Donald Trump,” Clinton said as she pointed a finger at the protester.
The heckler began shouting: “Bill Clinton is a rapist” at the top of the Democratic presidential candidate’s 20-minute speech. The heckler also held a sign with the phrase written on it. “We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward into a brighter future,” Clinton said as the crowd began to chant “Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” Clinton’s security detail quickly removed the heckler from the audience.
Washington Post, Gannett’s dropped Tronc bid again highlights struggles for the newspaper industry, Drew Harwell, Nov. 2, 2016. An abrupt publishing turn casts further doubt on the struggling print-news industry in the United States. The biggest newspaper publisher in the United States has dropped its bid to buy the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, marking an abrupt end to a chaotic corporate pursuit and casting further doubt on the country’s struggling print-news industry.
Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and dozens of other media outlets, said Tuesday it had after six months “determined not to pursue an acquisition” of Tronc, the publishing giant that changed its name in June from Tribune Publishing. Lenders that had agreed to back the takeover balked in recent days after new data emerged showing deep losses in the print-advertising revenue of Gannett, which has sought to weather the industry’s advertising and subscription downturns by buying up papers in America’s major markets.
Around the Nation
Boston Globe, GOP ‘jokes’ speak of bullets, not ballots, Renée Graham, Nov. 1, 2016. Hey, did you hear the one about Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican senator who “joked” last weekend that “nothing made me feel better” than seeing a picture of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the cover of a firearms magazine? “I was a little bit shocked at that — it didn’t have a bullseye on it,” Burr said, getting a big laugh from a roomful of GOP volunteers. The lawmaker is shown in his official photo.
Just a few months earlier, Donald Trump, who has presided over a number of violent incidents at his raucous campaign rallies, quipped that if Clinton is elected and “gets to pick her judges — nothing you can do, folks. Although the 2nd Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
For what it’s worth — and during this campaign, so many apologies cover the ground like dead leaves — Burr eventually called his comment “inappropriate.”
Of course Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, carped that he’d been misinterpreted. After all, why would anyone believe that a man who said of a protestor, “I’d like to punch him in the face,” and longed for the “old days” when such a person would’ve been “carried out on a stretcher,” would advocate violence?
Among other sickening things, 2016 is the year when assassination became a fetid political punch line.
In 1963, hate mongers prepared for President Kennedy’s assassination by distributing the handbill above in Dallas on the day he was killed. The Dallas Morning News ran a similar “welcome” (below) that day.
Los Angeles Times, Review Shakespeare meets Oliver Stone in ‘The Tragedy of JFK,’ Philip Brandes, Nov. 1, 2016. Friends, readers, theatergoers, lend me your eyes; I come to praise “The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare)” at the Skylight Theatre, not to bury it.
Daniel Henning’s adaptation of “Julius Caesar” is an audacious new production from the Blank Theatre Company, one that inventively maps Shakespeare’s historical drama to figures and events surrounding the 1963 Kennedy assassination.
Marrying director Henning’s deep knowledge of both classical theater and JFK conspiracy theories, the play transposes Shakespeare’s plot to the political intrigues of an Oliver Stone-worthy cabal at the highest levels of our government.
Politico, Judge orders RNC to detail voter fraud pacts with Trump campaign, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 1, 2016. A federal judge is ordering the Republican National Committee to detail any agreements it has with Donald Trump’s campaign to engage in “ballot security” efforts in connection with next week’s election — something the national GOP has been banned for doing for decades without court approval. The order also instructs the RNC to explain by 5 p.m. Tuesday what Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence were talking about in recent comments when they said that Trump’s campaign was working closely with the RNC to make sure there is no fraud at the polls.
Newark, N.J.-based U.S. District Court John Vazquez issued the order Monday after the Democratic National Committee went to court last week to allege that the RNC was violating consent decrees from the 1980s settling a case alleging that GOP pollwatchers sought to intimidate minority voters in a practice then known as “caging.” The agreements allow the RNC to organize pollwatchers, but prohibit any effort to intimidate voters as they enter a polling place or to challenge individual voters, except as part of a program approved in advance by the court.
WALB via WFSA News (Coffee Co., Georgia), Suspected terrorists believe research facility controls minds, traps souls, Staff report, Nov. 1, 2016. Two south Georgia men are accused of plotting domestic terrorism based on bizarre conspiracy theories. Coffee County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Michael Mancil, 30, and James Dryden Jr., 22. Officials said the suspects planned to penetrate a research facility in Alaska.
Investigators said the massive amount of arsenal seized looked like something out of a movie, one where a small army was headed to war. But Coffee County investigators said the two Douglas men collected dozens of weapons as part of a plan to attack the High Frequency Active Aural Research Facility or HAARP. The former U.S. Air Force lab is now owned by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“We were really, really concerned about all the arsenal that they were piling up,” said Coffee County Sheriff Doyle Wooten. Four AR-15 rifles, four Glock hand guns, a Remington rifle and two to three thousand rounds of ammunition were found on the 200 block of Jim Road in Coffee County. Wooten said Mancil plotted with Dryden to destroy HAARP.
Washington Post, After another release of documents, FBI finds itself caught in a partisan fray, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Sari Horwitz, Nov. 1, 2016. The publication of files relating to a pardon Bill Clinton issued — along with last week’s announcement that it had resumed an inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails — moved the FBI to the place it usually strives to avoid: Smack in the middle of partisan fighting over a national election, just days before the vote.
RT, ‘Comey will have personal impact on results of election’ – criminal defense attorney, Anya Parampil, Nov. 1, 2016. FBI director James Comey has been criticized from both sides of the political spectrum for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. To discuss the revelation that new Clinton emails will be investigated by the FBI, criminal defense attorney Stanley Cohen joins RT America’s Anya Parampil and says Comey’s decision will have a “personal impact on results of the election” and that he “violated Department of Justice standards.”
New York Times, Assad in Person: Confident, No Regrets and Expecting to Stay in Power, Anne Barnard, Nov. 1, 2016. The guns were silent atop Mount Qasioun and the lights on its slopes twinkled over Damascus as President Bashar al-Assad of Syria (shown above in a file photo) welcomed a group of Western visitors into his French-Ottoman palace on Monday night, presenting himself as a man firmly in control of his country.
He radiated confidence and friendliness as he ushered a group of British and American journalists and policy analysts into an elegant wood-paneled sitting room where he claimed that the social fabric of Syria was stitched together “much better than before” a chaotic civil war began more than five years ago. It was as if half his citizens had not been driven from their homes and nearly half a million had not been killed in the bloody fighting for which he rejected any personal responsibility, blaming instead the United States and Islamist militants.
“I’m just a headline — the bad president, the bad guy, who is killing the good guys,” Mr. Assad said. “You know this narrative. The real reason is toppling the government. This government doesn’t fit the criteria of the United States.”
It was a surreal meeting for me after years of writing about a devastating and intractable war that has reduced several of Syria’s grand city centers to rubble and prompted accusations of war crimes. While hundreds of thousands of Syrians are besieged and hungry, here was Mr. Assad, secure in his palace because he has outsourced much of the war to Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces whose influence has grown to a degree that makes some of his own supporters uncomfortable.
He promised that a new era of openness and dialogue was underway in Syria and said that he was thinking ahead about how to modernize Syrians’ mentality after a war that he believed his forces were assured of winning. Mr. Assad ruled out political changes until then and declared that he planned to remain president at least until his third seven-year term ends in 2021.
Even as Mr. Assad and his inner circle tried out this new line of openness about the situation in Syria, they were hardening their stance against compromising with domestic or international opponents. They contended that the United States was actively backing the Islamic State and other extremist militants, and called allegations of war crimes against Syrian officials politically motivated, fabricated or both.
The Indicter, Pro-Clinton media calls UK to suspend diplomatic immunity of Ecuador Embassy over WikiLeaks publication of Hillary’s emails, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Nov. 1, 2016. Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli is editor and board chairman of The Indicter (on whose board Justice Integrity Project’s editor serves) and is chair of Swedish Professors and Doctors for Human Rights.
A Newsweek op-ed article authored by Paul Webster Hare, “Assange And Wikileaks Make a Mockery of the Diplomacy They Enjoy” – also published in other media, e.g. UPI Top News, asks the UK authorities to consider the suspension of the diplomatic inviolability of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to stop the WikiLeaks publication of Hillary Clinton emails.
The Newsweek author’s proposal to the UK authorities constitutes a wrong interpretation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The article is libelous towards Mr. Assange, and, in the opinion of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, it represents an action against both the human and political rights of Mr Assange. Finally, the article’s main proposal, calling on the UK to suspend diplomatic immunity to Ecuador over WikiLeaks’ publications, is against the very notion of what it means to be a principled principled publisher or journalist.
Alternet, Kris Kobach, Architect Of Draconian Anti-Immigrant Policies, Joining Trump’s Transition Team, Miranda Blue, Nov. 12, 2016. Kobach (shown in an official photo) is the force behind anti-immigrant laws throughout the country. Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas and a leading architect of draconian anti-immigrant and voter suppression laws around the nation, will reportedly be serving on Donald Trump’s presidential transition team as an immigration adviser. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Trump “has vowed to cancel President Obama’s promise to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and start deporting as many as two million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.”
According to the Journal, the transition team “includes a unit dedicated to figuring out how to build Mr. Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.” Back in April, Kobach took credit for Trump’s plan to blackmail Mexico into paying for a border wall by impounding remittances that immigrants send home to their families. A few months later, he was responsible for getting the wall into the Republican Party platform. Earlier this year, Kobach complained that Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasn’t just rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants who show up to protests or to testify before legislatures.
Kobach is the force behind anti-immigrant laws throughout the country, including infamously draconian measures in Arizona and Alabama (former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed that state’s law, is reportedly being considered for a Trump cabinet post).