Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative November 2017 news and views
GOPers Ramming Through Tax Cut For Trump, Big Donors
New York Times, The Senate Is Rushing to Pass Its Tax Bill Because It Stinks, Editorial Board, Nov. 30, 2017. As more senators show signs of sacrificing their principles and embracing the Republican tax bill for minor and nebulous concessions, it bears looking more closely at the process that produced this terrible legislation and some of its lesser-known provisions.
The Senate tax bill, a 515-page mammoth, was introduced just last week, and the chamber could vote on it as soon as Thursday. This is not how lawmakers are supposed to pass enormous pieces of legislation. It took several years to put together the last serious tax bill, passed in 1986.
Congress and the Reagan administration worked across party lines, produced numerous drafts, held many hearings and struck countless compromises. This time it’s not about true reform but about speed and bowling over the opposition in hopes of claiming a partisan victory.
The country ought to be dismayed by the way senators like Bob Corker (left), Susan Collins and Ron Johnson appear to be backing away from their principled objections based on half-measures promised by President Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that will not address its big flaws.
This rush to the Senate floor has been orchestrated by Mr. McConnell, following the same playbook he used in the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The longer people have to study the details, the less likely the bill is to pass. People should know by now about the big stuff: the giant permanent corporate tax-rate cut, the small and temporary tax cuts for the middle class, the repeal of the A.C.A.’s individual mandate and the $1.4 trillion added to the federal deficit over 10 years. But other provisions are not as well understood and deserve to be called out. Here are three.
Washington Post, Analysis: Trump, Senate Republicans blowing through yellow lights on way to tax overhaul, Tory Newmyer, Nov. 30, 2017. The clip at which the tax bill is moving reflects a decision by GOP leaders to embrace speed as a means of eschewing closer scrutiny from stakeholders, nonpartisan scorekeepers and wavering members of their own party.
Washington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump says the tax bill will ‘cost me a fortune.’ That’s false, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 30, 2017. The president would save tens of millions of dollars under the GOP plans, based on an analysis of the House and Senate bills.
The Hill, McCain a yes on tax reform, boosting Republicans, Jordain Carney, Nov. 30, 2017. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., shown at right) said on Thursday that he will support the Senate Republicans’ tax plan, which GOP leadership wants to pass this week. “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill. I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families,” McCain said in a statement.
McCain added that the Senate legislation would “directly benefit all Americans, allowing them to keep a higher percentage of what they earn.” McCain’s decision is the latest boost to Republicans, after every GOP senator voted to start debate on the legislation Wednesday evening.
It’s also a reversal from the ObamaCare repeal effort in July, when McCain joined with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) to kill the “skinny repeal” legislation. Murkowski announced on Wednesday that she would back the tax-reform bill. McCain, at the time, blasted his colleagues for sidestepping the “regular order” and urged them to work together to craft a bipartisan deal on health care.
RollCall, Collins: Republican Leaders Expected to Back ‘Pay-go’ Waiver, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 30, 2017. Maine Republican (shown at right) also raised SALT concerns. Sen. Susan Collins said Republican leaders have assured her that automatic cuts to entitlement programs that would be triggered if the GOP tax overhaul becomes law would be stopped.
The reductions, which could amount to $25 billion in cuts to Medicare, would occur under the 2010 statutory pay-as-you-go law unless Congress approves a waiver. “I would not even be considering voting for this bill,” the Maine Republican said of the tax plan, if there wasn’t a path to stop the automatic cuts.
Collins said she wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with her concerns and the Kentucky Republican responded that the pay-go waiver would be included in some other vehicle before the end of the year, perhaps the continuing resolution, which needs to move next week before the current stopgap’s Dec. 8 expiration.
Report: Trump To Fire Secretary of State, Name New CIA Head
New York Times, White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo, Peter Baker, and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 30, 2017. The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson (shown at right), whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, perhaps within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
Mr. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced.
It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump has given final approval to the plan, but he has been said to have soured on Mr. Tillerson and in general is ready to make a change at the State Department. Mr. Tillerson was at the White House on Thursday morning, although he was not listed on the White House public schedule.
Asked by reporters if he wanted Mr. Tillerson to stay on the job on Thursday, Mr. Trump (shown at right) said only, “He’s here. Rex is here.”
Mr. Tillerson’s departure has been widely anticipated for months, but associates have said he was intent on finishing out the year to retain whatever dignity he could. Even so, an end-of-year exit would make his time in office the shortest of any secretary of state whose tenure was not ended by a change in presidents in nearly 120 years.
Future of Freedom Foundation, The Pentagon, CIA, and NSA Are in Charge, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at right), Nov. 30, 2017. One of the most mystifying aspects of the Donald Trump presidency has been his caving in to the U.S. national-security establishment. Among the biggest expectations that people had for Trump was that he would be the first president since John F. Kennedy to stand up to the military, the CIA, and the NSA. There were even some hopes that he would significantly diminish U.S. interventionism abroad, including withdrawing all U.S. troops from the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Trump’s early hostile relations with the CIA was so bad that New York Congressman Charles Schumer was even motivated to warn, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” Trump’s adverse relationship with the CIA caused former senior CIA official Paul Pillar to exclaim, “The relationship is the worst of any incoming administration ever.”
Not anymore. Surrounding himself with generals and giving the national-security establishment carte blanche to do anything it wants to protect “national security,” Trump, for all practical purposes, has been absorbed by the national-security establishment, even permitting the CIA to continue keeping its long-secret, 50-year-old JFK-assassination records secret from the American people.
It is safe to say that for the balance of Trump’s term in office, his actions in foreign affairs will be no different than anything that Hillary Clinton, who undoubtedly would have been a loyal servant of the national-security establishment, would have done with respect to foreign affairs.
What gives? Why the dramatic shift in Trump? Why didn’t he stick to his guns, like Kennedy did?
The reason is found in the excellent book National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon. This is a book I highly recommend reading, as it provides the best explanation for the consequences the followed the federal government’s conversion to a national-security state. Glennon has credentials. He is a professor in the law school at Tufts University. From 1977-1980, he was counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The thesis of Glennon’s book: America has double government — one that maintains the façade of being in control and the other being the part of the government that is actually in control, just like in Egypt and other societies that are based on a national-security state type of governmental structure.
Britain Reacts To Trump Insults
Washington Post, Britain furious, Trump unapologetic as fallout swells from anti-Muslim videos, Karla Adam and William Booth, Nov. 30, 2017. Prime Minister Theresa May (shown in a file photo) blasted President Trump for crossing a line by sharing inflammatory videos from the fringe anti-Muslim group Britain First on his Twitter page — and then warning May to essentially mind her own business and focus on Islamist terrorism instead of him.
- Washington Post, Trump’s visit to Britain probably won’t be canceled. At least, not officially.
- Washington Post, Trump blasted Theresa May on Twitter. Unfortunately, he got the wrong woman.
Sex Scandal Fallouts
Roll Call, Barton Not Running for Re-Election, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 30, 2017. Decision comes after nude photo and racy text messages surface. Texas GOP Rep. Joe L. Barton is not running for re-election after a nude photo and suggestive text messages surfaced. Barton, the dean of the Texas delegation, announced Thursday he would not seek an 18th term. He had previously decided to run again before the photo and messages became public.
Washington Post, Pelosi, other top Democrats call on Conyers to resign over sexual harassment allegations, Elise Viebeck and David Weigel, Nov. 30, 2017. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress, is accused of mistreating female aides over two decades. He has been hospitalized for a stress-related illness, a family spokesman said.
Politico, Black lawmakers wonder why Conyers has to go — but not Franken, Heather Caygle, Nov. 30, 2017. Calls for the Congressional Black Caucus co-founder to resign have been more prevalent than those for the former comedian to step down.
Black lawmakers are hearing growing calls for Rep. John Conyers to resign and wondering why Sen. Al Franken isn’t getting the same treatment. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been privately airing concerns about a double standard within Democrats’ ranks since sexual harassment allegations against Conyers, the longest-serving House member and a founder of the CBC, first surfaced last week. Their concerns were thrust into the open Thursday when Conyers’ lawyer hinted that Conyers was being treated differently than Franken because of race.
“Nancy Pelosi is going to have to explain what is the discernible difference between Al Franken and John Conyers,” Arnold Reed, Conyers’ attorney, told reporters after the House Minority Leader said Conyers should resign.
Politico, Gutiérrez eyes 2020 presidential run, Natasha Korecki, Nov. 29, 2017. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection to Congress, is instead pursuing another move: testing the presidential waters. Gutiérrez joins a growing field of Democrats — including more than a half-dozen House members — who are looking at a 2020 run.
Gutierrez, a fervent immigrant rights proponent, lamented the lack of outreach to immigrant communities in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the 2016 presidential race. “We didn’t do enough in 2016,” he said. “I think I can bring a new set of eyes to the situation.”
Washington Post, Lauer apologizes after misconduct allegations: ‘To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry,’ Stephanie Merry, Nov. 30, 2017. In a statement, the fired “Today” show host said “some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashame
Washington Post Reporter Stephanie McCrummen, left, interviews Jaime Phillips at a Greek restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia on November 22. (Washington Post photo)
Washington Post, Project Veritas operative’s effort to infiltrate The Post dated back months, extended to other news outlets, Beth Reinhard, Aaron C. Davis and Andrew Ba Tran, Nov. 30, 2017 (print edition). Jaime Phillips’s sustained attempt to insinuate herself into reporters’ social circles in Washington and New York makes clear that the efforts to discredit The Post went much further than one false claim to reporters about U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Crime and Courts Around the Nation
Washington Post, Judge thrown off bench for witness tampering in wife’s federal corruption trial, Tom Jackman, Nov. 30, 2017. A juvenile and domestic relations judge in southwest Virginia was removed from the bench Monday by the Virginia Supreme Court, effective immediately, after he admitted contacting two key witnesses in a pending federal corruption case against his wife.
Kurt J. Pomrenke, 64, was elected to the bench in 2013 to oversee juvenile and domestic court cases in Washington and Smyth counties and Bristol City along the Virginia-Tennessee border. He is only the second Virginia judge in the past 23 years to be removed by the state Supreme Court, court records show, with the other being a juvenile and domestic judge who resolved some visitation issues with a coin flip.
Pomrenke also has been found guilty of contempt of court by a federal judge in Bristol in connection with his wife’s case and is scheduled to be sentenced in that matter Thursday. His wife, Stacey Pomrenke, a former chief financial officer of Bristol Virginia Utilities, is serving a 34-month prison sentence on multiple charges of conspiracy, extortion and wire fraud, as well as contempt of court, in part for her husband’s contact with potential witnesses in the case.
Palmer Report, Roger Stone apologizes, admits he’s been lying about Trump-Russia the entire time, Bill Palmer, Nov. 30, 2017. Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser and longtime friend Roger Stone (shown at right) has long portrayed himself as a bully in the public square.
Rather than face contempt of Congress or worse, Roger Stone has coughed up the name of the WikiLeaks go-between he was using during the election: his friend Randy Credico. In so doing he’s sold out Credico, who has just been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee as a result (link). As it turns out, that’s just the beginning of the story, because now Stone is admitting he’s been lying the entire time, and he’s apologizing for it.
Ryan Lizza, who writes for the New Yorker and appears on CNN, tweeted this after the news broke: “I asked Roger Stone in March if Randy Credico was his Wikileaks contact and he lied to me and said no. He just texted me, ‘A misguided effort to protect Credico who I felt had helped me on an off the record basis. Sorry.’” So now, not only is Stone giving up his friend to try to save himself, he’s also confessing to his lies and apologizing to the media. Has he turned over a new leaf? Probably not. He may be more worried about obstruction of justice charges.
Global News: Courtroom Poisoning
SouthFront, “I’m not a war criminal”: Bosnian Croat General Drinks Poison During Appeal Hearing At The Hague, Staff report, Nov. 29, 2017. Slobodan Praljak (shown above drinking poison in court) has died after he drank liquid from a flask while listening to his sentencing in a UN court. Praljak, was one former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders during the Croat–Bosniak War, appeared to drink POISON during an appeal hearing at The Hague. He served as general in the Croatian Army and the Croatian Defence Council, an army of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia.
Praljak was appealing his sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment in 2013 for alleged war crimes in East Mostar when the incident took place. On hearing that his sentence had been upheld Praljak told the judge: “I have taken poison”. After drinking the poison, he told the court: “I am not a war criminal, I oppose this conviction.”
SouthFront, US Withdraws 400 Marines From Syria, Staff report, Nov. 30, 2017. On November 30, the US-led coalition announced in an official statement that the 1st Battalion of the US Marine 10th Regiment has been ordered to withdraw from Syria. The 1st battalion includes 400 US marines armed with M777 howitzers. The US Department of Defense (DOD) revealed in a report last week that there are 1,720 US troops in Syria. US Army officials had claimed before that there were only 500 US troops in Syria.Nov. 29
Inside Washington: Taxes
Washington Post, Senate rushes tax bill forward, but Republicans split over key details, Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 29, 2017. A massive GOP tax bill cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate Wednesday, as lawmakers voted 52-48 to move the legislation forward toward a showdown vote on final passage by week’s end.
The party-line vote was an important victory for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump, signaling support and momentum for the legislation that overhauls the loophole-ridden tax code for the first time in three decades while delivering enormous cuts to corporations and the wealthy.
But it was not a guarantee of ultimate success, as several Republican lawmakers agreed to open debate on the bill so they could pursue amendments, and have not yet committed to voting “yes” on final passage.
Daily Kos, The Republican tax bill will end cancer treatment for Medicare patients, Joan McCarter, Nov. 29, 2017. If the Republican tax cuts bill becomes law, it will immediately trigger a $25 billion cut in Medicare. That’s because of mandatory spending cuts that will kick in as a result the tax bill’s $1.5 trillion increase to the deficit.
The last time this happened, that Medicare cuts were forced, wasn’t that long ago. It was 2013. And as Sarah Kliff reminds us, what happened then was that cancer patients were turned away from clinics, because the clinics couldn’t afford the expensive chemotherapy drugs they were administering without Medicare offsetting the costs.
In 2013, it was temporary, part of the government shutdown. This time around it would be a permanent cut. In light of that, Kliff followed up with an oncologist who sees that threat again as a result of this bill.
New York Times, What Started as a Tax Cut Now May Alter American Life, Peter S. Goodman and Patricia Cohen, Nov. 29, 2017. Health care, education and social services all could be reshaped by provisions in the overhaul championed by President Trump and Republican leaders.
The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.
Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.
Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.
With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.
More Sex Scandal Firings
Washington Post, ‘Today’ show host Matt Lauer fired over ‘inappropriate sexual behavior,’ Paul Farhi, Nov. 29, 2017. NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said the network received a detailed complaint Monday about Lauer’s behavior and was “also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” Lauer, who joined “Today” in 1994, becomes the latest high-profile man to be embroiled in workplace harassment allegations.
Washington Post, Garrison Keillor, founder of ‘A Prairie Home Companion,’ fired after allegations of improper behavior, Abby Ohlheiser, Dan Zak and Marc Fisher, Nov. 29, 2017. In an email to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Keillor said he had been fired because he put his hand “on a woman’s bare back,” but denied any wrongdoing. MPR did not immediately confirm whether this allegation was the reason for his firing.
Global News: Brits Complain About Trump Tweets
Washington Post, Trump ‘wrong’ to share anti-Muslim videos, British prime minister’s office says, Ashley Parker and John Wagner, Nov. 29, 2017. President Trump drew widespread criticism after he retweeted inflammatory videos posted by an organization that has been widely condemned as an extremist group. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s post as evidence he wants to “promote strong borders and strong national security.”
Global News: Syria
The Pentagon and Potomac River (Defense Department Photo)
SouthFront, Russia To Oppose US Attempts To Stay In Syria After Collapse Of ISIS, SouthFront, Nov. 29, 2017. Russia is against the US staying in Syria after the collapse of ISIS. According to the chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Bondarev, this would lead the US to supremacy in the country’s airspace.
According to The Washington Post, the US plans on staying in Syria after the collapse of ISIS and establish a new local governance, apart from the al-Assad government, in northern Syria.
“It’s clear that after us pulling out the Americans get total control over the airspace — without taking off once, without a single combat — not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey (as it is a NATO country). Add to that Saudi Arabia and so on until the coast of the Arabian peninsula,” Bondarev said.
According to him, Russia is against this, considering that the US have not declared the numbers of their forces in Syria, and may increase their military presence in the region at any time.
SouthFront, China May Deploy Special forces To Counter Turkistan Islamic Party In Syria – Reports, Staff reports, Nov. 29, 2017. Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, discussed the possibility of deploying Chinese Special Forces to Syria with Chinese Army officials during her latest visit to China, the Russian news agency Sputnik reported on November 28.
According to Sputnik’s report, the Chinese Army is planning to deploy the Shenyang Military Region Special Forces Unit “Siberian Tiger” and the Lanzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit “Night Tiger” to Syria in order to counter the threat of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which had recruited thousands of Chinese Uyghurs and sent them to Syria during the last few years.
Lately, the TIP became one of the strongest forces in the Syrian governorate of Idlib. The Asian radical Islamist groups are now supporting a military operation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the northern Hama countryside, according to Syrian opposition sources. This might have encouraged China to consider a military action against the TIP in Syria before its fighters gain an opportunity to return to eastern Asia.
The Chinese Air Force is known to be one of the biggest operators of UCAVs in the world. Moreover, the Russian Special Force had conducted similar limited military operations against radical Chechen fighters in northern Lattakia months before an official start of the Russian military operation in Syria.
The military operation in Syria will not only allow China to counter the TIP threat far away from its territory, but it will also allow the economical giant to secure a place in the Syrian reconstruction process.
ABC News, Political humorist identified as Roger Stone’s link to WikiLeaks: Sources, Matthew Mosk, Brian Ross and Ali Dukakis. Nov. 29, 2017. Former Trump adviser and longtime political troublemaker Roger Stone (shown at right) has been asked repeatedly how he knew, seemingly in advance, that WikiLeaks was going to publish damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And he has repeatedly refused to answer, saying he had a “go-between” who did not wish to be named.
On Tuesday, however, Randy Credico, a New York comedian and political activist who hosts his own radio show, tweeted a picture of a congressional subpoena compelling him to appear on Dec. 15 before the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
According to sources familiar with the investigation, Credico has been identified as the intermediary between Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and will face questions from investigators about those relationships.
JFK Murder Document Release
Madcow News, Jada & ‘the boys,’ Daniel Hopsicker (shown at right), Nov. 29, 2017. Two hours before John Kennedy was murdered at 12:30 p.m. Central Time on Friday November 22 1963, something happened in Dallas which renders the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone nut gunman as silly as arguments that the Earth is flat and astronauts never landed on the moon.
At 10:30 that morning Jada Conforto (shown at left), the burlesque queen headlining Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club, was hurtling across Dallas in her bronze Cadillac convertible, in such a panic to leave town that she struck a pedestrian at an intersection less than a mile from Love Field, where JFK’s plane had earlier touched down.
The injured pedestrian later testified that Jada said she’d been in a hurry to leave. Jack Ruby’s top stripper caused an accident while desperately trying to get out of town. It never even made the papers. More on this in a moment.
Because this is just the first of two significant incidents involving Jada. Emphasizing how close she was to the plot to kill JFK, she was involved in a second incident whose import changes the story of the Kennedy assassination.
New North Korean Missible Launch
CNBC, North Korea fires ballistic missile, says South Korean military, Tucker Higgins, Nov. 28, 2017. North Korea fires a ballistic missile, according to a South Korean news agency. South Korea and the United States are analyzing the details of the launch. Bloomberg reported that the missile crashed into the sea.
Trump Tax Bill Update
Washington Post, Senate Republican tax plan clears hurdle with help from two key GOP holdouts, Mike DeBonis, Erica Werner and Damian Paletta, Nov. 28, 2017. GOP lawmakers sent their tax bill to the Senate floor with the backing of all 12 Republicans on the budget committee, including Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.), whose support was previously seen as uncertain.
New York Times, Senators Race to Pass Tax Bill by Sweetening Gains for Rich, Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan, Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). As lawmakers scrambled to shore up votes from wavering colleagues, the deal-making centered on changes that would widen the bill’s divide between the rich and the middle class. Republicans, who are pressing for a Senate vote this week, can afford to lose only two of their members if they hope to pass the bill on party lines.
New York Times, Which Republican Senators Might Oppose the Tax Bill, and Why, Thomas Kaplan and Jasmine C. Lee, Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). The Senate could vote on its tax overhaul as soon as this week. But first, Senate leaders need to win over a small number of Republican senators, and they cannot afford to lose more than two of those lawmakers for the bill to pass, assuming Democrats are unified in opposition. Below are Republican senators who oppose or have expressed concerns about the current bill.
New York Times, Opinion: The Biggest Tax Scam in History, Paul Krugman (shown at right), Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). Donald Trump likes to declare that every good thing that happens while he’s in office — job growth, rising stock prices, whatever — is the biggest, greatest, best ever. Then the fact-checkers weigh in and quickly determine that the claim is false.
But what’s happening in the Senate right now really does deserve Trumpian superlatives. The bill Republican leaders are trying to ram through this week without hearings, without time for even a basic analysis of its likely economic impact, is the biggest tax scam in history. It’s such a big scam that it’s not even clear who’s being scammed — middle-class taxpayers, people who care about budget deficits, or both.
One thing is clear, however: One way or another, the bill would hurt most Americans. The only big winners would be the wealthy — especially those who mainly collect income from their assets rather than working for a living — plus tax lawyers and accountants who would have a field day exploiting the many loopholes the legislation creates.
Sex Scandal Follow-ups
New York Times, Opinion: What Congressmen Are Hiding, Editorial Board, Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). A system for settling sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers puts the burden on victims and taxpayers.
Washington Post, James O’Keefe tweeted about his ‘confrontation’ with a Post reporter. Here’s what really happened, Marwa Eltagouri, Nov. 28, 2017. The Washington Post on Monday published a report about a woman who falsely claimed Roy Moore (shown at right) sexually assaulted her as a teenager — and who appeared to work with Project Veritas, an organization that uses deceptive tactics and secretly recorded conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets.
Shortly after the investigation was published, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe tweeted a video of what he called his “confrontation” with one of the authors of The Post investigation, Aaron C. Davis. The video was heavily edited, a tactic for which Project Veritas has drawn criticism.
The Post filmed the entire encounter. Davis and another Post reporter, along with two video reporters, went to the Project Veritas offices in Mamaroneck, N.Y., on Monday morning to try to determine whether the woman, Jaime T. Phillips, worked there. They watched as she walked into the office. O’Keefe, who appeared minutes later, declined to answer questions. He invited Davis back for an interview shortly after noon.
Washington Post, Rep. John Conyers accused of sexual harassment by another former staffer, Kyle Swenson, Nov. 28, 2017. A former staffer for Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan has accused the Detroit Democrat of unwanted sexual advances.
Deanna Maher said the congressman harassed and touched her on three occasions while she ran the congressman’s Michigan office between 1997 and 2005, the Detroit News reported. Maher identified herself to the paper as a former deputy chief of staff in the congressman’s office, although records indicate Maher worked as a staff assistant.
“I didn’t report the harassment because it was clear nobody wanted to take it seriously,” Maher told the paper. “John Conyers Jr. is a powerful man in Washington, and nobody wanted to cross him.” Maher is the second former staffer to level sexual misconduct claims against Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress.
Media Mergers: Time Inc.
New Yorker, Can Time Inc. Survive the Kochs? Jane Mayer, Nov. 28, 2017. The Kochs’ ownership stake in a mainstream media company may affect not just how the public thinks about politics but how it thinks about the Kochs.
More On Trump Financial Battles
New York Times, Calling Wall Street ‘Devastated’, Trump Pushes Deregulation, Matthew Goldstein and Stacy Cowley, Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). Bank regulators are starting to ease up and lawmakers are considering paring back on restrictions as the president casts Wall Street as a victim.
Trump Threat On Government Shutdown
Roll Call, Trump’s Tweet Could Raise Odds of Government Shutdown, John T. Bennett, Nov. 28, 2017. President aims to lessen Democrats’ leverage in year-end talksPresident Donald Trump raised the odds of a government shutdown next month, tweeting that his differences with Democratic leaders over immigration policy could prevent a deal on a year-end spending package.
The president noted that he will be meeting Tuesday afternoon with “‘Chuck and Nancy’ … about keeping government open and working.” (He was referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. Also attending the White House meeting: House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.)
But Trump signaled any Democratic demands to use a shutdown-averting spending measure to make some of their immigration demands law could be a deal-breaker. His signature would be required to make any fiscal 2018 funding bill law.
“Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes,” Trump wrote, adding: “I don’t see a deal!”
New York Times, After Trump Tweet, Democratic Leaders Cancel Meeting, Staff report, Nov. 28, 2017. The two top Democrats, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, said their party will skip a planned meeting with Mr. Trump and congressional leaders that was scheduled for this afternoon after the president posted on Twitter this morning that he was meeting with “Chuck and Nancy” to discuss ways to avert a government shutdown and wrote “I don’t see a deal!”
“Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. “Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we’ve asked Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to meet this afternoon. We don’t have any time to waste in addressing the issues that confront us, so we’re going to continue to negotiate with Republican leaders who may be interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement.”
New York Times, At Navajo Veterans’ Event, Trump Calls Warren ‘Pocahontas,’ Julie Hirshfeld Davis, Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). Standing in the Oval Office alongside three World War II code talkers, Mr. Trump made the unscripted comment about Senator Elizabeth Warren (right) after other officials praised the veterans’ history and contributions.
New York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Bureaucratic Showdown, Peter H. Schuck, Nov. 28, 2017 (print edition). Peter H. Schuck (this JIP editor’s 1L small group professor at Yale Law School) is an emeritus law professor at Yale and the author, most recently, of “One Nation Undecided: Clear Thinking About Five Hard Issues That Divide Us.” Congress has given the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau an unusual amount of autonomy.
Global Human Rights
New York Times, Pope Avoids Use of ‘Rohingya’ in His Speech in Myanmar, Jason Horowitz, Nov. 28, 2017. Rights advocates had hoped Pope Francis would specifically denounce the military’s campaign of violence against the Muslim ethnic group.
Buzzflash/Truthout, Opinion: Is Steve Bannon Planning to Unleash Erik Prince on Wyoming Senator John Barasso? Bill Berkowitz, Nov. 27, 2017. After he’s finished with the sullied campaign of Alabama’s Roy Moore, will Steve Bannon’s next project be the Senatorial campaign of Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious Blackwater security firm, or as Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce characterized the company, the Blackwater “murder gang?”
In early October, The New York Times reported that Prince, a frequent Breitbart radio guest, is seriously considering and “appears increasingly likely” to stage a primary challenge to Wyoming Republican Senator John Barasso, “a senior member of the Senate Republican leadership.” And Bannon (shown at right), the anti-establishment-candidate-whisperer is pledging his support, and perhaps he’ll be able to bring along financial support from Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah.
As The New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported, Prince, the brother of education secretary Betsy DeVos, “who has never run for public office, has been a polarizing figure for years, as Blackwater faced a welter of ethical and legal problems over its work for the military in places like Iraq, including an episode in 2007 in which its employees killed 17 civilians in Baghdad.”
Global Crises: Environment
Washington Post, A world drowning in garbage, Kadir van Lohuizen, Nov. 27, 2017. The world produces more than 3.5 million tons of garbage a day. As that figure grows, the issue is becoming impossible to ignore. A journalist traveled to six major cities to investigate how they manage — or mismanage — waste.
Washington Post, Africa’s largest city struggles to keep up with its waste problem, Kevin Sieff, Nov. 27, 2017. At the main dump in Lagos, Nigeria, the trash is 10 stories high. It’s an eyesore — and yet some see opportunity.
New York Times, Trump Health Pick Raised Drug Prices as Eli Lilly Manager, Robert Pear, Nov. 27, 2017. Democratic senators say that, Alex M. Azar II, a former manager at Eli Lilly and Company and the nominee for secretary of health and human services, was responsible for steep increases on insulin and other drugs.
Current Implications of JFK Document Suppression, Murder
Future of Freedom Foundation, America’s Bargain with the Devil, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at right), Nov. 27, 2017. As many Americans know, the National Archives ended up releasing only about 5 percent of the CIA’s JFK-assassination-related records, notwithstanding the fact that the JFK Records Act, which is the law, required the release of all of them.
The CIA claims that the release of remaining JFK assassination records would threaten “national security,” but that claim is patently ridiculous, especially when we consider that these records are more than 50 years old. There is another reason for secrecy, the same reason that existed for secrecy back in 1963: the remaining records, especially those relating to Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip to Mexico City, include additional pieces of circumstantial evidence implicating the CIA in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The few records that were recently released include a conspiracy that started out as a theory and ended up as fact: the CIA’s assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, the communist leader of Cuba. There is now no question but that the CIA conspired with the Mafia, the premier private-sector assassination organization in the world, to assassinate Castro.
As it turns out, however, Castro wasn’t the only Cuban the CIA conspired to murder. While Americans have long known about the CIA-Mafia conspiracy to assassinate Castro, the newly released records have revealed something new: Operation Bounty, which offered financial payments for “killing or delivering alive known [Cuban] Communists.”
To get a good sense of how the mainstream media reacts to such things, consider how the Washington Post reported on the discovery of Operation Bounty: “But the truly novel revelation are fairly minor. One such example is Operation BOUNTY, which targeted Cuban communists.” (See: What the JFK assassination files can tell us about the U.S. plot to kill Castro, Michael Poznansky, Oct. 30, 2017.
Minor? How can it possibly be minor when innocent people are being murdered by the U.S. government? Because that is precisely what assassination is: murder. In fact, even Lyndon Johnson, who wasn’t exactly the paragon or moral values, pointedly noted that the CIA was running a “damned Murder, Inc.” in the Caribbean.
Washington Decoded, David Robarge’s Rejoinder, David Robarge, Nov. 27, 2017 (David Robarge is the CIA’s historian. The Washington Decoded site is edited by Max Holland, a longtime defender of the CIA in the context of the President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination. Many researchers allege that the CIA helped organize the murder on behalf of America’s power elite. Robarge responded to author Jefferson Morley’s reply on the web site JFKFacts.org on Nov. 6 to Robarge’s negative review of Morley’s biography The Ghost about the late CIA executive James J. Angleton, shown on the cover of Morley’s book).
Jefferson Morley’s response to my review has as many shortcomings as his book. Besides the many comments I made that he ignores and presumably concedes are correct, he insufficiently addresses some of my criticisms, restates or abridges others in ways that make them easier to deflect, reiterates the points he made in the book without dealing with what I wrote, and refuses to admit some errors. I will address my points and his responses in the order in which he presents them except for a few that I will discuss at the end….
Morley closes his response with a characteristically unfounded leap of logic by suggesting that my “grudging statement” that some of his research adds a small degree of insight to our knowledge of Angleton means that I accept several of his conclusions about Angleton. Not necessarily — especially that Oswald “allegedly killed Kennedy,” which to me needs no qualifier.
Washington Post, Flynn’s role in Middle Eastern nuclear project could compound legal issues, Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 27, 2017. Congressional Democrats say that Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser (shown above), may have violated federal law by failing to disclose a 2015 trip to Egypt and Israel. A top House Republican referred the matter to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Washington Post, Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds, Heather Long, Nov. 26, 2017 (print edition). The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.
Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that the CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.
New York Times, Plan to Let Religious Groups Play Politics, and Stay Tax-Free, Kenneth P. Vogel and Lauria Goodstein, Nov. 27, 2017. Conservative Christian leaders have long worked to repeal a ban on political activity by tax-exempt nonprofit groups like churches. The provision has passed the House, and may find its way into the Senate version of the bill.
U.S. Politics: Alabama Senate Race, U.S. Senate
Washington Post, A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation, Shawn Boburg, Aaron C. Davis and Alice Crites, Nov. 27, 2017. Post reporter confronts woman who made false accusations against Roy Moore
Washington Post, Retired Marine colonel to launch Alabama Senate write-in campaign, Michael Scherer, Nov. 27, 2017. A retired Marine colonel who once served as a top aide to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly plans to launch a long-shot write-in campaign Monday afternoon to become Alabama’s next senator, with just 15 days left in the campaign.
RollCall, Franken Says He Wants to Regain Trust After Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Griffin Connolly, Nov. 27, 2017. ‘I know I let a lot of people down.’
Crime and Courts
Washington Post, Federal grand jurors in Washington ask for raise from the $50 a day they are paid for 18 months of service, Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 27, 2017. The two dozen petitioners — who are sitting on panels other than the special counsel’s Russia probe — called the rate “abysmal” and a hardship.
Global News: Iran, Israel
Unz Review via SouthFront, Trump’s Anti-Iranian Foreign Policy Not Enough for Neocons and Other Israelophiles, Stephen J. Sniegoski, Nov. 27, 2017. Now with the Islamic State’s significant loss of territory, which the U.S. helped to bring about, Israel and its American supporters are expressing deep concern that the void left by its defeat is being filled by Iran, which supposedly threatens to attain regional hegemony.
President Trump, who takes a very negative view of the nuclear deal and describes Iran as a terrorist state, is promoting a tougher line toward Iran. However, Israel and its American myrmidons see Trump’s hard-line position as insufficient.
The basic view of Israel’s supporters is that the U.S. must keep Iran militarily and economically weak, so that it cannot challenge, in any way, Israeli regional dominance. But is maintaining Israel’s current degree of regional dominance—dominance that Israel is not able or willing to maintain by itself in the absence of American forceful actions—beneficial to the United States?
SouthFront, U.S. Military Forces And Operations In Africa – Overview, Benjamin Cote, Nov. 27, 2017. On October 4th, 2017, Nigerien forces and American Green Berets were ambushed by Islamic militants during an intelligence gathering mission along the border with Mali. Fifty fighters from an African affiliate of the Islamic State attacked with small arms, vehicle mounted weapons, rockets propelled grenades, and mortars. Roughly an hour into the firefight, American forces radioed in for assistance. French Mirage jets provided close air support and the militants disengaged. Helicopters arrived to take casualties back for medical assistance.
When the battle ended four Green Berets had been killed in the fighting and two others were wounded. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and most publicized of all the fatalities, Sgt. La David Johnson were killed in action. President Trump engaged in a politicized confrontation with the widow of Johnson and Florida Representative Federica Wilson over his words used in a consoling phone call.
The political battle over President Trump’s comments had the unintended effect of turning the nation’s focus to American activities in Africa. Previously the American public, and much of the political establishment, showed little interest in or knowledge of the missions conducted by the U.S. State and Defense Departments within developing African nations.
Prior to 2008, American military operations in Africa were designated under United States European Command (EUCOM) and CENTCOM. The lack of any colonial possessions in Africa during the 19th and 20th Century coupled with focus on the Soviet Union in Europe during the Cold War, led to few involvements of the United States in Africa.
However, in a world where the United States benefits both in economics and security from a stable Africa, its intentions have shifted to supporting these governments.
Politico, Time Inc. and Koch Brothers: Reports of the Koch brothers role in the deal, or lack thereof, have been met with skepticism from journalists, Michael Calderone and Jason Schwartz, Nov. 27, 2017.
Charles and David Koch have actively promoted conservative and libertarian policies for years by pumping tens of millions of dollars into political campaigns, advocacy organizations, think tanks and University groups.
Yet the billionaire industrialists’ $650 million investment supporting Meredith Corporation’s takeover of Time Inc, the magazine giant behind titles like Time, Fortune, People, and Sports Illustrated, was characterized by a Koch spokesman on Sunday night as a “passive” one. And Meredith said in a release that Koch Equity Development — the Koch brothers’ private equity arm involved in the deal — “will not have a seat” on its board and “will have no influence” on editorial or managerial operations.
“I think, for them, they’re always looking to exert influence in one way or another,” Daniel Schulman, Mother Jones’ deputy Washington bureau chief and Koch biographer, told POLITICO on Monday, “but I don’t think they would have done this deal unless they thought it made good business sense. I’m just curious how the return side is going to work out for them and what their long-term strategy is, and these guys are nothing if not strategic.”
Global News: Lebanon
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (left), Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Harisi (center) and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
The American Conservative (TAC), Did Kushner Keep Tillerson in the Dark on Saudi-Lebanon Move? Mark Perry, Nov. 27, 2017. Efforts by Prince Salman to start a regional crisis backfired, but the drama has left the secretary of state seething. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has accomplished the impossible: he’s actually united Lebanon, though perhaps only briefly.
The tale of how the 32-year-old bin Salman (or MbS, as he’s called), accomplished this is a tad complex, but it’s worth the telling. Earlier this month, on November 2, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the scion of the wealthy Hariri family (and the son of the much-admired Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut in 2005), received a telephone call in Beirut from a senior Saudi official directing him to fly immediately to Riyadh to meet with the Saudi Crown Prince. Hariri could hardly refuse: a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, Hariri’s family fortune (and funding for his Lebanese political party, the Future Movement) depended on Saudi largesse—so off he went.
The next day, Hariri cooled his heels for four hours waiting for MbS to meet with him, before being ushered into His Presence, where he was peremptorily directed to read a television statement announcing his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister and blaming Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, for plotting to destabilize his country and murder him.
This was high drama, but lousy theatre: Hariri’s eyes shifted uncomfortably during his address, as if seeking approval from off-camera handlers that he was performing as expected. Unfortunately for the Saudis, no one in Lebanon was buying it.
Within hours of Hariri’s address, officials of his Sunni-dominated Future Movement speculated that the prime minister was being held against his will, expressed doubts that his resignation was voluntary and pushed for his return.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown above in a file photo with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Saudi officials), who was accompanying the president during his Asia tour at the time of the Saudi-engineered initiative, was “completely blindsided” by the move, as several senior Middle East diplomats confirmed to TAC. The culprit, as had been the case of the Qatar crisis, was Jared Kushner, the president’s 36-year-old son-in-law, whose official role in the White House is described by an avalanche of titles that rivals anything given a Saudi royal:
New York Times, A Bitter Partisan Fight Erupts Over Culling Voter Rolls, Michael Wines, Nov. 26, 2017 (print edition). Some conservative groups say that the effort to prune rolls of people who have died, moved or lost their eligibility to vote is a matter of guarding against fraud, but critics say it amounts to intimidation and voter suppression.
Washington Post, Rep. Conyers steps aside from key committee role amid inquiry of sexual harassment claims, Paul Kane, Nov. 26, 2017. Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, is stepping down as the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. He said he would not resign from the House but would fight the claims. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she takes accusations of harassment seriously: “We are at a watershed moment on this issue.”
Washington Post, Allegations against Roy Moore create awkward choice for suburban women in Alabama, David Weigel, Nov. 26, 2017. Both campaigns are pushing to win over a potentially critical group: white women who typically support the GOP but have become uneasy about Moore (shown at right).
Washington Post, GOP leaders are in advanced talks to adjust tax plan in effort to win over holdouts, Damian Paletta, Nov. 26, 2017. Numerous lawmakers are demanding changes. Their requests put Republican leaders in a difficult position, but last-minute tweaks are on the table.
The lawmakers attracting the most concern from leadership and the White House are Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who say the current version of the bill favors corporations over other businesses.
There are numerous members demanding changes, and their needs don’t all overlap. Together, the requests put Republican leaders in a difficult position, as they attempt to accommodate individual holdouts on a one-off basis without losing other members or creating a situation in which the bill collapses under the weight of disparate demands.Republicans haven’t held any hearings with outside experts to solicit input on the broad impacts of the legislation aside from testimony by Thomas Barthold, chief of staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The bills, as they make their way through Congress, would impact the taxes paid by virtually every American family and business. The Senate bill would also repeal the individual mandate requirement in the Affordable Care Act, potentially having an immediate impact on penalties, insurance premiums, and health insurance decisions for millions of Americans.
WhoWhatWhy, Trump Administration Determined to Kill Net Neutrality, Claire Wang, Nov. 25, 2017. In just three weeks, the freedom with which Americans have navigated the web — a terrain that seems as expansive as the universe — may become a thing of the past.
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled a plan to gut net neutrality, the principle that aims to establish a level playing field online. A final vote is scheduled for December 14.
Getting rid of net neutrality would give broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon license to assign faster browsing speeds to platforms that can afford higher premiums — Google, YouTube, Facebook — and essentially throttle smaller services that can’t, including those that compete with the provider’s own services. (Verizon, for example, may grant perks to Yahoo, which it acquired this summer).
Providers would amass the power to decide which content gets heard. Just hours after the FCC announced its assault on net neutrality, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman penned an open letter to Chairman Ajit Pai and accused him of stonewalling a probe into fraudulent comments posted to the agency’s website.
Schneiderman (shown at left) wrote that someone had launched a “massive scheme” to bombard the FCC’s public forum with fake anti-regulation messages sent using identities of real Americans — some deceased.
His office has been investigating the alleged mass identity theft for the past six months — but more than nine record requests made to the FCC yielded no substantive response.
The hoax comments supporting the FCC’s new rule change can be seen as an attempt to neutralize the much larger force on the other side. Two-thirds of the comments on the FCC’s site were against the dissolution of net neutrality rules, according to a study funded by lobbying group Broadband for America.
Proponents of the net neutrality repeal insist that allowing providers to regulate browsing speed and charge for premium access will spur investment and growth — though little credible evidence has been found in support of that claim.
Media: Time Acquired
New York Times, Time Inc. Sells Itself to Meredith Corp., Backed by Koch Brothers, Sydney Ember and and Andrew Ross Sorkin, Nov. 26, 2017. A long chapter in media history came to an unlikely close on Sunday night.
The Meredith Corporation — the Iowa-based owner of Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens and AllRecipes — agreed to purchase Time Inc. in an all-cash transaction valued at nearly $3 billion. The deal was made possible, in large part, by an infusion of $650 million from Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers known for using their wealth and political connections to advance conservative causes.
Meredith would seem to be an unusual suitor for Time Inc., which in addition to its flagship magazine Time also publishes People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and InStyle.
“This is a transformative transaction for Meredith Corporation,” Tom Harty, Meredith’s president and chief operating officer, said in the company’s statement announcing the agreement.
Meredith had arranged for the cash infusion from the Koch brothers through their private equity arm, Koch Equity Development.
Charles Koch, the chief executive of Koch Industries, and David Koch have long sought to shape political discourse through their support of nonprofit organizations, universities and think tanks but have never owned their own media company. But in its announcement of the deal, Meredith said that Koch Equity Development would not have a seat on Meredith’s board of directors and would “have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.”
Washington Post, Sessions reshapes Justice Dept. while eyes are on Russia, Matt Zapotosky and Sari Horwitz, Nov. 25, 2017. From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama-era policies on policing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (right) is methodically changing his agency to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — and drawing less scrutiny than the ongoing probes into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.
Washington Post, Mueller probe might be what actually ‘drains the swamp,’ Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 25, 2017. The work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (shown at right) seems to be sending shock waves through Washington, exposing the lucrative work that lobbyists from both parties have performed on behalf of foreign interests.
Washington Post, Kushner’s shrinking profile: He’s both near the power center and pushed to the sidelines, Ashley Parker, Nov. 25, 2017. The once-sprawling portfolio of Jared Kushner (shown at right), which included walk-in privileges to the Oval Office, has been diminished under Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Kushner’s still-evolving role in the investigations of Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice also make him a potential risk to his father-in-law, President Trump.
Global News: Syrian Peace Talks
SouthFront, Erdogan Rules Out Any Place For Kurds In Upcoming Sochi Talks On Syria. Staff report, Nov. 25, 2017. YPG Confirms There Is No Invitation Yet. On Nov. 24, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (shown at right) ruled out any place for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), in the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue conference in the Russian city of Sochi.
Bruce Lindner Blog via Facebook, Open Letter To Donald Trump About Time Magazine Cover, Bruce Lindner, Nov. 25, 2017.
Everyone knows you have a thing about being on the cover of Time Magazine, because you’ve mentioned it so many times over the years..Why just yesterday, you claimed Time Magazine called you to inform you that you were being considered for Person of the Year for the December 6th issue.
Unfortunately, that turned out to be a LIE. Both Time’s content editor and Time Magazine have tweeted that your claim is false..And of course, your dashing face adorns that splendid March 1st 2009 cover of Time Magazine that hangs in five of your golf resorts, from Scotland to Mar-a-Lago. Unfortunately, that too turned out to be a LIE. The cover was Photoshopped..And who can forget the time you told your adoring throngs “I’ve been on the cover of Time Magazine more than anybody else.” Guess what? Another LIE.
So what is it Donald? Why the obsession for getting on the cover of Time Magazine? It almost seems like you’re trying to compete with someone that you’re insanely jealous of.
Muller Probe Of Trump Team Snares Flynn?
Washington Post, Flynn’s lawyer stops working with Trump’s team, a sign Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller probe, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 24, 2017 (print edition). Former national security adviser Michael Flynn (shown above at the White House) has been under intense pressure from the special counsel, and the move is a potentially ominous sign for President Trump and his close associates.
Terror Attack In Egypt
New York Times, Militants Kill More Than 235 During Mosque Attack in Egypt, Declan Walsh, Nov. 24, 2017. The attackers sprayed gunfire and exploded bombs at a crowded mosque in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in the country’s modern history. Even by recent standards in Egypt, where militants have blown up Christian worshipers in church pews and gunned down pilgrims in buses, it was an unusually ruthless and deadly assault.
Related story: Washington Post, Attack on mosque in Egypt’s Sinai kills at least 155 people, Heba Farouk Mahfouz and Kareem Fahim, Nov. 24, 2017.The attack, which came during Friday prayers, was one of the deadliest assaults on civilians during a years-long insurgency against the Egyptian government.
Reuters via New York Times, Vast Majority of Suspects in Graft Probe Agreeing to Settle, Crown Prince Says, Staff report, Nov. 24, 2017. The vast majority of about 200 businessmen and officials implicated in a sweeping crackdown on corruption are agreeing to settlements under which they hand over assets to the government, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) told the New York Times.
“We show them all the files that we have and as soon as they see those about 95 percent agree to a settlement,” which means signing over cash or shares in their companies to the Saudi Treasury, the newspaper quoted Prince Mohammed as saying.
“About 1 percent are able to prove they are clean and their case is dropped right there. About 4 percent say they are not corrupt and with their lawyers want to go to court.”
Prince Mohammed repeated a previous official estimate that the government could eventually recover around $100 billion of illicit money through settlements.
The government said two weeks ago that it had questioned 208 people in the crackdown and released seven without charge. Dozens of princes, senior officials and top businessmen are believed to be held in Riyadh’s opulent Ritz Carlton hotel as their cases are processed.
Another Trump Tantrum
Washington Post, Trump blasts NFL chief for ceding ‘control’ to players amid anthem protests, Jenna Johnson, Nov. 24, 2017. President Trump on Friday returned to his attempts to pressure the National Football League to punish players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
“Can you believe that the disrespect for our Country, our Flag, our Anthem continues without penalty to the players. The Commissioner has lost control of the hemorrhaging league. Players are the boss!” Trump tweeted early Friday morning.
The president, who is spending most of the week at his private club in Palm Beach, also tweeted that he plans to speak with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East” and then golf with famous professional golfers Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Preet Bharara gets last laugh after Michael Flynn sells out Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 24, 2017. Donald Trump has fired former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (right), Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, and several other individuals in the hope of derailing the investigation into his Russia scandal.
That all ended up backfiring when Rod Rosenstein, the last man standing at the Department of Justice, appointed Robert Mueller to take over the investigation. Mueller has now arrested Trump’s campaign chairman and is negotiating a deal with Trump’s former National Security Adviser. Those who stood up to Trump are getting closer to getting the last laugh for good.
Sex Scandal, Hypocrisy, Anger
Washington Post, Opinion: Congress must investigate Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct, Eugene Robinson, Nov. 24, 2017. Powerful men with long histories of alleged sexual harassment or assault are finally being held accountable — except one. That would be President Trump.
Medium, A Survivor’s Defense of Al Franken, G.S. Potter, Nov. 24, 2017 (Dr. G.S. Potter works with the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy.) I feel exploited. And I feel sick. I’m sick of pedophiles. I’m sick of rapists. I’m sick of sexual violence and sexual predators. I am sick of being reminded moment after moment of the times — yes plural — that I have been shocked out of my body, stripped of my power and deprived of the right to defend my own body by a man sexually forcing himself onto me.
More than that, I’m sick of my traumas and the traumas of other survivors being exploited for political gain and emotional satisfaction on both the left and the right. Physically. Sick.
I am sick to know that I cannot protect myself or my daughter from the pussy grabbing woman hater that controls every single law and policy that guides this nation. I am sick to know that Roy Moore exists on this planet and that there are millions of people supportive of a known pedophile holding power over millions upon millions of women and girls in the state of Alabama and the United States.
I am sick that a member of the Trump campaign and former state Senator in Oklahoma plead guilty to child trafficking. And I am sick that people like Leeanne Tweeden feel comfortable enough to take the traumas of the women and children that have been the true victims of sexual violence and used them for her own personal gains and the political goals of the Republican Party.
Leeanne Tweeden is the woman that recently accused Al Franken of sexually violating her at a rehearsal for a USO comedy show in 2006. Her decision to take her story public after 10 years of “silence” has been framed by both the left and the right as a survivor’s act of bravery that demands immediate attention and strict consequences.
I see Leeanne Tweeden’s actions quite differently. What Leeanne Tweeden has done is stolen the very real traumas of very real survivors — people like me — and mocked them. What she has done is taken our pain and our bravery and our strength and exploited it on behalf of a network of people that actively prey on the women and children she is pretending to show solidarity with.
What she is doing is vile and it is disgusting and it is dangerous on every personal and political level associated with sexual assault in the United States. Perhaps if she was, in fact, a survivor of sexual assault she would understand the damage that is being caused by her actions.
But she is not a survivor. And she is definitely not a victim of Al Franken (shown at right). Leeanne was never raped. She was never assaulted. And she was never the victim of sexual violence or harassment. She was a willing and active participant in a comedy show that involved sexualized behaviors. She consented to participating. She actively engaged in and invited similar behaviors with other performers other than Al Franken at the event. As recently and clearly described by journalist S. Novi: “Both SNL and USO stage skits are well-known to be over the top when it comes to topics such as sex, but the USO performances are even more so due to the audience of mostly military males.”
I have a track-record of confronting both the Democratic and the Republican party for abuses. If Tweeden was a victim of a violent and predatory Al Franken, I would have stood right by her side and called for an investigation of the Senator and his immediate removal from office.
I would have gladly lumped his name into a category with Roy Moore and Donald Trump and Roger Ailes and Henry Weinstein. I would have written an article about how we can’t entrust or bodies to legislators that will assault our women and children and legally enable the predators to get away with similar crimes no matter what side of the aisle we come from.
Washington Post, Opinion: The religious right’s scary, judgmental old men, Michael Gerson, Nov. 24, 2017. Even in a political season of routine marvels, few developments are more spectacularly incongruous than this: The United States has seen a swift, dramatic shift in attitudes toward sexual harassment with Donald Trump as president.
And where did this urgent assertion of moral principle come from? Not from the advocates of “family values.” On the contrary, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family (now under much better management), chose to side with GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama against his highly credible accusers.
The Hill, Ethics lawyer: Conyers summoned me to his office while wearing underwear, John Bowden, Nov. 22, 2017. A high-profile ethics lawyer based in Washington, D.C., says Rep. John Conyers Jr. summoned her to his office where the Michigan Democrat was in his underwear during her time as minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.
Melanie Sloan, who formerly headed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and worked for Conyers from 1995 to 1998, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Conyers (shown at right) asked her to come to his Rayburn Building office at one point, where she found him in his underwear.
“I was pretty taken aback to see my boss half-dressed,” she said. “I turned on my heel and I left.”
Sloan added that Conyers’ behavior toward her was inappropriate and abusive, but she told the Post that she didn’t believe she was sexually harassed by him.
“There was nothing I could do to stop it,” Sloan told the Post. “Not going to leadership, not going to my boss, not going to a women’s group, not going to a reporter. I was dismissed and told I must be mentally unstable.”
She was initially encouraged to keep quiet, Sloan says, because the culture of Washington dictates that staffers show “loyalty.”
“The reason I decided to go on the record is to make it easier for other people,” she said. “People are afraid to come forward. So much about working in Washington is about loyalty, and you are supposed to shut up about these things.”
Sloan is the first woman to come forward on the record about Conyers after a BuzzFeed investigation found that Conyers settled a claim with an unidentified former employee over allegations of sexual harassment in 2015.
Conyers’ attorney denied Sloan’s accusations in a statement to the Post. Conyers has “vehemently” denied the previous allegations uncovered by the BuzzFeed investigation.
CNN via HuffPost, Report: Tillerson Snubbing Ivanka Trump’s India Trip Amid Tensions, Mary Papenfuss, Nov. 24, 2017. No senior State Department officials will accompany her to a business summit there.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) isn’t sending a top delegation to accompany Ivanka Trump to a business summit in India because he doesn’t want to promote her on the world stage, CNN reported. In her highest-profile international event yet, the first daughter is attending the three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, sponsored by the State Department and India, next week. A theme of the summit is female economic empowerment.
A senior State Department source told CNN that “no one higher than the deputy assistant secretary is allowed to participate” in the India trip. Tillerson’s staff “won’t send someone senior because they don’t want to bolster Ivanka,” the source said.
Tillerson has a history of tension with the White House, and this could be the newest chapter. Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” after a summer meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to NBC. Tillerson never specifically denied he used the word. Instead, he said at a press conference: “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”
Ivanka Trump’s participation in the summit is already controversial. Hyderabad has forcibly removed thousands of beggars from the streets, and even jailed many of them, ahead of her visit. In the U.S., critics also question her credentials as a promoter of women in business.
While the president touts “made in America” products, his daughter’s own fashions are manufactured exclusively in overseas factories paying low wages, The Washington Post has reported. A Post investigation also found that her company “lags behind many in the apparel industry in monitoring the treatment of the largely female workforce.”
Election Tampering Claim
Washington Post, After Russia’s election interference, pulling back the curtain on online ads, Editorial Board, Nov. 24, 2017. Last week, the Federal Election Commission took a rare unanimous vote to begin drafting regulations that would require greater transparency in online political advertising. The motion is a welcome sign of life from a group long paralyzed by partisanship. And it’s a reminder that Russia’s use of online ads to meddle in the 2016 presidential election should be a matter of concern across political parties
The FEC currently requires that political advertisements supporting a particular candidate include a disclaimer of the ad’s funding. Yet companies such as Facebook and Google have pushed to exempt ads on their platforms from the requirement: They argued that, like bumper stickers, which the FEC also exempts, the ads were just too small for the words to fit.
Analyzing Expanding, Undeclared U.S. War Against Syria
SouthFront, US Military To Expand Jordanian Air Base To Use It For Oprations In Region, Staff report, Nov. 24, 2017. The US Pentagon wants to use 143$ million from its budget (passed by Congress last week) to expand and upgrade the Muwaffaq Salti airbase in Jordan, the Stars and Stripes newspaper reported on November 23.
According to the US Air Force budget documents, the US military is going to use the Muwaffaq Salti Airbase to expand drone and warplanes flights in the region. The airbase is considered the most strategic base in Jordan. It is located near the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border in the northern part of the country.
The Pentagon decision could be related to the latest Washington Post report that claimed Trump administration is willing to keep the US Army in Syria after defeating ISIS, until a political solution is reached in the country.
The US had deployed warplanes to Jordan way before ISIS raise in Syria and Iraq. This confirms that the US military deployment in Syria and the planned upgrade of the Muwaffaq Salti Airbase is a part of the wider regional strategy.
Al raimedia.com via SouthFront, US Buffer Zone In Northeastern Syria And Land-Bridge From Tehran To Beirut, Elijah J. Magnier, Nov. 24, 2017. Following the victory of the Syrian army and its allies over the “Islamic State” group in the town of Albu Kamal in the north-east of the country, the road has been opened for the first time since the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut and become safe and non-hostile to the four capitals and their rulers.
The United States tried to block the road between Tehran and Beirut at the level of Albu Kamal by forcing the Kurdish forces into a frantic race, but Washington failed to achieve its goals.
The United States established a new rule of engagement in the east of the Euphrates, informing the Russian forces that it will not accept any ground forces (the Syrian army and its allies) east of the Euphrates River and that it will bomb any target approaching the east of the river even if the objective of the ground forces was to pursue ISIS.
Thus, the US is establishing a new undeclared no-fly-zone without bothering to deny that this can serve ISIS forces east of the Euphrates and offer the terrorists a kind of protection. Moreover, the US-led international coalition air bombing against ISIS has reduced noticeably.
With this US warning, it is clear that Washington is declaring the presence of an occupying force in Syria, particularly as the presence of the coalition was linked to fighting ISIS as previously announced. Today ISIS has lost all cities under its occupation since July 2014 in Iraq and before this date in Syria. Therefore there is no legal reason for the presence of the US forces in the Levant.
By becoming an occupation force, the US troops expose themselves, along with the proxy Kurds operating under its command, to attacks similar to the one in Iraq and the one in Lebanon in 1982 during the Israeli invasion.
SouthFront, Chances Of Starting War In Lebanon Are Close To Zero, Staff report, Nov. 24, 2017. It is widely known that Riyadh would rather use means of proxy and clandestine warfare.
Crime and Courts
New York Times, Oscar Pistorius’s Murder Sentence Is More Than Doubled, Alan Cowell, Nov. 24, 2017. South African prosecutors had said the six-year sentence that the sprinter received for killing his girlfriend in 2013 was “shockingly lenient.” South African prosecutors had said the six-year sentence that the sprinter received for killing his girlfriend in 2013 was “shockingly lenient.”
Another Sex Scandal Threat
Zero Hedge, Former Secret Service Agent Threatens To Reveal Details About Bill Clinton And Epstein’s “Lolita Express,” Tyler Durden, Nov. 24, 2017. In a furious twitter exchange with a Clinton aide on Friday, former secret service agent Dan Bongino threatened to reveal new details about Bill Clinton’s 26 documented trips aboard notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”
Bongino and former Hillary Clinton aide Nick Merrill started feuding after Merrill challenged Bongino’s claim that Clinton was the most “manipulative political person in a position of power [he had] ever met in my entire life,” as Paul Watson pointed out.
Merrill fired back that Hillary “has enormous respect for the Secret Service & a great relationship with the agents on her detail.” He also alleged that Bongino was never on the Clintons’ detail – a claim that Bongino almost immediately disproved by supplying a photo of him sitting behind Hillary Clinton back in 2001.
Trump Officials Leaking Plans For Syrian Regime Change, Permanent Bases, Ongoing War?
Washington Post, U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed, Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly, Nov. 23, 2017 (print edition). The administration wants to influence peace talks, but the role could lead to conflict with Syria and Iran. The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war, a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.
With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there.
U.S. officials say they are hoping to use the ongoing presence of American troops in northern Syria, in support of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to pressure Assad to make concessions at United Nations-brokered peace talks in Geneva. The negotiations there are set to resume at the end of this month after sputtering along for more than three years without result.
An abrupt U.S. withdrawal could complete Assad’s sweep of Syrian territory and help guarantee his political survival — an outcome that would constitute a win for Iran, his close ally.
To avoid that outcome, U.S. officials say they plan to maintain a U.S. troop presence in northern Syria — where the Americans have trained and assisted the SDF against the Islamic State — and establish new local governance, apart from the Assad government, in those areas.
Unz Review via SouthFront, Opinion: Did The US Allow ISIS To Escape To Keep The Fighting Going? Philip Giraldi (author and former CIA officer, shown at right), Nov. 23, 2017. Now we have President Donald Trump, whose foreign policy is particularly unarticulated, though in many ways similar to that of his predecessors.
The shambles of American policy as it applies to the Middle East was highlighted by yet another similar and particularly bizarre episode that was revealed initially by the BBC on Monday of last week (BBC: Raqqa’s dirty secret). In early October, when the Syrians and Russians were closing in from the west on Raqqa, the “capital” of the ISIS caliphate while the U.S supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which predominantly consists of the Kurdish militias, was closing in from the east, a deal was reportedly struck to permit an evacuation of the remaining ISIS fighters and their families.
U.S. and British military advisers who were with the SDF and Kurds reported, somewhat improbably, that they had not been party to the negotiations, that it was “all-locals,” though they later admitted that there had been some involvement on their part. In the event, trucks and busses were assembled on October 14th, formed into a convoy, and were loaded with more than 4,000 fighters and families.
More than 100 ISIS-owned vehicles also were allowed to leave and there were ten trucks filled with weapons. The convoy stretched for more than four miles and film footage shows trucks pulling trailers filled with militants brandishing their weapons. The fighters were not allowed to display flags or banners but they were not forced to disarm and in fact loaded all the vehicles with as many weapons as they could carry, so much so that one truck broke its axle from the weight. The BBC reported that “This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State.”
The drivers reported that they were abused by the ISIS fighters, many of whom were wearing explosive belts, and they also claimed that there was a large percentage of foreigners among those escaping. Various drivers told the BBC that there were French, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Saudi, Chinese, Tunisian and Egyptian nationals among their passengers. The evacuees made it safely to ISIS controlled territory and presumably will be ready, willing and able to fight again.
The escape of the Islamic State from Raqqa is, to put it mildly, bizarre….
In May, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (shown at left) said on television that the war against ISIS was one of “…annihilation. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so.”
Well, Mattis was possibly lying back then, or at least saying what he thought would play well on television and in the newspapers.
On November 14th, the day after the BBC story about Raqqa broke, he lied again, saying that the United States is in Syria under a U.N. authorization to fight ISIS, which is not true. The Russians have been invited into the country by its legitimate government but the U.S. is not there legally. The Turks are claiming that there are 13 U.S. military bases already in Syria, some of which are permanent.
Mattis added to his bit of fiction by stating, somewhat ominously, that while the first phase of the ISIS war is coming to an end “Basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out. But that doesn’t mean we just walk away and let ISIS 2.0 pop back around. The enemy hasn’t declared they’re done with the war yet. So, we’ll keep fighting them as long as they want to fight.”
A waggish friend of mine suggested that Mattis might be deliberately selectively releasing ISIS fighters so the U.S. will never have to leave Syria, but my own theory is somewhat different. I think that Washington, which has done so little to defeat ISIS, wants some threat to continue so it can keep its own “resistance forces” in place and active to give it a seat at the table and a voice at the upcoming Geneva discussions for a political settlement in Syria.
SouthFront, How Will Iran, Russia And Turkey React To U.S. Decision To Stay In Syria After Defeat Of ISIS? Boris Rozhin (‘Colonel Cassad’), Nov. 23, 2017. Following the meeting of Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Sochi, where the end of the war was announced and the beginning of the post-war regulation process meant to decide Syria’s future took place, the US media began reporting on the fact that the US plans to stay in Syria despite the collapse of ISIS, and also will use the Kurds to pressure al-Assad’s government.
Moon of Alabama, Syria – This U.S. Occupation — Or “Presence” — Is Unsustainable, b, Nov. 23, 2017. The U.S. is now occupying north-east Syria. It wants to blackmail the Syrian government into “regime change.” The occupation is unsustainable, its aim is unattainable. The generals who devised these plans lack strategic insight. They listen to the wrong people.
The Islamic State no longer holds any significant ground in Syria and Iraq. What is left of it in a few towns of the Euphrates valley will soon be gone. Its remnants will be some of several terror gangs in the region. Local forces can and will hold those under adequate control. The Islamic State is finished. This is why the Lebanese Hizbullah announced to pull back all its advisors and units from Iraq. It is the reason why Russia began to repatriated some of its units from Syria. Foreign forces are no longer needed to eliminate the remains of ISIS.
In its UN Security Council resolutions 2249 (2015) for the fight against ISIS the UNSC was:
“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States in accordance with purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, … Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, … on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL … and entities associated with Al-Qaida … and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.”
There is no longer any “territory under the control of ISIL.” Its “safe havens” have been “eradicated.” The task laid out and legitimized in the UNSC resolution is finished. It is over. There is no longer any justification, under UNSC Res 2249, for U.S. troops in Syria or Iraq.
U.S. Sex Scandal Claims In High Places
Washington Post, Congressman told woman he would alert police if she exposed his sex life, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 23, 2017 (print edition. The woman who spoke to The Post shared a secretly recorded conversation she had on the phone with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) about sexually explicit material he sent her. In the chat, he warned her against using the material “in a way that would negatively affect my career.”
Related story: Texas Tribune, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton apologizes for graphic online photo, Abby Livingston, Nov. 22, 2017. U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis (shown at right), released a statement Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week. He announced his re-election bid earlier this month. “While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”
It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.
Barton, who announced his re-election bid earlier this month, is navigating in a political environment charged with emerging stories of sexual misbehavior in politics, in business and in the media. The photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, set off speculation within Texas GOP circles about his political future.
Washington Post, Roy Moore’s communications director resigns amid firestorm over allegations against candidate, Marwa Eltagouri, Nov. 23, 2017 (print edition). A campaign strategist told CNN that John Rogers wasn’t prepared to deal with the “level of scrutiny” following the Washington Post’s report detailing allegations that Moore (shown at right) pursued relationships with teenage girls.
Justice Department Screw-Up Helps Spread Guns?
Washington Post, At least 70,000 with outstanding warrants purged from files used for gun checks, Sari Horwitz, Nov. 23, 2017. After the FBI changed its interpretation of “fugitive from justice,” tens of thousands of people wanted by law enforcement officials were removed from the background check database that bars fugitives from justice from buying firearms.
Washington Post, Donald Trump Jr. meets scrutiny of his Russian contacts with defiance, Drew Harwell, Nov. 23, 2017. Facing questions from multiple investigations about the interactions he had in 2016 with people tied to Russia, President Trump’s oldest son Donald Trump Jr. (shown at right) has taken an increasingly caustic tone, mocking critics and using his growing public profile to serve as an ardent defender of Trumpism.
It’s an unorthodox legal strategy for someone under scrutiny by congressional investigators, whose every word could be used against him. But the approach fits with the real estate executive’s growing public persona as a right-wing provocateur and ardent defender of Trumpism.
“He’s very smart to be in the spotlight,” said Charlie Kirk, a friend and the founder of the conservative college and high school group Turning Point USA. “Would they stop the investigation if he stopped tweeting? He’s in a situation where either you defend yourself, reassure the base, reassure the supporters, or stay silent. And if you’re totally silent, it only increases suspicion.”
New York Times, A ‘Gladiator’ Battles for the Minds of Young Conservatives, Sabrina Tavernise, Nov. 23, 2017.If Rush Limbaugh is someone your father listens to on his car radio, Ben Shapiro, 33, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is the cool kid’s philosopher.
Washington Post, On Trump’s Thanksgiving menu: Grievances and calls for gratitude — for him, Jenna Johnson, Nov. 23, 2017 (print edition). The president’s attacks and provocations may remind some Americans of that troublemaking uncle they will have to face.This Thanksgiving, President Trump doesn’t seem to be thankful for very much — and seems frustrated that Americans aren’t expressing more gratitude for him.
At a time when many reflect on the blessings in their lives and help those in need, the president has thanked himself for the booming stock market and promised to cut welfare programs. He has demanded more credit for the release of three college basketball players who were arrested for allegedly shoplifting in China — tweeting Wednesday that “IT WAS ME” who got them out — and called the father of one of the players an “ungrateful fool.” He also revived the controversy over football players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and sought to cast doubt on the women who have accused Senate candidate Roy Moore of preying on them when they were teenagers.
The holiday week, in other words, serves as a reminder that Trump doesn’t take a break from airing his grievances — not even in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. As he tweeted in 2013: “Happy Thanksgiving to all — even the haters and losers!”
New York Times, Nafta Talks Have High Stakes for TwoTexas Bridge Owners, Natalie Kitroeff, Nov. 23, 2017. Private crossings to Mexico are a rich franchise under theNorth American Free Trade Agreement, but discussionson reopening the accord have put that bonanza at risk.
Caught quite literally in the middle of the international debate over the way the United States trades with its southern neighbor are two Texans named Sam.
Sam Vale and Sam Sparks Jr. own two bridges that stretch across the Rio Grande, connecting farmers on either side with markets on the other, and linking communities in South Texas and northern Mexico that sometimes meet in the middle. The majority of border bridges belong to the government. But the Sams are exceptions, private owners of crossings collecting tolls that can exceed $30 per truck.
Washington Post, President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list, Meg Kelly, Nov. 22, 2017. At least 13 women have accused the president of sexual misconduct. Many of the accusations surfaced after the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump speaking graphically about kissing and groping women uninvited. Here’s the complete list, with their evidence.
Trump vociferously has taken aim at accused Democrats, while apparently giving a pass to Republicans. Moreover, it was only a year ago that similar accusations against Trump dominated the headlines, with more than a dozen women accusing Trump of improper conduct or sexual assault. Many of the accusations surfaced after the release of a 2005 tape of Trump speaking graphically about kissing and groping women uninvited.
During the second presidential debate, Anderson Cooper asked then-candidate Trump point blank whether he had “actually kiss[ed] women without consent or grope[d] women without consent?” Trump asserted that “nobody has more respect for women” and Cooper pushed him, asking, “Have you ever done those things?” Trump denied that he had, responding: “No, I have not.”
Many of the women have produced witnesses who say they heard about these incidents when they happened — long before Trump’s political aspirations were known. Three have produced at least two witnesses.
Washington Post, Trump boosts Moore in Ala. Senate race despite sexual misconduct allegations, Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker and David Weigel, President Trump gave a boost Tuesday to embattled Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, warning against a Democratic victory and emphasizing that the former judge “totally denies” allegations of inappropriate relationships with teenage girls.
“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” Trump said about Moore’s opponent, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, who has led in some recent polls in the state. “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on military.”
The comments came after a week in which other Republican leaders in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), had cut ties with Moore and called on him to exit the race. They also stood in contrast to Trump’s own support for the Republican National Committee’s decision last week to pull resources from the state, including 14 paid staffers and expertise in using party data to target voters and model the election result.
There were no signs Tuesday that the RNC would reverse course, but a senior administration official said the president’s comments could prompt a larger effort to close ranks behind Moore.
Washington Post, White House military personnel removed amid inquiry into contacts with foreign women, Carol D. Leonnig, Dan Lamothe and Julie Tate, Nov. 22, 2017. Three military personnel have been reassigned from their White House jobs amid allegations that they had improper contact with foreign women while traveling with President Trump on his recent trip to Asia, according to officials familiar with the situation.
The service members worked for the White House Communications Agency, a specialized military unit that helps provide the president, vice president, Secret Service and other officials with secure communications.
CIA Secrets, JFK Murder Anniversary
WhoWhatWhy, What Could Have Been — JFK in His Own Words, Milicent Cranor, Nov. 22, 2017. On the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, let’s not forget the man who was lost that day and think about how much he could have changed the world. It is a big year for those interested in the mysteries that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on this day in 1963 still poses. WhoWhatWhy has been a leader on this subject and our team of experts will spend this day — as it has so many others — scouring the newly released documents for interesting information.
However, on this anniversary, we wanted to take a step back from the minutiae of CIA cables, FBI memos and other documents related to the assassination. Instead, we want to focus on what sometimes seems to get overlooked as people try to put together the puzzle: John F. Kennedy, the person and statesman the world lost that day.
Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: JFK, the CIA, and Secrecy, Jacob G. Hornberger (right), Nov. 22, 2017. Today marks the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who famously said, “The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings….”
Isn’t that the ultimate of ironies, given that the “investigation” into his assassination was shrouded in secrecy and continues to be shrouded in secrecy?
It’s been that way since the day of the assassination. Everything was said to involve “national security,” which were (and are) the two most important words in the American political lexicon. Most of the proceedings of the Warren Commission, which was charged with pinning the assassination on Lee Harvey Oswald, were conducted in secret. The commission ordered that records relating to its proceedings be kept secret from the American people … for 75 years! When Warren was asked if Americans would ever be permitted to see the records, he responded, “Yes, there will come a time. But it might not be in your lifetime….”
Immediately upon JFK’s death, a team of Secret Service agents, following orders from new President Lyndon Johnson, forced their way out of Parkland Hospital, where the president had died. Brandishing guns and screaming profanities, they made it clear to Dallas Medical Examiner Earl Rose that they had absolutely no intention of complying with Texas law, which required that Rose conduct an autopsy.
They took the body to Dallas Love Field, where Johnson was waiting for it. The body was delivered into the hands of the military in Maryland, which conducted an autopsy under top-secret conditions. Military personnel who participated in the autopsy were required to sign secrecy oaths in which they promised never to reveal what they had seen.
In the 1990s, thanks to Oliver Stone’s movie JFK (Stone is shown at right), the American people came to the realization that the CIA, the military, and other national-security state agencies were still shrouding their assassination records in secrecy. Public pressure caused Congress to enact the JFK Records Act in 1992, which ordered the CIA, the military, FBI, Secret Service, and other national-security state agencies to show their assassination records to the American people.
That was when it dawned on a lot of Americans that the military had conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy on the president’s body.
Inside Washington: Commentary
Washington Post, Analysis: The GOP tax plan is generating a muted response. That’s odd, Tory Newmyer, Nov. 22, 2017. If the rewrite of the tax code were headed the right direction, corporate lobbyists would be whining that their private breaks are getting squeezed too hard, and economists would be cheering because the trashing of those preferences is paying for lower overall rates that could fuel new growth. Neither thing is happening.
And the Republican push to overhaul the code is far enough along that it’s raising alarms from economists across the country. The latest came Tuesday, when only one of 42 top economists surveyed by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business thought the tax proposals moving through Congress would meaningfully expand the economy over a decade (22 disagreed or strongly disagreed, 15 were uncertain and the rest didn’t answer). And none of those economists, a sampling spanning the ideological spectrum, disagreed the measures would leave the nation saddled with a substantially heavier debt load relative to the size of the economy.
Washington Post, House Republicans have a little-known plan to raise taxes on teachers by $2 billion, Heather Long, Nov. 22, 2017. Any full-time instructor at a public or private K-12 school is currently eligible for a $250 deduction on school supplies they purchase for students. The proposal would end this.
Washington Post, Why BuzzFeed teamed with a far-right figure to break the John Conyers scandal, Paul Farhi, Nov. 21, 2017. The website connected with Mike Cernovich, a veteran promoter of false conspiracies. Journalism can make for strange bedfellows. Case in point: BuzzFeed and Mike Cernovich.
Cernovich — a controversial far-right figure who has promoted blatantly false conspiracy theories, such as the discredited “Pizzagate” hoax — was the source of a big BuzzFeed scoop Monday night. The popular news and features website reported that legendary liberal Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) made repeated sexual advances toward female staffers and secretly reached a financial settlement with one accuser. The story was based largely on documents and affidavits supplied by Cernovich to BuzzFeed’s reporters.
The BuzzFeed-Cernovich connection is odd, to say the least. The agreement between Cernovich and BuzzFeed appears to have come with a hidden facet: Cernovich acquired the congressional documents after offering to pay $10,000 for them.
Washington Post, Opinion: Trump built a wall. Her name is Sarah, Kathleen Parker, Nov. 22, 2017 (print edition). White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (shown in a file photo) asked the press corps Monday to preface their daily briefing questions with a statement of thankfulness, reporters obliged. Or, should we say, obeyed. For this, no doubt, Sanders was grateful.
The press secretary humiliates journalists on a daily basis. Yet again, she controlled the crowd, though this time by candy-coating her usual condescension with faux fellowship. I’m thankful I wasn’t in the room.
For a press secretary to require professional journalists to essentially beg for their supper, surrendering their adversarial posture like a dog commanded to Drop The Bone, is an infantilizing tactic. The effect is to neutralize the opposition.
Yes, I said opposition. The press, by definition, is oppositional. As Mr. Dooley, the turn-of-the-century fictional bartender created by columnist Finley Peter Dunne, is often paraphrased: “The newspaper’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Washington Post, Opinion: How Trump can be Haiti’s ‘champion,’ Editorial board, Nov. 22, 2017 (print edition). As a candidate for president last year, Donald Trump felt Haiti’s pain. Campaigning in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, Mr. Trump recounted the ravages visited by the devastating 2010 earthquake on the hemisphere’s most destitute country and concluded , “Whether you vote for me or don’t vote for me, I really want to be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion.”
Now is the moment for Mr. Trump’s administration to make good on that promise. It faces a stark choice with enormous repercussions: whether to grant another extension for some 50,000 Haitians living legally in the United States, or to expel them, a decision that would be devastating not just for thousands of screened, law-abiding migrants and their 27,000 U.S.-born children but also for Haiti itself, whose economy is heavily dependent on the remittances they send home.
The Haitians in question, some of whom have lived in the United States since at least before the 2010 earthquake, and for 13 years on average, were granted permission to stay under a U.S. government humanitarian program known as temporary protected status. After several renewals under the Obama administration, hard-liners in the Trump administration are pressing to revoke TPS for the Haitians, having already done so for several other nations, including some who had lived in the United States even longer. Their current status expires in January; a decision from the Department of Homeland Security on granting them an extension is expected by Nov. 23.
Haiti is extraordinarily ill-equipped to absorb 50,000 people arriving on its shores, most of whom would need jobs, shelter and a variety of government services, including education and health care. No country in the Americas is as dependent on remittances as Haiti, and the losses it would sustain if TPS were revoked for the 50,000 Haitians in the United States would be a severe blow.
True, the word “temporary” in “temporary protected status” should mean something; no one is proposing granting the Haitians permanent legal residence, let alone citizenship. But as Mr. Trump seemed to grasp, Haiti is an especially needy case. And the idea of the hemisphere’s richest country intentionally imposing sudden and significant economic hardship on the poorest is not just anathema to the United States’ idea of itself as a great and compassionate nation. It’s also gratuitously cruel.
Global News: North Korean Defector’s Dramatic Escape
SouthFront, Video Shows North Korean Defector Under Fire In Attempt To Reach Demilitarised Zone, Wire and staff reports, Nov. 22, 2017. A North Korean military defector fled across the border to South Korea as he was pursued and shot at by his compatriots before being hauled to safety by troops from the other side, according to new footage released by the UN command in the South Korea on November 22.
The defector was shot and injured during a rare but successful attempt to defect to South Korea by escaping across the countries’ heavily armed border on November 13. The video shows him racing towards the border village of Panmunjom in a military vehicle before crashing it and continuing his escape on foot. It also shows the man collapsed on the ground after being shot just south of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). Yonhap news quoted a government official as saying that the soldier had regained consciousness and had asked to watch television.
New York Times, Sweeping Plan Would Overturn Equal Access to the Internet, Cecilia Kang, Nov. 21, 2017. The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.
The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai (shown at right), is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers. Those limits are central to the concept called net neutrality.
The action immediately reignited a loud and furious fight over free speech and the control of the internet, pitting telecom giants like AT&T against internet giants like Google and Amazon, who warn against powerful telecom gatekeepers. Both sides are expected to lobby hard in Washington to push their agendas, as they did when the existing rules were adopted.
New York Times, Opinion: Only Morons Pay the Estate Tax,’ Editorial board, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). That’s a heck of a way for the Trump administration to talk about the richest Americans.
As he raised estate tax rates to fund work programs during the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance or gift is not consistent with the ideals and sentiments of the American people.”
It’s plenty consistent with the ideals and sentiments of President Trump, who began lying about the merits of an estate tax repeal on the day he began the tax overhaul effort.
Trump Backs GOPer Groper In Alabama U.S. Senate Race
Roll Call, Trump Breaks Silence on Moore Allegations, John T. Bennett, Nov. 21, 2017. President Trump broke his silence on Republican Roy Moore (shown at right in a file photo) and the sexual assault allegations hindering his Alabama Senate bid. “We don’t need a liberal Democrat in the seat,” Trump said over the loud hum of Marine One’s engine as he left for Florida.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump screws up and hands the Resistance the chance to use Roy Moore to destroy him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 21, 2017. It was already a moral imperative that alleged child molester Roy Moore be defeated in the Alabama Senate race. A man like that simply cannot be allowed to serve at the highest levels of government. Donald Trump, an admitted serial sexual predator, had been smart enough to keep a slight distance from the Moore debacle – until today. Now Donald Trump has screwed up and handed the Resistance an opportunity to use Moore to destroy Trump.
So many Republicans in Congress have come out against their own party’s nominee Roy Moore, with some of them even going so far as to call for his Democratic opponent Doug Jones to win, that it’ll hardly feel like a blow to the GOP if Moore loses. Trump had been taking a different approach by more or less pretending Moore didn’t exist.
But then today Trump essentially endorsed Moore while speaking to a group of reporters, pointing out that Moore denies the allegations, and attacking Jones’ positions on the issues. This changes everything. Donald Trump just married himself to Roy Moore’s fate.
Trump To Expel Haitian Refugees
Washington Post, U.S. to end temporary residence for nearly 60,000 Haitians, Karen DeYoung and Nick Miroff, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). The Trump administration gave Haitians granted provisional legal residency in this country after a 2010 earthquake 18 months to leave after deciding not to renew their Temporary Protected Status. Federal officials determined that “extraordinary conditions” after the earthquake “no longer exist,” a senior administration official said.
Cops, Crime, Oversight
New York Times, Trump Cracks Down on Crime, but Eases Reins on the Police, Steve Eder, Ben Protess and Shaila Dewan, Nov. 21, 2017. President Trump says the Justice Department has meddled too much in policing. But some police chiefs say outside monitoring has improved their departments and are frustrated by the rollbacks. The changes to collaborative reform reflect the administration’s broader effort to overhaul programs that the Obama administration used to ease tensions between communities and the police, according to interviews with current and former law enforcement officials and documents obtained through freedom of information laws.
Since President Trump took office, for example, the Justice Department has not entered into a single court-monitored consent decree with a troubled police department, even in towns with widespread constitutional violations, records show. It has also ordered reviews of existing consent decrees — which are a tougher, more punitive alternative to the collaborative reform initiative — negotiated under President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.
New York Times, Uber Breach, Kept Secret, Affected 57 Million Accounts, Mike Isaac, Katie Benner and Sheera Frenkel, Nov. 21, 2017. The company said hackers had stolen 57 million accounts and that the breach was kept secret. In the aftermath, it fired its top security executive.
Charlie Rose Scandal
Washington Post, Eight women say TV host Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping, lewd calls, Irin Carmon and Amy Brittain, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). The women, who were employees of Rose or aspired to work for him, told The Post that the longtime TV host made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.
Washington Post, He ‘doesn’t get a pass’: The remarkable response by Rose’s CBS colleagues to the allegations, J. Freedom du Lac, Amy B Wang and Marwa Eltagouri, Nov. 21, 2017. His “CBS This Morning” co-hosts slipped out of their newswoman roles and spoke as people, full of anger and bewilderment and betrayal.
Roll Call, Conyers Denies Settling with Employee Over Sexual Harassment Case, Griffin Connolly, Nov. 21, 2017. Michigan Dem (shown at right) allegedly used taxpayer money to fly in mistresses, propositioned his female employees.
Washington Post, Justice Dept. sues to block AT&T’s bid for Time Warner, sets up major antitrust case, Brian Fung, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). The suit is fraught with legal and political risks for both sides. Democrats expressed concern that antitrust officials could be seeking to block the $85 billion deal because the Trump administration has been critical of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner — a charge that the White House and Justice Department have denied.
Washington Post, Trump golf course reimbursed President Trump’s charity amid ongoing probe of the foundation, David A. Fahrenthold, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). The money had been used to settle a lawsuit against the club, according to a new tax filing. The charity also confirmed in the filing what Trump said last December: He plans to shut down the foundation once the attorney general’s investigation is complete.
New York Times, Mugabe Resigns, Official Says, After Impeachment Move, Norimitsu Onishi and Jeffrey Moyo, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). Robert Mugabe (shown above), who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, resigned as president shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings, according to the speaker of Parliament.
New York Times, Germany Faces Crisis After Coalition Talks Collapse, Melissa Eddy and Katrin Bennhold, Nov. 21, 2017 (print edition). The breakdown of negotiations raised the prospect of a snap election, which Chancellor Angela Merkel (shown at right) endorsed, saying that she was doubtful that a government without a majority could handle the many challenges it faces.
Moon of Alabama, Russia In Syria – Military ‘Failure’ Sets Off Intense Diplomacy, b, Nov. 21, 2017. Western media predicted that the Russian military campaign in Syria would end in `failure`. That – presumably – has been achieved. Now follows a push of diplomatic efforts to settle the war.
In September 2015 the “west” prepared for an open military aggression on Syria. The purported aim was to fight ISIS and to stop the migrant flow into Europe. The real aim was “regime change”. Russia stepped in by sending its cavalry to Syria. The Obama administration was surprised by the Russian (and Iranian) intervention. It had no sensible means to counter it. The administration and the U.S. commentariat tried to hide this impotence by predicting that the Russian campaign would fail.
New York Times, Assad and Putin Meet, as Russia Pushes to End Syrian War, Anne Barnard, Nov. 21, 2017. Thanking Russia for the military intervention he credited for “saving Syria,” President Bashar al-Assad met with President Vladimir V. Putin amid preparations for new talks aimed at ending the civil war.
Mr. Assad’s visit on Monday to the Russian resort town of Sochi was made public on Tuesday, a day before a summit meeting there for the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia, who have taken an increasingly prominent role in diplomacy with Syria while the United States has put Mr. Assad’s fate on the back burner.
Russian officials have said that their aim is to ensure Mr. Assad’s support for a political process to end a conflict that began more than six years ago. But Mr. Assad has consistently resisted compromise with his Syrian opponents, and doubts remain about how much Russia is willing, or able, to push him to accept significant changes like substantive power sharing or reforms.
In another signal that political change in Syria is less and less an international priority, in a phone conversation with Mr. Putin on Tuesday that lasted more than an hour and was mostly about Syria, President Trump did not bring up the issue of political transition, an administration official said. Instead, the White House said the two leaders agreed on the importance of stability, ending the war, fighting terrorism and allowing refugees to go home.
The declarations of military victory may also be premature: The Islamic State has lost much of its territory, but its fighters remain an insurgent threat and armed opposition groups still hold significant sections of the country.
Washington Post, Competing demands of Republican senators could doom tax overhaul, Tory Newmyer, Nov. 20, 2017. The chamber’s push to pass a tax bill is hanging on by a thread and just a handful of Republican lawmakers will determine its fate. The challenge for party leaders is that those swing votes have conflicting priorities.
Washington Post, Trump puts North Korea back on list of state sponsors of terrorism, David Nakamura, Nov. 20, 2017. The move is aimed at increasing pressure on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program and comes a decade after the George W. Bush administration removed the rogue nation from the list. President Trump vowed that Pyongyang will face further sanctions in the near future.
Washington Post, Keystone XL clears key hurdle, but Nebraska panel backs a different route for pipeline, Steven Mufson, Nov. 20, 2017. The Nebraska Public Service Commission rejected TransCanada’s preferred route for the pipeline that would transport thick crude oil from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. Still, today’s vote brings the project much closer to starting construction and allows President Trump to claim victory in one of his signature campaign promises.
Washington Post, Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women? Maura Judkis and Emily Heil, Nov. 20, 2017 (print edition). Interviews with dozens of women across the country depict a culture of widespread sexual harassment and abuse in kitchens and dining rooms — in dazzling Michelin-starred restaurants and suburban chains alike — that can’t be pinned solely on powerful chefs or a single gatekeeper.
Washington Post, Analysis: Leigh Corfman’s ‘Today’ show interview both hurts and helps Roy Moore, Callum Borchers, Nov. 20, 2017. Alabama voters unsure about Leigh Corfman’s accusation that U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore seduced and molested her when she was 14 had a chance to watch Corfman tell her story on the “Today” show Monday.
Resolute in the account she first told in The Washington Post 11 days earlier, Corfman might have convinced some viewers who had wanted to hear it straight from her.
Yet her interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie also included questions about her personal politics, whether she was paid to come forward and why she remained silent for decades — questions that Moore’s defenders have raised to cast doubt on her claim. That the same questions came up on the “Today” show is a win for Moore.
Corfman said she consistently votes Republican. She denied being paid.
Washington Post, The publisher of AL.com blasts back at legal threats from Roy Moore, Erik Wemple, Nov. 20, 2017 (print editon). GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore’s camp has twice threatened the Alabama Media Group, home to AL.com, according to a letter from a lawyer for the company.
“You have accused AL.com of making ‘false reports and/or careless reporting’ about multiple subjects related to your clients,” reads the letter from John Thompson of Lightfoot Franklin White LLC. “Your letter demands that AL.com retract and recant its prior stories and that it ‘cease and desist’ from any further reporting about your clients,” reads the letter.
“AL.com hereby rejects your demand,” it continues.
BuzzFeed News, She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story, Paul McLeod and Lissandra Villa, Nov. 20, 2017. “When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.” Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives (shown at right), settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”
Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.
And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.
Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.
The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.
Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.
New York Times, 2nd Woman Accuses Senator Al Franken of Groping Her, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 20, 2017. Lindsey Menz told CNN that in 2010, when Mr. Franken was a senator, he grabbed her rear end as they took a photo. Mr. Franken says he does not remember it. The new accusation, made by Lindsey Menz, 33, of Frisco, Texas, is the first to involve Mr. Franken’s time as a senator. CNN reported Monday morning that Ms. Renz reached out to the network after Ms. Tweeden went public last week, saying that she wanted to share an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.”
She told CNN that she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010. Her father’s business was sponsoring a local radio booth, she said, and she spent the day meeting various elected officials and political candidates, including Mr. Franken, who was elected in 2008. Mr. Franken issued a statement to CNN, saying, “I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t’ remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
Democracy Guardian, Al Franken: The Obvious Setup and Liberals Took the Bait, S. Novi, Nov. 20, 2017. With all of the sleazy, disgusting and lurid sexual problems that seem to be a part of the Republican official’s way of life, it was only a matter of time before there was a lash back against a Democrat. This is not to say that there aren’t any liberals that are never part of this mix, it’s just that the overtly religious doctrine that conservatives follow does lend to repressed sexual conditions.
So in scanning any Democrat that maintained both logic and a powerful presence as well as one that is knee-deep in calling out those Republicans involved in lying and RussiaGate, there was one name that is both popular and had the potential to be taken down: Al Franken.
And so, a woman named Leeann Tweeden has come forward to accuse Al Franken of sexual assault during a USO tour in which they performed together in Afghanistan in 2006. Let me say right up front that as a woman and a life-long feminist,
I absolutely support women coming forward when there have been sexual assaults or abuse. There has been a history of demeaning women in both the courtroom and life so that most refused to put themselves through the process and simply remained quiet.
However, this situation is quite a bit different and it requires that we step back and view this with a lens of logic. The fact is that Franken doesn’t have a history of demeaning women, in fact it is the opposite.
Politico, New York Times suspends Glenn Thrush after allegations of sexual misconduct, Jason Schwartz and Michael Calderone, Nov. 20, 2017. The New York Times said on Monday it is suspending White House correspondent Glenn Thrush while it investigates allegations in a new report from Vox that he made unwanted sexual advances toward young women, including colleagues from his time working for Politico.
Three women, including the piece’s author, Laura McGann, a former editor at Politico, alleged forms of unwanted contact or kissing by Thrush, while a fourth described an encounter that she said was consensual but nonetheless left her feeling shaken because of Thrush’s powerful position at Politico at the time. The incidents, which occurred in the last five years, all involved women in their 20s, Vox reported.
Thrush, who cut his teeth in the New York City tabloid newspaper world, has emerged, along with Times colleague Maggie Haberman, as one of the must-read reporters covering Donald Trump’s presidency. He and Haberman also recently signed a deal with Random House for a book on the Trump White House, which would presumably be filled with the type of West Wing intrigue and analysis that has stood out in the pages of the Times.
McGann described receiving unwanted advances from Thrush at a bar five years ago, when she said he put his hand on her thigh and started kissing her. She said the stories of the three other women fit a similar pattern: “All of the women were in their 20s at the time. They were relatively early in their careers compared to Thrush, who was the kind of seasoned journalist who would be good to know. At an event with alcohol, he made advances. Afterward, they (as I did) thought it best to stay on good terms with Thrush, whatever their feelings,” McGann wrote.
Eroding Media Standards?
Consortium News, The Lost Journalistic Standards of Russia-gate, Robert Parry, Nov. 20, 2017. The Russia-gate hysteria has witnessed a widespread collapse of journalistic standards as major U.S. news outlets ignore rules about how to treat evidence in dispute. A danger in both journalism and intelligence is to allow an unproven or seriously disputed fact to become part of the accepted narrative where it gets widely repeated and thus misleads policymakers and citizens alike, such as happened during the run-up to war with Iraq and is now recurring amid the frenzy over Russia-gate.
For instance, in a Russia-gate story on Saturday, The New York Times reported as flat fact that a Kremlin intermediary “told a Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos (shown at right), that the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Mr. Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’” The Times apparently feels that this claim no longer needs attribution even though it apparently comes solely from the 32-year-old Papadopoulos as part of his plea bargain over lying to the FBI.
Beyond the question of trusting an admitted liar like Papadopoulos, his supposed Kremlin contact, professor Joseph Mifsud, a little-known academic associated with the University of Stirling in Scotland, denied knowing anything about Democratic emails.
JFK Assassination Document Analysis
Primal Interviews via Vimeo, Cyril Wecht on Kennedy: The Endless Cover-Up, Interview of Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, Nov. 20, 2017. In this Primal Interview, Paul Guggenheimer talks with forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht (shown at right), a longtime critic of the Warren commission and its’ finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing JFK on November 22, 1963. In 1972, Dr. Wecht was the first civilian given permission to examine the Warren Commission’s evidence at the National Archives.
JFKFacts.org, Top 5 JFK files that the CIA is still hiding, Jefferson Morley, Nov. 20, 2017. The government’s release of long-secret JFK assassination records is generating headlines and hype worldwide. But the truth is the majority of the JFK files that were supposed to be released last month remain secret — and may forever if the CIA has its way.
On October 24, President Trump tweeted that “JFK files are released long ahead of schedule,” which was not true, In fact, as Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, pointed out in WhoWhatWhy, only about 10 percent of the JFK files were public by the statutory deadline of October 26. The hype continued November 3, when the National Archives posted more than 553 CIA documents never made public before, which CNN described as a “horde.” On November 9, the CIA and NSA released another batch of files, which the Washington Post called a “huge trove.”
But as Bradford explained in an interview, the impressive-sounding numbers lacked context. Even after the latest file dump on November 9, at least two-thirds of the never-seen JFK files that were supposed to be released — some 2,538 records — remain secret, according to the foundation’s analysis.
At least one-third of the JFK files that were previously released with redactions — a total of about 12,000 files — have still not been made public in unexpurgated form, he said. Unlike mainstream news organizations, the Mary Ferrell Foundation monitors the National Archives database for the latest information on what has and has not been released. Bradford called the releases so far “a big roiling mess.”
RT via WhoWhatWhy, Dick Russell Speaks on the New JFK Assassination Files, WhoWhatWhy Staff, Nov. 20, 2017. Dick Russell talks to RT News about the recently released JFK assassination files and what we can learn from them. Acclaimed author and WhoWhatWhy contributor Dick Russell recently (Nov. 16, 2017 ) spoke to RT News’s Watching the Hawks about the JFK assassination records that have been newly released by the National Archives. Russell talks about the true identity of Lee Harvey Oswald — is there evidence he was a US intelligence asset posing as a fake defector to the USSR?
Who was the “Mexico City mystery man” that was apparently posing as Oswald in the months leading up to the assassination? And despite President Donald Trump allowing these new documents to be released with significant redactions remaining — at least for now — what more can we learn? Watch the below video to find this out, and more.
Dick Russell is the author of many books, but he is perhaps best known for his thrilling, The Man Who Knew Too Much (Carroll & Graf, 2003).
Global News:Saudi System Doomed?
Moon of Alabama, The Saudi System And Why Its Change May Fail, b, Nov. 20, 2017. The Saudi clown prince Mohammad Bin Salman is an impulsive tyrant. But what accounts for his urge to purge the country of any potential competing power center? Why does he run a such an activist foreign policy?
The answer might be Iran. Not Iran the country, but Iran the system. Since the U.S. war on Iraq the sclerotic Saudi Arabia continuously lost standing in its region. The Iranian model gained ground.
More on Moore
CNN, Alabama’s biggest newspapers urge voters to ‘reject Roy Moore,’ Brian Stelter, Nov. 19, 2017. The three biggest newspapers in Alabama have a message for their readers: “Stand for Decency, Reject Roy Moore.” The Alabama Media Group stripped the editorial across its Sunday front pages. The unusual step comes 10 days after misconduct allegations first surfaced against Moore, the Republican nominee for the state’s Senate seat.
The editorial doubles as an endorsement of Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones. It appears in The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and The Huntsville Times and it is prominently featured on the papers’ shared website AL.com.
“This is an important moment in Alabama and America, and we felt such treatment was in line with what is at stake in this race,” Michelle Holmes, the VP of content for AL.com, told CNNMoney early Sunday. The election is 23 days away.
The papers previously said that Moore was “grossly unfit” for office, but they stopped short of endorsing Jones.
Now the joint editorial board says that “there is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.” The editorial concludes: “The voters must make their voices heard.”
Washington Post, Collins airs concern about harassment charges against the president, Sarah Kaplan and Sean Sullivan, Nov. 19, 2017. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) went further Sunday than most of her Republican colleagues in expressing worry about the sexual assault allegations against President Trump, saying they were one of the reasons she did not vote for him.
“Those allegations remain very disturbing,” Collins said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” She noted that she did not support Trump in the 2016 campaign in part because of news reports about women accusing him of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has denied those allegations, which include 12 women detailing incidents that occurred over many years.
With allegations emerging against officials from both political parties, few are like Collins — willing to discuss harassment within their own party’s ranks. That same day, Trump took to Twitter to condemn the Democratic senator. That put White House officials in the awkward position of explaining why Trump quickly addressed the claim against Franken but not the allegations against Roy Moore, Alabama’s Republican candidate for Senate.
Crime, Drugs, Health Around the Nation
Washington Post, Counterfeit opioid pills are tricking users — sometimes with lethal results, Katie Zezima, Nov. 19, 2017.–More than two dozen patients were rushed into an emergency room in Macon, Ga., over two days with the same array of life-threatening symptoms, including organ failure and sepsis, flummoxing doctors. But after their breathing tubes were removed, the patients revealed a common thread: All had taken what they believed were Percocet pills they had bought on the street.
Although they looked like the prescription painkillers at first glance, the pills they took were nothing like what they expected. They were fakes, an amalgam of substances — including one never before seen in Georgia — pressed into a pill that mimicked those a doctor would prescribe. Instead of a low dose of Percocet, the users were slammed with a near-lethal combination of other drugs, including U-47700, a synthetic opioid the Drug Enforcement Administration said has been linked to dozens of deaths.
“I’d never seen any medication or drug present with multi-organ failure, mimicking stroke, sepsis, all at the same time,” said Gregory Whatley, an emergency room doctor at Navicent Health in Macon who called Georgia Poison Control after realizing multiple patients took the same small yellow pills. “Not to be cavalier, it was a real killer.”
Law enforcement officials and medical professionals say that counterfeit opioid pills like those found in Macon have been flooding the illicit drug market and have been sickening — and killing — those who are seeking out powerful prescription drugs amid a worsening national opioid crisis. There is widespread fear that users who believe the prescription drugs are safe — because they are quality-controlled products of a regulated industry — could now unwittingly end up ingesting potent cocktails of unknown substances. In many places, the pills contain fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is driving a nationwide surge in overdose deaths.
Washington Post, Amid questions about the line between free speech and rioting, trial to begin in Inauguration Day protest, Paul Duggan and Keith L. Alexander, Nov. 19, 2017. Trials set to begin for Inauguration Day riots in downtown D.C. Prosecutors charged 212 people in connection with riots on Jan. 20 during the inauguration of President Trump. This will be no ordinary trial, set to begin Monday before Judge Lynn Leibovitz in D.C. Superior Court. It is unusual not only for the abundance of young activists who showed up to watch jury selection — earnestly scribbling notes in support of the accused — but because the six defendants are the first to be called to be accountable in a fiery, glass-shattering civil disturbance on President Trump’s Inauguration Day.
Many more trials stemming from the rioting could lie ahead. The protesters called their Jan. 20 demonstration “Disrupt J20.” By the hundreds that morning, clad in dark clothing, their faces hidden, they marched from Logan Circle to the Franklin Square area in downtown Washington. They came in waves, smashing windows, painting graffiti, toppling newspaper boxes and setting mostly small fires — except for a blaze that consumed a limousine.
The defendants face felony charges of inciting a riot and destruction of property, with each offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. As for others arrested in the mayhem that day, the U.S. attorney’s office said it intends to put more than 150 additional defendants on trial in groups of about a half dozen, a process that could stretch into the middle of next year.
Washington Post, Deep State Pro-War Opinion: The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria, Josh Rogin, Nov. 19, 2017. While the Trump administration celebrates a new deal meant to freeze the battlefield in southern Syria, the Assad regime and Iran are preparing for the next phase of the long-running war, in which they will attempt to conquer the rest of the country. Whether Iran succeeds depends largely on whether the United States acknowledges and then counters that strategy.
Washington Post, Charles Manson 1934–2017, Paul Valentine, Nov. 20, 2017. Fiery-eyed cult leader whose savagery shocked the nation dies at 83. Manson, who with his followers came to symbolize the dark excesses of the 1960s, died while serving a life sentence for a bloody two-night rampage in Los Angeles that left seven people dead, including Hollywood starlet Sharon Tate.
Global News: Analysis of Syria
SouthFront, Syrian War: Al-Bukamal Is Liberated. What Now? Staff report, Nov. 19, 2017. This analysis originally appeared at southfront.org on November 11, 2017, after the Syrian and Russian defense ministries for the first time announced the liberation of al-Bukamal. On November 19, the Syrian Arab Army and its allies once again liberated the city from ISIS. Thus, the terrorist group lost its last stronghold in Syria.
The liberation of al-Bukamal become another turning point marking the start of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. ISIS has lost all important cities, which it used to control in Syria, thus becoming just a terrorist group rather than a terrorist state.
The terrorist group still controls some villages in an area between al-Bukamal and Deir Ezzor, a part of the border between Syria and Iraq, a part of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus and a chunk of territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Many ISIS members are now fleeing the country in an attempt to reach safe havens around the world. The remaining terrorists will be involved in a guerilla war against the Syrian government and US-backed forces.
Global News: Future of Israel, Saudi Arabia
SouthFront, Military Situation In Syria And Iraq (Map Update), Staff report, Nov. 20, 2017. This map provides a general look at the military situation in Syria and Iraq on Nov. 20, 2017,
Strategic Culture Foundation via SouthFront, Saudi-Israeli Friendship Is Driving the Rest of the Middle East Together, Federico Pieraccini, Nov. 20, 2017. Through its top official, Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS, shown at right), Saudi Arabia continues a wave of internal arrests, having seized nearly $800 billion in assets and bank accounts. A few days later, MBS attempted to demonstrate his authority by summoning Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Saudi Arabia, where he was forced to resign on Saudi state TV. Trump tweeted support for Bin Salman’s accusations against Iran and Hezbollah, and the future Saudi king even obtained Israel’s secret support….
In recent months, the Russian and Iranian militaries, together with the Chinese economic grip on the region, have shown a collective intention to replace years of war, death and chaos with peace, prosperity and wealth.
MBS and Netanyahu are having a hard time dealing with this new environment that will inevitably proclaim Iran the hegemon in the region. Time is running out for Israel and Saudi Arabia, and both countries are faced with enormous internal problems while being unable to change the course of events in the region without the full intervention of their American ally, something practically impossible nowadays.
The new course of the multipolar world, together with Trump’s America First policy, seems to have hit hardest those countries that placed all their bets on the continuing economic and military dominance of the United States in the region. Other countries like Qatar, Lebanon and Turkey have started to understand the historical change that is going on, and have slowly been making the switch, realizing in the process the benefits of a multipolar world order, which is more conducive to mutually beneficial cooperation between countries.
The more Saudi Arabia and Israel push for war against Iran, the more they will isolate themselves. This will serve to push their own existence to the brink of extinction.
Moon of Alabama, Is Satire “Fakenews”? – How Fact-Checkers Peddle Snake-Oil, B, Nov. 18, 2017. Since the issues of alleged “fake news” and “Russian influence” have cropped up, several media institutions highlight their public fact-checkers. Social media companies hire them to filter “fake news” from their content.
Traditional fact-checkers within a newsroom considered the veracity of the pieces their own reporters wrote up. They corrected factual mistakes before those were printed or aired. The new crop of fact-checker is testing the veracity of claims made other media outlets and public entities.
The Tampa Bay Times’s PolitiFact is one of the oldest and biggest of these organizations. It was founded in 2007 and has offices in several states. Like all such entities it has a certain political flavor. Thus the supposedly neutral fact-checking site PolitiFact gets fact check by a site named PolitiFact Bias.
Last week Amy Sherman wrote an important piece for PolitiFact. Facebook users had pointed her to this month old report about a military court case.
Global News: Middle East
Consortium News, Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels, Alastair Crooke, Nov. 17, 2017. President Trump and his son-in-law bet that the young Saudi crown prince could execute a plan to reshape the Mideast, but the scheme quickly unraveled revealing a dangerous amateur hour, writes an ex-British diplomat.Nov. 16
Washington Post, Senate bill would cut taxes for millionaires but hike them for the poor, working class, report shows, Heather Long, Nov. 16, 2017. President Trump and GOP lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for working Americans, but a report released by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official analysts, casts serious doubt on that claim.
U.S. Senate Corruption Case Mistrial
Roll Call, Judge Declares Mistrial in Menendez Case, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 16, 2017. A federal judge is declaring a mistrial in the federal corruption case against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, after a New Jersey jury was declared hopelessly deadlocked on all counts. The mistrial leaves prosecutors to explore their options over Thanksgiving, and brings an unresolved conclusion to a trial that went on weeks longer than anticipated.
Menendez (shown at right) had faced 18 counts of charges relating to public corruption, including honest services fraud after being alleged to have accepted bribes in the forms of gifts from South Florida opthamologist Dr. Salomon Melgen. Melgen, who was tried in the case, was convicted by the same jury.
All told, prosecutors alleged that more than $700,000 in campaign contributions, as well as other personal presents like vacations and flights on Melgen’s private jet, were part of a scheme to get the senator to provide inappropriate favors and assistance to Melgen, including help with the Department of Health and Human Services over Medicare billing issues. A separate jury in Florida convicted Melgen on 67 counts related to his Medicare scheme earlier this year. He already faced 15 to 20 years in prison on those convictions.
Moore on Moore In Alabama
New York Times, Four Women Accuse Moore as Campaign Pushes Back, Alan Blinder, Nov. 16, 2017 (print edition). At a news conference, a lawyer for the Senate nominee Roy S. Moore suggested that a purported yearbook message to one of his accusers may have been a forgery.
Weinstein Sex Harassment Scandal Broadens To Law Firm/Private Eye
New York Times, Deception and Ruses Fill the Toolkit of Weinstein’s Agents, Matthew Goldstein and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 16, 2017 (print edition). Black Cube, an investigative firm hired to ferret out information about one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, used an elaborate ruse involving a fake job interview in another case. (Weinstein is shown in a file photo.)
Until 10 days ago, Black Cube, a private investigation firm established in 2010 by former intelligence analysts from the Israeli Defense Forces, was largely unknown in the United States. Many lawyers said they had never heard of the firm, which is not licensed in New York.
But Black Cube was thrust into the spotlight last week when The New Yorker revealed that the producer Harvey Weinstein had hired the firm to look into the background of the actress Rose McGowan, who was writing a book about her experiences with him, including a claim that he had sexually assaulted her.
Law firms routinely use private investigators to collect information to help them argue civil and criminal cases in and out of court. These investigators sometimes use deception and elaborate ruses to root out secrets or private information. Black Cube’s work for Mr. Weinstein, and the cinematic scenarios it created with its fabricated job interviews in London, provides a rare look at the lengths some firms will go to, using tradecraft that pushes the boundaries.
The contract under which Black Cube worked for Mr. Weinstein — signed in July by his lawyer David Boies (shown above right) — provided for deceptive techniques that included the hiring of “an investigative journalist” who was to conduct 40 interviews over four months as part of a scheme intended, in part, to block the publication of a New York Times article about Mr. Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct.
Radio Host Claims Harassment Against Minnesota Senator
Roll Call, Ethics Committee Should Review Franken Allegations, McConnell Says, Niels Lesniewski, Nov 16, 2017. LA radio host accuses Franken of sexual misconduct. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Al Franken.
“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement to Roll Call. “I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”
A Los Angeles morning radio news host accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her in an open letter on her station’s website.
Washington Post, Broadcaster says Al Franken ‘kissed and groped me without my consent’ at 2006 USO event, J. Freedom du Lac, Lindsey Bever and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Nov. 16, 2017. In a story for a Los Angeles radio station, Leeann Tweeden included a photo of Franken posing with his hands over her chest while she slept. Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, apologized.
Global News: Africa
New York Times, With Mugabe’s Era Ending in Zimbabwe, a Warning Echoes in Africa, Norimitsu Onishi and Alan Cowell, Nov. 16, 2017 (print edition). When Zimbabwe’s generals moved against President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday, their action foreshadowed the potential end of more than just one political career. It echoed across a continent where the notion of the “big man” leader is defined equally by the lure of power in perpetuity and the risk that, one day, the edifice will crumble under the weight of its own decay.
Mr. Mugabe, 93 (shown at left in 2015), who took power upon independence from Britain in 1980, is the only leader Zimbabwe (shown above as a flag imposed on its map) has known. He has suppressed perceived threats to his dominance, often brutally, and maneuvered with guile to outflank his rivals. Decades after the furling of Britain’s union flag, he waved his liberation credentials with such skill and frequency that he stood as an emblem, however flawed, of Africa’s yearning to be free of outside control.
Viewing himself as Africa’s true statesman, Mr. Mugabe, even in his 90s, flew regularly to diplomatic gatherings on the continent, including mundane ones in which he was sometimes the only head of state present. Though he is despised in the West and by many Zimbabweans, many Africans view him as a living, historic figure, inspiring diplomats and officials to stand and applaud his speeches criticizing Western powers.
In the end, though, his deft touch deserted him as he weighed the question looming over the end of his regime: who would succeed him. By favoring his polarizing and politically inexperienced wife over his powerful vice president, whom he fired last week, Mr. Mugabe overestimated the loyalty of the military and security elite who took him into custody early Wednesday in what appeared to be a coup.
Oliver Stone Assesses JFK Disclosures
The Wrap, Oliver Stone on Release of JFK Assassination Files: ‘Trump Got Rolled’ by ‘Deep State,’ Oliver Stone, Nov. 15, 2017. “As with everything else in the ‘Deep State,’ the Chief Priests told him, ‘You can’t do that,’” the filmmaker writes. I’ve been wrestling with how to deal with my response to these newly released files on the JFK assassination. Many people have asked me about my reaction to this release, and I’ve gleaned what I can from a very complicated release.
1. Trump got rolled. I think he truly wanted a release of all files, but as with everything else in the “Deep State,” the Chief Priests told him, “You can’t do that” and cited as cause “national security,” etc.; the et cetera going back to 1963.
2. The release was designed to be a mess. The rollout of deleted/undeleted/no longer redacted, and often illegible materials is meant to assure us that “you see, there’s nothing here.”
3. But some “stuff” has come to the surface like scum on a pond; the CIA/Angleton/Oswald file clearly goes back to 1959, and [former CIA head of counterintelligence James] Angleton clearly had a special interest in Oswald.Jeff Morley, who’s written a new biography of Angleton (“The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton,” St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and also works as the editor of JFK Facts, explains Oswald as a “marked card” in the game, i.e. a soldier/pawn to be used as needed, which, to my mind, very well fits the Oswald profile. (See full article for the rest of his seven points and conclusion.)
More on Moore in Alabama
Washington Post, Two more women describe unwanted overtures by Roy Moore at Ala. mall, Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, Nov. 15, 2017. Women who worked at the Gadsden Mall in the late 1970s said the visits from Moore, now a Senate candidate, caused young women in one store to “draw straws” to decide who would deal with him and another to hide when he came into the Sears store where she worked
Washington Post, Senate Republicans look to Trump to restore order amid Alabama upheaval, Sean Sullivan, Philip Rucker and David Weigel, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition). After days of forcefully repudiating Roy Moore and urging him to withdraw to no avail, Senate Republican leaders increasingly see the president as the key to restoring some order to a race that has spiraled out of their control. See also: Washington Post, Kayla Moore emerges as her husband’s fiercest and most vocal defender.
Washington Post, GOP tax plan in trouble after key Republican senator says he won’t back it, Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition). Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he will not support the emerging GOP tax plan because it disproportionately benefits corporations at the expense of other businesses, a stance that signals major trouble for party leaders.Washington Post.
Vanity Fair, Trump’s Commerce Secretary Allegedly a Liar and a Thief, Bess Levin, Nov. 15, 2017. Not only is Wilbur Ross (shown at right) a fake billionaire, but three of his former colleagues now allege he bilked them out of millions.
Though by the ripe age of 79, Wilbur Ross had (seemingly) amassed a fortune large enough to leave most people content to never work again, when Donald Trump tapped the former Wall Street heavyweight to be his commerce secretary, Ross jumped at the chance. His new Cabinet job meant he was not just rich, but also powerful.
And given his persona as a velvet-slipper-wearing, Wall Street fraternity-chairing out-of-touch plutocrat who has previously suggested that the unwashed masses quit their bitching about income inequality and leave the the 1 percent alone, the prospect of power was surely appealing. Unfortunately for Ross, the transition to public servant has not gone quite as smoothly as he would have hoped.
After a few pleasant months in which he got to tag along with the president to Saudi Arabia; enjoyed the “after-dinner entertainment” of bombing Syria; and came up with an idea to throw a cocktail party to convince high-school students to work in factories, Ross’s time in the sun was brought to a screeching halt last week when it emerged that: 1) he had failed to disclose [an investment in a Russian shipping company linked to a guy named Vladimir Putin, and 2) he may have been lying about his net worth for more than a decade. While the former detail would give most people the greatest cause for concern, the latter has assuredly cost the “King of Bankruptcy” more sleepless nights.
As the days wear on the situation has only worsened, with Bloomberg having the audacity to run a story entitled, “We’re Cutting Our Calculation of Wilbur Ross’s Net Worth to $860 Million.” And the fun hasn’t stopped there—on Wednesday, the secretary of the Commerce Department was accused by several of his former colleagues of cheating them out of millions.
Forbes’s Dan Alexander, who broke the news that Ross is not actually a billionaire, reports that a trio of Ross’s ex-longtime colleagues at his private equity shop, WL Ross & Co., have sued the secretary and the firm for allegedly charging at least $48 million in improper management fees and pocketing the money.
According to David Storper, David Wax, and Pamela Wilson, as general partners they were required to make “significant investments in return for rights to a share of the profits and other gains” in entities formed to handle equity funds. Ross and his namesake company, they contend, “‘blatantly violated’ their obligations to make sure the entities received the appropriate benefits, charged them millions in fees at rates that exceeded what they could charge investors, took the fees for themselves, and completely concealed their conduct.”
All told, not a great look! In addition to the most recent suit, which was filed not by low-level employees but by the company’s former No. 2, (Storper), its former No. 3 (Wax), and a former senior vice president (Wilson), Ross has been in litigation with Storper since 2015, with Storper alleging the commerce secretary “stole his interests after he left the firm.”
(Ross has denied the allegations.) There’s also a suit by Joseph Mullin a former executive who alleged in January that Ross “wrongfully seized $3.6 million belonging to him.”
Neither the Commerce Department nor WL Ross & Co., now owned by Invesco, returned the Hive’s requests for comment.
The Intercept, Dakota Access Pipeline Company Paid Mercenaries to Build Conspiracy Lawsuit Against Environmentalists, Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri, Nov. 15, 2017. The private security firm TigerSwan worked to build a RICO suit accusing Greenpeace, Earth First, and BankTrack of inciting protests to increase donations.
The private security firm TigerSwan, hired by Energy Transfer Partners to protect the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, was paid to gather information for what would become a sprawling conspiracy lawsuit accusing environmentalist groups of inciting the anti-pipeline protests in an effort to increase donations, three former TigerSwan contractors told The Intercept.
For months, a conference room wall at TigerSwan’s Apex, North Carolina, headquarters was covered with a web-like map of funding nodes the firm believed it had uncovered — linking billionaire backers to nonprofit organizations to pipeline opponents protesting at Standing Rock. It was a “showpiece” for board members and ETP executives, according to a former TigerSwan contractor — part of a project that had little to do with the pipeline’s physical security.
In August, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz (right), Donald Trump’s personal attorney for more than a decade, filed a 187-page racketeering complaint against Greenpeace, Earth First, and the divestment group BankTrack in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota, seeking $300 million in damages on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners. The NoDAPL movement, the suit claims, was driven by “a network of putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims.”
Courts, Crime: Political Prosecution In Missouri, Part II
Legal Schnauzer, The political prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks: How can you be charged with securities fraud when the transaction in question did not involve a security? Roger Shuler, Nov. 15, 2017. How weak is the securities fraud case against Missouri attorney and whistle blower Paul Benton Weeks? Well, the underlying transaction apparently did not involve a “security.” And even if it did, prosecutors brought the case way past the statute of limitations.
If that sounds familiar to Legal Schnauzer readers, that’s because it is reminiscent of the Don Siegelman case. In that fiasco, there was no evidence of an explicit quid pro quo (“something for something” deal), which is the central element in a federal funds bribery case — and Judge Mark Fuller did not even give the jury an instruction that required an explicit quid pro quo. That’s why we’ve written so many times that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were convicted of a crime that doesn’t exist. To make matters even more outrageous, federal prosecutors brought the case almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired.
So, it’s ironic that Weeks (showin in a portrait with his son) — whose searing affidavit helped undress Fuller as a government-sponsored con artist — is facing the kind of slipshod prosecution that Siegelman had to confront.
As an initial matter, you would expect a “securities fraud” case to involve a “security.” But, in Missouri, you would be wrong — especially if your name is Paul Weeks and you’ve made it a habit to shine light on government and court-related abuses.
Election Suspicions In Virginia
Washington Post, All at once, dozens of ballots arrived hours too late in tight Va. House race, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition). They needed to arrive by the time polls closed in order to be counted in a tight delegate race that could decide whether Republicans hang on to power. Stafford County’s registrar, whose office checked with the post office hourly, thought something had gone wrong when 55 landed at once.
Washington Post, ‘It’s grotesque’: Justice Dept. veterans recoil at idea of another special counsel, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition). Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s public suggestion of a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton has alarmed current and former Justice officials who fear it would further politicize the agency. “I think the vast majority of people at DOJ would be completely disgusted and demoralized by it,” one former deputy special counsel said.
Moore on Moore Alabama Scandal
Washington Post, Even Sean Hannity has had it with Roy Moore, gives candidate 24 hours to explain ‘inconsistencies,’ Samantha Schmidt, Nov. 15, 2017. Fox News host Sean Hannity has given up defending Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, telling viewers Tuesday night the judge has “24 hours” to explain conflicting answers to the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
“You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies,” Hannity said. “You must remove any doubt. If he can’t do this, then Judge Moore (shown at left in a campaign speech) needs to get out of this race.”
Hannity’s escalated remarks came days after critics bashed the conservative host for appearing to defend Moore and suggesting that the accusations against him might be false. The wave of criticism prompted coffeemaker company Keurig and other sponsors to say they would no longer be advertising on Hannity’s Fox News show.
Crime and Cops: Around the Nation
Washington Post, 4 dead after gunman ‘randomly picking targets’ shoots at California elementary school, other locations, Mark Berman, Susan Svrluga and Ellie Silverman, Nov. 15, 2017. Police did not immediately identify a motive for the attack, though they said it was apparently preceded by a dispute the shooter, who was identified as Kevin Neal, had with a neighbor.
Contracting Scandal After Puerto Rican Disaster?
Washington Post, Puerto Rico’s bankrupt utility agreed to pay Whitefish Energy double what linemen make, documents show, Aaron C. Davis and Steven Mufson, Nov. 15, 2017(print edition). As blackout continues, U.S. territory is continuing to pay millions to a tiny Montana firm.
Washington Post, Donald Trump Jr.’s incredible history of dumb decisions, Dana Milbank (right), Nov. 15, 2017(print edition). With all the documentation of Russian collusion piling up, President Trump’s best excuse may be that his people were too incompetent to organize a conspiracy. Luckily for him, an innocent-by-reason-of-stupidity defense has the virtue of being plausible. For example, there is clear and compelling evidence that Donald Trump Jr. is dumb as a post.
Justice Department Controversies
New York Times, Justice Dept. to Weigh Inquiry Into Clinton Foundation, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 14, 2017 (print edition). Officials are looking into whether a special counsel should investigate reports of misconduct at the foundation, as well as the Obama administration’s uranium deal with Russia.It raises questions about whether President Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the investigation into his presidential campaign.
New York Times, Analysis: Trump Shatters Longstanding Norms by Pressing for Clinton Investigation, Peter Baker, Nov. 14, 2017. President Trump did not need to send a memo or telephone his attorney general to make his desires known. He broadcast them for all the world to see on Twitter. The instruction was clear: The Justice Department should investigate his defeated opponent from last year’s campaign. (Bill and Hillary Clinton are shown often reproduced by right-wing activists to portray the Clinton Foundation as a sinister organization.)
However they were delivered, Mr. Trump’s demands have ricocheted through the halls of the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now ordered career prosecutors to evaluate various accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate her.
Mr. Sessions (shown at right) has made no decision, and in soliciting the assessment of department lawyers, he may be seeking a way out of the bind his boss has put him in by effectively putting the matter in the hands of professionals who were not politically appointed. But if he or his deputy authorizes a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter norms established after Watergate that are intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals.
The request alone was enough to trigger a political backlash, as critics of Mr. Trump quickly decried what they called “banana republic” politics of retribution, akin to autocratic backwater nations where election losers are jailed by winners. The issue will almost certainly energize what was already shaping up to be a contentious hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning, when Mr. Sessions is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
New York Times, Sessions Is in Hot Seat Today About Russian Contacts, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 14, 2017. Nov. 14, 2017. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is almost certain to be asked to clarify his past statements in light of disclosures that members of the Trump campaign had contacts with Russia. He will testify at 10 a.m. Eastern before the House Judiciary Committee.
Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, an Army Green Beret, was strangled in the Malian capital, Bamako. Credit U.S. Army
New York Times, Navy SEALs Investigated in Green Beret’s Death Also Under Scrutiny in Theft, John Ismay, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons, Nov. 14, 2017 (print edition). Two Navy SEAL commandos under investigation in the strangling of an Army Green Beret soldier in June in Mali have also been under scrutiny in the theft of money from a fund used to pay confidential informants, according to three service members briefed on the matter.
One Navy official said that military authorities investigated the allegations this year and concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any criminal or other disciplinary action against the commandos, who are members of the elite SEAL Team 6. But another former member of the unit said the inquiry was continuing.
The revelations may shed light on a possible motive in the death of Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a 34-year-old veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, in the embassy housing he shared in the Malian capital, Bamako, with the two Navy commandos, who were on a secret counterterrorism mission in the impoverished West African nation.
Sergeant Melgar’s killing is the latest violent death under mysterious circumstances for American troops on little-known missions in that region of Africa. Four American soldiers were killed in an ambush last month in neighboring Niger while conducting what was initially described as a reconnaissance patrol but was later changed to supporting a much more dangerous counterterrorism mission against Islamic militants in the area.
Washington Post, Senate GOP to add repeal of Obamacare insurance mandate into tax bill, Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta, Nov. 14, 2017. Senate Republican leaders will include a major change to their fast-moving tax cut bill that would repeal a key plank of the Affordable Care Act, trying to accomplish two of their top domestic priorities in one piece of legislation.
Roll Call, Current Lawmakers Have Sexually Harassed Staffers, Speier Alleges, Erin Bacon, Nov. 14, 2017. Comstock tells of lawmaker who greeted a former staffer wearing only a towel Two current lawmakers allegedly have sexually harassed congressional staff in the past. And a former staffer reportedly asked to deliver papers to a member’s home was greeted by him wearing only a towel.
That’s what California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier and Republican Barbara Comstock of Virginia recounted during a hearing by the House Administration Committee on sexual harassment Tuesday.
Such allegations are rare. Members of Congress seldom criticize colleagues for misconduct, especially when the allegation is sexual harassment. Speier and Comstock’s accounts are among dozens detailing a hostile and predatory environment for female staffers that have emerged after accusations targeting Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein seemingly broke through a conspiracy of silence pervasive in many of the nation’s most respected and influential institutions.
Accusations involving current and former members of Congress and staff have reinvigorated efforts to provide more protections for victims on the Hill. But so far, no prominent lawmakers have been named.
Washington Post, That judicial nominee who’s never tried a case also failed to disclose that his wife works for the White House, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 14, 2017 (print edition). In a Senate questionnaire designed to identify potential conflicts of interest, Brett J. Talley did not mention that he is married to Annie Donaldson, chief of staff for White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II.
New York Times, Journalist Swept Up in Inauguration Day Arrests Faces Trial, Jaclyn Peiser, Nov. 14, 2017. “The police used the actions of a few window breakers as an excuse of a mass roundup,” said Scott Michelman, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.On Jan. 20, the day Donald J. Trump was being sworn in as president in front of the Capitol, a limousine was set on fire and storefront windows were smashed nearby. Officers in riot gear from the Washington Metropolitan Police moved in and arrested 230 people — including nine journalists — at the protests, which were organized in part by an activist group called Disrupt J20.
Since then, the charges against seven of the nine journalists have been dropped. The two who are still scheduled to stand trial in Superior Court of the District of Columbia are Aaron Cantú, a staff reporter at The Santa Fe Reporter in New Mexico who worked as a freelancer in January, and Alexei Wood, a freelance photojournalist and videographer based in San Antonio.Mr. Cantú, 29, is scheduled to go before a judge in October. The trial for Mr. Wood, 37, is scheduled for Wednesday.
Mr. Wood is charged with several felonies, including rioting and destruction of property. He faces up to 61 years in prison if convicted, said his lawyer, Brett E. Cohen.
“The government has not informed me as to why Mr. Wood’s case involved any greater degree of culpability than of the other journalists who were ultimately not charged,” Mr. Cohen said in an email.On his website, Mr. Wood said that “resistance cultures and conflicts” were his beat. He works as a commercial photographer on the side, his lawyer said.
The other journalists arrested at K and 12th Streets on Jan. 20 were Evan Engel, a senior producer at Vocativ; Jack Keller, a producer of the web documentary series “Story of America”; Matthew Hopard, a freelance photojournalist whose work has been published by The New York Times and Fox News; Alexander Stokes, an independent journalist who has a show on a public access news channel in Albany; Cheney Orr, a freelance photographer; Alexander Rubinstein, a reporter with RT America; and Shay Horse, a freelance photojournalist whose work has been published by Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera America and other outlets.
This law enforcement tactic of arresting people in large numbers at protests — known as kettling — was used in Toronto during a Group of 20 protest in 2010 and during more recent demonstrations in North Dakota and St. Louis.In those instances, it seemed that police officers did not distinguish between the alleged lawbreakers and those covering the events. Afterward, Ms. Ellerbeck said, journalists were “forced through a legal process that is expensive and arduous and scary — and all the more so if you’re a freelance journalist.”
More on Moore, Alabama Corruption
Beverly Young Nelson, center, with her attorney Gloria Allred at press conference on Nov. 13, 2017
Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Beverly Young Nelson’s statements unmask Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions, and Mitch McConnell as a GOP version of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, Roger Shuler, Nov. 14, 2017. Yesterday’s revelations that a fifth Alabama woman had come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore go way beyond groping, a forced attempt at oral sex, and other disgusting acts. The statements from Beverly Young Nelson shine a white hot light on the moral rot at the center of the postmodern GOP. Nelson added to the mountain of evidence that the “conservative movement” is filled with rogues — Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, to name a few — who are a political version of the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.”
Nelson’s words about a 1977 encounter with Moore outside the Old Hickory House restaurant went way beyond the statements of earlier accusers. Before yesterday, Moore had been depicted as a creepy guy who approached under-aged girls at a courthouse or a mall and wound up making inappropriate physical contact with them. Nelson, on the other hand, described a sexual assault.
Evidence is mounting that Moore has engaged in sins of the flesh. But his greatest sin might be arrogance. Moore has spent the past 25 years trying to con Alabamians into believing he is a man of God because of his propensity to tout The 10 Commandments with every other breath. The con game worked well enough that he twice was elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and he probably could have held that position for a lifetime. But Moore had to defy higher-court rulings, causing him to twice be booted from his chief justice role.
The Alabama press had shown no ability, or interest, in unearthing the dark secrets in Moore’s past, so he probably would have been secure had he remained in a statewide position. But arrogance — and an exalted belief in his own abilities — caused Moore to seek a nationwide slot in the U.S. Senate. And that drew the attention of Washington Post reporters, who exposed Moore’s taste for the tender flesh of teen girls.
Digging Deeper Into JFK Assassination and Lover’s Murder
CAPA, South Texas College of Law Houston Hosts Two-Day Mock Trial: ‘State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald’ with World-Renowned JFK Assassination Experts, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 14, 2017. Media Advisory: The courtroom drama that never occurred now will be held live… featuring world-renowned JFK assassination experts.
WhoWhatWhy, Anatomy of a CIA Assassination, Part 1, Peter Janney, Nov. 14, 2017. The author finds out more and more about the elusive man who may have murdered President John F. Kennedy’s mistress. Who killed President John F. Kennedy’s mistress, and why?
In searching for the answers to this mystery, author Peter Janney came upon what seem to be the jagged fragments of an even bigger picture.
Previously, we posted excerpts from Janney’s remarkable book on the murder of Kennedy’s mistress, Mary Pinchot Meyer — Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace: Third Edition (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016). The excerpts were from Chapter 2, which we broke up into three parts, here, here, and here.
We now present the first of two more excerpts, taken from Chapter 12 (but with added subheading).
Global News: Fake News?
SouthFront, Russian Military Released Fake Photos Showing ISIS Withdrawal From Al-Bukamal, Staff report, Nov. 14, 2017. On November 14, the Russian Defense Ministry released a series of photos allegedly showing an ISIS withdrawal from the Syrian city of al-Bukamal. The ministry said that the US-led coalition assisted the ISIS terrorists withdrawing from the city. However, the photos were fake.
BBC Exclusive: U.S., Allies Allowed Hundreds of ISIS Terrorists, Thousands Of Family To Escape Raqqa — and Spread New Terror?
BBC, Raqqa’s dirty secret, Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati, Nov. 2017.The BBC (former British Broadcasting Corp.) has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city. A convoy included some of IS’s most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey.
Lorry driver Abu Fawzi thought it was going to be just another job. He drives an 18-wheeler across some of the most dangerous territory in northern Syria. Bombed-out bridges, deep desert sand, even government forces and so-called Islamic State fighters don’t stand in the way of a delivery.
But this time, his load was to be human cargo. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters opposed to IS, wanted him to lead a convoy that would take hundreds of families displaced by fighting from the town of Tabqa on the Euphrates river to a camp further north.
The job would take six hours, maximum – or at least that’s what he was told. The drivers point to a white truck being worked on in the corner of the yard. “Its axle was broken because of the weight of the ammo,” says Abu Fawzi.
This wasn’t so much an evacuation — it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State. The SDF didn’t want the retreat from Raqqa to look like an escape to victory. No flags or banners would be allowed to be flown from the convoy as it left the city, the deal stipulated.
It was also understood that no foreigners would be allowed to leave Raqqa alive.Back in May, US Defence Secretary James Mattis (shown above right) described the fight against IS as a war of “annihilation.”
“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa,” he said. “We are not going to allow them to do so,” he said on US television.
But foreign fighters – those not from Syria and Iraq – were also able to join the convoy, according to the drivers. One explains:”There was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt…” Other drivers chipped in with the names of different nationalities.
In light of the BBC investigation, the coalition now admits the part it played in the deal. Some 250 IS fighters were allowed to leave Raqqa, with 3,500 of their family members. “We didn’t want anyone to leave,” says Col. Ryan Dillon (shown at left), spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (Central Command), the Western coalition against IS.
“But this goes to the heart of our strategy, ‘by, with and through’ local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations,” he says.
While a Western officer was present for the negotiations, they didn’t take an “active part” in the discussions. Col Dillon maintains, though, that only four foreign fighters left and they are now in SDF custody.
ISIS in Syria/Iraq: A Reminder: American journalist James Foley is beheaded by ISIS, helping inflame Americans for years of warfare against the shadowy group ISIS whose origins are seldom reported by Western media
More Sex Scandal For Moore, Alabama Nominee
Beverly Young Nelson, center, with her attorney Gloria Allred at press conference on Nov. 13, 2017
Washington Post, New accuser says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, Jenna Johnson and Robert Costa, Nov. 13, 2017. Beverly Young Nelson, now 55, said that Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP nominee for Senate shown at right in a campaign photo, groped her and bruised her neck in the late 1970s. “I thought that he was going to rape me,” she said at a news conference.
Washington Post, McConnell, Senate GOP campaign chief repudiate Roy Moore’s candidacy following allegations of sexual misconduct with teen, Sean Sullivan and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 13, 2017. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner said Alabama GOP nominee Roy Moore is “unfit to serve.” The repudiation follows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments that Moore, who is accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, should step aside. “I believe the women,” McConnell said.
- Washington Post, The Fix: The GOP dam is breaking against Roy Moore, Nov. 13, 2017.
- Washington Post, Perspective: The ugly echo chamber of Hannity and Breitbart is why women wait so long to report abuse, Nov. 13, 2017.
Washington Post, Moore seeks to refocus campaign on conservative religious values amid firestorm, Elise Viebeck, Dino Grandoni and John Wagner, Nov. 13, 2017. Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama (below in a campaign photo earlier in the campaign as he showed off his gun) sought to refocus his campaign on the conservative religious ideals most likely to motivate his base voters, dismissing the national firestorm over allegations that he pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Addressing a gathering at the Huntsville Christian Academy in Huntsville, Ala., on Sunday night, the former judge (shown above in a campaign photo) suggested that he was investigating his accusers, threatened to sue The Washington Post and called on the United States to restore its culture by going “back to God.”
“We can be proud of where we came from and where we’re going if we go back to God,” Moore said at his second public event since The Post reported the allegations of misconduct last week. “If we go back to God, we can be unified again,” he said.
New York Times, White House Urges Caution on Judging Roy Moore, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 13, 2017. Officials said that Mr. Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of pursuing romantic relationships with teenagers, should be allowed to defend himself. Senate Republicans appeared to have largely abandoned his candidacy.
More On Moore
New Yorker, Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall, Charles Bethea, Nov. 13, 2017. Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was born in Gadsden, a small city flanked by Interstate 59 and the Coosa River, an hour northeast of Birmingham.
Gadsden is hilly, woodsy, blue-collar, and religious. “LEGAL OR NOT, SIN IS SIN,” a sign in front of a church announced yesterday.
I saw it as I drove around, crisscrossing George Wallace Drive. I also saw Trump posters, Confederate flags, and dozens of signs for Doug Jones, the Democrat tied with Moore in recent Senate-race polls.
Gadsden is the seat of Etowah County, which is a conservative place; Donald Trump received three times as many votes in the county as Hillary Clinton did. (Statewide, he received twice as many.) But I didn’t, in all my driving, see a single yard sign for Moore, the home-town son. Even the parking lot of the one mall in town had more bumper stickers for Luther Strange (four), Moore’s opponent in the Republican primary, than for Moore himself (one).
Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was born in Gadsden, a small city flanked by Interstate 59 and the Coosa River, an hour northeast of Birmingham. Gadsden is hilly, woodsy, blue-collar, and religious. “LEGAL OR NOT, SIN IS SIN,” a sign in front of a church announced yesterday. I saw it as I drove around, crisscrossing George Wallace Drive.
I also saw Trump posters, Confederate flags, and dozens of signs for Doug Jones, the Democrat tied with Moore in recent Senate-race polls. Gadsden is the seat of Etowah County, which is a conservative place; Donald Trump received three times as many votes in the county as Hillary Clinton did. (Statewide, he received twice as many.) But I didn’t, in all my driving, see a single yard sign for Moore, the home-town son. Even the parking lot of the one mall in town had more bumper stickers for Luther Strange (four), Moore’s opponent in the Republican primary, than for Moore himself (one).
Groping Claim Against Former President “Poppy” Bush
Washington Post, Woman accuses former president George H.W. Bush of groping her when she was 16, Marwa Eltagouri, Nov. 13, 2017. Rosyln Corrigan — who said she was excited to meet the 41st president as a teenager, having dreamed of a career in politics — told Time that Bush (shown in an official photo from his time in office) groped her 14 years ago while photographing with her at an event in the Woodlands, Tex., office of the Central Intelligence Agency. Corrigan’s father and other intelligence officers and their families came to hear Bush address the agency.
“My initial reaction was absolute horror. I was really, really confused,” Corrigan told Time. “The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything.”
“What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that?’ ” she said.
A spokesman for Bush, Jim McGrath, did not deny the allegations. He told The Washington Post in a statement that the former president “simply does not have it in his heart to knowingly cause anyone harm or distress, and he again apologizes to anyone he may have offended during a photo op.” At the time of the CIA event in November 2003, Bush was 79, and not confined to a wheelchair. He stood upright in his photograph with Corrigan and her mother, Sari Young.
Corrigan is the sixth woman to make similar accusations against Bush in recent weeks. The others were adults at the times they were allegedly groped.
[McConnell, Senate GOP campaign chief repudiate Roy Moore’s candidacy following allegations of sexual misconduct with teen]
Three of the women — actresses Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick and novelist Christina Baker Kline — said they were groped by Bush within the past four years. Bush’s spokesman said in response that Bush, 93, has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm “falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures.”
More On JFK Assassination
WhoWhatWhy, The JFK Files: New Light on Oswald and Mexico City, Dick Russell, Nov. 13, 2017. The mainstream media has been focusing on the well-worn narrative that Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly traveled to Mexico City and paid visits to the Soviet and Cuban consulates some months before the assassination of JFK. Was he secretly working for the communists, or is the media missing the real story? Those with a stake in avoiding the truth about John F. Kennedy’s assassination want you to believe Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone nut. If you won’t accept that, they have a fallback position: “It’s even worse. He was working for the commies.”
That “alternative” scenario revolves around a purported Oswald trip to Mexico City in the months before Kennedy’s death, when he allegedly visited Soviet and Cuban missions, met with a handler and sought his escape path to his beloved USSR.
There’s just one problem with this narrative. It probably isn’t true.
Future of Freedom Foundation, How to Understand JFK Conspiracy Theories, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov. 13, 2017. The recent October 26 deadline for releasing 50-year-old JFK-assassination records of the CIA and other federal agencies provided an opportunity for people to promote their favorite JFK assassination theories. The Russians did it. Fidel Castro did it. The U.S. national-security establishment did it. The Mafia did it. A lone nut named Lee Harvey Oswald did it.
The reaction among some people was predictable: “Oh, there are so many JFK assassination theories that I guess we’ll never know what really happened.” Or “It’s all so overwhelming and I just don’t want to be pulled into the rabbit hole.”
Actually, however, understanding the various conspiracy and non-conspiracy theories in the JFK assassination is really not that difficult. All it takes is some critical thinking, analysis, and common sense.
There are three major conspiracy theories and one non-conspiracy theory (i.e., the lone-nut theory). Let’s examine each one. I believe you’ll see why the matter isn’t as difficult as mainstream writers and commentators make it out to be.
Washington Post, Thousands of scientists issue bleak ‘second notice’ to humanity, Sarah Kaplan, Nov. 13, 2017. In 1992, scientists published a dire “warning to humanity” about a host of impending ecological disasters. A quarter-century later, most of them have gotten worse: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory,” the authors of the new statement write.
Courts, Crime, Political Prosecutions Around the Nation
Legal Schnauzer, The Political Prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks: Missouri lawyer, who helped reveal corruption involving Judge Mark Fuller in the Don Siegelman prosecution, faces dubious criminal charges of his own, Roger Shuler (a longtime fighter against legal injustice in thousands of blog posts, shown at right with his pet schnauzer), Nov. 13, 2017. A Midwestern attorney whose persistent digging unearthed corruption at the heart of the Don Siegelman prosecution in Alabama now faces an apparent political prosecution of his own.
Paul Benton Weeks, of Springfield, MO, is charged with securities fraud in a case that two Missouri officials sat on for almost three years, apparently so they could time the announcement to boost their runs for higher public office. Is that a sign the case — styled State of Missouri v. Paul Benton Weeks (Case No. 1431-CRO7040-01, Greene County) — has been brought for reasons that have nothing to do with facts or law?
A newly released Judicial Integrity Report (JIR), which is available in both hard-copy form and via a link at judicial-integrity.report, suggests the answer is yes. In fact, JIR lays out more than a half dozen grounds that show the Weeks prosecution has no basis in law or fact — and that almost certainly means it is a political prosecution. One of the most damning grounds pointing to prosecutorial chicanery is rooted deep in the heart of Alabama — and the Don Siegelman case.
Two conservative Missouri Democrats — then-Attorney General Chris Koster (shown at left) and then-Secretary of State Jason Kander (shown below right) — apparently concocted the Weeks criminal charges to further their political ambitions and to help retaliate against Weeks for his efforts to shine light on government abuses.
The securities-fraud charge grew from a 2009 private-loan transaction between Weeks and a personal acquaintance. Weeks borrowed $200,000, signing and delivering to the private lender a personal promissory note. Over the next two years, Weeks incurred severe financial losses in the stock market and could not repay the note on schedule. The controversy became multi-layered, as the JIR describes (as follows in the link here).
Massive Breach Reported At NSA
Aerial view of National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters (file photo)
New York Times, N.S.A. Struggles to Recover After Huge Breach of Spying Tools, Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger, Nov. 13, 2017 (print edition). Leaks of the National Security Agency’s cyberweapons have damaged morale, slowed operations and resulted in hacks on businesses and civilians worldwide.Current and former officials say disclosures by a mysterious group that obtained N.S.A. tools have been catastrophic, calling into question the agency’s value to national security.
Washington Post, James B. Comey, called a ‘liar’ and ‘leaker’ by Trump, tweets a quote about truth and justice, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 13, 2017. Hours after President Trump resurrected attacks against him this weekend, the former FBI director quoted an old sermon about the difference between a truth and a lie. Speaking with reporters in the press cabin on Air Force One on Saturday, Trump called Comey a proven “liar” and “leaker,” as he seemed to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word that he didn’t meddle in last year’s U.S. presidential election.
Washington Post, More than 400 millionaires tell Congress: Don’t cut our taxes, Heather Long, Nov. 13, 2017 (print edition). Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller all signed on.
Global News: Trump Glad-hands Dictator Who Mocks U.S.
New York Times, Trump Lauds ‘Great Relationship’ With Duterte in Manila, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nov. 13, 2017. President Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines (shown in a file photo) met in a friendly session on the sidelines of a summit meeting.
SouthFront, Saudi Arabia And Israel Setting Preconditions For War Against Hezbollah, Iran, Staff and wires, Nov. 13, 2017. The crisis in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia in particular leads to further escalation in the region. The Arab League will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 18 at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss “violations” committed by Iran. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of encouraging Israel to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, said that the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel are planning a war against Lebanon.
Washington Post, Trump criticized for saying Putin is sincere in denial of election meddling, Karen DeYoung, Ashley Parker and David Nakamura, Nov. 12, 2017. President Trump’s comments, made after informal chats with the Russian president, drew strong reactions. Trump also referred to former top U.S. intelligence officials as “political hacks.” Former director of national intelligence James Clapper (shown at right) Jr. said of Trump’s remarks, “The fact that he would take Putin at his word over the intelligence community is unconscionable.”
Related News:Washington Post, Former CIA director says Trump is being ‘played’ by Putin, John Wagner, Nov. 12, 2017. John Brennan said President Trump’s reaction to the Russian president could inspire other world leaders to “appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities.”
Cops and Courts Around the Nation
Washington Post, Emboldened by Trump, sheriffs are mimicking his rhetoric and putting some residents on edge, Tim Craig, Nov. 12, 2017. From deep-blue states to conservative strongholds, locally elected sheriffs have emerged as staunch defenders of the president, bucking “politically correct” policies and alarming some who fear an increasingly undisciplined justice system.
Groping Claims Against Alabama Republican Candidate For U.S. Senate
Washington Post, Defiant Roy Moore tries to rally support as top Republicans disown him, Elise Viebeck and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). Addressing a Post report in which four accusers — including one who was 14 at the time — claimed inappropriate behavior by him when he was in his 30s, the GOP Senate candidate in Alabama (shown at right) attempted to frame the allegations as a conspiracy perpetrated by the media and his political enemies.
Washington Post, Opinion: Bannon is right: It’s no coincidence The Post broke the Moore story, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). The Republicans showed their moral parameters in responding to the “mere allegation.”
Trump’s conveniently flexible standard on accusations — and he is not alone — boils down to: If the accuser points a finger at a Democrat — Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein — her word is to be trusted, automatically. If she complains about a Republican, Trump’s otherwise dormant devotion to due process kicks in. How can claims from “many years ago” be allowed to “destroy a person’s life”?
Some answers: Because they are entirely credible. Because the girl, now a woman, has no conceivable ax to grind — she is a longtime Republican, a Trump voter even — and nothing to gain from coming forward. Because three other women related similar, although less disturbing stories, underscoring Moore’s interest in younger girls.
New York Times, Yes, the G.O.P. Can Block Roy Moore, Ronald J. Krotoszynski (a law professor at the University of Alabama), Nov. 12, 2017. Mitch McConnell and other leaders have the constitutional authority to prevent Roy Moore from serving in the Senate if he is elected. Last week’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, have drawn bipartisan denunciations in Washington, with many of his would-be colleagues calling on him to leave the race. Here in Alabama, however, the reaction has been considerably more muted.
If anything, the allegations seem to have forced many of the party faithful to rally around him. Mr. Moore, for his part, is not only refusing to step aside, but is making fund-raising appeals based on the accusations. While his accusers’ accounts no doubt hurt him, there is still a very good chance that Roy Moore will win the special election on Dec. 12.
The national party has made it clear that it wants nothing to do with Mr. Moore; on Friday the National Republican Senatorial Committee severed its ties with his campaign. But as his supporters have defiantly pointed out, there is nothing the Republicans can do to stop Alabamians from electing Mr. Moore.
That doesn’t mean the Senate is powerless. In fact, Mitch McConnell and other Senate leaders have the constitutional authority to prevent Mr. Moore from actually serving if he is elected. The real question is whether the party’s leadership is prepared to use this authority.
Washington Post, Analysis: Why politicians got away with sexual misconduct for so long, Rachel Gorlin, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). Rachel Gorlin, a political media consultant at Tipping Point Strategies in Washington, worked for years on Capitol Hill. Everyone knew about Bob Packwood. He won reelection anyway.
My Harvey Weinstein was a U.S. senator. We were never alone together or even had a private conversation; he never harassed me. But Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon was a textbook case of “everyone knew” when I served as press secretary for his 1992 challenger, Les AuCoin. I watched with dismay as our campaign and the press corps covering the race grappled with the knowledge of Packwood’s sexual misconduct — well beyond the adulterous realm of Gary Hart — without knowing what to do about it.
Finally, in September 1992, a freelance investigative journalist named Florence Graves convinced the Washington Post that allegations of Packwood’s sexual misconduct warranted serious scrutiny. Graves (shown at right) and Post reporter Charles Shepard conducted many interviews in Oregon and Washington as the Senate race continued to tighten.
By mid-October, they had persuaded multiple women — all former staffers, volunteers or lobbyists — to tell their stories on the record; word of this reached both campaigns. As Tom Bates wrote in a 1993 Los Angeles Times Magazine piece that reconstructs the entire series of events, Packwood complained to Post publisher Katharine Graham. Top editor Len Downie then urged the senator to give his side of the story to Graves and Shepard, who had been seeking an interview.
Packwood agreed but cleverly put them off until five days before the election. He denied all the allegations, and the delay had given him time to gather dirt on his accusers. (It was the same tactic allies of Thomas had used to undermine Hill’s credibility; Weinstein tried the same approach with less success.) After the interview, according to the L.A.Times Magazine piece, the Packwood campaign faxed pages of supposedly incriminating claims to the Post reporters and to Downie’s home. Failing to check out the allegations against their sources could have put Graves and Shepard on risky ground both legally and journalistically. Packwood’s ploy made it impossible for The Post to publish the story before the election.
Washington Post, Opinion: After the Roy Moore allegations can Democrats really win in Alabama? Heather Hendershot, Nov. 11, 2017. Doug Jones (shown at right) has a shot at winning — if the Democratic Party gets behind him.
More U.S. Politics
Washington Post, Opinion: Democrats, cut the cheer, David Von Drehle, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). Democrats are still acting as though demography is destiny when they need to woo whites.
Global News: Syria
SouthFront, Clashes Between Syrian Army And ISIS Continue In Al-Bukamal City (Photos), Staff report, Nov. 12, 2017. On Nov. 11, clashes between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and ISIS continued inside al-Bukamal city, according to local sources. The sources said that several VBIEDs of ISIS targeted positions of the SAA and Hezbollah inside and east of al-Bukamal city in the last 48 hours.
Washington Post, U.S. soldier in Niger ambush was bound, apparently executed, villagers say, Sudarsan Raghavan, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). The body of Sgt. La David Johnson (right), one of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush by Islamist militants in Niger last month, was found with his arms tied and a gaping wound at the back of his head, according to two villagers, suggesting that he may have been captured and then executed.
Adamou Boubacar, a 23-year-old farmer and trader, said some children tending cattle found the remains of the soldier Oct. 6, two days after the attack outside the remote Niger village of Tongo Tongo, which also left five Nigerien soldiers dead. The children notified him.
When Boubacar went to the location, a bushy area roughly a mile from the ambush site, he saw Johnson’s body lying face down, he said. The back of his head had been smashed by something, possibly a bullet, said Boubacar. The soldier’s wrists were bound with rope, he said, raising the possibility that the militants — whom the Pentagon suspects were affiliated with the Islamic State — seized Johnson during the firefight and held him captive.
Roy Moore Scandal
Washington Post, 2 GOP senators pull support for Roy Moore after he doesn’t deny dating teens when in his 30s, Michael Scherer and David Weigel, Nov. 10, 2017. 2 GOP senators pull support for Roy Moore after he doesn’t deny dating teens when in his 30s. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore declined Friday to rule out that he may have dated girls in their late teens when he was in his 30s, though he said he did not remember any such encounters and described such behavior as inappropriate.
“If I did, I’m not going to dispute these things, but I don’t remember anything like that,” Moore said on Sean Hannity’s radio program, when asked whether he had dated 17- or 18-year-old girls at the time.
In the same interview, Moore denied outright the claim of Leigh Corfman that he had initiated sexual encounters with her when she was 14. “I don’t know Ms. Corfman from anybody,” he said. “The allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false.”
Moore’s comments came as GOP leaders scrambled Friday to limit the political damage from the allegations. Two Republican senators — Steve Daines (Mont.) and Mike Lee (Utah) (shown at right) — withdrew their endorsements of Moore after his interview with Hannity.
Washington Post, Opinion: After the Roy Moore allegations can Democrats really win in Alabama? Heather Hendershot, Nov. 11, 2017. Doug Jones has a shot at winning — if the Democratic Party gets behind him.
CBS News, Roy Moore’s former colleague says it was “common knowledge” he dated teens, Kathryn Watson, Nov. 11, 2017. A former prosecutor who once worked alongside embattled Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in the early 1980s told CNN it was “common knowledge” at the time that Moore dated high school girls.
“It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird,” former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”
Jones, now a partner at the Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb, Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer, P.A. law firm based in Sarasota, Florida, served as deputy district attorney for Etowah County, Alabama from 1982 to 1985, according to her firm’s website. Moore worked as a deputy district attorney in that office from 1977 to 1982. Before joining the DA’s office, Jones was the assistant city attorney for the city of Gadsden, Alabama, the county seat of Etowah County.
White House Bombast and Intrigues
Washington Post, In Vietnam, Trump blasts critics on Russia as ‘haters and fools’ and appears to call North Korean leader ‘short and fat,’ David Nakamura, Nov. 11, 2017. The president’s tweets punctured the careful messaging he and his aides had sought to deliver on a five-nation, 12-day trip through Asia. The morning tweetstorm came as Trump prepared for bilateral meetings with Vietnamese leaders, including a scheduled news conference where he could face more questions about the topics he addressed on Twitter.
Trump’s taunt of Kim came after the North Korean leader again called him a “dotard,” a term describing an old person who is losing his mental faculties. Trump, 71, sarcastically responded that he hopes one day to be friends with Kim Jong Un (shown in a file photo), who oversees a developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal.
Dr. Joseph Mifsud (Valdai Discussion Club 2016 conference in Moscow handout photo via Associated Press)
New York Times, How a Trump Adviser Met With Kremlin Contacts, Sharon and LaFraniere, David D. Kirkpatrick, Nov. 11, 2017. Andrew Higgins and Michael Schwirtz, Nov. 10, 2017. Interviews and records reveal new details about contacts between George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, and self-described Kremlin intermediaries. At midday on March 24, 2016, an improbable group gathered in a London cafe to discuss setting up a meeting between Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia (shown in a file photo).
There was George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old from Chicago with an inflated résumé who just days earlier had been publicly named as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. There was Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic in his mid-50s with a faltering career who boasted of having high-level contacts in the Russian government.
And, perhaps most mysteriously, there was Olga Polonskaya, a 30-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company. Mr. Mifsud introduced her to Mr. Papadopoulos as Mr. Putin’s niece, according to court papers. Mr. Putin has no niece.
The interactions between the three players and a fourth man with contacts inside Russia’s Foreign Ministry have become a central part of the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, into the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the presidential election. Recently released court documents suggest that the F.B.I. suspected that some of the people who showed interest in Mr. Papadopoulos were participants in a Russian intelligence operation.At midday on March 24, 2016, an improbable group gathered in a London cafe to discuss setting up a meeting between Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
There was George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old from Chicago with an inflated résumé who just days earlier had been publicly named as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. There was Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic in his mid-50s with a faltering career who boasted of having high-level contacts in the Russian government.
And, perhaps most mysteriously, there was Olga Polonskaya, a 30-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company. Mr. Mifsud introduced her to Mr. Papadopoulos as Mr. Putin’s niece, according to court papers. Mr. Putin has no niece.
The interactions between the three players and a fourth man with contacts inside Russia’s Foreign Ministry have become a central part of the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, into the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the presidential election. Recently released court documents suggest that the F.B.I. suspected that some of the people who showed interest in Mr. Papadopoulos were participants in a Russian intelligence operation.
Washington Post, Trump: ‘I really believe’ Putin’s denials of election interference, Ashley Parker and David Nakamura, Nov. 11, 2017. President Trump, who chatted with the Russian leader on the sidelines of an Asia economic summit, said the Russian leader “said he absolutely did not meddle in our election“ in 2016. U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and spread misinformation to help the Trump campaign.
Washington Post, EPA is taking more advice from industry — and ignoring its own scientists, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). On pesticides, chemical solvents and air pollutants, Administrator Scott Pruitt (right) and his deputies are using industry figures to challenge past findings and recommendations of the agency’s own researchers.
Washington Post, IRS chief departs, blasting Congress for budget cuts threatening tax agency, Joe Davidson, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). Leaving can be liberating. Now it’s John Koskinen’s turn.
Thursday is his last day as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, allowing his bluntness about Congress on Tuesday. Koskinen had repeatedly warned Congress about the dangers of shortchanging the agency that collects more than 90 percent of the government’s money. But Republicans were intent on penalizing the IRS because they said it had improperly scrutinized right-leaning organizations. It turns out that left-leaning groups also were targeted by that scrutiny, but for much of that controversy the focus was on conservatives.
Congressional retribution meant taxpayer service suffered, or, too often, it simply failed. Because of staffing shortages, there were long telephone wait times for taxpayers, when calls were answered at all. Koskinen outlined two risks that continue to threaten tax administration, saying “this is not a question of ‘whether,’ but of ‘when,’ ” if the budget continues to be cut.
First are the agency’s information technology systems, which Koskinen said “have long been operating with antiquated hardware and software.” He warned “that the potential for a catastrophic system failure is increasing as our infrastructure continues to age.”
Washington Post, The many ways President Trump would benefit from the GOP’s tax plan, Drew Harwell and Jonathan O’Connell, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). President Trump has defended the Republican effort to overhaul taxes by calling it a bitter pill for the rich, saying its provisions will boost the middle class and make him a “big loser” if it’s approved.
But tax experts and a nonpartisan analysis suggest he’ll fare far better than others as a result of the changes. From sweeping estate and business tax cuts to specific relief targeting real estate interests, the tax overhaul would directly benefit Trump’s family and business in a way that could save him tens of millions of dollars a year.
Global Cultural News: Russia and China
Washington Post, Russia says it will retaliate after RT was ‘forced’ to register as a foreign agent, David Filipov, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). Russia plans new measures to restrict U.S. media organizations working here [in Moscow] after a Russian English-language television channel said it was pressured into registering as a foreign agent in the United States, a senior legislator said Friday.
Lawmakers will take up changes to the Russian law on foreign agents to extend it to the news media. Until now, that law has been applied only to nongovernmental organizations that receive financing from abroad and engage in what the government determines to be “political activity.” The law has been criticized as a way for the Russian government to marginalize civil society institutions.
Washington Post, UCLA wins basketball game in China but loses 3 players in shoplifting incident, Simon Denyer, Nov. 11, 2017. The freshman athletes were arrested after reportedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton shop next to their hotel. It was supposed to be a shining example of U.S.-China sporting cooperation and a chance for an elite group of students to learn from another culture. But three UCLA players — including a younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie sensation Lonzo Ball — were stuck in a hotel more than a hundred miles away after being arrested this week for allegedly shoplifting from a store, or stores, in the lakeside city of Hangzhou.
Global News: Lebanon, Saudi Arabia
Associated Press via Washington Post, Lebanon: Saudi should clarify why Hariri hasn’t returned, Bassem Mroue, Nov. 11, 2017. Lebanon’s president called on Saudi Arabia Saturday to clarify the reasons why the country’s prime minister has not returned home since his resignation last week, announced from the kingdom, as the United States and France expressed their support for Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability amid heightening tensions between Beirut and Saudi Arabia.
A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s stunning announcement Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital that he was resigning. (He is shown at left in Sochi on Sept. 13, 2017.)
Lebanese officials have insisted on the return home of Hariri from Saudi Arabia amid rumors he is being held against his will. Saudi officials have said that their measures against Lebanon are in response to the militant Hezbollah’s group support of anti-Saudi rebels in Yemen known as Houthis.
Republican Sex Scandal?
Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore in a file photo as Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, an elective post he was twice forced to resign
Clockwise from left: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson and Gloria Thacker Deason. (Family photos via Washington Post)
Washington Post, As Roy Moore declines to step aside, a tale of two Republican parties emerges, James Hohmann, Nov. 10, 2017. The reactions to the allegation that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s have highlighted deep divisions within the Republican Party and underscored the growing tribalism that has infected the nation’s politics.
At the Capitol, establishment Republicans expressed alarm.
Meanwhile, down in Montgomery, Republican leaders mostly circled the wagons behind Moore. The deadline has passed to take his name off the ballot. The Alabama state party could disqualify him from the election, but there was relatively little appetite locally to do so.
The most remarkable pushback came from Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who dismissed the allegations by saying that there was also an age gap between the biblical Joseph and Mary. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” he told The Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
Legal Schnauzer, Revelations about Roy Moore’s taste for tender flesh raise questions about U.S. Senate race, plus integrity of the AL Supreme Court when Moore was in charge, Roger Shuler, Nov. 10, 2017. Yesterday’s bombshell report that unmasked Roy Moore as a religious and political fraud — one with a creepy taste for underage flesh — caused many Alabamians to look forward. The first question that came to many minds probably was: “How will this affect ‘Judge Roy’s’ chances in the special U.S. Senate election on Dec. 12, against Democrat Doug Jones? Could Roy actually lose in a Deep Red state, where he was the overwhelming favorite?”
Such questions are understandable, given the Alabama Senate race is attracting national attention, and election day is barely a month away. But citizens also should look backward and ask questions about the Alabama Supreme Court, which Moore “led” as chief justice.
Once Moore won his second term as Alabama’s chief justice in 2012, evidence gradually mounted that the state’s high court was riddled with corruption. An oft-heard refrain after Moore returned to the bench went something like this: “You might not agree with Roy’s mix of religion and politics, but you have to admit that he has impeccable integrity and deep respect for the law. At least our courts won’t be corrupt and favor the big-law special interests. The ‘little man’ finally will get a fair shake.”
Heck, even I wanted to believe that — especially since I had first-hand experience with Moore’s opponent, Democrat Robert Vance Jr., and knew Vance was corrupt. Vance was (and is) a tool of the big downtown Birmingham law firms, such as Maynard Cooper and Gale and Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson. If I remember correctly, I actually voted for Moore in 2012; I sure as hell didn’t vote for Vance.
It quickly became apparent that Roy Moore was unable — or unwilling — to lead a clean shop at the Alabama Supreme Court. Perhaps the most obvious signs of corruption on the Good Ship Roy came with glaringly unlawful rulings related to gaming. Another sign hit close to home for Mrs. Schnauzer and me, and it involves my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County.
Red State, Another Person Corroborates Roy Moore’s Accuser, Patterico, Nov. 10, 2017. Another person has emerged to corroborate the allegation that Roy Moore molested a 14-year-old girl in 1979. Like the other corroborating witnesses, this person did not witness the event, of course. He was just told about it by the victim years ago. But his account can now be added to those of the two people detailed in the Washington Post story:
“Betsy Davis, who remains friendly with Corfman and now lives in Los Angeles, says she clearly remembers Corfman talking about seeing an older man named Roy Moore when they were teenagers. She says Corfman described an encounter in which the older man wore nothing but tight white underwear. She says she was firm with Corfman that seeing someone as old as Moore was out of bounds.”
“I remember talking to her and telling her it’s not a good idea,” Davis says. “Because we were so young.”
A second friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing her job, has a similar memory of a teenage Corfman telling her about seeing an older man.
Between all these people, Roy Moore’s bizarre statements in his interview with Sean Hannity, the evidence of his interest in other young girls, the apparent lack of bias on the part of the accusers, the garbage character of Moore, and cold hard facts that corroborate other aspects of the woman’s story, it looks very bad for Moore.
This is what the Bannon wing of the Republican party asked for. Now they have it. Great job, guys.
Breitbart, Alabama ABC Affiliate Can’t Find One Voter Who Believes WaPo Report About Roy Moore in Man-on-the-Street Segment, Jeff Poor, Nov. 10, 2017. During a segment that aired on Friday’s broadcast of Birmingham, AL ABC affiliate WBMA 33/40’s 5 p.m. local news, political reporter Lauren Walsh sought out voters in Columbiana, AL to gauge their reactions to the Washington Post report that alleged Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore engaged in inappropriate conduct with four teenage girls more than 34 years ago.
None of the respondents according to Walsh told her they believed the Post’s reporting. “It’s hard to believe the events that transpired yesterday,” Gordon Fluker of nearby Wilsonville, AL said to Walsh about the Washington Post report.
Fluker’s response was the standard according to Walsh. “Out of all the voters we spoke with Friday in Columbiana, we didn’t find one voter who believed the Washington Post report about Moore,” she said.
Columbiana is the county seat of Shelby County, a county that is the home to many of Birmingham’s southern suburbs. The county is very Republican, and in last year’s presidential election, it went for Donald Trump by a 72-23 percent margin.
In the GOP primary and the subsequent runoff for next month’s special election won by Moore, Shelby County went for his opponent Luther Strange in both instances. In that county, Strange defeated Moore by nine points in the GOP primary held in August. In the runoff a month later, Strange topped Moore by a 55-45 margin.
GroopSpeak, Opinion: Another Witness Just Came Forward, Roy Moore’s Career Is Over, Crowd sourcing, Nov. 10, 2017. As more and more GOP members are coming out to defend Roy Moore, witnesses are also beginning to emerge that can further confirm the accounts of the women who claim Roy Moore took advantage of them in their teenage years.
A man named Mike Ortiz was the longtime boyfriend of Leigh Corfman, who Roy Moore molested when she was just 14 years old, and has come forward to confirm her account of events. Ortiz did an interview with ABC 33/40 News’ Lauren Walsh, an Alabama based reporter, and confirmed that while he dated Corfman for over two years, she told him of the incident.
Ortiz further said, “I believed her, I believe her. I think she always fought with whether to come out with it public or not, you know, internally with what she wanted to do with it, to let people know about it. But I believed her when she told me and I still believe her. She wouldn’t lie about something like that.”
The chilling story of Roy Moore meeting the 14-year-old Corfman in the hallway of a courtroom, and convincing her to come to his house with him alone, was told this week the Washington Post. Corfman, who says that once at Moore’s house he removed her clothing and had her touch him over his underwear, is far from the only woman making accusations about Moore. Several other women say that while they were teenagers and Roy Moore was in his 30’s, he pursued sexually inappropriate relationships with them.
Republicans Line Up Against ‘The Little People,’ Economist Claims
New York Times, Opinion: Trump and Ryan Versus the Little People, Paul Krugman, Nov. 10, 2017 (print edition). New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman (shown at right) is a Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics at New York University and author of 20 books. According to news reports, Donald Trump wanted the House Republican tax “reform” bill to be called the Cut Cut Cut Act. Alas, he didn’t get his wish, and it was instead given a boring name nobody can remember. But there’s still time to change it! So let me propose, as one reader suggested, that it be renamed the Leona Helmsley Act, after the New York hotelier convicted of tax evasion, who famously declared that “only the little people pay taxes.”
That, after all, is the main thrust of the bill. It hugely favors the wealthy over the middle class, which is pretty much always true of Republican proposals. But it’s not just about favoring high incomes: It also systematically favors people who live off their assets, especially inherited wealth, over the little people — that is, poor shlubs who actually have to work for a living.
Also let’s not forget that tax increases on working Americans are only part of the story. This bill would also, according to the Congressional Budget Office, add $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. You know what that means: If this bill or anything like it passes, Republicans will immediately revert to their previous pretense of being deficit hawks and start demanding spending cuts.
And since federal spending is dominated by programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — that benefit the middle and working classes, the end result of this tax bill would be to leave most working Americans, even those who wouldn’t face direct tax increases, worse off, all for the benefit of a tiny minority, especially those who haven’t even worked for their wealth.
New York Times, Opinion: Puerto Rico’s Second-Class Treatment, Editorial board, Nov. 10, 2017 (print edition). A 35-year-old budget cap has denied the island the more generous relief that storm victims in Texas and Florida received. Of all Puerto Rico’s continuing miseries seven weeks after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, the most blatantly unjust is that islanders have been denied the more generous and swifter food relief distributed to storm victims this year in Texas and Florida under the emergency food stamp program.
Wall Street on Parade, Financial Experts Release Video on How Wall Street Loots the U.S. Economy, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Nov. 10, 2017. Webinar and Panel Discussion on Glass-Steagall Mobilization. An Expert Panel – Bart Naylor of Public Citizen, Marcus Stanley of Americans for Financial Reform, Nomi Prins, author and former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, Heather Slavkin Corzo of the AFL-CIO, and Mayo Makinde representing Our Revolution in NW Ohio, with input from Congressional Co-sponsors Marcy Kaptur and Walter Jones – discusses the history of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, the devastating impact on the American Economy following the Act’s repeal in 1999, and signs that another huge financial crisis may be looming. Learn how you can mobilize at the local level to push your Congressmen to Re-instate Glass-Steagall Now.
Yes, both the island and mainland victims are United States citizens. But not all citizens are created equal: A 35-year-old congressional budget cap on Puerto Rico’s food stamp program has limited the amount of disaster aid immediately available.
Media Failures In JFK Records Research
Future of Freedom Foundation, The JFK Autopsy Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov. 10, 2017. A classic example of the obtuseness of the U.S. mainstream press regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred recently on television station KARE in Minneapolis-St. Paul, when the station’s reporter, Chris Hrapsky, was interviewing federal Judge John Tunheim, who served as chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, the agency that Congress established in the 1990s to enforce the JFK Records Act.
Hrapsky is a reporter. As such, he had a professional duty to educate himself on the facts of the ARRB before conducting his interview with Tunheim. He also had a professional duty to follow up on critically important matters discovered by the ARRB that pointed in the direction of an official cover-up.
Hrapsky’s interview of Tunheim, which took place on November 2, arose within the context of the publicity generated by the October 26 deadline. During the interview, Hrapsky was presented with the opportunity to explore one of the “smoking guns” uncovered by the ARRB, one that pointed to the national-security state’s cover-up in the JFK assassination by conducting a fraudulent autopsy on the president’s body.
The full details of this episode are set forth in Volume 3, Chapter 10, of Douglas Horne’s five-volume work Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK. Horne (shown at left) served on the staff of the ARRB in the 1990s. The title of Chapter 10 is “Two Brain Examinations — Coverup Confirmed.”
Horne’s entire five-volume work is not an easy read. But anyone who takes the time to read and study it will inevitably conclude that the military’s autopsy of JFK was fraudulent. For an easy to read summary of Horne’s five-volume book, I recommend my book The Kennedy Autopsy.
Keep in mind also how it came to be that the military conducted the JFK autopsy. Texas law required that the Dallas County Medical Examiner conduct the autopsy. But Lyndon Johnson (shown in a file photo), who was elevated to the presidency on JFK’s death, ordered the Secret Service to get the body out of Parkland (in violation of state law) and immediately bring it to Dallas Love Field, where Johnson’s people were making room for the casket by removing seats from Air Force One.
As I point out in The Kennedy Autopsy, a team of Secret Service agents, brandishing guns and threatening the use of deadly force and screaming profanities, forced their way out of Parkland Hospital with JFK’s body in a casket, over the vehement objections of Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas County Medical Examiner. Loyally following Johnson’s order, despite the fact that they were violating Texas law, the Secret Service team took the body to Parkland and loaded it onto Air Force One, after which it was delivered into the hands of the military in Maryland.
Global News: Saudi Leadership Purge
Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Saudi Arabia This “Liberal Reformer” Is An Impulsive Tyrant, B, Nov. 10, 2017. It is becoming more difficult to hide the mess the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman creates. The propaganda about the “liberal reformer” is too inconsistent with his obviously tyrannical behavior.
The clown prince of Saudi Barbaria (shown at right) practically abducted the Prime Minister of Lebanon, blackmailed him to resign and holds him since under house arrest. This is an unprecedented attack on the sovereignty of Lebanon and all other countries. Yet the U.S. and some European leaders cowardly pretend that Saad Hariri is free to go where he wants.
Meanwhile the Saudi tyrant’s purge of all potential internal competition continues. Some 500 people have been arrested with the higher ups being held in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The hotel has now been “booked” until the end of January. But its 300 rooms are too few to hold the growing pile of rich trash. The Mariott hotel next door has now also been booked by the Saudi authorities. Regular guests were told to leave: A sure sign that the purge campaign will continue.
One important aspect of the purge is the open robbery that is part of it. Everyone arrested is accused of “corruption.” This in a country where taking a share of every state contract is seen as an inherited right of the ruling class. The Wall Street Journal reports that the people around MbS expect to steal up to $800 billion in assets from the ultra-rich businessmen and princes they have now under their control.
Any day now the clown prince will become king of Saudi Arabia. In theory he could then rule for 50 years. But his country is unlikely to survive another five years of such impulsive and tyrannic behavior. Chances are that one his guards will be merciful enough to solve the problem with a single bullet.
Sex Scandal Apology
Washington Post, Comedian Louis C.K. apologizes for sexual misconduct, says ‘these stories are true,’ Elahe Izadi, Nov. 10, 2017. The lengthy statement comes a day after the New York Times published five women’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Louis C.K.
Daily Mail, Writer accuses Richard Dreyfuss of exposing himself and harassing her in the 80s – just days after the actor supported his son who accused Kevin Spacey of groping him, Keith Griffith, Nov. 10, 2017. A female writer has accused actor Richard Dreyfuss of exposing himself and sexually harassing her when she worked for him in the 1980s – claims that the actor has emphatically denied, saying the relationship was one of mutual flirting.
Jessica Teich, 58, spoke out in an interview with Vulture released late Friday, claiming that Dreyfuss behaved lewdly when she worked as a junior writer on his ABC comedy special. Teich says that in the run up to its air date Dreyfuss, the now 70-year-old star of Jaws and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, called her to his trailer at a Los Angeles film studio lot. She was in her late 20s at the time and he was 12 years her senior.
Teich says she ‘felt sexualized, objectified, and unsafe’ with Dreyfuss. Oscar-winning actor Richard Dryfuss denies that he exposed himself to Teich in his trailer on a Los Angles film lot in 1987.
Republican U.S.Senate candidate from Alabama Roy Moore, is shown above in a file photo, and in photos from his campaign when he flourished .38 special to emphasize his support for gun rights. He was twice removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusal to implement U.S. Supreme Court precedents that he claimed violated God’ law.
Washington Post, Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32, Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, Nov. 9, 2017. Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore.
It was early 1979 and Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing.
“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’ ” says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”
Aside from Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.
[Moore has denied the allegations, calling them “fake news” designed by his political opponents and the liberal media.]
Clockwise from left: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson and Gloria Thacker Deason. (Family photos via Washington Post)
Washington Post, Analysis: Roy Moore: Another GOP calamity, Jennifer Rubin (shown at right), Nov. 9, 2017. The Post’s blockbuster article on Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, the twice-booted judge whose incendiary rhetoric on gays and Muslims spurred a handful of elected Republicans to refuse to back him, found Moore allegedly engaged in sexual behavior with a 14-yr. old minor and pursued three others.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) swiftly lowered the boom: “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.”
Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also weighed in. The Post reports:“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a formal statement on behalf of all Republican senators.
That formulation, however, leaves Moore room to claim the allegation are untrue and remain in the race. That’s precisely what Moore is doing — vehemently denying the accounts.
This miserable state of affairs, in addition to the personal harm to the victims, would not have come about, of course, had the Republicans primary voters of Alabama rejected someone with overtly racists and extreme views whose contempt for the Constitution led to two dismissals from the bench. He quite simply should never have been the nominee, and Republicans who subsequently backed him were once more placing party over country and Constitution.
Washington Post, Key committee ends fundraising pact with Roy Moore campaign amid allegations, Michael Scherer and David Weigel, Nov. 10, 2017. Republican leaders scrambled Friday to limit the political damage from allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old girl and other teenagers nearly four decades ago, even as Moore pushed forward with his campaign.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled out of a joint committee it had set up with Moore, depriving him of a fundraising vehicle for the final weeks of the campaign. But current and former national party leaders admitted that they have little power to actually force Moore from the race. The election is Dec. 12.
Strategists also backed away from discussions for a Republican write-in campaign in the state, saying there was little hope of success if Moore stays in the race — and raising the possibility that Moore’s scandal will remain a problem for the party into the 2018 midterm elections, as candidates are asked to take a position on the abuse of minors and intergenerational dating.
WBMA -TV, (ABC affiliate 33-40, Birmingham, AL) via Twitter, Former boyfriend of Moore’s teen accuser backs her account, Lauren Walsh, Nov. 9, 2017. Mike Ortiz says he dated Corfman (Roy Moore’s accuser) for 2 years around 2009. He says during that time, she told him about a sexual encounter w/ Moore when she was young.
Sex Claims Against Trump
New Yorker, Listening to What Trump’s Accusers Have Told Us, Jia Tolentino, Nov. 9, 2017. The public narrative of Trump’s sexually predatory behavior begins in 1993, with Harry Hurt’s book The Lost Tycoon, which included details from a 1990 divorce deposition in which Ivana Trump described her husband violently raping her in Trump Tower, in a fit of anger over a botched scalp surgery. In a statement provided to Hurt, Ivana walked back her claim without denying it; she didn’t mean that Trump raped her in a “literal or criminal” sense, she said.
The story reappeared in May, 2016, when the Times published accounts from two women describing nonconsensual encounters with Trump, and then it flared fully back to life in October of that year, with the “Access Hollywood” tape, a recording of a 2005 conversation in which Trump bragged about habitually committing sexual assault. By the end of October, twenty women had gone on the record to describe Trump’s sexual misconduct. Twelve of them recounted being physically violated, corroborating Trump’s own description of his behavior—he grabbed women by the pussy, he said to Billy Bush, because he could.
I reread the piece I wrote last year about all of this, and it felt a little humiliating. It was clear that I had been so upset, and so full of trust in the weight of moral narrative, that I felt sure Trump would not be able to win the Presidency. And, over the past year, I realized, I had also allowed myself to forget the sheer repulsiveness of some of Trump’s offhand comments about women: that he told his friends to “be rougher” with their wives, that he seemed to regularly joke about dating teen-agers. I recently shared the piece on Twitter and received more than two hundred replies, many of which asked the same sort of question: Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Why don’t these women press charges against the President? Why don’t they get together and sue him? Where are all these accusers now?
It seems almost cruel to wish, at this point, that these women would keep speaking. They already did. They told the public that Trump grabbed them and groped them. They gave the details of where and when; they spoke about how it had affected them.
A poll last October found that sixty-eight per cent of registered voters believed their stories. Only fourteen per cent believed that Trump had not made unwanted sexual advances toward women. So it’s not that we didn’t hear Trump’s accusers, or even that we didn’t believe them. We knew that they weren’t lying, and we elected him anyway. Our response when victims speak up now has to be shaped by the magnitude of that failure.
Trump Flatters Chinese On Asian Tour
New York Times, Trump Flatters China Leader, Blaming U.S. for Trade Gap, Mark Landler,Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Jane Perlez, Nov. 9, 2017. President Trump heaped praise on President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday, blaming Mr. Trump’s own predecessors for China’s yawning trade surplus with the United States and saying he was confident that Mr. Xi could defuse the threat from North Korea.
Mr. Trump’s warm words, on a state visit to China replete with ceremony but short of tangible results, showed a president doubling down on his gamble that by cultivating a personal connection with Mr. Xi (shown in a file photo), he can push the Chinese leader to take meaningful steps on North Korea and trade.
In public, Mr. Trump projected an air of deference to China that was almost unheard-of for a visiting American president. Far from attacking Mr. Xi on trade, Mr. Trump saluted him for leading a country that he said had left the United States “so far behind.” He said he could not blame the Chinese for taking advantage of weak American trade policy.
Senate Version Of Tax Cut
New York Times, Senate Tax Bill Delays Corporate Tax Cut Trump Called Essential, Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan, Nov. 9, 2017. Senate Republicans will unveil their version of a sweeping tax bill today that delays the corporate tax cut President Trump has called essential to a tax rewrite yet is more attuned to the middle class than a competing plan moving through the House.
The bill set for introduction in the Senate Finance Committee restores several popular tax breaks that were eliminated in the House bill, which passed the Ways and Means Committee along party lines on Thursday afternoon.
Those include the deduction for mortgage interest debt, which the House had proposed to cap at $500,000 as well as tax breaks for the elderly and the blind and high out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Senate bill also allows graduate students in universities to keep a valuable deduction and preserves a tax credit for adoptive parents, which had been eliminated by the House but was added back in a committee amendment on Thursday afternoon.
Are Saudis, Israelis Coordinating A New Joint War To Topple Lebanon?
Washington Post, Lebanon’s plunge into political crisis raises specter of war with Israel, Louisa Loveluck and Loveday Morris, Nov. 9, 2017 (print edition). Even for a country often used as a battleground by regional powers and their proxies, the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has opened a new period of political uncertainty and fear in Lebanon.
The tiny nation has often been caught between the political agendas of more-powerful countries. But it now appears more vulnerable to conflict as Israel and Saudi Arabia try to isolate their shared enemy, the Iran-backed movement Hezbollah.
Hariri, a Sunni politician backed by the Saudis, cited Iranian meddling in Lebanese politics as the reason for his decision to step down. But the fact that he made his announcement in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia left little doubt that his regional patron must have played a role in a move that caught even his aides off guard.
Saudi Arabia’s impetuous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pursued increasingly bold and aggressive policies at home and overseas, including a purge of officials and business executives in the kingdom, many of them members of the royal family.
“MBS is an impatient man,” said Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, referring to the crown prince by his initials. The removal of Hariri “may be a Saudi play to initiate an Israeli response and bloody the nose of Hezbollah”
Israel has watched with alarm as a battle-hardened Hezbollah has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad take the upper hand in Syria’s war. Israel has been accused of regularly bombing across its northern border, targeting convoys and military depots in Syria linked to Hezbollah. Israeli officials have also ramped up their bellicose rhetoric in recent months, warning that in any war, Israel won’t make a distinction between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah.
Hezbollah and Israel last fought a war in 2006. More than 1,000 soldiers and civilians were killed. Hariri’s resignation Saturday helps Israel drum up international sentiment against Lebanon, analysts say, particularly as the Trump administration pursues a more aggressive policy on Iran.
Shortly after Hariri announced his resignation, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, took to Twitter. “Lebanon = Hezbollah. Hezbollah = Iran. Iran = Lebanon,” he wrote. “Iran endangers the world. Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.”
Strategic Culture Foundation, How Israel and Saudi Arabia Conspire to Seize Control of the Middle East, Wayne Madsen (shown at left), Nov. 9, 2017. Former Naval Intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen’s 15 books including one published in 2014, “The Star and the Sword,” documenting a covert alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia to advance their leaders’ interests by “false flag” operations that promote wars by fooling national and global audiences.
The recent leak of a classified Israeli Foreign Ministry cable sent to all Israeli diplomatic facilities worldwide points to the subterfuge being engaged in by Israel and Saudi Arabia to effectuate political discord in Lebanon and a Saudi military confrontation with Iran.
The cable instructs Israeli diplomats to ratchet up diplomatic pressure against Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran. The Israeli plan saw an opportunity in the fact that the new regime in Saudi Arabia headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was able to force Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a longtime puppet of the Saudis, to resign his post from Saudi soil.
Consortium News, Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack? Robert Parry, Nov. 9, 2017. Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity and make President Trump look like an Al Qaeda dupe.
A new United Nations-sponsored report on the April 4 sarin incident in an Al Qaeda-controlled town in Syria blames Bashar al-Assad’s government for the atrocity, but the report contains evidence deep inside its “Annex II” that would prove Assad’s innocence.
If you read that far, you would find that more than 100 victims of sarin exposure were taken to several area hospitals before the alleged Syrian warplane could have struck the town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Still, the Joint Investigative Mechanism [JIM], a joint project of the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], brushed aside this startling evidence and delivered the Assad guilty verdict that the United States and its allies wanted.
RT, Saudi Arabia ‘holding’ Lebanon PM Hariri, Beirut to seek foreign pressure on Riyadh – official, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2017. Lebanon believes Saudi Arabia is holding its prime minister, Saad Hariri, “with restricted freedom” in Riyadh. Beirut plans to work with foreign countries to secure the PM’s return home, a senior Lebanese government official told Reuters.
“Lebanon is heading towards asking foreign and Arab states to put pressure on Saudi [Arabia] to release Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Lebanese government has not yet declared the initiative.
More JFK Document Releases
WhoWhatWhy, National Archives Releases 13,000+ JFK Records, WhoWhatWhy staff, Nov. 9, 2017. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) just released the largest number of JFK assassination files it has released thus far this year — 13,213 mostly CIA files — but then introduced a frustrating wrinkle, raising doubts about the coherence of the process and about their intent. Upon brief inspection, it appears that all of the files so far examined still contain redactions.
If the files have not been re-reviewed yet by either the specific agencies (such as the CIA, FBI, and NSA) or the National Archives themselves, then one wonders why they would release them now in their present redacted form. It’s Alice in Wonderland time.
Only four of the files are classified as fully-withheld, meaning that the public had never seen them before. A full 48 out of 52 pages are completely redacted.
Citizens Against Political Assassinations, More JFK Documents Released On Nov. 9, 2017, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 9, 2017. The National Archives announced on Nov. 9 release of 13,213 additional records pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
Most of the documents were previously released in redacted form as part of a long-term process to comply with a 1992 federal law. More than four million pages have been released previously in full or with parts blocked out. Released records are available for download here.
National Archives, Latest Group of JFK Assassination Records Available to the Public, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2017. In the fourth public release this year, the National Archives today posted 13,213 records subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act). The majority of the documents released today were released previously in redacted form. The versions released today were prepared by agencies prior to October 26, 2017, and were posted to make the latest versions of the documents available as expeditiously as possible. Released records are available for download here.
On October 26, 2017, President Donald J. Trump directed agencies to re-review each and every one of their redactions over the next 180 days. As part of that review process, agency heads were directed to be extremely circumspect in recommending any further postponement of information in the records. Agency heads must report to the Archivist of the United States by March 12, 2018, any specific information within particular records that meets the standard for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the JFK Act.
The Archivist must then recommend to the President by March 26, 2018, whether this information warrants continued withholding after April 26, 2018. The records included in this public release have not yet been re-reviewed by the agencies as part of that process and have not been reviewed by the National Archives.
The National Archives released 676 documents on Nov. 3, 2,891 documents on Oct. 26, and 3,810 records on July 24. The National Archives established the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection in November 1992, and it consists of approximately five million pages of records. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without any restrictions since the late 1990s.
Washington Post, White House chief of staff tried to pressure acting DHS secretary to expel thousands of Hondurans, officials say, Nick Miroff, Nov. 9, 2017. On Monday, as the Department of Homeland Security prepared to extend the residency permits of tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants living in the United States, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly (shown at right) called Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to pressure her to expel them, according to current and former administration officials.
By extending the residency permits of the Hondurans, Kelly told her that the TPS decision “keeps getting kicked down the road” and that the additional delay “prevents our wider strategic goal” on immigration, the White House official said.
Duke refused to reverse her decision and was angered by what she felt was a politically driven intrusion by Kelly and Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser, who also called her about the matter, according to officials with knowledge of Monday’s events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Roll Call, Menendez Jury Will Have to Start Over, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 9, 2017. With juror leaving for vacation, alternate will step in next week. Jury deliberations in the federal corruption trial against Sen. Robert Menendez will have to start over. That’s the word from the federal courthouse in Newark, N.J., where the Democratic senator has been on trial on a total of 18 counts related to alleged public corruption, including allegations he took a slew of gifts for official acts.
The possibility of the jury having to begin its work again became real because of the unexpectedly long duration of the trial, with arguments going on for 10 weeks. One of the jurors had a pre-planned vacation next week.
Senior Judge William H. Walls, who has presided over the case, had promised that juror she would be allowed to be dismissed for the vacation. The lack of a verdict Thursday leading into the Veterans Day holiday means one of the alternate jurors would likely need to be brought into the deliberations, resetting the process.
CNN, Rand Paul and his neighbor haven’t talked in years, Maeve Reston, Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin, Nov. 9, 2017. It’s a case so mysterious that it borders on preposterous: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (shown in a file photo)A US senator allegedly tackled by a neighbor while mowing his lawn, an attack so vicious that Rand Paul ended up with six fractured ribs and bruises to his lungs that made it hard to breathe.
Washington Post, Former security chief says he rejected offer of women for Trump during Moscow trip, Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 9, 2017. Keith Schiller told House investigators this week that he turned down a suggestion that five women visit Donald Trump’s hotel room during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.There were no known witnesses as Rene Albert Boucher, an anesthesiologist and former colleague who has lived next door for 17 years, allegedly blindsided Paul last Friday by tackling him and throwing him to the ground. The only potential motive that emerged from interviews with a neighbor was that the two men had a long-running feud over leaves and lawn clippings along the property line they share.
Roll Call, Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte Not Running for Re-Election, Simone Pathé, Nov. 9, 2017. Goodlatte is term-limited as Judiciary Committee chairman.
Washington Post, Report: Popular comedian Louis C.K. accused of sexual misconduct, Elahe Izadi, Nov. 9, 2017. Five women came forward to accuse Louis C.K., commonly cited as one of the best American stand-up comics, of sexual misconduct, including masturbating in front of them, according to the New York Times.
Washington Post, Aaron Hernandez suffered from most severe CTE ever found in a person his age, study finds, Adam Kilgore, Nov. 9, 2017. Doctors released the postmortem results for the former Patriots tight end who hanged himself in prison.
Cops, Courts Around the Nation
Washington Post, Woman gets 120-day sentence for throwing urine on bus driver, says she was provoked, Martine Powers, Nov. 9, 2017. Opal Brown, 38, briefly apologized for her actions but argued that the assault was precipitated by a 30-minute argument with the bus operator.
Politico, Divided surveillance court revives drive to release opinions, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 9, 2017. Judges on a largely secret federal surveillance court divided sharply in a ruling released Thursday reviving an effort by transparency advocates to force greater disclosure of the court’s opinions.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court split, 6-5, in the first opinions ever handed down by the court’s full bench.
The majority opinion written by Judge James Boasberg found that the American Civil Liberties Union and a Yale Law School clinic had standing to challenge the government’s refusal to release portions of the court’s opinions. “Figuring out whether a plaintiff has standing to bring a novel legal claim can feel a bit like trying to distinguish a black cat in a coal cellar,” Boasberg wrote. “Whatever the merits of Movants’ suit, we conclude that they have asserted a sufficient injury-in-fact to pursue it.”
The decision overturned a ruling issued in January by FISC Judge Rosemary Collyer, who held that the ACLU and the Yale Media Freedom and Information Access clinic had no standing to press for access to records of the secretive court. Collyer stood by her position as she penned the court’s dissenting opinion, suggesting it was unwise to move forward with litigation aimed at forcing more transparency on a court whose work is by its very nature and purpose largely hidden from the public.
New York Times, Virginia Rejects Your Hateful Politics, Mr. Trump, Editorial board, Nov. 8, 2017 (print edition). Ralph Northam’s election as Virginia governor (the governor-elect is shown at right in a campaign photo) amid reportedly high turnout on Tuesday is a stinging and welcome rebuke to President Trump and white nationalism.
Washington Post, Analysis: Tuesday was a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election, James Hohmann, Nov. 8, 2017. Democrats had their best day politically since former president Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. Remember, conservatives scored significant victories in the November 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections. Democrats desperately needed some wins after they went all-in on a House special election in Georgia this spring and lost. Last night, they got them.
Voters came out in droves. They braved the rain and the cold to send a message to President Trump. The results across the country represent nothing less than a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election.
- Maine, where Trump won an electoral vote last year, became the first state to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative. Despite active opposition from the Republican governor and an influx of outside money, the measure passed by a nearly 20-point margin. This will mean health-care coverage for an estimated 70,000 low-income residents.
- Democrat Phil Murphy, a former banker and first-time candidate (shown at right), won the New Jersey governor’s race by 13 points over Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor. That’s on par with Clinton’s margin a year ago, but it’s a remarkable turnabout from four years ago — when Christie got reelected with a 22-point margin of victory. It means that Democrats will have unified control of the Garden State’s government.
- By winning a special election, Democrats took control of the Senate in Washington State. This gives the party full control of all three states on the West Coast: a blue wall of sorts.
Consortium News, Opinion: Trump and Democrats Misread Mandates, Robert Parry (shown at right, Nov. 8, 2017. Neither the Democrats nor President Trump learned the right lessons from the 2016 election, leaving the nation divided at home and bogged down in wars abroad.
New Witness Vindicates Siegelman Whistleblower In Iconic Alabama Frame-up
Legal Schnauzer, Alabama GOPers planned to include Karl Rove in meeting to discuss Siegelman indictment, Roger Shuler, Nov. 8, 2017. Blogger Roger Shuler has written hundreds of trenchant columns about the notorious federal-state frame-up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (shown above in a film poster), who completed a seven-year prison term on corruption charges earier this year), A veteran Montgomery lawyer says he was invited to a meeting where Alabama Republicans were to discuss a political prosecution of former governor Don Siegelman, according to an affidavit in a pending federal lawsuit. Former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove was hoping to attend the meeting.
Tommy Gallion, who has been involved with the Republican Party since 1972, says the late Winton Blount III invited him to a meeting, where a group of Republicans were to discuss their plan to work with newly appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (shown below at left) to indict Siegelman. Blount, a former gubernatorial candidate and chair of the Alabama Republican Party, died in February 2015. (The Gallion affidavit is embedded at the end of this post.)
Siegelman, in fact, was indicted and was convicted (along with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy) in what has become known as the most notorious political prosecution in U.S. history. It is the subject of a documentary (shown above) titled Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman, which has been shown at a number of locations around the Southeast in recent months.
Gallion’s sworn statement is entered as an exhibit in a pending federal lawsuit, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that attorney Joseph Siegelman (Don’s son) brought, seeking records about Canary’s supposed recusal in the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution. Records in that lawsuit, before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala, show the U.S. Department of Justice turned over the requested documents to the court on April 10.
Gallion’s sworn statement seems to support the claims of Alabama activist, opposition researcher, and retired attorney Jill Simpson (shown at right), who testified before Congress about a conference call where Business Council of Alabama president Bill Canary discussed a plan for “his girls” (Leura Canary and fellow U.S. attorney Alice Martin) to “take care of” Don Siegelman. Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, was among other Republicans reportedly on the call.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation/Analysis: Congressman with long criminal record authors measure to fire Robert Mueller, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 8, 2017 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission): It is, perhaps, fitting that the GOP congressman who has authored a resolution calling for the firing of the Justice Department special counsel investigating Donald Trump and members of his family and administration for criminal wrongdoing has his own long criminal record.
The Hill, Report: Omarosa caused White House problems with wedding photo shoot, Brett Samuels, Nov. 7, 2017. White House aide Omarosa Manigault sent White House staff into a panic with a bridal photo shoot, Politico reported Tuesday, with sources saying the incident was indicative of larger problems within her department.
Before getting married at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in April, Manigault, communications chief for the Office of Public Liaison (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait), reportedly brought members of her bridal party to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for an extended photo session.
It’s unclear if the former “Apprentice” contestant received permission for the shoot in advance, but security and White House aides were caught off guard and had to ban Manigault from posting the pictures online, citing security and ethical concerns.
The wedding photo incident is seen as illustrative of broader issues within the Public Liaison office, officials told Politico. The office has been disorganized, they said, and has already had a change in leadership since President Trump took office.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that while the office did not get off to a smooth start, it has done valuable work in connecting with veterans and religious groups. Sanders also praised Manigault for her outreach efforts with African-American communities.
Washington Post, Senator questions whether dismissal of U.S. attorney in Virginia was ‘justified,’ Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 8, 2017. Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) wants more details on why Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was asked to step down last month.
Boente (shown at right), who has also been serving as acting chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, announced last month that he will step down when a replacement is confirmed. He had been asked to do so by the Trump administration, several people with knowledge of the conversations confirmed.
“I cannot take on faith that this dismissal was normal or justified,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) wrote in a Nov. 7 letter to top Justice Department officials. “The Department of Justice and the White House should provide their reasoning for why someone like this, who was initially asked to continue serving in his important role, was suddenly forced to resign.”
Coons noted that U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president but questioned the timing of the move. Boente is the only U.S. attorney left in the country who was nominated by President Barack Obama.
Global News: Major Victory Over ISIS By Syrian Government, Allies
SouthFront, Syrian Army, Allies Liberated Al-Bukamal City From ISIS – Media (Map Update), Staff report, Nov. 8, 2017. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have liberated the strategic city of al-Bukamal from ISIS, the Hezbollah-linked al-Mayadin TV channel reported few moments ago.
[This was last ISIS-held population center of any size) at the Syrian-Iraqi border, and sits astrid a key highway linking Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon via Damascus.] Earlier on Wednesday, the SAA and Hezbollah officialy met with Iraqi forces in at the Syrian-Iraqi border, south of al-Bukamal. Then, government troops liberated the Ratka oil field, Suwayyah, al-Hiri, Huwayjat Baghuz and entered the city. Iraqi troops reportedly assisted the SAA in its advance.
SouthFront, Assad’s Top Advisor: What Happened In Iraqi Kurdistan “Should Be A lesson” To The SDF, Nov. 8, 2017. On November 7, Bouthaina Shaaban, a top adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, said during an interview to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV that what happened in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region “should be a lesson” to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
During the interview, Shaaban confirmed that the Syrian government is open for negotiations with everyone. However, al-Assad’s top advisor stressed that the division of Syria is not negotiable, in a clear hint to the SDF “Federal System” in eastern Syria.
Media, Conflict and History
New York Times, Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times Amid Fierce Backlash, Syney Ember and Brooks Barnes, Nov. 8, 2017 (print edition). Amid a growing backlash, the Walt Disney Company on Tuesday reversed its decision to bar The Los Angeles Times from press screenings of its movies following an investigation by the newspaper into the media giant’s business dealings in Anaheim.
Disney’s change of course came after a number of news outlets, including The New York Times and the A.V. Club, said they were boycotting advance screenings of Disney films in solidarity. The company also faced pressure from several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed “A Wrinkle in Time,” which is to be released by Disney on March 9.
New York Times, Work for Weinstein Pulls Lawyer Into an Ethical Debate, Matthew Goldstein and Adam Liptak, Nov. 8, 2017 (print edition). David Boies, known for Bush v. Gore but also aggressive battles for businesses, is drawing fire for helping Harvey Weinstein draft a contract to hire private investigators.
Washington Post, At National Archives, the boss, a Vietnam vet, orders up an exhibit on the war, Michael E. Ruane, Nov. 8, 2017. David Ferriero, a former Navy corpsman shown at right, said America is still wrestling with the war’s legacy. Now the archivist of the United States, he is the impetus behind a free exhibit running through Jan. 6 that displays some of the most striking documents relating to the war.
Ferriero, 71, said he wanted the institution to mount a Vietnam exhibit in part because so many of the war’s issues remain sensitive and unresolved. In a long career that took him to big jobs at major universities and libraries, “no one — no one — wanted to talk about it,” he said.
“No one asked me any questions,” he said. “No one acknowledged it. . . . Never was it the topic of conversation.” Ferriero, in a recent interview in his office, said he also knew that the Archives had “incredible material in the records — photographs and all of the military records, the unit records. We have a lot of stuff.”
Election Rigging Analysis Of Tuesday’s Results
Code Red, Recap of Nov. 7 results from election integrity perspective, Jonathan D. Simon (shown at right), Nov. 8, 2017. Jonathan Simon, author of “Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century, is executive director of the Election Defense Alliance, a grassroots effort to warn about ways that American elections are subject to computerized election theft without detection. He submitted the following comments as a reader comment to a Washington Post article about the Nov. 7 elections, and is reposting it on the Code Red website shown above:
Lest anyone for a minute believe that yesterday’s results — more or less a Democratic sweep — provide assurance that our elections are now secure and that no one is targeting 2018 or 2020 for votecount manipulation, please understand that there are many very good reasons that entities with capacity to interfere with the counting process in these particular contests would have taken a pass, which it appears they did.
1) The actual victory margins in key contests were large — altering outcomes would have brought the smell test very much into play.
2) The prizes, significant as they are, were a drop in the bucket compared to what is on the table in 2018. Given the now-heightened scrutiny of our election processes (and of course concerns about “the Russians”), it would make little strategic sense to trigger red flags now — thereby putting urgency into the effort to button-up election security before 2018.
3) Virginia had decertified its paperless machines (DREs), so that, unlike GA-6 this summer, recounts/audits would have been in play in the event of “issues” with the count (anomalous results, exit poll-votecount disparities, etc.). Election admin at the state level was under Democratic control. New Jersey, although using DREs, was simply too big a margin — a Guadagno win would have failed the smell test spectacularly.
The overarching analogy here is to the pool shark: missing makeable shots is part of the hustle, indeed essential to the hustle. Same for a poker cheat. If you win every hand, either no one will play or they will start making you play in short sleeves. You save those aces for the big pots.
We’ve been around this block many times. People can’t wait to say “There! You see, it’s all good now!” Strategically, rigging last night would have been idiotic, but we have to spell this out all over again, using small words. Don’t underestimate the “Obama Effect,” bought this time for pennies on the dollar.
The upshot is that yesterday’s results should do nothing to reassure anyone about the security of our elections or diminish by a hair the urgency of our efforts to restore public and observable vote counting. We have seen way too many aces drop out of sleeves to think for a minute that this game is being played straight. If we do, we’re the perfect mark.
Another Spacey Sex Scandal Claim
Kevin Spacey in a publicity shot for his hit show “House of Cards,” which is being cancelled at the end of this season after sex scandal claims
Huffington Post, Former TV Anchor Says Kevin Spacey Sexually Assaulted Her 18-Year-Old Son, Julia Brucculieri, Nov. 8, 2017. “Nothing could have prepared my son for how that sexual assault would make him feel as a man,” Heather Unruh said.
Regulators Questioning Mega-Media Merger: Report
New York Times, Justice Dept. May Seek CNN Sale Before Backing Merger, Michael J. De La Merced, Emily Steel, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Cecilia Kang, Michael J. De La Merced, Emily Steel, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Cecilia Kang, Nov. 8, 2017. The $85.4 billion deal could hinge on whether AT&T and Time Warner agree to sell Turner Broadcasting, the group of cable channels that includes CNN.
The Justice Department’s demands set up a potential battle over the fate of the deal, an attempt to create a new telecommunications and media colossus.
Trump Trip To Japan: The Golf Game
Washington Post, On the golf course, Japan’s Abe did a ninja stunt — and Trump didn’t even notice, Anna Fifield, Nov. 8, 2017. It seemed like President Trump’s visit to Japan went without any mishaps. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feted and flattered his American counterpart with golf games and hamburgers. They both repeatedly talked about the strength of the alliance (and their bromance.)
Now, video footage has emerged showing that the trip did not, in fact, pass without any spills. Literally. While they were on the green at the swanky Kasumi Country Club on Sunday, Abe fell into a bunker and performed a ninja-like stunt — all without Trump’s knowledge.
Democrats Win Big In Viriginia, New Jersey Voting
Washington Post, Northam defeats Gillespie in Va., giving Democrats first key win in Trump era, Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella and Fenit Nirappil, Nov. 7, 2017. Democrat Ralph Northam (shown above) was projected to win Virginia’s race for governor Tuesday over Republican Ed Gillespie, as Democrats appeared headed for a big night across the board in races for lieutenant governor, attorney general and several key seats in the House of Delegates, based on exit polls and early returns.
Virginia’s election has been closely watched nationwide as a test of President Donald Trump’s status and impact on the tenor of politics in every state. From Korea,
Trump wasted no time lashing out at Gillespie. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for” the president tweeted before the final tally was in.
- Northam (D) 1,322,165 53.9%
- Gillespie (R) 1,119,915 44.9%
- 99% of precincts reporting
Washington Post, Democrat Phil Murphy defeats Kim Guadagno in New Jersey governor’s race, Amber Phillips, Nov. 7, 2017. The first-time candidate won the governor’s seat back for Democrats, capping a tumultuous eight years of Republican Gov. Chris Christie leading the state. Democrats took back the governor’s seat in New Jersey as first-time candidate Phil Murphy (shown at right) defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), capping a tumultuous eight years of term-limited Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s leading the state.
The party also is poised to cement its 12-year control of both houses of the state legislature, putting Democrats back in control of the entire state.
In a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for president in almost 30 years, Guadagno struggled to get out from the shadow of two controversial Republicans: President Trump and her boss for the past eight years, Christie (shown at left), whose approval rating has hovered around 15 percent over the past few months, has been plagued by scandals and public-relations missteps during his two terms.
Shocking Details Emerge About Texas Mass Murderer
Texas church killer Devin P. Kelley (more recent photo at right)
Washington Post, Texas gunman escaped from mental health facility in 2012; Kelley was ‘attempting to carry out death threats,’ according to police report, Eva Ruth Moravec and Mark Berman, Nov. 7, 2017. The gunman who opened fire in a church outside San Antonio, killing at least 26 people, escaped from a mental health facility in 2012 after he was caught sneaking guns onto an Air Force base and “attempting to carry out death threats” made against military superiors, according to a police report.
The report said officers with the El Paso, police were dispatched to a bus terminal after Devin P. Kelley‘s escape from a behavioral facility about seven miles away in New Mexico. Officers wrote they were told Kelley, who intended to take a bus out of the state, “was a danger to himself and others” at the time and noted that he “was also facing military criminal charges.”
This incident occurred the same year that Kelley was court-martialed. He was charged with abusing his wife and her son between April 2011 and April 2012 and then sentenced in November 2012, according to Air Force documents.
Washington Post, Air Force failure enabled Texas gunman to obtain firearms; FBI was not alerted to ex-service member’s assault convictionm, Alex Horton, Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition). Devin P. Kelley should have been barred from purchasing guns because of a 2014 domestic violence conviction. But the Air Force said it failed to follow policies for alerting federal law enforcement about Kelley’s violent past, allowing him to buy weapons before the deadly rampage in Sutherland Springs, Tex.
Washington Post, Trump says ‘hundreds more’ might have died in Texas if gun laws were tougher, David Nakamura, Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition). President Trump on Tuesday asserted that tougher gun laws would not have stopped the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Tex., last weekend and in fact “hundreds more” would have died had another man not been able to “neutralize” the alleged killer with a gun of his own.
Asked during a news conference here whether he would entertain “extreme vetting” on guns, Trump appeared irritated by the question and suggested it was not appropriate to talk about “in the heart of South Korea.”
House Probe Of Trump Russian Connections
New York Times, Trump Aide Details Russia Contacts During 2016 Race, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Goldman, Nov. 7, 2017. Carter Page (shown in a file photo from a page video appearance), the former adviser, offered new details during eight hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, which has released a transcript of his remarks.
New York Times, Syria Joins Paris Climate Accord, Leaving Only U.S. Opposed, Lisa Friedman, Nov. 7, 2017. Then there was one. Syria announced during United Nations climate talks on Tuesday that it would sign the Paris agreement on climate change. The move, which comes on the heels of Nicaragua signing the accord last month, will leave the United States as the only country that has rejected the global pact.
Washington Post, Opinion: Our political parties can’t save themselves, Michael Gerson, Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition). Arguably the worst president in modern history might still beat one of the most prominent Democrats in the United States. This indicates a Democratic Party in the midst of its own profound crisis. During the Obama years, it collapsed in large portions of the country. Its national establishment has been revealed — with extensive footnotes provided by Donna Brazile — as arrogant, complacent and corrupt. But the only serious ideological alternative to that establishment is frankly socialist — the fatuous and shallow sort of socialism held by college freshmen and Bernie Sanders.
Washington Post, Opinion: Welcome to the new gilded age, Dana Milbank (shown at right), Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition) Corporations are people, my friend. And this is where they feed.
Room 1100 of the Longworth Building, with its ionic columns, gilt-fringed curtains and eagle-topped frieze, has for 80 years been the home of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. But perhaps never before have corporations wielded their power as openly as they have here this week.
Washington Post, A former New York Times reporter wonders if Weinstein sabotaged her 13 years ago, Callum Borchers, Nov. 7, 2017. Harvey Weinstein’s attorney, David Boies, hired private investigators to try to kill the New York Times’s report on sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein that the newspaper ultimately published in October.
That’s just one of the startling revelations in Ronan Farrow’s latest New Yorker piece, which chronicles the Hollywood titan’s elaborate effort to silence accusers and journalists through deception and intimidation. The attempt to stop the Times from publishing last month’s article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey failed, obviously.
Less clear is whether a similar sabotage campaign might have successfully hindered a previous reporting project by the Times in 2004.
“Don’t know,” said Sharon Waxman, the former Times reporter who pursued sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein 13 years ago. “But,” she added, the New Yorker article “has me thinking too, of course.”
Particularly alarming, from the Times’s perspective, is that Boies — a prominent lawyer best known for representing Al Gore during the presidential-election recount of 2000 — worked to undermine the paper’s recent reporting on Weinstein while he was on the Times’s payroll, providing counsel on unrelated matters.
“We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe,” the Times said in a statement. Speaking to Farrow for the New Yorker piece, Boies said he did not see a conflict of interest between his work for Weinstein and his work for the Times.
Saudi Power Grab Turns Bloody
SouthFront, Second Saudi Prince Is Dead In 24 Hours: This Time In Firefight With Security Forces, Staff and wire report, Nov. 7, 2017.Just hours after the death of Prince Mansour bin Muqrin in a helicopter “crash” in the Saudi province of Asir, the Saudi Royal Court announced the death of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd.
The second prince was reportedly killed during a firefight with security forces, which were attempting to arrest him. The death of Prince Aziz was the latest incident in a series of arrests and crackdowns started by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (shown at right).
Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon, B, Nov. 7, 2017. The Saudi clown prince Mohammed bin Salman is purging all potential internal resistance and solidifies his dictatorial position. (The move includes a huge money grab. All assets of those accused of corruption are confiscated by the state which, in Saudi Arabia, is the tyrant himself.) The internal consolidation of power is the prelude for a larger external venture.
At the same time as the internal purges proceed, MbS implements an extremely aggressive foreign policy agenda targeted at Iran and its allies. Having been defeated in Iraq and Syria and at stalemate in Qatar and Yemen the Saudi ruler decided to try his luck in Lebanon. The Saudi declares war on Lebanon and will put enormous economic and political pressure on it. But all of that will be to no avail. The war will only cause Lebanon to move deeper into the “resistance” camp an join its forces with Syria, Iran and Russia.
The Saudi plans are well coordinated with the United States and have the full support of the Israeli government. There is little the Saudis can do militarily hurt Lebanon. They might want to move their Al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters from Syria to Lebanon but that will require Turkish cooperation. Even those forces would be no match for Hizbullah, as it is deeply anchored within the population of Lebanon.
Washington Post, A former New York Times reporter wonders if Weinstein sabotaged her 13 years ago, Callum Borchers, Nov. 8, 2017. Harvey Weinstein’s attorney, David Boies, hired private investigators to try to kill the New York Times’s report on sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein that the newspaper ultimately published in October.
That’s just one of the startling revelations in Ronan Farrow’s latest New Yorker piece, which chronicles the Hollywood titan’s elaborate effort to silence accusers and journalists through deception and intimidation. The attempt to stop the Times from publishing last month’s article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey failed, obviously.
Less clear is whether a similar sabotage campaign might have successfully hindered a previous reporting project by the Times in 2004.
“Don’t know,” said Sharon Waxman, the former Times reporter who pursued sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein 13 years ago. “But,” she added, the New Yorker article “has me thinking too, of course.”
Particularly alarming, from the Times’s perspective, is that Boies — a prominent lawyer best known for representing Al Gore during the presidential-election recount of 2000 — worked to undermine the paper’s recent reporting on Weinstein while he was on the Times’s payroll, providing counsel on unrelated matters.
“We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe,” the Times said in a statement. Speaking to Farrow for the New Yorker piece, Boies said he did not see a conflict of interest between his work for Weinstein and his work for the Times.
JFK Records Release Analysis
Future of Freedom Foundation, Martin Luther King and Lee Harvey Oswald, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov 7, 2017. The mainstream media and the acolytes of the U.S. national-security establishment continue to emphasize that there are no “smoking guns” in the tiny (2 percent) of the 50-year-old JFK records that President Trump, the National Archives, and the CIA have recently permitted the American people to see.
Of course, these people define “smoking gun” as a videotaped confession or a memorandum summarizing how and why the CIA orchestrated the November 22, 1963 regime-change operation. If the released records don’t contain a confession or such a memorandum, then in the minds of the people that means the official narrative must stand: A lone-nut former U.S. Marine communist with no motive suddenly decided to kill the president.
The records that the National Archives just released included a secret FBI analysis on civil-rights leader Martin Luther King.
The thrust of the analysis is that King was a communist, and an immoral communist at that. In a November 4, 2017, article entitled “In the Latest JFK Files: The FBI’s Ugly Analysis on Martin Luther King, Jr., Filled With Falsehoods,” the Washington Post writes: “The 20-page document, dated March 12, three weeks before King was assassinated in Memphis, is included in the latest trove of government files about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which the National Archives released Friday. It alleges that King’s political ideologies and the creation of his civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, were heavily influenced by communists, specifically the Communist Party USA.”
One big question that arises, of course, is why the FBI chose to keep this 50-year-old analysis secret from the American people until now.
One possibility, of course, is that the FBI was just embarrassed about having published such a report.
A second possibility, however, is that the FBI orchestrated the assassination of King and decided that the analysis would constitute evidence of motive. After all, don’t forget, this was the era of the Cold War, when the CIA was targeting communists for assassination. Before anyone cries, “Conspiracy theory, Jacob!” let’s not forget that in a civil lawsuit brought by King’s family, after weighing all the evidence the jury found, in its official verdict, that government agencies conspired to kill King.
Does the FBI analysis on King have any bearing on the Kennedy assassination? Actually, yes. That’s where critical thinking, circumstantial evidence, inferential thinking, and common sense come into play.
Terror Attack At Texas Church
Texas killer Devin P. Kelley (more recent photo at right)
New York Times, Gunman Broke Skull of Infant Stepson in 2012 Assault, Dave Philipps and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Nov. 6, 2017. While stationed at a base in New Mexico, Mr. Kelley was charged with “assault on his spouse and assault on their child,” according to the Air Force.
Washington Post, Who is Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman officials say killed churchgoers in Sutherland Springs? Derek Hawkins and Julie Tate, Nov. 6, 2017. Gunman was sentenced to year in military prison for assault on his wife and child. Authorities are still trying to determine what led the 26-year-old shooter to open fire in the church. Officials described the shooter’s weapon as a Ruger AR-556, an assault-style rifle similar to those used by the military. CNN, citing a law enforcement source, reported that Kelley purchased the weapon in April 2016 from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio.
Washington Post, An unlikely hero describes gun battle and 95 mph chase with Texas shooting suspect, Kyle Swenson, Nov. 6, 2017. Johnnie Langendorff was driving to his girlfriend’s house when he stumbled into the massacre.
Cover-Up Exposed In U.S. Military Deaths In Niger?
Washington Post, U.S. soldiers killed in Niger were targeting Islamist militants, raising questions for the Pentagon, Sudarsan Raghavan, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The Pentagon had said the troops were on a low-risk reconnaissance mission in Niger (shown on map). They were, instead, in a dangerous battle zone helping to track and fight militants along the Mali border, according to Niger’s defense minister and a wounded soldier who survived the attack.
Massive Military Contracting Scandal Grows
Washington Post, ‘Fat Leonard’ probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals, Craig Whitlock, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The investigation into the worst corruption scandal in Navy history has grown to include 60 current and former admirals and their dealings with Leonard Glenn Francis who pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing “scores” of officials and defrauding the service out of more than $35 million.
Commentary On GOP Tax Cut Plan
Washington Post, Opinion: Three (almost) inexplicable parts of the Republican tax plan, Lawrence H. Summers, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). With the release of the Republican tax proposal, the most important tax debate in a generation is in full swing. Most reasonable experts agree that tax reform has the potential to spur investment and raise wages while also simplifying the system and increasing its fairness and legitimacy. The right question for debate is not the desirability of tax reform or even of business tax reform directed at spurring investment. It is the likely economic effect of particular proposals.
U.S. Politics: Virginia Election Tuesday
Washington Post, Opinion: The Northam-Gillespie election is once in a lifetime, E.J. Dionne Jr., Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). On Tuesday, Virginia’s voters confront what will almost certainly be the most consequential election for governor of their lifetimes. The contest between Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie matters for the state, of course, but its implications will be even larger for the nation.
New York Times, Wave of G.O.P. Departures Promises to Reshape House, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The retirement announcements last week of the Science and Financial Services chairmen brought to 27 the number of Republicans who have left or are leaving.
New York Times, Wave of G.O.P. Departures Promises to Reshape House, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The retirement announcements last week of the Science and Financial Services chairmen brought to 27 the number of Republicans who have left or are leaving.
Commentary On JFK Records Release On Nov. 3
Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The National Archives: Lawbreaker and Cover-Upper, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at right), Nov. 6, 2017. On October 26, 2017, the National Archives, an independent federal agency that is headed by a man named David Ferriero, became a federal lawbreaker.
On that date, the National Archives became legally obligated to release to the public all of the CIA’s and other federal agencies’ files relating to the JFK assassination in its possession. On that date, the National Archives failed and refused to release those long-secret records in its possession. On that date, the National Archives, under Ferriero’s auspices, became a federal lawbreaker.
In 1991, the movie JFK, directed by Oliver Stone, was released. The movie posited that the assassination of President Kennedy was orchestrated by the CIA and other elements of the U.S. national-security establishment as part of a U.S. regime-change operation designed to protect the country from a president whose policies and practices, they felt, constituted a grave threat to national security. (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne.)
JFK Facts.org, Where to find a JFK smoking gun: in the coming FBI files, Jefferson Morley, Nov. 6, 2017. (Jefferson Morley (shown at right), Washington bureau chief of AlterNet and editor of JFKFacts.org, has authored two books on CIA executives relevant to the Kennedy Assassination, most recently on Oct. 24: The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.)
There is at least one potential smoking gun in the new JFK files, and it may soon come into public view. As I explained to the Washington Post: “one of the more interesting documents to emerge involves a CIA cable about Oswald’s contacts in Mexico City that had up until Friday been partially redacted. The Oct. 8, 1963 cable discussed Oswald’s interactions with a Soviet consular official named Valery Kostikov, the reputed head of the KGB’s assassinations operations. On Friday, the CIA cable’s slugline was finally declassified. The title: LCIMPROVE.”
If there is a “smoking gun” in the JFK files, it will be found in the FBI’s curious response to the October 8, 1963 cable. The next day, October 9, 1963, the FBI made a curious decision that has long puzzled JFK researchers and historians. Senior agents in Washington removed Oswald’s name from a list of persons of interest to FBI headquarters. Six weeks later, Oswald was arrested for shooting JFK.
In other words, the day after the CIA’s top counterintelligence official was informed that Oswald had met with possible KGB officer in Mexico City, the FBI decided that Oswald was no longer worthy of close scrutiny. The FBI files, scheduled for release, will likely shed light on this fateful decision. The FBI has previously released internal records about why the so-called “Flash” notice on Oswald was cancelled but they are filled with redactions. If and when those redactions are removed, we may learn who was shielding Oswald from law enforcement attention as he made his way to Dallas.
Fights For Civil Rights
Reporters Without Borders, Virginia police chief defends brutal arrest of journalist covering a parade, staff report, Nov. 6, 2017. On Monday, October 31, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler held a press conference defending his officers’ use of force against a journalist arrested the weekend before. News website Shareblue announced that their reporter, Mike Stark, was arrested on October 28 after filming Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s campaign vehicle at a parade in Annandale, Virginia.
According to videos taken by eyewitnesses, police officers ordered him to cease filming the video, which Stark refused to do. The officers told Stark he would not be able to ask the candidate any questions. After a brief verbal exchange, five officers slammed Stark face-first on the ground, applied pressure, and charged him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
During the press conference, police chief Roessler defended his officers’ actions, stating that Stark’s use of profanity is what led the officers to arrest him, citing a county ordinance.
Georgetown Law Center, Trump Blocking Critics on Twitter Violates First Amendment, Argues New Brief Filed by Georgetown Law, Staff report, Nov. 6, 2017. President Trump’s use of Twitter violates the First Amendment, Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) argued in an amicus brief that it filed today on behalf of leading First Amendment scholars such as Erwin Chemerinsky, Lyrissa Lidsky, and Larry Tribe.
The brief supports a lawsuit brought by Columbia’s Knight Institute challenging Trump’s practice of blocking critics from his @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed.
ICAP’s brief argues that, by fostering a dialogue on @realDonaldTrump that includes official statements of government policy, responses by other Twitter users, and replies by the president to those responses, the president has created a digital-age public forum. And, in a public forum, well established legal precedent makes clear that viewpoint discrimination – such as blocking critics while allowing supporters to express their views – violates the First Amendment.
Saudi Leadership Purge Freezes Billionaires’ Funds
Reuters, Saudi banks freeze accounts of suspects detained in probe: sources, Staff report, Nov. 6, 2017. Saudi Arabian banks have begun freezing the accounts of suspects ensnared in an anti-corruption probe, banking and business sources told Reuters on Monday. Dozens of people including royals, ministers and businessmen have been detained in an investigation by a new anti-corruption body headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The central bank ordered banks to freeze the accounts of people under investigation in the probe, the sources said, declining to be named because he was not authorized to talk to media.
Global News: ISIS ‘Last Days’ Loom In Syria, Iraq?
SouthFront, ISIS’ Self-Proclaimed “Caliphate” Is Witnessing Its Last Days In Syria And Iraq, Staff report, Nov. 6, 2017 (video with maps). The self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS has suffered a double blow in Syria and Iraq. While US-backed forces were democratically negotiating with ISIS-linked Arab tribes in the Omar oil fields and nearby areas, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and the Republican Guard supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces undemocratically crushed the ISIS defense inside Deir Ezzor city.
Asia Times, The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives, Pepe Escobar. Nov. 6, 2017.Princes, ministers and a billionaire are ‘imprisoned’ in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton while the Saudi Arabian Army is said to be in an uproar. The House of Saud’s King Salman devises an high-powered “anti-corruption” commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman. Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.
GOP Tax ‘Cut’ Impact
Washington Post, They spent years planning and preparing for the cost of living with Alzheimer’s. The GOP tax bill threatens those plans, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Nov. 5, 2017 (print edition). As the Republican tax plan took shape, Richard Davis and Diane Thorsen felt as though the rug was being pulled out from under them. Deductions for medical expenses would be eliminated under the Republican plan, and they expect they’ll pay tens of thousands more if the plan passes.
In their plan to cut taxes and declutter the tax code, Republicans have proposed repealing all but a small handful of tax breaks. But people rely on those tax breaks in budgeting for medical expenses, adopting children, replacing stolen or disaster-damaged property, and even paying for business expenses.
Papers Reveal Major Scandals By Ultra-Rich
British Queen Elizabeth
BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.), Paradise Papers: Tax haven secrets of ultra-rich exposed, BBC Paradise Papers reporting team, Nov. 5, 2017. A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen’s private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.
Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (shown at right) is shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.
The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance. BBC Panorama is part of nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers.
As with last year’s Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to oversee the investigation. The Guardian is among the nearly 100 media partners involved in investigating the documents.
Sunday’s revelations form only a small part of a week of disclosures that will expose the tax and financial affairs of some of the hundreds of people and companies named in the data, some with strong UK connections. Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy.
Washington Post, 3,200 wealthy individuals wouldn’t pay estate tax next year under GOP plan, Heather Long, Nov. 5, 2017 More than 3,000 Americans would not have to pay the estate tax next year if the Republican tax bill is passed, a 64 percent reduction from the 5,000 people who would pay under current law, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation — one of the most glaring ways the proposed legislation benefits a small number of wealthy Americans.
Under current law, Americans can pass along homes, land, stocks or other assets worth up to $5.49 million without paying any estate or gift tax. Estates worth more than that are subject to a 40 percent tax. The House GOP bill would double the threshold to $11.2 million in 2018 and then do away with the tax entirely in 2024. For 2018, that means an estimated 3,200 people would not have to pay.
In total, the reduction and ultimate elimination of the estate tax would cost taxpayers $172 billion over a decade. The figures were contained in a JCT analysis that was obtained by The Washington Post.
More On Special Counsel Probe Of Russian Influence On Trump Circles
Washington Post, At least 9 people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign, transition, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 5, 2017. President Trump has downplayed the significance of the events and people involved, but documents released as part of adviser George Papadopoulos’s guilty plea show that they are a focus for special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s probe. The new court filings reveal more details about the extent to which Trump’s campaign became a magnet for people who believed U.S. policy toward Russia should change.
Washington Post, Rick Gates, once the man ‘in the corner,’ is now a central figure in the Mueller probe, Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 5, 2017. The low-key operative who served as Paul Manafort’s deputy controlled as many as 30 bank accounts in the past six months, including several in Cyprus, according to prosecutors.
New York Times, Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments, Jesse Drucker, Nov. 5, 2017. Leaked files show that a state-controlled bank in Moscow helped to fuel Yuri Milner’s ascent in Silicon Valley, where the Russia investigationhas put tech companies under scrutiny.
In the fall of 2010, the Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner took the stage for a Q. and A. at a technology conference in San Francisco. Mr. Milner, whose holdings have included major stakes in Facebook and Twitter, is known for expounding on everything from the future of social media to the frontiers of space travel. But when someone asked a question that had swirled around his Silicon Valley ascent — Who were his investors? — he did not answer, turning repeatedly to the moderator with a look of incomprehension.
Now, leaked documents examined by The New York Times offer a partial answer: Behind Mr. Milner’s investments in Facebook and Twitter were hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kremlin.
And a big investor in Mr. Milner’s Facebook deal received financing from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled financial institution, according to the documents. They include a cache of records from the Bermuda law firm Appleby that were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and reviewed by The Times in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Ultimately, Mr. Milner’s companies came to own more than 8 percent of Facebook and 5 percent of Twitter, helping earn him a place on various lists of the world’s most powerful business people. His companies sold those holdings several years ago, but he retains investments in several other large technology companies and continues to make new deals. Among Mr. Milner’s current investments is a real estate venture founded and partly owned by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser.
Trump Tanks In Polling
Washington Post, Trump’s approval rating is far lower than any president in 7 decades of polling, Dan Balz and Scott Clement, Nov. 5, 2017. A majority of Americans say President Trump has not accomplished much during his first nine months in office, and they have delivered a report card that is far harsher even than the tepid expectations they set for his tenure when he was sworn into office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey.
Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans — 37 percent — say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job. His disapproval rating has reached 59 percent, with 50 percent saying they strongly disapprove of the job he is doing. Although the ratings have changed little in the past four months, both represent the worst marks of his presidency.
He is the only president dating back to Harry S. Truman whose approval rating at this point in his presidency is net negative — by 22 points. The next worst recorded in that time was Bill Clinton, who had a net positive of 11 points by this time in his presidency.
Global News: Trump Role In Major Saudi Shake-up, Arrests?
New York Times, Trump Tells Saudi King That He Supports Modernization Drive, Mark Landler, Nov. 5, 2017. President Trump, shown in a Defense Department file photo, has spoken with the king of Saudi Arabia to offer a wholehearted endorsement of a drive to modernize the kingdom, as the Saudi authorities arrested scores of prominent business people and ministers in a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown.
In an unusually lengthy and detailed readout of the call made on Saturday, the White House said that Mr. Trump had thanked King Salman for Saudi Arabia’s support in fighting terrorism and for its purchase of military equipment from the United States. And he praised the king’s favorite son and top adviser, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (shown at right), for his recent calls for tolerance and moderation in Saudi society.
“The king and crown prince’s recent public statements regarding the need to build a moderate, peaceful and tolerant region are essential to ensuring a hopeful future for the Saudi people, to curtailing terrorist funding, and to defeating radical ideology — once and for all — so the world can be safe from its evil,” the White House said in the statement.
The White House statement made no mention of the scores of arrests, including that of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor who has held stakes in an array of Western companies, including the News Corporation, Citigroup and Twitter. Prince Mohammed, who has already sidelined rivals to the throne, is viewed as the mastermind behind the crackdown.
Prince Alwaleed sparred with Mr. Trump on Twitter during the presidential election, referring to him as a “disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.” Mr. Trump fired back, also on Twitter, that he was a “dopey prince” trying to “control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money.”
Global News: Saudis Purge Leaders
Washington Post, Saudi Arabia detains princes, ministers and billionaire investor in extraordinary purge, Kareem Fahim, Nov. 5, 2017. Saudi officials framed the arrests as part of an initiative to root out graft in the kingdom. But it also appeared to be part of an effort by the ambitious crown prince to consolidate power by eliminating rivals in the event that his father, King Salman, abdicates the throne. Detained billionaire prince Prince Alwaleed (shown at right) holds major stakes in Apple, Citibank.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s allies reveal they know he’s finished, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2017. When alleged career criminal Paul Manafort was informed that he was eventually going to be indicted and arrested in the Trump-Russia scandal, he didn’t suddenly try to straighten up his act. Instead he took a high paying overseas consulting job, which seemed remarkably similar to the gigs that got him into legal trouble to begin with, in an attempt to land one more big payday before he had to hunker down and fight a prolonged battle against impending criminal charges.
There’s a lesson in there about how people like Paul Manafort tend to behave when they think they’re about to be finished. It informs us that Donald Trump’s other allies, the important ones around the world who pull his strings, are accelerating their own plans because they think that Trump is about to be finished.
Last night the crown prince of Saudi Arabia had eleven of his fellow princes arrested on what appear to be bogus corruption charges, including the wealthy and powerful Prince Alwaleed, in an aggressive power grab.
Last weekend, Jared Kushner (right) took a secret trip to Saudi Arabia. Just hours before the arrests began, Donald Trump posted a tweet about the IPO of a Saudi Arabian government oil company. We don’t know what role Trump and Kushner played in the palace coup – but from their actions it’s clear they had some role in it.
Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Saudi Arabia — This ‘Night Of The Long Knives’ Is A Panic-Fueled Move, B, Nov. 5, 2017. Yesterday the ruling Salman clan in Saudi Arabia executed a “Night of the Long Knives” cleansing the state of all potential competition. The Saudi King Salman and his son Clown Prince Mohammad bin Salman initiated a large arrest wave and purge of high ranking princes and officials. Part of this internal coup was the confiscation of huge financial estates to the advantage of the Salman clan.
In Saudi Arabia, eleven princes, including sons of the deceased King Abdullah, more than thirty former and acting ministers as well as the heads of three major TV stations were taken into custody or put under house arrest. The National Guard Commander Prince Mitieb Bin Abdullah was relieved from his post and replaced with Prince Khalid Bin Abdulaziz al Muqrin. The National Guard was the last intelligence and security power center held by the Abdullah branch of the al-Saud family.
One of the arrested persons is the allegedly sixth richest man of the world, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. He has (had?) an estimated net-worth between $18 and $32 billion. Al-Waleed had publicly clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump. (Al-Waleed is (was?) the largest shareholder of Citigroup, which selected [sic] Barack Obama’s cabinet before receiving a huge government bailout.) Another casualty is Bakr bin Laden, brother of Osama Bin Laden, chairman of the Saudi Binladin Group and fifth richest man of the country.
Official pretext for the purge are corruption allegations going back to 2009. This financial subterfuge will allow the ruling Salmans to confiscate the wealth of the accused. The total haul of this raid will amount to dozens of billions of dollars.
The events in Lebanon and Riyadh would have been impossible without U.S. approval and support. In late October, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia.
President Trump, Saudi King Salman and Egyptian leader Abdel al Sissi
In a tweet yesterday, Donald Trump, sworn to the Wahhabi orb, named the price for his consent and cooperation: “Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump – 12:49 PM – 4 Nov 2017: “Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!” A primary listing of Aramco oil conglomerate at the NYSE will give the U.S. government regulatory and legal authority over the most valuable company of the world.
Since the incapacitated King Salman took the throne in Riyadh his ruthless 32-year-old son Mohammad bin Salman has taken control of all branches of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi launched a war on a defenseless Yemen and supported al-Qaeda, ISIS and other “rebels” against the Iraqi and Syrian governments. He split the Gulf Cooperation Council by attacking Qatar.
After a stalemate in Yemen and Qatar and losing in Iraq and Syria he has now initiated a war against Hizbullah in Lebanon. None of these bloody initiatives has achieved its aim of weakening the influence of the perceived enemy Iran. All of them helped Iran to consolidate its position. The financial position of the Saudi state is in disarray.Yesterday’s purge can be perceived as a panic-fueled move. All of Bin Salman’s endeavors have failed.
‘Global News: Syrians Winning Race To Last ISIS Stronghold?
SouthFront, Syrian Army, Hezbollah Reach Iraqi Border Near Al-Bukamal (Map), Staff and wires, Nov. 5, 2017. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) (shown in a file photo) and Hezbollah have reached the Iraqi border southwest of the ISIS-held town of al-Bukamal, according to pro-government sources.
The SAA and Hezbollah are now deployed near Akash fields and de-facto control the road headign to the Iraqi city of al-Qaim, which was liberated by the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units on Friday. As soon as Syrian forces liberate Akash and secure their flanks, they will push towards al-Bukamal. Some sources say that ISIS members are now withdrawing from their stronghold. If true, al-Bukamal will be liberated within few days.
SouthFront, Over 100 Refugees Killed In ISIS Suicide Attack In Deir Ezzor; SDF Advances Towards Al-Bukamal, Staff and wires, Nov. 5, 2017. On November 4, The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that a VBIED of ISIS attacked a gathering of Syrian refugees between the CONICO gas facility and the Jafra oil field north of Deir Ezzor city. The SDF said that over 100 civilians were killed and dozens others were injured in the attack. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) also said that ISIS was behind the attack on the civilian refugees.
Meanwhile, Kurdish sources claimed that the SDF advanced in the southeastern Deir Ezzor countryside and captured Sarhit, Shudayha, Younes, Galban and Shaitat oil fields south of the al-Tanak oil field. However, the SDF is yet to confirm these claims.If this advance is confirmed, the SDF will be only 40~50km away from the last ISIS stronghold in Syria, al-Bukamal.
At Least 27 Dead In Texas Church Shooting
Washington Post, Multiple people dead after shooting at church near San Antonio, officials say, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 5, 2017. Local authorities have yet to confirm details about the victims at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, but Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told The Post that at least 27 were dead and more than 20 injured. The gunman has been killed, he said.
ABC affiliate KSAT is reporting that the man walked into the church, opened fire and was later killed by police, though a dispatcher for the Wilson County sheriff declined to confirm and said information will be released later.
Kentucky Senator Hurt In Home Attack
Associated Press via Daily Beast, Rand Paul Recovering From Five Broken Ribs After Home Assault, Staff report, Nov. 5, 2017. Sen. Rand Paul (shown in a file photo) is recovering from five broken ribs after he was assaulted in his home on Friday. A senior adviser for Paul said the Kentucky Republican is in considerable pain and is having trouble moving around. Three of his ribs have displaced fractures, which can cause life-threatening injuries and longterm pain. Rene Boucher, Paul’s next door neighbor, was arrested on Saturday and charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault with a minor injury.
Ex-DNC Leader Say’s ‘No Rigging’ Of 2016 Primaries After Explosive Claims
Washington Post, There is ‘no evidence’ primaries were rigged for Hillary Clinton, Donna Brazile says, Philip Rucker, Nov. 5, 2017. The comments from the former chair of the Democratic National Committee came on the heels of a Post report about her upcoming memoir, in which she writes blistering criticism of the Clinton campaign.
Washington Post, Trump breaches boundaries by saying law enforcement should be ‘going after’ Democrats, Philip Rucker and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 4, 2017 (print edition). President Trump (shown in a graphic created during the 2016 campaign) repeatedly called on the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate his political opponents, overstepping traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized. In a flurry of tweets, he called for criminal probes of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, a day after he acknowledged that presidents aren’t supposed to intervene in such decisions.
New York Times, ‘Frustrated’ Trump Wishes for Power Over Justice System, Peter Baker, Nov. 4, 2017 (print edition). One of President Trump’s biggest disappointments in office, by his own account, was discovering that he is not supposed to personally direct law enforcement decisions by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. So, instead, he has made himself into perhaps the most vocal critic of America’s system of justice ever to occupy the Oval Office.
Just this week, he denounced the criminal justice system as “a joke” and “a laughingstock.” He demanded that the suspect in the New York terrorist attack be executed. He spent Friday berating the Justice Department and F.B.I. for not investigating his political opponents. He then turned to the military justice system and called a court-martial decision “a complete and total disgrace.”
The repeated assaults on law enforcement cross lines that presidents have largely observed since the Watergate era, raising questions about the separation of politics and the law. But as extraordinary as Mr. Trump’s broadsides are, perhaps more striking is that investigators and prosecutors are so far ignoring the head of the executive branch in which they serve while military judges and juries are for the most part disregarding the opinions of their commander in chief.
Former Congressional Researcher Blasts CIA, Trump, Congress, Media Over Suppressed JFK Documents
Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), The intelligence community flips off America, Dan Hardway, Nov. 4, 2017. The author (shown at left) is an attorney in private practice and a former investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), created by the House in 1976 to reinvestigate the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Angleton (shown at right James Angleton at a 1975 senate intelligence hearing in a New York Times photo by George Tames) set the [CIA’s JFK assassination HSCA] strategy in 1964: “Jim would prefer to wait out the Commission,” as one CIA memo about Warren Commission inquiries put it. They are still doing that as well as running their propaganda campaign against anyone who questions the lone-nut theory, their “best truth” according to [the CIA’s historian] David Robarge.
NARA released some of the files that I have been waiting on yesterday, November 3, 2017….There has been no explanation, let alone a presidential certification, that the massive redactions in these “released in full” documents meet any of the mandatory exemptions that allow withholding.
No identifiable harm is specified. No rationale is given as to why the secrets protected outweigh the public interest in disclosure. These files are not in compliance with the law no matter what the main stream media says. They are an in-your-face flipped bird to the American public. They basically tell us that the CIA is saying that they don’t have to comply with the law of the land and that they will not tell us their secrets and that there is nothing we can do about it.
I’ve been here before. It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978. I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli [shown at left, an influential mobster for the Chicago Outfit who helped control Hollywood and the Las Vegas Strip. He worked with CIA officers on anti-Castro assassination plots and was found dead in 1976 before his rescheduled testimony to Congress].
Scott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files. [Joannides, shown in a file photo, was a CIA official heavily involved in anti-Castro activities in the 1960s that, among other things, help fan anti-Kennedy sentiment among Cuban exlles. CIA later named Joannides to help the HSCA in the late 1970s understand operations, even though HSCA staff have said they were never informed by agency that Joannides was himself the key type of 1960s operative they were seeking to find and interview.)
They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated. They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it. The Angleton strategy still worked. It is still working today.
I’ve been here before. It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978. I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of Johnny Roselli. Scott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files. They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated. They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it. The Angleton strategy still worked. It is still working today.
It appears our lawmakers are spineless in the face of the intelligence community. Joseph Burkholder Smith (shown at a right), a retired CIA officer, told me and Gaeton Fonzi in 1978, “You represent Congress. What the f*** is that to the CIA? You’ll be gone in two years and the CIA will still be there.” To paraphrase that to fit the situation in which we now find ourselves: “You are the people that Congress supposedly represents. What’s that to the CIA? You’ll forget about it in a few weeks or so.”
But I won’t. I wrote a letter to my Senator yesterday before I saw the travesty that was the day’s release of JFK documents by NARA. Probably a futile gesture, but one I had to take anyway.
To my knowledge there has been no coverage or explanation of why the intelligence community has requested this delay of the President. It was made in secret. What reason have they given for the delay?
What kind of pressure have they brought to bear? How can they force a president to so blatantly disregard the law? If they can do this in regard to disclosure of fifty-year-old records, in what else can they exercise a like secret influence that corrupts the laws of the nation?
What affect does the existence and use of such secret power have on our democracy? If these things – not just the documents but the method of influence – remain always secret, then how can a citizenry be sufficiently informed so as to exercise their franchise to any real purpose? How can we have faith in our democracy, let alone our government, if this kind of practice is allowed to continue unchallenged?
These are the questions that I would like to have answered.
JFK Document Release Shows MLK Smear
Washington Post, In the latest JFK files: The FBI’s ugly analysis on Martin Luther King Jr., filled with falsehoods, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 4, 2017. A newly released FBI analysis from 1968 paints this picture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: A “whole-hearted” communist who followed a “Marxist-Leninist line.”
The 20-page document, dated March 12, three weeks before King was assassinated in Memphis, is included in the latest trove of government files about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which the National Archives released Friday. It alleges that King’s political ideologies and the creation of his civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, were heavily influenced by communists, specifically the Communist Party USA. The FBI document went into great detail about one of King’s most trusted advisers, Stanley Levison, a New York lawyer and businessman who served as a top financier for the Communist Party years before he met King in 1956.
The document, titled “MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., A CURRENT ANALYSIS,” alleged that Levison had a strong influence on many of King’s activities as the leader of the civil rights movement, from what he said in his speeches and what demonstrations he took part in, to where King’s group got its funding.
David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian who had written extensively about King, said much of the explosive allegations in the document are neither new nor true. “The No. 1 thing I’ve learned in 40 years of doing this, is just because you see it in a top secret document, just because someone had said it to the FBI, doesn’t mean it’s all accurate,” Garrow told The Washington Post, citing the infamous dossier that contains salacious allegations against President Trump.
Internal War Erupts Among Democratic Leaders Over Brazile Book
Washington Post, Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee, Philip Rucker, Nov. 4, 2017. Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden (shown at right) in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”
In an explosive new memoir, Brazile (shown in a file photo) details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the removal of Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.
Brazile writes that she considered a dozen combinations to replace the nominees and settled on Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the duo she felt most certain would win over enough working-class voters to defeat Republican Donald Trump. But then, she writes, “I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.”
Brazile paints a scathing portrait of Clinton as a well-intentioned, historic candidate whose campaign was badly mismanaged, took minority constituencies for granted and made blunders with “stiff” and “stupid” messages. The campaign was so lacking in passion for the candidate, she writes, that its New York headquarters felt like a sterile hospital ward where “someone had died.”
Palmer Report, DNC internal memo directly refutes Donna Brazile’s claims about the Democratic primary race, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2017. Yesterday, former interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile (shown above in a file photo) published an excerpt from her upcoming book, which made the explosive claim that the DNC had conspired internally as early as 2015 to unfairly steer the Democratic Party nomination toward Hillary Clinton.
Although she didn’t say as much in her excerpt, it’s since come to light that Brazile was basing her assertion on an internal DNC memo from 2015. That memo has now leaked to NBC News, and it flatly disproves her assertion. In other words, the DNC didn’t unfairly tilt anything toward Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary – and Brazile’s own source material disproves her assertion. Former DNC Chair Howard Dean responded to the memo by tweeting that “this memo is standard operating procedure for 15 years.” John Kerry and Al Gore had similar arrangements with the DNC in the years they became the nominee. Donald Trump had a similar arrangement with the RNC in 2016.
Donna Brazile has not yet publicly responded to the revelation that she misinterpreted the DNC memo. Brazile became the interim DNC Chair on an emergency basis, just days before the start of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, in the midst of the chaotic and controversial release of stolen DNC emails. It’s possible that Brazile simply misinterpreted the memo in her haste to quickly get up to speed heading into the convention.
Book Claims Bush Presidents Did Not Vote For Trump
Washington Post, White House attacks legacies of former presidents Bush after reports that neither voted for Trump, Avi Selk, Nov. 4, 2017. A book scheduled to go on sale this month quotes George H.W. Bush mocking Donald Trump as a “blowhard.” The younger Bush worried that Trump would destroy civility in the White House.
The White House on Saturday disparaged the legacies of the only two living Republican presidents to precede Donald Trump, after reports that both men castigated Trump in interviews last year and refused to vote for him.
Former president George H.W. Bush mocked then-candidate Trump as a “blowhard” and voted for a Democratic president, while the younger Bush worried aloud that Trump would destroy the idea of a Republican president in all but name, according to “The Last Republicans.” which is scheduled to go on sale later this month.
The White House response followed a CNN report about the new book in an extraordinary war of words involving three presidents from the same party.
“If one Presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had,” the White House wrote to CNN. It called the younger Bush’s decision to wage war on Iraq “one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”
The book’s author, Mark Updegrove, interviewed the Bushes last year — long before Trump’s inauguration — and found neither wanted to see the coarse, populist campaigner become president.
George W. Bush didn’t expect Trump to win the general election, according to the author.
“When Trump started to rise, I think he became concerned because he saw this populism of Donald Trump getting in the way of America’s position in the world,” said Updegrove, who founded the National Medal of Honor Museum this year, after several years as director of the LBJ Presidential Library.
It’s rare in the modern political era for former presidents to openly criticize their successors.
Saudi Billionnaires, Including Twitter Funder, Arrested In Power Struggle
Daily Sabah, Al Waleed bin Talal, two other billionaires tycoons among Saudi arrests, Staff and wire reports, Nov. 4, 2017. Saudi tycoon Prince Al walid bin Talal and two other heads of three Saudi owned prominent television networks were among the high profile figures who were arrested on early Sunday.
Bin Talal, chairman of Middle East Broadcasting Center, and Sales Kamal, owner of television channel ART and founder of the Dallah al Baraka Group (DBHC), one of the Middle East’s largest conglomerates, were arrested along with Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, head of the National Guard and dozens of princes and former ministers in a new anti-corruption probe. Prince Miteb was once considered a contender for the throne.
Talal, one of the Arab world’s richest men and with an estimated net worth of $18.7 billion, is also the second biggest shareholder of Twitter Inc. He is shown above right in a 2016 Reuters photo by Fahad Shadeed.
Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defense to the economy, Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed (shown at right) is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father King Salman. In September the authorities arrested about two dozen people, including influential clerics, in what activists denounced as a coordinated crackdown.
Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed’s aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbor Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatizing state assets and cutting subsidies.
Mueller Probe Of Trump Team
Palmer Report, Robert Mueller may have just found a way to flip Paul Manafort against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2017. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s arrest of Paul Manafort this week has set off a chain of events in which other Donald Trump campaign advisers have scrambled to save themselves and incriminate each other in the process. This appears to have been Mueller’s plan all along. Manafort never was interested in cutting a deal, instead preferring to take his chances in court. But now two key developments may put Mueller in position to quickly flip Manafort after all.
The first is that the other Trump campaign adviser arrested this week, Rick Gates, failed to disclose that he had a second passport, according to a Bloomberg report. If Gates was thinking he could beat the charges he’s been arrested for, his subsequent legal violation could set up an easier crime for to Mueller to prove. If Gates flips on Manafort, it could prompt Manafort to quickly conclude that he has no chance at trial, and cut a deal. There is also another, more intriguing, development.
Rick Gates works for Donald Trump’s close personal friend, financial magnate Tom Barrack (shown at right). Or at least he did until he was arrested, at which point Barrack promptly fired Gates (link). Barrack is a respected public figure. There is no known evidence connecting him to the Trump-Russia scandal. His swift firing of Gates suggests that he wants nothing to do with this mess. But now Barrack has another problem.
Washington Post, State Dept. letter could pave way for deporting 300,000 immigrants with protected status, Nick Miroff and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 3, 2017. More than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians living in the United States under a form of temporary permission no longer need to be shielded from deportation, the State Department told Homeland Security officials this week, a few days ahead of a highly anticipated DHS announcement about whether to renew that protection.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown above in a file photo) sent a letter to acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke to inform her that conditions in Central America and Haiti that had been used to justify the protection no longer necessitate a reprieve for the migrants, some of whom have been allowed to live and work in the United States for 20 years under a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Tillerson’s assessment, required by law, has not been made public, but its recommendations were confirmed by several administration officials familiar with its contents. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.DHS has until Monday to announce its plans for roughly 57,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans whose TPS protections will expire in early January.
Although most arrived here illegally, they were exempted from deportation after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998. Their TPS protections have been renewed routinely since then, in some cases following additional natural disasters and resulting insecurity.The largest group of TPS recipients — about 200,000 — are from El Salvador, and DHS has until early January to announce its plans for them. At least 30,000 of them live in the Washington area, according to immigrant advocacy groups.
According to a recent study by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, TPS recipients have nearly 275,000 U.S.-born children.
More JFK Records Released
New York Times, C.I.A. Documents Describe Lee Harvey Oswald’s Visit to Mexico, Glenn Thrush, Scott Shane, Peter Baker, Nov. 3, 2017. The vast bulk of the 676 documents made public on Friday came from the C.I.A. and had never been released before. Hundreds of pages of previously classified C.I.A. cables and reports released Friday by the Trump administration shed some new light on Lee Harvey Oswald’s mysterious visits to the Soviet and Cuban Embassies in Mexico City weeks before John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Far from suggesting that Mr. Oswald (shown in custody in Dallas after the 1963 JFK assassination) was a steely, coldblooded agent of either communist country, the documents describe the befuddlement of officials at the embassies who were overheard on intercepted calls trying to make sense of Oswald’s “poor Spanish” and “broken” Russian.
The C.I.A. station in Mexico City kept close tabs on the Soviet Embassy, using “multi-line phone taps, three photographic sites, a mobile surveillance team and a mail intercept operation,” one document said.
But a rushed examination of the surveillance files after Kennedy’s death appears to have turned up little of interest.
Instead, officials found themselves chasing phantoms: a Nicaraguan who had seen Oswald being paid for the assassination — on a day when Oswald was not in Mexico — and an intercepted call between two Cubans in Mexico City and Miami. In the call, one made a dubious claim: “Plan of Castro carried forward; Bobby is next,” referring to Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, and Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother.
Associated Press via New York Times, JFK Files Say Rumors of CIA Link to Oswald ‘Unfounded,’ Nov. 3, 2017. Government documents newly released Friday regarding John F. Kennedy’s assassination say allegations that Lee Harvey Oswald was connected to the CIA were “totally unfounded.”
A 1975 CIA memo says a thorough search of agency records in and outside the United States was conducted to determine whether Oswald had been used by the agency or connected with it in “any conceivable way.”
The memo said the search came up empty. The memo also said there was also no indication that any other U.S. agency used Oswald as a source or for recruitment.
The National Archives released another 676 government documents related to the assassination — the third public release so far this year. Under law, all the documents were to be disclosed to the public last week.
Bayazid began by creating a fictional account on Facebook using a VPN to hide his online tracks.
This Facebook account was supposed to create a background to the assassination attempt, creating an illusion that Bayazid had already been in contact with somebody he trusted about the film.
National Archives, Never Before Released JFK Assassination Records Opened to the Public, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. 553 Newly Released CIA Documents Posted. In the third public release this year, the National Archives (whose headquarters are shown above) today posted 676 records subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act).
Last week, President Donald J. Trump ordered all remaining records governed by section 5 of the JFK Act be released to the public. The President also directed agencies to complete another review of their proposed redactions and only redact information in the rarest of circumstances. The release by the National Archives today represents the first in a series of rolling releases pursuant to the President’s memorandum based on prior reviews done by agencies. The records included in this public release have not been reviewed by NARA.
The National Archives anticipates several additional public releases making all remaining records governed by section 5 available to the public as expeditiously as possible in accordance with the President’s order. Each of these approximately 29,000 records, along with each of the records released today, remain subject to further review under that process.
The majority of the public release today consists of 553 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records that were previously denied in their entirety. Also included in the release are records from components of the Departments of Justice (18) and Defense (48), the House Select Committee on Assassinations (56), and the National Archives (1). Released records are available for download.
The National Archives released 2,891 documents on Oct. 26 and 3,810 records on July 24.
The National Archives established the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection in November 1992, and it consists of approximately five million pages of records. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without any restrictions since the late 1990s.
WhoWhatWhy, National Archives Releases 676 More JFK Files, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. Some of the Previously Unknown Files Are Heavily Redacted. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released 676 additional JFK assassination records today. It appears that 582 were “withheld-in-full,” meaning they have never been seen by the public.
From NARA: “The majority of the public release today consists of 553 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records that were previously denied in their entirety. Also included in the release are records from components of the Departments of Justice (18) and Defense (48), the House Select Committee on Assassinations (56), and the National Archives (1). Released records are available for download.”
Our initial brief inspection has indicated, however, that some of the files contain heavy redactions.
Surprise Sentence In Afghan Special Forces Deserter Case
Washington Post, Bergdahl, captured by Taliban after abandoning Army post, avoids prison, Alex Horton, Nov. 3, 2017. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who in 2009 walked off a U.S. military outpost in eastern Afghanistan and spent the next five years in enemy captivity, was sentenced Friday to a dishonorable discharge from the Army but will avoid prison time.
Bergdahl, 31 (shown at right), pleaded guilty in October to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and had faced a maximum life sentence. He appeared shaken before the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, read his sentence, clenching his jaw as he’d done throughout the proceedings. It’s unclear how Nance arrived at his decision. The judge made no remarks after making the announcement and promptly left the courtroom.
Bergdahl’s case sparked ferocious debate over his actions and the controversial prisoner exchange that led to his release in 2014, challenging the military’s bedrock principle of never leaving a soldier behind. It was also overshadowed by President Trump’s accusation that Bergdahl is a traitor.
Bergdahl will lose all benefits, including medical care, afforded to military veterans and pay a fine of $1,000 a month for the next 10 months. His rank will be reduced to from sergeant to private. Bergdahl left his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was later caught by the Taliban and imprisoned and tortured by militants for five years. In a military court, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He was dishonorably discharged.
Ripping Off College Students, Putting Them In Debt
Rolling Stone, The Great College Loan Swindle, How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America’s next financial black hole, Matt Taibbi, Nov. 3, 2017. It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don’t.
Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees.
Take Veronica Martish. She’s a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Martish’s $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since.
She says she’s paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. “By the time I die,” she says, “I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000.
Foreign Policy Analysis: Afghanistan
WhoWhatWhy, The High Price of 16 Years of Failure in Afghanistan, Jeff Schechtman, Nov. 3, 2017. A look at how the US has favored and funded terror groups since long before 9/11.
GOP Attack On Trump Investigator Mueller
Washington Post, 3 conservative Republicans plan to demand that Mueller recuse himself in Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 3, 2017. The resolution, expected to be filed today, will claim that special counsel Robert Mueller III (shown at right) has a conflict of interest because he headed the FBI when the Obama administration approved a uranium deal involving a Russian company.
President Trump has often brought up the Uranium One deal in 2010 as a way to accuse Hillary Clinton of potential corruption and foreign collusion, despite scant evidence she was directly involved in the decision to allow it to proceed. Nine government agencies make up the government committee that reviews such deals, along with five other observer agencies; the FBI is not one of them.
The GOP also launched two congressional probes into the matter last month, questioning whether the FBI and Justice Department were looking into Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. uranium market.
Washington Post, Longtime Trump bodyguard to face questions about 2013 Moscow trip, Carol D. Leonnig and Greg Miller, Nov. 3, 2017. One of President Trump’s most trusted confidants, a security chief who served as his sounding board for nearly two decades, will face questions from congressional investigators next week about Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow, according to people familiar with their plans.
The excursion is at the center of some of the most salacious allegations in a now-famous dossier, which contains unverified charges that Trump has vehemently disputed.
The House Intelligence Committee has called former longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller to appear for an interview Tuesday as part of its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Investigators plan to press Schiller about allegations in the 35-page dossier that Russian officials obtained compromising information about Trump’s personal behavior when he visited Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Republican House Tax Cut Plans: Analysis
Washington Post, Analysis: Winners and losers in the Republican tax plan, Heather Long, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). Big businesses and the wealthy do well in the GOP bill. The poor and those in many high-tax states do not. Blue states will be hit hardest by GOP tax plan’s limits on deductions. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is shown in a file photo.
Washington Post, Trump is pushing for repeal of Obamacare mandate to be in GOP tax bill, key lawmaker says, Mike DeBonis, Nov. 3, 2017. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that President Trump “feels very strongly about” using the bill as a mechanism to undo the individual mandate.
If Republicans were to pass legislation that both made sweeping tax changes and undermined the ACA, it would accomplish two of Trump’s top legislative priorities — and in one stroke reverse Republicans’ legislative fortunes after a string of legislative setbacks.
Adding the controversial health care change would further complicate the tax effort. Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate, but internal party divides make finding enough votes for tax reform a challenge, and the party already tried multiple times to repeal the ACA but was unable to find the votes.
Washington Post, Analysis: Some corporate interests swiftly align against tax overhaul, Tory Newmyer, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). Prominent naysayers said they couldn’t support an overhaul that makes changes to both the individual and corporate side of the tax code.
Washington Post, Democrats express outrage over allegations of early party control for Clinton in 2016, Michael Scherer, David Weigel and Karen Tumulty, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). Many view the claims by Donna Brazile (shown at right) as confirmation that the party was unfairly aligned against Bernie Sanders. Throughout the campaign, the DNC and its then-chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, fiercely denied any suggestion that the party was helping Clinton over other candidates.
Climate Change Stunner In Capital
New York Times, U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials, Lisa Friedman and Glenn Thrush, Nov. 3, 2017. Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration’s position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.
Global News: Syrian Battle Against ISIS
Syrian government troops are shown breaking the siege Sept. 5 of Deir Ezzor, which had been surrounded by ISIS. The government announced on Nov. 3 that it has defeated the last ISIS fighters in the city, although some remain on a small island nearby in the Euphrates River. (SANA photo.)
New York Times, ISIS Loses Last Foothold in Major City as Syria Closes In, Anne Barnard and Margaret Coker, Nov. 3, 2017. Nov. 3, 2017. The loss is another blow to the Islamic State and a sign of the resurgence of the Syrian army.
SouthFront, Syrian Army Liberated Deir Ezzor. Overview Of Deir Ezzor Operation Sept. 5 – Nov. 3, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. On Nov. 3, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and the Republican Guard liberated the strategic city of Deir Ezzor after government forces retook the neighborhoods of Uthaniyah and al-Hawiqah in the northern part of the city. The liberation of Deir Ezzor is a key part of the wider effort of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian coalition against ISIS in eastern Syria. Now, government forces and their allies will be able to develop advance on the last major ISIS-held town in Syria: al-Bukamal.
Syrian Army Prepares To Attack ISIS-held City Of Al-Bukamal From Inside Iraqi Territory (Map, Photos, Video) On November 3, the Iraqi Aletejah TV channel broadcasted footage of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies inside al-Qa’im city near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Using the Iraqi territory as a corridor to attack ISIS in al-Bukamal city will allow the SAA to save a lot of time and efforts. This will also allow the SAA to reach the city before the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Iraqi Forces Storm Strategic Al-Qaim Town, Take Control Of Border Crossing With Syria. On November 3, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) started a military operation to retake the ISIS-held border town of al-Qaim located on the highway between the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the recently liberated Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. The town of al-Qaim is the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq. As soon as its liberated by Iraqi forces, the Syrian ISIS stronghold of al-Bukamal will become an obvious targets for anti-terrorist forces in Syria.
Syrian Army Is Now Only 45Km Away From Al-Bukamal City. The SAA and Hezbollah are now only 45km west of al-Bukamal city. Syrian pro-government sources claimed on November 2 that a large force of Iranian-backed fighters was deployed in the T-2 station to boost the SAA attack towards al-Bukamal. The Tiger forces will likely be redeployed to the south of al-Mayadin city after liberating Deir Ezzor city for an advance towards al-Bukamal on the Deir Ezzor–al-Qa’im highway.
As Trump Begins Asia Trip, Global Focus on Korea
New York Times, South Korean Leader Boxed In as Trump Threatens the North, Choe Sang-Hun and Motoko Rich, Nov. 3, 2017. President Moon Jae-in’s plans for easing tensions with North Korea have gone nowhere, and his supporters worry the Trump administration may drag their nation into war.
News As Special Counsel Probe Of Trump Campaign
Washington Post, Democrats demand that Sessions explain his meeting with Russia probe cooperator Papadopoulos, Karoun Demirjian, Sari Horwitz and Adam Entous, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). His attendance at a meeting where former policy adviser George Papadopoulos raised the prospect of a Trump-Putin meeting came to light this week when the special counsel released court documents.
Dr. Joseph Mifsud (Valdai Discussion Club 2016 conference in Moscow handout photo via Associated Press)
Associated Press via Japan Times, Putin-backing ‘London professor’ in Trump case often traveled to Russia, little known in U.K., Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. The little-known professor suspected of being a link between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign made repeated visits to Russia in recent years, including participating in conferences at a Russian think tank favored by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Joseph Mifsud, who has been identified as the unnamed London professor who offered to set up meetings with Russian officials who could provide “thousands of emails” with damaging information about Trump’s rival, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is a vocal Putin backer with ties to several important institutions in Russia.
JFK Assassination Cover-up?
Future of Freedom Foundation, The Cunningness of the CIA’s JFK Assassination Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at right), Nov. 3, 2017. Whatever else might be said about the assassination of President Kennedy, one thing is for sure: The cover-up of this particular U.S. regime-change operation was one of the most ingenious and cunning plots ever designed. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that practically from its inception in 1947 the CIA was specializing in the arts of assassination, regime change, and cover-up.
As far back as 1953, the CIA published an assassination manual that the CIA succeeded in keeping secret from the American people for more than 40 years. It came to light in 1997 as a result of a Freedom of Information request. That was around the time that the Assassination Records Review Board, which was overseeing the mandatory release of JFK-related assassination records of the CIA and other federal agencies that had been kept secret from the American people since 1963.
Today, Americans can read the CIA’s assassination manual online. Titled “Study of Assassination,” the manual spells out various ways to assassinate people. Here is what the manual states in part regarding the use of firearms: “Firearms are often used in assassination, often very ineffectively…. Public figures or guarded officials may be killed with great reliability and some safety if a firing point can be established prior to an official occasion. The propaganda value of this system may be very high.”
The manual also makes it clear that the CIA was studying ways to assassinate people without being detected. Note the following excerpt: “For secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated.”
It would be safe to assume that the CIA continued developing and expanding on the assassination principles enunciated in that early assassination manual. That’s what we would expect from an agency whose specialties included assassination. We can also assume that the CIA continued to refine the ways to avoid detection when assassinating someone.
The CIA published that secret assassination manual as part of its preparations for a U.S. regime-change operation in Guatemala, one that was designed to violently remove the nation’s democratically elected socialist president, Jacobo Arbenz, from office and replace him with an unelected, right-wing, pro-U.S. military general.
As part of the Guatemala regime-change operation, the CIA prepared a list of Guatemalan officials to be assassinated. While the CIA has never revealed the names of the people it targeted for assassination, there is little doubt that Arbenz, the president, was at the top of the list. There is something important to note: Neither Arbenz nor any other Guatemalan official had ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
Media Miscues On Monica Lewinsky, Sex Scandals
Daily Howler, At the New York Times, the editorial board just can’t quit that intern, Bob Somerby (media critic), Nov. 3, 2017.
They returned to her last Sunday, in a fiery editorial which revealed their ongoing moral greatness. As it turns out, the board is opposed to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
In the course of displaying this soul-stirring fact, the editors returned to their girl: “Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal.” [Now age 50, she is shown in a file photo.]
The “intern” to whom the savants refer is, of course, Monica Lewinsky. For the record, President Clinton did indeed show very poor judgment in conducting that sporadic (consensual) affair. But did he conduct that sporadic affair with an “intern,” as the editors say? Well basically, no, he did not. The editors can’t seem to quit the story they and their guild have so loved.
In fact, Lewinsky was 22 — almost 22 and a half! — when the sporadic affair began. In fact, she was 22 to 24 years old during its actual tenure.
Technically, she was still an intern in November 1995, when her first encounter with Clinton occurred. But she had already accepted a full-time federal position, which she would begin within roughly a week. As such, she was an intern for roughly one week over the course of the several years during which she and Clinton conducted their sporadic affair.
She was an intern for roughly one week! But because our journalists want to enjoy life so badly, they didn’t want to describe, and rail about, an affair with a federal employee.
Global News: Afghanistan and United Nations
Common Dreams, ‘Seminal Moment’ as ICC Chief Prosecutor Seeks Probe of US War Crimes in Afghanistan, Andrea Germanos, Nov. 3, 2017. In a move that could implicate U.S. military forces and the C.I.A., the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Friday said she would be asking the Hague-based body to begin a probe of possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan.
“This is a seminal moment for the ICC,” said Solomon Sacco, head of international justice at Amnesty International. “Justice for victims of the Afghanistan conflict has taken far too long to arrive, but investigations like this one are the reason the Court was set up—to provide a last chance for justice when states parties have failed to deliver it.”
New York Times, Lawsuit May Allow Female Accusers to Challenge Trump, Megan Twohey, Nov. 2, 2017. During his campaign, Mr. Trump (shown above in a file photo) said the women who accused him of sexual misconduct were liars. A defamation suit could give them a chance to confront him again. While allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in recent weeks have drawn wide public support and prompted quick response, women who came forward during the presidential race with accusations against Donald J. Trump said they spent the past year feeling dismissed and forgotten.
“With Trump, it was all brushed under the rug,” said Temple Taggart, who claimed Mr. Trump kissed her on the mouth when she was competing in his Miss USA pageant in 1997.
But that could change if a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Mr. Trump of unwanted sexual advances is allowed to proceed in New York State Supreme Court, a legal ruling that could come before the end of the year. Lawyers in the suit sought a subpoena seeking all Trump campaign records related to his female accusers. If the case advances, the accusers could be deposed, going up against Mr. Trump yet again.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit — Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Mr. Trump’s show “The Apprentice” — is represented by the law firm of Gloria Allred, who has helped bring cases against Bill Cosby and other high-profile defendants. They claimed that Mr. Trump defamed Ms. Zervos during the campaign when he repeatedly described her and other accusers’ accounts as “lies” and “nonsense” and said the women either were being put forward by his opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign or were motivated to come forward by getting “ten minutes of fame,” according to the complaint.
New York Terror Attack
New York Times, Trump Drops Idea of Sending Suspect to Guantánamo, Peter Baker, Nov. 2, 2017. The president also called for the man to be executed, a public intervention in the case that could come back to haunt prosecutors in any future trial.
GOP Proposes Tax Cuts For Big Business
Roll Call, House GOP Tax Bill Keeps 39.6% Rate for High-Earners, Cuts Corporate Rate to 20%, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 2, 2017. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (shown at right) gathering feedback for changes to be made before Monday markup.
Washington Post, GOP tax plan to lower cap on mortgage interest deduction to $500,000 loans, Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 2, 2017. House Republican leaders today unveiled legislation that would overhaul the U.S. tax code and jettison numerous tax breaks that Americans and businesses have used for years to limit their taxable income. The release of the proposals launched into motion a frantic political effort that could impact almost every American. House Republican leaders on Thursday proposed legislation that would overhaul the U.S. tax code and jettison numerous tax breaks that Americans and businesses have used for years to limit their taxable income.
The release of the proposals launched into motion a frantic political effort that could impact almost every American. In a number of cases, the tax plan cuts back on tax benefits for families and individuals while expanding tax benefits for companies.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and collapse the seven tax brackets paid by families and individuals down to four. It could create giant new benefits for the wealthy, cutting business taxes, eliminating the estate tax, and ending the alternative minimum tax.
JFK Assassination Records
Intrepid Report, Reflections on how little is revealed by just-released JFK assassination documents and just some of the many reasons why there had to be a conspiracy, John Chuckman, Nov. 2, 2017. In the recent, and supposedly last, release of files pertaining to the Kennedy assassination, most of the corporate press did not dwell on the fact that the most important and secret files were kept from the public, but, of course, that was actually the big story.
Billionaire Bannon Patron Retires From Hedge Fund
New York Times, G.O.P. Donor Mercer to Step Down From Hedge Fund, Matthew Goldstein and Kate Kelly, Nov. 2, 2017. Robert Mercer, a billionaire investor who is a big financial backer of many conservative causes and a patron of the former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, is stepping down as co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, the giant hedge fund.
Mr. Mercer (shown at left) sent a letter to investors and pension advisers on Thursday morning in which he said he would step down. A copy of the letter was reviewed by The New York Times.
In the letter, Mr. Mercer said he would leave his post on Jan. 1, 2018, and would also leave the hedge fund’s board. He said he would remain active on the research side of the fund, which makes trades using complex mathematical equations.
The one-paragraph letter to investors did not give a reason for Mr. Mercer’s decision. His involvement in conservative politics became a lightning rod for criticism during and after the presidential election.
Describing himself as a fan of small government, he sought to distance himself from polarizing figures, including Mr. Bannon. “I have great respect for Mr. Bannon (shown at right), and from time to time I do discuss politics with him,” Mr. Mercer wrote. “However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”
Mr. Bannon now works at Breitbart News, a conservative news outlet that has been funded in part by Mr. Mercer. In the letter on Thursday, Mr. Mercer said that he was selling his stake in Breitbart to his daughters “for personal reasons.” Beyond donating to political campaigns, Mr. Mercer was a large financial backer of Cambridge Analytica, a voter-data firm that worked with the presidential campaign of Mr. Trump.
But in a letter to the employees of the hedge fund, with the subject line “past, present, and future,” Mr. Mercer acknowledged the public scrutiny he has faced since President Trump’s election.
New York Times, Trump Nominee Sam Clovis Withdraws From Consideration for Agriculture Department Post, Eileen Sullivan, Nov. 2, 2017. Sam Clovis helped supervise the foreign-policy team for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia.
The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said. “The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.”
Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.
Sacramento Bee, No: Right-wing interests salivate at thought of stripped-down census, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 1, 2017. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Wayne Madsen (shown at left) is a progressive commentator whose writings have appeared in leading American and European newspapers. There are plenty of interests, most of them with dubious intentions, that would like to abandon the way the U.S. Census Bureau traditionally conducts its decennial “hands-on” counting of the population of the United States.
The Trump administration and its political backers understand that to control the outcome of the census is to control the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The state-by-state apportionment of 435 House seats and the allotment of 435 of the 538 presidential electors between the states are based on the latest census.
There are those on the political right who insist the Census Bureau should concentrate its efforts on merely counting heads, without any regard for collecting statistics on race, age, ethnic group, gender, and income level.
Washington Post, Opinion: The other huge scandal Mueller brought to light this week, Dana Milbank, Nov. 2, 2017. Robert Mueller (shown at right) brought to light a huge scandal this week, and it has nothing to do with Russia. He has introduced the world to Sam Clovis. Clovis, we now know, was the Trump campaign official who oversaw George Papadopoulos and encouraged his efforts to meet with Russian officials. But what’s more interesting than what Clovis is is what Clovis isn’t.
For those who had not heard of Clovis before (which is pretty much everybody), he has been nominated to be the chief scientist at the Agriculture Department, a position that by law must go to “distinguished scientists,” even though he is, well, not a scientist. He is a talk-radio host, economics professor (though not actually an economist, either) and, most importantly, a Trump campaign adviser.
President Trump promised to “hire the best people.” And, as scientists go, Clovis is an excellent talk-show host. Among his scientific breakthroughs: being “extremely skeptical” of climate change, calling homosexuality “a choice,” suggesting gay rights would lead to legalized pedophilia, pushing the Obama birther allegation, and calling Eric Holder a “racist bigot” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino.”
Washington Post, Former D.C. schools chancellor ‘reprimanded’ by ethics board for giving preferential treatment, Valerie Strauss, Nov. 2, 2017. An investigation by the D.C. Inspector General’s Office found that Kaya Henderson, who led the school system from 2010-2016, granted special treatment to well-connected people who sought special school placement for their children.
The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability last month issued a three-page “public negotiated disposition” spelling out details of the reprimand. It says Henderson (shown above at right) violated the city’s Code of Conduct by granting permission for some people — including a White House official, an employee of the mayor’s office, a district principal and a former classmate — to choose the school they wanted their children to attend even though other D.C. families had to go through a competitive lottery system.
The reprimand closes the book on the episode, as there is no penalty attached to it.
Former DNC Chair Alleges Excessive Clinton Control Over Democrats In 2016
Washington Post, Donna Brazile says Clinton campaign hijacked DNC during primary battle, Aaron Blake, Nov. 2, 2017. he former interim head of the Democratic Party just accused Hillary Clinton’s campaign of “unethical” conduct that “compromised the party’s integrity.” The Clinton campaign’s alleged sin: A hostile takeover of the Democratic National Committee before her primary with Sen. Bernie Sanders had concluded.
Donna Brazile’s op-ed in Politico is the equivalent of taking the smoldering embers of the 2016 primary and throwing some gasoline on them. (She is shown at right in a DNC photo.) Just about everything she says in the piece will inflame Sanders’s passionate supporters who were already suspicious of the Democratic establishment and already had reason to believe — based on leaked DNC emails — that the committee wasn’t as neutral in the primary as it was supposed to be.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who comes from the Sanders wing of the party, just told CNN in response to Brazile’s op-ed that the she believes the 2016 Democratic primary was “rigged.” The elevation of this issue by Warren, a possible 2020 contender, will certainly turn heads.
Future of Freedom Foundation, Oliver Stone Was Right about the CIA, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov. 2, 2017. I can’t decide which is more amusing: the CIA’s use of “national security” to justify keeping secret its 50-year-old records in the JFK assassination or the mainstream media’s response to the continued secrecy.
On the one hand, the CIA’s use of “national security” to justify keeping 98 percent of the still-secret records is palpably laughable. However one defines that nebulous term “national security,” one thing is patently clear: Nothing — absolutely nothing — would have happened to the United States if the CIA had been forced to let the American people see its still-secret, 50-year-old JFK records on October 26, 2018, as the 1992 JFK Records Act mandated. The United States wouldn’t have fallen into the ocean. The federal government wouldn’t have turned Red.
After all, what happened to the United States when only 2 percent of the long-secret records were finally released last week? Nothing. The United States is still standing and the commies have not taken over the federal government. But don’t forget: For more than 50 years, the CIA has maintained, falsely as it turns out, that disclosing those 2 percent of its records would threaten “national security.”
Courts and Crime Around the Nation
Washington Post, How a fired prosecutor became Louisiana’s most powerful law enforcement official, Radley Balko, Nov. 2, 2017. This past June, the Louisiana legislature passed 10 bills tackling sentencing reform, prisoner rehabilitation, and related criminal-justice reforms. The New York Times editorial board called the effort “one of the most ambitious criminal-justice reform packages in the country.” The reforms took effect recently, and supporters cite a Pew Charitable Trusts study that claims that the bills will reduce the state’s prison population by 10 percent over the next 10 yea
There’s a good case to be made that the bills are historic. The state’s incarceration rate is about double the national average. If it were an independent country, Louisiana would lead the world in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizens. And even as much of the rest of the country began moving toward decarceration years ago, up until this recent series of bills, Louisiana only continued to get more punitive. So any move toward decreasing the state’s prison population would be a landmark shift in strategy.
TPM, In Midst Of Russia Probe, Papadopoulos Pondered Run For Congress, Book Deal, Allegra Kirkland, Nov. 2, 2017. Being under federal investigation hasn’t stopped former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos from trying to advance his career. Four months ago, shortly before he was arrested for lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian nationals during the campaign, he asked his followers on LinkedIn for their “thoughts” on him pursuing a congressional run.
In October, around the time he pleaded guilty to those allegations, he expressed interest “in meeting with prominent publisher” and queried his LinkedIn connections for recommendations. And just a week ago, before his case was unsealed, Papadopoulos put out a call for “speaker bureau recommendations.”
U.S. Allied Force In Syria Alleged To Use Former ISIS Beheader
Some allege that the humanitarian medic and ISIS member portrayed in these photos (including one at the side) portray the same man in Syria
Directorate 4 blog via SouthFront, ‘SDF Medic’ Shown In RT Documentary ‘The Road To Raqqa’ Appears To Be Former ISIS Member – Report, Staff report, Nov. 2, 2017. Directorate 4 blog noticed a peculiar thing in RT-produced semi-documentary film “The Road to Raqqa,” broadcasted in September of 2017. (link to the RTD website) The text below is based on the post released by Directorate 4.
One of the centerpieces of the documentary is an interview with a male nurse of an improvised hospital in a part of Raqqa. Adham, the male nurse, tells a real tear-jerker of a story about him joining the Kurdish forces. “In Aleppo I fought against ISIS,” Adham says. “Somebody told them about me, and I was caught and imprisoned.
Then Adham tells about the tortures he had to endure. It turns out the poor victim of Islamic State was could [sic] be a terrorist. The video shows the man that looks like Adham in the uniform and even has him holding a cut off head of an unknown person.
More Anti-Syria Propaganda Involving Fake News Assassination Plot?
The New Arab, Exposed: Syrian movie director faked own ‘foolproof’ assassination attempt to finance prison abuse film, Staff report, Nov. 2, 2017. A Syrian film director working on a movie detailing the Assad regime’s prison abuse “planned and faked” his own assassination attempt to help promote his work, an investigation by The New Arab has revealed.
Muhammad Bayazid was in Turkey last month promoting his film The Tunnel, which documented torture at Syria’s notorious Tadmur prison, when he was allegedly stabbed in the chest.
Bayazid, who studied film-making in the US, claimed the attack was an assassination attempt by Syrian regime agents, apparently because of his work. The film focuses on the story of a Syrian-American man who spent 20 years in Palmyra prison, where thousands of opponents of the Assad regime were tortured and summarily executed.
However, one of Bayazid’s producers, Mohammed al-Hindi, filmed conversations with the director, which revealed that Bayazid was planning to fake his assassination. The videos appear to show conversations that took place between May and June, with Bayazid trying to co-ordinate his own assassination in attempts to finance The Tunnel by gaining sympathy for being targeted by Assad’s goons.
“Arabs, Arabs, Arabs… When they see that this project has taken the spotlight, they will start donating,” he is heard saying in the clip. “The nationality of the attacker has to be Syrian,” Bayazid purportedly tells al-Hindi. “It makes sense because I am around Syrians and a Syrian right now would be the one who would be most likely to hurt me. I am in Saudi Arabia right now and almost everyone I am meeting with is Syrian.”
The Guardian, a London newspaper with deep ties to British intelligence, is one of the outlets that heavily promoted the supposed news report that the film maker had survived an assassination attempt.
The newspaper’s article, Syrian film-maker making prison torture movie survives ‘assassination attempt,’ by Istanbul-based Kareem Shaheen was dated Oct. 11, 2017, was illustrated by the attached film publicity photo of Bayazid and his wife.
The article began: “Muhammad Bayazid stabbed in Istanbul on Tuesday night, as he sought funds for project detailing Assad regime abuses at notorious Tadmur prison” and continued: “Last night he was very unstable, he was stabbed in the chest close to the blood vessels that provide blood to the heart, so there was massive bleeding,” Samah Safi Bayazid, Muhammad’s wife, told the Guardian by phone. “Thank God he is awake and conscious.”
Media: Union Foe Shuts Outlets After Vote
New York Times, Gothamist and DNAinfo Shut Down After Union Vote, Andy Newman and John Leland, Nov. 2, 2017. Reporters and editors at the local New York news sites joined a union last week. On Thursday, their billionaire owner closed the sites. A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union.
On Thursday, they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down. DNAinfo and Gothamist, which Mr. Ricketts bought in the spring, attracted more than 9 million readers a month, in New York and other cities where they operate satellite sites, DNAinfo said.The decision puts 115 journalists out of work, both at the New York operations that unionized and at those in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington that did not. They are getting three months of paid “administrative leave” at full salary, plus four weeks of severance, DNAinfo said.
New York Daily News, Manhattan terrorist identified as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uber driver from Uzbekistan with ties to Florida, N.J., Rocco Parascandola, Thomas Tracy and Leonard Greene, Nov. 1, 2017. The terrorist accused of plowing a rented truck through a crowd of bicyclists and pedestrians in lower Manhattan has been identified as an Uber driver from Uzbekistan with ties to Florida and New Jersey.
Sources said Sayfullo Saipov (shown at right in a mug shot) jumped a curb along West St. and rumbled along a bike and pedestrian path for nearly four blocks, crushing people in the unsuspecting crowd shortly after 3 p.m. Eight people were killed in the attack. Six died on the scene, and two died later at an area hospital. Police sources said the suspect left a note proclaiming his loyalty to ISIS in the truck.
Saipov, 29, who was driving the truck believed to have been rented in Passaic, N.J., also lived in Paterson with his wife and small children, sources said. Saipov is originally from Uzbekistan, and came to America in 2010. Investigators believe he came to the country legally.
Police stopped Saipov in Mount Holly Springs Borough, Pa., in March 2015 and he gave police a Paterson address, according to NJ.com. Witnesses said Saipov jumped out of the truck after he plowed through the crowd and screamed “Allahu Akbar!” — “God is great” — in Arabic after the crash.
Washington Post, Trump calls for end to immigration lottery program following attack, Philip Rucker, Nov. 1, 2017.President Trump said Wednesday that he is considering sending the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the United States must be “much tougher” with its treatment of terror suspects.
Trump also called on Congress to immediately dismantle the State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery program, through which authorities have said the suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, came to the United States from Uzbekistan. “Diversity lottery — sounds nice. It’s not nice,” Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with his Cabinet. “It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it.”
Trump said the United States needs a system of “punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years… We need quick justice, and we need strong justice.”
Trump said that terrorists are “constantly seeking to strike our nation,” and that keeping the country safe will require the “unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence professionals.”
Referring to Saipov as an “animal,” Trump said the 29-year-old was responsible for the entry of 23 immigrants, many of them family members. The president said this “chain migration” endangers national security.
New York Times, Driver Said to Plan for Weeks; Had Ties to Terror Suspects, Bejamin Mueller and Michael Schwirtz, Nov. 1, 2017. As investigators looked into whether the attacker had ties to terrorist organizations, it became clear that those close to him had feared that he was heading toward extremism.
New York Times, Police Officer Ryan Nash Ended New York Rampage With 9 Bullets, Sarah Maslin Nir and William K. Rashbau, Nov. 1, 2017. Sayfullo Saipov sped a rented truck down nearly a mile of a Hudson River bikepath on Tuesday afternoon, crushing eight people to death and injuring 11 more, before crashing in front of Stuyvesant High School in TriBeCa.
Then he began to run. But at Chambers Street, there was Officer Ryan Nash.
Officer Nash fired nine shots at Mr. Saipov, ending the worst terrorist attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001. The police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said Tuesday that one bullet struck Mr. Saipov in his abdomen. Mr. Saipov, who the police say is responsible for the attack, was brandishing two weapons, which turned out to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun.
Washington Post, NYC attack probe expands overseas as officials dig into suspect’s life, Renae Merle, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, Nov. 1, 2017. Investigators in Uzbekistan combed records and intelligence reports on militant factions after the suspect in the deadly Manhattan truck attack was identified as Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from the Central Asian nation. It comes as U.S. officials try to learn whether Saipov acted alone or had possible connections to wider militant cells. At least eight people were killed when the driver of a truck plowed into a bike path.
Trump Throws Health Care Into Tax Debate
Washington Post, Trump throws curveball in tax talks, says bill should include Obamacare changes, Damian Paletta, Nov. 1, 2017. President Trump on Wednesday said congressional Republicans should make a major change to their upcoming tax cut bill by including changes to the Affordable Care Act, an idea that has divided the GOP for months.
The idea had already been rejected one day earlier by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex., shown at right), who had said it risked bogging down the process. But Trump, in two Twitter posts Wednesday, pushed the idea, which has gained currency with some Senate Republicans. The biggest proponent of the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
It could not be learned whether Trump’s Twitter posts were simply a musing or an official change in administration policy. The posts came just a few minutes after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) talked about the exact same idea during an appearance on Fox News Channel.
The White House had previously said it wanted to pass a tax-cut bill first and then revisit the health-care effort in early 2018. It’s also unclear whether it would be logistically possible to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as “Obamacare” — as part of the tax bill, because they must meet certain congressional rules set by the Senate budget process.
Washington Post, Trump resists mounting pressure from Bannon and others to fight Mueller, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Nov. 1, 2017 (print edition). A number of the president’s prominent allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon (shown in a file photo), believe the president needs to take a more combative approach against Robert S. Mueller III and the Russia investigation.
Washington Post, Russia investigation charges complicate Trump’s Asia trip, ability to sell tax cuts, John Wagner and David Nakamura, Nov. 1, 2017. Aides insisted the twin challenges at home and abroad would not be undermined by the indictments, but the frustration of the president was evident Tuesday.
New York Times, Andrew Weissmann, Legal Pit Bull, Is Unleashed in Inquiry, Matt Flegenheimer, Nov. 1, 2017. Mr. Weissmann brings decades of experience prosecuting Mafia heads and white-collar crime to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.
Kushner-Trump Financial Woes, Conflicts
Associated Press via Washington Post, Kushner partner all but kills plan for Fifth Ave skyscraper, Bernard Condon and Garance Burke, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). A grand plan once spearheaded by Jared Kushner to rescue the biggest deal in his career by razing a Fifth Avenue skyscraper and building luxury apartments in its place is all but dead, the co-owner of the building said Tuesday.
The comments from Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth suggest that Kushner’s most ambitious purchase will continue to bleed money — tens of millions a year — as a deadline for repayment of the giant mortgage on the office building nears. Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump (shown in a file photo with her husband), sold his personal interest in the tower, the family’s flagship property and headquarters, before joining the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.
Kushner bought the famed aluminum-clad skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue for a record $1.8 billion a decade ago when he was CEO of Kushner Cos., at the time mostly known for thousands of garden apartments in suburbia. Then he almost lost the building to lenders. Roth swept in with a rescue plan in 2011, offering cash in exchange for a big ownership stake.
Washington Post, Obama’s next act? Chicago summit hints at how his post-presidency will take shape, Karen Tumulty and Krissah Thompson, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). And now it begins, with a two-day Chicago summit launching his foundation and hinting at his next moves. This was the way Barack Obama had imagined these years would be.
He started thinking about it long before the shock of President Trump’s election, before the rout of his party that would be the coda to his two terms in office, even before he stood on the frigid grounds of the Old State House in Springfield in February 2007, and declared he was running for president.
A decade later found him here at the opening of a two-day summit to launch his foundation and yet-to-be-built presidential library. (Obama is shown in a file photo golfing during his presidency with the U.S. head of UBS, Robert Wolf.)
“When I asked myself after the presidency, ‘How could I have an impact?,’ ” Obama said, “the thing that was most exciting for me was the idea of creating a hub, a venue, a place, a network in which all of these young people across the globe and across the country, that all of these young people from every race, and every background and every religion could start meeting each other, and seeing each other and teaching each other and learning from each other.”
Washington Post, Opinion: The midterms are Democrats’ to lose. And boy, are they trying, Dana Milbank, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). It would seem that the midterm election is the Democrats’ to lose. And you can be sure they will try their best to do exactly that. Democrats seldom miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Several recent incidents of self-sabotage have already proven the great Will Rogers adage: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
Politico, Guantanamo prisoner asks judge to halt prosecution after defense lawyers’ exit, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 1, 2017. An alleged Al Qaeda terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay is asking a court in Washington to halt his prosecution in a military commission after most of his legal team quit over confidentiality concerns. A Defense Department attorney for Saudi national Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who is charged with masterminding the deadly attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000, filed motions Wednesday morning asking U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth to put an immediate stop to the military commission process.
Future of Freedom Foundation, One Year Later, Is Trump a Blessing or a Curse to the Deep State? John W. Whitehead, Nov. 1, 2017. One thing is for sure: a year into his presidency, Trump hasn’t done much to improve the lot of the American people. The predators of the police state are still wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.
The government still doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it still refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it still treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers are still shooting unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents — including local police — are still being armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies are still fleecing taxpayers. Government technicians are still spying on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors are still making a killing by waging endless wars abroad.
Crime and Courts Around the Nation
Washington Post, Trial opens for Marine drill instructor accused of abusing Muslim recruits during whiskey-fueled assaults, Rory Laverty, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). A third Muslim military recruit has been added to the list of alleged victims of a Marine Corps drill instructor accused of terrorizing and abusing young men under his care.
During their opening statements at his court-martial here Tuesday, military prosecutors said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix put two Muslim recruits inside an industrial clothes dryer at the Marines’ storied recruit training facility in Parris Island, S.C. — starting it in one case. He’s also accused of repeatedly slapping another Muslim recruit seconds before the young man jumped three stories to his death.
Felix is charged with cruelty and maltreatment, obstruction of justice, drunk and disorderly conduct and failure to obey a general order. He has pleaded not guilty.
Twenty Marine drill instructors were swept up this year in a broad investigation into claims of hazing and physical abuse targeting recruits at Parris Island, which the tradition-obsessed Marines consider hallowed ground. The scandal shocked the military community and appalled those in Congress with oversight of the armed forces. Several of those instructors face court-martial. One was already acquitted.
Daily Beast, Gitmo Judge Convicts U.S. General — Because He Stood Up for Detainee Rights, Spencer Ackerman, Nov. 1, 2017. Brigadier General John Baker protested the government’s surveillance of Guantanamo Bay defense lawyers. And that got him sentenced to 21 days in confinement. The Guantanamo Bay military tribunals on Wednesday won their first conviction without a plea deal since 2008. Only it wasn’t a terrorist who was convicted – it was a one-star Marine general sticking up for the rights of the accused to have a fair trial.
In defending the principle that attorneys ought to be able to defend their clients free from government surveillance, Brigadier General John Baker was ruled in contempt of court and sentenced to 21 days in confinement. He also must pay a $1,000 fine.
Baker is a senior officer within in the highly controversial military commissions process: the Chief of Defense Counsel. Maj. Ben Sakrisson, the Pentagon spokesman for detentions, confirmed that Baker is being confined in his quarters – at Guantanamo Bay.
“The military commissions are willing to put people in jail for defending the rule of law,” Jay Connell, who represents another Guantanamo detainee facing a military commission, told the Daily Beast. “If they’re willing to put a Marine general in jail for standing up for a client’s rights, they’re willing to do just anything.”
Another Media Sex Scandal
Washington Post, NPR’s top editor placed on leave after accusations of sexual harassment, Paul Farhi, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). NPR (National Public Radio) is investigating allegations by two women who said the head of its news department made unwanted physical contact with them while he was employed by another news organization nearly two decades ago. The women, both journalists at the time of the alleged incidents, made the accusations in recent weeks against Michael Oreskes (shown in a file photo), senior vice president of news and editorial director at the Washington-based public broadcasting organization.
In response to the allegations, NPR said Tuesday that it has placed Oreskes on indefinite leave. In separate complaints, the women said Oreskes — at the time, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times — abruptly kissed them while they were speaking with him about working at the newspaper. Both of them told similar stories: After meeting Oreskes and discussing their job prospects, they said he unexpectedly kissed them on the lips and stuck his tongue in their mouths. Both of the women spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity so as not to damage their employment prospects.
The alleged incidents occurred in the late 1990s, the women said. Oreskes joined NPR in March 2015 after working at the Times and the Associated Press in senior editing roles.
Washington Post, ‘House of Cards’ suspends production indefinitely amid Kevin Spacey scandal, Bethonie Butler, Nov. 1, 2017 (print edition). Netflix’s first original TV series, which helped changed the way we watch TV, is heading toward an unceremonious end.
Trump Scandal Claims
Washington Post, Trump was expressing political opinion by calling sexual-harassment accusers ‘liars,’ his attorneys argue, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Mark Berman, Nov. 1, 2017. President Trump’s lawyers argued in a new court filing late Tuesday that he was expressing a political opinion last year when he called accusations of sexual misconduct against him as false and the accusers “liars,” seeking to dismiss a defamation complaint by a woman who said he groped her.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice” and now a California restaurant owner, filed her lawsuit against Trump in January, three days before his inauguration.
In October 2016, Zervos accused Trump of aggressively kissing her and groping her breasts during a 2007 meeting that took place when she was seeking a job at his company. Her lawsuit claims that he made defamatory statements by describing as liars women who came forward last year to accuse him of misconduct.
Marc Kasowitz, an attorney for Trump (shown at right), said in a statement that there is “no merit” to her case, adding that it “is based on allegations of events that never occurred.” He described it as “nothing more than a politically-motivated lawsuit” stemming from accusations made in a news conference weeks before the presidential election.