November 2019 News

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Nov. 3

U.S. News Headlines

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: President Trump may have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, Gary Stein (a lawyer in New York and a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York), Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). It’s a felony to order federal government workers to further a partisan political campaign.

Legal analysis of the Ukraine controversy has so far focused on whether President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky involved extortion, bribery or solicitation of an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign source. But as the House investigation has proceeded, a more straightforward legal case has emerged: The president, and possibly other officials, may have violated the Hatch Act’s civil and criminal prohibitions on the use of executive branch powers for partisan ends.

As the recent testimony of acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. — among other evidence — makes clear, State Department officials and other government employees were enlisted in the effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. As Taylor put it in a Sept. 9 text to the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, the goal appeared to be to use the levers of U.S. policy to extract Ukraine’s “help with a political campaign” — Trump’s campaign for reelection.

An enterprise of that sort emanating from the Trump White House, if proved, would be the very kind of activity the Hatch Act was designed to prevent. The text of the law flatly states that an employee of the executive branch may not, among other things, “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

This prohibition has been part of federal law for more than a century. President Teddy Roosevelt used very similar language in an executive order he issued in 1907, modeling it, in turn, on a civil service rule dating to the administration of Chester A. Arthur. In 1939, Congress codified the strictures in the Hatch Act after an investigation confirmed that officials in Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration had promised jobs and promotions in exchange for votes.

As spelled out in federal regulations, the Hatch Act bars a federal employee from “using his or her official title while participating in political activity” or “using his or her authority to coerce any person to participate in political activity.” “Political activity” is defined as “an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group” — which, of course, would include activity directed toward the success of Trump’s reelection campaign or the failure of Biden’s presidential campaign.

Importantly, the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act’s civil restrictions on political activity. But that’s not the end of the matter. The Hatch Act also includes criminal prohibitions that apply to everyone, including the president, and at least two of them are relevant to the investigations surrounding the Ukraine matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, A presidential loathing for Ukraine is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). One theme that runs through almost all of the accounts from witnesses who have testified before House lawmakers is President Trump’s unyielding loathing of the former Soviet republic, which dates to his earliest days in the White House.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)Three of President Trump’s top advisers met with him in the Oval Office in May, determined to convince him that the new Ukrainian leader was an ally deserving of U.S. support.

They had barely begun their pitch when Trump unloaded on them, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting. In Trump’s mind, the officials said, Ukraine’s entire leadership had colluded with the Democrats to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign.

“They tried to take me down,” Trump railed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: To Beat Trump, Focus on His Corruption, David Leonhardt, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Personal attacks don’t hurt him. Substantive ones do. House Democrats are doing the right thing by pursuing impeachment against President Trump. But it does create a political quandary for their party.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoDemocrats have been most successful against Trump when they have focused on his unpopular policies, as they did during the 2017 fight over Obamacare and the 2018 midterms. They have been least successful when focusing on his outrageous behavior, as Hillary Clinton did in her 2016 campaign. Trump’s supporters seem to take his personality as a given and aren’t moved by complaints about it. Some fraction of them, however, can evidently be swayed by his Justice Department log circularfailure to live up to his policy promises.

Given the severity of Trump’s misbehavior — turning American foreign policy into an opposition-research arm of his campaign — Democrats had no choice but to start an impeachment inquiry. Yet they need to remember that impeachment is an inherently political process, not a technocratic legal matter. It will fail if it does not persuade more Americans of Trump’s unfitness for office. It will succeed only if he is not president on Jan. 21, 2021.

And it is far more likely to succeed if Democrats can connect it in voters’ minds to a larger argument about the substance of Trump’s presidency.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Internal Mueller documents show Trump campaign chief pushed unproven theory Ukraine hacked Democrats, Rosalind S. Helderman and Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort (shown above in a screenshot during the 2016 campaign), suggested as early as the summer of 2016 that Ukrainians might have been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign rather than Russians, a key witness told federal investigators last year.

rnc logoNewly released documents show that Manafort’s protege, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, told the FBI of Manafort’s theory during interviews conducted as part of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Gates told the FBI that Manafort had shared his theory of Ukrainian culpability with him and other campaign aides before the election.

The new information shows how early people in Trump’s orbit were pushing the unsubstantiated theory about Ukraine’s role.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: As impeachment enters a new phase, keep an eye on endangered Republicans, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Always backing the president no us senate logomatter what could turn the GOP’s fortunes in the 2020 elections.

President Trump and his Republican allies can’t seem to decide whether they want his defense to be based on substance — He did nothing wrong! It was a perfect call! — or procedure — Democrats were out to get him from the start! It’s a Soviet-style inquisition! That confusion is no surprise: Both arguments are unconvincing, and Republicans will increasingly have to figure out how to deal with that unpleasant reality.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Takes In a Different Kind of Fight: U.F.C. in New York, Kevin Draper, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.).President Trump’s appearance at Madison Square Garden President Donald Trump officialcame days after news emerged he had changed his residency to Florida.

Mr. Trump traveled to New York City on Saturday night to U.F.C. 244, sitting near the thick of the action at the mixed martial arts event at Madison Square Garden.

At his second sporting event in a week, and just days after news emerged that he had changed his residency to Florida instead of New York, Mr. Trump received a djt maga hatvery loud, mixed reaction as he headed toward his seat next to the octagon as “Back in Black” by AC/DC blared throughout the arena.

Many fans, already standing as the president entered just before 10 p.m., booed loudly, while others cheered. Some held a large sign that said “Trump 2020 Keep America Great,” and others gestured obscenely toward the president.

Waiting for the pay-per-view fights to start, Mr. Trump stood from his seat and waved to the crowd, as many spectators took photos and videos. In a suit and red tie, he gave a thumbs up to the TV camera.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Money Farmers: How Oligarchs and Populists Milk the E.U. for Millions, Selam Gebrekidan, Matt Apuzzo and Benjamin Novak, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The European Union spends $65 billion a year subsidizing agriculture. But a chunk of that money emboldens strongmen, enriches politicians and finances corrupt dealing.

Under Communism, farmers labored in the fields that stretch for miles around this town west of Budapest, reaping wheat and corn for a government that had stolen their land.

european union logo rectangleToday, their children toil for new overlords, a group of oligarchs and political patrons who have annexed the land through opaque deals with the Hungarian government. They have created a modern twist on a feudal system, giving jobs and aid to the compliant, and punishing the mutinous.

These land barons, as it turns out, are financed and emboldened by the European Union.

Every year, the 28-country bloc pays out $65 billion in farm subsidies intended to support farmers around the Continent and keep rural communities alive. But across Hungary and much of Central and Eastern Europe, the bulk goes to a connected and powerful few.

Our reporters describe their quest to obtain government data on the subsidies, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.).

ny times logoMohammed Bin Salman Al-SaudNew York Times, Saudi Aramco I.P.O. Is Announced, Michael J. de la Merced and Stanley Reed, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Saudi Aramco is moving to become a public company. While the listing may be the biggest ever, it falls short of Saudi Arabia’s audacious goals. The nation’s de facto leader, Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud, is shown at right.

SouthFront, Apparent US Mercenaries Spotted In Syria’s Rumeilan Oil Field Area (Video), Staff report, Nov. 3, 2019. U.S. mercenaries seem to be actively operating in oil-rich areas controlled by the US miltiary in eastern Syria. For example, supposed US-linked mercenaries could be seen on a recent video released by the Kurdish ANHA news agency from the Rumeilan oil field area.

U.S. Politics, Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Million D.U.I. Cases a Year, but Breath Analysis Often Fails Test, Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Nov. 3, 2019. The devices, found in virtually every police station in America, generate skewed results with alarming frequency, a Times investigation found.

A million Americans a year are arrested for drunken driving, and most stops begin the same way: flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror, then a battery of tests that might include standing on one foot or reciting the alphabet.

What matters most, though, happens next. By the side of the road or at the police station, the drivers blow into a miniature science lab that estimates the concentration of alcohol in their blood. If the level is 0.08 or higher, they are all but certain to be convicted of a crime.

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White nationalists march in Charlottesville, Virginia during a march and counter-demonstration that ended in a fatality, many arrests and follow-up litigation. The story below explores deceptive tactics used by activists during follow-up litigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, The ‘race whisperer —  A black activist convinced a neo-Nazi he’d save him from legal ruin. Then the real plan began,  Katie Mettler, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). James Stern knew he would need proof of this conversation later, so while his phone rang in late February he opened his Tape A Call app and hit record.

Stern, 55, billed himself as a community activist and minister, though his do-gooder credentials were accompanied by a history of criminal opportunism. He had spent much of his life in South Central L.A. trying to build connections between warring groups: the Bloods and the Crips, Korean grocers and their black neighbors, and now between himself — the son of an Ethiopian Jew — and the neo-Nazi on the other end of the phone.

For weeks, Stern had been courting Jeff Schoep, the longtime leader of the National Socialist Movement, in recorded phone calls.

His mission: to persuade Schoep, 45, to turn over the country’s largest neo-Nazi group to a black man.

His promise: to get Schoep and his organization removed from a federal lawsuit alleging that he and two dozen other hate groups and their leaders had conspired to commit violence while organizing the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge temporarily blocks Trump order requiring would-be immigrants to prove they have health insurance, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Kayla Epstein​, Nov. 2, 2019. 
A federal judge on Saturday blocked a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants to prove they had insurance or could pay for medical care before they can obtain visas.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon in Portland, Ore., issued a temporary restraining order the day before the policy was set to go into effect.

The October proclamation required that prospective immigrants demonstrate they could obtain health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the United States — a demand that immigration and health experts said would be particularly onerous for low-income immigrants who may not be coming to the United States for a job that provided health insurance or who may be unable to pay for foreseeable medical costs.

The rule was scheduled to go into effect Sunday. The temporary restraining order will remain in place for 28 days.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘My 82-year-old bones hurt’: Jane Fonda spent the night in jail to protest inaction on climate change, Hannah Natanson, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The actress, who organized the anti-climate change “Fire Drill Fridays” with advocacy group Code Pink, was arrested mid-protest.

One of the first things Hollywood star Jane Fonda did in jail was give up her red coat.

The wraparound garment — colored the exact shade of a winterberry — earned fame of its own over the past month, becoming a trademark feature of Fonda’s weekly appearances on Capitol Hill to protest the United States’ lack of action on reducing climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Fonda, who organized the anti-climate change “Fire Drill Fridays” with advocacy group Code Pink, was arrested mid-protest around noon on Nov. 1 — marking the fourth time police apprehended her but the first time they incarcerated her for civil disobedience.

Jail — where Fonda, 82, spent the night Friday — was apparently chilly. “There was a woman who was very cold and I loaned her my coat,” Fonda said in an interview shortly after she was released Saturday afternoon (without charges, according to her attorney Mark Goldstone). “But I did have to take it back: It was my mattress.”

More Trump Probe Commentary

djt cpac gage skidmore Custom

Donald J. Trump shown at the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) convention in 2013 (Gage Skidmore photo).

Buzzflash, Opinion: Impeach Me or I’ll Steal the 2020 Election: Trump’s Dare to Pelosi, Mark Karlin, Nov. 3, 2019. Trump has implicitly thrown down the gauntlet to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats: Impeach me or I’ll steal the 2020 election. It is such an audacious and corrupt implied threat that it defies the imagination. But a public challenge it is.

After all, Trump has publicly asked for foreign powers to interfere in the US election. His defenders are now admitting that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was indeed a quid pro quo request for “a favor” to investigate the Bidens. But they are trying out a new line of defense on behalf of Trump, as noted in a MEDIAite email:

After varied attempts sway public opinion on the impeachment inquiry, Trump’s surrogates are trying out a new argument: what President Trump did on the call with Zelenksy may have been unseemly, but it wasn’t a crime and therefore not an impeachable offense.

Trump publicly told the DC press corps, and the world, that he might ask the Chinese for help in investigating the Bidens, something he reportedly did in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to his public announcement.

In short, whatever Trump’s cynical denials, he has made it clear that he welcomes foreign interference if it helps him get elected again in 2020.

American Independent Institute via Buzzflash, Opinion: As Trump Assumes Powers of a Mussolini-Wannabe, Congressman “Mad Dog” Louis Gohmert (R-TX) Claims Impeachment Would Lead to a Dictator. Say What, Louie? Olliver Willis, Nov. 3, 2019. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) claimed this week that the impeachment inquiry currently underway in the House of Representatives would lead to a civil war and a dictatorship in the United States if Donald Trump were removed from office.

Gohmert made his comments Thursday night while guest-hosting the radio program “Breitbart News Tonight,” which is part of the controversial conservative Breitbart News.

Earlier in the day Gohmert said in Congress that the inquiry was “push[ing] this country to a civil war.”

He expanded on that take during Thursday night’s radio show. “What is a better description than civil war is actually — this is a communist revolution,” said Gohmert.

In reality, impeachment has been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution since its ratification in 1788. Article II, section 4 of the Constitution lays out the power of Congress to remove officials including the president and vice president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Constitution does not associate these powers with civil war or communism, or any particular political ideology.

Nov. 2

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

Palmer Report, Opinion: What was Robert Mueller DOING? Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 2, 2019. Thanks to newly granted FIOA requests on the part of CNN and BuzzFeed, we’re getting a look this bill palmerafternoon at the first batch of internal memos from the Robert Mueller probe. These stunning memos reveal that Donald Trump, his campaign, and the Republican National Committee were conspiring with Russia and WikiLeaks on a level far deeper than anyone knew.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, it turns out Donald Trump instructed his team to obtain the stolen DNC emails, and Michael Flynn, below at right, then told Trump that he would use his Russian intel contacts to try to obtain them. The Republican National Committee also had advance knowledge of when WikiLeaks was going to release new batches of stolen DNC emails.

These are the kinds of felonies that send people to prison for a very long time. Robert Mueller had all of this information dating back to when Rick Gates cut his plea deal in February djt prison palmer reportof 2018 – and yet nothing came of it. This was long before Bill Barr came on the scene. We don’t know if Mueller put prosecutions in motion that were later Michael Flynn Harvard 2014shut down by Barr, or if those prosecutions are still underway, or if Mueller just didn’t do anything.

We do know that Robert Mueller apparently ended up including all of this damning evidence in his final report, which he expected would make its way to Congress. By that time Barr was in charge, and he redacted the most incriminating parts of the report. Now it’s finally starting to come out, and it should play a key role in impeachment.

But now more than ever, we deserve answers on why Mueller was sitting on a goldmine of information that could have sent Donald Trump (shown in a Palmer Report illustrative image) and dozens of other people to prison forever, and nothing came of it. Did Mueller simply fail us, or was Mueller’s work sabotaged on a criminal level?

washington post logoalexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Washington Post, White House official who heard Trump’s Ukraine call testified that he was told to keep quiet, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, testified that he received the directive from John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, after White House lawyers learned that a CIA employee had raised concerns about the phone call, according to people familiar with Vindman’s testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction, Philip Rucker, Rachael Bade and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as “Never Trumpers” and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomTo the Democratic leaders directing the impeachment proceedings, Trump’s actions to stymie their investigation into his conduct with Ukraine add up to another U.S. House logolikely article of impeachment: obstruction.

The centerpiece of House Democrats’ eventual impeachment charges is widely expected to be Trump’s alleged abuse of power over Ukraine. But obstruction of Congress is now all but certain to be introduced as well, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides, just as it was five decades ago when the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against then-president Richard Nixon. But Nixon resigned before the full House vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing number of GOP senators consider acknowledging Trump’s quid pro quo on Ukraine, Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Facing mounting evidence, some Senate Republicans argued privately this week that they should acknowledge the arrangement while saying it was not illegal and not impeachable.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: The stakes just got a lot higher for the rogue White House lawyer, Bill Palmer, Nov. 2, 2019. As more House impeachment testimony continues to surface, more and more of the focus has begun to point to one White House lawyer in particular. Now the stakes for that lawyer have just gotten a whole lot higher.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst we learned that Colonel Vindman testified that White House lawyer John Eisenberg (shown in a 2006 screenshot) had said he was going to hide the Trump-Ukraine transcript on the secret server. Then we learned that Eisenberg also allegedly told Vindman not to speak to anyone about what he’d heard on the Trump-Ukraine phone call. If this pans out, it means Eisenberg committed obstruction of justice on a level that’ll send him to prison for a very long time after Trump is out of office. This brings us to last night.

John Eisenberg just happens to be scheduled to testify on Monday. We imagine the House impeachment inquiry will have quite a number of pointed questions for him about the Ukraine scandal, and he could have quite a hard time trying to figure out how to answer them without either incriminating himself or perjuring himself. Accordingly, the House subpoenaed Eisenberg on Friday night, in order to underscore that he does not have the option of not showing up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s defenders need to stop pretending impeachment is a criminal trial, Neal Katyal and Sam Koppelman, Nov. 2, 2019. Trump’s defenders need to stop pretending impeachment is a criminal trial.

President Trump’s defenders have a problem: His conduct with Ukraine has thus far proved to be indefensible.

Unsurprisingly, then, rather than justify the substance of what he did, his allies have fallen back on complaints about the impeachment process. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.) has said, “in a court of law, this would be declared a mistrial.” President Trump’s lawyer, Pat Cipollone, has called the impeachment inquiry “illegitimate.” And every Republican senator except for three — Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — signed a letter condemning the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her fellow chamber Democrats have been conducting the investigation.

Their argument rests on the idea that Democrats have failed to follow the rules of criminal proceedings in conducting their inquiry. But there’s an issue with that premise: Impeachment proceedings were not designed to follow the same rules as criminal ones. Claiming otherwise — as so many Republicans already have — perpetuates two fundamental misunderstandings of the Constitution.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logobeto orourke o 113th CongressWashington Post, Beto O’Rourke quits presidential race amid financial strain, lagging popularity, Matt Viser and Jenna Johnson, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The former Texas congressman, right, shined in a 2018 Senate race in Texas but was unable to translate his fundraising prowess and campaign swagger in the presidential contest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What we can learn from Beto O’Rourke, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Running for president is hard. It is especially hard if you are not disciplined and do not have a complete, consistent message. It was no surprise then that Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, joining former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Reps. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio). (New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also came and went.)

democratic donkey logoThe premise of the O’Rourke campaign — an eloquent and moderate uniter — almost worked in a Senate race. But in a crowded field, he seemed in over his head — better known for jumping on counters and casting out a gun confiscation scheme than in establishing himself as the RFK whom so many Democrats thought he might turn out to be. From the cringe-worthy cover of Vanity Fair to the awkward video announcement to the f-bombs, he simply did not seem “presidential” — that is, someone single-minded, devoted and utterly prepared to lead a country with as many grave problems as ours.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Syria’s teeming, fetid ISIS prisons: Broken men, child inmates and orders to break free, Louisa Loveluck | Photos by Alice Martins, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Prison security is deteriorating, yet there’s no answer for how to address the threat posed by the prisoners, the remains of the Islamic State. 

They are the remains of the Islamic State, a once sprawling kingdom built by foot soldiers from around the world to terrorize and enslave those they conquered. Hollow-eyed and gaunt, the men and boys look broken. Days are spent in halting conversation with cellmates who still have the energy, or staring blankly across the teeming, fetid cells. Many have lost limbs in the battles that led them here. Others have lost eyes and ears, a result, they said, of airstrikes.

As Islamist militants fought in March for their last square mile in eastern Syria, fighters and families from more than 60 countries streamed out of their stronghold to surrender into the custody of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led force.

Eight months on, more than 10,000 men and children are still crammed into at least 25 makeshift prisons, lingering in legal twilight. The Kurdish-led force that holds them does not have the capacity to investigate or try them, and their home governments are mostly unwilling to take them back to face trials there.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Freezes Military Aid to Lebanon, Against Wishes of Congress, State Dept. and Pentagon, Edward Wong, Vivian Yee and Michael Crowley, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration has frozen all military aid to the Lebanese army, including a package worth $105 million that both the State Department and Congress approved in September, congressional officials said Friday.

American FlagThe halt to American funding of the Lebanese Armed Forces, an important multisectarian group, comes at a critical time for Lebanon, as officials are grappling with the country’s largest street protests since its independence in 1943 and a change in leadership forced by the demonstrations. A freeze on the assistance could give Iran and Russia an opening to exert greater influence over the Lebanese military, analysts say, and perhaps even allow the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to gain greater footholds in the country.

The delivery of military aid, especially in cases that involve White House intervention, has become a delicate and divisive issue in Washington. Congressional committees are overseeing an impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump held up $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to coerce Ukrainian leaders to do political favors for him. Though the president has denied it, senior administration officials have testified that there was indeed a quid pro quo, and the top American diplomat in Ukraine said he sent a cable telling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it was “folly” to withhold the aid.

Migrant / Smuggling Security

washington post logoWashington Post, Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall, Nick Miroff, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Smuggling gangs in Mexico have repeatedly sawed us dhs big eagle logo4through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.

The breaches have been made using a popular cordless household tool known as a reciprocating saw that retails at hardware stores for as little as $100. When republican elephant logofitted with specialized blades, the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes, according to the agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the barrier-defeating techniques.

so tall — and are attached only to a panel at the very top — their length makes them easier to push aside once they have been cut and are left dangling, according to engineers consulted by The Washington Post.

Media / Political News

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Real Reason Facebook Won’t Fact-Check Political Ads, Siva Vaidhyanathan (professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and the author of “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy.”), Nov. 2, 2019. It’s not about free speech.

When Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, announced on Wednesday that Twitter would no longer host political advertisements, he scored points with those who lament the ways social media platforms have polluted political culture.

facebook logotwitter bird CustomAt Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg responded by reaffirming that his company would continue to distribute political ads without fact-checking them. “In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians, or the news,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Wednesday earnings conference call.

Facebook’s decision to refrain from policing the claims of political ads is not unreasonable. But the company’s officers have been incompetent at explaining and defending this decision.

If Facebook’s leaders were willing to level with us, they would stop defending themselves by appealing to lofty values like free speech. They would focus instead on more practical realities: Facebook is incapable of vetting political ads effectively and consistently at the global scale. And political ads are essential to maintaining the company’s presence in countries around the world.

Palmer Report, Newly released Mueller memos reveal bombshell about Republican National Committee and WikiLeaks, Bill Palmer, Nov. 2, 2019. The internal memos from the Robert Mueller investigation have just been obtained by BuzzFeed, thanks to a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, and the first batch of them has been published today. There are a number of shocking revelations in here, including one about the Republican National Committee and WikiLeaks.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the memos reveals that Rick Gates testified that the Republican National Committee “indicated they knew the timing of the upcoming releases” from WikiLeaks during the 2016 election cycle. This means the RNC was at least indirectly coordinating with a cyberterrorist group that had hacked and stolen the Democratic National Committee’s internal emails.

robert mueller full face fileRick Gates didn’t specify who at the RNC knew about the timing of the WikiLeaks. It’s far from clear why Mueller, right, didn’t choose to pursue this, as Gates was working under a cooperation deal and would have been required to name names if asked. This raises the question of not only who at the RNC was participating in this criminal conspiracy with WikiLeaks to alter the outcome of the election, but also how it was facilitated.

For instance, it’s been long established that the Donald Trump campaign had multiple backchannels with WikiLeaks. Were those same people also playing this role for the RNC and WikiLeaks, or was it someone else? There are a whole lot of people who conspired against the United States and need to go to prison for this. Perhaps the biggest question is why Mueller and his team never pursued these criminal investigations.

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ny times logoNew York Times, In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies, Mike McIntire, Karen Yourish and Larry Buchanan, Nov. 2, 2019. We look inside the alternate reality of President Trump’s Twitter account, where he absorbs and amplifies a noxious stream of disinformation. To assess the first Twitter presidency, The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s interactions with the social media platform since he took office.

In September, an obscure Twitter account promoting a fringe belief about an anti-Trump cabal within the government tweeted out a hashtag: #FakeWhistleblower.

twitter bird CustomIt was typical for the anonymous account, which traffics in far-right content and a conspiracy theory known as QAnon, some of whose adherents think that satanic pedophiles control the “deep state.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently labeled QAnon a potential domestic terror threat.

Still, that did not stop others, including a Republican congressional candidate, from quickly picking up the hashtag and tweeting it. Within a week, hundreds of QAnon believers and “MAGA” activists had joined in, posting memes and bogus reports to undermine the complaint by a government whistle-blower that President Trump had pressed Ukraine’s leader for dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

Then Mr. Trump tweeted the hashtag himself.

ny times logodonald trump twitterNew York Times, How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan and Keith Collins, Nov. 2, 2019. The president’s tweeting transformed how he exerted power, leaving the White House and Twitter to grapple over whether, and how, to rein it in.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whimpering Terrorist Only Trump Seems to Have Heard, Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt, Nov. 2, 2019 (updated). President Trump offered a vivid account of an ISIS leader “crying and screaming” before his death. It may be no more true than a movie script, our correspondent writes.

It was a vivid scene worthy of the ending of a Hollywood thriller, the image of a ruthless terrorist mastermind finally brought to justice “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death. But it may be no more true than a movie script.

In the days since President Trump gave the world a graphic account of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s last minutes, no evidence has emerged to confirm it.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘A Lot of Wasted Lives’: Many Veterans Back Trump on Ending Wars, Jennifer Steinhauer, Nov. 2, 2019 (updated.). A majority of veterans regret the wars fought after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. President Trump and Congress are listening.

Nearly two decades after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, polls show that a majority of all veterans have grown disenchanted with the continuing wars, even if the national security elite in both parties continue to press for an American military presence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The view is in stark contrast to widespread support for the wars across the military and veterans community — and the general population — when President George W. Bush first sent American troops to Afghanistan and then Iraq.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Did Warren Pass the Medicare Test? I Think So, Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Her plan is serious, even if it probably won’t happen. Last week I paul krugmanworried that Elizabeth Warren had painted herself into a corner by endorsing the Sanders Medicare-for-all plan. It was becoming obvious that she couldn’t stay vague about the details, especially how to pay for it; and some studies, even by center-left think tanks, suggested that any plan along these lines would require large tax elizabeth warren o purplehikes on the middle class. So what would she come up with?

Well, the Warren plan is now out. And I’d say that she passed the test. Experts will argue for months whether she’s being too optimistic — whether her cost estimates are too low and her revenue estimates too high, whether we can really do this without middle-class tax hikes. You might say that time will tell, but it probably won’t: Even if Warren becomes president, and Dems take the Senate too, it’s very unlikely that Medicare for all will happen any time soon.

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. uses aid to lean on foreign states — but not always with the same intentions or results, Miriam Berger, Nov. 2, 2019. This week, there were three very different conversations around U.S. foreign financial assistance in Cameroon, Lebanon and Israel. The one constant is that there often doesn’t seem to be a consistent carrot or stick guiding these foreign policy decisions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pal Nigel Farage tells Boris Johnson he must abandon his Brexit deal in coming election — or else, William Booth and Karla Adam, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.).  Political rabble-rouser and talk-radio host Nigel Farage announced Friday that his potentially vote-splitting Brexit Party will field candidates for every seat in Britain in the December general election — unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson agrees to abandon the withdrawal deal he negotiated with European leaders and form an alliance with the most zealous Brexit backers.

Farage flung the ultimatum at Johnson at a Brexit Party campaign launch, staged just a few blocks away from the House of Commons, which party chairman and real estate tycoon Richard Tice disparaged as this “stinking, rotten borough of Westminster.”

Farage had already made some election news with a Thursday evening radio interview with a caller from the White House. In that call, President Trump disparaged Johnson’s Brexit plan, saying it could nix a free trade deal with the United States. But he also praised the British prime minister and urged Farage and Johnson to form an electoral pact, saying the duo would be an “unstoppable force.”

9/11 Research

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Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, New Paper on WTC ‘Collapses’ Adds to Literature Refuting Progressive Collapse Theory, Ted Walter, Nov. 2, 2019. Few people know that the official account of the Twin Towers’ destruction relies entirely on just four journal papers. All four papers were coauthored by Northwestern University engineering professor Zdeněk Bažant, and all four were published in the ASCE’s Journal of Engineering Mechanics between 2002 and 2011 (Bažant submitted the first paper a mere two days after 9/11).

This may come as a surprise to many people, since one would assume that the government itself fully investigated the Twin Towers’ destruction and offered a complete theory explaining these catastrophic building failures. But that assumption is wide of the mark.

As it happens, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) limited the scope of its investigation to “the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse.” Stunningly, NIST admitted that it conducted “little analysis of the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached” and that it was “unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse.” 5 6

In other words, the government did not explain how the tops of the Twin Towers were able to crush through the enormous steel structures below them “essentially in free fall.”7 The only analysis ever produced in support of this notion was by Bažant and his various coauthors.

Ansgar Schneider portraitThis past September, the most recent paper refuting Bažant’s theory was presented by German mathematician and physicist Ansgar Schneider, right, at the annual congress of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) in New York City. Schneider’s paper, “The Structural Dynamics of the World Trade Center Catastrophe,” can now be found in the conference proceedings and is also available for free on arXiv, the e-print server of the Cornell University Library.

Complementing earlier research, Schneider’s paper offers a new and unique approach to falsifying [i.e., refuting] Bažant’s theory. Previous papers showed that Bažant hugely underestimated the ability of WTC 1’s lower section to resist the fall of the upper section and pointed out that there would have been a large, observable deceleration of the upper section’s downward movement — which there was not — if it had impacted the intact lower section.

Schneider’s approach is to assume that Bažant’s mathematical model of a progressive collapse is valid. Then, by plugging into the model the actual data related to the fall of the upper section, he calculates the upward resistance provided by the lower section.

Nov. 1

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: On Impeachment Fight, Neither Side Seems Willing to Give an Inch, Carl Hulse, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). No Republicans and only two Democrats broke ranks, a sign that the inquiry is likely to remain a highly partisan affair. When the Republican-led House voted in 1998 to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Bill Clinton, 31 Democratic-Republican Campaign logosDemocrats sided with Republicans, and the White House breathed a sigh of relief that the number was not significantly larger. In today’s hyper-polarized Washington, defections of that magnitude on the question of impeachment would be considered a tsunami.

Not a single House Republican on Thursday joined Democrats in supporting a resolution outlining the parameters for the next stage of impeachment proceedings, despite having demanded such a vote for weeks. Just two Democrats broke from their party to oppose the investigation. Left on the sidelines were Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, both known as consistent, conservative thorns in their party’s side.

washington post logofrancis rooneyWashington Post, GOP continues to tout unity on resolution vote, Griff Witte, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Is Trump’s base wavering over impeachment? The tale of one congressman’s defiance suggests not. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) dared to step out of line. The president’s supporters struck back fast.

Republican Facebook pages lit up with indignation that Rooney, right, had failed to denounce the impeachment inquiry as “a witch hunt.” Party activists traded outraged texts. Some took their case directly to the congressman, protesting what they saw as an act of supreme disloyalty to a leader they say they have come to revere more than any in their lifetimes.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans convene the cult of Trump, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Republicans are defending President Trump, who believes windmills cause cancer, in impeachment proceedings literally sparked by his pursuit of a debunked conspiracy theory in Ukraine — and Democrats are the ones loyally following the conspiracy theories of their cult leader, who apparently is Rep. Adam Schiff?

Maybe this is how Republican lawmakers survive the strain of the Trump era. They represent family values but defend Trump through “Access Hollywood” and Stormy Daniels scandals. They represent military hawkishness but acquiesce to his Syria pullout and subservience to Moscow. They represent free markets and fiscal discipline but justify his trade wars and trillion-dollar deficit. They represent law and order but excuse his obstructions of justice.

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Palmer Report, Opinion; Michael Flynn just totally blew it for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 1, 2019. Michael Flynn was this close to avoiding prison, when he and his new attorney decided to go into court and start pushing one deranged and obviously false conspiracy theory about the FBI after another. This propaganda so closely mirrors the vomit that’s coming out of the mouths of Donald Trump and his acolytes, it’s clear that Trump and Flynn are at least indirectly coordinating their efforts. The trouble is, Flynn just blew it for Trump – and for himself.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Flynn has convinced himself that the FBI somehow altered its original interview notes, and tricked Flynn into pleading guilty by making it appear that Flynn had lied. This shows you how far gone Flynn is, considering he was there, and he told the lies, and now he doesn’t think any of it happened.

Donald Trump and his goons have also been pushing this deranged notion that the FBI changed the 302 form in order to trick Flynn. In fact it appears to be one of the core tenets of the sham “criminal inquiry” that Bill Barr claims he’s running into the original Trump-Russia investigation.

Because Flynn went into court and made this ludicrous argument, federal prosecutors simply released the original notes in court today, which prove that the 302 form was not in any way altered. There goes the conspiracy theory. Also, this means Barr is chasing his tail on something that’ll go nowhere and leave egg on his face.

U.S. Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. lawyer Charles Cooper takes over Jeffrey Epstein-related libel suit against Dershowitz, Tom Jackman, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Washington attorney Charles Cooper, who has represented two attorneys general and is enmeshed in the congressional investigation of President Trump’s contacts with Ukraine, entered the libel case against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz Thursday after another high-powered attorney, David Boies, was disqualified.

Cooper will take over representation of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who allegedly was a sexual assault victim of Jeffrey Epstein as a teenager in Florida in the early 2000s. Beginning in 2014, Giuffre began publicly accusing Dershowitz of repeatedly abusing her while Dershowitz was in Epstein’s social orbit, before Epstein was first arrested in Florida. Dershowitz has aggressively denied Giuffre’s claims, calling her a “certified, complete, total liar,” and in April, Giuffre sued Dershowitz for defamation, with Boies and partner Sigrid McCawley as her lawyers.

Dershowitz and Boies met in 2015 to discuss Giuffre’s allegations, and Dershowitz claims that Boies agreed that Dershowitz was right. Boies strongly denies that. Once Boies filed the defamation suit, Dershowitz told a federal judge in New York that he would be calling Boies as a witness, and asked for Boies to be disqualified. U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska agreed and ordered Boies and his firm out of the case earlier this month after five years of representing Giuffre on various matters, including another, successful defamation suit against Epstein’s top assistant, Ghislaine Maxwell, who also called Giuffre a liar. Maxwell paid a confidential settlement to Giuffre, and Dershowitz is seeking to have the documents in that case unsealed.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: The Trump brothers’ claims that they no longer profit from foreign deals, Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Did the Trump Organization stop doing business internationally after Trump was elected?

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said they would avoid international business during their father’s presidency. The facts are not so straightforward. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

“When my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business.”

— Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in an interview on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” Oct. 15

“We’ve been international businesspeople for decades, but we can’t even do those kinds of deals anymore. We can’t even continue, and because we chose not to, because we didn’t think it was appropriate. So that’s the double standard. The media said, ‘Oh, you’re enriching yourselves.’ We’re like, ‘We literally stopped.’ ”

— Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in an interview on “Fox and Friends,” Oct. 30

The president’s sons say the Trump business empire no longer makes money from foreign deals.

It’s a false claim whether you take Eric Trump’s version (“we got out of all international business”) or Donald Trump Jr.’s formulation (“we literally stopped”).

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Bodies flew everywhere’: A border chase shows the role that U.S. citizens play in immigration smuggling, Maria Sacchetti, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). A pursuit and horrific crash in Texas led to murder and human smuggling charges against six teenagers. It also revealed a growing trend as the Trump administration tries to crack down on illegal immigration: the deep involvement of U.S. citizens.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, SNL tackles Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-all plan in cold open, Derek Hawkins, Nov. 3, 2019. Saturday Night Live waded into wonk territory in its Nov. 2 cold nbc logoopening, tackling the debate over Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s sweeping plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Kate McKinnon reprised her role as the Democratic presidential contender from Massachusetts, pacing back and forth on the stage in black pants, a black shirt and a bright red cardigan a la Warren. The setting was a mock town hall in Iowa, which hosted a fall fundraising dinner for the Democratic candidates on Friday and where Warren has recently emerged as the candidate to beat.

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Media Matters, Commentary: The White House press briefing now takes place on Fox News, Bobby Lewis, Nov. 1, 2019. Since becoming White House press secretary on July 1, Stephanie Grisham has held zero press briefings. Instead, Grisham has found the time to grant interviews to some of President Donald Trump’s favorite current and former Fox News hosts.

It is not new that Grisham appears on Fox News (as shown above at right in a screenshot from the show of Jeanne Pirro, at left) or that Grisham tells pro-Trump lies. Sarah Sanders certainly did both quite a bit while she held the office.
But it is new that Grisham appears virtually only on Fox News.

Grisham’s particular innovation is to move the entire office of White House press secretary into the world of Fox News and Fox-adjacent media.

After giving her first TV interview to Sinclair’s Eric Bolling (who was fired by Fox for sending unsolicited explicit photos to coworkers), Grisham has given seven interviews to Fox News — including last night with Jeanine Pirro. Instead of actually briefing the press at the White House, Grisham treats her duties as press secretary as complaining to pro-Trump pundits about how unfair everyone else is to the president.

U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Elizabeth Warren Releases Plan to Pay for ‘Medicare for All,’ Thomas Kaplan, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz, Nov. 1, 2019. Ms. Warren would impose huge tax increases on businesses and billionaires. She said she would not raise taxes on the middle class.

Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday proposed $20.5 trillion in new spending through huge tax increases on businesses and wealthy Americans to pay for “Medicare for all,” laying out details for a landmark government expansion that will pose political risks for her presidential candidacy while also allowing her to say she is not raising taxes on the middle class to pay for her health care plan.

Ms. Warren, who has risen steadily in the polls with strong support from liberals excited about her ambitious policy plans, has been under pressure from top rivals like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to release details about paying for her biggest plan, “Medicare for all.” Her new proposal marks a turning point for her campaign, in which she will have to sell voters on a huge tax-and-spending plan that rivals the ambitions of the New Deal and the Great Society while also defending it against both Democratic and Republican criticism.

Under Ms. Warren’s plan, employer-sponsored health insurance — which more than half of Americans now receive — would be eliminated and replaced by free government health coverage for all Americans, a fundamental shift from a market-driven system that has defined health care in the United States for decades but produced vast inequities in quality, service and cost.

washington post logoWashington Post, Terry McAuliffe stepped up when Va. Democrats looked doomed. They bounced back, but he’s not quitting, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). The former governor is barnstorming the state ahead of Tuesday’s election, sparking speculation about another run.

Natural Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, California braces for another day of ‘critical fire weather’ as a new blaze rages, Alex Horton and Andrew Freedman​​, Nov. 1, 2019. The Maria Fire ignited in the dry brush in Ventura County and quickly consumed thousands of acres.

U.S. Jobs / Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Added 128,000 Jobs in October; Unemployment at 3.6%, Ben Casselman, Nov. 1, 2019. Ordinarily, a gain of 128,000 jobs would count as a weak month. But the figure looks stronger accounting for the strike at General Motors, which shaved close to 50,000 workers from the employment rolls. United Automobile Workers union members have since approved a contract and ended the strike, and the November report should get a lift from their return to work.

Even accounting for the strike, however, job growth has been slowing. Hiring has been particularly weak in manufacturing, a result of trade tensions and the cooling of the global economy.

Media / Security News

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SouthFront, British Government Keeps Journalist Julian Assange In Maximum Security Prison At Behest Of Trump Regime, Leon Tressell, Nov. 1, 2019. At his latest extradition hearing Julian Assange (shown above in a photo by The Indicter Magazine) was once again denied justice by a British court.

If extradited to the U.S. he faces 175 years imprisonment for revealing American war crimes committed during its regime change wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Magistrate refuses to dismiss the extradition case against Assange, shown in a file photo.

Julian Assange August On October 21 magistrate Vanessa Baraitser refused Assange’s defence a hearing to dismiss the extradition case on the basis of the 2003 U.S.-UK extradition treaty which prohibits extradition for political offences such as espionage. The wording of the American indictment against Assange makes it clear that 18 of the 19 charges against him regard offences that allegedly damaged the national security of the United States. These espionage charges are clearly political offences which should prevent his extradition under the 2003 extradition treaty.

Magistrate refuses to postpone Assange’s extradition hearing

The magistrate also rejected an application from Assange’s defence to postpone the full extradition hearing on 24 February 2020. This application to postpone was based on two grounds.

Firstly, that Assange is being kept in conditions at Belmarsh maximum security prison that obstruct his ability to prepare his legal defence. He is denied access to his legal papers, and a computer while his mental health has significantly declined due to his continued imprisonment.

The second ground for a postponement of the extradition hearing were that his defence team need more time to access the mass of evidence coming out of the Spanish investigation into the surveillance of Assange, his lawyers, friends and family during the time he sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy. Spanish newspaper El Pais has revealed that security firm UC Global spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy and passed the information onto the CIA.
British government blocks Spanish judge from questioning Assange over spying allegations tied to American intelligence services

united kingdom flagThe newspaper El Pais has noted how the Spanish investigation has major ramifications for Assange’s case which has led the British government to block attempts by the investigating judge to question Julian Assange by videoconference. El Pais has commented upon the unprecedented nature of the UK government’s actions:

“The British position, unprecedented in these types of requests for judicial collaboration, is being viewed by Spanish judicial bodies as a show of resistance against the consequences that the case could have on the process to extradite the Australian cyberactivist to the United States.”

Judge Jose De La Mata has expressed his surprise at the UK government turning down his request to interview Assange as it has agreed to such requests in ”previous cases”. Refusal of such requests rarely happens and in this case is an example of the British government interfering in the judicial process in an attempt to ensure that Assange is extradited to the United States.

War Zones

SouthFront, Syrian Democratic Forces Denounce Syrian Army’s Call To Unite Against Turkish Invasion, Staff report, Nov. 1, 2019. On Oct. 30, the Syrian Defense Ministry released an official statement calling on SDF members to join the ranks of the army to counter the Turkish offensive and restore Syrian territorial integrity.

These statements faced a fierce resistance among the SDF leadership that claimed that it will not accept any deal that would not “recognize and preserve” the group’s “privacy and structure.” This behavior is apparently linked with actions of US forces that have recently increased their activity in northern Syria. A US military column was recently spotted in the village of Sreen, south of Kobani. Most likely, these actions are aimed at rescuing the crumbling US influence in the countryside of Raqqah, additionally to the already occupied oil fields in Deir Ezzor.

 

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