Holiday Greetings and New Year Renewals
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Justice Integrity Project thanks our readers for your interest and inputs. We share our hopes for a happy holiday season and a New Year of health and happiness in a just, prosperous and peaceful society.
To that end, we are going to be describing shortly a plan for readers to enhance effectiveness in fighting for justice. This draws on proven methods so that we can together spend more time during 2014 in success for the reform goals we share, and less time chronicling injustice.
A promising omen was a review of my new book, Presidential Puppetry, that syndicated columnist and intrepid reporter Andy Thibault published Dec. 31 in the Journal-Register consortium of Connecticut newspapers. His column, Kreig’s ‘Presidential Puppetry’ gives road map to master manipulators, argued for a path to reform via investigative reporting and blunt commentary, much as we seek to achieve via this site.
The U.S. Capitol is portrayed at left in an arrangement at the U.S. Botanic Gardens on the Washington Mall in a photo courtesy of a friend of the Justice Integrity Project.
In the spirit of our mission, we convey also below several compelling holiday messages.
The first is a column by my friend Jeanne Bishop. She describes in powerful terms her visit to the prisoner who murdered her sister, brother-in-law and their unborn child in what was undoubtedly Chicago's most notorious crime two decades ago when I met Jeanne.
The second is the holiday message by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. He sacrificed his future to try to bring the gift of privacy to the United States and world population. His message was conveyed by a British television station, Channel Four.
Next we have holiday messages from the best-known United States political prisoner, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003). He is serving a long prison sentence centered on his 1999 reappointment to a state board of a major donor to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation.
Another column is by former Alabama Republican political operative Jill Simpson, who blew the whistle in 2007 on the Republican frame-up Siegelman, her state's best-known Democrat.
She interrupted her honeymoon in Europe with her husband and co-author, Jim March, to write with him about the ongoing injustice of Alabama's continued jailing of the corruption-fighting journalist Roger Shuler. An arrogant judge who disregarded settled law about libel law jailed Shuler on contempt charges for failure to spike his stories involving the son of Siegelman's gubernatorial rival in Alabama.
We at the Project helped break the Shuler story in October. Appended below is recent coverage by others of his plight in the context of the world's second worst year on record for jailing journalists globally.
Even (or especially) on holiday, these are reminders of the important work that remains after we renew our bonds and spirits.
Looking ahead, we'll be drawing on proven methods for enhancing our effectiveness in reform. This includes tips drawn from the work of organizational strategist Sarah Robinson, author of Fierce Loyalties: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities. I've heard her speak at the National Press Club, and can recommend her book as a practical tool for this and similar groups.
Until then, with best regards,
-- Andrew Kreig
Related News Coverage
Huffington Post Singing Carols to Jesus in Prison t, Jeanne Bishop, right, Huffington Post, Dec. 23, 2013. I was sitting in the visiting room at a prison in downstate Illinois on a bitingly cold December day. The room is as stark as you'd expect: bare linoleum floor, plain white walls, a series of cubicles. Visitors sit across from inmates, separated by glass. I had come to see the man who had murdered my sister, her husband and their baby years ago. He killed them at the beginning of Holy Week, a time that marks death and resurrection. Our visit took place during Advent, a time that awaits a birth. He had apologized; I was there to try to reconcile. With Christmas approaching, I asked him what that day would be like for him. Would there be anything special to mark the day?
New Haven Register, Kreig’s ‘Presidential Puppetry’ gives road map to master manipulators, Andy Thibault, left, Dec. 31, 2013. Andrew Kreig covered federal courts in the 1970s for The Hartford Courant. Kreig seemed like he knew what he was doing, so I followed him around for a bit. The guy wore a nice suit, white shirt and a skinny tie. He was well over six-feet tall and trim. He moved swiftly and deliberately. I learned some time later he had been a boxer at Cornell, reaching the heavyweight finals of the Niagara Region AAU Golden Gloves. In federal court, the clerks and even the judges were friendly to him. I didn’t know what I was doing, but that didn’t really matter. I was a cub reporter for the Norwich paper, and most days started that way. By the end of the day, I was sort of supposed to know what I was doing. His reporting on the 2008 and 2012 elections inspired him to probe who really pulls the strings in Washington. The result is a most provocative book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. Kreig broke the story of how President-elect Obama’s transition team feared a revolt if the new commander in chief pushed prosecution of CIA officials for torture and other crimes. “Presidential Puppetry” documents how Obama is among all recent U.S. presidents who have fostered confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. For example, Obama’s first job out of college was for Business International Corporation, revealed by The New York Times as a CIA front.
PC World, Edward Snowden's Christmas message: a child born today will have no conception of privacy, Peter Sayer, Dec. 26, 2013. ”A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Edward Snowden warned Wednesday in a message broadcast to U.K. television viewers. ”They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought,” said Snowden, famous for leaking documents from the U.S. National Security Agency that reveal just how much of what we say, write and do is already recorded and analyzed. ”That’s a problem because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are, and who we want to be,” Snowden said in “video message” recorded for Channel 4, a commercially funded public service broadcaster. The video, one minute 43 seconds in duration, was produced by Praxis Films, the production company of freelance journalist Laura Poitras, who has worked on a number of stories about NSA surveillance based on the documents Snowden leaked.
New York Times, TV Message by Snowden Says Privacy Still Matters, Channel 4, Stephen Castle, Dec. 25, 2013. In a message broadcast Wednesday on British television, Edward J. Snowden, the former American security contractor, urged an end to mass surveillance, arguing that the electronic monitoring he has exposed surpasses anything imagined by George Orwell in “1984,” a dystopian vision of an all-knowing state. “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Mr. Snowden said in a Christmas Day message shown by Channel 4. “They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.” Washington Post, Snowden says spying worse than Orwellian, Griff Witte, Dec. 25, 2013. In Christmas video, the NSA whistleblower says government surveillance has destroyed privacy.
OpEdNews, Holiday Greeting From Prison, Don Siegelman, Dec. 23, 2013. At left, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is shown in a February 2008 CBS 60 Minutes story about his frame-up on corruption charges that seemed likely at one point to free him from prison on trumped up charges. His 2013 holiday message follows: "My Dear Friends: This has been my third Holiday Season in federal prison. If the Creator set a purpose for everything, then I know my job: To fight for justice! He has given me a personal, hands-on view of the tragedies created by our criminal justice system. It is not balanced or fair. It is not seeking truth or justice. Our system pursues convictions with an "anything goes" attitude! The President and the Attorney General have spoken out, allowing changes for some...so let's encourage them to be even bolder, to seek justice for all...Oh, yes we can! We cannot give up on true justice."
OpEd News, Let Roger Shuler Go Before Christmas -- The Only Journalist Held Indefinitely In The US, Jill Simpson and Jim March, Dec. 23, 2013. The Committee to Protect Journalists who are defending journalists worldwide recently announced their 2013 list of reporters imprisoned illegally around the world. As to be expected Turkey, Iran and China were at the top of the list but shamefully this time the US of A made the list as well due to the jailing of an Internet blogger named Roger Shuler in the state of Alabama.
Committee to Protect Journalists, Second worst year on record for jailed journalists, Elana Beiser, Dec. 18, 2013. For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. Turkey, Iran, and China accounted for more than half of all journalists imprisoned around the world in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census, CPJ identified 211 journalists jailed for their work, the second worst year on record after 2012, when 232 journalists were behind bars. The single journalist behind bars in the Americas was in the United States. Roger Shuler, an independent blogger specializing in allegations of corruption and scandal in Republican circles in Alabama, was being held on contempt of court for refusing to comply with an injunction regarding content ruled defamatory.
Think Progress, Ten Travesties Of Justice In 2013, Nicole Flatow, Dec. 23, 2013, also via Alternet. Every year, stories emerge that serve as a reminder that the American system of justice means injustice for too many, with some receiving little or no punishment for egregious offenses, while others receive harsh or faulty punishment for much less. Here are some of the worst injustices of 2013.
Bill Moyers and Company via Huffington Post, Watch: Incarceration Nation an interview with Michelle Alexander, Bill Moyers, Dec. 23, 2013. There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. According to the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group dedicated to changing how we think about crime and punishment, "More than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their thirties, one in every ten is in prison or jail on any given day." Because of the 40-year war on drugs and get tough sentencing policies, the American prison population has exploded from about 300,000 in the 1970s to more than 2 million today. The United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other nation and spends billions every year to keep people behind bars. The cost on democracy is immeasurable.
Washington Post, Sledgehammer justice Sledgehammer justice, George F. Will, Dec. 25, 2013. How the government uses mandatory minimum sentences to gut constitutional rights.
The Justice Integrity Project (JIP) researches official misconduct
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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for March 2015 news in our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative news and views
Al Jazeera, Houthis told to 'surrender' at Arab League summit, Yemen's president calls on rebels to surrender their weapons and for their leaders to turn themselves at Egypt meeting, Staff report, March 28, 2015. Yemen's president has called on Houthi fighters to "surrender" at a meeting of the Arab League in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, as Saudi-led air raids continued to strike the group's positions for a third day. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled the country, also called for the continuation of air strikes against Houthi targets on Saturday, as leaders representing 21 nations opened a two-day summit. (Map by Al Jazeera.)
New York Times, Ex-Yemeni Leader Urges Truce and Successor’s Ouster, David D. Kirkpatrick and Saeed Al-Batati, March 28, 2015. Under pressure from a Saudi Arabian-led campaign of airstrikes, the former leader of Yemen who is backing the group that has seized the country’s largest cities said on Saturday that he was pleading for a truce, urging negotiations, but standing by demands for the ouster of his Saudi-backed successor. “Let’s go to dialogue and ballot boxes,” the former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, declared in a 10-minute address broadcast on Yemeni television.
Veracity Voice, Blow Back From The JFK Assassination, Melinda Pillsbury Foster, March 28, 2015. Andrew Kreig, founder of the Justice Integrity Project, is not the first to point out the inconvenient truths surrounding the 1964 report of the Warren Commission. His continuing series of articles on the details contain a series of shocks, which bring into high relief the falsehoods sold to the public by the major media. His book, Presidential Puppetry, has built out a picture of events both compelling and frightening. Kreig has been thorough, building a monumental data base which, along with following the action, examines the impact of the assassination on American politics, those who report the news, and the many incidents following the death of JFK and continuing to today.
Economist, President v. oligarch: Building a nation means putting plutocrats in their place, Staff report, March 28, 2015. For the past year, Ukraine’s government has enlisted the help of the country’s powerful oligarchs in fighting its war against pro-Russian separatists. This week a new war opened up, pitting the government against one of the very oligarchs it had relied upon. On March 25, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, forced Ihor Kolomoisky, a business magnate, to resign from his post as governor of the central region of Dnipropetrovsk. Mr Kolomoisky had financed pro-Kiev battalions and played a vital role in stemming the spread of separatism. Yet after Mr Kolomoisky deployed his personal militia in Kiev to block the government from regulating his business interests, the president had no choice but to sack him. The clash was the biggest skirmish yet in an unfolding confrontation between the government and the oligarchy. It may be the single most important front in the struggle for Ukraine’s future. (Chart below by The Economist.)
OpEdNews, The Social Costs Of Capitalism Are Destroying Earth's Ability To Support Life, Paul Craig Roberts, March 28, 2015. I admire David Ray Griffin for his wide-ranging intelligence, his research skills, and for his courage. Dr. Griffin is not afraid to take on the controversial topics. He gave us 10 books on 9/11, and anyone who has read half of one of them knows that the official story is a lie. Now Griffin has taken on global warming and the CO2 crisis. His book has just been published by Clarity Press, a publisher that seeks out truth-telling authors. Griffin's book is a hefty 424 pages plus 77 pages of footnotes documenting the information that he presents. Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive The CO2 Crisis? is no screed. The book is a carefully researched document. Readers often ask me to write about global warming, chemtrails, vaccines, and other subjects beyond my competence. However, I can see that Griffin has made a huge investment in researching climate change. His book provides a thorough account under one cover. Griffin concludes that civilization itself is at stake. March 27
Global Research, US-Saudi Blitz into Yemen: Naked Aggression, Absolute Desperation, Tony Cartalucci, March 27, 2015. The proxy war model the US has been employing throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and even in parts of Asia appears to have failed yet again, this time in the Persian Gulf state of Yemen. Overcoming the US-Saudi backed regime in Yemen, and a coalition of sectarian extremists including Al Qaeda and its rebrand (the Islamic State), pro-Iranian Yemeni Houthi militias have turned the tide against American soft power and has necessitated a more direct military intervention. While US military forces themselves are not involved allegedly, Saudi warplanes and a possible ground force are. Though Saudi Arabia claims 10 countries have joined its coalition to intervene in Yemen, like the US invasion and occupation of Iraq hid behind a coalition, it is overwhelmingly a Saudi operation with coalition partners added in a vain attempt to generate diplomatic legitimacy.
MondoWeiss, White House will go after AIPAC next — Newsweek, Philip Weiss, March 27, 2015. As the Iran talks go to the wire, we can only marvel at the political fireworks we are seeing. To being with, there’s the Wall Street Journal report that Israel was spying on the US talks and leaking details to friendly members of congress. Jeff Stein follows up at Newsweek that the revelation has angered many in the administration, and the rage goes at the Israel lobby: One former U.S. intelligence operative with long, firsthand familiarity with Israeli operations called the revelation “appalling but not surprising,” especially under Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (shown in a file photo): "The fact that there is such manipulation of our institutions by a so-called ally must be exposed, and the ‘useful idiots’ in [the U.S.] government who toe the Likud line will someday be looked back upon as men and women who sacrificed the U.S. national interest for a foreign ideology — Likud right-wing Zionism,” the operative said.
“We know publicly that the administration is seething,” he added, “but I can assure you that behind closed doors the gloves are coming off. Bibi is in the administration’s crosshairs. If this is what is being allowed to leak publicly, you can bet that, behind the scenes, folks both in the White House and the foreign policy-intel community [are prepared to] act on that anger.”
New York Times, No Copies of Clinton Emails on Server, Lawyer Says, Michael S. Schmidt, March 27, 2015. An examination of the server that housed the personal email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used when she was secretary of state showed that there are no copies of any emails she sent during her time in office, her lawyer told a congressional committee on Friday. Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, said in a letter that after her lawyers determined which emails were personal and which were private, a setting was changed to retain only emails sent in the previous 60 days. The House Select Committee on Benghazi had subpoenaed the server last week, asking Mrs. Clinton to hand it over to a third party so it could determine which emails were personal and which were government records.
Let's Try Democracy, Stop Smoking the Democrack, Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson, March 28, 2015. The U.S. government is toying with a war with nuclear Russia while already waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, having done severe damage to Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Military spending is climbing ever higher. Presidential war powers are ever more extreme. The proliferation of nuclear technology is combining with the ease and secrecy of drone wars to raise the risk of a Dr. Strangelove finish to the human species. And, let's face it, you had more time to give a damn when the president was a Republican. President Obama has dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales abroad -- the U.S. being far and away the top supplier of weapons to regions that the U.S. public thinks of as inherently violent. Why do longtime war advocates like Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton get a pass? What benefit from making Hillary president could outweigh shutting down the peace movement for 4 or 8 years?
Reuters, Exclusive: Upset by Warren, U.S. banks debate halting some campaign donations, Emily Flitter, March 27, 2015. Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said. Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren (shown in a file photo) and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week. Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington but it has been raised in one-on-one conversations between representatives of some of them. However, there was no agreement on coordinating any action, and each bank is making its own decision, they said. The amount of money at stake, a maximum of $15,000 per bank, means the gesture is symbolic rather than material
FireDogLake, Wall Street Firms Threatens Democratic Party After Call To Break Them Up, DS Wright, March 27, 2015. The Too Big To Fail banks are none too pleased with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call to break them up so they no longer pose a systemic risk to the financial system and economy. According to a report in Reuters, the banksters are now telling officials in the Democratic Party that they will withhold campaign contributions if the party does not distance itself from progressive positions on financial reform. The banksters did however say that they had no problem with Hillary Clinton and were planning on donating to her campaign.
Vice News, Arming Ukraine: Should the US Send Lethal Aid to Ukraine? Simon Ostrovsky, March 27, 2015. (Video 14:26 min). VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky visited rebel-held areas and the capital of Kiev to explore whether it would be wise for the US to arm Ukraine's poorly trained military with advanced weaponry. This week, the United States delivered a shipment 10 Humvees to the Ukrainian government — the first installment of a $75 million aid package of non-lethal equipment that is meant to assist the fight against Russia-backed rebels in the country's east.
But despite the overwhelming adoption of a resolution in the US House of Representatives urging President Barack Obama to provide Ukraine with lethal arms, his administration has yet to send such materiel. Debate on this issue centers on whether outfitting the country with lethal aid will serve only to escalate the conflict and trigger a regional arms race between the government and eastern separatists. A question that has received less attention is whether Ukraine's army is even capable of effectively using the weapons it wants.
Paul Craig Roberts.org, Manufacturing Dissent, Paul Craig Roberts, March 26, 2015. Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the author of many important books. His latest is The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity. Chossudovsky shows that Washington has globalized war while the US president is presented as a global peace-maker, complete with the Nobel Peace Prize. Washington has military deployed in 150 countries, has the world divided up into six US military commands and has a global strike plan that includes space operations. Nuclear weapons are part of the global strike plan and have been elevated for use in a pre-emptive first strike, a dangerous departure from their Cold War role. America’s militarization includes military armament for local police for use against the domestic population and military coercion of sovereign countries in behalf of US economic imperialism.
Yahoo! News Canada, Youth not voting because majority lean far left politically, says study, Dene Moore, March 27, 2015. Estimates vary, but as few as one in three young voters bothers to go down to the polling station on election day. The abysmal turnout among Millennials in the last two federal elections has been singled out to Elections Canada as one of the main culprits in the overall demise in voting numbers. But the problem is not that young voters are any less civically engaged or politically aware than their older compatriots. Veronica Campbell, spokeswoman for the group Youth Vote Canada, says the survey results are not surprising. “Youth don’t feel like politicians speak to the issues they care about, that’s partly why we can sometimes feel like it’s ‘us’ versus ‘them,’” she tells Yahoo Canada News.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Colombian Report on US Military’s Child Rapes Not Newsworthy to US News Outlets, Adam Johnson, March 26, 2015. An 800-page independent report commissioned by the US-friendly Colombian government and the radical left rebel group FARC found that US military soldiers and contractors had sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007 and, in all cases, the rapists were never punished – either in Colombia or stateside – due to American military personnel being immune from prosecution under diplomatic immunity agreements between the two countries. The report was part of a broader historical analysis meant to establish the “causes and violence aggravators” of the 50-year-long conflict between the government and rebels that’s presently being negotiated to an end. As Colombia Reports (3/23/15) would spell out:
The historian [Renan Vega] cited one 2004 case in the central Colombian town of Melgar where 53 underage girls were sexually abused by nearby stationed military contractors “who moreover filmed [the abuse] and sold the films as pornographic material.”
Spiegel Online, Caliphate Under Pressure: Is Islamic State in Trouble in Iraq? Susanne Koelbl and Christoph Reuter, March 26, 2015. Islamic State is pulling out of once-conquered towns and villages in Iraq and dissatisfaction appears to be growing among its followers. Predictions of the jihadists' demise, however, are likely premature.
Paul Craig Roberts.org, Comply Or Die” Has Replaced “Protect And Serve,” John W. Whithead, March 26, 2015. Fear the police, not terrorists. Police have killed far more Americans than have terrorists.
New York Observer, The Jeffrey Epstein Affair Imperils Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Prospects, Ken Silverstein, March 25, 2015. The case of the high-flying (alleged) pedophile reveals a broken American political process. Why is no one in the D.C. political class and media bubble talking about the Jeffrey Epstein affair? Well, it’s not true that they’re not talking about it at all; they’re just not (for the most part) talking about it honestly or asking the right questions. This earlier investigation of Mr. Epstein, led by the FBI, was reportedly closed and the evidence sealed after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two “minor” counts related to charges that he was involved in underage sex. (How crimes involving sex with underage girls can be deemed “minor” is something of a mystery.) Mr. Epstein has reportedly been a significant donor to the Clinton Foundation, before and after he was implicated in sex crimes.And the right questions are:
- Exactly how tight is the friendship between former President and potential future first gentleman Bill Clinton and Mr. Epstein, who owns a private island in Florida and is now accused of having sex with girls as young as 12 and procuring young girls for sex with other friends of his? What was Bill Clinton doing on the island with Mr. Epstein on multiple occasions and why did he fly overseas on Mr. Epstein’s plane at least 10 times?
- What hardball PR and legal tactics will Hillary Clinton’s campaign use to try to make this potential problem—which could potentially derail her planned presidential bid—disappear? Will those tactics work, or is Ms. Clinton’s campaign already dead, even if the exact time of the funeral is not yet known?
Washington Post, CIA official who directed hunt for bin Laden is being removed from post, Greg Miller, March 25, 2015. The head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, who presided over the agency’s drone campaign and directed the hunt for Osama bin Laden, is being removed from his post, officials said, a watershed moment as the CIA turns its focus to a new generation of extremist threats. The move, part of a major reorganization under CIA Director John Brennan, ends a nine-year tenure during which the center was transformed into a paramilitary force that employed armed drones to kill thousands of suspected terrorists and militants but also killed an unknown number of civilians. As the architect of that campaign, the CTC chief came to be regarded as an Ahab-like figure known for dark suits and a darker demeanor. He could be merciless toward subordinates but was also revered for his knowledge of terrorist networks and his ability to run an organization that became almost an agency unto itself. He embodied a killing-centric approach to counterterrorism that enraged many Muslims, even though he is a convert to Islam.
WikiLeaks, Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Staff report, March 25, 2015. WikiLeaks releases today the "Investment Chapter" from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. The document adds to the previous WikiLeaks publications of the chapters for Intellectual Property Rights and the Environment. The TPP Investment Chapte is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: "The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies." Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP. The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can "sue" states and obtain taxpayer compensation for "expected future profits." These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems.
Center for Public Integrity, Secretive group destroys candidates' chances, leaves few fingerprints, Rachel Baye, March 25, 2015. NRA-launched Law Enforcement Alliance of America targets state races. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America hasn’t filed required IRS reports in two years, and its leaders, once visible on television and in congressional hearings, have all but vanished. But the nonprofit that calls itself “the nation's largest coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims and concerned citizens” still has teeth. It has succeeded in helping knock out 12 state-level candidates in 14 years, including an Arkansas judicial candidate last year. In doing so, the group helped launch the current governors of Texas and Nevada to their stepping-stone positions as state attorneys general.
OpEdNews, How The US Governmnt and US Military Became Murder, Inc., Paul Craig Roberts, March 25, 2015. Andrew Cockburn has written a must-read book. The title is Kill Chain: The Rise Of The High-Tech Assassins. The title could just as well be: How the US Government and US Military Became Murder, Inc. The US military no longer does war. It does assassinations, usually of the wrong people. The main victims of the US assassination policy are women, children, village elders, weddings, funerals, and occasionally US soldiers mistaken for Taliban by US surveillance operating with the visual acuity of the definition of legal blindness. Cockburn tells the story of how the human element has been displaced by remote-control killing guided by misinterpretation of unclear images on screens collected by surveillance drones and sensors thousands of miles away. Cockburn shows that the "all-seeing" drone surveillance system is an operational failure but is supported by defense contractors because of its high profitability and by the military brass because general officers, with the exception of General Paul Van Ripper, are brainwashed in the belief that the revolution in military affairs means that high-tech devices replace the human element.
BBC, Ukraine arrests two top officials at cabinet meeting, Staff report, March 25, 2015. The head of Ukraine's state emergencies service, Serhiy Bochkovsky, and his deputy Vasyl Stoyetsky were handcuffed by police at the televised meeting. They are suspected of involvement in high-level corruption. Earlier, Ukraine's president sacked a billionaire governor, Ihor Kolomoisky. Kolomoisky had been running the key industrial region of Dnipropetrovsk and had financed armed volunteers to fight pro-Russian separatists in the east. He had been vying with President Petro Poroshenko for control of the Ukrnafta energy company. The two arrests shown on TV on Wednesday were connected to illegal kickbacks involving procurement contracts, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told the cabinet meeting.
AFP via Yahoo News, Ukraine receives first batch of US Humvees, March 25, 2015. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko (shown in a file photo) on Wednesday took delivery of ten US armored vehicles, two days after American lawmakers voted to urge President Barack Obama to provide "lethal" aid to Kiev. In total, the US plans to send 200 regular Humvees, radios, counter-mortar radars and other non-lethal equipment worth $75 million.
AP via Washington Post, Fall of Yemen government leaves US with few options, Ken Dilanian, March 25, 2015. The hasty maritime departure of Yemen’s US.-backed president on Wednesday illustrated how completely one of the most important American counterterrorism efforts has disintegrated, leaving the country wide open for what could be a deeply destabilizing proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Driven weeks ago from the capital by Shiite rebels, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi abandoned the country, leaving on a boat from the southern port of Aden. U.S. officials acknowledge their efforts against Yemen’s dangerous al-Qaida affiliate are seriously hampered, with the American embassy closed and the last U.S. troops evacuated from the country over the weekend.
Nomi Prins.com, Presidents, Bankers, the Neo-Cold War and the World Bank, Nomi Prins [best-selling author of a new book], March 23, 2015. At first glance, the neo-Cold War between the US and its post WWII European Allies vs. Russia over the Ukraine, and the stonewalling of Greece by the Troika might appear to have little in common. Yet both are manifestations of a political-military-financial power play that began during the first Cold War. Behind the bravado of today’s sanctions and austerity measures lies the decision-making alliance that private bankers enjoy in conjunction with government and multinational entries like NATO and the World Bank. It is President Obama’s foreign policy to back the Ukraine against Russia; in 1958, it was the Eisenhower Doctrine that protected Lebanon from a Soviet threat. US military might protected its major trading partners, which in turn, did business with US banks. One power reinforced the other. These actions, then and now, have roots in the American ideology of melding military, political and financial power that flourished in the haze of World War II. It’s not fair to pin this triple-power stance on one man, or even one bank; yet one man and one bank signified that power in all of its dimensions, including the use of political enemy creation to achieve financial goals. That man was John McCloy, ‘Chairman of the Establishment’ as his biographer, Kai Bird, characterized him. Editor's Note: He was also a member of the Warren Commission.] The relationship between McCloy and Truman cemented a set of public-private practices that strengthened private US banks globally at the expense of weaker, potentially Soviet (now Russian) leaning countries.
New York Times, Most Boston Residents Prefer Life Term Over Death Penalty in Marathon Case, Poll Shows, Katharine Q. Seelye, March 23, 2015. Despite immersion in a trial that is replaying the horrific details of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the vast majority of Bostonians say in a new poll that if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the admitted bomber, is found guilty, he should be sent to prison for life and not condemned to death. Given the choice, 62 percent of Boston voters said they would sentence Mr. Tsarnaev to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole, while 27 percent said he should be put to death, according to a poll released Monday by WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station. The WBUR poll is the first to be conducted since Mr. Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted this month that he had participated in the crimes. And it was conducted in the midst of his trial, which has included survivors recounting the graphic details of their limbs being blown off and of loved ones being killed. Legal experts say the Northeast is the least hospitable section of the country to the death penalty. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated it, the Northeast has carried out four executions, one in Connecticut and three in Pennsylvania; the South, by contrast, has carried out 1,137, with 518 in Texas alone. John Donohue (shown in a file photo), a professor at Stanford Law School who was involved in death penalty research while teaching at Yale, said that liberal politics and higher education, both hallmarks of New England, correlate with anti-death penalty sentiment. In addition, he said, New England has relatively low rates of crime, so fewer people here call for death as punishment.
Business Insider, New York Times wrote a brutal takedown of Chelsea Clinton's husband's hedge fund, Julia La Roche, March 23, 2015. The New York Times threw shade at Bill and Hillary Clinton's son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky. The article by Matt Goldstein and Steve Eder suggested that Mezvinsky, who is married to Chelsea Clinton, had been able to get access to investors with ties to the Clintons for the hedge fund he cofounded that has had "underwhelming returns." About a month ago, The Wall Street Journal published a report about the fund's underperformance since its inception. The Times' report focuses primarily on Mezvinsky and his role in fund-raising and strategizing for the fund. Back in 2011, Mezvinsky, now 37, and two former Goldman Sachs colleagues — Bennett Grau and Mark Mallon — began raising money for Eaglevale Partners LP.
Tom Engelhardt via FireDogLake, The New (Deplorable) American Order, March 22, 2015. ‘Don’t for a second think,’ writes Engelhardt, ‘that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state.’
See: "1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of 'We the People.'” Based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name. And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so. Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.” Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.
Washington Post, Walter Fauntroy’s worrisome absence comes amid legal, financial problems, Ian Shapira and Mary Pat Flaherty, March 21, 2015. The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plan the 1963 March on Washington and became the District’s first congressional delegate in a century, had just missed a huge gathering in Selma, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the brutal confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that helped spur passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And where was the retired pastor? His friends have been told that he has been in Dubai, although they don’t know exactly where or what he’s been doing or precisely how long he has been gone. Earlier this month, Fauntroy and his wife of 57 years, Dorothy, filed for bankruptcy protection, and in court documents in that case, a judge quoted Walter Fauntroy as saying that he “is temporarily out of the country and suffered a medical emergency,” without offering any details. The urgent problem: The Fauntroy home in Crestwood — where Dorothy Fauntroy, now in her early 80s, still lives and where, friends say, King sat as he and Walter Fauntroy planned the March on Washington — is in danger of foreclosure.
Guardian, The death of the American newsroom – in pictures, Will Steacy, March 21, 2015. Photographer Will Steacy spent five years documenting the decline of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here we show work from the resulting series Deadline, and images from his archive series Ink In My Blood, which charts his father Tom and grandfather John’s careers in newspapers. See more at willsteacy.com.
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland last year greeted Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, whom she helped install in a coup in February 2014 via covert plotting with, among others, U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, center. U.S. Secretary of State of John Kerry is in the background at right. After the coup Poroshenko received ratification during an election in which large proportions of dissident Russian-speaking Ukrainian residents were not able to vote.
Consortium News, A Family Business of Perpetual War, Robert Parry, March 20, 2015. Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan, shown in a file photo, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.
FireDogLake, Elite Guard Unit in Illinois Prisons Allegedly Beat & Sexually Abused Numerous Inmates During Shakedowns, Kevin Gosztola, March 20, 2015. A class action lawsuit filed against officers of an elite guard unit in Illinois prisons accuses the officers of beating and sexually abusing and humiliating hundreds of inmates. The officers, as well as the wardens of multiple facilities and leadership of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), are accused of engaging in a conspiracy in violation of federal law and inmates’ constitutional rights. Demetrius Ross, an inmate at the Illinois River Correctional Center, claims in late April 2014 a guard unit known as “Orange Crush” conducted a shakedown of the cells. The officers forced inmates to strip in front of female guards. Prisoners were allegedly ordered to march from their cells to a gym in the facility “with their heads on the backs of the prisoners ahead of them in line so that one man’s genitals were in direct contact with the next man’s buttocks.” The “Orange Crush” called this “Nuts to Butts.” Officers shouted about how this was punishment for sins.
The President and then-former Secretary of State relax on July 29, 2013 on the White House patio: White House photo.
Reuters, Exclusive: Despite Hillary Clinton promise, charity did not disclose donors, Jonathan Allen, March 19, 2015. In 2008, Hillary Clinton promised Barack Obama, the president-elect, there would be no mystery about who was giving money to her family's globe-circling charities. She made a pledge to publish all the donors on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence. At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.
Center for Public Integrity, Meet the top politicians, mega-donors who mingled at secretive conference; Eleven potential GOP presidential candidates among the dozens attending, Dave Levinthal Michael Beckel, March 19, 2015.
Eleven potential Republican presidential candidates, several media titans and a gaggle of top political donors ranked among attendees this month of a secretive politics and policy conference, according to an attendee roster obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Likely White House hopefuls listed as participants include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Amb. John Bolton. Their names, along with about 300 others, appear within disclosure documents filed today by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii — who, along with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, was one of the handful of Democrats who participated in the annual conference sponsored by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Alternet, Danny Schechter, the News Dissector, Dies in NYC at 72, Don Hazen, March 19, 2015. Danny Schechter, one of America’s best known, most talented, and effective progressive leaders renowned for his activism, and ground-breaking media making, died March 19 in New York City of pancreatic cancer. Known as the “News Dissector” from his days at Boston radio station WBCN, Schechter (shown in a file photo) was truly a renaissance progressive -- with a long list of achievements and creative endeavors. He is best known for his passionate relationship with Nelson Mandela, fighting apartheid in South Africa, and the brilliant TV series South Africa Now produced by Globalvision, the New York City-based television and film production company he created with his longtime business partner Rory O’Connor. Schechter was also a producer for ABC’s news magazine 20/20, where he won two Emmys and was part of the start-up team that created CNN. As O’Connor explains: "Danny always used to say that he got into making media because he wanted to do something about the problems of the world. "It was until later," he would then add,"that I learned the media was one of the problems of the world."
McClatchy, Former Ct. Gov. Rowland sentenced to 30 months in prison, David Lightman, March 18, 2015. Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in jail in connection with a campaign payment scheme. If he ends up serving a prison term, it’ll be Rowland’s second go-round in jail. Ten years ago, after resigning his office in 2004, Rowland went to jail after pleading guilty to a corruption charge. This time, prosecutors said Rowland got $35,000 for work on the 2012 campaign of a Republican congressional candidate, and then conspired to hide the money via a consulting contract with the candidate’s husband’s firm. Rowland maintains he is innocent and is expected to appeal.
Washington Post, Jeb Bush’s tie to fugitive goes against business-savvy image he promotes, Tom Hamburger and Robert O'Harrow Jr., March 18, 2015. Jeb Bush was a young man building a real-estate business in Miami in 1985 when a health-care entrepreneur named Miguel Recarey Jr. hired him to help locate office space in South Florida. Bush, then the son of the vice president, later provided another service: opening doors in Washington, where Recarey had mounted an aggressive lobbying effort for a waiver from Medicare rules that would allow his fast-growing company to continue to expand. Recarey got what he wanted. But two years later, the firm, International Medical Centers, was shut down as regulators searched for millions in missing federal funds. Facing charges of bribery and bilking Medicare, Recarey fled the country to avoid prosecution. He remains a fugitive in Spain, where a court denied U.S. requests for extradition. The Recarey case illustrates aspects of Bush’s business record that are likely to resurface as he moves closer to a campaign for president. Time and again, he benefited from his family name and connections to land a consulting deal or board membership, sometimes doing business with people and companies who would later run afoul of the law. New interviews and a review of congressional testimony show that Bush engaged in multiple calls on Recarey’s behalf to senior administration officials — and that his advocacy made a difference.
Los Angeles Times, Federal judge faces possible impeachment, Timothy Phelps, March 15, 2015. Federal District Judge Mark E. Fuller was controversial even before he was arrested on allegations of beating his wife last year. The Alabama judge was criticized for sitting on cases brought by the government even as his aviation company was getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded business. Appointed by a Republican, he was denounced for putting a former Democratic governor in manacles after a corruption conviction. He was the talk of the courthouse for having an extramarital affair with his courtroom assistant, and for his messy public divorce. Fuller, 56, is now battling bipartisan calls to resign over a fight he had seven months ago with the same former courtroom assistant, whom he'd married.
Huffington Post, It's Sad That the Best the Media Can Do to Fight Government Corruption Is Scalp Aaron Schock, Jason Linkins, March 18, 2015. So what, in the end, did Aaron Schock do wrong? Simply put, he failed to be corrupt in a way that could supersede the media's default position, in which "good government" types are taken less seriously than the veteran government hacks and crooks who succeed within a broken system, forever spinning through well-greased revolving doors, selling out and falling upward. Schock [shown in an official photo] got laid low because, ultimately, he lacked ambition -- he was scrabbling after nickel-and-dime benefits instead of setting his sights on a bigger payout. He was, compared to those who've mastered the art of institutional corruption, a joke. But — ha, ha! — really, the joke's on you.
Reuters, Ukraine peace plan creaks amid fresh Russian-Ukrainian dispute, Richard Balmforth, March 18, 2015. A peace plan to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine came under renewed strain on Wednesday, with Ukraine and Russia clashing publicly over the next steps and further Ukrainian military casualties from rebel attacks testing a fragile ceasefire.
BBC, Ukraine crisis: British trainers assist Ukrainian military, Staff report, March 18, 2015. British military personnel have begun training members of the Ukrainian army fighting pro-Russian rebels. The 35 trainers are working in the southern city of Mykolaiv and will spend about two months in the country. It is the first time a Western nation has conducted a long-term military training program in Ukraine since its war against pro-Russian rebels began last year.
Antiwar.blog, Google Disables All Ads on Antiwar.com, Eric Garris, March 18, 2015. On 3/18/15, we received a note from Google Adsense informing us that all ads for our site had been disabled. Why? Because of this page showing the horrific abuses committed by U.S. troops in Iraq at Abu Ghraib. This page has been up for 11 years. During all that time Google Adsense has been running ads on our site – but as Washington gets ready to re-invade Iraq, and in bombing, killing, and abusing more civilians, they suddenly decide that their "anti-violence" policy, which prohibits "disturbing material," prohibits any depiction of violence committed by the U.S. government and paid for with your tax dollars. This page is the third-most-visited page in our history, getting over 2 million page views since it was posted. To say this is an utter outrage would be an understatement: it is quite simply the kind of situation one might expect to encounter in an authoritarian country where state-owned or state-connected companies routinely censor material that displeases the government. Is Google now an arm of the U.S. State Department? Editor's note: This comes during "Sunshine Week" (#SunshineWeek on Twitter), which journalism organizations heavily promote to advance free speech values.
Washington Post, Pentagon loses track of $500 million in weapons, equipment given to Yemen, Craig Whitlock, March 17, 2015. The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials. The situation has grown worse since the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, last month and withdrew many of its military advisers.
President Obama during his first term meets Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu as U.S. peace negotiator George Mitchell, at president's immediate left, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel look on (White House photo).
New York Times, An Israeli Election Turns Ugly, Editorial Board, March 17, 2015. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outright rejection of a Palestinian state and his racist rant against Israeli Arab voters on Tuesday showed that he has forfeited any claim to representing all Israelis. Mr. Netanyahu showed that he was desperate, and craven, enough to pull out all the stops. On Monday, he promised that if his Likud faction remained in power, he would never allow the creation of a Palestinian state, thus repudiating a position he had taken in 2009. his statement this week laid bare his duplicity, confirmed Palestinian suspicions and will make it even harder for him to repair his poisoned relations with President Obama, who has invested heavily in pushing a two-state solution.
New York Magazine, Netanyahu Clarifies His Chilling Vision for Post-Democratic Israel, Jonathan Chait, March 17, 2015. Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild swerve, from right-wing to ultra-right-wing, in the run-up to Israel’s elections is a desperate tactic to reverse the trajectory of his flailing campaign. His new line dispenses with the coyness. Netanyahu now opposes yielding territory, full stop. If Netanyahu prevails, the nature of Israel's diplomatic alliance with the United States will have to change — the U.S. cannot continue to extend its U.N. veto to a country whose government has formally disavowed negotiations. This course will eventually lead to pressure for Palestinians to gain a democratic voice within the institutions that control their lives, but Netanyahu treats that as illegitimate, as well. He proposes to snuff out every peaceful outlet for Arab political aspirations.
Consortium News, Netanyahu Unmasks Israel, Robert Parry, March 18, 2015. Desperate to win reelection, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stripped off Israel's mask and exposed the ugliness that has deformed his country over the past several decades. He abandoned the subterfuge of a two-state solution, exposed the crass racism that underlies Israeli politics, and revealed Israel's blatant control of the U.S. Congress. For years, these realities were known to many Americans, but — if they spoke up — they were condemned as anti-Semites, so most stayed silent to protect their careers and reputations. But — given Netanyahu's brazen admissions — the American people may have little choice but to finally take notice of this troubling reality and demand a change in U.S. policy.
OpEdNews, Truth Is Our Country, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in photo), March 16, 2015. Last week in Mexico at the annual awards conference of the Club De Periodistas De Mexico, I was given the International Award For Excellence In Journalism. In my speech I emphasized that Truth is the country of real journalists. Unlike presstitutes, the loyalty of real journalists is to Truth, not to a government or corporate advertiser. Once a journalist sacrifices Truth to loyalty to a government, he ceases to be a journalist and becomes a propagandist.
Thank you for this recognition, for this honor. As Jesus told the people of Nazareth, a prophet is without honor in his own country. In the United States, this is also true of journalists. In the United States journalists receive awards for lying for the government and for the corporations. Anyone who tells the truth, whether journalist or whistleblower, is fired or prosecuted or has to hide out in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, like Julian Assange, or in Moscow, like Edward Snowden, or is tortured and imprisoned, like Bradley Manning. Mexican journalists pay an even higher price. Those who report on government corruption and on the drug cartels pay with their lives. The Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has as an entry a list by name of journalists murdered in Mexico. This is the List of Honor. Wikipedia reports that more than 100 Mexican journalists have been killed or disappeared in the 21st century. Despite intimidation the Mexican press has not abandoned its job. Because of your courage, I regard this award bestowed on me as the greatest of honors.
In the United States real journalists are scarce and are becoming more scarce. Journalists have morphed into a new creature. Gerald Celente calls US journalists "presstitutes," a word formed from press prostitute. In other words, journalists in the United States are whores for the government and for the corporations.
The Intercept / First Look, The Sting: How the FBI Created a Terrorist, Trevor Aaronson, March 16, 2015. In the video, Sami Osmakac is tall and gaunt, with jutting cheekbones and a scraggly beard. Osmakac says he’ll avenge the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. He refers to Americans as kuffar, an Arabic term for nonbelievers. Osmakac was 25 years old on January 7, 2012, when he filmed what the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice would later call a “martyrdom video.” He was also broke and struggling with mental illness. After recording this video in a rundown Days Inn in Tampa, Florida, Osmakac prepared to deliver what he thought was a car bomb to a popular Irish bar. But if Osmakac was a terrorist, he was only one in his troubled mind and in the minds of ambitious federal agents. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial. He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has arrested dozens of young men like Osmakac in controversial counterterrorism stings.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (right) talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, with John Brennan and other national security aides present (White House photo).
Consortium News via OpEdNews, Guiding Obama into Global Make-Believe, Ray McGovern, March 14, 2015. Ray McGovern is a former CIA analyst. CIA Director John Brennan told TV host Charlie Rose on Friday that, on assuming office, President Barack Obama "did not have a good deal of experience" in intelligence-related matters, adding -- with remarkable condescension -- that now "he has gone to school and understands the complexities." If that's the case, I would strongly suggest that Obama switch schools. Judging from his foreign policy team's inept and increasingly dangerous actions regarding Ukraine and the endless stream of dubious State Department and senior military cry-wolf accusations of a Russian "invasion," Obama might be forgiven for being confused by the "complexities." He should not be forgiven, though, if he remains too timid to bench his current foreign policy team and find more substantively qualified, trustworthy advisers without axes to grind. He is, after all, President. Has he no managerial skill ... no guts? This U.S. pattern of exaggeration -- making scary claims about Ukraine without releasing supporting evidence -- has even begun to erode the unity of the NATO alliance where Germany, in particular, is openly criticizing the Obama administration's heavy-handed use of propaganda in its "information warfare" against Russia. The German magazine Der Spiegel has just published a highly unusual article critical of the NATO military commander, Air Force General Philip Breedlove, entitled "Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine."
OpEdNews, CNN Is Beating the Drums of War, Paul Craig Roberts, March 14, 2015. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a conservative scholar, author and former Reagan administration assistant Treasury secretary. Wolf Blitzer (CNN, March 13) used the cover of a news program to broadcast a propaganda performance straight out of the Third Reich or perhaps from George Orwell's 1984. The orchestration presented Russia as a massive, aggressive military threat. The screen was filled with missiles firing and an assortment of American General Strangeloves urging provocative measures to be deployed against the Russian Threat. Blitzer's program is part of the orchestrated propaganda campaign whose purpose is to prepare Americans for conflict with Russia. It was such irresponsible propaganda and so many blatant lies for a media organization to sponsor that it was obvious that CNN and Wolf Blitzer had no fear of being called on the carpet for spreading war fever. The so-called "mainstream media" has been transformed into a Ministry of Propaganda. Similar propaganda is being spread in the UK where defense minister Michael Fallon declared Russia to be a "real and present danger" to Europe. US troops and tanks are being rushed to the Baltics on the pretext that Russia is going to attack.
JFKcountercoup, Phillip Shenon's "A Cruel and Shocking Twist," Bill Kelly, March 14, 2015 (Review of Phillip Shenon's book A Cruel and Shocking Act -- 2013 Macmillan -- Audio version by Robert Petkoff). As a serious and respected journalist Phillip Shenon deserves a listen when he says the whole truth about the assassination of President Kennedy has yet to be told, that much of the evidence and many of the official records have been destroyed, and there are still some unquestioned witnesses who have been ignored or intimidated into silence. Among the destroyed, some incinerated, some flushed down toilets, others simply gone missing, include original autopsy notes and photos, Oswald's note to the FBI, backyard pictures, JFK's brain, Jackie's pink pill box hat -- all gone. This is not to mention the Air Force One radio tapes, the Secret Service radio tapes, Mary's box of evidence lost by the Dallas PD, the ONI investigative reports on Oswald, the USMC investigative report that concluded Oswald not capable of committing the assassination alone, and private interviews with Oswald's USMC buddies -- and there's more that Shenon doesn't bother to mention. So we are left with what Shenon calls a "Duel Curse," too little direct evidence has survived, yet thanks to the JFK Act too much has been released -- millions of pages of government documents, too much for any one person to read it all, yet Shenon doesn't mention that there are still so many records being withheld for reasons of national security that the National Archives can't even tell us how many. Shenon tells us that no one person can read it all, but he himself reads the Prologue to the audio version of his book in which he tells us how he came to this story -- while sitting at a desk of the New York Times Washington DC office when he got a phone call from a former Warren Commission attorney who wanted the truth to be told -- "the best detective story you have never heard."
Julian Assange (2014 screen shot)
Sydney Morning Herald, Sweden offers to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, March 13, 2015. Julian Assange's legal team has welcomed an announcement by Swedish prosecutors that they're willing to interview the WikiLeaks founder in Ecuador's embassy in London where he's been holed up for almost three years. Prosecutors on Friday asked Assange's legal team whether the Australian would consent to being interviewed in London and have his DNA taken via a swab. The move offers a possible breakthrough in the five-year case related to accusations of alleged sex crimes. Assange's stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London is said to cost upwards of $13,000 a day. Assange's Swedish defense lawyer, Per Samuelsson, confirmed Assange would consent to the questioning. "In principle, we see this as a victory," he said. "We have been asking for this to take place for more than 4 years. But we are irritated it came so late."
Ruthless Ambition, Chris Christie Scandals Blog: Christie puts a tiger in his tank, Louis Manzo (shown in photo), March 13, 2015. The latest Chris Christie caper centers on the Christie Administration’s just announced settlement agreement with ExxonMobil, amounting to $225M, for an environmental damages lawsuit initiated under the administration of former NJ Governor James McGreevey. The lawsuit went after the corporate giant for pollution damages resulting from their refinery operations in Union County and elsewhere in New Jersey. Anyone who has traveled the New Jersey Turnpike in the vicinity of Exit 13 and whiffed the putrid rotten egg smell there will catch the drift of the lawsuit right away. The original lawsuit brought by the State sought $8.9 billion for damages and another $2.6 billion in remediation costs. After years of legal battling, the State’s legal team won significant court victories establishing ExxonMobil’s guilt. The company was on the ropes. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the Christie Administration. Enter the Governor’s Chief Counsel, Christopher Porrino, who inserted himself in the process and meddled with the successful legal team. Porrino snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Under Porrino’s direction, Team Christie negotiated the $12.8 billion settlement agreement down to a paltry $225 million — about a three cents on the dollar sellout from the position of the legal team before Porrino’s interference. This has environmentalists, legislators, and the media scratching their heads. ExxonMobil is, meanwhile, scratching their palms, and the corporation can hardly wait for the courts to bless the Christie Administration’s surrender.
What certainly must be historic is ExxonMobil’s $751k in political donations that it bestowed on the Republican Governor’s Association, before the settlement and when Governor Christie was the Associations’ Chairman. Plenty of cash to fuel campaigns. These circumstances mimic an all too familiar historic pattern of corporations, companies, and individuals who donate money to Christie causes or take actions in concert with Christie’s needs, finding that they eventually become the financial beneficiary of lucrative government contract awards, government appointments, or in this case, a government legal settlement.
Legal Schnauzer, Al.com's Kyle Whitmire proves his ignorance about the law surrounding the Don Siegelman prosecution, Roger Shuler, March 13, 2015. Al.com's Kyle Whitmire, in the midst of a column yesterday [for Alabama's argest newspaper consortium] urging President Obama to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, declared that the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was "fair." The premise was that Snowden has been wronged and is deserving of a presidential pardon while Siegelman got what he deserved. We agree with Whitmire [shown in a file photo] about Snowden, but the reporter simply reveals his ignorance about the Siegelman case. He also proves that just because an individual attends a court proceeding, it does not mean he has a clue about what went on.
New York Times, ISIS Still on the Attack, Despite Internal Strife and Heavy Losses, Helene Cooper, Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, March 13, 2015. The Islamic State is facing growing dissension among its rank-and-file fighters and struggling to govern towns and villages it has seized, but the militant Sunni group is still managing to launch attacks and expand its ideological reach outside of Iraq and Syria, senior American officials said. In the seven months since allied warplanes in the American-led air campaign began bombing select Islamic State targets, the Sunni militancy, while marginally weaker, has held its own, senior defense and intelligence officials said.
Middle East Eye, The real story behind the Republicans’ Iran letter, Gareth Porter, March 13, 2015. The real story is how enforcers of Likudist policy on Iran used a young Republican politician to try to provoke a breakdown in nuclear talks. The “open letter” from Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican Senators to the leadership of Iran, which even Republicans themselves admit was aimed at encouraging Iranian opponents of the nuclear negotiations to argue that the United States cannot be counted on to keep the bargain, has created a new political firestorm. But the response to the letter has primarily distracted public attention from the real issue it raises: how the big funders of the Likud Party in Israel control Congressional actions on Iran.
Newsmax, Sen. Graham: Congress to Cut UN Money If Council Undoes Iran Sanctions, March 12, 2015. Greg Richter If the U.N. Security Council attempts to undo sanctions on Iran imposed by Congress, it can kiss its funding good-bye, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News. The Security Council is considering lifting U.N. sanctions on Iran, which would make it more difficult for Congress to thwart a deal signed by the Obama administration. But congressional Republicans, joined by some Democrats, say the deal on Iran's nuclear program is a treaty and cannot be signed by the president without Senate approval. GOP leaders vow to retain current U.S. sanctions if they are not allowed to vote on the deal. Graham was among a group of 47 Republican senators who signed an open letter to Iran last week, saying that no deal would be enforceable without Senate approval. See also below: Lindsey Graham: As president I would deploy the military against Congress.
Vox, Lindsey Graham: As president I would deploy the military against Congress, Staff report, March 12, 2015. Republican senator and presidential maybe-hopeful Lindsey Graham, shown in an official photo, stopped by the "politics and pies" forum in Concord, New Hampshire, where he announced that if he is elected president in 2016, his first act will be to deploy the military in Washington to force Congress to reverse cuts to the defense and intelligence budgets. Yes, you heard that right. Here are Graham's exact words: "And here's the first thing I would do if I were president of the United States. I wouldn't let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We're not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts." Graham would use the military to force members of Congress to not just vote on the bill — but to pass it. Maybe Graham was just joking (he sounded serious) or just speaking figuratively to make a point about his determination to restore cut military funding (okay, but weird way to do it).
First Look / Intercept, The “Snowden is Ready to Come Home!” Story: a Case Study in Typical Media Deceit, Glenn Greenwald, March 12, 2015. Most sentient people rationally accept that the U.S. media routinely disseminates misleading stories and outright falsehoods in the most authoritative tones. But it’s nonetheless valuable to examine particularly egregious case studies to see how that works. In that spirit, let’s take yesterday’s numerous, breathless reports trumpeting the “BREAKING” news that “Edward Snowden now wants to come home!” and is “now negotiating the terms of his return!”
Ever since Snowden revealed himself to the public 20 months ago, he has repeatedly said the same exact thing when asked about his returning to the U.S.: I would love to come home, and would do so if I could get a fair trial, but right now, I can’t. His primary rationale for this argument has long been that under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute under which he has been charged, he would be barred by U.S. courts from even raising his key defense: that the information he revealed to journalists should never have been concealed in the first place and he was thus justified in disclosing it to journalists. In other words, when U.S. political and media figures say Snowden should “man up,” come home and argue to a court that he did nothing wrong, they are deceiving the public, since they have made certain that whistleblowers charged with “espionage” are legally barred from even raising that defense. Yesterday, in Moscow, Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena held a press conference to promote his new book, was asked about Snowden’s case, and said exactly what has been known for almost two years: “He has a desire to go back, and we are doing everything possible to make that happen.” Kucherena added that lawyers in various countries have been working on Snowden’s behalf to negotiate terms for a fair trial.
Various media outlets then took these redundant, anodyne comments and distorted them into some brand new BREAKING!! event — as though Snowden suddenly decided for the first time he wants to Come Home — and then proceeded to extract from this fake narrative a series of utterly misleading, false and propagandistic claims about Snowden, Russia and the NSA.
Boiling Frogs Post, Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Insider View of First Look: the Billionaire Omidyar’s Intercept, Peter B Collins, March 12, 2015. Radio interview: Peter B. Collins Presents journalist Ken Silverstein. After 14 months at billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s media startup, First Look, Ken Silverstein bailed out, pulling the ripcord at the end of February. Admittedly disgruntled and angry, Silverstein offers a stark, insider’s perspective, describing Omidyar as a “pathetic clown” who did not interfere in the journalism because “he’s not smart enough.” Promised the resources and freedom to practice “fearless journalism,” Silverstein reveals micro-managing over bar receipts by the billionaire and massive dysfunction that prevented his stories from being published. Taking swipes at former colleagues Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, Silverstein also slams Pando for its reporting on his departure, and gets pretty testy when asked if he should’ve researched Omidyar before he went to work for him.
Komsomolskaya Pravda via Fort Russ, Nemtsov's killer was hired by the commander of Dzhokhar Dudaev Battalion in Ukraine, Adam Osmaevm, Anna Veligzhanina, translated by Kristina Rus, March 12, 2015. FSB source to "Komsomolskaya Pravda": "the customer of Nemtsov's murder was preparing an assassination of Vladimir Putin." The main suspect in the organization of the high-profile crime - is a commander of the Ukrainian battalion in the name of Dzhokhar Dudayev, Adam Osmayev. The correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda met with the FSB agent, who is part of the team investigating the murder of Boris Nemtsov. In an exclusive interview, he spoke about the new details of the crime and named the most likely customer [sic] of the murder.
Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in 2014 in speech at mosque, distributed by AP from screen shot
Reuters via Huffington Post, ISIS Leader Accepts Allegiance Of Nigeria's Boko Haram, Staff report, March 12, 2015. The leader of the Islamic State militant group that controls tracts of Syria and Iraq has accepted a pledge of allegiance from Nigerian Islamists Boko Haram, his spokesman said, calling on supporters to fight in Africa. Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds during a six-year campaign to carve out an Islamist state in northern Nigeria, pledged its allegiance last week, highlighting increased coordination between jihadi movements across north Africa and the Middle East. "Our caliph, God save him, has accepted the pledge of loyalty of our brothers of Boko Haram so we congratulate Muslims and our jihadi brothers in West Africa," Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio message, referring to his group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Islamic State, an ultra-hardline offshoot of al Qaeda, has declared a caliphate in captured territory in Iraq and Syria and has gained global notoriety for killing or kidnapping members of ethnic and religious minorities and posting videos of its members killing Arab and Western hostages.
Globe and Mail, Canadian reportedly detained over U.K. girls' Syrian trip, Steven Chase, March 12, 2015. Turkey has detained a foreign intelligence operative suspected of helping three British schoolgirls travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants and Canada is distancing itself from speculation that it may be involved. Turkish media are reporting the individual is a member of Canada’s intelligence agency. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said the suspect helped the teenagers even though he or she worked for the intelligence agency of a country that is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS.
Chicago Tribune, Chicago-area activist given 18 months in prison for lying about terrorism role, Wire services, March 12, 2015. A Chicago-area activist was sentenced to 18 months in prison Thursday for failing to disclose her convictions for bombings in Israel when she applied to be a U.S. citizen. Backed by dozens of supporters, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 67, of Evergreen Park, will remain free while she appeals. She was sentenced in Detroit's federal court. Judge Gershwin Drain noted that Odeh was a "terrorist" decades ago but has changed her ways. Nonetheless, he said she lied. Odeh faces mandatory deportation once she is done serving her time.
Rasmea Odeh listens to her lead attorney Michael Deutsch following her sentencing, outside the US Courthouse in Detroit (Photo by Ali Abunimah).
Electronic Intifada, Judge sentences Rasmea Odeh, insisting case is not “political,” Ali Abunimah, March 12, 2015. Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh was today sentenced to eighteen months in prison and a fine of one thousand dollars for lying on an immigation and citizenship application. US District Judge Gershwin Drain pronounced the sentence after an intense, two-hour hearing during which Odeh told the court “I am not a terrorist, I am not a bad woman.” Her US citizenship has also been revoked and she faces deportation to Jordan. The 67-year-old remains free on bond and can stay in the United States pending her appeal, which is likely to take at least six months. Following the hearing, Odeh’s lead attorney Michael Deutsch told supporters the prison sentence was “unjust” and “unnecessary” and confirmed that the conviction and sentence would be appealed.
Boiling Frogs Post, PTSD, Community, and Character: Notes on the Trial of Rasmea Odeh, Mark Mondalek, March 12, 2015. The Trial: Nothing about 'United States v. Odeh' Seems to Add Up. With a brief pause and puff of his cheeks this past November, Judge Gershwin Drain, shown in photo, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan—just hours after unconventionally lauding the jury for finding Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh guilty of unlawfully procuring her U.S. citizenship––sided once more with the government’s lead prosecuting attorney, Jonathan Tukel, in moving to revoke Odeh’s bond and have the 67-year-old immediately detained. Odeh originally immigrated to Michigan via Jordan in 1994 to join her brother and help care for their father who was suffering from cancer, but by 2004––the same year that she acquired her U.S. citizenship––she had begun her work with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), a Chicago nonprofit dedicated to strengthening Chicagoland’s Arab American community through education and cultural outreach. Odeh’s strong commitment to her vocation is a direct testament to her character, and thereby strongly influenced by her personal life experiences and history. On Feb. 28, 1969, Israeli soldiers and secret security police forcibly entered Odeh’s family home in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and violently arrested her without a warrant or explanation, along with her father and two sisters. Odeh was accused of being involved in two separate bombings allegedly credited to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP): one involving a supermarket explosion in East Jerusalem and another at the British Consulate in Tel Aviv, the former killing two university students. She maintains that she was brutally tortured for 25 days while in custody. Odeh was beaten nonstop with fists and clubs, repeatedly raped, and subjected to further traumas in the form of threats, humiliation, deprivation, and electrical torture. Three months passed before she saw a Red Cross representative, during which time she was finally coerced into signing a false confession prepared for her in Hebrew (a language that she could not read or understand), taken before an Israeli military court, and given a life sentence. She was 21 years old.
Consortium News, Nuland's Mastery of Ukraine Propaganda, Robert Parry, March 11, 2015. An early skill learned by Official Washington's neoconservatives, when they were cutting their teeth inside the U.S. government in the 1980s, was how to frame their arguments in the most propagandistic way, so anyone who dared to disagree with any aspect of the presentation seemed unpatriotic or crazy. One of those quick learners was Robert Kagan, who was then a protege of Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Kagan got his first big chance when he became director of the State Department's public diplomacy office for Latin America. At one point, Kagan warned me that I might have to be "controversialized," i.e. targeted for public attack by Reagan's right-wing media allies and anti-journalism attack groups, like Accuracy in Media, a process that did indeed occur. Kagan is perhaps best known these days as the husband of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, one of Vice President Dick Cheney's former advisers and a key architect of last year's coup in Ukraine, a "regime change" that toppled an elected president and touched off a civil war, which now has become a proxy fight involving nuclear-armed United States and Russia. In an interview last year with the New York Times, Nuland indicated that she shared her husband's criticism of President Obama for his hesitancy to use American power more assertively. But Nuland, shown in a photo, also seems to have mastered her husband's skill with propaganda, presenting an extreme version of the situation in Ukraine, such that no one would dare quibble with the details. In prepared testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Nuland even slipped in an accusation blaming Russia for the July 17 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 though the U.S. government has not presented any proof.
Reuters, Suspects in Nemtsov killing probably tortured: Russian rights activist, Gabriela Baczynska, March 11, 2015. Three suspects in the killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have probably been tortured while in detention, a member of the Kremlin's advisory council on human rights said on Wednesday. After visiting three of the five ethnic Chechen suspects at Moscow's Lefortovo prison, rights activist Andrey Babushkin said the men detained over the Feb. 27 murder had suffered multiple injuries. Officials say former Chechen policeman Zaur Dadayev, who is being held along with his cousins, Anzor and Shagid Gubashev, has admitted involvement in the murder. Babushkin wrote on his website that Dadayev, shown in a photo, had "multiple injuries" visible on his body, while Anzor Gubashev had abrasions around his nose, wrists and legs that were incurred after he was detained. According to Babushkin's account, Dadayev said he was "kidnapped" on March 5 while arriving to the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia from nearby Dagestan. Dadayev's friend and former colleague Rustam Yusupov was present when he was detained, Babushkin wrote, adding that Dadayev had been promised that if he admitted to murdering Nemtsov, Yusupov would be released.
Reuters, IMF aims for 'immediate' tabilization with latest Ukraine bailout deal, Howard Schneider, March 11, 2015. The International Monetary Fund has agreed to pump $10 billion into Ukraine's troubled economy over the next year, providing swift assistance for the country's struggling finances as part of a larger four-year bailout. The IMF board on Wednesday approved a loan of $17.5 billion, with the bulk of the money heading out the door fast: $5 billion likely by the end of this week and another $5 billion in coming months, IMF officials said. That will be combined with $7.5 billion in loans from other international organizations and an expected $15.4 billion in debt relief that Ukrainian officials hope to negotiate with bondholders.
Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton: 'I Thought It Would Be Easier' To Use One Email Address, Paige Lavender and Sam Stein, March 10, 2015. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) addressed the controversy over her use of a private email address while at the State Department, saying she thought it would be easier to use one email address. "I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two. Looking back, it would have been better if I'd simply used a second account and carried a second phone," Clinton said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn't worked out that way," Clinton added. Clinton also said she didn't see an issue with the private email because she was emailing State Department employees with government email addresses. She said the private server on which she was sending emails was built with security protections and would remain private despite calls for it to be turned over.
Washington Post, Leak investigation stalls amid fears of confirming U.S.-Israel operation, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Goldman, March 10, 2015. A leak investigation targeting retired Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright has stalled due to fears that a prosecution could reveal classified information about joint U.S.-Israeli efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Investigators suspect that Cartwright leaked details of the operation, which used the computer worm Stuxnet to destroy Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, to New York Times reporter David Sanger. However, prosecution could force the government to confirm details of the operation in open court, potentially putting it at odds with the Israeli government, if Israeli officials were opposed to having their role revealed. U.S. officials also fear that it could undermine negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program at a sensitive time.
NPR, Iran Calls GOP Letter 'Propaganda Ploy,' Offers To 'Enlighten' Authors, Bill Chappell, March 10, 2015. A letter from U.S. senators suggests the lawmakers "not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution," says Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Republican senators' letter to Iran about ongoing nuclear talks has prompted a lengthy response from Zarif, who delivered an overview of international law as he critiqued the letter. Zarif said he was astonished by the letter, saying it suggests the U.S. lawmakers "not only do not understand international law" — a subject in which he is a professor.
TPM, Ferguson Judge Who Imposed High Fines Resigns After Receiving Death Threats, Catherine Thompson, March 10, 2015. A Ferguson, MO judge who allegedly imposed high fines on residents resigned Monday after receiving death threats. Ronald J. Brockmeyer resigned the same day that the Missouri Supreme Court announced it had reassigned all Ferguson court cases to the circuit court. The Court said in a news release that the the move would “help restore public trust and confidence in the Ferguson municipal court division." The rare move on the part of the Missouri Supreme Court follows the release of a Department of Justice report alleging racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department, the municipal jail and court.
The Unz Review, American Pravda: When Tokyo Rose Ran for President, Ron Unz (software developer and former publisher of The American Conservative Magazine), March 9, 2015. What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam? During much of the second half of the twentieth century the name “Tokyo Rose” ranked very high in our popular consciousness, probably second only to “Benedict Arnold” as a byword for American treachery during wartime. The political rise of Sen. John McCain (shown in an official photo) leads me to suspect that in the 1970s some cruel enemy had spiked our national water supply with LSD.
Although in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I turned sharply against McCain due to his support for an extremely bellicose foreign policy, I never had any reason to question his background or his integrity, and my strong opposition to his 2008 presidential run was entirely on policy grounds: I feared his notoriously hot temper might easily get us into additional disastrous wars. Everything suddenly changed in June 2008 when I read a long article by an unfamiliar writer on the leftist Counterpunch website. Shocking claims were made that McCain may never have been tortured and that he instead spent his wartime captivity collaborating with his captors and broadcasting Communist propaganda, a possibility that seemed almost incomprehensible to me given all the thousands of contrary articles that I had absorbed over the decades from the mainstream media. [See CounterPunch, “From Glory Boy to PW Songbird: McNasty,” Douglas Valentine, June 13, 2008.]
The realization that many of our political leaders may be harboring such terrible personal secrets, secrets that our media outlets regularly conceal, raises an important policy implication independent of the particular secrets themselves. In recent years I have increasingly begun to suspect that some or even many of our national leaders may occasionally make their seemingly inexplicable policy decisions under the looming threat of personal blackmail, and that this may have also been true in the past.
Photo from "Photography Is Not A Crime" website
Legal Schnauzer, Are law-enforcement officers trained to cover up abuse by slapping bogus resisting-arrest charges on citizens? Roger Shuler, March 9, 2015. Do law-enforcement officers intentionally concoct bogus resisting-arrest cases against citizens? Are officers trained to make false statements during confrontations in hopes it might turn attention away from possible excessive force/police brutality? Are judges, prosecutors, and other members of the "justice infrastructure" inclined to side with officers--even when evidence indicates they were in the wrong? Based on my own experience of being charged with resisting arrest in Shelby County, Alabama, I would say the answer to all three questions is yes. Someone else must think so, too, because we found the above photo/graphic on the Web. It shows a training officer telling a group of police-academy trainees, "Remember class: Always say, 'Quit resisting,' and 'I feared for my life.'" These issues particularly resonate now because of two important lessons from recent days:
(1) The case against Alabama officer Eric Parker, in the beating of Indian grandfather Sureshbhai Patel, has wrongly been classified as a misdemeanor (third-degree assault). Under Alabama law, it must be classified as a felony (second- or first-degree assault). This suggests that someone in the aforementioned "justice infrastructure" is trying to let Officer Parker off easy.
(2) No citizen can be charged with resisting an arrest that was unlawful in the first place. Alabama law says that citizens have no duty to submit to anything other than a lawful arrest--and, in fact, we have the right to use reasonable force to resist an unlawful arrest.
Huffington Post, Journalist Says He Can Prove Bill O'Reilly Wasn't Present At JFK-Related Suicide, Catherine Taibi, March 9, 2015. Investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein says he can prove that Bill O'Reilly was not present at the 1977 suicide of a JFK-related figure that the host said he witnessed. He can prove it, because he was there. In a searing takedown published in Newsweek on Monday, Epstein said it was "impossible" for the Fox News host to be there. He wrote: "I was the actual -- and only -- reporter interviewing de Mohrenschildt on the last day of his life." O'Reilly has claimed on numerous occasions that he was present for the death of George de Mohrenschildt, a friend of alleged John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald who took his own life on March 29, 1977. During an appearance on "Fox & Friends" to promote his 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, O'Reilly said that he was just about to knock on the door of Mohrenschildt's daughter's house when he heard the gunshot go off. His former colleague, however, told Media Matters in February that O'Reilly was in Dallas at the time, nowhere near the site of the suicide. The allegations against the host came as several of his war reporting experiences are under scrutiny, as some say O'Reilly embellished events or claimed to be places he may not have been. A series of tape recordings released by CNN last week purportedly showed that O'Reilly was in fact in Dallas at the time the gunshot went off, and was only told about suicide over the phone while working as a reporter for a local station.
National Press Club, Sanders on Fence for 2016 Presidential Bid, Justin Duckham, March 9, 2015. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told a luncheon audience at the National Press Club on Monday that he has not yet decided whether to run for President in 2016, explaining that his potential candidacy hinges on a number of logistical concerns, particularly his ability to fundraise. “It ain’t an easy task,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to do this thing unless I can do it well.” Sanders noted that if he was able to raise $100 each from 3 million people -- a significant increase from the $45 he receives from his average donor as a Senate candidate -- he would still only have $300 million, significantly less than the money that is expected to be supplied to the Republican candidate from the conservative billionaire duo Charles and David Koch. Sanders also said that he was not sure if he would run on the Democratic ticket or as an independent, pointing out that running without party support could raise additional challenges, such as not being able to secure a spot on the debate stage.
Reuters via Huffington Post, Islamist Motive For Killing Slain Russian Opposition Leader Nemtsov Is Nonsense, Allies Say, Christian Lowe and Vladimir Soldatkin, March 9, 2015. Suggestions that Russian politician Boris Nemtsov was killed by Chechen Islamists are nonsense designed to deflect suspicion from President Vladimir Putin, associates of the slain opposition figure said on Monday. Investigators have charged two men, including a former Chechen police official, over the shooting of Nemtsov within sight of the Kremlin walls on Feb. 27. Three more men have been arrested, and another blew himself up late on Saturday as police in Chechnya tried to detain him.
New York Times, Suspect in Russian Politician’s Killing Blows Himself Up, Report Says, Neil MacFarquhar, March 8, 2015. A suspect in the murder of the opposition politician Boris Y. Nemtsov blew himself up as the police closed in on him overnight, Russian news reports said on Sunday, while new disclosures indicated that one of the men already detained in the killing had served as a police officer in the fight against Islamic insurgents. Five suspects were due to be arraigned at Basmanny District Court in Moscow, Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement. The two prime suspects, whose names have been officially confirmed, are Zaur Dadayev and Anzar Kubashev, whose arrest was announced on Saturday. The arrests and the police activity were centered in the Northern Caucasus, long a trouble spot for Russia. Nemtsov was killed while walking across a bridge over the Moscow River with his girlfriend, who was not injured. He was shot in the back four times by a gunman who then escaped in a car driven by an accomplice. All the men detained so far were Chechens, the reports said.
Washington Post, Justice speaks, Editorial board, March 8, 2015. The Justice Department said two things about Ferguson, Mo., last week, both of which should make Americans uncomfortable. First, federal officials announced that they did not have evidence showing that police officer Darren Wilson used unreasonable force when he shot African American teenager Michael Brown. Second, the department found that there is a lot of rotten policing with racist overtones in Ferguson. The Justice Department found that they live under an official system consciously designed to suck money out of vulnerable people. The system combines high fines for all sorts of violations — such as $77 to $102 for having weeds or tall grass — and enforcement that too often is well beyond reason. When Ferguson police go in search of revenue, the evidence the Justice Department found suggests that they target minority communities.
Associated Press via Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton's Private Email Use Not Sole Case Among 2016 Hopefuls, Bill Barrow, March 7, 2015. Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to catch heat for her extensive use of a private email account to conduct official business while she was secretary of state. But the Democrats' 2016 presidential favorite isn't the only White House hopeful whose transparency has come into question. Several current and former governors who are considering a presidential run have found ways to delay or prevent public scrutiny of their communications while in office. That includes Republicans who have criticized their potential Democratic rival. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both Republicans, criticized Clinton, even though they each used private emails when they held the post as their state's top executive. A "patchwork" of federal and state public information laws was written "for the era of paper records" that now "aren't serving us well" in the digital age, said Charles Davis, journalism and communications dean at the University of Georgia.
Michigan Chronicle via OpEd News, Will Lynch Carry on Holder's Legacy? Robert Weiner and Hannah Coombs, March 8, 2015. As Attorney General Designee Loretta Lynch prepares to move from final Senate approval to serving as the Nation's Attorney General, the question is whether Congress will allow her, the country's first African American woman Attorney General, to continue Holder's enormous legacy. The hearings were more, "You're not Holder are you?" than what she will do herself. Even after Lynch took the first step with a Senate Judiciary Committee vote by 12-8, Congress is still playing politics over a spotless nominee -- no one had any objections but Republicans still voted no -- and prolonged her assumption of the post. At a farewell speech at the National Press Club on February 17, Holder told the audience, "Real and daunting challenges lay before us". Aside from reporting his success with the Justice Department and the "Smart on Crime Initiative" to reduce unnecessary incarcerations, Holder discussed what still needs to be done.
New York Magazine, (Actually) True War Stories at NBC News, Gabriel Sherman, March 8, 2015. The trouble didn’t start with Brian Williams. On a snowy evening in December, Brian Williams and his wife, Jane, met with a small group of NBC executives for a celebratory dinner in a private room at Del Posto, Mario Batali’s restaurant in Chelsea. Williams had just notche d his tenth anniversary anchoring the top-rated Nightly News, and NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke wanted to commemorate the past—and lock in the network’s future. Less than two months later, of course, NBC News would be in chaos—its anchor publicly embarrassed for a virtual back catalogue of Hemingwayesque yarns, and its executives struggling in vain to figure out how to control the damage. But while the Williams fiasco might seem to be the cause of NBC News’ struggles, viewed through a wider lens it looks more like the symptom of a much bigger problem. Over the past year, all of the NBC News marquee franchises—Today, Meet the Press, Nightly News—have been badly damaged by bungled talent decisions and control-room shake-ups.
Guardian, Israeli mass rally calls for replacement of Binyamin Netanyahu, Mairav Zonszein, March 8, 2015. Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening to call for the prime minster, Binyamin Netanyahu, to be replaced in elections later this month. Organised under the banner, “Israel wants change” and dubbed an “anti-Netanyahu” event, the rally was headlined by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who told the crowd Israel is facing the worst leadership crisis in its history. “We have a leader who fights only one campaign — the campaign for his own political survival … I am not a politician and not a public figure, and I came here this evening without personal aspirations, not looking for a position and without a grudge or bitterness,” he said. Israel police estimated around 40,000 attended the rally, while the organisers claimed the number was closer to 80,000.
Foreign Policy In Focus via Common Dreams, Why ISIS Exists, Adil E. Shamoo, Bonnie Bricker, March 6, 2015. The Middle East is suffering the blowback from rotten U.S. policies, disastrous wars, and cultural turmoil. ISIS and its ilk are one result. ISIS — or the so-called “Islamic State” — is the latest and most horrifying iteration of the modern terror groups that have plagued the region in recent years. With 20,000 to 30,000 combatants and recruits streaming in from all over the globe, the group is unlikely to be significantly degraded by U.S. air strikes — not when political conditions in the Middle East continue to favor it. The media often depicts ISIS recruits as lost souls in search of a cause or suffering from mental illness. That may be true in some cases. But these explanations are not sufficient to explain ISIS’s resilience and recruitment capabilities. No organization, especially a terrorist one, can survive without support. Yes, ISIS has committed unspeakable atrocities. But it’s too easy to forget that the U.S. invasion of Iraq killed some half a million Iraqis by one estimate — most of them civilians — and wounded another million. Looking at the numbers, we can only imagine the thousands of Iraqi children killed by bombs who may have actually been burned alive or smashed by rubble. They died the sort of deaths that inflame Arabs and Muslims around the world. As a nation, the United States likes to tout its moral superiority. Yet the bleak contrast between what Iraqis experienced and America’s self-proclaimed exceptionalism led many Iraqis to join a group that made its own set of promises — ISIS — and the results have been terrifying. Meanwhile, America’s allies in the Middle East aren’t much better.
Fort Russ, Nemtsov Murder: Case Closed? J. Hawk, March 8, 2015. Russian media is widely reporting that Nemtsov's murder was master-minded and carried out by Zaur Dadayev (pictured in jail) who had already made a confession. The motive for the killing was reported as Nemtsov's stance on the Charlie Hebdo incident, and his criticism of Islam, Muslims, and President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. Is that the end of the story? On the face of it, the explanation offered is not wholly implausible. It may well be that Dadayev felt Kadyrov, who was quite outspoken in his criticism of Nemtsov and other Russian neo-liberals, might approve of this act even though he had not ordered it. It is more likely that Dadayev is genuinely responsible for the crime, but that he is not revealing his true motives or instigators of the murder.
WhoWhatWhy,The Week: Boston Marathon Bombing Triall Begins, Staff reports, March 8, 2015. Tsarnaev Loses Bid to Move Trial; FBI’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Video of Boston Marathon Bombing Doesn’t Exist; Live from the Opening of the Boston Bombing Trial; and Boston Bombing Victims, the FBI Video and Black Backpacks.
Newsmax, Boston Legal Counsel Says Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Should Fire His Attorney ASAP, Interview of Boston attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan by "America's Forum" host JD Hayworth, March 8, 2015. (video 4:58 min.).
Washington Post, Thousands descend upon Selma to hear President Obama mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ Peter Holley and Juliet Eilperin, March 7, 2015. ‘Our march is not yet finished.’ President Obama joined marchers in Selma, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on Bloody Sunday.
Daily Beast, Boko Haram Swears Loyalty to ISIS. But Will ISIS Swear Back? Nancy A. Youssef Philip Obaji Jr., March 7, 2015. In an online audio message reportedly from its leader, the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram on Saturday apparently pledged formal allegiance to the Islamic State, but it’s unclear if this marks the beginning of an actual, operational alliance or if it is instead an attempt by the African group to push back against an increasingly robust regional military response. The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (shown in a photo), has recently adopted the tactics, practices and even the dress of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL. These include producing gruesome beheading videos and a social media strategy.
New York Times, Charter School Hailed by Bush in Miami Ended in Failure, Jason Horowitz, March 7, 2015. A school that Jeb Bush co-founded in 1996 has been a rallying point as he considers running for president. But when he tells his tale of achievement, he avoids the school’s name and unhappy closing in 2008. Liberty City Charter School was the first school of its kind in Florida and a pioneer in a booming industry and national movement. It became an image-softening vehicle for Mr. Bush’s political comeback, though the school’s road was anything but smooth. It served a poor, often overlooked black population, and struggled with landlord problems and deepening deficits without the resources and infrastructure of a public school system to rely on. And by the time it closed, in 2008, the school did not have Jeb Bush to count on, either. Critics of charter schools note that Liberty City, named after the impoverished African-American neighborhood from which many of its students hailed, also set an unfortunate precedent for the short life span of schools whose survival is dependent on their financial as well as academic success.
RT, Germany slams NATO European commander’s comments on Ukraine as ‘dangerous propaganda,' Staff report, March 7, 2015. A top NATO European commander’s exaggerated comments on the Ukrainian conflict are ‘dangerous propaganda,’ and put the West at risk of losing credibility, sources in the German Chancellor’s Office told Der Spiegel. General Philip Breedlove (described as a "super-hawk" and shown in an official photo)made harsh remarks on the situation in Ukraine on Wednesday, saying that the self-defense forces, with the assistance of Russia, have prepared “over a thousand combat vehicles” and “sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” in the south-east of the country. German authorities were “alarmed” by the stance of the NATO commander and wondered whether “the Americans [are] trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel?” Der Spiegel wrote.
Washington Post, Menendez: I've behaved appropriately in office, Staff video report, March 7, 2015. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), shown in a file photo, said amid a federal investigation that he has always behaved appropriately in office and added he was "not going anywhere."
Washington Post, Sen. Menemdez to face charges in corruption case, Sean Sullivan, Sari Horwitz and Carol D. Leonnig, March 6, 2015. The Justice Department's charges against the New Jersey Democrat are expected to stem from an investigation into whether he used his position to benefit a donor and close friend. The Justice Department is preparing to file criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), law enforcement officials said Friday, setting the stage for a legal showdown between the Obama administration and the veteran lawmaker. The anticipated charges, which the Justice Department could announce in a matter of weeks, would mark a final stage in a more than two-year investigation into the relationship between Menendez and Salomon Melgen, a close friend and political donor. Federal officials are expected to allege that the senator used the power of his office to improperly benefit Melgen, an ophthalmologist and businessman who operates eye clinics in Florida. Law enforcement officials confirmed the Justice Department’s plans, which were first reported Friday by CNN. The Justice Department and the White House declined to comment. So did an attorney for Melgen.
Paul Craig Roberts.org, Another Dubious Jobs Report, Paul Craig Roberts (former Reagan administration assistant Treasury secretary, photo below), March 6, 2015. According to the payroll jobs report today (March 6) the economy created 295,000 new jobs in February, dropping the rate of unemployment to 5.5%. However, the Bureau of Labor Stations also reported that the labor force participation rate fell and the number of people not in the labor force rose by 354,000. In other words, the unemployment rate dropped because the labor force shrunk. If the economy were in recovery the labor force would be growing and the labor force participation rate would be rising. The 295,000 claimed new jobs are highly suspect. For example, the report claims 32,000 new retail jobs, but the Census Bureau reports that retail sales declined in December and January. Why would retailers experiencing declining sales hire more employees? Construction spending declined 1.1% in January, but the payroll jobs report says 29,000 construction jobs were added in February. Zero Hedge reports that the decline in the oil price has resulted in almost 40,000 laid off workers during January and February, but the payroll jobs report only finds 2,900 lost jobs in oil for the two months. There is no sign in the payroll jobs report of the large lay-offs by IBM and Hewlett Packard.
See also, Nearly At ‘Full Employment’? 10 Reasons Why The Unemployment Numbers Are A Massive Lie, Michael Snyder, March 8, 2015. If the unemployment rate was calculated honestly, we would all be talking about the horrific “unemployment crisis” that we were currently enduring. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, the real unemployment rate in the United States right now is above 23 percent. "Our politicians and the mainstream media are attempting to convince us that everything is just fine."
Medium, Like Uber for Wireless, Kevin Werbach, March 6, 2015. Ever since the news broke that Google is planning to offer a wireless service, I’ve been terribly intrigued. The latest tidbit that Google’s system will choose networks on an application-by-application basis made it all come together for me. Google is doing a small trial, with limited scope, for just one lightly-used phone…which could transform the wireless industry. And if that’s not a big enough deal, as goes wireless in the next decade, so goes the Internet.
Realities Watch, Boston Bombing: Naomi Wolf Exposes Fake News/False Flags, Naomi Wolf, March 6, 2015. Here is Naomi Wolf explaining how films and theatrical news events are fabricated by intelligence agencies.
Washington Post, 2 suspects detained in death of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, Karoun Demirjian, March 7, 2015. Two men were detained in connection with last week’s killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov (shown in photo), the head of Russia’s federal security service said Saturday. But the identification of suspects did little to quell lingering questions about the motive for the crime. Alexander Bortnikov said on Russian state television that the two men — Anzor Kubashev and Zaur Dadayev, who are residents of the North Caucasus — were detained in the criminal case concerning Nemtsov’s death. Russian investigative committee spokesman Vladimir Markin later told the Russian news service Interfax that the two men were “responsible for the organization and perpetration of Nemtsov’s killing.” But authorities have released few details about the two men they say were responsible for Nemtsov’s death or why they allegedly shot one of Russia’s most prominent Kremlin critics
Lights from the Oval Office are seen from the snow covered South Grounds of the White House, March 5, 2015 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
Buzzflash, Computerized Vote Counting: The Hole in United States' Political Bucket, Jonathan Simon, March 5, 2015. Last month, I attended the Ninth Annual Voting And Elections Summit in Washington, hosted by Fair Vote, The Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, US Vote Foundation, and Overseas Vote Foundation, each a progressive organization dedicated to the betterment of elections in the United States. The summit was indeed a gathering of very bright, motivated, devoted, and patriotic individuals and organizations, whose efforts I deeply appreciate. It was undercut, however, by a tragic, widely shared blindspot regarding the core vulnerability of the American vote counting process, both in theory and in concrete political bottom-line fact. That process, in the computerized voting era, has become and remains unobservable, offering an open invitation to targeted manipulation sweeping in its cumulative effect.
Waking Times, Fracking Used to Inject Nuclear Waste Underground for Decades, Staff report, March 5, 2015. Unearthed articles from the 1960s detail how nuclear waste was buried beneath the Earth’s surface by Halliburton & Co. for decades as a means of disposing the by-products of post-World War II atomic energy production. Fracking is already a controversial practice on its face; allowing U.S. industries to inject slurries of toxic, potentially carcinogenic compounds deep beneath the planet’s surface — as a means of “see no evil” waste disposal — already sounds ridiculous, dangerous, and stupid anyway without even going into further detail. Alleged fracking links to the contamination of the public water supply and critical aquifers, as well as ties to earthquake upticks near drilling locations that are otherwise not prone to seismic activity have created uproar in the years since the 2005 “Cheney loophole,” which allowed the industry to circumvent the Safe Drinking Water Act by exempting fracking fluids, thus fast tracking shale fracking as a source of cheap natural gas. Now, it is apparent that the fracking industry is also privy to many secrets of the nuclear energy industry and, specifically, where the bodies are buried, err… dangerous nuclear waste is buried, rather — waste that atomic researchers have otherwise found so difficult to eliminate.
Versia.ru via Fort Russ, Was the eyewitness to the murder of Boris Nemtsov recruited by SBU chief Nalyvaychenko? Staff report translated by Petri Krohn, March 5, 2015. Anna Duritskaya, the companion of Russian oppositionpolitician Boris Nemtsov, who was killed last Friday in the center of Moscow, was recruited by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in September last year. The Ukrainian-born model, age 23, is shown in a photo. Versia.ru received this information from Russian political scientist and member of the Public Chamber Sergey Markov. Versia.ru found new details of the so-called "Ukrainian trace" in the murder of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. We have previously reported that Duritskaya, who accompanied Nemtsov on the fateful evening, was in a relationship with a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Yuri Bezera, who concurrently holds the position of commander of "Dnepr-1" Battalion. Sergey Markov, Russian political scientist and member of the Public Chamber commented to Versia.ru: "My personal opinion is that the murder was organized by the head of the SBU Valentin Nalyvaychenko to cause an uproar in Moscow."
Zero Hedge, Despite Russian Warnings, US Will Deploy a Battalion to Ukraine by the End of the Week, Tyler Durden, March 4, 2015. The United States will deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday. “Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” he stated. “If Russia will invade Ukraine, why would we not think they will invade the US next?” The current plan is for US forces to stay six months, he said, and noted there have been discussions about how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission. Despite earlier warnings from Russia (and claims that NATO had not agreed to any such foreign ‘boots on the ground’ action’). This comes a week after PM David Cameron confirmed Britain will be sending 75 military personnel to help combat Russian military aggression. Russia’s Ambassador to the North Atlantic Alliance Alexander Grushko said on Monday Moscow will take all measures, including military-technical, to neutralize possible threat from NATO presence in Ukraine.
Washington Post, Obamacare case shows Congress often misses mark when writing legislation, Paul Kane, March 4, 2015. The Affordable Care Act is facing another challenge at the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell, which deals with subsidies for health insurance. The case could cut out a major provision of Obamacare, causing the law to unravel. Here’s what you need to know about the case. The outcome of the Supreme Court arguments about the new health-care law could turn on how to interpret a single hotly contested phrase in the massive bill. But the case has already highlighted this truism: Congress can sometimes be sloppy. The justices on Wednesday hear arguments about federal subsidies that help millions of Americans afford insurance, with challengers arguing the Affordable Care Act, as written, only allows these payments for coverage bought through marketplaces set up by state governments. The Obama administration and its allies say Congress clearly meant to include all Americans who qualified, regardless of whether they bought the insurance through a state exchange.
Washington Post, Five key takeaways from the Supreme Court’s Obamacare hearing today, Jason Millman, March 4, 2015. Based on oral arguments this morning, the latest Supreme Court showdown over Obamacare could lead to another narrow ruling determining the fate of the health-care program. Here are five important takeaways from the hearing in King v. Burwell, a challenge an IRS rule providing financial assistance to millions purchasing health insurance through federal-run exchanges offered in states that did not create their own online marketplaces. (Read our guide for everything you need to know about up to this point.)
Washington Post, Petraeus admits giving documents to mistress, Adam Goldman and Sari Horwitz, March 3, 2015. The former CIA director will plead guilty to a misdemeanor and will likely not face prison time. The deal, if approved by a judge, will spare Petraeus a prison sentence and allow him to avoid a trial that probably would have revealed details of his relationship with his former mistress and biographer, who had been provided the highly sensitive documents. As part of the agreement, Petraeus admitted improperly retaining a number of bound notebooks that contained classified information and giving them to the biographer, Paula Broadwell, according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte, N.C.
ExposeFacts.org via OpEdNews, David Petraeus Gets Hand-Slap for Leaking, Two Point Enhancement for Obstruction of Justice, Marcy Wheeler, March 3, 2015. DOJ quietly announced it had reached a plea deal with former CIA Director David Petraeus for leaking Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information materials to his mistress, Paula Broadwell (shown with her biography cover). Among the materials in the eight "Black Books" Petraeus shared with Broadwell were: "classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and .... discussions with the President of the United States of America." Petreaus retained those Black Books after he signed his debriefing agreement upon leaving DOD, in which he attested "I give my assurance that there is no classified material in my possession, custody, or control at this time." For mishandling some of the most important secrets the nation has, Petraeus will plead guilty to a misdemeanor. He will not, however, be asked to plead guilty at all for lying to FBI investigators. For lying to the FBI -- a crime that others go to prison for for months and years -- Petraeus will just get a two point enhancement on his sentencing guidelines. The Department of Justice basically completely wiped away the crime of covering up his crime of leaking some of the country's most sensitive secrets to his mistress.
For more on the Petraeus story, see also Intercept, Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate Of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus by Glenn Greenwald; Attorney General Eric Holder to Decide Whether to Charge David Petraeus with Violating Espionage Act by Kevin Gosztola; and Prosecutors Said To Recommend Charges Against Former Gen. David Petraeus by Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo.
FireDogLake, More on Hillary Clinton’s Use of Personal Email Account at State Department, Peter Van Buren, March 3, 2015. 2016 just got a lot more interesting with the revelation that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton conducted all official business using a personal email account on her own web domain. Here’s what happened, and why it matters. A lot. Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, violating federal regulations that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record and thus subject to Freedom of Information Act and Congressional requests. The most basic reason this all matters is because it is the law. As Secretary of State, Clinton was required to maintain her emails as official records. She did not. It also matters because Clinton’s email actions were deliberate, and included an effort to hide what she was doing.
WWL (New Orleans) via LewRockwell.com, Video Exonerates Man Set Up By Louisiana Cops And Prosecutors, Chuck Ross, March 3, 2015. If not for cell phone video, 47-year-old disabled veteran Douglas Dendinger could be going to prison — because of an apparent coordinated effort by Washington Parish, La. cops and prosecutors who falsely accused him of battery and witness intimidation. As New Orleans’ WWL reports, Dendinger’s two-year nightmare began on Aug. 20, 2012, when he was paid $50 to serve a court summons on behalf of his nephew against Bogalusa police officer Chad Cassard in a police brutality lawsuit. Dendinger handed Cassard a white envelope containing the documents and says he went on his way. But 20 minutes later, police showed up to Dendinger’s house and arrested him. He was put in jail on charges of simple battery, obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness. Two of those charges are felonies, and a prior cocaine conviction on Dendinger’s record threatened to land him in jail for a long time as a repeat offender. But Dendinger was confident that a mistake had been made and that he would be released without cause since two prosecutors and several police officers had seen him hand over the summons peacefully. But that’s not what happened.
U.S. Senator John McCain poses with senior Al Qaeda leader Abdulhakim Belhaj after NATO delivered the nation of Libya to him and his terrorist organization in 2011. Belhaj is now reportedly
operating under the banner of ISIS.
Washington Times, U.S. backed rebel reportedly leads Islamic State in Libya, Kyle Shideler, March 3, 2015. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the former head of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and a major player in the U.S.-backed overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, has reportedly joined the Islamic State and is leading its forces there. This according to The Blaze National Security journalist Sara Carter on Twitter, and Fox News’ Catherine Herridge in a Fox News report. Belhadj’s ties to al Qaeda were controversial during the run up to U.S. airstrikes in support of the Libyan rebels, but this did not prevent him from maintaining a high profile at the time, including being made head of the Tripoli Military Council, a position he held until resigning to run for office in May 2012. Belhadj has a reputation for involvement in the international jihad has well, playing a role in the 2004 Madrid training bombings, and accused by investigators of being involved in the murder of two Tunisian politicians at behest of the Muslim Brotherhood. his would represent a major coup for the Islamic State, whose global strategy requires the incorporation of pre-established jihadist groups to bolsters their claim to caliphate status and take additional territory, thus reinforcing their religious and legal authority, and attracting additional recruits.
Washington Post, AIPAC pummels Obama, Dana Milbank, March 2, 2015. In the brawl between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran nuclear negotiations, AIPAC has joined congressional Republicans in siding wholeheartedly with the Israeli hard-liner. This all will likely backfire by firming Democratic resistance to more Iran sanctions — and, in the long run, by politicizing U.S.-Israeli relations.
Salon, Reilly’s trouble deepens: A Kennedy tall tale that could unravel Fox News’ bully, Joan Walsh, March 2, 2015. His Kennedy assassination lie is proven by a recording of O'Reilly himself. Why Fox's strategy may suddenly change. Writers and advocates on the left have long cataloged the exaggerations, meltdowns and many stumbles of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, to show that the guy who runs the No-Spin Zone is frequently unfair and relentlessly unbalanced. But now O’Reilly (shown in a CBS photo) has a different sort of watchdog in CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, host of “Reliable Sources” – and Stelter is attracting more company.
Al.com, Speaker Mike Hubbard: An emperor with no clothes who must step aside, Charles J. Dean, March 2, 2015. On the day I was fired from the Birmingham News almost three years ago, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard called me. After expressing his shock at the firing he asked me simply if there was anything he could do to help me. I detected no pretense on his part. Five months later, re-employed, I wrote the first story reporting what appeared to be questionable financial dealings revolving around a tangled web of campaign dollars that Hubbard as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party in 2010 had bundled together from legislative candidates he was backing. See: Stunning e-mails paint Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard as desperate for money, favors.
BBC, Boris Nemtsov murder: Girlfriend allowed to return to Ukraine, Staff report, March 2, 2015. The Ukrainian girlfriend (shown in a modeling photo) of murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is flying home after being questioned by police in Moscow. "Anna Durytska has just left for Kiev," Ukrainian Foreign Minister spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said. She was with Nemtsov when he was shot dead in the Russian capital on Friday night.
Huffington Post, Netanyahu's Takeover Bid, David Bromwich. March 1, 2015. David Browich is a Yale University professor. The speech that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, will deliver to Congress on March 3rd aims to scuttle an agreement on nuclear inspections and technology between Iran and the United States. Netanyahu, shown in a file photo, would like to sow a suspicion between these countries so fraught and durable that it will also prevent any possible future agreement. For that purpose, he will restate his drastic and persistent belief on the subject. To permit Iran to go beyond the most primitive use of its nuclear facilities would pose an "existential threat" to Israel. Netanyahu has given America several final chances to dispose of this existential threat. Netanyahu has followed the pattern that led him to urge the United States to bomb, invade, and occupy Iraq. Similar pressure, some of it again traceable to Netanyahu, backed the proposal that the U.S. lead a multinational mission against Syria. His method of persuasion is always the same. A sham emergency is used to justify breaking off an impending agreement or launching a new war.
In 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden greet the Israeli delegation prior to a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Oct. 1, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
Editor's Note: Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who secretly invited Netanyahu to speak despite U.S. political traditions, is promoting the Israeli Prime Minister's attack on President Obama and other Democrats via a live webcast available here. The initiative by Boehner, shown in his official photo, and Netanyahu crosses traditional lines in several ways. For one thing, a congressional invitation to a foreign leader to use Congress as a backdrop to attack a president's foreign policy is virtually unprecedented. Second, United States officials typically take a neutral position, at least officially, in the election of foreign leaders. Netanyahu is using the appearance in part to win re-election in two weeks. Finally, most Jewish Americans and Israelis have sought to ensure that Americans retain a strong bipartisan consensus of strong if not unquestioned support for Israel, which is endangered by controversies along Republican vs. Democrat lines as prompted by the speech.
Washington Post, Russians rally for slain Putin critic, Michael Birnbaum, March 1, 2015. Boris Nemtsov (shown in a file photo via Creative Commons) was fatally shot late Friday on a bridge in the heart of Moscow. Russians turned out by the tens of thousands Sunday to mourn an opposition leader who was murdered only a few steps from the Kremlin, amid fears that his death was just the beginning of a new wave of violence. Defiant crowds waving Russia’s tricolor flag and carrying signs reading “Propaganda Kills” filed through Moscow’s heart on a grim, drizzly afternoon, making a pilgrimage to the spot where Boris Nemtsov was gunned down under the Kremlin’s watchful towers. The killing was the highest-profile political assassination in Russia during the 15-year rule of President Vladimir Putin.
OpEd News, Putin Predicted Washington Would Employ Assassination Tactic Against Russia, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), March 1, 2015. In Nemtsov murder: Putin warned about exactly this type of “false flag” two years ago, Putin explained two years ago the Russian government's concern that an overseas entity would use a false flag assassination within Russia in order to create an "involuntary martyr" that the Western media would use to demonize Russia. According to another report, Good news out of Russia – even the “non-system” opposition refuses to blame the Kremlin, the Washington-financed Russian opposition has not, as Washington hoped it would, joined the Western anti-Putin media campaign. Possibly the Washington-financed Russian NGOs have wised up from observing events in Ukraine. In place of "more democracy," they got a Washington stooge government squandering Ukraine's last cent on a losing war. The most likely explanation of Boris Nemtsov's murder is that the CIA decided, as Nemtsov was completely marginalized as an opposition politician with 5% as against Putin's 85%, that Nemtsov was worth more dead than alive. But the ploy, if that is what it is, has not worked inside Russia. Stephen Lendman has done a good job tracking the US media's unquestioning adherence to Washington's propaganda line.
International Observer, Slain Russian’s Complicated Romantic Life May Be Key to the Case, Boris Nemtsov's tangled love life is revealed as model Anna Duritskaya helps police piece puzzle together, Mikhail Klikushin March 1, 2015. Ukrainian model Anna Duritskaya, 23 (shown in a file photo), had a four-year romance with slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, 55, and was with him when he was assassinated.
AFP via Yahoo! News, Rebel deminers comb Ukraine battleground town, Stéphane Jourdain, March 1, 2015. A week since pro-Russian rebels forced Ukrainian soldiers from the key transport hub of Debaltseve, the sound of explosions still reverberates around the eastern town. This, however, is not the boom of artillery fire and combat -- it is teams of Cossack deminers [sappers] from the separatist side blowing up mines and unexploded ordnance littering this war-scarred railway junction.
Independent, Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty, Chris Green, March 1, 2015. Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger whose punishment of 1,000 lashes has prompted international condemnation, may now face the death penalty. Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, told the Independent in a series of messages that judges in Saudi Arabia’s criminal court want him to undergo a re-trial for apostasy. If found guilty, he would face a death sentence. She said the “dangerous information” had come from “official sources” inside the conservative kingdom, where Badawi has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes – administered at a rate of 50 per week – for criticizng the country’s clerics through his liberal blog.
World Beyond War, ISIS Derangement Syndrome, David Swanson, March 1, 2015. Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group." His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate.
Atlantic Council, The Future of the Fight against ISIL: A Discussion with General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, March 2, 2015. The Atlantic Council hosts General John Allen, USMC (Ret.), the special Presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL to discuss what may lie ahead in the US-led fight against the Islamist group that straddles Iraqi and Syrian territory. Ever since General Allen’s appointment in September, he has sought to “help build and sustain the coalition so it can operate across multiple lines of effort in order to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” The coalition of over sixty countries currently contributes in “various capacities...in Iraq, the region, and beyond,” to achieve the stated strategy. How will the coalition sustain the fight against the terrorist group? What role will the United States play as the coalition broadens and deepens its efforts? Can the fight be ultimately won? And if so, how does the coalition define success? To answer these and other questions, General Allen will join Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe on stage. This event will be on the record and open to press. General John Allen was appointed Sept. 16, 2014 by President Obama. Allen is a retired US Marine four-star General and former Commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and US Forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to February 2013.
Washington Post, Syrian fighter group that got U.S. missiles dissolves after major defeat, Liz Sly, March 1, 2015. The first Syrian rebel group to be given U.S. weapons collapsed Sunday after losing control of its headquarters to Syria’s main al-Qaeda affiliate, further complicating American-led efforts to counter the rise of extremism in Syria. The rout of Harakat Hazm, whose name means Steadfastness Movement, culminated months of clashes with the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra in which the moderate group first was pushed from its main headquarters in the northern Syrian province of Idlib and then was ousted Sunday from its new base in the province of Aleppo. After losing this latest battle, Hazm said in a statement circulated on social media that the movement had been dissolved “in an effort to halt the bloodshed” and that surviving members would be absorbed into a new rebel coalition called the Shamiyah Front. Nusra fighters boasted on Twitter that they had seized control of U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles and other American aid provided to Hazm when they overran the rebels’ headquarters in the town of Atarib in the province of Aleppo. The claims could not be verified, and American supplies of weaponry to moderate rebels in northern Syria had in any case been scaled back in recent months since the battles with Nusra began. The collapse comes as the Pentagon embarks on a new effort to train moderate rebels to fight the Islamic State, a different extremist group that is at odds with Jabhat al-Nusra and has severed ties with al-Qaeda. Hazm, which once claimed to have 5,000 fighters, had received U.S. weapons under a separate covert program launched last year by the CIA that was intended to bolster moderate rebels and put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to compromise with the opposition.
The Atlantic, What ISIS Really Wants, Graeme Wood, March 2015. The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy — and for how to stop it. Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, the New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
WND, Feds raid Texas political meeting; Fingerprint, photograph all attendees, seize phones, Staff report, March 1, 2015. In a deliberate “show of force,” federal and local police forces raided a political meeting in Texas, fingerprinting and photographing all attendees as well as confiscating all cell phones and personal recording devices. Members of the Republic of Texas, a secession movement dedicated to restoring Texas as an independent constitutional republic, had gathered Feb. 14 in a Bryan, Texas, meeting hall along with public onlookers. They were debating issues of currency, international relations and celebrating the birthday of one of their oldest members. The group, which describes itself as “congenial and unimposing,” maintains a small working government, including official currency, congress and courts. According to MySanAntonio.com: “Minutes into the meeting a man among the onlookers stood and moved to open the hall door, letting in an armed and armored force of the Bryan Police Department, the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office, agents of the Texas District Attorney, the Texas Rangers and the FBI. “In the end, at least 20 officers corralled, searched and fingerprinted all 60 meeting attendees, before seizing all cellphones and recording equipment in a Valentine’s Day 2015 raid on the Texas separatist group.”
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The Justice Integrity Project urges readers to sign the petition to President Obama for clemency for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003), whom our research indicates was unjustly convicted in 2006 on politically motivated corruption charges. The petition is here. Siegelman is shown above with his wife (at center), son and daughter. He was re-imprisoned at age 67 in September 2012 in Louisiana.
This is one of the most serious, detailed public interest books I have ever read, and I do read quite a bit.
I am in Afghanistan, with very little time to myself, and regret I have not been able to sit down with this book and give it the double read that it merits. As with any book that I consider a potential blockbuster, I started with the index, notes, and bibliography. All three are deep. This book is both a citizen's primer, and a reference work that will stand the test of time in helping future generations of students. It is a starting point for truth in the public interest.
I am one of those very few non-fiction reviewers that is also a former CIA clandestine case officer and a career intelligence officer. My reviews of over 300 books on intelligence are easily found (each review leading back to their Amazon home page) are easily found by searching for < Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most)> without the brackets.
Imagine my astonishment, then, when I get through the first part of the book and discover that Obama may be CIA's second wholly-owned president. Obama's parents appear clearly documented as non-official cover CIA officers (officers spy, agents are the people they recruit) responsible for spotting, assessing, and recruiting among the Islamic up and comers. This section alone makes this book priceless. Read More...