May 2016 News Reports
Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative May 2016 news and views
Politico, Shady accounting underpins Trump’s wealth, Ben White, May 31, 2016. The GOP nominee is rich. But how rich depends on odd accounting and subjective criteria. Donald Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) claims a net worth of more than $10 billion and an income of $557 million. But he appears to get there only by overvaluing properties and ignoring his expenses.
Politico spoke with more than a dozen financial experts and Trump’s fellow multimillionaires about the presumptive Republican nominee’s latest financial statement. Their conclusion: The real estate magnate’s bottom line — what he actually puts in his own pocket — could be much lower than he suggests. Some financial analysts said this, and a very low tax rate, is why Trump won’t release his tax returns.
The case against Trump’s accounting of his wealth: His businesses apparently generate a lot of revenue but may not put much cash in his pocket; he assigns himself a net worth that is impossible to verify and may be based in part on fantasy; and he is selling assets and increasing debt in ways that suggest a man scrambling for ready cash.
Trump’s tax returns could clarify a great deal about his actual income. But Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, said in an interview with The Huffington Post last week that he would be “surprised” if Trump ever releases the returns, which is not required but which every major presidential candidate has done since 1976.
Estimates of Trump’s net worth range from a low of $150 million to $250 million asserted by journalist Timothy O’Brien in a 2005 book that earned him a libel lawsuit from Trump that was eventually dismissed. O’Brien saw Trump’s tax returns as part of the discovery in that suit but the records were sealed by the court and O’Brien is not allowed to discuss them in any detail.
Washington Post, Trump rails against scrutiny of donations to veterans’ groups, David A. Fahrenthold and Jose A. DelReal, May 31, 2016. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee tussled with reporters amid sharp scrutiny over the delayed distribution of millions of dollars he promised to veterans’ organizations.
Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he'd given away the last $1.5 million that other donors had entrusted to him four months earlier, when Trump held a televised benefit for veterans' charities. But, at the same time, Trump blasted the news media — in terms that were bitter, even for him — for asking about how, and when, he was going to give this money away. Trump called the media in general "dishonest" and "unfair," and referred to a particular TV reporter as a "sleaze." His complaints dominated an event that was supposed to be about Trump's own charity — and provided new evidence that, even as the presumptive GOP front-runner, Trump is inclined to air his grievances and rivalries publicly.
NBC, Donald Trump's Campaign Far Behind on Critical Data Operation, Leigh Ann Caldwell, May 31 2016. Donald Trump's campaign is confident that it has a digital voter mobilization operation that will rival likely opponent Hillary Clinton's in the fall, but the presumptive Republican nominee has done little to build its data force and is relying on the Republican National Committee to pick up the bulk of the responsibility for the critical component of its campaign.
Donald Trump's campaign is confident that it has a digital voter mobilization operation that will rival likely opponent Hillary Clinton's in the fall, but the presumptive Republican nominee has done little to build its data force and is relying on the Republican National Committee to pick up the bulk of the responsibility for the critical component of its campaign. "All of that stuff you'd use data for is typically done within the RNC," Barry Bennett, an adviser to Trump, told NBC News in a recent interview about how the campaign is addressing its data operation.
President Barack Obama transformed modern day campaigning by elevating the importance and use of data. Since then campaigns have prioritized it. Hillary Clinton has been building her data operation since she launched her campaign, but Trump has largely dismissed its importance. Trump has mocked the importance of sophisticated data, telling the Associated Press earlier this month that he believes it is "overrated."
"Obama got the votes much more so than his data processing machine. And I think the same is true with me," he added.’
Washington Post, What does the media owe Gary Johnson and the Libertarians? Jennifer Rubin, May 31, 2016. On Sunday, Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor, won the Libertarian Party nomination for president with former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld as his vice president. Johnson (shown ni a file photo) is an impassioned proponent of the party’s small government message, and he told the crowd he thinks most people are Libertarians but don’t know it. At a news conference, he made a play for tea party voters, saying what started out as a fiscal, small-government movement was captured by Republicans, especially social conservative. He says his party is the real “home” for such voters.
Johnson and Weld have more executive governing experience than the two major candidates. They currently draw 10 percent in many national polls. Both major parties will attempt to ignore them, but the media — reeling from Donald Trump’s exploitation of their thirst for ratings in the primary season — should think carefully about how to cover Johnson-Weld.
1. Johnson-Weld should be included in all major polling, especially since 15 percent in national polls is required to get into the presidential debates.
2. In figuring out how to balance air time, the media rightly complains Hillary Clinton is not available nearly as much as Trump.
Washington Post, To curb prostitution, punish those who buy sex rather than those who sell it. Jimmy Carter, May 31, 2016. It’s called the ‘Nordic model.’ Jimmy Carter, U.S. president from 1977 to 1981 and shown in a file photo, is an author and social commentator.
Washington Post, Donald Trump, bully in chief, Editorial Board, May 31, 2016. Donald Trump makes clear that if he’s elected, his slurs on those who question him will continue.
Washington Post, What does the media owe Gary Johnson and the Libertarians? Jennifer Rubin, May 31, 2016. There is another ticket to cover.
Reuters, Israel's settlement drive is becoming irreversible, diplomats fear, Luke Baker, May 31, 2016.Mitzpe Yericho is one of more than 230 settlements Israelis have built on occupied land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past half-century.
Diplomats and international monitors are increasingly concerned that the drive, which has seen Israel settle more than half a million of its people at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, may be reaching the point of irreversibility.The ongoing expansion further diminishes the prospect of any significant progress being made when foreign ministers from 20 countries meet in Paris this week to discuss how to revive Middle East peace efforts, given the settlements have been a central obstacle for at least two decades.
If a peace deal were magically struck tomorrow, the Palestinians would expect the Israelis living in Mitzpe Yericho to leave. But its 3,000 residents, nearly all whom are religious nationalists, have no such intention. To them, the settlement enterprise is God-given and irreversible.
Center for a New American Security (CNAS), CNAS Releases Report on Ensuring Security in an Israeli-Palestinian Two-State Solution, Staff report, May 31, 2016. CNAS Senior Fellow Ilan Goldenberg, along with Maj. Gen. (Res.) Gadi Shamni, Dr. Nimrod Novik and Col. Kris Bauman, outline comprehensive security arrangements for Israelis and Palestinians based on six core principles and provides proposed solutions to all of the toughest security questions that have bedeviled Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
The authors argue that Israelis will never agree to a two-state solution unless their security concerns are addressed. Palestinians will never agree to what they view as an endless occupation. To address both sides' needs this report proposes a security system based on the following key principles, including:
- Build a multilayered system that addresses Israel’s security concerns in which Israel retains the right of self defense as well as the capacity to defend itself by itself, but ensures this is only necessary in extremis.
- Minimize Israeli visibility to Palestinian civilians and pursue significant early steps that signal a fundamental change on the ground to Palestinians.
- Employ American forces for training, equipping, evaluating, and monitoring, and for conducting highly limited operations along the Jordan River.
CNAS, Addressing Israel’s Security Requirements, featuring General (Ret.) John R. Allen (shown in a file photo), Co-Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, Brookings Institution
Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense on Middle East Security; and Michèle Flournoy, Co-Founder and CEO Center for a New American Security and Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; and Major General (Ret.) Gadi Shamni, Former IDF Central Commander, Former Commander of the Hebron Regional Brigade, Former Commander of the Gaza Division.
The challenges associated with coming to a permanent status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that can meet Israeli security requirements and Palestinian requirements for sovereignty and dignity are growing more challenging.
For the past year a team of American and Israeli former government and security officials have been working together on a study that details a sustainable security system to support a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The purpose of the study is to demonstrate, through deep and comprehensive analysis, that well thought-through security measures in the context of the two-state solution can provide Israel with a degree of security, equal or greater to the one provided today by its deployment into the West Bank, while at the same time being compatible with Palestinian requirements for sovereignty and dignity.
Al Jazeera, Ex-Mossad head on Israel medical aid to al-Nusra Front, Mehdi Hasan, May 31, 2016. The former head of Israel's intelligence agency Mossad defends the country's treatment of al-Nusra Front fighters on the Syrian border. Efraim Halevy tells Mehdi Hasan that he is not concerned that Israel had treated fighters in Syria from al-Nusra Front, which some say is al-Qaeda's Syrian branch. When pressed on whether he believed the assistance was purely humanitarian, Halevy responds, "I didn't say there's no tactical [consideration]. I said the main consideration, the immediate consideration is humane."
Halevy also says he would not support the treatment of wounded Hezbollah fighters because Israel had been targeted by Hezbollah, but "not specifically targeted by al-Qaeda."
Memorial Day, 2016
Daily Sabah (Turkey), Turkey slams US over PYD ties, calls for joint offensive on DAESH stronghold, Merve Aydogan, May 30, 2016. Turkey described U.S. and PKK-affiliate PYD cooperation in Syria as wrong and called for a joint Turkey-US offensive to purge Syria of DAESH terrorists with an advance on its stronghold of Raqqa province in northern Syria.
At the end of the Least-Developed Countries Summit in Antalya, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke to a journalists late on Sunday and criticized the U.S. for cooperating with the Syrian PKK affiliate the Democratic Union Party (PYD). He said that a joint military action between Turkey and the U.S. could help defeat DAESH in Syria by allowing an easy advance on Raqqa, which is DAESH's capital in Syria. Çavuşoğlu said: "[W]e could join forces with [the U.S.] since we have Special Forces and they do as well.
Turkish-U.S. relations have gone south following a statement from U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby that the U.S. does not consider the Syrian PKK affiliate PYD or its armed wing YPG to be terrorist organizations. Kirby's statement was in response to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ultimatum to Washington to choose Turkey or the PYD as its ally.
Commonweal, An Interview with Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern, Nicholas Haggerty, May 30, 2016. Ray McGovern: When the Arab Spring moved to Syria, initially it was a grassroots movement. There’s no denying that Assad clamped down with great cruelty, and that served to inflame the situation. But it was not very long till the CIA was sent in there to find “moderate” rebels so that they could assist in causing Assad all manner of troubles and perhaps even bring him down. Why did we do that? What’s in it for Washington? Assad was not a threat to us. He was cooperating with the United States in the War on Terror. He was helping to find terrorists and he was one of the people who took some of our detainees to be tortured and held in prisons while we figured out what to do with them.
One of the main factors is that Israel has inordinate influence on the policymakers at the State Department and in the White House. Syria has been on Israel’s list of countries for regime change since 1996, when several U.S. neocons wrote a paper for Netanyahu just before he became Prime Minister the first time. The paper was “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The authors made it very clear that the objective would be to foment real problems in Iran, Syria, and Iraq — against all manner of countries in the Middle East that might support Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
When Ray McGovern was a fresh-faced recruit to the CIA during the Kennedy administration, he was awestruck by the words from the Gospel of John engraved on the entrance of the original headquarters building: “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Those words have stuck with him throughout his career — first during his twenty-seven years as a specialist in Soviet foreign policy at the CIA, and now as a critic of the CIA and U.S. foreign policy. McGovern says there was no damascene moment in his transition from being an analyst to being a dissident, and that he remains a true-believer in the original mission and political independence of the CIA. He argues that, beginning in the 1980s and culminating in the “intelligence fixing” that led up to the Second Gulf War, the analysis branch of the CIA, which was supposed to be an objective fact-finding department, gradually became subservient to the political goals of the executive branch.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at Yankee Stadium (Samantha Power 2016 photo)
Intercept, Samantha Power to Receive Prize From Henry Kissinger, Whom She Once Harshly Criticized, Zaid Jilani, May 29, 2016. Samantha Power built her journalistic and academic career around human rights, criticizing powerful nations for their complicity in abuses and failure to stop acts of genocide. Then she joined the Obama administration, where she currently serves as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Early next month, Power will be receiving an award named for a man used to criticize quite harshly: former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who has been implicated in a significant number of war crimes across the globe. And she’ll be getting it from Kissinger himself.
Washington Post, Sanders breathes life into a Florida professor’s unlikely bid to oust the DNC chair, James Hohmann, May 29, 2016. Tim Canova was driving from a rally against money in politics to a protest against chemical giant Monsanto this month when his spokeswoman called to tell him that Sen. Bernie Sanders had just gone on CNN and endorsed his long-shot primary challenge against the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
It was a rather big moment for a little-known law professor with a shaved head who, in another year, might not have created so much as a ripple for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is seeking her seventh House term and has won all her previous elections in landslides. Canova, 56, finds himself in the right place at the right time.
Wasserman Schultz, 49 (shown in file photo), has become increasingly unpopular within the liberal base of the party — and among Sanders’s supporters in particular. Though she claims to be neutral in the presidential nominating contest, many Berniecrats believe that she has tipped the scales in Hillary Clinton’s favor. They see her, as they see Clinton, as beholden to wealthy donors and focused on winning elections at the expense of advancing progressive principles.
Since that’s what Canova’s campaign is all about, his bid has become a proxy battle for everything dividing Democrats this year.
Missoulian (Montana), Are Democrats right in demanding that Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, resign over the Flint water crisis? Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), May 29, 2016. Yes: Snyder knew about it early, failed to react.
In April 2014, Flint, under the dictates of an unelected and Snyder-appointed emergency manager, decided to switch its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which draws water from Lake Huron, to the Flint River. Chemicals in the Flint River caused lead to leach from the water pipes, turning the city’s water into a poisonous brew that caused skin rashes and internal health problems, especially for pregnant women and those with poor immune systems. Cases of Legionnaires’ disease increased in Flint. Brain damage in newly born infants was another plague brought on by the tainted water.
The reason for the switch was money. The water from Detroit was too expensive for the cost-cutting Flint emergency manager.
Wayne Madsen, the president of the Tampa Press Club, is a progressive commentator whose articles have appeared in leading newspapers throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Washington Post, In campaign chaos, Trump shows his management style, Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa, May 28, 2016. The GOP candidate honed his techniques over years in business and is attempting to bend the nature of a presidential campaign to his unpredictable and outsize personality, eschewing the strategist-heavy mode of most candidates.
Washington Post, Judge bashed by Trump orders release of records from training courses, Tom Hamburger, May 28, 2016. The order, which includes “playbooks” on how to market high-priced Trump University real estate courses, came on the same day that the GOP candidate railed against the judge and questioned whether his Hispanic heritage made him biased.
Syrian Northern Battlelines Map (BBC, May 28, 2016)
BBC, Syria conflict: IS 'attacks rebel-held Syria town of Marea, Staff report, May 28, 2016. Heavy fighting has been reported in northern Syria as so-called Islamic State tries to capture the rebel-held town of Marea, near the Turkish border. IS fighters began a surprise offensive in the area on Thursday and attacked Marea early on Saturday with tanks and car bombs, monitors said.
The UN fears for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the fighting. The area between the city of Aleppo and the Turkish border is split between IS, rebel and government-controlled zones. A nationwide but often violated ceasefire between rebel and government forces, brokered by the US and Russia in February, does not include jihadist groups such as the self-styled Islamic State.
Mike Hubbard, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA), A tale of two attorneys, Bill Baxley, “a living legend,” mounts his defense of Mike Hubbard, Speaker of the Alabama House, Joe Miller, May 28, 2016. Matt Hart, lead attorney for the prosecution, goes after corruption like “a mongoose in a chicken house.” Midway through his opening arguments in the biggest political corruption trial in Alabama history, defense attorney Bill Baxley pauses to consult his notes. “Excuse me,” he says to the jury, waving a flimsy, scribbled-on square of paper, “I wrote my notes on a napkin.”
When the trial began, and the judge asked the prosecution and defense if they were ready, Baxley said, “We cannot fully be ready.” And all through his opening speech he professes befuddlement about the claims against his client, Mike Hubbard, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. “I can’t understand exactly what he’s being charge with,” he says of the 23 felony ethics charges against Hubbard. “To me they’re unintelligible.” Of the lead prosecutor’s opening statement he complains, “I don’t know what he was talking about,” and says that it’s all “mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook.”
To someone just walking into the courtroom, it might seem that Hubbard’s future and freedom lay in the hands of an overworked and inexperienced court-appointed public defender. But those who know him say otherwise. “Don’t be fooled if you think he’s bumbling around,” says Tom Sorrells, a former district attorney from Dothan. “He’s not only one of the best attorneys in the state, he’s a living legend.”
Washington Post, ISIS fighters appear to be trying to sell their sex slaves online, Joby Warrick, May 28, 2016. “To all the bros thinking about buying a slave, this one is $8,000,” reads one of Facebook postings, which underscore the women’s increasingly perilous existence as the terrorist group comes under heightened pressure in Iraq and Syria.
Washington Post, Cassandra Q. Butts, Obama law school classmate and adviser, dies at 50, Matt Schudel, May 28, 2016. Cassandra Q. Butts, who was President Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School and a longtime member of the president’s inner circle who advised him throughout his political career and served as a deputy White House counsel, died May 25 at her home in Washington. She was 50. She sought medical attention early last week, when she began feeling ill. She died before learning that she had been diagnosed with acute leukemia, her family said.
Intercept, Hillary Clinton Won’t Say How Much Goldman Sachs CEO Invested With Her Son-in-Law, Lee Fang and Henrik Moltke, May 27, 2016. When Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law sought funding for his new hedge fund in 2011, he found financial backing from one of the biggest names on Wall Street: Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein. The fund, called Eaglevale Partners, was founded by Chelsea Clinton’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and two of his partners. Blankfein not only personally invested in the fund, but allowed his association with it to be used in the fund’s marketing.
The investment did not turn out to be a savvy business decision. Earlier this month, Mezvinsky was forced to shutter one of the investment vehicles he launched under Eaglevale, called Eaglevale Hellenic Opportunity, after losing 90 percent of its money betting on the Greek recovery. The flagship Eaglevale fund has also lost money, according to the New York Times.
The decision for Blankfein to invest in Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law’s company is just one of many ways Goldman Sachs has used its wealth to forge a tight bond with the Clinton family. The company paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 in personal speaking fees, paid Bill Clinton $1,550,000 in personal speaking fees, and donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. At a time when Goldman Sachs directly lobbied Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the company routinely partnered with the Clinton Foundation for events, even convening a donor meeting for the foundation at the Goldman Sachs headquarters in Manhattan.
Mezvinsky, who married Chelsea in 2010, previously worked at Goldman Sachs and started his fund along with two other former employees of the investment bank. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures show that Eaglevale required new investors to put down a minimum of $2 million. Clinton has dodged questions about her relationship with Goldman Sachs throughout the campaign.
National Security Archive, Operation Condor Verdict: GUILTY! Staff report, May 27, 2016. Argentine Federal Court Concludes 3-Year Trial on Multinational Repression; National Security Archive Provided Declassified Evidence; Hails Historic Ruling. As a federal tribunal in Buenos Aires announced guilty verdicts in the historic prosecution of eighteen Argentine military officers for participating in the coordinated, cross-border system of repression known as “Operation Condor,” the National Security Archive today hailed the ruling as a “major milestone for the principle of human rights and the pursuit of accountability for human rights violators.”
“Some 40 years after many of the Condor crimes were committed,” according to the Archive’s Southern Cone analyst Carlos Osorio, who testified at the trial and provided hundreds of declassified documents as evidence, “the victims and the human rights organizations that have represented them have finally found justice.” A photo shows him testifying in the case.
“In the case of the Condor proceedings it was possible to include thousands of documents from different sources as evidence,“ noted the lead prosecutor, Pablo Ouvina. “We had permanent contact with the National Security Archive.”
The Archive today posted a series of declassified U.S. documents that were used in the trial and that tell the story of Operation Condor, what U.S. officials knew, when they knew it, and what they did and did not do with that knowledge.
Guardian, Austerity policies do more harm than good, IMF study concludes, Larry Elliott, May 27, 2016. Economists give strong critique of neoliberal doctrine ushered in by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. A strong warning that austerity policies can do more harm than good has been delivered by economists from the International Monetary Fund, in a critique of the neoliberal doctrine that has dominated economics for the past three decades. In an article seized on by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, the IMF economists said rising inequality was bad for growth and that governments should use controls to cope with destabilizing capital flows.
The IMF team praised some aspects of the liberalizing agenda that was ushered in by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, such as the expansion of trade and the increase in foreign direct investment. But it said other aspects of the program had not delivered the expected improvements in economic performance. Looking specifically at removing barriers to flows of capital and plans to strengthen the public finances, the three IMF economists came up with conclusions that contradicted neoliberal theory.
Washington Post, Rubio called Trump a ‘con man’ but now thinks he should be president, Ed O'Keefe, May 27, 2016. The senator from Florida and former presidential candidate (shown in an official photo) epitomizes the Republican capitulation to Donald Trump.
Information Clearing House, Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War, John Pilger, May 27, 2016. John Pilger takes apart the liberal commentariat and points to the need for a genuinely anti-imperialist analysis of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and yes — Bernie Sanders. Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party's rigged convention. The great counter revolution had begun.
The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King, had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people of Vietnam. When Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose”, she spoke perhaps unconsciously for millions of America's victims in faraway places. This presidential campaign may not be about populism but American liberalism, an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way. Those on its right wing bear a likeness to 19th century Christian imperialists, with a God-given duty to convert or co-opt or conquer.
Gary Null Show, Part Two of Conversations with Remarkable Minds featuring Daniel (Danny) Sheehan, Gary Null, June 3, 2016. Part Two of Conversations with Remarkable Minds featuring public interest lawyer and author Daniel Sheehan, a Constitutional and public interest lawyer, public speaker and educator. Over the last forty-five years he has participated in numerous legal cases of public interest, including the Pentagon Papers Case, the Watergate Break-In Case, the Silkwood Case, the Iran-Contra Scandal and others. He established the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, two non-profit public policy centers. Sheehan published The People's Advocate, a memoir, in 2013 through Counterpoint publishing.
He is the founder of the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, the latter being a nonprofit public policy center in Santa Cruz California. Danny has his law degree from Harvard University and later returned to study at the Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of “The People’s Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America’s Most Fearless Public Defense Lawyer,” and his websites are DanielPSheehan.com and RomeroInstitute.org.
Vox, The Donald Trump dove myth: Why he’s actually a bigger hawk than Hillary Clinton, Zack Beauchamp, May 27, 2016. Hillary Clinton is, without a doubt, a hawkish Democrat. She has been consistently to the interventionist right of the party mainstream on issues like the Iraq War, the Afghanistan surge, and arming the Syrian rebels. Donald Trump, by contrast, has criticized the Iraq War and the Libya intervention. He's been skeptical of America's commitments to defend traditional allies in Europe and East Asia, and said the Middle East in general is "one big, fat quagmire" that the US should stay out of.
This sure makes it sound like Trump is some kind of dovish neo-isolationist, a principled skeptic of military intervention. Clinton seems like a superhawk by contrast. Steve Schmidt, a prominent Republican strategist who ran John McCain's 2008 campaign, put this theory well during an MSNBC appearance in early May: "Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues."
In fact, Trump is an ardent militarist, who has been proposing actual colonial wars of conquest for years. It's a kind of nationalist hawkishness that we haven't seen much of in the United States since the Cold War — but has supported some of the most aggressive uses of force in American history.
As surprising as it may seem, Clinton is actually the dove in this race.
Baylor President Kenneth Starr (Baylor Photo)
Huffington Post, Baylor University Removes Kenneth Starr As President, Staff report, May 26, 2016. The football coach will also be terminated amid a sexual assault scandal. Baylor University has removed Kenneth Starr as president and will fire head football coach Art Briles because of concerns of the handling of sexual abuse scandals involving football players, the school announced on Thursday.
In the past several months, Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist college, has been criticized for not thoroughly investigating reports of rapes of female students by its male athletes. Starr, the former independent counsel charged with investigating Bill Clinton during his presidency, will move to the role of chancellor and remain a professor at Baylor University Law School. Briles is suspended with intent to terminate, the college said in a statement.
In related news, see a report last year by the Justice Integrity Project: Moralist Ken Starr Explains His Help For Billionaire Pervert Jeffrey Epstein: "Famed educator and legal scholar Ken Starr led a forum last week at the National Press Club to inspire faith-based instruction — and then was asked to describe why he had helped billionaire Jeffrey Epstein avoid serious prison time in 2008 on allegations Epstein had molested dozens of underage girls."
Donald Trump (File photo by Gage Skidmore)
New York Magazine, Trump’s Lies and Trump’s Authoritarianism Are the Same Thing, Jonathan Chait, May 26, 2016. On February 7, Donald Trump told an audience of supporters in New Hampshire that he would represent their interests, but Jeb Bush would not, because Bush was in the pocket of special interests. Trump singled out Woody Johnson, the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, owner of the New York Jets, and contributor to Bush. Trump suggested, not unreasonably, that Johnson’s support would ensure that Bush would never allow the federal government to negotiate for lower prescription-drug prices. “I don't get any money from any of these special interests, and I know the special interests — I know them better than anybody. But I don't want their money,” he said. “So tell me, let me ask you: Do you think Jeb Bush is going to make drug prices competitive?” he asked. The crowd shouted, “No!”
This week Trump announced that Johnson would serve as vice-chair of the Trump Victory Fund. “He’s a terrific guy, he’s been a friend of mine a long time,” Trump announced. It was a head-spinning move — the very man Trump had held up as the embodiment of corruption, and whose funds he pledged never to accept, would now take a prominent role as a Trump fund-raiser.
Donald Trump is a wildly promiscuous liar. He also has disturbing authoritarian tendencies. Trump’s many critics have seized upon both traits as his two major disqualifications for the presidency, yet both of them frustratingly defy easy quantification. All politicians lie some, and many of them lie a lot, and most presidents also push the limits of their authority in ways that can frighten their opponents. So what is so uniquely dangerous about Trump? Perhaps the answer is that both of these qualities are, in a sense, the same thing. His contempt for objective truth is the rejection of democratic accountability, an implicit demand that his supporters place undying faith in him. Because the only measure of truth he accepts is what he claims at any given moment, the power his supporters vest in him is unlimited.
Trump lies routinely, about everything. Where he has broken truly unique ground is in his lies about relatively small, routine matters. As I’ve pointed out before — it’s become a small personal fixation — after Mitt Romney mocked the failure of Trump Steaks, Trump held a press conference in which he insisted Trump Steaks remained a going concern, despite the undeniable fact that the business no longer exists. (His campaign displayed store-bought steaks for the media, not even bothering to fully remove the labels of the store at which they purchased them.) The New York Times actually reported this week that Trump had displayed his steaks, without mentioning the blatant deception. Another such example is Trump’s prior habit of impersonating an imaginary p.r. representative while speaking to reporters. Obviously, the practice itself is strange enough, but the truly Trumpian touch is that he admitted to the ruse publicly, and then subsequently went back to denying it.
AP via Washington Post, Trump reaches the magic number to clinch nomination, Stephen Ohlemacher and Jonathan Lemire, May 26, 2016. Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.
“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.
New York Times, U.S. Commandos Work With Syrian Fighters in Push Toward ISIS Stronghold, Eric Schmitt, May 26, 2016. Special Operations forces and the Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters they are advising this week pushed closer to Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in northern Syria. Defense Department officials confirmed that photographs taken by an Agence-France Presse photographer in the village of Fatisah that were released on Thursday showed American commandos, dressed in camouflage, assisting fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces during their offensive against the Islamic State north of Raqqa.
The United States has disclosed publicly that about 200 of its commandos and support personnel are on the ground in northern Syria, where they are working with the Syrian Arab and Kurdish partners. About 100 more are on the way. Pentagon officials said the Americans were not involved in any combat role on the ground. A Syrian militia commander told the photographer that the American troops had fired missiles from the rooftop of a house to destroy a booby-trapped car in the village, a characterization that Pentagon officials challenged.
Washington Examiner, Donald Trump has exposed Marco Rubio, Philip Klein, May 26, 2016. In the late stages of his doomed presidential campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio declared that the front-runner for his party's nomination was "a con artist." But it turns out that Donald Trump wasn't the only GOP presidential candidate pulling the wool over people's eyes.
On Thursday, Rubio took another step toward fully embracing Trump for the presidency by telling CNN's Jake Tapper that he not only planned to attend the Republican convention, but that he would be "honored" to speak on Trump's behalf. "Look, my policy differences with Donald Trump — I spent 11 months talking about them. So I think they're well understood," Rubio told Tapper. "That said ... I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president. If there's something I can do to help that from happening, and it's helpful to the cause, I'd most certainly be honored to be considered for that."
For all of Rubio's high-minded talk, however, it seems that when push comes to shove, he doesn't have the courage to stand up for his stated convictions.
It's one thing to begrudgingly argue that as dangerous as he thinks a Trump presidency would be, that he thinks a Clinton presidency would be even worse. But to actually say that he would be "honored" by the chance to speak on Trump's behalf at the GOP convention, and to downplay his previously stated problems with Trump as mere "policy differences," is to prove the Rubio skeptics right.
Center for Public Integrity, Meet the people who have donated to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Michael Beckelemail, May 26, 2016. Analysis reveals one of Election 2016’s smallest — and oddest — clubs Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have precious little in common. But the two all-but-certain presidential nominees do share this: at least three-dozen campaign contributors who gave money to both of them, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of federal campaign finance filings.
The donors compose one of the nation’s smallest political clubs, to be sure, although it has its share of notable members. They include a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden, the heiress to the National Enquirer fortune, the mother of an Ohio state senator, a professional poker player, a writer for the ABC hit television series “Castle” and a law professor who has challenged the constitutional eligibility of former Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz.
WhoWhatWhy, Exclusive, Previously Unpublished Interview With Mark Lane, Matt Harvey, May 26, 2016. Mark Lane, the store-front lawyer, freedom-rider, and prolific author who took the CIA to court and won, talks about a number of subjects, including his lifelong crusade to get the word out on who really killed John F. Kennedy.
Lane, shown in a file photo, was arguably the first and most prominent of a band of citizens to question the increasingly untenable tale from government-approved media that President Kennedy was murdered by a lone lunatic with a mail order bolt-action rifle. (Especially after Lee Oswald was himself gunned down in the Dallas police station.)
If we accept Orwell’s dictum that truth-telling during a time of universal deceit equals revolution, America lost a great dissident when Mark Lane succumbed to a heart attack recently. In his careful, tweedy way, Lane did as much during the 1960s as any band of New Left radicals to change the national consciousness from blind acceptance of whatever came out of the TV to the bracing distrust of government that has marked public attitudes since the 1970s.
Huffington Post, Nick Denton: Peter Thiel Is A ‘Thin-Skinned Billionaire,’ Daniel Marans, May 26, 2016. Gawker Media founder Nick Denton slammed tech billionaire Peter Thiel on Thursday for bankrolling lawsuits that could cripple the digital news operation, and challenged him to a formal debate about journalism. Denton issued his scathing — and lengthy — critique in an open letter to Thiel posted on Gawker, the media company’s self-titled news site.
He argued that Thiel was preying on a small, independent media outlet to settle personal scores, rather than performing a benevolent service for the subjects of Gawker’s more questionable stories, as Thiel contended in the New York Times. The media guru went on to note that lawsuits with Thiel’s financial backing have not just targeted Gawker Media, but gone after individual journalists as well, saddling them with unpayable expenses and other stresses.
Fox News, Baylor responds to reports President Ken Starr fired amid football scandal, Staff report, May 25, 2016. Baylor University responded Tuesday to reports that the school’s board of regents voted to fire school President Ken Starr amid mounting pressure over how the school has handled reports of rape and assault by football players, saying no decision has yet been made. The sports website HornsDigest.com was the first news outlet to report that the board had decided to fire Starr. Sources close to the University also confirmed the report to KCEN-TV. Starr and football coach Art Briles have faced sharp criticism on whether Baylor ignored allegations of assaults by players, two of whom were later convicted of sexual assault.
Vox, How Bernie Sanders is using the "platform committee" to change the Democratic Party from within, Jeff Stein, May 24, 2016. Bernie Sanders has been characterized throughout his career as an idealistic outsider with unrealistically far-reaching policy proposals that go far beyond what's politically feasible. It turns out he'd like his top allies at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this July to be of a similar cast.
On Monday, after a major concession from the Democratic National Committee gave him the ability to do so, Sanders announced his five choices for the "platform committee" that will write the party's officials positions. His selections — radical black intellectual Cornel West and hardcore climate activist Bill McKibben, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison, Muslim rights spokesperson James Zogby, and Native American tribal rights leader Deborah Parker — are primarily progressive firebrands known, like Sanders, for rejecting half-measures and seeking to exert pressure from outside the mainstream.
The rest of the committee will include six members chosen by Hillary Clinton and four chosen by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. So, for practical purposes, it's not clear how much Sanders's choices will really be able to rewrite the party platform.
New York Times, Israeli Political Deal Puts Hard-Liner in Charge of Defense, Isabel Kershner, May 25, 2016. Avigdor Lieberman has taken an aggressive stance against Hamas and has called for the ouster of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
Washington Post, Trump accuses New Mexico’s Republican governor of not doing her job, Jenna Johnson, May 25, 2016. Despite his promise to unite the Republican Party, Donald Trump attacked New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez — the chairwoman of the Republican Governor’s Association — on Tuesday night and accused her of “not doing the job." Martinez has been critical of Trump and did not attend his Tuesday night rally at a convention center in Albuquerque, telling the local media she was “really busy” running the state.
New York Post, The Truth About the 9/11 Victims’ Bill, Terry Strada, Curtis F. Brewer, Jim Kreindler, Sean Carter and Bob Haefele, May 25, 2016. We are the family members of 9/11 victims, alongside the legal counsel for thousands of others 9/11 families. We write to address numerous mischaracterizations and omissions in Paul Sperry’s fairytale column from Wednesday’s Post as it relates to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which ran under the sensational and inaccurate title “Schumer Upends Saudi 9/11 Suit Bill at 11th Hour.” This column was completely unfair to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), shown in a file photo,, and a terrible misrepresentation of what the senator and all of us are fighting for. To be clear:
1) The stay provision included in JASTA does not de-fang the bill; and 2) The stay provision was not offered by Sen. Schumer, but rather by Republican members who had raised objections to the bill.
In fact, Sen. Schumer has been the steadfast champion of JASTA since he initially introduced the bill nearly seven years ago, and he has fought since that time to ensure that victims of terrorist attacks on US soil, including the 9/11 families and victims, have access to our courts to hold all sponsors of terrorism accountable, including foreign governments.
Washington Post, Trump’s feuding fuels doubts about his ability to unite GOP, Jose A. DelReal and Jenna Johnson, May 25, 2016. With a fresh string of attacks on members of the Republican establishment, Donald Trump doesn’t appear interested in extending olive branches to his foes and vanquished opponents, who could be crucial allies for the general election.
New York Times, New York Times Co. to Offer Buyouts to Employees, Katie Rogers, May 25, 2016. The New York Times will offer voluntary buyout packages to members of the newsroom and several business departments at the end of the month, the company announced on Wednesday. The news follows an announcement last week from Mr. Baquet that The Times was not planning layoffs for the calendar year, but would be taking other measures to cut costs in some areas and dedicate resources to others, like recent efforts to expand international coverage significantly.
The announcement comes at a time of upheaval in the news industry after a period of ambitious growth. As media companies struggle to compensate for plummeting advertising revenue, announcements of layoffs and restructuring plans have become the norm. On Tuesday, Vice Media announced that it would lay off more than a dozen employees, after a string of similar reorganization efforts undertaken at organizations like Mashable and The Guardian.
Washington Post, FBI director urges police and civilians to ‘see each other’ more clearly, Ellen Nakashima, May 25, 2016. FBI Director James B. Comey, speaking at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church here Wednesday, urged police and civilians to “open our hearts and our minds and see each other” more clearly. “We still confront the status quo of separate lives,” he said, speaking from the same pulpit at which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, urging nonviolent resistance to segregation.
“It’s hard to hate up close,” he continued, as the congregation — black and white, police, civic leaders and church members — murmured in assent. “It’s hard to hate someone you know, someone whose life you begin to understand.” Comey (shown in an official photo) stood in the same church where King in May 1963 prayed with black youngsters before they marched in a peaceful protest that ended with the children — some as young as 6 — being assaulted by police, with many then spending several days in jail. To his left was the stained-glass window that remained intact during the September 1963 bombing — but for the face of Jesus, which was blown out.
Comey recalled that King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” written from his cell in 1963, was one of the texts that most influenced him. Comey also acknowledged the FBI’s checkered history during the civil rights era, in particular its covert monitoring and wiretapping of King, whom FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover suspected of communist influence. He noted that on his desk, he keeps a copy of an October 1963 memo from Hoover to Robert F. Kennedy, then the attorney general, asking for permission to bug King’s phone calls: “I keep it there in that spot to remind me of what we in the FBI are responsible for, and what we as humans are capable of, and why it is vital that power always be checked, overseen and constrained.”
Tampa Bay Times, Seffner man fined $48,000 by FCC for using cell phone jammer on daily commute, May 25, 2016. A man who used a cell phone jamming device on his daily commute to and from Tampa now faces a $48,000 fine, issued Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC said Jason R. Humphreys illegally interfered with cellular service along Interstate 4 and disrupted police communications for up to two years. "This case highlights the danger posed to public safety by use of a single signal jamming device, which can disrupt all wireless and public safety communications in the area," the FCC said.
President Barack Obama makes a point during a meeting with senior staff in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 18, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
Washington Post, Obama promised transparency. But his administration is one of the most secretive, Margaret Sullivan, May 24, 2016. Some things just aren’t cool. One of those, according to our no-drama president, is ignorance. “It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about,” President Obama said during his recent Rutgers University commencement address. It was a swipe clearly intended for he-who-didn’t-need-to-be-named: Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president.
But the Obama administration itself has been part of a different know-nothing problem. It has kept the news media — and therefore the public — in the dark far too much over the past 7 1/2 years. After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, this has been one of the most secretive. And in certain ways, one of the most elusive. It’s also been one of the most punitive toward whistleblowers and leakers who want to bring light to wrongdoing they have observed from inside powerful institutions.
President Barack Obama walks out of the Oval Office to the White House Colonnade, May 19, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
Remarkably, Post news reporters haven’t been able to interview the president since late 2009. Think about that. The Post is, after all, perhaps the leading news outlet on national government and politics, with no in-depth, on-the-record access to the president of the United States for almost all of his two terms. I couldn’t get anyone in the White House press office to address this, despite repeated attempts by phone and email — which possibly proves my point.
See also: RealClearPolitics, Obama Meets the Press...On His Terms, Martha Joynt Kumar, Aug. 29, 2015.
AP via Washington Post, Judge: Law trimming early voting in Ohio is unconstitutional, Ann Sanner, May 24, 2016. A law trimming early voting in Ohio is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case involving a series Republican-backed voting changes in the presidential battleground state.
Washington Post, The race-infused history of why felons aren’t allowed to vote in a dozen states, Janell Ross, May 24, 2016. Republicans in Virginia are suing to keep their state's law on the books.
The Hill, Dems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz, Alexander Bolton, Democrats on Capitol Hill are discussing whether Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should step down as Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman before the party’s national convention in July. Democrats backing likely presidential nominee Hillary Clinton worry Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo from the Medill News Service) has become too divisive a figure to unify the party in 2016, which they say is crucial to defeating presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Wasserman Schultz has had an increasingly acrimonious relationship with the party’s other presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters, who argue she has tilted the scales in Clinton’s favor.
New York Times, Fearing a Last-Minute Obstacle in a Push to Release 9/11 Findings, Carl Hulse, May 23, 2016.After years of frustration, proponents of releasing 28 classified pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks were seeing real progress in their push for disclosure of findings that are said to show high-level Saudi Arabian support for the hijackers.
“We seem to be coming to a point of decision as to whether to release it or not and in what form,” said Bob Graham, the former Democratic senator from Florida, who served as a co-chairman of the 2002 inquiry and has made disclosure of the pages a personal cause since leaving Congress.
But last-minute obstacles, often by design, have a way of cropping up in Washington and slowing things down. Mr. Graham hopes he is not seeing an example of that, he said, after suggestions from James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, that Congress will ultimately be left to decide what to do with the pages once intelligence officials finish a review as early as next month.
That approach — first raised in a private meeting last week among Mr. Clapper, Mr. Graham and lawmakers — took Mr. Graham by surprise. It threatens to add a new layer of complexity to a process that those backing the release thought was reaching its long-sought end.
New York Times, Far-Right Candidate Narrowly Loses Austrian Election, Alison Smale, May 23, 2016. Alexander Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old economics professor and former Green Party leader, won Austria’s cliffhanger presidential election on Monday, defeating his far-right rival by the slimmest of margins.
Mr. Van der Bellen’s victory was announced by the interior minister, Wolfgang Sobotka. Mr. Van der Bellen won 50.3 percent of the vote, and Mr. Hofer 49.7 percent, a difference of about 30,000 votes. The far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer, conceded defeat on his Facebook page, writing: “Of course I am sad today. I would so gladly have taken care for our wonderful country for you as president.” He added: “The effort for this campaign is not lost, but an investment in the future.”
The result averted the prospect of the first right-wing populist head of state in post-Nazi Europe taking office in a democratic election. But the close result illustrated how deeply divided Austria is between left and right, and how thoroughly the centrist elites who have run the country since 1945 have fallen from public grace.
Middle East Eye, Scores dead in IS attacks on Syrian government's coastal stronghold, Staff report, May 23, 2016. Death toll stands at over 140 as hospitals call for blood donors following 'unprecedented' multiple bombings in Tartus and Jableh
New York Times, Suicide Attacks Hit 2 Syrian Cities in Assad Stronghold, Killing Scores, Ben Hubbard and Maher Samaan, May 23, 2016. Two teams of suicide attackers launched coordinated assaults on Monday deep inside Syrian government territory, killing scores of people in a relatively secure region where support for President Bashar al-Assad runs high. The attacks, on bus stations and the emergency department of a public hospital, seemed to target civilians in a religiously diverse area whose population has doubled as Syrians from elsewhere in the country have sought refuge from violence in their own communities.
The attacks also appeared to reflect the changing tactics of the Islamic State as its military fortunes have dimmed. Having lost significant territory from their self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, they have turned their focus to external expansion while stepping up suicide bombings against civilian targets in places like Baghdad.
The attacks shattered the relative calm in two cities, Jableh and Tartus, both on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, a region where support for Mr. Assad remains strong and where militant attacks and rebel activity have been rare. While the concentration of Alawites is high, the area also has large populations of Christians and other Muslims.
Voice of America, US General's Surprise Visit to Kurds Prompts Syrian Rebels' Fury, Jamie Dettmer, May 23, 2016. A visit by a top U.S. military commander to northeast Syria to confer with Kurdish commanders and plot the next stage in the battle against the Islamic State group has provoked the anger of Syrian rebel commanders, who accuse the Obama administration of giving up on the Syrian revolution.
In interviews with VOA Monday, the Syrian rebels warned that the U.S.-led international coalition’s strategy is creating the circumstances for future sectarian violence between Arabs and Kurds by turning to the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, to liberate Arab majority towns from Islamic State. The warning came in the wake of an unannounced 11-hour trip to Kurdish-controlled northern Syria Saturday by General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command.
Votel (shown in an official photo) told Pentagon correspondents who accompanied him that the U.S. had to work with the allies it has on the ground against IS and that the defeat of the jihadist group remains for Washington the clear military priority — not the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
The SDF's Arab militias, several of whom have checkered histories, at best represent about 20 percent of the total SDF force, which can field about 30,000 fighters. Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders, however, insist the number of Arab fighters in the SDF is much lower than the claimed 5,000 to 10,000.
White House Chronicle, The Great Middle Class Awakening and Its Torchbearer, Llewellyn King, May 22, 2016. The middle class has been taking a shellacking for years. It began in the 1970s, when the business and political elites separated from the people and it has been accelerating ever since, according to Hedrick Smith, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and editor, an Emmy award-winning PBS producer and correspondent, and a bestselling author. In short, an establishment figure.
But Smith is not a polemicist. He uses the reporter's tools, honed over decades in Moscow and Washington and on big stories, like the civil rights movement and the fall of the Soviet Union, to make his points against the assault on the middle class.It all began with Smith's looking into what was happening to American manufacturing, which led to his explosive 2012 book, “Who Stole the American Dream?” Encouraged by the book's success, he created a Web site, ReclaimTheAmericanDream.org, which now has a substantial following. In the past three years, he has lectured at over 50 universities and other platforms on his big issue: the abandonment of the middle class by corporate America and its corrupted political allies.
Middle East Eye, Negotiations to expand Israeli government hit 'dead end,' Staff report, May 23, 2016. Yisrael Beitenu's Lieberman deadlocks with Kulanu party head and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over pension reform.
Anti War via Global Research, Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany, Uri Avnery, May 23, 2016. Uri Avnery is a peace activist, journalist, writer, and former member of the Israeli Knesset.General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, made a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. Wearing his uniform, he read a prepared, well-considered text that triggered an uproar which has not yet died down. Dozens of articles have been published in its wake, some condemning him, some lauding him. Seems that nobody could stay indifferent. The main sentence was:
“If there is something that frightens me about the memories of the Holocaust, it is the knowledge of the awful processes which happened in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding traces of them here in our midst, today, in 2016.”
Politico, Supreme Court finds jury tainted by race in murder case, Josh Gerstein, May 23, 2016. The Supreme Court Monday took a major step towards overturning a Georgia murder convict's death sentence by ruling that prosecutors impermissibly allowed racial considerations to taint the jury selection process. The shorthanded court ruled, 7-1, in favor of Timothy Foster, who was convicted of murder after a trial in 1987.
Decades after the trial, Foster used the Georgia Open Records Act to obtain a copy of the prosecution's file, which included numerous notes showing that prosecutors were keeping track of which jurors were African American and seemed to be trying to minimize the number of blacks on the jury.
Washington Post, Baltimore officer acquitted on all counts in Freddie Gray case, Joe Heim and Rachel Weiner, May 23, 2016. Baltimore police officer Edward M. Nero was acquitted of all four charges filed against him in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody last year. Nero was among six officers charged in the case, which sparked riots.
CNN, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe under federal investigation for campaign contributions, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown, May 23, 2016. Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department's public integrity unit, U.S. officials briefed on the probe say. The investigation dates to at least last year and has focused, at least in part, on whether donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated the law, the officials said.
As part of the probe, the officials said, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe's time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton. There's no allegation that the foundation did anything improper; the probe has focused on McAuliffe and the electoral campaign donations, the officials said.
Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang, through his U.S. businesses. Wang was previously delegate to China's National People's Congress, the country's ceremonial legislature. "Neither the Governor nor his former campaign has knowledge of this matter, but as reported, contributions to the campaign from Mr. Wang were completely lawful," said the governor's spokesman.
CommlLawBlog, And the NSMA Fellow Award Goes To …FHH lawyer and CommLawBlog contributor Mitchell Lazarus recognized, FHH Law, May 22, 2016. The National Spectrum Management Association (NSMA) is an organization of “like minded individuals who take spectrum and regulatory issues very seriously.” Many of its members have been in the spectrum business for decades. Proper stewardship of the spectrum, says their website, is not just “their job but it’s also their avocation and their baby.” When it comes to spectrum management, these folks are the real deal.
So we are extremely pleased and proud to advise our readers that NSMA has recognized FHH’s own Mitchell Lazarus with the 2015 NSMA Fellow Award for his “selfless contributions to the promotion of the efficient use and management of the wireless telecommunications frequency spectrum.” The award was presented only recently because, as readers may recall, at the time of last year’s NSMA annual meeting in May, 2015, Mitch was dealing with cancer treatment. Happily for all concerned, that treatment was successful and he is with us, both to accept the award and to continue those same selfless contributions for which NSMA honored him.
BuzzFeed, Yale Professor Responds To Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct, Katie J.M. Baker, May 22, 2016. Yale University philosophy professor Thomas Pogge has responded to a recent BuzzFeed News investigation into claims that he sexually harassed at least two students and abused his position to gain sexual advantage with other young women in his field.
In a six-page letter, published on a university blogging platform, Pogge limited his comments to allegations by one student, Fernanda Lopez Aguilar, who graduated from Yale in 2010. She said Pogge sexually harassed her and then retaliated against her by rescinding an offer of a fellowship at the foundation he leads.
“None of the alleged misconduct ever took place,” Pogge wrote. Pogge was Lopez Aguilar’s senior thesis advisor. He offered her a postgraduate fellowship at Yale’s Global Justice Program, which he founded and directs. The summer after graduation, she accompanied him to a conference in Chile as his interpreter. During the trip, she claimed in a recent federal complaint, Pogge booked them a single hotel room to share, flirted with her, and pressed himself against her while grabbing her breast and her leg. Afterwards, he said he had never meant to offer her a paid position, and that her subsequent sexual harassment claim was an attempt to elicit money from him.
Washington Post, Israeli defense minister resigns citing 'dangerous elements' in government, William Booth, May 20, 2016. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to remake his governing coalition has set heads spinning — dumping his well-regarded defense minister to possibly bring aboard a polarizing maverick with few friends in Washington.
Definitely out: Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who resigned his post on Friday. On the way to the door, Yaalon blasted Netanyahu (shown in a file photo), saying he has lost confidence in the prime minister’s decision-making and morals.
Maybe in: Avigdor Lieberman. He’s a former foreign minister and current leader of an ultranationalist political party built around the 1 million Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel. Israeli pundits previously called the current Netanyahu government the most right-wing in history, but this new coalition, if formed, will take the title.
WND, Saudi paper: U.S. carried out 9/11 attacks, Staff report, May 20, 2016. Accusation comes as victims' families fight to sue kingdom. While the families of 9/11 victims called for the declassification of evidence that members of the Saudi monarchy helped fund the attacks, a Saudi newspaper turned the table, blaming the United States for the worst terrorist massacre on its soil.
Saudi legal expert Katib Al-Shammari, writing in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat on April 28, charged that the U.S. carried out the 9/11 attacks while placing blame on others, beginning with al-Qaida and the Taliban, then shifting to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and now Saudi Arabia. “The U.S. created, in public opinion, an obscure enemy – terrorism – which became what American presidents blamed for all their mistakes,” Shammari wrote. Excerpts of the article were translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Reuters, Egypt finds belongings, debris from plane crash at sea, Ahmed Aboulenein, May 20, 2016. The Egyptian navy has found wreckage from EgyptAir Flight MS804. The debris were found approximately 180 miles off the coast from Alexandria and search crews are now looking for the black box flight recorders.
The 66 people aboard the plane are presumed dead. There is still no confirmation that the plane was brought down by a terrorist attack and satellite imagery showed no sign of an explosion from the time of the plane’s abrupt descent, but the Egyptian minister of aviation told reporters today that terrorism is still the most likely cause of the crash.
Gary Null Show, Part One of Conversations with Remarkable Minds featuring Danny Sheehan, Gary Null, May 20, 2016 (70 min.). Part Two of Conversations with Remarkable Minds featuring public interest lawyer and author Daniel Sheehan, a Constitutional and public interest lawyer, public speaker and educator. Over the last forty-five years he has participated in numerous legal cases of public interest, including the Pentagon Papers Case, the Watergate Break-In Case, the Silkwood Case, the Iran-Contra Scandal and others. He established the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, two non-profit public policy centers. Sheehan published The People's Advocate, a memoir, in 2013 through Counterpoint publishing.
He is the founder of the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, the latter being a nonprofit public policy center in Santa Cruz California. Danny has his law degree from Harvard University and later returned to study at the Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of “The People’s Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America’s Most Fearless Public Defense Lawyer,” and his websites are DanielPSheehan.com and RomeroInstitute.org.
Buzzfeed, Ethics and the Eye of the Beholder, Katie J.M. Baker, May 20, 2016. Thomas Pogge, one of the world’s most prominent ethicists, stands accused of manipulating students to gain sexual advantage. Did the fierce champion of the world’s disempowered abuse his own power?
When Thomas Pogge travels around the world, he finds eager young fans waiting for him in every lecture hall. The 62-year-old German-born professor, a protégé of the philosopher John Rawls, is bespectacled and slight of stature. But he’s a giant in the field of global ethics, and one of only a small handful of philosophers who have managed to translate prominence within the academy to an influential place in debates about policy.
A self-identified “thought leader,” Pogge directs international health and anti-poverty initiatives, publishes papers in leading journals, and gives TED Talks. His provocative argument that wealthy countries, and their citizens, are morally responsible for correcting the global economic order that keeps other countries poor revolutionized debates about global justice. He’s also a dedicated professor and mentor, at Yale University — where he founded and directs the Global Justice Program, a policy and public health research group — as well as at other prestigious institutions worldwide. By Pogge’s own count, he’s taught 34 graduate seminars, given 1,218 lectures in 46 countries, and supervised 66 doctoral dissertations.
But a recent federal civil rights complaint describes a distinction unlikely to appear on any curriculum vitae: It claims Pogge uses his fame and influence to manipulate much younger women in his field into sexual relationships. One former student said she was punished professionally after resisting his advances.
Thom Hartmann Show via YouTube, Congressman Says 'Release The 28 Missing Pages!" Thom Hartmann, May 20, 2016. Thom speaks with Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) about the missing pages of the 911 Report and what he knows about who was behind the attack. This Congressman is saying what is in the 28 pages and he also says that he knows one member of Congress that was "denied" access!!! He also says the 28 pages shows names, account numbers, and all that on who did 911 attacks...etc...whoa!!
CNN, Maryland delegate for Trump charged with child pornography and possession of illegal gun and explosives, Evan Perez, May 20, 2016. A Maryland man who was elected as a delegate for Donald Trump to the Republican National Convention has been charged with creation and possession of child pornography and possession of an illegal gun and explosives.
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt greet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2014, with Secretary of State John Kerry in the background.
American Conservative, Clinton’s Hawk-in-Waiting, Philip Giraldi, May 19, 2016. If Hillary wins the White House, expect Victoria Nuland to be at her side. Nuland is one of Hillary Clinton’s protégés at the State Department, and she is also greatly admired by hardline Republicans. This suggests she would be easily approved by Congress as secretary of state or maybe even national-security adviser — which in turn suggests that her foreign-policy views deserve a closer look.
The other day, a question popped up on a Facebook thread I was commenting on: “Where is Victoria Nuland?” The short answer, of course, is that she is still holding down her position as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
But a related question begs for a more expansive response: Where will Victoria Nuland be after January? Nuland is one of Hillary Clinton’s protégés at the State Department, and she is also greatly admired by hardline Republicans. This suggests she would be easily approved by Congress as secretary of state or maybe even national-security adviser—which in turn suggests that her foreign-policy views deserve a closer look.
Nuland comes from what might be called the First Family of Military Interventionists. Her husband, Robert Kagan, is a leading neoconservative who co-founded the Project for the New American Century in 1998 around a demand for “regime change” in Iraq. He is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an author, and a regular contributor to the op-ed pages of a number of national newspapers. He has already declared that he will be voting for Hillary Clinton in November, a shift away from the GOP that many have seen as a clever career-enhancing move for both him and his wife.
Reader Supported News, Joshua Holland, The Nation's Truth Nazi, Needs to Calm Down, Bob Fitrakis, May 19, 2016. Robert Fitrakis is shown above in a Justice Integrity Project photo during a congressional briefing last month on unethical voting suppression techniques used around the nation for partisan purposes. He is a professor, attorney, author and newspaper editor based in Columbus, OH.
Dear Mr. Holland:
After studying and assessing your work this semester, it is with deep regret that I have to inform you that you failed Political Science Statistics 101.
As you know, you have characterized us as “conspiracy theorists” because in our "Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft," Harvey Wasserman and I have suggested that exit polls matter. You have also publicly denounced our colleague Richard Charnin, who has two separate Master’s degrees in Applied Mathematics, for his analysis of this year’s primary exit poll results versus election results.
Since you show so little interest in statistical analysis, let me briefly go over what you should know: First of all, exit polls are the accepted international standard for indications of election fraud and vote tampering. Here I refer you to Eric Bjornlund and Glenn Cowan’s 2011 pamphlet, "Vote Count Verification: a User’s Guide for Funders, Implementers and Stakeholders." Their work, done under the auspices of Democracy International for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), outlines how exit polling is used to ensure free and fair elections.
JFKFacts.org, Hardway declaration: how CIA stonewalled our JFK investigation, Jefferson Morley (shown at right in a file photo), May 19, 2016. In a new sworn declaration filed in federal court, former JFK investigator Dan Hardway tells the story of how the CIA stonewalled him and other investigators for the House Select Committee of Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978.
Hardway’s first-person account is perhaps the clearest accounts of how the CIA obstructed Congress’s attempt to investigate JFK’s assassination in 1978 since Gaeton Fonzi’s book, The Last Investigation. Hardway adds new detail to the story Fonzi told by detailing the obstructionist tactics of George Joannides that he personally experienced.
Hardway (shown in a file photo) also documents the “public benefit” of disclosures forced by my Freedom of Information Action lawsuit, Morley v. CIA, now in its 13th year. The court is now considering the issue of whether the government has to pay the legal fees of my attorney James Lesar, who prevailed over government attorney’s three times during the course of the litigation.
Hardway’s declaration highlights how Joannides prevented the HSCA from clarifying the relationship between the CIA and the Cuban Student Directorate, an agency-funded anti-Castro group whose members had contact with Lee Oswald in the summer of 1963. Hardway notes that the HSCA didn’t probe the issue in 1978 because CIA “had firmly represented to the HSCA that all ties between the DRE and the CIA had been terminated prior to1963.”
That representation was false, as the records from Joannides’ personnel file, which I obtained in the lawsuit, demonstrate. In fact, Joannides served as case office for the DRE from April 1962 to May 1964.
Hardway also highlights one of the key documents that the CIA is withholding: a job evaluation, written September 20, 1978, “not long after Mr. Joannides began his job undercover as liaison with the HSCA." See Hardway declaration here.
New York Daily News, Donald Trump accuses Bill Clinton of ‘rape’ in Fox News interview, Reuven Blau, May 19, 2016. Donald Trump made reference to "rape," "massive settlements" in relation to former President Bill Clinton during an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump accused Bill Clinton of “rape” in a Fox News interview that aired Wednesday.
“For example, I looked at The New York Times. Are they going to interview Juanita Broaddrick? Are they going to interview Paula Jones? Are they going to interview Kathleen Willey?” Sean Hannity said. “In one case, it’s about exposure. In another case, it’s about groping and fondling and touching against a woman’s will.” "And rape" Trump said. "And rape," Hannity echoed. "And big settlements, massive settlements" Trump continued.
Arzu Yildaz, imprisoned Turkish journalist and mother
RT, Female Turkish journo loses custody of children after leaking video from Syria arms smuggling trial, May 19, 2016. Journalist Arzu Yildiz was sentenced to 20 months in jail and lost her parental rights after exposing a video related to a weapons-smuggling scandal denied by the Turkish government, in what her lawyer said was “an act of revenge” by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Nobody can take my children away from me... not even the Sultan himself, let alone the court,” Yildiz told Can Erzincan TV, outside the court in the southern city of Mersin. The journalist’s sentence is related to a 2014 incident in which prosecutors uncovered trucks belonging to MIT, Turkey’s national security agency, smuggling weapons for rebels across the border to Syria. President Erdogan has insisted that the vehicles were carrying humanitarian aid and accused the prosecutors of “treason and espionage,” as well as of being agents of his US-based nemesis Fethullah Gulen.
The prosecutors were arrested and put on trial before a closed court, before being sentenced to prison terms. Yildiz obtained video of the proceedings, however, and posted the prosecutors’ testimonies, which contradicted the government’s claims, on YouTube. She was later charged with breaching court confidentiality.
Washington Post, Trump releases list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees, Jenna Johnson and Robert Barnes, May 18, 2016. While making clear that the list pertains only to the seat formerly occupied by Antonin Scalia (shown in an official photo), the Trump campaign aimed to assure Republicans that it was compiled “based on constitutional principles, with input from highly respected conservatives and Republican Party leadership.” Who are the 11 people on Trump’s list for the Supreme Court?
Washington Post, ‘Not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave’: Bezos fires back at Donald Trump, Paul Farhi, May 18, 2016. Amazon.com founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos fired back at presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying on Wednesday that Trump’s criticism of Bezos’s ownership of the newspaper and the threats issued against Amazon are “not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave.”
In an appearance at a Post-sponsored technology conference called Transformers at the paper’s headquarters, Bezos also said that “a company like Amazon deserves to be scrutinized and criticized. I have no worries about that.” But he offered a vigorous defense of freedom of the press: “It’s critical that we be able to carefully examine our leaders.”
New York Times, Bernie Sanders, Eyeing Convention, Willing to Harm Hillary Clinton in the Homestretch, Patrick Healy, Yamiche Alcindor and Jeremy W. Peters, May 18, 2016. Defiant and determined to transform the Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders is opening a two-month phase of his presidential campaign aimed at inflicting a heavy blow on Hillary Clinton in California and amassing enough leverage to advance his agenda at the convention in July — or even wrest the nomination from her.
Advisers to Mr. Sanders said on Wednesday that he was newly resolved to remain in the race, seeing an aggressive campaign as his only chance to pressure Democrats into making fundamental changes to how presidential primaries and debates are held in the future. They said he also held out hope of capitalizing on any late stumbles by Mrs. Clinton or any damage to her candidacy, whether by scandal or by the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump.
After sounding subdued if not downbeat about the race for weeks, Mr. Sanders resumed a combative posture against Mrs. Clinton, demanding on Wednesday that she debate him before the June 7 primary in California and highlighting anew what he asserted were her weaknesses against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Sanders, his advisers said, has been buoyed by a stream of polls showing him beating Mr. Trump by larger margins than Mrs. Clinton in some battleground states, and by his belief that an upset victory in California could have a psychological impact on convention delegates who already have doubts about Mrs. Clinton.
Washington Post, Liberal allies turning on Bernie Sanders after Nevada ruckus, James Hohmann, May 18, 2016. Sanders is quickly becoming a figure every bit as divisive and polarizing among Senate Democrats as Ted Cruz is in the eyes of his Republican colleagues, and there are growing fears that the July convention in Philadelphia could be chaotic, perhaps even violent. Note: See, by contrast, Common Dreams: When the System Feels Rigged, How Surprising is Convention Mayhem?
Washington Post, Is the U.S. war against the Islamic State legally justified? Karoun Demirjian, May 18, 2016. The House is set to vote on it. The measure would require the repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. After years of discussion, the House is set to vote Wednesday on the continued relevance of a war authorization the Obama administration relies on to legally justify the war against the Islamic State.
But the decision to include the amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in the roster of defense policy bill measures has lawmakers who have long angled for such a vote on edge. The amendment doesn’t require Congress to come up with a new, replacement war authorization to cover current conflicts.
Proposed by Rep. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) (shown in an official photo), the measure would require the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, which Congress passed to allow operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, within 90 days of the defense policy bill’s enactme
About Oil and Energy, A new era for Saudi Arabia, Paul J. Sullivan, May 18, 2016. Dr. Paul Sullivan is professor of economics at the National Defense University. Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plans for economic and social transformation contained in "Vision 2030" could cause many problems, including in terms of social order and international relations. From energy to small and medium enterprises, from education to the mass entry of women in the workforce, the country is preparing for an epochal revolution that is expected to lead it towards a future of greater stability and diversification
Justice Integrity Project (via wires services):
Democratic: Clinton 46.8%; Sanders 46.3%;
Democratic: Sanders 53%; Clinton 47%;
Republican: Trump 66%; Kasich 18%; Cruz 16.5%
The Hill, Senate passes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, Jordain Carney, May 17, 2016. The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would allow victims of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, defying vocal opposition from the White House. The upper chamber approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by unanimous consent. White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Obama's opposition to the bill on Tuesday. “Given the concerns we have expressed, it’s difficult to imagine the president signing this legislation,” Earnest said.
The bill would allow victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil or surviving family members to bring lawsuits against nation-states for activities supporting terrorism.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at NATO conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 4, 2012. (Defense Department photo)
Consortium News, The Coming Democratic Crackup, Robert Parry, May 17, 2016. Though the mainstream media is focused on Republican divisions, a more important story could be the coming Democratic crackup, as anti-war Democrats resist Hillary Clinton’s pro-war agenda, writes Robert Parry (shown below in a file photo). He broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
If the Democratic Party presses ahead and nominates hawkish Hillary Clinton for president, it could recreate the conditions that caused the party to splinter in the late 1960s and early 1970s when anti-war and pro-war Democrats turned on one another and opened a path for decades of Republican dominance of the White House.
This new Democratic crackup could come as early as this fall if anti-war progressives refuse to rally behind Clinton because of her neoconservative foreign policy – thus infuriating Clinton’s backers – or it could happen in four years if Clinton wins the White House and implements her militaristic agenda, including expanding the U.S. war in Syria while continuing other wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – and challenging Russia on its borders.
Clinton’s neocon policies in a prospective first term could generate a “peace” challenge similar to the youth-driven uprising against President Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War in 1968.
Washington Post, Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Donald Trump, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, May 17, 2016. The GOP candidate has repeatedly said he barely remembers Felix Sater, but the Russian-born businessman, in previously unreported sworn testimony reviewed by The Post, described a closer relationship.
On the 24th floor of Trump Tower, in an office two floors below Donald Trump, Felix Sater was trying to revive his career. The Russian-born businessman had already done a stint in prison for stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass, and he was now awaiting sentencing for his role in a Mafia-orchestrated stock fraud scheme — all the while serving as a government informant on the mob and mysterious matters of national security.
But Sater (shown in a file photo) and his business partners had an idea: They would build Trump towers in U.S. cities and across the former Soviet bloc. Sater pitched it to Trump, who gave Sater’s company rights to explore projects in Moscow as well as Florida and New York.
Sater’s “Trump card,” as he called it, didn’t work everywhere. The Moscow deal fell apart. But their relationship continued — though just how close they were is now in dispute. Sater said he popped into Trump’s office frequently over a six-year period to talk business. He recalled flying to Colorado with Trump and said that Trump once asked him to escort his children Donald Jr. and Ivanka around Moscow. Sater’s account, which came during a deposition in a libel case Trump brought against a book author, offers new insights into Trump’s relationship with a complicated figure. Sater has both been accused by former business associates of threatening to kill them and praised by top government officials for information that has led to numerous mob convictions and national security gains.
New York Daily News, Donald Trump acted confused in video deposition when asked about former senior advisor, a convicted felon with Mafia ties, Dan Good, Dec. 10, 2015. A newly-revealed video deposition shows real-estate mogul Donald Trump confused when asked under oath about his relationship to a twice-convicted felon with ties to the Mafia.
Trump has long faced allegations of connections to the mob, but his relationship with Felix Sater — who pleaded guilty in 1998 to racketeering in a fraud scheme involving the Genovese and Bonanno crime families — represents a more direct link between the presidential candidate and organized crime. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn't know what he looked like,” Trump testified in the video deposition, which was obtained by ABC News.
But Trump reportedly named Sater as a senior business adviser in 2010. The Russian émigré carried a Trump Organization business card with the title “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump” and appeared in numerous photos with Trump.
ABC-TV, Memory Lapse? Trump Seeks Distance From 'Advisor' With Past Ties to Mafia, Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross, Dec. 10, 2015. (3:17 video). Although he touts his outstanding memory, when Donald Trump was asked under oath about his dealings with a twice-convicted Russian émigré who served prison time and had documented mafia connections, the real estate mogul was at a loss. Even though the man, Felix Sater, had played a role in a number of high-profile Trump-branded projects across the country.
“If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn't know what he looked like,” Trump testified in a video deposition for a civil lawsuit two years ago. In recent weeks, the Republican Presidential candidate has been fending off critics who have accused him of embellishment, insensitivity and in some cases inaccuracy for his descriptions of the Muslim response to 9/11. Trump also dismissed outrage at his purported mocking of a disabled New York Times reporter, saying he simply does not remember meeting the scribe. Away from the spotlight, Donald Trump has also been seeking to minimize his past business ties with Sater, the Russian émigré who appeared in photos with Trump, and carried a Trump Organization business card with the title “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”
Washington Post, More than 30 states offer online voting, but experts warn it isn’t secure, Sari Horwitz, May 17, 2016. In Alaska, for example, all voters can submit an absentee elections ballot online from computers in their own homes. There were no states with online voting in 2000. Now, there are 32 states with some form of electronic transmission of ballots over the Internet.
Washington Post, Donald Trump: Stonewaller, shape-shifter, liar, Ruth Marcus, May 17, 2016. The past few weeks have offered Americans a chilling glimpse of three faces of Donald Trump: the stonewaller, the shape-shifter and the liar. Trump the stonewaller has been on display in his refusal to release his tax returns. “It’s none of your business,” Trump flatly told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos when asked about his effective tax rate.
Center for Public Integrity, Death threats directed at elections regulator, Dave Levinthal, May 17, 2106. FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel targeted for views on Internet regulation In October 2014, then-Federal Election Commission Vice Chairwoman Ann Ravel did what she often does: speak her mind about political campaign issues. “A re-examination of the Commission's approach to the Internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue,” Ravel, a Democrat, wrote in lamenting a deadlocked commission vote over whether an Ohio-based business group must include disclaimers on political ads it posted for free on YouTube.com.
Ravel’s recent vote to sanction conservative filmmaker Joel Gilbert for alleged violations of federal election laws — the FEC deadlocked on the matter — have prompted a new round of hate mailers to, in recent weeks, call her a “communist c---sucking b----” and wish her “the worst for you and yours.”
Such vitriol and vulgarity, while commonplace for high-profile politicians such as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, were previously unknown to federal election regulators who many congressional representatives — to say nothing of average Americans — couldn’t identify by name or face.
While FEC commissioners of late often clash along ideological lines and bicker among themselves, several current and former FEC commissioners interviewed said they’ve never once experienced hate-filled communications of the sort Ravel has received.
Guardian, Kerry and Lavrov chair Vienna meeting aimed at kickstarting Syria peace effort, Ian Black, May 17, 2016. Optimism in short supply at meeting of International Syria Support Group, which hopes to patch up partial ceasefire agreement. Efforts to stabilize a Syrian ceasefire and restart stalled peace talks face an uphill struggle in Vienna as the external powers most deeply involved in the crisis try to narrow their differences.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state (shown above in an official photo), and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister (shown below with Kerry in a file photo), are co-chairing a meeting of the International Syria Support Group on Tuesday in an attempt to patch up an agreement reached in February on a cessation of hostilities and expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas.
As well as the UK, France, the EU and the Arab League, the 17-member group includes Saudi Arabia and Turkey – which are seeking the overthrow of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad – and Iran, his most important regional ally. Neither the Syrian government nor opposition are taking part. Kerry spent the weekend in Jeddah in an apparent effort to persuade the Saudis to ensure that the anti-Assad rebels they support go along with the latest diplomatic effort, despite them having walked out of the last round of Geneva talks.
Associated Press via Fox News, Russians building army base at Syria's Palmyra site, Staff report, May 17, 2016. The Russian military is constructing a new army base in the central Syrian town of Palmyra, within the protected zone that holds the archaeological site listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site and without asking for permission from relevant authorities, an American heritage organization and a top Syrian archaeologist said Tuesday.
Vice (Motherboard), Wikipedia Editor Says Site’s Toxic Community Has Him Contemplating Suicide, Jason Koebler, May 17, 2016. A longtime Wikipedia editor wrote an email to a large public mailing list Tuesday, saying he was contemplating suicide due to online abuse by his fellow Wikipedians. "Nobody on Wikipedia seems to be kind," he wrote. "You are all so busy power tripping that you forget there is a real, live person on the other side." He lamented that obstructionism by other editors stopped him from contributing to the site's "great mission -- one I feel so keenly."
The email was sent to the Wikimedia-L mailing list, which is one of the largest community-run Wikimedia mailing lists and has hundreds of subscribers. The editor was upset after an ongoing disagreement with other editors on the "talk" pages of an article about a local politician. The debate devolved into name-calling, the editor wrote, and eventually he was completely banned from editing the site he had devoted so much time to.
Truthout via Buzzflash, Meet the Man Who Created a PR Cult for Right-Wingers, Bill Berkowitz, May 17, 2016. Meet Rex Elsass (shown in file photo), who in an excellent profile by Jason Zengerle in the March issue of GQ, is described as "the most powerful Republican operative you've never heard of."
Politico, Donald Trump faces June deposition in restaurant lawsuit, Josh Gerstein, May 17, 2016. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears likely to be forced off the campaign trail in June to be deposed under oath in at least one of two lawsuits he filed after prominent chefs backed away from plans to open restaurants at the luxury Trump International Hotel under development in Washington.
A D.C. Superior Court judge approved a plan Tuesday to briefly extend court deadlines to allow Trump to give testimony June 16 in the case Trump's development company filed against a firm set up by restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian to open a dining establishment called "The National."
New Republic, Is Mike Hubbard the Most Corrupt Politician in America? Joe Miller, May 16, 2016. The speaker of the Alabama House goes on trial this month, in a case that offers a lurid glimpse into the state’s machine politics. The story of Mike Hubbard (shown above in a Facebook photo) sounds like an only-in-Alabama joke: A politician runs a statewide campaign against corruption, wins big, quickly passes some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation, then gets skewered by those very laws. But the case against Hubbard, the Speaker of the Alabama House, is no laughing matter. Even in a place where political corruption is as much a part of the landscape as kudzu, the extensiveness and brazenness of his alleged crimes have stunned even longtime followers of politics in the state.
Hubbard wowed the national Republican Party in 2010 when he masterminded a GOP takeover of all branches of government in the Yellowhammer State. Before Hubbard came along, the legislature had been controlled by Democrats for 136 years, since Reconstruction. Two years later, a grand jury delivered 23 felony indictments against him. The trial, which begins its jury selection today, will offer a rare view into the greasy gears of Republican machine politics, showing in exquisite detail how the state of Alabama has been turned into a single-party vehicle for graft.
Boston Globe, Don’t make a federal case out of it, Wendy Kaminer, May 16, 2016. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (shown in a file photo) seems poised to win a Supreme Court appeal of his federal conviction for bribery and extortion, to the dismay of good government advocates. McDonnell was convicted of accepting $177,000 in gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams who sought and received the governor’s help in promoting a dietary supplement. Reversal of this conviction will effectively legalize bribery, reformers assert.
Not exactly. Virginia law did not prohibit McDonnell’s conduct. The central question before the Supreme Court is not whether that conduct should be legal but whether it was illegal under federal anti-corruption statutes.
The legal intricacies aside, the McDonnell case raises a broader question: When is politics as usual a federal crime? Such intrusions can facilitate corruption more dangerous than the corruption they aim to contain.
Consider the case of Don Siegelman, former Alabama governor, currently completing a seven-year sentence under a federal conviction for bribery, for reappointing to a state board a donor to a state lottery campaign.
Siegelman is a Democrat; his prosecutors were Republican appointees, and there was ample evidence that his controversial 2004 prosecution for what was at worst routine patronage was politically motivated, undertaken partly at the behest of then White House advisor Karl Rove. Criminalize common political behavior and you’re apt to politicize criminal prosecutions.
Common Dreams, When the System Feels Rigged, How Surprising is Convention Mayhem? Nika Knight, May 16, 2016. Nevada's Democratic convention devolved into mayhem on Saturday as party pushed controversial new rules and disqualified Sanders delegates. The Nevada Democratic convention was overwhelmed by utter turmoil on Saturday after the chair adopted a controversial set of new rules and disqualified 56 Bernie Sanders delegates from participating, handing rival Hillary Clinton a majority of the state's delegates.
This occurred after the Democratic frontrunner lost the state's county level caucuses in April. The chaotic convention, organized and run largely by Clinton supporters, was yet another instance of what many observers have decried as the party's rigging of the primary process in favor of the establishment candidate.
The party's blatant bolstering of Clinton's candidacy, critics say, has been obvious from the outset—and only grows more transparent as the election continues.
RT, Oops! CIA watchdog ‘inadvertently’ destroys its only copy of torture report, Staff food, May 16, 2016. The CIA’s internal watchdog “inadvertently” deleted its only copy of the Senate report on torture techniques employed by the agency in the wake of 9/11 – and did so while the Justice Department was insisting in court that copies were being stored. Other copies still exist, including at the CIA itself, but news of the deletion is significant, as it occurred at the CIA inspector general’s office, which is in charge of overseeing policies and conduct at the agency to ensure that it is not breaking the law or acting out of bounds.
Although the full 6,700-page torture report has never been released to the public, the Senate did release a 500-page executive summary in 2014. The report detailed the CIA’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and more, sparking an outcry from a number of human rights groups.
BBC, Last surviving 'Casablanca' actress Madeleine Lebeau dies, Staff report, May 15, 2015. French actress Madeleine Lebeau, the last surviving cast member of the classic 1942 film "Casablanca," has died at the age of 92. In "Casablanca," Lebeau plays Humphrey Bogart's spurned lover. In a famous scene, she tearfully shouts "Vive La France," after the clientele in Rick's Café sing "La Marseillaise" to drown out singing by German soldiers. Born in 1923 near Paris, she fled Nazi-occupied France with her then husband, prominent actor Marcel Dalio, in 1940.
Syria's war map as of May 2016 (Map by Institute for the Study of War)
BBC, Syria conflict: IS 'overruns hospital in Deir al-Zour,' Sebastian Usher, May 15, 2016. Militants from the Islamic State (IS) group have briefly overrun a hospital complex in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, reports say. Activists say about 35 pro-government fighters were killed and some medical staff taken hostage. More than 20 IS fighters were also reported killed. The attack was centred on al-Assad hospital, to the west of the city.
Government forces retook the hospital after several hours, reports say, but the fate of the hostages is unclear. The latest offensive shows that IS, despite recent setbacks, can still threaten significant government territory. IS controls more than of half of Deir al-Zour. The group has been besieging government-held areas there for two years, trapping about 200,000 civilians.
New York Times, Trump In Private: Women Reveal Decades of Lewd Advances, Staff report, May 14, 2016. The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who had worked with or for Mr. Trump over the past four decades, in the worlds of real estate, modeling and pageants; women who had dated him or interacted with him socially; and women and men who had closely observed his conduct since his adolescence. In all, more than 50 interviews were conducted over the course of six weeks.
Their accounts — many relayed here in their own words — reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections. The interactions occurred in his offices at Trump Tower, at his homes, at construction sites and backstage at beauty pageants. They appeared to be fleeting, unimportant moments to him, but they left lasting impressions on the women who experienced them.
What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait of a wealthy, well-known and provocative man and the women around him, one that defies simple categorization. Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time.
RT, Bill Clinton was Frequent Flier on Pedophile’s Private Jet ‘Lolita Express,’ Staff report, May 14, 2016. Newly released flight logs show Clinton being on convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous plane at least 26 times (earlier reports had the number at 11). Five of the flights were without Secret Service detail, yet there is none of the required paperwork for signing them off.
Washington Post, Inside the GOP effort to draft a third-party candidate to derail Trump, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, May 14, 2016. Desperate anti-Trump Republicans are seeking an independent challenger but keep hearing “no.” Mitt Romney, the 2012 party nominee, is joining the effort to coax reluctant spoilers with only a few weeks left to launch a viable bid.
One related objective is to prevent both Clinton and Trump from clinching a majority in the electoral college and thus throwing the presidential election to the House of Representatives, under the provision of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. This scenario played out in 1824, when Andrew Jackson won a plurality of electoral and popular votes but was defeated in the House by John Quincy Adams.
President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, announcing the signing of the Iran-nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015. (White House photo)
Consortium News, Political Pressure Stymies US-Iran Ties, Gareth Porter, May 14, 2016. Exclusive: With the Iran nuclear agreement, President Obama opened lines of communications to Iran, but political pressures in Washington prevent a more substantive shift in relations. A former Obama administration official has asserted that the Iranian nuclear deal marks a radical break with past U.S. policy, contradicting the official White House stance that the agreement is not leading to a new U.S.-Iran relationship. John Limbert, a Farsi-speaking veteran diplomat who was among the hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and later Professor of Middle Eastern studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran policy during Obama’s first term.
Limbert writes, “Although officials will never admit it, there has been a drastic change in relations, and we are seeing interactions that a few [years] ago were unthinkable.” Limbert recalls that the United States rarely spoke to an Iranian official for 34 years, and that minor incidents between the two states were blown out of proportion, sometimes into crises.
Washington Post, Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself, Marc Fisher and Will Hobson, May 13, 2016. In the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the real estate mogul masqueraded as media spokesman “John Miller” or “John Barron” to talk about himself, according to journalists and several of Trump's top aides. On Friday morning, Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) denied he was John Miller. Fulll text of the ‘John Miller’ interview.
Consortium News, Democrats, Too Clever by Half on Clinton, Robert Parry, May 13, 2016. Last year when Democratic insiders looked forward to Election 2016, they expected a run-of-the-mill Republican, possibly even legacy candidate Jeb Bush. So they countered with their own "safe" next-in-line legacy candidate, Hillary Clinton, who would supposedly win by playing up the prospect of the first woman president.
But the Democratic insiders didn't count on the unlikely emergence of populist billionaire Donald Trump, who repudiated Bush's Iraq War and the GOP's neocon foreign policy and rejected Republican orthodoxy on "entitlement reform," i.e., slashing Social Security and Medicare. The unabashed Trump also has made clear that he is not afraid of countering Clinton's "woman card" by playing his own "man card," including attacks on her troubled marriage and her tolerance of Bill Clinton's notorious womanizing, even claiming that she was her wayward husband's "enabler."
New polls show Trump running neck-and-neck with Clinton nationally and in key battleground states, while other polls reveal strong public doubts about Clinton's honesty, thus wiping the premature smiles off the Democrats' faces.
Washington Post, Former senator: Release the uncensored truth about 9/11, Bob Graham, May 12, 2016 (print edition). Bob Graham, a Democrat shown in an official photo, represented Florida in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to 2005.
Nearly 15 years after the horrific events of 9/11, President Obama must decide whether to release 28 pages of information withheld as classified from the publicly released report of the congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans.
On April 10, the CBS program “60 Minutes” aired a story about the missing 28 pages. I was one of several former public officials — including former House Intelligence Committee chairman and CIA director Porter Goss (R-Fla.) ; Medal of Honor recipient and former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.); former Navy secretary John Lehman; and former ambassador and representative Tim Roemer (D-Ind.) — who called on the White House to declassify and release the documents.
Two days after that broadcast, I received a call from a White House staff member who told me that the president would make a decision about the 28 pages no later than June. While that official made no promises as to what Obama would do, I viewed the news as a step in the right direction.
My optimism about the administration’s action on this critical issue was short-lived. On May 1, when CIA Director John Brennan appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” I watched with astonishment as he argued that the 28 pages should not be released because the American people are incapable of accurately evaluating them.
As co-chair of the Joint Inquiry Into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, I have read the 28 pages. My oath of confidentiality forbids me from discussing the specifics of that material. But while I cannot reveal those details, I strongly believe the American people deserve to know why this issue is so important. All of the references below are from the declassified, public version of the Joint Inquiry’s final report.
Guardian, Saudi officials were 'supporting' 9/11 hijackers, commission member says, Philip Shenon, May 12, 2016. First serious public split revealed among commissioners over the release of the secret ‘28 pages’ that detail Saudi ties to 2001 terrorist attacks. A former Republican member of the 9/11 commission, breaking dramatically with the commission’s leaders, said Wednesday he believes there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees were part of a support network for the 9/11 hijackers and that the Obama administration should move quickly to declassify a long-secret congressional report on Saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack.
Washington Post, Judge strikes down Obama health law insurance subsidy in victory for House GOP, Spencer S. Hsu, May 12, 2016. A federal judge struck down a portion of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act health law on Thursday, ruling that Obama exceeded his executive authority in unilaterally funding a provision that has subsidized billions of dollars of insurers’ costs.
In a 38-page decision, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District stayed the ruling’s effect pending the administration’s certain appeal. Her decision sided with the U.S. House of Representatives, which brought the lawsuit challenging more than $175 billion of spending after a party-line vote by House Republicans in July 2014. The House GOP argued the Obama administration’s decisions to fund payments to reduce deductibles, co-pays and other “cost-sharing” were unconstitutional, saying lawmakers rejected an administration request for funding in 2014.
Obama officials said they withdrew the request and spent the money, arguing the subsidies were covered by an earlier, permanent appropriation. “None of [the administration’s] extra-textual arguments — whether based on economics, ‘unintended’ results, or legislative history — is persuasive,” added Collyer, a 2003 George W. Bush appointee. “The Court will enter judgment in favor of the House of Representatives and enjoin the use of unappropriated monies to fund reimbursements due to insurers under Section 1402.”
New York Times, Mark Lane, Early Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theorist, Dies at 89, Keith Schneider, May 12, 2016. Mark Lane, the defense lawyer, social activist and author who concluded in a blockbuster book in the mid-1960s that Lee Harvey Oswald could not have acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy, a thesis supported in part by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979, died on Tuesday at his home in Charlottesville, VA. He was 89. The cause was a heart attack, his friend and paralegal Sue Herndon said.
The Kennedy assassination, one of the manifest turning points of the 20th century, was the pivotal moment in Mr. Lane’s life and career. He would go on to raise the possibility of conspiracy in the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. five years later, but it was his Kennedy inquiry that made his name. Before the president’s murder on Nov. 22, 1963, Mr. Lane was a minor figure in New York’s legal and political circles.
After the Kennedy murder, Mr. Lane (shown in a 2011 photo) devoted much of the next three decades to its investigation. Almost immediately he began the Citizens’ Committee of Inquiry, interviewed witnesses, collected evidence and delivered speeches on the assassination in the United States and in Europe, where he befriended Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, who became an early supporter of Mr. Lane’s efforts.
Mr. Lane emerged as one of the most important experts on the Kennedy assassination after President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the Warren Commission to investigate it. Mr. Lane testified before the commission in 1964 and was a legal counsel to Marguerite Oswald, the suspect’s mother.
He published the results of his inquiry in August 1966 in “Rush to Judgment,” his first book, which dominated best-seller lists for two years. With a trial lawyer’s capacity to amass facts and a storyteller’s skill in distilling them into a coherent narrative, he asserted that the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald was the lone gunman was incomplete, reckless at times and implausible.
The book raised doubts about Oswald’s marksmanship and the expertise of police agencies, and it sought to ridicule the Warren Commission’s conclusion that one “magic bullet” could have struck and grievously injured President Kennedy and Gov. John Connally of Texas and have still emerged essentially intact.Mr. Lane’s findings were disputed aggressively by the government. Still, the financial success of “Rush to Judgment” and its conclusions prompted the development of a cottage industry of books on the assassination, written both by those who believed in a conspiracy and by those who did not. More than 2,000 such titles were eventually published.
My San Antonio, U.S. Marshal chief for sprawling Texas district resigns under pressure, Guillermo Contreras, May 12, 2016. Robert Almonte, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas, has resigned in the face of allegations that he misused his office. Almonte, who has run the federal law enforcement agency for the San Antonio-based district that stretches to El Paso since 2010, opted to quit, the Justice Department said. The department refused to release any other details.
He had been under investigation for at least two years, accused of misusing his position. In January, the Department of Justice announced it found Almonte used subordinates as his personal driver for non-government related business and violated other ethics regulations.
Donald Trump and longtime butler Anthony Senecal
Daily Beast, The Butler Did It: Trump’s Butler Hates ‘Negroes,’ Wanted to ‘Carpet Bomb’ Ferguson, Called ‘Killery’ Clinton a ‘C**t,’ Asawin Suebsaeng, May 12, 2016. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago butler seemed like a nice old man in a New York Times profile earlier this year. But his Facebook page reveals a racist, Hillary Clinton-hating monster.
Donald Trump’s longtime butler wants President Obama killed — thinks Hillary Clinton is a “LYING DECEIVING C**T !!!!!!!” and that Ferguson, Missouri, should be “carpet bombed.” On Thursday, Mother Jones magazine’s David Corn reported Anthony Senecal, who served as Trump’s butler for 17 years before becoming the real estate mogul’s in-house “historian” at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, has been taking to Facebook to rant about how the current president should be hanged.
“Looks like that sleezey bastard zero (O) is trying to out maneuver Congress again, if the truth be known this prick needs to be hung for treason!!!” Senecal declared on his Facebook page on April 21, 2015.
Minding the Campus, A Champion of Free Speech Takes on the Muzzled Campus, Harvey Silverglate, May 12, 2016. Harvey Silverglate (shown in a file photo) delivered these remarks upon receiving the Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton award Monday, May 9th at a dinner in New York City. Silverglate is a Cambridge attorney, a veteran defender of civil rights and civil liberties, and co-founder, along with University of Pennsylvania professor Alan Charles Kors, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
I have dedicated much of my career to two contests that are consuming our nation, the ramifications of which will impact generations to come as well as the health of the republic itself.
I am referring to, first, the capacity of the criminal law, especially federal law, to turn all of us into criminals, at the government’s whim, for engaging in what to us appear to be the most benign personal and professional actions or inactions.
And, second, the effort, well underway, to destroy the liberal arts university by replacing the quest for human knowledge with the indoctrination of students into truth as it is postulated by self-righteous fanatics who think they have a monopoly on human wisdom, when in fact all they really have monopolized are the levers of academic and administrative power.
Daily Beast, Brazil Gets All-Male, All-White Government, Claire Rigby, May 12, 2016. Following a long night in the Brazilian Senate, where the House voted 55 to 22 to subject President Dilma Rousseff (shown in a file photo) to an impeachment process, Brazil awoke today to a new interim president, former Vice President Michel Temer — and to what critics are heralding as a new phase in the long-running saga of Brazil’s political troubles: a deepening crisis of political representivity.
Politico, Clinton emails: State evolves on when diplomacy is classified, Josh Gerstein, May 12, 2016. The type of diplomatic information that accounts for about 90 percent of the messages now deemed classified in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email account is "routinely" and properly circulated in unclassified channels, the State Department said in a letter sent to the Senate earlier this month. However, State's stance appears to be one the diplomatic agency rejected in another flap over classified information rules about a decade and a half ago.
OpEdNews, Zionist Israel Hides Its Crimes Behind Its Smears of Truth-Tellers, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), May 12, 2016. Currently the Israel Lobby is at work destroying anyone associated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which is an effort to sanction Israel for its genocide against Palestine. The popular musician, Roger Waters, is one of the few brave enough to support this movement. Waters says that many of his colleagues, who protested the Vietnam War and South Africa Apartheid are too "scared shitless of Israel" to protest what former US President Jimmy Carter called Israeli Apartheid.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, Kill TTIP Now, Paul Craig Roberts, May 12, 2016. In his May 9, 2016, speech to European medical professionals, Michael Hudson points out that the result of TTIP for Europe will be the privatization of health care systems with the associated much higher costs. Hudson’s accurate description of TTIP shows that politically powerful corporations have gained the power in Western “democracies” to sacrifice the welfare of all populations to corporate greed for profit regardless of the cost to peoples, countries, and societies.
Counterpunch, The Dangers of Free Trade Agreements: TTIP’s Threat to Europe’s Elderly, Michael Hudson, May 11, 2016. I assume that the reason you have invited me from America is that my country has been doing just about everything wrong in its health care. Its experience may provide an object lesson for what Europe should avoid (and indeed, has avoided up to this point).
The most serious threat to European health care and care for the aging population in general is pressure from U.S. firms and diplomats to ram through the TTIP. It is much more than a free trade agreement. Its “investor dispute” mechanism threatens to disenfranchise governments. The intent is to block them from protecting Europe’s economy, population and basic social philosophy that has developed over the past century of social democracy.
Flagpole, Lee Harvey Oswald and Ted Cruz's Father, Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., May 11, 2016. Donald E. Wilkes, Jr. (shown in a file photo) is a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia where he taught in the iaw school for 40 years. Recently, stunning accusations have been made against Rafael Cruz, father of recent presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz. It is alleged that in New Orleans in 1963 the elder Cruz accompanied Lee Harvey Oswald while Oswald was handing out pro-Fidel Castro “HANDS OFF CUBA!” leaflets.
A majority of the researchers who have studied Lee Harvey Oswald’s short but enigmatic life — LBJ famously described Oswald as “quite a mysterious fellow” — believe it is likely that Oswald was both a CIA operative and an FBI informant. Under this approach, Oswald really was an undercover government agent, not a leftist or a Marxist. When he did such things as hand out pro-Castro leaflets or claim membership in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, he was engaged in sheepdeeping, a term used in the intelligence community to refer to manipulated behavior designed to create a desired image.
It is not improbable that Rafael Cruz, a vocal, militant, activist opponent of Fidel Castro, might have been involved in the CIA’s massive secret anti-Castro activities in New Orleans. Wayne Madsen may well be right in saying that “there is strong reason to believe that Cruz was associated with [the] Central Intelligence Agency’s anti-Castro operations.” If this was the case, Cruz may very well have known that both he and Oswald were undercover American intelligence assets. If so, this would explain why, if he was the man in the photos, he did not, despite his near-fanatical anti-Castroism, loudly remonstrate with a man distributing pro-Castro literature right in front of him.
At any rate, the story of the alleged connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and Rafael Cruz as told and popularized by the National Enquirer is flawed because it rests upon three fundamental factual errors. Contrary to what the Enquirer breathlessly asserts, Cruz was not a “commie;” Oswald was not pro-communist; and Oswald did not assassinate President Kennedy.
Washington Post, Has Donald Trump stolen Paul Ryan’s party out from under him? David A. Fahrenthold, May 11, 2016. On Thursday, the two men will meet in Washington, striving for party unity after Ryan refused to endorse Trump’s presidential bid. When he arrives, Trump will have nearly clinched the GOP nomination by running squarely against Ryan’s vision of what Republicanism is. Trump has constantly changed his mind about what he believes, this is a subject where he’s remained constant. Trump agrees with Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders: No cuts to Medicare.
At the same time, Trump rejects Ryan’s entire style of politics, which uses detailed budget projections to sketch out worries for the future, followed by an appeal for shared sacrifice
Public Broadcasting System (NOVA), Bombing Hitler's Supergun, Discover how Allied forces conspired to destroy one of Hitler’s most diabolical weapons, May 11, 2016 (52:51 min. video). Joseph Kennedy, older brother of the future President John F. Kennedy and son of family patriarch and former U.S. Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, died trying to take out Germany's long-range V3 super gun aimed at London. The younger Kennedy knew of a design flaw in the innovative manned drone he was flying but undertook the mission anyway given the threat posed by Germany's new weapon.
Guardian, Michael Ratner, attorney for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, dies at 72, Staff report, May 10, 2016. Michael Ratner, the civil and human rights attorney who represented Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in the US, died Wednesday at age 72, leaving behind an outsized legacy of advocacy for whistleblowers and US government detainees.
“As an attorney, writer, speaker, educator, activist ... Michael Ratner’s passion was not just for the law but for the struggle for justice and peace,” said the Center for Constitutional Rights, a not-for-profit legal advocacy organization where Ratner worked to bring cases for 45 years. “Michael dedicated his life to the most important fights for justice of the last half century.” Ratner joined CCR in 1971 after graduating from Columbia law school, just a week before the famous prisoner revolt at the Attica correctional facility in upstate New York. The case of the Attica brothers versus then governor Nelson Rockefeller would be Ratner’s first for the organization.
PR Newswire, Mark Lane, Author Of Best-Selling Book, "Rush To Judgment" On President Kennedy's Assassination, Dies At 89, Stephen Jaffe, May 11, 2016. Mark Lane, famed Civil Rights attorney and author of the best-selling book, Rush to Judgment, which detailed the facts of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died late last night at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the age of 89. Lane, who was with his wife, Trish, at the time, suffered a heart attack and collapsed in her arms.
Agence France Press (AFP) via Yahoo, Saudis braced for release of hidden pages of 9/11 report, Dave Clark, May 11, 2016. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, if passed by the Senate, would allow the families of loved ones killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue the Saudi government; fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia is confident nothing in a secret 28-page section of a US congressional report on the September 11 attacks implicates its leaders. But some officials worry its eventual publication -- 15 years after the assault on New York and Washington -- will stir suspicion at a time of tense ties.
New York Times, Clinton, in Shift to Left, Favors Wider Access to Medicare, Alan Rappeport and Margot Sanger-Katz, May 10, 2016. Hillary Clinton said this week that she favored the “public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age.” For months during the Democratic nominating contest, Hillary Clinton has resisted calls from Senator Bernie Sanders to back a single-payer health system, arguing that the fight for government-run health care was a wrenching legislative battle that has already been lost.
But as she tries to clinch the nomination, Mrs. Clinton is lurching to the left on health care and this week took a significant step in her opponent’s direction, suggesting that she would like to give people the option to buy into Medicare. “I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” Mrs. Clinton said at a campaign event in Virginia on Monday.
Mr. Sanders calls his single-payer health care plan “Medicare for all.” What Mrs. Clinton proposed was a sort of Medicare for more. system, Mrs. Clinton has taken a step in his direction. Mrs. Clinton’s suggestion was that perhaps younger Americans, “people 55 or 50 and up,” could voluntarily pay the full cost to join the program.
Washington Post, Sanders, Trump easily win West Virginia primary; Trump picks up Nebraska too, Abby Phillip, John Wagner and Anne Gearan, May 10, 2016. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton may have found a purpose to the races that she is expected to lose this month: to connect with working-class white voters who may be crucial in a general-election battle against Trump.
Democratic: Sanders 51%; Clinton 36%
Republican: Trump 70%; Cruz 9%; Kasich 7%
Democratic: Clinton 57%; Sanders 43%;
Republican: Trump 61%; Cruz 18%; Kasich 11%
Washington Post, From playboy to president? Trump’s past crude sex talk collides with his White House bid, Mary Jordan, May 10, 2016. Over 15 years, radio shock jock Howard Stern and his buddy Donald Trump periodically carried on like towel-snapping “bros” in a locker room, rating women’s tops and bottoms, debating whether oral sex is “important,” and egging each other on about whether they would like to go to bed with a number of people, from Cindy Crawford to Diane Sawyer. Trump’s crude talk on-air with Stern between 1990 and 2005 was part of an image he cultivated as a Manhattan playboy who had so many women that he barely had time to sleep. He was often seen at trendy nightclubs with different women, appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine, wrote in his books about all the women chasing him and publicly boasted about his sex life.
That reputation was useful as Trump, in his 40s and 50s, built a brand designed to equate his name with success and the high life. But it is problematic as Trump, 69, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, tries to wash away his tabloid past and fashion a more dignified persona — as a potential commander in chief and leader of the free world. After his public split with his first wife, Ivana, in 1990, Trump often got more media attention for his dates than his deals. From then until 2005, when he married his third and current wife, Melania Knauss, Trump’s social life was a tabloid staple. During that time, he had a second tumultuous marriage, to beauty contestant Marla Maples, who was quoted on the cover of the New York Post as saying about Trump: “Best Sex I Ever Had.”
Politico, Watchdog suit: Obama White House slowing FOIA process, Josh Gerstein, May 10, 2016. A conservative watchdog group has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Obama administration is illegally delaying responses to Freedom of Information Act requests by forcing records into an often lengthy review process by White House lawyers.
LewRockwell.com, Who Promoted Private Ryan? Patrick J. Buchanan, May 10, 2016. Forty-eight hours after Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination with a smashing victory in the Indiana primary, House Speaker Paul Ryan (shown in a photo) announced that he could not yet support Trump. Ryan is a congressman from Wisconsin. He has never won a statewide election.
What is Ryan up to? He is pandering to the Trump-hating Beltway media and claiming the leadership of a Republican establishment routed and repudiated in the primaries, not only by that half of the party that voted for Trump but also by that huge slice of the party that voted for Ted Cruz. Someone should instruct Paul Ryan that losers do not make demands. They make requests. They make pleas.
Washington Post, ‘He’s a criminal predator': Arkansas judge resigns after allegations that he offered young men reduced sentences in exchange for sexual favors, Katie Mettler, May 10, 2016. Once, the judge allegedly asked a man to pose like Michelangelo’s Statue of David in exchange for $300. He allegedly instructed another man to strip naked and bend over, handcuffed, inside an Arkansas courtroom while he snapped photographs, up close.These allegations are among dozens of disturbing claims outlined in state documents regarding the year-long investigation into a part-time Arkansas district judge accused of using his authority for the last 30 years to sexually prey on men charged with minor crimes.
NBC News, Rancher Cliven Bundy Sues President Obama, Harry Reid Over 'Cruel' Treatment, Erik Ortiz, May 10, 2016. Jailed cattle rancher Cliven Bundy claims President Barack Obama, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and others have stifled his constitutional rights as he sits in solitary confinement on charges stemming from a 2014 federal standoff, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. Bundy, 70, is seeking $50 million for the "illegal, unconstitutional, intentional and malicious acts" of the defendants, and wants an indictment against him quashed and his immediate release from jail in Portland, Oregon.
Bundy added that he's been in solitary since his arrest earlier this year — which constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment," claims the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada. Bundy also wants federal Judge Gloria Navarro, named as another defendant, removed from the criminal case and for politically conservative attorney Larry Klayman to help defend him in Nevada.
The cowboy hat-wearing Bundy became a national figure — and hero in some conservative corners — when he led an armed confrontation against federal rangers over a land dispute in his home state of Nevada. The father of 14 — along with his posse of supporters — clashed with the rangers who tried to execute a court order to confiscate 500 of his cattle after they were illegally grazing on public land and he failed to pay $1 million in grazing fees.
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) is shown with Congressman Steve Lynch (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) advocating on Capitol Hill for release of a 28-page report that Graham co-authored in 2002 identifying who funded the 9/11 attacks on the United States (Justice Integrity Project Photo).
The Bush administration suppressed the report, and Congress has refused to release it to 9/11 families and the rest of the public. Ostensibly on national security grounds, members of Congress will be imprisoned if they describe the contents of who funded the attacks prompting 15 years of wars in the Middle East.
The Hill, Dem: FBI strong-armed former senator on 9/11 pages reports, Staff report, May 9, 2016. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) is criticizing the Obama administration as having tried to strong-arm a former senator who is pushing to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 report dealing with Saudi Arabia. He recounted how Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) and her father, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-Fla.), were detained by the FBI in 2011 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. The message from the agents, according to the Grahams, was to quit pushing for declassification of the 28 pages.
The FBI "took a former senator, a former governor, grabbed him in an airport, hustled him into a room with armed force to try to intimidate him into taking different positions on issues of public policy and important national policy, and the fact that he wasn’t intimidated because he was calm doesn’t show that they weren’t trying to intimidate him," Sherman said in an interview with The Hill's Molly K. Hooper. Tampa Bay Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan detailed the incident in a column on Aug. 7, 2015.
Washington Post, Panama Papers include dozens of Americans tied to financial fraud, Michael Hudson, Jake Bernstein, Ryan Chittum, Will Fitzgibbon and Catherine Dunn, May 9, 2016. A review of the internal files of Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, has identified offshore companies created by the firm that were connected to at least 36 Americans accused of fraud or other serious financial misconduct.
Washington Post, Ryan ready to cede leadership of GOP convention if Trump asks, Elise Viebeck, May 9, 2016. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), shown in an official photo, said he would step down as co-chairman of the Republican convention if Donald Trump asks, given Ryan’s lack of support for the presumptive GOP nominee.
Reuters, Republican Rubio distances himself from Trump VP talk, Steve Holland, May 9, 2016. Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Monday sought to quash speculation that he might emerge as the vice presidential running mate for Republican candidate Donald Trump, saying he still has deep reservations about the billionaire. "He will be best served by a running mate and by surrogates who fully embrace his campaign. As such, I have never sought, will not seek and do not want to be considered for vice president," Rubio said in a statement.
Alabama Political Reporter, Did Bentley Access Critic’s Medical Records? Bill Britt, May 9, 2016. Former members of Gov. Robert Bentley’s administration say the Governor is obsessed with his authority as Chief Magistrate. Bentley, 73 and shown in an official photo, has been accused of ordering law enforcement agents to target critics, especially those who have exposed his relationship with former senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. And now, it is believed, that there is at least one instance of a former associate’s medical records being violated, in order to launch a whisper campaign against that individual.
There is suspicion that Bentley (R), who still holds an active medical license, may have accessed or ordered others to search the State’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database to find information that could be used against Spencer Collier, former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).
Washington Post, Electoral map is the biggest problem that Republicans face, May 8, 2016. Even though Donald Trump effectively sealed the party nomination with a win in Indiana, the primary also brought into sharp relief how difficult it will be for any GOP candidate to get the necessary 270 electoral votes to become the 45th president.
Start here: Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election between 1992 and 2012. Add them up and you get 242 electoral votes. There are two important takeaways from these facts: The generic Democratic nominee starts with an electoral vote lead of 140, and the Democratic nominee needs to find only 28 votes beyond that reliable base to win the presidency.
rah Palin and Donald Trump at endorsement in Iowa Jan. 19, 2016 (Alex Hanson Photo via Flickr)
Washington Post, Sarah Palin: Speaker Ryan will soon be ‘Cantored,’ Sean Sullivan, May 8, 2016. The former vice-presidential candidate — who backs Donald Trump's candidacy — compared Paul Ryan to former House majority leader Eric Cantor, who suffered a stunning defeat in the 2014 primary.
Sarah Palin said in a television interview broadcast Sunday that she will support Speaker Paul Ryan's primary challenger, and she compared Ryan to former House majority leader Eric Cantor (Va.), who was stunningly defeated in a 2014 primary. Businessman Paul Nehlen is challenging Ryan in the Aug. 9 Republican primary. Nehlen has criticized Ryan's refusal to back Trump and has issued a statement saying, “If Mr. Trump is the nominee, I will support that decision."
Washington's Blog, 28 Pages Later, J. Michael Springmann and Barbara Honegger, May 8, 2016. In 2002, a Joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee investigated U.S. intelligence service failures leading to the September 11, 2001 “terrorist” attacks. The Congressional report totaled 836 pages, of which the final chapter — 28 pages in length — was and still is completely classified. For over a decade, family members of the 9/11 victims, the co-chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee investigation itself former Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), a majority of the members of the 9/11 Commission and other individuals and organizations have urged declassification of these pages, arguing that what is known about them from members of Congress who have read them and gone public indicates that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and possibly also Israel are named as having been involved in organizing, financing and protecting at least some of the “hijackers” of the September 11 plot.
It’s time to end the “good fed, bad fed” game that’s been going for almost 15 years over whether to, and who can, declassify the 28 pages of the Joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the Sept. 11 attacks.
Senators and Representatives can read the contents of the 28 Pages in camera in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees’ Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) and then openly recite from memory and discus their contents and meaning on the floor of either House. In 1971, then-Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) placed 4,100 of the 7,000 pages of The Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, partially by reading from some of them on the Senate Floor and, later, by inserting the remainder through an aide into the record of a meeting of his Senate Subcommittee on Buildings and Grounds. (The Pentagon Papers was the informal name given to a secret Department of Defense study of U.S. political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.) There is constitutional and legal justification for this.
OpEdNews, When They Killed JFK They Killed America, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), May 7, 2016. In the JFK administration I was a White House Fellow. President Kennedy’s intention was to involve many young Americans in government in order to keep idealism alive as a counter to the material interests of lobby groups.
In my lifetime there has not been another like him. Indeed, today he would be impossible. Conservatives and Republicans did not like him, because he was thoughtful. Their favorite weapon against him was their account of his love life, which according to them involved Mafia molls and Marilyn Monroe. Unlike most presidents, Kennedy was able to break with the conventional thinking of the time. For those of you too young to have experienced John Kennedy and those of you who have forgot his greatness, do yourselves a favor and listen to this 5 minute, 23 second speech.
The CIA, the Joint Chiefs, and the Secret Service concluded that JFK was “soft on communism.” So did the Bill Buckley conservatives.
JFK was assassinated because of anti-communist hysteria in the military and security agencies. The Warren Commission was well aware of this. The coverup was necessary because America was locked into a Cold War with the Soviet Union. To put US military, CIA, and Secret Service personnel on trial for murdering the President of the United States would have shaken the confidence of the American people in their own government. Oswald had nothing whatsoever to do with JFK’s assassination. That is why Oswald was himself assassinated inside the Dallas jail before he could be questioned. The evil that resides in Washington does not only kill foreign leaders who try to do the right thing, but also its own.
Guardian, The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies, Shaun Walker May 7, 2016. For years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream. Then an FBI raid revealed the truth: they were agents of Putin’s Russia. Their sons tell their story. Not only were their parents indeed Russian spies, they were Russians. They were not Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley
Politico, George W. Bush White House’s ‘Skull and Bones’ files due out, Josh Gerstein, More than 1,000 pages of letters, memos, a draft speech and other materials relating to Skull and Bones and George W. Bush (shown in an official photo) are set for release in July. One of America’s most prestigious and storied secret societies, Yale University’s Skull and Bones, may be a little less secret if archivists at President George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas get their way. More than 1,000 pages of letters, memos, a draft speech and other materials relating to Skull and Bones are set for release in July, unless Bush or President Barack Obama move to block the disclosure, according to the National Archives.
“Included is correspondence from individuals, organizations, and children to President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Andrew Card, and Karl Rove; routine memoranda regarding government awards and promotions; and draft correspondence from the White House with background material,” the National Archives said in an official notice to attorneys for Bush and Obama.
The secretive group of well-connected Yale seniors meets in a foreboding campus building called “the tomb” and is rumored to conduct macabre rituals (one persistent rumor holds that the Bones tomb contains the skull of Geronimo, among other occult objects). Over the years, the society has been the subject of several books as well as a “60 Minutes” segment.
The notice from the National Archives, which oversees the White House records stored at the Bush Library, says the records were requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The notice doesn’t specify who asked for the files, but other records consulted by Politico indicate it was Robert Gaylon Ross Sr., the author of several books alleging broad-based conspiracies by elites in America and around the globe.
Washington Post, A renowned civil rights leader’s descent into debt and delusion, Ian Shapira, May 6, 2016. Walter Fauntroy (shown in a 1980s photo) left D.C. amid financial and legal troubles. His emails since, which have alarmed his friends and colleagues, show a downward spiral for the respected activist.
Washington Post, Obama official says he pushed a ‘narrative’ to media to sell the Iran nuclear deal, Paul Farhi, May 6, 2016. One of President Obama’s top national security advisers, Ben Rhodes, led journalists to believe a misleading timeline of U.S. negotiations with Iran over a nuclear agreement and relied on inexperienced reporters to create an “echo chamber” that helped sway public opinion to seal the deal, according to a lengthy magazine profile.
In the article, Rhodes speaks contemptuously of the Washington policy and media establishment, including The Washington Post and the New York Times, referring to them as “the blob” that was subject to conventional thinking about foreign policy.
“We had test-drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like [the anti-nuclear group] Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked,” Rhodes says. Speaking of Republicans and other opponents, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rhodes adds that he knew “we drove them crazy.”
President Barack Obama works with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications (at left), and Terry Szuplat (center), Senior Director for Speechwriting, on remarks prior to the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, in the Oval Office, Feb. 18, 2015 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
New York Times Magazine, The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru, David Samuels, May 5, 2016 (published in print May 8). How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age. The Boy Wonder of the Obama White House is now 38.
Like Obama, Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.
His ability to navigate and shape this new environment makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies. His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.
Washington Post, Ryan declines to support Trump: ‘I’m not there right now,’ Paul Kane·, May 5, 2016. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House speaker and co-chairman of the GOP convention, became the highest-ranking Republican to openly question whether he’d support Donald Trump’s run for the presidency. "I’m just not ready to do that, at this point," said Ryan, shown in official photo.
"I’m not there right now, and I hope to, though, and I want to, but I think what is required is that we unify this party,” Ryan said on CNN’s “The Lead,” in an interview with host Jake Tapper, when asked if would support Trump. “And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”
Facebook, How Trump Did It; The Outside The Box Gambit, Pepe Escobar, May 5, 2016. Pepe Escobar (shown in a file photo) is an experienced reporter on global issues. So why did Ted Cruz simply vanish? From one of my top Beltway sources:
“Think outside the box – and beyond the dramatic cable news headlines. The fact that Cruz Sr. never once mentioned suing Nat’l Enquirer over the Oswald claim tells me that there was some element or possibility of truth. The story may have been a shot across the bow or even a kill shot by Trump's campaign letting the Cruzes know there is more where that came from. Checkmate. There may be a CIA connection too. The story originally broke weeks ago, and Trump saying, “Not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba?”
The Lee Harvey Oswald story is the SOLE reason for Lyin’ Ted’s departure decision. He was campaigning hard in California. He is so stubborn and defiant that he wasn’t ever dropping out, unless something was about to destroy him or his family – something exactly like this story.”
CNN, Russian orchestra plays concert in ancient Syrian ruins of Palmyra, Fred Pleitgen, May 5, 2016. The Russian military put around 100 journalists on five buses, sent a convoy of armored vehicles and fighting vehicles and drove the reporters from Latakia in northwestern Syria to Palmyra, the ancient heritage site in the central desert.Acclaimed conductor Valery Gergiev led St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra. On hand was cellist Sergey Roldulgin, who was recently named in the Panama Papers as having moved hundreds of millions to offshore companies, a claim he denies.
The concert, "Pray for Palmyra: Music Revives Ancient Ruins," was dedicated to victims of the terrorist group. Russian TV set up a state of the art stage and broadcast facility, complete with a crane-mounted camera and a drone. For many of the international reporters it was a surreal moment, but Russians said it was a moment of pride. After it was all done we were brought back on the bus, the gun trucks leading the way, the choppers overhead for a seven-hour journey back through night in this war-torn country.
Dallas News, The silence of Ken Starr;, Baylor’s president focused on football, fumbled on sex assaults, Sue Ambrose and David Tarrant, May 5, 2016. Praying, singing and carrying candles, hundreds of students gathered in front of the president’s house at Baylor University on a chilly night in February. Their goals: to vent anger over the Baptist school’s handling of a string of sexual assaults and to demand the attention of its leader, Ken Starr.
But Starr (shown in an official portrait) wasn’t there to hear them. He did not attend the vigil. He has said little in public about the problem.
And as the sex-assault scandal has grown to encompass at least eight alleged attacks involving football players, two of whom have been convicted in criminal court here, his oddly timed written statements have grown more legalistic. Even at this conservative and sports-mad college, students say they are frustrated by the muted response of the Baylor administration, which the 69-year-old Starr has led for the past six years.
“They should be stepping up more,” said Audrey Hamlin, 20, a sophomore from outside Austin who recently joined a student group on campus sexual violence. “They should completely back up the victims, and that should be evident in their actions.” If Starr wanted to set an example of the Christian values the school professes to follow, she said, “he’d be saying a lot more than he is.”
PBS Newshour, The political battle over the Saudi lawsuit bill and the #28pages, Margaret Warner, May 5, 2016. U.S-Saudi relations have been roiled by two issues lately: a pending bill that would allow lawsuits against countries involved in terror attacks on American soil, and the so-called "28 pages" of a congressional inquiry on 9/11 that are said to detail possible Saudi complicity. Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner joins Hari Sreenivasan for a closer look.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The tense state of relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has been roiled lately by two issues: a pending bill in Congress that would allow lawsuits against countries found to have been involved in terrorist attacks on American soil, and the so-called “28 pages,” parts of a congressional inquiry after September 11th that are said to detail possible Saudi complicity in aiding the attacks.
Here to tell us more about both is chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.
So, first, let’s talk about the bill, what’s in it and what’s the status of it.
MARGARET WARNER: The bill, Hari, would carve out a special exemption in what’s called the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, which every country has a similar act and observe, which is you don’t sue foreign governments, with a few narrow exceptions. There was an exception made for terrorism, but only if you were on the state-sponsored terrorism list which Saudi isn’t.
So, these 9/11 victims families have been trying to push this, get this bill in a court. It was rejected by a federal judge in September saying, sorry, violates this act. So that’s sort of what’s new here.
It passed unanimously a session ago in the Senate, but now, it’s run into a buzz saw of White House opposition. You have President Obama telling Charlie Rose if we let this happen we’ll have foreign citizens suing our government. All the senior members of the administration have come out against this.
So, and then, last — two weeks ago, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the 22 co-sponsors and lawyer by training put a hold on the bill. So, people thought it was dead. But several widows came to see him last week. He was working on language. And today, I learned very quietly he removed his hold on Tuesday.
So, what’s happening now is that the two main co-sponsors, Republican John Cornyn and Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York are essentially counting heads. They want to make sure nobody in their caucus objects, no one else is going to put a secret hold on it, and then they’ll ask Mitch McConnell if he will bring it to the floor.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What role do the 28 pages play in this. They’re discrete but melt together.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes, they do. And a lot is sort of a public relations side. A White House official said to me that “60 Minutes” report that appeared, what, three weeks ago in which the head of the congressional investigation, co-sponsor Bob Graham, and three of the 9/11 Commission members, which you know was an independent, came out and said there is very — they didn’t say “evidence” but strong signs of Saudi complicity in aiding some of the hijackers — as we recall 15 of the 19 were Saudis — and in particular the two who were in San Diego.
Lagniappe Weekly, Man faces second expunged records publication arrest, Eric Mann, May 5, 2016. For the second time since March, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of investigative journalist John Caylor for publishing the expunged court records of a Mobile area attorney and federal court clerk. On March 30, Caylor turned himself in to Daphne police for publishing the expunged court record of Thomas Scott Smith III. Caylor posted bail shortly after and faced a May 3 court date in Daphne Municipal Court. Caylor appeared there before Judge Michael Hoyt and was ordered to remove the expunged records from his website, insider-magazine.com, while the case progresses. Hoyt continued the case until Aug. 9. Background: Lagniappe Weekly, Daphne man arrested for publishing expunged records, April 6, 2016.
CNBC, John Kasich suspending campaign: Sources, Everett Rosenfeld, May 4, 2016. Ohio Gov. John Kasich plans to suspend his GOP presidential run Wednesday, sources told NBC News. The sources spoke after Kasich canceled a planned event in order to make a statement at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday in Ohio. Kasich was the only candidate left against Donald Trump after Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas suspended his run following the billionaire's resounding victory in Indiana.
Kasich is shown in a 2015 photo by the Justice Integrity Project early in his campaign when his experience as a congressional leader and the governor of a swing state seemed to position him as one of the race's likely front-runners.
ABC News, Donald Trump Reacts to Ted Cruz Suspending His Campaign, George Stephanopolous, May 4, 2016.
The Texas Tribune, Bush 41, 43 Have No Plans to Endorse Trump, Jordan Rudner, May 4, 2016. For the first time since his own presidency, George H.W. Bush is planning to stay silent in the race for the Oval Office — and the younger former president Bush plans to stay silent as well. Bush 41, who enthusiastically endorsed every Republican nominee for the last five election cycles, will stay out of the campaign process this time.
He does not have plans to endorse presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, spokesman Jim McGrath told The Texas Tribune. “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics,” McGrath wrote in an email Wednesday. “He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule.” His son Jeb Bush dropped out of the GOP presidential race in February. Bush 43, meanwhile, "does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign," according to his personal aide, Freddy Ford. On Tuesday evening, Trump secured his place as the all-but-certain Republican nominee with a decisive win in the Indiana primary. Hours later, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who had hoped to force a contested Republican convention, formally dropped out of the race.
The Blaze, Trump Says He Never Believed JFK-Rafael Cruz Conspiracy Theory, Only Wanted People to Read It, Oliver Darcy, May 4, 2016 ((1:36 min. video). Donald Trump said Wednesday that he never believed Ted Cruz’s father was connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, just one day after floating a conspiracy theory which suggested exactly that during an interview on national television.Speaking with CNN host Wolf Blitzer, Trump repeatedly said he never thought the theory he cited held water: “Of course I don’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. But I did say, let people read it.”
Just one day prior, Trump floated an unsubstantiated National Enquirer report on “Fox & Friends” that suggested Rafael Cruz was with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the assassination of Kennedy. “What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the shooting?” Trump asked at the time. Pressed on the subject after Cruz ended his bid for the White House, the presumptive Republican nominee insisted he never believed the theory he floated. “Of course I don’t think that,” he told Blitzer.
Mediaite, Roger Stone ‘Confirms’ Rafael Cruz Was Tied to JFK in the Most Roger Stone Way Imaginable, J.D. Durkin, May 4, 2016. Roger Stone, who is basically a walking National Enquirer headline all his own, appeared on AM 970 The Answer Wednesday morning to discuss Trump’s dominant Indiana win with host Joe Piscopo. Stone is a regular guest on the program, and after accusations last month that he planted the Enquirer story about Ted Cruz‘s marital infidelities, the logical follow-up was to ask about yesterday’s bombshell: that Rafael Cruz, the father of the Texas Senator, was linked to Lee Harvey Oswald and complicit in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The story first appeared on the cover of the tabloid, and Donald Trump gave it new life during an unchallenged interview Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends. Piscopo cornered Stone on the story: “Respectfully I ask you this Roger, did you plant that story in the National Enquirer? Can I ask you that?”
“It is not,” Stone responded, noting that just last night he had a conversation with Judyth Vary Baker, the woman who has long claimed to be Oswald’s secret lover (this notion has been challenged many times over; in 2011 HuffPo wrote of Baker’s claim, “This makes no sense whatsoever.”). According to Stone, Baker, “…confirmed that [Raphael Cruz] was in New Orleans, [and] knew he was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald.”
New York Magazine,The Real Reason Ted Cruz and John Kasich Dropped Out Now, Ed Kilgore, May 4, 2016. Nobody's going to say this publicly, but Republicans are already looking past Donald Trump's defeat to their next and more successful leader.
And what will their post-Trump arguments be? We can already anticipate some of them. For Ted Cruz and the movement conservatives he represents, the argument is easy: Republicans lost in 2008 and 2012 and 2016 because they did not make their campaigns a crusade for True Conservatism, and thus it's now time, finally, to give it a try in 2020.
For John Kasich, the easiest argument will probably be that Republicans need to fix their gazes on general-election polls from the get-go next time around, and make electability their principle litmus test for candidates.
Legal Schnauzer, Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is released from solitary confinement, where he landed after discussing Robert McDonnell case with Washington Post, Roger Shuler, May 4, 2016. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has been released from solitary confinement at the Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, Louisiana.
Siegelman was sent to solitary confinement last week after he was quoted extensively in a Washington Post (WaPo) article about the case of former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, whose 2014 conviction on public-corruption charges was reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) last Wednesday.
The nation's high court twice has declined to hear Siegelman's case, even though it presents issues that are almost identical to those in the McDonnell case. Many of the issues raised in the McDonnell case could have been resolved in 2010, or maybe even earlier, if SCOTUS had heard the Siegelman case. That the high court is hearing the case of McDonnell (a Republican) while ignoring the case of Siegelman (a Democrat) raises all kinds of ugly questions.
Cruz Suspends Campaign
Washington Post, Cruz exits race after spirited last stand; Sanders upsets Clinton, Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan, May 3, 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz's blistering criticism of Donald Trump on Tuesday didn't gain traction with Indiana voters. Among Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders scored a fresh rationale to remain in the race, despite Hillary Clinton's wide delegate lead.
Justice Integrity Project Recap: In Indiana, Donald Trump won the GOP primary against rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich. With 57 delegates at stake, Trump was winning 53 to 37 percent over Cruz in what had been regarded as a must-win state for Cruz. Kasich, governor of Indiana's neighboring state Ohio to the east, won less than 10 percent of the vote.
In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders upset Hillary Clinton 52-48 percent with most votes tabulated.
Washington Post, Trump’s impending nomination means it’s time for a third candidate, Eliot A. Cohen, May 3, 2016. Eliot A. Cohen served in the Defense and State departments in the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations, respectively. It’s over. Donald Trump, a man utterly unfit for the position by temperament, values and policy preferences, will be the Republican nominee for president. He will run against Hillary Clinton, who is easily the lesser evil but is trailed by clouds of scandal and misconduct and whose party’s left wing poses its own threats to liberties of speech, religion, enterprise and association.
It is time for a third candidate, and probably for a third party. Some people will dismiss this notion as absurd. However, only those prescient enough to have forecast Trump’s success have the standing to certify impossibilities. If the Trump candidacy has blown up every other aspect of political conventional wisdom, why not this one?
Even if a third candidacy still yielded a Clinton victory, it would be worthwhile. It would, first, deny the Clinton campaign the illusion of a mandate from American voters who would have, en masse, turned out to reject Trump. If nothing else, a strong third-candidate vote would send her a message to govern from the center, rather than in deference to her party’s increasingly powerful left wing.
USA Today, Trump bizarrely links Cruz’s father to JFK assassin; Cruz goes ballistic, Donovan Slack, May 3, 2016. The feud between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz hit epic proportions Tuesday as Republican primary voters headed to the polls in Indiana. Trump was asked on Fox News to respond to remarks by the Texas senator's father on the campaign trail. Rafael Cruz had said electing “the alternative” to his son “could be the destruction of America.”
Then he [Trump] insinuated that Cruz’s father may have played some role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr. [Sic No really. He brought up a questionable National Enquirer story claiming Rafael Cruz appeared in a photo with Oswald shortly before the murder. (The Miami Herald took a critical look at the claims.)
JIP editor's note: The USA Today writer mixes up JFK (the president) and his son, JFK Jr., as noted above in the USA Today story widely redistributed May 3. Editors presumably will correct the story at some point in the future but the error shows the utter historical cluelessness of those involved, and their willingness nonetheless to editorialize on a breaking news story.
Politico, Trump accuses Cruz's father of helping JFK's assassin, Nolan D. McCaskill, May 3, 2016. Donald Trump on Tuesday alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was with John F. Kennedy’s assassin shortly before he murdered the president, parroting a National Enquirer story claiming that Rafael Cruz was pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963. A Cruz campaign spokesperson told the Miami Herald, which pointed out numerous flaws in the Enquirer story, that it was “another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage.”
MSNBC, Cruz calls Trump ‘serial philanderer’ and ‘pathological liar’ in blistering attack, Staff report, May 3, 2016. Trump’s evidence? A photo, disseminated in fringe circles online and then by the National Enquirer, that conspiracy sleuths claim shows the elder Cruz near Oswald. There is zero evidence the person in question is Rafael Cruz.
Washington Post, How on earth is the media supposed to cover Trump’s wacky JFK-Cruz conspiracy theory? Callum Borchers, May 3, 2016. Callum Borchers covers the intersection of politics and media. Some journalists aren’t holding back. But hard-news reports include some written gymnastics.
TruNews, The Cruz Conspiracy, Rick Wiles, May 3, 2016. (11:26 mins.).
Infowars, Trump Links Cruz’s Father to JFK Assassination, Kit Daniels, May 3, 2016. "That was reported, and nobody talks about it," Trump says about mainstream media, GOP Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump seconded on May 3 the explosive allegation that Rafael Cruz, father of presidential rival Ted Cruz.
Alex Jones Radio Show, Indiana Voting-Fraud Activist Behind Rubio ‘Sex Party’ Leaks Found Dead, Kit Daniels, May 3, 2016. Blogger who exposed voter fraud died right before primary; Indiana Voting-Fraud Activist Behind Rubio ‘Sex Party’ Leaks Found Dead. Voting-fraud activist Gary Welsh, who tipped off Infowars’ Wayne Madsen on Marco Rubio’s foam sex parties, was found dead leading up to the Indiana primary. Police found Welsh’s body in an apartment complex stairwell in Indianapolis, Ind., on May 1 and quickly ruled it a “suicide.”
“Welsh was a well-known lawyer and political commentator in Indiana who combated against the takeover of the state by religious fundamentalists and opposed ‘well-connected’ GOP presidential candidates like Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Rubio,” Wayne Madsen reported. “The timing of Welsh's death just prior to the Indiana GOP primary, one that Cruz hopes to win to keep his chances for the GOP presidential nomination alive, is troubling, to say the least.”
The Indicter, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt blamed the Odessa fire on “Russian gangsters,” Pictoral (including image above portraying Sweden's former Foreign Minister as a Hitler successor) by The Indicter Staff, May 2016. Arson attack on Odessa Unions building left over 100 dead; all burned corpses of young women and men; all anti-fascist activists.
Background: The Professors’ Blog graphic report in 2014 on the events, Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli (editor of The Indicter and longtime medical school professor in Sweden following 1970s torture in Argentina), June 1, 2014. This includes a Bing.com translation of an article published by SvD on 2 May 2014. Its figures of “30 people are reported to have died” correspond to the earlier official reports by the Ukraine government — a source invariably used by Swedish media.
The wording “Pro-Russian gangsters” is Bing.com’s machine-translation of the Swedish article that Bildt used. Carl Bildt’s preposterous blaming of the victims for the tragic outcome of the Nazi arson-attack on the Union building where over 100 anti-Kiev activists perished can be found in Aftonbladet and Gotiskaklubben. WARNING: This post includes documentation of most gruesome scenes at the crime scene, including a horrifying video documenting, among other, the Odessa massacre perpetrated by fascists forces on the 2nd of May 2014.
RealClearPolitics, Obscure Panel May Have Big Effect on GOP Convention, Rebecca Berg, May 2, 2016. As the possibility of an open convention looms over the GOP presidential primary, the Republican National Committee’s rules panel — which will set the criteria in Cleveland in conjunction with its convention rules sibling — has been dragged to the forefront. But another, less talked-about committee could earn a place in the spotlight: The RNC Committee on Contests.
New York Times, Ted Cruz Confronts Donald Trump Supporters in Indiana, Matt Flegenheimer, May 2, 2016. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had a date with a waiting car. It was the second of five stops on Monday, the eve of Indiana’s critical primary, and the event at a restaurant here had been billed as little more than a meet-and-greet. When he got back outside, a half-dozen protesters who supported Donald J. Trump were waiting across North Washington Street, some holding signs.
Los Angeles Times, Cruz's faltering campaign shows the risks of depending on a few wealthy donors, Joseph Tanfani and Noah Bierman, May 2, 2016. Ted Cruz, in his outsider’s bid for the White House, has depended heavily on the largesse of just three wealthy donors to establish credibility and stay afloat amid a chaotic nominating process that killed off most of his rivals. Now, at perhaps the most desperate moment in his quest to win the Republican nomination, Cruz is learning the perils of relying on strong-willed magnates who carry their own agendas and have demanded an unprecedented level of control in how their money is spent.
One of the three primary donors to Cruz’s presidential efforts, a private equity manager who recruited the other two top donors, has refrained from spending the vast majority of his $10 million contribution to bolster the Cruz campaign. He is instead fighting openly with the top strategist for the super PACs that were set up to spend the money.
The man at the center of the fight, Toby Neugebauer, is a close friend of Cruz and his wife, Heidi. Neugebauer and his own wife have vacationed with the Cruzes, and he still counts himself a major supporter. But he has refused to spend $9 million of the $10 million he put into a super PAC.
Facebook, Hubbard Plea Deal Finalized, Donald V. Watkins, May 2, 2016. Our Facebook news team has confirmed tonight that all aspects of House Speaker Mike Hubbard's plea deal with state prosecutors have been finalized, as reported this morning by TheMeck.blogspot.com.
Hubbard will: (a) resign from public office; (b) plead guilty to public corruption charges; (c) agree to an 18-month sentence, 12 months of which will be served in the Lee County jail and 6 months of which will be suspended; and (d) be allowed to register as a lobbyist after serving his sentence. As part of his deal, Hubbard will cooperate with state and federal prosecutors investigating public corruption by Governor Robert Bentley, former governor Bob Riley, and Senate President Del Marsh. Our Facebook news team first reported on April 17, 2016, that early "street" reports of the deal had been confirmed, including the 18-month sentence. TheMeck.blogspot.com reported additional details of Hubbard's deal in its story.
The Hubbard deal will be publicly announced after the legislature adjourns.
David Meckley d/b/a TheMeck.blogspot.com, Yellowhammer News, the Alabama Political Reporter, Roger Alan Shuler d/b/a Legal Schnauzer.blogspot.com, and other online journalists continue to lead the state's news media by breaking all of the leading news stories relating to Alabama's high-profile public corruption scandals.
WHNT-TV (Channel 19, Huntsville, AL), Gov. Robert Bentley a no-show for State Auditor’s hearing, Staff report, May 2, 2016. It probably didn’t surprise many people that Governor Robert Bentley didn’t come to State Auditor Jim Zeigler’s office on Monday morning. Neither did any members of his staff, but Zeigler pushed forward, saying he is now prepared to take the case to Montgomery County Circuit Court. He will request the court issue an order for Gov. Bentley to appear, bring the documents to court, and if he fails to do so, he would face contempt of court charges.
Legal Schnauzer, More sex tapes might surface of Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason — and these reportedly are much more graphic than the first batch, Roger Shuler, May 2, 2016. More sex tapes exist of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason — on top of those already made public, which had Bentley talking about caressing Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions. The new tapes, according to a report from Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins, are more graphic than the ones already made public.
When might the new tapes be made public? We don't have an answer to that question, but Watkins reports (via his Facebook page) that federal subpoenas are being issued in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa, seeking documents related to Bentley, and her husband Jon Mason. (The governor and her are shown in a WKRG-TV photo collage, along with Alabama's former top law enforce Spencer Collier, shown at far right and fired this February by Bentley.)
Washington Post, Here are those presidential campaign stories that the media ‘never’ cover, Callum Borchers, May 2, 2016. The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty on Friday vented her frustration at the “tweeps” who whine about how the media supposedly never cover things that, in fact, they cover thoroughly. Anyway, this whole exchange inspired me to assemble some of the other presidential campaign stories the media “never” cover. This isn't about proving some folks on social media wrong. (Okay, maybe it's a little about that.) It's mostly supposed to be helpful. Voters don't have time to read everything and, when they complain about missing coverage, it's possible that they truly haven't seen any. (Though I always wonder where, if not from the media, they learned about whatever thing isn't being reported, in the first place.)
New York Daily News, Indiana political blogger commits suicide after writing Donald Trump post with ominous comment, Jason Silverstein, May 2, 2016. A prolific Indiana political blogger wrote an ominous post last week predicting a Donald Trump victory in his state — and soon afterward committed suicide, police said. Gary Welsh, a lawyer who managed his Advance Indiana blog since 2005, was found in his Indianapolis apartment around 8 a.m. Sunday with a gunshot wound, according to the Indianapolis Star. Officers found him in a stairwell, dead at the scene, according to a police report.
Police ruled Welsh’s death a suicide, but have not released any details about what may have motivated it. One friend, attorney Jim Klimek, said Welsh's mood had been "deteriorating" in the past few weeks. Welsh was facing financial struggles, in part because he spent so much time blogging that it cut into his struggling law practice.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Welsh suicide? Not! Wayne Madsen, (WMR's editor is the author of 14 books and a former Navy intelligence officer), May 2, 2016 (Subscription required; excerpted by permission). Here we go again! It was just after Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb (shown in a file photo) contacted this editor and said he, also, was investigating the firm Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) and wanted us to share notes, that he was reported to have died from two gunshot wounds to the head at his Carmichael, California home. ACS was involved in processing the U.S. student visas for alleged 9/11 hijackers Mohammed Atta and his compatriots.
Before even launching a full investigation, Indianapolis police are calling the sudden death of Indiana political blogger Gary Welsh a "suicide." Never mind the fact that it was Welsh who was the initial source of WMR's recent story on Florida Senator Marco Rubio's "foam bath" exploits in South Beach, Miami....
Antiwar.com, Hillary Clinton’s Damning Emails, Ray McGovern, May 2, 2016. A few weeks after leaving office, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have breathed a sigh of relief and reassurance when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied reports of the National Security Agency eavesdropping on Americans. After all, Clinton had been handling official business at the State Department like many Americans do with their personal business, on an unsecured server.
But NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations — starting on June 5, 2013 — gave the lie to Clapper’s testimony, which Clapper then retracted on June 21when Clapper sent a letter to the Senators to whom he had, well, lied. Clapper admitted his “response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize.” (On the chance you are wondering what became of Clapper, he is still DNI.)
OpEdNews, Washington Brings Regime Change To Venezuela, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), May 2, 2016. According to President Obama, the world’s only superpower, the unipower, the exceptional country is threatened by small Venezuela in South America! In an executive order last year, renewed this year, President Obama declared Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” and declared a “national emergency” to counter the “Venezuelan threat.”
This manufactured “extraordinary threat” serves as the Obama regime’s excuse for overthrowing President Maduro in Venezuela. It is a Washington tradition to overthrow elected Latin American governments that try to represent the interest of the people, and not the interest of US corporations and banks.
Townhall, Rick Renzi Puts Together Top Legal Team to Appeal Hidden Evidence of FBI Agent's Corruption, Rachel Alexander, May 2, 2016. Imprisoned former Republican Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona is frustrated by the massive prosecutorial corruption that was revealed after the trial against him, and is taking steps to get his felony convictions reversed. He has put together a star legal team to represent him in an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. In May, his team will be filing their opening briefs appealing the trial court judge’s ruling last December refusing to grant him a retrial.
The team now includes Sidney Powell, a former prosecutor with the Department of Justice who famously exposes wrongdoing within it. She wrote the book Licensed to Lie, which revealed crimes by DOJ attorneys that took place during the prosecution of Arthur Andersen, Enron’s accounting firm. She represented one of the defendants from the accounting firm, who she believed was innocent, but he was still sentenced to prison and served a year until the conviction was reversed by the US Supreme Court. Her book also covers the wrongful prosecution of the late Republican US Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, who, like Renzi, was also a victim of the prosecution withholding evidence and crooked FBI agents.
Last October, there was a hearing to consider whether Renzi should get a retrial based on new evidence that the government’s key witness/victim Philip Aries changed his story to implicate Renzi, because he thought he could receive a reward.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at an-invitation-only press conference at the National Press Club on May 1, 2016 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig)
Washington Post, Sanders makes a public plea for Democratic superdelegates to switch allegiances, John Wagner, May 1, 2016. The senator from Vermont shows no signs of ending his challenge against Hillary Clinton. White House hopeful Bernie Sanders, who has fought the Democratic establishment throughout his campaign, made an extraordinary appeal Sunday for party insiders to help deliver the nomination to him, even if he doesn’t catch rival Hillary Clinton in the remaining primaries and caucuses.
Addressing reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, Sanders made a public plea for Democratic superdelegates to reconsider their allegiances to Clinton, particularly those in states where he has won nominating contests or those who committed to Clinton before he entered the race. (Sanders is shown in a Gage *Skidmore file photo)
OpEd News, Bernie Sanders Gives Press Conference Honoring the First Anniversary of His Candidacy, Marta Steele, May 1, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders today held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Strong, angry, spirited, unflinching, the Vermont senator celebrated the one-year anniversary of his entry into the race for nomination as Democratic presidential nominee. He had announced his bid for the nomination in the District.
Los Angeles Times, As Russian planes bombard Syrian rebels, debate over anti-aircraft missiles returns, Nabih Bulos and Brian Bennett, May 1, 2016. It has been a difficult month for the Syrian air force and its Russian allies. In April alone, rebel forces claimed to bring down three aircraft: two Syrian jets and one Russian helicopter. Each incident sparked a frenzy of speculation about whether the opposition had obtained anti-aircraft missiles that could bring down planes, known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS.
The rebels had obtained a limited supply of the missiles from Syrian army depots and from the government of Qatar earlier in the war. They have long been asking the West to supply them with more. As President Bashar Assad’s government and the Russians step up their airstrikes on rebel-held areas -- and civilian casualties mount – those calls have gained renewed urgency. But new technology might make MANPADS ineffective against Russian planes, while the risk that the weapons could ultimately be turned against the West remains.
Huffington Post, CIA Director: Missing 9/11 Report Pages Contain ‘Inaccurate’ Information, Christina Wilkie, May 1, 2016. CIA Director John Brennan on Sunday defended the government’s decision to withhold 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report, telling NBC the classified pages contain “inaccurate” information that could be used to tie Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 terror attacks.
“This chapter was kept out because of concerns about sensitive methods [and] investigative actions,” Brennan (shown in an official photo) told “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd, adding that at the time these findings were issued, in 2002, the investigation into 9/11 was still underway.
Brennan said the 9/11 Commission Report contains “a combination of things that are accurate and inaccurate.” Ultimately, he said, the joint inquiry “came out with a very clear judgment that there was no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution, or Saudi officials or individuals, had provided financial support to al Qaeda.”
The question of what is contained in the report has reemerged this year largely due to the efforts of former Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D), who was part of the original 9/11 Commission inquiry and who helped write the 28 classified pages.
Graham believes the FBI withheld information about a Saudi family in Sarasota, Florida, that he says had numerous connections to the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Two weeks before the attacks, the family left the U.S. to return to Saudi Arabia, a move Graham believes could indicate that they had advance warning of the attacks.
Media General, Sept. 11 classified docs, Saudi lawsuits loom large in DC, Chance Seales, May 5, 2016. Here's more impressive news. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has now read the 28 pages and joined the list of co-sponsors! See the 2nd article below which comes from his official government web page. While I don't know much about Sherman, what he states here is certainly the stance we look for in a politician.
Remember, they all know what happened to previous politicians who questioned 9/11. They all know the danger of being labeled a "conspiracy theorist", and know how certain public positions can be used against them. However, the entire dynamic is now shifting. With the surge of H.RES. 14 co-sponsors coming on board since December, with Bob Graham and the 9/11 Commissioners speaking out, with Nancy Pelosi calling for declassification, with head of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, agreeing the best policy is disclosure, with others supporting the JASTA bill, now the popular position to take is embodied in Sherman's statement, “Those affected by 9/11, and the American people generally, need to know the whole truth about what happened. There is no good reason to hide this chapter of the story.”
Indianapolis Business Journal, Blogger Gary Welsh dies in apparent suicide, Staff report, May 1, 2016. Prominent Indianapolis blogger Gary Welsh has died, according to Indianapolis police, who say they are investigating the death as a "tragic suicide." Welsh, 53, wrote the widely followed conservative blog Advance Indiana, which he launched more than a decade ago. He also was a practicing attorney. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's incident report says officers were dispatched to the Lockerbie Glove Factory Lofts, 430 N. Park Ave., before 8 a.m. Sunday after receiving a report of a person found shot in the stairwell of the building. The witnesses who called 911 reported that a gun was next to the body.
IMPD Capt. Richard Riddle said he expects an autopsy will be conducted Monday. He said the Marion County Coroner's Office will determine the official cause of death. Welsh was known for hard-hitting blog posts that took swipes at both Democrats and Republicans. His final post, published Friday, summarized the latest poll results in the GOP presidential primary battle between Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. His post included this disconcerting line: "If I'm not around to see the vote results, my prediction is that Trump wins Indiana with just shy of 50% of the vote, but he will carry every single congressional district and sweep the delegates—assuming the party-chosen delegates honor their rules-bound commitment to support the winner on the first ballot."
The Meck Report, Plea Deal Done: Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard Will NOT Go To Trial, "The Meck," May 1, 2016. The Meck has learned that a plea deal has been done with Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard and he will not go to trial re his indictment on 23 felony corruption charges. The word re the plea deal: Speaker Mike Hubbard (shown in a police mug shot) will serve an 18 month sentence in exchange for his info/testimony against Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former Governor Bob Riley.
This is a state plea deal. It will be announced when the legislative session ends. Hubbard will vacate his post when he pleads guilty. There are two days left in the session. This is definitely not the time, the right climate in Montgomery, to go to any corruption trial and try to defend yourself.
Speaker Mike Hubbard has obviously turned against Gov Bentley and Bob Riley and he's spilling the beans to save himself from a much longer sentence. It sounds like Mike Hubbard's plea deal was the best decision for him - and the millions who have been subpoenaed for the trial.
Los Angeles Times, As Russian planes bombard Syrian rebels, debate over anti-aircraft missiles returns, Nabih Bulos and Brian Bennett, May 1, 2016. It has been a difficult month for the Syrian air force and its Russian allies. In April alone, rebel forces claimed to bring down three aircraft: two Syrian jets and one Russian helicopter. Each incident sparked a frenzy of speculation about whether the opposition had obtained anti-aircraft missiles that could bring down planes, known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS.
The rebels had obtained a limited supply of the missiles from Syrian army depots and from the government of Qatar earlier in the war. They have long been asking the West to supply them with more. As President Bashar Assad’s government and the Russians step up their airstrikes on rebel-held areas -- and civilian casualties mount – those calls have gained renewed urgency. But new technology might make MANPADS ineffective against Russian planes, while the risk that the weapons could ultimately be turned against the West remains.