August 2016 News Reports


 


 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2016 news and views

Aug. 31

Tampa Bay Times, Bob Graham: Government Needs To Learn More About 9/11 Attacks, Alex Leary, Aug. 31, 2016. Former Sen. Bob Graham this morning sharply criticized government secrecy over 9/11, saying the recent release of 28 pages of classified information is only an opening into what the American public deserves to know. "The legacy of Barack Obama is going to be stained," when it becomes clear how much material remains hidden from view, Graham said at the National Press Club. In particular, he said, much remains unanswered about a Saudi family that lived in Sarasota and suddenly vanished around the attack.  Graham was a leading figure in getting the release of the 28 pages, and he credited journalists for helping raise the issue. "Get a life," he said the deputy director of the FBI once told him.

Despite the release, Graham said more pressure needs to be applied so tens of thousands of pages of additional investigative material comes out. He also called on Congress to approve the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, designed to help families of the nearly 3,000 victims. Having already passed the Senate, the legislation would allow families to sue the Saudi government. Graham said government attempts to conceal links between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government adds to public cynicism. "We are developing a democracy of spectators."

Executive Intelligence Review, Senator Bob Graham Did Saudi Royals Make A Dirty Deal With Bin Laden for 9/11? Staff report (subscription required), Aug. 31, 2016 (video here). Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the former head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the co-chair of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, addressed a room full of media at the National Press Club in Washington today, and made some explosive statements about the Saudi Royal Family's role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The former Senator has been a driving force behind the recent release of the long-suppressed 28-page chapter from his Dec. 2002 report, and he has now called for the total declassification of all of the government's investigative files on the 9/11 attacks.

Sen. Graham detailed the fight, now underway in Florida, to declassify 80,000 pages of FBI documents on a prominent Saudi businessman who was tied to three of the 9/11 hijackers, including the alleged ring-leader, Mohammed Atta. The FBI covered up the existence of that investigation for a decade, and it took a Federal judge to order the Bureau to turn over the investigative file on their probe of the Florida cell, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Sen. Graham highlighted the role of Prince Bandar bin Sultan in providing financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego, Cal., and reviewed some of the now-declassified details about Bandar's private security links to leading Al Qaeda figure Abu Zubaida. He made a strong case for the House to immediately pass the Justice Against Supporters of Terrorism Act (JASTA), to give the 9/11 survivors and families their long-overdue day in court to actually put the Saudi Royals on trial for their complicity.

During the extensive question-and-answer period, Sen. Graham gave some startling answers. He blasted both President Bush and President Obama, and particularly President Obama, who had no personal interest in covering up the Saudi role in 9/11, but suppressed the 28 pages for nearly eight years. He also assailed the FBI for conducting what he called an "aggressive deception"' over the Sarasota files, and provided a detailed account of his own Dulles Airport encounter with the Deputy Director of the FBI, who pressured him to "get a life"' and drop his inquiries into the Sarasota 9/11 cell.

Asked to explain how the Saudi royal family, ostensibly close allies of the United States, could have been complicit in the 9/11 attacks, Senator Graham gave his own hypothesis: He noted that the Saudis were very insecure about the stability of the Kingdom, after the U.S. had supported Iraq during the long war with Iran in the 1980s. After the U.S. intervention against Saddam Hussein in 1991, the Kingdom was even more unstable, and Osama bin Laden was calling for the ouster of the Royal Family. In return for bin Laden backing off from the threats, the Saudis agreed to provide material support in the United States for the planned Al Qaeda terror attack. He made clear that he had no ``proof'' of that theory, but found it very credible.

There are undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of pages of FBI and other government investigative files on the 9/11 attacks that remain hidden from the public, and Sen. Graham made clear that all of this had to be made public.  Along with the immediate passage of JASTA, he put priority on opening up with the files on places like Paterson, New Jersey, and Falls Church, Virginia, where hijacker cells were operating, and where the FBI and other agencies no doubt conducted exhaustive investigations that remain secret.

28Pages.org, Graham: Many More Documents on Saudi Links to 9/11 Still Secret, Staff report, Aug. 31, 2016.  In an appearance this morning at the National Press Club, former Senate intelligence committee chairman Bob Graham said the July release of 28 pages from a 2002 congressional inquiry was just the first step toward gaining full transparency on the U.S. government’s investigation of Saudi links to the 9/11 attacks.

“This is removing the cork from the bottle,” said Graham. “There is a significant amount of information which, like the 28 pages, has been withheld and it was necessary to get this first block of material to the public in order to build the support that will be necessary for the balance of the material to flow.”

Among the countless documents still hidden from public view are those relating to the FBI’s investigation of a wealthy, well-connected Saudi family in Sarasota that reportedly had many contacts with future 9/11 attackers before suddenly vacating its home days before the attacks.

WND, 9/11 conspiracy gets support from physicists' study, Staff report, Aug. 31, 2016. Europhysics magazine report finds Twin Towers brought down by 'controlled demolition.' For 15 years, there’s been a small band of investigators who have questioned the idea that the Twin Towers in New York City collapsed because of the intense heat and fires raging following two terrorist-directed plane crashes. But they have largely been dismissed as crazy conspiracy theorists.

Now, however, Europhysics Magazine, the respected publication of the European physics community, has published a report, 15 Years Later: On the physics of high-rise building collapses, by four experts who say “the evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that all three buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition.” “Given the far-reaching implications, it is morally imperative that this hypothesis be the subject of a truly scientific and impartial investigation by responsible authorities,” the four physicists conclude.

The study is the work of Steven Jones, former full professor of physics at Brigham Young University, Robert Korol, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, Anthony Szamboti, a mechanical design engineer with over 25 years of structural design experience in the aerospace and communications industries, and Ted Walter, the director of strategy and development for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a nonprofit organization that today represents more than 2,500 architects and engineers.

Europhysics News, 15 Years Later: On the physics of high-rise building collapses, Steven Jones, Robert Korol, Anthony Szamboti, and Ted Walter, Volume 47, No. 4 (August 2016). In August 2002, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched what would become a six-year investigation of the three building failures that occurred on September 11, 2001 (9/11): the well-known collapses of the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers that morning and the lesser-known collapse late that afternoon of the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7, which was not struck by an airplane. 

NIST conducted its investigation based on the stated premise that the “WTC Towers and WTC 7 [were] the only known cases of total structural collapse in high-rise buildings where fires played a significant role.” Indeed, neither before nor since 9/11 have fires caused the total collapse of a steel-framed high-rise—nor has any other natural event, with the exception of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, which toppled a 21-story office building. Otherwise, the only phenomenon capable of collapsing such buildings completely has been by way of a procedure known as controlled demolition, where-by explosives or other devices are used to bring down a structure intentionally. Although NIST finally concluded after several years of investigation that all three collapses on 9/11 were due primarily to fires, fifteen years after the event a growing number of architects, engineers, and scientists are unconvinced by that explanation.

Washington Post, Supreme Court won’t let North Carolina use strict voting law, Robert Barnes, Aug. 31, 2016. The Supreme Court will not allow North Carolina in the coming election to use a strict voting law that a lower court found was enacted “with almost surgical precision” to blunt the influence of African American voters. The court said Wednesday it would not stay a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that found the law unconstitutional. The court was not ruling on the merits of the law but instead on an emergency request filed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to use the law as the state had in previous elections.

Global News

Guardian, Did Hillary Clinton stand by as Honduras coup ushered in era of violence? Nina Lakhani, Aug. 31, 2016. While secretary of state, the Democratic presidential nominee supported new elections following a 2009 coup – and the consequences continue to reverberate.

Washington Post, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ousted in impeachment vote, Marina Lopes and Dom Phillips, Aug. 31, 2016. Her former vice president, Michel Temer, has assumed full power. Dilma Rousseff Dilma Rousseff file photowas stripped of her office Wednesday in the culmination of a political crisis that has left Latin America’s largest nation adrift, with an economy in deep recession and a public sharply divided over the country’s future.

Rousseff (shown in a file photo) was impeached on arcane charges having to do with violating budget laws. But she was swept up in a tide of revulsion against Brazil’s political class as the once-flourishing economy contracted and political parties were tarred by a massive corruption scandal. Wednesday’s 61-to-20 Senate vote closed out an extraordinary 13-year rule by the leftist Workers’ Party, which boasted of lifting tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty before the economy began to nosedive and its political fortunes soured.

Rousseff was replaced by her former vice president and coalition partner, Michel Temer, who has been running Brazil as interim president since she was suspended to face the impeachment trial in May. He belongs to the more conservative Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, and is trying to introduce austerity measures to right the economy.

Aug. 30

Kennedy Library Foundation, Steven M. Rothstein Named Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Rachel Flor, Aug. 30, 2016. Kenneth R. Feinberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, today announced the selection of Steven M. Rothstein as the new Executive Director of the organization. An accomplished non-profit administrator, public servant, and entrepreneur, Rothstein led the world-renowned Perkins School for the Blind through a period of significant growth during his eleven year tenure as President of the institution.

“Steven Rothstein’s proven success leading complex and ambitious educational, human service, government and business organizations makes him uniquely suited to advance the strategic vision of the Kennedy Library Foundation,” said Feinberg. “Throughout his career, Steven has answered President Kennedy’s call to service, dedicating himself to social justice and human progress. We are fortunate that he will now lead the Foundation in inspiring the next generation to become engaged citizens and make the world a better place.”

Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero expressed his support for the selection of Rothstein, noting that “his background and experience come at a critical time as we build on the decades of public-private partnership which the Foundation and the Library have enjoyed.”

Beginning September 6, 2016, Rothstein will oversee all operations of the Foundation, a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization that provides financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a federal institution governed by the National Archives and Records Administration. In this role, Rothstein will work with staff to position the Foundation at the center of an interactive world-wide dialogue on President Kennedy’s legacy and the continued significance of the ideas, policies and programs that he advanced throughout his life and presidency.

Washington Examiner, Homeland eyes special declaration to take charge of elections, Paul Bedard, Aug. 30, 2016. Even before the FBI identified new cyberattacks on two separate state election boards, the Department of Homeland Security began considering declaring the election a "critical infrastructure," giving it the same control over security it has over Wall Street and the electric power grid.

The latest admissions of attacks could speed up that effort possibly including the upcoming presidential election, according to officials.

"We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said. "There's a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure," he said at a media conference earlier this month hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

ISIS with USAID tentsISIS fighters pose in an undated photo in a tent supplied (by unknown means) via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Associated Press via Fox News, Thousands buried in at least 72 ISIS mass graves, AP finds, Staff report, Aug. 30, 2016. Two scenes of horror on Sinjar mountain contain six burial sites and the bodies of more than 100 people, just a small fraction of the mass graves Islamic State (ISIS) extremists have scattered across Iraq and Syria.

In exclusive interviews, photos and research, the Associated Press has documented and mapped 72 of the mass graves, the most comprehensive survey so far, with many more expected to be uncovered as the Islamic State group's territory shrinks.

In Syria, AP has obtained locations for 17 mass graves, including one with the bodies of hundreds of members of a single tribe all but exterminated when ISIS extremists took over their region. For at least 16 of the Iraqi graves, most in territory too dangerous to excavate, officials do not even guess the number of dead. In others, the estimates are based on memories of traumatized survivors, ISIS propaganda and what can be gleaned from a cursory look at the earth. Still, even the known victims buried are staggering — from 5,200 to more than 15,000.

Sinjar mountain is dotted with mass graves, some in territory clawed back from ISIS after the group's onslaught against the Yazidi minority in August 2014; others in the deadly no man's land that has yet to be secured.

Washington Post, ISIS reports death of spokesman and senior leader in Aleppo, Missy Ryan and Greg Miller​, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was inspecting troops in Aleppo when he was killed, according to the group's media arm. U.S. officials were not able to confirm the report but suggested that if Adnani is in fact dead, the U.S. may not have played a role in his death.

 

Syrian Battle map at Turkish border as of Aug. 30, 2016 (map via SouthFront.org)

Syrian battle map at Turkish border as of Aug. 30, 2016 (map via SouthFront.org)

SouthFront, Race for Al Bab: Kurfish YPG Advancing from Afrin, Staff report, Aug. 30, 2016. On August 30, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) launched a fresh advance on the strategic ISIS-controlled city of Al-Bab in the Syrian province of Aleppo.

Al-Bab is a strategic logistic hub in northern Syria that lies between the areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG militias in northeastern and northwestern Syria. The Kurdish YPG and the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) seek to seize the city in order to link up the Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria.

Meanwhile, militant groups that participate in the Turkish-led operations in Syria have also claimed the goal to seize this strategic city. There are no doubts that these developments will lead to further escalations between the Turkish-led forces and the SDF/YPG in the Arab country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image/DCMA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)

SouthFront, Syrian Fighter Jets Hit Terrorists Intending to Join Aleppo Battle, Staff report, Aug. 30, 2016. Shelters and concentration points of terrorists, going to join others in the southern parts of Aleppo on orders of their commanders, were pounded by the Syrian Air Force. As result, terrorists suffered heavy losses, the Fars news agency reported, citing an unnamed battlefield source.

“The Jaish al-Fatah terrorists had just arrived in Idlib from Darayya after reaching an agreement with the Syrian government to leave town in the Damascus countryside and were ordered to join other terrorists in the Southern Aleppo,” the source said on Monday.

According to the source, Syrian aircraft launched air strikes on shelters and gathering points of Jaish al-Fatah terrorists after receiving relevant intelligence data. As some sources announced, the airstrikes resulted in the death of at least 20 terrorists and wounding tens of others. On Monday, Arabic-language media reported, citing unnamed informed local sources, that terrorist groups in the eastern part of Aleppo have been demoralized because their comrades left them to join the battle in the city of Jarabalus near the Turkish border.

RealClearPolitics, Polling Benchmarks Trump Needs to Overtake Clinton, David Byler, Aug. 30, 2016. Can Donald Trump win this election?  I analyzed polling from 11 presidential elections and came up with three Donald Trump 2016 buttonrules of thumb: Trump can still win, to do so he needs to be within a few points in late September, and there isn't much time to move polls in October - to help guide readers through the next two-plus months of polling.

Politico, City fights Trump over new D.C. hotel's tax bills, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 30, 2016. The city of Washington, D.C. is fighting Donald Trump's legal drive to cut his tax bills for the luxury hotel he's set to open in the Old Post Office Building next month Lawyers for the city are arguing that part of the suit Trump filed in June challenging assessments related to the new hotel was brought too late and the rest was brought too soon, according to a motion the city submitted Monday asking to throw the case out.

Attorneys for the Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul contend that the roughly $1.7 million annual tax bills for the development for 2015 and 2016 were too high because the complex was only partially completed and because the city used erroneous methods in calculating the value of the lease Trump signed with the federal government in 2013 to take over the historic Pennsylvania Avenue complex for between 60 and 100 years.

The filings show that as early as March of last year, the city knew Trump was preparing to make trouble about the taxes on the new hotel. "Paid Under Protest and Without Prejudice" is handwritten across the front and often the back of the checks paying the bills.

Daily Mail, Anthony Weiner emerges from hiding wearing his wedding ring despite being dumped by wife Huma as his sexts complaining about raising a child and his 'busted marriage' are revealed, Wills Robinson and Chris Spargo, Aug. 30, 2016. Anthony Weiner emerged from hiding Tuesday morning one day after being very publicly dumped by his long suffering wife Huma Abedin.

Washington Post, Fox News legal filing leaves host Bill O’Reilly dangling, Erik Wemple, Aug. 30, 2016. When Andrea Tantaros filed her Aug. 22 sexual harassment suit against Fox News and various top executives, she spared few colleagues. Defendants included the network itself, former chief Roger Ailes and four top executives. “The fish stinks from the head,” alleges the complaint, citing a coterie of lieutenants who “condoned” the alleged harassment by Ailes.

Broadening out from there, the suit cited the names of various colleagues who were only remotely related to the charges at hand. For instance, the document alleges that Ailes gossiped with Tantaros about various Fox News personalities. He reportedly said the following inappropriate things:

Not content to allow these folks to be thus embarrassed, Fox News, in a Monday filing that seeks to steer Tantaros’ suit into the secret world of arbitration, stood up for these folks. Such “gratuitous allegations,” says the Fox News motion, “serve no purpose other than to embarrass these individuals, and require a response.”

That response relies on resumes. That all makes sense. A network accused of rampant sexism must defend itself and its people. In this case, not all of its people, however. King of Cable News Bill O’Reilly stands accused in the Tantaros suit of pursuing his colleague, though he’s not named as a defendant in the suit. Here’s O’Reilly’s moment in the complaint:

[C]ommencing in February 2016, Bill O’Reilly (“O’Reilly”), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.”

So there are the allegations in the Tantaros suit; where is the rebuttal in the Fox News motion? It’s not in there. The Erik Wemple Blog this morning asked Fox News about the situation, and a spokesperson issued this statement: “There is nothing to defend in Tantaros’s suit because Mr. O’Reilly is not a defendant. He is mentioned once in a 37 page complaint, and that mention is not worth defending because it is untrue.” Fred Newman, a lawyer for O’Reilly, told The Post’s Paul Farhi just about the same thing: “I don’t think you should read anything into it. There is nothing to defend in Tantaros’s suit because Mr. O’Reilly is not a defendant.

Aug. 29

Washington Post, How to hack- and rig-proof U.S. elections, Editorial board, Aug. 29, 2016. A Monday report from Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff raised concerns that this year’s election will be rigged — though not in the way Donald Trump has predicted. Election systems in at least two states — Arizona and Illinois — have been compromised, seemingly by foreign hackers, possibly operating out of Russia or Iran. These revelations are only more worrying in light of the Russian government’s other apparent attempts to sway this year’s presidential election toward Mr. Trump, such as the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and subsequent leaking of party documents.

U.S. elections are hackable, though it is much harder than some appear to believe. There are three main areas of vulnerability, according to Andrew Appel, a Princeton University computer scientist. Hackers could tamper with voter records, removing names from official rolls. They could attack electronic voting machines. And they could disrupt the proper tallying of voting results as they are collected from various precincts.

In each case, one key to ensuring integrity is creating a paper trail that can be matched to the electronic records. Electronic voter rolls can be checked against paper ones; electronic vote counts can be compared to paper ballots filled in during the voting process; statewide vote tallies can be checked by examining and adding the results reported publicly in each precinct.

ABC News, Fired Manager Corey Lewandowski Still Involved in Donald Trump Campaign, John Santucci, Aug. 29, 2016. As Donald Trump arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a rally a week ago, he stepped out of his motorcade and was greeted by a familiar face: Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski had been fired in late-June after serving as Trump’s first campaign manager. Given the internal fighting, Trump’s losing ground in the polls, and the candidate’s and his family’s alleged lack of confidence in Lewandowski, the campaign cut him loose June 20.

Now, a few weeks and a lucrative cable network contract later, Lewandowski is back in the fold, according to multiple campaign sources. They describe Lewandowski’s relationship with the candidate as “stronger than ever.” Each day, Trump wakes up, usually in his Fifth Avenue penthouse, and has a routine round of calls, sources say, that includes his campaign leadership (which has changed in recent weeks), his children, some close allies and someone else quite frequently: Lewandowski. The billionaire’s children fired Lewandowski, an effort chiefly led by Donald Trump Jr., along with his sister Ivanka and her husband, real estate mogul Jared Kushner, according to sources.

Appearing last week on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper was asked that very question. “So he works for you guys,” Colbert said, meaning CNN. “Does he still get any money from the Trump people at the same time? “Cooper said, “I believe – I read he gets a continuing severance payment from the Trump campaign,” Cooper responded.

“So y’all are paying him and Trump is paying him, but he’s on your show doing analysis for a man he still gets cash from?” Colbert followed up. “Pretty much,” Cooper said. “Yeah, I guess that’s one way to look at it.”

Huffington Post, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, announced Monday that she is separating from her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Paige Lavender, Huma Abedin October-2010-flickrAug. 29, 2016. “After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband,” Abedin said in a statement first reported by NBC News. She is shown in a file photo from 2010 via Flickr. 

“Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life," she continued. "During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy.”

Abedin’s announcement comes after the New York Post reported Weiner sent photos of his crotch to another woman, including an image that featured the couple’s son. Weiner deleted his Twitter account on Monday. 

Daily Beast, Anthony Weiner Loses Huma Abedin and Two Jobs on the Same Day, Kelly Weill, The latest sexting scandal is too much for both his wife and several outlets who gave him a Anthony Weinersecond chance after his “Carlos Danger” escapades. After three sexting scandals, it’s over finally between Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner. But she’s not the only one to declare his latest scandal was one too many.

Weiner, once a rising star in New York politics, has been a semi-regular contributor to multiple news outlets even after the 2013 sexting scandal that cratered his bid for mayor. After the New York Post revealed that Weiner had continued the extramarital sexting, at least one news outlet has cut off his contributor role.

Television channel NY1 said Weiner would not be reprising his contributor role on any of its shows. “Anthony Weiner is on indefinite leave from the station,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The New York Daily News, where Weiner contributed occasional opinion columns since 2008 and became a columnist in 2014, said enough is enough.“[W]e won’t be running his columns in the future,” opinion editor Josh Greenman told The Daily Beast in an email. Business Insider, where Weiner also contributes, said they had no formal relationship to dissolve, and didn’t address his future at the site.

National Press Club, Sen. Bob Graham to Discuss Recently Released Classified Documents Detailing Saudi Involvement in 9/11 Plot and What Still Needs to be Revealed at Newsmaker Aug. 31, Jamie Horwitz, Mohamad AttaAug. 29, 2016. Last month, the Administration and Congress released a redacted version of the missing 28 pages from the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. These formerly classified documents reinforce the belief that the 19 hijackers — most of whom spoke little English, had limited education and had never before visited the United States — did not act alone in perpetrating the sophisticated 9/11 plot. It suggests a strong linkage between those terrorists [including Mohammad Atta, shown in a file photo] and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saudi charities, and other Saudi stakeholders.

Former Sen. Bob GrahamOn Aug. 31, at 10 am, in the National Press Club’s White Room, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (shown in a file photo from a TV appearance) will discuss what the documents reveal and what still needs to be learned nearly 15 years after the 9/11 attack. National Press Club President Thomas Burr will moderate.

Graham, during his three terms representing Florida, served on the Intelligence Committee for 10 years and as its chair from 2001-2003. He also was the co-chair of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attack of September 11, 2001.  
 
During Wednesday’s Newsmaker news conference Graham also will discuss the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which is designed to help families of the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11 seek justice against Saudi entities. JASTA could provide an additional window into the activities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda and the 19 hijackers. 

The Senate has passed JASTA unanimously but the legislation has not come up for a vote in the House.  Since leaving the Senate, Graham has spoken frequently about empowering citizens to be active participants rather than tranquil spectators. This is the subject of a soon-to-be-released book co-authored with Chris Hand entitled America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall – and Win.

As with all Newsmaker events, this forum is open to credentialed media and Press Club members, free of charge. No advance registration is required.

Reuters, Turkish forces deepen push into Syria, draw U.S. rebuke over targets, Lisa Barrington and Umit Bektas, Aug. 29, 2016. Turkish-backed forces pushed deeper into northern Syria on Monday and drew a Flag of Turkeyrebuke from NATO ally the United States, which said it was concerned the battle for territory had shifted away from targeting Islamic State. At the start of Turkey's now almost week-long cross-border offensive, Turkish tanks, artillery and warplanes provided Syrian rebel allies the firepower to capture swiftly the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from Islamic State militants.

Since then, Turkish forces have mainly pushed into areas controlled by forces aligned to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition that encompasses the Kurdish YPG militia and which has been backed by Washington to fight the jihadists. A group monitoring the tangled, five-year-old conflict in Syria said 41 people were killed by Turkish air strikes as Turkish forces pushed south on Sunday. Turkey denied there were any civilian deaths, saying 25 Kurdish militants were killed.

SouthFront, Turkish-backed ‘Syrian Interim Government’ Moving to Jarabulus – Reports, Staff reports, Aug. 29, 2016. The so-called ‘Syrian Interim Government’ is expected to move to the Syrian town of Jarabulus in the province of Aleppo, various media activists reported on August 29. If this is confirmed, the move will clearly indicate the Turkish will to, de-facto, separate northern Syria (between Azaz and Jarabulus) from the Syrian state and strengthen its diplomatic position for future international negotiations. Till then, the puppet ‘Syrian Interim Government’ will allow Turkey to provide media coverage for its actions aimed to setting up a buffer zone for its military presence in the Syrian territory.

The Syrian Interim Government is an alternative government of Syria, which has been formed by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (a mainly Turkish and Qatari-backed puppet opposition group without any significant presence on the ground in Syria).

President Obama with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud in Riyadh, April 20, 2016 (Saudi Press Agency)

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud receives President Barack Obama in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 20, 2016 (EPA/Saudi Press Agency)

Foreign Policy, 60 Lawmakers Seek Delay of Billion Dollar Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia, John Hudson, Aug. 29, 2016. In a sign that frustration is growing in Congress over Saudi Arabia, a bipartisan group of 60 lawmakers have signed a letter seeking to delay the Obama administration’s planned sale of $1.15 billion in arms and military equipment to Riyadh. The letter, addressed to President Barack Obama, cites the growing number of civilian casualties in Yemen caused by the Saudi-led military coalition, and the Obama administration’s failure to reign in its Arab ally.

American Flag“This military campaign has had a deeply troubling impact on civilians,” wrote the lawmakers in a draft obtained by Foreign Policy. “Just in the last several days, a Saudi airstrike on a school in Yemen killed 10 children – some as young as 6-years-old – and a Saudi airstrike on an MSF hospital in Yemen killed 11 people." The missive is expected to be sent to the White House on Tuesday.

The proposed sale, approved by the State Department on Aug. 9, includes up to 153 tanks, ammunition, hundreds of machine guns, and sundry other military equipment. Congress has 30 days to block the sale, but the lawmakers appear irritated that the notification of the sale came in the middle of Congress’s summer recess.

“Any decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia should be given adequate time for full deliberation by Congress,” wrote the lawmakers. “We are concerned, however, that the timing of this notification during the August congressional recess could be interpreted to mean that Congress has little time to consider the arms deal when it returns from recess within the 30 day window established by law.”

The 18-month conflict in Yemen has killed at least 6,000 people and displaced 2.5 million as Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-majority allies battle Houthi rebels for control of the country. The chaotic fighting has also allowed Islamist militants to deepen their foothold in the country. On Monday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a massive suicide truck bomb attack that killed 54 people in Aden.

Co-signers of the letter include a mix of Republicans and Democrats such as, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) “This is a first step, which shows that members of Congress are increasingly ready to move from expressing private concerns to the administration to taking public action to reduce U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen,” said Robert Naiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy.

Aug. 28

Pope Francis address on the Washington Mall, Sept. 23, 2015

Pope Francis address on the Washington Mall with (among others) Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sept. 23, 2015

Washington Post, Trump confronts a massive problem with Catholic voters, Aaron Blake​,​ Aug. 28, 2016. The Republican — who once feuded with the pope — has seen his numbers crater with the key bloc that has long been a swing vote in presidential elections. Polls point to this being an even bigger concern than his troubles connecting with women, minorities and young people.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoYes, the man who once feuded with the pope (how soon we forget that actually happened) is cratering among Catholics. Back in 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost the Catholic vote by just 2 points, 50 percent to 48 percent. And the GOP has actually won the Catholic vote as recently as 2004 and in 5 of the last 10 11 presidential elections.

But Trump trails among Catholics by a huge margin. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released this week shows him down 23 points, 55-32. Catholics have long been a swing vote in presidential elections, and right now they’re swinging hard for Clinton. It’s also hard to overstate just how significant Trump’s poor performance among Catholics is. That’s because they comprise about one-quarter of voters in the United States (25 percent in 2012 exit polls) and are about as big a voting bloc as non-whites (28 percent) and independents (29 percent).

The reasons for Trump’s struggles among this group are open to interpretation. Perhaps Pope Francis’s criticism of Trump and Trump’s surprisingly confrontational response have turned off Catholics to Trump’s candidacy.

WhoWhatWhy, Trump’s Poll Watchers Are More Likely to Do Harm Than Good, DonkeyHotey and Klaus Marre, Aug. 28, 2016. Traditional poll watchers play an important role on Election Day. What Donald Trump seems to have in mind, however, can quickly turn into a serious problem.

Kellyanne Conway Aug. 28, 2016Huffington Post, Trump Campaign Manager Doesn’t Even Try To Defend Him Over Dwyane Wade Tweet, Dave Jamieson, Aug. 28, 2016. The candidate took a personal tragedy and made it all about himself.  Donald Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway (above), found herself in the unenviable position Sunday morning of having to defend one of the candidate’s most despicable tweets ever. On Saturday, Trump exploited the death of Nykea Aldridge, a mother of four and the cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade. Aldridge was shot and killed in crossfire on Friday as she pushed a baby in a stroller in Chicago. In a boastful tweet, Trump claimed Aldridge’s death was an indication that African-Americans would vote for him:

”Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace asked Conway the only reasonable question to ask: “Do you think it’s right to have that kind of political response to a personal tragedy?” Conway didn’t even try to back up her boss on that one. Her response: “I was pleased that his next tweet expressed his condolences to the Wade family about the death of his cousin.”

Wallace also pressed Conway on Trump’s hire of Stephen Bannon, the chair of conservative news site Breitbart News, as his campaign’s chief executive. Wallace plucked a couple of choice Breitbart headlines to question the wisdom behind that personnel move: “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” and “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism Or Cancer?”

“This is the man Trump chose to run his campaign?” Wallace asked bluntly. Conway wasn’t eager to take that one on, either. “[Trump] chose me to manage his campaign,” she responded with a smile, “and I report directly to him.”

Reuters via Huffington Post, Turkey Pushes Farther Into Syria As Monitor Says Villagers Killed, Staff report, Aug. 28, 2016. Turkey’s push into Syria is a major escalation in their involvement in the war. Turkey’s Flag of Turkeyarmy and its allies thrust deeper into Syria on Sunday, seizing territory controlled by Kurdish-aligned forces on the fifth day of a cross-border campaign that a monitoring group said had killed at least 35 villagers. Turkish warplanes roared into northern Syria at daybreak and its artillery pounded what security sources said were sites held by Kurdish YPG militia, after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fierce overnight fighting around two villages.

Turkey’s military said 25 Kurdish militants were killed in its air strikes. There was no immediate comment from the YPG, but forces aligned with the Kurdish militia have said it withdrew from the area targeted by Turkey before the offensive. Turkish officials have openly stated that their goal in Syria is as much about ensuring Kurdish forces do not expand the territory they already control along Turkey’s border, as it is about driving Islamic State from its strongholds.

Syria war map as of Aug. 22, 2016 IHS via BBCBBC, Syria war: Turkey kills 25 people in latest round of air strikes, Staff report, Aug. 28, 2016. At least 25 people have been killed as Turkey continues to target Kurdish-held areas in Syria, near the border city of Jarablus. The Turkish military said those killed in Sunday's air strikes were Kurdish militants. Separately, a monitoring group said at least 35 civilians and four militants were killed by a wave of Turkish strikes in the same area.

Analysis, Guney Yildiz, BBC News: Turkey's coming into conflict with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) or their Arab allies could further complicate its military campaign. Ankara wants to force the Kurds to withdraw to the east of Euphrates River, stopping short of establishing a corridor to link two Kurdish-led areas in north-western Syria. Turkey enjoys tacit support from Russia, the Assad government and Iran in acting to prevent further territorial gains by the Kurds and their allies. The US, on the other side, has said it will try to prevent Turkey coming into conflict with its allies in the region.

New York Post, Anthony Weiner sexted busty brunette while his son was in bed with him, Rebecca Rosenberg and Bruce Golding, Aug. 28, 2016. Anthony Weiner poses with his son in this kinky shot he sent Anthony Weinerto the latest object of his online lust. This is baby-sitting — Anthony Weiner-style. While his wife, Huma Abedin, travels the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton, the disgraced ex-congressman has been sexting with a busty brunette out West — and even sent her a lurid crotch shot with his toddler son in the picture, The Post has learned.

Anthony Weiner's gal palThe stay-at-home cad shot the revealing photo while discussing massage parlors “near my old apartment” shortly after 3 a.m. on July 31, 2015, a screenshot of the exchange shows. Weiner was clearly aroused by his conversation with the 40-something divorcee when he abruptly changed the subject. "Someone just climbed into my bed,” Weiner wrote. “Really?” she responded.

Aug. 27

New York Times, ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias, Jonathan Mahler and Steve Eder, Aug. 27, 2016. As Donald J. Trump assumed an increasing role in his father’s business, the real estate company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented. An investigation by The New York Times uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family’s properties, in New York and beyond.

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCAAs Donald J. Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the business, the company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists and organizations that viewed equal housing as the next frontier in the civil rights struggle. The Justice Department undertook its own investigation and, in 1973, sued Trump Management for discriminating against blacks. Both Fred Trump, the company’s chairman, and Donald Trump, its president, were named as defendants. It was front-page news, and for Donald, amounted to his debut in the public eye.

“Absolutely ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying of the government’s allegations.

But an investigation by The New York Times — drawing on decades-old files from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, internal Justice Department records, court documents and interviews with tenants, civil rights activists and prosecutors — uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family’s properties, in New York and beyond.

That history has taken on fresh relevance with Mr. Trump (shown in a 2015 photo by Gage Skidmore at the CPAC convention) arguing that black voters should support him over Hillary Clinton, whom he has called a bigot. While there is no evidence that Mr. Trump personally set the rental policies at his father’s properties, he was on hand while they were in place, working out of a cubicle in Trump Management’s Brooklyn offices as early as the summer of 1968.

Greg PalastMSNBC, Rolling Stone exposé, Trump is right, The election is rigged. His buddies are rigging it: Palast On MSNBC with Joy Reid Discussing Rolling Stone Investigation, Greg Palast interviewed by Joy Reid, Aug. 27, 2016. A million minority voters face purge. Rolling Stone has unearthed a confidential list of voters who are marked to be purged, up to a million at risk by November.  Who?  Mostly, voters of color, i.e. Democrats.

In the just-released issue of Rolling Stone, a year’s-long investigation by Greg Palast and a team of experts, The GOP’s Secret War on Voters exposes a scheme by 29 Republican state voting officials to purge the voter rolls of those who don’t have a Republican tint to the their skin. Directing the secretive and racially poisonous attack is the nativist hero of the “Alt-Right,” Kris Kobach, the Trump operative who drafted the GOP’s platform and told Trump how to muscle Mexico into paying for his wall.

WhoWhatWhy, Preventing Ex-Cons from Voting: A Crime Against Democracy? WhoWhatWhy Staff, Aug. 27, 2016. The disenfranchisement of felons has played a key role in the outcome of elections throughout the country. In 2000, it even decided the presidential race. What impact will this undemocratic practice have this year?

Washington Post, Inside debate prep: Clinton’s careful case vs. Trump’s ‘WrestleMania,’ Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Anne Gearan, Aug. 27, 2016. Hillary Clinton is methodically preparing for the presidential debates as a veteran lawyer would approach her biggest trial. She pores over briefing books thick with policy arcana and opposition research. She internalizes tips from the most seasoned debate coaches in her party. And she rehearses, over and over again, to perfect the pacing and substance of her presentation.

Donald Trump is taking a different approach. He summons his informal band of counselors — including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, talk-radio host Laura Ingraham and ousted Fox News Channel chairman Roger Ailes — to his New Jersey golf course for Sunday chats. Over bacon cheeseburgers, hot dogs and glasses of Coca-Cola, they test out zingers and chew over ways to refine the Republican nominee’s pitch.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Makes Another Tragedy All About Him, Sam Levine, He exploited the shooting of a mother of four to his political advantage. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump exploited the death of a black mother in Chicago on Friday, saying it was a clear example of why African-Americans should vote for him. Nykea Aldridge, the cousin of Chicago Bulls player Dwyane Wade and a mother of four, was killed on Friday as she pushed a baby in a stroller. Aldridge was not the intended target. Wade tweeted about his cousin’s death on Friday, calling  for an end to “senseless gun violence.”

Donald Trump button open mouthLess than 24 hours later, Trump was exploiting Aldridge’s death in a tweet in which he misspelled Wade’s first name. Trump later deleted the tweet and posted another, correcting the spelling of Wade’s name. Several hours after his initial tweet, Trump tweeted his condolences to Wade and his family.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released at the beginning of August showed Hillary Clinton led Trump among African-Americans 91 to 1 percent. Recently, he has tried to appeal to African-Americans by claiming their communities had gotten so bad they have nothing to lose by voting for him. African-Americans have said that Trump’s description of their lives isn’t accurate. Trump tweeted a similar boast after a deadly shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub, where gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people, saying it showed his warnings about terrorism were correct.

Aug. 26

Donald Trump and Al BaldasaroHuffington Post, Donald Trump Fine With Supporter Who Called For Hillary Clinton's Execution, Arthur Delaney, Aug. 26, 2016. In July, Al Baldasaro, a Republican state representative in New Hampshire shown above, said Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” And now Donald Trump says he is unfamiliar with the remarks.

“I didn’t know that but I will tell you he’s a very fine person,” Trump told a New Hampshire TV station on Thursday. “He is a person that loves the military and loves the veterans.” Baldasaro is an advisor to the Trump campaign who has spoken at Trump events, and he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. His widely-reported call for Clinton’s execution prompted an investigation by the Secret Service, not to mention lots of condemnation.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoAnd Trump didn’t know that? The reporter asked again if Trump condoned Baldasaro’s call for Clinton’s execution. “I don’t know what he said,” Trump insisted. “You’d have to show me what he said.”

Of course, Trump loves to be vague, or say he’s not saying something the same instant he’s saying it, or even say he doesn’t know something that he clearly knows. Baldasaro, for his part, never apologized for saying a political opponent ought to be killed, which is kind of contrary to the entire point of democratic government. But he put out a statement on Twitter Friday morning criticizing Clinton for her handling of the 2012 terrorist attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

AP via Washington Post, Trump rebukes racism claims as Clinton warns of radicalism, Jonathan Lemire and Lisa Lerer, Aug. 26, 2016. Donald Trump confronted head-on allegations that he is racist on Thursday, defending his hard-line approach to immigration while trying to make the case to minority voters that Democrats have abandoned them. His general election opponent, Hillary Clinton, meanwhile hammered the point that Trump unleashed the “radical fringe” within the Republican Party, including anti-Semites and white supremacists, dubbing the billionaire businessman’s campaign as one that will “make America hate again.”

Donald Trump for President logoThe ping-pong accusations come as the two candidates vie for minorities and any undecided voters with less than three months until Election Day. Weeks before the first early voting, Trump faces the urgent task of revamping his image to win over those skeptical of his candidacy. In a tweet shortly after Clinton wrapped up her speech in the swing state of Nevada, Trump said she “is pandering to the worst instincts in our society. She should be ashamed of herself!” Clinton is eager to capitalize on Trump’s slipping poll numbers, particularly among moderate Republican women turned off by his controversial campaign.

Huffington Post, Trump’s Doctor Has An Amazing Explanation For That Bizarre Medical Report, Mollie Reilly, Aug. 26, 2016. Donald Trump’s personal physician told NBC News that he wrote a now-infamous medical report about the candidate in just five minutes. Dr. Harold Bornstein, a gastroenterologist who has been Trump’s doctor for more than three decades, released a brief note last December declaring the reality TV star would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” The four-paragraph letter, which billed Trump’s health as “astonishingly excellent,” was far less detailed than medical reports traditionally released by presidential candidates.

In an interview with NBC airing Friday, Bornstein said he spent “five minutes” on the letter while a car sent by Trump waited for him outside his office in Manhattan. “I get rushed and I get anxious when I get rushed, so I try to get four or five lines done as fast as possible,” Bornstein explained. “In a rush, I think some of those words didn’t come out exactly the way they were meant.” Bornstein and his bizarre note have come under scrutiny again as Trump and his campaign surrogates have floated conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pressed Trump campaign manager Kellyane Conway on the issue during an interview Thursday.

Washington Post, With four-letter words and a secret binder, Maine’s governor starts row over race and crime, David Weigel, Aug. 26, 2016. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has reignited a debate about race and Maine Gov. Paul Lepage MSNBCcrime in his state. Over 36 spittle-flecked hours, he insisted that the vast majority of violent criminals were black or Hispanic, and blew up at a Democratic legislator whom he believed had — and who had not — accused him of racism.

On Wednesday night, at a town hall meeting in Berwick, LePage (shown in a file photo via MSNBC) was asked about month-old remarks that described most drug dealers in the state as black or Hispanic people with thuggish names.

"I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state,” LePage said, according to the Portland Press Herald. “I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn.”

The next day, as the comment went viral, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine issued a Freedom of Information Act request asking for the binder, noting that LePage had suggested an "alarming disparity in arrests" given data that shows white and nonwhite people committing drug crimes at an equal rate. In a stormy encounter with the press, LePage repeated himself, but refused to reveal who was in the binder.

The Atlantic, Facebook Purges Journalists, Immediately Promotes a Fake Story for 8 Hours, Robinson Meyer, Aug 29, 2016. Why did the company trend a false article about Megyn Kelly? Last week, Facebook made a surprise overhaul of its “Trending Stories” feature, the sidebar that highlights some of the most popular news stories on Facebook. Where the company had previously provided a short, human-written summary of the news at hand, it now only described the story in a one or two-word phrase: “#Toyko2020: Japanese Prime Minister Appears in Surprise Performance During Rio Ceremony,” became just “#Tokyo2020.”

Facebook’s decision to simplify the feature seemed like an attempt to wriggle out of editorial responsibility: What had been a messy human-led process would now become an algorithm-guided one. The company also laid off the 26 employees who had run the feature—19 curators and seven copyeditors—with little warning on Friday, according to Quartz.

Yet the company assured users that it would still remain discerning. “There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality—for example, confirming that a topic is tied to a current news event in the real world,” said a release from the company on Friday.

If so, they’re not doing their jobs very well. From Sunday evening to early Monday morning, Facebook allowed the topic “Megyn Kelly” to trend. Driving the trend was an article claiming that Kelly had been fired by Fox News for supporting Hillary Clinton. The story, hosted by endingthefed.com, was completely inaccurate: Kelly has not endorsed Clinton, and she has not been fired by Fox. Yet with the assistance of Facebook’s algorithmic editors, it garnered 200,000 likes.

On Sunday night, I asked Facebook whether a human editor approved the topic before it trended, and how it plans to keep this from happening in the future; it had not responded by press time.

Washington Post, Baltimore cops pressured to police differently, but also begged to clear the corners, Peter Hermann, Aug. 26, 2016. “Please help me,” pleaded gas station owner Chaudhry Masood, whose parking lot has been overrun by loiterers and where a 17-year-old was recently shot and killed. At the same time, in an adjacent church hall, Justice Department civil rights attorneys were discussing how to overhaul the police department with another group of residents intent on curbing the abusive behavior of corner-clearing cops. Those attending included black youths long targeted by police.

The organizers of each gathering didn’t know the other was taking place. And as people showed up Aug. 18, a priest from St. Peter Claver Catholic Church hurriedly attached paper signs to metal railings to direct the flow. The meeting with the police community relations council to the right, the meeting with Justice Department lawyers to the left.

The disconnect between those focused on crime and those focused on police reform looms large as Baltimore reaches an agreement with the federal government to restructure the department and end unconstitutional detentions, arrests and beatings. They’d come to the same church on the same night to confront the same dilemma facing this city’s beleaguered police department. But what they wanted from the police couldn’t have been more different.

Eight days had passed since the Justice Department issued a scathing review of the Baltimore Police Department, detailing years of racial discrimination in its law enforcement practices. Yet the 40 or so longtime residents who gathered in a West Baltimore church basement on this August night — many of whom were older black women afraid to walk to the store or leave their homes at night — had come to urge police to clear their corners of miscreants and restore order to their crime-plagued community.

SouthFront, Syrian War Report: Kurds Accuse Turkish-led Forces in Chemical Attack, Staff report, Aug. 26, 2016. The Turkish-led forces are expanding operations in the area of Jarablus and the whole northern Syria under pretext of combating ISIS. The Turkish-led forces engaged Kurdish People’s Defense Force (YPG) units of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) south of Jarabulus. Meanwhile, the Kurdish media outlet “AHNA” reported that Turkish-backed militants shelled the SDF-controlled village of Dandaniyah with projectiles laden with chemical weapons. AHNA released a video and several images allegedly confirming the incident. However, no evidence of shelling has been provided.

In Ghouta, Jaysh al-Islam released an infographic which claimed a number of Syrian Arab Army casualties in the assault on Housh al Nasri. The Islamist group reported 160 SAA personnel killed, 6 tanks, 4 BMPs, 4 ‘Shilka’ anti-aircraft guns and 2 trucks destroyed. The city of Daraya will return to the government control following a deal with Liwa Shuhada al-Islam and local leaders. Some militants will take up the amnesty offer given by the Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic while others would be transported to the province of Idlib. The agreement came in force on August 26 and the process of evacuation has begun. 700 militants are evacuating from Daraya. 200 militants surrendered.

Aug. 25

Huffington Post, Top GOP Congressman Tells Trump To Release His Taxes, Ben Walsh, Aug. 25, 2016. Donald Trump should release his tax returns and full medical records, Republican Chairman of the House Jason ChaffetzOversight Committee Jason Chaffetz (Utah) said Wednesday. “You’re just going to have to do that, it’s too important,” said Chaffetz (shown in an official photo) on CNN.

“If you’re going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you’re going to have to open up your kimono and show everything, your tax returns, your medical records.” Chaffetz said that the standard applies to both candidates. Clinton has released her 2015 tax return and medical history. Trump has only released a cursory, bombastic letter from his doctor.

Washington Post, Clinton, Trump exchange racially charged accusations, John Wagner and Jenna Johnson, Aug. 25, 2016. A series of racially charged accusations dominated the presidential campaign Thursday, with Democrat Hillary Clinton accusing Donald Trump of “taking hate groups mainstream,” while the Republican nominee repeatedly claimed that Clinton is a “bigot” toward African Americans.

Washington Post, The Republican is seen as appealing to bigotry and is viewed unfavorably by half the country, Philip Bump, Aug. 25, 2016. A new survey from Quinnipiac University shows Donald Trump 2016 buttonHillary Clinton with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump, with more than half of respondents preferring her candidacy. "We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide," the assistant director of the poll wrote in his summary, which of course is the sort of thing that is currently being passed around Clinton's headquarters in Brooklyn to semi-constrained giddiness.

But this is one poll, and we don't get excited about the top-line numbers from one poll, because we are not the Hill. As Nate Silver put it on Twitter, recent polls have been "a cherrypicker's delight," since some (like the Los Angeles Times/USC poll) have showed a close race and others, like this one, have shown a less-close one. 

Washington Post, Here’s how Trump got the AP story on Clinton Foundation donors all wrong, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Aug. 25, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s critics jumped on an Aug. 23 Associated Press analysis of her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors while secretary of state. Trump, as did many others, relayed the findings of the AP analysis using misleading language that appeared in a promotional tweet that was retweeted or liked more than 10,000 times.

We are not going to award Pinocchios to this specific claim. Instead, we will set the record straight and recap what was reported in the initial story, the Clinton campaign’s criticism of the coverage and the AP’s defense.

Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish Premier Binali Yildirim meet in Turkey, Aug. 24, 2016 (Turkish prime minister's press office via Reuters)Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish Premier Binali Yildirim meet in Turkey, Aug. 24, 2016 (Turkish prime minister's press office via Reuters)

The Atlantic, The Biden Doctrine: Has the vice president made a lasting contribution in foreign policy? Steve Clemons, Aug. 25, 2016.  Joe Biden is now the vice president who will not be president. He’s been VP for seven and a half years, preceded by decades of work on U.S. foreign policy in the Senate, but the question remains whether he is distinctive in any memorable way for his work in international affairs. Was he simply a glad-handing flack pushing the Obama agenda, a manic schmoozer of foreign leaders? A gaffe-prone foreign-policy dilettante who, in the long run, won’t matter?

Reuters via SouthFront, Biden: Turkey Prepared to Stay in Syria As Long As Needed, Staff report, Aug. 25, 2016. Turkey is ready to operate in Syria as long as its required for an anti-ISIS fight, US Vice President Joe Biden told reporters in Sweden on August 25, following his visit to Ankara. Biden visited Turkey at the same day when it launched the “Euphrates Shield” military operation with stated aim of clearing the town of Jarablus in northern Syria of the ISIS terrorist group. However, it’s clear that the Turkish move is pursuing much more strategic goals. “I think the Turks are prepared to stay in the effort to take out ISIL [Daesh] as long as it takes,” Biden said. “I think there has been a gradual mindshift set change in Turkey with the realization that ISIL is an existential threat to Turkey. They demonstrated that.”

Texas Tribune, Travis County GOP set to try to oust morrow, Staff report, Aug. 25, 2016. The controversial chairman of the Travis County Republican Party has given up his post by running for president as a write-in candidate, Texas GOP officials said Thursday, signaling the end of the Robert Morrow era in the state's fifth-largest county. Morrow, an Austin resident who got the job in a surprise election earlier this year, appears to have forced his own resignation by filing to run — and successfully getting on the ballot — as a write-in choice. Under state law, the county chair of a political party is not allowed to also be a candidate for federal, state or county office, or even apply to be a candidate.

Prospective write-in candidates had faced a Monday deadline to submit 38 signatures to appear on the November ballot. Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Texas secretary of state’s office, said Thursday morning that Morrow met the threshold. Meanwhile, Evan McMullin, an independent candidate who has been making an effort at ballot access across the country, had his application rejected. In a statement Thursday afternoon, state GOP Chairman Tom Mechler said Morrow "became ineligible to hold the office of Travis County Republican Chair" upon filing Friday to be a write-in candidate. Morrow told The Texas Tribune earlier Thursday he could not be ousted.

"They don’t have the grounds to do that, and anybody who says so is probably lying," Morrow said. "The case law on this is probably extremely thin." Morrow has brought national notoriety to the Travis County GOP through his steady stream of tweets alleging conspiracy theories involving Democratic and Republican officials, including GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Morrow camped out outside events Trump held Tuesday in Austin, wearing his trademark jester's hat.

Morrow was elected chairman in March with 54 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent James Dickey. He quickly built a reputation for his conspiracy theories — which accuse politicians living and dead of adultery, murder and pedophilia — his lewd denunciations and his outlandish public appearances.

Aug. 24

Kris KobachKansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach , a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, helped found the Kansas proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration. The Crosscheck program he started has spread to over two dozen states, tagging more than 7 million voters as possibly suspect.

Rolling Stone, Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump's advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November? Greg Palast (shown below), Aug. 24, 2016. The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters. Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump's advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?

Greg Palast file photoWhen Donald Trump claimed, "the election's going to be rigged," he wasn't entirely wrong. But the threat was not, as Trump warned, from Americans committing the crime of "voting many, many times." What's far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud. The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.

The data is processed through a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is being promoted by a powerful Republican operative, and its lists of potential duplicate voters are kept confidential. But Rolling Stone obtained a portion of the list and the names of 1 million targeted voters. According to our analysis, the Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.

America will vote for president in a country where it's easier to buy a gun than vote in many states

Like all weapons of vote suppression, Crosscheck is a response to the imaginary menace of mass voter fraud. In the mid-2000s, after the Florida-recount debacle, the Bush administration launched a five-year investigation into the allegedly rampant crime but found scant evidence of wrongdoing. Still, the GOP has perpetuated the myth in every national election since. Recently, North Carolina Board of Elections chief Kim Strach testified to her legislature that 35,750 voters are "registered in North Carolina and another state and voted in both in the 2012 general election." Yet despite hiring an ex-FBI agent to lead the hunt, the state has charged exactly zero double voters from the Crosscheck list. Nevertheless, tens of thousands face the loss of their ability to vote – all for the sake of preventing a crime that rarely happens. So far, Crosscheck has tagged an astonishing 7.2 million suspects, yet we found no more than four perpetrators who have been charged with double voting or deliberate double registration.

On its surface, Crosscheck seems quite reasonable. Twenty-eight participating states share their voter lists and, in the name of dispassionate, race-blind Big Data, seek to ensure the rolls are up to date. To make sure the system finds suspect voters, Crosscheck supposedly matches first, middle and last name, plus birth date, and provides the last four digits of a Social Security number for additional verification.

In reality, however, there have been signs that the program doesn't operate as advertised. Some states have dropped out of Crosscheck, citing problems with its methodology, as Oregon's secretary of state recently explained: "We left [Crosscheck] because the data we received was unreliable."

In our effort to report on the program, we contacted every state for their Crosscheck list. But because voting twice is a felony, state after state told us their lists of suspects were part of a criminal investigation and, as such, confidential. Then we got a break. A clerk in Virginia sent us its Crosscheck list of suspects, which a letter from the state later said was done "in error."

The Virginia list was a revelation. In all, 342,556 names were listed as apparently registered to vote in both Virginia and another state as of January 2014. Thirteen percent of the people on the Crosscheck list, already flagged as inactive voters, were almost immediately removed, meaning a stunning 41,637 names were "canceled" from voter rolls, most of them just before Election Day.

We were able to obtain more lists – Georgia and Washington state, the total number of voters adding up to more than 1 million matches – and Crosscheck's results seemed at best deeply flawed. We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named "James Brown" are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.

And those promised birth dates and Social Security numbers? The Crosscheck instruction manual says that "Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match" – which leaves a crucial step in the identification process up to the states. Social Security numbers weren't even included in the state lists we obtained.

We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck's "childish methodology." He added, "God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You're probably suspected of voting in 27 states."

Swedlund's statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there's an 89 percent chance you're African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there's a 94 percent chance you're Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there's a 95 percent chance you're Asian.

This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? "I'm a data guy," Swedlund says. "I can't tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities."

Every voter that the state marks as a legitimate match receives a postcard that is colorless and covered with minuscule text. The voter must verify his or her address and mail it back to their secretary of state. Fail to return the postcard and the process of taking your name off the voter rolls begins.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan file photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (File photo)

Washington Post, Syrian rebels backed by Turkish tanks capture key border stronghold from ISIS, wipe out Islamic State elements near the border town of Jarabulus, Erin Cunningham, Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly, Aug. 24, 2016. Syrian rebels backed by Turkish troops and tanks recaptured the Islamic State’s last major stronghold on the Syrian-Turkish border on Wednesday, inflicting yet another defeat on the militants rapidly dwindling “caliphate.”

Flag of TurkeyThe capture of Jarabulus deprives the Islamic State of a crucial foothold on the Turkish border, used for funneling foreign fighters and supplies, and is expected to help accelerate the militants’ demise elsewhere across its self-proclaimed caliphate.

The offensive was spearheaded by Turkey, which sent tanks, troops and warplanes into Syria for the first time in the country’s five-year-old war to help a force of hundreds of Syrian rebels. The operation also includes U.S. advisers, who are advising the operation from inside Turkey, while American surveillance aircraft are providing overflight intelligence and are poised to contribute U.S. airstrikes if necessary, according to a senior Obama administration official.

It coincided with a crucial visit to Ankara by Vice President Biden, and it seemed intended to demonstrate that Turkey and the United States remain close allies in the war against the Islamic State, notwithstanding tensions that have strained their relationship since a failed coup attempt last month.

Syria Map Aug. 26, 2016 via CNNVoice of America, Biden: US Had No Prior Knowledge of Turkish Coup, Staff report, Aug. 24, 2016.  U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has said the United States had no prior knowledge of the Turkish coup and would never support the treasonous behavior of the military. He spoke to the press after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara Wednesday. Biden said the U.S. will provide any assistance Turkey needs as it moves to strengthen its democracy and that the United States puts paramount importance on its relationship with Turkey, a crucial NATO ally. en arrived in Turkey earlier in the day, as Turkish military forces launched their first offensive into Syria to target Islamic State militants and Kurdish fighters.

U.S. warplanes aided the Turkish military incursion. The vice president will also meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Biden is President Barack Obama's highest-ranking and closest surrogate, often representing the White House in difficult diplomatic situations. He is known for cultivating personal relationship with world leaders, including with Erdogan, whom he calls an "old friend." In Ankara Wednesday, Erdogan again called on the United States to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for backing the failed July coup. The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that it has received an extradition request for the 75-year-old Gulen from Turkey, however the request is not explicitly linked to his alleged role in planning the plot. U.S. Justice Department officials say a decision on the extradition request will be based on evidence and the rules of the two countries’ extradition treaty.

Biden and Erdogan are also likely to discuss their joint efforts to combat the Islamic State terrorist group. Turkey has the second largest military force in NATO and is also part of the U.S-led coalition to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In recent months, Turkey has been a frequent target of IS terrorist attacks.

Huffington Post, AP’s Bombshell Clinton Foundation Report Comes Under Scrutiny, Michael Calderone, Aug. 24, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign fired back Wednesday after a major Associated Press report raised serious ethical questions over ties between the State Department under Clinton and her family’s charitable organization, with Clinton’s team arguing that the AP data was woefully out of context.

The AP found that of the 154 meetings Clinton held with private officials (i.e., those not in the domestic or foreign governments), 85 of those were with people who “gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation.” The finding set off a round of criticism aimed at Clinton for blurring ethical lines and granting access to friends and high bidders. But in the hours that followed, questions began to mount about the presentation of the AP story.

Vox, The AP’s big exposé on Hillary meeting with Clinton Foundation donors is a mess, Matthew Yglesias, Aug. 24, 2016. Tuesday afternoon, Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan of the Associated Press released the results of a review of State Department appointment data that they used to make some striking claims about Hillary Clinton’s schedule as secretary of state.

According to their reporting, Clinton spent a remarkably large share of her time as America’s chief diplomat talking to people who had donated money to the Clinton Foundation. She went out of her way to help these Clinton Foundation donors, and her decision to do so raises important concerns about the ethics of her conduct as secretary and potentially as president. It’s a striking piece of reporting that made immediate waves in my social media feed, as political journalists of all stripes retweeted the story’s headline conclusions.

Donald Trump 2016 buttonExcept it turns out not to be true. The nut fact that the AP uses to lead its coverage is wrong, and Braun and Sullivan’s reporting reveals absolutely no unethical conduct. In fact, they found so little unethical conduct that an enormous amount of space is taken up by a detailed recounting of the time Clinton tried to help a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s also the recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Hillary Clinton has met more than 154 people. The stark fact highlighted in the AP’s tweet and social share card is, for starters, totally false. If you read that and thought to yourself that it seems wrong for the secretary of state to be spending so much time in meetings with Clinton Foundation donors rather than talking to US government officials and representatives of foreign countries, then you are in luck. To generate the 154 figure, the AP excluded from the denominator all employees of any government, whether US or foreign. Then when designing social media collateral, it just left out that part, because the truth is less striking and shareable.

Even so, the number 154 is preposterously low, as Clinton would routinely meet dozens of civil society leaders, journalists, and others on any one of her many foreign trips as secretary of state. In the campaign’s official response to the AP, they argue that the data is "cherry picked" from a "limited subset" of her schedule. But regardless of that, the AP’s social media claims are simply false — ignoring well over 1,000 official meetings with foreign leaders and an unknown number of meetings with domestic US officials.

PR Newswire, American Media, Inc. Completes Debt Refinancing, Aug. 24, 2016. American Media, Inc. (AMI) today announced that it had successfully completed the refinancing of its capital structure.  As a result, AMI reduced its annual cash interest expense by $20 million and extended the maturity on its debt through 2022.

David Pecker"This provides the company with the liquidity and free cash flow to strategically compete in the new media landscape," said David J. Pecker, (shown in file photo), AMI chairman, president and CEO.

American Media, Inc. (AMI) owns and operates the leading print and digital celebrity and active lifestyle media brands in the United States. AMI's titles include National Enquirer, Star, OK!, Globe, National Examiner, Soap Opera Digest, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Flex and Muscle & Fitness Hers.  AMI also manages 10 different digital sites including RadarOnline.com, OKmagazine.com, MensFitness.com and MuscleandFitness.com. AMI's magazines have a combined total circulation of 2.3+ million and reach more than 37 million men and women each month. AMI's digital properties reach an average of 50 million unique visitors and over 350 million page views monthly.

Aug. 23

The Hill, Half of Clinton's nongovernment meetings at State were with donors: AP, Jesse Byrnes, Aug. 23, 2016. More than half of the meetings that Hillary Clinton reportedly took with people outside the Hillary Clintongovernment while serving as secretary of State were with Clinton Foundation donors, according to The Associated Press. At least 85 of those 154 people, whom met or had phone conversations with Clinton, had donated to Clinton's family foundation, either directly or through companies or groups, according to news service's review published Tuesday.

The AP said that the meetings apparently didn't violate legal agreements that Clinton and former President Bill Clinton signed before she served in the Obama administration starting in 2009. Officials from at least 16 foreign governments that donated upward of $170 million to the Clinton Foundation also met with Clinton, though the AP noted they presumably met on state business.

The foundation has faced a new round of scrutiny recently as Clinton leads Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in polls. The Clinton Foundation announced last week that it would no longer accept foreign or corporate donations if Clinton becomes president, though Trump has called for the Clintons to shutter it immediately.

Washington Post, Andrea Tantaros sues Fox News, calling it a ‘sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult,’ Paul Farhi, Aug. 23, 2016. The former host (shown in a file photo) alleges that she was sexually harassed by Roger Ailes and that his lieutenants retaliated against her for complaints.

Andrea Tantaros Fox Photo“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” her lawsuit says. A Fox spokeswoman declined to address Tantaros’s claims, saying the network does not comment on pending litigation. Through his attorneys, Ailes has denied Carlson’s claims.

Fox and Tantaros have been at odds since last year, when the network said she breached her employment contract by writing a book without Fox’s approval. She has not appeared on Fox for months as a result of the dispute. Fox’s attorney has previously claimed in an arbitration hearing that her claims of sexual harassment were an attempt to gain leverage in her dispute over the book. Since Carlson’s suit was filed July 6, more than 20 women have told her attorneys that they were harassed by Ailes during his long career in television, dating as far back as the mid-1960s.

Huffington Post,Trump Tower Rent Went Up When Campaign Donors Started Paying It "After bragging for a year about how cheaply he was running his campaign, S.V. Date, Aug. 23, 2016. Donald Trump is spending more freely now that other people are contributing -- particularly when the beneficiary is himself. Trump nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign, according to a Huffington Post review of Federal Election Commission filings."

Washington Post, Trump’s deportation plan: Do what Obama is doing but ‘with a lot more energy,’ Jenna Johnson, Aug. 23, 2016. This strategy marks a sudden change for the Republican nominee, who has presented himself as a politically incorrect outsider who is not afraid to take extreme measures to combat illegal immigration, such as deporting 11 million people or constructing a massive wall along the Southern border. For more than a year, Trump insisted that all illegal immigrants "have got to go" and that he would create a "deportation force" to carry out the task.

This new strategy marks a sudden change in tone for the GOP nominee, who previously said he was not afraid to take extreme measures to combat illegal immigration. Trump struck a starkly different tone during an interview with Bill O'Reilly that aired on Fox News on Monday night.

 

Ivanka Trump Shoe design Aqyazzura Wild Thing shoe

Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C.

Huffington Post, Ivanka Trump Responds Predictably To Aquazzura’s Shoe-Copying Lawsuit, She denies, denies and denies some more, Jamie Feldman, Aug. 23, 2016. There’s at least one thing Ivanka Trump wants to throw away even more than that shady letter she got from an indie jewelry brand. You might recall her shoe line was slapped with a trademark lawsuit by Italian luxury brand Aquazzura back in June for allegedly copying its designs. Now, in a move that should surprise no one, Trump wants the whole suit thrown out. In a court document filed Friday, she denies any wrongdoing in the case of the uncanny similarities between shoe designs, arguing she hasn’t engaged in any “infringement..., unfair competition or deceptive trade practices.”

Trump denies having copied Aquazzura’s designs ― in fact, the word “denies” appears 65 times in the document  ― and says repeatedly that she “lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations” against her.

BBC, Turkey shells both IS and Kurdish positions in Syria, Staff report, Aug. 23, 2016. Turkey has bombarded so-called Islamic State (IS) targets across the border in northern Syria ahead of an expected ground attack on an IS-held town. Some 1,500 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have also gathered in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, poised for an offensive to drive IS out of Jarablus. A senior rebel official quoted by China FlagReuters said they were fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.  Turkey has also shelled Syrian Kurdish forces nearby, apparently to deter them from taking Jarablus themselves. Gaziantep was hit by a suicide bombing on Saturday which killed 54 people.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in Gaziantep says the attack on a wedding in the city, blamed on IS, may have been spurred by reports of the imminent Syrian rebel offensive. However, Turkey is also wary of moves that might bolster Syrian Kurdish forces, known as the YPG, which it views as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy since the 1980s.

SouthFront, China Increases Its Involvement in the Syrian War, Staff report, Aug. 23, 2016. Last week Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China’s Central Military Commission, Guan Youfei arrived in Damascus for talks with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij and other officials of the Damascus government. Guan announced that Beijing and Damascus had come to an agreement that the Chinese military will provide humanitarian aid to Syria and discussed a possibility of involvement of Chinese military servicemen in training of the Syrian army personnel and other operations to ensure security in the Arab country.

Xinhua has not provided details about the agreed Chinese humanitarian aid mission in Syria. Furthermore, there are constant rumors that Chinese military advisers already operate in Syria, observing Damascus’ anti-terrorism efforts. However, there is no clear evidence that China has been involved into the conflict. Guan also met in Syria with an unknown Russian general during his visit to Damascus. It’s important to note that Guan’s visit came just before crucial military developments in and around Syria like a deployment of Russian aircraft at the Hamedan Air Base in Iran and the escalation between the US-backed Kurdish forces and pro-government militias in eastern Syria.

Raw Story, ‘Trump is a child rapist’: Texas GOP official to protest the Republican ‘psychopath’ at Austin rally, David Ferguson, Aug. 23, 2016. A Texas GOP official is planning to protest Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rally in Austin Tuesday evening by wearing a signboard that accuses Trump of “child rape.” The Austin Chronicle reported that Robert Morrow — chairman of the Travis County Republican Party — will join the ranks of protesters expected outside the appearance at Austin’ Luedecke Arena.

“Donald Trump’s psychopathy has been on full display on the national political stage for over a year,” said Morrow in a press release. “I want folks to know that Trump is a child rapist and that he is currently being sued in a civil action in NY federal courts for raping, slapping an 13-year-old girl at a Jeffrey Epstein party in 1994. Trump also threatened to murder the girl, now age 35 and a Jane Doe plaintiff, and also murder her family if she ever told how he (Trump) sexually abused her.”

The lurid allegations were filed in federal court in June. The anonymous plaintiff said that Trump lured her and other underage girls to parties with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The former reality TV star reportedly enticed the girls with promises of modeling contracts, then took advantage of them sexually. Morrow is notorious in Texas political circles for his strident views and his willingness to spout wild allegations about Democratic and Republican political figures.

He has alleged that former Gov. Rick Perry (R) is a “rampaging bisexual adulterer.” He has called Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton an “angry bull dyke.” Former presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Morrow once said is “very likely a gayman who got married.”

Morrow was narrowly elected to his seat as party chairman. Some less extreme Republicans have been horrified to see him at the helm of their party.

“We will explore every single option that exists, whether it be persuading him to resign, trying to force him to resign, constraining his power, removing his ability to spend money or resisting any attempt for him to access data or our social media account,” said Travis County Republican vice-chair Matt Mackowiak to the Texas Tribune when Morrow was elected. “I’m treating this as a coup and as a hostile takeover.”Austin American-Statesman, GOP Chairman kicked out of Trump rally for protesting, Staff report, Aug. 23, 2016. Travis County Republican party chairman Robert Morrow was escorted off the Travis County Expo Center property by police, during a Donald Trump rally, for carrying a sign and yelling to attendees that Donald Trump is a “child rapist.”

AP via McClatchy DC, Missouri tobacco tax hike proposal survives court challenge, Summer Ballentine, Aug. 23, 2016. A Missouri proposal to raise cigarette taxes to benefit early childhood programs can stay on the Nov. 8 ballot, a judge ruled Tuesday. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem dismissed efforts to remove the measure. His ruling, which opponents vowed to appeal, came the same day critics of another proposal that would reinstate campaign contribution limits in the state asked a different Cole County judge to take it off the ballot.

Jason KanderThe cigarette proposal would phase in a 60-cent-per-pack increase between 2017 to 2020 and impose a 67-cent-a-pack fee, adjusted annually with inflation, on cigarettes sold by smaller companies that did not participate in a 1998 settlement between big tobacco companies and states. Missouri's cigarette tax is currently the lowest in the nation.

The issue went to Beetem after an appeals court decision earlier this summer that changed the wording of the proposal summary that voters will see on the ballot. Opponents — who include a group backing a competing ballot proposal to raise a 23-cent-a-pack cigarette tax that would fund transportation infrastructure — argued that petition signatures gathered under the original summary should be tossed out, a move that would have knocked the measure off the ballot.

But Beetem ruled that those signatures were valid and that Secretary of State Jason Kander (shown in file photo) followed the law when he put the measure on the ballot, despite the changed summary.

Kansas City Pitch, Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the country. Why does a tobacco company want to raise it?  David Martin, Aug. 23, 2016. Tobacco exemplifies the occasionally baroque nature of Missouri politics. The state’s current tax on cigarettes — 17 cents a pack — is the lowest in the country, even though Missouri is not a major tobacco-growing state. From 2000 to 2009, 46 states and the District of Columbia increased cigarette taxes, raising the average state cigarette tax by 92 cents a pack, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a nonprofit group. Many of these tax hikes were passed via ballot initiative. But voters in Missouri rejected new taxes on cigarettes in 2002, 2006 and 2012.

Some background: In return for billions of dollars, the states agreed to drop the lawsuits they had filed against the major manufacturers to recover the costs of providing medical care to people suffering from smoking-related illnesses. Missouri receives about $130 million each year under the agreement.

States required cigarette manufacturers that were not part of the settlement to make escrow payments as security for possible future lawsuits against them. These “non-participating manufacturers,” as they’re known, sell mostly discount brands (Echo, Decade, etc.). In addition to setting aside funds for future judgments, the escrow laws protect the big manufacturers from being steeply undercut on price by companies not subject to the settlement agreement.

The 2012 ballot initiative proposed raising the tax on cigarettes by 73 cents a pack. It also contained language addressing the small-manufacturer loophole. Alas, the measure failed by fewer than 41,000 votes.

R.J. Reynolds was one of the big four (now big two) tobacco companies that settled with the states in 1998. So it’s not a coincidence that the constitutional amendment it’s now bankrolling speaks to that agreement. Among other things, the amendment promoted by Raise Your Hand for Kids imposes an “equity assessment fee” of 67 cents on each pack of cigarettes sold by non-participating manufacturers.

Aug. 22

Roger StoneHuffington Post, Trump Ally Roger Stone Says GOP Nominee Should Release Tax Returns ‘Immediately,’ Igor Bobic, Aug. 22, 2016. Trump and his campaign have offered myriad excuses for not making the records available to the public. Over the weekend, newly minted Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump would not release his tax returns until the IRS audit is complete, despite previously calling on him to make the information available while working for a super PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R). Roger Stone is shown in a file photo.

Back in May, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also claimed there was “nothing to learn” from the tax returns. The opposition to the release of the records was maintained by his successor, Paul Manafort, who was pushed out of the campaign last week amid revelations he secretly lobbied on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russian government in 2014.

Washington Post, FBI uncovers nearly 15,000 more documents in Clinton email probe, Spencer S. Hsu​, Aug. 22, 2016. The files, not previously disclosed by the former secretary of state's lawyers, are being Hillary Clintonsought by a conservative group that is negotiating with the State Department for their release. 

Donald Trump 2016 buttonWashington Post, The Clinton Foundation should shut down ‘immediately’ and return money, Trump says, Jenna Johnson, Aug. 22, 2016. The Republican presidential nominee's campaign has yet to say whether he would close his own foundation, which also accepts donations from corporations.

Associated Press via U.S. News & World Report, Pentagon: Exclusion zone in Syria is not a 'no fly zone,' Robert Burns, Aug. 22, 2016. Syria has been warned not to fly warplanes in areas where American troops are advising Kurdish and Arab forces fighting the Islamic State group, the Pentagon said on Monday. But it insisted this does not amount to a "no fly zone." Reporters pushed press secretary Peter Cook to explain the distinction. "Our warning to the Syrians is the same that we've had for some time, that we're going to defend our forces and they would be advised not to fly in areas where our forces have been operating," Cook said.


Politico, Melania Trump taking legal action against Daily Mail for defamation, Hadas Gold, Aug. 22, 2016. Melania Trump (shown in her Twitter photo) has started legal action against the Daily Mail and other outlets for what she claims is a defamatory article about her past. Charles Harder, an attorney for Trump, said in an email that the legal action goes beyond just the Daily Mail and is not limited to the United Kingdom, where the Daily Mail is headquartered.

Melania Trump Twitter photo"Mrs. Trump has placed several news organizations on notice of her legal claims against them, including Daily Mail among others, for making false and defamatory statements about her supposedly having been an “escort” in the 1990s," Harder said in an email. "All such statements are 100% false, highly damaging to her reputation, and personally hurtful. She understands that news media have certain leeway in a presidential campaign, but outright lying about her in this way exceeds all bounds of appropriate news reporting and human decency."

Harder was in the news recently for representing Hulk Hogan in his successful bid to sue Gawker, bankrolled by Silicon Valley investor and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July.

The article in question was published last week by the Daily Mail and questions Trump's biography and history as as model. Other news organizations in the United Kingdom were warned about publishing the allegations as well. Another British newspaper sent a note to employees which was shared with POLITICO, warning them about publishing similar allegations.

On Monday Trump tweeted out a link to an Inquisitr and BipartisanReport apologizing for publishing an article that repeated the allegations.

Aug. 21

New York Times, In Trump’s Empire, Hazy Ties and $650 Million in Debt, Susanne Craig, Aug. 21, 2016. On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sold himself as a businessman who has made billions of dollars and is beholden to no one.

Donald Trump for President logoBut an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.

For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.

Washington Post, Trump campaign manager no longer wants him to release his tax returns, Jenna Johnson​, Aug. 21, 2016. "​He has said that when the audit is complete, he will release his tax returns," Donald Trump 2016 buttonKellyanne Conway said in an about-face from five months ago when she called for transparency.

Washington Post, Trump could be considering his biggest flip-flop yet — on immigration, Aaron Blake​, Aug. 21, 2016. The GOP nominee launched his campaign on a promise to be very tough on illegal immigration. But it sure sounds like he might change his tune. Asked twice whether he was sticking with his plan for a deportation force, newly installed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway deflected and then told CNN that it was "to be determined."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), meanwhile, said Trump is "wrestling" with how to handle illegal immigrants already in the United States. "What I'm certain about is that he did not make a firm commitment yesterday, or the meeting the other day, about what he will do with that," Sessions said on CBS News when asked whether Trump still supports deporting all 11 million. "But he did listen, and he's talking about it."

Trump's campaign is playing down the reports and says nothing has really changed. But it clearly has. Even in equivocating and saying it's "to be determined," the campaign is striking a far different tone than Trump has before. Conway was twice given the chance to reiterate that Trump will deport all illegal immigrants, and she didn't.

 

Syrian boy injured in Aleppo DCMA

Aleppo Media Center image, licensed via DMCA

OpEdNews, The Aleppo Poster Child, Paul Craig Roberts, Aug. 21, 2016. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a conservative author opposed to neo-con-inspired wars and shown below, was assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan administration. Washington's media presstitutes are using the image of the child to bring pressure on Russia to stop the Syrian army from retaking Aleppo. Washington wants its so-called moderate rebels to retain Aleppo so that Washington can split Syria in two, thereby keeping a permanent pressure against President Assad.

Paul Craig RobertsLet us not forget the tens of thousands of children that Washington's wars and bombings of seven Muslim countries have killed without any tears shed by CNN anchors. And let us not forget the 500,000 Iraqi children that the United Nations concluded died as a result of US sanctions against Iraq — children's deaths that Bill Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said were worth it.

Let us not forget that Washington's determination to overthrow the Syrian government has brought many deaths to Syrians of all age groups. Washington alone is responsible for the deaths. The evil Obama regime has stated over and over that "Assad must go" and is prepared to destroy the country and much of the population in order to get rid of him. 

According to the Obama regime, Assad must go because he is a dictator. Washington tells this lie despite the fact that Assad was elected and re-elected and has far higher support among Syrians that Obama has among Americans. Moreover, whatever Washington accuses Assad of doing to Syrians is nothing compared to the death and destruction that Washington brought to Syria.

Philly.com, In 2013, I was falsely accused and prosecuted by Kathleen Kane, Barbara Mancini, Aug. 21, 2016. Barbara Mancini is a Philadelphia nurse and a consultant for Compassion and Choices, an end-of-life advocacy organization. Kathleen Kane resigned last week as Pennsylvania's attorney general following conviction on perjury charges. Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane has had her day in court. This is somewhat unusual as the overwhelming majority of criminal cases in the United States -- up to 97 percent -- are settled behind closed doors in the plea-bargaining process. There, prosecutors alone, with no judicial oversight, have the power to determine a person's fate.

In 2013, I was falsely accused and prosecuted by Kane on the charge of aiding the attempted suicide of my dying 93-year-old father. All because I handed him his prescribed morphine at his request. Unlike many criminal defendants, I was lucky enough to have my own defense counsel, who was determined to fight the unjust charge against me. And while my prosecution did not generate the drama of Kane's case, it did generate significant media scrutiny. Editorial and opinion writers across Pennsylvania harshly questioned Kane's decision to prosecute me. And the Schuylkill County judge who dismissed my case was equally harsh in her ruling, saying Kane's case was based on "little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons, speculation, and guess."

Washington Post Magazine, The mystery that is Melania Trump, Aug. 22, 2016. The first time Melania Trump appeared on “The Apprentice” was on April 15, 2004. This was before her wedding, the birth of her child, the launching of her jewelry and skin-care brands and, obviously, before Cleveland and the day last month when she briefly and inadvertently committed the cardinal sin of upstaging her husband.

Melania Trump Twitter photoHer debut was during the finale of Season 1, when she accompanied Donald Trump on a trip to Atlantic City. At the time, she was Melania Knauss, Trump’s girlfriend of five years and a model perhaps best known for posing in what appeared to be the altogether for the cover of the British edition of GQ. She is shown in her current Twitter photo.

“The Apprentice” isn’t a documentary. It’s a reality show, with the emphasis on show. What happens — what we see — is what the producers want us to see. And here’s some of what we saw, which is instructive when you consider all that has since taken place: First, Trump doesn’t wait for Melania when he gets off the helicopter at the Trump Taj Mahal. Then a contestant mispronounces her name. Finally, she gets to say exactly six words, which are: “It’s so cute. It’s really good.”

Trump and Knauss were engaged less than two weeks after the episode aired, and they married the next year. “She’s shown she can be the woman behind me,” Trump would later tell the gossip columnist Cindy Adams. “We’re together five years, and these five years for whatever reasons have been my most successful. I have to imagine she had something to do with that.”

Aug. 20

Susan Lindauer Covert ReportTruth Frequency Radio, Host Susan Lindauer Interviews Dr. Eric Thomas Chester, author of The Wobblies in Their Heyday: The Rise and Destruction of the Industrial Workers of the World [IWW] during the World War I Era. (Praeger, 2014). Here is the Listen Live Link to the show, broadcast 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 20 and archived on the Truth Frequency Radio site. Lindauer is the author of the 2010 memoir Extreme Prejudice. Chester will speak on his books and research Oct. 5 in a dinner discussion open to the public before the McClendon Group at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Chester, a former economics professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, specializes in 20th-century left-wing history. His previous work includes Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee and the CIA (Routledge / M.E. Sharpe, 1995). He says: "I am currently writing a manuscript on civil liberties issues that arose during World War I.....Beyond this work in progress, my research interests are turning to a broader range of questions that relate to World War I. In researching these topics I have been struck by how difficult it is a century later to determine what actually occurred. Woodrow Wilson and his administration were very good at concealing from the public the true course of events and some historians have been all too willing to accept the official version."

Review of The Wobblies:

Eric Chester The Wobblies book"Using official Justice Department and Military Intelligence files as well as IWW records that had been unavailable to previous scholars of the IWW, owing to federal government document classification policies, Eric Chester proves beyond doubt that President Woodrow Wilson and his Justice Department ― assisted by the U.S. military and its intelligence services ― worked assiduously to put the IWW out of business. Chester's description of the anti-subversive crusade by federal authorities during World War I and their linking of domestic radicals with violence or terrorism proves yet again how government uses its legal authority to crush and punish dissenters and mavericks. The counter-subversive tactics that are today part of our ‘war on terror' as well as the policies implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA are, as Chester shows, practices with a long history in the U.S."

— Melvyn Dubofsky, Distinguished Professor of History & Sociology Emeritus, Binghamton University, SUNY, and author of We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World

Washington Post, The FBI’s misstep on Clinton’s emails, Editorial board, Aug. 20, 2016. The director of the FBI, James B. Comey, did the right thing in announcing the results of the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email in early July. But now Mr. Comey has taken a misstep. The FBI has provided to Congress portions of the investigative files from the year-long probe. It is extremely rare for the FBI to turn over to Congress internal case files from a criminal investigation that did not lead to a prosecution.

Washington Post, FBI’s attempt to show Clinton email probe was nonpartisan keeps running into politics, Matt Zapotosky and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Aug. 20, 2016. The political dust-up over the FBI handing documents about the investigation to Congress is intensifying, with Republicans complaining the materials were turned over in such a way that assessing them is difficult and Democrats contending they should not have been given to legislators.

FBI logoMatthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman who has worked for several Democratic campaigns, said that although Comey might have been seeking to burnish his reputation for honesty, he ultimately treated Clinton unfairly and set a potentially dangerous precedent for future high-profile cases. Witnesses, Miller said, might be less likely to come forward — and agents and prosecutors tempted to work differently — knowing Congress would one day have access to what they said and did. “That’s obviously not how the FBI is supposed to work,” Miller said.

Jason ChaffetzAnd Comey’s release has not mollified Republicans who want more information. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the House Oversight Committee chairman shown at right, said he was concerned about what was not included in the binders full of documents, and he continued to question Comey’s conclusion that Clinton should not be charged.

Peninsula (Qatar), Turkey PM says Syria regime starting to see Kurds as threat, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2016. Damascus has understood that Kurds in northern Syria have become a threat after regime jets pounded US-backed Kurdish forces in the country's northeast late last week, Turkish premier Binali Yildirim said Saturday. "This is a new situation... It is clear that the regime has understood the structure Kurds are trying to form in the north (of Syria) has started to become a threat for Syria too," Yildirim told foreign correspondents in Istanbul, referring to the Syrian Kurds' bid to join up regions under their control.

Reuters via SouthFront, United States Cuts Military Advisers to Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2016. PR move or the acknowledgement of a mistake? The US forces assisting the Saudi-led coalition in coordinating air strikes in Yemen have largely withdrawn from Riyadh in an apparent move to distance themselves from the mounting civilian death toll in the 17-month long conflict, Reuters has learned.

American FlagIn addition to withdrawing air support personnel, a US Navy spokesman in Bahrain told Reuters that the Pentagon also “sharply reduced” its “Joint Combined Planning Cell” (JCPC) staff to under five people. The JCPC, which was established in March last year when the Saudi-initiated its air campaign, at its peak devoted some 45 members to coordinate US military and intelligence support with Riyadh.

The withdrawal which took place in June is an attempt by Washington to distance itself from the responsibility of the rising death toll in Yemen, which now stands at over 6,500 people, mostly civilians. While both warring parties are to blame for the death toll, the Saudi-led coalition has been repeatedly accused of conducting “indiscriminate bombings.”

“At no point did US military personnel provide direct or implicit approval of target selection or prosecution,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement after Reuters disclosed the withdrawal. Stump acknowledged growing US concern over the death count.

The Saudi-led coalition did not comment on withdrawal but said that their relationship with the US continues to bear a “strategic” character. An anonymous US official meanwhile told the news outlet that US will still provide limited support and intelligence sharing for the coalition, as the Saudi-led forces continue to rely on US military for an average of two refueling sorties a day.

Aug. 19

Washington Post, Win or lose, Trumpism may be here to stay in the GOP, Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa, Aug. 19, 2016. The latest shake-up in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has jolted the Republican establishment out of denial to a new realization: Whatever happens to their nominee in November, Trumpism may well endure as a source of ferment in their party.

Until this week, it had been possible for party elders to convince themselves that Trump might prove to be a passing storm in their ranks rather than a portent of climate change. But to their dismay, the party standard-bearer has now signaled that he intends to go for broke in the final stretch of the campaign.

Paul ManafortHuffington Post, Paul Manafort Resigns As Head Of Trump Campaign, Sam Levine, Aug. 19, 2016. Paul Manafort (shown in a Trump campaign file photo), the chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has resigned. Trump brought on a new campaign CEO earlier this week.

“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Trump said in a statement. “I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”

Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoManafort’s resignation comes after multiple reports have raised questions about his work on behalf of the Ukranian government. On Wednesday, Trump hired Breitbart Chairman Steve Bannon to be his campaign’s CEO, a move that was widely seen as sidelining Manafort.

Politico, McMullin qualifies for Iowa, Louisiana ballots, Caroline Kelly, Aug. 19, 2016. Conservative independent candidate Evan McMullin has qualified to appear on the general election ballots in Louisiana and Iowa, according to the Louisiana and Iowa secretary of state’s offices.

McMullin’s campaign opted to pay the $500 qualifying fee, instead of gathering 5,000 signatures, due Friday, to get on the Louisiana ballot. Of the four candidates Evan McMullinthat filed and qualified Friday — McMullin, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle, and Veterans Party candidate Chris Keniston — “no one qualified for president using signatures, everyone qualified paying the amount of money that was required,” said Louisiana secretary of state press secretary Meg Casper.

It's welcome news for McMullin, the former House Republican Conference policy director who jumped into the presidential race earlier in the month as a conservative alternative to party nominee Donald Trump. McMullin's narrow path to competitiveness in the presidential race depends on him getting on the ballots in states where filing deadlines haven't passed. Shown in a Twitter photo, he has also made it on the ballots in Utah and Colorado. Ten states’ independent candidate filing deadlines remain. Up next is Oregon on Monday, which will require more than 17,000 signatures to appear on the state’s general election ballot.

The Indicter, What’s really behind the new Swedish announcement of an interrogation of Julian Assange?  Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Chairman, Swedish Doctors for Human Rights) August 2016. Among the scandalous aspects of the ‘legal case’ of Sweden versus Julian Assange, we have found that the Swedish Prosecution Authority has deleted from the series of press releases on its website the early press releases by the first prosecutor who assessed the case evidence, Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné. After both complainants had been interrogated, and the Swedish pro-NATO newspaper Expressen had unethically published that Assange had been detained under accusations of ‘rape’ the Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné concluded that there were no grounds for such ‘charges’ or his detention and had publicly declared that Julian Assange was to be set free.

Matt Bissonnette in U.S. Navy photo via WikipediaSEAL Team 5 member Matt Bissonnette in an undated U.S. Navy photo via Wikipedia

ABC News, US Settles Case With Matt Bissonnette, Author of Controversial Bin Laden Book, Staff report, Aug. 19, 2016. The United States has settled its years-long legal battle with Matthew Bissonnette, who in 2012 authored “No Easy Day” under the pen name Mark Owen, detailing his participation in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Bissonnette, a former Navy SEAL, signed a consent decree today acknowledging he “breached his fiduciary duties” by failing to submit his book for a security review by the Pentagon before publishing it and for failing to get the government's permission to publish it. Despite concerns expressed by government officials at the time the book was published, however, the United States did not formally accuse Bissonnette of revealing classified information.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Judge Seeks Criminal Contempt Charges Against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, David Schwartz, Aug. 19, 2016. A federal judge recommended that prosecutors bring the charges after finding that the controversial sheriff had violated court orders stemming from a 2007 racial profiling case. U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow also urged criminal contempt charges against Arpaio’s second-in-command, Gerard Sheridan, along with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Captain Steve Bailey and an Arpaio attorney, Michele Iafrate.

In a written order, Snow asked federal prosecutors to file contempt charges for three alleged violations by Arpaio, who styles himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” and has built a national reputation for strong rhetoric and aggressive actions to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Federal prosecutors must still decide whether to bring criminal charges in a case that grew from a lawsuit challenging conduct by the sheriff’s department as unconstitutional.

Arpaio’s criminal defense lawyer, Mel McDonald, said he was certain his client will be vindicated. In his 32-page order, Snow said Arpaio willfully violated a 2011 court injunction barring the sheriff’s office from stopping and detaining motorists solely based on suspicion they were in the country illegally. That practice continued for 18 months after the judge ordered it halted, Snow said. He also cited Arpaio for failing to disclose documents and preserve records in the case, as ordered.

Lawfare, Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Why Step One in Brexit is Getting Delayed, Shannon Togawa Mercer, Aug. 19, 2016. Ministers in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government indicated recently that they expect Britain’s official exit from the European Union to be delayed—maybe by a lot. Only a few weeks ago, we were careening towards Brexit. Now, the government is suggesting that it may not happen until the Autumn of 2019.

United Kingdom flagThe exact timing of Brexit has been a moving target since former Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation speech back in June. Initial predictions suggested that the new Prime Minister would begin the process of the U.K.’s disentanglement from the EU as early as October of 2016. But that timeframe quickly fell by the wayside. Once she took office, May indicated that she would begin the process in early 2017. Only a few weeks later, the beginning of the exit process has been pushed back again, perhaps to as late as Autumn of 2017. And that’s just the start of the two-year process.

Why is this delay important? Because deferring the Brexit part of Brexit — you know, the part where Britain actually leaves the EU — sustains all the uncertainty that has made the last few months so wrenching. The news has been thick of late with dramatic political predictions, minor scandals and inflammatory comments, but despite the spirited pre-Brexit campaign and post-Brexit tumult, the reality of the referendum is that it has not so far brought with it any immediate legal consequences. Yet it will.

BBC, Syrian war: US scrambles jets to Hassakeh, Staff report, Aug. 19, 2016. American fighter planes have been scrambled to the Syrian city of Hassakeh to protect US special forces on the ground from Syrian government aerial attacks, the US military says. The Pentagon said the Syrian planes were leaving as its jets arrived. People in the north-eastern Syrian city say government warplanes have hit Kurdish districts there for the past two days. Thousands are reported to have fled their homes. Hassakeh is mainly under the control of a Kurdish militia, the YPG.

Politico, Sailor in classified sub photos case gets 1 year in prison, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 19, 2016. A Navy sailor who admitted to taking photos in classified spaces on board a nuclear submarine was sentenced Friday to one year in prison and six months of home confinement. The sentence imposed on Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, was significantly lighter than prosecutors' recommendation that the former sub machinist serve more than six years behind bars and the Navy's suggestion he get seven-and-a-half years.

Saucier's defense had asked for probation, in part by invoking the Justice Department's decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over the classified emails authorities say were found on her private server. However, Saucier's lawyer said that he was "pleased" with the sentence U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill imposed at a hearing in Bridgeport, Conn. Friday. "We're very pleased with Judge Underhill's sentence," defense attorney Greg Rinckey said in an interview. "We believe it was fair and appropriate considering all the mitigation and mitigating factors in this case."

Saucier was indicted last year on one felony count of retaining national defense information without authorization and another count of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said a series of photos he took with a cell phone camera on board the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009 included at least six images considered classified "Confidential" and restricted under the Atomic Energy Act. In a plea bargain in May, the sailor pled guilty to the classified information charge. The obstruction-of-justice charge was dismissed, but Saucier admitted destroying a laptop, memory card and camera after he was confronted by investigators. Rinckey said he did not believe the comparison to Clinton, which prosecutors disputed, ultimately played much role in the sentence.

Aug. 18

Washington Post, Justice Dept. says it will end use of private prisons, Matt Zapotosky and Chico Harlan, Aug. 18, 2016. The Justice Department’s Inspector General last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. ​The directive is limited to the 13 privately run facilities, housing a little more than 22,000 inmates, in the federal Bureau of Prisons system.

Ronald Reagan

President Reagan with the Bush family. Left to right: Neil Bush, Marvin Bush, Reagan, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush.  Photo credit: Reagan Library

WhoWhatWhy, Bush Angle to Reagan Shooting Still Unresolved as Hinckley Walks, Russ Baker, Aug. 16, 2016. George H.W. Bush knew the family of the man who shot Bush’s then-boss Ronald Reagan, in 1981. With the shooter now freed, it’s time, finally, to take a closer look.

Why did George H.W. Bush and his cabinet determine that John W. Hinckley Jr. — the man who in 1981 tried to kill the newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan — was a lone nut, and no conspiracy, foreign or domestic, was involved? How did they arrive at this conclusion just five hours after the shooting, without any thorough examination?

And why won’t the Federal Bureau of Investigation release its documents on the shooter? Hinckley, who was released from a federal psychiatric facility on August 5 after 35 years, remains a mystery, and that’s the way the government prefers it. Among the documents the Bureau withholds are those that reveal organizations linked to him — and the names of his associates.

One noteworthy individual will not even acknowledge knowing of Hinckley beforehand, someone associated with the shooter’s family, and an even longer history of dissociation — George H.W. Bush.

Most Americans have never heard about this — and even those who have will be intrigued by some little-known aspects. One is the rather unique way the Bush clan has dealt with or sought to dismiss such peculiar situations — and this is hardly the only one in which the family has been enmeshed.

Here’s an amazing example: Bush Senior, known to family and friends as “Poppy,” claimed he could not remember where he was when he heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. I discovered a good reason why he should have remembered — because he, himself, had been in Dallas that morning.

Washington Post, How a Trump adviser revived his fortunes, career in Ukraine, Tom Hamburger, Dana Priest and Andrew Roth​, Aug. 18, 2016. Paul Manafort began consulting in Ukraine in 2005, when he had lDonald Trump for President logoargely disappeared from view in U.S. politics, and became connected to some of the country’s most powerful officials. But reports this week of alleged payments may trigger FBI scrutiny of Manafort’s work with the ousted Ukrainian president.

Washington Post, Clinton Foundation won’t accept foreign, corporate donations if Clinton wins, Abby Phillip and Rosalind S. Helderman, Aug. 18, 2016. The decision comes in the midst of mounting criticism of how the Foundation operated during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. ​·​

Washington Post, Trump promised to donate his own money on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ He didn’t, David A. Fahrenthold and Alice Crites, Aug. 18, 2016. The Post tracked all the “personal” gifts that Trump promised during 83 episodes and seven seasons of the show but could not confirm a single case in which he actually sent a donation from his own pocket.

Real Clear Politics, How the Trump-Bannon Alliance Took Shape, Rebecca Berg, Aug. 18, 2016. When Steve Bannon first met Donald Trump, the idea of a presidential campaign was only beginning to take shape. In 2011, Trump conducted preliminary talks to consider what a bid for president might look like in the upcoming election cycle and to weigh the odds of winning such a bold gamble. He began consulting with David Bossie, president of the conservative advocacy nonprofit Citizens United, and after a few meetings, Bossie tapped his friend and collaborator Bannon “to talk about how to build this thing out,” Bossie told RealClearPolitics.

The news sent shockwaves through Republican circles, suggesting Trump has decided against moderating his tone for the general election, instead favoring the sort of brash – some would call it reckless -- populism that Bannon has championed from the outside.

Huffington Post, Fox News Host Eric Bolling Gets Called Out After Epic Meltdown Over Polls, Ed Mazza, Aug. 18, 2016. Bolling claims crowd size is more important than poll results.

Donald Trump naked statues Jennifer Thang TwitterWashington Post, Trump expresses regret over causing ‘personal pain’ with ill-chosen words, Jose A. DelReal​, Aug. 18, 2016. The Republican presidential nominee issued an unexpected and uncharacteristic declaration of remorse at his first rally since a staffing shake-up in his campaign.

The Hill, Naked Donald Trump statues pop up in several cities, Nikita Vladimirov, Aug. 18, 2016. Naked, life-size statues of Donald Trump are being unveiled Thursday in several U.S. cities. The statues were erected by the anarchist collective Indecline and are set to appear in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle. The group named the political art project "The Emperor Has No Balls," inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen tale of an overly confident ruler.

The artist behind the project, who posted a video of the process, is a Las-Vegas sculptor who goes by Ginger and has extensive experience in creating and designing monsters for horror films and haunted houses. Photo via Twitter of @JenniferThang of KTLA.

Truthout, Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace, Gareth Porter, Aug. 18, 2016. In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict. 

McClatchy Washington Bureau, Trump adviser accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, Marisa Taylor and William Douglas, Aug. 18, 2016. Allegations of anti-Semitism have surfaced against one of Donald Trump’s Joseph Schmitzforeign policy advisers, raising further questions about the guidance the Republican presidential nominee is receiving. Joseph Schmitz, named as one of five advisers by the Trump campaign in March and shown in an official photo, is accused of bragging when he was Defense Department inspector general a decade ago that he pushed out Jewish employees.

The revelations feed two themes that his opponent Hillary Clinton has used to erode Trump’s credibility: That he is a foreign policy neophyte, and that his campaign, at times, has offended Jews and other minorities. Schmitz, who is a lawyer in private practice in Washington, says the allegations against him are lies. All three people who have cited the remarks, including one who testified under oath about them, have pending employment grievances with the federal government.

Washington Post, Trump, hillbillies and race, Fareed Zakaria, Aug. 18, 2016. For some of us, the puzzle of this election is not why Donald Trump is doing so badly but why he is doing so well. Given his obvious lack of qualifications, his absurd proposals, his hypocrisy, his obnoxious rhetoric, his sheer incompetence as a candidate, why is he not down 10 points in every state?

In other words, who are Trump’s voters and why do they stick with him? Sometimes a good writer with a keen eye can provide more insight than a dozen polls. J.D. Vance has done just that in his lovely book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. The book has rocketed up the best-seller lists — deservedly so. But it has some interesting and important gaps.

We all now know that Trump’s rise has been fueled by the alienation and anger of the country’s white working class. That cohort has seen its incomes stagnate, cities crumble and dreams vanish. But Vance gets underneath the data and shows us what these impersonal forces mean to actual people. He describes the abandoned children, the poor work habits, the drug abuse, the violence, the rage. But he does it with sympathy and love. They are his family, after all.

For Vance, the problem is ultimately cultural, one of values, attitudes and mores. “We hillbillies must wake the hell up,” he writes, and “stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what can we do to make things better.” His own life story — coming from low expectations, dysfunctional relationships and persistent poverty to end up a graduate of Yale Law School and a Silicon Valley executive — demonstrates that grit can conquer all.

Vance touches on this sideways, when speaking about the almost pathological suspicion his hillbillies have for Barack Obama. Vance explains that it is because of the president’s accent — “clean, perfect, neutral” — his urban background, his success in the meritocracy, his reliability as a father. “And,” one wants to whisper to Vance, “because he’s black .” After all, over the years the white working class has voted for plenty of Republican and Democratic candidates with fancy degrees and neutral accents. That’s not what makes Obama different.

Fishbowl DC, Bloomberg Politics Made a ‘Donald Trump ABCs’ Video, Corinne Grinapol on Aug. 19, 2016. There have been prior attempts at cataloguing and studying the language Donald Trump uses, but this video, which takes us through Trump’s oft-repeated phrases for each letter of the alphabet (admittedly, X is a stretch), is super effective in its visual simplicity. It is the creation of Bloomberg Politics’ Mariama Ndiaye, Matt Negrin and Matt Soto, and you can check it out below.

Aug. 17

Washington Post, Many public officials must share their tax returns. Why not the president? Mark A. Patterson, Aug. 17, 2016. Paying taxes is a fundamental obligation of citizenship, and citizens have the right to know.

Real Clear Politics, Trump Staff Shift Elevates GOP Leaders' Archenemy, Caitlin Huey-Burns & Rebecca Berg, Aug. 17, 2016. Donald Trump’s shake up of his campaign staff on Wednesday has further spotlighted the tensions between party officials and their presidential nominee, elevating an archenemy of Republican leaders to the top of the business mogul’s campaign.

In hiring Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon as chief executive of his campaign, Trump has plainly rejected calls within the party to temper his controversial approach in order to broaden support in the general election. With Bannon, Trump is instead embracing the tactics, style and nationalist/populist themes that propelled him to victory in the primaries.

Washington Post, Trump’s new campaign chief likely to amplify his nationalist message, Karen Tumulty and David Weigel, Aug. 17, 2016. Breitbart News, the website run by Donald Trump’s new campaign chief Stephen Bannonexecutive, Stephen Bannon (shown at a National Press Club panel in 2013), has become a champion of Trump’s candidacy in part because Bannon believes it represents a cause much bigger than a political race. Bannon sees Trumpism as part of a global movement that will continue no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office next January, those close to him say.

The Hill, Billionaire father and daughter linked to Trump shake-up, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 17, 2017. Donald Trump’s dramatic staff shake-up on Wednesday revealed the growing influence wielded on his campaign by a Republican megadonor duo. The fingerprints of Robert Mercer, a New York hedge fund billionaire, and his middle daughter, Rebekah, can be seen all over the new Trump staffing appointments and other decisions being made by the GOP presidential nominee.

The Mercers, who previously put $13.5 million into a super-PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential bid, have recently converted the group into the Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC, targeting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Robert Mercer has reportedly made a “substantial” additional investment of at least $1 million in the new super-PAC, which has already spent $500,000 on digital ads attacking Clinton in eight battleground states. Additionally, he and particularly Rebekah have become influential figures in Trump World in the past few months.

Rebekah Mercer “lives in a beautiful apartment in one of Trump's buildings on the Upper West Side [of New York City] overlooking the Hudson River,” a source who knows her told The Hill.
A Heritage Foundation trustee and director of the Mercer Family Foundation, Rebekah takes the lead on the details of the Mercers’ political operation, while her father provides the funds.

She’s known as a hands-on operator who won’t open up the Mercer checkbook without strict conditions about which vendors are used and which consultants are hired. Now loyal to Trump, the Mercers were furious when Cruz didn’t endorse the nominee at the Republican National Convention last month. And because they are among the few megadonors to get fully behind Trump, they now increasingly have his ear.

Stephen Bannon, the Trump campaign’s newly appointed CEO, is “tied at the hip” with Rebekah Mercer, said a source who has worked with the Mercers in their political activities. The Mercers are united with Bannon in their deep opposition to Clinton. They worked with Bannon and provided funds for the "Clinton Cash" movie, based on the book by Peter Schweizer.  

Washington Post, Trump aides: Candidate felt ‘boxed in’ and ‘controlled’ by people who barely knew him, Robert Costa, Jose A. DelReal and Jenna Johnson, Aug. 17, 2016. Trump’s decision sent a powerful signal to Republicans and Democrats alike that the real estate magnate intends to finish the presidential race on his own terms and that his closing argument to voters will defy the usual partisan template of general-election campaigns.

In its place will be a political pitch with ire directed at both parties and a fierce anti-establishment ethos, coupled with harsh critiques of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has privately told friends that he was unsure whether he was being given candid assessments of news stories and of the campaign’s management. Trump plans to devote himself primarily to five crucial states — Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — where he hopes that raucous rallies and a relentless presence on television will electrify his working-class base and thousands of other people who have grown disengaged and frustrated with the political class.

Washington Post, Trump shakes up campaign, demotes top adviser, Robert Costa, Jose A. DelReal and Jenna Johnson​, Aug. 17, 2016.​ Donald Trump’s stunning decision effectively ended the months-long push Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoby campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate the GOP nominee’s presentation and pitch for the general election. Stephen Bannon, a former banker who runs the influential conservative outlet Breitbart News, has been named the campaign’s chief executive. Kellyanne Conway, a GOP pollster who has been close to Trump, will assume the role of campaign manager.

Huffington Post, Trump Adviser Gets Owned By CNN Anchor After Asking For Proof Campaign Is In Trouble, Nick Wing, CNN Anchor Owns Trump Adviser After He Asks For Proof Campaign Is In Trouble, Says who? Everyone. Michael Cohen, executive vice president at the Trump Organization and a special counsel to Donald Trump, on Wednesday appeared on CNN, clearly hoping to convince viewers that everything is just peachy at the former reality TV star’s presidential campaign.

Anchor Brianna Keilar wasn’t having it. For 30 awkward seconds, she made Cohen squirm as he questioned whether Trump’s campaign has actually been crashing in the polls over the past few weeks.

Donald Trump counsel Michael Cohen on Wednesday repeatedly questioned a CNN anchor who said the Republican nominee is behind in the presidential race. "Says who," Cohen asked CNN anchor Brianna Keilar after she said that the Trump campaign was "down." "Polls. Most of them. All of them," Keilar responded. "Says who," Cohen asked again. "Polls, I just told you. I answered your question," she responded. Cohen then asked which polls show the GOP nominee behind. b"All of them," she answered, before Cohen stopped questioning. 

Washington Post, What Trump’s latest shakeup says about his flailing campaign, James Hohmann, Aug. 17, 2016.​ Shaking up his campaign once again, Donald Trump has decided to let Trump be Trump. The Republican nominee knows he’s losing. Congenitally unable to take personal responsibility, he blames his slide in the polls on the people who have prodded him to act “presidential” and wage a more traditional campaign.

Donald Trump 2016 buttonIn a 5:38 a.m. press release, Trump announced that Stephen Bannon, who got rich on Wall Street but has never worked on a race before, will take a leave of absence from running Breitbart.com to become the campaign’s “chief executive.” Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who worked for Ted Cruz’s super PAC during the primaries but has been friendly with Trump for years, will become campaign manager.

Wikipedia background on Bannon: Until his appointment, Bannon was a businessman, media executive, and conservative filmmaker. He is the co-founder and executive chairman of the Government Accountability Institute (funders of a best-seller Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer) and the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the parent company of the Breitbart News Network. He has been involved in the financing and production of a number of films, including Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, The Undefeated, and Occupy Unmasked. Bannon, a former naval officer, also hosts a radio show Monday-Friday 6 am - 9 am ET (Breitbart News Daily) on Sirius XM satellite radio channel 125.

Paul ManafortPaul Manafort (shown in a campaign file photo) will retain his titles as campaign chairman and chief strategist, but Trump advisers told Robert Costa overnight that his status has diminished internally due to the candidate’s unhappiness and restlessness in recent weeks. The aides told Costa that Trump has grown to feel “boxed in” and "controlled" by people who barely know him.

Washington Post, Trump suggests racial profiling and says of Orlando shooter’s father, ‘I’d throw him out,’ Aaron Blake​, Aug. 17, 2016. In an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity, Trump keeps stirring the pot.

SouthFront, Russia & US are Close to Join Forces Against Terrorists in Aleppo, Staff report, Aug. 17, 2016. According to Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, Russia and the US are on the threshold of joint operations against terrorists in the Syria’s city of Aleppo.

“We are in a very active stage of negotiations with our American colleagues now, both in Geneva and Amman; we are practically in constant talks with Washington. Step by step we are nearing a structure – I’m talking about Aleppo only – that would allow us to truly begin working together so that this territory, this long-suffering region could find peace,” Shoigu told the Rossiya-24 Russia’s TV channel.

Russia’s military building up in and around Syria was targeted to politely push the western partners to start cooperation. It seems that Russia has practically reached its purpose.

New York Times, Stop Saudi Arms Sales Until Carnage in Yemen Ends, Editorial board, Aug. 17, 2016. A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders. A school. A potato chip factory. Under international Chris Murphylaw, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets. Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians.

The United States is complicit in this carnage. It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis to mollify them after the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat of Connecticut shown in an official photo, says he is discussing that possibility with other lawmakers. But the chances are slim, in part because of the politics. Given the civilian casualties, further American support for this war is indefensible. As Mr. Murphy told CNN on Tuesday: “There’s an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen.”

Reuters, Russia, spurning U.S. censure, launches second day of Syria strikes from Iran, Alexander Winning and Andrew Osborn, Aug. 17, 2016. Russia launched a second day of air strikes against Syrian militants from an Iranian air base, rejecting U.S. suggestions its co-operation with Tehran might violate a U.N. resolution as illogical and factually incorrect. State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Tuesday called the Iranian deployment "unfortunate," saying the United States was looking into whether the move violated U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which prohibits the supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran.

Russian FlagRussia bristled at those comments on Wednesday after announcing that Russian SU-34 fighter bombers flying from Iran's Hamadan air base had for a second day struck Islamic State targets in Syria's Deir al-Zor province, destroying two command posts and killing more than 150 militants. "It's not our practice to give advice to the leadership of the U.S. State Department," Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. "But it's hard to refrain from recommending individual State Department representatives check their own logic and knowledge of basic documents covering international law."

Moscow first used Iran as a base from which to launch air strikes in Syria on Tuesday, deepening its involvement in the five-year-old Syrian civil war and angering the United States. Russia's use of the Iranian air base comes amid intense fighting for the Syrian city of Aleppo, where rebels are battling Syrian government forces backed by the Russian military, and as Moscow and Washington are working toward a deal on Syria that could see them cooperate more closely.

SouthFront, Syrian Kurds: We Will ‘Cut ISIS’s Air Supply’ After Major Victory, Staff report, Aug. 17, 2016. The Syrian Democratic Forces are going to close Syria’s border with Turkey and kick the Islamic State (IS) terrorists out of the main Syrian towns, which have been used by the militants to ferry fighters and supplies into the country. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) want to kick the Islamic State (IS) terrorists out of the main Syrian towns, which have been used by the militants to ferry fighters and supplies into the country, and to completely close Syria’s border with Turkey, the Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing a representative of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Russia, Abd Salam Muhammad Ali.

“The SDF’s primary goal involves sealing the border. We will make every effort to cut ISIS’s ‘air supply’ by preventing them from smuggling fighters and weapons from Turkey. When we succeed in pushing the terrorists out of al-Bab – and this should not take much time – the SDF will be able to advance further west to the city of Afrin,” Abd Salam Muhammad Ali said.

Washington Post, New campaign shake-up, same old awful Trump, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 17, 2016. In case you had any doubt, Donald Trump sent an unmistakable sign that he has no intention of running a legitimate campaign. He demoted his much-maligned campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and elevated pollster Kellyanne Conway (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) and — no, seriously — Stephen Bannon, Trump pal and chairman of the Kellyanne Conway Gage Skidmore photomuch-mocked Trump-cheerleading outlet Breitbart News.

Neither one has ever run something remotely as complex as a presidential campaign. Bannon is in some sense Trump’s twin — a brawler, a bully and someone unburdened by facts. If you thought the current campaign was a three-ring circus, get ready for a caravan of contortionists, clowns and high-wire walkers.  “I am who I am. It’s me,” Donald Trump said on a Wisconsin talk radio interview on Tuesday.

Ivanka Trump, supposedly the brains of the operations, is on vacation — with liberal billionaire (a real one!) David Geffen — while her father melts down. Maybe Republicans should take a hint from her holiday from the horror show and Trump’s own pronouncement. Any notion that the Trump adult children could steady their father evaporated with his latest campaign shake-up.

Baltimore Sun, GOP speechwriter may vote for Hillary Clinton, Richard J. Cross, III, Op-ed: Man who wrote the "Benghazi mom" GOP convention speech says he may vote for Hillary. I am a lifelong political animal and a longtime Maryland Republican. I worked on the staffs of Maryland Congresswoman Helen Bentley and Congressman/Gov. Bob Ehrlich. I also served on the GOP staff of the House Financial Services Committee.

I have lived my life, proudly, as a political moderate striving to make a positive contribution in and around the political arena — not an easy feat in deep blue Maryland, where an insular Democratic establishment has dominated state politics until very recently. But I have always been GOP to the core. Growing up, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were my icons. My sense of party fealty is such that I worked on the paid GOP convention staff in Philadelphia in 2000, and again, just recently, as a professional volunteer on the speechwriting staff in Cleveland.

Politico, Menendez judge: Some corruption defendants getting off too easy, Josh Gerstein and Ryan Hutchins, Aug. 17, 2016. The federal judge handling the corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is publicly lamenting-in another, unrelated case- the light sentences given to defendants who admit to such crimes but agree to cooperate with prosecutors.

At a sentencing hearing Wednesday for a New Jersey contractor who pleaded guilty in a bid-rigging scheme, U.S. District Court Judge William Walls repeatedly called "ridiculous" the light sentences given to cooperating defendants, according to a report in the New Jersey Record. "That is so ridiculous it makes no sense in the context of true law enforcement," Walls said. "This is sheer legal nonsense ... If you swindle the government, regardless of your status, you should go to jail."

Robert MenedezDespite the tongue-lashing he gave prosecutors for recommending leniency, the judge imposed a relatively light sentence on renovation contractor Leovaldo Fundora, who took part in a bid-rigging scheme that cost the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development an estimated $120,000 to $200,000. Walls agreed to sentence Fundora to three years probation as well as fines and restitution totaling about $75,000, but the judge warned he'd be insisting on jail time in the future.

"This is absolutely ridiculous and I will not do it again," Walls told the prosecutor handling the case, according to the Record. "The society is being swindled, and your office seems to care about notching wins." A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman defended prosecutors' requests for leniency for cooperating defendants and noted that judges ultimately have the final say on any sentence.

Walls, a senior judge appointed by President Bill Clinton, is overseeing the case in which Menendez (shown in an official photo) is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and campaign contributions as bribes to do official favors for a Florida ophthalmologist also charged in the case, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Both men have entered not guilty pleas, but Walls has rejected most of the defense motions challenging the charges.

Syrian helicopter combat radius map (Southfront.org)SouthFront, Staff report, Aug. 17, 2016. Yesterday, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that Moscow deployed Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 bombers to the Hamedan Air Base in Iran. This move marked a new step in the Russian-Iranian military cooperation over the Syrian war and conducted significant jitters among states of the US-led anti-Assad alliance.

Many experts already noted that deployment of Russian warplanes in Iran will allow Moscow to reduce the flying time to targets in Syria. Кussian bombers are now capable of carrying three times greater payload and airstrikes can be delivered faster and more cheaply. This also allows Moscow to increase the overall air support to the Syrian government forces on the ground.

However, the deployment has one more strategic implication on the situation in Syria barely covered by the MSM [mainstream media].

In 2015 and early 2016, the Russian Aerospace Forces deployed in Syria has a lack of capacity to support the Syrian government’s operations in eastern and southeastern Syria. Location of the Russian Air Base in Latakia just does not allow the Russians to provide timely and intense air support in these areas.

This was especially clearly seen during the Syrian government’s failed advance on the ISIS-controlled Tabaqa Air Base in the province of Raqqa. Tactical and strategic mistakes on the ground along with a lack of timely air support led to the inability to develop the initial success against ISIS and pro-government forces were forced to retreat from the province.

Now, with Tu-22M3 and Su-34 bombers deployed in Hamadan, Moscow is able to achieve tactical and strategic goals in the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Raqqa and along the whole Syrian-Iraqi border. On August 17, Russian Su-34 bombers already started to purge ISIS targets in Deir Ezzor.

Aug. 16

New York Times, Ousted Fox News Chief Ailes Advising Trump for Debates, Maggie Haberman and Ashley Parker, Aug. 16, 2016. Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chairman ousted last month over charges of sexual harassment, is advising Donald J. Trump in preparation for the all-important presidential debates this fall.

Roger AilesMr. Ailes (shown in a file photo) is aiding the Republican nominee as Mr. Trump turns his attention to the first debate with Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University on Long Island, according to four people briefed on the move, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Two of them said Mr. Ailes’s role could extend beyond the debates, which Mr. Trump’s advisers see as crucial to vaulting him back into strong contention for the presidency after self-inflicted wounds that have eroded his standing in public opinion polls.

Washington Post, FBI delivers Clinton emails, interviews from probe to Congress, Karoun Demirjian and Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 16, 2016. Giving the Republican-controlled Congress the material, which was collected in the bureau's criminal probe of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, is not likely to help the Democratic nominee in the midst of a heated campaign season. She is leading in the polls against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, but polls show that 60 percent of voters don’t believe Clinton is “honest.”

FBI logoThe FBI has turned over to the GOP-controlled Congress a variety of material from its criminal probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, said federal law enforcement sources on Tuesday. That material includes an investigative summary from the FBI’s probe of Clinton; reports known as “302s” containing interviews with the Democratic presidential nominee and others; and classified emails found on her private server.

FBI Director James B. Comey announced in early July he would not recommend charges against Clinton despite finding that she and her staffers were “extremely careless” in their use of the server.

Several House committees received the documents, including the Oversight and Government Reform, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Judiciary panels. “The FBI has turned over a ‘number of documents’ related to their investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server. Committee staff is currently reviewing the information that is classified SECRET. There are no further details at this time,” said an Oversight spokesman.

Washington Post, FBI defends decision not to charge Clinton as it submits probe documents to Congress, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, Aug. 16, 2016. The FBI on Tuesday forcefully defended its decision not to criminally charge Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a private email server as secretary of state in a letter to lawmakers that laid out its rationale for refusing to do so.

The letter was sent to House Oversight Committee lawmakers the same day that the bureau released to the GOP-controlled Congress a variety of material from its investigation.

It marked yet another occasion in which FBI leadership responded to – and in some cases, rebutted – GOP claims about why the Democratic presidential nominee should have been charged. But the materials turned over to lawmakers – which included an investigative summary; reports known as “302s” containing interviews with Clinton and others; and classified emails found on her private server – may give Republicans fodder to criticize Clinton in the months before the election.

That is, if that material — some of which is classified — is actually released or leaked by Republicans, which could put them in the awkward spot of defending the release of sensitive information, which they have criticized Clinton for mishandling by using a private server as secretary of state.

Washington Post, Trump adviser Michael T. Flynn on his dinner with Putin and why Russia Today is just like CNN, Dana Priest, Aug. 15, 2016. The Washington Post’s Dana Priest recently interviewed retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn twice — once in person, once by phone — and conducted follow-up email exchanges. The following is a condensed transcript of the in-person interview. For more on Flynn: He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.

PRIEST: Tell me about the RT [state-run Russian Television] relationship?

FLYNN: I was asked by my speaker’s bureau, LAI. I do public speaking. It was in Russia. It was a paid speaking opportunity. I get paid so much. The speaker’s bureau got paid so much, based on our contract.

PRIEST: Can you tell me how much you got for that?

FLYNN: No.

PRIEST: No? Because you don’t want to get your fees out there?

FLYNN: Yeah, I don’t.

PRIEST: What was the gig?

FLYNN: The gig was to do an interview with [RT correspondent] Sophie Shevardnadze. It was an interview in front of the forum, probably 200 people in the audience. My purpose there was I was asked to talk about radical Islam in the Middle East. They asked me to talk about what was going on in the situation unfolding in the Middle East. … The speaking agreement was done before Russian went into Syria, which was actually more interesting to me because … one of my discussions, I talked about the attacks in France … and the negative role that Iran was playing where I thought Russian could actually have a role. The statement that I made was actually: “Russia ought to get Iran to back out of the proxy wars they are involved in,” to include Syria, so we, the rest of the international community, could settle this situation down.

Washington Post, Conservative wonks dismayed by Trump’s lack of substance, James Hohmann​, Aug. 16, 2016. “God help us,” George Shultz said when asked about the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency. Clinton is closer to winning red states than she is to losing swing states.

Donald TrumpWashington Post, Trump’s pitch to Mormons falls flat, Stephen Stromberg, Aug. 16, 2016. Last week, Donald Trump tried to win over a roomful of pastors by noting that he was struggling in Utah, which he called “a different place.” This was a barely disguised attempt to profit from anti-Mormon sentiment among evangelicals. Now, a week after insulting Mormons, he is shamelessly asking for their vote. “Earning support and trust from the voters of Utah is a top priority for me,” Trump declared Monday in the Mormon-owned Deseret News. Yet his pitch to them was lazy and uninformed, a barely disguised admission of how little he thinks of voters.

In a month in which Evan McMullin, a conservative graduate of Brigham Young University, has emerged as a ballot-eligible non-Trump alternative to Clinton, a reasonable candidate would have had someone on his campaign spend a few minutes figuring out how to talk to Mormons, or at least refrained from insulting them. Trump didn’t bother. Instead, he highlighted one of his core attributes: a carelessness that is so obvious it reeks of disrespect.

Zero Hedge via LewRockwell.com, German President Booed, Attacked; Claims "The People Are The Problem, Not The Elites," Tyler Durden, Aug. 16, 2016. Following Angela Merkel’s earlier calls for German CEOs to hire refugees, and as Martin Armstrong notes, Germany has raided its healthcare funds to support the refugee crisis. The government passed a law that allows them to take 1.5 billion euros from the liquidity reserve of the public health care fund (10 billion euros in total, paid by all members and additionally by the taxpayer) and to give that money to refugees / asylum seekers.

Aug. 15

Paul Manafort

New York Times, Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Top Trump Aide, Andrew E. Kramer, Mike McIntire and Barry Meier, Aug. 15, 2016. Records show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Paul Manafort, the campaign manager for Donald J. Trump, from a pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections.

WHAM 1180-AM (Rochester, NY), Lonsberry: Donald, you dumb son of a bitch, Host: Bob Lonsberry (conservative broadcaster and early Trump supporter), Aug. 15, 2016. Fire that fool Manafort — he's the only guy in America creepier than you are (shown belown). Make genuine peace with the structure of the Republican Party. Hire a speech writer who's read the Constitution. Gather a staff that will do something more than kiss your self-indulgent ass.

Paul ManafortBuy some frigging ads, stop boasting about how good you are, get somebody to tell you when to shut your mouth, and focus on the specific issues that won you the Republican primaries.

Hillary is a sinister harpy whose failed career and campaign are flying under the cover of your clownish distraction. America does not want to vote for her. She is eminently beatable -- by everybody but the you who has thus far been on display.

So fix yourself. Or remove yourself.  It's not the media, it's not the establishment, it's not political correctness. It's you. You're the problem. And you are not just destroying a campaign and a party, you are endangering our country. And nobody's worth that.

I've backed you since the morning of Iowa. I believed in you. I thought you could do it. And every day you go out to prove me wrong. Me, and everybody else who voted for you.

Washington Post, Trump seeks ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants and visitors to the U.S., Karen DeYoung, Aug. 15, 2016. The GOP presidential nominee called for a Cold War-style mobilization against “radical Islamic terror,” repeating and repackaging calls for strict immigration controls — including a new ideological litmus test for Muslim visitors and migrants — and he accused President Obama and Hillary Clinton of allowing the rise of the Islamic State. 

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine July 2016 at DNCWashington Post, In Scranton, Pa., Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s memory lane tour is an appeal to white working-class Democrats, Anne Gearan, Aug. 15, 2016. Vice President Biden excoriated Donald Trump as a dangerous and ill-informed bully on Monday as he urged a hometown crowd in this hard-luck former industrial center to support Hillary Clinton.

Washington Post, GOP nominee once again uttered a slew of false statements that have been repeatedly debunked, Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, ​Aug. 15, 2016. Donald Trump traveled to Youngstown, Ohio, to deliver what was billed as a “major” speech on how to deal with the threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, a.k.a. ISIS.

For reasons known only to Trump, he continued to repeat false statements that have been repeatedly debunked in the past. So here’s a roundup of some of the more notable claims made in the speech. As is our practice, we don’t award Pinocchios in roundups, but readers by now should be able to tell the real whoppers.

SouthFront, Hackers Rat Out Recipients of Soross (sic) Money Among ‘Independent’ Ukrainian Journalists, Staff report, Aug. 16, 2016. Hackers published online the Soros Foundation’s documents, relating to Ukraine. The documents are available on the website DCLeaks.com. The documents include lists of issuing grants to journalists and media centers.

In particular, it offered to pay for the work of about a hundred journalists, who would cover the news of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. One of the documents noted that with the help of grants and technical assistance the funding would be about US $500,000 per year. Such information portals as Krym.Realii and Hromadske TV are listed among the recipients. The documents also imply support of the StopFake website, which is maintained by “volunteers” from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). They “check facts” of striking examples of the propaganda in Russian and Ukrainian (indeed, mostly Russian) media. The Soros Foundation noted that StopFake would cooperate with foreign portals of the similar format and it would need about $50,000 USD for the development of both the website and its network.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and George Soros meet (Ukraine photo)

New York Daily News, Ivanka Trump spends day during Croatia family vacation with rumored Putin love interest Wendi Deng Murdoch, Adam Edelman, Aug. 15, 2016. Ivanka Trump on Sunday took an Ivank Trump and Wendi Deng Murdoch via Instagramafternoon of her family vacation in Croatia to walk through the scenic city of Dubrovnik with Wendi Deng Murdoch.

Deng, who was divorced from Rupert Murdoch in 2013 and who has been linked romantically to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in recent months, was pictured in an Instagram photo alongside the GOP nominee's daughter posted to Trump's account. "Sight seeing with @wendimurdoch in Dubrovnik," the photo's caption read.

The two are rumored to be friends, but the optics of the photo could raise further questions about the relationship between Ivanka's father and Putin.  Trump has repeatedly made favorable statements about Putin, and incorrectly stated that Putin would never invade the Ukraine, even though he did just that in 2014.

Trump has also urged Russian hackers to find and leak Hillary Clinton's deleted emails and suggested the U.S. shouldn't uphold its obligations to its NATO allies — ideas which both have spooked foreign policy experts in and out of the U.S. as well as officials in several European nations.

Donald Trump for President logoSeparately, as People Magazine noted in a column by Stephanie Petit, Trump, 34, was spotted with husband Jared Kushner in the city's old town, seemingly taking a couple's vacation without their three children – Arabella, 5, Joseph, 2, and Theodore, 4 months.

Deng Murdoch was actually responsible for setting up Trump and Kushner. "Everything she has is available to her friends, which, believe me, is not common," Trump told Vogue earlier this summer of her friend. "There's nothing that doesn't interest her, and she can hit five topics in a 35-second conversation. It's really a whirlwind with Wendi. I can't recall the last time I had a conversation with her that didn't conclude with her connecting me to four people who might become great friends or great business opportunities."

Daily Mail, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner may be hailed as a power couple today, but the pair broke up in 2008 because of their religious differences. Jessica Chia, Aug. 15, 2016. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner met in 2005, married four years later, But they broke up in 2008 because he was raised in a Modern Orthodox family who wanted him to marry a Jewish woman.

In a move Jane Austen would have appreciated, Wendi Deng Murdoch, the former wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, brought the two back together on a weekend yacht trip, the New Yorker reported. Wendi has since divorced Murdoch, 85, who once advised Kushner after he purchased the New York Observer for $10million, with rumors swirling that she is in a 'serious' relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ivanka made her friendship with Wendi apparent, giving the 47-year-old a shout out on Instagram last week, before sharing a snap of them vacationing in Croatia yesterday.

When Kushner was 25, he bought the New York Observer, a weekly newspaper, and frequently sought the advice of Rupert Murdoch. He met Ivanka in 2005 after they were introduced by a real estate broker and the two hit it off instantly.

The Leak Project, Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig interviewed, Rex Bear, Aug. 15, 2016. Leak Project radio host Rex Bear interviewed JIP editor and Presidential Puppetry author Andrew Kreig for a two-hour segment of the free subscription radio program, covering a wide variety of important political developments arising from covert actions and overlooked by the mainstream media. The Leak Project was created to offer awareness and information not found in the mainstream news.   

Politico, Citing Clinton, sailor seeks leniency in submarine photos case, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 15, 2016. A Navy sailor facing the possibility of years in prison for taking a handful of Hillary Clintonclassified photos inside a nuclear submarine is making a bid for leniency by citing the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over classified information authorities say was found in her private email account.

Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, is set to be sentenced Friday on a single felony charge of retaining national defense information without permission. In May, Saucier pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., admitting that while working on the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009 he took and kept six photos showing parts of the sub's propulsion system he knew to be classified.

The defense and prosecutors agree that sentencing guidelines in the case call for a prison term of 63 to 78 months, but defense attorney Derrick Hogan cited the treatment of Clinton as he argued in a filing last week that Saucier should get probation instead.

There are distinctions between the cases. Saucier admitted as part of a plea bargain that he "knew from his training and his specialized work upon the submarine" that the photos contained classified information and he wasn't authorized to take them. He also admitted that after being confronted by law enforcement in 2012 he destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card.

Clinton has said she didn't know any information on her server was classified.
Saucier's drive for leniency may ultimately benefit more from the treatment of some of his fellow submates than from the handling of cases involving Clinton or other prominent officials. Hogan cites incidents involving two other Navy sailors on the Alexandria who were caught taking photos in classified spaces on the vessel. One received a one rank reduction and was docked $560 in pay. The other was just docked $560 in pay. Both cases were handled through a Captain's Mast hearing used for relatively minor cases.

Huffington Post, Even Donald Trump’s Supporters Are Telling Him To Release His Tax Returns, Kim Bellware, Aug. 15, 2016. One prominent backer noted that the GOP nominee has said multiple times that he’d Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logomake the documents public. Donald Trump’s critics have been calling for months on the Republican presidential candidate to release his tax returns, to no avail. Now, even Trump supporters are joining the chorus. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), a professed Trump backer (for now), wrote a Sunday New York Times op-ed titled, “I Support You, Donald Trump. Now Release Your Tax Returns.”

CNN, Clarissa Ward On Syria: 'There are no winners in Aleppo,' Aug. 15, 2016. 'This is Hell.' Editor's note: On Aug. 8, 2016 CNN's Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward spoke at a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. The following are her full remarks (excerpted here).

I first visited Aleppo in the summer of 2012 and I remember the drive towards the city, the closer you got to it the less power there was, and we drove along in a tense silence with this eerie darkness all around us. But as you got closer you started to hear sounds, the sounds of shelling. At first a dull thud, then louder and louder.

Eventually we reached a place in the area surrounding Aleppo called Hraytan and by now the shelling was no longer a dull thud, it was artillery landing just a few hundred meters away from us. We grabbed our gear and dove into the basement of the house where we were staying, where we were the guests of several Syrian families....

Harper's, Acceptable Losses: Aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen, Andrew Cockburn, Aug. 15, 2016 (September print issue). Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

This rain of destruction was made possible by the material and moral support of the United States, which supplied most of the bombers, bombs, and missiles required for the aerial onslaught. (Admittedly, the United Kingdom, France, and other NATO arms exporters eagerly did their bit.) U.S. Navy ships aided the blockade. But no one that I talked to in Washington suggested that the war was in any way necessary to our national security. The best answer I got came from Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman from California who has been one of the few public officials to speak out about the devastation we were enabling far away. “Honestly,” he told me, “I think it’s because Saudi Arabia asked.”

New York Times, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Is Convicted on All Counts, Jess Bidgood, Aug. 15, 2016. Kathleen G. Kane, the attorney general of Pennsylvania, was convicted Monday night of nine criminal charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy. It was a stunning end to the political career of Ms. Kane, once an ascendant Democratic star, whose fall came when prosecutors here accused her of leaking grand jury information, and then lying about it, in an effort to discredit a political rival.

Kathleen KaneJust hours before, Ms. Kane, whose lawyers called no witnesses in her defense, had taken her seat at the defense table for the better part of four hours listening to the closing arguments in her own trial — the latest step in a strange political spectacle that has turned Ms. Kane from a rising political star to a criminal defendant. 

Ms. Kane, who faced nine charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy, was accused of leaking secret grand jury documents to the news media in an effort to discredit a political rival, the prosecutor Frank Fina, and then lying to cover it up.

Ms. Kane, who is the first woman and the first Democrat elected as Pennsylvania’s attorney general, said in the past that she had been targeted by the same old-boy network that she has sought to scrutinize. But in court, she has been silent: While her defense team cross-examined the prosecution’s witnesses, it rested without calling a single one of its own.

The trial is the latest installment in a surly web of scandal and counterscandal, threaded with lewd emails, political rivalries and alleged leaks. It has cost other state officials, including two State Supreme Court justices, their jobs and Ms. Kane her law license. And, pending the deliberations of the jury, it could land her in prison.

“It turns on the perception that she abused her power. She is the chief law enforcement officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said David Zellis, a former prosecutor in Bucks County who has been observing the trial but is not involved. He added, “I think that it’s turned the whole criminal justice system in the state upside down.”

Ms. Kane was elected in 2012 after she campaigned with a promise to review the investigation into Jerry Sandusky, the assistant football coach for Penn State who was convicted of sexual abuse, which was led by the attorney general at the time, Tom Corbett, and Mr. Fina. She did not find evidence of political interference, but Ms. Kane did find that lewd and racist emails had been exchanged by state officials, and began to release them to the news media. She has said that some in the state’s male-dominated political establishment have concocted her political difficulties to retaliate for the disclosures and to prevent more emails from being leaked.

Unz Review, Michael Weiss and the Iran-U.S. Hardline Nexus That Led Iranian-American to Evin Prison, Richard Silverstein, Aug. 15, 2016. How Daily Beast Editor, Michael Weiss Helped Send Iranian-American to Torture Chambers of Evin Prison. It’s a long way from the campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods in 2003 to Tehran’s Evin Prison in 2016. But the path between them led to a fateful intersection of the lives of Michael D. Weiss (the Dartmouth student) and Siamak Namazi (a jailed Iranian-American).

SouthFront, Suicide Attack at Atmeh Bordercrossing Kills Killing Over 30 Militants Heading to Syria from Turkey, Staff report, Aug. 15, 2016. A suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Syria near the Atmeh border crossing into Turkey on August 14. The bus was carrying pro-Turkish militants for the Syrian war. The explosion took place at the entrance of Atmeh refugee camp in Syria’s Idlib province, near the border crossing. This area is a major bastion of the Western-backed jihadists.

Local sources say the explosion killed over 30 militants and injured many others while the UK-based “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” which is a voice of Western-backed jihadists, says that 15 “people” were killed and 25 others injured. Various reports said that the explosive targeted the US-backed “moderates” from Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Faylaq al-Sham and some others.

Aug. 14

Washington Post, Fox News confronts (but just barely) a scandal in its own house, Paul Farhi, Aug. 14, 2016. Sexual harassment allegations about ex-boss Roger Ailes get the once-over-lightly treatment. It's one of the most intriguing stories of the summer, a tale of sex, money, politics and corporate skulduggery that would seem especially ripe for coverage and discussion by the firebrands at Fox News.

Except Fox News barely seems to have noticed. Ever since former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit July 6 against the network’s co-founder and chairman, Roger Ailes (shown in a file photo), Fox has been tight-lipped about telling its viewers about the allegations, which have turned the network upside down.

Roger AilesFox mentioned the lawsuit and Ailes’s subsequent resignation July 21, but that’s about all it has done since the news broke. It has not conducted a single on-camera interview with any person connected with the news, including Ailes, who built Fox into a clarion of the American conservative movement. According to Fox’s news-clip archive, there have been no panel discussions, no diatribes from Fox’s famously aggressive hosts, no follow-up investigations, no tributes to the Ailes era.

In all, Fox has devoted a total of about 11 minutes of airtime to the news about Ailes over the past five weeks, a review of the archive shows. That’s less time than Bill O’Reilly spent criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement on “The O’Reilly Factor” over a couple of days this month.

CNN, Brian Stelter: Sean Hannity Irresponsibly "Spreading Conspiracy Theories" About Hillary Clinton Health Problems, Tim Hains, Aug. 14, 2016. CNN host Brian Stelter blames Fox News host Sean Hannity for spreading "conspiracy theories" about the health of Hillary Clinton. Related Video: FOX News' Medical Team: What Do Hillary Clinton's Neurological Records Show? "Let me be clear," Stelter said. "That was reckless speculation by Sean Hannity. All of it."

"Conspiracy theories are so much more interesting than the truth," Stelter said. "But the last time I checked, Fox still has the word news in its name." Conservative writer Mike Cernovich, in an article on his website Friday, cited a "board-certified anesthesiologist with 36 years of experience," who diagnosed Hillary Clinton with Parkinson's Disease.

Washington Post, U.S. skipped standard bid procedure, provided windfall deal for asylum facility, Chico Harlan, Aug. 14, 2016. The Obama administration bypassed the standard public bidding process and agreed to a four-year, $1 billion contract two years ago with Corrections Corporation of America to build a massive detention facility for Central American women and children surging across the U.S. border seeking asylum.

As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.

The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge.

In hundreds of other detention contracts given out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, federal payouts rise and fall in step with the percentage of beds being occupied. But in this case, CCA is paid for 100 percent capacity even if the facility is, say, half full, as it has been in recent months. An ICE spokeswoman, Jennifer Elzea, said that the contracts for the 2,400-bed facility in Dilley and one for a 532-bed family detention center in Karnes City, Tex., given to another company, are “unique” in their payment structures because they provide “a fixed monthly fee for use of the entire facility regardless of the number of residents.”

Associated Press via Philly.com, Video proves Clinton suffering seizures? Not so, I was there, Lisa Lerer, Aug. 14, 2016. I've never been part of a conspiracy theory. Now, video of my surprised facial expression has become Exhibit A in the latest unfounded speculation about Hillary Clinton. It starts with Clinton's visit to a muffin shop in Washington on June 10, five days before the District of Columbia's Democratic primary. The then-presumptive Democratic nominee popped in for a photo op with Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials supporting her campaign.

As an Associated Press reporter who's spent more than a year covering her candidacy, I was there for her appearance. After she ordered herself a "cold chai," my colleagues and I shouted some questions, mostly about Clinton's recent meeting with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds. Video of the moment shows me holding out my recorder in front of her, laughing and stepping back in surprise. After the exchange, she took a few more photos, exited the shop and greeted supporters waiting outside.

Two months later, that innocuous exchange has become the fodder for one of some Trump supporters' most popular conspiracy theories: her failing health. Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures. Stringing the footage together with shots of Clinton seeming to get help going up stairs, they pressed the case that Clinton has health issues serious enough to disqualify her from the presidency. The hashtag? #HillaryHealth.

The conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity opened a 6-minute Thursday night segment titled "Hillary's Health" by saying, "as speculation swirls about Hillary Clinton's health," citing a headline from the right-wing news site Drudge Report. Hannity repeatedly played the muffin shop footage, describing what Clinton was doing as "this sort of twitching thing that she does in front of reporters that was really bad" and then as "a violent, violent, repetitive jerking of the head."

Seemingly as "proof" that something was amiss with Clinton, Hannity exclaimed: "Watch the reporter, like, pull back as she — the reporter got scared. And she keeps doing it. What is that?"

Donald Trump 2016 buttonWashington Post, Trump’s campaign continues to blame ‘disgusting and corrupt’ media, Katie Zezima, Aug. 14, 2016. Donald Trump's presidential campaign is taking even sharper aim at one of its biggest foes — the news media. In recent days, Trump and his campaign have slammed the media harder than ever.

The candidate labeled reporters the "lowest form of humanity" in Pennsylvania on Friday and claimed that the media is piling on him and doing the bidding of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Democratic-Republican Campagne logosTax Wall Street Party, Hillary Or Trump? Advice For The Undecided, Jeffrey Jackson (Legal Advisor to the Tax Wall Street Party), Aug. 14, 2016. This presidential election cycle pits the two most unpopular candidates in American history against each other. Hillary Clinton is a notorious warmonger and conniver, and Donald Trump, a relative newcomer to the political scene this election cycle, has exposed himself as a vehement and psychotic Nazi-fascist. Since Hillary and the fascist Trump were nominated in July, many independent voters have faced a dilemma: Do I support the devil I don't know (Trump), or the devil I do know (Hillary)? 

Donald Trump button open mouthThe answer is obviously to do everything to see that the fascist Trump is defeated, using whatever political tools are at hand. When faced with a choice between a fascist and a non-fascist, the answer must be to smash fascism every time.

Domestically, Hillary is a proven servant of the money center Wall Street banks and hedge funds. In foreign policy, Hillary is a notorious warmonger and hawk. But despite all that is upsetting about Hillary, is she a fascist? The answer is objectively ‘no,’ Hillary is not a fascist. Of the two candidates for President, Donald Trump is the fascist. It is important during this election for every voter to become educated about what fascism is and what it is not.

The definition is not subjective. A basic Wikipedia search is a fine place to start. Fascism is a mass movement of irrationality around a single charismatic and demagogic leader who is often considered infallible. Trump has proven to be as irrational as one can imagine. Trump’s followers throw all reason out the window to support his outrageous proclamations. One need only look to Trump’s litany of campaign promises that have no basis in reality and the implementation of which rely solely on the magnetism of Trump’s will.

Hillary ClintonThe only reasonable bet is to defeat Trump and then box Hillary in between Congress and an aroused citizenry not willing to tolerate any more suicidal wars. If Hillary starts new conflicts, she will soon be swept away. Better a revived anti-war movement against Hillary than Trump’s jackboots at YOUR door, every hard-won economic right stripped, laws changed to suit Trump’s ego, the further deregulation of Wall Street and so on. When these things are taken away it doesn’t necessarily take generations for them to be won back; many times, they never come back.

Fascism creates a cult of violence. Trump’s latest incitement to violence occurred when he implied “2nd Amendment people” could assassinate Hillary and the Supreme Court Justices she may later appoint if she wins the election. Trump has also expressed a fascination with using nuclear weapons, which has raised the specter of Trump’s obsession with violence to civilization-ending levels.

There has been dangerous myth perpetuated in this election that Trump is a non-interventionist. Trump is more menacing, wild and hawkish than Hillary when it comes to war -- and we should not want to wait and find out how true this statement is.

Washington Post, A porous ethical wall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, Editorial board, Aug. 14, 2016. In another election year with an opponent who is not so obviously unqualified, last week’s revelations about connections between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation would have been bigger news. Though it is an exaggeration to claim that Ms. Clinton ran her agency as a pay-to-play operation, the latest unearthed emails from the Clinton State Department nevertheless reveal that the ethical wall she was supposed to have built between herself and her family’s organization was not impermeable enough.

Two email conversations revealed by the conservative activist organization Judicial Watch show that staff on both sides of that wall were in contact. Both conversations involved Douglas J. Band, head of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, when the emails were written, and top Clinton aides. In the most concerning, Mr. Band pressed Clinton confidantes Huma Abedin and Cheryl D. Mills to connect Gilbert Chagoury, a major Clinton Foundation donor, with a senior State Department official. Mr. Chagoury says that no meeting took place and that he just wanted to pass information about the political situation in his native Lebanon to the relevant diplomatic official.

WhoWhatWhy, Threats to Democracy: Russ Baker on the Saudi-9/11 Coverup, WhoWhatWhy Staff, Aug. 14, 2016. Some people view the release of the infamous “28 Pages” on the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the attacks of September 11, 2001 as the end of a process. But WhoWhatWhy’s Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker points out that the new section raises more questions than it answers. Watch Russ discuss the 28 Pages and shed light on what they do not reveal.

Daily Beast, ISiS orders its franchises to kill Christians, Philip Obaji, Jr., Aug. 14, 2014. The coup that replaced Boko Haram's leader.

Aug. 13

Michael York Aug. 12, 2016

Actor Michael York makes dramatic plea for awareness of rare cancer, treatment (Justice Integrity Project Photo)

National Press Club, Actor Michael York raises profile of the rare disease amyloidosis at National Press Club Luncheon, Varun Saxena, Aug. 13, 2016. British actor Michael York, speaking at a National Press Club luncheon Friday, described his struggles with the disease amyloidosis in an effort to raise awareness of the rare condition, which affects about 1 in 100,000 people.

The actor, who starred in "The Three Musketeers" and various Austin Powers films, realized something was wrong when he began to develop dark spots under his eyes, which required he use additional stage makeup to cover up. He also began to feel very tired, and was unable to pursue his acting career, until his recent remission when he voiced veterinarian Dr. Budgie in "The Simpsons."

As is often the case with rare diseases, York’s condition was misdiagnosed for several years, before a doctor at the Mayo Clinic who specializes in amyloidosis realized that he had the disease, not the cancer that doctors diagnosed initially. His disease has been in remission for the last three years.

Washington Post, Once in control of GOP, conservatives agonize over election and beyond, David Weigel, Aug. 13, 2016. The annual RedState Gathering that usually revs up Republicans has become a therapy session for them as they wonder if their party can be fixed.

Daily Beast, Tubs Of Caviar at Donald Trump’s Wedding, Mimi Sheraton, Aug. 13, 2014. In 1981, when I was the New York Times restaurant critic, Donald Trump already was considered a bragging self-promoter and a killer real estate magnate. So in the spring of that year, I proceeded with extra caution during the four or five meals I had at Trumpets, the then new, attractive, modernist restaurant installed in the Grand Hyatt Hotel that the Donald owned and extensively remodeled.

My one-star rating, meaning “Good,” usually provoked strong protests from restaurateurs who felt damned with faint praise. Expecting a rant of the sort we recently have come to know, I had a pleasant surprise a week or so later, by way of a short, gracious note signed, Donald Trump. He thanked me for one of the fairest reviews he had ever read and also for my suggested improvements that they would seriously consider. (Alas, I did not save that letter. Think of what it might be worth if he becomes president and, maybe, even more if, hopefully, he does not!)

Washington Post, How Donald Trump’s bizarre voter-watch effort could get the GOP in trouble, Philip Bump, Aug. 13, 2016. After telling an audience in Altoona, Pa., that he would seek their help in policing Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logothe polls in November to root out voter fraud — something that even the state of Pennsylvania has noted doesn't exist in any meaningful way — Donald Trump's campaign nationalized the effort on Saturday morning. Now eager Trump backers can go to Trump's website and sign up to be "a Trump Election Observer." Do so, and you get an email thanking you for volunteering and assuring you that the campaign will "do everything we are legally allowed to do to stop crooked Hillary from rigging this election."

There are any number of problems with this, again starting with the fact that the frequency of in-person voter fraud in elections is lower than getting five numbers right in the Powerball. But there's a potentially bigger legal problem noted by election law expert Rick Hasen of the University of California at Irvine: Trump's unnecessary effort could be violating a prohibition against voter intimidation that applies to the Republican Party.

Aug. 12

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton via flickr and Karen Smith Murphy

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton (Karen Smith Murphy photo via Flickr)

Washington Post, Clinton tax return shows couple made $10.7 million in 2015, Anne Gearan, Tom Hamburger and John Wagner​, Aug. 12, 2016. The campaign also disclosed a detailed list of speaking fees Hillary Clinton Buttontotaling nearly $23 million that she and her husband together earned in 2013. The release comes as Clinton seeks to apply pressure to Republican opponent Donald Trump, who has not released his tax returns. Clinton's running mate Sen. Tim Kaine, and his wife, Anne Holton also released 10 years' worth of returns.

Washington Post, Trump demanded Obama’s records. But he’s not releasing his own, Jenna Johnson, Aug. 12, 2016. The GOP candidate’s campaign is mum on why it won’t release documents on taxes, immigration, education and health.

Washington Post, Trump refuses to disclose his bundlers. What is he hiding?  Editorial board, Aug. 12, 2016. "Big Business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place,” Donald Trump declared at the Republican National Convention last month. “She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.”

Donald Trump for President logoNever persuasive, this line of attack was at least less hypocritical when Mr. Trump largely self-funded his campaign. These days he is raking in donations — $80 million last month, according to the campaign — and from bigwigs as well as small donors. Among others, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and coal executive Joe Craft are fundraising for the GOP nominee. So who, to use his formulation, is now pulling Mr. Trump’s strings?

Voters could get some answers if Mr. Trump would release, as have Hillary Clinton and most recent candidates before her, the names of his bundlers. These are the people who solicit large numbers of often medium-size checks and hand them over to campaigns. Though they do not necessarily give huge amounts of their own cash, bundlers rake in big sums for their candidates — and therefore pose a similar threat to the integrity of the political process. Even so, the law requires campaigns to disclose bundlers only when they are registered lobbyists. It is left to the campaigns to voluntarily provide more information.

Washington Post, Two people write Trump’s tweets. He writes the angrier ones, David Robinson, Aug. 12, 2016. A statistical analysis of the GOP candidate's online persona. Recently, political and digital analysts began to suspect that Donald Trump’s tweets are authored by two different people: Someone on his campaign staff is tweeting from an iPhone, and the billionaire himself is tweeting from his Samsung Galaxy. Some posts are markedly more hyperbolic and aggressive (“Like the worthless @NYDailyNews, looks like @politico will be going out of business. Bad reporting- no money, no cred!”) than the campaign boilerplate (“Thank you Windham, New Hampshire! #TrumpPence16 #MAGA”). In short, they sound like Trump. When Trump wishes the Olympic team good luck, it comes from an iPhone. When he’s insulting a rival, it usually comes from an Android

Tim Kaine officialWashington Post, Tim Kaine just called out Donald Trump’s history of housing discrimination, Emily Badger, Aug. 12, 2016. Someone finally starts talking about housing in the presidential election. An official photo shows Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, a U.S. senator representing Virginia.
   
Washington Post, The Trump we saw: Populist, frustrating, naive, wise, forever on the make, Marc Fisher and Michael Kranish, Aug. 12, 2016. Throughout hours of interviews, he was alternately enthusiastic and sternly skeptical. Book excerpt: This is an adapted excerpt from “Trump Revealed,” a broad, comprehensive examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee to be published by Scribner on Aug. 23.

Trump made himself available, in person and on the phone, to reporters delving into his childhood, real estate career, Atlantic City gambling operations, foreign business ventures and political evolution, as well as his romances, family history, friendships and other influences. He provided this access despite his public ban against The Post’s reporters who were covering his campaign.         

Washington Post, Felix Vail guilty in first wife’s 1962 La. murder, Travis M. Andrews, Aug. 12, 2016. For over 50 years, his romantic partners have died or vanished. A jury found Felix Vail guilty Friday in the 1962 homicide of his first wife, Mary Horton Vail. The Lake Charles, La., jury deliberated less than an hour, the Clarion-Ledger reported. His first wife died while out fishing with him. Her body was found in the Calcasieu River with four inches of her scarf stuffed into her mouth and down her throat. She was 22 years old, with a 4-month-old son at home.

RealClearPolitics, Trump's Crisis Playbook: Admit No Wrong, Rebecca Berg, Aug. 11, 2016. Donald Trump’s suggestion that “Second Amendment people” could prevent Hillary Clinton from nominating judges, should she be elected, set off a new firestorm in the presidential race — but a familiar one, too, for Trump’s response. Rather than correct his comments — which to some suggested a threat of gun violence — or express culpability for any misunderstanding, the celebrity businessman has instead dug in, insisting “dishonest media” misconstrued his meaning.

Washington Post, Will a traffic plan at Trump’s new D.C. hotel block free speech? Colbert I. King, Aug. 12, 2016. A lawsuit seeks information the D.C. government might have about the deal. The Trump Organization, led by arch First Amendment foe Donald Trump, has worked out a traffic arrangement with the D.C. government that one free-speech advocacy group, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, fears will allow for the stifling of speech and assembly in proximity to the historic Old Post Office Building, which Trump has leased from the feds for use as a Trump International Hotel.

This is the same Donald Trump, who, as depicted in the partnership’s lawsuit against the city, “called for protesters to be ‘roughed up’ and ‘carried out on a stretcher,’ offered to pay the legal fees of persons who assault protesters, deployed security who have assaulted protesters and destroyed protest signs outside the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City, suggested he would be in favor of ‘closing’ the internet under certain circumstances, indicated that he would like to rewrite libel laws to suppress unflattering press coverage, and revoked press credentials from The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Univision, The Daily Beast, the Des Moines Register and Politico.”

Why the concern?

The D.C. Department of Transportation has approved a vehicle-access lane for valet parking service at the hotel’s entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue, the historic national thoroughfare running between the White House and the Capitol, where free speech and dissent have long openly fared. Free-speech advocates worry that the Trump hotel will now feel free to create a buffer zone around itself, restricting access to exclusive or priority use by the Trump Organization.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image/DCMA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)

SouthFront, Turkey May Close Syrian Border at Russia’s Request, Reports, Staff report, Aug. 12, 2016. Moscow has demanded Ankara to close the Turkish-Syrian border to stop the flow of terrorists and weapons. According to Russian diplomats Turkey has no choice and it will fulfill Russia’s conditions. During the negotiations between Moscow and Ankara, Russian diplomats and military demanded to close the Turkish-Syrian border, the Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing Russian members of parliament and its own sources. Earlier, it was reported that Russia and Turkey have created a tripartite mechanism consisting of intelligence officials, military and diplomatic representatives from each side.

“Naturally, we raised the issue of closing the Syrian-Turkish border to stop the flow of terrorists and weapons. In this way, militants would lose any kind of replenishment supply from the outside,” Deputy Head of the Defense Committee of the State Duma, Victor Vodolatsky, noted. “Turkish negotiators, both diplomatic and military, have virtually no field for a maneuver. At the same time, they, apparently, are attuned to overcome the controversial issues. For this reason, they will have to fulfill our condition of closing the border with Syria,” member of the International Committee of the Federation Council, Igor Morozov, said. 

RealClearPolitics, Rand Paul: CIA Annex In Benghazi Shipped Arms From Libya To Syria; Clinton Lied About It, Tim Hains, Aug. 12, 2016. Sen. Rand Paul (shown in an official photo) says that Hillary Clinton deserves five years in prison for lying to Congress about the true nature of the CIA operation in Benghazi that was attacked by terrorists in 2012. Under oath before Congress in 2013, Hillary Clinton answered a question from Sen. Paul, saying she knew nothing about the weapons shipments from Libya to Syria. Rand PaulHowever, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said last months that his next release of Clinton emails may prove that this is not true.

ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: Julian Assange, who has Wikileaks, says there are some emails that pretty much tie Hillary Clinton to knowing about some weapons that may have been going through Libya to some of the ISIS fighters… Now if Wikileaks in fact does have emails proving that she did know what does that mean to you?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): It’s a felony to lie to Congress. You can get five years in prison. And we can’t continue to say the Clintons are above the law. I do believe that the CIA annex in Benghazi was procuring weapons, some of them to get them away from the jihadists in Libya. But some of it to ferry those weapons through Turkey, into Syria. There have been many, many first hand accounts, The New York Times, London Times, Washington Times have all reported on this… I find it hard to believe that Hillary Clinton, who all the news report have said she was the biggest advocate for arming the Islamic rebels in Syria, many of them turned out to be not only enemies of ours, some of them also turned out to be enemies of Israel.

OpEdNews, Rethinking The Cold War, Paul Craig Roberts, Aug. 12, 2016. Americans see imaginary threats, not real ones. What the Russians and Chinese see are a people too brainwashed and ignorant to be of any support for peace. They see war coming and are preparing for it.

The Cold War began during the Truman administration and lasted through the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations and was ended in Reagan's second term when Reagan and Gorbachev came to an agreement that the conflict was dangerous, expensive, and pointless.

The Cold War was a Washington creation. It was the work of the Dulles brothers. Allen was the head of the CIA, and John Foster was the Secretary of State, positions that they held for a long time. The brothers had a vested interest in the Cold War. They used the Cold War to protect the interests of their law firm's clients, and they used it to enhance the power and budgets associated with their high positions in government. It is much more exciting to be in charge of foreign policy and covert activity in dangerous times.

Whenever a reformist democratic government appeared in Latin America, the Dulles brothers saw it as a threat to the holdings that their law firm's clients had in that country. These holdings, sometimes acquired with bribes to nondemocratic governments, diverted the country's resources and wealth into American hands, and that is the way the Dulles brothers intended to keep it. The reformist government would be declared Marxist or Communist, and the CIA and State Department would work together to overthrow it and place back in power a dictator in bed with Washington.

Brookings Institution, Why Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be a foreign policy hawk as president, Jeremy Shapiro and Richard Sokolsky, Aug. 12, 2016. Everybody knows Hillary Clinton, and everybody particularly knows her foreign policy views. After all, she has been a presence in national politics for more than 25 years and has a long record as first lady, senator, and secretary of state.

Most believe that Hillary Clinton is a “hawk” on foreign policy, and that as president, she would escalate current U.S. military commitments in the Middle East and elsewhere, dragging America into more military misadventures in various far-flung corners of the world.

Clinton has indeed often favored the use of force. But President Hillary Clinton would not likely be the uber hawk that so many expect. First, her record is in fact more nuanced than is often appreciated — she has just as often pushed for diplomatic solutions as military ones. But more importantly, it is because, as president, she will find that the use of force abroad will offer precious few opportunities for making a difference, and will come at a considerable political cost at home.

Aug. 11

Washington Post, Clinton: Election is a choice between helping the rich or everyone else, John Wagner and Jim Tankersley​, Aug. 11, 2016. In a rebuttal to Trump’s economic speech in Detroit Monday, the Hillary ClintonDemocratic presidential nominee offered a bullish assessment for the prospects of the middle class if she is in the White House — and accused Trump of peddling pessimism and misleading voters with claims that he’s “on the side of the little guy.”

Donald Trump 2016 button

Politico, Dozens of Republicans to urge RNC to cut off funds for Trump, Anna Palmer, Aug. 11, 2016. The open letter pushes the RNC to shift resources to Senate and House races. More than 70 Republicans have signed an open letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus urging him to stop spending any money to help Donald Trump win in November and shift those contributions to Senate and House races.

The letter comes as a number of Republican senators and high-profile GOP national security officials have come forward saying they cannot vote for Trump.

“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” states a draft of the letter obtained by Politico. “This should not be a difficult decision, as Donald Trump’s chances of being elected president are evaporating by the day.”

Washington Post, The Trump interview that should terrify national Republicans, annotated, Aaron Blake​, Aug. 11, 2016. During an interview with CNBC, Trump unapologetically said he's going to win or lose doing much the same thing he's doing now.

Washington Post, Trump’s ‘Obama founded ISIS’ comment exemplifies why his campaign is on the brink of doom, Philip Bump​, Aug. 11, 2016. Despite Donald Trump's repeated assertions — last night at a rally in Florida and again on this morning in an interview with CNBC — President Obama is not the founder of the Islamic State.

 

Donald Trump New York Daily News front page Aug. 11, 2016Donald Trump New York Daily News front page Aug. 11, 2016

Tax Wall Street Party, Aftermath Of Assassination Threats Shows Trump Demands To Be Above The Law, Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 11, 2016. Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump incited his followers to assassinate Hillary Clinton and unnamed justices of the U.S. Supreme Court if they should dare to violate the extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment imposed some years ago by the now deceased Antonin Scalia.

The result has been another fully justified outpouring of revulsion and loathing in regard to the fascist billionaire.

The New York Daily News and the Washington Post have called on him to drop out of contention in the presidential race. But Trump, as usual, refuses to be accountable or even to live in the real world; he is attributing the backlash against him to a carefully orchestrated media campaign, and nothing more.

Trump is a radical subjectivist who systematically denies reality, in large part because of his megalomaniac personality needs. There has never been a more dangerous candidate.

Washington Post, The $400 million payment to Iran was American diplomacy at its finest, Allen S. Weiner and Duncan Pickard, Aug. 11, 2016. Allen S. Weiner, director of the international and comparative law program, at Stanford Law School, served as the U.S. agent to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal from 1998 to 2001. Duncan Pickard is a student at Stanford Law School.

The latest victim in the presidential race’s assault on truth — to say nothing of nuance — came last week in the flurry of accusations surrounding the United States’ payment of $400 million to Iran. Donald Trump called it ransom, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) accused the United States of acting like a “drug cartel.”

Ronald ReaganIn reality, the payment represented continued adherence to a masterful feat of American diplomacy and to the peaceful resolution of disputes under international law. Ronald Reagan (shown in an official photo) understood how important it is for us to keep our promises — which is why, as president, he upheld the agreement negotiated by the Carter administration that led to the recent payment.

The payment was not a ransom but rather part of a settlement agreement that the United States reached with Iran for claims arising out of the 1979 Iranian revolution, which toppled the pro-American shah and brought the current Islamist government to power.

Before the revolution, the United States had signed hundreds of contracts with Iran, then an ally, to sell it military equipment. When the hostile Islamist regime took power, the military sales relationship collapsed. That left hundreds of millions of dollars of outstanding claims between the two countries and their citizens: claims both by U.S. companies for breached contracts and expropriated properties, and Iranian demands for the delivery or return of equipment that Iran had already paid for but not received — not to mention the issue of the 52 Americans that Iran then held hostage.

Foreign Policy, With Yemeni Casualties Rising, GOP Senator Looks to Block Big Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia, John Hudson, Aug. 11, 2016. With Yemeni Casualties Rising, GOP Senator Rand PaulLooks to Block Big Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia. Citing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Republican Senator Rand Paul (shown in an official photo) says he’s looking for ways to stop a $1.15 billion weapons deal with Riyadh that would include the sale of 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored vehicles, and other military equipment.

Paul’s pledge comes as Saudi Arabia resumed its bombardment of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa following the collapse of peace talks in Kuwait between representatives of the government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Politico, Alleged video pirate Kim Dotcom loses in U.S. appeals court, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 12, 2016. A divided federal appeals court has rejected a bid by accused video pirate Kim Dotcom to recover millions of dollars in assets ordered seized by a U.S. court at the request of American prosecutors.

A panel of the Richmond-based 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled, 2-1, that Dotcom-the swashbuckling founder of the once-highly-popular file-sharing website Megaupload-could not recover his assets because he remains a fugitive from criminal charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme that allegedly caused $500 million in damages to the motion picture industry.

Washington Post, The Washington Post to host lively, in-depth discussion with journalists behind “Trump Revealed” biography, Staff report, Aug 10, 2016. Washington Post journalists and editors convene for a timely, researched look at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thurs., Sept. 8.

Washington Post, An epic Middle East heat wave could be global warming’s hellish curtain-raiser, Hugh Naylor, Aug. 10, 2016. Record temperatures scorch countries from Morocco to Iraq, causing major disruptions.

OpEdNews, Will Jeffrey Sterling's Trumped-Up Espionage Conviction Be a Death Sentence? John Kiriakou, Aug. 11, 2016. CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is in trouble. He's not in trouble with prison authorities or with the government, at least not any new trouble. His health is failing, and prison officials are doing nothing about it. Jeffrey has collapsed twice in the past few weeks. He has a history of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, and is a candidate for a pacemaker. He has repeatedly sought medical attention in the prison's medical unit. And each time he's been brushed off.

Jeffrey's wife, Holly Sterling, has written Warden Deborah Deneham at the Federal Correctional Institution at Englewood, Colorado, asking that Jeffrey receive the medical treatment necessary. Her pleas have been ignored.

AP via U.S. News and World Report, Russia strikes IS-held city in Syria amid Aleppo fight, Zeina Karam and Philip Issa, Aug. 11, 2016. The Russian military sends long-range bombers to strike Islamic State targets in the group's de facto capital of Raqqa _ a fresh round of airstrikes that Syrian activists said killed at least 20 civilians.


RT, Un-Redacting the 28 Pages, Sean Stone of "Watching the Hawks" interviews author and WhoWhatWhy investigative founder and editor-in-chief Russ Baker on revelations regarding the 9/11 atrocity, Aug. 11, 2016 (9:54 min. video).

Russ Baker:

"There's no way around it that this is one of the most profound discoveries on one of the most profound news events of the last century or so. And it appears that the Saudi royal family, one of the U.S.'s most steadfast and most important allies, may have funded, and aided, and perhaps even planned the attacks on the United States at 9/11.....

Maybe there was more to the story because if in fact the Saudis were in fact behind this why didn't the U.S. Justice Department go after them? What we see continually is cover up by the Justice Department, by the CIA, by the FBI, by the State Department. What are they covering up?"

The Indicter, In the background of the new appeal of Assange’s lawyers in Sweden: The UN-panel verdict on arbitrary detention, Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Chairman, Swedish Doctors for Human Rights) Aug. 11, 2016. Today, the main Swedish Radio (SR) news-program “Ekot” acknowledged that Julian Asange is at the Ecuador’s Embassy in London in connection to “fear of being extradited to the US.” This was in the context of the announcement that Assange’s lawyers are pursuing a new appeal at the Stockholm Court to obtain his release, based in the verdict of the UN panel. It is the first time that this true situation about the political asylum in the embassy of Ecuador is ‘officially’ acknowledged by the Swedish media. Otherwise they have systematically implied that Julian Asssange’s staying at the embassy has been “to avoid Swedish justice.”

Aug. 10

Washington Post, From Trump’s words, a pattern: Outrage, headlines, then denial, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Sean Sullivan, Aug. 9, 2016. Donald Trump’s suggestion that “the Second Amendment people” Donald Trump button open mouthcould stop Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices they dislike appears to fall in line with comments that many voters are finding increasingly distasteful, even given his explanations. Kaine on Trump: ‘I really, frankly couldn’t believe he said it.

New York Times, Hack of Democrats’ Accounts Was Wider Than Believed, Officials Say, Eric Lichtblau and Eric Schmitt, Aug. 10, 2016. A Russian cyberattack that targeted Democratic politicians was bigger than it first appeared and breached the private email accounts of more than 100 party officials and groups, officials with knowledge of the case said Wednesday. The widening scope of the attack has prompted the F.B.I. to broaden its investigation, and agents have begun notifying a long list of Democratic officials that the Russians may have breached their personal accounts.

FBI logoThe main targets appear to have been the personal email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign officials and party operatives, along with a number of party organizations. Officials have acknowledged that the Russian hackers gained access to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is the fund-raising arm for House Democrats, and to the Democratic National Committee, including a D.N.C. voter analytics program used by Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.

But the hack now appears to have extended well beyond those groups, and organizations like the Democratic Governors’ Association may also have been affected, according to Democrats involved in the investigation. Democrats say they are bracing for the possibility that another batch of damaging or embarrassing internal material could become public before the November presidential election.

Washington Post, Emails raise questions about Clinton Foundation donors’ access at State Dept., Tom Hamburger, Aug. 10, 2016. Officials from the Clinton campaign and the foundation portray the communications as innocuous, in some cases even helpful to U.S. foreign policy goals.

Washington Post, Even under oath, Trump struggled with the truth, David A. Fahrenthold and Robert O’Harrow Jr., Aug. 10, 2016. The mogul, in a 2007 deposition, had to face up to a series of falsehoods and exaggerations. And he did. Sort of.

Donald Trump Lord of the Pigs coverThe New York Daily News, the largest circulating newspaper until recent years covering Trump's hometown, has published tough coverage about his campaign. This includes the tabloid's front page report on one of his South Carolina rallies (above) and another front page at right in 2015 announcing Trump's presidential candidacy

Donald Trump New York Daily News coverageNew York Daily News, Nearly half of all registered (and one-fifth of Republican) voters say Trump should exit presidential race: poll, Adam Edelman, Aug. 10, 2016. Nearly half of all registered voters think Donald Trump should drop out of the presidential race, a new poll released Tuesday showed, signaling that the nation is growing exhausted with the dangerous billionaire's steady spew of hatred.

A whopping 44% of all voters said the time has come for the mogul to exit the race, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll survey — which was taken before Trump suggested on Tuesday that gun-right supporters should shoot Hillary Clinton — showed.

OpEdNews, Assange Confirms: Murdered DNC staffer was Wikileaks' source, Rob Kall, Aug. 10, 2016. In July, Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down in northwest D.C. Police said his murder may have been the result of a robbery.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is saying there is more to the story. In an interview with a Dutch media outlet known as Nieuwsuur on Tuesday, Assange admitted that Rich, a staffer in the voter data department of the DNC, was Wikileak’s source within the organization. The #DNCLeak led to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and others. It also further poisoned the attitude of many Bernie Sanders supporters towards Hillary.

After Rich’s murder, Assange announced that Wikileaks was offering a $20,000 reward for anyone who could provide information leading to an arrest and conviction in Rich’s murder case. Did someone order his murder? If so, who?

Washington Post, Baltimore officials vow major police overhaul after searing federal probe, Lynh Bui and Peter Hermann, Aug. 10, 2016. A federal probe launched after the death of Freddie Gray found that a “legacy of zero tolerance enforcement” has led to illegal searches and detentions and the use of excessive force, particularly in black areas. Justice Department report: Read excerpts

Boston Globe, Former Mafia boss 'Cadillac Frank' arrested in murder, Shelley Mursphy, John R. Ellement and Martin Minucae, Aug. 10, 2016. Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, a former Mafia boss, has been arrested on a charge of murdering a witness, prosecutors said Wednesday. Court records say Salemme is charged with murder of a witness on May 10, 1993, but do not identify the victim. That date is the same that South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. Disarro was murdered in a Sharon home.

Robert F. Kennedy with Frank Mankiewicz after King Assassination in 1968Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy with aide Frank Mankiewicz after King Assassination in 1968, two months before Kennedy's assassination

Washington Post, Political violence is no joke, William Kennedy Smith and Jean Kennedy Smith, Aug. 10, 2016. William Kennedy Smith and Jean Kennedy Smith are the nephew and sister of President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, the latter of whom was assassinated on June 6, 1968.

The words of public figures matter, and they reveal something about them. Bobby Kennedy knew this. Does the GOP nominee?  On April 4, 1968, the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed, Robert Kennedy was campaigning for the presidency in Indianapolis. Bobby conveyed the news of King’s death to a shattered, mostly black audience. He took pains to remind those whose first instinct may have been toward violence that President John F. Kennedy had also been shot and killed. Bobby went on, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

That speech has crystallized into the single most enduring portrait of Bobby’s candidacy. Because it was extemporaneous, it conveyed directly, and with raw emotion, his own vulnerability, his aspirations for his country and a deep compassion for the suffering of others. Bobby concluded his remarks that night by urging those listening to return home and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Those words mattered. While there were riots in cities across the nation that night, Indianapolis did not burn.

Today, almost 50 years later, words still matter. They shape who we are as a people and who we wish to be as a nation. In the white-hot cauldron of a presidential campaign, it is still the words delivered extemporaneously, off the cuff, in the raw pressure of the moment that matter most. They say most directly what is in a candidate’s heart. So it was with a real sense of sadness and revulsion that we listened to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, as he referred to the options available to “Second Amendment people,” a remark widely, and we believe correctly, interpreted as a thinly veiled reference or “joke” about the possibility of political assassination.

Global Research, Rockefeller, Ford Foundations Behind World Social Forum (WSF). The Corporate Funding of Social Activism, Michel Chossudovsky, Aug. 10, 2016. This year the World Social Forum is being held in Montreal, regrouping committed social activists, anti-war collectives and  prominent intellectuals. Most of the participants are unaware that the WSF is funded by corporate foundations including Ford, Rockefeller, Tides, et al.  Much of this funding is channeled to the WSF organizers under the helm of the WSF International Council.

This is an issue which has been raised on numerous occasions with progressive organizations and WSF activists: you cannot effectively confront neoliberalism and the New World Order elites  and expect them to finance your activities. From the outset in 2001, the WSF has been upheld as an international umbrella representing grassroots people’s organizations, committed to reversing the tide of globalization. Its stated intent is to challenge corporate capitalism and its dominant neoliberal economic agenda.

The World Social Forum at its inaugural meeting defined itself as a counter-offensive to the World Economic Forum (WEF) of business leaders and politicians which meets annually in Davos, Switzerland. The 2001 Porto Alegre WSF was held simultaneously with that of the WEF in Davos.

While  there have been many important accomplishments of the WSF, largely as a result of the commitment of grassroots activists, the core leadership of WSF – rather than effectively confronting the New World Order elites – serves (often unwittingly) their corporate interests. In this process, cooptation has been achieved through the corporate funding of the WSF.

From the outset in 2001, the World Social Forum was funded by governments and corporate foundations, including the Ford Foundation, which has ties to US intelligence. The mechanisms of “manufacturing dissent” require a manipulative environment, a process of arm-twisting and subtle co-optation of  a small number of key individuals within “progressive organi zations”, including anti-war coalitions, environmentalists and the anti-globalization movement. Many leaders of these organizations have in a sense betrayed their grassroots. The corporations are funding dissent with a view to controlling dissent.

Aug. 9

Washington Post, Trump appears to encourage gun owners to take action if Clinton appoints anti-gun judges, Sean Sullivan and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 9, 2016. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you Donald Trump for President logocan do, folks,” Donald Trump told supporters at a rally in Wilmington, N.C. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.”

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, and MSNBC host Chris Matthews were among those responding that Trump's comment could be interpreted as an invitation for Clinton's assassination. Former Reagan and Bill Clinton White House advisor David Gergen said Trump's comment was "one of the major events of the campaign" because it was a "dog whistle" message to dehumanize his opponent in a way that could lead a mentally unstable person to try to kill her.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, disagreed and said Trump must have meant for gun-owners to vote against Clinton, not kill her.

Matthews countered Giuliani by saying Trump clearly spoke about options for Second Amendment backers after a possible Clinton election to prevent her from exercising presidential powers, not options like voting available before election.  

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Suggests Shooting Hillary Clinton, Her Supreme Court Picks, Or Both, S.V. Date, Aug. 9, 2016. Donald Trump on Tuesday warned his supporters that if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges to the Supreme Court, there is nothing anyone can do about it. But then he added that, given the Second Amendment, maybe there is. “If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said with a shrug at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”

Donald Trump“A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” the Clinton campaign responded.

What Trump was actually suggesting is not clear. However, Trump’s veterans affairs adviser found himself in hot water last month when he said that Clinton should be shot for treason over her use of a private email server.

Washington Post, The GOP must dump Trump, Joe Scarborough, Aug. 9, 2016. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, hosts the MSNBC show “Morning Joe."  The political ride will only get rockier for Trump in the coming days after he suggested that one way to keep a conservative Supreme Court after Hillary Clinton got elected would be to assassinate her or federal judges. Trump and his supporters have been scrambling wildly all day to explain away the inexplicable, but they can stop wasting their time. The GOP nominee was clearly suggesting that some of the “Second Amendment people” among his supporters could kill his Democratic opponent were she to be elected.

A bloody line has been crossed that cannot be ignored. At long last, Donald Trump has left the Republican Party few options but to act decisively and get this political train wreck off the tracks before something terrible happens.

Washington Post, U.S. is providing direct support in Libya for fight against ISIS, Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan, Aug. 9, 2016. For the first time, U.S. Special Forces are coordinating American airstrikes and Libya Flag mapproviding intelligence information to local forces battling to oust the group from a militant stronghold. 

Politico, Judge: Glenn Beck must identify sources on Boston Marathon bombing, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 9, 2016. A looming First Amendment showdown drew closer Tuesday as a federal judge ordered conservative media host Glenn Beck to identify at least two confidential sources in connection with a defamation lawsuit stemming from Beck's reporting on the Boston Marathon bombing. The suit was filed by Saudi Arabian student Abdulrahman Alharbi, who was injured at the scene of the deadly bombings. Beck continued to link the Saudi national to the attacks even after U.S. officials said publicly he'd been cleared.

U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris ruled that Beck must disclose the names of two Department of Homeland Security employees who allegedly gave a Beck produce information backing up the radio and TV host's claim that Alharbi was the "money man" behind the attack.

Donald Trump's Economic Advisors

Washington Post: Trump unveils a new economic team full of wealthy advisers (Collage by Time Magazine) ​

Tax Wall Street Party,Trump Joins House GOP Supply Side Fanatics In Detroit Speech, Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 9, 2016. Donald Trump went to Detroit to deliver what was billed as a major economic address. In reality, this unfortunate performance represented yet another step in Trump’s capitulation to the reigning supply side and trickle-down economics orthodoxy embraced by establishment reactionaries from the US Chamber of Commerce to the House Republican leadership to the gaggle of think tankers who actually wrote Trump’s text.

CNN, George P. Bush urges Republicans to back Trump, David Mark, Aug. 9, 2016. Jeb Bush is resolutely #NeverTrump but his son, George P. Bush, no longer is. George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner, is breaking with his father, a former Donald Trump Republican primary rival, to back the GOP nominee. George P. Bush's move comes after a nasty Republican primary battle in which Trump repeatedly mocked Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, as "low energy," among other insults.

Aug. 8

Washington Post, Sen. Susan Collins says she will not vote for Trump, joining growing list of Republicans, Sean Sullivan, Aug. 8, 2016. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a centrist Republican, announced Monday that Susan Collinsshe will not vote for Donald Trump, joining a growing list of GOP officials who have come out against the mogul for president. Collins writes in a Washington Post op-ed published online Monday night that three incidents led her to conclude that the GOP nominee lacks essential qualifications to be president: his mocking of a disabled reporter, his intense criticism of a U.S.-born federal judge who is Mexican American and, most recently, his attacks against the Muslim American parents of an Army captain who was killed in Iraq.

“My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics,” Collins writes. "Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities.”

The Maine senator does not say in the op-ed who she plans to vote for in November. Collins becomes the latest in a small but growing group of Republican senators who have said they will not vote for Trump. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has vocally opposed the mogul for months. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina told CNN in May that he did not intend vote for Trump or Clinton.

Washington Post, Former GOP national security officials: Trump would be ‘most reckless’ U.S. president in history, Carol Morello​, Aug. 8, 2016. A group of 50 former national security officials, all of whom have served in Republican administrations from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, have signed a letter calling Donald Trump unqualified to be Tom Ridgepresident.

The signatories state flatly that none intend to vote for Trump in November. But they say they understand the frustrations of many Americans. No former secretaries of state signed the letter.

But it was signed by Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge (the first two secretaries of homeland security, with Ridge shown at righ); Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the Robert ZoellickNational Security Agency; John Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state; Robert Zoellick, who also was a deputy secretary of state (and former head of the World Bank from 2007 to 2012 shown at left in a 2008 photo); and William H. Taft IV, a former deputy secretary of defense and ambassador to NATO.

The letter said Trump “lacks the temperament to be President,” and gave a scathing assessment of his ability to take advice, discipline himself, control his emotions and reflect before acting.

Atlantic, Trump's Shotgun Marriage of Populism and Supply-Side Economics, David A. Graham, Aug. 8, 2016. In a speech in Detroit, the Republican tries to appeal to voters beyond his white working-class base with promises of supply-side tax cuts and a child-care tax deduction. Donald Trump reads the polls closely—he’s been talking about them for the last 14 months—and he can tell they’re not good right now. “I don’t know why we’re not leading by a lot,” he lamented in Florida last week. “Maybe crowds don’t make the difference.”

It’s not just that crowds don’t say much on their own. It’s also who’s in the crowds. In particular, the Republican presidential nominee can see that while he does well among white working-class men, he’s weak in many other demographics. That’s a useful way to think about his major economics speech, which he delivered at lunchtime Monday at the Detroit Economic Club. (Weirdly enough, that’s also the site Jeb Bush chose for a major economic address last year; Emily Badger notes how the right likes to use Detroit as a backdrop and shorthand for all that they feel ails the American economy.)

Washington Post, Trump calls for cutting income-tax brackets down to three, Sean Sullivan and Jim Tankersley​, ​Aug. 8, 2016. Donald Trump on Monday proposed collapsing the federal income tax rate from Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoseven brackets down to three and called for allowing child-care expenses to be exempt from taxation in a speech allies hope will help the GOP presidential nominee turn the page on a tumultuous period some Republicans fear has severely damaged his campaign.

Trump was interrupted every few minutes by protesters for much of his address at the Detroit Economic Club. He took sharp aim at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the speech, holding up Detroit, which has been devastated by manufacturing job losses, as "the living, breathing example" of her "failed economic agenda."

Editor's Note: Trump, under pressure, read a script that contradicted in significant ways the economic plan he had used during the primary season.

Amb. Wayne Smith, Gaeton Fonzi and Cuban Gen Fabian Escalante

Former U.S. State Department Chief of Cuban Interests Section based in Havana Dr. Wayne Smith, at left in 1995, with journalist and former House investigator Gaeton Fonzi, center, and Cuban retired Gen. Fabian Escalante, former head of Cuban State Security (Fonzi Family Photo)

Mary Ferrell Foundation, And Why, By the Way, is Fidel Castro Still Alive? Gaeton Fonzi, Aug. 8, 2016. (originally written in 1996). The Inside Story of Cuban Intelligence. The General is tired and would like to relax. He has gone up against very powerful adversaries and the struggle has not been easy. Yet he has helped keep both Cuba and Fidel Castro alive and while that is no longer his direct responsibility, he finds it very difficult to put his mind at ease after almost four decades of living on the edge.

The General and I are sitting on the ocean-side terrace of the Copacabana Hotel in Havana.

If anyone has a right to be sick and tired of Castro assassination plots, it is Fabian Escalante Font, Division General of the Cuban Revolutionary Army. Escalante is the former chief of Cuba's Counter-Intelligence.

Charged with detecting and diverting the continuing fusillade of anti-Castro plots, his covert unit went mano a mano with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency at its most venomous. Later, Escalante was made head of the Cuban State Security Department, the powerful, ubiquitous Big Brother bureau known as G2. Those key posts make Escalante the one man largely responsible for keeping Fidel Castro alive for more than three decades.

Most Americans have no idea just how deep and persistent was the U.S. government's desire to kill Castro. The reason they have no idea is because the CIA, which orchestrated many of the plots and played a support role in most of them, had, until the mid-Seventies, consistently denied any involvement. Its directors even lied to Congress when they had to. And one, Allen Dulles, never mentioned the Castro plots to his fellow members on the Warren Commission. Then, under pressure of investigating Congressional intelligence committees, the Agency admitted only those attempts it made with the only those attempts it made with the help of Organized Crime figures in the early Sixties. Even today, that's still as far as the CIA has gone....

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Unpublished Gaeton Fonzi Essay, Rex Bradford, Aug. 8, 2016. Rex Bradford (shown via C-SPAN during a 2013 lecture) s director of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, the world's largest private archive of materials related to the Rex Bradfordassassination of President John F. Kennedy.  In late 1995, journalist and former House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigator Gaeton Fonzi traveled to Cuba and interviewed Fabian Escalante, the former head of Cuban CounterIntelligence. The interview was part of a planned article for Esquire magazine. Escalante talked with Fonzi for hours about his role protecting Castro, and together they toured a museum devoted to artifacts of assassination plots against the Cuban leader.

The article was never published by Esquire. But, through the generosity of Fonzi's widow Marie, the Mary Ferrell Foundation is now making it available for the first time. Also donated to the MFF are 6 cassette sides of interviews with Escalante, along with transcripts created by Gaeton Fonzi himself. Marie Fonzi wrote the following preface to the essay:

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Preface to Gaeton Fonzi's Escalante Story, Marie Fonzi, Aug. 8, 2016. In April of 1995, Gaeton received a contract from Esquire Magazine to write an article about General Fabian Escalante, former head of Cuban State Security. Expected length was 8,000 words with a due date of October 31, 1995. In July of 1996 Gaeton, after three revisions, wrote to the Esquire editor, "Here's the rewrite as per your suggestion. It comes pretty close to your suggested length also, in the 10-grand range. A few hundred more might come out if need be, but I think it reads pretty tight now. And I like it. So send the check. You're getting close to violating the hourly minimum-wage law now. I was a kid when I started this. Thanks."

Gaeton was a master at concealing his frustration with humor. And he was annoyed. In a letter to a friend dated August 1996, Gaeton complained that he was still waiting for Esquire to return his calls three weeks after that third revision. Esquire never did publish this story. It was a good story but it was a story, Gaet felt, that may have been too honest, too sympathetic to the Cuban side of the story, a story that made the CIA look like amateurs in their botched attempts to kill Castro.

Now that our Government has decided to make peace with our former enemy, I envision JFK saying, "About time." And I hear Gaet commenting on the publication of his article with the same words.

Donald Trump button open mouthWashington Post, Trump says ‘thank you’ as a crowd cheers him for a $20 million donation. Does that gift even exist?  David A. Fahrenthold​, Aug. 8, 2016. If true, the gift to St. Jude would appear to be, by far, the largest charitable donation of Trump's life. But The Post found no evidence to back up the story.

BBC, UK special forces pictured on the ground in Syria, Quentin Sommerville, Aug. 8, 2016. The BBC has obtained exclusive pictures showing for the first time British special forces operating on the ground in Syria. It is the vehicles that first stand out. The open air, Thalab long range patrol vehicles are built for harsh terrain and are favoured by special forces.

United Kingdom flagIn this case it is British special forces, seen for the first time on the ground, inside Syria, in photographs obtained by the BBC. The pictures, which date from June, follow an attack by the so-called Islamic State (IS) on the moderate rebel New Syrian Army base of Al Tanaf on the Syria-Iraq border. The British soldiers appear to be securing the base's perimeter.

SouthFront, Syrian War Report: Jihadists Break Aleppo Siege, Staff report, Aug. 8, 2016. On August 6, the Jaish al-Fatah operation room seized the Ramouseh Artillery Base and the Ramouseh Neighborhood from the pro-government forces, de-facto, breaking the Aleppo siege and setting up a siege on the government-controlled areas of western Aleppo. Pro-militant sources disseminate reports that the Syrian army has deployed up to 100 battle tanks and 400 BMP vehicles for operations in Aleppo city. Jaish al-Fatah’s manpower is estimated as 10,000 including 2,500 fighters of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (former Jabhat Al Nusra).

Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersOpEdNews, The 2016 Democratic National Convention: 'Inside-Outside' Reflections of a Bernie Sanders Delegate, Chuck Pennacchio, Aug. 8, 2016. Putting the entire DNC week into concise language is a serious challenge.

Democratic National ConventionWhat proved to be a dizzying array of visual and vocal contrasts, conflicts, and cohesion, the period of Saturday July 23rd to Friday July 29th proved both inspiring and enlightening. Inside the DNC convention itself, the TV viewer and delegate witnessed a well-choreographed stage show. However, because of selective and subjective editing, in most cases, the convention reflected one way on TV but a very different way for those present, fully engaged, and thinking analytically.

My current view of Bernie delegates and supporters (13M voters), based on voluminous anecdotal evidence, is that roughly 50% of Berners are prepared to vote for Clinton (though unclear how many will be active), 15-25% are with Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 2-3% will protest-vote for Trump, and another 22-32% are potentially in play.

Huffington Post, The Green Party Takes Itself Very Seriously, But No One Else Should, Eliot Nelson, Aug. 8, 2016. Even a participation trophy might be out of reach. Three Green Party activists walked into a McDonald’s. It sounds like the start of a bad joke ― and in a way, it was ― but three Green Party activists actually did walk into a McDonald’s on Saturday; specifically the McDonald’s in the University of Houston’s student center, where the far-left party had convened to nominate physician Jill Stein and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka as its presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Jill SteinEven when one calibrates one’s expectations ― it’s a given that the Green Party convention will more closely resemble a gathering of nursery school music teachers than hardened political operators ― what transpired was dismaying.

it rang hollow when Stein tried to tie her campaign to Bernie Sanders’ primary bid. “The Green Party has been ready for Bernie from the start,” she said, going so far to claim that the two campaigns had “merged.” Stein told reporters that she and Green Party officials had been reaching out to Sanders since the middle of last decade, though neglected to elaborate on how Sanders had rebuffed their entreaties.

But Bernie Sanders had a mostly disciplined campaign behind him, one that filled his campaign coffers and helped his proclamations, in his rich Brooklyn accent, about the mill-yuhn-aires and bill-yun-aires become household slogans. There was no such discipline on display this weekend in Houston.

Daily Beast, Fox’s Andrea Tantaros: I Was Suspended After Ailes Harassed Me, Staff report, Aug. 8, 2016. Fox News conservative commentator Andrea Tantaros, who was mysteriously suspended from the network in April, alleges that her decline at the network is a result of her repeated complaints of sexual harassment by recently deposed executive Roger Ailes.

Andrea Tantaros Fox PhotoAccording to her lawyer, Tantaros “made multiple harassment and hostile-workplace complaints,” but Fox executives allegedly never investigated. According to Tantaros, Ailes began harassing her in 2012 when he asked her to do “the twirl” during a private meeting in his office. Several months later, she alleged, he made sexual advances at her. After filing a formal workplace complaint, Tantaro’s lawyer said, the Fox star was told by an executive not to fight such a “powerful man” like Ailes. One year later, after allegedly making a few more complaints, she was pulled off the air in April 2016.

Fox’s attorneys, however, dispute such an account. They say she was suspended because she failed to include the network in vetting her 2016 book , which includes a suggestive cover image of Tantaros bound by ropes.

Wall Street on Parade, Sanders Supporters Stunned by Sudden Death of 38-Year Shawn Lucas Who Served the Lawsuit on the DNC and Wasserman Shultz, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Aug. 8, 2016. On Friday, July 1, just ahead of the long Fourth of July weekend, a happy, exuberant process server, 38-year old Shawn Lucas of One Source Process, served a lawsuit at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters and named the DNC and its then Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as defendants. It leveled the following serious charges: fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.

The suit seeks class action status and was filed in the Federal District Court in the Southern District of Florida. (Wilding et al v DNC Services Corporation and Deborah ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz; Case Number 16-cv-61511-WJZ). A video of the service of process (see embedded video below) shows Shawn Lucas saying he was “excited” and “thrilled” to be the process server on this lawsuit, later in the video equating it to his “birthday and Christmas” rolled into one. A month later, Lucas was found dead on his bathroom floor. A cause has yet to be announced.

As of this writing, we could find no mainstream newspaper or wire service that has reported on the troubling death of Shawn Lucas. The original YouTube video, however, has skyrocketed from 32,000 views to more than 350,000 views as of this morning. The flurry of angry comments below the video are suggesting there is some form of Hillary Clinton hit squad in operation.

According to the official report from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., officers Kathryn Fitzgerald and Adam Sotelo responded to a 911 call from the girlfriend of Lucas, Savannah King. The officers arrived “at 1913 hours,” or 7:13 p.m. on the evening of  Tuesday, August  2. The report states that Lucas was “laying unconscious on the bathroom floor” and that “DCFD Engine 9 responded and found no signs consistent with life.

Aug. 7

Dallas Morning News, Watchdog: Dallas woman discovers new Secret Service sex scandals through public information requests, Dave Lieber, Aug. 7, 2016 (updated version). Self-described North Dallas stay-at-home mom Malia Litman sued the U.S. government and won 3,900 pages of secret records about more bad-behavior scandals by the U.S. Secret Service, most of them involving sex.

Secret Service"A lot of people think I'm nuts to pursue this." The speaker is a self-described Dallas stay-at-home mom who spent $100,000 in legal fees to expose a culture of corruption in the U.S. Secret Service. She filed 89 Freedom of Information Acts (89!) and discovered enough Secret Service scandals and cover-ups that even Bob Woodward would be impressed.

Meet Malia Litman. A retired lawyer and wife of noted Internet entrepreneur David Litman, founder of hotels.com and now CEO of getaroom.com. When the first Secret Service sex scandals broke a few years ago, she grew curious. A former senior partner at Thompson & Knight law firm in Dallas, she knew that federal law allows us to see government documents.

She began filing requests with the U.S. Department Homeland Security to learn of any incidents of agent misbehavior in the Secret Service, any investigations and disciplinary action. I'll skip ahead to the end of her multi-year legal battle that ensued. She won. In the end, she received 3,914 pages, some of them so hot they almost burn the fingers.

Why this matters. One word here: blackmail. Misbehaving agents are put at risk, and to protect their careers they could be blackmailed, putting those they protect in an unforeseen vulnerability.

Let's end on a sour note. The federal Freedom of Information Act is supposed to work by itself. But more and more, government officials force those who request information into costly lawsuits. Although Litman's requests were delayed, stalled and in some cases, falsely denied, the federal judge in her case is forcing her to pay all legal bills.

Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings ruled that Litman "has not shown she is entitled to an award because she has not shown that her pursuit of records involves a legitimate public benefit." The judge cites as precedent another case that found "that generally increasing public knowledge about the government is not a legitimate public benefit." That's about the dumbest idea I ever heard.

Washington Post, As senator, Clinton promised to bring jobs to N.Y. Her efforts fell flat, Jerry Markon, Aug. 7, 2016. Hillary Clinton has made jobs creation a centerpiece of her presidential bid, but nearly eight years after she left the Senate, there is little evidence her economic programs had a substantial impact on employment. Unable to pass big-ticket legislation, she turned to smaller-scale projects, but a Post review shows that some of those also came up short.

Aug. 6

Politico, Rubio: No abortions for Zika-infected women, Marc Caputo, Aug. 6, 2016. Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that he doesn’t believe a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should have the right Marco Rubio officialto an abortion — even if she had reason to believe the child would be born with severe microcephaly. "I understand a lot of people disagree with my view – but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one," Rubio told Politico.

Washington Post, Trump is right: He didn’t kick a baby out of a campaign rally, Glenn Kessler, Aug. 6, 2016. Donald Trump is complaining that the media has spun a fable that he kicked a baby out of his rally in Ashburn, Va. The New York Post, for instance, headlined its article: “Trump loves crying baby, then kicks the tot out of his rally.” In reality, this is a situation when the video can lie — and Trump’s odd sense of humor can backfire. Let’s roll the tape. Trump has been unfairly maligned here. We can see why some reporters ran with this tale, based only on the videotape, but it’s good example of why everything must be checked out.

Donald Trump SonsWashington Post, The Trump sons have gone hunting again. Will more trophy photos follow?  Kerry Lauerman, Aug. 6, 2016. Donald Jr. and Eric have left the country for an undisclosed destination. Their kills on previous trips have been shared on social media.

New York Times, Military Success in Syria Gives Putin Upper Hand in U.S. Proxy War, Mark Mazzetti, Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, Aug. 6, 2016. A look inside a fight for power behind the battlefield scene in Syria. Who is winning the proxy war between Moscow and Washington?

American FlagThe Syrian military was foundering last year, with thousands of rebel fighters pushing into areas of the country long considered to be government strongholds. The rebel offensive was aided by powerful tank-destroying missiles supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia. Intelligence assessments circulated in Washington that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was losing his grip on power.

But then the Russians arrived, bludgeoning C.I.A.-backed rebel forces with an air campaign that has sent them into retreat. And now rebel commanders, clinging to besieged neighborhoods in the divided city of Aleppo, say their shipments of C.I.A.-provided antitank missiles are drying up. For the first time since Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Russian military for the past year has been in direct combat with rebel forces trained and supplied by the C.I.A. The American-supplied Afghan fighters prevailed during that Cold War conflict. But this time the outcome — thus far — has been different.

New Yorker, The Trouble with Corey Lewandowski on CNN, Margaret Talbot, Aug. 6, 2016. This week, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, offered an upbeat assessment of one of the network’s newest additions, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, whom Zucker hired as an on-air political commentator in June. “I actually think he’s done a really nice job,” Zucker said in an interview with Variety.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoThe trouble with Lewandowski is not that he came out of a campaign or that he is clearly partisan. Both cable and broadcast networks have been hiring people answering to that description for years — Democrats like Paul Begala and David Axelrod, Republicans like Nicolle Wallace and Karl Rove — with the idea that, taken en masse, their perspectives add up to a kind of nonpartisan X-ray of American politics. Lewandowski, though, is a special case.

Jersey Journal/NJ.com, Want to know who will win the presidential election in November? Agustin C. Torres, Aug. 6, 2016. I have kept tabs on the movement of former Assemblyman Louis Manzo, formerly of Jersey City and now hanging around the Jersey Shore. Manzo has a blog based on his anti-Christie book Ruthless Ambition. His latest post, made last night, is a long dissertation of how we got to this presidential contest and he predicts the winner and why. If anything, it's entertaining and fills the kooky political fanatic's needs the way discovery of a lost Harry Potter novel would.

Politico, Obama releases drone strike 'playbook,' Josh Gerstein, Aug. 6, 2016. President Barack Obama has to personally approve the killing of a U.S. citizen targeted for a lethal drone strike outside combat areas, according to a policy Obama adopted in 2013. The president also is called upon to approve drone strikes against permanent residents of the U.S. and when "there is a lack of consensus" among agency chiefs about whom to target, but in other cases he is simply "apprised" of the targeting decision, the newly-disclosed document shows. The presidential policy guidance on drone strikes, often called the drone "playbook," was disclosed in an edited form Friday night in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

When Obama approved the guidance in May 2013, the White House issued a fact sheet about the policy, but declined to release the document itself-even in a redacted form. However, a series of decisions from a federal appeals court in New York and from lower court judges have made it more difficult for the government to withhold legal and policy documents when many of the details in them have been disclosed elsewhere, such as in speeches or press releases.

Consortium News, How US Spies Secured the Hiroshima Uranium, Joe Lauria (shown in file photo), Aug. 6, 2016. Since the first use of a nuclear weapon in Hiroshima 71 years ago, on Aug. 6, 1945, the story of where the uranium Joe Lauriafor the bomb came from and the covert operation the U.S. employed to secure it has been little known. That is until the publication next week in the United States of a new book, Spies in the Congo, by British researcher Susan Williams (Public Affairs Books), which unveils for the first time the detailed story of the deep cover race between the Americans and the Nazis to get their hands on the deadliest metal on earth.

SouthFront, Terrorists Execute 3 Civilians Fleeing Combat Zone in Aleppo, Staff report, Aug. 6, 2016. Three civilians have been detained and executed by terrorists in Aleppo as they tried entering government-controlled territory along established humanitarian corridors, the Russian Defense Ministry said on August 5.

“During the past 24 hours, no a single civilian was able to leave the eastern and southern districts of Aleppo, "the ministry said. "Terrorists are obstructing the movement of people along humanitarian corridors. All approaches to these are being mined and are shelled with artillery. Three civilians who today tried to leave the Karm al-Qasr to join their relatives, who live on territory controlled by the Syrian government, were detained and executed by the militants.”

Al Jazeera, Syria opposition says rebels break siege of Aleppo, Staff report, Staff report, Aug. 6, 2016. Opposition groups says rebels end government-imposed siege by pushing into eastern parts of Syria's largest city. A major Syrian opposition body has announced that rebels have broken a government siege on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition said on Twitter on Saturday: "Rebels break Aleppo's siege." The Ahrar al-Sham rebel group also posted on Twitter that rebels had seized control of Ramosa on the southwestern edges of the city and thereby "opened the route to Aleppo." Syrian government forces encircled Aleppo on July 17 after closing off the last opposition-controlled route into the city.

The video shows pro-government forces defending the artillery base in Aleppo

SouthFront, Intense Clashes in Artillery Base in Southern Aleppo (Video, Photos), Staff report, Aug. 6, 2016. Iintense clashes have resumed in the Ramouseh Artillery Base, where the Syrian army and its allies are repelling the advance of the joint jihadi forces. The Syrian army is still in control f its northern part, called “Technical College.” The Jaish al-Fatah operation room controls about 80% of the base. Syrian TV says that large reinforcements have arrived to Ramouseh in order to assist the Syrian army there while local sources report about significant casualties among jihadists.

Aug. 5

Mint Press News, Remembering American Journalist Killed In Suspicious Car Crash In Turkey After Entering Erdogan’s Crosshairs, Mark Mondalek, Aug. 5, 2016. Shim’s message came full circle in her final interview: defending herself against allegations that she was working for the Turkish opposition -- which put her squarely in the crosshairs of Erdogan -- while further expounding on Turkey’s chilling utilization of press intimidation tactics.

Serena Shim journalist killed in TurkeyAmerican journalist and foreign correspondent Serena Shim (shown in a file photo) documented Turkey’s role in the Syrian insurgency from the conflict’s earliest days, reporting firsthand on the presence of Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known as ISIS or ISIL in the West) and other al Qaida-affiliated militant groups operating freely along the Turkey-Syria border. She knew about the weapons transfers, the non-governmental organization trucks being driven into Syria by the militants themselves.

It is a testament to Shim’s journalistic prescience that her life’s work has only grown more relevant since her untimely death in October 2014 at the age of 29. Along with the horrors of war in Syria and Iraq, her video reports and investigations likewise foreshadowed Turkey’s current political turmoil years in advance of last month’s failed military coup attempt.

Turkish media initially reported that a “heavy vehicle” triggered the collision, but the story later evolved to allege that a “concrete mixer” collided head-on with Shim’s rental car as it was exiting a highway off-ramp. Shim’s cousin — the 16-year-old driving the vehicle at the time of the crash — survived with only a broken nose. Shim, on the other hand, reportedly died of heart failure a half-hour after arriving at the hospital. (Earlier reports alleged that she had died at the scene of the collision.)

Without any official inquiry ever being issued or carried out, let alone any verifiable autopsy report, news coverage from the suppressed and increasingly government-controlled Turkish media has made up the crux of what information the family has received. Adding to the cumulative affront was a brief statement two weeks later by the U.S. State Department, which claimed that it “does not conduct investigations into deaths overseas.”

As a result, Shim’s death has been ignored almost unanimously by the mainstream media and by US officials and has instead been mostly exclusionary to the independent, alternative news sectors of the Internet. For their part, factions of the hacker collective Anonymous have been effective with their Operation Serena Shim (or OpSerenaShim) campaign to raise awareness of the family’s plight.

Democratic-Republican Campagne logosRealClearPolitics, Trump Effect in N.H. Sparks Worries for a GOP Senate, James Arkin, Aug. 5, 2016. Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s campaign strategy has been to localize her re-election effort, keeping the focus on her home state of New Hampshire in an attempt to inoculate herself from the top of the GOP ticket.

But those efforts were thrown for a loop this week when Donald Trump pointedly criticized her as “weak” on Tuesday and a new poll Thursday showed her trailing by double digits, dragged down by the Republican nominee’s unpopularity in the state.  The situation in New Hampshire has sparked some Republican panic about the effect Trump may have on the party’s majorities in Congress, particularly in tough Senate races in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Washington Post, Trump backs away from claims he saw ‘top secret’ footage of Iranian money transfer, Jose A. DelReal​, Aug. 5, 2016. Trump now acknowledges that the video showed released American Donald Trump button open mouthprisoners arriving in Switzerland, not a cash transfer from the U.S. to Iran.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday backed away from earlier claims that he had seen video showing the United States delivering $400 million to the Iranian government, which he has repeated several times in recent days. Such a video does not appear to exist. “The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

New Yorker, Why Donald Trump Can’t Stop Talking About the Pallets of Cash, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Aug. 5, 2016. The speech that Donald Trump gave on Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Florida, was not his most menacing or self-destructive, but, like many of his recent public addresses, it was confusing. When speaking about a payment that the government made to Iran in January, he claimed to have seen a video of piles of cash being unloaded from a plane in Tehran. The video was shot from the “perfect angle, nice and steady,” Trump said, warming to his story.

Donald TrumpLater, his campaign explained that Trump was speaking about footage of Americans who had been held hostage by Iran leaving a plane in Geneva, which had accompanied a Fox News report about the payment coinciding with their release. That was the part of the speech that made the news. But there were plenty of other pieces of conjecture, stories that broke off, and lines of thought that seemed to amble off into the distance. Even the most obvious political arguments tended not to reach a point. “If Hillary puts her people on the Supreme Court,” Trump told his supporters, “like, who knows?”

Trump’s most obvious problem is that he speaks for so long, usually about an hour. For months, he filled the time with boasts and grievances, the boasts having mostly to do with his success in the polls. But now there is less to boast about; the polls look uniformly bad for him. In Daytona Beach, Trump gave them about a minute and moved on. “Trump used to spend 50% of message on polls,” the Republican consultant Michael Shannon pointed out on Twitter. “Now he has to fill that space. And it’s with things like Khans, fire marshals and babies.”

Donald Trump's Economic AdvisorsCollage by Time Magazine

Washington Post, Trump unveils a new economic team full of wealthy advisers, Jim Tankersley​, Aug. 5, 2016. ​Donald Trump announced a new team of ultra-rich financiers and businessmen as his core Donald Trump for President logoeconomic advisers, bringing high-profile names to his inner circle but also possibly stepping on his populist claims to save the middle class. The team of 13 men reflects a wide range of people from the higher echelons of American finance, including hedge fund managers and real estate investors.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday announced a new team of ultra-rich financiers and businessmen as his core economic advisers, a move that brings high-profile names to his inner circle but also may step on his populist claims to save America's middle class.

The list includes strikingly few academic policy experts, usually the bread-and-butter of campaign policy teams. Instead, the advisory team of 13 men — and no women — reflects a wide range of people from the higher echelons of American finance, including hedge fund managers and real estate investors. The median net worth of Trump's official economic advisers appears to be at least several hundred million dollars.

Yahoo News, Meet Donald Trump’s Economic Advisors, Will Drabold, Aug. 5, 2016. Ahead of an economic speech Donald Trump will deliver in Detroit on Monday, the Republican nominee released a list of economic advisors that includes hedge fund managers, bank executives and a cigarette manufacturer. Some of the advisors have worked with Trump on his real estate projects. Several are investment bankers who managed tens of billions. “I am pleased that we have such a formidable group of experienced and talented individuals that will work with me to implement real solutions for the economic issues facing our country,” Trump said in a statement.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump’s Economic Team Is 38 Percent Steves, 60 Percent Free Trade Proponents, Zach Carter, Aug. 5, 2016. The team is heavy on Wall Street donors who back the very policies Trump has denounced. 

Donald Trump and Mike Pence new logoDonald Trump announced a 13-member economic advisory team on Friday and the list is … well, it’s a lot of rich guys, five of whom are named Steve. And for the most part, it’s a team of major Republican donors ― the very “establishment” that Trump so often rails against on the campaign trail and who back the policies Trump blames for destroying the country.

The biggest name on the team is hedge fund kingpin John Paulson, who has long been a top Republican donor. Paulson was a key instigator in the infamous Goldman Sachs “ABACUS” trade, in which Goldman bet against its own clients, then paid $550 million to settle fraud charges with the SEC. The agency opted against pursuing charges against Paulson, who now serves on AIG’s board of directors, which is priceless. Let’s remember that Trump trashed Hillary Clinton at a rally this week for accepting money from hedge funders, telling the crowd he didn’t want hedge fund money and if he received any, he’d send it back.

Other names on the list are part of the traditional A-list of GOP money men.

Washington Post, In endorsing Clinton, ex-CIA chief says Putin made Trump his ‘unwitting agent,’ Abby Phillip, Aug. 5, 2016. Former CIA director Michael Morell endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Michael Morell, former deputy CIA director, Andrew Kreig Photo May 18, 2015Clinton and blasted GOP rival Donald Trump, accusing him of becoming an unwitting agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin in an op-ed on Friday.

Morell (shown in a photo by the Justice Integrity Project during a lecture last year) wrote that while he is neither a registered Democrat nor a Republican and has never made his preference for president public, he chose to publicly declare his support for Clinton in this election. Morell served as deputy director of the CIA and acting director of the CIA under President Obama. He served as a senior officer at the agency during the George W. Bush administration.

New York Times, I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton, Michael J. Morell, Aug. 5, 2016. During a 33-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, I served presidents of both parties — three Republicans and three Democrats. I was at President George W. Bush’s side when we were attacked on Sept. 11; as deputy director of the agency, I was with President Obama when we killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

CIA LogoI am neither a registered Democrat nor a registered Republican. In my 40 years of voting, I have pulled the lever for candidates of both parties. As a government official, I have always been silent about my preference for president.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated. In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

David Johnston The Making of Donald Trump

Moyers & Co., The Making of Donald Trump, As Told by a Journalistic Nemesis, Kathy Kiely, Aug. 5, 2016. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston isn’t happy with the way the press has been handling Donald Trump. “The coverage has been extremely poor in my opinion,” Johnston, who at 67 clearly still enjoys making trouble, pronounced at no less a lions’ den than the National Press Club on Thursday night in Washington. So Johnston, as he is wont to do when he sees something going wrong, decided to tackle the problem himself.

His just-released book,The Making of Donald Trump, is a 288-page compendium of “basically everything Donald Trump wants to make sure you do not know,” said Johnston, who has been following the real estate mogul for decades.

The main reason he has “been extremely critical of my colleagues,” in the media Johnston said, is they’ve been too buttoned-down and professional. “They’re covering him as though he is a serious person,” Johnston said of the Republican presidential nominee. Though Johnston believes there has been some good coverage of Trump, he faulted it for being too highbrow, “not written in tabloid style.”

“Donald is a master of manipulating the conventions of journalism,” explained the veteran reporter. He proceeded to shatter many of those conventions in a book talk that was frequently punctuated with the declaration “because Donald just makes it up.” Johnston also repeatedly dubbed Trump “a modern-day P.T. Barnum.”

Inside Sources, David Cay Johnston Savages Trump’s ‘Philosophy of Revenge’ in New Book, Graham Vyse, Aug. 5, 2016. “He literally doesn’t know anything,” David Cay Johnston says of Donald Trump. The investigative reporter is at the National Press Club Thursday night, talking up his new biography of the Republican presidential nominee. And here’s a spoiler: he’s not a fan.

David Cay JohnstonJohnston (shown in a file photo) calls Trump “a con man,” says he’s “not a successful businessman,” and relays that his reporting on “everything Donald wants to make sure you don’t know” includes no evidence the real estate mogul is actually a billionaire. But the author of The Making of Donald Trump is just getting started.

Johnston rips Trump’s ignorance on business, foreign affairs and the basic principles of American government. He says the mogul “has no regard for his fellow man,” as evidenced by fraud at his Trump University, among other things. He hits him on embracing a host of unsavory characters throughout his life, including swindlers, cocaine traffickers, mob associates and, of course, friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet the biographer says the most troubling thing about Trump is his “philosophy of revenge” — a driving desire to get even or, to quote his favorite Bible passage, take “an eye for an eye,” as opposed to turning the other cheek.

New York Magazine, Trump Website Won’t Let Supporters Cancel Recurring Donations, Adam K. Raymond, Aug. 5, 2016. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have options on their websites allowing supporters to set up recurring credit-card donations to their campaigns. But unlike Clinton’s, Trump’s website has no option to cancel those donations. This little bit of trickery came to light after a disgruntled Trump supporter emailed CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond, who tweeted the message on Wednesday.

Mic writer James Dennin then dug in and confirmed what the frustrated Trump supporter above found — “there is no easy option to stop recurring donations on Trump’s donation site.” Dennin set up a $1 recurring payment and then tried to cancel it. Couldn’t do it. The only option available was switching out one credit card for another.

In the interest of fairness, Dennin also set up a recurring donation to the Clinton campaign, which provided an option to remove the linked credit card and end the donations.

OpEdNews, Media Manipulation: DNC leaks reveal NY Times, MSNBC helped sabotage Sanders, Gustav Wynn, Aug. 5, 2016. Even before the DNC Wikileaks scandal, we knew the NY Times distorted the Democratic primary with a marked disdain for Bernie Sanders. But in alarming email exchanges, the DNC claimed they were able to get NY Times reporter Nick Confessore to change an article so as to bury mention of the controversial Hillary Victory Fund, a joint effort of the DNC and the Hillary for America campaign.

The DNC prepared talking points, excuses and legal defenses to respond to claims that the HVF was bundling campaign donations to skirt legal limits (a "money laundering conduit" according to Politico. Walmart's Alice Walton and Hillary's other billionaire donors could now give 33 times the max donation, all in one convenient envelope. As George Clooney noted, the donation amounts were "obscene", but to make them legal, they were routed through the HVF to get around campaign finance law prohibiting the wealthy from giving exorbitant amounts to a single candidate.

Chicago Tribune, Police footage of the fatal shooting of Paul O'Neal, Dan Hinkel and Jeremy Gorner, Aug. 5, 2016. Police videos show officers firing at fleeing car, shot suspect being cuffed. Videos from the fatal shooting of teenager Paul O'Neal by Chicago police show officers firing down a street as O'Neal sped away from them in a reportedly stolen car and, moments later, officers handcuffing O'Neal as he lay mortally wounded behind a South Shore home.

Acting with uncharacteristic swiftness, Chicago officials on Friday made public nine videos in all. Shortly before the 11 a.m. release, the head of the Chicago police oversight agency called the video footage "shocking and disturbing" and said that her heart went out to the family of 18-year-old O'Neal. The dead teen's family was so distraught after viewing videos at the Independent Police Review Authority headquarters Friday morning that they left without making any public comment, their lawyer told reporters.

Outside of IPRA's offices at Chicago and Ashland avenues, Michael Oppenheimer, the lawyer for O'Neal's family, called the video footage "beyond horrific" and said he plans to call for a special prosecutor to look into the shooting of the unarmed teen.

Washington Post, Trump: Even legal immigrants could pose a security threat, Jenna Johnson, Aug. 5, 2016. At one point in his campaign, he said he wanted to block nearly all foreign Muslims from the U.S. Now he says even people who follow the legal process deserve skepticism: "This could be the great Trojan horse of all time."

Cool Justice Report, RFK Jr. attacks prosecutors, cops, courts for willful misconduct as he asserts cousin Skakel’s innocence, Andy Thibault, Aug. 5, 2016 (Excerpted from Litchfield County Times, CT). Michael Skakel most likely never said, “I’m going to get away with murder — I’m a Kennedy,” while held at the infamous Elan School in Maine.  Skakel’s cousin — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — demonstrates this finding beyond any reasonable doubt in his new book, Framed, Why Michael Skakel Spent Over A Decade In Prison For A Murder He Didn’t Commit.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Debunking the false quote is crucial to an understanding of various investigations into the murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley on Halloween Eve 1975 in Greenwich, Connecticut. Moxley was bludgeoned with a Skakel family golf club and found lying face down with her pants and underwear at her ankles in the seaside Belle Haven neighborhood. She was stabbed in the neck with the golf club shaft. There was no physical evidence linking Skakel to the case. Initially, he was not a suspect. Over the years, he was just one of many.

Skakel and Moxley socialized with a large group of energetic teenagers who had easy access to alcohol. Her diary reports many would-be suitors and dances and parties in some detail. The hyped Kennedy angle fueled media coverage and books which pressured law enforcement and courts to do something, anything, to close the case.

Skakel was also 15-years-old at the time. That he was ultimately tried as an adult and beyond the statute of limitations for a crime committed in 1975 is a testament to the blood lust, whimsy and tunnel vision of the Connecticut court system.

In the new book, Kennedy documents the Skakel fortune made in oil and coal, characterizing them as “carbon Republicans.” When his mother — Ethel Skakel Kennedy — gave her family prized tickets for the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, the Skakels distributed those passes to drunken street people in Washington, D.C., and did not attend themselves. The book also includes a photo of then-Governor Ronald Reagan presenting Michael Skakel’s father Rushton with an unflattering caricature of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during a right wing bonding excursion through the Santa Ynez Valley in California.

Kennedy has said the Skakels were richer than the Kennedys and neither branch had much use for the other. The “Kennedy cousin” label is crucial because this strained meme drove media coverage and law enforcement efforts for more than four decades.

Continuing in the artificial vein, the prosecution’s Hollywood quality multi-media closing argument gave jurors the impression that Skakel was in a panic the morning after the murder because he feared someone saw him commit the crime.

Middle East Eye, The sham rebrand of al-Qaeda's Nusra Front, Gareth Porter, Aug. 5, 2016. Nusra Front's apparent split from al-Qaeda is merely an attempt to keep the US away from a Russian alliance that would rain bombs on them. The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda.

The objective of the manoeuvre was to head off US-Russian military cooperation against the jihadist group, renamed last week, based at least in part on the hope that the US bureaucratic and political elite, who are lining up against a new US-Russian agreement, may block or reverse the Obama administration’s intention to target the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.

Middle East Eye, IS begins executions after capturing 3,000 Iraqi civilians: UN, Staff and wire reports, Aug. 5, 2016. UN refugee agency says IS kills at least 12 civilians after capturing thousands fleeing villages in Kirkuk.

Aug. 4

Wall Street Journal, The Week They Decided Donald Trump Was Crazy, Peggy Noonan, Aug. 4, 2016. He inflicts one wound after another on his campaign. I think this week marked a certain coming to terms with where the election is going. Politics is about trends and tendencies. The trends for Donald Trump are not good, and he tends not to change.

Peggy NoonanAll the damage done to him this week was self-inflicted. By the middle of the week the Republican National Committee was reported to be frustrated, party leaders alarmed, donors enraged. There was talk of an “intervention.”

Here is a truth of life. When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake.

Donald Trump The Art of the DealCBS News,Ghostwriter: Trump’s Book ‘Isn’t Worth Paper It’s Printed On,’ Staff report, Aug. 4, 2016. Tony Schwartz, who helped write Donald Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal, has come out against the Republican presidential nominee before. In a lengthy piece for the New Yorker last month, Schwartz (shown via his @tonyschwartz Twitter feed) is quoted saying things such as “I put lipstick on a pig” and “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent Tony Schwartz headshot co-author The Art of the Dealpossibility it will lead to the end of civilization.

Washington Post, Why facts don’t matter to Trump’s supporters, David Ignatius, Aug. 4, 2016. How did Donald Trump win the Republican nomination, despite clear evidence that he had misrepresented or falsified key issues throughout the campaign? Social scientists have some intriguing explanations for why people persist in misjudgments despite strong contrary evidence. Basically, the studies show that attempts to refute false information often backfire and lead people to hold on to their misperceptions even more strongly.

Washington Post, Swing state polls show Trump trailing Clinton by wide margins, Philip Bump, Aug. 4, 2016. The 4 most awful poll numbers for Trump this week. A Fox News survey gives Hillary Clinton her biggest post-convention lead yet. And perhaps even worse, Trump dipped back below 40 percent in overall support.

Donald Trump 2016 buttonThe surveys come hot on the heels of polls from CNN/ORC and Fox News showing that Clinton's got a wide national lead (plus-9 in CNN's, and plus-10 in Fox's). In New Hampshire, a survey from WBUR shows Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 17 points. In Pennsylvania, a Franklin & Marshall College poll has Clinton up 11 among likely voters. In Michigan, a Detroit News poll shows Clinton up 6 points in a head-to-head match-up.  

RealClearPolitics, Clinton's Post-Convention Bounce: Will It Stay or Go? Sean Trende, Aug. 4, 2016. Sean Trende is senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He is a co-author of "The 2014 Almanac of American Politics" and author of "The Lost Majority." The best way to approach this is to give the “normal” take on the state of affairs, then the “Trump-centric” take.  Which one you think is closer to reality probably depends a fair amount on your prior views of the race; my sense is that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Washington Post, Donald Trump did not actually watch an Iranian recording of that controversial money transfer, Jenna Johnson, Aug. 4, 2016. "I don't think you heard this anywhere but here," Trump said as he described the footage.

Washington Post, Donald Trump and the fitness threshold, Charles Krauthammer, Aug. 4, 2016. Donald Trump, the man who defied every political rule and prevailed to win his party’s nomination, last week took on perhaps the most sacred political rule of all: Never attack a Gold Star family. Not just because it alienates a vital constituency but because it reveals a shocking absence of elementary decency and of natural empathy for the most profound of human sorrows — parental grief.

Why did Trump do it? It wasn’t a mistake. It was a revelation. It’s that he can’t help himself. His governing rule in life is to strike back when attacked, disrespected or even slighted. To understand Trump, you have to grasp the General Theory: He judges every action, every pronouncement, every person by a single criterion — whether or not it/he is “nice” to Trump.

Politico, Gaps in Melania Trump's immigration story raise questions, Ben Schreckinger and Gabriel Debenedetti, Aug. 4, 2016. A racy photo shoot is prompting fresh scrutiny of the would-be first lady's early visits Melania Trump New York Post (July 31, 2016)to the United States. Nude photographs published this week are raising fresh questions about the accuracy of a key aspect of Melania Trump’s biography: her immigration status when she first came to the United States to work as a model.

The racy photos of the would-be first lady, published in the New York Post on Sunday and Monday, inadvertently highlight inconsistencies in the various accounts she has provided over the years. And, immigration experts say, there’s even a slim chance that any years-old misrepresentations to immigration authorities could pose legal problems for her today.

Melania Trump Twitter photoWhile Trump and her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said she came to the United States legally, her own statements suggest she first came to the country on a short-term visa that would not have authorized her to work as a model. Trump has also said she came to New York in 1996, but the nude photo shoot places her in the United States in 1995, as does a biography published in February by Slovenian journalists.

New York Post, Melania Trump: I have never lived in the US illegally, Bob Fredericks, Aug. 4, 2016. Melania Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to defend herself against charges that she may have worked in the United States illegally back in the ’90s, and her former agent backed her up.

“In recent days there has been a lot of inaccurate reporting and misinformation concerning my immigration status back in 1996. Let me set the record straight: I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period,” the Slovenian beauty and wife of GOP nominee Donald Trump wrote. “Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue. In July 2006, I proudly became a US citizen. Over the past 30 years, I have been fortunate to live, work and raise a family in this great nation and I share my husband’s love for our country.”

Melania TrumpThe statement came after the Post on Sunday and Monday exclusively published nude photos of Trump, which seemed to place her in the US in 1995 — a year before she has said she first arrived in the States: See, New York Post, Melania Trump like you’ve never seen her before, Isabel Vincent, July 30, 2016. Donald Trump thinks his wife will be a model first lady — and here’s the proof.
Decades before she was sporting designer dresses on the stage of the Republican National Convention as Mrs. Trump, Melania Knauss posed nude in a photo spread for a now-defunct French men’s magazine, The Post has learned. The leggy, Slovenian-born model — then 25 years old and known by her professional moniker Melania K. — did the steamy photo session in Manhattan in 1995, according to Alé de Basse­ville, the French photographer who shot the sexy snaps.

TheAntiMedia.org via Zero Hedge, 10 Facts The Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You About The War In Syria, Darius Shahtahmasebi, Aug. 4, 2016.  Corporate media regularly attempts to present Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria as solely responsible for the ongoing conflict in the region. The media does report on events that contradict this narrative — albeit sparingly — but taken together, these underreported details shine a new light on the conflict.

Despite the fact much of the information in this article comes from mainstream outlets, those circulating it refuse to put all of the storylines together to give the public an accurate picture of what is going on in Syria. People have the right to be properly informed before they allow themselves to be led down the road of more war in the Middle East, and consequently, more terror attacks and potential conflicts with Russia and China.

10: Bashar al-Assad has a higher approval rating than Barack Obama.

9: The “moderate” opposition has been hijacked

8: Assad never used chemical weapons on his own people

7: Toppling the Syrian regime was part of a plan adopted shortly after 9/11

6: Iran and Syria have a mutual defense agreement

5: Former Apple CEO is the son of a Syrian refugee

4: ISIS arose out of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, not the Syrian conflict

3: Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia wanted to build a pipeline through Syria, but Assad rejected it

2: Leaked phone calls show Turkey provides ISIS fighters with expensive medical care

1: Western media’s main source for the conflict is a T-shirt shop in Coventry, England. This is not a joke. If you follow the news, you most probably have heard the mainstream media quote an entity grandiosely called the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” (SOHR). This so-called “observatory” is run by one man in his home in Coventry, England — thousands of miles away from the Syrian conflict — yet is quoted by most respected Western media outlets (BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, and International Business Times, for example). His credentials include his ownership of a T-shirt shop just down the road, as well as being a notorious dissident against the current Syrian president.

John KerryMoon of Alabama, Kerry’s And Al-Qaeda’s “Very Different Track” Attack On Aleppo Fails, Anonymous, Aug. 4, 2014. In early May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (shown in a file photo) set a deadline for “voluntary” regime change in Syria.

The current attack on the government held Aleppo by al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra aka Fateh al Scam) was launched on August 1st. With up to 10,000 insurgents participating, the attack was unprecedented in size. August 1st is exactly the same date Kerry had set as starting date for "a very different track." This is likely not a random coincidence.

Despite the very large size of the "Great Battle of Aleppo" and its possibly decisive character for the war, neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post has so far reported on it.

The U.S. had long prepared for an escalation and extension of the war on Syria. In December and January, ships under U.S. control transported at least 3,000 tons of old weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria to Turkey and Jordan. These came atop of hundreds of tons of weapons from Montenegro transported via air to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. According to the renown[ed] Janes Defense military intelligence journal, these Bulgarian weapons ended up in Syria where the Syrian army confiscated some of them from al-Qaeda and U.S. supported insurgents. 

After the defeat of the third phase of their attack al-Qaeda and its allies broke off their original plan of an attack in six phases and pulled back. In Russian military doctrine, such a situation demands a counterattack with a wide-ranging, strategic pursuit of the retreating enemy. We may now see a lightning-fast operation in which reserve troops held by the Syrian government proceed westwards and northwards from Aleppo under intense air cover.

There are no current plans on the government side to capture the insurgent areas in east-Aleppo which are under government siege. These can wait and their condition deteriorate before any costly move against them follows.

SouthFront, Syrian War Report, Staff report, Aug. 4, 2016. Militant Advance Lost Momentum in Aleppo. Reports appear that over 380 Jaish al Fateh and Fatah Halab militants, including 11 commanders, have been killed in clashes with the Syrian army since the start of militant offensive in Aleppo city 5 days ago. The militants also lost 11 military vehicles, 2 operation rooms and a command centre in Saraqeb. In total, over 30 militant commanders and warlords of various jihadi factions were killed in past few days while the total militant force that participated in the clashes at Aleppo city was estimated as 9,000. A significant part of these casualties is result of the joint Russian and Syrian air strikes in the southern and western parts of Aleppo city.

The Syrian and Russian Air Forces have been carrying out massive air raids in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, including the areas of Old Aleppo, Bustan al-Qasr, Atareb, Khan Assal, Mansourah, Ma`rata, Zarbeh and Khan Touman. On August 3, a militant logistic convoy was destroyed by Russian warplanes near Atareb. Pro-militant sources claimed that this was a food convoy with civilians. However, the claims cannot be verified, and at least 1 fuel truck was at the photos.

Seymour HershAllegations and insinuations that the Syrian regime is waging chemical warfare should be taken as a warning. In August and September, 2013, the Obama administration seized on claims of a Syrian government sarin gas attack — later proven by journalist Seymour Hersh (shown in a file photo) and others to be fabricated — to bring the US to the brink of yet another full-scale war in the Middle East. Obama ultimately decided against direct US involvement after the British parliament scuttled UK entry, and amid mass popular disaffection with war and sharp divisions within the military-intelligence apparatus.

Obama’s last-minute pullback from direct US involvement has been the source of sharp recriminations in American ruling circles. Proponents of an attack, including the current Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, viewed the decision as a humiliating retreat that would embolden Russia, which maintains its only foreign naval base in Syria.

The new claims come amid a rapid erosion in the position of the US-backed Islamist rebels in Syria. Government forces, backed by Russian air power, have made consistent gains over the past year, culminating in the current siege on the rebel-held city of Aleppo. Western portions of the city are already in government hands.

In an attempt to break the siege, rebel forces led by the Al Nusra Front—recently rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of Syria)—have launched a last-ditch offensive, attacking Aleppo on its southwestern outskirts.

SouthFront, New Chemical Weapons Claims Pose Threat of U.S. Escalation of Syrian War, Staff report, Aug. 4, 2016. On Tuesday, U.S. and British media published new claims of Syrian government use of chemical weapons in the rebel-held northern city of Saraqeb, in Idlib province. The story, put forward by the anti-government Idlib Civil Defense or “White Helmets” group, alleges that 30 civilians experienced breathing troubles after chlorine gas canisters were dropped from a helicopter in a residential part of the city. No deaths were reported.

American FlagThe claim was first reported on the Idlib Civil Defence Facebook page. The group posted a YouTube video that purported to show area residents wearing oxygen masks. Saraqeb is located in the same region that saw a Russian helicopter downed a day earlier, killing all five servicemen on board. Moscow strongly denied that any chemical weapon attack had taken place. In a statement, Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov said that the Idlib Civil Defense claims were fabricated.

Meanwhile, Syrian government claims that rebel groups had killed five people in a chemical weapon attack on the government-held portion of Aleppo were virtually ignored by Western media. This deadly attack was verified by Aleppo’s health director, Mohamad Hazouri. “Five civilians were killed and eight others suffered suffocation due to a terrorist attack with shells containing poisonous gas,” he told the state-run news agency, SANA.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported yesterday that rebel shelling of government-held parts of Aleppo had killed 30 civilians since Monday, including women and children.

These facts were not reported in a lengthy Guardian article dedicated to the alleged government attack in Saraqeb. Other major US and British news sources, including BBC, Reuters, Fox and CBS, also focused their coverage on allegations of a government attack.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged that Washington is “not in a position to confirm” the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. Nonetheless, he threateningly added that if the allegations were confirmed, it would be “extremely serious.”

Middle East Eye, Syria rebels face intense bombing as they vow to break Aleppo siege, Staff reports, Aug. 4, 2016. Rebels tell MEE 'warplanes have never stopped' since they launched counter-offensive against government siege Zouhir Al Shimale.

Aug. 3

Huffington Post, Joe Scarborough: Donald Trump Repeatedly Asked Why We Couldn’t Use Nukes, Igor Bobick, Aug. 2, 2016. If this is true, it’s truly shocking. Donald Trump repeatedly asked an unnamed foreign policy expert why the U.S. couldn’t use its nuclear weapons stockpile during a national security briefing earlier this year, MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough said Wednesday.

Donald TrumpScarborough told the anecdote amid an interview with former CIA director Michael Hayden, who said he could not see himself voting for the “inconsistent” and “dangerous” GOP nominee. Asked if he was aware of anyone among his peers who was advising Trump, Hayden said “no one.”

“I’ll have to be very careful here,” Scarborough said. “Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on international level went to advise Donald Trump, and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked, at one point, if we have them, why can’t we use them? That’s one of the reasons he just doesn’t have foreign policy experts around him. Three times, in an hour briefing, why can’t we use nuclear weapons.”

Tax Wall Street Party, Just Plain Crazy, Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 3, 2016. Is Trump Approaching A Nervous Breakdown?  President Obama restated his view that Donald Trump is unfit for the office of the presidency. Obama also challenged the leaders of the Republican Party to repudiate their nominee instead of limiting themselves to denouncing Trump’s erratic statements from day-to-day. Of course, if Obama demands something, the Republicans are sure to want to disobey. So maybe this intervention by Obama may be designed to make it harder for the Republicans to dump the fascist billionaire, thus increasing the long-term damage to the moribund GOP.

.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Iranian officials, including his counterpart, Javad Zarif, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Iranian officials, including his counterpart, Javad Zarif, after the agreement was reached in Vienna in July 2015. Photo: U.S. State Department

Wall Street Journal‎, U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed, Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, Aug. 3, 2016. The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Associated Press via Washington Post, Trump off base on Clinton and Iran payment, Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper, Aug. 3, 2016. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was responsible for negotiations that led to a $400 million U.S. payment to Iran. Reacting to a Wall Street Journal story published Wednesday that described the delivery of the cash to Tehran in January, Trump accused Clinton on Twitter of having opened talks to give Iran the money.

Donald Trump button open mouthTHE FACTS: Trump is wrong about Clinton’s involvement. The $400 million payment — plus $1.3 billion in interest to be paid later — is a separate issue from the Iran nuclear deal that Clinton initiated. The process that resulted in the payout started decades before she became secretary of state.

In the late 1970s the Iranian government, under the U.S.-backed shah, paid the United States $400 million for military equipment. The equipment was never delivered because in 1979, his government was overthrown, revolutionaries took American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran were severed.

Washington Post, Was the $400 million in cash paid after the Iran prisoner deal really ransom? Carol Morello, Aug. 3, 2016. The money was earmarked to settle a decades-old claim over funds owed to Iran. Reports of $400 million paid in cash to Iran soon after four Americans were released from prison in January has breathed new life into charges that Washington paid a ransom for their freedom.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) was among those who seized on the timing and cloak-and-dagger delivery method, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, saying it proved suspicions that the Obama administration had tried to hide a payment for the four Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. GOP candidate Donald Trump called it an example of the administration’s foreign policy failures.

“Obama administration sent plane load of cash to #Iran as ransom as part of deal on hostages. Just unreal,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a long-standing critic of the Iran talks. In fact, the money was earmarked to settle a decades-old Iranian claim on the money, plus $1.3 billion in interest. The funds were deposited by Iran before the 1979 revolution to buy U.S. military equipment, and they were frozen under President Jimmy Carter after Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Iran has been trying to recover the money ever since, at one point contending that it was owed $10 billion or more with accrued interest.

Washington Post, Trump’s false claim that Clinton ‘started the talks’ to give $400 million to Iran, Glenn Kessler, Aug. 3, 2016. Trump targets Clinton as being responsible for a $400 million payment to Iran. But it's a misfire. We will leave it up to readers to decide whether the facts warrant calling this some sort of ransom payment. But Trump is completely off-base about Clinton’s involvement. Clinton stepped down as secretary of state in early 2013. The deal involving the American detainees — including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian — was announced in January this year, three years after the end of her tenure. Clinton did initiate negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program — though substantial talks with Iran did not take place until after she left.

But Clinton had nothing to do with talks on the detainees. Those occurred on a separate track, which U.S. officials said was necessary to not raise the price to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It’s worth noting that a key element in the release of the hostages in 1981 was the United States agreed to release several billion dollars in Iranian gold and bank assets that had been frozen in U.S. banks. Four Pinocchios

Daily Howler, More on Clinton's exchange with Wallace, Bob Somerby, Aug. 3, 2016. Yesterday, at New York Magazine, Jesse Singal critiqued Clinton's recent discussion with Chris Wallace of those infernal emails. We thought he did a poor job.  In fairness, so did Lauren Carroll at PolitiFact. Singal began his piece by reviewing Carroll's fact-check of Clinton's statements.

In our view, Clinton's statements to Wallace were strange, but these journalistic analyses were perhaps even stranger. Elementary facts went unmentioned. Basic questions weren't asked. Let's review what the fact-checkers said.

What's wrong with Carroll's fact-check? For starters, she seems to assume the omniscience of Comey the God. Consider the passage shown below. Quite correctly, Carroll notes that Clinton's statements to Wallace seem to contradict Comey's earlier statements. But at no point does she say how she knows Comey is right:

CARROLL (8/1/16): Take the video Wallace played on Fox News Sunday. In it, Clinton said, "I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials" (March 10, 2015); "I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time" (July 25, 2015); "I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified" (Aug. 18, 2015).

But Comey reported that, of the tens of thousands of emails investigators reviewed, 113 individual emails contained classified information, and three of them bore markings signifying their classification status. (Information can still be classified even if it does not have a label.) Eight email threads contained top-secret information, the highest level of classification, 36 contained secret information, and the remaining eight contained confidential information.

Daily Beast, The RNC Can Legally Dump Donald Trump but It Has to Act Fast, Jay Michaelson, Aug. 3, 2016. One word in the party’s rules would let it create a vacancy and fill it—like say, declaring the candidate mentally unfit. Then it gets interesting. Top party officials are reportedly exploring options on how to replace the Republican nominee should he exit the race. But suppose, on top of his Gold Star-family insulting, almost-treason encouraging, and baby expelling, Trump were to really cross some line, whatever that might be, and GOP leaders decide they can’t support him anymore. Nor do they just want to disown the Republican nominee; suppose they want him off the ballot. Could they do it?

Washington Post, Mark Cuban now thinks Donald Trump is ‘crazy,’ Staff report, Aug. 3, 2016. The Mavericks owner/reality TV star does a full 180.

Hollywood Reporter, Revealed at Madame Tussauds: Donald Trump's Actual Hand Size, Benjamin Svetkey, Aug. 3, 2016. Care to compare with The Donald? Print here and measure up against Trump's 7 1/4-inch-long right hand — just slightly less than that of the average man — which was cast in bronze at the museum's Times Square location. Find out for yourself how you measure up to Trump. Click here for a printable, life-size look at one of Trump's hands. Lincoln's ghost. Nixon's missing tapes. Carter and the killer rabbit. And now, to the long list of presidential mysteries, add the true size of Donald Trump's hands.   

It all started last spring, during the heat of the Republican primary, when Trump was taunting rival Marco Rubio by calling him "Little Marco." The Florida senator struck back at a rally. "I'll admit it, he's taller than me," he told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. "He's like 6'2", which is why I don't understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5'2". And you know what they say about men with small hands? You can't trust them." Trump responded a few days later, at the Republican debate in Detroit. "Look at those hands, are they small hands?" he said, raising them for all to see. "And [Rubio] referred to my hands — 'If they're small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you, there's no problem. I guarantee." For the first time in American history, penis size became an issue in a presidential campaign.

How do you measure up? Click here to download a printable, life-size pdf of Donald Trump's right hand. Find out who is the bigger man or woman.

Kansas City Star, Missouri voters have spoken, and the race for governor this November will be between a Republican who used to be a Democrat and a Democrat who used to be a Chris KosterRepublican, Jason Hancock, Aug. 3, 2016.  Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens emerged from a spirited primary to win the Republican nomination Tuesday night, besting businessman John Brunner, former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. He’ll face Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (shown in a file photo), who easily won the Democratic nomination.

RonaldThomasWest.com, The Coe Cult & ‘The Donald’ Election Scam, Ronald Thomas West (former CIA analyst), Aug. 3, 2016. Today we’ll have a look at what’s behind ‘The Donald’ self-destructing within, and being sabotaged by, the GOP. It is as simple as this: Hillary belongs to the Doug Coe cult, also known as ‘The Family’ or ‘The Fellowship’, sponsor of the so-called ‘National Prayer Breakfast.’

Every effort will be made by the (primarily) Republican cult membership to bring her to power. Other than it will be a relief that the organized crime (Roy Cohn)-mentored Trump will not ascend to the presidency, the other side of the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ coin-flip/con-act perpetrated on the American people is every sane person’s nightmare: President of the United States Hillary Clinton.

You could call it by the long title: "Because Jeb Bush couldn’t get traction it’s Plan B Hillary and consequently ‘The Donald’ is in process of being punk’d by a cult that controls the levers of American power."

Aug. 2

Paul RyanWashington Post, Trump refuses to back Ryan, McCain in their primaries, Philip Rucker, Aug. 2, 2016. Donald Trump’s refusal to back the House speaker — his party’s top-ranking congressional leader — two weeks after a convention designed to showcase party unity represents an extraordinary breach of political decorum. Ryan (shown in an official photo) and Sen. John McCain have endorsed Trump, but each has denounced some of his controversial comments.

Trump also said he was not supporting Sen. John McCain in his primary in Arizona, and he singled out Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a weak and disloyal leader in New Hampshire, a state whose presidential primary Trump won handily.

Trump’s refusal to back Ryan represents an extraordinary breach of political decorum and signals that the Republican Party remains divided two weeks after a national convention in Cleveland staged to showcase party unity.

Washington Post, Republican Meg Whitman endorses Clinton, calls Trump ‘authoritarian,’ Fred Barbash, Aug. 2, 2016. The CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise praised Hillary Clinton for her Meg Whitman“stable and aspirational leadership” and said she will try to raise funds for her campaign. Meg Whitman, the Silicon Valley executive and prolific Republican fundraiser (shown in a 2013 Forbes Magazine cover story), endorsed Hillary Clinton for president Wednesday night.

In a Facebook post, she said Donald Trump’s “unsteady hand would endanger our prosperity and national security. His authoritarian character could threaten much more.”

Whitman’s views on Trump are no surprise. The unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of California in 2010 compared him to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini at a June meeting in Utah of Republican donors and executives and helped bankroll an anti-Trump super PAC in the spring. She is close to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the sponsor of that meeting, where she also reportedly indicated that she would probably be supporting Clinton. Whitman lost California’s 2010 gubernatorial race to Democrat Jerry Brown, despite spending $140 million of her own money on the race.

New York Times, Mr. Trump and Spineless Republicans, Editorial Board, Aug. 2, 2016. Just when it seems that Donald Trump could not display more ignorance and bad judgment or less of a moral compass, he comes up with another ignominy or two. This weekend he denigrated the parents of a fallen American military hero and suggested that if elected he might recognize Russia’s claims to Ukraine and end sanctions.

Mr. Trump’s divisive views helped him capture the Republican presidential nomination. And even as he creates a political whirlwind with each utterance, leading members of his own party haven’t the spine to rescind their support. Sure, some have come out with strong criticisms, but none have gone far enough. Repudiation of his candidacy is the only principled response.

 

 

CNBC, Obama says Trump 'unfit' to serve, slams GOP for endorsing him, Christine Wang, Aug. 2, 2016. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called out prominent Republicans for continuing to endorse Donald Trump in his bid for the White House. "I think the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president. I said so last week and he keeps on proving it," Obama said on Tuesday during a joint press conference with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House.

Obama (shown in a White House photo from a May 19 event) said Trump is "woefully under-prepared" to be president. "He doesn't appear to have basic knowledge on critical issues in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia," Obama said. Obama said this opinion of Trump is shared by prominent Republicans.

President Obama makes point at staff meeting May 18, 2016"I think what's been interesting is the repeated denunciations of his statements by leading Republicans including the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader and prominent Republicans like John McCain," he said. "The question I think that they have to ask themselves is, if you are repeatedly having to say, in very strong terms, that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?"

At some point, Republicans should realize that Trump has gone too far and that the things he says indicates he "doesn't have the judgment, the temperament the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world," Obama said.

While Obama said he has disagreed with former Republican presidents on policy issues, he "didn't have a doubt that they could function as president." Obama explained that had he lost to Mitt Romney or McCain, he certainly "would have been disappointed," but that he would have conceded and had the confidence that they would "abide by certain norms and rules and common sense, will observe basic decency."

Washington Post, The election will be ‘rigged,’ Trump warns, David Weigel​, Aug. 2, 2016. The Republican nominee said that recent court rulings throwing out voter-ID laws were “a very unfair development” that could lead to fraud — and his loss in November. 

Donald Trump for President logoYahoo News, ‘Is Donald Trump plain crazy?’ Big-name writers now questioning GOP nominee’s sanity, Dylan Stableford, Aug. 2, 2016. Is Donald Trump insane? That’s the question being asked in recent days by prominent columnists, both liberal and conservative, about the Republican presidential nominee.

“During the primary season, as Donald Trump’s bizarre outbursts helped him crush the competition, I thought he was being crazy like a fox,” Eugene Robinson wrote in an op-ed (“Is Donald Trump just plain crazy?”) published Tuesday in the Washington Post.

“One wonders if Republican leaders have begun to realize that they may have hitched their fate and the fate of their party to a man with a disordered personality,” Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote in a separate Washington Post editorial on Monday. “We can leave it to the professionals to determine exactly what to call it. Suffice to say that Donald Trump’s response to the assorted speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational.”

Fiscal Times via Yahoo News, Here’s What Happens If Trump Decides to Quit, Ciro Scotti, Aug. 2, 2016. What would happen if Trump packed it in and went back to his tower on Fifth Avenue to plot his next reality TV show and tweet venom into the long night of his discontent?

Donald Trump 2016 buttonAccording to Rule 9 – Filling Vacancies in Nominations” -- of the Rules of the Party on the GOP website:

“(a) The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States…as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

The GOP could convene another convention (unlikely), or it could ask state delegates to vote again. There has been a debate within the party about whether delegates can be “bound” to a candidate, but Rule 16 says they are. What’s unclear is whether delegates choosing a Trump replacement would be bound to any of the primary candidates. It is also unclear how a replacement would be nominated. But if Trump pulled the plug on his candidacy, it’s a sure bet there would be a rush to make House Speaker Paul Ryan the new GOP nominee

Daily Beast, Meet Freidrich — Pimp, Profiteer and Patriarch of the Trump Line, David Cay Johnston, Aug. 2, 2016. Pulitzer-winner and finance expert David Cay Johnston is author of the book published today "The Making of Donald Trump." Exploiting the poor, draft-dodging and busty blondes turn out to be family traditions. The David Johnston The Making of Donald TrumpTrump family’s deep roots in Germany stretch back to the war-ravaged seventeenth century, when the family name was Drumpf. In 1648, they simplified the name to one that would prove to be a powerful brand for their latter-day descendants.

Looking back from the twenty-first century, it turns out to have been an interesting choice. Donald no doubt enjoys the bridge player’s definition of trump: a winning play by a card that outranks all others. But other definitions include “a thing of small value, a trifle” and “to deceive or cheat” as well as “to blow or sound a trumpet.” As a verb, trump means “to devise in an unscrupulous way” and “to forge, fabricate or invent,” as in “trumped-up” charges.

Washington Post, Donald and Eric Trump opine on sexual harassment and draw fire, Katie Zezima and Philip Rucker​, Aug. 2, 2016. Donald Trump said Tuesday that women who are sexually harassed in the workplace can take action within their company, leave their employer while still seeking retribution, or quit. “I think it’s got to be up to the individual,” Trump said in an interview. “It also depends on what’s available. There may be a better alternative; then there may not. If there’s not a better alternative, then you stay. But it could be there’s a better alternative where you’re taken care of better.”

The Republican presidential nominee’s comments came after he drew criticism late Monday for an interview with USA Today in which he said that if his daughter Ivanka were sexually harassed it would be up to her to find a new situation. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” Trump said.

Trump says dealing with it is ‘up to the individual, The candidate said women who are harassed in the workplace can take action within their company, leave their employer while seeking retribution, or quit. He had said Monday that if it happened to his daughter, “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”

Trump’s son Eric followed that by saying Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” that “Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, subjected to it.”

Democratic-Republican Campagne logos538.com, 2016 Presidential Election Map, Nate Silver, Aug. 2, 2016. This is a variable election map nationwide based on the latest polling and predictions by forecaster Nate Silver, who correctly predicted presidential results in all 50 states in 2012. 

Melania Trump Twitter photoTax Wall Street Party, Where Is Melania Trump? – Rumors Swirl In Manhattan That Ms. Trump Is Having An Apoplectic Fit After Plagiarism Incident At GOP Convention, Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 2, 2016.

•    Ms. Trump (shown in her Twitter photo) Reportedly Obsessed By Fear Of Salacious Revelations By Wealthy Clients From Her Time As A High-End Escort;
•    Attacks By Fellow Billionaires Like Buffet, Cuban, And Bloomberg Sap Donald Trump’s Confidence

Where is Melania Trump? This question is being asked in elite parties at the roped-off clubs in Manhattan’s meatpacking district and other haunts of the Gotham financier class.  It is widely known among the jet set crowd that Melania never wanted Donald to run for president. It is also widely known that Melania was not a working model but rather a high-end escort.

Washington Post, Donald Trump now has a policy on crying babies, Peter W. Stevenson, Aug. 2, 2016. One of the rarest sights on the presidential campaign trail is a genuine, tender connection between a candidate and a voter. And for the briefest of moments on Tuesday, it looked like there might be a humanizing exchange between Donald Trump and a mother and child at his rally in Ashburn, Va. Trump was discussing his relationship with China and Chinese businesses, when a baby in the audience let out an audible cry.

"Don't worry about that baby, I love babies!" he interjected. "I hear that baby crying, I like it! What a baby. What a beautiful baby. Don't worry, don't worry. The mom's running around, like ... don't worry about it, you know? It's young and beautiful and healthy, and that's what we want."

"Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here," Trump said. "I think she really believed me, that I love having a baby crying while I'm speaking!"

Washington Post, DNC chief executive resigns in wake of email breach, Abby Phillip and Katie Zezima​, Aug. 2, 2016. Amy Dacey is the second senior official to step down, following the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair. Chief executive Amy Dacey, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Communications Director Luis Miranda will leave the DNC just days after a new leader took the helm. A trove of nearly 20,000 emails were posted on WikiLeaks last month. They included some emails that raised questions about the faith of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), and others that seemed to disparage donors.

Legal Schnauzer, Don Siegelman: Conservatives now pushing for a lottery in Alabama railed against a similar proposal 17 years ago, saying it was immoral, sinful, and wicked, Roger Shuler, Aug. 2, 2016. How absurd is it that a "Christian," Republican governor is proposing a lottery to help deal with Alabama's budget crisis? Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat, probably would say the current plan from Gov. Robert Bentley goes beyond "absurd" to "perverse."

Don Siegelman in prison Bentley's plan is to use a lottery to shore up the state's hemorrhaging general-fund budget, pummeled by Medicaid costs. That makes it starkly different from the education lottery Siegelman proposed in the late 1990s. That lottery failed at the polls, largely because "conservatives" like Bentley were against it.

The irony of that is not lost on Siegelman, who released a statement yesterday about the new lottery plan -- from a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, where he still resides because of perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history. In fact, the ugly politics behind the "bribery" charges against Siegelman (shown in a CBS photo in prison) and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy largely grew from Siegelman's efforts to establish an education lottery in Alabama.

Politico, Court: Super PAC can use candidates' names, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 2, 2016. A federal appeals court has blocked a rule banning so-called super PACs from naming their groups after candidates for office. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Federal Election Commission appeared to have violated the First Amendment by prohibiting most uses of candidates in an unauthorized committee's name, as well as in the names of "projects" such groups use to raise funds.

The decision appears to break down another of the rather flimsy barriers between candidates and ostensibly unconnected super PACs supporting those candidates but raising donations in unlimited amounts. Candidates are already permitted to appear at fundraising events for those PACs, as long as they don't personally solicit donations in excess of federal limits. 

The three-judge panel assigned to the case was unusually conservative in its make-up. All three judges are GOP appointees. Griffith and Kavanaugh were appointed by President George W. Bush. Randolph was appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

SouthFront, Over 800 Terrorists Killed by Syrian Army & Russian Bombers in Aleppo, Staff report, Aug. 2, 2016. The Syrian armed forces, backed up by Russian strikers, repelled a terrorist offensive near the city of Aleppo, killing over 800 terrorists and destroying 14 battle tanks. Over 800 terrorists were killed and 14 battle tanks were destroyed by the Syrian armed forces, backed up by Russian strikers, during the repelling of a terrorist offensive near the city of Aleppo, the Russian Ministry of Defense has reported.

“The Syrian army troops and Russian air force repelled a massive militant attack today. More than 800 militants were killed, and 14 tanks, 10 infantry fighting vehicles, and more than 60 technical vehicles with mounted weapons were destroyed,” the Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said on Monday. Rudskoy noted that terrorists continued to prevent the local population’s escape from the combat zone in an effort to use them as human shield, and pull reserves from other areas in an effort to undermine the government troops’ resolve.

Aug. 1

Hillary Clinton and Tim KaineCBS News, Did Clinton get a post-convention bump? Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto, Aug. 1, 2016. Hillary Clinton has received a bump in support after the Democratic convention and has now pulled ahead of Donald Trump. Forty-six percent of voters nationwide say they'll vote for Clinton in November, while 39 percent say they'll back Trump. The race was tied last week after the Republican convention. Clinton (shown with running mate Tim Kaine) led by a similar margin in June.

Washington Post, What we know about Donald Trump and his taxes so far, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Aug. 1, 2016. Trump paid zero taxes in at least five years in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. We have officially Donald Trump 2016 buttonentered the general election campaign, with both major parties’ conventions behind us. For the past four decades, every major-party presidential candidate has released tax returns — and most of them had done so by the time they were officially nominated at the conventions.

That is not the case this year. Donald Trump has consistently refused to release his returns, and there’s no indication he will do so before the election. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has released three decades’ worth of tax returns. Only Jeb Bush had released more tax returns than Clinton out of all the candidates who sought their parties’ presidential nomination this year.

Warren Buffett with President Obama

Warren Buffett is shown in a White House photo with President Obama

New York Times, Warren Buffett Is Latest Billionaire to Excoriate Donald Trump, Trip Gabriel, Aug. 1, 2016. The investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett unleashed a withering attack on Donald J. Trump on Monday for refusing to release his tax returns, asserting he had something to hide, and for misleading voters about his success as a businessman and ability to improve the American economy.

Mr. Buffett, known to investors as the Sage of Omaha, said a monkey throwing darts at the stock pages in 1995, when Mr. Trump first offered stock in his Atlantic City hotels, would have come out far ahead of anyone who listened to Mr. Trump’s “siren song” and invested in his company that lost money year over year.

The attack from perhaps the nation’s most revered investor undercut a core argument of Mr. Trump’s presidential candidacy: that his success as a businessman qualified him to run the country despite his lack of political experience. Mr. Buffett appeared at a rally with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in his hometown, Omaha. Taking on Mr. Trump, he pledged to personally transport 10 Nebraskans to the polls on Election Day on behalf of Mrs. Clinton and urged others to do the same.

Democratic-Republican Campagne logosRealClearPolitics, Trump: "We Are Going To Punch Through The Media," Ian Schwartz, Aug. 1, 2016. Donald Trump hits the media, particularly CNN, 'the Clinton News Network,' at a campaign rally in Harrisburg, Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainPenn. Monday night. "We have a media that is so dishonest," Trump said. "These are among the most dishonest people you will ever, ever meet." "We are going to punch through the media," he said. "We have to."

RealClearPolitics, Trump: Bernie Sanders Made a Deal With the Devil; Hillary Clinton Is "the Devil," Ian Schwartz, Aug. 1, 2016. "If he had not done anything, go home, go to sleep, relax, he would have been a hero, but he made a deal with the devil," Trump said of Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "She's the devil," the Republican nominee said. "He made a deal with the devil."

Donald Trump button open mouthWashington Post, Is Donald Trump just plain crazy? Eugene Robinson, Aug. 1, 2016. His bullying and lying have become so shameless as to disqualify him for the presidency. During the primary season, as Donald Trump’s bizarre outbursts helped him crush the competition, I thought he was being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy.

Washington Post, The facts behind Donald Trump’s many falsehoods, Dana Milbank, Aug. 1, 2016. Candidate seems to be able to convince himself that whatever he’s saying is true — or at least should be.

Washington Post, There is something very wrong with Donald Trump, Robert Kagan, Aug. 1, 2016. Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post. One Michael Bloombergwonders if Republican leaders have begun to realize that they may have hitched their fate and the fate of their party to a man with a disordered personality. We can leave it to the professionals to determine exactly what to call it. Suffice to say that Donald Trump’s response to the assorted speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational. See: Politico, Trump: ‘Little’ Bloomberg ‘never had the guts to run for president,’ Nolan D. McCaskill, July 29, 2016. Donald Trump blasted former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday, calling his fellow billionaire businessman a “little” man “who never had the guts to run for president.” Bloomberg urged independents to back Hillary Clinton — “a sane, competent person” — in his address to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.

Politico, Get Ready for Obama’s ‘October Surprise’ in Iraq, Mark Perry, Aug. 1, 2016. If Iraqi and Kurdish troops — with stepped-up U.S. support—retake Mosul as planned, it could be a big boost for Hillary. The American public could be treated to a major U.S.-led military victory in Iraq this fall, just as voters are deciding who will be the nation’s next president—but U.S. military officials insist the timing of the operation has nothing to do with politics. Iraqi and Kurdish military and paramilitary units are preparing for a push on Mosul, the Islamic State-held city that is now in the cross hairs of the U.S.-led coalition battling the terrorist group across the Middle East. “The idea is to isolate Mosul, cut it off, kill it,” a senior U.S. Central Command officer told me.

Libya Flag mapWashington Post, U.S. launches airstrikes on Islamic State stronghold in Libya, Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan​, Aug. 1, 2016. The Pentagon-conducted airstrikes in Sirte are the the first direct U.S. involvement in the fierce battle unfolding in the city and a significant expansion of the American campaign against the group. A Libyan flag is superimposed on a map of the northern African nation at left.

Washington Post, John McCain, VFW condemn Trump over attacks on Khan family, Sean Sullivan, Aug. 1, 2016. Donald Trump drew direct criticism from Sen. John McCain and the Veterans of Foreign Wars on John McCainMonday for upbraiding the Muslim American parents of an Army officer killed in Iraq in 2004. But the GOP presidential nominee refused to back down from his attacks, and a former aide argued that the soldier would still be alive had Trump been president at the time. The condemnations by McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a Vietnam veteran who was held captive; and the VFW, a well-known national group with a membership of 1.7 million, served as the most forceful rebuke yet by the military community to Trump’s comments.

RealClearPolitics, Kurtz: Mother of Benghazi Victim Ignored While Parents of Slain Muslim Soldier Made Headlines, Ian Schwartz, Aug. 1, 2016.  Media analyst Howard Kurtz on press coverage of Patricia Smith, mother of Sean Smith, and the Khan family, parents of Captain Khan. Kurtz: Two parents, both touched by tragedy, gave impassioned speeches on big stages. Khizer Khan, a Muslim father whose soldier son was killed in Iraq denounced Donald Trump at the Democratic Convention.

Khiz Khan and wife Ghazala Khan at Democratic National Convention

Khiz Khan and wife Ghazala Khan, parents of deceased combat veteran, at 2016 Democratic National Convention

Huffington Post, Khizr Khan Smeared As A Terrorist For Speaking Out Against Donald Trump, Amanda Terkel, Aug. 1, 2016. The man whose son sacrificed his life serving the U.S. military is facing accusations that he’s tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. The most blatant example of these baseless allegations came Sunday from Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant: "Mr. Khan more than an aggrieved father of a Muslim son- he’s Muslim Brotherhood agent helping Hillary."

Sandy Rios, the director of government affairs at the American Family Association, also questioned why Khan has not denounced the Muslim Brotherhood on her radio show Friday. “From my perspective, it is the responsibility of Mr. Khan to distinguish himself from Islamists, from the Muslim Brotherhood, whose treatise is to destroy us from within,” Rios said. “If he is a patriotic, loyal, American Muslim, then we want to hear that, that’s great, and we grieve with them over the death of their son. But do not disparage Americans or Donald Trump for having concerns about Muslims in our midst.”

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad

Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad (file photo)

BBC, Syria war: Russian helicopter shot down, killing five on board, Frank Gardner and Sebastian Usher, Aug. 1, 2016. A Russian military helicopter has been shot down in Syria killing all five on board — the deadliest single incident for Russia's military since its air campaign began last September. The Mi-8 transporter was brought down by rebels, Russia says, in northern Idlib province. It was returning from delivering humanitarian aid to the besieged city of Aleppo, the defence ministry said. It is not clear which group brought the helicopter down.

Russian FlagThis is the worst single loss of life for Russia since it launched its air offensive in Syria in support of President Assad towards the end of last year. Moscow says the helicopter was not involved in a military mission, but was delivering humanitarian aid. Rebel sources appear to confirm this. It may not have been known to those who shot the helicopter down, as most of Russia's airpower in Syria has been used for military purposes to support pro-government forces.

But it will further inflame feelings in Russia against rebels in Syria. Moscow has repeatedly said it sees little distinction between the rebels in terms of brutality and extremism. The graphic images of victims posted online of the aftermath of the incident will add fuel to the fire. Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is supporting pro-government forces with air strikes on rebels.

Melania Trump New York Post (July 31, 2016)Washington Post, New York Post published fully nude photo of potential first lady on cover, sparking outrage — but not from Trump, Travis M. Andrews, Aug. 1, 2016. Sunday’s New York Post features a photo of Melania Trump, completely nude, with stars over her nipples. Her hands rest between her bare legs. Its screaming, all-caps headline reads, “The Ogle Office.” A line at the bottom of the page reads, “You’ve never seen a potential First Lady like this!”

Melania Trump Twitter photoThe only thing more shocking than the Post’s cover might be what appears in its late edition: a photo of a nude Melania, being held suggestively by another naked woman, who is nuzzling the potential first lady’s neck. Black strips are drawn over their nipples.

Adding to the oddity of the cover is the fact that the New York Post endorsed Donald Trump in April. (Then again, maybe it’s not that surprising. The editorial announcing his endorsement stated, “His political incorrectness is one of his great attractions — it proves he’s not one of ‘them.'”) The photos were originally taken for and published in a 1996 edition of Max magazine, a defunct French magazine. Accompanying their republication in the New York Post is an interview with Alé de Basse­ville, the photographer who took the photos.

Politico, Get Ready for Obama’s ‘October Surprise’ in Iraq, Mark Perry, Aug. 1, 2016. If Iraqi and Kurdish troops — with stepped-up U.S. support—retake Mosul as planned, it could be a big boost for Hillary. The American public could be treated to a major U.S.-led military victory in Iraq this fall, just as voters are deciding who will be the nation’s next president—but U.S. military officials insist the timing of the operation has nothing to do with politics. Iraqi and Kurdish military and paramilitary units are preparing for a push on Mosul, the Islamic State-held city that is now in the cross hairs of the U.S.-led coalition battling the terrorist group across the Middle East. “The idea is to isolate Mosul, cut it off, kill it,” a senior U.S. Central Command officer told me.

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