October 2016 News Reports

 

  FBI Logo

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

Oct. 31 Sean Stone, Tyrel Ventura, Tabetha Wallace

"Watching the Hawks" co-host Sean Stone, shown at right above, interviewed Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig about current relevance of Kreig's book "Presidential Puppetry" regarding Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on a taped edition of the show cablecast Oct. 31, 2016. In the segment, Kreig made the "strong" circumstantial case that both candidates were compromised if not controlled by powerful and secretive financial interests, with the CIA playing a role in the Clinton family ascendancy and the mob in Trump's. In the photo above with Stone are his co-hosts Tabetha Wallace and Tyrel Ventura. The 12-minute RT interview segment can be seen on reruns and via YouTube.

Interview Part I; Interview Part II

Presidential Puppetry by Andrew Kreig

 

Washington Post, Democrats demand swift answers after news of a renewed FBI inquiry, Anne Gearan, Jenna Johnson and John Wagner, Oct. 31, 2016.​ Senators have asked for an answer by the end of the day about what FBI Director James Comey is looking for and why — after ending the email investigation without charges in July — he chose to renew it less than two weeks before Election Day.

James Comey FBI file photo

FBI Director James Comey (FBI photo)

OpEdNews, What is Comey Up To? Who is he working for? Michael Collins (shown at right), Oct. 31, 2016. The 1939 Hatch Act bars Federal employees from a broad range of political activities. Richard Painter, a former lawyer in the Bush White House Counsel's office, filed a formal complaint against FBI Director Comey for violating that act.

If Comey acted on his own without any outside inducements or threats, we should all pause and say a short prayer for Michael Collinshim. In that scenario, he is an utter fool, playing in a league way above his skill set, and doing great and memorable damage to the political process.

But, Comey is no fool. I wrote favorably about his willingness to stand up to the Bush White House in 2007, Comey's Evidence of a Crime. Then, he seemed to have a quality not often seen in government or corporate environments — la willingness to "stand up to the boss." That may have been true at the time.

Today, however, Comey seems unable to decide who his boss is. He clearly caved in to the administration and the Clinton interests when he failed to indict Hillary Clinton for even a misdemeanor for her many violations of national security policies. Now, he's caving into the interests of the Republicans and the repellent Trump campaign.

The key question is who got to Comey and how?

We know that both Clinton and Trump are unfit for the presidency or any other elected or appointed office in the United States. However, we need to know who has the type of power and force to make the FBI Director behave like a fool.

Slate via Yale Law School, Comey Is a Constitutional Lightweight, and Donald Trump Remains the Only Scandal Worth Talking About, Prof. Akhil Reed Amar (Constitutional law scholar at Yale Law School), Oct. 30, 2016. Together they’re trashing not just Hillary Clinton but the rule of law.

With their usual double standards, false equivalences, and misdirected hype and hyperventilation, most pundits and politicos have missed the constitutional scandal staring us in the face this weekend. The real news is that one of the two people within realistic reach of supreme power has shown—once again and with fresh smoking-gun evidence—profound contempt for the rule of law and gross unfitness for America’s highest position of honor and trust. That person is not Hillary Clinton but Donald Trump. The only principal here who seems more disastrously unaware of the constitutional issues in question is the man who set this latest tarantella in motion, FBI Director James Comey.

The real news about Clinton is that there is no news. We know nothing new; all we have is speculation about what might or might not be in the emails found on a computer that was never in Clinton’s possession. Simply because Comey has made an enigmatic statement, the press now has license to spin more breathless commentary, with no new facts. True, we now perhaps know a bit more about what we don’t know. But for any serious journalist or would-be voter, the real story today and every day should be that we still know almost nothing about Trump’s tax returns — even though detailed tax information has always been made available by presidential candidates in the modern era and is especially important in Trump’s case given that his main claim to competence is his business acumen.

Now is not the right time for President Obama to sanction or sack Comey — there is still much that we do not know about what Comey did and why, and presidents should not rush to judgment. But Comey is removable at will by the president, and not merely because a 1976 statute allows removal. The more basic point is that the Constitution requires that the president be in charge of his own branch, and the FBI is ultimately part of the executive branch. This is a core constitutional principle, brilliantly expounded by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in his most celebrated judicial opinion, in the 1988 case Morrison v. Olson.

Clinton may never become president, and if she falls short, the constitutional cluelessness and moral fecklessness of the many journalists and pundits this weekend will be part of the story told, with chagrin, by future historians. Over the past few days, Trump, once again, has outrageously gotten a pass — actually, a good grade — from various commentators, who have thus far failed to call out fresh smears that betoken tyranny and the breakdown of the rule of law.

Washington Post, CNN drops Donna Brazile over WikiLeaks revelations, Paul Farhi​, Oct. 31, 2016. The network cut ties with the DNC chair and commentator after hacked emails revealed she sent debate questions to the Clinton campaign.

Donald Trump for President logoWashington Post, Trump is refusing to pay his campaign pollster $767,000, Matea Gold, Oct. 31, 2016. The Republican candidate appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by veteran GOP strategist Tony Fabrizio, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Peter Thiel Noel St. John Oct. 31, 2016

National Press Club, Silicon Valley's Peter Thiel defends funding lawsuit against Gawker, support of Trump, Angela Greiling Keane, Oct. 31, 2016. Venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel told a packed National Press Club audience Oct. 31 that his only regret about funding a lawsuit against Gawker Media is that he wasn’t more transparent about being the person with the deep pockets financing the suit.

Thiel's comments about the highly publicized suit, which led to the website's bankruptcy, came at a Speakers newsmaker event where he also defended his controversial support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

That position has garnered criticism from Thiel’s Silicon Valley counterparts. Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal (and shown in a Noel St. John photo), characterized Trump as a candidate of change whom he supports even as he criticized the nominee’s comments on women. He said the timing of his announcement of his contributions to support Trump’s campaign was coincidental to the fact that it came just days after a raw tape of Trump talking graphically about women was released.

"Voters are tired of being lied to," said said. "It was both insane and somehow inevitable that D.C. insiders expected this election to be a rerun between the two political dynasties who led us through the two most gigantic financial bubbles of our time." Thiel’s appearance at the Club was the first time he’s spoken at length and taken questions about his donations to support the Trump campaign. He spoke in July at the Republican National Convention to endorse the candidate. See also advance story: National Press Club, Newsmaker: Silicon Valley Trump Supporter Peter Thiel.

Washington Post, Peter Thiel’s Palantir scores a win in fight for lucrative Army contract, Christian Davenport, Oct. 31, 2016. A federal judge issued an injunction ordering the Army to consider commercial offers such as Palantir’s. Palantir Technologies, the Silicon Valley software firm, has won an audacious federal case that could allow it to further break into the Pentagon’s rigid procurement process by competing for a lucrative Army contract, the firm said Monday. Earlier this year, Palantir sued the Pentagon, the agency that it is courting as a potential customer, because it said it was blocked from bidding on a program designed to gather all sorts of information — battlefield terrain, weather, enemy locations — and process it for soldiers on the ground. The contract at issue was worth $206 million, but the program could lead to more lucrative work.

Palantir has cast the suit as an effort not just to win a government contract but to help transform the way the Pentagon does business with the commercial sector. The lawsuit is another attempt to force a culture change at the Pentagon, traditionally resistant to outsiders, and bridge the divide between it and the start-ups that have transformed so much of the nation’s economy.

The effort is a top priority for Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who has named Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet, and Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, to the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Advisory Board. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Palantir alleged that the Army has spent $6 billion on its data processing system with little to show for it. Its system could work for the Army, it argued. But the Army has not allowed it to compete for the contract, displaying “a profound ignorance of advances in commercial technology,” the lawsuit said.

Co-founded by Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder, Palantir has had some success selling its system to federal agencies, including the Marine Corps, the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, it said in the lawsuit. The company also received $2 million from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s investment arm.

Oct. 31, 2016. Billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel has rocked Silicon Valley with his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. Thiel will discuss that political endorsement and the 2016 election at a National Press Club speakers newsmaker event on Monday Oct. 31. Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and Palantir Technologies Inc., endorsed Trump at the Republican National Convention in July and pledged a $1.25 million campaign donation in support of the candidate.

Common Dreams via The Indicter, Controversy over WikiLeaks Podesta Emails Opens a Debate for Future Journalism, Dr. Nozomi Hayase, member of The Indicter Editorial Board, Oct. 31, 2016. In its 10th years of existence, WikiLeaks has been at the center of controversy. Ever since its global debut with the 2010 Apache helicopter gun-sight video depicting the killing of civilians in Baghdad, the whistleblowing site has consistently exposed the naked power of empire for the world to see. As a result, the organization has been subject to relentless retaliation.

The IndicterNow, by means of email leaks, they began informing U.S. voters of the real working of Corporate America’s tradition of lesser-evil politics. After the DNC email leaks that led to the resignation of top DNC officials, WikiLeaks has intensified its activity. Since October 7, they began publishing emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. The archive contained transcripts of Clinton’s paid Goldman Sachs speeches that show her two faces and total disconnect from the middle class. It also revealed her private remarks dismissing climate activists. As usual, the leaks have been condemned by the status quo and Clinton loyalists. This time, a narrative that ‘Vladimir Putin was meddling in the election’ was used to discredit their publication, with the mainstream media creating an echo chamber of McCarthy-era style hysteria.

Over the years, as WikiLeaks grew, incorporating their evolving strategies, criticism against the organization has also changed. Back in the day, WikiLeaks was slandered with Pentagon official’s rhetoric of “blood on their hands”, and was depicted as reckless hackers putting innocents in danger.

Now, while the beam of transparency is focused on U.S. rigged contest for power, WikiLeaks is once again in the eye of media storms. Some criticize what they perceive as a politically driven information dump and question whether WikiLeaks has gone too far. This new sensation around WikiLeaks is now opening up a debate for all to examine the role of journalism and at the same time gives us an opportunity to understand how the organization’s efforts to open governments is changing the media landscape.

Criticism toward WikiLeaks latest publication also emerged from those who share similar values. The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who once described WikiLeaks as fearless journalism that they “run towards the risks everyone else runs away from,” weighed in after release of the DNC emails this summer: "Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped. But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake," Edward Snowden (@Snowden) July 28, 2016.

Now, renowned author and journalist Naomi Klein joined in this critique. In a recent interview with Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept (funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar), Klein expressed her view that the publication of the Podesta emails is not in the same category as the Pentagon papers and previous publications by WikiLeaks, such as chapters on the TPP trade agreements. Despite her acknowledging valuable and newsworthy stories in this material, she noted how indiscriminate publication of someone’s personal exchanges bring grave threat to privacy.

The crux of the criticism revolves around different views on redaction, which has been debated in past years between Assange and Greenwald, who has been an advocate for WikiLeaks. Has WikiLeaks gone too far? Perhaps the real question that should be asked is how far can the rest of media organizations go to keep up with this world’s first truly global 4th estate.

Monica LewinskyTomorrow Woman, Trump vs. Hillary: Who Are Celebs Voting For? Jon Hartley, Oct. 31, 2016. The nation is set to hit the polls on November 8th. Here’s a rundown of who celebs plan on casting their vote for on election day.

  • Tom Brady: Trump. Brady recently returned to the field for the New England Patriots following a four-game suspension. He counts Trump among his friends and plans on voting for the Republican candidate.
  • Monica Lewinsky: Hillary. This one may come as a surprise, but Lewinsky (shown in a file photo) will vote for Clinton despite her rocky history with Hillary’s husband, Bill. She sees Trump as a bully and says that as an anti-bullying advocate, she can’t support him.

Oct. 30

Washington Post, FBI obtains warrant to search newly discovered Clinton-related emails, Matt Zapotosky, Ellen Nakashima and Rosalind S. Helderman​, Oct. 30, 2016. The agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server knew that messages recovered in a probe of former congressman Anthony Weiner might be germane to their case, but they waited weeks before briefing Director James Comey, raising questions about the timing of renewing the inquiry into Clinton.

Roll Call, Reid: FBI Director May Have Broken Law in Clinton Inquiry, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 30, 2016. Reid accused the director of treating the presidential candidates with a “clear double-standard.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid suggested Sunday that the FBI’s director may have violated federal law when he announced his agency was looking into new emails regarding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Harry Reid officialFBI Director James B. Comey informed lawmakers Friday that the agency was reviewing new emails that could be pertain to a previous investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server while she was Secretary of State. But the timing of the new announcement — less than two weeks before the presidential election — had Reid crying foul.

“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” Reid (shown in an official photo) wrote in a scathing Sunday letter to Comey.

“I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election,” Reid wrote. “Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”

Reid said the agency has been reluctant to disclose “explosive information” about “GOP nominee Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Reid wrote. "By contrast, as soon as you came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative light possible,” Reid said.

"Please keep in mind," Reid continued, "that I have been a supporter of yours in the past. When Republicans filibustered your nomination and delayed your confirmation longer than any previous nominee to your position, I led the fight to get you confirmed because I believed you to be a principled public servant. With the deepest regret, I now see that I was wrong."

Washington Post, Post-ABC poll finds tight presidential race, with mixed reaction to FBI’s review of Clinton’s emails, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Oct. 30, 2016. Republicans' growing unity behind their Hillary Clintonpresidential nominee, Donald Trump, has helped pull him just 1 percentage point behind Hillary Clinton and has placed GOP leaders who resist him in a vulnerable position, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Tracking Poll.

A majority of all likely voters say they are unmoved by the FBI's announcement Friday that it may review additional emails from Clinton's time as secretary of state. Just more than 6 in 10 voters say the news will make no difference in their vote, while just more than 3 in 10 say it makes them less likely to support her; 2 percent say they are more likely to back her as a result. About one-third say FBI's review makes them less likely to support Clinton.

"A real-time demo of the most devastating election theft mechanism yet found, with context and explanation"

YouTube, Exposed: The Master Key (How They Will STEAL The Election), Bev Harris, Oct. 30, 2016 (video above). Bev Harris is the author of "Black Box Voting" and administrator of research website by that name. Demonstration uses a real voting system and real vote databases and takes place in seconds across multiple jurisdictions. Over 5000 subcontractors and middlemen have the access to perform this for any or all clients. It can give contract signing authority to whoever the user chooses. All political power can be converted to the hands of a few anonymous subcontractors. It's a product. It's scaleable. It learns its environment and can adjust to any political environment, any demographic. It runs silently, invisibly, and can produce plausible results that really pass for the real thing.

In the meantime, there are six more detailed written reports with cites, source code clips, etc. at blackboxvoting.org. As of May 2016, the GEMS system is used statewide in Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont, and for counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It is also used in Canada.

Oct. 29

Political News

Washington Post, FBI was warned that updating Congress on emails was inconsistent with Justice policy, Sari Horwitz, Tom Hamburger and Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 29, 2016 (Oct. 30 print edition). The bureau told Justice officials that FBI logoDirector James Comey intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails. “We don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” one Justice official said. Comey’s decision less than two weeks before the presidential election has stunned former and current law enforcement officials and rocked the Clinton campaign, which appeared to be coasting to victory.

Campaign chairman and longtime Clinton family confidant John D. Podesta said on a call with reporters that Comey’s announcement was “long on innuendo and short on facts,” allowing Republicans to “distort and exaggerate” its message.

New York Times, Justice Dept. Strongly Discouraged Comey on Move in Clinton Email Case, Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt And William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 29, 2016. Senior Justice Department officials, career prosecutors and even some at the F.B.I. were at a loss on Saturday as to what would happen next. Would Mr. Comey provide a blow-by-blow accounting of the F.B.I.’s steps until Election Day? Did he plan further announcements? Or did he intend, after shaking up the election with his letter, to remain silent about the facts until the presidential votes had been tallied?

The F.B.I. offered no comment, and Justice Department officials said they had no idea what Mr. Comey saw as his next move. Justice Department officials were particularly puzzled about why Mr. Comey had alerted Congress — and by extension, the public — before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.

Despite the Justice Department’s concerns, Mr. Comey felt obligated to send the letter. But it opened him up to fierce criticism not only from Democrats but also from current and former officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, including Republicans.

“There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,” said George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush. “Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences.” He added, “There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.”

In conversations this month, senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials agreed that the matter was worth pursuing. By law, though, agents and prosecutors in the Clinton investigation could not immediately read the new emails without court authority. The authorities decided only recently to seek that approval. They do not know whether the emails contain classified information or, if they do, whether that would change their determination that nobody should be charged with mishandling it.

So Justice Department officials were surprised on Thursday afternoon to receive notice of Mr. Comey’s intention to send the letter to Congress. The letter, issued as early voting was underway in some states, guaranteed a new round of questions for Mrs. Clinton just before Election Day.

Washington Post, Clinton aide Huma Abedin has told people she doesn’t know how her emails wound up on her husband’s computer, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Karen Huma Abedin October-2010-flickrTumulty, Oct. 29, 2016. Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin (shown in a file photo) has told people she is unsure how her emails could have ended up on a device she viewed as her husband’s computer, the seizure of which has reignited the Clinton email investigation, according to a person familiar with the investigation and civil litigation over the matter. A person familiar with the case says the top Clinton aide wasn’t a regular user of the computer that belongs to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

Washington Post, Trump supporter charged with voting twice in Iowa, Amy B. Wang, Oct. 29, 2016. A woman in Iowa was arrested this week on suspicion of voting twice in the general election, court and police records show. Terri Lynn Rote, a 55-year-old Des Moines resident, was booked Thursday on a first-degree charge of election misconduct. The Des Moines Register reported that Rote is a registered Republican who cast two ballots in the general election: an early-voting ballot at the Polk County Election Office and another at a county satellite voting location, according to police records.

Around the Nation

'

Police & Military Attack Oceti Sakowin Treaty Camp Oct. 27 in North Dakota (7:06 min. video)

Unicorn Riot via OpEdNews, Real Video from Today in North Dakota, for those who have strong stomachs and some sense of Justice, Stephen Fox, Oct.. 27, published Oct. 29, 2016. Report: "This is really sickening footage from North Dakota, but you need to watch it now and share it widely with your friends and groups, please.) This is really sickening footage from North Dakota, but you need to watch it now and share it widely with your friends and groups, please. Shame, shame....I truly feel shame for my nation of oppressors, and shame turns to anger.

Little or none of this is appearing on any mainstream media, just a video on the UN Rights of Indigenous Peoples which 3+ millions have watched. What you will see in this video is what is really going on, the true front line. They are heavily armed, using pepper spray in aggressive ways that it is not supposed to be used, using tasers and violence. I hope millions internationally see how North Dakota and the corporations are treating the people whose only crime was that they were here first.

I don't know what the solution really is, other than Obama ordering a complete cessation of the pipeline construction. Bernie Sanders has made clear that he supports the native defenders and wants to put a stop to the Dakota Access Pipeline. He is only one Senator: ask yours to help soon! This is turning from an outrage to a massive sense of shame for what our nation is becoming."

Oct. 28

Political News

New York Times, Emails Again, This Time With Anthony Weiner, Editorial board, Oct. 28, 2016. Every time Americans start thinking nothing more can surprise them in this presidential campaign, something detonates to prove them wrong. So it was that on Friday, 11 days from Election Day, the F.B.I. director, James Comey, sent a cryptic letter to Congress saying, “In connection with an unrelated case, the F.B.I. has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent” to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Whose emails? About what? Do they have any connection to Mrs. Clinton herself? Mr. Comey wasn’t saying. Indeed, he appeared to have no idea. He went on to inform Congress that the F.B.I. “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant,” nor could he even predict how long it would take the F.B.I. to figure that out.

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement — if not mutual interest — the campaigns of both Mrs. Clinton and Donald Trump demanded, quite correctly, that Mr. Comey provide more information, and fast.

There is so far no indication that Mr. Comey’s missive means the F.B.I. is “reopening” its investigation into Mrs. Clinton, as hyperventilating Republicans, including Mr. Trump, are suggesting, nor is it an acknowledgment that the F.B.I. erred in its earlier efforts. It doesn’t mean that anybody within the F.B.I. is trying to influence the election, as some panicky Democrats are implying. But without more information, it’s impossible for voters to judge the significance of this discovery as they head to the polls.

Mrs. Clinton, as she has acknowledged, is responsible for this mess, which led Friday night to a gobsmacking headline on CNN: “Weiner Sexting Probe Leads F.B.I. to Review Clinton Case.” If she is elected, she will do well to recall that line should she ever consider being less than forthcoming. Her apparent effort to blunt scrutiny by means of that private server has only led to far more damaging scrutiny and suspicion, with no end in sight.

Washington Post, Computer seized in Weiner probe prompts FBI to take new steps in Clinton email inquiry, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Sari Horwitz, Oct. 28, 2016. Clinton urges FBI to explain renewed email inquiry ‘without delay.’ Newly discovered emails found on a computer used by former congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, have prompted the agency to make new FBI logoinquiries related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The surprise announcement, less than two weeks before the election, could reshape a race that the Democratic nominee has been leading in most public polls.

Officials said the discovery prompted a surprise announcement Friday by FBI Director James B. Comey that the agency would once again be examining emails related to Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

The announcement could reshape a presidential race that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has been leading in most public polls. It was immediately hailed by Republican nominee Donald Trump, who told supporters at a New Hampshire rally that “perhaps, finally, justice will be done.” The crowd responded with pumped fists and chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Clinton told reporters Friday night in Iowa that she learned of the newly discovered emails only after the letter to Congress was made public. “I’m confident whatever [the emails] are will not change the conclusion reached in July,” she said. “Therefore, it’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.”

Washington Post, The FBI’s October surprise just made Clinton’s awful week even worse, Chris Cillizza​, Oct. 28, 2016. ​First there were Obamcare's rising premiums and the revelations of access-peddling by a top aide at the Clinton Foundation, but this put her bad week into truly terrible territory.

The Washington Post, A British tabloid story is the reason for Hillary Clinton’s new FBI nightmare, Callum Borchers, Oct. 28, 2016. This is the sentence, published in September by the Daily Mail, that led to Hillary Clinton's new FBI woes: "Anthony Weiner carried on a months-long online sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl during which she claims he asked her to dress up in 'school-girl' outfits for him on a video messaging application and pressed her to engage in 'rape fantasies.'"

By the time of that report, Weiner's sexting relapse had been exposed weeks earlier by the New York Post, which published messages that the former New York congressman exchanged with a "40-something divorcee." The New York Post story prompted Weiner's wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to announce she was leaving her husband, but it did not suggest criminal behavior.

The Daily Mail's follow-up story, however, alleged that Weiner had traded sexually explicit messages with an underage girl and caught the FBI's attention. As The Washington Post noted Friday, in the process of investigating Weiner, the FBI examined a computer shared by Weiner and Abedin and happened upon emails deemed relevant to the agency's earlier probe of the way Clinton and aides handled classified information during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

Huffington Post, Video Shows Donald Trump Sexually Humiliating Woman Before Large Audience, He decided to take revenge on another former Miss Universe, Ryan Grim, Oct. 28, 2016. Revenge has been a fixture of Donald Trump’s corporate speeches for years. It almost always comes up as he offers advice to his audience on how to succeed in business, and usually includes a Rosie O’Donnell anecdote.

But at one speech in Sydney in October 2011, he decided to give the audience a live example of what revenge looks like by calling a woman he felt had slighted him onstage and sexually humiliating her in front of thousands of onlookers.

Remarkably, Trump telegraphs precisely what he is about to do. “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe that,” he begins, receiving a round of applause and cheers.

“I’ll give you an example: Jennifer Hawkins. Where’s Jennifer? Where’s she sitting? Get over here, Jennifer,” Trump says, referring to the 2004 Miss Universe winner, who is Australian. “First of all, how beautiful is Jennifer? This is about getting even.”

Trump then explains why he needs to “get even” with Hawkins, whom he accuses of declining to introduce him at the event. “I was so angry at her yesterday. Seriously, as I said, I thought that she dissed me. I thought that my Jennifer ― I’m going around saying she’s my favorite Miss Universe, but I think I like the new one better, Jennifer. So I go around saying she’s the greatest ... then when I came here, there was no Jennifer Hawkins to introduce me.”

Huffington Post, Trump Calls Black Supporter ‘Thug, Throws Him Out Of Rally,’ Daniel Marans, Oct. 28, 2016. Donald Trump ejected a black man waving a note at him at a North Carolina rally after accusing him of being a “thug” hired by Democrats to disrupt the event. But C.J. Cary, the man who was thrown out, claims he is a Trump supporter and was merely trying to deliver a message to the candidate to mend ties with some key demographic groups the GOP presidential nominee has offended.

Donald Trump button open mouthAt the Wednesday campaign rally in the town of Kinston, Cary stood a few dozen feet from the stage trying to get Trump’s attention by waving a note and yelling “Donald,” the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Trump assumed Cary was a disruptive protester. “Were you paid $1,500 to be a thug?” Trump asked Cary, according to the Observer. The real estate mogul then asked security to remove him.

The News & Observer’s Bryan Anderson, who was at the rally on Wednesday and reported on Friday that Cary is a Trump supporter, told The Huffington Post he initially thought the man was a protester as well. In a tweet from the rally, Anderson simply referred to him as a “protester.”

Shortly after the rally, however, Cary contacted Anderson to tell him his story. Cary, an ex-Marine and resident of Nash County, not far from where Kinston is located, told the reporter that he plans to vote for Trump. He merely wanted to offer his advice that the candidate should treat certain groups of Americans with more respect. He singled out African-Americans, women, college students and people with disabilities as constituencies that deserved better treatment from the GOP nominee.

Legal Schnauzer, Missouri politico sues future colleague who accused him of rape, possibly shining light on scandal involving Jason Kander and U.S. Senate race against Roy Blunt, Roger Shuler, Oct. 28, 2016. An incoming Missouri legislator has filed a defamation lawsuit against a future colleague who accused him of rape. The civil case could unlock secrets about the evolving scandal surrounding Jason Kander, the Democrat who is trying to unseat GOP incumbent Roy Blunt in one of the nation's most closely watched U.S. Senate races. Excerpts:

Stephen Roberts Jr.Steven Roberts Jr. (shown in a file photo) yesterday filed a lawsuit against Cora Faith Walker, accusing her of defamation, malicious prosecution, and infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit comes two days after a special prosecutor announced he would not bring criminal charges against Roberts, based on Walker's rape complaint.

Walker serves as one of three officers for Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K), a Kander-controlled nonprofit that has raised about $5 million for a ballot initiative and constitutional amendment that would raise tobacco taxes supposedly to boost early-childhood education in Missouri. According to a document called The Kander Memo, filed anonymously with authorities and available here), however, $3 million for RYH4K came from RJ Reynolds, the tobacco conglomerate that likely would benefit from enhanced market share and increased taxes on products from its discount competitors.

Jason KanderAs an officer of RYH4K, Walker holds a fiduciary duty to ensure that $5 million in donations, $2 million of which came from individual contributors, is handled lawfully and actually goes to programs for children. The anonymous authors of The Kander Memo say the funds have been tainted with fraud and theft by deceit, serving partly as a political slush fund for Kander (shown at right in a file photo).

Walker, a lawyer, brought her rape allegations against Roberts less than 10 days after The Kander Memo was released to seven government oversight bodies. The 127-page memo repeatedly points to irregularities and alleged criminal conduct that could threaten Walker's legal and political careers. Evidence suggests she might have developed the rape allegations against Roberts as a way to deflect attention from The Kander Memo.

Could discovery in the Roberts lawsuit reveal information about Walker's motivations and her connections to RYH4K and the Kander campaign? The answer appears to be yes. The Walker-Roberts story already has made national headlines, and the lawsuit figures to grab even more attention. Meanwhile, the Kander-Blunt race could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate beginning in 2017.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Opinion: Cora Faith Walker is 'no angel.' But I believe her, Tony Messenger, Oct. 28, 2016. Two days after a special prosecutor declined to file charges in the allegations of rape she brought against a fellow state representative candidate, and one day after that man, Steve Roberts Jr., filed a defamation lawsuit against her, the 31-year-old lawyer turned her focus to the state Capitol. On Nov. 8, both she and Roberts are running unopposed as Democrats for seats in the Missouri House. She lives in Ferguson. Roberts lives in the city of St. Louis. In early January, if they both follow through with their plans to serve, they’ll be together in the state’s capital city for five months, working in a building in which they’ll cross paths every day and likely have desks mere feet from each other.

After filing a complaint with the police, and then taking the rare step of publicizing her sexual assault allegations — and putting her name on them for all to see in my column outlining her accusation — Walker was “devastated” that St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar didn’t file charges against Roberts. “I completely get why women don’t report,” she told me, in tears as she recounted a difficult couple of days. “I completely get it.”

In Roberts’ lawsuit against her, he describes in salacious detail the days and hours leading to the evening on Aug. 26 when Walker says she was raped, and Roberts says they had consensual sex. The events in the lawsuit don’t paint a positive picture of Walker, of how she treated her marriage, of the judgment she showed leading up to the moment that would change her life, and others’.

“I’m not an angel,” she had told me when I first interviewed her last month. It was a phrase I didn’t use in my column because it’s one of those narratives that all too often emerges after alleged sexual assault victims have their every move dissected in the sort of public way that serves to dehumanize them. Cora Faith Walker is no angel. But I believe her.

Washington Post, Hiring partners at lobby firms, trade groups and corporations are looking to snap up well-connected Capitol Hill and administration staffers, Catherine Ho, ​Oct. 28, 2016. In Washington, Nov. 8 won’t just decide who will occupy the highest office in the land. The election will also determine how hundreds of staffers at federal agencies and Senate and House offices will make a living come January. And that means it’s high season for hiring partners at lobby firms, trade groups and corporations, who are looking to snap up well-connected Capitol Hill and administration staffers to better position themselves to lobby incoming congressional leadership and the new administration.

Foreign News

 

SouthFront (SF), Militants Make Do-Or-Die Attempt to Break Aleppo Siege, Staff report, ​Oct. 28, 2016. On October 28, the joint militant forces launched a full-scale offensive in order to break the siege of Syria Flagmilitant-controlled neighborhoods of Aleppo city that had been set by the Syrian government forces. The operation was led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch).

The attack begun with massive shelling of the al-Assad Neighborhood in western Aleppo with ‘Grad’ missiles, artillery and mortars. In total, about 3,000 fighters, up to 30 artillery units and unspecified number of heavy military equipment were involved in the operation. SF forecasts that the terrorists will not be able to break the siege of Aleppo.

BBC, Syria rebels 'in push to break Aleppo siege,' Staff report, Oct. 28, 2016. Rebels in Syria have announced a big offensive aimed at breaking the government siege of east Aleppo. A UK-based monitoring group says rebels fired "hundreds" of missiles on western Aleppo, killing at least 15 civilians. In response, Russia's defence ministry asked permission from President Vladimir Putin to resume air strikes against the rebels after a 10-day pause, but he denied the request. About 275,000 people have been besieged in the east of the city for months. Russian and Syrian government planes began bombarding the city in September. More than 2,700 people are said to have been killed and injured since then.

Russia suspended its air campaign on 18 October to allow evacuations of sick and wounded people but few have heeded the call to leave. The Russian defence ministry said continuing civilian deaths and an upsurge in rebel activity had prompted its request to resume the strikes. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Putin did not consider it appropriate to restart the strikes but said the humanitarian pause should continue.

Media

Unz Review, The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection, Ron Unz, Oct. 28, 2016. Ranking first in readership this last week was Phil Giraldi’s discussion of his growing doubts that the official story of the 9/11 attacks reflects the truth of what happened, and his growing sense that the large number of logical and evidentiary inconsistencies merit an official reexamination of the evidence.  As a former long-time CIA Intelligence Officer, his opinion on such a controversial matter carries considerable weight, and reinforces the widespread public doubts of the events, which have led to fifteen years of endless American foreign wars and substantially transformed our domestic society as well. Unsurprisingly, the discussion thread was exceptionally long and contentious, with over 500 comments amounting to nearly 60,000 words.

In second place was the Saker’s suggestion that if elected president Donald Trump should follow Vladimir Putin’s example in moving effectively to rein in and outmaneuver the American Oligarchs whose control over our own society has been nearly as much of a social and economic disaster  for ordinary Americans as their Russian counterparts inflected on ordinary post-Soviet citizens during the drunken Yeltsin Era of the 1990s. Coming third was my own own piece, a strategy memo arguing that those opposing Establishmentarian policies should regard the mainstream media as their most important and powerful opposing force and should pursue particular lines of attack to weaken its credibility and reduce its effectiveness. 

Unz Review, 9/11 Truth? Was it an "American coup?" Phil Giraldi, Oct. 25, 2016. For the first time a presidential candidate, admittedly from a fringe party, is calling for a reexamination of 9/11. Jill Stein of the Green Party has recognized that exercises in which the United States government examines its own behavior are certain to come up with a result that basically exonerates the politicians and the federal bureaucracy.

To be honest I would prefer not to think that 9/11 might have been an inside job, but I am now convinced that a new 9/11 Commission is in order, one that is not run and guided by the government itself. If it can be demonstrated that the attacks carried out on that day were quite possibly set up by major figures both inside and outside the political establishment it might produce such a powerful reaction that the public would demand a reversal of the laws and policies that have so gravely damaged our republic. It is admittedly unlikely that anything like that could ever take place, but it is at least something to hope for.'

Washington Post, Why Scott Adams of ‘Dilbert’ fame risked his reputation by sparking controversy in the election, Michael Cavna, Oct. 28, 2016. What makes a rich celebrity risk his very brand in order to climb a political pulpit?

That question applies not only to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but also to Scott Adams, the “Dilbert” creator who was long seen as a truth-telling champion of the beleaguered cubicle dweller. Why has Adams spent this election cycle writing political blog posts and at one point endorsing Trump, knowing it would alienate much of his audience?

Because, Adams told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs, “this is the most fun and satisfying year of my life in terms of [intellectual] stimulation.” Adams, 59, launched “Dilbert” nearly three decades ago, and as the strip’s client list climbed to 2,000 newspapers, the cartoonist built a licensing and merchandising empire. He topped the bestseller list not only with comics collections but also with business how-to books that increased his profile as a motivational corporate speaker.

So how do things stand now as Election Day nears — more than 14 months after his blog post that first hailed Trump as a “clown genius” of persuasive rhetoric? “My speaking career ended because of this,” the Bay Area-based cartoonist said of his once-lucrative side business.

Although his book sales have stayed healthy, Adams said that many off-put readers now view “Dilbert” through more critical glasses, which has affected his licensing sales. All told, Adams said, his income has dipped precipitously.

Oct. 27

Around the Nation

Ammon BundyWashington Post, Jury acquits leaders of armed takeover of Ore. wildlife refuge of federal conspiracy charges, Staff report, Oct. 27, 2016. All defendants were found not guilty of charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers and not guilty of possession of firearms in a federal facility. The armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge spanned 41 freezing cold days in January and February. The trial for the standoff’s leader, Ammon Bundy (shown above in a file photo from the protest), his brother Ryan, and five others took six weeks. And the verdict came in just five days: all defendants were found not guilty of federal conspiracy charges.

It was the grand finale of a federal trial that played out like a three-ring circus. The trial often saw the ninth-floor courtroom packed with more than 100 people — jurors, attorneys, supporters, journalists — and another room four floors up packed with even more.

Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, Judge Anna Brown read all charges: all defendants were found not guilty of charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers and not guilty of possession of firearms in a federal facility. One of the occupiers, Kenneth Medenbach, was found not guilty of theft of a government-owned truck. The jury was hung on the charge of theft of government cameras against Ryan Bundy.
The narrative that the defense pushed throughout the trial, that the Malheur occupation was simply a protest, convinced the jury.

Yale Law School, President Obama Commutes Sentence of Criminal Justice Clinic Client, Oct. 31, 2016. On October 27, 2016, President Barack Obama commuted the life sentence of Alberto Lopez, a client of the Samuel Jacobs Criminal Justice Clinic at Yale Law School. Lopez has been in federal prison since 1996 as the result of a nonviolent drug offense. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole under now antiquated laws. Had he been sentenced under today’s laws, however, he would have been released years ago.

“It’s such a relief,” said April Hu ’17, a third-year law student work working on Lopez’s case. “When we submitted the petition, we hoped that people would see Lopez for the extraordinary person that he is, and realize that life in prison was a profoundly unjust sentence.”

“Mr. Lopez is one of over ten thousand people seeking clemency from the president, many of whom have spent decades in prison because of drug laws that Congress has since changed but failed to make retroactive,” added Theo Torres ’18, a second-year law student who began work on Mr. Lopez’s case this year. “We hope that the president uses the last few months of his term to continue correcting these injustices.”

Political News

RealClearPolitics, Clinton Ushers In Her Closer -- Michelle Obama, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Oct. 27, 2016. In a sign of how effective Michelle Obama has become on the campaign trail this year, Hillary Clinton introduced the first lady at her own get-out-the-vote rally here Thursday. “Seriously, is there anybody more inspiring than Michelle Obama?” Clinton asked the crowd of about 14,000 at Wake Forest University, where the two women campaigned together for the first time. They embraced on stage to mark the moment, and Mrs. Obama moved to put to rest any notion of a lasting rivalry between the two families after a bitter primary more than eight years ago. “If people wonder … yes, she is my friend,” the first lady said of Clinton, urging audience members to head to the polls after the rally to vote early “for my girl.”

Politico, Clinton eyes Biden for secretary of state, Edward-Isaac Dovere, "They are spending a lot of time figuring out the best way to try to persuade him to do it if she wins,' a source Joe Bidentells Politico. Joe Biden is at the top of the internal short list Hillary Clinton’s transition team is preparing for her pick to be secretary of state, a source familiar with the planning tells Politico.

This would be the first major Cabinet candidate to go public for a campaign that’s insisted its focus remains on winning the election, and perhaps the most central choice for a potential president who was a secretary of state herself.

Clarence ThomasWashington Post, Woman says Justice Clarence Thomas groped her at a party in 1999, according to report, Robert Barnes and Sari Horwitz, Oct. 27, 2016. In a post on Facebook, the Alaska lawyer said Thomas fondled her when she was a 23-year-old Truman Foundation scholar, the National Law Journal reported.

The 25th anniversary of Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has featured testimonials from his supporters, a symposium on his jurisprudence and tributes from conservative legal scholars about his influence on the court. But Thursday brought an unwelcome echo of the sexual harassment allegations that almost derailed his 1991 nomination: An Alaska lawyer told the National Law Journal that Thomas groped her at a dinner party in 1999, when she was a young Truman Foundation scholar in Washington. Through a court spokeswoman, Thomas told the publication: “This claim is preposterous and it never happened.”

St. Louis Riverfront Times, Steven Roberts Jr. Sues Cora Faith Walker, Alleging Defamation and Malicious Prosecution, Sarah Fenske, Oct 27, 2016. Steven Roberts has filed a bombshell lawsuit against his fellow Democrat — accusing her of making up the case against him and saying that they had multiple consensual encounters. Walker has told the media that the two had no prior romantic relationship. But in his lawsuit, Roberts alleges that they actually fooled around in his hotel room the very night before — and that he snapped a nude photo of her to prove it. He also says their encounters on the night in question weren't just consensual, but that they planned to hook up by purchasing wine, pizza and condoms together.

He's now suing for defamation, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Scott Rosenblum, the Clayton criminal defense attorney who represented Roberts in the police investigation, says the photo, as well as a receipt showing the grocery store purchases, were the "conclusive evidence" he referenced in arguing his client's innocence. He said the photo taken by Roberts in his hotel room the morning before the alleged assault clearly shows Walker. "There is no question," he tells the RFT. In his lawsuit, filed by Jeremy D. Hollingshead of Hollingshead, Paulus, Eccher, and Fry, Roberts tells a much different story — with receipts and text messages attached as exhibits.

Roberts said the two had a sexual relationship eight years ago, and rekindled it after each won their respective primaries this August.

In a press release, Roberts' attorneys said he would not be available for comment this week. They provided this written statement from Roberts: "What is most egregious is that Mrs. Walker has falsely positioned herself as an advocate for sexual assault victims. Victims do not lie. By making these false allegations, Mrs. Walker has undermined the true victims of sexual assault who deserve to be heard and believed."

As a newly elected representative for the citizens of St. Louis, Mrs. Walker's false allegations of rape are, to say the least, disturbing. In an attempt to advance her own political career, Mrs. Walker has severely damaged the rights of the many actual victims of sexual assault. As a representative of the people, Mrs. Walker should know better.

Washington Post, FCC passes sweeping rules to protect online privacy, Brian Fung​, Oct. 27, 2016. The rules, passed in a 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers' explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms.

Secrecy News, CIA Will Place Its CREST Database Online, Steven Aftergood, Oct. 27, 2016. The Central Intelligence Agency said this week that it will post its database of declassified CIA documents online, making them CIA Logobroadly accessible to all interested users. The database, known as CREST (for CIA Records Search Tool), contains more than 11 million pages of historical Agency records that have already been declassified and approved for public release.

Currently, however, CREST can only be accessed through computer terminals at the National Archives in College Park, MD. This geographic restriction on availability has been a source of frustration and bafflement to researchers ever since the digital collection was established in 2000.

But that is finally going to change. The entire contents of the CREST system will be transferred to the CIA website, said CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani on Tuesday. "When loaded on the website they will be full-text searchable and have the same features currently available on the CREST system at NARA," he said. CIA was not able to provide a date for completion of the transfer, but "we are moving out on the plan to make the transition," Mr. Trapani said. In the meantime, "The CREST database housed at NARA will remain up and running at least until the website is fully functioning," he said.

Political News

Washington Post via Chicago Tribune, Trump's comeback plan includes building a 'psychographic' profile of every voter, Michael Kranish, Oct. 27, 2017. In a Fifth Avenue office near Trump Tower, a company being paid millions of dollars by Donald Trump's presidential campaign says it has developed a political weapon powerful enough to help the Republican nominee overcome his troubles and win the White House. The key is a psychological model for identifying voters that can "determine the personality of every single adult in the United States of America," said Alexander Nix, chief executive of Cambridge Analytica.

Washington Post, Clinton far outpaces Trump’s October fundraising, amasses dominant war chest, Abby Phillip, Sean Sullivan and Matea Gold, Oct. 27, 2016. Donald Trump had $16 million in his campaign coffers on Oct. 19, compared with $62 million for Hillary Clinton. And there was scant evidence that the GOP nominee will end up giving the $100 million he has claimed he is donating to his bid. It’s about to become a very busy time for K Street headhunters

Washington Post, The myth that Hillary Clinton is just lucky, debunked, Fred Hiatt (Editorial Page Editor), Oct. 27, 2016. We all know that Hillary Clinton is just lucky, not good. The second-most disliked candidate in history is winning only because her opponent is even more disliked. Any normal Republican would be waltzing to victory. Right? Wrong.

At some point, though, you have to look at actual performance. Rubio wilted under interrogation by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kasich failed to connect, and not a single candidate in that supposedly awesome lineup managed to do what Clinton did, which is stand up to Trump in debate. They performed miserably in their primary campaigns; why would we assume that Jeb Bush or any of the others would have done better in the general? Clinton, meanwhile, has shown a political adeptness that few give her credit for.

TPM, Gary Johnson Blows Up At Reporter: 'Why Are You Even Interviewing Me?' Esme Cribb, Oct. 27, 2016. Gary Johnson insisted that he was "not a dummy" in a contentious interview published Thursday about tax policy and his position in the polls.

Fox News, 'Make Soros happy': Inside Clinton team's mission to please billionaire VIP, Staff report, Oct. 27, 2016. Newly revealed emails posted by WikiLeaks show top aides to Hillary Clinton went out of their way to keep a certain VIP happy: Uber-liberal billionaire George Soros. The emails, hacked from the account of Clinton Campaign Chairman and Soros ally John Podesta, disclose that Clinton was advised to do fundraisers simply to make Soros “happy.” They also indicate the 85-year-old Hungarian-born heavyweight, through his top aides, freely reached out to Podesta to make Soros’ wishes clear on issues ranging from trade to migration to the Supreme Court.

In one instance, trusted Clinton adviser Huma Abedin wrote to now-Campaign Manager Robby Mook on Oct. 7, 2014, to tell him Clinton was having dinner with Soros. Abedin said she expected Soros would eventually ask Clinton to appear at a fundraiser for America Votes, one of the many liberal organizations Soros helps fund, and Abedin wanted to know how to proceed. “I would only do this for political reasons (ie to make Soros happy),” Mook replied.

Tag Hollywood, Movie Opens In DC Oct. 28: Rolling Stone Investigative Reporter Greg Palast Reveals A GOP Thirty State Computer Program That Can Eliminate Over 7 Million Minority Voters, Ilene Proctor, Oct. Greg Palast movie poster27, 2016. A one-week showing begins Oct. 28 of Greg Palast's film "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale Of Billionaires And Ballot Bandits," with Ed Asner, Rosario Dawson, Ice-T, Richard Belzer, Shailene Woodley and Willie Nelson. Location: Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market. 

WhoWhatWhy, Massive Voter Suppression in Ohio Stopped Just in Time, Maya Lowenstein, Oct. 27, 2016. Ohio's Republicans came within three weeks of preventing hundreds of thousands of voters from casting ballots. However, another one of their efforts to suppress the vote in the Buckeye state succeeded.Oct. 26

Around the Nation

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, No charges after incoming Missouri representative accused St. Louis colleague of rape, Staff report, Oct. 26, 2016. No charges will be filed after a candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives said she was sexually assaulted by a fellow candidate, a special prosecutor said Tuesday.

Stephen Roberts Jr.Cora Faith Walker, 31, Ferguson, a Democrat running unopposed in a district in north St. Louis County, outlined her claim in a letter she sent Sept. 30 to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and other legislative leaders. She made her accusation against Steven Roberts Jr., of St. Louis, who also is unopposed in his bid to become a Democratic representative for a city district.

But on Tuesday, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, who serves as a special prosecutor in the case, said, “We’re not going to file charges against Mr. Roberts (shown at right in a file photo). There simply wasn’t enough credible evidence that sexual relations between these two people were anything but consensual.”

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce asked Lohmar to investigate the allegation because Roberts once worked in her office. Roberts previously denied the charges, calling them “completely and unequivocally false” and adding that he and Walker formerly had a consensual relationship.

Scott Rosenblum, attorney for Roberts, said his client was “thrilled” with Lohmar’s decision. “We believed from the beginning that her allegation was completely unfounded, and we have evidence to conclusively contradict her,” he said. “We submitted that to [Lohmar]. Having done so, I’m not surprised by his decision.”

Walker said she was “disappointed” by Lohmar’s decision, adding, “I didn’t come forward expecting justice. I know that few sexual assault cases are ever prosecuted. … I am angry and terrified that [Roberts] is free,” she said.

Walker said she once considered Roberts “a colleague and a friend” but never had an intimate relationship with him. Roberts and Walker are on the Nov. 8 ballot and would serve together in the House beginning in January.

Legal Schnauzer, Prosecutor declines to bring rape charges in case with apparent ties to Jason Kander scandal surrounding Missouri U.S. Senate race against Roy Blunt, Roger Shuler, Oct. 26, 2016. Excerpts: A Jason KanderMissouri special prosecutor yesterday declined to bring criminal charges in the case of an incoming state representative who claimed one of her future colleagues raped her. Evidence suggests the rape allegations are connected to an evolving scandal surrounding Democrat Jason Kander (shown in a file photo), who is attempting to unseat GOP incumbent Roy Blunt in one of the nation's most closely watched U.S. Senate races.

We reported last week on The Kander Memo, which outlines a number of campaign-finance irregularities -- plus possible criminal acts such as theft by deceit and fraud -- against the candidate and his wife, Diana Kagan Kander. (The full-127 page memo is here.) How explosive could The Kander Memo become? The rape allegations involving two up-and-coming politicians from the St. Louis area seem to provide insight.

Cora Faith Walker via Facebook photoCora Faith Walker, 31 (shown in a Facebook photo), won the Democratic primary and is running unopposed in the general election for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives from the Ferguson area. Steven Roberts Jr. also is running unopposed to become a Democratic representative from a metro St. Louis district. Both are expected to take office in January 2017.

But their relationship already has become the subject of national news. In a letter dated September 30 to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) and other legislative leaders, Walker accused Roberts of raping her. She said in the letter that she had filed a police report earlier that week against Roberts.

The story generated headlines well beyond Missouri over the past three weeks or so (as indicated in the Washington Post's story In ‘serious and disturbing’ letter, incoming Missouri lawmaker accuses another of raping her), but prosecutor Tim Lohmar announced yesterday that he could find no grounds to bring a case against Roberts.

How does the Kander scandal enter the picture?

Walker is one of three officers in Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K), a Missouri nonprofit that Kander controls. It has raised approximately $5 million to, it appears, push for a ballot initiative and constitutional amendment that would raise tobacco taxes to help boost early-childhood education in Missouri. That sounds like a noble cause. But Big Tobacco, specifically RJ Reynolds, has contributed $3 million, and fine print in the ballot measure shows it would protect and likely increase Big Tobacco's market share, in part by imposing a particularly heavy tax on Reynolds' chief competitors -- cheap "discount brand" cigarettes.

Is that the only unseemly business behind the RYH4K scheme? Nope. According to The Kander Memo, RYH4K violates the Federal Campaign Act and operates as "a $5-million political slush fund, to use as Kander deems best to further his political candidacy and personal ambition . . . ."

Did Walker develop flimsy rape allegations against Stephen Roberts Jr. as a way to divert attention from the ugly questions The Kander Memo raises -- questions that could send state and federal investigators her way?

Missouri Times, Clashes over Amendment 3 continue as questions arise over appropriation of funds, Tim Curtis, Oct. 26, 2016. As polling shows Amendment 3 falling behind, a group supporting the amendment announced a new national endorsement while a group of educators called the amendment a potential slush fund for politicians and private schools. Missouri Times polling showed Wednesday that more Missourians favor a “no” on the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment by a 53-40, but with two weeks before election day, both campaigns remain active.

The amendment would raise the cigarette tax by 60 cents over a period of several years and add another 67 cent tax on small cigarette manufacturers to raise funds for early childhood health and education. Yes on 3 for Kids announced Wednesday that the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives has endorsed the amendment.

“Amendment 3 could not be more important for the future of Missouri’s kids, and for the future of the state as a whole. Study after study shows that children with access to early education programs are more likely to finish school and less likely to turn to crime or end up incarcerated,” said Perry Tarrant, president of the organization. “We should be educating and helping children as early as possible to create better citizens and ensure that every child has the opportunity to meet his or her potential.”

But the amendment has also received opposition from several education groups, including the Missouri National Education Association. MNEA president Charles E. Smith on Wednesday criticized claims that that funds raised by amendment would be protected by a ‘lock box.’  “As educators, we are committed to the success of every student,” he said. “Amendment 3 supporters are not leveling with voters. The funds are at the mercy of politicians and their hand-picked political appointees. There is no recourse to prevent Amendment 3 funds from being spent on politicians pet projects or elite parochial schools.”

Smith said that while most educators support early learning, the amendment has too many faults for MNEA to support.

Roll Call, The Surprise Senate Race: How Missouri Became a Key Battleground, Alex Roarty, Oct. 26, 2016. Last year, long before even most Democrats thought he could win, Jason Kander explained why he deserved to unseat Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. His message, delivered in a succinct video announcing his campaign, was blunt and personal. Whether he knew it or not, he had found a catchphrase that would — 20 months later — come to explain how he now appears on the brink of an improbable upset.

President Obama

President Barack Obama, with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, meets with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Oct. 26, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Political News

Washington Post, House Republicans are preparing for years of investigations of Clinton, David Weigel, Oct. 26, 2016. If Republicans retain control of the House, Hillary Clinton could be the first president since George H.W. Bush to immediately face a House Oversight Committee controlled by the opposition.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Campaigns In Crucial Battleground Of Washington, D.C., Igor Bobic, Oct. 26, 2016. If you can call plugging his new hotel “campaigning.” Instead of spending his morning in a hotly contested battleground state like Florida ― where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton held an event encouraging people to vote early ― Donald Trump on Wednesday decided to promote his sagging brand at his glitzy new Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, just blocks from the White House

New York Magazine, Clinton Adviser Proposes Attacking Iran to Aid the Saudis in Yemen, Eric Levitz, Oct. 26, 2016. Michael Morell is a former acting director of the CIA and a national security adviser to Hillary Clinton — one who is widely expected to occupy a senior post in her administration. He is also an opponent of the Iran nuclear agreement, a defender of waterboarding, and an advocate for making Russia “pay a price” in Syria by covertly killing Putin’s soldiers.

On Tuesday, Morell added another title to that résumé: proponent of going to war with Iran, for the sake of securing Saudi Arabia’s influence in Yemen. “Ships leave Iran on a regular basis carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen,” Morell said, in remarks to the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. “I would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the U.S. Navy boarding their ships, and if there are weapons on them, to turn those ships around.”

Morell did note, per Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, that this policy “raised questions of international maritime law.” Which is a bit like saying, “Breaking into someone’s home, putting a gun in their face, and demanding they hand over all their weapons raises questions about armed-robbery law.”

New York Magazine, The ‘Blacks for Trump’ Guy Is a Former Member of a Murderous Cult Who Thinks Obama Is the Devil, Adam K. Raymond, Oct. 26, 2016. A former member of the murderous Yahweh ben Yahweh cult, Michael has found himself with front-row seats to several recent Trump events in South Florida, always waving his “Blacks for Trump” sign and wearing a shirt that says “Trump & Republicans Are Not Racist.” At Tuesday’s rally in Sanford, Trump took notice. “I love the signs behind me. Blacks for Trump. I like those signs. Blacks for Trump. You watch. You watch. Those signs are great,” he said.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoBefore he was winning attaboys from prominent members of the GOP, Michael ran with a vicious black-supremacist cult. In the early ‘90s, Michael and 15 other members of the Yahweh ben Yahweh cult were charged with conspiring in two murders, and even though his own brother testified that Michael stabbed a man in the eye with a sharp stick, he was let off by a Florida jury. In the decades since, he’s become a novel figure in South Florida, racking up criminal charges but no convictions and running a radio show that features his rants on “Demon-crats.”

The full spectrum of Michael’s political philosophy can be observed on his website Gods2.com, which he advertises on his signs at Trump rallies. It includes claims about Obama and Hillary Clinton being in the Illuminati, a video proving “that Hillary is in the KKK,” and more than a dozen personal videos related to an eviction and bankruptcy.

Media

Columbia Journalism Review, Why DDoS attacks matter for journalists, Susan McGregor, Oct. 26, 2016. On the evening of September 20, the website of computer security researcher and journalist Brian Krebs suffered a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that ultimately took his site offline. While DDoS attacks are common enough, experts at Akamai, the Web-caching company also relied on by major news organizations, acknowledged this one was different.

For anyone who tried to access sites such as Twitter, Amazon, The New York Times, The Verge, and Github this past Friday, Krebs’s observation was prescient, to say the least. This time, however, the DDoS attack — which paralyzes Web resources by demanding information faster than targeted computers can respond — was directed not at an individual website, but towards Dyn, a Domain Name Service (DNS) company. DNS functions something like the phone book of the internet, connecting users to the correct location when they type in a URL. So while an attack against a DNS provider doesn’t actually compromise the websites affected, as far as users are concerned, those sites are effectively offline.

This should matter to journalists, beyond the need to report the story, for two reasons. First, while the use of common household devices to execute the attacks against Krebs and Dyn was novel, the hackers got control of those devices using one of the oldest and easiest methods out there: bad passwords, a vulnerability most journalists share.

The second reason journalists should attend to these attacks is that strategic use of both DDoS attacks (for example, recent attacks on Newsweek and the BBC) and DNS manipulation are common tools for censorship. This is in part because they are cheap, easy (the software credited with Friday’s attack was posted openly just a few weeks ago), and highly effective in preventing some or all internet users from accessing the content they target.

Among the challenges for news organizations is how to continue to deliver news under such an attack. Ultimately, news organizations will have to explore alternate ways to deliver their content — such as standalone distributions points or even physical delivery via USB or SD card — and get serious about security to maintain independence in the digital age.

Oct. 25

Political News

Washington Post, Trump halts big-money fundraising, cutting cash to GOP, Matea Gold​, Oct. 25, 2016. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has stopped holding events for his high-dollar fundraising Donald Trump 2016 buttonoperation for the rest of the campaign, an unusual move that deals another serious blow to the GOP's effort to finance its get-out-the-vote operation before Election Day.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump's national finance chairman, said in an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign, held its last formal fundraiser on Oct. 19. The luncheon was in Las Vegas on the day of the final presidential debate.

Kellyanne Conway Gage Skidmore photoWashington Post, Kellyanne Conway’s and Donald Trump’s relationship is becoming bizarre, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2016. It’s almost as if Donald Trump’s campaign manager isn’t even talking to her candidate these days. Almost. Trump is certainly the chaos candidate in this race, but I like to think that the things he and his campaign do at least have somewhat of a strategic aim. In this case, I’m at a loss.

What practical purpose is served by having you and your campaign manager (shown in a Gage Skidmore file photo) publicly disagree about whether you are actually behind in the race — something that inevitably leads to stories like this one about how maybe your campaign is off the rails and has no direction.

Washington Post, Trump attacks price spikes, says Affordable Care Act is ‘blowing up,’ Sean Sullivan, Anne Gearan and Ed O'Keefe, Oct. 25, 2016. Donald Trump's statement came a day after the Obama administration announced that health-plan premiums sold through HealthCare.gov will increase by an average of 25 percent. Trump vowed to replace the program “with something much less expensive.”

Presidential Campaign

Huffington Post, Newt Gingrich Defends Trump By Accusing Megyn Kelly Of Being Obsessed With Sex, Elise Foley, Oct. 25, 2016. She told him to take his “anger issues and spend some time working on them.” Newt Gingrich Gage Skidmore photo Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) (Shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) accused Fox News host Megyn Kelly of being “fascinated by sex” on Tuesday, after snapping at her for asking about the women who have accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual assault.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Serves Up Piping Hot Nonsense On Obamacare, It’s possible he doesn’t know what the Affordable Care Act actually is, Jeffrey Young, Oct. 25, 2016. You would think that Obamacare had enough real problems that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would be able to stick to discussing them when taking a swing at the health care law. But you’d be wrong.

During a campaign event promotion for his hotels at the Trump National Doral Miami resort Tuesday, the GOP nominee seized on the news that health insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange marketplaces are going up by a lot for some people next year. But naturally, instead of just using this information to criticize the law and propose something better (or “something terrific,” as he’s fond of saying), Trump opted to go a little nuts.

Oct. 24

Political News

RealClearPolitics, Clinton's Army: Large Cast Rips Trump, Pushes Early Voting, Emily Goodin, Oct. 24, 2016. On the same day Hillary Clinton was campaigning with Al Gore in Miami, President Obama was rallying for her in North Carolina. This is Clinton’s Army – a group of popular, powerful Democrats who have spread out across battleground states to criticize Trump and encourage early voting as part of their effort to win Clinton the White House.

Donald Trump for President logoIt’s a stark contrast to the GOP nominee, whose most notable surrogates – Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Jeff Sessions – often campaign with the candidate or introduce him at rallies, though few other Republicans are willing to campaign for him.

GOP strategist Michael Steel of Hamilton Place Strategies, who has worked on several presidential campaigns, noted that Clinton “has the resources and experience of the entire Democratic Party at her disposal, while many, many experienced and talented potential GOP surrogates don't want anything to do with Donald Trump."

Washington Post, A growing conflict over voting rights is playing out in Georgia, where the presidential race is tightening, Vanessa Williams, Oct. 24, 2016. A growing conflict over voting rights and ballot access is playing out in Georgia, where civil rights activists are trading accusations with Republican elected officials and where the stakes have risen considerably with the state’s new status as a closely watched battleground.

Activists said this month that as many as 100,000 Georgia ­voter-registration applications have not been processed. One of the state’s largest counties offered only one early-voting site, prompting hours-long waits for many people at the polls last week. And the state’s top election official has refused to extend ­voter-registration deadlines in counties hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.

538.com, Election Update: Why Our Model Is More Bullish Than Others On Trump, Nate Silver, Oct. 24, 2016. Statistical expert Nate Silver is a prominent analyst and predictor of political and sports outcomes. As I wrote last week, Hillary Clinton is probably going to become the next president. But there’s an awful lot of room to debate what “probably” means. FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only model puts Clinton’s chances at 85 percent, while our polls-plus model has her at 83 percent. Those odds have been pretty steady over the past week or two, although if you squint you can see the race tightening just the slightest bit, with Clinton’s popular vote lead at 6.2 percentage points as compared to 7.1 points a week earlier. Still, she wouldn’t seem to have a lot to complain about.

Other statistical models are yet more confident in Clinton, however, variously putting her chances at 92 percent to 99 percent. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big difference, since people (wrongly) tend to perceive odds above 80 percent as sure things. But flip those numbers around, and instead of Clinton’s chances, consider Donald Trump’s. The New York Times’s Upshot model gives Trump an 8 percent chance of winning the election. Our models say a Trump presidency is about twice a likely as The Upshot does, putting his chances at 15 percent (polls-only) and 17 percent (polls-plus). And our models think Trump is about four times as likely to win the presidency as the Huffington Post Pollster model, which puts his chances at 4 percent.

So let me explain why our forecast is a bit more conservative than some of the others you might be seeing — and why you shouldn’t give up if you’re a Trump supporter, or assume you have it in the bag if you’re voting for Clinton.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump’s Campaign Just Launched A Live Nightly News Show, But don’t call it “Trump TV,” Nico Pitney, Oct. 24, 2016. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Monday began airing a live nightly video news program, fanning speculation that Trump may seek to capitalize on his supporters’ zeal by launching a media network after November’s election. “This is an effort to bring our message directly to you. You don’t have to take it through the media filter and the spin they put on it,” said Cliff Simms, the Trump adviser who co-hosted the program, which was broadcast on Facebook. “We plan to do this each and every night.”

Co-host Boris Epshteyn, a senior adviser to Trump, insisted the Trump-focused news show was not a test run for anything else. “The left-wing media’s even trying to spin this, believe it or not,” Epshteyn said. “They’re saying, well this is ‘Trump TV.’ That’s not what this is. This is our campaign, and most importantly, our candidate being out there and speaking directly to the voters.” Two weeks ago, the Financial Times reported that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, publisher of the New York Observer, had met with a boutique media deal-making firm about launching a television network.

AP via Washington Post, Former attorney general for Pennsylvania sentenced in perjury case, Staff report, Oct. 24, 2016. Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced Monday to 10 to 23 months in jail for illegally disclosing details from a grand jury investigation to embarrass a rival and lying about it under oath. Kane, 50, was also sentenced to eight years of probation by a judge in Montgomery County, Pa., who said Kane’s ego drove her to take down enemies and break the law. She resigned in August after her conviction on two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor charges.

Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said Kane assumed an “off with your heads” mentality as she ran the state’s top law enforcement agency. The judge called Kane a political “neophyte” who failed to make the transition from campaigner to public servant. She had been a stay-at-home mother and was a former assistant county prosecutor when she used her husband’s trucking fortune to run for statewide office in 2012. She quickly became a rising star in the state Democratic Party before her office devolved into turmoil.

OpEdNews, Why President Hillary Will Not Stop the Slaughter in Syria, Steve Weissman, Oct. 24, 2016. Hillary Clinton has pushed a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria since the early days of her campaign in the Democratic primaries. But over the last month her remarks have revealed why these measures have little chance of ending the slaughter in Syria, whether in Aleppo or elsewhere in the hideously ravaged country.

Horrific in the extreme, the medieval-like siege of Aleppo follows the modern logic of asymmetric warfare -- the rich and powerful have air forces while the rebels generally do not, though they are beginning to use drones. Like most mainstream American pols and pundits, Clinton failed to mention that the rebels -- armed and supported by the US, Qatar, and the Saudis -- have fired back, killed civilians, cut off the water supply, and done extensive damage to west Aleppo, which Assad's forces now hold. Nor did she admit that as many as 900 of the rebels "holding out" in east Aleppo were Hillary Clinton 2016 DNC speech via Wikipedia under DMCA  militants of the former Jabhat al-Nusra, which ostensibly separated from al-Qaeda in July and rebranded itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

 Wrapping herself in the holy cloth of humanitarianism, Clinton (photo at right from the Democratic National Convention via Wikipedia) has kept a tight lip about one of the more telling aspects of the campaign.

The White Helmets, who were loudly touted for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, turn out to have a highly suspect relationship with the jihadis, as the tireless Max Blumenthal recently documented. The White Helmets also played a central role in providing the heart-rending photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh and eyewitness testimony and other purported evidence that the Russians and/or Syrians bombed the UN's humanitarian aid convoy.

As most Western media have conveniently failed to report, a "former" British intelligence officer, James Le Mesurier, created and still runs the White Helmets operation, and most of the funding comes from USAID, the British Foreign Office, and a host of Western nations. Welcome to the world of humanitarian aid.

Clinton continues to play down the Saudi, Qatari, and covert parts of her plans for Syria. What she plays up is her focus on Vladimir Putin and the Russians. She does this to discredit Donald Trump as a Putin puppet, shamefully echoing America's long history of red-baiting. But even more disturbing, she is building public support for either a new Cold War with Russia, or a very hot one.

Unz Review, American Pravda: Breaching the Media Barrier, Ron Unz, Oct. 24, 2016. Ron Unz is a software developer and former publisher of The American Conservative Magazine. A couple of years ago, I launched my Unz Review, providing a wide range of different alternative perspectives, the vast majority of them totally excluded from the mainstream media. I’ve also published a number of articles in my own American Pravda series, focusing on the suspicious lapses and lacunae in our media narratives. The underlying political strategy behind these efforts may already be apparent, and I’ve sometimes suggested it here and there. But I finally decided I might as well explicitly outline the reasoning in a memo as provided below.

Groups advocating policies opposed by the American establishment should recognize that the greatest obstacle they face is usually the mainstream media. The mainstream media exists as a seamless whole, so weakening or discrediting the media in any particular area automatically reduces its influence everywhere else as well.
 
Reframe Vulnerable “Conspiracy Theories” as Effective “Media Criticism.”

Over the last few decades, the political establishment and its media allies have created a powerful intellectual defense against major criticism by investing considerable resources in stigmatizing the notion of so-called “conspiracy theories.” This harsh pejorative term is applied to any important analysis of events that sharply deviants from the officially-endorsed narrative, and implicitly suggests that the proponent is an disreputable fanatic, suffering from delusions, paranoia, or other forms of mental illness. Such ideological attacks often effectively destroy his credibility, allowing his actual arguments to be ignored. A once-innocuous phrase has become politically “weaponized.”

However, an effective means of circumventing this intellectual defense mechanism may be to adopt a meta-strategy of reframing such “conspiracy theories” as “media criticism.”

Oct. 23

Barack Obama, John Kerry, Susan Rice, Phil Gordon Nov. 22, 2013

Foreign News

Above, President Obama, John Kerry, Susan Rice, and (at left) Phil Gordon in a White House file photo Nov. 22, 2013

Washington Post, White House skepticism stalls plan to boost CIA-backed rebels in Syria, Greg Miller and Adam Entous​, Oct. 23, 2016. Officials said there are growing doubts about what the fighters can achieve because of Russia’s intervention, and President Obama now seems inclined to leave the fate of the CIA program, which has been the centerpiece of U.S. strategy, up to the next occupant of the White House.

As rebel-held sections of Aleppo crumbled under Russian bombing this month, the Obama administration was secretly weighing plans to rush more firepower to CIA-backed units in ­Syria.

American FlagThe proposal, which involved weapons that might help those forces defend themselves against Russian aircraft and artillery, made its way onto the agenda of a recent meeting President Obama held with his national security team.

And that’s as far as it got. Neither approved nor rejected, the plan was left in a state of ambiguity that U.S. officials said reflects growing administration skepticism about escalating a covert CIA program that has trained and armed thousands of Syrian fighters over the past three years.

The operation has served as the centerpiece of the U.S. strategy to press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. The proposed expansion of the agency program — dubbed “Plan B” because it was seen as a fallback for failed diplomatic efforts — still has supporters, including CIA Director John Brennan and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter. But even former ardent proponents, including Secretary of State John F. Kerry, have voiced skepticism about any escalation at this point. He and others fear that the new weaponry could end up killing Russian military personnel, triggering a confrontation with Moscow

One senior U.S. official said that it is time for a “ruthless” look at whether agency-supported fighters can still be considered moderate, and whether the program can accomplish anything beyond adding to the carnage in Syria. 

Washington Post, Will Hillary Clinton deliver on her promise to ramp up U.S. involvement in Syria? Will Clinton deliver on her promises about Syria? Josh Rogin, Throughout the campaign, Hillary Clinton has pledged to ramp up U.S. action not only to fight the Islamic State, but also to end the Syrian civil war. If she does what she’s promising, the risky effort could engulf the first year of her presidency and test the limits of the United States’ reduced influence in the region. The question is whether she will follow through. Inside the Clinton campaign, the battle over Clinton’s post-election Syria policy has already begun.

CBS News, Kremlin says all Syria must be liberated, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2016. The entire territory of Syria must be “liberated,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said in remarks televised Saturday, dismissing demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s departure as “thoughtless.” The Russian statement came as intense clashes were reported in northern Syria between Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters with Kurdish-led forces.

Russian SU-34The Syrian army command condemned the fresh offensive by Turkish troops inside Syria, describing it as “an occupation that will be dealt with by all available means.” The Turkish military intervened in the Syrian war in August this year under orders from Ankara to clear the border area of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces linked to Turkey’s own outlawed Kurdish insurgency. The Turkish government considers both to be terrorist groups. In the northern city of Aleppo, government forces shelled eastern rebel-held neighborhoods Saturday night marking an apparent end to a lull announced by Russia.

Russia’s Dmitry Peskov said Assad needs to stay in power to prevent the country from falling into the hands of jihadis. “There are just two options: Assad sitting in Damascus or the Nusra sitting in Damascus,” Peskov said in a reference to the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria that renamed itself Fatah al-Sham Front earlier this year. “And Assad must sit in Damascus to ensure a political settlement.”

The rebels rejected the offer to evacuate and no evacuations were seen along the corridors created by the Syrian government.

Political News

Hillary Clinton top donors (Washington Post collage Oct. 23, 2016)

Clockwise from top left: Donald Sussman, J.B. Pritzker, Cheryl Saban, Daniel Abraham, Fred Eychaner, George Soros, Haim Saban and James Simons (Washington Post collage graphic)

Washington Post, How mega-donors helped Clinton raise over $1 billion, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, Oct. 23, 2016. Determined not to fall behind in the money race early in the campaign, Hillary Clinton ramped up her appeals to rich donors — a group methodically cultivated over 40 years — and shrugged off advisers' concerns about the perception that she was too cozy with wealthy interests.

Chris KosterSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, Editorial: For Missouri governor, Koster's experience gives him the edge, Editorial Board, Oct. 23, 2016. The two major party candidates for Missouri governor could not be more different except for one quality: Both Republican Eric Greitens, 42, and Democrat Chris Koster, 52, are defined by a relentless, opportunistic streak of ambition.

At times, ambition has served them well. At other times, it has blinded them. Of the two, Koster (shown in an official photo) has proven most adept at converting ambition into a force for effective public service, which is why he receives this newspaper’s endorsement for governor.

Oct. 22

Democratic-Republican Campagne logosNew York Times, The Clinton and Trump Foundations Are Vastly Different. Here’s How, Jeremy Askkenas, Oct. 22, 2016. The Trump and Clinton campaigns have traded barbs and accusations about each other’s charitable foundations. The two foundations differ widely in size, purpose and the reach of their charitable work. A comparison of the two foundations, which differ widely in size, purpose and the reach of their charitable work, and the controversies that surround them.

Washington Post, Has Trump transformed America or just revealed it?  Marc Fisher​, Oct. 22, 2016. The GOP presidential nominee's ability to embrace — or manipulate — average Americans’ anxieties is inspiring Donald Trump and Mike Pence logomore raw and rough rhetoric in politics, darker and more somber popular music, and in TV, movies and other arts, an edgier, more nervous set of characters and themes. Some say Donald Trump’s success is the result of disorienting, displacing changes in the world beyond politics, in the technological revolution that has altered the way Americans relate to one another and in the arc of millions of work lives.

Washington Post, Buoyed by rising polls, Clinton shifts to a new target: the House and Senate, Philip Rucker, Ed O'Keefe and Mike DeBonis​, Oct. 22, 2016. Emboldened by Donald Trump’s troubles and polls Hillary Clinton Buttonpredicting an electoral-college landslide in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton is shifting her strategy to lift other Democrats. Her campaign is spending big, too: More than $100 million has been funneled to other Democrats from coast to coast.

Washington Post, Adult film actress accuses Trump of offering $10,000 to come alone to hotel tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006, Rosalind S. Helderman, Oct. 22, 2016. An adult film actress on Saturday accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or someone acting on his behalf of offering her $10,000 and the use of his private jet if she would agree to come alone to his hotel suite at night after a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006.

Huffington Post, Trump Uses Major Policy Speech To Threaten To Sue Sexual Assault Accusers, Sam Levine, Oct. 22, 2016. He also made a noticeable shift in his plan to make Mexico pay for a wall. Donald Trump pledged on Saturday to sue all of the women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault. The Republican presidential nominee made the vow during a planned policy speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a town from where Abraham Lincoln gave his celebrated address during the Civil War.

Trump’s address was billed as an outline of his first 100 days as president. But he opened by again complaining that the election was rigged against him and then attacked the several women who accused him of sexual assault this month. “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication,” Trump said. “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

Trump also said that the United States would pay for a wall with Mexico “with the full understanding” that the Latin American country would reimburse it for costs. It’s a small, but noticeable tweak in Trump’s signature campaign policy. He had previously simply said that Mexico would pay for the wall.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign said in a statement that the speech illuminated what a Trump State of the Union speech would be like. “Today, in what was billed as a major closing argument speech, Trump’s major new policy was to promise political and legal retribution against the women who have accused him of groping them,” said Christina Reynolds, the campaign’s deputy communications director.

Foreign News

Unz Review, Compare the Coverage of Mosul and East Aleppo and It Reveals a Lot, Patrick Cockburn, Oct. 22, 2016. In East Aleppo, some 250,000 civilians and 8,000 insurgents, are under attack by the Syrian Army allied to Shia paramilitaries from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon and supported by the Russian and Syrian air forces. The bombing of East Aleppo has rightly caused worldwide revulsion and condemnation.

But look at how differently the international media is treating a similar situation in Mosul, 300 miles east of Aleppo, where one million people and an estimated 5,000 ISISs fighters are being encircled by the Iraqi army fighting alongside Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia and Sunni paramilitaries and with massive support from a US-led air campaign. In the case of Mosul, unlike Aleppo, the defenders are to blame for endangering civilians by using them as human shields and preventing them leaving. In East Aleppo, fortunately, there are no human shields – though the UN says that half the civilian population wants to depart – but simply innocent victims of Russian savagery.

Bloomberg, U.S. Ambassador Tells Swiss Banks to Open Doors to Americans, Giles Broom and Allyson Versprille, Oct. 19, 2016. The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland wants more of the country’s 266 banks to Swiss Flagaccept American clients after onerous regulations and tax-evasion probes prompted many financial firms to shun them. Top banks UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, along with Corner Banca SA, from the Italian-speaking southern part of Switzerland, have introduced procedures for U.S. citizens. Still, it’s a challenge for many of the 20,000 American expatriates living in the country to open or keep an account, Ambassador Suzan LeVine said in a statement from the U.S. embassy in Bern on Wednesday.

The U.S. is the only Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nation that taxes citizens wherever they reside. U.S. expatriates have objected to jumping through hoops for banks’ compliance departments and paying costly lawyers’ fees to meet reporting requirements. Thousands of Americans living abroad have given up their passports in favor of other nationalities in protest of the U.S. stance on citizenship-based taxation.

Asset-disclosure rules under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, require banks to disclose information on U.S. account holders or impose withholding taxes. Swiss banks have suffered from a U.S. Justice Department investigation that’s reaped more than $5.5 billion in fines related to tax evasion by wealthy Americans with cross-border accounts.

Oct. 21

Political News

Bradley BirkenfeldDown With Tyranny, Devil’s Advocate Rings in a Bad Night for Bankers, Skip Kaltenheuser, Oct. 21, 2016. It was a long hard slog to publish Lucifer's Banker. Had Brad Birkenfeld managed to get his book out say, a year or so earlier, we might not be staring at the political train wreck we are now. It might have changed the political landscape, perhaps the standard bearers. Maybe even elevated different issues for the last lap beyond the cursory checklist now fed us. But I’m glad it’s arrived.

Bradley BerkenfeldThis book underscores every lament Bernie Sanders uttered about the gravity of the finance sector's black hole. There's ample material to make Washington insiders lose sleep, plenty to bring out loosely-defined authorities saying move along, nothing to see here. Above it all the central question floats like a banshee -- when a whistleblower revealed the largest systematic American tax fraud to surface, why was the only person to go to prison the whistleblower?

Birkenfeld is that whistleblower, logging long house arrest and thirty-one months of a forty-month sentence to a Federal penitentiary, with the added insult of a thirty-grand fine, never mind his legal expenses. His tale of DOJ's whistleblower smack-down, of its shooting the messenger, makes an entertaining read. But it ought to frighten the hell out of everyone. With dollops of irony, fright is likely the reason behind this whistleblower whacking, a warning to those who might raise curtains on the very rich and very powerful and very, very connected.

Birkenfeld worked for UBS in Switzerland as a private banker serving wealthy American clients. He went to jail on what seems a DOJ engineered Catch-22 that made him vulnerable to a charge of covering for a client, a Russian immigrant in California who hit it big in real estate. After Birkenfeld voluntarily approached the US government in 2007, DOJ sought to replace his whistle with a supersonic one no one could hear. It refused to give him the subpoena he requested that would protect him from prosecution under Swiss bank secrecy laws. Those laws once protected Germans from execution under the Third Reich for slipping money out of Germany. Now they serve darker purpose. Try to imagine the incredible weight of the money and power pushing out of Swiss vaults against DOJ's door.

Birkenfeld went to every other agency he could think of. He got the necessary subpoenas he needed and divulged accordingly, including on that client DOJ claimed he covered for. And he cued in the US Senate in a private hearing. But someone in DOJ couldn't take a joke, and they nabbed him as if what he'd already divulged was done in an alternate universe. Given the profile of the case, Birkenfeld has no doubts the hammer came down from on high.

If you'd like to hear the jaw-droppers from that Senate hearing - most of which were his answers to Senators’ questions, join the club. The government sealed it and refuses to provide Birkenfeld with a transcript of his testimony.

Plenty of black eyes for plenty of politicians, and in particular for the Department of Justice-- let's just lump DOJ with the politicians. This book shreds that agency's credibility, laying bare once again Eric Holder's real legacy-- smooches to banks. Sadly, it's a legacy he's spreading around, including to his former boss.

I interviewed Birkenfeld awhile back as a component for an essay on the revolving door, (my apologies to the editor for my slow pace). The first thing that rides in on Birkenfeld's earnest, down-home Boston accent is that he isn't someone easily intimidated. He knows the territory, remembers who did what and won't quit shoving his boulders up the hill until credit is given where it's due. Gold stars are not in the offing.

That was underscored at Birkenfeld's book party Tuesday night at the National Press Club. He does have an advantage few of the royally screwed enjoy. After he was released a new law brought him an IRS whistleblower award, $104 million before the tax man's knock. Why not? His revelations enabled the US Treasury to recover $15 billion in back taxes, fines and penalties. They also put in motion international investigations of offshore banking's many misdeeds, and juiced up reformers seeking tougher oversight. Impacts on Swiss private banks-- there are scads of such banks, all shapes and sizes-- include a 2013 tax treaty facilitating the exchange of tax data between countries. This put a hitch in Switzerland's offshore tax haven status that vacuumed money. And plenty of dirt. Alas, though trickier, Birkenfeld says the multitude of nefarious practices requiring secret accounts still have plenty of global options.

Washington Post, Trump first swept into the nation’s capital 40 years ago. It didn’t go well, Michael E. Miller and Michael Kranish, Oct. 21, 2016. As he was trying to sell D.C. on a new convention center in 1976, Trump’s father was briefly jailed for violations at an apartment complex in neighboring Prince George’s County.

In the fall of 1976, Fred Trump made a rare visit to a housing complex he owned in Seat Pleasant, Md. For months, Prince George’s County inspectors had complained of broken windows, rotted rain gutters and missing fire extinguishers at the 504-unit Gregory Estates. When the problems weren’t fixed, fed-up officials asked Trump to come down and meet in person.

The “meeting” however, was brief. As soon as the multimillionaire arrived, he was arrested and — to his outrage — briefly jailed. ​

Politico, Al Smith V: Trump 'crossed the line and took it a little too far' at Catholic roast, Nolan D. McCaskill, Oct. 21, 2016. The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner got “a little uncomfortable” Thursday Donald Trump button open mouthevening, Alfred E. Smith V said Friday. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both addressed the crowd at the annual roast and Catholic fundraiser, though the Republican presidential nominee was repeatedly booed for crossing the line.

At one point, Trump remarked that here Clinton “is tonight in public pretending not to hate Catholics,” perhaps drawing his loudest jeers of the night. “The room did get a little uncomfortable, yeah,” Smith said Friday during an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

“Like I said, you know, that line in a room full of predominantly Catholics, that didn’t go over very well.”

Chris ChristieAP via Washington Post, Christie aide on trial says she told him of traffic study, Michael Balsamo and Michael Catalini, Oct. 21, 2016. Republican Gov. Chris Christie (shown in an official photo) approved of a traffic study on the George Washington Bridge, his former deputy chief of staff testified Friday in her criminal trial, but federal prosecutors say it was actually a cover story for a political payback scheme designed to cause traffic jams.

Foreign News

Washington Post, Philippines’ Duterte called for a ‘separation’ from U.S. His trade minister is now backtracking, Emily Rauhala, Oct. 21, 2016. The Philippine president slings the mud, and envoys are left to clean up. That was quick. On Thursday night in Beijing, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for a military and economic "separation" from the United States. From now on, he told a crowd, it’s the Philippines, Russia and China "against the world."

Or not. On Friday, Duterte’s own trade minister, Ramon Lopez, sought to "clarify" the comment. “The president did not talk about separation,” he told CNN — apparently trying to finesse the word used by Duterte. “In terms of economic [ties], we are not stopping trade, investment with America,” he said.

SouthFront, Major Militant Stronghold near Damascus Surrenders to Govt Forces, Staff report, Oct. 21, 2016. Russia has decided to extend the humanitarian pause around Aleppo for another 24 hours, the Russian defense minister said. The move was supported by the Syrian government. Meanwhile, US-backed oppositioneers shelled humanitarian corridors opened in eastern Aleppo for civilians that want to leave the city. In total, militants killed 14 local officials and wounded three Russian officers on the first day of the pause. There is no confirmed information about the casualties among locals. After the end of the humanitarian pause in the Syrian city of Aleppo, Moscow and Damascus will continue its military operations in Aleppo.

The Syrian Defense Ministry announced Thursday that it will down any Turkish warplane that enters Syrian airspace without approval from Damascus. The announcement followed intense Turksih air strike on Kurdish YPG units in northern Aleppo that allegedly killed some 200 YPG fighters. Firefights are ongoing between Turkish-backed militants and the Kurdish YPG in the area of Tell Rifaat. Both sides are seeking to set a foothold for advance on the strategic ISIS-controlled town of Al-Bab.

Jaish Al-Islam allegedly reached an agreement with the government and will surrender the strategic town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. These reports appeared amid a series of setbacks suffered by the militants in the region. The Syrian army is now deployed in a striking distance from the town. The situation with the alleged deal will become clear in coming days.

Washington Post, South Africa says it will quit the International Criminal Court, Kevin Sieff and Krista Mahr, Oct. 21, 2016. South Africa announced Friday that it plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, a major blow to an institution that has struggled to fulfill its role as a global seat of judgment for war crimes and other atrocities.

South Africa’s departure is particularly striking given that it became a symbol of justice and reconciliation with the election of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela as president more than two decades ago. Its announcement is a reflection of rising antagonism toward the court across sub-Saharan Africa.
South Africa will join more than two dozen countries that are not members of the court, including the United States. The Pentagon has long been concerned that the international war-crimes court could target U.S. military personnel around the world.

Oct. 20

Political News

Huffington Post, Donald Trump: ‘I Will Accept The Results Of This Election ... If I Win,’ Christina Wilkie, Oct. 20, 2016. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opened a rally on Thursday by mocking widespread concerns that he may not accept the results of November’s presidential election.

“Ladies and gentleman, I wanna make a major announcement today,” Trump told a rowdy crowd in Delaware, Ohio. “I would like to promise and pledge, to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election,” he paused, “If I win.”

The crowd went wild.

Washington Post, Michelle Obama, once a reluctant campaigner, emerges as Clinton’s most potent surrogate, Krissah Thompson, Oct. 20, 2016. The Democratic nominee has embraced the first lady’s role on the trail, and Obama has demonstrated an ability to do what Hillary Clinton herself has struggled with for much of her campaign: explain why voters should vote for her.

Washington Post, N.H. poll shows Ayotte trailing by 8 points in race that could shift Senate to Democrats, Kelsey Snell​, Oct. 20, 2016. Her sharp decline in support is the latest sign that the unpopularity of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump could put Republican control in Congress in serious jeopardy.

OpEdNews, Real Reason Trump's Being Treated Like He's Crazy for Refusing to Accept Election Results, Rob Kall, Oct. 20, 2016. Rob Kall, a progressive, is founder and publisher of OpEdNews. The mainstream media and the duopoly corporate parties-- both Republican and Democratic -- have gone into full force attack on Donald Trump for his refusal to accept the election results, which he has repeatedly said are rigged. It's time a candidate who has been the victim of a rigged election speaks up.

We know, through Wikileaks, that Hillary and the Clinton campaign rigged, in many ways, the Democratic primary, using the State Department to influence the FBI, lying and deceiving within the DNC, collaborating with the mainstream media. Trump has every reason to believe that the Clinton campaign will do all it can to rig the election.

In reality, Trump has done much to sabotage his campaign, perhaps not intentionally, but because he is a narcissistic who is unable to control his impulses. But his message that he does not trust the election is not a bad one for democracy. It is a good one. It is getting millions of people to look more closely at the election system and process. The risk of corruption of electronic voting, with the inability to do a verifiable recount is very real, yet the mainstream media have literally mocked those who raise the concern as conspiracy theorists. Chuck Todd, current host for Meet The Press, is one of the worst.

It's hard to believe that the mainstream media are so obtuse or stupid to ignore the obviousness of the problem of an electronic voting system. That suggests that their indignance, their outrage is a drama aimed at embarrassing, intimidating and making people who are inclined to believe Trump feel foolish.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at third debate in Las Vegas Oct. 19, 2016 New York Post, Donald Trump just ceded the presidency to Hillary Clinton, John Podhoretz, Oct. 20, 2016. John Podhoretz is a longtime conservative editor and pundit who writes for the Murdoch-owned tabloid New York Post. An hour and 18 minutes into Wednesday night’s debate, Donald Trump effectively acknowledged his coming defeat. Trump told moderator Chris Wallace he will let us all know on election night whether he is going to accept the results of the Nov. 8 balloting. It was a shocking and cravenly irresponsible thing to say, the sort of thing that threatens to rend our national fabric, and for that alone, Trump has earned his place in the history of American ignominy.

Trump will make that phone call on Nov. 8 or he won’t, and he will or won’t make that speech in which he tells his supporters, “I just congratulated Hillary on becoming the next president and we must all come together.” There’s no telling. He can spend the rest of his life never conceding, and she’s still going to be the 45th president of the United States.

Politico, Trump draws boos at Catholic dinner, Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 20, 2016. The presidential nominees trade barbs at a Manhattan charity event, but some say Trump crossed line.

Red State, Five Takeaways From The Final Presidential Debate, Jay Caruso, Oct. 20, 2016. Of the three presidential debates, it was the best one. That doesn't necessarily mean it was good. It just wasn't as bad as the two previous debates, making it the best. Donald Trump, as he did in the first debate, seemed to do very well in the first 20-25 minutes.That said, there was one moment where I believe Donald Trump blew it. And badly. Read on. Here are my five takeaways from the final presidential debate: 1) When Donald Trump refused to say he'd accept the results of the election, a huge smile broke out across Hillary's face. She knew. That he disagreed with his running mate and his daughter will only exacerbate the issue. That was an unforced error, and he is going to pay dearly for it.

Washington Post, Trump reveals fragility at the heart of American democracy, Michael Gerson, Oct. 20, 2016. Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, has opposed the Donald Trump campaign since before the first GOP primaries. When it comes to the issues any American president would face, Trump is a shockingly ignorant man. He can state a position on the Second Amendment or Obamacare, but Donald Trump 2016 buttonhe is unprepared to make actual arguments. He bluffs through questions on campaign finance or foreign policy (“Mosul is so sad”) as though the dog really did eat his homework.

With the final debate over, two points are particularly evident. First, a serious GOP candidate would probably be winning this election, which was forfeited the moment Trump became the nominee.

And second, an authoritarian populist with serious abilities might have a disturbingly large audience in 21st-century America. Imagine a Trump-like figure with the political skills of Bill Clinton or Tony Blair, feeding and riding the backlash against rapid economic and social change. It is the first time in my political lifetime that I have seen fragility at the heart of American democracy. And that glimpse should shock us back to a more civil and responsible politics.

Washington Post, Trump turned a charity dinner into a screed against Clinton, Aaron Blake​, Oct. 20, 2016. Speaking first at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York City, Donald Trump took the opportunity to unleash a torrent of very not-light-hearted jokes about Hillary Clinton. By the end, Trump was getting booed regularly.

Washington Post, Woman says Trump groped her while attending U.S. Open tennis tourney in 1998, Julie Zauzmer and Rosalind S. Helderman, Oct. 20, 2016. Another woman came forward Thursday to accuse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of inappropriate physical contact, alleging that Trump unexpectedly put his arm around her and touched her breast while attending the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1998. Karena Virginia, who was 27 at the time, said she had attended a match with a group of doctors while working as a pharmaceutical representative. Her companions had left, and she was waiting alone outside the tennis complex to be picked up by a car service when she encountered Trump. She had never met the celebrity businessman but said he immediately started making comments about her appearance to a group of men.

“Look at her legs,” she recalled him saying before approaching her, wrapping his arm around her and then reaching down to her breast. “Don’t you know who I am?” she said he asked. She said the encounter ended moments later when her car arrived.

Trump has called the allegations “100 percent fabricated and made-up charges,” attacking some accusers for their appearance and alleging that the media are conspiring with Clinton to “poison the minds of the American voter.”

Donald Trump New York Daily News front pages

A collage of New York Daily News front pages covering the Trump camapign. The Daily News, founded in 1919, became the country's first successful tabloid and for many years the biggest-selling newspaper.

New York Daily News, Editorial Endorsement: Bury Trump in a Landslide, Editorial board, Oct. 20, 2016. Donald Trump is ending his campaign in an ever more inflammatory and destructive assault on American democracy. The end of his presidential dreams must come under an avalanche of anti-Trump votes on Nov. 8.

New Yorker, Ivanka Trump Fights to Save the Brand, Sheelah Kolhatkar, Oct. 20, 2016. "I hate the word ‘surrogate.’ What does that mean?” Ivanka Trump said on a stage on Wednesday morning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel, California. Ivanka was appearing at the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference, an annual gathering of some of the most accomplished women in corporate America. She had spoken at the conference before, but this year the stop took on an obviously larger significance. Rather than simply reaffirming her celebrity presence among the female entrepreneurs and C.E.O.s of Fortune 500 companies in attendance, Ivanka was trying to salvage her brand, which is built around young professional women and working mothers, two groups who appear to be recoiling from her father’s Presidential candidacy in large numbers.

There are a few people surrounding Donald Trump who, for their own reasons, have chosen to step in front of the bus of his campaign — his wife, Melania, for one, and even Rudy Giuliani. They arguably didn’t have much to lose, and stood to gain significantly, if things had worked out. The one person who does appear to have a great deal at stake in terms of reputation and personal ambition in Trump’s flame-throwing final stand is Ivanka Trump.

Foreign News

SouthFront, Residents Protest in Aleppo City Demanding Militants Let Them Leave, Staff report, Oct. 20, 2016. Hundreds Aleppo residents reportedly took to the streets, demanding the militants to let them leave the city, the Russian state-run news agency ‘RIA Novosty’  reported Thursday, citing a local source.

An 11-hour humanitarian pause came into effect in Aleppo city earlier today. Six corridors were open for civilians that  want to leave the city. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorists opened fire on thousands of people that had attempted to use the corridors. “People want to leave, we are tired of war. Hundreds of people have gathered in Hananu to demand that militants let us go,” RIA Novosty quoted the source as saying. The humanitarian pause in Aleppo will last until 7:00 p.m. local time (16:00 GMT).

Washington Post, Washington’s foreign policy elite breaks with Obama over Syrian bloodshed, Greg Jaffe, Oct. 20, 2016. There is one corner of Washington where Donald Trump’s scorched-earth presidential campaign is treated as a mere distraction and where bipartisanship reigns. In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief.

The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House. The bipartisan nature of the recent recommendations, coming at a time when the country has never been more polarized, reflect a remarkable consensus among the foreign policy elite.

The proposed military measures include calls for safe zones to protect moderate rebels from Syrian and Russian forces. Most of the studies propose limited American airstrikes with cruise missiles to punish Assad if he continues to attack civilians with barrel bombs, as is currently happening in besieged Aleppo. So far, Obama has staunchly resisted any military action against the Assad regime.

Oct. 19

Political News

Washington Post, Trump refuses to say whether he’ll accept election results, Jose A. DelReal and David A. Fahrenthold​, Oct. 19, 2016. ‘I will tell you at the time,’ Trump says, promising ‘suspense.’ Donald Trump’s startling break with American democratic tradition was the most striking moment of his final debate with Hillary Clinton. Clinton blasted Trump’s remark as a “horrifying” comment. The candidates also accused each other of being puppets of Russia and sparred over their charitable foundations.

Washington Post, Winners and losers from the final debate, Chris Cillizza, Oct. 19, 2016. It was the best debate performance from either candidate. But Donald Trump's signature moment was a disaster — and it’s the only thing people will be talking about.

​Winners:

    • Hillary Clinton: This was the Democratic nominee's best debate performance.
    • Vladimir PutinChris Wallace: Wallace was the best moderator of the four debates -- three presidential, one vice presidential.
    • Vladimir Putin: The Russian leader (shown in a file photo) had to be thrilled about the amount of airtime he and his country received in the debate.
    • David Fahrenthold: The WaPo [Washington Post] reporter who has broken every piece of news about the Trump Foundation didn't get mentioned by name during the debate but he was all over it.

Losers

    • Donald Trump: Top to bottom, this as Trump's most consistent and best debate. But, it wasn't a good debate for him. Not at all. His signature moment -- and the defining moment of the entire debate -- came when he refused to say he would concede if the election results showed he had lost. Trump's I'll-just-wait-and-see answer was a total disaster and will be the only thing people are talking about coming out of the debate.
    • Puppets: There hasn't been this much conversation about puppets in a presidential debate since, well, ever.

Legal Schnauzer, Missouri Democrat Jason Kander has violated multiple laws while taking lead over Roy Blunt in key race to control U.S. Senate, newly released documents show, Roger Shuler, Oct. 19, 2016. A candidate in one of the nation's most-watched 2016 U.S. Senate races engaged in fund-raising fraud, theft by deceit of more than $2 million, and other campaign violations, according to documents that an anonymous citizens' group has compiled.

Jason KanderDemocrat Jason Kander (shown in a file photo) is on the verge of what one newspaper calls an "astonishing upset" of Republican incumbent Roy Blunt in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri. The outcome of the race could help decide which party controls the Senate, beginning in January 2017.

A 127-page document called The Kander Memo, dated September 20 and distributed by a group of Missouri citizens to at least seven government oversight bodies, provides extensive evidence that Kander and his wife, Diana Kagan Kander, have violated multiple federal and state criminal laws.

Less than one week ago, Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske, wrote that Kander stood "on the brink of an astonishing upset" of Blunt, who has held the Senate seat for six years and represented Missouri's 7th Congressional District for 14 years prior to that. Nate Silver, of fivethirtyeight.com, now projects Kander to win the race, with an almost 60 percent likelihood of victory.

U.S. Supreme Court Eight Members 2016

Washington Post, Supreme Court will be a focus of final Trump-Clinton debate, James Hohmann, Oct. 19, 2016. The Supreme Court is one of six main topics that will be covered during tonight’s presidential debate at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. The topic took on new significance this week when John McCain boasted during a radio interview that Republicans would automatically oppose whomever Hillary Clinton nominates.

Democrats are now favored to win the Senate majority. Even if they run the table, however, they’ll only control around 53 seats. That is nowhere near filibuster proof. The question then becomes: Which Republicans would cross over to vote for a President Clinton’s SCOTUS picks? Could a Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cobble together 60 votes?

Or does he invoke the nuclear option and change the rules to allow Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority? Going nuclear will probably be the easier course, both politically and procedurally, especially because the Republican blockade of Garland has cost GOP leaders much of their moral standing to oppose such a gambit.

The Intercept, Is Disclosure of Podesta’s Emails a Step Too Far? A Conversation With Naomi Klein, Glenn Greenwald, Oct. 19, 2016. Some news organizations, including The Intercept, have devoted substantial resources to reporting on the newsworthy aspects of the archive of emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that was published last week by WikiLeaks. The author and activist Naomi Klein believes there are serious threats to personal privacy and other critical political values posed by hacks of this sort, particularly when accompanied by the indiscriminate publication of someone’s personal emails.

The fact that the individual whose emails were hacked wields significant power may mitigate some of those concerns, but, she believes, it does not remotely obviate them. Earlier this week, Klein and I discussed her views and concerns about these issues. The discussion has been lightly edited into a 30-minute podcast, which you can listen to on the player above. A transcript is also provided. Klein, invariably, is extremely thoughtful and insightful, and so I believe the discussion is well worth listening to. This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.

 

Donald and Melania TrumpDonald and Melania Trump, shown in a file photo

Washington Post, Maryland blogger fires back at Melania Trump defamation lawsuit, Dan Morse, Oct. 19, 2016. A Maryland blogger sued by Melania Trump for defamation has asked a judge to dismiss the action, which he described as an attempt to curb his ability to speak out about the potential first lady. Webster Tarpley of Gaithersburg, who operates tarpley.net, also asserted the lawsuit was brought in bad faith because it was filed after he had complied with a request from Melania Trump to retract an Aug. 2 post he’d written and to apologize for writing it.

Melania Trump Twitter photoTarpley’s attorneys filed the motion to dismiss the suit last week, according to Montgomery County Circuit Court records. Trump’s attorneys have yet to respond in court, and could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. On Aug. 2, Tarpley wrote that there were rumors that Trump had suffered a “breakdown” following accusations she’d plagiarized portions of her convention speech. Tarpley also wrote that Melania Trump [shown at left in her Twitter photo] was “reportedly obsessed by fear” over possible revelations that she allegedly once worked as a high-end escort, according to court records.

Another publication — the Daily Mail — also wrote about purported escort work. In a mid-August article, the British tabloid wrote about accounts that Trump worked as an escort at a gentleman’s club in Milan before moving to New York.

Attorneys for Melania Trump launched a strong counter attack, filing the lawsuit against Tarpley and the Daily Mail in Montgomery County. They had standing to bring the case in that venue because Tarpley lives there and the Daily Mail conducts business in Maryland, according to court records.

Webster TarpleyTarpley’s request to dismiss the lawsuit was reported Tuesday by law.com. Through his attorneys, Tarpley said the actions by Melania Trump’s lawyers amounted to a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” often known as a “SLAPP suit.”

“The lawsuit has been brought in bad faith ... because it was filed after Mr. Tarpley immediately complied with Mrs. Trump’s request to retract the August 2, 2016, article and apologize,” wrote one of Tarpley’s attorneys, Danielle D. Giroux.

[Editor's Note: Dr. Webster Tarpley, shown in a file photo at right, is an author, historian and broadcast commentator who has described Donald Trump for more than a year as a fascist whose candidacy would destroy the Republican Party by splitting its aggrieved base from its elite pro-war, pro-globalist leadership.]

The motion by Tarpley also alleges that Trump’s lawyers failed to state a claim of defamation. Among those arguments: “The allegedly defamatory statements are neither actionable nor defamatory;” and “Mrs. Trump is a public figure and has not alleged facts sufficient to establish actual malice.”

Washington Post, Groping allegations, emails expected to be aired at final debate, Jose A. DelReal and Abby Phillip, ​Oct. 19, 2016. Donald Trump has an opportunity to stabilize his damaged campaign and refute claims that he is unfit for office. Hillary Clinton will try to provide a positive vision amid an election season often consumed by her opponent’s controversial rhetoric.

Vanity Fair, Bad Blood? Donald Trump and Roger Ailes Reportedly No Longer Speak, Emily Jane Fox, Oct. 19, 2016. The G.O.P. nominee and former cable news king, longtime friends, have reportedly had a falling out in the midst of the campaign. With less than three weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump is dipping in the polls and struggling to get out of a dismal news cycle focused on allegations of sexual assault and a damning audio recording that caught him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.

Author Gloria Browne-Marshall Noel St. John photo Oct. 18, 2016

Author Gloria J. Browne-Marshall told uninspired voters to exercise their power at the polls at an Oct. 18 National Press Club Book Rap (Noel St. John photo)

National Press Club, Voting rights advocate, author urges uninspired electorate to get to the polls, Oct. 19, 2016. Gloria J. Browne-Marshall has a message for all the undecided voters out there who complain they are not inspired by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump: Take a lesson from African-American men who voted in 1870 and exercise your power. African-Americans “voted in 1870,” Browne-Marshall said Oct. 18 at a National Press Club Book Rap. “Do you think there was anyone there who cared about the African-American voice?”

The power of voting is the underlying message of Browne-Marshall’s new book The Voting Rights War: The NAACP and the Ongoing Fight for Justice. The book is a history told though battles minorities fought for the right to be represented in the United States. Browne-Marshall, a member of the Club's Book & Author Committee, said she knew she had to write the book at the end of President Barack Obama’s second term to stir voters into heading to the polls, even though the 2016 candidates lack Obama’s charisma.

But Browne-Marshall also wants the book to make people aware that millions of Americans will not be able to cast a vote on Nov 8.

While poll taxes paid to sheriffs and literacy tests are a thing of the past, new policies have replaced them, she said. Obtaining a voter ID card means taking a day off of work many can’t afford, and millions more are barred from the voting booth by a felony conviction for which they already served time. “Here’s the question we have in this election,” Browne-Marshall said. “We are the last standing superpower of the 20th Century … and we want to stand at the top of the pyramid and dictate to others what a democracy is. And yet we have millions of people who are not allowed to vote.”

Browne-Marshall, a former civil rights attorney with the NAACP and a playwright, passionately presented America’s history of voter disenfranchisement, starting with the first Africans to land in America in 1619 -- a year before the Mayflower.

Washington Post, Two Democratic operatives leave jobs after sting by conservative activist, David Weigel, Oct. 19, 2016. The departures of Scott Foval and Robert Creamer came after 36 hours of coverage, led by conservative and social media, for James O'Keefe's video series “Rigging the Election.” Scott Foval and Robert Creamer, two little-known but influential Democratic political operatives, have left their jobs after video investigations by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas Action found them entertaining dark notions about how to win elections. Foval was laid off Monday by Americans United for Change, where he had been national field director; Creamer announced Tuesday night that he was “stepping back” from the work he was doing for the unified Democratic campaign for Hillary Clinton.

The moves came after 36 hours of coverage, led by conservative and social media, for O'Keefe's video series “Rigging the Election.” In them, Foval is filmed telling hidden-camera-toting journalists about how they have disrupted Republican events. Foval also goes on at length about how an organization might cover up in-person voter fraud. In another Tuesday night statement, the Creamer-founded Democracy Partners, which used Foval as a contractor, denounced both Project Veritas and the statements caught on camera.

Around the Nation

RT, UBS Whistleblower Tells all in New Book, Thom Hartmann interviews Bradley C. Birkenfeld, Oct. 19, 2016 (video). "The problem is the U.S. Department of Justice is corrupt," said Birkenfeld, author of the Bradley Berkenfeldnew Lucifer’s Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy.

Wikipedia: Bradley Charles Birkenfeld, 51, is an American banker and whistleblower whose disclosures to the United States government led to a massive fraud investigation against the Swiss bank UBS and other banks that had enabled tax evasion by U.S. taxpayers. In February 2009, as a result of the information he gave U.S. authorities, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had reached a deferred prosecution agreement with UBS that resulted in a $780 million fine and the release of previously privileged information on American tax evaders. As a result of the financial recoveries facilitated by his whistleblowing, Birkenfeld received a $104 million award from the IRS Whistleblower Office in September 2012.

The record-breaking whistleblowing award came less than six weeks after Birkenfeld had been paroled from prison, where he had been incarcerated for abetting tax evasion by one of his clients. Despite prosecutors recommending a lighter sentence due to his ongoing cooperation with federal authorities, in August 2009, Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined $30,000. Many advocacy groups from around the world criticized Birkenfeld's prosecution and sentence on the grounds that it would discourage financial industry whistleblowers. Birkenfeld was released from prison to a halfway house in New Hampshire on August 1, 2012 and was released and put on probation on November 29, 2012.

The erosion of Switzerland's fabled bank secrecy that began when Switzerland amended its federal banking law in 2009 in the wake of the UBS scandal, a cycle that culminated when Switzerland officially signed the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters on 15 October 2013, began with Birkenfeld's revelations. Signing the convention, an international tax treaty with nearly 60 signatories that facilitates the exchange of tax data between countries, represents a rollback of Switzerland's status as a tax haven for offshore assets.

The Swiss media credit Birkenfeld's act with effecting a sea change in Swiss banking. After Birkenfeld's award, the Swiss newspaper Blick claimed, “Birkenfeld was a blessing for the Swiss financial industry,” in that his revelations helped accelerate the industry's transition away from its reliance on “dirty” money by dooming the bank secrecy laws that enabled tax evasion.

Birkenfeld has compared the Swiss banking industry with gangsters. "In essence, bank secrecy is analogous to criminal racketeering — and the Swiss government, along with every Swiss private banker, is a co-conspirator."

Birkenfeld’s key role as a financial industry whistleblower was recognized by Tax Analysts, a nonprofit organization that provides news and analysis to financial officers and tax accountants, when it declared him its 2009 Person of the Year. Calling him “the Benedict Arnold of the private banking industry,” Tax Analysts said that he “single-handedly” brought about serious changes to the global tax system through his revelations about tax evasion that caused governments to go after tax cheats.

Corporate Crime Reporter, Bradley Birkenfeld on Corporate Crime in the USA, Russell Mokhiber, Oct. 18, 2016. Bradley Birkenfeld held a book launch party at the National Press Club tonight. And it is telling that he invited some of the nation’s top whistleblowers — including John Kiriakou, who spent two years in prison — to be his guests. One of the ironies that was not lost on anyone in the room is that increasingly, it’s not corporate executives but whistleblowers who are doing jail time.

Birkenfeld himself blew the whistle on his employer, the giant Swiss bank UBS, where the rich and famous stashed their millions in numbered accounts to evade U.S. tax authorities. Guess who went to jail? Birkenfeld.

A copy of Birkenfeld’s book — Lucifer’s Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy (Greenleaf, 2016) — was given to each guest at the book launch. And tucked inside was a book mark — a laminated copy of the check that Birkenfeld got from the U.S. government for helping recover over $15 billion from American tax cheats. The government paid Birkenfeld $104 million as a bounty, but the check is made out to Birkenfeld in the amount of $75 million. (Why minus $29 million? Taxes.)

This is perhaps one of the best corporate crime books ever written. And the reason is that it clearly exposes our system of no fault corporate crime. Deferred prosecutions. Non prosecutions. Neither admit nor deny consent decrees. Executives rarely sent to jail. Just have the corporation write a check. Thank you.

Birkenfeld exposes the perverse outcomes of that system at almost every turn. It’s not just that whistleblowers are doing prison time and corporate executives are not. I’m in Washington and I like this book because it exposes the system of no fault corporate crime enforcement. But a lot of people in Washington are not going to like this book.

WGBH News (Boston), DiMasi Agonistes: Cruelty In 'The House of Pain' As The Slow Murder Of Sal DiMasi Continues, Harvey Silverglate (shown at left in a file photo), Oct. 19, 2016. (Note: This site's editor served as Judge Wolf's law clerk in Harvey SilverglateBoston from 1990-91 but has nothing to do with this case.) A protracted life-and-death struggle continues to be played out in the tastefully-appointed, clean, well-lighted courtroom of United States District Judge Mark L. Wolf, located in the impressive waterfront federal courthouse that we criminal defense lawyers have long-dubbed “the house of pain.” Judge Wolf is returning his attention to the fate of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore “Sal” DiMasi, in a long-running drama that will determine whether the 2011 corruption conviction that landed DiMasi in prison to serve an eight-year sentence will turn out to be, in effect, a life sentence, given DiMasi’s diagnosis and inadequate in-prison medical treatment for cancer of the tongue, prostate and esophagus and related ailments.

Since DiMasi was diagnosed with this aggressive form of cancer in April 2012, his family, led by his indefatigable wife Deborah (herself suffering from cancer), have been pleading with the office of United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz to join in petitioning Judge Wolf to terminate DiMasi’s incarceration so that he might return home, seek medical care of his choosing, and be with his loved ones for his remaining days. Ortiz’ assent to such a petition to Wolf would be necessary under federal law that requires the government’s assent so that a judge, this late in the game, can exercise his discretion to modify the sentence that he earlier imposed.
 
Judge Wolf’s initial reaction to the petition was to question DiMasi’s securing such high-powered legal assistance, including the assent of the notoriously hard-nosed U. S. Attorney. He issued an interim eight-page order on October 16th suggesting his concern that one might see DiMasi, the most powerful state official during his speakership and still the beneficiary of considerable support as well as sympathy, as getting special treatment. Wolf noted that many less well-connected federal prisoners with serious illnesses remain in prison with few of them ever benefitting from the so-called “compassionate release” program under which DiMasi’s request was brought. “The question,” Judge Wolf suggested that he wants the parties to answer, is “whether a reduction of sentence would reasonably be viewed as a form of unwarranted disparity based on power or privilege, which would injure respect for the law, a relevant…factor the court is required to consider.”
 
Wolf, in suggesting the possibility (or at least the appearance) that the former Speaker was being given special treatment, demonstrates that he failed to read my March 7, 2013 “Freedom Watch” column in The Boston Phoenix bearing the headline “DiMasi Agonistes and the Federal ‘Justice’ System: Enhanced Cooperation.” In that column, I reported, in the context of controversial revelations of federal officials’ engaging in water-boarding and other forms of torture of captives in the “war on terror” launched after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that federal prosecutors were engaged in veritable torture of DiMasi in an effort – futile in the end – to get him to confirm their suspicion, or more likely their imagined scenario, as to who else on Beacon Hill might qualify for the feds’ targeting for prosecution in the Probation Department patronage scandal.

Foreign News

Global Research, Video: Interview of Syria’s First Lady Asma Al-Assad, Staff report, Oct. 19, 2016. Syria’s First Lady, Asma al-Assad delivers her first public interview with foreign media. We bring to the attention of Global Research readers her interview with Russia’s Channel 24 TV. It is important that Americans across the land take cognizance of the voice of Syria’s First Lady, acknowledge her humanitarian mandate and commitment outside the realm of mainstream media propaganda. While Obama and the US media have persistently described the war in Syria as the result of sectarian conflicts opposing the Allawite minority and the Sunni majority, they fail to acknowledge that the First Lady Asma Al Assad is Sunni.

Bloomberg, U.S. Ambassador Tells Swiss Banks to Open Doors to Americans, Giles Broom, Oct. 19, 2016. The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland wants more of the country’s 266 banks to accept American clients after onerous regulations and tax-evasion probes prompted many financial firms to shun them.

Washington Post, Ecuador unplugs WikiLeaks founder, says hacked emails have had ‘major impact’ on U.S. elections, Nick Miroff, Oct. 19, 2016. WikiLeaks in recent weeks has published intercepted emails Julian Assange Indicterbetween staffers of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that her opponents have used to depict her as beholden to Wall Street banks. The government of Ecuador has directed its embassy in London to cut off the Internet access of long-term guest Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks shown at right, saying the organization’s recent document releases have had a “major impact” on the U.S. presidential election.

A statement by Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that Assange’s access to communications would be “temporarily restricted” at the country’s embassy in Britain, where the WikiLeaks founder has been living since 2012.

Oct. 18

Foreign News

Asma Assad (Russia24 TV)Guardian, Syria's first lady, Asma al-Assad, says she rejected offers of asylum, Kareem Shaheen, Oct. 18, 2016. In rare interview, Syrian president’s wife tells Russia 24: ‘I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought of being anywhere else.’ Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad (shown in a Russia 24 photo), has said that she rejected offers of asylum from opponents of her husband, Bashar, in her first interview in several years.

“I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought of being anywhere else at all,” the former investment banker told the Russian state-backed television channel Russia 24.

Her last major media appearance was a glowing 2011 profile in Vogue, titled A Rose in the Desert, that praised the Assad family as “wildly democratic” and lauded their reforms in Syria, before the magazine took down the article and erased its online presence as the violence worsened.

The daughter of a former diplomat and a Syrian Harley Street cardiologist, she was raised as a secular Muslim and spoke Arabic at home, but attended a Church of England school in west London, where fellow pupils knew her as Emma. After the private Queen’s College girl’s school in Marylebone and King’s College London, where she studied computer science, she embarked on a brief career as a banker with JP Morgan in London and New York.

She married Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, in December 2000 and has stood alongside him as hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. Her public role in recent months has centred around comforting the families of soldiers who were killed battling the insurgency.

SouthFront, Overview of Military Situation in Aleppo City, Staff report, Oct. 18, 2016. Russian and Syrian military scheduled a humanitarian pause in Aleppo city for Thursday. The pause will be aimed to allow passage to civilians and the withdrawal of militants through eight corridors: Two corridors will be created for the withdrawal of the militants; Six corridors will be opened for the evacuation of civilians.

Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, has also announced that the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force are ceasing airstrikes against militants in Aleppo city for 48 hours, ahead of the humanitarian pause that will start on October 20. The Russian envoy to the UN said that Al-Nusra Front militants must take a chance to leave the city voluntarily or they will be annihilated. According to the UK’s Foreign Office, from 10,000 to 12,000 of the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ remain in Aleppo.

Related report: Terrorists Publicly Execute Residents Attempting to Flee Aleppo, Al-Nusra terrorists carry out public executions of local residents trying to leave the eastern districts of Aleppo. 

Political News

Washington Post, Rubio buffeted by Trump headwinds in Florida, James Hohmann, Oct. 18, 2016. Marco Rubio did not want to sound robotic during last night’s Florida Senate debate in Orlando. His repetition Marco Rubio Buttonof the same talking point, like a malfunctioning machine, doomed him on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. He could not make that mistake twice.

So the Republican carefully rehearsed several phrases to express disagreement and unease with Donald Trump — while simultaneously explaining why he continues to support him for president. This has been an awkward balancing act ever since Rubio decided to run for reelection despite promising not to, and the bottom falling out from underneath Trump’s candidacy has only added a fresh sense of urgency.

Rubio has led in every public poll since the summer, but his lead has been persistently narrow. Top Republicans fear he could get wiped out if an anti-Trump wave materializes during the next three weeks. But Rubio also knows, in a tight race, he cannot afford to alienate core supporters of Trump, who beat him by 19 points in his home state primary this March.

RealClearPolitics, Blunt, Bayh Face Similar Attacks in Senate Races, James Arkin, Oct. 18, 2016. Two candidates in critical races that could determine control of the Senate are being attacked as Washington insiders who have closer ties to lobbyists than to their home states. But the attacks aren’t partisan: One’s a Democrat trying to make a comeback in a GOP-leaning state, and the other’s a longtime Republican in a red state facing the toughest race of his career. In Missouri, Democrat Jason Kander is surging against Republican Roy Blunt, focusing much of his fire on the incumbent’s longtime political career and the fact that his wife and children are registered lobbyists.

Fidel Castro 1959 at National Press Club

Fidel Castro speaking at the Club in 1959

National Press Club, Library of Congress makes available past NPC luncheon recordings, Gil Klein, Oct. 18, 2016. Beginning today, recordings of some of the most historic National Press Club luncheons will become available to the public in a new Library of Congress web presentation called, "Food for Thought: Presidents, Prime Ministers, and other National Press Club luncheon speakers, 1954-1989."

The Club donated about 2,000 audio recordings of luncheon speakers to the Library as a way to make sure they would be preserved. Since 1989, the Club developed a professional archive that maintains all of the more recent recordings, both audio and video. But until today, getting access to the recordings stored at the Library was difficult. Now the Library has selected what it considers the 26 most significant speakers whose addresses have not been heard in their entirety since they were given at the Club.

Among them are Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Menachem Begin, Leonard Bernstein, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, Gerald Ford, Audrey Hepburn, Nikita Khrushchev, Edward R. Murrow, Ronald Reagan, Anwar Sadat, Margaret Thatcher and Harry Truman. The selected speeches will be accompanied with essays that put them in their historical context around topics discussed by the speakers.

"In recognition of the historical importance of the luncheon talks, the Library of Congress has undertaken to digitize the complete National Press Club collection of recordings," said Eugene DeAnna, head of the Library’s Recorded Sound Section.

Oct. 17

Political News

Politico‎, Trump lashes out at Republicans for not buying election rigging line, Louis Nelson, Oct. 17, 2016. 'Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!' Trump fired off in a tweet.  Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who have pushed back against the GOP nominee’s message that the election is being rigged against him.

Washington Post, Trump’s escalation of ‘rigged’ claims alarms election officials, party leaders, Sean Sullivan and Philip Rucker, Oct. 17, 2016. Government officials, including Republican secretaries of state, and the Clinton campaign are among those bracing for the possibility of unrest or even violence on Election Day and for an extended battle over the integrity of the outcome

Washington Post, Top State Dept. official wanted FBI to change classification of a Clinton email, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 17, 2016. According to documents released Monday, Undersecretary Patrick F. Kennedy Hillary Clintontried to pressure the bureau to change at least one of the emails on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server to unclassified, prompting discussion of a possible trade to resolve the issue, two FBI employees told colleagues last year. One official described the arrangement as a “quid pro quo,” but no tangible swap ever came to pass.

New York Times, Clinton Plans Big Push Into Red States as Trump Falters, Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin, Oct. 17, 2016. Hillary Clinton hopes to extend her edge over Donald J. Trump and help down-ballot Democrats in what party leaders increasingly see as a potential wave election. Her campaign manager said she would pour more than $2 million into advertising in Arizona, while dispatching Michelle Obama

Washington Post, The job no girl had ever held, Dan Zak, Oct. 17, 2016. Hillary Rodham was 16 when she first ran for president, despite a boy telling her she was “really stupid” if she thought a girl could win. She didn’t, but her years at the Illinois high school shaped her future.  Hillary Rodham was 16 when she first ran for president.

It was February 1964, her junior year of high school in this town of steeples and lawns on the rail line to Chicago. She was vice president of her class, and one of five students running to lead the student council for the next academic year. Student rock bands played in support of candidates in the hallways and cafeteria of Maine East High School. “Stop mudslinging before it starts,” the school newspaper opined. “Keep this election clean!”

WhoWhatWhy, The Media Can’t Get Its Story Straight on Election Hacking, Dan Engelke, Oct. 17, 2016. The mainstream media assures us that foreign governments can’t hack the election, and downplays the risk of domestic threats to elections — the possibility that special interests could access voting machines and change votes.

Washington Post, Trump has reached his ceiling, with little or no room to grow, James Hohmann, Oct. 17, 2016. On the surface, the Republican nominee is surprisingly close to Hillary Clinton in the Washington Donald Trump 2016 buttonPost-ABC News survey: He trails by just four points. But he is actually in a particularly poor position to expand his support.  

Politico‎, Obama, Holder to lead post-Trump redistricting campaign, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Oct. 17, 2016. Former Attorney General Eric Holder will chair a new umbrella group focused on redistricting reform — with the aim of taking on the gerrymandering that’s left the party behind in statehouses and made winning a House majority far more difficult. The new group, called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was developed in close consultation with the White House. President Barack Obama himself has now identified the group — which will coordinate campaign strategy, direct fundraising, organize ballot initiatives and put together legal challenges to state redistricting maps — as the main focus of his political activity once he leaves office.

Huffington Post, Howard Stern Says Replaying Trump Tapes Would Be ‘A Betrayal,’ Cavan Sieczkowski, Oct. 17, 2016. “I fully knew what I was doing when I interviewed Trump.”  Don’t expect Howard Stern to be airing any old interviews with Donald Trump in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” hot-mic leak.

“Why don’t I play all the tapes? I have to tell you why: I feel Donald Trump did the show in an effort to be entertaining and have fun with us and I feel like it would be a betrayal to any of our guests if I sat there and played them now where people are attacking him,” the SiriusXM host said during his show Monday morning.

Stern has had Trump on as a guest numerous times over the past 16 years, and considers him a friend. In the past, the Republican presidential nominee has discussed things like why “deeply troubled women” are “great in bed” and not having “gay thoughts” on the show.

Around the Nation

Happy Birthday Lee Harvey Oswald New Orleans 2016

New York Times, In Donald Trump, Conspiracy Fans Find a Campaign to Believe In, Campbell Robertson, Oct. 17, 2016. “What the government tells you is rarely the truth, and it’s never the complete truth,” proclaimed Roger Stone, the veteran political operative and longtime confidant of Donald J. Trump. To the approving hoots of several dozen audience members on Sunday in a conference room at the Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport Hotel, Mr. Stone went on to contend that his candidate was no tool of the elite power brokers at the Trilateral Commission or the Bilderberg meetings — and then he asserted paternity cover-ups within the Clinton family, declared that one group supporting Hillary Clinton was a “criminal-based money-laundering operation” and promised “devastating” revelations among hacked emails yet to be released.

And, in a brief detour, he explained that Lyndon B. Johnson helped orchestrate the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The last part, while hardly the focus of Mr. Stone’s speech, was what had brought Lee Harvey Oswald Head and Shouldershim, for the second year in a row, to the annual Lee Harvey Oswald Conference, a gathering of conspiracy amateurs and prolific authors that is timed around Oswald’s birthday (Oct. 18). The conference is dedicated to the proposition, as the conference organizer explained in his introductory remarks, that “Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy and that it was a coup d’état that happened and we lost our country.”

At a time when talk of having lost the country is very much in vogue, along with deep suspicions of a powerful and secretive elite, the symposium seemed remarkably of the moment.

The idea that political figures are at the whim of shadowy forces is a core principle of the conference. The notion that elections have always been rigged was echoed by at least one presenter: Sean Stone, the son of the director Oliver Stone, whose 1991 film “JFK” is effectively one of the conference’s founding documents. There was also extensive and generally favorable discussion of claims put forward by Mr. Trump that Senator Ted Cruz’s father had played a role in a conspiracy behind the Kennedy assassination.

But the Oswald conference is not easy to classify politically. If there was any “party” loyalty, it was with Oswald (shown in a file photo at right), considered an honorable patriot manipulated and impugned by conspirators, and with Kennedy, described by one attendee as among the country’s great conservatives and by one speaker as a “kind of better-looking Bernie Sanders.”

Washington Post, Former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman pleads to false statements in classified leak, Spencer S. Hsu and Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 17, 2016. Gen. James Cartwright is pleaded guilty to making false statements in a leak of classified information about a covert U.S.-Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program. A retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as the nation’s second-ranking military officer pleaded guilty Monday to making false statements in a probe of a leak of classified information about a covert U.S.-Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program.

James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, who served as deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before he retired in 2011, entered his plea in federal court in Washington before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon of the District.

Foreign News

Washington Post, Iraqi attack on Mosul begins as forces push toward Islamic State stronghold, Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 17, 2016. Sunni tribal fighters, Kurds and Shiite militias joined a major offensive to reclaim the northern city. Thousands of Iraqi forces advanced toward the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Monday, the first step of a long-awaited offensive seeking to drive Islamic State militants from their main stronghold in Iraq.

Kurdish forces moved to take a string of villages east of the city, while Iraqi army and police units made a push from the south. Announced before dawn in a televised address by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, the battle is the most ambitious offensive launched by Iraq’s security forces since they were created after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

By sunrise, hundreds of Kurdish soldiers, known as peshmerga, were advancing in gun trucks and armored vehicles. But their movement was slowed by booby traps and roadside bombs, officers said. The Islamic State has fortified its defenses of the city in recent months, erecting concrete blast walls and digging trenches.

Washington Post, Russian air defense raises stakes of U.S. confrontation in Syria, Karen DeYoung, Oct. 17, 2016. State-of-the-art systems now give Russia the ability to shoot down planes and cruise missiles across most of Syria and into neighboring countries, making an Obama administration decision to strike Syrian government installations from the air even less likely than it has been for years. 

Russia’s completion this month of an integrated air defense system in Syria has made an Obama administration decision to strike Syrian government installations from the air even less likely than it has been for years, and has created a substantial obstacle to the Syrian safe zones both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have advocated.

Deployment of mobile and interchangeable S-400 and S-300 missile batteries, along with other short-range systems, now gives Russia the ability to shoot down planes and cruise missiles over at least 250 miles in all directions from western Syria, covering virtually all of that country as well as significant portions of Turkey, Israel, Jordan and the eastern Mediterranean.

By placing the missiles as a threat “against military action” by other countries in Syria, Russia has raised “the stakes of confrontation,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday. The possibility of using U.S. air power in the civil war, even to patrol a safe zone for civilians, has never been favored by the Pentagon, which has argued that it would involve preemptory strikes on Syria’s fixed air defenses.

Oct. 14

New Republican, The Most Important WikiLeaks Revelation Isn’t About Hillary Clinton, David Dayen, Oct. 14, 2016. What John Podesta’s emails from 2008 reveal about the way power works in the Democratic Party. The most important revelation in the WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta’s emails has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. The messages go all the way back to 2008, when Podesta served as co-chair of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team. And a month before the election, the key staffing for that future administration was almost entirely in place, revealing that some of the most crucial decisions an administration can make occur well before a vote has been cast.

Michael Froman, who is now U.S. trade representative but at the time was an executive at Citigroup, wrote an email to Podesta on October 6, 2008, with the subject “Lists.” Froman used a Citigroup email address. He attached three documents: a list of women for top administration jobs, a list of non-white candidates, and a sample outline of 31 cabinet-level positions and who would fill them. “The lists will continue to grow,” Froman wrote to Podesta, “but these are the names to date that seem to be coming up as recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.”

The cabinet list ended up being almost entirely on the money. It correctly identified Eric Holder for the Justice Department, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Robert Gates for Defense, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff, Peter Orszag for the Office of Management and Budget, Arne Duncan for Education, Eric Shinseki for Veterans Affairs, Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes for the Domestic Policy Council, and more. For the Treasury, three possibilities were on the list: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner.

This was October 6. The election was November 4. And yet Froman, an executive at Citigroup, which would ultimately become the recipient of the largest bailout from the federal government during the financial crisis, had mapped out virtually the entire Obama cabinet, a month before votes were counted. And according to the Froman/Podesta emails, lists were floating around even before that.

Washington Post, Ben Carson’s ‘Morning Joe’ interview was jaw-droppingly bad, Peter W. Stevenson, Oct. 14, 2016. Ben Carson (shown in a file photo) has been a standout TV surrogate for Donald Trump — but not in the way the Ben CarsonTrump campaign might have hoped. In the months since he endorsed the Republican presidential nominee, Carson has said — among many, many other headline-grabbing moments — that he would have “preferred” a different candidate atop the GOP ticket, and that even if Trump turns out to be a bad president, America would only be stuck with him for four years. His interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday was so bad that it just might be the worst of the 2016 campaign.

WhoWhatWhy, The Taboo Subject of Class in this Election, Jeff Schechtman, Oct. 14, 2016. The Revenge of the White Trash. The one subject that seemingly gets overlooked in today’s political discussion is the issue of America’s class divide and the rise of 'White Trash America.' It’s a divide that has been in the making for a long time. Nancy Isenberg, the author of White Trash, tells WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman in this week’s podcast that, at best, we’ve had a “democracy of manners.” Not only has White Trash become politicized, low income Caucasians have moved to the center of the debate.

Isenberg explains the history of this issue and that even Ben Franklin hoped that the size of the country would flatten out the class system. But it never happened. In fact, the explosive ideas of eugenics and of a “cognitive class” have never really been far from the surface. Today’s politics seem to be bringing all of this out into the open — even if we’ve been reluctant to talk about it.

Oct. 13

Washington Post, Four women accuse Trump of forcibly groping, kissing them, Sean Sullivan, Oct. 13, 2016. Four women accused Donald Trump of groping or kissing them without their consent in news reports published Wednesday, just days after the Republican presidential nominee insisted in a debate that he had never engaged in such behavior.

Donald TrumpOne of the women alleges that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt during a flight more than three decades ago, the New York Times reported. Another says he kissed her on the mouth outside an elevator in 2005, according to the same report.

A third woman says Trump groped her rear end at his Mar-a-Lago resort 13 years ago, the Palm Beach Post reported. The fourth, then a People magazine reporter, says Trump kissed her without her consent when the two were alone in 2005 right before an interview she was about to conduct with Trump and his wife.

Trump (portrayed on a New York Daily News cover story after video revelations last Friday) and his campaign denied the allegations.

But in each of the first three instances, the newspapers spoke to people close to the women — a universe that includes friends, family members, significant others and colleagues — who verified that they told them their stories about what they say happened months or years ago. In the fourth, the reporter wrote a detailed first person account of what she says happened on People's website.

The GOP presidential nominee was considering filing a lawsuit against the Times and was consulting with advisers about his legal options, according to two people close to him. The two people, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations, said Trump is furious about the accusations made against him in the story and with the newspaper for publishing them.

Washington Post, Two speeches in two hours crystallize state of the campaign, Dan Balz, Oct. 13 2016. Michelle Obama‘s scorching takedown of Donald Trump and the Republican candidate’s all-out defense against the latest charges of sexual assault delivered the fiercest, most provocative and hardest-hitting speeches of an election cycle that has been without precedent in hot rhetoric.

  • Trump says groping allegations are part of a global conspiracy to help Clinton
  • How Trump’s and his campaign’s own words are coming back to bite him

Washington Post, Why a People Magazine writer decided to reveal her attack claim about Trump, Paul Farhi​, Oct. 13 2016. The decade-long lag in writer Natasha Stoynoff’s decision to report the alleged incident gave Trump an opening on Thursday to impeach her story. Stoynoff and People say the delay reflected the conflicting emotions that assault victims often experience.

Washington Post, It’s not the ‘locker room’ talk. It’s the ‘lock her up’ talk, Charles Krauthammer, Oct. 13, 2016. The second presidential debate — bloody, muddy and raucous — was just enough to save Donald Trump’s campaign from extinction, but not enough to restore his chances of winning, barring an act of God (a medical calamity) or of Putin (a cosmically incriminating WikiLeak).

That Trump crashed because of a sex-talk tape is odd. It should have been a surprise to no one. Trump also promises to “open up” libel laws to permit easier prosecution of those who attack him unfairly. Has he ever conceded any attack on him to be fair?

This election is not just about placing the nuclear codes in Trump’s hands. It’s also about handing him the instruments of civilian coercion, such as the IRS, the FBI, the FCC, the SEC. Think of what he could do to enforce the “fairness” he demands. Imagine giving over the vast power of the modern state to a man who says in advance that he will punish his critics and jail his opponent.

Round the Nation

Washington Post, Prisons try to stop drones from delivering drugs, porn and cellphones to inmates, Michael S. Rosenwald, Oct. 13, 2016. Prison inmates, a remarkably ingenious bunch, are disrupting long-standing methods of smuggling drugs, porn and cellphones the same way online retailers hope to one day deliver socks and underwear to American homes — through the air, with drones.

By coordinating with wingmen on the outside for shipments of contraband, inmates can bypass the need to bribe corrupt guards or persuade family members to hide forbidden items in body­cavities. Though nobody is precisely sure just how many drones are landing every day in prisons, the threat is global. Last year, there was a melee at an Ohio prison after a drone dropped heroin into the exercise yard. In April, security cameras at a London prison recorded a drone delivering drugs directly to an inmate’s window.

Talking Points Memo, Why Roy Blunt's Donald Trump Problem Ain't Like Other Republicans', Tierney Sneed, Oct. 13, 2016. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO, shown in an official photo) was having a good day on the Roy Bluntcampaign trail, when yet another Donald Trump controversy popped up. The biggest one yet. The outrage over the Trump video presented a nightmare for every Republican in a tough re-election.

But for Blunt, who has patrician manners and a country-club-dad look, the Trump calculus is particularly complicated. The senator is actually lagging behind Trump in Missouri polling, and in Blunt's southwest Missouri base, Trump is king. So while other vulnerable GOPers chose the moment to finally cut bait with Trump, Blunt stood by the Republican nominee Saturday, when he was ready to weigh in on Trump's remarks.

Oct. 12

Political News

Donald Trump for President logoWashington Post, Trump targets GOP leaders; Clinton blasts ‘scorched earth’ tactics, Sean Sullivan, Anne Gearan and Jose A. DelReal, Oct. 12, 2016. In Florida, Donald Trump took aim at fellow Republicans, who he suggested were conspiring against him in a “sinister deal.” Hillary Clinton, in Colorado, urged voters to “reject the dark and divisive and hateful campaign that is being run.”

Washington Post, Hacked emails show anxiety over Clinton candidacy, Abby Phillip and John Wagner, Oct. 12, 2016. “Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump,” a former adviser wrote in an email released by WikiLeaks.

New York Daily News, Donald Trump once joked about wanting to date a 10-year-old girl, as five women claim the GOP candidate groped them, Graham Rayman, Oct.  2016. Donald Trump, exposed Wednesday as an alleged serial groper, once said he’d spotted his future girlfriend on an escalator — when she was only 10. The would-be sexist-in-chief made the stomach-turning joke in 1992 when “Entertainment Tonight” taped a Christmas special in Trump Tower.

Trump, then 46, makes a brief appearance and asks a group of 10-year-old girls if they’re going to take the escalator, according to the footage, reported by CBS News Wednesday. One girl pipes up with a happy “Yes!”

“I’m going to be dating her in 10 years,” Trump leers. “Can you believe it?”

BuzzFeed, Teen Beauty Queens Say Trump Walked In On Them Changing, Kendall Taggart, Jessica Garrison, Jessica Testa, Oct. 12, 2016. Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.

“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA. Trump, she recalled, said something like, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”

Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it “shocking” and “creepy.” The third said she was clothed and introduced herself to Trump. Eleven of that year’s contestants reached by BuzzFeed News did not recall seeing Trump in the dressing room. Some said they do not believe he could have been there.

BuzzFeed, More Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately, Claudia Koerner, Oct. 12, 2016. Four women came forward Wednesday alleging that the presidential candidate made inappropriate sexual advances toward them in 2003, 2005, and the 1980s. Donald Trump’s treatment of women came under greater scrutiny Wednesday as four more women came forward with new accounts of the Republican nominee making inappropriate sexual advances toward them, decades apart.

One woman, Jessica Leeds, told the New York Times that Trump had groped her and reached under her skirt as they sat beside each other on a flight in the 1980s. Leeds, now 74, told the Times she had been upgraded to first class unexpectedly and chatted with Trump. About 45 minutes into the flight, he began to grab her breasts and under her skirt, she said.

“He was like an octopus,” she told the Times. “His hands were everywhere.”

New York Daily News, Lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of raping 13-year-old girl gets December hearing, Victoria Bekiempis, Oct. 12, 2016. A woman’s lawsuit alleging Donald Trump raped her when she was 13 will soon get a hearing before a judge — but not until after the presidential election. Manhattan Federal Judge Ronnie Abrams has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 16.

Donald Trump (Tax Wall Street Party image)Abrams has asked lawyers for the woman and Trump meet to discuss why the case should be held in New York. They will also discuss whether both sides have talked about a settlement as well as a possible trial length. Trump campaign manager: There'd be no rape if women were stronger

The woman has alleged the GOP presidential candidate and billionaire perv Jeffrey Epstein assaulted her at a series of sex parties that Epstein threw in 1994. Trump has previously slammed the allegations, calling them "categorically false" and "disgusting." And while Epstein is accused of preying on scores of underage girls from the late 1990s to early 2000s, he has also denied her accusations. Epstein did plead guilty to soliciting a minor in 2008. The woman’s original lawsuit, which she filed without a lawyer, was tossed by a judge in California last May.

Editor's note: Trump and his defenders have repeatedly accused former President Bill Clinton of doing similar things or worse during the 1970s and 1980s.

Washington Post, Fearing backlash, some Republicans fall back in line behind Trump, James Hohmann​, Oct. 12, 2016. Now that it has become clear that Donald Trump will not drop out of the presidential race, some Republicans who called on him to quit over the weekend are reversing themselves.

Republican elected officials are personally outraged and ashamed by something their party’s nominee says or does. So they distance themselves. But as soon as they face a whiff of blowback from some in the party, they cave and fall back in line. Then they offer up excuses and rationalizations, twisting themselves into pretzels to justify voting for a guy who some will tell you privately is a danger to the Republic.

It’s happened over and over again now, and it validates what Trump himself said during the primaries: Many politicians are indeed craven and interested mainly in maintaining power for themselves, principles be damned.

Earlier this year, Trump boasted in Iowa: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.”

Washington Post, Why we shouldn’t forgive the Republicans who sold their souls, Robert Kagan, Oct. 12, 2016. Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post. Of the remarkable things we have learned this election year, the most significant is that the current Republican Party is unfit to lead the country. It has failed the greatest test a political leader or party can face, and failed spectacularly.

It has abandoned its principles out of a combination of cowardice and opportunism. It has worked to place in the White House the most dangerous threat to U.S. democracy since the Civil War. And perhaps just as revealing, it has in the process engineered its own suicide. Not only has the party refused to save the country, but also it has proved too helpless, too incompetent and too craven even to save itself.

Kansas City Star, Missouri employee claims bias in lost promotion, names Jason Kander as defendant, Scott Canon and Jason Hancock, Oct. 12, 2016. A Bulgarian immigrant who began working in the Missouri secretary of state’s office in 2008 claims the office unfairly passed him over for promotion in favor of an African-American woman, contending in a lawsuit that pressure to bring racial diversity cost him advancement.

The suit, which was filed last year, names Secretary of State Jason Kander and his commissioner of securities, Andrew Hartnett, as defendants. Kander is a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.

The plaintiff, Roumen Manolov, is a lawyer representing himself in the case. He was working in the secretary of state’s financial securities division when the office posted an opening for chief registration counsel in early 2014. Manolov’s lawsuit said he applied for the position but the job was never filled. Instead, he contends his bosses changed the job description and filled it with another applicant. Meantime, the suit claims, he was embarrassed by how he received a nominal promotion while the more coveted new position went to the African-American woman.

No trial has been scheduled. Manolov still works for the secretary of state. Some of his claims date to when Robin Carnahan led the office, but Blunt’s campaign has promoted the case in the Senate race. Kander took over in 2013.

Oct. 11

Political News

Washington Post, Donald Trump’s strategy for minority Americans? Don’t let them vote, Editorial Board, Oct. 11, 2016. His racist scheme dovetails with long-standing GOP tactics. With Donald Trump’s polling numbers in a tailspin, he has doubled down in calling on Republican vigilantes to take matters into their own hands to thwart what many of them are primed to regard, without proof, as a rigged election. The Republican nominee’s rhetoric, inciting white rural and suburban voters who fear the voting clout of black urban Democrats, is a recipe for voter intimidation and even violence on Election Day. It also lays the groundwork for his followers to believe, if he loses,that his defeat was a historic swindle.

Washington Post, Trump declares war on the Republican Party four weeks before Election Day, Sean Sullivan, Oct. 11, 2016. Donald Trump declared war on the Republican establishment Tuesday, lashing out Donald Trump button open mouthat House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other GOP elected officials as the extraordinary turbulence within the Republican Party intensified four weeks from Election Day. One day after Ryan said he would no longer campaign on Trump’s behalf, the GOP nominee said as part of a barrage of tweets that Ryan is “weak and ineffective” and has provided “zero support” for his candidacy. Trump also declared that “the shackles have been taken off” him, freeing him to “fight for America the way I want to.”

The bevy of attacks directed at his fellow Republicans for his more than 12 million Twitter followers highlighted the fierce backlash that Ryan and his allies are bracing for during the final stage of a campaign that already has wreaked havoc on the party.

Donald Trump Ad October 2016

New ad by the Trump Presidential Campaign promising if elected to jail his opponent Hillary Clinton because the FBI and Justice Department found no crime

RealClearPolitics, Trump Savors "Lock Her Up" Chants at Pa. Rallies, Rebecca Berg, Oct. 11, 2016. Halfway through his remarks to supporters in a high school gym here Monday, Donald Trump paused for a minute to revel in the crowd’s chants. They shouted, “Lock her up.” The Republican nominee clapped along. “Very sad,” Trump said, swiveling back to the microphone to continue speaking. “Special prosecutor, here we come.”

At his first rally following a high-stakes town hall debate Sunday, Trump forged ahead on the path he charted on that stage — where he told Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, that she “would be in jail” if he were in the White House. If elected, he said, he planned to appoint a special prosecutor to further investigate her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Los Angeles Times, How 'Pepe the Frog' went from harmless to hate symbol, Jessica Roy, Oct. 11, 2016. Denizens of the darker corners of the Internet turned an innocent frog comic into a hate symbol of the "deplorable" alt-right. "Pepe the Frog" first appeared in 2005 in the comic "Boy's Life" by artist and illustrator Matt Furie. The comics depict Pepe and his anthropomorphized animal friends behaving like stereotypical post-college bros: playing video games, eating pizza, smoking pot and being harmlessly gross.

McClatchy, Will this Missouri Democrat determine the fate of the U.S. Senate?  Lindsay Wise, Oct. 11, 2016. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call on Tuesday ranked Missouri Democrat Jason Kander as the top candidate likely to change control of the U.S. Senate. Kander, 35, is looking to upset incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt, a 66-year-old Republican who has served nearly two decades in Congress. The race is closer than expected, with internal polling reportedly showing Kander with a slight edge over Blunt.

“Operatives from both parties say the young secretary of state likely holds a small lead over the longtime politician Blunt, a remarkable development for a race that most analysts considered a second-tier contest when the summer began,” the Roll Call report said.

Washington Post, Today’ show co-host Billy Bush and NBC are working on separation agreement, Elahe Izadi, Oct. 11, 2016. Bush egged on Trump in the 2005 video published by The Post on Friday that captured Trump on a hot microphone making lewd comments about women and talking about groping them.

Foreign News

SouthFront, Russia to Supply Pantsir-S Air-Defense Systems to Syrian Army, Staff report, Oct. 11, 2016. Moscow is going to strengthen the Syrian Army’s possibility of air defense with a batch of the Pantsir surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems.

Oct. 10

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Second Debate Oct. 9, 2016 file photoCampaign News

Washington Post, GOP tumbles toward anarchy: ‘It’s every person for himself or herself,’ Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 10, 2016. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s decision to no longer stump for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump prompted biting condemnations from within his caucus and from Trump himself. It also destroyed any semblance of party unity behind a nominee whom many Republican leaders said they could no longer stomach.

The Republican Party tumbled toward anarchy Monday over its presidential nominee, as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) cut Donald Trump loose in an emergency maneuver to preserve the party’s endangered congressional majorities. Ryan’s announcement that he would no longer defend or campaign with Trump prompted biting condemnations from within his caucus and from Trump himself, who publicly lashed out at the speaker.

New York Times, House Speaker Won’t Defend Donald Trump, Upsetting G.O.P. Hard-Liners, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Oct. 10, 2016. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan dealt a hammer blow to Donald J. Trump’s presidential candidacy Monday, dashing any remaining semblance of party unity and inviting fierce backlash from his own caucus by announcing that he would no longer defend Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

Paul RyanMr. Ryan’s stance drew an immediate rebuke from Mr. Trump, who tweeted that Mr. Ryan should focus on governing instead of feuding with him. But Mr. Ryan, shown in an official photo at left, informed Republican lawmakers on a morning conference call that he would never again campaign alongside Mr. Trump, and would dedicate himself instead to defending the party’s majority in Congress, according to five lawmakers who participated in the call and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Effectively conceding defeat for his party in the presidential race, Mr. Ryan said his most urgent task was ensuring that Hillary Clinton did not enter the White House with Democratic control of the House and Senate, two lawmakers said.

The reaction from hard-liners was swift and angry: Over the course of an hour, a stream of conservative lawmakers spoke up to urge their colleagues not to give up on Mr. Trump, and chided Mr. Ryan for surrendering prematurely in the presidential race.

538.com, The Second Debate Probably Didn’t Help Trump; And He Needed Help, Nate Silver, Oct. 10, 2016. The second presidential debate on Sunday night was a strange one, with Donald Trump appearing to be on the brink of a meltdown in the first 20 to 30 minutes and then steadying himself the rest of the way.

But here’s the bottom line: Based on post-debate polls, Hillary Clinton probably ended the night in a better place than she started it. And almost without question, she ended the weekend — counting the debate, the revelation on Friday of a 2005 tape in which Trump was recorded appearing to condone unwanted sexual contact against women, and the Republican reaction to the tape — in an improved position.

Washington Post, Trump signals mud-slinging endgame; Clinton points to GOP unraveling, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 10, 2016. Both were called to explain their political baggage during debate. The Trump campaign manager emphasized that he is prepared to stay on the offensive and said rumors that Mike Pence might leave are false. Last night, Hillary Clinton referred to Michelle Obama — "when they go low, you go high" — in response to accusations against her husband.

Washington Post, One of Clinton’s biggest critics in email case says he’d tell Trump not to jail her, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 10, 2016. Former attorney general Michael Mukasey says “It would be like a banana republic” if Trump were to put Clinton behind bars.

Huffington Post, There Are Transcripts Of Trump’s Unaired Moments On ‘The Apprentice.’ We Got One, Sam Stein, The Republican nominee was hypercritical of one up-and-coming singer’s skin. Donald Trump Apprentice promoDemocratic operatives have offered to pay millions of dollars for unaired footage of Donald Trump on the set of “The Apprentice,” hoping to unearth another unscripted moment like the one that surfaced Friday from 2005, when Trump (shown in a publicity photo from the show) said he would grab women “by the pussy.”

But it’s not just videos they should be looking for. “The Apprentice,” executive produced by Mark Burnett, had a transcript service. And on some occasions, transcribers captured moments that didn’t end up on air, according to multiple sources involved in the show.

It’s not clear how many transcripts exist. Sources say that some transcribers occasionally stuck to what they felt would end up in the program, while others took notes of what was said, regardless of whether it would air.

Those at “The Apprentice” have been intensely guarded about both the transcripts and the unaired footage. Burnett is reportedly a Trump supporter who has threatened to sue employees who leak material in violation of their nondisclosure agreements. Yet the Huffington Post was able to obtain and authenticate one transcript of an episode from the show’s ninth season.

Washington Post, Trump wanted to put Bill Clinton’s accusers in his family box. Debate officials said no, Robert Costa, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, Oct. 10, 2016. Donald Trump’s campaign sought to intimidate Hillary Clinton and embarrass her husband by seating women who have accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual abuse in the Trump family’s box at the presidential debate here Sunday night, according to four people involved in the discussions.

Donald Trump for President logoThe campaign’s plan, which was closely held and unknown to several of Trump’s top aides, was thwarted just minutes before it could be executed when officials with the Commission on Presidential Debates intervened. The commission officials warned that, if the Trump campaign tried to seat the accusers in the elevated family box, security officers would remove the women, according to the people involved, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential.

The gambit to give Bill Clinton’s accusers prime seats was devised by Trump campaign chief executive Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner, the candidate’s son-in-law, and approved personally by Trump. The four women — three of whom have alleged that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted or harassed them years ago — were to walk in the debate hall at the same time as the 42nd president and confront him in front of a national television audience.

“We were going to put the four women in the VIP box,” said former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who represents Trump in debate negotiations. “We had it all set. We wanted to have them shake hands with Bill, to see if Bill would shake hands with them.”

The four women — Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton — sat with other ticketed members of the audience. Bill Clinton long has denied the allegations of Jones, Broaddrick and Willey. Shelton was 12 years old when she accused a 41-year-old man of raping her. Hillary Clinton was selected by a judge to defend the man, who eventually pleaded to a lesser charge.

Washington Post, Trump Taj Mahal closes for good following bitter dispute with unions, Jonathan O'Connell and Drew Harwell, Oct. 10, 2016. Donald Trump once suggested the grand casino was proof of his deal-making mastery.

Charlotte Observer, GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence: Trump ‘literally embodies the spirit of America,’ Tim Funk and Ely Portillo, Oct. 10, 2016. Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence Mike Pence(shown in an official photo) returned to Charlotte on Monday for his campaign’s first rally since the disclosure of a video showing Donald Trump speaking about women in vulgar sexual terms – and threw his support fully behind the presidential nominee.

“It’s been an interesting few days,” said Pence, who was quiet in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s comments. He said Trump “literally embodies the spirit of America” and that he’s proud to stand with Trump. Pence’s visit to Charlotte comes as other prominent Republicans have pulled back support from Trump or urged him to withdraw following the release of the 2005 tape Friday. 

Huffington Post, GOP Senator Says Grabbing A Woman’s Genitals Is Not Sexual Assault, Laura Bassett, Oct. 10, 2016. “I think that’s a stretch.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a top Donald Trump surrogate, said on Sunday that even if the GOP nominee actually grabbed a woman “by the pussy,” as he bragged about in a leaked tape from 2005, that behavior would not I don’t know what he meant.”

Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Kathleen Willey’s allegations against Bill Clinton not credible, Florence Graves, Oct. 10, 2016. Journalist Florence Graves documented that Willey’s claims about Clinton lacked credibility in a 1999 Nation magazine investigation. Two days after NBC audio of Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women hit the news cycle, and 90 minutes before the second presidential debate, Republican nominee Trump held a news conference with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of past sexual assault. Among them is Kathleen Willey, whose lack of credibility was exposed in a 1999 story reported by investigative journalist Florence Graves.

Kathleen WilleyGraves’s year-long investigation published in The Nation magazine revealed that Willey, who accused President Clinton of sexual harassment, was in fact seeking an affair with the president, and that Willey (shown in a TV screenshot) had lied to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s own investigators, a fact that Starr tried to keep secret.

The article was based in part on information in hundreds of sealed Independent Counsel documents to which Graves obtained access. It also revealed that not long before President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives, Starr gave Willey — presumed to be a key witness against the president — an extraordinary second immunity from prosecution agreement after discovering she had lied during the independent counsel investigation about an affair of her own that became relevant during the investigation.

“Starr and Willey: The Untold Story,” reported that "Although a distraught Willey said on ‘60 Minutes’ that she considered giving Clinton ‘a good slap across the face” after the alleged advance, the evidence suggests she was not the victim of an unwanted advance, as she has claimed publicly and under oath, and that she was actively seeking a sexual relationship with the President.

WJLA-TV ABC News (Channel 7), Trump Va. campaign chair Corey Stewart fired for organizing protest outside RNC, Staff report, Oct. 10, 2016. Corey Stewart, the Virginia campaign chair for Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, has been fired after organizing a protest outside of the Republican National Committee headquarters Monday. "He is being replaced, effective immediately," Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie said on the firing. "Corey made this decision when he staged a stunt in front of the RNC (without) the knowledge or approval of the Trump campaign."

Around the Nation

Wayne Madsen Report, No Candor in Kander campaign for Senate, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 10, 2016. WMR is exclusively reporting on a copy of a document called the "Kander Memo," written by a group of Jason KanderMissouri voters who are concerned about the fraudulent activities of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander and his wife Diana Kagan Kander. Kander (shown at right), the current Missouri Secretary of State, is running for the Senate against Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.

The Kander Memo, dated September 20, 2016, was sent to a number of federal and state agencies and offices, including the U.S. Senate, Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, the Missouri Ethics Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service.

The Missouri voters contend that Kander, an up-and-coming star in national Democratic Party politics, and his wife engaged in massive campaign funding fraud since 2014. The fraud included operating a fraudulent crowdfunding charity scheme that was actually intended to promote Diana Kagan's book to the New York Times bestseller list.

The campaign fraud also included the use of Jason Kander's non-profit "Raise Your Hands for Kids" (RYH4K) to create a $5 million political slush fund to be used for Kander's Senate campaign. Three of the five million dollars in donations to the "kids" charity came from corporate donors, particularly tobacco companies, while the remainder came from individual donors who were scammed by Kander into believing their donations were helping Missouri's children. Use of such non-profit funds by candidates in federal election campaigns is strictly forbidden by federal election and tax laws.

The scandal involving Kander, a trial lawyer, and his wife may throw a monkey wrench into the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee's decision to invest $3.5 million in the Missouri Democrat's campaign. The Blunt-Kander race is seen as one of the closest in the country and one in which the Democrats hope could be pivotal in returning to them control of the Senate.

Missouri is known as the "Show Me State" and Kander and his wife have shown Missourians that they have shown Missouri that when it comes to candor, the Kanders lack it completely.

Lee Harvey Oswald Cuba Passport applicationJFK Facts.org, Oct. 10, 1963: Six top CIA officers discuss Lee Harvey Oswald among themselves, Jefferson Morley, Oct. 10, 2016. Fifty three years ago today, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald came to the attention of a group of senior CIA officers in Langley, Virginia. Oswald (shown in a passport application photo) had recently visited the Cuban consulate and Soviet Embassy  in Mexico City. A CIA wiretap captured a man identifying himself as “Oswald.”

The CIA officers conferred about Oswald and his actions and signed off on a cable about him. They are identified on the declassified CIA cable whose authenticity is not disputed. Why were they so interested in Oswald? One possible explanation for their interest in Oswald is that he was part of a covert operation.The CIA denies it. For reasons that have never been unexplained, these CIA officers decided not to share information about Oswald’s recent arrest or his public activism in support of a subversive  pro-Castro organization with their colleagues in Mexico City. Forty two days later, Oswald allegedly shot and killed Kennedy.

The October 10 cable destroys the cover story, fed to the Warren Commission, that the CIA only had a “routine” interest in Oswald before the assassination. To the contrary, a half dozen high-ranking officers were familiar with his biography, leftist politics, foreign travels and foreign contacts six weeks before JFK was killed.

WhoWhatWhy, FBI Version of NY/NJ Bombing Story Sounds Very Familiar, James Henry, Oct. 10, 2016. There are some striking similarities between the recent New York/New Jersey bombings and the Boston Marathon bombing, including the use of pressure cooker bombs. But the similarity that really should be ringing everyone’s alarm bells — yet apparently has not — is the revelation that the FBI had prior connections with both bombing suspects.

A number of contradictions and discrepancies in the FBI’s account of those contacts prompts troubling questions about whether the FBI is coming clean about its interest in Ahmad Khan Rahami. And just as the Bureau did with the purported Marathon bombing mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev (and Orlando mass murderer Omar Matteen — another person with whom the FBI was familiar prior to the act), the FBI is painting a minimalist picture of its prior contacts with Rahami, the accused Manhattan and Jersey shore bomber.

For one, the FBI and Rahami’s father are at odds about what he told investigators about his son’s drift toward extremism — the reason the FBI investigated him to begin with. “Keep an eye on him,” the father says he told investigators. The FBI disputes this. Another reason for concern is the contradiction between the FBI’s “hands off” approach to investigating Rahami (and Tsarnaev) and the well documented and usually very aggressive tactics used against most people with even the thinnest of terrorist connections.

Foreign News

Reuters, Exclusive: As Saudis bombed Yemen, U.S. worried about legal blowback, Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, Oct. 10, 2016. The Obama administration went ahead with a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings from some officials that the United States could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians, according to government documents and the accounts of current and former officials.

State Department officials also were privately skeptical of the Saudi military's ability to target Houthi militants without killing civilians and destroying "critical infrastructure" needed for Yemen to recover, according to the emails and other records obtained by Reuters and interviews with nearly a dozen officials with knowledge of those discussions.

U.S. government lawyers ultimately did not reach a conclusion on whether U.S. support for the campaign would make the United States a "co-belligerent" in the war under international law, four current and former officials said. That finding would have obligated Washington to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen and would have raised a legal risk that U.S. military personnel could be subject to prosecution, at least in theory.

RIA Novosti via Daily Sabah, Gorbachev warns world is at 'dangerous point' as US-Russia tensions soar over Syria, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 10, 2016. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 85, warned on Monday that the world has reached a "dangerous point" as tensions between Russia and the United States spike over the Syria conflict. Relations between Moscow and Washington -- already at their lowest since the Cold War over the Ukraine conflict -- have soured further in recent days as the United States pulled the plug on Syria talks and accused Russia of hacking attacks.

Oct. 9

Washington Post, A new low, even for Donald Trump, Editorial board, Oct. 9, 2016. With his campaign sinking, he decided the best response was to snarl and double down on old falsehoods.

Donald Trump 2016 buttonHas there been a more disturbing low in presidential politics? “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” Republican nominee Donald Trump threatened in the course of the second presidential debate Sunday night.

“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Mr. Trump shot back.

Mark the moment. A major-party presidential nominee is officially promising to lock up his political opponent, despite the fact that an impartial federal investigation concluded that no fair prosecutor would have charged Ms. Clinton in the matter of her emails. If anyone needed any more proof that Mr. Trump does not understand the meaning of rule of law as opposed to arbitrary rule of autocrat — that he would use the levers of the federal government in a vindictive, self-serving and corrupt manner — Mr. Trump provided it.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Made It Clear — Again — That He’s Unfit For The Presidency, Ryan Grim, Amanda Terkel, and S.V. Date, Oct. 9, 2016.  Shortly into Sunday night’s wildly anticipated debate, Donald Trump made a campaign promise that might be more fitting in Vladimir Putin’s Russia than modern American politics: If he were president, he told Hillary Clinton, “you’d be in jail.”

It was part of a performance from Trump that put to rest the question, if it was still open, of whether Trump is fit for the presidency. Nobody appeared more aware of that reality than Trump, whose strategy seemed to be to extract as much public humiliation from Clinton as he could, rather than to win the election. His acquiescences to reality also came through in his final answer, when, after trashing Clinton for 90 minutes, the candidates were asked to say one nice thing about each other. Clinton complimented Trump’s children, but Trump effusively praised Clinton’s indefatigable spirit.

“I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is: She is a fighter. I disagree with much of what she’s fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases, but she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up, and I consider that to be a very good trait,” he said.

It was miles away from the opening moment. Walking out on stage, neither candidate offered a handshake to the other. Trump, from the beginning of the night, was in a dour mood, as if he hadn’t slept much since the Friday revelations of his “locker room talk.” His down-tempo demeanor clashed starkly, however, with the message he delivered. Just 17 minutes after the debate was scheduled to begin, Trump launched into the attack he had telegraphed after the last debate, when he said he went easy on Clinton by not bringing up Bill Clinton’s treatment of women, out of respect for their daughter, Chelsea.

“There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women,” Trump said of Bill Clinton, going on to add that several of his accusers were right there in the audience.

Washington Post, Trump went where many begged him not to go: Diving into scandals, real or fake, Jenna Johnson​, A candidate in crisis in need of a political victory, he ignored the pleas of many party leaders and threw every accusation he could at his Democratic opponent.  ​

Washington Post, Second presidential debate takes the low road as attacks and slurs dominate, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Oct. 9, 2016. The presidential campaign took a dark turn here Sunday night as Donald Trump leveled a stream of harsh charges at Hillary Clinton during their second debate, claiming she attacked women who accused her husband of sexual abuse and promising to send the former secretary of state to jail if he is president.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoHe repeatedly interrupted the Democratic nominee. He lashed out at her with a multitude of falsehoods over her foreign and domestic policies as well as her judgment and character. He called her “a liar” and “the Devil.” And as Clinton answered voters’ questions in the town-hall-style debate, Trump lurked just an arm’s length behind her with a grimace on his face.

Clinton, while mostly restrained, showed flashes of ire at her aggressor. “Okay, Donald, I know you’re into big diversion tonight,” she said. “Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you.”

Washington Post, Trump defiant ahead of debate as surrogates grapple with video fallout, Katie Zezima​, Oct. 9, 2016. The GOP nominee remained defiant even as a growing number of fellow Republicans continued to call on him to exit the race.

Donald Trump button open mouthIn the wake of the release of a 2005 video in which he uses crude language to brag about forcing himself on women sexually, Trump unleashed an avalanche of tweets and retweets Sunday in which he showed no sign of dropping out. The calls for him to do so from fellow Republicans also continued, signaling an unprecedented political crisis with just one month to go until Election Day.

The crisis will play out in front of a potentially historic audience on live television Sunday, when Trump will face Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a town-hall-style debate in St. Louis. In interviews and social media posts, Trump made clear that he has no plans to back down — and that he intends to criticize Clinton for her treatment of women who over the years have accused her husband of unwanted sexual advances.

Calls for the GOP nominee to drop out of the election continued as Republicans face an unprecedented crisis one month before the vote
The Republican made clear that he has no plans to back down, indicating that he intends to criticize the Democrat for her treatment of women who have accused her husband of sexual assault. Hillary Clinton's aides said she expects him to enter angry when the debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern. She will be prepared but sees no need to respond point by point.

Washington Post, The second debate: The end of Trump? Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 9, 2016. ​Donald Trump’s second presidential debate performance was never going to repair the damage done by his first, let alone by the audio of lewd comments in which Trump boasted in 2005 of talk about sexual assaults and discussed his own daughter in base, sexualized terms in 2004. The only question was whether he could stem the tide of GOP defections and restore a smidgen of personal dignity.

That went out the window when, contrary to the advice of nearly every Republican, he decided to retaliate against Bill Clinton, parading four past accusers for a Facebook news conference. His staff and any Republicans still on board deserve the blistering loss that awaits them in November and the professional humiliation that goes with enabling a creep.

Washington Post, A generation of GOP stars stands diminished: ‘Everything Trump touches dies,’ Philip Rucker, Oct. 9, 2016. Donald Trump trashed his wife and suggested his father was involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz still endorsed him. Trump mocked his cotton mouth and slight stature, but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio still got in line. Trump turned his mentor and former running mate Mitt Romney into a personal whipping post, but House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) still hopped aboard the Trump train.

These were not the only Republican luminaries to link arms with Trump. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker testified to his leadership strength. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and party chairman Reince Priebus, who once committed themselves to diversifying the GOP coalition, flew around on Trump’s luxury jet and defended his racially charged, nationalistic rhetoric. And the special guest celebrated by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst at her “Hogs and Harleys” political festival? Yes, it was Trump.

Trump’s turbulent campaign, on display here at Sunday night’s second presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has damaged far more than his own White House prospects. It threatens to diminish an entire generation of Republican leaders who stood by him and excused his behavior after attacks against women, the disabled, Latino immigrants, Muslim Americans, Syrian refugees, prisoners of war, Gold Star parents and others.

“There is nobody who holds any position of responsibility who in private conversations views Donald Trump as equipped mentally, morally and intellectually to be the president of the United States,” said Steve Schmidt, a veteran GOP strategist. “But scores of Republican leaders have failed a fundamental test of moral courage and political leadership in not speaking truth to the American people about what is so obvious.”

Associated Press via WJLA-TV ABC News (Channel 7), NBC suspends Billy Bush for role on Trump tape, David Bauder, Oct. 9, 2016. NBC on Sunday suspended "Today" show personality Billy Bush indefinitely after he was caught on a videotape from 2005 in a crude conversation about women with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"Today" Executive Producer Noah Oppenheim said in a memo Sunday that "there is simply no excuse for Billy's language and behavior on that tape." Bush, who hosts the third hour of the "Today" show, has been suspended "pending further review of the matter," Oppenheim said. NBC announced its decision two days after the videotape from the "Access Hollywood" archives surfaced. Bush was a host for that show in 2005, and he was taped in a hot-mic discussion with Trump when the future presidential nominee was on a Hollywood set to make an appearance on a soap opera.

On the tape, Trump brags about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women who were not his wife. Bush joins in, laughing at some of Trump's comments and later encouraging an actress to hug Trump. Bush, 44, has only been at "Today" for two months, where he's had a rocky start.

After getting off the bus, Bush asks the actress to hug Trump, then adds, "How about a little hug for the Bushy?" The married father of three is the nephew of former President George H.W. Bush.

Washington Post, Putin and Assad could face justice for war crimes in Syria, Josh Rogin, Oct. 9, 2016. International law ensures the regimes could eventually be held accountable. There seems to be no way for the international community to stop the ongoing war crimes being committed by the Syrian regime and its Russian allies, especially in Aleppo. But by brazenly flouting international law, leaders and rank-and-file officials in both countries are opening themselves up to future justice in multiple ways. Under the Geneva Conventions, any state can assert what’s known as universal jurisdiction and bring prosecutions against Syrian and Russia leaders for war crimes. Another avenue for war-crimes prosecutions is for cases to be brought in third countries whose citizens have been victims of the Syrian and Russian atrocities, said Stephen Rapp, who until recently was the State Department’s ambassador at large for war-crimes issues.

Columbia Tribune, Amendment 3 is a scam, Ronald J. Leone, Oct. 9, 2016. http://www.columbiatribune.com/a70a5cfc-41a5-5225-96ff-2b2f9d36a551.html Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or independent, there is something for everyone and every group not to like in Amendment 3. Here are the top six reasons to vote “no” on Amendment 3 on Nov. 8.

1. It’s about Big Tobacco’s profits, not kids. Amendment 3 is a scam. The major firms are funding Amendment 3 ($5.3 million and counting) because it increases their profits and market share by massively and unfairly taxing their competition. It’s not about helping kids.

It’s like Coke asking Missouri voters to pass a special tax on Pepsi, or McDonald’s wanting to tax Burger King. It’s just not right.

2. Don’t put Big Tobacco’s schemes in our constitution. Amendment 3 would change our constitution and enshrine Big Tobacco’s secret schemes forever unless changed by a vote of the people. For example:

    Funds can’t be used for “tobacco-related research of any kind.”    Funds can’t be used to lobby for any tobacco tax increase or any prohibition or limit on the sales or use of tobacco products.    Does not increase the tax on Big Tobacco’s top sellers including cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco.    A special, targeted 394 percent tax increase that applies only to Big Tobacco’s competition helps to settle old scores and automatically increases at least 3 percent every year forever without a vote of the people.

3. It’s a slush fund for greedy political insiders with no “lock box.” Amendment 3 creates a commission of 13 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats who control hundreds of millions of dollars per year. There is no such thing as a “lock box” that guarantees the money will go to early childhood education. Remember the broken funding promises that came with the lottery and casinos? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

4. It is opposed by a diverse array of liberal and conservative groups including: Health care. The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids oppose Amendment 3 because, according to a joint statement Aug. 9 on Facebook:

“Reynolds, best known for their infamous Joe Camel cartoon, is notorious for its aggressive efforts to lure kids into smoking. Missouri voters shouldn’t let the tobacco industry write policies that ultimately keep our state’s youth hooked on these deadly products.” Anti-abortion and pro-choice groups. Concerned Women for America, Missouri Alliance for Freedom and NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri oppose Amendment 3 because for the first time it puts the terms “abortion” and “abortion services” in the Missouri Constitution.    Educators. The Missouri National Education Association, Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Missouri Association of Rural Education oppose Amendment 3 because it allows 13 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to give public tax dollars to private and religious schools.  Elected officials. Rival gubernatorial candidates Chris Koster and Eric Greitens, plus a bipartisan group of 110-plus state legislators, all oppose Amendment 3. Medical research. The Stowers Institute, Washington University, BioSTL, We Deserve Better, MOBIO and Missouri Cures oppose Amendment 3 because it restricts promising stem cell medical research, treatment and cures.

5. It’s an outrageous and unfair 747 percent tax increase! Amendment 3 puts a huge tax increase into the constitution, including automatic tax increases every year forever without a vote of the people.

6. Don’t mess with the constitution. Amendment 3 does not belong in the Missouri Constitution alongside our cherished rights of religious freedom, freedom of speech and due process of law.

Oct. 8

Washington Post, Crisis grips GOP as more Republicans urge Trump to quit, Jenna Johnson, Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa, Oct. 8, 2016. The Republican Party plunged into an epic and historic political crisis Saturday with just a month to go until Election Day as a growing wave of GOP lawmakers called on defiant presidential nominee Donald Trump to drop out of the race in the wake of a video showing him make crude sexual remarks.

The fallout from the tape published by The Washington Post — in which Trump bragged in obscene language about forcing himself on women sexually — threatens to endanger the party’s hold on both houses of Congress in addition to the White House, which many Republicans now fear is lost. The episode also comes ahead of Sunday’s second presidential debate in St. Louis, which was already a crucial moment but could determine how widely the damage spreads.

By midafternoon Saturday, more than two dozen Republican lawmakers had called on Trump to leave the race, often touting vice presidential candidate Mike Pence as an alternative. Others including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 GOP nominee, said they could no longer vote for Trump but stopped short of calling on him to drop out. Still, the Republican Party’s top leadership — including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and party chairman Reince Priebus — continued to support Trump even as they denounced his comments.

Washington Post, Donald Trump just retweeted Juanita Broaddrick calling Bill Clinton a rapist. All bets are now off, Aaron Blake, Oct. 8, 2016. In the wake of a newly released video showing Donald Trump talking in very lewd terms about women, the Republican presidential nominee strongly suggested he would take this opportunity to compare his indiscretions to Bill Clinton's. And on Saturday night, he got the ball rolling.

Trump, facing a GOP exodus from his campaign and apparently desperate to change the subject, just retweeted two tweets from an account featuring the name of Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who publicly alleged in 1999 that Clinton had sexually assaulted her two decades prior. In both tweets, the Broaddrick account reiterates her accusation that Clinton raped her and accuses Hillary Clinton of enabling him.

Trump has yet to make these accusations a big part of his campaign, but he made clear in his statements after Friday's explosive video that he was preparing to go there.
One Trump adviser who appears to be urging the Bill Clinton attack is Roger Stone, a controversial figure who told The Washington Post on Saturday that he had teamed with the conspiracy theory website InfoWars to sell 10,000 T-shirts with Bill Clinton's face next to the word “rape" — ala Barack Obama's "hope" poster

Washington Post, Amid growing calls to drop out, Trump vows to ‘never withdraw,’ Robert Costa, Oct. 8, 2016. The GOP nominee, facing pressure from his own party, said, "I have tremendous support." However, he acknowledged that the 2005 video of him bragging in vulgar terms about groping women has consumed the presidential race. He said he has withstood controversies throughout the election and in his career. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview Saturday that he would not drop out of the race under any circumstances, following calls from several prominent GOP members to do so.

“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told The Washington Post in a phone call from his home in Trump Tower in New York. “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”

“People are calling and saying, ‘Don’t even think about doing anything else but running,” Trump said when asked about Republican defections. “You have to see what’s going on. The real story is that people have no idea about the support. I don’t know how that’s going to boil down, but people have no idea about the support.

Huffrington Post, Here Are All The Republicans Dropping Their Support For Donald Trump, Jennifer Bendery, updated Oct. 8, 2016. The list is expanding to sitting senators, members of Congress and governors. The floodgates were open by Saturday morning. Here’s a running list of the GOP members of Congress, senators and governors rescinding their endorsements for Trump or calling on him to step down, one month before the election, after seeing the video.

Variety, Donald Trump Issues Apology for Lewd Remarks in Leaked ‘Access Hollywood’ Video, Ted Johnson, Oct. 8, 2016. Donald Trump released a video on Friday saying that he has “said and done things I regret” and apologized for lewd comments he made  about women in a 2005 conversation with then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. The “Access Hollywood” video was leaked to the Washington Post, which published its contents on Friday. Trump’s comments drew condemnation from GOP leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Donald TrumpIn his video, released by the campaign just after midnight on Saturday, Trump (shown in a file photo) said that “anyone who knows me knows that these words don’t reflect who I am.”

In his 90-second video, Trump said that he has “never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said some things that I regret and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them.” He added that he was “wrong and I apologize.”

But he said that the controversy over his 2005 remarks was a “distraction.”

He then turned to attacking Hillary and Bill Clinton.

“I’ve said some foolish things but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people,” he said. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”

Trump’s campaign posted his apology on Facebook and on Twitter.

Huffington Post, Mike Pence 'Offended' By Donald Trump's Lewd Remarks About Women, Paige Levinder, Oct. 8, 2016. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, released a statement Mike PenceSaturday denouncing lewd comments Donald Trump made about women in 2005, saying he “cannot defend them.”

“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them,” Pence said in a statement. “I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people. We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”

Washington Post, Sen. Mike Lee urges Trump to quit, as Utah Republicans abandon their party’s nominee, David Weigel, Oct. 8, 2016. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of very few Republican senators who never U.S. Sen Mike Leeendorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, called tonight for the nominee to “step aside” and asked conservatives to find a new candidate. Echoing many Republicans who see Trump handing the presidency to Hillary Clinton, Lee (shown in an official photo) said that the candidate’s insults of women were distracting from election-winning principles.

Roll Call, Ayotte Dumps Trump, Eric Garcia, Oct. 8, 2016. New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte said Saturday that she will not vote for her party's presidential nominee Donald Trump, in light of derogatory comments he made about assaulting women. In this video from 2005, Donald Trump prepares for an appearance on "Days of Our Lives" with actress Arianne Zucker. He is accompanied to the set by "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush. 

 

Donald Trump

The New York Daily News front page characterizes the newspaper's longtime coverage of the local celebrity, as does its headline below right during the summer. The Daily News, founded in 1919, was Donald Trump Lord of the Pigs coverAmerica's first viable tabloid and for many years held the nation's largest circulation among newspaper. The paper's conservative rival, the New York Post, now has roughly equal circulation and has kept tabloid traditions alive with its own hard-hitting coverage.

Washington Post, 3 big questions Trump will have to answer about his vulgar remarks, Aaron Blake, Oct. 8, 2016. It is unclear whether the nominee will respond to reporters' questions before Sunday's presidential debate, but people want to know: How often does he talk like this?

Related story: Associated Press, 'Apprentice' cast and crew say Trump was lewd and sexist, Garance Burke, Oct. 3, 2016.  In his years as a reality TV boss on "The Apprentice," Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with.

Washington Post, NBC waited for green light from lawyers before airing Trump video, Paul Farhi, Oct. 8, 2016. NBC News was aware of video footage of Donald Trump making lewd and disparaging remarks about women for nearly four days, a network executive said Saturday, but held onto the recording until lawyers finished reviewing the material. The network’s caution led to an awkward result: NBC News was scooped by the Washington Post, which took just five hours to vet and post its story. A tip from a source led to the Post breaking one of the most consequential stories of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Huffington Post, CNN Panel Devolves Into Shouting Match About ‘Pussy,’ Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 8, 2016.ell? What’s left to do in this presidential campaign except shout about women’s hoohas? Ana Navarro, a Republican CNN contributor, went ahead and took care of that early Saturday. Hours after a bombshell video surfaced of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd comments about women ― he talked about grabbing women “by the pussy,” among other things ― Navarro tore into Republicans still standing by him.

“I think that every single Republican is going to have to answer the question, ‘What did you do the day you saw the tape of this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy?’” Navarro said angrily. “Period.”

That was too much raunch for fellow panelist Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump surrogate, who chided Navarro for using the “p” word. “Will you please stop saying that word?” Hughes said. “My daughter is listening.”

That did NOT go over well with Navarro. “You know what Scottie? Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it!” Navarro shouted at Hughes. “I’m not running for president. He is.”      

Foreign News

SouthFront, Russian Defense Ministry: ‘Moderate Opposition’ Mines Corridors for Exit of Civilians from Aleppo, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2016. According to Deputy Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ lays explosives in the humanitarian corridors, created for the exit of civilians from the city.

Washington Post, Little consensus within administration on how to stop fall of Aleppo to Assad, Karen DeYoung, Oct. 8, 2016. Memories of the Rwandan massacre and slaughter of Bosnian Muslims loom over discussions. There is no consensus within the administration about what the United States can or should do to try to bring a halt to the killing and stop what appears to be the increasingly inevitable fall of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, to government forces.

The Pentagon has argued for years against direct U.S. military action, seeing that as risking deeper involvement in Syria’s civil war and detracting from the separate fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Early last month, defense officials objected to a deal reached with Moscow by Secretary of State John F. Kerry that would couple a cease-fire and delivery of humanitarian aid with U.S.-Russian counterterrorism cooperation against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked forces in Syria.

When the cease-fire fell apart, the Aleppo onslaught began, and Obama ordered up a new assessment and policy alternatives, some senior officials perceived a shift in the Pentagon’s position. At a Sept. 28 meeting of national security deputies, military officials described options against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that might provide leverage over Moscow.

To the State Department and other agencies that had urged a more muscular policy, it seemed that a corner had been turned. Kerry, who has long advocated for U.S. military action, had recently told a meeting of Syrian activists that he had lost that argument long ago, according to a recording of the session obtained by the New York Times. Now the State Department was sure that the Pentagon had switched sides, according to several senior administration officials who described the ongoing, closed-door debate on the condition of anonymity.

But last Thursday, as the discussion moved up the chain to a contentious White House meeting of national security principals, top defense officials made clear that their position had not changed. They advised a possible increase in weapons aid to opposition fighters but said the United States should focus its own military firepower on the anti-Islamic State mission rather than risk a direct confrontation with Russia.

Oct. 7

Political News

Donald Trump, Arianne Zucker, Billy Bush on Access Hollywood set 2005In this video from 2005, Donald Trump prepares for an appearance on "Days of Our Lives" with actress Arianne Zucker. He is accompanied to the set by "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush. (Obtained by The Washington Post)

Washington Post, Trump was recorded saying lewd things about women in 2005, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 7, 2016. On a soap opera set, he bragged in vulgar terms about kissing and groping women, saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it."​

Adweek TV Newser, What Access Hollywood Left Out of Its Report on the Donald Trump, Billy Bush Tape, Chris Ariens, Oct. 7, 2016. "Access Hollywood" found itself reporting on "Access Hollywood" tonight. The NBC-owned syndicated [show] led with a story explaining the logistics of a 2005 videotape in which Donald Trump crudely suggests, among other things, that he tried to have sex with former "Access Hollywood" co-host Nancy O’Dell, who is now co-host of "Entertainment Tonight."

“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says in the video, though off-camera, likely unaware he was being recorded. It was left to former "Today Show" anchor Natalie Morales, now co-host of "Access Hollywood," to report the story.

What "Access Hollywood" didn’t show was Billy Bush‘s part in the crude banter, in which he says “Sheesh your girl’s hot as shit. The girl in the purple,” describing a "Days of our Lives" actress Trump was about to meet.

Roll Call, Ryan 'Sickened' By Trump Remarks, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 7, 2016. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Friday that he was “sickened” by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about women captured on video, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also described as “repugnant.”

Trump bragged about his exploits with women and used graphic language to describe his sexual advances in a video from 2005 obtained by The Washington Post. The conversation occurred on an “Access Hollywood” bus when Trump was making an appearance on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” according to the Post.“I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” Ryan said in a statement. “I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”

McConnell didn't hold back either. “These comments are repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance,” he said in a statement. “As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape.” The GOP nominee was slated to appear at a Saturday event with Ryan and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a vulnerable incumbent, in Elkhorn, located in Ryan's congressional district. But the speaker announced in a statement late Friday that Trump would not be attending.

Ryan asked Trump not to come to Wisconsin, according to a source familiar with the speaker's decision. Trump said that his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, would take his place at the event. Trump would be preparing for Sunday’s presidential debate.

Washington Post, There’s no longer any way for Republicans to boot Donald Trump from the ballot, Philip Bump and David Weigel, Oct. 7, 2016. More than 34,000 Republican voters have already cast their ballots for the 2016 general election according to the U.S. Election Project, 8,000 of them in the battleground state of North Carolina and another 5,000 in Florida.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoNot all of those ballots were cast for Donald Trump, it's safe to assume, but it's more than likely that most of them were. And that, in a nutshell, is why it's far too late for the Republican Party to dump Donald Trump from their ticket.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) pulled his endorsement from the Republican nominee in June, but requested that the party go a step further in a tweet on Friday evening. "@realDonaldTrump should drop out. @GOP should engage rules for emergency replacement."

You may recall that we've been through this before. In early August, as Trump's poll numbers started to tank and as he was still embroiled in his fight with the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, Republicans started murmuring about potentially replacing him as the nominee. The party can't simply call Donald Trump and tell him that he's no longer welcome; there are rules that guide how a nominee is replaced.

Josh Putnam, a University of Georgia lecturer and expert on the machinations of the parties, told me at the time that the rule at issue was Rule 9. Rule 9 reads:

"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 or the Republican candidate for Vice 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."

Death, declination or otherwise. No "because we want to" clause. "Let’s be clear here: The rule is intended to fill vacancies, not to lay the groundwork for a replacement," Putnam said. "Some have speculated that ‘otherwise’ is ambiguous. Taken out of context it is. However, under the provisions for filling vacancies, it clearly fills in any gap between death and declination (i.e.: an incapacitating illness, but one that leaves the nominee neither dead nor able to decline to run further). And that was the intention."

US Weekly, Nancy O'Dell Identified as the Married Woman Donald Trump Bragged to Billy Bush About Hitting on in 2005 Video, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2016. The married woman has been identified. Access Hollywood opened its Friday October 7, episode with details about the recorded 2005 conversation that surfaced earlier that day between Donald Trump and former host Billy Bush on the show's bus.

Host Natalie Morales told viewers that former AH personality Nancy O'Dell is the married woman who Trump, 70, tells Bush, 44, that he unsuccessfully made a pass at in the video released by the Washington Post earlier in the day. Trump and Bush, whose comments were caught by a hot mic, were visiting the Days of Our Lives set so that the current presidential candidate could meet one of the show's stars.

“I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump said on the bus in the recording. “I did try and f--k her. She was married. … And I moved on her very heavily in fact. I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. …’” Bush also made unsavory comments of his own. Morales explained that Access Hollywood discovered the audio recording when they were sifting through old interviews conducted with the real estate mogul after reports that he made demeaning comments about women during his time as host of The Apprentice, which, like Access, is an NBC show.

Center for Public Integrity, Reclusive mega-donor fueling Donald Trump's White House hopes, Carrie Levine, Oct. 7, 2016. Hedge fund boss Robert Mercer helped attack Trump before backing him.  Robert Mercer, 70, co-chief executive officer of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, has emerged as the single most influential donor to Trump, the brash businessman whose political rise was propelled by his personal fortune. He has become one of the highest-paid hedge fund managers in the business.

But Mercer’s greatest influence on Trump may not be via his cash but, rather, through key operatives who have leaped from the Mercers’ organization to lead Trump’s: campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr), campaign CEO Steve Bannon and deputy campaign manager David Bossie. “What [Rebekah] and her dad did was go sit down with the Donald and talk to him about his team. His team was failing him. They weren’t controlling the message and all that,” said Toby Neugebauer, a donor who worked in conjunction with the Mercers when they were supporting Cruz.

Mercer, reclusive by nature, isn’t inclined to speak publicly about his giving, making it a challenge to determine much about either his reasons for promoting a Trump administration or what he stands to gain. Robert and Rebekah Mercer both declined to be interviewed for this story. But a Center for Public Integrity review of Mercer’s political and philanthropic spending found clues.

Mercer’s largesse has largely gone to anti-establishment groups and insurgent candidates working to pull the Republican Party further to the right, rather than the business-backed organizations closely associated with the Republican establishment, adding to his reputation as an ideologically motivated giver. He has heavily funded ultra-conservative media outlets, like Breitbart News and Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center.

Washington Post, Trump focuses on rebound at second debate but refuses to be controlled, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker​, Oct. 7, 2016. Even in the home stretch of the general election, the GOP nominee Donald Trump 2016 buttonshows his team that he will never be fully managed. He will win or lose on his own terms — and that means minimal prep.

Daily Howler, Road map to the current loathing: No murders as far as Stephanopoulos knew! Bob Somersby, Oct. 7, 2016. Donald J. Trump had been making dire threats. So the New York Times swung into action. The result was a heavily cherry-picked "news report" about famous old claims by Gennifer Flowers. As of 1998, the children who pose as our "mainstream press" had adopted the appalling Flowers as one of their honored truth-tellers.

Consider two high-profile books about Hillary Clinton — books which have often been cited as Donald J. Trump has advanced his new threats and claims. Briefly, let's consider All Too Human, George Stephanopoulos' 1999 memoir. At the time, Stephanopoulos was trying to execute a fairly tricky transition. Earlier in the decade, he had been Bill Clinton's press spokesman. Now, he was trying to gain acceptance as a mainstream TV news star.

George Stephanopoulos 2009 file photoA person can only laugh, then cry, at the way Stephanopoulos (shown in a 2009 file photo) opened his book. Believe it or not, this is the first paragraph in Chapter 1:

If you've read John Grisham, you've got a pretty good idea of what Rose Law was like — Little Rock's version of "The Firm." Not that anyone's even been murdered there (as far as I know), but its pedigree, power, and aura of buttoned-down mystery had made it a force in Arkansas for than a century. It was Hillary Rodham Clinton's firm.

No one had ever been murdered at Hillary Clinton's firm — as far as Stephanopoulos knew! A person should weep for the dead of Iraq when he or she sees this classic climber kissing the ascot of power this way as he claws his way toward the top.

Eight years later, in 2007, Carl Bernstein published a lengthy biography of Hillary Clinton, A Woman in Charge. To this day, Bernstein is the go-to guy on mainstream TV regarding the life of Hillary Clinton. Routinely, he's asked to pontificate on the basis of that high-profile book. Amazing! In a thoroughly researched book — a book which ran 554 pages — Bernstein had virtually nothing to say about this important episode.

Washington Post, U.S. officially accuses Russia of hacking to interfere with elections, Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 7, 2016. Until now, the Obama administration had avoided publicly blaming the Kremlin for the hack of the Democratic National Committee, saying the intrusion was under investigation. The denunciation came as pressure grows to hold Moscow accountable for actions apparently aimed at sowing discord around the election.

The digitally purloined material has appeared on websites such as DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks. It has included the private emails of former secretary of state Colin Powell and aides to former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

An online persona calling himself Guccifer 2.0 has claimed responsibility for posting the material. Those sites and that persona are “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the statement said. “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

New York Post, Wikileaks releases excerpts of Hillary’s paid speech transcripts, Carl Campanile, Oct. 7, 2016. Hacked e-mails show Hillary Clinton’s campaign was concerned that remarks she made in paid speeches to Wall Street firms behind closed doors would become public and used against her by political opponents.

Hillary ClintonExcerpts of her speeches, contained in e-mails sent to campaign chairman John Podesta and leaked Friday by Wikileaks, show Clinton promoting herself as a proponent of free trade. “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders,” Clinton is quoted as telling a Brazilian Bank in 2013.

“We have to resist, protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade.” Candidate Clinton opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which she backed as secretary of state.

Clinton campaign research director Tony Carrk was so worried about the political impact if the speeches ever came out that he sent Podesta some possible damaging headlines.
“Clinton admits she is out of touch," "Clinton says you need to have a private and public poition on policy,” and “Clinton remarks are pro Keystone and pro trade,” he warned in a January 2016 e-mail. Clinton was paid up to $225,000 per speech and earned more than $3 million from financial firms.

FiveThirtyEight, Election Update: Are Trump’s Polls Getting Worse? Nate Silver, Oct. 7, 2016. Donald Trump had drawn to within 1 or 2 percentage points of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote and into a near-tie in the Electoral College before last Monday’s presidential debate. But the debate almost immediately moved the polls in Clinton’s favor, putting her in a much more comfortable position. Now the question is whether Trump’s problems have grown worse since then.

As far as FiveThirtyEight’s forecast models are concerned, the answer is a pretty clear “yes.” In our polls-only model, Clinton’s chances were 55 percent before the debate and increased to 72 percent as of this Monday. But her odds have also grown significantly over the course of this week, to 80 percent now, which corresponds to a lead of 5 or 6 percentage point in the popular vote. Our polls-plus model has followed a similar but slightly more conservative trajectory, with Clinton’s probability increasing from 55 percent before the debate, to 68 percent on Monday, to 76 percent now.

New York Daily News, Trump continues to blast Central Park Five long after they were exonerated: 'They admitted they were guilty,' David Boroff, Oct. 7, 2016. Donald Trump continues to hammer away at the Central Park Five even though they have long been exonerated for the rape of a jogger in 1989. The Republican presidential candidate told CNN in a statement this week that "they admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same."

The five teens spent several years in jail, but the charges were dropped in 2002 after convicted killer and rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime. Authorities were able to tie Reyes' DNA to the Central Park attack, but no DNA evidence had been found to connect the teens. The Central Park Five eventually agreed to a $41 million settlement.

Foreign News

SouthFront, Russia to Take Down any Airplane or Missile Targeting Syrian Army, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2016. Using the Russian and Syrian air power, the Syrian Arab Army and its allies took the opportunity to make further advances in Aleppo city. On October 6, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad repeated a guarantee of safe passage to the rebels holed up in Aleppo.

However, this offer from the legitimate government of Syria was overshadowed by a highly publicized statement from United Nations Syrian Envoy Staffan de Mistura in which he volunteered to personally accompany some Jabhat al Nusra fighters from the city as a human shield. The unprecedented offer was bluntly rejected by Jabhat al Nusra, which reaffirmed its collective desire to continue attempts to break the siege instead of making peace.

Major General Igor Konashenkov (chief spokesman for Russia's defense ministry) promised that no U.S. aircraft would be immune from the threat the S-300 and S-400 air defense batteries pose in case of military strikes on the government-controlled areas. Konashenkov (shown in a file photo) pointed to the airstrikes against Syrian government forces in Der ez-Zor as one of the primary motivating factors in importing the potent weapon systems.

Associated Press via Washington Post, The Latest: Russia backs UN call for al-Qaida Aleppo exit, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2016. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow backs the U.N. Syria envoy’s call on al-Qaida-linked militants to leave the besieged city of Aleppo. Hundreds of people have died as the Syrian army backed by Russian warplanes has Sergey Lavrovstepped up its offensive on rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Special envoy Staffan de Mistura urged fighters from Fatah al-Sham Front, previously known as the Nusra Front, to evacuate to another part of the country to save the ancient city from complete destruction.

Lavrov (shown in a file photo) backed de Mistura’s proposal, saying Friday that Moscow is ready to ask Damascus to allow the militants to leave the city with their weapons “for the sake of saving Aleppo.”

He added that policies must also be developed to deal with other militants who choose to stay in Aleppo. The Russian parliament is discussing the ratification of a treaty with Syria that allows Russian troops to stay indefinitely in the Mideast country. Lawmakers spoke in favor of the agreement, in a sign of support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom Moscow has backed throughout the devastating civil war. The vote is to be held later Friday. The treaty allows Russia to keep its forces at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, Assad’s Alawite heartland, as long as it wants.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Did I Say That? State Department Official Admits Ties to Terrorist Groups, Mike Whitney, Oct. 7, 2016. The United States is on the wrong side in the Syrian war. The U.S. is on the side of al Qaida, the terrorist organization that killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Jabhat al Nusra, which is the name of al Qaida’s branch in Syria, is the most powerful and effective militia currently fighting against the Syrian government.

Al Nusra is not comprised of “moderates” that are fighting for democracy, civil liberties or human rights. They are Islamic extremists that want to remove the secular government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and replace it with an Islamic caliphate that will ruthlessly enforce Sharia law. The bulk of al Nusra’s foot-soldiers are not Syrian nationals, but foreign-born militants recruited by the various Intelligence agencies (US, Turkish, Saudi and Qatar) from around the world.

A large portion of these fighters have been armed, trained and funded by these same intel agencies. Whether al Nusra gets its marching orders directly from Langley, Riyadh or Ankara, is a matter of considerable debate. (I, personally, don’t think they do.) But it is also completely irrelevant. What’s more important is that these terrorist organizations are mainly the invention of the western intel agencies that use jihadists to advance their own geopolitical agendas in places like Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya, Somalia etc. Absent state support, these gangs of cutthroats would likely wither and vanish in a matter of months.

SouthFront, Russia’s Parliament Ratifies Indefinite Deployment of Air Force in Syria, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2017. The lower house of Russia’s parliament ratified an agreement with Syria that authorizes the Syria Flagindefinite deployment of a Russian air group at the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria’s province of Latakia. The agreement was signed in Damascus on August 26, 2015, and was submitted by Moscow for ratification in the beginning of August, 2016.

Russia will use the Khmeimim Air Base ‘free-of-charge’ and will carry out supplies to the base without customs or any other duties. The Russian military began its military operations against terrorist groups in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of Syrian government.

Memoriag via SouthFront, Putin Issues a Ultimatum to the United States to Leave Eastern Europe, Translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront, Oct. 7, 2017. Vladimir Putin asked the US to remove its defense infrastructure from Eastern Europe and from the territory of new NATO members in the Balkans and the Baltics (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland) as well as its troops stationed there in recent years. He also insists that Washington’s sanction are lifted and compensation paid for the damage caused by them.

Middle East Eye, Obama’s Syria policy and the illusion of US power in the Middle East, Gareth Porter, Oct. 7, 2016. One of Obama's biggest failures is letting his policy in Syria be determined primarily by the ambitions of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. With the collapse of the US-Russian ceasefire agreement and the resumption and escalation of the massive Russian bombing campaign in Aleppo, the frustration of hawks in Washington over the failure of the Obama administration to use American military power in Syria has risen to new heights.

But the administration’s inability to do anything about Russian military escalation in Aleppo is the logical result of the role the Obama administration has been playing in Syria over the past five years. The problem is that the administration has pursued policy objectives that it lacked the means to achieve. That strategy was upended when the Russians intervened forcefully in September 2015.

Obama, who was firmly committed to avoiding any direct conflict with Russia over Syria, vetoed any threat to use force in Syria in response to the Russian intervention. US complicity in the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Syrian War, and now in the massive civilian casualties in the Russian bombing of Aleppo, does not consist in its refusal to go to war in Syria but in its providing the political-diplomatic cover for the buildup of the al-Nusra Front and its larger interlocking system of military commands. A US administration that played a true superpower role would have told its allies not to start a war in Syria by arming jihadists, using the fundamentals of the alliance as the leverage.

Oct. 6

Foreign News

Washington Post, U.N. envoy says eastern Aleppo may face ‘total destruction,’ Karen DeYoung, Oct. 6, 2016. Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy for Syria, said Thursday that he would “physically accompany” to safety jihadist fighters who can be persuaded to leave Aleppo to remove what he said is an “easy alibi” being used by Russia and the Syrian government to bomb the city. With some apparent desperation in his voice, de Mistura (shown below in a UN photo from January) said that rebel-occupied eastern Aleppo may face “total destruction” by the end of the year if the fighting is not stopped.

Staff de Mistura UN photoThose two countries have continued a relentless bombing campaign over the eastern part of the city, where U.S.-backed opposition forces are mixed with the militants, saying that they are striking only “Nusra terrorists.”

The bombing began within days after a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire took effect on Sept. 12. Russia has charged that the United States has not complied with its obligations under the deal to separate opposition fighters from the jihadists. The United States has said that a cessation of all bombing was supposed to be the first step in the agreement, along with the safe and sustained delivery of food and medical supplies to the besieged civilians.

De Mistura said that the total number of opposition fighters in Aleppo is about 8,000, less than a tenth of whom are members of the Front. U.N. humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland said that at least 376 people have been killed there over the past two weeks, and that the Syrian government had not supplied permits for the safe passage of any humanitarian aid in the country.

Syria photos of Aleppo damage Oct. 5, 2016Associated Press via Washington Post, U.N. releases satellite images of damage in Syria’s Aleppo, James Keaten, Oct. 6, 2016. The U.N. on Wednesday released stark satellite images (above) showing the most recent destruction of Syria’s embattled northern city of Aleppo, pounded by Syrian and Russian airstrikes since the collapse of a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire two weeks ago. The release coincides with a stepped-up offensive by Syrian pro-government forces that are attacking the city from the south in a bid to penetrate its opposition-controlled areas, where the U.N. estimates 275,000 people are trapped in a government siege.

Washington Post, Indian call center employees posing as the IRS may have bilked Americans out of millions, Rama Lakshmi, Oct. 6, 2016. Dramatic police raids this week spotlight growing call center fraud crimes in India.

 

Marine Le PenZero Hedge, France’s Marine Le Pen Says EU Responsible For “Monstrous Chaos In Syria,” Tyler Durden, Oct. 6, 2016. With the proxy war in Syria escalating dramatically on a day-by-day basis, Marine Le Pen (shown above in a file photo), leader of France’s National Front party and the frontrunner for the role of president in near year’s French elections, accused the European Union of being responsible for the ongoing chaos in Syria. She added that Europe has been too busy trying to overthrow Assad while Russia was actually fighting terrorists.

French Flag“You’ve done everything to bring down the government of Syria," She said, "throwing the country into a terrible civil war, while accusing Russia which is actually fighting Islamic State. Your responsibility could not be concealed.” Speaking at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Wednesday, she also mentioned that conservative policies advocated by both the United States and the European Union contributed to plunge Iraq into chaos. 

The Euro-sceptic politician then moved from the war in Syria to its logical, and intended according to some, outcome: Europe's refugee crisis. She slammed the bloc’s approach toward immigration as "irresponsible," stating that the current migrant policies only increase the number of economic migrants.

“No real measures are taken to curb the crisis. Your irresponsible policy, on the contrary, brings us more and more economic migrants,” Le Pen said, adding that only 30 percent of the migrants that had arrived in the EU were from Syria.

Le Pen, who intends to ride the wave of anti-immigrant anger sweeping French society in next year's presidential election, has repeatedly spoken out  on the migrant crisis and security issues in Europe and France. France has been hit by a number of deadly terror attacks within the past two years, with a state of emergency declared after the November 2015 attacks in Paris and prolonged following an attack this July in Nice.

Military.com, Russia Strongly Warns US Against Striking Syrian Army, Vladimir Isachenkov, Oct. 6, 2016. The Russian military on Thursday strongly warned the United States against striking the Syrian army, noting that its air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack. The statement underlined high tensions between Moscow and Washington after the collapse of a U.S.-Russia-brokered Syria truce and the Syrian army's offensive on Aleppo backed by Russian warplanes.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said any U.S. strikes on areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government could jeopardize the lives of Russian servicemen. He said Moscow was worried by media reports alleging that Washington was pondering the possibility of striking Syrian army positions.

"I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfillment of such plans," Konashenkov said. In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said "We're looking at the full range of options here and those comments notwithstanding, we still have a responsibility as a government to consider all those options."

"I don't find them (comments like the warning) helpful to moving forward, to reach some sort of diplomatic solution here. But the Russians should speak for themselves and why they're saying that kind of thing," he said.

The Saker, Russian options against a US attack on Syria, The Saker, Oct. 5, 2016. The tensions between Russia and the USA have reached an unprecedented level. Both sides are now going to the so-called Russian pilot“Plan B” which, simply put, stand for, at best, no negotiations and, at worst, a war between Russia and the USA.

The key thing to understand in the Russian stance in this, an other, recent conflicts with the USA is that Russia is still much weaker than the USA and that she therefore does not want war. That does not, however, mean that she is not actively preparing for war. In fact, she very much and actively does. All this means is that should a conflict occur, Russia you try, as best can be, to keep it as limited as possible. In theory, these are, very roughly, the possible levels of confrontation:

  •     A military standoff à la Berlin in 1961. One could argue that this is what is already taking place right now, albeit in a more long-distance and less visible way.
  •     A single military incident, such as what happened recently when Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 and Russia chose not to retaliate.
  •     A series of localized clashes similar to what is currently happening between India and Pakistan.
  •     A conflict limited to the Syrian theater of war (say like the war between the UK and Argentina over the Malvinas Islands).
  •     A regional or global military confrontation between the USA and Russia.
  •     A full scale thermonuclear war between the USA and Russia

During my years as a student of military strategy I have participated in many exercises on escalation and de-escalation and I can attest that while it is very easy to come up with escalatory scenarios, I have yet to see a credible scenario for de-escalation. What is possible, however, is the so-called “horizontal escalation” or “asymmetrical escalation” in which one side choses not to up the ante or directly escalate, but instead choses a different target for retaliation, not necessarily a more valuable one, just a different one on the same level of conceptual importance (in the USA Joshua M. Epstein and Spencer D. Bakich did most of the groundbreaking work on this topic).

The main reason why we can expect the Kremlin to try to find asymmetrical options to respond to a US attack is that in the Syrian context Russia is hopelessly outgunned by the US/NATO, at least in quantitative terms. The logical solutions for the Russians is to use their qualitative advantage or to seek “horizontal targets” as possible retaliatory options. This week, something very interesting and highly uncharacteristic happened: Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Chief of the Directorate of Media service and Information of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, openly mentioned one such option. Here is what he said:

    “As for Kirby’s threats about possible Russian aircraft losses and the sending of Russian servicemen back to Russia in body bags, I would say that we know exactly where and how many “unofficial specialists” operate in Syria and in the Aleppo province and we know that they are involved in the operational planning and that they supervise the operations of the militants. Of course, one can continue to insist that they are unsuccessfully involved in trying to separate the al-Nusra terrorists from the “opposition” forces. But if somebody tries to implement these threats, it is by no means certain that these militants will have to time to get the hell out of there.”

Nice, no? Konashenkov appears to be threatening the “militants” but he is sure to mention that there are plenty of “unofficial specialists” amongst these militants and that Russia knows exactly where they are and how many of them there are. Of course, officially, Obama has declared that there are a few hundred such US special advisors in Syria. A well-informed Russian source suggests that there are up to 5’000 foreign ‘advisors’ to the Takfiris including about 4’000 Americans. I suppose that the truth is somewhere between these two figures.

So the Russian threat is simple: you attack us and we will attack US forces in Syria. Of course, Russia will vehemently deny targeting US servicemen and insist that the strike was only against terrorists, but both sides understand what is happening here.

SouthFront, US Army Chief Threatens War with Russia, Staff report from wires, Oct. 6, 2016. US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley said that the US is ready to “destroy” its enemies, referring to Russia. The US is ready to “destroy” its enemies, Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley said last night, referring to Russia.

American Flag"I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm – the United States military – despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing – we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that,” media quoted Milley’s words.

He also noted that other countries, including Russia, had taken advantage of the U.S. being focused on the war on terror. Forty million Russians from all sectors of the Russian government are currently participating in a “nationwide emergency drill that will wargame ‘evacuation’ procedures during a national crisis.”

SouthFront, Russian Ministry of Defense: Media Leaks About US Strikes on Syrian Army Preface to Real Action. Staff report, Oct. 6, 2016. Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defense ministry's chief information officer, said Thursday that the Russian Defense Ministry believes the leaks to the media about possible US strikes on the Syrian army could be a preface to real action.

“A number of Western media outlets have published “leaks” about the talks held in the White House administration about the possibility to hold missile and airstrikes on the positions of the Syrian army,” the general (shown in a ministry file photo) told journalists. “As history has shown, such “leaks” often prove to be a preface to real action.“

Konashenkov also reminded to “all the ‘hotheads’ that following the September 17 coalition airstrike on the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor we took all necessary measures to exclude any similar ‘accidents’ happening to Russian forces in Syria.” The statement referred to the recent deployment of an additional battery of S-300 air-defense system and the overall air-defense capabilities of the Russian military grouping in Syria.

Konashenkov added that military strike on the government-controlled territories, would pose clear threat to Russian military personnel because Russian officers are working on the ground, providing humanitarian help and holding talks with representatives of local communities and militia units across the country.

“Russian S-300, S-400 air defense systems deployed in Syria’s Hmeymim and Tartus have combat ranges that may surprise any unidentified airborne targets. Operators of Russian air defense systems won’t have time to identify the origin of airstrikes, and the response will be immediate. Any illusions about “invisible” jets will inevitably be crushed by disappointing reality.”

SouthFront, Up to 60,000 Iranian-Backed Fighters Operate in Syria, Staff report, Oct. 6, 2016. A pro-US media outlet, Orient-news, released the estimated intelligence on the Iranian military involvement in the war.

Political News

Washington Post, Trump’s use of debts and tax laws spurs concerns about his methods, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Drew Harwell​, Oct. 6, 2016. Voters are being asked to reconcile two diametrically opposed views of Donald Trump: his own narrative that he is a financial wizard who simply used the laws of the country to protect himself, and Hillary Clinton’s contention that he is a rapacious and unrestrained capitalist who “games the system.”

Huffington Post, Paul Ryan Burns Final Shred Of Dignity, Will Campaign With Trump, Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 6, 2016. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is campaigning with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Wisconsin on Saturday, though it kind of seems he didn’t want you to know that. Ryan’s campaign released a media advisory Thursday titled, “Paul Ryan to Attend Annual Fall Fest in Walworth County.” It’s an event in Ryan’s home state, and the advisory lists lots of state officials attending. Oh, and three paragraphs in, it mentions Trump will be there too. He condemns the GOP nominee all the time. But he’s still voting for him.

Washington Post, In a year of Trump and new voting laws, U.S. government will ‘severely’ limit election observers, Sari Horwitz, Oct. 6, 2016.  The Justice Department is significantly reducing the number of federal observers stationed inside polling places in next month’s election at the same time that voters will face strict new election laws in more than a dozen states.

​Oct. 5

Around the Nation

CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence, Review: 'The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA and The Rise of America’s Secret Government,' (HarperCollins, 2015, 686 pp.), Reviewed by J. R. Seeger, Oct. 5, David Talbot Dulles Devil's Chessboard Book Cover2016. The Devil’s Chessboard is really two very different books in one. The first half of the book is a detailed description of the early leadership of the CIA with very specific attention (as stated in the title) to Allen Dulles and the way he ran the CIA in the 1950s and first years of 1960s. Along with the detailed background on Dulles—including tracking his work against Nazi Germany and the early days of the Cold War—we are given profiles of Richard Helms, William Colby, and James J. Angleton, as well as a number of CIA foot soldiers whose work in the Cold War is used to set the stage for the second half of the book.

Talbot, a journalist and founding editor of Salon.com, documents strategic decisions that CIA leadership made during the early days of the Cold War, emphasizing alleged associations between CIA operations and former Nazis, hardline anti-communists, mercenaries, coup plotters, and members of organized crime — often to the exclusion of any other discussion. While it may be uncomfortable for members of the Intelligence Community to read some of these chapters, Talbot has done detailed research in his effort to stitch together a story. It may appear to most readers as prosecutorial or adversarial in tone, but this perspective needs to be read and understood, even if it is only part of the story of the CIA in the 1950s.

The second half of the book takes the reader past the details of the early Cold War into a world made up entirely of Talbot’s opinions and cherry-picked quotations from government and media documents. The world he believes in is encapsulated in the following paragraph:

"Unmanaged by the White House and unsupervised by Congress, Dulles’s CIA grew to become the most potent agency of the Eisenhower era. Dulles was a master at seeding Washington bureaucracies with agency men, placing his loyalists in top positions in the Pentagon, State Department, and even the White House. The CIA became increasingly intertwined with the armed services, as military officers were assigned to agency missions, and then sent back to their military posts as “ardent disciples of Allen Dulles,” in the words of Air Force Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, who served as a liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA between 1955 and 1963." (251)

Unfortunately, The Devil’s Chessboard will serve as a textbook for many conspiracy theory devotees and others who are convinced “a secret government” runs the United States from the shadows. It is equally unfortunate that a book whose important research provides an auspicious beginning ends with speculation and conjecture.

Washington Post, A 7-year-old told her bus driver she couldn’t wake her parents. Police found them dead at home, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 5, 2016. For more than a day, the 7-year-old girl had been trying to wake her parents. Dutifully, she got dressed in their apartment outside Pittsburgh on Monday morning and went to school, keeping her worries to herself. But on the bus ride home, McKeesport, Pa., police say, she told the driver she’d been unable to rouse the adults in her house. Inside the home, authorities found the bodies of Christopher Dilly, 26, and Jessica Lally, 25, dead of suspected drug overdoses, according to police.

The case cast a light on Allegheny County’s epidemic of drug overdoses — and their impact on families. There were 422 opioid-overdose deaths in Allegheny County last year, according to the report — the largest death toll in county history. “And the upward trend continues.”

Washington Post, Accused contractor is suspected in leak of NSA hacking tools, Ellen Nakashima, Matt Zapotosky and John Woodrow Cox, Oct. 5, 2016. The suspect, a Booz Allen Hamilton technology NSA Logocontractor from Maryland, was arrested and charged with stealing classified information. Officials believe he has been “hoarding” sensitive materials for as long as a decade.

Washington Post, Top CIA officers to face questions about brutal interrogations in lawsuit, Greg Miller, Oct. 5, 2016. Two former high-ranking CIA officials will be compelled to answer questions under oath about the agency’s brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects, a federal judge ruled Tuesday as part of a lawsuit brought against former CIA contractors by the American Civil Liberties Union.

CIA LogoThe ruling would require Jose Rodriguez, who was the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and John Rizzo, the agency’s former acting general counsel, to submit to depositions about a program that used methods widely condemned as torture.

“This ruling is a critical step towards accountability, and it charts a way forward for torture victims to get their day in court,” ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a statement released by the organization after the ruling in federal court in Spokane, Wash.

The ACLU is representing three former CIA detainees in a suit against agency contract psychologists, James E. Mitchell and John B. “Bruce” Jessen, who were among the main architects of a program that subjected al-Qaeda suspects to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other coercive measures.

Political News

FiveThirtyEight.com, Vice Presidential Debate Will Dominate One News Cycle, Nate Silver, Oct. 5, 2016. The vice presidential debate Tuesday night was a conventional affair between two conventional politicians — especially given what we’ve seen so far this election. After watching (and live-blogging) the debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence, our elections podcast crew gathered to offer their late-night reactions. The team discussed the key moments, how Pence tried to account for Donald Trump’s record, and whether this will affect on the polls (it probably won’t). Take a listen above, and be sure to visit the live blog for lots more analysis.

New York Times, In Vice-Presidential Debate, Focus Was on Top of the Tickets, Jonathan Martin and Patrick Healy, Oct. 5, 2016. Senator Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence clashed over the merits of their running mates, with both men scrambling to defend the policies of the two presidential candidates. Mr. Pence was more formal and mild-mannered than his rival, while Mr. Kaine was far more aggressive from the start.

New York Times, A Rare Source of Accord in Debate? Syria, Mark Landler, Oct. 5, 2016. The pair called for a more aggressive American response to the conflict, such as setting up zones in the country to protect civilians. 

With the humanitarian and refugee crisis in Syria spiraling to new depths, the Democratic and Republican vice-presidential candidates, in their debate on Tuesday, called for a more aggressive American response to the civil war than President Obama has undertaken. Even as they argued over Donald J. Trump’s income taxes and Hillary Clinton’s email practices, the candidates, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, found common ground on what is perhaps the thorniest geopolitical crisis today.

Both said they favored a proposal to create humanitarian “safe zones” in northern Syria to protect civilians being bombarded by the Syrian government. Neither was precise about what would be needed to create such corridors, though analysts say it would almost certainly require American warplanes to enforce a no-fly zone.

Washington Post, How 10 mega-donors already helped pour a record $1.1 billion into super PACs, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, Oct. 5, 2016. Super PACs seeking to influence the 2016 elections have collected more than $1 billion, a record haul driven by jumbo-sized contributions from rich donors on both sides of the aisle.

Just 10 mega-donor individuals and couples contributed nearly 20 percent of the $1.1 billion raised by super PACs by the end of August, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports. The total exceeds the $853 million that super PACs collected in the entire 2012 cycle.

See also: Washington Post, Super PACs have raised just over $1 billion since August. Meet 2016’s wealthy donors, Anu Narayanswamy, Aaron Williams and Matea Gold, Oct. 5, 2016.

Washington Post, Pence wins, Trump loses in vice-presidential debate, James Hohmann, Oct. 5, 2016. Conventional wisdom gelled overnight that Mike Pence prevailed in the one and only vice-presidential debate. The Indiana governor’s background as a talk radio host helped. Bigly, one might say. He was a smooth and amiable happy warrior. Tim Kaine, embracing the attack dog role that a running-mate traditionally plays, came across poorly as he repeatedly interrupted and trained his fire on Donald Trump.

In Frank Luntz’s focus group during last week’s presidential debate, 16 participants said Hillary Clinton won and six said Trump did. In a separate focus group Luntz conducted in Ohio last night for CBS News, 22 said the Indiana governor prevailed and four said the Virginia senator did.

It may not matter: “Overall it was an unsatisfying, disjointed debate,” Dan Balz writes. “It probably changed few minds and no doubt brought some encouragement to the bases of the two parties. In that way, it was a typical vice-presidential debate.”

Politico, Obama administration won't fight court ruling on private email, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 5, 2016. The Obama administration has passed up its last chance to overturn a groundbreaking federal appeals court ruling that messages in government officials' private email accounts can sometimes be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The Justice Department's decision not to challenge the ruling leaves it in place as a binding precedent in dozens of pending lawsuits involving emails kept on Hillary Clinton's private email server and on private accounts maintained by her top aides.

ABC News, Trump Tells Nevadans How to Pronounce 'Nevada' ... Incorrectly, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2016. Donald Trump raised some eyebrows in the Silver State on Wednesday night when he told Nevadans how to pronounce their state's name — differently from them.

"Heroin overdoses are surging and meth overdoses in Nevada — Nuh-VAH-da," he told the crowd in Reno. "And you know what I said? I said when I came out here, I said nobody says it the other day, has to be Nuh-VAH-da. "And if you don't say it correctly, and it didn’t happen to me, but it happened to a friend of mine — he was killed."

Generally, the state's name is pronounced Nuh-VAD-uh.

New York Times, Donald Trump’s Slip in Polls Has G.O.P. Worried About Congress, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Oct. 5, 2016. Donald J. Trump’s support has plunged across the swing-state map over the last 10 days, wiping out his political recovery from September and threatening to undo weeks of Republican gains in the battle for control of Congress.

For his party, Mr. Trump’s reversal in fortune comes at the worst possible moment: Having muted their criticism of Mr. Trump in hopes that he could at least run competitively through Election Day, Republicans must decide in the next few days, rather than weeks, whether to seek distance from his wobbly campaign. Should Mr. Trump falter badly in his second debate with Hillary Clinton on Sunday in St. Louis, Republican congressional candidates may take it as a cue to flee openly from their nominee, said two senior Republicans involved at high levels of the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private party strategy.

Foreign News

Associated Press via Washington Post, Kerry, Lavrov discuss Syria despite US suspension of talks, Matthew Lee, Oct. 5, 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart resumed discussions on Syria on Wednesday despite a U.S. decision earlier this week to suspend direct talks with Moscow on trying to end the conflict.

Military.com, Army Chief Issues Stark Warning to Potential Enemies, Matthew Cox, Oct. 5, 2016. The U.S. Army's chief of staff on Tuesday issued a stern warning to potential threats such as Russia and vowed the service will defeat any foe in ground combat. "The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven't faced in many, many decades," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told an audience at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Gen. Mark Milley, U.S. Army Chief of Staff"I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm … the United States military -- despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing -- we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that." Milley's comments come during an election year in which voters will decide a new president and commander in chief -- and a period of increased military activity of near-peer competitors, including Russia and China.

The Army has struggled to rebuild its readiness after more than a decade of extended combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The service has significantly cut the size of its force since the Cold War and decreased its modernization budget in the last decade, Milley said. "While we focused on the counter-terrorist fight, other countries -- Russia, Iran, China, North Korea -- went to school on us," he said. "They studied our doctrine, our tactics, our equipment, our organization, our training, our leadership. And, in turn, they revised their own doctrines, and they are rapidly modernizing their military today to avoid our strengths in hopes of defeating us at some point in the future."

Milley also quoted a senior Russian official as saying publicly, "The established world order is undergoing a foundational shake-up" and that "Russia can now fight a conventional war in Europe and win." The general warned that future warfare with a near-peer adversary will "be highly lethal, unlike anything our Army has experienced at least since World War II."

Wall Street Journal, Stop Assad Now — Or Expect Years of War, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee), Oct. 5, 2016. Ground the regime’s air force, create safe zones for Syrian civilians, and arm the opposition. “The U.S. and its John McCaincoalition partners must issue an ultimatum to Mr. Assad — stop flying or lose your aircraft — and be prepared to follow through," the Arizona senator said.

"If Russia continues its indiscriminate bombing, we should make clear that we will take steps to hold its aircraft at greater risk," continued McCain, shown in a file photo and now seeking re-election in Arizona to another six-year term. "And we must create safe zones for Syrian civilians and do what is necessary to protect them against violations by Mr. Assad, Mr. Putin and extremist forces.”

SouthFront, US Considers Military Strikes on Govt Forces, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2016. Russian and Syrian warplanes have delivered massive air strikes on the joint terrorist forces in the province of Hama. US military strikes against the Syrian government is at the top of the agenda today at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the coalition in Syria, The Washington Post daily reported.

The US officials are going to push forward so-called “limited military strikes” in order to, according to the official version, prevent violations of the cease-fire by the Assad government and disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo and, for sure, to push it back to the negotiating table.

The options under consideration reportedly include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships. The report says the idea is supported by the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One proposed way to do so without a UN Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment.

This approach also explains the coalition’s actions against the Syrian army outside Deir Ezzor in September when over 60 pro-government fighters were killed and over 100 injured in air strikes lately called an accident by US officials. Now, there are little doubts that it was likely an intended move to damage the government forces fighting with ISIS in the area.

SouthFront, Russia Accuses US of Blocking UNSC Statement on Shelling of Russian Embassy in Syria, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2016. A statement of the UN Security Council in connection with the mortar firing of the Russian embassy in Damascus has virtually been blocked by the US delegation. The Russian delegation to the UN has initiated a statement of the Security Council in connection with the mortar firing of the Russian embassy in Damascus, but it has been virtually blocked, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a statement of the Russia’s Permanent Representation to the UN.

The Russian delegation proposed to release the statement, condemning the mortar attack on the Russian embassy in Damascus. “It was virtually blocked by the US delegation, which tried to introduce extraneous elements into the text, which is standard for such cases,” the Permanent Representation pointed out.

Russian diplomats regarded action of the US as “blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” “We have to admit that moral principles of some our colleagues on the Security Council have seriously shaken,” the statement read.

On October 3, the Russian Embassy in Damascus came under mortar fire. One of the shells exploded on the territory of the embassy, while two shells fell down next to the building. According to a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry, no one was injured as a result of the attack, which was carried out from the territory, controlled by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (previously known as the Al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorist group.

Oct. 4

Political News

Julian Assange Indicter

Washington Post, Trump backers realize they’ve been played as WikiLeaks fails to deliver October surprise, Griff Witte, Oct. 4, 2016. For weeks, Donald Trump backers had hyped the possibility that WikiLeaks was on the verge of publishing documents that would doom Hillary Clinton’s chances in November. But it now looks like the WikiLeaks' founder (shown above in a file photo) borrowed a page from the GOP nominee’s own playbook. “@HillaryClinton is done,” longtime Trump associate Roger Stone tweeted on Saturday. “#Wikileaks.”

The group’s founder, Julian Assange, did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm, suggesting to Fox News hosts that his scoops could upend the race with documents “associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting.” The announcement by WikiLeaks that it would host a major press conference on Tuesday only seemed to confirm that the bombshell was ready to burst. The pro-Trump, anti-Clinton media world rippled with fevered speculation.

But if an October surprise about the Democratic nominee really is coming, it will have to wait a little longer. Over the course of two hours on Tuesday — with the world’s media and bleary-eyed Trump diehards across the United States tuning in — Assange and other WikiLeaks officials railed against “neo-McCarthyist hysteria,” blasted the mainstream press, appealed for donations and plugged their books (“40 percent off!”).

But what they didn’t do was provide any new information about Clinton – or about anything else, really. The much-vaunted press conference, as it turned out, was little more than an extended infomercial for WikiLeaks on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its founding.

Compare: The Hill, Roger Stone: Wednesday will be end of Clinton's campaign, Jessie Hellmann, Oct. 2, 2016.

Fox News, WikiLeaks' 'October Surprise' fails; Assange promises more to come, Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. Despite widespread speculation Julian Assange would reveal game-changing information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Assange's 3 a.m. ET appearance featured no new revelations, although he did promise to publish information regarding the presidential election “every week for the next 10 weeks.”

Washington Post, Al Gore to campaign for Clinton, Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 4, 2016. Former vice president Al Gore will start campaigning for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to individuals briefed on the plan, in an effort to mobilize young voters who see climate change as a key issue. The decision by Gore to plunge into the campaign during the final weeks shows the extent to which Democrats remain concerned that Clinton has yet to connect with many millennials, some of whom are backing third-party candidates this year.

The former vice president, a climate activist, will speak about not just Clinton’s plan to address global warming, but also the idea that voting for an independent presidential candidate could deliver the White House to Republicans in the same way that Ralph Nader’s candidacy helped undermine his presidential bid in 2000.

Politico, Trump tax losses could explain some Trump Foundation antics, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 4, 2016. The massive losses Donald Trump appears to have reported on his tax returns could explain some of the unusual antics related to the financing of the Trump Foundation, tax experts said. The tax deductions some Americans get for donating to charity would not have been available to Trump in years where he had a net operating losses, such as the massive loss he reported in 1995, according to portions of three Trump state tax returns published Saturday by the New York Times.

Donald Trump 2016 buttonThat loss of nearly $916 million is believed to have carried over for many years, likely wiping out his taxable income for a long period, perhaps up to 15 years. The lack of a tax deduction during that time would have reduced Trump's financial incentive to make charitable gifts and may have made it more attractive to direct personal income or money owed to his companies to his personal foundation.

The Hill, Biden on Trump’s PTSD Remarks: ‘Where in the Hell Is He From?’ Jessie Hellmann,Oct. 4, 2016. Vice President Joe Biden gave a passionate response to Donald Trump’s controversial Monday comments about post-traumatic stress disorder and military veterans, at one point asking the crowd: “Where in the hell is he from?” Biden was in Sarasota, Florida, at a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t think he was trying to be mean,” Biden said. “He is just so thoroughly, completely uninformed.” Trump had said at an event earlier in the day: “When people come back from war and combat and they see maybe what people in this room have seen many times over—and you’re strong and you can handle it—but a lot of people can’t handle it and they see horror stories.”

The Local (France), Saudi princess 'told guard to kill Paris decorator,' Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. A Saudi princess has been accused of ordering her guard to "beat up and kill" an interior decorator in Paris. It all allegedly started when the decorator took photos inside the woman's apartment block on the chic Avenue Foch in Paris, reported Le Point newspaper.  The Saudi Princess accused the man of taking the pictures just to sell them to the press, although he said it was just part of the job. 

"You have to kill this dog, he doesn't deserve to live," the princess allegedly told her bodyguard soon afterwards.   It's alleged that the bodyguard then struck the decorator in the head before tying his hands. The guard, who was (legally) armed, then reportedly ordered the Parisian decorator to kneel and kiss the feet of the princess, who is the daughter of the former king Khalid of Saudi Arabia. The victim told police that the ordeal lasted for four hours before another man intervened, taking a copy of the Parisian man's ID and then telling him "to never return to the 16th arrondissement of Paris." 

RealClearPolitics, Trump Used Foundation Funds for 2016 Run, Filings Suggest, Rebecca Berg, Oct. 4, 2016. As Donald Trump began making noise about a possible bid for president in 2011, South Carolina conservative activist Oran Smith caught the celebrity businessman’s eye as a particularly vocal and potentially influential critic. "Trump would get thumped here,” Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council, a social conservative public policy group, told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “He is a celebrity, but an apprentice at politics.”

Smith's comments appeared in a March 2011 CBN story alongside feedback from other key national evangelical leaders such as Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins. Shortly after the story ran, Trump called Smith and invited him to meet at Trump Tower in New York, Smith told RealClearPolitics, “to see if he could convince me those things weren’t true.” “It probably had something to do with, I was in an early primary state,” Smith said. Trump was “laying the foundation for a ... campaign,” Smith thought at the time, although “it was difficult trying to tell if he was serious about running for president or not.”

NJ.com / Advance Media, Ex-Republican security leader: I'm voting for Clinton over Trump, Brent Johnson, Oct. 4, 2016. Michael Chertoff, a lifelong Republican who once served as New Jersey's top federal prosecutor and who has been an adversary of the Clintons for years, told Bloomberg News that he is voting for Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump for president next month. Chertoff, who was also served as U.S. homeland security secretary in President George W. Bush's second term, told the news agency that the decision to buck his party and vote for Clinton, the Democratic nominee, over Trump, the Republican nominee, came down to national security.

"I realized we spent a huge amount of time in the '90s on issues that were much less important than what was brewing in terms of terrorism," Chertoff, an Elizabeth native who served as New Jersey's U.S. attorney in the 1990s, told Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake. Chertoff added that Clinton "has good judgment and a strategic vision how to deal with the threats that face us."

He said so despite having a contentious relationship in the past with Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. In the 1990s, Chertoff was the lead Republican counsel on the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee investigating the Clintons. In 2001, Hillary Clinton, then a senator from New York, cast the only vote in the Senate against Chertoff when he was nominated in to head the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division. And in 2003, Clinton was also the only senator to vote against Chertoff when he was nominated to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chertoff's opposition to Trump isn't a surprise. In August, he was one of 50 former Republican national security officials who signed an open letter saying Trump would put the nation's "national security and well-being" at risk if he's elected to the White House.

Foreign News

SouthFront, Russian Aircraft Carry Out Airstrikes in Syria: Hundreds of Terrorists Killed, Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. Several airstrikes have been carried out by Russian fighter jets in provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama Russian SU-34and Homs. As result, hundreds of terrorists have been killed and their military hardware has been destroyed. The Russian Aerospace Forces are carrying out airstrikes on terrorists, while the Syrian Army is advancing in Aleppo, killing terrorists and their commanders, the Russkaya Vesna information website reported, citing its own military source.

Over the past day, about 200 terrorists have been killed and more than 250 others have been wounded, while 32 pickup trucks, armed with heavy machine guns, and 20 pieces of other military hardware of terrorists have been destroyed, as a result of precision airstrikes of Russian fighter jets on positions of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (previously known as the Al-Nusra Front or the Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorist group in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Homs.

Washington Post, Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again, Josh Rogin, Oct. 4, 2016. U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there’s little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them.

Inside the national security agencies, meetings have been going on for weeks to consider new options to recommend to the president to address the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, where Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to perpetrate the deadliest bombing campaign the city has seen since the five-year-old civil war began. A meeting of the Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet-level officials, is scheduled for Wednesday. A meeting of the National Security Council, which could include the president, could come as early as this weekend.

Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.

The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.

SouthFront, 400 Militants to Leave Qodsiyeh Town in Damascus in Next 3 Days, Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. Over 400 militants and members of their families will be transferred from Qodsiyeh town in Western Syria FlagGhouta region to Hama and Idlib provinces in the next three days.According to sources in the peace committee in the town of Qodsiya, militants, who are not going to lay down their arms, will leave the town, while others, who intend to stay in Qodsiya, will surrender their weapons and be pardoned.

Al Jazeeza, Syria: Government tanks roll into rebel-held Aleppo, Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. Russian-backed offensive to retake Aleppo's rebel-held east intensifies as diplomacy stalls. Syrian government tanks crossed the front line in the battleground city of Aleppo for the first time in four years, as a Russian-backed offensive to retake the rebel-held east escalated on the ground. Pro-government forces were "gradually advancing" after street battles on Tuesday in the divided city's rebel-controlled neighborhoods, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Tuesday's offensive came a day after Washington suspended direct US-Russia talks on a Syria ceasefire - a move US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed on Russia's rejection of diplomacy in favour of helping forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad achieve military gains over opposition fighters. "Today there was very heavy bombing today. More than 16 civilians were killed and more than 32 people were injured," Ibrahim Abu Leith, spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defence in Aleppo, told Al Jazeera.

CNN, US: Russia ships new anti-missile system into Syria, Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr, Oct. 4, 2016. The Russian military has brought an additional, more advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile system into Syria, a US official told CNN on Tuesday. While not yet operational, the system, which was shipped in over the weekend, is a newer, modified version of the S-300VM, also known as the SA-23. It expands Russia's anti-air capability in northwest Syria significantly. Though the US does not believe the Russians plan to target US pilots, one official called the development "a concern."

For months now, the Russians have had air defense that lets them see north to the Turkish border, so this expands the envelope potentially in a militarily significant manner. US officials feel that Russians likely want to extend their air defense envelope out to Dier Ezzor to demonstrate to the world they and the Syrian regime are in control of wide swath of Syria.

But a US official with direct knowledge of the situation and the thinking inside the administration says the anti-regime forces and other militia forces, the majority of which form the Free Syrian Army, a main anti regime force, are now estimated to total as much as 100,000 fighters across Syria, which means the Syrian military would not likely be able to wipe them out and assert full control on the ground. The battlefield stalemate appears to have no solution at this point. The Administration is not considering military options against the Syrian regime, several officials say.

Related News: SouthFront, Syrian War Report, Russia Deploys Anti-ballistic Missile System amid Tensions with the US, Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. The US Fox News TV channel has reported, citing military sources, that Russia had deployed the S-300V4 “Antey-2500” anti-ballistic missile system in Syria. S-300V4 is an upgraded version of S-300. It’s designed to defeat short- and medium-range ballistic missile, aeroballistic and cruise missiles, fixed-wing aircraft, as well as loitering ECM platforms and precision-guided munitions. According to Fox News, it was delivered to the Russian naval facility in Tartus via the sea. In 2015, Moscow deployed the S-300 long range surface-to-air missile system after the incident with downing of Russia’s Su-24M bomber aircraft by Turkey. The new phase of strengthening of the air-defense capabilities of Moscow’s military grouping comes amid the increased US-Russian tensions over the ongoing conflict.

SouthFront, Yemeni Missile Hits Saudi Military Base in Asir Province, Staff report, Oct. 4, 2016. Saudi Arabia’s strategic military positions and bases in the kingdom’s province of Asir were hit with the Zalzal-3 ballistic missile by the Houthi-Saleh alliance. The attack was a response to Saudi airstrikes on residential areas across Yemen. Saudi troops suffered heavy losses at the al-Montazah military base and in al-Zahran region in the province of Asir as a result of the Yemeni missile attack. According to earlier reports, over a hundred soldiers of the Saudi Army and its coalition members were killed each time, when they came under a ballistic missile attack by Yemen. This time, armored vehicles of the Saudi-led forces were also destroyed during the Yemeni missile attack.

Around the Nation

Chris ChristieNew York Times, Christie Ex-Ally Ties Cuomo to Cover-Up of Bridge Scandal, Kate Zernike, Oct. 4, 2016. David Wildstein said in court that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (at right) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York (below left) agreed to issue a report falsely citing a traffic study as the reason for shutting lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge. The man who has admitted being the culprit behind the mysterious lane closings at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 testified on Tuesday that he was told that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York had agreed to falsely explain the closings as part of a traffic study to try to “put an end” to a growing scandal surrounding them.

Andrew CuomoThe confessed culprit, David Wildstein, testified that he heard from two top Christie appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, that the governors hoped to stop the catastrophic traffic jams that resulted from the lane closings from hurting Mr. Christie’s re-election campaign.

Mr. Wildstein, who is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the trial of two former Christie aides accused of approving and directing the lane-closing scheme, agreed that Mr. Cuomo had told the Port Authority’s executive director to “stand down” from trying to publicly blame Mr. Christie and his aides for the closings, at least until Mr. Christie had won re-election in November 2013.

Oct. 3

Political News

Washington Post, Trump’s tax mystery points toward dealings around his first bankruptcies, Drew Harwell and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Oct. 3, 2016. How could Donald Trump have potentially avoided federal Donald Trump for President logoincome taxes at a time when he appeared to be thriving? A clue to his claimed loss of $916 million in 1995 may be related to the intricate backstory of how his Atlantic City gambling empire slid into bankruptcy in the early 1990s. In 1995, Donald Trump was in the midst of a spending spree. He had recently bought a 727 jet for personal use, added a skyscraper to his Manhattan real estate portfolio and snapped up properties in Telluride, Colo., and Palm Beach, Fla., financial records show.

Daily Beast, Art of the Steal: This is How Trump Lost $916M and Avoided Tax, David Cay Johnston (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo in August), Oct. 3, 2016. This is how Donald Trump’s accountants David Cay Johnston NPC Aug. 4, 2016 (JIP photo)and lawyers most likely used the tax code to avoid paying income tax for almost two decades. The big New York Times scoop that Donald Trump used $916 million of tax losses to enjoy many income tax-free years raised a question the newspaper didn’t try to answer: How did Trump do it?

Trump, the only major-party presidential nominee in four decades to keep all his tax returns secret, insists “there’s nothing to learn from them.” Yet in one day I figured out how Trump’s advisers almost certainly arranged the massive tax losses, skipped out on a massive income-tax bill, and then fashioned a loophole with more valuable tax benefits than the already liberal tax breaks Congress gives big real-estate owners while sticking others with the bill. Trump dumped the real costs of all this on investors who saw gold in his brand name, but who lost everything even as he was paid tens of millions of tax-free dollars.

A clue to his claimed losses in 1995 may be related to the intricate backstory of how his Atlantic City gambling empire slid into bankruptcy in the early 1990s.

“Everyone is acting shocked, but the whole world knew he had overleveraged himself and his operating businesses,” said Jack O’Donnell, a former president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

The disclosure also raises new questions about the degree of Trump’s personal financial involvement in the Trump Organization’s first four bankruptcies. Though he has repeatedly drawn a distinction between the company’s bankruptcies and his personal finances, the tax documents indicate he may have used losses stemming from his bankruptcies to benefit his personal fortune.

Washington Post, Trump Foundation ordered to stop fundraising by N.Y. attorney general’s office, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 3, 2016. The New York attorney general has notified Donald Trump that his charitable foundation is violating state law — by soliciting donations without proper certification — and ordered Trump’s charity to stop its fundraising immediately, the attorney general’s office said Monday. James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, sent the “notice of violation” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Friday, according to a copy of the notice provided by the press office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D). The night before that, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s charity had been soliciting donations from other people without being properly registered in New York state.

According to tax records, Trump’s foundation has subsisted entirely on donations from others since 2008, when Trump gave his last personal donation. This year, the Trump Foundation made its most Donald Trump and Mike Pence logowide-ranging request for donations yet: It set up a public website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, to gather donations that Trump said would be passed on to veterans’ groups.

But the Trump Foundation never registered under article 7A of New York’s Executive Law, as is required for any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year from the public. One important consequence: Trump’s foundation avoided rigorous outside audits, which New York law requires of larger charities that ask the public for money.

“The Trump Foundation must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York,” Sheehan wrote to the foundation, of which Trump himself is still president. The Trump Foundation has no paid employees, and its board consists of Trump, three of his children and one Trump Organization employee. They all work one half-hour per week, according to the charity’s most recent IRS filings.

Schneiderman ordered the Trump Foundation to supply the state, within 15 days, with all the legal paperwork required of charities that solicit money from the public.

In addition, Sheehan ordered that Trump’s foundation provide all the financial audit reports it should have provided in prior years, when it raised money without legal permission. He said that if Trump’s foundation did not stop its fundraising and file the proper paperwork, that would be considered “a continuing fraud upon the people of New York.”

Huffington Post, Donald Trump’s Creepy Ogling Of His Daughter Happened More Than You Think, Paige Lavinder, Oct. 3, 2016. The GOP nominee made references to Ivanka’s looks while talking about the women on “The Apprentice.”

An Associated Press report published Monday details the sexism female contestants and crew experienced from Trump while working on the show. Eight former “Apprentice” crew members told the AP Trump once compared a camerawoman’s beauty to his daughter’s, making repeated comments about the camerawoman’s behind.

A former contestant on the show, Poppy Carlig, said Trump once asked her to twirl in front of him so he could look at her figure. “I don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that people are having bad intentions with what they are saying,” Carlig told the AP. “He said I reminded him of his daughter and I thought that was really touching because I know how much he values his family.” Trump has made a slew of questionable comments about his daughter’s looks over the years, saying on ABC’s “The View” in 2006 that “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps, I would be dating her.”

Alternet, Did Marla Maples Leak Donald Trump's Tax Return?  Ilana Novick, If the rumor's true, it would be the ultimate in ex-wife revenge. Since her divorce from the human Cheeto, Marla Maples has been living in California, devoting her life to charitable causes, studying Kabbalah, and more recently, throwing enough subtle, expert shade at her ex-husband to make a grown drag queen cry, like when she told the New York Times, referring to her daughter Tiffany, that she "had the blessing of raising her pretty much on my own.”

Journalists are now speculating that Maples may have been the source of the 1995 tax returns in the Times' weekend bombshell of a report that Trump hasn't paid taxes for the last 18 years. 

Speculation over the identity of the leaker began almost as soon as the article came out this weekend. Maples, to whom Trump was married in 1995, filed jointly with her husband, which would give her access to the documents. Also, it would be perfectly legal for Maples to release her own returns, which would protect her from the legal action Trump's lawyers promised against the paper. On Medium, writer Yashar Ali points to Maples' signature on a New Jersey non-resident form, and the fact that Times reporters didn't make clear whether they asked her for comment in the report.

Red State, Ron Paul Did NOT Say He Was Endorsing Jill Stein, but He’s Not Endorsing Gary Johnson Either, Brandon Morse, Oct. 3, 2016. After appearing to have given some friendly words to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and stating that Johnson won't get his nod, Libertarian legend, Ron Paul, made it clear in a later interview that he hasn't really endorsed anybody.

"I said if the independents who don't know what to do and who should they pick, I say if you tend to lead progressivism and liberalism and you are interested in expressing yourself — you can vote for the Green Party," he said. "I think she's probably best on foreign policy at the moment. But on Gary Johnson, he does not come across with a crisp libertarian message."

Indeed, Johnson has disappointed many a libertarian, and apostate Republican with his sudden swings to the left. Be it carbon taxes, or Nazi wedding cakes. It's stance that's caused many to second guess their settling on Johnson as their candidate, or at least feel rather uneasy about it.

Fox News, 'Specific info' forces WikiLeaks to move anticipated announcement to Berlin, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2016. Julian Assange canceled a dramatic London balcony address on Tuesday in favor of a video presentation in Berlin after WikiLeaks developed "specific information" regarding Assange's safety, the leaked emails clearinghouse tweeted on Monday afternoon. Some believe the video announcement by the WikiLeaks founder could be an "October surprise" geared towards the U.S. presidential election. Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump have said they believe the announcement will be damaging to the candidacy of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Assange, 45, who has lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years as officials in Sweden have sought him on criminal charges, is set to address supporters in Berlin via a video link at 3 a.m. ET. “I don’t want to give it away,” Assange told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly in August, when he indicated he had a major scoop that could influence the race. “But it’s a variety of documents, from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting, some even entertaining.”

Hillary ClintonIn a subsequent interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity last month, Assange said his next round of revelations was coming “reasonably soon.”

Assange has already played a key role in the presidential race, with the release of 20,000 internal emails that indicated the Democratic National Committee appeared to conspire to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. Those revelations surfaced in August, just before the party’s convention, proving embarrassing to Clinton’s campaign. They also led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Though no recent public revelations directly tie to Assange's security fears, various U.S. officials and pundits have made threatening statements directed at him in the past. WikiLeaks on Monday tweeted an alleged quote from a 2010 State Department meeting at which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked if Assange could be killed in a drone strike. That same year, former Democrat strategist Bob Beckel said on Fox News Channel that "a dead man can't leak stuff."

Assange also has hinted that deceased DNC staffer Seth Rich may have been a source for WikiLeaks. Rich, 27, was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back at a Washington, D.C., intersection in July. He died soon thereafter. Authorities believe Rich was the target of a botched robbery, but his death has inspired conspiracy theories.

Terrorism  & Civil Liberties News

Associated Press via Times of Israel, Jewish man faces trial after criticizing Israel policy at Dennis Ross panel, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2016. Kansas City library officials ‘outraged’ that prosecutors are charging audience member simply ‘for asking questions.’ The executive director the Kansas City library system says he is “outraged” that prosecutors continue to pursue charges against a man who was arrested after asking pointed questions during a library discussion about the Middle East peace process and an employee who tried to intervene.

Although the arrests occurred in May following a speech by author and diplomat Dennis Ross, the library system only recently went public about its opposition to charges, the Kansas City Star reported. R. Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the city’s library system, said “we’re going to be living in a different kind of country” if people can be arrested for asking questions at a library. “If this kind of behavior is unacceptable to the police, then I guess we’re going to have to shut the library down.”

Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans like Rothe-Kushel should be concerned about actions by the US and Israel that amount to “state-sponsored terrorism.” “When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?” Rothe-Kushel asked.

When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, “Get your hands off of me right now!” Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers.

“Every police officer who was on duty that evening was very communicative and respectful,” Rothe-Kushel said. But he said he would have left if he had been asked to and given the chance to do so. Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves said off-duty officers hired by the event sponsor acted properly in helping private security stop an audience member from asking follow-up questions.

Rothe-Kushel is charged in city court with trespassing and resisting arrest. Woolfolk is charged with interfering with an arrest. Woolfolk said he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee when a police officer kneed him in the leg. Kemper said the private security guards had no right to remove a patron for asking a question.

Ross’ speech was the inaugural Truman and Israel Lecture, established by the Truman Library Institute and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Unz Review, A "Grand Bargain" on Immigration Reform? Ron Unz (former publisher of The American Conservative), Oct. 3, 2016. An alliance of pro-immigrant Democrats and anti-immigration Republicans could finally fix our broken system. In the year 1915, America was over 85% white, and a half-century later in 1965, that same 85% ratio still nearly applied. But partly due to the passage of the Immigration Reform Act of that year, America’s demographics changed very rapidly over the following five decades.

By 2015 there had been a 700% increase in the total number of Hispanics and Asians and the black population was nearly 100% larger, while the number of (non-Hispanic) whites had grown less than 25%, with much of even that small increase due to the huge influx of Middle Easterners, North Africans, and other non-European Caucasians officially classified by our U.S. Census as “white.” As a consequence of these sharply divergent demographic trends, American whites have fallen to little more than 60% of the total, and are now projected to become a minority within just another generation or two, already reduced to representing barely half of all children under the age of 10.

Demographic changes so enormous and rapid on a continental scale are probably unprecedented in all human history, and our political establishment was remarkably blind for having failed to anticipate the possible popular reaction.

Over the last twelve months, Donald Trump, a socially liberal New Yorker, has utilized the immigration issue to seize the GOP presidential nomination against the vehement opposition of nearly the entire Republican establishment, conservative and moderate alike, and at times his campaign has enjoyed a lead in the national polls, placing him within possible reach of the White House. Instead of wondering how a candidate came to take advantage of that particular issue, perhaps we should instead ask ourselves why it hadn’t happened sooner.

What might be the principal components of a legislative package able to bridge such a seemingly wide ideological chasm between pro-immigrant Democrats and anti-immigration Republicans?

Enacting Large, Permanent Cuts to Legal Immigration; Raising the Minimum Wage, etc.

No Lies/Quantum Matrix Radio, Engineering Scientist Ronald Cutburth — Nano Thermite AND Nano RDX Destroyed the World Trade Center Towers, Host David Meiswinkle, Oct. 3, 2016. Dr. Ronald Cutburth Dr. Ronald Cutburthholds a Ph.D. in Management of Engineering Science Operations. His dissertation includes an evaluation of over 200 engineering science research operations at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. He is an engineering scientist holding advanced level lower degree credits in five categories of engineering sciences and advanced theoretical math, mechanical, electrical, electronic, manufacturing, and controls engineering. He also holds nine issued patents for Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL), in development of laser optic mount and apparatus hardware.

He has more than 30 years of experience in engineering departments all over the USA in military and commercial products,and more than 9 years experience making engineering evaluations of engineering designs in the USA.

Foreign News

Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Fake news and false flags: How the Pentagon paid a British PR firm $500M for top secret Iraq propaganda, Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith, Oct. 2, 2016. The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal. Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.

The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking US military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside. Bell Pottinger's former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy agreements.” Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.

Bell, one of Britain’s most successful public relations executives, is credited with honing Margaret Thatcher’s steely image and helping the Conservative party win three elections. The agency he co-founded has had a roster of clients including repressive regimes and Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian president. In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the US military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells – who no longer works for the company – told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was "shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.”

David PetraeusThe firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus – then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq (and shown in a file photo) – and on occasion by the White House, Wells said. Bell Pottinger produced reams of material for the Pentagon, some of it going far beyond standard communications work.

There were three types of media operations commonly used in Iraq at the time, said a military contractor familiar with Bell Pottinger’s work there. “White is attributed, it says who produced it on the label,” the contractor said. “Grey is unattributed and black is falsely attributed. These types of black ops, used for tracking who is watching a certain thing, were a pretty standard part of the industry toolkit.”

Bell Pottinger changed ownership after a management buyout in 2012 and its current structure has no connections with the unit that operated in Iraq, which closed in 2011. It is understood the key people who worked in that unit deny any involvement with tracking software as described by Wells.

Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was a huge media operation which cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average. A document unearthed by the Bureau shows the company was employing almost 300 British and Iraqi staff at one point. The Bureau has identified transactions worth $540 million between the Pentagon and Bell Pottinger for information operations and psychological operations on a series of contracts issued from May 2007 to December 2011. A similar contract at around the same annual rate – $120 million – was in force in 2006, we have been told.

“Nobody could work out how a British company could get hundreds of millions of dollars of US funding when there were equally capable US companies who could have done it,” said Andrew Garfield, an ex-employee of the Lincoln Group who is now a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “The American companies were pissed.”

Alternet, Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria, Max Blumenthal, Oct. 3, 2016. Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into toppling another Middle Eastern government.

The Syria Campaign presents itself as an impartial, non-political voice for ordinary Syrian citizens that is dedicated to civilian protection. Yet behind the lofty rhetoric about solidarity and the images of heroic rescuers rushing in to save lives is an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change. Indeed, The Syria Campaign has been pushing for a no-fly zone in Syria that would require at least “70,000 American servicemen” to enforce, according to a Pentagon assessment, along with the destruction of government infrastructure and military installations. There is no record of a no-fly zone being imposed without regime change following — which seems to be exactly what The Syria Campaign and its partners want.

“For us to control all the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee this month.

Among The Syria Campaign’s most prominent vehicles for promoting military intervention is a self-proclaimed "unarmed and impartial" civil defense group known as the White Helmets. But like The Syria Campaign, the White Helmets are anything but impartial. Indeed, the group was founded in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Transitional Initiatives, an explicitly political wing of the agency that has funded efforts at political subversion in Cuba and Venezuela. USAID is the White Helmets’ principal funder, committing at least $23 million to the group since 2013. This money was part of $339.6 million budgeted by USAID for “supporting activities that pursue a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria" -- or establishing a parallel governing structure that could fill the power vacuum once Bashar Al-Assad was removed.

Washington Post, U.S. suspends efforts to work with Russia on Syria cease-fire, Karen DeYoung, Oct. 3, 2016. The United States has suspended plans for coordinating counterterrorism strikes in Syria with Russia and negotiations over a cease-fire, the State Department said Monday.

“Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments” to suspend bombing of civilian areas and facilitate humanitarian aid shipments, spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, “and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed.” The suspension, threatened by the Obama administration last week amid an ongoing brutal bombing campaign by Syria and Russia in Aleppo, came amid worsening relations with Russia across a broad array of issues and trouble spots.

Washington Post, Civilian casualties in Yemen bring charges of U.S. responsibility for Saudi actions, Missy Ryan, Oct. 3, 2016. Pentagon officials emphasize the limited U.S. role in the campaign. Reservations are growing within the Obama administration about American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s air campaign in Yemen, as some lawmakers and human rights groups charge the United States with responsibility for Saudi attacks that have killed many civilians.  Civilian casualties have spiked in Yemen since the collapse of peace talks in August, the United Nations reported recently, bringing the total number of civilians killed since March 2015, when a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched its operation against Houthi rebels there, to more than 4,000.

Alternet, Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria, Max Blumenthal, Oct. 3, 2016. Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into toppling another Middle Eastern government. On September 30, demonstrators gathered in city squares across the West for a "weekend of action” to “stop the bombs” raining down from Syrian government and Russian warplanes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Thousands joined the protests, holding signs that read "Topple Assad" and declaring, "Enough With Assad." Few participants likely knew that the actions were organized under the auspices of an opposition-funded public relations company called the Syria Campaign.

By partnering with local groups like the Syrian civil defense workers popularly known as the White Helmets, and through a vast network of connections in media and centers of political influence, The Syria Campaign has played a crucial role in disseminating images and stories of the horrors visited this month on eastern Aleppo. The group is able to operate within the halls of power in Washington and has the power to mobilize thousands of demonstrators into the streets. Despite its outsized role in shaping how the West sees Syria’s civil war, which is now in its sixth year and entering one of its grisliest phases, this outfit remains virtually unknown to the general public.

The Syria Campaign presents itself as an impartial, non-political voice for ordinary Syrian citizens that is dedicated to civilian protection. “We see ourselves as a solidarity organization,” The Syria Campaign strategy director James Sadri told me. “We’re not being paid by anybody to pursue a particular line. We feel like we’ve done a really good job about finding out who the frontline activists, doctors, humanitarians are and trying to get their word out to the international community.”

Oct. 2

Political News

Rudy GiulianiWashington Post, Trump campaign reels after disclosure of 1995 tax returns, Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson, Oct. 2, 2016. Capping a tough week for the GOP nominee, he was revealed to have declared a $916 million loss, which could have allowed him to avoid paying federal taxes for 18 years. Top surrogates (including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, shown in an official photo) called him "a genius" with taxes, though no one — including the campaign — disputed the tax disclosures.
 
Washington Post, New York Times risks legal trouble by publishing tax returns, Callum Borchers, Oct. 2, 2016. Dean Baquet wasn't bluffing. The New York Times executive editor said during a visit to Harvard in September that he would risk jail to publish Donald Trump's tax returns. He made good on his word Saturday night when the Times published Trump tax documents from 1995, which show the Republican presidential nominee claimed losses of $916 million that year — enough to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years afterward.

Federal law makes it illegal to publish an unauthorized tax return:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution."

Baquet said during a panel discussion at Harvard that if the Times' lawyers advised him not to publish Trump tax returns, he would argue that such information is vital to the public interest because the real estate mogul's "whole campaign is built on his success. It is unclear whether Baquet was speaking hypothetically at the time or whether his newspaper already was in possession of the documents published Saturday. The Times wrote that "the pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at the Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances. The documents were the first page of a New York state resident income tax return, the first page of a New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of a Connecticut nonresident tax return."

In Manheim, PA, Donald Trump imitates Clinton stumbling while ill with pneumonia (13-second video). Longer versions here (2:43 min.) and here (4:10 hour rally)

Washington Post, As news of Trump’s taxes breaks, he goes off script at a rally in Pennsylvania, Jenna Johnson, Oct. 2, 2016. Donald Trump's campaign announced Saturday evening that the candidate would soon deliver a nine-sentence critique of comments Hillary Clinton made months ago about many of the millennials supporting her primary rival, Bernie Sanders. It was an attempt to latch onto a new headline in hopes of finally escaping the controversies that had consumed his week.

Donald Trump for President logoIt didn’t work. It took Trump nearly 25 minutes to read the brief statement because he kept going off on one angry tangent after another — ignoring his teleprompters and accusing Clinton of not being “loyal” to her husband, imitating her buckling at a memorial service last month, suggesting that she is “crazy” and saying she should be in prison. He urged his mostly white crowd of supporters to go to polling places in "certain areas" on Election Day to "watch" the voters there. He also repeatedly complained about having a "bum mic" at the first presidential debate and wondered if he should have done another season of “The Apprentice.”

As Trump ranted in this rural Pennsylvania town, the New York Times reported it had anonymously received Trump’s 1995 income tax returns, which show he declared a loss of $916 million -- a loss that he could use to avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.

Washington Post, Following Trump tax revelations, voters in Toledo question his business acumen, David Weigel and Jenna Johnson, Oct. 2, 2016. John Gillespie dug into his omelet with one hand and flipped through the Toledo Blade with the other. The news that Donald Trump had declared a $916 million loss in his 1995 tax return, and may have avoided paying income taxes for as many as 18 years, had made it to the front page of the local newspaper. Gillespie, 52, struggled to make sense of it.

Donald Trump 2016 button“This was in 1995?” he asked, looking up from the diner counter. “This was during an economic upturn — and he managed to lose $916 million?” The tool and die maker, who had voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, started to laugh. “That tells me a lot about his economic skills.”

The story, first published by the New York Times late Saturday and not denied by a flustered Trump campaign, represented a piece of a holy grail that Hillary Clinton had sought for months. The Democratic nominee, who is making her first campaign stop in this city on Monday, has struggled to convince many traditionally Democratic voters that outwardly successful Trump is not to be trusted and poses a threat to their livelihoods.

The revelations about the Republican nominee’s taxes gave Clinton a fresh opportunity. In conversations around Toledo, many voters said they were offended by Trump. “It’s disgusting,” said Steve Crouse, 65, the owner of Toledo’s downtown Glass City Cafe and a separate printing business. “As a businessman, he’s got that right to do that. It’s the way the laws were set up. But it’s not right. I would feel guilty if I didn’t pay anything. It’s flat-out cheating the government. You’re using all the roads, the fire department, the police, so you should pay for that.”

Associated Press, 'Apprentice' cast and crew say Trump was lewd and sexist, Garance Burke, Oct. 3, 2016.  In his years as a reality TV boss on "The Apprentice," Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with.

The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 people — former crew members, editors and contestants — who described crass behavior by Trump behind the scenes of the long-running hit show, in which aspiring capitalists were given tasks to perform as they competed for jobs working for him.

The staffers and contestants agreed to recount their experiences as Trump's behavior toward women has become a core issue in the presidential campaign. Interviewed separately, they gave concurring accounts of inappropriate conduct on the set.

The Hill, Roger Stone: Wednesday will be end of Clinton's campaign, Jessie Hellmann, Oct. 2, 2016. A top Donald Trump supporter ominously declared that Wednesday will be the end for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign. Roger Stone, a former adviser to the Republican nominee's campaign, tweeted late Saturday night that Clinton will be "done." U.S. abandons efforts to work with Russia on Syria.

Foreign News

Washington Post, In stunning vote, Colombians reject peace deal with FARC rebels, Nick Miroff, Oct. 2, 2016. Voters rejected the historic deal by a razor-thin margin in a Brexit-style backlash that few were expecting. The outcome throws the peace process into chaos and threatens to prolong the 52-year armed conflict. After nearly six years of negotiations, many handshakes and ceremonial signatures, a ­half-century war that has killed 220,000 and displaced 7 million Colombians from their homes is not over.

Consortium News, Obama Warned to Defuse Tensions with Russia, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), Oct. 2, 2016. A group of ex-U.S. intelligence officials is warning President Obama to defuse growing tensions with Russia over Syria by reining in the demonization of President Putin and asserting White House civilian control over the Pentagon. "We write to alert you, as we did President George W. Bush, six weeks before the attack on Iraq, that the consequences of limiting your circle of advisers to a small, relatively inexperienced coterie with a dubious record for wisdom can prove disastrous," said their letter. "Our concern this time regards Syria."

We are hoping that your President’s Daily Brief tomorrow will give appropriate attention to Saturday’s warning by Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova: “If the US launches a direct aggression against Damascus and the Syrian Army, it would cause a terrible, tectonic shift not only in the country, but in the entire region.”  If on Sundays you rely on the “mainstream” press, you may well have missed it. In the Washington Post, an abridged report of Zakharova’s remarks (nothing about “full-scale war”) was buried in the last paragraph of an 11-paragraph article titled “Hospital in Aleppo is hit again by bombs.” Sunday’s New York Times totally ignored the Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s statements."

In our view, it would be a huge mistake to allow your national security advisers to follow the example of the Post and Times in minimizing the importance of Zakharova’s remarks.

Events over the past several weeks have led Russian officials to distrust Secretary of State John Kerry. Indeed, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who parses his words carefully, has publicly expressed that distrust. Some Russian officials suspect that Kerry has been playing a double game; others believe that, however much he may strive for progress through diplomacy, he cannot deliver on his commitments because the Pentagon undercuts him every time. We believe that this lack of trust is a challenge that must be overcome and that, at this point, only you can accomplish this.

Oct. 1

Campaign News

Donald Trump

The conservative Weekly Standard portrayed (and opposed) GOP presidential contender Donald Trump earlier this year during the party's 2016 primaries.

New York Times, Trump Tax Records Obtained by The Times Reveal He Could Have Avoided Paying Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner and Megan Twohey, Oct. 1, 2016. The Republican nominee reported nearly $1 billion in losses in 1995, opening the door to tax avoidance in subsequent years. Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump reportedly tried to get Marla Maples in Playboy, Sam Stein, Oct. 1, 2016. In an apparent pique on Friday morning, Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter against Alicia Machado― Donald Trump 2016 buttonthe former Miss Universe winner who has become a forceful critic of the GOP presidential nominee ― accusing her of, among other things, appearing in a sex tape. Before running for office, Trump showed little disgust with women appearing in pornography. He bragged about watching Paris Hilton’s sex tape with his wife, Melania Trump. And while dating his soon-to-be-second wife Marla Maples in 1990, he reportedly encouraged her to appear in Playboy.

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump was “polite and a gentleman” because he did not follow through on his threat to seat Gennifer Flowers, a former girlfriend of Bill Clinton, in the front row at the debate. Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s closest advisers, said Hillary Clinton was “too stupid to be president” if she hadn’t realized all along that Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, was telling the truth. As mayor of New York, Giuliani carried on his own very public extramarital affair, which cast a shadow over his administration.

Washington Post, ‘Finally. Someone who thinks like me,’ Stephanie McCrummen, Oct. 1, 2016. In the age of Donald Trump and online conspiracy theories, how one voter came to believe in what's being said in the dark corners of the Internet about President Obama and Hillary Clinton — and how Trump will rescue the United States. In a living room in western Pennsylvania, the Republican National Convention was on TV, and Melanie Austin was getting impatient. “Who’s that guy?” she said, watching some billionaire talk about prosperity and tolerance. “Prosperity and tolerance? Forget that sh--.”

She lit a cigarette. Her boyfriend, Kevin Lisovich, was next to her on the couch, drifting to sleep, a pillow over his head. On the ottoman was her cellphone, her notes on the speakers so far — “LOCK HER UP!!” she had written — and the anti-anxiety pills she kept in a silver vial on her keychain.

She was a 52-year-old woman who had worked 20 years for the railroad, had once been a Democrat and was now a Republican, and counted herself among the growing swath of people who occupied the fringes of American politics but were increasingly becoming part of the mainstream.

Like millions of others, she believed that President Obama was a Muslim. And like so many she had gotten to know online through social media, she also believed that he was likely gay, that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them. “So beautiful,” Melanie said as Ivanka Trump walked onto the convention stage to introduce her father, and soon the soaring score of the movie “Air Force One” was blasting through the TV. Melanie sat up straighter. This is what she had been waiting for.

“Here comes Big Daddy,” she said, clapping. “The Donald. Big Daddy.”

“Here he is, babe,” she said. “Donald’s here, babe.” Trump walked onto the stage, chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

Huma Abedin (center rear), Barbara Bush (right center), Dakota Fanning and friends in Paris, Oct. 1, 2016

Huma Abedin (center rear) and Barbara Bush (right center) and friends in Paris on a Twitter photo, Oct. 1, 2016

The Hill, Barbara Bush snaps pics with Huma Abedin, tagged ‘We’re with her,’ Evelyn Rupert, Oct. 1, 2016. Barbara Bush snaps pics with Huma Abedin, tagged ‘We’re with her’ Barbara Bush Pierce, daughter of former President George W. Bush, posed with longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin in photos originally captioned “We’re with her.” Vogue contributing editor Lauren Santo Domingo posted a photo to Twitter Saturday showing her, Bush, Abedin, actress Dakota Fanning and Vanity Fair’s Derek Blasberg side by side with the caption “We’re with her.”

Around the Nation

Washington Post, In ‘serious and disturbing’ letter, incoming Missouri lawmaker accuses another of raping her, Amy B. Wang, Oct. 2, 2016. The Ferguson, M0., attorney opened by introducing herself to her soon-to-be colleagues. "My name is Cora Faith Walker," she wrote in a letter to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson and two other House leaders. "I will be in the Capitol in January as the Representative of the 74th District."

Cora Faith Walker via Facebook photoBut it was the next two sentences 31-year-old Walker (shown via her featured Facebook photo) penned that would upend a lawmaking body already embroiled in controversy. "Earlier this week, I reported a sexual assault to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department," Walker wrote. "I named my rapist as Steven Roberts, Jr., who hopes to be in the Capitol next year as the Representative of the 77th District."

The single-page letter, sent by email to Missouri House leadership on Friday and first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, again pointed the spotlight at a Missouri state house previously accused of having a "sexist culture." (A PDF and text of the full letter is available in the Post story via the link above) Both Walker and Roberts are Democrats who are running unopposed for their seats and are expected to be sworn in in January.

The day after Walker sent the letter, she told Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger that the alleged assault occurred sometime between the night of Aug. 26 and the morning of Aug. 27 after she met Roberts at a St. Louis apartment around 9:30 p.m.

The two of them would soon be the only black lawyers in the Missouri legislature, Walker told Messenger, and they had set up the meeting to discuss how they might work together.

They reportedly had two glasses of wine, Walker told the paper, and she woke up the next morning in a bed at the same apartment, with no memory of what happened after drinking the second glass of wine. "I had no recollection of why I was still there," she told Messenger. The following day, she informed her husband, Tim Walker, about the incident, but it took them several weeks to decide to go to police.

Foreign News

Associated Press, Russia warns against US attack on Syrian forces, Bassem Mroue, Oct. 1, 2016. Russia warned the United States Saturday against carrying out any attacks on Syrian government forces, saying it would have repercussions across the Middle East as government forces captured a hill on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo under the cover of airstrikes. Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that a U.S. intervention against the Syrian army "will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region on the whole."

She said regime change in Syria would create a vacuum that would be "quickly filled" by "terrorists of all stripes." U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria have escalated since the breakdown of a cease-fire last month, with each side blaming the other for its failure. Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched a major onslaught on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian troops pushed ahead in their offensive in Aleppo on Saturday capturing the strategic Um al-Shuqeef hill near the Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat that government forces captured from rebels earlier this week, according to state TV. The hill is on the northern edge of the Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial center. The powerful ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham militant group said rebels regained control Saturday of several positions they lost in Aleppo in the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood.

State media said 13 people were wounded when rebels shelled the central government-held neighborhood of Midan.

Airstrikes on Aleppo struck a hospital in the eastern rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour, putting it out of service, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees. They said one person was killed in the airstrike. Opposition activist Ahmad Alkhatib described the hospital, known as M10, as one of the largest in Aleppo. He posted photographs on his Twitter account showing the damage including beds covered with dust, a hole in its roof and debris covering the street outside.

In the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition destroyed several bridges on the Euphrates river, according to Syrian state news agency SANA and Deir el-Zour 24, an activist media collective. The province is a stronghold of the Islamic State group. SANA said that among the bridges destroyed was the Tarif Bridge that links the eastern city of Deir el-Zour with the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the extremists' de-facto capital.

CNN, Kerry in leaked audio: 'I lost the argument' for use of force in Syria, Elise Labott and Ryan Browne, Oct. 1, 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry's frustration with the failure of American diplomacy was on display as he defended US efforts to help end the five-year civil war in Syria during a meeting last week with a group of Syrian civilians, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN. John KerryBut Kerry (shown in an official photo) also expressed sympathy for the Syrians' demands that the United States intervene more forcefully amid Syrian and Russian airstrikes against civilians, telling the group that he "lost the argument" for using military force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Kerry's comments came at a meeting that took place at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations on the sidelines the UN General Assembly, where Kerry was going from session to session in a frenzied effort to resuscitate a ceasefire that seemed poised to collapse. "I think you're looking at three people, four people in the administration. I lost the argument. I've argued for the use of force. I'm the guy who stood up and announced that we're going to attack Assad for the use of weapons," Kerry is heard telling the Syrian attendees, referring to internal deliberations within the administration of President Barack Obama that followed Assad's use of chemical weapons in 2013. Kerry also faulted Congress for failing to support such a retaliatory strike, saying, "The bottom line is that Congress refused even to vote to allow that."

"We have a Congress that will not authorize our use of force," he added, explaining that a new military intervention would be difficult to bring about. The discussion in the recording occurred only days after the United States and Russia announced a ceasefire agreement in Geneva, an accord that has since collapsed with reports of regime bombing attacks and the positioning of some 10,000 Syrian regime-aligned troops preparing to advance on Aleppo.The recorded conversation contains a series of revelations about Kerry's view of the ongoing civil war in Syria. Several of the meeting's participants have confirmed the recording's authenticity.

The Syrian civilians repeatedly questioned Kerry about violations of the ceasefire and America's unwillingness to enforce the agreement more strongly, and lobbied for a bigger US role. Kerry cited legal restrictions and local air defenses as reasons why a US military intervention was not feasible. "The problem is the Russians don't care about international law and we do. And we don't have a basis, our lawyers tell us, unless we have a Security Council resolution," he said. "They were invited in, we were not," he added, referring to Moscow's military operations in Syria. "We don't behave like Russians. It's just a different standard," Kerry said.

"The only reason they are letting us fly is because we are going after ISIL," Kerry said, using another term for ISIS. "If we were going after Assad, we would have to take out all the air defenses and we don't have a legal justification for doing that." Kerry added, "So far, American legal theory does not buy into the so-called right to protect."
"Nobody (is) more frustrated than me," Kerry told the gathering. He later added, "A lot of Americans don't believe that we should be fighting and sending young Americans over to die in another country."

SouthFront, US Admits Not Targeting Al-Nusra Front Terrorist Group, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2016. The US Department of State has admitted that the US-led coalition does not target the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham [Al Qaeda] terrorist group in Syria because they have become too ‘intermingled’ with moderates and civilians.

On Friday, spokesman for the US Department of State, Mark Toner, noted that Washington exerted every possible effort to influence and separate moderates from terrorists, and stressed that the ‘moderate’ opposition have been “driven more or less into the arms” and have no other choice, but to “turn to the Nusra, fight side by side.” The official also admitted that the US-led coalition had not targeted the al-Nusra for several months due to the fact that its members had become “intermingled” with other groups and civilians.

SouthFront, NGOs: Grassroots Empowerment or Tool of Information Warfare? Daniel Deiss, J. Hawk, and Edwin Watson, Oct. 1, 2016 (8:43 min. video). During the early phases of the post-Cold War “New World Order,” NGOs were touted as representing a new wave of international politics. Instead of allowing international issues to be settled in closed meetings, the people themselves, informed by intrepid citizen journalists, would from now on play the key role in setting the agenda.

Like most of the promises made in the 1990s, this one also failed to deliver. It became clear that many NGOs, far from representing the “grass roots” of politics, were more akin to the artificial grass-like stadium surface known in the US as “astroturf.” It may look and even, to a degree, feel like the genuine article, but it most certainly is not. Many NGOs, while presenting a public image of bottom-up activism, were funded by major corporations or governments, which had the effect of depriving them of their independence and objectivity.

Given the success of NGOs as promoters of corporate interests, it did not take very long for them to begin to position themselves as independent, objective, and trustworthy sources of political information. Their appeal was largely based, once again, on the perception that the average NGO, or even a blog dealing with international affairs, is being implemented as a collection of concerned citizens engaged in unbiased news collection, analysis, and reporting. In that respect, they filled quite a large niche vacated by government spokesmen, news organizations, and intelligence services, all of which have been losing the public’s trust and which were no longer seen as objective.

Today, such fake NGOs as Bellingcat, White Helmets, Syria Observatory for Human Rights, plus a whole range of less well known bloggers and self-styled “open-source information” analysts, are no longer playing a supporting role in the ongoing information war that is an important component of hybrid wars. They have become the tip of the spear. These fake NGOs are now playing a leading role in what US military doctrine refers to as “shaping the information battlefield” within the “Full Spectrum Dominance” agenda.

Naturally, these entities are not setting the agenda or calling the shots. They have been assigned a number of roles by the political elites.

  • First of all, they are supposed to engage in veritable “propaganda laundering.” Much as banks provide legitimacy to funds obtained through illegal or immoral means, Bellingcat, White Helmets, and others turn what would otherwise be recognized as propaganda into “breaking news”–style stories that are then run, with reference to the NGO in question rather than the true source of the disinformation, by the mainstream media.
  • The second function these NGOs fulfill is allowing interested governments to refrain from directly lying to the media and the public themselves, since doing so would inevitably have negative political consequences.
  • Thirdly, the use of propaganda-launderers allows government factions to pursue their own foreign policy agendas independently of the rest of the government.
  • Fourthly, the propaganda-launderers allows a certain degree of plausible deniability, and even a reversal of policy if need be, with the NGO in question being quietly shunted aside when it ceases to be useful.

Is It Working? The answer to that question depends on the target audience. Specialists, and even well informed journalists, are unlikely to be swayed. The pathetic scenes of US State Department spokesmen squirming under the pointed questioning of genuinely truth-seeking journalists such as Matt Lee or Gayane Chichakyan show that the reliance on propaganda-laundering NGOs has its limits. The general public is a different story, since cable news channels do not show such embarrassing moments to the public.