Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative news and views for April 2017
Trump Tax Plan
Washington Post, Trump’s dramatic tax overhaul calls for sharply lower rates for individuals, businesses, Damian Paletta, April 26, 2017. The proposal — a one-page outline that leaves key details incomplete — would also eliminate key tax breaks. It would reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to three, and lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. To offset some of the cost of the lower rates, Trump administration officials said they were proposing to eliminate virtually all tax deductions that Americans claim, provisions that they argued primarily benefited wealthier Americans. Cohn said they would preserve tax breaks that incentivize homeownership, retirement savings and charitable giving. But almost all others would be jettisoned.
Washington Post, What the tax proposal means for the rich, for the world and for you, Max Ehrenfreund, April 26, 2017. The White House plan included no legislative text or detailed outline, but instead a brief statement on how Trump plans revamp of the tax code, leaving many unanswered questions.
Radical House Members Endorse GOP Trumpcare Plan
Washington Post, Freedom Caucus endorses latest Republican plan to revise Obamacare, Elise Viebeck, Kelsey Snell and David Weigel, April 26, 2017. The influential group of House conservatives, whose votes are seen as necessary to pass the latest GOP proposal, rallied behind the plan after it was endorsed by two leading conservative advocacy groups.
FCC Moves Against 'Net Neutrality'
Washington Post, FCC set to undo Obama-era net neutrality rules, Brian Fung, April 26, 2017. Tech companies and Internet providers are poised for another dramatic showdown as the head of the Federal Communications Commission revealed a plan for rolling back his predecessor's rules mandating a free and open Internet.April 25
JFK Assassination Research & Commentary
Time Magazine, Former CIA Operative Argues Lee Harvey Oswald's Cuba Connections Went Deep, Olivia B. Waxman, April 25, 2017. After Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy shortly after noon on Nov. 22, 1963, things moved quickly. About an hour later, Oswald fatally shot Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. Thirty minutes after that, police found Oswald and arrested him. Two days later, on Nov. 24, Jack Ruby shot Oswald (shown in a 1964 Time cover photo just as the Warren Commission report was released). And just a day after the assassination, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had already expressed his preliminary finding that Oswald had acted alone. The full Warren Commission report would later back up that finding — but more than a half-century later, polls have found that most Americans are not convinced of that fact.
That's why former CIA operative Bob Baer launched an investigation into the declassified government files on the case. As the above clip shows, on his six-part series "JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald" — debuting Tuesday night (April 25) on the History channel — Baer attempts to demystify the link between Oswald and Cuban and Soviet operatives. It's no secret that, for example, Oswald went to a meeting at the Soviet embassy in Mexico eight weeks before he assassinated JFK, or that he tried to defect to the Soviet Union in 1959.
But Baer pursues those leads, and further investigates Oswald's connections to the Cuban dissident group Alpha 66, which had been infiltrated by Cuban intelligence officials who were reporting their activities back to Fidel Castro's government. His conclusion is that, while Oswald acted alone when he fired the bullets that killed the President, his connections to Cuban and Soviet officials were deeper than is often assumed.
Ahead of the debut of his series, Baer spoke to Time about why Oswald could have wanted to work with the Soviets and Cubans.
Reader advisory by Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig, a board member of Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA): Many independent JFK experts dispute the key claims in the Time Magazine story excerpted above. The disputes illustrate the credibility gap of such media, including the so-called "History Channel," and their heavily promoted cadres of former CIA and other operatives popularized as experts while dissenters are virtually ignored.
Among the disputed assumptions and opinions in the above article (and apparently in the documentary) are that Oswald "acted" alone in shooting at Kennedy. Some dispute that he even shot at JFK or the policeman Tippet at all. Time Magazine and such affiliates as Life Magazine and CNN are among the government-influenced media that have long suppressed witness and documentary evidence that Oswald, a former U.S. Marine who held high-level security clearance while working on the U-2 spy plane project, was a U.S.-government asset later paid to pretend to be a pro-Communist defector to the Soviet Union. This evidence suggests also that Oswald was betrayed by his government handlers who used his undercover government work to frame him as a patsy for JFK's killing, perpetrated by someone else.
A compliant media covered up informed discussion of the crime at the outset. Time Publisher Charles "CD" Jackson, a master propagandist whose government and Hollywood connections are portrayed above, as is a comment of his longtime boss, Time-Life Founder Henry R. Luce.
Undisputed is that Time-Life bought exclusive rights to a film of the shooting by Abraham Zapruder, and then suppressed the film for 12 years except for stills and a limited viewing designed to illustrate a narrative that Oswald was a lone, deranged killer. ABC TV and its then-courageous host Geraldo Rivera broke the embargo in 1975 by broadcasting a stolen copy of the Zapruder film taken by the public-spirited lab technician Robert Groden.
As indicated by the Time cover at top portraying Oswald as weird-looking, part of that media imagery relied upon suppressing for the most part images such as his U.S. Marine photo (at right) and evidence that his assignments included highly classified work such assisting on the secret U-2 spy plane program in Japan. That cover-up and related propaganda effort has remained in force until the present, as indicated by the Time story above and series by the History Channel, whose name suggests but does not prove that any rigorous historical methods are being used.
In sum, Time's fundamental premises — that Oswald is proven to have killed JFK and the policeman Tippet, and that the former CIA operative, Baer, is an independent expert willing to expose the agency if needed in order to alert the public to the truth — are dubious at best to many other experts. But Time Magazine appears to accept all of this without question.
JFK Countercoup, The Moscow KGB and Mexico City CIA Records on the Assassination of President Kennedy, William Kelly, April 25, 2017. In his CAPA Sunshine Week talk at the National Press Club in March, Judge John Tunheim, the former chairman of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB), called attention to the Russian KGB files on Oswald that he saw in Minsk and read in part, but was unable to obtain copies of for the JFK Collection at the National Archives. (Shown at right is the kind of rabble-rousing "Wanted for Treason" propaganda that right-wing elements circulated before Kennedy's fatal trip to Dallas.)
Tunheim also said that the Review Board was pressed by almost every agency of government to keep the records relating to Oswald in Mexico City withheld because of the special relationship the US government had with the government of Mexico. As Tunheim noted, the situation has changed considerably since the ARRB went out of business, the Cold War is over, and President Trump’s relationship with Russia might allow for the public release of Oswald’s extensive KGB file of his time in the Soviet Union.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, February 18, 2014. Photo credit: Kristyn Ulanda / JFK Jr. Forum / Defense Intelligence Agency
New York Times, Omissions by Flynn on Russia May Have Been Illegal, Enmarie Huetteman and Adam Goldman, April 25, 2017. Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, may have violated federal law by not fully disclosing his business dealings with Russia when seeking a security clearance to work in the White House, top House oversight lawmakers from both parties asserted on Tuesday. The revelation came after Representative Jason Chaffetz (shown in a file photo), Republican of Utah and chairman of the House oversight committee, and other lawmakers on the panel examined classified documents related to Mr. Flynn, including a form he filled out in January 2016 to receive his security clearance. The form is known as an SF-86 and is required by anyone in the government who handles classified information.
As part of the review, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s senior Democrat, said Mr. Flynn did not disclose in those documents payments totaling more than $45,000 that he received from the Russian government for giving a speech in Moscow in 2015, among others. The development is the latest trouble for Mr. Flynn, who also did not disclose payments from Russian-linked entities on a financial disclosure form that the Trump administration released in late March. Earlier in March, Mr. Flynn filed papers acknowledging that he worked as a foreign agent last year representing the interests of the Turkish government, causing another uproar and more unfavorable headlines for the Trump administration.
Trump's First 100 Days
Washington Post, Cabinet secretaries exasperated by unfilled posts, Lisa Rein, April 25, 2017. President Trump’s Cabinet secretaries are growing exasperated at how slowly the White House is moving to fill hundreds of top-tier posts, warning that the vacancies are hobbling efforts to oversee agency operations and promote the president’s agenda, according to administration officials, lawmakers and lobbyists.
The Senate has confirmed 26 of Trump’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts. But for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation, the president has advanced just 37 nominees, according to data tracked by The Washington Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition. These posts include the deputy secretaries and undersecretaries, chief financial officers, ambassadors, general counsels, and heads of smaller agencies who run the government day-to-day. That’s less than half the nominees President Barack Obama had sent to the Senate by this point in his first term.
New York Times, Threat of Shutdown Fades as Trump Retreats on Wall, Jennifer Steinhauer, Matt Flegenheimer and Peter Baker, April 25, 2017. Three days before the deadline to avert a government shutdown, congressional leaders were negotiating a spending proposal on Tuesday that would supply no money for President Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico but would increase funding for White House priorities like the military and other types of border security.
Lawmakers in both parties expressed confidence that a deal could be reached before the lights go out, a prediction that seemed safer as Mr. Trump backed off his demand that the border wall receive funding in this measure.“Hopefully we’ll reach an agreement sometime in the next couple of days,” said the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, though he did not rule out a short-term extension to buy lawmakers more time for a final agreement.
Several obstacles remain, most notably the fate of payments to health insurers to lower deductibles and other costs for low-income consumers who buy plans through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Mr. Trump has threatened to withhold the subsidy payments, which are the subject of a lawsuit, as leverage in negotiations with Democrats, whose votes will be needed to pass any spending bill in the Senate.
Disputed Labor Nominee Scheduled For Senate Vote
Washington Free Beacon, Senate Poised to Confirm Acosta to Labor Department, Bill McMorris, April 25, 2017. GOP expects that law school dean has the votes to join the cabinet. The Senate is expected to confirm Alexander Acosta (shown in an official photo) as the next Secretary of Labor by the end of the week. The Senate will hold a cloture vote on Wednesday to move Acosta's nomination to the full Senate floor and Republicans expect to hold a vote before Friday. Acosta, dean of the Florida International University School of Law, will be one of the last cabinet officers to be seated in the administration after President Trump's initial nominee, fast food executive Andy Puzder, withdrew from consideration in February.
Acosta has enjoyed a less contentious process than Puzder, who was the subject of an intense campaign from labor groups over his company's wage policies, as well as pressure due to the resurfacing of since-retracted allegations of domestic abuse.
Acosta, unlike Puzder, has prior public sector experience and has been confirmed by the Senate to three different administration positions, including a short term on the National Labor Relations Board, the federal government's top labor arbiter. He has won several major endorsements from labor unions, including the International Association of Fire Fighters, Laborers International Union of North America, and International Union of Operating Engineers.
Despite those endorsements, some have soured on the nomination following his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised Acosta and said he "deserves serious consideration" when the nomination was announced in February. He changed course following the hearing.
"Alex Acosta’s testimony today raises serious questions and doubts whether he is committed to making life better for working families," Trumka said in a March statement. "Mr. Acosta's nomination was a major improvement over the previous nominee, based on his qualifications, yet he offered no indication that he would use those qualifications to stand up for workers."
Zero Hedge, Washington D.C. To Hold Massive "Coordinated Terror Attack" Drill This Wednesday, Tyler Durden, April 25, 2017. April 26th is shaping up to be a busy day. That's when Operation Gotham Shield, an exercise involving FEMA, Homeland Security and a myriad of law enforcement and military agencies and which simulates a nuclear bomb blast over Manhattan, is set to conclude. Then, as we learned earlier, April 26 is also when the entire Senate will be briefed by Donald Trump and his four top defense and military officials on the situation in North Korea at the White House, an event which Reuters dubbed as "unusual."
April 26 is also when the USS Carl Vinson is expected to finally arrive off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. Now, in a statement from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the regional association reports that "law enforcement officials and other first responders will participate in a full-scale exercise on April 26 designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region."
U.S. Health Care Coverage
Washington Post, Public pans Republicans’ latest approach to replacing Obamacare, Amy Goldstein and Scott Clement, April 25, 2017. In strategy and substance, the American public disagrees with the conservative policies that President Trump and congressional Republicans are pursuing to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Beyond their criticism of GOP proposals for devolving health policy to the states, many Americans appear leery in general about a major overhaul to the health-care law often called Obamacare, with 61 percent preferring to “keep and try to improve” it, compared with 37 percent who say they want to “repeal and replace” it. Roughly three-quarters of Republicans prefer repealing and replacing the ACA, but more than 6 in 10 independents and nearly 9 in 10 Democrats favor working within its framework.
Those views heighten the challenge for Trump and congressional Republicans as the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess after a remarkable failure last month in attempting to pass a health-care bill. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has championed the ACA’s repeal for years, canceled a vote on the American Health Care Act shortly before the roll call was to begin because the chamber’s Republican majority was so splintered.
A Tale of CIA Terror, Propaganda
National Security Archive, Agustin Edwards: A Declassified Obituary, Peter Kornbluh, April 25, 2017. Declassified CIA, White House Documents Reveal Collaboration between Chilean Media Mogul and Highest Level of Nixon Administration; Kissinger Set up Secret Meetings for Edwards with Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms; Documents Record Edwards Covert Coup Plotting to Overthrow Allende in Chile.
Media mogul Agustin Edwards Eastman, who was widely regarded as the Rupert Murdoch of Chile, died on April 24, at age 89, leaving a legacy of close collaboration with Henry Kissinger and the CIA in instigating and supporting the September 11, 1973, military coup. Edwards was the only Chilean — civilian or military — known to meet face-to-face with CIA Director Richard Helms in September 1970 in connection with plans to instigate regime change against Socialist leader Salvador Allende, who had just been elected president. Declassified CIA and White House documents posted today by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University show conclusively what Edwards repeatedly denied – that he and his newspaper, El Mercurio, became a critical part of U.S. plans to foment a military coup against President Allende.
Agustin Edwards Eastman (right) with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (Undated)
Agustín Edwards Eastman: A Declassified Obituary. September 15, 1970, was a dramatic day in the life of Chilean media mogul, Agustin Edwards Eastman. His day began at 8am, with breakfast in the office of Henry Kissinger, then national security advisor to President Richard Nixon. Edwards became the only Chilean — civilian or military — known to meet face-to-face with CIA Director Richard Helms. At 3:25pm that afternoon, President Nixon called Kissinger and Helms into the Oval Office and instructed them to covertly try to “save Chile” by orchestrating a military takeover.
Edwards’ extraordinary influence on U.S. policy and CIA intervention in Chile did not stop there. When CIA covert action — which included the assassination of Gen. Rene Schneider — failed to block Salvador Allende’s inauguration, the Edwards media empire became the leading clandestine collaborator in fomenting a military coup d’etat. President Nixon (shown at right) personally authorized covert CIA funding to sustain El Mercurio so that it could become a media megaphone of opposition, agitation and misinformation against the Allende government.
In the aftermath of Allende’s overthrow, the CIA explicitly credited its media propaganda project in Chile for playing “a significant role in setting the stage for the military coup of 11 September 1973,” and continued to secretly funnel money to the Edwards group so that El Mercurio could “present the Junta in the most positive light for the Chilean public.”
North Korean Options
Roll Call, Analysis: U.S. Military Options in North Korea — From Bad to Worse, John M. Donnelly, April 25, 2017. War on the Korean peninsula may or may not be growing more likely. But it sure feels like it is. Leaders in North Korea and the United States are rattling sabers at each other and conducting military exercises in the region. The entire Senate is set to visit the White House Wednesday for a briefing on the North Korean threat. The U.N. Security Council ambassadors came to the White House Monday and the United States is convening a special U.N. Security Council meeting to talk options on North Korea on Friday.
New York Times, Chobani Yogurt Sues Alex Jones Over Sexual Assault Report, Christine Hauser, April 25, 2017. Chobani, the yogurt company, has filed a lawsuit against Alex Jones, the high-profile conspiracy theorist and the host of a popular right-wing radio show, for posting what it called false news reports about the company and its owner. The suit, filed on Monday in district court in Twin Falls County, Idaho, named Mr. Jones and the media companies InfoWars and Free Speech Systems as defendants. It called “false” and “defamatory” several reports that appeared on InfoWars alleging that the company’s factory in Idaho, which employs refugees, was connected to a 2016 child sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis cases.
The reports were published April 11 on InfoWars.com and on “The Alex Jones Channel” on YouTube. They were promoted on Twitter under the headline “Idaho Yogurt maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists,” and were spread widely online.
Daily Mail, Trump calls controversial ex-aide Roger Stone 'quality guy' as libertine Nixon fan uses documentary to take credit for president he calls 'prime political horseflesh,' Daniel Bates, April 25, 2017. Donald Trump has praised one of his most controversial ex-advisers in a new documentary even though it makes him out to be the real mastermind behind the President, and he faces an FBI probe.
In 'Get Me Roger Stone' Trump says that Roger Stone (shown in a file photo) is a 'quality guy' and that he does not deserve his reputation as a dirty trickster. Trump says that he has been friends with Stone for a long time and thinks he is a 'really nice' person who understands politics like few others do. The President's comments in an interview for the documentary, which is out next month on Netflix, may prove to be awkward, given that the central argument of the film is that Stone is responsible for Trump getting into the White House. Trump is also standing by Stone despite him being investigated by the FBI and the Senate over his ties to Russia.
In the film, Stone says that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is a 'hero', even though intelligence agencies believe that the Russians provided the website with hacked emails from the Democrats.
Washington Post, German crowd boos Ivanka Trump for calling her father a ‘champion’ for families, Danielle Paquette, April 25, 2017. A German crowd booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday after she called her father a “tremendous champion of supporting families.” Trump (shown in a file photo) was taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role as assistant to the president, vowing at a women's economic conference in Berlin to create “positive change” for women in the United States.
“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” she said on a panel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and other female leaders. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”
False Claim Against Filmmaker?
Shadowproof via OpEdNews, Filmmaker Laura Poitras Doesn't Know If Military Is Done Investigating Her, Kevin Gosztola, April 25, 2017.
Documents released in response to a lawsuit suggest Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (shown in a file photo) was stopped routinely by airport security because she was falsely accused of involvement in an ambush in Iraq. The attack resulted in the death of a United States soldier in 2004.
Poitras shared more than 1,000 pages of documents with the Associated Press. While the AP did not indicate what specific agencies released documents, it reported members of a U.S. Army National Guard unit from Oregon claimed to have seen a "white female" with a "camera on a rooftop just before they were attacked." Multiple guardsmen believed she may have known about the attack ahead of time and failed to share this information with U.S. forces "because she wanted to film" the ambush.
At the time, Poitras was in Iraq filming her documentary, "My Country, My Country." She unequivocally denied this spurious allegation. "There is no ambush footage," Poitras asserted. "That's the narrative that they created, but it doesn't correspond with any facts."
Author John Bruning, who wrote The Devil's Sandbox: With the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry at War in Iraq, dedicated a full chapter ("The Woman On the Roof") to soldiers in the battalion who believed they saw Poitras. He also apparently passed allegations about Poitras on to the U.S. military.
Boston Globe, ‘The B-Side’ could be early birthday present for photographer Elsa Dorfman, Mark Feeney, April 21, 2017. Thanks to Errol Morris’s new documentary, “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography,” a lot more people are going to be on a first-name basis with her. It screens April 29 at the Brattle Theatre as part of the Independent Film Festival Boston.
“The B-Side” might be considered an early birthday present. Dorfman turns 80 on Wednesday. The National Portrait Gallery, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Museum of Fine Arts all own large-format Polaroid portraits by Dorfman. By the time she stopped taking them, about a year ago, she was getting $5,000 a sitting. That’s not bad for someone who during the early ’70s sold her black-and-white 35mm photographs from a grocery cart in Harvard Square, getting $2.50 a print. Dorfman cleared all of $700 during the 1973 holiday season. “Wow was it cold out there,” she recalls. “I loved coming home and counting the cash.”
Buchanan.org, Is Macron the EU’s Last Best Hope? Pat Buchanan, April 24, 2017. For the French establishment, Sunday’s presidential election came close to a near-death experience. As the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a “damn near-run thing.” Neither candidate of the two major parties that have ruled France since Charles De Gaulle even made it into the runoff, an astonishing repudiation of France’s national elite.
Marine Le Pen of the National Front ran second with 21.5 percent of the vote. Emmanuel Macron of the new party En Marche! won 23.8 percent. Macron is a heavy favorite on May 7. The Republicans’ Francois Fillon, who got 20 percent, and the Socialists’ Benoit Hamon, who got less than 7 percent, both have urged their supporters to save France by backing Macron.
World Beyond War, Hey Ireland, Your Ambassador Just Told Me You’ll Do Anything Trump Wants, David Swanson, April 25, 2017. Dear brothers and sisters of Ireland, your ambassador to the United States Anne Anderson spoke at the University of Virginia Tuesday afternoon.
I asked her this: “Since the U.S. government assures the Irish government that all U.S. military aircraft being refueled at Shannon are not on military operations and are not carrying weapons or munitions, and since the Irish government insists on this in order to comply with Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality, why does the Irish department of transportation almost daily approve civilian aircraft on contract to the U.S. military to carry armed U.S. troops on military operations, weapons, and munitions through Shannon Airport in clear breach of international laws on neutrality?”
Washington Post, Trump seeks 15 percent corporate tax rate, even if it swells the national debt, Damian Paletta and Robert Costa, April 24, 2017. Sticking to one of his campaign pledges but shattering another, President Trump instructed advisers to drastically cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent. By doing so — but not committing to measures that would offset the revenue loss — Trump is making clear he is putting a priority on cutting taxes over the national debt. President Trump is pursuing a drastic cut in the corporate tax rate, a move that is likely to grow the national debt and breach a long-held Republican goal of curbing federal borrowing.
The president has instructed advisers to propose cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, according to White House officials who said they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plan. The rate reduction — which independent budget experts say could cost the federal government $2.4 trillion over a decade — is larger than what House Republicans had proposed in their own plan. Businesses are projected to pay $340 billion in corporate taxes in 2018, roughly 10 percent of all revenue collected by the government.
New York Times, Obama Steps Back Into Public Life, Treading Carefully, Michael D. Shear, April 24, 2017. Speaking at a University of Chicago event, former President Barack Obama (shown in a White House file photo) said helping to prepare the next generation of political leadership would be a major goal.
Congress Returns To DC As '100 Days' Benchmark Looms
Washington Post, Trump officials pick ‘high priority’ towns for border wall, Tracy Jan and David Nakamura, April 24, 2017. So much for a “big, beautiful wall” spanning the southern border. Trump administration plans to start small, with only the most highly trafficked corridors. Despite more than a year of campaign rhetoric about a “big, beautiful wall” spanning the entirety of the southern border, the Trump administration plans to start with a much less ambitious footprint focusing only on the most highly trafficked corridors, according to a Department of Homeland Security planning document.
Identified as “high priority” in the document are the border sectors of the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas — encompassing Rio Grande City, McAllen and Weslaco ― as well as El Paso, Tucson and San Diego.
Huffington Post, 7 Baffling Moments From Donald Trump’s AP Interview, Alana Horowitz Satlin, April 24, 2017. So many words, so little sense. President Donald Trump lied about his policy accomplishments, interrupted himself, and went off on a series of incoherent rants during a recent interview with the Associated Press.
The AP released part of the interview last week, but made a fuller transcript available late Sunday. You can read it in full here, but beware: It’s a doozy. The phrase “Donald Trump is unintelligible” was even a top trending topic on Twitter early Monday ― a reference to the 16 times during the one-on-one interview where whatever the president said was apparently impossible to transcribe. Here are some of the interview’s most bizarre moments.
Roll Call, Shutdown Under GOP Control Could Be Historic, Kellie Mejdrich, April 24, 2017. Federal funding gaps rare under unified government. If the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are unable to get legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk to keep the government running beyond an April 28 deadline, it could be a fairly historic political moment. Not since President Jimmy Carter’s administration have a Congress and an executive branch unified under one party seen government funding gaps occur, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Hashing out a deal on fiscal 2017 — the most immediate political negotiation that could lead to a shutdown if unsuccessful — isn’t so simple for the GOP majorities who control today’s Congress. A highly conservative faction in the House that wants to see its priorities enacted in spending bills grates against a Democratic Senate minority that has the ability to block advancement of most legislation. The Senate needs 60 votes to advance spending bills and Republicans only hold 52 seats in the chamber.
Awaiting members as they return this week is a mountain of spending work that includes 11 unfinished fiscal 2017 bills, the return of sequester-level spending caps in fiscal 2018, and the need to raise the debt limit sometime later this year.
Fears From Deep State and False Flags
OpEdNews, 9/11 Destroyed America, Paul Craig Roberts, April 24, 2017. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), is a conservative scholar, and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan Administration.) The events on September 11, 2001, changed the world. It was the excuse for the U.S. government to launch military attacks on seven Middle Eastern countries, causing civilian casualties in the millions and sending waves of Muslim refugees into the Western world. The U.S. government wasted trillions of dollars destroying countries and murdering women and children, while public infrastructure in the U.S. deteriorated, Americans' homes were foreclosed, and American health needs went unattended. 9/11 was also the excuse for the destruction of the protection that the U.S. Constitution provided to ensure the liberty of the American citizen. Today no American has the protection of the civil liberty that the Constitution guarantees.
On September 11, 2001, when a neighbor called and told me to turn on the TV, I stopped what I was doing and turned on the TV. What I saw was the two World Center Towers blowing up. I had often enjoyed lunch in the rooftop restaurant in one of the towers across the street from my Wall Street Journal office. "It looks exactly like a controlled demolition," the news anchors reported. And indeed it did. As a Georgia Tech student I had witnessed a controlled demolition, and that is what I saw on television, just as that was what the news anchors saw.
Later that day Larry Silverstein (shown in a file photo), who owned, or rather held the lease on the World Trade Center, explained on TV that the free fall collapse in the late afternoon of the third WTC skyscraper, Building 7, into its own footprint was a conscious decision to "pull" the building. Pull is the term used by controlled demolition to describe a building wired with explosives to be destroyed. Building 7 had not been hit by an airliner, and suffered only minor and very limited office fires. Silverstein's statement was afterwards corrected by authorities to mean that the firemen were pulled from the building. However, many videos show the firemen already out of the building with the fireman stating that the building was going to be brought down.
As there is no doubt whatsoever that Building 7 was wired for demolition, the question is why? Because Americans are an insouciant and trusting people and confident of the inherent goodness of their country, years passed before even experts noticed that the official story stood in total contraction to known laws of physics, was in total contraction to how buildings collapse from asymetrical damage, and could not have collapsed due to being hit by airliners as the buildings met all code requirements for withstanding airliner collusions. Many did not even know that the third skyscraper, Building 7, had collapsed.
Professor Steven E. Jones, a professor of physics at BYU, was among the first to see that the official story was pure fantasy. His reward for speaking out was to have his tenure contract bought out by BYU, many believe under orders from the federal government backed up with the threat that all federal support of science at BYU would be terminated unless Stephen Jones was.
Approximately five years after 9/11, San Francisco architect Richard Gage noticed that the three WTC buildings did not fall down in any way consistent with the official explanation. He formed Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, currently about 3,000 members. This group includes high-rise architects and structural engineers who actually are experienced in the construction of skyscrapers. In other words, they are people who know what they are talking about.
These 3,000 experts have said that the official explanation of the collapse of three skyscrapers stands in contradiction to known laws of physics, architecture, and structural engineering. In other words, the official explanation is totally impossible. Only an uneducated and ignorant public can believe the official 9/11 story. The US population fits this description.
The Indicter, Unjustified attack on SWEDHR by Sweden leading newspaper DN and Swedish users in Wikipedia, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, April 24, 2017. Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, editor of The Indicter, published this article also on behalf of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR), which he chairs, and in collaboration with two other leaders Dr. Anders Romelsjö and Dr Lena Öske.
Dagens Nyheter (DN), Sweden’s leading newspaper, dedicated on 22 April 2017 a two-page article (front-page in the online edition) to our organization Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR). The article is generally positive. However, [the column here addresses] untruthful statements concerning SWEDHR by DN and Swedish mainstream media.
[For example], the report by Swedish Doctors for Human Rights mentioned both in the UN Security Council — and more recently around the OPCW meeting treating an alleged gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun — in fact refers to a purported gas attack which would have occurred in Sarmine, Syria, on March 2015. This is NOT explained in the DN article and thus it leads to an equivocal impression, and confusion regarding our organization statements. The cited SWEDHR report series consists in the analysis we did of two videos published by the ‘White Helmets’ as ‘proof’ that a gas attack had been perpetrated in Sarmine.
Our conclusion was that the ‘life-saving’ procedures showed in the videos were, when not fake, anti-medical and even counter-productive for life-saving purposes. Those ‘propaganda’ videos had been presented in April 2015 at a meeting of the Security Council called by then US Ambassador Samantha Power, and where doctors from the Syrian opposition were given the opportunity to ask anew for a No-Fly Zone in Syria. The videos were then uncritically showed by CNN on April 16, and the request for a No-Fly Zone repeated. Dagens Nyheter has also demanded the establishment of such No-Fly Zone in Syria.
Around the Nation: More Alabama Scandal
WhoWhatWhy, Sex Scandal Confirms Targeted Voter Suppression in Alabama, Sean Steinberg, April 24, 2017. Sometimes a scandal can bring other hidden things to light. In the case of the disgraced former Alabama governor, we now learn that GOP rationalizations to close DMVs were indeed nothing but a ruse for a deliberate voter suppression effort. Putting problematic politicians under a microscope for one thing can turn up entirely different wrongdoing, as disgraced former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (shown in an official photo) recently learned.
An impeachment investigation led by the Alabama House’s Judiciary Committee found the budget justifications Bentley used to rationalize DMV closures were decoys. An underlying political agenda would have disproportionately restricted voting access in African-American communities had the plans not stalled following federal investigation.
News About The News
Daily Howler, Assigned to interview the savant! Bob Somerby, April 24, 2017. A funny thing happened, five years ago, in the suites at Vanity Fair. Jim Holt, whose name won't ring a bell, had written a recognizable type of book. For unknown reasons, Vanity Fair assigned Lauren Christensen to interview him about it.
Before the Qs-and-As began, readers were handed this overview: "New Yorker Jim Holt has established himself as an invaluable fixture in the most sophisticated conversations about philosophy, physics, mathematics, and theology today, as an author and essayist for The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. With his latest book, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story, out today from Liveright, Holt allowed VF Daily to pick his brain..."
Was it true? Had Holt "established himself as an invaluable fixture in the most sophisticated conversations about philosophy, physics, mathematics, and theology today?"
Daily Beast, The Day Fox News Blacklisted Me, Matt Lewis, April 24, 2017. Seven years ago, a Fox News PR person wanted me to write a certain kind of piece. I didn’t — and funny coincidence, I didn’t appear on their air for a long time after. In September 2010, I was approached by a Fox News public relations employee who pitched me on the idea of writing a column praising the news outlet for refusing to broadcast the burning of a Koran by pastor Terry Jones — and to criticize other outlets for not taking this same prudent stance.
Roll Call, Shutdown Under GOP Control Could Be Historic, Kellie Mejdrich, April 24, 2017. Federal funding gaps rare under unified government Poll: Border Wall Fight Should Not Prompt Government Shutdown Group Strives to ‘Make Congress Great Again’ Trump Defense Boost Would Mean Big Gains for Some States
If the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are unable to get legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk to keep the government running beyond an April 28 deadline, it could be a fairly historic political moment. Not since President Jimmy Carter’s administration have a Congress and an executive branch unified under one party seen government funding gaps occur, according to the Congressional Research Service.
That was despite one funding gap during Carter’s administration that lasted 17 days — one of the longest appropriations lapses in the history of the modern budget process. But hashing out a deal on fiscal 2017 — the most immediate political negotiation that could lead to a shutdown if unsuccessful — isn’t so simple for the GOP majorities who control today’s Congress either.
Roll Call, Heard on the Hill’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner Party List, Alex Gangitano, April 24, 2017. It’s party time again in Washington, D.C. as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is quickly approaching. The dinner is April 29 and the bulk of the parties surrounding the event start on Thursday. President Donald Trump will not be attending the dinner, hosted this year by “Daily Show” correspondent and comic Hasan Minhaj. Some outlets have pulled out from hosting parties surrounding the event while others are sticking to it.
Criticism of Trump Administration
New York Times, Resilience of the Resistance, Charles M. Blow, April 24, 2017. The resistance to the travesty of Donald Trump’s presidency is holding up just fine, thank you very much. As we approach the 100th day of the Trump administration, a tremendous amount of attention and coverage will be devoted to analyzing its impact and efficacy. But I would also like to take time to celebrate the impact and efficacy of the resistance.
New York Times, Zombies of Voodoo Economics, Paul Krugman, April 24, 2017. According to many reports, Donald Trump is getting frantic as his administration nears the 100-day mark. It’s an arbitrary line in the sand, but one he himself touted in many pre-inauguration boasts. And it will be an occasion for numerous articles detailing how little of substance he has actually accomplished.
Yet many of these reports will, I suspect, miss half the story. It’s important to note just how little the tweeter-in-chief has managed to achieve; but we also need to focus on what, exactly, it is that he hasn’t achieved. For Mr. Trump sold himself to voters as unorthodox as well as effective. He was going to be a different kind of president, a consummate deal-maker who would transcend the usual ideological divide.
His supporters should therefore be dismayed, not just by his failure to actually close any deals, but by the fact that he evidently has no new ideas to offer, just the same old snake oil the right has been peddling for decades.
Importance of Threat Records Against President
President John F. Kennedy with Secret Service Director James Rowley in 1963
JFKcountercoup, The Significance of the Still-Secret Secret Service 'Threat Sheets,' William Kelly, April 24, 2017. In his March Sunshine Week presentation at the National Press Club, Federal Judge John Tunheim called attention to the "Secret Service Threat Sheets for 1963" that the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) requested but the Secret Service wanted to keep secret. The former ARRB chairman said: “Actually, the Secret Service was probably the most difficult agency. They were the only one that tried to reclassify material after we took office to keep the information away from us. And it wasn’t information that was all that important.”
“They fought us on the Threat Sheets,” said Tunheim (shown in a photo by Noel St. John), “and they would be important since the President was assassinated that fall, so the Threat Sheets would be relevant, but they fought us on threat. And I’m not sure as to what actually happened there, because it was after we left office.”
It was quite common for the various agencies seeking to keep records secret to continue to withhold them until after the Review Board was out of business, even though they were required to sign off on a sworn statement agreeing to continue to turn over assassination records to the National Archives after the Review Board had ceased to exist.
Indeed, the Threat Sheets for 1963 would be important, and they most certainly are relevant to the assassination, should be in the JFK Collection at the National Archives and if still secret they should be released in October.
The Threat Sheets should give us some more information on John Martin as well as the suspects in threats made against the president in Chicago and Tampa in the weeks leading up to the assassination that Blaine was made aware of. When former Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden, who investigated the Chicago threats, called attention to the fact that the Secret Service had intentionally destroyed the Tampa Advance Reports, Blaine noted in his book that he wrote the Tampa Advance Reports and still had copy in a box under his bed. With that the NARA contacted Blaine and obtained the reports, copies of which were intentionally destroyed by the Secret Service to keep them from the ARRB and the JFK Collection.
On my request to the National Archives as to the current status of the Secret Service “Threat Sheets” referred to by Judge Tunheim, I received the following reply from Martha Murphy (NARA's chief for Special Access and FOIA Staff): "We were able to verify that we have summaries of USSS records, commonly referred to as "threat sheets", in our protected collection. These 400+ pages have been referred to USSS for review. These pages will be released no later than the October deadline unless the USSS files an appeal and the President upholds that appeal."
Shown in the adjoining photo: The cover of "The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency" by Philip H. Melanson and Peter Stevens (Basic Books, 2003).
Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) "JFK at 100" Forum, Transcript: Nate Jones of the National Security Archive, March 16, 2017, published April 24, 2017. At CAPA's Sunshine Week Conference, Nate Jones (shown in a file photo) described the current state of President Kennedy's assassination records disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and otherwise. The top of his remarks is excerpted below, with the full transcript available via the JFKcountercoup site edited by CAPA board member William Kelly.
Nate Jones: Thanks a lot, thanks for putting this on. It's great to be here today, my name is Nate Jones from the National Security Archive and despite the official sounding name, the National Security Archive is a non-profit that files thousands of FOIA and mandatory declassification review requests each year, and we fight to get previously classified information declassified and published.
That said, I am not an expert on JFK assassination, the main reason is because the field is already crowded with experts, you here. So generally the National Security Archive focuses other matters, but I'm happy to talk today about perhaps fighting for access to records, not least of which because the JFK records collection act was one of, if not the strongest, laws ever passed for disclosing records.
I have a few points that I'll go through and hit, and anything else we can talk about it in questions. So, what is needed today, or what we talked about earlier today, the JFK records collection act, is very important. The head of the government office of information service, which is in charge of bureaucrat in charge of collecting classifications government-wide. It's said on the record that government classifiers joked that they could classify a ham sandwich.
The National Security Archive finally won a lawsuit for official CIA volume of Bay of Pigs history that the agency with the department justice lawyers argued to a judge and won, that its release could quote confuse the public, so it could remain secret. In this case we went to congress and congress actually passed the FOIA improvement act that, it is typically said that documents over 25 years can't use this pre-decisional exception anymore, so we won! But the executive branch didn't do it for us, just like the JFK Act, we had to go to congress, and congress had to actually pass a law, something that is rare, but these two anti-secrecy matters happened....
Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) "JFK at 100" Forum, Transcript: Adam Marshall of the Reporter's Committee for the Freedom of the Press, March 16, 2017, published April 24, 2017. At CAPA's Sunshine Week conference, Marshall (shown in a photo by Noel St. John) provided a how-to presentation on how to obtain documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The top of his remarks is excerpted below, with the full transcript available via the JFKcountercoup site edited by CAPA board member William Kelly.
Adam Marshall: Good afternoon, my name is Adam Marshall, I'm an attorney at the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press. Among other things, I participate in federal FOIA litigation and state public records litigation. That's about all I do. For those of you that are unaware that the Reporter's Committee is a non-profit based here, in Washington D.C., we primarily assist reporters and news organizations and all kinds of legal issues regarding the collection and dissemination of the news. My part in our organization's responsibilities is, like I said, is getting reported information from the government.
So I thought what I would tell you about, a little bit, because it is Sunshine Week, is the state of FOIA, which I'm sure you all already know, and also to talk a little bit about the recent amendments to FOIA that were brought in the 2016 updates. Then, finally to look forward a little bit in terms of what needs to be fixed with FOIA, so that we can get access to even more records....
Washington Post, Trump and his aides take hard line on border wall, as threat of government shutdown looms, Sean Sullivan, April 23, 2017. Trump, insisting Mexico will pay ‘at a later date,’ puts pressure on spending bill to fund wall. With a government shutdown looming, the president tweeted an attack on Democrats for opposing a border wall. Budget director Mick Mulvaney said he does not know whether Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) would sign the spending bill without border wall funding, but White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus seemed less rigid on the matter, focusing more on paying for “border security.”
Trump could be putting himself at odds with GOP leaders. House Speaker Paul Ryan made clear to rank-and-file Republican lawmakers this weekend that his top priority is to pass a bill by Friday’s deadline to keep the government open.
Trump's 100 Days
Washington Post, Why Trump should think twice before blaming someone else for his meh 100 days, Amber Phillips, April 23, 2017. President Trump is nearing 100 days without a victory. By way of explanation, he has pointed his Twitter trigger finger at the media, at Democrats in Congress, at conservative House Republicans — at pretty much everyone but himself. Given how rarely Trump expresses humility or regret, acknowledging that he's got a learning curve could help buy him a grace period. Assigning blame elsewhere just doesn't seem to be working for him.
New York Times, Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election, Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman And Eric Lichtblau April 22, 2017. As the F.B.I. investigated Hillary Clinton and the Trump campaign, James B. Comey tried to keep the bureau out of politics but plunged it into the center of a bitter election. The day before he upended the 2016 election, James B. Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, summoned agents and lawyers to his conference room. They had been debating all day, and it was time for a decision.
Mr. Comey’s plan was to tell Congress that the F.B.I. had received new evidence and was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton, the presidential front-runner. The move would violate the policies of an agency that does not reveal its investigations or do anything that may influence an election. But Mr. Comey (shown in a file photo) had declared the case closed, and he believed he was obligated to tell Congress that had changed.
Washington Post, French political parties upended as right-wing Le Pen, centrist Macron head to runoff for president, Michael Birnbaum and James McAuley, April 23, 2017. With opponents conceding, far-right anti-immigrant firebrand Marine Le Pen (shown above in a file photo) and unconventional centrist Emmanuel Macron advance to a May 7 vote that could further the worldwide march of anti-globalization populists.
Global Research, French Elections: Macron versus Le Pen in Run-off, Diana Johnstone, April 23, 2017. Discredited Socialist Party; A Vote against Neoliberalism. The results seem to be just what the polls have predicted from the start: Emmanuel Macron versus Marine Le Pen. As if the whole campaign brought us right around to the point of departure. A significant result of this campaign is the substitution of a new left represented by Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the totally discredited French Socialist Party, which has betrayed all the hopes of its followers by totally adopting the neoliberal economic policies dictated by the Europe Union. This is a renewed and much more vigorous and original left.
National Security Archive, The New Chiquita Papers: Secret Testimony and Internal Records Identify Banana Executives who Bankrolled Terror in Colombia, Michael Evans, April 24, 2017. SEC Deposition Transcripts Detail Years of Payments to Colombian Paramilitary, Guerrilla Groups; Top Chiquita Exec: “Not Realistic” to Halt Colombia Operations over Guerrilla Payments. Ten years ago, Chiquita Brands International became the first U.S.-based corporation convicted of violating a U.S. law against funding an international terrorist group — the paramilitary United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). But punishment for the crime was reserved only for the corporate entity, while the names of the individual company officials who engineered the payments have since remained hidden behind a wall of impunity.
Ten years ago, Chiquita became the first major multinational corporation convicted of “engaging in transactions with a specially-designated global terrorist.” In a March 2007 sentencing agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Chiquita admitted transferring some $1.7 million to the United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) from September 10, 2001, when the group was first named on the U.S. State Department's terrorist list, through June 2004, when the payments ceased.
Chiquita agreed to pay a relatively modest $25 million fine as part of its deal with the DOJ, but not a single company executive has ever been held responsible for bankrolling the AUC’s wave of terror. Nor have any Chiquita officials faced justice for millions more in outlays to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), and practically every other violent actor in the region.
Washington Post, Trump’s approval ratings sit at record lows but base stays steady, poll shows, Dan Balz and Scott Clement, April 22, 2017. President Trump is nearing the 100-day mark of his administration as the least popular chief executive in modern times. His voters are largely satisfied with his performance, but his base of support hasn’t grown since he took office, according to a Post-ABC News poll.
Trump's Outside Advisors
New York Times, The 20 People Trump Turns To Outside the White House, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, April 22, 2017. President Trump regularly consults a group of informal advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics. Here, based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, aides and advisers, is a look at Mr. Trump’s outside touchstones.
Washington Post, Lawmakers face a Friday deadline to keep federal agencies funded through the year, Paul Kane, April 22, 2017. Yet President Trump is also pushing for revisions on health care and the tax code.
Around the Nation
Washington Post, American Airlines is investigating claim that flight attendant violently confronted mother, Amy B Wang, April 22, 2017. The incident was captured on video by another passenger, Surain Adyanthaya, who uploaded the video to Facebook late Friday afternoon. The airline confirmed the incident took place Friday on American Airlines Flight 591, from San Francisco to Dallas-Ft. Worth.
“OMG! AA Flight attendant violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby,” Adyanthaya wrote on Facebook. “Then he tried to fight a passenger who stood up for her.”
The Indicter, Terrorists & rebels lured evacuees out of buses with snacks before blast: Aleppo attack witnesses, Vanessa Beeley, April 22, 2017. This report via RT is based in an investigative work by journalist Vanessa Beeley, associate editor at both 21stCenturyWire.com and The Indicter Magazine. Eyewitnesses to the bomb attack on a refugee convoy near Aleppo that killed dozens of children said the militants lured people out of the vehicles with snacks before the explosion, and also stopped them from escaping the blast site. A powerful explosion hit several buses full of people leaving militant-held towns and villages outside Aleppo last Saturday, killing over 100 people, including dozens of children, and injuring scores more.
Following the attack, Vanessa Beeley gathered first-hand accounts from those who survived the assault. People told her that the militants did their utmost to increase the death toll. The exclusive videos she provided to RT shed more light on the incident. “Just before the explosion, a strange car got from the militants’ checkpoint. They said they were bringing snacks for children,” the bus driver who was in the convoy said.
Innovations In Campaign Fund-raising
Alternet, Donald Trump Jr. Is Going to Montana to Kill Pregnant Prairie Dogs, Reynard Loki, April 21, 2017. Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are known for their passion for gunning down large African animals. In 2011, Donald Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr. went to Africa to kill wild animals. Their tour company, Hunting Legends, posted images of the pair smiling with their trophies: a leopard, bull, waterbuck, crocodile, and even one holding an amputated elephant's tail next to the animal's body.
Now, several Montana media outlets have reported that businessman Greg Gianforte, Republican nominee for Montana's House seat in the 2017 special election, announced he would take Donald Trump Jr. on a hunting excursion this weekend to shoot Black-tailed prairie dogs in Montana.
WhoWhatWhy, Will Latest French Terror Attack Help France’s Far-Right Candidate? Brent Gregston, April 21, 2017. A terror attack in Paris has hit France like a seismic shock only three days before voting begins in a presidential election where anything seems possible, even the end of the European Union.
Middle East Eye, US 'deep state' sold out counter-terrorism to keep itself in business, Gareth Porter, April 21, 2017. The reason for the betrayal of US counter-terrorism interests is not that the senior officials in charge of these war bureaucracies want to promote al-Qaeda. It is because they had to sacrifice the priority of countering al-Qaeda to maintain the alliances, the facilities and the operations on which their continued power and resources depend.
SouthFront, West Blocks OPCW Investigation Of ‘Idlib Chemical Attack’: Russia, Staff report, April 21, 2017. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has slammed Western powers for the blocking of the proposal at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on investigating the alleged chemical weapon use in in Khan Shaykhun village in the Syrian province of Idlib. Lavrov emphasized that no response has been received from the UK or France to Russian requests for detailed information on alleged chemical weapon probes taken in Idlib.
“I think we are very close to this organization [OPCW] being discredited,” he said, adding that “it is evident now that the false information about chemical weapons use by the Syrian state is being used to avoid enacting resolution 2254 that stipulates a political settlement. Instead, there is a move towards the long-standing plan for regime change. I’m certain that we must prevent it.” On April 19, Director of the Armaments Non-Proliferation and Control Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov said that no serious steps have been made to investigate the incident. “We received the first reports [about the incident] 15 days ago, yet no serious action has been taken to investigate these reports. At any rate, we have no information about the OPCW representatives visiting the Khan Sheikhun area,” he said in an address to the special session of the OPCW.
New York Times, White House, Seeking Victory, Aims to Revive Health Bill, Matt Flegenheimer and Reed Abelson, April 20, 2017. White House officials, desperate to demonstrate progress on President Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are pushing to resurrect a Republican health care bill before his 100th day in office next week. Some members of the president’s team have grown consumed by that deadline, worrying that appraisals of the president’s tenure will be brutal and hoping that a last push on health care might bring a measure of salvation. But Congress usually cannot take on two big things at once. At the same moment Mr. Trump hits his 100th day on Saturday, April 29, Republican congressional leaders face a far more urgent deadline: Much of the federal government will run out of money.
Washington Post, The next big protest in Washington is this weekend’s March for Science. And there are more to follow, Perry Stein, April 20, 2017. Activists and scientists are expected to descend on the nation’s capital Saturday to rally for environmental causes and government policies rooted in scientific research as part of the Earth Day and March for Science rallies. The demonstration comes a week after the Tax March and a week before the People’s Climate March. The protests are often fueled by those with left-leaning political views who were surprised by Trump’s victory but have not been quelled by his policies and actions since taking office.
Washington Post, Justice Dept. debating charges against WikiLeaks members in revelations of diplomatic, CIA materials, Matt Zapotosky and Ellen Nakashima, April 20, 2017. Prosecutors are examining the 2010 leak of cables and military documents, as well as the more recent revelation of CIA cyber-tools. Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents and investigating whether the group bears criminal responsibility for the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools, according to people familiar with the case.
The Justice Department under President Barack Obama had decided not to charge WikiLeaks for revealing some of the government’s most sensitive secrets — concluding that doing so would be akin to prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information. Justice Department leadership under President Trump, though, has indicated to prosecutors that it is open to taking another look at the case, which the Obama administration did not formally close.
Barry J. Pollack, an attorney for Assange, said Justice Department officials had not discussed with him or Assange the status of any investigation, despite his requests that they do so. He said there was “no legitimate basis for the Department of Justice to treat WikiLeaks differently than it treats other journalists.”
OpEdNews, Liberty Lives in the Light: Illuminate + End "False-Flag" Terrorism, Karl Golovin, April 20, 2017. The "official story" of 9/11 is not true. Yet what are Americans -- and their elected representatives, gathered in Washington, DC -- to do about it? "World Trade Center Building 7 fell symmetrically at free-fall acceleration into its own footprint at 5:20 pm on September 11, 2001," reads text on the back cover of the 48-page, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth publication, Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2 and 7 (www.BeyondMisinformation.org).
Most Americans have never heard of WTC-7; omitted from the 9/11 Commission Report and well-avoided by most mainstream media. However, in conjunction with the fifteenth anniversary of events, copies of AE911Truth's publication were hand delivered to the offices of every Senator and Representative in the U.S. Congress.
Oklahoma City Bombing Anniversary
PaulCraigRoberts.org, The Oklahoma City Bombing After 22 Years, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), April 19, 2017. Today, April 19, 2017, is the 22nd anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The bombing of the federal Murrah office building was blamed by federal authorities on a bomb made from fertilizer inside a truck parked in front of the building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
There are many anomalies associated with the official explanation, including mysterious deaths of some, including a police officer, who understood that the actual facts did not accord with the explanation. Investigators who report the actual facts are branded “conspiracy theorists” and dismissed. This has been the Deep State’s way of controlling explanations since the 1940s.
Americans never noticed that the Murrah building blew up from the inside out, not from the outside in. However, Air Force General Benton K. Partin, the US Air Force’s top explosive expert, did notice.
He prepared a detailed report containing “conclusive proof that the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was not caused solely by the truck bomb. Evidence shows that the massive destruction was primarily the result of four demolition charges placed at critical structural points at the third floor level.” Here is a copy of General Partin’s letter accompanying the report he sent to US Senator Trent Lott.New York Times, Sheldon Adelson Gave $5 Million for Trump Inauguration, Nicholas Fandos, The gift by the casino magnate was the largest single contribution ever given to a presidential inauguration. Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino magnate and stalwart Republican donor, gave $5 million to support the festivities surrounding President Trump’s inauguration, according to federal election filings. The gift was the largest single contribution ever given to an inauguration, but far from the only seven-figure check deposited by the committee responsible for carrying out much of the pomp leading up to Mr. Trump’s swearing-in.
A 510-page disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday shows more than two dozen million-dollar checks from corporations and wealthy individuals, including Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots and a close friend of Mr. Trump’s; Steven A. Cohen and Charles Schwab, both billionaire investors; and Robert R. Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy.com. In previous inaugurations, individuals were allowed to make contributions only up to $250,000. Limits are set by the administrations themselves.
The 50-year-old Chaffetz (shown in an official photo) had strolled to four easy re-elections in his Republican-friendly congressional district. But he was facing a surprising challenge from a Democratic newcomer who raised more than a half-million dollars by tapping into anger over Chaffetz's recent comment suggesting people should spend their money on health insurance instead of iPhones.
Political unknown Dr. Kathryn Allen has been transformed into a liberal hero for calling out Chaffetz on Twitter, gaining an early boost in name recognition. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also drew fire from Democrats after saying he would not investigate Trump's business empire, given that he had promised before the presidential election that he would investigate Clinton "for years" if she was elected.
Washington Post, Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News amid sexual harassment claims, Paul Farhi, April 19, 2017. The downfall of the network’s biggest star was swift and steep after it was disclosed earlier this month that O’Reilly and Fox had paid settlements for sexual harassment complaints made by female colleagues over the years. O’Reilly continued to deny the allegations, calling the claims "unfounded" in a statement.
The conservative-leaning host’s downfall was swift and steep, set in motion less than three weeks ago by revelations of a string of sexual harassment complaints against him. The questions about his conduct represented yet another black eye to Fox, which had dealt with a sexual harassment scandal involving its co-founder and then-chairman Roger Ailes, just last summer. In fact, it was a sixth accuser — a former guest on O’Reilly’s program named Wendy Walsh — who may have been the key to his unraveling. Unlike the women who received settlements for their complaints, Walsh never sued or settled with O’Reilly, leaving her free to speak in public about her allegations. She did so repeatedly, putting a name, face and voice to the allegations in media accounts.
Hear no evil: Mitch & Bonnie Lewandowski Photo via Flickr
WhoWhatWhy, JFK Assassination: Low Quality of Disinformation, Milicent Cranor, April 19, 2017. The quality of disinformation on the Kennedy assassination has never been very high. Much of it is pseudoscience, slick enough to fool the general public, but nothing that ever holds up under scrutiny. Earlier this week, I saw what I think is a specimen of it in an obituary in the Dallas Morning News of a woman who witnessed the assassination. At the time, she was one of their reporters: Mary Woodward Pillsworth. She died last Tuesday, April 11.
The disinformation was designed to neutralize what she had reported — something that contradicted the official story. As you will see below, the disinformation concerns a medical issue — but no medical personnel appear to have been involved in its design. In her story, she said she thought the shots came from the grassy knoll. She had been standing on the curb, west of the Texas Book Depository Building, in front of Abraham Zapruder, the man whose film captured the closest view of the assassination. To her right was the grassy knoll. She reported hearing an ”ear-shattering noise coming from behind us and a little to the right.” (She was one of scores of people who say shots came from that area.)
But her obituary contains this bit: “A lifelong hearing problem prevented her from determining the direction from which sounds originated.” Then I learned that she herself had tried to walk back what she initially reported. It was at a conference in 1993, Reporters Remember: November 22, 1963. After admitting what she had reported earlier, she said.
New York Times, Aaron Hernandez Found Hanged in Prison, Victor Mather, April 19, 2017. The former tight end with the New England Patriots, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015, hanged himself in his cell, officials said. Aaron Hernandez, the former star tight end with the New England Patriots who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015, hanged himself in prison on Wednesday, the authorities said.
“Mr. Hernandez hanged himself using a bedsheet that he attached to his cell window,” the statement said. “Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.” Mr. Hernandez’s suicide came on the day his former teammates would be visiting the White House to celebrate their recent Super Bowl victory. Mr. Hernandez, 27, was sentenced to prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Mr. Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. He had appealed the verdict.
Global Research, Foreign Policy and “False Flags”: Trump’s “War and Chocolate” Reality Show, Michel Chossudovsky, April 19, 2017. Who is the Butcher, Mr. Trump? The plush dinner event with China’s president Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago on the evening of April 6 was carefully planned to coincide with Trump’s missile strikes against Syria. Xi and Trump were accompanied by their wives; guests, family members and high-level officials from both countries were in attendance at the Palm Beach Mar-a Lago “replicate” of Rome’s Palazzo Chigi 16th Century dining room.
New York Times, Trump Signs Order That Could Curb Foreign Workers, Glenn Thrush, Nick Wingfield and Vindu Goel, April 18, 2017. The president said the executive order was a way to end the “theft of American prosperity,” which he said had been brought on by low-wage immigrant labor.
White House Business Conflicts
New York Times, Ivanka Trump Brand Poses Ethical Issues for New Post, Danny Hakim and Rachel Abrams, April 18, 2017. The president’s daughter, now a White House adviser, has filed 173 foreign trademarks in 21 countries, as well as in Hong Kong and the European Union.
U.S. Navy Misinformation
New York Times, Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea, Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt, April 18, 2017. The White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would be a powerful deterrent to North Korea. Except that the carrier was sailing in the opposite direction.
ConsortiumNews.com, NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims, Robert Parry (shown in file photo), April 18, 2017. The New York Times and other major media have ruled out any further skepticism toward the U.S. government’s claim that Syrian President Assad dropped a sarin bomb on a town in Idlib province.
In the case of the April 4 incident, there were several alternative explanations that deserved serious attention, including the possibility that Al Qaeda had staged the event, possibly sacrificing innocent civilians in an attempt to trick President Trump into reversing his administration’s recent renunciation of the U.S. goal of “regime change” in Syria.
Today, the major U.S. news outlets, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, apparently believe there is only one side to a story, the one espoused by the U.S. government or more generically the Establishment.
O'Reilly Seen As Further Damaged
Washington Post, Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News future is increasingly in peril, Paul Farhi, April 18, 2017. The Murdoch family will ultimately decide the fate of the top-rated host, who has been off the air for the past week.
Court Inquires Into Justice Department Honesty In Siegelman Case
Friends of Don Siegelman, Judicial Review Ordered, Don Siegelman, April 18, 2017. After eight years of trying to get the Department of Justice to release the results of their ‘secret’ internal investigation of government misconduct in my case, a Federal judge has ordered the DOJ to turn the results of their investigation over to her immediately. She found sufficient “bad faith” to order an independent judicial review where she will see the documentation herself.
Bob Abrams, former Attorney General for New York, stated: “… Perhaps the lid covering up the enormous scandal in the Siegelman case is about to (be) blown off.”
U.S. District Court Judge Madeline H. Haikala, for the Northern District of Alabama, ruled against the Department of Justice, ordering the DOJ to produce a heretofore sealed and secret report on prosecutorial misconduct in the case that sent Governor Siegelman to prison. he intends to review this report herself. Judge Haikala cited Jeffrey Toobin's 2015 New Yorker article, "Why Obama Should Pardon Don Siegelman," as evidence of intense public interest.
She found enough “bad faith” and misconduct to warrant an independent judicial review of the justifications by the DOJ for withholding documents. The heart of this opinion is the judge's finding that, because of alleged bad faith on the part of the prosecutors in the government’s case against Governor Siegelman, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is not entitled to the usual level of deference when they assert they're entitled to be taken at their word. The judge said she will see for herself whether the privileges they're hiding behind apply in this case. Judge Haikala ordered the Department of justice to turn over its “sealed” investigation to her by April 15th. The judge will review the documents “in camera." (In camera means 'in private.')
New York Times, Unreleased Tax Returns May Doom Trump’s Overhaul Effort, Alan Rappeport, April 18, 2017 (print edition). Democrats have pledged not to cooperate on rewriting the tax code unless they know how it would benefit the billionaire president and his family. Republicans, many of whom are also calling for President Trump to release his taxes, remain sharply divided on the path forward.
As a candidate, Mr. Trump declared that he understood America’s complex tax laws “better than anyone who has ever run for president” and that he alone could fix them. But it is becoming increasingly unlikely that there will be a simpler system, or even lower tax rates, this time next year. The Trump administration’s tax plan, promised in February, has yet to materialize; a House Republican plan has bogged down, taking as much fire from conservatives as liberals; and on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The Financial Times that the administration’s goal of getting a tax plan signed by August was “not realistic at this point.” A tax overhaul could be the next expansive Trump campaign promise that falters before it even gathered much steam.
Washington Post, British prime minister calls for early elections amid Brexit fallout, Karla Adam and Brian Murphy, April 18, 2017. Theresa May (shown in file photo) stunned her nation and its European partners with the call for a national election on June 8, seeking to cement her political backing as Britain moves ahead with the difficult negotiations on its break from the European Union.
Palmer Report, Easter egg roll: kids yell “no” as Donald Trump inexplicably flings some kid’s hat into the crowd [video],
Bill Palmer, April 17, 2017. Donald Trump returned to the White House today for the traditional Easter Egg Roll, but he might have done better for himself if he’d remained at Mar-a-Lago instead. Trump forgot to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, until his wife prompted him. But then things got even worse when a kid in the crowd asked Trump to autograph his hat.
New York Times, Christie on What Might Have Been (and His Obituary), Nick Corasaniti, April 17, 2017. With his term winding down, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has a 20 percent approval rating and a battered legacy. In an interview, he reflected on his tenure and looked ahead.
Washington Post, Trump’s administration doesn’t understand the meaning of power, Michael Gerson, April 17, 2017. A Trump Doctrine is still at the lumpy, unwhisked-batter stage of intellectual baking. The United States acts when horrible images of murdered children catch the president’s eye, or when the ordnance employed sends a signal of toughness. This is hardly a turn toward neo-conservatism. But what is it? And how can we know, if Trump, in all probability, does not yet know himself?
Washington Post, Trump calls Turkey’s Erdogan to congratulate him on contested vote, Carol Morello, April 17, 2017. According to Turkish officials, President Trump’s comments differed in tone from those of the State Department, which urged Turkey to respect the rights of its citizens and noted election irregularities observed during the referendum. The two leaders also agreed that Syria’s president should be held accountable for his actions, a Turkish statement said.
Washington Post, Fighting for his career, O’Reilly contests harassment charge from radio personality, Paul Farhi, April 17, 2017. The future of Bill O’Reilly’s long career as a Fox News host may hinge on the accusation raised by Wendy Walsh, who alleged he retaliated against her when she rebuffed his advances.
Washington Post, Trump officials turn to courts to block Obama-era legacy, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, April 17, 2017. While past presidents have used similar tactics, the Trump administration has an expanded strategy to stop federal judges from ruling on a broad array of regulations to give federal agencies time to revise or shrink the previous rules.
Washington Post, Making his debut on the Supreme Court, Gorsuch jumps right in, Robert Barnes, April 17, 2017. While hearing his first oral arguments as a member of the high court, Neil Gorsuch was unusually active for a new justice, asking more questions — 22 — than any of his fellow justices did at their initial appearances.
Guard Cover-Up In Mental Patient's Scalding Death?
Miami Herald, Was Rainey burned or wasn’t he? County blocks independent review, Julie K. Brown, April 17, 2017. The Miami-Dade medical examiner is refusing to allow an independent review of key portions of a controversial autopsy that led to the decision last month absolving four corrections officers of blame in the death of an inmate they locked in a hot shower for nearly two hours. Records obtained by the Miami Herald — as well as the observations of two forensic pathologists who have looked at the autopsy report — have raised questions about the medical examiner’s finding that the inmate’s death was an accident. Some inmates said the shower was used to punish prisoners with mental illnesses by exposing them to brutally hot conditions in an enclosed space.
FBI's Spy Records On Journalists
Courthouse News, FBI Agrees to Give Records to Anti-War Reporters, Helen Christophi, April 17, 2017. In a win for government-transparency advocates, the FBI has agreed to turn over records it created when it spied on two anti-war journalists and pay $299,000 to settle their attorneys’ fees. The deal, which brings to a close a four-year battle for the records under the Freedom of Information Act, is spelled out in two stipulations filed in San Francisco federal court.
Julia Mass, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which filed suit on behalf of the journalists, said in an interview Monday that her clients are pleased with the results. Journalists Eric Garris and Dennis Raimondo sued the FBI in 2013, after they learned the agency was monitoring their libertarian news website Antiwar.com.
Propaganda and Psychological Warfare Techniques
Hear no evil: Mitch & Bonnie Lewandowski Photo via Flickr
Waking Times, The 25 Rules of Disinformation, Isaac Davis, April 17, 2017. We are in the post-constitutional era in the United States, a time when the government does whatever it wants to whomever it wants, and there is not a thing anyone can do about it. How it is possible that the president can bomb a foreign country or threaten a full-scale international war without so much as even mentioning the need for Congress to chime in, let alone actually vote on a declaration of war?
The short answer is, disinformation and propaganda, which is the domain of mainstream media. When people are confused, when truth is hidden, when agendas are presented as life or death options, and when the public has no clue about which laws government is bound to, then anything goes.
READ: 11 Tactics Used by the Mainstream Media to Manufacture Consent for the Oligarchy:
1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it — especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.
3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such “arguable rumors”. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a “wild rumor” which can have no basis in fact.
Manufacturers Reported To Urge Trump Attacks On EPA, Labor Department
Washington Post, EPA, Labor Dept. are targeted by industry leaders after Trump solicits policy advice, Juliet Eilperin, April 16, 2017. The president invited American manufacturers to recommend ways the government could cut regulations and make it easier for companies to get their projects approved. Industry leaders responded with scores of suggestions to remove more than 150 regulations that paint the clearest picture yet of the dramatic series of steps that Trump officials are likely to take in overhauling federal policies. (EPA's new leader Scott Pruitt, who fought the agency as Oklahoma's attorney general, is shown in a file photo.)
Hackers Group Attacks NSA?
National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, MD (aerial view). A hacking group, which calls itself the Shadow Brokers, said the agency had broken into the international bank messaging system called Swift.
New York Times, Hackers Claim N.S.A. Infiltrated Mideast Banks, Nicole Perlroth, April 16, 2017 (print edition). For the past few months, an elite hacking group calling itself the Shadow Brokers has sporadically leaked sensitive data from the National Security Agency. On Friday, just when its leaks had appeared to slow, the group released what appears to be its most damaging leak so far: a trove of highly classified hacking tools used to break into various Microsoft systems, along with what it said was evidence that the N.S.A. had infiltrated the backbone of the Middle East’s banking infrastructure.
The timing of the leaks coincides with the United States’ recent shift in policy in Syria, which has escalated the conflict with the Syrian government’s main backer, Russia. The Shadow Brokers wrote in broken English in an online post, which cited the American missile attack on a Syrian air base among other reasons for the leak, that after a hiatus, it had returned to leaking because it was upset that President Trump was abandoning “the peoples who getting you elected.”
Among the leaks on Friday was an extensive list of PowerPoint and Excel documents that, if authentic, indicate that the N.S.A. has successfully infiltrated EastNets, a company based in Dubai that helps to manage transactions in the international bank messaging system called Swift.
Swift, short for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is used by about 11,000 banks to transfer money from one country to another. The vast majority of those banks rely on Swift service bureaus, like EastNets, the largest bureau in the Middle East, to handle their transactions.
The latest leaks suggest that, by hacking EastNets, the N.S.A. may have successfully hacked, or at minimum targeted, computers inside some of the biggest banks in the Middle East, including ones in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Kuwait; Qatar; Syria; Yemen; and the Palestinian territories. Among the leaked documents was a now-patched N.S.A. road map to hacking Swift’s back-end infrastructure, which could be used by cyber-criminals in the future.
This would not be the first time that United States intelligence agencies have been accused of hacking into Middle Eastern banks. In 2012, security researchers discovered that a computer virus had infiltrated thousands of computers, many inside Lebanese banks.
The digital crumbs from that attack suggested, cybersecurity experts said, that the virus was the work of the same attackers behind Stuxnet, the computer attack that destroyed the centrifuges in an Iranian nuclear facility and that has been attributed to the United States and Israel.
Media: InfoWars Host Alex Jones Challenged By Ex-Wife
Austin American-Statesman, In Travis County custody case, jury will search for real Alex Jones, Jonathan Tilove, April 16, 2017. Alex Jones and his ex-wife, Kelly, will be locked in a child custody trial the next two weeks in Austin. Alex Jones’ lawyers will make the case that their client should not be judged by his on-air persona. Lawyers for Kelly Jones will maintain that Jones’ public outbursts suggest he is not a fit parent.
At a recent pretrial hearing, attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’ on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in “Batman.” “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”
But in emotional testimony at the hearing, Kelly Jones, who is seeking to gain sole or joint custody of her three children with Alex Jones, portrayed the volcanic public figure as the real Alex Jones. “He’s not a stable person,” she said of the man with whom her 14-year-old son and 9- and 12-year-old daughters have lived since her 2015 divorce. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped.
“I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” she said, referring to his recent comments about California Democrat Adam Schiff. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”
Turkey's Vote To Change Constitution, Centralize Power
Washington Post, Turkey leader declares victory in vote to expand his powers, but results are contested, Kareem Fahim, April 16, 2017. If the referendum vote stands, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (shown in a file photo) would gain vast new authority as the unrivaled head of state. Opposition parties quickly demanded recounts of hundreds of thousands of ballots.
Iraq Battle for Mosul
SouthFront, PMU Says 355 ISIS Terrorist Were Killed In 40 days, April 16, 2017. A spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has announced that more than 355 ISIS terrorists were killed in 40 days of PMU operations in the western suburbs of Mosul and the vicinity of Tal Afar.
OpEdNews, Delegating Power to Generals? Trump's Historic Cowardice and Abrogation of Presidential Responsibility, Rob Kall (shown in file photo), April 15, 2017. Trump's claim that he has handed decision making over to his generals is a total abrogation of the one of the most important responsibilities of the president, of the most powerful person in the world. It is an act of extreme cowardice to not take responsibility for major military decisions. I'd say that it is disgustingly crass, gutless political calculation to avoid owning the decisions that only a president should make.
A president is the commander in chief and it his responsibility and his alone to make major military decisions, like launching 59 cruise missiles at Syria or dropping the biggest non-nuclear bomb in history, one that costs a third of a billion dollars (150 of them would eat up his entire $50 billion military budget.)
I fear that Trump, with his childish proclivity to use the big military tech "toys" that he has at his disposal, will, because he can, open up the nuclear football and push the button to launch the first nuclear attack since the 1940s. Or maybe, if you believe him that he's handed decision making over to his generals, one of them will make the decision without consulting with him. How insane is that?
Washington Post, North Korea’s parade of missiles signals advances, analysts say, Anna Fifield, April 15, 2017. The military spectacle marking the birth of North Korea’s founder was a way for Kim Jong Un to boost his own legitimacy as successor to the communist dynasty. The overall message was that North Korea is pressing ahead with its weapons and making progress — even as tensions with the United States continue to simmer.
Tax Day Protests
Washington Post, Thousands march to urge Trump to release his taxes, Perry Stein, April 15, 2017. More than 100 protests are expected around the country, with the main event unfolding in D.C., where demonstrators will rally in front of the U.S. Capitol and then head toward the Lincoln Memorial.
Inside Trump's White House: Bannon Supporter Threatens Scandal
New York Times, Steve Bannon Was Doomed, Frank Bruni, April 15, 2017. If you’re any student of politics, you saw Steve Bannon on the cover of Time magazine in early February — “The Great Manipulator,” it called him — and knew to start the countdown then. Dead strategist walking. He’d crossed the line that a politician’s advisers mustn’t, to a place and prominence where only the most foolish of them tread. Or at best he’d failed to prevent the media from tugging him there.
New York Times, Trump’s Appointees Raise Potential Ethics Conflicts, Eric Lipton, Ben Protess and Andrew W. Lehren, April 15, 2017. President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants. The appointments may have already led to ethics violations in at least two cases.
The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.
In at least two cases, the appointments may have already led to violations of the administration’s own ethics rules. But evaluating if and when such violations have occurred has become almost impossible because the Trump administration is secretly issuing waivers to the rules. One such case involves Michael Catanzaro, who serves as the top White House energy adviser. Until late last year, he was working as a lobbyist for major industry clients such as Devon Energy of Oklahoma, an oil and gas company, and Talen Energy of Pennsylvania, a coal-burning electric utility, as they fought Obama-era environmental regulations, including the landmark Clean Power Plan. Now, he is handling some of the same matters on behalf of the federal government.
Frostbite In Senate Chamber
Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren Says Mitch McConnell Won’t Even Say Hello To Her, Sam Levine, April 15, 2017. “I say hello to Mitch every chance I get, and he turns his head.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has apparently been ignoring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) since moving to silence her on the Senate floor in February, Warren told the Boston Globe.
McConnell cut Warren off in February as she tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King during a speech on the Senate floor, explaining her opposition to Jeff Session’s nomination to be attorney general. McConnell invoked a little-used rule that blocks senators “by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” Even though Sessions was eventually confirmed and two months have passed since the incident, the relationship between the two senators still remains frosty. “I’ve spoken to him, but he has not spoken to me,” Warren told the Globe.
Around the Nation
Hidden History Center, Museum Announces Books From Founder's Book Collection In Donor Drive, Marilyn Tenenoff (Executive Director), April 15, 2017. Today is the third anniversary of John Judge’s passing. We miss him deeply. You can own some of his personal books for a tax-deductible contribution to the Museum of Hidden History to benefit the continuation of his work at the Hidden History Center in York, PA. Inquire for details on title availability and cost.
Three years ago today, we received the heartbreaking news that our beloved friend and mentor, John Judge, had passed away. John would tell us not to be heartbroken. He would say that he has embarked on a new, exciting adventure. Godspeed, John! But even so, it is difficult for us to move into an unknown and sometimes frightening future without him. John’s loss was especially painful for me as his friend and life partner, but thousands of people who knew and loved him were also deeply affected. When he died, I received a huge outpouring of support and expressions of grief from those who treasured him. He was a guiding light and powerful force for truth. Especially now, we are in desperate need of his profound optimism and wise counsel. How would he guide us today?
Claim Of Trump Money-Laundering At NJ Casino
Palmer Report, U.S. Treasury busted Donald Trump for money laundering just before he entered the 2016 election, Bill Palmer, April 15, 2017. Even as everyone from the FBI to the State of New York to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees attempt to determine whether the money Donald Trump has received from Deutsche Bank is the same money that Deutsche Bank was laundering from Russia to New York City, it turns out a hotel owned by Donald Trump has already been busted for money laundering. In fact the punitive action came just before he entered the 2016 election.
Trump announced his candidacy in June of 2015. But just three months earlier, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department, hit the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort with $10 million in penalties (source: fincen.gov). In its headline, the announcement made clear that the Trump Taj Mahal had engaged in “Significant and Long Standing Anti-Money Laundering Violations.” And the violations occurred while Donald Trump was still a key shareholder in the company.
Donald Trump’s ownership stake in the Trump Taj Mahal dwindled steadily during the course of its run. For instance he sold off a minority stake just to get the doors open in the first place (source: Washington Post). But he didn’t relinquish his final ten percent ownership until February of 2016 (source: Associated Press) when his associate Carl Icahn took over.
So whereas most Trump-branded buildings have little financial connection to Donald Trump, in contrast all of the Trump Taj Mahal money laundering violations occurred while Donald Trump was part owner. And with the Treasury Department stating that the money laundering took place “over many years,” it means at least some of it took place back when Trump still owned a predominant stake. So this wasn’t merely a Trump connected property being busted; this was Donald Trump being busted.
9/11 Investigative Report On WTC Building 7
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, WTC 7 Final Report Due in August, Staff report, April 14, 2017. Today, we are thrilled to announce that the final report of the WTC 7 computer modeling study, which is being conducted by Dr. Leroy Hulsey at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), is set to be released in August of this year, shortly before the September 11th anniversary.
This report will be the culmination of more than two years of intensive modeling of WTC 7’s complex structural system, leading to an unbiased and transparent evaluation of whether fire or any other natural scenario could have caused the total, near-symmetrical, free-fall destruction of the building, as witnessed on 9/11.
Unlike the studies conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and by firms working on behalf of Silverstein Properties and Con Edison, all of the data associated with the UAF study will be made public so that it can fully be scrutinized.
Earlier this year, Dr. Hulsey (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo) and his team entered the final stage of their research, in which they are analyzing the structural response of the building to the failure of one or more columns and determining the kind of failures needed to reproduce the observed structural behavior. Before this stage, the team was evaluating the effects of fire on the structural members of Floor 13 near Column 79, where the collapse of WTC 7 is alleged to have initiated. The results of that analysis led Dr. Hulsey’s team to conclude in no uncertain terms that fires could not have triggered a global progressive collapse.
For a full status update, listen to Dr. Hulsey and AE911Truth’s Ted Walter discuss the project on the April 13 episode of 9/11 Free Fall radio.
Trump Foreign Policy
Wayne Madsen Report via The Fifth Estate, Trump Foreign Policy Becomes Bush 2.0 And Obama 1.5, April 14, 2017. (Wayne Madsen, author of 15 books including an encyclopedia of CIA front companies, is a former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contractor who appeared as an expert on nearly all major U.S. broadcast and cable networks before he questioned evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks.) President Trump had CNN on the ropes, all it would have taken was the knockout blow -- and now CNN calls the foreign policy shots for the White House, plunging the world into chaos once again. Donald Trump’s pivot to U.S. involvement in regime change in multiple countries, combined with military and diplomatic bluster, swagger, and chest-thumping can best be summed up as combining the unitary executive imperialistic foreign policy of George W. Bush with the regime change agenda of Barack Obama, or "Bush version 2.0/Obama version 1.5."
Trump’s knee-jerk decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Shayrat air base, a forward operating base for Syrian and Russian military forces battling against Islamic State forces in Palmyra and other locations, represents the type of reckless unilateralism employed by the Bush administration in Iraq coupled with the "regime change" tactics of the Obama administration throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
However, even Barack Obama refused to be drawn into direct military action against the Syrian government, preferring instead to use Syrian rebel factions backed by the Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari governments and overseen by Central Intelligence Agency operatives to launch attacks on Syrian government forces.
Trump’s decision to attack Syria’s forces was based on the shoddiest of video and photographic "evidence" that was tainted with the fingerprints of the very dubious and terrorist-connected Syrian "White Helmets" and the pathetic joke known as the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" in Coventry, England. There was no wonder that Trump’s cruise missile attack was celebrated wildly in the Islamic State and Al Qaeda camps around the Middle East, by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and in the royal courts of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These quarters had previously been worried about Trump’s campaign rhetoric to join with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia in defeating the jihadist scourge that swept across Syria as the result of Obama’s "Arab Spring" and regime change goals.
EPA Leader Scoffs At Climate Change Goal
Washington Post, EPA chief Scott Pruitt calls for an ‘exit’ from the Paris climate agreement, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, April 14, 2017. The comment appeared to be the first time such a high-ranking official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.
CIA Director, WikiLeaks Founder Exchange Attacks
The Intercept, Trump’s CIA Director Pompeo, Targeting WikiLeaks, Explicitly Threatens Speech and Press Freedoms, Glenn Greenwald, April 14, 2017. In February, after Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. media were the “enemy of the people,” the targets of his insult exploded with indignation, devoting wall-to-wall media coverage to what they depicted as a grave assault on press freedoms more befitting of a tyranny. By stark and disturbing contrast, the media reaction yesterday was far more muted, even welcoming, when Trump’s CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, actually and explicitly vowed to target freedoms of speech and press in a blistering, threatening speech he delivered to the D.C. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.
What made Pompeo’s overt threats of repression so palatable to many was that they were not directed at CNN, the New York Times or other beloved-in-D.C. outlets, but rather at WikiLeaks, more marginalized publishers of information, and various leakers and whistleblowers, including Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
Trump’s CIA Director (shown in an official photo) stood up in public and explicitly threatened to target free speech rights and press freedoms, and it was almost impossible to find even a single U.S. mainstream journalist expressing objections or alarm, because the targets Pompeo chose in this instance are ones they dislike – much the way that many are willing to overlook or even sanction free speech repression if the targeted ideas or speakers are sufficiently unpopular.
Decreeing (with no evidence) that WikiLeaks is “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” a belief that has become gospel in establishment Democratic Party circles – Pompeo proclaimed that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” He also argued that while WikiLeaks “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” but: “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.”
He then issued this remarkable threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” At no point did Pompeo specify what steps the CIA intended to take to ensure that the “space” to publish secrets “ends now.”
China Warns On Korea
Washington Post, China warns U.S., North Korea to ratchet down escalating tensions, Anna Fifield, April 14, 2017. The Chinese foreign minister urged Washington and Pyongyang not to push their recriminations to a point of no return that would allow war to break out on the Korean Peninsula. If such hostilities occur, the two nations must bear the historical responsibility and “pay the corresponding price,” he warned.
More On Alabama 'Luv Guv' Scandal
Legal Schnauzer, Finding of "no probable cause" against Rebekah Mason suggests ethics commission is part of scheme to oust Bentley but keep greater wrongdoing under cover, Roger Shuler, April 14, 2017. The Alabama Ethics Commission has found "no probable cause" that Rebekah Caldwell Mason (shown in a file photo), adviser and mistress to former Gov. Robert Bentley, violated state ethics laws. The decision adds to the growing body of evidence that the process leading to Bentley's resignation on Monday was a sham — "fix" would be another fitting word — designed only to remove an embarrassing governor from office, but provide no justice for the citizens of Alabama.
Trump-Russia Investigations Round-Up
Palmer Report, New York Attorney General expected to bring RICO indictments in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, Bill Palmer, April 14, 2017. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman busted Donald Trump’s fraudulent Trump University. He busted Trump’s phony charity. And he recently busted Trump’s favorite lender, Deutsche Bank, for Russian money laundering. But now, according to a source that’s proven to be consistently reliable, The New York AG is expected to bring RICO indictments in the Trump-Russia scandal.
Palmer Report, Donald Trump’s new CIA Director Mike Pompeo hangs Roger Stone out to dry over WikiLeaks, Bill Palmer, April 14, 2017.
In the latest sign that Donald Trump is struggling to hold his own political coalition together in the face of mounting pressure over the Russia scandal, Trump’s longtime close friend Roger Stone is launching an all out offensive – against Trump’s own people. Last week Stone went after Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner, and now he’s going after Trump’s own hand-picked CIA Director. Now that the Trump administration is trying to throw WikiLeaks under the bus to stave off the Russia scandal, Roger Stone is erupting.
Stone now says “I think [Pompeo] should resign. I really think he should resign. This really raises questions about his qualifications and his ability to do the job” (source: Mediaite). By throwing WikiLeaks under the Russia bus, Pompeo (and by extension Trump) are essentially leaving Stone out to dry, as his connections to WikiLeaks are already well established. Stone seems to know he’s being scapegoated.
This comes just a little more than a week after Roger Stone began publicly attacking Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, openly accusing him of leaking dirt about White House rival Steve Bannon to MSNBC host Morning Joe (link). How many more of Trump’s allies will Stone attack before Trump begins attacking Stone?
Washington Post, Trump to discontinue Obama policy of voluntarily releasing White House visitor logs, John Wagner, April 14, 2017. The administration cited “grave national security risks and privacy concerns” to disclosing the names of visitors to the executive mansion. A coalition of watchdog groups had sued to compel the same release of records made public under Barack Obama.
Instead, the White House said it would honor Freedom of Information Act requests for such records only for components of the White House that are classified under the law as agencies, such as the Office of Management and Budget. The new policy excludes visits to the president, vice president and their senior staff. The Trump administration was sued in federal court earlier this week by a coalition of watchdog groups in a bid to compel the same release of records made public under Obama.
Washington Post, Massive U.S. bomb in Afghanistan killed 36 from Islamic State, say local officials, Erin Cunningham and Sayed Salahuddin, April 14, 2017. As many as three dozen militants with the radical Islamic State group were killed when U.S. forces dropped a 22,000-pound bomb on their hideout in eastern Afghanistan, defense ministry officials said Friday. The strike, which marked the first use of the GBU-43, the U.S. military's largest non-nuclear device ever used in combat, followed weeks of clashes between the militants and U.S. and Afghan forces in Nangarhar province.
Inside the White House
Daily Beast, Alt-Right Ringleader Mike Cernovich Threatens to Drop ‘Motherlode’ If Steve Bannon Is Ousted, Ben Collins, April 14, 2017. The Pizzagate conspiracy theorist claims to have a cache of dirty secrets that he’s willing to deploy. A week after President Donald Trump began to publicly distance himself from White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (shown file photo), alt-right ringleader Mike Cernovich threatened to release a “motherlode” of stories that could “destroy marriages” if Bannon is formally let go from the administration. Cernovich made the claims that he’d release a series of “scoops” if Bannon is officially pushed out of the White House on an eleven-minute, self-recorded Periscope Thursday night.
“If they get rid of Bannon, you know what’s gonna happen? The motherlode. If Bannon is removed, there are gonna be divorces, because I know about the mistresses, the sugar babies, the drugs, the pill popping, the orgies. I know everything,” said Cernovich. “If they go after Bannon, the mother of all stories is gonna drop, and we’re just gonna destroy marriages, relationships—it’s gonna get personal.”
RT, ‘Brought to you by agency which produced Al-Qaeda & ISIS' – Assange trolls CIA chief, Staff report, April 14, 2017 (video 2:32 mins.) Called a "non-state intelligence service" today by the "state non-intelligence agency" which produced al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran & Pinochet, Assange (shown in a file photo) tweeted, “Called a ‘non-state intelligence service’ today by the ‘state non-intelligence agency’ which produced Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iraq, Iran & Pinochet.” Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of siding with dictators and being a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on Thursday. He called Assange and his associates “demons” and said “he and his ilk make common cause with dictators.”
Assange in turn accused the CIA of producing terrorist groups and dictators. He said the CIA produced Al-Qaeda, referring to the agency’s role in arming and training mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets during the 1970s, some of whom – including Osama Bin Laden – later evolved into Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Assange has previously stated that the CIA’s role in arming the mujahideen led to Al-Qaeda, which led to 9/11, the Iraq invasion and, later, the formation of ISIS. The CIA admitted it was behind the 1953 coup in Iran which overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and reinstalled the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose 26 year rule led to the 1979 Islamic revolution.
New WikiLeaks Release On CIA
RT, ‘Top secret CIA virus control system’: WikiLeaks releases ‘Hive’ from #Vault7 series, Staff report, April 14, 2017. Hive, the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents exposing alleged CIA hacking techniques from ‘Vault 7’, details how the agency can monitor its targets through the use of malware and carry out specific tasks on targeted machines. Described as a multi-platform malware suite, Hive provides “customisable implants” for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in Internet routers), Linux platforms, and AVTech Network Video Recorders, used for CCTV recording. Such implants allow the CIA to communicate specific commands. Details: WikiLeaks Release: Inside the top secret CIA virus control system HIVE.
Around the Nation
USA Today, Army charges retired general with rape against a minor in the 1980s, Tom Vanden Brook, April 14, 2017. The Army on Friday announced rape charges against a retired general for multiple assaults against a minor dating to the 1980s. Retired Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene, a Virginia resident, is charged with six charges of rape of a minor between 1983 and 1989, the Army announced. The criminal investigation remains open, according to the Army.
9/11 Fact Finding
Antiwar, US Insurers Sue Saudis for $4.2 Billion Over 9/11, Jason Ditz, April 13, 2017. Targets Banks, Companies Seen Having Supported al-Qaeda. Last year’s Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a bill which allowed Americans to sue Saudi Arabia in US court over their involvement in 9/11, has yielded another major lawsuit today, a $4.2 billion suit filed by over two dozen US insurers related to losses sustained because of the 2001 attack.
The lawsuit is targeting a pair of Saudi banks, and a number of Saudi companies with ties to the bin Laden family, accusing them of various activities in support of al-Qaeda in the years ahead of 9/11, and subsequently having “aided and abetted” the attack. The biggest target is the Saudi National Commercial Bank, which is majority state-owned. The Saudi government heavily pressured the Obama Administration to block the JASTA last year, threatening to crash the US treasury market if it led to lawsuits, but overwhelming Congressional support still got it passed into law.
While there were more than a few lawsuits already filed in the past several weeks related to JASTA, this is by far the biggest, and most previous lawsuits are still in limbo as the court and lawyers try to combine them into various class action groups.
Wars In Middle East
New York Times, Assad Says Videos of Dead Children in Syria Chemical Attack Were Faked, Rick Gladstone, Vilified by accusations of using a chemical bomb, Syria’s president (shown in a file photo) intensified his counter-propaganda campaign on Thursday, suggesting that child actors had staged death scenes to malign him and that American warplanes had bombed a terrorist warehouse full of poison gases, killing hundreds of people.
In his first interview since an April 4 attack on the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people, sickened hundreds and outraged the world, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria not only doubled down on the government’s denials of responsibility but contended without evidence that the episode had been fabricated as a pretext for an American retaliatory missile strike.
“We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun,” Mr. Assad told Agence France-Presse in the television interview from Damascus, which was recorded on Wednesday. “Were they dead at all?”
The decision by the increasingly isolated Syrian president to give an interview to a Western news organization appeared to reflect a calculation that his best option, even in the face of incriminating evidence, was to repeatedly deny responsibility for the attack, one of the worst in the six-year-old Syrian war.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance, America's largest non-nuclear bomb, of the type dropped in Afghanistan (File photo from U.S. Eglin Air Force Base via Associated Press)
New York Times, U.S. Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on ISIS Caves in Afghanistan, Helene Cooper, April 13, 2017. The United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the largest conventional bomb in the American arsenal — on an Islamic State cave complex in Afghanistan on Thursday, the Pentagon said, unleashing a munition so massive that it had to be dropped from the rear of a cargo plane.
The bomb, officially called the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast — hence its moniker — hit a tunnel complex in the Achin district of Nangarhar Province, according to a statement from the United States military in Afghanistan. It did not say how many militants were killed.
During the years of intense fighting in Afghanistan, a handful of similar bombs were used by the United States to destroy caves believed to be used by forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, as well as to frighten troops dug into trenches who were not immediately killed by the weapon. That the United States is now again using this type of ordnance reflects the changing nature of the foe in Afghanistan, and the fact that the Islamic State, like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, is now also using caves and tunnels. Thursday’s strike was the first combat use of GBU-43/B, which is an updated version of the older bombs.
TomDispatch.com via OpEdNews, From Deterrence to Doomsday? Tom Engelhardt (shown in photo), April 13, 2017. Let's skip the obvious. Leave aside, for instance, the way Donald Trump's decision to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian air base is but another example of what we already know: that acts of war are now the prerogative, and only the prerogative, of the president (or of military commanders whom Trump has given greater authority to act on their own). Checks, balances? I doubt either of them applies anymore when it comes to war, American-style. These days, the only checks written are to the Pentagon and "balance" isn't a concept outside of gymnastics.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has learned that every wild defeat at home, every swirling palace intrigue that would make a tsar blush, can be... well, trumped by dumping 59 cruise missiles or their equivalent in some distant land to save the "beautiful babies." (Forget the babies "his" generals have been killing.) Launch the missiles, send in the raiders, dispatch the planes, and you'll get everyone you ever tweet-smashed -- including Hillary, John, Nancy, Marco, and Chuck to applaud you and praise your acts.
They'll be joined by the official right wing (though not the unofficial one), while the neocons and their pals will hail you as the Churchill of the twenty-first century. Or at least, all of this will be true until -- consult George W. Bush and Barack Obama on this -- it isn't; until the day after; until, you know, the moment we've experienced over and over during the last 15 years of American war-making, the one where it suddenly becomes clear (yet again) that things are going really, really wrong.
New York Times, 18 Syrian Fighters Allied With U.S. Are Killed in Coalition Airstrike, Helene Cooper, April 13, 2017. An airstrike by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States, the military said on Thursday. The strike, on Tuesday in Tabqah, Syria, was the third time in a month that American-led airstrikes may have killed civilians or allies, and it comes even as the Pentagon is investigating two previous airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of civilians in a mosque complex in Syria and in a building in the west of Mosul, Iraq.
Tuesday’s strike was requested by coalition allies who were on the ground near Tabqah, the United States Central Command, which oversees combat operations in the Middle East, said in a statement. The fighters had called in the airstrikes and “identified the target location as an ISIS fighting position,” it said, using another name for the Islamic State. An airstrike by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States, the military said on Thursday.
The strike, on Tuesday in Tabqah, Syria, was the third time in a month that American-led airstrikes may have killed civilians or allies, and it comes even as the Pentagon is investigating two previous airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of civilians in a mosque complex in Syria and in a building in the west of Mosul, Iraq.
President Trump with cabinet and advisors planning war escalation in Syria
Truthout, New Revelations Belie Trump Claims on Syria Chemical Attack, Gareth Porter, April 13, 2017. Two new revelations contradict the Trump administration's line on the April 4 attack. A former US official knowledgeable about the episode told Truthout that the Russians had actually informed their US counterparts in Syria of the Syrian military's plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours before the strike. And a leading analyst on military technology, Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, has concluded that the alleged device for a sarin attack could not have been delivered from the air but only from the ground, meaning that the chemical attack may not have been the result of the Syrian airstrike.
Lincoln's Assassination In Retrospect
John Surratt, accused conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, in his Papal Zouave uniform. (Library of Congress)
Washington Post, ‘Assassins!’: A Confederate spy was accused of helping kill Abraham Lincoln. Then he vanished, Michael E. Miller, April 13, 2017. (Published as a "Retropolis" feature by the Post on local history.) On Feb. 19, 1867, the American gunboat Swatara returned to the Washington Navy Yard after a months-long trip to the Middle East. Out stepped a young man in a bizarre but filthy uniform and shackles. His name was John Harrison Surratt, and he was the most wanted man in the entire world.
Two years earlier, Surratt had been a Confederate spy. The Maryland native had conspired with John Wilkes Booth and others to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln in a desperate bid to reverse the tide of the Civil War. But the plot had failed, and on April 14, 1865, Booth instead fatally shot Lincoln inside Ford’s Theatre. Newspapers across the country featured photos of Booth and Surratt under the headline “Assassins!”
Booth was hunted down and killed in a burning barn in Virginia. Eight of his alleged co-conspirators — including Surratt’s mother, Mary — were arrested, quickly tried by a military commission and found guilty. But John Surratt was nowhere to be found. For nearly two years, he lived in hiding, wore disguises and watched as his mother and friends were hanged. Surratt traveled to half a dozen countries on three continents, and even joined the Pope’s personal army.
Surratt’s remarkable tale is a footnote in the sweeping history of the Civil War, often overshadowed by Booth’s infamous act. One hundred and fifty years ago, however, Surratt’s trial threatened to expose ties between the Confederacy and Lincoln’s assassination. Instead, it showed that the newly reunited country was ready to move on.
British Spies, Trump Team
Guardian, British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia, Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Nick Hopkins, April 13, 2017. Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told. GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added. Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.
Palmer Report, Carter Page won’t say who brought him to Donald Trump, but we’ve confirmed it was Jeff Sessions, Bill Palmer, April 13, 2017. Palmer Report can definitively answer the question Carter Page is dodging.
Palmer Report, Intel sources: first big arrests in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal could come next week, Bill Palmer, April 13, 2017. Donald Trump dropped the “Mother of all Bombs” today in Afghanistan (source: CNBC), but it appears to have been a mere attempt at distracting from the mother of all bombshells. Reliable sources, who have proven themselves correct in the past, are now pointing to U.S. intel agencies working with the Attorney General of New York to begin imminently dismantling Trump’s inner circle. In fact the big major arrests may come as soon as next week.
Palmer Report, Sources: Rudy Giuliani wants to flip on Donald Trump, but FBI doesn’t need him to make the case, Bill Palmer, April 13, 2017. We’ve seen weeks of headlines pointing to Rudy Giuliani (shown in a file photo) coming under increasing legal fire for his antics with imprisoned alleged criminal Reza Zarrab, who has financial connections to Donald Trump. Now comes word from two consistently accurate sources that Giuliani is looking to make a deal with the FBI, but that James Comey (shown at right) doesn’t want or need Giuliani’s cooperation in order to move forward.
United Airlines Passenger Abuse Scandal
Huffington Post, Lawyer For David Dao, Dragged United Passenger, Says ‘Airlines Have Bullied Us,’ Sebastian Murdock, April 13, 2017. “Are we gonna continue being treated like cattle?” Dao’s lawyer said Thursday. A lawyer for Dr. David Dao, the United Airlines passenger who was violently removed from his seat Sunday on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, said Thursday that a lawsuit from Dao was “likely.”
“Here’s the law, real simple: If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence,” Thomas Demetrio said during a press conference. “That’s the law.” Agents initially said they had “no choice” but to remove Dao, 69, to make room for United employees on the flight. The company accused him of being “belligerent and disruptive,” but video shows Dao remaining calm in the moments leading up to the physical altercation. “I’m a physician and I have to work tomorrow at 8 o’clock,” Dao can be seen politely telling Chicago airport security officers in the footage.
However, authorities dragged a bloodied Dao off the plane as other passengers looked on in horror. Dao lost two front teeth and sustained a concussion and a broken nose. He will need to have reconstructive surgery, his lawyer said.
NBC Meet the Press, Stone Still Believes Cruz’s Father Linked to CIA, Chuck Todd, April 13, 2017. Roger Stone (shown in a file photo) doubled down on his allegations against Senator Ted Cruz and Cruz's family. (1:18 Mins.). Stone: Ted Cruz is a slippery guy. I think Ted's father has CIA connections, i think he's a shady character.
Culture.com, CIA Open Source Records on Executive Action, Staff report, April 13, 2017. Executive Action (1973, starring Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Will Geer) is perhaps the most famous conspiracy thriller about the John Kennedy assassination, with the exception of Oliver Stone’s JFK. Recently released CIA records in the CREST database show that they were keeping an eye the production and how it was being received. The articles even detail how the CIA may have threatened or tried to stop the production of the film.
Executive Action it tells a story of a private, ultra-right wing corporate conspiracy to assassinate JFK and set up Lee Harvey Oswald as a patsy. The CIA records on the movie are all newspaper articles collected via their Open Source Center. All five documents include handwritten notes in the top right corner recording that the story was about Executive Action, showing that the film was a concern for the agency.
Why were the CIA worried about Executive Action? Several of the stories emphasized how the film was driven by left-wing ideology, seeking to exonerate the communist Oswald and blame right-wingers instead. One from The Pink Sheet listed how the major stars and producers had left-wing sympathies:
Interestingly, two of the writers were subsequently sued by CIA agents – Mark Lane for his allegations that E. Howard Hunt was in Dallas on the day of the assassination (something Hunt later confessed to for unknown reasons), and Donald Freed for his book Death in Washington, which alleged that David Atlee Phillips was involved in the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, the 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier, and the JFK assassination. The CIA also monitored developments in both of these legal cases.
Several of the stories highlight how the CIA were reputed to be concerned about Executive Action and were [sic] trying to interfere or even stop it from being made. One New York Times report noted that: "The producer is trying to withhold more detailed in formation about the production until shooting is completed in two or three weeks. According to his press representative, Steve Jaffe, there have been rumours of Central Intelligence Agency interest in the project, and one crew member reported a C.I.A. threat to sabotage the production…." Whether these stories are accurate is not certain, though the film was heavily criticised on its release and was quickly removed from theatres.
Legal Schnauzer, Even progressive journalists, like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC, can't get it right about how the "Luv Guv" Bentley story was broken, Roger Shuler, April 13, 2017. The sex and money scandal that brought down Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley this week was a train wreck of deceit.
But the dishonesty and misinformation were not limited to political figures, both in and outside the Bentley Administration. It also includes the mainstream media (MSM), the kind of news outlets that involve newspaper chains and major television networks. Andrew Kreig, a D.C.-based lawyer and journalist, takes the MSM to task for its coverage of the Bentley scandal, in a new column at the Justice-Integrity Project. The piece is titled "Alabama blogger, not mainstream media, exposed state house scandal."
We appreciate Kreig's recognition that the Bentley scandal broke here at Legal Schnauzer, not al.com or any other mainstream outlet. In fact, we broke the story almost seven months before the MSM hopped on the train, and during those intervening months, al.com reporters John Archibald, Chuck Dean (yes, he of Ashley Madison fame), and Leada Gore mostly tried to debunk the story and attack my reporting.
I'm never surprised when al.com -- a consortium of Alabama right-wing rags -- sinks to lazy, dishonest, or underhanded reporting. But it is disappointing when even progressive journalists, like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC (shown in screenshots), can't get it right about the origins of the Bentley scandal.
I'm a fan of both Maddow and O'Donnell, and I appreciate that Maddow has been, by far, the most prominent journalist to cover the story; she has devoted segments to it on at least a half dozen occasions, giving it the kind of probing, insightful treatment her viewers have come to expect.
But she repeatedly has gotten it wrong about who broke the story. (Rachel, it was me, dammit!!!) On multiple occasions, she has credited al.com and John Archibald with breaking the story. That's not even close to being accurate; they tried to squelch the story and trash the reporter who did break it. MSNBC took it a step further after her report Monday night, after Bentley had resigned. During the talky transition from one show to another, O'Donnell gave Maddow credit for being out front on the story, before everyone. (Cough . . . hack . . . snort!) Maddow did not say anything that indicated she disagreed with that assessment.
Democrats Still Fighting Progressives?
OpEdNews, The DNC leadership just demonstrated, in Kansas, how they will lose in 2018, Rob Kall (shown in a file photo), April 12, 2017. By doing the same failed thing they've been doing. Basically, the DNC requires that candidates give up their own positions and principles and embrace the DNC's. This is ugly stupid. Look at how well it's working in the House, the Senate, in almost two thirds of state Governors and state legislatures. I'll say it again. The DNC leadership just demonstrated, in Kansas, how they will lose in 2018.
Washington Post, Trump administration moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force, David Nakamura, April 12, 2017. An internal Department of Homeland Security assessment obtained by The Post shows the agency has already found 33,000 more beds to house undocumented immigrants in detention centers, opened discussions with dozens of local police forces and identified where construction of Trump’s border wall could begin.
Secretary of State Visits Russia
Washington Post, Tillerson, Lavrov differ on use of chemical weapons in Syria, Carol Morello and David Filipov, April 12, 2017. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held his first direct talks with Russia’s president on Wednesday amid deepening tensions after U.S. missile strikes in Syria and Washington’s demands that Moscow abandon support for its main Middle East ally.
The meeting between Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin came after hours of tense exchanges, with both sides staking out positions that were sharply at odds. Russia made it clear it was unwilling to roll back its strategic alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The talks appeared unlikely to bring any significant breakthroughs after last week’s missile strike plunged U.S.-Russian relations to one of the lowest points since the Cold War. At the United Nations hours later, Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the reported use of a banned chemical weapon in a rebel-held town in northern Syria last week and urging a prompt investigation.
Palmer Report, Russian asset Carter Page has a NYC office with a private connecting walkway to Trump Tower, Bill Palmer, April 12, 2017. Well this explains a lot.
Daily Mail Withdraws Escort Insinuation Against Melania
National Public Radio, Melania Trump And The 'Daily Mail' Settle Libel Lawsuits, Laurel Wamsley, April 12, 2017. The Daily Mail has agreed to pay damages and issue an apology to first lady Melania Trump to settle defamation claims over the British tabloid's insinuations that she "provided services beyond simply modelling." The basis for the lawsuits in the U.S. and the U.K. was the Mail's report about Melania's time as a model, published online and in a two-page article last summer under the headline, "Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife's past that could derail Trump."
The Associated Press reports that the total for the U.S. and U.K. lawsuits is $2.9 million. That's far less than the $150 million in damages that she sought. In a lawsuit filed in February, her lawyers argued that the unfounded allegations the Mail published had hurt the prospects of the Melania Trump brand significantly, and at a crucial time.
"Plaintiff had the the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model and brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world. These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance."
Health Problem At Mar-a-Lago?
GossipExtra, Mar-A-Lago Food Disaster: Donald Trump’s Overpriced Club Cited By State For Bad Sushi, Broken Down Coolers! Jose Lambiet, April 12, 2017. Just days before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump‘s private club in Palm Beach, Florida restaurant inspectors found potentially dangerous raw fish and cited the club for storing food in two broken down coolers. Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club’s kitchen, according to recently published documents, a record for an institution that charges $200,000 in initiation fees. April 11
Washington Post, FBI obtained secret warrant last summer to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page, Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous, April 11, 2017. The court order, issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, allowed agents to monitor Page’s communications, officials said. The order is the first indication that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
Washington Post, Spicer apologizes after receiving sharp criticism for saying Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons, Jenna Johnson and Ashley Parker, April 11, 2017. This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor. The White House press secretary had criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, saying that even Adolf Hitler — who used gas chambers to kill millions of Jews — did not sink to that level of warfare and “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.”
Legal Schnauzer, Report on "Luv Guv" Bentley might be "salacious," but plea deal that apparently did not require withheld documents to be produced is a bad deal for Alabama, Roger Shuler, April 11, 2017. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (shown in an official photo) negotiated a plea deal yesterday that required him to resign, while dropping four possible felony counts to two misdemeanors. That's a bad deal for Alabama, but it's even worse when you consider one member of the House Judiciary Committee, Chris England, has declared his work is done.
That means the hundreds (maybe thousands) of documents the Bentley administration withheld from investigators -- plus numerous sworn interviews that were not granted -- likely will not see the light of day. If that happens, the public will never know the full extent of misconduct, even criminality, that apparently permeated the Bentley Administration.
Legislative and law-enforcement types, by signing off on the plea deal, are sending this message to future miscreants in public office: "If you think you are in trouble, go ahead and cover up and stonewall -- and you likely will get away with it." The House Special Counsel made it clear in his report that Bentley, his staff, and his associates failed to cooperate with the investigation in any meaningful way. Now, Bentley is being rewarded for his intransigence -- and his lack of respect for the legislature's oversight duties.
OpEdNews, United Airlines Is A Metaphoric Symptom, Rob Kall (shown in a file photo), April 11, 2017. United Airlines overbooked and asked people to accept travel voucher money to take a later flight. Actually, they were not even over-booked. They had four United employees they wanted on the plane, so they tried to offer money to get people to get off. This was not even a legitimate overbooking. When the people who had already boarded the plane refused the $400, $800 or $1200 vouchers good for future travel for a limited time, partly because the next flight was not available until the following afternoon, the United staff called Chicago's airport police and then it got ugly.
The landscape of the USA is filled with similar situations, where corporations use the police to assault and abuse innocent citizens, or assault and inappropriately abuse suspect citizens. United Airlines CEO will probably not last the month. He's made some very bad statements. Add that to the fact that he's recently had a heart transplant and it is likely that he'll soon resign. I'd bet it happens before the end of the month. United Airlines stock, at the time of this writing is expected to drop by five to six percent-- which will mean at least a billion dollar drop in company value. Bottom line, United could have chartered a flight for its employees for ten or twenty thousand dollars.
Politico, How Alabama’s ‘Luv Guv’ Broke New Ground in a Scandal-Plagued State, Eric Velasco, April 10, 2017. Naughty texts and burner phones shamed Republican Governor Robert Bentley. A vindictive coverup helped bring him down. Even after a year of titillating revelations, the release on Friday afternoon of the special investigator’s report on the affair between the 74-year-old governor and his much younger and still-married aide still had the capacity to amaze the most seasoned Alabamian political observers.
The bar was high after a tape came out last March of Robert Bentley, the one-time Sunday school teacher and dermatologist, on which the governor was heard awkwardly cooing into the phone to Rebekah Mason (shown in a file photo), his then 40-something senior political adviser:
“When I stand behind you and I put my arms around you and I put my hands on your breasts and I put my hands on you and pull you in real close, hey, I love that too.” That recording, made surreptitiously in 2014 by Bentley’s suspicious wife, was enough to give the unremarkable second-term Republican a burst of national notoriety as the “Luv Guv.” No small feat in the middle of a presidential campaign featuring Donald Trump.
Associated Press via Politico, Alabama governor resigns, pleads guilty to misdemeanors, Staff report, April 10, 2017. Gov. Robert Bentley resigned Monday rather than face impeachment and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor campaign violations that arose during an investigation of his alleged affair with a top aide. In a remarkable fall, the mild-mannered 74-year-old Republican and one-time Baptist deacon stepped down as the sex-tinged scandal gathered force over the past few days. Legislators turned up the pressure by opening impeachment hearings Monday. Last week, the Alabama Ethics Commission cited evidence that Bentley broke state ethics and campaign laws and referred the matter to prosecutors.
"There've been times that I let you and our people down, and I'm sorry for that," Bentley said in the old House chamber of Alabama's Capitol after he pleaded guilty. The violations were discovered during the investigation of his affair but were not directly related to it.
In court, Bentley appeared sullen and looked down at the floor. One misdemeanor charge against Bentley stemmed from a $50,000 loan he made to his campaign in November that investigators said he failed to report until January. State law says major contributions should be reported within a few days. The other charge stemmed from his use of campaign funds to pay nearly $9,000 in legal bills for Mason last year.
New York Times, Alabama Governor Quits in Sex Scandal That Rocked State, Alan Blinder, April 10, 2017. Gov. Robert Bentley resigned Monday, his power and popularity diminished by a sex scandal that staggered the state, brought him to the brink of impeachment and prompted a series of criminal investigations. Ellen Brooks, a special prosecutor, said Mr. Bentley had quit in connection with a plea agreement on two misdemeanor charges: failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use.
It was a stunning downfall for the governor, a Republican who acknowledged in March 2016 that he had made sexually charged remarks to his senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Mr. Bentley, 74, repeatedly denied having a physical relationship with Ms. Mason and long insisted that he had not broken any laws, but he was a subject of multiple investigations, including reviews by the F.B.I. and the Alabama attorney general’s office.
(Bentley is shown at left. Mason is center. The WKRG-TV photo collage shows at right Alabama's former top law enforcer Spencer Collier, whom Bentley fired in a cover-up attempt. Blogger Roger Shuler, writing for the Legal Schnauzer, broke the story based on tips and a tape recording, and persisted despite many attacks he has endured stemming from his reporting.)
Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey succeeds Mr. Bentley; she is a former state treasurer who will be the second woman to hold the office. She is graduate of Auburn University who was a high school teacher and a bank officer before going to work for the Legislature.
Around the Nation: Media
WDIV-TV (Detroit), Detroit foreign correspondent honored in Arab American National Museum, Meaghan St. Pierre, April 10, 2017. Family honors loved one's career, memorialized in Dearborn museum. Seeing personal items of their loved one inside a display case is a bittersweet honor for the family of Serena Shim, the former correspondent who grew up in Metro Detroit. Her mother and sisters donated her passport, press identification and IPad to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI. Her family says her reporting the truth about terrorists earned her many dangerous enemies. Shim was killed in a fiery crash Oct. 19, 2014. Police reports dubbed the crash an accident. But Serena Shim's family wants more investigation.
Inside the White House
Politico, Why the Trump administration has so many vacancies, Nancy Cook, Josh Dawsey and Andrew Restuccia, April 10, 2017. The process is bogged down by the involvement of top White House officials, turf wars and an inexperienced and overworked staff. President Donald Trump is said to personally oversee the hiring process for agency staff by combing through a binder full of names each week and signing off on each one.
Hundreds of key jobs across the federal government remain vacant as a result of an overworked White House personnel office that is frustrating Cabinet secretaries and hampering President Donald Trump’s ability to carry out his ambitious legislative agenda. The process is bogged down as a result of micromanaging by the president and senior staff, turf wars between the West Wing and Cabinet secretaries and a largely inexperienced and overworked staff, say more than a dozen sources including administration insiders, lobbyists, lawyers and Republican strategists.
Trump personally oversees the hiring process for agency staff by insisting on combing through a binder full of names each week and likes to sign off on each one, according to two people with knowledge of the administration’s hiring process. The only uniformity is that potential hires must show fealty to the president. One person close to the White House said a sense of “paranoia” has taken over amid fears that disloyal hires might undercut Trump’s agenda or leak to the press.
The top-heavy decision-making has put the Trump White House behind other West Wings in filling out the ranks of the federal government. Of the 553 key appointments that require Senate approval, the White House has formally nominated 24 people and 22 have been confirmed, according to data from the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service — to say nothing of the thousands of slots that don't require confirmation.
Washington Post, Post reporter David Fahrenthold wins Pulitzer Prize for stories about Trump’s charitable giving, Paul Farhi, April 10, 2017. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold remembers being struck by Donald Trump’s pledge to donate $6 million, including $1 million of his personal funds, to veteran groups during a televised fundraiser before the Iowa caucuses early last year. Did Trump follow through, he wondered?
So, weeks after the event, Fahrenthold (shown in a Twitter photo from a talk April 8 at the National Press Club) started asking questions.
For several months, he found, the answer was no, despite assurances to the contrary from Trump’s campaign. When Trump finally made the donation in late May the reporter set off on a broader inquiry. In a detailed series of articles, he found that many of Trump’s philanthropic claims over the years had been exaggerated, and often weren’t truly charitable activities at all.
On Monday, Fahrenthold’s investigative digging was rewarded with the Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s most prestigious award. His work documenting the future president’s charitable practices won the award for national reporting. Fahrenthold’s Pulitzer-winning package of stories also included his article disclosing that Trump had made crude comments and bragged about groping women during an unaired portion of an interview on “Access Hollywood” in 2005.
New York Times, Pulitzer Prizes: New York Times Wins 3; Daily News and ProPublica Share Public Service Award, Sydney Ember, April 10, 2017. The New York Times won three Pulitzer Prizes, and The New York Daily News and ProPublica shared the Pulitzer Prize for public service, as journalism presented its highest honors on Monday at a time of financial challenges for the industry and unabashed antagonism toward the news media from a new administration. The Daily News-ProPublica won for a series on the New York Police Department’s widespread abuse of a decades-old law to force people from their homes and businesses over alleged illegal activity.
Modern Air Travel
Huffington Post, Man Violently Dragged Off Plane After United Airlines Overbooks Flight, Nina Golgowski, April 9, 2017. The airline said the plane wouldn’t take off until four people volunteered, according to one witness. Several disturbing videos posted to social media Sunday show a man being violently dragged off a United Airlines plane out of Chicago after the company overbooked the flight. Video posted to social media shows the man screaming as security personnel pry him out of his chair, causing his head to bash against an armrest. He’s then dragged down the aisle on his back as horrified witnesses film on their phones and scream out in disgust.
Washington Post, Trump officials demand Russia drop its support for Syria’s Assad, Carol Morello, April 9, 2017. Signaling the focus of talks Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have in Moscow later this week, officials said Russia, in propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, bears at least partial responsibility for Wednesday’s chemical attack and would face further deterioration in its relations with the United States if it continues to support him.
Global Research, When America’s “Progressives” Pay Lip Service to Imperialism, The Anti-War Movement is Dead, Michel Chossudovsky, April 9, 2017. Segments of the anti-war movement that opposed the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq are tacitly supportive of Trump’s punitive airstrikes directed against the “Assad regime” allegedly involved in “killing their own people,” gassing them to death in a premeditated chemical weapons attack. While there is no evidence that president Al-Assad ordered the chemical weapons attack, there is ample evidence – including a comprehensive UN report – that the opposition “rebels” (supported by US-NATO) have since 2012 stockpiled and used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians as well as SAA soldiers.
Inside the White House
Washington Post, How Bannon’s media machine turned anti-Clinton sentiment into a fortune, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., April 9, 2017. A Washington Post examination found that over the past decade, White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon (shown in file photo) was able to produce a steady stream of political documentary films — and substantial income for himself — through an interlocking web of two dozen nonprofit organizations and private companies.
Washington Post, Palm Sunday bombs rock Egyptian churches; state of emergency is declared, Heba Mahfouz, Sudarsan Raghavan, April 9, 2017. Coptic Christians suffered the worst set of attacks in decades, with more than 40 killed.
Bloomberg, McFarland to Exit White House as McMaster Consolidates Power, Jennifer Jacobs, April 9, 2017. Trump’s second national security advisor shaking things up K. T. McFarland (shown in photo) has been asked to step down as deputy National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump after less than three months and is expected to be nominated as ambassador to Singapore, according to a person familiar with White House personnel moves.
The departure of the 65-year-old former Fox News commentator comes as Trump’s second National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, puts his own stamp on the National Security Council after taking over in February from retired General Michael Flynn. McFarland proved not to be a good fit at the NSC, the person said, adding that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was involved in the decision as well.
National Press Club, Marvin Kalb on Current Challenges to the Freedom of the Press, April 1, 2017 (Video 29 mins.). On Thursday evening, March 30, 2017, legendary journalist Marvin Kalb delivered a commentary on the threats to our democracy being posed by the Trump administration. Mr. Kalb was introduced by National Press Club Board of Governors member Michael Freedman.
U.S. Attack On Syria
Consortium News, Luring Trump Into Mideast Wars, Daniel Lazare, April 8, 2017. Donald Trump entered military terra incognita on Thursday by launching an illegal Tomahawk missile strike on an air base in eastern Syria. Beyond the clear violation of international law, the practical results are likely to be disastrous, drawing the U.S. deeper into the Syrian quagmire.
But it would be a mistake to focus all the criticism on Trump. Not only are Democrats also at fault, but a good argument could be made that they bear even greater responsibility. For years, near-total unanimity has reigned on Capitol Hill concerning America’s latest villains du jour, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Congressmen, senators, think-tank strategists, and op-ed analysts all have agreed that Putin and Assad are the prime enemies of “peace,” by which is meant global American hegemony, and that therefore the U.S. must stop at nothing to weaken or neutralize them or force them to exit the world stage. Until recently, in fact, just about the only politically significant dissenter was Trump.
WhoWhatWhy, Rush to Judgment in Syria? WMDs Once Again the Basis for US Military Intervention, Staff report, April 8, 2017. President Trump launched cruise missiles that destroyed a Syrian airfield and planes, drawing the ire of both the Assad government and Russia. The attack was in retaliation for a sarin gas attack allegedly carried out by the Assad regime. But where is the official investigation and presentation of evidence?
Much of the available evidence points toward the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the perpetrator. Yet — all the more so after the swift and unexpected US military escalation which Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said had come “one step away from military clashes with Russia” (and amid fears that more could be on the table) — the duty of journalists is to look for the facts behind official narratives. That’s a major headache in Syria: especially in a town controlled by an assortment of rebels with varying degrees of linkage to al-Qaeda, where few Western journalists can even dream of setting foot.
Washington Post, White House struggles to explain how attack on Syria fits into broader policy, David Nakamura, April 8, 2017. The Trump administration has sought to cast the mission as a major success by putting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on notice that he can no longer use chemical weapons without consequences. But Saturday brought fresh reminders that a single U.S. attack would hardly dissuade Assad from his campaign to crush a six-year rebellion that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
President Trump on Saturday praised the U.S. military for carrying out the missile attack on a Syrian airfield and struck back at mounting questions over whether it would help achieve a momentum shift in Syria’s bloody civil war. In an afternoon tweet, Trump defended the operation against criticism from some members of Congress and military analysts that the nighttime volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles two days earlier did not target the runways at the Shayrat air base in eastern Syria.
Washington Post, The media loved Trump’s show of military might. Margaret Sullivan, April 8, 2017. Are we really doing this again?
New York Times, Moscow Finds New Solidarity With Damascus, Neil MacFarquhar, April 8, 2017. The relationship between Russia and Syria is likely to cause problems for President Vladimir V. Putin in the long run, political analysts say. If Russia once maintained at least a semblance of distance from President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, it rushed to his defense after the American missile strike ordered by President Trump on Thursday.
The attack cemented Moscow more closely than ever to the notorious Syrian autocrat. Even as the United States condemned Mr. Assad for gassing his own citizens and held Russia partly responsible, given its 2013 promise to rid Syria of chemical weapons, the Kremlin kept denying that Syria had any such capability.
The Indicter, Statement by Swedish Doctors for Human Rights on misrepresentations referred in Veterans Today, Marcello Ferrada de Noli (shown in file photo) and Anders Romelsjö, April 8, 2017. The site Veterans Today published an article with the title “Swedish Medical Associations Says White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos.” This formulation is utterly inaccurate and do not represent our true position on the issue. Swedish Doctors for Human Rights is NOT a “Swedish medical association.” Swedish Doctors for Human Rights has never accused the White Helmets of “murdering children.”
Conservative Radio Host Turns On Trump
Zero Hedge, Michael Savage Turns on Trump, Says Syrian Gas Attack Was False Flag Operation, The Real Fly, April 8, 2017. Conservative talk show host Michael Savage, who fervently supported Trump during the Presidential campaign, soured on him today. Savage, referencing his background in science, having a Ph.D. in epidemiology, said the alleged gas attack in the ISIS controlled city of Idlib was most likely phosgene and not sarin.
Around the Nation: Alabama
Washington Post, The salacious saga of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is about to get really serious, Amber Phillips, April 8, 2017. Alabama’s once squeaky clean governor has been reeling from trouble related to an alleged affair with a former aide. Now, he could lose his job, go to jail — or both. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to consider his impeachment Monday, based in part on a 3,000-page report the committee's lawyer released Friday that included such scandalous details as "security personnel reported seeing [top aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason] leaving the office with her hair tousled and her clothing in disarray," text messages between the two, allegations the governor threatened to fire or even arrest his wife's staffers for talking about the affair.
The full state House could vote on impeachment in another week. Impeachment isn't the only battle Bentley is facing in the affair fall out. On Wednesday, a state ethics commission found probable cause that the governor broke laws with regard to the alleged affair, like allegedly using campaign funds to cover her legal fees. The Alabama Ethics Commission suggested four potential felony charges against Bentley for the Montgomery County district attorney to consider.
For background, see one of the many columns by the reporter who broke the story: Legal Schnauzer, More sex tapes might surface of Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason — and these reportedly are much more graphic than the first batch, Roger Shuler, May 2, 2016. More sex tapes exist of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason — on top of those already made public, which had Bentley talking about caressing Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions. (She and the governor and her are shown in a WKRG-TV photo collage, along with Alabama's former top law enforce Spencer Collier, shown at far right and fired by Bentley as part of a cover-up.)
Fake Labor Statistics?
OpEdNews, More Fake News From Washington. This time it is about employment, Paul Craig Roberts, April 8, 2017. The US government is incapable of telling the truth about something as straightforward as employment. According to the government, March produced only 98,000 new payroll jobs, an insufficient amount to reduce unemployment, but the unemployment rate fell from 4.7 to 4.5 percent. How did that happen? The unemployment rate fell because the government did not count as unemployed large numbers of unemployed people who did not look for a job during the four week period prior to the survey. The US has a low unemployment rate, because the government does not count the unemployed.
Syrian War News, Commentary
The Atlantic, Trump's Syria Strike Was Unconstitutional and Unwise, Conor Friedersdorf, April 7, 2017. The military intervention solved nothing, while bypassing Congress, betraying the president’s non-interventionist supporters, and highlighting his hypocrisy.
Vox, “Democrats are acting like a bunch of cowards”: Trump’s Syria strike opens a rift on the left, Jeff Stein, April 7, 2017. Progressive activists say they’re dismayed that senior congressional Democrats aren’t more strongly condemning President Donald Trump’s strikes against Syria on Thursday night. Some Democrats in Congress dinged Trump on the process — not seeking congressional approval — but largely supported the action itself. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called punishing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad “the right thing to do,” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) labeled the strikes a “proportional response.” Pelosi has also called for the House to end its recess and reconvene to discuss the attacks.
The Hill, Dan Rather hits journalists who called Trump 'presidential' after Syria missile strike, Brooke Seipel, April 7, 2017. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather spoke out about President Trump's missile strike in Syria on Friday, critical of media figures who were quick to say that the strike was a presidential move. "The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as 'presidential' is concerning," Rather (shown in a file photo) said in a Facebook post.
"War must never be considered a public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to gain a narrative," Rather continued. "It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the first strike." Rather's post came after several media figures, including CNN host Fareed Zakaria said Trump’s missile strike in Syria shows him displaying the same qualities as America’s past leaders.
The Atlantic, Seven Lessons From Trump's Syria Strike, David Frum, April 7, 2017. When the Electoral College elevated Donald Trump to the presidency, it conferred on him the awesome life-and-death powers that attend the office. It was inevitable that President Trump would use those powers sooner or later. Now he has. For the effects on the region, I refer you to the powerful piece by the Atlantic’s Andrew Exum. I’m concerned here with the effects on the U.S. political system. Seven seem most immediately relevant.
Washington Post, Moscow says U.S. ties 'hurt' by Syria strike, David Filipov, April 7, 2017. Russia on Friday condemned the U.S. missile strike against Syrian government forces as an attack against its ally, and said it was pulling out of an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between U.S. and Russian aircraft operating over Syria.
Even as Russian officials expressed hope that the U.S. strike against Bashad al-Assad would not lead to an irreversible breakdown in relations with Moscow, the Kremlin’s decision to suspend the 2015 memorandum of understanding on the air operations immediately raised tensions in the skies over Syria. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the risk of confrontation between aerial assets of the U.S.-led coalition and Russia has “significantly increased” after President Trump ordered the launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian military air base in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians. The now-scrapped pact traded information about flights by a U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State and Russian planes operating in Syria backing the Assad government.
The Russian spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, further claimed that the Syrian government had no chemical weapons, and dismissed the Trump administration’s explanation as an excuse to enter the conflict.
Washington Post, Russia accuses U.S. of using ‘far-fetched pretext,’ pulls out of air-safety pact in Syria, Greg Jaffe, April 7, 2017. The main question after strikes on Syria: How does Russia respond? For President Trump, choosing targets and launching cruise missiles to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons this week may have been a relatively clear-cut decision. The big problem is what comes next.
The military had been preparing options for a strike against President Bashar al-Assad since well before 2013, when the Syrian dictator killed more than 1,000 of his own people in a devastating nerve gas attack. A chemical attack Tuesday blamed on the Assad regime killed scores of civilians and triggered a response from the Pentagon, which launched approximately 50 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late on Thursday. The biggest difference between 2013, when President Barack Obama last threatened airstrikes against Assad, and today is that the risks of widening the conflict are much greater.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called for an immediate meeting of the U.N. Security Council after President Vladimir Putin (shown in a file photo) declared the U.S. attack a violation of international law.
Liberty Report via YouTube, Ron Paul on #Syria gas attack, Interview with Daniel Bryant, April 7, 2017 (12:42 min. video). The Republican former Texas congressman and president candidate said in an interview with Daniel Bryant: 'It doesn't make sense....Zero chance he [Assad] would have done this."
Future of Freedom Foundation, Trump’s New War for America, Jacob G. Hornberger, April 7, 2017. With President Trump’s undeclared attack on Syria, a sovereign and independent nation, he has confirmed, once and for all, that he is just another foreign interventionist, no different from his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. It’s important to point out that Trump’s decision to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air force base was carried out without a congressional declaration of war.
No congressional declaration of war against Syria is important for two reasons: One, it’s the law — the higher law that we the people have imposed on federal officials, including the president, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When these people enact laws against us, such as drug laws, they expect us to obey them even if we disagree with their legitimacy. By the same token, we expect them to obey the laws that we impose on them, as represented by the Constitution. Two, going to Congress to seek a declaration of war against Syria would require Trump and his national-security state people to provide evidence and justification for going to war against Syria.
SouthFront, Russian Defense Ministry: Only 23 Out Of 59 Tomahawk Missiles Reached Their Target In Syria: Russian Claim, Staff report, April 7, 2017. Only 23 out of 59 Tomahawk missiles launched by the US Navy reached their target and hit the ash Shayrat military airfield near the Syrian city of Homs, the Russian Defense Ministry has claimed. The locations of the remaining 36 missiles’ impact is now unknown. According to the statement, the US missiles destroyed a training facility, a material storage depot, a canteen, six MiG-23 aircraft in repair hangars and a radar station. Meanwhile, the airbase’s runway, taxiways and aircraft on the parking apron remained undamaged.
The Intercept, The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria, Glenn Greenwald, April 7, 2017.
In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.
Once the tidal wave of American war frenzy is unleashed, questioning the casus belli is impermissible. Wanting conclusive evidence before bombing commences is vilified as sympathy with and support for the foreign villain (the same way that asking for evidence of claims against Russia instantly converts one into a “Kremlin agent” or “stooge”).
For now, here are ten critical points highlighted by all of this:
1. New wars will always strengthen Trump: as they do for every leader.
2. Democrats’ jingoistic rhetoric has left them no ability – or desire – to oppose Trump’s wars.
3. In wartime, US television instantly converts into state media. The instant elevation of Trump into a serious and respected war leader was palpable. Already, the New York Times is gushing that “in launching a military strike just 77 days into his administration, President Trump has the opportunity, but hardly a guarantee, to change the perception of disarray in his administration.”
Roll Call, Sens. Corker, Cardin: Trump Has No Long-Term Syria Plan, John T. Bennett, April 7, 2017. The White House has no long-term plans to deal with the situation in Syria beyond the air strike President Donald Trump ordered Thursday evening, according to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Republican Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee is shown in a file photo.)
New York Times, Trump Warns Bannon and Kushner to ‘Work This Out,’ Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman, April 7, 2017. President Trump is considering a shift in roles for his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who has become isolated as other White House power centers have grown. As he grappled on Thursday with his first major decision involving military action, a fed-up and frustrated President Trump turned to his two top aides and told them he had had enough of their incessant knife-fights in the media.
“Work this out,” Mr. Trump said, according to two people briefed on the exchange. The admonition was aimed at Stephen K. Bannon, the tempestuous chief strategist, and Reince Priebus, the mild-mannered chief of staff, over a series of dust-ups with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and the top economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn. But they may not be able to.
Mic, Here are 45 times Trump said attacking Syria was a bad idea and might start World War III, Tom McKay, April 7, 2017. President Donald Trump's administration ordered a missile attack on the Syrian government's al-Shayrat airbase near Homs on Thursday evening. But Trump has repeatedly spoken out against attacking the Syrian government, suggesting U.S. involvement in the conflict could make a bad problem worse and possibly lead to a global war.
Senate Approves Gorsuch 54-45
Roll Call, Tense Senate Confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court, Todd Ruger, April 7, 2017. The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court justice on Friday on a mostly party-line vote, 54-45. Democrats Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana joined all Republicans present in voting to confirm. Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia did not vote.
Washington Post, Immediate impact: Gorsuch could begin playing pivotal role on court starting next week, Robert Barnes, April 7, 2017. The new justice is likely to consider how voting rights should be protected and to weigh in on whether to expand the breadth of the Second Amendment. He may even cast the deciding vote in a major case on the separation of church and state.
Trump Launches Missile Attack On Syria, Using WMD Claim As Pretext
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Neocons now ascendant in Trump administration, Wayne Madsen (author, and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, shown in a file photo), April 6, 2017. (Subscription required.) On Feb. 15, 2017, WMR warned that there was a civil war within the Trump administration between alt-right players surrounding presidential strategic adviser Stephen K. Bannon and neo-conservatives in Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner's circle.
With the removal of Bannon as a principle member of the National Security Council, the neocons have won the civil war. Henceforth, the United States and the world can expect a Trump administration foreign policy that differs little from that of George W. Bush.
Washington Post, U.S. launches missiles at Syrian military airfield, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Officials said the action ordered by President Trump is designed to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and damage the Syrian air force, which [allegedly] carried out an attack Tuesday that killed dozens of civilians, including children, in northwestern Syria.
The U.S. military launched approximately 50 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late on Thursday, in the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began six years ago. The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.
The missiles were launched from two Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. They targeted an airbase called Shayrat in Homs province, which is the site from which the planes that conducted the chemical attack in Idlib are believed to have originated.
In comparison, the start of the Iraq war in 2003 saw the use of roughly 500 cruise missiles and 47 were fired at the opening of the anti-Islamic State campaign in Syria in 2014.
The attack may put hundreds of American troops now stationed in Syria in greater danger. They are advising local forces in advance of a major assault on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. The decision to strike follows 48 hours of intense deliberations by U.S. officials, and represents a significant break with the previous administration’s reluctance to wade militarily into the Syrian civil war and shift any focus from the campaign against the Islamic State.
It is unclear if the U.S. provided any warning to Russia about the attack on Assad’s military facilities. The attack appears to have involved only missiles. U.S. fighter planes, if used, would have had to contend with a modest web of Syrian air defenses and potentially more advanced types of surface-to-air missiles provided by Russia.
MSNBC, Brian Williams on Beautiful Pictures of Fearsome Armaments, April 6, 2017.
CNN, Wolf Blitzer Presses Democratic Rep. Who Met With Assad: ‘Who Do You Blame for Those Deaths?' April 6, 2017 (10:04 min.). Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): Trump's military strikes are 'reckless.'
Washington Post, Trump weighing military options following chemical weapons attack in Syria, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, April 6, 2017. U.S. officials said that the Pentagon is in the process of presenting options to the White House about potential military action against Syria in the wake of the attack that left scores dead. The options include strikes on Syrian military targets and actions designed to ground the Syrian air force.
Russian S-300 and S-400 missiles, located primarily around Hmeymim airbase in eastern Syria, have a shorter range than the S-200, but have more advanced radar systems and fly considerably faster than their older counterparts used by Syrian forces. The S-300 has range of roughly 90 miles and could also be used to target incoming U.S. cruise missiles.
Common Dreams, Use Latest Tragedy in Syria to End the War, Not Escalate It, Medea Benjamin, April 6, 2016. Four years ago, massive citizen opposition and mobilization stopped a possible U.S. military attack on the Assad government of Syria that many predicted would have made the terrible conflict even worse.
Once again, we need to stop an escalation of that dreadful war and instead use this tragedy as an impetus for a negotiated settlement. In 2013 President Obama’s threat of intervention came in response to the horrible chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria that killed between 280 and 1,000 people. Instead, the Russian government brokered a deal with the Assad regime for the international community to destroy its chemical arsenal on a U.S.-provided ship. Now, four years later, another large chemical cloud has killed at least 70 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, and President Trump is threatening military action against the Assad regime.
The U. S. military is already heavily involved in the Syrian quagmire. There are about 500 Special Operations forces, 200 Rangers and 200 Marines stationed there to advise various groups fighting the Syrian government and ISIS, and the Trump administration has been contemplating sending 1,000 more troops to fight ISIS. To bolster the Assad government, the Russian government has mobilized its largest military deployment outside its territory in decades.
RT, Putin rebukes Netanyahu over ‘groundless’ accusations on suspected chemical incident in Syria, Staff report, April 6, 2017. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone conversation that it was unacceptable to make “groundless” accusations concerning the alleged chemical weapons incident that took place in Syria earlier this week.
During the phone call initiated by the Israeli side on Thursday, Putin and Netanyahu (shown in a photo) stressed the importance of boosting international efforts to tackle terrorism, the Kremlin said in a statement. In particular, Putin “pointed out that it was unacceptable to make groundless accusations against anyone without conducting a detailed and unbiased investigation.” Following the reports of the alleged attack on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that “there’s no, none, no excuse whatsoever for the deliberate attacks on civilians and on children, especially, with cruel and outlawed chemical weapons.”
The Israeli PM also urged the “international community to fulfill its obligation from 2013 to fully and finally remove these horrible weapons from Syria.” Earlier on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that he was sure Syrian government forces were behind the “chemical weapons attack” in Idlib.
Consortium News, NYT Retreats on 2013 Syria-Sarin Claims, Robert Parry (shown in a file photo), April 6, 2017. Even as The New York Times leads the charge against the Syrian government for this week’s alleged chemical attack, it is quietly retreating on its earlier certainty about the 2013 Syria-sarin case. The New York Times, which has never heard an allegation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it hasn’t immediately believed, has compiled a list of his alleged atrocities with a surprising omission: the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus.
Why this omission is so surprising is that the sarin incident was the moment when the Western media and the Washington establishment piled on President Barack Obama for not enforcing his “red line” by launching military strikes against the Syrian government to retaliate for Assad “gassing his own people.” The retaliation, which would have pummeled the Syrian military, was hotly desired by neoconservatives and liberal interventionists who were obsessed with achieving another Mideast “regime change” even if that risked turning Syria over to Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. The story of Obama’s supposed “red line” retreat has become a treasured groupthink of all the “important people” in D.C.
Senate Filibuster On Justice
Washington Post, The Gorsuch filibuster is about far more than payback, E.J. Dionne Jr., April 6, 2017. Why are Democrats filibustering Judge Neil Gorsuch? Because they’ve had enough with the politics of power-grabbing and bullying. At the root of this fight is a long-term conservative effort to dominate the Supreme Court and turn it to the political objectives of the right.
This is thus about far more than retaliation, however understandable, for the Senate Republicans’ refusal to give even a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat Gorsuch (shown in photo) would fill. Behind the current judicial struggle lies a series of highly politicized Supreme Court rulings.
New York Times, How Senators Voted on the Gorsuch Filibuster and the Nuclear Option, Staff report, April 6, 2017. In a party-line vote, Republicans agreed Thursday to end the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees, passing the so-called nuclear option. The move came shortly after most Democrats filibustered the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch (shown in an official photo) to the Supreme Court. A final confirmation vote is now set for as early as Friday evening. See how every Senator voted on the filibuster and the nuclear option.
Roll Call, Why McConnell Vowed to Preserve Minority’s Big Remaining Power, David Hawkings, April 6, 2017. After going ‘nuclear’ for Gorsuch, legislative filibuster not endangered. Senators have a ready rationale to forswear scorched earth tactics now that Republicans have matched Democrats in exercising the “nuclear option” a single time. And for the rest of this Congress, they are actually on course to debate policy without further parliamentary warfare — because the power to create a 60-vote test for all bills and amendments will remain untouched.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (shown in photo) was vowing unilateral disarmament on the other half of the Senate’s agenda. So long as the Republicans are in charge and he’s in charge of the Republicans, he promised on Tuesday, there will be no change whatsoever to the legislative filibuster.
House Intelligence Chair Recuses During Probe
Washington Post, House Intelligence chair recuses himself from Russia probe amid ethics concerns, Karoun Demirjian, April 6, 2017. The House Ethics Committee said it would investigate allegations that Rep. Devin Nunes "may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information." Nunes, who said the charges were false and politically motivated, has come under fire for meeting with a secret source at White House grounds and viewing documents he said suggested that President Trump and his transition team members’ identities may have been improperly revealed in surveillance reports.
Nunes (shown in photo) said in his statement that he has requested to speak to the House Ethics Committee “at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.” In the meantime, Nunes said, Rep. Michael K. Conaway (R-Tex.) will take the lead on the Russia investigation, with assistance from Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.).
New York Times, Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms, Jo Becker and Matthew Rosenberg, April 6, 2017. When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all of his encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.
But Mr. Kushner (shown in a file photo) omitted any mention of dozens of contacts he has had with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and another with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, which was arranged at the behest of Mr. Kislyak.
Washington Post, Secret Service agent on Pence’s detail suspended after meeting with prostitute, Samantha Schmidt, April 6, 2017. A Secret Service agent on Vice President Pence’s detail has reportedly been suspended after meeting with a prostitute at a Maryland hotel.
Washington Post, Sexual coercion alleged at national security graduate school in Washington, Ian Shapira, April 6, 2017. A school for aspiring spies and diplomats faces allegations that one of its former administrators manipulated male employees into sexually abusive encounters, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
New York Times, Trump and Xi: How Long Will the Cordiality Last? Michael D. Shear and Mark Landler, April 6, 2017. After welcoming the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to Florida on Thursday, Mr. Trump is expected to press him aggressively on trade and North Korea. President Trump and Xi Jinping, the president of China, will take each other’s measure on Thursday as they meet for the first time to discuss trade tensions, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and other issues. The two men will spend about 24 hours together at Mr. Trump’s beachside Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, in what officials from both countries expect will be a public demonstration of respect as the adversaries seek to build a working relationship.
Around the Nation
Associated Press, Billionaire JB Pritzker to announce Illinois governor bid, Sara Burnett and Sophia Tareen, April 6, 2017. Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker was expected to announce his bid for Illinois governor on Thursday, raising the financial stakes in what was already expected to be a costly and competitive fight to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Several other Democrats also have said they'll seek their party's nomination in the March gubernatorial primary, including state Sen. Daniel Biss, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar and businessman Chris Kennedy, who is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. An heir to the Hyatt hotels fortune, Pritzker was recently ranked by Forbes magazine as the third-wealthiest person in Illinois, with an estimated net worth of about $3.4 billion.
Unz Review, This Fishy Smell of Sarin, or Was It Chlorine? Anatoly Karlin, April 5, 2017. There are so many problems with the propaganda campaign against Assad getting unrolled now.
(1) You can’t treat exposure to sarin with your bare hands without falling ill/dead yourself, as the White Helmets were apparently doing in the aftermath of the Idlib attack.
(2) As Syrian war reporter @Partisangirl noticed, some journalists were apparently discussing a chlorine sarin attack before it actually happened.
(3) It is eerily reminescent of the aftermath of the 2013 Gouta attacks, in which the Western media and neocon and neocon-in-all-but-name politicians and punditry parroted the official line that Assad’s troops were responsible even though consequent journalistic work by Seymour Hersh and MIT raised serious doubts over the veracity of that allegation.
(4) The “moderate rebels” have themselves resorted to poison gas on various occasions.
(5) Unlike in 2013, Assad is now winning. Why on Earth now, of all times, would he resort to poison gas – one of the few things he can do to that is capable of provoking a strong Western reaction – just to kill all of 75 civilians?
It just makes no sense. So one can’t help but treat Nikky Haley’s melodramatic performance at the UN with skepticism. The idea that the poisoning was due to a bomb hitting a chemical weapons manufactory seems more plausible. Trump’s initial non-interventionist rhetoric on assuming the Presidency was encouraging, as was his promotion of other anti-war figures such as Tulsi Gabbard. However, the latest response of the US administration, including Trump himself, is not giving any cause for optimism. To be sure, one might view this as a merely ritualistic expression of outrage, but also coming on as it does on the eve of Steve Bannon’s dismissal from the National Security Council… one can’t help but start having dark thoughts on whether the deep state might be triumphing after all.
Al Masdar News, Jumping to conclusions; something is not adding up in Idlib chemical weapons attack, Paul Antonopoulos, April 5, 2017. Jumping to conclusions; something is not adding up in Idlib chemical weapons attack. At least 58 people were killed in a horrific gas attack in the Idlib Governorate this morning. However, even before investigations could be conducted and for evidence to emerge, Federica Mogherini, the Italian politician High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, condemned the Syrian government stating that the “Assad regime bears responsibility for ‘awful’ Syria ‘chemical’ attack.”
The immediate accusation from a high ranking EU official serves a dangerous precedent where public outcry can be made even before the truth surrounding the tragedy can emerge.
Merely hours after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun, supposedly by the Syrian government, holes are beginning to emerge from opposition sources, discrediting the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets claims. For one, seen in the above picture, the White Helmets are handling the corpses of people without sufficient safety gear, most particularly with the masks mostly used , as well as no gloves. Although this may seem insignificant, understanding the nature of sarin gas that the opposition claim was used, only opens questions.
Within seconds of exposure to sarin, the affects of the gas begins to target the muscle and nervous system. There is an almost immediate release of the bowels and the bladder, and vomiting is induced. When sarin is used in a concentrated area, it has the likelihood of killing thousands of people. Yet, such a dangerous gas, and the White Helmets are treating bodies with little concern to their exposed skin. This has to raise questions.
It also raises the question why a “doctor” in a hospital full of victims of sarin gas has the time to tweet and make video calls. This will probably be dismissed and forgotten however.
It is known that about 250 people from Majdal and Khattab were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda terrorists last week. Local sources have claimed that many of those dead from the chemical weapons were those from Majdal and Khattab. This would suggest that on the eve of upcoming peace negotiations, terrorist forces have once again created a false flag scenario. This bears resemblance to the Ghouta chemical weapons attack in 2013 where the Syrian Army was accused of using the weapons of mass destruction on the day that United Nations Weapon’s Inspectors arrived in Damascus.
Later, in a separate chemical weapon usage allegation, Carla del Ponte, a UN weapons inspector said that there was no evidence that the government had committed the atrocity. This had, however, not stopped the calls for intervention against the Syrian government, a hope that the militant forces wished to eventuate from their use of chemical weapons against civilians in Khan-al-Assal.
Washington Post, Hinting at action, Trump says chemical attack in Syria ‘crossed a lot of lines for me, Anne Gearan, April 5, 2017. The president acknowledged that he now bears responsibility for a war his predecessor could not end, but he offered no specifics on what he could do differently.
South Front, White Helmets & SOHR Can’t Be Considered as Reliable Sources: Russian Foreign Ministry, Staff report, April 5, 2017. The Russian Foreign Ministry has explained why the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cannot be considered as reliable sources of information. The White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) cannot be considered as sources of data regarding the situation of the alleged usage of chemical weapons in Idlib, said the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova. Earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that the White Helmets were members of Al-Qaeda.
“All the falsified reports on this issue come only from the notorious White Helmets and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that has already become infamous." said Zakharova (shown in a file photo). "Neither the White Helmets, nor the SOHR can be trusted. They have repeatedly undermined trust by [making] fake footages and [reporting] information later denied by all parties,” she continued. “They have long ago completely discredited themselves. This is simply impossible to take any far-reaching decisions, which would be binding for implementation by the whole world, on the basis of reports of these organizations.”
She said the two organizations present conflicting reports on the incident: the White Helmets are constantly confused in the testimony, they constantly change the versions of what happened, they say about bombing either from a helicopter or from an airplane. They report about the usage of chlorine, then talk about sarin, change the data on the victims’ number. Video and photos, posted in social networks, allow seeing representatives of the White Helmets, who do not have reliable means of protection and act extremely unprofessionally, providing assistance to the victims.
White House National Security Mystery
Palmer Report, We’ve found a bunch of personal details about Trump’s White House ghost Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Bill Palmer, April 5, 2017. Earlier in the week we wrote about the astounding lack of information available regarding Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a key deputy on Donald Trump’s White House National Security Council team who was nearly fired, then not really fired, then allegedly gave classified intel to Congressman Devin Nunes, and still somehow has his job.
We couldn’t find a photo of him, and couldn’t find any real history for him. But thanks to Palmer Report’s in-house research team, and the efforts of our readers, and a couple of outside sleuths, we now have quite a picture of who he is. [Ezra Cohen-Watnick shown as a University of Pennsylvania student, with photo research by Laura Rozen.]
White House Power Plays
Palmer Report, Steve Bannon was talked out of resigning from White House by his Cambridge Analytica partner, Bill Palmer, April 5, 2017. Donald Trump has removed his close confidant Steve Bannon from the White House National Security Council, and Bannon is far from happy about it. The New York Times reported that Bannon (shown in a file photo) had threatened to resign over the move. And now Politico is reporting that Bannon only remained in his White House Chief Strategist role because Rebekah Mercer – his business partner at the mysterious firm Cambridge Analytica – talked him into staying.
In the days after Donald Trump was named the winner of the 2016 presidential election, article after article credited the victory to the voter data work conducted by Cambridge Analytica. It’s since come to light that Steve Bannon was the Executive Chairman of the company at the time he took over the Trump campaign, and that billionaire Rebekah Mercer and her family largely fund the company.
It’s been widely theorized (though not in any way substantiated) that Cambridge Analytica was using the data that Russian hackers stole from voter registration databases and allegedly fed to the Donald Trump campaign through the now-infamous Trump Tower email server. But whether this theory is true or not, what does seem more clear is that Bannon and Mercer had been putting their efforts into Cambridge Analytica prior to the 2016 election because they wanted to help someone of their liking get elected.
In any case, we now know that it was Steve Bannon’s former business associate in Cambridge Analytica who convinced him yesterday to hang on to the diminished White House role that he still has (source: Politico). Mercer’s reasoning, according to the source: “this is a long-term play.”
More On Alleged Trump Influence Peddlers
Felix Sater and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Photo adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Emilio Labrador, Flickr, Wikimedia and Boing Boing
WhoWhatWhy, More About Felix Sater — the Problematical Friend Trump Forgot, Russ Baker and C. Collins, April 5, 2017. WhoWhatWhy’s March 27 exclusive on Donald Trump, the FBI, Russia, and the mob focused on several key figures. One was Felix Sater, a Trump associate and prized FBI informant. We delved into his criminal past, his company, Bayrock, and its work with the Trump Organization.
Sater was even more intimately involved with Trump and his fortunes than we initially realized. According to a sworn 2008 deposition in a suit Trump filed against the author Timothy O’Brien, the developer gave Sater’s company, Bayrock, an exclusive on all development deals in Russia. Sater expanded on the point of how central their relationship was. “It’s highly unlikely I’ve had conversations prior to the end of 2005 with almost any developer where I didn’t use my ‘Trump card’ — my ‘Trump card’ was what is my value added, my competitive advantage.”
Inside The Trump White House
Politico, Bannon ousted from National Security Council, Shane Goldmacher and Louis Nelson, April 5, 2017. Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (shown in a file photo) has been removed from the National Security Council, according to a White House official and a Federal Register filing on Wednesday, undoing a move that had directed heavy criticism toward the administration of President Donald Trump.
Bannon, the controversial former head of the alt-right media outlet Breitbart News, was the chief executive of Trump’s presidential campaign. The White House initially defended his presence on the council based on his history as a naval officer, a shield that did little to protect the Trump administration from a bipartisan wave of complaints over a political official serving in a national security role.
Washington Post, Bannon’s removal from NSC reflects growing influence of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Robert Costa, Abby Phillip and Karen DeYoung, April 5, 2017. An Army three-star general who took over the post after Michael Flynn was ousted in February, McMaster is increasingly asserting himself over the flow of national security information in the White House. He has become a rising and blunt force who has made clear to several top officials and the president that he does not want the NSC to have any political elements.
Melania Trump in exquisite close-up. (Official White House photo by Régine Mahaux)
Washington Post, Melania Trump and the politics of airbrushing, Robin Givhan, April 5, 2017. The official portrait of first lady Melania Trump is jarring because her face appears to be heavily retouched, or perhaps just photographed through a lens smeared with Vaseline. It is devoid of fine lines and pores. It is not just the near-perfect face of a former model; it is a face that does not look real. The artificiality of her visage is even more acute when compared to the long, chestnut locks that frame it. You don’t have to squint to make out individual strands of hair. The hair is in sharp focus. Her face is not.
She is wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana jacket and a bedazzled kerchief. Her arms are folded across her torso. And it’s impossible to ignore that ring. But it’s the face that gives you pause because it is so unabashedly, unashamedly given over to a doll-like perfection in this image taken by celebrity and fashion photographer Régine Mahaux. In the culture of high fashion, intellectualism and feminism, that’s not necessarily considered good. But in some quarters, it’s glorious.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Riverside Memorial Church in New York City, April 4, 1967 (File photo)
Ratical, 50 Years Ago: Riverside Church and MLK’s Final Year of Experiments With Truth, David T. Ratcliffe, April 4, 2017. Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King gave a paramount speech addressing the moral bankruptcy of the Vietnam war and the untenable costs to society of rampant U.S. militarism. Entering the final year of his life, the “Beyond Vietnam” address at New York City’s Riverside Church, moved Dr. King into a profoundly deeper exploration of experiments with truth akin to those that defined Mohandas Gandhi’s life.
Knowing beforehand he was progressing further across a one-way boundary, Martin King proceeded to grow far, far beyond the romanticized and frozen-in-1963 persona of a civil rights icon. In “King and the Cross,” Jim Douglass points out how, “With that speech that drew a prophetic line between real peace and our national security state, King went beyond his own security net as a civil rights leader [and] became a national security threat.”
New York Times, When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam, David J. Garrow, April 4, 2017. David J. Garrow is the author of “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” and the forthcoming “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.” Fifty years ago today — and one year to the day before his assassination — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the most politically charged speech of his life at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan. It was a blistering attack on the government’s conduct of the Vietnam War that, among other things, compared American tactics to those of the Nazis during World War II.
The speech drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, including from this newspaper. Other civil rights leaders, who supported the war and sought to retain President Lyndon B. Johnson as a political ally, distanced themselves from Dr. King.
Dr. King’s Riverside Church address exemplified how, throughout his final 18 months of life, he repeatedly rejected the sunny optimism of his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and instead mourned how that dream had “turned into a nightmare.” But the speech also highlighted how for Dr. King, civil rights was never a discrete problem in American society, and that racism went hand in hand with the fellow evils of poverty and militarism that kept the country from living up to its ideals. Beyond signaling his growing radicalism, the Riverside speech reflected Dr. King’s increasing political courage — and shows why, half a century later, he remains a pivotal figure in American history.
New York Times, Obama Aide Denies Wrongdoing After Surveillance Reports, Peter Baker, April 4, 2017. Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser (and shown in an official photo), responded to reports that she sought to learn the identities of associates of President Trump caught up in surveillance of foreigners.
John Perkins Newsletter, Trump: Exposing the Shadow, John Perkins (shown in file photo), April 4, 2017. I published The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man last year, twelve years after the original, because things had gotten so much worse. The tools we "EHMs" used in developing countries – the corruption, the deceptions, the debt, the threats, the fear, and the false stories – had come back to haunt the US, Europe and the rest of the so-called developed world.
The “patina of oblique rhetoric” I wrote about a year ago has been ripped off. During the first months of the Trump administration, corruption, deceptions, debt, threats, fear, and false stories have become overt.
What is new is a president who makes no attempt to hide his immense personal commercial interests in businesses that are known to be hotbeds of corruption, such as casinos, and where US foreign policy is jeopardized, such as in dealings with Russia. What is new are the many politicians in our national and state capitols who openly advocate bigotry and policies that favor the rich at the expense of all the rest of us. What is new is the overt declaration that the US is an imperial power that needs to increase its already huge, offensive, and budget-breaking military presence around the world. What is new is the lack of even an attempt to sound as though our country wants to defend equality, fairness, and the democratic principles that most of us were raised to champion.
Perhaps the great gift of the Trump administration is that it has ripped off the patina. Those who claimed that US business and politics were essentially “transparent,” those who argued that the US was a true democracy and that our political system “might not be perfect, but it is the best in the world,” those who sneered at the under-the-table dealings in “banana republics” and held the US out as a shining example of how to do it right – all of those people, all of us, have been forced to look at the dark shadow that lurked beneath that patina.
Supreme Court Battle
Washington Post, Neil Gorsuch could help cement Republican majorities for a generation, James Hohmann, April 4, 2017. Once confirmed, the justice will be well-positioned to provide the decisive vote on a host of issues that might help the party keep a hold on power, or at least give it a leg up in future elections.
New York Times, The Supreme Court as Partisan Tool, Editorial Board, April 4, 2017. Even though the Supreme Court has been an active player in American politics — Bush v. Gore leaps quickly to mind — the process of choosing its members has been seen as mattering more than the partisan combat in Congress. With rare exceptions, nominees to the court have been largely insulated from the escalating political warfare over the judiciary, and have been approved.
Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative standard-bearer, was confirmed with 98 votes. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon, got 96. Even Clarence Thomas, whose confirmation hearings marked a flash point in sexual and racial politics, drew no filibuster. Now, however, partly as a result of its own actions, but more important as a result of increasing polarization in Washington and the nation as a whole, the court is devolving into a nakedly partisan tool.
New York Times, Debate in Gorsuch Battle: Use Filibuster Now or Later? Charlie Savage, April 4, 2017. Deploying the filibuster now to stall the appointment of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch might please an energized liberal base, but Democrats could lose a weapon that would be more potent in a future Supreme Court fight.
Politico, Gorsuch's writings borrow from other authors, John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett, April 4, 2017. The White House rejects any suggestion of impropriety. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to Politico.
The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.
White House Analysis & Intrigue
Washington Post, ‘It went off the rails almost immediately’: How Trump’s messy transition led to a chaotic presidency, Dan Balz, April 4, 2017. Trump ignored transition planners during the campaign, then did things his way after he won. The administration is still playing catch up.
The Trump team could not scale up quickly enough during the transition and, therefore, failed to maintain a full pipeline of appointees for the new administration. The Partnership for Public Service, in collaboration with The Washington Post, has been tracking 553 key administration positions that require Senate confirmation. To date, just 21 nominees have been confirmed, with 20 more formally nominated and an additional 25 awaiting nomination.
The pace of critical subcabinet appointments remains a serious problem, with many agencies sparsely populated at the top. An administration official said announcements generally have been held back until proper vetting can take place, which did not occur during the transition. The hope is that, once nominated, confirmations can be completed more quickly. Trump’s management preferences, honed in his business, also overrode the recommendation of some transition planners for a White House structured with clear lines of authority and a strong chief of staff.
Infowars, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is giving talking points to Joe Scarborough, which is a disservice to President Trump, Alex Jones interviews Trump friend, former advisor and biographer Roger Stone (shown above), April 4, 2017 (14:10 min.) Alex Jones (shown below in a file photo: "Roger Stone [author of The Making of the President 2016, published in February 2017] has bombshell developments."
Roger Stone: Yes, the president's son-in law, perhaps the one Trump aide who cannot be fired....Many of the anti-Steven Bannon stories you see, are being dictated by Mr. Kushner....I've said repeatedly that my major concern is not liberal Democrats but establishment Republicans who would undo the Trump revolution.....We now know that President Trump has gone to war with the Freedom Caucus, his natural allies. Here is the sad truth....Alex, please understand that anytime I criticize the president it's out of loyalty and a desire for him to succeed."
New York Daily News, St. Petersburg bombing suspect believed to be Russian national, Nicole Hensley and Terence Cullen, April 4, 2017. A 22-year-old Russian citizen has been identified as the suicide bomber in the St. Petersburg subway attack, authorities said. Akbarzhon Jalilov, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, is believed to have carried out the Monday bombing that killed 14 people in injured dozens more, according to Kyrgyz and Russian officials. Authorities said they found Jalilov’s body parts in the subway car that blew up during rush hour Monday morning. Jalilov was born in the former Soviet republic in 1995, officials said. Islamic extremists with ties to Syria were to blame, investigators told local media. Russia has waged a vicious series of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.
Washington Post, Scores killed in one of Syria’s deadliest chemical attacks in years, Louisa Loveluck, April 4, 2017. Activists said airstrikes in the northwest delivered an unidentified chemical agent that killed at least 58 people and filled clinics across the area with patients foaming at the mouth or struggling to breathe. President Trump called the attack "reprehensible" but blamed the Syrian regime’s “heinous actions” on the Obama administration’s "weakness and irresolution." Syria’s Foreign Ministry denied involvement in Tuesday’s attack, saying it was committed to its obligations under the international Chemical Weapons Convention. It joined in 2013, after launching sarin attacks on several Damascus neighborhoods — strikes that killed hundreds of civilians and pushed the United States to the brink of military intervention.
Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: This site has long reported, beginning in August-September 2013, that serious doubts exist in U.S. claims that Syria's government was responsible for the fatal gas attacks in August 2013 and that logical suspects for potential false flag attacks most logically include Turkey and its allies, including on-the-ground forces of non-Syrian jihadists. Examples: Did America's Top General Save Nation From Open-Ended War in Syria? Sept. 3, 2013; Obama's Puppet Strings Get Tangled On Syria: Analysis, Aug. 29, 2013; and Show Proof To the Public on Syria, Aug. 28, 2013.
Politico, Gorsuch's writings borrow from other authors, John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett, April 4, 2017. The White House rejects any suggestion of impropriety. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to Politico. The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.
Russian Influence Scandal
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, February 18, 2014. Photo credit: Kristyn Ulanda / JFK Jr. Forum / Defense Intelligence Agency
WhoWhatWhy, Why Michael Flynn Might be Seeking Immunity, Jeff Schechtman, April 3, 2017. Did Flynn’s Foreign Ties Violate an Obscure Federal Law? In the debate over whether Donald Trump’s team conspired with Russia prior to the election, the new president’s opponents often invoke the Logan Act, an obscure 18th century law designed to prevent citizens from freelancing in foreign policy. That talk has heated up last week in response to reports that former General Michael Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s National Security Adviser before resigning, is seeking immunity in exchange for his testimony.
University of Texas Law Professor Stephen Vladeck argues that Trump’s opponents are looking in the wrong place. He notes that the Logan Act, which has never been used to successfully prosecute a US citizen, has very little relevance today. Vladeck tells WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman that more relevant might be Flynn’s potential violation of another law, the Foreign Agent Registration Act — which was specially designed to force private persons to disclose payments they received from foreign powers to influence the US government. With the word “treason” thrown around by Trump’s opponents, Vladeck also addresses the question of whether any of the behavior we have seen — or that we are likely to find out about — rises to that level.
Washington Post, Top Democrat on intel panel accuses White House of trying to draw focus from Russia probe, Aaron Blake, April 2, 2017. Referring to the president’s unsupported claims of wiretapping, Rep. Adam Schiff (shown in photo) said, “It certainly is an attempt to distract and to hide the origin of the materials, to hide the White House hand.”
Palmer Report, FBI targets Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort for not registering as Russian foreign agent, Bill Palmer, April 1, 2017. Manafort could end up in race with Mike Flynn for the best immunity deal. Even as Michael Flynn is signaling that he’s willing to testify in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal in exchange for immunity from alleged crimes which include failing to register as a foreign agent, it turns out one of his fellow Donald Trump campaign figures is now being targeted for the same crime. McClatchy is reporting that the FBI is targeting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for his own failure to register as a foreign agent.
Supreme Court Fight
Roll Call, It's Official: Filibuster of Neil Gorsuch Starts Nuclear Option Clock, Niels Lesniewski, April 3, 2017. Enough Democrats announce opposition to limiting debate. Senate Republicans will have to use the “nuclear option” to get Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The procedural maneuvering that will likely culminate in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moving to change the chamber’s rules is necessary because 41 members of the Democratic caucus have announced opposition to limiting debate on the Gorsuch nomination. That means they would support a filibuster and the need for 60 votes to get Gorsuch through to confirmation.
Huffington Post, The Underrated Reason Republicans Will Regret The Nuclear Option, Christopher Kang (National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans), April 3, 2017. The Senate Rules provide a 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed, and it appears less and less likely that Neil Gorsuch will be able to meet that threshold. If he can’t, Senate Republicans will face a choice — and yes, it is their choice — as to whether they should unilaterally change the Senate Rules through the nuclear option, so that Supreme Court nominees can be confirmed with just a majority vote.
How will Senate Democrats respond to this historic power grab? If Democrats follow the Republican response in 2013, it will freeze the Senate for thousands of hours, preventing Republicans from advancing their agenda. In November 2013, Senate Democrats invoked the nuclear option to lower the confirmation threshold for lower court and executive branch nominees. In response, over the next 13 months, Republicans forced Democrats to file cloture on 154 nominees, and they forced 131 cloture votes. This was extraordinary. To put these numbers in perspective, from 1949, when cloture could first be invoked on nominations, until November 2013, cloture had been filed on only 148 nominees, with cloture votes on only 91 nominees. (And this includes cloture filed on 80 Obama nominees, with 40 votes, prior to November 2013).
One reason Republicans forced so many cloture votes — even though the overwhelming majority of the nominees were not controversial — is that each time cloture is invoked, the Senate Rules require that the Senate expend a set amount of post-cloture time, during which no other business can be conducted, unless every Senator agrees to yield back that time. So the Republican response used hundreds and hundreds of hours, and Democrats lost this precious Senate floor time in which they could not advance their agenda.
The Standing Rules of the Senate require 30 hours of post-cloture debate on a matter. In other words, if Senate Democrats simply responded to the nuclear option in the same way that Republicans did in 2013 — forcing cloture votes on 131 nominations — that would use nearly 4,000 hours of floor time.
Russian Meeting With Blackwater Founder, Trump Supporter
Washington Post, Blackwater founder held secret meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel, Adam Entous, Greg Miller, Kevin Sieff and Karen DeYoung, April 3, 2017. The United Arab Emirates arranged the meeting — nine days before the inauguration — between Blackwater founder Erik Prince (shown in a screenshot) and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin in an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. The White House said it was not aware of any meetings and Prince had no role in Trump's transition.
Trump Relatives, Advisors, Business Pressures
New York Times, At Kushners’ Flagship Building, Mounting Debt and a Foundered Deal, Charles V. Bagli, April 3, 2017. The Fifth Avenue skyscraper was supposed to be the Kushner Companies’ flagship in the heart of Manhattan — a record-setting $1.8 billion souvenir proclaiming that the New Jersey developers Charles Kushner and his son Jared (shown in a file photo) were playing in the big leagues. And while it has been a visible symbol of their status, it has also been a financial headache almost from the start. On Wednesday, the Kushners announced that talks had broken off with a Chinese financial conglomerate for a deal worth billions to redevelop the 41-story tower, at 666 Fifth Avenue, into a flashy 80-story ultra-luxury skyscraper comprising a chic retail mall, a hotel and high-priced condominiums.
The official announcement said the company remained “in active, advanced negotiations” with a number of investors, whom it declined to name. There is no question that the Kushner Companies — Jared has moved to Washington to serve as an adviser to his father-in-law, President Trump — needs to reach a deal soon, either to bring in a fresh infusion of cash or a well-heeled partner willing to foot the bill, if it wants to hold on to the building. Whomever it brings on as an investor would also have to buy out Vornado Realty Trust, the family’s partner in the tower.
Health Care Talks Revived
Washington Post, With help from Pence, House Republicans rekindle talks on stalled health-care plan, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner, April 3, 2017. Vice President Pence and other administration officials discussed health proposals with members of the hard-line Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group. Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows said officials offered a “solid idea” that could form the basis of an intra-party compromise.
Trump Approval Rating
New York Times, President Trump’s Record-Low Approval Rating Continues to Slide, Karen Yourish and Paul Murray, April 3, 2017. President Trump’s job approval, the lowest of any commander in chief since Gallup began tracking the initial months of a president’s term in 1953, has declined again — and not just among Democrats. According to Gallup’s most recent weekly survey, Mr. Trump’s support among Republicans, while still high, has dropped eight percentage points from late January.
Media: Fox News Scandals
New York Times, More Trouble at Fox News: Ailes Faces New Sexual Claims and O’Reilly Loses Two Advertisers, Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt, April 3, 2017. The sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Fox News last year and led to the ouster of its chairman, Roger Ailes, continued to batter the network on Monday, as a new lawsuit described unwanted sexual advances by Mr. Ailes and two major advertisers pulled their spots from the show of its top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly.
Media Matters, These Are Bill O’Reilly’s Advertisers, Staff report, April 4, 2017. Following the latest revelations and allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct involving Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, a growing list of advertisers are beginning to pull their ads from airing during The O’Reilly Factor time slot. These Are The Most Frequent Advertisers On The O’Reilly Factor From The Past Week. Jenny Craig, Hulu, Trivago, Terminix, Scottevest, Society for Human Resource Management
Washington Post, Fox serves up a fetid reminder that when you’re a star, you can still do anything, Michael Gerson, April 3, 2017. Reading the accumulated sexual harassment accusations against Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and former net work executive Roger Ailes is like a quick dip in a sewage treatment pond. After even a brief exposure, the stench stays with you for days. If the accusations of dozens of women over two decades are correct — and it is hard to dismiss the women, as the accused have done, as unbalanced, dishonest or disgruntled — then Fox News is the focus of hypocrisy in the modern world. While preaching traditional values, it has operated, according to former Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros, “like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.”
Trump Justice Department
New York Times, Accords to End Police Abuses Face Sweeping Re-examination, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eric Lichtlau, April 3, 2017. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (shown in an official photo) has ordered a review of federal agreements, including those that address abuses, with dozens of law enforcement agencies. The examination, which reflects President Trump’s emphasis on law and order and reducing violent crime, could lead to a further retreat on consent decrees nationwide.
EPA Head Grilled
Washington Post, The left and right agree: Fox News destroyed EPA chief Scott Pruitt over climate change, Amy B Wang, April 3, 2017. After a grilling on “Fox News Sunday,” the controversial head of the Environmental Protection Agency earned the rare distinction of being panned by both climate change advocates and skeptics alike.
Intercept, White House Meeting With Egypt’s Tyrant Highlights Key Trump Effect: Unmasking U.S. Policy, Glenn Greenwald, April 3, 2017. Paul Krugman: "Another morning in Trump's America" (citing a Politico column, Trump to welcome Egypt’s dictator). Krugman believes — or at least wants his Democratic followers to believe — that supporting and praising savage despotism in Egypt is a new development that only happens in “Trump’s America.”
The Washington Post’s neoconservative columnist Jackson Diehl this morning encouraged Post readers to believe in the same fairy tale, complaining in his column about the “ugly scene” of a “love-in” between Trump and “the most repressive dictator in Egypt’s modern history.” What neither Krugman nor Diehl ever once mentions — either because they’re unaware of it or want to conceal it from their readers — is that the U.S. has been supporting, funding, and arming the Sisi tyranny for years under the Obama administration.
Washington Post, A ruling on Trump’s word choice: Speech that incites violence is not protected, Aaron Blake, April 2, 2017. A federal judge in Kentucky ruled against efforts to throw out a lawsuit that accused Donald Trump of inciting violence against protesters during a campaign rally in March 2016. The protesters, who were shoved and punched by Trump supporters, said the Republican repeatedly said, “Get ’em the hell out.” The case is merely the latest example of Trump’s team arguing that his words shouldn’t be taken literally.
Making the Deals?
New York Times, China Finds the Way to Trump Is Through His Son-in-Law, Mark Landler, April 2, 2017. Jared Kushner is deeply involved in China relations, including preparations for a visit this week by President Xi Jinping. His role reflects the highly personal and bluntly transactional relationship between the United States and China, a risky strategy, experts say.
Washington Post, The left tries to make a stand in Ecuadoran election, expected to be close, Nick Miroff, April 2, 2017. Ecuador will elect a new president Sunday, in a vote closely watched across a region already simmering from street protests and heightened political tensions. The outcome is expected to be close, and observers fear a contested result that could trigger another South American crisis, after clashes in recent days in Venezuela and Paraguay. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa’s decade in power has left the country sharply divided, and with his legacy on the line, his leftist government has thrown its full weight behind former vice president Lenín Moreno, 64.
ABC News, Ecuador official quick count gives Moreno win, Staff report, April 2, 2017. Ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno has won Ecuador's presidential runoff, according to an official quick count by electoral authorities, although his rival is seeking a recount after three exit polls showed him winning by a comfortable margin. Moreno won Sunday's race with 51 percent to 49 percent for banker Guillermo Lasso, according to the quick count of a statistically-selected voting acts commissioned by the National Electoral Council. Minutes earlier a separate quick count by a respected local group said found was a technical tie with a difference of less than 0.6 percentage points separating the two candidates.
Politico, Trump to welcome Egypt’s dictator, Susan B. Glasser, April 2, 2017. Critics worry the president has a love for tyrants and little interest in promoting human rights and democracy. Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (shown in a United Nations photo) was never invited to the Obama White House, where he was viewed as a brutal tyrant with little regard for human rights and democracy. Reviled by activists for what they call the harshest political repression in Egypt’s history, Sisi has emerged as an early Trump favorite among world leaders. The two men first met during the presidential campaign in September, leading Trump to call Sisi a “fantastic guy,” and Sisi was the first foreign leader to reach Trump after his election.
Trump White House
New York Times, Trump Couple, Now Officials, Can’t Escape Conflict Laws, Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker, April 1, 2017. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (shown in a file photo) are walking on perilous legal and ethical ground, according to several prominent experts on the subject. They are forbidden under federal law from taking any action that might benefit their particular financial holdings.
Washington Post, Trump’s closest aides come from financial elite, Matea Gold, Drew Harwell and Jenna Johnson, April 1, 2017. After campaigning as a champion of the working class, President Trump now relies on advisers who have generated millions from Wall Street, Hollywood, real estate and the media. Together, 27 White House officials had assets of at least $2.3 billion when they joined the administration.
Washington Post, I worked for Jared Kushner. He’s the wrong businessman to reinvent government, Elizabeth Spiers, April 1, 2017. How the New York Observer could predict the fate of the Office of American Innovation. I worked for Jared Kushner (shown in a file photo) for 18 months as he tried to infuse a much smaller institution than the U.S. government with cost-cutting impulses from the commercial real estate world. And my experience doesn’t bode well for the Office of American Innovation. Not everything that works in the private sector is transferable to the public sector — and even if it were, Kushner isn’t the best person to transfer it.
Democratic High-Wire In Congress
Washington Post, Joe Manchin’s high-wire act: Working with Trump — and criticizing both parties, David Weigel, April 1, 2017. The Democratic senator from West Virginia, who says Republicans are tools for the wealthy, is trying to work with the president. But Manchin (shown in an official photo) remains wedded to an increasingly environmentalist party despite his conservative state’s allegiance to coal.
Media: Fox News
New York Times, O’Reilly Thrives as Settlements Add Up, Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt, April 1, 2017. About $13 million has been paid out over the years to address complaints from women about Bill O’Reilly’s behavior. O’Reilly, Fox News’s top asset, denies the claims have merit. For nearly two decades, Bill O’Reilly (shown in a file photo) has been Fox News’s top asset, building the No. 1 program in cable news for a network that has pulled in billions of dollars in revenues for its parent company, 21st Century Fox.
Behind the scenes, the company has repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly as he faced a series of allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior. An investigation by The New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The agreements totaled about $13 million. Two settlements came after the network’s former chairman, Roger Ailes, was dismissed last summer in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, when the company said there was no room for behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.”
Boston Globe, New wave of Kennedys cresting across the country, Annie Linskey, April 1, 2017. They’re trying to stage a family comeback for one of the most famous names in politics at a time when voters just rejected political elites, and as dynasties on the political left and right crumbled.
UK Column News, NATO White Helmets Denounced by Swedish Doctors, Staff report with interview of Marcello Ferrada de Noli, founder and chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) (18:29 min. video). Swedish Doctors For Human Rights (swedhr.org) analyzed videos, the rescue after an alleged attack by Syrian government forces. The doctors found that the videos were counterfeit, where even Arabic stage directions were overheard, and that the alleged “Rescue” in actuality is a murder. On first analysis, it looked as though the doctors working on the child assumed he was already dead.Swedish Professors & Doctors For Human Rights (SWEDHR) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization engaged in the research and reporting on the effects of war-crimes, torture and human-rights transgressions on civilian populations or on individuals. Additionally, we oppose governmental assaults on the human rights of individuals who have denounced war crimes or exposed serious infringements to the civil liberties of the population. Unlike other established Swedish human-rights organizations, Swedish Doctors For Human Rights is not sponsored neither fully nor partially financed by Swedish governmental institutions.
Inside the White House
Vanity Fair, Is Kellyanne Conway Getting Edged Out of the White House? Emily Jane Fox, April 1, 2017. “There is some confusion about what she does day to day,” one aide told me. Is Kellyanne Conway Getting Edged Out of the White House? “There is some confusion about what she does day to day,” one aide told me. Some would say that an ill-defined role in the White House is the safest kind; if there are no tangible tasks you are responsible for, you can’t be held responsible for anything. But in Trump’s West Wing, a petri dish of insecurity and infighting, a lack of concrete footing can be used against you. (Conway is shown in a file photo.)