August 2017 News Reports

  

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 Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2017 news and views

Aug. 18

Terror Attacks In Spain

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Washington Post, Barcelona reels under coordinated assault that leaves at least 13 victims dead, James McAuley, Michael Birnbaum and William Booth​, Aug. 18, 2017. Manhunt for driver continues; one dead after second attack in nearby resort town. The initial attack that injured scores of people occurred on the city’s iconic Las Ramblas promenade.

Hours after the chaos in Barcelona, police said they foiled a second attack by fatally shooting five men in a car who were hitting pedestrians in the seaside resort of Cambrils. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the incidents — which mimicked events in Berlin, London, Stockholm and the French city of Nice over the past year.

Justice System

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WhoWhatWhy, Too Big to Prosecute — DOJ Gives Giant Corporations a Pass, Jeff Schechtman, Aug. 18, 2017 (Podcast). The Justice Department is often zealous, sometimes to the point of recklessness, in prosecuting street crime and drug offenses. But it has been dilatory and feckless — our podcast guest this week calls it “chickenshit” — in prosecuting white collar criminals, many of whom helped to bring down the US economy in 2008.

Once, not that long ago, the government prosecuted the likes of Michael Milken and executives of Enron, Adelphia and Worldcom. It may have been the golden age of white collar prosecution. Today, executives at Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and so many others that played roles in precipitating the 2008/2009 crash, have escaped the long arm of the law.

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What happened? What’s changed? In part, it was a backlash to the Enron era. Suddenly, defending executives became an increasingly lucrative practice at elite law firms.

This created a revolving door between the Department of Justice and “big law” — with the result that prosecutors and defense attorneys on opposite sides of the table were often the same people wearing different hats.

In a story that involves the likes of James Comey, Preet Bharara, Sally Yates, and Eric Holder, this week’s WhoWhatWhy guest, journalist Jesse Eisinger, the author of The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives,” tells Jeff Schechtman that it was Comey himself who said that federal prosecutors who had never lost a case and shied away from bringing hard, complex cases, were obviously “chickenshit.”

We’re going to talk about this today with guest Jesse Eisinger. He’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. He was previously the Wall Street editor of Conde Nast Portfolio and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

More Fallout From Charlottesville

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A New York Daily News cover reflects how reporters, researchers debunked and mocked Trump's 'pig blood' story last February

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New York Times, Defiant, Trump Laments Assault on Culture and Revives a Bogus Pershing Story, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 18, 2017 (print edition). Despite ongoing rebukes over his defense of white supremacists, President Trump defiantly returned to his campaign’s nativist themes on Thursday. He lamented an assault on American “culture,” revived a bogus, century-old story about killing Muslim extremists and attacked Republicans with a renewed vigor.

Hours after a terrorist attack in Spain, Mr. Trump recalled a debunked event in which Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing supposedly killed Muslim rebels in the Philippines by shooting them with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs, which Muslims are forbidden to eat. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Barcelona, where the driver of a van crashed into a busy tourist boulevard, killing 13.

As when he trafficked in the same unproven legend during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump ignored the conclusions of historians, who repeatedly have said it did not happen. Additionally, his claim that Pershing ended terrorism in the Philippines for 35 years is refuted by the violence that continued for decades after the rebellion that ended in 1913.

Mr. Trump also appeared in peril of losing support from key Republicans he will need to advance his agenda in Congress. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, questioned the president’s “stability,” and Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, declared Mr. Trump’s moral authority is “compromised."

The president accused Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, of “publicity seeking” and said that Mr. Graham had uttered a “disgusting lie” when he said — accurately — that the president had equated the white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville with the counterprotesters who were there to oppose them.

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Washington Post, Trump’s use of Confederate statues as a wedge issue underscores Bannon’s influence, James Hohmann​, Aug. 18, 2017. Trump has held the opposite position, endorsing South Carolina’s decision in 2015 to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse after a mass shooting in Charleston.

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Washington Post, Arlington Cemetery’s Confederate Memorial could find itself in the spotlight, T. Rees Shapiro, Aug. 18, 2017. As monuments to the Confederacy come under fresh scrutiny following the violence in Charlottesville, the 32-foot-tall testament to Southern pride stands out for its location on hallowed ground. But there is little evidence of any public campaign to remove it. Even if there were, it’s unclear what legal path exists for its removal.

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Washington Post, Conservative Opinion: There is a shriveled emptiness where Trump’s soul once resided, Michael Gerson, Aug, 17, 2017.  Why should anyone not named Bannon stay at the White House?

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Washington Post, Liberal Opinion: The Republicans who want to legalize running over protesters, Catherine Rampell, Aug, 17, 2017. Last weekend in Charlottesville, a driver mowed down peaceful protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The act was reminiscent of recent terrorist attacks across Europe committed in the name of the Islamic State, which has urged followers to use vehicles to kill enemies. This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. The first bill was introduced in North Dakota in January, and similar bills have since come under consideration in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island.

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Washington Post, Gary Cohn stays put — for now — following Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, Damian Paletta and Renae Merle, Aug. 18, 2017. The White House took the unusual step of saying the president’s chief economic adviser would not resign after people close to him said he was mortified by Trump’s remarks and that he has been bombarded with calls from friends asking him if he will leave.

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Washington Post, In conservative media, an amen chorus defends Trump’s comments on Charlottesville violence, David Weigel, Aug. 17, 2017. President Trump’s three-part reaction to the weekend’s violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville has inspired a few head-turning Fox News segments, with hosts and guests typically friendly toward the president scrambling off the Trump Train. But under less scrutiny, conservative hosts who have been generally supportive of Trump have spent the week endorsing his evolving message.

fox-news-logo Small.pngOn Wednesday’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (on Fox News), there was a second consecutive night of questions about why Trump, not left-wing protesters, was the focus of criticism. An opening segment questioned whether the First Amendment was shredded by companies denying Web services and hotel rooms to white nationalists; a second segment raised awareness of a pro-Trump protest in San Diego that had been threatened by protesters.

And on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh argued that criticism was being lobbed at Trump to “nullify the election,” referring obliquely to columnists who’ve urged the president to step aside. 

Aug.  17

Global News: Terror Attack With Van In Spain

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Washington Post, Police kill 5 suspects, thwart second attack connected to Barcelona violence, Michael Birnbaum, William Booth and William Branigin, Aug. 17, 2017. After shooting the suspects early Friday in the resort town southwest of Barcelona, police checked four bodies for explosive belts.

A fifth suspect died later of his injuries. Seven others, including a police officer, were injured during the police operation. Police on Thursday arrested two suspects in the terrorist attack in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, which killed 13 people and injured more than 100.

Spain came under repeated attack starting Thursday in what authorities called linked terrorist incidents, when a driver swerved a van into crowds in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, killing more than a dozen people and injuring scores of others. Early Friday, an attempted attack unfolded in a town down the coast. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Barcelona violence.

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Related earlier story: New York Times, Van Driver Kills 13 in Barcelona Attack, 100 Injured in Heart of Tourist District; One Man in Custody, Anne-Sophie Bolon, Palko Karasz and Mark A. Walsh, Aug. 17, 2017. A van hit pedestrians in the center of the Spanish city in what the police called a terrorist attack. Witnesses said the driver weaved back and forth, apparently trying to hit as many people as he could.

Trump Battles Escalate

HuffPost, Vice News’ Elle Reeve Confirms There Were No ‘Very Fine People’ Among White Supremacists, Rebecca Shapiro, Aug. 17, 2017. “There’s no innocent person wandering up and accidentally getting involved in this.” 

“Vice News Tonight” correspondent Elle Reeve spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wednesday night about her headline-making reporting from the white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. Reeve’s coverage quickly went viral after it aired Sunday night, following a weekend of violence in which one person was killed, at least 19 others were injured, and two state troopers died in a crash of their helicopter.

Cooper asked Reeve if President Donald Trump’s characterization of the protesters was accurate. On Tuesday, the president said that there were “very fine people, on both sides” demonstrating in Charlottesville, and that some people were there to protest the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“No,” Reeve answered. “Everyone who was there knew what they were doing. They were shouting ‘Jews will not replace us.’ It was very well coordinated. They had an order to the chants. There was no mistaking. There’s no innocent person wandering up and accidentally getting involved in this.”

Reeve’s 22-minute documentary was heralded as required watching for Americans in 2017 by multiple news organizations, including HuffPost. Reeve focused her coverage on white nationalist leader Christopher Cantwell, and followed events from Friday night’s march to Sunday’s vigils.

Reeve also said she felt in danger while in Charlottesville. “They called me ‘lügenpresse’ ― that’s a Nazi term for ‘lying press.’ They said really misogynistic things to me,” Reeve said. “Additionally, it was just a thousand angry, foolish men with many, many guns.”

usa-today-logo.jpgusa-today-logo.jpgUSA Today, After Charlottesville, time to censure President Trump, Editorial Board, Aug. 17, 2017 (print edition). When these things happen in the United States, and the president blames "both sides," more formal condemnation is necessary. This is a moment of reckoning for members of the Party of Lincoln: Do they want to stand up for American values, or do they want to keep enabling a president whose understanding of right and wrong has slipped dangerously off the rails?

If congressional Republicans choose the former — and history will be watching — they should join together with Democrats to censure Trump.

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New York Times, Trump Opens Breach With Party, Military and Industry, Michael D. Shear, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 17, 2017. In the wake of his defense of white supremacists, President Trump was abandoned by executives, contradicted by military leaders and shunned by Republicans. According to close aides, the president said he felt liberated by his news conference and viewed it as his latest retort to a political establishment trying to tame his impulses. The breach with the business community was the most striking.

Titans of American industry and finance revolted against a man they had seen as one of their own, concluding Wednesday morning they could no longer serve on two of Mr. Trump’s advisory panels.

But before Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump’s closest business confidants, could announce a decision to disband Mr. Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum — in a prepared statement calling “intolerance, racism and violence” an “affront to core American values” — the president undercut him and did it himself, in a tweet.

Politico, James Murdoch rebukes Trump over Charlottesville response, Cristiano Lima, Aug. 17, 2017. James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox (a parent company of Fox News), slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday for his response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., joining an increasingly long list of business leaders who have publicly condemned the president’s words.

fox-news-logo Small.png“I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists,” Murdoch wrote in a memo to staff obtained by Yahoo that addresses the violence in Virginia and Trump’s reaction to it. “Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.”

Murdoch added that “what we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people.” He also unveiled to his staff that, in light of the weekend events, he and his wife, Kathryn, were donating $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, an international nongovernmental organization that combats anti-Semitism.

HuffPost, Donald Trump ‘Sad To See’ Confederate Monuments Being Taken Down, Paige Lavender, Aug. 17, 2017. “Who’s next, Washington, Jefferson?” President Donald Trump said he’s “sad to see” Confederate statues and monuments being taken down around the United States. Confederate memorials are being removed around the U.S. after a white supremacist protest to protect a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned into a weekend of racist violence in which one woman was killed.

According to USA Today, there are more than 700 Confederate monuments installed in public areas across 31 states. Washington, D.C.; Lexington, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and other places are taking steps to remove their monuments. Baltimore quietly removed its remaining Confederate monuments Tuesday night in the wake of the Charlottesville incident.

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Washington Post, Mayors move quickly to avoid becoming the next Charlottesville, Janell Ross, Mark Berman and Joel Achenbach, Aug. 17, 2017. Boston laid down strict conditions for an upcoming rally and counterprotest. California lawmakers called for the revocation of a permit for an upcoming rally on federal park land. And other cities are grappling with what to do about their Confederate monuments.

Fox News, Missouri Democratic state senator says she hopes Trump is assassinated, Alex Pappas, Aug. 17, 2017. A Democratic state senator in Missouri is facing resignation calls for posting on Facebook Thursday that she hopes President Trump is assassinated. “I hope Trump is assassinated!” state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal wrote. Chappelle-Nadal eventually deleted the post, but a screenshot was saved and shared on Twitter.

HuffPost, Missouri State Senator Urged To Resign Over Her ‘Hope’ For Trump’s Assassination, Ryan Grenoble, Aug. 17, 2017.  “There is no way in hell that I’m resigning,” the legislator responds.

Trump White House

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Stephen BannonWashington Post, Bannon says rivals are ‘wetting themselves,’ mocks white supremacists and contradicts Trump on N. Korea, Derek Hawkins​, Aug. 17, 2017. In an unusual interview with progressive magazine The American Prospect, the White House chief strategist (shown in a file photo) seemed to take issue with Trump on North Korea, attacked white supremacists as “clowns” and detailed how he would oust some of his opponents at the State and Defense departments.

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Washington Post, Trump White House failing to release even limited visitor logs, watchdog group says, Spencer S. Hsu, Aug. 17, 2017. Citing "grave national security risks," the administration said in April that it would tamp down on disclosing who visits the executive complex.

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New York Times, Settlement Reached in Case on C.I.A. Torture Program, Sheri Fink, Aug. 17, 2017. A lawsuit against two psychologists who helped devise the C.I.A.’s brutal interrogation program was an unusual effort to demand accountability for tactics adopted after Sept. 11. A settlement in the lawsuit against two psychologists who helped devise the Central Intelligence Agency’s brutal interrogation program was announced on Thursday, bringing to an end an unusual effort to hold individuals accountable for the techniques the agency adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

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Lawyers for the three plaintiffs in the suit, filed in 2015 in Federal District Court in Spokane, Wash., said the former prisoners were tortured at secret C.I.A. detention sites. The settlement with the psychologists, Dr. Bruce Jessen and Dr. James Mitchell, came after a judge last month urged resolving the case before it headed to a jury trial in early September.

The plaintiffs — two former detainees and the family of a third who died in custody — had sought unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. The terms of the settlement are confidential, and it is unclear whether a financial payout was involved. The parties agreed to a joint statement in which the psychologists said that they had advised the C.I.A. and that the plaintiffs had suffered abuses, but that they were not responsible.

The plaintiffs said that Drs. Jessen and Mitchell, former military psychologists, profited from their work as contractors for the C.I.A. The men received up to $1,800 a day and later formed a company that was paid about $81 million to help operate the interrogation program over several years. James T. Smith, the psychologists’ lead counsel, said in a statement that his clients were “public servants whose actions in regard to the interrogation of suspected terrorists were authorized by the U.S. government, legal and done in an effort to protect innocent lives.”

Media Post-mortem

Washington Post, The story behind a retracted CNN report on the Trump campaign and Russia, Paul Farhi, Aug. 17, 2017. The article said that federal investigators were looking into a January meeting between then-White House adviser Anthony Scaramucci and the fund’s director, a Russian national named Kirill Dmitriev. The story was based on information from an anonymous source.

On June 26, the news organization asked for and accepted the resignations of the three journalists — one a Pulitzer Prize winner, another a Pulitzer finalist — who were principally responsible for reporting and editing the article.

Aug. 16

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Wall Street Journal, Trump’s Business Councils Disband After CEOs Defect, Emily Glazer and Sarah Krouse, Aug. 16, 2017 (subscription required). Move follows Donald Trump’s controversial response to the recent violence in Charlottesville. Two of President Donald Trump’s councils of top business leaders are disbanding, following controversial remarks made by Mr. Trump on Tuesday.

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Washington Post, Trump ends advisory councils as CEOs quit over his remarks on Charlottesville, Damian Paletta and Jena McGregor, Aug. 16, 2017. Several corporate leaders had announced they were resigning from the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum as well as a separate manufacturing council in recent days after Trump was slow to condemn white supremacy groups. But on Twitter, Trump said it was his decision to disband both councils.

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Washington Post, Trump’s generals condemn Charlottesville racism — while trying not to offend the president, Andrew deGrandpre, Aug. 16, 2017. One by one, the U.S. military’s most senior leaders have publicly — and bluntly — repudiated the racist violence that plunged Charlottesville into chaos Saturday, declaring the nation’s armed forces as being unequivocally against hatred.

By midmorning Wednesday, the military’s four service chiefs had issued firm, forceful statements that stand apart from remarks made by President Trump, who faces deepening criticism for his repeated attempts to evenly distribute blame for clashes between white nationalists and the anti-fascist protesters who showed up to oppose them.

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Washington Post, They tried to kill my child to shut her up,’ Heather Heyer’s mother mourns at funeral for woman killed during Nazi protest in Charlottesville, Ellie Silverman, Arelis R. Hernández and Steve Hendrix, Aug. 16, 2017. Those who loved Heather Heyer, along with strangers who have already elevated her into a symbol of defiance in the face of hate, gathered Wednesday at her memorial service to remember her as a born defender of justice who died for showing up when her beliefs demanded it.

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her,” said Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, sparking an ovation from a packed theater in downtown Charlottesville that lasted nearly a minute and a half. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) were among those in the crowd. Two Virginia gubernatorial candidates also attended: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie.

Heyer, 32, was killed when a car allegedly driven by a reported white nationalist plowed into a crowd. The ramming followed hours of unrest Saturday between white supremacists and counterprotesters. Heyer was there to oppose the white nationalist rally.

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New York Times, Richard Trumka: Why I Quit Trump’s Business Council, Richard Trumpka (president of the AFL-CIO), Aug. 16, 2017. He has no intention of following through on his promises to workers. And he may leave the country worse off.

On Tuesday, President Trump stood in the lobby of his tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and again made excuses for bigotry and terrorism, effectively repudiating the remarks his staff wrote a day earlier in response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. I stood in that same lobby in January, fresh off a meeting with the new president-elect. Although I had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, I was hopeful we could work together to bring some of his pro-worker campaign promises to fruition.

Unfortunately, with each passing day, it has become clear that President Trump has no intention of following through on his commitments to working people. More worrisome, his actions and rhetoric threaten to leave America worse off and more divided. It is for these reasons that I resigned yesterday from the president’s manufacturing council, which the president disbanded today after a string of resignations.

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fox-news-logo Small.pngNew York Times, Stunned TV Hosts Reacted in Real Time to Trump, Michael M. Grynbaum, Aug. 16, 2017 (printed edition). Mr. Trump’s fiery news conference left many on cable news networks searching for ways to describe what they had just seen. “What I just saw gave me the wrong kind of chills,” a visibly stunned Chuck Todd said on MSNBC. “Honestly, I’m a bit shaken by what I just heard.” Unable to disguise her disgust, the Fox News host Kat Timpf said: “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life. I have too much eye makeup on to start crying right now.”

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Washington Post, Conservative Opinion: Every Republican must sign a censure of the president, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 16, 2017. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), member of the House Judiciary Committee and former chairman and ranking Democrat of the Constitution Subcommittee, along with Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) announced a resolution of censure against President Trump on Wednesday.

Republicans won’t agree with every word, but now is no time for quibbling. This is the test. They lifted this president to office and now they must disown him. The Party of Lincoln will continue, if at all, with those who are willing to condemn their own president for embracing these groups and individuals. Any Republican not willing to sign on should be voted out. Period. It’s the only litmus test that matters.

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New York Times, Hope Hicks Will Be Trump’s Interim Communications Director, Eileen Sullivan and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 16, 2017. President Trump’s longtime aide Hope Hicks (shown in a file photo) will serve as the interim White House director of communications and will help the president find a permanent person for the job, according to a senior administration official.

However temporary it is, it was the latest reshuffling in the White House and comes at a time when the president’s remarks on white supremacists were drawing fire from Democrats and Republicans. The role of communications director is to set a clear and direct message coming from the White House each day.

Ms. Hicks, 28, already is considered one of the most important people in the president’s communications orbit and has the most sway over who in the news media gets interviews with the president. Her current title is director of strategic communications. Ms. Hicks was a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump during his presidential campaign and at the Trump Organization.

 

Aug. 16 cover of the New York Daily News

Other Responses

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Washington Post, Obama’s response to Charlottesville violence is the most liked tweet in Twitter’s history, Kristine Phillips, Aug. 16, 2017 (print edition). "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion,” Obama said, quoting Nelson Mandela. The first tweet, which shows a picture of Obama smiling at four children, has been retweeted more than 1.1 million times and liked 2.723 million times as of Tuesday evening.

The message became the most liked tweet of all time, surpassing Ariana Grande's response to the deadly terrorist attack after her concert in Manchester. It also ranks No. 7 among the most retweeted tweets according to Favstar, a tweet tracking site.

The Hill, Georgia judge suspended for comparing anti-Confederate protesters to ISIS: report, Max Greenwood, Aug. 16, 2017. Georgia judge suspended for comparing anti-Confederate protesters to ISIS. A judge in Georgia has been suspended for Facebook posts in which he compared protesters of Confederate statues to members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Gwinnett County Judge Jim Hinkle called protesters opposing a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E Lee in Charlottesville, Va., “snowflakes.” He said they had "no concept of history" and should “leave history alone.” In a follow-up post, he likened taking down Confederate statues to ISIS’s destruction of historic sites and artifacts in the Middle East. Hinkle was suspended by Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday. Blum is considering further action against the judge.

NBC News, Right-Winger Jack Posobiec, Retweeted by Trump, Is Navy Intel Officer, Courtney Kube, Aug. 16, 2017. A right-wing activist who brought attention to debunked conspiracy theories — and who gained new prominence when he was retweeted by President Donald Trump this week — is a U.S. naval intelligence officer detailed to a reserve unit, Navy service records show. John Michael Posobiec III's security clearance is currently suspended, according to a U.S. official, who did not disclose the reason for the suspension.

Posobiec, who goes by "Jack," is a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy Reserves, assigned to Joint Reserve Intelligence Support Element Dekalb. From March 2014 through March 2017 he was assigned to a Reserve Intelligence Unit at Office of Naval Intelligence's Naval Maritime Intelligence Center in Washington. During that time frame, Posobiec used his social media accounts to draw attention to false theories, including the rumor that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered for leaking emails to Wikileaks.

He also delved into the so-called Pizzagate theory, which posited that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria. Shortly after the election, Posobiec visited Comet Pizza and posted a video in which he talked in a seemingly joking way about trying to find out what's happening in the bathroom.

He also promoted, through Twitter, leaked emails from the campaign of French President Emmanuel Macron. In June, he was in the audience when a fellow pro-Trump protester rushed the stage at a New York production of "Julius Caesar" that drew controversy because the title character resembled the president. "You are all Goebbels, you are all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels," Posobiec shouted into the audience in video posted on his Twitter feed.

While Posobiec, 32, is frequently referred to as a member of the alt-right, he describes himself as a "conservative Republican" and member of the "New Right" — and an ardent Trump supporter.

Courts

Politico, Judge: Benghazi suspect's prolonged shipboard interrogation didn't violate rights, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 16, 2017. A judge has ruled that U.S. authorities did not violate the rights of an alleged ringleader in the Benghazi attack by interrogating him at length as he was transported from Libya to the U.S. on a slow-moving Navy ship over a nearly two-week period in 2014.

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U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper rejected arguments from Ahmed Abu Khatallah's defense attorneys that officials intentionally prolonged the process in order to try to extract information from him and that they coerced him into speaking in FBI interviews that followed questions by CIA interrogators. "The Court finds that Abu Khatallah's statements were voluntarily given," Cooper wrote.

Abu Khatallah faces a slew of serious federal charges, including four counts of murder in connection with the killings of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans during a furious firefight at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The Libyan militia leader is set to face a jury trial in federal court in Washington starting September 25.

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Washington Post, This week should put the nail in the coffin for ‘both sides’ journalism, Margaret Sullivan, Aug. 16, 2017. He’s the false-equivalency president. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the national news media’s misguided sense of fairness helped equate the serious flaws of Hillary Clinton with the disqualifying evils of Donald Trump.

In a devastating post-election report, Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center concluded that media treatment was rife with false equivalency: “On topics relating to the candidates’ fitness for office, Clinton and Trump’s coverage was virtually identical in terms of its negative tone.” That was a factor — one of many — that helped to put Trump in the Oval Office.

“The whole doctrine of objectivity in journalism has become part of the [media’s] problem,” Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, said this week in a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. He believes that journalists must state their biases up front and not pretend to be magically free of the beliefs or assumptions that everyone has.

Aug. 15

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New York Times, Trump Makes a Spectacle of Himself, Editorial Board, Aug. 15, 2017. Given another chance to condemn white supremacists, the president takes up their talking points.

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New York Times, Trump Gives White Supremacists An Unequivocal Boost, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 15, 2017. When Mr. Trump equated anti-racism protesters with neo-Nazis, he legitimized white supremacists like no modern president. President Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations — equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and “Trump/Pence” signs.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth,” David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, wrote in a Twitter post shortly after Mr. Trump spoke.

Richard B. Spencer, a white nationalist leader who participated in the weekend’s demonstrations and vowed to flood Charlottesville with similar protests in the coming weeks, was equally encouraged. “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth,” Mr. Spencer tweeted.

New York Daily News, Opinion: Trump's comments on James Fields may have created a legal headache for prosecutors, Mitchell Epner, Aug. 15, 2017. At his Tuesday press conference, President Trump was asked whether the attack on Heather Heyer was "terrorism." His response may make it more difficult for Virginia to prosecute James Fields for murder (already charged) or the United States to prosecute him for federal crimes.

President Trump said: "I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country. And that is — you can call it terrorism, you can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That's what I'd call it. And there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? Then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer, and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing."

I know that I have said similar things about James Fields on social media. But, I'm just some guy who used to be a federal prosecutor who rants to his friends. Because President Trump is not just some guy popping off on social media to his buddies, his statements may create problems for bringing the cases against Fields to trial.

Under our Constitution, every person charged with a crime has a presumption of innocence. A defendant can only be convicted after being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on the basis of the evidence presented at trial. The Supreme Court has held that if adverse pre-trial publicity makes it impossible for an accused to be judged on the basis of the evidence, then the accused cannot be found guilty, no matter his actual guilt.

To avoid interfering with successful prosecution, previous Presidents from both parties has made it a practice to respond to questions about a pending criminal case by saying, "That is the subject of a pending criminal matter and I cannot comment further."

New York Daily News, Giant inflatable rat bearing resemblance to Trump appears on Fifth Ave., Kerry Burke and Christopher Brennan, Aug. 15, 2016. A giant inflatable of President Trump, in the style of labor unions’ blow up rodents, is greeting Midtown residents and tourists Monday afternoon at Fifth Ave. and 59th St. The grotesque model of Trump was claimed by gallery Bravin Lee, who said that the inflatable rat is “an enduring sign of resistance and ridicule.” 

From the archives: Independent, Donald Trump 'kept book of Adolf Hitler's speeches in his bedside cabinet,' Ben Kentish, March 20, 2017. In a 1990 interview, the billionaire businessman admitted to owning Nazi leader's 'Mein Kampf,' but said he would never read speeches.

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Washington Post, Trump doubles down, says ‘both sides’ to blame for Va. violence, David Nakamura​, Aug. 15, 2017. President Trump declared Tuesday that counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville acted violently and should share the blame for the mayhem that left a woman dead and many injured.

Speaking at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the president called the events of Saturday at the “Unite the Right” rally a “horrible thing to watch,” but he emphasized that both sides acted irresponsibly. "I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it," Trump said. “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent," he added. "No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

Trump's remarks came a day after he belatedly condemned the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups that organized and participated in the rally. He had faced mounting pressure from lawmakers and civil rights groups over his failure to do so during his initial reaction to the violence, when he denounced violence “on many sides.”

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Washington Post, Trump retweets — then deletes — image of train running over CNN reporter, David Nakamura and Brian Murphy, Aug. 15, 2017. The president was in the midst of a tweetstorm when he sent the image, posted by a supporter who added “Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain!!" He also appeared to accidentally retweet another post from a man calling him a "fascist."

HuffPost, Donald Trump Just Retweeted A Notorious Right-Wing ‘Pizzagate’ Troll, Ed Mazza, Aug.15, 2017. One critic called it “sickening.” Hours after denouncing far-right extremists on Monday, President Donald Trump retweeted a far-right “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist known for disrupting a performance of “Julius Caesar” over the summer. Critics saw the retweet on Monday evening as an attempt to deflect attention from his belated response to white supremacist violence, but also as an implicit effort to draw attention to crime within the African-American community.

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New York Times, The C.E.O.s on Trump Councils: Five Executives Have Resigned From the American Manufacturing Council, Staff report, Aug. 15, 2017. The Trump administration has created advisory groups of high-profile executives in an effort to forge alliances with big business. Recently, some of them have opposed President Trump’s stances on civil rights and climate change, and have distanced themselves from these groups in very public ways. The departures this week have been met with ire by the president.

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New York Times, Trump Fires Back as More C.E.O.s Quit Advisory Panel, David Gelles, Kate Kelly, Rachel Abrams and Michael Corkery, Aug. 15, 2017. After six business leaders stepped down, Mr. Trump criticized their work and said they were “leaving out of embarrassment.” The C.E.O.s on (and Off) Trump’s Councils.

nytimes-logo.jpgNew York Times, Energized Far Right Plots Its Next Moves, Alan Feuer, Aug. 15, 2017 (print edition). Some white supremacists and right-wing extremists were planning to attend future marches, and others were planning to run for office.

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New York Times, Bombing Plot in Oklahoma City Is Thwarted With Arrest, F.B.I. Says, Manny Fernandez, Aug. 15, 2017 (print edition). A 23-year-old Oklahoma man has been arrested after he tried to blow up a bank in downtown Oklahoma City using a vehicle bomb similar to the one that destroyed the federal building there in 1995, federal officials said Monday.

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The man, Jerry Drake Varnell, had been plotting the attack for months, the authorities said, but was thwarted by a long-running undercover investigation led by an F.B.I. joint terrorism task force.  During a meeting in June with an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as someone who could help him, Mr. Varnell said that he wanted to start the next revolution and that he identified with what is known as 3 percenter ideology, according to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint against him. Mr. Varnell sought to form and arm a small militia group, inspired in part by the movie “Fight Club,” the authorities said.

“I’m out for blood,” Mr. Varnell wrote in one text message to a confidential informant who cooperated with the authorities, according to the affidavit, which was written by an F.B.I. special agent. “When militias start getting formed I’m going after government officials when I have a team,” he wrote. The complaint did not name the informant.

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Washington Post, Trump acts like the president of the Red States of America, James Hohmann, Aug. 15, 2017. That’s at odds with the American tradition, and it’s problematic as a governing philosophy — especially in a moment of crisis. Trump’s initially tone-deaf response to Charlottesville underscores why.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), America is at the tipping point between fascism and democracy, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 15, 2017 (subscription required for details). The mass media is being used by the neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate movements to give greater exposure to far-right leaders like Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Jack Posobiec, Preston Wiginton, and the most recent self-outed Nazi, broadcaster Alex Jones, to mainstream them and their dangerous ideology. This is similar to the methods used by Adolf Hitler to increase his exposure from a few beer- and urine-reeking halls in Munich to all of Germany.

Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo) is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst who edits the Wayne Madsen Report. He has authored 15 books and is a widely published syndicated op-ed columnist with columns appearing hundreds of times in American newspapers. He wrote as an editor's note to the column above: "Although this editor was a non-paid contributor to Infowars on stories of my own choosing, I thoroughly reject and find personally repugnant the Nazi, Klan, and other extremist views of Alex Jones and his provocateurs and guests. There are absolutely no current links between WMR and Infowars, Prison Planet, or any other Jones enterprises, even though his websites continue to carry WMR stories dating back as early as 12 years ago."

Politics Around the Nation: Alabama, Arizona

New York Times, Alabama Election Results: Two Republicans Advance, Democrat Wins in U.S. Senate Primaries, Matthew Bloch and Jasmine Lee, Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, and Senator Luther Strange, who was appointed earlier this year, advanced on Tuesday in the Republican primary for the Senate seat in Alabama vacted by Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Mr. Moore and Senator Strange will compete in a runoff on Sept. 26. The winner will face Doug Jones, a former United States attorney who won the Democratic primary, in the general election on Dec. 12.

Alex Jones Infowars, Corsi: Trump Set To Pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio Before Planned Trip To Arizona, Jerome Corsi, Aug. 15, 2017. Arpaio might get pardoned after being charged with criminal contempt.

White House Staff: Bannon

Steve Bannon at a 2013 Tea Party rally in Washington, DC (C-SPAN 3 photo)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mr. Toad’s wild ride crashes and burns, Bill Palmer, Aug. 15, 2017. It shouldn’t have lasted this long, nor did he likely ever expect it to. Steve Bannon took over Donald Trump’s dying campaign fairly late in the game, with the seeming intent of simply using the losing effort to promote his own white supremacist site Breitbart. But after Russia and the FBI stunningly put Trump over the top, he and Bannon each found themselves stuck working in a White House they loathe. And now Mr. Toad’s wild ride is coming to an end.

It’s telling that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are both such grotesque creatures that either of them could safely be referred to as “Mr. Toad” in a manner which would only serve to insult toads. But while Trump’s premature exit from the White House is now inevitable eventually, Bannon’s exit is imminent.

For reasons known only to him, Trump has spent the past few weeks weakening Bannon by firing all of his loyalists and leaking trash talk about him to the media. This is how Trump erodes his own top people in the hope they’ll quit so he doesn’t have to fire them. But a development that neither of them saw coming, the Charlottesville white supremacist terror attack has complicated Bannon’s exit while also cementing it.

Trump's DOJ Seeks 1.3 Million Addresses From Critics' Website

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WhoWhatWhy, Trump DOJ Wants 1.3M IP Addresses, Personal Info from Anti-Trump Website, Celia Wexler, Aug. 15, 2017. The Trump White House, which had such a hard time castigating Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan protesters in Charlottesville, VA, seems to be moving swiftly to identify — and perhaps harass — the more than one million visitors to a website that coordinated demonstrations during the Trump inauguration.

The Department of Justice last month issued a sweeping demand for information from the website Disruptj20.org. The DOJ is seeking this data to assist its investigation of what it termed a “violent riot” on January 20. The “riot” resulted in some property damage and injuries during mostly peaceful protests that involved hundreds of thousands of participants. The website’s host, DreamHost, is resisting the demand for the information. A hearing on the case is set for this Friday in DC Superior Court.

In its brief opposing the warrant, Dreamhost charges: “In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website.”

Global News: North Korea Insults Trump, Defers Missile Test

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New York Times, North Korea Says It Will Wait ‘a Little More’ Before Acting on Guam Threat, Choe Sang-Hun, Aug. 15, 2017. North Korea appeared on Tuesday to pause its threat to launch ballistic missiles toward Guam, saying it would wait to assess “the foolish and stupid conduct” of the United States before carrying the launchings out.

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The statement came as the United States and South Korea were preparing to conduct joint military exercises on the Korean Peninsula and surrounding waters starting on Monday, despite North Korea’s vehement opposition to such drills.

In response to threats from President Trump, North Korea’s military announced last week that by mid-August, it would submit a plan to Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader (shown at right), for launching four ballistic missiles into waters around Guam, the United States territory that is home to American military bases.

On Monday, Mr. Kim reviewed the plan while visiting the command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army but said he would wait a bit before telling the military to proceed with the missile launchings, the state news media reported on Tuesday.
South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on Tuesday offered an unusually blunt rebuke to the Trump administration’s discussions of possible military responses to the North, saying no country should take military action on the Korean Peninsula without his government’s approval.

See related story: New York Times, North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, Aug. 14, 2017. 

Mudslide Disaster In Africa

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New York Times, ‘This Is Too Much for Us’: Sierra Leone Deluged by Mud and Grief, Jaime Yaya Barry and Dionne Searcey, Aug. 15, 2017. The bodies floated down the streets and piled up at the morgue, where the coroners struggled to find room for all of the dead. An already devastating flood the day before produced even more anguish on Tuesday in Sierra Leone as residents of Freetown, the capital, dug through the mud in search of missing family members.

The Red Cross said hundreds of people had been killed and 600 were missing after torrential rains early Monday caused mudslides and transformed city streets into fast-moving rivers of muddy water, washing away everything in their path. One worker at the city’s morgue, who was not authorized to speak to reporters, said he had seen as many as 400 bodies there.

Residents of the poor communities built into the capital city’s unstable hillsides suffered the most. Their homes — shacks, really — were quickly buried or violently swept away in the deluge. Aid groups estimated that 3,000 people had been left homeless.

JFK Assassination Revelations

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JFK Facts.org, How Shenon and Sabato came to Fake News in JFK’s Murder, Jefferson Morley, Aug. 15, 2017. After more than fifty years and zero quantum of proof since the JFK assassination, Philip Shenon and Larry J. Sabato insist on the out-worn hypothesis “Castro sorta done it” while reporting how the CIA came to doubt the official story. From a batch of documents recently released on line by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), they have cherry-picked an unauthored 1975-CIA memo that specifically:

  • “Noted the failure of the CIA, FBI and the Warren Commission to interview a key witness in Mexico City — Silvia Duran, the Mexican woman who worked in the Cuban consulate and was reported to have had the affair with Oswald.”
  • “Offered a detailed theory [about] how Oswald (…) may have been inspired to assassinate the president if, as seemed probable, he read an article on Monday, September 9, in the local newspaper, that suggested Castro was targeted for murder by the United States.”

 Taylor Swift's Victory Resonates

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New York Times, Taylor Swift Spoke Up. Sexual Assault Survivors Were Listening, Melena Ryzik, Aug. 15, 2017. She’s sold millions of albums and heard stadiums full of fans chant her lyrics at sold-out concerts around the world. But the Taylor Swift line that might resonate the loudest now is “He grabbed my bare ass.”

Ms. Swift, the pop superstar, made that comment in a federal courtroom in Denver last week, as part of her testimony against David Mueller, a former radio host who sued her, claiming she falsely accused him of groping her during a backstage photo opportunity in 2013. Ms. Swift countersued for assault and battery. Her confident and blunt testimony swayed the jury — on Monday, she won her case, and Mr. Mueller lost his — and was shared widely across social media, where her responses were hailed as powerful.

Aug. 14

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Washington Post, Trump denounces KKK, neo-Nazis two days after Charlottesville unrest, David Nakamura, Aug. 14, 2017. The president spoke from the White House in an effort to tamp down criticism from Democrats and some Republicans that he had not been forceful enough in his comments Saturday. He also announced a Justice Department civil rights probe into the killing of a counterprotester.

Trump denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name Monday, declaring racist hate groups as "repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans," as he sought to tamp down mounting criticism of his response to the killing of a counterprotester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend.

The statement came two days after the president failed to specifically condemn the white supremacist rally after a woman was killed and as many as 19 wounded by a driver who reportedly espoused racist and pro-Nazi sentiments and had taken part in the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville.

HuffPost, CEO Quits White House Council Over Trump’s Charlottesville Response — And Trump Attacks Him, Marina Fang, Aug. 14, 2017. Instead of denouncing neo-Nazis, Trump denounces a CEO criticizing him for not personally denouncing neo-Nazis. A CEO serving on President Donald Trump’s council on manufacturing announced his resignation early Monday from the White House panel, in protest of Trump’s continued silence on the white nationalist groups who incited Saturday’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ken Frazier, the head of Merck pharmaceuticals, said in a statement he was stepping down “as a matter of personal conscience” and “to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” In response, Trump ― who has yet to personally denounce the far-right groups who sparked Saturday’s deadly carnage in Charlottesville ― directly attacked Frazier on Twitter. "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

See also: Washington Post, Merck CEO quits council over Trump’s initial response to rally, draws president’s ire, Carolyn Y. Johnson and Jena McGregor, Aug. 14, 2017. Kenneth Frazier’s decision shows how executives have struggled to balance their desire to engage the White House with growing expectations that they exercise a voice on social issues. Later, the CEOs of Under Armour and Intel said they, too, were resigning from the manufacturing council.

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Washington Post, Sessions defends Trump’s response to Charlottesville, says violence meets standard for domestic terrorism, Sari Horwitz​, Aug. 14, 2017. “His initial statement on this roundly and unequivocally condemned hatred and violence and bigotry,” the attorney general said. The Justice Department is probing the clashes and will “advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought,” he said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: CNN reporter Jim Acosta calls Donald Trump “fake news” to his face, Bill Palmer, Aug. 14, 2017. The tables have finally turned. Donald Trump has spent the entirety of his time in office falsely accusing various major news outlets of being “fake news” simply because he didn’t like the real stories they were reporting. But when a weakened and tailspinning Trump tried to invoke the phrase today to fend off a question about his own white supremacist supporters, a CNN reporter threw the term right back in his face.

And so now we’ve reached the point where the mainstream media is actively fighting back against Trump’s lying and bullying tactics by throwing his favorite term “fake news” back into his face. All Trump could do was walk away without answering the question, which has become his go-to move since the Charlottesville terrorist attack sent him into a defensive political tailspin.

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Washington Post, Neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer banned by Go Daddy for disparaging woman who died, Katie Mettler, Aug. 14, 2017. The site hosting service said Daily Stormer had 24 hours to move its website domain to another provider because it had “violated” terms of service with a negative post about Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters.

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Washington Post, Cuccinelli catches flak for telling Symone Sanders to ‘shut up’ on CNN, Laura Vozzella​, Aug. 14, 2017. Virginia's former attorney general and one-time candidate for governor took part in a heated discussion about President Trump’s response to deadly violence in Charlottesville.

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YouTube, Charlottesville Riot Police unlawfully shutdown permitted rally, Clark Canepa, Aug. 14, 2017. (3:08 min.). YouTube, Ruptly, What Really Happened in Charlottesville,  The Leftovers, Aug. 13, 2017. (9:01 min.).

Probes of Trump Campaign's Russian Ties

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Washington Post, Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Aug. 14, 2017. A new batch of communications turned over to congressional committees reveals concerns within the campaign about establishing contacts.

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New York Times, New on This Fall’s Law School Syllabus: Trump, Adam Liptak, Aug. 14, 2017. The president, a one-man course in constitutional arcana, has raised real-world questions for students to ponder on formerly dusty legal doctrines.

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New York Times, U.S. Attorney Candidate for Manhattan: A Canny Mind With Humor, Alan Feuer, Aug. 14, 2017. As President Trump’s top choice to succeed the fired Preet Bharara, Geoffrey S. Berman has a solid résumé but not a “huge presence.”  Mr. Berman, 57, is currently the co-managing shareholder of the New Jersey office of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, and his résumé includes standard entries for someone seeking to lead a sprawling prosecutor’s office that handles a range of terrorism cases, Wall Street prosecutions and general criminal matters.

He received his law degree from Stanford, after which he was a clerk for a judge at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, not too far from Trenton, his hometown. At Greenberg Traurig, Mr. Berman has largely worked on white-collar defense cases, often representing large financial institutions in complex litigation.

Mr. Berman was considered in the spring as a possible nominee for the United States attorney in New Jersey. When his name first surfaced, he was backed by the presidential adviser Jared Kushner, whose family has large real estate holdings in the state, according to several news reports. Mr. Berman also works at Greenberg Traurig with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, although Mr. Giuliani was said at one point to have supported another lawyer at the firm, Marc Mukasey, the son of the former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, for the New York prosecutor’s job.

New Yorker, Trump’s Business of Corruption, Adam Davidson, Aug. 14, 2017 (Aug. 21 Issue). What secrets will Mueller find when he investigates the President’s foreign deals?

New Yorker logoPresident Donald Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow recently told me that the investigation being led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, should focus on one question: whether there was “coördination between the Russian government and people on the Trump campaign.”

Sekulow went on, “I want to be really specific. A real-estate deal would be outside the scope of legitimate inquiry.” If he senses “drift” in Mueller’s investigation, he said, he will warn the special counsel’s office that it is exceeding its mandate. The issue will first be raised “informally,” he noted.

But if Mueller and his team persist, Sekulow said, he might lodge a formal objection with the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who has the power to dismiss Mueller and end the inquiry. President Trump has been more blunt, hinting to the Times that he might fire Mueller if the investigation looks too closely at his business dealings.

GOP Internal Turmoil

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New York Times, Bannon in Limbo as Trump Faces Calls for Strategist’s Ouster, Maggie Haerman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 14, 2017. President Trump has been urged by Rupert Murdoch and others to fire Stephen K. Bannon, his top strategist, who already has been relegated to an internal exile, according to aides.

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Washington Post, Can Jeff Flake survive the role of chief Republican antagonist to Trump? Ed O'Keefe, Aug. 14, 2017 (print edition). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz., shown at right) recently released a book, "Conscience of a Conservative," criticizing the Trump administration and the Republican Party’s embrace of the president. Over two months, Flake has dodged bullets on a baseball field, buried his elderly father and watched one of his political mentors, Sen. John McCain, battle terminal brain cancer. And that was all before he published a book that doubles down on his criticisms of President Trump, which in less than two weeks since its release has once again put him at odds with members of his own party.

The best-selling book may make Flake the most high-profile Republican casualty of the Trump era. Or, he may prove that embracing one’s core principles can still be appealing to voters.  He was already facing a primary challenge from a nationalist who campaigns with sharp-edged, Trump-style bombast when his party launched a revolt against his 160-page critique on the president. On Friday, a Democratic congresswoman who has a sizable campaign war chest also signaled that she is likely to run against Flake. For now, he is laughing off his newfound challenges.

Global News: North Korean Missiles from Ukraine?

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New York Times, North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, Aug. 14, 2017. North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program, according to an expert analysis being published Monday and classified assessments by American intelligence agencies.

The studies may solve the mystery of how North Korea began succeeding so suddenly after a string of fiery missile failures, some of which may have been caused by American sabotage of its supply chains and cyberattacks on its launches. After those failures, the North changed designs and suppliers in the past two years, according to a new study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Such a degree of aid to North Korea from afar would be notable because President Trump has singled out only China as the North’s main source of economic and technological support. He has never blamed Ukraine or Russia, though his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, made an oblique reference to both China and Russia as the nation’s “principal economic enablers” after the North’s most recent ICBM launch last month.

Analysts who studied photographs of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspecting the new rocket motors concluded that they derive from designs that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet. The engines were so powerful that a single missile could hurl 10 thermonuclear warheads between continents.

Those engines were linked to only a few former Soviet sites. Government investigators and experts have focused their inquiries on a missile factory in Dnipro, Ukraine, on the edge of the territory where Russia is fighting a low-level war to break off part of Ukraine. During the Cold War, the factory made the deadliest missiles in the Soviet arsenal, including the giant SS-18. It remained one of Russia’s primary producers of missiles even after Ukraine gained independence.

Global News: Venezuela

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New York Times, Trump’s Threat Against Maduro Unites Latin America, Against U.S., Nicholas Casey, Aug. 14, 2017.  President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela had become a pariah among fellow Latin American leaders as his beleaguered country staggered toward dictatorship. But a threat by President Trump to use the American military against Mr. Maduro’s government has united those leaders in a different direction: demanding that the United States keep out of the region’s affairs.

“The possibility of a military intervention shouldn’t even be considered,” Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, said on Sunday during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the region. “America is a continent of peace. It is the land of peace.”

Mr. Santos’s response to Mr. Trump’s remarks — echoed by many other Latin American leaders in recent days — could endanger a fragile alliance against what many fear is the first dictatorship to emerge in the region in decades, analysts say.

“Threatening military action undermines the strongest Latin American consensus in support of democracy that I have seen since the end of the Pinochet regime,” said Mark L. Schneider, an adviser at the Americas program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, referring to the Chilean military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet.

 

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Syrian government forces and flag (File photo)

SouthFront, Govt-held Area In Syria Grown Significantly Over Two Months, Staff report, Aug. 14, 2017. The area controlled by the Damascus government in Syria has grown by 250 percent over the past two months, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu said on Sunday. Shoigu added that the liberation of the key town of Sukhna in the province of Homs opens an opportunity to lift the ISIS siege from the strategic city of Deir Ezzor.

On Saturday, special operations units from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces carried out a successful air landing operation behind ISIS lines at the administrative border between Homs and Raqqah provinces. Government troops led by Tiger Forces Commander Suheil al-Hassan were transported by 4 Mi-35 attack helicopters to the eastern Raqqah countryside 21km behind the frontline and liberated Khirbet Makman village, Al-Qadir town and Bir Rahum. Government troops are now deployed in only about 40 km from the recently liberated town of Sukhna.

This was the first ever air landing operation conducted by the SAA during the ongoing war. It showed the growing military capabilities of the SAA supported and trained by Russia and Iran.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Recolonization Rears Its Ugly Head, Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), Aug. 14, 2017. Comments made during the Senate confirmation hearing by the Trump administration’s ambassador-designate to the Bahamas evoked memories of the turn of the 19th century United States, one that championed colonialism and imperialism to compete with Europe’s colonial empires.

The Trump administration nominated as US ambassador to the Bahamas a San Diego businessman and early Trump campaign supporter named Doug Manchester. During his confirmation hearing, Manchester called the independent Commonwealth of the Bahamas a US "protectorate."

Contrary to Manchester’s musings, on July 10th of this year, the Bahamas celebrated 44 years of independence from Britain. Manchester sees himself not as an ambassador to an independent nation but as an American "viceroy" lording over a population of nearly 400,000, most inhabitants of Afro-Caribbean descent. Manchester told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, "Well certainly, for all intents and purposes, we believe that it [the Bahamas] is a protectorate."

It is not certain who Manchester was including as «we», but his comments would indicate that he was including Donald Trump, who has had his eye on Bahamas real estate ever since the Atlantis hotel and casino opened on Paradise Island, near Nassau, in 1998.

FCC To Gut Media Merger Regulation To Help Conservative Titan?

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New York Times, How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation, Cecilia Kang, Eric Lipon and Sydney Ember, Aug. 14, 2017. The Sinclair Broadcast Group and the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission see eye-to-eye on the need to unleash television. Both are reaping big rewards. The day before President Trump’s inauguration, the top executive of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest owner of television stations, invited an important guest to the headquarters of the company’s Washington-area ABC affiliate.

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The trip was, in the parlance of the business world, a deal closer. The invitation from David D. Smith, the chairman of Sinclair, went to Ajit V. Pai, a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission who was about to be named the broadcast industry’s chief regulator. Mr. Smith wanted Mr. Pai (shown at right) to ease up on efforts under President Barack Obama to crack down on media consolidation, which were threatening Sinclair’s ambitions to grow even bigger.

Mr. Smith did not have to wait long. Within days of their meeting, Mr. Pai was named chairman of the F.C.C. And during his first 10 days on the job, he relaxed a restriction on television stations’ sharing of advertising revenue and other resources — the exact topic that Mr. Pai discussed with Mr. Smith and one of his business partners, according to records examined by The New York Times.

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“These are invaluable and effective tools, which were taken away by the commission,” according to a summary of their meeting filed with the F.C.C. It was only the beginning. Since becoming chairman in January, Mr. Pai has undertaken a deregulatory blitz, enacting or proposing a wish list of fundamental policy changes advocated by Mr. Smith and his company. Hundreds of pages of emails and other documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a rush of regulatory actions has been carefully aligned with Sinclair’s business objectives.

Courts and Cops

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Washington Post, Jury says Taylor Swift was groped by radio DJ, awards her a symbolic $1 verdict, Emily Yahr, Aug. 14, 2017. The eight-person jury also ruled that Swift's mother and radio representative were not responsible for the Denver country radio host’s loss of his job.

Privacy Whistleblowers

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WhoWhatWhy, Barrett Brown Podcast, Barrett Brown, Aug. 14, 2017. Back in February of this year, WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman spoke with Barrett Brown in one of his first interviews since being released from federal prison. Brown was incarcerated for four years for hacking the private intelligence firm Stratfor. This exploit — for which the hacker group Anonymous took credit — revealed that Stratfor was one of many companies hired to spy on activist groups on behalf of US corporations.

At the time Brown spoke of his plans to once again be active in a number of causes and to make his voice heard. One of the ways he’s now doing that is with a regular podcast on WhoWhyWhy, where he feels at home. Brown told us recently:

“The piece published by WhoWhatWhy in 2013 was the first to provide a comprehensive explanation of what it was that my associates and I had uncovered to prompt one of the most bizarre and draconian criminal investigations in public memory.

Four years later, that article remains the single most comprehensive summary of the private-public intelligence nexus that my Project PM organization documented. Well before the New York Times and its ilk came to understand what my case meant for the country as a whole, WhoWhatWhy had already told the story best.”

In his first podcast, Brown talks to Suzie Dawson, the leader of New Zealand’s Internet Party. Dawson explains that the party is an attempt to modernize the out-of-date politics and political system in New Zealand. To drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

In her view, New Zealand has been converted into a proxy of the United States, and has been subjected to the full weight of the US security state.

Brown speaks next with John Kiriakou, who helped reveal the CIA torture program in 2007. Kiriakou tells Brown he has learned that being a whistleblower is not enough and that more direct activism may be required. This is not to say that whistleblowers can’t have an impact — the revelations of Edward Snowden being the prime example. Kiriakou says that “before Ed Snowden, it was Tom Drake, and Bill Binney, and Jeff Sterling, and me, and Chelsea Manning, but it was really Snowden that made this a national and international issue.”

JFK Assassination Revelations

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President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline and their two children, John and Caroline

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Cox Media Washington, DC Bureau via KIRO-TV, Thousands of secret documents on JFK assassination could be made public, Justin Gray, Aug. 14, 2017. Thousands of top secret documents that could hold never-before-revealed details about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are scheduled to be made public this fall.

But some intelligence agencies are pushing to keep the secret files classified. President Trump will make the final decision about whether to declassify the documents.  If you were alive on Nov. 22,1963, you likely remember where you were.

Even if you were born in the decades after, you've still seen the images and heard about what happened on that tragic day. Now, nearly 55 years later, more than 3,000 documents from the investigation remain locked up inside the national archives. 

“Do you think there could be things in this evidence that dispute the official Warren account?” Gray asked.

“Oh yes,” said Andrew Kreig, with the Justice Integrity Project. By law, all the documents related to the investigation must be unsealed and made public by October.

Just weeks ago, thousands of pages of new documents were released, but it’s unknown what's in the final, still secret, batch.

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JFK Facts, 4 CIA lies: New JFK files show how assassination investigation was controlled, not ‘botched,’ Jefferson Morley, Aug. 14, 2017. The JFK story is back in the news. Under a law passed by Congress in 1992, all of the government’s JFK files had to be released within 25 years, by 2017. The July 24 release was the first in a series of document dumps that National Archives says will take place before October 24, the statutory deadline for full disclosure.

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Politico claims the first batch of new files show “How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder.” In the article, reporter Philip Shenon and professor Larry Sabato revive the theory that Fidel Castro might have been behind the crime.

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The “Castro done it” theory, it is worth noting, was first floated within hours of JFK’s murder — by CIA propaganda assets. The Cuban Student Directorate, a Miami-based organization funded by the agency, published a broadsheet less than 48 hours after JFK’s death, declaring that Oswald and Castro were the “presumed assassins.” The group was funded under a covert program with the code name AMSPELL. A declassified CIA memo shows the group was receiving $51,000 a month (the equivalent of $350,000 today) from the agency at the time of its conspiracy mongering.

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The “botched” investigation of the Warren Commission failed to pick up on the possible Oswald-Castro connection in 1964, Shenon and Sabato say. Only in 1975, they claim, did CIA officials realize that “no one had properly followed up on clues about an especially mysterious chapter in Oswald’s life — a six-day, apparently self-financed trip to Mexico City.” As result of these lapses, they say, Oswald’s ties to Cuban intelligence were never properly investigated.

This is a charitable reading of the new files, as WhoWhatWhy has noted. A more thorough reading of the new records tells a different story: The JFK investigation was not “botched” or “bungled” — it was controlled by two top CIA officials. The new records, available on the National Archives website and searchable in more accessible form at BlackVault.com, document how the CIA misled JFK investigators on four key issues:

1. The agency’s conspiracy in November 1963 to assassinate Fidel Castro.
2. The date CIA personnel first opened a file on Lee Harvey Oswald.
3. What CIA operations officers knew about Oswald’s contacts with an agency-funded anti-Castro group in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.
4. What top officials knew about Oswald’s visit to the Cuban consulate six weeks before the assassination.

Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, Opinion: Be careful what you believe in age of Trump, R.A. Kris Millegan, Aug. 14, 2017. “You’re a conspiracy theorist,” my friend said disparagingly to me. I had told him about some of my research findings based upon information from my father, a former intelligence officer. Now, with the rise of conspiracy-­theorist-in-chief Donald Trump and his apprentice Stephen Bannon (or is it the other way around?), there is plenty to talk about — a golden-age of conspiracy theories.

Many years of study of conspiracy theory lore leads me to suggest that Donald Trump is a co-opted sycophantic con man chucklehead, put in place to further an agenda. The “conspiracy’s” end game: rule the world through China. To do that, America, its institutions and its standing in the world must be destroyed.

Psychological warfare comes from the German term “weltanschauungskrieg,” meaning worldview warfare. So, in this age of Trump, be aware of what your read and hear. And be very, very careful about what you believe.

R.A. Kris Millegan of Springfield is the publisher of TrineDay, whose catalogue includes dozens of books about national and international conspiracies.

Aug. 13

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New York Daily News, Charlottesville crash suspect James Fields brandished shield for Vanguard America hate group before attack, Nicole Hensley, Aug. 13, 2017. James Fields Jr., the maniac driver who police say steered his beloved Dodge Challenger into a crowd of peaceful protesters, had been brandishing a shield emblazoned with a white supremacist emblem just hours before the deadly rampage. The Daily News photographed Fields on the front lines of a volatile rally about 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Charlottesville — flanked by other white men in polo shirts and tan slacks clutching the racially charged black-and-white insignia of the Vanguard America hate group.

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Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Rebecca Sturtevant told The News the logo — two white axes — is a variation of imagery used by the white supremacists and Fields’ outfit is standard among the hate group’s ranks. The Anti-Defamation League depicted Vanguard American as one focused on white identity, but noted that its members have “increasingly demonstrated a neo-Nazi ideology.” 

Indeed, Fields’ Facebook page was peppered with similar alt-right and Nazi imagery — such as Hitler’s baby photo; a tourist shot of the Reichstag in Berlin; and cartoon of Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic frog hijacked by right-wing groups — before it was deactivated around 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Fields, 20, is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. 

Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, titled the page “Conscious Ovis Aries,” using the Latin word for sheep. There was also a picture of him posing with the car that authorities say caused so much mayhem in downtown Charlottesville. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, said she did not know of her son’s apparent involvement in the deadly wreck until late in the day.

Washington Post, Charlottesville victim ‘was there standing up for what was right,’ Ellie Silverman and Michael Laris, Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed when a vehicle plowed into a group of counterprotesters. Authorities said 19 other pedestrians suffered injuries and the driver was charged with second-degree murder.  ​

Palmer Report, In wake of Charlottesville attack, conservative Drudge Report turns against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 13, 2017. Drudge Report has spent the past twenty-plus years prominently pushing the conservative political agenda, and the site has been a major supporter of Donald Trump along the way. As Trump has unraveled in office and his popularity has sunk, there have been a few recent instances of Drudge’s support for Trump seeming to soften. But in the wake of the Charlottesville attack and Trump’s weak response to it, Drudge Report now appears to have turned against Trump entirely.

Here’s what the front-and-center of the Drudge Report home page looks like as of right now. This is the precise opposite of the kind of headline you might expect from the site: 

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Drudge Report is mocking Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan by invoking the “Make America Hate Again” version of it that Trump’s detractors have long been using. This is a remarkable development, in that Drudge is essentially acknowledging the hateful and racist and divisive rhetoric from Trump which led to the deadly Charlottesville terrorist attack. This comes far too late for Drudge to score any points with the anti-Trump crowd, but he’s not worried about them one way or the other. The point is that Drudge is now clearly hedging its bets when it comes to its own conservative audience.

Matt DrudgeMatt Drudge (shown at right) knows his audience. He previously bet that he could score big with them by getting on the Donald Trump train. Now he seems to be betting that an already unraveling Trump will be hurt badly by this latest incident, and that he can score with his own audience by going against Trump. Considering that Drudge’s audience is made up entirely of Republicans and conservatives, this can be interpreted as a sign that there’s now more to be gained on that side of the fence by kicking Trump than by continuing to prop him up.

RT, Kentucky to speed up relocation of Confederate monuments after Charlottesville violence, Staff report, Aug. 13, 2017. The mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, is speeding up the relocation of Confederate statues in the wake of Saturday’s violent clashes and a car-ramming incident in Charlottesville, in neighboring Virginia. On Saturday, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said that Confederate-era symbols – statues of Generals Breckinridge and Hunt Morgan – will be taken down from the historic courthouse in Lexington.

Alaska's Top Newspaper Files for Bankruptcy Protection: Media Around the Nation

Craig Medred, Dispatch in bankruptcy, Aug. 13, 2017. Alice Rogoff is out as the publisher of the Alaska Dispatch News. The Binkleys of Fairbanks and Alaska Media LLC are in, at least for now. And what it means for Alaska journalism is to be decided in Bankruptcy Court. Rogoff’s last act as Alaska’s biggest media mogul was to announce via here newspaper that Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers were filed on Saturday evening. They had been expected after GCI, the Alaska telecommunications company, went to court on Friday demanding she pay nearly $1.4 million in back rent and electric bills due for use of its building and leave the building as she promised three years ago.

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Rogoff in 2014 cut a deal with GCI to sell it the old Anchorage Daily News building on the edge of Mountain View just north of downtown in order to obtain enough cash to complete the financing of her $34 million purchase of the News itself. Advisors told her the newspaper wasn’t worth that much. She wanted it so much she refused to listen and after the purchase refused to make the staff and budget cuts necessary to make the paper financially stable. As a result, it lost a reported $4 million in its first year, and continued to lose money at a similar rate up until about February of this year when Rogoff started saving money by simply not paying her bills. She now appears ready to let her prize go for a tiny fraction of the original cost.

Craig Medred, The Fallacy, Aug. 13, 2017. The Alaska Dispatch News, the 49th state’s largest newspapers and most-visited online news site, is teetering on the edge of financial collapse, and some on the right in one of the nation’s most conservative states are celebrating. “If they hadn’t become a shill for left-wing policies, I’m sure many would still have subscriptions,” opined retired Marine Tom Burton from Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. He echoed the views of many.

There is, no doubt, a sliver of truth to this observation as Dispatch publisher Alice Rogoff would admit if she were up to admitting anything these days. Given that she isn’t, what she once told this reporter will have to stand: “Why do they think I’m so liberal? I’m a Romney Republican.”

Rogoff clearly understood the negatives attached to the L-word in parts of Alaska, but associating herself with a man so widely viewed as part of the American ruling class seems only slightly better. That Rogoff’s behind the scenes political maneuverings and lack of transparency while preaching openness have caused credibility problems for her newspaper that far outweigh issues of political balance or lack thereof cannot be ignored.

As for the product produced by the people under her command, the idea that the newspaper itself was or is some flaming liberal organ is simply wrong. Yes, it often leans left, and the Three Partisans – columnists Charles Wohlforth, Dermot Cole and Shannyn Moore, the She-Ra of slurs – can sometimes make it look far more leftist than the old Anchorage Daily Worker, as critics of the Daily News once called that newspaper.

Palmer Report, Tom Arnold says, “the right people” now have Donald Trump’s racist Apprentice tapes, Bill Palmer, Aug. 13, 2017. During the 2016 election, actor Tom Arnold and others asserted that they’d seen video of Donald Trump saying grotesquely racist things while on the set of The Apprentice. But no one could access the video because it was locked down by a time-limited password, and the matter ended up being largely forgotten. Now, however, Arnold is speaking up about the video and he seems to be offering hope that it’ll surface.

Aug. 12

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Washington Post, 1 dead after car hits crowd during protests amid white nationalist gathering in Va., Joe Heim, Ellie Silverman, T. Rees Shapiro and Emma Brown​, Aug. 12, 2017. A chaotic and violent day turned to tragedy Saturday as hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members — planning to stage what they described as their largest rally in decades to “take America back” — clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and a car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others.

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One woman died and others were hurt when a car hit a crowd in Charlottesville, where white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Klansmen clashed with counterprotesters. The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree murder and other crimes. Later, two state troopers assisting with the unrest died in a helicopter crash. The FBI field office in Richmond and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Virginia said late Saturday that they have opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car crash.

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

In brief remarks at a late-afternoon news conference in New Jersey to discuss veterans’ health care, Trump said he was following the events in Charlottesville closely. “The hate and the division must stop and must stop right now,” Trump said, without specifically mentioning white nationalists or their views. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, a Trump supporter who was in Charlottesville on Saturday, quickly replied. “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” he wrote. Asked by a reporter in New Jersey whether he wanted the support of white nationalists, dozens of whom wore red Make America Great Again hats during the Charlottesville riots, Trump did not respond.

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency shortly before 11 a.m., saying he was “disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence” and blaming “mostly out-of-state protesters.”

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Washington Post, Opinion: Trump babbles in the face of tragedy, Michael Gerson, Aug. 12, 2017. Michael Gerson (shown at right) is a nationally syndicated columnist who was a speechwriter for GOP President George W. Bush. One of the difficult but primary duties of the modern presidency is to speak for the nation in times of tragedy. A space shuttle explodes. An elementary school is attacked. The twin towers come down in a heap of ash and twisted steel. It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul — grief for the lost, sympathy for the suffering, moral clarity in the midst of confusion, confidence in the unknowable purposes of God.

Not every president does this equally well. But none have been incapable. Until Donald Trump. Trump’s reaction to events in Charlottesville was alternately trite (“come together as one”), infantile (“very, very sad”) and meaningless (“we want to study it”). “There are so many great things happening in our country,” he said, on a day when racial violence took a life.

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Washington Post, Trump condemns ‘egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,’ John Wagner and Jenna Johnson​, Aug. 12, 2017. The president ignored shouted questions from reporters about what he thought of the white nationalists at the event who said they supported him and were inspired by his campaign.

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Raw Story, ‘The f*cking Jew-lovers are gassing us!’: Nazi Charlottesville marcher drops F-bomb live on Fox News, David Ferguson, Aug. 12, 2017. Fox News reporter Doug McKelway got more than he bargained for on Saturday when he attempted to interview a group of pro-Nazi marchers at the “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville, VA. McKelway seemed shocked that the right-wing marchers who showed up in vintage Nazi helmets, armed with brass knuckles and carrying shields weren’t interested in having an intellectual conversation about the role of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in U.S. history.

“Nobody’s having any sort of political discussions here,” McKelway said. “No one’s having any intellectual discussions or historical discussions about the significance of Robert E. Lee or the Confederate flag or anything.” “They’re just angry,” he said, “and demonstrating it here. Let’s see if we can talk to some of these guys.” He approached a group of helmeted, shield-carrying men and asked where they were headed.

“We’re trying to survive,” one said melodramatically. “They’re gassing us!” said another in reference to police tear gas being used to disperse the protesters. “The f*cking Jew-lovers are gassing us!”

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White Nationalists March In Charlottesville Torchlight Parade

Inside Trump White House

Axios, Trump suspects Bannon of leaking, putting job in jeopardy, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 12, 2017. President Trump has told close associates that he believes Steve Bannon is behind damaging leaks about White House colleagues, putting the chief strategist's job in fresh jeopardy, sources close to the president tell me.

Trump has told associates he's fed up with what he sees as self-promotion by Bannon, who did not join the core team this week at the president's golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Bannon's time with Trump has diminished since the new chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, took over and imposed discipline on the circus around the Oval Office. Bannon declined to comment.

Why it matters: POTUS has been frustrated with Bannon in the past, but he never had as easy a vehicle for getting rid of him. Kelly is expected to make West Wing changes, anyway. As one top aide said: "Kelly can do the dirty work."

Global News

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Washington Post, What will North Korean leader Kim Jong Un do? Even the experts don’t know, Anna Fifield, Aug. 12, 2017. If North Korea goes ahead with its threat to fire ballistic missiles toward the American territory of Guam, the order will come from none other than Kim Jong Un himself. The regime has a history of making bellicose threats that it cannot or does not make good on. This may well be one of those cases. Or it might not.

CNN, 7 White Helmets rescuers shot dead in Syria gun attack, Eyad Kourdi and Angela Dewan, Aug. 12, 2017. Seven members of the White Helmets rescue group were shot dead Saturday by unidentified gunmen who stormed the volunteers' office in northwestern Syria, the group and opposition activists said. The attackers also stole two vans, helmets and walkie-talkies, according to a statement from the group, which is formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense.

The Aleppo Media Center activist group also said seven volunteers were killed in an attack -- and posted video and photos of their funeral. A procession of mostly men carried the dead to be buried, the images show. Many of the mourners wore the White Helmets badge and broke down in tears.

The attack occurred in the city of Sarmin in Idlib province, which last month came mostly under the control of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a coalition of Salafi jihadist groups that includes Fateh al-Sham. The latter group had been known as Jabhat al-Nusra before renouncing its ties to al Qaeda. Idlib, one of the last Syrian provinces still beyond regime control, has been experiencing spikes in violence.

After the Syrian government -- with the help of Russian air power -- regained control of the key city of Aleppo last year, masses of opposition rebels were bused to Idlib as part of a people-swap agreement.

The Spy Who Loved Her

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Washington Post, Mistress and muse of James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, dies at 104, Matt Schudel, Aug. 12, 2017. Blanche Blackwell’s romantic life inspired one of Noël Coward’s plays about an upper-crust love triangle, and swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn wanted to marry her. She was a member of one of Jamaica’s richest families but was best known as the mistress and muse of Ian Fleming, the rakish author who was the creator of James Bond.

Mrs. Blackwell died Aug. 8 in London at 104. Vivacious and outdoorsy, Mrs. Blackwell was known for her bright smile and casual allure. She first met Flynn — “a gorgeous god,” in her words — in the 1940s, during one of his Jamaican vacations. She lived long enough to give business advice to U2’s Bono, whose career was launched by her son, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records.

Aug. 11

Korean Crisis

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New York Times, Trump Warns North Korea: U.S. Is ‘Locked and Loaded,’ Peter Baker, Aug. 11, 2017. For the third time in a week, President Trump suggested he was ready to strike the small, isolated Asian country that has been developing nuclear weapons.
As a practical matter, Mr. Trump’s comment does not necessarily indicate a change in military readiness or any imminent action.

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New York Times, Even the Most Precise Strike Could Prompt Retaliation, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, Aug. 11, 2017. A limited action, like knocking out a missile before it launches, could set off a spiral of escalation.

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Washington Post, China warns North Korea: You’re on your own if you go after the United States, Simon Denyer, Aug. 11, 2017. China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first. The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy and can be considered “semiofficial,” experts said.

China FlagChina has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that suggestion Friday. “The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

The Atlantic, How America Went Haywire, Kurt Anderson, Aug. 11, 2017 (September issue). The term American exceptionalism refers to the notion that the force of the American idea, along with the force of American arms, combine to make the United States the indispensable global defender of freedom and progress. Only Americans could have defeated fascism and Soviet Communism in a span of 50 years; only Americans, fueled by faith in the inexorable, universal rightness of their national creed, could successfully lead a global network of free and thriving democracies across a century.

But in a cover story this month, Kurt Andersen argues that Americans are exceptional in other ways as well: We are, as a people, unusually susceptible to fantastical beliefs, implausible schemes, and visions of heavenly and earthly utopias. Our weakness for the improbable and the incredible makes our country a fountainhead of invention and idealism. It also turns us into easy marks for grifters and charlatans.

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Washington Post, Trump won’t ‘rule out a military option’ in Venezuela, Jenna Johnson and John Wagner, Aug. 11, 2017. President Trump said Friday that he is “not going to rule out a military option” to confront the autocratic government of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro and the deepening crisis in the South American country. When asked by a reporter whether this military option would be led by the United States, Trump responded: “We don't talk about it, but a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”

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Venezuela is edging toward the economic brink after an internationally condemned election last month created an all-powerful legislature loyal to Maduro. The government is sharply intensifying its crackdown on dissent, issuing arrest warrants for rebellious mayors, targeting unfriendly politicians and menacing average citizens who speak their minds.

Since the July 30 vote, the value of the local currency, the bolívar, has fluctuated more wildly than ever, a significant feat for a country saddled with the world’s highest inflation rate. As a result, street prices for staples such as bread and tomatoes have doubled in less than two weeks. New estimates from the large Venezuelan data firm Ecoanalítica suggest that the economy could shrink 10.4 percent this year, exacerbating a four-year nose dive that some economists already call worse than the United States’ Great Depression.

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The president's aggressive approach rattled Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "No. Congress obviously isn't authorizing war in Venezuela," Sasse (shown at right) said in a statement late Friday. "Nicolas Maduro is a horrible human being, but Congress doesn’t vote to spill Nebraskans' blood based on who the Executive lashes out at today.

GOP Domestic Agendas, Infighting

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Washington Post, Congress will have 12 working days to prevent a government shutdown, Kelsey Snell​, Aug. 11, 2017. When lawmakers return in September, the House will also have just 12 legislative days to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid default. And Republicans will probably have to turn to Democrats for results.

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Washington Post, At raucous town halls, Republicans have faced another round of anger over health care, David Weigel​, Aug. 11, 2017. Republicans had hoped to begin a conversation about tax reform and must-pass budget measures. Instead, they’ve faced constituents still focused on the stalled effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Courts and Cops: Huge Judgment for 'False" Rape Claim

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Washington Post, Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she accused of rape, Tom Jackman, Aug. 11, 2017. Col. David “Wil” Riggins, after a highly decorated Army career that included multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on the verge of promotion to brigadier general in July 2013 when he got a phone call at the Pentagon from the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division to come in for a meeting. Once there, he learned that a blogger in Washington state had just accused him of raping her, when both were cadets at West Point in 1986. An investigation was underway.

Riggins waived his right to an attorney and immediately gave a statement denying any sexual assault of the woman, Susan Shannon of Everett, Wash. Shannon also cooperated with the CID investigation, which could not “prove or disprove Ms. Shannon’s allegation she was raped,” the CID report concluded. But in the spring of 2014, with the armed forces facing heavy criticism for their handling of sexual assault cases, Secretary of the Army John McHugh recommended removing Riggins from the list for promotion to general. Riggins promptly retired.

Trump White House & The Media

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New York Times, White House Aide Causes Uproar at Journalism Event, Yamiche Alcindor, Aug. 11, 2017. Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s appearance at a gathering of black journalists devolved into a shouting match after she refused to discuss President Trump’s remarks endorsing harsh police tactics. The appearance of Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a White House aide shown at right in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, caused an uproar at a National Association of Black Journalists convention on Friday after she refused to answer some questions about President Trump’s recent remarks encouraging the police to be rougher while arresting criminal suspects.

Ms. Manigault-Newman, whose role in the Trump administration as an advocate on issues concerning African-Americans was also scrutinized, appeared at the annual gathering for a panel that was called “Black and Blue: Raising Our Sons, Protecting Our Communities.” It was moderated by a longtime journalist, Ed Gordon, a host at Bounce TV. The event began cordially, but within minutes, it devolved into a shouting match between Ms. Manigault-Newman and Mr. Gordon. She interrupted him, accusing him several times of attacking her as Mr. Gordon pressed for answers about her role in the Trump administration and changes to criminal justice policies under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In one of the tensest exchanges, Ms. Manigault-Newman said, “Shame on you,” to Mr. Gordon. He replied, in part, “So here’s what you’re not gonna do,” before explaining that he would not let her “railroad” the event. The panel started with Ms. Manigault-Newman answering a question about the deaths of her father and brother to violence in Ohio. She said she understood the pain of losing a family member and that she was dismayed by accusations that she does not sympathize with families whose loved ones have been killed by the police.

Ms. Manigault-Newman is the director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison. She also noted that in her role, she is often the “only African-American representative” in the White House and frequently tries to be an advocate on behalf of black people. But the discussion quickly worsened from there. It became a 25-minute argument during which Ms. Manigault-Newman called Mr. Gordon “aggressive,” with Mr. Gordon pointedly asking what effect Ms. Manigault-Newman had made on the president.

Mother Jones Magazine, Trump Has Been Thinking About Nuclear War for Decades. Here's Why That's Scary, David Corn, Aug. 11, 2017.
It’s been quite some time since Americans — and citizens of other nations — had to worry about nuclear war during their daily lives. But it has taken just a few tweets and a couple of utterances from President Donald Trump to remind people that the planet can be turned into ashes by the act of one man.

In a 1984 interview with the Washington Post, Trump, then merely a 38-year-old celebrity developer, shared his fantasies: He was hoping to build the  “greatest hotel in the world” and construct the world’s “tallest” building in New York City — and one day become the United States’ chief negotiator with the Soviet Union for nuclear weapons. In between boasts of how rich and famous he was, Trump declared that he could negotiate a great nuclear arms deal with Moscow and said he wanted to head the US arms negotiating squad. “He says he has never acted on his nuclear concern,” the newspaper reported. “But he says that his good friend Roy Cohn, the flamboyant Republican lawyer, has told him this interview is a perfect time to start.”

Aug. 10

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Washington Post, Trump escalates rhetoric on North Korea’s nuclear program, Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung​, Aug. 10, 2017. The president said that his "fire and fury" threat to North Korea may not have been tough enough and that “things will happen to them like they never thought possible” should the isolated country attack the United States or its allies.

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President Trump (shown on the current Newsweek cover) escalated his rhetoric about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, threatening here Thursday that “things will happen to them like they never thought possible” should the isolated country attack the United States or its allies.

Trump told reporters that his Tuesday statement warning of “fire and fury” may not have been “tough enough,” but even as he stepped up his brinksmanship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the president sought to reassure anxious people around the world that he has the situation under control.

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Washington Post, China urges North Korea to stop missile tests, Simon Denyer, Aug. 10, 2017. China's foreign minister said new U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea were the right response to a series of missile tests. To many Americans, China bears a huge responsibility for the North Korea crisis because of its failure to rein in its volatile ally in Pyongyang.

China FlagBut in Beijing, the view is different. Here, a large slice of the blame goes to Washington, because of its consistently hostile attitude toward North Korea — a stance that China argues has only encouraged the regime to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. Trump’s rhetoric gave China the perfect platform to project itself as the voice of reason — especially as it had just agreed to join the world in stiffening sanctions against North Korea.

DC 'Swamp' Intrigues, Bombast

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New York Times, New Jab, Trump Says McConnell Perhaps Should Quit, Matt Flegenheimer, Aug. 10, 2017. For days, Mr. Trump has trained his fire on Mr. McConnell, venting on Twitter about the Senate majority leader’s inability to get a health care repeal bill passed. President Trump on Thursday sharply escalated his criticism of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, raising the possibility that Mr. McConnell should perhaps relinquish his position if he cannot deliver on signature legislative priorities.

For days, Mr. Trump has trained his fire on Mr. McConnell, venting on Twitter about the Senate’s inability to pass a health care repeal bill before lawmakers left for the August recess. Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon outside his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump was asked if Mr. McConnell should consider stepping down.

Daily Beast, The ‘No-Nonsense’ Judge Who Could Decide Trump’s Fate, Betsy Woodruff, Aug. 10, 2017. Judge Beryl Howell might be on her way from behind-the-scenes player to household name. Robert Mueller may be the face of the independent investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, but a cybersecurity wonk on the federal bench may help decide Trump & Co.’s fate.

Behind the scenes, Beryl Howell is in a position to make pivotal decisions. And her importance could only grow. Federal court rules indicate that she signed off on Mueller’s request to assemble a grand jury, a highly secretive gathering of about two dozen people in Washington’s E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse that will grill witnesses and demand Trump associates’ documents.

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New York Times, Trump Thanks Putin on U.S. Expulsions: We’ll Save Money, Peter Baker, President Trump kept to his habit of not criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after the Kremlin forced the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to cut its staff by 755 people.

Haaretz (Israel), The 'Alt-right' Plot Against McMaster, Spurred by Its Jewish Fellow Travelers, Dov S. Zakheim, Aug. 10, 2017. Dov S. Zakheim was Under Secretary of Defense (2001-2004) and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (1985-87). If ever there was a ménage à trois made in hell, it is the one between Steve Bannon, Mort Klein and Caroline Glick. The recent Breitbart News “scoop,” headlined “Exclusive – Zionist Organization of America Analysis Determines McMaster Hostile to Trump, Calls for Reassignment,” is the latest indication of the unholy alliance between the so-called alt-right and extreme Zionists that seeks to oust U.S. National Security Advisor General H. R. McMaster.

Breitbart reported that ZOA, “backed in large part by Trump ally GOP mega-donor and Israel defender Sheldon Adelson, is calling for President Trump at the very least to reassign McMaster to a different administration position where he can do no more harm to Israel and efforts to battle radical Islamic terrorism.” Breitbart added that the ZOA’s critique, articulated by its long-time president Mort Klein, “was provided to Breitbart News exclusively ahead of its public release.”

Breitbart reported that ZOA, “backed in large part by Trump ally GOP mega-donor and Israel defender Sheldon Adelson, is calling for President Trump at the very least to reassign McMaster to a different administration position where he can do no more harm to Israel and efforts to battle radical Islamic terrorism.” McMaster had Bannon removed from the committee. McMaster has also undertaken the systematic purge of several of Flynn’s more extreme and less competent assistants, which has outraged Klein and Glick. 

Trumps Cash In

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Washington Post, Trump D.C. hotel turns $2 million profit in four months, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 10, 2017. The figure dramatically beat the Trump Organization's expectations and gave the first hard number to critics who charge that Trump is profiting from his presidency.

Setbacks For Trump Media Defenders

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Washington Post, Ex-Trump staffers confirm they have a son but offer different accounts, Emily Heil, Aug. 10, 2017. Jason Miller and A.J. Delgado on Wednesday confirmed the birth of their son, but the former campaign staffers to President Trump offered differing accounts of their relationship to a New York tabloid and on Twitter. Miller, who was named White House communications director during the presidential transition — and who is married to another woman — confirmed the birth of son William to the New York Post, which reported that the child was the result of a campaign fling with Delgado.

Miller, a frequent defender of Trump as a CNN commentator, told the tab that his wife has accepted the child. The couple have two children of their own, including a daughter born in January. “My wife and I, along with our two daughters, are excited to welcome William into the world and into our family, and we appreciate the well wishes we’ve received from so many,” Miller told the New York Post.

So all’s happy, right? Maybe not. Delgado, 40,  a Trump adviser and member of the transition team, swiftly clapped back on Twitter, saying she and Miller had dated for two months and that Miller had told her he was separated from his wife. She also disputed Miller’s statement. “I’m not sure what Jason means that he and his wife are excited to welcome Will. Really? News to me.”

The Hill, CNN cuts ties with Jeffrey Lord after 'Sieg Heil' tweet, Josh Delk and Joe Concha, CNN is reporting that it has severed ties with commentator Jeffery Lord on Thursday after he tweeted “Sieg Heil!” at a liberal activist on Twitter. Lord, a columnist for conservative magazine The American Spectator, tweeted the Nazi victory salute at Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal group Media Matters for America. “Nazi salutes are indefensible,” a CNN spokesperson said, according to the network. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.”

The controversial tweet by Lord gained attention after several publications reported it and Carusone took a screenshot and tweeted it at CNN, asking for the network to comment on “on air talent issuing (in serious and non-ironic way) Nazi victory salutes.” In the opinion piece that eventually led to his ouster from CNN, Lord took issue with a Media Matters campaign to get Fox's Sean Hannity fired from his network.

McClatchy, Kushner fined for late financial report, Anita Kumar and Ben Wieder, Aug. 10, 2017. Jared Kushner (shown at right), who has spent months divesting pieces of his vast business empire to serve in the White House, was slapped with a fine by the Office of Government Ethics for late reporting of a financial transaction, according to a newly released document.

Reince Priebus (Gage Skidmore)Another 17 White House staffers, including some of President Donald Trump’s top aides, filed their required personal financial disclosure statements late, according to data compiled by American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research group, and confirmed by McClatchy.

Reince Priebus (shown above at left), who served as chief of staff until recently, was four days late. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was 23 days late. And Omarosa Manigault, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, received a 32-day extension but still missed her deadline by eight days.

Attack On U.S. Diplomats In Cuba?

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Washington Post, U.S. investigates whether diplomats in Cuba were victims of an attack by a ‘covert sonic weapon,’ Anne Gearan, Aug. 10, 2017. A U.S. official confirmed that embassy employees suffered hearing damage and neurological symptoms that remain unexplained.

Global News

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Cold War Roots of a New Korean War, Jacob G. Hornberger, Aug. 10, 2017. While President Trump’s impulsiveness and erratic behavior is clearly bringing America closer to war with North Korea, the real root of the Korean crisis lies not with him but rather with the Pentagon and the CIA, whose overwhelming power within the federal governmental structure is what really governs foreign policy, especially with respect to Korea.

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Who would have ever thought that the national-security state’s anti-communist crusade in the 1940s and 1950s would lead to the possibility of another war in Korea in 2017, one that could lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including tens of thousands of Americans?

Yet, that is precisely what has happened. Almost 70 years ago, the U.S. government intervened in the Korean civil war. It was a violent intervention that tremendously increased the death toll and destruction in both North Korea and South Korea. In North Korea, U.S. forces bombers carpet-bombed the entire nation, destroying not only cities but also rural villages. While Americans call the Korean War the “Forgotten War,” the North Koreans don’t. They have never forgotten the massive death and destruction that the Pentagon and the CIA intentionally wreaked on their nation.

Under what legal authority did the Pentagon and the CIA intervene in the Korean civil war? No legal authority whatsoever. The U.S. Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war before the president can legally wage war against another nation. President Truman, who ordered U.S. troops into Korea, did not secure that declaration of war. Instead of going to Congress, where America’s elected representatives are, he went to the United Nations, which is composed of unelected bureaucrats from foreign nations. Truman secured the permission of those unelected bureaucrats to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in a foreign war thousands of miles away.

Needless to say, U.S. troops obeyed Truman’s order, notwithstanding the oaths they had all taken to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.

To make their moral case to the American people for intervening in Korea, Truman, the Pentagon, and the CIA, along with other U.S. officials, claimed that there was a vast communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that supposedly was based in Moscow, Russia. The civil war in Korea was a step by the communists to further that conspiracy, they said. If the United States didn’t stop the Reds in Korea, it wouldn’t be long, U.S. officials maintained, before they came to America and turned our nation Red.

Aug. 9Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort, shown in a file photo when he was chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, is a focus of a special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election

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Washington Post, FBI raided ex-Trump campaign chairman’s home for Russia probe, Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Aug. 9, 2017. FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee. The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (shown at left) departed the home with various records.

Justice Department log circularThe raid came as Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

Palmer Report, MSNBC analyst: Robert Mueller already has Donald Trump’s tax returns, Bill Palmer, Aug. 9, 2017. Today we all learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had the FBI launch a pre-dawn raid on Paul Manafort’s home in order to seize evidence in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal – while Manafort was asleep in the bedroom (link). This points to Mueller taking the most aggressive approach possible in the Trump-Russia probe. Now one MSNBC analyst is asserting that Mueller already has Trump’s tax returns.

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Matthew Miller, a frequent on-air Justice and Security Analyst on MSNBC, put it this way after the details surfaced of the Manafort raid: “Every sign we’ve seen to date shows Mueller moving very aggressively. Think it’s safe to assume he’s already gotten Trump’s tax returns.” And it’s easy to agree with his assertion. Today’s news, combined with the recent news that Mueller has had a Trump-Russia grand jury underway for weeks and it’s already issuing subpoenas, makes clear that he’s pulling no punches.

It also points to another crucial aspect of Mueller’s strategy. News of the Trump-Russia grand jury didn’t leak out until after the first round of subpoenas had gone out, which was weeks after the grand jury had first been impaneled. The FBI raid on Paul Manafort’s home, which was overseen by Mueller, involved the agents getting as far as Manafort’s bedroom door before waking him up. And so Mueller is quietly taking aggressive action, while also using the element of surprise to catch everyone involved in the Trump-Russia scandal off guard.

Pogo LogoProject on Government Oversight, Watchdog: Significant Concerns Regarding Drinking Water Safety at Navy Bases Overseas, Mandy Smithberger, Aug. 9, 2017. A 2013 investigation by the Navy Inspector General (Navy IG) reveals shortfalls in the oversight and management of drinking water for Navy personnel stationed overseas — even in wealthy, developed countries. The previously unreleased report, obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), concludes that “not a single Navy overseas drinking water system meets U.S. compliance standards” or the Navy’s own governing standards.

The Navy IG’s investigation found that One-Day Assessments were being used as the primary tool to determine whether water was safe to drink, and that such tests were “insufficient to verify the range and scope of compliance deficiencies, [or] water quality issues.” Relying on those assessments “created a very high risk for the Navy” (emphasis in original).

If our Navy overseas installations were operated in the United States, selective use of “health risk assessments” to circumvent drinking water standards/regulations and indifference to public health deficiencies would constitute knowing and willful violation of U.S. law. Unlike facilities in the continental United States, Navy installations overseas were not required to submit operational records or logs to review compliance with water standards. Additionally, the IG found that the sanitary surveys used were “not always independent.”

Korean Crisis

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New York Times, Trump’s Threat of ‘Fire and Fury’ Raises Alarm in Asia, Steven Lee Myers and Choe Sang-Hun, Aug. 9, 2017. President Trump’s warning to Pyongyang sent a shudder through Asia on Wednesday. Some took Mr. Trump’s remark as posturing, but others said the danger of war had not seemed as clear and present in decades.

President Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea sent a shudder through Asia on Wednesday, raising alarm among allies and adversaries and, to some observers, making the possibility of military conflict over the North’s nuclear program seem more real.

With North Korea responding that it would, if attacked, strike American military forces in Guam, analysts warned that the escalating statements increased the likelihood of war — perhaps one based on miscalculation, should one side’s fiery rhetoric be misread by the other. Some played down Mr. Trump’s remark on Tuesday as simply a warning not to attack the United States, albeit one whose tone was more typical of North Korean propagandists than it was of past American presidents. Officials in South Korea and Japan said that while the situation was tense, it had not reached a crisis point.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson (shown at right) played down any imminent threat from North Korea, saying on Wednesday, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.”

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Washington Post, Trump’s threats to North Korea were spontaneous and not drafted by advisers, officials say, Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung​, Aug. 9, 2017. The president had discussed escalating his rhetoric with chief of staff John F. Kelly and other advisers, but his warning of "fire and fury" was unscripted, according to officials with knowledge of the situation.

Politics Around the Nation

Legal Schnauzer, Why has Alabama political pipeline produced such awful candidates for Senate special election? That question can be answered with two words: Karl Rove, Roger Shuler, Aug. 9, 2017. The primaries in Alabama's special election for the U.S. Senate are less than a week away (next Tuesday, August 15), and a member of the mainstream media (MSM) is complaining about the poor slate of candidates from both parties. That's ironic because the MSM has a lot to do with the dismal political climate in Alabama. Kyle Whitmire, of al.com, wrote a piece yesterday, titled "What's Wrong With Alabama's Political Pipeline?" Whitmire's been around long enough to know the answer to that question is easy; it can be summed up in two words -- "Karl Rove."

Aug. 8

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Daily Mail, North Korea threatens Guam: Pyongyang declares Kim Jong-un is 'carefully examining' plan to strike US Pacific military bases after Trump's ferocious 'fire and fury' warning falls on deaf ears, Francesca Chambers and Regina F. Graham, Aug. 8, 2017. North Korea said it is 'carefully examining' a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after President Donald Trump told the country that any threat to the U.S. would be met with 'fire and fury.'

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A spokesman for the Korean People's Army, in a statement carried by the North's state-run KCNA news agency, said Wednesday the strike plan will be 'put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment' once leader Kim Jong Un (shown at right) makes a decision.

Guam, which is roughly 2,128 miles from North Korea, is home to both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam housing thousands of American service members and their families. Roughly 28 percent of the island is occupied by the U.S. military. The base houses bomber assurance and deterrence missions, including six B-52s which the air force says provide 'strategic global strike capability [to] deter potential adversaries and provide reassurance to allies' and that they are ready to go. In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the U.S. showed signs of provocation.

Earlier Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a 'severe lesson' with its strategic nuclear force in response to any U.S. military action. The statement from the North comes after Trump told the country's leader Tuesday that additional threats of violence against the U.S. 'will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen.'

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The Pentagon overlooking the skyline in Washington, DC

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New York Times, Trump Warns North Korea of ‘Fire and Fury’ If Threatened, Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun, Aug. 8, 2017. President Trump threatened on Tuesday to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangers the United States as tensions with the isolated nuclear-armed state grow into perhaps the most serious foreign policy challenge yet in his young administration.

American Flag“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

The president’s comments came as North Korea earlier in the day escalated its criticism of the United States, as well as its neighboring allies, by warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation against the latest round of United Nations sanctions.

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The statement, carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, was the strongest indication yet that the country could conduct another nuclear or missile test, as it had often done in response to past United Nations sanctions. Until now, the North’s response to the latest sanctions had been limited.

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Kim Jong-un, shown above in a file photo, is the Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly referred to as North Korea.

Roll Call, Cautious Congressional Response to Trump‘s ‘Fire and Fury’ With North Korea, Niels Lesniewski, Aug. 8, 2017. President Donald Trump’s warning of “fire and fury” in response to additional provocations by North Korea is not being received lightly by senior lawmakers. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said Tuesday at his golf club in Bedminster Township, N.J., according to the White House pool covering Trump. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

John McCainSenate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (shown at right) thought the language might be ill-advised, particularly since carrying out a strike on North Korea could lead to significant destruction in South Korea. The Arizona Republican signaled he would prefer the “speak softly and carry a big stick” of President Theodore Roosevelt. “I take exception to the president’s comments because you’ve gotta be sure you can do what you say you can do,” McCain said on KTAR radio.

Dianne FeinsteinSen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat shown at left, said that efforts to isolate Pyongyang have not worked, and she called for direct talks with the regime. “The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions. Hopefully, Secretary [of State Rex Tillerson] is already discussing the possibility of reopening talks with our Asian partners during his current trip. In my view, diplomacy is the only sound path forward,” said Feinstein, a former chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Washington Post, North Korea making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say, Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Anna Fifield​, Aug. 8, 2017. North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.

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The analysis completed by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes after another assessment that raised the estimate for the number of bombs in the country’s atomic arsenal. North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.

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The new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.

The findings are likely to deepen concerns about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. U.S. officials last month concluded that Pyongyang is also outpacing expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking cities on the American mainland.

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Climate Change

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Washington Post, A federal climate report counters the Trump administration’s views. The White House is reviewing, Steven Mufson, Aug. 8, 2017 print edition). Many scientists view the draft report — which finds a strong link between climate change and human activity — as a test of the new administration’s attitude toward science in general. A climate report based on work conducted by scientists in 13 federal agencies is under active review at the White House, and its conclusions about the far-reaching damage already occurring from global warming are at odds with the Trump administration’s views.

The report, known as the Climate Science Special Report, finds it is “extremely likely” that more than half of the rise in temperatures over the past four decades has been caused by human activity — in contrast to Trump Cabinet members’ views that the magnitude of that contribution is uncertain.

Trump Popularity

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Amid the dumbest vacation of all time, Donald Trump’s approval rating just fell to another all new all time low, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2017. When the going gets tough, Donald Trump goes and hides in New Jersey and makes everything even worse for himself. Okay, so maybe that’s not quite how the classic phrase goes, but at this point society is just winging it anyway. And now that Trump is taking out his frustrations on poorly aimed golf balls instead of fighting for what little remains of his political life, a new major poll says that his approval rating just hit another all time low.

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Forget about the other day when Quinnipiac pegged Donald Trump’s approval rating at an all time low of 33% (link), because that’s already old news. Today the IBD/TIPP poll from Investors Business Daily has Trump pegged even lower at 32% (link). As long as polling has existed, this kind of thing has never happened to a new president this early on. We’re in uncharted territory. And there’s every reason to believe it’ll continue to get worse imminently.

Global News

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Washington Post, Kenya’s president takes strong lead in election count as opposition claims results hacked, Kevin Sieff, Aug. 9, 2017. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (shown below) took what appeared to be an unassailable lead Wednesday in his bid for reelection, even as his opponent called the results fraudulent, raising fears of political violence after a bitterly contested race. With 93 percent of the votes counted, Kenyatta led with about 54 percent, far ahead of opposition leader Raila Odinga at about 45 percent, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

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But Odinga called the results of Tuesday’s election “a complete fraud,” outlining an elaborate hacking scheme that he said significantly manipulated the outcome. According to Odinga, a hacker used the login information of a top election official, Chris Msando, who was mysteriously killed last month, to enter the country’s electoral database. He told his supporters not to accept Kenyatta’s reelection.

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New York Times, Israel Imagines Life After Netanyahu as Inquiries Intensify, Isabel Kershner, Aug. 8, 2017. As an ex-aide turns state’s witness, Israelis across the spectrum are trying on the idea of the curtain coming down on the career of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now, with one of Mr. Netanyahu’s closest former aides having turned state’s witness in two cases involving suspicions of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, Israelis across the political spectrum are trying on the idea of the curtain coming down on Mr. Netanyahu’s durable political career.

For the past eight years, Mr. Netanyahu has dominated the Israeli political scene and become nearly synonymous with the state on the world stage. Long called “the magician” for his survival skills, he has quashed rivals from right and left despite never enjoying particular popularity in the street. Yet Mr. Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister since Israel’s first, David Ben-Gurion, suddenly appears not so invincible after all.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s Knowledge of Lebanese Situation Is Non-Existent, Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), Aug. 8, 2017. U.S. President Trump, hobbled by a two-minute attention span, demonstrated his utter lack of knowledge about the political situation in Lebanon during a recent visit to the White House of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. During a press conference outside the White House, Trump opened his remarks by stating to an astonished Hariri and the viewing Lebanese television audience, "Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah."

Trump was correct that Lebanon is battling the Islamic State and Al Qaeda but is doing so with the assistance of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’a movement with which Hariri’s government maintains a fragile but maturing political accommodation. Following his meeting and news conference with Trump, Hariri was forced to correct the record in order not to face a government collapse back in Beirut.

Donald Trump

Palmer Report, More Donald Trump administration freefall as Nikki Haley’s staffers begin resigning, Bill Palmer, Aug. 9, 2017.  The administration has been besieged in recent weeks by resignations, firings, and controversial departures. That’s included the Chief of Staff, Communications Director, Press Secretary, and three members of the National Security Council, among others. But now it turns out there’s major chaos in another corner of the Trump administration as well.

In recent weeks it’s seemed that Trump’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has become increasingly agitated in her role. At one point she said that she was done talking about North Korea, and after Trump posted classified information Twitter this week, she refused comment (link). And it turns out that agitation may be boiling over into her office. According to political reporter Laura Rozen‏ (link), Haley’s spokesperson Jonathan Wachtel has now resigned, and her Chief of Staff is also leaving. This in turn raises the question of whether Nikki Haley herself may be on her way out.

JFK Assassination Revelations

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WhoWhatWhy, Politico’s Challenge to JFK Orthodoxy That Isn’t, Staff report, Aug. 8, 2017. Politico Magazine featured an article that appeared to question the official narrative of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — that he was killed by a lone-nut — but in the end only supported it. Why does mainstream media refuse to recognize any evidence to the contrary?

For a fascinating example of disinformation, mainstream-media style, consider this story in Politico Magazine, How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder by Philip Shenon and Larry J. Sabato.

Those familiar with the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are aware that the official story pronounced by the Warren Commission — the first official government investigation into Kennedy’s murder — was that lone-wolf Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year old ex-Marine with a curious past, shot the president from the 6th floor window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository building in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.

Although in the 1970s a second government investigation — the House Select Committee on Assassinations — concluded that the murder was the result of a probable conspiracy, the official line out of Washington, D.C., and nearly every mainstream news organization since that day in November, has been to parrot the Warren Commission. Oswald acted alone — although the idea of involvement of Castro and Russia is often hinted at.

John F. Kennedy side profile

Future of Freedom Foundation, Figuring Out the Kennedy Assassination, Part 2, Jacob G. Hornberger, Aug. 8, 2017. (Part I here.) The official story of the Kennedy assassination is that he was killed by a former U.S. Marine, lone-nut, communist assassin named Lee Harvey Oswald. The big problem, however, is that the official story has never comported with much of the circumstantial evidence in the case nor with common sense, reason, and logic. That’s why no one has ever been able to come up with a credible motive for Oswald to kill Kennedy.

As I pointed out in Part 1, by the time he was assassinated Kennedy was ending the Cold War against the communist world and had announced his intention for America to live in peace, friendship, and mutual coexistence with the Soviet Union, especially Russia, Cuba, and the rest of the communist world. If Oswald had, in fact, been an genuine communist, that would have made him ecstatic. Why kill Kennedy knowing that he would be replaced by Johnson, who vehemently disagreed with JFK’s change of direction and, instead, was on the same page as the Pentagon and the CIA?

The obvious question arises: Why would a genuine communist want to joint to join an organization — the U.S. Marine Corps — that had just killed and injured millions of communists in Korea? Indeed, it wasn’t communists who hated Kennedy for what he was doing. It was instead the U.S. national-security establishment, which believed that Kennedy’s actions constituted a grave threat to national security.

There is an easy explanation — one, however, that is not consistent with the official story. In the 1950s, there was a famous television series called I Led Three Lives, which is based on a book of the same name by a man named Herbert Philbrick. The series revolved around an American man who posed as a communist but who was actually a FBI agent. The man’s job was to infiltrate communist cells that were supposedly operating here in the United States and secretly report their activities to the FBI.

Lee Harvey Oswald Cuba Passport application

It’s worth watching a couple of episodes of I Led Three Lives just to get a sense of what life was like here in the United States during the Cold War and the anti-communist crusade. You can access them on YouTube by searching for “I Led Three Lives.” The commies were supposedly everywhere — the State Department, the Army, Hollywood, the public schools, and other walks of life. The Russians were coming! They were coming to get us, take over the federal government, and turn America entirely Red.

As a PBS documentary entitled Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? pointed out, I Led Three Lives was Lee Harvey Oswald’s (shown above) favorite TV Show as a teenager. Now things makes sense.

Domestic Politics

Vanity Fair, Why Trump Is Wasting His Energy on Blumenthal? James Warren, Aug. 8, 2017. President Donald Trump's new era of Twitter moderation took a predictable U-turn on his first day of vacation as he bashed Sen. Richard Blumenthal as a "phony Vietnam con artist" who lied about a military past. Blumenthal's real transgression was the same as the "failing" media Trump harps on, namely bringing up all that sticky Russian stuff. As for regurgitating Blumenthal's own personal deceit of long ago, the great self-image maker is spinning his wheels, as journalists who know Blumenthal well can attest.

"The story died surprisingly fast here, even in 2010," says Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror, an online news service that's been a refuge for quality Hartford Courant journalists scared away by downsizing there. He was state politics writer for the paper. "The national talking heads pronounced him DOA," he recalls, after The New York Times broke the 2010 story about Blumenthal (shown at left), Connecticut's former attorney general, fabricating service in Vietnam.

But his support proved stable and the cable news pundits moved on. Pro wrestling mogul Linda McMahon (now Trump's small business chief), "who had a campaign budget of $50 million in a state where $10 million is a decent campaign bankroll, tried to resurrect the issue closer to the election with massive media buys. They didn’t take."

Don Carter, Blumenthal's underfunded GOP rival last year, tried resurrecting the deceit but it didn't work for him, either. "So, I’d say the conventional wisdom is that there is a small base, which may or may not be the third of the electorate still with Trump, that thinks Blumenthal is a fraud."

Courts and Cops

WIAT-TV, Don Siegelman heralds removal of ‘electronic shackle,’ exclaims ‘yaaaaay!’ Haley Townsend Rhinehart, Aug. 8, 2017. Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman was convicted of bribery in 2006 in connection with Richard Scrushy’s HealthSouth case, and was sentenced to prison. He spent six years behind bars, and was released on Feb. 8, 2017. Since his release, he has been on probation and had an electronic ankle monitor while he was on house arrest. Tuesday, he celebrated the removal of his ‘electronic shackle’ with two gleeful videos, including one titled, “NO MORE SHACKLE!”

Consortium News, A New Twist in Seth Rich Murder Case, Joe Lauria, Aug. 8, 2017. The U.S. mainstream media dismisses any link between the murder of DNC official Seth Rich and leaked DNC emails as a “conspiracy theory” – while blaming Russia instead – but a new possibility has arisen.

Seth Rich

With U.S.-Russia tensions as dangerously high as they’ve been since the worst days of the Cold War, there is potential new evidence that Russia was not behind a hack of the Democratic National Committee, although Congress and the U.S. mainstream media accept the unproven allegation of Russia’s guilt as indisputable fact.

The possible new evidence comes in the form of a leaked audiotape of veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in which Hersh is heard to say that not Russia, but a DNC insider, was the source of the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks just before the start of the Democratic National Convention in late July 2016. n the audiotape – which Hersh told me was made without his permission – he quoted an unnamed government source who told him that Rich offered the DNC emails to WikiLeaks in exchange for money.

Legal Ethics

Hartford Courant, Yale Grad, An Ex-Con, Must Prove ‘Moral Character’ To State Bar Committee, Vinny Vella, Aug. 8, 2017. A budding lawyer who overcame a teenage felony conviction faces another hurdle in his path to practice in Connecticut.

Reginald Dwayne Betts, 36, graduated from Yale last year and passed the bar exam in February. But the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee has given his application pause due to the eight years he spent behind bars for his role in a carjacking in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Per state regulation, any applicant for the bar must prove "his or her good moral character and fitness to practice law by clear and convincing evidence" to the examining committee.

Aug. 7

Justice Systems

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New York Times, A Senseless Immigration Proposal, Editorial board, Aug. 7, 2017. The only way to understand President Trump’s support of an obvious turkey is as an attempt to energize his dwindling base.

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New York Times, Evidence Hidden From Defendants, Until It’s Too Late, Beth Schwartz Apfel, Aug. 7, 2017. New York is one of 10 states where prosecutors can wait until just before trial to share evidence, which critics say is unfair. But a new bill could change the rules. 

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Washington Post, Booz Allen Hamilton’s criminal probe could drag on for years, CEO says, Aaron Gregg, Aug. 7, 2017. The Department of Justice’s probe into the billing practices at Booz Allen Hamilton is unlikely to wrap up quickly, the McLean government contracting firm’s chief executive told analysts Monday. The criminal investigation could take years to resolve.

Trump Scrutiny

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New York Times, Many Politicians Lie, but Trump Elevates It to a New Level, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Aug. 7, 2017. President Trump is not the first president to be caught in lies. But the degree to which he has trafficked in falsehoods is raising questions about whether standards for veracity have eroded.

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New York Times, Opinion: America’s Whiniest ‘Victim’ Donald Trump is the reigning king of American victimhood, Charles Blow, Aug. 7, 2017 (print edition). He is unceasingly pained, injured, aggrieved. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he laments.

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It is in this near perfect state of perpetual aggrievement that Trump gives voice to a faction of America that also feels aggrieved. Trump won because he whines. He whines in a way that makes the weak feel less vulnerable and more vicious. He makes feeling sorry for himself feel like fighting back.

In this way he was a perfect reflection of the new Whiny Right. Trump is its instrument, articulation, embodiment. He’s not so much representative of it but of an idea — the waning power of whiteness, privilege, patriarchy, access, and the cultural and economic surety that accrues to the possessors of such. Trump represents their emerging status of victims-in-their-own-minds.

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Washington Post, How the Trump hotel has become a sort of White House annex, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 7, 2017. For the first time in presidential history, a profit-making venture touts the name of the commander in chief in its gold signage. The Post sent reporters to the hotel every day for a month to see how business and politics are adjusting to the new culture of Washington influence.

Right Wing Watch, End Times Prepper Pastor Jim Bakker Was Invited To The White House, Kyle Mantyla, Aug. 7, 2017. Jim Bakker, the disgraced former televangelist who reinvented himself as an End Times prepper pitchman following his time in prison, was among the dozens of evangelical leaders who were brought to the White House recently to meet with members of President Trump’s administration.

Bakker revealed on his program today that he and his wife Lori were in the White House on the day that Anthony Scaramucci was fired from his short stint as White House communications director, noting that it was not a coincidence that Scaramucci was let go at the moment when George O. Wood, who heads the General Council of the Assemblies of God, spoke out against “unnecessary swearing” during a meeting with White House staff. According to the Bakkers, Trump is eager to hear from right-wing Christian leaders and hopes to use them to spread his message to their audiences.

WhoWhatWhy

WhoWhatWhy, GOP Plan to Suppress the Rising Millennial Vote: How Will They Do It? Max Skidelsky, Aug. 7, 2017. The Republican-championed voting requirements aim to reshape the changing electorate in their favor, cut millennial voters out of politics, and reassert control over a crumbling coalition.

Unanimously, the election integrity experts contacted by WhoWhatWhy for this article believe that Republicans will try to put in place measures that make it more difficult for young people to vote. They are unsure, however, whether this would be done through tailor-made voter ID laws — both on the federal and state level — or other restrictions, for example, residency requirements for college students or targeted polling place closures.

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Washington Post, Pence has his eye on 2020. Uh-oh, Richard Cohen, Aug. 7, 2017. Mike Pence is denying reports that he is positioning himself to run for president in 2020 if, for some reason, Donald Trump falls by the wayside or decides that one term is enough. The vice president’s denial was so over-the-top — “disgraceful and offensive,” he called the New York Times article  — that had he been on a polygraph, he would have frizzled the wires and blown the circuits. The only thing wrong about the article was its timing. Pence’s presidential ambitions are nothing new. He’s been running his entire life.

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This is a hard one. Trump is a menace, both ignorant and chaotic. His saving grace is his incompetence. In his first six months in office, he has made a hash of our foreign policy, set back efforts to contain global warming, exploited public land and depopulated the State Department. But these efforts — as bad as they might be — have been so far confined to the margins. Trump has not passed any major legislation or, for that matter, built any walls.

Massive Media Merger Protested

Common Cause, Sinclair Deal Under Scrutiny, Dale Eisman, Aug. 7, 2017. Broadcasting Giant Wants Presence In Nearly Three-Fourths of US Households. The regulatory review of Sinclair Broadcasting’s $3.9 billion plan to acquire the Tribune Media Group is moving into a critical phase with today’s deadline for submission of comments on the merger to the Federal Communications Commission.

Sinclair is trying to buy 42 television stations, including outlets in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, from Tribune; the takeover would give Sinclair more than 200 stations with nearly 600 channels and a presence in nearly three-fourths of American households, far more than the FCC’s current 39 percent limit. Sinclair already is the nation’s largest broadcaster.

"No one company should have such power over the news and information that citizens must have to successfully practice the art of self-government,” said former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, now serving as special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “And that doesn't even get into the vices of this particular company."

The merger plan is attracting a wide assortment of corporate and nonprofit opponents, including Common Cause. Their concerns range from Copps’ complaint that the merged company will dominate the flow of broadcast news and information in much of the country, to suggestions that Sinclair’s political spending and unabashed support for conservative Republicans is being repaid with favorable treatment from an FCC controlled by appointees of President Trump.

Sinclair stations are notorious among journalists for their use of “must run” segments dictated by the company’s Baltimore headquarters. Politico reported last year that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, boasted that the Trump campaign had struck a deal with Sinclair for friendly coverage on its stations. In December, a review by the Washington Post concluded that Sinclair stations "gave a disproportionate amount of neutral or favorable coverage to Trump during the campaign" while airing negative stories on Hillary Clinton.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai already has engineered the removal of one obstacle to the merger, reinstating a “UHF discount” policy the commission had jettisoned during the Obama administration. The discount changes the way the commission counts a company’s stations across the country, giving UHF stations a lower value than VHF outlets.

Under former chairman Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, the commission counted all stations equally, reasoning that digital technologies now give UHF and VHF stations equal range; before the digital revolution, UHF signals covered smaller geographic areas.

With the discount in place for counting purposes, the Sinclair-Tribune combination will penetrate more than the FCC’s limit of 39 percent of American households, forcing it to sell a few stations even as it dramatically increases its national reach.

Variety, Sinclair-Tribune Merger Opponents Warn of ‘Excessive, Unbalanced Market Power,’ Cynthia Littleton, Aug. 7, 2017. A coalition of TV and media industry entities is urging the FCC to reject Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, arguing that the combination would give Sinclair a dangerous level of power over the local TV marketplace.

Today marks the deadline set by the FCC for the initial round of public comments in opposition to the merger agreement reached in May. The deal would give Sinclair control of more than 200 stations nationwide, expanding the Baltimore-based station owner’s presence to the nation’s largest TV markets for the first time. Executives from the American Cable Association, which represents smaller cable operators, Common Cause, the Competitive Carriers Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association held a conference call Monday morning to outline their grave concerns about the Sinclair-Tribune deal. Sinclair declined to comment.

USA Today, Two big reasons Sinclair-Tribune TV merger should be nixed, opponents say, Mike Snider, Aug. 7, 2017. The opposition to Sinclair Broadcast Group's nearly $4 billion merger with Tribune Media Co., is fighting the deal with words and documents. The Hunt Valley, Md.-headquartered Sinclair's acquisition, announced three months ago, could create a broadcasting powerhouse with more than 200 TV stations in 108 markets.

Not all in the media and TV industry think such a deal should be approved by regulators. "We believe this merger as proposed is unlawful, not in the public interest and should be rejected," said Matthew Polka, CEO of the American Cable Association Monday. The ACA represents about 750 smaller telecom/broadband/pay-TV providers in small and rural areas.

With its 200-plus stations, a combined Sinclair-Tribune company, opponents note, would surpass the federally-mandated maximum reach of 39% of national TV homes. Sinclair has said its reach would grow to 72% of U.S. homes across 108 markets including 39 of the top 50. And the broadcaster would own two of the top four affiliates in 10 of the 14 markets where the two companies currently operate on their own, which opponents argue is a violation of the Federal Communications Commission's television ownership rules.

But Sinclair, already the largest U.S. broadcaster with 173 stations, expects to benefit from a recent FCC move that loosens TV ownership rules. A so-called UHF discount, which allows broadcasters to count only UHF stations as having only half the reach of VHF channels would let broadcasters wider growth options.

The FCC in April, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, reinstated the UHF discount. Back in September 2016, the FCC, then led by Democrat Tom Wheeler, had passed a motion to eliminate the measure. Pai has said he may support the eventual elimination of the UHF discount, but as part of a overall review of the ownership cap.

"We don’t think we need to sell any" of the 14 markets where there are currently Sinclair and Tribune stations, said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in May in a discussion of the deal. "When you take a look at all the overlaps they really have no impact on overall competition and we hope that the regulators will agree with us."

Sinclair "comes with an ideology that is far more focused on conservative points of view than any sense of balance or any deep-dive journalism," said Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner and special adviser to Common Cause.

About Copps' comments, Scott Livingston, Sinclair's vice president of news, said, "I find that to be outrageous and it’s also an insult to more than 4000 hardworking journalists across Sinclair." "Our agenda is to serve up relevant information that our local communities value," Livingston said. "And If we weren’t serving our viewers with information they care about, we would be out of business, right?"

Inside DC

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New York Times, Partisan C.I.A. Chief Heartens Trump and Worries the Agency, Matthew Rosenberg, Aug. 7, 2017. Mike Pompeo (shown at right) has become a favorite of the president’s with tough talk and hawkish views at the helm of the C.I.A., which prides itself on being apolitical.

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New York Times, States Fret as Trump Threatens Insurance Subsidy for Millions, Robert Pear, Aug. 7, 2017. State commissioners are debating what to do if President Trump stops subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of millions of low-income people.

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NBC News, Trump Says Blumenthal Lied About Vietnam (He Did) and Cried (He Didn’t), Jane C. Timm, Aug. 7 2017. President Donald Trump on Monday unleashed a hostile tweet storm on Sen. Richard Blumenthal, making a number of claims against the Connecticut Democrat, including that he had lied about serving in Vietnam.

Trump's Twitter fusillade was apparently set off by Blumenthal's appearance on CNN earlier Monday in which he spoke about the investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia. "I think is very important to protect and safeguard the independence and integrity of that investigation," said Blumenthal (shown in an official photo). Later Monday, Trump suggested Blumenthal take a long vacation in Vietnam "so he can at say he was there." 

Let’s look at the facts: What's true: Years ago, Blumenthal did misrepresent his military service, repeatedly conflating his time in the Marine Reserves in Washington, D.C., with those who served overseas in Vietnam. The idea that he was a Vietnam veteran became an accepted part of his biography. "When we returned, we saw nothing like this," the senator said at a Connecticut rally in support of troops in 2003.  "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam," he said at another event in 2008.

In reality, the senator obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970, according to The New York Times’ 2010 expose that found Blumenthal had sometimes falsely claimed to have served in Vietnam; when he eventually enlisted in 1970, Blumenthal got a spot in the Marine Reserves, engaging in Washington drills and local projects like campground repairs.

He later apologized for misrepresenting his service, saying he regretted saying he’d served "in" Vietnam instead of "during" Vietnam. 

What's not true: There’s no evidence that Blumenthal bragged — as Trump claimed in the tweets — about "battles" or "conquests" or cried when the scandal erupted during his Senate bid.

"No and no," a Blumenthal spokesman told NBC News on Monday when asked if the senator had bragged or cried.

Blumenthal himself hit back at Trump on Twitter, saying the president's "bullying" wasn't working.

Health Care

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New York Times, Opinion: Krugman: What’s Next for Progressives? Paul Krugman, Aug. 7, 2017. For now, at least, the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears dead. This represents a huge victory for progressives, who did a startlingly good job of marshaling facts, mobilizing public opinion, and pressuring politicians to stand their ground. But where do they go from here?

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Washington Post, The once-whispered topic of women’s menstruation now has political cachet, Michael Alison Chandler, Aug. 7, 2017. Lawmakers are passing laws to exempt tampons and pads from taxes and helping ensure they are accessible to all women.

Global News

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Washington Post, N. Korea remains defiant on nuclear weapons, threatens to retaliate for U.N. sanctions, Carol Morello, Aug. 7, 2017. The foreign minister said Pyongyang would use nuclear weapons only against the United States or another country that might join it in military action against North Korea. And he dismissed stiff new Security Council sanctions as illegal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the U.S. is willing to talk if Pyongyang will stop testing ballistic missiles.

JFK Revelations

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JFK Facts.org, The new JFK files: What Politico missed about the CIA role, jefferson Morley, Aug. 7, 2017. The first JFK writers to weigh in on the new JFK files are Phil Shenon and Larry Sabato, former New York Times reporter and University of Virginia professor respectively. In a story for Politico Magazine, they purport to tell the story How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder.

The tipoff to the story’s limitations is the headline, which sounds a bit odd: how the CIA came to doubt the official story....If the CIA did not doubt the official story–that a lone gunman killed Kennedy out of “hatred for American society” – it was because the agency, on several key points, was the source of that story. The Warren Commission relied on the CIA’s information in telling the American public about Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union in October 1959, his return in June 1962, and his curious visit to Mexico City in October 1963.

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As Shenon and Sabato note, perhaps too casually, senior CIA officials lied to the Warren Commission on each and everyone of these points. Any reasonable person would say that the initial lies call in to question the sincerity of the later doubts. In fact Oswald had been monitored closely by the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff from 1959 to 1963.

The  new JFK files do not, in my view, support Shenon and Sabato’s “Castro Done It” theory, which predictably points the figure of culpability at the Cuban government in Havana. Rather these files, in their totality, tell a more disturbing story, which points to culpability in the U.S. government in Washington, and the CIA in Langley.

Courts and Cops

Aug. 6

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New York Times, Critics of Tillerson Say C.E.O. Skills Are Missing in New Role, Gardiner Harris, Aug. 6, 2017. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson was expected to quickly revamp the agency, but critics say the former Exxon Mobil chief has been focused on minutiae.

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Washington Post, GOP governors stir tension by increasing police patrols to fight violence in cities, Tim Craig and Emma Ockerman, Aug. 6, 2017. The response from governors in states such as Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and South Carolina follows rising homicides in some large cities, but the action has unsettled some residents and threatens to drive another wedge between officials in heavily Democratic cities and their Republican counterparts in statehouses and Washington.

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Washington Post, Mueller can dig into crimes uncovered in Russia probe, Justice official says, Kelsey Snell and John Wagner, Aug. 6, 2017. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to comment on reports that Robert Mueller III is using a grand jury to aid in his work, but he said such a step is routine in “many investigations.” President Trump has dismissed the inquiry as “a total fabrication.”

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoPalmer Report, Mike Pence’s AOL email scandal is back again, Bill Palmer, Aug. 6, 2017. Back in November, Palmer Report brought you the story of Mike Pence’s email scandal, which at the time was largely only making headlines in his home state of Indiana (link). Pence had been using an America Online email account to conduct state business while he was Governor. The scandal died down after he went to court and was successful in temporarily blocking the release of those emails. But nine months later, that effort has now failed.

Palmer Report, Braindead Donald Trump thanks fake Russian bot on Twitter for supporting him, Bill Palmer, Aug. 6, 2017. Now that Gen. John Kelly has taken over as White House Chief of Staff with the goal of getting Donald Trump to stop acting so erratically, Trump is already making a point of rebelling against him. Trump has resumed his former habit of quoting the tweets of a few random supporters who have said nice things about him. In so doing, he thanked a fake Russian bot account which has since been suspended from Twitter entirely.

Instead, as first pieced together by movie producer Robert Schooley, the supposed photographs of “Nicole” wearing a Trump t-shirt were instead just stock images of a random woman, with the Trump logo clumsily superimposed onto the shirt (link). In fact everything about the account screamed that it was a fake.

Aug. 5

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New York Times, Mueller’s Office Is Said to Seek White House’s Flynn Records, Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt, Aug. 5, 2017 (print edition). The request is the first known instance of investigators working for Robert S. Mueller III asking the White House to hand over records, according to people close to the inquiry.

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Investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently asked the White House for documents related to the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn (shown in a file photo), and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign, according to people close to the investigation.

Taking money from Turkey or any foreign government is not illegal. But failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, and trying to hide the source of the money by routing it through a private company or some other entity, and then paying kickbacks to the middleman, could lead to numerous criminal charges, including fraud.

Inside the Trump Administration

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Washington Post, For 17 days away on a ‘working vacation,’ Trump retreats to his N.J. golf club, John Wagner and Elise Viebeck, Aug. 5, 2017. The president arrived Friday at Bedminster with aides including newly minted Chief of Staff John F. Kelly (shown at right). Although he criticized his predecessor’s work ethic when Barack Obama left Washington, Trump follows in the tradition of U.S. presidents escaping the capital in late summer. With the Russia investigation gaining steam and looming crises in North Korea and other hot spots, no one expects a truly quiet couple of weeks.

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Washington Post, Trump faces reality that his words — and tweets — often lack their desired impact, Abby Phillip, Aug. 5, 2017 (print edition). Challenges to President Trump’s authority and influence are growing six months into his chaotic presidency. His allies hope new Chief of Staff John F. Kelly can help stop the the downward slide.

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New York Times, Trump Defends McMaster as Conservatives Seek His Dismissal, Peter Baker, Aug. 5, 2017 (print edition). President Trump defended Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, his embattled national security adviser, on Friday in the face of a full-bore campaign by the nationalist wing of his political coalition accusing him of undermining the president’s agenda and calling for his dismissal.

General McMaster (shown in a file photo) has angered the political right by pushing out several conservatives on the national security staff and cautioning against ripping up the nuclear agreement with Iran negotiated by President Barack Obama without a strategy for what comes next. His future has been in doubt amid speculation that Mr. Trump might send him to Afghanistan.

But after two days of unrelenting attacks on General McMaster by conservative activists and news sites, complete with the Twitter hashtag #FireMcMaster, the president weighed in to quash such talk. “General McMaster and I are working very well together,” he said in a statement emailed to The New York Times. “He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”

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Washington Post, National security adviser attempts to reconcile Trump’s competing impulses on Afghanistan, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker, Aug. 5, 2017 (print edition). In meeting after meeting with his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, this spring and summer, President Trump angrily hammered home two questions: He wanted to know why the U.S. military wasn’t winning in Afghanistan, and he asked, repeatedly, why, after more than 16 years of war, the United States was still stuck there.

The president’s two questions have defined a contentious debate over whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to halt two years of Taliban gains. And they have exposed a potentially deep philosophical rift with McMaster, a three-star general. “H.R. heard the first question and seized on it,” said a senior White House official who is close to McMaster. “But he never heard, or didn’t want to hear, the president’s second question.”

The debate over Afghanistan strategy, which McMaster had ­initially hoped to have resolved by May, continued Thursday when the president and his national security adviser met in the Oval Office. Trump’s reluctance to commit to a new strategy reflects the paucity of good options in Afghanistan and the dim prospects for peace.

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Washington Post, Trump’s new chief of staff did work for company with federal contracts, Drew Harwell, Aug. 5, 2017. Before joining administration, John F. Kelly (shown at right) was a paid adviser to DynCorp. President Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, made much of his income last year advising companies that depend on federal contracts, including a private military conglomerate that has made billions of dollars for its work in Afghanistan and Iraq, financial filings show.

Kelly, a four-star Marine Corps general who retired last year as head of U.S. Southern Command, was paid $166,666 to work as an adviser on “military defense issues” for the defense contractor DynCorp International, the documents show. During Kelly’s time at DynCorp, a company subsidiary was awarded a $700,000 contract with the Department of Homeland Security, the agency Kelly would soon be named secretary, though it is not clear what role, if any, he had in the contract.

War Crime: Courts and Cops Around the Nation

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Washington Post, Murder conviction in Blackwater case thrown out, other sentences overturned, Spencer S. Hsu, Aug. 4, 2017. A U.S. appeals court on Friday threw out the first-degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater Worldwide security guard sentenced to life in prison in the killings of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007. The court also ordered resentencings for three others convicted in the incident.

The September 2007 shootings, which also wounded 17 people, fomented deep resentments about the accountability of American security forces during one of the bloodiest periods of the Iraq War. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the trial court “abused its discretion” in not allowing Nicholas A. Slatten, 33, of Sparta, Tenn., to be tried separately from his three co-defendants, even though one of them said he, not Slatten, fired the first shots in the civilian massacre. 

In a split ruling, the court also found that the 30-year terms of the others convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter — Paul A. Slough, 37, of Keller, Tex.; Evan S. Liberty, 35, of Rochester, N.H.; and Dustin L. Heard, 36, of Maryville, Tenn. — violated the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” 

Overview of JFK Assassination Documents

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Kennedys and King, The Larry and Phil Show, James DiEugenio, Aug. 5, 2017. Jim DiEugenio excoriates two articles concerning the July NARA document release which appeared in the Washington Post and Politico. As most of us know, the National Archives began a premature release of JFK assassination documents on July 25th. The legal target date had previously been late October. For whatever reason, NARA decided to begin early. As I noted in my "Open Letter to Martha Murphy and John Mathis," the first week was marked by many problems. Most of which, in my opinion, could have been avoided.

Anyone familiar with the JFK case understands that these documents are the leftover residue from the work of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). Formed to declassify all the records in the JFK case, that citizens’ panel ceased operations in 1998. But they specified that, by law, certain documents could be exempted from their declassification efforts. They also stated, however, that 2017 would be the termination date for those documents.

There were many valuable documents that the ARRB declassified, dealing both with the Kennedy presidency, and Kennedy’s assassination. Concerning the former, the ARRB declassified the records of the SecDef conference of May 1963, which cinched the case that President Kennedy had assigned Robert McNamara to implement his withdrawal plan from Vietnam. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 366).

Unfortunately for the public, there was little fanfare attended to both the process and the discoveries of the ARRB. There were some sporadic stories, for instance, about the Vietnam withdrawal plans and Operation Northwoods, but generally speaking, the MSM did not explain the task of the ARRB, nor did it inform the public about the gold in the treasure trove of documents — over two million pages — that finally saw the light of day after over 30 years of secrecy.

Last week’s early batch of releases also featured some bracing documents. For instance, there was a document revealing the CIA status of Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell. Another one showed that, by the seventies, Collins Radio was quite close to the CIA. Collins Radio relates to the assassination through both George De Mohrenschildt and Carl Mather. And this is only from a first glance through several thousands of pages of newly declassified documents.

Which brings us to the Larry and Phil Show. I refer here to the commentary on this NARA release by authors Larry Sabato and Phil Shenon. These two men penned two largely irrelevant books at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination: respectively, The Kennedy Half Century, and A Cruel and Shocking Act, told us very little that was new about either the Kennedy presidency or the facts of his assassination.

What is exceptional about that fact is this: Both men wrote their books over a decade past the closing down of the ARRB. Yet one would be hard pressed to show how those millions of documents, or Gunn’s extensive medical inquiry, figured into those two books, both of which, unsurprisingly, came to the conclusion that none of the documents mattered. Neither did Jeremy Gunn’s inquiry. The Warren Commission was right all along. Lee Oswald killed JFK; the Magic Bullet lived.

Courts and Cops

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New York Times, Judge Drops Rape Case Against U.S.C. Student, Citing Video Evidence, Hannah Alani, Aug. 5, 2017. The judge said during a preliminary hearing last week that he believed that the sex was consensual and that the videos were a “very strong indication” the woman was the initiator, according to reports.

Media: Another Fox News Sex Scandal

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Washington Post, Fox News suspends host Eric Bolling after new allegation of sexually inappropriate behavior, Paul Farhi, Aug 5, 2017. Fox News said Saturday that it has suspended Eric Bolling, co-host of its late-afternoon news program “The Specialists,” while it investigates allegations he sent a lewd photo to co-workers.

Word of the suspension came one day after a HuffPost report relying on anonymous sources stated Bolling had sent a lewd photo to at least three female colleagues at Fox News and Fox Business. “Eric Bolling has been suspended pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” Fox News said in a brief statement. An attorney for Bolling, Michael J. Bowe, denied the allegations.

Global News

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Nicolás Maduro

Washington Post, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor is removed from office in crackdown on dissent, Mariana Zuniga and Anthony Faiola, Aug. 5, 2017. A new governing body that critics of President Nicolás Maduro have called a "puppet congress" stripped outspoken critic Luisa Ortega of her title and replaced her with a government loyalist.

Global News

Huffington Post, Dictators and Double Standards, Jeremy Kuzmarov, On Saturday, Paul Kagame was reelected with 99 percent of the vote, an outcome that ensures he will remain president of Rwanda until at least 2024. The State Department expressed concerns about irregularities in the vote tabulating process. The main opposition candidate, Diane Rwigara, had naked photos of herself displayed on the internet and was barred from running. She said that Rwanda is “like a pretty girl with a lot of makeup, but inside is dark and dirty.”

For years, the country has been the darling of the western donor community. Bill Clinton called Kagame a “visionary leader” and Bill Gates said he was “among the greatest leaders of our time.” Kagame has allegedly presided over an economic miracle in which growth has expanded by 8 percent per year, and poverty rates decreased by 17 percent. Former economic adviser, David Himbara, however, said that state authorities manipulated statistics and that Rwanda was an “economic midget compared to its neighbors.”

Mr. Kagame also established a police state in which the government maintains control through a network of surveillance in which each village has a chief and an informer. Dissidents have been hunted down and murdered even in exile, including the former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya who was killed in South Africa.

It stands to reason that Mike Pence cared a great deal about making sure the contents of these emails never saw the light of day. Was he trying to hide something scandalous, illegal, or just personally embarrassing? It looks like we’re about to find out. And it comes at a particularly tricky time for Pence, as it’s just been revealed that he’s gearing up to run for president in 2020 (link) under the presumption that Donald Trump will be sunk by then.

During the height of the Congo war, as Wayne Madsen documents in Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999 (Edwin Mellen Press, 1999), the Pentagon provided the Rwandan and Ugandan invaders over $10 million in arms through CIA conduits, installed a command and communications center in Kigali and in the coastal areas of Uganda, and shared intelligence and satellite imagery of refugee movements some of which was provided free of charge by the defense contractor Bechtel.

A blatant double standard can be seen when we compare coverage of Kagame and leaders who have been defiant of the West such as the late Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Nicholas Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Aug. 4

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Justice Department log circularWashington Post, Attorney general says Justice Dept. has tripled the number of leak probes, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett​, Aug. 4, 2017. Jeff Sessions offered the first public confirmation of the breadth of the department’s efforts to crack down on unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information. Last week, President Trump wrote on Twitter that his attorney general had taken a “VERY weak position” on “Intel leakers.”

Sessions (shown at left) made the announcement at a long-anticipated news conference with his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, as well as Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina.

Enrique Peña Nieto Mexican president official portrait Sessions said in the first six months of this year, the Department of Justice had received nearly as many criminal referrals involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information than it had received in the past three years combined. Though he did not say if it resulted in a criminal referral, Sessions cited in particular a recent disclosure to The Washington Post of transcripts of President Trump’s conversations with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (shown in an official photo) and another with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Deep State Dangers To Trump?

WMR, Trump business linked to major corruption scandals on 5 continents, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 4, 2017 (Subscription required). Investigative reporter and author Wayne Madsen has compiled a relationship chart of two thousand individuals and companies (primarily limited liability corporations) related in what he regards as often-suspicious ways to the Trump-Kushner-Manafort-Epstein b businesses. Justice Department Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC that could be looking into Donald Trump's complicated but suspicious financing of his businesses, as well as his presidential campaign.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion from Libertarian Right: Where Trump Might Be Vulnerable, Jacob G. Hornberger, Aug. 4, 2017. It’s still not clear to me the particular crime for which special prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump. Was it illegal for Vladimir Putin to support Trump for president instead of Hillary Clinton? Nope. Was it illegal for Trump to receive advice, support, and consultation from Vladimir Putin or any other Russian politico on how best to defeat Clinton? Nope.

Ordinarily, a special prosecutor would have evidence that a certain crime has been committed and would be investigating whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment for that crime. That’s not what Mueller is doing. It’s clear that he is on a giant wide-ranging fishing expedition in which he and his cohorts are examining evidence in which they hope to find a crime — any crime — on which to get Trump.

And that’s where Trump is likely to be in danger, especially given that he is a businessman and a builder. Every businessman, builder, and banker, both here and in Russia, knows the danger of the regulatory and tax power that hangs over his head like the Sword of Damocles. That’s undoubtedly why there are no major CEOs in the country publicly speaking out against U.S. foreign policy. They know what will happen to them in terms of regulatory and tax enforcement.

Look what they did to former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio. After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials approached Nacchio and asked him to sell his customers down the river by illegally giving their personal information to the feds. The feds told Nacchio that he would be a “patriot” by doing this.

To his everlasting credit, Nacchio said no. But he ended up paying a big price. The feds went after him on some stupid insider-trading violation and he ended up getting convicted and spending time in jail. Businessmen, bankers, and builders are most at risk given the extensiveness and complexity of the regulations and tax provisions under which they operate. I think there is a good possibility that Mueller is going to go after Trump in the same way that the feds went after Nacchio — by trying to find some stupid regulatory or tax provision that Trump or his subordinates might have violated. 

Global News

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New York Times, An Ally Is Set to Execute Critics. Will Mr. Trump Be Silent? Editorial Board, Aug. 4, 2017 (print edition). Mujtaba al-Sweikat was a bright 17-year-old student on his way to visit Western Michigan University when he was arrested at King Fahd Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2012. (The newly elevated Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is shown at right.)

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

Since then, Mr. Sweikat has been in Saudi custody, subjected to torture, including beatings so severe his shoulder was broken, in order to extract confessions that sealed his fate: condemned to death, likely by beheading. Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld Mr. Sweikat’s June 2016 death sentence, as well as those of 13 other Saudi citizens tried with him — including a disabled man and two who were juveniles when sentenced — after a mass trial that made a mockery of international standards of due process.

Now, the only person who can prevent these barbarous executions is King Salman, who must ratify the death sentences.

Cops, Courts and Crooks Around the Nation

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Washington Post, Martin Shkreli is found guilty of three of eight securities fraud charges, Renae Merle, Aug. 4, 2017. The jury in the Martin Shkreli trial deliberated for five days.

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Washington Post, An alert airline passenger exposed a suspected child sex predator after glancing at his text, Kyle Swenson, Aug. 4, 2017.San Jose police arrested Michael Kellar, 56, after a flight from Seattle to San Jose July 31. A passenger noticed Keller swapping text messages about sexually molesting children and alerted the flight crew who contacted authorities on the ground.

Aug. 3

Wall Street Journal, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Impanels Washington Grand Jury in Russia Probe, Del Quentin Wilber and Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)Byron Tau, Aug. 3, 2017 (subscription required). Expansion beyond Flynn grand jury is a sign the investigation in election meddling is ramping up. Special Counsel Robert Mueller (shown in an official photo) has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Washington Post, Senators unveil two plans to protect Mueller’s Russia probe from presidential interference, Karoun Demirjian​, Aug. 3, 2017. Two bipartisan pairs of senators detailed legislation that would prevent President Trump from firing Robert Mueller without cause, by making any decision to get rid of a special counsel subject to the approval of a panel of three federal judges.

HuffPo, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Reportedly Assembles Grand Jury, Ramping Up Russia Probe, Marina Fang, Aug. 3, 2017. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury as part of his investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in last year’s election, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The report follows Mueller stepping up the probe by hiring several high-powered lawyers. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Greg Andres, a former Justice Department attorney who specialized in corruption and bribery cases, joined the investigation.

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Sources tell Reuters that “grand jury subpoenas have been issued related to [a] June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Russian lawyers and others.” Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, met with a Russian lawyer last summer after being promised information that was part of a Russian government effort to benefit Trump and would “incriminate” Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. Mueller’s probe is one of several government investigations into possible collusion. In addition, it is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice.

The report follows Mueller stepping up the probe by hiring several high-powered lawyers. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Greg Andres, a former Justice Department attorney who specialized in corruption and bribery cases, joined the investigation.

Sources tell Reuters that “grand jury subpoenas have been issued related to [a] June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Russian lawyers and others.” Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, met with a Russian lawyer last summer after being promised information that was part of a Russian government effort to benefit Trump and would “incriminate” Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

CIA To End Secret War Against Syrian Government?

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Syrian government soldiers celebrating an advance (file photo)

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New York Times, Behind the Sudden Death of a $1 Billion Secret C.I.A. War In Syria, Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Aug. 3, 2017 (print edition). The shuttering of the C.I.A. program, one of the most expensive efforts to arm and train rebels since the 1980s, has forced a reckoning over its successes and failures.

The end came quickly for one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A. During a White House briefing early last month, the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, recommended to President Trump that he shut down a four-year-old effort to arm and train Syrian rebels. The president swiftly ended the program.

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The rebel army was by then a shell, hollowed out by more than a year of bombing by Russian planes and confined to ever-shrinking patches of Syria that government troops had not reconquered. Critics in Congress had complained for years about the costs — more than $1 billion over the life of the program — and reports that some of the C.I.A.-supplied weapons had ended up in the hands of a rebel group tied to Al Qaeda further sapped political support for the program.

While critics of Mr. Trump have argued that he ended the program to curry favor with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, there were in fact dim views of the effort in both the Trump and Obama White Houses — a rare confluence of opinion on national security policy.

The shuttering of the C.I.A. program, one of the most expensive efforts to arm and train rebels since the agency’s program arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the 1980s, has forced a reckoning over its successes and failures. Opponents say it was foolhardy, expensive and ineffective. Supporters say that it was unnecessarily cautious, and that its achievements were remarkable given that the Obama administration had so many restrictions on it from the start, which they say ultimately ensured its failure.

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Related Commentary: Moon of Alabama, Why Petraeus, Obama And Brennan Should Face 5,000 Years In Prison, B, Aug. 3, 2017. The NYT story [above] is largely a whitewash. It claims that the CIA paid "moderate" FSA rebels stormed Idleb governate in 2015. In fact al-Qaeda and Ahrar al Sham were leading the assault. It says that costs of the CIA program was "more than $1 billion over the life of the program" when CIA documents show that it was over $1 billion per year and likely much more than $5 billion in total. The story says that the program started in 2013 while the CIA has been providing arms to the Wahhabi rebels since at least fall 2011.

Daily Beast, California CEO Allegedly Smuggled Rifle Scopes to Syria, Aug. 1, 2017. Rasheed Al Jijakli,[the CEO of a check-cashing business who lives in Walnut,] along with three co-conspirators, allegedly transported day and night vision rifle scopes, laser boresighters used to adjust sights on firearms for accuracy when firing, flashlights, radios, a bulletproof vest, and other tactical equipment to Syrian fighters....If Jijakli is found guilty, he could face 50 years in prison. Jijakli’s case is being prosecuted by counterintelligence and Terrorism and Export Crimes Section attorneys. An FBI investigation, in coordination with other agencies, is ongoing.

When will the FBI investigate Messrs Petraeus, Obama and Brennan? Where are the counterintelligence and Terrorism and Export Crimes Section attorneys prosecuting them? Those three men engaged in the exactly same trade as Mr. Jijakil did, but on a much larger scale. They should be punished on an equally larger scale.

Inside Washington

New York Magazine, The Original Russia Connection, Andrew Rice, Aug. 3, 2017. Felix Sater has cut deals with the FBI, Russian oligarchs, and Donald Trump. He’s also quite a talker.

As a convicted racketeer with murky ties to the Mafia, law enforcement, intelligence agencies (both friendly and hostile), various foreign oligarchs, and the current president of the United States, Sater has become an obsession of the many investigators — professional and amateur — searching for Trump’s Russia connection. Since the election, especially in the more feverish precincts of the internet, he has been the subject of constant speculation, which has at times been contradictory. Was he the missing link to the Kremlin? (“Trump, Russia, and a Shadowy Business Partnership,” read the headline of a recent column by Trump biographer Tim O’Brien.)

Or could he be Mueller’s inside man? (“Will a Mob-Connected Hustler Be the First Person to Spill the Beans to the FBI on Trump’s Russian Ties?” asked a story on the lefty site Alternet.) Could he be playing both sides?

At least one clue to the answer, Sater’s pursuers suspect, may be found in the records of his closed criminal case — which just so happened to have been overseen by one of the top prosecutors working on Mueller’s investigation.

For an international man of mystery, Sater can be quite talkative. Over the past few months, I’ve reached out to him regularly by phone and email, and every once in a while, he has responded. He would vent about how he was “tired of being kicked in the balls” over long-ago offenses, by reporters investigating his ties to Trump. Then he asked what I wanted to know.

“What do you do for a living?” I asked. “I am the epitome of the word ‘the deal guy,’ ” Sater replied.

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Washington Post, This is not how Mitch McConnell wanted to head into recess, Paul Kane, Aug. 3, 2017. The Senate majority leader worried that if the health-care debate dragged out, little else would get done. Instead, everything got consumed by the health-care storm, which culminated in the bill failing by a single vote last week. The Senate plans to leave town Thursday for a five-week break with no major legislative accomplishments to show for the first seven months of unified Republican control of Congress and the White House.

Secret Service

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Washington Post, Secret Service vacates Trump Tower post in lease dispute with president’s company, Carol D. Leonnig, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 3, 2017. The Secret Service moved its command post from a unit one floor below the president’s apartment to a trailer on the sidewalk, more than 50 floors below.

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Washington Post, Hundreds of officers fired for misconduct returned to policing, Kimbriell Kelly, Wesley Lowery and Steven Rich, Aug. 3, 2017. Since 2006, the nation’s largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the public’s trust, from cheating on overtime to unjustified shootings. But a Washington Post investigation has found that departments have been forced to reinstate more than 450 officers after appeals required by union contracts.

Enrique Peña Nieto Mexican president official portrait

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Washington Post, Trump urged Mexican president to end his defiance on border wall, transcript reveals, Greg Miller​, Aug. 3, 2017. The Post has obtained full transcripts of President Trump's conversations with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (shown at right) and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (shown below left). The documents provide an unfiltered glimpse of Trump's approach to the diplomatic aspect of his job.

Malcolm Turnbull

President Trump made building a wall along the southern U.S. border and forcing Mexico to pay for it core pledges of his campaign. But in his first White House call with Mexico’s president, Trump described his vow to charge Mexico as a growing political problem, pressuring the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would never pay.

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“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said repeatedly, according to a transcript of the Jan. 27 call obtained by the Washington Post. Trump made clear that he realized the funding would have to come from other sources but threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continued to make defiant statements.

The funding “will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump said, adding later that “it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” But “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.” He described the wall as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.”

Michael Flynn Harvard 2014

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New York Times, White House Purging Michael Flynn Allies From National Security Council, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker, Aug. 3, 2017 (print edition). The White House has engaged in a slow-motion purge of hard-line officials at the National Security Council in recent weeks, angering conservatives who complain that the foreign policy establishment is reasserting itself over a president who had promised a new course.

The latest to go was Ezra Cohen-Watnick (shown at left), who ran the N.S.C.’s intelligence division and, like others who have left, was originally appointed by Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser. Mr. Flynn (shown above right) resigned in February after it was disclosed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about a telephone call with Russia’s ambassador.

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster (shown at right) succeeded Mr. Flynn and has slowly tried to move out some of Mr. Flynn’s appointees. He initially tried to fire Mr. Cohen-Watnick earlier this year, only to be rebuffed by Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. But Mr. Kushner dropped his opposition this week, according to someone with knowledge of the decision.

A fierce Trump loyalist, Mr. Cohen-Watnick drew attention when he and another White House official briefed Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on classified intelligence reports revealing that American intelligence agencies had conducted incidental surveillance of Mr. Trump’s transition team. The briefing was intended to bolster Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that President Barack Obama ordered phones tapped at Trump Tower.

JFK Assassination Records Release Revelations

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Dr. John M. Newman author of Countdown to Darkness, JFK and Vietnam, Oswald and the CIA, Where Angels Tread Lightly and more. Photo credits: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and Skyhorse Publishing, with collage by WhoWhatWhy

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John F. Kennedy side profile

WhoWhatWhy, 2017 JFK Document Release Shows Former Intelligence Analyst Got It Right, Alan Dale, Aug. 3, 2017. For decades, those investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been eagerly anticipating the release of previously withheld documents scheduled for later this year, October 26. One major question that remains is whether President Donald Trump will use his authority to further keep these documents from the public eye.

Earle Cabell, Dallas mayor and congressmanFifty-four years is long enough. The potential for discovery represented by the recent and upcoming release of remaining government files on the Kennedy assassination was realized this week with the startling revelation that beginning in 1956, Earle Cabell (shown at left), brother of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Charles P. Cabell and Mayor of Dallas at the time JFK was assassinated, was a CIA asset.

We are now able to review his 10/17/56 CIA Secrecy Agreement, his CIA 201 file cover sheet, his 5/13/57 CIA Personality 201 File Request, and a cover sheet indicating that the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) reviewed his 201 file. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) master listing of files scheduled for release indicates that the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) classified these records as “Not Believed Relevant” (NBR).

ARRB Director Judge John Tunheim, shown at left in a Noel St. John photo speaking at the National Press Club during a CAPA sponsored event this past March, said that he now believes that many of the NBR-designated documents are indeed relevant. With the benefit of hindsight, that may have been an understatement.

The passage of many days, months, or years may be necessary for information to be placed in the correct context and understood as being significant.

The example of George Joannides, who was brought out of retirement to act as liaison between the Agency and the HSCA, is a case in point. Joannides’ role as the CIA case officer for the DRE (Revolutionary Student Directorate), an anti-Castro group with which Lee Harvey Oswald had interacted in the summer of 1963 in New Orleans, was withheld by the agency throughout the term of the HSCA which was investigating CIA connections to the group.

Georgerge JoannidesWhen asked directly if Joannides (shown at right) could assist the HSCA by identifying the officer who had handled the DRE during the summer of 1963, he responded by saying, “I’ll look into that.” Perhaps the CIA did not feel that revealing Joannides’ true identity to the Committee investigators was “assassination-related.”

JFK Records Release Research

John F. Kennedy side profile

JFKCountercoup, The Annotated Shenon and Sabato on the New JFK Records, Bill Kelly, Aug. 3, 2017. Phil Shenon and Larry Sabato are at it again. After their piece in the Washington Post [President Trump, give us the full story on the JFK assassination], that the AARC [Assassination Archives and Research Center] responded to [AARC Board responds to Sabato and Shenon] they are picking up where Gus Russo, Brien Latell and Bob Baer left off and are stuck parroting the same old, sorry story that is just not true.

Phil Shenon is a former New York Times reporter who says he is not interested in any other aspect of the assassination of President Kennedy other than that which indicates Castro was behind the dirty deed. In his book A Cruel and Shocking Act, he tries to make the claim that Oswald met Cuban embassy officials at a private Twist Party where they encouraged him to kill JFK. There was a party at which Oswald was encouraged to kill General Walker, but Shenon isn’t interested in that. See my reviews: JFKcountercoup: A Cruel and Shocking Twist.

Sabato is associated with the University of Virginia Center for Politics, and together they represent a Punch and Judy show that we will have to get used to. We will have to respond and correct each of their articles, especially as they try to promote the original cover story: the false black propaganda and disinformation campaign to promote the idea that Castro was behind the assassination of JFK.

Trump White House v. Media

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Washington Post, Stephen Miller vs. Jim Acosta sent the daily briefing totally off the rails, Callum Borchers, Aug. 3, 2017 (print edition). The White House adviser seemed more determined to expose CNN’s alleged bias than to make the case for Trump’s latest policy proposal.

Politics Around the Nation

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Washington Post, At West Virginia rally, Trump rejects allegations of collusion with Russia as ‘total fabrication,’ John Wagner, Aug. 3, 2017. Prosecutors should look into Hillary Clinton's emails instead, Trump said, and the crowd responded with 'Lock her up!'

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Washington Post, West Virginia’s governor is switching back to the GOP. And Democrats hit a new low, Amber Phillips, Aug. 3, 2017. At a rally for President Trump, Gov. Jim Justice announced that after a few years as a Democrat, he’s becoming a Republican again. His decision leaves the Democratic Party with the fewest governors it has had in modern times. “Like it or not, but the Democrats walked away from me,” he told Trump supporters. " ... West Virginia, I can't help you anymore by being a Democratic governor.”

It's not immediately clear why Justice is doing an about-face. But the fact he is underscores just how fragile Democrats' hold on power is. With one politician's decision to switch parties, Democrats now hold a record-low number of governorships — and Republicans hold a record high. Justice will be the 34th Republican governor, tying an all-time high for the party. Republicans now control both the governor's mansions and state legislatures in 26 states. Democrats have total control in just six states. (In 2018, they'll have a chance to pick up governorships, with Republicans defending 27 of 38 seats, many in blue or purple states.)

“The people of West Virginia deserve better,” state Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R) said of the governor recently during a budget debate. “I don’t believe anybody who owes this state $4.5 million in unpaid taxes is in a position to tell a legislative body that has responsibly managed its own budget for decades . . . how to spend a single penny.”

Aug. 2

Los Angeles Times, Column: Does carrying a gun make you safer? No. In fact, right-to-carry laws increase violent crime, Patt Morrison, Aug. 2, 2017. Does carrying a gun make you safer? Does it make other people safer? Millions of Americans who pack heat think so, and 33 states with “right to carry” laws permit them to tote a gun.

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But a long-range study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that these states would have had less violent crime had they restricted gun-carrying. John J. Donohue, a Stanford law professor and economist (shown at right), is a lead author of the analysis, which used more than 30 years of crime statistics and a novel algorithm: Researchers identified states whose crime rates paralleled those of states like Texas before it passed a “right to carry” law, and came up with models -- called synthetic states -- to look at before-and-after violent crime in right-to-carry states and non-right-to-carry “synthetic” states.

It’s comparing apples and virtual apples, and Donohue – who’s also an expert witness in a right-to-carry lawsuit against the state of California -- concluded that gun-toting indeed makes a difference in violent crime: it can increase it, by as much as 15%.

American FlagDaily Beast, Trump’s DHS Ordered Agents to Block Congressmen During Travel Ban, Betsy Woodruff, Aug. 2, 2017. In the first hours of the travel ban, Trump administration officials stiff-armed Congress, treated lawyer calls like ‘protests,’ and shared photos among themselves of protesters. On the chaotic day the Trump administration’s travel ban went into effect, high-level Homeland Security officials directed their staff at airports around the country to stiff-arm members of Congress and treat lawyers with deep suspicion.

Members of Congress say they’re shocked by the orders, uncovered in documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Daily Beast and the James Madison Project, both of which were represented by the law office of Mark S. Zaid. 

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New York Times, Trump Embraces Immigration System Based on Job Skills, Peter Baker, Aug. 2, 2017. Two Republican senators visited the White House to introduce their legislation, which some critics said would keep out badly needed low-wage workers.

Related story: Washington Post, Trump, GOP senators to introduce bill to slash legal immigration levels, David Nakamura, Aug. 2, 2017. The bill, which aims to cut immigration by half from the current level of more than 1 million green cards per year, is expected to face fierce resistance from congressional Democrats and immigrant rights groups.

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New York Times, Trump Signs Bill Imposing Sanctions Against Russia, Peter Baker, Aug. 2, 2017. The measure, which passed both houses of Congress with near-unanimous votes, has already escalated tensions with the Russian government

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Washington Post, Jared Kushner stepped down from 266 ‘corporate positions.’ What does that mean? Jena McGregor, Aug. 2, 2017 (Print edition). In Donald Trump’s White House, Jared Kushner has many jobs. The president’s son-in-law is a senior adviser to Trump. He has been charged with leading the administration’s “Office of American Innovation,” an entity launched in March with sweeping authority to revamp the federal bureaucracy and bring ideas from the business world to work on issues such as veterans health care and the opioid addiction crisis. He has been described as a shadow diplomat, with a foreign policy portfolio that includes Mexico and the Middle East.

But counting up the titles he stepped down from leading up to Trump's inauguration, and the number looked to some, at first glance, as even more eye-popping. In a recent story following the release of revised filings by Kushner and Ivanka Trump, The Washington Post reported that Kushner had “resigned from 266 corporate positions, and Trump stepped down from 292 positions.”

Global News

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SouthFront, Government Forces Overrun ISIS Defense, Liberate Sabkah Village In Southern Raqqah (Map), Staff report, Aug. 2, 2017. Syrian government forces, led by the Syrian Arab Army Tiger Forces and pro-government tribal forces, have overrun the ISIS defense in the southern Raqqah countryside and liberated the village of Sabkah, according to pro-government sources. Sabkah had been used by ISIS terrorists for conducting counter-attacks against government forces. Government forces will be able to secure the recent gains in southern Raqqah and to develop further their operation against ISIS in the administrative border area between the provinces of Raqqah and Deir Ezzor. 

SouthFront, Syrian Government Disbands Desert Hawks Brigade – Reports, Staff report, Aug. 2, 2017. The Syrian government has reportedly disbanded the Desert Hawks Brigade (Liwa Suqur al-Sahara), a private armed militia founded and led by Colonel Mohammad Jaber. The decision followed of a series of the questionable events linked to the group. According to local sources, tensions with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and other pro-government units were the reason behind the decision. Members of the Desert Hawks Brigade will have an opportunity to join pro-government units.

Voting Litigation

Politico, Appeals court won't block Kobach deposition, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 2, 2017. A federal appeals court has turned down Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's emergency request to escape a deposition set for Thursday about voter registration proposals he took into a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last November.

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Kobach (shown in an official photo) is facing a deposition in connection with a lawsuit pending in federal district court in Kansas City, challenging the state's law requiring proof of citizenship when individuals are seeking to register to vote. A federal judge already ordered Kobach to turn over a memo he took into the meeting with Trump in November at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Kobach is currently serving as vice chairman of a federal advisory panel Trump set up to explore strategies to combat voter fraud.

JFK Assassination Records Release

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Politico, How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder, Philip Shenon and Larry J. Sabato, Aug. 2, 2017. Newly released documents from long-secret Kennedy assassination files raise startling questions about what top agency officials knew and when they knew it.

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After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963, the CIA appeared eager, even desperate, to embrace the version of events being offered by the FBI, the Secret Service and other parts of the government.

The official story: that a delusional misfit and self-proclaimed Marxist named Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president in Dallas with his $21 mail-order rifle and there was no evidence of a conspiracy, foreign or domestic. Certainly, the CIA’s leaders told the Warren Commission, the independent panel that investigated the murder, there was no evidence of a conspiracy that the spy agency could have foiled.

But thousands of pages of long-secret, assassination-related documents released by the National Archives last week show that, within a few years of Kennedy’s murder, some in the CIA began to worry internally that the official story was wrong — an alarm the agency never sounded publicly.

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Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), AARC Board responds to Sabato and Shenon, Editorial Board, Aug. 2, 2017. On July 25, 2017, the Washington post published an opinion piece, President Trump, give us the full story on the JFK assassination, by Larry Sabato and Phil Shenon. The following three responses to that article are contributed by AARC Board members Dr. Don Thomas, Malcolm Blunt, and Dr. Gary Aguilar.

Larry Sabato, University of VirginiaDr. Donald B. Thomas: In an otherwise persuasively reasoned op-ed in the Washington Post arguing for unfettered release of JFK assassination documents (as required by law), Philip Shenon and Larry Sabato (shown at left) indulged in uninformed and unsupported overstatement by claiming that “… 21st-century forensic science demonstrates that Oswald was almost certainly the lone gunman in Dallas…”

A novice reading that statement would likely conclude that there have been recent (since 2000) scientific studies that incriminate Lee Harvey Oswald in the JFK murder case. But there are none. Not one. There is not even one that claims to be. There have been excellent (and otherwise) forensic studies on the JFK evidence in recent years, but none of them inculpate anyone. In short it is a Trumpism – made up –  fake news. Shenon and Sabato’s bald claim about the forensics is an alternative fact, the very sort of invention the Washington Post should be striving hard to avoid.

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Houston Chronicle, Jim Marrs, Texas-based conspiracy theorist and author, dies at 73, Craig Hlavaty, August 3, 2017. Jim Marrs, shown in a portrait and best-known for his work researching the various theories surrounding the JFK assassination, UFOs, and a guest on many talk shows, died this week at the age of 73. According to his official Facebook page he died of a heart attack on Wednesday.

He had recently been put on dialysis. The Fort Worth-native was a mainstay on late-night radio show "Coast to Coast AM" and the "Alex Jones' Infowars" program. In late June, Marrs posted a note on his official website that said he was suspending work on the site to address his health issues.

Science News

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New York Times, Breakthrough Reported in Gene Editing in Human Embryo, Paem Belluck, In a major milestone, researchers have found a way to reliably remove disease-causing mutations from human embryos. The achievement raises the prospect that gene editing may one day protect babies from a variety of conditions but is sure to renew ethical concerns.

Culture Shifts

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New York Times, Uneasy Welcome as Ultra-Orthodox Jews Extend Beyond New York, Joseph Berger, Aug. 2, 2017. To the gentrifying stew of bankers, artists and college graduates who are transforming this once blue-collar city across the Hudson River from Manhattan, add an unexpected flavor. In a heavily African-American neighborhood, 62 families from a number of Hasidic sects based in Brooklyn and rarely seen here have bought a scattering of faded but roomy wood-frame rowhouses whose prices are less than half what homes of similar size would cost in New York — roughly $300,000 compared with $800,000.

These families are pioneers in a demographic and religious shift that is reshaping communities throughout the region. The influx, however, has provoked tensions with long-established residents, as the ultra-Orthodox seek to establish a larger footprint for their surging population.

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Haaretz (Israel), Opinion: Netanyahu Jr. Refuses to Pick Up Dog Poop, Then Claws at His Critics, Uri Misgav, Aug. 2, 2017. 25-year-old Yair Netanyahu responds to bad press with scathing attacks on the New Israel Fund and sons of former Israeli prime ministers.

Russian Flag

New York Post, Russia PM predicts establishment will ‘remove’ Trump from power, Bob Fredericks, Aug. 2, 2017. Russia’s prime minister said Wednesday that a new sanctions bill signed by President Trump earlier in the day was the first shot of a “full-scale trade war” — and predicted the US president would be booted from office.

“The issue of sanctions came about, primarily, as another way to knock Trump down a peg,” Dimitry Medvedev wrote in a Facebook post. “New steps are to come, and they will ultimately aim to remove him from power.” Medvedev also said that the sanctions showed the Trump administration was powerless. “The hope that our relations with the new American administration would improve is finished,” he wrote.

Trump signed the bill, which he called deeply flawed, to punish Russia for election meddling. “The US establishment fully outwitted Trump; the President is not happy about the new sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill,” the Russian prime minister wrote. The law also targets North Korea and Iran for their nuclear programs.

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Washington Post, Trump’s golf game tells us an awful lot about Trump, Dana Milbank, Aug. 2, 2017. The late golf legend Bobby Jones called his sport “the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots — but you have to play the ball where it lies.” Unless you are Donald Trump.

I just read one of the best pieces of political journalism of the Trump age. It’s Sports Illustrated’s report on the president’s golf game. He breaks rules, exaggerates scores and ignores the game’s decorum. Sound familiar? He is, Sports Illustrated asserted, “easily the best golfer” ever to occupy the White House. Likewise, he is an enormously talented politician, with a genius for marketing. Yet in golf, as in life, he doesn’t leave it at that. He gilds the lily with dishonesty.

Aug. 1

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Washington Post, Trump dictated son’s misleading statement on meeting with Russian lawyer, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Philip Rucker and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 1, 2017 (print edition). President Trump’s personal intervention, described by people with knowledge of the deliberations, is part of a series of actions that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy as the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election proceeds.

Lawsuit Claims Bogus Fox News Political Scandal Story

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New York Times, Lawsuit Asserts White House Role in Fox News Article on Seth Rich, Emily Steel, Aug. 1, 2017. The private detective at the center of a Fox News article about the death of a young Democratic aide claims that the White House and a wealthy Trump supporter urged the network to publish the article as part of a scheme to blunt speculation about the president’s ties to Russia, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

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Rod Wheeler, who was hired by the family of the aide, Seth Rich, to look into his death, filed the lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, accusing the network of fabricating quotes from him in an article on FoxNews.com. Mr. Wheeler states that the network was aware that he had not said the statements yet it published them “with reckless disregard for their truth.”

The network later retracted the article, saying it did not meet its standards.

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In the suit, Mr. Wheeler, who is a Fox News contributor, asserts that he was a pawn in a broader plan by the White House, a Trump supporter named Ed Butowsky and Fox News to “shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election.” The lawsuit, alleging defamation and racial discrimination, was filed Tuesday morning in the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee, was fatally shot in July 2016. The case is unsolved. The retracted article, citing law enforcement sources, said Mr. Rich had shared thousands of D.N.C. emails with WikiLeaks — a theory that would undercut the assertions that Russia had interfered in the election on behalf of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Wheeler, who is black, states in the suit that he has faced discrimination at Fox News because of his race. Mr. Wheeler, who is paid a set amount for each appearance he makes on the network, says that he has received less airtime, money and notoriety than his white colleagues.

Jay Wallace, the president of news at Fox News, said in a statement: “The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman.”

“Additionally, Fox News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race,” Mr. Wallace added.

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Washington Post, Sean Spicer claimed to be unaware of Seth Rich story after meeting with donor who pushed it, David Weigel and Paul Farhi, Aug. 1, 2017. Outgoing White House communications director Sean Spicer (shown below in a screenshot) has admitted meeting with a Republican donor who shopped a conspiracy-soaked story about a dead staffer at the Democratic National Committee, despite telling reporters that he was unaware of the story when Fox News ran several segments about it.

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In a lawsuit first reported by NPR’s David Folkenflik, Fox contributor and private investigator Rod Wheeler described his work with Republican donor Ed Butowsky to attempt to prove an explosive claim that has since been debunked — that Seth Rich, an DNC IT staffer who was killed in Washington, D.C., last year, had been the source of internal emails later published by WikiLeaks. Rich’s killing remains unsolved.

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Washington Post, A timeline of the explosive lawsuit alleging a White House link in the Seth Rich conspiracy, Philip Bump​, Aug. 1, 2017. The suit claims that the president may have been aware of or involved in a discredited Fox News story about the killing of a Democratic National Committee staffer in Washington.

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It’s a complicated story that, we hasten to add, is based on allegations in a lawsuit filed by a person whose quotes in that discredited story were themselves discredited. But the lawsuit includes documentary evidence (like text messages), and Folkenflik was given access to recorded calls that bolster the story as presented. What’s more, the lawsuit is predicated on Wheeler’s assertion that he never said the quotes attributed to him.

Given the complexity of the story, we’ve taken the details in the lawsuit and arranged them as a timeline. First, though, it’s important to understand the cast of characters.

Elsewhere In Washington

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New York Times, Trump Inquiry Hints at a Bias Against Whites by Universities, Charlie Savage, Aug. 1, 2017. The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

Roll Call, Christopher Wray Faces Challenges as New FBI Director, Todd Ruger, Aug. 1, 2017. Senate confirms new director (shown above) on 92-5 vote, showing bipartisan support Tuesday’s confirmation vote of 92-5 is a rare moment of bipartisanship for a Trump nominee, especially because of the president’s abrupt firing of James B. Comey from the FBI post in May and his reasons for doing so.

Wray starts a 10-year term at the helm of the bureau, which has 30,000 agents and open counterterrorism investigations across the nation. Both House and Senate appropriators have increased funding for the FBI in fiscal 2018 spending bills, saying the real and evolving threats of cybercrime, terrorism and espionage must be addressed.

The job will be made even tougher in the unsettled political environment after his predecessor’s exit. Among other reasons, Trump said he fired Comey over the handling of the Russia investigation and called Comey “a show boat” and “grand stander,” and charged “the FBI has been in turmoil.”

“Quite simply, he is as professional and as nonpolitically associated as anyone can be going into this position,” Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal (shown in an official photo), a Judiciary Committee member and one of the most vocal opponents of Trump nominees, said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

CNN, Only once had a US Senator ever voted against a nominee for FBI director -- until today, Staff report, Aug. 1, 2017. Five Democrats cast their ballots Tuesday afternoon opposing the confirmation of Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the country's top investigative agency. The vote was 92-5. The final list of negative votes included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden. Historically, lawmakers have aimed for broad bipartisan support on pivotal, nonpartisan nominees, but data shows lawmakers and their constituents are more divided than they've been in decades.

Democracy Now!, Wray Confirmed as FBI Director as Questions Swirl over His Past Record & Close Ties to Big Business, Host Amy Goodman interviews guests James Henry and Marcy Wheeler, Aug. 2, 2017. The Senate has confirmed longtime corporate lawyer Christopher Wray, in a 92-to-5 vote, to become the next director of the FBI, replacing James Comey, who was fired by Donald Trump in May. In an unprecedented vote, five senators, all Democrats, voted against Wray. Before yesterday, only one senator had ever voted against an FBI nominee. Before yesterday, only one senator had ever voted against an FBI nominee. In addition, three senators abstained from the vote.

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Senator Ron Wyden, who voted against Wray’s confirmation, said he did so because of Wray’s position on government surveillance. "In his public and private statements, Chris Wray failed to oppose government backdoors into Americans’ personal devices, or to acknowledge the facts about encryption. That it isn’t about liberty versus security, it’s about more security versus less security." The American Civil Liberties Union also criticized Wray for his involvement in the U.S. torture program under George W. Bush. We speak with independent journalist Marcy Wheeler and economist James Henry.

For more on Christopher Wray, we’re joined by two guests. Marcy Wheeler is with us. She is an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net, joining us from Michigan. And joining us via Democracy Now! video stream is economist and lawyer James Henry, global justice fellow at Yale University, senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company. He recently wrote for The American Interest a piece that is headlined "No Wray."

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Washington Post, EPA doing the ‘right thing’ is ‘not possible’ under Trump, says latest protesting official, Joe Davidson​, Aug. 1, 2017. ​After 30 years at the agency, Elizabeth “Betsy” Southerland became the latest “heartbroken" person to leave the federal workforce. Elizabeth “Betsy” Southerland loved her work at the Environmental Protection Agency. Then Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt came along.

Now Southerland, who was director of science and technology in the agency’s Office of Water, said she is “heartbroken about the impact of the new administration on environmental protection in this country.” After 30 years at EPA, her last day was Monday.

Southerland becomes the latest in a series of protesting federal scientists. She denounced the destructive environmental policies of President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt. Family concerns played an important role in her decision to leave, but she also can’t stomach the current direction of an agency that answers to a White House wallowing in disarray and disgrace.

In a statement planned for release Tuesday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and during email and phone interviews with The Washington Post, she talked about how “EPA has been the guiding light to make the ‘right thing’ happen for the greater good, including public health and safety.” But with Trump and Pruitt in charge, “that will not be possible under the current administration.”

“There is no question,” she said, “the administration is seriously weakening EPA’s mission by vigorously pursuing an industry deregulation approach and defunding implementation of environmental programs.” Southerland went public with her opposition to Trump’s environmental program, because she said “I felt it was my civic duty to explain the impact of this administration’s policies on public health and safety.”

Raw Story, Omarosa keeps ‘dossiers’ on president’s enemies — and is seeking ‘revenge’ on friends who didn’t back Trump, Eric W. Dolan, Aug. 1, 2017. Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former Apprentice star turned White House communications official, is reportedly keeping tabs on the “enemies” of President Donald Trump. According to the Daily Mail, the former reality TV star is keeping a “dossier” on her political rivals. Manigault has targeted journalists April Ryan and Roland Martin and Pastor Jamal Bryant in particular.

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The three public figures once were on friendly terms with Manigault, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore. But their relationships broke down during the 2016 presidential campaign. “It’s shocking that three people she once considered her close friends are not just her personal nemeses, but she’s always bashing in meetings with senior White House staff and has her team keeping a dossier on each of them,” one source told the Daily Mail.

Manigault served as the Trump campaign’s director of African-American outreach. Now she is the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison for the Trump administration. In March, she confronted Ryan and reportedly threatened to smear her as “a paid Clinton surrogate.” Ryan said Manigault “stood right in my face like she was going to hit me” during the confrontation just outside the West Wing.

JFK Assassination Cover-up

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Future of Freedom Foundation, Will Trump Continue the CIA’s Cover-Up in the JFK Assassination? Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at left), Aug. 1, 2017. Last week, the National Archives suddenly released a batch of long-secret official records relating to the JFK assassination. This was surprising because the official release date for all the JFK-assassination records, as mandated by law, is coming this October. The still-secret records amount to tens of thousands of pages of documents, many of which are records of the CIA, the super-secret federal agency that has specialized in the art of assassination, cover-up of assassination, and regime change practically since its inception in 1947.

Jacob HornbergerThe gig is finally up. With one possible exception: The CIA can request President Trump to continue the secrecy on grounds of “national security.” If the president grants the request, the secrecy continues. If it doesn’t, the secrecy finally comes to an end, at least with respect to the CIA’s records that have been in the custody of the National Archives for the past 25 years.

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Will the CIA seek another secrecy extension? Will the agency tell President Trump that “national security” will be threatened if the American people are permitted to see its 54-year-old records? I don’t have any doubts about it, and I’ve been saying that for several months now.

Just as I and others have been predicting for several months. Of course, there will be those who will cry “National security, Jacob!” or simply chalk it up to the CIA’s customary penchant for secrecy.

Do the still-secret records contain a videotaped confession by CIA officials stating that they orchestrated the assassination of President Kennedy to protect “national security,” just as they orchestrated regime-change operations in Cuba, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Brazil, Congo, Chile, and elsewhere to protect “national security”? Of course not.

But the CIA knows that the still-secret records will provide further bits of circumstantial evidence that further fill in the overall mosaic of what happened. That’s why they’re going to ask Trump to continue the secrecy — to prevent assassination researchers from getting their hands on those additional pieces of circumstantial evidence.

Inside the Trump Empire

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Raw Story, Scaramucci secretly dined with Katrina Pierson at Trump Hotel hours after firing announced, Sarah K. Burris, Aug. 1, 2017. Just moments after being “released” from his position as communications director, Anthony Scaramucci headed to the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. Hanging out at the Trump Hotel’s BLT Prime, Scaramucci sat on his cell phone most of the night and barely even touched his food, the Daily Mail reported.

He was there with other Trump loyalists, including Katrina Pierson, who is working for Trump’s PAC (and shown in Scaramucci in television screenshots from previous appearances). The group chose a secluded table in the corner under a tree, reminiscent of former press secretary Sean Spicer hiding “among” the bushes outside the west wing of the White House. He declined to be interviewed and left quietly through a side door. Meanwhile, his old boss President Donald Trump was tweeting about what a great day it was.

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Washington Post, Chelsea Clinton defends White House staff after Trump reportedly calls the place ‘a real dump,’ Emily Heil, Aug. 1, 2017. A White House spokesman denied that the president, who frequently spends weekends at his own properties rather than at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., insulted the executive mansion, as reported by Golf.com.

Washington Post, Debt-ceiling talks between White House, Senate break up with no progress, Damian Paletta​, Aug. 1, 2017. The Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29, when the Treasury Department says it would no longer be able to pay all of the government’s bills unless Congress acts. Talks between the White House and the Senate’s top Republican and Democrat broke up Tuesday with no progress on raising the country’s debt ceiling, an impasse that threatens a financial crisis if left unresolved.

 Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin is shown in an official photoThe Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29, when the Treasury Department says it would no longer be able to pay all of the government’s bills unless Congress acts. A default would likely set off a major disruption to the world financial system, with a stock market crash and surging interest rates that could send the economy into a recession. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin is shown in an official photo.

HuffPo, Why The Mooch Lost His Cool, Vicky Ward, Aug. 1, 2017. Anthony Scaramucci tells HuffPost about the highs and lows of his fiery stint at the White House and what that cuss-filled rant was really about. I received a call Monday night from Roger Stone, the infamous political prankster and Donald Trump confidant. He wanted to talk about Anthony Scaramucci, whose 10-day tenure as White House communications director had just ended in ignominy.

Stone said that Scaramucci reminded him of “a suicide bomber,” then switched centuries for his next metaphor. “The administration is like the French Revolution,” Stone said. “You never know who will be beheaded next.” But Stone didn’t believe that Scaramucci would stay far from the president for long. “As you know, none of us are ever really gone. He still has the president’s cellphone, the president’s private number. Just because he’s not in the White House, no one should think his influence has gone.”

Politico, Wife of new Mueller prosecutor just bailed as judge in 2 Trump cases, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 1, 2017. A federal judge who is the wife of a lawyer joining special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation recently recused herself from a pair of lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump's business dealings with foreign governments. Mueller's office confirmed Tuesday evening that former fraud and corruption prosecutor Greg Andres has agreed to join the special counsel staff.

The development offers an explanation for the previously unanswered question of why U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams, who married Andres in 2001, suddenly recused herself last month from the emoluments lawsuits. One of the cases was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in Washington and the other was brought by White Plains, N.Y. attorney William Weinstein.

TruNews, Saudi Arabia Asks Judge to Dismiss 9/11 JASTA Lawsuits, Staff report, Aug. 1, 2017. On Tuesday Saudi Arabia asked a U.S. Judge to dismiss 25 lawsuits claiming that it helped plan the terror attacks on September 11th 2001 and should pay damages to victims.  In a filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Saudi Arabia said the plaintiffs cannot show that the kingdom or any affiliated charities were behind the attacks. It also said it deserved sovereign immunity.

The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the attacks, in which airplanes hijacked by al Qaeda crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, and a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3,000 people died. Saudi Arabia is being sued for billions of dollars by the families of roughly 2,500 of those killed, more than 20,000 people who suffered injuries, businesses and various insurers.

"It is what we expected," James Kreindler, a lawyer representing the wrongful death claimants, said in an interview, referring to Tuesday's filing. "We have tons of allegations of what many Saudis and the country's alter ego charities did. Saudi Arabia cannot hide from the facts."

In September 2015, U.S. District Judge George Daniels, who oversees the litigation, had dismissed claims by victims' families. But last September, the U.S. Congress overrode a veto by President Barack Obama and adopted the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which permits such claims to proceed. In Tuesday's filing, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that JASTA eliminated some of its defenses. But it said the plaintiffs still could not show that any Saudi official, employee or agent planned or carried out the attacks.

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Apartheid-Era Political Assassination In South Africa?

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South Africa's flag under its racist apartheid regime is shown above. The current flag, adopted in 1994, is at right

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Washington Post, An anti-apartheid activist died in police custody in 1971. New testimony points to murder, Kyle Swenson, Aug. 1, 2017. Ernest Matthis spied the falling body but heard no scream. It was late afternoon, October 1971. The South African prosecutor was in the middle of a witness interview, part of an ongoing insurance investigation. “I was standing some distance from the window and I saw a person fall,” Matthis recounted last week in a courtroom in Pretoria.

Below, Ahmed Timol wrestled with his last breaths. A Muslim schoolteacher and political activist, the 29-year-old had been arrested six days earlier. Above, on the Vorster Square’s 10th floor, were the offices of the South African Police’s Special Branch, the much-feared ideological shock troopers tasked with uprooting dissent — and the unit that had grabbed Timol and a friend from a checkpoint.

Nicolás Maduro

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Washington Post, As Maduro takes Venezuela into uncharted waters, the opposition has few options, Anthony Faiola and Heather Long, Aug. 1, 2017. The United States imposed sanctions on President Nicolás Maduro (shown above) after a controversial election that critics called a tipping point toward dictatorship.

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This photo released by Pakistan's Muslim League shows Pakistani ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing a party in Islamabad, Pakistan on July 29, 2017.

Center for Public Integrity, Pakistani PM disqualified by court over Panama Papers links, Hamish Boland-Rudder and Martha M. Hamilton, Aug. 1, 2017. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has voted unanimously to disqualify Nawaz Sharif from the prime ministership and has referred his case to the country's top anti-corruption authority for an investigation into his family's offshore assets, as revealed in the Panama Papers.

Pakistan flagSharif's removal comes one year before he was due to end his third term as Pakistan's leader, and means his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, will need to appoint an interim prime minister to serve until the next election in mid-2018.

The case now goes to Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau for an investigation into the family’s alleged corruption. According to the BBC, the Supreme Court also recommended anti-corruption cases against Sharif’s daughter Mariam and her husband Safdar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others. The News reports that Safdar and Dar have also been disqualified from their offices.

The outcome marked a perhaps predictable end to a process that had consisted of one negative finding after another for the prime minister and his family after the Panama Papers reported on April 3, 2016 that his family owned expensive properties in London through offshore companies.

Little more than a month later, Sharif, facing calls for his resignation, abruptly left Pakistan and checked himself into a London hospital. Through his lawyer, Sharif told the Pakistan Supreme Court that he did not own any shell companies or property through offshore holdings himself without addressing whether his children did. The embattled prime minister subsequently returned to Pakistan after undergoing heart bypass surgery.