October 2017 News Reports


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

Oct. 18

Justice System

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 James ComeyWashington Post, Trump revives feud with fired FBI director, asks whether James Comey was truthful about Clinton probe, Anne Gearan​, Oct. 18, 2017. In a pair of early-morning tweets, the president suggested that Comey (shown at right) had intended to spare Democrat Hillary Clinton from prosecution “long before” the investigation into her government email practices was complete.

 

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Jeff SessionsWashington Post, Federal judge blasts Trump administration attempts to deny abortion for pregnant, undocumented teen, Maria Sacchetti, Oct. 18, 2017. A federal judge said Wednesday that she was “astounded” the U.S. government is blocking a detained Central American teenager from terminating her pregnancy, during a fiery court hearing that showcased Trump administration efforts to restrict abortion and illegal immigration.

 

Lawyers for Attorney General Jeff Sessions (right) signaled to U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in Washington that the 17-year-old, who crossed the border from Mexico illegally last month, did not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion in federal custody, unless it was a medical emergency.

Chutkan, an Obama administration nominee, said the government appeared to be presenting the teenager identified in court papers as “Jane Doe” with two options: Voluntarily return to a nation she fled to procure an abortion, or carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

“I am astounded by that position,” Chutkan said in a 40-minute hearing that was mostly consumed by a back-and-forth between the judge and Scott Stewart, a deputy assistant attorney general.

 

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Washington Post, Trump blasts NFL for not adopting a requirement that players stand during anthem, John Wagner, Oct. 1, 2017. The president accused the league of “total disrespect for our great country” following a meeting where team owners did not adopt a requirement for players to stand during the national anthem.

RollCall, Trump Claims Proof Rep. Wilson Fabricated Words to Military Widow, John T. Bennett, Oct. 18, 2017. President’s warning harkens back to initial Comey tapes claim A Democratic Florida congresswoman became the latest target of a morning presidential twitter attack, with Donald Trump alleging Rep. Frederica Wilson “totally fabricated” his call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger.

Trump called the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before his body was returned to the United States during a ceremony at Miami International Airport. Wilson told several media outlets she was traveling with his widow, Myeshia Johnson, who took the call on her car’s sound system, allowing all passengers to overhear it. See also:

ny times logoNew York Times, Mother of Slain Soldier Says Trump Was Disrespectful, Yamiche Alcindor, Mark Landler and Eileen Sullivan, Oct. 18, 2017.  President Trump said the soldier “knew what he signed up for” during a condolence call, the mother of Sgt. La David T. Johnson said, backing the account of a Democratic lawmaker.

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Washington Post, Second judge halts latest travel ban, says Trump’s own words show it was aimed at Muslims, Matt Zapotosky​, Oct. 18, 2017.  U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang of Maryland asserted that the president’s comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the travel order was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban. Earlier, a judge in Hawaii had largely blocked the Trump administration from implementing the ban on various types of travelers from six countries hours before it was set to go into effect today.

Global News

 

indonesia flagny times logoNew York Times, As Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, U.S. Stayed Silent, Hannag Beech, Oct. 18, 2017.  The killings in 1965-66 played to anti-Communist attitudes, and U.S. diplomats mostly stood by while tallying the deaths, documents show. It was an anti-Communist blood bath of at least half a million Indonesians. And American officials watched it happen without raising any public objections, at times even applauding the forces behind the killing, according to newly declassified State Department files that show diplomats meticulously documenting the purge in 1965-66.

In one of the documents, released on Tuesday, an American political affairs counselor describes how Indonesian officials dealt with prisons overflowing with suspected members of the Indonesian Communist Party, known by the acronym P.K.I. “Many provinces appear to be successfully meeting this problem by executing their P.K.I. prisoners, or by killing them before they are captured,” said the cable sent in 1965 from the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, to the State Department.

Sukarno Another cable describes how clerics from an influential Muslim organization in Indonesia advised their flocks that atheist “P.K.I. members are classified as lowest order of infidel, the shedding of whose blood is comparable to killing a chicken.”

The level of detail in the cables helps fill out a picture, outlined by previous declassifications of documents, relating to how an anti-American leader in Indonesia (the nation's founding President Sukarno) was deposed by the military amid mass extrajudicial executions. JIP Editor's note: The CIA was reportedly heavily involved in seeking beginning in the late 1950s to overthrow Sukarno, a leader of nations "non-aligned" with either Washington or Moscow.)

Oct. 17

 

Trump's Press Conference

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump thanks Bill Clinton’s FEMA Director for praising his Puerto Rico response – but it never happened, Bill Palmer, Oct. 17, 2017. Donald Trump held an impromptu press conference in the Rose Garden on Monday, which proved to be controversial when he was exposed as not having called the families of the U.S. soldiers who died on October 4th, and then he was caught falsely claiming that previous presidents hadn’t made such calls.

That created such controversy that another bizarre lie from Trump during that same press conference nearly slipped under the radar. Trump made a point of thanking President Bill Clinton’s former FEMA Secretary James Lee Witt for having praised the post-hurricane response in Puerto Rico. Trump even went so far as to claim that he had “always had a lot of respect” for Witt. The first problem: Trump and his administration had never even heard of Witt, according to a Politico report (link). The second problem: Witt never even said it to begin with.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump finally calls families of fallen U.S. soldiers, makes offensive remark to soldier’s widow, Bill Palmer, Oct. 17, 2017. It took thirteen days, five rounds of golf, and being publicly called out for it by reporters before Donald Trump finally got around to calling the families of the four U.S soldiers who were killed in action in Niger. Now that Trump finally made the calls on Tuesday, he acted so embarrassingly offensively during at least one of those calls, it would probably have been better if he hadn’t called at all.

Trump called the pregnant widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson on Tuesday, and told the widow that Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” according to a local ABC News affiliate in Miami. This was confirmed by local State Representative Frederica Wilson, who condemned Trump for having been “so insensitive” to the grieving widow during the call. This points to several underlying problems, each of them more disturbing than the next.

First, it’s clear that Trump didn’t want to make these calls. No president would ever look forward to such a thing, but every modern president has done it in a timely manner, because it’s part of the job. Based on the amount of time that passed, Trump was clearly trying to get away with simply never making the calls. Second, this is a reminder that Trump has no people skills, no leadership skills, and no clue how to get through a conversation without saying something patently offensive. There’s also a third concern which may point to yet another of Trump’s basic failings as a human.

It’s been pointed out that Army Sgt. La David Johnson was the only African-American of the four U.S soldiers who were killed in the operation. Did Donald Trump also tell the families of the other fallen soldiers that they also knew what they had signed up for, or did he reserve these harshly offensive words for the one black family he spoke with? Donald Trump’s consistently racist words and policies raise the question of whether this was yet another instance of racism on his part.

Suppressed John F. Kennedy Assassination Documents

George Burkley, MD,  Warren Commission testimony (U.S. Navy photo) Rear Admiral George Burkley MD. Despite his position, his face was never seen at the Warren Commission Hearings. Photo credit: US Navy

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Kennedy Assassination: Evidence Seen by JFK’s Doctor Suppressed, Milicent Cranor, Oct. 17, 2017. The highly anticipated release of long-withheld US government documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is scheduled for October 26. In the runup to this event, the media have devoted more attention to this history-altering political murder than at any time since the Oliver Stone film “JFK” came out in 1991.

As one of the outlets digging deep into the tragedy, WhoWhatWhy has pointed out that many questions remain unanswered and many key issues are yet unresolved. Accordingly, we are dedicating more articles to the topic leading up to the highly-anticipated data dump , and we are putting together a crack team to analyze the documents once they are released.

The story of Captain James Young, a Navy doctor who said he found a bullet in President John F. Kennedy’s limousine on the day of his assassination, could have been corroborated by the president’s own physician. However, for unknown reasons, JFK’s doctor — Rear Admiral George G. Burkley, who was present in the trauma room in Dallas, and also at Kennedy’s autopsy — never got a chance to talk about the events of that day.

Below is proof that Burkley wanted to testify, and that what he had to say was suppressed at several levels. What survives is a memo concerning Burkley’s belief that other people participated in Kennedy’s assassination. Whether this opinion is based on the discovery of the bullet described in our earlier story, or something else, we will never know.

Anti-Mueller View On 'Political Prosecutions'

WGBH News (Boston), Silverglate: How Robert Mueller Tried To Entrap Me, Harvey Silverglate, Oct. 17, 2017. Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense and First Amendment lawyer and writer, is WGBH/News’ “Freedom Watch” columnist. Is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, appointed in mid-May to lead the investigation into suspected ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and various shady (aren’t they all?) Russian officials, the choirboy that he’s being touted to be, or is he more akin to a modern-day Tomas de Torquemada, the Castilian Dominican friar who was the first Grand Inquisitor in the 15th Century Spanish Inquisition?

Given the rampant media partisanship since the election, one would think that Mueller’s appointment would lend credibility to the hunt for violations of law by candidate, now-President Trump and his minions.

But I have known Mueller during key moments of his career as a federal prosecutor. My experience has taught me to approach whatever he does in the Trump investigation with a requisite degree of skepticism or, at the very least, extreme caution.

Other U.S. Politics and Government

Politico, White House: Americans are 'going to be begging for four more years of President Trump,' Nolan D. McCaskill, Oct. 17, 2017. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders predicted Tuesday that President Donald Trump will be so successful in the remainder of his term that Americans are “going to be begging for four more years of President Trump.”

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tom marino oWashington Post, Marino withdraws as drug czar nominee amid criticism over bill that hobbled DEA, Anne Gearan, Lenny Bernstein, Scott Higham and Ed O'Keefe, Oct. 17, 2017. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) came under fire after revelations he helped steer legislation making it harder to act against giant drug companies. On Monday, President Trump declined to express confidence in his pick to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Awkward Show of Unity: Trump and McConnell Make Nice, Michael D. Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 17, 2017 (print edition).  President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony on Monday after months of bitter, private feuding that threatened to undermine their party’s legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

Mitchell McConnellIn an impromptu, 45-minute Rose Garden news conference after the men met for lunch at the White House, Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell (shown at left) both put on a display of awkward camaraderie, as the president went on volubly, fielding question after question as the senator fidgeted and spoke only occasionally.

Through it all, they tried to wave aside reports of a disintegrating relationship that had included the president’s repeated use of tweets to publicly disparage Mr. McConnell’s legislative leadership.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says, Falsely, That Obama Ignored Families of the Fallen, Mark Landler, Oct. 17, 2017 (print edition). President Trump’s assertion belied a long record of meetings his predecessor, Barack Obama, held with the families of killed service members, as well as calls and letters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Save the Phony Weinstein Outrage, Republicans, Michelle Goldberg, Oct. 17, 2017 (print edition).The movie business is corrupt, depraved and iniquitous — and still morally superior to the Republican Party under Trump. The Republican Party under Trump.

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Washington Post, Trump reportedly mocked Pence, joked about him wanting to ‘hang’ gays, Derek Hawkins, Oct. 17, 2017. President Trump and his administration are beset by controversies and scandals that refuse to go away. His list of critics is growing. Some of his allies are abandoning him. Others are calling for his impeachment. Even former White House chief strategist and Trump whisperer Stephen K. Bannon has, according to Vanity Fair, told people he thinks Trump has a mere 30 percent chance of completing his term.

With all that on the table, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer took a deep look at the political and financial forces behind Vice President Pence (shown at right), the man who would succeed Trump in the event of his ouster. In a profile published Monday, titled The Danger of President Pence, Mayer reported on the outsize influence the vice president and his network of megadonors — particularly the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers — have had on Trump’s agenda since Pence became his running mate.

Global News: Raqqa Falls In Syria

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Washington Post, U.S.-backed forces declare victory in onetime capital of the Islamic State, Louisa Loveluck and Liz Sly, Oct. 17, 2017. U.S.-backed forces in Syria claimed full control of the Islamic State’s onetime capital of Raqqa on Tuesday, heralding an end to the militants’ presence in their most symbolically important stronghold and bringing closer the likelihood of their complete territorial demise.

Talo Silo, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, said that military operations have halted and that members of the joint Kurdish-Arab force are clearing the city of explosive devices and hunting for sleeping cells. It was still unclear whether some Islamic State pockets remained, but the SDF portrayed the battle for Raqqa as effectively over.

Global News: Kurdish State Doomed By Greed, Autocracy?

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Syria, Iraq -- Why The Kurdish Independence Project Failed, B,  Oct. 17, 2017. The bid of the Kurdish Barzani clan for an independent Kurdistan in north Iraq and beyond has utterly failed. Masoud Barzani, the strongman of the Iraqi Kurdish  region, had called for the referendum to divert from his government's financial problems. Other Kurdish powerhouses saw it as a last attempt by Barzani to save his failing political position.

The referendum asked for independence including in "Kurdistani areas outside the (Kurdistan) Region". It was an annexation bid. National Iraqi forces as well as the international powers turned against it. Masoud Barzani and his family are now likely to lose their leading position.

The various unilateral Kurdish assertions since 2003 will be driven back. The dream of Kurdish independence in Iraq and Syria is, for now, dead. This is a positive development for both countries. Since 2003 and especially since 2014 the Kurds had pushed far beyond their original borders. They occupied areas with diverse populations and with critical Iraqi oil reserves. With backing from the Iraqi parliament, public opinion and international support the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Abadi had for months demanded a return of the 2003 borders. It condemned the illegal independence bid.

The ruling Barzani family mafia sold the oil and pocketed the money that by law was owned to Iraq's federal government. The Barzani militia mafia occupied the federal border stations to neighboring countries and kept all custom income to themselves. Meanwhile teachers and other public workers in the Kurdish region went unpaid.

The war against ISIS is coming to an end. The Kurds in Syria will now also be cut back to size. With less than 8% of the population the YPG-led Kurds had taken control of 20% of the land and some 40% of the hydrocarbon resources. They will have to give up those gains.

Global News: Moscow Claims U.S. Let ISIS Terrorists Escape From Raqqa To Fight Elsewhere

SouthFront, Moscow To Investigate U.S. Actions Allowing Terrorists To Enter Syria, Staff report, Oct. 17, 2017.  Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov says Moscow will investigate the US letting militants in Syria and Iraq get away. “I hope this isn’t deliberate,” he added.

History Revealed: Indonesia

hajji suhartoGeneral of the Army Hajji Suharto (also spelled Soeharto) was the second President of Indonesia, holding the office for 31 years from the ousting of Sukarno in 1967 until his resignation in 1998. He is shown above at center left in camouflage during the military coup and below in 1993.

National Security Archive, U.S. Embassy Tracked Indonesia Mass Murder 1965, Edited by Brad Simpson, (Founder and Director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project, and Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies, University of Connecticut), Oct. 17, 2017. Newly Declassified U.S. Embassy Jakarta Files Detail Army Killings, U.S. support for Quashing Leftist Labor Movement:  National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 607.

Hajji Suharto (1993)The U.S. government had detailed knowledge that the Indonesian Army was conducting a campaign of mass murder against the country’s Communist Party (PKI) starting in 1965, according to newly declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University. The new materials further show that diplomats in the Jakarta Embassy kept a record of which PKI leaders were being executed, and that U.S. officials actively supported Indonesian Army efforts to destroy the country’s left-leaning labor movement.

The 39 documents made available today come from a collection of nearly 30,000 pages of files constituting much of the daily record of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1964-1968. The collection, much of it formerly classified, was processed by the National Declassification Center in response to growing public interest in the remaining U.S. documents concerning the mass killings of 1965-1966.  

indonesia flagAmerican and Indonesian human rights and freedom of information activists, filmmakers, as well as a group of U.S. Senators led by Tom Udall (D-NM), had called for the materials to be made public.

Oct. 16

JFK Murder Record Release Scheduled Oct. 26 To Be Suppressed? To End In 'Chaos?'

National ArchivesThe National Archives In Washington, D.C. Most records of President Kennedy's 1963 assassination are in Maryland. In a unanimous 1992 vote, Congress ordered that they all be released by Oct. 26 of this year. Although some four million pages have been released the CIA is among the federal agencies fighting release of sensitive documents.

Politico, The JFK Document Dump Could Be a Fiasco, Philip Shenon and Larry J. Sabato, Oct. 16, 2017. Later this month, the National Archives is set to release thousands of documents about John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It’s likely to fuel conspiracy theorists for years.

NARA logoThe federal government’s long campaign to try to choke off rampant conspiracy theories about the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy is threatening to end this month in massive confusion, if not chaos.

Within the next two weeks, the National Archives is legally obligated to release the last of thousands of secret documents from government files about the assassination, most of them from the CIA, FBI and the Justice Department.

And there is every indication that the massive document dump — especially if any of it is blocked by President Donald Trump, the only person empowered under the law to stop the release of the files — will simply help fuel a new generation of conspiracy theories.

Donald Trump official photoTrump, no stranger to conspiracy theories, including totally unsubstantiated theories about a link between Ted Cruz’s father and JFK’s death, has not yet revealed his plans for the documents. His friend and political adviser Roger Stone, the Republican consultant who is the author of a book claiming that President Lyndon Johnson was the mastermind of the Kennedy assassination, said last week that he has been informed authoritatively that the CIA is urging Trump to delay the release of some of the JFK documents for another 25 years. “They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead,” Stone said in a statement on his website.

CIA SealThe CIA has not confirmed or denied reports that it has appealed to Trump to block the release of some of the files on grounds that the documents might still somehow endanger national security if made public. In a cryptic statement last week, the spy agency said only that it “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously unreleased CIA information.”

As it stands now, the document release this month will be a logistical nightmare, with the public suddenly flooded with a huge online library of documents — tens of thousands in total — that will be, at first, mostly incomprehensible even to experienced students of the assassination. The National Archives, abandoning its plans to release the documents in batches over the course of several months, said this week that it will instead release everything at once — all on the same day — sometime between now and the deadline on October 26.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, JFK and Regime-Change Conspiracies, Jacob G. Hornberger, Oct. 16, 2017. With the National Archives’ impending October 26 release of JFK-assassination records that the CIA has succeeded in keeping secret for more than 50 years, the mainstream media will undoubtedly obsess even more with the term “conspiracy theory,” the term that the CIA secretly came up several years ago to discourage people from looking too closely at the circumstantial evidence in the Kennedy assassination.

That’s assuming, of course, that the National Archives proceeds with its plans to release those long-secret CIA records. Under the JFK Records Act, enacted in 1992, President Trump has the authority to extend the time for secrecy if the CIA makes a showing that “national security” will be threatened if the public is allowed to see its long-secret JFK-assassination records.

What is a conspiracy? It’s nothing more than an agreement between two or more people to carry out an illicit or illegal act. There’s nothing mysterious about conspiracies. They happen all the time, especially in the drug trade. If you have any doubts about this, just walk into any federal courthouse in the land and ask the District Clerk to show you the federal criminal indictments that have been issued in the last year. Just look at the first count of the indictment because it’s the one that almost always alleges a conspiracy. I’ll bet that 95 percent of federal criminal indictments allege a conspiracy. What we are talking about in the Kennedy assassination is nothing more than a regime-change operation or, if you will, a regime-change conspiracy.

Interestingly, the mainstream media never refers to those regime-change operations with the terms “conspiracy” or “conspiracy theory.”  For some reason, they limit that term to the Kennedy assassination. Yet, that’s precisely what all those regime-change operations were — regime-change conspiracies.

It is a virtual certainty that those records that the National Archives is set to release on October 26 will help fill out the mosaic, which is why it is also a virtual certainty that the CIA will ask President Trump to extend the time for secrecy.

AlterNet, Has Trump Cut a Deal with the CIA and FBI to Keep Concealing Key JFK Assassination Documents? Jefferson Morley, Oct. 16, 2017. Plans for full disclosure by October 26 deadline are "in flux," says National Archives. An unknown number of U.S government records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 54 years ago may remain secret after the legal deadline of October 26, the National Archives said Monday.

 

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"While we continue to plan for an online release by the deadline, it is unclear what will be part of the release,” the Archive’s communications staff said in a statement to AlterNet. “Things are in flux.” The Archive’s statement is the first official acknowledgement that President Trump is considering — or has approved — formal requests from the Central Intelligence Agency and other federal agencies to keep long-secret JFK files out of public view.

 

Earlier this month, a group of senior congress members challenged the continuing secrecy around the government’s JFK records, some of which are more than 50 years old. Federal judge John Tunheim, who chaired a civilian board that oversaw the release of four million pages of JFK records in the 1990s, told a Minnesota radio station last week," it’s time to release everything." With the Archives' plans “in flux,” that time might not yet have come.

U.S. Politics

DEA Seal Custom

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tom marino oWashington Post, Trump promises to ‘look into’ report on drug czar nominee Marino, Ed O'Keefe, Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, Oct. 16, 2017. The president’s comments came as Democrats reacted sharply to the report that found Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa., shown at right) was the chief advocate for the measure that hobbled the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Trump also said he would declare the opioid crisis a national emergency next week, calling it a “massive problem.”​

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Washington Post, ‘Dark-money’ superlawyer bills herself as advocate for charities in Va. lieutenant governor’s race, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 16, 2017 (print edition). State Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) is running for lieutenant governor of Virginia. In her bid to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (shown at right) campaigns as an ethics attorney who represents charities and nonprofit organizations.

jill vogel senateBut her firm’s specialty is helping wealthy donors, corporations and political action committees influence elections — often in secret. Vogel and her boutique law firm represent some of the nation’s largest super PACs and their related nonprofits, which are often called “dark-money” groups because they are not legally required to disclose the names of their donors.

Those entities include American Crossroads, the super PAC conceived by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie and strategist Karl Rove, as well as Americans for Prosperity and other arms of the conservative political network founded by billionaires Charles and David Koch. Those groups took off in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which found individuals, corporations and unions could spend unlimited sums on politics as long as they did so independently of campaigns and parties.

And Vogel’s firm — Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, known as HVJT — became one of the premiere legal shops to help the PACs distribute their largesse. Between 2005 and 2016, PACs and nonprofits that have hired Vogel’s firm spent close to $1 billion on federal elections, representing nearly a quarter of all outside spending over that period, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. For the 2016 cycle alone, those organizations accounted for more than $234 million of $1.4 billion in total outside spending.

New Yorker, The Danger of President Pence, Jane Mayer, Oct. 16, 2017. Trump’s critics yearn for his exit. But Mike Pence, the corporate right’s inside man, poses his own risks.Washington Post.

ny times logojeff flake oNew York Times, Flake’s Lesson for G.O.P.: Cross Trump at Your Own Risk, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 16, 2017 (print edition).  Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona (shown at right) is in political peril as the 2018 election approaches, but he says he has no regrets in taking on President Trump.

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Washington Post, Inside the ‘adult day care center’: How aides try to control and coerce Trump, Ashley Parker and Greg Jaffe, Oct. 16, 2017. Some White House aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisors.

The Hill, Miami congressional candidate claims she was visited by aliens, Jacqueline Thomsen, Oct. 16, 2017. A candidate for a Florida congressional seat claims she was visited by aliens and has communicated with them several times throughout her life. Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera said in a 2009 television appearance that she went up into the spaceship when she was 7 years old, according to McClatchy.

“I went in. There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship — not like airplanes,” Rodriguez Aguilera said in the interview, a video of which was posted to YouTube and first reported on by McClatchy. She said she was visited by three large, blonde beings at the time. One was male and two were female.

Rodriguez Aguilera is running as a Republican for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Fla.) seat. Ros-Lehtinen, who has represented Miami since 1989, announced in April that she would not run for reelection in 2018.

Federal Justice System

ny times logoNew York Times, Aiding Transgender Case, Sessions Defies His Image on Civil Rights, Matt Apuzzo, Oct. 16, 2017 (print edition).  Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent a federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student, a highly unusual move by the staunch conservative.

Washington Post, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for five years, pleads guilty in connection with disappearance, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 16, 2017.  Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who vanished in Afghanistan and spent five years in brutal captivity before the United States recovered him in a controversial prisoner swap, pleaded guilty Monday to two crimes in connection with his disappearance.

Global News: Two U.S. Allies Contend In Iraq 

ny times logoNew York Times, Iraqis Battle Kurds in Push to Take Oil Fields and Kirkuk, David Zucchino, Oct. 16, 2017. Moving to reclaim Kirkuk, Iraq said it had taken oil fields and other sites, and Kurds loyal to an opposition party said they had intentionally made way for the forces.

Terrorists Kill Hundreds In Somalia

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Washington Post, Blasts kill at least 300 in Somalia in deadliest attack of its decade-long war with Islamist extremists, Kevin Sieff and Abullahi Mire, Oct. 16, 2017. Mogadishu is a frequent target of attacks by al-Shabab, an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, but residents said they quickly discerned that the weekend truck bombs were of a different order of magnitude.

Car Bomb In Malta Kills Influential Investigator

daphne caruana galizia croppedCenter for Public Integrity, Car bomb kills crusading Panama Papers journalist in Malta, Staff report, Oct. 16, 2017. Center CEO, John Dunbar, condemns attack, demands thorough investigation News sources today are reporting the tragic death of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta.

Caruana Galizia, 53, was reportedly killed in a car bombing near her home. Local media reports indicated that in recent days she had filed a police report complaining of death threats. "Caruana Galizia was a fearless journalist and blogger who exposed numerous offshore dealings of prominent figures in Malta," said the Center's Dunbar. She was also the mother of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) developer and data journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia.

The Center for Public Integrity spun off ICIJ earlier this year. Dunbar, CEO of the Center, condemned the attack, saying it was “not only a tragic killing of a courageous journalist but an attack on the profession as a whole. This must not go unpunished.”

Media: Hillary Breaks Toe On UK Tour

Telegraph, Hillary Clinton breaks toe falling down stairs, misses BBC interview, Wire reports, Oct. 16, 2017. Hillary Clinton was delayed arriving for the filming of the BBC's Graham Norton Show due to a broken toe. The former US presidential candidate arrived for the recording of Norton's BBC One show wearing a surgical boot. Mrs Clinton said: "I was running down the stairs in heels with a cup of coffee in hand, I was talking over my shoulder and my heel caught and I fell backwards." She continued: "I tried to get up and it really hurt. I've broken my toe. I've received excellent care from your excellent health service."

Media: Fake News From Washington Post?

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Moon of Alabama, How The Washington Post Deceives Us About The War In Syria, Ahab Jezebel, Oct. 16, 2017. One of the most prestigious US medias, the Washington Post clearly has no built-in review mechanism for monitoring the quality and veracity of its source material relating to the coverage of war zone news. This is particularly apparent with regard to the reporting of the ongoing war situation in Syria. At present these professional standards have slipped and the paper has placed itself outside the ranks of real journalism and professionalism on which it built its enviable reputation long before the war in Syria.

Spreading propaganda, and relying only on activists, is not professional. It resembles paid publicity, designed to affect public opinion, and it takes advantage of less informed readers and politicians.

We can open a small window into one of the latest articles on Syria by The Washington Post entitled:”Civilian casualties spiral in Syria as air raids target areas marked for cease-fire.”The article was not written from Syria but from Beirut (Lebanon), although it speaks authoritatively about Syria in great detail – and this from a journalist who has never been to Syria, and certainly not during the six years of the war.

In its second paragraph the newspaper talks of "groups monitoring the conflict": but every single human being on Earth interested in the Syrian war is monitoring the conflict - including my 87 year-old neighbour, Louise (her name). She is able to tell me stories about daily bombing and "Daesh" (The "Islamic State" – ISIS) attacking "every day and maybe coming to Europe," according to her conclusions drawn from monitoring mainstream media. She believes Syria is a country of ghosts and that Assad, Daesh and the US are "working together against evil Russia".

The Washington Post further undermines its own credibility by quoting the “White Helmets,” who apparently report that “80% of ... attacks targeted civilian areas.” Not everybody knows how biased the White Helmets are: in fact some of their histrionic performances have been said to rival Shakespeare. Professional journalism by a reputable newspaper should be ill at ease when quoting “a fake professional exhibitionist group.” And where, indeed, in Syria were the White Helmets based? In an al-Qaeda controlled city, working very closely with that terrorist group -- the very same group responsible for 9/11!

The newspaper doesn’t stop at that: it insinuates -- according to its title and introduction -- that "pro-government forces launched hundreds of bombing raids across areas marked for international protection": yet the same journalist who wrote that article re-tweeted that "there were also 1,278 declared Coalition strikes in Syria last month."

Oct. 15

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CBS News logoWashington Post and CBS '60 Minutes,' Joint Investigative report: How Congress allied with drug company lobbyists to derail the DEA’s war on painkillers, Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). Amid a targeted lobbying effort, Congress last year weakened the DEA’s ability to go after drug distributors, even as the opioid epidemic raged and thousands of Americans were dying of overdoses, an investigation by The Washington Post and CBS “60 Minutes” found. The “60 Minutes” report will air tonight at 7:30 Eastern and 7 Pacific.

DEA Seal CustomIn April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

U.S. House logoA handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market.DEA badge

The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

tom marino oThe chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino (shown at right), a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar (See Trump to tap Rep. Tom Marino as 'drug czar').

Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.

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Washington Post, Timing of Trump’s health-care actions ‘couldn’t be worse,’ some officials say, Amy Goldstein, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). President Trump’s decision to cut off billions of dollars in payments promised to health insurers comes just two weeks before the Affordable Care Act enrollment season is scheduled to begin. The move is causing immediate upheaval in some states and sowing widespread confusion among consumers who wonder whether they will still be able to get and afford health insurance.

New Dispute In Defamation Suit Against Trump By Former Apprentice Contestant

Donald Trump in "The Apprentice"BuzzFeed News, Trump Given A Subpoena For All Documents Relating To Assault Allegations, Jessica Garrison and Kendall Taggart, Oct. 15, 2017. A woman who said Donald Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump (shown in a publicity photo from his show "The Apprentice") touched her inappropriately.” Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena.

A high-stakes legal showdown is brewing for President Donald Trump, as a woman who said he groped her has subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.”

The subpoena — whose contents have not been previously reported — was issued in March but entered into the court file last month. The White House did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Trump’s attorney.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice, accused Trump of kissing and grabbing her when she went to his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007 to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization. After Zervos made the accusation last October, just weeks before the election, Trump denied her accusation and called it a lie.

She responded by suing him for defamation. As part of that suit, her lawyers served a subpoena on his campaign, asking that it preserve all documents it had about her.

They also asked for “all documents” concerning other women who have accused Trump of groping them, including Jessica Leeds, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Temple Taggart, Kristin Anderson, Cathy Heller, Jill Harth, and Jessica Drake. The subpoena seeks “all documents concerning any accusations that were made during Donald J. Trump’s election campaign for president, that he subjected any woman to unwanted sexual touching and/or sexually inappropriate behavior.” Last year, Trump tweeted a blanket denial, saying, “Nothing ever happened with any of these women.”

The subpoena did not make its way into the court file until last month, when Zervos’s attorneys, including the high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred, filed it as part of motion disputing a contention from Trump’s legal team that her subpoena was too broad.

Fires, Floods, Climate Change

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Washington Post, Thousands more Californians ordered to flee wildfires as gusting winds return, Lisa Bonos, Amy B Wang and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). With at least 38 dead, this is now the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, officials said.

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Washington Post, See it, say it: Climate change, Editorial Board, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). While California prepares for what promises to be an arduous rebuilding, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other places hit by this year’s unprecedented back-to-back-to-back hurricanes are still mopping up and, in Puerto Rico’s case, just beginning to rebuild. So it would seem to be a natural time to talk about the possible role climate change played in these disasters and about measures the nation should be taking to slow global warming. Instead, we have an administration that refuses even to consider the possibility of a connection, much less talk about solutions.

More On Hollywoods Weinstein Scandal

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harvey weinsteinWashington Post, Violence. Threats. Begging. Harvey Weinstein’s 30-year pattern of abuse in Hollywood, Monica Hesse and Dan Zak, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). Allegations of years of harassment and criminal sexual abuse against women he encountered in his work as an A-list film producer (shown in a file photo) appear to show a striking pattern. Separate story: Motion picture academy expels Harvey Weinstein: Read the statement.

Global News: Reaction To Trump's Iran Claims

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Washington Post, Analysis: Approach to Iran exposes growing irritation between U.S. and allies, Karen DeYoung, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). Trump sees them as self-interested freeloaders who must be reminded of U.S. power. They see him as an erratic force who must be managed as he squanders American leadership.

U.S. Politics

Sports Illustated, NFL players throughout the NFL continue to protest during the national anthem in Week 6 of the NFL season, Chris Chavez, Oct. 15, 2017. The number of players that have protested decreased last week but were at the center of attention after Vice President Mike Pence walked out of the Colts and 49ers game in Indianapolis after members of San Francisco's team were seen kneeling on the sidelines. President Donald Trump later tweeted that he coordinated the early exit with Pence weeks in advance.

Trump has been very vocal about how players should stand during The Star-Spangled Banner as a sign of respect.

The anthem protests were also a topic of conversation around the Dallas Cowboys because owner Jerry Jones said that players would be benched if they kneel during the national anthem. Jones added that players could freely express themselves before the anthem. Jones took a knee and locked arms with members of his team prior to the national anthem before a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 25. The Cowboys have a bye week during Week 6 but will play the 49ers next Sunday.

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Washington Post, Trump governs by disruption — and overloads all the circuits, Dan Balz, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). Seven days of his presidency underscore the lengths and limits of his style of governing.

Political Scandals

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Washington Post, Have dirt that could impeach Trump? Larry Flynt will pay you $10 million, Amy B Wang, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition).The Hustler publisher's offer, seeking information leading to President Trump’s removal from office, appears in a full-page ad in today’s edition of The Washington Post.

Review of the New Biography of CIA's Master Spy James Angleton

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton by Jefferson Morley (St. Martin’s Press, 336 pp. $27.99).

james angleton 1975 senate intelligence hearing ny times george tames customWashington Decoded, Angleton Unrevealed, David Robarge, Oct. 15, 2017. David Robarge, the chief historian at the Central Intelligence Agency and a member of its History Staff since 1996, received his Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University. His articles and book reviews have appeared in Studies in Intelligence, Intelligence and National Security, and the Journal of Intelligence History. He is the author of the official biography of the sixth Director of Central Intelligence, "John McCone As Director of Central Intelligence, 1961-1965," which was declassified in 2015. His review follows:

Readers who pick up The Ghost, hoping finally to have a comprehensive and objective treatment of James Angleton, the Agency’s long-time, shadowy, and controversial chief of counterintelligence, will be sorely disappointed.

What they will find is an erratically organized account of most of the key events in Angleton’s life, along with an agglomeration of often badly sourced suppositions, inferences, allegations, and innuendoes frequently cast in hyperbolic or categorical language.

The Ghost displays the most prominent shortcomings of journalistic history: reportage substitutes for cohesive narrative, with vignettes and atmospherics stitched together with insufficient discernment among sources. One of Morley’s more dubious ones — an Angleton anonymous blog post with no citations, from which he pulls an outlandish quote — inadvertently provides an insight into what his ulterior motive in writing The Ghost appears to be: “This is not about who James Angleton was so much as what James Angleton had to be” (emphasis in the original). 

AlterNet, Opinion: Kate McKinnon's Sewer-Dwelling Kellyanne Conway Clown on SNL Is Creepy and Great, David Ferguson, Oct. 15, 2017. This week’s episode of “Saturday Night Live" is hilarious. Kate McKinnon reprised her role as Kellyanne Conway on this week’s episode of  “Saturday Night Live,” but as “Kellywise the Dancing Clown” in a take-off of the horror film “It.” Cast-member Alex Moffat played CNN’s Anderson Cooper, walking home from the studio on a rainy night. He dropped a scrap of paper, then tried to grab it from the sewer only to come face-to-face with “Kellywise.”

“Put me on TV,” she said hungrily. “Don’t talk to her,” said a passing security guard, played by cast member Kenan Thompson. “Every day, she drags somebody into that sewer, down there where the doodies are. You don’t believe me? Yesterday she got Rachel Maddow.”

Watch the video, embedded below:

Oct. 14

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ny times logoNew York Times, The C.I.A.’s Fake News Campaign, Oct. 14, 2017. Kenneth Osgood is a professor of history at the Colorado School of Mines. Russia’s election-hacking wasn’t the first time someone manipulated American news media for political ends.

 Russia’s crafty campaign to hack the 2016 election may seem unprecedented, but in a way it’s not. Sure, secret agents and front groups have hacked email systems, dumped documents on WikiLeaks, paid an army of internet trolls and spent thousands buying political ads on social media. It all seems new because the technologies are new. But it’s not the first time a government tried to mess with our heads by manipulating our media.

In fact, for more than two decades during the Cold War, the public was bombarded by an enormous publicity campaign to shape American views of Russia and its foreign policy. Advertisements appeared on every TV network, on radio stations across the country and in hundreds of newspapers. The campaign may have been the largest and most consistent source of political advertising in American history. And it was orchestrated by a big, powerful intelligence service: the Central Intelligence Agency.

It all began as a cover story. As the Cold War was getting underway, the C.I.A. wanted to take the fight into Russia’s backyard. So, in 1950, it created Radio Free Europe, a government-sponsored broadcasting station. Ostensibly, it provided unbiased news for Eastern Europeans, but in fact the agency used it to wage a subversive campaign to weaken Communist governments behind the Iron Curtain.

But how to hide the agency’s hand? How to account for the millions of C.I.A. dollars pouring into the broadcasting station? Simple: pretend that ordinary Americans are paying the bills.

The C.I.A.’s freewheeling spymaster, Frank Wisner, created a well-heeled and well-connected front group, the National Committee for a Free Europe. Each year it ran an enormous fund-raising campaign called the Crusade for Freedom (later renamed the Radio Free Europe Fund) that implored Americans to donate “freedom dollars” to combat Kremlin lies, complete with annual appeals resembling a hybrid of World War II war bond campaigns and contemporary NPR pledge drives.

U.S. Health Care

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Donald Trump

Washington Post, Trump’s attack on ACA raises shutdown potential, escalates issue in 2018 races, Mike DeBonis and Ed O'Keefe, Oct. 14, 2017. While Republicans argued that the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally flawed, Democrats called the move to cut off crucial health-care subsidies an act of sabotage and pledged to fight it, increasing the potential for a government shutdown in December and ensuring that the issue will be central in next year’s midterm elections.

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Washington Post, Cruz warns GOP of ‘Watergate-level blowout’ in midterms if it fails on taxes, health care, Sean Sullivan, Oct. 14, 2017. “We could face a bloodbath,” the senator warned amid growing worries among Republicans about the party’s lack of legislative achievements. Wealthy conservative donors and influential Republican lawmakers say they increasingly fear a historic backlash at the ballot box next year if the GOP effort to pass a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws falls short in the coming months.

Ted Cruz At a two-day midtown Manhattan summit of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers’ powerful donor network, GOP patrons, senators and strategists spoke in cataclysmic terms about the price they expect to pay in the midterm elections if their tax reform effort does not win passage. Koch network officials said they have invested more than $10 million this year in advocating for the GOP tax plan.

More than 100 top donors gathered for the Koch network meeting. The Washington Post and other news organizations were invited to cover the gathering, on the condition the donors present not be named without their permission. Koch network officials said they have invested more than $10 million this year in advocating for the GOP tax plan.

Fires, Floods, Safety

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kirstjen nielsen world economic forumWashington Post, Trump’s pick for DHS chief was at the center of the Katrina disaster 12 years ago, Nick Miroff, Oct. 14, 2017  What Kirstjen Nielsen did — and didn’t do — in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane will probably come up in her confirmation hearing to lead the agency whose $40 billion budget includes managing catastrophes such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

 On Aug 27, 2005, two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, officials at the American Red Cross wrote to a top homeland security adviser at the White House, warning that the storm was likely to slam New Orleans as a major hurricane. The message was sent to Kirstjen Nielsen (shown in a file photo), whose title was special assistant to the president for prevention, preparedness and response. She was 33 years old.

It was the first of many alarming emails Nielsen would receive over the following days as water poured into New Orleans and the city was deluged. And in the storm of blame that followed the costliest natural disaster in American history, Nielsen’s team was widely criticized for its passive and clumsy response.

Twelve years later, President Trump has nominated Nielsen to the top job at the Department of Homeland Security. As DHS secretary, she would be in charge of a 240,000-employee agency with a $40 billion budget whose many responsibilities include managing disasters such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

“There will be no on-the-job training for Kirstjen,” Trump said Thursday as he announced her nomination at the White House, praising her “sterling reputation.” He noted she would be the first DHS secretary to have previous experience at the agency. Former DHS and White House officials who worked with Nielsen during Katrina said it would be grossly unfair to hold her responsible for the Bush administration’s botched response to a calamity that killed more than 1,800 and drove a million Americans from their homes.

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Washington Post, As firefighters make gains, forecast of high winds stirs fears of fresh round of wildfires in California, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Kristine Phillips, Lisa Bonos and Herman Wong, Oct. 14, 2017. In an ominous bulletin, the National Weather Service warned that winds are expected to increase dramatically Friday night throughout Northern California, noting the dangerous conditions will continue “at least through Saturday.”

Global News: U.S. European Allies Unmoved By Trump's Iran Stance

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Washington Post, Europeans say Trump has no power to cancel Iran nuclear deal, Michael Birnbaum and Griff Witte, Oct. 14, 2017.  European leaders seek to keep the landmark nuclear accord on track in another sign of deep policy rifts with the Trump administration.

Global News: Turkey's Deadly "Sins"

President Obama meets Turkey Prime Minister Recep Erdorgan Dec. 7, 2009

President Obama meets Turkey Prime Minister Recep Erdorgan Dec. 7, 2009 (White House photo)

Flag of Turkey

Global Research via SouthFront, Analysis: The Middle East Pivot: Erdoğan’s Turkey Seven “Deadly Sins,” James Petras, Oct. 14, 2017. Multiple wars ravage the Middle East. Turkey has inserted itself into the middle of most of these regional conflicts and ended up a loser.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has intervened and formed alliances with a rogue’s gallery of imperial warlords, terrorists-mercenaries, Zionist expansionists, feudal potentates and obscure tribal chiefs, with disastrous economic, political and military consequences for the Turkish nation.

In this paper we will discuss Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies and behavior over the past decade.  We will conclude with lessons for middle range powers, which might help in future decisions.....

Fetullah-GullenPresident Erdogan’s Domestic Disasters: Throughout the early decade of the 21st century, Erdoğan made a strategic alliance with an influential semi-clandestine organization led by a cult-leading cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who was conveniently self-exiled in the US and under the protection of the US intelligence apparatus. With support from the Gülenists movement, ‘Hizmet’, Erdoğan celebrated his successes and won multiple election and re-election victories!

Initially, Erdoğan failed to recognize that the Gülenists/Hizmet operated as a subversive political organization, which permeated the state apparatus through a dense network of bureaucratic, military, judicial, police, and civil society organizations, with ties to the US military/CIA and friendly relations with Israeli policy makers.

Conclusion: Erdoğan’s unprincipled, opportunistic and pro-imperialist NATO alliance demonstrates the inability of an aspiring regional power to find a niche in the US Empire. Erdoğan believed that being a loyal ‘ally’ of the US would protect Turkey from a coup d’état. He failed to realize that he had become a disposable pawn in US plans to instill more servile rulers (like the Gülenists) in the Middle Eas

Global News: Syrian War Breakthrough?

ISIS Fighters

A file photo shows ISIS warriors in better times for them. Their opponents in Syria and Iraq have inflicted massive defeats.

Al-Masdar News, Syrian Army liberates ISIS capital city, Andrew Illingworth, Oct. 14, 2017. The Syrian Arab Army has fully liberated the city of Al-Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province which until a few hours ago had been the Islamic State’s de facto capital. According to military sources exclusive to Al-Masdar News, the Syrian Army achieved full control over all districts within the city of Al-Mayadeen early this morning.

The Syrian Army operation to expel ISIS from Al-Mayadeen started about one week ago and saw the army deploy units of the elite Tiger Forces Division. Whilst it is still unclear how exactly ISIS forces in Al-Mayadeen were defeated, it appears that most of the jihadist defenders abandoned the city, fleeing south prior to be encircled several days ago and/or crossing to the eastern shore of the Euphrates River.

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Washington Post, Deal reached to allow civilians to flee ISIS-held Syrian stronghold, Louisa Loveluck​, ​Oct. 14, 2017. The U.S.-led coalition said Saturday that preparations were underway to evacuate civilians from the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa under the terms of a controversial deal that could also see local militants boarding the buses.

In a statement, the coalition said the deal is “designed to minimize civilian casualties” and that the convoy of evacuation buses would be searched and screened by a U.S.-backed ground force. But it also tried to distance itself from the arrangement brokered by a local civilian council and Arab tribal elders, saying foreign fighters have “purportedly” been excluded from the deal.

See related story with different theme: Moon of Alabama, Free Passage Deal For ISIS In Raqqa - U.S. Denies Involvement -- Video Proves It Lies, B, Oct. 14, 2017. After free passage negotiations with the U.S. and its Kurdish proxy forces, ISIS is moving its fighters out of Raqqa city. When the Syrian government reached similar agreements the U.S. childishly criticized it. The U.S. coalition claims that it was "not involved in the discussions" that led to the Raqqa free passage agreement. A BBC News report shows that the opposite is true.

Weinstein Scandal Fallouts, Remorse

New York Times, Weinstein Is Ousted From the Motion Picture Academy, Brooks Barnes, Oct. 15, 2017 (print edition). In a vote that was “well in excess of the required two-thirds majority,” the board of the academy expelled the mega-producer Harvey Weinstein after a long history of sexual harassment was uncovered by The Times.

BuzzFeed, Lisa Bloom Knows She Made "A Colossal Mistake" In Harvey Weinstein, Claudia Rosenbaum, Oct. 14, 2017. The celebrity attorney and champion of women's rights spoke about her earlier decision to represent Harvey Weinstein, and her response to the sex assault scandal: "I definitely failed on this one."

Fere Speech, Free Presssuzanne nossel pen 2017 Faking the News

PEN America, Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth, Oct. 13, 2017. Report and panel discussion organized by PEN America at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

Warning that the spread of “fake news” is reaching a crisis point, Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth evaluates the array of strategies that Facebook, Google, Twitter, newsrooms, and civil society are undertaking to address the problem, stressing solutions that empower news consumers while vigilantly avoiding new infringements on free speech.

Faking News rates the range of fact-checking, algorithmic, educational, and standards-based approaches being taken to counter the proliferation of fake news and sounds a warning bell for tactics that risk suppressing controversial speech, such as giving government new powers to regulate or calling on social media companies to block specific content entirely.

Arguing that Facebook, Google, and Twitter — which are many Americans’ primary channels for news consumption — must play a critical and transparent role in curbing the spread of false news, the report spells out a series of specific strategies that center on empowering news consumers with access to fact-checking initiatives and news literacy programs. The “News Consumers Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” outlines what consumers should expect from the outlets and social media platforms that convey news and how they can protect themselves and others. The report also includes an executive summary that outlines the report’s key findings.

Cops, Courts, Crime Around the Nation

MSN News, Deputies: Former GOP staffer shot 13 times in bed; suspect had blood on hands and feet, David Harris, Oct. 14, 2017. Osceola County Sheriff's deputies say a former GOP staffer and Disney employee was shot 13 times while he was sleeping in bed. Nick Corvino, 30, had gunshot wounds to his back, head and legs, according to an arrest affidavit. His roommate, Scott Waddell, 45, is at the Osceola County Jail on a first-degree murder charge.

According to the report, deputies were responding to an alarm around 11 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment in the 3100 block of Britannia Boulevard, which is in the Four Corners area. Corvino worked at Disney's Polynesian Resort, according to his Facebook page. Before that, he was a staffer for Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and worked on the campaigns of President Donald Trump and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Oct. 13

Investigations Of Trump Team

NBC News logoNBC News, Manafort Had $60 Million Relationship With a Russian Oligarch, Aggelos Petropoulos and Richard Engel, Oct. 13, 2017. Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported. An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.

paul manafortThe loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

Manafort (shown at left) was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort's financial ties to prominent figures in Russia.

oleg deripaskaAccording to company documents obtained by NBC News in Cyprus, funds were sent from a company owned by Deripaska (shown at right) to etities linked to Manafort, registered in Cyprus.

The NBC News investigation shows that $26 million was transferred from Oguster Management Ltd. — which is wholly owned by Deripaska, according to a disclosure filed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange — to Yiakora Ventures Ltd. Yiakora, according to Cyprus financial documents, is a "related party" to Manafort's many interests on the island, a financial term meaning that Manafort's interests have significant influence over Yiakora.

reince priebus gage skidmore 3Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (Gage Skidmore portrait)

fbi logoPalmer Report, Reince Priebus and White House Counsel Don McGahn may have both flipped on Donald Trump today, Bill Palmer, Oct. 13, 2017. Donald Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller today, in a shocking move that raised questions about everything we thought we knew about Mueller’s progress in his Trump-Russia investigation. Priebus is too far up the food chain for Mueller to be interviewing this early – unless it was because Priebus was ready to flip on Trump. There’s another detail which suggests Priebus may not have done it in solo fashion.

Mueller’s strategy would be to interview everyone under Reince Priebus before even thinking about sitting down with him, so Mueller could take as much evidence and leverage into that meeting as possible. Even if Priebus volunteered to testify early, Mueller would likely turn him down unless Priebus was looking to make a deal. Priebus witnessed Trump’s obstruction of justice and may have even participated in it, but it’s easy to picture Mueller giving Priebus a free pass in exchange for damning testimony about Trump’s crimes. Here’s the catch: Priebus is inexorably tied to White House Counsel Don McGahn.

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Washington Post, Trump to end key ACA subsidies, likely threatening marketplaces, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin​, Oct. 13, 2017 (print edition). President Trump is throwing a bomb into the insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act, choosing to end critical payments to health insurers that help millions of lower-income Americans afford coverage. The decision coincides with an executive order on Thursday to allow alternative health plans that skirt the law’s requirements.

The White House confirmed late Thursday that it would halt federal payments for cost-sharing reductions, although a statement did not specify when. Another statement a short time later by top officials at the Health and Human Services Department said the cutoff would be immediate. The subsidies total about $7 billion this year.

Trump has threatened for months to stop the payments, which go to insurers that are required by the laws to help eligible consumers afford their deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. But he held off while other administration officials warned him such a move would cause an implosion of the ACA marketplaces that could be blamed on Republicans, according to two individuals briefed on the decision.

Health insurers and state regulators have been in a state of high anxiety over the prospect of the marketplaces cratering because of such White House action. The fifth year’s open-enrollment season for consumers to buy coverage through ACA exchanges will start in less than three weeks, and insurers have said that stopping the cost-sharing payments would be the single greatest step the Trump administration could take to damage the marketplaces — and the law.

Ending the payments is grounds for any insurer to back out of its federal contract to sell health plans for 2018. Some states’ regulators directed ACA insurers to add a surcharge in case the payments were not made, but insurers elsewhere could be left in a position in which they still must give consumers the discounts but will not be reimbursed.  

iran flag mapGlobal News: Iran Nuclear Deal

The Atlantic, Trump Isn’t Certifying the Iran Deal — What Happens Next? Uri Friedman, Oct 12, 2017. The president’s action won’t blow up the nuclear agreement — at least not right away.

Global Critics claim the decision could isolate the United States from its allies, set Iran sprinting toward nuclear weapons, and increase the likelihood of military conflict. Supporters argue that the move is the best way to block Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Skeptics dismiss the act as mere political posturing — a way for Trump to appear to honor his campaign promises while kicking the can to Congress and ultimately sticking with the agreement.

Now that Trump has declined to certify, the minority or majority leaders in either house of Congress have 60 days to introduce legislation to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

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Washington Post, Trump Won’t Certify Iran Nuclear Deal, but Won’t Unravel It, Mark Landler and David E. Sanger, Oct. 13, 2017. President Trump declared his intention not to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 accord, an act that kicks to Congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions. But he stopped short of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it, as the deal’s defenders had once feared.

In a speech that mixed searing criticism of Iran with more measured action, Mr. Trump declared his intention not to certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. Mr. Trump said he would ask Congress to establish trigger points, which could prompt the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it crosses thresholds set by Congress.

Hassan Rouhani 2016CBS News, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responds to Trump's decision on nuclear deal, Elizabeth Palmer, Oct. 13, 2017. Within an hour of President Trump's announcement that he would not certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, Iran's president took to the air, pushing back hard.

CBS News logoPresident Hassan Rouhani (shown in a file photo) called Mr. Trump's accusations "abusive" and "downright wrong." Certainly people watching in the country's capital were stunned by Mr. Trump's claim that, back in 2015, the regime was on the verge of collapse. "He's really crazy," said shopkeeper Reza Abdolmaleki. "Really crazy."

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Washington Post, Trump to extend deadline for ‘dreamer’ protections if Congress doesn’t act, GOP senator says, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 13, 2017 (print edition). Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said the president told him he was willing to “give it some more time” for lawmakers to find a solution for “dreamers” — unauthorized immigrants brought to this country as children — if Congress does not pass legislation extending protections before the March 5 deadline.

Oct. 12

puerto rico map world atlas

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Washington Post, Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery efforts, Philip Rucker, Oct. 12, 2017. President Trump served notice Thursday that he may pull back federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Donald Trump One Rose To GiveDeclaring the U.S. territory's electrical grid and infrastructure to have been a “disaster before hurricanes,” Trump (shown in a graphic mocked up by a critic) wrote Thursday that it will be up to Congress how much federal money to appropriate to the island for its recovery efforts and that recovery workers will not stay “forever.”

In a trio of tweets, Trump wrote” “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

Three weeks since Maria made landfall, much of Puerto Rico, an island of 3.4 million people, the vast majority of the island remains without power. Residents struggle to find clean water, hospitals are running short on medicine and commerce is slow with many businesses closed.

Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” And he quoted Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist, as saying, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”

Trump has been roundly criticized for his leadership in coming to Puerto Rico's aid. Trump, in response, has tried to portray the island as in full recovery mode, even as it suffers from enduring health, power and water problems. Donald Trump Puerto Rico paper towels nbc

During a visit last week, he tossed rolls of paper towels at local residents as if they were basketballs (as shown above in an NBC News photo), drawing scorn from local leaders, and noted that the death toll was lower than the “real catastrophe” of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)President Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

OpEdNews, The Establishment is starting to reassert. The Trump overthrow may have started, Egberto Willies, Oct. 12, 2017. The Establishment is starting to reassert. The Trump overthrow may have started.

What does it say when the architect of your win believes you only stand a 30% chance of fulfilling your first term as President?

Here is why I think that barring a sudden change, the countdown to an overthrow, a post-Trump, is on.The media is now in concert with a narrative of an unhinged president that cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes. A few respected Republicans like David Frum and Bob Corker are building the 25 Amendment case. Others are making the case for impeachment. Folks, the soft overthrow is in process. 

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Washington Post, U.S. withdraws from UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural organization, citing anti-Israel bias, Eli Rosenberg and Carol Morello​, Oct. 12, 2017. The decision to withdraw from UNESCO, which the United States helped found, was announced by the State Department, which said the United States would remain involved as a nonmember observer. It will take effect at the end of 2018.

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Washington Post, Trump signs order to eliminate Affordable Care Act insurance rules, Amy Goldstein, Oct. 12, 2017. In his biggest action yet to undo the health-care law, President Trump signed an executive order intended to allow small businesses and potentially individuals to buy a long-disputed type of health insurance that skirts state regulations and Affordable Care Act protections.

KFGO (Minneapolis), Judge who chaired JFK assassination review board says 'it's time to release everything,' Jim Monk, Oct. 12, 2017. A federal judge from Minnesota says it's time for the government to release the remainder of its records connected to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The National Archives is scheduled to unveil about 3,000 never-before-seen documents before Oct. 26.  In 1992, Congress mandated the documents' release in 25 years unless President Trump orders that they remain sealed.

Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim was chairman of the JFK Assassination Records Review Board. In an interview with KFGO News, Tunhem said that he hopes the records can finally be seen by everyone. “I think it’s time to release everything” Tunheim said. “We didn’t really protect that much. We never protected an entire document, except for those that we didn’t think that were relevant at all. It might have been some kind of intelligence gathering method that was still being used that they didn’t want the public to know about.”

“Part of the problem through the years is that so much information was protected, which led to so many gaps in the story” according to Tunheim. “Gaps are often filled by plausible explanations – and a lot of plausible explanations pointed to conspiracies."

Tunheim says Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he assassinated Kennedy, but he says at least one conspiracy may deserve closer scrutiny. “Among all the conspiracy theories, if there’s any that deserve closer examination over time, it’s the idea that organized crime may have played some role, but having said that, there is very little evidence that’s direct and points that way.”

Tunheim says he thinks the Trump Administration “likely will allow all the releases to occur unless there’s some type of appeal from the CIA or the FBI concerning certain records.” About 30,000 additional records "not considered relevant" to the assassination could also be released. Tunheim says it's unlikely that any big surprises will be found, but he says materials considered irrelevant in the past may be seen in a different light today.

Inside Washington

Roll Call, Thompson Staffer Still Employed After Tax Conviction, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 12, 2017. Isaac Lanier Avant is facing new charges relating to a security clearance form. A Capitol Hill staffer convicted of failing to file income tax returns, who faces new charges of falsifying a security clearance form, remained employed in Rep. Bennie Thompson’s office after his previous conviction. Oct. 11

A GoreTruthDig, How Gore, Kerry and Clinton Put Trump in the White House, Harvey Wasserman, Oct. 11, 2017. Amidst the hellish chaos of the Donald Trump catastrophe, it’s more essential than ever to understand how he got into the White House and who put him there. Then we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

hillary clinton what happened coverIn her recent blame-everybody-else-while-doing-nothing screed, What Happened, Hillary Clinton fingers James Comey, the Russians and Bernie Sanders. But, in fact, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore (shown in a file photo) and John Kerry put this madman in office.

This trio of multi-millionaire corporate Democrats won the presidential races of 2000, 2004 and 2016. Then they lay down, said hardly a word and did even less as they let George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump rule the land.

All three presidencies were stolen by stripping large numbers of black, Hispanic, Asian-American and young citizens from the voter rolls, and then electronically flipping the vote count. In 2000 and 2016, the thefts were finalized by the Electoral College.

Along the way, the United States House, Senate and a thousand state, federal and local offices also have been flipped. The Supreme Court has come along for the ride.

The impacts — John Kerryeight years of George W. Bush and an eternity of Donald Trump — have been somewhere between catastrophic and apocalyptic. We will recover only if we do what the corporate Democrats have not: Face up to how our entire electoral system has been become a sham and then change it. Let’s start with Al Gore and Florida 2000.

NBC Exposes Trump's Horrid Focus On Nuclear War

NBC News logoNBC, Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military, Courtney Kube, Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee and Savannah Guthrie, Oct. 11, 2017. President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

Rex Tillerson Exxon Mobile (Small)According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown at right), were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Threatens NBC Over Nuclear Weapons Report, Peter Baker and Cecilia Kang, Oct. 11, 2017. President Trump threatened on Wednesday to use the federal government’s power to license television airwaves to target NBC in response to a report by the network’s news division that he contemplated a dramatic increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

NBC News logoIn a story aired and posted online Wednesday morning, NBC reported that Mr. Trump said during a meeting in July that he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, stunning some members of his national security team. It was after this meeting that Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson reportedly said Mr. Trump was a “moron.”

Mr. Trump objected to the report in two messages on Twitter later Wednesday and threatened to use the authority of the federal government to retaliate.

He repeated his complaint later in the day, when reporters arrived in the Oval Office to cover his meeting with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau. “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write and people should look into it,” Mr. Trump said.

Trump Anger

Vanity Fair, “I Hate Everyone in the White House!”: Trump Seethes as Advisers Fear the President Is “Unraveling,” Gabriel Sherman, Oct. 11, 2017. In recent days, I’ve spoken with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president that seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.

John KellyAccording to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.)

Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly(shown at right)  is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary — the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.

While Kelly can’t control Trump’s tweets, he is doing his best to physically sequester the president—much to Trump’s frustration. One major G.O.P. donor told me access to Trump has been cut off, and his outside calls to the White House switchboard aren’t put through to the Oval Office. Earlier this week, I reported on Kelly’s plans to prevent Trump from mingling with guests at Mar-a-Lago later this month. And, according to two sources, Keith Schiller quit last month after Kelly told Schiller he needed permission to speak to the president and wanted written reports of their conversations.

The White House denies these accounts. “The President’s mood is good and his outlook on the agenda is very positive,” an official said.

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Washington Post, Trump’s anger over Iran deal forced aides to scramble for a compromise, Anne Gearan, Oct. 11, 2017.  A retooled approach to Iran that the president is expected to announce this week is the result of an all-out effort by White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster to accommodate the president’s loathing of the nuclear deal without killing the agreement outright.

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NBC News logoWashington Post, President threatens to strip NBC of ‘license,’ declares news coverage is ‘frankly disgusting,’ David Nakamura, Oct. 11, 2017. Trump, who made the comments during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was reacting to an NBC News report that he pushed senior aides for a major expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Trump To Undermine Obama Health Plan By Executive Order

ny times logoNew York Times, Foiled in Congress, Trump Moves on His Own to Undermine Obamacare, Robert Pear and Reed Abelson, Oct. 11, 2017. President Trump, after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress, will act on his own to relax health care standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance and may take steps to allow the sale of other health plans that skirt the health law’s requirements.

The president plans to sign an executive order “to promote health care choice and competition” on Thursday at a White House event attended by small-business owners and others. 

Although Mr. Trump has been telegraphing his intentions for more than a week, Democrats and some state regulators are now greeting the move with increasing alarm, calling it another attempt to undermine President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. They warn that by relaxing standards for so-called association health plans, Mr. Trump would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for the sick and destabilizing insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.

Politics /Scandal Around the Nation

Huffington Post, Conservatives Call On Mitch McConnell, Other GOP Leaders To Step Down, Igor Bobic, Oct. 11, 2017. “You were not going to ‘drain the swamp.’ You are the swamp.”

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Washington Post, Undisclosed deal paid Roy Moore $180,000 a year for charity work, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Oct. 11, 2017. The Senate candidate from Alabama once stated he did not take a "regular salary" from the charity he founded. But documents show he collected more than $1 million, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings.

But privately, Roy Moore (shown before he was stripped of his title as Alabama Supreme Court chief justice) had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He collected more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years.

When the charity couldn’t afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for back pay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity’s most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala., mortgage records show. He holds that note even now, a charity official said.

Jeff SessionsA Washington Post review of public and internal charity documents found that errors and gaps in the group’s federal tax filings obscured until now the compensation paid to Moore, whose defeat last month of President Trump’s choice for Republican nominee in the Senate race will likely embolden far-right challengers to the party’s mainstream incumbents. Moore is the front-runner in the race to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (shown at left).

Fires, Floods, Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump Nails Shut the Coffin on Climate Relief, Editorial Board, Oct. 11, 2017 (print edition). Ending goals to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants will be the most serious blow to President Obama’s legacy on global warming. It reaffirmed the administration’s blind loyalty to dirtier energy sources, ignoring the pleas of corporate leaders who know that economic momentum and new investment lie with cleaner sources of energy, and fear that without innovation their costs will rise and their competitive edge over foreign countries will be lost.

It repudiated the rock-solid scientific consensus that without swift action the consequences of climate change — widespread species extinction, more devastating droughts, more Harveys and Irmas and wildfires like those now raging in Northern California — will become more likely.

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Washington Post, Thousands flee deadly Calif. wildfires, with more than 180 people still missing, Breena Kerr, Lea Donosky, Scott Wilson and Kristine Phillips​, Oct. 11, 2017. More than 25,000 people fled homes in seven counties north of San Francisco as hundreds of firefighters struggled to contain flames that have killed at least 17 people, destroyed more than 2,000 buildings and battered the region’s lifeblood wine industry.

 

djt puerto rico paper towels nbcPresident Trump mimics a basketball player in throwing paper towels to a crowd in San Juan following disastrous hurricane-induced flooding (NBC News)

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Washington Post, Trump’s Puerto Rico video tells positive story, leaves misery on cutting-room floor, Jenna Johnson, Oct. 11, 2017 (print edition). The footage of Puerto Rico compiled by the White House in the wake of Hurricane Maria shows the extent to which the Trump administration is portraying the federal government’s handling of the natural disaster in the best possible light, despite the island’s ongoing power, water and health problems. Graphic: Most of Puerto Rico has been in the dark for three weeks.

Trump's Billionaire Dealer Pal Speaks Up

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tom barrackheadshotWashington Post, ‘He’s better than this,’ says Thomas Barrack, Trump’s loyal whisperer, Michael Kranish, Oct. 11, 2017. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire who is one of President Trump’s oldest friends, had spent weeks trying to smooth the way for a May presidential meeting in Saudi Arabia with Gulf leaders.

All initially went well. Trump praised Qatar — where Barrack, who is Arab American, has deep business ties — as a “crucial strategic partner.” Then Trump reversed course a few weeks later and attacked Qatar as “a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

Barrack (shown at right) was taken aback that the president was intervening in a regional dispute. So he did what few others in Trump’s orbit have done: He told the president, in effect, that he was wrong.

Donald Trump

Few people are closer to Trump than Barrack, his friend for three decades. Barrack helped rescue Trump’s real estate empire years ago. He was the top fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He turned down a Cabinet offer, preferring to be an outside adviser, although his name is still mentioned as a potential White House chief of staff should Trump decide to choose a new one. Above all, Barrack has remained unfailingly loyal to Trump, who he sees as a shrewd politician.

 But even as he remained a close friend and frequent confidant, Barrack has also been disappointed by aspects of Trump’s performance. Barrack, in interviews with the Washington Post, said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by some of the president’s rhetoric and inflammatory tweets.

Oct. 10

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ny times logoangelina jolie 2014New York Times, Paltrow and Jolie Accuse Weinstein of Sexual Harassment, Jodi Kantor and Rachel Abrams, Oct. 10, 2017. Oct. 10, 2017. Before Being Fired, Weinstein Asked Insiders to Defend Him. “This way of treating women ends now,” Gwyneth Paltrow (shown above in a poster of her Harvey Weinstein-produced film Shakespeare in Love) said as she and other actresses, including Angelina Jolie, accused Weinstein of abuses. 

New Yorker logoNew Yorker, From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories, Ronan Farrow, Oct. 10, 2017.  Multiple women share harrowing accounts of sexual assault and harassment by the film executive. In the course of a ten-month investigation, thirteen women interviewed said that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.

harvey weinsteinSince the establishment of the first studios a century ago, there have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as Harvey Weinstein (shown in a file photo). As the co-founder of the production-and-distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company, he helped to reinvent the model for independent films, with movies such as “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “The English Patient,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Crying Game,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech.” Beyond Hollywood, he has exercised his influence as a prolific fund-raiser for Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

For more than twenty years, Weinstein has also been trailed by rumors of sexual harassment and assault. This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence. Too few people were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories.

Last week, the New York Times, in a powerful report by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, revealed multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein, a story that led to the resignation of four members of his company’s all-male board, and to Weinstein’s firing from the company.

The story, however, is more complex, and there is more to know and to understand. In the course of a ten-month investigation, I was told by thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, allegations that corroborate and overlap with the Times’ revelations, and also include far more serious claims.

ny times logoNew York Times, Disney, Hillary Clinton and the Obamas Condemn Weinstein, Brooks Barnes, Oct. 10, 2017. As actresses came forward publicly on Tuesday with vivid accounts of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein stretching back decades, questions arose about Disney, which owned his Miramax studio when some of the harassment was alleged to have taken place.

Hillary Clinton TwitterIn another sign of how severe the fallout has become for Mr. Weinstein, Hillary Clinton (shown on her Twitter photo) released a statement saying she was “shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein.”

Barack and Michelle  ObamaFormer President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle (shown in a White House file photo), also released a statement about Mr. Weinstein, saying that “any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status.” The Obamas’ older daughter, Malia, was an intern at the Weinstein Company this year.

Also on Tuesday, Georgina Chapman, Mr. Weinstein’s wife, told People magazine that she was leaving him. And the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts said it had decided to reject his earlier pledge to fund a $5 million endowment for female filmmakers.

While with Disney, Miramax released more than 300 movies, which generated $5 billion in North American ticket sales and tallied at least 220 Academy Award nominations and 53 wins, including best picture Oscars for “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient” and “Chicago.”

But Disney also clashed bitterly with the Weinsteins, who took advantage of their autonomy to start an expensive magazine, Talk, without approval and to move forward with the political documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” despite being told that Disney would not distribute it.

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Washington Post, Trump proposes ‘IQ tests’ face-off with Tillerson after secretary of state calls him a ‘moron,’ Philip Rucker, Oct. 10, 2017. President Trump proposed an “IQ tests” face-off with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) after the nation's top diplomat reportedly called the president a “moron” and disparaged his grasp on foreign policy.

 Rex Tillerson Exxon Mobile (Small)In an interview with Forbes magazine published Tuesday, Trump fired a shot at Tillerson over the “moron” revelation, first reported by NBC News and confirmed by several other news organizations, including The Washington Post. “I think it's fake news,” Trump said, “but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

Around the Nation

ny times logoNew York Times, Wildfires Sweep Across Northern California; 13 Are Dead, Thomas Fuller, Jonah Engel Bromwich and Julie Turkewitz, Oct. 10, 2017.  Firefighters in Northern California were still battling wildfires on Tuesday that had burned through eight counties in more than 24 hours.

Claire McCaskill ojosh hawley missouriRoll Call, Hawley Announces Bid Against McCaskill, Griffin Connolly, Oct. 10, 2017. Incumbent’s campaign responds: ‘He broke his promise not to climb the political ladder.’  Missouri's Attorney General Josh Hawley (shown at left), a Republican who took office in January after a campaign protesting what he called Demcrats' using lower offices as stepping stones, today announced that he will run in 2018 against incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat shown at right.

Oct. 9

Explosive GOP Attack On Trump

Bob CorkerNny times logoew York Times, Trump Risks Inciting ‘World War III,’ G.O.P. Senator Says, Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler, Oct. 9, 2017 (print edition). In a remarkable rebuke of his party’s president, Bob Corker (shown at right), the influential head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Times that President Trump’s recklessness could set the country “on the path to World War III.”

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Washington Post, Analysis: Trump’s Bob Corker tirade encapsulates five reasons why he has failed at governing, James Hohmann​, Oct. 9, 2017. The president's myopic impulse to counterpunch whenever he feels attacked caused him to lose another news cycle and will overshadow an immigration proposal that the White House planned to talk about today.

Related news: Atlantic, It’s What Bob Corker Does Next That Counts, James Fallows, Oct. 8, 2017. After the senator warned that Trump’s reckless threats may set the nation ‘on the path to World War III,’ the question is whether the Tennessee Republican intends to do anything about it; and

Washington Post, Bob Corker just confirmed it: Republicans know Trump is unfit, Greg Sargent, Oct. 9, 2017.Corker confirmed that most Senate Republicans view Trump as, well, dangerous and crazy.

 whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, ‘Big Decision’: Will the US Spend What It Takes to Save Puerto Rico? Brent Gregstonm, Oct. 9, 2017. Puerto Rico needs a “Marshall Plan” to recover from the double devastation of Hurricane Maria and the economic austerity imposed by Congress. Will President Donald Trump, the self-styled “great builder,” authorize enough federal aid to rebuild Puerto Rico? Will Congress alleviate its crushing debt?

To prevent a mass exodus of Puerto Ricans, the Trump White House and Republican-controlled Congress will have to act fast.

Over two weeks after Hurricane Maria’s landfall on September 20, most of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million people were still without power, potable water and telecommunications. Many have no jobs to go back to, since their businesses were destroyed. The government expects to run out of money by October 31, terminating its hurricane recovery effort.

Trump EPA Chief Bashes Global Warming Rule

ny times logoNew York Times, E.P.A. Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule, Lisa Friedman and Brad Plum, Oct. 9, 2017. The Trump administration announced Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming.

scott pruitt epa o Custom

At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt (shown at right), the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions.

 “The war on coal is over,” Mr. Pruitt said. “Tomorrow in Washington D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Kentucky.”

More Washington Intrigues, Analysis

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ny times logoNew York Times, Stephen Miller, the Powerful Survivor on Trump’s Right Flank, Matt Flegenheimer, Oct. 9, 2017. Mr. Miller (shown above), who was a conservative trapped in a liberal California high school, has rocketed to the upper reaches of White House influence, especially on immigration.

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google logo customWashington Post, Google uncovers Russian-bought ads aimed at influencing the 2016 election, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Adam Entous, Oct. 9, 2017. The Silicon Valley giant found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents on YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail and the company’s DoubleClick ad network.

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Washington Post, Newly disclosed email could shed light on planning that led to 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Rosalind S. Helderman​, Oct. 9, 2017. It could offer evidence backing up a Russian lawyer's claims that the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. was solely to discuss a 2012 law despised by the Kremlin that imposed financial sanctions on wealthy Russians as punishment for human rights abuses.

Daily Beast, Russia Recruited YouTubers to Bash ‘Racist B*tch’ Hillary Clinton Over Rap Beats, Ben Collins, Gideon Resnick, and Spencer Ackerman, Oct. 8, 2017. Wannabe YouTube stars and diehard Donald Trump supporters ‘Williams & Kalvin’ totally swear they’re from Atlanta. In reality, they were working for the Kremlin.

According to the YouTube page for “Williams and Kalvin,” the Clintons are “serial killers who are going to rape the whole nation.” Donald Trump can’t be racist because he’s a “businessman.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign was “fund[ed] by the Muslim.”

These are a sample of the videos put together by two black video bloggers calling themselves Williams and Kalvin Johnson, whose social media pages investigators say are part of the broad Russian campaign to influence American politics. Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, they purported to offer “a word of truth” to African-American audiences.

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Washington Post, Ivana Trump says she’s the ‘first lady.’ Melania Trump’s office claps back, Helena Andrews-Dyer and Emily Heil, Oct. 9, 2017. Things are getting a little “Real Housewives” around the White House.

 In one of the stranger sideshows to his presidency, President Donald Trump’s first and third wives, Ivana and Melania, respectively, on Monday had a very public war of words — and his second wife, Marla Maples, is getting some shade out of the spat, to boot.

Melania Trump Twitter photo

Here’s a breakdown: To promote her new book, Raising Trump, about parenting Trump’s three eldest children, Ivana Trump gave a Monday interview to “Good Morning America” in which she made some comments sure to privately raise the hackles of the woman currently occupying the role of Wife of Donald. “I’m basically first Trump wife. Okay?” Ivana Trump said. “I’m first lady.”

She offered faux sympathy for Melania Trump (shown at left), saying  “I think for her to be in Washington must be terrible.” (She had less subtle insults for her ex’s second wife, Marla Maples. “A showgirl” was her epithet of choice.)

Cops, Court, Global Scandal

SouthFront, Australian Police Operated One Of Largest DarkWeb Child Abuse Sites For About Year, Staff report, Oct. 9, 2017. Australian police operated one of the dark web’s largest child abuse sites for almost a year in secret, posing as its founder in an undercover operation. Childs Play, the dark web forum that acted as an underground meeting place for thousands of active pedophiles, was taken over by Brisbane police’s Taskforce Argos in October 2016 in an undercover operation,

The police involvement was uncovered by journalists with the Norwegian newspaper, VG, who spent months tracing Childs Play’s origins and monitoring public posts. Due to a security flaw, they unwittingly discovered a sensitive police operation in January 2017.

australian flag wavingTaskforce Argos squad had taken over Childs Play, assuming the identity of its founder following his arrest for the rape of a four year old girl in the US. Undercover detectives were posting and sharing abuse material on the forum to maintain their cover. Other users posted and saw images while the site was under police control.

Childs Play was one of the largest sites on the dark web. The site was created in April 2016, and had attracted more than a million users. About 100 “producers” were active on the site, filming and sharing abuse and rape of children. The police shut the forum down in September 2017. 

Oct. 8

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 ny times logoNew York Times, White House to Tie Hard-Line Conditions Into ‘Dreamers’ Deal, Michael D. Shear, Oct. 8, 2017. In exchange for letting the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers stay in the U.S., the White House will push for terms that include a crackdown on children fleeing Central America. The deal will also insist on the construction of a wall across the southern border.

Taken together, the proposals amount to a wish list for immigration hard-liners inside the White House, including Stephen Miller, the president’s top policy adviser, who has long advocated extremely aggressive efforts to prevent illegal entry into the country and crack down on undocumented immigrants already here.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump views Sunday’s list of immigration demands as absolute requirements for an agreement or the beginning of a negotiation.

harvey weinsteinny times logoNew York Times, Weinstein Is Fired After Revelations of Sexual Harassment, Maggie Astor, Oct, 8, 2017. The board of his company announced that the mega-producer Harvey Weinstein (shown at right) was “terminated, effective immediately” on Sunday, days after a Times investigation uncovered a long history of sexual harassment.

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Washington Post, Corker calls White House ‘an adult day care center’ in response to Trump’s latest Twitter tirade, Philip Rucker and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 8, 2017. Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Sunday called the White House "an adult day care center" after President Trump attacked him in a morning Twitter tirade.

Bob CorkerTrump alleged in a trio of tweets that Corker (shown at right) "begged" him for his endorsement, did not receive it and decided to retire because he "didn't have the guts" to run for reelection next year. In response, Corker (Tenn.) tweeted, "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."

Trump Arms VP For Culture War Battle Against Football Players

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Washington Post, Trump says he asked Pence to leave NFL game if players protested, Cindy Boren​, Oct 8, 2017. The vice president was supposed to be on hand as the Indianapolis Colts retired Peyton Manning’s number. But several San Francisco 49ers took a knee, prompting Pence to say on Twitter: “I stand with @POTUS Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: After walking out on NFL game, Mike Pence heads directly to Russian-compromised event, Bill Palmer, Oct. 8, 2017. Mike Pence is receiving a mountain of attention today – most of it negative – for having staged a walkout at an NFL football game yesterday in order to protest against the actions of black players. But in the end, where he went directly after he bailed on the game may end up proving to be more important to the unraveling of the Trump-Pence regime.

After leaving the Indianapolis Colts game, Pence got on a plane and headed straight to California, where he attended a fundraiser for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (link). If you’re trying to place the name, Rohrabacher is the guy who has such profound allegiance to Russia that his fellow Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy once accused him behind closed doors of being on Vladimir Putin’s payroll.

Rohrabacher is in so deep with Russia, and seemingly so likely to be taken down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, that no national political figure seems to want to be associated with him. Yet Mike Pence was willing to fly all the way from Indianapolis to California just to attend a fundraiser with Rohrabacher.

Global Battlefield: Iraq

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ny times logoNew York Times, ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse, Rod Nortland (shown below left), Oct. 8, 2017. The prisoners were taken to a waiting room in groups of four, and were told to stand facing the concrete wall, their noses almost touching it, their hands bound behind their backs.

rod nordlandMore than a thousand prisoners determined to be Islamic State fighters passed through that room last week after they fled their crumbling Iraqi stronghold of Hawija. Instead of the martyrdom they had boasted was their only acceptable fate, they had voluntarily ended up here in the interrogation center of the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq.

For an extremist group that has made its reputation on its ferociousness, with fighters who would always choose suicide over surrender, the fall of Hawija has been a notable turning point. The group has suffered a string of humiliating defeats in Iraq and Syria, but the number of its shock troops who turned themselves in at the center in Dibis was unusually large, more than 1,000 since last Sunday, according to Kurdish intelligence officials.

The Iraqi military ousted the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, from Hawija in 15 days, saying it had taken its forces only three days of actual heavy fighting before most of the extremists grabbed their families and ran. According to Kurdish officials, they put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps.

U.S. Political Realignments?

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics, Kennedth P. Vogel, Oct. 8, 2017 (print edition). A struggle between the Democratic Party establishment and grass-roots activists foreshadows a once-in-a-generation reorganization of the left. The Republican Party’s establishment is also contending with a rising rebellion, amid a broader realignment in American politics.

Oct. 7

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Se. Chuck Schumer (dmca)Washington Post, Trump says he called Schumer to broker deal with Democrats for ‘a great’ health-care bill, Philip Rucker, Oct. 7, 2017. The president tweeted that he called Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (shown at right) to ask whether Democrats would work with him to replace the Affordable Care Act — and Trump indicated that he had not been entirely rebuffed.

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Washington Post, Republicans largely abandon their platform of fiscal restraint, Damian Paletta, Oct. 7, 2017. The Republican Party has largely abandoned its platform of fiscal restraint, pivoting sharply in a way that could add trillions of dollars in federal debt over the next decade. Cutting spending to balance the budget was almost religion to the Republican Party for much of the past eight years. But all year long, despite their control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have not taken steps to balance the budget, to overhaul entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, or to arrest the growth of the country’s $20 trillion in debt.

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Washington Post, Trump backers eager to ‘drain the swamp’ help fill GOP coffers, Matea Gold, Oct. 7, 2017. Fueled by fundraising appeals from President Trump, Republicans are on track for their biggest haul from small-dollar donors in more than a decade. The Republican National Committee has pulled in nearly twice as much money overall as its Democratic counterpart this year.

Global News: Syria

SouthFront, Syrian Army Is Close To Full Control Over al-Mayadin City, Advances To Drive Remaining ISIS Members Out, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2017. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces liberated a major part of the strategic town of al-Mayadin on the western bank of the Euphrates River.

Sex Scandal Follow up

harvey weinsteinHuffington Post, Third Of The Weinstein Company Board Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations: Reports, Carla Herreria, Oct. 7, 2017. The resignations from the board of the Weinstein Company, which consists of all men, comes a day after an explosive New York Times article. Dirk Ziff, a billionaire investor, was the first board member reported to have resigned from his post on Friday, according to the New York Times and entertainment new sites The Wrap and Deadline. Ziff’s resignation was followed by reports of the departures of Technicolor executive Tim Sarnoff and hedge fund billionaire Marc Lasry. Company founder Harvey Weinstein is shown in a file photo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lawyer Advising Harvey Weinstein Resigns, Megan Twohey and Johanna Barr, Oct. 7, 2017. The lawyer Lisa Bloom resigned on Saturday as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein, the high-powered film producer facing allegations of rampant sexual harassment, amid harsh criticism of her handling of his defense.

lisa bloomAmong those upset with her were two members of the board of Mr. Weinstein’s company: his brother, Bob Weinstein, and Lance Maerov, who had both exchanged confrontational emails with Ms. Bloom (shown in a file photo) over the past two days.

In making her announcement on Twitter, Ms. Bloom did not offer an explanation for her resignation. The tactics and tenor of her defense of Mr. Weinstein have varied, and there were often substantial differences in her public and private statements. The emails, viewed by The New York Times, reveal that at least two board members did not approve of her approach.

Lanny Davis, another adviser to Mr. Weinstein, is also no longer representing him, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Davis, a lawyer and crisis counselor who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, declined on Saturday to discuss his departure. But he and Mr. Weinstein had disagreed over how to handle the sexual harassment allegations, with Mr. Davis advising a more conciliatory tone and approach than Mr. Weinstein seemed willing to adopt.

Oct. 6

whowhatwhy logogerald ford oWhoWhatWhy, Navy Doctor: Bullet Found in JFK’s Limousine, and Never Reported, Milicent Cranor, Oct. 6, 2017. This is the story of a bullet — a spent, misshapen, but otherwise intact, bullet — that a Navy doctor said was found late at night, on the floor, in the back of John Kennedy’s limousine. No one seems to want to acknowledge it.

Years later, when reviewing a memoir he wrote in 1963, the doctor, Dr. James Young, thought about that bullet, and tried to find some mention of it in the Warren Commission Hearings. To his dismay, he found nothing. In 2000, he wrote to President Gerald Ford (right) to ask him about it. After all, Ford had been on the Warren Commission. But Ford said he knew nothing about it either. In 2001, two Navy historians interviewed the doctor, who gave them a highly detailed account of the events of November 22, 1963, some of which he witnessed personally. And he mentioned the bullet.

randy robertson mdRecently, Dr. Randy Robertson (left), a board member of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) came upon Young’s papers at a Navy website. This was an exciting discovery.

To understand the significance of this discovery, readers need to know that — according to the official record — only one whole bullet was recovered, the “magic bullet” found on Governor John Connally’s stretcher. Here, Robertson describes in an email to WhoWhatWhy how he came upon this apparently suppressed evidence:

Here, Robertson describes in an email to WhoWhatWhy how he came upon this apparently suppressed evidence:

Sexual Assaults On Women

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Washington Post, Administration narrows access to birth-control coverage under Affordable Care Act, Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein and William Wan, Oct. 6, 2017. The rule takes effect immediately and allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to claim a religious or moral exemption from offering no-charge contraceptives to women. Several religious groups, which had battled the Obama administration for years over the controversial mandate, welcomed the pullback. But women’s rights organizations and some medical professionals described it as a blow to women’s health.

tim murphy pa ony times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Sexual Hypocrisy of Conservative Men, Jennifer Weiner, Oct. 6, 2017. Tim Murphy’s “pro-life in the streets, pro-choice in the sheets” stance is just the latest example. There are a few, rare exceptions that abortion opponents tend to allow to their hard-line rules: rape, incest, life or health of the mother, and “I got my mistress pregnant.”

The most recent culprit in the category of anti-abortion double-think is Tim Murphy (right), a Pennsylvania Republican who on Thursday announced he would resign from his House seat this month. Two days before, Mr. Murphy had voted for a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks on the medically dubious grounds that, at that age, a fetus can experience pain.

Sound familiar? Perhaps Mr. Murphy’s story it calls to mind the Tennessee congressman Scott DesJarlais, who is similarly pro-life in the streets, pro-choice in the sheets.

 harvey weinsteinny times logoNew York Times, Movie Mogul Weinstein Paid Off Harassment Cases for Years, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Oct. 6, 32017 (print edition). An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein (shown at right in a file photo). Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.

 Over nearly three decades, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, The Times found. During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and Ms. O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements.

harvey weinstein pulp fiction posterIn a statement to The Times on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Weinstein said: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”

The allegations piled up even as Mr. Weinstein helped define popular culture. He has collected six best-picture Oscars and turned out a number of touchstones, from the films “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting” to the television show “Project Runway.” In public, he presents himself as a liberal lion, a champion of women and a winner of not just artistic but humanitarian awards.

Jezebel, It Shouldn't Surprise Anyone That Lisa Bloom Is Representing Harvey Weinstein, Megan Reynolds, On Thursday, the New York Times published an incendiary report that detailed almost three decades’ worth of sexual harassment allegations against the powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

lisa bloomLisa Bloom (shown in a file photo), daughter of Gloria Allred and lawyer who has made her career representing female victims in sexual assault cases against powerful men, is representing Weinstein, and has been “advising” him for the past year — a curious choice for a man who, if the circumstances were different, Bloom might have faced in court.

There are many issues with this, starting with the fact that Lisa Bloom is not the first woman to “be blunt” with Weinstein, or indicate to him that “times have changed.” Throwing her hat in the ring with Harvey Weinstein and trotting out the old “boys will be boys” is a maddening move, but Bloom shows her hand at the end of her statement: “He has been working on a major foundation with USC with one of the largest grants for female directors, which started well over a year ago,” she writes. “And as we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful towards me.”

In another baffling twist, Weinstein’s other lawyer, Charles Harder — who represented Hulk Hogan in his case against Jezebel’s former parent company Gawker Media, and who is currently representing several clients against Gizmodo Media Group, Jezebel’s current parent company — says Weinstein will sue the New York Times for defamation to the tune of $50 million. All proceeds from any resulting lawsuit will go to a variety of “women’s organizations,” though it’s not clear what women’s organizations would take that dirty money were it to come their way. There it is.

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Washington Post, Georgia sheriff, deputies indicted after body searches of 900 high school students, Kyle Swenson,Oct. 6, 2017. The sound system squawked at 8 a.m., just as the school day was revving up at Worth County High School. The campus was now on lockdown, the announcement said. Neither the teachers nor students at the south Georgia school knew what was going on.

For the next four hours, 40 uniformed officers — the entire staff of the Worth County Sheriff’s Office — fanned through the school in Sylvester, ordering students against the walls of classrooms and hallways, demanding the students hand over their cellphones. All 900 students were searched, part of a drug sweep ordered by Sheriff Jeff Hobby, according to court documents.

He did not have a warrant. He had a “target list” of 12 suspected drug users. Only three of the names were in school that day, April 14. By noon, when cellphones were handed back and classes resumed, no drugs had been found.

The sheriff’s full-court press, however, would yield legal consequences — for Hobby and his office. In the days following the sweep, students came forward charging they had been inappropriately groped and manhandled by deputies. A class-action federal civil suit followed.

Inside Washington

tim murphy pa oPolitico, Inside Tim Murphy's reign of terror, Rachael Bade, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, Oct. 6, 2017. Rep. Tim Murphy (shown at right), a staunch anti-abortion advocate, thought he could withstand the media furor that engulfed him after reports that he’d encouraged his extramarital lover to end her apparent pregnancy. He was wrong.

Ironically, Murphy’s swift collapse came not because of text messages he sent to a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, encouraging her to have an abortion as first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. In fact, fears among senior Republicans about a potential wave of negative stories on how Murphy ran his congressional office were what ultimately pushed him out the door.

The Post-Gazette had reported on a June 2017 memo in which Murphy’s longtime chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, warned the Pennsylvania Republican that he was mistreating and “harassing” staff, causing 100 percent turnover.

Susan Mosychuk (PA Spotlight)But Mosychuk (shown in a profile photo from Politics PA) is a source of controversy herself. A number of former Murphy staffers told Politico that it was Mosychuk’s behavior that drove them to leave Murphy's office. And these ex-aides said the combination of Murphy and Mosychuk — who had a close personal relationship, according to GOP lawmakers and staffers — made the situation intolerable. Mosychuk was promoted to Murphy’s chief of staff in 2004, just a year after becoming his legislative director.

According to these aides, Mosychuk regularly engaged in brutal verbal abuse of lower-ranking aides, from calling aides “worthless” and their work “garbage” to asking derisively, “Do you or do you not have a fucking college degree?”

us house logoMosychuk would even call staffers out of their bathroom breaks to demand they return to the office, or yell at them for taking too long to use the restroom. Many younger aides did not take lunch breaks, eating at their desks because they were scolded for leaving. One new employee quit after just a couple days because he was dressed down for using a paper clip instead of a staple on a briefing packet, multiple sources said.

During 2008, Mosychuk was paid $231,500 — $156,500 for her official duties and $75,000 from the campaign, according to House disbursement records and her annual financial disclosure form. But permissible outside income for top aides that year was capped at $25,830, according to the House Ethics Committee.

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Washington Post, Some middle-class families could face a tax increase under the Republican plan, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Oct. 6, 2017. People who are likely to be hit with higher taxes include taxpayers who itemize, residents of high-tax states and Americans with large families.

ny times logorex tillerson exxon mobil SmallNew York Times, Analysis: Will Trump Trumpify the Fed? Paul Krugman, Oct. 6, 2017. By all accounts, Rex Tillerson (shown at right) has demoralized and degraded the State Department to the point of uselessness. Tom Price did much the same to Health and Human Services before jetting off. Scott Pruitt has moved rapidly to eliminate the “protection” aspect of the Environmental Protection Agency. And similar stories are unfolding throughout the executive branch.

Donald Trump has, in short, been like a Category 5 hurricane sweeping through the U.S. government, leaving devastation in his wake. And one question I don’t see being asked often enough is, will the same thing happen to the Federal Reserve? And if it does, how disastrous will that end up being for the world economy?

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Washington Post, Arizona congressman repeats bogus claim that Charlottesville violence was left-wing plot, Derek Hawkins, Oct. 6, 2017. In the aftermath of the summer’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, conspiracy theorists came out in force. Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) still seems swayed by the “false flag” theory of the white supremacist violence. In an interview with Vice News that aired Thursday night, Gosar suggested that the rally was “created by the left” and carried out by an “Obama sympathizer.”

Kennedy Document Release

cnn logoCNN, Will Trump allow release of final JFK assassination documents? Eli Watkins, Oct. 6, 2017. More than 50 years after President John F. Kennedy was slain in full view of the world, the final government documents about his death are set for release. That is, unless President Donald Trump, citing national security, certifies that some unreleased or redacted files be kept from public view. The documents are among the last of still-secret papers the government amassed on the assassination. Some grand jury and tax documents will remain secret.

The JFK Records Act passed in 1992, following the release of the Oliver Stone movie "JFK" and a surge in interest about the killing. The law mandated the government release the remaining files to the public and gave it 25 years to do so.

Brits To Crack Down On Readers Of Forbidden Websites

Jonathan TurleyInformation Clearinghouse, Britain Moves To Criminalize Reading Extremist Material On The Internet, Jonathan Turley (a law professor shown at right), Oct. 6, 2017. For years, civil libertarians have warned that Great Britain has been in a free fall from the criminalization of speech to the expansion of the surveillance state.

United Kingdom flagNow the government is pursuing a law that would make the repeated viewing of extremist Internet sites a crime punishable to up to 15 years in prison. It appears that the government is not satiated by their ever-expanding criminalization of speech. They now want to criminalize even viewing sites on the Internet. As always, officials are basically telling the public to “trust us, we’re the government.”

Free Speech

george orwell at bbc mike public domainBoston Review, Saving Orwell, Peter Ross, Oct. 6, 2017. “It was a bright cold day in April,” said Richard Blair, “and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Blair is seventy-three and the son of George Orwell (shown above). To witness him stand at a lectern and read the opening line of his father’s great final novel, 1984, is to experience a sense of completion, an equation solved.

We were in Senate House, now part of the University of London, for 1984 Live. For the first time in the United Kingdom, the book was to be read aloud publicly from start to finish. It had been estimated that it would take sixty or so readers—well-known journalists, academics, actors, activists — thirteen hours, that Orwellian number, to get from the bright cold day to the gin-scented tears.

All political moments are Orwellian, but some are more Orwellian than others. Reading 1984 “hurts” right now, according to Jean Seaton, but perhaps there is also something soothing in the recognition that the novel’s darkness looks so much like our own. “It feels like 1984 is here in our faces,” she told me.

George Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, wrote the novel between the summer of 1946 and the winter of 1948, mostly on the island of Jura, off the west coast of Scotland, where he had taken a house, moving there from austere post-war London. It tells the story of Winston Smith, a citizen of the state of Oceania, and his attempted rebellion — through sex and love and the written word—against the Party, which observes and controls every aspect of life. The novel has given us familiar concepts such as Big Brother and Room 101. Published in the United Kingdom on June 8, 1949, and five days later in the United States, the reviews at once recognized its significance. Mark Schorer wrote in the New York Times that “no other work of this generation has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness.”

george orwell war is peace freedom is slavery ignorance is strength george orwell 22 12 12For the Columbia University historian Simon Schama, who had flown to London from New York, 1984’s continued relevance is illustrated by Orwell’s concept of the Ministries of Truth, Love, and Plenty, all of which are concerned with the precise opposite of what their names indicate. For a parallel, he suggested, one need only look to Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency; or his nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary when — as Schama put it — she is the “sworn foe” of public schooling.

“And Trump calling anything he happens to disagree with ‘fake news’ is 1984 to the letter,” he continued. “To take authenticity and evidence and empirically acquired information and stigmatize them as non-truth is just about as Orwellian as you could possibly get.”

Not everyone is convinced. “Trump is a horrible oaf, but he’s not Big Brother,” said the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, a former winner of the Orwell Prize for journalism. We were talking in a small exhibition space just along the corridor from Chancellor’s Hall; a sign next to the door revealed, almost unbelievably, that this was Room 101.

Oct. 5

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iran flag mapWashington Post, Trump plans to take first step toward undoing Iran nuclear agreement, Anne Gearan and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 5, 2017. Under what is described as a tougher and more comprehensive approach, President Trump would open the door to modifying the landmark 2015 deal. But for now he won’t recommend the resumption of sanctions on Iran, said people familiar with aspects of his thinking.

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Washington Post, Analysis: Trump’s decision on Iran could cause major breach with allies, Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello​, Oct. 5, 2017. More than any other issue that has threatened transatlantic cohesion this year, decertifying Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal could start a chain of events that would sharply divide the United States from its closest traditional allies.

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Washington Post, As ACA enrollment nears, administration keeps cutting federal support of the law, Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 5, 2017. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to policies wanted by conservative states as part of a broader campaign to undermine the law, with Trump personally intervening to stop changes sought in Iowa.

Associated Press via Washington Post, Report: Trump-tied lobbyists cash in on their connections, Tami Abdollah, Oct. 5, 2017. Scores of former members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team, as well as others with ties to his young administration, are setting up shop as lobbyists in Washington and cashing in on their connections, according to a new study published Thursday.

The report, produced by Public Citizen, a public interest group, identified at least 44 registered federal lobbyists with such ties to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence operating in Washington as recently as the end of August. These collectively billed nearly $41.8 million to clients, records showed.

Those clients included the owner of a private equity group that received U.S. government approval to take over the for-profit University of Phoenix, and directors of Wells Fargo, which has faced increased government scrutiny after its workers created bogus accounts for unwitting customers.

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 steven mnuchin wWashington Post, Treasury secretary’s military flights totaling $811,000 were legal but poorly justified, watchdog says, Lisa Rein, Oct. 5, 2017. In a review of nine requests for Steven Mnuchin to fly on government planes, the Treasury Department inspector general’s office found that Trump officials cut corners as they tried to justify the trips, as federal regulations require.

JFK Document Releases Scheduled This Month

Salon, Republicans and Democrats agree: Trump should release JFK records, Matthew Rozsa, Oct. 5, 2017. There seems to be one major issue that is rallying considerable bipartisan support on Capitol Hill — namely, having President Donald Trump allow the release of the remaining government records pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

pat leahy hsTrump will have until later this month to make this decision, due to the impending 25th anniversary of the passage of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. A bipartisan Senate resolution is being sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, and a Democratic counterpart who also used to chair that committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermon (shown at right)t, according to Roll Call.

"Transparency in government is critical not only to ensuring accountability; it’s also essential to understanding our nation’s history. The assassination of President Kennedy occurred at a pivotal time for our nation, and nearly 54 years later, we are still learning the details of how our government responded and what it may have known beforehand. Americans deserve a full picture of what happened that fateful day in November 1963," Grassley said in a statement.

Leahy echoed those thoughts in a statement of his own, saying that "the assassination of President Kennedy was one of the most shocking and tragic events in our nation’s history. Americans have the right to know what our government knows. Transparency is crucial for our country to fully reckon with this national tragedy, and that is the purpose of these resolutions."

Although he is best known for being assassinated on November 22, 1963, Kennedy was also a very accomplished president in his own right. He took the lead in pushing for civil rights legislation (although the bills he helped shape wouldn't be signed into law until after his death), created the Peace Corps, obtained the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and led America successfully through the Cuban Missile Crisis.

roger stone2Salon, Roger Stone calls on Trump to release JFK assassination files, Matthew Rozsa, Oct. 5, 2017. The Trump political adviser shares his odd reason why JFK assassination documents should be publicly available. Roger Stone (shown at right), the famous political adviser to Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, wants the public release of the remaining secret government records pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"[The] last release of JFK assassination-related documents [included] a memo from Jay Hoover to the head of the FBI in Dallas instructing him to bring George Bush of the CIA [up] on activities of the anti-Castro Cubans in the Dallas area," Stone told Salon. "Also clued in a memo from Hoover to LBJ informing him that the Russian KGB had conducted their own investigation into the Kennedy assassination and had concluded LBJ was the ringleader in the plot to kill Kennedy," Stone claimed, implicating Kennedy's successor in his murder.

"There is no telling what is in the unreleased documents, but at this point, I think the public has a right to know," he insisted.

The effort to publicize these government records has bipartisan support in both the Senate (Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and former chairman Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont) and House of Representatives (Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina and Democratic Rep. Louise M. Slaughter of New York).

What Stone brings to the table, however, is a set of particularly controversial views on the Kennedy assassination itself. In his book "The Making of the President 2016" (which I discussed in an interview with Stone), he repeatedly claimed that the father of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rafael Cruz, lied about his past as a Cuban immigrant. After summarizing accounts by blogger Wayne Madsen and the National Enquirer, which claimed that Rafael Cruz may have been connected to Lee Harvey Oswald, Stone argued that one Cuban man photographed with Oswald looked like the elder Cruz.

"The identity of the Cruz look-alike has never been established," Stone told Salon. "In May, I went on record saying that I had spoken with a source who identified the mystery man as Rafael Cruz." Stone also added that he did not start or plant the Cruz story.

Global News

SouthFront, Syrian Army Strikes ISIS Near Mayadin City, Staff report with Harold Hoover voiceover, Oct. 5, 2017. The main obstacle faced by anti-terrorist forces “….in Syria is not the military capabilities of terrorists, but rather the support of the….” United States, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on October 4.

He added that the Russian military had warned its U.S. counterparts that its forces would repel any “odd” attacks by terrorists from areas where the “US military mission” is deployed. Konashenkov said that 300 ISIS members whom allegedly seized Al-Qaryatayn City came from the town of Rubkan avoiding Syrian army posts and using coordinates that could only be obtained through aerial reconnaissance.

Related news: Moon of Alabama, Syria - Russia Issues Third Warning Against U.S. Cooperation With Terrorists, B., Oct. 5, 2017. There have now been three significant incidents against the Russian-Syrian alliance in which, according to Russia, U.S. malignancy played a role. Each time Russian officials warned of consequences. To some extend the U.S. hostility is incited by Israeli nagging. But the record shows that CentCom, the U.S. military command in the Middle East, is overtly aggressive and not always following Washington's line. It is high time for the White House to get the situation under control.

SouthFront, Aleppo's Propaganda Princess Releases Book About Syrian War, Staff report, Oct. 6, 2017. https://southfront.org/aleppos-propaganda-princess-releases-book-syrian-war/ An 8-year-old Syrian girl Bana Alabed presented her book Dear World: My Story of War, My Plea for Peace in New York on October 5. The book is published by Simon & Schuster. The presentation took place at New York University, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Syrian girl’s name came to prominence via a Twitter account run by her mother. The account was initially dedicated to covering the civilian life during the battle for Aleppo city between Al-Qaeda-linked militants and the Syrian Army. Tweets from the account gained widespread attention. The account has more than 360,000 followers and frequently features pleas to the world to intervene in the ongoing conflict.

Oct. 4

supreme court building

ny times logoNew York Times, Kennedy Seems Open to Court Limits on Gerrymandering, Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, Oct. 4, 2017 (print edition). There was reason to think Justice Anthony M. Kennedy may be ready to join the Supreme Court’s more liberal members in a groundbreaking decision that could reshape American democracy.

anthony kennedy oAfter spirited Supreme Court arguments on Tuesday, there was reason to think Justice Kennedy may be ready to join the court’s more liberal members in a groundbreaking decision that could reshape American democracy by letting courts determine when lawmakers have gone too far. Justice Kennedy (shown at right) asked skeptical questions of lawyers defending a Wisconsin legislative map that gave Republicans many more seats in the State Assembly than their statewide vote tallies would have predicted. He asked no questions of the lawyer representing the Democratic voters challenging the map.

samuel alitoThere was something like consensus among the justices that voting maps drawn by politicians to give advantage to their parties are an unattractive feature of American democracy.

But the justices appeared split about whether the court could find a standard for determining when the practice was unconstitutional. “Gerrymandering is distasteful,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. (shown at left), “but if we are going to impose a standard on the courts, it has to be something that’s manageable.”

Inside Washington

Rex Tillerson state dept

NBC News, Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Pence, Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle and Dafna Linzer, Oct. 4, 2017.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.

state dept map logo SmallThe tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.

Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

While it's unclear if he was aware of the incident, Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year, officials said.

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Washington Post, Tillerson vows to stay on amid signs of tension with Trump: ‘I have never considered leaving this post,’ Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, Oct. 4, 2017. In an extraordinary and hastily called news conference at the State Department, the secretary of state did not directly address a report that he had referred to the president as a "moron."

 ny times logoiran flag mapNew York Times, Mattis Contradicts Trump on Iran Deal Ahead of Deadline, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and David E. Sanger, Oct. 4, 2017 (print edition). Pressed by lawmakers, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated his view that the Iran accord is working, a quiet break with President Trump.

James Mattis Days before President Trump has to make a critical decision on whether to hold up the Iran nuclear deal, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (shown at left) openly split with him on abandoning the agreement, the second senior member of the president’s national security team to recently contradict him. Mr. Mattis told senators on Tuesday that it was in America’s interest to stick with the deal, which Mr. Trump has often dismissed as a “disaster.”

Courts, Crime Around the Nation: NYC

Cyrus Vance Jr. ny times logoNew York Times, Vance Returned Trump Lawyer’s Donation After Reporters’ Questions, James C. McKingley Jr., Oct. 4, 2017.  he Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., last week returned a five-year-old campaign contribution from President Trump’s personal lawyer after journalists raised questions about Mr. Vance’s 2012 decision to end a criminal investigation into fraud allegations against Mr. Trump and his children, a spokesman for Mr. Vance’s campaign said.

Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump in Alston, PAThe investigation had delved into allegations that Mr. Trump’s eldest children, Ivanka (shown with her father at a Pennsylvania speech) and Donald Jr., had lied to buyers of units at the Trump SoHo, a 46-story luxury condominium-hotel in Lower Manhattan, about how many apartments had been sold, painting a rosy picture of sales at the struggling project. The buyers sued the Trumps and their partners in the project, and in late 2010 the Manhattan district attorney’s office started looking into whether laws had been broken.

Mr. Vance, a Democrat, said on Wednesday his decision to drop the investigation in August 2012 had nothing to do with donations the lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, made to his campaign. He said he had determined after two years of investigation that his office could not prove a crime had been committed.

marc kasowitz color portraitOne of the contributions, for $25,000, was returned in May 2012, just before Mr. Kasowitz (shown at right) met with Mr. Vance and two senior prosecutors to argue the Trumps had done nothing illegal. Mr. Vance ended the investigation three months later. The second contribution, for $32,000, came five months after Mr. Vance made his decision. That contribution was returned last week, after journalists made inquiries about it. Mr. Kasowitz’s role in the case, and the contributions to Vance’s campaign, were first reported in a joint article  by The New Yorker, ProPublica and WNYC.

Las Vegas Massacre Follow-ups

stephen paddock shooting scene

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Shooting Could Change Police Tactics, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Oct. 4, 2017. Specialists in police training expect greater focus on the threat posed by high-rise or long-distance snipers.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Girlfriend of Casino Gunman Returns to U.S., Ellen Gabler and Conor Dougherty, Oct. 4, 2017. In the search for a motive, some clues may be known only to Marilou Danley (shown in a file photo), who was met by federal agents in Los Angeles.

Capitol Hill Bill Urges Trump To Release JFK Assassination Documents

Roll Call, Lawmakers Push Trump to Release JFK Assassination Files, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 4, 2017. Bipartisan group introduce resolutions ahead of October deadline Senior lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to allow the release of remaining government records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Resolutions introduced in the House and Senate would call on the president to allow release of documents held by the National Archives and Records Administration, and for the Archives to work to meet a statutory deadline that arrives later in October.

The deadline occurs because it will be the 25th anniversary of the signing of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act.

chuck grassley officialThe leaders of the Senate resolution are Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who is a former chairman of the committee.

“The assassination of President Kennedy was one of the most shocking and tragic events in our nation’s history,” Leahy said in a statement. “Americans have the right to know what our government knows. Transparency is crucial for our country to fully reckon with this national tragedy, and that is the purpose of these resolutions.” Grassley expressed a similar sentiment in his statement.

Oct. 3Stephen Paddock Rooms at Mandalay Hotel

Broken windows show exterior Las Vegas shooter Stephen Mandalay's suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel

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Washington Post, Investigators find arsenal fit for a commando team in retiree’s hotel room, Lynh Bui, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 3, 2017. Hospitals remained full in Las Vegas with hundreds injured, some in critical condition, while authorities tried to grasp what caused a 64-year-old retiree, Stephen Peacock (shown in a 2002 photo) to turn a concert into a killing field, leaving at least 59 people dead and hundreds injured.

New York Post, Jimmy Kimmel tearfully rips into politicians in wake of Vegas shoooting, Lisa de Moraes, Oct. 3, 2017. Jimmy Kimmel excoriated politicians who sent love to the families of Las Vegas shooting victims, but who won’t pass legislation to curb mass shootings in this country. “Here we are again, in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicably shocking and painful tragedy,” Kimmel began Monday night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” noting that Las Vegas is his hometown.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If Only Stephen Paddock Were a Muslim, Thomas L. Friedman, Oct. 3, 2017. If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS.

If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies.

No, no, no. Then we know what we’d be doing. We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them. Then there would be immediate calls for a commission of inquiry to see what new laws we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then we’d be “weighing all options” against the country of origin.

 Trump In Puerto Rico

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Washington Post, Trump says Puerto Rico officials should be ‘proud’ more haven’t died like in Katrina, Ashley Parker, Oct. 3, 2017. The president’s remarks came as he touched down in San Juan amid harsh criticism of the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria.

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Washington Post,  A cry from Puerto Rico: ‘In my life, I have never seen anything so mismanaged,’ Steven Mufson, Oct. 3, 2017. A factory owner on the island recounts a week of debris, flooding, damaged rooftops and frustration.

Huffington Post, Trump Visits Puerto Rico After Insult Tweets, Tells Officials Hurricane Threw Budget ‘Out Of Whack,’ Willa Frej and Marina Fang, Oct. 3, 2017. President Donald Trump landed on Puerto Rico on Tuesday, almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island and left many of its 3.4 million residents without power, water or food

Donald Trump

At his first stop, a briefing with federal and local officials, Trump lavishly praised them. He then repeatedly turned to individuals around the table and invited them to offer their own praise — while insisting, “It’s not about me.”

He told officials that they should be “very proud” of their response after asking them for their “death count” from the storm, and appeared to joke about the cost of the storm damage. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said.Tensions are high after the president ripped into local officials for criticizing his administration’s storm response.

Inside Washington

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Washington Post, Fancy dinners, far-flung speeches: Calendars detail EPA chief’s close ties to industry, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 3, 2017. A detailed schedule for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt (shown at right) shows many meals and meetings with industry executives he regulates.

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Washington Post, U.S. will expel 15 Cuban diplomats, escalating tensions over mystery illnesses, Carol Morello, Oct. 3, 2017.  The decision comes days after the State Department ordered half of its staff out Havana and issued a travel warning to all Americans in response to months of unexplained injuries to American personnel.

GOP Hypocrisy on Abortion

Roll Call, Murphy Will Not Seek Re-Election Following Affair Revelations, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 4, 2017. Rep. Tim Murphy announced Wednesday that he would not seek re-election, following revelations that he urged a woman with whom he had an affair to get an abortion. The Pennsylvania Republican told a local CBS affiliate that he would not run for a ninth term in Congress. He said there was still work to be done and he would serve out the remainder of his term.

“In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing,” Murphy said. “I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.”

Murphy first admitted last month to having an affair with forensic psychologist Shannon Edwards. The affair came to light amid Edwards’ divorce proceedings.

But on Tuesday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported new details of text messages between Edwards and Murphy, in which Edwards referenced Murphy urging her to have an abortion. The Post-Gazette reported the discussion was referring to an “unfounded pregnancy scare.”

More Corruption Claims About Trump Tribe

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in July 4, 2017 via FacebookProPublica and the New Yorker, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged With Felony Fraud, Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, and  Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, WNYC, Oct. 4, 2017.New York prosecutors were preparing a case. Then the D.A. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor: Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz. This article is a collaboration between ProPublica, WNYC and The New Yorker and is not subject to our Creative Commons license. 

In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell.

Jared and Ivanka Trump

Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

 Kasowitz, who by then had been the elder Donald Trump’s attorney for a decade, is primarily a civil litigator with little experience in criminal matters. But in 2012, Kasowitz donated $25,000 to the reelection campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors.

marc kasowitz color portraitKasowitz (shown in a file photo at right) decided to bypass the lower level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.

New Revelations In Celebrity Pedophilia-Ponzi Scandals

Jeffrey Epstein sex offenderPalm Beach Post, Epstein paid three women $5.5 million to end underage-sex lawsuits, Jane Musgrave, Oct. 3, 2017. Ending years of speculation about how much Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein paid young women who claimed he used them as sex toys, court documents filed last week show he shelled out $5.5 million to settle lawsuits with three of more than two dozen teens who sued him.

Responding to requests from Epstein’s attorneys in a complex lawsuit that was spawned by the sex scandal, attorney Bradley Edwards said the politically-connected 64-year-old convicted sex offender paid more than $1 million to each of the three women Edwards represented.

Attorney Jack Scarola, who is representing Edwards, said his client was compelled to divulge the confidential settlements to answer questions posed by Epstein’s attorneys. “Brilliant move on their part,” he said.

Even if Epstein’s attorneys hadn’t opened the door, Scarola said the information would have likely come out. He says the information will help him undermine Epstein’s claims that Edwards “ginned up” the allegations to help his former law partner, imprisoned and disbarred Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein, perpetuate a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

 More Reprisals For Americans Who Critizicize Israel's Foreign Policies

 philip giraldiUnz Review via Information Clearinghouse, How I Got Fired, Philip Giraldi, Oct. 3, 2017. Exposing Jewish power in America has real consequences. Philip Giraldi (shown at left) is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Two weeks ago, I wrote for Unz.com an article entitled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” It sought to make several points concerning the consequences of Jewish political power vis-à-vis some aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

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It noted that some individual American Jews and organizations with close ties to Israel, whom I named and identified, are greatly disproportionately represented in the government, media, foundations, think tanks and lobbying that is part and parcel of the deliberations that lead to formulation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Inevitably, those policies are skewed to represent Israeli interests and do serious damage to genuine American equities in the region. This tilt should not necessarily surprise anyone who has been paying attention and was noted by Nathan Glazer, among others, as long ago as 1976.

The end result of Israel centric policymaking in Washington is to produce negotiators like Dennis Ross, who consistently supported Israeli positions in peace talks, so much so that he was referred to as “Israel’s lawyer.” This group of Israel advocates is as responsible as any other body in the United States for the deaths of thousands of Americans and literally millions of mostly Muslim foreigners in unnecessary wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has also turned the U.S. into an active accomplice in the brutal suppression of the Palestinians. That they have never expressed any remorse or regret and the fact that the deaths and suffering don’t seem to matter to them are clear indictments of the sheer inhumanity of the positions they embrace.

My article proved to be quite popular, particularly after former CIA officer Valerie Plame tweeted her approval of it and was viciously and repeatedly attacked, resulting in a string of abject apologies on her part.

With that in mind, I should have expected that there would be a move made to “silence” me. It came three days after my article appeared. The Editor of The American Conservative (TAC) magazine and website, where I have been a regular and highly rated contributor for nearly 15 years, called me and abruptly announced that even though my article had appeared on another site, it had been deemed unacceptable and TAC would have to sever its relationship with me. I called him a coward and he replied that he was not.

Three days later, another shoe dropped. I was supposed to speak at a panel discussion critical of Saudi Arabia on October 2nd. The organizer, the Frontiers of Freedom foundation, emailed me to say my services would no longer be required because “the conference will not be a success if we get sidetracked into debating, discussing, or defending the substance of your writings on Israel.”

Would I do something different if I were to write my article again today? Yes. I would have made clearer that I was not writing about all or most American Jews, many of whom are active in the peace movement.

Oct. 2

Mass Murder In Vegas

stephen paddock from eric paddock

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Washington Post, Gunman was a high-stakes gambler known for keeping to himself, William Wan, Sandhya Somashekhar, Aaron C. Davis and Barbara Liston, Oct. 2, 2017. ​Stunned family members said Stephen Paddock was quiet and rarely fired guns but often gambled in tens of thousands of dollars. “My brother is not like you and me," Eric Paddock said. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.”  

 ​Before he opened fire late Sunday, killing at least 58 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, gunman Stephen Paddock was living out his retirement as a high-stakes gambler in a quiet town outside Las Vegas.

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Washington Post, Attack may be first mass shooting using an automatic weapon in the U.S., Michael S. Rosenwald, Devlin Barrett and Alex Horton, Oct. 2, 2017. Police said the Las Vegas shooter had a cache of 17 mostly powerful firearms. One of the weapons apparently used was an AK-47 type rifle, with a stand to steady it for firing, according to people familiar with the case.

Roll Call, Las Vegas Shooting Reignites Gun Debate on Capitol Hill, Griffin Connolly, Oct. 2, 2017. Members offer prayers and condolences to victims and families, tributes to police and first responders. Democratic lawmakers Monday morning renewed their pleas for legislative action to restrict access to firearms after a gunman unleashed a storm of bullets on concert-goers on the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday night. At least 50 people were killed, officials said. Multiple media outlets have reported that more than 400 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment in what is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Chris Murphy

Sen. Chris Murphy (right) sent out a 12-word press release Monday morning: “It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something,” the Connecticut Democrat said. Murphy has been the most vociferous advocate for gun control in Congress since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

richard blumenthal portrait

His Democratic colleague from Connecticut, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (at left), expressed similar outrage on Monday at Congress's inability to pass gun control legislation. It has been little more than a year since deadly attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which had been the largest mass shooting in American history before Sunday’s events, Blumenthal noted in a statement.

“In the interim, thousands more have been lost to the daily, ruthless toll of gun violence. Still, Congress refuses to act,” he said. “I am more than frustrated, I am furious.”

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stephen paddock 2002 croppedWashington Post, At least 58 dead, more than 500 injured in Las Vegas shooting, Derek Hawkins, Travis M. Andrews, Brian Murphy and Mark Berman, Oct. 2, 2017.​ Gunman in a high-rise hotel on the Strip opened fire during a country music festival. In the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the sniper-style gunfire rained down from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on Sunday evening, police said.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64 (shown in a 2002 family photo), is believed to be a “lone wolf” and was killed after authorities confronted him on the 32nd floor of the hotel, police said. The carnage surpassed the death toll of 49 people slain when a gunman in Orlando, who later said he was inspired by the Islamic State, opened fire inside a crowded nightclub in June 2016.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Takes On All Comers, Believing Himself the Victor, Peter Baker, Oct. 2, 2017 (print edition). President Trump flew by helicopter Sunday afternoon to Jersey City to watch the Presidents Cup golf tournament, where he presented the trophy to the winner. In Mr. Trump’s mind, that is something he knows about: winning. In fact, he would argue, he was winning all weekend.

Never mind that opponents, independent analysts and even some of his own advisers winced at his latest outbursts. His view of politics is unlike that of any president in modern times. Where other occupants of the Oval Office might go out of their way to avoid public fights with hurricane victims, popular athletes or members of their own team, Mr. Trump relishes them. He thinks they make him look strong. His base cheers him on.

Global News

American Conservative, When Did Congress Vote to Aid the Saudis' Yemen War? Gareth Porter, Oct. 2, 2017. Lawmakers use War Powers Act to finally question legality of U.S. involvement. The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of House members last week to end the direct U.S. military role in the Saudi coalition war in Yemen guarantees that the House of Representatives will vote for the first time on the single most important element of U.S. involvement in the war—the refueling of Saudi coalition planes systematically bombing Yemeni civilian targets.In doing so, moreover, the bipartisan bill, H. Con. Res. 81, will provide a major test of Congressional will to uphold the War Powers Act of 1973, which reasserted a Congressional role in restraining presidential power to enter into wars without its approval in the wake of the Vietnam War debacle.

Jared Kushner Ivanka Trump July 4, 2017Palmer Report, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner private email scandal explodes, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2017. Apparently it wasn’t enough that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner each used their own private email account to conduct White House business, in violation of every protocol on the books. Ivanka and Jared also shared yet another mysterious private email account, which was used for White House business among other things, as the Trump administration’s private email scandal gets uglier – and more ironic – by the minute.

The email account in question belonged to the Kushner family business. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump both used that shared account on a regular basis for the kind of official business that the NSA had warned them to only conduct via government email accounts, according to a new Politico report. This makes for a far more complex, and much more sinister, private email scandal than had previously been known. Ivanka and Jared could have feigned ignorance in their use of their own respective personal email accounts. But there’s no explaining away why they are also using yet another private email account as well. This wasn’t incompetence; it was a strategy to hide something.

The White House is now turning over to investigators what it claims are all of the emails in question. But considering the routine dishonesty of Donald Trump’s White House, and how obvious it is that Jared and Ivanka were trying to hide something by using all these layers of private email accounts for government business, it can’t be assumed that all of the emails in question are actually being turned over.

Trump spent the entire election flat out lying about Hillary Clinton’s perfectly legal use of a private email server, for which she had been fully cleared by the FBI. Now it turns out Trump and his family are guilty of a sinister, and possibly illegal, private email scandal whose full depths are still unknown.

Oct. 1

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Washington Post, On SNL, Baldwin’s Trump tells Puerto Rico: ‘We have to take care of America first,’ Elahe Izadi, Oct. 1, 2017. "Saturday Night Live" opened its Sept. 30 show with a skit satirizing President Trump's handling of the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Alec Baldwin once again returned to play Trump in Saturday’s cold open, which referenced the series of tweets real-life President Trump sent earlier in the day criticizing Puerto Rican officials’ response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

In the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump returns from a golfing outing in Bedminster, N.J., to take a call from the mayor of San Juan. “I’m sure she wants to tell me what a great job I’m doing,” Trump tells Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant.

carmen yulin cruz hurricane nbc croppedShe does not. “I’m begging you. Puerto Rico needs your help,” says Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (shown in a file photo and portrayed by Melissa Villaseñor).

Trump responds, “Well, you should have paid your bills....Ma’am, I don’t know if you know this, but you are in an island, in the water. The ocean water, big ocean, with fishies and bubbles and turtles that bite,” Trump continues. “We want to help you, but we have to take care of America first.”

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North Korean flag Washington Post, Trump says Tillerson is ‘wasting his time’ trying to pursue negotiations with North Korea, David Nakamura, Oct. 1, 2017. On Twitter, the president undercut Tillerson's latest diplomatic efforts to decrease hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang.

 ny times logoNew York Times, S.I. Newhouse Jr., Publishing Icon Who Ran Condé Nast, Dies at 89, Jonathan Kandell, Oct. 1, 2017. S.I. Newhouse Jr., who as the owner of The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and other magazines wielded vast influence over American culture, fashion and social taste, died on Sunday at his home, a family spokesman said. He was 89.

Mr. Newhouse, known as Si, and his younger brother, Donald, inherited an impressive publishing empire from their father, Solomon I. (“Sam”) Newhouse, and built it into one of the largest privately held fortunes in the United States, with estimates of the family wealth running over $12 billion at the turn of the 21st century.

While Donald led the more profitable newspaper and cable television operations, Si took charge of the more glamorous magazine division.Much of that glamour was created under Si Newhouse’s direction. Though himself a shy man often painfully awkward in public, Mr. Newhouse hired some of the most charismatic magazine editors of the late 20th century, among them Tina Brown at Vanity Fair and Diana Vreeland and Anna Wintour at Vogue, and encouraged them to behave like the celebrities they extolled in his publications.

john kasichHuffington Post, John Kasich Hints That He May Need To Leave The GOP, Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Oct. 1, 2017. Ohio governor John Kasich (shown at right), a top Republican leader and former candidate for the party’s presidential nomination, on Sunday said the GOP may be on a trajectory to lose supporters like him.

“If the party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the party, period,” he told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” a few minutes after he noted that Americans seem more eager to hear from independent candidates than ever before. The governor’s comment came in response to a question about how Republicans should react to Alabama politician Roy Moore securing their party’s nomination for that state’s open Senate seat.

Global News

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Spanish flag wavingWashington Post, Chaotic and violent vote shows landslide support for Catalan independence, William Booth, Oct. 1, 2017. The Catalan government said 90 percent of ballots cast in the controversial referendum favored independence, a result sure to be challenged by the central government in Madrid as illegitimate and illegal.

October Update

Oct. 5

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iran flag mapWashington Post, Trump plans to take first step toward undoing Iran nuclear agreement, Anne Gearan and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 5, 2017. Under what is described as a tougher and more comprehensive approach, President Trump would open the door to modifying the landmark 2015 deal. But for now he won’t recommend the resumption of sanctions on Iran, said people familiar with aspects of his thinking.

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Washington Post, Analysis: Trump’s decision on Iran could cause major breach with allies, Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello​, Oct. 5, 2017. More than any other issue that has threatened transatlantic cohesion this year, decertifying Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal could start a chain of events that would sharply divide the United States from its closest traditional allies.

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Washington Post, As ACA enrollment nears, administration keeps cutting federal support of the law, Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 5, 2017. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to policies wanted by conservative states as part of a broader campaign to undermine the law, with Trump personally intervening to stop changes sought in Iowa.

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Washington Post, Treasury secretary’s military flights totaling $811,000 were legal but poorly justified, watchdog says, Lisa Rein, Oct. 5, 2017. In a review of nine requests for Steven Mnuchin to fly on government planes, the Treasury Department inspector general’s office found that Trump officials cut corners as they tried to justify the trips, as federal regulations require.

Unz Review, Books Banned by "Banned Books Week," Michael Hoffman, Oct. 5, 2017. Last week was the American Library Association’s annual “Banned Books Week,” the eponymous celebration of books forbidden by censors and pressure groups in the United States. While the event purports to focus on books deemed too dangerous for impressionable minds, the daring entries showcased this year include Huckleberry Finn and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Oct. 4

ny times logoNew York Times, Kennedy Seems Open to Court Limits on Gerrymandering, Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, Oct. 4, 2017 (print edition). There was reason to think Justice Anthony M. Kennedy may be ready to join the Supreme Court’s more liberal members in a groundbreaking decision that could reshape American democracy.

anthony kennedy oAfter spirited Supreme Court arguments on Tuesday, there was reason to think Justice Kennedy may be ready to join the court’s more liberal members in a groundbreaking decision that could reshape American democracy by letting courts determine when lawmakers have gone too far. Justice Kennedy (shown at right) asked skeptical questions of lawyers defending a Wisconsin legislative map that gave Republicans many more seats in the State Assembly than their statewide vote tallies would have predicted. He asked no questions of the lawyer representing the Democratic voters challenging the map.

samuel alitoThere was something like consensus among the justices that voting maps drawn by politicians to give advantage to their parties are an unattractive feature of American democracy.

But the justices appeared split about whether the court could find a standard for determining when the practice was unconstitutional. “Gerrymandering is distasteful,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. (shown at left), “but if we are going to impose a standard on the courts, it has to be something that’s manageable.”

Inside Washington

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NBC News, Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Pence, Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle and Dafna Linzer, Oct. 4, 2017.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.

state dept map logo SmallThe tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.

Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

While it's unclear if he was aware of the incident, Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year, officials said.

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Washington Post, Tillerson vows to stay on amid signs of tension with Trump: ‘I have never considered leaving this post,’ Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, Oct. 4, 2017. In an extraordinary and hastily called news conference at the State Department, the secretary of state did not directly address a report that he had referred to the president as a "moron."

 ny times logoiran flag mapNew York Times, Mattis Contradicts Trump on Iran Deal Ahead of Deadline, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and David E. Sanger, Oct. 4, 2017 (print edition). Pressed by lawmakers, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated his view that the Iran accord is working, a quiet break with President Trump.

James Mattis Days before President Trump has to make a critical decision on whether to hold up the Iran nuclear deal, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (shown at left) openly split with him on abandoning the agreement, the second senior member of the president’s national security team to recently contradict him. Mr. Mattis told senators on Tuesday that it was in America’s interest to stick with the deal, which Mr. Trump has often dismissed as a “disaster.”

Las Vegas Massacre Follow-ups

stephen paddock shooting scene

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Shooting Could Change Police Tactics, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Oct. 4, 2017. Specialists in police training expect greater focus on the threat posed by high-rise or long-distance snipers.

marilou danley headshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Girlfriend of Casino Gunman Returns to U.S., Ellen Gabler and Conor Dougherty, Oct. 4, 2017. In the search for a motive, some clues may be known only to Marilou Danley (shown in a file photo), who was met by federal agents in Los Angeles.

Capitol Hill Bill Urges Trump To Release JFK Assassination Documents

Roll Call, Lawmakers Push Trump to Release JFK Assassination Files, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 4, 2017. Bipartisan group introduce resolutions ahead of October deadline Senior lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to allow the release of remaining government records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Resolutions introduced in the House and Senate would call on the president to allow release of documents held by the National Archives and Records Administration, and for the Archives to work to meet a statutory deadline that arrives later in October.

The deadline occurs because it will be the 25th anniversary of the signing of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act.

chuck grassley officialThe leaders of the Senate resolution are Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who is a former chairman of the committee.

“The assassination of President Kennedy was one of the most shocking and tragic events in our nation’s history,” Leahy said in a statement. “Americans have the right to know what our government knows. Transparency is crucial for our country to fully reckon with this national tragedy, and that is the purpose of these resolutions.” Grassley expressed a similar sentiment in his statement.

Oct. 3Stephen Paddock Rooms at Mandalay Hotel

Broken windows show exterior Las Vegas shooter Stephen Mandalay's suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel

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Washington Post, Investigators find arsenal fit for a commando team in retiree’s hotel room, Lynh Bui, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 3, 2017. Hospitals remained full in Las Vegas with hundreds injured, some in critical condition, while authorities tried to grasp what caused a 64-year-old retiree, Stephen Peacock (shown in a 2002 photo) to turn a concert into a killing field, leaving at least 59 people dead and hundreds injured.

New York Post, Jimmy Kimmel tearfully rips into politicians in wake of Vegas shoooting, Lisa de Moraes, Oct. 3, 2017. Jimmy Kimmel excoriated politicians who sent love to the families of Las Vegas shooting victims, but who won’t pass legislation to curb mass shootings in this country. “Here we are again, in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicably shocking and painful tragedy,” Kimmel began Monday night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” noting that Las Vegas is his hometown.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If Only Stephen Paddock Were a Muslim, Thomas L. Friedman, Oct. 3, 2017. If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS.

If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies.

No, no, no. Then we know what we’d be doing. We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them. Then there would be immediate calls for a commission of inquiry to see what new laws we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then we’d be “weighing all options” against the country of origin.

 Trump In Puerto Rico

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Washington Post, Trump says Puerto Rico officials should be ‘proud’ more haven’t died like in Katrina, Ashley Parker, Oct. 3, 2017. The president’s remarks came as he touched down in San Juan amid harsh criticism of the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria.

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Washington Post,  A cry from Puerto Rico: ‘In my life, I have never seen anything so mismanaged,’ Steven Mufson, Oct. 3, 2017. A factory owner on the island recounts a week of debris, flooding, damaged rooftops and frustration.

Huffington Post, Trump Visits Puerto Rico After Insult Tweets, Tells Officials Hurricane Threw Budget ‘Out Of Whack,’ Willa Frej and Marina Fang, Oct. 3, 2017. President Donald Trump landed on Puerto Rico on Tuesday, almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island and left many of its 3.4 million residents without power, water or food.

At his first stop, a briefing with federal and local officials, Trump lavishly praised them. He then repeatedly turned to individuals around the table and invited them to offer their own praise — while insisting, “It’s not about me.”

He told officials that they should be “very proud” of their response after asking them for their “death count” from the storm, and appeared to joke about the cost of the storm damage. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said.Tensions are high after the president ripped into local officials for criticizing his administration’s storm response.

Inside Washington

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Washington Post, Fancy dinners, far-flung speeches: Calendars detail EPA chief’s close ties to industry, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 3, 2017. A detailed schedule for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt (shown at right) shows many meals and meetings with industry executives he regulates.

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Washington Post, U.S. will expel 15 Cuban diplomats, escalating tensions over mystery illnesses, Carol Morello, Oct. 3, 2017.  The decision comes days after the State Department ordered half of its staff out Havana and issued a travel warning to all Americans in response to months of unexplained injuries to American personnel.

GOP Hypocrisy on Abortion

Roll Call, Murphy Will Not Seek Re-Election Following Affair Revelations, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 4, 2017. Rep. Tim Murphy announced Wednesday that he would not seek re-election, following revelations that he urged a woman with whom he had an affair to get an abortion. The Pennsylvania Republican told a local CBS affiliate that he would not run for a ninth term in Congress. He said there was still work to be done and he would serve out the remainder of his term.

“In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing,” Murphy said. “I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.”

Murphy first admitted last month to having an affair with forensic psychologist Shannon Edwards. The affair came to light amid Edwards’ divorce proceedings.

But on Tuesday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported new details of text messages between Edwards and Murphy, in which Edwards referenced Murphy urging her to have an abortion. The Post-Gazette reported the discussion was referring to an “unfounded pregnancy scare.”

More Corruption Claims About Trump Tribe

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in July 4, 2017 via FacebookProPublica, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged With Felony Fraud, Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, and  Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, WNYC, Oct. 4, 2017.New York prosecutors were preparing a case. Then the D.A. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor: Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz. This article is a collaboration between ProPublica, WNYC and The New Yorker and is not subject to our Creative Commons license. 

In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell.

Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

Cyrus Vance Jr. Kasowitz, who by then had been the elder Donald Trump’s attorney for a decade, is primarily a civil litigator with little experience in criminal matters. But in 2012, Kasowitz donated $25,000 to the reelection campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (shown at right), making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors. Kasowitz decided to bypass the lower level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.

New Revelations In Celebrity Pedophilia-Ponzi Scandals

Jeffrey Epstein sex offenderPalm Beach Post, Epstein paid three women $5.5 million to end underage-sex lawsuits, Jane Musgrave, Oct. 3, 2017. Ending years of speculation about how much Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein paid young women who claimed he used them as sex toys, court documents filed last week show he shelled out $5.5 million to settle lawsuits with three of more than two dozen teens who sued him.

Responding to requests from Epstein’s attorneys in a complex lawsuit that was spawned by the sex scandal, attorney Bradley Edwards said the politically-connected 64-year-old convicted sex offender paid more than $1 million to each of the three women Edwards represented.

Attorney Jack Scarola, who is representing Edwards, said his client was compelled to divulge the confidential settlements to answer questions posed by Epstein’s attorneys. “Brilliant move on their part,” he said.

Even if Epstein’s attorneys hadn’t opened the door, Scarola said the information would have likely come out. He says the information will help him undermine Epstein’s claims that Edwards “ginned up” the allegations to help his former law partner, imprisoned and disbarred Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein, perpetuate a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

Saudi-Led Coalition Named For Child-Killing

Reuters, Draft U.N. blacklist names Saudi coalition for killing children in Yemen, Michelle Nichols, Oct. 3, 2017A confidential draft United Nations blacklist seen by Reuters on Tuesday names a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for killing and maiming children in Yemen, though it notes that the alliance has put in place measures to improve child protection.

In an effort to dampen controversy surrounding the annual children and armed conflict report, the draft blacklist - contained in an annex to the full report - is split into “listed parties that have put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children” and those which have not.

“In Yemen, the coalition’s actions objectively led to the listing for the killing and maiming of children, with 683 child casualties attributed to this party, and, as a result of being responsible for 38 verified incidents, for attacks on schools and hospitals during 2016,” according to a draft explanation of the blacklist seen by Reuters.

Oct. 2

Mass Murder In Vegas

stephen paddock from eric paddock

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Washington Post, Gunman was a high-stakes gambler known for keeping to himself, William Wan, Sandhya Somashekhar, Aaron C. Davis and Barbara Liston, Oct. 2, 2017. ​Stunned family members said Stephen Paddock was quiet and rarely fired guns but often gambled in tens of thousands of dollars. “My brother is not like you and me," Eric Paddock said. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.”  

 ​Before he opened fire late Sunday, killing at least 58 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, gunman Stephen Paddock was living out his retirement as a high-stakes gambler in a quiet town outside Las Vegas.

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Washington Post, Attack may be first mass shooting using an automatic weapon in the U.S., Michael S. Rosenwald, Devlin Barrett and Alex Horton, Oct. 2, 2017. Police said the Las Vegas shooter had a cache of 17 mostly powerful firearms. One of the weapons apparently used was an AK-47 type rifle, with a stand to steady it for firing, according to people familiar with the case.

Roll Call, Las Vegas Shooting Reignites Gun Debate on Capitol Hill, Griffin Connolly, Oct. 2, 2017. Members offer prayers and condolences to victims and families, tributes to police and first responders. Democratic lawmakers Monday morning renewed their pleas for legislative action to restrict access to firearms after a gunman unleashed a storm of bullets on concert-goers on the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday night. At least 50 people were killed, officials said. Multiple media outlets have reported that more than 400 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment in what is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Chris Murphy

Sen. Chris Murphy (right) sent out a 12-word press release Monday morning: “It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something,” the Connecticut Democrat said. Murphy has been the most vociferous advocate for gun control in Congress since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  richard blumenthal portrait

His Democratic colleague from Connecticut, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (at left), expressed similar outrage on Monday at Congress's inability to pass gun control legislation. It has been little more than a year since deadly attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which had been the largest mass shooting in American history before Sunday’s events, Blumenthal noted in a statement.

“In the interim, thousands more have been lost to the daily, ruthless toll of gun violence. Still, Congress refuses to act,” he said. “I am more than frustrated, I am furious.”

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stephen paddock 2002 croppedWashington Post, At least 58 dead, more than 500 injured in Las Vegas shooting, Derek Hawkins, Travis M. Andrews, Brian Murphy and Mark Berman, Oct. 2, 2017.​ Gunman in a high-rise hotel on the Strip opened fire during a country music festival. In the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the sniper-style gunfire rained down from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on Sunday evening, police said.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64 (shown in a 2002 family photo), is believed to be a “lone wolf” and was killed after authorities confronted him on the 32nd floor of the hotel, police said. The carnage surpassed the death toll of 49 people slain when a gunman in Orlando, who later said he was inspired by the Islamic State, opened fire inside a crowded nightclub in June 2016.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Takes On All Comers, Believing Himself the Victor, Peter Baker, Oct. 2, 2017 (print edition). President Trump flew by helicopter Sunday afternoon to Jersey City to watch the Presidents Cup golf tournament, where he presented the trophy to the winner. In Mr. Trump’s mind, that is something he knows about: winning. In fact, he would argue, he was winning all weekend.

Never mind that opponents, independent analysts and even some of his own advisers winced at his latest outbursts. His view of politics is unlike that of any president in modern times. Where other occupants of the Oval Office might go out of their way to avoid public fights with hurricane victims, popular athletes or members of their own team, Mr. Trump relishes them. He thinks they make him look strong. His base cheers him on.

Global News

gareth porter trnn screenshotAmerican Conservative, When Did Congress Vote to Aid the Saudis' Yemen War? Gareth Porter (shown in file photo), Oct. 2, 2017. Lawmakers use War Powers Act to finally question legality of U.S. involvement. The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of House members last week to end the direct U.S. military role in the Saudi coalition war in Yemen guarantees that the House of Representatives will vote for the first time on the single most important element of U.S. involvement in the war—the refueling of Saudi coalition planes systematically bombing Yemeni civilian targets.In doing so, moreover, the bipartisan bill, H. Con. Res. 81, will provide a major test of Congressional will to uphold the War Powers Act of 1973, which reasserted a Congressional role in restraining presidential power to enter into wars without its approval in the wake of the Vietnam War debacle.

Jared Kushner Ivanka Trump July 4, 2017Palmer Report, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner private email scandal explodes, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2017. Apparently it wasn’t enough that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner each used their own private email account to conduct White House business, in violation of every protocol on the books. Ivanka and Jared also shared yet another mysterious private email account, which was used for White House business among other things, as the Trump administration’s private email scandal gets uglier – and more ironic – by the minute.

The email account in question belonged to the Kushner family business. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump both used that shared account on a regular basis for the kind of official business that the NSA had warned them to only conduct via government email accounts, according to a new Politico report. This makes for a far more complex, and much more sinister, private email scandal than had previously been known. Ivanka and Jared could have feigned ignorance in their use of their own respective personal email accounts. But there’s no explaining away why they are also using yet another private email account as well. This wasn’t incompetence; it was a strategy to hide something.

Donald Trump

The White House is now turning over to investigators what it claims are all of the emails in question. But considering the routine dishonesty of Donald Trump’s White House, and how obvious it is that Jared and Ivanka were trying to hide something by using all these layers of private email accounts for government business, it can’t be assumed that all of the emails in question are actually being turned over.

Trump spent the entire election flat out lying about Hillary Clinton’s perfectly legal use of a private email server, for which she had been fully cleared by the FBI. Now it turns out Trump and his family are guilty of a sinister, and possibly illegal, private email scandal whose full depths are still unknown.

Oct. 1

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Washington Post, On SNL, Baldwin’s Trump tells Puerto Rico: ‘We have to take care of America first,’ Elahe Izadi, Oct. 1, 2017. "Saturday Night Live" opened its Sept. 30 show with a skit satirizing President Trump's handling of the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Alec Baldwin once again returned to play Trump in Saturday’s cold open, which referenced the series of tweets real-life President Trump sent earlier in the day criticizing Puerto Rican officials’ response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

In the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump returns from a golfing outing in Bedminster, N.J., to take a call from the mayor of San Juan. “I’m sure she wants to tell me what a great job I’m doing,” Trump tells Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant.

carmen yulin cruz hurricane nbc croppedShe does not. “I’m begging you. Puerto Rico needs your help,” says Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (shown in a file photo and portrayed by Melissa Villaseñor).

Trump responds, “Well, you should have paid your bills....Ma’am, I don’t know if you know this, but you are in an island, in the water. The ocean water, big ocean, with fishies and bubbles and turtles that bite,” Trump continues. “We want to help you, but we have to take care of America first.”

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North Korean flag Washington Post, Trump says Tillerson is ‘wasting his time’ trying to pursue negotiations with North Korea, David Nakamura, Oct. 1, 2017. On Twitter, the president undercut Tillerson's latest diplomatic efforts to decrease hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang.

 ny times logoNew York Times, S.I. Newhouse Jr., Publishing Icon Who Ran Condé Nast, Dies at 89, Jonathan Kandell, Oct. 1, 2017. S.I. Newhouse Jr., who as the owner of The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and other magazines wielded vast influence over American culture, fashion and social taste, died on Sunday at his home, a family spokesman said. He was 89.

Mr. Newhouse, known as Si, and his younger brother, Donald, inherited an impressive publishing empire from their father, Solomon I. (“Sam”) Newhouse, and built it into one of the largest privately held fortunes in the United States, with estimates of the family wealth running over $12 billion at the turn of the 21st century.

While Donald led the more profitable newspaper and cable television operations, Si took charge of the more glamorous magazine division.Much of that glamour was created under Si Newhouse’s direction. Though himself a shy man often painfully awkward in public, Mr. Newhouse hired some of the most charismatic magazine editors of the late 20th century, among them Tina Brown at Vanity Fair and Diana Vreeland and Anna Wintour at Vogue, and encouraged them to behave like the celebrities they extolled in his publications.

john kasichHuffington Post, John Kasich Hints That He May Need To Leave The GOP, Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Oct. 1, 2017. Ohio governor John Kasich (shown at right), a top Republican leader and former candidate for the party’s presidential nomination, on Sunday said the GOP may be on a trajectory to lose supporters like him.

“If the party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the party, period,” he told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” a few minutes after he noted that Americans seem more eager to hear from independent candidates than ever before. The governor’s comment came in response to a question about how Republicans should react to Alabama politician Roy Moore securing their party’s nomination for that state’s open Senate seat.

Global News

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Spanish flag wavingWashington Post, Chaotic and violent vote shows landslide support for Catalan independence, William Booth, Oct. 1, 2017. The Catalan government said 90 percent of ballots cast in the controversial referendum favored independence, a result sure to be challenged by the central government in Madrid as illegitimate and illegal.