November 2017 News Reports

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

Nov. 16

irs logoWashington Post, Senate bill would cut taxes for millionaires but hike them for the poor, working class, report shows, Heather Long​, Nov. 16, 2017. President Trump and GOP lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for working Americans, but a report released by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress's official analysts, casts serious doubt on that claim.

U.S. Senate Corruption Case Mistrial

Roll Call, Judge Declares Mistrial in Menendez Case, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 16, 2017. A federal judge is declaring a mistrial in the federal corruption case against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, after a New Jersey jury was declared hopelessly deadlocked on all counts. The mistrial leaves prosecutors to explore their options over Thanksgiving, and brings an unresolved conclusion to a trial that went on weeks longer than anticipated.

Robert MenendezMenendez (shown at right) had faced 18 counts of charges relating to public corruption, including honest services fraud after being alleged to have accepted bribes in the forms of gifts from South Florida opthamologist Dr. Salomon Melgen. Melgen, who was tried in the case, was convicted by the same jury.

All told, prosecutors alleged that more than $700,000 in campaign contributions, as well as other personal presents like vacations and flights on Melgen’s private jet, were part of a scheme to get the senator to provide inappropriate favors and assistance to Melgen, including help with the Department of Health and Human Services over Medicare billing issues. A separate jury in Florida convicted Melgen on 67 counts related to his Medicare scheme earlier this year. He already faced 15 to 20 years in prison on those convictions.

Moore on Moore In Alabama

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Roy Moore New York Times, Four Women Accuse Moore as Campaign Pushes Back, Alan Blinder, Nov. 16, 2017 (print edition).  At a news conference, a lawyer for the Senate nominee Roy S. Moore suggested that a purported yearbook message to one of his accusers may have been a forgery.

Weinstein Sex Harassment Scandal Broadens To Law Firm/Private Eye

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harvey weinsteinNew York Times, Deception and Ruses Fill the Toolkit of Weinstein’s Agents, Matthew Goldstein and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 16, 2017 (print edition). Black Cube, an investigative firm hired to ferret out information about one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, used an elaborate ruse involving a fake job interview in another case. (Weinstein is shown in a file photo.)

Until 10 days ago, Black Cube, a private investigation firm established in 2010 by former intelligence analysts from the Israeli Defense Forces, was largely unknown in the United States. Many lawyers said they had never heard of the firm, which is not licensed in New York.

But Black Cube was thrust into the spotlight last week when The New Yorker revealed that the producer Harvey Weinstein had hired the firm to look into the background of the actress Rose McGowan, who was writing a book about her experiences with him, including a claim that he had sexually assaulted her.

David BoiesLaw firms routinely use private investigators to collect information to help them argue civil and criminal cases in and out of court. These investigators sometimes use deception and elaborate ruses to root out secrets or private information. Black Cube’s work for Mr. Weinstein, and the cinematic scenarios it created with its fabricated job interviews in London, provides a rare look at the lengths some firms will go to, using tradecraft that pushes the boundaries.

The contract under which Black Cube worked for Mr. Weinstein — signed in July by his lawyer David Boies (shown above right) — provided for deceptive techniques that included the hiring of “an investigative journalist” who was to conduct 40 interviews over four months as part of a scheme intended, in part, to block the publication of a New York Times article about Mr. Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct.

Radio Host Claims Harassment Against Minnesota Senator

 

al frankenRoll Call, Ethics Committee Should Review Franken Allegations, McConnell Says, Niels Lesniewski, Nov 16, 2017. LA radio host accuses Franken of sexual misconduct. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Al Franken.

“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement to Roll Call. “I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”

A Los Angeles morning radio news host accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her in an open letter on her station’s website.

Washington Post, Broadcaster says Al Franken ‘kissed and groped me without my consent’ at 2006 USO event, J. Freedom du Lac, Lindsey Bever and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Nov. 16, 2017. In a story for a Los Angeles radio station, Leeann Tweeden included a photo of Franken posing with his hands over her chest while she slept. Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, apologized. ​

 

Global News: Africa

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Zimbabwe flag mapNew York Times, With Mugabe’s Era Ending in Zimbabwe, a Warning Echoes in Africa, Norimitsu Onishi and Alan Cowell, Nov. 16, 2017 (print edition). When Zimbabwe’s generals moved against President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday, their action foreshadowed the potential end of more than just one political career. It echoed across a continent where the notion of the “big man” leader is defined equally by the lure of power in perpetuity and the risk that, one day, the edifice will crumble under the weight of its own decay.

Robert Mugabe 2015Mr. Mugabe, 93 (shown at left in 2015), who took power upon independence from Britain in 1980, is the only leader Zimbabwe (shown above as a flag imposed on its map) has known. He has suppressed perceived threats to his dominance, often brutally, and maneuvered with guile to outflank his rivals. Decades after the furling of Britain’s union flag, he waved his liberation credentials with such skill and frequency that he stood as an emblem, however flawed, of Africa’s yearning to be free of outside control.

Viewing himself as Africa’s true statesman, Mr. Mugabe, even in his 90s, flew regularly to diplomatic gatherings on the continent, including mundane ones in which he was sometimes the only head of state present. Though he is despised in the West and by many Zimbabweans, many Africans view him as a living, historic figure, inspiring diplomats and officials to stand and applaud his speeches criticizing Western powers.

In the end, though, his deft touch deserted him as he weighed the question looming over the end of his regime: who would succeed him. By favoring his polarizing and politically inexperienced wife over his powerful vice president, whom he fired last week, Mr. Mugabe overestimated the loyalty of the military and security elite who took him into custody early Wednesday in what appeared to be a coup.

Nov. 15

Oliver Stone Assesses JFK Disclosures

oliver stone portraitThe Wrap, Oliver Stone on Release of JFK Assassination Files: ‘Trump Got Rolled’ by ‘Deep State,’ Oliver Stone, Nov. 15, 2017. “As with everything else in the ‘Deep State,’ the Chief Priests told him, ‘You can’t do that,'” the filmmaker writes. I’ve been wrestling with how to deal with my response to these newly released files on the JFK assassination. Many people have asked me about my reaction to this release, and I’ve gleaned what I can from a very complicated release.

1. Trump got rolled. I think he truly wanted a release of all files, but as with everything else in the “Deep State,” the Chief Priests told him, “You can’t do that” and cited as cause “national security,” etc.; the et cetera going back to 1963.

2. The release was designed to be a mess. The rollout of deleted/undeleted/no longer redacted, and often illegible materials is meant to assure us that “you see, there’s nothing here.”

3. But some “stuff” has come to the surface like scum on a pond; the CIA/Angleton/Oswald file clearly goes back to 1959, and [former CIA head of counterintelligence James] Angleton clearly had a special interest in Oswald.Jeff Morley, who’s written a new biography of Angleton (“The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton,” St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and also works as the editor of JFK Facts, explains Oswald as a “marked card” in the game, i.e. a soldier/pawn to be used as needed, which, to my mind, very well fits the Oswald profile. (See full article for the rest of his seven points and conclusion.)

More on Moore in Alabama

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Washington Post, Two more women describe unwanted overtures by Roy Moore at Ala. mall, Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites​, Nov. 15, 2017. Women who worked at the Gadsden Mall in the late 1970s said the visits from Moore, now a Senate candidate, caused young women in one store to “draw straws” to decide who would deal with him and another to hide when he came into the Sears store where she worked

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Washington Post, Senate Republicans look to Trump to restore order amid Alabama upheaval, Sean Sullivan, Philip Rucker and David Weigel, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition).  After days of forcefully repudiating Roy Moore and urging him to withdraw to no avail, Senate Republican leaders increasingly see the president as the key to restoring some order to a race that has spiraled out of their control. See also: Washington Post, Kayla Moore emerges as her husband’s fiercest and most vocal defender.

Inside DC

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Washington Post, GOP tax plan in trouble after key Republican senator says he won’t back it, Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition). Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he will not support the emerging GOP tax plan because it disproportionately benefits corporations at the expense of other businesses, a stance that signals major trouble for party leaders.Washington Post,

Courts, Crime: Political Prosecution In Missouri, Part II

Paul B. Weeks and sonLegal Schnauzer, The political prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks: How can you be charged with securities fraud when the transaction in question did not involve a security? Roger Shuler, Nov. 15, 2017. How weak is the securities fraud case against Missouri attorney and whistle blower Paul Benton Weeks? Well, the underlying transaction apparently did not involve a "security." And even if it did, prosecutors brought the case way past the statute of limitations.

If that sounds familiar to Legal Schnauzer readers, that's because it is reminiscent of the Don Siegelman case. In that fiasco, there was no evidence of an explicit quid pro quo ("something for something" deal), which is the central element in a federal funds bribery case -- and Judge Mark Fuller did not even give the jury an instruction that required an explicit quid pro quo. That's why we've written so many times that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were convicted of a crime that doesn't exist. To make matters even more outrageous, federal prosecutors brought the case almost one full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired.

So, it's ironic that Weeks (showin in a portrait with his son) -- whose searing affidavit helped undress  Fuller as a government-sponsored con artist -- is facing the kind of slipshod prosecution that Siegelman had to confront.

As an initial matter, you would expect a "securities fraud" case to involve a "security." But, in Missouri, you would be wrong -- especially if your name is Paul Weeks and you've made it a habit to  shine light on government and court-related abuses.

Election Suspicions In Virginia

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Washington Post,  All at once, dozens of ballots arrived hours too late in tight Va. House race, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition).  They needed to arrive by the time polls closed in order to be counted in a tight delegate race that could decide whether Republicans hang on to power. Stafford County’s registrar, whose office checked with the post office hourly, thought something had gone wrong when 55 landed at once.

Inside Washington

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Washington Post, ‘It’s grotesque’: Justice Dept. veterans recoil at idea of another special counsel, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 15, 2017 (print edition). Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s public suggestion of a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton has alarmed current and former Justice officials who fear it would further politicize the agency. “I think the vast majority of people at DOJ would be completely disgusted and demoralized by it,” one former deputy special counsel said.

Moore on Moore Alabama Scandal

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fox news logo SmallWashington Post, Even Sean Hannity has had it with Roy Moore, gives candidate 24 hours to explain ‘inconsistencies,’ Samantha Schmidt, Nov. 15, 2017. Fox News host Sean Hannity has given up defending Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, telling viewers Tuesday night the judge has “24 hours” to explain conflicting answers to the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Roy Moore 38 special“You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies,” Hannity said. “You must remove any doubt. If he can’t do this, then Judge Moore (shown at left in a campaign speech) needs to get out of this race.”

Hannity’s escalated remarks came days after critics bashed the conservative host for appearing to defend Moore and suggesting that the accusations against him might be false. The wave of criticism prompted coffeemaker company Keurig and other sponsors to say they would no longer be advertising on Hannity’s Fox News show.

Crime and Cops: Around the Nation

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Washington Post, 4 dead after gunman ‘randomly picking targets’ shoots at California elementary school, other locations, Mark Berman, Susan Svrluga and Ellie Silverman, Nov. 15, 2017. Police did not immediately identify a motive for the attack, though they said it was apparently preceded by a dispute the shooter, who was identified as Kevin Neal, had with a neighbor.

Contracting Scandal After Puerto Rican Disaster?

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Washington Post, Puerto Rico’s bankrupt utility agreed to pay Whitefish Energy double what linemen make, documents show, Aaron C. Davis and Steven Mufson, Nov. 15, 2017(print edition). As blackout continues, U.S. territory is continuing to pay millions to a tiny Montana firm.

Opinion

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dana milbank CustomWashington Post, Donald Trump Jr.’s incredible history of dumb decisions, Dana Milbank (right), Nov. 15, 2017(print edition). With all the documentation of Russian collusion piling up, President Trump’s best excuse may be that his people were too incompetent to organize a conspiracy. Luckily for him, an innocent-by-reason-of-stupidity defense has the virtue of being plausible. For example, there is clear and compelling evidence that Donald Trump Jr. is dumb as a post.

Nov. 14

Justice Department Controversies

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New York Times, Justice Dept. to Weigh Inquiry Into Clinton Foundation, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 14, 2017 (print edition).  Officials are looking into whether a special counsel should investigate reports of misconduct at the foundation, as well as the Obama administration’s uranium deal with Russia.It raises questions about whether President Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the investigation into his presidential campaign.

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Hillary and billNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Shatters Longstanding Norms by Pressing for Clinton Investigation, Peter Baker, Nov. 14, 2017. President Trump did not need to send a memo or telephone his attorney general to make his desires known. He broadcast them for all the world to see on Twitter. The instruction was clear: The Justice Department should investigate his defeated opponent from last year’s campaign. (Bill and Hillary Clinton are shown often reproduced by right-wing activists to portray the Clinton Foundation as a sinister organization.)

However they were delivered, Mr. Trump’s demands have ricocheted through the halls of the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now ordered career prosecutors to evaluate various accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate her.

jeff sessions ag oMr. Sessions (shown at right) has made no decision, and in soliciting the assessment of department lawyers, he may be seeking a way out of the bind his boss has put him in by effectively putting the matter in the hands of professionals who were not politically appointed. But if he or his deputy authorizes a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter norms established after Watergate that are intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals.

The request alone was enough to trigger a political backlash, as critics of Mr. Trump quickly decried what they called “banana republic” politics of retribution, akin to autocratic backwater nations where election losers are jailed by winners. The issue will almost certainly energize what was already shaping up to be a contentious hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning, when Mr. Sessions is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

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New York Times, Sessions Is in Hot Seat Today About Russian Contacts, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 14, 2017. Nov. 14, 2017. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is almost certain to be asked to clarify his past statements in light of disclosures that members of the Trump campaign had contacts with Russia. He will testify at 10 a.m. Eastern before the House Judiciary Committee.

logan melgar navy seal CustomStaff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, an Army Green Beret, was strangled in the Malian capital, Bamako. Credit U.S. Army

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New York Times, Navy SEALs Investigated in Green Beret’s Death Also Under Scrutiny in Theft, John Ismay, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons, Nov. 14, 2017 (print edition). Two Navy SEAL commandos under investigation in the strangling of an Army Green Beret soldier in June in Mali have also been under scrutiny in the theft of money from a fund used to pay confidential informants, according to three service members briefed on the matter.

One Navy official said that military authorities investigated the allegations this year and concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any criminal or other disciplinary action against the commandos, who are members of the elite SEAL Team 6. But another former member of the unit said the inquiry was continuing.

The revelations may shed light on a possible motive in the death of Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a 34-year-old veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, in the embassy housing he shared in the Malian capital, Bamako, with the two Navy commandos, who were on a secret counterterrorism mission in the impoverished West African nation.

Sergeant Melgar’s killing is the latest violent death under mysterious circumstances for American troops on little-known missions in that region of Africa. Four American soldiers were killed in an ambush last month in neighboring Niger while conducting what was initially described as a reconnaissance patrol but was later changed to supporting a much more dangerous counterterrorism mission against Islamic militants in the area.

Inside Washington

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Washington Post, Senate GOP to add repeal of Obamacare insurance mandate into tax bill, Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta, Nov. 14, 2017.  Senate Republican leaders will include a major change to their fast-moving tax cut bill that would repeal a key plank of the Affordable Care Act, trying to accomplish two of their top domestic priorities in one piece of legislation.

Roll Call, Current Lawmakers Have Sexually Harassed Staffers, Speier Alleges, Erin Bacon, Nov. 14, 2017. Comstock tells of lawmaker who greeted a former staffer wearing only a towel Two current lawmakers allegedly have sexually harassed congressional staff in the past. And a former staffer reportedly asked to deliver papers to a member’s home was greeted by him wearing only a towel.

That’s what California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier and Republican Barbara Comstock of Virginia recounted during a hearing by the House Administration Committee on sexual harassment Tuesday.

Such allegations are rare. Members of Congress seldom criticize colleagues for misconduct, especially when the allegation is sexual harassment. Speier and Comstock’s accounts are among dozens detailing a hostile and predatory environment for female staffers that have emerged after accusations targeting Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein seemingly broke through a conspiracy of silence pervasive in many of the nation’s most respected and influential institutions.

Accusations involving current and former members of Congress and staff have reinvigorated efforts to provide more protections for victims on the Hill. But so far, no prominent lawmakers have been named.

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Washington Post, That judicial nominee who’s never tried a case also failed to disclose that his wife works for the White House, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 14, 2017 (print edition). In a Senate questionnaire designed to identify potential conflicts of interest, Brett J. Talley did not mention that he is married to Annie Donaldson, chief of staff for White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II.

More on Moore, Alabama Corruption

Beverly Young Nelson with her attorney Gloria Allred at press conference on Nov. 13, 2017

Beverly Young Nelson, center, with her attorney Gloria Allred at press conference on Nov. 13, 2017

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Beverly Young Nelson's statements unmask Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions, and Mitch McConnell as a GOP version of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, Roger Shuler, Nov. 14, 2017. Yesterday's revelations that a fifth Alabama woman had come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore go way beyond groping, a forced attempt at oral sex, and other disgusting acts. The statements from Beverly Young Nelson shine a white hot light on the moral rot at the center of the postmodern GOP. Nelson added to the mountain of evidence that the "conservative movement" is filled with rogues -- Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, to name a few -- who are a political version of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players."

Nelson's words about a 1977 encounter with Moore outside the Old Hickory House restaurant went way beyond the statements of earlier accusers. Before yesterday, Moore had been depicted as a creepy guy who approached under-aged girls at a courthouse or a mall and wound up making inappropriate physical contact with them. Nelson, on the other hand, described a sexual assault.

 Evidence is mounting that Moore has engaged in sins of the flesh. But his greatest sin might be arrogance. Moore has spent the past 25 years trying to con Alabamians into believing he is a man of God because of his propensity to tout The 10 Commandments with every other breath. The con game worked well enough that he twice was elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and he probably could have held that position for a lifetime. But Moore had to defy higher-court rulings, causing him to twice be booted from his chief justice role.

The Alabama press had shown no ability, or interest, in unearthing the dark secrets in Moore's past, so he probably would have been secure had he remained in a statewide position. But arrogance -- and an exalted belief in his own abilities -- caused Moore to seek a nationwide slot in the U.S. Senate. And that drew the attention of Washington Post reporters, who exposed Moore's taste for the tender flesh of teen girls.

Digging Deeper Into JFK Assassination and Lover's Murder

CAPA, South Texas College of Law Houston Hosts Two-Day Mock Trial: ‘State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald’ with World-Renowned JFK Assassination Experts, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 14, 2017. Media Advisory: The courtroom drama that never occurred now will be held live… featuring world-renowned JFK assassination experts.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Anatomy of a CIA Assassination, Part 1, Peter Janney, Nov. 14, 2017. The author finds out more and more about the elusive man who may have murdered President John F. Kennedy’s mistress. Who killed President John F. Kennedy’s mistress, and why?

In searching for the answers to this mystery, author Peter Janney came upon what seem to be the jagged fragments of an even bigger picture.

Previously, we posted excerpts from Janney’s remarkable book on the murder of Kennedy’s mistress, Mary Pinchot Meyer — Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace: Third Edition (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016). The excerpts were from Chapter 2, which we broke up into three parts, here, here, and here.

We now present the first of two more excerpts, taken from Chapter 12 (but with added subheading).

Global News: Fake News?

SouthFront, Russian Military Released Fake Photos Showing ISIS Withdrawal From Al-Bukamal, Staff report, Nov. 14, 2017. On November 14, the Russian Defense Ministry released a series of photos allegedly showing an ISIS withdrawal from the Syrian city of al-Bukamal. The ministry said that the US-led coalition assisted the ISIS terrorists withdrawing from the city. However, the photos were fake.

Nov. 13

isis terrorists file

BBC photo shows purported ISIS-US negotiations in Raqqa to save ISIS fighters from harm

BBC Exclusive: U.S., Allies Allowed Hundreds of ISIS Terrorists, Thousands Of Family To Escape Raqqa -- and Spread New Terror?

BBC, Raqqa’s dirty secret, Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati, Nov. 2017.The BBC (former British Broadcasting Corp.) has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city. A convoy included some of IS’s most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey.

American flagLorry driver Abu Fawzi thought it was going to be just another job. He drives an 18-wheeler across some of the most dangerous territory in northern Syria. Bombed-out bridges, deep desert sand, even government forces and so-called Islamic State fighters don’t stand in the way of a delivery.

But this time, his load was to be human cargo. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters opposed to IS, wanted him to lead a convoy that would take hundreds of families displaced by fighting from the town of Tabqa on the Euphrates river to a camp further north.

James Mattis oThe job would take six hours, maximum – or at least that's what he was told. The drivers point to a white truck being worked on in the corner of the yard. “Its axle was broken because of the weight of the ammo,” says Abu Fawzi.

This wasn’t so much an evacuation -- it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State. The SDF didn’t want the retreat from Raqqa to look like an escape to victory. No flags or banners would be allowed to be flown from the convoy as it left the city, the deal stipulated.

It was also understood that no foreigners would be allowed to leave Raqqa alive.Back in May, US Defence Secretary James Mattis (shown above right) described the fight against IS as a war of “annihilation.”

“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa," he said. "We are not going to allow them to do so,” he said on US television.

But foreign fighters – those not from Syria and Iraq - were also able to join the convoy, according to the drivers. One explains:"There was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt...”  Other drivers chipped in with the names of different nationalities.

Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman, Combined Joint Task Force (Central Command) for Inherent ResolveIn light of the BBC investigation, the coalition now admits the part it played in the deal. Some 250 IS fighters were allowed to leave Raqqa, with 3,500 of their family members. “We didn’t want anyone to leave,” says Col. Ryan Dillon (shown at left), spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (Central Command), the Western coalition against IS.

“But this goes to the heart of our strategy, ‘by, with and through’ local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations,” he says.

While a Western officer was present for the negotiations, they didn’t take an “active part” in the discussions. Col Dillon maintains, though, that only four foreign fighters left and they are now in SDF custody.

james foley isis 2012 via abc

ISIS in Syria/Iraq: A Reminder: American journalist James Foley is beheaded by ISIS, helping inflame Americans for years of warfare against the shadowy group ISIS whose origins are seldom reported by Western media

More Sex Scandal For Moore, Alabama Nominee

Beverly Young Nelson with her attorney Gloria Allred at press conference on Nov. 13, 2017

Beverly Young Nelson, center, with her attorney Gloria Allred at press conference on Nov. 13, 2017

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Washington Post, New accuser says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, Jenna Johnson and Robert Costa, Nov. 13, 2017. Beverly Young Nelson, now 55, said that Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP nominee for Senate shown at right in a campaign photo, groped her and bruised her neck in the late 1970s. “I thought that he was going to rape me,” she said at a news conference.

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 Roy Moore Washington Post, McConnell, Senate GOP campaign chief repudiate Roy Moore’s candidacy following allegations of sexual misconduct with teen, Sean Sullivan and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 13, 2017. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner said Alabama GOP nominee Roy Moore is “unfit to serve.” The repudiation follows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments that Moore, who is accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, should step aside. “I believe the women,” McConnell said.

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Washington Post, Moore seeks to refocus campaign on conservative religious values amid firestorm, Elise Viebeck, Dino Grandoni and John Wagner, Nov. 13, 2017. Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama (below in a campaign photo earlier in the campaign as he showed off his gun) sought to refocus his campaign on the conservative religious ideals most likely to motivate his base voters, dismissing the national firestorm over allegations that he pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

Roy Moore 38 specialAddressing a gathering at the Huntsville Christian Academy in Huntsville, Ala., on Sunday night, the former judge (shown above in a campaign photo) suggested that he was investigating his accusers, threatened to sue The Washington Post and called on the United States to restore its culture by going “back to God.”

“We can be proud of where we came from and where we’re going if we go back to God,” Moore said at his second public event since The Post reported the allegations of misconduct last week. “If we go back to God, we can be unified again,” he said.

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 Roy MooreNew York Times, White House Urges Caution on Judging Roy Moore, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 13, 2017. Officials said that Mr. Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of pursuing romantic relationships with teenagers, should be allowed to defend himself. Senate Republicans appeared to have largely abandoned his candidacy.

More On Moore

new yorker logoNew Yorker, Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall, Charles Bethea, Nov. 13, 2017. Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was born in Gadsden, a small city flanked by Interstate 59 and the Coosa River, an hour northeast of Birmingham.

Gadsden is hilly, woodsy, blue-collar, and religious. “LEGAL OR NOT, SIN IS SIN,” a sign in front of a church announced yesterday.

I saw it as I drove around, crisscrossing George Wallace Drive. I also saw Trump posters, Confederate flags, and dozens of signs for Doug Jones, the Democrat tied with Moore in recent Senate-race polls.

Gadsden is the seat of Etowah County, which is a conservative place; Donald Trump received three times as many votes in the county as Hillary Clinton did. (Statewide, he received twice as many.) But I didn’t, in all my driving, see a single yard sign for Moore, the home-town son. Even the parking lot of the one mall in town had more bumper stickers for Luther Strange (four), Moore’s opponent in the Republican primary, than for Moore himself (one).

Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was born in Gadsden, a small city flanked by Interstate 59 and the Coosa River, an hour northeast of Birmingham. Gadsden is hilly, woodsy, blue-collar, and religious. “LEGAL OR NOT, SIN IS SIN,” a sign in front of a church announced yesterday. I saw it as I drove around, crisscrossing George Wallace Drive. I also saw Trump posters, Confederate flags, and dozens of signs for Doug Jones, the Democrat tied with Moore in recent Senate-race polls. Gadsden is the seat of Etowah County, which is a conservative place; Donald Trump received three times as many votes in the county as Hillary Clinton did. (Statewide, he received twice as many.) But I didn’t, in all my driving, see a single yard sign for Moore, the home-town son. Even the parking lot of the one mall in town had more bumper stickers for Luther Strange (four), Moore’s opponent in the Republican primary, than for Moore himself (one).

Groping Claim Against Former President "Poppy"  Bush

George HW Bush HR

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Washington Post, Woman accuses former president George H.W. Bush of groping her when she was 16, Marwa Eltagouri, Nov. 13, 2017. Rosyln Corrigan — who said she was excited to meet the 41st president as a teenager, having dreamed of a career in politics — told Time that Bush (shown in an official photo from his time in office) groped her 14 years ago while photographing with her at an event in the Woodlands, Tex., office of the Central Intelligence Agency. Corrigan’s father and other intelligence officers and their families came to hear Bush address the agency.

“My initial reaction was absolute horror. I was really, really confused,” Corrigan told Time. “The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything.”

“What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that?’ ” she said.

A spokesman for Bush, Jim McGrath, did not deny the allegations. He told The Washington Post in a statement that the former president “simply does not have it in his heart to knowingly cause anyone harm or distress, and he again apologizes to anyone he may have offended during a photo op.” At the time of the CIA event in November 2003, Bush was 79, and not confined to a wheelchair. He stood upright in his photograph with Corrigan and her mother, Sari Young.

Corrigan is the sixth woman to make similar accusations against Bush in recent weeks. The others were adults at the times they were allegedly groped.

 [McConnell, Senate GOP campaign chief repudiate Roy Moore’s candidacy following allegations of sexual misconduct with teen]  

Three of the women — actresses Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick and novelist Christina Baker Kline — said they were groped by Bush within the past four years. Bush’s spokesman said in response that Bush, 93, has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm “falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures.”

More On JFK Assassination

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, The JFK Files: New Light on Oswald and Mexico City, Dick Russell, Nov. 13, 2017. The mainstream media has been focusing on the well-worn narrative that Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly traveled to Mexico City and paid visits to the Soviet and Cuban consulates some months before the assassination of JFK. Was he secretly working for the communists, or is the media missing the real story? Those with a stake in avoiding the truth about John F. Kennedy’s assassination want you to believe Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone nut. If you won’t accept that, they have a fallback position: “It’s even worse. He was working for the commies.”

That “alternative” scenario revolves around a purported Oswald trip to Mexico City in the months before Kennedy’s death, when he allegedly visited Soviet and Cuban missions, met with a handler and sought his escape path to his beloved USSR.

There’s just one problem with this narrative. It probably isn’t true.

Climate Change

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Washington Post, Thousands of scientists issue bleak ‘second notice’ to humanity, Sarah Kaplan, Nov. 13, 2017.  In 1992, scientists published a dire “warning to humanity” about a host of impending ecological disasters. A quarter-century later, most of them have gotten worse: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory,” the authors of the new statement write.

Courts, Crime, Political Prosecutions Around the Nation

Roger Shuler and murphyLegal Schnauzer, The Political Prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks: Missouri lawyer, who helped reveal corruption involving Judge Mark Fuller in the Don Siegelman prosecution, faces dubious criminal charges of his own, Roger Shuler (a longtime fighter against legal injustice in thousands of blog posts, shown at right with his pet schnauzer), Nov. 13, 2017. A Midwestern attorney whose persistent digging unearthed corruption at the heart of the Don Siegelman prosecution in Alabama now faces an apparent political prosecution of his own.

Paul Benton Weeks, of Springfield, MO, is charged with securities fraud in a case that two Missouri officials sat on for almost three years, apparently so they could time the announcement to boost their runs for higher public office. Is that a sign the case — styled State of Missouri v. Paul Benton Weeks (Case No. 1431-CRO7040-01, Greene County) — has been brought for reasons that have nothing to do with facts or law?

A newly released Judicial Integrity Report (JIR), which is available in both hard-copy form and via a link at judicial-integrity.report, suggests the answer is yes. In fact, JIR lays out more than a half dozen grounds that show the Weeks prosecution has no basis in law or fact — and that almost certainly means it is a political prosecution. One of the most damning grounds pointing to prosecutorial chicanery is rooted deep in the heart of Alabama — and the Don Siegelman case.

 Chris Koster (Twitter)Two conservative Missouri Democrats -- then-Attorney General Chris Koster (shown at left) and then-Secretary of State Jason Kander (shown below right) -- apparently concocted the Weeks criminal charges to further their political ambitions and to help retaliate against Weeks for his efforts to shine light on government abuses.

 Jason Kander The securities-fraud charge grew from a 2009 private-loan transaction between Weeks and a personal acquaintance. Weeks borrowed $200,000, signing and delivering to the private lender a personal promissory note. Over the next two years, Weeks incurred severe financial losses in the stock market and could not repay the note on schedule. The controversy became multi-layered, as the JIR describes (as follows in the link here).

Massive Breach Reported At NSA

NSA headquarters

Aerial view of National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters (file photo)

ny times logonsa logoNew York Times, N.S.A. Struggles to Recover After Huge Breach of Spying Tools, Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger, Nov. 13, 2017 (print edition). Leaks of the National Security Agency’s cyberweapons have damaged morale, slowed operations and resulted in hacks on businesses and civilians worldwide.Current and former officials say disclosures by a mysterious group that obtained N.S.A. tools have been catastrophic, calling into question the agency’s value to national security.

Inside Washington

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james comey fbi recent photoWashington Post, James B. Comey, called a ‘liar’ and ‘leaker’ by Trump, tweets a quote about truth and justice, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 13, 2017. Hours after President Trump resurrected attacks against him this weekend, the former FBI director quoted an old sermon about the difference between a truth and a lie. Speaking with reporters in the press cabin on Air Force One on Saturday, Trump called Comey a proven “liar” and “leaker,” as he seemed to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word that he didn’t meddle in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

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irs logoWashington Post, More than 400 millionaires tell Congress: Don’t cut our taxes, Heather Long, Nov. 13, 2017 (print edition). Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller all signed on.

Global News: Trump Glad-hands Dictator Who Mocks U.S.

ny times logoRodrigo Duterte philippines presidentNew York Times, Trump Lauds ‘Great Relationship’ With Duterte in Manila, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nov. 13, 2017. President Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines (shown in a file photo) met in a friendly session on the sidelines of a summit meeting.

SouthFront, Saudi Arabia And Israel Setting Preconditions For War Against Hezbollah, Iran, Staff and wires, Nov. 13, 2017. The crisis in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia in particular leads to further escalation in the region. The Arab League will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 18 at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss “violations” committed by Iran. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of encouraging Israel to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, said that the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel are planning a war against Lebanon.

Nov. 12

Inside Washington

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James ClapperWashington Post, Trump criticized for saying Putin is sincere in denial of election meddling, Karen DeYoung, Ashley Parker and David Nakamura, Nov. 12, 2017. President Trump’s comments, made after informal chats with the Russian president, drew strong reactions. Trump also referred to former top U.S. intelligence officials as “political hacks.” Former director of national intelligence James Clapper (shown at right) Jr. said of Trump’s remarks, “The fact that he would take Putin at his word over the intelligence community is unconscionable.”

Related News:washington post logoWashington Post, Former CIA director says Trump is being ‘played’ by Putin, John Wagner​, Nov. 12, 2017. John Brennan said President Trump’s reaction to the Russian president could inspire other world leaders to “appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities.”

Cops and Courts Around the Nation

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Washington Post, Emboldened by Trump, sheriffs are mimicking his rhetoric and putting some residents on edge, Tim Craig​, Nov. 12, 2017. From deep-blue states to conservative strongholds, locally elected sheriffs have emerged as staunch defenders of the president, bucking “politically correct” policies and alarming some who fear an increasingly undisciplined justice system.

Groping Claims Against Alabama Republican Candidate For U.S. Senate

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Roy Moore Washington Post, Defiant Roy Moore tries to rally support as top Republicans disown him, Elise Viebeck and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). Addressing a Post report in which four accusers — including one who was 14 at the time — claimed inappropriate behavior by him when he was in his 30s, the GOP Senate candidate in Alabama (shown at right) attempted to frame the allegations as a conspiracy perpetrated by the media and his political enemies.

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Washington Post, Opinion: Bannon is right: It’s no coincidence The Post broke the Moore story, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). The Republicans showed their moral parameters in responding to the “mere allegation.”

Roy Moore 38 specialTrump’s conveniently flexible standard on accusations — and he is not alone — boils down to: If the accuser points a finger at a Democrat — Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein — her word is to be trusted, automatically. If she complains about a Republican, Trump’s otherwise dormant devotion to due process kicks in. How can claims from “many years ago” be allowed to “destroy a person’s life”?

Some answers: Because they are entirely credible. Because the girl, now a woman, has no conceivable ax to grind — she is a longtime Republican, a Trump voter even — and nothing to gain from coming forward. Because three other women related similar, although less disturbing stories, underscoring Moore’s interest in younger girls.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Yes, the G.O.P. Can Block Roy Moore, Ronald J. Krotoszynski (a law professor at the University of Alabama), Nov. 12, 2017. Mitch McConnell and other leaders have the constitutional authority to prevent Roy Moore from serving in the Senate if he is elected. Last week’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, have drawn bipartisan denunciations in Washington, with many of his would-be colleagues calling on him to leave the race. Here in Alabama, however, the reaction has been considerably more muted.

If anything, the allegations seem to have forced many of the party faithful to rally around him. Mr. Moore, for his part, is not only refusing to step aside, but is making fund-raising appeals based on the accusations. While his accusers’ accounts no doubt hurt him, there is still a very good chance that Roy Moore will win the special election on Dec. 12.

The national party has made it clear that it wants nothing to do with Mr. Moore; on Friday the National Republican Senatorial Committee severed its ties with his campaign. But as his supporters have defiantly pointed out, there is nothing the Republicans can do to stop Alabamians from electing Mr. Moore.

That doesn’t mean the Senate is powerless. In fact, Mitch McConnell and other Senate leaders have the constitutional authority to prevent Mr. Moore from actually serving if he is elected. The real question is whether the party’s leadership is prepared to use this authority.

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Washington Post, Analysis: Why politicians got away with sexual misconduct for so long, Rachel Gorlin, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). Rachel Gorlin, a political media consultant at Tipping Point Strategies in Washington, worked for years on Capitol Hill. Everyone knew about Bob Packwood. He won reelection anyway.

My Harvey Weinstein was a U.S. senator. We were never alone together or even had a private conversation; he never harassed me. But Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon was a textbook case of “everyone knew” when I served as press secretary for his 1992 challenger, Les AuCoin. I watched with dismay as our campaign and the press corps covering the race grappled with the knowledge of Packwood’s sexual misconduct — well beyond the adulterous realm of Gary Hart — without knowing what to do about it.

florence gravesFinally, in September 1992, a freelance investigative journalist named Florence Graves convinced the Washington Post that allegations of Packwood’s sexual misconduct warranted serious scrutiny. Graves (shown at right) and Post reporter Charles Shepard conducted many interviews in Oregon and Washington as the Senate race continued to tighten.

By mid-October, they had persuaded multiple women — all former staffers, volunteers or lobbyists — to tell their stories on the record; word of this reached both campaigns. As Tom Bates wrote in a 1993 Los Angeles Times Magazine piece that reconstructs the entire series of events, Packwood complained to Post publisher Katharine Graham. Top editor Len Downie then urged the senator to give his side of the story to Graves and Shepard, who had been seeking an interview.

Packwood agreed but cleverly put them off until five days before the election. He denied all the allegations, and the delay had given him time to gather dirt on his accusers. (It was the same tactic allies of Thomas had used to undermine Hill’s credibility; Weinstein tried the same approach with less success.) After the interview, according to the L.A.Times Magazine piece, the Packwood campaign faxed pages of supposedly incriminating claims to the Post reporters and to Downie’s home. Failing to check out the allegations against their sources could have put Graves and Shepard on risky ground both legally and journalistically. Packwood’s ploy made it impossible for The Post to publish the story before the election.

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douglas jonesWashington Post, Opinion: After the Roy Moore allegations can Democrats really win in Alabama? Heather Hendershot, Nov. 11, 2017. Doug Jones (shown at right) has a shot at winning — if the Democratic Party gets behind him.

 More U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

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Washington Post, Opinion: Democrats, cut the cheer, David Von Drehle, Nov. 12, 2017 (print edition). Democrats are still acting as though demography is destiny when they need to woo whites.

Global News: Syria

syria flagSouthFront, Clashes Between Syrian Army And ISIS Continue In Al-Bukamal City (Photos), Staff report, Nov. 12, 2017. On Nov. 11, clashes between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and ISIS continued inside al-Bukamal city, according to local sources. The sources said that several VBIEDs of ISIS targeted positions of the SAA and Hezbollah inside and east of al-Bukamal city in the last 48 hours.

Nov. 11

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ladavid johnsonWashington Post, U.S. soldier in Niger ambush was bound, apparently executed, villagers say, Sudarsan Raghavan, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). The body of Sgt. La David Johnson (right), one of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush by Islamist militants in Niger last month, was found with his arms tied and a gaping wound at the back of his head, according to two villagers, suggesting that he may have been captured and then executed.

Adamou Boubacar, a 23-year-old farmer and trader, said some children tending cattle found the remains of the soldier Oct. 6, two days after the attack outside the remote Niger village of Tongo Tongo, which also left five Nigerien soldiers dead. The children notified him.

When Boubacar went to the location, a bushy area roughly a mile from the ambush site, he saw Johnson’s body lying face down, he said. The back of his head had been smashed by something, possibly a bullet, said Boubacar. The soldier’s wrists were bound with rope, he said, raising the possibility that the militants — whom the Pentagon suspects were affiliated with the Islamic State — seized Johnson during the firefight and held him captive.

Roy Moore Scandal

roy moore senate campaign robe Custom 2

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Washington Post, 2 GOP senators pull support for Roy Moore after he doesn’t deny dating teens when in his 30s, Michael Scherer and David Weigel, Nov. 10, 2017. 2 GOP senators pull support for Roy Moore after he doesn’t deny dating teens when in his 30s. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore declined Friday to rule out that he may have dated girls in their late teens when he was in his 30s, though he said he did not remember any such encounters and described such behavior as inappropriate.

 “If I did, I’m not going to dispute these things, but I don’t remember anything like that,” Moore said on Sean Hannity’s radio program, when asked whether he had dated 17- or 18-year-old girls at the time.

Mike LeeIn the same interview, Moore denied outright the claim of Leigh Corfman that he had initiated sexual encounters with her when she was 14. “I don’t know Ms. Corfman from anybody,” he said. “The allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false.”

Moore’s comments came as GOP leaders scrambled Friday to limit the political damage from the allegations. Two Republican senators — Steve Daines (Mont.) and Mike Lee (Utah) (shown at right) — withdrew their endorsements of Moore after his interview with Hannity.

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Washington Post, Opinion: After the Roy Moore allegations can Democrats really win in Alabama? Heather Hendershot, Nov. 11, 2017. Doug Jones has a shot at winning — if the Democratic Party gets behind him.

cbs news logoCBS News, Roy Moore's former colleague says it was "common knowledge" he dated teens, Kathryn Watson, Nov. 11, 2017. A former prosecutor who once worked alongside embattled Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in the early 1980s told CNN it was "common knowledge" at the time that Moore dated high school girls.

 "It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird," former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. "We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall ... but you really wouldn't say anything to someone like that."

Jones, now a partner at the Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb, Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer, P.A. law firm based in Sarasota, Florida, served as deputy district attorney for Etowah County, Alabama from 1982 to 1985, according to her firm's website. Moore worked as a deputy district attorney in that office from 1977 to 1982. Before joining the DA's office, Jones was the assistant city attorney for the city of Gadsden, Alabama, the county seat of Etowah County.

White House Bombast and Intrigues

kim jong un uniformed

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Washington Post, In Vietnam, Trump blasts critics on Russia as ‘haters and fools’ and appears to call North Korean leader ‘short and fat,’ David Nakamura, Nov. 11, 2017. The president's tweets punctured the careful messaging he and his aides had sought to deliver on a five-nation, 12-day trip through Asia. The morning tweetstorm came as Trump prepared for bilateral meetings with Vietnamese leaders, including a scheduled news conference where he could face more questions about the topics he addressed on Twitter.

Trump's taunt of Kim came after the North Korean leader again called him a “dotard,” a term describing an old person who is losing his mental faculties. Trump, 71, sarcastically responded that he hopes one day to be friends with Kim Jong Un (shown in a file photo), who oversees a developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal.

Dr. Joseph Mifsud (Valdai Discussion Club 2016 conference in Moscow handout photo via Associated Press)

Dr. Joseph Mifsud (Valdai Discussion Club 2016 conference in Moscow handout photo via Associated Press)

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Trump Adviser Met With Kremlin Contacts, Sharon and LaFraniere, David D. Kirkpatrick, Nov. 11, 2017. Andrew Higgins and Michael Schwirtz, Nov. 10, 2017. Interviews and records reveal new details about contacts between George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, and self-described Kremlin intermediaries. At midday on March 24, 2016, an improbable group gathered in a London cafe to discuss setting up a meeting between Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia (shown in a file photo).

Vladimir putin djt g 20 2017There was George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old from Chicago with an inflated résumé who just days earlier had been publicly named as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. There was Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic in his mid-50s with a faltering career who boasted of having high-level contacts in the Russian government.

And, perhaps most mysteriously, there was Olga Polonskaya, a 30-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company. Mr. Mifsud introduced her to Mr. Papadopoulos as Mr. Putin’s niece, according to court papers. Mr. Putin has no niece.

The interactions between the three players and a fourth man with contacts inside Russia’s Foreign Ministry have become a central part of the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, into the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the presidential election. Recently released court documents suggest that the F.B.I. suspected that some of the people who showed interest in Mr. Papadopoulos were participants in a Russian intelligence operation.At midday on March 24, 2016, an improbable group gathered in a London cafe to discuss setting up a meeting between Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

There was George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old from Chicago with an inflated résumé who just days earlier had been publicly named as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. There was Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic in his mid-50s with a faltering career who boasted of having high-level contacts in the Russian government.

And, perhaps most mysteriously, there was Olga Polonskaya, a 30-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company. Mr. Mifsud introduced her to Mr. Papadopoulos as Mr. Putin’s niece, according to court papers. Mr. Putin has no niece.

The interactions between the three players and a fourth man with contacts inside Russia’s Foreign Ministry have become a central part of the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, into the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the presidential election. Recently released court documents suggest that the F.B.I. suspected that some of the people who showed interest in Mr. Papadopoulos were participants in a Russian intelligence operation.

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Washington Post, Trump: ‘I really believe’ Putin’s denials of election interference, Ashley Parker and David Nakamura​, Nov. 11, 2017. President Trump, who chatted with the Russian leader on the sidelines of an Asia economic summit, said the Russian leader “said he absolutely did not meddle in our election“ in 2016. U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and spread misinformation to help the Trump campaign.

Inside Washington

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scott pruitt epa o CustomWashington Post, EPA is taking more advice from industry — and ignoring its own scientists, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). On pesticides, chemical solvents and air pollutants, Administrator Scott Pruitt (right) and his deputies are using industry figures to challenge past findings and recommendations of the agency’s own researchers.

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Washington Post, IRS chief departs, blasting Congress for budget cuts threatening tax agency, Joe Davidson, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). Leaving can be liberating. Now it’s John Koskinen’s turn.

irs seal CustomThursday is his last day as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, allowing his bluntness about Congress on Tuesday. Koskinen had repeatedly warned Congress about the dangers of shortchanging the agency that collects more than 90 percent of the government’s money. But Republicans were intent on penalizing the IRS because they said it had improperly scrutinized right-leaning organizations. It turns out that left-leaning groups also were targeted by that scrutiny, but for much of that controversy the focus was on conservatives.

Congressional retribution meant taxpayer service suffered, or, too often, it simply failed. Because of staffing shortages, there were long telephone wait times for taxpayers, when calls were answered at all. Koskinen outlined two risks that continue to threaten tax administration, saying “this is not a question of ‘whether,’ but of ‘when,’ ” if the budget continues to be cut.

First are the agency’s information technology systems, which Koskinen said “have long been operating with antiquated hardware and software.” He warned “that the potential for a catastrophic system failure is increasing as our infrastructure continues to age.”

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Washington Post, The many ways President Trump would benefit from the GOP’s tax plan, Drew Harwell and Jonathan O'Connell, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). President Trump has defended the Republican effort to overhaul taxes by calling it a bitter pill for the rich, saying its provisions will boost the middle class and make him a “big loser” if it’s approved.

But tax experts and a nonpartisan analysis suggest he’ll fare far better than others as a result of the changes. From sweeping estate and business tax cuts to specific relief targeting real estate interests, the tax overhaul would directly benefit Trump’s family and business in a way that could save him tens of millions of dollars a year.

Global Cultural News: Russia and China

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Russian flagWashington Post, Russia says it will retaliate after RT was ‘forced’ to register as a foreign agent, David Filipov, Nov. 11, 2017 (print edition). Russia plans new measures to restrict U.S. media organizations working here [in Moscow] after a Russian English-language television channel said it was pressured into registering as a foreign agent in the United States, a senior legislator said Friday.

Lawmakers will take up changes to the Russian law on foreign agents to extend it to the news media. Until now, that law has been applied only to nongovernmental organizations that receive financing from abroad and engage in what the government determines to be “political activity.” The law has been criticized as a way for the Russian government to marginalize civil society institutions.

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china flagWashington Post, UCLA wins basketball game in China but loses 3 players in shoplifting incident, Simon Denyer​, Nov. 11, 2017. The freshman athletes were arrested after reportedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton shop next to their hotel. It was supposed to be a shining example of U.S.-China sporting cooperation and a chance for an elite group of students to learn from another culture. But three UCLA players — including a younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie sensation Lonzo Ball — were stuck in a hotel more than a hundred miles away after being arrested this week for allegedly shoplifting from a store, or stores, in the lakeside city of Hangzhou.

Global News: Lebanon, Saudi Arabia

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Lebanon: Saudi should clarify why Hariri hasn’t returned, Bassem Mroue, Nov. 11, 2017. Lebanon’s president called on Saudi Arabia Saturday to clarify the reasons why the country’s prime minister has not returned home since his resignation last week, announced from the kingdom, as the United States and France expressed their support for Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability amid heightening tensions between Beirut and Saudi Arabia.

Saad Hariri (shown in Sochi on Sept. 13, 2017)A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s stunning announcement Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital that he was resigning. (He is shown at left in Sochi on Sept. 13, 2017.)

Lebanese officials have insisted on the return home of Hariri from Saudi Arabia amid rumors he is being held against his will. Saudi officials have said that their measures against Lebanon are in response to the militant Hezbollah’s group support of anti-Saudi rebels in Yemen known as Houthis.

Nov. 10

Republican Sex Scandal?

roy moore robes

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore in a file photo as Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice, an elective post he was twice forced to resign

Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson, Gioria Thacker Deason (Family photo via Washington Post)amily

Clockwise from left: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson and Gloria Thacker Deason. (Family photos via Washington Post)

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Washington Post, As Roy Moore declines to step aside, a tale of two Republican parties emerges, James Hohmann​, Nov. 10, 2017. The reactions to the allegation that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s have highlighted deep divisions within the Republican Party and underscored the growing tribalism that has infected the nation’s politics.

At the Capitol, establishment Republicans expressed alarm.

Roy Moore

Meanwhile, down in Montgomery, Republican leaders mostly circled the wagons behind Moore. The deadline has passed to take his name off the ballot. The Alabama state party could disqualify him from the election, but there was relatively little appetite locally to do so.

 The most remarkable pushback came from Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who dismissed the allegations by saying that there was also an age gap between the biblical Joseph and Mary. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” he told The Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Legal Schnauzer, Revelations about Roy Moore's taste for tender flesh raise questions about U.S. Senate race, plus integrity of the AL Supreme Court when Moore was in charge, Roger Shuler, Nov. 10, 2017. Yesterday's bombshell report that unmasked Roy Moore as a religious and political fraud -- one with a creepy taste for underage flesh -- caused many Alabamians to look forward. The first question that came to many minds probably was: "How will this affect 'Judge Roy's' chances in the special U.S. Senate election on Dec. 12, against Democrat Doug Jones? Could Roy actually lose in a Deep Red state, where he was the overwhelming favorite?"

Such questions are understandable, given the Alabama Senate race is attracting national attention, and election day is barely a month away. But citizens also should look backward and ask questions about the Alabama Supreme Court, which Moore "led" as chief justice.

Once Moore won his second term as Alabama's chief justice in 2012, evidence gradually mounted that the state's high court was riddled with corruption. An oft-heard refrain after Moore returned to the bench went something like this: "You might not agree with Roy's mix of religion and politics, but you have to admit that he has impeccable integrity and deep respect for the law. At least our courts won't be corrupt and favor the big-law special interests. The 'little man' finally will get a fair shake."

Heck, even I wanted to believe that -- especially since I had first-hand experience with Moore's opponent, Democrat Robert Vance Jr., and knew Vance was corrupt. Vance was (and is) a tool of the big downtown Birmingham law firms, such as Maynard Cooper and Gale and Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson. If I remember correctly, I actually voted for Moore in 2012; I sure as hell didn't vote for Vance.

It quickly became apparent that Roy Moore was unable -- or unwilling -- to lead a clean shop at the Alabama Supreme Court. Perhaps the most obvious signs of corruption on the Good Ship Roy came with glaringly unlawful rulings related to gaming. Another sign hit close to home for Mrs. Schnauzer and me, and it involves my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County.

Red State, Another Person Corroborates Roy Moore’s Accuser, Patterico, Nov. 10, 2017. Another person has emerged to corroborate the allegation that Roy Moore molested a 14-year-old girl in 1979. Like the other corroborating witnesses, this person did not witness the event, of course. He was just told about it by the victim years ago. But his account can now be added to those of the two people detailed in the Washington Post story:

"Betsy Davis, who remains friendly with Corfman and now lives in Los Angeles, says she clearly remembers Corfman talking about seeing an older man named Roy Moore when they were teenagers. She says Corfman described an encounter in which the older man wore nothing but tight white underwear. She says she was firm with Corfman that seeing someone as old as Moore was out of bounds."

“I remember talking to her and telling her it’s not a good idea,” Davis says. “Because we were so young.”

A second friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing her job, has a similar memory of a teenage Corfman telling her about seeing an older man.

Between all these people, Roy Moore’s bizarre statements in his interview with Sean Hannity, the evidence of his interest in other young girls, the apparent lack of bias on the part of the accusers, the garbage character of Moore, and cold hard facts that corroborate other aspects of the woman’s story, it looks very bad for Moore.

This is what the Bannon wing of the Republican party asked for. Now they have it. Great job, guys.

breitbart logoBreitbart, Alabama ABC Affiliate Can’t Find One Voter Who Believes WaPo Report About Roy Moore in Man-on-the-Street Segment, Jeff Poor, Nov. 10, 2017. During a segment that aired on Friday’s broadcast of Birmingham, AL ABC affiliate WBMA 33/40’s 5 p.m. local news, political reporter Lauren Walsh sought out voters in Columbiana, AL to gauge their reactions to the Washington Post report that alleged Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore engaged in inappropriate conduct with four teenage girls more than 34 years ago.

None of the respondents according to Walsh told her they believed the Post’s reporting. “It’s hard to believe the events that transpired yesterday,” Gordon Fluker of nearby Wilsonville, AL said to Walsh about the Washington Post report.

Fluker’s response was the standard according to Walsh. “Out of all the voters we spoke with Friday in Columbiana, we didn’t find one voter who believed the Washington Post report about Moore,” she said.

Columbiana is the county seat of Shelby County, a county that is the home to many of Birmingham’s southern suburbs. The county is very Republican, and in last year’s presidential election, it went for Donald Trump by a 72-23 percent margin.

In the GOP primary and the subsequent runoff for next month’s special election won by Moore, Shelby County went for his opponent Luther Strange in both instances. In that county, Strange defeated Moore by nine points in the GOP primary held in August. In the runoff a month later, Strange topped Moore by a 55-45 margin.

GroopSpeak, Opinion: Another Witness Just Came Forward, Roy Moore’s Career Is Over, Crowd sourcing, Nov. 10, 2017. As more and more GOP members are coming out to defend Roy Moore, witnesses are also beginning to emerge that can further confirm the accounts of the women who claim Roy Moore took advantage of them in their teenage years.

A man named Mike Ortiz was the longtime boyfriend of Leigh Corfman, who Roy Moore molested when she was just 14 years old, and has come forward to confirm her account of events. Ortiz did an interview with ABC 33/40 News’ Lauren Walsh, an Alabama based reporter, and confirmed that while he dated Corfman for over two years, she told him of the incident.

Ortiz further said, “I believed her, I believe her. I think she always fought with whether to come out with it public or not, you know, internally with what she wanted to do with it, to let people know about it. But I believed her when she told me and I still believe her. She wouldn’t lie about something like that.”

The chilling story of Roy Moore meeting the 14-year-old Corfman in the hallway of a courtroom, and convincing her to come to his house with him alone, was told this week the Washington Post. Corfman, who says that once at Moore’s house he removed her clothing and had her touch him over his underwear, is far from the only woman making accusations about Moore. Several other women say that while they were teenagers and Roy Moore was in his 30’s, he pursued sexually inappropriate relationships with them.

Republicans Line Up Against 'The Little People,' Economist Claims

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and Ryan Versus the Little People, Paul Krugman, Nov. 10, 2017 (print edition). New  York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman (shown at right) is a Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics at New York University and author of 20 books. According to news reports, Donald Trump wanted the House Republican tax “reform” bill to be called the Cut Cut Cut Act. Alas, he didn’t get his wish, and it was instead given a boring name nobody can remember. But there’s still time to change it! So let me propose, as one reader suggested, that it be renamed the Leona Helmsley Act, after the New York hotelier convicted of tax evasion, who famously declared that “only the little people pay taxes.”

irs logoThat, after all, is the main thrust of the bill. It hugely favors the wealthy over the middle class, which is pretty much always true of Republican proposals. But it’s not just about favoring high incomes: It also systematically favors people who live off their assets, especially inherited wealth, over the little people — that is, poor shlubs who actually have to work for a living.

Also let’s not forget that tax increases on working Americans are only part of the story. This bill would also, according to the Congressional Budget Office, add $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. You know what that means: If this bill or anything like it passes, Republicans will immediately revert to their previous pretense of being deficit hawks and start demanding spending cuts.

And since federal spending is dominated by programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — that benefit the middle and working classes, the end result of this tax bill would be to leave most working Americans, even those who wouldn’t face direct tax increases, worse off, all for the benefit of a tiny minority, especially those who haven’t even worked for their wealth.

Disaster Suffering

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Puerto Rico’s Second-Class Treatment, Editorial board, Nov. 10, 2017 (print edition). A 35-year-old budget cap has denied the island the more generous relief that storm victims in Texas and Florida received. Of all Puerto Rico’s continuing miseries seven weeks after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, the most blatantly unjust is that islanders have been denied the more generous and swifter food relief distributed to storm victims this year in Texas and Florida under the emergency food stamp program.

Yes, both the island and mainland victims are United States citizens. But not all citizens are created equal: A 35-year-old congressional budget cap on Puerto Rico’s food stamp program has limited the amount of disaster aid immediately available.

Media Failures In JFK Records Research

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, The JFK Autopsy Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov. 10, 2017. A classic example of the obtuseness of the U.S. mainstream press regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred recently on television station KARE in Minneapolis-St. Paul, when the station’s reporter, Chris Hrapsky, was interviewing federal Judge John Tunheim, who served as chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, the agency that Congress established in the 1990s to enforce the JFK Records Act.

Hrapsky is a reporter. As such, he had a professional duty to educate himself on the facts of the ARRB before conducting his interview with Tunheim. He also had a professional duty to follow up on critically important matters discovered by the ARRB that pointed in the direction of an official cover-up.

Hrapsky’s interview of Tunheim, which took place on November 2, arose within the context of the publicity generated by the October 26 deadline. During the interview, Hrapsky was presented with the opportunity to explore one of the “smoking guns” uncovered by the ARRB, one that pointed to the national-security state’s cover-up in the JFK assassination by conducting a fraudulent autopsy on the president’s body.

Doug HorneThe full details of this episode are set forth in Volume 3, Chapter 10, of Douglas Horne’s five-volume work Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK. Horne (shown at left) served on the staff of the ARRB in the 1990s. The title of Chapter 10 is “Two Brain Examinations — Coverup Confirmed.”

Horne’s entire five-volume work is not an easy read. But anyone who takes the time to read and study it will inevitably conclude that the military’s autopsy of JFK was fraudulent. For an easy to read summary of Horne’s five-volume book, I recommend my book The Kennedy Autopsy.

Lyndon johnson phone 1 10 64 lbj libraryKeep in mind also how it came to be that the military conducted the JFK autopsy. Texas law required that the Dallas County Medical Examiner conduct the autopsy. But Lyndon Johnson (shown in a file photo), who was elevated to the presidency on JFK’s death, ordered the Secret Service to get the body out of Parkland (in violation of state law) and immediately bring it to Dallas Love Field, where Johnson’s people were making room for the casket by removing seats from Air Force One.

secret service logoAs I point out in The Kennedy Autopsy, a team of Secret Service agents, brandishing guns and threatening the use of deadly force and screaming profanities, forced their way out of Parkland Hospital with JFK’s body in a casket, over the vehement objections of Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas County Medical Examiner. Loyally following Johnson’s order, despite the fact that they were violating Texas law, the Secret Service team took the body to Parkland and loaded it onto Air Force One, after which it was delivered into the hands of the military in Maryland.

Global News: Saudi Leadership Purge

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Saudi Arabia This "Liberal Reformer" Is An Impulsive Tyrant, B, Nov. 10, 2017. It is becoming more difficult to hide the mess the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman creates. The propaganda about the "liberal reformer" is too inconsistent with his obviously tyrannical behavior.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

The clown prince of Saudi Barbaria (shown at right) practically abducted the Prime Minister of Lebanon, blackmailed him to resign and holds him since under house arrest. This is an unprecedented attack on the sovereignty of Lebanon and all other countries. Yet the U.S. and some European leaders cowardly pretend that Saad Hariri is free to go where he wants.

 Meanwhile the Saudi tyrant's purge of all potential internal competition continues. Some 500 people have been arrested with the higher ups being held in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The hotel has now been "booked" until the end of January. But its 300 rooms are too few to hold the growing pile of rich trash. The Mariott hotel next door has now also been booked by the Saudi authorities. Regular guests were told to leave: A sure sign that the purge campaign will continue.

One important aspect of the purge is the open robbery that is part of it. Everyone arrested is accused of "corruption." This in a country where taking a share of every state contract is seen as an inherited right of the ruling class. The Wall Street Journal reports that the people around MbS expect to steal up to $800 billion in assets from the ultra-rich businessmen and princes they have now under their control.

Any day now the clown prince will become king of Saudi Arabia. In theory he could then rule for 50 years. But his country is unlikely to survive another five years of such impulsive and tyrannic behavior. Chances are that one his guards will be merciful enough to solve the problem with a single bullet.

Sex Scandal Apology

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Washington Post, Comedian Louis C.K. apologizes for sexual misconduct, says ‘these stories are true,’ Elahe Izadi, Nov. 10, 2017. The lengthy statement comes a day after the New York Times published five women's allegations of sexual misconduct against Louis C.K.​

Daily Mail, Writer accuses Richard Dreyfuss of exposing himself and harassing her in the 80s - just days after the actor supported his son who accused Kevin Spacey of groping him, Keith Griffith, Nov. 10, 2017. A female writer has accused actor Richard Dreyfuss of exposing himself and sexually harassing her when she worked for him in the 1980s - claims that the actor has emphatically denied, saying the relationship was one of mutual flirting.

Jessica Teich, 58, spoke out in an interview with Vulture released late Friday, claiming that Dreyfuss behaved lewdly when she worked as a junior writer on his ABC comedy special. Teich says that in the run up to its air date Dreyfuss, the now 70-year-old star of Jaws and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, called her to his trailer at a Los Angeles film studio lot. She was in her late 20s at the time and he was 12 years her senior.

Teich says she 'felt sexualized, objectified, and unsafe' with Dreyfuss. Oscar-winning actor Richard Dryfuss denies that he exposed himself to Teich in his trailer on a Los Angles film lot in 1987.

Nov. 9

Roy Moore

 Republican U.S.Senate candidate from Alabama Roy Moore, is shown above in a file photo, and in photos from his campaign when he flourished .38 special to emphasize his support for gun rights. He was twice removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusal to implement U.S. Supreme Court precedents that he claimed violated God' law.

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Washington Post, Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32, Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, Nov. 9, 2017. Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore.

Roy Moore 38 specialIt was early 1979 and Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing.

“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’ ” says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”

Aside from Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.

[Moore has denied the allegations, calling them "fake news" designed by his political opponents and the liberal media.]

Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson, Gioria Thacker Deason (Family photo via Washington Post)amily

Clockwise from left: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson and Gloria Thacker Deason. (Family photos via Washington Post)

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Washington Post, Analysis: Roy Moore: Another GOP calamity, Jennifer Rubin (shown at right), Nov. 9, 2017. The Post’s blockbuster article on Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, the twice-booted judge whose incendiary rhetoric on gays and Muslims spurred a handful of elected Republicans to refuse to back him, found Moore allegedly engaged in sexual behavior with a 14-yr. old minor and pursued three others.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) swiftly lowered the boom: “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.”

Mitchell McConnellMajority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also weighed in. The Post reports:“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a formal statement on behalf of all Republican senators.

That formulation, however, leaves Moore room to claim the allegation are untrue and remain in the race. That’s precisely what Moore is doing — vehemently denying the accounts.

 This miserable state of affairs, in addition to the personal harm to the victims, would not have come about, of course, had the Republicans primary voters of Alabama rejected someone with overtly racists and extreme views whose contempt for the Constitution led to two dismissals from the bench. He quite simply should never have been the nominee, and Republicans who subsequently backed him were once more placing party over country and Constitution.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

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Washington Post, Key committee ends fundraising pact with Roy Moore campaign amid allegations, Michael Scherer and David Weigel​, Nov. 10, 2017. Republican leaders scrambled Friday to limit the political damage from allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old girl and other teenagers nearly four decades ago, even as Moore pushed forward with his campaign.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled out of a joint committee it had set up with Moore, depriving him of a fundraising vehicle for the final weeks of the campaign. But current and former national party leaders admitted that they have little power to actually force Moore from the race. The election is Dec. 12.

Strategists also backed away from discussions for a Republican write-in campaign in the state, saying there was little hope of success if Moore stays in the race — and raising the possibility that Moore’s scandal will remain a problem for the party into the 2018 midterm elections, as candidates are asked to take a position on the abuse of minors and intergenerational dating.

WBMA -TV, (ABC affiliate 33-40, Birmingham, AL) via Twitter, Former boyfriend of Moore's teen accuser backs her account, Lauren Walsh, Nov. 9, 2017. Mike Ortiz says he dated Corfman (Roy Moore’s accuser) for 2 years around 2009. He says during that time, she told him about a sexual encounter w/ Moore when she was young.

Trump Flatters Chinese On Asian Tour

ny times logochina flagNew York Times, Trump Flatters China Leader, Blaming U.S. for Trade Gap, Mark Landler,Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Jane Perlez, Nov. 9, 2017. President Trump heaped praise on President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday, blaming Mr. Trump’s own predecessors for China’s yawning trade surplus with the United States and saying he was confident that Mr. Xi could defuse the threat from North Korea.

Xi Jinping Mr. Trump’s warm words, on a state visit to China replete with ceremony but short of tangible results, showed a president doubling down on his gamble that by cultivating a personal connection with Mr. Xi (shown in a file photo), he can push the Chinese leader to take meaningful steps on North Korea and trade.

In public, Mr. Trump projected an air of deference to China that was almost unheard-of for a visiting American president. Far from attacking Mr. Xi on trade, Mr. Trump saluted him for leading a country that he said had left the United States “so far behind.” He said he could not blame the Chinese for taking advantage of weak American trade policy.

Senate Version Of Tax Cut

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Tax Bill Delays Corporate Tax Cut Trump Called Essential, Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan, Nov. 9, 2017.  Senate Republicans will unveil their version of a sweeping tax bill today that delays the corporate tax cut President Trump has called essential to a tax rewrite yet is more attuned to the middle class than a competing plan moving through the House.

irs logoThe bill set for introduction in the Senate Finance Committee restores several popular tax breaks that were eliminated in the House bill, which passed the Ways and Means Committee along party lines on Thursday afternoon.

Those include the deduction for mortgage interest debt, which the House had proposed to cap at $500,000 as well as tax breaks for the elderly and the blind and high out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Senate bill also allows graduate students in universities to keep a valuable deduction and preserves a tax credit for adoptive parents, which had been eliminated by the House but was added back in a committee amendment on Thursday afternoon.

Are Saudis, Israelis Coordinating A New Joint War To Topple Lebanon?

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Washington Post, Lebanon’s plunge into political crisis raises specter of war with Israel, Louisa Loveluck and Loveday Morris, Nov. 9, 2017 (print edition). Even for a country often used as a battleground by regional powers and their proxies, the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has opened a new period of political uncertainty and fear in Lebanon.

The tiny nation has often been caught between the political agendas of more-powerful countries. But it now appears more vulnerable to conflict as Israel and Saudi Arabia try to isolate their shared enemy, the Iran-backed movement Hezbollah.

Hariri, a Sunni politician backed by the Saudis, cited Iranian meddling in Lebanese politics as the reason for his decision to step down. But the fact that he made his announcement in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia left little doubt that his regional patron must have played a role in a move that caught even his aides off guard.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

Saudi Arabia’s impetuous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pursued increasingly bold and aggressive policies at home and overseas, including a purge of officials and business executives in the kingdom, many of them members of the royal family.

 “MBS is an impatient man,” said Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, referring to the crown prince by his initials. The removal of Hariri “may be a Saudi play to initiate an Israeli response and bloody the nose of Hezbollah”

Israel FlagIsrael has watched with alarm as a battle-hardened Hezbollah has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad take the upper hand in Syria’s war. Israel has been accused of regularly bombing across its northern border, targeting convoys and military depots in Syria linked to Hezbollah. Israeli officials have also ramped up their bellicose rhetoric in recent months, warning that in any war, Israel won’t make a distinction between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah and Israel last fought a war in 2006. More than 1,000 soldiers and civilians were killed. Hariri’s resignation Saturday helps Israel drum up international sentiment against Lebanon, analysts say, particularly as the Trump administration pursues a more aggressive policy on Iran.

Shortly after Hariri announced his resignation, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, took to Twitter. “Lebanon = Hezbollah. Hezbollah = Iran. Iran = Lebanon,” he wrote. “Iran endangers the world. Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.”

wayne madsen new observerWayne Madsen book cover "Sword and Star"Strategic Culture Foundation, How Israel and Saudi Arabia Conspire to Seize Control of the Middle East, Wayne Madsen (shown at left), Nov. 9, 2017. Former Naval Intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen's 15 books including one published in 2014, "The Star and the Sword," documenting a covert alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia to advance their leaders' interests by "false flag" operations that promote wars by fooling national and global audiences.

The recent leak of a classified Israeli Foreign Ministry cable sent to all Israeli diplomatic facilities worldwide points to the subterfuge being engaged in by Israel and Saudi Arabia to effectuate political discord in Lebanon and a Saudi military confrontation with Iran.

The cable instructs Israeli diplomats to ratchet up diplomatic pressure against Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran. The Israeli plan saw an opportunity in the fact that the new regime in Saudi Arabia headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was able to force Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a longtime puppet of the Saudis, to resign his post from Saudi soil.

Consortium News, Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack? Robert Parry, Nov. 9, 2017. Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity and make President Trump look like an Al Qaeda dupe.

A new United Nations-sponsored report on the April 4 sarin incident in an Al Qaeda-controlled town in Syria blames Bashar al-Assad’s government for the atrocity, but the report contains evidence deep inside its “Annex II” that would prove Assad’s innocence.

If you read that far, you would find that more than 100 victims of sarin exposure were taken to several area hospitals before the alleged Syrian warplane could have struck the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Still, the Joint Investigative Mechanism [JIM], a joint project of the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], brushed aside this startling evidence and delivered the Assad guilty verdict that the United States and its allies wanted.

RT, Saudi Arabia 'holding' Lebanon PM Hariri, Beirut to seek foreign pressure on Riyadh – official, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2017. Lebanon believes Saudi Arabia is holding its prime minister, Saad Hariri, “with restricted freedom” in Riyadh. Beirut plans to work with foreign countries to secure the PM’s return home, a senior Lebanese government official told Reuters.

“Lebanon is heading towards asking foreign and Arab states to put pressure on Saudi [Arabia] to release Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Lebanese government has not yet declared the initiative.

More JFK Document Releases

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, National Archives Releases 13,000+ JFK Records, WhoWhatWhy staff, Nov. 9, 2017. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) just released the largest number of JFK assassination files it has released thus far this year — 13,213 mostly CIA files — but then introduced a frustrating wrinkle, raising doubts about the coherence of the process and about their intent. Upon brief inspection, it appears that all of the files so far examined still contain redactions.

If the files have not been re-reviewed yet by either the specific agencies (such as the CIA, FBI, and NSA) or the National Archives themselves, then one wonders why they would release them now in their present redacted form. It’s Alice in Wonderland time.

Only four of the files are classified as fully-withheld, meaning that the public had never seen them before. A full 48 out of 52 pages are completely redacted.

Citizens Against Political Assassinations, More JFK Documents Released On Nov. 9, 2017, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 9, 2017. The National Archives announced on Nov. 9 release of 13,213 additional records pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

Most of the documents were previously released in redacted form as part of a long-term process to comply with a 1992 federal law. More than four million pages have been released previously in full or with parts blocked out. Released records are available for download here.

National Archives, Latest Group of JFK Assassination Records Available to the Public, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2017. In the fourth public release this year, the National Archives today posted 13,213 records subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act). The majority of the documents released today were released previously in redacted form. The versions released today were prepared by agencies prior to October 26, 2017, and were posted to make the latest versions of the documents available as expeditiously as possible.  Released records are available for download here.

 NARA logoOn October 26, 2017, President Donald J. Trump directed agencies to re-review each and every one of their redactions over the next 180 days. As part of that review process, agency heads were directed to be extremely circumspect in recommending any further postponement of information in the records. Agency heads must report to the Archivist of the United States by March 12, 2018, any specific information within particular records that meets the standard for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the JFK Act.

The Archivist must then recommend to the President by March 26, 2018, whether this information warrants continued withholding after April 26, 2018. The records included in this public release have not yet been re-reviewed by the agencies as part of that process and have not been reviewed by the National Archives.

The National Archives released 676 documents on Nov. 3, 2,891 documents on Oct. 26, and 3,810 records on July 24.  The National Archives established the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection in November 1992, and it consists of approximately five million pages of records. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without any restrictions since the late 1990s.

Inside Washington

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John KellyWashington Post, White House chief of staff tried to pressure acting DHS secretary to expel thousands of Hondurans, officials say, Nick Miroff, Nov. 9, 2017. On Monday, as the Department of Homeland Security prepared to extend the residency permits of tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants living in the United States, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly (shown at right) called Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to pressure her to expel them, according to current and former administration officials.

By extending the residency permits of the Hondurans, Kelly told her that the TPS decision “keeps getting kicked down the road” and that the additional delay “prevents our wider strategic goal” on immigration, the White House official said.

Duke refused to reverse her decision and was angered by what she felt was a politically driven intrusion by Kelly and Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser, who also called her about the matter, according to officials with knowledge of Monday’s events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Robert Menendez offRoll Call, Menendez Jury Will Have to Start Over, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 9, 2017. With juror leaving for vacation, alternate will step in next week. Jury deliberations in the federal corruption trial against Sen. Robert Menendez will have to start over. That’s the word from the federal courthouse in Newark, N.J., where the Democratic senator has been on trial on a total of 18 counts related to alleged public corruption, including allegations he took a slew of gifts for official acts.

The possibility of the jury having to begin its work again became real because of the unexpectedly long duration of the trial, with arguments going on for 10 weeks. One of the jurors had a pre-planned vacation next week.

Senior Judge William H. Walls, who has presided over the case, had promised that juror she would be allowed to be dismissed for the vacation. The lack of a verdict Thursday leading into the Veterans Day holiday means one of the alternate jurors would likely need to be brought into the deliberations, resetting the process.

CNN, Rand Paul and his neighbor haven't talked in years, Maeve Reston, Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin, Nov. 9, 2017. It's a case so mysterious that it borders on preposterous: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (shown in a file photo)A US senator allegedly tackled by a neighbor while mowing his lawn, an attack so vicious that Rand Paul ended up with six fractured ribs and bruises to his lungs that made it hard to breathe.

Rand paul cbs 1 10 2016Washington Post, Former security chief says he rejected offer of women for Trump during Moscow trip, Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 9, 2017. Keith Schiller told House investigators this week that he turned down a suggestion that five women visit Donald Trump’s hotel room during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.There were no known witnesses as Rene Albert Boucher, an anesthesiologist and former colleague who has lived next door for 17 years, allegedly blindsided Paul last Friday by tackling him and throwing him to the ground. The only potential motive that emerged from interviews with a neighbor was that the two men had a long-running feud over leaves and lawn clippings along the property line they share.

Roll Call, Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte Not Running for Re-Election, Simone Pathé, Nov. 9, 2017. Goodlatte is term-limited as Judiciary Committee chairman.

Celebrity Shockers

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Washington Post, Report: Popular comedian Louis C.K. accused of sexual misconduct, Elahe Izadi​, Nov. 9, 2017. Five women came forward to accuse Louis C.K., commonly cited as one of the best American stand-up comics, of sexual misconduct, including masturbating in front of them, according to the New York Times.

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Washington Post, Aaron Hernandez suffered from most severe CTE ever found in a person his age, study finds, Adam Kilgore​, Nov. 9, 2017. Doctors released the postmortem results for the former Patriots tight end who hanged himself in prison.

Cops, Courts Around the Nation

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Washington Post, Woman gets 120-day sentence for throwing urine on bus driver, says she was provoked, Martine Powers​, Nov. 9, 2017. Opal Brown, 38, briefly apologized for her actions but argued that the assault was precipitated by a 30-minute argument with the bus operator.

Politico, Divided surveillance court revives drive to release opinions, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 9, 2017. Judges on a largely secret federal surveillance court divided sharply in a ruling released Thursday reviving an effort by transparency advocates to force greater disclosure of the court's opinions.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court split, 6-5, in the first opinions ever handed down by the court's full bench.

The majority opinion written by Judge James Boasberg found that the American Civil Liberties Union and a Yale Law School clinic had standing to challenge the government's refusal to release portions of the court's opinions. "Figuring out whether a plaintiff has standing to bring a novel legal claim can feel a bit like trying to distinguish a black cat in a coal cellar," Boasberg wrote. "Whatever the merits of Movants' suit, we conclude that they have asserted a sufficient injury-in-fact to pursue it."

The decision overturned a ruling issued in January by FISC Judge Rosemary Collyer, who held that the ACLU and the Yale Media Freedom and Information Access clinic had no standing to press for access to records of the secretive court. Collyer stood by her position as she penned the court's dissenting opinion, suggesting it was unwise to move forward with litigation aimed at forcing more transparency on a court whose work is by its very nature and purpose largely hidden from the public.

Nov. 8

U.S. Politics

ny times logoralph northam campaign CustomNew York Times, Virginia Rejects Your Hateful Politics, Mr. Trump, Editorial board, Nov. 8, 2017 (print edition). Ralph Northam’s election as Virginia governor (the governor-elect is shown at right in a campaign photo) amid reportedly high turnout on Tuesday is a stinging and welcome rebuke to President Trump and white nationalism.

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Washington Post, Analysis: Tuesday was a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election, James Hohmann, Nov. 8, 2017. Democrats had their best day politically since former president Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. Remember, conservatives scored significant victories in the November 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections. Democrats desperately needed some wins after they went all-in on a House special election in Georgia this spring and lost. Last night, they got them.

djt pepe twitter imageVoters came out in droves. They braved the rain and the cold to send a message to President Trump. The results across the country represent nothing less than a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election.

  • Maine, where Trump won an electoral vote last year, became the first state to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative. Despite active opposition from the Republican governor and an influx of outside money, the measure passed by a nearly 20-point margin. This will mean health-care coverage for an estimated 70,000 low-income residents.
  • Philip MurphyDemocrat Phil Murphy, a former banker and first-time candidate (shown at right), won the New Jersey governor’s race by 13 points over Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor. That’s on par with Clinton’s margin a year ago, but it’s a remarkable turnabout from four years ago — when Christie got reelected with a 22-point margin of victory. It means that Democrats will have unified control of the Garden State’s government.
  • By winning a special election, Democrats took control of the Senate in Washington State. This gives the party full control of all three states on the West Coast: a blue wall of sorts.

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robert parryConsortium News, Opinion: Trump and Democrats Misread Mandates, Robert Parry (shown at right, Nov. 8, 2017. Neither the Democrats nor President Trump learned the right lessons from the 2016 election, leaving the nation divided at home and bogged down in wars abroad.

New Witness Vindicates Siegelman Whistleblower In Iconic Alabama Frame-up

Don Siegelman film poster atticus v architect

Legal Schnauzer, Alabama GOPers planned to include Karl Rove in meeting to discuss Siegelman indictment, Roger Shuler, Nov. 8, 2017. Blogger Roger Shuler has written hundreds of trenchant columns about the notorious federal-state frame-up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (shown above in a film poster), who completed a seven-year prison term on corruption charges earier this year),  A veteran Montgomery lawyer says he was invited to a meeting where Alabama Republicans were to discuss a political prosecution of former governor Don Siegelman, according to an affidavit in a pending federal lawsuit. Former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove was hoping to attend the meeting.

tommy gallionTommy Gallion, who has been involved with the Republican Party since 1972, says the late Winton Blount III invited him to a meeting, where a group of Republicans were to discuss their plan to work with newly appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (shown below at left) to indict Siegelman. Blount, a former gubernatorial candidate and chair of the Alabama Republican Party, died in February 2015. (The Gallion affidavit is embedded at the end of this post.)

leura canarySiegelman, in fact, was indicted and was convicted (along with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy) in what has become known as the most notorious political prosecution in U.S. history. It is the subject of a documentary (shown above) titled Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman, which has been shown at a number of locations around the Southeast in recent months.

Gallion's sworn statement is entered as an exhibit in a pending federal lawsuit, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that attorney Joseph Siegelman (Don's son) brought, seeking records about Canary's supposed recusal in the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution. Records in that lawsuit, before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala, show the U.S. Department of Justice turned over the requested documents to the court on April 10.

Dana Jill Simpson 2017Gallion's sworn statement seems to support the claims of Alabama activist, opposition researcher, and retired attorney Jill Simpson (shown at right), who testified before Congress about a conference call where Business Council of Alabama president Bill Canary discussed a plan for "his girls" (Leura Canary and fellow U.S. attorney Alice Martin) to "take care of" Don Siegelman. Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, was among other Republicans reportedly on the call.

Inside Washington

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation/Analysis: Congressman with long criminal record authors measure to fire Robert Mueller, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 8, 2017 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission): It is, perhaps, fitting that the GOP congressman who has authored a resolution calling for the firing of the Justice Department special counsel investigating Donald Trump and members of his family and administration for criminal wrongdoing has his own long criminal record.

Omarosa Manigault Newman gage skidmore custom 2The Hill, Report: Omarosa caused White House problems with wedding photo shoot, Brett Samuels, Nov. 7, 2017. White House aide Omarosa Manigault sent White House staff into a panic with a bridal photo shoot, Politico reported Tuesday, with sources saying the incident was indicative of larger problems within her department.

Before getting married at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in April, Manigault, communications chief for the Office of Public Liaison (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait), reportedly brought members of her bridal party to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for an extended photo session.

It’s unclear if the former "Apprentice" contestant received permission for the shoot in advance, but security and White House aides were caught off guard and had to ban Manigault from posting the pictures online, citing security and ethical concerns.

The wedding photo incident is seen as illustrative of broader issues within the Public Liaison office, officials told Politico. The office has been disorganized, they said, and has already had a change in leadership since President Trump took office.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that while the office did not get off to a smooth start, it has done valuable work in connecting with veterans and religious groups. Sanders also praised Manigault for her outreach efforts with African-American communities.

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dana boenteWashington Post, Senator questions whether dismissal of U.S. attorney in Virginia was ‘justified,’ Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 8, 2017. Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) wants more details on why Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was asked to step down last month.

Boente (shown at right), who has also been serving as acting chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, announced last month that he will step down when a replacement is confirmed. He had been asked to do so by the Trump administration, several people with knowledge of the conversations confirmed.

“I cannot take on faith that this dismissal was normal or justified,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) wrote in a Nov. 7 letter to top Justice Department officials. “The Department of Justice and the White House should provide their reasoning for why someone like this, who was initially asked to continue serving in his important role, was suddenly forced to resign.”

Coons noted that U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president but questioned the timing of the move.  Boente is the only U.S. attorney left in the country who was nominated by President Barack Obama.

Global News: Major Victory Over ISIS By Syrian Government, Allies

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SouthFront, Syrian Army, Allies Liberated Al-Bukamal City From ISIS – Media (Map Update), Staff report, Nov. 8, 2017. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have liberated the strategic city of al-Bukamal from ISIS, the Hezbollah-linked al-Mayadin TV channel reported few moments ago.

syria flag[This was last ISIS-held population center of any size) at the Syrian-Iraqi border, and sits astrid a key highway linking Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon via Damascus.] Earlier on Wednesday, the SAA and Hezbollah officialy met with Iraqi forces in at the Syrian-Iraqi border, south of al-Bukamal. Then, government troops liberated the Ratka oil field, Suwayyah, al-Hiri, Huwayjat Baghuz and entered the city. Iraqi troops reportedly assisted the SAA in its advance.

bouthaina shaaban assad adviser Custom 2SouthFront, Assad’s Top Advisor: What Happened In Iraqi Kurdistan “Should Be A lesson” To The SDF, Nov. 8, 2017. On November 7, Bouthaina Shaaban, a top adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, said during an interview to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV that what happened in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region “should be a lesson” to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

During the interview, Shaaban confirmed that the Syrian government is open for negotiations with everyone. However, al-Assad’s top advisor stressed that the division of Syria is not negotiable, in a clear hint to the SDF “Federal System” in eastern Syria.

Media, Conflict and History

ny times logoNew York Times, Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times Amid Fierce Backlash, Syney Ember and Brooks Barnes, Nov. 8, 2017 (print edition). Amid a growing backlash, the Walt Disney Company on Tuesday reversed its decision to bar The Los Angeles Times from press screenings of its movies following an investigation by the newspaper into the media giant’s business dealings in Anaheim.

Disney’s change of course came after a number of news outlets, including The New York Times and the A.V. Club, said they were boycotting advance screenings of Disney films in solidarity. The company also faced pressure from several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed “A Wrinkle in Time,” which is to be released by Disney on March 9.

ny times logoNew York Times, Work for Weinstein Pulls Lawyer Into an Ethical Debate, Matthew Goldstein and Adam Liptak, Nov. 8, 2017 (print edition). David Boies, known for Bush v. Gore but also aggressive battles for businesses, is drawing fire for helping Harvey Weinstein draft a contract to hire private investigators.

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david ferrieroWashington Post, At National Archives, the boss, a Vietnam vet, orders up an exhibit on the war, Michael E. Ruane, Nov. 8, 2017. David Ferriero, a former Navy corpsman shown at right, said America is still wrestling with the war’s legacy. Now the archivist of the United States, he is the impetus behind a free exhibit running through Jan. 6 that displays some of the most striking documents relating to the war.

Ferriero, 71, said he wanted the institution to mount a Vietnam exhibit in part because so many of the war’s issues remain sensitive and unresolved. In a long career that took him to big jobs at major universities and libraries, “no one — no one — wanted to talk about it,” he said.

“No one asked me any questions,” he said. “No one acknowledged it. . . . Never was it the topic of conversation.” Ferriero, in a recent interview in his office, said he also knew that the Archives had “incredible material in the records — photographs and all of the military records, the unit records. We have a lot of stuff.”

Election Rigging Analysis Of Tuesday's Results

jonathan simonCode Red, Recap of Nov. 7 results from election integrity perspective, Jonathan D. Simon (shown at right), Nov. 8, 2017. Jonathan Simon, author of "Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century, is executive director of the Election Defense Alliance, a grassroots effort to warn about ways that American elections are subject to computerized election theft without detection. He submitted the following comments as a reader comment to a Washington Post article about the Nov. 7 elections, and is reposting it on the Code Red website shown above:

Lest anyone for a minute believe that yesterday's results — more or less a Democratic sweep — provide assurance that our elections are now secure and that no one is targeting 2018 or 2020 for votecount manipulation, please understand that there are many very good reasons that entities with capacity to interfere with the counting process in these particular contests would have taken a pass, which it appears they did.

Jonathan Simon Code Red1) The actual victory margins in key contests were large — altering outcomes would have brought the smell test very much into play.

2) The prizes, significant as they are, were a drop in the bucket compared to what is on the table in 2018. Given the now-heightened scrutiny of our election processes (and of course concerns about "the Russians"), it would make little strategic sense to trigger red flags now — thereby putting urgency into the effort to button-up election security before 2018.

3) Virginia had decertified its paperless machines (DREs), so that, unlike GA-6 this summer, recounts/audits would have been in play in the event of "issues" with the count (anomalous results, exit poll-votecount disparities, etc.). Election admin at the state level was under Democratic control. New Jersey, although using DREs, was simply too big a margin — a Guadagno win would have failed the smell test spectacularly.

The overarching analogy here is to the pool shark: missing makeable shots is part of the hustle, indeed essential to the hustle. Same for a poker cheat. If you win every hand, either no one will play or they will start making you play in short sleeves. You save those aces for the big pots.

We've been around this block many times. People can't wait to say "There! You see, it's all good now!" Strategically, rigging last night would have been idiotic, but we have to spell this out all over again, using small words. Don't underestimate the "Obama Effect," bought this time for pennies on the dollar.

The upshot is that yesterday's results should do nothing to reassure anyone about the security of our elections or diminish by a hair the urgency of our efforts to restore public and observable vote counting. We have seen way too many aces drop out of sleeves to think for a minute that this game is being played straight. If we do, we're the perfect mark.

Another Spacey Sex Scandal Claim

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Kevin Spacey in a publicity shot for his hit show "House of Cards," which is being cancelled at the end of this season after sex scandal claims

Huffington Post, Former TV Anchor Says Kevin Spacey Sexually Assaulted Her 18-Year-Old Son, Julia Brucculieri, Nov. 8, 2017. “Nothing could have prepared my son for how that sexual assault would make him feel as a man,” Heather Unruh said.

Regulators Questioning Mega-Media Merger: Report

cnn logony times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. May Seek CNN Sale Before Backing Merger, Michael J. De La Merced, Emily Steel, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Cecilia Kang, Michael J. De La Merced, Emily Steel, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Cecilia Kang, Nov. 8, 2017. The $85.4 billion deal could hinge on whether AT&T and Time Warner agree to sell Turner Broadcasting, the group of cable channels that includes CNN.

The Justice Department’s demands set up a potential battle over the fate of the deal, an attempt to create a new telecommunications and media colossus.

Trump Trip To Japan: The Golf Game

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Washington Post, On the golf course, Japan’s Abe did a ninja stunt — and Trump didn’t even notice, Anna Fifield,  Nov. 8, 2017. It seemed like President Trump’s visit to Japan went without any mishaps. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feted and flattered his American counterpart with golf games and hamburgers. They both repeatedly talked about the strength of the alliance (and their bromance.)

Now, video footage has emerged showing that the trip did not, in fact, pass without any spills. Literally. While they were on the green at the swanky Kasumi Country Club on Sunday, Abe fell into a bunker and performed a ninja-like stunt — all without Trump’s knowledge.

Nov. 7

Democrats Win Big In Viriginia, New Jersey Voting

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Washington Post, Northam defeats Gillespie in Va., giving Democrats first key win in Trump era, Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella and Fenit Nirappil​, Nov. 7, 2017. Democrat Ralph Northam (shown above) was projected to win Virginia’s race for governor Tuesday over Republican Ed Gillespie, as Democrats appeared headed for a big night across the board in races for lieutenant governor, attorney general and several key seats in the House of Delegates, based on exit polls and early returns.

Virginia’s election has been closely watched nationwide as a test of President Donald Trump’s status and impact on the tenor of politics in every state. From Korea,

Trump wasted no time lashing out at Gillespie. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for” the president tweeted before the final tally was in.

  • Northam (D) 1,322,165 53.9%
  • Gillespie (R) 1,119,915 44.9%
  • 99% of precincts reporting

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Philip MurphyWashington Post, Democrat Phil Murphy defeats Kim Guadagno in New Jersey governor’s race, Amber Phillips​, Nov. 7, 2017. The first-time candidate won the governor’s seat back for Democrats, capping a tumultuous eight years of Republican Gov. Chris Christie leading the state. Democrats took back the governor’s seat in New Jersey as first-time candidate Phil Murphy (shown at right) defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), capping a tumultuous eight years of term-limited Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s leading the state.

Chris ChristieThe party also is poised to cement its 12-year control of both houses of the state legislature, putting Democrats back in control of the entire state.

In a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for president in almost 30 years, Guadagno struggled to get out from the shadow of two controversial Republicans: President Trump and her boss for the past eight years, Christie (shown at left), whose approval rating has hovered around 15 percent over the past few months, has been plagued by scandals and public-relations missteps during his two terms.

Shocking Details Emerge About Texas Mass Murderer

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Texas church killer Devin P. Kelley (more recent photo at right)

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Washington Post, Texas gunman escaped from mental health facility in 2012; Kelley was ‘attempting to carry out death threats,’ according to police report, Eva Ruth Moravec and Mark Berman​, Nov. 7, 2017. The gunman who opened fire in a church outside San Antonio, killing at least 26 people, escaped from a mental health facility in 2012 after he was caught sneaking guns onto an Air Force base and “attempting to carry out death threats” made against military superiors, according to a police report.

The report said officers with the El Paso, police were dispatched to a bus terminal after Devin P. Kelley‘s escape from a behavioral facility about seven miles away in New Mexico. Officers wrote they were told Kelley, who intended to take a bus out of the state, “was a danger to himself and others” at the time and noted that he “was also facing military criminal charges.”

This incident occurred the same year that Kelley was court-martialed. He was charged with abusing his wife and her son between April 2011 and April 2012 and then sentenced in November 2012, according to Air Force documents.

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Washington Post, Air Force failure enabled Texas gunman to obtain firearms; FBI was not alerted to ex-service member’s assault convictionm, Alex Horton, Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition). Devin P. Kelley should have been barred from purchasing guns because of a 2014 domestic violence conviction. But the Air Force said it failed to follow policies for alerting federal law enforcement about Kelley’s violent past, allowing him to buy weapons before the deadly rampage in Sutherland Springs, Tex.

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Washington Post, Trump says ‘hundreds more’ might have died in Texas if gun laws were tougher, David Nakamura​, Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition). President Trump on Tuesday asserted that tougher gun laws would not have stopped the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Tex., last weekend and in fact “hundreds more” would have died had another man not been able to “neutralize” the alleged killer with a gun of his own.

Asked during a news conference here whether he would entertain “extreme vetting” on guns, Trump appeared irritated by the question and suggested it was not appropriate to talk about “in the heart of South Korea.”

House Probe Of Trump Russian Connections

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New York Times, Trump Aide Details Russia Contacts During 2016 Race, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Goldman, Nov. 7, 2017. Carter Page (shown in a file photo from a page video appearance), the former adviser, offered new details during eight hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, which has released a transcript of his remarks.

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Syria Joins Paris Climate Accord, Leaving Only U.S. Opposed, Lisa Friedman, Nov. 7, 2017. Then there was one. Syria announced during United Nations climate talks on Tuesday that it would sign the Paris agreement on climate change. The move, which comes on the heels of Nicaragua signing the accord last month, will leave the United States as the only country that has rejected the global pact.

U.S. Politics

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Washington Post, Opinion: Our political parties can’t save themselves, Michael Gerson, Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition). Arguably the worst president in modern history might still beat one of the most prominent Democrats in the United States. This indicates a Democratic Party in the midst of its own profound crisis. During the Obama years, it collapsed in large portions of the country. Its national establishment has been revealed — with extensive footnotes provided by Donna Brazile — as arrogant, complacent and corrupt. But the only serious ideological alternative to that establishment is frankly socialist — the fatuous and shallow sort of socialism held by college freshmen and Bernie Sanders.

trickle down cartoon

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Dana Milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Welcome to the new gilded age, Dana Milbank (shown at right), Nov. 7, 2017 (print edition) Corporations are people, my friend. And this is where they feed.

Room 1100 of the Longworth Building, with its ionic columns, gilt-fringed curtains and eagle-topped frieze, has for 80 years been the home of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. But perhaps never before have corporations wielded their power as openly as they have here this week.

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harvey weinsteinWashington Post, A former New York Times reporter wonders if Weinstein sabotaged her 13 years ago, Callum Borchers, Nov. 7, 2017. Harvey Weinstein's attorney, David Boies, hired private investigators to try to kill the New York Times's report on sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein that the newspaper ultimately published in October.

That's just one of the startling revelations in Ronan Farrow's latest New Yorker piece, which chronicles the Hollywood titan's elaborate effort to silence accusers and journalists through deception and intimidation. The attempt to stop the Times from publishing last month's article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey failed, obviously.

Less clear is whether a similar sabotage campaign might have successfully hindered a previous reporting project by the Times in 2004.

“Don't know,” said Sharon Waxman, the former Times reporter who pursued sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein 13 years ago. “But,” she added, the New Yorker article “has me thinking too, of course.”

Particularly alarming, from the Times's perspective, is that Boies — a prominent lawyer best known for representing Al Gore during the presidential-election recount of 2000 — worked to undermine the paper's recent reporting on Weinstein while he was on the Times's payroll, providing counsel on unrelated matters.

“We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe,” the Times said in a statement. Speaking to Farrow for the New Yorker piece, Boies said he did not see a conflict of interest between his work for Weinstein and his work for the Times.

Saudi Power Grab Turns Bloody

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

SouthFront, Second Saudi Prince Is Dead In 24 Hours: This Time In Firefight With Security Forces, Staff and wire report, Nov. 7, 2017.Just hours after the death of Prince Mansour bin Muqrin in a helicopter “crash” in the Saudi province of Asir, the Saudi Royal Court announced the death of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd.

The second prince was reportedly killed during a firefight with security forces, which were attempting to arrest him. The death of Prince Aziz was the latest incident in a series of arrests and crackdowns started by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (shown at right).

mohamad bin salman saudi middle eastern flags CustomMoon of Alabama, Opinion: Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon, B, Nov. 7, 2017. The Saudi clown prince Mohammed bin Salman is purging all potential internal resistance and solidifies his dictatorial position. (The move includes a huge money grab. All assets of those accused of corruption are confiscated by the state which, in Saudi Arabia, is the tyrant himself.) The internal consolidation of power is the prelude for a larger external venture.

At the same time as the internal purges proceed, MbS implements an extremely aggressive foreign policy agenda targeted at Iran and its allies. Having been defeated in Iraq and Syria and at stalemate in Qatar and Yemen the Saudi ruler decided to try his luck in Lebanon. The Saudi declares war on Lebanon and will put enormous economic and political pressure on it. But all of that will be to no avail. The war will only cause Lebanon to move deeper into the "resistance" camp an join its forces with Syria, Iran and Russia.

The Saudi plans are well coordinated with the United States and have the full support of the Israeli government. There is little the Saudis can do militarily hurt Lebanon. They might want to move their Al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters from Syria to Lebanon but that will require Turkish cooperation. Even those forces would be no match for Hizbullah, as it is deeply anchored within the population of Lebanon.

Sex Scandals

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Washington Post, A former New York Times reporter wonders if Weinstein sabotaged her 13 years ago, Callum Borchers, Nov. 8, 2017. Harvey Weinstein's attorney, David Boies, hired private investigators to try to kill the New York Times's report on sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein that the newspaper ultimately published in October.

 That's just one of the startling revelations in Ronan Farrow's latest New Yorker piece, which chronicles the Hollywood titan's elaborate effort to silence accusers and journalists through deception and intimidation. The attempt to stop the Times from publishing last month's article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey failed, obviously.

Less clear is whether a similar sabotage campaign might have successfully hindered a previous reporting project by the Times in 2004.

“Don't know,” said Sharon Waxman, the former Times reporter who pursued sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein 13 years ago. “But,” she added, the New Yorker article “has me thinking too, of course.”

Particularly alarming, from the Times's perspective, is that Boies — a prominent lawyer best known for representing Al Gore during the presidential-election recount of 2000 — worked to undermine the paper's recent reporting on Weinstein while he was on the Times's payroll, providing counsel on unrelated matters.

“We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe,” the Times said in a statement. Speaking to Farrow for the New Yorker piece, Boies said he did not see a conflict of interest between his work for Weinstein and his work for the Times.

JFK Records Release Analysis

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Martin Luther King and Lee Harvey Oswald, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov 7, 2017. The mainstream media and the acolytes of the U.S. national-security establishment continue to emphasize that there are no “smoking guns” in the tiny (2 percent) of the 50-year-old JFK records that President Trump, the National Archives, and the CIA have recently permitted the American people to see.

Of course, these people define “smoking gun” as a videotaped confession or a memorandum summarizing how and why the CIA orchestrated the November 22, 1963 regime-change operation. If the released records don’t contain a confession or such a memorandum, then in the minds of the people that means the official narrative must stand: A lone-nut former U.S. Marine communist with no motive suddenly decided to kill the president.

The records that the National Archives just released included a secret FBI analysis on civil-rights leader Martin Luther King.

mlk head shot 1The thrust of the analysis is that King was a communist, and an immoral communist at that. In a November 4, 2017, article entitled “In the Latest JFK Files: The FBI’s Ugly Analysis on Martin Luther King, Jr., Filled With Falsehoods,” the Washington Post writes: "The 20-page document, dated March 12, three weeks before King was assassinated in Memphis, is included in the latest trove of government files about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which the National Archives released Friday. It alleges that King’s political ideologies and the creation of his civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, were heavily influenced by communists, specifically the Communist Party USA."

 fbi logoOne big question that arises, of course, is why the FBI chose to keep this 50-year-old analysis secret from the American people until now.

One possibility, of course, is that the FBI was just embarrassed about having published such a report.

A second possibility, however, is that the FBI orchestrated the assassination of King and decided that the analysis would constitute evidence of motive. After all, don’t forget, this was the era of the Cold War, when the CIA was targeting communists for assassination. Before anyone cries, “Conspiracy theory, Jacob!” let’s not forget that in a civil lawsuit brought by King’s family, after weighing all the evidence the jury found, in its official verdict,  that government agencies conspired to kill King.

Does the FBI analysis on King have any bearing on the Kennedy assassination? Actually, yes. That’s where critical thinking, circumstantial evidence, inferential thinking, and common sense come into play.

Nov. 6

Terror Attack At Texas Church

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Texas killer Devin P. Kelley (more recent photo at right)

ny times logoNew York Times, Gunman Broke Skull of Infant Stepson in 2012 Assault, Dave Philipps and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Nov. 6, 2017. While stationed at a base in New Mexico, Mr. Kelley was charged with “assault on his spouse and assault on their child,” according to the Air Force.

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Washington Post, Who is Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman officials say killed churchgoers in Sutherland Springs? Derek Hawkins and Julie Tate​, Nov. 6, 2017. Gunman was sentenced to year in military prison for assault on his wife and child. Authorities are still trying to determine what led the 26-year-old shooter to open fire in the church. Officials described the shooter’s weapon as a Ruger AR-556, an assault-style rifle similar to those used by the military. CNN, citing a law enforcement source, reported that Kelley purchased the weapon in April 2016 from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio.

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Washington Post, An unlikely hero describes gun battle and 95 mph chase with Texas shooting suspect, Kyle Swenson, Nov. 6, 2017. Johnnie Langendorff was driving to his girlfriend’s house when he stumbled into the massacre.

Cover-Up Exposed In U.S. Military Deaths In Niger?

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niger map CustomWashington Post, U.S. soldiers killed in Niger were targeting Islamist militants, raising questions for the Pentagon, Sudarsan Raghavan, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The Pentagon had said the troops were on a low-risk reconnaissance mission in Niger (shown on map). They were, instead, in a dangerous battle zone helping to track and fight militants along the Mali border, according to Niger’s defense minister and a wounded soldier who survived the attack.

Massive Military Contracting Scandal Grows

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Washington Post, ‘Fat Leonard’ probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals, Craig Whitlock, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The investigation into the worst corruption scandal in Navy history has grown to include 60 current and former admirals and their dealings with Leonard Glenn Francis who pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing “scores” of officials and defrauding the service out of more than $35 million.

Commentary On GOP Tax Cut Plan

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IRS logoWashington Post, Opinion: Three (almost) inexplicable parts of the Republican tax plan, Lawrence H. Summers, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). With the release of the Republican tax proposal, the most important tax debate in a generation is in full swing. Most reasonable experts agree that tax reform has the potential to spur investment and raise wages while also simplifying the system and increasing its fairness and legitimacy. The right question for debate is not the desirability of tax reform or even of business tax reform directed at spurring investment. It is the likely economic effect of particular proposals.

U.S. Politics: Virginia Election Tuesday

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Washington Post, Opinion: The Northam-Gillespie election is once in a lifetime, E.J. Dionne Jr., Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). On Tuesday, Virginia’s voters confront what will almost certainly be the most consequential election for governor of their lifetimes. The contest between Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie matters for the state, of course, but its implications will be even larger for the nation.

New York Times, Wave of G.O.P. Departures Promises to Reshape House, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The retirement announcements last week of the Science and Financial Services chairmen brought to 27 the number of Republicans who have left or are leaving.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosny times logoNew York Times, Wave of G.O.P. Departures Promises to Reshape House, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 6, 2017 (print edition). The retirement announcements last week of the Science and Financial Services chairmen brought to 27 the number of Republicans who have left or are leaving.

Commentary On JFK Records Release On Nov. 3

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The National Archives: Lawbreaker and Cover-Upper, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at right), Nov. 6, 2017. On October 26, 2017, the National Archives, an independent federal agency that is headed by a man named David Ferriero, became a federal lawbreaker.

The reason?

NARA logoOn that date, the National Archives became legally obligated to release to the public all of the CIA’s and other federal agencies’ files relating to the JFK assassination in its possession. On that date, the National Archives failed and refused to release those long-secret records in its possession. On that date, the National Archives, under Ferriero’s auspices, became a federal lawbreaker.

In 1991, the movie JFK, directed by Oliver Stone, was released. The movie posited that the assassination of President Kennedy was orchestrated by the CIA and other elements of the U.S. national-security establishment as part of a U.S. regime-change operation designed to protect the country from a president whose policies and practices, they felt, constituted a grave threat to national security. (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne.)

jefferson morley newJFK Facts.org, Where to find a JFK smoking gun: in the coming FBI files, Jefferson Morley, Nov. 6, 2017. (Jefferson Morley (shown at right), Washington bureau chief of AlterNet and editor of JFKFacts.org, has authored two books on CIA executives relevant to the Kennedy Assassination, most recently on Oct. 24: The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton.)

jefferson morley the ghost coverThere is at least one potential smoking gun in the new JFK files, and it may soon come into public view. As I explained to the Washington Post: "one of the more interesting documents to emerge involves a CIA cable about Oswald’s contacts in Mexico City that had up until Friday been partially redacted. The Oct. 8, 1963 cable discussed Oswald’s interactions with a Soviet consular official named Valery Kostikov, the reputed head of the KGB’s assassinations operations. On Friday, the CIA cable’s slugline was finally declassified. The title: LCIMPROVE.”

Justice Department log circularIf there is a “smoking gun” in the JFK files, it will be found in the FBI’s curious response to the October 8, 1963 cable. The next day, October 9, 1963, the FBI made a curious decision that has long puzzled JFK researchers and historians. Senior agents in Washington removed Oswald’s name from a list of persons of interest to FBI headquarters. Six weeks later, Oswald was arrested for shooting JFK.

In other words, the day after the CIA’s top counterintelligence official was informed that Oswald had met with possible KGB officer in Mexico City, the FBI decided that Oswald was no longer worthy of close scrutiny. The FBI files, scheduled for release, will likely shed light on this fateful decision. The FBI has previously released internal records about why the so-called “Flash” notice on Oswald was cancelled but they are filled with redactions. If and when those redactions are removed, we may learn who was shielding Oswald from law enforcement attention as he made his way to Dallas.

Fights For Civil Rights

Reporters Without Borders, Virginia police chief defends brutal arrest of journalist covering a parade, staff report, Nov. 6, 2017. On Monday, October 31, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler held a press conference defending his officers’ use of force against a journalist arrested the weekend before. News website Shareblue announced that their reporter, Mike Stark, was arrested on October 28 after filming Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s campaign vehicle at a parade in Annandale, Virginia.

According to videos taken by eyewitnesses, police officers ordered him to cease filming the video, which Stark refused to do. The officers told Stark he would not be able to ask the candidate any questions. After a brief verbal exchange, five officers slammed Stark face-first on the ground, applied pressure, and charged him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

During the press conference, police chief Roessler defended his officers’ actions, stating that Stark’s use of profanity is what led the officers to arrest him, citing a county ordinance. 

Twitter b ird CustomGeorgetown Law Center, Trump Blocking Critics on Twitter Violates First Amendment, Argues New Brief Filed by Georgetown Law, Staff report, Nov. 6, 2017. President Trump’s use of Twitter violates the First Amendment, Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) argued in an amicus brief that it filed today on behalf of leading First Amendment scholars such as Erwin Chemerinsky, Lyrissa Lidsky, and Larry Tribe.

Donald Trump official photoThe brief supports a lawsuit brought by Columbia’s Knight Institute challenging Trump’s practice of blocking critics from his @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed.

ICAP’s brief argues that, by fostering a dialogue on @realDonaldTrump that includes official statements of government policy, responses by other Twitter users, and replies by the president to those responses, the president has created a digital-age public forum.  And, in a public forum, well established legal precedent makes clear that viewpoint discrimination – such as blocking critics while allowing supporters to express their views – violates the First Amendment.

Saudi Leadership Purge Freezes Billionaires' Funds

saudi scene no photo credit CustomReuters, Saudi banks freeze accounts of suspects detained in probe: sources, Staff report, Nov. 6, 2017. Saudi Arabian banks have begun freezing the accounts of suspects ensnared in an anti-corruption probe, banking and business sources told Reuters on Monday. Dozens of people including royals, ministers and businessmen have been detained in an investigation by a new anti-corruption body headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The central bank ordered banks to freeze the accounts of people under investigation in the probe, the sources said, declining to be named because he was not authorized to talk to media.

Global News: ISIS 'Last Days' Loom In Syria, Iraq?

ISIS trucksSouthFront, ISIS’ Self-Proclaimed “Caliphate” Is Witnessing Its Last Days In Syria And Iraq, Staff report, Nov. 6, 2017 (video with maps). The self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS has suffered a double blow in Syria and Iraq. While US-backed forces were democratically negotiating with ISIS-linked Arab tribes in the Omar oil fields and nearby areas, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and the Republican Guard supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces undemocratically crushed the ISIS defense inside Deir Ezzor city.

Asia Times, The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives, Pepe Escobar. Nov. 6, 2017.Princes, ministers and a billionaire are 'imprisoned' in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton while the Saudi Arabian Army is said to be in an uproar. The House of Saud’s King Salman devises an high-powered “anti-corruption” commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman. Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.

Nov. 5

GOP Tax 'Cut' Impact

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irs logoWashington Post, They spent years planning and preparing for the cost of living with Alzheimer’s. The GOP tax bill threatens those plans, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Nov. 5, 2017 (print edition). As the Republican tax plan took shape, Richard Davis and Diane Thorsen felt as though the rug was being pulled out from under them. Deductions for medical expenses would be eliminated under the Republican plan, and they expect they’ll pay tens of thousands more if the plan passes.

In their plan to cut taxes and declutter the tax code, Republicans have proposed repealing all but a small handful of tax breaks. But people rely on those tax breaks in budgeting for medical expenses, adopting children, replacing stolen or disaster-damaged property, and even paying for business expenses.

Papers Reveal Major Scandals By Ultra-Rich

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British Queen Elizabeth

BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.), Paradise Papers: Tax haven secrets of ultra-rich exposed, BBC Paradise Papers reporting team, Nov. 5, 2017. A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.

wilbur rossDonald Trump's commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (shown at right) is shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.

The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance. BBC Panorama is part of nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers.

As with last year's Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to oversee the investigation. The Guardian is among the nearly 100 media partners involved in investigating the documents.

Sunday's revelations form only a small part of a week of disclosures that will expose the tax and financial affairs of some of the hundreds of people and companies named in the data, some with strong UK connections. Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy.

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Washington Post, 3,200 wealthy individuals wouldn’t pay estate tax next year under GOP plan, Heather Long, Nov. 5, 2017 More than 3,000 Americans would not have to pay the estate tax next year if the Republican tax bill is passed, a 64 percent reduction from the 5,000 people who would pay under current law, according to Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation — one of the most glaring ways the proposed legislation benefits a small number of wealthy Americans.

IRS logoUnder current law, Americans can pass along homes, land, stocks or other assets worth up to $5.49 million without paying any estate or gift tax. Estates worth more than that are subject to a 40 percent tax. The House GOP bill would double the threshold to $11.2 million in 2018 and then do away with the tax entirely in 2024. For 2018, that means an estimated 3,200 people would not have to pay.

In total, the reduction and ultimate elimination of the estate tax would cost taxpayers $172 billion over a decade. The figures were contained in a JCT  analysis that was obtained by The Washington Post.

More On Special Counsel Probe Of Russian Influence On Trump Circles

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Washington Post, At least 9 people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign, transition, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig​, Nov. 5, 2017. President Trump has downplayed the significance of the events and people involved, but documents released as part of adviser George Papadopoulos’s guilty plea show that they are a focus for special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s probe. The new court filings reveal more details about the extent to which Trump’s campaign became a magnet for people who believed U.S. policy toward Russia should change.

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Washington Post, Rick Gates, once the man ‘in the corner,’ is now a central figure in the Mueller probe, Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger​, Nov. 5, 2017.  The low-key operative who served as Paul Manafort’s deputy controlled as many as 30 bank accounts in the past six months, including several in Cyprus, according to prosecutors.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments, Jesse Drucker, Nov. 5, 2017. Leaked files show that a state-controlled bank in Moscow helped to fuel Yuri Milner’s ascent in Silicon Valley, where the Russia investigationhas put tech companies under scrutiny.

In the fall of 2010, the Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner took the stage for a Q. and A. at a technology conference in San Francisco. Mr. Milner, whose holdings have included major stakes in Facebook and Twitter, is known for expounding on everything from the future of social media to the frontiers of space travel. But when someone asked a question that had swirled around his Silicon Valley ascent — Who were his investors? — he did not answer, turning repeatedly to the moderator with a look of incomprehension.

twitter bird CustomNow, leaked documents examined by The New York Times offer a partial answer: Behind Mr. Milner’s investments in Facebook and Twitter were hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kremlin.

And a big investor in Mr. Milner’s Facebook deal received financing from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled financial institution, according to the documents. They include a cache of records from the Bermuda law firm Appleby that were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and reviewed by The Times in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Ultimately, Mr. Milner’s companies came to own more than 8 percent of Facebook and 5 percent of Twitter, helping earn him a place on various lists of the world’s most powerful business people. His companies sold those holdings several years ago, but he retains investments in several other large technology companies and continues to make new deals. Among Mr. Milner’s current investments is a real estate venture founded and partly owned by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser.

Trump Tanks In Polling

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Washington Post, Trump’s approval rating is far lower than any president in 7 decades of polling, Dan Balz and Scott Clement, Nov. 5, 2017. A majority of Americans say President Trump has not accomplished much during his first nine months in office, and they have delivered a report card that is far harsher even than the tepid expectations they set for his tenure when he was sworn into office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey.

Donald Trump official photoFewer than 4 in 10 Americans — 37 percent — say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job. His disapproval rating has reached 59 percent, with 50 percent saying they strongly disapprove of the job he is doing. Although the ratings have changed little in the past four months, both represent the worst marks of his presidency.

He is the only president dating back to Harry S. Truman whose approval rating at this point in his presidency is net negative — by 22 points. The next worst recorded in that time was Bill Clinton, who had a net positive of 11 points by this time in his presidency.

Global News: Trump Role In Major Saudi Shake-up, Arrests?

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tells Saudi King That He Supports Modernization Drive, Mark Landler, Nov. 5, 2017. President Trump, shown in a Defense Department file photo, has spoken with the king of Saudi Arabia to offer a wholehearted endorsement of a drive to modernize the kingdom, as the Saudi authorities arrested scores of prominent business people and ministers in a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown. 

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

In an unusually lengthy and detailed readout of the call made on Saturday, the White House said that Mr. Trump had thanked King Salman for Saudi Arabia’s support in fighting terrorism and for its purchase of military equipment from the United States. And he praised the king’s favorite son and top adviser, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (shown at right), for his recent calls for tolerance and moderation in Saudi society.

“The king and crown prince’s recent public statements regarding the need to build a moderate, peaceful and tolerant region are essential to ensuring a hopeful future for the Saudi people, to curtailing terrorist funding, and to defeating radical ideology — once and for all — so the world can be safe from its evil,” the White House said in the statement.

The White House statement made no mention of the scores of arrests, including that of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor who has held stakes in an array of Western companies, including the News Corporation, Citigroup and Twitter. Prince Mohammed, who has already sidelined rivals to the throne, is viewed as the mastermind behind the crackdown.

Prince Alwaleed sparred with Mr. Trump on Twitter during the presidential election, referring to him as a “disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.” Mr. Trump fired back, also on Twitter, that he was a “dopey prince” trying to “control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money.”

Global News: Saudis Purge Leaders

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Al Waleed bin Talal (Reuters Fahad Shadeed)Washington Post, Saudi Arabia detains princes, ministers and billionaire investor in extraordinary purge, Kareem Fahim​, Nov. 5, 2017. Saudi officials framed the arrests as part of an initiative to root out graft in the kingdom. But it also appeared to be part of an effort by the ambitious crown prince to consolidate power by eliminating rivals in the event that his father, King Salman, abdicates the throne. Detained billionaire prince Prince Alwaleed (shown at right) holds major stakes in Apple, Citibank.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s allies reveal they know he’s finished, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2017. When alleged career criminal Paul Manafort was informed that he was eventually going to be indicted and arrested in the Trump-Russia scandal, he didn’t suddenly try to straighten up his act. Instead he took a high paying overseas consulting job, which seemed remarkably similar to the gigs that got him into legal trouble to begin with, in an attempt to land one more big payday before he had to hunker down and fight a prolonged battle against impending criminal charges.

There’s a lesson in there about how people like Paul Manafort tend to behave when they think they’re about to be finished. It informs us that Donald Trump’s other allies, the important ones around the world who pull his strings, are accelerating their own plans because they think that Trump is about to be finished.

Last night the crown prince of Saudi Arabia had eleven of his fellow princes arrested on what appear to be bogus corruption charges, including the wealthy and powerful Prince Alwaleed, in an aggressive power grab.

jared kushner head shotLast weekend, Jared Kushner (right) took a secret trip to Saudi Arabia. Just hours before the arrests began, Donald Trump posted a tweet about the IPO of a Saudi Arabian government oil company. We don’t know what role Trump and Kushner played in the palace coup – but from their actions it’s clear they had some role in it.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Saudi Arabia -- This 'Night Of The Long Knives' Is A Panic-Fueled Move, B, Nov. 5, 2017. Yesterday the ruling Salman clan in Saudi Arabia executed a "Night of the Long Knives" cleansing the state of all potential competition. The Saudi King Salman and his son Clown Prince Mohammad bin Salman initiated a large arrest wave and purge of high ranking princes and officials. Part of this internal coup was the confiscation of huge financial estates to the advantage of the Salman clan.

mohamad bin salman saudi middle eastern flags CustomIn Saudi Arabia, eleven princes, including sons of the deceased King Abdullah, more than thirty former and acting ministers as well as the heads of three major TV stations were taken into custody or put under house arrest. The National Guard Commander Prince Mitieb Bin Abdullah was relieved from his post and replaced with Prince Khalid Bin Abdulaziz al Muqrin. The National Guard was the last intelligence and security power center held by the Abdullah branch of the al-Saud family.

One of the arrested persons is the allegedly sixth richest man of the world, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. He has (had?) an estimated net-worth between $18 and $32 billion. Al-Waleed had publicly clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump. (Al-Waleed is (was?) the largest shareholder of Citigroup, which selected [sic] Barack Obama's cabinet before receiving a huge government bailout.) Another casualty is Bakr bin Laden, brother of Osama Bin Laden, chairman of the Saudi Binladin Group and fifth richest man of the country.

Official pretext for the purge are corruption allegations going back to 2009. This financial subterfuge will allow the ruling Salmans to confiscate the wealth of the accused. The total haul of this raid will amount to dozens of billions of dollars.

The events in Lebanon and Riyadh would have been impossible without U.S. approval and support. In late October, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia.

President Trump, Saauid King Salman and Egyptian leader Abdel al Sissi

President Trump, Saudi King Salman and Egyptian leader Abdel al Sissi

In a tweet yesterday, Donald Trump, sworn to the Wahhabi orb, named the price for his consent and cooperation: "Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump - 12:49 PM - 4 Nov 2017: "Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!"  A primary listing of Aramco oil conglomerate at the NYSE will give the U.S. government regulatory and legal authority over the most valuable company of the world.

Since the incapacitated King Salman took the throne in Riyadh his ruthless 32-year-old son Mohammad bin Salman has taken control of all branches of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi launched a war on a defenseless Yemen and supported al-Qaeda, ISIS and other "rebels" against the Iraqi and Syrian governments. He split the Gulf Cooperation Council by attacking Qatar.

After a stalemate in Yemen and Qatar and losing in Iraq and Syria he has now initiated a war against Hizbullah in Lebanon. None of these bloody initiatives has achieved its aim of weakening the influence of the perceived enemy Iran. All of them helped Iran to consolidate its position. The financial position of the Saudi state is in disarray.Yesterday's purge can be perceived as a panic-fueled move. All of Bin Salman's endeavors have failed.

'Global News: Syrians Winning Race To Last ISIS Stronghold?

syrian army flag silouetteSouthFront, Syrian Army, Hezbollah Reach Iraqi Border Near Al-Bukamal (Map), Staff and wires, Nov. 5, 2017. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) (shown in a file photo) and Hezbollah have reached the Iraqi border southwest of the ISIS-held town of al-Bukamal, according to pro-government sources.

The SAA and Hezbollah are now deployed near Akash fields and de-facto control the road headign to the Iraqi city of al-Qaim, which was liberated by the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units on Friday. As soon as Syrian forces liberate Akash and secure their flanks, they will push towards al-Bukamal. Some sources say that ISIS members are now withdrawing from their stronghold. If true, al-Bukamal will be liberated within few days.

SouthFront, Over 100 Refugees Killed In ISIS Suicide Attack In Deir Ezzor; SDF Advances Towards Al-Bukamal, Staff and wires, Nov. 5, 2017.   On November 4, The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that a VBIED of ISIS attacked a gathering of Syrian refugees between the CONICO gas facility and the Jafra oil field north of Deir Ezzor city. The SDF said that over 100 civilians were killed and dozens others were injured in the attack. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) also said that ISIS was behind the attack on the civilian refugees.

Meanwhile, Kurdish sources claimed that the SDF advanced in the southeastern Deir Ezzor countryside and captured Sarhit, Shudayha, Younes, Galban and Shaitat oil fields south of the al-Tanak oil field. However, the SDF is yet to confirm these claims.If this advance is confirmed, the SDF will be only 40~50km away from the last ISIS stronghold in Syria, al-Bukamal.

At Least 27 Dead In Texas Church Shooting

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Washington Post, Multiple people dead after shooting at church near San Antonio, officials say, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 5, 2017.  Local authorities have yet to confirm details about the victims at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, but Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told The Post that at least 27 were dead and more than 20 injured. The gunman has been killed, he said.

ABC affiliate KSAT is reporting that the man walked into the church, opened fire and was later killed by police, though a dispatcher for the Wilson County sheriff declined to confirm and said information will be released later.

Kentucky Senator Hurt In Home Attack

rand paul cbs 1 10 2016Associated Press via Daily Beast, Rand Paul Recovering From Five Broken Ribs After Home Assault, Staff report, Nov. 5, 2017. Sen. Rand Paul (shown in a file photo) is recovering from five broken ribs after he was assaulted in his home on Friday. A senior adviser for Paul said the Kentucky Republican is in considerable pain and is having trouble moving around. Three of his ribs have displaced fractures, which can cause life-threatening injuries and longterm pain. Rene Boucher, Paul's next door neighbor, was arrested on Saturday and charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault with a minor injury.

Ex-DNC Leader Say's 'No Rigging' Of 2016 Primaries After Explosive Claims

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Washington Post, There is ‘no evidence’ primaries were rigged for Hillary Clinton, Donna Brazile says, Philip Rucker, Nov. 5, 2017.  The comments from the former chair of the Democratic National Committee came on the heels of a Post report about her upcoming memoir, in which she writes blistering criticism of the Clinton campaign.

Nov. 4

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Washington Post, Trump breaches boundaries by saying law enforcement should be ‘going after’ Democrats, Philip Rucker and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 4, 2017 (print edition). President Trump (shown in a graphic created during the 2016 campaign) repeatedly called on the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate his political opponents, overstepping traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized. In a flurry of tweets, he called for criminal probes of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, a day after he acknowledged that presidents aren’t supposed to intervene in such decisions.

ny times logojustice dept sealNew York Times, ‘Frustrated’ Trump Wishes for Power Over Justice System, Peter Baker, Nov. 4, 2017 (print edition). One of President Trump’s biggest disappointments in office, by his own account, was discovering that he is not supposed to personally direct law enforcement decisions by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. So, instead, he has made himself into perhaps the most vocal critic of America’s system of justice ever to occupy the Oval Office.

Just this week, he denounced the criminal justice system as “a joke” and “a laughingstock.” He demanded that the suspect in the New York terrorist attack be executed. He spent Friday berating the Justice Department and F.B.I. for not investigating his political opponents. He then turned to the military justice system and called a court-martial decision “a complete and total disgrace.”

The repeated assaults on law enforcement cross lines that presidents have largely observed since the Watergate era, raising questions about the separation of politics and the law. But as extraordinary as Mr. Trump’s broadsides are, perhaps more striking is that investigators and prosecutors are so far ignoring the head of the executive branch in which they serve while military judges and juries are for the most part disregarding the opinions of their commander in chief.

Former Congressional Researcher Blasts CIA, Trump, Congress, Media Over Suppressed JFK Documents

dan hardway bwAssassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), The intelligence community flips off America, Dan Hardway, Nov. 4, 2017. The author (shown at left) is an attorney in private practice and a former investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), created by the House in 1976 to reinvestigate the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

James Angleton at a 1975 senate intelligence hearing (New York Times Photo by George Tames)James Angleton (shown at right James Angleton at a 1975 senate intelligence hearing in a New York Times photo by George Tames) set the [CIA's JFK assassination HSCA] strategy in 1964: “Jim would prefer to wait out the Commission,” as one CIA memo about Warren Commission inquiries put it. They are still doing that as well as running their propaganda campaign against anyone who questions the lone-nut theory, their “best truth” according to [the CIA's historian] David Robarge.

NARA released some of the files that I have been waiting on yesterday, November 3, 2017....There has been no explanation, let alone a presidential certification, that the massive redactions in these “released in full” documents meet any of the mandatory exemptions that allow withholding.

No identifiable harm is specified. No rationale is given as to why the secrets protected outweigh the public interest in disclosure. These files are not in compliance with the law no matter what the main stream media says. They are an in-your-face flipped bird to the American public. They basically tell us that the CIA is saying that they don’t have to comply with the law of the land and that they will not tell us their secrets and that there is nothing we can do about it.

john roselli filippo sacco 1905 1976I’ve been here before. It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978. I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of John "Handsome Johnny" Roselli [shown at left, an influential mobster for the Chicago Outfit who helped control Hollywood and the Las Vegas Strip. He worked with CIA officers on anti-Castro assassination plots and was found dead in 1976 before his rescheduled testimony to Congress].

george joannidesScott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files. [Joannides, shown in a file photo, was a CIA official heavily involved in anti-Castro activities in the 1960s that, among other things, help fan anti-Kennedy sentiment among Cuban exlles. CIA later named Joannides to help the HSCA in the late 1970s understand operations, even though HSCA staff have said they were never informed by agency that Joannides was himself the key type of 1960s operative they were seeking to find and interview.)

They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated. They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it. The Angleton strategy still worked. It is still working today.

I’ve been here before. It was in a small room in CIA Headquarters in late 1978. I had been fighting to see a file generated by the CIA debriefing of Johnny Roselli. Scott Breckinridge and George Joannides had just handed me a highly redacted file that violated the HSCA/CIA Memorandum of Understanding mandating unexpurgated access by HSCA to CIA files. They stood by, grinning, as they watched my reaction upon opening the file to find it largely expurgated. They were grinning so hard because they knew they had waited out the HSCA and there was nothing I could do about it. The Angleton strategy still worked. It is still working today.

Joseph Burkholder SmithIt appears our lawmakers are spineless in the face of the intelligence community. Joseph Burkholder Smith (shown at a right), a retired CIA officer, told me and Gaeton Fonzi in 1978, “You represent Congress. What the f*** is that to the CIA? You’ll be gone in two years and the CIA will still be there.” To paraphrase that to fit the situation in which we now find ourselves: “You are the people that Congress supposedly represents. What’s that to the CIA? You’ll forget about it in a few weeks or so.”

But I won’t. I wrote a letter to my Senator yesterday before I saw the travesty that was the day’s release of JFK documents by NARA. Probably a futile gesture, but one I had to take anyway.

To my knowledge there has been no coverage or explanation of why the intelligence community has requested this delay of the President. It was made in secret. What reason have they given for the delay?

What kind of pressure have they brought to bear? How can they force a president to so blatantly disregard the law? If they can do this in regard to disclosure of fifty-year-old records, in what else can they exercise a like secret influence that corrupts the laws of the nation?

What affect does the existence and use of such secret power have on our democracy? If these things – not just the documents but the method of influence – remain always secret, then how can a citizenry be sufficiently informed so as to exercise their franchise to any real purpose? How can we have faith in our democracy, let alone our government, if this kind of practice is allowed to continue unchallenged?

These are the questions that I would like to have answered.

JFK Document Release Shows MLK Smear

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Washington Post, In the latest JFK files: The FBI’s ugly analysis on Martin Luther King Jr., filled with falsehoods, Kristine Phillips, Nov. 4, 2017. A newly released FBI analysis from 1968 paints this picture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: A “whole-hearted” communist who followed a “Marxist-Leninist line.”

The 20-page document, dated March 12, three weeks before King was assassinated in Memphis, is included in the latest trove of government files about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which the National Archives released Friday. It alleges that King’s political ideologies and the creation of his civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, were heavily influenced by communists, specifically the Communist Party USA. The FBI document went into great detail about one of King’s most trusted advisers, Stanley Levison, a New York lawyer and businessman who served as a top financier for the Communist Party years before he met King in 1956.

The document,  titled “MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., A CURRENT ANALYSIS,” alleged that Levison had a strong influence on many of King’s activities as the leader of the civil rights movement, from what he said in his speeches and what demonstrations he took part in, to where King’s group got its funding.

David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian who had written extensively about King, said much of the explosive allegations in the document are neither new nor true. “The No. 1 thing I’ve learned in 40 years of doing this, is just because you see it in a top secret document, just because someone had said it to the FBI, doesn’t mean it’s all accurate,” Garrow told The Washington Post, citing the infamous dossier that contains salacious allegations against President Trump.

Internal War Erupts Among Democratic Leaders Over Brazile Book

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Washington Post, Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee, Philip Rucker, Nov. 4, 2017. Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden (shown at right) in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

Donna Brazile dnc

In an explosive new memoir, Brazile (shown in a file photo) details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the removal of Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.

hillary clinton buttonBrazile writes that she considered a dozen combinations to replace the nominees and settled on Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the duo she felt most certain would win over enough working-class voters to defeat Republican Donald Trump. But then, she writes, “I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.”

Brazile paints a scathing portrait of Clinton as a well-intentioned, historic candidate whose campaign was badly mismanaged, took minority constituencies for granted and made blunders with “stiff” and “stupid” messages. The campaign was so lacking in passion for the candidate, she writes, that its New York headquarters felt like a sterile hospital ward where “someone had died.”

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Palmer Report, DNC internal memo directly refutes Donna Brazile’s claims about the Democratic primary race, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2017. Yesterday, former interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile (shown above in a file photo) published an excerpt from her upcoming book, which made the explosive claim that the DNC had conspired internally as early as 2015 to unfairly steer the Democratic Party nomination toward Hillary Clinton.

Although she didn’t say as much in her excerpt, it’s since come to light that Brazile was basing her assertion on an internal DNC memo from 2015. That memo has now leaked to NBC News, and it flatly disproves her assertion. In other words, the DNC didn’t unfairly tilt anything toward Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary – and Brazile’s own source material disproves her assertion. Former DNC Chair Howard Dean responded to the memo by tweeting that “this memo is standard operating procedure for 15 years.” John Kerry and Al Gore had similar arrangements with the DNC in the years they became the nominee. Donald Trump had a similar arrangement with the RNC in 2016.

Donna Brazile has not yet publicly responded to the revelation that she misinterpreted the DNC memo. Brazile became the interim DNC Chair on an emergency basis, just days before the start of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, in the midst of the chaotic and controversial release of stolen DNC emails. It’s possible that Brazile simply misinterpreted the memo in her haste to quickly get up to speed heading into the convention.

Book Claims Bush Presidents Did Not Vote For Trump

bush family jeb hw w reunion

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Washington Post, White House attacks legacies of former presidents Bush after reports that neither voted for Trump, Avi Selk​, Nov. 4, 2017. A book scheduled to go on sale this month quotes George H.W. Bush mocking Donald Trump as a “blowhard.” The younger Bush worried that Trump would destroy civility in the White House.

The White House on Saturday disparaged the legacies of the only two living Republican presidents to precede Donald Trump, after reports that both men castigated Trump in interviews last year and refused to vote for him.

Former president George H.W. Bush mocked then-candidate Trump as a “blowhard” and voted for a Democratic president, while the younger Bush worried aloud that Trump would destroy the idea of a Republican president in all but name, according to “The Last Republicans.” which is scheduled to go on sale later this month.

The White House response followed a CNN report about the new book in an extraordinary war of words involving three presidents from the same party.

"If one Presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had," the White House wrote to CNN. It called the younger Bush's decision to wage war on Iraq "one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history."

The book's author, Mark Updegrove, interviewed the Bushes last year — long before Trump's inauguration — and found neither wanted to see the coarse, populist campaigner become president.

George W. Bush didn't expect Trump to win the general election, according to the author.

“When Trump started to rise, I think he became concerned because he saw this populism of Donald Trump getting in the way of America's position in the world,” said Updegrove, who founded the National Medal of Honor Museum this year, after several years as director of the LBJ Presidential Library.

It's rare in the modern political era for former presidents to openly criticize their successors.

Saudi Billionnaires, Including Twitter Funder, Arrested In Power Struggle

Daily Sabah, Al Waleed bin Talal, two other billionaires tycoons among Saudi arrests, Staff and wire reports, Nov. 4, 2017. Saudi tycoon Prince Al walid bin Talal and two other heads of three Saudi owned prominent television networks were among the high profile figures who were arrested on early Sunday.

Al Waleed bin Talal (Reuters Fahad Shadeed)Bin Talal, chairman of Middle East Broadcasting Center, and Sales Kamal, owner of television channel ART and founder of the Dallah al Baraka Group (DBHC), one of the Middle East's largest conglomerates, were arrested along with Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, head of the National Guard and dozens of princes and former ministers in a new anti-corruption probe. Prince Miteb was once considered a contender for the throne.

Talal, one of the Arab world's richest men and with an estimated net worth of $18.7 billion, is also the second biggest shareholder of Twitter Inc. He is shown above right in a 2016 Reuters photo by Fahad Shadeed.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defense to the economy, Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed (shown at right) is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father King Salman. In September the authorities arrested about two dozen people, including influential clerics, in what activists denounced as a coordinated crackdown.

Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed's aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbor Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatizing state assets and cutting subsidies.

Mueller Probe Of Trump Team

Palmer Report, Robert Mueller may have just found a way to flip Paul Manafort against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2017. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s arrest of Paul Manafort this week has set off a chain of events in which other Donald Trump campaign advisers have scrambled to save themselves and incriminate each other in the process. This appears to have been Mueller’s plan all along. Manafort never was interested in cutting a deal, instead preferring to take his chances in court. But now two key developments may put Mueller in position to quickly flip Manafort after all.

The first is that the other Trump campaign adviser arrested this week, Rick Gates, failed to disclose that he had a second passport, according to a Bloomberg report. If Gates was thinking he could beat the charges he’s been arrested for, his subsequent legal violation could set up an easier crime for to Mueller to prove. If Gates flips on Manafort, it could prompt Manafort to quickly conclude that he has no chance at trial, and cut a deal. There is also another, more intriguing, development.

Tom BarrackRick Gates works for Donald Trump’s close personal friend, financial magnate Tom Barrack (shown at right). Or at least he did until he was arrested, at which point Barrack promptly fired Gates (link). Barrack is a respected public figure. There is no known evidence connecting him to the Trump-Russia scandal. His swift firing of Gates suggests that he wants nothing to do with this mess. But now Barrack has another problem.

Nov. 3

Rex Tillerson suggests regime change venezuela

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Washington Post, State Dept. letter could pave way for deporting 300,000 immigrants with protected status, Nick Miroff and Karen DeYoung​, Nov. 3, 2017. More than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians living in the United States under a form of temporary permission no longer need to be shielded from deportation, the State Department told Homeland Security officials this week, a few days ahead of a highly anticipated DHS announcement about whether to renew that protection.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown above in a file photo) sent a letter to acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke to inform her that conditions in Central America and Haiti that had been used to justify the protection no longer necessitate a reprieve for the migrants, some of whom have been allowed to live and work in the United States for 20 years under a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

state dept map logo SmallTillerson’s assessment, required by law, has not been made public, but its recommendations were confirmed by several administration officials familiar with its contents. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.DHS has until Monday to announce its plans for roughly 57,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans whose TPS protections will expire in early January.

Although most arrived here illegally, they were exempted from deportation after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998. Their TPS protections have been renewed routinely since then, in some cases following additional natural disasters and resulting insecurity.The largest group of TPS recipients — about 200,000 — are from El Salvador, and DHS has until early January to announce its plans for them. At least 30,000 of them live in the Washington area, according to immigrant advocacy groups.

According to a recent study by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, TPS recipients have nearly 275,000 U.S.-born children.

More JFK Records Released

lee harvey oswald in dallas custodyny times logoNew York Times, C.I.A. Documents Describe Lee Harvey Oswald’s Visit to Mexico, Glenn Thrush, Scott Shane, Peter Baker, Nov. 3, 2017. The vast bulk of the 676 documents made public on Friday came from the C.I.A. and had never been released before. Hundreds of pages of previously classified C.I.A. cables and reports released Friday by the Trump administration shed some new light on Lee Harvey Oswald’s mysterious visits to the Soviet and Cuban Embassies in Mexico City weeks before John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Far from suggesting that Mr. Oswald (shown in custody in Dallas after the 1963 JFK assassination) was a steely, coldblooded agent of either communist country, the documents describe the befuddlement of officials at the embassies who were overheard on intercepted calls trying to make sense of Oswald’s “poor Spanish” and “broken” Russian.

The C.I.A. station in Mexico City kept close tabs on the Soviet Embassy, using “multi-line phone taps, three photographic sites, a mobile surveillance team and a mail intercept operation,” one document said.

But a rushed examination of the surveillance files after Kennedy’s death appears to have turned up little of interest.

Instead, officials found themselves chasing phantoms: a Nicaraguan who had seen Oswald being paid for the assassination — on a day when Oswald was not in Mexico — and an intercepted call between two Cubans in Mexico City and Miami. In the call, one made a dubious claim: “Plan of Castro carried forward; Bobby is next,” referring to Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, and Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother.

ap logoAssociated Press via New York Times, JFK Files Say Rumors of CIA Link to Oswald 'Unfounded,' Nov. 3, 2017. Government documents newly released Friday regarding John F. Kennedy's assassination say allegations that Lee Harvey Oswald was connected to the CIA were "totally unfounded."

A 1975 CIA memo says a thorough search of agency records in and outside the United States was conducted to determine whether Oswald had been used by the agency or connected with it in "any conceivable way."

The memo said the search came up empty. The memo also said there was also no indication that any other U.S. agency used Oswald as a source or for recruitment.

The National Archives released another 676 government documents related to the assassination — the third public release so far this year. Under law, all the documents were to be disclosed to the public last week.

Bayazid began by creating a fictional account on Facebook using a VPN to hide his online tracks.

This Facebook account was supposed to create a background to the assassination attempt, creating an illusion that Bayazid had already been in contact with somebody he trusted about the film.

National Archives

National Archives, Never Before Released JFK Assassination Records Opened to the Public, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. 553 Newly Released CIA Documents Posted. In the third public release this year, the National Archives (whose headquarters are shown above) today posted 676 records subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act).

Last week, President Donald J. Trump ordered all remaining records governed by section 5 of the JFK Act be released to the public. The President also directed agencies to complete another review of their proposed redactions and only redact information in the rarest of circumstances. The release by the National Archives today represents the first in a series of rolling releases pursuant to the President’s memorandum based on prior reviews done by agencies. The records included in this public release have not been reviewed by NARA.

NARA logoThe National Archives anticipates several additional public releases making all remaining records governed by section 5 available to the public as expeditiously as possible in accordance with the President’s order. Each of these approximately 29,000 records, along with each of the records released today, remain subject to further review under that process.

The majority of the public release today consists of 553 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records that were previously denied in their entirety. Also included in the release are records from components of the Departments of Justice (18) and Defense (48), the House Select Committee on Assassinations (56), and the National Archives (1). Released records are available for download.

The National Archives released 2,891 documents on Oct. 26 and 3,810 records on July 24.

The National Archives established the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection in November 1992, and it consists of approximately five million pages of records. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without any restrictions since the late 1990s.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, National Archives Releases 676 More JFK Files, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. Some of the Previously Unknown Files Are Heavily Redacted. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released 676 additional JFK assassination records today. It appears that 582 were “withheld-in-full,” meaning they have never been seen by the public.

From NARA: "The majority of the public release today consists of 553 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records that were previously denied in their entirety. Also included in the release are records from components of the Departments of Justice (18) and Defense (48), the House Select Committee on Assassinations (56), and the National Archives (1). Released records are available for download."

Our initial brief inspection has indicated, however, that some of the files contain heavy redactions.

Surprise Sentence In Afghan Special Forces Deserter Case

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Washington Post, Bergdahl, captured by Taliban after abandoning Army post, avoids prison, Alex Horton​, Nov. 3, 2017. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who in 2009 walked off a U.S. military outpost in eastern Afghanistan and spent the next five years in enemy captivity, was sentenced Friday to a dishonorable discharge from the Army but will avoid prison time.

beaudry bergdahl army flagBergdahl, 31 (shown at right), pleaded guilty in October to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and had faced a maximum life sentence. He appeared shaken before the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, read his sentence, clenching his jaw as he’d done throughout the proceedings. It’s unclear how Nance arrived at his decision. The judge made no remarks after making the announcement and promptly left the courtroom.

Bergdahl’s case sparked ferocious debate over his actions and the controversial prisoner exchange that led to his release in 2014, challenging the military’s bedrock principle of never leaving a soldier behind. It was also overshadowed by President Trump’s accusation that Bergdahl is a traitor.

Bergdahl will lose all benefits, including medical care, afforded to military veterans and pay a fine of $1,000 a month for the next 10 months. His rank will be reduced to from sergeant to private. Bergdahl  left his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was later caught by the Taliban and imprisoned and tortured by militants for five years. In a military court, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He was dishonorably discharged.

Ripping Off College Students, Putting Them In Debt

Rolling Stone, The Great College Loan Swindle, How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole, Matt Taibbi, Nov. 3, 2017. It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don't.

Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees.

Take Veronica Martish. She's a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Martish's $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since.

She says she's paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. "By the time I die," she says, "I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000.

Foreign Policy Analysis: Afghanistan

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, The High Price of 16 Years of Failure in Afghanistan, Jeff Schechtman, Nov. 3, 2017. A look at how the US has favored and funded terror groups since long before 9/11.

GOP Attack On Trump Investigator Mueller

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Robert MuellerWashington Post, 3 conservative Republicans plan to demand that Mueller recuse himself in Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 3, 2017. The resolution, expected to be filed today, will claim that special counsel Robert Mueller III (shown at right) has a conflict of interest because he headed the FBI when the Obama administration approved a uranium deal involving a Russian company.

President Trump has often brought up the Uranium One deal in 2010 as a way to accuse Hillary Clinton of potential corruption and foreign collusion, despite scant evidence she was directly involved in the decision to allow it to proceed. Nine government agencies make up the government committee that reviews such deals, along with five other observer agencies; the FBI is not one of them.

The GOP also launched two congressional probes into the matter last month, questioning whether the FBI and Justice Department were looking into Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. uranium market.

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Washington Post, Longtime Trump bodyguard to face questions about 2013 Moscow trip, Carol D. Leonnig and Greg Miller, Nov. 3, 2017. One of President Trump’s most trusted confidants, a security chief who served as his sounding board for nearly two decades, will face questions from congressional investigators next week about Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow, according to people familiar with their plans.

The excursion is at the center of some of the most salacious allegations in a now-famous dossier, which contains unverified charges that Trump has vehemently disputed.

The House Intelligence Committee has called former longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller to appear for an interview Tuesday as part of its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Investigators plan to press Schiller about allegations in the 35-page dossier that Russian officials obtained compromising information about Trump’s personal behavior when he visited Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Republican House Tax Cut Plans: Analysis

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paul ryan wWashington Post, Analysis: Winners and losers in the Republican tax plan, Heather Long​, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). Big businesses and the wealthy do well in the GOP bill. The poor and those in many high-tax states do not. Blue states will be hit hardest by GOP tax plan’s limits on deductions. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is shown in a file photo.

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Washington Post, Trump is pushing for repeal of Obamacare mandate to be in GOP tax bill, key lawmaker says, Mike DeBonis​, Nov. 3, 2017. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that President Trump “feels very strongly about" using the bill as a mechanism to undo the individual mandate.

If Republicans were to pass legislation that both made sweeping tax changes and undermined the ACA, it would accomplish two of Trump’s top legislative priorities — and in one stroke reverse Republicans’ legislative fortunes after a string of legislative setbacks.

Adding the controversial health care change would further complicate the tax effort. Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate, but internal party divides make finding enough votes for tax reform a challenge, and the party already tried multiple times to repeal the ACA but was unable to find the votes.

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Washington Post, Analysis: Some corporate interests swiftly align against tax overhaul, Tory Newmyer, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). Prominent naysayers said they couldn’t support an overhaul that makes changes to both the individual and corporate side of the tax code.

Inside Washington

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Donna Brazile dnc

Washington Post, Democrats express outrage over allegations of early party control for Clinton in 2016, Michael Scherer, David Weigel and Karen Tumulty​, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). Many view the claims by Donna Brazile (shown at right) as confirmation that the party was unfairly aligned against Bernie Sanders. Throughout the campaign, the DNC and its then-chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, fiercely denied any suggestion that the party was helping Clinton over other candidates.

Climate Change Stunner In Capital

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials, Lisa Friedman and Glenn Thrush, Nov. 3, 2017. Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration’s position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.

Global News: Syrian Battle Against ISIS

Syria Deir Ezzor Siege 9 5 17 SANA

Syrian government troops are shown breaking the siege Sept. 5 of Deir Ezzor, which had been surrounded by ISIS. The government announced on Nov. 3 that it has defeated the last ISIS fighters in the city, although some remain on a small island nearby in the Euphrates River. (SANA photo.) 

ny times logoNew York Times, ISIS Loses Last Foothold in Major City as Syria Closes In, Anne Barnard and Margaret Coker, Nov. 3, 2017. Nov. 3, 2017. The loss is another blow to the Islamic State and a sign of the resurgence of the Syrian army.

SouthFront, Syrian Army Liberated Deir Ezzor. Overview Of Deir Ezzor Operation Sept. 5 – Nov. 3, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. On Nov. 3, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and the Republican Guard liberated the strategic city of Deir Ezzor after government forces retook the neighborhoods of Uthaniyah and al-Hawiqah in the northern part of the city. The liberation of Deir Ezzor is a key part of the wider effort of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian coalition against ISIS in eastern Syria. Now, government forces and their allies will be able to develop advance on the last major ISIS-held town in Syria: al-Bukamal.

Related news:

ISIS Hunters This file photo portrays some in an elite government SAA unit called "The ISIS Hunters" of military men who had family members killed or enslaved by ISIS.

syria flagSyrian Army Prepares To Attack ISIS-held City Of Al-Bukamal From Inside Iraqi Territory (Map, Photos, Video) On November 3, the Iraqi Aletejah TV channel broadcasted footage of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies inside al-Qa’im city near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Using the Iraqi territory as a corridor to attack ISIS in al-Bukamal city will allow the SAA to save a lot of time and efforts. This will also allow the SAA to reach the city before the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Iraqi Forces Storm Strategic Al-Qaim Town, Take Control Of Border Crossing With Syria. On November 3, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) started a military operation to retake the ISIS-held border town of al-Qaim located on the highway between the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the recently liberated Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. The town of al-Qaim is the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq. As soon as its liberated by Iraqi forces, the Syrian ISIS stronghold of al-Bukamal will become an obvious targets for anti-terrorist forces in Syria.

Syrian Army Is Now Only 45Km Away From Al-Bukamal City. The SAA and Hezbollah are now only 45km west of al-Bukamal city. Syrian pro-government sources claimed on November 2 that a large force of Iranian-backed fighters was deployed in the T-2 station to boost the SAA attack towards al-Bukamal. The Tiger forces will likely be redeployed to the south of al-Mayadin city after liberating Deir Ezzor city for an advance towards al-Bukamal on the Deir Ezzor–al-Qa’im highway.

As Trump Begins Asia Trip, Global Focus on Korea

ny times logoNew York Times, South Korean Leader Boxed In as Trump Threatens the North, Choe Sang-Hun and Motoko Rich, Nov. 3, 2017. President Moon Jae-in’s plans for easing tensions with North Korea have gone nowhere, and his supporters worry the Trump administration may drag their nation into war.

News As Special Counsel Probe Of Trump Campaign

jeff sessions ag o

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Washington Post, Democrats demand that Sessions explain his meeting with Russia probe cooperator Papadopoulos, Karoun Demirjian, Sari Horwitz and Adam Entous, Nov. 3, 2017 (print edition). His attendance at a meeting where former policy adviser George Papadopoulos raised the prospect of a Trump-Putin meeting came to light this week when the special counsel released court documents.

Dr. Joseph Mifsud (Valdai Discussion Club 2016 conference in Moscow handout photo via Associated Press)

Dr. Joseph Mifsud (Valdai Discussion Club 2016 conference in Moscow handout photo via Associated Press)

Associated Press via Japan Times, Putin-backing ‘London professor’ in Trump case often traveled to Russia, little known in U.K., Staff report, Nov. 3, 2017. The little-known professor suspected of being a link between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign made repeated visits to Russia in recent years, including participating in conferences at a Russian think tank favored by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Joseph Mifsud, who has been identified as the unnamed London professor who offered to set up meetings with Russian officials who could provide “thousands of emails” with damaging information about Trump’s rival, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is a vocal Putin backer with ties to several important institutions in Russia.

JFK Assassination Cover-up?

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, The Cunningness of the CIA’s JFK Assassination Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown at right), Nov. 3, 2017. Whatever else might be said about the assassination of President Kennedy, one thing is for sure: The cover-up of this particular U.S. regime-change operation was one of the most ingenious and cunning plots ever designed. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that practically from its inception in 1947 the CIA was specializing in the arts of assassination, regime change, and cover-up.

As far back as 1953, the CIA published an assassination manual that the CIA succeeded in keeping secret from the American people for more than 40 years. It came to light in 1997 as a result of a Freedom of Information request. That was around the time that the Assassination Records Review Board, which was overseeing the mandatory release of JFK-related assassination records of the CIA and other federal agencies that had been kept secret from the American people since 1963.

Today, Americans can read the CIA’s assassination manual online. Titled “Study of Assassination,” the manual spells out various ways to assassinate people. Here is what the manual states in part regarding the use of firearms: "Firearms are often used in assassination, often very ineffectively…. Public figures or guarded officials may be killed with great reliability and some safety if a firing point can be established prior to an official occasion. The propaganda value of this system may be very high."

The manual also makes it clear that the CIA was studying ways to assassinate people without being detected. Note the following excerpt: "For secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated."

It would be safe to assume that the CIA continued developing and expanding on the assassination principles enunciated in that early assassination manual. That’s what we would expect from an agency whose specialties included assassination. We can also assume that the CIA continued to refine the ways to avoid detection when assassinating someone.

The CIA published that secret assassination manual as part of its preparations for a U.S. regime-change operation in Guatemala, one that was designed to violently remove the nation’s democratically elected socialist president, Jacobo Arbenz, from office and replace him with an unelected, right-wing, pro-U.S. military general.

As part of the Guatemala regime-change operation, the CIA prepared a list of Guatemalan officials to be assassinated. While the CIA has never revealed the names of the people it targeted for assassination, there is little doubt that Arbenz, the president, was at the top of the list. There is something important to note: Neither Arbenz nor any other Guatemalan official had ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.

Media Miscues On Monica Lewinsky, Sex Scandals

Daily Howler, At the New York Times, the editorial board just can't quit that intern, Bob Somerby (media critic), Nov. 3, 2017.

Monica LewinskyThey returned to her last Sunday, in a fiery editorial which revealed their ongoing moral greatness. As it turns out, the board is opposed to sexual harassment and sexual assault.

In the course of displaying this soul-stirring fact, the editors returned to their girl: "Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal."  [Now age 50, she is shown in a file photo.]

The "intern" to whom the savants refer is, of course, Monica Lewinsky. For the record, President Clinton did indeed show very poor judgment in conducting that sporadic (consensual) affair. But did he conduct that sporadic affair with an "intern," as the editors say? Well basically, no, he did not. The editors can't seem to quit the story they and their guild have so loved.

In fact, Lewinsky was 22 — almost 22 and a half! — when the sporadic affair began. In fact, she was 22 to 24 years old during its actual tenure.

Technically, she was still an intern in November 1995, when her first encounter with Clinton occurred. But she had already accepted a full-time federal position, which she would begin within roughly a week. As such, she was an intern for roughly one week over the course of the several years during which she and Clinton conducted their sporadic affair.

She was an intern for roughly one week!  But because our journalists want to enjoy life so badly, they didn't want to describe, and rail about, an affair with a federal employee.

Global News: Afghanistan and United Nations

Common Dreams, 'Seminal Moment' as ICC Chief Prosecutor Seeks Probe of US War Crimes in Afghanistan, Andrea Germanos, Nov. 3, 2017. In a move that could implicate U.S. military forces and the C.I.A., the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor on Friday said she would be asking the Hague-based body to begin a probe of possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

"This is a seminal moment for the ICC," said Solomon Sacco, head of international justice at Amnesty International. "Justice for victims of the Afghanistan conflict has taken far too long to arrive, but investigations like this one are the reason the Court was set up—to provide a last chance for justice when states parties have failed to deliver it."

Nov. 2

President Trump signing papers oval

ny times logoNew York Times, Lawsuit May Allow Female Accusers to Challenge Trump, Megan Twohey, Nov. 2, 2017. During his campaign, Mr. Trump (shown above in a file photo) said the women who accused him of sexual misconduct were liars. A defamation suit could give them a chance to confront him again. While allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in recent weeks have drawn wide public support and prompted quick response, women who came forward during the presidential race with accusations against Donald J. Trump said they spent the past year feeling dismissed and forgotten.

“With Trump, it was all brushed under the rug,” said Temple Taggart, who claimed Mr. Trump kissed her on the mouth when she was competing in his Miss USA pageant in 1997.

But that could change if a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Mr. Trump of unwanted sexual advances is allowed to proceed in New York State Supreme Court, a legal ruling that could come before the end of the year. Lawyers in the suit sought a subpoena seeking all Trump campaign records related to his female accusers. If the case advances, the accusers could be deposed, going up against Mr. Trump yet again.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit — Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Mr. Trump’s show “The Apprentice” — is represented by the law firm of Gloria Allred, who has helped bring cases against Bill Cosby and other high-profile defendants. They claimed that Mr. Trump defamed Ms. Zervos during the campaign when he repeatedly described her and other accusers’ accounts as “lies” and “nonsense” and said the women either were being put forward by his opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign or were motivated to come forward by getting “ten minutes of fame,” according to the complaint.

See also: Brett Ratner, Prominent Producer, Accused of Sexual Misconduct ; and U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon Quits Over Inappropriate Conduct.

New York Terror Attack

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Drops Idea of Sending Suspect to Guantánamo, Peter Baker, Nov. 2, 2017. The president also called for the man to be executed, a public intervention in the case that could come back to haunt prosecutors in any future trial.

GOP Proposes Tax Cuts For Big Business

Kevin BradyRoll Call, House GOP Tax Bill Keeps 39.6% Rate for High-Earners, Cuts Corporate Rate to 20%, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 2, 2017. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (shown at right) gathering feedback for changes to be made before Monday markup.

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Washington Post, GOP tax plan to lower cap on mortgage interest deduction to $500,000 loans, Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 2, 2017. House Republican leaders today unveiled legislation that would overhaul the U.S. tax code and jettison numerous tax breaks that Americans and businesses have used for years to limit their taxable income. The release of the proposals launched into motion a frantic political effort that could impact almost every American. House Republican leaders on Thursday proposed legislation that would overhaul the U.S. tax code and jettison numerous tax breaks that Americans and businesses have used for years to limit their taxable income.

irs logoThe release of the proposals launched into motion a frantic political effort that could impact almost every American. In a number of cases, the tax plan cuts back on tax benefits for families and individuals while expanding tax benefits for companies.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and collapse the seven tax brackets paid by families and individuals down to four. It could create giant new benefits for the wealthy, cutting business taxes, eliminating the estate tax, and ending the alternative minimum tax.

JFK Assassination Records

Intrepid Report, Reflections on how little is revealed by just-released JFK assassination documents and just some of the many reasons why there had to be a conspiracy, John Chuckman, Nov. 2, 2017. In the recent, and supposedly last, release of files pertaining to the Kennedy assassination, most of the corporate press did not dwell on the fact that the most important and secret files were kept from the public, but, of course, that was actually the big story.

Billionaire Bannon Patron Retires From Hedge Fund

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Donor Mercer to Step Down From Hedge Fund, Matthew Goldstein and Kate Kelly, Nov. 2, 2017. Robert Mercer, a billionaire investor who is a big financial backer of many conservative causes and a patron of the former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, is stepping down as co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, the giant hedge fund.

robert mercer gettyMr. Mercer (shown at left) sent a letter to investors and pension advisers on Thursday morning in which he said he would step down. A copy of the letter was reviewed by The New York Times.

In the letter, Mr. Mercer said he would leave his post on Jan. 1, 2018, and would also leave the hedge fund’s board. He said he would remain active on the research side of the fund, which makes trades using complex mathematical equations.

The one-paragraph letter to investors did not give a reason for Mr. Mercer’s decision. His involvement in conservative politics became a lightning rod for criticism during and after the presidential election.

steve bannon heritage foundationDescribing himself as a fan of small government, he sought to distance himself from polarizing figures, including Mr. Bannon. “I have great respect for Mr. Bannon (shown at right), and from time to time I do discuss politics with him,” Mr. Mercer wrote. “However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”

breitbart logoMr. Bannon now works at Breitbart News, a conservative news outlet that has been funded in part by Mr. Mercer. In the letter on Thursday, Mr. Mercer said that he was selling his stake in Breitbart to his daughters “for personal reasons.” Beyond donating to political campaigns, Mr. Mercer was a large financial backer of Cambridge Analytica, a voter-data firm that worked with the presidential campaign of Mr.  Trump.

But in a letter to the employees of the hedge fund, with the subject line “past, present, and future,” Mr. Mercer acknowledged the public scrutiny he has faced since President Trump’s election.

Inside Washington

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Nominee Sam Clovis Withdraws From Consideration for Agriculture Department Post, Eileen Sullivan, Nov. 2, 2017. Sam Clovis helped supervise the foreign-policy team for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia.

The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said. “The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.”

Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.

wayne madsen screen shotSacramento Bee, No: Right-wing interests salivate at thought of stripped-down census, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 1, 2017. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Wayne Madsen (shown at left) is a progressive commentator whose writings have appeared in leading American and European newspapers. There are plenty of interests, most of them with dubious intentions, that would like to abandon the way the U.S. Census Bureau traditionally conducts its decennial "hands-on" counting of the population of the United States.

The Trump administration and its political backers understand that to control the outcome of the census is to control the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The state-by-state apportionment of 435 House seats and the allotment of 435 of the 538 presidential electors between the states are based on the latest census.

There are those on the political right who insist the Census Bureau should concentrate its efforts on merely counting heads, without any regard for collecting statistics on race, age, ethnic group, gender, and income level.

washington post logoRobert MuellerWashington Post, Opinion: The other huge scandal Mueller brought to light this week, Dana Milbank, Nov. 2, 2017. Robert Mueller (shown at right) brought to light a huge scandal this week, and it has nothing to do with Russia. He has introduced the world to Sam Clovis. Clovis, we now know, was the Trump campaign official who oversaw George Papadopoulos and encouraged his efforts to meet with Russian officials. But what’s more interesting than what Clovis is is what Clovis isn’t.

For those who had not heard of Clovis before (which is pretty much everybody), he has been nominated to be the chief scientist at the Agriculture Department, a position that by law must go to “distinguished scientists,” even though he is, well, not a scientist. He is a talk-radio host, economics professor (though not actually an economist, either) and, most importantly, a Trump campaign adviser.

President Trump promised to “hire the best people.” And, as scientists go, Clovis is an excellent talk-show host. Among his scientific breakthroughs: being “extremely skeptical” of climate change, calling homosexuality “a choice,” suggesting gay rights would lead to legalized pedophilia, pushing the Obama birther allegation, and calling Eric Holder a “racist bigot” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino.”

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kaya henderson croppedWashington Post, Former D.C. schools chancellor ‘reprimanded’ by ethics board for giving preferential treatment, Valerie Strauss​, Nov. 2, 2017. An investigation by the D.C. Inspector General’s Office found that Kaya Henderson, who led the school system from 2010-2016, granted special treatment to well-connected people who sought special school placement for their children.

The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability last month issued a three-page “public negotiated disposition” spelling out details of the reprimand. It says Henderson (shown above at right) violated the city’s Code of Conduct by granting permission for some people — including a White House official, an employee of the mayor’s office, a district principal and a former classmate — to choose the school they wanted their children to attend even though other D.C. families had to go through a competitive lottery system.

The reprimand closes the book on the episode, as there is no penalty attached to it.

Former DNC Chair Alleges Excessive Clinton Control Over Democrats In 2016

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Washington Post, Donna Brazile says Clinton campaign hijacked DNC during primary battle, Aaron Blake​, Nov. 2, 2017.  he former interim head of the Democratic Party just accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of “unethical” conduct that “compromised the party's integrity.” The Clinton campaign's alleged sin: A hostile takeover of the Democratic National Committee before her primary with Sen. Bernie Sanders had concluded.

Donna Brazile's op-ed in Politico is the equivalent of taking the smoldering embers of the 2016 primary and throwing some gasoline on them. (She is shown at right in a DNC photo.) Just about everything she says in the piece will inflame Sanders's passionate supporters who were already suspicious of the Democratic establishment and already had reason to believe — based on leaked DNC emails — that the committee wasn't as neutral in the primary as it was supposed to be.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who comes from the Sanders wing of the party, just told CNN in response to Brazile's op-ed that the she believes the 2016 Democratic primary was "rigged." The elevation of this issue by Warren, a possible 2020 contender, will certainly turn heads.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Oliver Stone Was Right about the CIA, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov. 2, 2017. I can’t decide which is more amusing: the CIA’s use of “national security” to justify keeping secret its 50-year-old records in the JFK assassination or the mainstream media’s response to the continued secrecy.

On the one hand, the CIA’s use of “national security” to justify keeping 98 percent of the still-secret records is palpably laughable. However one defines that nebulous term “national security,” one thing is patently clear: Nothing — absolutely nothing — would have happened to the United States if the CIA had been forced to let the American people see its still-secret, 50-year-old JFK records on October 26, 2018, as the 1992 JFK Records Act mandated. The United States wouldn’t have fallen into the ocean. The federal government wouldn’t have turned Red.

After all, what happened to the United States when only 2 percent of the long-secret records were finally released last week? Nothing. The United States is still standing and the commies have not taken over the federal government. But don’t forget: For more than 50 years, the CIA has maintained, falsely as it turns out, that disclosing those 2 percent of its records would threaten “national security.”

Courts and Crime Around the Nation

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Washington Post, How a fired prosecutor became Louisiana’s most powerful law enforcement official, Radley Balko, Nov. 2, 2017. This past June, the Louisiana legislature passed 10 bills tackling sentencing reform, prisoner rehabilitation, and related criminal-justice reforms. The New York Times editorial board called the effort “one of the most ambitious criminal-justice reform packages in the country.” The reforms took effect recently, and supporters cite a Pew Charitable Trusts study that claims that the bills will reduce the state’s prison population by 10 percent over the next 10 yea

There’s a good case to be made that the bills are historic. The state’s incarceration rate is about double the national average. If it were an independent country, Louisiana would lead the world in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizens. And even as much of the rest of the country began moving toward decarceration years ago, up until this recent series of bills, Louisiana only continued to get more punitive. So any move toward decreasing the state’s prison population would be a landmark shift in strategy.

TPM, In Midst Of Russia Probe, Papadopoulos Pondered Run For Congress, Book Deal, Allegra Kirkland, Nov. 2, 2017. Being under federal investigation hasn’t stopped former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos from trying to advance his career. Four months ago, shortly before he was arrested for lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian nationals during the campaign, he asked his followers on LinkedIn for their “thoughts” on him pursuing a congressional run.

george papadopoulos linked in croppedIn October, around the time he pleaded guilty to those allegations, he expressed interest “in meeting with prominent publisher” and queried his LinkedIn connections for recommendations. And just a week ago, before his case was unsealed, Papadopoulos put out a call for “speaker bureau recommendations.”

U.S. Allied Force In Syria Alleged To Use Former ISIS Beheader

isis member ahmad holding head

Some allege that the humanitarian medic and ISIS member portrayed in these photos (including one at the side) portray the same man in Syria

Directorate 4 blog via SouthFront, ‘SDF Medic’ Shown In RT Documentary ‘The Road To Raqqa’ Appears To Be Former ISIS Member – Report, Staff report, Nov. 2, 2017. Directorate 4 blog noticed a peculiar thing in RT-produced semi-documentary film “The Road to Raqqa,” broadcasted in September of 2017. (link to the RTD website) The text below is based on the post released by Directorate 4.

ISIS member rt screenshotOne of the centerpieces of the documentary is an interview with a male nurse of an improvised hospital in a part of Raqqa. Adham, the male nurse, tells a real tear-jerker of a story about him joining the Kurdish forces. “In Aleppo I fought against ISIS,” Adham says. “Somebody told them about me, and I was caught and imprisoned.

Then Adham tells about the tortures he had to endure. It turns out the poor victim of Islamic State was could [sic] be a terrorist. The video shows the man that looks like Adham in the uniform and even has him holding a cut off head of an unknown person.

More Anti-Syria Propaganda Involving Fake News Assassination Plot?

The New Arab, Exposed: Syrian movie director faked own 'foolproof' assassination attempt to finance prison abuse film, Staff report, Nov. 2, 2017. A Syrian film director working on a movie detailing the Assad regime's prison abuse "planned and faked" his own assassination attempt to help promote his work, an investigation by The New Arab has revealed.

Muhammad Bayazid was in Turkey last month promoting his film The Tunnel, which documented torture at Syria's notorious Tadmur prison, when he was allegedly stabbed in the chest.

Bayazid, who studied film-making in the US, claimed the attack was an assassination attempt by Syrian regime agents, apparently because of his work. The film focuses on the story of a Syrian-American man who spent 20 years in Palmyra prison, where thousands of opponents of the Assad regime were tortured and summarily executed.

However, one of Bayazid's producers, Mohammed al-Hindi, filmed conversations with the director, which revealed that Bayazid was planning to fake his assassination. The videos appear to show conversations that took place between May and June, with Bayazid trying to co-ordinate his own assassination in attempts to finance The Tunnel by gaining sympathy for being targeted by Assad's goons.

"Arabs, Arabs, Arabs... When they see that this project has taken the spotlight, they will start donating," he is heard saying in the clip. "The nationality of the attacker has to be Syrian," Bayazid purportedly tells al-Hindi. "It makes sense because I am around Syrians and a Syrian right now would be the one who would be most likely to hurt me. I am in Saudi Arabia right now and almost everyone I am meeting with is Syrian."

muhammad bayazid sarnah safi bayazid film promo Custom 2The Guardian, a London newspaper with deep ties to British intelligence, is one of the outlets that heavily promoted the supposed news report that the film maker had survived an assassination attempt.

The newspaper's article, Syrian film-maker making prison torture movie survives 'assassination attempt,' by Istanbul-based Kareem Shaheen was dated Oct. 11, 2017, was illustrated by the attached film publicity photo of Bayazid and his wife.

The article began: "Muhammad Bayazid stabbed in Istanbul on Tuesday night, as he sought funds for project detailing Assad regime abuses at notorious Tadmur prison" and continued: “Last night he was very unstable, he was stabbed in the chest close to the blood vessels that provide blood to the heart, so there was massive bleeding,” Samah Safi Bayazid, Muhammad’s wife, told the Guardian by phone. “Thank God he is awake and conscious.”

Media: Union Foe Shuts Outlets After Vote

ny times logoNew York Times, Gothamist and DNAinfo Shut Down After Union Vote, Andy Newman and John Leland, Nov. 2, 2017. Reporters and editors at the local New York news sites joined a union last week. On Thursday, their billionaire owner closed the sites. A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union.

On Thursday, they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down. DNAinfo and Gothamist, which Mr. Ricketts bought in the spring, attracted more than 9 million readers a month, in New York and other cities where they operate satellite sites, DNAinfo said.The decision puts 115 journalists out of work, both at the New York operations that unionized and at those in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington that did not. They are getting three months of paid “administrative leave” at full salary, plus four weeks of severance, DNAinfo said.

Nov. 1

New York Daily News, Manhattan terrorist identified as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uber driver from Uzbekistan with ties to Florida, N.J., Rocco Parascandola, Thomas Tracy and Leonard Greene, Nov. 1, 2017. The terrorist accused of plowing a rented truck through a crowd of bicyclists and pedestrians in lower Manhattan has been identified as an Uber driver from Uzbekistan with ties to Florida and New Jersey.

sayfullo saipovSources said Sayfullo Saipov (shown at right in a mug shot) jumped a curb along West St. and rumbled along a bike and pedestrian path for nearly four blocks, crushing people in the unsuspecting crowd shortly after 3 p.m. Eight people were killed in the attack. Six died on the scene, and two died later at an area hospital. Police sources said the suspect left a note proclaiming his loyalty to ISIS in the truck.

Saipov, 29, who was driving the truck believed to have been rented in Passaic, N.J., also lived in Paterson with his wife and small children, sources said.  Saipov is originally from Uzbekistan, and came to America in 2010. Investigators believe he came to the country legally.

Police stopped Saipov in Mount Holly Springs Borough, Pa., in March 2015 and he gave police a Paterson address, according to NJ.com. Witnesses said Saipov jumped out of the truck after he plowed through the crowd and screamed “Allahu Akbar!” — “God is great” — in Arabic after the crash.

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Washington Post, Trump calls for end to immigration lottery program following attack, Philip Rucker​, Nov. 1, 2017.President Trump said Wednesday that he is considering sending the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in Tuesday's terrorist attack in New York to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the United States must be "much tougher" with its treatment of terror suspects.

Donald Trump official photoTrump also called on Congress to immediately dismantle the State Department's Diversity Visa Lottery program, through which authorities have said the suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, came to the United States from Uzbekistan. “Diversity lottery — sounds nice. It's not nice,” Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with his Cabinet. “It's not good. It's not good. It hasn't been good. We've been against it.”

 Trump said the United States needs a system of "punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They'll go through court for years... We need quick justice, and we need strong justice."

Trump said that terrorists are “constantly seeking to strike our nation,” and that keeping the country safe will require the “unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence professionals.”

Referring to Saipov as an “animal,” Trump said the 29-year-old was responsible for the entry of 23 immigrants, many of them family members. The president said this “chain migration” endangers national security.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Driver Said to Plan for Weeks; Had Ties to Terror Suspects, Bejamin Mueller and Michael Schwirtz, Nov. 1, 2017. As investigators looked into whether the attacker had ties to terrorist organizations, it became clear that those close to him had feared that he was heading toward extremism.

ny times logoNew York Times, Police Officer Ryan Nash Ended New York Rampage With 9 Bullets, Sarah Maslin Nir and William K. Rashbau, Nov. 1, 2017. Sayfullo Saipov sped a rented truck down nearly a mile of a Hudson River bikepath on Tuesday afternoon, crushing eight people to death and injuring 11 more, before crashing in front of Stuyvesant High School in TriBeCa.

Then he began to run. But at Chambers Street, there was Officer Ryan Nash.

Officer Nash fired nine shots at Mr. Saipov, ending the worst terrorist attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001. The police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said Tuesday that one bullet struck Mr. Saipov in his abdomen. Mr. Saipov, who the police say is responsible for the attack, was brandishing two weapons, which turned out to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun.

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Washington Post, NYC attack probe expands overseas as officials dig into suspect’s life, Renae Merle, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, Nov. 1, 2017.  Investigators in Uzbekistan combed records and intelligence reports on militant factions after the suspect in the deadly Manhattan truck attack was identified as Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from the Central Asian nation. It comes as U.S. officials try to learn whether Saipov acted alone or had possible connections to wider militant cells. At least eight people were killed when the driver of a truck plowed into a bike path.

Trump Throws Health Care Into Tax Debate

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IRS logoWashington Post, Trump throws curveball in tax talks, says bill should include Obamacare changes, Damian Paletta, Nov. 1, 2017. President Trump on Wednesday said congressional Republicans should make a major change to their upcoming tax cut bill by including changes to the Affordable Care Act, an idea that has divided the GOP for months.

Kevin BradyThe idea had already been rejected one day earlier by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex., shown at right), who had said it risked bogging down the process. But Trump, in two Twitter posts Wednesday, pushed the idea, which has gained currency with some Senate Republicans. The biggest proponent of the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

It could not be learned whether Trump’s Twitter posts were simply a musing or an official change in administration policy. The posts came just a few minutes after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) talked about the exact same idea during an appearance on Fox News Channel.

The White House had previously said it wanted to pass a tax-cut bill first and then revisit the health-care effort in early 2018. It’s also unclear whether it would be logistically possible to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as “Obamacare” — as part of the tax bill, because they must meet certain congressional rules set by the Senate budget process.

 Inside Washington

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stephen bannon cropped npc 2013Washington Post, Trump resists mounting pressure from Bannon and others to fight Mueller, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Nov. 1, 2017 (print edition).  A number of the president's prominent allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon (shown in a file photo), believe the president needs to take a more combative approach against Robert S. Mueller III and the Russia investigation.

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Washington Post, Russia investigation charges complicate Trump’s Asia trip, ability to sell tax cuts, John Wagner and David Nakamura, Nov. 1, 2017. Aides insisted the twin challenges at home and abroad would not be undermined by the indictments, but the frustration of the president was evident Tuesday. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew Weissmann, Legal Pit Bull, Is Unleashed in Inquiry, Matt Flegenheimer, Nov. 1, 2017. Mr. Weissmann brings decades of experience prosecuting Mafia heads and white-collar crime to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Kushner-Trump Financial Woes, Conflicts

jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Kushner partner all but kills plan for Fifth Ave skyscraper, Bernard Condon and Garance Burke, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). A grand plan once spearheaded by Jared Kushner to rescue the biggest deal in his career by razing a Fifth Avenue skyscraper and building luxury apartments in its place is all but dead, the co-owner of the building said Tuesday.

The comments from Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth suggest that Kushner’s most ambitious purchase will continue to bleed money — tens of millions a year — as a deadline for repayment of the giant mortgage on the office building nears. Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump (shown in a file photo with her husband), sold his personal interest in the tower, the family’s flagship property and headquarters, before joining the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.

Kushner bought the famed aluminum-clad skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue for a record $1.8 billion a decade ago when he was CEO of Kushner Cos., at the time mostly known for thousands of garden apartments in suburbia. Then he almost lost the building to lenders. Roth swept in with a rescue plan in 2011, offering cash in exchange for a big ownership stake.

Democrats' Future

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Barack Obama Family portrait high resWashington Post, Obama’s next act? Chicago summit hints at how his post-presidency will take shape, Karen Tumulty and Krissah Thompson, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). And now it begins, with a two-day Chicago summit launching his foundation and hinting at his next moves. This was the way Barack Obama had imagined these years would be.

Former President Barack Obama (Chicago Summit Oct. 31, 2017)He started thinking about it long before the shock of President Trump’s election, before the rout of his party that would be the coda to his two terms in office, even before he stood on the frigid grounds of the Old State House in Springfield in February 2007, and declared he was running for president.

bo robert wolf ubs golf CustomA decade later found him here at the opening of a two-day summit to launch his foundation and yet-to-be-built presidential library. (Obama is shown in a file photo golfing during his presidency with the U.S. head of UBS, Robert Wolf.)

“When I asked myself after the presidency, ‘How could I have an impact?,’ ” Obama said, “the thing that was most exciting for me was the idea of creating a hub, a venue, a place, a network in which all of these young people across the globe and across the country, that all of these young people from every race, and every background and every religion could start meeting each other, and seeing each other and teaching each other and learning from each other.”

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Washington Post, Opinion: The midterms are Democrats’ to lose. And boy, are they trying, Dana Milbank, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). It would seem that the midterm election is the Democrats’ to lose. And you can be sure they will try their best to do exactly that. Democrats seldom miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Several recent incidents of self-sabotage have already proven the great Will Rogers adage: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Civil Rights

Politico, Guantanamo prisoner asks judge to halt prosecution after defense lawyers' exit, Josh Gerstein, Nov. 1, 2017. An alleged Al Qaeda terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay is asking a court in Washington to halt his prosecution in a military commission after most of his legal team quit over confidentiality concerns. A Defense Department attorney for Saudi national Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who is charged with masterminding the deadly attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000, filed motions Wednesday morning asking U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth to put an immediate stop to the military commission process.

Future of Freedom Foundation, One Year Later, Is Trump a Blessing or a Curse to the Deep State? John W. Whitehead, Nov. 1, 2017. One thing is for sure: a year into his presidency, Trump hasn’t done much to improve the lot of the American people. The predators of the police state are still wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.

The government still doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it still refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it still treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers are still shooting unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents — including local police — are still being armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies are still fleecing taxpayers. Government technicians are still spying on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors are still making a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

Crime and Courts Around the Nation

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Washington Post, Trial opens for Marine drill instructor accused of abusing Muslim recruits during whiskey-fueled assaults, Rory Laverty, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). A third Muslim military recruit has been added to the list of alleged victims of a Marine Corps drill instructor accused of terrorizing and abusing young men under his care.

During their opening statements at his court-martial here Tuesday, military prosecutors said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix put two Muslim recruits inside an industrial clothes dryer at the Marines’ storied recruit training facility in Parris Island, S.C. — starting it in one case. He’s also accused of repeatedly slapping another Muslim recruit seconds before the young man jumped three stories to his death.

Felix is charged with cruelty and maltreatment, obstruction of justice, drunk and disorderly conduct and failure to obey a general order. He has pleaded not guilty.

Twenty Marine drill instructors were swept up this year in a broad investigation into claims of hazing and physical abuse targeting recruits at Parris Island, which the tradition-obsessed Marines consider hallowed ground. The scandal shocked the military community and appalled those in Congress with oversight of the armed forces. Several of those instructors face court-martial. One was already acquitted.

Daily Beast, Gitmo Judge Convicts U.S. General—Because He Stood Up for Detainee Rights, Spencer Ackerman, Nov. 1, 2017. Brigadier General John Baker protested the government’s surveillance of Guantanamo Bay defense lawyers. And that got him sentenced to 21 days in confinement. The Guantanamo Bay military tribunals on Wednesday won their first conviction without a plea deal since 2008. Only it wasn’t a terrorist who was convicted – it was a one-star Marine general sticking up for the rights of the accused to have a fair trial.

In defending the principle that attorneys ought to be able to defend their clients free from government surveillance, Brigadier General John Baker was ruled in contempt of court and sentenced to 21 days in confinement. He also must pay a $1,000 fine.

Baker is a senior officer within in the highly controversial military commissions process: the Chief of Defense Counsel. Maj. Ben Sakrisson, the Pentagon spokesman for detentions, confirmed that Baker is being confined in his quarters – at Guantanamo Bay.

“The military commissions are willing to put people in jail for defending the rule of law,” Jay Connell, who represents another Guantanamo detainee facing a military commission, told the Daily Beast. “If they’re willing to put a Marine general in jail for standing up for a client’s rights, they’re willing to do just anything.”

Another Media Sex Scandal

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michael oreskes headshot file CustomWashington Post, NPR’s top editor placed on leave after accusations of sexual harassment, Paul Farhi, Nov. 1, 2017 (Print edition). NPR (National Public Radio) is investigating allegations by two women who said the head of its news department made unwanted physical contact with them while he was employed by another news organization nearly two decades ago. The women, both journalists at the time of the alleged incidents, made the accusations in recent weeks against Michael Oreskes (shown in a file photo),  senior vice president of news and editorial director at the Washington-based public broadcasting organization.

npr logoIn response to the allegations, NPR said Tuesday that it has placed Oreskes on indefinite leave. In separate complaints, the women said Oreskes — at the time, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times — abruptly kissed them while they were speaking with him about working at the newspaper. Both of them told similar stories: After meeting Oreskes and discussing their job prospects, they said he unexpectedly kissed them on the lips and stuck his tongue in their mouths. Both of the women spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity so as not to damage their employment prospects.

The alleged incidents occurred in the late 1990s, the women said. Oreskes joined NPR in March 2015 after working at the Times and the Associated Press in senior editing roles.

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Washington Post, ‘House of Cards’ suspends production indefinitely amid Kevin Spacey scandal, Bethonie Butler, Nov. 1, 2017 (print edition). Netflix's first original TV series, which helped changed the way we watch TV, is heading toward an unceremonious end.